Tag Archives: brand

SocialDreamium

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I decided to take a minute to highlight my latest endeavor, joining the team at SocialDreamium. SocialDreamium is a privately-held Milwaukee-based company committed to building strong web-based communities centered around a companies products and services.  Started in October of last year by my brother Ryan Graves, and quickly expanding. I jumped on board a little over a month ago to help author the blog, (Get Audience, Get Going, where you will often see my posts from this site as well), assist with client writing (as we start to build a client base), and editorial assistance to what eventually will be a SocialDreamium book entitled,”The Dream in Action”. (I’ll keep you posted!)

At SocialDreamium, we believe in the power of the collective social web. It’s what we love and have a passion for, and want to help others understand.. and then utilize for their brand.  We also love people and we see the internet as a way to meet more people and create value for these businesses. We work to create two way relationships and conversation between our clients and their customers.  I hav posted before about online communities, and what that means. SocialDreamium dives into this concept and works to first create and then managing these communities. It is so much about listening and contributing to the networks that exist, and we help our companies to do this. We also help companies to develop a successful blog for their brand and build a social web presence that they can stand on.  Through these outlets we allow our clients to grow a relationship with their customers.  We also now have a larger team that allows us to build web based software to help you manage your community.  Currently, the SocialDreamium team is made up of Ryan (in Milwaukee), David Abrahams and Dien Nguyen in Sydney, Australia and myself in San Diego. We’re still growing and looking for great writers and developers to join our ranks…(e-mail taylor@socialdreamium.com)

SocialDreamium currently has a working relationship with SOHO Magazine (out of Milwauke), and our clientel includes of SOHObiztube.com and budgetpulse.com — check ’em out! It’s all very exciting I know… just wanted to keep you all in the know, and I will keep you posted as this exciting new start up gains speed!

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User Friendly Simplicity

Have you ever noticed that the best things in life are usually the most simple?

While watching the chargers game a few weeks back (the last game of the regular season that led us to the play offs, woo-hoo!) we started talking about the simple things in life that.. simply.. can’t be beat. Apple products  are often centered around “touch” — very simple, the In-N-Out Burger Menu (the simple and few choices are a beautiful thing!), Google products are centered around the “find” theme, and again, very simple – very successful. See these illustrations taken from Eric Burke’s blog post about simplicity.

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I think that in today’s world customers are over the over-complicated. They want something simple that they can figure out how to use.  A product has to have a certain amount of worth in order for us to find time in our busy lives to sit down and take the time to learn a new tool – the easier it is to use, the more committed a consumer will become to incorportaing the products use into their daily lives. We want simple, easy to understand and efficient.  While some may associate simplicity with easy on the creator side — this is simply wrong.  Simplicity often requires much more work on the production side. A lot of thought and planning must go into what will be MOST efficient for the average user and then easiest to translate into product form. The genius of simplistic products is what amazes me. For every brand, application, software product, and customer facing product — this truth can be applied. Though it may be a specific industry related tool – there is always a level of simplistic, user-friendliness that can be applied, and I would encourage creators to focus on the importantance of the aspect of simplicity for customers today.

Google is my favorite example – because they really keep it simple, and understand the value of “less is more”.  Google’s homepage stays pure and simple, and other tech companies are starting to get it as well. It’s innovations biggest paradox: We demand more stuff in our lives, with more features, function adn power, and we also demand it remain as easy as 1,2,3 to use! As I said before – the technology that is the simpliest to use is often the most difficult to create.  Fast Company says, “the technology that powers Google’s search engine is, of course, anything but simple. In a fraction of a second, the software solves an equation of more than 500 million variables to rank 8 billion Web pages by importance. But the actual experience of those fancy algorithms is something that would satisfy a Shaker: a clean, white home page, typically featuring no more than 30 lean words; a cheery, six-character, primary-colored logo; and a capacious search box. It couldn’t be friendlier or easier to use.” As a creator, remember that no matter how much complexity you are able to fit into your product, at the end of the day, the consumer doesn’t care — they just want it to be easy and they want it to work!!

How can you cut out complexity from your product on the customer facing side? How can you make your brand, product, creation less complicated, and more simple? How can your creation be more like the In-N-Out Burger menu? hmmm

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Unveil your ideas, be ready to act on them.

I don’t normally buy into fortune cookies or any of that jazz, but last week I received a fortune that I now count as one of my life motto’s.  (True story: the fortune is tucked on the dash in my car, and has been for weeks). The fortune read, “Unveil your ideas, be ready to act on them.” Really it is more like advice than a fortune, and maybe that’s why it stuck with me. I think that life, career, ambition, and achievement are very centered around the idea of finding simple phrases and ideas such as this and letting them drive you towards you next goal, your next benchmark, and the inspiration that they provide move you forward. In the past couple weeks this phrase has been at the back of my mind as a motivator for me. Rather than keeping my ideas to myself, or simply keeping them scribbled in my massive and overly highlighted notebook — share them, speak up, UNVEIL them. But once you do this, be prepared, (never too prepared) have actions in mind, know the next steps ahead of time — and use your ideas to spur MOVEMENT in your company, in your brand, in your career, in your life.

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Corporate Blogs and Twittering

I have heard arguments both for and against blogging or twittering on behalf of a corporation. According to MediaWeek for the last several years, new marketing experts have implored corporations to “join the conversation,” namely through blogging. The problem being is that currently, several years into the blogging phenomenon, not many consumers trust these corporate blogs.  Personally, there are many corporate blogs I read, trust and enjoy. One of them is the Google Reader blog. I find it informative, personal and easy to relate to in the first person plural tone in which it is written. I think it’s possible to have a successful corporate blogging experience.  AdAge reported that 20% of the Fortune 500 have blogs.   Chris Baggott says, that “almost every one of those blogs are the traditional C-level, Thought Leadership kind of blather.” He claims that people don’t trust the C-level. The only successful corporate blogging approach is one that includes employees, because that’s where the trust factor comes in. Employees are the credible source. Does that mean that we can twitter or blog with a company/brand name if we first explain (in our profiles) that we are (name) blogging on behalf of (company) ??  Is that simple acknowledgement, of an individual actually typing the posts or sending the tweets, enough to earn a consumers trust?

I liked these Five Steps to a Successful Corporate Twitter Presence on how best to use corporate twitter accounts, when you do want to use a brand/company name for your twitter.

  1. Listen. It’s easy to set up and subscribe to a search of your brand or company name.
  2. Add value. Provide useful content for those that choose to follow you.
  3. Only follow when followed or mentioned. Having an anonymous entity follow you is a bit like receiving spam – you don’t know who it is or why you’re getting it. If your following:followers ratio is more than 2:1 then you are probably being a bit desperate.
  4. Reply. Respond to every tweet directed at you.
  5. Use replies rather than direct messages. Be transparent about what you’re saying to others on Twitter.

Is it a good move to introduce a blog for a personal brand or company if it’s the behind the scenes employees that do the posting and tweeting and own up to it?? Or is this still a risk for consumer mis-trust? What do you think?

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PR: What is it… and why do I care?

How can you convince a company, brand, or person who has never explored any sort of PR effort that PR is something they in fact DO sincerely need? I think it is important to support any argument, especially one of the necessity of Public Relations, with facts! So… what are the facts?  The facts are that marketing people clearly see the incredible value of PR.

Senior level marketers surveyed in 2005 by the Council of Public Relations Firms and Advertising Age said they perceive public relations to be most valuable in supporting product marketing and product launches.

Marketing executives surveyed that same year by PR Week were asked to compare the effectiveness of public relations to that of advertising and direct marketing for specific tasks. From the perspective of these executives, public relations is the most effective marketing discipline for launching a new product or service, building awareness, generating word of mouth, and building brand reputation.

Another important factor in explaining the value of our industry, is continually going BACK TO THE BASICS. (And let’s be honest, it’s always good to brush up on our ABC’s of PR so we don’t loose track in all the advertising/media/social web/etc, am I right?)  New comers to public relations need to understand that it is much more than a publicity or advertising effort alone.  So, the answer is to go back to the basics. In Glen Broom‘s “Effective Public Relations” he highlights the following areas to be implemented (not including research and other areas of preparation) as points of focus for a successful Public Relations effort.

  • Publicity: This is the most visible part of public relations. PR people must make judgments to providing the media with the information that they deem to be newsworthy.
  • Advertising: Provides a more control over content and placement than publicity does. PR can sometimes join forces with advertising department to promote through multiple mediums including but not limited to print, radio, TV, and internet.
  • Press Agentry: Public notice and attention (not necessarily public understanding). To a certain extent, any press is good press, and part of a successful PR plan would be to focus on press agentry.
  • Social Media: Creating a social web presence is now key to almost any successful public relations effort. Gaining and online recognizable brand will allow you to connect to your more common or average customers. It will also provide the unique opportunity to engage in true 2 way communication with you audiences while learning the industry trends and consumer habits.
  • Internal Relations:Keeping employees informed and motivated and promoting the culture and style of the company/brand. Internal newsletters are a good example of how to promote positive communication within an organization so that everyone is participating in effective communication.
  • Public Affairs:Building and maintaining relationship with target publics who influence public policy. Relationships could be built through endorsements/interviews/etc with the appropriate political figures.
  • Issues Management: Identifying issues early on with potential impact on your brand and forming a strategic response designed to capitalize on the consequences. The PR responsibility is to coach your company/brand spokesperson to respond to these potential problems before they become issues.
  • Business Development: Focusing on working to locate new development opportunities for the company/brand.

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