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What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Suzie Reider

07/31/2008

What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thoughts and insights. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

Suzie Reider, Director Advertising and Sales at YouTube, was the guest speaker at this month's AiMA event. Suzie spoke to a packed house about the lessons she's learned at her time with one of the world's largest social - media communities. From YouTube's point of view .. it is a combination of "social" and "media."  By the way, did you know if YouTube were a country it would rank #4 in population?  #1- China, #2- India, #3- USA, #4-YouTube.

For marketers, Suzie's wrap up comment about social media said it all  -

This is the world we are living in and this is where the people are. - Suzie Reider

A few lessons learned:

  • Viral videos need to be short
  • As a marketer you should have a strategy in-place if your video catches fire and goes viral.
  • What matters is not what the video does/is but what (other) people do with it .. or in response to it. Were other videos made based on yours?
  • Be aware of what is occurring so you can respond appropriately .. engaging with not on the defense.
  • For marketers .. a YouTube video should be creative advertising that works as "content."
  • It's all about the dialog
  • Ideas come from everywhere. "Consumers are creating your commercials. It's part of this brave new world we live in."
  • Have a thick skin ... be prepared for come back. When users take the content - or the concept - you never know what will happen.
  • Mobile is Massive.

Suzie Reider, Director Advertising and Sales at YouTube.

Sound Bite .. Social Media is .. 

Connecting in real time.

Blogger Relations Series: Blogger or Journalist?

07/24/2008

Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations

Every new industry has growing pains and social media is no different. As C.B. Whittemore said to me "The challenge is figuring out how all these things can be practical."

Blogging, in particular, has become an important resource not only for people who read blogs but for brand managers/agencies who perceive the blog/blogger is a source of influence and channel for message/idea distribution. A new strategy has emerged that we've termed "Blogger Relations." How to do it 'right' is a hot topic in many of our digital and non digital discussions.

With so mAnns_girls__1any opinions swirling around I was curious to know what people thought. I also wondered if agencies and brand managers could talk to bloggers what would they say. On the flip side what would bloggers tell agencies and brands about what they did and how they wanted to be contacted. So I did what any good marketer would do .. I asked.

I sent out about 100 emails and I'm not sure how many direct message tweets. Can't tell you the response rate but I can tell that 99 people answered the questionnaire. My promise to the people who kindly answered my questions was that I would share the responses with our community. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting an analysis of the open ended questions.

This is an industry ..let's call it .. pulse check .. NOT a statistically valid survey. However, the insights are note worthy and valuable. My hopes are we can move the conversation a step or two further along. To set the stage .. something about the respondents.

Respondent Profile: Blogger Or Not

Bloggers associated with an agency or social media consultancy 47%

Bloggers associated on the client-side/company affiliation 13% 

Blogger not affiliated with an agency, social media consultancy or a company 29% 

Not a blogger 11%

Let's start with the question: Do you consider bloggers the "new journalists?"

Total responses: 87

55% - Yes

45% - No

I found it interesting that the spread between the percentage of people who thought bloggers were the “new journalists” and those who did not was only 10 points. However, 35 respondents provided additional information.

Several people indicated the answer was not black or white/yes or no but rather there were  many shades of gray.

  • Yes and no. Some bloggers are practicing a new form of journalism. Others are practicing a new form of passing notes in class. Not all bloggers are journalists of any kind. - Shel Israel

  • The answer's very much 'it depends.' For instance, I'd need to know things like who an individual blogger is, what he/she writes about, if the blogger is a full-time blogger or writes as an extension of his/her work before applying such a label. Broadly, though, the label is an invalid one: bloggers are not journalists, new or old - unless the blogger actually *is* a journalist. - Neville Hobson
  • I think this question is too generic. Some are the "new journalists" and some aren't. It is a tool and it is used in many ways. So yes/no answers don't fit. :-) Blogging is diverse. - Nancy White
  • I think they add to the information stream, but don't "replace" it. I tend to shy away from saying one is better than the other- I much prefer the idea of cooperation or information sharing. - Tim Jackson

The definition of what is a journalist seems to be changing to encompass social media and blogging in particular.

  • I would also say that journalists are "new journalists" too, as they have to change to in corporate new media and new ways that "citizen media" influence mainstream work. - Anonymous 
  • News has always changed with times - print, radio, TV and now internet. Journalists are always adapting so bloggers just allows more of us to "report" our thoughts. - Anonymous
  • Particularly in traditional and low tech industries, bloggers are able to more nimbly react to happenings in the marketplace.  - Anonymous
  • I think we'd have to agree what a journalist is and look at every professional blogger to determine whether they are a journalist. Look to the codes of ethics for journalists. One big issue in defining a journalist is if they check sources and facts, see this article.
  • So to me if a blogger acts like a journalist, then they are, and if a journalist acts like a blogger, then they may not be a journalist but a blogger. - John Cass

Rather than being perceived as the new journalists some people felt bloggers were the new public relations pros.

  • Perhaps they are the new PR professionals, as they often blog to promote something, whether that is a product, service, company or brand. - Elaine Fogel. 

Some participants felt that money (getting paid), passion and peer-to-peer communication were where paths crossed between being a journalist and a blogger.

  • Jourrnalists are paid to do their job, bloggers write about things because it is their passion. - Anonymous
  • Blogging is a part of the larger P2P peer to peer network of people advising people about news, products, companies, etc. - Steven E. Streight
  • They are our peers or the people as defined in the Tipping Point, Mavens, Connectors or Salespeople. - Sherry Heyl,

For others the difference between a journalist and a blogger came down to training while for others it was the point of view.

  • Bloggers and journalists have different experience, different networks, different standards, different goals, and different networks. - Roxanne Darling
  • I think that bloggers create them for so many different reasons that it would be inaccurate to call them the "new Journalists." Journalists focus on bringing news or information to the masses, where as some bloggers really just have created an online journal. - Mei Li Thomas
  • Some are breaking news (which is what journalists do) Some are merely interpreting it (which is what columnists do) Others are just providing an echo chamber. - Alan Wolk
  • Not all bloggers; it depends on the blogger's intentions and skill. - Anonymous
  • I think journalists still have a role to play, but bloggers can expand the discussion into new areas where traditional journalists may not have all the insight (or all the contacts!). - Becky Carroll
  • The  term journalism suggests a 'profession'. - Alanna Kellogg
  • It's not just subjectivity/objectivity -- it's the purpose for writing. A minority of bloggers actually write to communicate facts, context, or understanding. - Ike Pigott

Several people viewed bloggers as the new influencers with as much reach, or sometimes more, than traditional journalists.

  • I consider us the new media influentials. Journalism was a very constrained medium. - Jane Genova
  • Many are the new journalists, but others are the "new pundits," the "new experts," the "new entertainers," the "new authors," etc. - Nedra Weinreich
  • But rogue journalists at best. We are not bound by the same rules, don't have the same code of ethics or training. And yet, we are influencers. - Drew McLellan
  • They certainly have as much if not more reach than a typical regional journalist, so reaching out to them can be more beneficial than sending another press release to a local paper. - Anonymous
  • Sometimes they get the events sooner because of their connections on various vehicles like Twitter, so opinions are formed much sooner before it hits the main stream media and possibly influences main stream media's own take and presentation on events if they are trying to undo a pervasive opinion. - Susan Cartier Liebel
  • In some cases that is true. But there are some bloggers who are not influential and are not at all like journalists. - Mark Goren

Ethics and credibility influenced the opinion of other people. In fact, some felt that bloggers self imposed a higher level to ensure credibility.

  • My credibility as a blogger comes from keeping to the higher ground and focusing on what is best for the end consumer. - Anonymous
  • There are some bloggers out there w/journalist like ethics, but most haven't been trained that way, so no. Anonymous

Next Up: How Do You Define A Successful Blogger Relations Strategy? Who is doing it right? Who is doing it wrong?

Thanks to the 99 people who kindly responded. The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, JaneGenova.com Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson, NevilleHobson.com
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Social Media Group and Livingston Communications .. Doing The Two Step Together

07/21/2008

Social Media Group and Livingston Communications joined forces today to create - drum roll please - North America's largest independent social media marketing and communications firm.

Update: Sorry for any confusion Social Media Group purchased Livingston Communications. The company name will remain Social Media Group. Maggie Fox will continue as CEO and Geoff Livingston will assume the position of EVP Americas.

Geoff_and_maggie_2008 While it's exciting to see the talented founders and dear friends, Maggie Fox (SMG) and Geoff Livingston (LC) creating a new dance for the social marketing industry, what is even more important is the signal that the venture sends.

1. Clients need agencies that understand the space and can help them navigate this new environment. Social media marketing needs a different skill set than traditional marketing.

2. Social media marketing is not a here today gone tomorrow fad.

3. Social media marketing is a credible marketing strategy. Sure it will evolve with the times and changes in technology. Girlfriend, the conversation is not going away .. bet you a dirty martini on that one!

Inquiring minds want to know .. Maggie and Geoff kindly agreed to a Diva Mini Interview where they tell us what makes a great social media marketing agency, their view points on social media marketing and their vision for SMG.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What makes a great social media marketing and communications firm?

Maggie Fox: Honestly? The people. We have an incredibly strong team of passionate social media evangelists with - and this is the important part - actual experience. I am consistently amazed at the quality if thinking and work that my team outputs. We would not be here today without each and every one of them, and that's what our clients are buying when they work with us - industry-leading experience and passion for the space.

Geoff Livingston: The ability for people to build genuine relationships.  These are people skills so you need folks who can listen understand, then communicate.  This is the antithesis of conventional marketing and communications firms. Networking skills become paramount, and you need a great team who understands that things are done differently out here.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Even though two of the most respected people in the social media marketing industry have joined forces, and as you said - created the largest independent SMM firm in North American, at the end of the day Social Media Group is still an "indie shop." Can the firm really go toe-to-toe to compete with the AvenueA/Razorfishes or the Edelemans of the world? If so how? If not where is your sweet spot?

Maggie Fox: Absolutely - we already are. Almost EVERY SINGLE client we have signed in the last year has expressed two things in rapid succession:

1. Their delight at finding a specialist agency with a solid results-driven process based on real-world experience

2. Their dissatisfaction with and lack of confidence in their existing agencies' understanding of social media.

The fundamental advantage SMG has is that we are not trying to shoehorn a social media practice into an existing agency model - ours is a totally new formula based on factors that are required for success. We describe it as a blend of business consulting and agency execution - best of both worlds.

Geoff Livingston:  I am seeing more and more “major league” opportunities at Livingston, and we’ve already publicly disclosed that we’re work with CES and Network Solutions.  Maggie is already working with Ford, SAP, Yamaha and Harlequin. So you see, major brands are already here. Together, we are going to be much more competitive, and if I were a big agency I would be afraid. We’re going to be eating their lunch for a long time.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is your point of view when it comes to SMM?

Maggie Fox: It cannot be ignored.

Geoff Livingston: Community, community, community. Become a part of, then build value vis a vis the marketing. But traditional marketing approaches won’t work. It requires specialized approach.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As you enter the next phase for the Social Media Group where do you see growth happening for your shop?

Maggie Fox: Most of our clients are in the US, so that's obviously a continued area of growth for us. With Geoff's team in DC, we're well positioned to focus on continuing to serve new and existing clients along the Eastern Seaboard. Next step: World Domination! :)

Geoff Livingston: The Fortune 500, large non-profits and government. I see us being able to serve these folks in ways that no agency can offer, and that we have a major experience-based value proposition. I think most of our growth will be eastern seaboard and great lakes oriented, but we can also see further expansion.

Curtains Up .. Maggie and Geoff!

Atlanta Not For Profits Shout Out

07/20/2008

Girlfriend, we all have lots of lives .. biz person, blogger, mom, auntie, teacher, student, tennis player, cook, wine connoisseur, and so on and so on.  In part of my off-social-media-life I'm an adjunct professor at Emory_2 Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. I co-teach an innovative course on management consulting.

This is a shout for a  few good Atlanta-based nonprofit organization to participate in a pro bono consulting services project that is part of Emory's top-five rated undergraduate business program.   

What makes the class special is the students are teamed with an Atlanta-based not for profit organization "client."  It's unique opportunity for undergrads (mostly seniors) to experience managing a real client relationship as part of their course work. By the end of the semester the students will have developed a research-based strategic plan that addresses the client's business challenge. What is quite amazing to me is that every year this becomes a from the heart project for the students .. and profs too!

Our past clients include: AHMENhousing, PeopleTV, Camp Horizon, Cobb Medical Society, Literacy Action, Theatre In The Square, It's A Journey, Atlanta Police Foundation Campfire USA

Want to know more? In their eBook Testify Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba profiled how word of mouth buzz took the class from 16 students the first year to 60 the next year. PDF - page nine. We also got some nice ink from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Read the students' impressions about consulting - Consulting Lessons From Emory Students.

Details About Business 438 Management Consulting
Through the senior level course on Consulting, small teams of undergraduate students will be assigned consulting projects to complete between September and December 2008.  These teams will spend approximately ten weeks during the fall semester working in partnership with their clients and will deliver a recommendation at the end of the process that will address the specific needs and concerns of their clients.  The course will be taught by Professor Skip Gunther, a retired Booz Allen partner, and Toby Bloomberg, a practitioner with her own consulting company.

The Consulting course has been conducted for the past six years with a good deal of success.  The students learn about consulting and the nonprofit sector at a critical thinking level.  And, most importantly, the nonprofit clients have received high quality, pro bono consulting from a talented team of undergraduates.

To apply to participate in this service, please provide the following information by August 4, 2008 in no more than five pages:

1.  Statement of the consulting project - due to the 10-week time frame, please be thoughtful in identifying a meaningful project that is sufficiently narrow to be accomplished in the time allowed.

Note: Students will create a project plan that addresses a specific organizational challenge. Based on the information needed to develop the plan, students may perform primary and/or secondary research. However, they will not execute any of the tactics (e.g., marketing communication materials) because of time limitations.

2.  Brief organizational overview – including historical sketch, current programs and services, and mission. Please include date of inception and 501(c)(3) status of your organization. 

3.  Brief description of organizational resources – including annual revenues, staffing, Board of Directors list, and organizational chart.

4. Contact information for the staff member who will be the main contact for the project (preferably, Executive Director) – including office address, phone and email address. If you have a website please include the URL.

Requirements

1. Ability to provide up to $200 for out-of-pocket expenses for the students – includes development of final presentation and report.

2. Dedicated liaison - preferably the Executive Director or senior level staff member of the nonprofit.

3. Commitment to attend 2 evening classes at Emory University; the first will be on September 17th to introduce you to your team, and the second will be on either December 3rd or December 10th to receive the presentation of final report.

4. Atlanta-based location with full-time ED.

5. The resource ability (time, people and funding) to implement the plan. 

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

1.      Satisfaction of requirements above

2.      Realism of project scope (is it sufficiently challenging, yet realistically doable within the course time frame)

3.      Balance within selected projects to provide maximum diversity of experiences to students (i.e., we would prefer to not have all projects focus on, for example, resource development).

Deadline for submission August 4.

If you want to submit an application please drop a comment or DM me and I'll get back to you with contact specifics.  If you know of an Atlanta-based non proft that would be interested I'd appreciate if you'd pass along. Thanks!

Where Are The "Social Media" Healthcare Organizations?

07/16/2008

Doctors_bag Nice to see more companies embracing social media marketing .. social networking .. social computing .. influencer marketing .. participation marketing .. whatever buzz word you call it - along with the tactics that build the mosaic: blogs, widgets, social networks, vlogs, social bookmarks, micro blogging and who knows what will develop tomorrow - however, the reality is many consider it to be more of a revolutionary strategy than an evolutionary way to reach customers.

Although thousands of physicians are active in social media, it's not a big surprise when it comes to Web 2.0 and social media, healthcare organizations are in the caution-to-adopt category. With the restraints of HIPPA is it even worth a dive into the wild side? Should healthcare organizations go "social?"  For Nick Jacobs, President/CEO of Windber Medical Center the benefits from his blog far exceeded expectations. From Nick - his story -

In the Spring of 2005, I became the first Hospital CEO to do a weblog; Nick's Blog or Windberblog at Windbercare will get you there.  After that I began writing for Hospitalimpact.org; Hospital News, Blue H News, and Worldhealthcare Blog on a regular basis.

Because of this Media 2.0 involvement, I began receiving invitations all over the country to speak about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the form of growth, outreach, transparency, criticism, board reaction, etc.   Because of these presentations in Washington D.C., Chicago, Las Vegas etc. I was exposed to the magnitude of not only blog power, but also You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, and any number of other web

Would I blog again?  Yes.  It has resulted in me writing two books and four newspaper columns that have increased our business by double diget figures ..  It has put a human face on a very conservative, formal job, hospital CEO.  It has helped me to reach out to a region that only five years ago dismissed us as a non player.  It has introduced us to the new world order regarding viral marketing and reaching out through the web.

Let's take a look at defining "success." Enoch Choi, MD, another pioneer in this space, believes social media is a good business decision for healthcare organizations.

I''ve recommended healthcare institutions that are interested in getting into social media to go where their target audience is -- where Google searches on the terms they'd like to target are going to.  I'm involved with MedHelp, where these institutions have a chance to have their MDs answer questions, on the topics they'd like to recruit more patients in, to increase their referrals. in this way, blogging can improve their bottom line.

Here area some healthcare organizations that are exploring social media marketing.

Johnson and Johnson's corporate blog 
GlaxoSmithKline's Alli blog for their weight loss medication, Alli
Centocor - CNTO411
Greater New Bedford Community Health Center
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Center for Disease Control 
Windber Medical Center 

ADHDMoms - Facebook - McNeil Pediatrics, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Updates:

Mayo Clinic Blogs and Podcasts

Thanks to Fard Johnmar, Envision Solutions, for his help developing this list.

So where are the "social media" healthcare organizations? Certainly there have to be more than a handful. If you know of any please let me know.

Read More

Heard it from  Bob Coffield - The Wisdom of Patients" Health Care Meets Online Social Media, report by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health economist.

Update: January 8, 2009 : List of 107 hospitals and medical centers using Facebook, YouTube and/or Twitter.

Fresh Air Fund Needs Host Families

07/14/2008

As a little girl summer meant counting the days until I boarded a bus for camp in Maine. Mom would spent hours and hours planning, packing and sewing those little name tags on shorts and t-shirts. What I would give now to spend 3-weeks at camp!

Fresh_air_fund Tonight I a received an intense, passionate email from Sara Wilson of Fresh Air Fund. Fresh Air Fund has been providing summer holidays for NYC children since 1877.  Quite a legacy.

Inner city children are matched with families for a 2-week (or more) vacation with the host families. Sara needs help for 200 children, who will be very disappointed, if August families are not found .. SOON.

Sidebar
: By the way this was a great blogger relations out reach. It touched my heart, gave me the information I needed, sometimes I post about non profit causes and children (though I am Not a mommy blogger!) so it was relevant. I could not only feel good about helping a program I believe in but spin it as a lessons learned about social media marketing .. blogger relations.

Sara's email.

I don't know if you've heard of the Fresh Air Fund before but I need your help. We're already well into July and I have 200 children who have yet to be placed with host families for August. Since you are a top blogger, I would love your help getting the word out that we need host families who will welcome a child from the city into their homes next month.

Since we need all prospective families screened and vetted by the end of July, time is of the essence. I could really use your help. To make everything simple, I've set up an online resource page with everything you need to blog or learn more, http://freshair.smnr.us

This is so time-sensitive and important to the lives of these children, I want to help you in any way I can. This appeal comes straight from the top, so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or need anything at all.

Thank you so very much,

Sara sara@freshair.org

Please help if you can. Please pass along if you know people who may be able to help.Thank you.

Update: Got to wondering why Sara chose to tap bloggers for this out reach. Thought you might be enjoy her response.

"The reason we are tapping influential bloggers like yourself is because in the "blogosphere" as you know there are no boundries.

We are of course using other methods of reaching prospective families and interested parties, but the this medium is so vast and has so much potential it would be silly not to take advantage. The Fresh Air Fund has not tried this method of outreach before, but it seems to be a great way to reach a targeted demographic."

Interview With Liz Strauss - Successful Blog

07/11/2008

Blogging101 So you want to blog. So you read some blog posts. So you talk to some blog-gers. So you read some tweets which confuses you even more. Blogging might not be brain surgery but it is a new way to communicate. Rather like hemlines up this season and down the next .. blogs are in continuous twirl. However, like your little black dress, there are some classic fashion rules that will never go out of style.

In my in-box this week popped an eMail from Liz Strauss which included a copy of her new eBook The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog An Insider’s Guide to the Conversation that’s Changing How Business Works. Liz packs this 68-page eBook with practical advice and how-to tips. In exchange for the $ you might spend on a few appletinis ($29) you'll own a "little black dress classic book" that will not go out of style .. on how-to blog for business.

Liz kindly agreed to answer a few questions and let us in on a few of the secrets of successful blogs. Her interview turned out to be a mini road map that addresses the why-what-hows of business blogging.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Who is Liz Strauss?

Liz Strauss:Liz_strauss_2_2 Liz works with businesses, universities, service professionals who want to attract customers who love what they do. She's also a huge fan of Toby Bloomberg. Sidebar: Liz is much too modest. Among her accomplishments .. she is the author of one of the most popular business blogs Successful Blog, creator of the highly successful conference SOBCon and in the nicest use of the word .. a Nice person.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What lessons can we learn from traditional print when it comes to writing blogs?

Liz Strauss: In education publishing, we talk about reluctant readers -- kids who come to the task of reading without much past success. It's hard to keep them engaged. Online, we're all reluctant readers in that we're not patient with navigational barriers that get between us and what a blogger is trying to say.

To serve both audiences, write shorter paragraphs, include subheads that signal what's about to come. That lets the reader see that he or she only has to read in small chunks. Lists are good. So is conversational text -- it engages the brain more actively than formal writing does.

And design is important. People do judge a book by it's cover and people decide whether to read a blog by how "easy and friendly" it looks.

Toby/Diva Marketing: That said what makes blogging different from traditional print communications?

Liz Strauss:: In print the writer has a conversation with the reader, but the reader isn't there to participate. Then the reader picks up the finished work and has a conversation with the writer, but again the conversation only goes one way. With a blog, the process starts when we hit "publish." Writer and reader meet and discuss ideas and the ideas change.

Toby/Diva Marketing: One of the push backs I hear about blogging is "I don't have time." In typical Liz fashion .. you don't hold back. You go over the top suggesting that people post not once a week .. not three times a week .. but once a day. Taking resources into consideration what are some of the benefits for writing that frequently?

Liz StrLiz_strauss___thesecrettowritingcovauss: Just so you know, what I tell new bloggers is to be consistent, write once a week, once every ten days, every day, every hour, but keep it the same. Readers and search engines respond most favorably to consistency.

Now about writing every day . . . people think that they have to put out a finished magazine article that takes hours and would pass any language teacher's scrutiny with high grades. Your teacher is not reading your blog. Blogging is about one idea per blog post, hopefully layered with a personal perspective.

The benefits of writing every day are that we become better communicators, better thinkers, better at learning how to use words to convey meaning. We get a voice that has power and substance. We learn to write the way we learn to play a guitar . . . any guitar teacher will tell you to practice every day.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Okay you've convinced us that blogging is worth the investment. Would give us some Liz Strauss tips on how to write effective, authentic posts?

Liz Strauss: Blog your experience. The Internet is full of information.

The unique offering on your blog is you.

Blog what you know about what you read, saw, or experienced and let me extrapolate how it applies to me. Write as if you were talking to me personally. Get it all down on paper before you change a word. Then go back when your idea is out of your head and where you can see it. Read what you wrote and take out all of the words that you don't need.

To find those extra words, read aloud what you write -- where you trip when you try to say things is where you need to look.

Toby/Diva Marketing: To wrap this interview can you share a few of Liz Strauss' Special Secrets to being a super successful at social media conversations?

Liz Strauss: Listen. Ask questions. Be interested in the other person. It's always about them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Liz's email signature line reads - Be irresistible. I think we can agree that Liz lives the words she writes.

A Virtual Home For All Auntie Mames!

07/10/2008

Lego's with 15 billion pieces, paint sets with glitter, cell phones for 5-year olds, drinking 553 pots of pretend tea and hours of playing video games, eating ice cream before, during and after meals, trips to the zoo, Disneyland and the aquarium that morph into clothes and make-up shopping trips to the mall, helping write college applications, talks about boys and girl friends and too soon creating resumes and helping to furnish that first apartment. And all the while falling more in love ..

No girlfriend, I'm not talking about parenthood. I'm talking about a world-wide unique relationship with children and their aunts or aunties. Who else would buy a Lego set with 15 billion pieces or give a child a painting kit with glitter and then with a twinkle in her eye wave bye bye telling children and parents to "have fun." Certainly not a grandmama.

In most of life's roles .. one needs a model. My own aunties are/were beyond wonderful but it was my friend "Auntie Polli" who taught me Auntie Lessons 101.  When my favorite niece Jessica Robyn (well okay my only niece Jessica Robyn) was born Auntie Polli had a 3-month head start with aunt-ing her nephew Michael.  It was Auntie Polli who lifted all limitations off Auntie-hood for me.

Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. Hands down it was Auntie Mame, with her zest for life and her passion for her nephew Patrick, who we gave the Auntie Tiara.  We knew we were loved, we knew we had an important role to play, we knew we made a difference in the lives of our nieces and nephews. But I'll let you in a on little secret .. sometimes even with all the joy - we felt something was missing in Auntieville.

Savvy_auntie Melanie Notkin knew that too. She saw more than a group of random women, young and old, married and not, with their own children or not, and understood that there was a fragmented community that could benefit from a social networking world.  SavvyAuntie was conceived .. the first online community for aunts.

Being a savvy marketer, Melanie knew something else. She had identified an untapped niche. After months of research, careful planning, new media marketing on the Savvy Auntie blog and Twitter - SavvyAuntie opened it's virtual doors yesterday.

The site is built around four channels: Expertise, Activities, Gifts and Community.

Expertise includes dozens of content experts from children's health and nutrition to  financial planning for Aunts who want to make their nieces and nephews their beneficiaries. Activities is where you can find zillions (well a lot!) of ideas for kids on a local level.  In Gifts you can filter/sort in unique ways from your niece's  favorite color to your nephew's must have pop culture character to your own auntie personality. 

What's a social network without a Community? Auntie's can hang out here. Build a profile, write a blog post, participate in groups and forums and read other member's stories about being an aunt in Aunthology.

So now Polli and Chris and Mary and Beth and Diva K and Kaye and Auntie Barbara and whether you call your self Aunt or Auntie or Tante or ...

tante or tatie - French
hindi  - Aunty
thea - Greek.
tia i- Spanish
姑母 - Chinese
nagynéni - Hungarian
tetka - Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian
teze - Albanian
عمة , خالة - Arabic
hala, teyze, yenge -Turkish
makcik - Malay
teta - Slovene, Czech, Slovak, Lithuanian
тётя - Russian
bibi - Indonesian
zia - Italian
tia - Portuguese
леля - Bulgarian
tante - Danish, Dutch, Latvian, Norwegian, German
faster, tant - Swedish
דּוֹדָה - Hebrew
täti - Finnish
ciotka - Polish
mătuşă - Romanian
น้า, ป้า, อาผู้หญิง - Thai
amita - Latin
خاله , عمه - Persian
Modryb i- Welsh.
khal'ti - Arabic
obasan or oba - Japanese
meemeh - Yiddish

.. we now have a community to call our own. In fact, I love what Melanie has done so much with Savvy Aunties that she asked me to be on the Advisory Board.

Want to know more about the back story? Eric Kuhn, The Huffington Post, has a great interview with Melanie. 

Social Media Marketing Musings .. What If ..

07/07/2008

Silhouette This morning I was standing in line at the post office when a senior women caught my eye. Her long beige checkered dress reached almost to the floor, her yellow flats would not have made their way into a Miss Meghan post but it was her hair carefully placed in an old fashioned hair net that caused me to pause in my thoughts.

Until the man in front of me turned to complain about the long wait. Although his white shirt was slightly damp from the Georgia humid morning air it still had the look of being freshly pressed.

Our conversation broke when we both turned to look at a little boy who was so very carefully carrying a large package to the clerk. His mother reached down to place it on the counter for him. Then she took his hand and together they left the post office.

Four random people conducting business in one place. Strangers for sure whose lives were unlikely to cross paths again. I wondered if it would have made a difference to any of them if they knew the clerk behind the counter. I wondered if they would have bought more stamps, shipped more packages or been more patient if they had read a Postal employee's blog. I wondered if it would have colored their world if the United States Post Office Service had a social media network. I don't know. Maybe yes .. probably not.

Social media does not work if there is not a common interest.

A mass marketing USPS blog or social media network would probably fall flat. But what if .. what if I wondered if the USPS created philatelic blog or a Facebook page for stamp collectors. Wonder if the USPS knows there are at least 65 Facebook groups about stamp collecting. What if .. what if I wondered if the USPS created a travel social network for parents where they could bring their their children.

The United States Postal Service does not need a SEO strategy nor does it need more awareness. However, it might benefit from building relationships with its customers. It might benefit from a look at Becky Carroll's blog Customers Rock or Stowe Boyd's post about web culture and relationships or the insights from Jenny Orr, a college student, who understands how the next generation will related to brands. What if .. what if I wondered if the USPS thought a little differently.

Img_0049jpg_parade__3_2 Ever watch a parade not from ground level but high above in a sky scraper? As appears to be tradition, yesterday the rains came down as the fun and colorful Atlanta Gay Pride Parade began. Instead of watching the festivities on the street Don and Peggy graciously opened their 16th floor home, in the newest of Atlanta's glass condos - The View, for an impromptu party. Doing things differently. Perception is reality.

My experience standing on line ?? in line ?? at the post office set off musing about taking the USPS "Social" .. but it could have been any brand, any company, any organization. Musings .. can take you to a place where you color outside the lines .. and that Girlfriend is a very good thing. Just ask Liz Strauss about social media and  crayons!  

What Constitutes A Successful Business Blog?

07/02/2008

Today's (where did yesterday go?) Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article based on a Forrester Research study. Forrester reviewed 90 enterprise blogs from the Fortune 500 list. The conclusion was that " ... most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.” A few stats from the WSJ article:

74% rarely get comments
70%  stuck to business or technical topics
56% simply regurgitated press releases or other already-public news
53% of B2B marketers say that blogging has marginal significance or is irrelevant to their strategies

What do you think of this?  - "..  the number of new corporate blogs among the companies Forrester tracks has dropped from 36 in 2006 to just three in 2008."

Guess reflects that over half of the people interviewed don't think much of blogs as a relevant strategy. I would like to understand how these organizations perceive blogs. Do they think that that blogs are simply websites that can "talk back?" What do they call success?

Success_way The first stat - 74% rarely get comments - is not a big surprise. The success of a social media strategy begins with identifying goals and objectives that support business outcomes. Often "comments" are not an indicator of success. It is very difficult for most business blogs to pull in a significant number of comments. What constitutes a good number of comments? 2? 10? 100? If you are using comments as a success metric I would caution you to proceed with care.

Sometimes the 'community' is uncomfortable posting. Within its niche Indium's Dr. Lasky's Blog is a highly successful corporate blog. Although Dr. Lasky does not receive a lot of comments he gets off-list emails. Ask RIck Short, director of marketing communication and he'll tell you that the 9 - yes ma'am count 'em 9 corporate blog has given Indium an edge and competitive advantage.

I find Forrester's own blog well done and informative, however you'll notice that most posts do not receive many comments. Question Charlene Li or Peter Kim or Jeremiah Owyang or John Cass .. does Forrester consider The Forrester Blog For Interactive Professionals a success? If so why or if not why keep on truckin'?

One B2B company that is pulling in comments is the president of M/A/R/C (omnicom group), Merrill Dubrow’s blog. Merrill engages his community in conversation that is often not “work related” which provides additional texture and interest to business only topics. One recent blog, Attention Researchers: What do you think of this type of research? received 46 comments. Not bad for a business blog you say .. amazing for a business blog I tell you.  I am still amazed that we are averaging over 13 comments per posting...... And I post 3 times a week........ thanks for getting us involved..... you were right and I was wrong ...... I didn't know how powerful this could be. Merrill Dubrow

Bloggy disclosure: M/A/R/C is a Diva Marketing client. Love when clients think you are right (smile!). It helps when clients are smart and open to innovation .. rather like Merrill.

What makes a successful business blog to you? By the way if you want to know anything about measurement drop by Katie Paine.

Thanks to Getentrepreneurial for the graphic.