What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Alan Belniakrandom, Social Media, technology9 Comments

summer vacation in a hammock

I heart Wi Fi

I took last week off from work, and was relatively unplugged.  My mind was still working, though.  I tucked away a few items that got me thinking for a few minutes.  They aren’t really related to one another, but fit the theme of my blog.  In advance, this is a bit of a random post.  So, if random isn’t your thing, skip this one and head on over to your next bit o’ reading.

Technology Isn’t For Everyone

I had a chat with my Dad about using a Flip Cam for something he’s working on.  He was captivated that a device that’s about the size of a deck of cards can capture HD-quallity video.  But then I thought: this is a guy who won’t even use a digital still camera… one that I gave him!  He’s not the most tech-savvy, so I fear that I may be coaxing him into something he might not fully get.  While I firmly believe that his current endeavor is a great fit for digital media (a topic for another post), I’m not so sure he’s the right fit for digital media.

Lesson (re-) learned: just because it’s for you doesn’t mean it’s for everyone


The Real Two-Way Value of Providing Good Service

On our way home from one of the spots we were staying, we stopped for a bite to eat.  With two kids in the car (a toddler and an infant), we were looking for a place that was air conditioned, where we could sit down, and had bathrooms.  At that point, that was pretty much the criteria.  We settled on a 99 Restaurant.  Chains are not my favorite, but I’m not that picky.  Our server was fantastic.  She, too, has a two-year old, so she was empathetic to our plight, even though we didn’t come out and say it.  The kid’s order was put in first and served early.  She brought extra napkins.  The kids meal came with a dessert, but we didn’t know that.  When we asked for the check, she sized up the situation (our toddler was getting a bit fussy), she covered her mouth with a menu and said to me in a low voice, “Her meal comes with a dessert.  Do you want it here, to go, or skip it?”  We opted to skip it, but the fact that she knew to keep that element quiet was awesome.  I really valued the service she gave us, considering the situation.  When the check came, I tipped her 30 percent.  She didn’t bend over backwards and cut my food for me, but she did the things right that made our short stay a great one.

Lesson (re-) learned: it pays to be nice; good deeds do not go unnoticed


Adding a Social Element to a Game To Increase Its Virality

On TV, I saw an ad for this game called CUPONK.  Maybe it’s been around for a while – it was new to me (I don’t watch a ton of TV).  If you don’t know what it is, it’s essentially a cup, a set of ping-pong balls, and a deck of cards that illustrate shots one must make, increasing in complexity.  The player sets up the cup, bounces the ball in various ways off various items, and scores.  In itself, the game is very simple.  My family and I saw the commercial all together, and later on, I made a comment about pairing that with YouTube.  I explained to my parents and sister (my wife has been conditioned to roll her eyes when I start missives like this) that this game could take on a whole new level if the Cuponk makers (Hasbro) encouraged other Cuponk players to upload their custom Cuponk shots to a YouTube channel.  This gets the game more awareness, it gets the channel more traffic, and it gets people doing more (and seemingly getting more value out of the the $23 they spend for something that can’t be more than $3 to make).  This idea was met with blank stares.

What I was driving at was that this same idea never would have occured 7 years ago.  The elements that make this a possibility today: the birth and rise of video sharing sites like YouTube, social sharing mores evolving and changing, and server space being so inexpensive.  A search for CUPONK on YouTube after I got home confirmed my idea.  This is already happening.  I generated this idea within 2 minutes of seeing the commercial.  I wonder if this was part of the plan all along, or if it came to them after the fact.

Lesson learned/explained: the role of digital media and sharing today is very different that 10 years ago, and will be very different in five more years; savvy companies will look to form links where they are not obvious to create additional value

The Role of Social Media in The #LebronDecision

Lebron James announced to which team he’d be suiting up with in the fall.  This was a hotly debated topic.  There was a good amount of speculation and rumor.  Lebron decided to host a prime-time ‘decision’ show on ESPN (with ad proceeds donated to charity).  He and his PR machine needed to hype this as much as possible.  One way is to use traditional media outlets.  Another is to use new, digital media outlets.  He joined Twitter and then amassed 150,000 followers in a mere 7 hours.  He was quielty building a following to get the word to spread.  And it did.  In fact, as soon as it was announced (my family took a time-out from a heated game of pitch), I looked at my social graph on Facebook and Twitter on my phone.  It was buzzing with ‘Lebron’ and ‘#LebronDecision’. Were I not parked in front of a TV, I would have gotten the entire summary of the event (which was already way too long) by following this on a digital media channel.  The PR machine and related ecosystem properly hyped this up, and then rest was left to the masses.

Lesson learned: If a goal is to be top-of-mind or to focus on awareness, consider using digital media; think differently to look for not-so-readily apparent applicaitons

What’s your take on any of my four lessons?  Agree?  Disagree?  Something in the middle?  Let me know in the comments.


image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobbyfiend/3069027061/



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