Archive for Brand

Social Media Porn Star

I was watching some show on MTV today about people being addicted to porn. In fact, one woman was so addicted, that she wanted to become a porn star herself. The show goes on to show scenes of her crying because her parents aren’t proud of her being a porn star, etc, etc. But here’s what occurred to me: why does anybody who does porn automatically become a porn star? You’re a star after just one film, regardless of the quality? The world doesn’t work like this. What’s with this self-anointed stardom?

And then I realized there is another group of people that are just like “porn stars”: The ever-popular Social Media Expert. I know, it’s super popular to criticize the social media expert – and I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. But, understanding social media as a channel for strategic and effective communications is a large part of my job, and there are many many people who are really undermining the level of understanding needed to be a “star.” With little to no experience in understanding social media as a communication tool, folks are fully prepared to anoint themselves as experts and oversell their under-qualified services.

If your girlfriend set up a camera in the bedroom one night, would you start listing “porn star” on your resume? No? Well, then why do you believe that you’re a social media “expert” because you decided to set up a Facebook page in 2008? My point is simply that you’re no more a Social Media Expert than the girl who got breast implants and decided to do a film in her neighbor’s garage for $50 is a porn star.

There’s more to being a star; there’s more to being an expert. Don’t kid yourself. And, for everybody else: don’t believe everyone who tells you they’re a star.

"I'm a star, baby" (photo by danielcorba via flickr)

"I'm a star, baby" (photo by danielcorba via flickr)


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My Other Life…

I told myself I would never do a blog entry where I apologized for not posting in a while. So, I’m kinda not doing that right now. I’ve got to find a harmony with the things that I blog about in this space (typically marketing or new media driven) and the things that I blog about on the KPS|3 Marketing blog (typically marketing or new media). Since the topics are starting to tend to be the same, I’ve got to do some soul searching and decide what I really want this space (mikemywords) to be and how it will be distinct from my work blog.

In the meantime, here are some of my more recent blog postings on the KPS|3 blog. I think you’ll find some articles you enjoy among this group…

1. Is TV Advertising Dying?

2. Planning an Advertising Campaign in Multiple Languages

3. How Do You Network?

4. Social Media is NOT a Goal

5. Social Media Lesson: Avoid a Bad Haircut

6. Marketing Rule: A.B.M.

7. Legally Blog

8. Your E-Mail Address Says a Lot About You

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PostSecret: A Lesson in Social Media Excellence

needles  hacker  baby   

PostSecret is a very interesting entity. It calls for people to submit their secrets (some funny, some sad, some loving, some scandalous), anonymously, on a postcard and mail them to PostSecret’s founder, Frank Warren. Frank then selects a handful of postcards to share, online, once a week (Frank actually refers to PostSecret as a “community art project”). I’m not going to review the history of PostSecret (although it’s very interesting, and Frank now tours around both with museum displays of submitted secrets, and speaking to large groups about the therapy of letting go of secrets, among other things). But I encourage you to read up on the history of PostSecret (plus a pretty decent little interview on Guy Kawasaki’s blog, actually).

This post, however, is to highlight how well PostSecret has done in entering the world of social media. I know I usually complain about how awful most organizations are at participating in social media, but this time is different. I’ve been consistently impressed with PostSecret, and their ability to be true to their community and offer value to the relationship. PostSecret secrets have been simply shared on a blog for a long time now, and I feel like they cautiously moved into the world of social media. Based on what I’ve read, this was due, in part, to the PostSecret Community (those loyal PostSecret followers) begging to not “taint” PostSecret in the social mediasphere. Ironically, I feel like they didn’t want to share the secret pleasure they had discovered in PostSecret with the social media world. PostSecret moved into Facebook not too long ago, and then recently into Twitter. And it’s really their Twitter presence I’d like to applaud the most. Here’s the top 5 things they’ve done BRILLIANTLY in their Twitter community:

1. Kept It Real: Frank is at the heart of all communication. He is the face of PostSecret, he is transparent, and he is accessible. Followers feel like they have a relationship with him. He responds in a reasonable amount of time, despite having more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. He also talks about real things that are happening in his life. Sure, the tweets about seemingly mundane parts of people’s lives are what makes Twitter laughable and futile, it’s also what makes you a real person. People don’t want to talk to your brand – they want to talk to a PERSON who represents your brand well. So, it’s ok to pepper in some flavor with an occasional tweet that contains your opinion, or your joys, or your frustrations. we all have them. Use discretion, but be real. Who ever wanted to join a community of logos?

2. Asked for Feedback: Frank will be publishing his fourth PostSecret book soon, and I have LOVED that he is asking his community on Twitter for feedback on the cover artwork being sent to him by his publisher (example here). Heck, he’s even asked his Twitter community to submit their own cover artwork for consideration. It’s this kind of engagement that is frickin’ gold! We don’t feel like followers of PostSecret, we feel like valuable members of a community. You should all strive to offer your community opportunities to give you feedback. What can you ask for feedback on?

3. Asked for Help: Besides asking for feedback (a form of help), Frank has even reached out to his Twitter community to ask for help with translating, decoding, understanding certain postcard secrets that are sent to him. He recently asked for help decoding a Star Wars coded secret he received (here). Think about how you can apply this to your organization. How can you ask for assistance? Make your community feel valuable. 

4. Gave Added Value: One way to reward your community for connecting with you in a social media space is to give them “more than the average bear.” What I’m saying, in a convoluted way, is thank them for being a part of your community by giving them things that the people that simply browse your website wouldn’t get. For example, a sneak peak at a new product, a discount that only your community gets, a prize giveaway or just some kind of access to something that ONLY they get. For PostSecret, it’s sharing secrets that come in the mail before they get published (and some of them never get published, making the community feel that much more special). We’re getting secrets that nobody else is getting! So, think about it. What can you offer (OF REAL VALUE!) that adds value to your community, and makes them feel special for being a part of it? It has to be more special than simply reminding people in your community of the discount that you’re already offering every Tom, Dick and Harry.

5. Sparingly Self-Promoted: Yes, you need to promote. And yes, PostSecret promotes. Frank promotes his book release, his tours and the art shows. But he does it sparingly. It’s OK to talk about the great things you’re doing with passion and excitement. Again, we didn’t join this community to be sold to. BUT, Frank gives us so much value in being a part of this community, that we don’t mind the occasional promotion of a book or a show. Think about it in terms of talking to a friend – if they had a new product, or an exciting tour, or something coming up and mentioned it, you wouldn’t consider it promotional. Well, that’s how it works here. It’s just like a buddy mentioning another exciting thing that is happening in their life. So, promote, but promote in an unassuming way that reads like another excited statement about your life. 

My hat is off to you, PostSecret (and specifically Frank Warren), for being a glowing example of how to use social media properly. Thank you for doing it right. There are so many people treating Twitter as a new ad platform, that’s it’s refreshing to see you use it as a community.

(note: images from

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Twitter Sinners

I know… “Another post about Twitter? I’m sick of it!” 

Sorry, but folks are still so blatantly abusing Twitter, I’m forced back on my platform to expose the heathens. Twitter is not a new advertising platform. It’s not a new place for SPAM. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this VERY SIMPLE law of most all social media: treat it like a real relationship. Right now, you’re not treating Twitter right. You’re abusing it – and that makes you a Twitter Sinner. I’m here to save your soul.

1. Social Media is not about collecting friends. How many friends do you have in real life? I need an exact number. You don’t know, do you? Why not? Because you don’t collect friends. That’s not how friendship, or any relationship, works. So, why do people think that social media is about collecting friends? Do not obsess about how many friends or followers you have. You’re not a better person if you have more followers. 70,000 – oh my! There is no direct correlation between followers/friends and your worth. Deal with it!

2. Give value to your relationship. Any good relationship is symbiotic – you give to me, I give to you. Too often, Twitter relationship are parasitic – one party consumes and doesn’t give back. These are the worst Twitter sinners. Are your messages purely promotional? Or do you offer value to the relationship you’ve created? Do you share articles, insights, breaking news, anything of value? No, telling people you can make them a millionaire is not a post of value. It’s a selfish, promotional tweet.

3. Content before followers. You should post a dozen updates (arbitrary number) with some sort of value before you start hunting for relationships (followers). You’re disgusting, following 800 people with 4 updates. If you want to have a relationship with me, I want to know it will be worthwhile. This is also a rule about giving value to your relationships. 

4. Be upfront with who you are. Are you a company that will be posting promotions, sneak peaks, extras, etc? Are you a person, who will sprinkle tweets with updates about your personal life? It doesn’t matter what you are, I just need to know. I need to know what kind of relationship I’m getting into here. 

5. Do more than re-tweet. Look at your stream of updates – how often are you beginning it with “RT” (ReTweet)? You’re just an aggregator. Have an opinion. Generate your own stuff. Sometimes it’s nice to have somebody passing info along from multiple sources – so I understand if my position on this is controversial, but you’re asking me to have a relationship with YOU. You are the guy at the party, who, when asked his opinion on a matter, quotes somebody else. You’re Matt Damon‘s character on Good Will Hunting. And nobody likes Matt Damon. (OK, just kidding. That was a cheap shot at Damon). 

Here’s a few Twitter Sinners I’ve collected just today. Repent, and change your ways…

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10 Tips for Being a Better Presenter

Seth Godin Presentation - photo via Flickr/Erik Charlton

Seth Godin Presentation - photo via Flickr/Erik Charlton

I have been giving a lot of presentations (on new media) in the past year or two, and have also been at numerous summits, expos, conventions, etc and sat through presentations – both good and bad. I’ve learned some things along the way about being a better presenter. Am I a perfect presenter? No. I probably even violate my own rules from time to time. But, presenting is about practicing and getting better. This isn’t the list to end all lists, either. I encourage you to add your own best tips to this list. What’s tip #11?

1. Know Your Material. OK, this one is not up for negotiation. You have most likely been asked to speak because you are considered an authority on a particular subject. Or, perhaps you’ve been asked to make a keynote speech or present an award. It is obvious when you don’t know your stuff. Try not to use notes. Being prepared and presenting in a conversational way is going to make a huge difference. I’ve found that presenting actually forces you to know your material better, and forces you to do some additional research. This also allows you to speak with conviction. The best presenters I’ve seen speak with conviction.

2. Limit Words on Your Slides. God, there are some dull PowerPoint presentations! Words only make them worse. I’ve learned from BrainRules, that humans are rules by sight. Words do not excite sight. Images do, and they help us remember content better. According to BrainRules, you’ll remember 10% of what you hear. Add a picture, and you’ll remember 65% of it. “But, I can see the text on the bullet points.” Wrong, bozo! You retain double with images that you retain with text alone. You know who does a great job of using images in his presentation? Seth Godin. He’s incredible. I watched his presentation for Tribes, and I don’t know that he used a single word – all images. And this was a long presentation – but I was engaged the entire time! 

3. Freshen Things Up Every 10 Minutes. OK, I learned this one from BrainRules, too. Apparently, the human brain has an attention span of about 10 minutes (some could make a case for fewer). If you have a presentation that is longer than 10 minutes, you need to tell a relevant story, show a relevant video, or do a relevant activity. Don’t screw with the rules of the brain. They’re pretty concrete. 

4. Harness Your Energy. Because it’s distracting. Many people have anxiety or nervous energy, or even excitement when presenting. That energy has to go somewhere. Often, it comes out in fidgeting or pacing. When you present, take everything out of your pockets – coins, cell phone, shrunken heads, etc. If you don’t you will, without realizing it, fidget with them and the audience will look at nothing but you toying with things in your pocket (this is not what you want!). A lot of people like to pace around when they present – they think it gives the presentation energy. Wrong! It’s distracting. Movement can be strong in a presentation, though, and sometimes there is strength in approaching a person in the audience or referencing a visual aid. However, I gained a tip years ago that if you feet are moving, your mouth shouldn’t be. Skeptical? Try it – it works well. Otherwise, people will watch you pace back and forth and not hear a word you say.

5. Nix the Verbal Ticks. Um, er, uh, you know, such as. These are examples of verbal ticks. They’re those little filler words we mutter when our brain is taking a breath. But, like pacing, verbal ticks can be extremely distracting. Often times, when I notice a presenter is “umming” or “ahhing” I get so obsessed with predicting the next “um” that I can’t pay attention to what is being presented. Not too long ago, I actually starting tallying “ums” and got to about 100 in about 15 minutes. Sad thing is, I don’t think the presenter knew she was leaning on verbal ticks so much. So, record your next speech, or have a friend in the audience critique you (including looking out for your verbal ticks) and see if you are a victim of subconscious verbal ticks. They’re deadly.

6. Know Your Audience. Truthfully, this is probably one of the more important tips for presenters. If you don’t know about your audience, you don’t know what they want to learn about, what they’ll respond to, what jargon they will or won’t understand, what’s offensive to them or what’s important to them. If your contact can’t give you information about the audience as you’re preparing your presentation, just get as much info as you can and resolve to take a straw poll of your audience before you begin. If you’ve obeyed the rules of knowing your material and using more images than text, you can adjust your presentation on the fly and rock it hard. t also helps to meet some of the audience members ahead of time and chat with them. Ask them questions that will lead them to tell stories about experiences that you may be able to reference during your presentation as a segue or a great example. It’s super-strong to be able to say, “Karen and I were talking before we got started, and she mentioned her frustration with ___.” Of course, be aware of anything that may be too private.

7. Have Sticky Eyes. This isn’t as weird as it sounds. It’s about eye contact. Some presenters scan the room non-stop as they present, never landing on a person. Some presenters gaze into their laptop screen or stare at the projector screen. Some just stare at the back wall of the room. This is keeping you from connecting with the people you’re presenting to (oh yeah, those peeps). Make eye contact and maintain it for about three seconds. When moving on to the next person, imagine that your eye-contact is stuck and you can only separate it as though you were stuck with glue. This prevents you from the typewriter-style, shifty eye-movement from one person to the other. Sticky eyes translates as more genuine eye contact and makes them feel like you’re talking to them – it keeps them engaged. 

8. Don’t Hand Stuff Out. People will look at whatever you give them and will not listen to you. If you do want to give people handouts, tell them that you’ll provide a handout with more information after the presentation. 

9. Don’t Turn Off the Lights. OMG – major offenders. Remember in high school when the substitute teacher would turn off the lights and turn on a movie? You’d put your head down and fall asleep. Same thing happens now. People will fall asleep if you turn off the lights. Guarantee it. If you need to, dim the lights near your presentation, but don’t ever turn the lights off. Adjust your visuals if they can’t be seen in a lighter setting. 

10. Scope It Out. Know where you’re presenting, and request to check it out ahead of time. Know how big the stage is, whether you’ll have a podium or not. Know what kinds of tech hookups you have. Do you have outlets, a projector, a screen, speakers? Are you bringing the presentation on a disc, on a jump drive? Are they compatible with the equipment in the room? Hook up any equipment you’ll be using to present and do a dry run to ensure everything works well.  

Above all else – and I’m not assigning this an official number – be a likable person. If the audience doesn’t like you, they won’t listen to you. Be a person. Use voice inflection, use facial expressions, show excitement and emotion. It’s OK to be a person.

PLEASE add to this list so that I (and my readers) can become better presenters.

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Geico, Who Are You?

Geico‘s marketing efforts are confusing me. They’re really inconsistent. What’s the campaign? Is it the lizard? Is it the caveman? Is it the celebrity testimonial? Oh, maybe it’s the stack of money with the googly eyes. Er, perhaps it’s one of these motorcycle or ATV ads that have nothing to do with any of the others. Remember the, “I’ve got good news… I just saved a ton of money by switching to Geico?” 

Seriously, there seems to be a group of people sitting around a table and coming up with good ideas, and nobody to say, “no, let’s try to be consistent in our marketing efforts.” Instead, they just picked all the ideas, and said, “go with it.” 

Beside the logo slate at the end of a TV spot, I can’t tell that I’m watching a Geico spot. Sure, they’re all kind of quirky, and that is part of their brand, but they’re all so different that they don’t feel related. They don’t feel like a campaign. There are 10 different ideas, 10 different campaigns on the air. Here’s the tragedy in it all – Geico has done of good job of creating strong brand awareness, thanks to the gecko ads that started running in 1999/2000. If you recall, the (now famous) gecko pleaded with people to stop mistakenly calling him to save money on auto insurance. I’ll give Geico credit – they have a strong brand awareness. That’s why it’s tragic…

Why not use this awareness more to your advantage? I feel like with some consistency in marketing, you could leverage that recognition even further. But, until then, I’ll just be confused as to how a lizard, a caveman, squirrels, Joan Rivers, cash with a piercing stare, a baseball coach, a man on a beach with his motorcycle, and a bodyguard are a part of a cohesive ad campaign.

Here’s a list of links to some of the spots I mentioned. I figured links instead of embedding videos, to cut down on loading time.

Lizard – “Free Pie and Chips”

All Caveman Commercials


Joan Rivers Celebrity Testimonial

Googly-Eyed Cash

Motorcycle on the Beach

Female Bodybuilder

Secret Agent

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New Media 101

Here’s the link to my presentation from the Nevada Interactive Media Summit today. Thanks for all of you who attended – please let me know how you liked it. I hope you learned a lot.

New Media 101

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Thank You America! Bad Move Chrysler.

Chrysler received a $4 billion bailout from the U.S. Government. In my opinion, none of these bailouts were deserved, and it is the respective companies’ fault for having failed. But, I had no say in the matter. They got the bailout. We all know the story at this point. So, I won’t rant.

But, I saw this ad they put out a while back and had been meaning to share it with you all for a while now. They posted it on their blog, which welcomed a flood of thousands of hateful replies. The blog has since been deleted entirely. I don’t know if they actually bought any paid ad space and ran this (but if they did, the money spent on ad placement would be even more insulting).

But speculating aside, and ignoring the question of whether or not they deserved a bailout – do you think this “Thank You America” move was smart from a marketing or PR approach? If not, how do you think they should have handled it? Should they have acknowledged the bailout? Was there any good way to approach this?


Thanks for the Money!

Thanks for the Money!

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Personal Branding. Brought to you by American Idol

They each have a distinct brand.

Idol contestants. They each have a distinct brand.

Guilty pleasure admission – I watch American Idol. There, I’ve got that out in the open. I feel better (with flashes of shame). But I’ve learned a few things by watching that show, other than how to hit that high C. American Idol gives us a couple of important lessons on personal branding.

The One Who…

When talking about American Idol contestants, we typically don’t remember their names, so we describe them in other ways: She’s the hippie girl; he’s the one that sounds like Sinatra; she’s the homeless girl; she’s the cute single mother; he’s the funny one. We’re defining the contestants by a certain set of characteristics – some physical, some behavioral. But, we are defining their brand. They are capturing a distinct position in our minds and hearts. This is a brand. How do people describe you when they talk about you? “He’s the one who is really focused on ROI, with a super-fun approach.” “She’s the mobile phone expert.” “She’s an over-bearing know-it-all.” 

And, you can’t have two cute, young, country singers. We only want one. You can’t have three hippie dudes. Our minds only want one brand to occupy that position. So it is with your personal brand. For example, you simply can’t be that guy who knows a lot about websites. Too many other people can occupy that same brand. Specialize the hell out of it. Be the guy who knows everything about SEO. Or even more, be the guy that knows everything about linking strategy for SEO. Or even better, be the guy who knows everything about SEO, and does instructional podcasts weekly, and always incorporates images of 80s TV stars. I don’t know – that’s a goofy example – but you occupy a clear brand position, at least. Be unique. Stand out. Just know that you will be described as something – what will it be? How will you be described?

Embracing Your Brand…

The other major lesson learned from American Idol is embracing your own brand. Ultimately, the contestants that succeed are the ones who decide who they are, and embrace it, whole-heartedly, in everything they do. You must embrace your brand. You simply cannot occupy more than one brand position. So, embrace what you are and pump it up. If you are the nerdy one – embrace that. If you are a bleeding heart, embrace that. Being true to your brand will ultimately be more powerful than trying to occupy a brand position that you could never own. Again – stand out and be unique. But don’t deny your brand – embrace it. 

And I’ll accept that the only place I’m a star singer is in my shower.

American Idol Cheerleaders

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Living Well in a Recession – $3,000 T-Shirt

Stumbled upon this t-shirt today at that reads, “Fuck the Recession. I’m Still Rich.” You may not have a problem with it, but I think this is an awful idea. Don’t get me wrong – I get the gag – based on irony. A t-shirt that says something like this is usually not actually worn by somebody who has money. That’s what I thought, until I saw the price tag. $3,325.00! Ridiculous. I thought maybe the price itself was a joke, but I added the item to my cart, and sure enough, it costs $3,300! 

Tshirt Front

Tshirt Front

Tshirt back

Tshirt back

$3,325 at checkout

$3,325 at checkout

Here’s my problem with it. When we’re in a “recession,” you should not (as an individual or a business or organization) show signs of living or spending opulently. It’s tacky. It’s insensitive. I guess I just don’t think it’s that funny or novel to spend $3,000 on a t-shirt in this economy. People are hurting. Genuinely hurting.

To waltz around with signs of spending money lavishly is really socially insensitive to me. There are some companies that are doing this – sending out postcards that are gilded, printing Annual Reports with ornamental and lavish features. Stop doing this! Granted, in my line of business (advertising and marketing), I wish clients were spending more money – but I think it makes such poor business sense. If you even look like you’re spending a lot of money right now, you will offend customers. I don’t care if you got a good deal. Perception is reality – if you look like you spent a ton of money, you spent a ton of  money. Be aware of the messages you’re sending.

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