Moms Gone Viral
May 2 2008

I was planning to write a post updating everyone on our search engine optimization experience today but the real world injected itself with a sick kid at home.  High fever and rescheduling meetings doesn’t leave much time for writing long, heavy posts.  Plus I had to sneak in a nap in the afternoon while our daughter napped since we didn’t get much sleep the night before. :)

So instead, while my husband takes care of the kids this evening, I thought I’d write a post on the example of an unanticipated, viral marketing story with a mom twist.  So here it goes…

Once upon a time I met a friend on the Internet.  I found her blog and commented away.  After some time, we realized we had similar visions and she invited me do a guest post on her blog called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse.  We kept in touch, spoke on the phone a few times about ways to work together, became twitter pals, and finally met in person at SXSW here in Austin back in March and clicked even more. 

While at SXSW she got further proof of what she already knew which was that the name of her blog, then called eMoms at Home, was not really reflective of the demographics of her readers and would-be readers so she had a mini-meltdown, picked herself up and came up with a cool new name called Sparkplugging!  Since she was and still is an advocate of entrepreneurs and especially those who work from home, her cool, new name opens the door wide open to many of us who are moms or not but like to spark up ideas and play with them until something happens.

So after SXSW, she went home and saw a post about dads on twitter and decided to do one for moms.  Within hours she got tons of replies and created a post called The Ultimate List of Moms on Twitter that started with 250 moms.  I commented and subscribed to comments on that post and every day new moms would leave a comment with their twitter name until May 1, 2008 that is.  Twitter sent out an email to everyone yesterday, May 1, and in it they included:

Mother’s Day: On The Way

We’ve noticed a trend of parents twittering the moments of their baby’s birth so we know there are some new moms on Twitter. Are you a mom on Twitter? Is your own mom on Twitter? Maybe you even made “The Ultimate List of Moms on Twitter”? Mother’s Day is just around the corner so don’t forget to @reply the moms you know with a thoughtful phrase–but keep it under 140 characters, moms are busy people.

List of Moms on Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/6cxgp5

And today I had 150+ comments in my inbox and they are still coming.  Now she has close to 400 comments on that one post! Did she do anything extraordinary to make it happen? Not really.  Did she tell people on twitter about it? Yes, of course.  Did she know others would tell and re-tell more people about the list? Possibly.  Did she know twitter would pick it up in their mass email to everyone? Doubtful (but I don’t know what went on behind the scenes).  So in hindsight what played in her favor to have a post she wrote on April 8 (before her name change) take on a life of its own?  Here’s what I think:

  • She took the initiative to do something that ended up being quite time consuming, but she saw from the responses it resonated with hundreds of moms on twitter that it was a worthwhile endeavor. 
  • She told her friends about it who re-tweeted and blogged about it. 
  • The tweeters kept the link going within twitter and in the blogosphere. 
  • Mother’s Day was around the corner and the guys (I think they are all men) at twitter saw the activity and might have said to themselves “Hmmm. How can we mention a major holiday, get brownie points with our wives/mothers, and promote twitter at the same time” and voila a mention was born!

UPDATE: I sent a link to @Biz to this post and he informed me there are several women who work at twitter!  So of course I followed them.  Here is his tweet: 

biz @aruni awesome! I included the moms list because it was noteworthy – also, women who work at Twitter: @crystal @krissy @alissa @lane @sara

In case you haven’t guessed who this friend is, it’s Wendy Piersall.  I guess only Wendy can tell us if she planned all of this, but to me it’s another example of viral marketing that in hindsight makes sense but when started, the current result would have been highly unpredictable. 

To me, this is why it is so hard to orchestrate a viral campaign.  You can plan everything down to the “t” and still not have it work out the way you wanted.  It’s hard to predict when there are so many variables.  You can also just do something you enjoy doing that helps others and see a “spark” turn into a flame!  Way to go Wendy! :-D

Oh and by the way, I am @aruni and Wendy is @eMom on twitter…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, mom, mother, mother's day, networking, seo, social networks, success, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

5 White Men, Rebranding, and Dads
Mar 22 2008

What do 5 White Men, Rebranding, and Dads have in common?  Well other than the fact that Dads are usually men, probably not a whole lot.  These are just some of the interesting things happening around the blogosphere.

5 White Men Talk About Social Media was written by Connie Reece at Every Dot Connects.  Connie is a huge presence in the world of social media especially here in Austin, yet was overlooked for a panel on Social Media the Chamber of Commerce was putting on.  She voices her frustration at women still being “invisible” even when they are playing a major role in the world of social media.   Connie got me started in blogging almost a year ago!  She is also one of the main reasons the Frozen Pea Fund initiative got started as a result of Susan Reynolds struggle with breast cancer.  Here’s a quote from her post:

This afternoon I got an email from fellow Dot-Connector Brenda Thompson with the subject line: “Five White Men Talk About Social Media.” That got my attention and I opened the email right away. …

It irked me too. It’s not like the organizers would have had to look very far to find some outstanding women to speak, and I’m not just referring to myself. In less than 30 seconds, Brenda and I came up with a list of five or six local women who would have made great panelists.

See, lists are easy to make. But women on lists are still invisible if conference organizers aren’t looking for the list.

Looking Minnesota. Feeling California and The Gaping Void Between Our Brand And Our Audience were two recent posts written by Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  After her recent trip to SXSW Interactive, she realized she needed to rebrand because many of her readers are not eMoms or even parents!  I love Wendy’s blog for a variety of reasons but mostly because she is open and honest about her experience as an entrepreneur and she readily shares her blogging and business tips.  We met through our blogs, had a couple of phone conversations and when we finally met in person at SXSW, it was like we just “got each other” as entrepreneurs and as moms!  I’m not sure if she has come to a decision on the new name, so go check out her posts and give her your 2 cents!

AllTop Dads launches.  Thanks to Guy Kawasaki of How to Change the World my entrepreMusings blog is near the top of AllTop Moms blogger list.  It’s a great place to go to check out all the top mommy and daddy bloggers.   If you don’t know Guy, he was once asked to interview for the CEO position at Yahoo! take on the CEO position of Google and he turned the opportunity to interview down thinking there’s no way Google Yahoo! would amount to much.  He often refers to it as his $4 billion dollar mistake, but he reflects back and realizes that instead he was able to be involved in his children’s lives, which is priceless!  

So as I said when I began this post, there isn’t much in common between these links, but all are great reads!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, dad, diversity, father, mom, mother, parenting, random stuff, social media, working dad, working father, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Monday, March 10, 2008
Mar 10 2008

It’s been a long, fun filled day at SXSW Interactive today.  So this post won’t be as meaty as my previous SXSW post.  I met tons of people today and many people who know me and who I know from twitter.  It was so cool to have so many people come up to me and say, ‘hey, aren’t you @aruni on twitter?’  I guess I kind of stand out in a crowd. :-)  I probably gained about 30 followers just from tweeting about the panels I attended.  Here’s a quick overview because honestly I’m kinda worn out:

The Care and Feeding of Your Startup
This panel was made up of some local entrepreneurs from Unwired Nation as well as a venture capitalist from Texas based DFJ Mercury and a couple of others.  Some key insights:

  • Someone needs to serve as the “Belief Engine” for your startup which I took to mean the “evangelist” but I thought that was a unique way of saying it.
  • Make sure your product fits into your users way of life and they don’t have to drastically change what they are doing
  • Understand if your concept is a feature or a business.  It could be a feature that expands into a business.
  • You should aim to exceed investor’s expectations.
  • 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs can’t go the distance so they really should identify a strong mentor.
  • Make sure the people you hire have ‘karmic velcro’ which means they have the fortitude to stick around when the going gets tough.
  • There are 3 key people you need in a start-up.  1 in charge of product, 1 handling business development who can close the early deals, and 1 evangelist.
  • It’s not appropriate to go to VCs in the first 2 years of a business, because in the first 2 years you are still assessing the market risk.  Almost all the VC deals that occurred with Web companies in early stage have not worked out and they are struggling to get their money back.
  • Keep two sets of books.  One you show your investors and one with even more aggressive numbers that you aim for internally.

True Stories from Social Media Sites

This panel was moderated by Guy Kawasaki, who was so kind to put my blog near the top of his new AllTop Moms site.  It was notably a panel of 5 women and 1 guy.  Two of the women were twitter pals so when I got up to ask a question and say ‘hi’ one of them was tweeting about me.

I had my son with me at this panel because he’s home for Spring Break so I wasn’t able to take a lot of notes or do many tweets because half way through he wanted to play a game on my phone!  He actually did really well, scribbled a bit, and then drew a funny looking dinosaur who he felt the need to show was pooping.  Such a funny kid!  He wanted me to go up to the mic and say something, but when I tried to get him to come with me, he got shy…he is only afterall 5 1/2.

The panelists discussed their great and not-so-great experiences using social media.  What funny and sometimes unbelievable stories they shared!

I met up with my husband after that panel and we took our son for a late lunch at Bennigan’s and then he took him home, and I went to the BlogHaus to network with more bloggers.

Online Adulation: Use Don’t Abuse Your Fans

This panel had an editor from CNET as moderator and some pretty fabulous bloggers including the infamous Dooce whose current post is called Fueled Entirely by Advil.  

I was sitting next to Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home during this panel and she was twittering away.  She had her laptop so she could do it much faster than I could so I let her take over so go read her twitter stream if you want to read all about it.

Went back to the Bloghaus after this panel and met none other than Darren Rowse (aka Problogger).  Someone took a picture of us and said he’d email it to me so I’ll post it when I get it…assuming he remembers.

Conversation Starters

This event was hosted by DELL and Federated Media and they booked the entire Iron Cactus restaurant on 6th and Trinity.  Richard at DELL was the lead blogging rep from DELL, who I had met a few weeks earlier at an Austin Tweet Up.

Because I’m twitter friends with Kim Haynes, I volunteered to help with registration since it was an RSVP only event.  Of course, that meant I had access to extra drink tickets and people wanted to get to know me! 

The key speakers were top blogger and FastCompany.tv producer Robert Scoble (aka Scobleizer) and Shel Israel of Global Neighborhoods.

I met so many twitter buds at Conversation Starters, including the famous Chris Brogan, and throughout the day that it would take me all night to type up their names.  Already, this post is longer than I thought it would be!

Stay tuned for my next SXSWi post on Tuesday’s events.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, conferences, entrepreneurship, networking, social media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Sunday, March 9, 2008
Mar 9 2008

Although I’ve lived in Austin for quite some time, I have never made it to SXSW but now since a big part of what I do for my company is social media related, I finally had a great reason to go.  Most people associate SXSW with music, film making, bands, and people partying all night long.  For those visiting from out of town and attending the music pieces of SXSW that might be true, but for those of us attending SXSW Interactive who live in town and have kids to take care of, we aren’t able to party (or should I say not interested in partying) all night long.  Although tonight I was tempted to stay out late after having been asked by a couple of people to join some after parties.  But since I just got back from Los Angeles, I figured I should get home and give my husband a little back-up break with the kids.  Here are some brief overviews of the sessions I attend.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of facebook
sxsw-zuckerberg.jpg

Mark who is a 23 year old billionaire, seemed to be more comfortable during the interview than what I’ve heard he has been before, but he seemed to say some of the same stuff over and over again.  I forgot my regular camera and my cell phone camera is not that great, hence the not-so-great picture above.  However, here are some interesting things he said:

  • He mentioned that facebook was going to change their incentive system to one where the more invites you send out that are accepted, the more opportunities you have to invite others to join your network.   
  • He also said that at facebook, they begin with the premise that everyone is fundamentally good and not trying to do evil/illicit things. 
  • He felt that all of the mistakes they have made so far have had to do with them not giving their users enough control over the process.
  • He believes terrorism stems from people not feeling connected to each other.

The interviewer, Sarah Lacy, from BusinessWeek.com, had a strange interviewing style.  Sadly, much of the audience was wondering why she was asking the questions she did and why she was asking them the way she did.  Honestly, it seemed like she was a teenage girl flirting with a billionaire 20 something entrepreneur and many of her questions weren’t really questions they were statements.  After, the audience turned on her, I thought she might wonder why but apparently she thought she did a great job and said Mark told her she did a great job.  Omar Gallaga, who blogs for Austin 360 Digital Savant did a post-panel video interview with her that you can see HERE.  Check it out, it’s a good interview.  She believes that since she is one of the few women tech journalists that she always gets flack and is misunderstood.  Since I’m a woman in tech, after seeing her today I wouldn’t agree with her assessment of why the audience didn’t like her, but kudos to her for putting herself out there and trying.  I know she is being flamed on the Internet for the interview but if she can bounce back from this and learn & grow from this experience, she will be on her way to achieving great things.

Thom Singer, Author and Speaker on Networking

I tried hard to make it to Thom’s book reading, but after getting out of the room after Zuckerberg spoke, it was something like a 3 block hike from one end of the convention center to the other.  I arrived as he was wrapping up his Q&A.  Thom is an author and blogs at Some Assembly Required.  He’s about to release a new book called Some Assembly Required for Women.

Kathy Sierra, Author and Speaker

Kathy Sierra was a very interesting speaker.  She gave tips and advice on how to get your customers (and employees) passionate about your products.  The room was packed and since I was coming back from the other side of the convention center they wouldn’t let us in!  As I came up to the front of the line to ask what was going on, they said they couldn’t let us in because of fire code violation stuff. I was in line with Francine Hardaway and we along with a few others made some noise about how full it had been at the Zuckerberg talk and surely they can let us in since there weren’t more than 20 to 30 of us waiting outside and we had seen some people leave.  After a few minutes, they let us in.  Since I haven’t been blogging for a year yet, I didn’t know the back story on Kathy’s blogging stalker weirdness almost a year ago.  She indicated that she might start blogging again, which I look forward to.

The Super Collider: A Hero of the Social Network

I attended this panel briefly and it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  One of the panelists discussed how she was using the various social networks and social media to promote her business.  It was interesting, but nothing new so I took off to the Entrepreneur’s Lounge at Fogo de Chao Brazilian restaurant for a short after party.  It was hosted by ATI and uShip.  Ran into Bryan Mennell of Austin Startup blog there.

Hearing these people speak was fascinating but what was even more exciting to me was meeting face to face with many of my blogging friends and meeting new friends including Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home, Liz Strauss of Successful Blog, Tamar Weinberg of Mashable, Gina Trapani of lifehacker, Laura Mayes of Sk*rt, Annalee Newitz of io9 (she blogs on sci-fi stuff), and Tim Walker of Hoovers Business.

Stay tuned for more of my SXSWi experiences on Monday and Tuesday.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, conferences, entrepreneurship, social media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

2007 Sweet Blogging Candy Connections
Dec 27 2007

decorated-candies-sblanchard.jpg
Picture by my friend Sandy Blanchard

Liz Strauss did a post asking us how we thank our blog friends and it got me thinking as Liz’s posts often do.  As 2007 comes to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank and recognize all the amazing connections with amazing people I’ve made as a result of starting this blog this year.  Your posts and comments have made me laugh, shed tears, smile, raise my eyebrows, share, grow as a person, and most importantly LEARN.  Thank you!  In no particular order (except for the first one), they are:

Connie Reece of Every Dot Connects – She is the one who got me started with blogging!

Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  She gave me the honor of guest posting on her blog with a post called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse?

Liz Strauss of Successful Blog – she called me an SOB (Successful and Oustanding Blogger)

Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz – check out her mini case study on Babble Soft

Pearl at Interesting Observations

Neena of A Mom’s Life at Neenmachine – check out her guest baby tip on keeping a baby food journal

Carole Hayes of Alias Tex – check out her guest baby tip post on increasing your milk supply

Bryan Mennell of Austin Startup – check out my guest post called Parenting a Startup and Kids.

Carleen Hawn of Found|Read – check out her post about one of my posts called Sometimes, You Gotta Ignore the Experts

Nataly Kagan of Work It, Mom – she mentioned me in one of her posts on her personal blog Learning Optimism that she later posted on Huffington Post.

Thom Singer of Some Assembly Required – He recently did a post on passion and mentioned me.

Lee Aase from Lines from Lee – he helped me with setting up the Babble Soft facebook page.

Robb at the Robblog – long time friend.  I think I forced him into blogging or something like that.

Clay Nichols of DadLabs – fellow Austin entrepreneur in the parenting area.  If you haven’t seen it (and aren’t easily offended) check out their Manly Breastfeeding Video.

Eric Doggett of DogBlog - a fellow Austin entreprenuer/photographer

Shane & Peter of Shane & Peter - because of Shane’s post requesting us to interview ourselves I wrote a post called An Entrepreneurial Self Portrait.

Maryam Scoble of Maryamie – don’t be surprised if you see me on the Scobleshow in 2008!

Char at Casual Keystrokes

Randa Clay of Randa Clay Design

Jennifer Laycock of The Lactivist- nursing out loud

Karen Rani and Vicki Maxel of Swank Webstyle – they did my entrepreMusings blog design and implementation as well as our current corporate site.

We have exchanged meaningful (at least to me!) emails/blog comments, spoken on the phone, or met in person this past year.  They have helped me in my journey and I hope that I’ve been able to help them too!  I apologize if I’ve forgotten someone as I’m typing this up before we head out for the holidays.  If I have, let me know and I’ll add you to the list. 

Thank you all for enriching my life in 2007!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, networking | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

The Power of Positive Thinking and Action
Nov 27 2007

sandys-flower.jpg A few of the blogs I read have been posting recently about the power of positive thinking & action as well as how we can be entrepreneurs and still have work/life balance.  I hope to be part of that group who can prove this is the case.

Shane & Peter did a post called 2008 goals: scare yourself where they state “In 2008, we are going to gross a million dollars and still have a life.”  They make a compelling argument and I believe they have a really great shot at getting $1 million in revenue in 2008 given their attitude.  In the comment thread, I asked them what they mean by ‘have a life?’ and Shane said they will be doing a post on that soon as they figure that out as well.  Personally, I think I’m still a bit too nervous to scare myself by stating my 2008 business goals out loud and on this blog just yet!

The next post on their blog was written by a guest author, Jarkko Laine, called bring people with you – a recipe for small business revolution.  He says: “I challenge you to count the successful entrepreneurs who have been able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.” Jarkko proclaims that in order to stay balanced you must bring your family, your friends, your world, and yourself with you.

Naomi at IttyBiz wrote Top Secret Advice On Making The Digg Front Page where she set a goal, took action, and achieved her wish.  Her post Entrepreneurship: What To Do When You’re Scared Sh*tless made it to the font page of Digg and apparently didn’t crash her server like it has others.  Way to go Naomi!  I haven’t had a post make it to the front page of Digg, but I already know the one that I hope will make it to the front page which will be part of my plan to achieve some of my 2008 scary business goals!

Pearl at Interesting Observations also set a goal to make it to the front page of Digg with her Best 101 Lists post.  She made it (yay!), her server crashed for a bit, but now she’s back up and running!  I am working on making many more friends like those mentioned here in the blogosphere to achieve my front page of Digg goal one day next year.

To sum this post up, Liz Strauss has started a series of posts about thinking and how we can and should change our thinking and free ourselves of the limits of old thoughts.  I joined the conversation at Change Our World: Think Our Way Out of the Box, came back for Personal Identity: Who Are You Really?, and followed on at Positively Me.  Since she said it so well, I will leave you with an excerpt  from her last post:

“I’ve been thinking about those sentences in our heads.

They were useful once I’m sure – those sentences in our heads that tell us how to act and who we are. But some of them are woefully past their “sell by” date and still they play over and over. It’s time to stop paying attention.

I see folks who let one sentence, one event, define their entire life while they sit with the power to set it aside and chose a new path.

It’s my life. They’re my thoughts. I’m tossing out the ones I don’t want. I don’t need negatives anymore. It’s the positives that move me forward.

How else will I become positively me?”

On her post, I said I would make a list of positive thoughts and negative ones and burn the negative ones…to delight the pyromaniac in me! :-)

I can’t wait to read what Liz writes next!  What are we (am I) afraid of will happen if we let go of those negative thoughts?  Is it failure or could it quite possibly be as Wendy Piersall at eMoms at Home suggests, of…shudder…Success!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship, random stuff, success | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »