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What I learned when the president of Cinnabon bought me coffee at Starbucks

August 19, 2013 1 comment

I had the opportunity to interview Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon, at the ASAE Annual Meeting in Atlanta earlier this month.  I had first become aware of Kat through the CBS show Undercover Boss with the episode featuring her last fall. I was excited to learn a few months ago that Kat would be at this conference and reached out to her through Twitter to arrange this interview.

Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon

Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon

In the interview Kat touches on a number of topics, but the one I find most fascinating is her deft handling of partnerships. She has worked with major brands like Kellogg, Burger King, and Taco Bell to expand the reach of Cinnabon without taking away from the core business of the franchises. Kat also touched on some of this in her presentation. Her perspective certainly challenges association and nonprofit leaders to consider more thoroughly who they might partner with to create win-win situations.

I walked with Kat from our interview to the auditorium where she would present later that afternoon. As we passed a Starbucks, Kat asked if she could buy me a coffee. What do you say when the head of a major food brand asks if they can buy you an iconic product from another major food brand? You say yes.  When you’re also a blogger, you also think, Hey, this could make a really great title for a future blog post! It should be further noted that Kat was impressed with my selection of a tall Java Chip Frappuccino® Blended Beverage… coffee with rich mocha-flavored sauce blended with milk, chocolaty chips and ice. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate-flavored drizzle. Ah, but I digress. We walked on. I told Kat that I like how playful she can be with the brand on Twitter when people talk about how they can’t resist Cinnabon or how they’ll have to work out more after indulging. Her response: “We’re not building missiles.” 

Some of the takeaways from Kat’s session at ASAE Annual:

  • Protect the core. Reinvest in what makes you great.
  • Leverage something you’re the best at. @Cinnabon did it w/ @Kelloggs_US w/ their cinnamon.
  • Be honest about what you can’t do well. Decide if you’re okay with that.
  • Culture eats strategy for lunch every day.
  • Be humbly bold.
  • What is small enough to change, big enough to matter?
  • The deal you don’t do is never the one that’s going to kill you.
  • What’s the opportunity cost with the limited resources you have?
  • What is the one thing we could do today that everything after it will be more effective?
  • Be there for your community when it really counts. Are you there for your constituents?
  • Be one IN a million … Not one OF a million!
  • Guess what? @Cinnabon is not healthy.
  • The biggest mistakes are people mistakes.

Believe me, there are some thought-provoking gems here, and Kat’s presentation was well-received. I couldn’t do it justice in even a short blog post. Make no mistake- I found Kat to be approachable and personable in the interview, off camera, and in her presentation, but she is also a focused and determined businesswoman who has not lost touch with her values or who she is. Kat purposely cares for and connects with people, and this comes across genuinely.  She furthers her authenticity by being thankful for opportunities, giving credit to others, and admitting mistakes. Many leaders could learn from her approach and her example.

xPotomac in Less Than 180 Seconds

February 27, 2013 4 comments

xPotomac was billed as an event “where the digital media future meets businesses. This groundbreaking conference features seven media technologies most likely to impact businesses and marketers in the immediate future.” xPotomac was held at The Source Theatre in Washington, DC on February 25, 2013. This post is taken from my notes and tweets:

Dino Dogan, “The New Groundswell”

  • Gutenberg democratized access to information.
  • 1% of blogs get 99% of attention. And they don’t deserve it.
  • Traffic + ads is an antiquated attention model.
  • The next big opportunity is in attention plus influence.
  •  If you could get attention without traffic, would you want it?
  • Google, Twitter, Facebook had a chance to do something different; they chose to show us ads.
  • Always cognitive dissonance when you try to match message w/ influencers who don’t mesh w/ your brand.
  • Empires crumble, whether you’re talking about Persian empire, Ottoman empire, or Facebook.
  • There’s a flaw in our logic about how to drive traffic. What if Google is not best way to drive traffic?
Dino Dogan, founder of Triberr, speaking at xPotomac

Dino Dogan, founder of Triberr, speaking at xPotomac

Ken Yarmosh, “Multiscreens: Anytime, Anywhere”

  • Too far-fetched to have screens on coffee tables for magazines or to download games?
  • What if calls could be seamlessly moved from screen to screen as you walk through your house?
  • Every device we have should have the same information without configuration.

Geoff Livingston and Patrick Ashamalla, “Looking through Google Glass”

  • A great user design doesn’t demand attention; it focuses it. -Patrick
  • Wearable computing technology will make smartphones obsolete in 5-6 years. -Geoff
Photo of Tinu taking a photo of Geoff Livingston with a tablet at xPotomac.

Photo of Tinu taking a photo of Geoff Livingston with a tablet at xPotomac.

Shonali Burke, “Social Scoring: Are You Worthy?”

  • Don’t look at numbers, look for context in influence.
  • Technology is not for technology per se.
  • Great champions beget more champions.

I was able to win a signed copy of Geoff Livingston’s book Welcome to the Fifth Estate at the beginning of this session when Shonali asked who knew their Klout score. I qualified it by stating that I don’t believe in Klout scores and said that mine was 57. I looked it up moments later to find that it had risen to 58, most likely due to xPotomac activities. As of the writing of this, my Klout is at 59. I’ve compared it to an SAT score. It’s a snapshot, but a number doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about a person. I’ve also compared it to college football rankings. I believe it reflects a certain American obsession with ranking and scoring everything- and on an ongoing, all-too-frequent basis.

Greg Verdino, “Digital Ubiquity”

  • Futurists do not predict the future. Who does? Crackpots.
  • 500 million devices connected to the internet 10 years ago. In 2008/2009, the number of devices exceeded human population.
  • Average home in the US has 20 connected devices.
  • Smart paint that tells you when your ceiling is going to crack exists today. It’s probably not in your house.
  • If you have a product, you better be prepared to be in the services business.
  • A refrigerator should be able to talk to a telephone, or we have a problem moving forward.
  • Big data should be looked at as a core asset for your business.
  • If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.
  • As our population ages, more & more systems fail. We never see the Boomers coming.

Jen Consalvo, “Visual Revolution

  • Not a lot of brand activity yet on Vine’s 6-second videos platform.
  • 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook every day.
  • People connect with pictures. Images gain more engagement.

Andrew Keen, “Big Data Threatens Privacy”

  • No surprise photos are central to social media age. We’re in love with ourselves.
  • No coincidence that social networks came along as we need to sell ourselves with self-employment, etc. We are brands.

I wasn’t as personally offended at Andrew’s comments as some of my xPotomac associates were. I thought he provided some interesting counterpoints to what we had been hearing all day. Andrew Keen definitely came across as condescending, insulting, and egotistical. Was it a thought-provoking presentation? Yes. Would I want to listen to him again? Not really. Rather than end with his naysaying and the negative feelings that ensued, perhaps it would have been better instead to have started the day with Andrew Keen to merely temper the digital enthusiasm we all felt.

Other noteworthy quotes and insights:

  • You have two wallets: money & time. -Kathy Korman Frey, quoting Ted Leonsis
  • Social scoring is often more about popularity than it is about influence. -Tinu
  • Blogs- purposeful audience builders. These are what social scoring should be taking into account. -Dino Dogan

Also worth reading and reviewing:

Geoff Livingston’s Context Always Mattered, Now It’s Crucial

Sohini Baliga’s Augmented Reality: “Yo, Heads Up!

Jamie Notter’s The Dark Side of the Revolution

Mike Shaffer’s Andrew Keen and the Negative 180s

Geoff Livingston’s Flickr photos of xPotomac reveal the smile of Shonali, the halo effect of Ken Yarmosh, and everything in between.

Eventifier’s compilation of xPotomac photos, videos, tweets, and contributors.

I’d also like to thank other xPotomac attendees who aided my understanding with their insights, comments, questions, and/or tweets: Melanie Spring, Sohini Baliga, Mike Schaffer, Shashi Bellamkonda, Sarah Oyungu, Debbie Friez, Tammy Portnoy, Kiki L’Italien, Colin Storm, Maddie Grant, Jamie Notter, Jim Long, Kathy Korman Frey, Isabel Saldarriaga, RaShonda Rosier, and others.

What stood out to you from xPotomac? What were the memorable moments, quotable quotes, and retweetable tweets? What were the lessons learned? What will you do differently in your business?

Why I write, why they read

November 10, 2011 3 comments

Why I write

I write because I am a teacher, not as a profession- at least not any longer- but in my heart it’s who I still am. I want to share what I’ve learned, who I’ve met, the resources I’ve discovered. I was “sharing” and “liking” long before the internet, long before Facebook and Twitter and Google+. I was the type who would tear articles out of magazines or cut columns out of newspapers to give to friends with a passing comment of “I read this and thought of you” or with an “I thought this was relevant to our discussion the other day” note attached with a paper clip. Perhaps you’re nodding as you read this because you are this person or you have a friend just like me.

Social media has only magnified this behavior. It’s easier now to simply retweet or comment on blogs, articles, news, announcements, etc. that I think my friends, associates, and colleagues would be interested in or benefit or learn from.

If being a teacher is at the very heart of who I am, writing is woven into the very fabric of my being. I could certainly regale you with tales of how writing has been integral to key moments of my life from memorable classes to scholarship applications to time overseas to business ventures through poetry, creative writing, journals, blogs, publication, etc. I choose to write and am compelled to blog because it gives me that voice to lend a perspective to what I’ve learned, who I’ve met, the resources I’ve discovered.

I like to talk to people, to interview them, and to learn of their stories. I am naturally curious. I enjoy doing research about a topic I am unfamiliar with. Like a reporter I want to ask thought-provoking questions that bring about well-thought-out answers that take the dialogue to a new level or on another trajectory. I want to put the angle on a story that no one envisioned. I stay sharp by reading the thoughts and perspectives of others. These tendencies lead me to formulate new ideas and responses, to bring together more than one concept into a new light.

Why they read

People love a good story. If you know me, you know that I love a good story. Everyone has a good story. It’s really a matter of asking questions to get at that story.

The problem is when organizations begin to think that their purpose in writing is merely to sell publications or increase conference attendance or give the latest statistics pertinent to their industry. When this happens, they’ve lost their way, they’ve lost their soul. Even corporations, associations, and businesses need to tell stories.

We’re in the business of storytelling. In fact I have this concept for a future blog post on “The Art of Storytelling”. When you tell stories, people respond. Your employees, members, and customers begin to see themselves in these stories. Stories should be about successful transitions– the little guy who makes it big, the one who was down and out who overcame odds or obstacles, the one who has a unique take on an all-too familiar problem.

When you tell stories like this… guess what? Your employees, members, and customers will start repeating them for you. They’ll start sharing your stories– not because they’ve been asked or to win a prize in a contest. They’ll be compelled- and it won’t be just online.

 

 

 

If the first 42 Presidents had tweeted…

February 19, 2011 9 comments

With it being Presidents’ Day weekend, I found myself thinking about famous Presidential quotes.  In reviewing many of these quotes, I was struck by their brevity and power.  Sometimes insightful, at other times irreverent or self-deprecating, we call them quotes.  For the era of radio and television, they have been used as sound bites.  Today, they might simply appear as tweets. Below you will find a selection of some of my favorite Presidential quotes followed by the number of characters these “tweets” would represent.  Another thing struck me… many of their messages- from the Founding Fathers to the more recent Presidents- still resonate today.

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” (78 characters)- George Washington

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (120 characters)- John Adams

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” (87 characters)- Thomas Jefferson

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (53 characters)- James Madison

“One man with courage makes a majority.” (38 characters)- Andrew Jackson

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” (98 characters)- Abraham Lincoln

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” (52 characters)- Theodore Roosevelt

“America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses.” (139 characters)- Woodrow Wilson

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (46 characters)- Franklin D. Roosevelt

“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” (107 characters)- John F. Kennedy

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (35 characters)- Ronald Reagan

I limited myself to one-fourth of the U.S. Presidents and at that only one quote per President.  The one that was too long to use was the first sentence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” (175 characters).  It should be noted that Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan get my Brevity Award (38 and 35 characters respectively for their quotes) while Woodrow Wilson just made it in with his powerful 139-character quote on the concept of America.  And on this Presidents’ Day weekend, it is President Wilson’s message that is louder than ever as it reverberates around the world (without even having to be retweeted).

What are your favorite Presidential quotes?  How would they fare with a 140-character limit?

#SMfastfwd: 11.10.10 recap

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

ChatterBachs hosted a #SMfastfwd tweetchat with a special #SoMeT tie-in on Wednesday, November 10th. Here is a recap of that tweetchat. I’ve tried to put in a format where the actual flow is easier to follow and makes sense, background chatter has been minimized, and so that the most valuable information and insights from #SMfastfwd are presented without this blog post getting too long. Again, it was quite the flurry of activity with so many great insights and comments being contributed. A special thanks to the following guest panelists/participants for making this #SMfastfwd tweetchat a great success: Richard Bonds of visitPA (@visitPA), Anne Hornyak (WhosYourAnnie), and Jenny Matheny (MathenyJenny) of @TNVacation and @paramoreredd.

How has #socialmedia impacted what you do on a daily/weekly basis?

ArcadiaPD:  Improving community engagement, another tool for notifications & effective communication.

visitPA:  SM channels have become a primary way 4 us 2 promote PA – especially w/ mkting budget cuts

transpr:  Compare to 5 yrs ago, we have ability to be our own “newsroom” to communciate directly with public. No more middle men.

WhosYourAnnie:   social media is on the brain 24/7

TravelND:  and to extend our brand in places we couldn’t touch with traditional media.

BSStoltz:  #SM amplifies my who I can reach and who reaches me – and shortens the learning curve.

How are #socmedia responsibilities divided in your org?

visitPA:  we handle all SM channels 4 dept: tourism, film & EconDev, FB,Twitter, 4sq Flickr Youtube,linkedIn & blog

WhosYourAnnie:  I think if SoMe responsibilities are divided, the organization really needs to be organized and have solid strategy. Start with strategy. Then account for processes and people.

NCCmeet:  All social media by our marketing assistant, however talk of creating a marketing team w/ diff. departments

MathenyJenny:  I am the primary strategizer & executioner of all things social for @tnvacation. I have help when I’m on vacay.

BSStoltz:   It’s not in the hands of interns or newbies, that’s for sure. It’s too important to pass off and forget about it.

mobethann:  Me, myself, and I! NO one else here “gets it.”

How have interactions with the public changed w/ the use of #socmedia?

WhosYourAnnie:  Tourism organizations can reach out to individual visitors now. It’s not about pushing your info. It’s about helping others.

MathenyJenny:  More personal tips, and insider info is being pass around to complete strangers. Great way to be in the “know”.

visitPA:  more personal interactions enables us 2 have an honest personality & can be more responsive & timely

NCCmeet:  Interactions with the public are selfless. SM is not to promote yourself but to share info and expect nothing in return

Keri_Mellott:  Quicker responses help the public engage with brands in real time. Adds to cust satisfaction & smiles 🙂

What are the biggest challenges your org faces with regard to #socialmedia?

WhosYourAnnie:  Time Management

mobethann:  Staff time, support, proving ROI to director and board, tracking results.

visitPA:  Fighting the “fad notion”, changes in administration may mean changes, finding the right best next thing 🙂

Keri_Mellott:  Challenge- getting businesses to learn the tools, then incorporate into a consistent strategy to build presence & credibility

samallgood:  Lack of employee knowledge and passion stemming from lack of same among city management

Kelly_Ryan_:  Biggest challenge is getting tourism partners to understand importance of SM! Some get it, some don’t!

NCCmeet:  1st it was trying to figure out our strategy – now its trying to convince others why they should be involved in social media

RvanHilst:  Not letting socmed become the magic bullet for every problem. If there’s no biz strategy, there’s no social media strategy.

Where have you seen the most success in integrating #socialmedia w/ other comms efforts?

visitPA:  Everything has 2 work together from website 2 SM channels 2 adv & PR-all supporting each other

mobethann:  We created @ChiefsinStJo FB page when we got the KC Chiefs Training camp. Earned over 3000 fans in weeks. Highly successful.

WhosYourAnnie:  most success is when you use networks together in campaign. Must have strategy and goals.

transpr:  SM allows real-time engagement for public impact on projects I work on such as road impacts. Invaluable tool now.

NCCmeet:  Our blogs about local events. Using WP Stats we can see what visitors searched 2 find it -often used search terms 4 the event

MathenyJenny:  Social has to be integrated in all mktg. outlets. If u aren’t cohesive in brand/message, then u aren’t doing it right

Keri_Mellott:   The key is in the combination of using #socialmedia online with meeting IRL to strengthen ur message & build trust.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from #socmedia that you now apply to “real life”?

mobethann:  Talk TO and WITH people, not AT them.

Keri_Mellott:  How important it is to stay in touch. Whether friends from HS or new clients. Staying in contact is so easy now!

carlapmurray:  People appreciate it most when you say something meaningful…and they like pretty pictures too.

desabol:  To be present and spend more time listening than talking.

In what new way will you begin to utilize #socialmedia in 2011?

carlapmurray:  QR Codes and smartphone apps.

visitPA:   keep moving ahead, we launched @foursquare badges this yr & works really well 4 us, keeping pulse on next thing

MathenyJenny:   I’ll be doing more social related contests, FB deals, QR codes, and focusing on the conversation.

NCCmeet:   In 2011, Engage in more meeting planner/travel/#eventprofs discussions & blogs. And, have our sales team become active on SM

desabol:  Location based apps, more mobile, exploring QR tags, and integrating things even further.

brianjohnriggs:  Also working on integrating SM with traditional communication tools/vehicles (like postcards) to created blended experience

The following comments while not directly related to a specific question were just too funny or too insightful not to include in this recap:

Keri_Mellott: My hot oatmeal is now cold sitting next to me. Too much fun on #SMfastfwd! haha

BSStoltz: It’s “soft” money. With a sound strategy & measurable objecties + time, U reap rewards that would cost much more.

MathenyJenny: Reaffirms that social is about being personal & having a convo. W/O that personal touch, social will fail.

I welcome your additions, comments, and questions.  Thanks again to everyone for your contributions to #SMfastfwd.  I look forward to having you join us again for #SMfastfwd on 11.17 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Notes from NDU iCollege’s Social Media Conference, 11.09.10

November 10, 2010 2 comments

Yesterday, I attended the National Defense University iCollege’s Social Media Conference entitled “Social Media Implementation Across Organizational Boundaries”.   The sessions were informative and interesting.   Below you will find some of my notes.  This is in no way intended to be a comprehensive representation of the sessions but rather just some of the highlights, based on what stood out to me and what I can include here without making this blog post too lengthy. In fact there were two fascinating sessions that I am precluded from commenting on… you know- national security concerns and stuff like that…  One final disclaimer: I am not going to attempt to make comments attributable.  These are just notes (and not all of the ones I took).  Glean from them what you may.  In the process I hope that whether you participated at #NDUiCollege or not that you find a nugget that challenges or inspires you in your use of social media.  I welcome your comments, insights, additions/corrections, and questions.

Haiti Disaster Response:

  • Made Twitter and Facebook primary tools for getting information out, can turn news over more quickly.
  • News used to be a lecture; now it’s a conversation.
  • We’re not going to build “the” site that everybody wants to go to.  “Survivors of Hotel Montana” on Facebook became a site for all news related to disaster.  Have discipline to take a step back, find the site where dialogue is happening and contribute
  • Opensource mapping: crowdsourced, able to update
  • Cell phone migration data: how many people have left?  Where have they gone?  Needed to deliver services there; they were a strain on the local economy.  We needed them to stay there as long as they could, but they would need support.  Could see movement a month after the earthquake, not individuals, but based on which cell phone towers were being used.
  • Where do the responsibilities for social media reside?  Turnover, new tools.  There’s so much out there.  Where do you go to pull it all together?
  • Command centers: single points of failure.  The more we rely on centralized knowledge, the more we miss out on the benefits of crowdsourcing.

Social Media Debate:

Social media definition from Wikipedia- web-based tools to create interactive content

Benefits of social media:

1.      Communication between people

2.      Collaboration- 2005 Wikipedia- 3.9 errors per article; Encylopaedia Britannica- 2.9; 2010 Wiki- 2.8, EB- 2.9

3.      Creates situational awareness/transparency

4.      Information captured

5.      Sharing knowledge

6.      Post questions/get answers

7.      Find information

8.      Get access to communities of practice- shout out to GovLoop

  • Communities not limited to time and space
  • It’s not either/or; it needs to be implemented

Risks:

  • We put a lot of information on the internet.  Some that we put on social media sites that we wouldn’t announce in a room of 400: birthday, address, where you went to school
  • Think before you post.
  • Security settings.
  • Robin Sage: Intelligence Analyst, fake Facebook profile
  • 80 million queries on Facebook in 30 seconds, 80% of those come from outside the US.
  • People collecting data for whatever their purposes are.

Government as Enterprise: Beyond the Silos with Social Media

  • Not just about the story that we have to share but about what we build together
  • Have the public shape the story of government and what it should be
  • Open government- what are the ways that we can open up and collaborate?
  • Do we need standards? Do we need policies?
  • Convergence- you can tweet a message with a link to YouTube and simultaneously put that on Facebook for friends and colleagues on LinkedIn.
  • Data sets are just data sets; it’s the conversations that happen around those data sets.
  • Regionality is captured in a virtual world.
  • Data.gov- it’s what the American people think that they can do with the data.  250 applications that help people makes decisions.
  • Not that the hierarchy disappears; it’s that it just works a different way