Why I Love Twitter and Became ProBlogger/YouTube Famous

Last month, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net asked his Twitter followers — that includes me — why they loved Twitter. He took those responses and turned them into a video slideshow on YouTube enhanced with a rocking instrumental track.

Check me out around 4:03 AND AGAIN at 4:17. Yeah, that’s right — twice. Don’t worry. I’ll sign autographs at the end of this post. I just couldn’t capture my thoughts in 140 characters.

While most people highlighted Twitter’s ability to create a virtual water cooler or bring a bit of social to the desktop of those who work solo at home, my response was simply this:

I love twitter b/c it keeps me up to date on the latest happenings and makes it easy to share interesting finds.

Before going a little deeper to say…

Most people I talk to are outside of the contacts I have in real life, so I get exposed to things I may not have seen otherwise.

To expand on what I twittered — see, I told you I couldn’t keep it to 140 characters — Twitter has thus far been my forum for geeking out and releasing my blogosphere-hugging link monkey. It satisfies my fear of missing something by allowing me to listen in and respond to the conversations of hundreds of individuals that I admire/watch/read but never meet for coffee.

The real value in Twitter for me is being able to listen in on the thoughts of like-minded Internet junkies. It’s like being a talking fly on the wall in a Web 2.0 startup or a major blog. I find things on Twitter that I wouldn’t catch anywhere else, and I follow others who have interesting things to say even if I can’t keep their blog in my RSS reader due to the overload.

Twitter is also my release for early-adopter-itis. Despite what the walking-two-miles-in-the-snow, non-Internet types might believe, friends from my own generation have not completely jumped aboard the twit-train or the Internet. While Facebook has gone mainstream, I am, for the most part, alone among my off-line friends in my Twitter usage and social network-aholism. I often explain Internet memes to friends and co-workers, but in Twitter, I get to join a cloud of people that know what’s up online. Is Twitter the Cheers bar of the Internet future?

I haven’t gotten the return value of a Scoble just yet due to the “friend divide” that Scoble defined. My growing army of followers don’t yield the huge number of responses that a ProBlogger can amount, but regardless, I have found value in Twitter because the people I follow keep me in the loop and make me, as Scoble said, “smarter, richer, cooler, and funnier” — and better looking.

Pluckers built reputation on personal service

There’s a wing joint that dominates the city of Austin and has started its migration across Texas. Started by two former University of Texas students, Pluckers has become the name that defines Buffalo wings in the state capital.

The chain was recently featured in The Alcalde [Note that the article on Pluckers is not available online], alumni magazine of the University of Texas.

According to The Alcalde, the idea to create a late-night wing delivery restaurant came to the two founders when they were up late one night in the dorms, but they didn’t put it together until they graduated. Contrary to what they had imagined, they spent most of their first months in the kitchen rather than spending their days shaking hands and chatting up customers inside the restaurant. Always putting service before everything else, the founders would personally deliver corrected orders and apologize if a mistake was made.

On a recent visit to Pluckers, some friends asked if one of the TVs could be tuned into the UT men’s basketball game. Unable to locate it on the satellite programming, a Pluckers employee brought out his laptop and placed it on their table so that they could watch the game while they ate. Pretty nice service if you asked me.

Each store has it’s own motif of college sports memorabilia, but to keep it up to date, Pluckers also has policy of updating a store every 5 years to keep it fresh and keep the TVs top-of-the-line for sports fans.

The greatest link that established Pluckers as the dominant force it has become is its incredibly close tie to all UT Austin’s sporting events. Pluckers hosts events at each location and gives out coupons for free wings after almost every UT sporting event.

With this motto of service, Pluckers has put itself on top.

I am a slave to my Google Reader–efficiency is simple ignorance

It started as such an innocent tool. In my love of Gmail, I stumbled upon the powerful Google Reader (reader.google.com) and begin to fill it with RSS feeds from my favorite Web destinations. Instantly, my reader became the fastest way to skim through the gaming blogs, tech news and business musings of the talking heads of Internet.

I’d say I had a good six weeks or so where the RSS feeds made me more productive. I didn’t have to surf the Internet because I had it delivered to me–right there within Google’s little window. As I sorted through my feeds–keyboard shortcuts and all–I would star posts that were noteworthy or that I wanted to blog. I could also send posts to friends that I found helpful and pass along funny quotes.

The sinister force that was the RSS master emerged when I started to expand my tastes. I would stumble upon a particular site or one post from a blog and find it interesting, and there it went into my reader. After awhile, I had to go in and reorganize my feeds. I had too many loose, uncategorized ones, but after a quick shuffle, my RSS heaven was back to the organized filing system I had created.

One weekend, somehow in my techy ignorance I left the computer. That’s right. For 48 hours, I stepped away from the digital world. When I returned to it Monday morning, the Gremlins had owned my system.

My unread posts counter read (1000+). Uh oh.

For the next three weeks, I tried to catch back up and manage, but for the non-Scoble, you just can’t handle following that many bloggers. In fact, you never get a chance to blog a post yourself if you spend your entire day reading what 100+ others have said in the last day.

I was a slave to the RSS reader everyday. I loathed leaving it with 100+ unread posts. I was becoming a Google addict. It became an impossible task, so I had to step out and selectively nuke my system.

I devised a way of removing blogs that no longer needed to be followed. If it updated too frequently with information that I didn’t cherish everyday, it was gone. If two blogs covered similar topics, I made myself choose the one that covered the topic more completely or that was more worthwhile for me to read as a fellow blogger. If given the choice between a blog that posted 30 times a day, and one that posted once or twice a week with the same basic info, I went with the less frequent, more complete option.

I went simple. I became ignorant to what 50+ or so bloggers were writing about, but I got my life back–my life outside of RSS. It was entirely necessary, and I tell you now: Ignorance is bliss.

You can’t follow 1000+ blogs and still exist outside of the online world. Keep that in mind before you start getting crazy with the RSS subscribe button.

Is Community Management the future of marketing?

There’s a reason that I want to integrate a role as a community manager into my normal public relations duties. As more and more marketers profess the equal ground that social networks create between marketers and consumers, marketers have to redefine themselves.

Jeremiah Owyang answered his own question on how marketers could stay relevant in a recent post.

Question: Many consumers loathe marketers, now consumers can bypass marketers with social media tools, the power has shifted to the participants, how do marketers stay relevant?

Answer: Marketers must participate, or let consumers participate on their behalf, it’s a new world.

The best way to participate is to become what is today defined as a community manager.

Just like Larry Hryb became the face of Microsoft’s Xbox as Major Nelson and Frank O’Connor became a “Content Monkey” for Bungie, community managers have taken on the role of passing information to the community and letting the community do what they will.

This model works best with brands where a large fan base already exists on the Web. It’s not as strict and defined a communication format as traditional public relations, but it is one that more consumers and fans appreciate.

Community managers produce original content and writing for the community rather than issuing press releases directly to the press. They overcome a greater challenge in establishing a relationship of trust with the consumers since they are affiliated directly with the company they represent, but those marketers that pass on a consistently honest message to the consumer reap the reward of developing a brand community out of their marketing efforts.

By bypassing the media, niche brands can also see rewards. Even though they may be too small for industry journalists to take note, they can develop a cult following through their own blogging and community development.

This passive marketing of the future puts the community managers on equal ground with consumers and allows them to interact and participate in a meaningful way. It will be the most effective marketing communication method in the future, so it would benefit every PR practitioner to integrate community management into normal PR functions in order to stay relevant.

Monitoring the Web: Where in the Google are you?

I’ll take your Seth Godin, and I’ll raise you one.

I suggest a tip I got a long while back from Scott Ginsberg, “The Nametag Guy,” about tracking your presence on the Web:

Set up a Google Alert for your name.

Really, go do it now.

By setting up a Google Alert for your name, you can easily keep track of when you are being discussed on the Internet and how extensive your Web presence becomes. Your alerts are handy for connecting you with people that discuss you on the Web. Hopefully, it’s all positive info, and you can enjoy increased alerts as you expand your interaction through the Google world, blogging and social networks.

Without my Google Alerts, I would never know how many different locations I can find to buy books written by the Jewish author of same name. That’s an added bonus.

Of course, for you college crazies, a Google Alert can also help you combat negative press out there. Didn’t know those Flickr pictures you tagged of yourself showed up on Google when someone searched for your name? Well, now you do, and you can go take care of untagging and removing the things better kept private when you apply for a job.

It’s a good idea to set up a Google Alert just so you are aware of what your potential employers will find when they type in your name and punch the dreaded “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. You don’t want it to be your Xanga from 1994 where you ranted on how much you hated your homeroom teacher, do you?

Why do all successful people have to be assholes?

Note: I apologize if the word “asshole” offends you, but for the purpose of this post, I am going to have to use the word quite a bit. Earmuffs please.

I got into a little debate over at On Moneymaking tonight about whether you have to be an asshole to be successful. Jon’s post there suggests that you should accept becoming an asshole if you want to be successful in life.

I know about a dozen people that make over $1 million per year, and I’d imagine all of them are called assholes on a regular basis. The two seem to go hand in hand, and I think there are reasons why.

Extreme Success Requires Extreme Focus

Jon goes on to note that focus requires giving “all of your attention and ignoring everything else” and comments on a pattern for wealthy, successful people that I don’t quite find to be true.

Frequently, they’ll:

  • Leave behind a trail of broken marriages and forgotten children
  • Lose the life savings of their friends and relatives on an ingenious but doomed business
  • Refuse to lend anyone money or give to charity
  • Avoid unnecessary expenses to the point of miserliness
  • Treat everyone that can’t help them as if they’re expendable

In the end, Jon implies that all successful people are assholes in some capacity, and you should be willing to be called an asshole to be successful.

Frankly, I just don’t agree with his suggestion. Even if you put your all into your work and some call you a “workaholic,” true character is what shines through and labels someone an asshole. I don’t think that many people legitimately label you an asshole just because of your wealth or success, and the few that do should be proven wrong by seeing your actions and character.

James Chartrand of Web Content Writer Tips and I went through several exchanges in the comments before finally coming to the realization that we actually agree. You can follow our long exchange in the comments.

James and I both agreed that you don’t need to be an asshole to be successful, and although you may run the risk of being called one, you don’t have to act like one to be a success.

From James:

Do people need to be assholes to be successful? No. But they do need to be focused and have drive and determination. They need to put themselves out there – and risk being seen as assholes.

The basic gist of my argument is simply this:

I don’t think that to be successful, you need to give up not being considered an asshole. Yes, stop obsessing about what others think, but don’t let that also lead you to fall into a philosophy of accepting your asshole-ism.

There’s a large difference between being an asshole and being successful, and I hope that many of the future moguls of America don’t take his advice to become miserable people because they think being an asshole is the only road to success.

On a minor note, Jon starts off using these examples as asshole successes:

What do Simon Cowell, Steve Jobs, Dr. House, Bill Belichick, and Donald Trump have in common?

Eliminating Dr. House because he’s not real, I had to argue that Bill Belichick while quiet, internal and often misunderstood by the press is no asshole. As for Steve Jobs, when did taking a $1 annual salary and refusing bonuses when coming back to save the company that you founded make you an asshole? I must have missed something with those examples.

My example of a very non-asshole success: Bill Gates. He is retiring to a life of philanthropy, has a successful marriage with children and I doubt he ever lived miserly during his rise in business. The only hit you have on him is running off with the idea for Windows, but can you blame him?

Book Review: Game Over: Press Start to Continue shows what Nintendo taught Microsoft

In what can only be described as the fulfillment of my winter break spiral towards greater levels of nerd-dom, I spent my free time reading Game Over: Press Start to Continue: The Maturing of Mario by David Sheff with some new chapters contributed by Andy Eddy.

Sheff and Eddy’s narrative works both as a fan service and informative business manual. The evolution of Nintendo from a hanafuda card producer to the international leader of the electronic entertainment industry is fascinating–more because of the gradual transition the company takes from traditional business practices to innovating, aggressive tactics than for all the gaming nerd facts. In all truthfulness, I enjoyed the gaming nerd facts as well though.

Shrewd decision-making and almost omniscient planning got Nintendo to the top of the entertainment world, and depending upon what console fanboyism you believe, Nintendo still retains a large market share–especially post-Wii launch–in the gaming and entertainment industry.

The Japanese leadership of Nintendo, led by the third president of the company Hiroshi Yamauchi, made such extensive plans during the early years and development that plans never had to drastically change throughout their rise to domination during the 1990s. The initial plan was so good that Microsoft may have even borrowed from it with their launch of the Xbox.

Back when Nintendo first launched the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the United States, Yamauchi had a dream of integrating an Internet connection (dial-up at the time) to provide a network for its users. This network, Yamauchi thought, would increase their install base and provide greater applications for their console.

Nintendo established a network in Japan allowing stock market access and banking, but due to protests against Nintendo including a lottery service that could fall into the hands of minors, Nintendo never launched its grand network in the U.S. In fact, they practically gave up the idea completely because Nintendo never attempted to integrate a network into a console until their latest offering–the Wii–even though it was part of Yamauchi’s original business plan for the NES. Some say that Minoru Arakawa, Yamauchi’s son-in-law who ran Nintendo of America, never fully accepted the dream.

“By the end of 1992, it appeared that Nintendo would miss out on the enormous opportunity. If it did, the reason would be a lack of vision and commitment to it. Jerry Ruttenbur said the network never flew because Minoru Arakawa didn’t support it in spite of a sound business plan and projections of huge profits. ‘It was Yamouchi’s dream, not Arakawa’s,’ Ruttenbur said. ‘Arakawa never bought into it.'” (Game Over, pg. 397-8)

With the Xbox, one of the crucial selling points at launch was Xbox Live, the premium service that allows all Xbox gamers to connect, compete and share online. Microsoft had both better timing and a greater extent of networking experience when they entered the market, but the fact that their plan was so similar to Nintendo’s original for the NES makes me wonder whether Bill Gates read Game Over.

For more on the history of the industry, read Game Over or check out Play Value, a podcast from ONnetworks that covers the rise of Nintendo and the entertainment industry.

Why I thought Heath Ledger wasn’t really dead: viral marketing theories and epiphanies

When I heard the news that Heath Ledger was found dead yesterday, I couldn’t help being a little skeptical. Not to be disrespectful of the dead, but I thought in the first minutes of the reports that it might all be a clever ruse by a very risky marketing team.

Let me take you back in my experience leading up to his death.

I had been researching the viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight in preparation of doing a post about the numerous things they were doing right to get fans involved. Not having even participated in any of the ARG–or alternate reality game–action, I was still excited to read about all of the various games put together for fans of the movie.

The campaign is being done by famed 42 Entertainment, known for the Halo 2 ARG ILoveBees. It has created a deep reality spanning both the Web and real world for the fans. You can read all about the various elements of the viral marketing efforts in the “Marketing” section of the Wikipedia entry for The Dark Knight.

Recently, clues from the viral marketing campaign led fans to various bakeries in cities around the country where they received cakes containing hidden evidence bags with a real cell phone inside. After following the given instructions and calling a phone number from the cake, fans were left waiting for the Joker to call.

The second factor in my skepticism came from a podcast by Revision3 called The Totally Rad Show. In a recent episode, co-host Alex Albrecht mentioned how he felt Christopher Nolan was really taking up the idea that the Joker was “undead” since he is killed before coming back to life as one of Batman’s greatest villains. Many reports online were citing the many surprises awaiting moviegoers in Nolan’s imagining of the Joker.

Now that we are up to speed, enter the news of Heath Ledger dying just weeks later. The idea crept into my head that this news might be part of the campaign as well.

Obviously, this theory was blown out of the water after numerous official, confirmed reports of Ledger’s body being found and the reactions of his family. For those few minutes before more information was known, I theorized that 42 Entertainment might have blown the ARG open.

Can you imagine how insane that level of depth and immersion would have been? People were rushing to CNN.com to see the breaking news headline that Heath Ledger was found unresponsive and possibly dead. In that moment, what if, as the Joker himself says, “It’s all part of the plan.”

Of course, they would have had to retract the staged death quickly and made sure that the correct information was known. It would have been controversial.

If Ledger had prepped his family and close friends for the news and the ARG team was ready to go with the next stage–a Joker call from the beyond perhaps–that would have been an epic ARG event. If they had staged the faking of his death in a few months, just before the movie’s release, the stunt might have made a huge impact with fans and the mainstream public as well without breaking fans out of the ARG state of mind.

Despite how impossible it seems, part of me almost wishes that this theory was the truth. We wouldn’t have lost a talented actor so young in his career, and the move would have completely blown any ARG to date out of the water by bringing participants down to reality with the idea of death before pulling them deeper back to the game with the reveal.

What a great way to re-introduce the character of the Joker for longtime fans looking for new life in the Batman saga. It would have been interesting.

I am a passionate worker, not a workaholic

I work two jobs. My first job is a day job that pays me enough to be full-time where I get to practice public relations, and my second job is blogging on my three current sites, ugachaka.net, Fantasy Football Fools and here at wannabeMogul.com, which doesn’t exactly pay me full-time but one can always dream.

Both jobs allow me to exercise my passions. Blogging lets me explore my passion for writing, sharing and interacting while experimenting with online marketing. Working in public relations helps me grow my PR, networking and business skills. In both of these roles, I have fun.

After reading what Seth had to say today about workaholics and passionate workers, I think it’s safe to say that I am a passionate worker but NOT a workaholic.

The passionate worker doesn’t show up because she’s afraid of getting in trouble, she shows up because it’s a hobby that pays. The passionate worker is busy blogging on vacation… because posting that thought and seeing the feedback it generates is actually more fun than sitting on the beach for another hour. The passionate worker tweaks a site design after dinner because, hey, it’s a lot more fun than watching TV.

I come home from one job to jump into the next because it IS a lot more fun than watching TV. Maybe more post-college workers will start to be this kind of workaholic now that the Internet allows you to easily enjoy a two-job lifestyle.

The best advice I can give to any college grad is to look for a job that you are passionate about. If you can, at least when your friends acuse you of being a workaholic, you can tell them that you are just a passionate worker.

Welcome Business Pundit readers!

A guest post I wrote for Business Pundit this week went live today. I have to thank Rob for presenting me to a new audience of business moguls and young leaders. If you haven’t seen the post, check it out and become a regular of Business Pundit like me. The post discusses a new breed of employee that may or may not define the generations coming out of college today. I hope you enjoy it.

For those of you here for the first time, consider subscribing to my RSS feed and perusing the recent posts. Here’s a few you might find of interest: