Monthly Archives: December 2009

Vote for this man and help Hugo Boss democratize the modelling world via social media!

My friend Andre Zaremba has entered the Hugo Boss Runway Model Contest on Facebook.  (Is he hot, or what?)  You can vote for him there.  Just find him via the search box and vote.  He has also created a Facebook fan page.

Hugo Boss will select one male and one female winner who will walk the catwalk at the Boss Black Fashion Show in Berlin on January 21, 2010.  The event will be live streamed on Facebook.

Andre asked me for ideas on how he might rack up the votes.  Here’s what I told him.  Perhaps there are some ideas for you to promote your own personal brand.

Happy holidays!

Hi Andre,

here are a couple of thoughts.  The cool thing is that your fans can vote for you once every 24 hours.  Since they’ve already done it, they’re likely to do it again.  So they’re the ones from whom you are most likely to source the votes you need. “Strategically” it makes sense to give them a little nudge each day but do it in a way that’s interesting/entertaining, not annoying.  You do that by creating some content, that’s fun or interesting to watch, look at and read, indeed so fun and interesting that it’s “spreadable”.  I.e. people will send it on.

You could set up a YouTube page, give it a theme title related to the Boss contest, shoot a short video each day (do you have a Flip camera?) and post it there.  For example, each daily video could be about a different reason “Why Andre will be the Boss model to die for.”

Video 1 “Andre has a great body” (Andre posing like a muscle man in a bathing suit)

Video 2 “Andre has class” (Andre reading the Royal Opera House bulletin)

Video 3 “Andre has great taste” (Andre eating pate)

Each day a new video.  And each day you send the link to your network, post on your Facebook page, etc.  Get the drift?

Add a “call to action” text with a link to the contest.  And a call to action to “Please send this video to your friends.”

You could easily do the same thing as still-photos that you send out in an email to your fan base every day, or as a message on Facebook.

Set up a Twitter account.  You could build on this theme there and send out tweets to your Twitter followers.  A Twitter post can contain links to your Facebook fan page, or to the photos.  But you’ll need to build a group of followers fast.  First, search all your friends to see if they are on Twitter.  Then there are all sorts of offerings that help people build their followers fast. I don’t remember off hand any specific ones, but if you search “Twitter follower” on Google you find one.

Check out Buzzom.  This is a service that let’s you find Twitter users who are more likely to follow you because you have a common interest.  (Click on the people search option and then on bio).  Important is that the little bio on your Twitter home page reflects that interest.  So your bio might include words like style, fashion, aspiring model.  Buzzom lets you find others with those words in their bio and enables you to follow them several hundred at a time, and a day or two later, delete those who didn’t follow you back.  You can then repeat the process, and there’s a tool that allows you not to repeat following the people you’ve already contacted.

I like the idea of creating a blog.  Again make it fun, and about your quest to win the contest.  Send the link to all your friends, and invite them to send it to others.  Post daily or more often – your posts could be blog-appropriate versions of the above, you could update your followers on the number of votes, talk about your latest idea to help win votes, you could even ask your blog readers for their ideas.  Makes sure to include invites in the side panel for you readers to receive automatic notifications of your posts via RSS feed or email.  I use WordPress and it’s pretty easy to set up.

You should register at StumbleUpon and Delicious.  StumbleUpon is a site where people find sites, web pages, blogs, etc. by entering key words relating to a topic.  Delicious is a public bookmarking site. When you’ve registered, you can pretty much post any content to them with tags relating to the content (so again in this case your tags might be fashion, style, Hugo Boss, Hugo Boss contest, and other related words).  People searching StumbleUpon and Delicious can discover your content in this way (e.g. your YouTube page) and may vote for you.  Especially if they encounter engaging content and a clear link to the voting page.

Consider if there is anything you can give your community of fans that they would spread to others.  So maybe you could leverage that great body of yours to make a calendar, or post card of some sort, that straight gals and gay guys would send to their social online networks.  Think in that direction. What else could you create online that’s fun, related to the contest, that people would like to spread to their networks.  Of course whatever it is, include a call to action to vote for you and a link to Boss page where they can vote.

So those are a few things off the top of my head.  Now I have to go and vote for you again.

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Pioneer Woman — how marrying a cowboy can turn you into an emerging web 2.0 superstar

The Pioneer Woman is Ree Drummond, a former city girl who met a cowboy, married him and ended up “in the middle of nowhere” with four kids on a cattle ranch.  Her original blog, which she started writing in 2006, has grown into a significant online media property.

As beautiful and polished as it looks — the photography and overall layout of the site are fantastic — and that fact that Ree clearly has a good instinct when it comes to creating a personal brand and public identity, she still manages to maintain her honest, down-home, “I’m just a wife and mother out in the boonies like you” soul.  Perhaps this, as well as her many recipes presented with easy-to-follow photos, is what keeps her estimated 2 million monthly readers (according to the LA Times) coming back to the site.  The photo archives of Charlie, the basset hound who thinks he’s a cattle dog, is just my favorite among many examples of the content on Pioneer Woman that keep it intimate and personal, indeed sometimes just down right corny.  (You can’t say that about Martha Stewart!)  It also helps that Ree has a style and a way with words that I suspect connects perfectly with her audience — like the way she refers to her husband only as Marlboro Man.

Pioneer Woman shows how web 2.0 enables us all to share our personal passions, lifestyle, thoughts and ideas with anyone, anywhere, and that even a mother-of-four, thousands of miles away from a media metropolis, can transform those passions into a commercial media property, while staying true to herself at the same time.

Still, it can’t be easy.  Wife, mother, household, 2000 head of cattle.  How does she do it?  It’s a challenge for me to write this blog at least once a week.  And the only animal (or child) around here is a parrot.  (Uh oh.  I hear him in the bathroom throwing the shower stopper around.  That means he wants to take a bath.  Gotta go!)

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A fun activity for Christmas if you’ve failed to board the social media train so far — enroll in SMUG

Two-thousand-and-nine will go down as the year when social media and marketing finally moved beyond the fishbowl of early adopters and entered the marketing mainstream.

I first started getting involved with social media in lurker mode — that is, subscribing to blogs, listening to podcasts, digesting the emerging literature on the topic, but not personally writing or commenting — toward the end of 2006.  As my interest and knowledge grew and I began to breach the topic with colleagues and clients, no one knew what the heck I was talking about.  Even at the beginning of 2008, when I began this blog, there still wasn’t a whole lot of attention being paid to social media by mainstream marketers or the press.

In the meantime, every other article in Advertising Age touches on some dimension of social media, CNN and other traditional media outlets invite you to follow them on Twitter, my clients are experimenting and creating social media staff positions, Ford’s Scott Monty, who was virtually unknown outside the social media fishbowl three years ago, is a marketing superstar, and even my 86 year old mom is on Facebook.  If there’s anyone left in the marketing community who hasn’t at least thought there is something definitely HAPPENING out there, he or she must be living under that proverbial rock.

Okay — but what if you’ve come late to the train?  You’ve recognized something is going on, but for whatever reason — you’ve been buried under the weight of your anachronistic to-do list, your boss has his head in the sand (or worse places) when it comes to social, or 2009 was the year you finally got to the final round of American Idol — you just haven’t had the time to look into it.

Here’s what you do.  Go to SMUG — Social Media University Global.  SMUG — an unfortunate acronym, as there is nothing smug about it — was created by Lee Aese.  Lee is the manager for Syndications and Social Media for the Mayo Clinic and has been a pioneering innovator in the application of social media strategies in health care.  (I have written previously about the Mayo Clinic’s social media efforts here.)

Enroll in the SMUG curriculum.  That sounds kind of old fashioned and boring, but it’s anything but.  The SMUG curriculum consists of Lee’s own clear and concise explanations of social media strategies and tools, as well as links to articles, blog posts, etc. relevant to the topic at hand, authored by others active in the space.  Add to that a good dose of charm and humor that Lee brings to the party and you’ll find that getting up to speed on the new world of social media and marketing can be an awful lot of fun.  Best of all, it’s free.

So in between the figgy pudding, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and your annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, why not log in to SMUG this holiday season and give yourself a gift that will truly last the whole year long and beyond.

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Social media may be creating a generation of dummies

I blog, therefore I am?

Steve Rubel is SVP, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, and a social media and marketing thought leader.  I respect him tremendously.  But when interviewed recently by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on their podcast For Immediate Release, he said something that disturbed me profoundly.  He mentioned that he had given up his standard blog and was now only micro-blogging.  The reason, he said, was that people no longer have the time to read.

He’s wrong.  It’s not that people no longer have the time to read.  It’s that they no longer have the desire to read.  Because they don’t think it’s important.  That’s disturbing.

But what’s even more disturbing is the apparent readiness of thought leaders in social media to accept this fact and by words and deeds to further encourage it.  When instead they should be leading the discussion that this is something we should perhaps be concerned about.

Why be concerned?

Because ideas, analysis and opinion usually require more than 140 characters.  Because a successful society needs a citizenry that can think, and evaluate the validity of an argument.  I’m not saying that every member of the population needs to make The Journal of Foreign Affairs his or her favorite Sunday afternoon reading.  But I do think the greater the number of people who are at least capable of reading an article in The New York Times from start to finish, without becoming confused or disinterested, the better it will be for our country and the world in general.

Democratization of the creation and distribution of information is great, but what good is it if we’re creating a generation of information consumers that is intellectually incapable of separating the informational wheat from the chaff?

Unfortunately, by word and deed, there’s much that goes on in the web 2.0 world that I’m concerned may be breeding a generation of dummies.

Words and deeds that bother me

Our infatuation with all things visual vs. written word

Don’t get me wrong.  I love YouTube as much as the next man. But although pictures may speak louder than words, they don’t necessarily speak more intelligently.  My concern has less to do with video itself – after all, there is fantastic video content on TED Talks – but that so much video favors the superficial, the snackable. With people becoming seduced by the endless amount superficial, snackable video out there, they are developing an appetite for content, and only for content, that is the intellectual equivalent of cotton candy.  And soon their systems won’t be capable of digesting anything else.  The philosopher said Cogito ergo sumI think, therefore I am,  not I snack, therefore I am.

I also believe, though I have no scientific evidence to prove it, that there is a greater depth of involvement with information when we take the time and apply the concentration required to read something.  We also may stop, and ponder a paragraph, before reading further, which we’re less likely to do when watching video.

Our obsession with churning out content – twitter posts, blog posts, comments – for the sake of our Google juice

Does anyone talk about quality vs. quantity anymore?  We’re all suffering from information overload.  But the sad thing is that a good deal of the overload is sifting the garbage from the stuff worth engaging with.  How about posting a little less, and thinking a little more?

Giving in to the lowest common denominator

This is what Steve Rubel has done.  And when a thought leader like Steve does it, it’s doubly concerning.  It’s what the TV network news stations did two decades ago, turning organizations that had formerly helped to inform and intellectually empower a nation into a mirror in which the nation’s most unflattering features were merely reflected.

The dismissal of learning for learning’s sake

Lately I’ve heard buzz among social media “thought leaders” about the worthlessness of a college education.  “Nothing that I learned in college prepared me for what I do to day.”  The first thing I would say to that is, if most of what you’re doing today are the kinds of things I’ve written about above, then that reflects more poorly on you than your college education.

I would agree that there is much I learned in college that is no longer relevant to what I do today.  But the most important things I learned are more relevant than ever.  I learned how to think, I learned the importance of investigating opposing points of view, I learned critical analysis, and I learned to value intellectual integrity.

And as far as the “no longer relevant” things are concerned, that’s beside the point.  College was a time of exploration and discovery, of things I might learn and become, and  things I wouldn’t.  I am thankful that I had that opportunity, an opportunity many never have the privilege to enjoy.

What we can do?

Well for one, we can start talking, as I am in this post.  And encourage further conversation.  The more we talk and discuss, the more this discussion will spread.  And if it even gets one person to start thinking about the importance of getting a complete picture on an issue, reading different points of view about it, or in general just taking the time to read and be exposed to different ideas and perspectives, and thinking critically and thoroughly about stuff – well that’s a good thing.

I wish more of us would resist the temptation to post, post, post – flooding the blogosphere, Twittersphere etc. with endless streams of information, half of it bogus, self-promoting, superficial or simply spam.  Post when you have something useful to say, or found something that you have taken the the time to read and come to a conclusion as to whether it’s really worth spreading or not.  If not, use that time posting for something more worthwhile — like reading.

Break free from you own compulsion to read and follow everything and everyone.  My God, how can you possibly follow more than a few hundred people on Twitter and not feel overwhelmed.  Be selective, be critical, take the time to really read what people are sharing with you and make decisions about which of those people are really worth hearing from.

Keep blogging, and podcasting, not just micro-blogging.  Big ideas, themes and points of view require more than 140 characters.  If all we feed our audiences is the equivalent of intellectual cotton candy, then we are accessories to the crime of turning their minds into mush.

Finally, talk about this.  Share your thoughts with others.  The more people talk about this, the more we can help to create a web 2.0 culture that still values quality of thought and writing, intellectual discipline and integrity, and validation of sources, facts and information.  And to cultivate a web 2.0  community that doesn’t simply surf,  snack and spread, but thinks, analyzes and informs.

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