A Warm Handshake with Allen Fuller


Public speaking is the number one fear reported by people in the U.S.  That's probably why some companies have challenges making corporate videos.

In Why the Contest Prize is a Flip Camera for the Blacksburg Foursquare Swarm Party, we restated the bottom line about online marketing with videos, though:  Gotta do it.

Sometimes if someone else goes first, it helps us get started.

We asked Allen Fuller.  He went first.  And his friends went, too.  That's leadership.  Thanks, Allen.  Great friends, too.

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Allen Fuller is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at AllenJFuller.com, you can find him @AllenJFuller, and read more Allen Fuller on Handshake 2.0.

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We invite you to share your company video on Handshake 2.0 with a Warm Handshake.

“Checking In” to Location-Based Networks

Allen Fuller on FoursquareStarbucks recently implemented a discount for all Mayors of their shops around the US.

Facebook has confirmed it will be adding location-based features soon.

Gowalla recently offered free Nets tickets to anyone who found the digital tickets they scattered in the surrounding area. (Here's a case study by VaynerMedia.)

Foursquare (which turned one in March 2010) was rumored to have been offered $100M for acquisition by Yahoo.

Mayors, millions of dollars, weird names.  What exactly is going on here?

The last year especially has seen the growth and proliferation of location-based social networks and social games.

As Anne Clelland has posted in the past, her formula for a killer app is:

Game Mechanics + Social Networking + GIS + Business Data
+ Algorithm, Formula and/or Idea + Mobile = Killer App

Anne Clelland on Foursquare Location-based apps are killer. 

In Foursquare I can compete with my friends to get the most badges and to become (and stay) Mayor of my favorite shops.  I can leave my mark by reviewing a business in Yelp or leaving a tip for others about my favorite item.  Gowalla lets me collect items left by other members and leave them at new locations, and add photos of the decor and food.  Plus, I never know when I will unlock a mayorship special or find an item that gets me a free ticket to a basketball game or a free ride from Chevy to SXSW.

And these are the benefits to the users.  Each system is offering real-time location-based promotions and advertising for businesses.  Foursquare also recently launched a whole suite of analytic tools to let businesses glean valuable data from those members that check in to help plan specials and marketing campaigns. No wonder the rumored offer from Yahoo for Foursquare was so high and Facebook is trying to move into the space. 

This new way to interact with friends in the digital and real world is not without its concerns. PleaseRobMe.comis a caution to be careful how much information we post online and where we let our check-ins be posted. At the end of the day, however, it is an exciting new way to explore a new town or your hometown.

Hey, Jeremy Hart, I am coming after your mayorships! Watch out!

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Allen Fuller is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at AllenJFuller.com and you can find him @AllenJFuller.

Social Media Promotions? Better Read the Terms of Service

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms provide me with unprecedented connection to friends and businesses.  It is hard to do a Google search now without coming across a few sites trying to tell me how it can make "'millions" of dollars if I make a Facebook page or use some five-step plan to exploit those connections.

Scams aside, the use of social media opens up many doors for networking and advertising.  As awesome as these new opportunities are, I recently learned how important it is to read the fine print.

As I dreamed about my future businesses, ideas for promotions came to mind.  I planned to use Facebook and Twitter to tell people about these events when they happened.  Then I found this.

Statement of Rights and Responsibilities | Facebook

Facebook is pretty strict about promotions.  No purchase can be necessary, prior approval is required, and many other prohibitions exist.  Advertising on Facebook is a whole different situation. 

IKEA executed a really innovative contest recently, but the contest completely broke these rules.  To my knowledge, IKEA was not penalized for this contest but I do not want to roll the dice with my company's web presence.

Twitter, YouTube, and Foursquare all have similar rules and restrictions for the use of their network.  Each is offering a free service that is largely ad or venture capital funded.  They deserve their cut.

Keeping track of all these rules is yet another reason to convert social media followers (or likers) to blog and newsletter subscribers. Then, only FTC rules apply.  (Handshake 2.0 has what Mark Schaefer named the "world's first social media authenticity policy" to address FTC rules.)

I am not a lawyer, so I will consult with legal counsel before trying to execute any social media promotions in the future.  At this point I can now go into those discussions with confidence with a basic understanding of the rules. I save time time and money by easily rejecting the ideas that break the Terms of the networks I want to use.

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Allen Fuller is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at AllenJFuller.com and you can find him @AllenJFuller.

Marketing a Super Hero

The Plaid Avenger, international freedom fighter, made a recent appearance at the Easy Chair Coffee Shop in Blacksburg, Virginia.  The party celebrated the release of the second volume of his comic book. So, who is the Plaid Avenger?

The Plaid Avenger is a comic book hero created by Virginia Tech geography professor John Boyer (who consistently fills even 3000+ person classrooms) and brought to life by John's personality and the skilled hand of Klaus Shmidheiser.  The Plaid Avenger is an educational vehicle, a parody of James Bond, who travels the world helping his viewers to understand the news, not just to hear it.  Through his exploits in the World Regions textbook, comics and the Plaidcast (where he records himself discussing world issues) his viewers are drawn in and learn more than just soundbytes.

In the three hours I attended the event, there was a constant flow of fans.  The team worked hard to ensure that each person that entered was thanked personally. 

The Plaid Avenger is a small business completely separate from the university.  Unable to advertise in the classroom, therefore, Twitter discussions, a Facebook event, ads on the team's websites, fliers in local businesses, a classifieds ad, and a Ustream of the event were all employed to spread the news.  The day before the event the NRVHub ran a short promo seen below.  The combined effect increased daily visits to PlaidAvenger.com from an average of 350 to over 800 Thursday and 1700 Friday. 

At the end of the day, the Plaid Avenger and his team were able to recoup about 1/5 the cost of production of their second comic in total sales.  Though not a land slide victory, the Plaid Avenger lives to fight another day with a solid start to the new comic release and an engaged fan base.


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Allen Fuller is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at AllenJFuller.com and you can find him @AllenJFuller.

Gen-Y Consumers and Business Selection

The consensus of the many articles and blog posts about Gen-Y seems to be that the younger generations have a completely different value system than those that have come before them.  As businesses adjust to an increasingly Gen-Y consumer base, the trick seems to be cracking this code of how I – a member of Gen-Y – choose from whom I buy.

Gen-Y consumer choices are based on community and relationships When I need something, I ask my social circle (in person and on social networking sites) and go to my favorite search engine, rarely going past page two.  As a result, often my first impression of a company is its website.  If I do not find the company from one of these two methods, I don't consider it.

With this list of potentials, I (often subconsciously) evaluate them. The atmosphere of the site can make me feel comfortable and welcome or out of place.  I desire to feel a part of the community, a part of something greater than myself.  If a recommendation came from a close friend, my relationship with the brand has already begun before "meeting" them.  This relationship with the company is what creates loyalty.

If a business is active in the local community, has fair employment/purchasing practices and cares about social issues, buying from that company fits into my ethical values.  I am able to be true to the entirety of who I am while buying what I want or need.

All relationships are dynamic.  An annoying commercial can leave me frustrated (wanting to avoid the business), and seeing my cause taken up can renew/deepen our bond.

It is all about relationship and community.

It's still who I know.

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Allen J Fuller, III is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at AllenJFuller.com and can be found on Twitter @AllenJFuller.