Armadillo Studios Inc.

SXSW09: Saturday Wrap-Up

Saturday’s adventure in SXSW started off with two interesting talks, well it actually started with a trip to “Taco Shack down the street”:http://www.tacoshack.com/subframes/locations.html for breakfast tacos.

The first session dealt with “speed times and how to improve web site loading issues”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0901285. While the second panel of the day “dealt with the difference between print content and how the speed of the web has lost some of the design of print technology”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0900291. Neither one was a show stopper, but both provided some great ideas on how to technically improve web site loading times and some neat ideas of transposing the beauty of magazine design in to blog posts.

The Keynote by Tony Hsieh was a one of the best opening day remark sessions in recent memory.

For those unfamiliar with Tony, he is the CEO and brain trust behind “Zappos.com”:http://www.zappos.com/ a large online shoe company that has built and banked its reputation on exceptional customer service.

“Tony’s keynote was widely entertaining and enthralling”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0901393. It was a great conversation on how to balance the pressures of becoming a large business and answering to the balance sheets with building a great company based on a strong principal of great company culture. It was interesting to hear about their $2,000 offer to quit during training and concepts like using “Twitter to foster an internal corporate community”:http://twitter.zappos.com/.

If your curious a graphical representation of Tony’s Talk can be found on “the main interactive site.”:http://sxsw.com/files/u5/Tony-Hsieh-at-SXSW-09-Sunni-Brown.jpg

!http://sxsw.com/files/u5/Tony-Hsieh_SXSW-09_Sunni-Brown-sm.jpg!

The final conversation of the afternoon was hosted by Jeffery Zeldman on “the transition from Freelance to an Agency”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0900593. This was an inspirational session filed with great tips for companies in the middle of the transition from a small freelance agency to a big 5-10 person agency.

SXSWisEASY Experiment

And finally what would a SXSW conference be with out a bit of a Social experiment?

Well, the SXSWisEASY collective spent our free time on “Saturday launching out own little experiment.”:http://sxswiseasy.com/2009/03/what-do-you-see-at-sxsw/ we’ve handed out 8 disposable cameras to random people at SXSW and we are asking them to take five-six photos and then passing the camera on to completely random SXSW stranger. Once the camera is finished people will return them to us and we’ll post their images online for people to use.

We’re pretty excited about the idea and think we’ll have some interesting photos from people.

SXSW09: Armadillo Studios At SXSW’09

For the second time in 2 years Armadillo Studios Inc. is taking on Austin for SXSW 2009.

We’ll be down there working the conference circuit, meeting old friends and “promoting SXSWisEASY”:http://sxswiseasy.com. Armadillo will also be posting updates and information on a regular basis throughout the conference. Please follow along here on our corporate web site or with our corporate twitter account at “www.twitter.com/armadillostudio”:http://www.twitter.com/armadillostudio We will be learning what is new and emergent in the web design industry and would like to pass that wealth of knowledge on to our valued clientele.

If your at SXSW this year, check out “our schedule”:http://sxsw2009.sched.org/ctoverdrive and come up to us and say hi.

*Update:* Highlights of each day of the conference are now posted.
# Saturday: “Saturday Wrap-Up”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/sxsw09-saturday-wrap-up/
# Sunday: “Sunday’s Core Conversations & The Future of Blogging”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/sxsw09-core-conversation-sunday-blogging-and-its-future/
# Monday: “Pictures & Diagrams – Monday’s Wrap-up”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/sxsw09-pictures-and-diagrams-in-thoughts-monday-wrap-up/
# Tuesday: Coming Shortly

Twitter For the Calgary Market

The buzz about twitter in Calgary is starting to take off. Over the past few days twitter has been a feature cover story on “FFWD”:http://www.ffwdweekly.com/article/news-views/news/digital-dialogue-3399/, “The Calgary Herald”:http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Twitter+giving+life+quips/1356810/story.html , “The MetroNews”:http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/192234
and started to hit a breaking point with a segment on “CFCN’s evening broadcast”:http://calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090305/CGY_twitter_calgary_090305/20090305?hub=CalgaryHome. With local media outfits like “CTV”:http://twitter.com/ctvcalgary, “CBC”:http://twitter.com/cbccalgary and the “City of Calgary”:http://twitter.com/cityofcalgary embracing the platform Calgary is about to become overwhelmed by the Twitter movement.

So how can your business take advantage of the wealth of new users based in Calgary?

Tips Before you Start

Your first impression on Twitter is *far more important* than any other first impression online.

When a follow notification is sent to a user, the *first thing people judge is your home page* – the look of your homepage, the types of tweets you’ve published and the ratio of followers to following. This combination of information will provide users with the justification on whether to add you to their following stream.

The thing to remember is that unless “people follow your twitter account, your tweets are going to fall on deaf ears”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123638550095558381.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. Noise and tweet pollution are becoming a pet peeve with most users at the moment and as the community grows this is going to become a stronger issue for many. So your first impression is critical to the success of your Twitter venture.

Simple Tips To Get You Started

Our first bit of advise is to take your time with the process. Do not rush into creating an account.

Really think about why you want to use Twitter to connect with potential customers and what you hope to get out this account. Before you start searching and connecting with local Calgary twitters *post 5-7 tweets with valuable information*. Provide users a welcome message, an introduction, a link to features about your company in the local media, maybe even a couple of specials discounts, or even photos of “your storefront on flickr”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/28465177@N00/3245465405/. Just make sure you have some interesting content for people to look at when they first land on your homepage.

The next bit of advice is to *be patient and persistent*. Tweet regularly and engage in conversations with your followers. Don’t expect the community to embrace your business and grow without putting in some effort.

So how can you use your Twitter account to help your business in Calgary?

Twitter Consulting Sessions For The Calgary Market

Members of the Armadillo Studios Team have been early adapters of Twitter. Over the past two years we have been following and watching the trends. With the media attention given to Twitter in the Calgary Market, we’ve decided to share our experience with local businesses to help them make the most out of Twitter and to bring something to the local Calgary Twitter community.

It is because of this that we are offering *Twitter Consultation Sessions*.

These sessions provide the following:

* *1 hour Twitter Consultation Session* with your company to brainstorm the goals for setting up an account.
* We’ll provide training (on etiquette and proper usage), tips on how to find customers and help create a list of specific ideas on how to interact with your potential audience.
* Information regarding the *Latest Tools and Applications* to enhance your businesses’ Twitter Account.
* Customized graphics package for your Twitter Account. (includes a customized *Background Image* with detailed information, *A customized Avatar* and *Matching Layout Color Scheme*)
* A customized *Tip Sheet* for your own reference.
* Tips on how to integrate your Tweets into your Corporate Web Site. (Integration with your current site is an additional cost.)
* Follow-up 20 minute session (2 months later) to see how we can better utilize your account.

A *Twitter Consultation Session* costs $135 (+GST) for the full package. If you are interested in this offer please email us at info@armadillostudios.ca, call us at *403.467.2914* or of course contact us on twitter: “@armadillostudio”:http://twitter.com/armadillostudio

SXSWisEASY

For the second year in a row Armadillo Studios is proud to announce that we will be attending The “SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin Texas”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive. In preparation for the big event we are also extremely proud to announce, through an international collaboration with “Nonimage”:http://www.nonimage.com/ and “Stalelife Inc.”:http://www.stalelife.com/ we have launched a definitive guide to absolutely everything related to the SXSW festival in Austin Texas.

You can find this definitive guide at “SXSWisEASY.com”:http://sxswiseasy.com.

Designed with simplicity in mind, *SXSWisEASY* provides straight up information for everything related to SXSW. It covers everything from “essential elements of Austin TX”:http://sxswiseasy.com/austin/dos-donts/ to the Best “Interactive Parties”:http://sxswiseasy.com/interactive/parties/ all they way to a list of the “Social Do’s and Don’t of the Film Festival”:http://sxswiseasy.com/film/essentials/.

Essentially, everything you could possible need to know to prepare you for SXSW in one easy to read spot.

As a group we have also provided a break down of the best parties and best interactive sessions at the festival. Including our own take on why it’ll be worth sitting in on the session. A guideline to help you make the most of your time down there.

So please spread the word of SXSWisEASY, send it to anyone you know heading to Austin. Even start following the “SXSWisEASY Twitter account”:http://twitter.com/SXSWisEASY for the latest updates and information.

*A big thank you goes to our friends Kurt, Joey, and Andy for getting this project rolling and letting us take part. Thanks again guys*

Armadillo Arrives on Twitter

That’s right, “Armadillo Studios is officially on Twitter!”:http://twitter.com/armadillostudio.

It’s not secret, that members of the Armadillo Team have been avid users of “Twitter”:http://www.twitter.com for the past year and a half. So today we finally decided to take the big plunge and create an official Armadillo Studios presence on Twitter.

We will be connecting with some of our other friends through out the industry (Great companies like Stalelife, NonImage, PrairieHippo, louderthan10, Veer, etc.,) and also using this account to spread some of the twitter love around. We also plan to promote our blog posts, our client releases and to also forward on some of our favorite bits of advice from the Twitter-sphere. Essentially spreading the news and also answering any of our clients questions.

So if you have an account, what are you waiting for “start following us!”:http://twitter.com/armadillostudio – @armadillostudio

But Wait! What is Twitter?

Whoops! I guess we got a head of ourselves a bit.

For those unfamiliar, Twitter is one the most popular emerging Social Networking sites on the Internet today. As described on their web site:

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. People write short updates, often called “tweets” of 140 characters or fewer. These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.

In essence, Twitter is a great watercolor of ideas. (Thank you Andy for the description) A great way to connect, build relationships and share information.

Social Media Experts: Two Bits of Advice

If you’re looking for the hot catch phrase for 2009, look no further than the term _Social Media Expert_ or _Social Media Marketing_.

The Internet and the Web Design Industry is a buzz with this new term. While a select few are championing themselves as leaders in the Social Media field, many predominate members of the Web Design Industry are shunning the two terms and working to create a compressive definition.

We’ve been following “Roger Kondrat’s twitter feed”:http://twitter.com/roger for the past little while as he explores the topic and has dug up some interesting links. These articles have got the proverbial hamster wheel spinning a bit for the Armadillo Team and we would like to point out two extremely important ideas (or warnings) about Social Media from articles that Roger has posted.

So have a quick look over these two tidbits of cautionary advice and insight before looking at Social Media Marketing for your business.

What _Truly_ Defines someone as a Social Media Expert?

Enrique Guiterrez’s article on “Social Media Marketing don’ts and do’s”:http://enrique-gutierrez.com/2008/11/social-media-marketing-donts-and-dos/ has a series of important points to consider when approached by a Social Media Marketer, but the most important seems to be that a _true Social Media Marketer is not just an avid user of Social Media, but someone that will be able to explain how they will utilize Social Media to get your customers engaged_.

Many so-called Social Media Experts seem to be championing their followers, links or the size of their own audience as proof of their Social Media expertise. But this is alone odes not qualify some one as a true _Social Media Expert_. Instead these so-called experts should be detailing and justifying the various campaigns they have launched, the successful reinterpretations of brands for social media they have created and the business effects on their client’s campaigns.

As Enrique puts it, an expert who champions their audience will do nothing more than create an _Echo Effect_ in regards to your product. What you need to find is someone who understands Social Media and can think out side of the box. This individual must be able to look at a product and find ways to manipulate the most popular Social Media applications or sites to increase a products brand.

They should be able to explain your audience and then dissect what sort of applications or sites that audience utilizes that you could benefit from by having a presence.

Can Your Company Take advantage of Social Media?

Our answer is a resounding *Yes!*.

We here at Armadillo Studios believe there is great potential in Social Media Marketing; especially in the undeserved Southern Albertan market.

But as pointed out on Traacker’s list of “10 simple rules to tell who you are talking to”:http://traackr.com/blog/?p=36, it takes some understanding and patience to get true value out of Social Media Marketing.

As the article mentions, Social Media Marketing should be _a relatively inexpensive_ venue for promoting your business’ services. You do not need a large budget to get involved in Social Media Marketing; instead you need time, commitment and the persistence to let it grow. Many _So-called_ Social Media Markters are championing large advertising budgets and fast ROI on their campaigns.

In reality, these campaigns are relatively inexpensive and require a little bit of time to foster to fruition.

For example a Niche Bakery could set-up a _free_ “Twitter account”:http://twitter.com/about to update clients on the specials for that week. Or create a _free_ fan page on Facebook to notify their subscribers of specials, products or even some home made recipes. The only investment the bakery truly needs to create a community is a *small amount of dedicated time to constantly update* their Twitter/Facebook accounts, *some energy* to reach out to potential clients and *a web site as a focal point* for the community. As you can see this sort of campaign is relatively inexpensive (As signing up for most Social Media Networks requires zero investment costs), but it does require time and patience to foster a loyal community.

While it seems relatively easy for a Bakery to take advantage of Social Media, what about a legal firm? Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all great communities, but none of them necessarily fit the professional image of a Legal Firm. But a true successful Social Media Marketer will still be able to leverage other tools such as a Published Professional Article feed, LinkedIn Company page or other legal related communities to help showcase the Legal Firms Expertise.

While both examples are on different ends of the business spectrum; both campaigns require minimum monetary investment and time.

Are Social Media Campaigns Worth it?

We here at the old Armadillo Studios believe and champion Social Media and the tangible benefits that it can potentially bring to our clients. We have been working to launch integrated campaigns, but are not ready to call our selves fully-fledged Social Media Experts. We put together this little article to caution others before they get caught up in the excitement of social media and provide some information for potential clients.

If this topic interests you, please read “Aaron Roe Fulkerson”:http://www.oblogn.com/2009/02/01/social-media-expert/ list of Quantitative metrics for determining a Social Media expert or Mark Havenner’s article on “Measuring ROI of Social Media – Another Perspective”:http://seowizardry.ca/The_Wizards_Blog/measuring-roi-of-social-media-another-perspective/

LinkedIn – Should You be Using it on Your Consulting Site?

Do you know what “LinkedIn”:http://www.linkedin.com is?

Our guess is that you’ve probably never heard of it. Which is definitely fine?

At first glance, LinkedIn looks like another run of the mill social networking web site, albeit a professional version of Facebook. Just another Social Networking tool to post a profile, update for a couple of months and then ignore once the next fad comes around.

Unfortunately, that assumption would mean that you are missing out on a very powerful self-promotional and connection tool, especially if you’re a freelance consultant.

First and foremost, over 30 million users are currently utilizing the LinkedIn Social Network and that number is growing daily. Secondly, when used correctly, it is one of the most powerful tools to increase your professional online presence. (For a list of ideas on how to use LinkedIn, “read Guy Kawasaki ‘s post on the ten ways you can use Linkedin to enhance your connections”:http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/01/ten_ways_to_use.html ) Using LinkedIn’s connection matrix can garnish you dozens of new connections within any given Industry. In addition, you can utilize LinkedIn’s profile links to increase your search engine strength for your own personal web site. But more importantly the Discussion threads and Industry groups on LinkedIn can provide you a means to demonstrate your expertise.

And it is this final reason that we truly believe is LinkedIn’s greatest benefit and why, for our clients in the Southern Alberta region, *now is the time to get on the Linkedin bandwagon*.

We believe that establishing yourself within your key industry on LinkedIn or providing thoughtful comments to open discussions is a great way to increase your profile’s views. And the more profile views you can garner, the more likely you’re going to appear in a project managers or HR representatives search on _Industry Specific Consultants_.

One of the trends we’ve noticed is that the Oil & Gas and Energy Industries is one of the most poorly under representative groups in the LinkedIn network. Couple that observation with the growing popularity of LinkedIn within the Calgary/Southern Alberta region and this is a perfect time to start marketing yourself as an expert in _Oil & Gas Mineral and Contract Administration_ or as an _Energy Sector Consultant_. In particular to start curtailing your profile to attract people in this underrepresented market. (You can “view one of our profiles here”:http://www.linkedin.com/in/connorturner)

With an estimated value of close to “1 Billion dollars, LinkedIn”:http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/22/linkedin-announces-227-million-follow-on-round-from-sap-goldman-sachs-and-mcgraw-hill/
is a Social Networking Tool that appears to be establishing itself for the long run and a key Human Resources tool. So now is the time to set-up an account, link it to your web site, and get involved with your professional community.

Who knows where it will take you.