Monday, June 29, 2009

What's Your Myers Briggs?

Dear Community,

A few weeks back, the Online Help Team did a personality type workshop. We structured our workshop loosely on the Colors framework, which is based on the Myers Briggs typology- the whole idea being, if you understand the strengths, weaknesses, motivations etc of your teammates, you will be a happier, more productive team.

The Online Help Team that sits in the US looks something like this

INTJ (me!)
(yes, we're a small team)

To be honest, I would have expected us to be more similar than we are, but, the great thing is, because we are do different, the division of labor is easier. The things I'm bad at, Andrew is really good. The things Allison is good at, I'm bad at. So essentially, Im bad at most things and my teammates make up for it.... But the division of labor thing is a nicer way of putting it. :)

I also had all of the Top Contributors on the Help Forum take the quiz to see their type-which, for me, was the most interesting of all. Again, a huge range of personalities, all attracted to similar work, but all approaching it with their own flare.

The full Myers Briggs test is long, but I found that this quick little quiz is pretty accurate when it comes to identifying your type. If you have a minute, its fun to see where you shake out. Anyone who ends up being an INTJ wins a prize :)


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yo Yoplait- Whats Up With This?

Dear Community,

On Tuesday I attended the BlogWell conference in San Francisco. In four hours, we ran through 8 case studies of big companies who use social media and, for the most part, are happy with it. That's a pretty reductive summary, but one of the takeaways is "people have short attention spans", so Im putting that into practice here.

The first session I went to was run by one of the marketing guys from General Mills who works on Yoplait Kids. As you may have guessed from the conference title, his job is to work with bloggers to generate buzz about his brand. More specifically, he conatcts "Mommy Bloggers" with information about Yoplait Kids, coupons, samples, prize packs, etc and then, the hope is, they will tip tap type away about how much Yoplaits' 60% reduction in sugar has saved their sanity. Or something like that.

A few things. I am all for giving voice to the customer- especially when this voice is handed to moms (who, in my opion, have historically got the short end of the marketing stick). But, as a blog reader, I really question the effectiveness of these endorsements. It seems too trasparent to me. Do you really love Yoplait kids, or do you love the fact that a Fortune 500 company is paying attention to your blog?

I ran into this a few months ago with one of my favorite blogs Coconut & Lime. The blog is beautiful- beautiful picture, great recipes, really good voice. Everything I have made from her site has been a smashing sucess. But then she had to go and start Food Maven. The point of this blog is to "shre food related thoughts, tips, and product finds"- light on the thoughts, heavy in the product finds. The blog is basically, buy this, try this, this is delicious, I love brand x, I love brand y. And yes, she even posts on Yoplait.

I unsusbscribed. I want engagement. I want to know how users are using these products. I want the back story on why they started trying them and, maybe even (gasp), what they didn't like. So, if you like Yoplait yogurt, I want to know the cool fruit salda recipe you made up using it. I want a picture of your kid throwing the yogurt all over your kicthen. I want more. More than just "this is so delicious. I couldn't stop eating it." Oh really? Because I'm pretty sure you could.

And this is what the conference missed for me. I think marketers are at the point where they know how to get on to blogs, but we are becoming savvier consumers. Any endorsement won't do. It has to be personal, and it has to feel personal. And I think the great thing about this kind of personalization is that it is hard to fake. If you really love something we will know, and we will buy it. Anything short of that won't work. At least not on me.

Happy Thursday,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meet Allison!

Dear Community,

Meet Allison. If I had to give you one sentence about Allison, its that she loves SunChips. No, she loves them. You think 8am is to early for Garden Salsa crisps? Think again- Allison would tell you they are perfect with coffee. The office just wouldn't be the office if it wasn't for her background munching throughout the day.

When she isn't eating chips, she works on the AdWords Help Center where she manages everything from search to known issues. She loves Analytics (which is great for me because she is constantly saving my butt) and is dedicated to figuring out why all of you love (and hate) our Help Center. All around she's a pretty great gal.

Actually, that totally selling her short (which, by the way, she is pretty short). I love Allison, which, given that our desks are 2 feet apart, is a good thing. She puts up with my desk crap over flowing into her area and has this contagious laugh that really makes it impossible to be in a bad mood. Plus shes always doing ridiculous things like posing for this picture in her new jacket (which she is still accepting feedback on- hot or not?).

So next time you are using our Help Center, you can picture Allison, in her weird jacket, eating SunChips, trying to figure out how to make the landing page better or the contact flow easier. We tried to get her picture uploaded onto the Help Center homepage to make this visualization easier but the UI group wasn't down. They don't know what they're missing...

Happy Tuesday,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bake Off

Dear Community,

Next week my team (Online Help) is having a cookie extravaganza. I don't want to ruin the surprise (you are probably all on the edge of your seat about now, waiting for a post) but I did want to share the amazing recipe that we are using for our cookies. For those of you who have been searching for the the all time best chocolate chip cookie recipe, I promise you, this is it.

More to follow next week....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Media Muddle

Dear Community,

Yesterday I went to this conference on Social Media. Given that I am not the biggest lover of conferences (somehow I always forget to take the sticky name tag off and it goes through the wash and ruins my clothes), this conference was pretty good. I think we are at a very exciting point in social connection and it allows companies to give their users more direction in the growth of their product.

But, I will say I left some of the sessions a little disturbed. At the end of the day, social media is about building communities- communities where people have real connections with other people in a way that allows them to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. And while technology has certainly assisted in the discovery of new, previously geographically bound communities, I think it might be making us a little lazy.

My brother's birthday was a few weeks ago and he found that people he had not spoken to in years were posting on his Facebook wall with well wishes. And the conclusion we came to is, despite the fact my brother never interacts with these people, they still feel connected to him, because they read his updates, look at his pictures, see that (thank god) he no longer likes Blink128. Which, on one hand is nice- because perhaps those people would have lost all touch had they not had Facebook. But, on the other hand, a lack of information (sans Facebook) might have motivated these people to make a real connection- to ask how their trip was, rather than seeing smiling pictures and assuming it went well.

I should fully disclose, I do not have a facebook account- Im actually kind of a hater in that department. I like hand written notes, and phone calls, and even more than that, I like visits. All things I don't think social media will ever replace. So my hope for all of these gung-ho social media-ites, is that we not forget the social interactions that inspire our online communities. That we always return to a core of human connection. Because its not about Twitter or facebook or Jaiku (The Twitter-esk product Google bought and no one uses) its about the people who use these platforms. And I would like to meet all of you- in 140 characters or less.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Desk

Dear Community,

This morning I was having coffee with a friend, and she commented that one's living space is really a reflection of their state of mind. If this is the case- I'm in trouble. This was actually my first thought when I came into work. My desk looked even more cluttered than usual. I tried to include some captions of all the crap I have strewn everywhere, but I took the picture on my cell phone, so they whole thing is pretty hard to read.

The funny thing is, I share an office with three other people (all of whom I hope to introduce you to someday) and it really is fair to say that our desks reflect our personalities. I have coffee cups everywhere, 6 pairs of shoes under my desk, gym clothes from weeks ago- tacky photo print outs people left by my desk to razz me. It really is a mess. Which isn't to say I'm a mess- more, hmmmm, I like to think of it is eclectic and zany. Along with fun, spontaneous, brilliant and incredibly attractive.

This is Andrew's (Online Help Webmaster) desk:
This kid is the most organized, highly motivated "get stuff done" person I work with. His desk always looks like this- which is to say, he didn't brush up for the photo shoot. He has ridden his bike 30 miles, had breakfast and gone through all of his email by the time I start picking through my desk coffee cups to see if one is clean. And, if we are going with the "you are what your desk looks like" theory- he really is like his desk- or something like that.

So, in an effort to "get more done", I am turning over a new leaf and setting a few goals for the desk space:
1) Only two pairs of shoes under the desk at once
2) Only 2 coffee cups on the desk at one time
3) Spend 10 minutes every Friday "tidying" things up

I'll check back with you in a few weeks so you can see if I have many any progress. And, for those of you that keep desks like Andrew's, I could use any and all advice that you have.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Fix My Mixer

Dear Community,

A few weeks ago I decided to make my very first tart. Whenever I go to bakeries, I always think they are so pretty, but I'm cheap so I usually end up getting my finger prints all over the case pointing at everything and then I promptly leave. So, being a lover of DIY, I thought making one was a good solution to my unadulterated cheapness.

Oh my lord. Tarts are hard. Hard hard hard. And, not to ruin the suspense, but I never actually came out with a complete product. What I did come away with was an undying love for KitchenAid. If it was legal in the state of California, I would have married the entire company on the spot.

It started when I put about 8 cups of flour into my somewhat new food processor. Apparently 8 cups is about 6 cups too much because I ended up covered in flour with a faint smell of something burning and a non functional food processor. This is why I love DIY.

So being the righteous consumer I am, it took me all of 3 minutes to dig around for the KitchenAid 1-800 number (on a Saturday non the less!!) where I called up Shirley or Sherry or Sheila or something (I'm easily forgetful in a rage) to rant about my newly broken gadget.

And just like that, she sent me a new one. She asked me about 2 questions, decided it sounded pretty broken and had a brand new one at my door in 3 days- and KitchenAid isn't exactly right around the corner from where I live.

This is the kind of customer service I want in my life. And, to be honest, the reason I was so impressed with KitchenAid, is because it is a rarity in most of my consumer interactions.

And this is what I spend a good deal of my time thinking about these days. Yesterday I called the 1-800 on my shampoo (!!) bottle and Karen answered in 30 seconds and we chatted briefly about the ideal amount of shampoo to use (that said, Karen said very few people ring her up). This is what I want for AdWords- not that you call me up when you have questions about your shampoo (Karen can help you with that), but that everyone feel that, when they have a problem, there can be some immediate (or reasonably immediate) resolution.

And, I don't have any real answers about how we move closer to this. AdWords isn't like KitchenAid, and it certainly isn't like shampoo. But, in the same breath, we are a product, purchased by consumers, and as long as I can get a new food processor in 36 hours, we have to realize that we exist in a support community where people demand a lot of their companies. And they should because we can do it. And I think we will.

I'm still looking for a good tart recipe, if people have any recommendations, send them my way.

The Panda Dilemma

Dear Community,

A few weeks ago I started posting a daily Panda picture on my Twitter stream. Its just a picture, no comments, no follow up on how to increase your AdWords ROI- just a rolly polly panda- sometimes even two or three of them. And, as I'm sure many of you Twitter fanatics do, I post the link to the pictures using a tinyURL so I can see just how many people also love pandas.

As it turns out- lots of people love pandas. In fact, Allison, who sits next to me (and who you will all get to meet in detail in a later post) asked that I post a video on AdWords optimization (a really cute video I will add) and to her absolute dismay- the pandas got more clicks than the video.

Which is why I am now sharing this blog with you, because its not that pandas are more interesting than optimization videos- its that we need both. You can borrow sugar from your neighbor because you feel like you know them. If you got a random bag of white sugary looking substance in the mail from some "weirdo" online, you would/should probably call the police.

And, while I know that we may never be sugar sharing neighbors (some of you health nuts out there probably wouldn't even want my sugar), I would like our online communities to move in this direction- where Pandas meet AdWords.

Which is a long winded wind up, simply to say: welcome to my blog.