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Come Fly With Me .. Into Social Media

08/13/2007

I love planes so when Josh Hallett, Hyku, presented the opportunity to talk to the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) I jumped at the chance. CAP Civil_air_patrol__2 held its inaugural Public Affairs Officer Academy in Hot'lanta (very hot 'Lanta!)last week. I had the pleasure of speaking to a wonderful group of volunteers who are making a huge difference in our country and influencing the lives of thousands of kids. I met people who had been volunteering for over 20-years. They told me the most heart warming stories of how CAP has changed lives ..  especially kids in the cadet program. CAP is meant for social media. Julie, Kim, Steve and Jim you were great! 

Got to the Marriott Marquis in time to catch the speaker before me. Always a good thing to do - to have a reference point of where folks were before you come on. It was a session on traditional PR. After the slides on how to plan and media relations a slide on Blogs popped up. Oh oh .. over lap I thought. The speaker's concluding remarks on the topic ran something like .. Interesting idea but you don't want to put it on top of your list. Keep in the idea file if you have time. You have too many other more important things to do before you add blogs to the mix.

Girlfriend, I had to bring in another point of view. The Civil Air Patrol is meant for social media. Fascinating to me was after my talk a group of people came over to chat that included 20 somethings to 70 somethings. It was a 71-year old gentleman who was the most enthused about going home to Dallas to talk to his WING about blogging. I,of course, sent him to Millie Garfield's My Mom's Blog for a peek into senior blogs.

Sidebar: Millie's on network TV .. ABC News no less! Not bad for 81-year young gal from Swampscott, MA!

Okay, I admit to taking a sip or two from the koolaid so let's take a closer look and see if CAP is really meant for social media.

  • CAP's mission is connecting with and helping people. - The most powerful value of blogs is the functionality to develop relationships through conversations. CAP has the most amazing stories to tell. Each WING (CAP Chapter) could write its own book.
  • CAP's mandate is also to education. Podcasts, vlogs, blogs each offers unique (and fun) ways to provide information and peer-to-peer interaction. Using YouTube and iTunes as distribution channels can increase reach.
  • The WINGs don't have a lot of money. - Blog platforms, like Blogger and Wordpress are free.
  • One of CAP's challenges is to reach diverse audiences: prospective cadets, cadets, adult volunteers, media, corporate sponsors, parents, community supporters, businesses, pilots .. to name a few. - Multiple social media strategies are a way to provide content that addresses specific needs of members of their community. Podcasts, multi author blogs and online photo albums area a few more ideas.
  • As one might expect the cadets are all over social networks. There are amazing Flickr photos, YouTube videos, MySpace sites and Facebook groups. There's even a Facebook group for girl cadets. However, it's not all under twenty somethings who are using social media to reach out to other volunteers and people who share their passion. Adults are there too. -  Hang out where your people are .. why not a WING Myface page and/or Facebook group?
  • Since there are CAP members involved in social networks and blogs listening in on those conversations - and then joining in - would be a terrific way to obtain informal feedback and first step research.

Yes, Divas sure seems to me that CAP is meant for social media.

Lessons Learned: Keep an open mind to new ways of doing business .. or new ways of doing life!

Read More About Marketing For Non Profits

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Beth's Blog

Voices of Chrysler, An Interview With Editor Jackie Headapohl

08/10/2007

Biz Blog Profiles! is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits, higher education institutions and the arts are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Get Ready For The Next Hundred Years Chrysler_logo_2 is the theme of Chrysler's new advertising campaign. Chrysler itself is revving up by launching a social media initiative including Voices of Chrysler - a multi author blog, vlogs distributed on YouTube and podcasts. 

Jackie Headapohl, Editor of Voices of Chrysler kindly agreed to give the Diva Marketing community an understanding of the back-story, the now-story and the future-story. In the post early this week I asked if you had any questions and Jackie graciously addressed those too.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Chrysler’s step into an open social media conversation (as opposed to the media only Firehouse blog) sends a strong signal that business at Chrysler will not be business as usual. How will the culture of blogs and social media complement the culture of the “new” Chrysler?

Jackie Headapohl: The culture of The New Chrysler is the same as the old one—scrappy, innovative, risk-taking.  The people that work here are passionate and love the car culture. We wanted to start out fresh by opening a conversation with our customers, also passionate people who love our products and cars in general. If we win some new customers over, too, that will be great! Also, even though we’re now a privately held company, we want the world to know that communication remains a high priority.

The blog provides transparency between the company and our key stakeholders: employees and customers.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How will the culture of blogs and social media influence and support Chrysler’s master marketing plan?

Jackie Headapohl: Chrysler’s been using blogs and social media on a limited basis for the past few years to better connect with the marketplace. Voices of Chrysler is an extension of that. And while our past blogging efforts were mainly tied to specific marketing programs, Voices of Chrysler is an open-ended strategy to communicate with the public; it’s not really tied to a marketing effort.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Participating in a conversation – on a blog or over a cup of coffee – often times means that opposing views may occur. I noticed that Voices of Chrysler is allowing “negative comments.” Understanding that a conversation is responsive communication how will Chrysler ensure that the concerns of its community, as well as, the positive feedback and ideas are heard?

Voices of Chrysler Reader Comment: “I think blogs like these are an excellent idea. They make customers feel like the company is actually listening to them and cares about their opinion.”

Jackie Headapohl: We feel we can learn from open and honest feedback—good or bad. Currently, we’re trying to respond to comments by posting blog entries that address the concerns/interests we see coming in. Comments that come in with specific, personal issues are being forwarded to our Customer Assistance Center for resolution. Eventually, you can expect to see blog posters responding in real time for a two-way conversation.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  The blogosphere is community where people do exchange ideas. Will Chrysler bloggers participate in conversations outside of Voices? In other words, will we find Chrysler bloggers commenting on relevant posts on other blogs?

Jackie Headapohl: I think as our posters become more accustomed to life in the blogosphere we’ll start to see that happening. We have a lot of car nuts here, and there are many fantastic enthusiast blogs out there they’d probably enjoy participating in.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In addition to “text blogs” you’re including videos and there is a link to a podcast feed. How will you use each of these “channels” to support your social media strategy? Will the type of information and “speakers” be different?

Jackie Headapohl:  Text and photos will be our main methods of communicating since those are the fastest ways of getting our messages across. Podcasts are definitely on the menu, as well, and will be used for interviews that don't necessarily have strong visuals associated with the subject matter. “Speakers” could be anyone who has something interesting to share. We think video is best for pointing out product features and giving our readers the ability to experience events vicariously they didn't have the opportunity to attend—product reveals at auto shows for example.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I noticed that videos produced by Chrysler are housed on YouTube. Why did Chrysler choose to use YouTube as a distribution channel instead serving in-house?

Jackie Headapohl: YouTube serves our purposes two ways. First, it’s free. Second, it exposes our videos to a huge global audience.  A lot of the folks who view videos on YouTube might not necessarily surf auto-specific sites, and we’d miss them.  However, we are building an in-house video hosting system, which will come on line soon. But we’ll continue to post video to YouTube, as well.

Toby/Diva Marketing: It seems as though your blog authors are one-time authors. Since there is not a bio page I can't tell if these are what might be called "guest bloggers."

Jackie Headapohl: You're correct that these are guest bloggers. We plan to have a calendar search feature, but it's not available yet. We're going to be adding enhancements in the very near future, including a space for a bio.

Toby/Diva Marketing: There is much discussion about the importance of the “M word” measurement when it comes to defining success of a social media strategy. Those analytics may not follow traditional website metrics or even internet metrics. Has Chrysler defined what “success” is and those key factors that you’ll be watching?

Jackie Headapohl: We’ll be watching several things. For us, a constant flow of comments since the blog’s launch is an early success.  It shows there was a pent-up demand by the public to communicate with us. Going forward, our success will be measured by the number and quality of the comments, links from other blogs and websites, how well the blog is received in the blogosphere, and of course, traffic.  We also will measure the success of this blog the same as we do the blog, TheFirehouse.biz, (our media blog launched two years ago), by how Chrysler is portrayed in the media and if our messages are being picked up in their stories.

Questions From Diva Marketing’s Community

Thanks for your questions and/or inspiration for questions: Lewis Green, TIffany Monhollon, Geoff Livingston, Jody DeVere, Shel Holtz

Diva Marketing: I was very interested in their approach of having employees from throughout the company contribute to the blog. She said one of the best things about that aspect was that it helped build many different audience segments because different people identified with the personalities and jobs of the different authors. I wonder how deep Chrysler will get into this or if it will be mainly VPs.

Jackie Headapohl: Of course everyone is interested in hearing what the “bigwigs” have to say, but no, it will not mainly be VPs—only when appropriate. We have posts lined up from our production workers, engineers, dealers, etc. Each person on the Voices of Chrysler has a unique perspective and opinion. I think people will enjoy the variety.

Diva Marketing: With American automobile manufacturers losing market share at race car speeds how will social media be used to gain share of market?

Jackie Headapohl: Before I answer, I first want to say that one thing we hope to accomplish with the blog is to eliminate misconceptions, like the one in your question. For example, Chrysler’s market share has remained relatively flat over the past five years, fluctuating between 11 and 13 percent (hardly racecar speed).

Now for your question: I think social media helps to build relationships with customers, especially younger people who find it a comfortable way to communicate. I think people have more respect for companies that reach out to them and try to build relationships using a medium they’re comfortable with. I don’t know if that will translate to market share gain or not. But Voices of Chrysler should help put to bed the complaint from customers that auto companies aren’t interested in what they have to say. Chrysler wants their input. We’re listening and responding.

Diva Marketing: I would like to know how they see their blog differentiating itself from GM Fastlane or other auto manufacturing blogs like the new Kia blog.

Jackie Headapohl: Those are both great blogs. Fastlane, of course, is written mainly by GM’s product czar Bob Lutz, while Kia’s blog contains a lot of press releases. With Voices of Chrysler, you get to hear from many different kinds of people, and we won’t be posting press releases—only first-person accounts.

Diva Marketing:  The topics are fairly broad—not unexpected for a brand new corporate blog launched to coincide with the launch of a new company. What is the long-range strategy for Voices of Chrysler? 

Jackie Headapohl: Right now, that strategy is a work in progress. We expect to learn as we go and evolve. We’re not looking at Voices of Chrysler as a means to an end, but rather as a tool to keep us in touch with our customers. Besides, what’s wrong with using a broad brush on the blog? Chrysler is a vast and wonderful enterprise with so many varied interests and concerns. It would be unfair to limit our subject matter to a few narrow areas. The blog is called Voices of Chrysler for a reason. We’ve got a lot of voices to listen to.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s end with your take on blogs and social media. What would you tell Fortune 500 brands who are considering stepping into social media?

I would tell them that it’s intensely satisfying to hear what’s on the minds of your customers with no filter involved. I would also add that it can sometimes be a little unsettling to see those opinions onscreen in black and white. Most companies pride themselves on being in control of  their “key messages,” and a blog takes that control away and leaves it in the hands of your customers.

However, if you respect your customers and your goal is to serve them and meet their demands, then blogging is a great.

Read More: Ed Garsten, Editor of Chrysler's Firehouse blog tells why Chrysler launched a media focused blog in a Diva Marketing Biz Blog Profile Interview.

Hotels, Hospitality and Social Media

08/10/2007

A few weeks ago Paul Chaney and C.B. Whittemore joined me in a Diva Marketing Talk show (my new internet radio show) to chat about social media and vertical markets. Paul's focus is real estate and C.B.'s is on flooring.

Indie_hotelier This morning (11a Eastern) I have the pleasure of joining Michael Chaffin on his internet radio show - IndieHotlier  to talk about another niche segment that is exploring social media - hotels and in a larger sense the hospitality industry. Stop by for a listen or click in for the podcast version. 

I'm wondering .. what this means. Will social media marketing consultants focus on specific verticals?

Thanks to Julie Keyser-Squires, Softscribe, for the intro .. gotta love blog networking. (smile).

With The New Chrysler Comes A New Blog

08/07/2007

Open for business this week is the Voice_of_chrysler_3 new Chrysler blog - Voices of Chrysler. The blog is still getting its blog-legs and I must admit in need of a tweak or two. It will be interesting to see where the conversation heads. However, it sure is nice to see another major brand stepping into conversational marketing with its customers.

Sidebar: Chrysler launched a blog for the media a few years ago. Read Ed Garsten's interview with me about that strategy.

In a quick email, editor of Voices of Chrysler, Jackie Headapohl told me Chrysler's goal is to " .. share the many voices associated with Chrysler that give it its unique "mojo" and provide customers a behind-the scenes look at our company." More from Jackie soon. She's agreed to do a Diva Marketing Interview. Any questions you want me to ask .. drop a comment.

Nice to see a diva at the helm of a traditionally male industry blog (yes, I know there are women on the GM  blog). Bet BBF Jody DeVere, Ask Patty, would think so too! By the way if you haven't dropped by Ask Patty recently there are lots of new things happening including car reviews by women and a Second Life space. Worth a visit but take a long your cup of java you may be there for more than 30-seconds.

Blogger Stories: New Chapters

08/06/2007

  Blogger Stories Stories_3is a special blog that I launched to tell the stories of how people have been touched by blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other online interactions. The virtual library has almost 80 "chapters" written by bloggers from all over the world.

Although the newest chapters of Blogger Stories were all told by business bloggers their reasons to begin blogging and purpose of their blogs are quite diverse. Ilise Benun is using her blog to support her book on marketing and to help her clients.

Tammy Powley's experience with blogs began as a way to promote her jewelry and bead business. It led to new career opportunities in pro blogging.

For Peter Kim blogging began by helping a client navigate a blogosphere firestorm. He then launched an experimental blog for a major brand. Eventually Peter knew he had to get into the game himself and thus was born Being Peter Kim.

I see blogs as conversations, two-way dialogue between individuals that were made for technology’s current evolution.  Who wants to be a voice that people skip, block, and ignore? Peter Kim

I can assure you the voices of Ilise, Tammy and Peter are not to be ignored.

Ilise Benun - The Marketing Mix Blog

Peter Kim, Being Peter Kim

Tammy Powley - Jewelry & Beading, The Jewelry Weblog, Fat and 40, Blog Class Info

Have a great blogger story to tell? Drop a comment.

Sidebar: Catch Pete on Diva Marketing Talks my internet radio show. 30 minutes. 2 guests. 1 topic on social media marketing. Peter and Marianne Richmond talk about the importance of the M word - measurement in social media marketing.

Social Media A Way To Reach Out

08/01/2007

Bloggers are a funny lot. We love to chat it up. We love to build relationships. As we've seen time and again we are quick to come to our own conclusions. Maybe too quick at times. Limited information, not understanding the context and cultural nuances make it so easy to misconstrue some one's intentions. I raise my hand to doing that .. and having that done to me. No one is granted immunity on this one.

Social spaces from blogs to Twitter to Facebook and M-or-e provide easy, free  ways to tell our closest friends and friends we don't even know our opinions. That's great for the most part. And no girlfriend bloggers are not researchers or even journalists but sometimes we might want to go an extra step. Especially when it might result in a better conversation.

This week I wrote a post, Blogger Relations: A Side Step To Buy Buzz, and included information and links to several interesting research projects. Part of that information was pulled from a media release from Agency.com about their study, Who Is Driving Social Media, an analysis of what they term influencers - "uploaders." Here's a clip from the post.

The big strategic implication of the Uploaders study is clear – brands need to think of these digital influencers as a resource, not a target. - Dr. Paul Marsden.

That's an interesting concept. Agency.com doesn't say brands should build relationships and expand community with bloggers but instead suggests that bloggers should be positioned as a "resource." And what is a "target?" I've sent off an eMail to Marianne Stefanowicz, Assoc. Director, PR & Marketing Agency.com Worldwide asking for clarification.  Ms Stefanowicz was indicated as a contact on the release. Perhaps she'll drop a comment or respond back. If she does I'll let you know.

Agencycom_logo_2 Marianne Stefanowicz, Assoc. Director, PR & Marketing Agency.com Worldwide graciously responded to my email and agreed to let me post her response. Now we have a better understanding of what was behind Dr. Marsden's remark. And a nice little road map of how to engage bloggers.

Hi Toby - and thank you for your inquiry.

I fielded your question in the direction of James Clifton and this was his response:

The Ultimate Answer is an answer to the Ultimate Question which is a school of thinking led by Bain and Co http://bain.com/theultimatequestion/home.asp

The essence of the quote is that we need to treat people as a ‘resource’ - so listen to them, make them brand advisors by involving them in marketing and product innovation. By doing this, you create genuine dialogue and engagement which helps to make them advocates of a brand.

We should NOT to treat them as a passive ‘target audience’ which we simply message at through advertising.

Hope this helps. Please reach out if you want further information or to talk to James directly.

I did a little more digging and followed Marianne's link which led to the book written by Fred Reichheld, The Ultimate Question. The book addresses how to build community and customer loyalty by answering one, seemingly simple question: Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? By the way, Mr. Reichheld has a blog and Dr. Marsden blogs too. Sweet. I sent Fred Reichheld an email. Perhaps he'll drop by and leave a few words of wisdom. Who knows .. strange and wonderful things happen all the time in the blogosphere.

Lessons Learned: Reach out. You may find someone like Marianne who is happy to help ensure understanding. And if you pass that along to your community .. that's a powerful way to use social media tools.