google plus infographic

Beginner's Guide to Google+

Google Plus – The Big Picture

Understanding the various components that go into an effective Google strategy is daunting. This Google+ infographic from Plus Your Business solves the basics and shows how to achieve balance by optimizing Google+ products.

twitter turns eight – my first tweet

I wasn’t there at the very beginning but it didn’t take me long to jump on board!

The Telegraph wants you to know what other first time Twitterers tweeted here.

facebook and google get aired out

Facebook and Google battle for the same audience. Do you need both?

Facebook and Google battle for the same audience. Do you need both?

facebook caught padding paid likes – what can you do?

A video critique posted by web site skeptic Veratasium on how Facebook is at the very least midleading business pages seeking to increase their page likes struck a nerve.

Facebook responded to Derek Muller’s claims by dismissing them. Here’s his Facebook page response to their dissembling: My response to Facebook’s response to me – fixed so you don’t have to solve a captcha to share.

Veratasium’s claims go into the hopper of debate over which is best for business, Facebook or Google+, neither or both. It’s a complex decision made more difficult for small businesses with neither the budget nor talent to support a dedicated online social effort.

It isn’t just an either or decision. Despite their respective shortcomings, read more on how both channels can be effective legs in a social marketing strategy in this comparison.

improve your social media campaign

Tips From Top Social Media Marketing World 2014 Presenters

Top Rank Online Marketing put together this handy Slideshare preso that’s full of tips and tricks to improve your social media campaign content and deployment. What I learned: use clicktotweet to add a direct link to your content page or post, just one of 38 useful ways to improve your content results.

IronWorks 24-year run ends

Ironworks first last issues

My first issue of IronWorks – April, 1993, left, and the last, March, 2014.

24-year print run comes to end

My March, 2014 issue of Ironworks arrived just in time to coincide with the news that publication of the long-running indy v-twin book was ending as of Volume 24, Issue Number 2. Never saw that coming? Actually, a disappointment, not a surprise.

I first came to know the popular culture niche IronWorks 20-plus years earlier. That would be IW Vol. 3, No. 2, April, 1993. Whadyaknow; an even 21 years of familiarity.

I’d just started work as advertising creative director at Easyriders. Truett & Osborn, my first bike client as a freelancer some years before, needed a small (is there any other size?) b&w ad. I was able to accommodate the Wichita aftermarket flywheel manufacturer by forwarding what was referred to then as an ad slick for reproduction to Dennis Stemp Publishing in Versailles, PA.

When my proof copy arrived I was surprised to discover that Dennis and I shared rides: Willie G’s H-D orphan, the XLCR. And while the few hot rod examples I’d seen revolved mostly around Thunder Heads, Dennis saw fit to go flat out by swapping an XR1000 dual carb beastie for the otherwise anemic stock 61-incher the original shipped with.

Several years later we met for the first time in Cordelle, Georgia. Dennis and Marilyn were on their way to Birmingham, I was returning home from Louisiana, and this seemed a logical place to get together.

ironworks sold, invades newstands

By then, Dennis, Marilyn and the kids had made the move to Morganton, NC, and the book was owned by Birmingham trade publisher Hatton-Brown, their only consumer product. He and his wife formed the nucleus of a formidable collection of Harley institutional knowledge, surfing the break of a boomer driven biker wave.

We talked mostly about the various trade and craftwork involved in putting out a publication. Dennis, with an art direction background honed in corporate Pennsylvania, tried mightily to inspire a professional regard for design in a DIY industry that continues to struggle with the concept of appearance as an investment.

He’d hung out briefly in Indian Rocks Beach, so we were both surprised to imagine how we may have crossed paths at a central Pinellas printer he worked for and that I occasionally used. On the eve of first desktop publishing, then the web, Dennis was one of the very few industry talents I’ve known who was as comfortable with an X-Acto blade on the design side as he was a micrometer on the build end.

We’d see each other at Indy, Myrtle Beach, Daytona. We collaborated on a couple of projects: the first serious print review of Confederate’s V-twin anomoly, and one build project that I still consider the most fearsome raw expression of mechanical adaptation I’ve seen, his Flyin’ Fossil dual-carb, mag fired 93-inch Accurate Engineering Knucklehead (IW Vol. 10, No. 2 – March, 2000).

So it came as an ugly shock when Dennis, not known for excess in a culture devoted to lifestyle chance taking, died in 2000 from a particularly brutal form of cancer. (AdFax 15, Vol. 4, No. 3 – July, 2000.)

january 2014 – end of the line

What was it about IronWorks that proved popular? For awhile IW ran with the tagline, “The Thinking Man’s Harley Magazine.” Good luck with that now, but for me it didn’t require parsing – IW was about Harleys, PBR and nothing but.

After I heard IW had reached the end of the line, I dug up my first copy to see what the fuss was all about. What I found on page 34 was the latest on Alan Sputhe’s 95-inch Not A Harley 60-degree V-Twin. And there, just across the gutter on page 35, was the detailed heritage of Nostalgia Cycle’s Super Vee that included a reference to Supercycle publisher Steve Iorio, who I freelanced for several times.

For those who don’t know, the original engine derived from the front two cylinders of a Chevy small block. Boom. If that ain’t hot roddin’, I don’t know what is.

For now, Marilyn Stemp is channeling the original zeitgeist of Dennis’ vision into a new, web-driven venture called Iron Trader News.

google glass on display


Google Glass on left, what Google Glass sees on right.

see you see me and then some

My introduction to Google Glass came at Tampa’s 2013 Barcamp at the University of South Florida last September. I sat in on a presentation by Glass Explorer Bruce Burke, one of those 8,000 or so chosen to live with the devices on a daily basis, and watched as he recovered from a failed classroom projector by tethering his Glass to his tablet so we could see what he saw.

“If you just want to make some phone calls, send and receive some text messages, take some pictures, take some videos and get directions, it’s great.”

In the months since Google first announced their revolutionary technology, I’ve been part of the crowd that thought it was cute but lacked real application. No more. The question isn’t what’s it good for, it’s what can’t it do. Can you call up the next Mickey D’s while you’re motoring along? Yep.

“It’s real light information,” Burke said. “If you just want to make some phone calls, send and receive some text messages, take some pictures, take some videos and get directions, it’s great. If you’re looking to create documents, create films and do heavier-weight stuff, it’s not for that.”

google launches massive product release

This past week, Google Glass has unleashed a well primed info pump touting style choices for Glass frames, a precursor to the retail launch that’s rumored to take place this Fall.

Not all the talk was effusive. FastCo Design called timeout on the use of “iconic” in the same breath as what seem to be otherwise ordinary frame choices. Still, the frames came across even if the writing lesson came up short.

Stand by. App development is well under way for the first purchasers wanting to adapt Glass to their particular niche. Surgeons? Sure. Fire and police? Of course. Also hobbyists, as in woodworkers. Service techs of all stripes. Brokers, reporters, and factory workers will also be seen sitting at their desks or at their stations, swiping at their temples and talking to themselves.

It’s not if any longer.

social media for business

Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.

Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.

Personal Or Business, It’s All Social

I recently ended a six-month marketing consult for a powersports dealership that reps several metric makes, a domestic brand, and PWC and OHV inventory. Located in a large Southeastern market, they were having trouble making besties out of a neglected social media program.

Management depended on traditional automotive marketing techniques consisting of motivational training and clichéd slogans. Making matters worse was content posted by employees who didn’t understand the different approach required for a business page.

a waste of their money and my time

When I got involved the CMS vendor had just set up an incomplete Google+ page and a lamentable blog. They joined a struggling Facebook timeline and an abandoned Twitter feed that together with a local weekly bike night made up a dysfunctional marketing strategy.

The social goal was easily defined: increase organic growth, reach and engagement using proven social media business techniques. In the end it was a waste of their money and my time. Here are my Top Five Social Marketing Essentials: the minimum elements a social media marketing program needs for any chance of success.

5) Management Engagement

Christmas in july 2

This ad for snowmobiles in Florida stayed up for months.

Would you expect to see snowmobiles sold in Florida? In July? This embarassing post by the CMS vendor, a well known powersports service provider, stayed up for weeks because management wouldn’t look at their own channels.

Lesson? Stay engaged or risk the consequences.

4) Coordinate Activities

Social didn’t have a seat at the table when sales, promos, or events were planned. OEM opportunities came and went without publicity. Result: a failure to connect using basic tools like page event apps to promote.

Further muddying the waters, multiple managers had independent control of multiple channels. Result? A total lack of content direction and coordination.

Lesson? Name one manager with authority for all content and the option to grant multiple contributors access.

3) Understand Social Stats

Facebook personal page used to drive likes

Personal friends list used to prop up skewed reach.

Stats can inform or mislead. When they’re manipulated, the result can be deceptive and misleading.

Despite a favorable (chart at top) 68% male-31% female fan mix, the reach skewed heavily towards women, not men. Traceable to flawed post content by the lobby greeter, she attempted a correction by polling her personal Facebook male friends for likes. This shifted the ratio back, but only by creating a false positive that distorts the desired organic results and won’t fool Facebook.

Lesson? Manipulated stats disguise reality.

2) Understand How Social Media Works

Social marketing is about pull, not push. Understanding the general strengths and weaknesses is essential.

It’s a unique medium that requires regular care and feeding in the form of professional attention. Audience engagement can’t be forced; only quality content of interest will attract interaction.

Lesson? Quality content continues to be the prime ingredient in a successful social campaign.

1) Speak With One Voice

The number one requirement for a successful social marketing program? Speak professionally with one knowledgable voice.

The in-house voice, a former barista with no motorcycle knowledge or writing skill, posts content like the example below that clearly demonstrates why writing pros should be hired for social media messaging.

Off-roading enthusiasts love the adventures and the risks and adrenaline associated with it. Speaking with the novice portion of this crowd, one of the most commonly inquiries is, “Do you know where I can ride these?” It’s a very just question. Now a great place to cross off your bucket list is the Apalachicola National Forest. Located in the panhandle, there is 195,000 acres worth of lush, loamy nature. They conveniently have about 80% of their trails marked very well. However, it is also rumored to have many undiscovered trails with very little traffic. Yeah it’s a bit of a trip, but do ya really plan on staying at home for the rest of your life?

Lesson? Social programs too often see Nike’s success selling shoes as a meme easily copied. Without professional creative talent efforts aren’t just wasted, they’re counterproductive.

social channel growth: a job for pros

Don’t be this dealer. Commit to using the prestigious power of social media. Make it count. Engage your qualified market.

barcamp tampa bay 2013

Barcamp Tampa drew over 800 pocket protected members of the digital tribe to USF Business School

donuts are the key to required endurance

Dawn had barely broken when the digital cognescetti began descinding on the registration desks outside the University of South Florida’s School of Business Administration for the daylong techno conference known as Barcamp. Dawn of the dead, more like it.

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Barcamp Tampa Bay 2013 At USF School of BusinessBarcamp Tampa Bay 2013 At USF School of BusinessBarcamp Tampa Bay 2013 At USF School of BusinessBarcamp Tampa Bay 2013 At USF School of BusinessBarcamp Tampa Bay 2013 At USF School of BusinessBarcamp Tampa Bay 2013 At USF School of Business

Veterans of previous Barcamp events came prepared to deal with the Endless Donut Buffet lest the sugar blues overtake them halfway through a .js preso. Antidote: coffee pipeline direct injection.

First timers – including a non-profit wondering where he might find technology mentors for the inner city youth he counseled – tried to interpret the deliberate disorganization that is the hallmark of Barcamp, with varying degrees of success.

The 2013 edition, while perhaps not as feature rich as previous years, nonetheless offered nearly 800 attendees a broad and varied palette of back end, front end, and outside the lines content, much of it from an entrepreneurial perspective.

apps, plugins, hardware and plenty of code

Apps were big on the agenda this year, including the primo EXMO iOS/Android event scheduler. EXMO is one of those things that having used it once now seems like an essential for any multisession event, conference or seminar.

Still in beta, the little app that could kept up with an on-the-fly schedule update that’s the hallmark of Barcamp, letting attendees focus on what was happening instead of where. It’s the digital solution to the sometimes frustrating analog scheduler Barcamp uses, a bulletin board and post-it notes for attendees to schedule and presenters to signup for sessions.

This year there were some 15 tracks in hour-long chunks that began at 9 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., in a nearly constant state of flux. That’s a lot of speakers to try and keep track of, and EXMO did a great job without the slightest hiccup, subject only to the 10-minute window needed for updating.

Blogging seemed a popular topic this year. My first session was an introduction to SEOslides, a dandy WordPress plugin that, as the name implies, allows bloggers to create a presentation within WordPress that is SEO friendly for every page and which – bonus round – links directly to your blog.

So take that Slideshare. Frame driven, this plugin is easily shareable and that’s a big plus when it comes to stats. A/B testing? Yep, and that’s just the beginning. It easily imports your PDF presentation, so authoring can be done with a variety of applications.

Still in beta, and as might be imagined the free version comes with a few key features disabled. If presentations are a big part of your workflow, the annual buy in is $200 and comes with a ton of extras.

quadcopters ready for takeoff

I’m still not sure what quadcopters had to do with web tech, but if I didn’t know anything about them before I sure do now thanks to Greg Wilson, Adobe’s head of CC outreach.

Greg rounded up a fleet – well, two – of these four-bladed oddities from DJI for a show and tell that included in the classroom hovering and an outdoor flight well above 800 feet.

Fundamentals of flight, advantages for aerial photographers, and a look at the possibilities made for a fun session that makes owning one of these devices tempting indeed.

By the time the last speaker in the last classroom turned out the lights, you could measure the knowledge dished out in tonnage. Barcamp is a rare altruistic opportunity to sample trends and techniques in the most informal of environments while allowing developers, site opperators, and anyone with a passion for digital and a viewpoint a forum to pitch their opinion.

aimexpo powersports aftermarket opens

Professional Display Graphics Were Seen Throughout Event

Biker Community Gives Thumbs Up

After years of discussion about an industry alternative to forever event producer Advanstar’s Dealernews Dealer Expo, the very first edition of the American International Motorcycle Expo opened its doors to a borrowed concept, high expectations, and fingers crossed by promoter Marketplace Events.

Orlando’s mammoth Orange County Convention Center West Concourse welcomed a brand new powersports combined trade only and consumer show that managed to attract three OEMs – Yamaha, Suzuki and Erik Buell – in addition to several scooter brands and an interesting mix of biker related goods and services.

Against the backdrop of a still sluggish economy and an industry devastated by the recession that continues to be pummeled by shifting consumer interests, AIMExpo stretched out over five days, making for an endurance event for exhibitors and a mid-week challenge for attending dealers. What rolled out over those five days will go a long way towards determining the future of domestic powersports business marketing events.

aimexpo set to launch

Powersports Gets New Show

Recent news from Advanstar that the Dealernews February Dealer Expo, held in Indianapolis after moving west from Cincy in 1998 but suffering badly from lagging attendance and exhibitor disinterest since the high water mark in the mid ’00s, will move to Chicago in 2014 means the newly formed AIME consumer show faces a much lower bar to overcome as a cross-channel powersports industry marketing event.

Orlando has enjoyed major motorsports industry success as a destination for years. Ironically, after welcoming thousands of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of attendees since moving the event south, the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) expo, held in OCCC’s North-South venue since 2001, returns to Indy this December as part of a SEMA brokered reunification with the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS, aka, hard core racing).

I’ve enjoyed many industry events in Vegas, Indy, Cincy before and after, and in Orlando – in both the West Building hosting AIME’s inaugural outing and the massive North South venue across the street. Considering Orlando’s in my back yard – midway between where I grew up on Merritt Island an hour south of Daytona and where I now live on the Gulf shores – it’s with some amount of satisfaction that the move I’ve long recommended to the powersports industry has now come to pass.

“We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here!”

SEMA registrationI’m proud to identify myself as an advertising and PR professional who attended his first powersports industry event in the lobby of a long forgotten Daytona Beach hotel while studying Journalism and Communications as a PR major at the University of Florida in the late ’60s.

So yes, it comes as somewhat of a rude shock to discover that the critically important marketing professions have been explicitly excluded from the B2B portion of the event by way of a regressive, considered, exorbitant admission fee. In my own home state no less.

“Non-exhibiting manufacturers and service providers can obtain credentials to attend AIMExpo during the exclusive trade-only days on October 16, 17, & 18, 2013 by paying a mandatory $400 registration fee per person.” (Emphasis added)

This, despite the occupations’ marquee status as a major advertised component of the event’s announced educational sessions. Well that’s just stupid. Nothing like slamming the door in the face of an industry you’re only too happy to promote from a short list of insider presenters.

Unfortunately, AIME management seems content to continue to fail to grasp the critical role pr and marketing communicators play in the age of global social media or the technical nuances that go with. Note to organizers: the hot topic in mar-com these days is the merging of journo and pr as creators of much coveted retail content.

  • Exhibit A: Google “AIME” – discover why product and event naming is an art, not a commodity, in an SEO ruled universe.
  • Exhibit B: a Facebook invitation to this pr pro to “like” the event’s Spanish language page. Uh, yo no hablo español.

“Please note: Media credentials will be provided to reporters, writers, editors, videographers, photographers and producers. Advertising, sales & marketing and administrative staff are not considered working media and will not be provided with media credentials.” Ok, got it. Marketers are pariahs. Insult to injury, message received, message understood.

In the all important social media promoted message sweepstakes (including blogs), organizers have said no and no again to any WOM publicity on behalf of their aftermarket and OEM clients – the exhibitors.

For – lets say the scooter crowd, who are arguably in need of whatever exposure they can garner – this is a major missed opportunity.

As a content manager for a powersports dealer and other aftermarket clients, say so long to any professional mar-com generated event coverage or mentions. For – lets say the scooter crowd, who are arguably in need of whatever exposure they can garner – this is a major missed opportunity.

So with that not so slight slight out of the way, here’s some of what you might expect, might need to know, and might want to discover if you make the trip.

One Booth You’ve Got To Visit

For first time - and nearly all will be - powersports visitors to the massive OCCC facilities on International Drive, here’s a little insight into what you can expect compared to Indy’s mid-winter experience.

Weatherwise, October comes in as our second most active month for major storms, including hurricanes, behind September – which right now is pretty soggy. Just saying, come prepared for the occasional raindrop and although it’s early Fall for us it may still seem like the height of Summer, depending. Here’s what else you might want to know.

GoPro is an announced exhibitor, and based on past experience not only is their booth a blast, it’s the best chance you’ll (probably) have to score an on-the-house camera. They always bring game, and theirs is one of the hippest and smartest booth marketing efforts you’ll see. Free beer’s a definite possibility, but even if it weren’t the show and tell theme makes this big dog and pony a must see.

Where Ya’ At?

When it comes to a place to stay, the sky’s the limit. Metro Orlando is second only to NYC in lodging. One of Indy’s major draws was the ease of pedestrian access between downtown lodging and the convention center. OCCC? Eh, not so much.

Odds are you’ll want to stay reasonably close by on International Drive, and there’re plenty of options to choose from, from lux to how many can we cram in a room.

Who’s Driving!

Nobody drove to and fro in Indy. Make that virtually nobody, as downtown parking was a sparse commodity. Whether you were holed up out by the airport or in more recent years downtown, private show shuttles and the connected airwalks were the way folks got around.

Orlando’s different. Unless you’re staying across the street from the West Building in either of the Rosen properties or the Peabody, best bring your hiking boots.

In fact, even if you did snatch a room at one of those facilities, the walking distance still might come as a shock compared to, say, Indy’s Hyatt.

PRI, to its great credit, put together a fleet of convenient and timely hop on board show buses that operated around the clock during event hours and included the (understatement) popular Beer On The Bus after each day’s close. AIME hasn’t said, but the difference in scale probably precludes anything similar.

If you’ve got a car, you’re in good shape. Parking’s plentiful at the OCCC – $15 at the venue lot. On street? No and no. Otherwise, you’re likely marooned and will have to depend on public transport and private taxis to get around.

What’s For Dinner?

Unlike Indy – very unlike – you won’t find a dense downtown collection of closely connected destinations reachable – weather permitting – within easy walking distance. And also unlike the business oriented downtown Indy vibe, Orlando – make that Florida – is mostly indifferent, what with close to 70 million annual visitors tracking up the front hall.

If there’s going to be one major complaint, it will be the lack of memorable and/or quick dining options. Forget anything like St. Elmo or Palomino, although Tommy Bahama offers an interesting menu – the crab bisque in particular. Orlando is home to the Darden (Olive Garden, Red Lobster) Group, and that means you’ll most likely end up at a theme inspired franchise, take a number, and wait for your server to hustle up touristy drinks and mostly mediocre fare.

If over the years spent at Indy you’d grown accustomed to making a dash, quick or otherwise, outside Expo to grab a burger at Steak and Shake, a Happy Meal at Mickey D’s or one of Palomino’s fabo pizzas, well hang on to those memories. You wish.

I can say this without equivocation: OCCC food is nothing if not expensive, considering it’s mediocrity. You’re pretty much a captive audience while at the event – $15 for the cardboard inspired All American Cheeseburger, fries and a soda may have you begging for mercy after a couple of days.

What To Do Besides

Wellllll, besides Biketoberfest, there’s Disney some miles west or Universal just up the street – where you can grab a Duff beer at the brand new Simpsons’ Springfield attraction. Just around the corner there’s Sea World and dicey off-road adventure can always be had on S. Orange Blossom Trail (not on any tourist map or ticket kiosk). Or you could head 45 minutes east and spend some time hanging out at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp for a taste of the kind of food I grew up on, finishing up with an airboat ride around the St. John’s River fed Lake Poinsett.

Then, if you haven’t been yet, continue your journey up to NASA’s excellent Kennedy Space Center (KSC), then out to Cocoa Beach and a run through home boy Ron Jon’s original Surf Shop for a memorable dude experience before heading home.

Welcome to Florida!

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