Posts Tagged 'Social Media'

September 16, 2011

Social Marketing v. Social Media - And Them Cowboys?

Once again the Dallas Cowboys let a game they weren't supposed to win slip away from them in the 4th quarter. Again it was Tony "oops" Romo that had a hand (or "didn't have hands") in the loss. I can't blame it all on him as I saw many problems that led up to the defeat. I, as a master football coach of 4-6 year-old flag football, could write multiple paragraphs on that subject, but because this is a social media blog, I will get back on topic.

After last night's "4th quarter of doom" that probably led to crazy nightmares for my sleeping kids (I may have been yelling loudly and often), I decided to open Twitter to see what everyone in the world thought about the game. I have to admit I was a little shocked at how many Cowboy haters are out in the wild. Of course the game was trending, and the conversation was ... diverse: You had your die-hard Cowboy fans that were saying, "Shake it off, you weren't supposed to win anyway." You had your fair weather fans that were saying, "Great, another season opener loss, I guess I'll follow the Texans instead." You had the fans of other teams that were saying, "Haha, the Cowboys lost again – Go (Insert your team here)!" And, of course you had the pure Cowboy haters who were saying, "#$%^#$%^#$ the Cowboys they #$%#$% and #$%# and then #$%#$%. Eat it!" I would say most were Cowboy haters, and most of the tweets were not even close to being rated PG-13.

Stay with me now ... I'm finally onto the real topic.

Social Media
What I saw on Twitter last night was real Social Media to me. It was current, real time, opinionated, cool and sad all at the same time. It encapsulated the thoughts and reactions of the public to something that was happening or just happened. Why is social media cool? A couple of weeks ago when the earthquake struck the northeast, people were saying that they received tweet updates of the ground shaking and notifications that an earthquake hit seconds before they felt the tremors in their area. Think about that and how many possible uses that has in lots of different industries. X happens, Y needs to know about it right away, Z tweets it or posts it on Facebook (or any of the 2000 other social apps out there), and like magic you have the information almost before you are supposed to. That's viral social media.

Social Marketing
Social Marketing isn't nearly as sexy. It's only and exactly what it sounds like. We do it at SoftLayer: You see tweets from us talking about press releases, new products, our new website, our new international locations and some of the other value we provide to customers because we know how easy it is to miss some of the best stuff in the noisy social sphere. It helps us build our brand and helps with awareness by getting our name in front of people who may not have seen it otherwise. It drives traffic to our website and straight to our order form. It is significant to our bottom line.

The challenge with this kind of engagement is that the volume of content can seem overwhelming to some. Some customers only want to hear the viral social media kind of stuff with up to the minute news (which is our vision for @SoftLayerNotify), but it's tough to abandon the social marketing piece because it's been so measurably successful for us.

With that being said, we want to hear from you about what you like and don't like about our social engagement. What you would like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Do you like it? Do you hate it? We're definitely listening ... Well as long as we're not busy getting ready for the next flash mob.

-@skinman454

August 22, 2011

Changing the (YouTube) Channel

As one of the newest members to the SoftLayer family, let me make something clear: One of the biggest changes in SoftLayer's social media presence is directly a result of me. Okay ... well I might not have directly initiated the change, but I like to think that when you're a new kid on the block, you have to stick together with the other new editions. My new BFF and partner in crime at SL is the SoftLayer Channel on YouTube. He's replaced SoftLayerTube Channel (though I should be clear that I haven't replaced anyone ... just become a big help to our registered Social Media Ninja KHazard).

This blog is my first major contribution to the InnerLayer, and when I was asked to write it I must admit I was very excited. On literally my 6th day of work, my hope was to make a major impact or at least prove that a ninja-in-training (that would be me) can hold her own with a full-fledged ninja ... but I digress. The real reason I'm here is to talk about our move from SoftLayerTube to SoftLayer. With a little YouTube wizardry and some help from our friends in Mountain View, CA, we've been able to take the help of the better-branded /SoftLayer account.

Don't worry, you are not going to lose any of your favorite SL videos ... They're just taking a permanent trip to the SoftLayer channel.

TL;DR Version
Old and busted: /SoftLayerTube

New SL YouTube Channel

New Hotness: /SoftLayer

New SL YouTube Channel

Subscribe!

-Rachel

June 9, 2011

Postling: Tech Partner Spotlight

This is a guest blog with David Lifson from our partner Postling. Postling is an ideal social media management tool for small businesses. Postling's dashboard allows the user to take control of their online presence by aggregating all of their social media accounts in one place. David will be sharing some social media tips and tricks in a separate blog in the near future.

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
March 16, 2011

Everything Counts - Social Media Measurement

Here I sit on another flight back to Dallas, and I just finished my movie. What's the best way to spend the rest of the "air time?" Viola - another blog! Your heart is likely aflutter as you wonder what on earth I've come up with to post this time.

After rummaging through the topics bouncing around in my head, I figure it's time for another Social Media blog. I've been tasked with defining the ROI for our social media strategy. Sounds easy, right? You'd be surprised.

Sure, our social media work is well planned out. Our team includes one full time ninja and a few other utility players that span other departments. Our strategy includes all kinds of tactics which we use to let the world (or our corner of it) know about speaking engagements, conferences, new product releases, updated product releases, changes to our website and portal, maintenance windows, outages, etc. (I'd get into more specifics about the tactics, but they are so classified that even I don't know many of them).

So with something so defined and so well thought out, it must be really simple to see if we are #Winning, right? Well not really. Just the other day at the IDC Directions 2011 in Boston @erintraudt, used a great quote from Einstein to explain exactly how difficult it can be to quantify your results: "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." Every good marketing boss would love to be able to say, "We tweet this, we Facebook that, and we get this and that out of it every time," but as you know, it just doesn't work that way.

I will say that after listening to the panels and hearing how the big companies are attacking social media, I think we are years ahead of them in the game. The big ideas they are coming up with are things we tried two years ago, and we already know the pros and cons of those approaches.

I might not be able to hand you a spreadsheet with exactly how many sales and a given social campaign will have on our brand, but we're starting to use a lot of pretty cool tools (some from our customers) to start figuring it all out. Maybe the ninja should be put on the case too.

What do you use to measure social media impact of your campaigns? Do you have a product or service we can check out?

What I can tell you is this: Our first concerted twitter campaign went much better than expected, and while I'm not at liberty to share many details, we think reaching a lot of relevant people who engaged with our content is a distinct measure of success. Even better: We paid less than $2.00 to do so!

I'll take those kinds of results any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

-Skinman

Categories: 
March 7, 2011

March Madness - Customer Experience Style

If you are a SoftLayer customer you probably noticed a maintenance window early Sunday morning. If you aren't a SoftLayer customer, (you should be, and) you may have even noticed on quite a few social media outlets that we were trying to provide real-time updates about the maintenance progress, and our customers were doing so as well.

SoftLayer customers were given two internal tickets notifying them if they were to be affected, and when those tickets were created, the ticket system would have then sent an email to the admin user on that account. Additionally, our portal notification system was updated to show details about the window, and we created new threads in our customer forums to provide regular, centralized updates. We went as far as taking a few calls and meetings with customers to talk about their concerns with the maintenance timing and length because we know that any downtime is bad downtime in the world of hosting.

Saturday night, we had extra support on staff online, and our social media ninja was awake and letting the world know step by step what we were doing with real time status alerts. We wanted to be extremely transparent during the entire process. This was not a maintenance we could avoid, and we tried to roll as many different things that needed work into this maintenance without making a roll back impossible.

The maintenance itself went well, and as planned, most items that were taken down were back online well before the window ended. We ran into a few snags in bringing all of the CloudLayer CCIs back online, but even with those delays for a few customers, the work was completed by the time we committed to.

Now for the customer experience aspect. From reading various tweets from our customers, it seems like we should/could have done a few things even better: Been more proactive, sent standard email, attempted phone calls, etc.

While some of these options may be considered, not all are feasible. If you are one of the customers that tweeted, has blogged, is planning on tweeting, is planning on blogging or believes we're being anything less than genuine and transparent on our social media platforms, I want to hear from you.

Please comment on this blog, tweet me @skinman454, email me skinman@softlayer.com, call me at 214.442.0592, come by our office and visit.

Whatever it takes, just contact me. I can't put myself in your shoes and feel your pain on things like this unless we have a chance to talk about it. I look forward to our conversation.

-Skinman

December 14, 2010

SoftLayer Social Media Adventure

If you've been watching @SoftLayer and following our posts on Facebook, you know that we've been spreading the holiday spirit by giving away "swag bags" to our social networks. At this point, we've shipped packages full of SoftLayer goodies to exotic locations like Germany, New York City, India, Southern California, Ireland, Brazil and Flower Mound, TX.

For our first few giveaways, we asked our followers to post a phrase like "I love @SoftLayer! They're Bigger, Better, Badder. For hosting that rocks: http://softlayer.com/." We got a great response, but that task was a little too easy. To make the next set of giveaways a little more challenging, we started asking SoftLayer Trivia questions and rewarding the first correct responder. The content of the questions spanned the spectrum from SoftLayer-specific facts to off-the-wall esoteric trivia.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • At Parallels Summit in Feb, four SoftLayer employees caught something. What was it and how has it been used?
  • A SoftLayer executive shares his name with a Houston-based rapper. Who is he?
  • What is SoftLayer's ASN? What is the server capacity of our Dallas facilities? IPv6 addresses are how many bits?
  • The SoftLayer "3 Bars" logo is based on a seven-layer model. What is it? What are the seven layers? What is the most common protocol you hear of from it?
  • In the holiday song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," what did "my true love" give to me on Day 11?

What kind of swag are we talking about here? I thought you'd never ask:

As you can see, we're not just sending out pens and paperweights.

Don't be sad if you're just now learning about these giveaways ... As it turns out, this blog post is your opportunity to get in on the action. Last week, we teased the idea of a "Social Media" adventure, and here it is.

The first ten participants to complete all of the tasks below win their very own swag bag.

  • Leave a comment on this blog post telling us which one of our data center locations you'd choose for your next server and why.
  • Visit our Facebook page and leave a post on our wall with your favorite feature of SoftLayer's offerings
  • Post a Tweet that includes "@SoftLayer is awesome" and #socialmediaadventure
  • Click through to the YouTube page for the video above and leave a comment on it like "SoftLayer's hosting rocks!"
  • Send an email to khazard@softlayer.com with your blog comment author name, Facebook name, Twitter handle and YouTube username so we verify you've completed the adventure.

If you've had a tough time finding that perfect present for the person who has everything, the SoftLayer swag bag might be exactly what you're looking for. Instead of circling the mall for half an hour looking for a parking spot, you'll complete our challenge in about five minutes, and your SoftLayer gear will be on its way to you.

On your mark. Get set. GO!

-@khazard

December 13, 2010

Kevin Smith Gets It

I am a Kevin Smith fan. I admire him on a number of levels – his movies entertain, his podcasts with Scott Mosier (Smodcasts) are a funny, albeit twisted, trip into the unknown and his on stage performances / monologues / Q&A sessions never fail to please. Kevin is also a prodigious Twitterer (11,994 tweets and 1,716,849 followers).

My appreciation for Kevin and Scott Mosier has clambered up a notch following this article on Techdirt. Read the article and watch the embedded video and I think you will soon see what I mean. Smith and Mosier, for lack of a better phrase, ‘get it’ or perhaps they backed into things and ‘got it’ once it had happened. They understand the notion of building an audience; they understand the idea that it is tough to build something and monetize it immediately. In a world driven (supposedly) by instant gratification, they have introduced the word patience.

While it seems antithetical, there is a certain truth to this – there are very few businesses that went viral and surged to terrific profitability as soon as they started to Tweet or became active on Facebook. For 99.99% of businesses, audience takes time to build, which means that success takes time to come. And oftentimes, it does not come at all despite best efforts.

Twitter, Facebook, and podcasts are all part of a toolbox that, if used properly, can build something much more valuable than the stand-alone channel. As Techdirt author, Mike Masnick, points out; Smith has been able to build something that he can monetize by giving away some goods free. He has taken the time to build his audience and now he is reaping the rewards by monetizing other, ancillary efforts.

I am not implying that all business is equal – there are few comparisons to Kevin Smith that make sense for most business beyond the fact that everyone is producing something and trying to sell it. But I think the lessons are the same across most businesses – audience is not instant. In fact, I am not sure that it ever was (that said, I suppose beer was probably close to an instant success when the Egyptians invented it and stated to hieroglyph about it. It was probably the rage of Alexandria in short order). Simply beginning to Tweet and expecting instant success is a fool’s game. However, starting the game with the notion that Twitter, Facebook and whatever is next are useful tools to build toward success, forces a deal more patience and an almost deliberate approach. Here we can find success. Not overnight success for most, but success nonetheless.

As the saying goes recognizing the problem / challenge is half the battle. All we need to do now is figure out what to do next. I am working on it.

-@quigleymar

September 23, 2010

Movies are Becoming Like Books

One thing that I’ve noticed about our customer behavior at SoftLayer is that as these Internet-centric businesses grow and they add more servers, their bandwidth usage per server also grows. A lot. Why? Their customers are using more bandwidth. I’ll wager that this trend is not unique to SoftLayer customers, but it’s something that’s happening across the board.

Here’s how I’ve been contributing to this end user bandwidth demand. Back in June, I ordered an iPad. Since I was already a Netflix customer, I downloaded their free iPad app. I found that the instant movie streaming is awesome. Every few days now, I look at what’s been newly released for instant streaming, put it in list view and sort by star rating high to low. It’s not only new movies but also old movies just newly set up for instant streaming. Then I pick something I’ve never seen and start watching.

What I really like is that I don’t have to budget the time to watch the whole movie. With my iPad, I can catch 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and watch the movie at my leisure over two or three days. Netflix restarts the movie where I left off when I open the app again.

This makes watching a movie much like reading a book. You can mark the spot you left off and pick it up again when you get a chance. You can stop the movie and back up to a particular time stamp to review a plot twist that you didn’t fully understand, or see that action sequence once again, just like my DVR at home. I’m currently working through “Eight Men Out” in this way.

So if I run to the car wash (which provides free wifi) and I know I’ll be waiting 15-20 minutes, I can grab my iPad and I have a choice of reading a book, watching a movie, playing games, or even getting some work done. If I go the movie route, I’m helping to increase the demand for bandwidth.

I’d actually like Netflix to let watching a movie become even more like reading a book. Like allowing “highlighting” to mark a beginning and ending timestamp to a clip you can save for future use. Or the ability to save notes at a particular timestamp. Or even better – allow you to do vocal commentary on a separate audio track. There are a couple of clips in “Eight Men Out” that I’d like to save for future use.

So, get to work on all that Netflix. :-)

August 10, 2010

Where do we go from here?

We are about to move, and in my new home, it turns out to be cheaper to get my daughter a cell phone than it is to add a home phone... That wouldn’t be particularly remarkable, except that she just turned 7 -- this year! That got me to thinking: I am part of the generation during which computers went from curiosities to appliances... That is, I remember a time during which the only thing at home comparable to today’s PCs was an IBM Selectric typewriter my mother used. So, yeah, I am old.

I would guess that the first piece of technology a child uses is still the TV. Sure, we use phones around them and some use baby monitors, but I think most parents have used the one-eyed baby-sitter at one time or another. And with the familiarity with a TV, is it that much of a leap to viewing a computer monitor? Is the leap from remote control to a keyboard that huge?

And as our children get more and more familiar with technology at younger and younger ages, I’m thinking this is putting us more and more into an “On Demand” society. Through the past decade or two I have watched that concept evolve from pure marketing to reality; you can get non-programmed TV at the touch of a remote button, you can order pizza online, and, thanks to the innovation of Softlayer, you can create a turn-key server solution in a matter of hours.

As much as I worry about how my daughter will adapt to the technological leaps she is going to face in her lifetime, I am also curious about the wonders she will get to experience and build upon. This is one of the many reasons I am proud to work for Softlayer—we will create more of those wonders before I am done. And who knows? Some day she may be writing here about how it used to take a few hours to create a turn-key server solution and that her father must be really old to have ever lived in a world without computers...

July 20, 2010

Back in ancient times, and an eye on the future

I recently returned from vacation (go ahead and let out your jealous, exasperated sighs). During our vacation one of our stops was the ancient mayan temples at Chichen Itza. For those who ever get a chance, it’s a must see. The landscape is emerald green, the temples are awe inspiring, and the weather is beautiful. For those who aren’t quite sure about what I’m talking about, here’s a nice image to refer to:

While the temples are cool, even more amazing are the little details the Ancient Mayans put into this that really set it off. Things like the serpent visible only on the spring equinox, the echo when you clap (which sounds like a bird – no kidding!), amongst others.

What’s really interesting here is the story of human engineering, and to see how far it’s come since those ancient times, and even though Its mind-boggling to see how far we’ve come, it’s quite intriguing to see what they did with their own type of technology.

While they used to clap at the temple, we now send facebook or twitter posts. They passed their stories and music verbally over centuries, and we share MP3s and other media across the globe at the speed of light. While SoftLayer sits at the edge of technology with our state of the art datacenters, hardware, and networking topology, it’s pretty hard to compare to the tools used by, and the creations made by the people of this era. Luckily our tour guide re-assured us that we’ll be fine in 2012, despite what the movies say, so we’ll have plenty of time to see some more amazing advances in technology. Who knows that our future generations will say about our ‘rudimentary’ communications and technology some 2500 years from now.

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