Philly “BloggerGate”

Last night I attended the “Bloggergate” Happy Hour where city officials tried to answer questions and provide explanations of the current city tax regulations and how they are applied to members of the creative economy and freelancers.  There is an excellent writeup on the Phillyist site, so I am not going to summarize everything that was discussed.

I posed a question that seemed to be on the minds of many of the local bloggers I know –
The current Philadelphia revenue regulations require that anyone conducting business and receiving revenue in the city of Philadelphia is required to have a Business Privilege License.  An issue that arose among the blogger community is not the requirement to have the license and pay taxes on actual income.  The issue is the “recreational” blogger who does not blog for income.  They may place an ad on their site and charge just enough to cover hosting and domain renewal costs.  They are now being told because they receive revenue (the payment for ad placement) that they are a business and are required to have the Business Privilege License and pay taxes.  Obviously because it is a break-even financial arrangement, they will not owe any taxes, however, they are now being required to buy the Business Privilege License which likely amounts to much more than the amount they are charging for their blog ads.  Is this issue being looked into?

The city indicated that, because of situations exactly like this one, they are looking into the relevancy and applicability of the Business Privilege License.  They made no promises that change would come, but they are considering options.   They genuinely seemed to have had their eyes opened to some of the differences in conducting business in this new creative economy.   That the old ways of regulation and collecting taxes have to be re-evaluated to better apply to how a large majority now do business.  It is a start.

Several other freelancers and business owners asked questions and expressed their frustration with the current tax system and the complexity of starting a business in Philadelphia.  To the city officials credit, they listened and did their best to explain the current system.  The city gets props for showing up on “our” (the tech community’s) turf, National Mechanics (as opposed to say a stuffy room in City Hall), for listening to the questions and complaints and for, at least appearing to, trying to understand the issues and questions.  No one got the answers they wanted last night, but anyone who came expecting instant results was being unrealistic.   As I said to KYW’s Robin Culverwell,

“The fact that they called this meeting tonight, they’re willing to come out, they’re willing to take questions of any kind is a positive step forward.”

My first ride at Blog Carnival!

I was extremely honored when a lady that I respect immensely, Lani Rosales (@laniar), co-founder of New Media Lab,  approached me to be a “judge” for this week’s edition of Social Media Blog Carnival.  Of course, I accepted immediately!   For anyone who is not familiar with Blog Carnival, it is a compilation of blog posts submitted over a set period of time (usually a week) and then a selected “judge” is invited to review all of the submissions and chose their favorites for the week and host them on their blog. (I encourage you to click the link and explore not only the Social Media Blog Carnival, but all of the other Blog Carnival categories.) SMBlogCarnival

Over the last week, multiple submissions appeared in my email inbox.  I poured over them, reading most at least twice, some more than that.  I wanted to make sure that I not only gleaned as much information as possible from the submissions, but that I gave fair consideration to the efforts of all of the participants. I wish I had room on my blog for all of the fantastic entries, but time and space make that an impossibility, so I chose the two entries that “spoke” to me the most.  I hope you enjoy both of these articles as much as I did! Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

How Twitter is Teaching Business the Lost Art of Conversation

Monday, June 22, 2009 Posted by Isaac Yassar

So it’s happened. Twitter has gone mainstream. As Twitter users, we knew instantly when Mumbai came under terrorist attack. We laughed at the photo of Stephen Fry stuck in an elevator when he tweeted his predicament, we were there when Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to 1 million followers, we caught the first glimpse of passengers being evacuated from the ditched plane on the Hudson River and we all suffered the lag time when Oprah Winfrey sent her first ever tweet on live TV.

Industry pundits and bitter journalists regularly diss Twitter as a time-wasting, “look at me” fad, destined for Forgottensville in 2 years. In fact New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd is quoted as saying to Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone:

“I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account.”

So is Twitter really just an emergency beacon and “a toy for bored celebrities and high-school girls” as Dowd gleefully claims?

Thankfully, no. The latest wave of Twitter users are business executives. They range from home business owners, SME’s, middle and upper management, marketing executives, brand evangelists and CEOs. Take a look at ExecuTweets and you’ll see some well-known names with very active Twitter accounts: Richard Branson of Virgin, Lisa Stone Co-founder of BlogHer, Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos and Steve Case Co-founder of AOL, to name a few.

It’s not just individuals either. Some of the world’s most recognized brands are Twittering. I found a number of super brands on Twitter and asked my followers which of these they were following:

Read more here

Re-defining ROI in the age of social media.

Posted by Matt Stigliano on 06/20/2009 06:27 PM

What’s the return on your investments?

After attending, the SABOR Town Hall Meeting and listening to Sean Wood and Rich Teplitsky of KGBTexas speak on the topic of social media, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about some of the things I noticed while I was there as well as some of the snippets of conversation that my ears overheard from other people’s small groups as they were gathering and getting ready to go.  Some of the audience was there to get an idea of what social media was, some were there to get more out of it, some where there just to see what the craze is all about.

Return on investment (ROI), is the ratio of gain or loss on an investment relative to the money invested.  In real estate, you often hear the term ROI being referred to around the hours and/or money we spend on any particular activity in order to generate business.  In terms of social media, I have heard many people question what the ROI is on it.  Whether it be blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or even ActiveRain itself, social media is all around us, but there has been some serious conflicts over the quantifying of the actual returns of using it based on the investment you put into it.  There are plenty of success stories of transactions closed thanks to the many different forms of social media, but I think there’s something else to look at.

Interaction.

As agents we spend much of our time looking to get in front of people.  To talk to them, to share our experiences, to tell them what we do, and to hopefully make them our clients (or at least a great referral source).  Agents are doing this all day long.  The girl at the grocery store, the guy pumping gas, the small business owner that you know through BNI – no matter where we go, we’re interacting and building relationships which we work to turn into business.  Occasionally, the business falls in our lap – “You’re a Realtor®?  I have a house I need to sell, can you stop over tomorrow?”  Other days, it takes a growth process of going from “that agent guy” to “my Realtor®.”  We hear the word cultivation a lot when referring to the people we meet.  Cultivate the relationship, build the trust, get the business.

Social media is really no different.  Strangers will talk to you, friends will tell others about you, and building a sphere of influence is the name of the game.  As many people discuss over and over again, the trick is not to sell.  I definitely believe this to be the case, but this is not the point of this post.

So what is the ROI on social media?

Read more here