If you’re doing any social media marketing at all, you know the drill. It’s all about showing up. Being your authentic self. Showing that you’re a trustworthy human being, making a connection, reaching out one-to-one.

The cornerstone idea of this blog is that if you can create more remarkable relationships with your customers, you’ll have a more remarkable business.

It’s fun and it works and it’s a great model. But it does have a significant downside.

How am I ever going to get anything done?

The problem with putting so much you into your business is that there’s a finite amount of you.

A couple of years ago, I asked Chris Brogan at a conference how he manages it.

He didn’t need me to elaborate, he knew exactly what I meant. Following tens of thousands on Twitter, making himself amazingly available for questions and conversations around the web, writing great blog posts then following through in the comment conversation, writing a terrific book. Plus he has, you know, a job. And two young kids.

“I sleep about four hours a night,” he said with a smile. A tired smile.

Since then, I think he’s developed some more techniques for being able to make remarkable connections without killing himself. (I really hope so, anyway.) And he’s a particularly energetic, passionate guy, which helps a lot.

I can’t make Chris’s way work. I need plenty of sleep (and time to work out, and creative noodling time) to function. So here are my thoughts on how to manage the demands of the social web with the need to get things done.

You can’t be everywhere

I’m on Twitter and Copyblogger. A few times a month I post here, because I love the culture and community that’s distinctly “Remarkable Communication.”

That’s it.

Once in a blue moon I get onto Facebook to see friends, but I don’t use it professionally. I never venture into public forums any more, too many trolls. My Squidoo lenses are neglected, but luckily, they tend to take pretty good care of themselves. I have a LinkedIn account that I never use.

MySpace? Get real.

Pick one or two platforms (one of which you should own, like a blog or a great email newsletter). Do your best work for them.

If you create remarkable work in just one or two places, others will share your message far and wide. Mediocre work spread out over a dozen sites is mostly wasted effort.

My most important tool

The most important tool on my desk isn’t my laptop, my complicated GTD-based next action list, my phone (on which I spend more time than I like), or even my fancy fountain pen collection.

It’s my timer.

I work in 50-minute chunks, followed by 10 minutes of goof time.

The goof time is really important when you’re doing creative, difficult work. Your brain needs time to play and rest and have a good time, or it won’t work for you when you need it. Sometimes I knit, sometimes I hang out with the cat, sometimes I just walk in circles. Under no circumstances do I do anything productive.

My social media connection time is also on a timer. Twitter is confined to specific times of day, and no more than 10 minutes at a run. I usually answer email in 20-minute chunks.

I don’t have enough follow-up time in my day. I do the best I can with the time I have, and sometimes I drop the ball.

It’s 2009. Our lives are insanely complex, and our social obligations get overwhelming. We drop the ball. If you’re not doing heart surgery or managing a nuclear power plant, you’re allowed to drop the ball.

Bad as I feel when I don’t get back to someone, I’ve also realized that I can spend my energy feeling like a terrible person, or I can spend my energy helping as many people as I can. The latter doesn’t just feel better, it also makes a lot more sense.

The Sacred Two

I’ve made a commitment to carve out two hours a day, five days a week, for my most important work. (They’re actually two 50-minute chunks, per the above.)

Right now, that includes content creation for the membership site I’m building (I think that’s my first official public notice!), content for my email classes, writing for Remarkable Communication, and moving forward two on two other nifty projects I’m launching this fall.

There are other commitments I’ve made that are very important to me. Deadlines to hit, projects promised, email to answer. All of that is important. But it’s not sacred. Those two hours spent on my core projects are sacred.

Most of the time, they’re the first two work hours of my day. But if I need to take an important call or hit an early deadline, they might get shifted. What matters most is that they get done. 10 hours a week.

How do you do it?

I think this problem is nearly universal, at least for the community around this blog.

So how are you handling it? What are your favorite techniques to make social connections (on or off the web) without the social element eating your entire life?

I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments?

Flickr Creative Commons image by realSMILEY


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IPad Poised to Revolutionize Retail Industry

Industry Insiders See Device Affecting Everything From Catalogs to E-Commerce

by Natalie Zmuda
Published: April 21, 2010

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — In the first weeks of the iPad launch, retailers have been largely left out of the conversation. But industry executives believe the device could have a major impact on everything from retailers’ catalogs to e-commerce to enhancing the in-store experience.

So far, few retailers have embraced the new Apple device even though many already have iPhone apps. Gap, Gilt.com and eBay are among the retail brands that have created iPad applications, while Puma is expected to add iPads to its stores late this year. “For first movers, they’re going to provide a higher level of service, or perceived service, than those that don’t offer this kind of capability,” said Chris Davey, senior VP at SapientNitro, which counts Target, JCPenney, Barnes & Noble and Foot Locker among its retail clients. “It’s a connected experience for those who want to promote a multichannel presence or a higher degree of service in their stores.”

The first, most logical applications include e-commerce and interactive catalogs. But in time, the iPad could be used as a virtual sales assistant, allowing sales staff in the dress department to pull up coordinating accessories from the jewelry or shoe department. Car dealers could customize a vehicle, showing customers colors and finishes, all while standing in the parking lot. Transactions could be completed without visiting a register and special orders could be placed on the spot. Cumbersome, expensive kiosks could also be replaced.

With retailers already digitizing catalogs for online use, it’s easy to imagine distributing catalogs through iPad. Retailers like Home Depot, Best Buy and Williams Sonoma, especially, could benefit from the ability to imbed video of product demos, while apparel retailers could easily include styling advice from designers.

Gap’s 1969 Stream app, launched earlier this month, takes that idea one step further with a social-shopping experience that includes content from designers, musicians and fashion insiders, the ability to purchase items (or share them with a friend) without leaving the app and a geo-locator to find the nearest store. It includes a music video from Truth & Salvage, a video of Jay Sario from “Project Runway” dressing consumers in Gap denim, photos of celebs wearing Gap and tweets from designer Patrick Robinson.


Ivy Ross, Gap’s exec-VP marketing, said the brand first began developing its app with agency AKQA in mid-February. “I believe the iPad will be a new cultural icon. And the way it allows people to engage, we didn’t want to be left out of that,” she said. “It makes your brand modern.”

Ms. Ross said the brand won’t have download figures for another month, but she’s happy with the initial reaction from consumers, many of whom are declaring Gap “cool again,” she said. And Gap won’t stop with just an app. The brand plans to explore the iPad’s in-store potential at its 1969 Jeans shop in West Hollywood, though Ms. Ross declined to share details.

Mr. Davey said that his agency has begun showing retail clients how they could use the iPad and has gotten positive reactions, though he declined to share any specifics. “They’re all pretty psyched about the idea and want to prototype it,” he said. “But it does require some show and tell. … Until it came out, people didn’t know what to expect. Initially people were talking about it as more of a publisher platform, an alternative to Kindle.”

In-store uses of the iPad are where the real opportunity is, said several executives, though expense will be a hurdle initially. “We’ll need to see the price come down before it gets to chain retail stores,” said Kevin Ertell, VP-retail strategy at Forsee Results. But, ultimately, he said the iPad or another small tablet device could serve to replace many of the technologies that have been touted at retail in recent years, from kiosks to magic mirrors to handheld scanners used to check inventory. “It could wrap a lot of things up in a cheaper, more convenient way.”

“Without a doubt, the iPad will have a dramatic impact on the in-store retail experience,” said Edward Brojerdi, president-MDC Innovation Partners. “There are some logistical details to get sorted out — how do we make sure they don’t walk out the door, that people aren’t going to different screens — before it becomes ubiquitous, but it will happen.”

The iPad will be part of a program created by Kirshenbaum Senecal Bond & Partners, part of the MDC Partners Network, which recently won a global assignment from Puma, which includes building a new web experience and creating an iPad retail solution for the brand’s customization platform, Mongolian BBQ. The design-your-own-shoe concept had included in-store kiosks, which have since been pulled out. KSB&P is being charged with bringing iPads into the store to “reimagine” the Mongolian BBQ experience. It’s not clear exactly what that experience will look like, but execs say the iPads will be tested in stores this summer and begin rolling out to stores later this year.

IPad Meets Retail: Half a dozen ways industry execs imagine the iPad could be used at retail

  • 1. Catalogs: Online versions of print catalogs haven’t taken off, but iPad versions, with embedded video, as well as the ability to browse whenever it’s convenient and make purchases could be the next big thing.
  • 2. Customization: Cars, furniture, shoes and apparel could all be customized in-store, with customers able to easily view and select colors, fabrics and finishes, and then place the special order.
  • 3. Sales Floor Assistant: The iPad could provide easy access to product data, customer data and customer reviews, in addition to allowing transactions to be completed away from the register.
  • 4. Personal shopper: Customers finding a jacket in one department could access recommendations for coordinating apparel and accessories in other departments.
  • 5. Registries: Now divided into an offline and online experience, iPad could enable customers to create registries from a store’s entire inventory.
  • 6. E-Commerce: Consumers are already shopping on their phones; it’s only a matter of time before the iPad becomes another shopping tool.

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Bank of America to Spend Less on Traditional Outlets

At Ad Age Digital Conference, AOL’s Armstrong Discusses Content Venture With Merrill Lynch, Online Journalism

By Edmund Lee
Published: April 13, 2010

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — In an effort to shore up its ailing brand, Bank of America is doubling spending on digital platforms, but as a result will be spending less on traditional outlets, namely TV and print.

Claire Huang and Tim Armstrong at Advertising Age's Digital Conference today.
Gary He

Claire Huang and Tim Armstrong at Advertising Age’s Digital Conference today.

–> “We’re not abandoning any of those forms of media,” Head of Marketing Claire Huang told an audience at Advertising Age’s Digital Conference today. “But we’re realizing that digital not only allows you to provide information, you can have real, live connections. It’s not just a flat little square box you have two seconds to look at.”

Ms. Huang was answering a question from fellow panel member AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who also addressed his company’s revamped branding initiatives. “When I first started at AOL, a lot of people gave me advice to remove the AOL brand from the company,” Mr. Armstrong said. “I talked to a lot of different partners, and the fact is there’s a tremendous amount of goodwill behind the brand — it was so unexpected. So we made a decision to stay behind the brand.”

More specifically, and not surprisingly, deploying more content was the key solution for both companies, though in somewhat different ways. Significantly, Bank of America is improving its digital presence by increasing internal efforts, such as new texting tools, Twitter tools and self-produced webcasts, rather than on more digital ad spending. “Traditional advertising of digital like search and banner ads has shrunk a little bit,” Ms. Huang said. “We’re actually making our own content because we have the content experts.”

As an example, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit recently hired Charlie Gibson to talk on a panel about retirement planning that was webcast from the Merrill Lynch site.

Nonetheless, part of that content creation is also done in partnership, and Mr. Armstrong’s all-in content gamble for AOL resulted in a deal where the two companies co-created a financial planning site on AOL. “We know content, and they have the experts,” Mr. Armstrong said.

Addressing concerns that such an arrangement may be potentially damaging to the journalism industry, Mr. Armstrong spoke to the core concerns of news gathering: “My belief is that when you hire a great journalist you’re hiring their network, and not just their Twitter network — journalists are networks themselves,” he said.

AOL has recently gone on a journalist-hiring binge, employing the ranks of those recently displaced from traditional outlets, and in some ways AOL is seen as a reporter’s haven. But Mr. Armstrong also spoke about how AOL is planning content around reader requests, a practice that stands in stark contrast to the newspaper tradition of editor as expert.

“Content has been historically been done in a vacuum,” he said. “So we’re continuing to work on it, so two months from now AOL will be very accurate at producing content. The investments we’re making for improved use of technology for content will be a long-term net positive. I think we’re a great place for journalists. We have church and state at AOL.”

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Brightcove Completes New Financing Round

Online-Video Management Start-Up Brings Total to $99 Million in Venture Support as Industry Shakeout Seen in 2011

more in Tech »

Brightcove Inc., already a well-funded player in online-video management, raised what could be its final financing from private investors, as money continues to pour into companies that provide services to distribute Internet video.

The Cambridge, Mass., company received $12 million in new funding and expects to go public as soon as next year. It hopes the funds will consolidate its lead among firms that help companies post and manage videos to their own and others’ sites.

Competition is heating up. Last week Google Inc. purchased Brightcove rival Episodic Inc. for an undisclosed sum. ThePlatform, owned by Comcast Corp., is targeting …

Online video continues to grow…

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Colombia could overtake Venezuelan oil production in ’10 years’

oil, colombia,

An emerging markets fund manager predicts that within ten years Colombia could be producing more oil than neighboring Venezuela, in an interview with CityWire.

Francisco Alzuru, who runs the Hansberger Emerging Latin America Fund, predicts that “within ten years time you could potentially have Colombia producing more oil than their neighbour Venezuela.”

Alzuru commented that while Venezuelan oil production is declining, Colombia’s production is “growing tremendously.”

Colombia’s oil industry is booming thanks in part to security improvements and business-friendly policies implemented by President Alvaro Uribe, who gained office in 2002.

Alzuru notes that Pacific Rubiales, the Canadian-listed oil firm, has increased production from “a few thousand barrels a day, to over 100,000 barrels a day … just from the recovery of oil wells that were given up in the 70s and 80s due to the guerrilla issue and also the prices of oil.”

Figures released by Pacific Rubiales in January show that the company expects the oil output of its Colombian operations to increase to 400,000 or 500,000 barrels a day in the next four years.

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Illegal downloading is forcing the music, movie, publishing and other entertainment and information sources to adapt to the new technology. Most importantly it’s making content more affordable and accessible.

The problem is that big media companies are fighting this change instead of embracing it and riding the wave to the new era of distribution. Hounding fans, gathering lawyers to fight impossible battles, and doing everything in their power to clutch on to the old system. The system is bad, the people have spoken, it’s time to move on.

After all, how bad is illegal downloading anyway?

Read the full story at videoarmy.tv

My latest blog post, what do you think?

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