Trends in Tech for 2014

Video Messaging
FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Snapchat – video chatting has taken us by storm. How do people naturally communicate? How do we prefer to “kill time”? Chatting, and video is so much more fun than text!

Music Videos
Did MTV kill the radio star? Mp3s have still owned the Internet “airwaves” for two decades since, but with music reality shows on dominating the networks and aspiring artists on Youtube, Beyonces all video album may be expected for every artist.

Twitter Visuals
To compete in this visual world with a social network that is literally a “book of faces” and others that promise real motion snippets, the tiny text platform is looking to step up its game with photos and video tech. And now it has the money for the talent. #Programmers wanted 4 @Twitter.

Netflix Rebound
After Blockbuster crumpled under the Netflix rise, they tried to quickly add their own mail service to save it. As Amazon Prime and Hulu began competing seriously in streaming video, it Netflix stock fell. But unlike Blockbuster, Netflix innovated beyond its competitors by putting out their own programs. Programs that are now competing with tv networks!

Square Everywhere
While I’m waiting with breath that’s baited for a Square IPO, I can’t see banks or credit card companies sitting quietly by while options like PayPal and besieged Bitcoin change online finance. Already mobile check deposits are ubiquitous, I suspect other mobile payment is next.

Wifi As a Right
Speaking of which, funny but not funny, was a meme of a tree saying “If Trees gave off wifi, I suspect we’d plant those everywhere. Too bad trees only give oxygen.” The point? Where there is demand there will be innovation. Not only will “free wifi” be everywhere, but telecomm companies will be making money off unlimited data instead of outdated call time plans.

3D Printers
Easy Bake Oven good bye. Barbie computer games move over. GenY, your four to fourteen year old will be building her own Barbies with 3D printing. Thinking of getting your mom a Keurig for Christmas? How about a 3D printer so she can make her own customized cups? Hello new Etsy commerce!

Facebook Mobile
Now listed on the S&P 500 and still the highest profits for a social network, I’m holding my Facebook stock and betting on new innovations in mobile. Like the first site he threw up, Zuckerberg knows launching is everything. Already video innovations has added Vine-like experience with Facebook mobile.

Tesla Batteries
Uh, cool. GenZ has hippie Baby Boomers to thank for creating the Eco/sustainability culture Millennials are now stepping into. Add in the geek-is-chic and hipster cool, and voila, Tesla gets what GM doesn’t about Millennials. We want cool things that “do things”, but take away the consumptive guilt from the wasteful world we grew up in.

Scrolling Websites
Ok, so every website is going to Drupral, and pretty pictures, and scrolling instead of hateful page flipping, making sites mobile friendly, and ADD friendly. But whats next in site innovation? Probably sites more like Pinterest and Buzzfeed where pictures and silly phrases constantly pull your attention to another story.

Zipcar to Smartcar
A spirited debate between my Startup Grind team and Gary Shapiro one night brought us to the future of transportation. Does the Millennial trend towards shared use cars mean the end of ownership? Absolutely not. Millennials are delaying having families so they stay in metro areas where Zipcar, Uber and Car2Go flourish, but we grew up with cars. We will be raising our kids in cars, just better, faster, smarter cars. Millennials are the info generation. Your cars have to be truly innovative – the hype is hollow. And car sharing? There’s a reason you avoid touching the metro handrail.

Wearable Tech
I have to give a nod to this obvious trend. I can barely go to a happy hour in DC without seeing someone wearing Google Glasses – it’s like the LV bag for the tech scene. Add in the watch rings lighting up the Internet and the Instagram gloves flying off the shelves, obviously we want what we wear to sync with our tech. Technology gives us enhanced and new senses, somewhat in the way our clothes keep us warm and protected. Wearable tech will catch on with every generation because its so “natural” to humans.

Three Longterm Trends

Death of the Written Word
I know, [sadface]. Written word has only been around for my Irish Norwegian lines for about a thousand years. Guess how people passed information before that? Similar to how news anchors, teachers and bosses do – they talked to each other! They also drew pictures. Now we have computers and video to capture us communicating the way we did it for the 200,000 years prior: Yea, talking!

Smart Homes
I asked Gary Shapiro who’s house was cooler – his or Steve Jobs? While the question was a little late in timing, he did talk about his preprogrammed home, filled with awesome automation. Smart cars are already on the market, and homes were “smarter” even in my childhood, with security systems, central vacuums and sound systems. I walk in the door at 7 and Apple’s holo projector starts showing a Netlfix episode on my wall while my Facebook friends list scrolls on left letting me know who else is watching as my microwave beeps with the dinner I voice activated during my ride home? Um, yes.

Americans Inventions
I believe the economic crisis and the popular media have scared Millennials and GenZ enough that STEM majors are taking over. Working for an honor society for college students, I can see the trends in majors that “guarantee good jobs”, like accounting, health care, engineering and science. And for those not “using their degrees”? Companies like General Assembly are filling in the education gaps for programming and design. As for China? I’ve been there, and while they are moving, I believe in America’s competitive edge in a creative culture of innovation.

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Where Does Trust Fall in the Four Ps of Marketing?

Protesters raise their open palms showing the word "No" during an anti-bailout rally in Nicosia

I’ve finally dribbled through “Buffet: The Marketing of an American Capitalist”, and ironically, the most thought-altering thing I’ve learned has not been directly about investing. It was the  value proposition in trust.

Warren Buffet made a mistake investing in a well known firm, Salomon Partners. The firm had had a great run, becoming the one of the exclusive Treasury trading partners and competing with the likes of Meryl Lynch, when one bad apple spoiled the barrel. The trader in charge of bidding on Treasury bonds successfully cornered the market by making illegal bids, some in the names of Salomon’s customers. John Gutfriend, the much feared CEO at the time, had neglected to disclose the illegal activity to the Fed.

he-worked-his-way-up-and-was-made-a-partner-at-salomon-brothers-in-1972Once discovered, the case blew up, and as trust in Salomon disappeared down a sink hole, and customers dried up. Investment banking is an industry built almost entirely in trust. Companies trusted Salomon to pull together investors and provide capital. Clients trusted Salomon to obtain the securities they desired at the best price. Salomon would have gone under right away if Warren Buffet hadn’t stepped in to infuse the firm with what it had lost: Trust.

Trust is stronger than faith: It’s built from experience. Trust is knowing your doubles partner will hit that perfect serve in the lefthand corner every time. Trust is knowing the phonecall to your mom or dad will always reveal the answer. Trust is opening the fridge knowing your roommate didn’t finish off your beer. Trust in China is knowing those Korean noodles are clean and safe to eat. Trust is that brilliant coworker that always solves the problem.

hypocrisy-superman-dupont-reducedA brand is an insurance seal on your favorite product, the Brooks Brother’s shirts that don’t shrink, the bottle of Tide that never fades your sundresses, the Teflon coated pans that eggs fall smoothly off of. In the Four Ps of marketing, branding falls both in product and promotion. Tony the Tiger promised the same sugary goodness every morning, in the same way Batman promised the same daring rescue at the end of each 30 minutes – with commercials – program.

bank-run

Building trust for a brand means can mean providing awesome customer service, every time, like Zappos. It can be a slow process, taking years like the bakery next door. Trust can come from a base of brand advocates, as Salesforce used at nationwide conferences. You can build off trust in another brand, as Facebook built its user base off college brands. A brand can also be inextricably tied to a trust in a single person, as Apple was with Jobs or Berkshire is with Buffet.

For social media, your followers trust your personal brand to deliver similar content, in a consistent voice. It’s said to gain followers 90% of your tweets should not defer from your “brand”. Different networks offer consistent types of content: Pinterest has beautiful travel photos and recipes; Instagram offers angles on views you missed and styles that will make you cooler; Spotify always has different bands and playlists with artists you forgot about. Even Google Plus has found a following with gamers and other subsets that want to talk all day, every day about some obscure topic.

So what’s the value of trust? Procter and Gamble once calculated a lifelong Kleenex customer as being worth $600. Today P&G deals with Tide thieves who retail stolen bottles for half the price, so coveted is the brand that promises to make Kmart jumpers smell as special as Crewcuts. Trust lost can destroy a politician’s career, a marriage, a brokerage firm, an imported brand, a livestock industry.

rfd-tide-sfSpan

Maybe the true value of trust can be measured in time: the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, decades you spent experiencing the same mouthfuls of frosted flakes, loads of laundry, fried eggs, crisp shirts and restful nights knowing your money was safe in the bank.

8 Reasons GenZ is Kicking GenY’s Bieber at Social Mediaing

As a marketing manager overseeing over 300 Facebook pages with an audience of 17-23 year olds, there is one thing that keeps me up at night: What if Facebook disappeared?
I’m sleeping easier after Social Media Week, where a poll done of AU and GWU students by the American University Social Media Club, and Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs, both independently confirmed to this bleary-eyed community manager that Facebook isn’t going anywhere. In fact, most believe Zuckerberg and my generation are going to live a nice happy life growing old together.

justin-bieber-ashton-kutcher-lead

So why should I still be worried? While my organization’s current student members and alumni, 17 to 30-something will stay by my side as we marry, produce little super Millennials and commit to real estate, the up-and-comers, current high school students to little iPad owners won’t be joining us. And I’m jealous of why.

Researchers in digital think it’s parents who are “scaring” kids away from Facebook. In fact, it’s just that kids today are so much better at social networking than GenY. Teenagers today don’t need a social “network”, but merely social media to interact with their personal networks and consume information.

1. Teens don’t need computers to IM
They can text, use messaging apps, Gchat, call, or tweet at their friends. They love video conversations, which is a more real way of interacting because you get facial and vocal expressions.

2. Mobile apps replace giant social networks
Apps like WhatsUpApp let kids create mini-social networks that are just their group of friends. GoogleGroups is better than Facebook Groups for organizing clubs because you get email on your phone instead of having to log-in.

3. GenZ is obsessed with music
They follow celebrities on Twitter, Youtube and gossip blogs, and even returned to MySpace for music. Youtube and Pandora are great for free music, but they will join Facebook just to be on Spotify. Best of all, Youtube lets them make and share their own music, and iTunes will let aspiring Demi Lovato’s sell their own mp3s.

4. All teens aspire to reality tv
Inundated with reality tv and able to access a web that supershoots nobodies to stardom, their role models range from the Biebs who broke out via Youtube videos to Kim Kardashian, known for doing nothing. Every iPhone’s video camera is a viral video or a musical moment waiting to happen. The paparazzi culture has made celebfans like “#lovatos” and wannabiebs, and Twitter lets them hear the real thoughts of these stars instantly, like they were friends in real life.

5. If there’s no pic, it didn’t happen
They love taking pictures of themselves and everything they see, whether with their mobile computers, on Instagram or with oldschool professional cameras. The web has become a scrapbook for all those #memories and a place to showcase their obvious talents.

6. “You have a voice” => I’m an expert
With all the web in photography and video, not only capturing their artistic sense, YOLO life moments and fashion savvy in Instagrams isn’t enough. They want to share it and show how awesome they are on Pinterest, Youtube, blogs, Tumblr and Twitter.

7. They all have phone and web cams
Finding a camera to shoot a school project used to be tough. With phone and web cams, teens can all make Youtube channels with “expert” advice, SNL digital skits and movies on everything from make-up to doing stupid stunts a la Ashton Kutcher style.

8. Info overload makes everyone ADD
There is so much to choose from, so much being created with everyone having web access and it’s so impossible to consume it all, that the sharper, the shorter, the more in-your-face wow your content is, the better. Buzzfeed and HuffPo have taken hold of this generation’s and our content consumption by being provocative, following celebrities, highlighting social posts like tweets from real people and sharing photos that shock us.

Social Media Etiquette Lesson 1: Twitter

When the internet first began it was an information exchange board and users were as identifiable as patrons to a card catalogue. We came up with psuedonyms even when interacting with friends. You could be tall, sexy, cool, wealthy, conquer castles or even heir to a multi-million dollar inheritance from Ghana. Everytime “AngilO1” logged in, she felt like she was at a masked ball. Then someone told us to take the masks off. Suddenly the internet was as anonymous as a series of cocktail or networking parties where, if you frequented them enough, you already knew 10% of the people there.

Twitter Friend or Follower?
The difference between a friend and a follower is the level of interest and familiarity. The op ed writer you read each week only cares who you are to the extent you submit questions and share their column with your friends: You’re a fan. Your neighbor who comes and chills on you couch to watch the Packers every Sunday is your friend. The guy you met at the last networking event is an acquaintance, and possibly a connection to more acquaintances. On Twitter, it really does work much the same.

I follow you, you follow me = We are connected.
I follow you, you don’t follow me = I’m a fan, you are awesome.
Neither of us follow eachother, but we chat = We are acquaintances.
I actually know you in real life, and we follow eachother = You are my friend.
We follow eachother and often chat = You are my Twitter buddy.

Meeting People: Fortune Favors the Bold
Where Twitter becomes interesting  is in meeting people. Twitter, like the internet, began with a smaller group of disconnected people who liked to talk. As it evolved, so did the connections and degrees of separation. Soon it became possible to “meet” someone through one of your connections.

1.) Crashing Twitter Parties

When engaging in a Twitter conversations groups use hashtags to keep in touch and build cohorts of people who waver between cliques and mini social networks. #UsGuys is one great example. When jumping into an #UsGuys channel without introduction, I at first received a not-so-warm welcome: “Who are you?” “Have you participated in #UsGuys before?” @UsGuysmember1 to “@UsGuysmember2 I really hate when people just jump in our feed.” I was not discouraged! I wanted in. I found their chat time the next week and jumped in with the standard Twitter chat hello:

“Hi, I’m Kari! I work in social media, here to chat!”
[Who are you] – [What do you do/want to do] – [What do you want from Us?]
The next week when I was once again jumping into the #UsGuys feed I was again met with some “who’s the stranger” resistance, much as before, but this time I “knew” people in the “group” who were ready to help out.

2.) Being Introduced on Twitter

In a connected world it is possible to “meet” someone through one of your connections on Twitter across the internet. A proper introduction is the same as in real life parties:
“@myfriend, have you met @kariobrien? She is a social media maven!”
[Friend I’m speaking to] [Person I’m introducing] [Fun fact about them]

You may also introduce yourself to someone you’ve met in chat, much like someone you participated in a group conversation with at a party:
“@awesomeperson I loved your comments in #GenYChat! I’m following you now. Where are you from?”
[How do you know them] [Following them shows you want to know them] [Question starts a brief intro conversation]
And flattery never hurts!

3.) Jumping in on a Conversation
At a cocktail party, etiquette says you may “float” over to a group conversating and politely comment on the conversation. You may have to wait for a break before you can introduce yourself, but if you know someone, or they were mentioned by someone you know, it’s easy!

When someone retweeted someone you want to meet: [Hi I’m name] [I loved your comment about]
Entering an ongoing conversation of strangers: [Affirmational statement validating their thoughts] [New fact that will interest them]
Entering an ongoing conversation with a friend and a stranger: [Address the friend] [Make a comment] [CC the new person]
(Alternatively you can ask the friend to introduce you by direct messaging them. “I so want to meet so and so!”)

4.) The Cold Introduction
On Twitter, it’s easy to jump in on any open conversation, but if you go in cold, you may still be met with the “Who are you?” I say; Fortune favors the bold. Just go for it! If you are charming, you can easily disarm stranger-wary Twitterlites, and introduce yourself even to the most popular and important people. We’re all just 140 characters anyways.

Making friends with a big wig: [@BigWig] [Comment about something they tweeted] (Even their lunch! It works!) or
[Round of applause, quote from/for Big Wig] [Ref. @BigWig]
Making friends with an author: [@author] [Compliment about their work] [Insightful comment]
Getting a singer’s attention: [Bold statement with quirky appeal] [Ref @singer]
Introduction to potential employer: [@Employer] [Comment about the industry] [Question calling for their expertise]

In examples where you are trying to make a personal introduction it is better to reference the person’s name. This makes the conversation private from the beginning and it’s clear you are only interested in them. In cases where the person is just so big, they are often approached this way, referencing them with a quirky comment is a way to gain their attention. We are afterall, all on Twitter because we think the things we say are the most interesting and important! So please, validate this.

Next Lesson – Following Up!

SMO: Facebook Backlinks, Do These Matter?

Recently my coworkers and I attempted something sacrilegious to most social media “gurus”: We proposed killing our organization’s Facebook page. No one representing our company had posted on the page in months, and despite many events and photo opportunities, only one neglected album held tiny images from a year past. “Embarassing”, “waste of time” and “dead already” were some of the internal comments regarding our not-oft-visited site. It looked like we were moving forward, on a train driving Facebook out of our town. Then our PR agency threw a wrench in wheels, “You’ll lose your backlinks!”, they said. Our what?

Backlinks in SEO are hyperlinks from other websites which lead to your site. Backlinks are like votes. The more links you have, the higher your Google search score is. The more highly ranked the sites leading to you, the more the backlinks are weighted into you score. Not only is Facebook the highest ranked website in the world, over even Google.com, but at the beginning of the year Google admitted to factoring social media links into its algorithms.

Social media backlinking was rarely discussed when I interned in SEO, nor was it mentioned in my social media positions and even social media optimization (SMO) discussions. SMO is the practice of using social media to drive traffic your site, the “All Roads Lead to Rome” idea. SMO traditionally focuses on actual clicks. Content is optimized to increase clickthrus using tactics such as link-baiting, content creation, images and keyword tagging. SMO came into mainstream last year as a weapon in the search engine wars, (which Google no doubt won with the help of mobile).

My organization already had top two SEO ranking and a never-ending supply of niche research publications to continually feed to our SEO rankings, so our rankings really weren’t affected by backlinks. From an SMO standpoint, however, the Facebook page was relevant for sharing content and bringing in referral traffic. (Direct traffic comes straight to your site; Referral traffic clicks a link on another site. Usually SEO analytics tools break down what referral traffic is coming from search engines and what is from “all other sites”.)

Although LinkedIn offered great referral traffic by percent clickthru per link, referral traffic from Facebook was negligible. This was consistent with our hypotheses regarding how our membership and target audiences used the web. Despite having Facebook buttons on our website, every email we sent out and printed material, as well as membership and subscribers numbers in the tens of thousands, we were at only 150 likes. (This compared to thousands of group members on LinkedIn). Clearly, Facebook was not where our audience was finding us. The argument was made and Facebook was sentenced.

The question for you is, do Facebook backlinks help my site? It is true for a relatively unknown or low-SEO-ranking site Facebook backlinks can be beneficial to increasing SEO. For maximum SEO ROI, you want to focus on a few “call-to-action” pages, such as a contact page, a company overview, your main page or a submission form, (Examples: proposal submission or membership sign-ups). For maximum SMO, you want to focus on content and “call-to-action” pages which may be generated by the type of social media content.

Articles hosted on your site shared on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is the most common SMO backlink, but video and picture content are beginning to dominate the web as networking bandwidth allows larger file hosting. While keyword tagging pictures and video content has been a part of SEO since before SMO was a discipline, linking back to your site wasn’t as prevalent as today. Increased blogging and sites like Instagram, Twitter, via Yfrog and Pinterest have made image linking more relevant.

Some examples of SMO backlinking:

Shortened Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn links which are retweeted or shared by several people
Blogposts or highly trafficked blogs which reference your website
Lists (not as common since search), such as Angie’s List, which recommend your company or website
Yelp, Yahoo, Hotels.com or other rating sites which evaluate and link back to your company site
Proprietary content images used on other sites, such as a blog, which hyperlink to your site
Pinterest pictures which lead to a point-of-purchase on a commerce site or services, (example: Home renovation company)
Embedded video content on other sites which is hosted on your site or Youtube channels

Ellen Pao: Fifth Generation Feminism in Silcon Valley?

This morning the Twitter story of the day screamed at me “Men invented the internet“. “Ellen Pao, a junior partner in her early 40s at the distinguished venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the company and her colleagues there.” Her claims in the wake of Facebook’s board “diversity” scandal, sound all too familiar: The frathouse behavior, the silent passing over for promotions, the “quiet” acceptance of male dominance in leadership roles. Her accusation a partner retaliated against an office fling gone sour could be straight out of “The Social Network”. Is there no fury like a Silicon Valley tech nerd rejected?

No. There isn’t. I say it from experience, from the women I’ve known who think coke-bottle glasses are cute, and attend Girls in Tech events, and the coders, and designers, and social media geeks who pepper the dark corners of the internet with their unfulfilled fantasies. While chasing their interests they’ve inadvertently struck gold. The tech community is an incredibly self-assured, physically insecure and competitive subculture. The competition to be known, to make it big and to bring in the dollars, is a brilliant light show streaming from the tiny liquid crystals we are composed of. Competition is coded into their DNA.

In biology there is only one kind of competition: Gaining the most resources to have the most successful offspring.

According to Pao’s accusations, the men at Kleiner justified keeping women in the lower level roles and salaries. They said women would not succeed because they were “too quiet”. One partner told Pao women were not invited to dinner deals because they would “kill the buzz”.

Competitive instinct is part of a new thought school both sides of the feminist debate are trying to understand: How do the biological differences between men and women affect the way they behave in the business world? Ellen Pao was a venture capitalist. Interestingly, finance is analyzed most often because it is one of the most lucrative career paths, and if success can be measured by accumulation of resources, a money career definitely trumps them all. It is also a male dominated field.

One study was investigating testosterone levels of women in finance. Another study had shown men tended to make riskier decisions, and earn the top most and bottom majority of ROI in their portfolios, while women made “safer” decisions and the middle to upper-middle in ROI. The scientists wanted to know if women with higher testosterone levels engaged in riskier or more competitive behavior than women with lower levels: The answer was yes, the more testosterone, the riskier the behavior within a gender.

So where does that leave us? Is it fair that men can be expected to be more competitive? Can women compete with them while they are competing for women? Should we start testing testosterone levels instead of personality tests?

There have been five eras to feminism:

1. Getting the vote
2. Entering the workforce
3. Demanding equal pay
4. Wanting to be “one of the boys”
5. Gaining maternity leave and the acknowledgment women are different, but equally capable.

In fourth-generation feminism we’re taught it’s better not to complain. Stories like Pao’s raise the hair on our backs, but are dismissed just as quickly. Sandy Kurtzig, an entrepreneur funded by Kleiner Perkins, would be a fourth-generation feminist. She is quoted: “I always thought the world was going to be gender-blind.”

I was raised by a fourth-generation feminist, in a slightly socialist city which caters to smart girls with athletic abilities. In the 1960s my mother had been given a common test to determine how “masculine” or “feminine” she was. She was an only child who liked trucks, sports and rough-housing with a family of five boys. The test makers told her she “thought like a boy”. Thirty years later in shoulder pads and Chanel, she was still playing with boys, while I was growing up with Barbies and not knowing the difference.

When I left for a university which was 70% women, in the business school, I never knew why my friends complained about the gender ratio. All my classes were filled with tall, masculine bros. In business school, they taught us a survival of the fittest theory which states all discrimination is ultimately bad for financial success because it illogically excludes a potentially better fitted talent pool from competition. Rather than teach business students it’s morally wrong to discriminate, the idea appeals to our pocket books: Why exclude a bunch a intelligent workers who can make you more money?

No transition in thought is ever complete, and fourth and fifth generation feminism run parallel in society still. I’ve seen the divide in academia and the transition to the career world, where fem lit majors choose to put on skits from the Vagina Monologues, and business majors put on closed-toed heels to give presentations on Michael Dell and Steve Jobs besides their 6 ft. tall team mates. A “blind” fourth-generation feminist can walk confidently into a PR firm or Wall Street after graduation, but as soon as she’s found herself in a cubicle farm of pearls or briefcases, the gender lines become clearer. A career choice that was based on personal interests or financial ambition begins to elicit a subconscious nagging question: Was this my choice or society’s?

How to Time Travel on Web: 2 Research Tips

A lot of what I’ve done at various jobs involves research, and most research today is done through the web. In science and business, knowing where you have been is critical for knowing where you are going. Scientists read hundreds of “old” papers to find methods and discoveries they can use to plan their own experiment. These papers in a way are “case studies”. Business analysts use financial, distribution, product cycle, interest rates and loads of other data when looking at company, making a deal or solving a problem.

Social media analysts use some old data to create new business proposals, but mostly they want “new” data: the latest information and technologies available. On occasion however, to illustrate the evolution of the web, I’ve used this amazing tool, “The Way Back Machine“, which allows you to see archived snapshots of your website. This is a picture from the front page of my blog, a year ago:

Try it yourself!

The second tip I’m proffering up is a simple variation on a Google Search. I choose daily topics for my community’s Twitter handle. Today’s topic was “Chimeras”, as from the recently created chimeric monkeys. (Chimeras are organisms with multiple genomes, different DNA.)

The search was unfruitful thanks to Google’s recent algorithm changes which give greater weight to newer content. (A reason one should blog on one’s company website, and often.) The results I was receiving were for the monkeys or a successful hockey game from yesterday. Search for chimeric:

Search for chimera:

In order to eliminate the cute little baby Rhesus monkeys, I used Google’s time period search. I started in 2000 because information in in DNA research over ten years old doesn’t have much significance with modern discoveries and changing technology. I picked a month ago as the end date, although even last week would have been far enough to clear the viral monkey story.

The results were exactly what I was hoping for, no more big black monkey baby eyes looked back at me imploring the necessity of a future of hybrid creatures. Now I could browse articles which topped the news in another time, a simpler time, like January 2011.

And this is how I stumbled upon….HUMAN CHIMERAS!!!

What are you researching? What you like to discover? Happy hunting!

Coming At Your Life: 2012 Social Media Trends

This article is written with thanks to the marketers on my Marketing Word Twitter list who keep forging ahead with bigger ideas for the biggest companies, and my teenie bopper siblings, who’s tech savvy reminds me I’m only a few steps ahead of the pack.

What’s In:

1. Augmented reality!!!

2010 was the “Year of Social Media”. 2011 was the “Year of Mobile”. 2012, budgets holding, will be the “Year of AR”. This will be the year the offline and online finally blend. PS: Don’t bother with what they say at SXSW. Last year’s predictions from the festival failed to come to fruition. (Namely, QR barcodes). Look at what’s fun/cool. That’s your trend.

2. Social commerce

This is going to happen for three reasons: One, the ability to track customers and spending via the web is increasingly available to smaller businesses through social networks (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare), and software like Sharepoint, Salesforce, Bottlenose, etc,. Two, customers like recommendations from friends. We trust our social network more because we know they care about our happiness, rather than just about making a sale. Three, it’s a successful model as proven by Amazon.


3. Accountability for spending

For the same reason social commerce is becoming easier for businesses, ROI tracking using these softwares is making it easier to justify or debunk spending on social media. Where businesses once employed sales people, they will now be able to hold their web salesteams to quotas and directly attribute spending to revenue increases.

4. Mobile payments

Starbucks is doing it, therefore everyone must. Mobile payments are actually an easy replacement for those annoying retain cards everyone has. With access to your phones, retailers can offer special discounts targeted just to you. They can build a relationship with their customers by always be there. And, Oh, the data, the data. Eventually, retailers and companies will find this a way to save money on debit card processing fees and, truthfully, service associates. It also eliminates some theft risk for merchants.

5. Data analysis

As one hedgefund analyst, turned computer teacher, turned web entrepreneur explained, “If you can do data, you can do anything”. In the science community I manage, I hear the best minds constantly discussing the power of data, and the current challenge in more data than can be efficiently analyzed. I love the above video because of this line, Science is the N-U-Ar-T…data make the data pay. The best software programs and companies like IBM are tackling this challenge. In 2012 and for the next couple years, data analysis jobs will be highly in demand. According to Glassdoor, after processing data from salary postings across the nation, they average $55,000, the same as a finance salary.

6. Streaming television

Amazon’s $75 a year Prime is going to kill it across the board. With the problem of highspeed internet more or less solved, customers will stop wrestling with cable companies offering superfluous channels and horrific service. [Funny story.] The entire social media internet movement was about consumer power. American marketing has a consistent trend to more individualized choice. Streaming video answers this, as Napster did a long time ago, but with a revenue model. And yes, Netflix will pave a path to Hades for the Postal Service and any other company which requires you to leave your home or lick sticky squares of paper.

7. Interactive advertising

Part of AR, interactive advertising covers both the “online” and “offline”. In one of those ironic misspends, a liquid paper company actually came up with the interactive ad story above allowing users to interact with bear. Much like the seldom used DVD “choose your ending” concept, this ad gives users choice in content and engages them with the ad. More fun interactive ads will emerge in the real world, such as the Pedigree Puppy bill board above. One idea I had was if DC’s Ann Taylor bustop ads allowed you to “try-on” the product as you stood there. This technology does exist.

8. Political socialnetworking

It’s 2012. Duh. And vote for Ron Paul if you care about retiring, increasing your salary or your children living in a world power versus a failed state. That’s my 2cents.

9. Meetups

As I sat in a Madison, WI Panera I evesdropped on a sales manager explaining their strategy to one of her staff. “I want you to go see each of your contacts at least once a month. I can’t tell you how many studies have shown the more you see someone the more you like them. Once a month equals twelve times a year! If they see you twelve times a year, they will like you.” Most MeetUps are once a month, building relationships over time through the power of oxcytocin, the bonding hormone you will see me write about a lot a lot.

As we become more immersed in technology, we will continue to long for the more human, more real connections through face-to-face interactions. This is exhibited by Facetime and G-chat, the move toward a more realistic conversational experience. Remember, language developed in the last phases of our evolution. We can’t escape the millenia of evolution behind that which required hormonal and body language communication. This is the power of MeetUps.

*The picture above is of a “Couchsurfing” MeetUp in Hong Kong. MeetUps are becoming huge internationally, especially in countries where community and networks are even stronger than the U.S.

Eat Cheese or Die: Building Brand Fans

Locked out of the bathroom where my sister is layering on makeup, her friend and I are bonding by blasting Youtube videos on my Mac: “The Coastie Song” (238,000 views), “The Sconnie Song” (94,000 views), “Minnesota Gurls” (1,828,000), “Teach Me How to Bucky” (1,822,000 views). We assert “bubblers” are a very natural thing to call a drinking fountain, and roll our eyes at those “‘Sotans” who just don’t get it…I mean, duck, duck, grey goose? That’s just plain wrong.

The episode reminds me of my summer in New York as a PR intern, hopping to networking hours looking for opportunities and my Sex and The City fourpack. At one event I met a girl who had studied at UW Madison and found myself bonding over the disheartening lack of batterfried cheese on the island, or 6+ blond men with haythrowing shoulders. We inevitably made a pilgrimage to Mad River, the Upper East Side oasis for the wasting waistlines of Badger alumni holding onto that experience that had bound them all: Buckying in the bleachers as they cheered on the best of the Big 10.

Outsiders speak of “fans” or “cults”, as in the Cult of Mac, but marketing insiders understand one of the most powerful branding motivations is the desire to belong. Whenever we meet someone new we are looking for commonalities which will allow us to build a bond. Without these, instinct says the outsider is “competition”, for resources, mates, space, the spotlight. If we find those commonalities however, we recognize them as part of our pack. This can as simple as a shared experience.

I’ve used this example before, a reference to the Mad Men Kodak scene, where character Draper describes the “potency of nostagia”, a “reminder of a place we ache to return”. Recently, beer companies have been moving away from the funny, booby, wacky ads towards experiential ads. These ads showcase the great times friends are having together and add in the beer almost subtly, as if to say “Just a reminder, our beer was there too.” The brand becomes part of the pack.

Another example are the 4G phone commercials showing moments captured and shared through instant downloads. Scenes include stealing the other football teams mascot, buying a cake for a coworker who just announced they were leaving and a flashmob. They take fun, real experiences from life and make the product a participant in the experience. The viewer connects the goodtime feelings with the brand.

Eat Cheese or Die was almost the slogan for Wisconsin. The “Dairy State”, or “Land of Lakes” was once “America’s Bread Basket”, an agricultural state which had been leveled of trees by immigrant farmers and turned into fields of wheat. Later the uneven land was filled with dairy farms and a council was put together to “rebrand” with a catchy slogan which would convey the state’s value add.

Needless to say, “Eat Cheese or Die” was not chosen to represent the state’s brand. Somehow the council didn’t think the image of the goodhearted Midwestern dairy farmer using Old World cheese making artisanry would appeal to national consumers under duress. Sitting on a barstool on the Upper East Side of Manhattan however, I have no doubt there are a few red and white-blooded top business school grads who would raise a Honey Kugel to their brand “Eat Cheese or Die”.