It’s time to put a stop to children being hungry

NKH-Giving-Tuesday-blogger-imageWe read and hear about it ALL the time: Be a giver.  Give till it hurts.

In the past, I thought that donating a tweet was good enough.  I thought writing a blog post would cut it.  Then I realized that even giving $5 helped an organization get closer to a finish line.

Today, I am asking you to give. I’m asking you to make a difference in a child’s life by participating in the No Kid Hungry Give-A-Thon.

Today, Tuesday, December 3, is #GivingTuesday. In a single day we will feed 500,000 meals to hungry children. How is this possible? Easy. Raise $25,000 and have Tyson Food match that donation.

What is the Team No Kid Hungry Give-A-Thon?

It’s a one-day social media blitz designed to raise $25,000. That’s enough to connect kids with up to 250,000 meals. This year, we’re aligning our holiday Give-A-Thon with Giving Tuesday, a movement and day dedicated to giving.

Also, for every dollar raised up to the $25,000 goal, Tyson Foods will match it — dollar for dollar. So, we have the potential to raise over $50,000 in a single day, equating to 500,000 meals.

Join us – we made it easy! Use our tweets, Facebook posts and images to join in our day! Let’s work together to help make No Kid Hungry a reality this day and every day!

How can I help

Give to the cause: 

Spread the word: 

Use some of these images in your tweets/Facebook/Tumblr (and link to ):











SHRM Kickball and No Kid Hungry


Everyone benefits when you “do good” for someone.  First of all, the person you are “doing good” for benefits.  Next, you generally feel good about it.  Finally, by telling the story of what just happened, you inspire others.

And sometimes, your actions can help change someone’s life.
et me tell you a story…

A few years ago, I attended Summer Brand Camp for the very first time.  This “conference” changed my life in so many ways, but the biggest impact it has had on me is my passion for helping an initiative called No Kid Hungry (and telling people about it).  You see, this conference started with a service event.  I had never really done much service work, especially with a big group of strangers. I met some great people while doing good for others.  That group of people all had a common cause they were passionate about which was ending childhood hunger in America.

Fast forward a bit.  I meet this great guy Dwane Lay.  I participate in a field hockey fund raiser last year for SHRM.  This year?  Dwane has cooked up something AWESOME.  On Sunday, June 16th, Dovetail Software (where Dwane works) and Dice will be sponsoring SHRM Kickball 2013 to benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign.  We will be playing in Grant Park in Chicago, and have an all-star list of social media personalities making up the rosters.

We have a target of $5,000.  I’ve helped many people in reaching their fund raising goals, so I have no problem asking for your help (because who wouldn’t want to end childhood hunger in America, right?)  Could you help with a few bucks at my fundraising page?

No Kid Hungry connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending childhood hunger a national priority.  This year, more than 16 million children in America will face hunger. That’s one in five. NKH is working to connect hungry kids with the food they need to grow and thrive.

Every dollar you donate will make a huge impact for kids. In fact, just $1 can help connect a child with 10 meals.  Our goal of $5,000, while lofty, is reachable, and will have a tremendous impact!

There are other ways you can get involved as well.  Here are two great resources from No Kid Hungry you can check out:

No Kid Hungry Action CenterIn conjunction with the release of the documentary,  A Place At The Table, NKH has developed a national Action Center where you can find ways to make an immediate impact in your communities. Their founder and Executive Director, Billy Shore, and National Spokesman Jeff Bridges are both featured in A Place At The Table, and the Action Center is a how they help supporters who are ready to act. If you’re passionate about ending hunger like we are, I hope you’ll see the film with some friends, and find actions to take in your area.

Crowdsourced School Breakfast Map: NKH recently released a study showing that kids who eat school breakfast miss less school, do better on standardized tests and are more likely to graduate from high school. They have created a Breakfast Changes Lives infographic that shows the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. But far too few schools are offering breakfast programs that effectively reach kids who need them. So they have created a map of 115,000 public, private and charter schools across the U.S. and are looking for our supporters to call their local school and help map an unprecedented look at school breakfast in America. They reached their goal of mapping 10,000 schools by March 31, and we have 20,000 schools in our sights. Please consider calling your local school and writing about your findings and experience.

Thank YOU.  You are Awesome for helping AND passing this on.


P.S. – Here are some other people inspired to write about their stories.

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No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs

These are posts written to support the SHRM13 No Kid Hungry Kickball game sponsored by Dovetail Software and Dice


No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Tweet to Fight Hunger and Support SHRM Kickball! | Dovetail Software

SHRM National is fast approaching, bringing with it SHRM Kickball! Dovetail Software and Dice are sponsoring the game on Sunday, June 16th at 7pmin Grant Park, with proceeds benefiting No Kid Hungry.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Help Us End Childhood Hunger
No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Help Me Fight Child Hunger - #SHRMKickball #SHRM13

According to No Kid Hungry, 16 million kids in America live in households that struggle to put on the table. This equates to 1 out of every 5 kids, which would fill over 845 basketball arenas. 22% of kids under the age of 18 live in poverty. Simply put, this is alarming.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Personal Fundraising: Dovetail, Dice and SHRM13 Kickball Fundraiser - NO KID HUNGRY | Share Our Strength

This is the site where you can help us reach our goal of 50,000 meals for hungry kids.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Kickball to Kick Hunger?

Kickball, HR and child hunger… One of these just isn’t cool. (No, I’m not talking about HR!)

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | SHRM Kickball and No Kid Hungry

Everyone benefits when you "do good" for someone. First of all, the person you are "doing good" for benefits. Next, you generally feel good about it. Finally, by telling the story of what just happened, you inspire others. And sometimes, your actions can help change someone's life.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Reach West | SHRM13 Kickball for a Cause: No Kid Hungry

Food insecurity - the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food - exists in 17.2 million households in America, 3.9 million of them with children. And that's just today... We never knew how hungry we could have been.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | SHRM Kickball and No Kid Hungry

There is, deeply embedded into our collective psyche, the drive to do good. Specifically, good for others, for those who can't do for themselves. And good in a way that can change someone's life. Last June, at the SHRM Annual conference in Atlanta, Dovetail sponsored a small hockey game in the park.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | 'The Aristocracy of HR' is Kicking For Hunger

Photo Credit SHRM National Conference 2013 is fast approaching and I must say, I am excited. As a member of this year's social media team, I am fortunate to have an opportunity to cover this fantastic conference and contribute to the very important cause of 'No Kid Hungry'.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | SHRM Kickball And No Kid Hungry

Next week is SHRM Annual, the Super Bowl for HR nerds. Whether this is your first time attending, or you're a seasoned vet, SHRM is quite an experience. This year, I have the privilege of joining many of my HR colleagues in a charity kickball game to raise money for No Kid Hungry (you can check out the event page here).

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | No Kid Hungry. Period

I recently went to the store to buy groceries for my ever growing boys (there are three). The receipt, when finished, stretched from my mid torso to the floor. I almost tweeted the site and then embarrassed by my good fortune, decided not to.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | An Opportunity you Can Kick In !!

One week from now I get the chance to attend the SHRM National Conference in Chicago !! It's an incredible event for professional development, networking and connecting with HR pros from around the globe !! It's also an opportunity to make a difference. I dig being active and visible in Social Media.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Help Us Fight Childhood Hunger

Tuesday, June 11th is a special day for us. Dovetail has partnered with Dice to sponsor SHRM Kickball on Sunday, June 16 th in Grant Park, Chicago. Tuesday is our tweetathon. Dovetail has offered $1 per tweet that day, up to $1000. Our friends at cFactorWorks offered to match that amount, doubling our impact.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Kids, La Lucha, & Kickball

Miami. To some, this town is full of glitz and glamor. After all, we've go South Beach, The Heat, fancy cars, nightclubs, and shopping. The locals? Well we see the real side of Miami. The crazy mix/clash of cultures, the rising home prices, the difficulty in finding jobs....

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Help Us End Childhood Hunger #NOKIDHUNGRY #CONTEST - TheOneCrystal.Com

Help Us End Childhood Hunger #NOKIDHUNGRY #CONTEST

My company is running a Tweetstakes to help raise participation of Dovetail Software & Dice Tech Job's fantastic No Kid Hungry Tweetathon today.

THIS. IS. AWESOME. If you're on twitter? Please help. TODAY!

Dovetail's donating money for every tweet sent (details in the blog post). Branded Strategies will be giving away "One Night Out" for contest tweets through the next couple of days - read about details on both in the blog post.

Share this with your networks, please. We appreciate you & helping us help end childhood hunger in the US.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | #shrmkickball on Tagboard

Check this out to see all the tweets and participate in the Tweetathon!

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Kids, La Lucha, & Kickball

Miami. To some, this town is full of glitz and glamor. After all, we've got South Beach, The Heat, fancy cars, nightclubs, and shopping. The locals? Well we see the real side of Miami. The crazy mix/clash of cultures, the rising home prices, the difficulty in finding jobs....

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | SHRM Kickball Wrapup Video - Sponsored by Dovetail Software and Dice

A wrap up of the kickball game played 6/16/13 during SHRM Annual 2013 to benefit No Kid Hungry.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | SHRM Chicago Kickball Game 2013

Highlights of the SHRM Kickball charity game. All donations go to also check out

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Using to Help end Childhood Hunger in America | UGC list creation, content curation & crowdsourcing.

A group of HR professionals that leverage social media and blogging are all coming togetherSunday, June 16th to play a friendly game of kickball. Why? It's the start of the annual conference for SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) and what better way to start a conference than with some fun, some networking, and most importantly making a change.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Crystal Miller at Lunch with DriveThruHR

Crystal Miller at Lunch with DriveThruHR @TheOneCrystal visits with @bryanwempen@williamtincup & @thehrbuddy about what is keeping them up at night. DriveThruHR was designed to be a captivating and easy-to-digest lunch discourse that covers topics relevant to HR professionals. Each 30-minute episode features a guest speaker who shares her or his knowledge and experience in human resources.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Sliding Into Home Plate...To Help End Child Hunger

In a few days, I'll be joining many of my fellow HR colleagues in Chicago at the #SHRM13 conference... to play kickball. Yes, I said it. Kickball. I know, I'll need video documentation to prove I was actually on the field...but I assure you, I'll be there.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | Kick It!! #SHRMkickball #shrm13

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of human resource ladies and/or SHRM then you know that we are nearing the summer solstice - when the earth does a massive axis tilt, CFOs breathe a sigh of relief (because all the HR people have left the building), and 15,000 SHRM members descend upon a convention city NEAR YOU to drink cosmopolitans, cart home obscene amounts of tchotchkes from the Exhibit Hall and, presumably, cram their brains full of HR knowledge.

No Kid Hungry SHRM13 Kickball Blogs | SHRM Kickball Wrap-Up

By now, you've hopefully seen all the posts and tweets about the kickball game at SHRM13. We couldn't be more proud of what we accomplished. Huge thanks to our sponsors, Dovetail Software and Dice, for helping us make it a reality.

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You

We all could use change in our lives.  Change is difficult, even when it’s for the best.  Habits are easy, but unfortunately most of us don’t have enough good habits.  And, when our busy lives get too busy, we take on even more bad habits, because there are other things that need to get done.  We don’t have enough time for ourselves, for our families, and for our significant others.

We tell ourselves “I’ll start exercising as soon as this big project is over.”  Then the next big project hits.  We say “I just don’t have time to eat healthy.  My body can take it.  It’s no big deal.”  We kid ourselves about the amount of sleep we actually need to stay ultra productive.  We skip the planning processes so there’s more time to work.  We just keep pushing,  until something dramatic happens to us or someone we care about.

But why wait?  Why not change now?  Why not take care of ourselves and our families first, and then give our attention over to the grind?

I’m going to start now.  I invite you to join me.

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You

STEP 1: Make a bucket list of the things that you commit to doing in 30 days for YOU. Things you know that you need to do for yourself, your health, your well being and overall happiness. (You can do anything for 30 days and it takes that long to form a habit)

STEP 2: Post the bucket list on a blog titled: The Be The Change For YOU 30 Day Challenge #BTC4You (Posting it publicly holds you accountable and can inspire others to join the challenge)

STEP 3: Share the blog on Twitter using #BTC4You and on your Facebook wall tagging (Be The Change Revolutions). Invite others to join in the challenge.

STEP 4: Everyday, follow the hashtag #BTC4You twitter stream. Share what you are doing that day to “Be The Change for YOU” and then encourage others that are taking the challenge. On Facebook You can tag and engage on the Be The Change Revolutions Facebook Page. (The support of a community makes us a zillion times stronger)

My #BTC4You 30 Day Bucket List

Start every day with a green veggies and fruit smoothie

Start every day with 30 minutes of Yoga

Start every day with a “weigh-in” – drop 10 pounds in 30 days

Give up alcohol for 30 days (Sorry St. Patty)

Schedule one hour every day during daylight for my children

Concentrate on eating light and eating healthy

Take the furthest parking spot

Spend 30 minutes a day with my membership


I’m being the change for me, for my family, and for you. I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Hat tip to @sexythinker for starting this movement.
Here is a list of other’s who are taking this challenge:
(Please let me know if you are too in the comments and I will add you)

Headline for The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You
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The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You

Something that many of us will learn the hard way, is that we’re not indestructible. We often put everything and everyone ahead of ourselves and our health, when in reality the better condition we are in mentally, physically and personally, the bigger change we can be in the world and to those in it that we love and care about the most.

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | sexythinker

This is for YOU, you know who you are. YOU make us better and WE want to return the favor. Something that many of us will learn the hard way, is that we’re not indestructable. We often put everythi...

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | It's all about "me"

I am inspired by the commitments made so others can achieve and I ask that this generosity be put to the mirror to reflect that energy back upon ones own self. Real strength is a decision and can b...

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | Be The Change for YOU Challenge 2013 | travelthewheel

30 day commitment to an improved ME! Here's my bucket list of what I will change/accomplish in the next month to improve my overall happiness and well-being: 1. Get my nutritional needs met. Eat en...

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | » The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You HouseOfBrew – Unplugged and Brewed

We all could use change in our lives.  Change is difficult, even when it’s for the best.  Habits are easy, but unfortunately most of us don’t have enough good habits.  And, when our bus...

The Be The Change for YOU Challenge. #BTC4You | The Be the Change for YOU 30 Day Challenge | amydeebr #BTC4You

It's time to be a more active part of my own life! Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching things happen...I've decided to MAKE things happen and that's where the "Be the Change" movement come...

Purple Glasses – New Twitter now muted


Thanks to Becky McCray, I’ve learned all about filters and the ability to mute twitter application sources.  I’m now experiencing “social media twitter” without the noise of automation.  Only tweets from people that are online – how it use to be. (see here why I’m writing this)

I’ll start from the beginning.

When I first entered Twitter I read EVERYTHING that EVERYONE wrote.  This meant when I woke up, I’d be scrolling through a  few hundred and sometimes a few thousand tweets to “catch up”.  For me, it was a 24 hour conversation tool.  But after I followed a few hundred people – this became almost impossible.  That’s when a fellow Twitter friend told me to envision Twitter like a river of conversation -“you can’t possibly see it all, and if you try you’ll burn yourself out.  Just worry about talking and reading when you’re logged in.  Imagine that like showing up to the party.  If you need to get caught up on a conversation, someone will catch you up.”  This worked great! I could log in early in the morning, and have my virtual cup of coffee with my friends and have great conversations.  Later in the day and in the evening I could do the same.  As time went on, I met more and more people.

As of writing this post, I follow just over 4,750 people.  A majority of the people I follow I would categories as “social media enthusiasts”.  These are people who use the major social platforms for their jobs, for their clients, and for their personal art (as bloggers, speakers, authors, etc).  These are my friends.  These are people I’ve followed because at some point, we’ve had conversations, I’ve felt they were like-minded, and in some cases, we became “offline” friends.  That’s too many people to talk to all at once, but luckily they are stretched across timezones  and different work schedules, so it’s not so loud all the time.  Except for the automated noise.  I hate the automated noise.  It’s just not for me.

You see, I understand why people use third party tools to push content into the Twitter stream.  I get it.  I get your intentions.  But I don’t like it, and it just adds to the noise that already is overwhelming to me on a daily basis.  I don’t want to unfollow you.  I like you when you’re being you and just “tweeting as yourself”.  I don’t want to add you to a list because your “marketing messages” will just cloud that view too.  What I really want is a twitter where the tweets are categorized between “live”, “pictures of my food”, “4 square checkins you don’t care about”, etc.  I think I’ve seen developers talk about that over on

So let’s get on to the muting part.  Here’s what I’ve done with the help of Becky McCray.

  • Downloaded Tweetbot. (Don’t worry PC and android folks, you can do this with tweetdeck filters, but my experience has been with my IPAD which is my major “tool” for tweeting)
  • Watched my timeline and did a “swipe left” on the first tweet that annoyed me because it wasn’t what I wanted to see.
  • Held down on the “source” text for that tweet (such as MapMyRun for Android, The Huffington Post, Triberr, etc)
  • Chose “MUTE”.
  • Go back to timeline
  • Repeat

I’m not muting people, I’m just muting Twitter sources.  I’ve decided against muting Tweetdeck and Hootsuite simply because too much of my stream of real conversations would be wiped out.  I might have made some mistakes and muted “too much”.  It might never be perfect, but I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve gone to getting a few thousand tweets every hour to less than a hundred.  I made that number up – but you get the point.  Oh, and I still get PLENTY of news from my twitter stream.  Anything that’s awesome eventually gets retweeted or commented on by a human.

My full list of muted sources of today: (any tweet that has #quote, Any tweets from the following third parties: Alternion, AWeber Email Marketing, Azumio, bitly, Buffer, Bullhorn Reach, Cortex,, Facebook, FeedBlitz, Flipboard, foursquare, Friends+Me,, Google, GrabInbox, Gremln, hopflow, IFTTT, Instagram, JustCoz, JustUnfollow, LinkedIn, LockerGnome, MailChimp, MapMyRun for Android, MarketMeSuite, NetworkedBlogs, Pandora,, Pinterest, Plancast, Project Tweet, Pulse News, ReqCloud, Runmeter, SharedBy,, Simplify360, smqueue, Social Proxy by Mailchimp, SocialFlow, SocialOomph, Spread The Next Web, Sprout Social, Stream Publisher, TeamWahooly, The Huffington Post, Triberr, Tumblr, Tweet Button, Tweet Old Post, tweet4me tools, Twittascope, twitterfeed, Visibli, Weeder,, WPTweetily, Yelp, Zite Personalized Magazine)

So, what do you think?  Angry?  Intrigued?  Give it a whirl and let me know what YOU’VE muted or filtered! :)

UPDATE: Read the 8pm warrior’s take on this here.

Put on someone else’s glasses

willglassesbig When I was a kid,

one of my favorite books had a poem in it about a grandpa that dropped his glasses in a pot of purple dye.  Can you guess what happened when he put them back on?  He saw a purple sky.  In fact, the entire poem was about how everything he saw was purple.  To him, this was his new world.

For the past few months, after my departure from Meet-Meme and First Edge Solutions, I’ve been trying on different colored glasses to see what the digital world is like for those who aren’t me.  I’ve shared my thoughts, findings, and ideas with those closest around me, but for some reason I stopped sharing things with the world via this blog.  A few Sundays ago, someone I admire told me in an email that I should really get back to writing (I encourage you to get his weekly updates here). And so I tried.

I have stub posts for all of the life experiments I did, but couldn’t write them out fully, and certainly wasn’t ready to share.  Today, I’m going to bullet point out what I’ve been doing, and then write a few posts about each topic over the next month or so.  Here are my life experiments:

* I’ve gone almost 3 months without a cell phone.  I’ll be writing about what I’ve noticed about other mobile users out in the wild (the Zombie Apocalypse has already started), how voice has become just another layer of the internet for me,  and also what withdrawal symptoms I had and why I think I’ve had them.

* I’ve created fake profiles on twitter to study different tribes of people that are not social media experts or technology enthusiasts.  Just real people who’ve adopted the platform from a friend, and not because they attended a breakout session at a conference.

* Thanks to Becky McCray, I’ve learned all about filters and the ability to mute twitter application sources.  I’m now experiencing “social media twitter” without the noise of automation.  Only tweets from people that are online – you know, how it use to be.

* I’ve been trying out platforms that teenagers gravitate towards.  Not because I’m a creeper, but because I want to learn what makes these platforms different from the others.  These are the children born into digital and not merely adopted into it.  There is alot to learn here.

So there you go, hopefully some of this will be interesting to you.  Thank YOU for even taking the time to read this.  Hit me up in the comments below if there’s some specific things you’d like to know about the experiments, and I”ll try to cover it as I’m writing :)

I ate the best sandwich I ever had

Best Sandwich I ever AteThe picture shown here is a t-shirt that you can buy at The Farm Market Deli in Wautoma, Wisconsin.  It’s hanging on the wall for you to see while you eat at one of the many tables in their deli.  The menus are overwhelming with sandwich choices.  Everything was delicious.  Service was good.  We cleaned our plates.  During and after our meal, I’m fairly certain each of us said it was the best sandwich we ever ate.  Not one of the best sandwiches but the best sandwich.

Guru – Expert – Master – Jedi – Ninja – Maestro – Stud – Crackerjack
We might laugh at people who use these “titles” to describe they are good at something, but for the common man, possibly the power of suggestion is at work here?  I’ll be honest – if the sandwich I had completely sucked, I would never consider saying it was good, or one of the best I’ve ever had. But, since they delivered a very tasty product, and put not only the sandwich but the words in my mouth – I found myself deep into the belief of what was in front of me.

Humbleness is often our worst enemy
Being humble is a good trait – people appreciate when you’re not too cocky about your skills. However, being too humble can damage future marketability.  What if the signs and shirts in the Farm Market Deli said “Thanks, Yeah, our sandwiches are alright, I guess.”?  You would still enjoy the food, but you probably wouldn’t be walking away describing it as the best sandwich you ever had.

Be proud.  Be loud.
Try it this week.  I’m not suggesting updating your profiles to contain the word guru – but figure out how to work in your personal marketing and conversations that you’re the best.  People may just start to believe it.


How to spy on the success of links

Have you ever
seen a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn that starts with or ?  If your QR Code scanner shows you the URL of the code you just scanned, you might have noticed a shortened URL there too. I’ve seen shortened URLs used in books, on posters, and even a business card. Did you know that the stats about those URLs are publicly available?  These stats are quite useful when you’re creating links of your own, but you can access ANYONE’s stats by just putting a + after the URL.  For instance, to see this post’s stats, simply go to: and you can see exactly how good or poor this post is being clicked on via the initial tweet from me. offers a custom service,
which many bloggers and companies use.  What this means is that there are plenty more URLs you can spy on besides or  Even companies like Mashable ( and Facebook ( utilize the service.  Take a look at some of your favorite bloggers – chances are they too use their own shortening URL through the service.  Remember: Just add a + to the end of any link you see from a short domain, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see the click stats.

So how is this useful?
Ever wonder how many clicks your competition is getting?  If you have a direct mail piece with a QR Code from them that happens to use the shortening service – you can find out.

Admire a blogger with a ton of followers and want to know how many clicks they are getting on blog posts?  Chances are good if they use a short service, you can see just how many clicks they are getting.

In the middle of a web or SMS demo and you’re provided a shortlink?  Just add that plus sign and know how many clicks that demo part of the demo has received.  You can also do a pretty good job guessing how many times that company does the demo and when (based on the clicks).

Want to research good titles for job postings?  Start gathering data on the click through rates for postings that use short URLs.  Keep a spreadsheet and see if you can see any trends in titles vs. clicks.

These are just a few ideas I had before coffee this morning, so I’m sure you have plenty more idea you can share with our friends below :)

The day Twitter was down

Today, starting at about 11:03 AM CST (and for a little over an hour), Twitter was unavailable worldwide.  At first, I noticed that my Tweetdeck columns were no longer refreshing.  Then, a series of Facebook status updates with tons of people commenting exploded.  I checked Google+ and there too, people were commenting and chatting about Twitter being down.  It seems that the Twitter regulars have quickly flocked to one platform or the other to joke about “How will we survive?” and “Oh man, I had some news I really was ready to break”.

For me, I took this time to reflect.  I was thinking this morning about writing a post called  ”Social Stream Burnout” after reading an article on how big data is more about viewing relevant data, and no longer “real-time” data, since there is so much of it.  For anyone that follows more than a few hundred people on any platform, the constant updates can be overwhelming.  How many of you wake up each morning and grab a screen before getting out of bed?  Maybe it’s your recharged phone.  Maybe it’s your iPad, or tablet.  Are you hungry for updates before you even sense your hunger for food?

What I find most interesting about this Twitter blackout, is that it seems like someone just turned up the volume on my Facebook and Google+.  As people can’t update their Twitter status with articles, thoughts, questions, and interactions – they are simply turning to another platform and plugging in.  I’m seeing more hashtags than normal, and more comments that are just seconds apart – as if it were a live chat on a status update.

As time passes, the streams are slowing down.  I’m envisioning millions of people trying to refresh their Twitter apps and their web browsers.  It would seem that for some, the other platforms just “don’t do it for them” like Twitter does.  And for brands that monitor public mentions – what are they doing with this time?  Think about it for a second – Twitter is really the only public platform where conversations and a stream of millions of people’s consciousness are captured, stored, and available to be harvested by anyone.  No circles.  No friends.  No connections.  No permission needed to listen.

I’ve already made it a habit to plug in my phone and turn it upside down with the buzz and ringer off when I get home.   I might pop back into the stream later at night, but I have to make more time for my wife, my kids, and the rest of my extended family and chances are – you do too.  This blackout feels peaceful to me.

So, what did you do with your time?  Did it change your day?  What did you do different?

Growing up digital

My kids have been playing Webkinz for years. It’s an offline stuffed animal with a special code that lets you activate your new “pet” online. Once online, there’s plenty of game mechanics to keep you engaged with the site – earning virtual currency (Kinz Cash) to buy stuff for your pet and the house you build for him. If you have a friend that has a Webkinz, you can connect with each other to chat and show off your virtual digs. My children grew up in this environment.

My son was born a few weeks after my wife and I purchased our first TiVo (before cable companies had dvrs). My children have always had on-demand entertainment on the television. As a toddler, my son would confuse my mother when he asked her to pause her TV when he had to go to the bathroom. She didn’t understand what he meant when he said that Mr. Rogers was on whenever he wanted to watch it.  Nowadays, it’s all Netflix and Hulu Plus and Epix – what we want when we want.

My daughter doesn’t have a Facebook account, but she does help my wife tend her virtual farm. She interacts with the ”neighbors” – our friends and family, and helps them out when she can (planting seeds, watering, etc). She’s now started her own castle in a different realm of Facebook – and this is entirely her own. She has a virtual pet store that she runs on our iTouch. This is real life for her – it isn’t called “virtual” or ”online”.

My son communicates with his grandfathers via text messaging. So does my daughter. They have great relationships with them. They love small talking via SMS. They call it “texting”, but I imagine that’s because we call it texting, and they think it’s novel.  For them, it’s just a form of communication.

My daughter is totally bummed that Google won’t let her get an email address because she’s too young.  I wonder if she’ll ever get email. I wonder if she’ll need it – if a Facebook account could be created without an email address - why would she need one?

FaceTime is blowing my mind. My daughter and her friend wake up each morning and say hello. They prepare for their day together (including teeth and hair brushing). They read together at night. My daughter has a best friend that she spends more time online with than offline. I’ve never heard them say “so glad to see you irl”. This is all in real life for them.

Want to know what the future looks like? Take a look at today’s kids. The ones that grew up with the real innovations. The ones whose normal is today’s “early adopter”.

photo credit

USPS QR Code Discount 2012 – Doing it right this year

On March 26th, 2012 the USPS announced a QR Code Discount for 2012, and this year, I think they have the right idea.  According to their press release, they felt that although the 2011 promotion was a success to make people aware of QR Codes, this year is all about creating effective campaigns and they are encouraging mailers to adopt “best practices”.  Last year, I wrote a post called “Don’t let the USPS ruin the QR Code Experience“, where I tried to make people aware there was much more to consider than just a “QR Code” on a mail piece.  I even had a marketer who produces hundreds of thousands of mail pieces admit to me that they didn’t have enough time to develop any sort of strategy, and just slapped on the codes to get the discount (money is money, right?).  Wrong.

The 2012 promotion is only valid
if it leads the recipient to either a webpage that allows them to purchase a product or service on a mobile device or it leads them to a personalized URL, which is unique to the individual person.  The rules go on to state that best practices such as directional copy and mobile optimization are also required.  In my opinion, unless you have the manpower and budget to mobile-enable an existing shopping experience by May 1st (when registration for applicants begins), your only option is to work with a print partner that has experience in personalized URLs and personalized mobile sites.

So what’s a personalized URL?
Personalized URLs (often mistakenly pronounced “PURLS” by the inexperienced), rely on a DNS wildcard trick that allows any subdomain entered by a human to be directed to the same web server instance.  In English, this means that both “” and “” both resolve to the same website.  Then, by using some programming magic, the website looks at the full URL you are trying to access and ties that information back to a database – giving the programmer a list of variables for him to use when displaying the webpage.  For instance, by looking up the full URL, the programmer might find out that my favorite food is bacon, my cocktail of choice is a whiskey Manhattan (2 olives and 2 cherries), and my nickname is “Brew”.  He then might decide to display a message such as “Hey Brew, thanks for visiting.   We know you better than you think.  First Manhattan is on us, and enjoy a complimentary basket of bacon on your next visit”.

It might sound like science fiction
but this is exactly how great print partners are leveraging the mounds of data you already have on your customers – both in print and via personalized landing pages that convert to leads, sales, and in-store traffic.  Through a series of many tests and tweaks, you could be reaching your customers in their mailboxes and having just the right conversation with them online.

Don’t think your current provider has what it takes?  Drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to introduce you to someone who’s got the chops to help you navigate through a solution. 

Oh yeah, we’re going to finally see some well thought-out campaigns this summer.  Thanks USPS for fixing last year’s “glitch”.