Friendship Redefined

I’m a huge advocate of social media (as you know) and how it has impacted the way brands market.  I love the connections that I’ve made from using Facebook and Twitter.  This blog has given me a platform to share my thoughts on faith, fatherhood and marketing.  Social has expanded our reach to across the country and in some cases around the globe.  I’m sure you’ve also seen the ability to reconnect with people you once thought you may have never been able to again.

However, with all of the positives I just mentioned, social has redefined the word “friend” hasn’t it?  Think about this…I have 1,177 friends on Facebook.  I don’t tell you that to brag, but as I look at that number, what real relationship do I have with all of those people?  Yes, there are a select few that I can say I have a deep friendship with but most of the others are people that I’ve come to know professionally, people I’ve come to know through Kensington, others are childhood friends and others are those from Michigan State.  Regardless, each group of people was significant for a certain period of my life but I can’t honestly say the friendship is nothing more than a casual friendship.

What I’ve learned and was reinforced this past weekend at Kensington Orion was that social media does a great job of expanding our friendships horizontally but often times causes the vertical depth of friendships to suffer.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been able to establish deep and meaningful friendships with some…Gini Dietrich and Justin Brackett are 2 great examples but those were able to grow because of the personal investment we made to get to know each other not only through our online interactions but also through in person visits and conversations.

As I’ve continued to think about this over the last few days I began to look at the friendships I have with other guys around me…or lack thereof.  I hope I’m not in the minority on this, but in conversations I’ve had with other guys in my circles (not a Google+ reference), many of us can only name maybe 1 guy that we feel comfortable enough sharing more than the surface level stuff with.  It must be a guy thing because I know this comes much easier for women.

Why is this important?
I mention all of this because of the message from Kensington Orion this week.  This past Sunday we talked about the 3 men in David’s life that…

…were committed
…were Christ like
…carried burdens

This group of men battled for each other and supported each other.  I want that in my life.  I also want that for the life of my sons.  I want other men, other than me, to pour into my boys and teach them what having strong male figures in their lives will do for them as they grow up to become men.  For me, I want a select few guys to be able to hold me accountable to my faith, to my marriage and be able to help me when I’m struggling.  This verse from Proverbs states it perfectly:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

Having these close relationships sharpens us, makes us better men, better husbands and better fathers.

What is my action step?  To invest in the relationships around me and pray that God reveals to me the open doors of friendships that will sharpen me and to make the vertical investment.

What about you?

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Defining the Brand: Loyalty or Acquisition?

Like most mornings before I get my day rolling, I check the internets and see what’s going on.  Lo and behold, my buddy Bryan Willmert shared this article about gamification from Mashable.  In this article, we are presented with the game mechanics needed for customer loyalty:

  1. Define the “grind” – a clear and easy-to-understand action as the core of your product and loyalty effort
  2. Lay down an XP (“experience points”) system
  3. Create five social actions
  4. Develop a Social Loop With Appointment Mechanics
  5. Have a Reward System Based on SAPS (non-cash rewards by the way)

As I read it, I was reminded of something I posted a couple of years ago where I recommended my former employer change their focus from customer acquisition to customer loyalty.  Now, I’m not naive as I completely understand in the automotive industry, sales are king, BUT I will say that times have changed and that focus might need to make a shift towards loyalty, customer relationship marketing, customer experience or whatever you want to call it.

My “out of the box” idea to my friends at The General would be to take the $10 million you pulled from Facebook advertising and the money you would have spent on the Super Bowl and invest some (or all?) of it into a platform that develops the Apple following I’ve heard many of my former colleagues talk about when I was there.  If you want to develop a car culture where you have people talking about you on their own, provide recommendations and not have to rely mainly on incentives, why not give it a shot?

Check out the following chart that just happened to pop into my inbox as I was writing this:

Most companies would love to see this chart about them, wouldn’t they?  Things are different now, especially online.  Investment must be made and the platform and consumers need to be cultivated.  The biggest question is, are you patient enough to wait?

Don’t Be A Dinosaur

If you saw Moneyball, you’ll know the scene.  It’s the scene that summarizes why I am the way that I am.  It’s the scene that explains why I want to challenge the “way things have always been done” because when it gets to that point, it’s time to do something new.  It’s the scene that explains why I challenge those that ask what the ROI of social is when the only measurement I can get from a large TV media buy is impressions (bold statement to make but certainly appropriate).

Marketing is different.  I subscribe to the notion that “social media” has transformed marketing from  megaphone to dialogue.  Consumers now expect to have conversations with brands.  The DVR era has made commercials an easy thing to skip, but guess what…brands are putting them on YouTube so they can get more eyeballs and socializing them on Facebook and Twitter.  That’s a little funny to me.

I think many people and brands understand this and are trying to figure it out.  We all know what Old Spice did in taking their traditional TV commercial and transforming it into a platform that in a humorous way talked to its consumers and fans.  They understood this “trend” and took a chance on something that was different.

The critics of social media and those that say it doesn’t work only have themselves to blame.  I recently read an article from Ian Schafer on Ad Age (definitely take the time to read it) where he talks about this very thing.  Two things resonated with me.

  1. FACEBOOK IS NOT A PUBLISHER. FACEBOOK IS A PLATFORM. And it’s the way people spend the most time with digital media.
  2. Solely blaming Facebook for their inability to deliver advertising ROI, or enough metrics, is like blaming the school you went to for your salary not being high enough. Advertisers are in full control of the experiences they create on and off the platform.

At the end of the day, we control the advertising switch.  It’s up to us to flip the switch and do things that engage consumers and make them want to engage with you.  That includes using the platforms for conversation and not publishing as well as embracing technology and allowing the consumers to have the power to make their brand experiences personal.

Don’t be a dinosaur.

Is the auto industry innovativing or optimizing?

This morning, Mashable published an article about Carlos Ghosn’s recent presentation at the LeWeb conference in Paris.  During his talk, Ghosn explained that “cars have stopped being perceived as symbols of modernity.”  Mashable takes this further…

“The reason for this, he says, is due to the auto industry’s choice to focus on optimization over innovation. Optimization is all about reducing risk, while innovation is about increasing it in order to achieve the breakthrough that will push a business to the next level.”

What happened?  Has an industry that was founded on innovation gotten to comfortable and arrogant that innovation no longer needed to happen?  Instead of fighting the government on gas mileage, why not embrace the challenge and offer consumers a product that provides value?  The electric car, whether the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf, is an innovative technology.  They are solving for a real consumer need as gas prices begin to rise.

Last week, I shared a couple of videos that demonstrated how 2 other established industries could redefine themselves…newspapers and books.  How great would it be if these prototypes actually became a reality!  The technology is available TODAY!

Other countries are adopting technology at a faster rate than the United States.  Look at this infographic on cell phones and usage.  Specifically, look at the average number cell phones per person.  Notice that the U.S. isn’t even in the top 10!  Mobile is driving a  lot of the new technologies today.  My point in all of this is that if auto manufacturers took the time to innovate instead of trying to maintain a business model that is long since outdated maybe there would not be bankruptcy or the need to put everything on sale.  You could possibly develop a customer base that is as passionate as Apple!

One final thing to leave you with…I saw the following status on Facebook this morning:

Reading the auto industry media take on telematics and infotainment, all I can say is, if you think this is all about being able to say “play genre rock” to your dashboard…you don’t get it.

Technology affords so much more than that.  Wouldn’t it be great if your vehicle could be interconnected with every device you own?  Providing value instead of gimmicks?

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10 People / Things I’m Thankful For

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without all of us thinking about the things in life that we are thankful for.  Sometimes life gets so busy that we often forget to take a moment and reflect on our lives and truly appreciate all that we have.  This last year has been an awesome opportunity to learn about myself and what matters the most.  With that, here is my list.

  1. God.  This will always be numero uno in my book.  I always go back to Luke 1:37…”For nothing is impossible with God.”
  2. Julianne.  She puts up with a lot from me and still stands by my side and is so supportive.
  3. Gina.  My firstborn who has such a passionate heart.
  4. Joshua.  My son who has the same determination and focus as I do.
  5. Jessica.  My princess who has eyes and a smile that will melt anyone.
  6. Luke.  My little boy who is not afraid of anything and keeps Julianne and I on our toes.
  7. My dad.  Quite simply, he is my hero and who I strive to be as a father each day.
  8. Kensington Community Church.  This place has allowed me to grow in my faith by connecting with great people and great leaders.
  9. Bryan Willmert.  Yes it’s a little sappy but Bryan and I have become really good friends through our passion for Christ and the social web.
  10. The social web.  The number of quality and intelligent people that I’ve met through Facebook, Twitter and blogs is amazing.  Special shout out to Gini Dietrich because she represents the benefits of what Twitter can do for people.

There you have it.  By the way, numbers 3 – 6 are all equal just in case you were wondering.  As you gather this week for your Thanksgiving meals, take a moment and appreciate the people and things in your life and let them know it.

What are you thankful for?

Get Glue…evolving the “check in”?

Location based services have been the talk of the tech community over the last year.  Foursquare, Gowalla and now Facebook Places are being adopted and used more as people get into the game.  People share their location in their Facebook profile or their Twitter stream and it’s provided another avenue for people to connect and make comments.

What I think is yet to be solved is how marketers can leverage these services to get their brands in front of people who might share some information with their networks.  This answer might be coming soon now that Get Glue has jumped into the “check in” scene.  At a high level, Get Glue allows users to “check in” to their leisure activities:

  • Watching a TV Show
  • Listening to Music
  • Reading a Book
  • Watching a Movie
  • Playing a Video Game
  • Thinking about a Topic
  • Chatting about a Celebrity
  • Drinking Wine

Now where I think brands can play is in any of the “paid media” activities like TV, Music, Movies, Games or Music.  Imagine a brand, Chevrolet for example, developing a promotion that encourages viewers to check in to the show, Glee, and watch it in it’s entirety INCLUDING the commercials for its brand?  I think there is still undiscovered opportunity here that might allow brands to get something for the millions in media dollars they spend each year.

When I watched the Super Bowl last year, I paid close attention to my Twitter stream when the commercials aired.  It was amazing to see the other game that was going on…rating the commercials.  Could Get Glue be a tool that advertisers could leverage as they continue to look for new ways get in front of consumers?  I guess we’ll find out when the first advertiser gives it a shot.

What do you think?  Would you use it?

For a great blog post about Get Glue, CLICK HERE to read Richard MacManus’ (from Read Write Web) interview with Get Glue founder, Alex Iskold.

Votes Do Count

One thing that I’ve been wanting to consistently do on this blog is make you aware of the good things that are happening to revitalize the city of Detroit.  Much like Stephen Clark and his #backchannel creation which encourages the viewers of WXYZ‘s newscasts to contribute to the positive stories happening within the region, I want to hear about positive things happening in Detroit.  People across the country need to know that Detroit and the entire state of Michigan has a lot to offer.  “Michiganders” or “Michiganians” are a passionate bunch.  We want to make a difference in this community and we look for ways to DO things to make a difference rather than just talk about it.

This leads me to this week’s positive story.  Detroit Servathon has been around for the last few years and sponsored by Oakland Christian School.  The goal has been to raise money and make a difference in the Detroit community by having the students volunteer and serve others.  What a great teaching opportunity for kids from kindergarten to 12th grade to learn about serving others.

Detroit SERVATHON 2010 now includes five other Christian schools in Southeast Michigan: Franklin Road Christian, Macomb Christian Schools, Parkway Christian School, Southfield Christian School and Washtenaw Christian Academy.  Over 5,000 students from preschool to 12th grade from all schools will each have service projects to complete.  You can check them out here.  As a parent of an OCS student, it makes me proud be part of an educational community that teaches its students the importance of putting others needs above your own.  I’m really looking forward to sitting down with my kids and talking to them about their experiences on September 23rd.

The big project for Detroit Servathon requires help from you.  By now, you all have heard about Pepsi’s Refresh Project.  Through the hard work of many people, including my wife Julianne, Detroit Servathon can win a grant of $50,000 to install a playground in the Detroit Community under the guidance of Central Detroit Christian.  We just need you to go out and help us vote.  If we can finish the month of September in the top 10 of the $50,000 grant category, we can move forward with the playground.

There are 3 ways you can vote:

  1. Text your vote to Pepsi at 73774 with our project code 102331 in the message area
  2. Click HERE to vote for DetroitServathon and our 8 partners
  3. “Like” the Pepsi Refresh Application on Facebook, download the app, search for “Detroit Servathon” and VOTE

You can vote all 3 ways once a day until September 30th.  My hope is that we won’t need to try again in October.  My challenge to the Detroit community and the rest of you reading this is to propel this project into the Top 10 THIS MONTH.  If you think your vote doesn’t count, it does.  Please help us make a difference.