Thoughts on marketing, social media, and web strategy

Mike Templeton is an experienced marketer with a history in building community on the web.

For Mike's reactions to what others are writing about social media, visit Mike Memos.

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Online Civility is the Internet’s Golden Rule

We all know the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. However, many people forget about it when they get online. They don’t think twice before updating their status on Facebook or tweeting about their bad experience. That hurts people – both online and in real life. In fact, businesses now employ folks just to track and manage their online reputation. Who’d have thought this would be such a big deal?

Be respectful as a digital citizen

There’s a great pop culture reference in The Social Network movie, where Mark Zuckerberg’s character is seen typing up a scathing blog post about a relationship breakup. He eventually bumps into the former girlfriend, prompting a confrontation. “The internet isn’t written in pencil Mark, it’s written in ink,” she comments. That’s the concept people seem to be missing.

As the social web becomes a larger part of our lives, we should all be prepared as digital citizens to uphold our integrity,  in online conversations and in our face-to-face interactions. It’s easy to manage how you are viewed by others at home, in the workplace, or in your community, but on the internet your persona is shaped for you – by millions of indexed search results.

Join Character Counts in promoting online civility

With so many impervious to the impact of their online activity, one local group is doing something to educate the public. Character Counts in Iowa, an organization that strives to help Iowans practice good character, has partnered with Social Media Club Des Moines to discuss the topic of Online Civility at an event on October 28 at Jasper Winery. The event is part of Character Count’s Reveal Your Character initiative and will act as a kick off for their campaign. You can download the press release.

By now you’re probably thinking, “This sounds like a good mantra. I like this whole ‘online civility’ thing. But what now?” The best thing for you to do is to tell someone else about it. Whether you tweet it (use the #RYC hashtag), Facebook it, or write a blog post of your own, your mission is to keep the wheel turning.

Also, take a look at what others in the community are saying about this initiative:

Blogs Bring Bloggers Together

Photo courtesy of Joe Hobot

For over two years now, Central Iowa has played host to a monthly event called Central Iowa Bloggers. The gatherings started with just a handful of area bloggers getting together for a morning coffee, attempting to better connect in person with those they interacted with online.

I still remember the Business Record article I read in 2007 introducing Mike Sansone and the blogonostra, once a group of strangers that met online, but now a tight knit group of laptop-wielding, business-blogging individuals. It was shortly after I saw that article that I attended my first event and started this blog, hoping to share my own thoughts on marketing as a recent college grad living in a digital world.

Two years later, I have connected to more individuals and business professionals than I could have ever imagined—all because of a slathering of words on the internet and a local Panera Bread bakery. Some of us blog about politics, some about education, others on business and internet law, and still more about marketing, branding, public relations, conversations, web strategy, and millennials.

As time has passed the group has grown, bringing in more people that want to connect with this buzzing group. Many of the newcomers don’t have blogs, but they still find value in the Central Iowa Bloggers meetings because of the sense of community and the way the group helps one another out.

On the first Friday of every month I get to spend a few hours over coffee and a breakfast sandwich with some of the brightest, most helpful, most talented, and friendliest people I know—and it all started with a few bloggers blogging.

As everyone—including myself—have gotten caught up in social media and Shiny New Object syndrome, I’m setting a goal for myself to get back to my roots and back to blogging. This is where it started and this is where it will continue.

Have you ever been to a Central Iowa Bloggers event? What do you take away from those gatherings? And if you’re a blogger, what keeps you coming back to blogging?

[Photo courtesy of Joe Hobot]

Still No One Playing Foursquare in Des Moines

Today Foursquare announced the launch of their service in 15 new cities. Among them were Des Moines neighbors to the south and west – Omaha, NE and Kansas City, MO. Foursquare is a place-based social networking game that allows users to check in at locations, post to-do items for friends and earn points for visiting places.

foursquare_logo_boy

To recommend a city (like Des Moines!) to be added to the Foursquare service, add your request here.

From the Foursquare post on Tumblr, the team confirms that the additional cities were driven by fans:

Just so you know, we choose which cities to launch based on the feedback we get from users. [I]f your hometown didn’t make the list this time, stay tuned… we’re just getting warmed up over here.

For now Des Moines area users are still marooned among several surrounding cities, including Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL (in addition to Omaha and Kansas City).

When do you think the online userbase of Des Moines will grow large enough that we get included in initial launches of sites like this? What does that number look like?

Also, Silicon Prairie News grabbed a video interview with Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley.

Risk-takers are Inspiring

While big corporations are laying people off and America experiences the highest unemployment rates in a long time, there are still those who are willing to take risks. In fact, Iowa State University economist Liesl Eathington said the Midwest tends to see an increase in business start-ups during tough economic times as people laid off from jobs are forced to find ways to make money (Business Record).

A recent Business Record article by Sarah Bzdega profiles three Des Moines area business owners who are taking risks and have started their own businesses, and quite frankly, I’m inspired by them. I’ve been running a marketing and web strategy consultancy of my own on the side since March 2007, but never had the guts to take it full-time. And now I’ve just started a new job, which puts plans for Dosovo (and all of my other projects) even farther behind. However, these business owners (and many others like them) have given it all up for a chance to live the dream. They’re hustling. They’re making it happen.

I hope everything works out for these business owners and the hundreds/thousands of others trying to make a go of it right now. It’s these small businesses that are probably going to pull us out of this thing we’re worked ourselves into.

Why I'm Supporting Twestival (and Bringing Cleaning Water to Those in Need)

Twestival LogoIf you’re not on Twitter you probably haven’t heard of an internationally organized event taking place tomorrow night simultaneously in 175+ cities across the globe. The event is called Twestival and is being organized to bring together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity: water.

charity: water is a non-profit that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. The organization has been operating since 2006, but a global community of passionate microbloggers has propelled this group to gather worldwide recognition for its efforts.

In September 2008, a group of Twitterers based in London UK decided to organise an event where the local Twitter community could socialize offline; meet the faces behind the avatars, enjoy some entertainment, have a few drinks and tie this in with a food drive and fundraising effort for a local homeless charity.

The bulk of the event was organized in under two weeks, via Twitter and utilized the talents and financial support of the local Twittersphere to make this happen.

Around the world similar stories started appearing of local Twitter communities coming together and taking action for a great cause. Twestival was born out of the idea that if cities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact.

Seeing how these tight-knit local communities could gather together and tackle seemingly impossible feats in a short amount of time, charity:water saw the Twitter community as an opportunity to help raise awareness to the global crisis they seek to remedy.

People Will Rally Behind a Good Idea

First the idea was born, then volunteers started pouring in. Tony Scott set up Twestival.com and enabled each participating city to set up their own page. Amiando came on board to help event organizers with online RSVP tracking. Mashable partnered to promote the event worldwide. Tipjoy built widgets and organized a channel to raise donations.

The sheer number of people involved in this event and the heart and passion going into all of the planning, organizing and promotion have my jaw dropped on the floor. Many times in today’s society we are plagued with thoughts of how terrible most people are and the newsrooms of the world continue to pummel us with bad news, but the truth is that good-natured people with good intentions DO exist in the world. Twestival is being organized by those people.

Join Us Tomorrow Night and Support Twestival’s Cause

If you’d like to become part of this monumental fundraising event, stop by http://desmoines.twestival.com (or whichever city you are from) for more information. It’s not too late to donate a few bucks and help those in need.

I’ll be at Mars Cafe, 2318 University Ave tomorrow night (Thursday, February 12) and hope to see you there.

If you’re still not convinced, I’ll leave you with a video from the folks at Lava Row about why you should get involved:

#dmtweetup Does #uglysweaterparty and Supports a Good Cause

Last night was a unique #dmtweetup event because it was centered around ugly Christmas sweaters and those in need. The event, hosted at Impromptu Studio (@ImpromptuStudio) and sponsored by Olde Maine (@OldeMain) and the Technology Association of Iowa (@TechnologyIowa), was an informal social hour with the goal of donating clothes and household items to a local shelter and providing an outlet for networking for many of the people who have recently lost their jobs in the Des Moines area.

The bulk of those in attendance are all users on Twitter, which makes these types of events even more fun because you get to connect face-to-face with people you normally just talk to online in 140-character bursts. I was able to meet several new people who I’d not yet been introduced to and I made several new connections that I think will lead to great opportunities in the future.

To some people it may seem awfully strange that members of a common website could come together in person and support causes and our community the way #dmtweetup does, but our group is very unique in the way that we operate. Through the common ground and transparency of Twitter, users are able to learn about and be introduced to people they may have never met otherwise. Also, because we have that commonality in Twitter, it gives us all a sense of camaraderie and we go out of our way to support each other. People answer each others questions, pass along job leads, donate to good causes and show their support in any way they can.

It was great to see so many people (and new faces) at last night’s event as it really showed the organic networking power of good people here in Des Moines and a few strings of messages on the web.

Thanks to Dan Welk (@clickphotodm) of Click Photography, Metromix captured a number of photos from last night’s event, including this one of Robby Glazebrook and myself.

ABC5, the first local news station on Twitter (@ABC5_WOI), put together a great video story on the event.

Learn to Use Social Media for B2B with AAF of Des Moines

On Thursday this week I’ve been given the opportunity to sit with a panel of experts (thank you!) at an American Advertising Federation of Des Moines luncheon. The topic is “Using Social Media for B2B Marketing” and we hope to help answer questions from the group about how they can utilize the latest web technologies in B2B environments.

Official details are available on the AAF of Des Moines website.

November Meeting: Using Social Media For B2B

When: 11/20/2008

Panel includes:

Location:
Skyline Exhibits
2111 Dixon Street
Des Moines, IA 50316
(515) 727-5200

11:30: Doors open for networking
12:00: Lunch is served

Cost: $20 Members / $35 Non-Members / $17 Students

Our panel has had some fun organizing a bit of material beforehand and I look forward to meeting everyone at AAF and helping to answer questions. If you’re in the area, or even if you aren’t [a friend of mine on Twitter (@annetteschulte) is driving down from Cedar Rapids], please stop by and join us.

Get Yourself to Highlight Midwest

If you’re at all involved in social media, web technologies or entrepreneurial ventures, you’ve got to be at Highlight Midwest on October 29, 2008 (Wednesday of next week!). Hell, even if you aren’t involved in any of those things, get down to KC for a chance to get involved.

Highlight Midwest is the first event of its kind to connect nearby communities and highlight the best and brightest web-related success stories in the Midwest. The drive for such an event comes in the wake of recent BarCamps in both Des Moines and Omaha, and the feeling that we, as citizens of the Midwest, need to demonstrate that local innovation is possible, even in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

The schedule for the event is outlined below:

Focused Highlights

9:00am – 4:00pm at the Record Bar

Some of the region’s finest entrepreneurs, technologists, social media experts and new media success stories will be presenting to our group.

Emcees: Alternageek’s Christa Casebeer and Microblink’s Rob Jensen.

New Heights for Flyover States

5:00pm – 8:00pm at the Kauffman Center of Kansas City

A reception showcasing the entrepreneurs, innovators and early-adopters using web technology to grow their businesses, advance their careers and enrich the regional economy in new ways:

  1. Up and coming social media strategists from each participating city will present an overview on how the web is changing their respective cities for the better and how new opportunities for innovation are expanding the importance of web-based technology in the Midwest.
  2. A wrap-up panel: Where do we go from here? After a day filled with all the cool individual things that are occurring in Des Moines, Kansas City, Omaha and the surrounding areas, we’ll discuss actionable items along the lines of “What now?“.

Emcee: Kauffman’s Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Bo Fishback.

I’ve been asked to be a speaker at the event and intend to give a presentation, Microblogging, Macro Impact, on Microblink‘s behalf. I’ll be analyzing the large-level impact of microblogging on the web and how both consumers and businesses are adapting to this disruptive, contagious medium.

Attend or Follow: Your Choice

If you’ve got the time to spare, get yourself down to this event. The connections that will be made and the ideas that will be shared will be invaluable. If you can’t make it, you can follow the Highlight Midwest blog or track #hm1 tweets on Twitter.

City of Des Moines Launches New Logo

And I like it. KCCI has the story and the resulting graphic, apparently worked on by a team of various City of Des Moines departments

The new logo uses the same colors as the previous version, blue and deep red, but the new imagery is much more powerful, in my opinion. The most significant feature is the solid blue bridge, as seen on 235 and south of downtown on MLK. Included within the arch is a simplistic silhoette of the downtown skyline, all tucked neatly above the bold red ‘Des Moines’ text.

The older logo plays into the bridges downtown spanning the Des Moines River and mimics their shape for the large DM initials, chalking up one point for people organizing events and groups with DM (like #dmtweetup) instead of DSM (as the official designation used by the Des Moines International Airport).

Some on Twitter are up in arms over the logo while others suggest the logo has questionable taste, but I see nothing to complain about. As a marketer, it’s often part of my place to pick things apart and always be looking for improvements, but I’m actually very satisfied with the way things turned out.

I agree with Mark Bockenstedt’s comment that “the old one was kinda lame“, and for me it didn’t truly represent the greatness and potential this city has. The old version had more likeness to a website built in 1995 with Microsoft Word, while the new logo speaks to an enriched and vibrant community through its bold use of color and illustration.

Hopefully some of the locals will chime in here with their thoughts, as I feel like this logo release has a bigger impact on marketers and techies like myself than it will on the general public. It would be great to hear some other arguments and viewpoints.