Archive for the ‘Social Media’ category

Social Media Vending Machine

May 31st, 2011

A few months ago, my three year old cousin was over, and he was dissatisfied that I was watching the news on TV. He walked up to my 50″ plasma and started swiping his hand against the screen to change the channel something else. When nothing happened, he looked back at me, shrugged his shoulders, and says, “It’s broken.”  I informed him that it was supposed to be that way and explained that the TV wasn’t an iPad. He shook his head and walked away. The TV was the problem, not him.

This moment made me really happy. I’m a huge fan of technology. I love progress. Innovation. Things getting better. The next generation is already tired of something I thought was amazing just a few short years ago. I’m looking forward to gesture-controlled TVs and other devices. My grandfather can navigate an iPad as easily as my cousin, and that tells me everything I need to know about where technology is going. Apple hit the nail on the head. Pepsi is trying to take it a step further.

This is Pepsi’s new social media vending machine. The huge touch screen on the front of the vending machine allows you to buy drinks for friends, or use their “Random Acts of Refreshment” feature to buy a drink for a total stranger. You can even send a video message right form the vending machine.

Not sold yet? There are important benefits for the owners of the machines too. They can monitor inventory levels and schedule deliveries remotely. That means no more unnecessary trip to the machine if it hasn’t sold enough drinks, and knowing it needs to replenshed right away when it does. More efficiency, more revenue, less work.

From the press release:

“Our vision is to use innovative technology to empower consumers and create new ways for them to engage with our brands, their social networks and each other at the point of purchase,” said Mikel Durham, Chief Innovation Officer at PepsiCo Foodservice. “Social Vending extends our consumers’ social networks beyond the confines of their own devices and transforms a static, transaction-oriented experience into something fun and exciting they’ll want to return to, again and again.”

Social Vending also enables “Random Acts of Refreshment” – the ability to buy a drink for a complete stranger through any other Social Vending system. For example, a consumer could send a symbol of encouragement someone in a city that has experienced challenging weather, or a congratulatory beverage to a student at a university that just won a championship. The platform holds potential to extend PepsiCo’s digital and social programs for its food and beverage brands.

Am I going to use this the second I see one? Absolutely. If this is a success, expect to buy everything this way really soon. I suspect Coke will be announcing their machine in 10…9…8…7….

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Borzou Azabdaftari

Borzou is managing partner of Falcon Printing & Copying, a full-service printing and graphic design company in Tysons Corner, VA. His company focuses on building relationships and delivering the highest quality print materials, from poster to invitations to business stationery, to their clients. Passionate about printing to a fault, Borzou eats, breathes, and sleeps paper and ink, and his rare combination of intellectual curiosity, technical savvy, creativity, and interpersonal skills have transformed him from a print service provider only into a branding consultant as well.

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Social Media Revolution: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

March 23rd, 2011

People seem so determined to quantify the effects of social media.  What is it doing?  What difference is it making?  Who’s benefiting?  How can it help ME?

Malcolm Gladwell published a piece in the New Yorker asking if Egypt needed Twitter to overthrow Mubarack.  He claims Twitter didn’t cause the revolution in Egypt, but that it was merely a tool.  We didn’t innovate the revolution.  The underlying causes weren’t limited to technology, and the people didn’t rise against tyranny so they could try and get to 10,000 followers.   Gladwell goes out of his way to humanize us, and take the credit away from Twitter and Facebook.

The punishment from the blogosphere was swift and merciless.  Brian Solis actually titled his response “Malcolm Gladwell, Your Slip is Showing.”  You couldn’t open a social media blog without finding a post bashing Gladwell.  Everyone claimed Egypt needed Twitter.  That revolutionaries wouldn’t have been able to unite without Facebook.  That Gladwell had lost it.  Very cute graphs and charts showing how many tweets were made and profiles updated were pushing the raw, unbridled power of social media.

The uprising in Tunisia was spawned by a street vendor who burned himself alive to protest the way authorities were treating him.  That is the power of the individual.  That is not technology.  Protestors took to the streets and were violently beaten.  As an Iranian-American I can tell you these are not uncommon events in the Middle East.  As few as five years ago, this could have been the end of this story.  Now, these incidents are recorded.  Video of the protests hit Twitter and within days a small protest in one town became a national cause.  TV stations were broadcasting the videos they pulled off social media.  There are no more veils of secrecy.  The world sees everything.  With all its benefits, social media also creates a much higher level of danger for the protestors.  If they had not been victorious, the government would know exactly who they were.  They would have paid with their lives.

Even in the recent tragedy in Japan, I’ve found many articles about how social media affected the response and news dissemination as I have about what actually happened there.  But I haven’t seen much about how social media is helping to reconnect victims, and groups are only starting to use social media for Japanese emergency relief donations.

Which brings me back to my original point.  Everyone is trying to jump on the social media bandwagon.  Everyone wants a piece of the action.  Everyone seems to have an agenda.  Everyone wants to give it credit for everything…or to diminish it.  The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.  Did Egypt need Twitter?  Need is a funny word.  They didn’t NEED twitter.  Would Mubarak have resigned without the power of social media?  Today?  Probably not.  Would he have been forced out eventually?  Maybe.

The power of social media lies with us though.  It makes all our thoughts, information, and events in our lives immediately accessible to everyone.  Like any form of power, it can be abused and used to our detriment.  If you’re new to social media, or just looking to get more out of it, here are some tips.

  • Be yourself – People often say you can be whoever you want on the internet.  If the person you decide to be isn’t you, you’re not helping anyone.  Winston Churchill used to say a lie got half way around the world before the truth put its pants on.  That is no longer the case.  The truth is right behind you, and it will catch up.
  • Be open – Not just with yourself, but to the ideas of others.  There’s plenty of room for debate, but just as social media strives for the truth, it doesn’t respond well to those it things are hiding it.  People will disagree with you.  Embrace them.  Teach them.  You’ll get your message across by appealing to the highest common denominator.  Try to quiet someone’s dissenting opinion, and you will be punished for it.
  • Be careful – The internet is forever.  Think about what you say.  You can’t take it back.
  • Be consistent – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t impact anyone in social media in that amount of time.  Keep plugging away.  People will pay attention if you have a good message.  They will care.  Probably not right away.

Could you imagine if the real world were like that?  With today’s instant video-capture,  global feedback, and the fact that social media gives EVERYONE a voice, that day could be coming.

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Borzou Azabdaftari

Borzou is managing partner of Falcon Printing & Copying, a full-service printing and graphic design company in Tysons Corner, VA. His company focuses on building relationships and delivering the highest quality print materials, from poster to invitations to business stationery, to their clients. Passionate about printing to a fault, Borzou eats, breathes, and sleeps paper and ink, and his rare combination of intellectual curiosity, technical savvy, creativity, and interpersonal skills have transformed him from a print service provider only into a branding consultant as well.

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Marketing with Social Media: 6 Quick Tips for Content Sharing

January 20th, 2011

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: having a Twitter account, Facebook page, and LinkedIn profile is not enough.  You need to actively use social media for your business to reap any rewards (ie, generate leads and convert leads into customers).  That means you need to share interesting information with your audience.

The obvious places to start are with your blog posts and industry blog posts and articles that can affect your target market(s). Those are awesome sources of information.  I like to say that if it’s useful and relevant, share it.  But don’t stop there!  If you want to position yourself as an expert in your industry, get creative and produce and share content that many small businesses do not.  You just might just find yourself becoming a social media expert along the way. » Read more: Marketing with Social Media: 6 Quick Tips for Content Sharing

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Monika Jansen

Monika, President of Jansen Communications, is a marketing communications consultant with over ten years of marketing and corporate communications experience. By writing and editing fresh and succinct copy that is aligned with an organization’s overall marketing strategy, she positions her clients as thought leaders and energizes their lead generation and nurturing programs. Her expertise includes website content, blogs, newsletters, marketing collateral (brochures, white papers, and articles), and annual reports.

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Facebook for Business: Marketing on Facebook with a Fan Page, Events, Group, Ad, and Apps

January 20th, 2011

If your target audience is under the age of 50, it’s time to take marketing on Facebook seriously.   As Facebook matures, the task of using it effectively for social media marketing has grown more complex because of the number of ways in which it can be used.  No matter how you use Facebook, though, you must integrate it with your overall marketing strategy, and you should also put together a social media policy and clear social media strategy.  I will dive into those topics in later posts.  In this post, I just want to clarify what the different basic marketing options are on Facebook, as it seems there is a lot of confusion over them.Facebook for Business

Let’s assume you are a small business or non-profit with typical marketing needs, limited time, and a small budget.  Before you begin, decide what resources (time, people, money) you are going to commit to social media.  Then get started.

Here is a short guide on how to use Facebook for marketing: » Read more: Facebook for Business: Marketing on Facebook with a Fan Page, Events, Group, Ad, and Apps

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Ken Fischer

Ken Fischer is the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) for ClickforHelp.com Inc, a web-based software and social media strategy company. At CFH, Ken has led over 100 software and web projects, including creating online communities, tools to measure the effectiveness of public service announcements, web based messaging, and online collaboration tools with unique search capabilities. Ken has also led software development projects in a wide diversity of industries such as finding new way to better deliver reliability centered-maintenance, to onsite visual iAHAection to creating online communities. Ken is also the founder of Gov20Labs and Director of Gov 2.0 Events for Potomac Forum. He has been involved in the Gov 2.0 movement to create continuing education workshops, as a sponsor, and as a solutions provider for over three years. Ken is especially interested in using technology to make Government more effective, efficient, and accountable through transparency, participation, and collaboration. He actively blogs on Open Government and creates training programs for the planning and implementation of Open Government. (He does not speak on behalf of any federal, state or local governments.) Ken also blogs about the commercial side of web 2.0 at web20blog.

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In the future of online social networks who wins? Facebook? Google? People?

April 23rd, 2009

I noticed after writing this post that the underlying theme emerging from the fanciful thought droppings below is that it is best for the end user if data and applications are separate and interoperable.   The theme is starting to highlight for me the promise of semantic technology and open data standards.

I keep hearing will facebook win? Will google win? Will microsoft ever get out in the running? Will twitter be bought and by whom?  I wanted to offer another option.  Could the people win?

How would the people win?
Well what is a social network anyway? It’s a series of connections between people and it has rules for distributing information to people based on their connection.  Mutually agreed friends, followers and non-connected voyers following what you do and when you do it  as well as sharing with you.  The connecting and sharing  rules of the social network you choose determines what others see and, if you are up on the privacy settings, how you are connected with them.

Right now our choice is which networks to be on and we make that choice based on the connection rules, the type of content and interactions that can be had and where the people we want to connect with already are. As facebook or another network become more popular, it becomes more difficult not to choose it.

But we pay a price for choosing an online social network.
1. We have to accept the interface which is chosen for us. And while more customizations and widgets are coming out, the essential choice of interface is the control of the provider, not us.
2. We can’t choose our ideal mix. For instance what if we want a myspace style interface but with our facebook friends feed?   There are some configuration options available but still trying to match what we want with what is out there can be challenge.
3. We get targeted advertising based on our peronal information. Maybe we want it, maybe we don’t but at any rate we are not in full control of our information which gets mined for these ads.
4. We can’t move our information to another network or cross link to people in other networks. This is changing some but our information is still not in our control.
5. We can’t create our own rules for connection and viewing, we have to relay on a central authority to do this, even if they allow some flexibility. Very non-Web 2.0.

So how do we win?

What if instead of our data residing on a social network server, it resided on our own private space in the cloud?

And what if we could choose or even create the applications which would allow our data to be seen but others and with the rules which we decide on.  So we could use a facebook style application to interact with our friends but our friends wouldn’t have to be “on” facebook. They would simply have their own ‘cloud space’ and they could send twitter style updates back to us and not have to look at the vacation pics we just posted if they don’t want to.  But they could also choose to send some updates only to some people if they wanted, rather than having the choice tweet to all or tweet directly to one.  Basically the social network core of connections and activity of you and your friends could be managed by any number of applications and rule configuration more tailored to each individual. The way you want to interact with your friends and who your friends could be would not be determined by the popularity of a social network but by you.

Would this kill facebook or google?  Facebook would probably be the most popular application for people to choose to use to interact with their friends with and they could still get their ad revenue.  Google could provide the cloud space to host our data securely for free with ads or for a small cost as well as provide an interface application if you want it.

Twitter provides the first step in separating social data from the social application and it is good evidence of why this approach would be so popular.  I don’t mean the asynchronous relationships or the 140 character limit, but the fact that anyone can build a twitter application to interact with the “cloud space” of twitterfeeds.  Tweetdeck, tweetgrid, and many other twitter applications let people choose how to interact with their social connections and what their interface looks and feels like to some extent.  I am suggesting is widening this approach to include all of your personal information which you would want to potentially share and putting you back in control of your own information.

So you could have one interface for your immediate family, another window for friends and another for interesting people you follow or combination you choose.  Application vendors could make money through ads but you would choose who had a privacy policy on what those ads could find out about you.  Or you could choose to keep everything very private and pay for a service and place to keep your data.  This is similar to what people refer to as interoperability between networks but also with the twist of separating our peronsal data from the network itself.  So its more of an interoperable data model for social networking than an interoperable social network model.

Would this work?  Is part of a social network, the common rules and ways to connect which we are all are agreed upon?  If some people could stop sharing a lot of information except with their BFs, would the fabric of the social network be weakened and this whole idea result in a less networked world?    I don’t think it would because the culture has started to discover the benefits of sharing, but it’s definitely an open question.

So how do we get there?  Hmmm. Not sure.  Google’s free app engine could potentially power something like this. Something like a user rebellion which occurred when facebook tried to change its privacy policy a couple of months ago might be the start of an online privacy movement.  Right now people seem to be having too much fun though to worry about being in charge of their own information. Will this change?  I guess it depends what the social networks decide to do with all of our information that they have.

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Ken Fischer

Ken Fischer is the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) for ClickforHelp.com Inc, a web-based software and social media strategy company. At CFH, Ken has led over 100 software and web projects, including creating online communities, tools to measure the effectiveness of public service announcements, web based messaging, and online collaboration tools with unique search capabilities. Ken has also led software development projects in a wide diversity of industries such as finding new way to better deliver reliability centered-maintenance, to onsite visual iAHAection to creating online communities. Ken is also the founder of Gov20Labs and Director of Gov 2.0 Events for Potomac Forum. He has been involved in the Gov 2.0 movement to create continuing education workshops, as a sponsor, and as a solutions provider for over three years. Ken is especially interested in using technology to make Government more effective, efficient, and accountable through transparency, participation, and collaboration. He actively blogs on Open Government and creates training programs for the planning and implementation of Open Government. (He does not speak on behalf of any federal, state or local governments.) Ken also blogs about the commercial side of web 2.0 at web20blog.

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