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Preview: The Nizzer 2.0 Blog

The Nizzer's Blog

The Official site of Brian Nizinsky

Updated: 2018-03-07T15:42:13.236-05:00


How to handle the hard conversations at work


There is a time when you are managing people that you have to sit down, look them in the eye and say something they don't want to hear.  It is the hardest part of management, knowing that what you are about to say may not be received well. Usually this is around a topic or situation that needs to be addressed and its not comfortable to address it.So how do you overcome this and give both of you the best chance of success with whatever the issue is?First is to make sure you have clearly defined the issue at hand.  Spend time defining the problem with as much factual data as possible.  If its all anecdote then write it down and work out the details.  When you present an issue to a person they will most likely challenge you on it in some way.  Having the data to back you up is critical to the conversation.  If statements are vague then the problem feels vague and the person will just put up walls of defense and stop listening.Second is to understand what you want the outcome of the conversation needs to be.  Are you looking to change a specific behavior?  Is the goal bigger than that? Always tie some element of data to the ask.  That way if the person isn't clear on the "why" at least they can understand the "how."  Having a data point that both of you can reference also takes out some of the emotion of the conversation.  It's impossible to manage people without emotions, especially when there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but if there are mutually agreed upon points that both of you can reference it makes progress more likely.Finally when reviewing the results with a person make sure to highlight the positives.  People want to be acknowledged for progress.  When talking about something that is continuing to be an issue even after having that difficult conversation you need to figure out what the real root cause of the problem is at that point.  Assuming they understood the measure that they would be help up to why didn't they achieve it?Take all factors into consideration when trying to change a behavior of someone you manage.  Be open and watch their body language.  Go off your script if you need to, your employee will appreciate it.[...]



He was the first person I can remember that really fascinated me. I didn't just laugh at his jokes, I watched with amazement the energy that he had. The speed of his comedy. The layers of thought that went into some of the things he said. It was like watching a human machine gun firing bullets into the audience. How could someone think that fast?  How could they take just one thought and turn it into something so big and funny?Before Youtube I would hope to catch even the shortest clips of his standup. We didn't have HBO so I could not watch him uncensored but I remember the late show appearances and the Comic Relief shows I would rent. I always thought that no other comedian could do stand up like that, that his talent was unique. Later in life when he started staring in more dramatic roles I remember I had my doubts. I mean here was this guy that would run around a set screaming at 200mph about Jews or poop and doing these crazy impressions. How would anyone believe him when he calmed down and actually acted?  I think it was The Fisher King that did it for me. The pain in his eyes in that movie, it went right into me. In retrospect, sadly he must have identified with that character more that we ever understood. His face and voice have felt like family to me for so long now. He was such a part of every phase of my life and I feel like I will miss him even though we never actually met. Well maybe we did meet, he gave me a little piece of him with every performance.Goodbye Robin[...]

5 Challenges that B2B Marketers face and how to overcome them


In a recent post over at the Content Marketing Institute, they summed up a study of small business B2B marketers use of content marketing in 2014.

There are a bunch of charts but I wanted to focus in one only one of them here:


I will tackle the top 5 and offer up some solutions:
  1. Lack of Time - I think I can use this as the reason for any challenge I have at work.  When I hear this response I start to dive into the whole "being productive" vs "being busy" issues.  When I am being productive I can attribute a completed task to a larger project that has a direct correlation to revenue.  If I am being busy then its harder to do that, if not impossible.  So I would say you don't need more time, you need to look at what you are already doing and determine if its important enough to continue.
  2. Producing Enough Content - enough for what?  If I get one whitepaper done and it generates enough leads and revenue to hit my target then have I produced "enough" content?  I would take the approach of matching content needs to the steps of your buyers process.  I usually see this issue related to blogging (btw this is the hardest form of content marketing there is!).  If you are thinking about creating a blog with daily posts then you need to have passionate writers in your organization.  A corporate blog will die within one month without this.
  3. Producing the Kind of Content that Engages - Now we are getting somewhere.  This should be the number one challenge.  To do this you need to have a few good sources within your company that really know your customers.  Preferably even some customers themselves.  Then from their pain points you can start to develop content.  I am not saying it will be 100% effective but it will at least come from a place where you know your customer already needs something.  Learn from your mistakes but make sure you make a few.
  4. Producing a Variety of Content - I agree that the same content type could get repetitive but I want to fall back to the concept of engaging content as being the key issue.  If your audience is busy and like to download and print out whitepapers and read them over a lunch break at work then keep producing them.  Sometimes the new flashy thing isn't the answer.  Also dip your toe in the water with a new content type first before investing in it.  You may love to watch videos but that doesn't mean your audience does (or can).
  5. Lack of Budget - Sorry folks but this is a poor excuse.  If you have a Subject Matter Expert(SME) under payroll then its your job to translate that knowledge into a digital format so your customers can consume and/or interact with it.  Is your SME a crappy writer?  Then put them in front of a camera. Not comfortable on video?  Do a webinar.  Find a way to get that knowledge out there to generate leads and interest from your target audience.
What have your challenges been?  How have you overcome them or have you at all?

If you can do only one thing in digital marketing, do this


I get asked all the time what are the most critical things a marketing manager needs to do first when thinking about digital marketing. If I can sum it up in one sentence it would be:

Find a way to map your customers interaction with your company from beginning to end.

Now for some definitions:
  • Map - everyone leaves a digital trail and it will be your job to find it. A good map uses practical understanding to explain important visual points.  You need to figure out how to measure as much as you can, from any angle. Your measurements are your map.  For example, how many people are calling your company from your website?  A simple solution is to create a unique phone number to track this. The best solution is to have all those calls automatically feed into a CRM solution for ultimate tracking. 
  • Customers - these are the people you know and the ones you need to get to know. I categorize them as anyone who takes both explicit and implicit actions with your company/brand.
  • Company - why do you need a definition of this?  Sometimes people think their company only consists of the places (both digital and in meat space) that they have defined. Today its a different story, your company consists of Rick from Accounting who lists his place of employment on his Twitter bio then goes out and mocks a customers rant. That's part of the deal, like it or not. 
  • Beginning to end - this is also referred to as the funnel. Each business has its details on this but generally you need to be able to figure out your customers journey so you can track it along the way. Remember that tracking isn't controlling, it's just understanding your customer and how they decide to buy from you. 
So why do I consider this the most important thing to take care of with digital marketing?  It's simple, if you cannot create metrics around your customer journey, then you will never know if you are having an effect on it.

Want to run a Google AdWords campaign to get more leads?  Great, but can you map that all they way to revenue?

Are you in need of better conversion rates on a landing page?  Then make sure you know how many people get there and how many people fill out that form.

You get the idea.  This is the most fundamental piece of digital marketing that I can think of. Without it all the other bells and whistles won't make a measurable difference.

What to say when being interviewed by an Online Marketing Manager


Interviewing for a job is fun isn't it?  Who doesn't love those long silent moments after having talked for hours about yourself when you want to just stand up and scream "I can do this job can't you people see that??"

So what if one of the people who is interviewing you is in charge of Online/Digital Marketing?  What do they want to hear from prospective candidates who want to join that team?  Here are my top 4 things to make sure you say in that interview:

  1. Online/Digital Marketing is central, and you get that - Some may disagree with this but I have a news flash for you - no matter what market you are in digital marketing should be the core of all your marketing strategy, oh and its 2013 not 1982 so get over it.  Tell them you understand the importance of all digital channels in the marketing mix, even if you are not an expert in any of them specifically.
  2. Metrics, Numbers, ROI - If it can't be measured its not business.  Talk about always ensuring a ROI on activities.  An Online Marketing Managers life is numbers and spreadsheets so if you sound ambivalent about tracking numbers then they will think you don't get modern marketing techniques.
  3. Content is king - this one depends on the type of position you are interviewing for but in general most people responsible for online activities are always hungry for great content.  It could be for the website, a campaign or social media.  Show that you are willing to be their ally in the fight to create great content.
  4. Flexibility - the online landscape is always changing.  You may have 10 years experience, but if the target audience wants more video content and you don't even know how to keep your thumb out of a picture of your kids make sure you are ready to learn new things.  Oh and here is a bonus tip: Learn more about Video, it grows in importance daily...
What kind of experiences have you had?

The Social CEO - an infographic


Should a busy CEO use social media like Twitter or LinkedIn?  What would it get them?  I mean aren't they busy running a company or something?

Below I embed an intersting infographic from the folks over at that talks about a study of users perceptions of social CEO's.  It seems to caste them in a more positive light on the CEO's that are active in social media.  As time goes on and more CEO's start "getting it" this notion will be as quaint as not have an e-mail account.


What would you look for in a class on Social Media?


What kind of class would you want to attend among these choices?
  1. Social Media for Small Business 101 - how to start, sustain and succeed using Social Media for your small business.
  2. Content Marketing for everyone - learn what content marketing is and how to make it work for your company.
  3. What the hell is a hashtag? and all of your other uncomfortable social media questions answered.
I am thinking about what kind of class I want to teach at this very cool new venue in Rochester call the Rochester Brainery.  There are a bunch of directions I want to go in but I need to make sure it scales to an hour to hour and a half class and that people get some real value out of it.

What would you look for in a class on Social Media?

I am leaving Kodak


After 6 years I am leaving Kodak. This move wasn't forced on me like it's been on others in the past few years, it was 100% my decision. I was generally happy with my co-workers and my role, so why did I decide to leave?

When I first started at Kodak I had a pretty narrow set of responsibilities. Over time I started taking on more and more things and doing them well. I pushed the boundaries of what my "job description" was and soon found myself at the center of almost all projects related to the web. It was a good place to be, owning something important while having a respected opinion on future projects.

Then January 19th hit with the announcement that Kodak was filing for bankruptcy. I had never worked for a company in Chapter 11 before, and knew no one else who had. This made things tough, trying to work through the uncertainty of what was going to happen and when. I had a casual eye open to job postings but now I felt like I needed to ramp up my search.

On the one hand I liked where the company was finally going, focusing on the Commercial side of the business and shedding the consumer side. On the other hand there still seemed to be an uncertainty on what exactly that meant in terms of what Kodak was going to offer the market. Over the last few months the dust seemed to settle on what businesses would make up the new Kodak.

Even with that going on I still had my doubts. It really boiled down to this:

The general decline of print - there are some really wonderful people in the printing business but there is no way to say this gently, print is dying. I just keep seeing the writing on the wall and its getting clearer and clearer. Any business with a dependence on revenue from print(manufacturers or publishers) will face a very tough next few years. All the innovation I see from hungry companies and people are directed at making the consumption of content easier/cheaper/better via electronic means. Its only a matter of time before everyone who advertisers want to reach is consuming media exclusively through a tablet type device. Now understand I am not saying all people, only the ones that matter to advertisers. So there will be printed things being delivered to people in the future, but are those people the ones that companies will be willing to spend serious money on to reach?

So I begin my next journey at a company called Qualitrol based in Fairport(5 minutes away from my house!). I will be the new Digital Marketing manager there and will build out various online marketing strategies. It's an exciting opportunity to me to have an ideal "best in class" framework to try to build to and I love the idea of going back to the smaller company culture I miss.

TEDxRochester 2012 - a review



Just wow.

This is my reaction for attending TEDxRochester today.  This is the 4th year of the local TED event but it was my first time.  I had no idea that all the speakers and performers were going to be local Rochester people.  That made the event even better, it's eye opening to find out the talent of people around you.

Since the crowd there did such a great job via Twitter summarizing the event, I created a Storify about it and embedded it below:

2 things you must do for a successful Social Media Strategy


I spoke at an event yesterday for the Rochester Chapter of the American Marketing Association at One Restaurant and Nightclub.  They had tables and chairs set up on the dance floor which I thought was a great metaphor for the type of event being held.  You see it was sort of a speed dating meets networking meets free consulting type of deal where there was an expert at each table talking about some specific aspect of the online/digital landscape.  I felt like I was dancing and everyone was watching, except my feet were still and it was my words that moved(and no one moved away from me while staring at me awkwardly).

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I had a table and my topic was Social Networking Strategy.  This phrase alone evokes fear and loathing in many executives mind because its probably the one thing they always point back to when denouncing Social Media as a "waste of time."  Usually most social media channels get abandoned because there was never a larger picture painted to let the entire organization know that if you want to be social, things will need to change around here.  They call it a lack of strategy.  I call it a lack of understanding.

Overall most of the advice I ended up giving was focused around two things:

  • Integration: Don't treat social media channels as a separate project.  They are the same as the discussions you have around what trade shows to attend, what ads to put in what magazines, etc.  Every time there is a meeting about how your company is engaging with its customers/prospects, social media is involved.

    If you put social media over there in its own box and don't connect it to anything else significant in your organization then it will simply fail.  If you are currently "on your own" in your company and doing social media, what do you hope to accomplish?  Is it really a part of the culture of the company or is it the round peg being shoved into the square hole?
  • Know your audience needs: who are you talking with and what do they want?  Figure out those two answers and build content to support it.
Did you attend the event?  What would you have asked if you did?

How to keep meetings from wasting your time


I came across this great Inc. article "Don't let meetings suck your time" and it inspired me to write some of my own thoughts on those dreaded meetings we all attend.

Sometimes I find myself in a meeting and realize that we have just covered the exact same topic about 10 times in a row without moving the issue forward.  I imagine these scenarios often play themselves out in asylums across the country where people slowly bang their heads against a wall muttering the same question over and over.  It takes everything I have not to yell out "stop repeating yourself!" and "stop drooling."

So what do you do when this happens?  Ask this question out loud: Now that we understand the problem what are the next steps to resolve this issue and who will take them?  Then you will most likely hear crickets but don't let that stop you from your goal.  Start naming names.  Make people jump.

Don't settle into the routine of unproductive meetings, your time is more valuable than that.

Two easy ways to learn the language of your customers


Too often people in marketing roles write to "sell" instead of writing to match the intended readers buying process.  In some circles this form of writing is technically referred to as "crap." 

So how do you know what your customer is thinking?  Google offers two valuable tools that offer insight into the very phrases that they are typing into the search engine.

Google Trends - you can type in words or phrases here and find out their popularity(or lack thereof) over time.  If someone tells you that some topic is "hot" you can prove them right or wrong with this tool.

Google Adwords keyword tool - you can get trends with Google Trends but this tool give you hard numbers on the amount of times a term is searched on in Google.  This also pulls up alternatives to the phrases you type in so you get a better sense of how real people are referring to things.  Its an eye opening looking into real world data and can be used to settle many arguments over how some marketing people think the world works vs how it really works.  

The bottom line is match your language to your audience and your writing will get more traffic.

photo credit: larskflem via photo pin cc

Give it away for free


Every time anyone asks me how to prove thought leadership online I always say the same thing:

"Create interesting, valuable, share-able, entertaining content that can truly teach someone something, and do it all for free.
...and then do it again and again."

Maybe in years past its been enough to run all your advertising in such a way that gave the perception that your company was the "thought leader" in a given field but those days are long gone.  When a perspective customer is out there searching for a solution they may find your company but your web presence can either make or break your claims.

For example, if you are out there saying you are the #1 company in the field of solutions for office furniture you better back that up with some free tools that can help me out right now, for free. Give me some ideas right off your homepage that I can implement without much hassle.  When I follow your Twitter account I want links to helpful content, not only to things that your company created, but anything I may find useful.

It's really easy for a company to show they are clueless in today's marketplace with barren websites devoid of any useful information or no social media accounts that let me interact with you and ask questions.

Spend some time in content development and you will get more customers and not just the "tire-kickers" to your site.

How to Make a Viral Video - 5 tips from TED Talks


Anyone that knows me knows I hate the term "viral video" essentially because it describes something that does not actually exist.  It's really bad when someone claims they will be creating a viral video since that makes them a fortune teller a.k.a. a scam artist.

The truth is that you create content online in the hope that it can get spread and shared enough to get that elusive label of "viral." (On a side note isn't it funny how the word viral online is this holy grail for most companies but offline its association is with sickness and death?)

There are tons of tips from people out there on how to make your video content more likely to go viral.  I watched the below video from one of the people behind the successful TED Talks and she does an excellent job outlining how TED created their video content to increase their chances of being spread.

In case you don't have time to watch the whole thing here is the top points she makes:
  • Think like a filmmaker
  • Film for the super small screen(think tight shots)
  • Start strong
  • Evoke contagious emotions
  • Don't forget to tell a story
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The New Viral Video: From Keyboard Cat to Ideas Worth Spreading from Vimeo Festival + Awards on Vimeo.

Social Media Crisis Management 101


Everybody has a different definition of a crisis.  For some people a crisis could be a slow barista as Starbucks, for others it could be sending out a tweet to everyone instead of a DM.

If you are responsible for your companies social media then crisis management will inevitably come up.  It does not have to be a daunting task to handle.  Here is a simple framework to start with:
  1. Listening - ensure you are getting all mentions of your brand/products from the web coming into someone in your org.  That person has to manage the flow and be able to spot issues soon after they arise.  There are free tools like Google Alerts and paid ones like Radian6 that handle this.
  2. Escalation - there should be a direct line from first notice(the Listener) all the way to CEO if needed.  These people need to be informed and trained to understand what a crisis looks like.  An example tactic here would be to have a designated subject line for a crisis like ATTN: CUSTOMER NEEDS HELP ASAP ON TWITTER so when that e-mail comes in they know they need to act fast.
  3. Actions - who is responsible for responding?  It may not be the person with the best knowledge to address the crisis but this person can ankle bite the right people to get the right response.  Without a person designated with the task of sending a tweet or writing a Facebook post this whole process can grind to a halt.
I present the above as a mental framework for social media crisis management.  You should then flesh this out with specifics that suite your company size and needs.

What you want vs what your audience wants


If you've owned a business for more than 10 seconds you know the urge.  The unshakable feeling that is driving your every move to convince as many people as possible that whatever it is you are selling is the right solution for them.

You believe this deep into your bones.  If you could just have 5 minutes face to face with that prospect you could show them how wonderful your widget/service/etc is.  All they have to do is fill out that simple form on your website and they will understand!

Oh that thing I just mentioned, filling out that form?  There is the hard part.  In fact its the hardest thing your website will ever do and the most important.  The form could be to buy something on the spot or to speak with a sales rep, either way that conversion is the Holy Grail of your entire web presence.

Why is this such a problem?  On a good day 95% of the people who visit your site don't take a measurable action(buy something, fill out a form etc).

There is no way to get everyone to always convert but if you understand one thing about your audience it should be this:

How does your audience decide to buy what you are selling?

Match your site to the buying process not the selling process.  This doesn't just go for your website but for all digital content you create(Facebook updates, YouTube videos, etc).

Ask yourself how anything you create online matching the stages of the users buying process.  It could be high level or something close to the sale itself.  If you don't know how your content fits into the your customers mindset then they will probably ignore it.

Is PR the anti-social media?


I was recently a guest speaker at an RIT PR class discussing Social Media.  I went through my usual talking points about the relationship that Social Media has today for corporations, about being an authentic voice in a sea of "spin."

Then I got an interesting question from one of the students, he asked:

"When looking at a resume for a Social Media position, does it hurt to have PR experience/classes on there given what you said about the authentic voice?"

So what would lead him to believe that PR would hurt his chances of getting hired?  Is it that everything he learns in PR courses goes against the fundamental social media concept of an authentic voice?

I don't want to throw everything that a student learns about PR these days under the bus but it was a really good question given all that I had said until that point.  It makes me wonder what the future of the PR profession is since everyone knows the goals of PR is spin, its creation and control and Social Media is anti-spin and lack of control.

This is what got me thinking, is PR the anti-social media?  If everything about PR; spin, media seeding, guiding the press, etc. is the opposite of successful social media practices then where does it fit into the current mix?

How much will PR pros have to change in order to work in this new world?  In my opinion, a lot.  The traditional PR cycle and practices still has its place but some old walls are crumbling.  There is an entire conversation happening that PR has no control over.

How are the next generation of PR pros learning to adapt to social media?

Empire Ave Verification



Just have to do this to verify that this is my blog on Empire Avenue.

9 ways to make your next event social media friendly


I came back from a recent event here in Rochester called the Social Share Summit.  I was both attending and speaking on one of the panels discussing B2B Social Media.  It was an all day event that featured a few panels beside mine and a few keynote speakers.

Yawning yet?

Now don't get me wrong there was some flashes of great content and I thought my panel went well but there was something lacking.  By the afternoon you could see the drag of the day taking its toll(I'm glad our panel was done by around 2:15).  It got me thinking about ways to encourage more interaction from attendies at events like this since its hard to keep focus for that long, especially when its mostly listening to others speak.

Here are 9 ways to get people more socially engaged at an event:
  1. Everyone gets handed a printed agenda with the following info:
    1. Event hashtag for Twitter
    2. QR code to scan to "Like" the event on Facebook, or auto generate a Tweet.
    3. Twitter handles of everyone who is speaking.
  2. Invite people to check in with plenty of visual signage in the halls and in the room(even the bathrooms).
  3. Assign someone from the organization who created/organized the event to create a steady stream of content from it.  This is photos, videos, etc and make sure to get peoples names and handles so they get noticed on social channels.  Make people feel important, its goes a long way.
  4. Large screen with constantly updated tweets about the event.  This could easily become a distraction but I think this encourages more people to interact to see their handles come up on the big screen.
  5. Partner with a charity and offer an easy way to donate to them.  This is one for the downtime either between speakers or during a boring stretch of someones speech.  Have the option to text to donate and especially promote that donation via social.  It keeps people realizing the bigger picture and makes them feel good.  That's a great association you want to have with your event.
  6. On every slide of every presentation - Twitter handle of the speaker and a QR code(or URL) that you can download the presentation from.  Make it really easy for the audience to get the speakers content, they are more likely to share it.
What have you seen that you would add to this list?

The web of One


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What's the effect of all the personalization on the web?  Watch this video and see where this feature can actually deprive us of a truly "open" web experience.

Social Media and the end of the Chick Flick(finally)


Watch this video.  Johanna Blakley does a wonderful job walking us through how the rise in use of social media is killing the outdated practice of targeting media by age/gender.  Advertisers should target interests and not make assumptions about potential customers based on their age ranges.

What do you think?

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B2B Social Media Strategy - 3 things to consider


Whenever I give a talk about my work in the B2B social media space I get a some consistent questions about it.  There always seems to be a perceived chasm between social media for B2C online behavior and B2B online behavior.  I say perceived because we need to remember that no matter who is interacting with social media and how they are doing it, its a person plain and simple.  The same person who can click "buy" for a $100 digital camera is the same person who can sign a $500k check on a piece of equipment for their business.  In keeping with that thinking, it would be a mistake to think that there is no place for B2B in social media.

Here are some things I have learned along my journey:

  1. Don't force it on people - by "it" I mean any social channel(Twitter, Facebook, etc) and by "people" I mean executives.  While it would may be great for your company's image if the CEO jumped right into Twitter and became a star, if it hasn't happened yet, it probably never will.  Its hard work to maintain a solid presense on any social media channel.  It won't happen by accident, or by force.
  2. Have a keyword strategy - don't think "how does SEO fit with social?"  Thats the wrong question.  Always focus all online content on your most important keywords.  I mean everything.  That should drive every tweet, video and blog post.  Think of all online content as perminant(Thanks Google!) so while that blog post that a subject matter expert wrote about how to optimize your print shop for a better printing workflow may not have brought in a ton of initial traffic, it gets indexed by Google and lives for a long time.  Even if it only gets a trickle of traffic over time since the B2B buying cycle is long this post will have more legs than almost any other outreach.
  3. Align with others - make social media a "normal" part of the marketing/PR mix.  Condition people to include it at the beginning and not at the end as an afterthought.  This is another channel to work in with a different set of rules.  Just like you would not make a radio commercial the same as a TV one, you wouldn't create a blog post the same as a YouTube video.

Yet another social network...yawn


I just got invited to join AgencyScoop which is billed as a social network for people in the Ad industry.  Well that's fine and dandy but its a closed system, so its another unique profile I have to create and maintain.  Why not use either Google or Facebook as my profile info so I don't have to deal with more usernames and passwords?  Plus since there is no connection I have to worry about keeping another place updated when things change.

If AgencyScoop does not open up, then it will wither on the vine as the larger players more effectively break off and serve these niche needs.

What is open on your computer right now?


(image) Image by Getty Images via DaylifeSo I have my work e-mail(Lotus Notes blah),Firefox and Tweetdeck. In Firefox I have 6 tabs open, Gmail, Facebook, NetVibes, my companies website that I work on, Mashable and of course

What do you have open?



I am pretty happy with the way this GraphExpo page turned out.