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?

Detroit Still Has A Long Way To Go

Recently Men’s Health posted the Top 100 Socially Networked Cities in the U.S. There were a few surprises, especially with some cities that I expected to see in the top 10 (Chicago #39, New York #53).  There was also a little disappointment to see Detroit ranked #94 in the study and listed under “least socially networked.”  Yes, I know it’s ridiculous to put any weight in a study like this however, it did make me realize that the place I call home has a long way to go.  I sometimes forget that not everyone uses Foursquare or Gowalla to check in.  People I know still don’t get Twitter.  What is Instagram?  Tumblr…huh?  I think you get the idea.

This ranking goes further than being socially networked.  It goes further than the many entrepreneurs I know that are determined to open up shop in the city and look for their opportunities to make a difference Detroit’s rebirth.  What is going to actually make a difference?  I think it has to be the adoption of not just the social tools I mentioned earlier, but also the adoption of the technologies that are available today by the large corporations in the area.

Look at what Ford has done in the social space.  They are leveraging the tools.  They have created a personality behind the blue oval.  They are developing vehicles that leverage the new connected customer and making the car more than just a car.  Don’t blink.  Now they are looking to the cloud.

The biggest thing that we can do as “socially connected” people is educate.  We have a network that we should leverage and begin to find ways to teach others.  The biggest asset we have is not a particular product or service.  It’s actually our intellectual property and what we know about technology and the web that we must share.

I still see companies trying things they’ve always done before.  Marketing has changed.  PR has changed.  Sales has changed.  Customer service has changed.  All because of the web and the social tools at our disposal.  I’m not suggesting the web is the cure for everything (but it’s close!).  What I am suggesting is that the web has now become more of an integral part of how people and companies do business in the world today.  The “traditional” methods of doing business are now historical methods.  The “future” technologies are now current technologies.

It’s time to educate so Detroit can move up from least socially networked to one of the top socially networked cities.  What are you doing to teach others?  Start by inviting them to 2 upcoming events this April…Ignite Detroit on April 14th and Future Midwest on April 28-29.  After that, do something with the knowledge you’ll gain and the connections you’ll make.  #makeithappen

Look what I found!

Google Reader gives me hours of entertainment and information.  So what I’ve decided is to share with you each Friday (try to anyway) some cool things that I’ve come across.  So here we go!

The first 2 come courtesy of Read Write Web.  Want to look back on 2010?  Google and Twitter take a look back on what happened this year.

Zeitgeist 2010: Year in Review

Twitter 2010: Year in Review
There is still some content to come but either way, I’ll be interested in seeing how they fill in the circles!  CLICK HERE to go to the site!

Finally, if you are a Twitter user, wouldn’t it be interesting to see where your followers are?  Church Crunch posted a link to this site yesterday.  Check it out here, plug in your Twitter ID and it will do the rest!

There you have it!  What do you think?  If you have any interesting things you came across, I’d love to hear about them too!  Have a great weekend!

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.

Why I Think Foursquare Matters

Over the past week, I’ve seen quite a few blogs and articles on the relevance of Foursquare and any other location based service.  Titles like Why Most Marketers Should Forgo Foursquare and The Time for Foursquare Marketing is…Later? might lead you to believe companies should wait to see if there is any benefit to these services.

These articles go on to provide statistics on the usage.  “Only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps.”  That percentage might seem small but I would argue that although small the opportunity to lead is greater with limited risk.  My friend Gini Dietrich broke it down this way in her blog post about the location based technologies:

Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people use the Internet and, in North America, there are more than 265 million. If 4 percent use Foursquare, that’s 80 million people worldwide and nearly 11 million people in North America. If you break it down even further and say you only want to reach the 1 percent who check in at least once a week, that’s still 800,000 worldwide and 106,000 people in North America.

If it were up to me, I think a test market with the sample size of 106,000 is enough to get learnings on the best way to use these services.  There are enough ideas to test and the brand or marketer that can figure it out first (congratulate Starbucks on being one of the first) will be a step ahead of those just starting to think about it.

So why am I writing another blog post about the location-based services?  I have a personal example of why these can be an extension of a company’s marketing efforts.  Last week, I was in the process of getting a loan to buy a car at Cornerstone Community Financial.  I was there a couple of times and checked in on Foursquare eventually getting the mayorship of that branch.  As I went through my day yesterday, I received this tweet from Cornerstone telling me because I was mayor, I won a $5 gift card to Blockbuster!

This isn’t a huge deal but this is what it told me:

  • Cornerstone was paying attention to who visited their business by using the social web
  • They value their customers by rewarding them for repeat business

I’m now impressed with them and am thinking about changing banks as I listen to Julianne complain about PNC as she does our monthly budget.  (As a side note, if you go to PNC’s Twitter page, they clearly state the account is “intended for distribution only.”)  I think most of us as consumers might find even this little token of appreciation enough to think about a switch.  All this for just a check in!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this video from Charlie Wollborg.  He talks about how Foursquare can be used to encourage others to vote.

Imagine the possibilities if you take advantage of a minuscule 4% of the online adult population.  Does it matter to you?  Is it worth the risk?

What Do You Know? Share it!

Something has been on my mind lately.  Well a lot of things have been on my mind but I’ll write about one of those things today.  It’s the idea of sharing, particularly with the social web.

Many of the people I interact with in this space all agree on what we, as users who are passionate about the web, need to be focusing on:  educating,  teaching, sharing information.  For many companies, they are still trying to figure out how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like can help business and engage consumers.

I was having a conversation with Shannon Paul last night at a TweetUp for Jeff Pulver‘s 140 Conference in Detroit.  She was telling me about an idea that she had to bring downtown companies together and really begin educating everyone about how the internet and the social web can help businesses.  This is a blossoming idea…hopefully more to share on that later.

On another occasion, Jason Falls was presenting to some folks at GM and he gave us his strategy for Twitter, “Share good (stuff).”

I’m amazed at the quality of people that I’ve been able to meet because of Twitter.  Each and every one wants to make a difference and educate others.  For those of us that make a living in this space, I encourage all of you to continue with that mindset and share the good stuff.  We all know that the internet isn’t a fad.  It’s going to continue to evolve the way we communicate with each other.  We have an opportunity to continue educate people and companies and build community.

In this spirit, I wanted to remind of you what’s happening in Detroit on October 20.  The 140 Conference will be happening at The Fillmore Theatre.  This conference has the opportunity to make a lasting impact on this community.  What is the story you want to tell?  Do you know someone who has a great story?  This conference has been about how the web has promoted change for good and made a difference.  If you already have experiences on how the social web has helped you or if you’re just remotely curious, register today!  A lot can be learned at this one day event.

What do you know?  How are you going to share it?  Have a great weekend everyone!

UPDATE: I just saw that my friend Dave Murray just posted this on his blog…dare I say great minds think alike?