Okay, folks, it’s the end of the year and we’re ready to have a little fun and maybe some belly laughs. To help get us ready for 2010 we thought we’d recount the best Outspoken Media moments from the year 2009. Are you ready for this?
[Note: I asked Rhea and Rae for suggestions, but these are really just my own personal favorites. When they blog regularly they’ll get to have a say. Love you, ladies!]
The Top Outspoken Media Moments are…
The Forming of ‘Outloud Media’
What’s Outloud Media, you ask? Well, Outloud Media is what I called Outspoken Media the first two weeks that we existed. Because I thought that was the name of the company! Rhea likes to tell people I called it this for months. But Rhea has a propensity towards lying. It was two weeks. Unfortunately, those two weeks also included the time period where I was writing an entire Web site about all the wonderful services that the brand new Outloud Media would provide. Luckily I had Rhea and Rae to spot check. Yeah.
Outspoken Media Gets Streko’d
streko’d: To get unintentionally, but often very dumbly, outed. This typically refers to someone opening their big Jersey mouth, but can also include informing people in other ways. Like through analytics data.
Outspoken Media was streko’d twice in 2009. The first time we were streko’d was by its namesake, Michael Streko, himself. Streko was part of a very small inner circle of friends that knew about Outloud Outspoken Media before the general public and was sworn to super secrecy. Naturally, we wanted to control our coming out party. Streko promised to keep our secret. What he didn’t tell us was that he would start clicking on links in our blogroll and alerting people through their analytics that the site existed. [waves to Kim Krause-Berg] Way to keep a secret, Streko!
…And Streko’d Again!
It was the Wall Street Journal that accidentally streko’d us the second time around. Julia Angwin contacted us to let us know that her article A Makeover for Your Google Results featuring Rhea would be publishing two weeks earlier than schedule – and in 24 hours. At that moment we had no Web site up. We didn’t even have a Welcome page. So began the scramble to get up a respectable looking ‘Hey, You Found Us’ page that would let people know that, yes, we were the company just quoted in the WSJ and, [nervous giggle], we’d have a Web site up in 14 days. Come back then. That’s right. We were outed to the world by the Wall Street Journal. Talk about pressure early street cred.
The Dance Heard ‘Round the World
To date (and maybe forever), the most popular post on the Outspoken Media blog has absolutely nothing to do with SEO or Internet marketing. It’s a post called The Power Of The Unexpected and was a video I found on Twitter and posted as a last resort for content. That video, that most people found first through our Web site, ended up becoming one of the biggest Internet sensations of 2009. Our post went hot on Digg, went through the roof on StumbeUpon and exploded in ways that we couldn’t have manipulated, let alone predicted. Now should I be angry that the most popular post on our site was a video of folks dancing around to Chris Brown? Probably. But I’m still giggle-crying too hard at the video to care. That post and the viral explosion around it was proof that sometimes things just happen and take on a life of their own that you never imagined. Kind of like Outspoken Media.
[BTW – Major props to our hosting company NetWisp (formerly Power Storm) for kicking Digg’s ass with only a minor hiccup under all that weight. You guys ROCK!]
Lisa Loses Outspoken A Major Client
Lots of people wonder if my Twitter account ever gets Outspoken Media in trouble with clients. Well, I can tell you that this year it got me into trouble in a very big way. Here’s what happened: Outspoken Media was about to sign a huge household name client to a very lovely social media contract. We had talked with them quite a bit, things were looking good and we were in the very final negotiation stages of the deal. And then I tweeted something. It was something I meant lightheartedly and as a joke but the company found it to be both inappropriate and offensive. They asked that I go back and delete the tweet. We had a decision to make in that moment – change who we were in order to land the biggest client we’ve ever had or stay true to ourselves. We chose the latter and the tweet still stands. It’s a decision we definitely don’t regret, however, that doesn’t mean I don’t get shit for it every time the three partners are together. But let’s be real: If they found my Twitter account offensive, did we really ever want to leave them alone on a call with Rae? Not likely.
Getting Robbed in Canada
In July Rhea and I road-tripped it up to Canada to visit Rae and get in some quality partner bonding time. We spent time working together around Rae’s dining room table, taking in the sights of Guelph (read: The Tim Horton’s drive-thru) and, you know, getting robbed when someone left the front door wide open overnight. Rae (naturally) went unscathed in the mess, however, Rhea lost her wallet and I suffered a stolen laptop. But, hey, at least we got a good blog post out of it, right? And you know what they say – the company that gets robbed together, STAYS TOGETHER! :)
[RIP Blue Dell. You were the best computer I ever owned. I miss you every day. ]
Introducing Rae To My Conservative Father
While in town for Affiliate Summit East someone got the bright idea to arrange a time for Rae to come out to dinner with my parents and little brother. (I think it was Rae and a sign she hates me.) I’m not even going to give this a description. Just try to imagine it in your head. Rae hanging out with my ultra conservative dad. When you’re done, go lie down and chew on a Xanax.
My Biggest Blogging Mistake Ever
In April I made what I consider to be my biggest blogging mistake ever. I got scared and turned off comments on a controversial post. The post in question was titled It’s Not The Recession, You Just Suck and I made the decision to turn off comments after it seemed like people were just finding new ways to kick one another. To be honest, it was the first post I had written that hit that strong of a nerve and I think I just wasn’t sure how to handle it. But I shouldn’t have closed comments. I wrote the post the way I saw fit and I should have allowed the people to continue commenting on a post that obviously struck a chord. I’ve been criticized quite a bit in the blogosphere and even in a heated LinkedIn thread for my decision. Last week I was accused of cutting off the comments as a way to silence critics. And while that wasn’t true, it made me feel even more horrible for having done it. I apologize to anyone who wanted to share their two cents on that post and couldn’t. Had I left the comments on, that post likely would have been our most viewed post of the year. Mea culpa.
In October, we hired Dawn Wentzell as Outspoken’s new Senior Account Manager and we went from three to four. And it was amazing. Dawn’s exceptional and the value she’s brought to Outspoken in the few months we’ve had her has been incredible. Hiring Dawn also allowed us to take on more clients and to do a bit more with clients we already had. For me, bringing on Dawn also felt a little like we were really *doing this*. We had started a company in January and were thriving enough that we needed to, and could afford, bringing on an additional teammate. The family was getting bigger and feeling more stable. It rocked.
Scoble Throws an Epic Temper Tantrum
I called Robert Scoble silly and he threw the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums right on our very blog. He puffed up his geeky chest, insinuated I missed the point a few dozen times, called our commenters idiots and acted as though I had kicked his little puppy in the face right in front of him. In the end, Robert Scoble left nearly 20 comments on our post in his quest to defend his honor and achievements as the SEO community took him to task for once again putting his foot in his mouth. And of course, the harder he kicked, the more some decided to play with him. It wasn’t the first time Robert visited our blog to throw things and I don’t imagine it’ll be the last. See you next year, Robert!
Barone vs Godin
You know the story. In September Seth Godin launched Brands in Public, which registered brands’ community pages, threw content on them, and then charged companies $400 a month to control them. We called it brandjacking and the community agreed. The post ignited on Twitter, eventually earning some attention from AdAge, TechCrunch, BusinessWeek and was just labeled one of the Top SEO Smackdowns of 2009 by Gil Reich. In the end, the firestorm proved worth it as Seth Godin decided to change his stance and make his Brands in Public system opt-in rather than opt-out. And I couldn’t help but feel our community helped that to happen. Our part in fixing that situation is without a doubt one of the things I’m most proud of this year.
Making Our Clients Outspoken
I think I speak for Rhea, Rae, Dawn and myself when I say the best moment for Outspoken Media this year has been being able to work with an all-star list of clients. We still hold a 100 percent retention rate after our first year of business and I couldn’t be more proud of everything that we’ve accomplished this year. Rhea and I left our last gig because we wanted more control in how we were doing things. And being able to come in and really do things up to our standards has allowed to us trust that forming Outspoken Media in 2009 really was the absolutely best decision for us. And we have our clients and our community to thank – so thank you.
While 2009 did not go as I expected, professionally it’s been an incredible year and one to definitely take in. And it’s a result of everyone who has found a home here in our little community – all of the clients, the colleagues, friends and our blog readers. The support that you’ve given Outspoken from day one has been overwhelming, and we thank you for that from the bottom of our hearts.
Here’s to another great year.
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.