Your Personal Brand Doesn't Have an "OFF" Switch

Developing a personal brand is a "must" these days as you navigate your future.

A strong personal brand can be good for business, your career and your life.  A poor personal brand can result in a reputation that makes you and your company taboo. To develop a personal brand, you need to identify how you want to be perceived and then work day and night to build that identity.  However, far too many people tend to believe that a personal brand only exists in business meetings. 

In today's digital world, your brand is not just a reflection of how you perform when people are around.  If you actively engage in social media, your personal brand is engaging with you.  Your brand is on display for the entire world to see anytime you're on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Before I post anything online I always ask myself if there is anyone who might see the post that would cause me or someone else embarrassment.  If the answer is "yes", then it won't go up. 

Your brand is always on display offline as well.  If you run into a business colleague at the supermarket on a Sunday afternoon, your brand is standing right beside you.  Do you care if your colleague sees you unshaven in a ripped tee shirt and flip flops?  Some people may, others may not.  Only you can define the parameters of your personal brand.

However, your personal brand doesn't have an "off" switch that you can just flip when you leave the office.  We're all constantly being judged and we're all constantly judging others, whether we'll openly admit or not.

Recently, I was invited to visit the home of a colleague who lives there with his wife and son.  The wife uses the basement as an office for her business.  My colleague apparently failed to communicate with his wife that I would be stopping by so she was very surprised when I was escorted into her office to say "hello".  She graciously welcomed me, but was clearly a bit bothered by the unexpected visit.  I felt bad as either she forgot I was coming or her husband forgot to tell her.  They actually spoke about the misunderstanding in front of me which made me a little uncomfortable. 

I'm sure one of the reasons the wife was troubled when she saw me was because her office was a mess!  It was in complete disarray.  I would never want to have a client or colleague in my office if it looked the way hers did.  Boxes were everywhere, piles of paper on the floor, food on the desk, drawers and cabinets hanging open, clothes piled up in the corner.  She was a bit disheveled since she probably had no meetings scheduled that day. She simply didn't have the polished look I was used to seeing.  While I'm sure she had no intention of creating that scenario, I couldn't help but wonder if she ran her business that way.  If she couldn't even keep her own office organized, how did she keep her client's needs and projects organized?  I'm sure she was quite embarrassed. 

While I understand that this was her home, which most of us rightly view as our personal sanctuary, it was also her place of business.  And in business, you never know when something unexpected is going to occur, so you always have to plan for those occasions.

Though we aren't close, I have known this woman for several years so my impression of her wasn't dramatically altered.  But what if it wasn't someone who knew her as long as I have that walked into the room that day?  What if it was a prospective client?  I'm sure that being incredibly sloppy and unorganized is not the impression she would have wanted to make.

My point is that one's personal brand is a reflection of who you are and how you are perceived whether you like it or not and whether you are prepared for it or not.  You have to be "on" all the time.  Now that doesn't mean you have to wear a business suit whenever you go out to the supermarket or that you can't show a little passion when watching your favorite sporting event.  But it does mean that you need to recognize that others are passing judgment on you 24/7, not just between 9 and 5.  Your personal brand is always under the microscope.

Is there a bit of paranoia attached to maintaining a personal brand?  Perhaps "paranoia" is too strong a word.  But in a world where first impressions AND second impressions count, you have to remain vigilant in building and protecting your reputation.  You never know when an opportunity may pass you by because you let your guard down for just a moment.

What's the old saying?  "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time.  But you can't fool all of the people all of the time." 

The Great Facebook Addiction (revised)

Is Facebook the drug of our generation? The answer is a big embarrassing "yes" says an interesting new study by Ars Technica.
Except we youngsters can't even say that anymore, now that we're Facebooking our moms and whatnot. As a direct quote from the study explains, "Students from 10 countries... all reported distress, isolation, confusion, boredom, and a feeling of addiction when they had to go 24 hours without any form of media, including Internet."Apparently a large amount of this distress was in reaction to not having access to Facebook.

Lets take a moment to think that one over. What is it we do on Facebook? Post status updates about our fun Friday night? Whine about final exams? Boast about our vacations and semesters abroad through cleverly titled photo albums? I'm an addict and I'll be the first to admit it, but I've never felt so silly about that until just now. In fact, now that I really think about it, not once since I became Facebook active have I gone more than a few days without checking in. And now that I have my trusty iPhone in my pocket at all times (God help us all if I don't) it's certainly less sparatic than a few days. Maybe more like a few hours?

This study has really got me thinking about deleting my Facebook account and seeing how long it takes me to start "itching like a crack head," as one study participant put so eloquently. In fact, earlier this semester in my Media Communication class we had an assignment to watch one movie from beginning to end to see how long we could make it without signing on to any sort of social network. Sounds easy enough, right? Turns out I was a bit optimistic starting out this assignment. I decided to watch the cult classic “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”, thinking it would be silly enough to hold my attention and keep my idle hands from wandering to my keyboard. Thinking ahead, I made sure to keep my laptop in my bedroom far out of reach... Ten minutes later, I found myself grabbing my iPhone and opening the Facebook application, completely out of habit. Here's how is played out: What was new? Not much, the usual friend connection in my newsfeed, a comment on my latest mobile upload of a puppy at Town Lake, a new photo ablum of my old classmate Lindsey's trip to Spain. Interesting, I haven't seen her in about five years, lets see what she's up to. Spain sounds so fancy. Sorry to end the story early, I know it was a real nail-biter, but in the essence of time I'll keep it short.

Of course I had to report to class the next day and embarrassingly admit to my Facebook addiction – only to find out that it was the case with almost the entire classroom. If Facebook is a drug, then we are all addicts. But to be realistic, the Facebook addiction isn’t something to laugh off – it is gaining attention from credible institutions who are worried about the outcome of over exposure to the social networking site and what it can do to a persons personal life and general productivity. Says Elizabeth Cohen of CNN, “Although there are no statistics on "Facebook addiction" -- it isn't an actual medical diagnosis -- therapists say they're seeing more and more people… who've crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction.”

As you saw in my description, my Facebook experience that evening while I should have been watching a movie uninterrupted by social networking was less than exciting or informational (about things that actually matter, that is). Yet, when is it ever either of those things? In the study on Facebook addictions detailed in the CNN article, a woman named Cynthia admits to being a Facebook addict. She spends an unbelievable amount of time every week dedicated to Facebook. She does use it somewhat for work related needs, as she is the owner of an online retail store who likely promotes through and advertises on the site, but the rest of the time is merely recreational use - the same as what most of us use it for. How did she get on Facebook in the first place? "My daughter just got married, and I got great happiness posting her wedding pictures for all my friends to see", says Cynthia. That's how it all began, that's how it gets you. The same certainly goes for me - I created a Facebook account for the same reasons that I check in daily now, to keep in touch with my friends at home while I am away at college as well as to build connections with the countless new people I meet in Austin all the time. Facebook has so many benefits - it really has become a new way to network socially - but what happens to the old fashion kind of social networking? The kind where you call people when you miss them so that you can hear their voice? Is that being replaced by interactions of the digital age?

As seen in the CNN artivle as well as in countless others like it on the subject, you know you're a Facebook addict when you are effected by the five red flag symptoms (taken from the CNN article):
1. You lose sleep over Facebook
2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook
3. You become obsessed with old loves
*(one of my personal favorite topics, see below!)
4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook
5. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat

As promised, I must touch on my favorite negative outcome of Facebook use. Drama. Specifically in your relationship. This website is like love-eating poison to relationships, and it seems that Facebook is becoming the true sworn enemy to love birds all over the world. While its true that sometimes Facebook reunites old flames, sometimes it does so with people who are already married. It's true - according to US lawyers, "Facebook is a top cause of relationship trouble". Two-thirds of those lawyers say its a "primary source in divorce evidence".

Now that we have all the facts, let us all take a moment to reflect on our own Facebook use. Maybe some of us are addicts. Perhaps some of us use it merely recreationally - pffft, heard that one before. And for the rest who are just too cool to be on Facebook - the whole world thinks you're a snob.

Why Doing More with Less Is a Fallacy!

"You need to do more with less!"

That's a demand that you hear often in business these days; especially in marketing. However, is it really possible?  Does it even make sense?  Can you actually do more with less?

You can’t bake a bigger cake with less flour…unless…you use more icing!

You can’t build a stronger house with less wood…unless…you use brick!

You can’t make a car run without gas…unless…it’s an electric car!

The point of these three metaphors is to emphasize that you really can't take away resources and expect that someone is going to be able to do more with what remains.  That's simply illogical.  However, by making better use of other resources (adding a pound of icing may make a cake appear bigger even though it really isn't), by reevaluating your strategy (perhaps brick is a better resource than wood for building a house, but you just hadn't considered it before) or by eliminating barriers (if a gas operated car isn't optimal, then switch to an electric car), you can still achieve success, even though a previous resource may be less available.
When my media budget was dramatically slashed a few years ago, I was forced to find a new way to communicate the value of shopping at Goodwill retail stores.  I couldn't get more advertising for my limited spending.  Most of the radio and TV stations we were using were angry that we made the cuts!  They weren't about to go out of their way to give me more ads for less money.  Therefore, we had to look at alternatives.  We decided to invest more time and resources into social and earned media.  That decision made a huge impact on how Goodwill stores were perceived and resulted in a significant amount of visibility worth far more than we could have purchased through a traditional media buy.  So while we didn't get more paid media by spending less on it, we ultimately received a greater return on our investment by changing our strategy and placing more emphasis on another communications channel that cost less money.  Our message didn't change. Only the way we communicated it did.  Additionally, we removed a critical barrier by eliminating staff that simply weren't cutting the mustard.  We had to create a fast moving, well oiled machine.  If we didn't have people who were capable of keeping up with us, we found new people who could.  Your biggest asset is the people around you.  Don't let them slow you down.
So if anyone tells you that they need you to do more with less, what they really mean is you need to find new and innovative ways of marketing your product or service that don't require as much reliance on the resource/s being cut.

After all, you can't empty a pond of its fish and expect to keep bringing home start fishing in another pond.

It's All About Beers! - Digital Campaign Case Studies

Today, many beer brands are very active online and take a serious focus on digital marketing. They try to use different tactics and tap on various touch-points to capture wider attention and brand new experiment from the target audience. It could be vary from impressive 3D projection mapping, highly interactive YouTube takeover, socially driven campaign with gamification or purely social promotion for both online and offline activities. Here are some recent highlighted campaigns from Carslberg, Desperados, Polar Beer and Guiness.

1. Carlsberg global digital campaign 
  • Agency: Skive

  • Big Idea: All echoing the new tagline, ‘That Calls for a Carlsberg’, its new brand positioning.

  • How it works: It’s Carlsberg’s first global digital initiative and features content for YouTube and Facebook.Carlsberg has kicked off their new campaign in UK with a couple of pretty big 3D projection mappings on the iconic White Cliffs of Dover and the famous Liverpool Street Station. On their YouTube channel the TV ads and other video clips produced for the launch are available, along with the YouTube Takeover experience. On Facebook Carslberg have gone for something different with an app that invites users to type in a transmission, upload a photo – and send a message to your mates from the moon using text-to-voice and face mapping. 

  • Take-aways: The digital campaign will support the new television advertising, ensuring that it reaches audiences who spend their time online.

2. Desperados Beer YouTube Takeover 
  • Agency: Dufresne Corrigan Scarlett and MediaMonks 

  • Big Idea: Create a pretty cool and ambitious YouTube takeover by integrating the Facebook Connect functionality as part of the experience. 

  • How it works: The YouTube campaign for beer brand Desperados is different to most by letting you interact with the story as it unfolds instead of the 99% that just break up the YouTube interface in various ways. Additionally, the Facebook Connect functionality is a neat way of socalising the whole experience, with the takeover bringing your FB friends into the party by pulling in photos on the fly.

3. Polar Beer scores a socially driven campaign 
  • Agency: Almap BBDO 

  • Big Idea: Tapping into peoples unyielding fanatacism to their favourite football team and the general win-at-all costs attitude of sports fans

  • How it works: They created a groundswell of engagement, facilitated by Polar Beer, that engaged tens of thousands of passionate fans from two opposing football team fan bases and endeared them BOTH to the brand for significant periods time (avg ion site was 11mins plus). A true WIN-WIN that managed to align the brand to two opposing audiences and deliver a positive branded experience to both.

  • Take-aways: The campaign shows how a powerful call to action based on a real passion point (in this case Football – a religion in Brazil) can motivate online action, participation and engagement.

4. Guiness rises to the top in Singapore
  • Agency: BBDO Proximity Singapore 

  • Objective: The campaign was developed for the Singapore market where engaging and attracting young consumers to Guinness is a major focus in order to drive a groundswell of engagement on Facebook within 8 weeks.

  • How it works: Using a simple but compelling promotional idea to give Guinness’ Facebook fanbase a major boost with its Rise to the Top Social media campaign. The highly partcipatory campaign had a strong viral element and was activated online, and offline. Offline activation was enabled via an innovative iPad app that the agency created allowing brand ambassadors to engage and enrol consumers in bars and in trade outlets.

  • Result:The campaign caused explosive growth in fans on Facebook page, achieving 21,000 in only a few weeks, making it the #1 beer and spirits brand fanpage in Singapore. This socially activated short term campaign is the first step of Guinness’ social media engagement strategy in Singapore with even more innovative and engaging content and promotions in 2011 and beyond.

"Yellow Tree House" & "Mini Gateway" - Digital Campaign Case Studies

How can your digital campaign stand out of the crowd? Thanks to the Internet and its growing role in our lives, agencies have come a long way in the past decade, and they’ve begun to hone in on and innovate in the realm of digital marketing. There are more evidences of the growing appetite of  brands to really get behind innovative digital ideas to get more interaction with the target audience. Therefore, from now on, I would like to share about the case studies of innovative digital campaigns around the world that I've known recently for an overview of the scene.

1. Award-winning “Yellow Treehouse” Campaign 
  • Brand: Yellow Pages Group (New Zealand)

  • Agency: AIM Proximity and Colenso BBDO (NZ) for true integrated work

  • Big idea: Using Yellow Pages book and website can help you achieve any task, no matter how big or small.  

  • How it works: The Yellow Treehouse program is all about putting Yellow to the test. Tracey, like everyone, has a mission, hers is to build a restaurant in a tree. The test is that she can only use the Yellow Pages, and Yellow Mobile to do it. She’ll need to find architects, builders, restaurant suppliers – everything using just Yellow. Even though it’s a brand campaign you can only take the planning so far – what happens from one day to the next can change very quickly.

  • Results: The power of the insight and idea lived well beyond one campaign, and successfully led to the second generation of the campaign – “The Taste of Yellow Chocolate” , which achieved the same heights of success for Yellow in terms of business results, and the chocolate bar created went on to outsell every other chocolate bar in NZ in its first week of launch.

  • Takeaways: The campaign leveraged a multitude of touchpoints to deliver spectacular business results for Yellow and it also demonstrated exactly how digital can be seamlessly integrated into a campaign, rather than being an afterthought (as we still see so often today).

2. Mini Gateway Stockholm Campaign 
  • Brand: MINI Countryman (Sweden)

  • Agency: Jung von Matt Stockholm

  • Big idea: From the “Gateway” global concept and the specific challenge in Sweden was to create MINI evangelists, the idea behind is to create the world’s biggest reality game on iPhone – transforming Stockholm city into a living game board.

  • How it works: You used an app where you could see the location of the virtual MINI within the Stockholm city border. All locations were updated in real time so you could easily follow how everyone moved.
If you got closer than 50 metres of the virtual MINI you could take the virtual MINI with your iPhone.
Then you had to get away, because anyone within 50 metres could take the MINI from you. The person in possession of the virtual MINI at the end of the 7-day campaign gets the car.  

  • Results: The buzz started spreading within minutes after the app was put up on Appstore. Hundreds of thousands discussed it in social media. People from everywhere followed the game on the website.
The campaign created astonishing interaction with the MINI brand. During  the game week  11413 people participated and transported the virtual MINI nearly 1 500 physical kilometers. Average gaming time was 5 hours and 6 minutes per person. 

  • Takeaways: Mini has successfully ultilize digital and technology platforms to create a fun, relevant and engaging experience, rather than just being there for some buzz.

Mobile Marketing: Facts & Figures

From mobile commerce and text messaging campaigns to location-based services and augmented reality, mobile marketing is, without a doubt, essential to an integrated communications campaign. Tech-savvy consumers have adopted mobile communication and use it as a preferred method of communicating. As more and more people use mobiles on a daily basis, businesses have to adapt to mobile commerce with various platforms, strategies and marketing ideas. The insightful infographic below by Microsoft Tag displays the breadth of the mobile market today.

Social Marketing Compass & Conversation

Hey COMM 3309, we're almost done!!! Lets just take a second to virtually high five one another and breathe a sigh of relief.

Alright, back to business, lets talk about the final chapters of Brian Solis' Engage. We've certainly learned a lot from this man and I think we can all agree it will help us tremendously in our future endeavors. For those of you tuning in from outside our class (I know that at this point I must be one of the most famous and sought after bloggers in the blogosphere) Engage is the "complete guide for brands and businesses to build, cultivate, and measure success in the new web."

I found chapters 19-23 to be some of the more interesting chapters we have covered this semester. I especially enjoyed the information describing the Social Marketing Compass and the Conversation Prism, mainly because I can really see us applying this in our future PR classes and in work related research.

Among having other benefits, the Social Marketing Compass is extremely helpful in understanding how brands can better communicate with their customers, peers and influencers. However, what I found most helpful from this entire segment was the Conversation Prism. The Conversation Prism allows a to understand "a whole view of the social media universe, categorized and also organized by how people use each network." Also explained as the art of "living, listening and sharing," the Conversation Prism allows brands to better themselves by understanding what is being said about them and how they can respond, thus benefiting from the conversation.

The Great Facebook Addiction

Is Facebook the drug of our generation? The answer is a big embarrassing "yes," says an interesting new study by Ars Technica.
 Except we youngsters can't even say that anymore, now that we're Facebooking our moms and whatnot. As a direct quote from the study explains, "Students from 10 countries... all reported distress, isolation, confusion, boredom, and a feeling of addiction when they had to go 24 hours without any form of media, including Internet."Apparently a large amount of this distress was in reaction to not having access to Facebook.

Lets take a moment to think that one over. What is it we do on Facebook? Post statuses about our fun Friday night? Whine about final exams? Boast about our vacations and semesters abroad through cleverly titled photo albums? I'm an addict and I'll be the first to admit it, but I've never felt so silly about that until just now. In fact, now that I really think about it, not once since I became Facebook active have I gone more than a few days without checking in. And now that I have my trusty iPhone in my pocket at all times (God help us all if I don't) it's certainly less sparatic than a few days. Maybe more like a few hours?

This study has really got me thinking about deleting my Facebook app and seeing how long it takes me to start "itching like a crack head," as one study participant put so eloquently.

Facebook 2011: Facts & Figures

The World is Obsessed with Facebook by Alex Trimpe, a student at Columbus College of Art & Design, shows some interesting stats about Facebook use in 2011 and goes great with the insightful infographic wrapped up by Online Schools.

Is Traditional Networking a Dead End for Job Seekers?

I was reading a series of comments recently on Linkedin regarding a list of things the HR department won't tell a job seeker about his/her resume.

Some of the items on the list were no surprise, others were eye opening, and a few were potentially disheartening to job seekers.

The string of comments eventually evolved into a series of recommendations about networking to help job applicants. 

While I have no issue with networking and I fully encourage it for both job hunting and new business development, I simply don't believe that in today's competitive environment, traditional networking is much help to job seekers unless you are very experienced and have already established strong relationships with influencers.  While some may disagree with me, the reason why I hold this view is simple.

Most traditional networking functions are now saturated with job seekers.  Professionals who traditionally attend these types of events for business development purposes no longer participate because they are bombarded with people trying to hand them a resume.  While I feel for each of these individuals because I have been in their position before, the reality is that job seekers passing out resumes at a networking event to anyone within arms reach are just as likely to be passing them out to someone who is in the job market himself.  Additionally, those events where job seekers can actually network with executives who can influence hiring decisions, are events to which the unemployed aren't often invited.  That's the sad but true reality of it.

Social networking sites, on the other hand, provide an easier and more direct path to potential influencers.  You can locate someone within your network who is connected to the person you're trying to reach, and within the time it takes to draft a simple message, you can secure a referral. 

However, I don't feel comfortable when a peripheral contact asks me to recommend him/her for a job just because the hiring manager happens to be in my network.  While I don't want to be rude or insensitive, I also don't want to jeopardize my own professional reputation by recommending someone I hardly know.  This happened to me recently, and I was amazed at the sense of entitlement displayed by the person making the request.  I hadn't even spoken to this individual in more than 10 years!  However, I agreed to introduce her to the person she was seeking and take myself out of the equation without offering a reference. Therefore, while I didn't grant the original request, the individual making the ask did get an introduction to the hiring manager, which put her in a better position than most applicants.

While online professional networking may generate better results with less effort than traditional networking, I believe that the best form of job hunting comes from placing a greater emphasis on professional development.

By joining associations, chambers or other professional organizations and then playing an active role, a job candidate can dramatically improve his/her marketability and opportunity to meet decision-makers. 

Don't just join for the networking events. Get on committees that plan programs, join the organization's leadership team, run for office, etc.  Be where corporate executives or hiring managers are going to be and show them what you can do.  Work side by side with business leaders and build your personal brand!  This will not only showcase your capabilities while also getting you a great contact; it will help fill the holes in your resume.  Would you rather have a six month gap that you have to repeatedly explain to potential employers, or fill it in with "Director of Programming for the American Marketing Association"?  Associations and chambers are always looking for volunteers.

Volunteer for a charitable agency.  Two of my best employees in recent years started out as volunteers for Goodwill.  One of them is now the Director of Marketing for Zipcars.  The other still works at Goodwill and has proven to be an outstanding hire.

Another option is to seek out a certification program.  While this obviously requires a financial commitment, which I acknowledge may be a challenge for some, it will allow job seekers to improve their skills, while enhancing their value to potential employers.  It also demonstrates that a candidate isn't just sitting on his/her arse waiting for the right job to come along.  They're actively working to improve themselves, which is an attractive quality to any recruiter.  Additionally, many certificate or master's programs have placement offices whose sole responsibility is helping students find jobs. 

So again, I think that networking plays a role in job hunting, but if you don't make it a more active role that can improve your marketability, you may be doing it forever.

personal branding & instant news in the digital age

For our COMM 3309 assignment this week we are focusing on chapter 12-18 of Brian Solis' Engage, which was especially interesting as I found two specific topics that apply to my own life.

Solis covered a topic which ties in with my semester-long personal learning project (PLN). The project involves creating an online resume/digital portfolio, and for it I have had to find experts in the field on Twitter, Delicious, blogs and other internet networks. Most of the experts I have connected with have a similar interest: personal branding.
Solis discusses personal branding at length in this segment of Engage. Even though this information is actually geared towards companies, industry professionals and management, it is still been very useful for my project and has helped me to better understand what everyone is talking about on Twitter. Hooray!

Another point made in this segment which resonates with me is the recent advancements of instantaneous, constant flows information. Like the rest of you, I have become extremely spoiled in recent years with technological advancements that allow us real-time updates of what is going on when, where, and with who. It all ties in with social media as well, allowing for a web of instant information that we have not only grown to expect at all times but have become very dependent on. Just this morning, I found myself annoyed at the fact that NPR hadn't updated their Facebook feed in the past 5 minutes to tell me exactly what was going on with the government shutdown situation and the deals being made regarding federal spending. In reality, I'm spoiled rotten by technology, and nothing new had happened in the 5 minutes since I had checked last.

using Facebook to find terrorists?

Ever get freaked out about the lack of privacy on Facebook? Do you feel like "big brother" is able to watch us a little too closely through our social network profiles?

Normally, I would be the first to agree about being concerned with what we are accidentally sharing (and to whom) on Facebook. Not everyone needs to know what I decide to share with my network, and I believe we should keep our sharing to a minimum anyway, mainly to spare everyone else the boredom and ourselves the embarrassment.

Speaking of people who share too much, lets discuss the case of Sundullah Ghilazai - an alleged terrorist who boasted his dastardly plans all over the internet, and thankfully for us, got himself arrested.
Back in December 2010, Facebook user Sundullah Ghilazai was arrested by US federal authorities after boasting on the social networking site that he'd use explosives on the Washington DC public transit system. Several bomb threats were made in the area, and Ghilazai and his internet boasting fit the profile for the prospective terrorist. Even if he wasn't - the details he shared publicly on his profile are enough to raise several red flags. However, it wasn't until an informant contacted the authorities that Ghilazai was arrested.

The informant reported that Ghilazai disclosed to him some disturbing details about his possible violent plans through the private two-person Facebook chat feature. Ghilazai's Facebook interests and photo albums  contained a lot of material regarding AK-47's, tents filled with explosives, and hateful commentary. Had Facebook's privacy controls been even looser than they are, would this man have been pinned as a terrorist sooner?

Granted, terrorism will exist Facebook or no Facebook, how do you feel about the sites' privacy issues now? Would you rather have everyone's information be somewhat public in order to catch people like Ghilazai, or do you value your privacy above potential safety threats?

U.S. Beers Fight it Out! Bud Falling, Craft Beer Climbing

According to a recent article in Brandchannel, Budweiser is about to be overtaken as the #2 beer in the U.S. by Coors Light.  Bud Light still leads all beers with a whopping 19.1% share of the U.S. beer market, followed by Budweiser at 8.7% and Coors Light at 8.5%. 

To continue building momentum, MillerCoors is increasing marketing spending in 2011 by $50 million.  Imagine that...a product that is gaining market share by increasing its marketing spending.  Funny how that works!  But I digress.

While the major breweries are duking it out at the top of the mountain, it seems the real action is in the micro-brew or "craft beer" scene.   According to the Brewers Association, which recently reported that while overall beer sales were off by 1% in 2010, "beer sales [for craft breweries] jumped from $7 billion in 2009 to $7.6 billion in 2010. The number of barrels sold by craft brewers rose from 8.9 million in 2009 to nearly 10 million in 2010.", cites several reasons for the increase in craft beer sales:  "For people who can no longer afford a luxury vacation, the ability to treat themselves to a tasty local beer for just a few dollars more is a reward they still can afford, said Todd Usry, Breckenridge Brewery director."  Additionally, "At a time when large corporations are laying people off and becoming less relatable to average Americans, craft breweries are still seen as a local product and member of the community, said Eric Wallace, president of Left Hand Brewing Co. of Longmont."

It has become very chic and trendy to drink craft beer.  Sitting on a stool in a bar asking for a Bud Light, when a slew of micro brews are on the menu, is often viewed as conservative and perenially "unhip".  Craft beer is to the brewery world, what Mac is to the home computer world. 

Is this a sustainable trend?  Who knows? But if the big boys don't figure out how to put themselves back on the socially "in" column, you can bet that major brands will continue to see a drop in sales. 

Though overall, craft beer sales still only make up about 4.3% of U.S. beer sales by volume.

I'll leave you with some fun beer drinking factoids pulled from a recent Advertising Age study:

• Craft beer drinkers spend more time thinking about beer than work
 • Fans of Budweiser are 42 percent more likely to drive a truck than the average person
 • Bud Light drinkers are 34 percent more likely to shun organic products
 • Michelob Ultra drinkers are conceited, while those who drink Heineken are posers
 • Blue Moon consumers are 77 percent more likely to own Macs and a whopping 105 percent more likely than the average person to drive a hybrid
 • Corona drinkers are 38 percent more likely to own three or more flat screen TVs

Now, I'm in the mood for a cold one.  Give me a Michelob Ultra...(heh), I mean a Dirty Dan's Mean Ale, please!

from sketchy to squeaky clean (for a price)

These days it's impossible to get accepted to college, land a great job or even be considered for an interview if you have incriminating results on your Google search.

Those Facebook photos of your keg stand at last years 4th of July party? They'll be back to haunt you. And that hasty Tweet you made with all the cuss words and inappropriate context? I doubt think your future boss will find it as funny as you did. Maybe you're not a party animal - but your online presence says otherwise. It says screams "do not hire."
Now, this isn't exactly news. Internet searches have been causing a stir in the job search/college application world for a few years now, and lots of people have smartened up about what they post online. Most of us have already done what we can to clean up our image, should we have even the slightest of questionable content linked to our names on the internet. But for what we can't get rid of, what is there to do?

Thanks to, we don't have to do a thing! If you can afford to pay the fees, that is. For an annual fee of $120-$600, the busy bees over at Reputation offer to "expunge negative posts, bury unfavorable search results and monitor a client's virtual image." Acting as PR rep's of a certain sort, allows your new squeaky-clean image to shine through all the negativity you have uploaded over the years, assuring prospective bosses and college admissions staff to see the "real" you.

The only question is, what happens to all the people out there equally guilty of questionable content but who cannot afford to pay for this service? We all (hopefully) know better than to post anything lewd or incriminating on the internet these days - is it fair that only the ones who can afford it are allowed to erase their past?