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First W List Profile Blog:Do It Myself Blog

09/30/2007

Yesterday Sunny_cervantes Sunny Cervantes, Confessions of a Marketing Addict, and I were "Facebook emailing" about the Facebook W List Group (registration required). We wanted to find a way to add value to the growing  community.
Sidebar: The W List back-story.

Sunny came up with a brilliant idea that  dovetails nicely with Valeria_maltoni_2 Valeria Maltoni's concept to support and promote women bloggers. Each week on Facebook we'll feature a W List blogger and discuss the blog. Sunny calls this "Sort of like Oprah's Book Club except it's our blogs." The person who is profiled then chooses the following week's blog. However, if you are inspired to write about a W List blogger and you have not been profiled .. go for it girlfriend. This is social media where most anything goes and the rule is that the rules can be broken!

Why Facebook and not in blogosphere? We do hope the discussion and links will post beyond the WLFb group; however, the WLFb group is an opportunity to build community in one virtual place. I'll make an effort to post the profile reviews on Diva Marketing.

Sunny's idea .. so Sunny has the honor of writing the first profile. She tapped the inspirational Glenda Glenda_watson_hyatt_3 Watson Hyatt who authors the Do It Myself Blog.
 

"So, I'm choosing The Left Thumb Blogger - Glenda Watson's blog. I chose it because...well, I got curious how one can blog only with her left thumb. And Glenda's blog is amazing! We take our health and freedom for granted most of the time that we can never seem to appreciate it until someone else points it out to us.

Glenda posted about Accessible Transportation and I feel truly humbled by her experience. Here I am whining and griping about having to walk one block to my corner store. Somewhere, on the other side of the world, someone else is grateful for her ability to move around.

And it's so amazing how Glenda doesn't let her cerebral palsy prevent her from enjoying the quality of life she wants. She rides horses. She can sit-ski. She's more sporty and active than me. I'm such a couch potato. :(

I especially like what she said, "in total control of where I am going, with a contagious smile across my face….until I run out of accessible sidewalk!"  In the meantime, I often don't know where I'm going and I end up hitting doors or walls. Sigh. I could learn so much more from Glenda."

InColleen_kulikowski her terrific recap post about BlogOrlando, W Lister Colleen Kulikowski included a quote from Shel Israel, author of Naked Conversations,Shel_israel_3 that underscores why a W List? Why profile bloggers? Why take the time to build virtual relationships?

Social media is building a generosity cult -- You get the most influence, by giving the most. Shel Israel

Sidebar: Congrats!to Shel on his quotes in today's New York Times. Shel made the front page of not the Business section but the Style section .. which is where the real power of the NYT's is housed .. pretty nice for a "recovering PR guy."

From Sunny in the Phillippines to Valeria in Philly to Glenda in Canada to Colleen in Florida to Shel in California to me Toby_2_smaller_2 in Atlanta the world grows not only smaller .. but perhaps a little kinder.  Why? Because social media is all about people .. one-by-one-by-one. AsYvonne_divita_2 Yvonne DiVita says, "What's not to like about that?"

Sidebar: Glenda and her husband Darrell are going to BlogWorld. I so hope I get the chance to meet them!

Friday Fun: DC Goodwill on the Social Media Runway

09/28/2007

Today's post is a Two-for-One. It's Friday Fun  - Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly. Combine with Biz Blog Profile - 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.

Take a brand with an image challenge. Add a unique positioning strategy targeting a new segment. Overlay it with the limitations (people and money) of a not for profit. Sprinkle with an innovative, never been done before social media strategy. Toss in a few vintage dresses. Mix well. Welcome to the world of the Goodwill of Greater Washington.

About Goodwill of Greater Washington
Goodwill of Greater Washington provides job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities throughout the greater Washington, DC region.  We fund our mission through diverse lines of business including our chain of nine retail stores, two e-commerce sites, landscaping, pest control and janitorial contract services, as well as a small amount of traditional fundraising (about 10%).

About Brendan Hurley
Brendan_hurley_2 I have been a marketing professional for 15 years, with a BA in Communications and an MS in Marketing.  I spent most of my career in the “for profit” sector, working primarily in the radio industry marketing for a variety of radio groups including Clear Channel Communications.  I came to Goodwill as the VP of Marketing when Clear Channel’s Regional Senior VP became Goodwill’s CEO in late 2003.  What I enjoy about Goodwill is that it is a charitable agency that helps the community, but also runs more like a business than a traditional non profit.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Vintage shopping is great fun but Brendan, I must admit when I think of diva, cool places to discover cute clothes Goodwill is not top of mind. However, you not only are changing the image of Goodwill of Greater Washington but are creating a new positioning for the organization … from thrift shop to vintage fashion.

How and why did an organization, that is not known for innovation in marketing, decide to step into the world of social media to support and promote that new direction?

Brendan Hurley: There is an interesting disparity in the vintage and classic fashion world. If you spend $150 on an outfit at a high end vintage retailer, it’s considered hip, but if you buy the same outfit at a Goodwill store or “thrift” store, many consumers perceive it as old and used. 

We didn’t want to alienate our core customers, many of whom are bargain shoppers, but we needed to find a way to grow a secondary market segment for Goodwill that we felt we could impact with the right positioning: young, professional females, who tend to be a primary market segment for vintage retailers. Ultimately we felt that a social media strategy would help us address this need.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In a recent guest blog post on The Buzz Bin you said something very interesting: 

It wasn’t until I started developing our 2007 strategic marketing plan that I finally figured out my problem: I was trying too hard to develop a social networking strategy instead of incorporating social networking into my marketing strategy.

It’s the concept that I’ve been trying to help marketers understand. Would you please discuss that a bit more? How did you “get it.”

Brendan Hurley: Like many marketers (I think), I didn’t fully understand social networking as a “tactic” incorporated into a strategy. I kept wondering how we could integrate social networking into our marketing plan (trying to force it) rather than identifying our organizational challenges and applying the best marketing methods to address those challenges. 

Once I did that, the answer became clear:  The use of social networking would achieve multiple strategic objectives. It was like a light bulb went off.  An integrated social networking and new media plan would help us reach the audience we were targeting without alienating our core shopper, drive traffic to our virtual fashion show that we knew would convince visitors we had a good product, then provide them with an easy portal to our online retail store to make a quick purchase.  By integrating mission messages into each step along the way, we could also educate the population on the nature of Goodwill’s mission, thereby developing greater passion for our cause while generating brand loyalty.  The flow seemed very natural.

The only problem was that while I had read blogs before, I had never written one, so I didn’t understand the strategy behind it and how to make it compelling and sustainable.  Fortunately, I knew Geoff Livingston of Livingston Communications from a marketing committee we both serve on at the Greater Washington Board of Trade and I asked him if he would consult us on finding appropriate vintage fashion websites on which to advertise, and on launching our blog. 

It was Geoff that taught me that we had to treat the blog just like any other product with a mission statement, logo, positioning statement, etc.  Doing so has helped us stay focused and forced us to maintain product integrity so that the blog doesn’t become another blatant advertisement that will simply turn off any half educated reader. The content has value and I believe that is what keeps readers coming back. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s talk about your exciting initiatives. First the Goodwill Fashion Blog. Was it difficult to get buy-in from your board and how was it presented to them?

Brendan Hurley:  Our board LOVED the idea.  They believed that the use of new media was quite innovative in the non profit sector.  And certainly the use of fashion to help educate others on our mission was a very unique strategy.  While they seemed quite confident, my team and I were responsible for the execution of this complex initiative, so I was a a bit nervous having never launched such an effort before.  Fortunately, I have a fantastic team.  Our blogger, “The DC Goodwill Fashionista”, is an employee, Em Hall, who is very keen on fashion. She loves writing the blog and is very talented. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did you establish success measures or goals and if so what were they? 

Brendan Hurley: We set financial goals for the fashion show, which we’ve already achieved.  We also set a goal on the number of unique visitors to the fashion show (10,000) which we are close to hitting now and we haven’t even posted the video on YouTube yet. Right now, the only place the fashion show can be seen is on our website.

We have a financial goal for our silent auction, but it hasn’t ended yet, so I can’t tell you whether or not we’ll hit that number.  However, I can tell you that we’ve already successfully converted better than 14% of our fashion show viewers into Goodwill online shoppers. That is a number I had no idea we’d achieve.  Our brick and mortar retail sales increased measurably as well in the two weeks since the fashion show launched.  However, I can’t say whether those numbers are sustainable at this point and how much the virtual fashion show and blog influenced that growth.

As for the blog, I would have been happy with 100 visitors a week and a retention rate of 25% after less than 90 days, but we’re presently averaging about 700 visitors a week and a retention rate of close to 40%.  The blog has also become the second largest referral source for our fashion show.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did you perceive any risks in stepping into the blogosphere with a blog that has open comments?  What strategies are in place to mitigate risk?

Brendan Hurley:  When we decided to pursue a blogging strategy, it was an easy decision for us to establish a policy of posting both positive and negative comments, provided they were not  inappropriate. No comments go live without our review first.  However, I am a firm believer in transparency and integrity and if someone criticizes us, it will be seen.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The DC Goodwill FashionistaGoodwill_fashionista_blog seems to be having such fun with her posts but why did you choose to go the anonymous blogger route?

Brendan Hurley: That was a strategic decision to protect the long term sustainability of the blog.  We decided to give the blogger an alias because at some point, the author of the blog may change.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Then you took a step into wild side with the launch of what may be the first online fashion show from a not for profit  - The Fashion of Goodwill Virtual Runway Show and Virtual Auction. Please tell us the back-story.

Brendan Hurley:  For three years we have held an annual Goodwill Fashion Show that was designed primarily as a fundraiser and secondarily as an attempt to help change perceptions of the quality of fashions available at Goodwill Stores.  Unfortunately, while the unique fashion show received some good publicity, only a limited number of people could attend the event because it had a high ticket price attached to it.

By converting our live fashion show into a virtual fashion show that we could post on our website and promote through social networks, we believed we could reach a broader and younger market segment by providing entertaining and compelling content that would interest and excite the viewer.  This would also make our sponsors happy because we’d be reaching thousands of people rather than a few hundred who could attend a live event.

Goodwill_runway Creating a fashion blog and pages on social networking sites like MySpace would not only help drive traffic to the fashion show and our online auction site, but also give us access to influential social networks that may help position Goodwill as a knowledgeable resource on vintage and contemporary fashion, while also positioning our stores as untapped destinations for inexpensive vintage and contemporary fashions, rather than stores for low income shoppers. So far the virtual fashion show has been a big hit!

Toby/Diva Marketing: How is the eBay Auction working for you?
Sidebar: Today - 9-28-07 - is the last day of the auction. Take a break and do a little virtual shopping for a few cute vintage pieces .. at bargain prices! Send me a photo of you in your new outfit and I'll post it on Diva.

Brendan Hurley:  Since the auction hasn’t ended yet, I can’t tell you if we’ve hit our financial goal, but I believe we will.  We’ve got a lot of watchers on our site. Our fashion show has become the second biggest referral source to our eBay store behind eBay itself.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Were there any surprises along the way in terms of what people bid or perhaps who bid?   

Brendan Hurley: Yes, there are people bidding on some items I didn’t think would get much interest and other items I thought would be popular that few people are watching.  We did discover through some additional research that a Versace china collection is worth much more than we had originally thought.  The interest in that china has really skyrocketed.  There is also an interesting vintage circa 1920s clutch purse that I am not personally fond of, but is getting a great deal of interest from eBay shoppers.  Then again, I don’t know a lot about purses.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Hmm .. eBay today .. perhaps Second Life next year. A few diva-type Goodwill_1920_hand_beaded_dress_2questions .. Who were the models?

Brendan Hurley: The models were fantastic. They were all local and supplied by Tu-Anh.  Tu-Anh is a locally based, but internationally experienced fashion designer and consultant who volunteered her time.  She runs a professional fashion consultancy called Polished. She knew exactly who to ask and all of them modeled for free. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: How were the garments chosen and who put together the outfits?

Brendan Hurley:  All of the items were literally taken off the racks from our nine DC area Goodwill Retail Stores by Tu-Anh and her staff. It didn’t take them long. I think they were only hunting for a few days before they had an entire collection. What can I say…the stuff you can find at Goodwill is pretty good! You just need to look.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How will you sustain this new positioning and does social media fit into the Goodwill of Greater Washington’s long-term marketing strategy?

Brendan Hurley: I suspect that we’ll see a bit of a drop off once the auction ends and the initial excitement over the fashion show starts to fade, but we’re committed to a long term blogging presence and will very likely do another virtual fashion show next year. The challenge now is sustaining and building upon our early success. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: What were a few of the lessons learned?

Brendan Hurley: First, treat your blog like a product, not a strategy.  Second, to be successful at a blog you need to be willing to make the commitment. A blog requires much more research and time than I would have ever thought.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What advise would you give a not for profit who wanted to step into the social media space?

Brendan Hurley: I would tell them something that sounds like a cliché:  Think out of the box.  If you want to engage a new audience and educate them on your mission, you don’t necessarily have to force your mission upon them. 

Engage them using a common interest. If your cause is homelessness, maybe think about developing a blog about homeowner related issues and weave your mission into the blog content. You’ll reach a broader variety of people, develop a personal relationship with them and then gain their trust and support. The population that is already passionate about your cause is going to support you anyway. Use the blog as a way to acquire new untapped supporters.

Brendan Hurley On Social Media
Your take on using social media as a marketing / business strategy. Your get the last word (smile)

I’m amazed at how others are willing to market your product or service for you if they feel it has value.  Build an online product with significance and treat it with the respect you would give any more tangible product or service. If you do, you won’t have a problem finding people willing to help you communicate your message.

Diva Marketing Talks About Search 'N Blogs With Father-Daughter Team Chloe & Stephan Spencer

09/25/2007

Diva Marketing Talks is a live, internet radio show.  30-minutes. 2-guests. 1-topic about social media marketing. Why? To help organizations understand how to participate in the "new" conversation without getting blown-up. Miss today's show? You can pick it up as a podcast.

Today's Diva Marketing Talks might be a first in BlogTalkRadio history. Stephan Spencer, a leading voice in search engine ready ecommerce, and his blog-savvy, teenage daughter Chloe Spencer share their secrets of how to use Search to open the doors to your blog a little wider. Chloe also tells why when it comes to earning money babysitting is so yesterday or Web 1.0. Not only should you tune in but bring along your pre teens and teens too!

Topic for September 25, 2007: The Secrets of Search Revealed

Guests:
Stephan Spencer - Netconcepts, Stephan Spencer's Scatterings (Blog)
Chloe Spencer - The Ultimate Neopets Cheats Site - Neopets Fantastic

Time: 6:30p - 7p Eastern/ 5:30p - 6p Central/ 4:30p -5p Mountain/ 3:30p - 4p Pacific
Call-in Guest Number: 718.508.9924

Stephan_spencer_2 Stephan Spencer

Stephan M. Spencer, M.Sc., is president of Netconcepts, a full-service interactive agency with specialization in search engine optimization (SEO) and e-commerce, as well as email marketing through its GravityMail division.  Clients include Home Shopping Network, AOL, Verizon SuperPages.com, Discovery Channel, and REI.

Stephan is a frequent speaker at Internet conferences around the globe, from Berlin, London and Santiago to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, for organizations such as the DMA, the AMA, Shop.org, JupiterMedia/IncisiveMedia (Search Engine Strategies), Internet World, IQPC and IIR. In 1998, Stephan was featured on the cover of In Business magazine.

He is a Senior Contributor to MarketingProfs, a monthly columnist for Practical Ecommerce, and he’s been a contributor to DM News, Search Engine Land, Multichannel Merchant, Catalog Age, Catalog Success, Building Online Business, Unlimited, and NZ Marketing magazine among others. Stephan is also the co-author of the analyst report “The State of Search Engine Marketing 1.0 — New Strategies for Successful Cataloging” published by Catalog Age.

He earned a B.S. in Cellular & Molecular Biology with Honors and Distinction from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Chloespencer_2 Chloe Spencer

Chloe Spencer is a 16 year old blogger who has been blogging about the hugely popular kids site Neopets for about two years. Some pages of her website, NeopetsFanatic, sport more than 3000 comments.

Chloe monetizes her 11,000 daily pageviews into cold hard cash with Google AdSense. She's a busy girl and only blogs once or twice a month, but still she makes between $10 and $30 per day -- money while she sleeps! Chloe is an aspiring documentary filmmaker who has lived in New Zealand for the past eight years. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her parents and two sisters.
Sidebar: Thanks to BlogHer for the bio.

Tips From The Diva Bag

Complements of Stephan & Chloe Spencer

  • Do your keyword research. Tools like Google Suggest and WordTracker will help you figure out what to name your blog, pages, and posts. Titles that have popular keywords in them will get more traffic from Google than titles with unpopular keywords.
  • Monetize your blog with Google AdSense. Maximize your revenue from the Google ads by making them blend in. Make the ads match the content by using the same font face, size and color. Don't put borders around the ad unit.
  • If you want to make money by displaying Google ads on your blog, don't publish your blog on WordPress.com. Third-party ads like Google AdSense are against WordPress.com's terms of service. Using the WordPress software on your own domain is A-OK though.

Can't call in but have a question for Chloe or Rick ? Drop a comment and I'll ask it for you. Let me know what you'd like Diva Talks to chat about.

Anon Bloggers: A Hop To Or From Credibility?

09/24/2007

What’s a business blog mean to you? Okay, I’ll go first. One big factor for me is an opportunity to build a relationship with a person who may be otherwise clocked by the Wizard of Oz curtain that goes up with traditional marketing communication. 

However, in some villages of the blogosphere people blog anon – anonymously. This type of genre is not like a character blog, where the tonality of the blogger may be a different style than if the blogger was writing in her own voice; however,the identify of a character blogger is frequently disclosed. That is the case of the GourmetStation Delicious Destination blog. Although the ‘voice’ is T Alexander the thoughts are from Donna Lyons-Miller, the president and founder. The back-story is proudly told on the blog.  (Bloggy disclaimer GourmetStation is a client.)

The healthcare blog world is an example where sometimes docs who are not comfortable letting  patients, or perhaps affiliates e.g., medical centers, insurance companies, etc., in on their identities will blog behind a pseudonym. The McChronicles blog is another example of an anon blog where McChronicles remains anonymous in order to ensure reviews – much like a restaurant critic – of McDonald’s around the world are not compromised by the celeb of McC!

RecentlyToad___orange I came across an anon marketing blogger, Tangerine Toad who is writing on a blog appropriately called – The Toad Stool. It's interesting to me that the mysterious Toad has established credibility and a loyal readership/community. It would seem to be that in the spirit of social media: to be honest, transparent and authentic anonymous bloggers would have a difficult time establishing trust. When I was in New York last week I met the Tangerine Toad, who by the way does not look like a toad nor is he orange. In fact, he was very much upfront about his real name and identity.

This anon thing is curious to me. Tangerine Toad agreed to shed not his skin (do frogs shed their skins?) but to tell us his story .. why an anon blog?

Toby/Diva Marketing: Before we go anywhere with this interview I must know .. how did the name Tangerine Toad come about?

Tangerine Toad:  Before I was blogging, I was commenting on other ad blogs, and just about everyone on those blogs comments under a pseudonym. The name was really just a whim-- a lot of new ad agencies have names that sound more like rock bands than ad agencies and Tangerine Toad was a goof on that.  (Which is ironic in that I’m now just as guilty of using the moniker to set myself apart from more traditionally named bloggers.)

When I started my own blog, which I named “The Toad Stool,” it was really just an experiment: I was curious about the medium and wanted to get hands on experience with it. I initially intended it as a two month project at most and I didn’t really tell anyone about it. So I was surprised when I started getting comments from people beyond the 4 or 5 friends who knew I was writing it. That’s when I decided to recommit to it. And at that point, I was kind of stuck with Toad. Though at some level, I rather like it. It’s got a superhero-ish sound to it.

Toby/Diva Marketing: So Toad, any relation to Kermit? He’s green and you’re tangerine but perhaps you’re distant cousins? Sorry ..do you get that one a lot?

Tangerine Toad: Surprisingly… no. But I have discovered, through the magic of Google, that there’s a fairly popular Beatles cover band called Tangerine Toad. Who knew?

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s cut to the chase .. why did you choose to blog anonymously?

Tangerine Toad: It’s funny: advertising is such a business of star worship. And I find people are more open to hear what the mysterious “Tangerine Toad” has to say than if I blogged under my real name. They focus on the “what” not the “who.” I mean it’s not like I’m a complete unknown in the business, but there are probably only a half dozen creatives people would really and truly be excited to hear from. I often feel as if I’m the alter ego of some superhero called The Tangerine Toad. You know. mild-mannered creative director by day, outspoken blogger by night.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hmm .. sort of like a Superman/Clark Kent deal. I'm thinking a cute tangerine cape might be in order. But I digress sorry. Would your ‘voice and style’ be different if you were blogging under your own name?

Tangerine Toad: Not at all. I have a fairly unique niche because I’m one of the few creatives who’ve been successful in both the general (TV, print and radio) and interactive advertising worlds and so I can approach the new world with the experience gleaned from the old one. And I try to do that in an intelligent-yet-highly-readable manner. My posts  are never mean or vindictive—which is unfortunately common with some anons.  Joe Jaffe is probably the only person I ever razz on The Toad Stool, but he knows my real identity (I’ve known him for years), and we’re still friends, so it’s all good.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why should people take you seriously and put their trust in your work on The Toad Stool if they don’t know your identity?

Tangerine Toad: Not knowing my identity is actually a plus. It allows people to focus on my writing and what I have to say, not what agencies I worked at and how many awards I’ve racked up. People know that I’ve had a long career in advertising as a creative director at both big agencies and boutique agencies and that definitely gives me a base of credibility. And being The Tangerine Toad sets me apart from the rest of the bloggers, especially on marketing blogs like The Daily Fix, which I’m also going to be writing for.

Toby/Diva Marketing: That said, how difficult is it to build trust and assure readers that you are authentic? Do you do anything differently writing as an anon blogger to ensure that than you would do if your identity were open?

Tangerine Toad: Again, I think my writing speaks for itself. I have no agenda. I’m not pushing anything other than common sense. What I write about is my own viewpoint on the what’s happening in our industry, how everyone is reacting to the radical changes. And yes, it’s a strong viewpoint. Ann Handley called it “frank but fair.” I don’t pull punches, but I try and remain open to dissenting opinions. It boils down to an apocryphal story about the late Bill Bernbach. Legend has it he used to carry around a little card in his shirt pocket that said “They Might Be Right.” I always try and remember that story when someone disagrees with me.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I was also surprised to see you at CK’s blogger meet up in New York telling people that you were The Tangerine Toad. Were you not concerned that someone would spill the proverbial beans?

Tangerine Toad: Not really. Again, I don’t really ever say anything in the blog that I wouldn’t say in real life. The Toad Stool is a pretty honest look at what’s happening in our industry from a big picture perspective—there’s not any sort of gratuitous nastiness going on. Not to mention the fact that it was fun finally meeting all you guys.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Where do you want to take the Tangerine Toad? Will you ever reveal your identity?

Tangerine Toad: Well there is definitely a plan in place. First step is I’m going to start blogging on The Daily Fix. That should expand my audience to include a broader base of marketers and PR people in addition to the current base of advertising creatives.

Once that’s in place, I plan to write a book based on my blog, specifically the whole “Your Brand Is Not My Friend™” series. That seemed to really resonate with people and yes, I’d do it under my real name.

From there, I’d like to start up a consulting business that combines my business acumen with my creative background. So many people working the “new media” space lack strong “old media”  creds, and I think I can provide clients with both. I’m also planning to continue with the Toad Stool blog. I really love writing it—I have a journalism background and I always thought the best job in the world would be to be a columnist. The blog lets me fulfill that dream on a daily basis. The fact that so many people actually want to read what I have to say has been a pleasant—and constant surprise.

Resource: Electronic Frontier Foundation - Anonymous Bloggers

Blogger Night At The Iguana

09/21/2007

Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Divacard_3_2 What do bloggers do when they meet up for a Totally CK Happy Happy Hour? Talk and laugh and drink and take tons of photos .. and then talk and laugh and drink and take more photos!
Last night I stepped into the Iguana bar in Midtown and was greeted by Steve Woodruff's wonderful smile. What a lovely surprise to see the "father of George."  Then I saw the amazing CB Whittemore and the awesome Ann Handley and knew no matter who else showed up it would be a blogger blast. Back from her European tour (I've always wanted to say that .. back from her European tour!) Carolyn Townes - the Wild W Wiki Woman - walked through the door. Then dear David Reich came in. Dana VanDen Huevel and Bill Flitter, coherts in the AMA Hot Topic workshop stopped by too.

Could it get any better? It could and it did with David Berkowitz and Kofi Annan! Kofi even brought along George. Will that monkey ever leave Manahattan?

I got to meet ultra cool divo bloggers Gary Cohn (Gary - send me your new blog link and I'll add it), Greg Verdino and the anon blogger Tangerine Toad - who doesn't look like a frog at all nor is he orange. Well .. I must say .. all those Divos were quite dashing. Nyc_907_diva_bloggers And the Divas? Divine .. but of course! Special pink boa tosses to dahling CK for pulling another wonderful party together. Missed you Lewis and Alex and Valeria .. next time.

Lessons Learned:  Virtual meeting places may seem odd but the relationships made online through social networks and blogs are as real and important as any you might make in any world. As Greg said to me, "See you on Facebook."

AMA - Beyond Marketing 2.0 Hot Topic

09/20/2007

Ama_20_hot_topic On the AMA road again with BBFs Dana Van Heuvel and Bill Flitter. This time we are talking about not only blogs but social media .. from Second Life to widgets to how to ensure that social meets begins to get the respect we believe it's due as a credible marketing strategy.  It was great fun talking social media with so many great people.

Next Stop: Chicago on October 26th. Next Next Stop: Las Vegas on November 9th. More Information.

Dana posted many of the links that we talked about today; it's a great resource for all.

The following are some questions along with responses that came out of the session.

B2B Versus B2C Blog Strategy/Expectations

Q: Is there a difference in expectations between Business-to-business versus Business-to-consumer blogging?
A: B2B may not receive as many comments but the bloggers may receive more direct emails. Especially if the industry is very competitive your community may not want to engage in direct comment conversation. Including an email link is critical .. funny to me how so many business blogs don't add an email link as a way to contact the blogger/s.
A: The credibility of B2B bloggers should be established. Build blogger profiles to include both professional credentials, as well as, a bit of personal background. Of course, since this is part of a blog the tone will be conversational not corporate speak.

Widgets

Q: What makes a widget a widget?
A: Dynamic content, download-able, interactive (does something), pulls content from a feed

Q: Widgets - do they require any behind the scene manual maintenance?
A: Nope .. or not usually.
A: Widget distribution directories: Facebook, Widgetbox, Snipperoo, Clearspring
A: Widget code is not universal. For example the widgets created for Facebook can not be added to a blog or website.

Q: Are widgets and other social media tools 508 (handicap) compliant?
A: Widgets do not appear to be; however, since blogs are websites they (blogs) could be made 508 compliant.

Content

Q: How much of your content came from your head alone to the outside?
A: As you continue to blog and build community ideas come from other people within your community who link to you and comment; also ideas come from other bloggers who write on similar topics who are also part of your extended community.

Blog Platform

Q: What are some blog platforms?
A: Hosted Solutions
Blogger
Blog Harbor
Typepad
Non Hosted Solutions   
WordPress
Comparison chart - hosted and non hosted solution

The Nay Sayers

Q: What do you tell people who say I can't see the relevancy .. I don't get it.
A: Start with your customers. As with any marketing strategy, it comes down to the supremacy of the customer and what the customer wants. It's not about you.

Updated: Interesting interview with corporate CEOs on negative comments

Q: How do you get people to come to your new blog in addition to search engine?
A: Social media press room - Shift Communications
A; Anyway you promote a website you can promote your blog.  Add to your email signature, your business card, collateral  materials, send emails or direct mail to your contact list.
A: Social media optimization: tagging, del.icio.us account, blog directories, claim your blog in Technorati, join your community in conversation including linking and trackback, widgets.
A: Hold a launch celebration and invite your bloggers, staff, customers and friends to an in-house party.

Q: In healthcare do customers trust peer-to-peer or medical sites/blogs?
A: Post on Diva Marketing links to research done by Economic and Research Council.

The Social Media Workshop That Never Was

09/20/2007

It's been an exciting bloggy week. Meeting up with friends at the Healthcare Blogging Summit in Chicago where I had the pleasure to see, although too briefly Nick Jacobs  (first hospital president/ceo to launch a medical center/hospital blog) and Enoch Cho (one of the first docs to transparently blog - under his own name), pioneers in healthcare social media. If you're interested in what is happening in the medical social media space Nick's and Enoch's blogs are great places to start.

Elisa Camahort, of BlogHer and more (!) fame, Carol Krishner, who is making a name in both healthcare and non profit social media circles and your truly were asked by Dmitriy Kruglyak, Trusted.MD to present a Chairs 2-hour workshop type session on how to develop a blog strategy. We did indeed. However, we discovered that the participants at the Healthcare Blogging Summit were not beginners when it came to blogs. In fact, many were writing their own blogs, a few had begun sophisticated communities and everyone knew what RSS was all about. Girlfriend, I tell you we were in big trouble .. with a Capital T.

What do you do when you know that the material you prepared is not appropriate for the audience? That was the challenge that Carol, Elisa and I faced. Over lunch we quickly revised our approach. Our goal was always to be of service to the people who were attending our session. We agreed to take our cue from social media itself: we would be transparent, honest, authentic and let our passion for the topic come through.

We introduced our session with what we thought we had learned out the participants .. that they were not novices when it came to blogs. They agreed. Then we took a deep breath and told them what we had originally planned .. that our presentation was created to help develop a blog strategy but we felt our materials were, for the most part, too elementary for them. We told them we would make the PowerPoint presentation available on our blogs, however, we felt we needed to change direction. Then we did something very bloggy .. we asked what they wanted to talk about, what they needed to help with their work with blogs and social media.

It was a leap of fate and a leap of trust that could all feel comfortable working for 2-hours in what would amount to a very unstructured environment. Something magical happened. Together we set a new agreed upon course based on the questions and interests that the people in the session presented to us. During our conversation, when it was appropriate we did refer to some of our slides. Topics ranged from a debate about ghost blogging to an extended discussion on how to use Myface to Enoch and Elisa demonstrating Twitter.

Something else happened. We had fun and we learned together. My heartfelt thanks to all who participated in our session without your involvement this type of workshop could not have succeeded. A special toss of a pink boa to Carol and Elisa (and me!) who worked seamlessly together.

Lessons Learned

  • Don't be afraid to change direction if what you planned doesn't work or is not appropriate.
  • The more you know about your audience the better your can prepare (that information was not available to us).
  • Involve participants in the learning process. Stop and ask their opinions let discussion naturally occur.
  • It helps if you are working with people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the topic.

Healthcare Blogging Summit
Download heallthcare_blogging_summit_sept_2007_chicago_pdf.pdf
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Journalists Blogging Under The Masthead

09/18/2007

Seems the post that Geoff Livingston and I co-wrote, Clarkkent about the role/responsibility of journalists who blog under the masthead of their publication, has taken on a life of its own. That is the good-bad-and ugly of taking the risk to put your thoughts out in a world (social media) where conversation and idea exchange is not only encouraged but is the norm.

By good I mean - the opportunity to stretch your thinking through the ideas that others add to the conversation. By bad I mean - if you are not prepared for others to disagree it can be uncomfortable to realize that not everyone thinks like you  .. which really is a good. By ugly I mean - sometimes people can misinterpret your concepts and yes, sometimes get snarky and well .. ugly.

Is it worth the risk? Only you can determine that one. For a boutique firm like Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing, or any small company, personalities are usually an integral aspect of the brand since you are "buying the person." (A challenge if you want to grow staff ..but that's another post)

What is going to far? How is transparency defined to ensure that conversations are honest but still maintain the integrity of the company/brand and of the blogger? This was part of a conversation that Elisa Camhort, Carol Krishner and I had yesterday in a session that we facilitated for the Healthcare Blogging Summit in Chicago yesterday. Guidelines are critical of course and hiring people who understand and buy-into similar values and vision help too.

But what happens when the lines of main stream media and blogging merge? This was the underling concept of The Buzz Bin / Diva Maketing cross post; however, that idea seemed to get lost since the example we used hit a nerve with many. Geoff's follow up post  also brings the discussion back to the larger issue - the role/responsibility of journalists who blog under the masthead of their publication. Geoff in respond to an excellent question from CK -

CK: Or if Jonah hadn’t blogged on it at all?

Geoff: Ahh, the real issue. Well, if journalists want to blog under a publication masthead then they are still governed under the ethics of journalism. Thus the unwavering point of view. Blogging yes, fine, but clean it up and play by the rules… Or conversely, post it on a personal blog.

Just because a journalist blogs doesn’t mean they lose their role in the conversation. But they have a different tone and ethics — which by the way makes them more credible than the average blog.

As main stream media and social media blur lines  "What's it all about Alfie" (sorry I'm writing from NYC) expectations need to be thought through. Is there a difference between an opt-ed piece and a blog post that is published under the guise of a publication's masthead website?

Should each blog post be accompanied with a disclaimer? "This is the point of view of person-who-holds-a-respected-position-in-the-world-of journalism; however, this publication assumes no editorial responsibility over the post which may or may not reflect the positioning of the publication. So even though we have given person-who-holds-a-respected-position-in-the-world-of journalism the platform, reach and by default credibility of our organization please do not assume that this particular work from this person-who-holds-a-respected-position-in-the-world-of journalism meets journalistic standards."

To echo CK's comments I too applaud traditional media companies who are stepping into the world of social media. As we learn together about this ever changing world I'm sure there will be more lessons, questions and exciting ways to conduct business and report the news. I don't expect journalists to be Clark Kent .. wll maybe I would like them to be (smile) but I do expect that they will follow journalist guidelines.

 


Friday Fun: Martinis & Bloggers & Meet-ups In NYC .. Oh My!

09/14/2007

Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Martini_girl Question: I'll be in NYC next week and what could be more fun than martinis and bloggers meeting up in Manhattan?

Answer: A CK happy happy blogger meet-up party!

If you're in New York City Thursday night  you are so cordially invited to drop by for a martini and some social media chat. With CK at the helm there are sure to be lots of surprises and lots of laughs.C.B. Whittemore will be there and David Reich and Greg Verdino. Perhaps Dana VanDen Heuvel and Bill Flitter, cohorts in crime who are presenting with me at the AMA Hot Topic on Social Media conference 9-20 will drop by too.

Where: Cafe Iguana (yes there is a lizard outside but he's not real), 240 West 54th Street between Broadway & 8th Avenue. 212.765.5454.

When: Thursday, September 20th.

Time: 6:30pm to ???

Drop a comment on Diva or on CK's blog and let us know if you'll be around.

New York New York it's a wonderful town!

Sidebar: Thanks to CK for the ultra cool graphic! 

Advertising Age Uses a Yellow Crayon

09/14/2007

Simultaneously posted on Diva Marketing and the Buzz Bin Blog

This week BBF Geoff Livingston, The Buzz Bin, clued me into a post  titled, Color Us Confused, written by Ad Age Executive Editor, Jonah Bloom. I was surprised to find that Mister Bloom’s post was written more in the style of tabloid reporting than of a respected journalist holding a senior position with a highly regarded publication.  As Geoff  put it Mister Bloom  “… called out crayon CEO Joseph Jaffe for coloring the truth in a recent blog post announcing a second round of significant changes at the company."

Geoff and I both found Jonah Bloom’s Ad Age’s coverage of crayon’s challenging situation disgraceful to Crayon_yellowthe extent that we are collaborating on this post.

So what if there was some jargon and spin?  Taken from a  PR perspective, what was Jaffe supposed to say, “We just lost half our senior team because we can’t win enough business?” Wasn’t that clear enough in the letter?

As experienced practitioners, we see right through this post as exploitative, exaggerated yellow journalism. And quite frankly, it’s disappointing to see this occur under the Advertising Age banner, the so-called industry authority hosting the Advertising Age Power 150.

Perhaps you’ve been privy to the changes at crayon, outlined in this letter by Joseph Jaffe. First the high profile departures of Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz.  And now there were these recent moves, specifically the departures of Steve Coulson, CC Chapman, and Gerry Cohen.  Certainly, changes of this nature garner attention, especially the faltering party is an agency like crayon. 

Neither of us knows Jonah Bloom; however, his bio suggests that his career has been spent working for journalist for organizations that could guarantee salary/benefits and not as an entrepreneur. The world of a small business, especially a start-up firm, is quite different. There are sleepless nights worrying that a client’s check will come in before the light bill is due. Projects you were certain would pop are put on hold. Then there are the continuous expenses for the cost of doing business. But if you believe in your dream you make adjustments and trade the Starbucks mocha latte for a coffee made in your own kitchen.

Regardless of Jonah’s responsibility for penning this disgraceful post, Advertising Age itself has a responsibility here.  And as marketer bloggers that are technically covered by the magazine, we demand better standards of journalism from the magazine.

Impact

Jonah Bloom’s post brings up a larger issue for us and many questions. Granted that Mister Bloom was writing a blog not a column.

  • Is a blog post written by a publication’s editor or reporter an opt-ed piece? Even so should the post be held to the same journalist standards set for the publication’s articles?
  • Are the lines blurring to the effect that blogging within a journalist setting e.g., Ad Age, means the blogger is sanctioned to color outside of acceptable guidelines and branding expectations of the publication?
  • Would Ad Age have published Jonah Bloom’s post as an article?
  • What obligation does the “journalist blogger” have to reflect the publication’s brand image?

Neither of us knows the current crayonistas outside of the usual Facebook and Twitter interactions. However, crayon represented so many of the ideal hopes of the blogosphere and the Cluetrain Manifesto, it’s hard not root for the agency. 

At the same time it’s hard not to see these recent events as a disappointment. Not just because of the missteps outline in Jaffe’s letter, but because crayon is more than a company.  It’s a dream that we all want to achieve. A marketing profession that is based in transparent, honest, ethical and exhilarating social media communications.

Both of us want to be 100% social media all the time.  But getting companies to buy into this new world concept is not easy.  For example, the four person firm Livingston Communications gets two thirds of its revenues from traditional public relations clients.  The rest is social media.

We understand the challenges and difficulties of getting and keeping a full portfolio of  social media clients. And we congratulate all of the crayonistas past and present for their courage in pursuing this noble dream. And to the remaining crayons – Joe, Greg and Scott -- we wish you the best of luck in your continuing efforts whatever color they may be.

-- Toby Bloomberg and Geoff Livingston

Sidebar: Diva Marketing is honored to be part of the Ad Age Power 150.

Sidebar: A bit of background .. I grew up in a small business. My dad owned a data collection company outside of Boston. Small business owners will relate when I tell you that the business took on a personae of its own and conversations that included “the business” were more the norm than not.

Although my professional experience includes assignments with Fortune 100s and not for profits I’ve had the pleasure of working with and mentoring small businesses and start-ups. And it seems as though I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug too.  One might say I know the challenges and rewards of a small business and how difficult it is to make a go of it. My highest respect goes to those who start a new venture.

My dad subscribed to lots of marketing and advertising trade publications. At the top of the To Be Read pile was what I considered to be the king-pin of the ad biz - Ad Age. Advertising Age has spent decades building the trust of its readers and of the marketing/advertising industry. I trust Ad Age to provide articles that are reported fairly and positively critical opt-ed pieces that elevate our industry.

As main stream media encourages its journalists to embrace company sanctioned blogs, what are your expectations of the blog content, not only from Ad Age, but any professional industry publication? I can't help but wonder what would Amy Gahran would think.