Marketing Monday

Interview With Internet Book Promoter Alexis James

I ‘met’ Alexis online as someone promoting books on behalf of authors. My question was “Wow, you can actually make money helping authors promote books online?” Alexis agreed to elaborate for me and here are some of her answers about how she makes it work.

Promoting a book anytime soon, or wonder how social media types make money online? Read on.

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You Tell Me: Legitimate Online Fundraising

So I got an email today from my friend Susan asking if I knew anything about online fundraising for people in need. Here’s the scenario:

My cousin recently gave birth to her first child 11 months early which is scary, but what’s even scarier is that there are lots of health complications, her job isn’t great, if she doesn’t go back to work in 2 weeks (they’ve been with the kid in intensive care for a few weeks now) she loses her health insurance, her husband’s job got “downsized” and they’re almost finished building their house that her husband designed and built with his parent’s help. They’ve been married 1 year. So…their bills are stacking up, they may lose their house soon, and all of us in the family are feeling mighty helpless about the whole thing. How to help? Like many situations, money would solve a lot.

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A Video On The Importance Of The Internet

Nancy Marshall, Maine PR Maven, posted this video a month or so ago on her blog and I think it’s fantastic. It’s a little long but it’s five minutes well spent that’ll blow your mind. Anyone who thinks social media and technology is irrelavent to them, check it out!

 

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Wednesday Spotlight With Multimedia Artist Randy Devost

There are not many people you can say you've been friends with for over 15 years, especially when you are in your mid twenties. I've known Randy since we were 14. He's always been an artist and our lives have always intersected in interesting ways. Randy is, like me, super into online media (his thesis is on the subject) and I really wanted to interview him for this last Holy Technology! post. I always learn something from Randy Devost.

1. How many hours a day do you spend online? What online pursuit seems to take up the most of your time?

Randy-devost I think if someone was secretly following me around during the day they would see that I'm online an average of 3 or 4 hours a day. I think that is important because personally I feel like I'm online ALL the time. In reality, I'm often on the go and don't own a mobile device. The online pursuit that takes up most of my time would have to be emails and messaging people. The other would be keeping up with culture, news and other info through video, blog, and other info sharing devices and services.
 
2. What are three websites you couldn't live without (professionally)?

Gmail (communication), Google Calendar (coordination), and perhaps LinkedIn (networking)



3. What are three websites you couldn't live without (personally)?

Versiontracker.com (software info), Torrentz.com (file sharing), Facebook.com (what's this?)

4. You live in Quebec yet it seems in my online travels that most websites I stumble upon are in English. Do you think the internet and in particular social media are as accessible to people who speak little or no English?

I think what your asking is called "localization" or making websites multilingual. Personally, I do think that the U.S. is the leader in website development. I use an interesting Firefox add-on called "Flagfox" that allows me to see where a website is coming from. 90 percent of the time a little U.S. flag appears. However, all the major websites that have become extremely popular do cater to non-English speakers. Often, these websites are designed to automatically recognize the user's IP address and set the language settings. I think Americans don't always realize this because they constantly swim in a pool of English-based media generated from within their own country. I work directly in the language industry and you would be flabbergasted by the efforts made to make websites and applications multilingual. In my opinion, its absolutely necessary and has to be considered if companies hope to stay afloat in today's international market.

5. As an artist who works with digital images, do you think artists like yourself should get credit for these images? I guess maybe the right question would be are digital photographs art?

I do think digital photographs can be art. I think photography can be art too. Although, this is an easy thing for me to say. Artists have spent lifetimes trying to prove that photography and now digital photography can be art. It's easy for me to just glean their efforts. Many artists and professionals I studied with at the Maryland Institute College of art were very wrapped up in this discursive subject. They were very passionate and almost obsessed with the debate of the digital image.

Personally, as an artist I'm a bit of a heavy-handed deconstructionist. Video, film, photography, screen media, projections… its all light to me! I enjoy thinking about photography's relation to light and how that links it to all kinds of crazy fields people wouldn't relate. For example, in neurological science they are studying how light effects the brain and our emotions. They are also looking at how exactly our eyes see. In media theory there is something about light being pure information. These types of thoughts really illuminate me as an artist.

What doesn't are more Marxist/economic concerns in art theory. Perhaps I'm just bitter and socially unvalidated, but to me copyright and authorship are the concerns of capitalists. We don't own light, the universe does. I view the concerns of copyright and authorship in a much less noble manner than lets say a poet whose preoccupations grapple with the vast nature of the human spirit.

I think the avant-garde digital photographers of today SHOULD craft their work for appropriation. The more the photos can be taken, altered and used on a massive scale the better in my opinion. It's the neo-tribal online colaborative mentality of today. Come on, get with it. 

6. How has online culture influenced you as an artist? As a member of society?

I think the internet has always existed as a media that allows for anonymous interaction with other people who share common interests and beliefs. It is a very liberating and important media that is continuing to transform the way our culture interacts meaningfully with eachother. I particularly enjoy the aspects of group think and collective intelligence that has emerged out of it. Again, I think there is a new society forming online and those who are vested in this may feel less attached to the old ideas of being born into a certain nationality or culture.

7. I'd love to hear about some tech-related projects you're working on.

The only thing probably worth mentioning is that I'm doing a master's thesis on how and why we go about collecting information online through Social Bookmarking Services (bookmarks, favorites, etc.).

8. I like to give people I interview a chance to ask themselves a question they wish I would have asked and then answer it. Feel free….

What's your three favorite RSS feeds right now? Lolcats photos, Chris Crocker videos, and Breaking Even posts. 😉

I didn't pay him to say that last one, I swear!

How Friendly Do You Get Online?

The second post of my Holy Technology! series this week only.

I'm always happy when I hear from far-flung friends and they say that visiting my blog is like talking to me. They feel they are able to keep up with my life through it, which is also really nice to hear. I like that my blog is something that people who know me or don't know me can enjoy and that it does seem really personal. You'd think my life is quite an open book right? Well, not exactly.

Here are some things I never write about, which you may or may not have noticed before:

1) My job. Sure I work at a newspaper website but I bet you would be hard pressed to think of anything else you know about it. Interactions with coworkers, clients, and even my feelings about my job are all privately held, and rightly so. The same goes for my online business.

2) My friends. All friends and photos of friends on this blog are used with their permission only. I respect people's right to privacy and just because I live a public life doesn't make my friend's lives automatically public. This is why sometimes only initials are mentioned.

3) My romantic life. Details about my relationships are my business only. I did mention moving out of my boyfriend's house six months ago because that really shifted my personal finances (which is the general subject of this blog). As a single person maintaining a professional online presence, I am barely comfortable discussing this subject with my friends and family, let alone the world.



4) Negativity. Other then an occasional post last year about dealing with death (which I still struggle with), you don't hear about my personal problems on this blog. We all have issues to deal with and those are for conversations with friends or a paid shrink.

That said, I have used this blog to talk a bit about death and mental health because I think our culture is so insular about both these subjects. I hope I have shown that dealing with death is an ongoing process and that perfectly sane people can seek mental help.

5) The Grandmother-Boss Rule. Anything I'm not sure of posting, I think of my grandmother and my boss reading it. If it passes both tests, I put it online.

So while my communication style is open, there are some things that I draw the line at talking about.
 
What lines do you draw?

Skittles: Cutting Edge Marketing or Lame Stunt For Attention?

Fruit-skittles-loose 

The first post of my Holy Technology series this week only!

I heard on one my favorite blogs Nerve's Scanner that Skittles has fully jumped on board with this whole social networking thing. On the "chatter" portion of their website for example, there is a feed that displays every time someone twitters (or tweets) with the word "skittles" in it. (To get past liabilities of potentially racy content, you have to enter your birthdate and aknowledge Skittles' lack of responsibility for content before entering the website.)



I mean the landing page for skittles.com is a Wikipedia page. At first I thought I typed it wrong but then I realized that they did this on purpose. Interesting. You can read all the social networking details here.

So on one hand it's a great idea. Skittles gets a bunch of overly connected people like myself to mention this on blogs and websites and gets me to tweet to my network of followers. But aside from being an interesting concept…Will anyone visit the site more than once? Will this translate into increased sales or is this just a brand building project for Skittles? And is anyone even going to be talking about this next week?

It's certainly hard to tell. Mars is a privately held company so we can't look at the stock ticker to see if Skittle's value has gone up or down recently. Evidence would be purely anecdotal.

So what do you think of this marketing plan? Great idea or just something that'll pass? As socially networked as I am, I find myself moderately annoyed with this campaign.

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