Politics of the Future: Digital and Social Media

What if President Obama held press conferences not in the White House, but on Google Hangout? What if he answered questions asked by the American people, rather than the news correspondents? Earlier this month India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram did just that. The minister participated in a live video conference that lasted hour, but the conference sparked conversations that lasted quite longer (e.g. #askthefm).

“People have been calling this era of computers, the Internet, and telecommunications the ‘information age’ … What we’re really in now is the empowerment age…This power is shifting…to a new paradigm of power that is democratically distributed and shared by all of us.” – Joe Trippi, author of Revolution Will Not be Televised

President Obama's current Facebook banner.

President Obama’s current Facebook banner.

Today everyone and everything is going social. Barack Obama and Fançois Hollande are on Facebook, and even The White House, the WTO, and the United Nations tweet.Digital media has become a new form of infrastructure. The United Kingdom offers virtual tours of Parliament buildings. The EU website has an Audiovisual Newsroom. Online presence is a public expectation.

The virtual world has a very real influence.The last two years proved digital and social media’s power to mobilize entire nations (i.e. revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria). Minister Chidambaram’s conference is further evidence of a growing desire to not only pay attention to the man (or woman) behind the curtain, but to eliminate the curtain altogether.

 

My kind of birthday town, Ann Arbor is

“How many birthday deals can you get in one day?” That was the question that drove the creation of the Ann Arbor Birthday Deals video I had the opportunity to work on. The piece is posted to TheDigitalBus.com, the blog run by Ingenex Digital Marketing.

The premise: Derek Mehraban, the Ingenex Digital Marketing CEO, celebrated his 40th birthday in August with the entire Ingenex team. Everyone piled into The Digital Bus — a fully-restored 1972 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper — in search of free birthday offerings. A number of Ann Arbor businesses provided complementary food and gifts — birthday candles, ice cream, truffles, cupcakes, ice tea, etc.

Erin O’Neill, content producer at Ingenex, drove the project. She shot the video and developed the concept. She said she wanted something “madcap” when she gave me the raw footage to edit. Drawing inspiration from reruns of “The Monkees” and Buster Keaton films, my touches included speeding up the action, creating humorous titles, and adding light uptempo music. Both Erin and Derek offered tremendous input during the editing process.

Working on projects such as this affirms my love for digital media and digital marketing. I find digital technology streamlines the creative process. Erin captured the footage on a small digital video camera and I edited it on my laptop using Final Cut Pro software. Digital also provides a mass outlet where others can provide immediate feedback. Various versions were uploaded to YouTube so the Ingenex team could offer input, and the finished piece was promoted through social media.

The video also serves as a showcase for Ann Arbor and its various businesses. The city is a great place to live and work and that comes across in the piece. Thank you to the following companies that were visited during the birthday outing: Ben & Jerry’s, Bubble Island, Cake Nouveau, Circumference, Cupcake Station, FOUND, Northside Grill, RoosRoast, Schakolad, and TeaHaus.

For a complete list of “A2” birthday deals, go to: http://arborwiki.org/Birthday_Deals.

New Media Driver’s License will change your life – or at least get you to start a blog

I recently finished work on a master’s degree in digital media at Michigan State University. I was out of school for a few months and interviewing for jobs, and the topic of social media came up on a few occasions.

“Digital media, eh? Do you know about search engine optimization and search engine marketing? Have you ever worked with Google AdWords? Do you write a blog? Have you ever devised a digital marketing strategy?”

“Uh.. Mmm.. What’s a SEM?”

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

So, I walked away from a few interviews without an offer, but with a desire to delve into social media and digital marketing. I had heard of New Media Driver’s License (NMDL) course at MSU, but didn’t think to take it while in graduate school because it wasn’t part of my master’s curriculum.

I enrolled in the summer 2012 session and it turned out to be a tremendous experience. I learned about search engine optimization, search engine marketing PPC, digital PR and social media marketing. I worked with Google AdWords. I started a blog. And I devised a digital marketing strategy.

After the course concluded my NMDL instructor, Derek Mehraban, offered me an internship at his Ann Arbor based digital marketing agency. My first day at Ingenex Digital Marketing was interesting and everyone was eager to help me. I could tell after my first day at Ingenex that I would come away with a host of digital knowledge. Everyone was very helpful and friendly, and my first day jitters quickly subsided.

I’ll have more to report on what I’m learning in the days and weeks to come. Again, I encourage you to take the New Media Driver’s License class.

Also, I encourage you to look into Frita Batidos in Ann Arbor. It’s a Cuban-inspired restaurant a few blocks from the office, and our entire group went to lunch there on my first day. I had the chicken frita with guacamole and it was excellent.

Digital Bus starting its 2012 Summer Tour

Tomorrow, Thursday June 21, the team at Ingenex Digital Marketing will be making an appearance with their Digital Bus at Sonic Lunch. The Digital Bus is run by the Ingenex Digital Marketing Firm located in downtown Ann Arbor. The Digital Bus blog keeps you updated on the best digital marketing practices.

Sonic Lunch is a free summer concert series starting June 2 – August 30, every Thursday a concert will be held at Liberty Plaza located on the corner of Liberty St and Division in downtown Ann Arbor. From noon – 1:30 p.m. Sonic Lunch offers free lunch entertainment featuring a live band from an array of talent and genres. Additionally each week at Sonic Lunch a local area restaurant will be on on-site selling a Sonic Lunch for concert-goers, other local restaurants also offer special discounts for Sonic Lunch concert-goers to take with them to the park.

Mitch Ryder, a Michigan rock legend, will be performing tomorrow at Sonic lunch. A large crowd is expected, so come early and enjoy the show. Don’t forget to find the Ingenex team and the digital bus tomorrow, we will be passing out sweet treats and other surprises!

Explore the Digital World of Marketing with MSU’s New Media Driver’s License

If you’re interested in the rapidly growing world of online marketing, this is the perfect class for you! With Michigan State University’s New Media Driver’s License, you will learn all about the different aspects of online marketing from the experts. Derek Mehraban, CEO of Ingenex Digital Marketing, shows his students the many facets of the digital world in a fun, easy to learn way.

One of the greatest things about this class is that you are learning brand new things, but a lot of it is just expanding your knowledge of media you already use. Not everyone blogs, but it’s a pretty simple thing to do and you will learn the little extras that turn your good blog into a great blog. Most of the students who take this class already have accounts on at least one social media platform. Learn how to use platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to their full advantage.

Some things you may know little or nothing about are search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and Google and Yahoo! search rankings. When you successfully complete this class, you will have an understanding of these things and just how great of an impact they have on a business.

Another great thing about this class is that it is (mostly) online. From experience, I can say this is one of the most enjoyable and most useful classes I have ever taken. I loved the convenience of being able to do my work when it worked best for me.

Sign up now for the Fall 2011 New Media Driver’s License (ADV420) course!

 

THE NEW MEDIA DRIVERS LICENSE IS PROVIDED BY The Michigan State University Advertising, Public Relations & Retailing Deparment in Partnership with Derek Mehraban.

Virtual Tradeshow Experience LIGHTFAIR 2011

It’s back! The second annual Virtual Tradeshow Experience for LIGHTFAIR 2011 is here and in full swing.The digital agency Ingenex redesigned last year’s Virtual Tradeshow website for LIGHTFAIR International 2011.

Commercial and architectural lighting companies congregate once a year to attend the largest lighting industry event in the world. The creation of the Virtual Tradeshow Experience allows curious people and potential customers to jump in on the action from LED manufacturer OSRAM Opto Semiconductors booth at the tradeshow and conference. LED fans can even enter to win an iPad 2!

The Virtual Tradeshow Experience for LIGHTFAIR 2011 engages and connects customers with each other through easy to find links to OSRAM’s YouTube Account and Facebook fan page, creating conversation about the event, OSRAM and their products. Viewing my Facebook news feed provides an example of how effective social media is during an event. I was surprised that an article or post regarding LIGHTFAIR 2011 appeared more than a couple times on the same page.

Before the start of LIGHTFAIR 2011 there were informational videos on the Virtual Tradeshow Experience website educating viewers on LED’s and Solid State Lighting technology from OSRAM. This was important to build a “buzz” about LIGHTFAIR 2011 before the event and provided individuals much like myself, who are illiterate when it comes to LED technology, an easy to understand overview of LED technology while igniting my curiosity about the product.

Ingenex sent a team of three to Philadelphia, PA to LIGHTFAIR International 2011 which takes place May 17th – 19th. The team has been working to upload photos, create and edit video, keeping viewers engaged and updated during the event.

During LIGHTFAIR 2011 interviews from OSRAM employees and other important people in the lighting industry were filmed, edited and uploaded to the website right from OSRAM’s booth on the showroom floor. Web viewers were not forced to wait until after the tradeshow to hear industry leader’s opinions about up and coming lighting technology and about OSRAM.

Photos are also updated daily from OSRAM’s booth at LIGHTFAIR 2011. There are images of various LED displays showcasing new technologies including SSL and Horticultural LED Lighting. There are also photo displays showcasing indoor home LED lighting solutions and other LED lighting applications.

Ingenex creatively and interactively engaged customers to help build brand awareness and establish a lasting presence in the lighting industry and online community. I am curious to see what other photos, interviews and news stories will be posted during LIGHTFAIR 2011 and I can’t wait to see what innovations the Virtual Tradeshow Experience website will have next year.

A Taste of Ann Arbor- Last Stop, Sheesh Mediterranean Cuisine

As the summer is coming to a close, so ends Lauren and my journey as Taste of Ann Arbor food critics and Eco-Friendly Interns at Ingenex Digital Marketing. So to celebrate our journey from wide-eyed interns to digital savvy marketers the whole Ingenex gang joined us on our lunch excursion.

Today’s lunch brought us to Sheesh Mediterranean Cuisine, a Lebanese restaurant, just a few blocks down from our office on Main Street.

Upon our arrival, the Ingenex team noticed the painted murals and lush burgundy curtains that adorned the space and gave the restaurant an authentic look and feel. As we took in our surroundings a booth was found to accommodate our 7 person group with plenty of leg and elbow room. We were promptly brought a few baskets of pita bread and the restaurant’s Middle Eastern salsa, along with glasses of ice-cold water. Among the buzz of conversation we also decided to order some homous to tide us over until our food arrived.

In Lebanon it is customary for meals to last a few hours because the host will urge their guests to take second, and many times third helpings because this shows that guests are enjoying their meal and are savoring the whole dining experience. To be expected our servers were very hospitable and frequently visited the table refilling our pita and water glasses, however the wait time between when we ordered our food and when it arrived was rather lengthy.

Ordering everything from Fatoush Tawook Feta to Mjadra and Falafels our team sampled a wide variety of Lebanese cuisine. The general consensus at the table was that despite the lengthy preparation time, Sheesh was worth recommending in the future.

Lauren and I would like to thank everyone that made A Taste of Ann Arbor possible and we know we will most definitely miss our Ingenex co-workers as we move on to the next stages in our digital marketing and advertising careers. Thank you for all the experience, it has truly been a pleasure.

A Taste of Ann Arbor Visits Google!

As Lauren mentioned in last Tuesday’s post, she and I visited a different kind of lunch spot today. This week’s trip took us inside Google’s Ann Arbor Office.


Now you may be wondering how Lauren and I were able to merit an invitation to one of Google’s private employee lunches. So here is the story…

While sitting at one of the Lunch Ann Arbor Marketing (LA2M) networking events, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching about all things marketing, I met a guy named Rob. Rob works for the Google Adwords team and oddly enough knows my roommate’s sister- small world. While talking with Rob about his job at Google and my internship at Ingenex Digital Marketing, where I dabble in Adwords, we discussed the fun, laid-back, colorful work environment that has become synonymous with Google’s name. And being that we were at a lunch event, we discussed the fabulous lunches that are served at his office each day. Long story short Lauren and I headed to the Google office, located on South Division just a few minutes walk from our office, this afternoon.

Upon entering the reception area we were greeted with a warm welcome and hello, and were asked to sign in. Rob arrived a few minutes later and we walked through the brightly colored halls to the Google cafeteria. Inside we helped ourselves to the buffet style lunch that had been laid out by the office’s culinary crew. The spread was delicious with fresh salads, fruit, veggies, rice, salmon and lamb linguine pasta. After our meal, the general consensus was that Lauren and I could not leave without tasting the peach cobbler dessert. So we walked around the corner and to our great surprise the tray was being filled with a brand new peach cobbler- still warm and gooey, fresh from the oven.

After the meal Rob gave us a tour of the building. We got to check out the employee rec room- with games, tvs and loads of snacks; a few conference rooms- each named after cities in Michigan; the employee work stations- each decorated with colors and personalized themes; and so much more. But I think it’s safe to say that Lauren and I enjoyed viewing the Lansing room best of all; being that we are grads of Michigan State University (I graduated last May and Lauren will graduate this coming spring) and Lansing and MSU are near and dear to our hearts. So it was neat to see the Lansing room with its mural of the State Capitol, and photographs of the MSU football stadium and campus.

We’d like to thank Rob and the rest of the Ann Arbor Google Team for allowing us the chance to sit in and enjoy such an exclusive lunch with you.

Facebook and Women’s Privacy

Trending on social bookmarking sites and blogs is the subject of Facebook and women’s privacy. Mashable published an article last week on some shocking statistics found by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research. A study of over 1600 people was conducted regarding their social media usage. The company found that the majority of young women check Facebook first thing in the morning even before the bathroom and 42% of women feel it’s “okay” to post pictures of themselves drunk. With so much time being spent on the internet and the little effort to protect one’s own privacy, Facebook can ruin careers and reputations.

Last week I went to a networking lunch and met a very nice accounting student. She was friendly, intelligent and seemed like she’d be a great contact. I asked her name and told her I’d be looking her up online to connect later on. My first stop was Facebook. Her profile picture displayed ample cleavage, the page was littered with profanity and her photo albums included multiple pictures of alcohol and drugs… I went no further and decided not to befriend her online.

The Eco-Friendly Internship has put together a checklist to make sure your Facebook is not only clean, but also easily found. These tips are relevant to males too, but are geared especially towards young women.

The Facebook Clean Up Checklist

  1. Get rid of all alcohol and drug related content.
  2. Monitor pictures others are posting of you. Anything remotely questionable, delete.
  3. Defriend anyone you don’t know personally. The use of fake profiles to steal information is growing.
  4. Go through your applications and get rid of any you don’t need or trust.
  5. Edit your interests to things that will promote your talents and strengths instead of hurt you.
  6. Make sure all of your information is complete
  7. Communicate with others effectively and professionally: People, brands, pages.
  8. Keep notes and videos relevant and re-post worthy.
  9. Create a URL tag that matches your other social media profiles (http://facebook.com/yournamehere.)

Photo Credit: Flicker user Marisa beth

Facebook is about marketing yourself and connecting, so do your best to advertise yourself well because all of the information is going to be shared (no matter what Facebook says otherwise.) Employers will be looking at this information so target to them as well. You wouldn’t show up to an interview drunk or in a micro-mini, so don’t let those images be the first thing someone sees. Once you’ve made sure your content is clean, ensure that you are found easily. Facebook pages are no longer just to keep in touch with John Wewenttopromtogetheronce. It’s an effective marketing tool so that you can promote yourself without a single word leaving your lips. Remember: first impressions are crucial and YOUR first impression may happen online without you knowing.

A Taste of Ann Arbor- Zingerman’s Delicatessen

Image thanks to Flickr user: jhoweaa

Today’s journey took Lauren and I out of the familiar six block span on Main St that we usually frequent for lunch, and brought us to the streets of Kerrytown. Kerrytown is about a five minute walk from our office, at Ingenex Digital Marketing, on South Main Street in Ann Arbor. And is home to many local favorites, including Zingerman’s Delicatessen. We had both heard of Zingerman’s before our outing today and decided that if the locals were talking about it, then it was definitely a spot that needed to make our ‘Taste of Ann Arbor’ list.

Zingerman’s has been in business since 1982 when Paul Saginaw, Michael Monahan, and Ari Weinzweig began the deli; which serves (non-kosher) traditional European-Jewish delicatessen dishes and sandwiches.

Known for it’s fun atmosphere, friendly service and welcoming feel; Lauren and I had high expectations for the Ann Arbor deli that even President Obama couldn’t resist visiting, this past May when he delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan. And as luck would have it, we were not disappointed.

As we approached Zingerman’s we were greeted with a welcoming smile and a bubbly, “How are you today? Would you like to try some free samples before you head in and order?” So Lauren and I grabbed a toothpick and dug in while admiring the brightly colored buildings, and red brick road around us. Before ever stepping in the door, we felt right at home.

Upon entering Zingerman’s we were handed a menu so we could peruse through page after page of options. After about two minutes a man, named Tom, from behind the deli counter stepped down to help us narrow our choices. He highly recommended the Gemini Rocks the House sandwich. Which is normally a vegetarian option made with Zingerman’s own handmade fresh mozzarella, tomatoes & Italian pesto on grilled farm bread; but on this occasion Tom suggested adding bacon to the sandwich, which is what we ended up deciding on. Tom was also the one that suggested we split the sandwich and try some of their homemade salads. So in the end, Lauren and I ended up ordering the Gemini Rocks the House sandwich, a side of Mediterranean potato salad, and a side of fruit salad.

After placing our order at the deli counter we took a seat under Zingerman’s outside tent and seating area. The outside patio was colorful with umbrellas and picnic tables all around. Within ten minutes our food was brought out to our table with an amusing and creative flare. Servers carry out food and yell in almost a game-show fashion that your food is ready. Everything was delicious, and Lauren and I could not stop talking about how the mozzarella and Italian pesto, along with the fruit salad made our outdoor picnic lunch taste just like summer.

Next to the deli is a building, conveniently called Zingerman’s Next Door, with indoor seating, a barista house and gelato parlor. And although we did not get a chance to sample anything that this building had to offer, due to being so full from our wonderful deli lunch, Lauren and I will definitely be making another trip to Zingerman’s in the future and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a laid back, fun atmosphere for lunch.