I like Clouds

22 12 2010

OK, I like clouds. Nah, not those big ones that have been dumping lots of white stuff on us this week. But I do like the ones that prevented Punxsutawney Phil from seeing his shadow this morning – maybe once I dig out from this storm we’ll see that early spring! And I also really like the clouds that are enabling our new way of working, living, communicating. A couple months back I re-entered the workforce after a pleasant sabbatical – I had been considering opportunities in four different spaces – all places that have piqued my interest over the past few years.

  • I wanted to work in mobile, because we all are mobile these days, and as IDC predicts “shipments of app-capable, non-PC mobile devices will outnumber PC shipments within the next 18 months”.
  • OR I wanted to work in BigData. Back when I was in Sun storage I was awed by the challenge of storing data efficiently – as Eric Schmidt recently said “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until  2003” and the challenges around storing, retrieving and anayzing data have increased exponentially.
  • OR I hoped for more work with social media. After spending most of my sabbatical designing and implementing social media strategies for non-profits, I had a taste of where the world is going from a communications perspective. Social media is turning it inside out.
  • BUT REALLY I wished for something interesting  in the cloud world – what a fascinating paradigm shift for the compute and data worlds. It simply doesn’t make sense for so many people in the world to be managing servers and storage systems – cloud answers a basic competitive advantage question.

And then I came across an intriguing opportunity at Nokia: to run product management for Nokia’s cloud services. A cloud that stores mobile app data… A cloud that delivers analytics… A cloud that enables social networking… So, I do like clouds. Just not those bad ones outside right now. D*mn gotta go shovel again. D*mn clouds.

The black line is the top of my patio table

Front sidewalk - where can I put the snow?


Tweeting for the Newbie

23 08 2010

I’m a huge twitter fan – it’s an incredible source of information, a good discussion forum, and all-out entertaining to boot! My passion seems contagious, because recently a number of friends have asked me how to get on twitter and what to do once they’re on… So here are my seven easy steps for getting started. And once you’ve started, follow a few people like @TweetSmarter and @twitter to learn more quickly.

1. Go to twitter.com and create your account. On the ‘Account‘ screen your username will be what people see when you tweet (mine is ImAmyO). Then go to ‘Profile and fill out your bio with some interesting stuff about yourself and post a pic. No need to mess with the mobile settings or your screen design – always time later for that…

2. Follow someone. Are any of your friends on twitter? Or find someone famous that does something interesting (I follow @MarthaStuart cuz I like to know what she’s eating). Follow the news (I like the CCN Breaking News feed @ccnbrk). Follow someone in your industry, again if they’re posting cool stuff. Use ‘Find People‘ in the upper corner of your screen to look for people. Go to twubs.com and enter a word that is important to you – on twitter the word is called a hashtag cuz you can put it in your tweets as a flag so others can easily find info on a subject. Twubs will show you a bunch of tweets on the subject – you’ll see #<the word you entered> in the tweets. Follow some of the people tweeting on your topic of interest. Then go to the profile of each person you follow, by clicking on their name in your following list, go to their following list, and follow some of them! Look for people who tweet topics of interest to you, and especially people who include a lot of links to other site – that’s where twitter starts to become a good knowledge-base.

3. Tweet something. Come on. What are your reading? What have you seen? What do you know that would help others? Post a link in your tweet to something you read online. Post a link to a picture. And here’s a tip – since a tweet can only be 140 characters, you don’t want to waste them on long links. So go to bit.ly.com and enter the long link (sometimes I post links to NYT articles that are almost 100 characters) and bit.ly will give you a short link instead.

4. Retweet something. Huh? Yup, this is the essence of twitter. When someone you follow says something interesting, you can retweet it so that all your followers see it. Now don’t get too caught up in the fact that you probably don’t have too many followers yet, retweet anyways cuz on twitter retweeting is seen as the highest form of flattery…

5. …besides following someone who follows you – that’s also a twitter form of flattery. As time goes on and you tweet / retweet more, and follow more people, people will start to follow you. They’ll find you because of your bio, what you tweet, and who you follow, and who’s following you (just like you did in step 2 above). So what should you do? Follow them back. For sure, not always, but click on their twitter handle and go to their profile page. Check out their bio, and what they’ve tweeted. If it’s interesting, follow them! That’s how the network builds.

6. Be informed and entertained. You can watch your twitter feed (that’s all the incoming tweets from people you follow) on twitter.com, but I like to use a different twitter app called TweetDeck. Download it from TweetDeck.com and you’ll see that you can arrange columns with different searches. I also love the way it pops the latest tweet up in the corner of my screen; I can scan to see what’s going on and quickly decide if I want to check the tweet out further. Retweets are easier in TweetDeck too, and there are TweetDeck apps for your smartphone as well.

7. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in random order for infinity. You’ll be engaged, enlightened, and entertained. Enjoy!

The Old Give and Take

16 08 2010

When I was helping my daughter unpack in her new apartment in North Carolina last week, I ran across one of her psychology books called “Influence: Science and Practice”. At first my interest was piqued simply because of all the talk in social media land about influence these days, but by chapter 2 I was hooked. It’s the same topics all over twitterland and facebookhaven. But down to the brass tacks – or should I say the science of psychology – of the basics of influence.

The textbook was copyrighted in 2001, well before the emergence of social media as a marketing channel. And it explains so well the basics of influence, upon which social media marketing relies. Chapter 2 was all about reciprocation – the old give and take. Take the experiment by psychologist Dennis Regan in 1971. Two subjects in a supposed  art-appreciation experiment were supposed to rate paintings. But one of the subjects was actually Regan’s assistant Joe, who had an additional role to play. In some of the cases, Joe would leave the room during a rest period and return with a Coke for himself and one for the other subject. In other cases, Joe would return with only a Coke for himself.

After all the paintings had been rating, Joe would then ask the subject to do him a favor. Joe was selling raffle tickets and would get a $50 prize if he sold the most tickets. And across the board the subjects who received a Coke from Joe bought twice as many raffle tickets as those who hadn’t received a favor from Joe. It didn’t matter if they liked Joe or not; if they felt they owed him a favor, they bought twice as many tickets.

Social media marketing is all about reciprocity. Give away content on your site that will help others. Retweet interesting information. ‘Like’ good products and services. Which creates a cycle that may help you.

Time and Space

12 07 2010

When I missed my sister’s phone call, she yelled at me on facebook “ur 2 busy blogging, twittering, fbing…2 p/u the old fashioned phone…” Truth be told, I often prefer online forums over voice conversations: the asynchronicity, the one2many-ness and many2one-ness, the visuals, the links, the networks. A community with subcultures that affect how we interact. Subcultures created by time and space.

Consider differences in the state of technology at the time of adoption. My daughters don’t naturally use the ‘comment’ and ‘like’ features on Facebook because those features didn’t exist at the time they started on FB years ago. Matter of fact, the news feed didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until FB opened up outside schools that those features were added. Go to the wall of 19-22 year old these days and you’ll see one side of a conversation – the other side is on someone else’s wall. Go to my wall and you’ll see interactive conversations among a disparate group of friends, all using the ‘comment’ feature to engage in a conversation. Same technology, adopted over different periods of time, causing major differences in the subculture among users.

And then there’s space. HBR just published a map showing social media usage differences by space, or locale. Internet users in India and China tweet 3x as much as those of us living in the U.S. Some our lower usage can be traced back to the reliability and relatively low cost of our old phone network; we think nothing of just picking up the phone here. But in developing nations, wireless and cellular networks often emerged before – and sometimes instead of – local phone networks. And by the time the Internet was available in many locales, microblogging technology had matured. With less predisposition for the phone, those users turned to the social network.

And then there’s Japan, where social networking is used to communicate among close circles of friends, not to extend those circles. And South Korea, where users approach social media from a gaming perspective. And France, … but you get the picture. While it may be one network, it’s certainly segmented by time and space.

I’m gonna sign off now and go call my sister on the old fashioned phone.

Mother’s Little Helper? Data

24 06 2010

I’m fully supportive when my loved ones go off-the-grid on some new adventure. But the worrier inside me usually starts roaring around 3am… “Is everything ok?” “Where are they now?” Until recently it was pretty difficult to calm my worrier. But now, like the lyrics of the Stones, I’ve discovered my own mother’s little helper: Data. Yup, data.

Ed's Kilimanjaro RouteIn March my adventurer photographer husband spent 6 weeks in various parts of Africa working with children’s charities, exploring and mountain climbing. And attached to his backpack was a GPS sensor, which sent data about Ed’s whereabouts to a centralized service. I could go to the service website to see his location mapped, like his footsteps up Kilimanjara shown here. And I could post these satellite images to Facebook so friends and family could keep track as well. No more lost sleep. Saved by the data.

I was at an interesting conference this week where much was discussed about data. FindMeSpot SatelliteStephen Baker, of Num3rati fame, delved into the next big wave of data coming from sensors in the world around us. Kinda creepy in many ways, but as with every new innovation, there’s a cost-benefit analysis to be done. In the simple case of the FindMeSpot, I’m all for it. We’re gonna have some interesting discussions, though, over the next few years as sensors become more prevalent around us. And we’re certainly not gonna suffer from a lack of data.

A marketeer’s dream

21 06 2010

I’ve lived a marketeer’s dream for the past few months. I had a product that everyone loved and an event that everyone was looking forward to attending. I had a community of people who wanted to share. And I was tasked with raising awareness, strengthening the community, extending its reach. In marketing speak that’s basically strengthening the brand, driving retention, and generating more demand. Oh, and here I am living in the age of social media.

The product: a charity that brings happiness into the lives of seriously ill children. The event: a weekend-long bike ride that gives 100% of its donations to that charity. Dan's legThe community: a special group of volunteers, riders, and sponsors connected by a series of stories. Stories about their own children helped by that charity. Stories about friendships made over years of riding. Stories about helping one another through the good times and bad. Stories about fundraising. Stories about training. Stories about life and love. In marketing speak, that’s content the likes of which is rarely seen. Oh and did I mention the community is so dedicated to this charity, a few members even had the logo tattooed on their leg? Now that’s brand affinity!

Here’s where the road meets the Internet. We created an information architecture for this community, using its website for logistics info, using facebook for informal chatter and discussion, twitter for event updates, and an email newsletter and blog to share the stories. We took the online community from zero to several hundred in a couple months. Our riders and volunteers contributed more stories and pics and videos. We extended the event from one weekend to year-long. Because the community is more than the day of the event. Because social media extends the bounds of space and time.

As Seth said so well, you’ve gotta have passion about what you’re marketing. So yup, I’ve lived the marketeer’s dream.

My All-Avatar Meeting

31 10 2008

AmyO Later All Hands How do you get your team together when they’re scattered all over the globe? Well, I hosted my first all-hands meeting in Second Life yesterday and it was awesome to see people from Germany, Singapore, London, France, Sweden, Canada, Colorado, California, and Massachusetts – to name a few – coming together, across time zones and continents, to share thoughts and ideas.

Mary Mary PresentingWhat a time to be in marketing – the transformation from traditional media to social media is changing how we interact with each other, our partners, and our customers. While there’s still lots to figure out about how to use social media effectively to get Sun’s message out through communities, we were privileged to have MaryMary (Sun’s Mary Smaragdis) to help lead our discussion. Mary talked about the exponential growth of the various Social Media communities and, most interestingly, she explained the powerful impact of individual conversations in this new social ecosystem. One short blog entry, one twitter, one facebook update can add to a cadence to create a ripple effect. These individual bloggers start and sway conversations within the tech-influencer community.

It was great to see everyone hang out after the all-hands to mingle – I particularly enjoyed the many conversations about avatar hairdos (“Are you the one with the green hair?” “I have more hair here than in the real-world”). And I’ll admit – I love that my avatar never has a bad hair day.