End of year round-up: Must-have apps & accessories – The 11 things for your business you didn’t know you couldn’t live without

By Lauren |

(Originally posted on vator.tv)

Most of us have figured out the go-to, day-to-day gadgets we rely on for our work – a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. But the array of accessories and apps out there for the enterprise user can be an overwhelming one.  Here’s a quick list of the on-the-go apps and tech accessories that have now become must-haves in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.


Mophie – for iPhone (case) and PhoneSuit Primo Cube Battery Pack – Android (snap on)

It seems that the better battery life gets on newer devices, the more we use our phones since subconsciously we know we can. To help fight battery drain every entrepreneur should have a quick back up to reach for in their pocket or bag that will allow them to go on and at least finish out the day without needing to run to the nearest Starbucks for an inconvenient power pick-me-up.

No one wants to be caught without any power at a crucial moment – whether trying to pull up an email for reference or finding directions for the next destination.


Not every entrepreneur needs a Square attachment but for those who do need instant payment options for clients and customers, Square is revolutionary.

Think of the time that’s saved not waiting for a check to come in the mail once papers have been signed in person or taking in business for a quick turnaround with deposits in hand instantly.

Square has proven to be fruitful for those needing payment options on site and immediately without the entire setup of a point-of-sale terminal.


Mifi and Personal Hotspots – Prepaid plans

If you travel a lot you probably already know that internet service can be spotty at best, and security is a concern when connecting through open wifi access points. A MiFi portable personal wifi access point will wipe these concerns away. Having a monthly plan may not be the most logical depending on your travel frequency but luckily there are a couple of prepaid plans out there with various service providers.


Neat Receipt 

Neat Receipt is a fantastic addition for anyone who has to expense or keep track of receipts for tax purposes. It allows you to scan these paper documents and then saves them in a format that is accepted by the IRS. Bonus – your now scanned and digitized information can be imported to Salesforce easily!



Dockable Keyboard

If you’re going to be doing any sort of writing that goes beyond a myriad of notes then you absolutely need a keyboard that docks your iPad or tablet, essentially turning it into a notebook. Anyone who has tried to type out long documents on the touchscreen knows that our wrists just weren’t built that way. Do yourself a favor and get one.  Fellow Vator.tv writer Krystal Peak shared her favorite one here.





Linkedin recently purchased Cardmunch to further build out their offerings for professionals everywhere. Cardmunch allows you to scan someone’s business card with your smartphone camera and then converts the image to the appropriate text. It automatically searches LinkedIn for their profile in order to connect right away.  What better way to keep in touch than to socially connect on the professional social network? Your new contact will find your follow-up to be refreshing and thoughtful.

Gist & Rapportive

Gist and Rapportive both keep you up to date with all of your contacts’ updates, like a personal CRM tool. The Gmail plugin for Rapportive keeps you in the loop about the person that you’re emailing with. From this sidebar you can find out their latest social network updates, recent email interactions, vital contact info extracted from signatures, and other social network links so you can connect further. Gist offers a similar feed of your address book all at once on a dashboard or organized by your tags and preferences.


Evernote & Dropbox

Don’t trust documents and platforms to save your original work? You can use Evernote for syncing your thoughts, ideas and bits of  information. Evernote recently launched Evernote Hello so you can remember those you met and organize the context of how you met them.

For small companies, Dropbox has the added benefit of supporting your hardware server and backup so it is accessible and constantly synced no matter where you are. Besides using Dropbox as cloud storage, documents can be accessed remotely and accidentally deleted items can be restored.


QuickOffice Pro

While we wait for the next iteration of the netbook and tablet hybrid to be able to fully compute on-the-go, QuickOffice Pro bridges the divide with the much needed document creator and editor compatible with Microsoft Office.

Investing a little bit of money into this app will go a long way for your business; integrating your mobile experience with the productivity tools offered here frees you from the burden of the laptop.

Think of how much a desktop version of Office costs and then relate that here. It’s well worth it. 


Networking 101: Being a Good Date

By Lauren |

The following article was originally written by Lauren Perkins on ForbesWoman.

from HA! Designs - Artbyheather via flickr

Networking events are a fantastic way to meet new business prospects, potential partners, and leverage relationships within your existing network for referrals. These events can certainly seem intimidating if you don’t have an action plan to keep you focused and on task. To make the most of networking opportunities, business women can treat each event as they would treat a date. Following the same rules that you would typically follow on a date provides some guidance for how to prepare for the event, what to do while there, and actions to take post-event to take advantage of any prospects.

Primping for your Date

The first step toward an engaging experience at a networking event is preparation. When you go on a date, there are certain rituals you do to get ready. These same rules apply to preparing for a networking event to be the best-prepared date you can be:

  • Research the event host and the demographics of the attendees. If there’s someone going to the event you want to be introduced to, ask a mutual contact for an introduction ahead of time. LinkedIn is a great resource to discover mutual contacts.
  • Have a stack of business cards ready to go.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch and main talking points, then practice a few times!

Be a Good Date

A good date qualifies as someone who makes you feel comfortable. This person listens to you and asks questions based on what you are saying. Networking works the same way. To be a networking queen and get the most from your experience, you should:

  • Ask other attendees about their purpose for attending.
  • Make conversation with people you have the most business interest in. While you should be friendly to everybody, don’t waste more than two minutes chatting with someone who you know you have no business interest in.
  • Listen to who they are and what needs they have that your business may be able to fulfill.
  • Ask strategic questions to direct the conversation- play to their needs, offer helpful hints, and suggest your business as a solution.

Exit Strategies

In any dating situation, you always need a good exit strategy. Even if you’re having a great conversation and are interested in working with someone, you don’t want to spend too much time with one person. The more people you meet, the better chance you have at acquiring business. Think of it as speed dating! You want to handle these situations with great care because you never want to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth about you or your company.

Excuses to Exit:

  • To use the restroom: “Excuse me, I have to use the restroom. It was a pleasure meeting you!”
  • For a phone call: “Pardon me, I have a phone call to make. Enjoy the rest of the event!”
  • To meet a colleague: “Please excuse me, I have to meet a colleague. It was a pleasure speaking to you.”

If the conversation went well and you’ve procured their contact information, you may also need to excuse yourself for the above mentioned, but remember to:

  • Tell them next steps (“I’ll be in touch tomorrow to continue our discussion!”).
  • Exchange business cards.

The Morning After

Who wants to be the first one to get in contact after a date? YOU DO! Never wait for them to contact you first. In the dating world this may seem desperate, but in business we call this eager, smart and strategic. The day after the event, you should:

  • Add the person on LinkedIn. Include a friendly message in the invitation that recaps the conversation and next steps.
  • If the person doesn’t use LinkedIn, you can also send them an email with the same type of message. Also, make sure to download Rapportive, which is a social tool allowing you to view all of a contacts footprint on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Networking events may seem intimidating at first, but the above strategic tactics alongside your natural abilities will ensure that you make the most of the opportunity both personally and professionally. If you think about networking the same way that you would think about being a good date, you’re sure to come out with a broader professional network and a rolodex of untapped business prospects.

Perks Consulting CEO Lauren Perkins Honored As Official G20-Y US Ambassador

By Lauren |

Recently I was honored to be invited to the G20-Y Summit in Paris France as an official US Ambassador for the “Innovation, Technology, Communication, Social Media and Wikileaks – Opportunities and Risks” committee. In addition to the committee I was a part of, other topics covered were: shadow banking; financial stability and regulatory issues in emerging markets; systemically important financial institutions (sifis) – resolution tools and regimes; climate change and green growth; integration of the perspectives of the Islamic countries into the G20’s mission and governance & regional conflicts 2011. The purpose of the G20-Y Summit is to inform the G20 delegates about major issues that are affecting all of us, especially the youth of today.

At Perks Consulting we know how important technology and social media is to all of us personally as well as on a business level. It’s now assumed that in addition to a website you should have a social media presence on at least Facebook and Twitter. The way we interact online is often indistinguishable from offline interactivity when it comes to human behavior and how it affects us emotionally and financially.

Innovation in technology and communication has fundamentally changed human behavior across the world. The pace of change and its potential impact, specifically in mobile and social media, continues to scale at an exponential rate. As a result, the world has become more interconnected. If harnessed correctly, innovation provides two solutions to current global challenges – GDP growth and job creation. If this isn’t addressed soon the existing divisions between ‘citizens and governments’ and ‘customers and corporations’ will continue to grow.

The solution lies in changing education, fostering innovation and improving the quality of access to and use of social media. To change this situation, the lack of understanding within government, business and other organizations of this technological revolution and its impact on human behavior need to be addressed.

We felt that G20 member countries should individually seek to understand their respective countries strengths and then collaborate to develop a global innovation policy. Once this is understood, G20 member countries should develop applicable frameworks for implementing education initiatives that foster innovation in a diverse, global economy.

From this point we proposed to build a G-20Y Summit Innovation Committee. The purpose of this committee is to identify and establish global best practices by leveraging experts across a variety of fields and to connect the components of entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world i.e. ideas, capital and markets. Providing all citizens with quality access is the pre-requisite to realizing the growth potential. Every 10% of broadband penetration results in 1.2% – 1.4% increase in per capita GDP growth (source: World Bank).

In order to take advantage of the opportunities at hand, it was recommended that the G20 set a timetable for the development of digital networks across the globe and define specific benchmarks for penetration rate, speed and quality of access. These solutions must be economically viable and environmentally sustainable. On a personal note, connectivity issues don’t just plague third-world countries. I had frequent connectivity issues while in France and Chile. You don’t realize how essential digital communication (email, social media, texting, etc.) is to your life until you don’t have access to it anymore.

With evolution across the technological landscape occurring vertically and inconsistently among cultures and borders, the open culture of social media networks has also brought economic and social disparities in full view. Movements of civil unrest have arisen, generating reactionary responses from government leaders, attempting to control and undermine access to such digital communication tools. As more of humanity comes to rely on technology as a part of their everyday lives, there will eventually be increasing ire towards governments that attempt to curb technological access or refuse to prioritize the development of digital infrastructure. This issue also extends beyond despotic countries, with governments lacking understanding in this revolution of communication norms and interaction, hoping to maintain the status quo and a powerful elite voice. Instead, social and mass media should be seen as a tool to engage, educate & connect with these communities to quell any issues and provide a more open forum for societal progress.

To address this we proposed that the G20 creates a Technology and Communication Board, to 1) maximize growth by identifying global trends that correlate to economic activity, measuring Key Performance Indicators and developing recommendations that capitalize on GDP growth opportunities and to 2) mitigate risks by creating a global policy on cyber security, privacy matters and the use of technology for criminal activity.

The world is only going to become more interconnected as time goes on. With an increasingly globalized trade system and lightning speed transactions, the lack of stable and accessible technological infrastructure needs to be addressed as a priority or major political, social, and economic consequences will arise for individual governments. Hopefully these suggestions from my G20-Y committee will be implemented in a timely manner in order to move forward effectively. I hope to maintain a commitment furthering the role of social media and technology across the board by staying involved in these issues, especially while engaging with Entrepreneur Week across the globe.

Zipcar Innovates Social Shopping With New Facebook Reservations App

By damienbasile |

When it comes to lifestyle innovation, the car industry is definitely doing their part to push things forward. The latest in a line of digital disruption is Zipcar allowing customers to reserve a car on Facebook, thus moving the social commerce needle forward. Why is this important? According to a survey done by Zipcar, 88% of their customers spend roughly 15 hours per day on Facebook.

First off, that couldn’t possibly be true. While it’s important to poll your customers, it’s also important to get the right data. For that statistic to be true, Zipcar’s customers would have to be on Facebook for every single waking moment. Having Facebook open isn’t the same thing as actively being “on” Facebook.

Regardless of the skewed data, Zipcar’s decision to allow customers to reserve cars on Facebook is no less important. It’s widely documented that people general spend a lot of time on Facebook and leave it open in a tab. Instead of forcing your customers to search for your website on Google, they can just search for your brand on Facebook and use it through that channel.

Zipcar’s engagement proves that online shopping goes beyond just e-commerce and buying products. Customers are hungry for viable e-commerce solutions that simplify the process by allowing them to shop where they spend the most of their time – Facebook.



Facebook Zipcar

Zipcar launched a Facebook application today, for the company’s “tech-savvy” customers.

“We know that our members are tech-savvy and actively engaged in social media, so providing members with the ability to reserve a Zipcar directly through Facebook is a natural next step,” Scott Griffith, chief executive of Zipcar in a statement.

According to member surveys performed by Zipcar, 88 percent of Zipcar users are also Facebook users who spend roughly 15 hours a day on the social network. So why not capture the audience where it spends the most time? Not to mention the obvious opportunity to acquire new customers from Facebook’s 800 million active users.

Visitors to the Zipcar Facebook app will be able to find and reserve available cars, get direction to the car’s locations, and of course, share the reservation with friends. You will also be able to extend or cancel a reservation directly from Facebook and because it is a canvas app, there is no reason for Zipcar member to leave the Facebook website.

Facebook recently made a slew of changes to its platform allowing these apps to really flourish. These changes include updates to it’s developer-focused Open Graph, the ability to integrate different vocabulary into your “likes,” and more.

Zipcar users can also stay mobile through Zipcar’s mobile app available on both Android, iPhone and website.

Opinionaided User Engagement Up From 2.5 to 3.25 Hours, Launches Android Customer Service Feedback App

By perksconsulting |

Social media marketing has moved from cutting edge to being standardized across online channels. Brands can ask their customers what they like on Twitter and Facebook, but when it comes to reaching them in a dedicated mobile environment there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation. That’s where Opinionaided comes in.

Opinionaided allows you to ask a question, upload a photo, and have users vote on it. As with all new networks and apps, the form of user engagement should be determined early on. If you decide to use a question and answer platform like Opinionaided, it’s better to ask if users like one of your products versus another one. Users should never be asked to compare to a competitor or be given an option to compare two of your products that aren’t similar enough. Remember, you never want to make your customers uncomfortable.

There’s also a possibility of engaging network influencers by making them brand ambassadors, but this shouldn’t be taken lightly. If payment is provided then disclosure needs to be standardized across the board. For situations like this we recommend Cmp.ly, which we worked with early on to design their iconography. We do not recommend doing this on your own, as navigating the paid brand ambassador waters can be tricky. It’s always best to bring in a marketing or consulting agency that has done lifestyle engagements before. Regardless of whether you use an agency, make sure you have a content creation calendar and social media guidelines with examples of proper usage before you set out to use any new network officially.

Everyone’s got an opinion — something that the mobile question and answer company Opinionaided has tapped into with its popular iPhone app. Today, the company is releasing its long-awaited Android app, which will help to spur on Opinionaided’s skyrocketing growth and increasing user engagement.

As of September, active users are now spending 3 hours and 25 minutes on the app, compared to around two and a half hours in August. Opinionaided users gave over 10 million responses to over 250,000 questions last weekend alone. Clearly, users are finding something addictive about the service, which allows you to take a picture on your phone, ask a question, and instantly receive responses.

“What is most significant to us is that we are creating a social utility based on helping others, with little judgment or bias,” CEO Dan Kurani said in a statement today. “By adding the Android app, we are able to cultivate a larger and more inclusive community of mobile users.”

Kurani tells me it took the company some time to put together the free Android app, which is now available on the Android Market. The Android app still doesn’t have some of the sharing features that the iOS app has, but Kurani says they’re coming soon.

In my brief testing of the Opinionaided service, I was struck by just how quickly responses to my questions came. That near-instant engagement even surprised Kurani when the app was first launched. He says that users are now seeing between 50 and 100 responses per question, with an average of 70 responses. Kurani attributes the impressive users engagement to the company’s focus on on opinion Q&A, instead of fact-based Q&A like Yahoo Answers.

Opinionaided is based in New York City and has raised around $6.7 million across two rounds of funding.


Fashion Magazines Branch Out Into Online Retail

By Perks |

Fashion magazines have started to feel the strain of online on their advertising budgets, so some are starting to offer online retail in addition to their traditional editorial offerings. This shouldn’t be done as reactionary though. Offering ways to purchase items directly should be done naturally with lifestyle innovation, as readers want a way to instantly purchase something they desire. In print publications each editorial item should have a short URL that leads to the publication’s hybrid editorial ecommerce portal, where readers can see the item exactly how it was in the spread and purchase each item by clicking on it on the model.

Fashion publications would also do well to integrate into Facebook, as Details Magazine has done. Ecommerce is growing in leaps and bounds on Facebook (as is social reading) so it would be in their best interests to integrate both aspects in one easy to use experience. Tablet and mobile devices are also becoming more and more popular and as so different experiences need to be put in place for each interface. The user experience is of the utmost importance, especially on mobile devices.

Overall, if fashion magazines are truly to make the transition into a 360 integrated publication retailer they must pay attention to UI/UX, mobile development, social shopping development, custom Facebook integration development, and naturally website development. Perks Consulting specializes in all of these areas, offering the most versatile packages for our clients when it comes to a holistic solution.

via psfk.com

Fashion Mags Branch Out Into Online Retail
By Emma Hutchings on October 1, 2011

A number of major fashion magazines have recently announced partnerships with e-commerce sites, with Park & Bond’s ‘GQ Selects’ section and Esquire launching CLAD. After recent losses in advertising due to online competition and the economic situation, this move adds a new source of revenue for magazines. The websites also stand to gain, as editor’s recommendations and reviews boost their credibility with consumers. The NY Times reports:

While the glossies have long had a reputation for accommodating the designers they cover, sometimes guaranteeing coverage to those who advertise in their pages, a wave of new ventures and partnerships suggests they are willing to go even further by selling the designers’ clothes. It is a move that is raising some eyebrows in the industry, as magazines like Vogue, GQ and Esquire, struggling to survive in an online world, could potentially become competitors to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.

This move should prove beneficial for consumers who will be able to find everything they need in one place. So, if they read a review about a product they like, they can click through and order it straight away.

How Facebook’s New Features Will Fuel Social Shopping

By Perks |

We’re huge advocates of social shopping, especially on Facebook. We have vetted over a dozen solutions and found that besides one or two, most are just special tabs on Facebook fan pages. Some even take you away from the Facebook experience by bringing you to a second page that loads the store without any fan page navigation. With these new changes to Facebook (customizable Open Graph and real-time news Ticker) brands will be able to reach more potential customers through new viral techniques.


The only foreseeable problem will be the ability to easily implement these new additions easily and quickly. While large brands can afford to pay developers to create custom solutions for them, smaller brands can’t. When we need to work with smaller brands we bring in established social shopping solutions that can be customized to their brand specifications and marketing needs. Hopefully social shopping vendors add these new changes to their solutions so both large and small brands can benefit from this. We at Perks Consulting are excited about these new viral techniques that will enable brands to connect with potential new customers.

Christian Taylor is founder and CEO of Payvment and developer of the number-one Facebook ecommerce platform for brands, agencies and merchants, and the world’s only Facebook Shopping Mall.

Many of the new features introduced at Facebook’s f8 Developer Conference last Thursday, such as a customizable Open Graph and real-time news Ticker, will have a tremendous impact on social commerce and social shopping in the very near future.



Developers will now be able to build a Facebook commerce experience more relevant to shoppers and also offer more effective social discovery for sellers. Sellers will be able to access new insights into shopper preferences and will use this data to better promote their products. These new opportunities will make the Facebook shopping experience richer and more social.

Here are five ways Facebook’s new features will fuel social commerce and product discovery.

1. Better Self-Expression for Shoppers

Custom Open Graph gestures will bring a new level of relevance to the Facebook shopping experience. By enabling new buttons such as “Want,” “Own” and “Love,” shoppers will be able to express themselves more specifically around a particular product. Consequently, News Feed stories can also be customized to generate phrases such as “Jim reviewed” or “Jane loved” a particular product. These types of posts will drive much more effective social discovery than a simple “Like” story.

These new buttons will also be used to enrich the social shopping experience within Facebook storefronts themselves. For example, in the future, you will be able to see who “owns” a product you’re considering and connect with that friend for recommendations. This functionality will also enable sellers to engage more deeply with shoppers. For example, if I discover that Jim owns a product in my storefront, I might ask him for a product review.

2. Product Discovery Through Ticker

The new Ticker creates a persistent real-time stream that sellers can use to publicize products to shoppers, just as Ticker allows users to discover music their friends are listening to. For example, if my friend Jane visits a Facebook store and clicks the “Want” button on a product, the resulting Ticker story could read, “Jane wants a Granite Fountain at the Fountain Shop on Facebook.”

As powerful as this capability is, developers should be careful to publish only the activities that shoppers agree to promote. For instance, if a boyfriend is secretly checking out engagement rings, he might not want his whole friend list to know about it.

3. The Ability to Create Wishlists

As part of the new design, Facebook will aggregate application activity to create persistent modules on a person’s Timeline. Different social shopping widgets will post to a person’s profile, such as holiday and birthday wish lists or wedding and baby registries. These lists are created automatically based on the custom action buttons. For example, all “Want” button clicks will create a wish list on the Timeline.


Adding product-focused lists to your profile lets people know what you want, and makes it easier for friends to know what to buy you when those special events come around. Now when your friends get a birthday reminder for you, they can click through to your profile, and may even be able to buy you something from your birthday wish list immediately.

The Ticker will also play a role in promoting these wish lists. Want to remind people about your wish list before your upcoming birthday? Just “Want” a more recent product and it will automatically generate a fresh Ticker story.

4. Clearer Permissions

Have you ever started to use a new Facebook application, but hesitated when seeing how the application could use your data? The current permissions dialog box did not allow developers to explain why they want your permissions, so users didn’t always have enough information to make an informed decision.

Developers will now have more control over the content displayed in the permissions dialog, and thus can better articulate how a person’s data will be used. Social shopping applications can explain exactly what type of data will be used and what benefits it will provide the shopper; they can even include screenshots of posts that might appear on your Timeline. For example, a permissions dialog might explain that your Facebook interests will be used to provide product recommendations and special deals targeted to you. This option could, in turn, build trust and increase participation by users.

5. Shopping With Friends

The Facebook custom Open Graph and Ticker opened the door to social music discovery – so why not social shopping as well?

In the near future you might see an “invite friends to shop” button within a social storefront. Clicking on it would generate a post in the Ticker that says, “Jane is shopping for baby strollers.” When a friend clicks on the post, they would be taken to a chat room-style panel or comment box where they can share stroller recommendations. That feedback might become part of the public comments in the store, or may only be visible to the two of you. The end result is that you have enlisted your friend’s help to make a purchase decision, as if you were both shopping together at the mall.

These kinds of experiences are only the beginning. Just as developers have used Facebook to bring people together to play social games, so too will developers use this new functionality to make Facebook shopping a much more interactive — and social — experience.


Perks Consulting Joins the G-20Y Summit As Event Partner and Delegate

By Perks |

This week, Perks CEO Lauren Perkins will head to Paris, France to participate in the G-20Y Summit. This annual global conference hosts young business leaders with the goal of ideating a set of global recommendations that will be shared with the G20 Heads of State and other leading international organizations.

As a young entrepreneur who is highly involved in the startup community, Lauren will provide her entrepreneurial perspective as a US Delegate on Innovation, Technology, Communication, and Social Mass Media. Lauren looks to support this discussion with her personal perspective that the growth of the entrepreneurial mindset and growing volume of startups will help create the community support and innovative thinking we need to overcome the large obstacles we face ahead. As part of this committee Lauren plans to discuss the opportunities and risks that this growing field has on political developments in the world and economic stability. Delegate participants from the participating global 20 economies will discuss how new media and technology has revolutionized business models and how businesses can use media as a channel of communication.

Lauren is encouraged to see that the G-20Y values innovation, technology and communication as a contributing solution to the worldwide financial crisis. To read Lauren’s thoughts and stay updated on what is happening at the G-20Y, follow her on Twitter at @laurenperkins.


The G-20Y Generation gathers every year for a 3 to 4 day G-20Y Summit that aims to prepare a set of Recommendations to be spread across the world and to be shared, in particular, with the G-20 Heads of State and leading international organizations. The G-20Y Generation represents successful young business leaders from the G-20 countries, aged 25 to 45 (the G-20Y Generation). These Summits are a unique opportunity for young business leaders to gather and exchange ideas and best business practices and to create strong personal and professional bonds.

Over 3 or 4 days, the G-20Y Summits gather business leaders for plenary sessions, and discussions in working groups, round tables and face-to-face meetings. On the basis of an agenda prepared in advance by the Expert Council, Chair and Business Assembly Board, about 150 delegates, representing all of the G-20 countries, prepare and discuss the final G-20Y Summit Recommendations. During the G-20Y Summits, delegates also highly value their direct contact with key members of our Supporting Institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Social Interview: Calvin Lee of Mayhem Studios

By Perks |

This month we interviewed Calvin Lee of Mayhem Studios, a graphic designer who is extremely social media savvy. He is a “Self-Proclaimed Media Ho, Designer Guy and Twitter Addict. In his spare time, Stunt Doubles for the Hulk and a really Nice Guy!”. His Twitter bio is just indicative of his personality, which is a mix of professionalism and fun and he comes off as an all around nice guy who doesn’t take himself seriously. If you know of Calvin or if you have no clue who he is then read a little further as we get an in depth look into who he is and where he comes from. Ladies and Gentlemen, Calvin Lee:

Calvin Lee

1. Give us a brief timeline of your past 10 years.

For the first 5-6 years I was a student worker at the City of Los Angeles in a clerical position, which I wasn’t really happy at. When there was an opportunity at a design studio. I jumped at it. That job lasted for about two and half years, until they went out of business. I had planned on looking for another full-time job but I ended up freelancing for a small design studio referred by a friend and other freelance work I picked up. After five years of freelancing, I took another full-time position at the City of Los Angeles as a designer, working on redesigns for the Mayor, Council Offices and various City departments. All the while, I was still running my Mayhem Studios on the side.

2. How did you get into design as a profession?

I always wanted to get into some kind of creative profession but didn’t know exactly what. I discovered I really liked designing logos and working on branding projects. I started taking on small projects here and there. I build up my skills and clients from there.

3. What is the one project that you’re the most proud of?

The project I’m most proud of is for Fundstream, one of my first design projects as a designer where I had full control. It was also my first diecut tri-fold, which came out pretty nice.

4. Do clients find you via social media? If so, can you give a more notable example?

I do get a bunch of inquiries from social media. Lot of it is for WordPress blogs. One notable example is Guy Kawasaki. We build a friendship through Twitter. We eventually meet in real life #IRL at the 140 Conference and we continue to stay in touch.

I’ve worked on two design projects for him. A business card and Alltop Banners. I also help him with Alltop when it was first launched.

5. Over the years design has become more social with aggregation pages, embedded widgets, custom icons and sharing links as well as custom Twitter and Youtube pages. Are you getting more requests to create more social media friendly/optimized designs?

Yes, I do get more inquiries for design branding across all social media networks like Twitter backgrounds, Facebook, youtube, etc. I am not too sure if that interests me that much right now but I do like branding projects.

6. You’re an avid social media sharer and engager. What tools do you use for content curation and where do you get items to share from?

All this social media stuff is still pretty new to me that I don’t really have any tools I use for curation. I was using Twitter favorites for awhile. The way Twitter is now, it’s really hard getting to my older Tweets.

I have great followers that share great information. I also use Google Reader with all my favorite blogs and Alltop is very useful.

7. Sharing and engaging can take up a lot of time. How much time do you approximately put into each every day? Do you set aside time so you can work?

I would say 24/7 throughout the day and night. I think engaging and sharing is just part of my now. It’s hard for me to separate, gets harder everyday. I’m pretty addicted! I try to balance it, jumping back and fourth between work and play.

8. Do you automate any part of your process?

Nope, I am totally against automating social media and engagement. I still tweet and share everything manually. If you see me tweeting, it’s me live day or night.

9. Can you approximate how much business comes from social media referrals – from clients spreading the word online, from people coming across your social channel or otherwise?

It’s hard to say. I haven’t actively tried to get more clients or put the word out that I am available. I also assume people think I am too busy with clients to work with them. I may have to change that.

10. Since you have created a prominent presence in social media you have become an influencer to many. Can you describe what being an influencer means to you and to others who want to utilize your influence?

This thing about being an influencer is pretty mind blowing. I went from a Average Joe to this Twitter celebrity, pretty crazy. It’s fun being treated like a VIP and being approached by brands. I try to keep a level head about it.

I know I can build buzz at events or get more eyeballs on products. That is the reason why Brands approach me is because of my influence in that.

11. You’re pretty vocal about your support of Klout and all of their programs you’re involved in for brands. Is it just getting free stuff or have you seen any tangible outcome – personally, professionally or brand-wise?

Klout Perks are cool and fun. All the perks is a plus. I think Klout has seriously pushed my influence even higher. It’s the reason why I was in Forbes and other various articles. Everything was build on that, eventually Brands contacted me.

12. Has any engagement ever gone to another level beyond the initial engagement?

Yes, it has. I try to take that engagement to the next level. Meeting in real life #IRL. I love meeting my followers. It builds deeper friendship once you meet in person. It has been many.

13. Is there anything on your mind that you want to share with us?

It’s always about your followers, educate and share. Put them first. It’s not about you.

14. Before we go, what would you like to tell our readers? Feel free to give us all your vital info – websites, projects, social channels, anything you want to promote.

Look at question 13. :)

Website: www.mayhemstudios.com

Blog: www.mayhemstudios.com/blog

Twitter: @mayhemstudios

Facebook: mayhemstudios

A Timeline Of Brands That Got Skewered by Social Media And How You Can Avoid Doing The Same

By Perks |

Although social media is a great medium to connect with your customers in a faster more open forum, it can spiral out of control really quickly when not done properly. Examples of this below are the reason why you need an agency and an in-house liaison that can coordinate all incoming, outgoing, internal and external communications regardless if it’s social media, branding, marketing, pr or anything else. All communications of any sort will affect your brand and have a way of ending up on social networks whether you like it or not.

The rule of thumb in an unfortunate communications situation is this: commiserate, apologize, rectify, transcend. By commiserating you let the offended party know that you understand their hurt and validate it. This is much different than apologize where you take full responsibility for what has happened. After that you make sure you rectify the situation by actually fixing the issue at hand. But don’t just rectify the situation, transcend their expectations by going above and beyond. People expect you to fix what was broken. What they don’t expect is to get more than they started with. That’s how you ACTUALLY fix the situation.

Take a look at these examples of companies that ending up being skewered on social media and learn a thing or two from their mistakes.

A list of companies that were blind-sided by the internet, they didn’t understand the impacts of the power shift to the participants, or how fast information would spread, or were just plain ignorant.

Criteria of “Punk’d” includes a situation where the story would have not been told if social media was not available, or if social media enhanced the situation.  Read my exclusive interview with Greenpeace on Forbes.

This doesn’t include fake blogs, companies who deliberately tried to cheat the system get their own honorable mention.

Although this punk’d list is the one to stay off, the one you want to get on is the Groundswell awards.

Update: I’ve added severity status for some of these Punk’d using the Categorization of Brand Backlash Storms)


GoDaddy CEO Kills Elephant, Then Trampled by Crowd
Although GoDaddy is accustomed to controversial marketing tactics this incident actually loses customers. CEO Bob Parsons took a video of him on a hunt in africa and then proudly tweeted about killing problematic elephants. NGOs like PETA responded swiftly requesting customers shift to new domain registers yet Parsons rebuts them on Twitter. Competitors of GoDaddy offered to donate $1 to elephant funds and reportedly raised over $20,000. In a gesture of branding, Mr Parsons gives local Africans GoDaddy hats as they carve up carcass for food –further inciting criticism. The original video has been removed, after critics rally behind raising money for elephants. It’s so rare, but this incident receives a stronger category rating as actual revenues were directly impacted. (Category 4)

Exported from Detroit: Chrysler Fires Social Media Agency
Just as Chrysler received a very positive reaction from their superbowl ad “Imported from Detroit”, An accidental F-Bomb was released on the official Chrysler blog, which tarnishes the driving scene in Detroit. Since then the agency employee was since fired, and then the agency NMS was also fired. This is notable for a few reasons. 1) Mistakes happen, and companies that do make them often get better (Dell, Walmart, Comcast), part of social media is to fail forward, pick yourself up and move forward 2) There’s a debate if firing the employee or agency was really warranted, or if that was too extreme, see agency blog and comments, see Chrysler corporate blog. 3) The agency NMS desperately needs a Social Media Management System with workflow and keyword triggers to ensure there’s a review process. 4) Eminem is known for many F-bomb curses, and was prominently featured in the brand campaign, isn’t this consistent with the associative branding? 5) If Chrysler showed some humor, they may have emerged unscathed by then offering free driving classes to Detroit using Chrysler cars! (Category 3)

Kenneth Cole Brings Twitter Revolution to Front Door
In a self-promotional tweet that hijacked the world sensitive #cairo tag during the revolution, Kenneth Cole promotes their own spring lineup. I’m watching the Twitter backlash unfold and see blog posts emerging. No doubt this will turn to mainstream attention (update like HuffPo within 3 hours). What’s interesting is the inflammatory tweet (now deleted) came from a blackberry with “KC” tag, and then the apology Tweet used a “we”. Update: they removed the tweet and apologized on Facebook. (Category 3)


KFC employees Goes ‘Afoul’ over order request
This Australian KFC worker in the last of the 2010 punk’d listings goes ballistic after what looks like is being taunted by a customer who requests bacon, which is forbid during Islamic tradition during this period of Ramadan. In any case, it shows that consumers now can embarrass the company and employees by using simple mobile devices then putting on YouTube, which now has over 31k views. (Category 3)

Brandjacking: DKNY Stripped by PETA Anti-Fur Protesters
In a coordinated real world and online attack, PETA anti-fur protesters overtook the DKNY Facebook wall, with little or no resistance from corporate staff.  Taking a page from the successful Greenpeace assaults, PETA if catching on, although has yet to develop social assets that can be used by their community in the assault.  Expect PETA and other NGOs to continue to ramp up their sophistication in assaults, often much faster than brands are ready for.  Brandjackings are an interesting thing.  Brands spend millions on FB pages, yet PETA and Greenpeace can easily overrun investment. (Category 3)

Fonterra Dairy Soured: Brandjacked by Greenpeace, Commits Facebook Suicide
In a style similar to the Nestle’ social brandjacking campaigns, Greenpeace launches campaign at New Zealand based dairy corporation Fonterra’s apparent Facebook page.  Fonterra claimed not to manage this page, however the offensive videos and posts were removed.  Apparently, the entire Facebook page was eventually dismantled.(Category 3)

‘Cook Source’ Steals Recipe. Self-Immolates In Kitchen
A blogger by name of  Monica Gaudio found out that ‘Cook Source’ helped themselves to one of her 2005 recipes from her blog, did minor edits and the posted it on their own website as their own original content.  After confronting the editor of Cook Source, she was apparently told the blogger the content could be used anyway they wanted (sources conflict here).  Regardless, Cook Source experienced a groundswell on their social media properties like Facebook, a Hitler video, and resulted in a variety of critical articles (Google counts over 65 mainstream media articles). (Category 3)

Gap Falls Into Their Own Redesign Revolt
Gap Inc, puts forth a logo redesign, but is met with severe backlash from passionate fans, critics, and media on social media channels. There were thousands of comments, logo redesign websites, Twitter spoof accounts (over 4000 followers) and even Facebook accounts setup to lead this branding revolt and over 626 results in Google News on “Gap Logo” from mainstream press. We once thought logos were owned by the brand, but clearly we’re finding that the consumers take just as much ownership in the logo. Link via Roger Harris. (Category 3)

Bait and Switch: Pantene’s Cause Marketing Backfires
A lesson in transparency: A cause marketing style campaign was launched in the Philippines, asking women to get join a Facebook page called “I Commit to Change“. Once the members joined the independent ’cause’ Pantene unleashed its branding campaign, promoting their latest products as the agent of change. Feeling duped, the women fire back, launching blog salvos, and it remains a case study in South East Asia marketing case studies and beyond. The lesson? Be up front and clear about your intentions to consumers, or risk greater brand damage and reduced trust. As told to me from Donald Lim. (Category 2)

A Polished Apple: Mac Forums Censors Critics in Forums
A recent consumer reports publication critiques the iPhone4 as having faulty reception and antennae issues.  Although widely discussed online in a variety of locations, Apple community managers have apparently censored the discussion in their own community, which only exasperates the situation as they spread it to blogs.  Reading down this list, in many cases we see that censoring only makes the problem worse.  Instead, companies should see this as an opportunity –not a threat to be swept under the carpet. (Category 3)

Nestle’ Sours their Facebook Page
Nestle, which has been under attack from Greenpeace members for sustainability issues has gone under attack.  Apparently, junior members of Nestle’s staff (or PR firm) asked members not to mis-use the logos or risk being banned from the Facebook page.  After some arguing, a groundswell overtook the page and there are thousands of critical comments, some of the ‘rudeness’ and some demanding sustainable products and threatening boycotts.   There are two major issues here:  A PR crises regarding rain forests and sustainability, and social media best practices. Update: Read my analysis (Category 3)

iPunk’d: Mainstream News Falls for iPad “Beta Tester” Hoax
Flamboyant CEO and internet celebrity Jason Calacanis tweeted he was an early beta-tester for iPad, and ‘leaked’ out fake specs.  Mainstream media, who were hungry to break any news, published mis-stories, with a variety of accuracies. Among the over zealous journalists includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, CNN Money, Reuters, Macworld, ComputerWorld, and Joystiq (couldn’t find article), more from Valleywag. Just goes to show that any lead is a story worth starting, fact checking not required, and Jason knows how to catch a media wave. (Category 2)

Cleanup in Aisle 8: Digital Fingerprints Exposes Wal-Mart’s Paid Supporter
A vocal online supporter of Wal-Mart opening in Chicago was allegedly unearthed ties back to Wal-Mart’s PR firm. In an era of digital footprints, the IP address was matched to the agency that represents Wal-Mart, the Chicagoist has some of the alleged discussion, on display. There’s three lessons here: 1) transparency in fiduciary relationships isn’t only ethical, it’s probably the law, when lobbying for a company while on payroll on the web (although FTC regulations tend to be fuzzy in my opinion) 2) This erodes trust of communities and the social web. 3) It’s disappointing to see Wal-Mart (or it’s partners) on this list again (see below) this is a good time to send a disclosure memorandum to all agency partners. (Category 2)


Pepsi’s AMP iPhone App Encourages Guys To Score –Yet Results in a Penalty
Pepsi’s AMP brand which caters to young males created an iPhone application that arms studs with pickup lines for different categories of women.  This application gives young men to categorize women (geek, cougar, band girl and beyond) and offers pickup lines, useful information to relate to them and a ‘scoring’ system after they’ve done the deed.  Unfortunately, a groundswell emerged from blogs and mainstream press forcing Pepsi’s hand to remove the app –and the offensive material. (Category 3)

Honda Product Manager Crashes Into His Own Comments
An overzealous product manager at Honda promotes his own product but fails to disclose his own relationship with the company –till the community calls him out. Honda responds by sheepishly removing his posts, due to lack of disclosure and not being a company representative. It should be recognized that every employee is a representative of the company –official or not. What’s needed? Training, internal policies, and a safe place to practice. (Category 2)

Digerati Dooce Sends Maytag/Whirlpool to the Cleaners
Consumer activism or celebrity abuse?  Popular blogger and Twitterati (over 1 million followers) had problems with her brand new Whirlpool machine and took to her social tools to discuss, complain, and suggest a boycott till her machine was fixed, read her chronicle, and what happened next as it spread to Forbes.  Not sure what Whirlpool could have done to avoid this –all customer experiences good and bad are exposed on the social web, how does a brand know when they’re talking to an influencer?  They don’t. (Category 3)

Property Manager Sues Over Moldy Tweet –Infecting Their Own Brand
A tenent in a Chicago apartment who had 20 followers in Twitter was sued by property manager for saying: “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s OK.” is being sued for $50k for defamation.  As a result, this incident has received global attention on the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and major news outlets.  This may have caused self-damage to Horizon as prospective customers may search Google for Horizon and see how they publically sued a customer.  Horizon later issued a statement regarding their intention to “sue first, ask questions later” (Category 3)

Decrescendo For United Airlines After “Breaking Guitar” Song
A musican scorned is a scary thing –add YouTube and the whole world can see.   Dave Carroll claims he saw United baggage handlers toss his custom guitar, then complained with no resolution.  He turned to what he knows best, and created a song and shared it with the world.  More from LA times who says that after the song started to get popular, United changed their tune from minor chords to major, thanks to Mark for submitting. (Category 3)

Fire Sale: Furniture Company Habitat Self-Evicts on Twitter

Stylish furninture maker Habitat jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, but this time, tags it’s self-promotionary tweets with popular trending topics such as the Iran election.  What’s this the same as?  Parasite marketing.   As a result, the Twitter community strikes back, and Habitat retreats.  To their defense, they’re just the ones that got called out -there’s a bunch of spammers doing this now.  Thanks Mark for the submission (Category 2)

Contest for Bloggers Results in Asus Losing
Computer manufacturer Asus hosted a sponsored contest where bloggers could review their products –then the community could vote on the best review.  Asus, not happy with the honest (but not that shiny review) review from one blogger, decided to shift the rules to benefit a more positive review.  Backlash ensues, read comments, link via Ian Fogg (Category 2)

Snotty Dominos Employees YouTube Themselves To Court
Millions are grossed out by two Dominos employees who uploaded a video to YouTube of them blowing snot on pizzas at a Dominos stores. Interestingly, the crowd was able to pinpoint their location, they’ve now been fired and are facing felony charges, NYTs has more. Thanks to Josh for the tip. (Category 3, and perhaps 4 if this doesn’t get cleaned up)

Buying Friends? Belkin pays for Positive Reviews
This scandal leaves consumers not sure if they can trust the positive reviews about Belkin products. As one employee offered to pay users of Amazon’s Mechnical Turk to write positive reviews. As Belkin was exposed, they issued a mea culpa suggesting this was an isolated event, but now, it’s suggested that these orders came from executives. (Category 2, yet if the Fed gets involved, it go to Category 3 or 4)


Motrin Gets Headache From Twittering Moms
A well-intended Motrin ad launched towards baby carrying moms triggered them to revolt on twitter. On this quiet weekend it spread to blogs, YouTube, and then mainstream press. Some argue the moms were acting more like a mob, Motrin didn’t test it’s copy with the target audience up front –leaving everyone with a splitting headache. (Category 2)

CNN Falls For Rumor –Sinking Apple Stock
A rumor created by community created news site iReport that falsified CEO Steve Jobs having a heart attack spread to mainstream media website CNN, and caused a dip in stock price. User generated content will always have the risk of falsified content. (Category 4)

Exxon Mobil Brandjacked in Twitter
The twitter community (myself included) was eager to embrace “Janet” a no holds barred up front in your face corporate representative that was ready to tackle the hard issues –sometimes without grace. Unfortunately, to the Twittersphere’s surprise and Exxon, Janet, is not an official company representative she claimed to be. Read the story to unravel the multiple angles to this unique case. (Category 2)

JC Penney Brandjacked by Fake “Sex” Ad
We’re seeing more ads being created. In this case a ‘third party vendor’ (agency, I think) created this and submitted it to Cannes. JC Penney wasn’t happy and had it removed from YouTube. Unfortunately, blogs picked it up and it will never go away, video is here, I know you want to click. (Category 2)

Louis Vuitton gets Brandjacked in Anti-Genocide Campaign
Artist creates and sells T-shirt demonstrating how the media turns a deaf ear to real world tradgeies such as genocide in Dafur, infringing on LV logo. LV fires back, with lawsuit, a groundswell begins. Submitted by Søren Storm Hansen (Category 2)

Burger King exec trash talks using daughter’s email
Not sure why he didn’t just create a new email address, that would have been a lot safer. Submitted by Hilker. (Category 3)

Johnson and Johnson to bloggers: Hurry up and get dis-invited
Sounds like a mis-coordination, bad timing, and not a well thought through process that ended up getting scobleized, and Maryamized. (Category 2)

Anonymous Unmasks Church of Scientology
The church of Scientology has been criticized by an anonymous group, a faceless mass that has created videos, staged marches and protests, and is subvert the Church from around the internet. (Category 2)

Marvel nearly cuts of bloggers from Iron Man screening
Techcrunch (700,000 + subscribed) who intended to host a screening for loyal tech readers (perhaps a perfect audience of tech bloggers) were cut off by Marvel. Techcrunch is known for copy and pasting legal notes right onto the blog, fortunatly, things were quickly resolved. (Category 2)

Target-ed by Bloggers
A blogger complained about an indecent ad that portrayed as demeaning to women, complained and was shoved off by a Target representative. Story now on NYTimes, little things, can be big.


Target’s Rounders program “This is our secret game”

Target encouraged it’s premier members in the rounders program to pump up it’s brand in a Facebook group, sadly, the covert operation ended up on blogs and then mainstream media

HD DVD Decoded by Digg, unDugg, then Dugg again
Digg users publish HD code, industry freaks out, Digg maintains stance.

Wholefoods CEO caught being a troll
Whole Foods CEO, was anonymously trashing competitors and pumping company up on Yahoo finance boards. (Category 3)

Delta holds customers hostage
What’s worse than being held prisoner on Delta’s dirty plane? (Video), watching the crew getting off da plane. Oh, and no food, crying babies, but one talented videographer. (Category 3)

Taco Bell’s infestation crawls into YouTube
A minor rat problem moved it’s way to YouTube, spreading faster and farther than expected, a total of more than one million views for all videos. Submitted by Graham Hill (Category 3)

Facebook Party with Molson ends up with Hangover
Molson invited folks to share party pics in Facebook, including with youth, which resulted in a backlash from community and parents. Molson withdrew the campaign and went home early –no more Facebook partying for this brand.


Data storage blogger posts industry price lists, sales reps cry f#ck!
Robin Harris, one of the most well known of the data storage blogosphere posts price lists that were received from various customers.

Dell Laptop Explodes, news at 11 –via YouTube
More bad news for Dell, as laptops explode in Japan, all can see online.

ZZZ… Comcast suffers from Narcolepsy
Sleepy Techician caught on YouTube, then fired. Also see Comcast must die blog, submitted by Jeff Jarvis. (Category 3)

Hitachi “Hell” Gets The Finger
Angry customer gets bad service, writes long experience, and flips off HQ in picture, he’s also an influencer in the gaming community. (Category 2)

The Naked NOKA Chocolate Uncovered
A premium chocolatier (Noka) had a tremendous markup ($309- $2,080 per pound) of their secretly re-packaged chocolate, was exposed as a fraud and spread on blogs. And their google results is really painful. Submitted by Whitney.

AOL Holds Customers Hostage –Then Gets Canceled
This guy really bothers me, I can see why Vincent Ferrari was miffed. It’s clear, he was dealing with the customer retention department. Nothing worse than the feeling of being held hostage. Submitted by David Alston.

Airplane Fiasco’s Spread Online: JetBlue
There are so many examples, such as a YouTube testimonial about JetBlue’s 8+ hours stranded in terminal. Related: JetBlue’s CEO responds after flights are cut months later due to storm.

Starbucks Brandjacked by YouTube Video
Who wants a tasty frappuccino when there are kids starving? This was one of the first cases of brandjacking we saw.


Why we Dwell on Dell Hell
Jeff Jarvis launches blog post that sends a flurry of PR negativty at Dell’s poor service, it’s since been improved.(Category 3)


Kryptonite unlocked
Locks were disabled using a simple bic pen cap, spread on forums and blogs, one of the earliest examples that got mainstream attention. (Category 3)

Wives of EA beg for spouses back on blog
Call HR? Forget it, call Livejournal. This early incident from a wife of a game developer complains on a blog –getting national attention from press and media. As a result, EA did make some changes to their work and lifestyles of their employees. (Category 3)


The Barbera Streisand Effect
Singer star tries to remove content from internet, it all goes downhill from there. I actually learned about this from reading my colleagues Groundswell book (Category 2)


Apple’s dirty little secret plastered over NYC
Apparently, 18 months is all the iPod will run before you’ll need to buy a new one, says this video, where street teams went around defacing ads. Submitted by David Churbuck (I got his name right this time)