5 Ways to Build Online Authority Using Content Marketing - A Guest Post By Paul Chaney


Diva Marketing's 12th Birthday celebration continues with a very special post written by the first blogger I met IRW (in the real world) -- Paul Chaney!

FullSizeRender-1One of the biggest lessons I've learned in 12 years of blogging and being active in digital communities is real relationship can and do happen online.

As in offline, digital friendships are built through common interests, kindness, support when times are shaky and celebrations when good things happen. If you are lucky you get to take online offline.

Paul and I have collaborated on several projects including developing and facilitating training programs for the American Marketing Association. I am honored and touched that Paul offered to write an original post to celebrate Diva Marketing's anniversary. 

About Paul Chaney

Paul is an online marketing consultant, editor, writer, and author with more than 20 years experience in the digital marketing space. He’s written four books that cover the topics of business blogging, social media marketing, and social commerce, the most notable of which is entitled "The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media," published by John Wiley and Sons in 2009.

He is currently a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and also maintains a client-base of small to mid-size companies. Paul is a sought-after speaker on 1934055_120542921111_1037348_n
digital and marketing topics. Oh yes, and an accomplished musician! 

5 Ways to Build Online Authority Using Content Marketing

As a marketer, business owner, or entrepreneur, it's vital that you have a high degree of authority online so that when people search for you by name, they discover you (as opposed to someone else with your name).

But, it’s just as important that they find an impressive resume and portfolio to accompany your presence.

One of the best ways to establish your online authority is through the use of content marketing.

Here are five ways to go about it.

  1. Erect a Digital Home Base

The first step toward building authority is to create a website — a place you can call home. It's where people will go to learn more about you and where you have the best opportunity to convert visitors to customers or clients.

Just as you would not construct your house on rented land, you wouldn’t want to build your online authority on digital real estate that you don't own, such as a social network. Having a presence on social media is necessary, but you can incur risk by staking your claim there, as opposed to a web property that’s all yours.

Many companies offer web design services, both of the do-it-yourself variety and those that will create the site for you. Your available time and budget will likely determine which route you take.

  1. Claim Your Domain Name

If you aim to develop a personal brand, it's important to have a domain name that uses your name (i.e., YourName.com).

It's feasible that someone may have already claimed a domain with your name — in my case, the domain PaulChaney.com was taken years ago — but with the prevalence of new generic top level (gTLDs) and country-code domains such as .co, .us, .online, .services, and many more, there is no shortage of options from which to choose.

Pick the one that most closely resembles what you offer, or that best represents your area of expertise and go from there.

  1. Create Content in the Form of a Blog

I believe strongly that well-written, keyword-optimized, topically-relevant, frequently-updated content will not only improve your standing on Google but will also establish your authority and credibility in the eyes of customers and prospects.

Writing in your "sweet spot," that zone where you can clearly demonstrate deep expertise, will doubtless cause your stature to rise. And one of the best ways to create such content is through a blog.

Someone said that the word "blog" is an acronym for "Better Listings On Google," and I firmly believe it. I've seen time and time again the benefits blogging can provide from a search engine optimization standpoint. It also helps to trademark you as a subject-matter expert in the mind of the consumer — the "go-to" person for your industry.

Most website content management systems incorporate a blog component. Many, such as WordPress (arguably the most popular CMS on the market), are built on blogs as the foundation of the platform.

  1. Actively Participate in Social Media

You can't afford to bypass social media if you hope to grow a strong, authoritative brand. That doesn't mean you have to be everywhere, however, just on those networks where you are most likely to encounter your target market.

Let's examine the benefits of using the most popular networks:

  • If you provide products or services to other businesses, LinkedIn is where you want to be. It's a B2B network where conducting business is not frowned upon.
  • Facebook can be useful from the standpoint of letting people get to know you on a personal level. It's a social network in the truest sense and a place where you can "let your hair down" and be yourself. Just use good judgment when publishing content and making comments.
  • Let's not forget about Twitter. It's no longer considered a social network but a news and information network where you can share your content and content created by others.
  • YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest. Three other networks — YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest — aren't purely "social" networks either. Even though they have social aspects — the ability to comment, share, and like, for example — they are, in reality, more like "content" networks where you upload and archive videos and images.

A good rule of thumb for any content you create, whether written or visual, is to share it in as many places as possible. It's what the social media expert Chris Brogan calls your "media empire."

Given that these networks, however you classify them, are accessed by millions of people daily, you stand a much better chance of getting your message seen than by sequestering it on your website.

Think of it as a hub and spokes arrangement. You create content on your site, and then syndicate it to these networks, where users can find it more easily. Just be sure to include links back to your site, to drive traffic.

The main thing, where social networks are concerned, is to maintain an active presence. Create and curate content that you share in the form of tweets and status updates, and then interact with fans and followers via retweets, @mentions, responses to comments, and shares of content created by others.

The more active you are, the better your chances of impacting your audience with your message, and growing your reputation and authority right alongside.

  1. Create Strong Website and Social Network Profiles

The "About" page is one of the first places people will go when visiting your website. The information it contains is an excellent way to show your audience who you are and why they should trust you. The same holds true for your social network profiles.

An essential part of the About page is your bio. The following tips, from dlvr.it, a social sharing platform, talk about how to write a bio that will help confirm you as a trust agent.

Decide on the tone you want to take when writing a bio.

Should your bio be serious, cool and professional, or should it have a personal flair where you, perhaps, mention your family? Also, should you inject humor or maintain a more serious tone?

Identify the audience you want to reach.

When preparing to write a bio, clearly identify the audience that you're attempting to influence. That step alone can help dictate your tone.

Inject some personality.

Even professional bios should include something that displays your personality. Here’s a short bio example that does just that:

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.11.06 AM

Write in the first person.

Writing in the first person will make your bio more intimate and personal, but it is also a matter of preference and taste that depends on the tone you take and the audience that you’re addressing.


Building online authority using content marketing requires that you:

  • Have a home base in the form of a website;
  • Claim your domain name;
  • Share your expertise in a blog;
  • Participate actively in social media;
  • Have a bio that showcases your skill set and personality.

There are other steps you can take, such as setting up an email newsletter or writing a whitepaper, but those are "add-ons" that amplify your presence. Start with these five essentials to lay a sound basis for establishing your authority, and then build on it from there.

Connect with Paul Chaney! Twitter | LinkedIn |


Is Your Personal Brand Attracting the Right Audience?


SouthWired LogoThis week it was my honor to present at South Wired 14, formerly known as Digital Atlanta. South Wired is the longest on-going social media/digital marketing conference in Atlanta. It was my pleasure to share the stage, as co-presenters, with Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe.

Toby and Dorothea SouthWired 14

South Wired is 5 days packed with smart people talking about issues of how to succeed in the ever changing and challenging world of digital marketing. Dorothea and I spent hours discussing what we could bring to the party that might be a little different and add value for the attendees.

Our conversations led us to explore the complexies people are facing with eco-systems from multiple social networks. With each network you participate in from tier one e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkin, YouTube, Pinterest to tier two e.g. Instagram, SnapChat, Jelly, dating sites, etc,  .. you get the drift .. you attract and build an audience. You set expectations. 

We wondered .. is your personal brand attracting the right audience? That was it we had found our direction! We'd start at ground zero, or the heart of social media, the people. 

During the course of the session we handed out little napkins (social = fun!) and asked attendees to diagram their social eco-systems. Some people were surprised at the extent of their social network eco-systems. It was a fun exercise and Madison Harris even shared hers on Twitter

South Wired 14 _Madison Harris

We talked about how privacy is an illusion on the social web, how anything can be hacked and so much more. Dorothea and I are happy to share the deck with you.

Make sure you check out the last section Managing Outside Your Zone. There are tips and ideas and a worksheet I developed that will you define who to follow/friend and the extent of person information you want to share on specific social networks. 


Is Your Personal Brand Attracting The Right Audience Presented At SouthWired14 from Diva Marketing (Blog)

So, I ask you .. what does your social network eco-system look like? Are you attracting the right audiences?

Happy to answer any questions!

Toss of pink boa to Brian Rudolph, Candance McCaffery and their team of amazing volunteers and sponsors for coordinating and managing SouthWired14.

Beyond The Ink Smudge To Digital Relevancy


Edgerton reporter"Always in motion is the future”– Yoda 

She was the daughter. That meant she was a second generation newspaper publisher.

Diane Everson, publisher of The Edgerton Reporter in Edgerton, WI wasn’t the only one whose newspaper spanned generations at the 2014 Inland Press Mobile and Social Solutions Conference last month.

In the room, where I had the pleasure of talking about social media in newspapers, were people who had a passion for their papers and their industry.

As I quickly learned, running a weekly or small community newspaper is not unlike owning a small business. Except ... whatever you do is always front and center in the town you serve.

Like many small business owners, nonprofits and yes, larger brands, publishers struggle with how to critically and strategically enter the 21st century digital and social content world. Except ... they face an interesting dilemma when it comes to online content. As do radio and TV.

Actually, digital content strategy is a challenge facing any company whose ‘product’ is information. In the Interweb and social media, where free content is expected there is a haunting question.

  • How much do you ‘give away’ and what do you hold as a revenue stream? 

Even before you can answer that question there are foundational aspects of social media that must be in place. I built the deck to, as they say in the foodie world, deconstruct the elements.

  • Each element in a digital/social media plan must beautifully stand alone before it can be (re)constructed or as marketers might say integrated.

We looked at social through the lens of the brand, journalists and advertisers. I led the group through an exercise that I called “What is different?” We reviewed four media websites: newspaper, TV, radio and online publisher. Our conclusion was the content was so similar we couldn’t identify the media type and it didn't matter which site we were on to just get information. 

Lesson learned: Online content of media companies appears to be all-the-same. 

Question: How can the strengths of the newspaper industry at-large and your specific newspaper be used to created “Now I care content or stories” that are so unique and audience-relevant your community wants to socially share?

We looked at how newspapers, as a brand, engages with their communities. We discoved - not so much. Traditional culture of the media is to identify and tell the stories they feel are most important.

Social media takes radio, TV and newspapers into a far different and often uncomfortable world. It shouldn't be a big surprise to find many, especially smaller newspapers, challenged in how to balance those worlds. 

Lesson learned: Social Media is used as a content distribution channel not as a ‘community communication channel.’ Newspaper publishers were reluctant to step out and ‘talk’ with their readers .. people-to-people.

Question: How can the brand step out from the behind the logo and talk to their readers online -- as they do offline at events and networking meetings?

In 1884, the Boston Globe's Confidential Chat was building community among women, and a few dudes in the greater Boston area. So I say ... go even further back to your roots newspaper peeps and learn from yourself! 

Confidential Chat Boston Globe

Sidebar: This a real clip that I found in my mom's recipe box. She saved it for many years so I assume it must have held meaning for her. How long does your content 'stay around?'  Or is it the digital equivalent of newspaper used to wrapped fish and chips? 

Newspaper fish and chips

We looked at journalists and their special challenges in producing social content and community engagement. We saw engagement but on a closer review it was frequently among their peers not with their community.

Lessons learned: Passion about the topic is important to sustain long-term participation on the social web. Social media writing especially, short tweets, can be a challenge of long-form story training.

Questions: How can journalists sustain a social conversation over time while holding true to the values of their newspapers and their personal brands? How can opinion tweets and posts be included .. or can they?

And there was more so I'm happy to shaing the deck with you. There are several worksheets that might be helpful as you build out systems and process for your plan. Some will help to align with what social media means to your company and how it can support overarching goals.

Hat tip to Mr. Ray Marcano, CanisDigital, for recommeding me for this exciting gig; and Patty Slusher, Inland Press for her support. 

Read More: Amy Gahran, How Early Newspaper to Web Technology Crippled News Industry's Thinking 

Now that we've gone through some deconstructing the next question is -- How will you construct your social media world? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.

Interview with Tamar Rimmon: Analytics Without The Glazed Over Look


Part Two of a series of interviews with Adobe Digital and Social Media Summit Speakers & Attendees. 

Tamar Rimmon, Conde Nast, tells us how her team provides meaningful insights to senior managment and internal clients that support the brand's goals. 

Tamar Rimmon _ Conde NastAbout Tamar Rimmon - Tamar is Senior Manager of Analytics and Audience Development at Conde Nast. She works with Conde Nast’s brands – including The New Yorker, Glamour, and WIRED – helping them deliver unique brand experiences for their audiences and drive engaged users to their sites. Tamar’s career spans the television, publishing and digital media industries.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As Senior Manager of Analytics and Audience Development your days are filled with numbers. Often the people that ask for analytic reports may not live in your world. How do you tell the story of the numbers so your internal clients don’t get the ‘glazed over look?’

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: My team’s goal is to help guide brand strategy by providing meaningful insights to our internal clients. I found that the best way to bring value is to get into my clients’ shoes and understand what matters most to them.

The story should not be about the numbers in and of themselves – it should be about what the numbers tell us regarding the things that are important to our clients, and how they can make better decisions by leveraging these learnings. I’m also a big believer in data visualization.

Presenting the numbers in a visual way is a great way to convey insights and make the data accessible and easier to grasp even to those who are not experts in analytics.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We understand that measuring success starts with goals/objectives. However, sometimes is seems like “data data everywhere and not a drop to drip.” (Apologizes to  Samuel Taylor Coleridge). How have you determined which analytics to focus on in terms of demonstrating value to senior leadership?

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: It's easy to get overwhelmed by data overload, but we have to be in control of the data instead of letting the data control us. Analytics must be derived from and aligned with the goals of the organization.

Conde Nast has always been focused on creating high quality content that caters to valuable audiences, so we structure our analytics around this objective. My focus is on harnessing the analytics to understand who our high-value audiences are, how they behave, and what we need to do to engage and delight them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is a must bring to Adobe Summit for you?

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: A notepad! (mine is digital, though…) Adobe Summit is a great opportunity to meet fellow analysts and marketers and learn about all the innovative things they are doing. I like to keep track of the new ideas that I hear about and the thoughts they inspire in me, and I make sure to bring it all back with me to the office when the Summit is over.

Tamar's Adobe Social Sessions: Social ROI all star panel & The rise of the social analyst

This Diva Marketing post is part of an influencer Adobe Insider program for Adobe Summit. I receive incentives to share my views. All opinions are 100% mine.

Interview with Cory Edwards: Creating Social Business Structures


One of the benefits of a biz blog is sometimes 'fair trade' agreements. Recently Adobe reached out and asked if I would be part of a 4-member Insider group, along with Travis Wright, Elizabeth Osmeloski, Michele Kiss, that would help socialize their digital marketing conference next week .. Adobe Summit. Sounded like good learnings to share. With over 5000 attendees sounded like a biz carnival! Sounded like fun.

Adobe also offered introductions to speakers and attendees who are doing innovative work in digital/social. More good learnings for us. And I've never been to Salt Lake City so I said. "Yes" to the opportunity.

Part One of a series of interviews with Adobe Digital and Social Media Summit Speakers & Attendees. First up .. Cory Edwards from Abode who provides his insights about how to build a Center or Excellence that is more than just a shiny new toy.

Corey Edwards _AdobeAbout Cory Edwards - Corey is head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence. He is responsible for integrating social media into the way Adobe does business. Prior to Adobe, Cory was director of social media at Dell. Cory is also an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Social Centers of Excellence have become the new ‘must have’ for many organizations. How do you ensure that a company’s center of excellence is a true business tool and not the latest shiny new toy that is here today and gone tomorrow?

Cory Edwards/Adobe: Structure. And I agree with you, far too often companies establish a CoE but frankly don’t institute it with a framework to guide it successfully. While we often refer to our own group as a CoE, I often define it to people internally as an operations group.

If you think of more structured business functions like sales or marketing, they almost always also have a corresponding sales operations team or a marketing operations team. Thinking of social in that light isn’t a bad way to approach a CoE function. It is a corporate function that is focused on creating and maintaining a smooth operation for the social business.

There are a few things that need to happen in my opinion to be successful. First, businesses need to be social by design — that idea lends itself to having a CoE. Secondly, the business needs to parallel path the ‘doing’ of social media with the back-end internal social operation. For Adobe, our back-end social operation is built upon a foundation with 4 core pillars: 

1. Governance (Policies, processes, audits, account management & security, alignment with business units, etc.)

2. Enablement (Training of social media teams & employee base, employee activation, consulting, working with regions, etc.)

3. Measurement (data driven insights, measurement frameworks, Dashboard, Listening research, etc.)

4. Innovation (disruptive pilots to existing business processes, vendor/tool evaluation, identifying needs within the business, POV on industry changes, close ties with the social networks, etc.)

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that an organization can become a ‘social business’ without the concept incorporated into the company’s overarching strategic direction? Please explain your response.

Cory Edwards/Adobe: That may depend a bit on the company and its industry, but from my perspective it would be awfully difficult to become a social business without that concept incorporated into the company’s direction. That doesn’t mean the company needs to come out and overtly restate its mission so that it includes social, but it does mean that social really is an influencing factor in corporate strategy and various functional strategies (marketing, support, product development, talent acquisition, etc.).

Executives who want to establish a social business should be aware of social trends, open to social insights and willing to explore how the integration of social within various business functions can potentially disrupt the normal way of doing business in a way that might improve it. At Adobe, it has helped tremendously to have two key champions of social: our CEO Shantanu Narayen and our CMO Ann Lewnes, both of whom have stated clearly that they want to see Adobe become one of the most social brands in the world. And believe me, it’s not simply talk, they regularly talk about it, ask about it, provide feedback and generally want to know what we’re doing now and next. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is a must bring to Adobe Summit for you?

Cory Edwards/Adobe: Two things: 1- Evernote. I’m a big fan and user for both my work and personal life. 2- Fitbit Force. If I’m going to be walking all those long halls at Summit, I want to make sure I’m getting exercise credit for it. Just think of how many steps I can rack up each day next week!

Cory's Adobe Summit Session - How to operate a social by design business. 

Follow Cory on Twitter @CoryEdwards

This Diva Marketing post is part of an influencer Adobe Insider program for Adobe Summit. I receive incentives to share my views. All opinions are 100% mine.

Being At The Social Media Party You Could Not Attend


I am still learning. ~ Michaelangelo

GraduationCapToss Tossing our graduation caps into the air doesn't mean our education is over. Instead it signals a different type of learning. It's a learning that we now pursue without the structure of a formal syllabus .. which is constructed by someone whose ideas of what we need to know may not be the same as our own.

Especially in a field that is emerging, like social media marketing, it's important to learn from peers who are willing to share real life experiences. Traditional books, publications and industry associations were always the main stay. Then the world wide web added articles and content we could access 24/7/365.

However, it's the social web that is the game changer. Social media is providing peer-to-peer exchanges, through tweets, blog posts/comments and status ups.

We now have access to, dare I say the word .. industry experts. Frequently, these "pros" (in the truest sense of the word), who we might have seen at a conference or read their books, are giving us more ... free and freely. Via social web content they are providing additional value; often they join in community discussions and answer specific questions. 

One of my favorite ways people are creating nontraditional learning experiences is sharing information from conferences through tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, etc. Call it being at the party you couldn't attend

Tweet_laurencoppage feeling like there

Recently I had the honor of chairing the AiMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association) social media meeting. For a fun learning, along with a bit of wrap around content, here are some of the tweets that were shared from the event. #aima

Ed Garston, head of electronic media for Chrysler, and Rick Short, marketing communication director at Indium, a global B2B company, not only presented innovative campaigns and uses of social media but shared results. 

Tweet jumboshowjoe prominentplcment case sutdy

Social media is different than traditional or Interactive marketing. It's based on a long-term customer-brand, value proposition, delivered through digitial conversations in public forums. Success comes through understanding how to represent your brand promise within the unique culture of social media.

Tweet julie _ sm respectful not over market

However, getting started, either in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer environment, can present a challenge if management and/or your employees don't understand the benefits. Ed and Rick shared a few practical suggestions:

Tweet kyharrison grow web presence into community

Tweet mastermindings sell internal

Tweet chandrathompson competition

Tweet lynnrfrances _ answer today to questions tomorrow

Twitter toby_ chrysler recap

Tweet rebeccachander _ part of campaign not entire campaign

Tweet rmcferrin jmarie83 _ presence established

As our speakers reminded us, at the end of the day, it's not about playing with new shiny toys but about producing business results based on goals and objectives. 

Tweet cmorocks doncare about sm about $

Tweets also provide an opportunity for community members to contribute their own thoughts to the digital stream, often resulting in virtual sidebar discussions.

Tweet oliviapatrick _ comentary

How are you continuing your learning? 

Ron Strauss On Knowledge Sharing As A B2B Strategy


One of my joys is helping marketers understand how to use social media to build brand value. In the workshops and speeches I give one of the most Frequently Asked Questions goes like this: "When it comes to social media marketing all I seem to see is consumer products and programs that target moms. Can social media be used in a business-to-business environment? And How?!"

Toby blogher nyc 2008 That question always brings a smile since the business roots (versus the personal application) of social media began with the tech blogs and than were adopted by small business owners ..  many in the B2B space. Yes, Virginia social media is quite definitely a strategy that can be successfully used to help market products and services whose target audience is other businesses. 

For my money, one of the most effective tactics is using social media to position VIPs in your company as industry thought leaders. The heart of this initiative is built around sharing knowledge. Nothing new here. Businesses have been employing white papers for eons to set this in motion.

However, add social media tools such as blogs, live podcasts, social networks and even Twitter, to the mix and you go beyond what could be a white paper yawn. You have the opportunity for Exchanging Knowledge with your VIP as the leader of the discussion. Powerful way to enhance brand value and equity.

Ron strauss Recently my friend Ron Strauss, president of Brandzone and co-author of "Value Creation: The Power of Brand Equity" wrote an interesting post on an AMA listserve that dovetails with this concept. Ron agreed to share his ideas with us.

The Difference Between the Expert Based Approach and the Knowledge Sharing Approach


TRUST. By sharing knowledge, the company demonstrates expertise and the confidence to 'give' this power to their client.

  • Since knowledge is power, sharing knowledge shares power - to everyone's benefit.  Trust is an intangible attribute and is one of the core values of every brand - essential to building and/or preserving brand equity.

LEARNING. By helping clients understand the implications of the knowledge they shared with them, and its application, companies are teaching how to apply these ideas within the context of the firm.

And the context of the firm is described by its processes, organization, business model, how it chooses its customers, etc.  Thus, organizations are teaching clients how to 'fit' the knowledge to their company's values in a way that created effective outcomes for their served clients. So, the company must understand how to apply the knowledge in a way that aligned with their customers' values and needs.

BUY-IN. Sharing knowledge in a way that encourages the learner to take responsibility for its application and for the outcomes of those applications, creates 'buy-in' from Day 1.

There's no need to 'sell' the organization on the program, the process of acquiring the knowledge and applying it does that. They sell themselves as they use the knowledge to overcome barriers and issues.

PULL VS. PUSH. Sharing knowledge and its applications in a manner that's consistent with the Brand Promise creates a 'pull' force field through out the organization.

In today's flatter, less hierarchical organizational structures this is necessary to quickly adapt to change, and to meet clients ever-changing requirements in a timely, fashion while remaining profitable. Employees need to be empowered to do what it takes to deliver on the Brand Promise, to create the kind of experiences that create loyal customers.

Interested in learning more about social media marketing for business-to-business? I'm honored to be a guest speaker at the webinar Using Social Media & Networking in Client Conversations  sponsored by References Online. I join Umang Shah of Cubed Consulting, Duncan Egan of Taleo Corporation and Lisa Hoesel, References Online. Date: Wednesday 3/25 Time: Eastern: 12noon - 1p  Central: 11a- 12noon Mountain: 10a-11a Pacific 9a-10a Registration

One more .. catch the recent article about social media in the Atlanta Business Chronicle - Executives using social media to brand themselves as well as their companies. Guess who was quoted in her local business rag .. yup me!

When Bad Times Make Good Marketers


Today I noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal title, "When Bad Times Make Good Movies" and thought that is exactly what is occurring today in the marketing community. Bad times are making us better marketers.

Tool box pink It's back to marketing basics but with new strategies in our tool box that may sound strange like wiki and blog and twitter. In addition we are told that what was once for family fun like videos and photos can be leveraged to give your brand a competitive advantage. I ask you girlfriend, has the world gone mad?

Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not. If bad times are making us good marketers .. the question that begs to be asked is was there something during the good times that made us bad marketers? So what is marketing anyway? Many years ago I heard someone ask that question to Philip Kotler. His response put so simply and elegantly -

Marketing is meeting the needs of your customers at a profit. Philip Kotler

When I listen to marketers, especially those in the c-suite, talk about their concerns regarding consumer generated media and rationalize why social media is inappropriate for their organization, I can't help but think of that quote from Philip Kotler and wonder .. how can you meet the needs of your customers if you don't know what they are?

Traditional research provides answers to many of your questions but why would you discount the answers you might hear to the questions you have not asked? Did we become complacent and loose touch with our customers and is that the reason we are now fearful to hear their unfiltered conversations? 

Yes, the world is changing. Through the funny sounding tactics like wikis, blogs, twitter and social networks our customers are talking to us. All the time. What is as amazing is people in those companies (not the brand or the company but people) are taking brave steps to talk with their customers. Sure it can be messy. It certainly can be scary. It takes courage to develop trusted relationships .. especially in public. But that was how business began and from my perspective it is certainly nice to see people once again building corner grocery store relationships.

My friends at the American Marketing Association call this the New Marketsphere.

"Whether you like it or not, we are all part of it. It's a borderless planet of seismic changes occurring at warp speed, throwing a dizzying array of challenges at marketers." Mplantet website

To help us maneuver in this mad mad mad marketing world they have created Mplanet the marketing conference that will help us make sense of it all. The conference is build around four themes. I think I just addressed #2 Connecting with empowered consumers. 

1. Brand Building in a digital world
2. Connecting with empowered consumers
3. Marketing mix in a fragmented world
4. Global marketing on a borderless planet

I'm honored to be speaking at the Digital Marketing Lab pre-conference along with: Stephanie Diamond, Digital Media Works, Julie Fleischer, DIGITAS, Brian Johnson, Microsoft, Russell Buckley, Mobile Marketing Association, Jim Novo, The Drilling Down Project, Jim Sterne, Web Analytics Association and  Greg Verdino, crayon.

C.B. Whittemore, Flooring the Consumer, had a terrific recap of posts from around the blogosphere about the conference themes.

What-When-Where- Diva Marketing Discount Details

AMA Mplanet Conference. /January 26-28, 09. /Orlando, FL. As a speaker AMA has extended a courtesy discount to me to pass along to my closest friends and relatives you among them. shh.. don't tell anyone .. $995 from $1,995 - non member // $1,495 - member; DM me for details or drop a comment.

Starting where we began .. at the movies .. In Joe Morganstein's WSJ article film director Andrew Stanton told him,  "In times like these you really understand the benefit of moviegoing, of sitting in a large dark room with strangers and feeling the collective reaction to the truths of life presented to you via humor, observation and the thrill of action. Movie going is not a panacea, but it's a hell of a multivitamin. Whatever the movies do should be geared toward bringing people together. Don't let them stew in their private darkness."

Put into marketing terms - Marketing can no longer simply sproutMovies meaningless messages that people ignore. Marketing must bring customers together with products and services that meet their needs at a proft. Don't let your marketing strategies die in your private darkness of the fears because you refused to acknowledge this new wonderful mad mad mad marketing world! 

Digital Relationships


Road-trip This week Dana VanDen Heuvel, Bill Flitter and I will be on the road to Seattle for the last stop of our mini road trip for the American Marketing Association Hot Topic Workshop -  Digital-Centered Marketing.

It seems like kismet to me, for you see, it was almost 4-years to the day that Dana, Bill and I we were in Seattle for the very first national program on how marketers could use blogs - which was also sponsored by AMA. At that session we were joined by Robert Scoble, Ben McConnell and Dave Williams. Almost all of the speakers had met through some aspect of social media/blogs and most had never met in-person. It was a program build on digital relationships about digital relationships.

We learned a lot from those early days when social media, Facebook, Twitter and social networks were not even part of the vernacular. We were taught our first lessons in blogger relations by TDavid. What begin as a rather sticky situation ended up in a better program and a new friend. I'm thrilled that TDavid will be joining us on Friday. Lessons Learned from TDavid

One blogger can be the snowflake that can start an avalanche. There is risk and reward in a blogged economy. - TDavid

>Bloggers are people who want to connect. They want to know that they are being heard. Bloggers care.

>With the easy use of blogs, micro blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other social media tools marketers can not control how customers will reposition a carefully crafted message.

>You can not control customers’ conversations. The secret is you never could. However, you can manage those conversations by listening, participating, and caring.

Blogger social Collage_MARCH_5_Low 

Which has me thinking more about the challenges of building trusted digital     relationships using social media. It seems there are two aspects: the digital/web-based and the personal.

Although developed for traditional websites Stanford's Guidelines for Web Credibility provides some guidance on the first.

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don't follow these links, you've shown confidence in your material.

2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site.

Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.

3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don't link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.

5. Make it easy to contact you.

A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.

6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).

We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site's purpose.

7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful.

We're squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company's ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.

8. Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).

If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don't mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. It's also important to keep your site up and running.

. - Need your help .. let's build this one together. Please share your One Secret on how you build trusted digital relationships using social media. I've set a brief survey in Survey Monkey to collect responses. I'll let it run for about a week .. analyze the responses and post to Diva Marketing. Click Here to take survey

Solo Practice University: Bringing Social To Online Education


Social media - It's all about the conversation. Who knows conversation better than those that making their living selling thoughts and words. The Big A-L profession -- attorney/lawyer -- comes to mind. Solo attorneys, like other small business owners, are exploring how to use their words not only as a "product" but as a marketing strategy to build digital relationships.

Needless to say the value in social media conversations are are not necessarily in the number of "billable" words; but rather in the generosity of ideas. Could an attorney build a practice using only only 140 characters at-a-time out reach a la Twitter? Will a 2.1 minute video strategically place on consumer generated video sites like YouTube "work" better than a 4 color brochure? Can participating in social network communities where your clients hang out result in more new business than Chamber of Commerce networking meeting?

Spufaculty240x602 These are the issues that I'll be discussing at Solo Practice University. SPU is a the new, innovative learning online concept developed by Susan Cartier Liebel. Ironically Susan explained her vision of an online university, that supports lawyers who have a solo practice, during a coffee chat just before at my niece's college graduation ceremony. My first thoughts were .. this will change online learning. The second was .. I'd love to play a role.

Today, I am honored to join prestigious colleagues from many different disciplines as we explore one more way to use social media and technology to help people do business smarter.