FutureMidwest 2010 (#FMW10) Inspired A Social Media Revolution In Metro Detroit

One of the reasons why FutureMidwest 2010 is important for our economy is because it is one of the first events out of several that will spark a social media revolution in Michigan. Detroit, Michigan is a city that is 12 miles away from the conference, which brought a sentimental vibe to the event. Everyone knows that the city of Detroit is down, but not out.

For those of us that are from the suburbs of Detroit, one of our biggest pet peeves is putting down the city. Especially because cars, Google, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, commercial malls, the first urban freeway, Motown music, the world’s first soda (Vernor’s), and individual phone numbers all have roots to Detroit, Michigan.

Its the year 2010: a year where you can make connections on a whim using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, etc. The effect that these technologies has on a city with a strong work ethic and drive to make it was highlighted in a conference called FutureMidwest 2010, created by Adrian Pittman (WeAreModule), Jordan Wolfe (Journelism.org), and Zach Lipson (Leftos.com). I did an interview with Wolfe and Pittman early last month.

On April 16th, I walked up to the Royal Oak Music Theater and saw a sign to be proud of (pictured below). The wireless connection was a bit unstable so I made sure to take as many pictures, notes, and videos as possible. And my goal is to share them here so that if you missed the conference, you will still learn something.

Below is the list of speakers in consecutive order and the topic that they chose to focus on. Since I’m writing this about a week after the conference took place, I’m relying on my short-term memory and notes for help.

If you were one of the presenters and I turned out to be way off, please let me know in the comments. I’ll be sure to correct anything I get wrong.

Joseph Jaffe

The first speaker was Joe Jaffe (pictured above), Chief Interruptor of Powered. Jaffe talked about the Customer Service Manifesto [PDF]. Jaffe started his own strategic consulting practice called crayon, which was acquired by Powered.

One of my favorite slides from Jaffe’s presentation is The 10 New Rules of Customer Service. To read more about it, the PDF download above is a must-read. Below is a spoiler of what to expect:
1. Customer service doesn’t end at 5pm on a Friday
2. Move from “everything communicates” to “everyone communicates.”
3. All customers are equal, but some are more equal than others
4. Customer service is not only about solving problems.
5. Customer service lives “in the now.”
6. Customer service can be a revenue generator (example: Apple Genius bars)
7. Customer service lives in the public domain.
8. Customer service needs a memory.
9. Customer service needs to be proactive and anticipatory.
10. Customer service is alive.

It is also worth checking out Jaffe on Twitter at @jaffejuice and on his blog JaffeJuice.com.

Tim Schaden

Tim Schaden is the CEO of Fluency Media and he discussed The Key to Making Online Integration Work in Any Business.

For those of you that are familiar with the Pure Michigan campaign, Fluency Media was behind it. Some of the main goals behind the Pure Michigan campaign was to have a small PPC budget, double SEO, inform people through e-mail about the campaign, make sure that social media is seeded as part of the campaign, reveal conversion opportunities, and sync with traditional ads.

Today Pure Michigan has been running for about 3 years, the campaign is the #1 state social media program, and there has been about a 300% e-mail database growth rate. Fluency is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can follow Schaden on Twitter at @fluencymedia or follow him on his blog at fluencymedia.com/blog/.

Scott Monty

Scott Monty is the Global Digital & Communications Manager at Ford Motor Company.

Monty started his presentation by showing a Fast Company article entitled How Ford’s Sync Technology Will Turn It Into America’s Most Surprising Consumer Electronics Company.

Monty pointed out that Ford had a product led recovery—brands were shed, money was poured into R&D, and there was a reduction of global nameplates — There were 94 name plates around the world and now there is 20. Ford now abides by four pillars — quality, safety, green, and technology.

Monty talked about how Ford MyFord Touch has 2 five-way switches on the steering wheel for controlling communication, media, iPods, etc. The dashboard can also be personalized. After talking about MyFord Touch, Monty showed a video where Ford asked owners what they think about the new experiences in cars. I would upload the video, but some of it could be confidential. If I find them online later, I will post it here.

Monty said that Ford has seen a lot of success in social media thus far, but a lot still has to be done. “Everyone’s grandmother says you have one mouth and two ears, use them in that order.” Monty said we should listen to more customers. After all, how do we know what customers want unless we are listening to them?

Ford created a Facebook application that asked people what they are doing for the environment. The Facebook application hit about 200,000 users. One of the most unique responses was that one person wrote that he took water that he used for boiling hot dogs and watered his plants with them.

Ford is working with Apple Inc. subsidiary Quattro Wireless to give people rich experiences that go beyond a mobile application. The company has also been on a cost cutting spree. Monty does not even have business cards printed, but it should be easy enough to find him on the Internet anyway.

The presentation concluded by Monty showing an inspirational video of one of the Ford Mustang’s biggest fans. Below is a video of Roger Keeney, who has been blind for 20 years driving a Mustang.
Part 1

Part 2

You can follow Scott on Twitter at @ScottMonty or check out his blog at ScottMonty.com.

Beth Harte

Beth Harte is the Senior Subject Matter Expert of Digital Marketing at Serengeti Communications. She gave a presentation entitled “Public Relations: It’s No Longer About Just The Media, It’s About People.” Beth Harte’s blog The Harte of Marketing was featured in AdAge’s Power 150 for top media and marketing blogs.

Harte focused her presentation by talking about the 7 areas of PR. These include media relations (interact with journalists), advertising, publicity, public affairs (government/community relations), issues management/crisis communications, lobbying, and investor relations.

Interacting with journalists does not mean blasting an e-mail out and calling it a day. It is important to main relationships with them. Brands also care about how consumers are reacting to their advertisements and the type of publicity that they are receiving on the Internet. Social media makes it even more easier to do so.

You can follow Beth at @BethHarte and on her blog at TheHarteOfMarketing.

Blagica Bottigliero

Blagica Bottigliero is the Manager of Emerging Media and Measurement of Edelman Digital. She is an Emmy-winning blogger. The presentation that she gave was titled “Growing Community, One Blog At A Time.”

I liked Blagica’s presentation because it was in story-format. The first slide was “Once upon a time, a metro Detroit gal moved to Chicago- and didn’t know a soul.” She was laid off in 2001 from a company called Giant Step. Then she joined Orbitz when it was a start-up.

After that Blagica decided to take a major step by quitting her job for a year and traveling to France to learn about the culture.

When she came back, she bought a condo in Chicago and started writing a blog about things to do in the city of Chicago. The blog started growing at a rapid pace and eventually led to a big city-focused guide for women.

The publication was branded Gals’ Guides and events followed shortly after. Gals’ Guide started in Chicago and scaled to other cities such as San Francisco, Washington D.C., NYC, Boston, Indiana, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Diego, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Fairfield County, and Los Angeles.

Gals’ Guides also partnered with businesses such as Banana Republic and MetroMix for a fashion show planned on May 4.

You can follow Blagica on Twitter at @Blagica and check out her blog at Blagica.com. Gals’ Guide is located at GalsGuide.com.

Henry Balanon, Bickbot and Damian Rintelmann, Hart Associates

Henry Balanon of Bickbot (pictured left) and Damian Rintelmann of Hart Associates (pictured right) spent about 20 minutes having an informal conversation called The Mobile Rundown. It reminded me of the run-down of topics discussed on ESPN’s SportsCenter. The topics included location based tools, iPhone vs. Android vs. World, Has mobile changed our lifestyles?, SMS still playing a role?, the iPad, and favorite mobile strategy.

The discussion was pretty informal, yet informative. They talked about how Foursquare really blew up at the SXSW conference and Henry mentioned a website that shows when a good time to rob people would be because Foursquare is telling friends that they are not home. Pretty scary stuff.

Henry often speaks at mobile conferences around the world and he blogs on a website called Two Hungry Dudes. You can follow him on Twitter at @balanon.

Damian is a part of iDetroit, an organization that helps encourage the culture of Detroit to shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing. You can follow him on Twitter at @drintellman.

Christopher Barger

Barger gave a presentation about Diluting Haterade: The Social Web in Crisis Management and Reputation Repair. He is the director of social media at General Motors. He was one of the people behind sponsoring teams from around the U.S. to have a road trip to SXSW and blog/tweet along the way. The presentation was very focused on how GM responds to social media.

The slides include The Social Web in Reputational Repair, Listen to your Audience, Listen to your critics-and engage, expand customer service, open up, redefine “influence,” Experiment and be willing to fail-publicly, take the high road, and in the end: just provide value.

Barger talked about GM’s presence at SXSW too. At the conference, GM provided Camaro and Corvette ride and drives, a “Volt Recharge Lounge” at the Austin Convention Center. They had battery charging stations, SoBe juice, and OnStar Volt mobile app demos. There was a “Catch A Chevy” shuttle and taxi service around Austin. GM partnered with Gowalla for location-aware brand interaction.

Here are some social media stats about GM’s presence at SXSW:
– 61,102,000 extremely positive social web impressions.
-15,924 online mentions including 13,440 tweets, 1,216 blog posts, 1,268 other posts (including comments, photos, and videos)
– 33,500 page views through Facebook and ChevySXSW.com
-More than 300 pieces of positive user-generated content posted to ChevySXSW.com
– During the SXSW activation, the number of fans on Chevy’s Facebook page went up 12.7%
– @Chevrolet Twitter followers up 68% in 1 month
– More than 250 traditional media placements generated more than 80 million impressions (including CNET, USA Today, AdAge, Detroit Free Press, WXYZ-TV, etc.).

You can communicate with Barger on Twitter @cbarger or @gmblogs. You can also read him on GM’s Fastlane Blog and GMReinvention.com.

Evan Gotlib

Evan used to work at Conde Nast, Time Inc., and The Walt Disney Corporation. He is known for his passion in ad sales and loves to work with marketers. His current position is the VP of Ad Sales at Blip.tv.

Gotlib pointed out that Blip.tv currently has about 50,000 shows with 80 million views, and about 24 million uniques per month. Blip.tv allows content creators to find a potential audience, seamlessly monetize their videos through ads, and manage shows.

Blip.tv’s requires content creators to consistently put out new content and engage viewers every day. A quote that I liked from one of Evan’s slides is: “Authenticity trumps production values EVERY time!”

Several companies approached Blip.tv video content producers for developing commercials at a cost that is much less than professional studios. The companies includes Carl’s Jr., Samsung and Chili’s. One of the videos that was produced for Chili’s costed only $700 and you can view it on Facebook here.

You can follow Evan on Twitter at @evandgotlib and check him out on the Blip.tv blog.

Samuel Valenti IV

Sam Valenti is the founder and CEO of Ghostly International. He gave a presentation called Transforming Brands on the Social Web.

Sam grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and had a high interest in how the city became a hub for techno music. He first started DJing at the age of 15 and gave himself the alias DJ Spaceghost.

The theme of his presentation was picket fences. Groupies. 19th Century Loggers.

The picket fences was an allusion to Wilson from the show Home Improvement. Picket fences symbolized the tenets of “Wilsonism,” or being relevant, available, kind, and consistent. A quote that Valenti used in a slide was by Warren Buffett — “In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable ‘moats.” Valenti also recommended reading a book called Futuretainment by Mike Walsh.

His business needed a vision after hitting a dip. Valenti was inspired by Ann Arbor-based Zingerman’s business model. Zingerman’s long-term vision was 1.) stay in Michigan 2.) servant leadership and 3.) service about all else. After his business stuck with a certain vision, the followers (groupies) came after.

The last theme was about 19th century loggers. Michigan is a beacon of dip endurance and is known as the land of the lakes and the land of trees. Michigan’s first ecstatic fringe was logging. By the mid-1900’s, Michigan was #1 for logging timber, but as the industry grew–Michigan fell to 16th place. Michigan’s 2nd phase in the early 1900’s was the internal combustion engine. The assembly line encouraged music and racial boundaries were removed as a result.

As the city began to influence new technology, a generation that grew up on Motown started to embrace techno music. Michigan is starting to regroup with $2 billion in annual investment going into life sciences research and development. There will be a $3.2 billion investment in battery technology over the next 5 years. The state will also see $200 million in tax credits for clean energy.

Valenti concluded with a quote from his friend that passed away in 2007, Dave Shayman (aka Disco D):
“The scariest thing in the world to me is not dying, it’s the split second before I die thinking ‘oh shit I wish I had done’ instead of just ‘oh shit.'”

Shayman produced a track for 50 Cent called “Ski Mask Way.” He also produced songs for Chamillionaire, Nina Sky, Trick Daddy, and Lil Scrappy.

Here is a vision that Valenti recommended to follow:
1. Remain a fan (of what you love)
2. Stay open (let things in, be open to ideas)
3. Harness and connect

You can follow Valenti through his company Twitter account at @ghostly. His website is Ghostly.com.

Shiv Singh

Shiv Singh is the VP of Social Media at Razorfish — he gave a presentation called A Digital Renaissance. The Renaissance was a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era. The Digital Renaissance will be a bridge between the Digital Ages and the Post Digital Era.

The Digital Age:
1. Consumers don’t align with brands the way they once did.
2. Instead they prefer to align with each other.

A survey was put together about U.S. Facebook users consumption habits. Facebook users were asked who whether they were more likely to buy a product or visit a retailer based on a friend referral. About 68% said yes and 32% said no.

Brands are now being shaped more by consumer conversations than by anything that the brands may do themselves. For example, brands are extremely paranoid about TripAdvisor rankings and even put programs in place to monitor the travel website.

Singh concluded by giving 8 ideas for a post digital era:
1. We enter an ambient world
2. Augmented realities become our reality
3. Location aware living is assumed
4. Social networks morph into one
5. Communities get real again
6. Brand advocates become participants
7. Companies build deeper social experiences
8. Story telling replaces advertising

You can follow Shiv on Twitter at @ShivSingh or at his blog goingsocialnow.com.

Panel Discussion by David Murray

Dave Murray, founder of Social Media Club Detroit moderated a panel discussion. Blagica Bottigliero, Chris Barger, and Joe Jaffe also participated. One of the opening questions Murr started with was “In 140 characters or less — why should businesses be engaged in social media?”

“Someone out there is talking about you, so talk back,” said Blagica Bottigliero. “The voice of the customer has never echoed so loudly,” said Joe Jaffe.

The rest of the discussion was general conversation about trends, interacting with customers online, and about case studies why social media is important. My laptop was running low on battery at this point so I did not get a chance to take a lot of notes.

You can follow David on Twitter at @DaveMurr and on his blog themurr.com. He is the go-to guy when it comes to learning about social media in Michigan.

Welcome Presentation

This video was played at the end of the conference and right before keynote speaker Jay Adelson (former CEO of Digg.com) took the stage.
Warning: This video is extremely inspirational and should be watched at high volume and in full screen.

Keynote Speaker: Jay Adelson

The first commercial Internet service provider in the United States was called Netcom. When that company was around, nobody really thought the Internet would matter or make money said Adelson.

Adelson showed a picture of his daughter and talked about when people are born, we like being pampered, being enclosed, and enjoy routines. We like being told what to do and we feel comfortable doing it. “We’re told, it can’t be done,” said Adelson. We’re told that there is nothing wrong with boundaries he added. Then he showed a picture of a cubicle farm.

Adelson back tracked a little bit to talk about how he was involved in Digg and even considered going into a career that involved film.

“Keep failing, its OK to fail” said Adelson as he talked about two climbers that constantly tried to reach the top of Mount Everest. “We’re constantly taught to avoid failure.” Grades for example teaches us to avoid failure. “So how do you find that first leap? You have to find that screw that is loose,” said Adelson has he pointed to his head. “And loosen it a little bit more…”

Adelson pointed out a couple figures where people must have thought they were crazy. The first example was Henry Ford and the second example was Marc Andreessen.

Towards the conclusion of Adelson’s speech, he said a quote that stuck with me: “Look for limits and break them.” Below are some additional pictures from his speech.

The first two pictures are of Adelson’s grandfather, who ran an electric supply company near Detroit. The third picture is a high school in Palo Alto that Adelson’s company wanted to provide Internet for back in the mid-90’s. His company raised millions to do so. The fourth picture is of IPO day. And the fifth picture encouraged people to take a leap of faith (note the ASCII Digg logo in the computer).

Overall Jay Adelson gave a great speech. I met him a couple of times throughout the conference and he is one of the most down-to-Earth individuals I have met.

You can follow Jay Adelson on Twitter at @jayadelson.

Ken Burbary

Ken is the Head of the Digital Strategy and Social Media practice at Ernst & Young. Burbary’s presentation focused on Customer Insights and Analysis that Drive Digital & Social Strategies.

Burbary talked about how a problem with digital marketing channels and the social media ecosystem is that there are too many choices and too much velocity. In order to solve the problem, it is best to dedicate yourself to outcomes. The outcomes is the purpose that your website/user/application experience exists.

Burbary then focused on specific analytics and how to make sense out of all the social media data that is collected. The tools include DoubleClick Ad Planner and YouTube Insights for Audience. He also recommended several websites worth checking out to learn more about social media analytics such as Actionable Analytics by Jonny Longen, Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik, Nielsen Insights, ComScore Voices, Hitwise Intelligence, and Web Analytics Demystified by Eric Peterson.

You can follow Ken at @kenburbary and on his blog at kenburbary.com.

Scott Hauman

Scott Hauman is Director of Brand Strategy at Daggerfin. His presentation was called Brand Up and Be Counted.

Hauman ran through the criteria of branding up. The criteria depends on 1.) the state of market 2.) the state of mind, and 3.) the rate of success.

Hauman also explained the core characteristics between Market Leaders and Challengers. There are 12 challenger stances used to classify brands. These 12 stances include The People’s Champion, The Scrappy David, The Enlightened Zagger, The Real and Human Challenger, The Missionary, The Democratiser, The Irreverent Maverick, The Visionary, The Next Generation, The KillerApp, The Game Changer, and The Value Changer.

What I liked about Hauman’s presentation is that he asked the audience to identify what challenger stance that they believe one of his clients in Ann Arbor belong to. People were asked to log in through his website and fill out a survey. He then walked around and received input from audience members. This shows that as a marketer, feedback is extremely important from the audience.

You can follow Scott on Twitter at @scotthauman

Ben Smithee

Ben Smithee is Managing Partner, Spych Market Analytics. He gave a presentation titled The Evolution of Why and Why It Matters. At the beginning of the presentation, he focused on three bullet points: the history of market research, the attention spectrum, and the eyeballs are moving.

Traditional media is becoming more social and the future of market research requires adapting. The power of social search is becoming even more important along with social reviews on the Internet. This is becoming especially important as location-based tools are growing in popularity including Foursquare, Gowalla, and MyTown. The use of mash-ups are compelling when using these technologies, Fourwhere being a very interesting example.

Normally businesses pay thousands of dollars to get market research about bad experiences, but all of this can be accessed for free through Facebook Pages. Customers talk to your brand directly on forums connected to the Facebook Page.

One of the websites that Smithee talked about that he worked with is called ThatsNotCool.com. Market research showed that naive teenagers are being convinced to send incriminating pictures of themselves to others, which could end up in the wrong hands. ThatsNotCool.com is a place where teenagers can connect to virtual badges and videos for getting questions answered that are typically asked within their demographics.

Below is an example of a video that ThatsNotCool.com has on their website for communicating important life lessons in a fun way.

ThatsNotCool.com received about 700,000 uniques at one point and had seen a few hundred thousand cards sent through their website.

“What is the bottom line?” asked Smithee. “The evolving need is for holistic research solutions that fit with marketing efforts seamlessly.”

Towards the end of the presentation Smithee talked about one more way that the future of marketing is compelling. In the picture below Smithee took a picture with Pete Cashmore, but the media confused him as being Tony Hsieh of Zappos.

Smithee sent out a tweet about the misprint and Hsieh ended up sending him a package saying thanks for being you and not being me. Hsieh also gave Smithee a corporate culture book about Zappos.

You can follow Smithee on Twitter at @SpychResearch and on his blog www.bensmithee.com/

David Miller and Christopher Wilshire

David Miller (pictured left) is a strategist at Egg Strategy and Christoper Wilshire (pictured right) is a founding partner. Together they gave a presentation titled Putting it All Together: Innovating for Your Brand (and Consumers).

The presentation that Miller and Wilshire gave revolved around some of the client case studies they had. Some of the concepts Egg was a major influence on includes the Coors cold theme on the bottles. Egg also worked on Calphalon products by showing young women can cook and still be stylish. Egg also worked with Toyota and Sprite in certain cases.

One of the most important formulas that Egg follows is Innovation+Branding+Technology+Communication. Another important point that Miller and Wilshire brought up is the breakdown of what a day should be– 8 hours of labor, 8 hours of recreation, and 8 hours of rest as influenced by the Ford model.

You can follow Wilshire on Twitter at @CWfromEgg. Also check out Egg’s blog at EggStrategy.com/blog.

Conclusion: Kudos to Zach, Jordan, and Adrian

This was one hell of a conference. Anyone that has put an event together knows how much effort it goes into every single detail. It requires patience, meticulousness, and a lot of drive to pull off what they did. My hats are off to them. I also thank them for allowing me to be a part of the media team that covers the event. I highly encourage you to attend any future FutureMidwest conferences that take place.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at

FutureMidwest 2010 (#FMW10) Inspired A Social Media Revolution In Metro Detroit Comments

  1. Hubert Sawyers III says:

    Excellent overview!!!

    The music of the video was made by Fancy Lad Music. Their demo reel can be found at www.fancyladmusic.com and they tweet at @fancyladmusic.

    The visuals of the videos are provided by Green Sky Creative (greenskycreative.com)

  2. bensmithee says:

    Awesome recap and summary of #FMW10!!!
    Thanks for taking the time to do this and really cover it well!!

  3. Amit Chowdhry (Pulse2.com) says:

    For sure Ben, I really enjoyed your presentation. It was entertaining and informative.

  4. Amit Chowdhry (Pulse2.com) says:

    Thanks Hubert. The music and the video combo was flawless.

  5. David Murray says:

    Fantastic breakdown. Thank you for doing this. Most importantly, thank you for attending and spreading the word. FMW wouldn't have been successful without your support. See you in 2011.

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