Exciting Update, Article & W20 SXSW Video

Exciting Update, Article & W20 SXSW Video

A lot has happened over the last couple of months.  Most importantly, Spredfast and Mass Relevance merged this month to form a 350 person Social Marketing Platform company, for which I am pleased to serve as Chief Customer Officer.  Lots more to come on that and the marketing at the speed of life made possible by the combined technologies.

In March, the folks at Entrepreneur were kind enough to publish me.  Please visit them here to read the full text of Woo Loyal Customers For Life with 4 Winning Ways.

And during SXSW, I participated in the WCG’s W2O Group Pre-Commerce Summit.  The video and slides from this 10 minute talk here:

Bonus: I address my very loud green jacket IN the video.

Austin: Social Business Capital of the World

Austin: Social Business Capital of the World

texas bumper stickerIn the summer of 1998, I left the only place I’d ever lived – the East Coast – to start a life in Austin, TX.  The recruiting pitch for Austin (memorialized in the Fast Company article Insanity, Inc) offered the opportunity to be part of an exciting company doing unprecedented things in an unexpected place.  Austin was going to become “Silicon Hills”.  A place where talent would be attracted for the high quality lifestyle and low cost of living, and venture capital would fall like rain.  And did I mention it was 70 degrees in January and the company had a fleet of speedboats?  None of that hurt, either.

The promise of Austin turning into Silicon Hills seemed optimistic even to a gullible college graduate, but I have to admit, it has pretty much come true exactly that way.  Stalwart tech hardware employers like Dell, AMD & Freescale spawned many of the entrepreneurs who went on to found & fund here in Austin launching companies like Bazaarvoice, HomeAway, & Spredfast to name a few.  And this success only attracted more like minds to the city.

Ogilvy doesn’t have a current physical office here and yet, you could say the whole city is our office.  We hold meetings at Shady Grove, Texas Honey Ham, learn about new companies at Dominican Joe’s and I can learn more about what is cracking in town at a barbecue or a shopping trip than I could in a month of conference calls.  Beyond the individuals who work for our company alone, we are part of a thriving community of like-minded social professionals who have chosen for one of a host of reasons to make Austin home.

In the words of Kate Neiderhoffer, Quality of life in Austin is simply higher than in the more fast-paced, cut-throat, nail-biting enclaves of the US. Austin is the perfect mix of intellect, athleticism, family-friendliness, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. And like attracts like: this unique combination makes us the most ripe breeding ground for social business – thinkers and doers. You won’t believe the people you run into at Whole Foods headquarters… People often dream of moving to NYC. Living in today’s Austin makes me wonder whether people will soon dream of someday making it in Austin with the same tenacity.

The part that no one would could have predicted was the fact that beyond “tech”, Austin would attract and develop a huge amount of social business talent (maybe Silicon Hills was meant to become Social Hills).  I am proud to be part of the next phase of Austin’s growth and development into the World Social Business hub.  And I’m especially excited for the coming week – when the rest of the social practitioners from around the world join us for margaritas, inspiration, and a slice of the Austin experience at SXSW.  On behalf of all of us who have gone “all in” on social & Austin, Welcome Home.

This post part of a blog ring of social business leaders from around town, check the links below for the takes of:

Kathy Mandelstein, of IBM and Austin’s Social Media Club

Peter Kim, Dachis Group via Forrester

Aaron Strout, head of location based marketing for WCG and the “stroutmeister”

Greg “Chimoose” Matthews of WCG

“Turbo” Todd Watson of IBM

And brother Spike Jones, of Fleishman-Hillard

4 Takeaways from SXSW 2010

4 Takeaways from SXSW 2010

This year’s SXSWi was a cacophony of parties, cowboy hatted street teams and networking with a few panels and prepared speakers tucked in between. My extreme desire to sift logic from chaos and the peace of a few hours of distance has left me mulling the following 4 takeaways:

Content Creators Must Get Paid – If you braved the distraction of a fire alarm and came back into the building, you were privy to an educated man’s verbal smackdown the likes of which I had not previously seen in public – Marc Cuban vs. Boxee’s Avner Ronen. Cuban artfully beat the drum that pay tv is going to continue to dominate (and that cash is king –  jabbing at Boxee’s “revenue free” model again and again). Avner had a bit of a “home audience” advantage being surrounded by self-admitted geeks who don’t like paying for anything. But if stolen internet content wins – who will pay for great content to still be created? TV shows do not have the same tour-for-cash out that music artists have used to weather the a la carte iTunes model. Later speaker Ze Frank also mused this same dilemma – being unable to monetize his awesome web content, but unable to break into the Hollywood revenue model in a meaningful way. I have no idea what the future holds, but someone needs to get paid or the only shows being made will be for the least common denominator.

Publicizing Public Information is a Violation of Privacy – If you followed the tweetstream from Austin this weekend, you probably saw that the most substantive traffic from any session seemed to come from the very meaty presentation from MSFT-based social network researcher danah boyd (@zephoria). This is a talk that will be worth watching in its entirety (read the transcript here), but if I was struck by one takeaway it is the difference between “public” information – information that can be obtained in some way – and information that we want publicized. danah boyd strongly believes that taking something that someone has written on a public site – say a forum about travel – and using it an ad or republishing it on an aggregator – is a violation of the author’s privacy because it violates the social norms and reasonable assumptions under which the author originally shared. It was a great reminder to begin all digital strategies with the purpose of adding value to all audiences – readers and content creators alike.

QR Codes are Coming – Previously categorized as “big in Asia”, SXSW badges boasted QR codes that, with the addition of an “app for that”, allowed users to share their information with the capture of an encoded 2D barcode. The advent of this technology is just another reason to think about danahboyd’s talk and what you decide to keep private, public, or publicize in social media.

Geolocation is a Foregone Conclusion – While pre-SXSW discussion seemed to be dominated by “geolocation is the new Twitter” discussion, by the time we got to the event, it was simply accepted as a given and everyone was on to the next topic. The only discussion I did hear was a bit of debate between hometown fave Gowalla and Foursquare.

Back to the Heart of Texas

Back to the Heart of Texas

Austin SignThe Miracle family is packing up and headed back to Austin!  While the prospect of packing and physically moving isn’t fun for anyone, we know we are headed back to a city we love and that is crackling with stimulation and opportunity.  As an added bonus, they tend to not have blizzards there.

Career-wise, this move is part of Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence’s continued growth.  As we have added more digital strategists, teams and projects around the country, we have developed a need for someone to be able to move freely about the country to focus on the development of people and processes and I managed to bamboozle John Bell that I am just such a person.  As such, I am thrilled to continue with the team as the Head of Digital Strategy, North America.

And what does this mean for you?   If you live in Austin, it means I want to buy you a margarita.  If you’re coming to visit for SXSW, look me up.  If you are looking for an opportunity with 360 Digital Influence, it means you have come to the right place as my first priority is to add new talent to our ranks around the network.   What I hope it means for you as a reader of this little corner of the web is that there will be years to come of continued learning from a passionate WOMM practitioner working with an amazing team.

Your SXSW Vote Appreciated – 2 days left!

Your SXSW Vote Appreciated – 2 days left!

Like many other voices in the social media echochamber, I am part of a panel that us up for consideration to be included in the 2009 edition of SXSW Interactive. The Viral Garden’s Mack Collier has assembled some humbling company for a panel that he calls:

Co-Created Marketing: Embracing Your Customer Evangelists Online

Helping brands, associations, social change initiatives, and any other group of people with a purpose identify and embrace their evangelists is something about which I’ve learned a lot – through both successes and mistakes – and I would love the chance to share some of that live in person.

I am not sure what I could say about fellow panelists LinkedIn Chief Blogger Mario Sundar and Church of the Customer / Society for Word of Mouth‘s high priestess Jackie Huba that Mack did not say better here, so I will simply leave you with the info on the panel and a request for your vote. The Panel Picker will close August 29!

1. Go to http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/users/register
2. Fill out the form and submit it
3. Check your email and follow the verify link
4. Go to http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/2006
5. Give the idea 5 stars.
Hope to see you there.