Category Archives: social media

Why I Want To Do My Own Music Marketing

This past semester, I took my first two music classes at Duke in Electronic Music and Music Composition. Since then, I’ve been creating my own beats and with enough practice, I hope to become a full time musician.

But until then, I need a day job to pay my student loans; part of the reason why I want to pursue a career in marketing and sales. As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, I’ve got goals that I want to accomplish, and two of those goals are being an expert ad salesman and social media marketer.

I am passionate about both fields but of late I’ve begun to notice an ulterior motive for why I am pursuing a career in marketing.

Let’s say I were an aspiring musician growing up in the 90’s. I would have to send out demos and play at local clubs and bars for the chance of getting a record deal and becoming a star.

Sure, I could have good music, but that didn’t necessarily guarantee that I would make it big. What did guarantee stardom was the record labels and their marketing power.

They could get me on the radio, television, and print, and then I would be a star.

Record labels still can do this, but in today’s digital age, you and I can become sensations all on our own.

I read a post today on Social Media Today titled, “How Emerging Artists Use Social Media“, and it talks about 18 year old Travis McDaniel, a young musician and songwriter who is using social media to grow and build his fan base.

But the author cautions that it is not easy to build an audience; it takes a lot of effort.

I would agree. Just like it’s hard to build a dedicated following on Twitter, or get a lot of subscribers to your blog, creating a rabid fan base using the internet takes time, dedication, and effort.

Which is why I am pursuing a career in marketing.

You see, I could probably launch my music career now. Except that 1) I’m not that good yet, and 2) I’d much rather wait until I have marketing experience to do so.

By waiting until I have the requisite experience, I can ensure that I when I do launch my music career full-time, I’ll know what I’m doing and won’t have to pay anyone else.

By then I hope I’ll have built relationships with the blogs and other press, and I’ll have the marketing know-how and connections to plaster my name across the internet.

When I launch, I want to do it right, I want to do it professionally, and I want to do it myself. I could pay someone to do it for me, but where’s the fun in that?

The fun comes from working hard and seeing yourself succeed. At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I’m responsible for my own success. #selfmade



Why We Need Social Scoring

The social scoring service Klout has been generating a lot of press lately, both good and bad. If you don’t know what Klout is, it is a service that assigns a single score (out of 100) to an individual as a measure of how influential they are online. Since Klout came onto the scene last year, a whole host of similar services have popped up. All claim to measure online influence, but they do so using different criteria and algorithms.

While some have embraced social scoring, others are wary of some of the potential implications social scoring will have for society going forward. One of those implications is the creation of a social media caste system. People are worried that businesses will discriminate against individuals with low social influence scores.

The idea is that marketers target those with the highest scores and provide them with perks, (like a better suite at the Palms in Las Vegas), in the hopes that they will spread the good will to their networks, resulting in more customers for that business. The only issue is that if you have a low Klout score, then you do not receive these perks or advantages.

Think of your Klout score as a credit score. Just as you are not entitled to those low levels of interest with a low credit score, you may not be entitled to certain perks at restaurants and hotels because you have a low Klout score.

That being said, society needs social scoring. Today we are living in an attention economy, where we face a continuing downpour of data and information. If we don’t figure out a effective method of sifting through all this information, we’ll drown.

That’s where social scoring comes in. When I want to find content that is relevant, useful, and/or entertaining, I turn to my friends, trusted publications, or people that I know are considered experts in their fields.Those are the new gatekeepers.

By creating or curating information that has relevance and value I am more likely to pay attention to them. I spend hours reading Mashable every week because I always learn something new. And I follow Brian Solis on Twitter for the same reason as well.

My attention is just like a currency, a currency I exchange for relevant information.

Of course, there were going to be attempts to measure online influence. Humans have always sought to align themselves with people more influential than they in order to achieve influence themselves. However, I believe that social scoring services like Klout should seek to measure influence only when it pertains to specific topics, such as SEO or dubstep.

A key component of online influence is relevance. Take Britney Spears who has millions of Twitter followers. She has a high Klout score but does she exert any influence in the SEO industry?


But she might exert some influence when it comes to dubstep music, because her latest song has some dubstep elements, and you know there will be at least 200 dubstep remixes of any Britney Spears song.

Imagine if there were directories you could look up according to topic. At the top, you’d be able to see individuals, blogs, products, services, etc., with the highest influence scores. Then you’d be able to make a more informed decision depending on what you are looking for. It’s not that you or I are want less information. In fact, we want more. We just want it to be the best, most accurate, most relevant information we can get.

Does the concept of social scoring raise some legitimate issues? Yes, but ultimately I believe the benefits of social scoring will outweigh the costs.

How I Spent My Spring Break (It Was Not In Punta Cana)

You know what’s really frustrating?

Being on Spring Break and seeing all the annoying Facebook and Twitter status updates that read, “Puntaaa Cannaaa”, and “We About to Get Loose!!!”, and “Shots, Shots, Shots!!!!”

Or something like that. Either way it’s been pretty annoying.

Or maybe it’s just sour grapes on my part because I didn’t do something wild and crazy for Spring Break. (Senior year I know right?)

Anyways, I decided to be productive and make some moves on my life after Duke.

While at home I reformatted my resume and wrote cover letters for a few job openings, but the single most important thing I did over Spring Break was network.

And my emphasis on networking yielded some fantastic results.

A week ago I met up with an older friend who works for the social media marketing agency M80, owned by media agency Mediacom.

It was probably one of the coolest experiences I’ve had to date.

I really loved the casual environment of the place. It was how I imagined a media agency to be.

Wide open spaces. Free food. Everything was laid back. There may have been one guy in a suit. Foul language was encouraged. But apparently not when using a brands Twitter account 🙂

ESPN was there doing a Lunch and Learn. (Foolishly I did not stay for lunch)

But those are just semantics. The real important part was talking to the employees. I was fortunate to have someone come up and talk to me and explain exactly what it was like to work in a social media marketing agency.

Here are some things I took away from my experience:

1. Think about using social media from a brand perspective.

When I first sat down to talk to my friend’s colleague, the first question he asked me was, “Why do you want to work in social media?”

I paused and thought for a moment. Why do I like social media?

I couldn’t really come up with a satisfactory response so I said, “Because I love connecting with people?”

Apparently this was not good enough, and I got a harsh reality check.

Just because I have a Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin account does not mean that I know how to utilize social media effectively. There is a big difference between using those channels for personal use and using them professionally for a Fortune 500 company.

Although to my credit, when he began telling me about their sentiment analysis tool, I brought up Dell’s social media command center and how difficult it was to measure sentiment. He was impressed.

2. The social media space is still evolving.

After getting thoroughly grilled, I was able to ask some questions of my own.

“What is the typical workday like?” I asked.

“Typical?” he responded. “There is no typical workday. Every day is different.”

I loved that answer. Basically what he meant is that there is currently no rulebook for practicing social media like there is for traditional marketing. These guys are making it up as they go along, seeing what works, what doesn’t, and adjusting accordingly.

Which is incredibly exciting (at least for me) because I can pave my own path to success in social media.

Which leads me to the third thing I learned,

3. Pick an area of expertise, and dominate it.

I wrote a post last week about finding a niche and owning it, and the same advice seems to keep popping up. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be real estate or medicine.

By practicing social media in your own niche, you’ll be able to see what works, what doesn’t, and then you’ll be able to apply what you learned if you ever get hired as a social media marketing manager or whatever.

Is the Concept of Online Influence Overrated?

If you’ve been following me around the Interwebs lately (why would you? That’s called stalking. Unless you’re a marketer of course) then you would know that the subject of online influence really gets me going.

Wanna know how I’m obsessed?

It all started when I had to create a class blog on online influence.

I called it The New Influential.

I thought (still do think) it was brilliant.

So brilliant that I had to make it my Twitter handle. And now I obsess over Klout scores and PeerIndex scores, and like a drug fiend, I zip through my Google Reader, trying to get the latest fix on online influence.

But today Tom Webster wrote a post on Social Media Today titled, “The Limits of Online Influence”. Webster discusses how he enlisted the support of A-List influencers like Chris Brogan and Ed Shahzade to help raise awareness for the earthquake disaster in New Zealand.

He wanted people to create a simple 20 second message, and hoped that his influential friends, which have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, would cause an outpouring of 20 second messages.

With a little help from his friends, Webster’s message had a combined reach of 308,000, and generated over 400,000 impressions.

Those might seem like big numbers, except when you consider that only 389 people clicked on the actual link, and only 10 left a message.

Wow. Talk about disappointing.

So does this mean that the idea of online influence is overrated? Webster would think so:

“What this experience suggests to me, however, is that if you thought online influence has been a bit oversold, you are wrong. It’s been exponentially oversold.”

I would say yes and no.

First of all, how we define influence as it pertains to the web is still ongoing. Is influence the same as popularity? Is Lady Gaga influential because she is popular?

Well, it depends.

When it comes to music, definitely.

But when it comes to online marketing, probably not.

It also depends how much work, planning, and preparation is put into making an influencer outreach program work. In his post, Webster talks about his good friend Matt Riding, who rattled off three things that Webster could have done differently to engage more people.

I guess it served as a wake up call to me because I figured you could just rely on the inherent potential Twitter and Facebook to carry your message and influence the masses.

Apparently not.

Lastly, I think it’s important to say that we are just beginning to live in the digital age. Remember 6 years ago when services like Facebook and Twitter did not exist, and blogging was not for moms?

I do.

Society is still not at a point where social media is absolutely essential. I mean c’mon, most companies still haven’t figured out how to get a ROI from social media. How are they supposed to know how to run influencer campaigns?

I believe that as society grows more comfortable with these new tools marketers can then create more effective influencer campaigns. There will be more data available, and better tools for collecting and analyzing that data so that a formula is established.

So to say that the concept of online influence is overrated is shortsighted.

A service like Klout might be pretty meaningless to Joe the Plumber in 2011, but what about in 2025, when there will be billions of people connected to the internet?

Just something to chew on.

How Will You Be Remembered?

Do you remember watching Britney Spears on TV when you were younger? You wanted to be just like her, singing and dancing at the MTV Music Awards with thousands of adoring fans screaming your name.

Or maybe it was Kobe Bryant. You wanted to slash to the rim and dunk over other superstars in the NBA Finals, in front of an audience of millions.

You wanted to be famous and you wanted to be influential, just like those figures mentioned above.

I don’t blame you. I wanted (and still want) to be famous and influential. It’s part of human nature.

As humans, we have this innate need for attention. For the most part, we like to be recognized for our work, for our beauty, for our personality; for something. Whatever it is that we own or have accomplished in this life, we need that feeling of validation.

And just as we’ve needed this feeling of validation since the Stone Age, we also need this feeling of validation in the Information Age.

You’ve probably heard talk about how our generation (Gen Y) is becoming more and more narcissistic, and that may very well be true.

Consider this story for example:

I don’t normally spend much time in Duke’s Law School, but the Law Library is a great place to study during finals. Finals that semester were particularly tough, and I had been awake for 48 consecutive hours. Tired, I walked up the stairs, pushed open the double doors, and then proceeded to use the bathroom, not sure of where I was going.

As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that there were no urinals.

That’s odd I thought. Unperturbed, I finished my business, washed my hands, and then walked out, only to see a female pass my by and look at me very strangely.

What’s her deal? I remembered thinking.

And then by chance I glanced up, and saw that I had just used the “Ladies” bathroom.


Instead of being embarrased, I was thought it was incredibly funny, and posted it to my Facebook.

So tired that I just walked into the Ladies bathroom in the Law School Libs. LOL!!!

Or something like that.

Within minutes, I had about 10 comments that read, “Hahaha”, “LOL!!!”, “You so stoop!!” and “You would do that!”

While your status updates may never be as extreme as mine was, at some point (probably today even), you’ve posted an update that you knew/hoped would get liked, commented on, or retweeted.

You wanted to create something memorable, so that people could look back and say, “remember when you said that?”

And that, is the whole idea behind fame and influence: legacy.

People will always remember Britney Spears because she makes great (depends on your taste in music) pop music and continues to influence generations of teen girls.

And people will always remember Kobe Bryant as being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and for inspiring a generation of kids to shoot turnaround jumpers in their backyards.

We, as humans strive for influence because if we can have an impact on a certain number of people, then that many more people will remember us after we are gone.

It doesn’t have to be millions, thousands, or even hundreds. We just need to exert enough influence so that someone remembers us after we are dead and gone.

How My Embarrasing Facebook Photo Went Viral

It was 10:30PM, and I had just gotten out of my fraternity’s chapter meeting when I felt my Blackberry buzz in my pocket.

Is this an email, a text, or a bbm? I thought as I reached into my jeans pocket, and pulled out my red-flashing Blackberry.

It was an email from Facebook, with a subject line that read (I’m using a fake name to protect my friend’s identity),

“Jane Doe has tagged a photo of you.”

I’ll check it when I get to the library, I thought, and stashed my phone back into my pocket, Facebook photos an afterthought.

As I continued walking, my phone began vibrating again, but I ignored. But then came a second vibration, and a third, and then a fourth.

Intrigued, I whipped out my phone to read more emails from Facebook. More of my friends were tagging me in photos but added captions like,

“So easy a caveman could do it,” and “Save money on Geico car insurance”.

Confused, scared, and intrigued, I rushed to the library, logged onto Facebook, and saw 10 notifications waiting.

Heart racing, I braced myself for what the embarrassing, job-prospect-destroying photo would be.

It wasn’t that bad, just a slightly goofy photo that my friends all made their profile pictures.

Amused by my friends’ creativity, I decided to join the game, “@” replying each them and writing, “I hate all of you.”

In under a minute, there were half a dozen likes and comments, and more friends were getting in on the action.

And then the Facebook chats began.

Their profile defaults set to that picture, all my friends simultaneously chatted with me, and when I responded to one, they would coordinate their message and all respond at the same time.

Faced with a lost cause, I logged off Facebook, thoughts of revenge on my mind.

Dissecting my first Viral experience.

The prank got me thinking about how and why content goes viral, like the Old Spice campaign. Obviously my photo was not on the same scale as the Old Spice campaign, but I think there are some commonalities:

1. Humor.

It’s almost a sure bet that if a video or graphic is funny enough, and enough people see it, it will go viral.

Comedy works. Ask Old Spice.

That photo of me is pretty creepy, but also kinda funny. Who wouldn’t want to tweet that?

2. Relevance.

The photo is funny, but it is not on the scale of Old Spice.

The Old Spice campaign was geared towards males, ages 18-35, who I’m sure were more inclined to engage with the campaign than anyone other demographic.

Likewise, my friends and I found it funny because we have a history together, a certain context that an outsider would not have, and therefore the photo means more to them than any outsider.

3. Personalization.

For content to be viral, people need to engage with it. Old Spice allowed ordinary people to submit their own captions, which Isaiah Mustafa would then respond to.

This clever idea no doubt caused people to spread the message, because the chance to be part of history was too alluring.

4. Game Mentality.

This is tied to personalization. Old Spice allowing individual input created a sense of competition among viewers: who could come up with the funniest caption.

A similar competition arose between my friends and I, as we all tried to one-up each other.

5. Social Media.

This one is rather obvious, but Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all mediums that allow you to 1) comment and participate in real-time, and 2) share content easily within your social network.

It was like my friends were in the same room with me, and we were all laughing and talking about the photo. Except it was through Facebook, and all the people I’m friends with on Facebook could see, and join in.

6. Influencers (or as Seth Godin calls them, Sneezers).

These were the people who were responsible for making the photo go viral. They were the ones who saw the Old Spice video on Youtube, and then shared it via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.

They exerted influence over their social networks, and helped the video go viral.

The same for my photo. My friends and I all have a certain measure of trust with one another, so when someone posts content on their wall, our network is likely to listen.

In my case, my friends saw that initial person tag a photo of me, and then from there the firestorm started.

Recreating the Viral Experience.

I’m glad to say that my first viral experience wasn’t an embarrassing one and now I’m tempted to recreate the experience.

I don’t know what it will be, but you can bet you’ll find out first.

What I Learned Live-Tweeting the Lakers – Celtics

Laker's guard Kobe Bryant drives on Celtics guard Paul Pierce

Did you catch the Laker game on Sunday by any chance? In case you missed it, you can check out my Twitter feed.

I actually live-tweeted two basketball games, Duke-St. Johns and Celtics-Lakers, and I would have enjoyed doing it a lot more if both teams hadn’t severely stunk up the joint.

Duke didn’t show up in its game at all, getting blasted 90-78 in Madison Square on national television, and the Lakers got blown out in the fourth quarter by the hated Celtics (although Kobe had 41) on national TV as well.

But I did enjoy doing it. Here are some things I took away:

Twitter is a great medium for fans to talk trash.

Being a Duke meant that at least 1 of my 98 followers had to hate them. It turns out one of my followers, @dysonsound (great music blog) was a UCONN fan and we ended up exchanging some jabs. He also happened to be a Celtic fan, so we had a lively discussion about basketball that took place over 4 hours.

I remember asking @dysonsound this after he revealed his UCONN and Celtics fandom,

@dysonsound haha are we diametrically opposed or what?

Twitter is a great medium to speculate on what trash is being talked during games.

I mean it was Lakers-Celtics – some blows were bound to be exchanged. Early in the game, the cameras focused on an interesting two-way exchange between former teammates Shaq and Kobe.  I asked one of my followers what he thought Shaq said to Kobe to which he responded,

“You’re looking rather sexy today.”

Uh no, how about, “Kobe how my a$$ taste?”

What did my followers think?

I got interesting feedback from two followers that were on either side of the spectrum.

One of my followers @vikramraju joked,

@SSunmonu will replace my ESPN gamecast for live bball updates…would you branch out into other sports, sir? I need solid cricket coverage.

Another follower, @apfk88 was not so ecstatic, tweeting

@ssunmonu really? You’re going to tweet every play of the game?

To which I responded,

@apfk88 no one’s asking you to read em.

But the most important thing I took away from my live-tweeting session was that I do need to be more active on Twitter. I was actually amazed by how “influential” I was being. Checking out Klout afterwards revealed a jump from a score of 17 to a 25. Not too shabby for a days work.