The Out-Smarts Podcast #7 – Effective Branding with Isabelle Mercier

Our latest podcast tackles the issue of branding with Isabelle Mercier, co-founder of Leapzone Strategies: a Vancouver firm dedicated to working with motivated entrepreneurs to help them realize their version of massive success through business and branding strategies and performance coaching. Prior to Leapzone Strategies, Isabelle headed up an award winning creative firm that specialized in managing brand identity so she really knows a thing or ten about branding.

[audio:https://www.out-smarts.com/Podcast7.mp3]

Mobile Social Networking

Those of you just getting to grips with online social networking take note: the trend has gone mobile. There are a plethora of new mobile social networks out there. It’s no longer good enough simply to update your status next time you get around to going on-line: you should be updating it on the go using your cell phone or similar doohicky. Or should you?

Here’s a scenario for you: you’re walking down Robson Street (Princes Street or Yonge for that matter) and your phone rings to say someone in your social network has updated their status or added a photo. Turns out a colleague you’ve been trying to meet is at a cafe round the corner passing some time. The question is do you pretend to bump into them or to you respond via your mobile network in the hope that they will respond?

BrightKite is one such social network that lets you do exactly this. It’s in beta right now but you can request an invite and if you blog about it, you are likely to get one. Add friends on the network according to where they are or make new friends according to where you are. The system also allows you to upload photos and add comments in a map view from your phone and it piggybacks on the success of Twitter, allowing you to link to the microblog (posting once to both and avoiding texter’s finger).

It’s all very cool but is it simply another distraction in an already overwhelming sea of noise. Like many of these innovations, it will depend on how you use it.

Sadly, BrightKite (the mobile version) isn’t available in Canada yet (or Scotland for that matter) but I signed up for the on-line version nevertheless in an effort to get an understanding of mobile SN. My first post lamented the lack of Canadian availability and the second post was inadvertent – I tried to get support assistance because I couldn’t include my url in my profile (invalid URL indeed!) but instead my post for support was sent out to all. The response was a warning about “crass commercialization”. Thankfully BrightKite staff quickly flagged the issue and, showing great attention to customer service, apologised for their overzealousness but to be honest I was a bit put off – and my URL question still hasn’t been resolved.

I love the BrightKite concept and I am looking forward to trying out the full blown network on my phone one day (when Canadian service materialises). I hope that by then they have worked out all their processes. In the meantime, if you are just getting used to on-line social networking don’t worry, you have some time before it hits the masses.

Are you on BrightKite or using other location-based social networks? Please let us know and share your experiences with us.

Podcasting – Dead or Alive?

A recent Information Week article asks the question – Is podcasting dead?. The article cites that “there is no easy way to sample podcasts without an excessive and irretrievable investment of time” as the reason that podcasting hasn’t taken off.

Let’s look at the numbers to see if podcasting is indeed dying a death. eMarketer estimates that the total US audience for podcasts reached 18.5 million in 2007 and is expected to grow by 251% by 2012. These statistics hardly reflect the death throes of a dying medium but the growth rate isn’t exactly stellar if you compare it to other web 2.0 technologies.Broadcast Yourself

The reason for its slow adoption rate is indeed, as Alexander Wolfe of Information Week suggests, a result of podcast complexity. And this doesn’t only apply to users.

Creating and publishing a podcast is not as seamless or as simple as it should be either. If you’ve read any of my new experiences in podcasting posts you will know of my own frustrations with the technology and I am relatively tech savvy. It seems to me that if you want to podcast you have to be a true propeller head. At this point that is podcasting’s main barrier to entry.

iTunes has tried to streamline the podcast publishing process but even using Garageband to create a podcast on a Mac doesn’t guarantee simple podcast submission.

On the bright side for podcasting, more and more traditional media outlets are using the technology to disseminate audio so that users can listen on the run and users are recognizing the benefits of being able to listen on their terms (coincidentally, one of my first ever blog posts back in 2005 touched on this). Global TV in Vancouver offers video and audio podcasts of its news content.

Podcasting is not dead but its not exactly burgeoning either. As podcasting is promoted more to the mainstream it will become more prevalent (it is slowly gaining popularity, especially in the 35-54 age group) but until producers can create and publish podcasts efficiently and users can access them as easily as turning on the radio, podcasting growth with remain slow.

New Experiences In Podcasting 3

I bet you’ve been dying to find out how I finally managed to get the podcast up last week. It was no easy feat let me tell you….

I got several responses to my request for tips. One very intuitive one was to use iTunes to reduce the size of the file. Choose Preferences and Advanced and Importing (click on custom to set the rate) in iTunes should get you there then Advanced and save as to complete the process. Too simple perhaps – alas the file was too gargantuan.

The final resolution? I ended up using ftp to post the podcast directly on to the website server and then link to it from there. And I claim to not be a propeller head…

Along the way, I also learned that iChat can be very useful for supporting podcasts over the Internet. And received some great tips on how to make the podcast experience better for the user: more juicy stuff for you to look forward to in future New Experiences in Podcasting as I put these suggestions into action (or try to at least).

Internet Networking Hubs

I had the pleasure this evening to present at an event co-hosted by the Professional Women’s Network, the YWCA Mentoring Program and the Downtown Networking Association aimed at introducing mentors and mentees to professional growth strategies to help you realise career goals. My topic: “Building Valuable Business Relationships in the Virtual World”.

As promised, I am going to blog over the next few days about some of the issues I touched on at the event, the first of these being Internet networking hubs.

Internet networking hubs are great forums to expand your business network and extend your reach. Obviously, those you use will depend on what it is you do. For example a photographer would likely use photo sites like Flickr to showcase their experience. Someone in the music industry is likely to benefit more from MySpace than Facebook. And a lawyer might is more likely to join a law forum than a web development forum. It’s up to you which you choose but Internet networking hubs are great places to grow your on line network and in turn your business.