Thoughts on marketing, social media, and web strategy

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

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Networking


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]

LinkedIn Groups are a Victim of their own Success

linkedin_pic_logo_119x32Like most any other business professional on the web, I have a LinkedIn profile. It’s properly filled out with all of my latest ventures, who I’ve worked with, what my background is, etc. At the bottom of my page you’ll find a list of LinkedIn Groups that I have joined, from CarpeDM (Seize Des Moines!) to Highlight Midwest. Though the groups you may be more familiar with are ones like On Startups (90,000+ members) or Inbound Marketers (35,000+ members), as these groups have thousands upon thousands of members.

Can we rely on our contacts as filters?

Though I do want to associate with those latter groups, the sheer size of the group membership on LinkedIn makes them nearly impossible to derive value from. True I can browse the members page to see which of my connections are also members, but LinkedIn doesn’t provide a very good way to find the best discussions in a group (especially in the email digest). I can sort by most recent or most comments, but what would happen if LinkedIn were to take a page from Facebook’s playbook and leverage the social graphs of my friends to pick out what I would like most?

For all I know this type of recommendation engine could be in the works at LinkedIn, but I think finding a better way to filter through content could drive many more people through LinkedIn’s doors. Facebook does a great job recommending who I should be friends with and what they like the most, but wouldn’t that be even more meaningful in a professional environment?

LinkedIn means business, literally

I use LinkedIn specifically because it takes the personal chatter and noise out of the conversation. I don’t have to weed through photos or the recounts of a day’s worth of food just to find what I am looking for. The content is right there in front of me. All I need is a better tool with which to mine it.

Many people have said that RSS is dead, and that Twitter seems to be replacing it as a source of news. I don’t think that RSS is dead any more than the next technology, but what Twitter provides is a human-powered filtering system to only provide what we are most interested in. We follow those who follow what we like, and that’s what we get. LinkedIn is headed down that path by allowing us to join grouped discussions related to our interests, but allowing us to rely on our friends to sift through all of that information would make the network even better.

What would make LinkedIn better for you?

#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.

#dmtweetup in Juice

Two weeks ago I attended a #dmtweetup at Johnny’s Hall of Fame in downtown Des Moines. The weather was great (save for the torrential rain downpour around 9pm) and Tweeps turned out in record numbers.

One thing that was new for this TweetUp was that many of the new faces were easier to identify due to @richdrake‘s ingenious idea to make name badges for everyone.

Arturo Fernandez, photo editor for Juice, was on the scene and snapped a few pictures of everyone. Juice’s article on the TweetUp just came out today.

You can see the name badge in the center of the photo and I’m the grey blob in the background to the left of the guy in the green shirt.

For more photos from the event, see photos tagged on Flickr or the group photo pool. A list of attendees is out on the wiki. Events are sorted out courtesy of Upcoming. To see who is talking about #dmtweetup, check us out on Twemes.

With each event that takes place, our group grows larger and larger. Contrary to what some people have said, I’ve got to say that Des Moines really is a happening place for technology-minded folk.

The conversations taking place daily on Twitter are keeping me on top of my game and stirring up good, insightful conversations. It can only keep getting better.

Also, if you’re looking to get in on this crazy #dmtweetup action, RSVP for the Pirillo Meetup tomorrow night in Altoona.

dsmBUZZ Quarterly Connection

After only being part of the dsmBUZZ network for 5-6 months as a consumer, last night I attended my first dsmBUZZ Quarterly Connection where members, merchants and sympathizers meet to talk about business, community issues, our neighborhoods and whatever else is of interest.

I met a host of new people and put faces to names I’d heard of and seen online.

Attendees included:

We had some great discussions about networking groups and how we think they ought to operate (and how NOT to operate), talked about the dsmBUZZ program and Sherry’s plans for this year, what marketing strategies were working for businesses and how each of us got our entrepreneurial start.

I’ve already made some great connections via dsmBUZZ and I love what the program embodies, “a grassroots initiative that exists to promote the efforts of locally owned businesses in central Iowa.” I’ll continue to support this effort as a consumer and hope to eventually join as a merchant via my company Dosovo, which specializes in marketing and web strategy for small businesses.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys supporting local businesses and helping our community’s economy grow, stop by dsmBUZZ and get signed up as a member. It’s just $10 to join and the membership gives you access to all the wonderful perks that locally owned small businesses have made available to you.

Networking Overload

Up until recently I was much of a networking hermit. I’d heard about all the advantages of joining clubs and special interest groups in college, but I never took the plunge. I just didn’t see the value. Now things seem to have changed.

In the past several months I’ve participated in more networking groups and activities than in my entire college career:

  • #dmtweetup – local Twitter users who meet irregularly and talk about technology, social media and the like
  • Central Iowa Bloggers – Des Moines-based group of bloggers that meet the first Friday of every month to discuss happenings in the blog community, etc.
  • Company of Friends – group of readers of “Fast Company” magazine and similar media; meet once per month to discuss articles
  • IowaBiz.com Business Building Breakfast – panel of bloggers share their knowledge and expertise with IowaBiz subscribers and community
  • dsmBUZZ – grassroots initiative that exists to promote the efforts of locally owned businesses in central Iowa
  • AMA Iowagroup of marketing professionals dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of marketing

Though it seems as if my calendar can’t allow for one more event, these days I make time to schedule in opportunities like these.

Maybe my brain was so consumed by schoolwork while in college I just couldn’t grasp the inherent benefits of groups such as these. Now that I’m out in the free world, however, I realize that the connections and contacts I make at these functions are invaluable.

Also, if you’re looking for a good way to organize your schedule in a format that’s easy to access and manage, check out Google Calendar. I just set mine up today for the first time and it’s proving to be wonderful.

Second Des Moines TweetUp is a Success

Last night I hung out with the local social media crowd at the second Des Moines TweetUp. Sixteen Tweeps gathered at the Court Ave Brewing Company in downtown Des Moines and tried their best to put faces to avatars and Twitter handles. I had met a few of the guys before, but this event brought nearly triple the attendance of the first.

The full attendee list included: Mike Sansone @mikesansone, Nathan Wright @nathantwright, Andy Brudtkuhl @abrudtkuhl, Jake Kerber @jakekerber, Scott Phillips @scottatdrake, Brooke @brookenp, Chris Punke @chrispunke, Tim Fisher @timfisher, Rob Glazebrook @robbyg , Haley @haleyelizabeth, Chris Harris @charris1980, Robert Jensen @Jensenrf, Aaron Webb @webboy, Jeremy Harrington @jharr and George Christ @gchrist.

The TweetUp was a great way to expand my local network of social media and tech friends. I spent a good deal of time today trying to get my follower/following list straightened in Twitter after meeting all the new joinees. The insight, recommendations and feedback that I get from this group is reason enough to stay involved, but I envision my relationship with this group growing into something even more beneficial.

I’m already looking forward to the next event (which is rumored to be at Nathan’s new office space) and will post an update when the group comes up with a date.

UPDATE: Others are talking about this TweetUp too.