The World Has Changed – Evolve Video

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When we set to produce a video to help introduce Coffee Bean Technology to the market, our initial idea was to create a 3-minute film talking about Technology and its effects in society.

But as we started working with Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet from Birdo (an internationally recognized and award-winning video studio in Brazil), we shifted towards producing a shorter, animated film using a more universal language.

In Luciana and Paulo’s words: “For the art style, we wanted a cartoon style, taking us back to the classics of the New Yorker magazine and the animation movies of the 50’s.”

The result is Evolve.

The voice-over is by Megan, daughter of my colleague Graham.

Call your children and show it to them. Send links to your friends.

Visit the Coffee Bean Technology YouTube channel.

The Funnel is Still a Valid Model

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Shall we put “Social” in front of it?

In my quest for a term that had not yet been attached to “Social”, I discovered that Google could find only 7 instances of “Social Marketing Funnel”. Next to about 37 million – and growing by the minute – results for “Social Media”, it seems to be a relatively under-explored concept.

While that is true, this is not how I started thinking about the Funnel. Sometimes we need to balance the power of an existing metaphor (like “Files” for digital data or “Funnel” for the process of identifying and nurturing leads into customers) with the need for new models that better represent reality.

The Classical Marketing Funnel pictured above is straightforward: among all potential buyers in the market, a company needs to nurture them from awareness (know it exists) to consideration (think of it as viable supplier) to preference (consider it the most adequate) to action (decision to buy) to loyalty (experience value and remain a long-term customer).

The mission of Marketing is to recruit new leads through marketing actions, and then nurture them and hand them off to Sales.

Others have discussed fundamental changes in the model caused by the transition to social media (most notably, Brian Haven from Forrester Research in 2007) but, with the benefit of 3 years of hindsight, I believe the funnel model is still valid and useful to visualize the marketing/sales process and we can keep the baby from going with the bath water.

But some adaptations are needed. Lets look at the Social Marketing Funnel.

Terminology and Frame of Thought

While the basic model can stay the same, some of marketing terminology needs to change to remain meaningful. Referring to potential customers as “suspects” or having accounts that are “owned” by a sales person is out. Thinking about customers as people rather than a name in a list and treating them as such is in.

People move through the funnel and decide to stay or to get out.

Rules of Engagement

When it comes to execution, in the classical media, the “nurturing” process often ends up consisting of a mix of not-always-welcome broadcasts (e-mail blasts, newsletters, ”educational” white papers, webinars, etc). Because there is not much listening going on, those communications are more or less indiscriminate.

In social media, the funnel is not an opt-in e-mail list but the group of “followers” in the several venues (company web site, online communities, twitter, etc). Companies need to listen first, and then dispense communication that resonates with the audience. Social Media let companies communicate more often without being intrusive because social channels and controlled by recipient-discretion.

If isolating and segmenting customers was the norm before, that is no longer the case. Customers are going to talk to each other whether or not the companies provide the venues, so you better join them in the conversation.

Marketing action focuses on providing a resonance chamber for customer advocacy, rather than only recruit new leads to fill the top of the funnel.

From Loyalty to Advocacy

When Marketing thought of customer life cycle, it aimed for Loyalty among long-term customers as the ultimate goal.

Social Media adds another dimension to the influence of customers: their social graph. Loyal customers do more than provide repeat revenues, they become your main recruiting resource to feed the funnel with other potential customers who value their opinions.

The Social Marketing Funnel goes further and hopes to cultivate Advocacy.

This article was originally written for and posted at

Light Effects – Photography in New York City

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A few years ago, I was at Times Square in New York City in a cold winter night and took a few experimental photos of anonymous crowd silhouettes against the city lights. I liked the unexpected result.

Then, just last month, I was back in New York for a Social Media conference and returned to Times Square to take new photos. The technique I used was to shoot from a low-perspective with a compact camera and using the resulting blur to produce a dream or painting-like result. I do not use flash and do not look through the viewfinder (I am roughly pointing the camera to people from waist-level as I walk past them), so the shots are quasi-random.

After these photos, I had dinner at Tout Va Bien on 51st St (Margaret’s recommendation). Service is wonderfully bad as it should be if you don’t speak French. But if you persist, you end up loving the place. If you ever go there, order the Coq au Vin and tell the owner you know Marcio from California and that I told you he would give you an extra carafe of house wine. You are guaranteed to get two free carafes.

These first two shots are similar to the original ones I took several years ago. This is the effect that inspired me to explore the technique.

The next two are my favorites of this batch. Both are blurred female bodies against the night lights and produced the painting-like effect I was looking for, making them almost abstract.

The last two in this series are more literal. I like the hand-in-pocket pattern in the photo on the left.

Climbing Mt. Shasta

(updated Jun 2017)

I have been to Mt. Shasta some 20 times and summited it 10 times (plus I’ve stopped right below the summit a few times for safety reasons). My first climb was in Sep 1994 and the most recent was in June 2016. I’ve led several groups with no climbing experience safely to the summit.

Shasta is home to most of my mountaineering experience, but I have hiked up Mt. Whitney (the highest point in the continental US) twice, Half Dome in Yosemite a dozen times, Mt. Lassen in California, Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo, Trails on the Swiss Alps near Interlaken and other smaller hills around the world.

All information in this article is correct to my knowledge, but it is for you to use it at your own risk. If you are planning to go there and have questions, feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below.

Aug 2004 Climb – My first as an expedition leader

Mt. Shasta is a beautiful volcano in Northern California that rises to about 14,179 feet (4,322 m) and its summit is within a couple of hundred feet from Whitney, the highest in the continental US. It stands alone and more than 10,000 ft above the surrounding terrain, it is an amazing view.

Climbing Shasta doesn’t require any more than being fit and some basic equipment, but it is not a casual project. One should not try to do it without a knowledgeable guide. Train by climbing a local hill with a 30 lb backpack for a few hours. If you wake up next day and feel nothing, you are ready.

A typical first climb will take place during summer (best time ranges from late May to early August, depending on snowfall during the previous winter) and take 2-3 days. The easiest route is on the South slope of the mountain (Avalanche Gulch).

Day 1: Drive to Mt. Shasta City, get a motel room and get a good night of sleep (alternative: drive to Bunny Flat, hike for about 1 hour and spend the night at Horse Camp).

Day 2:  Drive to Bunny Flat (about 8,000 ft). Get a self-issued permit, collect a few human waste kits, gear up and start climbing before mid-morning and set camp at Helen Lake (10,000 ft) by mid-afternoon. Study the route, melt snow, cook, and sleep early.

Day 3: Start early (preferably by 4AM) while snow is still firm, make it to Red Banks before sunrise, and summit by mid-day. Turn back and glissade below Red Banks. You can either break camp and descend all the way or spend an extra night at Helen Lake.

Camping at Helen Lake – Jun 2005
Summit of Shasta on a beautiful day -Jun 2005

To climb Shasta, you need a guide who knows the mountain (or someone with a lot of mountaineering experience). Check weather forecast and climb only if there are no chances of storms. You must be fit and well prepared to climb. People die on the mountain, so do not be foolish.

You will carry 4 liters of water (bottles can usually be filled at Horse Camp after Jun or so – 1 hour above Bunny Flats) and will need to collect, melt and purify snow at Lake Helen. There are several water purification methods, do some research. For North America, I carry a basic filter and then use chlorine tablets.

There is about a 50-50 chance you will get Acute Mountain Sickness, usually starting around 12,000ft (Red Banks-Misery Hill). Never leave someone with AMS alone. If symptoms are any more than mild headache, turn back and descend safely. Stay hydrated.

July 2008 – Summit Approach

Here is a time-tested equipment list for a summer South Face Avalanche Gulch climb, think twice before leaving anything behind or bringing any additional item. Your pack will weight 40-45 lbs. Gear will include mountaineering boots, crampons, ice axe, helmet, water purification and camping gear.

Personal Gear:

  • 1 long thermal bottom (no cotton)
  • 2 thermal tops (no cotton, short/long)
  • 1 mid-weight fleece jacket
  • 1 waterproof shell with hood (Goretex or equivalent)
  • 1 pair of waterproof pants (Goretex or equivalent)
  • 2 pairs of trekking socks (liners optional)
  • 1 pair of waterproof gloves (liners optional)
  • 1 pair of shorts (just so we don’t have to look at you in underwear)
  • 2 sets of underwear (preferably synthetic material)
  • 1 pair of crampon-compatible boots (part of mountaineering package)
  • 1 Ice axe with leash (part of mountaineering package)
  • 1 pair of crampons (part of mountaineering package)
  • 1 hat (for sun protection)
  • 1 mountaineering helmet (bike helmet works)
  • 1 pair of gaiters (optional in late summer)
  • 1 internal frame backpack (real 4000+ cu in – rated 75 liters or more is ideal)
  • 1 Summit pack (2000 cu in, any good pack will do it)
  • 4 straps (to secure sleeping pads, other accessories)
  • 1 sleeping bag (15F or better)
  • 1 foam sleeping pad (2 if you tend to feel cold)
  • 1 Sunglasses and/or goggles
  • 1 Headlamp with extra batteries
  • 4 Lexan 1-liter water bottles (at least one wide mouth)
  • 1 Plastic whistle for signaling and emergency
  • 1 Lexan spoon
  • Sunblock
  • Toilet paper in a handy ziploc bag
  • Medications that you need
  • 2 packs of day-time food (bars, nuts, jerky, cheese, etc)
  • 2 packs of freeze dried food (cook in bag for less mess)
  • 1 Plastic wristwatch with alarm
  • Toiletries, wipes, foot care (band-aid, moleskin, duct tape, body glide)
  • Nylon stuffing bags (to organize gear)
  • Ziploc, plastic bags (useful for food, garbage, clothing, protection)

Group Stuff:

  • 4-season tent (3-season can survive in late summer)
  • Metal stakes and rope to secure tent
  • Stove/White Gas/Safety Matches
  • Cookware to collect and boil water
  • First-aid Kit
  • Shovel (can be left behind in late summer)
  • Knife, Multi-tool
  • Water Purification (filter, iodine, chlorine)
  • Communication device (cell phone/radio)
  • Map/Compass/Altimeter/Binoculars
June 2016 – Probably my last time leading an expedition – we were the only group on the mountain that evening and had the sunset at Lake Helen all for ourselves (the tent you see in the background is the ranger’s tent, but they weren’t there that night). Our tent (a North Face Himalayan Hotel), has been to Shasta circa 1994 and it is still going.

My First Book – Or Almost

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Since I was a child, I have nurtured the thought of one day writing a book. With the emergence of the digital medium, I worry that books might not be a mainstream method of dissemination of ideas for too long, so there is some sense of urgency in fulfilling my dream.

I am still going to write a proper book one day, but in the meantime I have joined John Lima, an old friend, and co-wrote a small booklet on the transition from a culture defined by the print medium to a future society primarily influenced by the digital medium.

Since the time I got involved with the Free Software movement in the early 90’s I had thought about how community-based work can be powerful if we let people collaborate freely. John introduced me to Marshall McLuhan, whose work provided the analytical framework for our text.

It is ironic to have a booklet that talks about the end of the print medium available in printed paper format, but we wrote it for old-fashioned people. If you select the “Social Media” category in this site, you can check my ideas on the subject.

The Click Company was sponsored by and is Copyright (c) Coffee Bean Technology, the company I work for. The interactive version of the book is in The Click Company Community.

If you would like to check the booklet, it is freely available online and you can even order printed copies here.

Enlightenment at DiVerso

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DiVerso was a an exhibition of Brazilian contemporary artists organized by the Consulate General of Brazil to celebrate the opening of new premises in San Francisco.

It run from Nov/2009 to the first quarter of 2010 and featured works by Aparecida Abdalla, Vera Costa, Sidnea D’Amico, Mauricia Gandara, Silvia Poloto, Regis Silva, and Mariangela Smania.

My friend Mariangela Smania is an artist born in Rio De Janeiro. I collaborated with her in “Enlightenment”, the mixed media piece she displayed at DiVerso. My task was to help to conceive the installation and then design and build the box that creates the light effects and supports the fiberglass panel.

Here is the text I wrote to introduce the piece at the exhibition:

“Enlightnement” (Mariangela Smania, Mixed Media, 2009)

Philosopher and Scholar Marshall McLuhan stated that “The Media is the Message”, that the most important effect of an expression should be attributed to the medium itself, more than the content it carries. He also wrote “The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because she is an expert aware of the changes in sense and perception.”

In this piece, Mariangela Smania combines unlikely medium components to create a work that is both minimalistic and complex. She lets the medium carry the message and leaves space for us to interact with it and get to our own conclusions. Using its own light source, Enlightnement is not a work of art passively waiting to be observed and interpreted. It grabs and brings us in to imprint its effects on the observer.

While using new experimental medium, in this work Mariangela brings her signature element from her previous work: pieces of tree bark and natural fibers, creating layers of texture and representing moments and experiences in our lives.

The combination of light, water and life is full of energy and impetus, but also surprising peace and balance. On a different dimension, the juxtaposition and harmonious integration of electronics, resin medium, and organic bark elements seems to suggest our minds of the need to create space for nature in the synthetic environment we live in.

Streams, Flows and Documents

What makes a communication tool “Social”? [tweetmeme source=”Marcio_saito” only_single=false]

In the recent Social Business Edge, a conference in New York discussing Social Business, Stowe Boyd said “In the future, we will be spending less time on pages and more time in flows”.  Let’s explore that idea.

When it comes to the medium, the difference between social and non-social tools is very simple, tangible and specific. It is the communication protocol.

Traditional media inherits its essence from the printed medium. The sender decides what is relevant and pushes information to an audience, offering no opportunity for interaction. That is how books, static web pages and newspapers work.

E-mail has some classic characteristics as well. Whether or not the content is relevant to you, there is implicit agreement that you will read every message you receive. People say: “you should know, I sent you an e-mail yesterday.”

Social media operates differently. Access to the medium is open and participants are free to express their thoughts in real-time. Recipients use filters to select what communication they will process and acknowledge. There is no implicit agreement by the receiver to read everything that is published.

Our reaction when we meet social media for the first time is that interactions are “too noisy” and “provides no meaningful content”. That perception is normal, since we approach the new medium with an old perspective.

Let’s address the “too noisy” first. In classical communication, we suppress noise (e.g. implementing communication workflows, restricting conversations to a set agenda, etc). The problem is that suppressing noise also constrains creativity.

You can also address noise by applying filters (ignoring what is not meaningful to you). The trade-off is different: let communication flow free, but when filtering noise out, you might also miss some useful content. That is the approach of Social Media.

What about “meaningful communication”?

Take a serious look at your e-mail inbox. How much of it is really meaningful? How many times you actually review old e-mail threads? Even when you go look at old messages, you are probably not reading the message; you are looking for specific dates, whether or not a person received it, or an attachment.

The fact that the CEO has replied to an e-mail message (and then half of the company also does because the CEO is involved) is more important than the content of the thread. If you look carefully, you will notice that context, the timing and subject line, interaction dynamics, and emotion carry the same or more information than the structured content expressed by the words in the body of an e-mail message.

The social medium is particularly good at capturing context and emotion. It is not designed to transfer structured content in large chunks (you can still use shared documents and attachment files for that). But, if it is true that people interactions are more important than structured data for collaboration, then the adoption of Social Media in business has the potential to make things better.

As of today, most social tools implement a Stream (a.k.a. Feed, Timeline, Wave, Wall) as the core infrastructure element to distribute unstructured content, using your social graph as a proxy for relevance (i.e. content produced or addressed to people closer to you tend to be more relevant). As those relevance filters evolve and become more intelligent, social tools will help to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio. These streams of interactions are the “Flows” Boyd refers to.

As a final point, independent of efficiency or effectiveness, the preference of users are also important in the selection of the best tool.

If you read installations manuals and don’t get the reason why people are using Twitter, you probably like the structure of documents and PowerPoint presentations. If you ignore documentation and power up the new stereo out of the box, you probably prefer interactive methods of learning and communication.

Demographics point to a future that is more social. Be prepared to spend more time in flows and Streams and less times in web pages, documents and your e-mail inbox.

This article was originally written for and posted at

Mom Doesn’t use Twitter

How are Marketers going to deal with the new social divide?

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There were several “Happy Mother’s Day” notes on my timeline yesterday, but it is very unlikely that the mothers of today’s grown-ups were actually listening that channel. They might have learned to deal with e-mail and paying bills online, but they are just not using Social Media tools to communicate.

In the past several months, I have tried to explain to my “regular” friends what I do for work. Most of them are professionals in their 40’s. The company I work for is developing a Social CRM solution.

I can usually get past “Customer Relationship Management” and “Business Strategy Execution”, but when I say “Social Media” I can clearly see the change in their body language.

When I start talking about my belief that the impact of social media goes beyond personal use and will change how business happens, reactions range from “I don’t understand why people spent so much time in Twitter” to “Corporations will never use social media because of confidential information” to “I’ll never give up the morning newspaper with a cup of coffee”.

When banks started automating their operations many years ago, my mother decided she did not like bankcards and ATM machines. So she still takes a bus once or twice a month to go to the bank and pay bills and get money from a human teller at the physical branch.

One could say that the reaction of my friends and my mom are similar and expected. Human beings resist change. There is always some generational gap because some will fall behind in new technology adoption and never catch up.

My concern is that the Social Media divide is set at a relatively younger age boundary and is broader than previous technological divides. Different from my mom (who was not in corporate), most of my friends are professionals working in the technology industry.

Marketers have to deal with this reality: consumers of B2C products and users of B2B solutions are or will soon be of the generation that relies on social media tools to stay in touch and interact with their peers. Many of the decision makers will not be, at least for the next years.

How does that affect the language and media mix needed to reach the general public? This week’s edition of The Economist looks at television’s ability to remain the common denominator and speculates on its staying power.

Should we in the B2B market dive into Social Media and shift resources into social tools? Or do we need to step back and think that our customers, like our mothers, don’t necessarily use Twitter?

This article was originally written for and posted at

Mine is Bigger Than Yours

Is the Enterprise 2.0 company bigger or smaller than the current ones? [tweetmeme source=”Marcio_saito” only_single=false]

As I read the newspapers this morning, I learn that United and Continental are merging to form yet another “largest airline in the world”.

Consolidation seems to be rational for an industry that manages to charge the same for a coast-to-coast flight as the cab that takes me to the airport in a 50-mile ride and still have really unhappy customers.

The justification for the deal are familiar:  economies of scale, and the “synergies”. Are big companies the future or are they a legacy of the past?

Economic theory uses the concept of the perfect market (where information is available to all in real-time, competition is open and transparent, and transactional costs approach zero) to study the effects of openness and better information systems.

In a truly perfect market, companies would not exist. Buyers and sellers would settle their transactions in the marketplace. Workers would organize as free agents as needed in transient projects with no need to permanently belong to an organization in charge of pooling and coordinating the resources and people needed to tackle a complex problem.

Of course a perfect market doesn’t exist and never will. But it is a useful concept. Now, there is strong correlation between perfect competition and Enterprise 2.0.

Enterprise 2.0 uses tools and techniques that promote transparency and bring down the costs of collaboration. As a result, people don’t need to be placed in rigid segmented organizational charts to be efficient and have more freedom to contribute value outside their functional job descriptions. Because there is less segmentation, organizations can be less hierarchical and more transparent as well.

In an article, Dion Hinchcliffe, one of the thought leaders in Enterprise 2.0, talks about how companies can and are offloading some of the work needed to solve complex problems to online communities (crowdsourcing), and not building armies of internal experts.

If I take further that parallel between market perfection and Enterprise 2.0 operation, I wonder if companies adapted to a more collaborative and transparent way of doing business, will tend to be larger or smaller than the typical company today.

The most natural answer would be: “smaller”. If work can be offloaded to social communities, people can self-organize effectively and efficiently in transient projects, and there are less transactional costs, there is less advantage in the economy of scale of big and slow and more advantage in the nimbleness of being small and agile.

However, if Enterprise 2.0 companies become more successful, they will tend to grow and dominate their markets. Some of the companies with an E2.0-like culture are indeed growing very large (Google is probably a good example).

So, I don’t have the answer… Are E2.0 companies going to be bigger or smaller than the equivalent company today?

What do you think?

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