Guy Kawasaki’s golden rules

How well I remember being invited to participate in the newly launched Google+ in the summer of 2011. Right off the bat, Google Plus seemed different from Facebook. Its clean layout encouraged posting more long-form content and graphics. Its membership included luminaries like Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan. If Facebook was the biggest network in the world, Google+ was the coolest. Less than one year later, Google Plus has grown to 90 million members and still feels like a more forward-thinking network than Facebook. Facebook now looks a Google Plus follower, introducing features like Timeline and video chat features in response to the robust graphics and video functions of Google Plus. Guy Kawasaki’s new book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us, provides an in-depth tour of the many Google Plus features that have made the platform so appealing to brands and individuals. On the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I discuss Guy’s new book. I read What the Plus! expecting to learn how to maximize the value of Google+, but I ended up finding broader meaning in Guy’s book. In advising people how to use Google Plus, Guy has articulated some new ground rules for prospering in the social era: think visually, be a content hustler, and treat social spaces like prized real estate — in other words, safeguard your own social turf (including your Google Plus page) and respect the social spaces you visit.

The best part about Guy’s book? His appeal for people to treat others as you’d have them treat you – and his frank advice to kick out jerks who invade your social turf and behave poorly. Let someone else be the arbiter of free speech while you focus on protecting your own brand.

Let me know what you think of What the Plus!

Real-time content marketing on Facebook

On March 30, whether you like it or not, Facebook will transition all brand pages to its Timeline format, which offers marketers more visually exciting ways to share their content. A new white paper published by my colleagues in the iCrossing Live Media Studio, The CMO’s Guide to the New Facebook, should help you capitalize on the new Facebook. iCrossing asserts that Facebook Timeline for brands is far more than a tweak to the world’s largest social network; rather, marketers need to understand that Facebook is compelling brands to think like publishers with editorial and content strategies that span paid, earned, and owned media.

The CMO’s Guide to the New Facebook suggests that being engaging is important – and an obvious appeal of the new visually compelling Timeline layout — but even more important is publishing engaging content that you can use as an advertising asset under the new Facebook.

For instance, as the paper reports, “Timeline now has a ‘Build Audience’ tab on the Admin Panel, which allows for the quick creation of a non-premium ad unit. Taking into consideration the greater emphasis the platform now places on paid media, audience managers can quickly create Sponsored Stories based on content that is highly-engaging at that moment. Brands now have a greater opportunity to leverage earned and bought media in real-time.”

The publication of the paper is, in itself, a tribute to Facebook’s massive reach. I don’t think of Facebook as a social network anymore. I think of Facebook as an advertising and marketing platform where people socialize. What are you doing to adapt to Facebook, the marketing machine?

The hip-hop journey of Prince Mick

The music and film of hip-hop artist Prince Mick takes you on an extraordinary journey: his own. The journey begins on the streets of the west side of Chicago, where Prince Mick once lived the violent life of a gangbanger. His song and video “Imma Beast” captures that life with a raw, gritty style, and a brutal honesty (a visual statement about the world that once defined him appears 14 seconds into the video: his own neck, pock-marked with a bullet wound).

But Prince Mick as he wants you to know him today is a changed man – or at least he’s trying to be one. With the help of his mother, he’s left his criminal past behind and now uses his art to express his spiritual values. As he told me in the following interview,The essence of my story is my spiritual journey. I believe in God. But I am not perfect. I fight demons.”

His spiritual side with his street past explains why an examination of street life like “Imma Beast,” and the raunchy “Miss a Niggalive alongside an urgent spiritual bulletin like War Stories,” and his contemplative video essay “Heaven or Hell” on his YouTube channel.

I met the 22-year-old Prince Mick on Global 14, the social community founded by music mogul Jermaine Dupri. After we swapped a few messages, he sent me his music, which I featured on my blog. Our interview, which we conducted over the telephone between breaks in his schedule attending junior college near Chicago, contrasts sharply with my recent profile of Indiana-based hip-hop artist Symon G. Seyz. Whereas Symon G. Seyz views himself as a J. Cole protégé playing for a middle-class audience, Prince Mick says he sings for the streets. “The streets mean the neighborhoods I grew up in and the places where I made my mark,” he says – the kinds of places he depicts in songs like “City Streets,” which is a documentary-style tour of his old west-side neighborhood.

“I’m not a happy-go-lucky rapper,” he says. “I’m telling stories. I’m telling you real life. God does not just reach out to people who are good but also to the thugs, murderers, prostitutes, and the lost.”

Thugs. Murderers. The lost. They’re still part of Prince Mick’s world: but as his audience now, not his peers.

Learn more about Prince Mick’s spiritual journey through our interview:

Tell me about yourself. How would you describe yourself in one sentence? A filmmaker? Musician?

I consider myself as a songwriter and storyteller. I started off as a storyteller with a camera, and I do so now through film and music.

The essence of my story is my spiritual journey. I believe in God. But I am not perfect. I fight demons.

I celebrate life, too, which you see coming through in my secular music.

Where did you grow up? How did those experiences influence your art?

I grew up in the west side of Chicago. I was raised to believe in God, and so I had a spiritual side for my entire life. But I also grew up in a thug’s life. I remember when I was about 4 years old. We were living in the projects, a lot us playing in the park. The thugs started firing shots from the top of the roof. The kids started scattering, but I didn’t know what was going on. My aunt screamed, “Baby, run!” I said, “Aren’t those fireworks?” “She said, “Those aren’t fireworks.”

That experience exposed me early on to a violent lifestyle. I eventually joined a gang and became a top dog. I got kicked out of school. I became a stick-up kid and was harming a lot of people.

Because my parents lived apart (my parents separated when I was young), I would visit my mom in the suburbs and be exposed to a better way of life. But life was good in Chicago, or so I thought.

My thug’s life led to me being was shot in the neck at age 16. The bullet came from the right side and out the left side. Blood was spurting out my neck and my mouth.

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Billy Corgan, Brian Solis, and the personal touch at SXSW

My experience at SXSW Interactive this week was marked by catching up with friends, a massive amount of networking, very little sleep, and some inspirational content, most notably the Billy Corgan/Brian Solis session about Corgan’s uneasy relationship with a music-buying public that (in Corgan’s view) uses social media to attack artists rather than support them. I provided real-time coverage of the session from my Twitter account, @davidjdeal; you can see how the discussion unfolded by following hashtag #EndofUsual on Twitter. Amid Corgan’s f-bombs and rants, a compelling theme emerged: artists need their audiences, but in order to prosper and grow, they cannot allow themselves to be led around the nose by the same people who call themselves their fans. As Corgan said to a recalcitrant SXSW audience member, “I can’t survive by accommodating your Twitter feed with my music.” The Corgan/Solis session brings to mind a post I wrote in 2010, “Would ‘Exile on Main St.’ have survived Twitter?” in which I questioned whether the seminal but initially misunderstood Rolling Stones album would have held up amid the withering glare of Twitter had social media been around in 1972.

I was also struck by the convergence of branding, entertainment, and technology that increasingly defines not only SXSW but also the future of marketing. The most obvious example of this convergence from SXSW Interactive was the March 11 Jay-Z concert held to promote the launch of a new American Express service offered through Twitter. I discuss this phenomenon more fully in an iCrossing Great Finds blog post, “SXSW and the Rise of the Co-Branding Economy.”

The personal connections were, as usual, incredibly fulfilling, whether comparing notes about music and writing with my iCrossing colleague Todd Pruzan, laughing at life’s absurdities with Kristen Deye (a rock star who managed iCrossing’s presence at the event), reuniting with some of my former Razorfish colleagues and friends like Margaret Francis and Heather Gately, meeting Brian Solis and Scott Monty, hanging out with Jeremiah Owyang, seeing David Armano, meeting with Allen Weiner, or finding some time to relax over drinks with Cortney Harding and her husband Jeff Stokvis.

People always trump interactive technology in my book.

Is rock dead?

What does the future look like for rock and roll? It’s a question that will surely be on the minds of participants at the 2012 South by Southwest Music festival, which kicks off this week. I believe the future of rock and roll is very bright — if you’re willing to think of rock as the sugar in someone else’s tea.

Rock was, at best, a supporting player at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, with major rock awards such as Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album being relegated to the Grammy pre-telecast. And if Billboard magazine is any indication, rock is actually being assimilated into a more diverse palette of genres ranging from pop to rap. Rock was barely an afterthought in Billboard‘s Year in Music for 2011 issue. Pop acts like Adele and Justin Bieber ruled the year based on sales figures, with club music asserting itself as a force to be reckoned with. Likewise, Billboard’s 2010 Year in Music issue noted that in 2010, only one rock band reached the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 (Train, with “Hey, Soul Sister”).

In fact, no rock act has cracked the Top 10 in the annual Billboard Top 200 in either 2010 or 2011. The list of Top 15 Billboard artists in 2011 says it all: Continue reading