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Trivera’s Tom Snyder Speaks at MBA Women’s Council

Trivera President and CEO Tom Snyder spoke at the April 2011 MBA Women's Council Lunch and Learn, on April 13, 2011. The event was presented by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Builder's Association Women's Council. The presentation, "Social Media, Fun and Games or Powerful Business Tool," included an overview of Social Media, including the need for a Strategy, an analysis of the various general uses of Social Media, and a look at the major tools and sites.

Details of the event are here, and the PowerPoint Presentation is here!

Trivera's Tom Snyder Speaks at Local Conference

Tom SnyderTrivera President and CEO Tom Snyder spoke at the 2011 Building Science Conference on March 23, 2011. The event, presented by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Builder’s Association covered a wide range of topics relevant to builders and the vendors who support the construction industry. The presentation, “Build your Bottom-Line with Social Media," included an overview of Social Media, including the need for a Strategy, an analysis of the various general uses of Social Media, and a look at the major tools and sites.

Details are here

Update:  Powerpoint presentation is available here.

 

Potawatomi Bingo Casino Bets on Trivera and Concrete5

Potawatomi Bingo Casino is one of the most state-of-the-art gaming facilities in the Midwest. So it would only make sense for their new site to be built on one of the web’s most comprehensive, state-of-the-art development platforms. An all new version of Paysbig.com, the website for Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, built on the Concrete5 development platform, was launched by Trivera Interactive on December 13, 2010.

The project began with the strategic decision by the Casino to empower the managers of the many business units to update their own areas of the site with a tool that could balance power with ease of use. While Trivera has worked with several different content management systems, concrete5 was mutually determined to be the best choice for Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s new site. A relative newcomer to the CMS arena, concrete5’s array of powerful plug-ins, extensions and add-ons, plus an extremely user-friendly administrative interface made it an obvious choice.

The new website is not the first major initiative undertaken by Milwaukee’s Trivera Interactive for Potawatomi Bingo Casino since becoming their primary web and interactive services partner early in 2010. The relationship began with a migration of all of the Casino's web assets to Trivera’s world-class hosting center. Trivera has also migrated and updated other online systems used by the Casino.

While Trivera has developed hundreds of complex web-based applications for clients over their 15 years in business, with dozens built using various content management systems, the new Potawatomi Bingo Casino site was their most ambitious site to date created using concrete5. The wide and varying business units within the Casino include several restaurants,  entertainment venues, bingo hall, off-track betting room, table games and slot machines. Trivera’s decision to use concrete5 to be the platform to bring all those business units to the website proved to be the right one as the project launched, fully functioning on the originally scheduled launch date, on time, on scope and on budget.

Potawatomi’s web administrator Christopher Graham says: “I really am amazed how the Trivera team was able to take my mock-ups and bring them to life. Also, I was thrilled with their feedback, communication and forward thinking."

Trivera President Tom Snyder added: “It’s amazing to see what happens when incredible talent, a proven process, powerful tools, mutual respect and hard work all come together.

About Potawatomi Bingo Casino:

Located at 1721 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI, Potawatomi Bingo Casino is the Midwest's number one entertainment destination. With nearly 100 table games, 3,100 slot machines, 1,350-seat Bingo Hall, Poker Room and Off-Track Betting Room, the Casino offers thrilling action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Casino also has a 500-seat theater that features world-class entertainment and five unique restaurants including, The Buffet, Dream Dance Steak, The Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, Menomonee Valley Food Court and RuYi. For more information, visit paysbig.com.

About Trivera:

Located in the historic Menomonee Falls Mill building in suburban Milwaukee, WI, Trivera Interactive is one of the region’s oldest and most respected Web development, e-commerce and marketing firms. Since 1996, focusing first on website design and development, and branching out into email marketing, search engine optimization and Social Media, Trivera has been helping businesses and organizations all over the world use its unique combination of smart design and creative technology to leverage the web as a powerful brand reinforcing tool. Trivera clients include General Mitchell International Airport, Usinger’s Famous Sausage, Frabill, RegalWare Worldwide, ZBB Energy and dozens of other local, regional and national businesses and organizations.

Foursquare Marketing E-book by Trivera President Tom Snyder released by Penguin Books

Hot off the virtual presses, Penguin Books has released The Complete Idiot's Mini Guide to Real-Time Marketing by Trivera President Tom Snyder. This e-book is a quick read, and is essential for anyone with a brick and mortar location who wants to capitalize on the segment of Social Media known as Geo-location marketing.

Foursquare is a website that allows members to use their mobile devices and smart phones to "check in" wherever they go, and if they wish, Tweet about it or post it to their Facebook page. While originally a way for people to hook up with their friends, Foursquare's point system and badge awards turned it into a game. It wasn't long before businesses started to figure out how to use it to drive traffic to their locations by offering special prices and other promotions to people who checked in at their locations.

About the new e-book, Penguin says: Social media marketing is here in force and is the wave of the future. Using it wisely can mean big profits -- with little expense. But marketing in real-time on Foursquare.com is unlike other social media, and can be both confusing and daunting. Fear no more! The Complete Idiot's Mini Guide to Real-time Marketing with Foursquare gives you everything you need to know to make marketing on this website popular and profitable. In this invaluable guide, you'll learn about creating and managing your venue, superusers, badges, creating specials, and finding customers -- all the basics for a great Foursquare marketing campaign and so much more!

The Complete Idiot’s Mini Guide to Real-Time Marketing takes you through the steps to get you familiar with the site, make sure your location is "check-in"-ready, helps you create specials, measure and improve upon your success, and even offers a few case studies of several successful businesses who have used Foursquare to make their cash registers ring.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Real-Time Marketing is only $1.99 and is available for the Kindle at Amazon.com or for the Nook at BarnesandNoble.com

The Dilemma of Authenticity, Transparency and Limited Resources

The foundational components of any effective Social Media strategy are authenticity and transparency, especially if blogging and microblogging are part of that strategy.

The power of Social Media comes from the personal brand that is being built by an author, and the benefit a corporate brand derives by having that person engage an audience in the Social Media community.

But what if the real voice and face of your brand is just too busy to participate?

My company has been the online services partner for one of our area's most visible brands for nearly a decade and a half. While they know their brand better than anyone else, we know their brand in the online space as well as, or even better than they do. If they could afford to pay me enough to leave the company I own and be on their payroll, I'm probably the most qualified person to BE them in the Social Media sphere.  But they can't, and so we work with them as a vendor.

For blogging, we  told them that unless it was actually the corporate face of the brand who's doing the blogging, they really shouldn't do it. A ghost-written blog is not a blog... it's really PR and needs to be renamed as such and moved to the appropriate area of the site. And so we used an integrated installation of WordPress on their site to post their press releases, giving them the RSS benefits of a blog, but clearly labeling it as "The News" and not a blog.

However, as an already popular location on Foursquare, not being on Twitter or Facebook wasn't an option for them. That put me in a weird position. Having developed their Social Media strategy, voice, rules and roles, and needing to accommodate their lack of time and internal resources, we decided to make Twitter a co-effort. Initially, I posted each Tweet, but only after their review and sign off. It was a clumsy process with some of them taking several back and forth edits prior to posting. However, that process resulted in an even better understanding for us, and an educational process for them. Eventually they realized it was just easier for them to post themselves, and a year later, we've gotten them to actually be doing all the Tweeting and Facebooking themselves. We still continue to monitor for brand mentions and let them know when they need to respond to something. But we showed them how to monitor, and they usually are finding things to post or Tweet about just as fast as we would have.  We still help them develop Social Media based promotions, and take care of the Web and housekeeping aspects of the strategy, but for the most part, they have become pretty much self sufficient.

It was a difficult path, because initially, it could have been regarded as a violation of the authenticity and transparency that Social Media requires. But the alternative was a brand eroding silence in the Twitter-sphere and on Facebook.

It's a tough decision that many are faced with: outsource or not participate. But because not participating is not an option, this creative approach may be the only solution available.

Twitter Followers for Your Business: From Zero to Hero

I recently tweeted a link to an article about Twitter that advocated a tactic of building a Twitter following by following people and hoping they follow back. A local business owner asked me if the "find, follow, and hope for followback" strategy actually works. It was a great question… one that takes a few more than 140 characters.

First it's a tactic, not a strategy…which I say not to be smart alec, but rather to impress the need to know your overall marketing strategy first, and then choose your tactics. Once you know your goals, objectives and target audience, then you can choose a tactic that will help you achieve those goals and objectives.

If you've just started your Twitter profile and have no followers, before you ask the question "who?" first ask "what?"

Ask yourself what you need to Tweet about that will make your target audience WANT to follow you. Get busy…even if you have no followers, yet…and start posting those tweets. When you follow someone and they wonder who you are, they'll check out your profile. You'll only have one chance to make a good first impression. So make sure that your profile is visually designed to communicate your brand identity, and filled out with a bio that describes your value proposition, and links to your site (or a page in your site that would be a compelling landing page for people coming from Twitter). But even more important, you want them to see a list of your recent Tweets. If there are a bunch and they're authentic, transparent, interesting, compelling and of value, they're more likely to follow you back.

So how do you choose who to follow hoping they'll follow you back?

I always have my clients start first with the media echo chamber. Traditional media hasn't died yet, and still has influence. Getting a local media outlet to follow you increases your chance of getting press coverage. I created a list of local media on Twitter for my clients in Milwaukee, and we look through the list and have them follow those outlets that give them the greatest chance of interest. To find a media list, simply do a search for media outlet you know by name in your community on twitter, and look for the "listed" link on their profile. You'll find a bunch of lists with other media outlets. Pick and choose strategically to follow the ones consistent with your brand and your target demographics.

Next find local influencers. For instance, if you're a Wine Shop, identify and follow the people who tweet about wine and wine tasting events. Don't just follow, REALLY follow. See what they're tweeting about, and who they're engaging in conversations with. Follow those people too. Is there a wine tasting or food event? See who's talking it up in advance. Follow them. The day of the event, if there's a hashtag, see who's tweeting the hashtag. Follow them.

But that still isn't enough to assure that you'll get follow backs. Begin to engage them. You're the expert, right? Ask them their opinions. Share information with them. Make recommendations. The relationship that develops will create its own network. Continue to extend that network by watching the followers of those in that network. Follow them. Engage. Expand. Repeat.

If you think all you need to do is start a Twitter profile, and follow millions of people hoping for follow backs, you'll not only fail to get meaningful results, but you're missing the point of Twitter entirely.

Social Media is about relationships. And that takes more effort than just a click of a "follow" button.

Trivera Chooses Magento for E-commerce

Trivera has been developing e-commerce enabled websites for clients in Milwaukee and the nation since 1996. While Trivera has experience in OSCommerce, X-Cart, ZenCart, Cube Cart, various platform dependent e-commerce plug-ins, and even our own proprietary product TriveraCart, no other e-commerce engine today posesses the power, flexibility and functionality of Magento.

And no other Milwaukee e-commerce developer posseses the breadth and depth of experience that Trivera does!

Trivera chose Magento as their preferred shopping cart solution while it was still in beta. Now after years of use, we're more convinced than ever that, if you need a world class e-commerce solution, there is no better choice than a Trivera configured Magento installation.

Our team of inhouse Magento developers and project managers give you people you can talk to... in your time zone and your language...who can understand and solve your business challenges, personally train you, and even your Milwaukee area brick and morter location for integration into to your P.O.S or accounting software.

Companies like Usinger's Famous Sausage, US PeaceKeepers, Frabill and others will tell you that a Trivera-installed and configured Magento e-commerce site is the smartest thing they've done for their online marketing strategy, and their bottom line.

Whether it's the Enterprise, Professional or Community version, Trivera's expert team is eager to begin fueling your e-commerce success with Magento!

10-4, Social Media – We Got Ourselves a Convoy!

When I started my digital agency back in 1996, I constantly ran into critics who called the Web "The CB radio of the 90?s." Eventually, as the web demonstrated it was more than just a flash in the pan, time has proven those critics wrong. But, I'm wondering where those same critics are today who would claim Social Media is the "CB radio of this decade?"

I ask because, unlike the criticism of the web, this time they could be right!

Friends in the Social Media universe know me as Triveraguy (my profile name on Twitter). But, back in the 70?s, another Social Media "community" knew me as Grouchy Bear.

The medium was CB, or "citizen's band" radio. The radios themselves had both a receive and transmit function, allowing anyone to engage in short blast broadcast conversations with other people who also had one. Originally used almost exclusively by the over-the-road truck driving community, it spread to include just regular folks, some using mobile devices, others using desktop units. The general communication happened on channel 19, where a constant cacophony of messages filled the airwaves… everything from truck drivers warning of speed traps or drunk drivers, stalled motorists asking for assistance, truck stops inviting drivers to their business or regular people just talking about such inane topics as where they were (your "10-20?) and what they were doing. As groups of friends and followers formed, other sideband channels became the gathering places for those communities. "Lower Channel 15? was the hangout for me, Bird Lady, Lannon Rich and at least a dozen others whose handles I've long forgotten.

The CB community used its own nomenclature…an almost secret code language…that longtimers helped create, and caused newbies to have to monitor for awhile before they dared to jump in and actively participate.

Community "leaders" emerged who organized meetups to allow all these people who had never met each other face to face to see the other folks behind the handles. Connections were made, and relationships were built. I even met a great guy I ended up hiring and we are friends to this day.

Non CBers just thought we were all nuts, but we were convinced everyone needed to be using CB radio. And our nearly evangelistic fervor drove our "non-enlightened" friends, neighbors and relatives crazy. But then CB radio started to show up in the consciousness of mainstream America. The movie "Smokey and The Bandit" hit the theaters and was a huge hit. C.W. McCall's song "Convoy" made the top of the charts and produced a movie of the same name. And there were the popular TV shows like "Movin' On" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" that glorified the whole CB lifestyle. We had arrived, and we knew it would only be a matter of time before we took over the world.

If you're one of us who are active in Social Media, I'm sure you see the stunning parallels. The reason I "get" Social Media is because, for me it really is just another stop in a series of subcultures that began with the hippie subculture of the 60?s and early 70?s, and after the CB radio adventure, went on to other religious, business and technological subcultures and has now culminated in Social Media. If you've ever been a part of a large multi-level marketing, religious or hobby-based subculture, you know exactly what I'm talking about when I say every one of them has so many of the same characteristics as Social Media, it's scary.

But all good things come to an end. In rare cases, subcultures grow and become so mainstream that they stop being subcultures and become part of the fabric of the culture at large. Others sink into insignificance and obscurity. Often it's because people move on with their lives. Sometimes, the technology that makes it possible gets trumped by something new. Frequently the whole subculture simultaneously has a "what were we thinking?" epiphany and it dies from mass exodus.

Universal acceptance for the CB subculture never materialized. It ended up being just another fad that exploded for a time, but eventually returned to its roots, still being used to this day, but almost solely by truckers.

So what ultimately happens to the Social Media subculture? Its fans believe Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and all the others will be like the Web and leapfrog into mass acceptance and live happily ever after. But, we've already seen MySpace begin to lose its luster. While nearly half of all Americans have a Facebook profile, Twitter's penetration is still significantly smaller, and according to Forrester Research, only 1% use check-in services regularly. With a business impact that's tinier than its zealots are willing to admit, its insider lingo, club-like characteristics, evangelistic fervor and the fact that in most markets, the Social Media community is only large enough to support the one or two businesses that are trotted out by the media as the "examples of success," the jury may still be out.

You could always tell a CBer by the long antenna on his car, truck or house. One of our clients told us the other day that she could tell us Twitter people because of the antennae that we have growing out of our own heads!

So all irrational exuberance aside, what do you think history predicts is next on the horizon for Social Media? Is Social Media headed for a "10-7" or will the future be "clean and green with the shiny side up and the greasy side down?"

Twitter – New Media, or News Media?

Is Social Media “ready for prime time?" A recent Midwest rainstorm provided the opportunity for Twitter to prove that TV isn’t the only medium that can cover a natural disaster. Will events like these…and how people use the Web…change the dynamic between traditional news media and social media forever?

See Trivera president Tom Snyder's blog for the full story.

Why I’ve Dumped Tweetdeck for Mixero

(also published on July 12 at Social Media Today)

Over a year ago, I wrote about Tweetdeck as my preferred desktop application to manage my Twitter account. Shortly after, I was introduced to Mixero, which I tried, didn't understand and summarily dismissed. After a few more months of thinking there just had to be something better, I gave Mixero another try. This time, I watched the video on their Web site to figure out what I missed the previous attempt, and I haven't looked back since.

As a disclaimer, I still use Hootsuite to schedule those Tweets with links to articles and blogs to be spread out over a full day instead of all going at the same time. I also prefer Hootsuite's ht.ly shortener so I can measure clickthroughs, but hate how much desktop real estate it takes up. But for day-to-day ongoing monitoring and management of my Twitter account, Mixero pretty much runs on my laptop 24/7.

Like Tweetdeck, Mixero runs on Adobe Air. Unlike Tweetdeck (and Hootsuite), Mixero gives you much better control over your desktop. While Mixero doesn't have some of the functionality of Tweetdeck (or Hootsuite), it more than makes up for it by making all the functionality most users need simpler, cleaner and taking up less space on your desktop.

The first thing you'll appreciate about Mixero is the way it runs in the background when you're engaged in other tasks. "Avatar mode" takes all the information you need…multiple accounts, groups, and new messages, replies and DMs and puts it in a semi-transparent one inch wide column at the edge of your desktop.

New messages in any groups/lists or channels are notated by means of an orange highlight with the number of new messages displayed. Mentions and Direct Messages also are highlighted, and a simple mouseover shows you the most recent message. Settings allow you to have it play a sound if you want to be notified of new posts, but the colored highlights are enough notice for me (and don't drive my dogs crazy like the sounds do).

Anytime you want to expand a group/list, or see all your mentions or DM's, you simply click on any of the icons, and Mixero expands to a solid mode, but still only takes of section of the desktop. The column contains messages that take up significantly less space than either Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. A column that displays only 5 messages in either of those displays 9-10 in Mixero.

Every expanded column allows you to filter the results by keyword, by users…by clicking on small avatars, all displayed at the top of the column…or both. You can also filter results by whether they contain replies, mark all as read, and display only the unread ones.

Each message contains a user avatar, and if the post is part of a conversation, icons display the other posts in that conversation as a small pop up. If the post itself contains a link to a photo, the photo displays in small pop-up. Other functionality available in each post includes single click reply, reply all, Retweet (classic or Twitter style adjustable in settings), Direct Message, mark as a favorite, translate from a foreign language, block user and report as spam.

Clicking on any person's name displays their time line in a full column, and tabs at the top allow you switch from time line to display of all tweets between you and them, and a profile display (with a notes field so you can add your own info about them). You can easily follow (or unfollow) from the profile view. Adding that person to a fully synchronized Mixero group/Twitter list is as simple as clicking on the list name. Several intuitive hot spots allow you to double click and go directly to the function you'd expect it to on the Twitter.com interface.

Mixero had groups before Twitter had lists, and in recent versions added full synchronization of its groups with Twitter public and private lists. Mixero's handling of groups is just one of several outstanding features that you can access when you expand the right panel. Also included in those options are channels (fully customized searches), followed lists, trending topics, and chats. The "contacts" column shows all your follows, sorted by group, with any ungrouped follows in a separate group a the bottom. Adding follows into a group is simple and you can select or even upload unique avatars for your groups to make them easy to spot when you add them to your main column.

There are a million other features, but the last big difference between Mixero and the others are the detachable, re-sizable columns. If you're the type that doesn't want to manage Twitter via a small column on the edge of your screen, you can choose, detach, drag, re-size and even stack whichever columns you choose to take up as much, or as little space as you want. As you fill your desktop, you'll be amazed at the number and variety of tweets. Here's a view of my typical full screen (sized at 1440 x 900). Compared with a full screen view of Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, I can't believe that anyone would be content with the comparative lack of visible, manageable Tweets.

As big a fan of Tweetdeck as I was, I've downloaded Tweetdeck updates several times since switching to Mixero, but each time I open it up, I'm immediately struck by just how much better Mixero is. As I mentioned previously, I still use Hootsuite, but if Mixero ever adds scheduled, measurable Tweets, I'll be saying to goodbye to Hootsuite like I did to Tweetdeck.

Mixero still may not be your cup of tea. With a plethora of Twitter tools available, finding one that you're comfortable with may result in a search that also includes Seesmic, PeopleBrowsr, Statuzer and a few others. But you owe it to yourself to at least check out Mixero.

Like the others, Mixero is free and available for download at Mixero.com. Be sure to watch the video (and read their blog) to get a tutorial on all the features.