Facebook and Twitter Additction OK

In high school and early years of college my Facebook addiction appeared to distract me from what many others thought I “should” be focusing on. As I got older my Facebook addiction led to a fascination with Twitter and other forms of social media. Suddenly I was studying social media and digital public relations strategies in school. Within three years my degree in public relations went from cool to awesome. I was taking innovative journalism classes tailored to social media strategies and search engine optimization and all things digital. Was this too good to be true? Can I really make a career out of this?

Photo: DirJournal.com

It turns out you can. And there is quite the demand for digital agencies and social media strategist as the digital revolution continues to grow according to The Detroit News article, Aging Nation, Technology Give Rise to Five Hot Jobs. There is real value in social and digital and more and more people are recognizing that. The job market is fierce and there is good news for college students. According to The Detroit News Article. “By 2018 a million new jobs expected to be created.”  I don’t know if fate or luck or destiny brought me to my current internship in the digital marketing field, but the future is looking nice for me and for the digital agency.

The Detroit News: Aging Nation, Technology Give Rise to Five Hot Jobs

Memorial Day Fun in Ann Arbor

Find your old American Flag t-shirt and bathing suit and kick the summer off right this Memorial Day weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Honor America’s Veterans and take advantage of all the special events and deals around town.

Finding a place to stay can be expensive and annoying, but Weber’s Hotel and Restaurant Memorial Day weekend specials make finding a place to stay easy and affordable. The Ann Arbor hotel room rates start at $99 and poolside rooms and suites receive $49 off. If you decide to stay another day rooms are only $49 on Monday, 5/30. You can relax in the sun all day and enjoy Weber’s Four Seasons pool and recreation area, game room and Cabana Café. For more details visit Weber’s Facebook page.

The Annual Memorial Day Observance will honor veterans this Monday. The event begins at 2 p.m. and will consist of a flag ceremony, 21-gun salute, notable speakers and much more. This is a great way to teach your children or siblings the importance of Memorial Day. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to 2521 Glazier Way and experience the fun.

There are events throughout the weekend to keep everyone busy. The Washtenaw County Historical Society will host a series of activities to honor American history and Veterans Saturday and Sunday 5/28 – 5/29. The activities include a Civil War exhibit, wreath making and card making. The cards will be donated to the Ann Arbor, VA Hospital. The event is another great way for children to learn about our country and the origins of Memorial Day.

Relaxing on Memorial Day is always a good option. The Ann Arbor Country Club will host an open pool party on Memorial Day from 12 noon – 6pm. Guests are admitted for free and can enjoy a wonderful day by the pool with friends. Food is available for purchase and guests are encouraged to check out the benefits of an AACC membership. The event is also a fundraiser for Dexter community students and teachers. 10 percent of any AACC memberships sold will go to support the students and teachers in the Dexter Community School district.

Ring the summer in the right way. Celebrate Memorial Day in Ann Arbor by honoring our Veterans, spending time with friends and family, relaxing and having a great time.

Visit Ann Arbor.com for a complete list of Memorial Day events and specials.

Ann Arbor Art Fair takes on iPhone App

With four art fairs in one, it is almost impossible to remember all the different locations, events and artists that are present for the well-known Ann Arbor Art Fair. Jumping on the digital bandwagon, Art Fair has launched the A2ArtFairs Application for iPhone and iPod Touch. With mostly rave reviews on iTunes, this app is sure to be a hit for this event that takes place every year on the streets, just outside of Ingenex Digital Marketing Headquarters.

While, I can only access some of the features from my iPod touch (no GPS option) I found this app to be very helpful. Followed by an artistic introduction, the Art Fair staff has broken the application into seven sub categories.

  • Map – Features a color coded map outlining each of the four art fairs – the map can also point out your location if geo-location is enabled on your iPhone.
  • Artists – For those of you on a mission at this year’s Ann Arbor Art Fair, this is the feature for you. Sift through the large list of artists and types of art that they have on display. Once you have found what you are looking for, click on the booth number, and the map will show you how to get there.
  • Entertainment – What is an event in Ann Arbor without a little entertainment? View the list of entertainment, and filter through the performer name, stage and genre. This feature also shows you how to reach the entertainment destination on the art fair map.
  • Get Here – Not from the Ann Arbor area? Well the Get Here option is perfect for you! Learn about the A2 Art Trolley, park and ride option, downtown parking and more. This feature outlines the steps for different option of getting to the art fair and the rules and prices that go along with them. Find driving directions on your iPhone by clicking on the Google Maps button.
  • Sponsors – Every major event has sponsors, and the perfect place to recognize them is on a feature of the iPhone app!
  • Businesses – Ann Arbor is a busy city with a lot of business. Use this map to find all of the great Ann Arbor Restaurants, stores and more. (Also, check out the A Taste of Ann Arbor Posts)
  • Trolley – Experience the convenience of riding the trolley from art fair to art fair thanks to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. This feature on the application will tell you where to pick up each trolley, and then where it will take you.

With all the information it features, the simple A2ArtFair app has the potential to be your art fair sidekick. Whether you plan to leisurely stroll through all the booths or look for one particular type of art, the application is your digital map, trolley guide and calendar of all the art fair events.

Get the App Here!

A2 Fiber YouTube Contest for a Cause

If you enjoy making videos, uploading content to YouTube, or if you just have an interest in Ann Arbor then check out the A2 Fiber YouTube Contest being presented by LA2M. The contest is in support of A2 Fiber, the city of Ann Arbor’s initiative to be one of the few cities Google selects as pilot communities for its Google Fiber project. The contest kicks off tomorrow, Saint Patrick’s Day at 11:30 at Weber’s Ann Arbor. An Irish lunch buffet will be served and you will also have a chance to say why you think Google should choose Ann Arbor to receive a Google fiber-optic network. Winners of the contest have a chance to win a multitude of prizes including a Weber’s Ann Arbor Hotel and Dinner Package, gift certificates to Conor O’Neill’s, or even a chance to win an Apple iPad.

On February 10, Google announced that it plans to build and test ultra-high speed broadband networks in a small number of communities across the country. These lines will stream data at 1 gigabit per second, about 100 times faster than most Americans get through their current cable and DSL providers. If Ann Arbor is picked as one of these communities it would be a major asset to the community. Not only would it improve the lives of residents but it would also lure high-tech companies to relocate to Ann Arbor.

LA2M is Lunch Ann Arbor Marketing. LA2M is open to client and agency side marketing professionals, and anyone else who wants to learn about marketing. It’s a chance to exchange ideas and get to know other professionals during lunch in a relaxed and friendly environment. They are known for giving free advice to businesses that attend our meetings. There is no membership fee. It was started in 2008 by Derek Mehraban, CEO of Ingenex Digital Marketing, an internet marketing firm in the Ann Arbor area, and a few friends.

For more information about the A2 Fiber YouTube Contest visit the contest’s website at http://www.la2m.org/a2fiber or check out the contest’s rules.

“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.

FBML :The new way to spell HTML

Mutual of Omaha prides itself on being the official sponsor of the “aha moment”. I will be waiting patiently by the mailbox for my sponsorship check. I’ve never wanted to pull my all my hair out in frustration as much as I had this past week, – I take that back, I have, but that’s another story for another blog. After raiding libraries and bookstores looking for my answer my quest for the missing FBML code took me back to the Internet. Hidden in plain sight was my golden fleece.  While I don’t plan on changing my name to Jason anytime soon., I am positive I jumped at least a foot in the air of sheer pride after finding the correct code for a Facebook Page I was working on.

I used the Static FBML application to create boxes which can be place through out your Facebook Page via the drag and drop method. FBML: the four letters keeping me up late at night, -ok not really, but nonetheless interesting.

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According to Facebook reference Wiki “Facebook Markup Language (FBML) enables you to build full Facebook Platform applications that deeply integrate into a user’s Facebook experience. You can hook into several Facebook integration points, including the profile, profile actions, Facebook canvas, News Feed and Mini-Feed.” This HTML language enables users and developers the tools to create ads and applications for pages and profiles. Call up your friends and bring your own extension chord it’s the makings of a party!

Using the Developers Platform you can create ads and applications and this test console will allow you to double check your code so that is up to snuff with FBML.

Since I’m sure I owe the universe a big thank you for this discovery I will share it with you. step by step

1. Download the “Static FBML” application for you Facebook Page

2. Chose edit and then this screen will pop up

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enter your code in the provided space and don’t forget to include a title, this will be the title of your soon to be created box. Should you wish to create a hyper-linked banner ad like myself you’ll want to follow these guidelines in you coding

<a href=”Website you wish to link to ad” title=”Title of the Box”>
<img src=”Image you wish to use as banner ad”/>

3. Click save and your box will automatically appear to the left of the wall, should you like to move it simply grab the box and drag it to your desired location.

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4. (Optional) should you need to create several custom boxes/applications you can organize them by utilizing the “Boxes” tab.
Facebook is no longer just a way to connect with friends and waste time when you should be paying attention in class. Its becoming a jumping point for interns the world over. Soon we will be able to create customized URLs make it that much faster to connect with users. Facebook was my best friend and the bane of my existence the past week, but I accepted the challenge and my confidence was restored.

PS click here to see the outcome of this process in real time and maybe learn a bit about Ingenex Digital Marketing in the process!

Hands-On Local Tech Event

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Since 1982 there is a magic place in Ann Arbor devoted to the children and their education: the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

Born from the work of Cynthia Yao and many other volunteers, who converted the old brick firehouse into what it is today, the Hands-On Museum is hosting more than 250 interactive exhibits for children. Each one of them has been built in order to teach kids about the world and its secrets, from science to physics, geology, math, music and more.

In their youngest age children are the smartest and the most longing to learn they will be in all their life, and it is our duty to feed them with the most interesting and useful knowledge which will turn them into bright young adults. This is the mission that enlights this museum’s work. By creating enjoyable ways of learning people in here are stimulating every day children’s minds: kids are not just spectators, they will have fun in becoming substantial parts of the exhibition, which make this experience much more impressive and the learned things absolutely unforgettable. And the adults bringing their children there can not help falling under the Hands-On Museum as well, the youngest part of them is coming out leading them to have more fun from exhibit to exhibit, and they will feel again that forgotten thirst for aknowledge!

It is in this background that the Hands-On Museum decided to go a little bit further, by organizing an event called Hands on Local Tech which will see as a protagonist not just the children, but their family and the local tech companies as well: the Hands-On Local Tech Event will gather them together on Saturday May 30 from 6 pm to enjoy a night of fun and growth. Children will be involved in educational and amusing games, the companies will describe their activities and teach people about that in extra-ordinary ways, and the parents will take advantage of this network oppurtunity or, which is my guess, will join the fun!

When amusement, knowledge, and sincere wish of staying together are meeting you can not prevent feeling enriched: occasions like this are what make our everyday life special.

I think we all need to thank the volunteers of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for their work, which is contributing to render this small city of Michigan a great place for families to stay.

Marta Battiston

Go Green Without Breaking the Bank

The 2010 Honda Insight will be a catalyst that has the potential to make owning a hybrid an affordable option for Main Street, with price tags below $20,000. The past two years at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is exemplary of  the green trend, all of the auto companies presented new models on a green platform, only Honda has been able to make it affordable, for now at least.

There are three elements consistent in hybrid engine design that contributes to better fuel economy.

1) Having both an electric engine and gasoline engine that shuts down during peak power usage.

2)A battery capable of storing large amounts of energy

3) The ability to recapture energy during braking

These are the staples for hybrid design that the automobile industry is working towards as a whole to make the most efficient and affordable. But what about those potential hybrid consumers on a budget? More importantly, what about those consumers that are about to get pink slipped? What options do they have to drive a fuel efficient vehicle while not falling into debt?

There are a variety of options to change transportation behavior: buy a hybrid, carpool, ride a bike, ride a bus, teleconference, all of which require a change in behavior. Aftermarket computer chips are an option that does not require any change whatsoever. A variety of companies offer performance grade computer chips that are installed on the electronic control unit(ECU) of an engine and will optimize an engine’s performance to create higher horsepower and torque and can be utilized for higher fuel efficieny, up to 5 mpg. Once installed, the programmer’s smart system immediately recognizes vital information of the vehicle’s engine, powertrain and transmission, and can be adjusted without having a deep understanding of computer programming. Hypertech offers a Max Energy E-con Programmer, specifically designed to imporve fuel economy, it retails at $329.99 and is available on 22 different car models.

The question is: why are you only able to find these on automobile supply websites, trade publications, and AutoZone? Why aren’t these things at Meijers’, Sears and Target? Buying a performance chip is less expensive with a little les R-O-MPG in the long-term. So when are after-marker computer chips going to break out of the gearhead market and into the green market?

The decline in auto sales over the past few years creates even more opportunity for such a product to thrive in the market. Aftermarket companies such as Hypertech could reach those consumers who want to go green but can’t afford a $26,000 or even a $20,000 hybrid. Sure, ponying up for the Hybrid is the most eco-friendly and will give you more eco-bragging ammo, but let’s face it, people are strapped for cash and not in the new car market, sales volumes over the past few years have shown that. Spending $3,000-$4,000 more for a hybrid, that gets 10-12 more mpg, whereas an E-con Programmer is 1/10 the price increase opposed to buying a hybrid and saves 1/2 as much in fuel economy. Cheaper short-term, comprable long-term.

However, there are some barriers to entry dependant on the success of aftermarket chips. Installing a computer chip is in violation of most car’s warranties that disqualifies an eligibility for engine repair. This is a contractual agreement with the auto companies that aftermarket companies will struggle to overcome, given that the auto companies have tenfold the bargaining power.

So, maybe that is why aftermarket chips are not part of the mass market, there could be other reasons. They could just be slouches for marketers. Regardless, there is an opportunity for a company to introduce a product into the market that is aligned with current trends and nothing is being done about it. Tsk Tsk.

Nature and Technology: Forever at Odds?

Our Human brains tend to operate in dichotomies: good and bad, man and woman, Obama and McCain and… nature and technology?! Humanity, or more specifically our advances in technology, have largely been responsible for the degradation of ecosystems, exhaustion of resources and extinction of species. Technology is therefore intrinsically in opposition to nature… or is it?

Ok, so our societal advancements have not always treaded lightly on our Mother Earth. It cannot be denied that we have done some irreversible damage. That being said, we are still a part of these integral ecosystems and what is done has been done. It is then, perhaps the most beneficial to utilize our technological advancements to help preserve, conserve and reduce what damage has been done (when possible). Yes, this is a rather large task, and one may ask simply how can you even begin to approach this? Well…

With the advent and ubiquity (literally) of the internet, solutions may be as simple as running a Google search. I recently stumbled upon a website boasting the ‘30 Best Eco Sites.’ As is turns out I hit the green goldmine of eco-sites! This site features a list of some of the best green internet resources. These top 30 sites include everything from environmental blogging, eco-clothing and products and day-to-day living tips. Each and every site serves as an excellent educational green resource, and I highly recommend that you check it out.

On site on this list that caught my eye in particular was EcoGeek. EcoGeek focuses on the connection between nature and technology and aims to prove that green gadgets can be good. Ah ha! Just what I was looking for- people are actually synthesizing these two concepts that until recently (and I mean recently) were definitively at odds. Maybe, just maybe, we can use this internet thing as a platform for a universal green movement…? Sure, technology has been bad for our planet. But it’s time to realize that technology may also have the power to begin to heal the environment. Shunning or ignoring the omnipresence of modern day technology will do nothing to save the planet. We must accept the reality of this situation and begin to use the tools we have at hand to begin to work towards a more sustainable future.

Plastic Bag Bans Raise Environmental Awareness

In the past several years, the hideous truth about plastic bags has been gaining more and more media attention. People are beginning to realize what these bags are made from (petroleum) and how long it takes them to disintegrate in landfills (a long time, should they make it there). 

I began to realize this anti-plastic bag mass movement has trickled down to a variety of large chain stores in the local Ann Arbor area. Although perhaps this is an attempt to tap into the ‘green niche’ rather than operating out of eco-consciousness, I feel optimistic none-the-less that environmental stewardship is beginning to be addressed on a larger scale level.

Last night I was shopping for various toiletries at my local Rite-Aid. I noticed that even they carried cloth bags emblazoned with their logo! I was a initially a little shocked, and proceeded to the cash register where I told the clerk that I didn’t need a plastic bag. He seemed amazed at my ability to carry my three items by hand out to my car. He proceeded to let me know that some of his regular patrons will ask to double bag unnecessary items (such as a gallon of milk).

Wasteful behavior such as this makes me feel fortunate that many stores are beginning to add additional taxes when you use plastic bags. Additionally, many cities and states are beginning to propose an all-together ban on plastic bags. Both measures have proven to be very successful. In fact, China’s ban on plastic bags will save an estimated 37 million barrels of oil! This ban extends to the free bags distributed to customers. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to ban plastic bags or even to tax them. The city of Dallas’s local council recently stated that banning plastic bags and food containers would have a “negative impact on the local environment, the economy and the school system.” They went on to say they believe in educating people about what is responsible behavior and simply “not to litter…” a preventative measure that works oh so well…

All in all I am totally in favor of bans or taxes on plastic bags. I think that this is absolutely a step in the right direction; if people are more aware of their conspicuous consumption, then they are forced to take a step back and reevaluate their behavior. This increase in environmental awareness in recent years has spurred many programs that adress the urgent need for stewardship and sustainability. 

Recently, Ingenex has begun to research Michigan State University’s Be Spartan Green program. As discussed in my recent blog post, we hope to bring our eco-friendly internship program to help bring digital and environmental education to East Lansing. It is through awareness and education made possible largely due to digital technologies that we can work and strive towards a more sustainable future.