2.23.2014

Palena Coffee Shop: The Early Bird Gets The Donuts

The last dozen times I've made it to Palena Coffee Shop they've been sold out of these babies. I guess if you get there when they open at 8am (on the weekend. 7am weekdays), you've got your pick.

Incentive for becoming an early riser?
Front to Back: Chocolate Glazed with Sprinkles Donuts, Lemon Donuts, and Donut Holes
Palena Coffee Shop (located within Palena Restaurant) is located at 3529 Connecticut Avenue NW in Washington, DC - just steps from the Cleveland Park Metro Stop.

2.07.2014

ICYMI: Week of February 3, 2014

I "fave" a lot of links that I want to come back and read. Some times I do, some times I don't. But every week, there are a few pieces that make me think and want to share them. Here are the ones that caught my eye this week...

The Longevity Economy Meets Social Media
If I have to do one more misinformed "older people don't get social" or "teen flight on Facebook" interview, I might lose my mind. Sascha Segan of PC Mag nails it when he takes on the notion that it even matters whether or not teens stay with Facebook. Their older audience is surging. And that's the audience with more connections - and substantially more dollars to spend.
"To best use Facebook, you have to know a lot of people already, and not want to leave them behind. In other words, you're more likely to be a grownup."

The Future of Television
As someone who's daily trying to figure out what to build for TV, YouTube, Roku, Instagram video and Vine, I loved Jerry Seinfeld's take at BuzzFeed Brews as he launches his "Conversations with Comedians in Cars" YouTube series on the Crackle network (which I watch on Roku... so many layers.)
“Why would I put a show on a big heavy rectangle in your house when I could put it in your pocket?”
It's so much fun to see how he's breaking the model. Where does the show live, how many different formats... doesn't matter unless the content is entertaining, moving or informative. Luckily for him, his is. Watch it here:

The Fastest Town in America
If you asked me who had the fastest internet in the United States, I would have guessed Silicon Valley. Nope. It's Chattanooga. Interesting gamble by a cool, smallish city to make it's place in the Innovation Economy. Makes me want to visit.

The Washington, DC Food Scene
A recent topic of conversation at a dinner party was, how many of Washingtonian's Top 100 Restaurants have you eaten at? I hadn't looked at the list yet. My number is currently at 53 and rising. How many have you tried? What's the list missing? Who's over rated? I could talk about that for days.
A sample of menu items at Casa Luca
What's Happening Under Ground
I'm a little obsessed with the abandoned and locked up space underneath Dupont Circle. I wonder how many cities have interesting underground space like that? I know Seattle and Atlanta do. Here's how one mayoral candidate in Paris is envisioning redesigning abandoned subway stations.
Subway turned underground lap pool?
Things As Scary As Heroin Shouldn't Come Back In Style
Like most movie fans, I was sad (and mad) to hear about actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman's overdose death. This New York Times article opened my eyes to the enormous increase of heroin use - a 67% rise in New York City and 20% overall across the United States. When I think heroin, I think Trainspotting.  But it's increasingly people moving from a pain pill addiction to heroin (which is apparently cheaper and more easy to access in some places. How is that possible?)

I'll Have What She's Having
I know I work there and all, but how gorgeous is Susan Sarandon on the cover of AARP The Magazine this issue? You can download the magazine on iTunes and Android to read her interview (and also, yes, look at the gorgeous design job my colleagues are doing! They also have a killer design team Tumblr.)

New Blood at Microsoft
I'll admit, I'm an Apple devotee these days... but that's not to say that my business isn't up for grabs if they get out-innovated and out-designed. As Microsoft looks to the future, it's smart to get to know the incoming CEO Satya Nadella. Is he the hoodie-wearing cat who will shake up the model or is he the guys who's been there for 22 years? Can he be both? I don't know, but I liked this quote from his announcement to his employees:
While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more. Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. 
All organizations that have been around for a long time would do well to share in that ethos.

Ladies, Stop Saying You're Sorry
We rolled out Lean In at our office a few weeks ago and it's started a lot of good conversations. My favorite thing is that it's got women and men talking about gender in ways that we hadn't previously. The most productive video I watched this week on the Lean In site was Bill Hoogterp's "Own the Room" talk. Watch it and you'll start cringing every time you start to say "I'm sorry" for something that you really shouldn't say "I'm sorry" for. Talk to your friends about it. Is this something you do? How can you train yourself to stop. I'm now following Bill on Twitter where he gives great tips on presenting - and how to present yourself in the workplace. It's a good follow up to Amy Cuddy's "Power Posing" TED Talk (which you should also have watched by now. So. True.)

Does Your Brand Have a Snapchat Strategy?
Look, unless you're targeting teens, you probably don't need one. But I love it when brands try something new, even if it's just to learn how to better provide live coverage of real-time events. That's the thought behind the (not always socially savvy) Washington Post Snapchatting the Superbowl. I learned about LaterPic, which allows for pre-production of Snapchats, that WaPo is on Snapchat at "postpolitics" and that three people Snapped back... which is kind of fun to consider on the social engagement front.

Olympics or No Olympics... How Bad Is Russia?
I've never been to Russia, so Sochi is a lens that is freaking me out about visiting. Merici, who lived there, breaks down how it's both awesome and scary at the same time in her first Medium post.


Dream Jobs Roundup





2.04.2014

Dear Digital Agencies... I Don't Work With Eggs

I run the social media team for a large organization and business is booming. With the growth of social across digital, mobile, video, audio and print, we are bursting at the seams. And that means, I'm starting to think about scalability. And, yes, how agencies might be able to help.

There are two ways to find an agency:

1) Watch what is happening in your industry. When someone does something innovative or game-changing, find out who's working on it and get to know them (usually via Twitter.) Then, when I'm looking to work with an agency, I ask the people I trust, who they think is good to work with. The best recommendations don't come from cold calls, they come from happy clients.

The other way, I loathe. Let's call it "over the transom".

2) Every day, multiple times a day, I get emails and phone calls (my least favorite way to be contacted out of the blue) from people trying to sell me X agency that works with [insert famous brands] on [insert trendy buzz word]. They all want somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour to tell me why.

If you're like me, you don't have 15 minutes to an hour to spend with people you care about - or finish the dozens of projects you'd like to get done for work. So, why spend them getting pitched?

If I'm feeling nice, I'll send a note back. Something like, "Thanks. Super busy right now and not looking. Please remove me from your email lists, but feel free to stay in touch and develop the relationship via Twitter. I'm @tammy"

Nine times out of ten, that person will follow me on Twitter next. And. They. Will. Be. An. Egg.

Who in their right mind would ever hire a digital strategist that can't take the time to upload an avatar and not look like spam?

Let's be clear. No matter how I'm considering an agency, the first thing I do is research your digital footprint. How socially savvy is your agency website? Who might be working on my account and what comes up when I Google their name? Do they *get it*?

[NOTE: We're between two agencies right now for a piece of business. The determining factor: a DM to me from someone I respect vouching for their agency.]

After that a lot more happens. I may RFP. I may reach out to people I know that know you or your work. I most definitely will reach out to the social leads for clients that you've worked with in the past.

But if the first thing I see is an egg, this conversation is over.

1.25.2014

Weekend Trips: Portland, Maine (Day Two)

The first order of business for me each day is a cup of coffee - and I had spotted a place called Speckled Ax on the walk home the night before. Portland is serious about it's coffee and the Ax is no exception. I ordered up a cafe au lait to fuel my walk.

Cafe au Lait at Speckled Ax in downtown Portland
From there, we walked down Congress Street - one of the main areas of downtown - that was dotted with historic architecture and snowy city parks.

Park on Congress Street
Honestly, after DuckFat, I thought Eventide Oyster Company was going to be a madhouse. I was steeling myself for a crazy hour wait for lunch. But within five minutes we were seated at the bar and had local oysters and litteneck clams on the way and brunch cocktails in hand.
Littleneck clams and a dozen local oysters at Eventide
You guys... the menu. It's insane. I wanted to taste everything on it. And, damn near did. I started off with the Fluke Carpaccio which was served with these gorgeous watermelon radishes and spiked with jalapeno pepper. Next - hat tip Jim Webster - I had the Fried Oyster Bun. We're talking perfectly fried oysters nestled in a Asian-style soft steamed bun. I could have eaten four more of them. 

But I had to poach off my dining companion's plate. After all, he had the Lobster Benny - a decadent take on Eggs Benedict - and the Lobster Roll with Brown Butter Vinaigrette (they also make a mayo based version if that's your vice.)

Clockwise: Fluke Carpaccio, Oyster Bun, Lobster Roll, Lobster Benny
As we digested, we chatted with the bartender and tried more of the great local beers and liquors. In particular, I had really liked the Portland-made Ingenium Gin - and Eventide made me a gin and tonic with their house-made tonic that was right up my alley. (On the beer front, I became a huge fan of the Oxbow.)
Ingenium Gin and Eventide House-Made Tonic
At this point, we either needed a nap or to walk it all off. But the sun was breaking through, and I was amped to see the water, so we headed up Munjoy Hill to check out Casco Bay.

It was so cool to see people sledding down a snowy hill with beaches at the base. The Eastern Promenade allows you to easily walk from Munjoy Hill all the way around to the harbor and back downtown.

Walking the Eastern Promenade along Casco Bay
As cool as walking a snowy beach is, my feet were freezing in my rookie Floridian boots, so we headed up from the harbor into downtown to check out the boutiques. JL Coombs on Exchange Street hooked me up with some wool socks and a pair of fuzzy warm snow boots. I was much warmer after that and insisted that we keep the day going at The Thirsty Pig across the street.
Allagash White and new boots at The Thirsty Pig
We had some time to kill before our dinner reservation at Street & Co., so we wandered around downtown. One of my favorite finds was Vera's Fizz House on Fore Street which is stocked with all kinds of bar accessories and ingredients. Basically, everything to make your booze better. And, there's a tasting bar in the back that also makes hot chocolate, cider and more. We left with all kinds of bitters, tonic syrups and stirrers to make our home bar better.
Vera's Fizz House
Cold again, we were coming upon Fore Street which a lot of people had recommended (hey, we can only fit so much in!) It was so quaint and beckoning that we had to go inside and check it out. This is most definitely on my list for next time. This time, we just stayed for a drink and a perusal of the menu.
Manhattan at Fore Street
Our final meal that day was at Street & Co. I was exhausted, and possibly still full from all of the other things we'd had all day. But, the Linguine with Clams and White Sauce was worth every bite... even the ones I had the following day as we ate leftovers in the hotel room.
Linguine with Clams & White Sauce at Street & Co
As I collapsed into bed, I was already thinking, "Where are we going to eat tomorrow before our flight?" I might have a problem. 




1.24.2014

Weekend Trips: Portland, Maine (Day One)

I had no idea how easy it was to get to Maine from Washington, DC! We left DCA and an hour and a half later (plus a 15 minute cab ride to the hotel) we were sipping amazing coffee and on our way to a gluttonous, romantic, fun weekend.

When Maine in the dead of winter was proposed, this Floridian gave a side eye. But, a quick search of Portland's menus and it's simple to see how this walkable, waterfront downtown is one of the best "foodie" trips in the country.

I insisted that we hit the Portland Winter Farmers Market, which was a bit of a hike, but doable. There's a coffee and crepes food truck out front, a kombucha bar in the back, an apocathary, a bakery and loads of vegetables, meats and dairy.

Portland Winter Farmers Market
Next up, we wandered two buildings down to visit Tandem Coffee Roasters, an adorable cafe and roastery where I immediately zoned in on a Chocolate Sea Salt Donut by Holy Donut and a latte. I'm still thinking about it. The barista was super cool and we struck up a conversation about how great the DC coffee scene is getting. It was fun that he knew about places like Chinatown Coffee and Dolcezza (which BTW is opening a gorgeous tasting room near Union Market in March 2014).

Tandem Coffee Roasters
With all of the eating ahead of us, we knew we needed to walk. a. lot. And, walk a lot we did. Portland's a great town to explore, particularly in a snowy winter wonderland. I loved the street art around town.

I wanted to see the water. Which, I kind of could through the snow and fog. I loved this Christmas tree made of crab (or maybe lobster) traps.

Portland Harbor
Our lunch target was the much-hailed DuckFat. The poutine was decadent - maybe because we doubled down on the fried eggs on top. We also sampled the pork belly panini and the duck confit panini. The meal and service was great, but I'll warn you, even in the dead of winter, this joint was jammed... and lousy with foodies. You know the type (points at self)... the ones in for the weekend that were oohing and ahhing and being all reverent of the meal and taking photos. Basically it was a bit like going to Paris and finding yourself surrounded by Americans at a cafe. 

DuckFat
Sculptures Downtown
We had planned to go to dinner at Eventide, but after the foodie feeding frenzy at DuckFat, we wanted to go off the reservation a bit. (Spoiler: Lots more about Eventide to come...) As we were walking off lunch, we passed this tiny place called Piccolo that looked adorable and served Italian. We sort of looked at each other like, well we didn't come to Portland to eat Italian, but something about it felt right. So as soon as it opened, we called to get a reservation.

I almost don't want to write about it lest it become taken over by people like me, but Piccolo was perfect. The tables were taken up by locals and we found seats at the chef's bar where the team helped us navigate the best bites on Chef Damian Sansonetti's menu. 

We started off with a salumi (please note that it was served on a board made by Maine state prisoners... clearly I must have one) and the pulpo, which was nestled in kale and chick peas.
Spuntino at Piccolo
For dinner we shared the special of the day, a buttermilk-soaked chicken with truffles and the spaghetti with crab and chiles. Loved every minute of it.
Entrees at Piccolo
I'd like to say we collapsed after that, but our server at Piccolo recommended we check out The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club on the way back to the hotel. It's one of those joints with no sign. You look for the neon sign with the stars and your reward is classic and creative cocktails and great music in a cool but laid-back environment. I had a perfect Sazerac in a nod to my previous weekend trip to New Orleans.

I either had enough layers or the cold in Portland is different than the cold we get in DC. It was constantly snowing, but it was fluffy and pretty, especially this park outside of Hunt & Alpine.


Keep reading to see what I ate and where I went on day two of the Portland, Maine weekend trip...

[NOTE: I flew the US Airways direct flight from DCA. Southwest also flys direct to Portland Jetport from BWI. If you're looking for a place to stay, the Westin Portland Harborview Downtown is convenient, was reasonable and is located in the historical Eastland Hotel. It also has a rooftop bar that has floor to ceiling window views to take in the town, while staying warm and hydrated.]


10.15.2013

Twitter Lists: My Secret Weapon to Manage 140 Character Conversations

Step 1: Admit You Have a Problem
This week, I downloaded the Just Unfollow app and learned a few things about my Twitter follower patterns: When I travel, I binge follow restaurants, chefs, bloggers and other interesting people. When I watch TV (lookin' at you, Top Chef), I binge follow actors, directors, hosts and even characters on the shows.  During elections, I binge follow staff and candidates. And, during football season, I binge follow coaches, players and funny fans.

All of that is well and good until you find yourself following over 10,000 accounts like I did.

Twitter is just less helpful and relevant when your news feed is so cluttered that it's not interesting to you. For years, I've been generally avoiding my news feed and exclusively paying attention to Twitter through my Twitter lists.

Step 2: Make a Plan
I have Twitter lists for just about everything - cities I visit often, favorite foodies, political professionals that are interesting on both the right and the left, members of the media, digital innovators, celebs... and the most important list to me, My Twitter Posse. That's the people I actually care if I miss a tweet.

Twitter used to limit you to only twenty lists with no more than 500 people on them. And, I was hitting that limit hard. But, they've lifted the cap, so I'm recommending listmania!

Step 3: Know the Rules About Twitter Lists
First and foremost, decide if you want to make your lists public or private. If you make them public, others can view them and even subscribe to them. Twitter also notifies you when you've been added to a public list, so it's a good way to let someone know you find their account valuable or interesting. AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY TO MY ATTEMPT AT CURATION: YOU CAN ADD PEOPLE TO LISTS WITHOUT FOLLOWING THEM. So, you won't end up with a cluttered 10,000 account news feed like I did.

Step 4: Define Your Interests and Make Lists
If you're just getting started consider setting up the following lists (or make up your own based on your interests):

  • People I Know In Real Life - your friends and family (let's be real. Twitter isn't about them, but sometimes it's nice to be able to view it that way.)
  • News - your favorite news programs, anchors, reporters and editors
  • Entertainment - your favorite celebrities, musicians, actors, etc.
  • Travel - favorite places to stay/visit, travel deals
  • Business - people you admire in your industry, your customers, etc.
  • Sports - your favorite teams, athletes
  • Favorite People on Twitter - this will ensure a good mix and can be your primary viewing choice

Step 5: How and When to View Your Twitter Lists
My current favorite way to view Twitter lists is via Tweetbot on iPhone or Hootsuite on my laptop. They both just have a really simple user interface and allow you to easily toggle between lists. Yes, Twitter allows this too, just not in as few steps and not as clean to view, refresh, follow and add.

Lists for Fun:
Even if you just use Twitter for fun, consider how you might use lists to be more productive... during "The Bachelor" (or insert your fave show), make a list of contestants and your favorite folks to follow and comment on the show (if it's the Bachelor, you should be following @JenniferWeiner @SaraLang @1Chicklette and @Possessionista.) You can also follow the #TheBachelor hashtag during the show to find new funny people to add to your "The Bachelor" list.

Lists for Work
For work, you can make lists around events or key moments. Like, right now, during this government shutdown, I'm hyperfollowing my Political and Reporter lists. (I'd actually love if Twitter's product team would allow you to choose multiple lists to follow at once... but until then, I can watch the two side by side via Hootsuite.) Again, you can follow hashtags like #shutdown or #tcot (conservatives) and #p2 (progressives) to find new interesting folks to add to your lists.

Step 6: Know When to Let Go 
As I progress through my Twitter curation project, I've unfollowed over 2,000 accounts. I started by taking a look at who I follow that doesn't follow me. Just not following me isn't a dealbreaker. Tons of reporters and politicos don't follow me and I still need to know what they are talking about.

Most of what I've unfollowed are dormant accounts, people I've never interacted with, businesses that closed, people I thought had hilarious Twitter names that ended up not really being funny, Twitter memes that lost their relevance, celebrities that are boring or inactive, and a ton of people that I followed in preparation for trips to Australia and Europe that aren't relevant to me in my day-to-day. Some have been shifted to lists.

Step 7: Constantly Curate
All I know is that my Twitter won't remain relavant or interesting to me if I don't do a better job of making it that way. I don't want to turn into a follow curmudgeon. I just want it to be more about me and what I like.

Isn't that the whole point?

NOTE: Just Unfollow works for Twitter and Instagram. There are others where you can curate the folks you follow, such as Social Bro. Got a fave, tell me in the comments or tweet me @tammy


10.09.2013

The Best Social Media Customer Service Story (That's Actually Happened to Me)

When we think of customer service, we often think immediately of a complaint and managing the problem. Its like a sporting event with an offense and a defense, yet sometimes you don't know who is who. Airlines get the brunt of the customer service complaints but nothing ever really seems to happen other than apologies (if that). 

My (now) friend Lauren Breuning is the architect of the single best customer service story I've ever personally experienced via social media. I constantly reference "the Bachelor case study" in presentations and decided it was finally time to write it down in case others wanted to learn from it, like I did.

While doing a gala event together at the Four Seasons in 2011, I met Lauren and we collaborated on social media coverage to benefit both of our brands. Towards the end of a long evening, I off-handedly tweeted from my personal account, "Why don't hotels have DVRs? It seems so simple. And I really just want to watch the Bachelor finale when I'm done." (or some such). 



"The Bachelor Finale"


I thought nothing of it and finished the event. When back in my room, I heard an unexpected knock. When I opened the door, the bellman handed me a DVD and said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry we don't have DVRs yet, but we recorded The Bachelor for you on DVD and you'll find a player under your TV. Have a nice evening and let us know if there's anything else we can do to make your stay pleasant." 


You could have knocked me over with a feather. I didn't tag the hotel in the tweet. And, honestly, I didn't expect or want anything. But, I study social customer service best practices for a living, this story is always in the forefront for me. The Four Seasons does it right - and much of that comes from Lauren, their first dedicated social media hire. For my own brand, it makes me think... how can I reach that level... where we're not just tracking our name and responding to complaints, but really going beyond to identify customers (or potential customers) and make them *feel love* towards our brand, our mission.


Since then, other hotels have reached this threshold. There's the Hilton in Birmingham, Alabama that restructured their channel line up so that I could watch Morning Joe. And, the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta that noticed another tweet about missing a show (sensing a theme about what I complain about on the road?) and found a bar across the street for me to watch it. 

But, as I travel around speaking about social media and I look ahead at 2014 planning, I always carry this DVD in my bag. It reminds me to think bigger about what's next in social media. It's not about a tweet. It's about brand loyalty, relevance, customer service, message testing, data, marketing, and more. 

What's your best customer service story from social media? Leave it in the comments below or tweet me @tammy so we can all learn together.

You can also follow Lauren at @LaurBreu, or learn from the larger social customer service community on Twitter by following the hashtag, #custserv.

10.06.2013

Kim-Cheese Quesadilla, Inspired by Joe Yonan

I picked up Joe Yonan's newest book, Eat Your Vegetables at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market a few weeks ago. There are a ton of creative, interesting ways to cook small portions of vegetables included, but the one that popped out at me most significantly was the Grilled Kim-Cheese.

I first had kimchi at the TaKorean food truck here in DC, and I love the spice and tang. I also love a good grilled cheese. So, brilliant combo.

But, when I returned home after a week of work travel, the fridge wasn't looking good. I had a bag of shredded cheddar cheese. And, I had - in anticipation of trying it (and also on Joe's rec) - secured some Number 1 Sons KimChi-- made right here locally and sold at the Pleasant Pops Farmhouse & Cafe store in Adams Morgan. But, no bread.
Enter, tortillas. And, magic:

Pick up Joe's book and see what you get inspired to make. I think my next one is going to be the Cold, Spicy Ramen - I've already picked up my packages of ramen and am ready to toss the packets and get all DIY. I might never be Toki Underground, but Joe's getting me closer.

Follow Joe Yonan on Twitter at @joeyonan and read him in the Washington Post.

7.03.2013

Wine Country: Eating and Drinking Your Way from SFO to Healdsburg

I feel like I left my a piece of my heart in wine country last week. People keep asking me, "How was your vacation?" And, what my internal monologue says is "I want to put Ike in the convertible MINI and move out there."

Instead, I'll share my favorite spots with you and immediately begin planning my next visit there to explore more.  First up, Tim Zahner of Inside Sonoma mapped a great drive for me from SFO to Healdsburg. I couldn't fit all of his recommendations in, but everything I did was great, so I'm sharing the full itinerary with you here.

Stop 1: Vista Point at the Golden Gate Bridge
I've seen the Golden Gate Bridge from the city and I've driven over it in a taxi from the airport, but somehow I'd missed that you can get out and take in the full view at Vista Point. It's an amazing panoramic view from the Sausalito side that spans Alcatraz, the city and the bridge. Definitely a spot for a photo op, which of course, I did: 

Me at Vista Point
Stop 2: Della Fattoria in Petaluma
Petaluma is a great first stop for lunch. A) It's adorable and feels like you're starting to be in wine country rather than San Francisco and B) It's home to Della Fattoria. 

Upon Foursquare check-in, I realized I was in a bakery mecca. But I was craving a salad. Compromise? A panzanella salad featuring local asparagus that rocked my world:

Panzanella Salad at Della Fattoria in Petaluma
The sandwiches and baked goods looked fantastic as well, but I took a quick walk around downtown because next on my list was... 

Stop 3: Screamin' Mimis in Sebastopol
Tim told me I had to get the affogato (espresso plus ice cream) at Screamin' Mimis and I convinced myself that I needed the caffeine to adjust to the Pacific time zone. What I didn't count on was that they would also have local strawberry ice cream.  Clearly, I had to get both. Don't judge.
Affogato and Local Strawberry Ice Cream from Screamin' Mimis
After that, Tim recommended wine. Now, I had to get to work (the impetus for the whole trip was that I was working the weekend) so I had to peel off at this point and meet colleagues. But I'll share the rest of his recommendations below in case you can do the full road trip.

Stop 4: The Barlow in Sebastopol
I did drive around The Barlow, which is this cool new compound of food and wine shops. There was a coffee shop, a wine shop and more coming. Definitely something to include if you're near Sebastopol!

Stop 5: Balletto Vineyards in Sonoma 
When visiting Balletto, Tim recommends the pinot noir rose and finding the field of dreams... I'm intrigued and will be back.

Stop 6: DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa
Tim recommends trying the pinots and chardonnays at this Russian River Valley vineyard and tasting room.

Steps 7 and 8: Rodney Strong and J Winery near Healdsburg
I heard great things about these two, especially the bubbly tasting at J. Another must do if you're nearby.

Stop 9: Bear Republic Brewpub in Healdsburg
After three wine tastings, you'll need some grub. Bear River came highly recommended from the locals - also, doing a beer tasting in the Healdsburg area is another day idea - there were several breweries that sound great.

If you want to see all of the recommendations from my northern California wine country Google map, click here. Did I miss any of your favorites? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me @tammy.

7.02.2013

Important Takeaways from Mary Meeker's 2013 Internet Trends Report


Everyone who works in digital, social, mobile... heck, anyone who works in media and communications, should be reading Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends report. A slow day at the office allowed me to catch up. Instead of just saving them on Evernote, I figured I'd share the most important takeaways from my perspective. Call it the Cliff Notes for Social Media Strategists version:

  • There are 2.4 billion global Internet users - check out the year over year growth numbers coming out of Iran!
  • Advertisers should be paying a lot more attention to mobile campaigns and media companies should be innovating how ads engage mobile users. So much untapped opportunity.
  • More than 500 million photos are uploaded and shared annually via Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and (growing!!!) Snapchat. Graphics remain extremely important to making your message more sharable across the digital universe. [HINT: That's why AARP just launched our first Instagram contest: InstaGrands!]
  • 100 hours of content in uploaded to YouTube every single minute. Invest in upping your vid skills! Speaking of, Snapchat and Vine are currently doubling their uploads every two months. (So are fitness apps and devices! Maybe it's time to order that FitBit...)
  • Is your brand leveraging the most popular social networks with a unique strategic focus? (Mine is for all but MySpace. I love Justin Timberlake, but do we really have to go back there?)
  • Tablets are growing three times faster than iPhones. How's your website look there? Are all of your calls to action built for responsive design?
  • The typical mobile phone user reaches for their device 150 times a day. I wonder if I hit that threshold before lunch.

Mary's report always gives me a slew of "to dos" and "to learns"... here are the ones that jumped out at me this year:
  • I need to check out DropCam. Sounds similar to Skype and Google Hangout to me, so why is it's use surging when it has a cost?
  • Think through how we use sound for business as voice comes back to phone via SoundCloud and WeChat.
  • If behavior is the cause of 40% of deaths, how can tools like Jawbone and FitBit incentivize/gamify healthier behavior and save our country money in health care down the road? (And, maybe I should put down this hush puppy.)
  • Will wearable devices like Google Glass outpace even tablets in adaptation?
  • Can I make a business case for drones? Or is that just a fun thing to consider using at the office?
  • It's really interesting to follow the digital trends in China. What's trending there that will be big in the United States two years from now?
  • There will be 2.4 jobs in computer science for every person that graduates with a computer science degree. How can we get more American students to focus on STEM, especially girls? I love what CodeAcademy and Black Girls Code are doing... how can I help amplify or support in my community?
  • Good brainstorm idea: How could we re-imagine how we do business? If we hack our own business and get more innovative, we're less at risk of others doing it for us.

Dig into it and share your takeaways!