The Blog Rally: A Viral Movement from Engage with Grace

I learned about the “blog rally” this morning (see “Talking turkey about death” by Kay Lazar in Nov 26, ’08 Boston Globe) to encourage conversation about a very difficult topic: how we want to die.  Bloggers are being asked to pick up the story and pass along to fellow bloggers, asking them too to post, to get the conversation started about our end of life preferences.

This is a timely topic for me, having recently sat with a friend last month who died at home. Fortunately her family, friends, and caregivers were able to honor and support her decision.

I realized after losing my friend that I can’t say with any certainty that I know the wishes of my family or other close friends.  Nor have I completely articulated my own answers to the questions Engage with Grace: The One Slide Project has posed.

As a blogger I want to do my part to help get the conversation started online and at home.

So the first thing we need to do is start talking. Engage with Grace:The One Slide Project was designed with one simple goal: to help get the conversation about end of life experience started. The idea is simple: Create a tool to help get people talking. One Slide, with just five questions on it. Five questions designed to help get us talking with each other, with our loved ones, about our preferences.
Excerpted from Engage with Grace

To learn more, and download the slide, go to Engage with Grace.


The Power of Social Media

Some of my closest friends and family members still get that glassy-eyed look when I try to explain social media to them.  When I came across Peter Kim’s post, A List of Social Media Marketing Examples, I thought this is exactly the kind of information I need to help drive the power of social media home.

There are currently 324 brands represented in Peter Kim’s examples of companies, using and being used, by social media marketing.  In one of Peter’s recent updates he says, “the list has more than doubled from community contributions” since its posting on 9/03/08.  That’s impressive and powerful in itself!

Here’s the other big thing I find enlightening, the list contains 26 types of social media marketing. Everything from blogging to word of mouth campaigns:

1. blogging
2. bookmarking
3. brand monitoring
4. community
5. content aggregation
6. crowdsourcing
7. customer support
8. discussion boards
9. forums
10. mashups
11. microblogging
12. online video
13. organization
14. outreach
15. photosharing
16. podcasting
17. presentation sharing
18. social media press release
19. social networks
20. strategy
21. tagging
22. virtual worlds
23. voting
24. widgets
25. wiki
26. word of mouth (wom) campaign

How Cool is Social Bookmarking
I added Peter Kim’s blog post to Impressions through Media’s del.icio.us list, and discovered 1474 other people have bookmarked it, too–which helps the personal recommendations process to keep going, on and on.

Peter Kim’s list is an excellent resource, It’s a post, you’ll probably want to return to many times so you can get the full benefit of the company examples.

Who's Getting a Gold Star in Social Media?

I don’t know about you, but I love reading success stories in social media.   They inspire me and get my brain juices flowing.   They make me better examine and question the “old rules of marketing” and think about more effective ways of communicating with clients and prospects and ultimately succeeding as a B2B marketer into 2009.

That’s why I’m sharing a recent article by Pete Swabey published in Information Age on the 10 outstanding examples of business social media.   These examples inspired me.  I hope they do the same for you.  All demonstrate the sense of community and collaboration that Web 2.0 fosters.   Some of these companies, including Dell and PlusNet, are better able to serve their customers as a result of social media.  Others, such as Wachovia Bank and Best Buy, show the ability of Web 2.0 tools in helping employees work together,  and documenting and sharing knowledge organization-wide.

  • Coca-Cola - has improved the connection with its customers with tools such as blogging, virtual worlds, social networking, widgets and video sharing.
  • Best-Buy - has built a employee social network to transfer knowledge and handle customer complaints.
  • Ernst & Young – has a  Facebook-based recruitment network to stay connected to top college graduates.
  • Procter & Gamble - created a community and discussion forum for young girls that gets more than two million visitors a month.
  • Wachovia Bank - uses a Web 2.0 intranet that includes blogs, wikis, video conferencing and instant messaging to improve communication across its geographies.
  • Dell - has a community site known as IdeaStorm enabling customers to contribute ideas on product innovation.
  • GE - has a Web 2.0 intranet and collaboration platform where communities can share knowledge and collaborate on customer contracts.
  • Elsevier - has incorporated Web 2.0 community tools into its information services to help engage and retain customers.
  • IBM - created Web 2.0 software that gets its 300,000 employees together for global “Jam” events.
  • PlusNet - this intenet service provider has outlawed email and replaced it with a self-built collaboration program called WorkSpace that enables customers to do support and administrative tasks on their own – such as producing a bill.

I hope you find these Gold Star social media adopters to be inspiring.  Whether in terms of external marketing or internal collaboration, all of these companies have embraced the power of Web 2.0 in business.

What's happening to our print publications?

Today with information of all shapes and sizes readily at our fingertips– sadly some things are drifting away. In today’s news, PC Magazine’s announcement that after 27 years it will do away with its print version and exclusively be an online publication. In Cambridge, MA, a beloved community newsstand indicates it may be shutting down after 53 years of business because “the public appetite for printed news has all but vanished.”

While print publications are suffering, online is mushrooming. Take the New Yorker magazine for example, who has recently introduced their Digital Edition, “every page exactly as it appears in print, easy-to-read, searchable format.” The web formatted edition promises to be available before it arrives at most newsstands and mailboxes, delivered via email on Monday mornings.

As a big fan of the New Yorker, personally I like waiting for the magazine to come in the mail. Even though there’s a part of me that’s intrigued by a web format, I’m not ready to give up reading glossy pages, or the stack of magazines which pile up on my coffee table.

As it is now, most of the New Yorker is available online. For example, in the most recent November 24th issue, of the twenty-five plus articles posted, only four of them require registration to read the full piece. The New Yorker online version also has three features which are not in the print edition at all.

There’s a lot of good stuff going on at newyorker.com, blogs, audio, video, slideshows. I for one don’t want to see the demise of print publications, but fully appreciate the digital experience.

Extending your relationships with LinkedIn

Last week I participated on a panel for The Boston Club, an impressive professional group of women business owners. As the room filled to capacity at Turner’s Fisheries in the Westin Hotel in Copley Square, I realized that there was a huge need for education on social media topics.

The program “Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, YouTube, Blogging…Who can any of this help me with my business?” was the second on this topic in so many months offered to the membership. After introductions, hands shot into the air asking questions like, “What is Twitter and why would I use it?” “What is the one thing I should do for my business?” How do you find time to do all this stuff? “How do you know how to use these tools?”

The discussion turned to the value of these tools and it was posed “Why would I use LinkedIn? Do you know anyone who has ever benefited from it?”  Of course, being shy and all (ha), I hesitated about 3 seconds to pull the mic forward and explain that the reason I was invited to participate on the panel, the reason our business grew 30% last year, the reason we have a successful advisory board, is because of LinkedIn. The audience did one of those simultaneous “oooh”s and so I explained how it happened.

I was looking for a CFO consultant to solve some financial issues with the business. I did a search in LinkedIn and came up with a name that looked familiar, Susan Hammond. Turns out she was connected to me through my neighbor down the street so I asked my neighbor Marnie to introduce us over LinkedIn. Within a few days, I had a meeting with Susan and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today I used LinkedIn to find a call center for a client and got 12 responses within two hours. I searched for graphic designers for our firm and found 5 that fit our needs. Having said this, it is important to know that these tools do not replace the face-to-face personal relationship, they extend it.

In our intense world, it makes good business sense to find ways to develop and cultivate relationships. LinkedIn is just one way that helps us do that.

Technological Change — Yes We Can!

Today’s Boston Globe features an article Obama brings cyber sensibility to office which describes how president-elect Obama is “in the process of choosing the nation’s first chief technology officer – a post that’s long existed in most corporations, but never in government.”

The article goes on to report that the US ranks 15th out of 30 industrialized nations in the percentage of citizens with access to the Internet, and that Obama promises to make Internet access as commonplace as telephone service.

Obama reportedly wants to put YouTube-like videos of government meetings online and has proposed a Google-like database of federal grants and contracts so people can see where there money is going; and will require his Cabinet members to hold regular online town hall meetings, where they’ll field questions from the Internet audience.

To keep up-to-date as we transition into Obama’s Presidency, visit Change.gov, a website and blog, launched by Obama’s Presidential Transition Project team (very soon after last week’s election) which documents the transition into power as well as soliciting ideas from the public.

Not only is change in the air –it’s in cyberspace, too!

Showing the Bigger Picture with LinkedIn Applications

show and tellLinkedIn, a professional network with over 28 million members, has been credited as a place where users can “exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with your trusted contacts.”

In order to keep up with the needs of its users,  LinkedIn has developed ways to further engage participants, by expanding the user experience beyond introductions to new business contacts and playing catch-up with former colleagues.  LinkedIn’s applications are helping us heed the advice of our teacher’s–show, don’t just tell.

LinkedIn has recently launched nine applications to help users show the bigger picture of themselves via their presentations, blog posts, travel destinations, reading list recommendations, twitter activity, workspaces for project collaboration, and content sharing.  LinkedIn’s applications give us a bigger picture of our social network.

For more information about the applications check out Michael Singer’s post on Information Week’s blog.