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I Was A 26 Year Old Blond Bombshell..On The Internet Part 1

I Was A 26 Year Old Blond Bombshell..On The Internet Part 1

(This is the crazy story on how I got involved in Social Media. It is too long to tell in great detail, but here are the key points to the history. If you are totally confused, check out the video below.)

It is true. Are you done laughing? Yes, I a 38 year old married father of 5, used to pretend to be a 26 year old bombshell on the ‘net. Want to  know the best part? It worked really well for networking and building my brand. Yep.  I would do my social networking under the name: Britney Mason. Here meet Britney-

Britney Mason

Britney Mason

Yep, she.. I mean I was a female avatar.

So at this point your totally confused, I know. Let me just tell you the story from the beginning, as I can best recall it.

In August 2005, I was up with my new born twins around 1:00 a.m. Doing my part so my beautiful wife could catch a few winks. I was reading TIME magazine learning about this new virtual world called, Second Life. (I’m not going to get into all the details of SL in this post, you can read more about it here.)

The first thing I was asked to do was pick a last name from a list and create my own first name.  As I looked down the list, the only semi-normal last name I could find was, Mason. As for a a first name, I had US magazine next to me with Britney Spears on the cover.  At that moment it all came together for me, Im going to pretend to be a girl in SL.

(Weird? Yep! Odd? For sure! Do you want to make all kinds of jokes at my expense right now? Yes, you do.  Done? Great)

Now I spent about 3 months in SL trying to figure out what the point was, what I needed to do to have fun, etc, etc. In the end, I got bored. I found really nothing interesting to do there.

Fast Forward to early 2006, I had been listening to Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code podcast since 2005. On one show Adam had mentioned his discovery of Second Life and how he was so excited about this new way to meet and interact with people. He went so far as to invite people to meet him in world, giving out his Avatar name of  “Adam Neumann”.


I thought to myself, why not log in and meet Adam Curry. Well that is exactly what I did.  Adam quickly responded to me, going so far as to invite me to his home. Over the next few days I would meet Adam “In World” and help him build out his avatar, Curry Castle and share tips and tricks. Now, Adam asked me point blank if I was really a woman.  I immediately  replied “Yes, of course!”

At the time Adam’s podcast was truly daily, so everyday he would mention something about SL, what we were up doing, who else was in SL.  As, we spent more time in SL and he updated listeners on his podcast, something interesting started to happen.  A community started to form around us.  I would get Instant Messages from people looking for Adam, or just wanting to chat. It was really exciting.

Then Adam approached me about a Second Life deal. What if we partnered up for a “Virtual Business”? A 50-50 deal.  He would fund it and I would run it. SL was just starting to grow by leaps and bounds, Real Life companies were starting to come in like Home Depot, Sears, IBM, and others. I was all in!

Now, a few other things were happening at this time. All sorts of Podcasters and also joined SL. They all would hang out at Curry Castle or maybe at a piece of virtual land they purchased nearby. There was Cali Lewis, Anji Bee, The Rumor Girls,  among many, many others. They in turn would go and talk about their experiences on their  respective podcasts.  The number of people joining the community just grew and grew because of this.

Seeing that we needed something more organized, I spoke to Adam, who agreed, it was time to purchase our own virtual island, PodShow Island. Podshow was Adam’s company which would later be called Mevio.

PodShow Island, in my opinion was a success when it launched. The sim was nothing but hustle and bustle.  Eventually many of us lost interest and moved on to Twitter. The island closed in March 2008

Yes, I have missed a lot of the details. Think of this as the cliff notes version if you will. So, please do not nit pick.   I wanted to give you this history so I can refrence it in future blog posts, when I discuss communities, networking and online branding. Oh, its also fun to go reminisce of where it all started for me!

Oh, so for those of you who are totally confused and wondering what is the point, check out the video below.

I think this video I did for CNBC somes it up really well.  Questions? Feel free to ask!

February 10, 2009 By : Category : Uncategorized Tags:, , , , , , ,

Social Media Where Do You Start?

Social Media Where Do You Start?


“Recently I asked a simple question to my community:

“What would be your best advice for someone brand new to social media?”

The response was huge! So here in no particular order are some of the many responses I got!

Gianluigi Cuccureddu, Web Marketing Strategist & Tactician: “Start listening and learning right now.Social Media/participatory marketing is here to stay, start researching how your target audience behaves and how it can help your business to achieve objectives. Start now because these insights aren’t created overnight, it takes time, patience and efforts to learn.”

Roxanne Weber, Principal , Dimension Solutions: “I’ve told business clients in the past to just start out slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your social network.
Start with one major social media effort (such as Facebook and/or Twitter), then build that up as best you can. Then move on to the next site; ideally you’ll be able to hook all these sites into one (although this is impossible to do 100%). Lastly, don’t expect connections to come to you – most people with 500+ Twitter followers get them by following others first, or joining groups designed for follow-sharing. In the digital world it is NOT true that “if you build it, they will come”. Like the real world, you have to actively work at building your network following.”

Jennifer Hoffmann, Manager, Customer Engagement for Dow Jones & Company: “Lots of great answers here! If your aim is to specifically build a community around issues relevant to your customers, listen first to what is being said and explore different forums that your customers participate in. Some interesting areas might emerge that you hadn’t considered before. In a funny example, my husband recently became a fan of “bacon” on Facebook. There is an entire fan page devoted to plain old bacon, the pork product. Now wouldn’t it be brilliant if that page were run by Oscar Meyer or Hormel? Unfortunately, I don’t think it is. Simply creating a group doesn’t mean all your customers and prospects will flock to it – start by adding value to other groups and build your network, then ask people to join your party.”

Scott Halstead, Manager, Event Marketing at The Boston Globe:”My best advise is not to be a talker, but respond to the hard work that people put in to pulling information and providing good content. Twitter has attracted some very smart people and given them the opportunity to share ideas, but the best people also comment on other people’s good ideas. For example, if you saw the success of a Truck Advertising NYC campaign on social media, it might be wise to reflect upon that in your own social media space.”

Josh Chernin, GM at Web Industries: “Be as helpful to others as you can. It will come around…”pay it forward”. (I love this one!)

So, what I see as the common theme in most of the responses: Listen and be helpful. I could not agree more!

What is your advice?

February 4, 2009 By : Category : Blog Social Media Tags:, ,
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I Am Going To Be The Biggest Loser!

I Am Going To Be The Biggest Loser!

losing-bigSo this post is totally off subject. It has nothing to do with Social Media, New Media, Social Networking or the such. I wanted to share with you that my New Years resolution is to lose weight. I need to drop a few pounds, shed the winter coat kind of thing.

One thing I have learned is I do really well in a “Social” setting. If there is a group of people counting on  me I am more likely to do something. For example, I currently am going to spin class 2 days a week, I have two friends who meet me there at 5:30 am. If I do not show up, I get a rash of fouled mouthed text messages and emails. Needless to say, you do not miss spin class.

So, the PCCC where we go decided to launch ” Losing Big” which is a team weight loss kind of thing. Here I will break down for you in list form, people like lists:

-Mandatory group workout

-Meeting with a nutritionist, life coach and personal trainer

-Weekly Weigh Ins (prizes for the person who loses the most, I like prizes)

You get the idea it is using the same idea of the t.v. show, The Biggest Loser

One thing that has been mentioned several times  by the “Blue Team” coaches is to tell your friends and family what you are doing so they can support you. So that is what I am doing. Telling you my community, cause I need all the  help I can get, trust me.  If you see any tweets, status updates or video with me eating anything I should not, call me out!  Maybe  If I am speaking at a conference and I start drinking a coke, feel free to come up to the  stage and take it away. We could be  at a tweetup and I whip out  a snickers , rip it from my carmel covered hand. Like Mr. T would


You know I started this post with the comment it would not be about Social Media, but in a way it is. Social Media is about communities, word of mouth and influence. So I am asking you my community to start using your influence to help me lose weight!

Lastly, do you even  want to hear about my weigh ins , highs, lows,moments of weakness,  etc during this 12 week torture.. I mean competition? My feelings will not be hurt if you don’t, I just don’t want to bore  you with all this. The website was not setup for this.  So, please let me know by leaving a comment one way or the other. Majority rules.

Okay I have 2 days till I start on Monday, so I am going out with a gut buster, Domminos Pizza tonight!


January 9, 2009 By : Category : Off Subject Tags:, , , ,
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An Open Letter to KTVU..My Local Fox Affilate

An Open Letter to KTVU..My Local Fox Affilate

Dear KTVU,
First I need you to know, I have been watching Channel 2 since I was like 5. Heck I remember the old theme song you know “There is only one..two!”, hear I don’t sing well, listen to it yourself:

Boy that was catchy back in the day. You ought to think about bring… sorry I am off on a tagent.

Look I am sending you this letter, not because I hate you, dislike you..though it would be nice if you played more MASH reruns, I do like MASH… sorry back to the point. In this day of people watching less tv, reading less newspapers, companies like you need to do whatever you can to stay current and go where the people are. I get that. So I was thrilled when I found out KTVU was on Twitter!

I thought how cool! I can send messages to the newsroom, get interesting info about stories your working on, what Ross is up to. I did love him on People Are Talking  back on KPIX.

Whatever happened to Ann anyway?

So imagine my dismay when I went to your Twitter page and saw this:


It is just links to videos. I can see this on your site or heck the 10:00 news. It is well..boring. There is nothing interesting here.  No, there is no rule that you have to be intresting or exciting, you can do what you want on Twitter, as Eric Rice kindly points out. Let me give you a few pointers though. I will do in in list form as people like lists:

-Do not just post links it well to quote Mike Mcallen it is “spammy”

-Give us some behind the scenes information, stories your working on. Funny things going on. Tell us something we can not see on the broadcast

-This is important, interact with other twitter followers. I said “Hi” to you yesterday and you never replied. Heck DarthVader says Hi, and he is a Sith Lord.

-Learn from NBC’s Today Show mistakes on Twitter. They did exactly what you did with nothing but links, now check it out. They answer peoples questions on Twitter and interact, heck they make funny comments and everything!

-Act like your part of the community. See NBC’s Today Show above.

-Try getting Twitter involved with your news team. Ask for leads, read users responses online. Take polls. The Twitterverse is yours for the taking.

So please dont take this the wrong way, I am on your side. I just want to help you with the learning curve! I know you can do it.. cause well there is only one two.. 😉

Hope to see you on Facebook!


January 6, 2009 By : Category : Blog Open Letter Tags:, , , , , , ,
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People Are Talking…Are You Listening?

People Are Talking…Are You Listening?


Today a friend reached out to me.  She works for a very big, well know company. She asked me a simple question.

“How do we monitor our brand online?”

My response was “You guys get it!”. She responded with a very puzzled tone (as my wife does to me a lot) : “We do?”

“Yes, you do” Your company is taking the first step of looking into what people are saying about your brand online and learning how to deal with brand monitoring”

Okay, so enough of my little cut scene from a conversation. Let me give you some links to tools and resources that help companies monitor what people are saying online about them. We will do it in list form, as people like lists:

Twitter Search which use to be called Summize before Twitter bought it. You simply type in keywords and you can see people who have used that word in a tweet.

Social Mention searchs Google blog search, Delicious, FriendFeed, Digg, Twitter, Youtube and such and puts it into a nice package for you.

Google Alerts An amazing tool by the folks at well, Google. Put in keywords and it will send you alerts when people use those words. This searches Google so we are talking about anywhere on the web that Google indexes, which is well, almost everywhere.

Backtype allows you to search blog comments.  Users need to register and it will monitor the url you put in the chat. Then pulls all the comments back to one place for you to search.

Yacktrack monitors lots of different social networking sites and allows you to see which sites your brand is being mentioned on vs another.

These are just some of the several tools that are out there. If there are some I have missed, please post them in the comments so I can add them to an updated list.

I used the term brand and keyword when writing this post. What is it you should be monitoring when following your brand? I think you should look at:

-Company Name

-Your Product

– Competition

-Your Company Executives (and your competitions)

– Clients

All right now, get out there and see what people are saying about you!

December 30, 2008 By : Category : Blog New Media Tags:, , , , , , , , ,
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Your Week In Review

Your Week In Review

Thought I would try something different and share what I have been reading, researching, working on, or just excited about.  Since I have been lagging with my Facebook and Twitter posts.  Of course I will do this in list form because people like lists!

The Social Media Expert Question How do I become a Social Media Expert? I get the question a lot Here is CC Chapman’s response to the term. I thought he nailed it very well

Do Brands Belong on Twitter? Here is a very different take on the question.  I don’t agree with all his points, especially banning them altogether.  The author makes some great points though.

10 Tips For Getting New Twitter Followers His tips are excellent and right to the point. Its worth a read.

General Mills’ Pssst…is a Weak Stab at Branded Community GM gets a gold star for trying, but its a swing and a miss. Trying to build an online community is not as easy as it seems. Check out Paul’s review.

BlogWorld & New Media Expo Now One Super Huge Event! About time! This is a great move for both! This makes me fired up to go. Some of you may remember my review of New Media Expo , on my other blog. It got some interesting feedback.

SXSW is coming. Its one of the biggest and the best. Are you going?

Community 2.0 is a great conference coming up in May 2009 you may want to check out. I am thrilled to be part of it.

Let me know if you like this Week In Review format. If so, I will do my best to keep doing it. It is always good to try something new!

Have  a Great Weekend!

December 12, 2008 By : Category : Blog Tags:, , ,
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How Do I build A Brand Online?

How Do I build A Brand Online?

Have you heard the term ” Online Branding” and wonder what the heck it means? Let’s start with what a brand can be. It can be:

-a symbol

-a name

-a term

-a sign

-a design

– or any combination of those

So you have figured out what the base of your brand will be. Now you need to build it up online. Get the word how so to speak.

When your try to build or create a brand online you want to take certain steps to help make this happen. What are those steps? I will share with you some of what I consider the basic building blocks. Let’s see, how should I share these with you? I know let’s do it in list form, people like lists..

-You should have a website that follows K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). It should be clear and to the point. Let visitors know who you are, what you’re about, what you do and why it should matter to them.(my father in laws favorite point) Oh and the website should look good and implement SEO techniques (companies like Victorious could prove essential to you if you want to improve in this domain) to drive traffic to their website. Remember it reflects your brand. It is the first thing people see when they are learning about you. Moreover, every company, regardless of niche, has the same objective: to convert visitors into customers. To be able to achieve that, one needs to give more attention to the design of their website, ensure a good user experience, and have an interface that is easy to use. That said, you can browse around these guys to find out more about how to make your website more user-friendly and attract more costumers.

Something that drives me nuts, companies who try to push their brand online via twitter with a company logo. Come on.. a company does not blog, share, or do things. It is the people behind the company that do it. I want to know them. So put a picture of a real life person up on the page. I want to see who I am talking to. It helps people well, bond.

-Leave comments, post to forums and message boards. If you are trying to sell soda, go to a soda forum and join the conversation. Now when your there don’t just push your product. You need to help others and give good information. Maybe post links where people can find the info they are looking for. Join the conversation.

-Pictures, people like pictures. Show people what you are doing. Where you are located. Give them a picture to associate with. Like this:

-Either create a fan page on Facebook or a newsletter. Heck do both. Let people join in and feel like they are part of something. Make it a community.

-When you are blogging, tweeting, updating your status, plurking, etc.. talk to your users. Do not lecture them. Do not post just about your product. Make it a two way conversation. It is about building relationships.

Remember your message about your brand should be consistent. Oh and you need to understand the likes and dislikes of your target demographic. This I learned from Harvard Business Review on Marketing which Chris Brogan told me read.

How would you build a brand online?

December 11, 2008 By : Category : Blog Tags:, , ,
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How not to Cannibalize Fansites Or Can't We All Just Get Along?

How not to Cannibalize Fansites Or Can't We All Just Get Along?
Yesterday, I put out a call to my social networks for blog topics regarding social media.  The response was incredible! The first question I received was from Meghan Rodberg. She asks:
“How does an MMO company introduce features through their own websites that fansites have traditionally provided (eg wikis), without cannibalizing those fansites? :)”
First, for those of you that dont know, a MMO is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. Think World Of Warcraft, Everquest, and Diablo among others. A place where lots of users interact. A lot of these users really get into these games and create fansites. These sites offer anything from a place for users to share game hints, support, fan fiction/artwork, wikis and well community.
I’m going to assume a few things about Meghan and her MMO company:
– They have an existing MMO company with a MMO product that runs as a desktop application.
– There are fan sites already out on the web
-They want to offer more services, information, tools to their users with the goal of users staying on/within the MMO webpages.
So how do they do offer these services without cannibalizing the others? Better yet how do they do it without making their users mad? The users who created these pages are no doubt what we call Power Users.
Well I see a few options here, all share them in list form, people like lists.
-Why reinvent the wheel? If the sites exist and you have Power Users behing them, which has traffic and a community, enforce, why not just link to them? No doubt these PU know your product really well. They are your number#1 evangelist.  Why not just link to their site as a resource?  You will save time, money and you have created your own company evangelist.
-If you’re not comfortable with the sites being outside your control, then bring those people in with their fansites. Have them work for you. Yep, integrate those fansites into your MMO pages. Again you have created your own evangelist. You bring those users who use these pages to your sites and you have not recreated the wheel. I hate doing that.
– I ask this question to you. If the wikis are already out there. The users have fansites that do this. They must be passionate about the MMO. Why do you need to offer wikis? As you stated your afraid it will cannibalize the fansites. I agree.
-Something to keep in mind here. This is very dangerous territory.  A company like this  needs fans/users who are evangelists. Its where the business comes from. The MMO needs to make sure to respect these third party sites. There needs to be compromise, they need to find a way to work together. This may be from linking to them, to asking them, what they want to see on the MMO site. A focus group could be a good thing here. Maybe there is something better then wikis that the company can offer.
What do you guys think? How would you solve the problem?
October 17, 2008 By : Category : Blog Tags:, , ,
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Need Help? Ask Your Community!

Need Help? Ask Your Community!

The last few days I have been hurting for ideas for blog posts. I was not feeling it. Maybe I have writers block. I’m just not sure.

Well about 2:00 today I thought “How can I get an idea for a blog post?”

Where the heck can a social media, online community advocate type get an idea for a blog post… hmmmm

Oh wait! I can ask my community! I preach to companies all the time to “Ask Their Community” go back to their community. I did not practice what I preach.  Maybe the writers block has grown into “Social Media Block” or something.

So i went to my community and asked for  ideas for a blog post. Within 10 minutes I  had..count em.. 7 ideas that were kick ass. Just like that! I have been banging my head trying to come up with something and I got them with one post to my networks. One single post got my 7 amazing responses.  So there you have it, the power of having online networks.

So thank you all who responded like Scott Place, Meghan Rodberg, Joel Postman, The Diva, Netvalar, indieradiochatt, and DylanFan.  I will do my best to blog about each of your questions in the next few days!

October 16, 2008 By : Category : Uncategorized Tags:,
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