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I know what you are saying,  “Mike – you only post updates when you change your job….which seems to be a lot btw.”

I know, and I feel bad. I had a good thing going when I 1st started this blog, and since then it has gone downhill. Little by little I get distracted by everyday life. Between the kids and their sporting schedules, the yard work, vacationing, looking for a new job, landing a new job, starting a new job……..I think that you get the picture .

I was pretty bummed when Zynga shut down the Boston studio, but am not missing the commute by any means. After a short stint at OUYA, managing their Social channels through their retail release, I made the decision to try something new and local. It was just my luck that Autodesk was looking for a Community Engagement manager in their local office (15 minutes away). It was the perfect opportunity, with the perfect company, at the perfect time. After 3 weeks in the office I am still jazzed at the opportunity that is in front of me and am very excited to what the future may bring.

I just wanted to say hi again, and let you all know that I will try to post more often than 2x every 3 years – sorry for the long term vacation fro mteh blog, but I am back, and back for good! Thanks for the follow.

Let hope that this is the last employment update that you will see!

Mike

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When you look at the horizon and see the sun setting, and say, “Wow, that is beautiful”, how do you measure that beauty?

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around, does it make a sound?

I think that we can all agree that it does, right, seems like it is common sense. 

Over the past year or so I have read many blogs and reports stating how important it is for a business to be involved in Social Media and how measurement is the most important aspect of any initiative. I do agree that having the ability to measure the ROI of a campaign is a key component, but some things you can just not measure.

Well the truth of the matter is that not everything can be measured. 

I did want to relate the way that you measure your initiative to the way that a certain credit card company runs their advertising campaign

Just think of Mastercard’s funny marketing campaigns:

Having time on your side…..priceless

Another more powerful display over what I am trying to point out is this great scene from the movie “Goodwill Hunting”:

Ok, I understand that many may find faults in my way of thinking and will quote reports which may go against what my thoughts are here. When it comes down to it, yes, it is about measurement and making $ for the business, but there are also things that happen that can not be measured based on your campaign.

When it comes down to it, some things (sometimes the most important things) can not be measured, and some things also fall into a “Common sense” category as well.

* Many thanks to Aaron Strout for assistance on this blog post

 I am pretty excited to be running a session at this years SXSW  Conference with Jim Storer, Mark Wallace and Heather Strout. The session is titled “Lurkers: Your most important Community Members”. This session is going to be very valuable for many different reasons:

  1. The panel members have significant experience in managing, moderating, strategizing and marketing of online communities
  2. The topic is one that is not heavily discussed, but it one of importance within any online community
  3. We will be discussing everything from measurement, engagement and strategies in how to accomplish your community goals

That is by no means an all-inclusive list of topics and points that we will cover, as with the experience that we have on the panel, you never know where the discussion may lead.

Please join us on Saturday at 5pm at SXSW this year for our panel. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in advance, and we will do our best to address them during the session.

Mark has already written a blog post concerning lurkers on his blog – http://commonground.edrnet.com/posts/0490906d9a so please check him out as well. I look forward to the discussion and meeting you all at SXSW this year.

Back in the day, you could run your business the way that you wanted to with little to no interruption from anything or anyone. Everyday you could get up, go to work, and status quo would rule your day. Or at least that seems to be the perception from what I have heard and observed from the “Walk-both-ways-uphill-in-driving-snow-to-school” generation.

As we all know, times have changed, and that way of running your business gets you into serious trouble. Customer’s now have the ability to voice their opinion in open forums where millions and millions of people can read their thoughts. The playing field has been leveled and businesses no longer have the control that they have held on to for many, many years. Those that have adopted new communication strategies and have engaged with their audience are surviving the current storm, while those who have rejected this communication change as a passing fad have come to pass.

Customers have the ability to really jump-start your business and get it back on track. If your employees seem to be struggling with what they should be doing, or where their next project to come from, they should look no further than what is happening online – both what is being said about your business as well as what is being said about your competition. There is so much information at your immediate disposal; so many great ideas that you can harness….it really is a great resource. I have also heard of some businesses offering their employees “free-time” during their work week in order to think of new ideas and ways to improve the current state of their company. What a great idea.

The Fountain of Success

Please drink up!

Ok, I had to share this. I tweeted a couple of times over the last week referring to this story, but wanted to go into more depth here.

Twitter is a great tool for people and businesses; I think that everyone will agree with that. It is also a great tool for local businesses, if used effectively, and I wanted to share this story with you.

Early last week I was traveling to Calgary, Canada from Boston via Dallas,( please don’t ask, it’s a long story). While in flight from Dallas to Calgary American Airlines offered Gogo in-flight wireless internet service so I decided to pay the $10 to have it for the 3+ hour flight. For those of you that have not traveled with internet access on your flight, I compare it to JetBlue and having TV at your seat, yes, it is that good and I don’t know how I could have ever lived without either, anyway…..

On my way North, while traveling over Yellowstone I sent the following tweets:

What was really cool was that within a half hour, the account @Morningglorycof replied to my tweet:

I replied with “ I wish that they delivered” with a smile and then that was that, or so I thought.

Or Friday, I ran across this tweet:

It was really nice of them to do this, as I have never met this person and we had only exchanged a handful of tweets. I also decided to follow them back just in case I was ever in Montana. But the story does not end there.

On Friday we had friends that were going to Canobie Lake Park  up here in Salem NH. It is basically 6 Flags (www.sixflags.com), but on a much smaller scale (maybe 10% of 6 Flags). Anyway, we let our kids go during the day with our friends and met then at 5:30. Upon arrival at Canobie, I checked in on FourSquare and posted it to my Twitter account. Within a few minutes I received this tweet:

Is that a small world or what? Talk about chance encounters. I am sure that they also had a flood of memories outside of the one that they posted.

So with this post I wanted to bring about your Twitter stories. What are the “chance encounters” that you have heard of or actually been a part of? Please share.

On May 11th, Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33), Boston Sports writer and ESPN page 2 ‘The Sports Guys World creator, created a new Twitter account, @celticschants. The account was set up for sports fans (mostly Boston Celtics fans or anyone that was against Cleveland) to discuss potential chants for when players were fouled and stepping up to the free throw line. If you have watched basketball before, you know how fans can be with chants, and waving things. And as much as I hate to give credit to Duke, their fans are the most obnoxious.

Last night, while I was watching TV, I heard the chant of “New York Knicks” when Labron James stepped to the free throw line. Each and every time. It was loud. Even the announcers were talking about it. Now he did not miss all of his free-throws, and he did have a triple-double, he did go 9-12 from the line, missing 3 attempts. Being a .742 career shooter from the free-throw line, he was right on par. But who is to say that he would have missed those if the fans were not chanting?

Anyway, I like that this “grass-roots” idea came about, was promoted and discussed and took flight. It really goes to show how Social Media can be taken off-line. What are your thoughts? Did you watch the game, or have you seen this type of execution recently?

When I heard about Four Square day  last week, on 4/16, I got a little excited. I had thought that it was a great idea. I found that one of the cities around me (Manchester, NH)  was participating in the day. I looked at the local sponsors and tried to figure out how I could participate, given the fact that they were “passing out” a special badge to those who participated, I could not pass that up.

After looking at the Four Square day website I noticed that there were not many locations participating. I then went to the Facebook Manchester page and noticed that there were other places that were participating that were not advertised on the Four Square official page. Hmmmm, why not? Was this because Four Square did not promote this that heavily? Was it because the agency that was running the Facebook page did not upload the events into the Four Square Day page?

I am sure that the event was a success and got the word about to local businesses that were either unknowing of Four Square or unsure of what the benefits would be. 

The promotion in my eyes seemed rushed. There did not seem to be much promotion over the event in general, a centralized location to find businesses that were participating, or a straightforward way to participate, from a business or end user standpoint. Maybe I am being a little harsh, but, as many others I really see the benefits that this application/tool has for local businesses.

For those of you who participated, what are your thoughts? Did you find it easy, or do you think that it could have been organized better?

ps. For some reason when I logged into the location in the area that was sponsoring, I did not receive the badge. I am not bitter by any means, am unsure why I did not get it, but still think that it could have been better organized.

In the current state of the economy, it is no longer about simply reaching out to your audience and hoping that they purchase your product – keeping your fingers crossed that they will become a “fan” of you. It is now about creating, building and extending relationships with your audience. Whether they are direct consumers, partners or employees – it does not make a difference. Your company is at the center of all of these relationships. Businesses need to understand the importance of these relationships and how the “little things” can make a big difference.

Note: I am married and have always been told that it is the little things that make a big difference, and I am also still trying to grasp this concept

Case-in-point – FourSquare

from the nydailynews.com

If you are not familiar with FourSquare, it is a location-based application for your phone where you can “log-in” to places that you visit. You can “friend” other people and you can also gain badges for certain activities – visiting and logging in to 5 different Starbucks for example will get you a Starbucks badge – but more on that later. You can also become what they call the “Mayor” of these locations, meaning that you have visited that specific area and have logged in more than anyone else. There is definitely a gaming component to FourSquare as you can try to gather as many badges as possible, and take the Mayor-ship from others who you may, or may not, know – which makes it a lot of fun.

Now there are other things to think about when leveraging Foursquare, including who you friend and where you post your status updates, but that is not what this post is about, it is about how a Business can create, build and extend the relationships with its audience and embrace new ways to communicate.

When I got into work today, I opened Twitter up to see what was going on. After about 10 minutes, I saw this post from a former colleague, good friend, and Social Media (I hate to say this but insert a descriptive here – guru, all-star, rock-star, evangelist……) Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout ):

local @Starbucks celebrated wife, @MelanieStrout’s @FourSquare mayorship w/ this sign & free gift bag. Nice! http://tweetphoto.com/17496680

FourSquare Mayorship

Welcome to Starbucks Mayor Melanie

Now can you imagine walking into your local Starbucks, and seeing that sign? Also, it was one thing for them to create the sign and to have their employees sign the banner, but it was another thing to put together a Gift Bag for her – likely related to her favorite drink, like one of those insulated plastic cups that they have (just a guess here).

I think that they key thing to think about is that this type of public recognition does not have to take part on a platform or technology like FourSquare – but it does need to happen in some way, shape or form to your customers, partners and employees in order to survive in this ever changing evolution of Social engagement. This is also another way to take online interactions and take them off-line, in the real world.

By the way, added benefits of their gesture – a Twitter post that easily reached tens of thousands of people instantly, and also encouraged this blog post.

Starbucks is a great example of a business that is embracing Social Media, between their FourSquare presence/partnership and the My Starbucks Idea that they have launched and continue to monitor, they are building their relationships and creating customers for life.

Have you seen other examples of this, and if you have, how has it changed your perception?

Employment

I am currently employed at Autodesk as a Senior Manager of Online Community and Social Engagement. My team is responsible for the Customer Support initiatives across all of our Social channels.

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