Q&A with Countess and Best of All Worlds Co-Founder Louise Wachtmeister

ountess Louise Wachtmeister is a Swedish entrepreneur, athlete and political activist, as well as the co-founder of new social network Best of All Worlds, which she recently launched with her husband, Count Erik Wachtmeister. In this interview, Louise shares the vision, purpose and value behind Best of All Worlds, as well as her thoughts on social media, Facebook, entrepreneurship, branding, and a new generation of Swedish pop culture.

Q&A with Financial Services Social Media Consultant John Proaño

John Proaño is Social Media Consultant for Prudential Financial. In this interview, John shares insights from his experience in the financial services and tech industries, as well as his thoughts on creativity, SoLoMo and the overall customer experience.

Q&A with At The Pool Founder Alex Capecelatro

In this interview, Alex Capecelatro talks about his startup At The Pool and the unmet need that he wants to solve for, as well as his thoughts on social network growth tactics, Facebook as a platform, becoming an entrepreneur, and more.

Q&A with Brian Solis, Author and Principal at Altimeter Group

Q&A with Brian Solis, Author and Principal at Altimeter Group

Interview with Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based business advisory firm in San Mateo, CA. Solis is globally recognized as a prominent industry thought leader, published author, and speaker. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture.

The State of Social Media and Social Media Marketing in the Second Half of 2012

The rise of social media has led to a complete shift in how people communicate, enabling us to create online versions of ourselves while engaging with friends, strangers and everyone in between. Social media has not only affected our communication habits, but it has also transformed and created entire industries.

As the social media landscape expands and evolves, businesses debate its potential to influence consumer behavior. Traditional methods of marketing and advertising have been around for decades and most companies are comfortable with the idea of TV ratings and billboard impressions. But making sense of social media? Well, that's not easy, especially for executives and entrepreneurs. 

For companies of all sizes, the questions around social media are many. Here are some of the type of questions I often hear:

  • Are social media conversations really impacting brand reputation? 
  • Should we listen or participate? 
  • Should we spend our time, effort and money in content that seems to disappear? 
  • Are the social networks going to "own" us by keeping us within their closed gardens?
  • If Facebook has so many users, how come nobody cares about our page?
  • We're posting content every day but we're not selling anything as a result of it. Why?
  • Surely we can just outsource this whole social media thing to avoid costs, right? 
  • Should we invest to get the most likes, followers, subscribers?
  • Should we trend on Twitter or go viral on YouTube? 
  • Why are there so many articles about Google+ being a ghost town? 
  • Our competitors are not in social media so we should avoid it too, right?
  • Do we have to bring in consultants or should we hire people ourselves?
  • What is the difference between a check-in and a Groupon?
  • Facebook acquired a photo app for how much? Do we have to build a page there too?

On and on the questions go.

And in the meantime, the social media landscape keeps changing.

In the last six months alone, Facebook has gone public, Instagram was acquired for $1B, Kevin Rose joined Google, Socialcam and Viddy went viral, Pinterest stopped going viral, Google+ passed Twitter in number of monthly active users, LinkedIn acquired SlideShare, Microsoft launched something called "Socl" and Zynga started showing Facebook ads.

There is much to learn about the opportunity and risk that lies within the networks that are building human graphs online. 

My advice for companies of all sizes is to take this seriously. Your competitors are taking it seriously. Your future competitors are not only taking it seriously, they're making it a priority. 

In order to help you navigate what's happened in the last six months and what it all means, I've created a presentation about the state of social media in the second half of 2012, from a marketer's perspective. This is a follow-up to another presentation I published on January 1st. That one has been viewed 140,000 times and I hope this follow-up will be as useful as the original. This presentation will not answer the questions above but it will help you think about such questions in the right content.

I've already received some feedback: the good "very comprehensive!," the bad "overwhelming amount of slides!," and the ugly "you're wrong about Google+." If you haven't seen it yet, check it out below and let me know what you think.

Want the entire presentation?

You can download it by simply tweeting and/or sharing it on Facebook! Click below:

Q&A with Pinerly Founder Rick Kats

Rick Kats is the founder and CEO of Pinerly, a startup that help you easily market visual content on Pinterest. With the rising popularity of virtual pinboards, Pinerly has taken on the challenge of helping content creators post, optimize and measure their pins. In this interview, Rick shares about the tool's value proposition, as well as the past, present and future of the company.

Q&A with VidIQ Founder Rob Sandie

Rob Sandie is the founder of Vid.io, a new startup that helps companies with the management of video and marketing on YouTube. Vid.io is currently accepting applications for video access but it has already been called the "HootSuite for video." I've seen a preview of Vid.io and I'm excited to see where Rob Sandie takes the tool and company, especially because this is Rob's second startup - Viddler being his first. In this interview, Rob shares about the problems Vid.io hopes to solve, his thoughts on the startup scene, and insights from his experiences as an entrepreneur.

Airtime Launches, Sean Parker Tells Me It's Coming to Android in Four Weeks

Thoughts on Airtime, including a conversation about Android with Sean Parker himself.

Disruptor Beam's Jon Radoff talks about Game of Thrones Ascent

Interview with Jon Radoff, the founder of Disruptor Beam, the company behind the upcoming "Game of Thrones Ascent" social game. Jon Radoff is an entrepreneur focused on the intersection of the Internet, entertainment and social communities. Jon is also the author of the book "Game On."

10 things Post-IPO Facebook can do to get liked by more advertisers

Facebook's nearly 1 billion users have made the site the standard for social and this is why marketers turn to Facebook when it comes to doing "social." However, some companies are not yet sold on the platform's value. Here are 10 things Facebook can do to become more attractive for marketers and advertisers:

Dachis Group's Peter Kim Talks Social Business by Design

Peter Kim is the Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis Group, a leading social business advisory firm. In this interview, Peter shares about his firm, his thoughts on industry trends and his book "Social Business by Design."

Eloqua's Joe Chernov Talks Content Marketing

Content has become a science and an art at Eloqua. Joe Chernov, the company's VP of Content Marketing, is leading the charge. In this interview, Joe shares his thoughts and wisdom around all things content marketing.

Creating, Curating and Cultivating SXSW Interactive

SXSW PhotosAbout a year ago I gave a presentation titled “Creating, Curating and Cultivating the Social Web” at the Marketing 2.0 Conference. The point of the presentation was that I believe brands need to create and curate high quality content while cultivating relationships with customers in order to become and remain relevant in the hyper connected world we live in.

You see, content (objects that can be experienced and shared online) has drastically changed the way people communicate. From pinboards on Pinterest to meme generatorsInstagram and Hipster, the plethora of options to create and distribute content has made everyone a content producer. It's not just developers, designers and bloggers anymore; it's everyone. Whether it’s a video captured at the right time and the right place on a smartphone or a carefully produced campaign like KONY 2012, content has the potential to spread like wildfire. That puts some pressure on companies because they no longer control the medium, the message or the messenger.

Digital campaigns have evolved in the past decade from interactive (think Burger King’s Subservient Chicken), to shareable (think Evian’s Roller Babies and Nike's Write the Future), user generated (think Doritos’ UGC Super Bowl ads), multi-faceted (think Bing's Jay-Z Decoded, Heineken's Star Player, and Red Bull's Supernatural with Shazam), collaborative (think Converse's Three Artists, One Song series), personalized (think Intel's Museum of Me) and, of course, social (think Old Spice Man).

The Internet and the rapid way in which content is created, modified, and distributed was absolutely unthinkable 15 years ago, and most marketers have been encouraged (or forced) to think about ways in which their brands can produce better, faster, more immersive, rewarding and relevant content and experiences.

With changes in consumer behavior and marketing, marketers often end up looking for places where culture gets created and transformed. One of such places is SXSW Interactive, a one-week festival/conference in Austin, TX where some of the brightest minds in all things digital gather once a year. A gathering too important for brands to miss.

Now, gaining attention, respect or any kind of momentum for a company at SXSW is not easy because SXSW attendees are not easily impressed. They have seen the rise of Twitter, and they have also abandoned a keynote by its former CEO and co-founder Evan Williams. A digital marketing campaign promoted with social ads will simply not cut it at SXSW.

Everyone attending, from young college students going to as many panels as possible to startup CEOs that everyone seems to know, is there not only to experience the event but also to become part of the experience and decide what matters and what doesn't. SXSWi is a perfect place to tweet, check-in, write blog posts, take photos, create data visualizations, design infographics, live stream videos, start Google+ Hangouts and simply meet up with others.

From a marketer's perspective, you need to think about how to enhance the SXSW experience for as many attendees as possible. Experiences don’t just happen and they can’t be forced either. You might be able to lure people into a party, an event, a link, a lounge, etc. but you can’t make the experience valuable. Or memorable. Or meaningful.

I’m incredibly proud of what we did with Samsung this year. It was our 2nd year as a major Interactive sponsor and our objective was not simply to sponsor the conference, but also to enhance the experience by creating utility and adding value. From our #SmartWall, where we curated social data and visualized trends (and breaking news) in the first floor of the Austin Convention Center, to the Samsung Blogger Lounge, where serendipity constantly happened as bloggers, journalists, social media influencers, developers, entrepreneurs, podcasters, designers, musicians, artists, Samsung fans and even a few celebrities gathered throughout the 5 days of SXSWi, it looks like our efforts resonated. We were able to create + curate + cultivate SXSWi, both online and offline, while also enabling others to do so as well.

I can’t share our own internal findings, but I must admit it's satisfying to read tweets and posts about our presence there. It's also great to see third parties reporting good results. Examples include infographics by Spredfast, Tracx and Mass Relevance, and this article by Fast Company. Of course, buzz levels and positive press aren't the point, but they can be indicative of valuable, memorable and meaningful experiences.

Marketers have a lot of challenges and opportunities thanks to social media. With limited resources, increasingly demanding consumers, and tough competition, it's important to focus. Creating, curating, and enhancing experiences, while building relationships with customers and potential customers, especially those who are passionate about your brand, should be top of mind. When done well, this can result in great reach, awareness, and most importantly, relevance.

Note: The views expressed on this blog post are all personal and do NOT reflect the views of my employer or any company.

10 Reasons Why Pinterest is Addicting

I completely dismissed Pinterest the first time I tried it at some point in 2011. "Nothing new here," I thought to myself. It didn't seem innovative enough (and a bit too girly) to be worthy of my interest.

It wasn't until around the time Pinterest secured $27 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, which valued the company at $200 million, that I realized Pinterest was onto something. Now, I didn't start paying attention because of the crazy amounts of money that startups can raise or because of posts like this on on blogs like TechCrunch.

Nope. I started paying attention because I noticed my wife using Pinterest.

Actually, my wife and most of her girlfriends were spending what seemed like an absurd amount of time on Pinterest. It was as if Facebook had ceased to exist and the magazines they usually browsed were not current enough to deserve their attention.

So I gave Pinterest a second look.

I was skeptical. And sort of embarrassed.

I quickly realized two things. For starters, it was clear that there were a lot of women on Pinterest and most of them were using the site to motivate themselves through inspiring images, quotes and photos.

Secondly, I realized that most of my early adopter geeky friends were NOT on Pinterest. The usual suspects that tend to be first to sites like Pinterest were not there either. There were absolutely no signs of Robert Scoble and some of the most popular Pinterest users were people I had never heard of.

The things is that Pinterest wasn't created for geeks and I don't think the service is an attempt to change the world. Most Pinterest users have no idea what Delicious is, they have no interest in what TechCrunch has so say, and they are not concerned with whether Pinterest is a fad or not.

For Pinterest users, the service is like an eternal magazine that is also a real-time scrapbook. It is a simple, easy to use, intensely visual, and amazingly addicting experience. 

It might be a single feature in the eyes of people in the tech industry, but with almost 15 million Pinteresters pinning everything from their favorite places on Earth to infographics and memes, it is one truly killer feature.

I can't fully explain why Pinterest has exploded in popularity, but my wife and I have put together a Slideshare presentation with 10 reasons why we think Pinterest users love it. Check it out below and feel free to comment on why you love (or hate) Pinterest.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.