Integrated Media Blogging

SXSW gave us a taste of IMVJ – Integrated Media Video Journalism, as practiced by David Dunkley Gyimah. Now a new post by Scobleizer introduces us to the new Apture plug-in that allows bloggers to integrate all different types of media into their blogs in  a whole new way.

These are almost ‘super-links’ as explained to Scobleizer by Apture CEO and co-founder Tristan Harris. I believe it’s only a matter of time before many many bloggers start using this plug-in for their blogs, as it’s free for individual bloggers, while they charge corpoorations for it’s use.

More and more it seems as though bloggers are being provided with cool tools that enable them to build ever more powerful sites to attract an audience and keep their loyalty.

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Why Now is The Time to Use Social Media for your Business

The clock is ticking. Time is running out. Pretty soon all of your competitors will be using social media, and will start the conversation with your customers, giving them a competitive advantage that will make it hard for you to catch up.

Who cares if my competitors are using social media? Why adopt a social media strategy? Why now?

There already has been a lot of ink dedicated to why businesses should implement a social media strategy. One of my favorite articles is “20 Reasons Your Small Business should use Social Media,” by Shana Albert of the Digital Bliss blog.

Some of her stand-out reasons:

  • Online reputation management.
  • Word of mouth marketing.
  • Small business can compete with large companies.
  • Create great traffic and help search engines.
  • Direct conversation to a specific niche.
  • Cheaper than traditional marketing.
  • Find out what your customers want.
  • Your customers play an active role in your business.

If those aren’t compelling reasons enough, I suggest you go back to the original article and read all 20 reasons.

But why now? Shouldn’t you just wait to see how these “untried” social media schemes are going to play out?

According to the article “9 Trends to Watch in a Down Economy,” by Wendy Piersall at Escalate Media, there are already case studies with data to back – up the success companies like Dell and Comcast have had with Twitter, for example.

…companies and brands are getting to a point where they can’t ignore social media anymore. In 2009, we are going to hit a crossover point in which those who are still afraid of social media marketing are going to be left behind if they don’t jump in now.

Ok, you may say, so what, that’s just the opinion of a “blogger.”

According to this Business Week article, it’s a must-have now. The cost of publishing information has gone down to practically zero (see my earlier post here about the free economy), anybody and everybody can publish about you, your product or anything.

The divide between the publishers and the public is collapsing. This turns mass media upside down. It creates media of the masses.

Customers are talking about you, or your competitors are talking to your customers (0r have plans to). It’s time you become part of the conversation.

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SXSW, Fastball, Erykah Badu, and Twitter

Fastball

Went to the Auditorium Shores free show last  night with my wife and two youngest sons to catch a fabulous Fastball set.  Fastball are still fantastic!  Tony Scalzo’s and Miles Zuniga’s songwriting prowess and beautiful melodies are as fresh as ever, whether playing songs such as “The Way” from their 2nd album “All The Pain Money can  Buy,” or playing songs from their upcoming album “Little White Lies.”

Then we found out if we stayed till 7pm we’d get to see Erykah Badu!  It was a nice surprise to hear we’d catch another big act, seeing we missed Metallica playing at Stubbs the night before.

Erykah’s back-up band, The Cannabinoids, played a live hip-hop music set, with four guys that had nothing  but keyboards and turntables.  Pretty good set actually.  These guys played their hearts out and tried to keep the increasingly growing and excited crowd waiting….and waiting…and waiting, past 7:30, 7:47; 7:52.

Finally The Cannabinoids stopped playing and a guy came on the microphone in a very non-hip hoppish, mousy voice to say, “Erykah Badu has had a travel incidence.”

Erykah Badu

We all started streaming out, caught up in a huge river of people, while still more thousands stayed behind, until finally, when we were out of Auditorium Shores and sitting on the lawn in front of The Long Center, she started playing!  Well, we didn’t miss much, because as we were making the trek across Town Lake (or is it Ladybird Johnson lake right now?), we noticed the music stopped!

According to EW.com, Badu was keeping everybody updated about what was going on with her Twitter account, with a blow-by-blow of this stalker who had been arrested outside of her Dallas house just before she was supposed to take off to Austin; and now she was dealing with the whole mess; and now she was driving down I-35.

And here I was Twittering about how she was a no-show!

There was this huge screen on the stage where The Cannabinoids were displaying some interesting messages and psychadelic images.  Maybe next time they stream Badu’s Tweets across the screen?

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The Future of Business is Free

The Free Economy

The Free Economy

@indieaustin tweeted a great article by Chris Anderson in Wired Magazine: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.

Because of the the effect of the unitary cost of technology halving every 18 months, there comes a point where the closer you get to zero, the sooner you can actually round down to zero.  As Anderson states:

What (Caltech professor Carver) Mead understood is that a psychological switch should flip as things head toward zero. Even though they may never become entirely free, as the price drops there is great advantage to be had in treating them as if they were free.

However, this is not so for consumers.  Anderson again:

From the consumer’s perspective, though, there is a huge difference between cheap and free. Give a product away and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business, one of clawing and scratching for every customer. The psychology of “free” is powerful indeed, as any marketer will tell you.

That’s huge.  I have personally experienced this dozens of times, when I downloaded free chapters, or free E-books, and then actually ended up buying the full book, or the larger more comprehensive second book the author of the initial free book wrote.

There’s a name for this type of free, according to the article: Cross-Subsidies.  This is where something is a loss leader, such as razors, and you make money on the blades. Or if you actually allow street vendors in Brazil to burn and sell your CDs, and keep all the money, while you get the promotional benefit as a band and sell sold-out shows, as Anderson noted about Brazilian band Banda Calypso have done with much success.

Here’s the taxonomy of free, according to Anderson:

  • Freemium. Users of the free content or free software, the basic versions. 1 per cent of the paying users support 99 per cent of the non-paying users, because it costs the company next to nothing to support the 99 per cent.
  • Advertising. This is the typical model of TV, radio, publications, Yahoo, Google, etc.
  • Cross-subsidies.  The idea of the loss-leader, such as the Banda Calypso example.
  • Zero marginal cost. The distribution model of digital products, where there is no cost involved in its continued reproduction.  Think digital music in peer-to-peer networks, where the music industry is losing the battle and bands are deciding to join ‘em instead of beat ‘em.
  • Labor Exchange. Where using the services of a website such as Digg or voting on Yahoo Answers, for example, provides value in and of itself by making it a better product.
  • The Gift Economy. Sometimes money is not the main motivator.  Think Wikipedia, a labor of love of thousands of individuals who just want to educate the world.

So how do you actually make money in a world where everything is free? As economics teaches, anything of which there is a scarcity is something you can make money on.  Computational power and Internet resources are not scarce. What is scare, according to Anderson, are time and respect. As anderson states:

The “attention economy” and “reputation economy”

What does that mean? If we can help somebody’s reputation (page rank, etc.), and help people gain attention, such as traffic which leads to money (ads), then we’ve got a business.  This is something that Chris Johnson over at GenuineChris has done successfully in order to leave the mortgage industry rat-race and become a freelancer.  In this case free as in freedom.

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Top Things to Do in Austin and Austin411

I’ve been obsessed with doing a video about the top Austin must-sees ever since a memorable trip our family did to Disney World in Orland to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

We stayed in the beautiful Port Orleans hotel, part of Disney Resorts, and on one of the channels they had a looping video on the “Top 7 Must Sees” of Disney World.  I thought this was just a boring hotel marketing video, the one you just pass by when looking for CNN or Nickelodeon.

Not on your life.  My kids, who were 9 to 14 at the time, were glued to the TV, watching this channel instead of their standard fare. You can see it here:

As you can see, it had a cute, spunky, corny hostess with a little bit of an annoying but endearing personality, great b-roll of everything Disney, quick cuts, varied shots, great script and suspense: what’s going to be the number 1 must-see at Disney World?

Then we went to Panama City Beach for a beautiful beach wedding and found they had a 24×7 station called BeachTV, where hyper, partying, spike-haired, ex-bungee jumping guy was the host of the “Club Hour” segment.  This was one I couldn’t stop watching. This guy was always working the wildest parties at the hottest night clubs!

I had to do my own!  I partnered with an indie filmmaker, Jay Galvan, and we launched Austin411, a hotel channel targeted at visitors to Austin.  We were shown in 6 Austin hotels, including the Hilton Austin, the Renaissance, and the Hyatt Regency. Our goal was to put together video with high production values and launch it as a vehicle for local Austin businesses to advertise to Austin visitors.

Finally, my dream of doing my own version of “Disney’s Top 7 Must Sees” would be made reality.  We hired a spunky, energetic, corny, and in this case beautiful, hostess, Anya Cherkasova. Jay wrote a great script and shot beautiful video with great b-roll, varied shots, and fantastic music provided by Tony Scalzo, See for yourself:

However, we started receiving interesting feedback, “where’s her Texas accent?” “Isn’t she Russian?’

Anya IS Russian (well, actually from Kyrghystan, an ex-Soviet republic), and we never thought about the dichotomy of having a foreign-sounding hostess on a video about Austin.  Apparently there are people out there who still cannot get past that. Or maybe they have a point.  What do you think?

I still think it’s the best video on what to do while you’re visiting Austin, and Anya is a true professional who really engages the viewer.

We had a competitor, CityView TV (they have now merged with Celebrate Austin Magazine).  If you see their videos here: http://www.celebrate-austin.com, the video is ok, but it  just seems boring.  No suspense, no hostess to keep your attention, although there’s some good video work and there are lots of advertisers, such as prominent night clubs Lucky Lounge, the Chuggin’ Monkey, Red Fez. Overall, a B+ effort.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep our doors open, and they’ve expanded into a force to be reckoned with. They have all of Austin’s hotels sewn up.

What would I do different?  I think we focused too much on providing a “perfect” product, and now I would offer a quick, guaranteed turn around.  I would adopt the GTD mantra: Getting Things Done, a book by David Allen about executing.  This has been expressed perfectly by Chris Johnson over at GenuineChris, who I first learned about GTD from.

GTD is essentially that: just getting s@&% done! We spent too much time worrying about the product and not enough time delivering.

There are some other videos being made about Austin, such as Show Me Your Taco, as well as these, these and these, as well as countless others on the web or soon to be launched on local TV.

I still think the definitive Austin “what to do” video has yet to be made. Maybe a top 10 with a countdown, like the Disney video.  But who determines what’s in the Top 10? That’s a subjective matter.

Here’s my top 10:

1. Walk around the UT Campus and The Drag, my old stomping grounds when I was a student and dating Yami.

2. Go to SoCo to visit the cool quirky funky shops with my kids. Just discovered the Big Top Candy Shop the other day.

3. Catch a live band every now and then when my wife and I can get somebody to take care of Eduardo; we’ve been to see Nakia and his Southern Cousins recently, as well as Fastball at Momo’s, and I went to see The Lions and Scorpion Child at Emo’s with my two middle kids not too long ago.

4. Go to Zilker Park and ride the train with Eduardo, or go to any number of fun events such as the Trail of Lights, Kite Festival, or ACL Fest.

5. Go to The Warehouse District, including the new expanded West 5th Street extension of the Warehouse District (need to check out J. Black’s as I’ve heard it’s pretty cool). For some reason we always seem to end up at Cedar Street, and Qua’s kind of fun with the poor tiger sharks in the subterranean tank.

6. Eat Austin Hamburgers at Huts, Jo’s Hot Coffee, and Casino El Camino, and of course old UT stomping grounds Player’s where I spent many a late-night eating after “studying.” By the way, I like the Jo’s Hot Coffee on 2nd Street as that’s more kid friendly than the one on SoCo.

7. Hanging out at Whole Foods on W. 6th. A veritable cornucopia of goodness. I like the little birds that have snuck in and fly back and forth over the tables towards the front.

8. I like eating at the Zen on Anderson Lane, and the one on 30th Street is pretty good too.

9. Going to Amy’s Ice Cream. The one on West 6th tried to throw an ice cream scoop at my daughter for her to catch it in a bowl, and when she dropped the whole thing they tried again, she caught it and it they let her and her friend have ice cream for free.

10. Eating Pho Vietnamese soup at Kim Phung.

What’s your top 5, or 4, or 7 or 10 must-sees in Austin?  Comment below or email me at fernando@labastida.com with your suggestions. I received a bunch of responses when I asked my friends on Facebook what their favorite things to do in Austin were.  I will be posting them over the next few days when I have their permission.

Enjoy Austin!

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Austin and SXSW

It’s excruciating to be an Austin blogger and not be at SXSW interactive.  I’ve been missing out on all the big parties such as the huge Plutopia party, the 9th year of the SXSWi after-party, as well as the Ustream Studio Live from Austin, TX live broadband broadcast from The Belmont.

No problem: I’ve got four kids to entertain me.

However, thanks to all these new cool social media tools I’ve been living SXSW vicariously through all the Tweets and posts from some of my new-found follow-ees, many of whom were visiting from outside Austin or from abroad.

After discovering that my fellow soccer dad Mike Chapman (our daughters played soccer together for a couple of seasons) is a luminary in the social media space in Austin, I FINALLY figured out what Twitter is for: to find out what famous people are doing!

I started finding cool people who were presenting at SXSWi, such as David Dunkley Gyimah, began following them on Twitter, visited blog posts they had referenced, or checked out somebody else’s Twitter account who had been referenced in a @xxxx micro-message. These are all new people for me. Before I knew it I discovered about 7-10 cool new social media movers and shakers, about 7-10 new cool apps, and all through their various social media outlets.

Some of my favorite posts about SXSWi:

1. SXSW Rocks by David Dunkley Gyimah

2. Robert and Rocky by Scobleizer

3. Palliative Care by Alan Graham.  By the way, this is a perfect personal example of the power of social media: I would never have known about Alan if it hadn’t been for Mike Chapman’s Tweets. Alan Graham is a great Austin philanthropist whose organization, Mobile Loaves and Fish, is doing a great job of feeding the hungry.

4. Tacos and BBQ by Armando Rayo and

5. Making Austin the Hub for Social Media, by Mike Chapman. This was about an event that I actually DID go to, the one that got me excited about social media and the possibilities it provides for Austin to distinguish itself in a unique way, separate from the “Keep Austin Weird,” “Live Music Capital,” and “Silicon Hills” monikers.

So while I missed all the cool parties, I didn’t really miss a beat.

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Great new site/book for salespeople!

Check out this fantastic new site I just found thanks to Scott Schnaars of Socialtext

http://genuinechris.com/2009/03/10/freelaner-cold-calling-video-redux/

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Sales people apparently DO need social media

Well, after posting my first blog in almost a year, I did a little web search and found this gem of a blog post, Why Sales People Need Social Media, by Socialtext sales guy Scott Schnaars.  It’s actually a blog post about a white paper by Axel Schulze at Xeequa.

Good one Scott!

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The re-launch of my blog: technology for business and social media for sales reps

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything to my blog; actually almost a year now.  I just didn’t have the passion for it anymore.  Data Integration just didn’t juice me up.  I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past few months, and after attending my first meeting of the Austin Social Media Club, and thinking about what’s going on in the world in general, and Austin in particular, I got excited again.

I decided to open it up to talk about two topics of interest to me.

1. Technology for Business To expand on my previous mission to discuss integration software as it relates to business goals and discuss technology from a business perspective.  Many companies fall into the trap of discussing technology for technology’s sake, and don’t do anything to make the connection between their technology and the actual bottom line benefits their customers can gain by implementing their technology.  I believe that software is ultimately a business tool, and not a technology tool, so the goal of this blog is to deconstruct a technology company’s sales pitch and try to figure out if it provides any value to a business or not.

2. Social Media for Sales People To discuss social media and it’s use by technology sales executives.  Since launching my original blog Integration for Business in November of 2007 I’ve been fascinated by social media.  I was actually first turned on to the concept by a weird source, the book Never Cold Call, while I was working as a sales rep at Pervasive Software.  I bought this book from a Google Ad Word (I kid you not) ad on one of my favorite social networking sites,  LinkedIn.  However I still haven’t figured out if social media can be effective as a sales tool to individual sales executives working for corporations, or if it’s still more valuable as a new corporate marketing tool for the corporation itself. So, another one of my goals will be to explore the benefits of social media for sales representatives in order to verify some of the claims of sales gurus such as Frank Rumbauskas or Bill Caskey.

Frank Rumbauskas especially will be examined after his claim that Cold-calling is dead, as per his video here.  What do you think? Will social media replace cold-calling as a tool for lead-generation for sales people?

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MDM, Data Integration, and Cat Food

I’m going to be attending the Spring 2008 MDM Summit in San Francisco March 31-April 1, so I thought it would be appropriate to brush up on the latest and greatest in Master Data Management.  In the process, I ran into three articles today that do a perfect job of tying it all together and making it real.

In Loraine Lawson’s blog Mergers and Integrations, there is a great posting on the petty power plays between the owners of different silos of corporate data (mostly customer data), which leads to the conclusion: the Master Data Management challenge is not so much a question of which data integration technology to use, but of resolving the corporate culture clash between those who are willing to share data vs. those who want to protect their turf.

While this is all good and well, my question is: who cares about Master Data Management anyway? Maybe the description of Master Data Management from an official source can explain why MDM is relevant.  According to Jill Dyché, partner of Baseline Consulting, she cites a definition from her book “Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth,” in an interview with James Powell in Enterprise Systems:

…we define MDM as “the set of disciplines and methods to ensure the currency, meaning, quality, and deployment of a company’s reference data within and across subject areas.”

What? Did anybody get that? To borrow from a blog posting on another topic, Business Intelligence, Ann All says:

IT folks who throw out terms like ETL and OLAP, blather about “single versions of the truth” and get bogged down in discussions over how many terabytes of data their business intelligence tools can handle are missing out on a rare opportunity to wow business users.

Ann’s whole blog post is about telling the customer stories about how Business Intelligence has helped actual companies.

Well, providence supplied me with my story via one of my Google Alerts emails. A fantastic article in Internet Retailer by Don Davis entitled Do You Know Me? brings it all together.  The article makes absolutely no mention of jargon such as MDM or Single Version of the Truth, but talks about how Petco, REI and Build-A-Bear are able to more effectively target their customers with personalized offers and messages based on their offline and online purchasing history, and web browsing trends.

Price interviews, among others, John Lazarchic, director of e-commerce at Petco.  Here’s the money quote from the article:

It’s all aimed at making offers relevant. “If a customer buys 40-pound bags of dog food in the store because he doesn’t want to pay shipping charges, I want to keep marketing messages for store stuff store-specific,” Lazarchic says. “But if he’s buying three and a half pound bags of cat food online, I’ll send him online cat offers. I want to keep it specific by channel and pet type.”

So what is MDM?  It’s all about cat food, or rather consolidating data on your customers from various sources so you can market the right cat food using the right delivery method to the right customer.  How did Petco get this data?  They built a data warehouse, merging customer data stored in information silos gleaned from their e-commerce site, their online analytics engine, and their PALS loyalty system for on-site retail purchases.  Price does not mention the term Master Data Management ANYWHERE in the article, but that’s essentially what it is.

So why is MDM relevant?  Why care if you use this or that data integration technology, or if the retail marketing team or the online marketing team hordes or shares their data on the same exact customers who shop online and in their stores?  Just look to what REI, Petco, and Build-A-Bear are doing to provide a relevant and satisfying shopping experience, or rather, relationship, with their customers.

Even though I used a retail example from a retail-oriented online publication, MDM can apply to any other business scenario where different versions of information on the same physical entity exists. But these are the type of stories that make MDM real.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers SHPE.

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