Using technology to stay connected

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So I’m writing this post nearly 4000 miles away from a little city in Spain called Granada. These days, one doesn’t have to be at home to stay close to the events of the week or even to work. With modern technology, specifically social networks, I am able to not only sufficiently complete my work remotely abroad from Spain, but I am able to stay up to date with my social circle and inform my family of my doings and whereabouts. Here are some of the tools I use and how I use them while traveling and working abroad…

Twitter: Without a doubt my favorite and most efficient tool. In the past, I kept a log of my travels via a blog, but it turned into a narrative of cathedrals and bars. I think the best parts of traveling are the little things you encounter, the things you don’t really remember to put in your blog. By connecting Twitter to my mobile phone, I can let my family and friends live my travels as they happen in real time simply by tweeting my experiences for the entire world to see. I did however run into a bit of trouble though when I promised my family I would tweet that I was safe as soon as I was done running with the bulls. My phone ran out of euros and I wasn’t able to let anyone know I was safe, chaos ensued and my parents and girlfriend started calling hospitals in Pamplona and everyone thought I had died. Have no fear I’m still here and am NOT writing this post from 6 feet under.

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Skype: In my opinion, this is the best video chat application on the market. Not only can you chat for free Skype to Skype, but for mere fractions of a penny I can call anyone in the world. Skype has given me the ability to stay close with my family and friends without costing me a dime. As a messaging utility, Skype is fast, robust, and lightweight. Skype also allows me to have the ability to SMS anyone in the world for some outrageously cheap rates. Another amazing snippet about Skype, they have opened their communication protocol for others to use. In laymen’s terms, other software engineers can integrate Skype’s VOIP technology to offer even more incredible features in the future.

Wikitravel: This is without a doubt my favorite website for traveling. Everyone loves Wikipedia, but Wikitravel takes it a step further and specializes the information strictly for traveling. Don’t k

now where to go for the weekend? Simply hop on Wikitravel and start surfing until you find that hidden little gem nestled deep in the woods or on a beach miles from civilization.

Facebook: This is an obvious one. One of the depressing parts of traveling is not knowing what is going on at home. Facebook’s mini-feed does an incredible job of making me feel like I am still sitting on my couch in East Lansing. Through traveling, I try and friend nearly everyone I meet. I have established my network around the world which I will be able to rely upon in the future. Too often people limit themselves to a close social network, my intention is to establish small networks all over the world and leverage them all as one. The possibilities are simply endless, upon my return next year I will have friends in just about every country imaginable.

Should Google and Search Engine Optimization be Regulated?

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I guess Google was getting so big, so uncontrollable lately, it was only a matter of time before we began hearing words of descent. On July 13th, an unknown poster whose been holding back their frustrations about Google, and SEO in general, spoke out about it.

I stumbled upon an article that was posted on TechCrunch.com about how Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become so unregulated it’s now comparable to “free trade”; with the one controlling all exports and imports being the search engine itself (i.e. Google, Yahoo). The article, which is written by an author who wishes to remain anonymous (for fear of fallout with Google and the SEO industry), makes points about how Google has too much control over search engine results, and the rankings of websites for certain companies and points of interest. This power and control, the author believes, should be regulated by the government and that it’s about time it happens.

“Through an uncontrolled set of factors search engines determine which listings appear at the top and bottom of any individual query,” says the author. “If you happen to own an online business, unless you exist within those top three (search results), the amount of individual traffic you will obtain from organic listings is very, very low.”

He also goes on to explain that these search engines should be required to publicly disclose the rule-based algorithms that determine result sets. This sounds a little like releasing the source code of a program, which would result in Google changing from a unique search engine brand to a common one. His points are interesting and thought provoking, but is government control really the answer?

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A blog post has been made in retaliation to the article on Econsultancy.com by Chris Lake, where he declares that Google and SEO should NOT be regulated. He goes on to list 10 points about how this anonymous author is wrong and comes up with some good arguments.

Let’s say the government does decide to get involved with this, especially if this becomes a hot topic. What happens to the digital agency and digital marketing as we know it? It seems like there would be a lot less calls from people who would love to use SEO for their company, especially if search results were completely randomized. I would especially hate to see sites that contain spam and other junk at the top of Google search listings just because they contain a few words from a search query.

I urge you all to read both of these articles and leave a comment on where you stand on this issue.

The Time Has Come To Regulate Search Engine Marketing And SEO

10 reasons why Google and SEO should NOT be regulated

“Knowledge is Power!”

Socrates once said: “The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.” ages before my time, but could he possibly be foreshadowing the feelings of anxiety and discovery of students constantly searching for ways to get an edge on their competition?

The “cutting edge” is expanding at speeds rivaling to the Indy 500. Students hoping to break out into the large scale agency scene are faced with newer and bolder challenges than our predecessors- especially for creative types.  As a Senior about to graduate from one of the top undergraduate advertising programs in the nation, I still feel like its my first day. Getting hired by a large agency feels a lot like auditioning for Broadway. If your not a triple threat with a killer head shot, you better have a plan B, C and D.

So whats an ad geek to do? Diversify.

When the economy is down the specialist suffers.  The more skills you posses the more profitable you are to an agency and your clients. Unfortunately, at the end of the day its not your beautiful copy, artwork, and strategy that matters – its whether or not you made the client additional profit.

I decided to stick to three areas of study to use as a jumping point to exploit my skills to present myself as profitable new hire: Style, Substance and Rock’n’Roll. The Style aspect being all things design ranging from traditional print to interactive media. Substance, well that’s everything needed to keep everyone on task, trafficking, account and media planning. I don’t work at chach-chi’s so wearing 30 pieces of flair isn’t mandatory, but the one piece of flair I can’t ignore is my crazy imagination and love for music.

I’ve recently started reading the book: Chasing Cool. “How to infuse [the product] with that very desirable, nearly unobtainable factor.” the very essence of the craft. how do you present a product or service fuming with that factor making it the flame your target market is drawn to. parallel to that to a job search and you could possibly take over the world…ok not the world, but anything is possible.

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So the challenge still stands can you present yourself as a brand across several mediums creating flow and uniformity to your prospects?  You can’t do it all, it is nearly impossible to be a expert at a large majority of the disciplines required to create an all inclusive campaign for your brand and those you hope to advertising. This is where the real test begins, how well can you network? Of course in advertising its not necessarily what you know but who you know. Being able to network with experts in the field you need help with is as esseintal as being proficient in that field.

As they say in show buisness be nice to the people you meet on the way up the ladder, you’ll see them on the way back down.

For those of you not fond of the outdoors

Believe it or not, the hottest ticket in town right now isn’t for the Britney Spears concert, but for a pre-order of Apple’s newest iPhone model, the 3GS. In combination with the release of the new 3.0 software update for all iPhones, the new 3GS flexs its muscles with twice the processing power in addition to the much anticipated video camera and MMS feature.

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As of today, there is no way to get your hands on one of these badboys, unless of course you are reading this blog post from your iPhone 3G in a tent while camping outside of your local AT&T store. But for those of you not interested in cooking S’Mores with a bunch of geeks in a parking lot somewhere down the road, there is a web publishing company with a few iPhone’s to spare for the lucky chosen ones. A company by the name of Squarespace is currently handing out 30 iPhone 3GS’s in 30 days, and you still have time to get in on the action.

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By now you’re probably asking your self, what’s the catch? Lucky for you, this contest is very simple. All you need to do is tweet once a day with their hashtag, #squarespace, and you’re automatically entered to win an iPhone. (From further investigation, it appears that they are only actually only giving out a $200 Apple gift card and not an actual 3GS, oh well.) The contest ends July 7th and you can enter as many days as you want, and while you’re at it, check out their site and take a tour of their web publishing software. I was very impressed with its intuitive interface and customization options, something I will definitely explore for future projects!

For more information about the contest click here.

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NMDL: Back in the Driver’s Seat

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Michigan State University is now offering, to both undergraduate and graduate students, a new course on social media entitled “New Media Drivers License.”

The New Media Drivers License course, or NMDL for short, provides students with a comprehensive overview of new media and digital marketing, and the relevance and importance of each for today’s businesses.  The course is taught by Ingenex Digital Marketing CEO and MSU alum, Derek Mehraban, as well as professor and Chair of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing at MSU, Dr. Richard Cole.

NMDL shows students how to take social media, like Facebook and Twitter, normally used to communicate with friends, and turn it into a valuable commodity for companies and clients.  In addition to social networks, the course covers the use of blogging, podcasting, search engine optimization, and a number of other digital marketing areas, including the never-ending uses of Google.

Paul Kanan (me), an MSU alum and a passenger on the maiden voyage of the NMDL ship during the 2009 Spring semester, says of the course, “This class rocks!  I recommend it to anyone going into public relations, advertising, or simply wants to have their finger on the pulse of the future.”

This summer marks the second offering of NMDL at MSU with three full sections.  The class meets at the beginning and end of the semester at Walsh College in Novi, MI, with everything in between taking place online.  For more information on the class, the course site can be found at http://newmediadl.com or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

So that’s the official Eco-Friendly word, but like I said, this class rocks!  And another thing, it’s long overdue, so check it out!

The Internship: New, Improved, and No Longer Just for (College) Kids

It’s that time of year again – the annual rite of passage when new graduates begin to lose their minds because they’ve entered into one of life’s no-man’s lands – the time between the end of college and the beginning of a career.

This time in one’s life can best be described as being somewhat like purgatory. You know you’re not quite in Hell because you’re relieved from the stresses of finals, proud of yourself for getting that degree, and happy to return back to Ma and Pa’s for a bit once the lease is over to hang with all your leftover high school friends while you search for gainful employment (true story).

But about one month in you realize something isn’t right, you can’t shake this gnawing feeling, and you finally realize what it is – you don’t get to go back to school in the fall.  “There are no more excuses.”  “This is your life.”  “A new chapter is about to begin.” A dozen other clichés. You have no answer for everyone when they ask that unbelievably annoying and patronizing question, “So what’s next?”  It’s even worse when you realize that employers aren’t just going to knock on your door because of your fantastic college resumé and that the job market is way down due to the recession. To be honest, it sorta feels like this:

So what’s a college grad to do, short of searching for Mrs. Robinson?  Well the answer for some may be right in front of them.  Just as graduates are beginning to look for jobs, current college matriculators (is that a word?) are also beginning another rite of passage – the summer internship (or their third or fourth such position for the ambitious).  The internship used to be seen as a way for college students to get experience and credit while employers scout the talent and take advantage of inexpensive labor.

Not anymore, my friends.  The internship is now for everyone.  With the current job market as tight as it is, an internship can be the cure for the occupational blues.  For current students, it’s still the tried and true way to get a leg up on your peers while putting to use what you’re learning in the classroom.  For the newly graduated, it provides a plethora of positives.  For starters, it’s a morale boost for those who haven’t yet found the career their looking for.  It’s also another notch on the resumé belt and an opportunity to show your stuff to an employer for when they eventually (and hopefully) resume the hiring process.  And, perhaps most importantly, it can serve as a bridge over troubled water stirred up by the recession.

An especially beneficial opportunity is that of the digital internship. The digital internship (especially the Eco-Friendly Internship – no hyperlink necessary.  You’re already here!) combines the best of traditional internships past and the necessary skills of the future (which is really now).  With the digital internship, you still head down to the office once in awhile, so your office social skills remain primed, but a lot of what you do can be virtually accomplished (and you save gas, which is Eco-Friendly).

In a digital internship (yes, I realize I’ve said “digital internship” quite a bit, but it’s important) (and I’ve used an abundance of parentheses, but I like them) you learn the crafts of blogging, social media as a business tool, podcasting, Google, and the innumerable other spheres of the Internet that are being introduced to the lexicon of businesses on a daily basis.  Becoming versed in these techniques will give you a leg up on the competition for jobs over those who don’t possess the requisite technical abilities of the future.  Not to mention you can deepen your writing and communications skills, which has been a growing complaint of employers regarding the lack thereof amongst college students and recent graduates.  Oh and so as not to end this paragraph on a boring note like writing skills, digital internships are super cool and fun.

The bottom line? Digital internships are where it’s at!  Fun times, job skills, way of the future, resume placeholder, occupational peace of mind…whatever you’re looking for, they fit the bill.  So quit sitting on the couch, playing PS3 and Wii (guilty) or acting like mowing the lawn is grounds for a successful day (again, guilty), and start scouring the Internet for one.  Oh yeah, and as this blog entry began, a regular internship is cool too…just not as cool.

David Hilton finds a Social Tool in Twitter

Headshot for the ages...

Headshot for the ages...

Time to break the proverbial ice and introduce myself to those of you who may not know me. My name is David Hilton and I’m one of the new interns here at Ingenex Digital Marketing. This is my first blog post EVER, so don’t judge me too harshly if this reads a like a “noob” wrote it…because that is exactly what’s happening. My fellow interns and I were hired to learn and experience the world of digital advertising and so far so good. I’ve learned a lot in just one week by reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott and I’ve looked online at some of the marketing concepts mentioned in the book in order to gain a better understanding of how a digital agency like Ingenex helps their clients.

It’s interesting to me how easy it is to market a company efficiently using internet tools I usually take for granted. Like Facebook for example. I use it to connect with friends and family, share pictures, and find people I haven’t seen in a long time. Companies have taken advantage of Facebook by adding their businesses to the site through viewable profiles and creating applications for people to use that can result in a possible sale. Even CEO’s are creating Facebook accounts every day to better connect with customers. I used to hear about Facebook all the time on television and in the news. But, lately I haven’t heard anything about it. Not even a peep. No, lately I’ve been hearing a lot of tweets about a new and more popular social networking tool. And yes, pun intended.

Last night I was watching the Orlando Magic put the smack down on the Boston Celtics. During the broadcast I couldn’t help but notice that the commentators were constantly talking about Twitter. They must have mentioned it over 30 times. Even Charles Barkley was talking about how he had one. Also, as I finished the New Rules of Marketing book earlier yesterday I came across a section about social networking and how Twitter can help to keep customers updated with their favorite companies. Even earlier that day CNN was talking about how viewers can follow Wolf Blitzer’s Twitter to find out more on stories he will be covering or if he’s currently buying groceries. What have I been missing? Usually I adopt a social networking tool long before the media does! Not so with Twitter. They beat me to the punch.

twitterSo what exactly is Twitter? Twitter is a social networking tool that allows users to create tweets: micro-blogs that are limited to just 140 characters. Think of it as a constant Facebook status update, but without the clutter of wall posts, profile updates, etc. And did I mention it’s incredibly easy to sign up for it? I just did a few minutes ago and it only took me about 2 minutes. I even added people from my g-mail account to my new Twitter account instantly and I am also tracking some celebrities right now such as Kevin Smith.

So, maybe your still wondering just how the heck can this be used as an effective marketing tool? Well, let’s go back to Kevin Smith. Twenty-one hours ago Kevin Smith posted this: “ThatKevinSmith: One month from today I’m on Carnegie stage: http://www.tinyurl.com/carn… Hoping in tomorrow’s update, we’re under 1k left to sell.” Now, I had no idea that he would be at Carnegie doing a stand-up routine until I saw his tweet. He even mentions that there are only 1,000 tickets left to sell which establishes a call to action. And, to top it all off, the post is personal. Kevin Smith wrote it himself and didn’t have to pay a cent hiring an ad agency, PR person, or marketing firm to announce this information. And it’s not just his fans that will receive this information. News agencies, radio stations, blogs, podcasts, and anyone who is a follower of Kevin Smith on Twitter will receive this information and report it to people at NO COST. This is what marketing is all about now and this is why Twitter can be such an important tool. In 140 characters or less you can reach a wide audience and accomplish your goals for practically nothing. How cool is that?

So, I urge you to join Twitter and immerse yourself in this powerful tool. I’ve been a member for 20 minutes so far, and already I feel like telling the world about my goings on throughout the day. You can do this right from your phone as well, making it possible to update your status at any time, any where. This tool can also have the potential to allow business people to start writing their own blogs pertaining to their company and job.

As I get more acquainted with Twitter and other social networking tools, I will continue to blog about new and exciting things throughout my time here at Ingenex. This blog was more about “testing the waters” I guess, especially since most of you may already know about Twitter. I’m sure it’s fun to hear a newbie’s thoughts on the subject anyway, but as my experience grows so will these posts. I hope to meet a lot of you in the coming months and make sure to follow me on Facebook, Linkedin, and now Twitter. Thanks for reading!

David H.

Kindle: Way of the Future or Death of the Past?

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Or Both.  For those of you unfamiliar with the latest foray into digital reading devices, Amazon has provided us with the Kindle DX.  The major difference being the larger screen it offers from its predecessors.  The finer details, however, being, according to Amazon (because who can say it better, right?):

“At Amazon, we’ve always been obsessed with having every book ever printed, and we know that even the best reading device would be useless without a massive selection of books you want to read. Today, the Kindle Store has more than 275,000 books available, plus top newspapers, magazines, and blogs. This is just the beginning. Our vision is every book ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds. We won’t stop until we get there.

Whether you prefer biographies, classics, investment guides, thrillers, or sci-fi, thousands of your favorite books are available, including 107 of 112 books currently found on the New York Times® Best Seller list. New York Times Best Sellers and most new releases are $9.99, and you’ll find many books for less.”

Now, on the surface of things, you may ask yourself, what in that description warrants such a doomsday title to this blog entry?  Well, hold on a sec, first let’s look at the good that it brings.  For starters, everything previously mentioned – books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs on-demand and at your fingertips.  You can carry an entire library in your bag, purse, or briefcase.  Not to mention, it has 3G Wireless, text-to-speech (in other words, it reads to you), and supports PDF.  Beneath the surface, there’s the Eco-Friendly benefits, as well.  The first thing that comes to mind, while simple, is it saves trees.  No more paper, no more chopping down trees, right?  Environment – 1, End of the World – 0 in that regard.  It also decreases pollution caused by the production of books, magazines, and newspapers, and eliminates the damage done to the environment throughout the distribution channels, mainly the carbon footprint left by shipping.  All in all it sounds like a pretty great product…but wait…

There has to be something wrong with it.  Well, let’s start with the hefty price tag.  The original Kindle 2.0 can be had for $359, with the Kindle DX being available for pre-order at $489.  But in the end, the price is only a barrier to entry for those that can’t afford it…like interns or college students.  So say you can afford it, is that the only drawback? No, for starters, when a date comes over, you can’t leave random copies of classic novels and famous treatises lying around to impress them if they’re all on your Kindle.  You could also lose it and there goes your library in one fell swoop.  However, most importantly, what about the demise of the publishing industry as we know it? If everything becomes digital, then what’s the point of actual newspapers, books, or magazines?  If more and more people are simply downloading their reading material, then the printed word will cease to exist because 1) advertisers don’t want to advertise in a medium that doesn’t reach anyone, 2) there’s no point in printing them if no one is buying them.

For some of us, that’s just not something we want to see.  What about curling up with nice, big hardcover novel on a cold winter’s night?  Or bending the hell out of a paperback on the train home from work?  What about spreading the Sunday newspaper out in front of you at the kitchen table while sipping a cup of hot coffee?  Or rolling up last week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly or the Economist to kill a pesky fly (or shoo it out the window for you bug activists)?  Heck, some people will even miss the ink stains that begin on your fingers and somehow end up on your face, furniture, and clothes when reading the New York Times.  The point being, that innovation often spells the demise of something in favor of another.  Horse-n-buggy? Automobile.  VCR? DVD.  Knowing stuff? Google.

In the end, though, it’s all up to the Invisible Hand…of the Almighty?  No, of Adam Smith.  In other words, it’s up to all of you.  If enough consumers want it, then the Kindle will thrive.  If everyone wants it, then the Kindle and other products like it will replace our ink and paper past.  However, hopefully the Kindle becomes what it should be, a way to get people to read again and read more.  Not a replacement for books or newspapers, but a bridge between nothing and something…a complement to one’s library and subscriptions as a convenient way to read while traveling or commuting or a way get a book right away rather than having to drive to the bookstore or wait days for your Amazon order to arrive.

For someone who considers themselves a traditionalist, your humble blogger here sees the Kindle as a hopeful good-natured cousin to the printed word that will peacefully coexist and grow the world of literature rather than destroy it.  Always a fan of new gadgets, as long I can have my cake (the traditional book, magazine, and newspaper) and eat it too (the Kindle), I won’t complain.  And finally, a note to Amazon: If you would like to send the Eco-Friendly Interns a Kindle or two to test for ourselves, this blog entry can easily be edited to remove any and all elements deemed to cast the Kindle in a negative light.  Thank you.


Allow Me To Introduce Myself…

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Well let me start out by saying HELLO PEOPLE! My name is Matthew Doyle and I being brought aboard as one of the new interns for the summer 2009 class of the Eco-Friendly Digital Marketing Internship. I had the pleasure of having Derek Mehraban as my professor for the inaugural running of Michigan State’s New Media Drivers License course, a class that focused on using social networks, blogs, and other new social media mediums such as Twitter to generate buzz and publicity. Coming from a my two previous positions with cutting edge tech based companies, I  thought I was Mr. Know-it-all in the Web 2.0 realm, boy was I wrong. Derek opened the doors and showed me that there was so much more to learn about the world of digital marketing which is what brings me here today writing for you all.

Although my fellow interns will be meeting weekly at the Ingenex Digital headquarters in Ann Arbor, I will be joining my teammates virtually through a web cam across the Atlantic Ocean in Spain. It will be very interesting to see how the whole 6 hour time change thing plays out over the course of the summer. Regardless of the time change, I am looking forward to making a real impact at Ingenex by showing our clients how digital marketing techniques can grant them a huge return on their investment. In addition to blogging here on the Eco-Friendly blog about current events in the world of digital marketing and social media, I will be keeping my own personal travel blog of my travels throughout the Europe, The Adventures of Mattador.