A little Blog Housekeeping

Well, I just copied over My Blog entries from the Shuta Multimeida Blog over to this site. Why? Well I'm planning on editing the articles on the business Blog so that they're more business/tech focused. Whereas this blog can be more of an opinion blog. Thus some of the work that doesn't really apply to Shuta Multimedia will live on here--which is where I plan to give myself more freedom to select topics.

I also plan on Blogging a bit more of the mundane "keep you posted" kind of stuff over here from time to time, in addition to whatever opinion or fiction pieces I plan to do. I always laugh when I see someone respond to a post in a forum with "This isn't your blog." I think to myself, heck I've got one of those. I really should use it more often.

Oh, and and I plan on doing a lot more quick blogging like this--If I've got a few thought, there's no need to wait for a manifesto.

On that note, Blog to you soon!

A Handshake is as Good as a Tweet

So everyone is telling you that you need to get more involved with social media sites if you want to grow your business. Either you agree and are interested in taking the leap, or you fine the whole prospect highly dubious. In my business circles I see a fairly even mix of the two, and both perspectives make perfect sense.

On the one hand, if you're in business, you know you've got to stay in front of your customers. If your customers are using print, you advertise in print. If they watch TV, you need a commercial. If they listen to the radio, you've got to have a spot.

 On the other hand, if you've been in business long enough, you've heard the same promises from all of them. You've advertised here and there; some of it worked and some didn't, but none of it had you ecstatic. Your best deals still involved wearing out shoe leather and shaking hands.

 Ironically, if your best deals are found from personal interactions with your clients, you're in the best position to use social media to your advantage. What may strike you as a fad is actually a shift in the way that people communicate on a daily basis. Two major technological advancements are driving this societal revolution: Internet speed and internet portability.

 Internet Speed

Back in the mid 1990's, when people were first getting on the internet the connection speeds were abysmal. Even if the information you wanted was online, nine times out of ten it was easier to look it up in the phone book. Certainly it was a novelty if you could get information online, but when push came to shove most people didn't have the patience to sit there and wait for everything to load.

 Fast forward to the present, and you see a different picture. Information is delivered almost instantly over the Internet. As quickly as you can type in a search, the answer is provided. Messages, pictures and video can all be shared immediately—not after an hour or so of download time. Because we lived through the “slow internet” period, we're not really aware of how shocking and transforming this technology is. We now can have a magic box on our desk that can answer our questions instantly, allow instant communication between friends, and give us information about any business that has made itself available via the web. Now if we could only carry that around in our pocket...

 Internet Portability

 And of course you can. Via cell phone technology and advanced computer technology, you can now carry these abilities with you wherever you go. A so-called “smart phone” is nothing less than the super small computer science fiction promised in decades past. People use them at every opportunity—even when a full size computer is within easy reach. It goes beyond mere novelty. This gives people a taste of what it would be like to have Aladdin's lamp. Whatever you need, you can find in the palm of your hand.

 Social Networking

 This technology has been especially important to social networking web sites. These sites were born in the old, slow history of the Internet. Developed from the classic “bulletin board” concept, people would post whatever public information that their group needed. The party is at Jim's house at 9. Probably by 7 everyone who used that board would have checked in to see when the party was—on their old computer in the den.

 Now that message appears instantly as soon as it is sent. Whether you're using Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, or any number of social networking sites, a message sent from one phone reaches everyone in the owner's sphere of influence instantly and simultaneously.

 The novelty of this ability is not lost on people. They will look for almost any excuse to send a message, and they make sure they know what messages are sent by the people, businesses, and organizations they follow. To be outside this “sphere of influence” is to be out of the loop. You're not looked upon with disfavor necessarily, but it takes extra effort to reach you. It takes extra effort to be reached by you. Today, the person you want to reach may be too busy to share a cup of coffee or talk on the phone. They will have enough time to check their messages.

The New Expectation

 From a business standpoint, the picture is clear. People expect to be able to access your information at a time that's convenient for them. They expect to be able to communicate you via whatever vehicle they prefer.

 If you don't make yourself available via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and others, you send a message that you are not willing to cater to your customer's needs. It is no longer the case that finding your web site or Facebook page or Twitter account is a surprise. If you're a business, you are expected to have these things as much as you would a phone number. This is as much a measure of your professionalism as having a clean storefront.

In many ways, using social networking sites is a very similar method to traditional marketing. You're trying to make a connection with a customer. It doesn't matter if it's a handshake, a phone call, or a tweet. The point is to connect to the customer and get your message out. Now you can do it instantly.

Web Advice from the 2010 Philadelphia Writers' Conference

I just attended the 2010 Philadelphia Writers' Conference, and I must say it exceeded my expectations in every respect. The conference answered the very questions I was asking. The real surprise for me was that this was not in any way, shape or form a painful process. I'm used to engineering conferences. To say that an engineering conference can be a bit dry is like saying the Indian Ocean can be a bit damp. When you find an informative speaker who can grab your attention and hold it in the palm of his or her hand for the duration of the talk, that moment is generally the highlight of the conference—if it even happens.

To go to a conference where every speaker drew my full attention—dare I use the word entertain? I fear I must. This conference was wildly entertaining, and just as informative.

A good percentage of the conference was dedicated to helping aspiring authors promote themselves and their writings. I was particularity struck by the fact that all the speakers who approached the subject had essentially the same mantra: You need a web site, a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

None of that came as a surprise to me, but the fact that the speakers had pretty much stolen my sales pitch did come as a surprise. I expected perhaps a 50/50 split between classical approaches and more modern methods.

Instead, just about everyone was adamant that the Internet was an absolutely necessary tool for every author if they wanted to succeed. This is how you can interact with your readers, and catch the attention of agents, editors, and publishers. Your potential fan base is using the Internet to manage their lives. That's where you can reach them. At the same time, this demonstrates to agents, editors and publishers how well you can present your work, and if you can reach people.

How does this affect you if you're not a writer? The business aspects of writing are no different than any other business. You must attract people who will consume the fruits of your labors. You've got to build trust with them. You've got to give them enough information about yourself that they can decide they need what you provide. In an age where the most precious commodity is time, you've got to make yourself available to your customers on their terms.

What are their terms? They expect you to have a website, so they can research your product at a time that is convenient to them. A web site that includes or links to a web log—or blog—gives them even more information. A well kept blog is a sign of an active, aggressive business. More importantly, your customer will sense that you are taking extra steps to keep them informed. When you inform them, you are empowering them to make a decision—the decision to buy your product.

Hand in hand with this concept is the use of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. More and more people are using these sites to organize the communication they have with their friends. To a great extent, they are organizing their lives on these sites. When they go out, where they go out, what they buy and what they do is strongly influenced by the information they find on social networking sites.

Think about it. Mary and Bob are married, and both work. Mary checks her Facebook or Twitter account on her lunch hour (or more commonly today, lunch half-hour) and sees a message from Bob. “Hey Sweetheart, want to go out for dinner tonight?” Right above or below that message, there's a message from their favorite restaurant with the specials for tonight. She clicks the link, heads to their website, and checks out the rest of the menu.

She's already picking out what she's going to have, let alone where she's going to go.

The key to any marketing is putting yourself in front of the customer at the moment the customer is making his or her decision. The internet gives every business that ability.

What were the plays that got turned down?

You never know what you'll see on the front page of youtube:

Scarface School Play

I really can't comment too much here. Although I like pointing out the obvious as the next guy--probably more so--even I hit that point where I just don't have words.

I do have to ask one question: what were the other school play ideas that got turned down?

  • "Apocalypse Now"?
  • "The Exorcist?"
  • "The Shining"?
  • "Showgirls"?

The Double Edged Sword known as Duct Tape

You know, Murphy’s Law always wins out. Just when I decide I’ve got to lighten up on the blog, perhaps write something totally lighthearted or something related to my profession, this pops up:

 For those of you who haven’t clicked the link and read it, allow me guess what you’re thinking: had another advertisement banned for having too many scantly clad women. (Or, one woman too scantly clad.)

 No this article is about an ad featuring 2007 Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow and his Mom. It seems back in 1987, Tim’s Mom was a missionary and got sick while pregnant in the Philippines. The doctors advised her to have an abortion. She didn’t, and you guessed it, had a Heisman Trophy Winning son.

 It sounds like a story that should leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. Here’s a kid who’s likely headed to the NFL who almost didn’t exist. Instead, what’s the reaction?

 Various women’s organizations want CBS to drop the ad. I suppose they could have argued that this is a sexually oriented topic, and wasn’t appropriate for a family hour, but they didn’t go there. Here’s a quote from the above referenced article:

 The protest letter from the Women's Media Center suggested that CBS should have turned down the ad in part because it was conceived by Focus on the Family.

 "By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers," the letter said.

 That’s a lot to absorb in one shot. Even assuming that everything the Women’s Media Center said is true, I wonder what ever happened to “The views expressed in this commercial do not necessarily reflect those of this station or its affiliates.” Did they throw that line away? What makes it null and void?

 The argument actually deteriorated from here:

 Terry O'Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, said she had respect for the private choices made by women such as Pam Tebow but condemned the planned ad as "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning."

 How do you make that argument with a straight face? “I respect your choices, even thought I think they’re offensive and demeaning.” “I like this beer, even though I think it tastes like elephant urine.” It’s a direct and transparent contradiction. I know that the greatest sin of all in American society is being close minded, but you can’t look open minded by saying stuff like this.

O’Neill continued:

"That's not being respectful of other people's lives," O'Neill said. "It is offensive to hold one way out as being a superior way over everybody else's."


In America?

Does Terry O’Neill really want to break out the duct tape and silence anyone who doesn’t agree with Terry O’Neill?

Duct tape is great stuff folks. It doesn’t care where it’s applied. It’s cheap. Anyone can get it. If you can put it across Tim Tebow’s mouth, you can put it across Terry O’Neill’s mouth…and my mouth…and your mouth.

Perhaps that’s the goal. Get society where you like it, and tape everyone up so it can’t change. It’s not a new concept. The founding fathers were wise when they included the First Amendment in the Constitution, but they weren’t clairvoyant. They knew that societies will oppress when allowed.

The funniest part about all of this is that the article was actually censored after it was posted. They took out a comment made by Gregg Doyel of CBSSports, which is how the article originally ended. He called Super Bowl Sunday, "the holiest day of the year" and stating that "February 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion." I didn’t get a chance to write my blog until after that pristine comment was deleted from the article, and I had to Google the comment to find it again:

Lewis Black has a Skit to the effect that he has no religion, but he always watches the Super Bowl…and it’s on a Sunday, so at least he’s trying. This sounded so much like that skit, I thought perhaps at first Lew might have cried copyright infringement.

What was the original purpose of ending the piece that way? It sounds like this was the paragraph that was supposed to include our opinion—as if most people are running around like children with their hands over their ears saying “La, La, La, I can’t hear you” over and over.

This leaves us with another question: Why did they delete the comment? Was Doyel being profound and illustrating the insanity of the whole thing? His remarks imply that the everyday man wants to remain ignorant and enjoy his pastimes. Did he slide this by everyone at first, until the editors realized what he really meant?

 Or did he really believe that ignorance is bliss and people only want to be ignorant right now?

If he’s wrong, he’s merely insulting his readers. If he’s right, he might accidentally shake people out of their bliss.

Either way we can’t have that. Someone might be offended.

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