Saturday, October 31, 2009

It does not take Social Media to Create a Following

Many marketing "gurus" have thrown all of their chips on Social Media and have spun the roulette wheel of success. While for some companies it has hit, for many (if not most) it has missed.

The main goals of Social Media in regards to commercialization is to reach new customers and maintain repeat customers by starting a conversation, building a personal relationship, and establishing a following. While I agree that all of these goals are excellent and can be very important to companies, especially national and international brands, I do NOT think that Social Media is always the best path for obtaining these goals.

I hear small business owners being told they need to start a blog, a twitter account, and a facebook fan page. Really? Do they?

Sure, I don't think it will hurt anything if they do, but I can think of better ways to spend your money and your time.

Lets look at one of my favorite restaurants in Indianapolis: Yats. Yats is a Cajun Creole Restaurant founded by Joe Vuskovich. First off, Yats offers fantastic food, cheap prices, and a fun New Orleans atmosphere. However, those qualities alone will not guarantee success, let alone a following.

Yats's success stems directly from Joe. Half the time I visit Yats (which is almost weekly), I will see Joe. He is not acting like a boss or an owner... he is opening the door for people. Bringing their food. Taking orders. And socializing with the local patrons. This is where the personal relationship begins. If Joe spent his time writing blog posts, I am sure he would get some followers... but his following would not be as large or as personal as the relationships he is building each day by being there in person.

Joe's personality has spread throughout the entire organization. The staff does an excellent job of being friendly and remembering repeat customers. This is key, when you come and are recognized you feel as though you are part of the group. You belong here, you are member of the Yats family. It makes you want to come back, to bring your friends, and to leave healthy tips.

The thing that keeps coming back to my mind is that you are treated as a friend instead of a customer. A prime example of this is that I visited a month ago and forgot my money. I about left the line, but they said not to worry about it, just get them back the next time. Seriously? They didn't even take my name, number, or amount I owed them. They just handed me my food and said they trusted me. Wow! Immediately after lunch I got some money and made sure I left a hefty tip.

The point of all this is that you can build personal relationships, conversations, and a following without starting a Blog, Twitter Account, or fan page. In fact, those tools should be used secondary... your primary focus should be how do you run your business. Are you running through the motions or are you building friendships?

If you are a business owner who is currently thinking about starting a blog, stop immediately. What could you be doing in your store to create a following? What can you be doing to start conversations? What can you be doing to create personal relationships?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Google and Bing now search Twitter

Techcrunch recently posted about how Google and Bing have made deals with Twitter to add searching "Tweets" to their services.

They mention ranking tweets as being a hard problem to solve... at first I thought what is so hard? You already have twitterholic, twitterank, and twitter grader. Twitter Grader seeming to be the most in depth and informative, while TwitterRank comes up with an ambiguous number (hurray! I am 15.93... whatever that means) and Twitterholic comes up with a rank for the site as well as a rank for your location.

However, it is the "real time" aspect of the search that seems to be the issue. When it comes to Tweets, it is all about timing and keeping ahead of the latest and greatest wave of information. When you search on Twitter, you find the most recent posts which have nothing to do with relevancy or ranking mentioned above. If I search for Bing today, I would want to see tweets about how Bing is now searching Twitter. I would not be interested in tweets about Bing's initial release months ago, even if those older tweets were from @Bing itself.

So there is the rub. How do you obtain the most recent AND most relevant posts? It will be interesting what they come up with. It would be great if they could track the number of times a tweet has been Retweeted, but I am not sure if that is a possibility especially considering how many retweets either get a comment added to them or they get edited down to fit in the user's name.

If it were up to you, would you put more emphasis on how recent the post was or how highly ranked the user is?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Very Slick Web Portfolio: Mighty Dream

I've been on a kick of portfolio based blog posts ever since I got the gig to teach the "Online Portfolio" class at Butler University next semester.

Sick of them? Well, sorry. Move along, because as the title suggests I have another portfolio post for you.

I am biased, since he is my cousin and all, but Mighty Dream just got a huge face lift this month. And by face-lift I mean going from a splash page to a full service portfolio w/ integration into Tumblr and ties to social media. Check out what the Mighty Dream has to offer.

This portfolio has everything a portfolio should include. All the necessary information... check. A plethora of work... and quality work at that. You'll notice he only has his latest and greatest work... nothing that is outdated or things he no longer cares to pursue (like his old Flash projects or video work). And finally, like all great portfolios, the site itself is a worthy piece. It displays both his slick design skills as shown in the layout, logo, and custom icons AND his coder skills as shown by the dynamic aspects of the site. He describes both the design and code he used in his about page.

Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear some critique on either side of the fence.

*He did not put me up to this, nor does he know I am doing this.... I don't even think he knows I have seen the page yet.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Attend AdobeMax? Live in the Indianapolis Area?

I am putting together a small and informal panel of people who attended Adobe Max for this month's Flash Indianapolis meeting.

We will give each panel member a chance to briefly describe what they learned and experienced. I will have a few questions prepared such as what was your favorite session or what was your biggest take away. Then we will open it up to the floor for Q/A.

If that wasn't enticing enough... Afterwords we will run the beer/nacho gauntlet down Mass Ave.

Comment or tweet if you are interested in being on the panel. For everyone else in the area, keep an eye on Flash Indianapolis for specifics on the upcoming event.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flash Player and iPhone Support (Adobe Max)

There seems to be some confusion about the "Flash support" on the iPhone as I am having the same conversation multiple times.

Here is the deal as I understand it:
1. The iPhone does NOT support Flash. Not the current player, not the 10.1 player, and not the player that will come with CS5.
2. Flash player 10.1 will be supported by "most" smart phones. These phones should come out in 2010. "Most" does NOT include the iPhone.
3. Here is the tricky bit: CS5 will be able to export to an iPhone app. Again, this does not mean that the iPhone is supporting Flash, this means that Flash is exporting in a format that is accepted by the iPhone INSTEAD of exporting as a SWF file. 8BitRocket summarizes this well by comparing it to the process of exporting an FLA as a Projector file.

What does this mean? Well it means that Flash developers should no longer need to learn Objective-C to develop iPhone apps. Hopefully it will be a painless experience to develop for the iPhone. But who knows, Keith Peters and a few others have expressed their doubt that it will be smooth sailing... That's right right Keith, I am calling you out ;). Personally, I can deal with some hurdles and some restrictions as long as the performance is there in the end.

What does this NOT mean? This does NOT mean that we will be able to put SWF files on the iPhone. It does NOT mean that we will be able to make websites for the iPhone or content within websites for the iPhone.

From a business perspective, this seems to be the perfect compromise between Apple and Adobe. Apple maintains its App Store and its revenue for selling apps, but it loses its strangle hold on the Objective-C development. Adobe, on the other end, gets its foot into the iPhone arena and becomes an instant player on the iPhone app development front, but it still does not have its holy grail of getting Flash browser support on the iPhone.

It will be interesting to see if Apple accepts this compromise or if it pushes back in some manner.