SAP Global Survey

Shel Israel has been conducting an excellent series of interviews over the past two months for the SAP Global Survey. As is the case with social media, the process of conducting the survey and the questions themselves have been transformed by bloggers and Shel published some early findings. I was honored to be included and he published my interview today: "Blogging, social media and game play allowed me to meet and exchange ideas with brilliant people around the world."

This interview follows an interview of me by Jeremiah Owyang on how Scrapblog"builds community using images", in reference to our fun photo stand at the BlogHer07 Conference this year.

I look forward to continued inspiration and thought leadership from both Shel and Jeremiah.

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September 5, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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classic hollywood moment

classic hollywood moment, originally uploaded by alex*c.

If you've followed this link, thanks for stopping by. You may want to see the other cartoons Hugh drew that night.

From what I hear, it's been challenging to organize blogger/geek dinners in Miami, for reasons I won't go into (I've read all the posts and comments). Somehow we got past the cynicism and understood that "Love and goodwill are driving this revolution. The selfish will be left behind."

Because when you look past the local politics and the flash of ZIP 33139, aka South Beach, you'll find real people that care, that are friendly, that want to make a difference, that want to do the right thing. And so it was that night, when we got together, had a good chat, drank some mojitos and caipirinhas and dug in to some good pasta and pizza, all in the coziness of the back porch of the Margherita Regina restaurant on Lincoln Road. We were joined by Chris Saylor, Caleb Elston, Brian Breslin, Maria, Gus and Michelle Moore, Cristina, Frank Astor, Jason Baptiste, Carlos Garcia, Jorge Barroso, Leonard Boord, Jason Korman and Hugh.

Our dinner was organized quickly, in 48 hours, using, and a couple of local blogs. I also posted to Craigslist but I don't think that made a difference. Brian helped a lot by posting to RefreshMiami. The idea was to get together, meet Hugh MacLeod and meet other local bloggers. Stormhoek tried to get wine, but 36 hours was too short notice to get the bottles.

We'd like to thank Jason of, Leonard of, and Carlos of, my employer, for sponsoring the event and footing the bill.

Anyway, Gapingvoid is one of the world's top blogs and it feels like I just got my 15 minutes of blogging fame ;) Thank you for stopping by. Leave me a comment and I'll come by your site.

Don't know Gapingvoid? Go read it. Now.

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March 17, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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SXSW Customer Service is the New Marketing

Customer service is the new black. The Customer Service is the New Marketing panel at SXSW talked about how "online businesses that provide superior customer service are earning fanatical devotion ... Doing business online is anything but impersonal and an obsessive attention to customers *after* the sale is a killer advantage." The panel featured Thor Muller, Managing Dir, Satisfaction Unlimited, Heather Champ, Community Mgr, Flickr, Tony Hsieh, CEO, and Nick Wilder, Principal, 30 Boxes

Heather spoke in good detail about how Flickr manages their community:

  • They keep different channels of communication open with their members. They have a help link at the top and footer of every page, a help by email with a drop-down topic selector and links to forum topics and activity. Flickr's team can access this help and feedback system on the fly from wherever they are and they use a sitewide status message to let people know what's happening.
  • Flickr has three forums: Flickr Help, Bugs and Ideas - that provide immediate feedback on the mood of the community on any particular day. Community managers, including company founder Stewart Butterfield, monitor these daily to take the temperature of the community. About a million photos are uploaded every day, so a lot of people actively participate on the site and in the forums.  For example, the community recently flared up over Yahoo!'s decision to convert "Old Skool" Flickr users were not happy about this and within a few weeks of the announcement, 2,650 comments had been posted on the forum thread about the change.
  • Even as things get heated in the forums, Heather's mantra is to use a "soft pleasing tone of voice"; she even taped this sentence to her laptop, as a core principle to follow. The point is to cool things down by being level-headed at all times. She will let members be abusive to her, but never to one another.
  • When they know of a new feature or a bug, they will put a notice on the top of mebers' home page with a link to the discussion
  • Every Flickr empoyee is an active member of the site with their own photostream: they are who they say they are and you can see their profiles. In fact, the people who built Flickr really participated and actively engaged with the community
  • As an online service provider, you cannot assume nothing is going to go wrong ... but you can prepare for when things do. For example, on July 19th 2006, they had to take site down to fix a nagging issue. On this occasion, since they didn't know for how long the site would be down, they replaced the standard "flickr is having a massage" error page by a coloring contest with a way to win a free pro account. The contest details were on the flickr blog, which is run on a separate system and is not connected to the Flickr site. Within 24 hours, they had 1100 photographs. They gave away 14 pro accounts to the top entries as well as a 3-months pro account to all contest entrants. They did this because they didnt know how long it would take them to bring Flickr back up, so they wanted a way to engage with the community.
  • They remain honest, transparent and they 'fess up when they do things wrong, in particular Stewart
  • How do you deal with crazies? It's important to realize that people are very passionate about certain things and you have to remind yourself not to get angry and to understand when to step away and take a breather. The key is to have a firmly established community guideline, so that you can take the appropriate action when people step over the line. Sometimes there's "trout slapping" going on between members, and the community managers have to position themselves as referees: "step back from the abyss and if not, we'll lock down the forum". You can have people rail against you, but not against other people in the community. They only delete spammers out of the forums and infrequently block people from forums, if they're being real jerks. This action is not irreversible and gives people time to reset. According to Heather, it's good to wear "asbestos underpants" when dealing with hot topics.
  • It's important to hire the right people and their employees have been interviewed by 8 or 9 people. You need to find people with the same values. Also, everyone has to answer 10 to 20 customer care questions everyday to understand the interaction with the community. "We're all in this together".
  • Is there a cancellation policy? Flickr has a firm, no refund policy. Because a year's membership costs a mere $24.95, it's more expensive to deal with refunds, so they're not given. But you want to make sure people are there because they want to be there, not because you're holding them hostage, so it shouldn't be hard for users to cancel their accounts. In fact, every additional minute members spend trying to cancel their account creates unnecessary hatred, so the advice is to make it easy for members to discontinue their membership if that's what they wish.
  • Finally, it's important to subscribe to watchlist feeds to see what people in the blogosphere are saying about the company in blog posts and comments

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March 15, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Local Meetup with Hugh MacLeod

hugh macleod, originally uploaded by alex*c.


Hugh MacLeod of will be in town this week and we'll be going to dinner. The details are to be determined, but the dinner will be held on Thursday, March 13 15th, 2007 at 8pm. We know it's very short notice, but we only confirmed this today. Please sign up at this post on the Scrapblog blog so we can get a headcount and plan accordingly.

Most readers of this blog would know Gapingvoid, but if you don't, here's a quick bio of Hugh MacLeod. Besides "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards", Hugh's main gig is Marketing Strategist for Stormhoek, a small South African vineyard, whose Web 2.0 approach to wine making is currently getting a lot of international attention in the wine trade. Hugh also does the marketing for a bespoke Savile Row tailoring firm, English Cut with Thomas Mahon, arguably one of the best half-dozen tailors in the world. Stormhoek and English Cut have all to do with what Hugh calls "The Global Microbrand". He was named one of the top 50 marketers of 2006 by AdAge.

There may even be some some Gapingvoid and Stormhoek goodies to give out. And again, we apologize for the very short notice and hope you can make it.

Update:  The dinner will be held at Regina Margherita at 626 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139

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March 13, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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BarCamp Miami Memories and Recap

BarCamp Miami came and went but the memories remain excellent.

Before talking about the event, though, a very well deserved round of gratitude is due:

So how did the event go? Douglas Hanks from The Miami Herald wrote about us in the Business section:

So it goes at BarCamp, a sort of viral convention with no schedule, featured speakers, or agenda until the attendees themselves create one. For South Florida's first BarCamp, organizer Alex de Carvalho posted a notice on blogs he and his friends run, as well as a collaborative ''wiki'' Web page dedicated to BarCamps held around the world.

And from this "viral" word of mouth, about  60 people showed up.  The format of BarCamp is "open-source" in the sense that anyone can present and indeed everyone is encouraged to participate. We had three areas with projectors and four time slots to present, and of these twelve slots, 11 got filled in:

  1. Mike Gibaldi talked about's new "social media" and search engine optimized press release offering
  2. Michael Froomkin presented the security and privacy challenges of getting municipal wi-fi in Miami-Dade. Now's the time to get involved to avoid restrictions on your access to wi-fi!
  3. Ruben Duque created digital graffiti with a laser pointer!
  4. David Hoff drove from Naples to present IMified, which helps you manage everything through your IM client (and then he drove back!)
  5. The Calleiro brothers demoed
  6. Leonard Boord presented The Gorb reputation manager
  7. Nick Dominguez and Ant Bryan spoke about an enhanced download standard for bittorrent, metalink
  8. Donald Llopis presented python and pygame for rapid prototyping of video games
  9. Caleb Elston spoke about, which helps busy college students buy their snacks
  10. Tim Hoyt showed us while Cortney Mills took our pictures
  11. I gave a live demo of We offer a rich, enhanced photo and video sharing experience and will launch in three weeks

Update: Blaine Zuver presented as well. He spoke about ArcticTropic Blog and Metroblogging Miami

Besides the presenters listed above and people mentioned earlier, I also met and spoke to Benjamin Li, Jason L. Baptiste, Francisco Martin, Maria de los Angeles Lemus, Danay, Jackie Paz, Caleb Elston, Blaine Zuver, Denise R. Jacobs, Jorge Barroso and Eduardo Henriques.

We are also grateful that some venture capitalists showed up, including from Longworth, Aurora Ventures and H.I.G. This is very reassuring and I hope we'll see you participate in future events.

What's next? We hope to do another BarCamp soon. How soon? It's up to you. And who's "we"? It could be anyone. BarCamps can be run on any theme and anyone can take the initiative. And if anyone would like to do another BarCamp Miami on web/tech/design, please do so. The BarCamp wiki is open to all and the BarCampMiami blog is open to more authors.

We would also like to create a more formal conference, called Why more formal? Because we would like to have speakers from across the US, from Europe and from Latin America present, and when you fly in people and pay for their hotels, you need to ensure attendance, cover your costs and provide your speakers with a forum.

Which brings us back to running a BarCamp. The experience is exhilarating and there is a definite adrenalin rush to organizing one, and it stays in your system. Why? Because after all the preparation, you really don't know if anyone is going to show up ... and BarCamps are all about people.

And everyone that showed up have each other to thank for making the event so enjoyable.

See you soon, I hope!

Here are some links:

Cross-posted to, RefreshMiami, BarCamp Miami

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February 23, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising, Starting up, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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CommunityNext Community Ecology

The following are notes I took during the CommunityNext conference held at the Annenberg Auditorium at Stanford University in Palo Alto on February 10th, 2007.

Jake McKee, Community Guy, Lead Samurai, Big in Japan.

Community Ecology: Finding Balance When Working With Fan Groups

Previously worked for five years at Lego as community manger and had to tackle the question: what happens when you start engaging with a community that exists already and that you didn’t’ create?

The big question is always “monetization vs. support”. Which do they do? The answer is a balance between the two. The really right answer is “everybody goes home happy”. Make sure this happens. What does it mean? It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

So how to deliver on this concept?

  1. Redefine Success. Traditional marketing is about getting the most numbers to sign up, participate, etc. But often you can get what you’re trying to achieve by selecting the right people. What are they really trying to achieve?
  2. Share. A lot. Be open and transparent. Don’t hide intentions. Come out and say “here’s what’s going on with me”. Don’t forget that fans are enthusiasts and they dig the good stuff. Information can be an alternative currency. Openness creates a relationship and strong bond between the company and its community. So, what is sharing? It can be just basic information. Even minute details. Lego always wanted to make a big announcement in 6 months and never the little updates in between. Everyone wants to know the inside story. Listen and pay attention and you will know what the small pieces are that gain the interest of your community.
  3. Constantly Adjust. It’s a balance between monetization and the support of the community. The community always wants something. Gave his email address to the community so that they had an opportunity to tell him what they wanted.
  4. Skip the NDA. This is the most important. Companies get really caught up in getting people under the NDA. But NDAs stop the conversation. And it’s a get out of jail free card. But the community manager has to get marketing folks to open up. Ie. What’s the worst that can happen? NDAs may be good for business but terrible for community interaction.
  5. Set and Maintain Expectations. Lego had funded a community event for $1700. But the next year Lego lost $200m and had no money to give to the event. And this turned out very poorly. So set expectations correctly and then maintain them.
  6. Train Your Colleagues. The people in this room are 400 light years ahead of anyone in any company on these issues. No one else gets it. No one else understands how importance this balance is, how important it is that “everybody goes home happy”. But make sure everything you do is based on this concept.

What’s Big in Japan?

Has nothing to do with Asia but is a fun name to make you ask about us. It’s a small development shop. They’re talking about how people learn, have fun, engage with each other.

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February 13, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising, Starting up | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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CommunityNext skinnyCorp and Threadless

The following are notes I took during the CommunityNext conference held at the Annenberg Auditorium at Stanford University in Palo Alto on February 10th, 2007.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff and Jake Nickell of skinnyCorp presented their "patent-pending method for creating online awesomeness and other cool stuff too"

Making money was not the intention behind making Threadless, except to pay bills. The approach was similar to what we felt like when they were kids. For example, I didn’t analyze whether and why I should skateboard. “I just started skateboarding when I was 11 because it ruled”. And 95% of the projects they have done have not and will not make money. They’re just a way of giving back to the community. As time goes by, skinnycorp gets more crazy awesome. Their metric is how much fun are they having … it’s the fun scale. They start projects because they think they will be fun

Threadless is the exact same idea as when it started. They have just added to it, but not changed it. The community came together, made art and then had something made out of it. It’s only a great idea if it adds to the value and doesn’t change it

Always remember: your project is not good enough. If others try to be better than you, then your own aim should be to be better than you.

How to make money using the "internets": a crash course brought to you by … skinnycorp:

  • There’s “The Awesome Way”: using technology to create something that will make people’s lives easier. For example, Flickr and 37signals are fun. But LinkedIn is not fun: you justdon’t want to hang out there
  • And there’s “The Not Awesome Way”: identity theft, phishing, MySpace (too much advertising)

The Four Commandments:

  • Allow your content to be created by its community. The employees are in the minority because the community is so much bigger. So just open the door and let users do what they want
  • Put your project in the hands of its community. The community sees its feedback. 40% of all the features that are added have been submitted by the community.
  • Let your community grow itself. No advertising. For example, they ran a $1,000 ad once and got a total of 7 sales from it. It just doesn’t work and it’s much better when users get new users. And their users want to get their design rated.
  • Reward the community that makes your project possible. They are now paying $2000 for winning designs. When they started, they were paying $50. They also give special prizes for special projects and promotions (ie. Movie promotions). As the community gets bigger, the quality of submissions go down, so giving more money keeps up the quality. They will also do a $1M t-shirt prize giveaway at some point.

Question and Answer Session:

How are people scoring the tshirts?

They hide the scores until the scoring is over. They look at what people want beyond just the simple 0 to 5 score (including blog comments)

How about users getting upset with changes?

Negative feedback usually restricted to 24-48hrs and then people adapt. Example of their blog design change: users said threadless was wrong and they opened a thread where there were like 500 comments within a couple of days and then they changed what was wrong.

How to keep it fun within company?

They voice opinions and have debates. Most people there are friends.

How to control against fraud?

There’s not an easy way to beat the system because the system is simple. Also people flag the content and they are familiar with stock photography. The average winning design gets 4000 votes.

Donating $1m to charity?

Threadless donated $100,000 to Katrina. It’s a tricky issue because it’s hard to give money and not get slighted for not favoring another worthy cause.

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February 13, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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CommunityNext - Brand Utopia

The following are notes I took during the CommunityNext conference held at the Annenberg Auditorium at Stanford University in Palo Alto on February 10th, 2007.

Presentation by Josh Spear & Aaron Dignan on “Brand Utopia - What’s Happening as the Next Generation of Brand Consumers (Us) Combine Our Will, Technology, and Taste to Transform the Brand Landscape”

Does the world really need another social network or community? For example, let’s look at Noah's “community footprint”:

-         Jewish

-         Vegetarian

-         College alumni

-         Dog

-         Cars

-         Sneakers

-         Likes Yahoo!

-         Training for the marathon

-         Etc

But does he need all these social networks? Can anyone put all these into one place (like profile linker)? Staying connected is a lot of work. But what does each community bring to the table?

We want to live in a “brand utopia”. It’s a place where every brand creates a unique experience for consumers. There are a set of unspoken rules to create brand utopia:

-         Know what you care about. Have some values, have some impact, what do you care about .. environment, simplicity, design, natural, privacy, intimacy, luxury, creativity, sweatshop-free

-         Do something worth talking about. For instance, Facebook will donate all virtual gift shop money in February to breast cancer. And as you go forward, keep doing things worth talking about

-         Be authentic. The best social networks are built by lovers. People who put the network first. For example, see

-         Create community. Let community create you. Follow the community’s lead. Integrate, don’t infiltrate. Let heavy users select next feature, moderate the discussion, test the next big thing, help create your marketing strategy, be your ultimate focus group.

-         Operate within the rules of the universe. Gather deep knowledge about the space you’re building, look at what’s happening in the “brand solar system”. For example a social network about graffiti would have graffiti art that got whitewashed every 24 or 48 hours.

-         Change the world. Sounds lofty? Fair enough. But in brand utopia, it’s your business to change the world. Community user bases are untapped resources in more ways than just $$$. And consumers are hungry for purpose. Who I am is what I consume. For example, I can go to Toyota and get a hybrid and help change the world.

 There’s no limit to what you could do with the collective will at your disposal.

So, how can these rules make your network a part of the brand utopia?

Show us something new!

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February 11, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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What's wrong with PR?

Refreshmiamilogo Geektastik Monica Betancourt, Technology Geek for the Max Borges Agency, will speak about "PR 2.0" for RefreshMiami and the UM PRSSA at what promises to be a well-attended event at the UM SoC Common Grounds Courtyard.

Don't know what's wrong with PR? Then please read Stowe Boyd's great rant on PR in "Enough Already: Getting Social Media All Wrong":

  • Please, please, please don't talk about audiences when you are theoretically promoting social media.
  • Blogging is not just another channel for corporate marketing types to push their messages to markets, eyballs, or audiences.
  • the excessive hyperbole and surfeit of superlatives of press releases is distasteful at the least, and demeaning at the most.
  • And it's painful to see leading lights in the new PR era acting as apologists for large, slow-moving, risk averse companies who continue to get it wrong.
  • School your clients to do the right thing, not just wrap themselves in a bunch of psychobabble about social interaction with their "communities" without actually adopting a new mindset.

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January 19, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Refresh Miami October '06

Refresh Miami October '06
Refresh Miami October '06,
originally uploaded by alexdecarvalho.

Are you in South Florida and interested in Web 2.0? If so, join like-minded people and talk about your experiences. Topics range from marketing your projects, driving traffic, finding the right investors, Mobile 2.0, beyond Web 2.0, upcoming conferences, and so on. Be a part of building a strong community of internet professionals in South Florida and sign up at Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, October 4th at 7pm in Coral Gables.

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October 1, 2006 in Marketing-Advertising, Starting up, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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