Autumn Transitions

It’s that time of year. Summer draws to a close, baseball season makes the home stretch to the playoffs, leaves change and school starts. For many it’s a new start and a change of seasons. Around this time in 2007, I started exploring how clients could benefit from leveraging social media to build and enhance relationships with customers. Today I am excited to share that I am starting a new position that allows me to focus on doing just that. I have joined Fleishman-Hillard as SVP of Digital and Social Media and as a Partner in the Boston office. It’s been more than a decade since I started a new endeavor at this time of year, and in my house it means my kids and I are all making a transition at the same time.

I decided on the move to FH because I saw an opportunity. FH has an entrepreneurial spirit, and social media is thriving and growing as a practice area. I am taking on a role where there is already an established and very talented local team in Boston, and where I will be focused on building our reach, creating and expanding client relationships and broadening our offerings of world-class social media services. I could not be more excited at the wide array of possibilities to work with clients (new and potential) looking for a trusted business partner and leveraging our team’s existing experience to grow and do more great work.

I would like to thank the numerous colleagues, clients and friends at Rosetta for a terrific ride the last five years. There is nothing that thrills me more than doing excellent work with clients who approach working with agencies as true business partners. I especially enjoyed working closely with the good people at Coach, Borders, Maidenform and philosophy (not to mention the roster of other clients who usually prefer not to be disclosed). In any professional services environment the people are the asset – I am proud to have worked with a talented Rosetta team. You know who you are and I can’t thank all of you enough for the support and collaboration.

The industry of social media has grown up, and companies who ask for agency partners to strategize, develop and lead programs need to answer the call with the same level of sophistication and rigor as any other program. More thoughts soon about the convergence of the agency landscape related to all things digital, but for the near term I’m looking forward to jumping in with both feet at an agency that has already embraced the change.

p.s. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how excited I am to be working in Boston.  Those who know me know I have spent much of the last several years on the road, and while no opportunity is zero travel, this actually gives me an excuse to be in town regularly.  My wife and boys deserve a major dose of thanks for putting up with me – of course they now have to put up with me more in person.  I hope to cross paths with many more folks in person in the Hub soon. Love that dirty water…

photo credit: deniscollette via flickr

Is there such a thing as “too social?”

Diluted When I talk to clients and colleagues about social networks, most think of LinkedIn and Facebook.  A few more familiar with social media will talk about Twitter and other bookmarking tools like Delicious and StumbleUpon.  Lately, I am seeing niche social networks pop up through Ning and other tools.  With the profileration of community building online, is there a danger that communities become too diluted?

Take the following examples.  I was recently recruited by the business folks behind local Boston sports personality Jerry Remy to join, a community for passionate Red Sox fans.  Within minutes of joining, I had a few dozen connection requests from complete strangers – our only bond a passion for the good guys.  The community allows "friending," blog posts that are proprietary to the network, and the equivalent of Facebook wall posts.  The Boston chapter of the American Marketing Association has also changed up how folks interact with the site adding many social features, like ""friending" and wall posts as well.  (It's actually pretty slick – if you are a member please feel free to connect with me.)  Not too shabby. 

Here's the problem: I want to go to one place, one portal, to get all of my social activity.  I'd almost prefer the front end of Facebook as a single 'portal' that I can access from there, and to maintain contacts in one place.  Do we really need to perpetuate the YASN acronym?  Yet another social network?  I love the idea of connecting with other Sox fans, but I don't like the idea of another profile to update, another source of BACN with all of the connection requests, etc.  There is lots of proprietary content on Sawxheads, and maybe if I could RSS stream the activity to Google Reader it would be a lot easier to digest in one place.

There are startups looking to carry the torch on being content aggregators, whether it's merging activity streams to centralizing the management of profiles.  It seems a long ways off before the pain becomes so compelling that these services will emerge as mainstream…but I think it's going in that direction.  In some upcoming posts I am going to explore the functionality of some of these tools, thanks to some of the folks who have reached out to me to ask for a point of view.  This could be interesting – but hopefully each solves a fundamental problem of spreading out that social goodness too thinly.

Photo credit: cayusa via Flickr

Gary Vaynerchuk Brings More Than Wine to Boston

Last week I had the sincere pleasure of attending a great social media event in Boston, a live taping of Wine Library TV.  Gary Vaynerchuk is not only perhaps the most passionate wine enthusiast out there, he’s hilarious and has a personality fit for a burgeoning online TV show.  His book tour (for Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World) brought him to Boston, where after filming the show he conducted a live Q&A.  His show and website encompass everything about community, and Gary himself mentioned he spends 18 hours a day working with his community.  (He’s actively responding to folks on Twitter and popping up on many blog posts from the event, among other things).  Bottom line: he has an uncanny knack to bring people together.  I met too many people to mention who I had previously only known on Twitter or through the Social Media Breakfast series in Boston (I’m still searching for a one-word term to describe that).

Gary’s site leverages everything Web 2.0 has to offer and is clear proof that good content is best served online, where a community can gobble it up.  Thanks Gary, for sharing your experiences with the Boston social media crew, and thanks to Dmitri Gunn and the PerkettPR team for organizing.  Thanks also to the many sponsors (Barnes & Noble – Boston University, Mzinga, Matchmine, Pour Favor, Select Wine Imports, and Beautiful Things by Charise) for running a great night. 

Even if you’ve never had wine before I’d recommend watching this and signing up to see future episodes.