June 16, 2009

Confessions of a green-mama wannabe

I bought an ultra cool new supermarket grocery bag that fits into the supermarket cart while walking the aisles, then turns into a knapsack to help you carry groceries easily.

Now I can preach silently to the masses of shoppers who'll admire my eco-sense... while I fill my reusable bag with processed food and disposable diapers and hope nobody notices (at least it's opaque.)

Of course, I'm all for the environment. And for sustainability. And for renewable energy. And for the myriad of other buzzwords that have sprung up in our language for the past few years.

But I admit I sometimes feel like the grown-up version of that teen who feel's she's saving the world by just "thoroughly eliminating CFCs from her life" - in that case, refraining from buying hairspray & certain brands of mousse (according to what my then-source of wisdom said at the time)

Fast forward a couple of decades and different versions of of bad hairstyles later. I'm a full time marketing consultant, mother, diaper-changer, air-conditioning queen who doesn't have time to breathe. Being green is much more important today, yet much more complicated.

A few examples. What would you do?

  • Dilemma #1: finished conference call at 11:15 PM. Husband rightfully complains that I (well, we) don't have a life. Washing machine is done. Should I bring in the laundry hanging outside from previous day, then hang the new batch on the clothesline, or just spend 10% of that time to push the wash into the dryer? (never mind it's 30 degrees outside in the Israeli Summer)
  • Dilemma # 2: We need a second car so that husband can help dropping off kids in the morning (none of the preschools/schools are within walking distance), and so that I can add at least 1 more hour to my work life.
  1. Should we actually get the car and stop using the organized transport the amazing company he works for puts together as a perk (and as small contribution to carbon-emissions reduction?)
  2. Now that I've said yes to question #1, should I feel guilty I'm not even considering hybrid cars as an option (too expensive here, unknown resell value, unknown problems in the longer term, and too little storage room for strollers and "really important things" like grocery bags)
  • Dilemma 3: Which takes me back to my ultra-cool grocery bag. First, a confession: the real reason I bought that ultra-cool shopping bag was to organize my shopping cart and separate tax-deductible items from the rest of my shopping (don't ask - the only joy of being a freelancer here). But since I'm already using The Good Bag, I will also aim to reduce my consumption of the bad (aka plastic) bags. But then, what would I do when I run out of current stock of bad-bags at home? After all, where will I put all those dirty diapers? Should I just grab a few at the cash register and stuff them inside the lining of my Good Bag?

Guess that my role in saving the world will currently be accomplished by the sole virtue of displaying my use of Good Bags, regardless of the shipment they carry.

June 07, 2009

Question from the audience: should large corporations be twittering?

Someone asked on the DigitalEve list "Should big companies be twittering?" Summary of my response below.

1. Is it a good idea - in a nutshell, yes. But there are numerous things you must take into account. More on that later

2. Are others doing it - oh yes. Mostly from B2C, but lately I've seen lots of B2Bs doing this as well.
This is happening at various levels
- corporate (from the smallest startup to large corporations, here's a find a partial list
- Divisional (e.g. HP IPG division communiques)
- product support (e.g. Comcast, the cable company)
- execs from company tweeting (e.g. Jeff Hayzlett, CMO, Kodak)

3. How about Israel? There are several Israeli companies & organizations tweeting as well, from IBM development in Israel to many B2Cs (and I think I should mention the TLV police as an example of very creative tweeting as well)

4. Are there any downsides? Risks?
Obviously. Before you propose this to the right people in the organization, be prepared to answer the following.

  • You need to understand who's tweeting, and why. Do you want to share exclusive offers on the web (e.g. JetBlue?) Do you want to increase your presence online, share PRs, gain feedback? Solve problems? Monitor what users are saying? Set an agenda? Influence? Experiment?
  • And as obvious as it sounds, for publicly traded companies, there are numerous non-disclosure regulations you/anyone who's tweeting on behalf of the company must obey. There's no reason why SEC cease to apply in social media.
  • You need resources. Sure, setting up a twitter account is free. But to do it properly, you must have a startegy. Invest time and effort to get to know your environment, set a presence, monitor it, and most of all, maintain a relevant presence in twitter. There are also the technical issues, like doing a a little bit of branding, especially around background you use, and training relevant users in your company.
  • My expertise is in competitive intelligence, so obviously I'm interested in Twitter as a source of info . From many perspectives, there's lots to be gained by your company -and your competitors - from the interactions on this medium. What you say, what you don't say, who follows - it's much more complex than it seems at first glance.

The beauty of Twitter is that we're all still experimenting ( Done sensibly, there's much companies can gain. But keep in mind that it's not a spur of the moment thing - it must be aligned to avoid the pitfalls above.

Tweeting up

It's been almost two years since I joined Twitter, so I'm effectively an old-timer. Yes, I have earned the right to get up on a carboard box and shout to the world what I've learned from my experience so far.
(Well, not really. If there's something twitter teaches you, or social media teaches you, is to L-I-S-T-E-N)

Sharing some thoughts on Twitter in honor of tonight's scheduled Tel Aviv Beer Tweetup:

  • Today, my twitter village is about 25% local, and growing. Why? Maybe tweeting time zones. Maybe keywords. Maybe language. I reckon t's a convergence of circles - friends, business, interests, luck.

  • When I first joined, my village consisted of a bunch of social media gurus abroad. Still learning from you guys, just like I'm learning from the newbies. Biggesst lesson out there.

  • Which takes me to a nice link: Interesting how @pistachio values the thought of revisiting her village, too.

  • After years of laughing at me for being too 2.0-bubble minded, I've convinced a large IT company I work for on the absolute necessity of looking at twitter holistically. For competitive intelligence purposes. For customer leads. For marketing. For brand monitoring. And more. "Corporate PR have it on their radar" is not an acceptable answer.

  • Revisiting my Top 10 for Twitter, i find that over a year later (that is, a light-year in web terms) this is still true.

I smile. And tweet this. And now look forward to hear what you think.

March 15, 2009

How not to spend money: freebies

I received a gift consisting of a "deck" of coupons from my gym last week to celebrate International Womens' Day.
Suspicious as I am of freebies, especially during a recession, I immediately began to separate the true freebies from the discounts. Coupons are good, but freebies are harmless. The former force you spend money on things you really weren't planning to use, but the latter really save money, right?
Instead of a free, 45-minute makeup consultation in a local makeup store (plus gift!), I willingly threw away 340 shekels in less than an hour.
I've only myself to blame. I got ripped off by a 22-year-old called Shani (is that her real name or her lipstick shade?) who spent 22 minutes raving over my "incredible skin" and "perfect eye for makeup" while blocking my escape with a chair that was too close, under neon lights too bright and an array of products I hadn't seen since my fairy tale wedding a decade ago. Before wrinkles. Before aliyah. Before kids.
But I let her. I let her bullshit me with her sweet talk. I even stood silent while Shani hovered over the imaginary properties of mineral makeup "it's medical makeup" which I should even "wear to bed a couple of times a week" and the inexisting SPF (and probably other) qualities of the setting spray she used at the beginning of the session, under the makeup.
"Don't you look amazing!"
I nodded. Helpless. Glowing cheeks and twinkling eyelids. Fast, before the baby wakes up in his stroller.
I somewhat regained composure when asked to supply the names and phone numbers of friends to give them the same "gift." It was too late for me, but I could still save my friends.
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
The next morning, I took my old sneakers and jeans and favorite maternity leave sweatshirt (the one that covers stains the best and provides the best coverage while nursing in public) and wore my magical mineral medical makeup to the discount supermarket.
People were either going to admire my makeup, or admire the wise choices I made in my supermarket cart. Penance for my carelessness the previous afternoon.
And for just having set an that appointment for a facial at 50% discount with another coupon from the deck.