What’s your coachability score?

January 6, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The world is moving faster, powered by information.

Keep up by being coachable.

I know the U.S. has education issues. See Waiting for “Superman.”

But there have never been more quality teachers available.

On YouTube, on Twitter, we can take courses at the best institutions in the world.

One suggestion is to concern yourself not with how many are following you, but who you are following.

When I’m reading and notice a smart comment, I follow the source on Twitter and read what he or she is reading.

We can learn from everyone and we can now learn from the best.

And don’t forget to thank your teachers.

What’s your coachability score?

Are our Facebook profiles stealing our identities?

June 11, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

We tell our life story to the world and to ourselves. We think about it, we write it down, we share. This is my name, this is my job, this is my role, this is what I believe, this is something I like. And we think that’s us.

Asian. American. Minnesotan. Male. 34. Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Buddhist. Engineer. Failed architect. Successful entrepreneur. Lover of novels. Healthy. 329 friends on Facebook. Likes the Twins, ice fishing, golf, adidas originals, the Clash.

These can all be true but is this really anyone? The more we allow our minds to absorb the material and the external about us as who we are, the less we may be willing to explore further to find our own individual essences.

Narcissus by Caravaggio

This is easier to do now because of how we are “forced” to tell our stories these days.  All of the social networks have similar blanks, depending on the site’s focus: business, sports, religion, politics, family. The forms dictate the ends: a series of boxes for us to fill in with “ourselves.” They push and mold us to fit, and in that act we become homogenized and less true to our real self.

With all of our information kept on one page and viewed multiple times a day by our Facebook “friends,” Linked-In associates, all our subscriptions, etc., it seems like constantly looking in the mirror and saying, “Yes that’s me.”

But is it?

I have heard, “This is only my virtual self.” But do others see that? Do we really see that as we move from page to page, hypnotized by the repetition and familiarity?

With all the talk of privacy invasion – this is theft. Spiritual identity theft.  And it’s not Facebook but we who are the culprits! Whoever we are. (I have on my profile “I am funny,” so I added this.)

Seems this is the contemporary story of Narcissus. Instead of water reflecting our image, we get our digital reflection bouncing back in bits and pixels. Nowadays that information is instantly spread through our networks and so more untrue reflections of our false self are causing mass confusion.

The latest advancement in social technology is the “Like” button. Seems fine on the outside, but having my likes counted, monitored, and housed by Facebook and sometimes  distributed to marketers furthers the solidification of my false self. I can see that it will better help them be relevant in marketing to the “me” of my profile but, in the end, I don’t believe there can be a virtual self.

I should thank Facebook for making me ask, “Who am I?”

Now, as I ponder, I am wishing there was a multiple choice box to fill in.

Nah, I’d never fit.

Does keeping up just keep us on the surface?

June 8, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Excuse me, I just gotta check my email, phone, laptop, Facebook, Twitter, blogs…

It’s the constant stimulation, the news, the new news, the newest news, news before it’s news.

I wonder if the constant updates offer more data, more links, but in its completeness doesn’t allow time or room for much reflection?

It seems to be an issue of time and attention and intention. Like fast food compared to a more complete dinner. (Full disclosure: I love fast food and its bright, plastic, optimistic, transitory environs. I take my work there and spend hours, mindlessly munching, not remembering.)

A couple of questions: How much time would you allot to read a traditional newspaper article? Would that change if the same article was online? Same question for a news post?

How long do you think you remember an article you read in Time Magazine compared to a post you read on CNET.com?

Varying lengths and issues of the articles aside, my guess is the quicker the read, the less invested in time and intellectual capital, the less retained. And that the posts, even comments and tweets keep us up to speed with what’s going on but not deeply.

Informed but not.

Quick chats with friends are essential for the relationship, just as the fast info-sharing is critical to keep us in touch with the present.

But let’s not forget the rewards of deep, long, meandering conversations.

The ones that keep you full and you remember for a lifetime.

The Ever-Evolving Social Network

May 17, 2010

By Fiona Beitdashtoo, Business Manager @ NYCA

Over the past few weeks Facebook has made some major changes affecting its users’ experiences. We’re playing around with them here at the agency.


Users will now be asked if they “like” a page (brand, product, cause, public figure, etc.) rather than “become a fan” of a page. This decision to re-name the “fan” function contradicts the idea of building community. When Facebook users had the ability to “become a fan,” it gave them the sense of joining something special. Whether a cause, car brand, favorite restaurant, athlete, or idea, Facebook users were comfortable saying – “yeah I’m a fan.” Now, with the ability to merely “like” a page, the idea of being a part of a niche community has become diluted.

Still, don’t underestimate the viral “fan” power that Facebook still has despite the change in semantics. In this changing Facebook environment, marketers should fuel conversation on the pages that they administer and around the social network by providing content that matters to the people. Cool content rules because:

  • when people comment on your content, Facebook alerts that person’s network that they interacted with your page by posting that activity on the homepage wall.
  • it gives you a good reason to continually touch advocates. Tip: Whenever you post cool content on your page, announce it via a status post!  By doing this you will alert that person who “likes” you, and their network of friends. If the content you are promoting is region-specific you can geo-target your status posts!
  • you can use this content to develop Facebook ads. Homepage sponsor ads, while they can be expensive, do provide marketers with power to share rich content such as video with people who may not know your page even existed. These ads are a great opportunity to give people who should “like” your page a taste of the great content they can experience if they opt-in.


Facebook is now giving users the opportunity to link their interests from their personal profiles to pages within Facebook. Facebook suggests which pages a person should link to. With thousands of pages on Facebook, the chances a person will be matched with an “official” page versus a page created by an Average Joe is to be determined. My guess is that Facebook serves the page suggestion based on what page is most popular (meaning has the most people who “like” it), or algorithms based on key words.

So now applying SEO strategies in the Facebook environment is essential. Marketers can do this by integrating their brand’s key words in content created for their page. Key areas for SEO key word integration are:

  • Company bio
  • Product description
  • Photo descriptions and Photo album names
  • “Notes” posts
  • Status posts

To increase the number of people who “like” your page, we recommended that companies engage in both paid and earned media opportunities. The paid media (Facebook ads) will drive traffic to your page, and the earned media (content you create for your page) will keep people there and hopefully inspire them to share your brand page’s content with their friends.

Let’s face it… Facebook is ever-evolving. It’s creating a dynamic environment for people to stay connected to people and brands. We’ll keep you posted with our POV on future developments.

Be Real. Be Transparent. Unmask Yourself.

April 5, 2010

By Gabrielle Windsor, Director of Digital Strategy @ NYCA

Photo Cred: hiway7

Black and white. Transparency is important. Straight up honesty is the best policy. All descriptions of how my brain often sees things. I’m not the only one – the FCC has recently ruled that bloggers must expose their affiliations or relationships with brands. This is something the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA.org) has been advocating for years. Something I completely agree with.

No charlatans, no posers, no freaking liars. Don’t talk to me about ‘seeding’ message boards. Please. In honor and reverence I’ve cooked up a meme AKA #hashtag to quickly and easily indicate if communications and/or sharing are related to a brand that I’m somehow working with: #rep. Short and sweet, the hashtag #rep should be easy to remember – “Hey! I’m a representative of this brand in some capacity and wanted to be straight up about it.”  So, let’s all ‘represent’ and spread the word. #rep. #word.

Yesterday we interviewed a candidate and someone else showed up.

March 3, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The senior writer had his site up in our conference room. Six of us walked in for our usual group probe. At NYCA, we surround candidates like Disney hyenas. “What was the strategy behind the creative? How did the work perform? What would you do now to make it better? What’s your work process with other departments? With clients? What are your thoughts on consumer generated content and also social media?” All that stuff.

Suddenly up popped an instant message from a Facebook friend: “Yo.” We all laughed; well, one of us didn’t – she was texting on her Blackberry and missed the moment. A causality of time shifting. The candidate’s instinct was to shut it off and get back to his pitch. “NO! Wait!” we said. “Tell him you’re in an interview.” The candidate good-naturedly followed the pack. We found out the fb-er was an art director in Chicago. “Ask him to tell us something about your work,” we dared. The Chicagoan im-ed back a cheeky, “Good or bad?” At our urging, the candidate wrote: “The truth.”

There was a sticky moment of tension, the kind you get when you’re on the verge of something that could go either way. We waited. “You’re a solid writer” came up. That’s it? Really? In an interview, you say “solid” about your fb friend? Maybe it’s easier to be honest or inconsiderate screen-to-screen than checking references on the phone? But what if it was a set up all along? What if the fb-er Chicago art director had raved – would that have influenced us more? More than if he’d said the same thing later on a call? What is the persuasion value of in-the-moment testimony? There are possibilities here to change the dynamic of the interview by bringing along a posse. The point is today you can.

The lines and boundaries are forever blurring. Editorial is really ads, ads show up as content, personal conversations are corporately sponsored, friends are purchased or bartered for, so why can’t intimate business meetings turn into a large social events on behalf of a business decision?

We went back and forth some more; it was just too novel to stop. We even started interviewing the art director. As for the writer, the intruder event didn’t appear to sway us one way or the other. This time.

It just shows how accessible we all are now. Even in the protected space of an interview we can be found. And perhaps be found out. We’ve all checked on candidates, future bosses, blind dates and companies through social networks before and after we meet. Guess now we can consider doing it as we meet. It’s a collision of the virtual and the real – though sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.

I’ll never forget that interview and the writer’s work was pretty good too.

Building Brands through Social Networking:Part 1

August 20, 2009

By Kevin Breid, Business Management and Development Intern @NYCA

By now we have reached a point where the majority of internet users are at least aware of Twitter and Facebook.  Their endorsement and utility are expanding exponentially.  Facebook alone hosts 250 million users.  Nearly half of those users log on to the site at least once every day.  The same goes for Twitter, with estimates stating they have increased by near 20 million users since the beginning of the year.  In the past two months alone, an incredible number of internet users went from having only theoretical knowledge of Twitter to becoming regular tweeters.

social_circles_2Only a couple years ago, these social media sites did not even appear on anyone’s radar.  Now, Facebook, Twitter, and the form of communication they provide are becoming part of everyday life.  Facebooking, tweeting, and texting (which is essentially the basis for Twitter) are quickly approaching a status of necessity and functionality that rivals the cell phone and e-mail.

So how are brands getting into the networking game?  Interaction.  By participating in social media sites and interacting directly with consumers, we can find out what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, and what their needs are.  Beyond metrics and results, we can begin to engage consumers on an individual basis. In return, they have the opportunity to connect with us, speak their minds, and ultimately feel important and even influential. 

A small business, like a privately owned restaurant, can send a message to their regulars through Twitter if, for example, they have a new entrée on their menu.  A regular can then tweet back after dinner and offer their opinion and feedback.  Likewise, larger corporations can give a face to an otherwise seemingly impersonal monster.  Consistent, personal dialogue of this sort can give life to a brand and permit patrons to feel legitimately that you are investing as much in their interests and concerns as they are investing in your company with their loyalty. 

These methods of networking are still new and constantly progressing, but symbiotic brand-and-consumer relationships of this kind could do great things for companies who are willing to open up to their audience and communicate.

Social Media Revolution

August 17, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive @NYCA

Social media is about communication.  Whether peer-to-peer or brand-to-fans.

The future of social media for marketers is being able to segment their fans and communicate to them with relevant topics and extend targeted offers.


August 4, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive, NYCA.  gpaek@nyca.com; http://www.nyca.com

The year was 1999.  My neighbor was selling his home.  No realtor, no MLS listing.  Just a sign that read “For Sale By Owner.”  By the end of the day, he received five offers.  All over asking price.  The winning bid by a jogger that just happened to see the sign passing by.  Back then, home sellers sat back for buyers to find them.  In today’s real estate market, it’s the complete opposite.  Home sellers need to find buyers.

Same thing happening with brands and their websites.  Back in 1999, building a web site was pretty much the bullet point for their “Interactive Strategy” slide.  But in today’s digital space, brands need to understand the digital space means more than just a website and online advertising.  Today’s consumers are finding necessary product information in a variety of ways (search, retailer sites, blogs, apps and rich media formats).  

Don’t get me wrong.  Brand still need a web destination.  A home in the digital space.  However, brands also need to venture out and find consumers where they’re consuming their media.  I call this fish where the fish are fishing.

Social media sites are great fishing spots. I hear many brands talk about social media sites and their fear of “diving in” because they’re not sure if a particular social media site will be popular next year.  I always give the analogy of top network TV shows: who knows what next year will bring, but you will always find success placing media in a current hit TV show.  Seinfeld lasted for 9 seasons while The Brady Bunch only lasted 5 seasons.  However, both are considered iconic.  Note: I was under the impression that The Brady Bunch was still filming episodes.bradybunch
In today’s social space, Facebook and Twitter are iconic social platforms that brands can leverage.  But leveraging these platforms the right way is key. It’s not about a destination for your brand, as these platforms are about communications between your brand and its consumer.  Who knows for how long these sites will be mainstays, but what we know is that both destinations are growing.  And probably growing stronger than a particular brands own website.  

eRetail is another untapped fishing spot.  It’s equally as important to leverage eRetail strategies to educate consumers about your products and influence purchase for your brand.  For example, if a consumer is looking for a new food processor to buy (non-search), do you think they will visit Target.com or Sunbeam.com?  Chances are Target.com. Thus, the opportunity for a brand like Sunbeam to develop content specific for Target.com shoppers and feature that content on Target.com (as opposed to driving users to their site) will provide better results in the end.  Results meaning sales.

Brands simply cannot rely on just driving users to their own brand site to find success in the digital space.  Brands can no longer wait for consumers to visit them, instead, brands need to go out and find their consumers.  Just like the Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan and Cindy once sang, it’s “Time to Change.”  http://bit.ly/GdNQe