7 Random Things About Me

Unless you haven’t been reading any blogs at all, you’ve probably already seen the “7 things” social media meme. I’m happy to report that I’ve been tagged by the lovelyLeah McChesney, who I met at the Novi Tweetup earlier this week. Leah was tagged by Lori Laurent Smith who was tagged by Marta Strickland, who was tagged by Stacy Lukas, who was tagged by Ken Burbary who was tagged by Shannon Paul. So, to keep it all going, here’s 7 random things about me:

1. I play several different instruments and sing. I’ve been in four different bands and have recorded an album with one of them. Sometimes I still play solo. Music has always been a huge part of my life.

2. I’m a fluent German speaker

3. I’m a yogi. Even though I no longer practice in a studio, I still meditate regularly and attempt to practice when I can.

4. I’ve been shocked by a tazer. When I was a reporter at The Monroe Evening News I volunteered to be shocked when the Flat Rock Police Department bought them and began training.

5. I can recite every line from the film Caddyshack, start to finish.

6. Sometime I still get a little teary-eyed when I look at pictures of my wife and I on our wedding day. She’s my best friend, my partner and crime and the funniest person I’ve ever met.

7. I’m deathly afraid of bats. I know this a ridiculous thing to be afraid of, but I’m still afraid of them. I’ve starred down bears, wolves and other wildlife, no problems.

So, in spirit of the meme, I’ll pass it along to: (and to be honest, I can only find four of my regular people who I read that haven’t done this yet)

Sheena Harrison
Dr. William J. Ward (a.k.a. Dr4ward)
Brandon Chesnutt
David Murray

Can’t wait to read what you all have to say.

The Four Simple Rules:

* Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they’ve been tagged

Is 2009 the year of the Conversation Officer?

Back in October, Joe Jaffe (@jaffeejuice) wrote a case study for the US Postal Service’s Deliver Magazine. In the study he discusses a trend he sees coming by 2012 – the development of the “Chief Conversation Officer.”

Jaffe says the Chief Conversation Officer will replace the traditional Chief Marketing Officer, serving as the true conduit between corporation and consumer. These new executives will essentially bring all customer conversations under one roof. They’ll be able to bridge the gap between public relations and consumer outreach, creating true integration and conversation about the brand.

I believe that that time is coming much sooner than 2012 for some companies as some have already started to adopt some of the roles of the Chief Conversation Officer.

Take the Michigan based Biggby Coffee as a great example of a company already putting this into practice. The company’s CEO Robert Fish (@BiggbyBob), is an active Twitter user, blogger and advocate for his brand.

I know what you’re thinking. Every CEO is a brand advocate. But not every CEO takes the time to engage with consumers, bring their consumers into product focus groups and do his or her own PR. What Bob Fish does well is have actual conversations with the people who consume his coffee. He’s friendly, honest and above all, engaging.

He’s also very open to rewarding those who are considering his brand. Fish entices fringe adopters by encouraging them to get in discussions with others who drink Biggby Coffee, without alienating those who are already true Biggby believers. This fantastic fan base is a true army of brand loyalists who act as evangelists for the brand. And in today’s challenging business climate, when loyalty is a fleeting thing, Biggby is committed to conversations with its consumers. Biggby isn’t just monitoring what its customers are saying effective response and responsiveness. As Jaffe writes in his book, and as Biggby has put into practice, “every customer complaint, compliment, question or concern deserves and mandates our time, our effort, our investment.”

In 2009, as more companies take the plunge into social media, I’m sure we’ll see more brands start to take these sorts of steps. We can only hope they don’t use these tools as another means to simply shout their message. It’s not another tool for companies to use, it’s about conversations. What other companies do you know of that are already using Chief Conversation Officers? Comments appreciated.

Photo by: Nara Vieira da Silva Osga

How I converse in Twitter

Dan sips a bourbon on the rocksWhen I talk to co-workers and clients, I’m often asked how I can bear to follow so many people and still feel like I’m part of discussions on Twitter. My answer is a simple one. I take part in the discussions I believe I can add relevance to or ask questions when I have a genuine interest in a topic or particular Tweet. I treat Twitter as if I’m at a huge dinner party filled with really intelligent guests. I add something to the conversation when I believe I can say something relevant, helpful or offer my opinion when it’s asked of me.

Ironically, while doing research for this post, I found out Chris Brogan used a Cocktail Party as his analogy when he discussed how he uses Twitter. It’s a great post!

As of this post (Jan. 15, 2009) I’m following 900 people and being followed by more than 650 people. It’s not easy to keep up with all 900 people I follow. For most users I’d imagine Twitter, is the chance to engage with people who have their similar interests in mind or with people in their vicinity. For me, Twitter has become an integral part of my day, a research tool and a method of communication.

The long and short of it is that I DON’T participate in every conversation. I DO go back and use Twitter Search to find topics I’m concerned about and follow up on them with vigor. As an advertising and marketing professional, I spend a lot of time following the competition of my clients, discussing my client’s service or product and using my feed as a PR vehicle for those products or services. That being said, I also use my Twitter feed as an opportunity to be myself and to discuss issues I’m interested in. I don’t believe in maintaining a separate feed for my “work” activity. I’m always working and usually let my personality seep into my work and my work relationships (perhaps to a fault?).

Sure, as someone who’s main client is Chevrolet, I spend a lot of time reading Tweets from Auto Blogs, newspapers, industry buffs and gearheads, but I’m also a passionate Geek who loves film, technology, iPhone applications, philosophy, politics and sports. I believe that as social media practitioners we have a responsibility to be ourselves. We can’t tell a brand to be authentic and transparent without being authentic and transparent when we’re doing the telling. We really need to drink our own Kool-Aid more often than not.

I personally don’t use any desktop apps to manage my feed. I check updates occasionally when I’m away from my computer at work through Twitteriffic on my iPhone, but if I miss some things I don’t panic. I take it in stride that I can’t be involved in every discussion that I’d like to be in and that I can’t be part of all the action. I react and respond to what I can. With the number of followers I have at the moment, I can still make time to respond to ever Direct Message (I get about 10 a day), and still respond to every “@.” However, I can’t respond to every request for a poll, can’t read every blog post tweeted by a user I follow whose opinion I genuinely value, and can’t stay up 24-hours a day to keep up on the feed. I do what I can, stay as transparent as possible and make sure I’m a part of the conversations I believe I NEED to be a part of – which usually equals 20-30 tweets a day on the average (more in cases I’m at events like #NAIAS – 34 tweets in 4 hours).

I imagine if I pop well over the 1,000 following mark, I’ll need to start using something like TweetDeck to keep up and keep things organized, but for now, I’m happy with the way I’m using Twitter.

Sidenote: @Eyecube has an amazing post today on the politics of corporate social media transparency with lots of great discussions in the comments.

How are you using Twitter based on your volume, job function or interests? I’d love to know your tips and tricks or if you converse in a different way based on your function. Post them in the comments below!