Saturday, May 10, 2008

Facebook and Social Media Expert Can Bring You to the Next Level

It has been a year since I joined the facebook community and heavily researched its various aspects. People who know me ask what I can do for them or for their companies.

Here is a list:

1) Coach Business Owners and CEO's on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media

2) Develop strategies to connect their company and salesforce to their customers

3) Develop PR strategies to produce a "buzz" for their service or product

4) Assemble a worldwide team of social media experts to "brainstorm" and work to promote their brands in the United States, Europe, Canada, Asia, and Australia

5) Create a strategy to bring blogs, podcasts and social media together

I was a well known sales automation consultant (one of the first ACT! Consultants , SalesLogix Business Partners and business partners) and helped automate and train thousands of sales professionals.

Here are some quotes from Kaplan's Clients and Collaborators:

“Andrew brings his wide experience in the media industry to bear through his new Facebook Marketing initiative. A thorough understanding of next generation needs in a highly disruptive new media sector means that Andy brings insight and smarts to the table when consulting. Ethical, kind and supportive, a great guy to work with or hire for a mission critical project.”

Tia Carr Williams, VP Social Media, Kostial Company, LLC

“Andrew has helped me understand the wonderful world of Facebook, his style is open, patient and has that ability to simplify the power of social networks”

Anna Farmery, Speaker and Motivational Coach, The Engaging Brand

“Task to Andrew was help me understand the dynamics of social networking and, if possible, how to leverage social networking to grow our business -- retrofit hybrid drive systems for trucks. We conducted four on-line sessions. Results exceeded expectations and included ideas for building our "brand" far beyond the product. Planning more sessions in 2008. Recommendation: Thumbs up.”

John R. Dabels
EVPower Systems hired Kaplan as a Business Consultant

“Andrew has a keen sense for user experience and customer needs. He has provided us with a invaluable feedback on improving our consumer telephony web service.”

Touraj Parang, Co-Founder and COO, jaxtr

“Andrew is smart, inventive and has a strong vision of how entrepeneurs and sales professionals will work in the future. He brings a wide breadth of knowledge and a keen sense of business. I recommend Andrew if you want to be a leader in your field and work smarter.” April 9, 2007

Meg Rogers, VP / Director of Operations, Northstar Capital Management

“I've been fortunate to get strong consulting advice as I market my personal relationship manager and career management website. Andy's industry insight in CRM applications ranges from functionality to usage to marketing - all areas that have allowed him to give expert advice and opinions. I've found Andy to be specific, cordial and professional - all things that I need when making strategic decisions.” March 28, 2007

Jason Alba, CEO, JibberJobber, LLC, Author of Best Selling Books on LinkedIn and Facebook

“I have known Andy for nearly fourteen years; during this time I have always found him to be innovative, enthusiastic and very customer centric. He brings a wealth of experience and contacts to every situation he encounters and because of this is capable of bringing a new perspective or an inventive approach to any opportunity or challenge put before him. He truly personalizes each encounter, bringing with that a concern for the outcome not found often enough in business or personal relationships.” January 31, 2007

Mark Schneider
Entrepreneur, and Winner of $1 million dollar business plan contest

“I worked with Andy in my early years at HBO. He has great technology savvy which he combined with excellent business strategy skills. The company benefits when IT and Business Planning can work as a team

Suzanne Cotton, Former Home Box Office IT Executive

Friday, February 22, 2008

Facebook - Games People Play and Randomness

One of the questions I am asked is how did you meet so many people? For Facebook, one of the answers is playing games. If you think about Facebook as various spheres of influence coming from your current friends or network, how can you expand beyond that in an easy way?

For example, language is a barrier for meeting people from other countries and regions. In addition you may not know anyone there to help you expand into there.

So while networking in social media many times requires work and focus, a great part of your mix would be to play games which involve randomly meeting other people. So on any given day how can you find smart, witty, engaging people

Over the past few months, I have been a serious scrabulous addict playing multiple games at a time during the week. There are multiple dictionaries that you can play (US-English, UK/British - English, French and Italian). I have played all but Italian (since I haven't studied the language. I studied French for about 6 years. It turns out that I have met some very interesting people from London, North Dakota, Australia, New Zealand, Paris, Montreal and smaller cities in those countries as well. In scrabulous, there is a ranking system, so you can see who is at a certain ability. Typically a rating of 1200 is average and 1500+ is excellent. You can choose a level you want to play at or again, just look at a "face" and pic a person who looks interesting to you. During the games there is a chat (although it is delayed between moves) and can continue throughout the game.

Recently, I decided to test my poker skills at Texas Hold'em Poker. My initial instincts were that I would end up playing mostly against people who were from English speaking countries, who were serious poker players. Well it turned out to my surprise that Poker is truly an international game with people from many non-english speaking countries playing. Unlike scrabulous which usually has two people playing, you can sit at a table of up to 10 people. Texas Hold'em will match you with the right table depending on your monetary balance and other factors.

While play is going on there is a live chat which the whole table can participate in. In my first few weeks, I have met a freelance reporter for a major magazine who is in Baghdad covering the war, a woman from Norway who is studying to be a Tony Robbins Coach, and a lot of people from countries such as Canada, New Zealand, China, Turkey, Egypt, UK and United Arab Emirates. The developer of Texas Hold'em is a company called Zynga. Zynga has made it easy to connect on facebook. One way is you can lend or give someone at your table some money from your stash and they also have an option to click on their picture and "add as a friend" while at the table.

Games have always been one of the most popular ways to socialize. This translates as well in social media and Facebook. The randomness of who you play with, the level that you play at and the frequency can determine some of your new network. So, take a break, play a game and expand your network.

I will be doing a series of stories on the developers of these games over the next few months. We also will be featuring Zynga on a show on blog talk radio in a few weeks.

If you are a game developer or have benefited by playing. I would love to hear from you for a future story or just comment below.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Facebook Power of Networking

Have you experienced meeting someone on Facebook or other social network and then having it change the way you live or the current business projects you are working on? We would love to hear your stories to share with other readers of this blog.

Personally, I have met some of the most creative authors, musicians and business executives on Facebook. More stories to come in the future about these relationships and how they have impacted my journey.

The power of teaching people about Facebook is in your stories, so please contribute by commenting below or sending me a private message.

If you want to collaborate or you think I may be able to help your company, please let me knw as well.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Facebook Applications - A Proliferation

Facebook applications are one of the more explosive areas of growth on facebook. With over 50 million members now using facebook there is something for everyone. As of today, there are 8,000+ facebook applications listed in their directory. Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting some of the more interesting applications on Facebook and some of their categories. I also plan on interviewing some of the developers and marketers of these applications.

I will post these updates on my facebook page and on this blog. If you have an application or want to be included feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Your 2008 Personal Vision and Facebook

Do you have a personal vision of what you want your life to be like for 2008? Write your vision down and make sure you have a deadline to meet your goals. Open up all the possibilities of making them happen. On Facebook even with a few direct "friends", you have access to people who may be able to change your life and help you reach those goals.

Personal goals are important as much so as your business goals. Many authors and coaches talk about combining these into a personal vision statement. What is it that you want most out of life? How will you be successful and live a balanced life?

Figure our your vision by focusing on these areas:

1) Family
2) Religion/Spiritual
3) Health
4) Fitness
5) Travel
6) Learning/education
7) Financial/Money
8) Entertainment
9) Friends/Relationships

Set aside a couple minutes to think and plan. Shut the door...turn off the phone...and even print this out and turn off your computer. Write down your goals. Remember to dream big.

Think about who can help you reach these goals. Are your contacts on Facebook (or other social network)? I’ve met contacts there who are some of the most successful in their fields and owe their success to others. We’re not in this world alone. Our contacts can help us find our dreams and lead more enriched lives.

How can you find these people? Once you make a list of some of the things you like or need, go to the search box in Facebook. Type a few keywords and see "who" (what profiles) come up. Scroll through them and see if you find anyone interesting. You can also dig deeper looking at "their friends ".

Your goals will happen with small steps each day. My preference is quarterly goals as they are more attainable (you will feel more success than shorter goals in which you may not have given yourself time to succeed). So here is a small goal. Meet at least two to three new people a week on Facebook. Seek them out, but have a REASON when you contact them. Send them a nice e-mail telling them why they might be able to be helpful or important to you as your reach your goals and dreams. Also, remember to ask them "How can I help you?" The more you give, the more you will receive out of these relationships.

Here are some areas that I’m developing in line with my goals…along the way I plan on meeting people with these backgrounds and industries.

1) Movies and Film Production
2) Social Media
3) Bloggers/Podcasters
4) Musicians
5) TV/Video Producers
6) Venture capitalists
7) CEO's and Entrepreneurs
8) Media executives
9) Writers/Authors
10) Sports Marketing/Sports Executives
11) Technology Whizzes

My goals are geographic. I want to build my networks in cities where media and venture capital are centered such as: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.

So as I start 2008, I am working with a composer from Italy, an author from California, a Hybrid Engine startup in North Carolina and California, a manufacturer in Bangladesh, an trade show entrepreneur in Lebanon, and specialists in social networks from Ohio, Texas, New York, Connecticut, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I’ve also connected with people within my own local community as well.

Here are some of my highlights from 2007, many made possible because of the Internet and social networks.

1) Appeared as an extra in two films (Leatherheads and Gospel Hill - to be released in 2008)
2) Launched, the first Charlotte, NC based group dedicated to business to business networking
3) Launched the Facebook Enthusiast blog and invited many of my contacts from LinkedIn and other parts of my life to join me
4) Helped two authors market their books and consultant practices
5) Reconnected with my former friends and colleagues from HBO, MTV/The Movie Channel.
6) Became part of a team to provide expertise for a new sports marketing division

Happy 2008!

May your dreams be big and your journey inspirational!!

Andy Kaplan

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Marketing Your Brand in Facebook - A Podcast

The Engaging Brand, an award winning blog and podcast about leadership, branding and marketing interviewed me as "The Facebook Enthusiast". Anna Farmery, its host did a wonderful job guiding us through the areas of branding, privacy, and how to connect with others using facebook.

The podcast can be found on her website at (show 132) and it is also on iTunes.

Here is a direct link to the show.

'Andy Kaplan talks us through how to use Facebook, how it can form part of your marketing, branding and communication strategy.'

This was our