top online casinos 2013 2013 online casinos for usa players secure internet gambling secure online casino new online slots new usa online slots play online blackjack for money play online blackjack for money best mac online casino casino for mac fastest payouts usa online casino us casino with easy cash out online casino payment options online casino deposit methods real money slots for us players us online slots for money casinos accepting credit cards online casino credit cards online roulette for real money roulette casinos accepting us players http://asb.cgiar.org/Gen2/about_us/sign-up-bonuses.html online casino sign up bonus http://asb.cgiar.org/Gen2/abo..... play slot machines reputable casino reputable casino online casino slots real casino slot machines online http://asb.cgiar.org/Gen2/about_us/mastercard-casinos.html usa casinos that accept mastercard

How’s your health?

As the year winds to a close amid a whirlwind of Web 2.0 and social media predicitions, reflections, and good vibes, I’ve gotten to thinking about the most basic of human desires and needs: good health.

Since this isn’t a medical blog, my thoughts today relate to the health of a business, or a brand, and the factors that go into making it healthy and a success. We talk often about cutting-edge campaigns, engaging in social media, ROI, loyalty, the lot of the overt things that can determine the health of a brand in a consumers mind. But what I see missing is the key stuff that long-term good health is made of – healthy, engaged, and empowered employees.

They are not only a physical representation of your company, they are your evangelists and customers as well. How they feel in their role(s) will impact how successful you are in building your long-term brand health.

Going into 2007 is a good time to ask how their health is.

Are they fulfilled and passionate in their career? Are they challenged? Well compensated? Able to balance their work/ life because they aren’t doing the work of 3? Are your doors truly open, or is it just a catch phrase? Do they feel invested in? A part of the vision? Are they empowered to instigate change? Are processes, roles and milestones well defined? Are you actually asking them these questions or going on your own opinion?

It’s often too easy to overlook, or take for granted, our employees health when we’re focused on the bottom line and results; getting the next product or ad campaign out the door, but it is one ignored at our own peril.

Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!

[photo credit: creativity+ on Flickr]

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

The ‘cult’ of The Hip: the music, the community, the integration

I’ve been meaning to write about this community engagement success story for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s one that’s close to my own heart and also a great example of how bands/ brands can use technology to build a deeper sense of loyalty and communication with their fans. The Tragically Hip, as Canadians know, are a part of the very fabric of Canadian culture and have been for years. Although I adore their tunes, what I find the most remarkable about the band from Kingston, is how they have grown and evolved with their fans throughout the last 15-20 years without losing their core nature. They have remained true to their identity while allowing the community to have ownership in their own experience. The Hip aren’t huge in the States, but they are okay with that. It’s really a beautiful thing.

I’ve been a Hip fan since Up to Here and continue to pay ridiculous amounts of money on eBay to get tickets to the always sold out events. I missed being in Canada during the ’90’s, but I made a point of scheduling my trips back every year to catch either a Hip concert or a Leafs game (one year I was lucky enough to get both), and of course every couple of years the band would hit LA and play sold out shows at the HOB on the Sunset Strip… seeing the Hip in a bar setting was an experience I highly recommend. They put on a heartfelt and rockin’ show each and every time they perform – they love what they’re doing and it shows.

It hasn’t always been a ‘cult’ (and I use that term most affectionately), it’s grown into one over the years. The fans are loyal and expressive, and the band encourages it. They are on the leading edge of social networking and media. Every thing they do online and on the ground is meant to reach out to fans. They certainly aren’t the first band to embrace their community, but they are doing it holistically and in a huge way.

The first thing about the outreach is they encourage fans to record their shows and take pictures. From there fans can upload photos to the Flickr group (under CC license) and upload the songs to share on the Hip Tracker.

They also upload (and provide via RSS) their own live recordings from the last 15 years on a daily/ weekly basis to keep you actively engaged.

They’re on MySpace and YouTube. They encourage you to share the videos they’ve uploaded and upload your own. They have a forum. They have info about all their upcoming shows, and if you’ve registered you get advance options on ticket purchases. They go an extra step and list their set lists for each show.

They actively promote causes they are passionate about and treat their guests as intelligent participants. They’ve also partnered with iTunes for exclusive recordings.

But probably the best part of the website is their Story Project. It’s a living history of the band told by their community of fans. It encourages participation, it doesn’t seek to censor or shape the experience. They want to hear your story and add it to the history. They trust you have positive things to say but won’t censor if you don’t. In fact, at each step they want to hear from you. It’s truly interactive and social.

It’s innovative and engaging, and it works.

The strategy from which all the tactics flow is remarkably simple:

  1. Reach out to the community and ask them to share
  2. Give them the tools and platform(s) to do so easily
  3. Acknowledge and embrace the UGC (or bootlegs in the case of the Hip), they’ll be out there anyway
  4. Keep adding value
  5. Ask for feedback and repeat

I’m a cult member for life and proud of it. See you in Feb at the ACC!

[photo credit: MAv. on Flickr]

The Tragically Hip

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

Flying zebras and marketing theories

Last night I was sitting at my kitchen table with a glass of wine having a blast interacting with fellow CaseCampers in Second Life. It wasn’t without a few glitches – lots of trouble figuring out how to sit, Doug relates his flying leap at the screen on his way to present, audio synching snags, etc. But all in all it was a great and informative experience. The presentations were rich with useful examples, and I was even able to get a hockey rivalry going at one point (sorry Michael, I couldn’t resist, you were talking about the Sens). In terms of the flying zebra, that was when I knew I needed to logout and get back to real life ;)

I was a bit disappointed that my question to John Wall didn’t get picked up on (and I asked twice!), but oh well, these things happen.

I don’t really know how useful this type of unconference will be in the long-term, with server limitations only 40 avatars can be in the room at the same time and the slides were fuzzy; we could have the same type of interactions via a web conference and have more people attend. But for the novelty and camraderie it was well worth it.

Props to the CaseCamp Second Life team for setting it up and crayon for hosting it.

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

Transparency, Authenticity and Trust

aka lies not so well disguised…

I’m unhappy. Seriously so. I have had about enough of spin and deception in the blogosphere. Fake blogs, pay-for-play, astroturfing, lies about your products, the lot of it. And it’s gotten to the point where the FTC is weighing in. Unbelievable.

How close are we to destroying consumers trust in our “social media” outreach efforts? What about our clients trust in us to help protect and enhance their brand? How’s that working out for Sony, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart?

We talk a good game, sure. Be transparent. Be authentic. Listen. Engage in a conversation. But as soon as push comes to shove too many take the easy way out. Why reach out to the community when you can just pretend to be the community? And when called out on it? Rewrite history. It’s even gotten to the point where public announcements can be made that appear to be easily contradicted by fact.

Do we think no one will notice? That there won’t be a backlash? Do we care that we may end up destroying the very channels of communication we should be trying to open, let alone our credibility as communicators?

It has to stop. It almost makes me long for the days when all we had to worry about was the CTR on a 468×60 (almost).

/rantatta

Update: For a look at real transparency – The Quitter

Update II: When all else fails, there’s always the “Fake Blog Apology Service” courtesy of Adrants

Update III [12/15/06 1:40pm EST]: Whereby we take a closer look at how some flacks really engage in “social” media…

In a nutshell, the link above to iStudio, a division of High Road Communications/ Fleishman Hilliard, is supposed to have a comment attached to the post from yours truly. I have been trying for the last week to find out how their SNR, coded in framesets, is search engine friendly as they claim. Unfortunately it looks like iStudio has no plan on correcting the record or allowing a challenge to their claims. Now, before you say “but maybe it takes time for comments to be released from moderation” – here’s the screenshot of someone from the admin moderation screen visiting my site less than an hour after I posted the comment yesterday.

At the time of this post my comment is still in moderation.

What was it I was trying to point out and get some kind of an answer to after waiting almost a week for a response from their tech team?

Hi all, I don’t want to take any thunder out of your efforts, as I support the goals of the SNR and believe it is great way to aggregate and disseminate information broadly. However, after our last discussion I’m still not convinced that this release meets the objectives stated, or, as this post claims, the SNR criteria for indexing by search engines (SNR point #4) at this stage in its development.

Frankly, I don’t see how a release built in a frameset could be considered search engine friendly given the consensus advice around using frames. One of the great things about the internet is that our work can evolve in real time. There’s nothing wrong with launching a product that doesn’t yet meet 100% of the requirements – in fact, ‘beta’ is all the rage with the Web 2.0 crowd. However, I really think that your audience, potential users, and supporters deserve a clear explanation of how exactly your SNR tool does or will live up to all the promises.

This to me, seems pretty serious, as iStudio has proclaimed their release adheres to the accepted guidelines developed by their industry peers, yet I am certain that the coding is not up to par for Rule #4 – search engine indexing. At this point I’d really like to hear from the Social Media Club who developed & maintain the guidelines for the SNR. Do they feel that the iStudio/Weblo release complies? Or how about someone from Fleishman Hilliard – are these the standard practices of your divisions?

Man, no wonder PR has such a bad rep in the blogosphere – they’ve earned every bit of it.

The worst part of this issue in my opinion is how it was handled, not the coding itself. I started out being a supporter. It would have been really easy to admit the release wasn’t optimized, thank me for the tip, correct the record, and move on. Instead the spin starts and now we have this: a company silencing criticism on their blog and allowing claims that have been challenged on the facts to stand and be promoted.

The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades.

Update IV: My comment has now been released from moderation on the iStudio site.

[photo credit: yewenyi on Flickr]

; ; ; ;

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

For the community, by the community: The new AIMS resource library

I had the pleasure of helping AIMS Canada develop their new internet marketing resource utilizing del.icio.us. tagging. The concept is simple – every member of AIMS can contribute to building a large knowledge base of articles, research, etc. which can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. I love the idea of collectively sharing and adding to what amounts to an internet marketing library. Alone no one can find all the relevant information out there, but together we can collaborate to gather as much as possible.

It is now officially live and I encourage members of Canada’s online community to contribute and use the resource as much as you’d like. It truly is, as Kathryn says: for the community, by the community. For all the details & to get started tagging, check out the AIMS blog.

[photo credit: Arn?æ??r Sn?¶r on Flickr]

Tags:

Social Bookmarks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Ma.gnolia
  • TailRank
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis