The Internet is the Truth Machine

April 10, 2009

About 10 years ago, my Uncle recommended a book to me called the Truth Machine
 by James Halprin.

The book is science fiction and truthfully, I wasn’t so intrigued.  The book was published in 1996.  The cover reads: It Could be the Greatest Blessing or The Most Terrible Curse.  The premise of the book is that in the not so distant future a “Truth Machine” is invented.  Over the course of generations borders are secured, individuals become more intelligent because they can no longer cheat, and the reality of life is brought to light in a glaring manner.  The “base line” of truth is brought to the forefront of society. Politicians must tell the truth – wow, what a world.

Last week I attended the Web 2.0 conference in San Fran, and it hit me….the Internet has become the Truth Machine!

Let me explain: for the past however many years, brands have been been doing well online selling goods, building brand awareness etc, but we all know that CPM is dead.  Brands can no longer just broadcast online and hope to win new/loyal customers.  Facebook, Youtube. MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Stubleupon, Yelp, are dominating the interactive landscape and brands need to rethink their strategy.  Listening, engaging, and cultivating a relationship with their customer is the only manner in which brands can communicate now. If not, the ecosystem of Social Media will flesh out the “posers” cough *Skittles* cough…and make sure the brands that aren’t doing it properly are burnt at the stake in the center square.  web2_logos

What Social Media has effectively created (for Brands) is a Truth Machine.  

So why are so many brands panicking, and why are guys like Gary Vaynerchuk flourishing?  Yesterday I met with my good friend Alex Baydin CEO of Performline and we both agreed, that nomatter what business a guy like Gary Vaynerchuk is in, he will be successful.  Why?  Because he is genuine.  I was lucky enough to meet Gary in person and after fawning over him for the first few minutes of our meeting I commented “I love what your about” to which Gary replied “It was good parenting”….WOW.  When was the last time you heard that?

Brands need to get back to zero, start to listen to their consumer, and actually care. They need to understand that whatever they put out there will be read commented on, blogged about, Tweeted, and Re-tweeted, digested, and then either evangelized, or destroyed. 

The Internet is the ULTIMATE Truth Machine

“The Internet is the Ultimate Bullshit Meter” Bob Buch Vice President of Business Development at Digg

April 2, 2009

According to Bob Buch, vice president of business development at Digg, baking chocolate chip cookies is the perfect Metaphor for web publishers to better integrate social media.  I don’t really think it’s the best metaphor, but Bob gave away free cookies at the end of his talk, and for that, and that alone I decided to follow him on Twitter @bobbuch , kidding.  However,  I’m not kidding about the metaphor.  So I’m just going to share the hugely useful tips and tricks he offered throughout his dynamic talk instead of working off his suggested Cookie metaphor.  Forgive my poetic license. digg-logo-heart-lg1

SHARING–  Buch started off by saying that the best advice for a publisher with high quality content is “if you love something, set it free”. Just get it out there, people will come back to your site 100 fold.  He went on to describe that a homepage story on Digg that your reader loves  will send from 20,000 to 200,000 clicks.   A big mistake that a lot of publishers make is that they offer too many options to share the publishers content, so Buch advises that “Less is more”  don’t overdo the sharing options.

img_0048INTEGRATION – Not every publisher can be great at everything so Buch advices to integrate using social sites like Facebook. Leverage their platform for profile photos if that’s not your core competency. Using Facebook Connect Digg publishers have seen registration rise 30-100%,  and engagement up 15-80%

Time Magazine’s Digg widget outperforming their own “top story” selection. People seem to be drawn in by other opinions and feel that the title stories for Time may have some bias due to larger font, and placement in the publication.

PEOPLE– Buch advised that publishers hire someone who is familiar with social media and can decipher the following ROFLCopter, LMAO, PWND, Noob.  If you can’t, than apparently you’re a Noop.  I have to confess I didn’t know what a ROFLCopter was until Buch offered.  He likened this type of reaching out to bringing your people in out from the cold. Listen to your community and don’t only communicate about self serving things. Offer insight about what may effect what you write about. The example of a company doing this well is NPR.  Facebook offers the opportunity for NPR to have a “Public Profiles”. NPR has 330,000 fans, and growing because they let reporters upload photos from the field that maybe won’t get published. To the users this feels authentic, and feels “insider” to the group members.  NPR is leveraging what they’re best at.

AUTHENTICITY – Stay true to your core competency.  Figure out what you do best and be true to that.

I particularly enjoyed that Mr. Buch didn’t dismiss publishers, and emphasized that sites like Digg rely on high quality content. Suffice to say I dug what the guy from Digg was talking about.  Couldn’t resist, sorry.

img_0049 and the controversy thereof

March 26, 2009

Last Monday I was let go from my position as Vice President of Sales and Business Development at a publicly traded company. Tuesday I woke up and decided that I would put the wheels into motion to follow my heart instead of my wallet while looking for my next position.

I wanted to be a part of the web 2.0 social marketing community and began to seek sales roles at companies that fit the description. Where better to start my journey than the kings of social – I love Facebook and saw that they were hiring. I applied for a Sales Director role.

Enthralled by Social Marketing I began to test my knowledge and see if I could leverage the medium to help my search. I dove headfirst into Twitter and began scanning for like minded individuals. I quickly discoverd @jamievaron and her site


I was amazed by her ingenuity. I immediately decided that I would start a “copy cat” site called I purchased the URL and implemented via I was thrilled. I shared the link with my friends and family via (where else).

A day later respectfully declined my application.


Well, not so fast. Personally, I think the whole experience was phenomenal, I also think Jamie is fantastic.  That’s mainly why I’m writing this post = I’m a bit disheartened to have read the following article today titled:

Why is a bad idea

By Heather Huhman

The author notes 6 reasons why. I’d like to defend my position as well as Jamie’s and respond to each point.

1. She’s pigeonholded herself.

Regarding @jamievaron I disagree.  The only companies she may have alienated are most likely companies that she wouldn’t like to work for.  I’m sure the guys at Digg think she’s creative and interesting.

Regarding@cdessi I really disagree. I have a masters degree in Marketing, and I’ve been in online sales for 11 years.  I’m not supposed to be able to produce a site like As I attempt to make the jump into the social marketing space this can only help.

2. She’s coming off desperate.

@jameivaron – I think she comes off as articulate, creative and passionate.  She’s asking for the job of her dreams. I don’t think that’s desperate at all. I admire her for it.  She’s young. It takes some people a lifetime to articulate what it is that they’d love to do.

@cdessi I was 🙂 (sort of)  The economy is horrible, and I need a J O B.  Why not work someplace I love and get there in a creative way? After 7 days being unemployed, luckily I’ve already been given an offer. I’ve been boring my entire career – what the heck. I have a home, a wife, and a baby girl to provide for, I’m sure nobody will fault me for trying.  My personal brand has already been damaged by two lay-offs due to economic conditions in one year.  I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by the exposure.

3. She’s stereotypical Generation Y

@jamievaron – No way. No way at all.  The stereotype does exist, and I’ve experienced in some of the team members I’ve managed.  This young lady has initiative, creativity and a passion.  The stereotype smacks of entitlement.  An entitled stereotypical Generation Y would have been offered a job at Twitter and then would complain to anyone that would listen when Twitter announces they can no longer offer free breakfast because of the economy.  Her site is an omage to Twitter. Not to her.  She’s pledging her undying love and affection for a company that has become a part of her life.  I’d hire a young woman like her in a second.

@cdessi – Hmmm..I’m generation X – I wonder what this says about me?  Maybe that the game has changed, and the normal procedure doesn’t apply?

4. She’s unprofessional

@jamievaron – I’m 34 and I’ve reported to 28 year old millionaires that show up at work in jeans and an Ed Hardy T-shirt. They negotiate million dollar deals via IM.  Professional has been redefined in the Web2.0 world.  If she walked in with a suit on and a brief case she wouldn’t fit into the culture at Twitter. The site is designed for  Micro Bloggin. It isn’t GE.  She’s being appropriately and refreshingly herself.

@cdessi – see above.

5. She’s controversial, and therefore a risk.

@jamevaron She’s part of a generation that has been posting personal photos of themselves on Myspace, facebook, friendster and the like since they were in their teens.  Their whole lives have unfolded online and shared with their entire world.  Considering the people she’s appealing to are her contemporaries I hardly think they’ll find this site controversial.

@cdessi For me – a 34 year  – perhaps this could be a dangerous move.  Again I’ll reference my two lay-offs in less than a year as a liability as well, but sometimes the contrarian is the guy that’s most innovative in the board room.  I’ll take that risk.

6. It’s been done.

@jamievaron – This is way off.  Facebook wasn’t the first social site.  Twitter may be the first micro blogging site, but I’m certain it’s not the last.  To say that @jamievaron’s “angle” is never going to be reproduced is silly.  I’m sure you’ll see even better iterations on her idea. Done with more flare, perhaps to an even more controversial effect.

@cdessi – I’m sure this idea will be replicated (hopefully with better results than mine) 🙂  I’ve seen stories on executives standing on street scorners.  This will be replicated and built upon as the economy continues to worsen and people need to find more creative ways to distinguish themselves.