Archive for category Social Networking
These days the number one risk associated with social media for business is doing nothing at all. The old excuses of not enough people use it for business, and all I ever see on social is pictures of kittens are over. In fact, today 7 out of 10 Financial Advisors using social networks for business; LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to form or join groups of like-minded customers and colleagues for discussions pertinent to our business, Facebook allows us to connect with colleagues on a personal and business level, and Twitter keeps us all connected and informed in real time. Social is here to stay. Recently Actiance Social Media Expert, Victor Gaxiola, stopped by the BrightTALK studios and filmed his thoughts on why you need to embrace social for a competitive edge.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how social has given you a competitive edge, please leave a comment below.
It’s been a week since I’ve returned from the South by Southwest (SxSW) Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. As a first time visitor, I’ve now had enough time to reflect on the SxSW experience and the lessons learned along the way. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since my only experience with the event had been through the stories of others and vicariously following the event hashtag #SXSW on Twitter. After 7 days of SxSW in real life (IRL) I’m not sure there is anything that can prepare you for the experience- it’s something you just need to see and live for yourself. However, the 21 tips that I share below may help you with things to do, consider, and avoid.
Victor Gaxiola’s Tips on attending SxSW
1. Book your ticket and hotel early-Travel and hotel accommodations are sparse and the earlier you register and book your airfare and hotel, the better. I booked early and still ended up 5 miles south of Downtown and would be forced rent a car, take a shuttle or cab. None of these options were attractive to me. The closer you can get to Downtown the better because it will mean less waiting, less transportation hassles, and less traffic. If you know you are going to SxSW, don’t hesitate to book asap.
2. Get to sessions with plenty of time- With over 30,000 participants this past year, up nearly 25% from last year, it would be easy to understand why some of the more interesting sessions sell out. I learned this quickly when I arrived to a session on “How Twitter Has Changed How We Watch TV” 45 minutes early to find the room already full of people. In another session by Google on “How Will Art, Copy & Code Re-imagine Advertising” the doors were closed and no new attendees admitted 30 minutes before the session. Bottom line, if there is something you really want to see and experience, get there early.
3. Meet people- It’s called interactive for a reason and most people arrive, plug in, work, network and make the best of the wait before a session or as they stand in lines (and there are plenty of lines). This is a great time to meet people who share a common interest. You learn a lot from their perspective. Ask them where they work, what they do, and what the session will do to help them with their current challenges and/or opportunities. This is your tribe, embrace it and learn from it.
4. Be Selective- with SO many sessions to choose from during the event you are likely to be overwhelmed with the schedule and need to make hard choices on what to see and what to miss. My advice, is to take some time to look through the entire schedule and first highlight the ones you are interested in, maybe place a star on the ones you really want to see. Do a first pass, then do another pass later on and be more judicious in you selections. I strongly recommend you look up the presenters, their background and current role(s) as well as the makeup of the agenda and panel. In addition, mix it up and build some variety in the schedule by selecting topics that may be correlated, but not the same. If you go to ALL the storyteller sessions, you’ll start to get a lot of overlap and common themes, so mix it up.
5. Be Present- this was probably the hardest one for me and many others. With so much going on it’s easy to get distracted with what is happening in the session. Listen and learn. If you spent 30-45 minutes waiting to have a seat in the session, the least you can do is listen. I appreciated it when the session would have it’s own unique hash tag providing us in the session and those outside to experience the presentation and discussion via Twitter. At times, tweets were monitored by the panel members ON STAGE providing an opportunity for real time response. The “Be Present” advice, however, also applies to time outside the sessions. For instance, after completing our final event #UNLEASHsxsw the team assembled on the roof to enjoy a celebratory drink and at one point everyone one of us was glued to our smart phone, monitoring Twitter, responding to email and overall ignoring each other. Again- Be Present
6. Pick up on the themes and trends of the conference- be aware of the common themes that surface both in the scheduled sessions and also in the conversations during down time. This past year there was a lot of talk on Big Data and the effect it will have on business. Other topics included Grumpy Cat and the OREO Moment- referring to the nimble action of OREO to take advantage of the Super Bowl IIII power outage to quickly create an ad that went viral. Ask yourself and others what are the key takeaways from the event?
7. Be part of the conversation - Using Twitter hash tags makes this easier and I build a list of SXSW people I was meeting along the way, including speakers, panel members and party goers to keep the information flowing. I found some of my best interaction taking place with Twitter in experiencing sessions and events.
8. ABC- Always be charging- All this activity will lead to dead batteries. This year AT&T had charging stations around the convention center for people to load up between sessions and power outlets were in high demand. I suggest you carry a 6 foot multi-outlet extension cord to allow you to plug in a few items at one time. This was one of the reasons why our lounge was so popular.
9. Meet the Presenters or Panel Members- If possible, stick around after the presentation or workshop to meet the presenters. Often they are the though leaders in their space and I made a point to meet them, thank them for their presentation and in a few instances have a conversation. At the last panel session I attended one of the speakers invited me to connect online to continue the conversation. This is powerful and so easy to do it’s amazing to me that others don’t take advantage of this access.
Presenters like knowing that they are adding value and made an impression. I know I do. Of course, this will only work if you have the time to do it and haven’t crammed your schedule so tightly that you need to run to the next session to ensure you get a seat or at least in the room. Which brings me to the next pointer.
10. Be Aware of the Geography- Get familiar with Austin- not just the convention center, but downtown and the surrounding areas. Events for SxSW are spread across multiple venues over an area that is roughly a square mile. Getting from the Convention Center to the AT&T Conference Center at the University of Texas is about 1 mile away. A long walk, uphill if you are pressed for time.
11. Get a Bike- Whether you buy one, rent one, or bring your own, I cannot imagine doing SxSW without one. I became so attached to the bike I bought that I brought it home with me. I credit the bike for helping me see more sessions and more of Austin. It also allowed me to do the following two tips.
12. Get to know Austin- Get outside of the Austin Convention Center and Downtown area. I especially liked the South Congress area with it’s boutique shops and quirky food trucks. A new favorite is Hopdoddy where you can get gourmet burgers and craft beers.
13. Workout- Having the bike provided me the opportunity to workout in the morning and evening during my rides to/from the festival and between the sessions in different venues. Working out helps clear the mind and breaking into a sweat may provide you the boost you need to keep you going.
14. Eat Healty, or at least try- It’s easy to fall into bad habits and there is a lot of tempting treasures to be found in Austin. That late night corn dog may seem like a good idea at 2am, but won’t feel that way the next morning.
15. Visit the Expo- The expo provided me an opportunity to slow down and take a look at what is being developed by so many different companies from all over the world. I enjoyed meeting familiar names and seeing all the clever attempts to get my attention. A crowd favorite was a grown man dressed in an angel ballerina outfit dancing around with a harp. Really.
15. Pace Yourself- SxSW is a marathon, not a sprint and you’ll need to be selective on how you spend your time. It would be easy to stay up every night, but the body would not forgive you the next day. Find a balance that works for you that rests both the body and the mind, and give yourself permission to have an early night now and then. Don’t worry there will be plenty of opportunities the next day to have another drink or visit another venue.
16. Go out, have a plan, be prepared to break it- The one constant is change, and this applies to SxSW. Plans will change, the venue or restaurant will be full, you are not on the list, etc. etc. Be prepared to change plans by having multiple options. If you travel with a group, get everyone’s suggestion, make a decision and just go with it. Being social is fun.
17. If you want to meet someone, schedule it in advance- It is very difficult to meet someone at SxSW if you haven’t already made plans to get together in the first place. There is just too much going on and too many distractions for you to expect that you’ll just be able to make an meeting happen. My advice is to schedule an appointment with someone you want to meet BEFORE you get to SxSW and stick to it. Be realistic of your time and pick something that is convenient for you both.
18. Don’t suffer from the fear of missing out (FOMO)- Every day there will be multiple sessions and parties you’d like to attend, and the reality is, you can’t make all of them. Don’t let the FOMO haunt you and keep you from enjoying where you are, and who you are with- like I said in #5 above- be present. It may seem like the other party is more fun, however it’s likely to be more of the same. Cut your expectations in half, enjoy the moment and the people you are with, have another drink and relax.
19. If you want to meet someone at night, meet where you are going, not where you are- If you ignore #17 above then at the very least agree to meet where you are going to be. People move quickly in the Austin SxSW party scene and it’s much easier to agree to meet at the next venue, than to try to meet at the venue you are at. Texting/Tweeting helps with this exchange as most places are too loud to have a phone conversation and who uses the phone today anyway?
20. Be nice to the people of Austin- During SxSW many Austin locals clear out of town to stay away from the noise, traffic and people. However, there are many who stay to work and volunteer at the festival. For nearly 3 weeks the place is taken over by us loud and obnoxious out of town guests. As a guest, I think it’s good manners to be polite to our hosts and be kind to the people of Austin. Call it Texan hospitality, but I found the people to be warm and charming and very helpful. Thank them, be friendly and then go home.
21.Expect the unexpected- sometimes the best experiences are unplanned and happen on a moment’s notice. The trick is to embrace it, seize it, and then make it work for you. What will be your OREO moment?
Finally, have fun taking in the sights and sounds of the festival. I enjoyed my visit and know that I’ll be better prepared the next time around. I hope these tips help you too.
If you’ve attended the event in the past and have your own to share, be sure to add them to the comment section below.
Awhile back, I received a special promotion from the Big Telephone Company (BTC) for blindingly fast internet, telephone and cable. For less than the Big Cable Company (BCC)! Sounds good, I’ll take it.
I called the Sales Department to sign up, but was told, “Sorry Ms. Belbey. That service is not available in your area.” “But I received a letter!”, I exclaimed. Hmmm. Why on earth wasn’t my zip code suppressed in the mailing? Disconnect #1: Personalized direct marketing campaign didn’t match service availability.
Ok fine. I decided to go ahead with phone and internet. I explained that although there was a jack in the bedroom, I wanted my phone and internet in the living room. (Yes, I know that I could use a cordless phone, or wifi, but I want to plug in.) Therefore, I needed a technician to install a jack.
A technician arrived, plugged the router into the jack in the bedroom and told me I was all set to go. I explained again that I needed a jack to be installed in the living room and the technician explained, “I don’t install jacks, call Customer Service”.
So I called Customer Service and set up an appointment. A router arrived by mail, I received a voice mail confirming the appointment and another voice mail congratulating me on my new service. But no technician. That happened three times. Disconnect #2: Lack of communication between departments.
At this point, I gave up, called BTC and told them to forget it. I also asked for some mailing slips and boxes to return their four routers. I shipped them back and thought it was over.
I received bills during this time, but ignored them as I thought I didn’t owe anything as I never accessed the system. I assumed there was a disconnect with Billing too. But, next thing I knew, I received a letter from a collections agency.
Yikes! I called Customer Service again, determined to resolve this once and for all.
Over the course of a 90-minute phone call, I escalated the issue three times until I reached a “manager” who wasn’t reading from a script. She bordered on nasty. She said that she had no record of my multiple interactions and that in order to cancel the service, I would need to pay the bill in full, contact Billing and all three credit agencies. Huh? She assured me that I would receive some credit at some point. In essence, she had me over a barrel. And she knew it. To protect my credit rating, I reluctantly mailed a check. Disconnects #3, #4 and #5: No access to customer records, lack of common sense, lack of respect for a customer with an existing account for 30+ years.
During that 90-minute phone call, I started tweeting very politely at BTC asking for help. Within moments, I received a perky reply (How can we help? We’re here for you!) and was asked to direct message (DM) the issue. After a few DMs, I received a link to file a compliant, and even another upbeat tweet to make sure I was able to submit the form. Within 24 hours, I received a phone call from a lovely women from the “Presidential Escalation Response Team”. It was as though I was talking to two very different companies. She had done her homework. She asked me in her broad New Jersey accent, “Let me see if I got this straight. You were billed for a service you never used, your account’s in collections and you want to cancel the service and get your money back and have no problem with your credit. Did I get that right? “Yup, that’s it”, I said.
“No problem! I’ll fix it”. And she did.
Disconnect #6: Frustrating, time consuming traditional customer service in stark contrast to responsive, smart and friendly customer service via social media.
It was clear that BTC had hired, trained and empowered their social media team to be customer-centric. They were friendly and smart and I enjoyed our interactions. Unlike their traditional customer service which was, er, less enjoyable.
No more traditional customer service for me. I’ll just tweet!
Is your firm disconnected?
South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Team Actiance provided a relaxing lounge for people to recharge their phones and minds with good food, drink and conversation. It even led to our own Harlem Shake video on Sunday.
Here are some of the photos from our 3 day event with invited guest and friends. Thank you to Jeff Cutler for sharing his photos.
The life of a commuter. For me, it really is a love-hate relationship. I’ve never been opposed to long distance automobile travel, as I’ve been commuting 30 minutes plus, daily ever since high school, and now I’m already one year out of college, still commuting to my second home here at Actiance. One thing I am grateful for is that I’m fortunate enough to have a carpool. I suggest taking this tactic for anyone who plans to commute 30+ minutes to work and you know for a fact, there’s going to be traffic…every morning! Finding my carpool is actually a funny story. About the second or third day on the job, I was going through orientation, meeting everybody and listening to presentations from my future colleagues as they taught me everything there was to know about the company. As I’m listening to a “Facebook Best-Practices” presentation given to me by none other than Actiance’s pride and joy, @VictorGaxiola, I see on his Facebook timeline, “Moved to Morgan Hill, California – 2008.” ARE YOU JOKING ME! I come to find out one of my colleagues (who has now grown to be one of my partners in crime), Victor, lives literally 5 minutes away from me in Morgan Hill. Coincidence? No, I think he’s followed me here. Okay, back to the topic.
As an experienced commuter, I’ve seen my share of absurd, enraged, and flat out ridiculous drivers, and even passengers! It might just be me, but there’s something absolutely hilarious about driving on the 101, relaxed, in traffic, listening to music on your way to work, when suddenly you look out of the window to your right, and see a grown man singing his heart out to @CarlyRaeJepsen’s #CallMeMaybe…although it did sound amazing. Jokes aside, I do appreciate how social commuting can actually be, physically as well as social-networkingly (yes, I made it up). Let me explain, on my 40-45 minute ride up to work with my colleague, we ALWAYS talk about random things – the latest trends on twitter, who won which #Oscars2013, how the weekend was, the new social network of the week, etc. It’s great to just relax and talk to someone freely before you arrive at work. If you think about it, the freeway/road is almost a social network of its own. One huge road successfully connecting everybody to their destination so they can see the people they need to see, as they communicate with other drivers on the road with hand gestures, car-blinkers, signals, etc.
This brings me to one of my favorite apps that should be on every commuter’s iPhone or android smartphone, because I know you have them!
@WAZE (www.waze.com). The FREE GPS Navigation App with Turn by Turn, but that’s not all it is.Waze connects you to the largest community of drivers on the road, where you can share real-time traffic information with other users around you. This app can help you and others avoid traffic and give you road-alerts so you can get where you need to go faster and possibly keep you from getting that dreaded traffic ticket! One of my favorite parts of Waze it that it learns your routes as you drive them more often, so when traffic is up ahead, or someone has submitted a road alert, Waze will automatically give you a better route to take if possible. I wouldn’t leave home without this app on my iPhone, it’s such a cool idea and helps out tremendously, I recommend!
I think a lot of us look at the commute as a monotonous yet necessary chore and sometimes even take it for granted, we should transform that notion. I typically like to find the silver lining in things that seem rather dull and tedious. Rather than sit in traffic enraged, I challenge you to find something fun to do while on the road, find a way to contribute to the social commuter’s community. Maybe find a fellow commuter who is stuck in the same traffic you are, then wave and smile at them, make their day. Use your commute to get in the right mindset before you arrive at work or school. Think of the commute almost like a buffer that provides you that border, separating home from work.
Team Actiance “unleashed” at our RECHARGEsxsw event last night at South by Southwest (SxSW). In the true spirit of collaboration, attendees at the event provided the energy and dance moves needed to create our own Harlem Shake moment.
After months of anticipation Team Actiance is headed to Austin, Texas for this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSW). Joining me will be SXSW veterans Sarah Carter and Joanna Belbey. Together we will report the sights and sounds of the festival using social media to connect and engage with others in Austin and beyond.
Expect the unexpected.
In the past I have only experienced SXSW vicariously through a hash tag and even then felt overwhelmed. The schedule is packed with sessions, events, activities, and parties. I don’t know how I will be able to keep track of all the invitations and events. I image the experience of the real thing is the SXSW hash tag on steroids. I honestly don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, I am not alone, and the best advice I’ve gotten so far has been from Joanna is to “be present.” In today’s 24/7 connected and wired world it’s easy to lose a sense of place and to report what’s happening as opposed to being a part of the action. I will embrace the unexpected.
The Actiance Oasis
For those in Austin attending the event, we invite you to connect with us and to join us at our Actiance Universal Recharge Lounge (see invite below). The lounge is our oasis from the noise providing attendees a place where industry professionals can relax and recharge their bodies, minds, and electronics.
The lounge will be open on Saturday, March 9th, Sunday March 10th, and Monday March 11th from 6-8pm, and SXSW Interactive pass members and guests are welcome to join us…just RSVP HERE.
Team Actiance will be using Instagram, Vine, Twitter, Foursquare and Storify to share the experience using hashtags #ActianceSXSW and #TeamActiance. Follow along and comment as we share the SXSW experience with you. Stay connected, follow @SarahActiance, @Belbey and @VictorGaxiola as we experience #SXSW together.
Our new best friend Miguel The Driver dropped us off front and center as event greeters hastily opened the doors of our black limo-esque Denali SUV and welcomed us onto the red carpet. Met by a barrage of camera flashes, the masses soon realized we were nobody of note and they turned their attention on to the next car. One quick picture with the Official CBS Photographer and my girlfriend, her sister and boyfriend, and their mom and I made our way down the lengths of paparazzi and E! Reporters.
Where was I? Oh the Grammy’s (he said casually, like this happens every weekend..)
So how did I end up at the Grammy’s? I guess I should really start with that.
My girlfriend’s mom happens to work for CBS and is “required” to go to both the #Grammys and the #Emmys every year, and this year I was lucky enough to get included in the invitation! Not that the whole red carpet/celebrity scene is my forte, but you’ve got to be excited about an invite like that. I pressed my new black suit and grey tie, and found myself back in Los Angeles where I spent 4 years at @UCLA
After being hurried along down the carpet as another face in the crowd, we found a few undisturbed seconds to take a couple pictures of our own at one of the classic Grammy signs. We made it through the down to Section 101, Row 2, Seats 1-5, and #instagram made its first appearance of my night as I snapped a picture of the stage and pushed it to twitter. One of my favorite parts of the night, we watched as the people of VIP-enough status to sit on the court floor filed in with their friends. Some of my favorite artists/stars of note were @TheBlackKeys, @TheLumineers, Fun. (@Ournameisfun), @Frank_Ocean, @Jtimberlake and @LenaDunham just to name a few.Naturally, celebrity hype and ‘fashion, fashion, fashion’ were central themes of night, but social media came in a close second. As you home viewers know from his opening speech, @LLCoolJ made sure to encourage everyone at home to tweet away with the hashtag “#Grammys” and mention him @LLCoolJ, noting that the Grammys in 2012 were the largest social media event to date and they hoped to break records again. What you didn’t see behind the scenes were the several other reminders to the live audience to post from the arena.
With such a large emphasis on social, I constantly checked twitter and posted (or tried to post) during my favorite performances trying to catch LL’s attention and be one of the random tweets read just after several commercial breaks throughout the night. My limiting factor was actually the data network in the arena. With everyone trying to tweet away, check in on foursquare, and post on their friends’ wall saying Justin Timberlake just walked by, it was hard to even get a post out.
Overall, seeing some of my favorite musicians sitting just rows away and braving the blinding flashes made for quite the night. Although I couldn’t do it every night (let’s say 20 performances was…stimulating), I would love to go back again for another 3-day music festival packed into one night.
Follow the exciting life of #TeamActiance on Twitter for the latest team adventures and experiences.
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