The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

This summer, I started writing a book called The Rule of Thumbs. Named after a blog post that I wrote ten months ago, the book covers the research that I’ve been conducting since I wrote Read This First.

While writing, I came across an amazing success story that demonstrated some of the book’s most important principles. The story involves a young musician by the name of Julia Nunes, who used social media to raise $78,000 US in thirty days–for her yet-to-be-recorded CD!

The story demonstrated so many of the book’s concepts that I wanted to release a case study immediately. The result is the following e-book: The Rule of Thumbs.

Please feel free to download a copy in your favorite electronic format: PDF, Kindle, iPad, or EPUB. The e-book is free and requires no annoying sign-up shenanigans.

Please let me know what you think of it!

Jan 6, 2010

An unfortunate side effect of working in a fast moving industry is that we tend to develop the attention spans of gnats.  We’re always searching for the next best thing and can’t wait to get our hands on the latest gadget. Those of us in social media love the social media story du jour, where we discuss an event ad nauseum, right up until the next shiny object lures our attention to the next story to dogpile onto.

For example, take a look at the graph above that depicts our “interest” (Google Insights) in three recent social media stories: Motrin (for the “Motrin Moms” story), “Dominos Youtube” (for the pizza tampering story), and “United Breaks Guitars” (for the customer support story). Note how our interest in these stories peaks, then evaporates almost as quickly as it originally condensed.

This frenetic behavior makes us very good at transient analysis, studying things as they are happening, but it also comes with a cost. If we are in a state of constant motion, jumping from story to story, we’ll never gather enough data to see trends. And without the ability to see trends, we are blind to potential lessons. Put another way, if we are not mining the data, we’re guaranteed to never strike business gold.

That’s why I have a personal goal to release an e-book every six months. The goal gives me “permission” to take the time necessary to really sink my teeth into a story. It gives me an excuse to enjoy my guilty pleasure of wading through data, playing with spreadsheets, and creating cool-looking charts and graphs:-) But more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to create a piece of timeless content that can help not only those who read it today, but also those who read it tomorrow, next week, or next year.

The story that I decided to sink my teeth into for this e-book was the “United Breaks Guitars” story, where a Canadian musician took on one of the world’s largest airlines and proved that “the song in mightier than corporate red tape.” The Musician and the Manufacturer is a story about two businesses, bound together by their creative uses of online video. Instead of focusing on the sensational public relations aspects of the story (which has been written about extensively) I wanted to learn how online video effected each business. I wanted to understand their decision processes, what they expected, and what actually happened. During my research, I found some things that I could explain, discovered others that I couldn’t, yet still came away with 10 lessons that any business should consider before hitting that red button on their video recorder.

Please feel free to download The Musician and the Manufacturer (no registration required) and pass it along to anyone who is considering using online video.


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On October 22, 2008, I was sitting in a popular session at the MarketingProfs Digital Mixer, hosted by the legendary CC Chapman. CC’s topic focused on the corporate use of online video — something I recapped in a cleverly-named post: CC Chapman on Online Video 🙂

At the end of the session, a woman asked how a pharmaceutical company like the one she worked for could use online video. She understood how it could be used for business-to-consumer applications. She understood how companies who sold business-to-business could use it. Her question was how to use video in an industry that was regulated by the Food and Drug administration (FDA).

As a New Media Evangelist who helps companies tell their stories online, I run into this question constantly. If it’s not the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry, it’s FINRA for the financial industry, or the FTC for publicly traded companies.

So I went on a quest. My goal was to find a company who works in a regulated industry yet was using New/Social Media successfully. What I found was more than I could have expected.

I found Johnson & Johnson, a 123 year old, $64 billion holding company that had not only been using YouTube successfully, but that it had two blogs, Kilmer House and JNJ BTW, a Twitter account, and was experimenting with a Facebook Group. And as I studied the series of events that transpired to enable this success, I stumbled upon a road map that any company can use to develop its Social Media strategy.

Here I present the results of my research in my latest e-book:

Johnson & Johnson Does New Media

The e-book is licensed under Creative Commons, so please feel free to pass it around!

Filed under: Case Studies

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