marakame musings.


A perfect storm: Hurricane Jova, Twitter and The Lobby 2011 conference in Punta Mita

October 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Blog | No comment


A fascinating thing happened last week that involved technology, Twitter and tourism that marakáme was pretty excited to be a part of. The wind that propelled this perfect storm was a pretty fierce one–hurricane Jova, and its impending visit to our area.

By Monday, it seemed that everyone in the region was alert to the news that there were not one, but two hurricanes headed right towards the Puerto Vallarta/Punta Mita area. People were boarding or taping windows, clearing off terraces and balconies and stocking up on bottled water and canned foods, flashlights. The exchange of information on Facebook was impressive. As one friend, Maria O’Conner remarked, “How did we ever have a hurricane before Facebook?!”

One of marakáme’s projects is our own popular website,, a lively destination portal of news, events and fun photos to promote our home community. Social media – Facebook & Twitter especially– are an important part of the package, and regularly drive 40% of the website’s traffic.

On Tuesday, I was monitoring the various Twitter feeds of our clients (I use hootsuite – excellent for keeping an eye on multiple accounts or topics of interest). There were some very interesting references to the LivePuntaMita site…and when I started checking the bios of the tweeps mentioning it, what I found were some of the tech industry’s brightest stars. Starting with Michael Arrington, the famed tech blogger who started Tech Crunch, and on to a host of others, all were either in Punta Mita or on their way – due to arrive in the coming days to attend a conference called The Lobby 2011. The attendees included tech titans, luminaries of startups, social and venture capital. I follow this space regularly, devotedly, passionately — and I’d never heard of this event.

After doing a bit of research, it turns out the annual Lobby Conference is an underground tradition, generally held each year in Hawaii. The premise is that the best stuff that comes out of conferences are the conversations and connections that occur in the Lobby, as well as the pool or the bar, so why not create a networking event that dispenses with the talks and other formalities, and simply provides the venue and people to do just that. It’s invitation only, and attendees are prohibited from writing or discussing much about it.

Here’s a Tech Crunch blog post written by Arrington in 2007, that illuminates the premise a bit more…

Last year, Brian Solis published an official conference description:

Why do you attend conferences? Is it to learn about industry trends or hear keynote speakers or watch powerpoint presentations? Or do you attend conferences to spend time in the lobby? In a great conference, the conversation in the lobby is the content. The Lobby aims to turn the traditional conference on its head. There will be no panels, no keynotes, no distractions from the real task at hand – engaging in meaningful conversation and building deeper relationships with other thought-leaders in the new media universe. For two and a half days, the individuals driving innovation and strategic development throughout the online media world will gather for an extended conversation.

It turns out that Lobby 2011 was taking place at Four Season Resort Punta Mita, October 12-14, and hurricane Jova was threatening to disrupt (to use a favored tech term) the whole deal.

On Monday, we had started a running commentary on LivePuntaMita to track the storm – and were providing continual updates. On the site, and our Facebook page, we posted photos to show the reality of the weather (no rain, calm skies), to keep out of town residents and travelers apprised of the actual situation, as opposed to CNN-style dramatized version.

Originally, we were all pretty anxious about what looked to be a hurricane heading directly toward us. But little by little the storm slowed, shifted and looked to track both south and east. It seemed we could avoid any major impact.


Back to the Twitter stream. Seems the tech travelers to #lobby11 had discovered the LivePuntaMita website and were following it -and sharing it. We started communicating back, and posting all updates on Twitter with the conference hashtag, so they could easily track the news. We were told by the attendees (and family) that the level of comfort we provided through our honest, accurate and detailed reporting of the storm position and tracking helped many make the decision to continue with their travel plans. We were even in direct communication with a few of the carrying airlines, such as Alaska, to confirm scheduled departures on Wednesday, the day the storm was due to hit.

In the end, most attendees arrived as planned, or maybe a day late. Those who did make it in early confirmed what was on the LPM site and took to posting pictures of the glorious Punta Mita sunset on Tuesday evening.

In the end the storm was a non-event – some rain, some wind, no storm surge. We were blessed. And the technorati continued on with Lobby 2011. I enjoyed reading the names on the guest list and the companies they represented. I enjoyed their tweets, which seemed to reflect a successful meet up, and good time. A number of lovely photos were posted, many taken from a setting I easily recognized — the Lobby of the Punta Mita Four Seasons. Fitting.

I like to think that marakáme had a hand in ensuring Lobby 2011 carried on as planned. It was a great, influential group to have visit Punta Mita. And who knows what deals, innovations or inspirations will result from the conversations had here?

One never knows what being social can lead to. In this case, it was a perfect storm.



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A Tribute to Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Blog | 1 comment


Steve Jobs died yesterday.

The news, while expected, still had the impact of shock, and throughout the social-sphere and in the news the tributes poured out…fueled again and again by the sentiment that Steve Jobs had made an impact on their lives in a unique and important way. At one point Twitter buckled under the weight of all of the messages, something the New York Times called the technological equivalent of a 21-gun salute.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge, loyal Apple fan, and have been for years. Even through the “bad years”. Our company uses exclusively Apple products, and the spirit of Apple innovation – and dedication to excellence – inspires us every day.

In the early incarnation of our company, we had a big, open-to-the-elements space on Matamoros street, overlooking downtown Vallarta and the Bay. People who visited invariably asked how we could manage all the computer equipment in an open-air, dusty, non air-conditioned environment such as what we had. I’d always respond, “no problem – its Apple.”

In recent years, whenever there has been an Apple presentation, we have hooked into a live stream or blog and watched Steve Jobs present…the future. On the day of the iPad announcement, I was so certain of the importance of the rumored tablet computer that we watched Steve unveil it on a rouge live feed with beers and popcorn. I knew I was seeing something that would – once again – change how we experience the world.

I met Steve Jobs, once. It was somewhere in late 1986, and I was working for Merrill Lynch in Princeton, in the Business Financial Services division. These were the times before Internet video streaming, and Merrill had a closed circuit TV station to broadcast to its offices. We were doing a special series on innovation, and we were featuring NeXT, and Jobs (it was before the products had been released…a sneak peak at what would be coming). There were others in that series, but I only remember Jobs. In 1985 he had been famously fired from the company he created, and on Wall Street it was a very public smack-down. Punishment for not pleasing the shareholders. In hindsight we can see it was a very poor choice of short term profits over long term vision.

Steve was intense, focused, confident. Not arrogant. To watch him up close, to hear him talking about coming back from this very public failure, was one of the more formative lessons of my business life. Most important though was that – despite the obvious personal pain this experience had caused – he had moved ahead to what was NeXT, literally. His passion, his excitement was tangible. It was so very obvious that Steve Jobs absolutely loved what he did. I will always remember the complete intensity of his eyes. From my place in the Wall Street world I had rarely seen such enthusiasm, and it had an impact on me. It wasn’t too long after that when I made the decision to leave Merrill Lynch and follow a completely uncertain path in my life, which eventually led me to Mexico and to where I am today. I only knew that I wanted to create something, not just profit off of the creations of others. For me, that encounter was a “dot” in my life.

So many millions have their personal stories about how their lives have been inspired, impacted, made easier or more fun by the visionary products of Apple under the leadership of Steve Jobs. And although today marks the beginning of a new era, I believe we are just about to experience “one more thing”…

iCloud. This will be another game changer, and it seems no one is giving it the attention it deserves. Too many people are writing off Tuesday’s presentation and the fact that it was “only” the iPhone 4S and their disappointment it wasn’t iPhone 5. Get over it, and look at the real news. Just as iTunes changed the music industry, iCloud will change personal computing. We are about to become truly untethered. It’s the first step on an eventual path. Not even the first step, because others – such as Amazon – already have impressive cloud storage services available, but they haven’t been fully understood or appreciated. Or, made easy to use.

The October 12 release of the iOS 5 operating system and iCloud will mark a new phenomena. All iOs devices (meaning your iPhone, iPad, laptop, etc) can now automatically, wireless sync, updating information between devices, and storing that information in “the cloud” -meaning it will be available to you anytime, anywhere.

If you haven’t made the time to do so yet, check it out. The way I see it, it is one last gift given to us by Steve Jobs, and the one that perfectly ties together all of the others into a beautiful bundle that enables us to be more creative, productive, entertained and inspired. We haven’t seen the beauty of this yet, because we don’t know how much we really need it…want it.

For me, I plan to honor the memory of Steve Jobs by making my mantra from this day forward be: Think Different.

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

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You, and your social identity: muliple personalities and easy friendships

September 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Blog | No comment


Let’s admit it. We are different people on different social sites. Your Facebook “personality” is likely to be a bit more colorful than the one you share on LinkedIn. Your Twitter self is probably more concise and efficient than your blogging self, or than what you share on Facebook.  We are different personalities to different communities and to different subsets within those communities. Is this bad?

When it comes to social sharing, do you suffer from Mutiple Personality Dis-order?

I do, and I think this is not bad — in fact, that is life. In life, you interact differently with your boss or client than you do with your kids. Or your BFF. In life you adjust your personality to fit the situation and the other person, and that’s simply known as good manners.

Your business self can mirror your real you, but generally it does not, at least not 100% of the time. Come to think of it, except in rare occasions, it is probably a much healthier thing that they should not coexist all of the time.

And what about the number of friendships? I am often unnerved by the fact that I have over 400 “friends” on Facebook, hard as I try to keep that number down to 50. I feel too “easy” having so many social friends. Especially when I know myself to be the type of person who prefers very few, but very close real-life friendships. Again, here is a social “personality” that is not an accurate reflection of the real me. But with social media being a growing activity of marakame marketing, frankly, being social is my business.

Facebook has just made some changes to their site, which allow you to “subscribe” to be able to read a person’s posts without becoming their “friend”. I applaud this change.  Facebook is recognizing that these emerging and evolving social relationships need further refining. Although “lists” have long been possible on Facebook to make separations in your audience, I frankly found it to be too much trouble.

The postings of certain individuals are especially illuminating, interesting or entertaining, and I want to read them. Previously, the only way was to be their friend. But did they, in exchange, really want to read about me? The new subscription option helps filter the feed — if you can shift some “friends” into “subscribers” imagine how much more pertinent your own news feed could be? As well, you can select if you want to be informed of only major life events, or the day-to-day detail.

As social networks blossom and grow in their day-to-day use, expect further refinements. These will no doubt make it easier to manage your multiple personalities. And that, also, is a good thing.

Additional reading:

In support of multiple “social” personalities, from the New York Times.

Facebook blog post, explaining the new Subscribe feature.

TechCrunch explains Facebook Subscribe.

How to add the Subscribe feature to your Facebook page.





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You, and your Social Identity: Selective Sharing

September 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Blog | No comment


I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about social identity this week. You know, the “you” you put out there on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, and wherever else you share.

Last week, a friend developed an alternate Facebook identity because she had an issue where she felt her personal information was being shared with someone she wanted to keep her distance from. So she now has a fresh new Facebook persona. How liberating to be any name, anyone you want to be… The whole Arab Spring showed the need to be able to alter your identity when being transparent could put you at grave risk. Of course for most of us, the assumption is that we are (pretty accurately), what we post.

Social media identity was also in the news last week. During a Q & A at the Edinburgh TV festival with Andy Carvin, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt let it slip that the reason Google+ is insistent upon the use of real identities because it plans to link that collective information back to new product development, marketing and—no doubt—sales.

What he actually said was that Google + was built primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products to leverage that information. To my marketing mind, this is brilliant, exciting, and a bit scary.

But the thing is, we may not always be what we share. Are you 100% honest with all that you share — or should I say, 100% unbiased in sharing the good and bad? The positive and not so? Are you guilty of “selective sharing”? Company cash flow challenges vs. signing new business? The breakdown of your car that leaves you stranded vs. connecting up with an old friend? A day lying on the couch watching bad TV vs. a day of mountain biking, paddle surfing or volunteering at the animal shelter (or, all three)? I am absolutely guilty of selective sharing. (Aside: does the whole idea of social sharing ever motivate you to get off that couch?)

I found myself pondering how accurate can targeted social marketing be, if we are not as we share?

This is a concept I am fascinated with. At marakame marketing we are big believers in targeted social marketing and believe it has pretty thoroughly upended traditional marketing. It enables a business to precisely promote itself to communities of users who are generally interested in the message, as well as facilitate a back-and-forth dialog between the business and its clients. We work to build authentic relationships based on real, common interests, so it would be very helpful to know how accurate the interests tied to an identity really are. As well, we strive for quality of relationships over quantity. As in real life, we just feel that’s a much better way to grow a business for the long term.


Next up: Part 2 of You, and your Social Identity: Multiple personalities

Some additional reading on social identity:

Fred Wilson (A VC ) on Google+, Facebook and Identity

Evan Williams, Five Easy Pieces of Online Identity


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Automation vs. Authenticity

August 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Blog | 1 comment


As our online lives grow, and the demands of keeping up with social networking take more and more time out of already busy days, there is a natural tendency to look to automate certain tasks. It may be as simple as scheduling certain times-and limiting those times- to check and respond to facebook, Twitter, Google+, or whatever network or social app works for you.  There are also increasingly sophisticated tools that can help.

Hootsuite is one we have been working with at marakame, and it is a real time saver. You can manage and monitor multiple accounts or multiple social streams from one dashboard, and you can write out and schedule posts for future updates. This tool also allows multiple people to have access to the same dashboard. Pre-writing and scheduling your posts, gives you regular activity in the social stream, even if other commitments preclude you from actually being active. Pre-written posts also allow you to take advantage of peak usage or visibility times on these networks, in order to gain maximum exposure. And, it allows you to craft the content of your messages. This last point can be especially important for using social media for a company or business.

I, for one, tend to check in on facebook early in the morning, say, around 6am, but I know it’s likely not many others are active at that time. When most activity occurs, midday, I am generally occupied with other work, so often I miss checking in then. Tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck can serve up my contributions to the social stream at a time when they are more likely to be seen.

But this has got me thinking lately about automation vs. authenticity.

Where it is truly helpful to utilize tools that give you greater efficiency, there’s a fine line in automating out your authentic voice, or worse, making you simply a one-way conduit of information. What I believe is among the biggest game-changers about social marketing is the fact that it enables–no, encourages–interaction and engagement. It is a two-way, or group conversation, that’s the beauty of it. When you share something, whether a thought, a news article, a photo or an activity, you invite interaction. You are starting a conversation. Automate too much, and you risk loosing your authenticity.

If everyone used scheduled posts or automated messages, the “social”would disappear from the network.

Automation eliminates-or at least postpones- interaction. Your contributions are hitting the social stream regularly, but you’re not there. When you automate, the focus becomes more about what you are saying, or in making sure you are “talking” rather than listening to others. And just like life, this doesn’t work too well, for too long.

It is no surprise that those with the most success in social media are those with the most authentic voices, and those who truly do show up to the party.


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marakame participates in “Emprende TU Mexico” conference

May 28, 2011 at 12:40 am | Blog | No comment


Lynne Bairstow, CEO of marakáme, will be a panelist in the event “Emprende TU Mexico” (“Innovate YOUR Mexico”), taking place in Punta Mita on Saturday, May 28.

Organized by Emprende Tu México and co-organized by Mexico’s Ministry of Finance, this event will bring some of the top players in social media and emerging technologies together to discuss solutions and best practices as they may be applied in Mexico via a series of panel discussions.

Mexico’s Secretary of Finance, Ernesto Cordero will personally host some of the panel discussions. This summit will specifically focus on uses/cases in Mexico in order to shape Mexican policy and raise awareness for the use of these tools for accountability/democracy.

The Panel Discussions will include:

  • Innovation and the use of technology as tools for development.
  • Innovation/Technology and Financial Inclusion.
  • Panel with venture capital firms/investors: Entrepreneurship, innovation and access to capital.
  • Designing the Future: Secretary Cordero and Jon Rubenstein.
  • Digital Solutions for Mexico-Using Tech and Social Media.

The event will be streamed live, via Internet, with companion feeds for Twitter and Facebook posts.

The Details:

Emprende TU México / (Innovate YOUR Mexico)

Saturday, May 28 · 10:00am – 6:30pm

St. Regis Resort Punta Mita


Twitter: @EmprendeTuMxico

Event email:





–      JON RUBENSTEIN(CEO of Palm and Senior Vice President Global Business Unit, HP and lead inventor of the Ipod)

–      KAREN RICHARDSON - (Silverlake Venture Capital and Former Chairwoman of the Board of Hi5 and former CEO of E-piphany)

–      JERRY KERN(President, Kern Consulting, Senior Advisor at Nomura Holdings. Former CEO of Playboy, On Command, Director at Liberty Media and TCI/AT&T, Móvil México)

–      GEORGE P. BUSH – (Barbara Bush Foundation for Literacy)

–      NIM PATEL – (President Mobile Accord/MGive)

–      IZZY ABBASS – (Móvil México)

–      TOM SERRES – (Founder & CEO, Pyrix)

–      LYNN HOFFMAN – (Director of Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc, and Private Investor)

–      LYNNE BAIRSTOW – (President, Marakáme Marketing, Former Vice President, Merrill Lynch)

–      MEAT LOAF – (Celebrity Guest Panelist)

–      GREG LEMOND(3-time Tour de France Winner)

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