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Big Brand Customer Intimacy Without Brand Conversations


Brand-alphabet  In a recent eMail volley with twenty-something Jason Stershic, Spectyr Media, Jason posed an interesting question - 

  • "How do you humanize Coke, Pepsi ESPN? I follow them but I don't expect a human connection, is that part for the course for most users following corporations?" 

My views about social media are fairly traditional, if you can use that word for a strategy that is nano seconds old. I believe the value of social media occurs when the people behind the brand step out from the brand shadows and actively listen (active listening is a 2-way communication!) to their customers and other stakeholders. The result is what has become a social media cliche - people-to-people relationships versus a relationship with an inanimate object or brand. 

Over the past six years I've talked to thousands of people about social media. I'm always curious to understand - What does social media mean to you? For the most part, people told me social media is ... as Tim Jackson said, "Connecting with people" or as Connie Reece put it, " It's all about the relationship."

However, when it comes to Big Brands Jason doesn't expect a "human connection." I wonder .. can a Big Brand create customer intimacy with millions by using the tools of the social media world? 

When Richard Binhammer or Lionel Menchaca - Dell or Frank Eliason - past Comcast now Citi or Tony Hsieh respond to @tweets or comment on blog posts it's a 1:1 interaction. Since they communicate in the digital public square their conversations are overheard by thousands if not by millions. By default that opens the communication to whomever is listening in. 

Perhaps those people RT (retweet) or add a status up to their Facebook page or write blog posts or even take it offline at office water cooler conversations. Through people who were not involved in the initial discussions the perception of the brand's humanity is expanded. Without that initial direct to brand customer conversation, can a brand still create customer intimacy through social media?  

Duncan Wardel, vice president Disney, agrees that social media provides new avenues to create dialog with consumers. However, he also has another view of how brands will use social media. He told me that he sees one of the biggest trends is - 

  • ".. allowing consumers to talk with one another .. establishing a platform to really allow your brand evangalists to reach out to other people that you won't be able to reach .. as consumers have an inceasing ability to screen out brands they no longer consider relevant." Video

What do you think? Does a Facebook page or a peer-to-peer crowd sourced campaign, supported by a brand, but with little or no brand engagement, help to create the humanity of the brand? Do you expect to have direct conversations with the people from brands you follow? Can only peer-to-peer interactions create raving fans?

Social Media Inspired By CREWTeens


Inspiration can materialize at the oddest moments. We round a corner and Zap! something unexpected takes hold of our hearts and imaginations. That's exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago.  

I walked into a classroom at the Drew Charter School in the East Lake area of Atlanta .. very Hot'lanta today! .. fully expecting to meet a group of smart teens. However, 3-hours later I walked out of the building inspired and energized. The students in the East Lake Foundation's CREWTeens summer program were beyond just smart .. they were amazing! 

My dear friend Mary Dugenske - the awesome director of marketing & communication - invited me to be a guest speaker for the Tweet This program. The course explores how social media and the digital world are impacting advertising, marketing and journalism. Jana Broadie, the instructor, not only brings heart but soul and humor to the class.She's created an environment where learning is interesting and fun. 

The assignment that I was given was to help the students understand the differences, and similarities, of using Twitter for personal and business purposes. We started the session off with a jar of jelly beans to demonstrate that the same could be different. Of course in order to really get the concept many jelly beans had to be consumed!

A lot of the students were using social media from Facebook and Twitter to YouTube, MySpace and Ning. While munching on jelly beans we explored why. The reason: to keep in touch with friends. At the end of morning we came to the conclusion that brands had a similar purpose to be involved in social media. The reason: to connect with customers.

Some of the most significant dfferences we decided were that brands develop a strategy and content direction. We talked about the importance of knowing who you wanted to talk to (identifying customers) and how to add value while representing the brand. All in 140 characters! 

East Lake Foundation CREWTeens Tweet This

View more presentations from Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing.

Yup .. you never know where you'll find inspiration. Could even be from a tweet by a CREWTeen student. Worthy of a RT, don't you think?


Read more about the East Lake Foundation in an interview Mary Dugenske did with Diva Marketing.

Twitter Twisted Recipes For The Fourth of July


Peachtree road race 2010 t shirt  Celebrations for the Fourth of July are wrapped in tradition. In Hot'lanta the 41st Peachtree Road Race again closed Peachtree Street in Buckhead through Midtown to accommodate 55,000 runners, joggers and power walkers. 

Tonight there will be over 800,000 people, with blankets and picnics at the Esplanade on the Charles River, who will enjoy a night of Boston Pops, fireworks and @craigyferg

There will also be millions who will turn on the grill and kick back with family and friends. Kids will be running through sprinklers, jumping into pools or building sand castles on the beach creating their own memories of the day.  Fourth of july charles river  

Although the day is framed with the familiar there are often a few new elements that occur. Maybe it's a surprise guest to your BBQ. Perhaps it's an unexpected fireworks design. Or did you set a new time for the Peachtree? 

  • Social media is a little like that. It takes the traditions of strategy, segmentation, customer insights, branding, service and wraps it in something new .. authentic digital conversations.

To celebrate the Fourth of July I've taken a few of my favorite traditional recipes and added a dash of social media spice by turning them into Twitter recipes. This July 4th Twitter Menu also includes a few recipes from foodie tweeters - Martha Stewart @marthastewart, Julie Tharalson @foodierd, and Lucy Waverman @lucywaverman. Enjoy! 

Twitter recipes_2
Twitter recipe_ h20 mellon  
 Read more - Martha Stewart's Twitter Recipes complied by Diva Marketing.

Extreme DIY Social Media Media Blogger Relations Training For PR/Ad Agencies


Press pass _toby
I really like the beat you cover
began one pitch that recently dropped into my inbox. 

Seems that PR people think that I am a media outlet.  Sort of funny.  However, at this juncture in the evolution of social media and blogger relations, sort of sad and frustrating that too many agencies still don't  understand the "human side" of "social." All they see is "media." 

One could make a case that most marketing and public relations higher education courses don't cover earned media well if at all. One could make a case that social media is new and many people are at the initial stages of learning. One could make a case that blogs appear to be a type of public information and leap to the conclusion that content creators are another type of reporter. 

One could come up with a whole bunch of excuses. But Girlfriend, if you don't fix the broken heel of your favorite Jimmy Choos you'll hobble along forever. Or something like that.  How do you "social media fix" a PR agency or ad agency? With a little training and a walk in a blogger's stylish shoes. 

Abc_1  For now forget the listen to the conversation. Forget the build the relationship first. If you've ever stepped your polished purple toes into the social media waters you've heard that at least a zillion times. Guess you didn't get it. 

We're changing Nike's Just Do It into "YOU do it" with Extreme DYI Social Media Blogger Relations Training For Agencies (and anyone else). It's not easy. It does take time. It's based on at least 2 people or 2 teams participating. It's not for the whiners. 

If you succeed at the end of the course .. you buy me my next pair of Jimmy Choos. If not I'll buy you a drink when your boss says the famous Donald Trump words - You're Fired!

Extreme DYI Social Media Blogger Relations Training - A Four Week 12 Step Program

Week One - Understanding Social Media 

Step 1 Read: Social Media Marketing GPS, my free eBook for an over view of social media. How long can that take to read it was based on 140 character tweets?  Follow that with: The Hyper-Social Organization, Naked Conversations, The Digital Handshake The New Rules of Marketing and PR - Second Edition. Look out for Nettie Hartsocks' soon to be released book Kiss Your Publisher Goodbye -- reading her blog is a good idea too.

Weeks Two, Three & Four - A Walk In A Blogger's High Fashion Shoes

Step 2 - Create 2 teams 

Step 3 - Read Pulse of the Industry Blogger Relations Series Parts i, ii, iii, iv and v

Step 4 - Read Susan Getgood's Blog with Integrity guidelines

Step 5 - Create a blog on any topic that you can sustain for three weeks. The graphical look and feel must complement your subject. Add at least 10 blogs that write about similar topics to you blog roll. 

Step 6 - Write a minimum of 3 well thought out posts per week for the next 3 weeks

Step 7 - Comment on other blogs at a minimum of 3 times per week. 

Weeks Three & Four

Step 8 - Pitch A Blogger

Step 9 - Develop a minimum of 4 pitches per week that you will send ONLY to the people who are participating in the Extreme DIY Social Media Blogger Relations Training with you.

Step 10 - For each pitch you receive do one or more of the following actions: a. reply back; b. post to your blog; c. do nothing; e. other .. you decide. Track your actions for each pitch. 

Week Four

Step 11 - Provide feedback to your colleagues on their pitches including how you responded and why.

Step 12 - What did you learn? How did you feel about response to your pitches? What will you put into practice in your next blogger relations campaign? Did you color outside the lines .. do more than was suggested? What?

Happy Graduation!  Jimmy choo_1