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Mandy Vavrinak @ #SMTulsa

27 Mar

Mandy Vavrinak is a public relations and integrated marketing professional, wife, mother, Apple fan girl, and owner of Crossroads Communications, LLC. She spoke at the 2012 Social Media Tulsa Conference about the Relevance Revolution: How Social Media Functions As Life’s Big Filter. I live plussed her talk on my personal Google+. This is a consolidation of my notes there, Mandy’s slides from Slide Share, and her own writeup on her blog. Even those don’t quite capture the experience as Mandy is an energetic speaker and had a fun interaction with the crowd. All pictures from Captured Charms Photography.

Picture by Captured Charms Photography

In The Beginning…

In the misty past people filtered the information needed to make a decision or choice through the people they knew who were geographically close to them. Some of this was intentional (such as who you decided to ask about a dentist) and some of it was already filtered for you (you wouldn’t inquire about a business two towns over because you wouldn’t know about it and couldn’t use it conveniently.)

And then came the interwebz!

The internet is a firehose of information making filters even more important. Our networks have been digitized and platforms compete for the best algorithim features to make their content most relevant.

Google has just implemented Search Plus Your World designed to make search results more personalized, and what’s that key word? RELEVANT! Facebook filters your stream according to who you interact with most. Pinterest is a little backwards in that its filtering has to be done manually by you choosing which boards to follow. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Twitter just acquired Posterous. Mandy predicts that Twitter will apply the feel and UI of Spaces to Twitter lists, which currently suck in her (and mine) opinion.

Power plugs were hard to come by...

Basically, all of this boils down to the consumners saying “I want relevant information from a trusted source about a topic I care about in a way I can hear it and when I want it.

Websites learn what’s relevant to you as a user by tracking the following.

  • Web history–what did you search for? Which sites did you visit?
  • Actions taken–what did you interact with?
  • Time spent–what held your interest and for how long?

A big lesson for us content creators is don’t create content just to say you posted it. Crappy content is still crap and makes for a crappy king! Create relevant content!

To guide you in creating that relevant content ask yourself The New 5 Ws!

  • Who is going to care about this?
  • Where do those people hangout online?
  • What do they do on that network? What are their goals on that site?
  • When are they looking for it on that network?
  • Why should they choose you?
  • Once you’ve considered all of the above ask how are you going to share this content?

If you do not follow the path of The New 5 Ws and create relevant content you will be a time suck! No one wants to have their time sucked away by having to wade through irrelevant material! If you have your social networks linked together and synced up spewing out the same content at the same time GO HOME AND CHANGE THAT! (didn’t I blog about this once?)

 

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Liz Strauss @ #SMTulsa

20 Mar

I had the extreme honor and pleasure of live plussing the 2012 Social Media Tulsa Conference last week! I will be posting the summary of my notes and live plusses here and on my personal Google+ page. First in the series is the opening keynote!

Liz Strauss works with corporations and entrepreneurs to create, identify and leverage unique, real-time opportunity. She is a strategist, the CEO and founder of SOBCon, author of the popular Successful-Blog.com, a keynote speaker, and a storyteller. She was the keynote speaker at Social Media Tulsa 2012 Conference. I live plussed her talk on my personal Google+ account. This is the summary of her talk from those notes. I wasn’t able to find a SlideShare of her talk.

Liz had flown into Tulsa directly from Austin where she spoke at SXSW Interactive. She is obviously a real workhorse because she had lost her voice in Austin and had to give her whole talk in a whisper.

Liz started her talk by asking people in the audience “What is the best thing that ever happened to you personally or to your business?” Answers ranged from being born to good parents, to having a daughter born with a disability that inspired a home business, to rescuing abused animals, to quitting a job. A funny point was when Liz sat in a gentleman’s lap and asked “What is the best thing to ever happen to you, besides me sitting on your lap?” Alas, I did not get a picture of it!

Liz then transitioned to the meat-n-potatoes part of her talk…

7 Elements of Strategy

First, Liz defined strategy as a realistic system to advance achievements over time by leveraging opportunity. She emphasized that it’s a living, changing thing that is being implemented and modified constantly.

The 7 elements are nonlinear, but if we had to put them in a list it would be…

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Position
  • Conditions
  • Decisions
  • Networks
  • Systems

Vision and mission are not the same thing, but it’s easier to talk about them together. You have to have a vision to have a mission. Vision is destination. It’s the answer to questions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Where do you want to go?” It’s choosing a future so you can make it happen. Your vision is tied up in your identity and values. When you have a clear identity and vision you are easy to remember and share.

Mission is a calling and a commitment to that calling. It’s the answer to questions like “Why?” and “How?” Knowing where you’re going is irresistibly attractive. Work is work, but a quest is valiant and noble. JFK’s vision was a space program better than the Soviet’s. His mission was to put a man on the moon and safely return him back to earth. This was a bigger vision and mission than he could accomplish on his own, but people will naturally follow whoever is moving with vision on a focused mission.

Position is your unique playing field. Every position is a unique opportunity. Opportunities are all around us–we just don’t necessarily see them. You have to know your position so you know how to proceed. Find out if you’re on a mountain or by the river before you buy a boat!

Position is a lot of quantitative information. Everything from property, expertise, packaging, and communication to competence, competition, size, and systems. Don’t say “I know this stuff already.” Make yourself articulate it! Questions that help you understand your position sound like identity questions. Are you an individual or a company, new or experienced, guide or teacher?

Position is also qualitative relationships. It’s your goals, values, dreams, passion, and people who help the business thrive. Values attract ideal partners, customers, employees, and opportunities.

Quantitative and qualitative positions together are the value proposition. Apparently Liz has another talk entitled “Putting the Values Back Into the Value Proposition”.

As a side note to position, Liz states that most people spend too much time thinking about their competition. The truth is that there so many differences between people (and their missions, values, positions) and each difference creates another opportunity. So, there are more than enough opportunities for everyone!

Conditions are changing opportunities. Conditions include things like cycles, trends, the spread of an idea or technology. You can turn those into opportunities by not swinging with the pendulum. Zag when the world zigs! Fill the vacuum!

Decisions is the act of eliminating any other option. It’s a moment of truth. You are now committed completely to this one choice. Sometimes we shy away from committing fully to something because we’re afraid it will be permanent. It’s not. Your path will find you if you just step out decisively.

My notes on Networks and Systems ran together. If it’s confusing, it’s my fault and not Liz’s and you should contact her.

Deeply connected networks attract fiercely loyal fans. Well-thought systems keep people coming back. We think that people that think like us are smart. And people who don’t must be stupid or difficult, right?! Be mission critical to other folks missions. Start with people who love you now. The more you can put your values out and stand by them the more you will draw similar people to you. Be sure to celebrate your heroes–they are the best examples of your values. Narrow niches offer wider opportunities. Liz says that the internet has obliterated geographic niches and there are now only expertise niches.

If you’re a consultant and looking for your first client people tell you not to lower your price. What they’re saying is that people who share your values will value you and your work like you do and pay your price. If not, they ask you to lower your price. They have to be converted. They don’t usually stay converted.

Raise a barn. Don’t build a coliseum. Ask the best to help build what they need. Use systems to make building easier, faster, and more meaningful. If they build it… they will bring their friends.

 

Social Media Tulsa Conference 2012

13 Mar

March 15th and 16th, this Thursday and Friday, is the second annual Social Media Tulsa Conference! I am so excited to get to attend AND live plus it! Here some basic intro information and what sessions I am most excited for!

What is Social Media Tulsa?

Social Media Tulsa (or #SMTulsa) started as a monthly meetup group (which it still is!) and has grown into a website, social media accounts, a support and ideas network, a digital Chamber of Commerce of sorts, AND a conference!

The conference will be at the downtown Tulsa Hyatt and start with registration at 9 am Thursday with the keynote following at 10 am. It’s a nonstop partying classroom all that day and the next! There will be a blogger’s lounge, keynotes, breakout sessions, a showing of Twittamentary, a Tweetup, and as many Google+ Hangouts as I can squeeze in!

What’s exciting?

Mandy Vavrinak

My friend Mandy Vavrinak will be talking about the Relevance Revolution on Thursday right after lunch. We use people’s opinions and experiences as time saving mechanism all the time. Now, that advice is filtered through social media–and it went global! But I’m sure Mandy will have more interesting things to say about it. 🙂

Next on the list is Who Let the Dogs Out? or Social Pets at 1 on Friday. Why? Because I’m a dog person. 🙂

TillmanSkates.com

And then I’m torn because overlapping the amazing rollerblading dog is a Pinterest support group, which just sounds like too much fun! Any ideas on how to do both?

What will you be adding to the event?

I will be live plussing as many sessions as I can attend and type out notes for!

I will be doing as many Google+ Hangouts as time allows. I want to introduce Plussers to Tulsa and Tulsans to Google+!

Circle me on Google+ and let me know you want in the #SMTulsa circle in order to catch all this goodness!

Wow! What should I do now?

You should register for the conference on EventBrite and support the amazing sponsors who make this possible! You should also send karma to Cheryl Lawson who asked me to live plus the conference!

This year’s sponsors include Party Aficionado, Cherry Street Studios, Social Media Examiner, Captured Charms Photography, Tulsa Humane Society, Focus Consulting, Kalvin Kleen Mobile Marketing, MyMedLab, Tulsa Food Guy, Skinny Scoop, Apartment Guide, Other World Computing, Vocus, Summerside Vineyards, Natural Balance Pet Food, and Concord Keystone.

Get Out and Vote!

5 Mar

Photo by Theresa Thompson

Even if you’re not politically active, you probably have noticed that this election cycle is different from the last presidential cycle. We’re all getting more robocalls and stories about the candidates now include pictures of them ACTUALLY in Oklahoma! Why the change?

1. During the last cycle Oklahoma’s Republican delegates were on a winner-takes-all system. Whoever got the most votes over the whole state got ALL of Oklahoma’s delegates. It has now changed so that our delegates are awarded according to majority of votes per congressional district. So, Republican candidates are paying closer attention to Oklahoma because their chances of winning Okie delegates are much higher.

2. Oklahoma has a lot of delegates to the Republican National Convention this year! We have FORTY-THREE delegates and 40 alternates. I won’t bore you with the intricacies of how those rules are set up, but let’s just say that Oklahoma Republicans’ hard work is paying off on the national party level.

3. Oklahoma’s primary is on Super Tuesday this year. We get to be part of a turning point in the whole cycle! Tomorrow will quite possibly make or break candidates.

Here’s some things you may not know about tomorrow’s election.

There is a DEMOCRAT Presidential primary too! There are at least FOUR other Democrats on the ballot, one of whom is from Oklahoma!

This is one of the first major elections under the new state law that you must show your ID to vote. So, have your passport, driver’s license, or voter card with you!

This is also the first major election to use Oklahoma’s new voting machines. These are state-of-the-art and set Oklahoma at the front of the pack in election technology and security. There are new audio ballots for voters with vision problems. The results are sent instantly at the end of the day to the state election board. At a Claremore Chamber of Commerce event I got to try them out in a mock election. It will not take blank ballots or ballots that have been over voted, despite all my efforts to trick it!

Collinsville, Owasso, and Claremore voters also have a city ballot to be cast tomorrow. I’m not a Claremore resident proper, so I’m not familiar with what is on those ballots. However, sample ballots are available on the county election board site. I strongly encourage you to look over your ballot BEFORE going to the polls. An informed voter is a powerful thing!

I voted early Saturday, so I won’t see you at the polls. However, look for me to be breathlessly watching the results on my personal Google+ and Twitter!

Get Outside Claremore!

24 Feb

Claremore Lake

Has the weather this week been beautiful or what?! I can’t seem to soak up enough sunshine or breathe enough fresh air! Here are my 10 favorite ways to enjoy the weather in Green Country!

1. Go Play at the Park

No one is too old to enjoy a day at the park. Whether you want to feed the ducks, play on the swings (my favorite), fish off the wharf, or snap some landscape photos (see my iPhonography offering to the left), the place to be is Claremore Lake Park!

2. Eat Out On the Patio

Everything is better in this weather–even the food tastes better outside! My favorite patio spot is the Hillcat Hut. Yes, even non-college folk are allowed! Tiny Cakes and Truffles also has outdoor seating. You didn’t think they were just a bakery, did you now?! Finally, don’t forget to get out of your car at Sonic!

3. Work Outside

We are a mobile society after all. Take your smartphone and notebook and work outside today, even if it’s just the smoker’s table outside your office. Or you can be lucky like my sister and get to go work at the Lake!

Remember the paper weights!

4. Ride Your Bike

I know there are a couple of bike trails around town, but I actually prefer riding in a neighborhood. I love getting a glimpse into people’s lives as I zip past. And it’s usually easier. 😉 If your bike needs some maintenance after its hibernation in the garage, drop by Bike-About in downtown.

5. Bird Watch

I’ve been able to open my windows several days this week and I was pleasantly surprised to hear a lot of bird songs! They certainly seem to think it’s spring time! One of the best places to bird watch is at the Nature Reserve on the RSU campus.

6. Play with your dogs.

Frisbee, balls, walks, other dogs–anything delights your dog, so take your pick! If you don’t have a dog—well, you’re just a loser, I guess. 😉 Sidenote: why doesn’t Claremore have any dog parks? How do we go about getting one?

7. Nap in the sunshine

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a dog person. However, I will say that cats have done one useful thing. Napping in the sunshine is the best thing they have ever come up with! Oh, and naps definitely have their place in the professional’s life.

This fellow was a doorstop outside the Antique Mall

8. Stroll the downtown walk.

The downtown neighborhood was designed to be walked. Park elsewhere and enjoy!

9. Do a photowalk.

You could even combine numeros 8 and 9 and do a photo walk downtown! Some of my personal favorites were taken doing this, such as the last two photos in this blog.

10.Watch the sunset.

One of my favorite places to watch the sunset is from the top of Swan’s hill on 4180 road.

The Awkward Stage

11 Jan

Downtown Claremore

The awkward stage usually refers to the pimple-riddened years where we’re uncomfortably stuck between being a child and being an adult. Personally, I didn’t find my teen years all that miserable, but I think the phrase still has some merit. It’s hard to be inbetween two spots, neither here nor there. This applies to more than just adolescent development. I would humbly put forth that the city of Claremore is in an awkward stage. We are not a small town anymore, but it’s hard to be big 30 minutes away from Tulsa.

1. Claremore is not a small town anymore.

You can always go look up technical definitions on the U.S. Census website and I’ll throw a number out there: 2010 census has Claremore pegged at 18,581. Let’s talk about how it feels as a citizen and a business owner. Claremore has two high schools, 3 junior highs, and 7 elementary schools. Claremore has 3 grocery stores, 5 hardware stores, and 4 Subways. Small towns don’t even have QuikTrips and we’re getting a 2nd (which will be a QT Kitchen and significantly closer to my house than the current one. I’m excited!) Claremore has been hit by the national economic situation and that shows in our busineses that cater to middle-class luxuries. The bowling alley has shut down. We had 5 coffee shops in 2009 and in 3 years we’ve dwindled to one. However, the population size is still there that those type of businesses need–we’re all just poorer than we were before.

My alternate life that I don’t allow on this blog is politics. I can tell you that Claremore is a major player in the 2nd Congressional District and our state reps and senators are important and in leadership positions in Oklahoma City. We’re not in the political player leagues of Tulsa, Edmond, Bixby, or Oklahoma City, but we are in the top 10.

Think about how it feels living here.  How often do you run into someone you know at the store? Do you have to consider traffic in your driving plans? When you travel in the state do people know where Claremore is? Not often, yes, and yes, respectively.

We need to break out of the small-town way of thinking! Claremore leadership and citizens need to quit fighting change for nostalgia’s sake and let big things happen. Trains causing a traffic standstill might be ok in Chelsea, but the situation in Claremore is unacceptable! The city is pursuing some solutions, but they have been set back by grant rejections and they might even be pursuing the wrong solution to start with. Local businesses like the hospital and Pixley’s have put their own benefit ahead of the town’s progress when competitors like St. John’s and Lowe’s tried to move in and the city council aquiesced to their selfish ideas. Thankfully, St. John’s and Lowe’s found ways around (St. John’s settled outside of town in North Park community and I’ve heard that Lowe’s bought land secretly from the Chevrolet dealership), but how many other businesses are we missing out on because of similar behavior? Also, did you notice that neither Pixley’s or the hospital have suffered terribly since? Their hissy fit was pure fear of competition and had nothing to do with self-survival.

2. Claremore is not yet a big town

Claremore is simply not there yet. We only have one movie theater and it’s small. We only have one coffee shop, as I said earlier. We have no nightlife. We have no music scene. We work in Tulsa and drive to Owasso to shop. It’s rather frightening to be so dependent for livelihood and lifestyle on places where you have no voice in the proceedings. I don’t have a magic plan to grow our city. Decades of brilliant minds have been tossing around concepts like suburbs and bedroom communities and still haven’t come up with a best-practice list. I do believe though that Claremore citizens are the best people to solve Claremore’s problems.

In the world of marketing and social media I find myself saying over and over ‘Claremore is not Tulsa!’ Claremore is unique and the relationships are quite different from a big metro. A marketing agency from Tulsa is not going to understand that. Your customers will feel like you’re trying to shock and awe them with high-falutin’ ways. If they’re the least bit aware they’ll know that it’s better to keep money close and not to keep giving it to Tulsa. On the other hand, Claremore is modern enough that businesses need the technological tools of  social media, mobile advertising, and smart ads,unlike the rural towns around us. Magic Bottle Marketing can help you balance these two and navigate this awkward in-between scene. I’m excited to get to work with you!

Strokes Moustache…

9 Jan

Grand Coulee Dam is the largest dam in the United States and in the top 5 largest dams of the world. It is the largest electric power-producing facility in the United States. The short list of things to do around it include…

  • laser light show projected onto the mile-long screen of the dam’s spillway.
  • tour of the dam
  • swimming, jet skies, inter-tubing, water skiing, etc. on Lake Roosevelt
  • hiking Steamboat Rock
  • waterfall hunting and viewing near Banks Lake

I lived in Grand Coulee for 9 brief months and then 30 minutes away in Wilbur for 4 years. All of the towns in the area were used to and took good care of the thousands of tourists these sights drew. My family eagerly absorbed every piece of information we could and took in every sight we could. We were just so excited to get to live near such a famous place! As we shared our giddy delight we were surprised to learn that some natives had never done what we were doing. They had every opportunity to experience something amazing, but because it was near them and they were used to it they didn’t consider it amazing.

I have to confess that I have committed the same sin against my new home, Northeast Oklahoma. I have never had lunch at the Pink House. 2011, my 10th year in Oklahoma, was the first year I went to the Gilcrease Art Museum. This is unacceptable. Therefore, I’m setting the goal of being a tourist in my neck of the woods. I’m going to Google things. I’m going to ask all the obvious, stupid questions I can think of. I’m going to ask for directions and recommendations. I’m going to photograph all the sights I’ve driven past without a thought before. Mostly, I’m going to stroke my moustache and scheme.

Schemer specifically and social media generally is what is motivating this great resolution. I’ve mentioned this local phenomenon before.

It’s interesting how social media has made my life both more global and more local. I communicate with people all over the world based on common interests, but then I’m inspired to actually live out those interests locally. Someday, dire warnings about replacing social life with social media will sound as outrageous people who claimed homeschoolers wouldn’t know how to function in society.

My excitement about Schemer is growing. I like being on the bleeding edge of things (gives a false sense of importance—gotta feed the ego) and Schemer is definitely new. Like most newly-launched Google products it’s invite only. Let me know if you want one. I haven’t found any Claremore schemes besides my own. There are few in Tulsa and Oklahoma City but not many. I get to be the trendsetter for Oklahoma Schemes!

Schemer still needs a lot of work. Schemes need to be linked to search results in Google Places. Sharing to Google+ is a basic sorely missing, but I would like to see integration to other social networks. Conspirators will need to ‘synchronize watches’ which means integration with Google Calendar. Once a scheme is completed there needs to be a way to add photos of the fun time had by all. These should have a special album on Google+ just like mobile uploads and photos from posts do. I have more ideas but I think I will save them for a Google+ post. Look for it there!