Wednesday, January 25, 2012

American innovation

Innovation is a hot topic lately, I hear about it at my job and in the collective consciousness of the business world quite frequently. Innovation for new products, new work methods, new infrastructure … the list goes on. With innovation comes the need for change, a concept championed by some and fretted by many, yet necessary. And at the root of innovation is creativity, which seems in recent decades not to receive the respect it deserves in American business.

As stated in the article “Innovation and Growth ‘Inextricably Linked,’ GE’s New Global Innovation Barometer Finds,” the US is perceived “as the country with the best reputation for innovation.” There is no doubt that the US is where it is today because of its innovative history. Think about the many inventions we now take for granted – automobiles, computers, light bulbs, semi-conductors – all products of American inventiveness, and great feats of innovation that have propelled this country to the global economic forefront throughout its relatively short history.

With the outsourcing of manufacturing to Asia and automation of jobs once requiring mathematical skills over the past few decades, America now finds itself in a rut. Nine or ten percent unemployment as blue collar jobs are shipped overseas and a lack of a new industry to compensate for these losses – it is time for the country to embrace and find opportunity in its innovative spirit as a means to turn this crisis around.

Innovation, creativity, and inventiveness cannot be automated or outsourced. They are part of the American fabric, the source of our former industrious heyday. As the findings suggest in the Innovation Barometer study, the other developed and emerging nations recognize this to varying degrees and are investing in innovation with the intent to drive their economies forward. In order for the US to stay ahead of the curve, it needs to invest in its intrinsic talent pool, despite the slow economy and lack of funding. It can start with the education system, placing a new emphasis on the arts and sciences. Out of that will grow a new awareness and appreciation for innovation and creativity that can be embraced not only by the business world, but also on a larger cultural level.

As a communication professional, I feel it is my obligation to help lead the wave of innovation at my job and in the community. My employer would not have endured a century-and-a-half if it were not for its history of innovation, as I am sure the same could be said about many other older American businesses. We need to sow the seeds now so in one hundred fifty years America will still be regarded as “as the country with the best reputation for innovation.”

See the article that inspired this post, “Innovation and Growth ‘Inextricably Linked,’ GE’s New Global Innovation Barometer Finds” on GE Reports:

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Book Trailer from John Palisano: Palindrome Hannah, a novel by Michael Bailey

UPDATED: Check out this new book trailer (version 2) for Michael Bailey's Palindrome Hannah, produced by my good friend John Palisano!

See more at:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Social Media Rules of Engagement

I have extracted this list of social media engagement rules from a strategy plan I wrote to use for the WCSU MFA Writing residency peer workshop. Since all social media is in the public eye, consider all posts and interactions as extensions of your personal and professional brand.
  • Maintain professionalism.
  • Present a positive outlook.
  • Offer insightful and unexpected information; avoid the mundane.
  • No sophomoric or immature behavior.
  • Be authentic and transparent.
  • Do not engage in fights or other negative behavior.
  • Do not make lewd or crude comments.
  • Draw others in to develop relationships.
  • Level playing field – treat everyone with equal respect.
  • Do not bad mouth other people or organizations.
  • Avoid participating in discussions on political and religious viewpoints.
  • Maintain political neutrality when a political story may have relevance to the IT and staffing industry.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Response: The Zen of Social Media Marketing

I wrote this book response in early October 2011 for one of my MFA Writing courses and thought I would share it here.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani
Three Lessons in Social Media Marketing That I Will Apply to My Own Work

Reading The Zen of Social Media Marketing helped answer some questions I have faced on this abstract subject. Shama Kabani stated in the Introduction, “the traditional marketing rules cannot be applied to social media because social media is not a marketer’s platform.”  Therefore, I learned about a substantial methodology that addresses this conundrum for growing online business known as ACT (Attract, Convert, and Transform). I was then introduced to a simple yet effective tool that applies to all of the major social platforms: building credibility on the social web based around my own expertise. Last and most importantly, as referenced in a quote from Jack Humphrey of on page 39, “you must think like a user first and a marketer second” when implementing social media marketing.

According to this book, all social media tactics should fall into at least one category of Kabani’s ACT methodology. With a distinctive online presence in place, the first objective is to attract an audience to the branded website, treating it as the online hub for all social activity. A website built around an active blog ensures fresh content is published frequently and keeps the door open to consumer engagement. The next step is to convert those website visitors to consumers and paying customers by earning their trust. This is accomplished, in part, by repeatedly demonstrating expertise to the targeted audience on a subject relevant to both their interests and the business. The final goal is to transform those successes so they will attract new successes by allowing the opportunity for repeat customers to become online brand evangelists. After it has proved successful, the ACT cycle will continue in perpetuity with new waves of potential customers on an ever-expanding scale.

The constant delivery of expert content to target audiences is a key strategic point in engaging and attracting consumers. To do this, Facebook offers both Groups and Fan Pages, which build communities around common interests, which can include businesses. Hashtags are used on Twitter as a common thread to carry conversations about specific topics that any interested person can contribute to. LinkedIn offers professional groups and an online forum specific to developing expertise, called Answers. After I read the LinkedIn Answers section of Kabani’s book, I immediately – and rather excitedly – found myself on browsing and answering several questions, offering my own expertise in the Graphic Design category and elsewhere.

Throughout the ACT process the importance of being human in social media – not endlessly selling and promoting – is huge. Kabani built the case that behind every user profile is a human being; they want to connect with and talk to other humans, not companies or person-less brand names. It is crucial for a successful outcome to treat people online with the same respect they would expect in a face-to-face meeting, especially in a time of crisis or when making a sale.

Looking forward in growing my own career, expertise building on LinkedIn Answers will become a standard routine multiple times a week. Most significantly though, I will use Kabani’s ACT methodology as the foundation for writing future social media marketing plans.

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Find this book on Amazon here.

Short List for Peer Workshop

This is a short list of articles including some I shared with my classmates during the fall 2011 semester in West Conn's MFA Creative and Professional Writing program. I have compiled this for the social media peer workshop at the January 2012 MFA writing residency.

Publishing Talk | 10 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

PR Daily | Careful, writers! 10 common words with opposite meanings

PR Daily | Your guide to the history and nuance of punctuation

Ragan | 5 ways to eliminate prepositions

Ragan | Not getting Twitter followers? Here are 10 key reasons why

Slate | Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

Social Media Today | How to Practice Social Media Etiquette

Social Media Today | Social Media Tips for The New Year