Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/14/08

Twitter Acquires Summize. Confirmed.
Just like chocolate and peanut butter, the two great web apps that go great together make the pairing official.

iPhone vs. BlackberryWhat You Should Know Before you Switch from BlackBerry to iPhone
Unless you’ve been living under a rock without any form of mainstream media coverage for the last few months, you’ve already heard plenty of things about the new Apple iPhone 3G. If you’re a Blackberry user and have been thinking about making the switch, Judi Sohn of WebWorkerDaily.com lists some pros and cons to help you out with the decision. While I’m writing this week’s picks, there are over 400 comments on Judi’s post for you to digest!

Why Most Online Communities Fail
Ben Worthen from the Wall Street Journal blog addresses some of the challenges and hurdles that businesses are facing when creating online communities to support their brand(s).

Why Should I Join Your Network?
While on the topic of building communities, Bill Rice of the BetterCloser.com blog gives tips for businesses to consider when trying to build a successful online community.

Do Startups Need Community Managers?
This past week Marshall Kirkpatrick asked the Twitter and Friendfeed communities if start-ups need community managers. He got a plethora of responses that covered a variety of opinions. Several people who participated provided links to supporting blog posts, so get ready to settle down for a good amount of reading!

5 Tips for Maximizing your Podcamp Experience

Podcamp Boston 2With Podcamp Boston 3 coming up this weekend, I’ve started think back to last year’s event and how I want to approach the experience this year. Podcamp co-creator Christopher S. Penn recently created a video podcast listing 5 tips to get the most from your Podcamp experience. His video prompted me to come up with an additional five of my own that first time “Podcampers” might find useful.

Create a “People I want to meet list”
After Podcamp Boston 2 ended last year, I realized there were a bunch of people in attendance that I never got a chance to meet. In fact, so many people attended that I never even knew the people I missed were even there. Plan ahead by scanning the attendee list (Podcamp Boston’s list is on the Eventbrite page) and don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with specific people while you can. Many folks come from out of state, which can make meet-ups like this a rare opportunity.

Don’t forget your business cards
Podcamp is a prime time for networking, so don’t forget your business cards and be sure to bring plenty of them. Depending on the city, Podcamp weekends can draw hundreds of participants, and all the new people you meet won’t be able to connect with you later on if you aren’t handing out cards. Its not uncommon to see people handing out more than one card as well. It’s also wise to have special cards made up for that blog, podcast or online video show you’d like to promote!

Maximize your hallway time
Podcamp weekends are always packed full of great sessions, but as many experienced Podcampers will agree, much of the magic happens in the hallways. Spontaneous sessions and unplanned gatherings can yield great information and can be incredibly valuable. If you’re not getting what you want out of a session, envoke the Pocamp “Law of Two Feet” and venture out into the hallway to see what’s going on. You might just be surprised at what you find!

Bring snacks
Be sure to throw a few snacks in your backpack to keep your energy up throughout the day. Podcamp offers a lot of information to absorb in 48 hours, and you’ll need to rely on those little bursts of energy that a healthy snack can give you after the coffee crash begins to settle in. Quick and portable items like a banana, trail mix, and a bottle of water will stay fresh during the weekend and the money you save bringing your own snack will pay for that extra pint at the pub on Saturday night.

Check your shyness at the door
Podcamp weekend is a time to meet new people as well as shake hands with some of the people with whom, until now, you might only have had a virtual relationship. If you tend to lean towards the shy side in social situations, then you’ll take comfort in the fact that everyone who attends Podcamp is there to meet other people. Don’t hesitate to approach groups of people who you may not know yet. Looking for groups of people that have one or two people you already know can also make breaking the ice easier. Just remember, everyone is there to meet you!

Bonus Tip! – Additional “gear” to bring
Here are some additional items to bring along that tend to come in handy: a powerstrip, extension cord, battery chargers, cellphone charger (especially for the iPhone 3G folks!), laptop charger, extra memory cards, USB thumb drive and a sharpie.

See you at Podcamp Boston 3 and be sure to DM me on Twitter if you’d like to connect!

Photo courtesy of Nico

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/07/08

Is teaching older workers a productivity drain?
Stephen Baker from BusinessWeek.com touches on the topic of training and employee age. The post makes this week’s list of picks since he engaged the community on Twitter for responses on the topic – bravo! Some the sources he included where @mosleyppr and @missup from @PerkettPR and @astrout from client @mzinga.

What Traits Define a Social Media Marketer?
Tamar Weinberg gathers responses from some of the top names in social media, blogging, marketing and SEO to help define the essential skills required for todays social media consultants.

Social Media is not Community
Rachel Happe, of The Social Organization blog and new employee at Mzinga (PerkettPR client) helps clear up the confusion with the differences between “social media” and “community.”

Personal Brand Equity for Rent
Valeria Maltoni discusses how companies will need to adapt to handle employees who are continuing to grow powerful personal brands.

Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post
Problogger.net guest writer, Dustin M. Wax offers up nine tips to to help maximize the success of every blog post you write.

Google Analytics Help: Questions, Answers, Tips, Ideas, Suggestions
Google Analytics guru, Avinash Kaushik answers analytics questions and give tons of tips and help in the monster blog post.

Did Alka-Seltzer fizzle out at building community?

Great American Road Trip SignBayer Healthcare recently launched a summer-long online marketing campaign around their Alka-Seltzer brand called the “Great American Road Trip.” After coming across the micro-site that supports the campaign, I was pleasantly surprised by the much cooler and more “hip” brand presentation than you might expect from an antacid maker. The flash-based site does a great job blending together old-fashion diner and road-trip elements with several activities like flash games, printable (paper) stickers, and the ability to notify your friends about the site. These features compliment the main focus – which is a highly entertaining series of videos created by the east coast singing/comedy duo, Rhett and Link.

The traditional “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” messaging, while still present in the videos, takes a backseat to the iconic “Speedy” figurine and the antics of Rhett and Link. The trio have embarked on a nationwide road trip in a beat-up car (an AMC Gremlin?!) making stops at diners, dives and food events across the country. At each location, Rhett and Link engage with the general public, poke fun at them (and themselves) and create wonderfully fun videos that are being released each Monday and Wednesday throughout the summer. Overall, Bayer Healthcare scores high marks for creativity, presentation and for reaching out to “internetainers” like Rhett and Link for assistance in creating an entertaining experience. However, the campaign falls a bit short on the social media side, especially when it comes to the potential for building community.

Great American Road Trip Screenshot

After a closer look at the micro-site, it becomes apparent that the focus is on one-way messaging. The viewer is presented with the material that Bayer wants to show with no means of contributing back to the site and the other viewers. The Great American Road Trip is a theme that all of us can identify with in one way or another. That common thread would make the ideal platform around which to build a community. Give me a way to share my own funny road-trip story where I found the best little diner that served up a tasty burrito that nearly killed me. Let me tell my story via text or video or photos. Let me tell people how Alka-Seltzer saved me! Bayer is excepting photos as part of their “Dream Road Trip” contest, but the submissions probably vanish into a corporate email account after being submitted. Why not post the entries for all to view and engage the public vote for the finalists? Think of all the friends and family members that would be driven to the site using that method.

Minimally, there should be a way to leave comments about the videos directly on the micro-site without having to figure out that the video is embedded from YouTube. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with hosting videos like these on YouTube. That’s what it’s there for and will generally provide the most potential for exposure. In this case, who’s getting the exposure? It appears that all the videos are being hosted from Rhett and Link’s YouTube channel rather than a Bayer Healthcare or Alka-Seltzer-branded channel. Yes, there’s community building going on, and its all centered around Rhett and Link. That’s a big plus for them, but a lost opportunity for the Alka-Seltzer brand.

Lost opportunities aside, what might seem even more strange is my Google search that found the Speedy’s Road Trip photostream on Flickr. Kudos to the Bayer Healthcare employee who started the account, but why has the profile been left completely blank? That’s not very transparent. Why is there no link on the Speedy’s Road Trip micro-site to share all the great behind-the-scenes photos with the viewing community? Using Flickr to share this type of content is great way to compliment the efforts of the campaign, but it doesn’t work unless you tie it all together.

Obviously, a company the size of Bayer Healthcare would not roll out a campaign of this size and cost without a clear set of strategies and objectives. My observations of the missing pieces from a social media and community building perspective might be going beyond what they are trying to achieve.

What do you think? One thing is for sure. I’ll continue to watch content from Rhett and Link long after the summer is over.