From Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue in 20 Years

LOOK AT ME!!

I don’t get it… I really don’t. When (and why) did silicon valley abandon the idea that technology – particularly the web based variety – had intrinsic value. The kind of transformative value that people would pay for…

Find me two business plans for an online consumer product that don’t have “and monazite via ad sales” somewhere in the business plan – go ahead, I dare you.

On the backs of Google and their transformation of advertising based on keywords and relevance we’ve become lazy. Why deliver real solutions to the problems of consumers when you can just aggregate eyeballs and information? Make something “cool”, something that will “go viral” and “generate buzzzz”. Get people to LOOK, not buy.

Think about it for a second, how different is Facebook from Yahoo circa 1998? Yahoo had tons of users. Yahoo knew a lot about their users based on what they made part of their “portal”. Yahoo sold ads.

I’m not talking about how advertising is evil, I’m not demonizing marketers. I’m asking why we’d have conversations like these: SEO vs. Usability

I’m also not suggesting that if you simply build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door… I’m just suggesting that we should get back to trying to build better mousetraps – and by extension trying to change the world.

TweetsForBoobs – How justSignal Helped Make it Happen

200910090957.jpgReposted from the justSignal Blog (http://justsignal.com)

Sometimes the best way to illustrate how justSignal can accelerate your strategy is by providing concrete examples of how others have accelerated theirs.

TweetsForBoobs is raising money for the Susan G. Komen foundation by encouraging folks to tweet the #tweetsforboobs hash tag on Twitter. It is the brain child of Chase Granberry and Josh Strebel – justSignal (and I for that matter) claim no credit for the idea or it’s successful execution.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did donate justSignal to TweetsForBoobs.

TweetsForBoobs needed four things in order to complete their vision.

  1. A way to capture Tweets about the site and with the hashtag
  2. The ability to put those Tweets on the site in real time.
  3. A way to count how many times a Twitter User used the hashtag.
  4. A way to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

justSignal, because we focus on the complete Social Media Lifecycle, was uniquely suited to get them there – fast.

TweetsForBoobs was able to create a Signal that pulled in the content they were interested in. They were also able to – using our Exclusion Engine – remove spam and re-tweet bots from their Signal.

In order to create an engaging user experience on the site TweetsForBoobs dropped in and customized our real-time Twitter widget.   

Using our API service, TweetsForBoobs was able to pull in all mentions of the hashtag and the site in near real-time. This enabled them to count how many times each user tweeted the hash tag and update the site with current pledge totals.

Finally, TweetsForBoobs wanted to have some information (analysis) that gave them some indication of how the campaign was going. Since every Signal comes with our SignalReports (SignalMeter, SignalDensity and User Activity) they had basic who, when, and how much information.

sm-lifecycle.png

That is execution of the complete Social Media Lifecycle enabled by justSignal.

  1. Signal – Getting the #tweetsforboobs content.
  2. Engagement – Using our Widgets to put the content on the site, and using the API to create site specific information.
  3. Analytics – Using our SignalReports to gauge the effectiveness of the effort.

What makes TweetsForBoobs even more interesting is that they clearly show the benefit of our approach to data and analytics. When Chase wanted to understand the “Reach” of the hashtag he wasn’t confined by the data we provide “out of the box”.

The data is yours, when you have a question we don’t answer – because it is the really, really important kind, those specific to your business, company, product or service – you have access to the entire data set and the unfettered ability to mine out what is important to you.

You can read Chase’s excellent summary of the data and his thoughts on justSignal at the Authority Labs Blog.

What about action?

That is where you come in… head over to TweetsForBoobs or just grab your favorite Twitter client and send a tweet with #tweetsforboobs in it. Every time you do you pledge $1.00 to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Open Push Email

email-broadcast.pngPeople are obsessed with making their email “broadcast”. Push email is a big deal… but sadly it means you have to lock yourself into a single email service from a single provider. You want near real-time push email… Blackberry or Exchange… or you can pretty much forget about it.

So, why can’t we have an open alternative?

There are a multitude of ways to get real time notifications of new emails, and there is no reason for that mechanism to be an integral part of the email solution itself. Given that I set out to make a push email solution for my Google Apps accounts that would effectively notify on my iPhone or any other device.

As it turns out the solution is actually very simple. I created a simple server process that checks my inbox every few seconds and sends me an Instant Message (IM) when I have a new email. I also incorporated sender and subject filters – so you can get notified only for the emails you want.

I could have made it send me a Twitter DM, or an SMS, or plugged it in to PubSubHubBub, or RSS Cloud…

The point is, the actual mechanism for the notification isn’t really all that important…

More after the jump…

Continue reading “Open Push Email”

No @zappos Best Practices Don’t Stifle Innovation…

One of the problems with Twitter is that it encourages trite overly-simplistic statements of fact. Hey, here is one from Tony (@zappos) the CEO of Zappos:

I’m only posting about this because it has been re-tweeted like a bazillion times in the last 3 hours by twitterati proclaiming it’s complete and utter truth. And I’ll grant you, it sounds good… but it isn’t true.

Best practices are a good thing. They let you implement known quantities, limit risk, limit costs and establish a baseline of capability without wasting precious cycle re-inventing the wheel. That doesn’t stifle innovation, it increases margins, lowers costs and saves time.

Can it stifle innovation? Sure, but so can just about anything when you do it wrong. 

The point here is that you have to decide what it is that differentiates your business – those things that are your competitive advantage. That is where you want to invest in innovation. Everyplace else – all those things that don’t differentiate you in the marketplace – are ripe for the application of best practices. 

What stifles innovation is the failure to be cognizant of where you differentiate and the failure to invest in innovation in those areas.

Innovation & Academia? – ASU Startup Weekend

There is a certain pleasure in pointing out how poor a job academic institutions do instilling the kind of innovative/entrepreneurial thinking required in their graduates. But here is the million dollar question:

Beyond pointing at the problem, what exactly are YOU going to do to fix it.

Photo courtesy of lumaxart: http://www.lumaxart.com/
Photo courtesy of lumaxart: http://www.lumaxart.com/

For many the answer is a resounding “not my problem” or “it can’t be fixed”.

You may be a student, member of faculty, a member of “industry”, or just a part of the larger community – regardless of your place in this there are a few things you need to know. Here they are.

First, it is on you. No one is going to do it for you, you can’t wait on someone else to make it happen. If you want more innovative and entrepreneurial thinking from the graduates of your school or your local university you must get involved.

No one gets an opt out. There is no pass that allows the business community to sit back and wait for the Academics to deliver the results. If you do, it will cost you money and time to develop these graduates into what you need.

Students don’t get to sit back and wait on their teachers/professors to make it a required part of the curriculum. The old song “it wasn’t on the syllabus” just won’t cut it.

Professors and teachers can’t wait for standardized tests and acceptable best practices to begin instilling innovation and entrepreneurship into their classrooms. You want your students to be more innovative – innovate!

This isn’t about checking the box. And it certainly isn’t about getting a diploma. That is – frankly – the easy part. Take the right classes, show up every day, take notes, do some occasional studying and you’ll get your diploma. You’ll have checked the box. It isn’t about graduation rates either – and here is why.

Second, it isn’t optional. Innovation and entrepreneurship are not optional. The world has changed. You are not going to graduate and get a job at Intel, work there 30 years and retire with a fat 401k, pension, and health benefits. Odds are you’ll change careers at least 5 times. More than likely you’ll be looking for a new job every 3 years or so. And by the time you are on your 3rd job (about 8 years or so out of college) no one (and I really mean NO ONE) is going to care that you have your diploma – you’ll have to have it, but it won’t make even the smallest difference in weather or not you get or keep the gig. Why? Because anyone can show up and check the box.

I’ve hired a lot of people over my 15 years in business (and technology), and I’ve never said to myself “I’m looking for someone who can check the box.” If what you are selling is showing up every day and checking the box, I’m not interested.

In the last 15 years I’ve seen a transformation – from employees who show up and do the basics being valued to those same employees being “managed out”. They aren’t wanted. We want the employees who are able to see outside the what is and look for what could be. We are looking for the innovators.

In this new world where you are either getting a gig, improving your gig, or getting the next gig you had better understand a thing or two about entrepreneurship. You are your own company – and it will be up to you to run You LLC effectively. Everything from deciding what the product is (what skills are you learning), to choosing the right partnerships (who are my mentors), to selling your product (getting a gig), to maximizing revenues (negotiating salaries) is your responsibility. You are an entrepreneur – like it or not.

This is the environment we are preparing graduates for. This is their reality.

Third, do something – TODAY.

You should be doing something about this every day. Weather you are in the business community, a member of faculty, or a student. You need to ask yourself every single day. How am I preparing myself and helping prepare others for this reality?

I suggest you start here. Go – right now – to the ASU Startup Weekend site. If you are an ASU Student register right now. If you are a member of the business community, volunteer to mentor the student startup teams by emailing Dr. Kevin Gary (kgary at asu.edu). If you are a member of ASU faculty get the flyer and hang it up in your classroom; offer you students extra credit for participating.

I’ll see you there, April 24th and 25th. Come find me and we’ll talk.