Facebook and General and Social Networking and strategychris on 05 Aug 2010 10:38 am

when everyone is looking for gold in the same river, the best opportunities are somewhere else… Mark Cuban

A recent article in the New York Times got me really excited.  No, it wasn’t an article predicting the Ravens to be Super Bowl Champions.  It was about a journalist who went beyond Facebook and Twitter to bring value to his company.  Not only was he successful in that endeavor but it paid off for him professionally too.

If you didn’t see the article, I highly recommend it.  The story is about Mark Coatney, a former senior editor at Newsweek, who decided to engage with folks in another medium.  Accordingly, Mr. Coatney starting using Tumblr to post unique content.  The effort created a successful following for Newsweek on Tumblr that other media companies are looking to emulate.

Many companies and organizations are starting to pursue a social media strategy now.  Three years ago Facebook and Twitter were great.  However, they are the status quo.  You have to go beyond them now.  There is a tremendous opportunity to be a leader and not a follower by utilizing location based social networks (Foursquare, Gowalla) or going beyond blogging with (Amplify, Posterous).

Congrats to Mr. Coatney for leading and his new gig at Tumblr!

Disclosure – I’m one of the co-creators of Amplify

General and Policy and social media and Social Networking and strategychris on 27 Apr 2010 09:20 am

Cecilia Kang’s recent front page story in the Washington Post discussing efforts by those in the telecom / tech space to use social media to affect policy generated a lot of buzz over the weekend.  Although I’m no longer in the trenches fighting those battles, I’ve been one of the early advocates for using social media in the public policy arena (this blog started in 2006).  Accordingly, I have a few thoughts on the article.

Ms. Kang begins the article stating – “Why pay for a golf trip, dinner, or full-page ad when you can tweet for free”?  It is a good question and is core to the overall conversation.  However, citizen lobbying isn’t on equal footing yet.  Fundraisers that provide the golf and dinner opportunities provide access to policymakers that are not quite analogous to twittering.  If this was true, as highlighted in her Post Tech column, some companies wouldn’t be spending nearly $6 million (last quarter) in lobbying.  Don’t get me wrong, utilizing social media is allowing citizen lobbyists to close the gap on the traditional influence game.  However, we are not quite there yet.  Continue Reading »

General and Policy and social media and Social Networking and SprintNextel and strategy and Verizon Wirelesschris on 13 Nov 2009 02:06 pm

Are you a leader or a poser?  There’s a big difference.

Free Press is a leader in the interactive universe.  They cultivate and organically grow their communities.  By utilizing digital tools early and often, the Free Press team has built a machine that can deliver results.  Last year, they took on Comcast, leading an effort to urge the FCC to rebuke Comcast for its network management practices.  They won.

Early this year, Free Press began beating the drum for the FCC to stay the course and open a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on open internet regulations in the wireline and wireless spaces.  This effort mobilized thousands of letters, blogs and tweets on the topic.  Once again, they won.

Free Press has become a juggernaut in the District of Communications.  Although, I don’t always agree with all of their public policy positions – I love the strategies they use to raise public awareness and influence policymaking. Continue Reading »

Facebook and General and Google and Microsoft and Social Networking and strategychris on 21 Jul 2009 12:51 pm

I was catching up on some reading last night when a recent Roll Call story on Twitter’s need to hire a lobbyist caught my attention.  The article links Twitter’s success to the rise of Microsoft and Google and asks a key question – when do you hire a lobbyist in DC?  In Microsoft’s case, they moved quickly, responding to the Department of Justice’s interest in the company’s business practices.  In Google’s case, they built their office slowly before any major issues arose.  With that in mind, is it now time for Twitter to hire a lobbyist?

The answer is no. And the reason is clear: Twitter doesn’t need a lobbyist!

Twitter continues to be the hottest thing on the social web.  However, let’s not forget that the company is not making any money.  The resources necessary for representation would be better served elsewhere.  For instance, hiring more developers to strengthen the quality of service (think FAIL WHALE) or growing the treasury for more acquisitions (think Summize) to make Twitter more valuable as a service are better investments for the company.

Twitter also has something that many companies (many of which have huge arsenals of lobbyists) are trying to build now — an active community!  Twitter founders Evan Williams (1,129,147 followers), Biz Stone (964,023 followers), and Jack Dorsey (927,253 followers) could easily start a movement in response to a misguided attempt by a lawmaker to cripple the popular social networking website.  On a related note, @Ev, @biz, @Jack already have relationships with lawmakers on twitter.  They already engage in direct conversations with key policymakers without spending a dime at a fundraiser.  Not to mention the attention Ashton “Mr. Twitter” Kutcher (2,858,856 followers) would draw to the legislation.  He is already using his Twitter fame to mobilize around causes.  Let us not forget his talent for publicity – his achievement of 1,000,000 followers before Larry King did and his appearance on Oprah was all over the news!

Companies such as Twitter are changing the world, and the Internet is changing the way business is done in Washington.  Twitter allows us to connect directly with Congress and to build connections with people around the world among common interests.  This is good for our democracy.

Twitter will need to play the traditional Washington game at some point in the future.  It is a fact of life.  However, they can play it differently.  Once again, they have millions of users who can carry (tweet) their messages to Congress.  Ashton will lead their battle and not the lobbyists.

Follow me on Twitter – @mobilediner

General and strategychris on 15 Jun 2009 02:55 pm

The evidence is below.  In each instance, there is zero engagement or call to action.

Don’t ge me wrong.  I love the marketing (you got my attention) and the demographic (non-smartphone users) that each company is targeting.  However, you’ve blown it!

What is respekt?

Where are the nearest stores?

Do you really think the consumer is going to remember the website to visit?  Once again, you are not targeting the smartphone community that would be predisposed to check out your website (via mobile).

These are great examples of missed mobile marketing opportunities and leveraging the power of short codes.

General and strategyDavid Nassar on 07 Apr 2009 01:40 pm

Political campaign organizers have known for many years that the more targeted the message, the more likely it would be to generate a voter to take a desired action.  In 2008, the technologies were finally customized and utilized to make hyper-targeting possible. Because of the brilliance of the Obama campaign, politics is out in front of the traditional marketing world.

The result is a growing recognition and understanding that, through the internet, a transformational shift in the marketers capacity to reach smaller and smaller audiences is occurring.  Whether the product being marketed is a consumable good or an idea, our ability to reach down to the micro level for targeting is changing what is said about it into a more and more personalized approach.  Increasingly, I believe that those who understand that and can craft those messages effectively will drive the larger communications program of organizations, corporations and campaigns.

On TV and radio, while we may have a target audience, our desire to avoid alienating anyone else that might be listening, leads to a lowest common denominator in the message.  With a greater capacity to reach a micro audience, the value is already shifting from the quantity of the contact to the quality of the contact.

This reality requires that everything we know about advertising changes.  Instead of marketing the end – which is the product – we need to market the community itself that will then support the product.  Continue Reading »

Facebook and General and social media and strategychris on 07 Oct 2008 12:55 pm

I don’t know how folks played basketball in these shoes…

That’s where corporate organizations are with digital tools and the interactive universe. They are running in Chucks. Not necessarily a bad thing – they look good – but as CNET’s Caroline McCarthy reported this week, half of these corporate efforts in social media will flop.

There are some key differences between the basketball players of the fifties and the “digital strategists” today — the players understood all aspects of the game and didn’t throw bricks…

Dialing-up to Digital

New media is no longer niche. You are no longer from another planet if you blog. In fact, most people in the district are now on Facebook or even Twitter. Not to mention that every Public Affairs firm in town is now offering blogging and new media services. In addition to those firms, many social media experts are marketing themselves online… Okay, so that guy with 4000 followers on twitter (who is good at personal branding) is going to lead your interactive public affairs strategy or your online marketing initiatives? Scary…

If you are looking to utilize digital tools as a part of your overall communications strategy, look for folks who have been on some campaigns or led some grassroots initiatives. In addition, look to hire professionals who know your industry and can get your organization beyond the “fad” of the day… You’ll score more than fashion points…

General and Politics and strategyEmily on 23 Sep 2008 11:04 am

With the November election on the horizon, we have pondered the implications of utilizing wireless to mobilize voters.  We believe that in a race this close, mobile offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness and engage folks.  However, will mobile make the difference in ’08?

Our friends at Mobile Future or going to take a closer look at this question and have organized a timely forum on this subject at the National Press Club on October 14, 2008 titled “How Mobile Technologies are Changing Elections.”

Mobile Future Chairman, Jonathan Spalter, will moderate a panel discussion with some of the leading experts in mobile and its impact on politics. The dialogue will be facilitated by Jed Alpert (CEO of Mobile Commons), Michelle Mayorga (Rock the Vote, Mobile Programs), Casey O’Shea (DCCC National Field Director) and Katie Harbath (Former Deputy eCampaign Director, Giuliani for President).

Additionally, Peter Hart (Peter D. Hart Research Associates), a leading U.S. pollster, will address the atmosphere of the 2008 election and discuss the impact that mobile-only users will have upon the outcome in November.

The forum will be presented over lunch, and all are welcome! 

Be sure to Rsvp at to reserve your spot.. HOPE 2 C U THERE!

General and Policy and Politics and social media and Social Networking and strategychris on 08 Sep 2008 10:14 am

With the U.S. Open Men’s Final all set for tonight, I’m feeling a little nostalgic.

I’m remembering Andre Agassi and those Canon commercials — “Image is Everything” he would proclaim… Andre was so right!

In the district of communications, your image has a lot to do with how successful you are with your policy initiatives. One industry that has suffered from bad perception in the marketplace is the cable industry. However, the cable folks are not following the traditional playbook and trying to hire more lobbyists. They are looking to improve their image engaging bloggers and the citizenry.

In a Communications Daily story today (subscription only), Rob Stoddard (NCTA, Senior VP of communications and public affairs) stated:

“the cable industry needs to do a better job of improving its image with bloggers and customers alike. As we chip away at that image issue, I really believe that all this money we spend on messaging will go further.”

Policy and politics are all about marketing. Accordingly, in times like these, making sure you are a step ahead of the competition is critical. Companies that blend an interactive strategy with their traditional communications will be rewarded in the market and in DC.

General and Press and social media and strategychris on 01 Jul 2008 10:19 am

We have discussed how the winners in the wireless revolution will be the ones that collaborate. In this new world of communications, it is a must. Rapid advances in technology and a hyper-competitive environment no longer allow companies to have monopolies on innovation.

In the consulting world, same story. An organization can no longer hold all the intellectual property under one roof.

At Tin Can Communications ™, we are co-creating with one of the best interactive companies in the market – Blue State Digital. On that note, we were delighted to see them highlighted in a recent article – Obama’s Secret Digital Weapon – in Business Week. BSD are leaders in digital communications and we add some firepower for one of their clients in the telecommunications space.

Prahalad and Krishnan (Professors at the University of Michigan’s B-school) are credited for coming up with the term co-creation in academia. For many folks, this might be a novel concept and you should pick up their latest book. However, for others, keep co-creating and increasing your contributions to consumers.

General and social media and Social Networking and strategychris on 17 Jun 2008 11:06 am

Qui Diaz (over at the Buzz Bin) briefly highlighted the latest “marketing tactic” by Verizon to market My Home 2.0. She was quite judicious in her assessment of their marketing.

At a time when Fortune 500 companies are starting to think about utilizing social technologies in different capacities (advocacy, organizing, marketing etc.) this is a setback. In fact, it makes my old company’s mLife campaign look brilliant.

So what was the agency on record thinking when they devised this campaign?

Obviously, they want to target folks who may be predisposed to upgrade their service to FIOS (or flee the cable companies). Accordingly, they are positioning themselves in different social areas because this demographic more likely comprises heavy internet users. I see the justification and the merits of a social media strategy. However, “Twittering Teddy” is just awful.

Social media is risky. It provides an excellent opportunity to engage and get closer to consumers but it can blow up if it is not authentic or just plain silly. Verizon has successfully developed the brand over the years with strong products. It has had great pitchmen from James Earl Jones and the “Can You Hear Me Now” guy is a legend…. Twittering Teddy?

The good news (in all of this) is that a Fortune 100 company is willing to utilize social media to reach consumers. The bad news is they jeopardize the brand with a campaign that is as poorly developed as this one.

Google and strategychris on 11 Jun 2008 11:04 am

TR Blogs editor Toni Bowers reports that Google’s 20 percent rule is getting a makeover. On that note, I thought this philosophy was brilliant when I first read about it in The Google Story.” However, I can understand that as the company has grown exponentially that it might need tweaking.

Goog’s 20 percent rule is a philosophy that Page and Brin encouraged during the early days at Google.  As the book details, the 20 percent rule allowed folks to focus on projects that interested them (and was not considered a part of the respective job duty) one day a week. Page and Brin wanted to attract the best and brightest as well as keep the creative juices flowing at Google. Accordingly, they thought this was a good way to do it and it differentiated them from other tech companies. Google news is a product born from 20 percent time.

I am a still a fan of the philosophy. In many instances, you cannot escape from the daily routine on the job. One becomes comfortable and competent doing a few things the same way until those methods stop working. At that point, it is probably too late – for your product, client, or business.

Mobile Diner arose out of my own “20 percent rule.” After business school (at night), I felt it was important to challenge myself and think about new ways to engage wireless enthusiasts and policymakers. Letters to the FCC from the same folks get old. Chairman Martin’s been ignoring them for years. Engaging consumers will keep the industry on its toes and responding to consumer demand will minimize “putting fires out” that so typically define careers.

With 10,000 (or so) employees at Google, Page and Brin do not personally interact with everyone on campus anymore. They used to do all the hiring. They used to know all their people. I understand that there now needs to be some guidelines on 20 percent for Google. However, it is a beautiful policy and I hope other folks embrace it in their respective fields. The benefits internally and externally are hard to ignore.

update – this post has been edited…

General and social media and strategychris on 02 May 2008 08:38 am

A former colleague sent me this article – “The third leg of the stool” – which appeared in The Hill this week.

We have covered this ground on a few occasions.  However, the fact that the article was written by a well-known K street lobbyist makes it a splendid dish.


CTIA and General and Policy and social media and strategy and VON 2007Ashley on 29 Apr 2008 03:54 pm

Sadly, this is going to be my last post here at the Diner. I will be leaving my firm at the end of the week to go to the Hill, where I will be a legislative assistant for a Philadelphia member, and while I’ll always be a co-founder of the Diner, I’ll no longer be a contributor here.

So, I wanted to take this opportunity to write about some things that have been on my mind and leave you with some parting thoughts. I apologize in advance, but this is going to be an all-you-can-eat buffet, so loosen your belts…

First off- thanks!

I really want to take a minute and thank Chris for inviting me to help him in this venture. About two years ago, when Chris asked me if I wanted to help him out in starting a blog about wireless, I said, “But Chris, you’re the wireless guru, who’s gonna care what I have to say?” Well, Chris picked up his cell phone, held it up, and said, “Do you have one of these? That’s what I thought. You know plenty about wireless.” He believed in me, and I hope that I’ve helped him build the blog and develop a community that’s passionate about wireless like he wanted to! That brings me to my second point…

People in new media are AWESOME!

I suppose that if you are compelled to blog, you have an inherent interest in sharing your knowledge and in learning what other folks have to say. Well, I learned that to be the case pretty quickly working in the Diner. When Chris and I were first starting out, we were inundated with tips and suggestions from fellow bloggers. From Steve Garfield, who showed us how to use our new video camera, to Chris Brogan, who was willing to be our first interviewee, to Jeff Pulver who invited me to blog at VON 07 in San Jose, to Jonny Goldstein and the DC Media Makers for introducing us to folks and letting us get in on some live broadcasting, and to the people at CTIA who asked me to lend a hand when they were first getting into the blogosphere, everyone who does this wants to help others do it too, and I’d just like to say thank you. It’s the inclusiveness of these on-line communities that makes them so profound! Continue Reading »

General and strategychris on 16 Apr 2008 09:28 am

You think you need a blog… Do you?

You think you need to join Facebook… Do you?

You think your organization needs to get social media and social technologies… Do they?

The answer is NO. In fact, if you want to operate in analog, do not adopt these digital tools. These tools will only make your head spin and the results will be quite ugly.

Analog methods still work. Those direct mail hits that are “successful” when they reach 1% penetration and those advocacy efforts where you get a handful of signatures (for your letter) will get you a “pat on the back.” However, these tactics to reach people are becoming less effective and more costly. These tactics are costing your organization dollars and you are also interrupting people. Millions of folks signed up for the do not call list in the first three months it opened for a reason. Spamming and interrupting do not represent the future of marketing or politics.

Organizations that are seeing the future of media and mobilizing using digital tools will reap the benefits. These folks are now evolving their traditional methods in marketing, customer service and advocacy. They are figuring out what is effective and they will be leaders in this digital revolution.

I think I’m talking about YOU.

update – this post has been edited.

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