Social Media as a Service

I get a lot of people telling me how I can make my employer more successful if we would just learn to market on Social Media – especially on Twitter.

They have stuff to sell, and they want me to buy.  We all need to make a living.

I’m not focused on making money from Social Media – I am focused on saving money WITH Social media.

Every customer we help in near real time is a customer that that is exposed to Fanatical Support® – often for the first time.

And that support is important.  It is timely.  It is genuine – it is driven by an engineer with a desire to help a customer win.

Near real time support adds a lot of value because it both maintains your brand reputation and reinforces your core commitment to customers – that you are a partner, not just a vendor.  That you win and lose together.  That they are not just a number.

So we focus a lot on how Social Media can help us help customers win. That is our strategy.  Please steal it – emulate it – make all my experiences with brands better by making them more engaged with me.

But put real people behind those accounts and hashtags – people that are empowered to make a difference, and people that really give a damn.

That isn’t Marketing.

That is Social Media as a Service.


Sometimes we all need a “feel good folder”

Like anyone that works with people, I have a lot of wins, and suffer some losses.  I have great days, and I have days that kind of drag me down.

Ever since I can remember I have kept an email folder called “good news”.  I stick my wins in this folder – be it a new customer I brought in, kudos from a boss, or a thank you from a customer.  I rarely look at this folder, because I am lucky, and have created my own position, as illustrated by Hugh MacLeod:

But every now and then, I need to be re-energized.  This folder helps me remember why I fight hard for a customer, or why I push hard against big corporate BS.  Or why I am up at three in the morning trying to make someone smile.

I think we all need a “good news” folder at times.

Rob gets a “Cube Grenade” – Culture of Service.

I’ve known Hugh MacLeod for a couple or four years. Knew him online for even longer. I’ve respected his work – which first got my attention with his work for Stormhoek.  Then came the Blue Monster, for Microsoft.  I liked the way his cartoons got me to think about things.

That was before I came to work for Rackspace.  Recently Hugh was in San Antonio, and he toured our corporate headquarters in a once abondoned 1.2+ million square foot shopping mall.  He saw the worlds largest (certified by Guinness!) Word Search puzzle.  He saw the only known functioning escalators in a hosting company’s offices.  We had a good time, and later went out for some BBQ with a few Rackers, and guests from the community.  It was a great day.

While he was here, Hugh and I started discussing him doing something involving Rackspace.  Working with a number of other Rackers (Rackspace employees), we decided that we wanted Hugh to focus on what we are most proud of – what makes our company unique, and why the number of employees has doubled since I joined 26 months or so ago, and why our customer count has risen just as quickly – even in a down economy.

So here is his first cartoon – and I really enjoy it.  I thank Hugh for making this one special as my very own personal “cube grenade” 🙂

Click to enlargeOur motto is “Fanatical Support” – which is based on our unique culture.

This is the first in a series of cartoons, blog posts, etc that explore why culture is important to us, and why a culture of service – to each other, to customers, and to our community is so important to our success.

I am hoping this series starts a conversation about culture, and service.  So feel free to comment!

Hugh’s original post is here.


Rackspace Opens the Cloud (and I Couldn’t be More Proud)

A little over two years ago, as I was talking to Rackspace Hosting about joining their Cloud Computing Division, I told Rackspace that I wanted to change the world (again). I was involved with creating WiFi – and I wanted to again make that kind of change for the world.

More than I wanted a J.O.B. – I wanted to change the world.

And here I find myself, at 4am, not being able to sleep – even though I need to be on a flight to Boulder in 4 hours.  I’m too excited to sleep – oh, I tried!  But every few minutes I would find myself peeking once more at the OpenStack Twitter Account (@OpenStack) – wondering if the hits were still coming in (they are) – and assuring myself this is real (it is!).

We’ve been hard at work for the last several years – working towards that end. Today, I think we have helped change the world.

By open-sourcing the second most popular Cloud Computing platform on the planet, I think we’ve just changed the world. Hell, by partnering with NASA, we may actually be changing more than this world. (I can imagine OpenStack running on the Moon, and on Mars!)

The list of partners is impressive – go look at There are a lot of forward thinkers on that list – and they are company I am proud to be in.

Mostly though, I am proud of the company I work for. This is a bold move by a Leadership team that has demonstrated exceptional thought leadership in our space. In the two short years I have been with the company we have more than doubled our customer count, drastically increased the number of servers and data-centers we have, and made bold moves in many other areas.

I’m sure there will be a lot of discussions and a lot of questions about our decision (there were plenty of internal ones!) – but I am confident that at the end of the day, a truly open cloud that is already in production will better serve the world – a cloud that has proven its ability to scale and serve real customers.

It is a great day to be a Racker. I’m very proud of what we have done, and what we will continue to do to change the world – one (open) code drop at a time!

Come join us at OpenStack – change the world with us.  Change your world!

Folding and remembering. Getting more value out of a business card.

My job introduces me to a lot of people. Sometimes a few hundred in a day. Most of those are very casual and random. But about 30 times a day, at a conference, I get a business card from someone that wants to connect in some way. It could be a current customer looking for help, a potential customer looking for advice, a current customer looking to buy more, a current customer that wants to talk to me ASAP about something – there are a lot of reasons I get business cards.

Over the last two years I have accidentally discovered a way to both listen to a customer, and remember who they are, and what they need – days later, when I have traveled back home.

When I receive a business card I hold it in my hand as my conversation continues. I hold it face up, right-side up. If I am talking to a current customer, I bend over the upper right corner. If I am talking to a potential customer, I bend over the upper left corner. A current customer that wants to buy more gets both upper corners bent.

I have a lot of variations of how I bend business cards. A card folded in half means someone wants to talk to me ASAP. A card folded diagonally belongs to a competitor that I feel I can talk to.

Each fold can include the components of the other folds. Happy customer, wants to buy more, and do it ASAP. Upper left and right corners folded over, card folded in half.

If I am talking with someone that is not happy, I fold the bottom right or left corner – depending on if they are a customer or not.

How you fold business cards, or if you do – is up to you. What each fold means to you, is up to you. And if you can somehow manage all these contacts without having to resort to “memory games” – then good for you. I can’t. So I use something that is easy for me to figure out even a week later. And each fold helps me remember more of the conversation I had with that person – which makes me better suited to respond correctly to them after the conference.

It doesn’t matter how you remember people, but you DO need to remember them – and the context in which you met them. If folding business cards turns out to be useful for you, please let me know. I know it has made me much more effective in my follow up conversations.

It is an easy “trick”, and I like easy.