Social Media Artists

Social Media Artists
Happy campers, helping clients

Smart Group

Smart Group
Not exactly a rock band, but close!

Smart Group Associates

Smart Group Associates

Social Media Discussion Board

Be part of the discussion about Social Media. Here is your chance to promote your business, your product, your knowledge. Follow this link and leave your thoughts!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Let me hear from you!

Hello friends. It has been awhile since my last post here because we are developing our new website which will include a blog, so this one may be phased out or perhaps it will stay but only with the emphasis on Social Media. The reason I say this one may stay with ONLY the emphasis on social media is because as a company, Smart Group and Gallery is de-emphasizing social media. Is that confusing?

Let me explain.

We are a full service advertising and marketing agency. Just yesterday I attended a promotional member drive to a certain kind of plan for TV advertising in this local market of Springfield, MO. Earlier yesterday, I spent the morning with an advertising rep from a large radio group in this local market too.

The reason I was doing those things is because our client, Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza is considering those venues. Actually, we've already started radio and we are considering some TV. I think the cost of both venues is extravagant, but my friend Mike is right to know that to jump start his marketing, he needs to spend money. We need to get "butts" in the seats to generate cash flow. We can't build the concept and the excitement of Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza without enough customers to support it.

So here we are writing radio scripts and considering TV advertising. Both venues would be ones we explain have continued to decline and why social media is replacing so much of that kind of advertising. The truth is, social media is most effective when it is integrated in to a mix of advertising forms. We never disputed this.

But the reason I've named this post, "Let me hear from you!" is because we are in the process of this new website design. I would really appreciate your consideration. There are two basic designs I'm close to deciding between. One you will see at http://www.smartgroupandgallery.com/. Now the thing about this one that I want you to know is that the static banner you see when you open it will be a revolving group of photos. It won't just be one static photo which you currently see as the three gentlemen (Me, Kevin and Brannon). It could have that as one of the images but it could also be three square photos, which then turn in to two photos, and then a different OTHER long banner photo, etc.

The other design we're considering (don't worry about the other logo consideration--that is another matter) is at http://www.smart.stewartmedia.net/.

Would you look at both and email me at socialmediaart@gmail.com and let me know which one you prefer. One style is with dark, rich colors and the other one is slick, clean and contemporary. Which one do you think is more "us?"

Thanks for taking a look. I really appreciate your continued support!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Moving in to new diggs


Dear Loyal Followers! Thanks for staying tuned! If you're reading this, it is because you've come to the old address, http://www.smartgroupandgallery.blogspot.com/. The regular domain has now been diverted to our new website which should go live sometime tomorrow, although it will be under construction for a few weeks. As a reminder, that address is http://www.smartgroupandgallery.com/.

Now if by some chance you've made it to this location prior to our Grand Opening tomorrow, and you will be in the Southwest Missouri corridor, near Springfield, we want to make sure you bring friends and come to the party!

Prior to the festivities will be our networking MeetUp which is being held as part of International Social Media Day. Ours will start at 5 PM and we'll have two very short presentations about Social Media and Web 2.0 (read two point "o"). Don't worry about hungry and thirsty, we'll have refreshments and Bruschetta for the 5 PM event.

Then the party will start at 6 PM with our exhibit in the art gallery, called "Wit and Whimsy" featuring the art of several artists, primarily local artist Carla Stine and Cincinatti artist Juli Ryan. Carla's "wall" will display her stunning color series canvases of the color spectrum. In total 11 striking canvases of texture and color, approximately 70 square feet to study mesmerizing solid color, surprisingly varied at closer examination. Carla's exhibit also shows off her delightful collages, 11 in all, each small, charming and witty.

On the opposite wall is the work of Juli Ryan whose paintings will send you in to dream land and a world of one particular kind of whimsical houses, trails, trees, cats, moons and all the elements of nature. Each painting would be perfect for the wall of any daughters room but also for the playful person who is thrilled by jewel like colors and fantasy happiness. Once you see one of Juli's paintings, you'll recognize every other one she does. And you'll never be able to forget the visions which jump out at you and take you back with them to their world of wonder and swirling elation.

Also featured are several sketches by resident artist Kevin Richardson and four beautiful color photographs by in house photographer Brannon Estis. Upstairs and along the stairway to my office are canvases by local artist Meike Aton who captures nature in vibrant colors and striking sillouettes. Also in the show are a few mixed media sculptures by long time artist and friend of the arts, Sally Baird.

Besides the great art and conversations which you'll have non-stop due to a packed house will be bottomless Sangria wine to complement the delicious cuisine of Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza. Three or four unique pizzas will be rotated and come steaming and crispy from the hot  pizza stone right out back from our grill. Other scrumptious offerings such as miniature seafood tapas, and bite sized chicken florentine will also be served. Big Mike himself (a classically trained chef and graduate of the famed Culinary Institute of America) will be also dishing out his interesting take on what it means to be a green restaurant and also one which features gulf foods.

What would excellent food and wine be without the luscious groove of a jazz ensemble? One dimensional! But all of that and live jazz--man, you won't want to miss it! You won't be able to stand still due to the incredible singing voice of Liz Carney who will remind you of Billy Holiday, without the smoky dark bar atmosphere.

Oh, and one last thing. Have you ever wondered where people get those professional looking photographs for their Facebook headshots? Well, look no further, you'll be able to have that taken at the party, at no charge and emailed to you within just a few days.

All of this also at the right price--FREE! And please take the time to introduce yourself and tell us about what you're into. Don't forget to bring friends. If you send me a note in advance, I'll give you a card good for a free cappucino, at the neighborhood Cupajo hangout--The Mudhouse!

Cheers!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Website coming this week

This little blog has been our temporary home until we move into our new website. You should see our new site later this week and this blog will move to another location. We'll let you know how to find it for anyone who likes to still visit this humble repository of rambling jargon.

A lot will happen this week as part of our Grand Opening week. We'll be announcing an on-line forum for locals in Springfield, MO who will also have lots of chances for actual social gatherings. Both the site and the meeting place will be announced this Friday. The site will be called ZarkoBuzz and you'll find the on-line gathering at http://www.zarkobuzz.com/. Also we'll announce our new free video series called On-Line Marketing Tools, which will be short YouTube "How To" videos for people in business. These should help everyone stay successful in these challenging economic times.

So these are the reminders for the week:

This Friday at 5 PM, a gathering to network about Social Media, as part of International Social Media Day. Then at 6 PM, we'll kick off First Friday Art Walk with our exhibit Wit and Whimsy, featuring the art of Carla Stine and Juli Ryan. At 7 PM, the music will start from Bella Donna, which is hip jazz and blues in the tradition of Billy Holiday, featuring the haunting and lovely voice of Liz Carney.

About that same time, classically trained chef Mike Bleil will be serving up his Gulf influenced cuisine from Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza. For you Sangria lovers, you'll be thrilled to know that the best summer punch will be flowing all night.

Brannon Estis from R. Brannon Estis Photography will be on-hand taking professional Facebook headshots for FREE! from 6 to 8 and the atmosphere will be loaded with fun for the party of the month.

Here is the short video to kick off the new "how to" series on On-Line Marketing Tools:


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Social Media Talk Next Friday

Please join us in Springfield, MO at 5 PM next Friday, August 6, as part of the International Social Media Day. We'll meet other Social Media insiders to open discussion locally about using social media for recreation and for business.

Immediately after, it will mark the Grand Opening of our Studio and Gallery, as part of August, First Friday Art Walk. We've got live music, the jazzy and blues sound of Bella Donna featuring the unreal beauty and haunting vocals of Liz Carney, who is the daughter of local opera impresario and singer, Jeff Carney.

Also we'll be featuring the delicious cuisine of Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza. Sounds like a crazy combination because it is. But let me tell you this guy can COOK! A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, with a personality that makes everyone want to like him. No pretense, no fluff, no puffed out chest. Just a guy who loves people to enjoy his food!

We've got the exhibit called Wit and Whimsy, featuring the fun and storybook art of Juli Ryan and the beautiful color series from local artist Carla Stine, along with a small group of her whimsical collages.

Free Sangria wine, free professionally taken Facebook headshots by Smart Group partner and photographer Brannon Estis, and lots of other fun. Don't miss it and please tell your friends!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back to Work

Just got back from a week's vacation in sunny Florida (oil workers everywhere and nare a drop to drink!). Time to get back to work.

Here is a little ruminations from the blogger dogger.

Times are tough. There is no free lunch. No one is going to do it for you. There is no magic pill. Social media is a mixed bag. Take the good with the bad. Every now and then you get lucky. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Go with the flow. Who said this would be easy. Put your shoulder to the plow and don't look back.

Remember to put it on your calendar. August 6. Our Grand Opening. Should be a blast. Food again from Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza (expect to hear much more about Big Mike's in weeks to come!). Music from Bella Donna (great jazz in the style of Billy Holiday, featuring Liz Carney). The show Wit and Whimsy with some twists for August. All four of the Smart Group associates on hand to talk about what we do. Lots of places to just "groove and enjoy." Enjoy the opening and the show but also engage in great conversations with other art lovers and folks interested in social media.

At 5 PM we have a presentation by Smart Group associates about social media and our spin on marketing.

Be there or be square...or a circle...or a triangle...or some other as yet undiscovered shape of the universe.

Peace.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Xspond

I'm on vacation but thought this article is good food for thought. Do you have a comment?

We'd love to hear from you!

btw, please mark your calendar for August 6. That will be our Grand Opening and also our MeetUp event for people to come early at 5:00 PM before Art Walk, to learn about Social Media.

See you there! Don't forget to let us hear from you!!!

Xspond
http://www.xspond.com/2010/07/01/outsourced-social-media-oxymoron/

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Smart Group Makes Marketing Fun!


A few examples of the Smart Group at work/play, helping clients with our Social Media Art!

We'd love to create some buzz for you or your brand too! Give us a call...


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Social Media Day Announced

As part of the international movement to promote Social Media, Smart Group and Gallery will host a Social Media Day discussion, prior to our Grand Opening on August 6, 2010.

Follow the Link

We will introduce the Smart Group, have some light snacks and give a 25 minute presentation of the significance of Social Media and your business. We will leave time for networking and discussion and then head right in to our Opening!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Smart Group and Gallery Opens!

In time for the July 2, First Friday Art Walk, Smart Group and Gallery opened to raved reviews!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Art, Life and a billion users

OK. Yours truly has been up since 3 am. Our opening of the Gallery is tonight, in Springield, MO, as part of First Friday Art Walk. If you're in or near Springfield, you'll want to come catch the party! Here's the stats:

Mike Bleil, from the soon to be open Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza in Nixa, Mo will be on hand personally dishing out the grub. Mike is no shoemaker when it comes to food. He is a graduate of the famed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY (my alma mater--that's right folks, the boy can cook). Mike has been around the block and works like a demon but the man knows his food. Come check out the kitchen we've set up to serve outrageous hors doeurvres! Pizza off of bricks in a make shift oven, with all fresh ingredients, hand made dough, sauce and GOOD cheese. Seafood quiches (hand made of course) in light and flaky pastry cups, stuffed shrimp from the Gulf (Mike will be talking about his environmental vision for the Gulf and how he is learning to be green on a daily basis in the restaurant). Oh and don't forget the classically made chocolate truffles, European style and hand rolled, then dusted with cocoa. Yum.

Sangria (made by your host) will be served by the pitcher full, perfect for a lovely summer evening.

How did we get here and whose art will be seen? Glad you asked! Last night at about 5 pm I was still fussing with a hot water heater that is blowing a circuit. We've rerouted the electrical with conduit, knocked holes in the walls (yes we were making holes in the walls and running power yesterday!!!!) and the stupid thing has water everywhere and I'm still confident that you'll have hot water to wash your hands with by 6 PM today!

Our windows were decorated by an amazing artist--THANK YOU KRISTI!!!. Believe it or not the concept for those windows came together by about 10 PM last night. I bought the funky furniture from a flea market yesterday, which I had spotted last week. Kristi is doing this while still working a regular work schedule, all within less than 24 hours. The window displays themselves will be a feature of the show. What a gas. You'll have to come see them.

Featured show art Juli Cady Ryan and her beautiful acrylic paintings will no doubt steal the show. I finished hanging her 22 pieces last evening by around 9 pm. Here are a few of her works on exhibit:







Also as part of the show, which is appropriately called Wit and Whimsy, local Springfieldian artist Carla Stine's works, including her stunning color series, seen here:





will be on exhibit.

Work of our own associates, Kevin Richardson and photographer Brannon Estis will also be displayed, as well as a few other works from local artists.

I'll be around to show off what I've been raving about, this new genre which I'm convinced will storm the art world, called Social Media Artist Revolution. I'll be bragging about some of my expermental blogs, including my beloved Children of Zol and other various flavors of my insanity.

Now to talk about Social Media issues a little and to get your impression.

In this morning's Social Media Today ezine, there was an article about Facebook getting to a billion users. That is a big number. We hear about thousands of gallons of oil leaking into the gulf, about hundreds of millions of dollars disappearing from the economy, about scazillions of poor people living on a dollar a day, etc, but Facebook getting to a billion users is no easy feat! But the writer of the article thinks it will happen and also thinks we should each get paid to finish our profile--like Five bucks or so.

Naturally, all of this will help Facebook make tens of billions of dollars, but shoot man, why not? We're connected in ways we couldn't dream of. I met Juli, our featured artist on Facebook! and she lives like a thousand miles away! My friend Fawaad lives in Pakistan and we talk weekly on Skype because he is an associate and now works for my company. We met on Facebook! And the guy is becoming a brother, even though we are separated from dozens of obstacles, not the least of which Pakistan is in enormous upheaval, most people in America think they're all terrorists and times are tough everywhere. But you think we have it rough, you ought to try making a go of having a successful business in a region which has bombs and gunfire going off non-stop!


Anyway, here is the full article about Facebook getting to a billion--

Read the article here.

Don't forget to let us hear from you. This is after all called the ART OF THE CONVERSATION. Read yes, but talk back and let me reply.

Come to the show tonight if you can and if you're reading this after you've been to the show, provide your feedback. We'll pay you....

Well maybe not like in real money. But we'll think of something!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wit and Whimsy

Self Love by Juli Cady Ryan


Our first art show in our new building will be a week from this Friday on July 2, 2010 as part of First Friday Art Walk, in downtown Springfield, MO. For more information about FFAW see here.

The exhibit, with over fifty original works of art, will feature the witty work of local artist Carla Stine (who is currently exhibiting at Good Girl Art in Springfield) and Indianapolis artist Juli Ryan whose whimsical "storybook" art makes everyone feel like a kid again. Also we will be featuring some of the fun sculptures of Sally Baird who is a long time supporter of the arts in Springfield. Her lamps and mixed media sculptures are playful and full of surprises. Appropriately, the show is named "Wit and Whimsy."

Also featured will be photography of Smart Group photographer Brannon Estis and a few pieces by Creative Director Kevin Richardson. If time allows, I'll have started on a sculpture which I concepted well over a year ago, called Mother and Child which will be a study in clay, my first modern work in sculpture.

Our first show will be an unofficial opening or what we used to call a "soft" opening in the restaurant business. In other words, it won't be highly promoted as we still have much to do for our Grand Opening on August 6, 2010.

There will be hors d'oeuvres prepared by Mike Bleil of Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza, from Nixa, MO. Mike and I have worked together for almost 20 years. We are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America and Mike's food is explosive with flavor. He is very conscientious about the environment and much of his seafood comes from the Gulf Coast, so he is totally "plugged in" about seafood issues and environmental problems.

With just a week to go, we're "crazy" busy with details. Never a dull moment at Smart Group and Gallery!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You say you want a revolution

I've been writing about internet, social media, governments, rights, privacy and the arts. Somehow, this is all jumbled together in my mind and related. But I think stress has been playing a part in my disposition and it feels like the right time to tell you--I want to be happy.

What could possibly keep me from being happy? A guy who has so many gifts to be thankful for? The moment feels "drenched" with complications. New business, very difficult economy. Managing a home which includes a head-strong teenager. But if you were about to take in your last breath, would any of that seem important? Like, just before you died, do you think images of opening a new business is what would flood in, or temporary flare ups with your children? Probably not.

One of the reasons Kevin and I (Kevin Richardson, the Creative Director for Smart Group) started this business is so we could also pursue our artistic hobbies. In other words we didn't want to find ourselves back in the situation we recognized when our art was something we weren't finding time for. So making art is important to insuring my happiness.

My philosophy about a new genre of art is one of the things that integrates with my recent predisposition about internet considerations.  You may have seen me mention this new genre I call The Social Media Artist Revolution. It is a revolution to me and yet how often have you heard someone say they're a social media artist? Still there are scads of them, even though they may not call themselves artists. Take for instance the millions of YouTube videos produced by people who obviously love to make funny short videos. Most of these people seem to pursue their interest as a hobby, without any thought to how they'll be "paid back," for their time. If this isn't art, I don't know what is. Certain bloggers too, go after a style of writing with a vengeance, even though hundreds of thousands of them probably have fewer than five readers--talking about a starving artist!

This morning on my facebook page, I posted a series of photos which I made in photoshop. A group of friends and I have a blog called Smiling Heart. One of the authors posted a picture of a cloud which appeared out her office window. In a much earlier post, I had "snatched" a photo from the internet and used it along with a post I submitted, which also depicted a heart in the clouds. Seeing the similarity to the two photos I decided to play with the images in photoshop. Eventually this lead to a short video I produced along with a great saxophone and piano composition snagged off of YouTube. Both the series of photos which I posted on my wall this morning and the video which was shared between blog authors are examples of what I call Social Media Art. These are self expressive art forms, though very non-traditional. This kind of art is quick and exists almost exclusively just on a computer screen. It is shared in the "cloud" of our new web 2.0 world. Anyone can do this and it should bring millions of people together, sharing feelings and being satisfied because it is doing something with your hands.

While many people may debate how much this is really art, I propose that it will be very legitimate and eventually seen in galleries, on large screens and will include mixed media of all kinds, including videography, music, fine art and something new, which we couldn't even imagine yet.

Revolutionary really. What do you think?


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Whose Internet is This?


Peter Klein, author of the book Capitalist and Entrepreneur, writes extensively about how the internet was created by the government but how the internet has flourished because of market enterprise. His point is that the internet wouldn't have come about had it not been for government funding and cultivation. He makes room in his understanding for how markets and governments compliment each other. His article from the Ludwig Von Mises Institute from four years ago this month was written before the most recent rounds of debate about the internet--privacy issues--and freedom.

The current issue of Newsweek has an article by Julia Baird entitled "The Front Line is Online--Freedom should trump privacy." One of the emphasized points of her article is that an overwhelming majority of people (even those few who currently don't have access) feel that it is a fundamental right to be able to use it. The counterpoint is that privacy issues may be best handled by the information a person decides to share.

These are very interesting times we're in. People all over the world are feeling the impact of governments and corporations and a growing number of us are finding it more difficult to earn a living. Major problems such as environmental disasters and economic upheaval are leading people to reach out to other like minded individuals to seek solutions--often by using channels other than a political process.

The internet is more than just Facebook and Google. But taken together Google and Facebook (as symbols of search engines and social networking) compose the most powerful communication tool which has ever been imagined. Peter Klein couldn't have known how the internet would evolve.  Nor can we begin to know what it will look like by mid-decade. But all of us expect it to be much more powerful than it is today.

What if governments and corporations consolidate the power and enterprise of the internet?  What history exists to suggest some other course is likely to occur? There has been one grand experiment in the history of mankind, and that is called The United States of America, in which power was fully taken back by the people and a new form of government was created. Is the experiment fully functional today? Are there indications that the people, even in the United States are losing their power, and that power is residing mostly with corporations, that in fact control the government? And is that same model something which caused revolution and the need for people to regain their rights which had been lost?

These may be dangerous questions to ask but they are only questions. Thank goodness we have the ability to debate and to question and we have the greatest tool ever created for doing so--and that tool is the internet. Both corporations and governments are really just networks of individuals. How we look deeply at the issues of privacy and freedom and how we decide to manage this vast internet network will also deternine how we handle the biggest challenges facing mankind. How we take care of the planet and how we take care of each other--will decide the fate of human culture. This all starts with our ability to communicate. Who controls the internet then, may be the most pressing question we face.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Social Media AS art


First of all, I'm weird. Most people wouldn't necessarily think of how someone wears their hair as ART. Or how someone walks down the street. You see--I DO!

To me, self expression is art. Or it can be...should be. Artists are always expressing a feeling with their art. That is really what they're doing. And they use mediums which aren't (typically) linear to accomodate and communicate their feelings.

So along comes social media, which of course is NOT new but is certainly exploding. If you don't know that and you're reading this, some whacky mishap has occurred or we're in the most recent episode of the Twilight Zone. I call a new phenomena which is going on THE SOCIAL MEDIA ARTIST REVOLUTION. Think about it.

There are artists (many of them kids really, at least compared to this grandpa) who may have never done a finished piece of art in their lives except great coloring book projects or school collages or whatever, who are making crazy funny videos. There are bloggers coming out of the webwork. Granted, usually you want to blow your brains out when you read the drivel that is being positioned as "worthy." But some few writers, again--many of whom may have no idea what a curriculum vitae is, have the art of blogging down. In fact, they lead the way for "schmos" like me, who are just sort of stumbling along by picking up scraps here and there--faking our way.

Welcome to the Brave New World of Social Media Art. If you know of a video or a blog or a Flickr page or a Wikepedia article or even a particular tweet of renown which qualifies--will you share it with us? If I really dig it, I'll give you Five Social Media Art Dollars, which I'll personally design myself and put in a very special YouSendIt envelope, addressed to your social media address of choice. Hey, maybe we need to do a special Facebook page--whatayathink?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Arts and Social Media


Arts groups such as non-profit community organizations have their greatest marketing tool at their finger tips--their computer keyboard! Social media is a custom made solution for arts organizations which are challenged by shrinking public funds, desperately needed to support their missions.

Photography is one way to tell the story. Putting together virtual "galleries" is not that difficult using Flickr, Facebook, blogs and websites. Arts galleries, in fact are finding that their on-line galleries will drive traffic to their physical location.

Compared to print collateral, gallery owners find that the best way to promote their public presence is effectively using Flickr, their homepages, and the thumbnail versions of their logos. When it comes to good, solid content being shared in multiple ways, Flak Photo has made a model of itself. With a six day a week photo newsletter and links to Twitter and Facebookthe site is well positioned for necessary links. But the distinguishing factor of Flak is how it offers photographers a chance to promote their work.

A great project that illustrates effective use of social media for the arts comes from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. They run a crowd-sourced exhibition with curation via the photography exhibition.

Arts organizations have learned to be creative and nimble to stay alive. The smartest ones are using all the help they can get from experts who know how to get the most bang for the buck by expertly managing their social media opportunity.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alex Badalic


Alex Badalic is a writer and a businessman and he happens to do so in five languages. He is also very astute at social media marketing, though he wants to point out that he is not an agency or an "advertising man." He likes the saying by Ogilvy, "Not rules, fools, tools," which I read for the first time on his website today and find to be an anthem of wisdom.

As the fifth part to a series "Tracking and Measuring Buzz on Social Media," he posted this article in mid-April. I suggest that everyone who wants to be more effective using social media and with internet communications in general should follow his discourse here

Enjoy and remember--leave him a note and suggest him to others who you want to help!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are we communicating better or worse?


Twenty five years ago the internet was at the lowest rung of communications. Arguably, TV was at the top and newspapers were vital. Now every medium except internet is threatened with economic and strategic problems.

TheSmart Group is interested in developing the "art of the conversation," and it won't serve our best interest to become known as political commentators. But it does make sense to keep our eyes on the industry to understand what is happening so that we can help our clients and friends navigate the waters of effectively managing communications.

I was just watching a debate on the Newshour on PBS about whether the internet is enhancing or detracting from the process of effective communication between people. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia argued that the internet is helping people be better informed. Farhad Manjoo, a columnist from Slate Magazine argued that people are more fragmented and more lonely who spend time on the internet and less well informed.

Much of the debate focussed on the siloing affect that people tend to "silo" themselves by reading the viewpoints and blogs of their own political persuasion. It was pointed out that the network news shows which are the most popular with the highest ratings are one-sided such as Fox News or Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

It seemed to me the debate was easily won by Mr. Wales arguing in favor of the internet. The issue is of great interest to me though because if the internet is leading to the general break-down of communications or is actually the "last shoe to drop" while peole of the world talk less to each other, then my suggestion that social media marketing is a great solution for businesses would be a weak one.

What is your opinion? Are we getting better at talking? Is our internet world a real community which encourages conversation--or are we becoming more isolated by having fewer face-to-face conversations?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

We the Social Media


The Canadian government has learned to use social media to help promote its tourism. The Department of Tourism and Parks in Canada has jumped in with both feet in its mission to spread the word about Canada being a great place to visit by using Facebook, Youtube, Flickr and Twitter.

"Obviously there are other options out there, but we took the four biggest ones for now," department spokesman Ryan Donaghy says.

In the U.S., a memorandum was issued by the President's office in April of this year and here is a quote from the memo:

To engage the public, Federal agencies are expanding their use of social media and web-based interactive technologies. For example, agencies are increasingly using web-based technologies, such as blogs, wikis, and social networks, as a means of “publishing” solicitations for public comment and for conducting virtual public meetings.


Last week in Washington D.C. a convention was held called Gov 2.0. Here is a presentation from NASA's Linda Cureton, dealing with cloud computing (which provides the space for social media networks to exist in):



And here is the website for more info.

While it interests me that governments are turning to social media to expand their communication channels, I wouldn't want governments to try to control the networks or to some how add layers of bureaucracy to what has evolved as the most important open source of communication which has ever existed. There is evidence that Facebook has infringed on privacy and the government has stepped in. I wrote about that in the last post. The post before was about the ban by Pakistan of Facebook because of a protest for religious reasons.

Those of us who are making our living by teaching others how to benefit by using social media or by helping clients market using social media are part of the "collaborative creative class" or C3. Our greatest work will be to help each other and to set clear standards of ethics and best practices. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment here or by posting on the Interactive Social Media Discussion Board

I hope to personally engage you in a conversation to find out how we can help each other!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Privacy Is You

It is a popular conversation topic right now. PRIVACY ISSUE.

In today's on-line PC World, poll findings were announced to the question:

Facebook's Privacy Changes--Are you Satisfied?
73% NO, 23% YES.

In this week's Newsweek (paper edition)they reported the old news from weeks ago. Remember when your friends were complaining that Facebook was strong arming them to either make their hometown interests and friend's names public or else not list them?

Newsweek reported that the biggest problem is that Facebook keeps changing the rules. Yesterday, I read the blog post by Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and he said,
"We don't pretend that we are perfect. We try to build new things, hear feedback and respond with changes to that feedback all the time."

It seems to me that the controversy is whether Facebook is selling or using the wealth or our personal information without us knowing it.

Personally, it seems like things are moving so fast that no one really knows. If we each monitor our own posts, including the personal information we share in INFO, we will do our best to protect ourselves from problems arising from information which can be used against us. The BIG BROTHER issue has been with us forever. Remember the movie with Sean Connery, ANDERSON TAPES? It seems though that the tables have turned and Big Brother has a new uniform. The communication network is called "Open Source," and when you think about it, all information is out there. It is just a matter of learning how to use the tools to find out what you want to know.

What is your feeling? Do you think Facebook is out of line? How would it affect you if Facebook wasn't there and didn't offer the free services that it does? What if all this leads to us having to pay a monthly charge to use Facebook? With the government and Fair Trade Commission poking and prodding Facebook, there is sure to be "tax," in some form or another.

Share your thoughts. We're interested!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Third Largest Country Blocked in Some Countries


About a week ago it was announced that Facebook now has more than 500 million users. That officially makes the population of Facebook the third largest country in the world, bigger than the United States by almost 200 million but still half the size of both China and India.

Ironic now is that in a country half the size by population of the United States and lying geographically next to one of the largest countries, that Pakistan joins the largest country--China--in a block of Facebook.

What is going on here? Well, the situation is different between China and Pakistan. And the Pakistan blockade is supposed to be lifted in just a week or so. But still the situation bears consideration.

In China, the ban is permanent or at least there is no foreceable date of the ban being lifted. In China the ban includes Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube and is part of the government's communist block against free speech. In Pakistan the ban includes Facebook and YouTube and is a temporary block in protest to a Facebook page which promotes the drawing of Mohammed, which is against the Muslim faith.

What is very interesting to me is that Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik turned to Twitter for his social media "fix" after his son explained that Twitter should work for him. By the way, it was reported on NPR four days ago that the original Facebook page which was offensive to Islam has now been removed, possibly by the page creator.

Social Media is more than a past time. For many of us it is the most important tool for our business communications and marketing. What is your view about the Pakistan blockade?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Branding YOU


How are you doing at marketing yourself? You know when it comes right down to it, whether you're teaching school, leading a corporation, or heading up a non-profit, your effectiveness will be based on your relationships.

I've discovered that it isn't your level of education, the size of your bank account or even how cool your website is (though of the three things listed, I'd put my money on your website!)--it is how much people dig where you're coming from.

This will be a short post but a few things I want to share with you. One is the excellent social media website called Alltop (www.alltop.com). Watch their explanation video here

It was at Alltop (an on-line magazine rack for your favorite topics) that I found the well written article on seven people who have marketed themselves very well. The article is on another great site called Social Mouths and can be found RIGHT CHERE

So go brag about yourself, in the right way. Help people. We need to be doing that!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More on the Like Button and Why it CAN be great for marketers!


No need to rewrite this article. Ben Cohen has done a fine job. Let us know what you think.

The discipline of relationship marketing is already facing waves of changes with social media providing a variety of new approaches and opportunities to communicate with customers. Optimizing communications with email marketing alone has been an ongoing challenge for companies of all sizes. Developing an appropriate communication strategy requires understanding the needs, attitudes and behaviors of customers, fine tuning copy and frequency that will resonate with customers a business is trying to reach.



Clearly social media is already having an impact. Customers opting to follow Twitter streams, join community programs or become “fans” on Facebook are signaling they are opting in to some sort of communication. I met recently with a financial services company who is leveraging these opt-in communication points to offset email marketing – literally, they are sending less email because customers are choosing to interact with their brands through different vehicles.

Facebook just threw yet another a monkey wrench into the mix. With the ability to “like” any page or content out there with a unique URL, a communication strategist has another dimension to manage. When a customer “likes” a page, or perhaps even a specific product, the brand then has the capability to communicate directly with those fans. For example, as a reader if you “like” this blog post (you can choose the verb “recommend” instead, in the settings for the API), I have the ability just like a normal fan page in Facebook to communicate to just the fans of this post. Facebook creates a ‘ghost’ page only available to the admin, which will allow me to track statistics and see an explicit list of people who “like” or “recommend” the post.

Imagine the applications. Companies in all industries could consider implications around targeting through Facebook for specific brands, product lines or individual products. A pharma company, for example, could leverage this function to communicate with Facebook users around specific conditions if they happen to “like” a specific treatment. Retailers could too, except they need to be careful – do they really want to manage communications and fans at a SKU level? Nike could integrate communications via Facebook likes for fans of Air Jordan, but it’s probably not sustainable for each shoe. Bookstores could manage communications with folks who “like” historical fiction different those who “like” Manga.

At the big business level I think there is going to be an emerging emphasis on communication management, copywriters and ongoing relationship marketing strategists to digest these technologies and build case studies to drive business results.

The magic sound of the cash drawer opening


There's always a story to tell. The trick is getting people to listen.

Do you have a product or a service that you want to promote? Are people beating a path to your door?

What we do, at the Smart Group, is lovingly package your story into a compelling form of communication. Then we go find the conversations that are taking place, which are likely to be gatherings of your target audience. We then introduce your story as part of that conversation and lead that audience back to your door.

Come share your story with us so we can deliver more customers to your cash register.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Facebook Changes


This article in the Huffington Post does a great job cataloguing and explaining the recent changes on Facebook. If you're like most of us and not a developer, some of this seems very technical. I suggest you bookmark the article and put it away until the time you need to know the specifics. Chances are, you will have a need to know with a client or when developing something for your own business. Cheers!




http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/22/facebook-changes-the-ulti_n_548356.html

Fans vs Like on Facebook

I wish to share an article about the newest development on Facebook. She makes some great points and indications are good that this will be better both for consumers and marketers. Your thoughts?

http://larasolomon.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/i-love-the-new-facebook-interaction/

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name


Many people are discussing the sweet smell of success. Whether you're in business selling widgets or new construction, whether you're an employee for a major corporation, a non-profit seeking funding, a political campaign or a small business entreprenuer--we all hope that the cash registers will be making that beautiful music again, which we simply pronounce...ching ching.

Social Media Marketing is widely discussed. But it has many names. Facebook now has more than 400 million users and new applications everyday. Twitter continues to add value to a marketing campaign, if the marketer is savvy enough to uncover the leads by cleverly finding keywords that will lead to consumers and supporters.

But did you know that software tools may be the most important component to an integrated marketing communications plan? Even without understanding how they work, everyone already benefits by software of social media. Google is very social. Facebook works on huge data entry fields and dissemination.

We like to build special software packages for our clients so that using all the elements of dozens, even hundreds of social mediums can be done efficiently, spontaneously, timely and within a given budget. Space doesn't allow me to explain this simply but imagine having an interface which exposes your business to all social mediums in one place and your workers can operate the system while other service providers can also assist if you so desire.

Why not call me today for a test drive. You can decide if the idea stinks or smells as sweet...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Facebook statistics


Friday, March 19, 2010

Five Ways to Use Social Media for Business


This is a paraphrase of a recent article by John Jantsch in Social Media Today. For the whole article go here

To sign up to receive Social Media today, go here

1) Follow up with prospects

The suggestion is instead of following up with a call or email to someone you just met at a luncheon, to add them to LinkedIn and send them an article pertaining to something you were discussing and show them how to create a custom RSS feed for their business to get tons on information about their industry.

2) Stay top of mind with customers

Several suggestions from recording a video about a customer experience and uploading it to your YouTube channel to blogging about a customer experience were mentioned.

3) Keep up on your industry

Subscribing to industry blogs, using Google Reader and Google Alerts to using paid services such as Radian 6 and Trackur were mentioned.

4) Provide a better customer experience

Here he mentions industry tools and this one in particular called Central Desktop

and last but not least:
5) Network with potential partners

Here John talks theory about building a strategic partnership strategy. We hope you'll join us at our strategic partnership network called Interactive Social Media Discussion Board

This has been a tremendous asset for us and it can be for you and your business too!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

So What Are You Doing?


As part of the baby boomer generation, we at Smart Group are part of the later demographic to catch on to the Twitter "craze." But it is important that we strive to catch-up because as "social" goes mobile, and people are connected to friends and businesses through their phones, we need to help clients navigate this terrain so that they are successful with their social media approach to business.

This video is very basic, but if you haven't seen it and you're new to Twitter, it may be helpful. If you are a sophisticated Twitter user, you may find access to this video helpful, so you can recommend it to people who don't understand it.

Enjoy!


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Case Study


This post will be about work we're doing for the Springfield Regional Opera of Springfield, Missouri.

With 30 years doing opera in the Ozarks, our local opera company is struggling. It is not unusual for and opera company to struggle, especially in this economy. To do "grand opera," it is very expensive. Not to mention that the audience has aged and SRO (Springfield Regional Opera) has not been building a younger base.

The new president of the board, Les Brown Jr. of Les Brown and the Band of Renown is making great suggestions and things are working. The SRO is starting to do more contemporary performances out of costume, along the lines of The Three Tenors and modern versions of La Boheme. The other performances such as Voices of Christmas and recently a performance called Jazzaria, which combined Jazz with classical have been big successes.

Smart Group and Gallery has launced a new social media campaign. We've produced a new poster, showing the face of a four year old "diva" and several short videos, with the intention of building a new base of music lovers and positioning the performance as fun.



With just two weeks until the performance and starting with a small base of about 350 Facebook members, our goal to sell out the house of 375 seats will be a good measure of the effectiveness of the campaign.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Effectively using a "fan page"


Fan pages or Facebook business pages are all the rage. They're easy to create, they're simple to join. By joining one, there is very little downside. It isn't like loading software and doesn't tie up memory. It will increase an individual's network because of links with others who share some common interest. All around, fan pages are a good deal for everyone.

But one thing about them which is a vastly underutilized tool is the "Discussions" tab. Very few people would know this, but for someone who likes to blog, a discussion topic makes a great and easy home for a blog entry on any business page, just by starting a topic, posting content and then taking note of the link. If you happen to start a discussion on a fan page with a huge following, you have access to that readership.

The trick though is to make sure you post that link in as many places as you can. One thing you don't want to do is SPAM. So posting the link may be acceptable in some places, but not in others.

For instance, I'm an administrator for several fan pages. Some are for clients, some are for charities and organizations which I want to support and one is simply designed to support the industry of artists and social media marketing (and where the two intersect). You'll understand that makes sense because our company, Smart Group and Gallery is a collective of artists who also want to help clients with marketing using our unique artist-centric approach using social media solutions for businesses.

The page is called Interactive Social Media Discussion Board. If you're reading this, please take a break and go there now and become a fan. Feel free to use it to your benefit. We won't consider you SPAMMING in the least. The site is built with the theory that we can always find ways to help each other. You'll notice a wall post from the same day as this entry entitled "Creating more traffic using the discussions tab..."

I'm posting the same general message as that content from within that site, which was posted as a Topic in Discussions. Now notice that it also has a link of its own

You see the miracle of this stuff is how fast you can guide traffic. So go find where the traffic is and learn how to "talk" to the people in that flow of traffic. Don't SPAM but be genuinely interested in them. By proving to them you are, they typically will be open to whatever you want to talk about, even if it is to promote a product or service. Just be polite and honest. People dig that!

Now, go have a great day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Facebook flattens EVERYTHING


I'll try to start making my posts shorter. I know everyone is running crazy.

Something needs to be cleared up because there is almost an edge of "frantic confusion" about what Social Media is, what it can do and also about what it is not, and what it cannot do.

Let's start with the isn't (s) and can not(s).

Social Media isn't advertising in the traditional sense that it shouldn't be thought of as a "one way" tool. Traditional advertising, whether a TV spot, magazine ad or jingle on the radio doesn't involve conversation. It is designed to make an "impression." Period.

Social Media can not be tracked and analysed in the same way as traditional media (some would argue that traditional media analytics are bogus anyway). When someone asks me "What is the ROI?" or they explain to justify to the company bean counters that spending money on Social Media requires they put a value on the investment of time and resources, my reply is another question, "What is the value of being concerned about your customers?"

What Social Media IS is community. Social Media is the new place to meet. I want you to try something. Go to the free tool Google Trends. Start experimenting with terms. Nothing will show up along with Facebook. You will not find a term. "God?"--doesn't register. "Oprah?"--not even close. Wall Street, Obama, Tea Party, China, Haiti, Porn--doesn't matter. There is no term which registers. Facebook flattens everything. It is the most significant phenomena in the UNIVERSE!!! Perhaps of all time. What this tells me is that we still don't have a clue of what this is all going to turn out to mean. But for sure, one thing we know. For those who don't get "in," you might as well be stuck in a cave in Tibet.

What IS accomplished by integrating a Social Media campaign or campaigns in to your overall marketing/communications plan is that you engage customers in the most dynamic way and reach them through a network of friends and family.

This is already too long. Call me sometime to talk about how we can help you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Get your chatter box going.


This article, with a different title is reposted here with permission by the author, Richard Lee Rignall. Richard wears many hats. He's a social media advocate, a promoter of the arts and an overall friend of humanity. Please see more of his writing at
http://www.facebook.com/eskimosoup and join the art society of Hull, England at http://www.hullart.co.uk/.

Are you finding that there isn't much interaction on your page? As we've said many times before, interaction is key for success, not just on facebook, but on any social media platform. If all you post is information about your products and services you may find that your fans rarely comment. Not only that, but you'll rapidly run out of things to say. Without the interaction, your page may as well be just a traditional website.

So if you're not just going to talk about your business, what should you talk about? First, ask yourself, who are my customers? Are they predominantly male or female, what age groups are they, where do they live, etc?

If you can narrow it down to less than "my target audience is everybody who ever draws breath", you can start to look at what interests those smaller demographics might have. If you struggle with this, why not ask your clients. Send out an email survey or just ask in general conversation.

Once you have an idea their interests, look for any that have any relevance to your business. If there aren't any, that's not really a problem, as the fact that your clients are interested, means that prospective clients could be. Whatever area of interest you decide on, start posting links on your page and ask for feedback and opinions. Once people start offering them, their friends will be informed and those with similar interests may participate too.

We recently launched a page for a lovely group of ladies who work at Originals Hair Rooms in Hull (http://www.facebook.com/originalshairrooms). They have taken over the administration of the page and it's going really well for them, with a lot of content on hair, which is a topic their clients like to talk about. They've also broadened this slightly by discussing celebrity hairstyles, etc.

However, the interaction is starting to wain, so we've suggested broadening the content further. Without wishing to stereotype hairdressers, a lot of chatter goes on in most salons, so they're perfectly placed to say what their clients are interested in. This needs exploiting and ideally, that chatter needs replicating on the page.

So we've suggested posting links on celebrity gossip and asking for opinions, and to think about what else their clients are interested in. They could also post content on holidays, making sure to ask a question, which invites that interaction. Hopefully with this in mind, they can maintain their momentum and make a real success of the page. Good luck girls!

Get people talking on your page and you'll soon see your numbers swell. Talk shop sometimes, but not always.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Facebook Business Page


If you have a product or service to offer, you should have a Facebook business page. It is easy to set up and it is free.

As of September of last year there were over 300 million Facebook users! It is estimated that over 300,000 new users join every day. Perhaps as many as 50% of the users work as professionals, sales, executives, educators or are in technical careers. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook are women over 55. So it is no longer a networking tool for college students alone!


Until recently, only big businesses with big marketing budgets could setup a Facebook account for their companies and/or brands. Examples included Verizon, Walmart, Victoria's Secret and other well known companies. For these brands, Facebook users could become "fans" by adding the brand as a friend (much like they would add a person as a friend). This was great for those companies but very expensive.

Now, any business can create a Facebook business page (sometimes referred to as a Fan Page), which any Facebook user can become a "fan" of. You no longer have to be a Fortune 500 company to afford this.

You will have to have a Facebook personal page. So if you don't have one, you need to create one of those before making a business page. Here are the instructions for Facebook users who want to creat a business page:

First go to Facebook's instruction page:

1. Follow this link

2. Choose the correct category for your business or organization.

3. Enter your business/product/brand name and click "Create Page".

4. Remember to add a short description of your business and a website address. This is in the "Add Information To This Page" area. You can upload a logo or a photo of your business, which you should do.

5. Click on your business name in the top left corner (it's a hyperlink) and then click "publish this page" (until you do this, nobody but you will be able to see your new Facebook business profile).

6. When you set up the page, from your new profile page, click "Become a Fan". This way, you become listed and can monitor and enter the conversation which will start to take place on your business page.

Once you've become a "fan" of your business, your friends on Facebook (some of which are likely customers) will see a message in their home page. Something like "Winston is a fan of Smart Group and Gallery". Hopefuly, some of your Facebook friends will add themselves as fans to your business. Then, their friends will see a message, and on and on, the more the merrier!

If you want to see a very creative Facebook business page to get your creative juices started, go here. Who would have guessed that stolen pencils would be such a great marketing tool?


Did you like what you read? Want more? Get automatic updates by subscribing to our blog (on the side of this page. And as always, we really appreciate your comments, so if you have a moment, give us your thoughts!

Thanks for reading...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Money. Talkin bout...


Is Your Company Ready?


Or will it be run over?


enjoy this short video...

video

Thanks to Jay Deragon from Social Media Directions for this video

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Did You Hear That?


A good salesman is a good listener. Now we find ourself in a delicious soup of networks (or it can be), in which we can engage in conversation after conversation, and develop many new relationships in the process. Many of us like to write, but how many of us take the time to read everyone else's comment?

As I explore this vast terrain, I'm discovering a trend. People like to be heard and they appreciate honest feedback. There is so much noise out there, many people crave the simple attention that says, "I read your comment and...(agree/disagree/offer this observation, etc)."


This post is about an article I read yesterday about Essential Listening Tools, for this game of social media marketing. First of all, Kevin and I describe what we do as helping clients communicate their values, which we think will get them customers sooner than simply talking about their products. So we're cautious about the term, social media marketing. But those are just words and people understand what you're talking about if you call it that. So I will introduce my thoughts about some of the tools mentioned and provide my view of their value. Many of you are much more experienced and I will cherish your thoughts.



1. Google Alerts. Targeting keywords for research is a no brainer and the technology couldn't be simpler. Three words...Thank you Google. Very kind of you. Every day I get a steady stream of emails which link me to articles and blogs. Does anyone have other thoughts about something better or can you point out any negative things to know about Google Alerts?



2. Technorati. I submit this in second place, along with the authors same order, as an appeal to experienced technology users who have found the strength or weakness of this search engine. My gut tells me it will serve us well because we need to explore our inner geeks. We like to think of ourselves as artists, but helping clients will require that we flex our tech muscles. Tracking, bookmarking, report writing, data analysis--clients love that stuff. Don't they?



3. Lexicon. I mention this one in third place to say I'm not too impressed. I spent some time there yesterday and it seems weak to me. Lexicon is a free ap from Facebook. In principle the idea is sound, but phrase after phrase, I kept drawing a blank. Can you fill me in about whatever I'm missing? I'll owe you one!



4. Radian6. I did a webinar yesterday with these guys and this is mucho coolo (bad English, not to be confused with mispelled Spanish for Big Butt). All I can say is we will certainly offer Radian6 technology for clients, whether we turn them on to the service and they do the legwork themselves, or we use it as a tool. As the author reports--Radian6 pulls information from the social Web, and analyzes and provides consumer sentiment ratings for your brand. Seems pretty expensive but worth it for clients that do enough volume.



5. Tweetburner. This last one I'll stick in here just to whet your appetite. There are many tools for filtering and monitoring the Twitter chaos out there. You tell me, what works, what is good value and what to avoid.



This is already longer than originally planned. Please come again and sit a spell. My promise is to be back in touch with you in less than 24 hours, so please...talk to me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

“… and what do you do?” merging purpose with the need to talk

Isn’t it interesting that, “What do you do?” is one of the first questions that we ask someone we’ve just met. On one level it’s an easy subject to give someone to talk about but on another, it is a way to find out about what they value and spend half their life working at.

Winston and I have known each other for years but, until we both joined Facebook we didn’t know that we had so much in common. Since we live in different cities, Winston in Ozark and I in Springfield there have only been the occasional social event to chat about family, work and opinions on current events.

Recently, I posted a drawing I made for my newest nephew in Edinburgh, Scotland. This drew a compliment from Winston and his comment, “I didn’t know that you did artwork.” This interaction led to us to meet for coffee and talk about our past work experience, family, and our mutual desire to do work that aligned with our values but also grew us in new directions. That is the ground from which SMART group is growing. And seeing the power of social media to draw people who share common interests, values and talents to support each other. Like us.

I have friends and have read about more and more people who are starting new agencies, businesses and organizations to do the same thing in their lives. These people need our patronage, encouragement and support to succeed. We want to work with them.

We believe our experience and talent in art, business, design, and communication combined with the use of different social media tools can help these people and their ideas succeed. Beyond advertising or marketing and more like introducing mutual friends at a social event, who you know have a lot in common. Helping tell stories when you know there’re not quite coming across or adding illustration to what’s being said to enhance the laugh or understanding.

So, that’s SMART Group & Gallery.

What do you do?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Radical Humility

A friend and I are doing research about Social Media. We are starting a new company in Springfield, Missouri, called Smart Group and Gallery. Smart stands for Social Media Art. We plan to create custom, artist-centric solutions that drive results. We hope that we're right about a theory. Our theory is that we can make marketing fun.



My name is Winston "Dub" Riley and my friend is Kevin Richardson. We think that helping others is our calling.



Since this is the first post for this blog, it is probably a good place for the confession. Kevin and I are just beginning to understand the power of Social Media. We're both over 50 and our own exposure to the medium has come to us like it has to most people over 50. We finally got a personal Facebook page and we have a lot of fun in that space. We are not unlike other people of all ages who find themselves clicking through sites and watching videos and listening to music. This experience has lead us to looking at photos on Flickr, watching videos on YouTube, reading information on Wikipedia, joining share groups like Twitter, signing up for bookmarking sites like Delicious, reading and creating blogs such as this one on Blogger. So in the spirit of transparency, we admit, this is all pretty new for us.



Lately Kevin and I have been getting each other excited with a thought. The thought goes something like this. There is a new game in town called Social Media. Social Media was NOT created so marketers have another way to sell things. Social Media is a forum for conversations to take place. Marketers who wish to spend time and genuinely desire to enter the conversation with their customers may discover a new way to do business. It is called being honest and transparent and working very hard to really understand what their customers concerns and needs are.


video

"How can we work within this medium," Kevin and I have been challenging each other with, "by doing what it is we love to do, create art?"

As we watch thousands of conversations going on in interesting meeting places on the internet, we see certain "art" that stands out. Whether it is a funny video or fascinating demonstration combining music and graphics, we recognize that some experiences move us on a deeper level.



















In other words, when a message is "cloaked" in a wrapper, so the audience will understand the message, as if it were a sentence to grasp, it doesn't move people in the same way as music or art does.



Naturally art galleries wouldn't be in existence, movies wouldn't have huge followings and people wouldn't stand in line to watch their beloved musicians perform, if art wasn't universally appreciated.


So for this first blog, timed before we've even got our building for the business and even before our logo has been designed and even before we've talked to one client about this and even before we have one other associate signed up to be on our team, we want to express our radical humility. We need to continue to learn much more about the medium and we confess our own limitations. In that light we're excited that this endeavor will help us grow as artists and should offer clients a chance to work with us in a very affordable and practical way.



To recap, here are the things we enjoy doing:

1. Helping others.

2. Creating art which moves people.

3. "Playing" in this new fascinating field called Social Media.

4. Basking in the Art of the Conversation.



Would you complete the loop by leaving a comment, perhaps to tell us how we can improve or help you with something? We'll do our best to keep the circle expanding. We treasure your perspective! Thanks for stopping in.