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SXSW 2011 Recap: Chop Shop / Atlantic Records Party

Rhydian Dafydd, on bass and Ritzy Bryan, on guitar - rock out at the Chop Shop Records / Atlantic Records SXSW Party 2011, enabled by Cisco Eos

At SXSW, with hundreds of bands, singer / songwriters, DJ / producers, playing across the city, I was reminded of why record labels are important. You need them for the curation and aggregation of the music. Otherwise, in a sea of music, there are less avenues to find a good group of similar artists you may like.  Last year at the Bandwidth Conference in San Francisco, we heard music industry luminary and Elektra Records founder, Jac Holzman, opine on the importance of labels as curators (watch video here).

I attended many record label showcases at SXSW 2011 that proved this point – including two showcases enabled by Cisco Eos: The Killers Lasers Papers showcase which was hip hop / R&B focused (link to our review), and the primarily indie rock driven Chop Shop Records / Atlantic Records SXSW Party.

If you are reading this post before March 27th and you register at several of the artist sites of the bands who played the Chop Shop / Atlantic showcase including – kittentheband.com, scarson45.com, republictigers.com, thejoyformidable.com – you’ll be entered to win a custom designed Flip MinoHD™. The custom artwork on the Flip reflects the talents of Portugal The Man lead singer, John Gourley, who created the painting for the showcase poster.

I had not heard any of the Chop Shop Records bands before the event, and I was pleasantly surprised once the showcase got going. All the bands put on monster performances. I thought to myself again, “great curation at work”. The showcase started off with Kitten The Band, led by vocalist / guitarist Chloe Chaidez. Chloe was thrashing about during the 5 song set with a powerful voice and a confident stage presence. The music reminded me of early years of The Cure.

When Chloe of Kitten got off stage, I got to talk with her briefly about how she uses social media to connect with fans. The Atlantic Records team kindly let me know she’s only 16 years old. You would need to get up close to the stage to even guess Chloe’s age because she performs so confidently, yet sure enough she’s a soft spoken fresh faced teen when not singing. Each of the bands I talked with during the showcase have a specific social media channel that they like to use as their primary means of communication with fans. Chloe of Kitten’s social media platform of choice to talk to fans is Facebook;  I guess like you would expect of a teenage girl.  John Gourley of Portugal The Man emphasized he’s all about Twitter. For the U.K.’s Scars on 45, video blogging is the primary way they communicate to fans. In the clip, they talk about the video they shoot and other methods they use to communicate with fans, including via their Cisco Eos powered web site – Scarson45.com.

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The Social Soap Box: Lady Gaga, Social Media and B2Bs

I was at the Lady Gaga concert at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA last night in what initially was another routine concert outing (I average about five concerts a year) that quickly turned into my own personal tour on how Miss Gaga does social media. Even before the Oracle Arena opened its doors to her loyal fans, Gaga participated in an interactive Q&A session at Google HQ earlier which garnered approximately 40,000 questions after days it was announced via her YouTube channel.  

At the concert, the two massive digital screens displaying a  live Twitter stream of tweets from fans were expected, but to top that off, she used text messaging to raise awareness and money for her favorite charities. While on stage, she called one fan who attended the concert to personally thank him for the donation.  I even conducted my own impromptu poll with a handful of excited fans. Surprisingly however, most didn’t know she was hip on social media or followed her on Twitter or Facebook. I’m sure if I polled at least half of the concert goers, the results would differ dramatically. The numbers don’t lie. Gaga is still the most socially networked star.

Given all the coverage on Gaga’s use of social media, it’s no surprise that more celebrities are jumping on the social media band wagon to give their personal brands a major social boost.  But can the same social media playbook that helped elevate these personal brands be used for B2B brands?  To enlighten us, I turned to social media expert and blogger for ZDNet, Jennifer Leggio for her candid thoughts.

Despite Lady Gaga’s extreme physical presence, she’s maintained a level of approachability with her fans online. She treats them as if they are a part of her success, rather than merely the reasons for her success. People are fans generally because they want to feel included in something bigger than themselves and Lady Gaga gives hers an opportunity to do that by showing her true self — behind the wigs, 10-inch platforms and make-up — digitally.

I absolutely believe that B2B companies can learn from Lady Gaga and her online presence success. I think, to boil it down, companies need to stop being afraid of their customers and allow them to feel as if they are a part of the company. Despite the advances in social media over the last few years, many companies are still afraid to invite their customers in via blogs or online communities, and they don’t realize how that might alienate otherwise loyal customers. Companies, considering disclosure issues of course, should also be as open with their customers as possible. Allow their executive teams to be real – Cisco’s own Padmasree Warrior is a great example of that. This not only establishes thought leadership but also a human factor that draws in customers and partners.

– Jennifer Leggio

Well said, Jennifer! And since I rarely get to blog about music for Cisco but often share my favorite SOTD (song of the day) with friends on Facebook and Twitter,  I’ll leave you with my Gaga SOTD. Enjoy!

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SXSW Recap: Panels, Concerts and Showcases

SXSW has become an increasingly important event for the media and entertainment industry. The numbers themselves are telling—the show has had five+ years of double digit growth, and organizers said there was a 40 percent increase in registrations for the interactive portion this year compared to 2010.  On the music and film side, organizers said that last week, the city of Austin, TX saw 2,000 bands perform on 92 stages, and there were more than 275 film screenings.

While the conference and festival’s increased prominence brings more eyeballs, it also means it’s harder to stand out from the crowd. Brands need a strong online presence to create interest and drive audiences to their physical events.

Not only did we participate in the conference portion of the festival, but Cisco Eos powered the sites behind Atlantic Records’ SXSW events, driving interest and real value over the course of this much anticipated event. These turned out to be some of the highlights of SXSW: Read More »

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Executive Social Engagement

Last week, the co-manager of the Cisco Networking Academy Facebook page (@HilalChouman) pointed out an amazing customer post to me.

Ricardo Beltran’s girlfriend had baked him a custom Cisco birthday cake that obviously showed his dedication to Cisco. He was so proud of it, that he shared it on the Networking Academy Facebook page for all 188k fans to see.

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Internet Lifelines During Crises

In the last few years, technology has proven itself to be a mobilization powerhouse for disasters. Tales from the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami abound. From the senior project manager who used Google’s People Finder tool to locate his Japanese grandfather, to the young schoolteacher who broadcast pleas for help via Twitter before the nearby nuclear plant exploded, technology has become a pivotal player in guiding relief efforts, making connections and educating people about disasters. Here are a few ways technology has proved its usefulness.

1. A tool in relief efforts

A key to successful disaster relief management is the rapid deployment of information and resources. People are often displaced and don’t know where to go or what to do. Buildings are destroyed. People missing. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Google collaborated with GeoEye to display images of destruction so organizers could identify areas in need of support. Here are some examples of those images.

A similar effort was made in Japan. Search and rescue teams are, as of this article, using this information to map and assess the damaged areas so they can respond, recover and rebuild.

Using technology to assist in disasters is not new. Cisco Systems was one of the first technology responders to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, providing mobile communication kits and networks to support the massive data infrastructure needed in relief efforts.

2. Generating support

Donations are essential in providing just in time services to those in need. The immediacy of technology makes it easy to appeal to human sentiment with immediate calls to action. Apple first added a page to its iTunes store for Haitian earthquake relief and now continues the practice for Japan. The Red Cross elicits donations through its Twitter feed and via text messages. This fundraising method garnered more than $4 million for Haiti. To amplify the efforts of the Red Cross, Mashable promoted its code snippet for blog and website owners to use in soliciting additional donations.

3.  Connecting friends and family

At the time this post was written, more than 5,000 people had died and 9,500 were missing due to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Almost half a million are in shelters. Immediately following the crisis, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a message to U.S. citizens in Japan encouraging them to contact their family and friends using SMS texting and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. According to the Poynter Institute, a journalism school and resource, the Twitter hashtags #prayforjapan and #tsunami received thousands of tweets per second and a Facebook page set up for the disaster attracted more than 3000 followers in less than 12 hours.

Website registries have been set up to connect families and friends of those in the affected areas of Japan. In an effort to better consolidate registries and provide a single point of connection, Google has launched an open source multilingual and bilingual people finder tool for Japan to serve as a directory and message board for families and friends, as it did for the earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and New Zealand, Within the first few hours of launching, the tool logged more than 4,000 records.

4. Preparedness

Videogames and simulation software are another way responders are preparing for disasters. Software companies are creating mashups that combine satellite images, maps and spreadsheet data to create disaster scenario planning tools. Depiction is one such simulation application, used to train first responders. The tool combines live data feeds to create a dynamic tool that can be used for scenario planning, resource management, and logistics. Users can create alternative rescue routes, for example, by inputting data streams into the system real-time.

5. Education

Children are one target group that organizers are keen to educate. The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) argues that children are amongst the most vulnerable to disasters but also the best positioned to be trained as future leaders, architects and urban planners. In response to this need, the ISDR created a multilingual online simulation game, Stop Disasters, to teach children about how to build safer cities and villages.  Players can select one of five scenarios including a tsunami, earthquake, wildfire, flood or hurricane. They are given a budget and limited time to safely house residents, build hospitals and schools, retrofit buildings, and equip those buildings with evacuation plans and early warning systems.  They learn how the location and construction of housing materials can improve the outcome of a disaster and how evacuation plans can help save lives. After the disaster hits, the user is scored on their success and told how they could have better prepared.

The Day the Earth Shook” is an earthquake preparedness game for children created by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Created by the Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Center for Public Safety and Justice, the game gives children the opportunity to explore a virtual world in which they learn how to create a disaster kit, locate safe locations in a home and safety tips.

6. Building and Rebuilding

The Global Innovation Commons is a vast database of over 500,000 energy-saving technologies with expired or abandoned patents. The goal of this organization is to provide access to open source technologies for life saving energy, water and agriculture devices. The patents in the database could save more than $2 trillion in license fees combined. But like most open source models, if you use anything in the database, you are encouraged to share your story with the community. In this video, Dr. David Martin, the founder of the Global Innovation Commons, talks about the organization:

While technology can’t bring back lost lives or repair billions of dollars in destroyed homes and businesses, it has proven itself to be an indispensable resource. And while technology’s role in connecting people through social media is invaluable, I do hope we can harness its powers to diminish the tragic effects of such disasters in the future.

Do you have examples about how technology is being used to assist in disasters or educate the public on preparedness? Share your comments below.

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