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Tag: Social Media 201

 

The third and last day of Affiliate Summit East 2010 started with a great keynote speech by Jim Kukral, who also gave his recently published book: Attention! This Book Will Make You Money: How to Use Attention-Getting Online Marketing to Increase Your Revenue to the first 300 attendees.

 
Jim’s talk focused on providing guidance to businesses and individuals who are unsuccessful so that they can become successful. Here’s his five step plan:

  1. Say what you do: be specific.
  2. What you do should solve a problem or entertain: All problems in the world can fall into either category. (Someone tweeted afterwards that this is incorrect and stated that looking for information is a third category. I disagree – looking for information solves a problem: getting information you lack).
  3. Know your customer: Ask them why they use your services so you could further hone your message.
  4. Be the alternative: If you have a tough competition, find an alternative way. The example given was of the 5 hour energy drink – the alternative to coffee, which many drink for the energy boost.
  5. Make it easy: Easy as in simple, instant, quick, hassle-free. One suggestion Jim gave to businesses is to avoid the Paypal button as most ‘normal’ people simply aren’t familiar with it. Real world businesses and individuals pay with credit cards – so give them that option.

An interesting anecdote: one of Jim’s tips was that if you come up with an idea and get a reaction – even a very bad one – it means you’re on the right track. After saying that, he shared the story of a company who came up with a bizarrely disgusting line of juices. Someone in the audience blurted “Ewww” and Jim responded – see, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. This company was very successful.

 

 

The Info Product Co-Creation Formula
Later I went to the breakout sessions. This one session in particular was very good. Despite the fact these sessions were 20 minutes each, it lasted more than 30 minutes and there was so much information given it could’ve easily filled an entire hour (I add this picture simply because I liked the speaker’s official title..).

 
In this session a ‘formula’ for creating info-products was given which is said to be so effective that it can be used to sell products even before they are actually made. This was compared to a tennis match, where you, the product creator, ask questions and get feedback from your prospective buyers multiple times.

 
Although the speaker gave a precise list of steps, there was so much information I wasn’t able to type them exactly as specified. Here’s my amended version (I probably split certain steps).

  1. Start with a survey
  2. Get responses
  3. Identify core needs of the people in your list
  4. Verify this is what they want: they confirm or deny.
  5. Give them a free report based on their responses.
  6. They read the report and respond
  7. Pre-sell the full (nonexistent) product. If you do it right you can sell more before the product exists to justify your costs. Be fully transparent about this, that you haven’t created the product and want to make it if it’ll appeal to enough people.
  8. Create the full product.
  9. You already have enough buyers to return your time investment, and can get many more now.

 

 

Affiliate Platforming: How to Attract & Retain Audiences
I went to Scott Stratten’s (@UnMarketing’s) talk. I spoke to Scott during lunch just before – since both of us are very active Twitter users, we exchanged amusing anecdotes (well, mainly horror stories..).

 
Scott’s talk was excellent, not to mention, absolutely hilarious. He advocated using social media as a platform to engage people and build an audience both for individuals and for businesses. This session would’ve fit perfectly with Social Media 201, the conference I helped organize (and gave a talk) back in April.

 
Here are guidelines towards attracting an audience (this is relevant for blogging, tweeting, any relevant medium).

  1. Traction: “nothing works at first”. This is the hardest phase. You blog and/or tweet and it seems no one is listening.
  2. Momentum: starts taking care of itself. People are coming to you. The ratio change.
  3. Expansion: you built so much traction and momentum you can expand it.

 
A few more general guidelines.

  • Don’t use Twitter as a one way communication stream and expect success. Scott suggested the key to success is 75% replies.
  • To those who just use scheduled tweets – you can’t automate authenticity, people know this and react.
  • Social Media investment is much more than dollars (.. and this relates to my own blog post, Twitter: Beyond Immediate ROI)
  • Be ready for negative comments. The 1% happiest and the 1% unhappiest are the most vocal.

To demonstrate these points, he gave both good examples and bad ones, i.e. a coffee shop that criticized at length a customer for tweeting a complaint.

 
Blogger room
Since I was running back and forth between sessions and the exhibition hall, I barely spent any time in the blogger room. To be honest, I didn’t really need to, after all, we had wireless access. But I went there to spend some time with friends.

 
The blogger room was run by the amazing BlogMistress, Heather Smith. Heather told me about Missy Ward’s competition and I am very sad to say I did not win, though I was runner-up with @loxly. Next year I vow to win.

 

Missy Ward's competition


Heather Smith at the blogger room and the prize I almost won

 

To summarize: I had a fantastic time at the summit. I think the fact I spent much more time in sessions than in parties really gave me a different affiliate summit experience. Despite not going to parties, I did a good share of networking – I talked to a lot of people at the exhibition hall/meet market, during lunch breaks and in between sessions. Personally I feel this is more effective than exchanging business cards while shouting during a loud party (though I can’t argue with a friend of mine who said “people spill their secrets when they’re drunk”. True.)

 
Looking forward to the Affiliate Summit West 2011!

 
p.s. Still have two sessions I intend to summarize as independent posts.

 

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Ancient PC

Ancient PC

 

This post was partially inspired by Darren Williger’s keynote speech at Social Media 201.

 
Despite the fact it’s a common perception that social media is a new phenomenon, it’s actually far from. Both Darren and myself have been using the Internet since the 80s. We ran a small competition: turns out that if you Google us, the earliest result is mine (from 1989!) though Darren was active online about 2-3 years before I was. So it’s a draw ;-) .

 
Back then the online world was very different. In the mid 80s BBSs (Bulletin board systems) were what we all used. These were phone-based systems, usually run by individuals, though some companies had their own, that enabled people to connect using dial-up modems. They were infinitely slower than today’s internet, and all text based, but they were awesome!

 
BBSs included forums, multiplayer games (though not real time ones), downloadable computer games (yep, some two decades before Bittorrent) and a lot more. In other words, we all interacted, and much of the content was user generated. Sounds to me a lot like…social Media and Web 2.0. Of course, this wasn’t Web 2.0 because this was almost a decade before the World Wide Web (Web 1.0?) was created! Though BBSs weren’t a part of the internet, they offered much of what the internet could offer at the time.

 
When I first starting using the internet, in 1987 or 1988 (I need to figure this out one day…), I stopped using BBSs. The internet had so much potential! My friends and I actually didn’t refer to it as the internet back then but rather as the Bitnet (which was always a subset of the internet but was separately accessible at the time). When I look at old emails that are archived online, we actually referred to the internet as the InterNet. How quaint! Amusingly, there was a local news story about us at the time: “Local teenagers chat with people all over the world using computers”. It sounds ridiculous now, but it was very “exotic” back then.

 
Bitnet email accounts were very simple: mine was nyschles@weizmann (yeah, no .com, .net or whatever). The internet equivalent was nyschles@weizmann.weizmann.ac.il though I rarely used it at the time.

 
Not long after I had my first chat (using Relay – the ancestor of IRC which itself had a multiple offspring from multiple “wives”: chat rooms, various messengers – even chat roulette). I was introduced to a radical concept called MUDs (Multi User Domains). MUDs are the prehistoric ancestors of massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest and Ultima Online. There were several variations of the concept: some were created for social interaction (the modern equivalent is Second Life), other for gaming, etc.

 
MUDs were just as fun as modern games, despite the fact that the vast majority were text based. However, in a way they were far superior to even the most modern of these games. How so?

 
The type of MUD I used was called an LPMud. This was a classic multiplayer online game: once you registered, you were given a character that would have to fight monsters and get experience points to advance in levels. Depending on the MUD itself (there were hundreds, all run by individuals and as far as I know, hosted at universities), you could choose a class (i.e. a wizard, a druid, a fighter), have spells, and a do whole lot of different things. I’m sure this sounds very similar to anyone who has played World of Warcraft or similar games.

 
The difference is – and that is a huge, enormous difference – is that all MUDs were based on user generated content.

 
Once a character reached his 20th level and has done his share of quests, he became a “Wizard”. Wizards weren’t players anymore.. but were more like MUD administrators. Each was given permission to program a part of the MUD – his domain. Most Wizards created an area with a theme: I remember Castle Dracula, Sesame Street, Star wars, and basically everything you can imagine.

 
User generated content? Web 2.0? in the late 80s?! These terms were used long after these events despite the fact this was decades before they became mainstream.

 
Even today, you still can’t do the equivalent with games such as World of Warcraft (though I do remember that a few years ago, a group of people was able to successfully replicate EverQuest’s framework and protocols and effectively recreated a home-brew version without Sony’s permission).

 
It may really surprise people who started using computers when the internet was already ubiquitous, but back then, things were just as fun despite the technological limitations. There was no spam either!

 
I hope you found this history lesson interesting ;) . Although this post can be read on its own, I gave it for a reason – in order to be able to share an event that took place at the time. Read my next posts for more details.

 
Here are links to the other parts.
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: The Sting (Part 2 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: Cybercrime (Part 3 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: Crime and Punishment (Part 4 of 4)

 

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Somehow often my best posts involve videos by Darren Williger. Darren created a “behind the scenes” video summarizing our experiences at Social Media 201 which I just had to share (my own perspective is described in this post).

 
I barely appear in this video (fine with me!), part of because Darren’s camera had a hiccup during my talk.. and when I do appear, from some reason I’m whispering (not sure what was going through my mind…). Also featured are Darren, Bille Baty, Jeff Dance, Joe Kennedy, Eric Weaver, Kris Ruby – and even the SeattleWineGal.

 

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Social Media 201


 
Before I begin, I’ll diverge a tiny bit: Years ago I used to get quite nervous when I had to do any form of public speaking. While I can’t say this is second nature to me even now, a simple advice given to me by my Ph.D. adviser has really made a big difference. His advice was very (very) simple: “try to enjoy it”. After years of public speaking, I can say: it’s true.

 
I give the same advice to people who are interviewing for jobs. It might sound a bit surprising, but when I used to interview for positions myself (before becoming self employed) 95% of the time I genuinely enjoyed my job interviews – after all, it gives an opportunity to speak about myself and my accomplishments – so what’s not to like? Probably as a result, I used to be very good at job interviews. I believe the same kind of logic applies for public speaking. When one talks about a subject he or she is an expert about and likes it, the passion comes through and people get it.

 
Ok, back on track. Social Media 201: What a blast! Hard to summarize these three+ intense days.

 
This conference originated from the mastermind calls of a group I’m a member of. We have weekly calls, though since we work on joint projects, sometimes we form subgroups and talk twice or even three times a week. We’re a pretty big group and we’re spread out all over the US. As you may imagine, speaking so often with a group of people whom you share both your professional and technical experiences as well as personal lives brought us together, and we have all become close friends even though most of us have never met in person.

 

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver



 
Social Media 201 included several of us: myself, Darren Williger, Bille Baty and Mike Whitmore, who co-organized the event with Joe Kennedy. It was more than exciting to finally meet my close friends in person – and in fact, it felt like we already know each other. Even “fate” made it more excited: Mike picked me and Bille, we came out of the elevator exactly when Joe and Darren came out of another elevator… the timing could not have been better.

 
So, to me, and I believe everyone else, the speakers dinner on the first day was fantastic. Even though the food was great, it was the company that really mattered.

 
The next day we rented a recording studio. Our goal was to create professional videos that can be used in group projects as well as by each of us for his/her own products. Since I’ve never been in a professional studio (green screen and all), and in fact, kind of avoid doing videos since I never like the way I come off, to me this was a very new experience. However, this was a LOT of fun.

 
A professional recording studio

A professional recording studio



 
Darren and me

Darren and me



 
Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)

Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)



 
We took turns interviewing each other. Not sure which background I want for my interview with Darren – which was as serious as we get (we never get serious!) – perhaps the Matrix’s scrolling green code. Trust me, it’ll fit well with what we discussed (the future of advertising in the context of the increase in mobile devices: Smartphones, iPads, etc).

 
Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters

Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters



 
The next day was the main event: Social Media 201. The conference was sponsored by Microsoft and Comcast in addition to several other companies, and took place at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. Since I’ve known Microsoft and used their products since the mid 80s, it was exhilarating visiting MS HQ. I certainly hope it’s not the last time!

 
The conference itself was superb. Obviously, the main theme was social media and how small to medium businesses can leverage it to their advantage, and do so correctly. Eric Weaver gave a fantastic keynote speech. Jeff Dance, Kris Ruby and Bille Baty shared their expertise on various aspects of this process. Darren Williger gave an amazing keynote speech about the future of social media (check out the site he made for this topic).

 
My talk about SEO for Small Businesses

My talk about SEO for Small Businesses


My talk was about SEO for small businesses: how small businesses can improve their positioning on all search engines. Although this is not exactly Social Media, considering the target audience, we felt this fit right in – and in fact, someone tweeted at some point “how come no one mentioned SEO so far? – only to have me talk afterwards.

 
I think it went very well: many people approached me during the break, quoted me in tweets, and sent email to let me know they liked it. In addition, I really enjoyed giving my talk, which might be a reason why it went so well. My favorite tweet about my talk was “Dude’s hip hop” – since I used the phrase “it’s all about the Benjamins” as a reference to getting more business :)

 
SeattleWineGal and Kris

SeattleWineGal and Kris


After this was done, we went to a tweetup organized by SeattleWineGal, Seattle’s female answer to Gary V :) This was great, and I got to meet a lot of great people.

 
And then it was all done. After a few days of bonding with good friends who became much closer in this time, I have to say I was quite sad to say goodbye. Darren Williger is a walking, amazingly funny, personification of energy. Bille Baty is a legend – just being next to him makes a person wiser. I didn’t know Kris Ruby until before but she’s fun, smart – and our group will be much enhanced by her joining.

 
This may sound a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it feels. Fantastic 3 1/2 days.

 
Here are a number of websites and blogs that mentioned Social Media 201. It got rave reviews!

http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/04/guest_post_social_media_201.html

http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/2010/04/business-card-is-still-currency-in.html

http://eco-maven.com/2010/04/20/a-social-media-freshman-in-the-sophomore-trenches%E2%80%A6-sm201-conference/

 

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Seattle


 
I’m off to Social Media 201 which takes place in Seattle. I’m going to give a talk about SEO for small businesses. This is a topic I can easily talk about nonstop for an entire day – if not several days (but obviously, will have much less time to do so).

 
In addition, we – my friends, the participants and the organizers – also have a studio for a day which we’re going to use. We intend to record videos for a possible group project, and for our own personal use. This is going to be fun! I’m feeling so-so at the moment, hopefully it’ll clear up by Wednesday. I don’t want to be “immortalized” with a cold! Then again, they may have special effects available..

 
I’m very excited to finally meet in person some good friends and fellow participants that I’ve been talking to over the phone 1-3 times a week, usually for hours, and yet never met.

 
AND there’s going to be a Tweetup organized by @SeattleWineGal (what social media event would be compete without a tweetup??). I hear she does the best tweetups, and I’m really looking forward to this one. I hope to meet some people I’ve chatted with over there! Please say hello if you know me.

 
On a final note, this conference has a few strange coincidences for me. It’s a bit of an odd coincidence that this conference takes place in Seattle (actually, it doesn’t exactly: it’s in Microsoft’s headquarters at Redmond). The last academic conference talk I gave was in Seattle as well: GECCO 2006 (just in case you are curious, my talk was titled “Modular thinking: evolving modular neural networks for visual guidance of agents”, which is somewhat more complex than what I’m going to discuss now :) ).

 
My last talk was on my birthday whereas this talk takes place on my wife’s birthday. Odd.

 
Anyway, I was very close to finishing my Ph.D., and my mind was already thinking of what comes next. I anticipated that the last day’s activities would be finished later than they did, and so, my flight was scheduled for the evening. As a result I had about 2-3 hours in which I had nothing to do. So I walked all over Seattle – a beautiful city – and then reached the conclusion that I need to retire from academic life. I won’t go into the details why (very long story), but that is the moment when I made the decision.

 
I was a bit sad about this, as I enjoyed my time in Academia, but this felt like the right course of action – which, in hindsight, was a correct assessment. Funny that the next conference talk I give is in Seattle (close enough..) as well. When I went on the plane towards home, I had a good idea that what I’m going to do is going to involve entrepreneurship, but wasn’t sure about the specifics or that I’m going to be involved with conferences in the future. So this feels like closure to me.

 

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Twitter hashtags


Bringing a laptop to a conference is a pretty good idea. Not only it helps summarize notes – I type much faster than I write – but you can also email these notes, share them, post them online, etc.

 
These days it seems every conference – even small ones – have a Twitter Hash tag (and why not? It doesn’t cost anything). What this means is that people can send messages with this tag, and everyone who “listens” to this tag will get it. It’s a bit like group chat. This is one of the things that differentiates Twitter and Facebook (as I mentioned in my one of the first posts in this blog: Explaining Twitter to Facebook Users).

 
This has several effects I didn’t fully grasp until Affiliate Summit East 2009. Motivational, educational, you name it.

 
For starters, days before a conference starts, people already start tweeting using the hash tag (i.e. in Affiliate Summit West 2010 it was #asw10). So even if you’re at home, you’re already starting to feel the ‘vibe’ of the conference, get the excitement. People announce they’ve left their homes, that they’re at the hotel, that they’re checking in, that they’re meeting other participants. Some people even upload photos. And since it is all in real time, you get pulled into it. You feel you’re a part of the conference before it even started.

 
Furthermore, during sessions people constantly tweet about what they listen to. This proves to be extremely useful from several reasons:

 
So my second point: you know who is present. During one session I discovered that two of my Twitter friends (whom I never met in person until then!) were in the room with me. We tweeted each. One even uploaded an image of the speaker (in real time, of course), so I could even tell where he was sitting in the room. Later I went to meet him.

 
Third, people constantly tweet the highlights of a session, the important points. There was one moment where I missed what the speaker said, but knew it was important. I looked at the stream, and multiple people tweeted that point. I just copied this directly into my notes. Moreover, thanks to the Twitter 140 characters limit, the point has to be concise, and this greatly facilitates the transmission of ideas in this context.

 
Fourth, you get to “hear” what’s going on in other sessions as well. So in a sense it allows you to attend multiple sessions at once. I actually took some of the tweets from other sessions as notes, as they were very relevant and interesting.

 
Fifth, one session allowed people to ask questions through Twitter and had its own hash tag. This certainly improves interaction between audience and speaker. Another session I attended had a contest where people suggested ideas and at the end, there was a reward for the best one.

 
Sixth, I tweeted quite a lot of the good highlights from sessions I attended. Some were actually retweeted by people who were NOT at the conference. So this helped spread useful information beyond the conference. In my opinion, this can be said to make Twitter itself a more valuable site. I remember that during Blog World (a conference that took place several months ago and I didn’t attend) there were occasional retweets of highlights from their sessions – some I found fascinating. And I wasn’t even there!

 
Finally, sites and conferences now take this into consideration. For example, the conference I speak at next month, Social Media 201, constantly “listens” and places on its website tweets that use the #sm201 hashtag. Or another example: ad:tech NY had a huge screen which featured select tweets that use the #adtechny hash tag (see the above image).

 
I think what we’ve seen here is a glimpse into the future of education. Where future students will get more and more opportunities to interact with the speakers and each other in real time, as well as potentially virtually “attend” sessions they are not present in. So not only the conference hash tag is great for passing information and ‘bonding’ everyone, but it also contributes a great deal to the effectiveness of taught sessions. I find this fascinating.

 

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Social Media 201


I want to announce that I’m going to be participating in Social Media 201: a social media conference which will be held in Seattle next month.

 
This conference, which is sponsored by Microsoft, Comcast, Fresh Consulting, Regillo consulting group as well as other companies is geared towards small business owners.

 
I will be giving a talk titled “SEO for Small Businesses” in which I’ll discuss the benefits small business owners have to gain by optimizing their websites to rank in search engines for phrases related to their business and their local area. In addition I’ll also be participating in the “monetizing social media” panel.

 
As far as I know a recording of the conference will be sold later: though I may be wrong on this.

 
For more information, go to the conference website or view its agenda. You can also follow its hashtag on twitter: #sm201

 
Note that to get a $50 discount, enter code ULABS (this is not an affiliate coupon – I’m not personally gaining anything from it).

 

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