Will Social Media Influence The Travel Channel Launch's of "Deep Fried America?" An interview with host Jay Ducote


Jay Ducote_1Jay Ducote came to my attention when he battled it out last year on the Food Network show Food Network Star Season 11.

For those who might not be food TV fans (a guilty pleasure of mine... take a look at Diva Foodies!) the winner of Food Network Star walks away with the biggest prize in food TV competiton ~ their own show on the Food Network.

Although Jay came in 2nd there was no doubt that he knew his way in the kitchen - indoors and outdoors, had great on-air presence and the fans loved  him. Seems the Scripps Networks Interactive brass thought so too because they offered Jay an amazing opportunity to film a pilot for a sister network, Travel Channel.

What makes Jay especially relevant to the Diva Marketing community is his use of social media, aka Social TV, to promote his on-air opportunity on the Food Network and to leverage the social buzz to encourage Scripps Networks Interactive to pick up the Deep Fried America pilot.

In our Diva Marketing interview Jay generous shares his insights on Social TV, how to social media tips, some of his Food Network Star backstory and what it was like to be a dude blogger back in 2009! Enjoy Jay's Story.

About Jay Ducote According To Jay Ducote

I’m a friendly, fun loving guy from Louisiana who loves to celebrate food and beverage culture. I’m a chef, writer, speaker, entertainer and hugger. I’ve got a product line available called Jay D’s with a Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, Louisiana Molasses Mustard and Spicy & Sweet Barbecue Rub.

Diva Marketing: Before we dive into how you’re using social media to support the Travel Channel pilot for your pilot of Deep Fried America, let’s set the stage for the peeps in our community who may not now But are soon to be (!) avid food TV viewers.

Not to be snarky, but there are so many food shows what makes Deep Fried America different and a must watch... in addition to the awesome host of course?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaDeep Fried America presents a great mix of drool-worthy food, talented chefs and fun travel.

I’m going to be in the kitchen helping prepare (and eating of course) some amazing food, the caveat is that something in it has to be cooked in a deep fryer.

But we aren’t just looking for normal fried foods, we are talking to chefs who are being innovative and creating new dishes using the fryer.

Diva Marketing: The concept of Deep Fried America was taken from one of your Food Network Star show challenges. On Food Network Star you were positioned as the BBQ guy who developed his cooking chops (pun intentional) from tailgating parties at LSU. Fried foods seems like a step in another direction. Why a fried food focus? Say that fast 3 times: fried food focus/fried food focus/fried food focus!

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: The short answer is because the Network loved it and wanted it. They pushed Eddie in the BBQ direction and had me go toward the fried foods.

To be fair, while I did some grilling on Food Network Star, I never really got to do any barbecuing or even make a version of my BBQ sauce. I tried to one time, but our groceries got swapped and Eddie ended up making the BBQ sauce instead (4th of July challenge).

On the culinary improv episode of Food Network Star I fried calamari and gave a line to live audience including people from the Network that being from Louisiana, anything that flies, crawls, walks, slithers or swims, we fry it. From that point on I think the Network liked positioning me as a fried foods guy.

All that being said, I definitely have a special place in my heart and stomach for deep fried foods. Fried Chicken would be on the plate if I got to choose my last mean. A beignet in Louisiana is the perfect breakfast. At tailgate parties you can rest assured that we had an outdoor deep fryer right next to the grill!

Diva Marketing: Let’s talk blogs! I’ve been active in the blogosphere for over 12 years and have known some great food bloggers. Although most chefs are men, most food bloggers are women.

Do you think being a dude in that world gave Bite & Booze, launched in 2009, a competitive advantage? Why or why not?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Without a doubt, 100%.

I think that being a large, bearded, masculine man with a love for barbecue and beer and whiskey and fried foods helped set me apart in the food blog world.

While I would be just another guy in the kitchen, taking the food blog route helped differentiate me. I can remember going to food blog conferen Jay Ducote_3ces and the audience being 80-90% women and 10-20% men, and of those men, rarely was there another guys like me.

So I stood out in the world. And I was able to make a name for myself in that world. I got more and more opportunities to speak or to be on camera because of that. It definitely helped grow my blog and my brand.

Diva Marketing: Blogs are ever evolving and where you begin is not necessarily where you end up. How has the focus of Bite & Booze changed from back in the 2009 days?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: My blog, Bite & Booze, started as a personal food journal. I wrote a blog about what I had for lunch that day just so I could keep track of it. I was working an office job in downtown Baton Rouge and I wanted to something to cure me of my boredom.

I knew right away that I would want it to focus on supporting local restaurants and chefs, but I had no idea it would grow into what it has become.

I now speak of Bite & Booze not as a blog, but as a culinary media company. The website is still primarily a blog, but we also do a radio show (since 2011… in 2014 it won a Taste Award as the best food or drink based radio broadcast in the country), podcasts, video production, lots of social media stuff, events and more.

Diva Marketing: What tips on how to create compelling blog content that builds a loyal audience can you give us?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America

1. Stay consistent. Whatever your theme or brand is, stay consistent with it.

2. Also be personal. I find that people really like to feel like they get to know the blogger or the person behind the posts.

I don’t do a whole lot of recipe blogging, but has been part of my strategy. I support and celebrate the entire local food scene wherever I am from farmers to chefs and restaurants to people making cool products.

Diva Marketing: When doing research for our interview I came across an article from The Advocate. The headlined caught my attention. 

Jay Ducote's ‘Deep Fried’ pilot to air on Travel Channel June 25; future depends on viewer engagement

How important will the social buzz be to impact the Travel Channel's decision to pick up your pilot and why?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: There are a couple ways to give Travel Channel good, immediate feedback on the show.

The first is for people to actually watch and set their DVRs to record the broadcast. The people in charge will see those ratings and get that data.

Secondly, social engagement absolutely helps. If @travelchannel is bombarded with tweets during the broadcast, they’ll know that not only are people watching, but they are also engaging. That’s powerful information for them to be able to take to advertisers who would purchase air time during my show.

At the end of the day this is a business, and producing great content is only good if it can be sold to sponsors and advertisers.

So the social buzz will let Travel Channel and potential advertisers know that there will be engaged viewers if they pick the show up for multiple seasons.

Diva Marketing: Let’s look at what is called Social TV on a more global basis.

Although Nielsen includes Twitter and now public Facebook into its TV ratings, in your opinion, to what extent do most producers/TV food media companies bring active social media into their digital marketing/out-reach mix?

Jay Ducote_4_social tv

(By active social media I mean, authentically engaging with the show’s fans versus broadcasting messages about the show or network.)

 Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaI feel like a lot of brands/people could truly be more active, especially when a show airs.

For pretty much every episode of Food Network Star last summer my team and I were live tweeting with fans during the episode. You never really see that from the big stars or the networks themselves. But I think they should.

The ability to now engage directly with the fans while a show is airing is pretty incredible.

Doing it live can be pretty tricky for sure, but I find that it is worth it!

 Diva Marketing: I totally agree Jay! Now, a very basic but important question Jay – what benefits does social, done well, bring to the table?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 4 Social Media Benefits

1. Social media gives everyone the opportunity to grow a brand in ways that weren’t possible before.

2. It gives fans a chance to get an inside glimpse, connect with a personality or follow their journey.

3. It also gives people like me a platform beyond the mass media outlets like TV or Radio.

4. So when it is done well, it is possible to build and retain a fan base outside of the traditional media outlets.

Diva Marketing: What are your thoughts about the benefits/importance of food TV personalities, chefs and contestants, live tweeting during their own shows?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I do it. It makes sense. It helps build and audience and grow a brand. It can be tough to make time for it, but it is so worth it.

Diva Marketing: If you were King of a food media company how would you use social media aka Social TV?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 

I’d make it part of my social media plan to use social to support on-air content and use on-air content to push people to social.

I’d make it to where a large part of my social strategy would be live-tweeting shows and posting on other platforms about new programming that is on the air. I’d make sure I had a team of people to actively engage with social rather than just be shouting into the void.

Diva Marketing: In addition to blogs, you’re active on multiple social media channels and have been leveraging them to support Deep Fried America. How do you play to the strengths of, let’s say the Big 3: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America:

Facebook: Provide links, pictures, video content. Ask questions and get engagement in a thread.

Instagram: Photos are key. Use pictures that resonate in one way or another.

Twitter: Inform and engage. Short format messaging. Connect with the audience by engaging in conversation.

Jay Ducote_6 tweet

 Diva Marketing: Are you looking at insights/metrics and if so (1) which are most valuable to you and (2) what tools are you using to measure?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Probably not as much as I should. I look at some Facebook data but that’s about it. I see engagement on Twitter and Instagram but I don’t go too deep into analytics.

Diva Marketing: Although text/image driven channels like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can include links to videos they are a “still world.” How did you build your personal brand to authentically bring Jay Ducote to digital life, so to speak?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaInstagram is great for short little videos and Facebook is awesome for videos. I haven’t really done a whole lot yet with live streaming or other video content like that.

I kind of let my other content speak for itself. Though I do think that doing a little more live stuff or short videos would be a good idea.

Diva Marketing: Let’s go back to Social TV in food media. Who do you think in terms of a TV chef gets it and is doing it right?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I think Alton Brown does a really good job with this social media. He is active and engaging.

Diva Marketing: What are a couple of tips you can pass along to your TV food chef pals in terms of how to do social right to build their personal brand and support their TV shows?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 4 Social Media Tips

1. Just a little effort goes a long way.

2. Think about it in advance.

3. Use services to schedule content in advance rather than wait until the show is airing to even think about it.

4. Make it a priority to have social engagement as part of our overall brand strategy.

Diva Marketing: I love how Alton Brown uses cartoons that are shown against tweets when he live tweets Cutthroat Kitchen. We’re thinking optimistically, when Deep Fried America is on-air how will you use social media to support the show? Jay Ducote_5_alton brown
Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Well crap, I didn’t see this before I answered with Alton Brown earlier. Yes, I like that too.

I’m obviously going to do all the things that we’ve mentioned before. Beyond that, who knows! We’ll have to see what happens.

Diva Marketing: Guess great minds think a like, or something like that! Jay, how can we support you in ensuring Deep Fried America lives to be part of the Travel Channel’s lineup?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Watch it, set DVRs, ask your friends to do the same, live tweet the show and tag @travelchannel and @jayducote and #deepfriedamerica. Do the same thing on Facebook and Instagram.

Diva Marketing: As is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, the guest always has the last response. Wrap this anyway you’d like.

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I’m certainly hoping that this turns into something much more than a pilot. It is a really exciting time and opportunity for me, but I won’t be pleased with the results unless the show gets picked up for a season. And then another. And then another.

I know I’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of me to continue to pursue my passion and chase my dreams. The TV side of everything I do is actually just a small part of my overall business model.

Bite & Booze, my culinary media company that started as a blog in 2009, and Hug Jay D, which is my product company that launched in 2014, are just the beginning.

Coming in 2017 will be my first restaurant, Gov’t Taco, a gourmet taco shop in Baton Rouge, La. And I’m sure there will be much more coming down the line as I continue to grow all of my brands and businesses.

Deep Fried America has a chance to be a huge part of that growth, so all the support and encouragement is definitely appreciated. Let’s make sure the Travel Channel knows that people out there want the show!

Connect with Jay!

Jay Ducote: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Bite and Booze: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Hug J D: Facebook 

Saturday, June 25, 12:30 CT, on Travel Channel




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 |


Influencer Marketing: Interview With Danica Kombol


Birthday_morqueTo celebrate Diva Marketing's 12th Blog Birthday (!) ... an extra special interview on a topic that is sizzlin' hot -- Influencer Marketing with Danica Kombol founder of Everywhere Agency.

Seems you can't turn a corner in the digital world without bumping up against an influencer marketing post or campaign. Influencer marketing's roots began in the blogosphere programs of what we called blogger relations.

However, with the onset of multiple social media channels e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Blogs, YouTube, Snapchat and technology that provides in-depth metrics, more brands are creating marketing promotion and content initiatives that include people who have significant followings and well -- influence.

Although the relationship aspect of today's influencer marketing campaigns are still critical, campaigns are more sophisticated than in the days of blogger relations. 

Danica Kombol graciously agreed to give us the scoop on what makes a successful influencer marketer program from the point of view of the brand/agency and the influencer. In her usual style, Danica includes so much more. Enjoy!

Danica Kombol
About Danica Kombol:I’m an entrepreneur, a mom, a pie baker and passionate about communications. I run the social media marketing firm, Everywhere Agency. We launched in 2009, focused primarily on social media and helping major brands get into the social media space. At that time, we were novel and unique, and big brands like CNN, Lexus, Lexis-Nexis and others needed our services. 

This day and age, most brands get it and have built out robust social media teams of their own. Now a major focus of our agency is influencer marketing. We connect companies like Macy’s, Carter’s and other major consumer brands with influencers to help amplify and tell their story. 

Diva Marketing: The term influencer marketing seems to be the hot buzz world. A Google search pulled up 20,800,000 links. Let’s start at Influencer Marketing 101. How do you define “influencer marketing?”

Danica Kombol: With influencer marketing, influencers become the vehicle to deliver your marketing message. However, it’s way more complex than that.  The question really becomes, “How do you use influencers to deliver that message and what type of influencers do you seek out?”. At Everywhere Agency, we practice the ancient art of storytelling.  By that, I mean finding influencers who can naturally and organically communicate a story about a product or brand.

Diva Marketing: Influencer Marketing is a service that your agency Everywhere Agency offers. How and why did you come to include it in your offerings?

Danica Kombol: In 2009, Everywhere Agency won the Guinness World Record for the most socially networked message in #BEATcancer.  We launched that campaign at BlogWorld (now extinct) by getting influencers at the conference to all tweet out #BeatCancer, and eBay/PayPal agreed to give a penny per tweet for every mention. Those funds went to cancer serving charities.

We were trending on Twitter within the hour and remained that way for three days.  At the time, we wanted to send the message that social media could be used for social good.  In retrospect, I realize that was our first experience galvanizing influencers, and those who participated in those first hours of sending out tweets are friends to this day. 

After that, brands kept coming to us looking for novel, non-advertising ways to promote their events or their products. We knew all these influencers, many who had a natural affinity for certain brands. We realized we could leverage influencers to share positive stories about brands the same way we got influencers to deliver a positive message in #BeatCancer. 

Seven years ago, we were keeping all these influencers in Excel spreadsheets. As more and more of them worked on campaigns, they began to talk to one another and say things like, “I’m part of Everywhere.” We realized we had to move all these amazing folks out of spreadsheets and bring them into a community.

That’s when we launched Everywhere Society – which is a community of influencers who work with our agency and opt in for brand campaigns. And it really is a community. Our influencer network has grown from those early years of the geek bloggers who used to attend BlogWorld to a vast community of 2,500 influencers coast to coast who write about lifestyle, fashion, technology, food, DIY, parenting, and well, just about anything. 

Diva Marketing: On a high level, why do brands invest in influencer marketing programs?

Danica Kombol: According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people – even if they don’t know them personally – over promotional content that comes directly from brands, and 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key factor of their purchasing decisions.

Essentially, influencer marketing is word of mouth advertising in the digital sphere. It’s easier for consumers to connect with a brand when they see it through the eyes of a real, relatable person.  

Diva Marketing: Let’s drill down to the “influencer” which might be more complex to determine.  Before we get into the weeds of the elements ~ for you, what makes an effective “influencer” for a brand campaign?

Danica Kombol: Ha! We debate about this often. An influencer is really anyone who is persuasive over a great number of people.  An influencer is that person you know who tells you about the best hair salon or movie to see. In Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point-speak, these people are the “mavens,” or people we rely on to connect us with new information.

Most of us have many different subgenres of influencers in our lives. For example, I seek parenting advice from my friend Paula and technology advice from my friend Lina.  In the “olden days” we’d have a phone conversation with that influencer seeking their advice on, say, the next gadget to buy. Today, we see his or her Facebook post, and we take action or are influenced by them. 

Diva Marketing: Is there a secret recipe that Everywhere Agency created to determine if a person is a digital/social media influencer? By that I mean is a percentage of reach, followers, Klout score, engagement , etc  that  is used? If not what does Everywhere take into consideration?

Danica Kombol: Sure, and contrary to my response above where I define just about anyone with influence as an influencer, at Everywhere Agency we are specifically looking for “digital influencers” or those folks with an extremely large digital footprint and a very engaged audience.  So yes, we look at numbers.

If they are a blogger, we look at their UMV’s (unique monthly visits), but in this day and age, we’re as likely to look at their Instagram, Vine, Snapchat or Twitter reach. Most important of all is what the influencer writes or talks about.  There has to be a real match for the brands we represent.  

Diva MarketingIn the Public Relations world celebrity marketing has been a tactic for a very long time. How does influencer marketing differ from celebrity marketing?

Danica Kombol: Ha, ha. It’s not so different anymore! Because I’ll tell you, a lot of these YouTube influencers are now celebrities in their own right!  Celebrity marketing is an aspect of influencer marketing.  At Everywhere Agency, we’ve worked with celebrities, but the core of our activations revolves around digital influencers. 

Diva Marketing: Would you share a successful influencer marketing campaign with us e.g. what made it successful, how did you determined which influencers to use, etc?

Danica Kombol: We recently did a series of Twitter chats for Macy’s. We were promoting the fact that Macy’s carries plus-sized clothing in their stores and embraces women with curves.

Macy’s teamed up with SuperModel Emme to do a series of fashion shows in their stores featuring plus-sized models and influencers. We found curvy bloggers who write about fashion to model and then joined forces with Emme to have Twitter chats where we talked about body positivity, fashion trends for curvy women, and the power of embracing your curves.

The conversations were amazing (even leading us to trend on Twitter). The impressions, which are how we measure our social conversations, topped 36 million. What was evident to us in these chats was that there are all these women who want to have this conversation, and we were proud to help facilitate it. Did I mention we won an AMY Award for our efforts?

Emme _everywhere tweet

Diva Marketing: What metrics do you usually use to determine the success of a campaign?
If can share any tools that would be great!

Danica Kombol: We look at a variety of factors – and every campaign has a different goal, so success doesn’t always look the same. Some clients are more concerned with the quality of content and photos than the amount of eyeballs that see it. Generally, we consider a campaign successful based on the number of impressions, a.k.a. the number of people who potentially saw a post, and the level of engagement or interaction the posts received.

Determining these statistics can be tricky, but we currently use a platform called Tracx to keep tabs on how our influencers are performing.

Diva Marketing: What 3 tips would you give a brand manager new to influencer marketing?

Danica Kombol:

1. Don’t expect the influencer to do a carbon copy of your brand message. Realize the benefit of working with influencer is that they tell your brand story in their own voice. Give them the tools to tell the story, but let them tell it on their own.

2. When you’re compensating an influencer, you must follow FTC Guidelines, which debuted in 2009 and are continuing to evolve. If confused about them, seek guidance from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

3. And finally (and I’m not just saying this because I run an agency but), “don’t go it alone.” Finding the right influencer is only half the battle. Agencies like mine specialize in doing the negotiations, building out the story architecture, tracking the influencer and making sure all FTC guidelines are met. 

Diva Marketing: What advice would you give that brand manager if an influencer goes ‘rogue?’

Danica Kombol: See tip number 3 above, where I encourage a brand manager to “not go it alone.”  At Everywhere Agency, we’ve been working with the same 2500 members in our network for years. We know their strengths and weaknesses. WE ONLY work with influencers who meet deadlines and follow the brand mandates.  An influencer who “goes rogue” is an influencer who was poorly chosen.

Diva Marketing: Let’s change direction and talk a little about influencer marketing from the influencer’s point of view.  Number one question people want to know:  Is this a financial exchange? In other words how should an influencer expect to get compensated?

Danica Kombol: By and large, any influencer with a large following gets compensated for their work.  The good influencers have a healthy ratio of sponsored versus non-sponsored posts, and the campaigns we bring to influencers are all sponsored campaigns.

In other words, we are paying the influencer to write (in their own words) about a brand, event or product.

Diva Marketing: Understanding that each campaign is different, what are some of the common aspects an influencer can expect when participating in an influencer marketing program?

Danica Kombol: An influencer can and should expect clear direction from the brand. What specific messages must be included in your blog post or social shares?  What’s the goal of the campaign? The influencer should also stop and ask if this campaign is a match for their audience.

The surest way for an influencer to lose their audience is to fill their content with advertising messages their readers don’t want to hear. 

Diva Marketing: As is Diva Marketing’s tradition, we’re tossing the virtual mic back to you. Wrap it up anyway you’d like.

Danica Kombol: McKinsey & Co says that word of mouth is the primary factor in 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions, so influencer marketing isn’t something that’s nice to have – it’s a critical component in this era’s marketing landscape. 

There’s power and passion and energy in influence that you don’t see in advertising. Go forth and be influential in your marketing efforts!! 

Connect with Danica!

Everywhere Agency Website|Everywhere Agency Twitter | Danica Kombol Twitter | Danica Kombol Instagram| Danica Kombol LinkedIn


Interview With Alex Brown On "Non Glory" A Video Series



Alex Brown_ 5_15I've often said the social web gives more than it takes.

Meeting people who may be outside of your usual network is one of its best 'gifts.' Alex Brown and I are worlds apart. We met in the "blogosphere" in 1999 when he was managing one of the first and most innovative online communities for Wharton.

Needless to say Alex is a pioneer in digital media. But Alex has another passion .. his love for horses.

He was able to combined his marketing talents and social media skills to build an amazing horse advocay community. It was not unusal for posts to pull in 500, 700, 1000 comments. Unheard of back in the day and even more so today. He's also the author of a brilliant and beautiful book - "Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy."  Alex Brown_book jacket Greatness and Goodness Barbaro and his Legacy

Alex describes himself as -- " I am a horseman, who is also an internet marketing "geek." I have ridden horses all my life, and I have been using the internet for teaching and marketing since 1992." 

Fast forward to 2015. Video is where many see the growth of digital media. When Alex told me about an innovative video project he was launching for a rather controversial topic that once again combined Alex's love of horse and social media I was excited to learn more. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: Your latest project is a video series on YouTube, it seems a bit of a departure from the development of a book. Why did you choose this medium ?

Alex Brown: My goal for this project, Horses: Sports, Culture, and Slaughter, is simply for content consumption, rather than distribution.

I wanted to create some content that would be easy for audiences to find, and then consume. No friction. With a book, your audience has to buy the book, and even after purchase, there is no guarantee that the book is read. I fear that quite a few people who did buy my book have not get read through it in detail.

For this project, I had messages I want to get out there. This made more sense. I also wondered, if I created an online essay, would people read? Would it have the same credibility, sharability, and so forth. I settled on a video series, and YouTube as the platform.

Diva Markeitng, Toby: To go the route of a well made video series may take even more effort than a book. What messages are you trying to convey that are so important to you in this project?

Alex Brown: The horse slaughter issue is very controversial, here in the United States. I think it is an issue that should be resolved, one way or another, in the near term. I believe it exists because most horsemen (gender neutral) and horse lovers really don't understand all the issues related to the subject, and quite honestly many do not want to know.

So I wanted to create a resource that examined all the issues, both for and against horse slaughter.It is comprehensive, basically a brain-dump of everything I know.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Although an important, but controversial topic, one might think that many people would be turned off by the subject. I might even think that most people would just avoid your hard work. Is that a concern?

Alex Brown: That is the biggest problem, for sure. Slaughter is visually dreadful, regardless of animal. I don't watch slaughter videos online. Only animal rights people watch that stuff I think, so really it becomes an echo chamber of the same people talking to each other, rather than getting the message out to broader communites.

My series is "NON GORY" and I make that very clear right at the beginning of the series. It is basically a 55 minute interview of me, discussing at the issues and context surrounding the topic, that is then overlayed with "b roll" of places I have visited etc. that are relevent to the conversation. My dog, Harriet, even plays a cameo roll.

Alex Brown_ Harriet

Diva Marketing, Toby: We like that your pooch Harriet plays a role! Max might want her paw print autograph! Seriously, so you create a great piece of content, that might be uncomfortable for some people to watch. You bring a wealth of experience in social media marketing, the big questions are how to you get the video out in front and what's your distribution strategy?

Alex Brown: I have been able to develop a pretty healthy social  media following over the years. First with the community developed on timwoolleyracing.com and then alexbrownracing.com as we followed Barbaro's progress at New Bolton Center.

From there the book helped me further build the community. I now have more than 5k followers on Twitter, 5k friends on Facebook (that's the limit for a personal page) as well as a new Facebook page for my Advocacy work. From this page I was able to purchase a Facebook ad (post boost at $20, which I will probably repeat during subsequent weekends, on the assumption that people have more time to consume content on the weekend). I am also pretty active on LinkedIn (some of that is due to my consulting work in the social media space). Basically I have quite a decent platform to launch content.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Initial distribution, seeding, is important, how have you tried to get the series to spread?

One of my goals was the timing of the launch. I wanted to get it out there during the Triple Crown series. This is important because it is the time of year that horses are on the national conscience. Media are covering our sport. We know when we explore the science behind "viral" content, an important factor is to design content that is part of the current conversation on the internet. 

Even in the video design, I ask at the end of the series for those who "liked" the series to post it on their social platforms. You have to be very deliberate about this stuff. I have also been able to reach out to my network of media connections, to try to help spread the word.

Again, you have to be very deliberate and go after every connection you have. You then need to try to track conversations about the series, in what I call the "free marketing" space. Any comments, you respond. Even negative comments, engagement is very important.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Totally agree. Without the engagement factor you might as well keep content on a website. The series has been out for little more than a week, how has it been received?

Alex Brown: So far, the three videos have received 1,000 views, according to YouTube. I think that is a pretty good start. I have had some media coverage, one of which really did help get the word out.

Now I am continuing to try too engage with media, and now directly with friends on Facebook to watch the series, and then post about it. I think that is important.

I don't just ask people to spread the word, it is KEY that someone watched the series first. That way, the person can talk specifically about the series, as she promotes it. I think that sends a much stronger message. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: What tip would you give people who want to step in to video? Bringing it back to digital marketing, are the results really worth the effort?

Alex Brown: Step in, experiment, fail forward (learn from your experiences) I am still experimenting with the medium, and am working on a couple of other projects for other clients, and the format is very different, short two minute clips focused on singular key ideas.

Finally, SEO is critical. What are the important keywords, and how are they included in the title, description and so forth.

And be passionate, because passion can overcome challenges.

Diva Marketing, Toby: I love that last thought!

Alex Brown: Yes, very critical. I have two passions, horses and the internet, my worlds collide! Horses - pre industrial revolution, technology -  post industrial revolution. Now we are trying to use the technology to save the horse.

Diva Marketing, Toby: As is our tradition, on Diva Marketing, we're tossing the virtual mic to you Alex. Wrap it anyway you'd like.

Alex Brown: Thanks Toby. Early reaction to the series has been positive; I just really hope it helps move the conversation from one among animal rights groups, to one among horsemen and horse lovers throughout the United States.

Connect with Alex: Website |Alex Brown Racing | Non Glory Video |Twitter |Linkedin

Diva Marketing Talks to Alex Brown! Interview about the story behind Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy| Podcast with Beth Kanter "Tell The Stories Of Causes Through Social Media

The Four Ts of Content Consistency


What is your best advice for a local small business that wants to leverage the web for marketing purposes? was the question my friend Paul Chaney, Editor of Web Marketing Today asked me and a few other "in the know" marketers. 

Thought you might enjoy my response!  

Great question Paul and one that many people will take from the strategy point of view: know your goals, how to measure them and your audience.  Let’s look at this from a slightly different point of view: content consistency.  

I look at content consistency from two perspectives. The first direction includes tonality, topics, and touch. The second direction is time. 

Tonality is the voice you’ll use through out the web from  your website and to social media channels For example, if you’re managing a rap group the tonality will be different than if you’re selling financial products to corporate accounts.

Topics quite simply are what you want chat about to your digital community. However, the format might be a blog, video, podcast or photos/images. The most successful topics are those that your audience cares about .. I call that ‘now I care content.’  Content that is so compelling it is shared.

Touch is how you’ll engage with your audience. It’s often neglected but can be the most powerful piece of your web marketing. What will you say when someone shares your content on Twitter or drops a comment on Facebook?

Time is well … time! Especially for small business owners, who wear multiple hats,  we have to come to terms that we can’t do it all or all at once. Identify which web marketing tactic will give you the most return for time spent. That may not always be direct revenue but branding or extended reach.  As an example, for a B2B service or product it may be diving deeply into LinkedIn. For a food media company it may be Twitter that best drives audience for you.

Take into consideration that all four Ts must work in harmony which leads us full circle to your goals, how to measure and your audience.

Note: For Food Businesses including chefs, cookbook authors, FoodTV media companies & contestants, foodpreneurs check out Diva Foodies where we're serving up social to the food industry plus offering delicious content!

An Interview with Advocate Health Care: Case Study #StoriesOfTheGirls


Breast cancer logoBreast cancer still impacts too many lives. Advocate Health Care launched a unique program to bring attention to breast cancer prevention, treatment and support.

Understanding that women gain strength and the comfort from the stories they share and are shared they used digital and social networks to tell the  #StoriesoftheGirls . Through the following interview Christine Piester, VP Marketing and Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing and Communication graciously provided us with a case study of the program.

This post is dedicated to my sister Susan who I know is dancing in the stars.  Susan atl

About Advocate Health Care. Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest health care providers in the Midwest.

Advocate operates more than 250 sites of care, including 12 hospitals that encompass 11 acute care hospitals, the state’s largest integrated children’s network, five Level I trauma centers (the state’s highest designation in trauma care), three Level II trauma centers, one of the area’s largest home health care companies and one of the region’s largest medical groups. As a not-for-profit, mission-based health system affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ, Advocate contributed $661 million in charitable care and services to communities across Chicagoland and Central Illinois in 2013.

 Our Story Tellers

Advocate Healthcare_ Christine Priester, VP, MarketingChristine Priester, VP, Marketing





Advocate Healthcare _Christine Bon

Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing & Communication




 Diva Marketing/Toby: How did the idea of #StoriesoftheGirls evolve? Was it a difficult sell to management including the hospital administrator?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Obviously, the idea of #StoriesOfTheGirls remains a very edgy concept. Anytime you introduce a double entendre (“the girls”) as part of your campaign you take a risk. However, the Chicago health care market is noisy and we had to figure out a way to break through the clutter. Not only did we have to sell this concept to the health system leadership, we had to convince the 12 hospital presidents that this was the right idea, at the right time and with the right audience.

In order to gain the necessary buy-in, our CMO hosted numerous sessions where she outlined the campaign and addressed any questions and concerns. The vast majority of our internal leadership were overwhelmingly supportive, there were a few unsure outliers, but they soon became believers once they saw the results.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was success for the campaign and how was it measured?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonWhile we wanted women to join the conversation at StoriesOfTheGirls.com, we really wanted women to take advantage of our patient added-value proposition.

We were the first in the market to offer same-day, no-referral mammograms.  This breaks down access barriers and allows women to schedule their mammogram on their terms, when they have some extra time as life might be too busy to schedule this test a few weeks out, months out, but there is no time like the present. 

  • So, that said we measured the growth in mammogram appointments (up over 10% across the system), web site visits, and engagement in the conversation (social media).

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The micro site is rich with content about breast healthcare. For many visitors to the site, I’m guessing the most compelling content is the video stories told by the breast cancer survivors and physicians.  How were these women indentified? What were their reasons to publically participate in #StoriesoftheGirls? 

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonAdvocate Health Care treats more breast cancer patients than anyone else in Illinois, and more of our patients become survivors than any other system.  Through our over 30 mammogram locations across the system, we were able to tap into our internal resources to identify patients with compelling stories that were willing to participate in the campaign.

And, we had, and continue to have no problems with patients wanting to tell their story. All of our survivors say if telling their story can just save one woman’s life it was worth it. They also appreciated the real tone and voice of the campaign.

  • They have all grown tired of the traditionally depressing look at this disease and wanted to show that women’s relationships with “the girls” is much more than a cancer diagnosis.

This year we have some wonderful new videos that include not only survivors, an update on one of last year’s featured patients, but patients currently going through treatment, Sue even shaved her head on the video as her hair was falling out – emotional stuff!

 Diva Marketing/Toby: I would love to be able to chat with these amazing people. Did you explore incorporating real-time conversations through social networks, perhaps a Tweet Chat or a G+ Hangout?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Glad you asked this question. New in the 2014 Stories of the Girls campaign is a message board prominently on the StoriesOfTheGirls.com microsite. We knew that we had to take this campaign to the next level in terms of the conversation so this is an exciting element this year (just launched on 9-15-14). Here, you can chat with survivors, you can talk with other families and their friends going through this journey with a loved one, you can ask our doctors questions, and you can simply ask about other breast health issues from puberty and first bras, to breastfeeding, boob jobs, and changes during menopause. Anything goes! We’d be happy to put you in touch with any of our featured survivors, check out their amazing stories through these videos.

Advocate Health Care theta theta girls

theta theta girls video

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The most exciting social tactic I saw was a #StoriesoftheGirls Instragram contest. Would you explain the concept for the Diva community?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThe #StoriesOfTheGirls contest was another extender of the conversation. We wanted women to share their inspiring photos, but also just women in general living healthy lives. Women were encouraged to share their photos and in turn were entered to win a gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago. Since we had just launched our Instagram account the month prior, this was a great way for us to gain some new followers and boost engagement.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was the most surprising aspect of the Instagram contest?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThrough the contest, we uncovered some very inspiring stories and one that we are now featuring in this year’s campaign: Kia. We also saw a side of our own associates (employees) who shared their breast cancer journey through photos as well. We were excited to see how quickly we gained new followers who were interested in our content and still engage with us on the social platform.

 Diva Marketing/Toby: In addition to Instagram what other social media tactics were included? Which one was your favorite and why?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonIn addition to Instagram, we also used Facebook as a social platform to drive awareness of breast cancer by creating a daily calendar of trivia questions about breast health. There was a new question posted each day. Once the daily question was answered you were automatically entered to win a handmade breast cancer awareness crystal bracelet. You were able to enter a total of 31 times for a chance to win the grand prize of gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago.

We also used Facebook as a platform to share all of our patient’s incredible stories, and also to promote our Instagram contest. Both of our social promotions were well received and we got some great submissions and are continuing to engage through new social promotions with the campaign this year as well and we are seeing even greater results!

Diva Marketing/Toby: How are consumer generated stories/photos being used to extend awareness of #StoriesoftheGirls and  breast cancer health?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonOur videos and patient stories have been picked up by many local media outlets as further promotion. Our patients also blog and are the subject of many stories on our brand journalism site ahchealthenews.com  View some of them here.

We also have a partnership with the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, and Bears and we are able to leverage those relationships to have breast cancer awareness events where are patients are honorary captains, sing the 7th inning stretch, and more! It’s a year-long commitment to keep breast cancer awareness at the forefront, not just during October.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The #StoriesoftheGirls campaign kicked off October 2013 to support Breast Awareness Month and appears to be continuing into the summer of 2014 and beyond. As one might say in the theatre, what makes this a long-running show?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon

  • This campaign is authentic and real and that’s what gives it staying power. 

Act 2 of the show is in market now and we couldn’t be more excited. An element of this campaign remains in market year-round, however.  We want to make sure we’re promoting early detection of breast cancer through mammography 365 days a year. And, we want to make it easy for women to get their mammogram and new this year they can find out their results in less than 24 hours – talk about reducing worry that often times accompanies the wait on this test.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons did you learn and can pass along to others in healthcare that maybe considering creating digital/social campaigns?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonTake a risk, it’s worth it!

Content is critical.

Don’t tell your consumers about new equipment, this or that accreditation, they don’t care. 

Make your campaign about them, not about you.

Speak to your audience how people have conversations in their real life and reach out to them how they like to receive the message (social media, email, direct mail), everyone has a preference, learn it!

  • And, amazingly, you do this, they will talk back to you, and then you have a two-way, engaged consumer conversation and you create brand loyalty.

Toss of a pink boa to Sarah Scroggins for her help in coordinating this interview.  Advocate Health Care _ Sara Scroggins

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.

Interview With American Marketing Association CEO Russ Klein


Russ Klein _ AMA CEOThere's a new dude in town.

Well in the world of the American Marketing AssociationRuss Klein recently accepted the role of CEO for AMA and with that he now leads North America's largest professional marketing association.  Of course, AMA dropped a media release which details Russ' credentials (impressive!).

I was curious about the man-behind-the-logo. I felt I had a bit of a vested interest since my AMA affliation has a deep and long history from chapter president, to serving as facilitator of interactive and social media workshops and managing AMA's first virtual communities. One might even say, AMA set me on the road to social media when I chaired its first conferene on blogs in 2004 into 2005.  

Russ graciously agreed to a Diva Marketing interview. In the following conversation he offers: 

  • his view on the future of marketing in a disruptive world,
  • a peak into his vision for AMA,
  • the importance of volunteers and his plans to ensure continuous engagement .. and more.

Toby/Marketing: It sounds almost trite to say that marketing is in a state of disruptive chaos and change. Russ, having been in the center of creating marketing plans for some of the largest consumer brands, you can appreciate that our tool boxes are overflowing with new tactics and strategies.

How does a brand, any brand, ensure that its marketing is relevant and adds value for the customer?

Russ Klein/AMA: That’s not an interview question, that’s a theme for a book! Well certainly relevance and value are two watchwords that are the right ones to guide any marketers actions.

It’s not about what’s possible, despite all of the amazing technological advances we all see. It’s still about what is relevant. The main thing many marketers lose sight of is that merely being different is not necessarily relevant to consumers.

  • Creating differences that matter in the lives of consumers is what’s relevant.

I think the more mysterious question lies with the question of value. I am an ardent believer of Rifkin’s theory of near zero marginal costs that he asserts is imminent as a result of the internet of things and the remaining connectivity potential that is in our future. When you have a knowledge-based enterprise like the AMA competing in a world of open sourced innovation, a sharing economy, and lateral economies of scale, there are tremendous downward pressures on the costs of information.

MIT has posted its entire 1800 course curriculum online for free. So the AMA is not only challenged with delivering relevant thought and service leadership to its constituents, our products and services must be peerless to command some level of sustainable pricing power. This is why I am so excited to take on the challenges facing the AMA. This is the ultimate strategic gauntlet for any CEO to navigate.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Totally agree Russ it is a ‘big’ and not easy question. Perhaps we should put that book on our to do list!

However, the American Marketing Association is more than just another brand. One might say the AMA is the North Star for marketers. What do you feel is AMA’s North Star?

Russ Klein/AMA: Great question. My belief is that the academic gravitas and scholarly distinction…is to the AMA, what Mickey Mouse…is to Disney.

More specifically, by Mickey Mouse, I mean film animation. If you remove animated film credentials and the institutional/cultural effects associated with them, Disney is just another film company…no Disneyland, no Disneyworld, no transcendent lifelong emotional attachment with its consumers. If you remove the AMA Journals thought leadership and the esteemed academic status of being published in them, the AMA is just another conference company or speakers bureau.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Moving into the future how will the organzation ensure its does not lose its foucs in a vast sea of chaos?

Hugh North Star
Russ Klein/AMA

  •  Chaos is opportunity for those that can stay poised and focused.

I view it simply as a matter of strategy, because strategy is all about choice. That’s something I’ve never been uncomfortable with. It goes back to what’s relevant, not what’s possible. It’s my job to help the organization identify opportunities and set priorities that can advance the AMA enterprise, and discard those that don’t.

The AMA culture must be one that values decisiveness and managerial courage to take stands in a civil and respectful way. If we stay focused on how we figure into the lives of our constituents, our stakeholders, and our users we will stay relevant and compelling.

The AMA is about improving the way marketing is practiced around the world. In so doing, we will be a vital catalyst spurring improved commerce and prosperity in communities and everywhere.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In your opinion Russ, what is the most critical aspect of marketing that is ‘broken’ which AMA can help ‘fix?”

Russ Klein/AMA: Two things. There is profound lack of 1) Training and development of talent and 2) Managerial courage.

First, CEO’s and CMO’s can’t expect talent to come to them with all the tools and skill-sets necessary to become a world-class marketer. Even if they have those assets when they arrive, the need for lifelong ongoing training and development plans never ceases.

As a CMO I felt a personal obligation to create learning cultures where curiosity and teachable moments were valued. I always felt if I wasn’t spending at least 25% of my day improving the professional capabilities of my people, I was failing. My observation and experience is that this isn’t happening nearly enough.

Second, business in general and marketing in particular is simply not black and white. As much as I believe in disciplined marketing science, there is also marketing art.

Managers are almost always presented with a spectrum of management decisions that range from “no-risk” to “high-risk” with corresponding rewards. Too many corporate cultures, including the marketing cultures inside them, are built around fear of failure and fear of appearing wrong. Or there’s the “go along to get along” mentality which is responsible for more mediocrity than I care to admit I’ve seen.

  • My advice to every marketer, young and old, is to re-examine your capacity for the courage of your convictions. You can’t inspire greatness or excellence without periodic principled “stands” for what you believe to be the right thing to do.

Toby/Diva Marketing: With your background as CMO for major consumer brands, as well as, award winning agency work you bring a prestigious CV to the party. However, nonprofit associations have some different and unique challenges. What most excites you about the opportunity to lead the AMA?

Russ Klein/AMA: I believe the one thing I bring is a ferocious passion to compete. While nobody would ever want to characterize the AMA as a bloodthirsty competitor, I do believe we are nonetheless competing with other formidable knowledge-based enterprises.

The need to identify and leverage competitive advantage is just as relevant in a not-for-profit arena as it is in the for-profit world. I suppose the most obvious difference is the amount of resources available to the AMA to advance its vision versus other better heeled for-profit and scaled up companies. Conversely, those companies seldom can call upon thousands of volunteers and advocates for whom their volunteerism is both a source of personal satisfaction and a calling to be of service to others. I believe the opportunity to hold up a shared vision as a source of inspiration can power the AMA when dollars can’t.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We like to think of AMA as The premier association in terms of marketing sciences thought leadership. Recently it appears the perception is AMA has lost ground to marketing content house like MECLABS, MarketingProfs, eConsultancy, SmartInsights, and of course, to marketing bloggers. What are your thoughts?

Russ Klein/AMA: On one hand I welcome the increased attention that many other enterprises are bringing to the practice of marketing science. Conversely, no one can deliver the academic thought and service leadership, the chapter level engagement, and the volunteerism that distinguishes the AMA. The so-called competitors out there should serve to motivate us to sharpen our competitive advantages in a way that, if we were uncontested, we probably never would.

The esteem with which marketing practitioners, academics, and students are viewed should be on the same level as those who choose medicine or science as their pursuit. The AMA is uniquely positioned to elevate marketing science in this way because of its academic credentials.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that the AMA should reclaim some of that 'thought leadership position' and if so how?

Russ Klein/AMA: I would never say that we couldn’t improve our thought leadership position. Knowledge is a fluid and perishable product. If I didn’t think our best ideas for thought leadership are ahead of us I couldn’t say our best days are ahead of us; and they most definitely are!

Toby/Diva Marketing: Although not professional associations, CEB and MECLABS have recently made acquisitions (Iconoculture and Marketing Sherpa respectively). It’s a different path to follow, but what are your thoughts about the possibilities of strategic acquisitions to grow the AMA and supplement areas where AMA does not have a strong reputation or extensive experience?

Russ Klein/AMA: My fundamental belief is that a healthy business model needs to identify organic growth first. If there are adjacent growth opportunities that can enable or accelerate the AMA vision through acquisition or strategic alliances I imagine we’d want to take a hard look at them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: AMA has traditionally served many different types of marketers: students, academics, practitioners, and researchers. What are your views on how that should be managed in the future? Do you think AMA should continue to try to serve everyone or focus more on one or more groups?

Russ Klein/AMA: I have always been an ardent champion of sharp, vivid focus on core users of a brand.

In the case of the AMA our core users just happen to cut horizontally across like-minded practitioners, academics, and students all of whom are engaged in the pursuit of original and best practices in marketing science. That said, there are still important ways of closing the aperture to create more focus for which we have ideas that remain part of our confidential strategic planning process.

Ama-logo 8_14
Toby/Diva Marketing
: Since AMA members make up part of Diva Marketing’s community and I am an AMA past president of the Atlanta Chapter, let’s talk a bit about the heart and soul of AMA ... its volunteers. What will be the role of professional chapters in the future?

How will the relationship between HC and Chapters evolve - or not?

Russ Klein/AMA: Also a great question. If the academic prowess of the AMA is its strategic advantage, then the thousands of volunteers are the unsung heroes that are responsible for converting that AMA advantage into an AMA experience. Understanding that it is the volunteers who are responsible for delivering the first formative AMA experience to new members is a critical recognition for the so-called headquarters of the AMA. There is just no substitute for “being there” and starting with me, I plan to become a familiar face to as many of our chapters as possible.

  • Politicians and Rock N’ Roll bands both know that the secret to build true loyalty and engagement is by being in the markets; stumping or playing music to their constituents.

I am a big believer in local knowledge and that collecting it in person is the best way to learn about the unique minds and moods of the membership and volunteers.

It might be a good idea to change the “headquarters” language to “support center” which better describes the service leadership we are responsible for providing. Simple ideas like that send culture messages to the organization…but we have to be able to walk the talk. I’m sure we are, but we can always be more present at the chapter or event level.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Professional associations struggle with membership attrition and AMA has its challenges in this area. What are your thoughts on how to engage AMA members, and as important, how to keep them engaged with the association?

 Russ Klein/AMA: Engagement is the operative word. Our goal must always be to convert a user’s connection with the AMA, no matter how it begins, into an engaged relationship wherein the AMA is providing the thought and service leadership that can help that individual experience to advance their personal objectives; be that research, publishing, knowledge acquisition, professional training and development, career networking and camaraderie, problem solving, or identifying marketing strategies and best practices for growth. If we’re creating value in these ways, membership growth and attrition will take care of themselves.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Dennis Dunlap, immediate past AMA CEO, began an international expansion which involved China. What are your thoughts/plans about growing the association’s footprint both on a global and national basis?

Russ Klein/AMA: We are not about planting flags unless we can get the commensurate returns from a scaled up presence. The opportunity to grow membership and engagement inside the U.S. alone is more than enough to satisfy our needs for growth; so it will require a judicious balance and allocation of resources on our part.

With that in mind the AMA will continue to examine thoughtful expansion outside North America where it makes sense. There’s no question, that not unlike American exports of film and music entertainment, American marketing is viewed as a global standard for which the appetite is large.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What are some of the lessons you bring with you from your time in the fast food industry that will help support your success in this exciting new role?

Russ Klein/AMA: The fast food industry is the most competitive industry in the world, simply because so many companies are competing for the largest consumer dollar in the world; the food dollar.

I’ve already shared my belief that I will bring a very energetic sense of competitiveness to the AMA. Beyond that, the other element the fast food industry has taught me is that the restaurant manager trumps the brand manager every time.

  • Likewise, it will still be our chapter-level execution in delivering a world-class professional experience that will define the AMA, not what my team located in Chicago dreams up and posts online.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Since, of course, Diva Marketing is ‘social media’, which means people-talking-to-people, we’d love to get to know a little about the person behind the AMA logo.  

7 Fun Fact About Russ!

1. Briefcase or backpack…backpack
2. Tablet or laptop…laptop
3. PC or Mac…Mac
4. Favorite word…grateful
5. One of your ‘bucket list’ to dos…build a tree house on my ranch in Colorado and have a family reunion there.
6. Favorite social network…Facebook personal/LinkedIn professional
7. Must have when traveling…running shoes

Toby/Diva Marketing: It’s a Diva Marketing tradition to toss the virtual mic to you and give you an opportunity wrap the interview. Is anything you’d like to say to our community about marketing, digital/social media, AMA or ????? It’s your turn Russ!

Russ Klein/AMA: There’s no better time in business history to be a marketer. Get involved with the AMA and I guarantee you will get back many times over what you devote to it. Together, we’re going to light the path to improve marketing originality and best practices and make it the best profession you’ll ever love!

Positively, Russ

Pink boaToss of a pink boa to AMA colleauges who offered interview question ideas. Sybil Stershic, AMA Board Chair and current AMA training/event instructor, president of Quality Services Marketing; Debra Semans, current AMA training instructor and national AMA board member, Dana Van DenHuvel current AMA training instructor, president of Marketing Savant

The Waffle House - A World Cup Battle To A Social Media Win With Meghan Irwin


Waffle House _World Cup B vs USA Waffles_won my heartThe U.S.A. won against Belgium in the World Cup game.

Well .. not really .. but sort of. 

The Waffle House, an American, iconic, southern, restaurant company, walked away with the social media trophy.

Paying not one of the 75k dollar sponsorship fees, the Waffle House's followers organically helped score them the win via a social media waffle battle: sweet versus Belgium waffles. 

Many saw the battle unfold on Twitter but I wondered ... what was the back-story? How did it begin and what course of action did the Waffle House plan? Meghan Irwin, Waffle House, agreed to tell us what it was like during the heat of the Belgium Waffle Battle.  Some of her answers might surprise you. 

About Meghan Irwin - Our story teller, Meghan, has been working for the Waffle House, Inc. for almost three years.

Waffle House Megan IrwinShe is part of the Communications Department where her role focuses on social media management and event execution. 

About Waffle House® Restaurants - Headquartered in Norcross, GA, Waffle House restaurants has been serving Good Food Fast® since 1955. Today the Waffle House system operates more than 1,700 restaurants in 25 states and is the world’s leading server of waffles, T-bone steaks, hashbrowns, cheese ‘n eggs, country ham, pork chops and grits.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I read that the now famous Belgium Waffle House Tweet wasn’t planned. In fact, there was no committee or even social media team brainstorming on how to get into the World Cup social conversation.  Would you fill us in on the who-what-why of the back-story?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle HouseGoodbull Hunting actually initiated the idea by tweeting at us upon hearing Team USA was moving onto the next round in the World Cup. When asked for our opinion of Belgian waffles, we replied with “We dominate them.”

TMZ Sports got word of this tweet then contacted us to ask more about it. On Monday June 30th, TMZ published the story and we kind of ran with it. So yes, this wasn’t planned.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Not only was Waffle House the darling of the social media world but main stream media picked up and moved your story along. Who was the first media outlet that contacted you?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Van Lathan from TMZ Sports reached out to us on Friday June 27th. Boycotting all things Belgian was a hot topic, so they asked if we would support that. Of course we would! We’re America’s place to eat!

Toby/Diva Marketing: What was it like at work when you began receiving calls and requests for interviews?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Surprisingly, we weren’t in the office for the majority of the day. The team was at a press conference for our valued partner Smithfield. We took most of the calls in our Waffle van to avoid any background noise. It was actually pretty amusing. We’d see emails for requests and we’d take turns by hopping in the van.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did the excitement and buzz trickle to the field restaurants and if so what was their reactions?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Yes, we received positive feedback from Area Vice Presidents. We also educated the public and our customers that our waffles are not Belgian waffles. They’re sweet cream.

Toby/Diva Marketing: With all of the conversation and RTs that were happening, did the Waffle House tap additional people to monitor the conversation?

Megan Irwin/Waffle House: We work as team in the effort to engage in conversation with our fans.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We saw you were engaging with your community in RTs and responses. For many companies listening is a struggle in terms of the right tool and the time commitment.  Would you share how the Waffle House approaches tracking, listening and reporting?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: We are one of those companies. We struggle just like everyone else in terms of time commitment and listening. We’re in the process of doing a trial with a couple companies now to see what fits best with our company.

Toby/Diva Marketing: There didn’t seem to be a unique hashtag from @WaffleHouse. Was this intentional?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: There wasn’t a need for a unique hashtag. This was an organic conversation with a fan. By adding a unique hashtag in this mix, we feel you lose the genuine feeling of the conversation. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Interesting idea Meghan. Perhaps we can encourage brands to be less "hashtag happy."

In addition to Twitter and Facebook were other social media tactics were included and if so which networks and which worked best to move the engagement?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: We focused on where the majority of our community is. We have a strong, vocal fan base on both Twitter and Facebook therefore our efforts to engage was focused on those two channels.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What was the most surprising aspect of the experience?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: The fact that our community responded with this playful boycott and ran with it. Also, we saw media outlets that don’t normally cover Waffle House, ending up covering this tweet.

Toby/Diva Marketing: To put your responses in context, what does social media mean to the Waffle House in terms of branding, awareness and customer loyalty?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

  • To us, social media means continuing the conversation with our customers after they have an experience with our brand. It continues well after they leave the restaurant.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How large is your social team and who does it report up to?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: As it falls under Communications, we work as a team.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  As we discussed, the response Waffle House received was fantastic. What do you have in mind to build it?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: We want to stay true to the brand’s personality and maintain the engagement with our fans. Like I mentioned before, it’s all about keeping the conversation going with our customers.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In retrospect, is there any thing that you would have done differently?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Nothing at all. This tweet allowed us to grow our community and spread the word that Waffle House is on social.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  What lessons did you learn that you can share with our community?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

1. Be responsive.

2. Talk back to your fans if they engaged with you.

3. You never know what ideas you’ll come up with when engaging with fans. We were able to use the USA waffle photo by engaging with one of our fans. Waffle House with community tweet

Toby/Diva Marketing: It’s become a tradition to toss the virtual Diva Marketing mic to you and give you a chance to add anything else you’d like.

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Our community is the reason this happened. We enjoy engaging with our fans and customers and will continue to do so.

  • Getting to know your community is the best thing you can do on social media.
  • We do it for the fans and for the bacon. 

More About The Waffle House - Website, Career Opportunities, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

Toss of a pink boa to Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe for her help in arranging the interview. 

7 Tips To Rockin' Facebook Engagement A La Frank Somerville


Frank Somerville _Facebook 7_3_14During my time heading social media at Cox Media Group I had the pleasure of working with some great folks.

There was a special journalist, from California Bay Area KTVU, that was an inspiration when it came to understanding the importance of social media, how to build community and the critical nature of engagement ... especially on Facebook.

Frank Somerville, main news anchor, topped 100K Facebook Likes; in fact as of this moment he has 120,059k Likes. As anyone who has built out a social network page can tell you this is no small feat.

However, as we also have come to understand, Likes without engagement are simply a bunch of numbers. Left alone Likes do not necessarily lead to significant shares, community or brand loyalty. Which makes the extent of engagement Frank has nurtured even more impressive.

How did he do it? Why did he do it? And how does it relate back to the brand? Frank tells his back-story in this video interview.

Frank's 7 Tips To Succeed In Social Media

1. Be Authentic

2. Be Honest

3. Let people see who you are behind the camera… or behind your 'business face'

4. Respond to people

5. Don't follow all the rules...take a risk. This is new stuff don’t be afraid to experiment.

6. Try to find your own way and what works for you.

7. If people like you it will carry over to your brand creating a win-win-win (for your customer, the brand and you).

And I'll add one more ... have fun! It is quite evident that Frank is having a great time. The energy carries over to his relationship with the community and back again to their involvement with Frank and with each other.

Any brand, media or not, can benefit from Frank's insights. The video is worth a click and a watch.

Frank - congrats! Well deserved.