Ms. Herr when online

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Archive for the ‘marketing & advertising’ Category

now holding open community office hours

Posted by Ms. Herr on 11.18.2009

Ms. Herr offers open community office hoursLong, long ago in a land far, far away… Or rather longer ago than I want to admit to <sound effect: cough cough>April</cough> in pretty much the geographic location I am today, I had the idea of holding open community office hours. At the time, I was unemployed underemployed and yet somehow extremely busy. My weeks were marked by coffee and lunch dates with people who had heard from someone who had heard from someone that I was the person to talk to about whatever it was that they needed help with. My dates would pick my brain, asking questions about social media, community events or business startup ideas.

I could have ranted about how these meetups were essentially free consulting sessions, how they didn’t yield either contract work or employment offers, or how my dates would then run off to implement things we talked about while I still had to scrape together money to pay my gas bill if I wanted to keep taking hot showers. But for the most part, I was enjoying myself for four key reasons:

  1. I love social media.
  2. I love the local Phoenix social-web-tech community I’ve become immersed in.
  3. I love meeting and talking to new people, many of whom seem to find me though this very same social-web-tech community.
  4. And I love coffee.

From something that was naturally occurring, and something that I was enjoying, came the idea to give in and hold open community office hours. Akin to a college professor’s office hours, these are times when people could join me at a local coffee shop or eatery to talk about anything that interests them, whether it be social media, current events or name ideas for the family’s new goldfish.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Every week, I’ll choose 1-2 days to hold office hours, typically in the mornings before the workday kicks off.
  2. I’ll publish the dates, times, and location of these office hours on this public Google calendar.
  3. If you plan to join me, you’ll drop me an email at heather lynne herr at gmail dot com with “office hours” somewhere in the subject line. (I guarantee there will be mornings when that email verification that someone is expecting me will be the only thing that ensures I don’t sleep in an extra hour.)
  4. We’ll meet, chat, and enjoy some good coffee and/or noms.

One very important do not:

  1. Do not come with the intention of talking about anything that you want a NDA, written or verbal, to discuss. I am by default a very open person and I don’t want the pressure of keeping your secrets.

I’m kicking things off this Friday, November 20th at Liberty Market. If you want to join me, holla!

Posted in community, events, marketing & advertising, social networks, the biz side | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

have a say in what others say about you

Posted by Ms. Herr on 09.4.2009

Originally posted to the Terralever blog on September 3, 2009 as:

Businesses Using Social Media to Stay on Top of their Brands

It’s all around us and it’s here to stay. Businesses and brands on our favorite social media platforms hoping to be friended, followed and faned by existing and potential customers who will then go and share branded content with their own friends, followers and fans. Social media networks make this sharing easy. Comment, like, retweet, favorite, or star something, and others will see it. It’s that word of mouse marketing.

The good news for businesses and brands is that over half of participants in social media networks are currently connected with a brand and 46% have spoken positively about a brand.

The question for companies, then, is how are you influencing these mentions? Are they unsolicited references to your product or service? Or are they the effect of others sharing the content you’ve published online? Consider the most mentioned brands on Twitter are Starbucks, Google, BBC, Apple and AIG. All are big name brands, but only the first three have a Twitter presence. Apple and AIG do not, and in the case of AIG, mentions were more often criticisms of company operations as they came to light during the financial crises than any sort of messaging initiated by or on behalf of the company.

On July 22nd, social media channels were abuzz with the announcement that Amazon bought Zappos. News of the announcement was quickly followed by links to a letter from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to employees explaining foreseeable affects of acquisition, and to a video of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talking about both companies and his views on entrepreneurship. Amazon and Zappos are both incredibly active in social media; Amazon is the sixth most mentioned brand on Twitter. That engagement from both companies helped shape conversation about the acquisition. The video received over 35,000 views from site embeds occurring on that same day. The letter inspired hundreds of blogs and reblogs, and thousands of tweets.

When the information you’ve created is what’s being shared, then you have more opportunity to have your voice reflected the stories others tell about you.

*If you’d like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so here and/or on the original post on the Terralever blog.

Posted in blogging, marketing & advertising, social networks | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Bit Gravity releases a free, customizable flash player

Posted by Ms. Herr on 02.20.2009

BitGravity just launched a subdomain for their sandbox projects, and the first release is a free flash video player. Lead developer, Dean Casalena provides a great video demonstration and writeup of player features. I don’t do a lot of video. Correction, I don’t do any video (unless you count 12seconds). But the BG player is sexy enough that I almost wish I did.

I’ve seen BitGravity players in action with MultiView, revealed during a special episode of Diggnation, and various live streams set up by Brian Shaler. Each time, I’ve been impressed by the production and player quality, so I assume this new player is up to par. But what really sets my branding and marketing heart a beating is the theming options. The interface allows you to insert your logo into the viewer and change the colors of the player’s status bar. This ability to customize is great from a branding perspective.

It’s not uncommon for individuals, startups, and small businesses to search out low cost ways to meet their needs. In the process, they must settle for the default appearance of a tool, usually designed to reinforce someone else’s brand. With the BG player, there’s no need to settle. You still have the BG logo on the left of the status bar, which is great because it denotes quality. But the rest of the player is all you!

BitGravity flasy player

Note: This message is inspired in part by BitGravity co-founder, Barrett Lyon. I’m guessing I popped on his radar with this tweet, and he reached out to say thanks. Just thanks. That’s it. Simple and easy. Yet that acknowledgement led to me to talk twice more, on Twitter and here, focusing on exactly what I liked about the BG player … twice more than I probably would have otherwise. That’s community/fan/advocate relationship building. Bravo!

Posted in geekery, marketing & advertising | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

is money falling into the lap of a merciless flirt?

Posted by Ms. Herr on 01.12.2009

I’ve had numerous conversations with people regarding the inspiration and intention for merciless flirt, and inevitably the subject of monetization comes up. Many seem surprised that I currently don’t have plans to monetize. Not that I’m against it, but my goals, in order of importance, are:

  1. Have fun with a moniker that arose via Twitter.
  2. Test my hand at branding, marketing, and curating content for a niche interest microsite.

Certainly there is a wealth of opportunities to monetize the site. Flirtation, as a natural means for demonstrating interest and attraction to a particular individual, plays well into everything from date designing* to match making to pleasure products. I may strategically pursue monetization in the near future, but only after I have outlined a path that is consistent with my brand intentions.

So what do I do when an opportunity to monetize falls into my lap? Besides be wary?

Consider this very short email from Dulce Liebe:

To the site administrator:

I’ve just visited http://mercilessflirt.com/

I was wondering if maybe I can pay for a text link ad on that site. Kindly email me back if you’re interested so we could discuss pricing and other details.

Thank you for your time.

My first thought is spam/scam. Funny how often the two seem intrinsically linked. But back on point, what kind of name is Dulce Liebe? Dulce means candy or sweet in Spanish. I have no idea about Liebe. Liebe means love in German (via @timebarrow and @1Tap), creating a bilingual play meaning Sweet Love. Also, there is no reference to a company name. I ran quick Google search for “Dulce Liebe” and came across several blog comments similar in vein to the above email, increasing my wariness.

On the other hand, there is no commenting capability on merciless flirt. I have a mercilessflirt.com email address for contact purposes. Interestingly, the above email did not come to that address, but to the address on file with my domain registrar. I’m a bit of a novice, so I assume finding this address would require a bit of research. But I’m not so much of a novice to not guess that sniffing out the emails of domain owners is something a bot could do.

So is it legit? Or is it spam/scam? I don’t have a lot of information to go on and I don’t have the skills to mine the internetz. I know what my gut tells me. I don’t want to rush to conclusions. And I’m curious… What you think?

* Unsolicited plug for Date Designer. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist. I think the concept is cool and Beau Frusetta is Hot Like Fiya.

Posted in blogging, marketing & advertising | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

a few considerations before starting that 2nd, or 3rd, Twitter account

Posted by Ms. Herr on 01.6.2009

“Who should I follow?” It’s a question every new Twitter user asks. But it’s also a question that established users continue to grapple with. As our following counts escalate, so do the challenges of keeping up with it all. The questions may shift to more narrow focuses such as follow etiquette, data quantity and filtration practices, but the root question is the same.

There is a worthwhile conversation emerging on this subject on Tomas Carrillo’s blog. I highly encourage you to read both his original post and the comment string before continuing with the rest of this post.

Tomas is leaning toward creating a second account so that he can manage his professional and personal interests separately. For many, this can appear an attractive solution.

The jump into multiple accounts is a critical step with a variety of implications. The benefits will vary depending on your goals, but there are some ramifications, for both user and reader, that are easy to overlook.

  1. Compartmentalizing business, personal, and niche identities as separate entities forces others who may be interested in the multiple sides of you to follow multiple streams. It’s easy to think others might only be interested in the _blank_ side of you, or that you’re only interested in the _blank_ side of others, but that’s rarely true. Being one-dimensional is usually considered a character weakness.
  2. Maintaining multiple accounts is likely to increase your overall time investment on Twitter. Just as you are forcing a reader interested in the multiple sides of you to read multiple streams, there will be individuals you engage both professionally and personally. On which account do you then follow them? More often than not, you’ll probably choose to follow them on each of your accounts, increasing the redundancy of your feeds.
  3. One account is likely to become favored, while another will become neglected. While your time invested on Twitter increases, time available in a day remains static, making it less feasible to devote equal and adequate attention to each account.
  4. You may undermine your brand. Whether you are a company or an individual, your brand is the unique composition that emerges from a variety of facets, from history to aspirations, from deep-seated values to social connections. As you siphon off certain facets for promotion in other channels, you risk the overall richness of the fuller brand. This risk is greater for freelancers and sole entrepreneurs. Your business is most likely an extension of yourself, and as such, your professional and personal lives are mutually reinforcing.

Using multiple Twitter accounts to separate interests is a growing trend, but in general, it’s something I would advise against. The exception may be for highly niche interests. For example, I maintain @PhxArtYC to provide updates on events at the Phoenix Art Museum. And consider Francine Hardaway who tweets as @Earth911 which is dedicated to environmental and recycling content.

Unless there is a need separate a niche interest from your personal brand, keep a single stream and show of all the different sides of you.

Posted in blogging, marketing & advertising, self-portraiture, social networks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

building accessible websites

Posted by Ms. Herr on 11.12.2008

Gabe Vega of The Blindtechs Network gave a presentation on accessibility and usability at Refresh Phoenix last night (download PDF version here). The age-old wisdom is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and many of us sighted folk have probably never given a second thought as to how accessible our sites are to individuals who need screen readers and other assistive technologies to use our sites. We evaluate sites based on visual, functional and user experience aesthetics. Gabe is blind, which mean he evaluates sites based on accessibility aesthetics.

Gabe’s presentation walked through a handful of sites with various accessibility and usability issues. One example was the site of a local businessperson built using WordPress. The primary critique of the site was that blog post titles were not tagged as headers in the source code, meaning that a screen reader has no way of discerning its importance. All users skim headings to find the content we are most interested in. Sighted users look for changes in text size, font, and color. Blind users, via screen readers, look for demarcating tags. Thus, a screen reader ‘skimming’ the site completely skips over the post title to the comments section. And what good are comments if you don’t know what people are commenting on.

I mention the WordPress site because it is most relevant to my own sites, namely the one you’re reading right now. Ms. Herr when online is a WordPress.com hosted site using one of their standard theme templates. Curious if the title-not-tagged-as-header problem varied by theme, I turned on VoiceOver (fn+command+F5) and tried to navigate this site. The result: TOTAL FAIL. Katy, my reader, spoke the name of my blog, but nothing else. I’m guessing it’s one (or two) of two things:

  1. The theme I’ve selected doesn’t not include the proper tags for accessibility.
  2. I suck at using VoiceOver.

I have plans to redesign Ms. Herr when online in the near future. Even though I’m not a developer, I’m going to attempt to do it myself (wish me luck). After Gabe’s presentation, you can bet I’ll be testing the design for accessibility (assuming I can figure out how to not suck at using VoiceOver).

Bottom line, a basic understanding of accessibility and usability is important to anyone involved in the creation of websites. As a client, you need to know to ask your web designed and development provider to integrate usability into your site’s design. As a provider, you need to know how to design for accessibility.

And if you haven’t done it already, I’d encourage you to look at your own sites for accessibility. Check out W3C Web Markup Validation for one great tool (thanks @scottyj). If you don’t have the time or the know-how to make the fixes, or the time to self-teach, hire someone who does.

Posted in blogging, marketing & advertising, Phoenix events, the biz side | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What can you learn about (so-&-so) in one week?

Posted by Ms. Herr on 10.31.2008

It occasionally happens that Twitter doesn’t register tweets sent via text message until several hours later, or sometimes not at all. I’m not a fan of these type of glitches, but hey… ish happens. This evening, I had a two-tweet thought, but the first one didn’t post posted out of sequence. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise as now I can elaborate on my inspiration.

tweet 1: try turnin on SMS notifies for one person you follow for one week. you’ll get a great feel for who they are.

tweet 2: on for me right now: @jaybaer. really impressed by how he embraces new users & laudes lauds his contemporaries, community, & commenters.


For those who don’t know him, Jason Baer is, among many things, founder of Convince and Convert. He is a deep thinker who shares his insights and perspectives on social media and other digital marketing techniques. We’ve been loosely connected as mutual followers on Twitter for some time, but had never conversed on or offline. Until last week.

I met Jay on the final evening of the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer. I immediately turned SMS notifications on. A few hours later, Jay nearly took me out of a poker game on the first hand. Still I left notifications on. And I haven’t been disappointed.

Over 7 days and 75 tweets, I’ve seen Jay warmly greet new Twitter users, congratulate and well wish first-time bloggers, whole-heartedly promote blogs and articles he finds compelling, and graciously engage with his community both on Twitter and through his blog. I enjoyed seeing that it’s not all biz. He is engaged in his family’s lives, and he has included family into his professional life with Hottie and the Fatso. Jay talked recently about out-caring the competition, and he does.

It’s been a rewarding experience watching Jay’s character unfold via his tweets. So much so, it makes me wonder what I will learn about someone else by following all of their tweets.

Why don’t you try it? Turn on notifications for one person you follow for one week. Then come back and tell us what you’ve learned.

Posted in blogging, marketing & advertising, social networks | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

ordering more biz cards today…

Posted by Ms. Herr on 10.28.2008

I’m really good at procrastinaaa… just-in-time processes. With PodCamp AZ right around the corner, and being newly self-employed on the hunt for projects/contracts/employment, I’m madly trying to get various things updated/printed/launched. Last week I managed to get minicards printed for merciless flirt. My first thought was to use Moo, but they have a 10 business day turnaround that didn’t fit my schedule. I did however, find MyMiniCards. I think the service has some definite limitations that were frustrating (file dimension requirements, cropping feature, back side text and layout), but they are competitively priced and have a quick 2-3 day turnaround. And I’m happy enough with the merciless flirt cards that I’m going to try to place another order for Ms. Herr when online. If I place the order today, they should arrive Friday. I don’t know if it’s the best solution, but not too shabby if you’re in a pinch.

Posted in marketing & advertising, the biz side | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Google’s mini makeover

Posted by Ms. Herr on 06.12.2008

Google’s got a new favicon. Did you notice? I think they launched it last week (or maybe the week before…can’t remember exactly when I first saw it). Very lower case. Very 2.0.  😉

old favicon old favicon new favicon new favicon

Posted in marketing & advertising | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

truth in advertising

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.6.2008

Occasional Sundays find me veggin’ on the couch watching NASCAR on TV and the live leaderboard updating in a browser window on my MacBook. NASCAR is a sponsor heavy sport, so it’s only natural that some 80plus% (pure SWAG, as in the scientific wild-ass guessing type of SWAG) of the advertising spots are sponsor ads featuring the sport and the drivers. I usually watch these with mild interest and most I have seen several times. However, today marks the first time that I’ve seen the Chevrolet commercial featuring Jimmie Johnson’s achievement of back-to-back Nextel Cup Championships. Here is a version of the commercial:

I think it’s cool that the content reveals what goes into a making of a NASCAR season (or in this case, two seasons) happen, from car hardware (1,428 tires) to team personnel (98 guys from pit crew to back-of-house), but a single ‘stat’, the last ‘stat’, riled me: “one Chevy that’s built to last…built to love.”

Oh no, slow your roll! Jimmie Johnson did not win two back-to-back championships in a single, solitary Chevy car!

NASCAR drivers use multiple vehicles throughout a single season. They drive a different car on short tracks (less than 1 mile) than they do on longer tracks and superspeedways (at least 2 miles). These cars are designed to respond to the demands that the different track types place on the vehicle. Aerodynamics, engines, transmissions, and more can vary.  And because failures are inevitable, they have backup cars, backup engines, backup transmissions. It’s why you can go see an actual car raced by Jimmie, and not a life-size model, at a Lowe’s doing a special event leading up to a race.

The commercial’s desired message is that Chevrolet vehicles are reliabile and durable, that they can withstand rigorous driving conditions and still perform exceptionally. The desired message that you only need one car. Understandably, admitting that Jimmie drove multiple cars in the 2006 and 2007 seasons doesn’t sync with this message. But consider that he drove multiple models, Monte Carlo(s) in 2006 and both Monte Carlo(s) and Impala(s) in 2007*, the same Chevrolet models driven in NASCAR by any of the drivers in Chevrolets. He did drive only one brand of car, and maybe this is where Chevy gets away with taking advantage of a potentially unknowlegable public, with implying that one car is really all you need, and with bending (though I’d love to say blatently disregarding) standards designed to preserve truth in advertising.

*source: List of NASCAR Champions, Wikipedia.

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