Sun Country Airlines Promotion Taking the MN Out of LocalMN

August 18, 2010

The title of this post looks negative at first. It’s not. It’s awesome!

Thank you, Sun Country and your Fall Free for All promotion for allowing me to take five straight weekend trips for not a lot of money. This way, I get to visit new destinations, meet people through social media connections, interact with businesses all while being in Minnesota during the work week.

So glad I saw this Twitter message:

When I visit local places, I plan to be social not just in person but online as well. Businesses who treat me well deserve to be mentioned on sites like Google Maps, Citysearch, Yelp, Twitter, Flickr and this blog.

Note – aside from the print yellow pages industry, I almost solely have positive things to say about businesses.

I’ll also be looking for hotels to stay. I’m not too picky. Fancy hotels are great although my needs are basically room Internet access and a bed.

Nonetheless, ten hotel stays in just over a month adds up. I would love it if a hotel chain (or any other business) would help sponsor this experiment in some sort of way. So far, I just followed a few hotels on Twitter, including:

I’ll try to follow a few more, too. Now, most marketing departments in the hospitality field will have some type of online reputation management program, which hopefully means they’ll see this blog post + notice that I follow them on Twitter.

So, wonderful hospitality industry folks. Please consider sponsoring this experiment in some sort of way. We all know that Word-of-Web marketing is like Word-of-Mouth except when online you’re telling everybody. I want to say nice things about you!

I have decided on four weekend places to visit: San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Boston. The other place or two will be decided later.

The plan will be to arrive at my destinations Friday evenings and find an event/attraction/anything blog worthy that night or Saturday. Then, I’ll make sure to use Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, local review sites and this blog to mention what hopes to be fun experiences. Sundays will mostly be returning to Minnesota.

I’m really looking forward to this and hope to showcase many worthy businesses across the country.

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Twin Cities Human Social Scavenger Hunt is Back!

April 24, 2010

I’m so glad. This is what made me join Twitter in the first place around 3 years ago. Today was the first 2010 Twin Cities human scavenger hunt from the Least Dangerous Game.

This is cool for many reasons. You learn new things about your area, you meet new people, and local businesses get both exposure and revenue!

@ldg left a couple initial Twitter clues which I didn’t quite get, then headed to Calhoun Square once I saw this Tweet:

Dump Updale

Dump Updale

Turns out when Calhoun Square was built, there was a big opposition because they thought it would suburbanize such an urban area. I did not know of this.

Anyway, I found Aric for the initial clue. He gave me a word puzzle which led me to Galactic Pizza to get a picture taken with one of their super-heros:

Galactic Pizza

Galactic Pizza

Another thing I didn’t know – their super-heros are the delivery folks. How did I not know this? This is awesome.

Then, they gave me this clue for the next stop:

What the...

What the...

I met another hunter and together took a 10-minute penalty to get the business name. Turns out if you switch the letters and numbers around, it says 2648 Lyn (short for Lyndale) which takes you to Robot Love.

Robot Love

Robot Love

I’ve driven past this place many times having no idea what was inside. They basically sell designer toys, books, clothing, etc. I’ll be back as a holiday or birthday shopper.

Then, the puzzle.

Nonogram

Nonogram

I was in the store with @MSPdude (Eric) and (I think) @Ry4an (Ryan) with his daughter in stroll. They were both figuring out the final nonogram clue while I was trying to figure out what the hell a nonogram was on my iThing.

Ryan solved it first, and 5 minutes later I conceded with this Tweet:

I Concede

I Concede

Got to my car, and saw Eric walking behind and into the Sauce Spirits and Soundsbar! Turns out my car was parked right at the final destination so I followed him in. I already conceded but it was fun to meet and enjoy food/drink with the participants. This pizza was really tasty, although I’m a spice wuss and just had a few bites.

Pizza at Sauce

Pizza at Sauce

Our server was nice enough to take our picture. I’ll be back. Sauce is a very cool place!

Myself, Aric, Eric

Myself, Aric, Eric

I really hope events like this flourish. Everyone wins including local businesses who take part. It’s also a great example on how to use social media tools like Twitter.

Thanks to Aric and all the local businesses to make this happen.

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NYC Dream Theater Ticket Giveaway – Human Scavenger Hunt Style

April 8, 2010

In July, I’m going to New York City with two tickets to see Dream Theater (DT) and will be giving away the other ticket randomly through a Manhattan human scavenger hunt. Why do such a thing?

A few reasons actually. One, I take Dream Theater for granted. They’re not huge in the US and seem to play select cities. Well, Minneapolis is almost always on their list. I buy tickets online, walk the 7 or 8 blocks to the Orpheum or State Theatre and am home 20 minutes after the show. It’s time for me to man-up and travel to a DT show.

Another reason is simple. I’ve never been to New York and this is a perfect reason to go.

The third is to do good with social media. We’ve all seen tweets about what people are currently eating or what book they’re currently reading and have probably been guilty myself.

I want to meet people, use different tools such as Flickr, YouTube and Twitter to showcase these interactions. So, I’ll be doing a human scavenger hunt in Matthattan either July 10th or 11th giving Twitter clues to my whereabouts. The first to find me wins the extra ticket.

Plus, although DT isn’t huge in the US, we fans are loyal! The lucky winner will hopefully be more than excited to win one of these two tickets: (the other’s for me)

DT and Iron Maiden

DT and Iron Maiden in Madison Square Garden

Yep, the tickets say Iron Maiden. DT is the opening act. Maiden should be fun, too. Haven’t really heard of them since high school.

The seats – Section 331, Row 1. Not bad. 3rd level near stage looking right down at Dream Theater!

Decent Seats

Decent Seats

Hopefully, news can spread and potential sponsors get interested such as NYC radio stations or stores that sell DT merchandise. That would sweeten the pot for the lucky winner. There is an upcoming blog for this, and a YouTube, Flickr and brand, new Twitter account (@DTinNYC) for those who want to follow along. You in the New York area and want a chance for the ticket? Just follow the above DTinNYC Twitter account.

Here’s to NY and here’s to the lucky winner in July!!

Update: There will be a separate blog for this DT scavenger hunt coming and will then be displayed in the Twitter account.

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Giving Away Powerball Love

March 17, 2010

OK,  it’s time for a giveaway. I have ten $10 coupons to redeem for Powerball tickets. Here they are – all $100 worth.

Powerball Coupons

Powerball Coupons

These will be given away to a Minnesotan as the coupon specifically says they can be redeemed wherever Minnesota State Lottery tickets are sold.

I don’t know how the giveaway will be done yet but updates will mostly be given through Twitter and this blog. You do not have to follow me on Twitter to win. I really only want followers who are truly interested in my updates. You will however need to know the Twitter hashtag which will be mentioned here TBD.

How did I get these and why am I giving these away? I was at a Wild game on Singles Awareness Day (Feb. 14). The announcer called our row, and everyone in it won the same prize. Plus, I just want to do something nice for a random local.

So far I’ve received a couple of good recommendations. @JasonDouglas on Twitter suggested a Twitter auction. That does sound like fun and proceeds could go to the winner’s favorite charity.

@JasonDouglas Suggestion

@JasonDouglas Suggestion

@PGSCarol brought some humor and suggested I just give them all away at the office.

@PGSCarol Suggestion

@PGSCarol Suggestion

How about you? Any suggestions you think would work well for a giveaway?

The initial thought I had was actually the reason I joined Twitter 3 years ago. Basically, it was for a human scavenger hunt. Here’s more about that:

Twitter user @ldg has a site called the Least Dangerous Game. The site’s stagnant right now, but he would hide somewhere in the Twin Cities area, give out Twitter Clues to his whereabouts and would give a small prize to the first person who found him. It was a lot of fun actually and I remember learning some cool things about the area I previously didn’t.

Again, that was my initial thought, other suggestions are great and more are indeed welcome! What do you think would be a good idea for a giveaway?

If you’re a local business, would you be interested in teaming up? That would be wonderful and hopefully provide fun exposure.

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Being a Social Media User – Part Deux

March 13, 2010

Last weekend I mentioned that I wanted to be a local search and social media user in Tampa rather than an expert or guru. So far, I have very nice things to say. Tampa rocks.

Flights were delayed, car rental line was long and I got to my hotel hungry and thirsty. Sent a Twitter message:

After the amusing wait at the car rental, the seared Mahi Mahi at Crabby’s was indeed excellent. And, the cheap Hyundai rental turned into a nice Ford Escape. Still 17 bucks a day. Win! A couple Google Maps reviews:

Google Maps Reviews

Google Maps Reviews

Got up early the next day to go to Clearwater. Tried my very best to skimboard, but failed. Nonetheless, kudos to the Nekton staff and resident pooch MJ for giving me guidance. I gave them an honest 5-star Citysearch review which will most likely show up on Google Maps soon.

From there, a local recommended I check out Bahama Breeze at Rocky Point and had the tastiest crab claws ever. Yelp still seems more popular on the west coast but decided to give my first ever Yelp review.

This gave me the option to share the review with Facebook friends. Citysearch does the same thing.

Connect with Facebook

Connect with Facebook

All of this allows people to feel like they know these businesses just a little bit better. Maybe the businesses reviewed will see this and see what a nice job they’re doing and/or give them an opportunity for them to proactively improve how they communicate with people online and achieve prestigious social media guru status. (Yeah, that’s a fun jab)

I may have more opportunities to review places. The reason I came to Tampa was for the Squiggy Inline Classic race. Here is an actual picture of the course. I don’t think skates can go through that. The race is postponed.

Flooded Flatwoods Trail

Flooded Flatwoods Trail

Hopefully more to come.

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Being a Social Media User? Sounds Like Fun

March 6, 2010

It’s no surprise that there is a lot of self promotion when it comes to both search marketing and social media. Go to your favorite press release website and do a search for SEO or social media and you’ll see plenty of examples. With that said, I like to see local businesses achieve success in these channels without any knowledge of self-promotion.

So, next weekend I plan to be a complete local search engine and social media user. Long story short, I need to get in better shape and decided to take my inline skates to Tampa for the upcoming Squiggy Classic Inline event. During my visit, I plan to take notice of cool things local businesses do.

I hope to give honest online input from different places. It could be from the event itself, rental car, cab, restaurant, bar, convenience store or almost any business I visit. Online input could be on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blog, online user reviews, etc. Aside from the skate, I’ve already received suggestions including a night at Ybor City and a stop at Bahama Breeze. If you’ve been to Tampa and have a suggestion, just let me know.

With the exception of the print YP book and hockey dives, I tend to write positive things online. I’d have to have a pretty bad experience to write something negative. Those things stay on the Interwebz and don’t come down.

I do hope to find a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey tweetup. They host the Penguins about five hours after my last skate and it would be fun to see Crosby do what he does best (see paragraph above).

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B96 Changes Format and People Are Talking (Online)

January 8, 2010

Update: Blogger error (myself) and B96 has not launched a new station site. TwinCities.com has an article reflecting the change.

If you’re in the Twin Cities area, you may already know that the rap/hip hop station B96 switched formats to top-40 and launched WDVD. A lot of people have opinions of this and they’re conversing online.

Someone correct me. It looks like this is a national type station? I really don’t know but it appears to be owned by Citadel Broadcasting and there is another WDVD in Detroit.

Nonetheless, It sounds like B96’s ratings dropped and wants to stay new and fresh by playing music like Nickelback. Yes, this is sarcasm.

Fresh, New Music by  Nickleback

Fresh, New Music by Nickelback?

For those who know me personally, you know I enjoy (what I consider) good, original music. This could be orchestral, top-40, jazz, folk, rap, punk, metal, etc. The music is even better when it’s local.

I admittedly didn’t know much about B96 but am partially aware of Peter Parker and how he plugs local music such as the Minneapolis-based Doomtree label. Here’s a vid of Peter with P.O.S. after his Never Better release.

Here he is letting Doomtree go freestyle.

Now that they switched formats, there are some who aren’t very happy about it. They’re also talking about it online. There’s already a Facebook Page called R.I.P. B96 with (as of this writing) just over 1,000 members and rising quickly. You can do different Twitter searches and here is one for B96 top 40. My favorite Twitter message on this:

B96 = KDWB

New B96 = KDWB

I haven’t seen a social presence yet from WDVD and am sure they’ll have one and a strategy for it at some point. They do have something called TuneGenie and it does look slick.

TuneGenie

TuneGenie

This isn’t the first time a radio station changed formats in a sudden fashion and it certainly won’t be the last. It is the first one I’ve seen where people are conversing so much online because of it. Sign of the times I suppose.

Were you a B96 listener and if so, will this affect you? Will you listen do a different station or just get your music from a different source?

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Domino’s Pizza Turnaround and a Social Media Consumer

December 29, 2009

Remember many months back when two derelicts Domino’s employees from North Carolina got in trouble for violating a pizza and then putting it on YouTube? That’s just gross.

Early this morning I was on Aaron Weiche’s personal blog and noticed a post labeled Dominos is Ringing Your Doorbell With Honesty & Effort. It’s a great effort on their part to bring back a better image.

Check out Domino’s YouTube Channel for their turnaround attempt. You can see they are taking their image seriously and even have an official Domino’s Pizza Turnaround website.

Domino’s has had a YouTube channel for over two years so one could argue that the timing of their usage is coincidental. It would be a good case too if it wasn’t for Domino’s President Patrick Doyle’s apology video right after the snot in pizza incident.

Let’s see what other social media presence they have.

  • They do have a Twitter account named @Dominos and proactively engages in two-way communications with their followers
  • There is a small Flickr Group they have for their employees to show fun things that happen during work. It would be nice to have one for the general public as well
  • I was very surprised to see how much of a Facebook presence they have and how many people are talking about their new pizza. They have five fan pages as well including one for St. Jude Children’s research

The YouTube and Facebook presence alone tells me they’re using social tools in the right way. They’re not just out to be social media gurus/wizards/jedis/rockstars by seeing how many Twitter followers they can get and call it a day.

They’re trying to change their brand’s image.

Since they’re trying to change their image, I decided to be a consumer because of their social media efforts.

On my way home from work, there were a few Domino’s but the one on the UofM campus was the most convenient. It’s next door to Stub & Herb’s and right across the street from the McNamara Alumni Center.

Dominos on Oak Street

Dominos on Oak Street

They have a nice, small area inside to pick up your pizza. A few folks were working, most likely college students and were very pleasant.

My Order

My Order

When I took the pizza home, it did look nicer than the last time I got Domino’s (although it’s been a few years). You could smell the buttery, garlic crust, too.

Full Pizza

Full Pizza

The thickness of the slice was decent. Not a whole lot of toppings, but wasn’t expecting much.

One Slice

One Slice

Was this the best pizza I’ve ever had? Of course not. I imagine it’s impossible for a huge chain to achieve such status. Was this the best Domino’s pizza I’ve ever had? It probably was and I’ll be enjoying leftovers tomorrow.

Nonetheless, thanks to Domino’s by listening to their customers instead of trying to tell them how to think.

BTW, anyone who is really into pizza should check out Aaron Landry’s blog. It not all about pizza, but he really finds some hidden gems.

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Delano, MN – Spirit of Community and City of Social Media

December 19, 2009

Yesterday, a good friend both on and offline @AaronWeiche politely suggested that I blog a little more. As a good gesture, I decided to write a post all for him!… and/or the city of Delano.

Quick background, Aaron is the VP of Five Technology, Web design and Internet marketing firm based in the heart of Delano, Minnesota and his company is designing their new city website. He also grew up in nearby Buffalo (MN) where he again lives with his wife and three young daughters.

Regarding Delano, it’a a really nice smaller town about 15 minutes west of the Twin Cities suburbs. They pride on being The Spirit of Community. They are now also a City of Social Media. To quote:

The city of Delano uses social media to provide two-way communication with the public and the City. The City of Delano communicates via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

This comes from a PDF document on their city social media guidelines for sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. It includes no vulgar language, personal attacks, spam, illegal activity and more. In the social media world, this means use common sense and I think the City of Delano gets this perfectly, especially when I see the words two-way communication as quoted above.

  • They have an active Twitter account which mentions their social media guidelines as well as other new and relevant things in the community. They also mention the award for their new Highway 12 bridge (opens PDF file).
  • Their Facebook Page is pretty active with 847 fans (as of this writing) and more relevant news and events that the community can find interesting.
  • They don’t have much of a YouTube presence, but here’s a quick vid on why to shop locally (not a big surprise that I’m a big fan of that).

Once following Delano on Twitter, I did get a Direct Message back thanking me for following them and their Spirit of Community. In the social media expert/guru/wizard/ninja/master world, this is a no-no. In this case, I think it’s absolutely appropriate as they’re welcoming me into their community. Thank you, Delano.

Anyway, I decided to take the advice given in their YouTube video and purchase items from them locally. Aaron recommended going to Three Crows Cafe and Coffee House for some java. It was so cool to sit, sip and watch a group of musicians chat and play some old songs. There were 3 guitars, a violin and a mandolin. I did check in on Foursquare but immediately put the iThing away to relax and just watch the musicians.

Three Crows

Three Crows

Next I purchased some bacon and summer sausage down the street at Rieder Meat Market. This place was actually recommended to me this morning while visiting a wedding photographer in Minneapolis who’s getting absolutely screwed by a local search company based out of Newark, New Jersey by hijacking his Google Maps listing and map-spamming it with fake addresses to “enhance” his rankings. Dudes, give the guy control over his listing and please quit making the Interwebz cry.

Anyway, Rieder’s summer sausage is really good. Haven’t tried the bacon yet.

My last purchase was at Delano Floral and Gifts. It’s your standard gift store and I had really nice help picking out a few last minute Christmas gifts. Don’t mind the website’s over-SEO. If you’re in the area, check the place out.

Delano Floral and Gifts

Delano Floral and Gifts

Thanks to Aaron from Five Technology for nudging me to do a post. I had a really nice time visiting a new town.

Five Technology Headquarters in Delano

Five Technology Headquarters in Delano

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Brettrodome Site Coming Soon

September 8, 2009

Yep, we’re talking about Brett Favre here. See the back button above? Go ahead and click it. No one would blame you. 😉

Still here? Cool. We’ve all seen the media circus regarding the chosen one now with the Vikings. Rather than joining them, it’s time to have some fun with it. The site/blog will be a parody poking fun around the continuous media circus whether Favre performs or busts.

So far, we do have an initial social media presence. Feel free to check it out. Brettrodome is on:

Twitter
Flickr
YouTube

As I type, we’re “ideating” with a fantastic company in Minneapolis to bring this site to life, and in the right way. I’m very optimistic and hope it works out.

The site will definitely be interactive with the opportunity for you to enter YouTube vids and Flickr photos for contests. This should be really fun! Here’s an old picture of the chosen one at the Austin Spam Museum/Store:

Old pic of Brett Favre at the Austin Spam Museum

Old pic of Brett Favre at the Austin Spam Museum

More to come…

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