“Social Media”, Business, and Matchmaking

This is a “part 2″ post, growing out of the principles outlined here in part 1, where we enjoyed a lively discussion about how, in business, social media (or Community Networking/Networked Communications) is part of the larger category of Communications, along with a lot of other traditionally silo’ed disciplines such as PR, Marketing, and Advertising. We also discussed how the usage of two-way communication networks in business will lead to a more relational, rather than transactional, approach to gaining and keeping customers.

Now let’s turn to another fundamental perspective. This one has a lot of tentacles so we’ll try to outline a general principle here, and then we can carry on in the Comments. I believe that healthy business<–>customer relationships will increasingly be marked by a matchmaking approach. That is, we can steadily shift from a view of the potential customer world as a mass of demographics, and the potential supplier world as a bunch of faceless commodity providers. The first questions in a provider’s mind should no longer be, “How can I get MORE customers?” “How can I reach MORE of my target audience?” “How can I get my numbers up?” We should shift to, “How can we use networked communications to find the right people for whom we are the right fit (and vice-versa)?”

Let’s take a simple analogy, from the social media world. You can use Twitter as a “follower accumulation engine”, and in a few month’s time have thousands of subscribers, but how many of those are really a “match” for your interests, perspectives, business direction, resource needs, etc.? In social media, as in life and business, you’ll find that a relatively small number of folks are a “fit”, and when you spend time cultivating them, they will help you find others who fit.  Some business owners pursue anything or anyone that will be a revenue producer, but I’ve learned over the years that “not all business is good business.”

Customers, too, are overwhelmed by choices, and gladly latch onto for providers of goods and services that are a good “match” – companies that make them feel like they’re getting consistent value, and that make life simpler by taking one more decision off the table. And now, with great social networking tools, many of these winning companies can have a “face” and carry on a dialogue with potential and existing customers, which strengthens the sense of relationship. If I have found a great “match” for, say, an on-line bookkeeping service, then I don’t have to think about who to use next time – and, I very readily pass on my recommendations through my network, especially if I feel like I’ve come to know the supplier more personally.

Of course, all of this has been going on before the era of web-enabled social networking – but the importance is much greater now, and the capacity to weave matchmaking into the equation (from both sides) is wonderfully expanded. There are one-time buyers, there are occasional customers, and there are matches. Businesses should be aggressively using networked communications to identify and invest in the latter, rather than constantly trolling for any new revenue that can be found. The customer network thus built will, in the long term, generate far more new and repeat business. It will even give you the luxury of “firing” unprofitable and troublesome customers (b-to-b or b-to-c).

What do you think? How do you weave a matchmaking perspective (and practices) into your business model?

Matchmaking is not merely employing a set of business tactics and tools. It’s a mindset. It can also be the foundation for an entire business model, which will be the subject of my final post (part 3) in this series, on Marketing Profs DailyFix.

Why I Follow…Shannon Whitley

This is my second edition in a variation on the Twitter “#FollowFriday” meme. Instead of just listing people I follow with no real room for explanation, I’ll make my weekly contribution of pointing to one person I value, and why.

Up today – @swhitely (Shannon Whitley).

As I recall, when I started on Twitter about a year or so ago, Shannon’s tweets were some of those I always found most interesting. He blends some geeky-techno’ness with humanity, helpfulness, business sense, and a keen and sensible vision. I enjoy reading his insights, and we enjoy bantering together in virtual space. I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Shannon in person yet, but here’s the beauty of this medium – I really look forward to doing so, and I have no doubt that conversation would flow very freely. He’s a smart guy and well worth including in your Twitter stream if he’s not there already.

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SXSW…from the eyes of a 20-year old

(I’m not sure I ever anticipated the day I’d have a guest post from one of my children! But, here it is. My oldest son, who is pursuing a career in film, accompanied me to the South by Southwest conference. Here are his impressions…)

Trying to break into the film industry from the ground level is a daunting task for a 20-year old. It’s not enough to have a reasonable level of knowledge, skill, and talent – as with many things, it boils down to “who you know.”

That’s why attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference was so valuable.

Most people I meet on the street have little aspiration to create films. Yet, for a few days, I was surrounded by like-minded people who have the word “Film” on their badge and who are willing to talk shop in lobbies, hallways, and anywhere else. At first, as a young man attending my first professional conference, it was a little intimidating, but my mind was immediately put at ease by some great interaction right off while waiting in the registration line (thanks, Clark Richards)!

More often than not people just talked freely until they gave their life story or had another session to attend. Business cards, names, stories, and connections were exchanged in over the course of five minutes. I wasn’t made to feel like an outsider, but rather, I felt like a member of a wind-ranging fraternity of passionate and creative people.

The conference itself was very informative. Panelists would drop names of helpful books and sites, explain in detail how they became successful, and even stay after to talk personally to anyone who wanted to find out more. I will admit there were also big name thrills when I was able to meet and even talk to people such as Robert Rodriguez, Jeffrey Tambor, Henry Selick, Spike Lee, and Rose McGowan.

The films themselves were very professional and enjoyable. I attended nearly all the short films and was impressed by the quality of most of them. I also attended two large independent film premieres. The first was a comedy entitled “The 2 Bobs” and was directed by Tim McCanlines (Tim McCanlines has directed several family oriented films including “Secondhand Lions”). The actors came out onstage with Tim after the screening for an informative Q&A session. Then, on the Tuesday night was the premiere of “The Hurt Locker”. All I knew before going into the film was that it was directed Kathryn Bigelow (“Point Break”). What I saw was a fantastically shot war film about a group of soldiers in Iraq whose sole job is to disarm bombs. It was positively one of the most intense and harrowing war movies I have ever seen.

My father was attending the SXSW Interactive track and I had the privilege of meeting a number of his blogger friends, who were very kind and supportive. All in all SXSW was an invaluable experience for me, and for any young filmmaker that has extra cash and a week to invest next year, I’d certainly recommend attending SXSW 2010!

(You can find out more about Nate and his professional interests at his site, NathanWoodruff.com (includes sample films). And, if you know of opportunities that may be open to a young “apprentice” with some real talent, we’re all ears!)

“Social Media” and Business, part 1

Earlier this week, I enjoyed a robust Twitter conversation with a few folks (thanks, @lizscherer, @kellyferrara, @lindabeth!) on how “social media” fits into the pre-existing business silos that we all know and love (Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service, etc.)

Instead of putting out 140-character fragments of thought, it might be more valuable to sketch out some big-picture ideas about how this all, perhaps, fits together, and continue the discussion in the comments.

First, I’ll freely admit that I don’t much care for the term “Social Media.” I think it’s limiting. I tend to prefer either Community Networking (more on the inter-personal level), or Networked Communications (more on the business level). Take your pick; we’re talking about person-to-person or organization<–>person communications and connections mediated through on-line tools.

Let’s think about business. I think a lot of these legacy silos are not particularly helpful, so let’s imagine for a moment that they are swept off the table and everything is encompassed under one umbrella term: Communications. PR, Marketing, Social Media, etc. – it’s all about communicating to the world at large (people unaware of the company; prospective customers; imminent buyers; existing users; other stakeholders). These communications take various forms, including direct advertising, word of mouth (on- or off-line), press, or what have you, but it’s all communications, and it should all be strategically tied together.

For a business, then, let’s take this practice of communication and view it through the prism of the main goal: increased uptake of offerings and therefore, increased revenue. Business growth. From the perspective of the business, and using rather sterile terms, there are three main stages of this: Customer Awareness, Customer Acquisition, and Customer Retention.

What is the process – the pattern – that occurs to reach this goal of business growth, and how does the discipline of Communications fit? Here’s a suggested way to view it:

Awareness Communications – strategies and tactics that elevate some level of understanding of the company’s existence, offerings, and value. An analogy: this is walking into a party with an attractive, attention-getting outfit.

Qualification Communications – think pre-sales marketing here. Expressing, at some level, what the nature and benefits of the offering are. But this need not be one-way anymore – through networked communications, businesses can much more readily understand the needs and desires of potential customers. Ongoing analogy: chatting up at the party and gauging if there is interest in more than just a polite chat.

Commitment Communications – assuming that the potential customer is seeing genuine value, now the parties discuss how they might get together to meet mutual goals. This is a deeper dive into needs and offerings, and gaining a comfortable feel for overall compatibility. Ongoing analogy: entering into a committed dating relationship.

Satisfaction Communications – the company realizes that its best hope of gaining new customers is by keeping current customers not only pacified, but satisfied to the point of being advocates. Time and two-way communications are invested to build the relationship and improve the offerings. Ongoing analogy: the diligent care and feeding of a marriage relationship.

This is the typical linear process of how business is obtained and grown, and if we range our Communications options and methods along these lines, we can see how a strategic approach to the various legacy disciplines (PR, Marketing, Advertising, etc.) can now be achieved. Each stage of the continuum requires different types/mixes of communication, with differing levels of two-way exchange. “Social Media” plays a role throughout, not as a separate discipline, but as an integral part of two-way communication that should mark an entire process.

When you look at this continuum, ask yourself: does your business have a consistent message that is woven throughout the entire communications landscape? It should.

Oh, and for an interesting twist, swap out the word “Customer” for “Employee”. Sorta makes sense on the recruitment/retention side of things, doesn’t it?

Kind of a mind dump here and lots of loose ends. What do you think? Speak your mind in the comments!

:: So far, we’re attempting to define the landscape of business communications – but in a follow-up post, I want to take something implied here and make it more explicit. Successful business will increasingly be marked, not by a transactional view (I am using communications to persuade you to buy my product so I can make money and you can, maybe, gain a benefit), but by a more holistic relational view. That is, customers and companies will increasingly seek out ways to determine if they are right for each other, something networked communications truly helps enable. My consulting business is built on a “matchmaking” network model and I’ll share a few thoughts on why I think there is tremendous value in this approach…

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Church Advertising FAIL

placeforyou-smSaw this advertising effort on the street this morning and did a double take.

It’s odd enough for a church to promote itself on a trash can. But to toss out the throwaway tagline: There’s a place for you? Perhaps they could have added: Drop-ins welcome!

Consider that a waste of the advertising budget. Or maybe I’m just not being very creative. What tagline might you put on, say, a Dumpster? (add your suggestions in the Comments!)

Why I Follow…Pamela Martin

It’s becoming a tradition on Fridays in Twitterland to tag a bunch of your favorite people for “FollowFriday” – not a bad idea at all, but it has become somewhat overwhelming. Hard to separate signal from noise, and often I can’t possibly discern WHY someone is being followed.

Plus there’s the creeping sense of guilt involved, you know what I mean? If I don’t participate, I’m being ungrateful. And if I do, what about everyone I’m leaving out (it’s only 140 characters, after all!)

So, I thought I’d start a variation on the theme. Just highlight one person on a Friday, and tell you why I follow.

First up: @pamelamartin

Why do I not only follow Pamela, but thoroughly enjoy her tweets? Because she’s very funny, very human, and willing to banter on-line. And, she and husband Frank are one of those amusing and engaging spousal pairs on Twitter.

Then, there’s also SMAST. But you’ll have to follow her to find out what that is. Before the weekend begins.

So, if you want a fun person from Roanoke to follow (note: if you’re ever in Roanoke VA, you MUST have Mill Mountain coffee – my absolute favorite java of all time), it’s Pamela Martin. And if you want a two-fer, @frankmartin is pretty cool too!

Presenting to Win (a SxSW rant)

checkeredflagI’ve been, frankly, disappointed in the quality of many of the South by Southwest sessions. Here’s why: many of those leading these panels/discussions/sessions aren’t trying to win the attention of the audience.

There are many competing sessions, there’s the Twitter stream, there’s the Blogger’s Lounge, and there’s really good BBQ. If you don’t grab my attention and pull me into the session, I’m gone.

So, if you’re a presenter/teacher/whatever, here’s some simple advice on winning your audience.

  1. Start IMMEDIATELY with a WIIFM. If you don’t tell me why I need to be interested, why this matters – if you don’t give us a concrete What’s-In-It-For-Me (right away!) – you risk losing our attention. In your very first minute, give an arresting and practical statement as to why what you’re about to present matters. Your audience is looking at you, hopefully, asking themselves, “What’s the Point?” Answer that.
  2. Follow immediately with a striking metaphor or illustration. If your presentation is worth anything, you’re going to be telling us something that is new, mind-changing, challenging. This means you have to get through the filters and buffers that stand between you and our hard disk (long-term memory), and our hoped-for behavior change. The easiest way to pave the way is by using a practical, easily understood example that parallels the concepts you’re about to present, so that we can have a way to relate the new information to that which is already present in our minds.
  3. After gaining attention and the beginnings of agreement, then begin the linear progression of explanation, argumentation, and clarification that will take your information from your mind to ours. Be sure that you present a concept, then find a way to see how it is going down with the audience. Don’t just race through the material and assume it’s being absorbed. If you lose me on point 1, you’re not going to regain me at point three.
  4. For crying out loud, use a little humor. If you’re not a joke teller, weave in some funny video clips that help make the point. The progression of absorbing new information happens best when there’s an oscillation between serious thought and lighthearted fun.
  5. Be very careful about the assumption that coarse language is a great aid to learning. Believe it or not, some of your audience is offended by it. Are you there to strut your stuff by showing that you, too, can swear like a 12-year-old? Or do you want to reach your audience with your message? Grow a pair and seek the respect of your hearers, rather than resorting to schoolyard language to get a reaction.

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll leave it at those five, though feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. Your goal should not be simply to be up front. It should be to lead your audience to a worthy outcome. First, you have to win them so that they are ready to follow.

(image credit)

Stoning our Fellow Bloggers

There is a danger to being a blogger – the same danger experienced by all public figures. Your every mistake is magnified, and that means you may end up with a target on your chest.

Yesterday, a well-known blogger made a posting that was quite controversial. Suffice it to say that some of the reaction was downright nasty. I am not going to link to the post in question, or mention the blogger’s name, or even describe the controversy, because I really don’t want to call any further attention to it.  Instead, I’d like to draw some larger lessons from the incident.

Here’s the main thing: we’re all going to make missteps. We’re human; we say and do things we shouldn’t; we occasionally react in the heat of the moment; and sometimes, we make the wrong call when trying to counter-balance competing interests. And in the age of instant publishing and networked communications, our fallibility can be magnified rather rapidly.

Before you hit that “Publish” button with a comment or a post ripping up a fellow blogger, let me recommend that you pause and consider the following:

  1. Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever written or said something you wish later you could modify?
  2. Has this person for whom you are sharpening the knife actually been, by-and-large, a value provider? Can you couch your statements in that light?
  3. Do you think this fellow blogger might really need another public kick while he/she is down, or would perhaps a quiet back-channel word of encouragement be more helpful, along with a gentle expression of your concern for the specific action?
  4. Are you prepared to be treated in the way you treat this fellow blogger when your foibles are publicly revealed?

For the most part, the social networking crowd is a sharing and generous community. However, we need to be careful not to shoot our own when we make our mistakes and show our humanity. We don’t need an overly-hysterical “Motrin” reaction when people, companies, and brands try to put their toe in the water and get it wrong. A sense of humility is far more winsome than a self-righteous judgment on all those who don’t meet our standards. And, again, before you press “Publish” – if you’re about to pass judgment on someone’s character or motives, ask yourself if you really know that person’s heart.

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” said a great teacher from centuries ago. Do we serve as correctives to one another as we evolve in social networking? Sure. But it’s far less important to prove that you are right and someone else is wrong, than it is to display a generous and gracious spirit when your fellow blogger is down.

It might just be you next time.

Someone Create this People Finder…Please!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a smart, semi-automated way to find interesting people on-line?

What I’m about to describe exists in bits and pieces scattered throughout various apps. But it would sure be useful to wrap it up into one platform.

You (and all other participants) describe yourself in three areas: Personal/Social interests, Professional Interests, and Demographics. In each category you rate/describe yourself via check boxes, sliders, and keywords. You also indicate the types of people you’d like to connect with by similarity to you, or perhaps by differences.

You also put in (if applicable or desired) your blog address(es) and Twitter handle, and the top blogs/twitterers you follow. The system can apply some artificial intelligence to further mine your interests (topical and people) by analyzing your themes and your followers.

The platform sorts through all participants and finds people according to your expressed desires/interests – maybe presenting them in rankings, and according to interests (e.g. – Personal/Social: another wine lover. Professional: Java programmer. Demographics: graduate from your college, or resident of your town). Perhaps an e-mail comes each day with several top suggestions, including the Twitter handle and blog URL so you can easily check out the person and subscribe/follow. Whatever levels of integration with more proprietary networks like LinkedIn and Facebook would be a big plus, of course.

None of this is ground-breaking, and it exists on some levels in app-specific ways (finding similar Twitter people, for instance), but increasingly, we just want to find people who happen to be in the on-line community in whatever capacity, and who want to built networks with other people. It would be a nice evolution to get away from thinking about who blogs, or who is on Twitter, or who is on Facebook - we just want to make it easier to find each other.

Very naturally, the idea of ranking and commenting comes to mind, but there be dragons there…probably would create more problems than it would solve.

Make sense? Other additions or suggestions? Who wants to make it so??

The Disappearance of “Social Media”

I’m sitting here in the swirl of buzz that is SxSWi (South by Southwest Interactive), the smorgasbord of all things leading edge in the digital creative space.

It’s all going to disappear.

What I mean is this: what we now call “social media” – this leading edge congolomeration of stuff that allows us to communicate immediately, globally, with very few limitations, will all morph in such a way that we won’t recognize it soon. Blogging (as we know it), Twitter (as we know it), and other early-generation platforms and mechanisms are all transitional forms.

What we are doing is connecting, publishing, sharing, community-building. Just as people have done forever. And just as people will do, much more effectively, in 5 years, when we try to remember what we meant when we talked about “social media.”

As Jeff Pulver mentioned in a conversation yesterday, ham radio was an early form of social media. We don’t talk about ham radio much anymore. And as adoption of lifestreaming tools like Twitter and Facebook accelerates, as publishing of creative efforts and general life updates becomes more and more mainstream, social media will simply be…life. Just as it is for many of the teens who have known no different. I wasn’t in the session, but apparently Charlene Li alluded to social media becoming like the air that surrounds us. Exactly.

For my kids, on-line sharing, persistent connectivity via mobile devices, and much of what an older generation calls “social media” is just the way life is conducted. The early, transitional tools will be irrelevant, because much smarter platforms will soon appear, with far greater ability to connect, find, aggregate, filter, and share.

We won’t be talking about “social media” for long, I predict. We’ll simply live in a global networked community. And we’ll move on to the real work – not adoption of new social media thingies, but making a difference with all the blessings of connectivity we enjoy.

See you in Austin!

stevenatesm1I’ll be in Austin Fri-Tues for the SxSW conference – but, for the first time, with a major twist.

It’s going to be a father-son gig! I’ll be doing the Interactive track, and my 20-year son Nathan is going to be immersed in the Film track.

Nathan is keenly interested in pursuing a career in the Film industry. He already has quite a bit of experience (due to a magnet school educational program) and needs to find a place where his skills can be developed to the next level (you can see his background and samples of his work at NathanWoodruff.com).

This will be Nathan’s first foray into the dazzling world of conference networking, and I’m writing this post simply to ask my many friends and acquaintances to reach out to Nate/me if you have contacts in the film industry that might be valuable for a young man starting out.

Nate is not on Twitter (yet), but you can text him at 973-590-6994, and you can reach me at the conference anytime via Twitter at @swoodruff.

Thanks in advance for the warm welcome that I’m sure Nate will receive into the community. I’m looking forward to seeing you folks in Austin!

One Rung Up??

Ever since I first laid eyes on it, I liked the Forrester “Social Technographics Ladder”, which seeks to depict levels of involvement in social media by people according to usage patterns. The higher up the ladder, obviously, the greater the level of engagement.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was one rung short of a full ladder. I believe there is a higher-level role, an influencer/organizer/builder, who not only does pretty much everything on all the other rungs, but performs some very significant leadership functions using social media. This is different from the “Collector”, who is operating more on a personal level, and not seeking to build higher-level structure.

Here’s the concept – I’ve simply taken the Forrester graphic and added a rung. What do you think? Valid? Helpful? Just plain wrong? Feel free to discuss in the comments (and see the Update below this graphic – this thing is evolving rapidly!)

forresterladdersw1

(original graphic copyright Forrester Research, Inc.)

Update: based on the back-and forth in the commentary, I’ve thrown together a drawing (please excuse the awful graphics – there’s a reason I’m not a designer!) that reflects a more behavior-based approach to the above, a different spin on stratifying the on-line world, and a consideration of progression/”hierarchy” :

networkparticipationmapswIf you think of on-line web networks as Content (blogs, pics, etc.), Commentary (commenting, rating, tagging), and Community (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), then you see that people can engage in one or multiple behaviors in these different strata. Most people start as Consumers, and the easiest point of entry as a Contributor is to join an established network. Not everyone will feel that they have something to contribute as a creator of content, but it can progress to that as comfort level and confidence increase. Those who have the capacity and drive to be Consolidators (think community builders, event organizers, authors, curators, app creators – people like Chris Brogan, Ann Handley, Shannon Whitley, Brian Solis, Liz Strauss, the Twitter team, etc.) are those who seek to pull together disparate people and resources and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

3cpiessmThe only difficulty here is that a diagram like the one above, even if more accurate, doesn’t have the same cachet as a ladder analogy! So, let’s put away the ladder and think about…Pies. You’ve been invited to be part of a townwide pie baking/eating/judging festival. You can participate, at no charge, in any activities you’d like – you can just come and eat, or merely observe others; you can serve as a judge and rate pies; you can create your own pies and enter them; you can join the pie-baking club/network; or you can be part of the organizing committee. Any or all of the above. The deeper in you go, the more you learn, the better your recipes get, the more fellow pie-bakers you meet.

On-line, we’re all observing, partaking, creating, rating, joining up, and organizing. And every action and role is good. Especially when it involves banana or coconut cream pies. Just sayin’…

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Five in the Morning – Finale

swbeard1Yes, it’s true. Today, after nearly 100 Five in the Morning posts (including guest posts by other bloggers), I’m bringing the series to a close.

Why? Well, mainly it’s a matter of time – there are some other priorities that now require more of my attention. Creating Five in the Morning posts, as fun and fulfilling as it is, can be quite time-consuming. Plus, there is that existential sense that “it’s time” – major goals have been met of exposing people to a variety of great bloggers and resources, and other creative ideas are striving for attention.

Of course, the StickyFigure blog will continue on, as it did before Five in the Morning, so you can expect my usual brilliant insights and world-changing ideas right here – just not daily, perhaps.

A big part of the fun of Five in the Morning has been the interaction with you, the audience, and the participation of other bloggers who have guest-hosted. We’ve enjoyed guest entries from Cam Beck, Mike Sansone, CB Whittemore, Olivier Blanchard, Tom Clifford, Connie Reece, Chris Wilson, Lisa Hoffmann, Arun Rajagopal, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Becky Carroll, Matt J McDonald, Ken Burbary, Beth Harte, Karen Swim, and Doug Meacham.

And while we’ve pointed to plenty of posts from “name-brand” bloggers like Seth Godin, Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Chris Brogan, John Jantsch, Jeremiah Owyang, Doug Karr, David Armano, Liz Strauss, Charlene Li, Ann Handley, Valeria Maltoni, Shannon Paul, and other luminaries, I hope you’ve subscribed to some of the very smart, but lesser-known lights after seeing their posts featured.

If there is to be a “legacy” to this little series, my hope is that some of you with particular areas of expertise (PR, Design, Writing, Branding, Non-profits, etc.) would become consolidators as well, pulling together great posts (maybe on a weekly basis) for your audiences. Yes, it’s work, but it’s a wonderful way to meet new people, and, done rightly, it can drive more traffic to your blog over time. I will happily link to others who pick up the torch and become info-scouts for the rest of us.

OK, so for your Friday, here’s a Fabulous Final Five. OK, Six. I never was great at math.

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Kiss the next hour good-bye. 2009 ReBrand Winners. Sweet bunch of links showing before/after. Seriously – your day of planned productivity is over. You are GND.

Using Twitter to land a job. Who doesn’t like a success story like this? With a nice passing mention of @prSarahEvans.

How do you keep customers happy? Jay Ehret, @themarketingguy, says to focus on the experience. And at the Brains on Fire blog, here is a fabulous example, with the spotlight on a local Whole Foods store.

[this space reserved for a designated non-mention of Skittles]

How much Money is $1 Trillion? The Anatomy of a Sticky Illustration. Nicely done. Hat tip: Cam Beck.

Give First. Amen. From Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixes of Separation blog.

PLUS: Tabasco advertising. No words needed. Hat Tip: Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog.

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Thanks for tuning in for these 5 months of fun and experimentation. Oh….and I really don’t get up at 5 am most mornings. It’s really 5 (posts) delivered (early) in the morning. But while sipping my first cup of coffee between 5:30-6:00 am, I still get a chuckle out of all of you  thinking I actually get up early…!

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Five in the Morning 030509

Business Week asks: Who’s lining up to buy Twitter?

Be sure to catch up on John Moore‘s series, highlighting the 100 Best Business Books of all time.

Do you speak Snacklish? At least Mars Inc. is showing some creativity (my take: the best a brand can hope for is to create one or maybe two words that will truly stick long-term. Not a dialect!). Of course, I don’t think the effort to re-brand Google with M&Ms (GmmGLE) is going to succeed…

From Robin Broitman: How to Boost your Social Media Productivity – A Guide for Busy People. A great collection of links.

So, what about this whole issue of paying bloggers to post? Forrester weighs in.

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Forget Twitter Skittle…M&M does M&A on Google

It was just a warm-up act.

The blogosphere lit up this week when M&M Mars replaced the Skittles home page with a constantly-updated stream of “tweets” from the popular micro-blogging service, Twitter.

Social media experts – and there are many of them – were divided as to the effectiveness of the campaign, but all discussion can stop now, and the Skitter experiment was merely a diversion from the main show.

While everyone was distracted with the little Twitter feint, Mars was landing the Big Kahuna – Google.

“Ever since Google was launched, with all of those bright primary colors in their logo, we’ve been convinced that a combination of Google search and M&M sweetness was the right combo for our worldwide audience,” declared Ike Livingston, Personal Brand Ambassador for Mars. “As of today, the new co-branded service – GMMGLE – will roll off the tongues of billions of people, just as our candy melts in their mouths, not in their hands.”

gmmgleOver the next several weeks, the new GMMGLE home page will roll out, but a few select beta users have seen the colorful new results page, which includes a “Link Sweeeetness Rating” algorithm that awards “thumbs up” for particularly tasty web destinations.

gmmgle-page

Reaction to the new GMMGLE portal concept came swiftly. However, all the negative stuff disappeared immediately from the serach results, leaving only expressions of awe and excitement from members of the theobromine lobby and from fringe, vowel-hating bloggers in Balkan countries.

A spokesman for President Obama praised the move, saying,  “We’re all about sugar-daddy funding. We have mounds of cash, piled high as the Andes, and this newly-minted GMMGLE portal will be used by the government to find lots of pork futures, and to search out tax cheats. Umm, scratch that last bit about tax cheats…we’re already finding those all over the place around here.”

Other candy companies have also been bargain-hunting. Hershey’s was about to announce the first milk-chocolate powered “brown” car in a joint venture with struggling GM, but pulled out of the deal after federal regulators withheld bailout money, asking “What can Brown do for you?” Tootsie-Roll did become the Official Corporate Sponsor of the Federal Stimulus and Takeover plan, however, explaining, “Who has more experience rolling people than us?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Livingston confirmed that, due to anti-trust considerations, the rumored YAHMM portal is no longer being considered.

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All logos, images, trademarks, and names belong, of course, to their respective owners. This is a spoof. Which means it’s not actually real. It didn’t happen. Really.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Five in the Morning 030409

From WSJ: Social Networking goes Professional. How focused professional communities are using social networking tools to better their work.

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (yep, not a misprint) gives us 32 Ways to Cut Costs in Business. And while you’re at it, this post from TPE on How to do Everything is also pretty good!

Matt Dickman - the Techno//Marketer – gives us the scoop on Radian6 with one of his patented thorough semi-geekish reviews. If you’re not reading Matt’s blog regularly, what are you thinking?

Shaping your blog’s brand. Good stuff from Darren Rowse over at Problogger.

Jon Swanson reviews two books on success. Which one was more life-changing?

PLUS: Tom Peters recommends a new book from Steve Farber, called Greater than Yourself. As I recall, Drew McLellan speaks highly of Farber, so with those 2 witnesses, it must be good!

AND: This was just too funny not to include. Really. Just click. Thanks, Jaffe!

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Five in the Morning 030309

5glowShould brands think like start-ups? “Aim…fire…adjust…aim…fire…adjust…” What do you think? From David Knox, via @prblog (Kevin Dugan).

Measuring on-line influence. After you get through all the verbiage, I think a lot of it boils down to…the very last sentence. Micah Baldwin on Mashable.

From the Duct Tape Marketing blog, a podcast interview with Amber Naslund on Monitoring and Measuring Social Media. I’ll FINALLY get to meet Amber IRL at SXSW!

Rachel Happe on her Job Search 2.0. How her network is coming into play as she searches for her next position. Increasingly, what Rachel is talking about will be the new way we all find work…

So, how did Skittles do with their Twitter-fed attention campaign? WSJ has the scoop. Pretty impressive.

PLUS – Jon Stewart shakes his fist at Twitter. Pretty funny.

AND – where I’ll be this spring, if our paths can intersect at various conferences/events.

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