Browsing articles tagged with "Twitter Archives | april.holle.blog"
Jun
22

Band of Brothers: Building Offline Community

While there’s a lot to be said about online community and how much value it creates in the web industry, I’d like to focus on offline community for a second.

A great deal of time and money has been spent on building online communities and connecting people from one nation to another, but lately the web as a whole is becoming more ‘local’. People want to know who’s been where we are, what our real friends think, and connect on a daily basis and are using the internet to do this. Then once they’ve checked in on their mobile phone, sent out a twit about tonight’s BBQ, or uploaded the photos from last night’s drunken bash, they go back offline to continue those interactions. The internet is now bringing people together locally quicker than any networking event could have. It’s creating a depth to our online interactions that was previously overlooked, and it’s powerful.

Offline community is often overlooked as just “friends hanging out”, but honestly it’s more than that. Through offline interactions you can build respect, work together quickly, share great ideas on a whiteboard, and also enjoy a good laugh or two. Over the past few months I’ve seen a few new offline communities spring up due to online interactions and I’m loveing what they’re bringing together. I’ve been able to learn more, do more, help others find more business, and make great friends with people I really enjoy.

A few years ago I was at the first meeting of Refresh Phoenix, a local group that wanted to bring the web community together to start working together and make a name for Phoenix as a technology center in the United States.  From Refresh Phoenix sprung some offshoot commuities such as Refocus Phoenix (a local photographic community), Refactor Phoenix (local software developers), and Tiny Army (local illustrators).

Earlier this year I started using Twitter, but really didn’t get addicted to it until SXSW, when several Refresh Phoenix community members started using it as our primary device to stay connected during the conference. Once we got back, I started attending local TweetUps, meet ups of twitter users in Phoenix. Many of us were into social media, but just didn’t know of eachother because we were just different *enough* not to meet up through other means. Once I tapped into the social media crowd I found out about Social Media Club in Phoenix, which is a meetup of people who enjoy discussing social media, how it effects our lives, and how technology is becoming more ingrained in regular social activities.

Over the last year I’ve become part of Drawbackwards, which is one of the companies that Integrum Technologies shares it’s offices with, that includes the likes of Forty Agency and obuweb. Intergrum has since opened up the offices as a co-working space called GangPlank, where anyone can come and work. GangPlank has open house events as well, one of them being Hackmania every Wednesday night where you can come and connect with other webbies to create great applications and work on other side work that you may not have a chance to focus on normally during the week. This time has allowed new ideas to spring up all over the Phoenix valley, and I’ll be sure to show case some of them here in the future.

I’m really enjoying all the friends and real connections I’ve made through the past few years, and it’s always getting better. I really hope that you can connect with you own local community and build a niche for you to grow in within your own backyard.  Bringing people together can help the comunity as a whole and really bring strength to your ideas and interests. Good luck! 🙂

Mar
11

SXSW Day 1 – Respect Panel

Alright so I thought that I’d have time between sessions and parties to really capture everything I’ve done while I was at my first SXSW, unfortunately, that was not the case. However! I took really great notes, so sit back and relax as I tell my story of one girl, one conference and thousands of geeks with great ideas.

I packed, I got into a cab, I stood in security, I boarded, I flew, I landed, what now? Taxi! Hopped in and jetted over to my hotel, while my room wasn’t quite ready I got to check in and have them hold my baggage which was nice. Stayed at the Radisson, which was alright, but next year I’ll definitely be staying at the OMNI, it’s just more… well… COOL. Anyhow, off to the conference!

Walking down to the conference center I’m already spotting people with SXSW badges and gear rolling down the street. The conference center was swarming with geeky peeps all excited and not quite sure what to do or where to go yet. Instantaneously greeted by the Integrumlins hacking in the halls already working on some new inspired SXSW twitter application. I am directed to the check in line, which spans AROUND the corner of the conference center, estimated wait time, 40 minutes. Vaguely reminded of college registration, I step in line and begin my journey to check in. The line moved surprisingly quickly and before I knew it I had a new shiny badge and my very own SXSW bag of swag.

Met back up with the integrum peeps and proceeded to elimnate about 98% of the paper products in the swag bag, poor trees!  Chilled for a bit before the first session, Respect! by featuring team members of Happy Cog and Douglas Bowman of Google.

Respect!

The main premise of the panel was how to gain respect in our careers, from our colleagues and our clients, by developing concepts on how we can translate what we do in a way they can understand and respect it, as well as interpreting the value of what we do.

The Client

The important message here is getting the client to understand what exactly goes into the process of great web design. As Jason Santa Maria put it, “[It’s] difficult to respect something I don’t understand, you have to get what went into it to respect it.”  To have the client get what gets into it, you have to involve them early, letting the client draw and express what they really would like to get out of the website and giving them ownership of ideas, making them part of the process of initial strategy.

Having all the right research of what the client really needs is important. Happy Cog conducts extensive client research, going into their client’s office and really discussing with everyone regarding what they really need. “It’s the tipping point when you’re in individual meetings and they go to shut the door, you know they’re going to open up to you and trust you”, Liz Danzico stated, “creating an understanding with them that they find valuable.” If you feel you usually don’t have time to really get to know the client and their needs, start to make time within your proposals.

Another way you can gain client respect for you and the work you do is to not nickel and dime them on small changes and corrections. It’s awesome that the client wants to make it perfect, just make sure you’re consulting them through the process.

Also, when you help clients through the process remind them of the WHOLE process and what they’re doing right now at this very step. We sometimes forget that clients don’t have the website on their minds at all times, they have other business issues to worry about as well, how the company is doing, if they have to hire or fire, what about those health benefits their employees want? So remember that while their website might be forefront in your mind, they have other things going on and they need you to remind them what they’re doing in the web design process and why it’s important to the website.

Also be aware of how web savvy your client is. If they’re pretty good at knowing the small stuff, don’t be lazy, use that to your advantage by being able to teach and push their knowledge farther regarding some of the more advanced techniques that are involved. Remember, understanding is the key to respect.

Copy is one thing, visual representation can be the sticking point in a client relationship. “Visual representation is VERY personal” Jeff mentioned. Happy Cog gave us some solutions on how to get over this extreme hurdle in the relationship unscathed by giving the client two completely seperate solutions to their problems offering them up as “this says this about you, that says that about you” Jeffrey Zeldman recommended. Jason Santa Maria suggested “have the client focus on the problems rather than solutions” since the solutions are your specialty and your clients problems are their specialty. This gives the client a feeling that you’re holding the keys and they have to consult you on “the best way” to achieve a solution.

Awards

Jeffrey raised the question regarding awards and whether awards really  provide any metric to our clients regarding how good we are at our jobs. The panel concluded that while awards may have some impact as a metric on how clients respect you, that it’s both small and perhaps deceptive since there are so many awards out there that don’t really attest to great web design at all.

Within the Team

Within your team it’s important to have a certain amount of respect as well. To do this the panelists suggested to make sure everyone on the team was somewhat cross trained or familiar with what each staff member contributes to the project and how their job is also vital to the project completion and success. As said before, it’s hard to respect something your teammates may not fully understand.

Other Interesting Thoughts

I found that during the course of this years conference a reoccuring theme appeared with content collection and creation, lots of shops are demanding content be provided before the design process ever begins, which is great because we’re shifting focus from the aesthetics to the real reason the web began in the first place, CONTENT!

Happy Cog team members also stressed the importance of good content, they make actual editorial documents regarding the voice and use of the content throughout the site to really define and bring life to the brand. Also, the content needs to really be informative, as Jeffrey cautioned, “Sites [are] reading too marketing and not enough web.”

Overall a very interesting session and a great way to start off the conference. I’ll be posting more take aways from more sessions as I have the time today and tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled. 🙂 Now I have to hop in the shower for the last day of exciting SXSW action!

Feb
6

Refresh Recap: Demo Night

Great Refresh meeting last night over at Inza Coffee. There were about 10 to 15 5 minute demos of new and exciting web projects coming out of Phoenix. Some of the highlights were:

Show in a Box – If you’re interested in starting a video blog, but you’re not technically savvy, check out Show in a Box, a wordpress based starter kit that comes with everything you need to start your very own vlog.

Square Mile Web – Ever want to see a square mile of interesting user generated photographs? Look no further than Square Mile Web, where you can broadcast your images, tag and rate them.

DurtBagz – If you need a new satchel and you have an affinity for street signs check out DurtBagz.

My Community Board – Want to get to know your neighbors, using My Community Board you can. You can also post classifieds to get rid of that old barbecue, post the new HOA regulations documents, and more.

Crowd Box – Ever wish you could revisit that great presentation you saw at that last conference? Crowd box offers conferences the ability to create social networks for their attendees and to make videos of the presentations.

Read Phoenix – Want to know what Phoenix is all about? look no further than the blogs of Phoenix. Showcasing blogs from all over the metro area you can find someone you’re bound to get along with.

XID Card – Wish you knew all the social networking sites your friends are involved in? Now you can get the skinny on where your people are at and what they’re into using XID card.

Neh 🙁 Meh 😐 Yeh 🙂 – Ever wonder if you’re just having a bad day or if your life is perpetually unhappy? Now you can track your moods on Neh Meh Yeh! Each day you can select one of three happiness faces and track whether or not you’re really in a bad mood all the time. Now if only they could track it by hour…

Twitter Sign – Ever twitter when you see an awesome sign? Now start your post with sign: and it will show up on Twitter Sign.

After HalloweenSteam Crow Press is at it again! Amazing illustrator Daniel Davis graces the world with his third book, After Halloween. What’s it about? Why.. it’s about what monsters do for careers… after Halloween! Also, if you’re an illustrator, check out the new illustrators group Daniel Davis is starting called, Tiny Army.

Jan
14

Tweet Up AZ!

Had a great time this weekend at a tweetupAZ meetup. Basically a lot of us twitter addicted peoples get together in one common area to interface offline and in more than 140 characters. This was the second TweetUpAZ meeting I believe, the first at a coffee house, and this one at Tempe Marketplace. It’s so interesting the different types of people who use the same types of technologies. While there were a fair amount of webbies there, there were also business folk, video bloggers, startup gurus, and a billion other personas. I made a lot of great connections there and really got to put a face with a screenname of some of the local people I’ve been following.

However, there is a bit of weirdness to it all, I’ve always been a pretty transparent person, I like letting everyone know what I’m up to so they can join the fun. But I’ll admit it was weird to have complete strangers come up and congradulate me on my recent engagement. How did they know? Because I twittered it. But does it bother me? Not in the slightest.

I often wonder if I should ever censor myself, but when I honestly think about it, why would I want to? I’ll always remember my 12th grade English instructor, “If you write, you obviously want someone to read it, either subconsciously or consciously. So if there really was anything I wanted to hide from everyone, I would just keep it to myself. If I feel like sharing, I evidently want to have some one pay attention to it.

So if you’re interested in hearing what others are tweeting about in AZ, feel free to follow me and all my friends. If you want to participate in the next TweetUpAZ check out tweetupaz.com.

Dec
9

THE Brian Shaler

Brian Shaler

So I got to sit down with Brian Shaler yesterday during the Phoenix BarCamp and really pick his brain regarding his recent boost in popularity on the net.

I’ve been on a big personal branding kick and I’m trying to talk to anyone who’s someone to ask them how they “did it”. Not necessarily to find the best way “in” but to be able to at least assess my possibilities and think of it another way. So when I heard Brian was getting some SERIOUS digg attention and had over 6k followers on Twitter… I started to wonder if he was my next brain-sucking victim in the quest to become immoral. Sounds kinda creepy when I put it that way eh?

Anyhow, when Chuck Reynolds and I finally hog tied him and tossed him into the back of the van, after HOURS of threating to toss him into a vat of scorpions, THE Brian Shaler gave up his secret to his AMAZING popularity rise.

When he first found Twitter, he realized the growth potential of seeding the popularity contest that is viral marketing. How you ask? It’s brilliant really. You follow people… doesn’t matter who really, the more active the better I suppose. Lets say you start following… 3 thousand people… then all the sudden, even HALF of those people return the favor by following you. You instantly have a captured 1,500 user audience in which to broadcast yourself and things you want to become known. Once you have a decent size user audience, communication back and forth can continue the viral campaign, since every @brianshaler twitter statement someone makes is broadcast to all the users twitter followers as well, and these people start to ask, who is this person they’re talking to? Perhaps they too will start following you. All the sudden you have over 6 thousand twitter followers just like Brian Shaler.

He uses this captured market as a launching pad for things to become viral and tracks every link he sends out to this base group so that he can track the SEO effects of his experiment in viral activity. So, lets say… he has a site that he wants to promote. He sends out the link to his twitter followers saying, “Hey check this really cool thing out…”. Because of his extensive research on the SEO traffic produced by his Twittering alone, he knows that he can pretty much rely on about 100-300 click throughs from his Twitter followers alone. So perhaps his twitter followers actually think that this thing that he has sent them is a great idea, so they send it to a friend, two friends or three friends. The viral exponential factor already starts working its magic… but lets say that someone submits it to StumbleUpon or Digg, and the their own viral patterns start to build on top of this small 100-300 base click throughs. Suddenly you have created a mountain out of an ant hill.

The craziest thing about this, is that due to the way the internet naturally is a sharing device, people who will never ever meet Brian are now his number one fan. During the BarCamp we were recording and streaming the presentations. A Brian Shaler follower from Germany found out about the web broadcast and came into the web chat, this follower actually asked Brian to tell his friend (who was also a Shaler follower) that he had flown to Phoenix and had actually hung out with Brian. Crazy eh? Off of merely creating a viral platform to toss things out on, Brian has actually become internationally famous.

Besides creating that viral base for yourself, Brian also seriously recommended building your own brand of yourself. As cocky as this may seem, it really helps promote the idea of “he is someone” much like personalities such as Oprah or Michael Jordan. Then using this identity for everything that you toss out into the sea of the internet, or even in real life. Brian actually has business cards that just say “Brian Shaler” on them… on both sides, nothing else. Why? He says, “If you can’t contact me in 30 seconds using the information on that card, don’t contact me.” This very small piece of printed material just adds to the effect that Brian really is someone you should already know of.

Brian also chalks up his fame to some of the side projects he’s put effort into in the past, and believes that it’s better to have many sites to your brand with lower search rankings than one site with a high page rank. Why? Because different people have different interests and you can reach a larger, broader audience. He has recently broken out his blog from his personal portfolio site, widening his name sake that much more. But you can really see this effect in his creation crappygraphs.com. The whole site’s premise is crappy graphs that really don’t display accurate data at all, but more so a point. After creating only 20 crappy graphs, he decided to create a flash application on the site that allowed users to create their own crappy graphs and submit them to the site. After ten hours of intense manual labor over the course of one weekend, he now gave his crappy graph followers a way to really express themselves…crappily graphically. Crappy Graphs now has over a thousand graphs… why? Because of user submissions. These user submissions have been Dugg, StumbledUpon, and spread throughout the viral universe, and how did Brian accomplish this? By creating one, 10 hour application that allowed his users to express themselves.

So while the rest of us are trying to figure out the best way to market some silly viral ad campaign, Brian will be tossing links out into his twitter feed and reaping the click throughs, Diggs, and Stumbles.

** I was forced against my will to name the following links… part of the verbal agreement to be talked to by THE Brian Shaler. But do check them out anyhow. 😉 You’re welcome Brian. **

For those of you who DON’T know you Brian Shaler is, check out his blog, his personal portfolio site, his famous twitter account (6k followers and counting), the ShalerJump and of course Crappy Graphs.

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

What People Are Saying…