Yes, Virginia, it’s still ok to ask the question

The phrase used to be “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” Recently, however, I’ve had several people tell me that, in the age of Google, this phrase is no longer relevant, that there now IS such a thing as a stupid question. Although I understand where they are coming from, I’m going to have to argue the opposite in my usual old school/contemporary way. So here are four reasons that I think there is still no such thing as a stupid question:

Let me Google that for you homepage screen shot

The phrase used to be “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” Recently, however, I’ve had several people tell me that, in the age of Google, this phrase is no longer relevant, that there now IS such a thing as a stupid question. Although I understand where they are coming from, I’m going to have to argue the opposite in my usual old school/contemporary way. So here are four reasons that I think there is still no such thing as a stupid question:

  1. The complete phrase is “There is no such thing as a stupid question, there are, however, lazy questions.”  This phrase I agree with and fully believe in, especially in the age of Google. If you need the formula for percentage change, it’s a simple Google search away.  So is the date that the movie Back to the Future traveled into the future and who holds the World Record for the longest fingernails. These are factually based answers that are just a click away. So, yes, if you ask one of these while having access to the internet, it’s a lazy question.
  2. There is a lot of incorrect information out there (and it gets repeated). The Internet provides the fuel for old wives tales and rumors to spread like wildfire.  There are some ways to tell the crap from the good stuff, but they are no foolproof, and if it’s a topic that you are not at least somewhat knowledgeable about, it’s going to be hard to decipher the good information from the bad information. If you already know an expert, it’s much more reliable to ask them. At the very least, they can point you down the right path.
  3. Sending “Let me Google that for you” links is rude.  I don’t care how you try to rationalize it, sending one of these links as an answer to someone’s question communicates that you think they are stupid or lazy. Clearly, this is not the best way to build a relationship with someone.
  4. Asking questions is one of the most fundamental ways of having a conversation with someone.  If a person is asking you a question that isn’t covered under #1 or #2 on this list, then they are probably more curious about your slant/opinion/view of something or they are just plain interested in you. They are not looking for the standard information they are going to find online. They are trying to form a relationship.  If you are on the opposite side of this equation, and you are nervous that you might get a “look it up” type of answer, consider rephrasing the question to say something like “I’m curious your personal thoughts on,” or “What does x mean to you?” This takes a lot of practice and self-discipline not to just think “I’ll Google that later,” but it’s much better for your relationships.

Got it? Or do I need to Google it for you?  Smiley Face

Creating incentives that are mutually beneficial

If you are like the majority of marketers, your first thought is some sort of financial compensation such as money or a gift card. Although this is a good incentive and will usually do the trick, the example above reminds us all that, if we think creatively, we can find an incentive that is mutually beneficial to both us and our customers.

Keys to developing a mutually beneficial

On Sunday I drove up to Grand Rapids to slide down the giant waterslide created by Rob Bliss.  Along with a sunburn (whoops!), I came home with a renewed appreciation for the power of creativity that goes into creating incentives that are mutually beneficial to clients and an organization.

I arrived on Grand Rapids Community College’s campus to find a very long line to go down the 500 foot long waterslide.  I eagerly jumped into the snaking line that surrounded the slide, but not really realizing the impact that the line would have on the wait time.  After 1 ½ hours of waiting in line, I hadn’t moved nearly as far as I thought I would and it finally dawned on me that the line was probably about 4 hours long. Not too long after that realization struck me, a volunteer on the other side of the barrier was going up and down the line talking with people. He came near me and I leaned in to listen.

According to the volunteer, the original plan was for people to go down the waterslide just laying flat on their back, but they quickly realized that, in order for the slide to work, everyone had to go down it on inner tubes. That presented a problem because they then had to devise a way to get the tubes back up the hill.  Their solution was to go up and down the line and ask for volunteers to create a human chain and throw the tubes back up the hill.  The payment for one hour of volunteering to do this was you got to move to the front of the line.

I may not be the best at math, but it didn’t take me long to realize that this was a good deal and meant  waiting in line a grand total of 2 hours vs. 4 hours. Besides, I hate sitting still watching other people work, so I volunteered.  The work was easy, fun, and the hour flew by. Before I knew it, I was at the front of the line and had a fun ride down the slide.

People throwing water tubes up the hill next to the slide
The throwing of the tubes

The experience made me think about how we typically go about incentivizing our customers. If you are like the majority of marketers, your first thought is some sort of financial compensation such as money or a gift card.  Although this is a good incentive and will usually do the trick, the example above reminds us all that, if we think creatively, we can find an incentive that is mutually beneficial to both us and our customers.   

Keys to developing a mutually beneficial incentive

The first key to developing a mutually beneficial incentive is to truly understand what will motivate your target audience.  In the example above, my key motivation was to spend less time waiting in line. For a volunteer for a political campaign, maybe the person would care more about a photo op with an important political figure than a gift card.

The second key is to think creatively about what would most benefit your organization.  In the majority of cases, it’s probably not going to involve giving away money.  For example, if a college has a student that is motivated to publicly speak, this could be a huge mutual benefit. By having the student go out and speak for the college, the college gains positive publicity and the student gets to do what he  or she loves.  It’s a win-win!

So what will motivate your customers and how can you utilize that to create mutually beneficial incentives?

Google Adwords credit union campaign example

An example of a Google Adwords campaign for a credit union.

Below is an example of a Google Adwords campaign for a credit union. Michigan State Federal Credit Union is a real credit union, but not a real client. I just used their name and sites for this example.

 

Creative Brief

 
August 2, 2010
 
Presented to:
April M. Clobes
Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce
Michigan State University Federal Credit Union
 
By:
Nicole Finkbeiner
Michigan State University Graduate Student
Department of Communication
 
Re: Google Adwords Campaign
 
 
Goal for the campaign
  • Increase the number of home mortgage applications completed through MSUFCU during the months of August and September 2010 (as compared to last year and surrounding months)
 

Target Markets

  • People living within the Greater Lansing (including East Lansing and Okemos), Auburn Hills, and surrounding areas who are interested in purchasing a home and looking for a mortgage for their home.  The majority of these people are first-time home buyers.
  • People living within the Greater Lansing (including East Lansing and Okemos), Auburn Hills, and surrounding areas who are interested in refinancing their current mortgage that is held by a different mortgage lender. 
 
Strategy
In order to meet the goal of increasing the number of home mortgages written or refinanced by MSUFCU, this campaign will seek to drive warmed traffic to the MSUFCU home mortgage application site and related sites using Google AdWords.
I chose this strategy because:
  • When people are looking for information, such as home mortgage rates and mortgage lenders, they look online. And, for many people, the Internet is their ONLY source of information. For example, from May 2008 to May 2009, online searching “increased 20.3 percent year-over-year, from 7.8 billion in May 2008 to 9.4 billion in May 2009” (Source: Nielsen). 
  • Google is the number one search engine used in the United States.  For example, in May 2009, Google was responsible for 63.2% of Internet searches (Source: Nielsen).
  • Google Adwords allows MSUFCU to target prospects effectively without the advertising spillage that is present in traditional forms of advertising. 
    • Adwords will allow MSUFCU to target potential prospects demographically.  Using previous data on successful conversions, MSUFCU can narrow who sees the ads for MSUFCU to a specific geographic location, a specific gender, age, etc. to optimize results.
    • Adwords can specifically target prospects who are searching for information about home mortgages.  By using the Google Keyword tool, MSUFCU can see the key phrases that local residents are using to search for home mortgage information, target the ads to show at these times, and include the key phrases in the ad copy for maximum results.
Ad copy
After using the Google Keyword Tool to analyze MSUFCU’s mortgage websites and reviewing the chart below, I determined that there are two main key selling points that can be used in the ads:
  1. The low interest rate. Currently, MSUFCU has mortgage rates as low as 4.0%. This is an incredibly low rate and many competitors are slightly above at approximately 4.1-4.2%.  Buyers know that, over a long mortgage, the point variation on a mortgage will amount to significant dollars, so even a .1% advantage is truly an advantage.
  2. As shown in the keywords below, another top-ranking search term was a mortgage calculator. People thinking of purchasing a home or refinancing a home will use a mortgage calculator as a deciding factor on whether or not to move forward in the application process.  So, MSUFCU’s free mortgage calculator may lead to mortgage applications after they use it.
 Keyword ideas for MSUFCU
 
Using the top keywords above (mortgage, mortgage calculator, interest rates, first time home buyer, and home mortgage), I developed the following ads. These ads are developed using direct calls to action and multiple keywords to have maximum impact. Each, when clicked on, takes the potential customer to the page that most directly relates to their search term and the ad.
 
4.0% Mortgage Rate New Home Buyer Google Ad
4.0% Mortgage Rate Refinance Google Ad
Free Mortgage Calculator Refinance Google Ad
Free Mortgage Calculator Owning Your Own Home Google Ad
Low Interest Rates Apply now Google Ad
Low Interest Rates Google Ad Refinance
First Time Home Buyer Google Ad
Low Home Mortgage Rates Apply Now Google Ad
Low Home Mortgage Rates Refinance Today Google Ad
 
 
Ad set-up
  • When using Google Adwords, the best way to set-up the ads is as follows:
  • Locations: For locations, I recommend using the custom location feature and creating a 10 mile radius around each branch location by entering each location’s address.  Although some may overlap, this approach:
  • Allows the nearest branch address to show in the ads
  • Geographically targets areas near branches (people trust businesses that are local).
  • Limits the amount of advertising spillage. For example, if we chose the Greater Lansing DMA vs. customizing, the geographic area is much larger than from what MSUFCU pulls. These are wasted impressions.
  • Language: English, unless a significant amount of mortgage applications come from those with another language as their primary language.
  • Networks and Devices: Choose all. With mobile technology becoming the primary way that people access the Internet, it’s important for your ads to show on mobile and other devices and networks.
  • Bidding: I advise to keep this as simple as possible and let Google’s time-tested algorithms work for MSUFCU. Focus on clicks, automatic bidding, no CPC bid limit
  • Budget: To stay within the budget given, this should be set at $166 per day. This can be readjusted during the campaign if necessary.
  • Ad Extensions: Again, because of the rise of the mobile phone web-surfing, I recommend adding a Phone Extension to make it easy for potential customers to call.
  • Advanced Settings, Start Date and End Date: Schedule the ads starting today through the end of September.
  • Advanced Settings, Demographic Bidding: Chose the ages and gender (or both) that most fit the target market (and are typical of the majority of your best customers).
  • Keywords: Click on the link that helps you choose your keywords. They are all pre-loaded. Cross-reference these with the keywords and text/intent of the ad and the above Keyword Tool chart.
 
Effectiveness
  • To make your ads as effective as possible, I recommend adding a call-to-action button (Apply Now!) to all of the web pages linked to your ads. For those sites where the button is currently present, I recommend moving your call-to-action button to above-the-fold; meaning on a place on the page that is visible without scrolling when the customer initially sees the page.
  • To maximize effectiveness, I recommend reviewing the campaign daily.  It is difficult to tell as first what ads will perform well and what ads don’t.  By monitoring the ads, MSUFCU will be able to make adjustments to the ads that are under-performing to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Measuring advertising campaign effectiveness is not a perfect science. However, to best measure effectiveness, I recommend the following:
    • Monitoring the performance of the ads using the Google Adwords tools available in your account
    • Adding a feedback mechanism to your online application asking where the applicant last saw or heard about MSUFCU and how they arrived at the site.
    • Training your mortgage processors, the ones that develop relationships directly with the clients, to solicit feedback from applicants about their decision-making process and any prompts (advertising, family & friends) that encouraged them to apply through MSUFCU.
Brief respectfully submitted by: Nicole Finkbeiner

What burning toilet paper and high school teacher reminded me about marketing and pr

We, as marketers and public relations professionals, need to promote our organizations to the best of our ability through traditional advertising, press releases, digital media, etc. But we must never underestimate the power of interactions with employees of our organizations. An advertising campaign may bring someone to your organization, but whether or not you gain a customer, is all about the interactions that customer has with employees.

 A couple of months ago, I was rushing to a local food place at lunch to grab some food before heading back to the office. On the corner of the block right before the food place sits a local high school. When I rounded the curve, I noticed that students were filing out of the high school and heading to the other side of the road.  I stopped at the corner while student after student came filing out which teachers encouraged them to be calm, but move quickly.  And that’s when it dawned on me; they were evacuating the school.   

Burning toilet paperI wasn’t sure what had happened, but  I  assumed from their pace that it was a false alarm or something minor. The next day, I learned from the local paper that it was because some students were burning toilet paper in the bathroom and set-off the alarms. In any case, I had a lot of time just sitting there watching student after student come out. Like watching a cargo train when you are late for a meeting, it seemed like the stream of students would never end.

But at that moment, what my eyes and ears were drawn to more than anything else was a young male teacher interacting with the students.  He was the one assigned to stand in the middle of the road and coax reluctant students across the road. He was energetic, he was encouraging, and he seemed to have respect for each of the students in the line. There was no yelling or even a heightened sense of stress. Instead, all I could hear was “Great job guys. Keep going. You all are doing awesome. We really appreciate you helping us with this. Keep going.” 

Finally, as the last student emerged from the building and started to cross, another teacher came up and said something to the male teacher in the middle of the road. His shoulders dropped with a sigh. I could tell immediately what the news was; they had been given the all-clear. The students needed to come back in.

After a second of frustration, like a wind-up doll that gets rewound, he perked back up and immediately went back to his work with the same energy and optimism as he coaxed the students back in the building.  By now, many of us had been stopped at this intersection for quite a while and some were getting very frustrated.  As the last few students crossed the road, the male teacher, recognizing this, did an amazing thing. He walked a few steps closer in the direction of each car on the intersection, looked each driver in the eye, waved and shouted “thank you!” When it was my turn, I smiled and waved back.  I was late, and frustrated, but that melted away with that simple gesture.

Before that day, if you had asked me what I thought of the instructors at that school, I’m not sure I would have had positive things to say. But after that interaction, I couldn’t stop talking about that young teacher and how he interacted with his students. A smiling teacher in front of a class of students He reminded me of a simple marketing and public relations principle that sometimes gets lost in our quest to utilize new digital media tools and creative expensive advertising campaigns. At that moment of burning toilet paper, a high school teacher was the face and the marketer for the school.  Had he behaved inappropriately in front of all of those cars, it would have been disastrous for the school.  Instead, he behaved in a way that left a long-standing impression on me about the quality of the teachers at the school and the quality of the school in general.

We, as marketers and public relations professionals, need to promote our organizations to the best of our ability through traditional advertising, press releases, digital media, etc. But we must never underestimate the power of interactions with employees of our organizations.  An advertising campaign may bring someone to your organization, but whether or not you gain a customer is all about the interactions that customer has with employees.

So I challenge you to ask yourself: Are the employees at your organization doing a good job being spokespersons for your organization?

4 insane but true things about digital media growth

An area that I see growing currently and think will continue to grow is businesses outsourcing elements of their web presence that were previously done in-house. For example, a large number of college campuses have transitioned over to using Google’s Gmail or another cloud e-mail as their e-mail and web calendar function for employees and students. But it doesn’t just stop there. Businesses are now using blogs instead of newsletters to communicate with employees and customers, social media sites as their main communication medium with customers, public relations sites to send out news releases instead of e-mailing editors directly, etc.

For one of my Michigan State University classes, I was asked to discuss where I think digital media will grow and how it will impact careers in marketing and public relations in the future.  Below is my answer:

An area that I see growing currently and think will continue to grow is businesses outsourcing elements of their web presence that were previously done in-house.  For example, a large number of college campuses have transitioned over to using Google’s Gmail or another cloud e-mail as their e-mail and web calendar function for employees and students. But it doesn’t just stop there. Businesses are now using blogs instead of newsletters to communicate with employees and customers, social media sites as their main communication medium with customers, public relations sites to send out news releases instead of e-mailing editors directly, etc.

Figure shouting by using an RSS feed
Companies are using external media sources vs. their own website to communicate information

One of the ways that I think this trend will most impact businesses is that websites will become less important.  Instead, a company’s blog, social media pages, and external media hosting sites will become more important. This has several implications both for a business and those looking at a future career:

  1. Businesses may no longer need to host their own website. This will free up server space as well as time previously spent by the IT department maintaining the server/back-end portion of the website. This may limit the number of IT jobs, or it just may change them as IT departments focus on other aspects of a business.
  2. Transliteracy skills will become more important.  As mentioned above, content is more important than design. With this in mind, it will become very important that those promoting companies on the web be able to communicate their message across various digital media platforms (podcasting, video, tweeting, etc.)  I would not be surprised if we see the words “transliteracy skills” showing up in job postings and in application materials.
  3. Online reputation management and protection of confidential data will become even hotter topics as businesses struggle with the two-way communication aspects of social media and storing their data on external servers. I can see a whole new market for online protection businesses because of this trend.
  4. Funds previously spent on advertising purchases will begin to fund new positions in public relations and marketing.  Most of the tools that will be used now are free (such as most social media) or low-cost in terms of dollars, but do require a large amount of time and maintenance.  I think companies will begin to shift dollars from advertising towards hiring more staff in their public relations/marketing departments to maintain all of the digital media tools that the company uses.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree?

Title for this blog created by Linkbait Generator

Viral video marketing, Bob Villa Wannabes and Sassy Gay Friends

Clearly, from the above examples, there isn’t one formula that makes a video go viral. “Bob Villa Wannabe” Bob Schmidt and Sassy Gay Friend have two entirely different approaches. However, they do have two key elements to creating a viral video. They both speak to their target audience in a way that appeals to them and they provide something of value; either useful information or just a good laugh. These two elements provide a foundation for a viral marketing video. After that, the rest is finding out what will work best for a target audience, seeking out examples of what other videos have appealed to that audience, and taking the time to create something truly of value.

In August 2009, I bought and moved into my first home. It was an exciting time but also a time where I realized that, although I had helped others with home improvement projects, there were a lot of things I didn’t have a clue about (make that, a lot of things). So, even though there are other people in the house, I decided that wanted to learn how to do things on my own. This meant immediately paying a visit to YouTube.
 
My first search was for how to use dry wall anchors. This brought up a video by Bob Schmidt of Home Remodel Workshop. The video was simple, informative, and provided step-by-step instructors from a guy that I jokingly call the “Bob Villa Wannabe.” And, it worked. I learned very quickly how to do what I wanted to do. But not only that, “Bob Villa Wannabe” is also winning because these videos serve as a viral marketing tool to build his reputation. The video below has over 43,000 views, he has over 9,000 subscribers on his channel, and the comments about the videos he makes are overwhelmingly positive and appreciate. If he lived near me, all of this would make him a top candidate for any major remodeling work I needed done (although he’d probably make me drop the nickname).
Then, just a week or so ago, I was going somewhere with a group of friends and one of them was talking about some relationship problems they were having. Another one of my friends turned toward them and said, “you need a Sassy Gay Friend.” “A what?” I said. Later, when we were back safe in arm’s reach of the iPad, they showed me the below video, and I immediately forwarded it to a friend who was playing in Romeo and Juliet that weekend. The video from The Second City Network, has over 2 million hits, was featured on Perez Hilton’s website, and is obviously becoming a part of language amongst my friends. Warning: there is some adult language in the below clip.
 
So what do a Bob Villa Wannabe and a Sassy Gay Friend have in common? They both have created viral marketing videos that work, but for entirely different reasons. Bob Schmidt’s videos work because they are:
  • Full of valuable content. His videos offer useful information to his clients.
  • Simple. The videos are short, to the point, and mostly, just Bob. The videos have no quality production aspects which make them simple and genuine.
  • Friendly. Schmidt has a very friendly and down-to-earth demeanor.
  • Responsive. He regularly comments on questions and comments people leave on his channel.
  • Free of selling. He doesn’t try to sell anything on his channel or in his videos. This will lead people to trust him and lead to more people watching him, because there is no ulterior motive.
 
In contrast, the Sassy Gay Friend videos are popular because they are:
  • Funny. People enjoy a good laugh and are willing to pass humor along to others. In addition, his videos have a lot of intellectual humor, which makes them unique and appealing to a more astute audience.
  • Unexpected. Viewers are never quite sure what’s going to come out of his mouth next.
  • Boundary-pushing. I would take a shot and guess that most people are at least slightly uncomfortable with some parts of each video.
 
Clearly, from the above examples, there isn’t one formula that makes a video go viral. “Bob Villa Wannabe” Bob Schmidt and Sassy Gay Friend have two entirely different approaches. However, they do have two key elements to creating a viral video. They both speak to their target audience in a way that appeals to them and they provide something of value; either useful information or just a good laugh. These two elements provide a foundation for a viral marketing video. After that, the rest is finding out what will work best for a target audience, seeking out examples of what other videos have appealed to that audience, and taking the time to create something truly of value.

A non-techie, feminine review of the Droid X

I purchased my new Android phone this past Thursday and below is my non-techie, feminine review of the Droid X.

I purchased my new Android phone this past Thursday and below is my non-techie, feminine review of the Droid X.  But before I begin, some quick disclaimers:

  1. As the title of this article suggests, I don’t pretend to be technical nor do I pretend to be an early adopter of technology.
  2.  My last phone was the Palm Treo 755p, so going from that to the Droid X was a pretty significant jump in technology.  I hated my Treo so badly that at one point I wrote the President of Palm a letter (the thing kept erasing my contacts!).  I have to get credit to Palm though, they called me to talk it out.
  3. I really wanted an iPhone.  I love my iPod, but AT & T’s service in Battle Creek is terrible and I got sick of waiting for Verizon to get it, so I went with the Droid X.  
  4.  I haven’t read the manual yet, so some of the issues I have below might be addressed in that.

Now that we got that out of the way:

Price

This is probably the most frequently question I get asked. For $247 and the renewal of my two year contract, I received the Droid X, a case of my choice (about eight to choose from), ear buds, the home charger, the car charger, and three screen protectors. Personally, I felt the price was very reasonable.

Eventually, I will need an extra USB cable for my computer so that I can charge it while at work. 

Look

Size

The first thing I noticed was how huge the screen is. The whole phone is about the size of my hand.  This larger screen size is fantastic for watching videos, zooming into my emails, and looking at photos (the resolution for each of these is excellent), but it is also an adjustment.  For example, I used to clip my Treo on my slacks or skirt at work. It was a little bulky, but ok. With the size of this device, it would look ridiculous to have it clipped to my hip, so it will have to be carried or put in a purse. 

Weight

I disagree with the early reports that the Droid X is heavy.  The weight is comparable to other smart phones.  It’s not uncomfortable at all.

Overall design

I prefer Apple’s sleek design to the Droid X. The Droid X looks less stylish and more like a utility item, but the purple silicone case that I got with the phone makes it more attractive and feminine.

Screen

Screen resolution is excellent.  The screen size is also fantastic (as previously mentioned). 

Wallpaper

I love the living wallpapers!  I chose the Grass theme and love it.  The sun rises and sets on my phone in sync with the time.  It’s very fun and very pretty.

Main utilities

Call clarity

Call clarity is very nice. It’s much better than my Palm Treo.

Battery Life

I haven’t had a huge problem with the battery life. I plug the Droid X in when I get in my car and sometimes while I’m at home.  I usually am at about 80-90% because of this. 

Screens

There are a total of seven screens that I scroll through. The multiple screens are excellent. I like to keep my main screen clean from apps, so I appreciate the fact that I can put the apps I need on a separate screen.

The turning of the screen to portrait or landscape is very accurate and very useful.

Keyboard

The keyboard is easy to use, although it’s still taking some adjustment from the Palm. With the Treo, I used my nail to tap the keys. Now, I need to use my finger. 

Sounds/Ringtones

The ringtones are fine and easy to hear.  However, even for a marketer, the constant branding for Verizon Wireless gets old.  It says “Verizon Wireless” sometimes when I unlock my phone, when I call someone, and when I receive calls. This is very annoying.

My big complaint here is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to designate sounds for when you receive and e-mail or a text.  I would really like to have a different sound for each, or, better yet, be able to silence the notification for the e-mail (keeping the flashing green notification light) and only have a sound for texts. 

Camera

The camera is only shooting at 6mp (I’m guessing I need to up this to get to the full 8mp?) but isn’t the easiest to use.  My friends and I have tried several times to take photos and the camera makes a loud beep but then won’t take the photo.  When that happens, there’s no indication on the screen as to why it won’t take the photo.  However, when it does take a photo, the picture quality is very nice (see below for a picture I took of me).

A photo of me taken with the Droix X

Media player

The media player was probably one of the biggest downsides to getting a Droid X for me because I love my iPod and iTunes and didn’t want to give them up. Luckily, I found an app, iSyncr, which allowed me to load my iTunes playlists (my full library wouldn’t fit) onto the phone. The app directions weren’t perfect so it took me some time to figure it out, but once I did, it was seamless.

The media player works very well.  The sound from the phone is good and it works well with my car stereo system (with a tape/ac adapter).  The media player shows up on your main screen when you are using it and you don’t have to unlock your phone to skip forward in your playlist. However, you DO have to unlock the phone to scroll through your playlist or switch playlists.  This adds an extra step and extra time with your eyes off of the road.

Contact merging

Merging my contacts from Gmail and my other social networking sites is fantastic.  Sometimes it creates multiple entries, but not often. And, if someone has a photo on Facebook or Twitter, it shows up as their photo in your contacts.

Weather updates

The weather update screen that came preloaded on mine can’t pick up my city, or the nearest Metro City to me so this feature is basically useless unless I want to torture myself with cities that have much better weather than mine.

Calendar

The merging of the calendar with Google Calendar is seamless.  I do wish I could figure out a way to change the default settings to create an e-mail and a phone reminder each time I have an appointment though. This gets old very fast.

Another simple, but nice feature of the calendar is that, if you put in your zip code, it displays the weather/weather forecast on the day you are looking at. That has been very helpful for planning trips to the golf course.

Pre-loaded Social Media Outlets

So far, I’ve only messed with the Facebook part of this and wasn’t too happy.  I could only do limited things on it and had trouble pulling up things on it such as photos of friends. I downloaded the app for Facebook, but had similar issues.  I finally resorted to using the browser and logging in that way to see what I wanted to see.

I also tried posting something, but in the midst of trying to figure out how to use the post filtering mechanism (which I still can’t figure out how to do), I posted only the first three letters of what I wanted to post. I tried to go to my profile and delete it, but found out I couldn’t do that from my phone either, so I had to wait until I could get to my computer.

Overall

Overall, I’m very happy with the Droid X and it’s a huge step forward from the Palm Treo 755p I was using.  A lot of the problems listed above I’m sure could be sorted out with a simple look at the manual or a Google search, but the point is, it takes time. With that said, I love the phone and am happy with my purchase. 

If you’ve been around me lately, I’m sure that you were subjected to the “see my phone!” excited speech. And, if you see me soon, you will also probably be subjected to it. If so, bear with me.  It’s not often that a non-techie like me gets the latest toy.