Video of the Week: Dancing to Dave Ramsey

Of all the videos of the week I have ever posted this is one that defies logic and explanation. I really like Dave Ramsey. I'm down with interpretive dancing I guess too, but combining the two is something I could have never imagined. And one other question...what does a raccoon have to do with any of this?

[HT to Chris for this video.]

Link for feed readers:

UPDATE: After watching it again I still don't get it. I'm trying but I don't. I find myself making strange faces as I watch this video trying to understand what in the world is trying to be conveyed here. Here's me watching this video...

Gmail Chat releases group chat feature

I'm logged into my Gmail all day long and love Gmail chat built into it. I've wished on several occasions that a group chat feature was available to have a discussion with more than one person at a time. I saw today that group chat is now available. Now we're talking!


Content is the new promotion strategy, part 2: What is content?

Earlier this week I started this series called "content is the new promotion strategy." Today I'm going to begin with the first question some may have for understanding this promotional paradigm shift...

What is content?

The Wikipedia definition for content is: "information and experiences created by individuals, institutions and technology to benefit audiences in contexts that they value."

For our purposes I expand on this definition a bit to say that online content for promotion is any information, idea, experience, or digital good that will have value to the consumer without the perceived primary objective being an advertisement, offer, proposition, or call to action.

For instance, a series of videos on the website of a home improvement magazine with short "how-to" videos would be content. A banner ad on the same site that simply says, “Order now and save 30%!” is not. This is not to say, however, that at the end of the how-to video there couldn't be an offer to order now to save 30%. The difference is that the content (in this case it's a video) is primary and the offer is secondary. The content earns the attention for the offer. In essence you've given them something now so you can ask for something in return that benefits you (even if you ask it in such a way that you're telling them it's a good deal for them too...like 30% off.)

Content is only as good as its value to another person. High value content is therefore considered high quality content so the opposite is true as well. Low value content is low quality content. The correlation between value and quality is inescapable. The million dollar question then is this: “What is valuable content?”

Valuable content will mean different things to different audiences so an understanding of your target audience is paramount. I was recently talking with a photographer friend about this concept of content as a promotion strategy. At first he wasn't sure it applied to him. He thought it meant he might start a blog about photography tips or something along those lines. Though that's one route he could go (and it may very well be a good one) he could also look at creating digital goods or showcasing his photographs in a form that would be valuable to people who may later be interested in his services. For instance, he could use his pictures as a series of free custom desktop images or inspirational e-cards. Maybe he could take some pictures of children and put music to it to create a funny and touching video about kids. If the video is done well I can just think of all the moms and dads who will want to pass it along to friends/family/coworkers and all the while be promoting his photography in the process. Any of these ideas would be viewed as valuable to people who are potential customers for him and he's promoting himself by giving away content. By giving any of these away, he's not asking for anything in return yet. He just knows he's credited with each photograph that goes out and for now he knows it is more valuable to gain people's attention than to make a hard sell. After all, it's a promotion strategy not a sales strategy.

There are three easy categories to remember for valuable content that can be remembered with this question: Is the content helpful, hopeful, or humorous? This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the types of content that could be beneficial, but I've found it to be a quick reference to gauge whether something will be perceived as valuable.

  • Helpful - Is the content you're going to create going to help someone in any way. Maybe it's going to help give them knowledge or perspective they didn't have before. Maybe it will teach or train them to do something they want to learn. Helpful content helps people. It's not a difficult concept to understand but it could be easily overlooked as a content option. It's not an accident that Lifehacker is the sixth most popular blog in the world.
  • Hopeful - Content that is encouraging, touching, or in some other way has an emotional appeal more easily lends itself to being appealing to your audience (assuming this is appropriate for your audience) and then being passed along as well. It's the same thing Hallmark has done for years and more recently Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been successful with this approach. Kleenex's Let it Out campaign was all over this too.
  • Humorous - Let's face it, we've seen more than our fair share of funny online videos, stories, or pictures and we've probably recommended a bunch too. Whether it's some guy dancing around or a baby laughing, humor is one of the easiest ways to create valuable content. Making people laugh is valuable. Last summer eMarketer studied this topic and showed that the most watched online videos are humorous. The band Ok Go got the break of a lifetime with this approach.
The next part of this series will talk in depth about why content is the new promotion strategy.


Picnik's Photo Creator - Holiday Shapes

I'm a huge fan of Picnik, a free online photo editor. I use it often and love it. I saw they have released a bunch of "holiday shapes" (little icons and images really) to add to any photo you upload to Picnik. This is a nice touch for someone who wants to add a little festivity to their photos...or perhaps someone (like me) who wants have some other fun. Below is a picture of my friend Chris Thomas with a few of these shapes added for a bit of Christmas cheer...though after looking further at it seems kind of like a gangster gangsta Christmas to me....

Some Pi after Thanksgiving

It's been a while since I talked about MySliceofPi.com so if you're not familiar with it, you may want to get yourself a little post-Thanksgiving Pi. The Pideas page will give you some thoughts on how to use your slice (or slices) of Pi. If you want to follow the Pi message through your RSS reader, just subscribe to mysliceofpi.com/rss.

One funny slice I saw today was digit 114. I don't know who Rom's Mom is but that's a funny picture. I also see that Denver and the Mile High Orchestra got a free slice once. If you're not familiar with them check out Fox's The Next Great American Band.

As of this posting, the next available digit is a 3 followed by a 0...so someone's going to get two digits for $3 if they move fast enough.


A del.icio.us tip discovered by accident

I've been using the social bookmarking site del.icio.us for a long time. One thing I've never really done was use the notes feature on the bookmarks because I didn't want to take the time to write the note. I would tag it as I wanted and move on. Today I discovered by accident that if I highlight a section of text on the page I'm going to tag with my Firefox del.icio.us add-on it will automatically import that text into the notes field. Maybe this is common knowledge to del.icio.us users but it wasn't to me. I think it's fair to say I'll be using the notes feature a lot more from now on. It's a great little shortcut.


Content is the new promotion strategy

For a year and a half now I've been talking about web 2.0 to people with varying levels of understanding about the term and the technology that it represents. In August, 2006, I posted for the first time about the six categories of web 2.0. I've used the "massive Volkswagon" many times to help give a basis for understanding in personal meetings and in seminars to groups of people.

Several months ago, however, I began to see a flaw in what I was talking about. My focus was totally on the technology, and as a marketer talking mostly to marketers, I found that the technology discussion was really only one part of the true shift in new media/web 2.0 marketing. It's one thing to start talking about fishing with nets, it's something else entirely to talk about why fishing with nets is important and strategic. That was the piece I was missing and as a marketer focused on new media, I was only talking about the technology without taking an important step back to explain the strategy for using it. If the mindset shift comes in forgetting the big fish, then the strategy to accompany it is this: content is the new promotion strategy. The technology (the nets...to stay with that analogy) simply lets content spread faster and go further than ever before.

This week I'm going to dig further into the idea of content as the new promotion strategy. After all, what is content and what makes it so special anyway?


Video of the Week: Free Eric Volz

This is one of those weeks when I'm going to depart from the usual funny video. Instead, this video is a mini documentary for Eric Volz, an American named who was put in a Nicaraguan prison for a crime with no evidence against him one year ago this week. More information can be found at Friends of Eric Volz site.

Link for feed readers:


I'm back on Twitter

Several months ago I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon with a slew of other people. I thought it was a pretty cool micro blogging platform, but to be honest, I really just checked it out because I saw a lot of other people doing it. After a week or two I kind of lost interest but over the last few weeks I've found myself going back to it. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It's a great way to promote your blog to people who have willingly shown an interest in you. The thing about Twitter is that people who are "following" you will see every time you post so they have elected to receive your updates. What else can you ask for than notifying people about a blog post when they've already shown an interest. I think that's what Seth Godin calls permission marketing.
  • There's a Twitter application for Facebook. I like Facebook. I like Twitter. Combining the two is doubly good.
  • I like to keep up with people informally and I'm happy to let people keep up with me the same way. From a micro blogging standpoint, there are a lot of people who I'd be interested to know what their doing and for the ones using Twitter, I like to see what they're into.
If you're on Twitter, let me know. You can find me on there under the highly creative moniker billseaver.


You May Not Need A Website, Just a Web Presence

Do you remember the good old days when someone wanted to promote their product or company online and some intrepid individual would say, "we need a website!" Once approved, that would start the ball rolling to find the right person or company to build that site for them. Until the last few years that was really the only option you had for an online presence. Now, however, that's not the case at all. Blogs have emerged as a free (if you choose to get a free one) and easy to use tool that gives you a web presence in many ways equal to traditional websites.

What got me thinking about this was that I met a guy this weekend who said something similar to what I've heard many times over the last few years. He's looking for an inexpensive website and, as I've done several times in the past, I told them it wasn't necessary. What he's really looking for is a web presence, not a full blown website. He just wants an online destination where people can find out about his business. In my view, a blog is a great alternative for his web presence rather than getting a website.

So, when do you need a website and when could you use a blog instead? Here is a short list of items that would likely require you have a website:

  • You have a lot of information to communicate (whether in volume of information or complexity of information)
  • You want a highly visual and/or Flash driven web presence
  • You need an ecommerce engine/shopping cart
  • You need a secure login area for some people but not everyone
  • You want a fully customized web presence (in design and function)
If any of the above apply to what you're looking for I recommend you talk to my friends at Anthology Creative or New Fangled Web Factory. Both companies can give you any of that (and much more too.)

If, however, you're just trying to get an online presence so people will learn something about what you're selling, know, or offer, a blog is perfect for you. Blogs now do many of the things people have only thought could be done with websites. For instance, if you wanted a website because you were looking to incorporate video or audio, a blog can do all of that. If you wanted a website that's branded for you, a blog can do that. If you wanted a website you can control instead of paying someone to update it for you, a blog can do that. If you wanted to show pictures or a variety of other visuals, a blog can do that. If you wanted to be found in Google searches, a blog can do that (and in many cases better than traditional websites too.)

The idea here is that getting a web presence is no longer just for the people who can pay to have a website built. A blog is available to anyone. You can have one up and going five minutes from now if you choose to. You own web presence is no longer an issue of accessibility or price, but is really an issue of strategy and convenience. Strategically a blog may be all you need so you can save the money you would have spent on a site and put it elsewhere. From a convenience standpoint, you may just prefer to pay someone to take care of you online presence for you, and if so, that's really what you're paying for.

The bottom line is that if a blog will do, why get a standard issue website built and pay the $3,000-$10,000 to do it? A blog may very well be your best strategic choice. It will almost always be the cheaper choice.


Video of the Week: Drive Thru Order - The Rap

Next time you go through the McDonald's drive thru try ordering like this...

Link for the feed readers:


Online Video Views Surpassing Expectations

I've been doing some research the last few days around online video usage by Americans. Earlier this year I came across these online video stats:

January 2007 Report: U.S. Online Video Viewers
(sources: eMarketer; U.S. Census Bureau)

  • 2003 – 52 million (32% of U.S. Internet users; 19% of population)
  • 2004 – 69 million (41% of U.S. Internet users; 25% of population)
  • 2005 – 89 million (51% of U.S. Internet users; 32% of population)
  • 2006 – 107 million (60% of U.S. Internet users; 38% of population)
  • 2007 projection – 123 million (67% of U.S. Internet users; 43% of population)
  • 2008 projection – 137 million (73% of U.S. Internet users; 47% of population)
Today I found these stats which show that by July of this year the actual American online video usage was far surpassing the late 2006 projections. In fact, the ComScore stats below show the actual online video views surpassing even the 2008 projections above....

July 2007 Report: U.S. Online Video Views
(source: ComScore)
Nearly 75% of U.S. Internet users watched an average of three hours of online video during the month. More than 9 billion videos were viewed by online during July, 2007. 2.4 billion of the video views occurred at YouTube.com. Yahoo! sites ranked second with 390 million, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 298 million, and Viacom Digital with 281 million.

What's the takeaway here? If you thought online video was a fad or even a slow trend it's actually quite the opposite. Besides, you know when she's jumping on board it's full-fledged mainstream.


Off topic: A Daddy's Dilemma

My friend Chris finds himself in a potentially precarious position and is needing some help. Here's the gist of the situation:

We have a boy on the way, due December 19. It dawned us during the lunchtime conversation that none of us have had to deal with the naming of the boy part yet, due in large part to my uncanny “shielding” ability. Here’s the deal though: With this boy on the way and a curious big sister sure to be lurking over every diaper change, we are going to face the question of “What is that?” sooner rather then later. How are we to answer? Do we teach her the proper scientific term now? Do we assign a nickname like “Winky” or “Doodle” or “Wee-Wee?”
Any of you moms or dads have a little help for him? If so, leave a comment on his blog.


Video of the Week: Bad Days At The Office

If you've had a bad week this might ease things for you a bit. It's a very funny montage. I'm pretty sure several of the videos are staged in some way but it's still quite funny. My favorites in the video are (in no particular order): the bathroom smoker, the old man's reaction to the paper airplanes and subsequent reaction to boss, and the final guy on the video who uses his keyboard into a baseball bat.

Link for the feed readers:


Yes, Blogging Can Launch A Non-Tech Business

A little over a year and a half ago I met a guy named Scot Justice. He was working as the CFO of a company but had dreams of starting his own CPA firm. I was just beginning to put legs on all I was learning about new media/web 2.0 at the time and Scot was the first person I'd shared this new perspective with formally. I didn't know much but I was already convinced there was something significant to be had leveraging the new media.

As we talked I told him what I was learning he got really interested in the possibility of blogging as a basis for starting his business so he launched the Virtual CFO blog right away. It was a way for him to begin establishing an online presence and building a base of credibility and validity to distinguish himself from all the other online competition and it worked. A few months ago Scot had the opportunity to formally launch CPA for Small Business and he's up and running now with clients who are finding his site and blog and choosing him as their virtual CFO. Here's part of a note he sent me so you can hear it in his own words:

By following your Web 2.0 advice, The Virtual CFO Blog is currently ranked number one under the Google search for “virtual cfo”. Having our blog ranked this high has allowed us to demonstrate our expertise in small business accounting and financial management to a larger pool of prospective clients than could have been reached through traditional marketing means.

Last month, we gained two new business clients who have a large online presence. Both told me that they chose CPA for Small Business as their public accounting firm because our website and blog demonstrated that we were tech savvy and would understood the accounting and financial management needs of e-businesses.
I should note that I'm going to start doing business with Scot when tax time rolls around. It only seems natural that my accountant is a blogger. Congratulations on the early success Scot.


Case In Point: How Feedburner Responded Via Blog

There are few organizations that shouldn't be blogging. Yes, I know that last week I said there are five characteristics of organizations that shouldn't blog, but I firmly believe every organization should do it and then deal with the other issues they have. That being said, Feedburner is a great case in point of why an organization should have a blog:

Over the weekend there was an issue with Google's Feedcatcher service and it basically messed up everyone's Feedburner subscription numbers. For bloggers who use Feedburner (like me), it's a constant gauge to see how how many people have chosen to track what you're talking about.

Now if you don't use Feedburner or aren't a blogger you may be thinking this is no big deal. The fact of the matter is, however, that tracking RSS feeds is one of the only reasons Feedburner exists, so when it can't track feeds their main service isn't working right and all the people who expect it to give them timely and accurate stats are going to see something vastly different. That's a big deal to many bloggers because they (and I'll include myself here) want accurate stats at all times. In this case it wasn't even Feedburner's fault, yet it still was their company who would be getting all the questions so they recognized the issue and wrote a blog post about it Sunday morning as a means to communicate to people what the problem was.

This was a win for Feedburner because they showed they're attentive to people's needs and proactive in giving information. The blog was simply the most logical place to get the message out. If your organization doesn't have a blog yet, how would you have responded? Would you have been able to proactively communicate the issue on a Sunday morning just as easy as any day of the week? Feedburner did.


Video of the Week: 15 Lateral Touchdown

If you're a football fan you've seen a lot of touchdowns but you've never seen one like this. It's from a game between two Division III schools, Trinity and Millsaps. Bottom line: Don't doubt the Trinity.

Link for feed readers:

Thanks to Brea I had to share this with you too...

An office had a going away party for one of their employees and called Walmart to order the cake. This is what they wanted on the cake:
"Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that write "We will miss you".

This is what they got: