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Midwest Minnesota Twitter Meetup

Digital Ghosts – Dead with Zero Footprint

I had a younger cousin pass away a few weeks ago.  We hadn’t spoken in probably a decade.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to talk to him, but life gets in the way.  You know?  I’m sure you have a family member(s) you haven’t connected with in awhile.

Before making the trek to “God’s Country” for the funeral, I decided to look him up online.  Nothing.  Nadda.  Zero.  We sometimes take for granted all the content, ideas, things we share that help people shape an opinion of who we are or in his case, were.

I’m not close to any of his friends, so I’m left wondering details of his life for the past 10 years, and there’s nothing to fill that void left with any digital footprint.  He’s a digital ghost.

Newspaper of the Future Questions

We’re about a week away from Apple unveiling a tablet computer, and the New York Times to announce some payment option.  There’s so many questions surrounding how the news industry will survive.  Online ad revenue is not supporting the news websites.  This leaves us with subscription service platforms like iTunes and Amazon to provide these services for traditional print news.  This leaves me with a lot of questions.

  • If all newspaper websites go to subscription services, will inbound linking diminish to a trickle?
  • Will news organizations police all blogs and social platforms for usage infringement of their material?
  • Will torrents play a role in distributing news like it did with the music and movie industry?
  • Will newspapers, magazines, and  local TV news start to look identical in product?  Newspapers with more video / TV with more writing

It seems pretty clear devices like the Apple Tablet, netbooks, and even future eReaders will provide a platform and distribution system for delivering rich content and experience, but does the newspaper industry have the chops to provide a product worth paying for again?

Designing for the Future (Literally)

I laid in bed, unable to sleep, like most other nights my mind zoomed through dozens of scenarios.  It dawned upon me that a logo design, that was a alternate concept for a client, was actually a perfect fit for a new project.  The thing that freaked me out the most, the colors matched exactly, and the shapes “hearts” made more sense for this project (which is heart related).  So how does a concept that was nearly 5 years old, find more a home that makes more conceptual sense?  I did the design for a project that didn’t exist, yet given a long enough timeline and enough projects, it’s bound to happen.  Has anyone else experience this kind of design deja vu?

Who Killed the Blogger Review?

With the new FTC blogger guidelines going into effect on Dec. 1 2009, I had to pause for a second, and figure out how we got here in the first place. does a pretty concise overview of what’s being changed in the FTC Act, which is the first update since 1980. even has an update that the IAB is finally getting involved.  Every story I read about these guidelines, triggers my BS alarm.  The whole thing sounds so silly, rediculous, and proposterous, that I can hardly believe it’s actually going to happen. claims the blog-for-money business was worth $1.35 Billion in 2007.  The FTC claims it’s not after bloggers, but agencies, and brands that use this online tactic.  At $11,000 per violation of non-disclosure, it can add up pretty quick for something agencies have very little control over.  It doesn’t stop at blogs, but could happen on sites like twitter, facebook, and virtually any platform.  Obviously enforcing this will be next to impossible, so this begs the question, why are they doing this?  This has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past couple months.  The next question is, who gains most from this update to the FTC Act?

The Suspects:

Big Media: The past couple years have been rough on traditional media advertising.  Many budgets are shifting to online, and it’s not a trend because of reduced spending during the recession.  We’ve all seen the projections, and newspapers, television, and radio are all on the decline.  If you essentially kill any organized online advocacy, where else are companies going to spend in their advertising and marketing budgets?  Bingo!  The ole’ standbys.

Traditional Advertising Agencies: Let’s face it, they’re the biggest pusher of big media budgets.  Blogger advocacy programs are a drop in the bucket, in terms of dollars, for these guys.  They’d prefer to do it, like they’ve been doin’ it for decades, take their media commission and run.  They dislike anything digital, and fight change.  They just want it back to the way it was before the internet.

The Big G: Government has a pretty bad track record in terms of keeping up with technology legislation.  They’re usually years late to the table.  So it’s suspect that this is even being handled by them, at this juncture.  It’s a small section of spending, and there’s no way to enforce other than by fear.  I highly doubt this was their idea.  It completely reaks of power play by Big Media, and traditional advertisers have nothing to loose by keeping their mouths shut through this ordeal.

I think this whole thing smells like BS!

The Phone Call is Dead!

Just like the death of the phone booth, the phone call is on it’s way out. How often do you reach a voice mail when you dial someone? How often do you actually leave a voice mail? Do people respond faster with text message? Do you get more rapid response off of sites like Facebook and Twitter, or even IM?

I’m tired of leaving voice mails, people never check them, or if they do, they respond after the urgency is past. I’m close to done with this medium of communication, at least done paying for it.

How have @chuckumentary and @lorika13 influenced you?

Measuring Online Conversation – Social Media ROI

I’m going to be honest.  I haven’t completely cracked this nut.  My gut tells me I’m going down the correct path, but I don’t have all the answers.  I’ll give you what I have thus far, and a glimpse of where I’m going with this problem.

My motivation for answering the Social Media ROI equation, stems from our clients’ needs.  They want proof, and I’m going to do my best to give them that proof.

In the most simple terms, if you believe that positive word of mouth generates an increases sales, then increasing word of mouth online should logically have a similar effect.  This is my starting point.  It sounds simple, but it has become a lot more complex, as I started peeling back the layers.

My next step was to look for correlations of month to month sales data, with increases or decreases of online mentions of brand x.  We had some initiatives to spur an increase in online conversation of brand x.  You could see the increase, it was very apparent, and there was a lag effect from the inception of the campaign.  It generated initial momentem for the span of about 1 month, then it hit a plateau, but sustained for about 3 additional months, then settled down to a day-to-day volume that was still 100% increase from before the initiative, where it still sits today.

When looking at sales data, from whatever source, you have to take into account numerous data points which affect this overall number.  Distribution changes, mechandising changes, TV, Print, Radio, FSI, Consumer Confidence, the wind blowing a butterfly in Africa, but seriously, there’s a lot that effects that number.  This is where a good analyst can sift through those data points, and give you a clearer picture of influence.  This is why it’s much easier for small business, who don’t always put money into those areas, see a much more dramatic increase in sales from an increase in positive online coversations.

So what does something like that look like?  Well, Mark Addicks – CMO of General Mills, showed the audience at Blogwell exactly what it looks like (via @josephrueter).  It maps online conversations/mentions of Fiber One to sales data.  According to General Mills, online conversation was the second leading driver of sales, while distribution was number one.

And I rest my case.

London School of Economics study finding an increase of online share of voice of 7% increased a business growth by 1%.

Recording Device Ban

Recording Device Ban, originally uploaded by TaulPaul.

Friday’s Macy’s Glamorama event is probably one of the most well produced, anticipated, and fun charity events in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro.  This year was no different.  We had a great time for a wonderful charity.  One thing did change this year.

The Orpheum Theater housed a couple thousand event goers to a specticle of fashion, and A-list performances.  I toted along my Canon Vixia HD video camera, and my iPhone 3G to tweet my perspective of the show, with some pictures being uploaded to Twitpic.  I was also able to grab some video with my video camera.  The unfortunate part of the experience was security’s constant nagging of pictures being taken.  I’m accustom to this experience, as it happens all the time.  I’ve been asked to stop taking pictures and video in all sorts of different establishments, and always comply.  I personally was never asked to stop recording at the Glamorama event, but always wonder why the policy is never made clear from the get-go.  Like the sign illustrates above, as an establishment, you must set an expectation to a have grievance.  This year’s security personnel finally gave up.  Unlike previous events in the last couple years, the shear volume of patrons recording and documenting their experience was too vast to control.  The entire row of 20-something women in front of me, each had a device, recording their experience at will.  That was about a dozen people to try and control.  It was literally impossible for security to make them all stop, so they basically quit asking.  That was the first experience of mine where this has happened, and wonder if this is the first step into a more open experience for people to freely document their experiences at concerts and events.

Have you had similar experiences?

Update:  To be clear.  The point of this post is not to pick on the staff at the Orpheum or organizers of Glamorama, as this experience is pretty normal for all concerts and events.  The purpose is to open a dialogue about how this experience needs to change.

The Future of Online UX (User Experience)

There, I said it. We won’t be talking about “Social Media” 5 years from now. It will be roped into the practice of UX or Experience Design. How do I know this? Well, if I go back to my roots in online gaming (which I do for forecasting purposes), there was a movement in the early days of id Software and the game Doom. Gamers were editing, and creating their own game maps/levels (UGC). Some of the creators even ended up getting jobs in the gaming industry (sounds similar to Atari). Fast forward to today’s games. For the most part, game designers set the in-game rules. They allow for content to be created in their world, and give the players tools to enhance and build their experience, but ultimately control their world. I sort of see Facebook as a very immature version of a MMORPG, and whether it’s a video game or your life, they are both starting to look like games.

This poses the question, “Are you a game creator, or a player of the game?” This is where I see UX and Experience Design swallowing what we know as “Social Media”. I can tell you the average time a person plays World of Warcraft in a sitting, blows the average time someone spends on Facebook out of the water. To think that we haven’t even incorporated more than two human senses (sight and sound) into this game, is profound. When we get to a point with UX where we tap a third and fourth sense, it’s game over (no pun intended).

SMBMSP 16 @deluxecorp and @partnerup HQ

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Here are a few snippets of SMBMSP 16 at the @deluxecorp and @partnerup HQ. Featuring @tbrunelle, @mjkeliher, @malbiniak, and @dougpollei