One way ticket

** For Australians citizens mostly **

I have already written a blog titled “How to make it in America”, this post is about the preparation you need before buying a one way ticket to the US.

I have been in New York for about 3 months, and apart from still not having any credit history (which is pretty much the key to unlock any type of service in America) everything is going pretty smoothly.
So here are some observations for Australians who want to relocate to the US.

They are based on my experience from contemplating the idea of moving to the US to living like a New Yorker.

1- Know what you want:

Knowing exactly what you want to do is a must before you start engaging with contacts in the States.

Until you clear what position you are looking for, what type of company you want to work for and why, you will get asked to figure it out before going any further.

2- Activate your contacts:

Once you have a plan, it is time to get in touch with your network: friends, ex colleagues, recruiters, inspiring people that can link you with opportunities and knowledge about the American market.

Don’t forget that they are likely to get people asking them for such tips all the time, so be creative in the way you approach them.

I once attended a presentation by Tim Ferriss (author of the four hour work week) one of his tips is to “trade” information.
This is how he managed to become an early investor in start-ups such as Linkedin and Evernote.

Before we decided to move, my husband went to Miami for a conference.
He made some great contacts there, and took one of the executives out for dinner.
A few months later, that same executive referred him for a role at Google. The next day, he got a call from Google’s recruiter.

3- Are you eligible to work in the US?

Sooner or later during this journey, you will get asked if are you eligible to work in the US.

That is when you need to pull secret card: The E-3 visa.
It is a unique status for Australian citizens part of a trade agreement between Australian and the US established in 2009.

All the details can be found here on the Australian US embassy site.

This status makes it very easy for companies to sponsor Australians on a 2-year working visa.

The main difficulty is that very few recruiters and HR departments know about it.

To be successful at lifting the “are you eligible to work in the US” barrier, you must be able to demonstrate how a company can sponsor you on an E3 in 3 weeks for less than $2,000 fees.

If you can’t do that, your other options are L1, H1, etc. visas. They are extremely complicated, costly and lengthy to obtain. 

When I started talking to my employer about transferring to New York, the E3 was one of the first things I mentioned. I repeated it in every single communication, only to find out that when my position was approved, HR was about to start the immigration process for a H1 visa (intra company transfer), which was not guaranteed.

I had to patiently go over the E3 status again, prepare a detailed summary of the requirements for the employer and employee.
That information allowed HR to get sponsorship approval from the immigration consultant working on my case.
3 weeks later, I landed in New York with my work permit in hand.

4- Make the trip:

You can do all the prep you want, it is not until you get yourself there that things will accelerate.

Organize your trip by lining up as many meetings and interviews as you can.

When you are there, don’t be lazy. As hard as it is to fight the jet lag and go from meeting to meeting, just do it.
If someone throws you a contact: call them and meet with them.
Adapt your schedule to make the most of it!

4 months before moving, I spent one week in New York.
I tried to book a quick meeting with my now boss before I arrived.
On my first day there I tweeted this: 

He noticed it and made time to catch up with me on my day before last.
When I left, I was in a position to follow up on a job offer.

5- Follow up:

After your trip, you will need to close on the opportunity that you want.
Follow up on the visa, contract, benefits, and relocation.

It is a very important phase. Once you leave, the excitement fades, people go back to their daily routine and your opportunity becomes another task.
Don’t let that task fall at the bottom of their to do list because you are far away.
This is a difficult exercise of applying pressure without become that annoying person.
Patience and positivity help a lot.
I listened to more reggae than usual during that time. 
What will be your way to stay on top if?

6- Get ready:

Once you have a job lined up or a moving date, you start a marathon of things to do. What you will need is just pure simple organization mastery!

When you review your financials, over estimate the savings that you will need.
As mentioned above, until you get credit history (6 months of having your Social Security Number) you will need cash!

When I think about life in the US, that quote attributed to Steve Jobs “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” comes to mind. I will also ad be vocal, move fast.

Marie Sornin

Consumer insights on steroids

Imagine if you could record your life… that is the idea behind a lot of new technologies and wearable devices. Every parent who has used Google Glass love that they can take pictures of their kids every moment, creating price less memories.

With a much more complicated toolkit, that is what Deb Roy and his family have done over several years. This gave birth to an incredible set of data and later to BlueFin, the technology behind the new Twitter TV Ad Targeting solutions.

WELL WORTH watching!

Marie Sornin

An essay on social currency

Guest post by Alexander Southwick– Emerging Solutions and Social Advertising Executive at Fairfax Media

As social media develops to become a mainstream marketing channel for brands, there is a critical need to define the way we measure social success. In line with the traditional measurement metric of ‘reach’, most marketers look to the total number of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ on their brand accounts as a key objective for their social media activities.
In theory, ‘reach’ should increase the engagement level with brands. Therein lies the dilemma of social networks: a consumer can filter out a brand if they feel they are being interrupted too much (spam). Knowing that the average post on a Facebook brand page will only reach 12% of your audience means that the total number of ‘likes’ a page has isn’t a true reflection of social success. Instead marketers need to look away from reach based messaging, to messaging that is adding value to the communities they are building around their brands: Social currency!

Social currency is a relatively new term that is applied to material being shared across social networks. People deal in social currency to increase their personal or brand standings in the eyes of peers and consumers. In short… something that people want to share and discuss. A brand updating their page with a new viral video gives their users a reason to share with their connections. As a result the creation of content with high social currency will help to add value to the community. Consequently, for marketers to be successful at social media, they need to look to develop content that gives social currency for users to take away and ‘share’, ‘retweet’, ‘reblog’ and ‘repin’ across social networks.

One of the most outstanding example of social currency is the  Red Bull Stratos Jump. It occurred on the 14th of October 2012 and not only did Felix break 3 world records, he helped Red Bull create truly unique and compelling ‘hook’ that people wanted to ‘share’, ‘retweet’, ‘reblog’ and everything in between. With more than 8 million people worldwide watching the Youtube Live stream, the post jump photo of Felix having landed safely has achieved 491,353 Likes, 21,175 comments and 50,508 shares the majority of which occurred in the first hour of it being uploaded! Multiplying the number of shares by the average number of friends a Facebook user has the reach potential got close to 11 million Facebook users. Even by applying the 12% viewing ratio, that still gives you a true reach of 1.32 million! Red Bull associated its brand to content that is so compelling  it became a mainstream topic of conversation. Direct marketing benefits are invaluable!

Creating social currency isn’t easy.
However, by deeply understanding your audience (beyond what they like about your brands & products), identifying what is  most interesting to your fans/followers and potential customers and creating content around it, you will have the keys to provide value. The next thing you need to do is break out of the TVC model and go for a ‘branded entertainment’ production model…. and that isn’t easy… only a few advertisers manage to do this well. The Mary Me Microsoft campaign we blogged about in 2010 and the ‘is it content or is it advertising?‘ post from last December showed good examples. Here is a more recent one: Teaching your consumers something new a in fun way is a particularly good, even if it has a bit of a sombre message –

As more marketers understand the importance of social currency, and consumers gain more power to ignore or amplify their message….  The process of surrounding the target consumer with messaging in an integrated campaign might not hold true anymore. Accurate measurement is critical for social media to keep growing its share in the communications mix. We must re-think how to evaluate social media KPIs and what messaging will achieve these KPIs .

As an agency or advertiser, do you have specific KPIs for your social media campaigns? Are able to clearly measure the benefit they are bringing to your marketing plans?

For more information on how to create social currency read our article “What are the three words that will guarantee social media success?”

Alexander Southwick

Sources:

Red Bull Facebook Page

How to become a sexy Pinner

I mean someone who builds appeal on Pinterest!
For those who are not familiar with Pinterest; it is a
content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects… just like a good old pin board or even fridge door! Pinterest is the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark (11.7 million users globally/ apprx 570K in Australia – Jan 2012). I think that what has made Pinterest so popular (at least to women) is its visual appeal. Like Nancy Georges described it at last week’s social media womenPinterest is “A real Beautiful, Delicious eye candy”.

If you are in home decor, art, craft, fashion, style or deign, food, travel, Pinterest could become a great marketing tool for you!

Sexy

Here are some key tips gathered at the social media women event last week:

– Start Pinning before you follow people, you must demonstrate insights to your creativity when they start following you.
– Select topics you like so that you feel like participating!
– Add pin it button to your bookmarks, it makes it super easy to pin as you browse the web!
– Just like on any other social networks: follow the rules of engagement: don’t pin in blocks, don’t “spam pin”, follow people you like, acknowledge when someone re-pins your content (and follow them if you fin their creativity interesting), re-pin and like when you see something you love!
– Act like you are the editor of your own magazine: build boards that resonate with you and your creativity. Make it fun for you and you “audience”!!
– Make your board names interesting and attention grabbing (eg: Sarah says). Create storyboards (eg: a board for anything to do with summer, orange…)
– Go mobile: download the app for iphone or Android. It will help you be spontaneous and more authentic.
– Explore & discover: use the search button & the drop down. Give yourself a goal to use Pinterest (eg: accessories you need for a party, home reno, plan a holiday…)
– Upload videos: there is not a lot of video content yet, so easy way to get noticed!

Happy Sexy Pinning!

Marie Sornin

 

The best techniques to drive traffic from Twitter – Proven by Conversant Media

This post focuses on some of the social media techniques used by our friends at Conversant Media to best engage Twitter audiences. In just a few years, Zac and his team have become a serious player in the Australian digital media landscape. They have managed to build significant traffic – over half a million UBs/ month – and highly engaged audiences on their web properties: The Roar and Lost At E Minor.


What are they doing differently from other media owners?  

On top of their well thought-out positioning, high quality content and smart advertising solutions, they are forward thinkers, who are flexible and continually pulsing the market.

Those points might seem obvious but I haven’t seen a lot of publishers working remotely and efficiently (we are talking, Newcastle, New York City and Sydney) like Conversant Media. They utilised a variety of tools to make distribution work, such as Yammer for their internal communications and Google apps for team video chats.

When it comes to Twitter, here is some practical advice from Zac (MD), Zolton (Publisher) and Tristan (Head of Content & Community).

1. Time is traffic

Clock

Tweet your best content regularly and around the clock loading Tweets via social dashboards like Hootsuite.  Not every marketer would agree with the following but it does work: rehash popular past Tweets (copying them from su.pr, which archives all sent Tweets in their proper format) to run again several days/weeks/months after they first ran. As Twitter moves extremely quickly, and people don’t ‘sit on it’, like they do Facebook, they invariably miss a significant portion of what you Tweet. So consider pushing more popular Tweets out there reasonably often to put them in front as many users as possible. Ensure these Tweets are not timely though!

Try to break news when possible to give our followers facts and opinion on breaking stories. Timing is critical, especially for sites like
The Roar where a lot of sports information loses its relevancy within hours.

2.  Be short and sweet
Use
Twitter for what it’s meant for, passing information along. Keep your Tweets short to enable your followers to Retweet and add a lead-in message if they want to.

3. Mix and match

 

Mixmatch

Conversant swap Tweets with like-minded Tweeters as part of free a traffic/Twitter growth initiative called Tweet Swap. It provides good content for Conversant’s followers, and also brings new audiences to the participants of the scheme.

Mix up your
Twitter  feed with Tweets that link off to other sites in order to keep your feed diverse and your readers interested /connected with the content that you push out there. An easy way to do that is to use your partners, colleagues, and employees… Conversant Media have a number of columnists (with their own base of followers) and our trio constantly encourages them Retweet content, amplifying the Twitter accounts of each site.

Seek to join debate when possible, comment on blog, and participate in forums with your Tweeter identity.

Try to follow accounts of Tweeps who are enthusiasts and authority around your discipline or passion point.

6. BUT
There is one headache: measurement.


Zac says measuring traffic from Twitter is very confusing and difficult. This is not specific to Conversant Media of course. Evaluating the exact traffic generated by
Twitter is tricky because users consume Twitter streams mostly via third party tools such as Hootsuite and mobile clients, rather than Twitter itself… that’s not all, almost all links are shortened by third-party URL shorteners, such as bit.ly, goo.gl, ow.ly, su.pr … and to add to the confusion it seems that some content publishing platforms might recognise if a bit.ly link comes via Twitter. This is an area which is in desperate need of consolidation.

I’d love to hear other point of views on what works, or doesn’t and how you are measuring the impact of Twitter on your campaigns, sites, blogs traffic, SEO rankings… C’mon and share


Marie Sornin

Big thanks to Zac- Zolton-Tristan
 

 

Making tracks in social media

The tourism Australia “making tracks” campaign just won the 2011 IAB award for social media marketing and picked up best in show at the same time.  The campaign is now shortlisted for the US IAB MIXX Awards.

The Youtube Symphony Orchestra was a unique opportunity to put Australia on the map for a night! The 2009 edition at New York City’s Carnegie hall sold out instantly and generated 15 millions YouTube views on the date.

What was smart from Tourism Australia was to not only leverage the final event at the Sydney opera house and broadcast it on TV or make a beautiful ad out of it but to get the participating musicians to visit Australia! The “making tracks” idea was to pair up one Australian and one international musician and send them to stunning places around Australia to write music based on their experience! We would all agree that Australian landscapes are breathtaking and magical… using them as a source of inspiration for artists coming from all over the world was a great way to associate the YouTube Symphony Orchestra and Tourism Australia! 

 The concept had double benefits for Tourism Australia; at the end of the campaign they had produced:
1/beautiful music tracks
2/ unique branded content

This is episode 1:
 

Very smart indeed when you know that:
1/ most users turn to social networking for exclusive information and not only for commercial offers/freebies
2/ visuals are one of the most powerful triggers for travel!

To me the success of the campaign lies in a very simple insight: you can’t go wrong when you produce quality content!

 But quality content is only the beginning of the story, what made it a success (once again simple but powerful) was the paid & earned distribution strategy of this content. 

The 4 short movies were released one after the other to build momentum towards the final YouTube Symphony Orchestra event at the Sydney opera house on March 20th 2011.

For maximum viewership the episodes were first released on the Tourism Australia website, branded YouTube channel and Twitter feed. Users were invited to engage with interactive features on the Facebook page and via the YouTube Symphony Orchestra portal. The musicians themselves were blogging/tweeting and Facebooking about their Australian journeys. It was authentic and real, so the audience was ready to carry it! Because it was content, and not ads, global media platforms also picked up the films… and here you are, that created the amazing ripple effect that we know: 2.7 million episode views and Australian version of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra final concert generated a record high 33 million views globally! What a great exposure for Australia as a tourist destination!!

Congrats to everyone involved in this campaign for beautiful ideas, music, people and places together!

Good luck in New York!

Marie Sornin

 

I met someone who invents the future!

If you would meet Elizabeth Churchill, you would want to know all she knows! Elizabeth is a Senior Research Scientist in the Internet Experiences Group at Yahoo! and she knows a lot of things you want to ask questions about!

In a very simplistic way, what Elizabeth and her team do at Yahoo! Labs, is analysing all sorts of data and known human behaviour to understand what triggers reactions to situations. Based on this understanding scientists are able to find out what would best suit our needs, apply this to technology and invent products that we will want to use in the future! In reality, it is far more complex and involves a lot of research, statistics, predictive modelling, testing and engineering… but you get the idea!

Future1

By the way 4Cast is one of those futuristic ideas and the research group at Yahoo! needs some feedback, so jump in and try!! 4Cast is a game of friendly competition where players cast their predictions on topics that interest them the most

They have also invented Yahoo! Zync, a prototype plug in that allows you to watch videos together with your friends, in sync and in real time. Instead of just IMing URLs and waiting for your friends to watch, Zync allows you to converse about a video (pausing, jumping back, and watching together with a friend). Both videos stay in sync.
So, to all, like me who were convinced that IM had been killed by Facebook chat… Think again, this type of tool has high “usefulness” (not usability)… and from an advertiser’s standpoint, the engagement metrics are through the roof!

Elizabeth is originally a doctor in psychology; her recent focus has been insights into social media, emerging digital media and the shifting landscape of people and groups that make up internet life. Some of her core beliefs about the future of digital are around the social psychology of trust and the notion that we are social not networked!

Not easy to summarise, but here is my go at it:
The social psychology of trust highlights the very fine line between content being relevant to creepy! With system like OAuth we have stepped into a world where our data travels with us from device to device; it allows us to get access to very personalized information until that information gets slightly too personalized (or put in the wrong context) and we totally lose the trust we had in a platform. This will have high implication in the future for behavioral target and single sign on!

We are social not networked: The relationships we have with people are very different according to who we are talking to. Your work colleagues might not know that you are passionate stamp collector! The way you behave, what you share with your mad stamp collector friends is totally different from what you share with your family, work colleagues or uni friends. Elizabeth is convinced that social networks need to move way beyond custom groups and discussion boards to remain relevant and to survive the growing privacy concerns

It suddenly gives you a different perspective when an academic scientist talks about digital and social media, doesn’t it?
If you are interested in reading more, a number of Elizabeth’s research studies can be found here.

Marie Sornin