Tag Archives: Social Media

Operation Blackout: Feder Feder Unplugged Is A Go

Well, that day is nearly here, on Sunday I will be getting married. It’s been an interesting road getting to this point. Not quite as many emotions as I would have thought, but as of this morning it is all starting to hit me. I’m excited and anxious.

Earlier in the week I started reconsidering Operation Blackout. I have decided to go forward and unplug for an entire week as I had originally planned.

To make things even easier, I will not have my computer with me during the week. It needs to go in for repair, and I figured what better time to be without it than the week I will be unplugged.

Just to be safe, incase the world ends and I need something, I’ll have an external hard drive with a clone of my computer. This way I can boot off Karen’s computer, you know, if the world ends.

I have purchased Bob Lutz’s new book and fully intend to read that, smoke some cigars, fish, hang on the boat with Karen, and take naps with Otto. Sounds like a terrific week.

Operation Blackout: Feder Feder Unplugged with commence on Monday when Karen and I leave town. I will not touch the Internet until Monday night the 5th. I might even wait until Tuesday morning the 6th, I mean at that point, what’s the difference?

Update On Operation Blackout: Feder Feder Unplugged

Two weeks ago I announced what I dubbed Operation Blackout: Feder Feder Unplugged. Since then, it has been extremely interesting to hear and see peoples reactions. With less than a week until the wedding, and only a week until Operation Blackout commences, I figured an update was necessary.

Many of my friends, and even family, have made comments about how they just don’t think I can do this. While some believe I can do it, most don’t think it will happen. Really feeling the support if you can’t tell.

This past weekend Karen and I were having dinner with my parents. Operation Blackout came up in conversation. After my mother informed me she didn’t think I could do it, she asked for more details. During this discussion I quickly realized that Karen plans to use the Internet, surf Facebook, and post to Twitter. Excuse me? So I’m planning on giving up the Internet and she’s not?

So apparently I misunderstood how this all happened. You see, Karen was asking me not to work during our vacation. She wasn’t asking me to give up the Internet. Talk about miscommunication. Further, when I took it the wrong way and said, “I can totally give up the internet for a week,” well she decided to take advantage of that and let me commit to it…publicly. So here I am, committed to not using the Internet and or posting to my own social media for a week. On one hand I almost feel tricked. She clearly knew I misunderstood the situation and let me continue. I’m pretty sure she just wanted to see me try.

So now I’m at a crossroads. There’s no question, I’m not working on my vacation. But I will admit, it would be nice to post  picture from the lake here and there while on vacation. But according to the rules I set out initially, that is prohibited.

I really want to prove to the world I can go a week without touching the internet. But is it worth it? Is changing who I am and how I live for a week going to make my vacation more enjoyable or less enjoyable? What’s wrong with posting a picture to Facebook while drinking an alcoholic beverage and fishing? What happens if I catch a big fish? Then I can’t share it with all you loyal followers.

This is the situation I’m in. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I definitely am not a quitter. More to come later.

Announcing Operation Blackout: Feder Feder Unplugged

As some of you might know, I am getting married in a mere three weeks from yesterday. I know, I know, I can’t believe she is going through with it either. But from what I’m told, the dress is paid for, so she better not back out now.

Many have asked where we will be going for our honey moon. After a short discussion, we both agreed that leaving Minnesota in August to go somewhere exotic seemed a little bit weird for us. So we decided to head up North to our family cabin and spend a week there alone. We will probably take some vacation to an exotic location during the cold winter months here in Minnesota.

Something that has commonly come up in discussions with pretty much everyone is how will I “disconnect” for a week after my wedding. Can I disconnect for a week? Most people seem to think I can’t. Even my own fiancée thinks I can’t go a week without posting to Twitter, Facebook, and checking in on the auto news.

So today I am publicly announcing/committing what I am dubbing Operation Blackout. From the time we leave Minneapolis on Monday morning August 29, until I leave the cabin on September 5, I will not open my email, look at Twitter or Facebook, or surf the internet. The only thing I will touch the internet for is if we decide to watch Netflix or check local movie times.

Yes, the first two days I may get the shakes. This is after all me going cold turkey with no social media…or internet.

This is happening. It’s necessary….and I’m going to prove to the world I can go a week without the internet.


Happy New Year – Reflecting On 2010

The last year has been a roller coaster for me. Throughout the year there were ups and downs, but one thing stayed consistent – my passion for anything automotive.

When 2010 began, by day I was working as a Social Media Associate at SMCpros, a small social media agency here in Minneapolis. Working on everything from strategy and implementation to Facebook ads, nothing was left out.

At night I spent hours working right here, on my blog Accelerate Mpls working on car reviews, news, and random fails I saw along the way. Heck, Colin Bird and I were even doing a podcast, referred to by many as “The Birdcast.”

Things have changed a lot since then. Colin has gotten a new job at Cars.com and is no longer on the AutoBird Podcast, though we know he’s there in spirit.

In January GM brought me to the Detroit Auto Show as social media press. It was an eye opening experience. The fast paced environment of press days at the auto shows will make your head spin. Being there as social media press was especially interesting. With automakers now embracing social media and new FTC guidelines in place, it signaled a shift in how things are done. Everything is now instantaneous. Things are now live streamed and live tweeted. Real time is hitting the news, and the automotive industry is embracing the trend.

In July I left SMCpros and soon after accepted a position with High Gear Media as their Social Media Manager. There I work with the team on strategy and implementation, along with manufacturer relations. It is my job to help get High Gear Media’s name out in the marketplace.

September brought a very memorable experience. Chevrolet sponsored High Gear Media in the Fireball Run Adventurally. I was one of three members of High Gear Media’s team. In my second month on the job, they shipped me to Henderson, Nevada and shoved me in a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS. I was stuck with Nelson Ireson and Tim Healey for a 9 day, 3,500 mile adventure I’ll never forget. Making life long friends and seeing things I might never see again, it was an adventure to remember.

Upon arriving home from the Fireball Run my (then girlfriend) and I added a new member to the household. His name is Otto and he’s pretty much ridiculously cute. He is a Maltipoo, which is a mix between a Maltese and a Poodle. Otto is now 5 months old and continues to put a smile on our faces.

In November I finally manned up and asked my girlfriend Karen to marry me. She (amazingly enough) said yes! After nearly five years we are now finally engaged. I’m ridiculously lucky to have her in my life.

When I started this blog, it was to be about cars and automotive in general. Though I did mention that some of my non-automotive life would probably spill over into the blog. While I’m not sure how much that has happened, at least I warned you it might.

There is no question that when I began this blog, I was not a terrific writer. Looking back at some of my first posts, I cringe. Over time there is no question that improvement has been made.

There are quite a few people that have helped me with my writing over the past year. Far too many to list here. But I want you to all know, I really appreciate your help.  Even when you wanted to wring my neck, you still helped.

Overall 2010 has been a great year. I had the opportunity to experience some very cool things. While every day wasn’t great, I tried to make the most of each situation.

I look forward to what 2011 brings. From me to you, I wish everyone a healthy and happy new year.

Today’s Deal: $142 for BIR Performance Driving School

Any person that is interested in cars in the great state of Minnesota has heard of BIR.  BIR is Brainerd International Raceway and home of the BIR Performance Driving School.  Now some that are involved in social media have heard of Groupon.  This is essentially a social media (in a form) group coupon service.  Today’s deal? A 50% discount on a professional racing package in your own car!  You will get instruction from an expert driver and a full day of racing your own car around the track.  No restrictions on vehicles, though you must own your own vehicle.  BIR would not want to have to foot the bill if you wreck Uncle Billy’s Porsche.  If you are under 18 you must have parental consent.  Oh and you must wear closed toed shoes (sorry kids no Birkenstocks).  Don’t have the necessary racing gear?  No worries they have you covered with race suites, helmets and anything else you need (included in this price).  I know you are waiting for the price.  This smokin deal will cost you $142.  By the way, if you want to upgrade into one of their Ford race cars you can for $295 for a 25 minute session (you will get 15% off that price).  Alright you have a little over 2 days left to snag this deal so go here to purchase.  Go go go!

Source- Groupon

AutoBird Podcast Episode 12

Episode 12 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included people buying old GM stock, and the social media at NAIAS along with the my take on the major reveals at NAIAS.  We move along to a new segment we are introducing talking about the major news of the week.  This week included-

  • Cadillac CTS Wagon gets a price drop
  • Audi suspending A3 production
  • The Mini Cooper Countryman
  • 2011 Mazda5

We then proceeded to introduce another new segment called clip of the week.  This week we featured the clip of Conan O’Brien using the Bugatti Veyron to get back at NBC.  This was truly a hilarious stunt pulled by Conan.

Last but certaintly not least, we discuss our three main topics.  This week those included the 2011 Buick Regal getting priced, the latest in the string of Toyota recalls, and Honda’s hybrids being behind sales projections.

Download this episode (right click and save)

The Minneapolis Boat Show

Most people do not know it but Minnesota has the highest boat per capita in the United States.  Further then that Minnesota boats have the lowest average hours used on those boats in the United states.  It all stems from us having so much water (i.e. Land of 10,000 Lakes) which leads many people either to have a cabin up north or just enjoy time out on a lake somewhere during the summer months.  The reason we have the lowest average hours on those boats is simple, we have a short summer.  Since we have so many boats/boaters the Minneapolis Boat Show is one of the best places for boat sales men to meet quotas.  Many of the sales people on the floor at the show actually told me that this show is where they sell the most boats out of the entire year.

When I started this blog I said I would write about anything with a spark plug.  The first comment I got back was, well diesel engines do not have spark plugs.  To that I say touché.  I also say boats have engines, some of them massive, and those engines have spark plugs so here goes.

I ran into Cydney at the show!

There were many vendors as well as boats at the show.  The state of our economy was evident a the show most noticeably some prominent OEM manufactures were absent due to bankruptcy filings.  These included Crestliner, Lund, Glastron, and many more.  One of the first things that struck me as I was walking the show floor is the jet skis.  When I was a kid jet skis were quickly becoming popular.  Years ago they were  truly personal water craft.  Sure some said they fit three but that was in a pinch.  Now these things are literally huge!  If you saw a jet ski from 15 years ago next to a brand new one you would be shocked at how much they have grown in mass.  Along with the mass is the engine.  The average jet ski in 1995 would top out around 45-50 mph.  That was fast enough for a recreational small water craft.  Now if you buy a jet ski they can top out at over 80-90 mph!!  I ride jet skis during the summer and know exactly what people do when on them including full throttle 360’s.  I do not know if doing a 360 at 80 mph would be considered safe.  I can throw myself off a jet ski doing a 360 at full throttle as it is, now if I was going twice as fast, I could imagine a trip to the emergency room or worse.  I can see on open water why going fast in a straight line would be useful, but I know what many people do on jet skis and this could get dangerous!

Blown Small Block V8

Like cars many people buy old boats and restore them.  One company in particular that stood out to me was Shipwreck Boat Repair.  They had a 1990 Donzi Classic 18 on display that had been fully restored.  With a small block V8 that had been completely redone including a pro charger supercharger.  This engine had already been hooked up to a dyno and is putting out 575 hp with 11 lbs of boost after all modifications and restoration.  A mere four months and now the boat is gorgeous and looks like new.  With a great white on blue color scheme the boat is terrific looking.  The total bill came to $30,000 for the restore including the engine.  While some of you may think that is a ton of cash on a boat, you do not even want to know what a new Donzi would cost.

1990 Donzi Classic 18

Many thanks to Cydney Wuerffel for taking the video.

The show had more then just boats and jet skis.  Two huge tanks of water were set up with ramps in between them.  This was used for wake board shows.  Top professionals were on hand doing multiple shows for crowds.  Using a machine to tow them through the first tank they would launch off the ramps doing flips, twits, and much more only to land in the second tank.  It was a very cool extra to have at the show.

The Screen in between the Tachometer and Speedometer has the Video Camera Feed

The biggest trend I saw at the show was technology.  Many manufactures seemed to be working hard to incorporate technology into their boats in any way possible.  I saw one ski boat that had a small camera in the wakeboard/ski rope tower at the top.  The camera relayed a feed straight to the center console between the tachometer and the speedometer.  This allows the driver to see what is going on behind the boat.  I can only assume this video can also be recorded and taken off the boat for use on a computer.  Another use of technology was having the same screen in the same spot on other boats but without the camera.  The screen would be used for GPS navigation or radio functions.  As a tech guy I love the idea that these manufactures are trying new ways to incorporate technology into the boating experience.  The camera idea, just pure genius.  What an easy way to video tape yourself or a buddy water skiing or wake boarding.

The last thing I wanted to note was the marketing of the show.  This year the Minneapolis Boat Show struck a personal cord with me.  They embraced social media.  I saw someone retweet them and instantly started following the account.  Upon digging further I saw they had a Facebook fan page.  When I walked into the show the first thing I was greeted with was a sign proclaiming that the Minneapolis Boat Show was on Twitter and has a Facebook fan page.  This to me is great.  Showing that they are trying to embrace new ways to not only market but to engage with the consumer.

The show overall had many people in attendance.  I saw everyone from young couples to families.  At about the price of a movie ticket, the boat show was a great way for people to get out and do something different.

Social Media and NAIAS

It is widely known that General Motors paid for my travel and accommodations for the Detroit Auto Show.  In fact they even asked me in writing to disclose it on anything I write about the show.  This was part of the new full disclosure rules the FTC has imposed on all bloggers beginning at the end of last year.  General Motors was quick to mention that by them paying for my travel and accommodations I was in no way obligated to write about them or anything for that matter.

I was one of over 10 bloggers brought to NAIAS as press by General Motors.  Most manufactures bring certain people but General Motors put a specific emphasis on bringing social media people.  Both General Motors and Ford have been the “poster child” automotive companies in the social media industry.  Sure Honda made a “splash” when they did the striptease of the Crosstour on Facebook.  Most would have called that a colossal failure when the burn it with fire comments started pouring in.  As I mentioned Ford and General Motors in general are really using social media though they are taking vastly different stances with it.  General Motors does have it’s social media team on Twitter but really it is the brands and products that have accounts.

It was very interesting to witness how the “traditional media” reacted to all the social media people being around.  I am fairly certain the game is changing and they are not exactly happy about it.  Traditional media people have yet to figure out how to play nicely with social media types.  The funniest part is many of the traditional media will write their information once back at work yet the article and or pictures will not be published for days/weeks/possibly a month.  Yet they must get that picture before me or anyone else there for social media.  Social media buffs are publishing this stuff live on the spot using our phones and laptops.  We are connected (when we have signal) and are reporting live and on site.

That leads to another issue that has cropped up with the use of social media at an event such as NAIAS.  Live and on sight I was reporting the information as it was literally being spoken.  People on Twitter following me were getting the information as I received it including pictures.  The challenge was that the ten other people sitting around me are tweeting the information out at the same time.  How do I differentiate myself from these other people.  Sure we all took different pictures and different angles, but the information, specifications, general information, is all the same.  Social media types run in similar circles, many people that follow me also follow the people I was with.  Realizing this early on I had to differentiate myself on Twitter while I was there.  I could report what others were sure, but I had to have something else.   I realized how lucky I was to have been afforded this opportunity.  I decided I would try and make it so others that were not there could get whatever they would want.  I tweeted numerous times asking what people wanted to see.  When requests came in I obliged and took the corresponding photos.  Some other blogs actually asked me privately to take photos for them and I did.  Many people asked me to take a look at certain things and report back which of course I did.  Then something else happened.  General Motors set us all up with small round table sessions with some of the executives.  I instantly saw an opportunity and tweeted out who I would be meeting with and when.  I told my followers that if they had any questions for these people to let me know, and I would be happy to ask.  I took video of all the round table sessions and have already up loaded this.  Of course I asked the questions that came in off Twitter.

Fiat Twins

On Monday evening I realized that many pictures I had taken included the models posing with the cars.  I decided to tweet out a bunch of the photos and hash tag them with the keyword #EyeCandy.  This quickly turned into a “series” and people loved it.  The last thing I decided to do was simple.  There were plenty of models posing with cars and at the Fiat stand they had two girls to go along with the two 500’s.  On the second day the two girls in the morning appeared to be twins.  When I over heard someone saying they were I tweeted this.  Soon I heard Jalopnik saying they were not in fact twins.  Seeing that my eye candy series had been such a hit I decided to go and put an end to this debate.  I walked up to the “twins” and simply said there was talk about whether they were in fact twins and asked if they were.  They immediately said they were and I tweeted “BREAKING- The Fiat twins are in fact twins!”  Of course this tweet started a whole new discussion.  I also happened to learn that the twins live in Minneapolis about 15 minutes from where I live.  After having a conversation I left them to continue modeling and went back to the business of walking the show.  All of this gave me personality.  It was something different then just reporting the specifications/information about the cars.  When I got into the Lotus Evora I tweeted about how it felt like a glove when sitting in it.

The Ford area was one of the best consumer booths of the show.  They have everything from interactive computer simulations to transmissions torn apart, just about anything.  The booth itself is utterly huge.  Ford also had some customized Fiesta’s strewn about so people could get an idea about the level of customization these cars will have.

It is clear to me that social media is making an impact both in how manufactures are advertising and how they are handling themselves at autoshows.  It says something to me that the two auto manufactures most involved in social media are Ford and General Motors.  The point of all this is embracing new ways to communicate is something that forward thinking companies are doing and we should all take note.

Phil Colley, Nicole Carriere, Me, Chris Barger (from left to right)

Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations were provided by General Motors