Top 10 Posts of 2010

Part of me hates these posts. Part of me feels like it’s important to be introspective and acknowledge what resonated with those whom I am fortunate enough to read me (even if just occasionally). What I have tried to do here is provide a little behind the scenes commentary — maybe my version of a “director’s cut — on each of my top 10 most popular posts for 2010.

  1. How Important is your Twitter Bio – Blown away by how many retweets and reads this got. It was a fairly basic post but it seemed to resonate. Not that I’m complaining…
  2. Are foursquare and Gowalla Just Shiny Objects – My favorite thing about this post was the conversation in the comments. I think no fewer than 15 new blog posts got written in the process and I learned a ton from people that are much smarter than me.
  3. What Marketers Want – This was the announcement post from our acquisition of crayon, Drill Team and StepChange earlier in the year. In some ways, this is like one of those great movies that you release too late in the season to be considered for the Academy so it ends up being a lame duck in the subsequent year’s voting. Glad to see this land in the #3 slot.
  4. Initial Thoughts on Facebook Places – Not my best post but obviously a hot topic. I’m still VERY interested in finding out how disruptive Facebook will be in the world of location based services.
  5. Brand Haiku – One of the most fun (and easiest) posts I’ve ever written. I was blown away by the fact that many of my blogger friends were willing to participate in this fun little game. Let’s just call this my 45 in 45 of 2010.
  6. Movember Time, Austin Style – Anyone that knows me, even a little – knows that I participated in Movember this year. I know, it gets old quick for those following me on Twitter and Facebook. But it was for a good cause. And we raised nearly $32,000 toward fighting cancer in men.
  7. Tale of Two CMOs: A Study in Contrasts – This goes down as the post with the most potential and the worst execution. I liked where it was heading but I immediately realized how hard it was going to be to write as a series the minute I started putting pen to paper.
  8. I See You – Maybe one of my favorite posts of all times. Riffing off the key phrase in the movie, Avatar, I loved what this post stood for. I was equally glad to see others embrace this.
  9. Pluralitas Non est Ponenda sine Necessitate – Flexing my Latin muscles a little. This was inspired by the principle of Occam’s Razor. Surprised to see this make its way into the top 10.
  10. The Power of One – the result of a little experiment I did on Twitter. I’m sure there was little to no statistical significance of my study but it was a cool concept. And I liked the comments.
So who else wrote a post that you liked a lot this year? Make sure you post it in the comments. If I get enough of them, I’ll either write a new post or at least include it in the body of this one as a post script.
Thanks again for taking the time to read and retweet me. Hope you have an awesome 2010 and if I’m lucky, I’ll see you at SXSW this year.

Powered and The Power of Social Business Design

Cross-posted from Powered.com

A new day is dawning at Powered and its name is social business design. If you’ve heard that term before, you can thank the folks over at Dachis Group — who Powered is now a part of. That’s right, you can read that again, “who Powered is now a part of.” That’s because as of yesterday, December 20, 2010, the very same Dachis Group acquired Powered and it’s subsidiaries, crayon, StepChange and Drillteam.

Social Business Design

Over the past 2.5 years, Dachis Group introduced the concept of social business design to the world and they’ve grown their business around it. Social business draws on many disciplines.  It is composed of Enterprise 2.0 thought leaders including Dion Hinchcliffe, engaging with practitioners from the 2.0 Adoption Council, and bringing technology to life through Headshift. It draws upon the visual thinking capabilities of XPLANE and formulate business strategy through the business unit they’ve grown by hand since their beginning.

So how does Powered fit into social business design? Quite nicely in fact. Because Powered and its subsidiaries are all about social business customer engagement. You may know this as social media marketing, but calling it that doesn’t do the concept of more deeply engaging one’s customers justice. In fact, the problem with many social media campaigns is just that. They are campaigns, not sustainable programs that grow over time.

Where businesses truly succeed is when they transform from the inside out by re-engineering their processes, culture and technologies to get the most out of their relationships with their employees, partners, customers and fans. As part of the Dachis Group, Powered and its subsidiaries can now provide our customers workforce collaboration, customer participation (or engagement) and business partner optimization.

Needless to say, we here at Powered are excited to be part of the largest social business consultancy in the world. That, combined with the fact that we are part of a company with over 220 employees and offices in 10 cities across five different countries, gives us the best opportunity to win. And at the end of the day, who doesn’t like winning?

Field Guide to South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi)

Originally posted on December 7, 2010

Every year, I have a few new friends that ask me if I have any tips for them as they get ready for SXSW — an interactive, film and music extravaganza! Today, my friend Christine Perkett let me know that she was taking her maiden voyage to Austin next spring for this very event. My promise to her was an insider’s guide to “South-by” as it’s referred to by us geeks. I know I’ve missed a ton so I’m hoping that my fellow SXSW veterans and local Austinites will help fill in the blanks.

Lodging and Airfare
After buying your ticket to SXSW, this is the first thing you want to take care of. And by first thing, I mean now. Today. Not in two months. Trust me when I tell you that you will end up flying into San Antonio and staying somewhere halfway between San Antonio and Austin if you don’t take care of this soon. Here are several hotels that are close that you should consider.

Map of Downtown Austin

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=114537014142502422139.000496da39e9d71cc66b4&ll=30.267481,-97.739825&spn=0.011712,0.013046&output=embed
View Map of Downtown Austin Hotels for SXSW in a larger map

HINT: I am not kidding about staying near San Antonio (which is an hour away from Austin) if you don’t plan ahead.


Scheduling
One of the first things you will realize as you start to prepare for SXSW is that there are A LOT of things happening at the same time. This includes keynotes, breakout sessions, happy hours, etc. Per my friend, Kyle Flaherty’s advice from a post he did about SXSW 2010, get focused on the 6-8 panels/sessions you really want to see. Make sure you’re not just going to see the latest social media rock star but look carefully at the session title and description. Is the speaker a seasoned speaker or is this their first rodeo? As a result, you may want to have a “plan B” session” lined up for any selections you make just in case you need to call an audible.

HINT: Have all of your your notes/schedules printed out. Wifi and cell coverage can be spotty at times at SXSW.

Parties/Networking
There are a lot of parties at SXSW. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. More than you will ever experience anywhere else in your lifetime. This is obviously a great time to network so go light on the drinking (or at least pace yourself — more on that in the next section). Also, just like the conference sessions, you will want to choose these wisely. Take note of the fact that for the signature parties (Mashable, DIGG, TechSet) there will be lines. Long lines. So get there early and move on to your next party before that party winds down. Also keep an eye on key people like Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble’s Twitter streams. These guys create flash parties everywhere they go. Sometimes, those are the best ones. Another smart idea is to make sure you are signed up for services like Plancast and a location-based provider or two like FoursquareGowalla and Whrrl so you can monitor the action a little more methodically.

Another important point to touch on here is that you will do some of the best networking you’ve ever done at SXSW. That’s at least 67% of the value of the conference. Some of that happens at parties. Other times, this can happen via coffee, breakfast or in the Blogger’s Lounge (this is one of the hidden gems of SXSW). I’ll put up a link to more details about the BL as we get closer to SXSW. However, because there are so many events going on simultaneously, be sure to reach out via e-mail or phone with anyone you want to connect with in advance and set a time and a place to meet.

HINT: For most parties, you will need a SXSW badge. If you attend the conference rogue (sans badge), there is usually a list of parties that don’t require badges (I will link to that when it’s up). What I will tell you is that unless you are 5′ 10″, blonde and drop dead gorgeous, there is a 99% chance you will NOT get into any party that requires a badge.

Pace Yourself
As I noted in the “Party/Networking” section of this post, there are a lot of parties that go on during SXSW. Combine that with the late nights and the fact that SXSW takes place over the course of several days, it is imperative to pace yourself. Trust me, I’m not scrooge when it comes to having fun but ensuring that you eat well, get sleep whenever you can (hint: take naps in the afternoon), drink plenty of water and try and not pull an all-nighter during the first day or two that you’re here.

HINT: The weather in March is usually mid-70s to high 80s during the day and low-60s at night. Shorts and t-shirts are de rigeur but you may also make sure you bring a fleece and a few pairs of jeans for the evening activities.

Content Creation
If you’re a blogger, podcaster or videographer, SXSW is a wonderful place to create content. There is usually space in the hallways of the Austin Convention Center to set up shop although they hallways can get noisy in between sessions. Weather permitting, you can also shoot/record outdoors. Just make sure you bring extra batteries and be sure to test your equipment before you come down. If you’re podcasting, you might even arrange with someone to be editing remotely so that you can post during SXSW. This means pre-recording your bumper music, creating a tag/hashtag in advance, etc.

HINT: As I mentioned in the “Networking” section, you will also want to try and schedule as many interviews ahead of time as possible. This includes putting together a schedule and finding a meeting place in advance e.g. outside the blogger lounge or near the Chevy pavilion near the entrance.

Restaurants
I’m in the process of adding more places to the map below (suggestions are welcome). [POST SCRIPT 2/29/2011: Our friends at Where.com just added a curated list of Austin/SXSW faves from a list of about 20 people — food bloggers, Austinites and people like @SchneiderMike and I that just like food).

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=30.261254,-97.740641&spn=0.019423,0.044932&msid=114537014142502422139.000496ea5d6282ef7d743&output=embed
View Good Restaurants to Visit During SXSW in a larger map

HINT: The Salt Lick is a MUST visit while you are here for anyone that likes BBQ. Because it is in Driftwood which is a good 30 minutes south of downtown, you’ll need to drive there. If you do decided to go, plan on it taking a good three hours out of your night. Also note that they are cash only and because Driftwood is in a dry county, you must bring your own beer and wine if you want to drink.
Other Useful Links
As we get closer to the event, more and more “how to do SXSW” posts will crop up. So that I don’t overwhelm you, I will try and keep a running list below. I promise that I will personally curate these posts so that I only provide the posts that I see offering additional value.
As I noted above, I’m sure I’ve missed all kinds of other good tips so please let me know via the comments below. Or you can send me a link via Twitter @aaronstrout.

5 Reasons Why We Won’t Experience another Dotcom Bubble

Thanks to friends Darin Kirshner and Joey McGirr for listening to me rant about this over coffee. I decided to collect my thoughts and put them down on digital paper.

While perusing my Twitter stream Sunday morning, I saw a tweet from long time blogger and Edelman SVP, Steve Rubel. For what it’s worth, Steve is one of a handful of people who I pay very close attention to so I couldn’t resist clicking through to the Newsweek article referenced in his update. The title of the article was Dotcom Bubble 2.0 and it focused on the recent speculation by venture capitalist, Fred Wilson that the current environment is looking a lot like the dotcom bust of the early 2000’s over again.

While I respect Mr. Wilson and won’t pretend to know 1/100th of what he knows about investing in companies, I did live through Web 1.0 and the first internet bubble. I was also a digital frontiersman meaning I know a little bit of which I speak. To that end, I couldn’t resist throwing out my $.02 about why the current social media and location-based landscape is nowhere close to the environment of 1997-2001 when irrational exuberance took the world by the throat and temporarily choked the life out of it.

Here are five reasons why we will not live through a “dotcom bubble 2.0:”

  1. Initial public offerings are at an all time low. As a result, the only people who will get burned by investing poorly in startups will be venture capitalists and wealthy folks who make poor investment decisions. NOT the stock market. This is a HUGE difference between 2010 and 2000 (see history of IPOs here).
  2. Because of the bubble, investors, entrepreneurs AND the public learned a thing or two. Ask an entrepreneur or two how easy it is to get VC money these days. Go ahead.
  3. In 1997, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a business. That’s because you needed a website, and infrastructure and lots of other stuff that cost a lot of money. Now, many of those services are free or incredibly inexpensive. That means good ideas are much easier to implement and get off the ground for a $50,000 tab on 3-4 credit cards.
  4. Many of the jackasses in 1997-2001 who got ridiculous sums of money from the VCs ran out and leased expensive real estate, went on wild hiring binges and then invested in things they had no business investing in like Superbowl ads. Think you’ll see Klout, Gowalla or Pandora buying a Superbowl ad anytime soon?
  5. 9/11. Yes, this had nothing and everything to do with bubble 1.0. While we’ll never know if we could have bounced back more quickly from the first Internet collapse, a catastrophic event that changed the world for ever happened and sent the US (along with many other wester countries) into a tail spin. Now I can’t predict that this won’t ever happen again but the odds aren’t good.
Am I off base? Maybe. But I don’t think so. I’ll agree that there are similarities between today’s business environment and ten years ago but many of the fundamental factors that created the bubble just aren’t here. But you know me… I love to be proven wrong.
Image credit: Doobybrain.com