Friday, September 28, 2012

Social Media Week Recap Part II

In case you missed part I, clearly nothing here will make sense, so be sure to check that out too.

As you probably know, I've been attending a ton of events at Social Media Week Chicago the past few days. They've all been good, but some have been really great.

So, picking up where I left off on Wednesday:

Wednesday Night

After getting the Part I blog up, I got to sessions on building a community (featuring @SteveGOGreen of #FoodieChats fame), the revenue impact of social media hosted by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and checked out a pretty cool social experiment at Sapient Nitro.

You always pick up one or two really great takeaways (like the fact that Social consumers are 3x more likely to tell others about a positive experience!), so I feel that I made good choices there. Plus, the event at Sapient Nitro featured some very cool and thought provoking posters, so I'm hoping they'll share them online.


In the open, I talked about all the events being good and some being great -- Thursday was great. Two sessions specifically provided a lot of value. Jay Baer's session on The Now Revolution was really good; not only did he talk about social media strategy, but he also went into actual details moreso than many of the other sessions. I'm definitely going to be investing in his book, he's got some really brilliant stuff.

The other session that I really enjoyed was the Social Media Club of Chicago's panel Thursday evening. I was told last night that I'm a suck up (you know who you are), but I am going to throw a few bouquets out to the panel, organizers, and sponsors who did a great job (@calebgardner, @cm_socialmedia, @deutche, @jwillie, @laurahoots, and @wiredprworks).

But, what I enjoyed about the session was that it felt really social. So many of the events could have taken place at any conference across the country and you wouldn't have thought twice. People attend; speaker speaks; questions are answered; we're shuffled on to the next event. But this is a conference about social media -- and I think that the more interactive you can make the sessions, the more effective they are. And if you check out the #SMCChicago tweet stream, you'll see that this was in fact a really interactive session, which was both fun and insightful.


This was my first Social Media Week experience and I enjoyed it. I got to meet many of the social rockstars that I felt like I knew already from their online personas which was cool, but I also got to meet a lot of great new people that I look forward to socializing with.

I always tell people that social media is about the people and the message, but the people first. It's amazing that we can connect with people all over the place and I love continuing to strengthen the relationships I've formed with my favorite social people (I'd throw more bouquets, but don't want to get called a suck up again!). The people are what makes social such a transformative movement.

The one thing you hear at every social media event is 'how can I help you?' That's the crux of what social is, helping others, and not expecting anything in return, other than that maybe somebody will be able to help you if you ever need it. It's simple, but powerful.

Stay social my friends, and I'll see you at #SMW13!

What sessions did you go to? I'd love to hear from other folks to see how their experience was.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Impressions of Social Media Week Chicago at The Halfway Point

In case you've been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks or have absolutely no interest in social media (how dare you!), you're likely aware that this week is Social Media Week, a worldwide event hosted across more than a dozen cities worldwide. As someone that's now participated in a handful of events, I think I'm somewhat qualified to provide a quick summary of the first half of the Social Media Week experience.


I had family obligations on Monday, so I couldn't partake. However, from what I could see on Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and other social channels, the highlight was definitely the kick off party at Rockit Bar & Grill. From the few pictures I saw, everyone had a great time and got even more "social" as the night went on...


There were a bunch of great sessions on Tuesday. The one I enjoyed the most was titled "Social Media -- You're Doing It Wrong!!" and featured a great panel of speakers including @socialkaty, @lgdrew, and others. It provided great context around key social media strategies and reminded us that understanding the social tools is important, but understanding your business goals is the key.


Today I've attended sessions around paid and earned Twitter offerings and how social media impacts the hiring process (moderated by social media rockstar @douglasLmiller). Tonight, I have plans to attend sessions on building a community (featuring @SteveGOGreen of #FoodieChats fame), the revenue impact of social media, and I'll even participate in a social experiment. It should be interesting if nothing else...

As I tweeted the other day, the best part about social media week is the people that you get to meet, so if you're out and about and see me, please come say hello.

So far, Social Media Week has lived up to the expectations I had and I think the best is yet to come. I'll report back in a few days with a recap of the second half... Hope to see many of you at the Social Media Club of Chicago event tomorrow night!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Will Facebook Make Reunions Unnecessary?

This past weekend, my wife and I watched the latest in the American Pie series, American Reunion, and enjoyed it. All of the main characters from the original were back (even though that wasn't the case for some of the other sequels), and a cast know for making audiences laugh did their part. However, once the movie was over, my mind flipped to social media and made me wonder: "will Facebook make reunions unnecessary?"

What's the Point?

Reunions are a big deal to many people, including my parents who now have an annual reunion because their graduating class has remained close many decades after graduation. And they really do it up! They enjoy connecting with their long time friends, learning about how their jobs are going, how fast their kids are growing up, and the other usual "reunion" chatter.

But think about it, with Facebook, don't you already know the answers to the majority of those questions? Of course you do. You see them answered in daily posts, photo galleries, profile updates, and more. Certainly Facebook doesn't replace the human interaction element (which is of huge importance), but if definitely changes the conversation quite a bit.

What Reunions Likely Will Look Like

Do I think reunions are going away -- not for a long, long time. But I do think they will eventually, go away, and here's why.

If you're like most people, you're probably connected to 95% of the people that you truly want to keep in touch with either through social media channels, true friendship, kid's sports, etc... Getting together every 10 years to see the other "5%" probably isn't going to be as big a draw as it was before technology evolved.

I love that I don't have to wait ten years to find out that a buddy I haven't seen for fifteen years just had their third child, or that a college friend owns one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago -- that's great information, and I'm so happy for them. But I love consuming that on a daily basis - not a once per decade basis.

We continue to get more and more connected, which is why I think reunions will become unnecessary for the simple fact that we'll all be more in touch than ever. And while I think it's entirely possible that the next stage will be virtual reunions via Google Hangouts or something as a way to connect people that are geographically dispersed, I do think it's just a stepping stone towards extinction.

For those that don't like reunions, this is good news. No more awkward conversations. No more feeling shitty because you can't remember that dude's name. And ladies, no more dealing with the drunk divorced guy that had a huge crush on you in high school...

Reunions have served a great purpose, but I think they may have run their course.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

In a Minute: 3 Sessions I'm Really Looking Forward to at Social Media Week 2012

Social Media Week 2012 starts next Monday and I'm really excited about so many of the sessions. However, the video below touches on three sessions that I'm especially excited for. If we're "online" friends and haven't met "offline" yet, but have a chance to cross paths next week, I'd love to connect. I hope to see many of you there!

For more information about these sessions please visit the links below or search for the following hashtags on Twitter:
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bears and Packers, How to Beat Your Company's Rival

It’s football season again and that means that most of America is giddy with excitement and hope for the new season. And while the NFL has creeped beyond being a Sunday afternoon affair with prime time games several nights a week, there’s nothing quite as exciting as a rivalry game, and perhaps none better than the game the kicks off this week’s slate Thursday night, the Chicago Bears at the Green Bay Packers.

Bears/Packers is the oldest rivalry in the NFL and its games have featured legendary icons like Halas, Lombardi, Butkus, Favre, and Payton, to name a few. What makes it even more interesting is to hear players and coaches talk about a game, because that’s not really something we get to do in business. In an article posted recently, the article talks about the familiarity these teams have with each other and how that affects their game plan. In essence, they know each other so well that they’re not going to make any drastic changes to their strategy – they’re going to make minor tweaks and stick to what they know best.
Now think about that in regards to your top competitor. Chances are, you know they are going to be in involved in a lot of your deals. How well do you know what they’re going to do and what they’re going to say? Odds are, you know their pitch pretty well, even though you’ve likely never seen it. Yet, knowing that, how often do you find yourself trying to outsmart them with something new or catchy?

The thing is, we try to outthink ourselves too often in business and vary our plan of attack instead of staying with our strengths (which by proxy, allows your competitor to stay with their strength). In the end, I think this backfires far more often than it succeeds.
Think about a pitch where you totally changed your strategy based on what you thought a competitor might be coming in with? Did you roll out a new deck? Custom build all sorts of proof of concept code? Bring in high level execs?

Did it work? I’m guessing it didn’t, and it likely made you look like some combination of nervous/desperate/unorganized because the team probably hadn’t pitched in that configuration before. Clients pick up on that.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t personalize your experience for every client – you absolutely should! But the elements that you personalize should be similar so that the overall experience is 85% the same, 15% personalized, for each engagement. You’ll be more confident in delivering the message and the client will be more responsive to it because of that.

A rivalry means that both teams are winning a lot, otherwise, if it’s lopsided, it’s not really a rivalry (think Indiana basketball vs. Northwestern basketball). If your competitor is constantly beating you, maybe you need to change your strategy. But, it should be a fundamental change in strategy, not something crazy you thought of after two 5-Hour energy drinks and a Red Bull.
Be consistent in your message. Learn it well and deliver it often. Don’t try to be too cute. These concepts will help ensure that you gain (or maintain) the upper hand over your rival.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m predicting a 24-14 Bears victory Thursday night. Bear down!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What the 2012 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Tells Us

Gartner recently released its 2012 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management and we’re excited to share that Ektron has moved into the Leader’s Quadrant (which is where you want to be). It’s an exciting step forward that helps validate our company and product’s direction. But for me, as someone that’s been around web content management (and really the many flavors of content management in general) for the better part of a decade, it’s interesting to read these kinds of reports to see not only what they’re saying about our product, but also our competitors, and the market as a whole.
After reading through the latest version, it’s indeed confirmed a couple of thoughts that I’ve long agreed with as part of the space:
  1. Most products can meet 50% to 60% of core functional requirements; they’re definitely not going to do it all the same way (as evidenced by where they place), but features like WYSIWYG authoring, workflow, taxonomy, and search will be found in most products. That means that when you’re evaluating web content management (WCM) tools, it’s important to focus on the differentiators of each product, weighing how important they are as opposed to the common functionality.
  2. It’s not just where you are, it’s where you’re going; reports like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant often discuss the company (and product’s) strategic direction. It’s important to understand whether that direction aligns with your needs. WCM is not a short-term purchase, so it should not be purchased with only your initial needs in mind.
  3. Being on top might not make your product the best fit; it’s easy to look at any ranking system and assume that the top ranked solution is the best product. However, it’s important to understand the ranking system and see how the solution’s rankings are identified. Some of the criteria that pushes one solution higher may have absolutely no bearing on your needs, so it probably shouldn’t be a determining factor in your evaluation.
  4. Best of breed seems to be the consensus direction; a common theme in the report discusses the concept of an all in one or best of breed solution and from what I can tell, it seems to be clear that the upper mid-market and enterprise space is really favoring the best of breed approach (which is good, because that’s the approach Ektron takes!). A one-size-fits-all approach simply isn't practical in organizations where "good enough" simply isn't good enough.
I definitely encourage you to download the report (it’s free!) if you’re interesting in learning more about the web content management space in general or if you have an upcoming project. However, I’m always interested in your feedback and I’d love to hear what you think of what Gartner has to say not only about Ektron, but about the market as a whole.
Please comment below or tweet at me to let me know what you think!

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Friday, September 7, 2012

You Could Have Been Bait

I was driving over to the car dealer today to get something fixed and I passed by a gas station that had a 'Live Bait Sold Here' sign out front. I know that this is not uncommon in the country, but 15 miles from downtown Chicago, it caught my attention.

Ironically, the first thought that went thru my head was "Damn, it has to suck to be born into this world as bait."

I mean, you don't really get to live a life as a minnow and then die with family around you -- you're basically bred to be fed to bigger fish. You think about the conversations we have to have with our children; think about what that conversation between papa fish and baby fish must be like.

We all want more than we have. You can tell me otherwise, but you're lying. It's why we go to Vegas. It's why we play the lottery. It's why some choose to lie, cheat, and steal (for good or bad reasons). We all want more of something (love, money, etc.), and whether we're male or female, old or young, Republican or Democrat, we all need to take time to reflect and thank the good Lord that we weren't born into this world as bait.

It's all relative my friends. There's not really a lesson in here other than to realize that the grass isn't always greener, and that maybe, just maybe, things are better than they appear.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Has Social Media Changed How You Travel?

In my line of work (sales), I'm on the road -- a lot. Strike that; I'm up in the air -- a lot. And because of that, it can be really hard to keep up with family and friends, and really what's happening around you.

But social media has provided a great help to me for dealing with that. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow me to keep up with what everyone's doing, where they're going, and the like. It's made being away from everyone for extended periods of time, a lot easier (not that being away is ever easy).

But there are a couple of key things that I think social media has really done to make traveling easier:

1. The obvious one -- If I can't be there with you, let me at least stay updated what you're doing
As alluded to above, being able to connect with people via social media sites like Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter, allow me to keep up with what's happening, even if I'm not there physically.

2. If you can't see me, let me show you what I'm doing
Sites like FourSquare and Instagram provide great avenues to share what I'm doing (as well as the aforementioned sites). Most of my travel is not glamorous (Jackson, MI anyone?), but sometimes there are cool sights that I want to share with my friends and family, and these tools allow me to do just that.
Not a bad view, no?

3. Man, I've been here forever...
Probably the best thing social media has done for travel is to help pass the time. Whether it's sitting on the tarmac, in the lounge or at a restaurant in the airport, social media sites provide a great way to pass the time, without just browsing random articles. Whether that's true for everyone or not, I don't know, but I do think it's better to spend time interacting with your friends than reading random news articles and whatnot.

4. Influencing where to go/stay
When I book travel, I'm not only interested in being close to where my meeting is, but also staying somewhere that others have recommended. Reading comments and ratings not just for the hotel, but for local restaurants and attractions is really an important factor. Without social media, that's not happening.

So, has social media changed how you travel? And if so, how?

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