Being “of” the Web

I just came across a very telling speech delivered to the Wharton School of Business’s “Future of Publishing” conference by Martin Nisenholtz, the New York Times’s senior VP for digital operations.

Obviously, Nisenholtz’s talk is directed at the publishing industry and the many challenges its facing as readers transition from paper to online. But what he’s recognized is relevant across the board for all industries and organizations seeking success in digital media. Here are just some of the most salient points. You can read the entire speech on

1. There’s a need for engagement across the web. It’s the emotional connection that is essential and that transcends technology.

2. There are four “shifts” taking place among users today, as described by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg:

The shift from anonymity to real identity.

The shift from pull to push.

The shift from temporal to permanent connections.

The shift was the “what” to the “who.”

Identify, says Nisenholtz, is the fundamental building block for engagement, and he thinks that’s been proven by Facebook.

3. We must transform being being on the web to being of the web. It’s not about broadcasting; it’s about knowledge sharing and building emotional connections.  That, again, goes back to identity.

4. The new information ecology means “The boundaries of your resources (read “site”) become liquid, public, shared.” He quotes David Reed on startup Betaworks’ About page and believes that this captures the fundamental change of increasing engagement — “like holding water in your hands.” It’s still to be figured out how information can be adapted to meet this essential truth of digital media, but it’s what Nisenholtz believes is a critical element of engagement.

Read the speech and read it again. These are huge challenges that The New York Times and all publishers face, especially when it comes to monetizing what we’ve come to accept as our free lunch. But, this is also hugely relevant to marketers who are attempting to capture the attention of the masses for their brands, no matter the industry. Seeing social media platforms as yet another broadcast opportunity is a hugely mistaken mindset. It’s time to be “of” the web once and for all.

Two New Social Media Reports Reveal Twitter Impact on Marketing

Edison Research has just released a new report on Twitter Usage in America 2010 and the results are fascinating for the discrepancy between awareness of this social media platform and actual usage.

Clearly, American awareness has exploded in just two years, from 5 percent in 2008 to 87% in 2010. That’s from preteens aged 12 all the way to seniors–basically a vast swath of the populace. However, Twitter lags behind Facebook in usage. Only 7 percent of Americans (17 million people) actively use Twitter, while 41 percent maintain an active Facebook profile.

Edison Research

The study shows that the majority of Twitter users are “lurkers,” who passively following and read updates but don’t contribute updates of their own. Interestingly, most regular Twitter users (70 percent) do post status updates to other social networking platforms–the researchers assume Facebook–so it’s not a fear of creating content so much as how Twitter is used compared with Facebook. In fact, Twitter users are far more frequent users of all social networking sites and services. Forty-four percent of monthly Twitter users use social networking sites and services several times a day; 21 percent use these sites nearly every day. However, just under half of regular users–47 percent– post status updates to Twitter. So, is Twitter more of a broadcast medium compared to other platforms?

Twitter users are early adopters compared with the general population. Nineteen percent are among those who are the first to buy or try new products while the number of the total population age 12 and older is only 10 percent. Add that to the 25 percent who buy or try new products before others, compared to 12 percent of the general population and you have an compelling group to market to.

Twitter users are also quite comfortable accessing social networking services via mobile phone. Researchers found that nearly two-thirds of active Twitter users access social networking sites with a mobile phone.

Edison Research

Intriguingly, while active Twitter usage is far behind Facebook, another study, “2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” by Social Media Examiner, reports that Twitter is the top social media tool/site used by marketers, just edging out Facebook 88% to 87%.

Among those most experienced in using social media, however, almost all (96 percent) were using Twitter, while 91 percent were on Facebook and 89 percent use LinkedIn, according to

Here’s why (and we’re back to the Edison Research report): ??51 percent of active Twitter users follow companies, brands, or products on social networks. In fact, the data show that the percentage of Twitter users who follow brands is more than three times higher than similar behavior by social media users in general. Yes, people are seeking opinions about companies, products, and services, but they’re also using this platform to provide their own opinions. Monthly Twitter users are using Twitter to learn about products and services (42 percent), provide opinions about them (41 percent), ask for opinions about them (31 percent), look for discounts or sales (28 percent), purchase products or services (21 percent), and–pay attention brands–seek customer support (19 percent).

And, well, Twitter users tend to live in higher-income households.

By the way, the Social Media Examiner report notes that usage of social video marketing–YouTube and the like–is one of the biggest distinguishing factors between experienced and less experienced marketers. Nearly two-thirds of the most experienced respondents said they use video, while only 42 percent of marketers with limited experience in social media use social video. The marketers newest to social media head for Facebook and are the least likely in general to leverage social media.

Actually, what’s most fascinating about this particular study is the social media experience level of SMB marketers. Fewer than one-third told Social Media Examiner that they were among the most experienced, although that is up from 23 percent in 2009.

For those of us who have been working with businesses on social media strategies, it’s heartening to see that close to a third are now pretty experienced and that none of the respondents are dismissing it any longer. But with close to two-thirds of the respondents at it for only a few months or less, there’s a huge gap between what they deliver and the expectations of an experienced social media user population, particularly among Twitter users. Clearly, it’s time for marketers to get up to speed.

IABC “Mining the Blogosphere” Panel

Last week I participated on a wonderful panel on blogging for the San Diego chapter of IABC. My colleagues on the panel were Dr. Michael Mandell, a clinical and corporate psychologist in private practice whose blog, Dr. San Diego, can be found each week on the San Diego Magazine website, on and; Stacey Ross, founder of SD Bargain Mama, and Denise Scatena, co-founder and co-editor of SoCal PR Blog, a resource to support Southern California PR practitioners to stay in-tune with the ever-changing marketplace, and a principal owner of Scatena Daniels Communications.

Thanks to Angie Roberts for inviting me and organizing such a great group of people. Each is doing something different so we have a lot to learn from one another.

The chapter has posted the video of the hour-long panel and you can watch it here:

What’s New? Lots!

It’s been frantic around here–all good stuff–but little time to pull rabbits out of hats in terms of writing on this page. But, I have some updates:

  • I’ll be on the KPBS radio show These Days on Tuesday, April 20 from 10 to 11 a.m. to talk about vegetarian food with chefs Trey Foshee and Deborah Schneider. I’ve been collecting a number of interesting products that I think people will enjoy when going meatless. Even if you’re not vegetarian (I’m a happy omnivore), eating less animal protein is good for the planet and your health. There are lots of wonderful dishes you can eat that have nothing to do with alfalfa sprouts or tofu. So, listen in on 89.5 FM in San Diego or online at
  • Later that afternoon I’ll be visiting with Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering. We’ll be taping a video on sustainable seafood that will go up on the Cooks Confab site in anticipation of Sustainable Seafood Week in June. I just finished writing a long story about this topic for Edible San Diego, which will be published in their summer issue that will be out on June 1.
  • On Wednesday, April 21, I’ll be participating on an IABC-San Diego panel discussion on blogging. With me on the panel will be Dr. Michael Mantell (Dr. San Diego), Stacey Ross (SD Bargain Mama), and Denise Scatena (SoCal PR Blog). I’ll be talking about my experiences with both San Diego Foodstuff and blogging on behalf of clients. If you’re an IABC-San Diego chapter member, I hope you’ll attend and come up and say hi.
  • On April 28, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., I’ll be working hard at Eat.Drink.Read.! This will be a great event at Sushi Performance & Visual Art to raise funds for the San Diego Council on Literacy. I put together the restaurants that will be cooking up a storm: Starlite, Urban Solace, Suite & Tender, Cafe Sevilla, Ono Sushi, and the Marine Room, with Cafe Moto providing coffee and teas and other beverages. The dishes they prepare will be paired with lovely wines and local craft beers from Stone Brewing. Some tickets are still available and can be purchased online.
  • Finally, I’ve put together an actual committee to launch the 2010 San Diego Food Bank Food 4 Kids Backpack Program fundraiser. Instead of competing again with the many other holiday fundraisers in December, we decided to move our fundraiser to the summer, concluding at the end of August at an event at the Little Italy Farmers Mercato. This will also allow more schools and kids to be enrolled in this program–which feeds kids on weekends when they can’t access school meals–before the school year begins. If you would like to get involved, please leave your contact information below. We’d love to get restaurants and food vendors to contribute. And, most of all, we’d love this to be a family and even neighborhood project, as it was for many folks last winter. And, stay tuned. I’ll be setting up a Food 4 Kids Backpack Program Facebook fan page (that’s a mouthful!). I hope you’ll become a fan and help get out the message as we support this great program.

Social Media: 3 Minds. 10 Questions.

Okay, we know you have far more than 10 questions. But, on Jan. 27, three of us — SDSU’s Director of Media Relations and New Media, Greg Block, Casey DeLorme of GetSpine Communications, and I — will be answering whatever’s on your mind regarding social media. In one hour.

Now  these are some questions we think you want answered, but if not, please chime in with your own when you RSVP. We’ll refine them by the luncheon.

1.  To each panelist: If you came away from today’s session having learned only one thing, what would you want it to be?
2.  What efficiencies can we realize using social media that can help lessen our workload?
3.  Where should we start? (How do we prioritize the various platforms?)
4.  What if someone publicly criticizes us?
5.  Who should be in charge? (Can’t we just have the intern do it… they seem to be pretty good with computers?)
6.  How does social media relate to our traditional efforts?
7.  How do we engage in and manage all the conversations?
8.  How do we measure ROI?
9. What are the demographics of social media?
10. How do we figure out what to say/decide what to share?
11. How do we formulate social media policies for our employees?
12. Is it possible (and worthwhile) to create effective business-to-business social media programs or are they really better suited to B-to-C efforts?

The lunch program, Social Media: 3 Minds. 10 Questions. is being offered by PRSA’s San Diego chapter at Wolfgang Puck’s Jai restaurant in UCSD from 11:30 to 1:15.

Today is the deadline for registration so go to the PRSA website to sign up.

My Top 10 Resources for Keeping Up with Social Media

Clearly social media is becoming much more establishment among smart businesses. But, it’s not just a matter of setting up accounts on Facebook and Twitter. You need to know what’s developing, what are the best practices, what are the trends. No matter what your industry, the organizations that are making the best use of social media are those that are turning the most up-to-date knowledge into strategy.

Everyone has their favorites, but here are my must reads. Sign up for their newsletters or feeds so you don’t have to go chasing around the web to keep up with them.

  1. Mashable: The Social Media Guide. This website is filled with riches. You can learn about new iPhone apps and Facebook security measures, how to create a successful social media contest, and the latest and coolest tips for tweeting. And, you can get all this info delivered to your email box, thanks to their daily newsletter.
  2. Ad Age Daily News. Most of the pieces fed by this newsletter into my mailbox are irrelevant to what I do, but I subscribe anyway because at least once a week there’s a gem that deserves my attention. In a recent issue, it was a piece called “The Official Social Media and Mobile Glossary of 2010.” You just never know what will click and it’s worth my time to skim the newsletter to see if that gem has surfaced.
  3. SmartBrief on Social Media. covers a number of industries and topics. Social Media is one of them. The editors scour the web to find stories that reflect the best practices of an industry, in this case social media. In a recent issue, there was a piece on how Starbucks brews social-media success, how Web consumers become offline brand advocates, and getting started with your social strategy. These digests come daily and are sourced from publications like Inc., eMarketer, and
  4. Convince and Convert Blog. Jay Baer’s brilliant blog is smart, often funny, and always relevant. Baer is a social media consultant, coach, and speaker. Sometimes his blog posts hit on a salient topic, like how humble companies who make mistakes end up being lauded for their honesty, or he’ll post a transcript of a Twitter interview with a prominent social media practitioner, like Trey Pennington. Whatever he does, you’ll end up learning something.
  5. ProBlogger Blog Tips. Does your company have a blog or want to launch one? While blogger Darren Rowse tends to focus on individuals looking to monetize a blog, his tips, strategies, and insights are powerful and worth absorbing. He addresses both the broad and the mundane—how to develop compelling topics that will draw in readers and literally how to find the time to write consistently and frequently.  Dig in.
  6. The eMarketer Daily. eMarketer pulls together articles and blog posts that give you a perspective on the latest trends around social media, marketing, online sales, and related issues. You get metrics and forecasts about social spending growth, what age segment is fueling Facebook, smart device use. Learn the trends so you can get to know what might work as you reach out to your homebuyers.
  7. Social Media Today. This is a very interesting site that functions as a community of social media bloggers. You can register and participate or you can just read the flow of blog posts that have come in and been approved by the moderators. You’ll learn about CRM, the hierarchy of tweets, the evolution of mobile marketing. You name it, someone here is writing about it.
  8. WebWorkerDaily. As they like to say, WebWorkerDaily offers practical tips and advice for people who use the Internet for work. Currently, they’re featuring pieces on ways to use Facebook for business, how to make the most of your social media time (you know you’re worried about that one),  how to deal with comment trolls on your blog, and branding opportunities.
  9. Social Media Examiner. It’s a jungle out there and this site brags that it’s our guide through it, helping businesses discover how best to use social media tools to find leads, increase sales, and generate more brand awareness. There are video interviews with the likes of Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital, social media maven Chris Brogan, and Ford’s Scott Money; case studies featuring Souplantation, Avaya, and Domino’s Pizza, plus all sorts of “how-tos.”
  10. Chris Brogan. Social media consultant Chris Brogan is one of the biggest names in social media. He is president of New Marketing Labs and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Trust Agents. I get his newsletter and, of course, follow him on Twitter. But I like to check in regularly with his blog. I’ve learned about using outposts in social media, geopocketing, and Google Wave (Don’t know what the heck I’m talking about? Well, you’ll have to go to his site to find out.). Great insights and ideas—and they’re all practical and applicable.

Fueling Your Facebook Fan Page

Facebook logo

Have a Facebook account? How many times a week do you get requests to become a fan of a business or organization? If you do agree, how often to you pay attention to their updates or even visit the page?

It’s something to consider when you launch your own fan page. Are you doing it because it’s now de rigeur, because you have to? Or do you truly have something interesting and useful to share with your fans — whom I gather you’re trying to convert into customers or clients?

Before you launch your fan page you should have a clear plan of how you’re going to operate it. How frequently will you update it and with what? How are you going to create community? How will you keep visitors engaged? How will you amuse or entertain them, teach them, be a trusted resource for them?

Here are some suggestions for ways to continually fuel your Facebook page. And, if you have ideas you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

  • Run your Twitter feed into your fan page.
  • Hold relevant and fun contests with giveaways of products.
  • Do you have a blog? Feed that content into your fan page.
  • Offer relevant tips of the week with visuals if possible.
  • Post videos — these could be short tours of model homes, tours of the homes of happy new home buyers, interviews with your restaurant’s chef or a quick recipe demo, demos of how to use a product.
  • Post photos of happy customers with your product with a Q&A about their experience.
  • Post links to relevant YouTube videos your fans would enjoy.
  • Pick a Facebook fan of the week to highlight. (Think viral marketing potential as fans let their friends and family know they’re being spotlighted.)

Remember, just having a fan page doesn’t mean anything. If you don’t keep it updated with interesting content you won’t get visitors and it could have the opposite effect of your intent.

Four Awards From San Diego Press Club

Last night’s San Diego Press Club Journalism Awards has been on my mind for months now. I was on the organizing committee, tasked with rounding up restaurants for our dinner at the Hall of Champions. I hadn’t thought much about actually winning any awards, although I had certainly sent in entries and learned that I’d won something. Getting 20 restaurants settled into their booths and serving our 370 attendees was higher on my list of priorities.

So, I was thrilled to learn that I hadn’t just won something. I’d won four awards for my food writing. I got two third-place awards: one for a story on the City Heights Farmers Market for Edible San Diego and the other for a piece on jam making for the San Diego Union-Tribune. I received a second place award for another Edible San Diego story–this one on the avocado industry in San Diego County.  And, my plaque for first prize was awarded for a piece on The Sausage King for San Diego Uptown News.

It’s been a long time since I’d entered a journalism contest so this was a real thrill. And, the evening went beautifully, with kudos to all the chefs who fed us so well!

Talking About Ethnic Markets on KPBS-FM’s These Days

I did my monthly food hour on These Days with host Maureen Cavanaugh on Oct. 5, talking about San Diego’s wonderful ethnic markets. Chef Trey Foshee of George’s at the Cove joined us.

We covered a lot of territory, and there were listener requests on the These Days website asking for a list of the markets we talked about. I provided them with my list — not comprehensive but as thorough as I could get — and it’s here below. You can also read the transcript or listen to the show on


* 99 Ranch Market (7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego,CA 92111 858-974-8899)
* Mitsuwa Marketplace (4240 Kearny Mesa Rd # 119 San Diego, CA 92111-3772 (858) 569-6699)
* Nijiya (3860 Convoy St., #109, San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 268-3821)
* First Korean Market (4625 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111-2309 (858) 278-8303)
* Zion Market (4611 Mercury St. San Diego, CA 92111-2419 (858) 268-3300)
* Lucky Seafood (9326 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126 (858) 586-7979)
* Sage French Cake (3860 Convoy St #112 San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 571-3484)
* Sun Flour Bagel (96955 El Camino Real Ste 105, Carslbad, CA 92009 (760) 929-8047)
* Marukai (8111 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111-2421)
* Seafood City (Four locations in National City, Chula Vista and Mira Mesa


* Northgate Gonzalez Market 21 (1410 S 43rd St San Diego, CA 92113-4105 (619) 266-6080)
* Foodland Mercato (Five locations in San Diego)
* Tropical Star Restaurant and Specialty Market (6163 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 874-7827)
* Mercado 2000 International (1415 3rd Ave Chula Vista, CA 91911-4905 – (619) 427-7701)
* Pata Negra Market (1657 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109-3117 (858) 274-7282?)
* Pancho Villa’s Farmers Market (3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA (619) 584-4595) ?

Middle Eastern

* Balboa International Market (5907 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 277-3600)
* Parsian International Market (4020 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111-3726 – (858) 277-7277)
* North Park Produce (3551 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92104 (619) 516-3336)

Eastern European/Jewish

* Continent European Deli ( 4150 Regents Park Row Suite 110 La Jolla, CA 92037 (858) 623-0099)
* D.Z. Akins (6930 Alvarado Rd San Diego, CA 92120-5305 (619) 265-0218)
* Elijah’s (8861 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla – (858) 455-1461)
* Ralph’s Kosher Experience (La Jolla/Nobel)
* Sausage King (811 W Washington St. San Diego, CA 92103)


* S.A. Deli (8360 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Suite 112 San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 694 0212


* Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe (3719 India Street San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 683-2748)


* Ker and Little India (9520 Black Mountain Rd San Diego, CA 92126 (858) 566-0034)
* Indian Sweets and Spices (5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd # B San Diego, CA 92117-2357 (858) 277-5787)

(Big thanks to Wendy Fry of KPBS for taking my list, adding links and addresses/phone numbers and sending me the xhtml code!)

Any suggestions for what we should cover next month? The obvious is Thanksgiving, but I’m open to other ideas.