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Archive for May, 2009

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Social Communicators

Pepsi is embarking on an interesting experiment with social communicators. I wonder though if outfitting “social communicators” with press passes all you are doing is creating journalists – albeit with a different frame and distribution.

By polluting the social mediaverse with paid commentators will we get less independence, more opacity and increased drivel. My rationale is that folks now feel compelled to write about what they got paid to write about; have to be overtly opaque vs. blindingly transparent’; and have to contextualize in their supporters frame rather than whatever takes their fancy.

I’m not sure what the difference is, or how you move from, impressions to connections when you are in effect paying for the impressions?

Either way, an interesting experiment to watch…

PepsiCo is calling the "open newsroom" experiment an effort to align the brand with the social media space. It is hiring nine people to use blogs, Twitter and Web video to chronicle events from Internet Week, running June 1-8 in New York. The program is open to journalists, students, social media gadflies and anyone with a hankering to report using social media tools.
Their reports will appear on the PepsiCo Content Network. Participants will receive $750.

The "social communicators" will be outfitted with press passes and assigned to cover everything from panels to parties. They will create packages of content including photos, videos and blog posts. PepsiCo is providing tools like Flip video cameras. The company hired former Mediabistro editorial director Dorian Benkoil as editor-in-chief for the site.

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The Dell Swarm

Dell is exploiting social networks in a new marketing scheme being tried out in Singapore. If you agree to buy a laptop on Dell Swarm, the discounted price drops as others join your “swarm” and also buy. Here’s how Dell describes it:

  • Start by picking the laptop you would like to purchase. Be the first buyer to join a Swarm and you’ll enjoy a price lower than’s best discounted price (after cash rebates).
  • Join a Swarm after, and you’ll enjoy a new, lower price – as will all previous buyers. To see the range of prices, simply slide the Swarm price bar downwards.
  • Once the swarms closes – which is when the limit of 15 buyers or 72 hours is reached, whichever is the earlier, the price is then finalised. This final, lowest price now becomes everyone’s purchase price – including yours!
  • To get the maximum discount, grow the Swarm by Sharing with your friends. You can share via Twitter Or post a note on your Facebook® profile and tell all of your friends Point others towards your Swarm using Digg, and other tools. Or simply send your friends an email directly!
  • Not ready to buy yet? You can also choose to Follow the Swarm. You’ll then receive updates via email. As well as through free SMS alerts.

We’ve seen this idea on the Web before (e.g., see Group Buying), but it is usually framed as a tool by and for consumers rather than a marketing strategy employed by vendors. This could be a big win for Dell. If it is, others will follow. The penetration of online social networking systems is much greater now and finding ways to exploit them for marketing is irresistible.

From UMBC Equity

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EPIC 2015

Haven’t kept up with them but loved the first few… well worth a watch…

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Not sure if this makes them more like Twitter or more like a crowdsourced AP… But the New York Times has taken the realtime plunge with the launch of Times Wire, a twittery service that they describes as “a continuously updated stream of the latest stories and blog posts.”

The news scroll updates every minute… Will they be “streamworthy”? I’m not sure. The challenge is that the feed is buried in the NYTimes site…

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Rules For Success

Jim Collins follows many of the success rules I’ve observed in other successful entrepreneurs. Reading through this story in the NYT, you see:

  • Sensitivity to time: A second lost is a second wasted. He carries a stopwatch and drives for efficiency.
  • Unrelenting focus: pick big things to do that align with what you love to do – and just do them. This might not be a specific goal – it could be a framework in which work exists. He approaches every aspect of his life with purpose and intensity.
  • “That, he explains, is a running tally of how he’s spending his time, and whether he’s sticking to a big goal he set for himself years ago: to spend 50 percent of his workdays on creative pursuits like research and writing books, 30 percent on teaching-related activities, and 20 percent on all the other things he has to do.

  • Measured: They measure performance and outcomes. Mr. Collins, who is 51, keeps a stopwatch with three separate timers in his pocket at all times, stopping and starting them as he switches activities. Then he regularly logs the times into a spreadsheet.
  • Practiced in saying no: “Mr. Collins also is quite practiced at saying “no.” Requests pour in every week for him to give speeches to corporations and trade associations. It could be a bustling sideline, given that he commands a top-tier fee of $65,000 to dispense his wisdom. But he will give only 18 speeches this year, and about a third of them will be pro bono for nonprofit groups.”
  • Balance: Burning doesn’t work. Balance does. They are acutely aware of what they need to win. “Oh, he sleeps with vigor, too. He figures that he needs to get 70 to 75 hours of sleep every 10 days, and once went to a sleep lab to learn more about his own patterns. Now — surprise, surprise — he logs his time spent on a pillow, naps included, and monitors a rolling average.
  • Focus On What Not to Do as Much as What to Do: “This orientation — a willingness to say no and focus on what not to do as much as what to do — stems from a conversation that Mr. Collins had with one of his mentors, the late Peter F. Drucker, the pioneer in social and management theories. “Do you want to build ideas first and foremost?” he recalls Mr. Drucker asking him, trying to capture his mentor’s Austrian accent. “Zen you must not build a big organization, because zen you will end up managing zat organization.”
  • Sets Context For Feedback: “He then gets feedback from a large circle of people. To make sure they don’t hold back, he refers to them as his “critical readers,” and types in large letters atop the manuscript, “Bad First Draft.” “That gives them the freedom to say, ‘Jim already knows it’s bad, so let me tell him how it’s bad,’ ” he says.
  • Some good luck along the way… “for all his exacting approaches to time management and research, has been blessed with something he cannot control: repeated bouts of flat-out luck.” Someone once said to me that luck stands for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge – this is something I’ve always held true. You don’t get luck without the other stuff.
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