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3 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Social Media Plan


Questions Ask two people if you should include social media as a part of your business communication strategy and you'll get at least three different answers.

MSN Business On Main offers an interesting post written by Polly Schneider Traylor Are You Wasting Your Time On Facebook and Twitter? Polly's post includes insights from a range of people working in B2B and B2C. She reminds us that for social media to be effective it circle backs to building a strategy that takes into account not only business goals (that can be measured) but understand where your customers are, as I like to say, hangin' out on the social web

Part of my due diligence in helping people create social media plans includes talking .. lots of talking. Well .. perhaps not so much talking on my side more so listening. 

I listen to the people within the organization. I listen to their customers/clients. I listen to what is happening in the "industry village" of their social web. This occurs before a decision is made on where to go or even if go. 

Everyone who has ever created a stratgic plan understands this first step is nothing new but it is a critical piece of the foundation. Not only is it important to understand the views and expectations from both employees and the people they service e.g., customers but it's often the first step in building cross department buy-in. Keep in mind social media is more than a new tool; for many it is a change in how they approach business .. internally and externally.

To help you structure the due diligence part of your planning here are a 3 Questions To Ask to get you started on the road to building a successful social media stategy. Of course you will include more in your guide that reflects your objectives, customer needs and industry. 

3 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Social Media Plan

1. What does social media mean to you? The answers may surprise you. You'll find some people will define social media by the tools e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. while others by the outcomes such as sharing information online. The insights from this one question are extremely valuable to help you understand the different orientations.

2. Who do you think is doing social media right and why? This question has a couple of benefits. First, it provides tangible insights into what the person thinks is of value. Second, if nothing comes to mind it is a red flag the person might not be as active in the social web as he indicated. Or it could be an indication that there is a gap in the industry when it comes to providing social media innovation.

3. What type of content would add value to you building your business? This seems like a no brainer but lots of surprises surface when you include the words add value to you. You're taking this into what I call the realm of selfless content that may not directly include information about the your brand or products or services. The result is a stronger parternship relationship. 

 Bonus Tip! If you feel that you have to jump in and justify or respond to the answers then you are not the right person to conduct this type of interview. The more you (or someone else) is able to stay objective .. to listen .. the more you'll learn. And the result is? Right! A Successful Social Media Plan.

I'd love to hear and to share with our communty other questions that people ask as part of their pre planning due dilegence. Drop a comment. Thanks!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MSN Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Social Media Does A Like = A Friendship?


Toby Bloomberg _Conference Atlanta
Today I had the honor of speaking about social media to a wonderful group of educators and people who work with children and school districts. Toss of a pink boa to Julie Hollis for coordinating a terrifc conference sponsored by Communites in Schools

This post was inspired by and dedicated to educators who are bravely stepping into an the exciting new world of social media; they're opening the doors for our children to learn in a different way. 

  • In order to develop meaningful relationships someone needs to take a risk. ~ Darcy Mullin, On Learning @darcymullin

I've spent the last couple of weeks preparing for this assignment by wandering about the "Social Media Education Village." I'm happy to report there is a vital, exciting, community where some innovative educators are doing creative work in the social web.

On the flip side, there are fears .. the same fears and concerns I've seen from people in other industries: negative comments, internal structure, governance, content, time and resources. Plus one more. How to keep our children safe in this new digital world that will be their home .. in one way or another.

It's a world where the importance of people-to-people connection is Not changing. However, how and where we communcate is different. Mobile smart phones and tablets are the baby steps to a generation beyond what we see now.

It's a world where the importance of keeping our children and ourselves safe is Not changing. However, how and where we create safe spaces and protect ourselves now includes the digital world .. which by the way, is just as real as offline.

It's a world where the importance of friendships is Not changing.  However, defining what friendship means when people we just met or who are friends of friends of friends want to connect with us. Or when a brand pretends to be a person and steps into the social networks where we have built community.  Do we have a new catagory of friend ...call it  "social friendship?"

It's a world where the importance of privacy or what we share is Not changing. However, determining how much and with whom is becoming blurred. Or when an brand's app demands data from us (that might invade the privacy of the people within our online communities) in exchange for playing their games or gaining their information.

 At the end of the day I wonder, does the technology change who we are and what we can expect from this new media life? Or does the technology in an oxymoron way take us one step closer to our humanity?  Does a Like = a friendship?

Thanks to Sherry Heyl for the intro.

Should You "Personal Brand" A Small Business?


Ellington surveys My sister Susan and I grew up with an extra family member who always had dinner with us, went on holidays with us and frequently competed for our parent's attention. We called it "The Business." 

My parents owned a small business, a marketing research company Ellington Surveys, in metro Boston. Although I joke about it, anyone who grew-up in a small business knows how The Business often does become an extention of your family. Even if you're good at balancing work/life it's always just around the corner. Sometimes barging in uninvited at the most inopportune times. 

I've always thought that starting a company was something you did after you had years of experience. However, often that's not the case. There are traits to success that may be even more critital: passion, a belief in your idea and the drive to "do it your way."

Erin Blaskie's post on MSN Business on MainStarting Up Right Out of College, speaks to the idea of the young entrepreneur. She offers a good check list of the pros and cons that are appropriate for anyone of any age who is considering starting on the small business path.

Once you've made the choice to go into business for yourself the mantra becomes "They will not come unless you tell them." You have another series of choices to make.

As a small business owner you have one additional decision, when it comes to branding and creating awareness, that your friends working on the other side of the street don't have to consider.

Do you build your reputation around the identify of The Business? Or do you build the reputation based on your personal brand?

In age of the digital footprint the lines are blurred. Even before you open your brick and mortor or virtual doors people can check you out. The exciting news is you have an opportunty, that my dad did not, to ensure that your personal brand, and by extention, your new biz is success ready.

Extra fun part .. You can win $100!

MSN Business On Main had given me $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly MSN!  

Your challenge: Drop a tip about how a small business owner can use social media to create awarenss PRE Launch. You can go personal branding route or not .. your choice. 

The idea that Max, I and special guest judge Anita Campbell choose will win 100 dollars! Just in time to create your Halloween costume. 

Anita Campbell_2When I think of people supporting small businesses the first person to come to mind is Diva Anita Campbell.

Anita is Founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of one of the most popular sites for small business owners .. Small Business Trends.  Check it out .. this vibrant community has more than 250,000 biz owners who drop by each month! Continue the conversation with Anita on Twitter and on Facebook

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Small Business Tips Contest 

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this MSN Business On Main Post. If you don't post on MSN BOM you are not part of the game.

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight October 7, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check?)

That's it .. now it's your turn!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MNS Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Read More About Entrepreneurship 

Colleges Offering A Degree in Entrepreneurship 

Fifty Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

Update! Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest and to the nice people who tweeted it out.  A special toss of a pink boa to Anita Campbell our special guest judge.

 and the winner is .. Nettie Hartsock of The Hartsock Agency!  

Nettie Hartsock_2

Here is Anita's reason why: I picked Nettie Hartsock's tip about following journalists on Twitter because it not only told you the general tip, but it gave specific tactics on how to do it.  It told you to check out muckrack.com and mediaite.com, identify journalists and start following them.  

A good tip tells you what to do -- but a great tip goes beyond general advice, and points you toward tactics to carry it out.  And besides, the comment is just good advice on maximizing Twitter for your business.

More Tips To Rock Customer Care


Drum beat please .. the winner of Becky Carroll's awesome book The Hidden Power of Your Customer is ....... Aimee Lucas" Becky chose the winner from comments dropped on her Diva Marketing  interview post. (Great interview check it out!) Becky Carroll Hidden-Power2

~ Aimee's comment rocks it out the most!" - Becky Carroll

My thanks to everyone who particiapted.

Meeting new people via social media is what makes this world rock for me. I love hearing people's stories.

Aimee Lucas When I reached out to Aimee I learned that she had a vested interested in customers rock. Aimee is the Associate Director at Crowe Horwath LLP where she leads the implementation of the firm's client experience strategy and oversees its Voice of the Customer program.  

Well, girlfriend, you know I couldn't let a wonderful opportuntiy to expand our learnings about how to rock out customer care even more go untapped. I asked Aimee if she would share some ideas with us.

Aimee Lucus: What I love about my work is how I am able to impact not only the client's experience but also the people experience inside the firm as I work to help our professionals understand clients better and more successfully deliver exceptional client experiences.

Three Tips To Rock Customer Care

In terms of three tips to rock customer service, I'm going to look at it from a few angles drawn out in the interview with Becky.

1. In terms of connecting employees with how they impact client service or experience: In addition to mapping the customer journey that is shared by the client and your organization, share the feedback coming in through your surveys and other VOC channels.  

Nothing helps our people understand what's important to clients more than when we share "actual comments from actual clients" and show them the difference they are making.

2. I would reiterate the point you made about caring relationships: Focus both on the functional and the emotional elements you deliver. 

High quality, timeliness, responsiveness are critical in our work and cannot be overlooked, but it's as important to ensure that we connect emotionally with our clients - make it clear they are valued and get to know them personally. We want to wrap the technical work we're doing with a relationship that delivers value to the client as an individual, as well as to their organization.

3. Lastly, "keep it simple" - big wins can come from little actions, often little actions that demonstrate that emotional connection. 

To quote Dennis Snow, take the small step in moving from a task mentality to an experience mentality by making one small change and it can elevate the entire interaction.  It becomes more rewarding to both the person being served and the person who is delivering the service.

There's a great video he's done that's on YouTube where he goes into this point: Creating Magical Customer Experiences

Thanks Aimee .. bet you didn't think you'd really have to work for your book (smile). However, my thoughts are that this wasn't really work but passing along, what is evident, a passion for you.

 Continue the conversation ..

Aimee on Twitter

Becky on Twitter

Toby on Twitter

In Between The Silence & Words 9-11


9-11 In between the silence and words and tears are rememberances ..

That 9-11 is personal.

In between the silence and words and tears are rememberneces ..

That 9-11 is people. 

In between the silence and words and tears are rememberances ..

That 9-11 is fortitide of the human spirt. 

In between the silences and words and tears are rememberances ..

That 9-11 belongs to all the citizens of the world.

In between the silences and words and tears are rememberances .. 

That 9-11 is _________ what is in your  ♥.

In between the silences and words and tears are rememberance .. 

That 9-11 must be about our future. 

9/11 Memorial

All The Single Girlfriends Honors 9-11.

Interview with Becky Carroll Author of The Hidden Power of Your Customers


Becky Carroll_2 Traditionally customer service has been perceived as a necessary business function whose purpose is to appease unhappy customers.

Becky Carroll believes differently. She thinks customers rock and caring for your customer is one of the joys of doing businss. 

With the onset of social media, savvy companies like Dell, Zappos and your neighborhood food truck are learning servicing the customer can be a critical strategy; and sets you apart from your competiton.

That's what Becky's new book, The Hidden Power of Your Customers, is all about. 

In Brian Solis’ foreword to The Hidden Power of Your Customers, there is one line that especially resonated with me. “With the emergence of social media, we are given not just a right to engage but a rite of passage to earn relevance.” Relvancy and customer service .. a novel idea!

Becky Carroll kindly shares her innovative, but it makes sense, approach to building a “Customers Rock” focused company. 

Diva Marketing/Toby: I would imagine a Customer Rocks company takes coordination, alignment and team work that many organizations may not have in place. What would you tell those companies where departments are silo-ed or where employees may never have thought of their role as being part of customer service?

Becky Carroll: You are right, Toby, it does take quite a bit of coordination inside an organization to create an integrated approach to customers – whether that’s in customer service, marketing, sales, or any other customer-facing function. Company silos can create inconsistent messaging and treatment for and of customers.

To answer your question, I often recommend those companies create a customer experience map of their interactions with customers. Described in my book, this mapping of company transactions helps to do two things. 

First, since the map takes the customer’s perspective, it reveals how different internal organizations come together (or not) to impact the customer experience.

When cross-functional teams sit down and analyze this map, they usually find opportunities for process improvements, as well as areas of best practice, that will ultimately make the business more efficient, as well as more effective for the customer.

Second, a customer experience map can also help employees who are not “customer facing” to understand how their roles ultimately impact the customer experience. The map includes data and process inputs and outputs from different organizations, so employees can visually see where their outputs feed into customer interactions.

This understanding, along with cross-organizational metrics that help drive customer focus across all employees, can help everyone understand how they are a part of “taking care of customers”.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Becky, including multiple departments or business units in supporting customer service begs the question, “Who owns the service to the customer?”

Becky Carroll: As you can see from my answer above, I firmly believe that every employee participates and ultimately owns the service of the customer. Some employees interact directly with the customer to provide this service; others are serving fellow employees across departments, which empowers them to perform their customer-facing roles effectively – from the customer’s perspective.

Employee metrics focused on customer service will help make drive employee behaviors to support customer-focused initiatives.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The irony of social media is that we began this journey with a focus on bringing people together .. customers and the staff behind the brand.  However, frequently it seems the objective is not building relationships but in how many friends, likes, followers and now 1+ a brand can accumulate.

You turn the tables and advise us to be your customer’s fan (love it!). How do we get out of the "collecting numbers mindset?" 

Becky Carroll: Social media practitioners get into the habit of collecting numbers when they view social media as another place to run campaigns.

Social media is not a campaign – it is a strategy to build relationships.

When a company creates a social media strategy that is based on business goals, such as increasing customer share of wallet, as well as based on improving customer relationships (which can include prospects, too), rather then simply tracking “traffic” to social media properties (likes, followers, etc), we begin to move out of the campaign-mindset.

It also helps executives to better understand what we are doing with social media when we talk to them in terms of business goals and metrics as opposed to the much-touted social media “numbers”.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  I’ve used social media to call companies out and also to tell companies their service or product rocks. Sometimes I’ve been acknowledged and sometimes I have not. I must admit that when I don’t get a response, but notice that other people are getting special treatment I feel slighted. How does a company scale Customers Rock service?

Becky Carroll: Customer service via social media scales best when it is part of a customer-focused culture. This type of culture is created by company management as they model servant leadership towards their employees.

When employees, all employees, see how it looks to serve others in the organization, they learn how to serve customers.  Once everyone at the company understands how customer service is everyone’s job, and this is supported by management and metrics, employees will be empowered to treat all customers well – both in social media as well as in other customer-facing channels.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  I agree with you .. at the end of the day it is all about the people on both side of the equation: customers and employees. As our friend Sybil Stershic reminds us although most product and services can easily become commoditized relationships built on caring service are more difficult to duplicate. 

After you’ve listened (Chapter 1) and understand your customers’ need what is the first step to take in becoming a Customers Rock company?

Becky Carroll: The first step in becoming a Customers Rock company is to create a customer strategy. Companies have marketing strategies, social media strategies, and product strategies – but how many of them have a strategy for how they will treat their customers? This strategy needs to be thought-through carefully and embraced at all levels of the organization.

It should incorporate all four keys described in the book – Relevant Marketing, Orchestrated Customer Experience, Customer-Focused Culture, and Killer Customer Service – in order to create a strategy that can unlock the hidden power of your existing customers.

 Diva Marketing/Toby:  Becky, the Diva Marketing virtual stage is yours. Wrap it up any way you like.

Becky Carroll: I would just encourage organizations not to take their current customers for granted. They have more power than you think to help grow your business. And it’s not really hard – start with a thank you for being our customer!

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of Diva Marketing, Toby. You rock! Becky Carroll Hidden-Power2

Becky totally rocks too .. in fact she gave me a copy of The Hidden Power of Your Customer to give away.

If you want the book drop a comment and let me know why.

Becky will choose the comment that she thinks rocks it out!

Update: Contest deadline is midnight Friday 9 Sept 2011.

Continue the conversation with Becky!

Customers Rock



The Hidden Power of Your Customers


Update: Becky Carroll chose Aimee's comment as the winner. As an extra bonus for us ~ Aimee graciously agreed to tell us her 3 top customer rock tips .. skip over to this post! Thanks to everyone who participated!

 Bloggy disclaimer: Becky kindly comped me a copy of her book.