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Posted: January 17, 2011 in creative, inspire, poetry

I write my pain
not with the woodgrain of the silent #2
but with the soft swish
of my grandfathers fountain pen

Recording my dreams
my choices
my sins
my joys
my highs and lows

Seeing my words
makes them more real
so I can dilute them
or flavor them
with reason
To make them less painful
or to relive them as they simmer and season.

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See our video. We need your help. We need it today. Let’s do our part together to make this world a better place ONE THING at a time.

You wish the world was a better place? Why not join the revolution and start today. Come by our food drive table at PCC in Edmonds, and help us gather non-perishable donations for the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle.

About a week ago my eldest daughter, Lainey, came to me with an idea. This is my daughter. She’s a sweetie pie. She’s often full of ideas and so I listened, waiting for the words “can I have”, or “will you buy me”, which are, in my defense, most of the ideas you normally hear from teenagers.

What I heard however, was something completely different. What I heard was “can you help me help someone else?”

She wanted to run another food drive like we did a few months ago at PCC in Edmonds, WA . This time, however, she wanted the food drive to help The Bread of Life Mission in Seattle, an organization that we volunteer at once a month. Of course, I was surprised, and then touched, and then energized to help my daughter do her “thing”.  Her sisters agreed this was a great idea, and they were quickly on board to dedicate a Saturday to helping the homeless.

When you least expect it your children can surprise you and make you realize that you have led them well by example. And then they make you wonder what it is that you do in your own life every day that makes a difference in our world. It’s not every day that your children lead you by THEIR example, and remind you that you have opportunities all around you to make a better community in a multitude of ways. I’m truly honored to have children as wonderful as mine.

Every Day One Thing, a startup in Seattle, will be sponsoring the drive, and The Bread of Life Mission is going to help us promote it. I hope all of you reading this will come out to PCC in Edmonds this Saturday, May 1st. We’ll be there from 9am to 2pm, taking donations of non-perishable foods. Every Day One Thing will be on hand to help you learn how to translate your donations into dots on their website, marking every time you do a “thing”. Read more about Edot, and their mission to make the world a better place or watch a quick video of what Edot is, by clicking here.

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I had a great conversation today with Greg Meyer, Customer Experience Manager at Gist. I’d been having some difficulties getting parts of their site to work – and he gave me a call to talk about it.

First? Wow. A company as large and dynamic as Gist is connecting with their customers one by one – by phone – to talk about how they can be better. In an age where beta moves to alpha faster than Britney gets married, it’s amazing to me that a company would take the time to really talk to their customers.

Second? Holy listening skills, Batman! Greg was attentive to my explanations of the errors I’d been receiving and proceeded to ask me for my thoughts on how their service could be better. He asked for MY THOUGHTS. They actively use their customers feedback to develop better code, better design, and better experience.  Though I’d been having a poor experience in a certain area of the site, my “experience” with Greg made it all ok.

Let me say for the record that I already loved what they had to offer. I don’t know how I kept all my contacts straight before I started using Gist last August, but now I can’t work without it. They’ve become a lifeline for me – not just professionally, but also socially. I can see just about every application that I am connected to socially, in real-time, and what my contacts are doing and saying, in real-time, so I can stay abreast of everything.

So this blog post is a huge shout out to Gist for making my online life a better one. Keep up the great work. Get the Gist.

White speckled starling,
eating withered crumbs from our table
tossed carelessly upon the wintry lawn,
your quick and lively gait inspire me with spring.

It is with great trepidation
that I muscle forth each morning from my own warm comfort
and seek out crumbs of knowledge;
my own daily bread.

I wink earnestly at the bus driver
and count exact change for the New York Times
and listen intently to confessions of strangers
on their squawking mobile phones.

Oh, to be born a bird
with little to do but hunt and peck
and avoid the tireless hunt of
Sam, the neighbor’s cat.

Would I trade this melancholy life
of human stuffs and necessities?

Would I dare to have such simplicity
as the bird with its crumbs?

I think I couldn’t survive living
such a simple life
without such things as television and cell phones
to keep me from spending too much time with myself.

It is these common goods of the American dream
that keep me from knowing
my full self; my bare and naked truths.

And that is my safety-net.
Not
ready
yet.

It’s true. Heroes don’t always wear tights. Or latex. Many don’t have superpowers. Most don’t even talk about how or why they are a hero. Many of the worlds heroes are quietly changing the world around them, one good deed at a time, and even their very best friend doesn’t even know it. Sort of like Ironman and his best pal, Rhodes.

Here in Seattle we have some very quiet heroes. And these heroes wear aprons. For most of them, you’d never know that once a month, they gather early on a Saturday afternoon to hit the streets to feed the homeless on their turf.

These apron wearing heroes are helping fight hunger on the streets of Seattle. Once a month, these random heroes gather at the Bread of Life Mission in downtown Seattle to prepare for that day’s Drive By Fooding. Packing hundreds of potatoes, gallons of steaming hot chili, bags of chili toppings, utensils, water and more into the Bread of Life Mission’s vans, they set out to find where the homeless are gathering on that particular day.

When those apron clad warriors climb out of those van’s they are a fast moving team, almost military in style with the speed and precision with which they move- quickly setting up tables and preparing for the lines of hungry homeless men and women that will form within minutes. For one to two hours they pile protein packed chili atop stick-to-your-ribs potatoes, slathering on cheese, and handing these nutritious meals to those that haven’t had one in days.

However, equally as important, these heroes are beacons of hope to the homeless men and woman who have become used to society seeing right through them. These heroes let the homeless know that someone does care.

The heroes are there to let them know that the Mission can help them change their lives. So far, the Mission has had several folks join their recovery program just because of the Drive By Fooding efforts. If helping a homeless person transition from street to recovery isn’t the act of a hero, I don’t know what is.

Want to be an apron wearing hero? The only qualification is that you care. Sign up to be a Drive By Fooding volunteer at the Bread Of Life Mission’s website.

Shiv Singh is one of the foremost experts on Social Media – both B2B and B2C. His bio lists his numerous presentations SXSWi, Web 2.0 (New York), the Direct Marketing Association’s Leader’s Forum, OMMA Global, O’Reilly Graphing Social Patterns, the ARF Annual Summit and Digiday Social. He is often interviewed by Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, and Adweek for his views on digital strategy and social influence marketing.

I highly recommend his book, “Social Media Marketing for Dummies” to anyone with even a passing interest in this growing market.

Below is a slideshare presentation given at the Digital Book World Conference in January of this year. Watch, and enjoy.

One of the things I often hear when talking to other people in my industry is the lack of small business owners understanding of how to synchronize (content) in all the various forms of social media. They always feel that they should be doing one thing on Twitter, another on Facebook, and IF they have a blog at all, something entirely different there. I’d like to take some time to dispel those myths. If you work in any kind of small business your online social media presence must be consistent – though geared toward different types of readers. Follow the next steps to make sure that YOUR online presence is in alignment with the persona you are trying to project and the target you are trying to reach.

Your personal online persona is yours alone to toy with. But if your brand is involved in your personal social media presence, then these rules apply as well.

1. Create and maintain a Facebook Fan or Friend page.
Being engaged with your consumer is, in my opinion, the single greatest lead strategy. It’s how brands get my attention on the web. When it’s less about the product or service and more about ME, it becomes personal, and I become a brand ambassador for the brand itself. In addition, a Facebook page personalizes your business. In this day and age when we are all so technologically connected, it’s smart to take a piece of a high tech application, and make it REAL for your user. With the proper use of Facebook, you can connect with your readers in a way that brings you more business.

  • It gives friends/fans a better idea of what you do.
  • It increases your Google ranking, especially with back links.
  • It helps screen new customers by letting them see more about how you do business.
  • It brings you more clients/increases client retention by providing a space for real-time testimonials to your product or service.

As someone who practically lives online, I can’t imagine being able to build a business without creating a Facebook page and regularly managing it.  I would recommend posting to your Facebook page at least once a day, depending on the length and quality of the posts. If you write longer posts, you can decrease your frequency to once per week, if you’d like.

Here’s an example of a well thought out business Facebook page – one that I personally subscribe to not just because I love their cupcakes but because I love how they promote themselves:

2. Create and maintain a blog.
While Facebook is limiting in the amount of content you post at one time, and Twitter automatically uses the K.I.S.S. method of 140 characters per post, a blog is a more free-ing way to connect with your consumer. A blog is a great platform for showing your expertise in your given business. A place to showcase finished work product (and cross promote other business/clients), show your prowess in solving a consumers problem, or giving free advice, a blog makes you both professional AND accessible. And yes, you can and SHOULD be both. And again, when connected to your website (i.e. blog.yourbusinessnamehere.com) it will increase your traffic. A blog post once a week one to four times a month is best. You want to keep bringing your readers back. Consistent posting on various topics related to YOUR business means you’re the expert that they’ll come to, and the business that they will recommend.

You'll notice that their blog hasn't had a post since March 2008

3. Join Twitter. Find new customers you never knew you wanted.
Twitter, my friends, is not going to go away. With more and more consumers and companies jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, it has become more and more apparent that it’s one of the fastest ways to make OR break a customer relationship. Something that is becoming more and more prevalent on Twitter is businesses using this vehicle to promote their business specials (coupons, deals, promotions) in small bytes. This is an “easy to swallow” (pardon the pun) method to promote their expertise with industry articles and links, connection to others in their industry, and to link to their businesses website/blog/facebook page. One of the most powerful components of Twitter is that your users help you become the go-to in your industry. At the same time, Twitter can also break you, if you don’t stay engaged. For example – A customers makes a complaint about your product/service – it’s visible to the entire world. This is your opportunity to show just how well you handle the issue – and make a concerned customer (and their potential follower base) a lifetime customer. Whether you’re a success or failure on Twitter is all a matter of how engaged you are.

4. Post links to your Facebook, Twitter and Blog ON your company’s website.
I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but I will anyway. Consumers who have to search high and low to find you will give up and move on the next possible business name on their list. Don’t be the next name. Be the only name. Use the web to your advantage.

5. If you want Social Media to work for you, but you don’t want to do the work – you should hire someone to do it for you.
The reason Social Media Managers exist is because it’s their JOB to understand the ins and outs of the impact of Social Media and how to track the ROI. Like you’re an expert at what you do, they’re experts at what they do. Can you have a successful social media program without one? Yes. But how successful that campaign is depends on how much time you put into it.  You should be spending about 20 hours a week on just your own social media work. Kinda cuts into your regular business time doesn’t it? And having a social media manager working DIRECTLY for you, means that they understand the ins and outs of your business. They create plans for a successful program – setting goals like google analytics conversions, increased traffic, sales leads, optimized SEO and more.  And because they know how to do it in a very time-effective manner, they can do it in less than 20 hours a week, saving you time, money and energy and getting you great results.

Social Media really isn’t as simple is posting a YouTube video on a Facebook wall, or telling the Twitterverse that you just ate a burger. If it’s your personal stuff, that’s fine. But if you’re a business you have to engage. You have to be the expert. And if you can’t do all that yourself, it’s time to find someone who is an expert at what they do, to make you look like the online expert at what you do. Facebook, Blogs and Twitter are the foundation of a good social media campaign. Tune back in for my next post when I give you my list of some of the new up and coming ways to connect with your consumers.

Here’s a great presentation by Sally Hogshead about the seven “fascination” triggers (or “buy mechanisms”). This Slideshare precedes Sally’s book “Fascinate” due to be released next month – sure to be another hit

This is definitely worth bookmarking and checking out. Also, check out Sally’s website. Great info.

One early morning this week I stopped by my local office supply store (a store that rhymes with shtaples) to pick up a few needed items for my current to-do list.

I noticed a young-ish couple at the end of an aisle with puzzled looks on their faces, pressing the corners of a video screen mounted above what seemed to be, from a distance, a printer display. I edged closer, intrigued by their confusion. Now, I’m not one who normally enjoys office supply store voyeurism, but my interest is always piqued when I see interactive in store advertising. So of course, I had to watch.

Once they walked away bewildered (and not purchasing said product) I headed over to check out the display myself. Sure enough, it had the appearance of an interactive kiosk. However, it was NOT an interactive kiosk. Just a video display. Icons on each corner of the screen gave the impression that one could go “home”, “print”, “go forward” or “go backward”. Pressing on the “buttons” did nothing. Except make that couple very confused. And embarrassed.

See a video of the kiosk here.

What supported this assumption of interactivity? Perhaps the fact that this advertising was for HP’s new web printer – where you can print directly from the web without being connected to a computer in any way. Why wouldn’t such a high tech product be supported by an interactive kiosk? Had I not watched the couple before me be fooled by the usability (or lack thereof), I probably would have reacted the same way my first time at the kiosk.

Most customers don’t like to feel fooled, or feel LIKE fools. I know I don’t. I can guarantee I will not have a second go at any experience that leaves me feeling negative. So if you are going to create advertising that even remotely has the appearance of being interactive, you better make sure that it is. Otherwise, provide content in the form of print support so that customers know that the kiosk is a video only display. In this day and age, people have come to expect a rock solid ad campaign for high tech products (thanks a LOT, Apple) so you either need to give the customers what they want, or quit trying to fake them out.

What’s the lesson? If it’s going to look like a duck, and sound like a duck, make sure it’s a duck. Otherwise the brand just might get goosed.

***

Interactive kiosks are becoming more and more common these days, drawing in users with interactivity. Here’s an example of an interactive kiosk display that works well: