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Recap: Speaking at WordCamp Chicago 2009

Truly an outstanding weekend! Thanks again to Brain Gardner and Lisa Sabin-Wilson for organizing an outstanding event event! Other than venue issues with Wifi access, it went as smooth as glass.

It was also nice to meet Matt Mullenweg and Jim Turner in person for the first time.  Having all of my great friend from the Chicago SEO friendly meetup group was awesome as well.

It was fun to be part of a late afternoon speaking trio that put myself in between Kevin Palmer and Micah Baldwin. My talk was about the lessons of social media and search engine marketing measurement and how the driver is truly becoming web analytics management consulting to determine the proper course of action in the content strategy revolution. On your domain and blog you own your terms of service, on a social network you do not – this has major implications that need to be considered deciding what is the right path for your content. The talk got some nice reactions both offline and online…


All in all, it was an outstanding weekend and I made some great new friends.  I’m looking forward to Wordcamp Chicago 2010!

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Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2008: The Convergence Combo: Advertisers, Agencies, Automation… Oh My!

Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR

Craig Macdonald, VP of Marketing & Product Development, Covario Inc.
Ellen Watson, Relationship Marketing Manager for Child Care Brands, Kimberly-Clark Corp.

This is a live session blog from Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2008, please excuse any typos and/or fragments. Thank you!

Ellen Watson – Kimberly Clark:

Paid search strategy requires balance:
Budget, Volume and Traffic Quality

2007 Strategy at Kimberly Clark was like this:
Fixed Budget
Max CPC set
Campaigns optimized for conversions

Impression share
Average position
Branded terms vulnerable

2008 Strategy now looks like this:
Maximize impressions share
Compete aggressively for top terms
Maintained good conversion

Increased budget
Regular monitoring

Agency partner priorities:
Forecast annual budget
Managed bids daily
Changed reporting to include new metrics
Adjusted match type, ad copy, landing pages to maintain performace

Global Search Lessons Learned:
US engines sufficient for North American campaigns
Server location is a big issue for international and localized sites – ip address of the site should be in the same country as the address of the server, but local may require a large investment in IT infrastructure

Craig McDonald, Covario:

The New (economic) Reality:
PPC growth at 5-10% level (down from 35%+ growth)
Need to get more from SEO
NO headcount increases in foreseeable future
Squeeze 15% cost improvements out of programs
3 month payback periods, max

The Role of Technology
Paid Search – campaign management automation
Natural Search – automation of audits and tracking and performance
Comprehensive Search Management – SEO/ content convergence, Automation PPC program impact on natural search results

There was then a lively question and answer session on spending in organizations.

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The Washington Post Needs to Check The Facts

There is currently a crisis emerging in mainstream media. It is called, we don’t check the facts or seek quotes from other parties in the know on a subject to see if it is correct or not before we publish. Don’t get me wrong, Sarah Halzack’s article, “Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere” is actually filled with highly useful and well researched information about blog usage in companies big and small. I actually love the Washington Post for it’s linking to sources and its page numbers on the online article – these provide great context and are things other newspapers would be wise to learn (and implement) pronto. It is a newspaper that overall that “gets it”.

However, her assertion that Jason Calacanis has “retired from blogging” is utter complete nonsense that indicates a lack of research into the issue that distracts from an otherwise excellent article.

As you likely know, Jason Calacanis now has an email newsletter that seems to have a rather well organized “guest blogger” distribution network associated with it. Though Jason will likely never admit it publicly, it appears this was his plan all along. I have to tip my hat to him in as much as it actually increases his overall distribution network. Jason (and his “dogs”) also use Twitter which is called micro-blogging. Wikipedia defines it this way (as of this writing)

“Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.”

So to say Jason has retired from blogging is, in reality at this time, factually inaccurate. But a simple reaching out to other bloggers and sources by the Washington Post could have easily revealed this issue. This is important as others may misinterpret “Jason’s retirement” and it could adversely affect someone’s blogging strategy due to such misinformation.

Sarah – could you please check out the situation a little deeper in the future so that thousands of people aren’t misinformed?

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Could Twitter Actually Have a Business Model in Keywords?

Biz Stone got this directionally correct, it is just not in a format that is usable in real time, yet…

If I were the lead product manager at Twitter, I’d be setting up two primary screens:

1) Keywords across the entire network overall which toggle switches for the frequency compared to normal (it would be cool if this was somehow “normalized” so that less frequent words with huge percentage increases actually got noticed – so that everything wasn’t Angelina Jolie, Barack Obama, Brad Pitt, Michael Arrington, Jason Calacanis, Fred Wilson, etc).

2) Graphs and/or alert spikes of user defined keywords – ie ones that are important to oneself personally or to one’s business or clients. I would dare to say this might actually be a business model that could lead to meaningful monetization – I think alot of web services haven’t thought this through nearly enough. Organizing real-time data for useful decision making as a business model worked out OK for Michael Bloomberg if I recall correctly. Some might say Google Trends does this already from a search perspective, but it doesn’t break down the word clusters to core words with “sidekicks” and is not the leading indicator that Twitter is by an uncertain but definite time margin.

Before I’d get to this though, Twitter would have to become stable and Twitter would have to fix the AIM problem I posted about on June 1 and have not gotten a response to yet. Good luck on getting those items in order first, then feel free to give me a shout Biz. 🙂

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TECH cocktail CONFERENCE Chicago – Creating Change For The Future

Wow! That was tiring, I stepped on the L at 7:30AM and didn’t get home until 1:30AM the next morning! 18 hours of pure madness! Most people noticed the great speeches by Gary Vee from Wine Library TV and Dick Costolo (aka ask the wizard) and others. But what I really appreciated was the other things that the day brought to me. When Frank Gruber and Eric started TECH cocktail, one of the goals was to enable the interaction of people and removing barriers between entrepreneurs, funding sources and removing the boundaries between Chicago and the rest of the world.

When I sit at the first TECH cocktail CONFERENCE Chicago watching great speeches and meeting people from startups from both the east and west coasts while talking, playfully joking about Internet concepts and trading ideas with a local Chicago angel investor in the back of the room for hours on end – it’s at that moment one can clearly perceive a vision is starting to become reality…

For a first conference, it was very well run. There were those little things with a venue that didn’t go quite right with the elevators and not having enough power outlets (but you could say that about any conference) but those were out of their direct control. You could see that Eric and Frank went out of their way to challenge the audience about topics that too often go ignored at startups, like how to set up a corporate entity properly, partnerships and most of these challenges and experiments went well.

So what’s next? I’d like to challenge each and every person in TECH cocktail community to take things to the next level by taking the following actions:

1. Follow Up – People need to work to get to know each other better and learn to leverage each person’s special gifts and talents and realize that 1 + 1 > 2 when we behave in this manner. For me, I know that creating new business partners while listening to help iterate the product, data model or service is my area of strength.

2. Change TECH cocktail from an event to an everyday process on your own – a three month cycle time is not sufficient to build relationships to the next level – it’s everyone’s responsibility to make an hour here and there to sit down with someone, learn about what they are doing, give them a fresh perspective and potential assistance. Don’t wait for the next TECH cocktail event. If this means you need to organize your contact info, make that important time investment.

3. Listen to what Dick Costolo had to say about Internet company NDAs and then change your behavior accordingly (where is the video of that speech anyway?)Stop sending people NDAs that serve no purpose other than to destroy your access to people who are the most qualified to help you. Ideas are a dime a dozen, assembling the right people with the current knowledge and future potential to create that reality is what matters.

4. Go beyond lurking, participate!!! During the conference, I had at least 10 people talk to me about a blog post of mine in detail, yet they’ve never left a comment on my blog. That’s sad. Leaving a comment leaves you a hyperlink back to your business or blog and allows distribution of one’s business network organically removing them as the bottleneck, please use this viral tool.

5. Learn to hire people for their current knowledge, network, blogs and future potential – not legacy job titles and brands – this takes work, research and being involved in the community, but it is how you’ll find the breakthrough thought leaders and future superstars.

6. Become an ambassador to expanding the understanding of the tools we all use and expand our base of understanding to new people outside our core – If you have a client or operate a service do they understand what Internet advertising, blogs, rss, social media, twitter, etc do? If they do is their organizational culture and structure set up to handle it to serve a customer’s needs? Many people know there is a problem but do not know where to start to fix it – I want to help those people as it will ease the adoption and enhance demand for disruptive new Internet services. I’m planning a series of future posts on this important, yet highly untouched topic. If you have examples of success stories or learnings in this area, I’d love to hear from you.

What else would you add to this list? I look forward to your contributions.

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Happy 2nd Blog Birthday

I’ll keep this short. It’s not about me, it’s about *you*, my friends around the world who create a business network that empower me to reach people and accomplish things that I could never do all on my own. To all of you who practice the words below, I love you and thank you for your continued help and encouragement in my life adventures and for pushing me forward towards my goals of creating highly monetizable ventures:

“Businesses are not paid to reform customers. They are paid to satisfy customers.”

Peter Drucker

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Jack Welch

“Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity.”

Michael Porter

“Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.”

W. Edwards Deming

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton

To the rest of you, there is still hope for you and encourage you to come over to the other side. 🙂

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Remembering SOBcon08 – My House Guest Andrew Dubber…

I got a call from Liz Strauss to claim my apartment’s extra space a day or two before the event. It was determined that Andrew Dubber would be my house guest during SOBcon08. Andrew, pictured on the left below, has a personal blog and his primary blog, New Music Strategies.

Andrew was a fascinating guest! He was ultra low maintenance and had great stories to tell about living in New Zealand and then moving to the UK,  the music industry and his love for jazz (all too rare in the UK). He is the proud new owner of a Leica D-Lux 3 camera – which takes ultra sweet photos, even at high speed on Lake Shore Drive! More importantly I think I experienced several new things about Chicago that I never had before such as Chicago’s many jazz clubs and music stores. Andrew experienced Italian Beef (pictured below), Greektown and tasty BBQ ribs and cornbread! I’m glad he stopped by for a visit and I hope to see Andrew again someday soon!