Why Facebook? With Embrace Pet Insurance

02/04/2008

From blogs to podcasts to vlogs to micro blogs to social media networking communities brands continue to explore marketing opportunities.  Laura Bennett from Embrace Pet Insurance shares her challenges and lessons learned about Why Facebook?

Embrace_pet_insurance About Embrace Pet Insurance
Embrace Pet Insurance is a pet health insurance for cats and dogs.  Every Embrace Pet Insurance policy is 100% underwritten by Lloyd's of London. Now that's some classy insurance!

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why use a social networking site, like Facebook, to promote the brand?

Laura Bennett: I’m fascinated by the development of online social networks and participate in a number of them myself. I thought that if I enjoyed interacting with other like-minded (or not) people online, maybe our Embraced pet parents (as we like to call our policyholders) and other friends of Embrace might be too. Embrace on Facebook.

At the core of it though, the open nature of Facebook dovetails very much with the Embrace philosophy - an upfront and honest interaction with just about anyone who wants anything to do with Embrace. Insurance is all about trust and pet insurance hasn’t had the best reputation in the past. Our mission is to change the flighty image of pet insurance one person at a time. Facebook puts Embrace out there in a real way and lets our audience decide if we mean it or not.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why in particular Facebook?

Laura Bennett: I like the flexible, clean look, the growing number of real people on the site, and the demographics of where Facebook is going (older, more affluent) – I think it matches our customers more closely than say MySpace. Having said that, we also have a presence on MySpace but I don’t personally run that.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is success for Embrace's Facebook strategy?

Laura Bennett: The ultimate success would be for the Embrace group (I’ve Been Embrace By Embrace Pet Insurance) to take on a life of its own and to be run by Embrace evangelists. Just think how incredibly powerful that would be.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Is your Facebook strategy supported by other tactics?

Laura Bennett: I’ve been writing a blog on pet insurance for 2.5 years now with the same upfront and honest feel so the two go together but apart from that, we’re not doing very much right now. Since we’re an early stage company, our resources are very focused and my attention is on fundraising at the moment. Once that painful process is finished for a while, we’ve definitely got a few ideas we’d like to implement. Can’t spill the beans right now though. Would love to hear any brilliant ideas on what we could do though – what do your readers think?

Sidebar: Check out my guest post about how I found Max.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Are you/will you also use ads on facebook to complement the initiative?

Laura Bennett: We’ve used some ads on Facebook with little success as they weren’t very targeted; however, it wasn’t a coordinated approach. Perhaps that’s another thing to add to the to-do list!

Toby/Diva Marketing: What were a few of the challenges you face/faced?

Laura Bennett: Well the nice thing about Facebook are that there are few technical challenges. There’s really nothing much to do on that front. And there is just “getting” Facebook. I have to admit that when I started, I couldn’t see the attraction or how it worked. I’m not sure I’m totally there either. And we certainly need to work on augmenting the Group, increasing the appeal to interact with it. And then the challenge is to get a critical mass of Embraced pet parents to get the group going. You need thousands of interested members before it takes on some momentum of its own and we have a long way to go before we reach that. That means I have to find time and inspiration to get the current members involved. That’s always a challenge.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What are a few lessons learned you can pass along to other brands who want to leverage Facebook as a marketing tactic?

Laura Bennett: If you want a presence on Facebook, go for sincerity and real people, not corporate speak and faceless minions. It’s harder than you think. If your evangelists have created something about you, ask them how you can interact without getting in the way. 

And always remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the people interacting with your brand.

Sidebar: If your brand's strategy includes a social media networking component like Facebook and want to be a Diva (or Divo) rock star interviewee drop me a comment.

Top Ten Shel Israel Secrets That Even Shel Israel Doesn't Know About Shel Israel

01/03/2008

BBF Shel_israel Shel Israel gave me a new year's present. Thanks Shel! He tagged me and Liz Strauss, Pat Phelan, Loic Le Meur Mer, KP Paine, Chris Heuer and Robert Scoble with the 8 Secrets Meme Game. You know the one you tell 8 things people don't know about you and then you tag 8 more people to play and then they tag 8 more people and so on and so on ..

Well, girlfriend to be completely honest and transparent and authentic .. I have no fabulous secrets to tell you. Amazing Divine Diva Liz Strauss tLiz_straussold me she had none either - that I find hard to believe. So instead of telling you 8 boring things about us we thought we'd have some fun and cross post The Top Ten Secrets About Shel Israel That Even Shel Israel Doesn't Know About Shel Israel.

#1. It's not true that Shel knows everyone. He hasn't met one of the six fake Tazmanian Chris Brogans.

#2. Shel is not short for Shelly of the female persuasion. Shel was born Shel Red Sofa just outside Topeka, Kansas. He changed his name to Israel in 7th grade after a girl at school called him a "couch potato."

#3. Shel has never been seen wearing Connie Reece's pink boa.

#4. A recent quote from Shel "An Aussie snake with a lot of balls is noteworthy."

#5, Shel is an obscure Incan word that means "man who talks to Scoble in print without wearing clothing."

#6. When Shel was in college, he won a contest in which he drank a strawberry fruit smoothie while doing Irish Step Dancing with Meryl Streep's cousin, Louella. Shel is the staring in next season's Dancing With The Stars with BL.

#7. Shel is hanging up his consulting shingle. It was a toss up either go back to his beloved PR or sell shoes at Neiman's or renew his cabbie medallion. He decided to launch a social media community for burnt out bloggers ..calling it Shelomville.

#8. Shel has never been to North Dakota, though he once met a cat with that name and they liked each other.

#9. Naked Conversations was based on a personal experience in Shel's hot tub.

#10. Shel is famous for having great equipment. You'll have to ask him. We're not telling.

We know Shel would want you to link to Toby, Liz, and SHEL ISRAEL. You really should. After all, who are you to break a little boy's heart?

Sincerely,
Liz and Toby

P.s. Since this is a Top Ten I'm tagging the last 10 Twitters I read: Dave Taylor, Jake Mckee , Connie Reece, Robert French, Beth Kanter, Jonathan Trenn, Geoff Livingston, BL Ochman, Drew McLellan, Matt Dickman.

P .s. Liz's post is titled The Almost Real Secrets of Shel Israel and is brilliant!
 

A Pea Green Twitter Miracle of the Heart*

12/24/2007

Do you believe inMiracles people miracles? On this day, or eve, perhaps you're popping by after the last package has been wrapped, I'd like to tell you a, as CK (@ckEpiphany) calls it, a social media Xmas miracle story. Steamy hot chocolate or spiced cider along with a cookie or two would be lovely to indulge in right now.

Connie Reese tells the story best of how a tiny snowflake twit grew into a green pea snowball of love. A green pea snowball .. how odd you may say but true stories are often stranger than fiction. Our story includes invisible people, a big scare, a brave woman and the spirit of kindness from so many.

Chapter One By Connie Reece (@conniereece)

A friend I’ve never met in person is scared. Very scared. Susan Reynolds (@susanreynods) is having a mastectomy tomorrow. She found the lump on December 5, went to the doctor the next day, and was immediately sent to a diagnostic radiologist. Big words, big fear: Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.

You can read about Susan’s journey through the cancer experience in her new blog, Boobs on Ice. The story I want to share is how a community of so-called invisible friends rallied around Susan to support, comfort and cheer her up–and somewhere along the way turned it into a fight–and a fund–against cancer.

It started on Twitter, where Susan is the self-proclaimed nana; she’s also a power networker with hundreds of followers. When she posted a new Peavatar_susan_reynolds_2avatar–a photo of a package of frozen peas tucked inside her camisole to relieve the pain from multiple biopsies–she joked about putting her boob on ice. Her friends continued the joke.

On the Friday before Xmas Susan's surgery was a success. Joyous twits flew across the globe.

Chapter Two The Peavatars

Peavatars Then came Ann Miller (@annohio) who changed her avatar on Twitter to a package of peas. Within a twit Twitter was a wash in green peas. Of course the peavatars must have a Flickr Peavatar Group. When last checked  Frozen Pea Friday had almost 300 PPPs!

Chapter Three Frozen Pea Fund

One of social media's strengths is the evolution of ideas. Cathleen Rittereiser (@cathleenritt)'s suggestion went from simply friends-helping-friends to a challenge to raise money for cancer research.  In honor of Susan, the Frozen Pea Fund was launched. In the first 15 hours $3,493 was raised from 118 peaple on 3 continents.

FrozenPeaFund launched in under one week w/ no budget, no biz plan, no mtkg plan .. just a handful of volunteers who understand social media - Connie Reece (@conniereece)

Chapter Four Lessons Learned and Questions To Ponder

Peas_in_a_pod_2_2 As in any really good story there are lessons that we take with us. Frozen Peas teaches us lessons from a belief in the goodness of people to the power of micro blogging. What made this work was a sense of community. A sense of belonging. tiny snowflake messagethat grew into a green pea snowball of love.

Jonathan Trenn (@jtrenn) insightful observation - We weren't being consumers. We were just being people. Spontaneous caring.

Could a company accomplish as much as quickly with a formal strategy? Could a not for profit make a similar impact?  Can Spontaneous caring occur as a social media marketing strategy? What happens if say, Birds Eye was part of a community would you feel the same? Would you embrace this type of marketing initiative if the American Cancer Society was behind it?

Chapter Five It's Personal

I must tell you I don't know Susan. But we have dear friends in common who through hundreds of twits connected me to Susan's world. Her fight touched my heart for you see my sister fought a brave battle with breast cancer. Susan__wedding_3 Her name was Susan too.

You are fabulous, thanks so much for encouragement, smiles, support. You really make me feel like this is a team effort. Susan Reynolds (@susanreynods)

Chapter Six The Community Fundraising Challenge

CK words "community" fundraising are spot on. The Frozen Pea Fund is growing quickly organically. Perhaps the time has come to dream bigger. The Peavatar Group is now challenging corporations to join in the fight.

Birds Eye Jolly Green Giant how about matching funds with what the community raises?

We will not apeas cancer!

Blog title inspired by a twit from Drew McLellan *  Drew's post on Marketing Profs is wonderful and these are too!

12 Tips To Creating Social Media Communities

12/07/2007

Community In another online world, I am the moderator of the American Marketing Association's member only Internet Marketing SIG. Recently a community member asked for ideas on how to launch a social networking community for physicians.

I've been hearing buzz about - let's called them the Gotham Cities of communities .. Girl friend, I don't think I need to name names but drop a few initials MS .. FB .. YT .. some people have been saying there is no need for any more.  However, in this highly fragmented world I still believe if you can create a 'long tail/niched' safe environment where people feel  comfortable, the community is relevant, the members are listened to and brought into the development you have a good chance of giving people value and succeeding.

The AMA person should look at this from two view points: the unique challenges of engaging docs and the basics of building community. Here was my response. How do you think community should be build and is there still room in this virtual world for new niche players?

1. Begin with a very clear goal, that goes beyond the number of eye balls, that integrates metrics. As with any marketing strategy (and I assume that this is part of a larger initiative) social media can and should be held accountable. However, the measurements may be (and often are) different. For example instead of the number of unique visitors you might look at length of visit, number of comments, integration of relationships, etc.

2. As in any product/service you can't be all things to all people so who within the doc community are you targeting e.g., new docs, specialists, docs who have an interest in changing the healthcare system, docs who are politically active, etc? Do your conversation categories match their needs and expectations?

3. Once you have the strategic direction developed look at the "pay back"  to the community. Especially with docs where time is a very precious commodity what do they get for participating in your community? Again, taking the mystic out of the equation and approaching it from a product/service marketing point of view  .. what are the benefits? Another example is Sermo, a closed community for *only*  licensed physicians. The benefit is the members are in a 'safe world' .. well quasi safe since Sermo has allowed paid sponsors to listen in to the conversations .. and can share their opinions, exchange ideas without  patients or the larger world listening in.

Sidebar: An (email) interview with the founder of Sermo, Dr. Daniel Palestrant is in the works. One of the questions I asked  Dr. Palestrant - Let’s start with the end game and then fill in some of the details. It appears as though the long-range vision for Sermo is not simply to create a virtual chat room for U.S. docs, but through that community to become the voice of U.S. physicians that in turn, impacts the healthcare system. I had the sense the community wanted to go further too. Please tell Diva readers some of the blueprint that will turn that dream into a reality. Should be an interesting discussion.

4. Perhaps this should be #1 .. always remember that your world is part of consumer generated media and people will talk about what they like and what they don't like in other communities and on blogs and within your own community. Those conversations may not stay in the virtual world but may get picked up by main stream media and you may find yourself on the front page of the WSJ or NYT. So understanding the culture is critical. 

  • Honesty, transparency and authenticity are not nice to haves but *must haves* if you enter this space.

5. Develop guidelines  that give the community room to breath but at the same time define expectations. The right guidelines will also help build trust .. in the community and among its members. If people feel "safe" and appreciated they are more likely to engage. (see #7)

6. Identify authentic champions who can help nurture the community and want to take an active role in its creation.

7. (You) take an active role also in nurturing your community members. Ask for their opinions,  listen to the conversations and if appropriate participate.

8. In building a physician community personal invitations are a must for the initial launch. Word of mouth will build if the community is found to be of value. Consider identifying people who are active within social media worlds e.g., blogs, Facebook, etc.

9. Explore creating a Facebook group. While this may seem counter intuitive it may provide additional awareness.

10. Consider an email strategy that promotes some of the more popular/interesting conversations.

11. What can you do to give back to the larger community? For example is there a way to support a not for profit? Working towards a common cause or goal may encourage strangers to become friends.

  • 12. This deserves repeating .. listen and learn from your community. Make it easy for them to talk to you. Talk to them off community.
        Read more about developing social media communities in Diva Marketing Interviews
        Nancy White
        Elisa Camahort - BlogHer
        Simon Schnieders of BabyChums
        Rebecca Weeks of DivineCaroline

        Thanks to Create The World You Dream for the graphic

Friday Fun: Book Tag

11/30/2007

Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

This Friday Fun - let's play tag! Children_playing_tagRemember when "tag" was a fun innocent game that children played at recess. Do you remember recess?

Divas and wonderful bloggers Nettie Hartstock and Tammy Lenski "tagged" me in a virtual game/meme .. book tag. Rather goes along with what has been the theme this week books for holiday gifts on Wednesday and an interview with new author Geoff Livingston.

Here goes...

How many books do you own?
I have not a clue. Hundreds. Thousands. I started to count and gave up at 500. Books are friends. I love to collect them and to share them too.

What was the last book you read?
The Artist Way by Julie Cameron It's a book that you can only read when the time is right for it in your life.

What was the last book you purchased?
Age of Conversation. I bought 6 copies today. Last day before the price doubles. Read about the Bum Rush set for 12-14.

What five books are most meaningful to you?
-Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin. I just know Elizabeth Bennett would be blogging.
-Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. So many good lessons and a wonderful love story too.
-The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Okay, so it's not really 1 "book" but it's one book on my book shelf so I'm counting it as 1!
-Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon. Guess I should throw in one biz book and this is simple, practical and powerful.
-Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. How can you not love Dr. Seuss? Great "present book."

What is your most obscure favorite book?
Julie Harris Talks To Young Actors by Julie Harris and Barry Tarshis. I recently found this book in a box  far back in a closet. It's special because my dad sent it to me when my dream was the theatre. Tugged inside was a small white card with this note - I hope this book will be a little help in realizing your goals. Dad

The rules says I have to tag five people. The following five have dropped recent comments on Diva. So in the spirit of getting to know you better .. Tag You're It! 

Martha Retallick
Susan Reid
Lewis Green
Glenda Watson Hyatt
Ben Casnocha

How many books do you own?
What was the last book you read?
What was the last book you purchased?
What five books are most meaningful to you?
What is your most obscure favorite book?

Can Women Change The World Through Social Media?

10/22/2007

Happy Monday. How about a little guessing game to jump start your week? (Take a sip of your coffee and stay with me on this one.)

Q: What is one common denominator of a successful blog?

A: I say passion. Without passion about the topic it's difficult to sustain these hungry critters with content. (Yes, there is also honesty, transparency, authenticity and more but stay with me on this one.)

Q: What is one benefit that you can derive from a blog written from a passionate point of view?

A: I say viral word of mouth buzz. (Yes, there is also relationship building, brand awareness, SEO lift and more but take another sip of your coffee and stay with me on this one.)

Greenplanet Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust, has a BIG vision that combines passion, social media buzz and women. She is working very hard to not only change the lives of families around the world but positively impact the bottom-line of business at the same time. She's not in this game alone. Among the key players who share Mary's goals is Lee Scott, President and CEO of Wal-Mart. He's putting the significant force of the largest retailer in the world into play to make this dream a reality.

"It's viral in nature and company programs are usually not viral."
      Doug McMillian President and CEO, Sam's Club

Q: What "drops to the bottom-line, makes you feel good, improves quality of life?" Quote from Lee Scott
A: Sustainability

The company you either love or love to hate might have found a way to win the hearts of many with its commitment to the environment. Earlier this month Wal-Mart invited its Big Brand vendors and some consultants and a few bloggers to its Live Better Sustainability Summit. Lee Scott  explained what the company has done (launched initiative in 2004), what the current outcomes have been (10 $Billion saved in the last 2-years from packaging efficiencies) what the future holds not only for the Wal-Mart but for its vendors (20% of items influenced by Live Better innovation in 2008).

Lee Scott and Mary Hunt both believe that it is through business via consumers, not government, that  will result in changing the way we live. Not only our personal life styles but our business life styles as well.

" .. the leadership isn't going to come from the White House. Ever. At best, Washington can enhance what is already in motion. The answer lies in Time Magazine's Person of the Year - YOU, and another big organism of YOUs - Wal Mart and the 62,000 YOUs in their supplier base." - Mary Hunt

While Lee Scott is leveraging the power of retail economics Mary Hunt is leveraging the economic power of the women online through social media. "Why women?" you may ask. Research indicates that women hold the purse strings when it comes to consumer buying decisions. It just makes good sense to follow the money. These stats were taken from the Women's Congress site.

FACT: Women influence 95% and make 85% of all consumer buying decisions.*
FACT: By the year 2010, women will control 60% of wealth in the U.S.*
FACT: Women-owned firms are growing at nearly twice the rate as firms as a whole.*
FACT: America's 9.1 million woman-owned businesses employ 27.5 million people and contribute $3.6 trillion to the economy. **
FACT: Female entrepreneurs account for 70% of new business start-ups.*
FACT: Women comprise 46% of purchasing managers and 58% of wholesale and retail buyers.***

*Center for Women's Business Research
**U.S. Small Business Administration
***U.S. Department of Labor

Mary is building alliances with many bloggers and online communities including the influential  Big Green Purse which has challenged women to be One In A Million where if a million women intentionally shift at least $1000 of their existing budget to environmentally-friendly products, we can have a noticeable ONE BILLION DOLLAR IMPACT in the marketplace.

Denise Wakeman, Next Level Biz Tips, offers some ideas on how to reach your $1000 goal. Her suggestions range from buying recycled paper products for your business to supporting environmentally friendly vendors. Her post is an example of the buzz that is building through blogs (count this post too).

So .. through social media, by impacting businesses' bottom-line, can women change the world? Mary Hunt thinks so. What are your thoughts? Of course, men are always welcome to participate too.

Read More. Learn More:

In Women We Trust Interview with Coral Rose

Cool It Moms Be sure to read the Open Letter To The World Leaders
Yvonne DiVita Lip-Sticking
Funny Business Elana Centor on BlogHer

A World of Difference - The Trendsight Group

Sustainable Buzz

Power Image Green Brand Study 2007

When asked what their perceptions were of green brands, respondents said they are often seen as better quality, though at a higher cost. This perception of green equating premium is one that makes good business sense for anyone considering entering the space.

Top 10 Green Brands From Power Image Green Brand Study 2007

  1. Whole Foods
  2. Wild Oats
  3. Trader Joe’s
  4. Toyota
  5. Honda
  6. Sub Zero
  7. Ikea
  8. Body Shop
  9. GE
  10. Aveda

First W List Profile Blog:Do It Myself Blog

09/30/2007

Yesterday Sunny_cervantes Sunny Cervantes, Confessions of a Marketing Addict, and I were "Facebook emailing" about the Facebook W List Group (registration required). We wanted to find a way to add value to the growing  community.
Sidebar: The W List back-story.

Sunny came up with a brilliant idea that  dovetails nicely with Valeria_maltoni_2 Valeria Maltoni's concept to support and promote women bloggers. Each week on Facebook we'll feature a W List blogger and discuss the blog. Sunny calls this "Sort of like Oprah's Book Club except it's our blogs." The person who is profiled then chooses the following week's blog. However, if you are inspired to write about a W List blogger and you have not been profiled .. go for it girlfriend. This is social media where most anything goes and the rule is that the rules can be broken!

Why Facebook and not in blogosphere? We do hope the discussion and links will post beyond the WLFb group; however, the WLFb group is an opportunity to build community in one virtual place. I'll make an effort to post the profile reviews on Diva Marketing.

Sunny's idea .. so Sunny has the honor of writing the first profile. She tapped the inspirational Glenda Glenda_watson_hyatt_3 Watson Hyatt who authors the Do It Myself Blog.
 

"So, I'm choosing The Left Thumb Blogger - Glenda Watson's blog. I chose it because...well, I got curious how one can blog only with her left thumb. And Glenda's blog is amazing! We take our health and freedom for granted most of the time that we can never seem to appreciate it until someone else points it out to us.

Glenda posted about Accessible Transportation and I feel truly humbled by her experience. Here I am whining and griping about having to walk one block to my corner store. Somewhere, on the other side of the world, someone else is grateful for her ability to move around.

And it's so amazing how Glenda doesn't let her cerebral palsy prevent her from enjoying the quality of life she wants. She rides horses. She can sit-ski. She's more sporty and active than me. I'm such a couch potato. :(

I especially like what she said, "in total control of where I am going, with a contagious smile across my face….until I run out of accessible sidewalk!"  In the meantime, I often don't know where I'm going and I end up hitting doors or walls. Sigh. I could learn so much more from Glenda."

InColleen_kulikowski her terrific recap post about BlogOrlando, W Lister Colleen Kulikowski included a quote from Shel Israel, author of Naked Conversations,Shel_israel_3 that underscores why a W List? Why profile bloggers? Why take the time to build virtual relationships?

Social media is building a generosity cult -- You get the most influence, by giving the most. Shel Israel

Sidebar: Congrats!to Shel on his quotes in today's New York Times. Shel made the front page of not the Business section but the Style section .. which is where the real power of the NYT's is housed .. pretty nice for a "recovering PR guy."

From Sunny in the Phillippines to Valeria in Philly to Glenda in Canada to Colleen in Florida to Shel in California to me Toby_2_smaller_2 in Atlanta the world grows not only smaller .. but perhaps a little kinder.  Why? Because social media is all about people .. one-by-one-by-one. AsYvonne_divita_2 Yvonne DiVita says, "What's not to like about that?"

Sidebar: Glenda and her husband Darrell are going to BlogWorld. I so hope I get the chance to meet them!

Blogger Relations: A Side Step To Buy Buzz

07/30/2007

BBF Tim Jackson, Masiguy, commented on a recent Diva post - "Blogger Relations Strategies are HUGE."

I'd go so far as to say Blog_lgthat many brands will take their first dive (or second step after first listening we hope) into social media not by writing a traditional blog but with a side step passive strategy of BR .. blogger relations.

This quote from James Clifton, European Planning Director, Agency.com, reinforces my thoughts.- “We believe that it is important to look at the people driving social media and and work out how to engage them, rather than just jumping on the latest MySpace or YouTube bandwagon."

Sidebar: Last month Agency.com released findings from, Who Is Driving Social Media, an analysis of what they term influencers - "uploaders."The big strategic implication of the Uploaders study is clear – brands need to think of these digital influencers as a resource, not a target. - Dr. Paul Marsden.

That's an interesting concept. Agency.com doesn't say brands should build relationships and expand community with bloggers but instead suggests that bloggers should be positioned as a "resource." And what is a "target?" I've sent off an eMail to Marianne Stefanowicz, Assoc. Director, PR & Marketing Agency.com Worldwide asking for clarification.  Ms Stefanowicz was indicated as a contact on the release. Perhaps she'll drop a comment or respond back. If she does I'll let you know.

We've seen BR used to chat it up about cameras, computers, retail stores, TV shows.  Think about it .. BR provides many of the same benefits as does active participation in social spaces *. The risks associated with BR are different than an active participation strategy. For some organizations they may be easier to mitigate. Here are a few -

Blogger Relations Strategy Risks

  • No control of a blogger's posts or non posts - negative reviews are very possible
  • Not understanding the social media cultures - remember each village in the blogosphere and social networking sites have their own unique nuances and social media etiquette
  • Not paying attention to details - its the little things that will trip you up
  • Not including over riding benefits to the community as well as the blogger

Sidebar: *Active participation in social space: participation in the conversation: launching a blog or a YouTube video, joining a social networking site a la Facebook or Flickr, and what seems to be an extreme risk for brands -commenting on blogs. Let's take a look at some of the rationale why BR is gaining in acceptance.

Benefits of a Blogger Relations Program (Over Active Participation Social Space Tactics)

  • Viral buzz - easy linking and pass along .. the echo effect
  • Search engine key word lift - increased brand mentions from multiple blogs and longevity of website content
  • Influencer behavior - BBF*, who I trust likes, it so I'll give it a try
  • Less time commitment  - the agency does the work 
  • Less resource drain - no need to dedicate people to write posts and participate in the conversation
  • Less lawyer involvement - not involved in reviewing (or sanitizing) bloggers' posts
  • Limited IT involvement -  not involved in development or hosting of web pages

While a BRS may build a limited community, based on the program you develop, the downside is it's more likely you'll Not build community. Agency.com suggests that you invite "uploaders" to be brand advisors . Sounds like a vintage marketing strategy called a customer circle to me. Quess what's old is new again.

All well and good you may say, but how does it affect brand equity? Great question Diva and Divo. Glad you asked. Immediate Future, an agency in Great Britain, took a look at how the social media buzz of major brands compared to the Interbrand Top 100. The results may surprise you .. or not. Immediate Future has generously shared results, methodology and offers their conclusions.

Coke Flash! Although Coca Cola was ranked by Interbrand as The Number One Brand in 2006 my friends down the street don't show up in Immediate Future's Top Twenty-five Social Spaces Share of Voice. Google, with an Interbrand ranking of 24 is the #1 Brand when it comes to buzzz.

Share_of_voice_chart_social_space_2

Even with Coke's push into Second Life, YouTube and quasi consumer generated content it appears not many people wanted to be (part of) .. the Coke Side of Life. What does that mean?

The data from this study was collected in April 2007 and Coke's virtual coke machine strategy launched mid month. Perhaps the buzz will build and 2007 will bring Coke into the top 25.

Not sure what to make of this except another example that the game it is a changin!

Sidebar: There are talented people who can help you navigate this new industry. It only takes a nano second to become an expert .. not! For some reason there are too many people who after seconds on Facebook or a few blog posts position themselves as experts. Please, please, please if you do choose to work with someone to develop social space strategies .. check  credentials.

Diva Marketing Talks Blogger Relations
From Blogger Relations To Blogger Relations Programs
12 Blogger Relations Tips For PR, Advertising & Brand Marketers

Good Relationships Should Impact Your Bottom-line

05/10/2007

Girlfriend, life as a consultant is a roller coaster ride. I'm buried under a research project that is consuming every waking second. And of course deadline driven. The assignment explores what is important to customers in a price sensitive niche market. Can you guess what that might be? Relationships win out over pricing. As one man told me -

Good relationships save me more money in the long run than a few bucks savings on  product costs. His reason .. good relationships = good service = $ savings.

While I go into report writing mode here are two must read interviews from BBFs Rajesh from @Blogworks in India and Geoff Livingston from The Buzz Bin in Virginia that demonstrate how social media can help build relationships .. no matter where your clients may reside.

Rajesh @ Blogworks - discusses the impact of user generated content and social networking communities. Rajesh's moderation brings out insights into what is occuring in India. He is joined by Alok Mittal, Canaan Partners early stage venture fund, Amit Ranjan, Slideshare and Prena Gupta, Yaari.com a social networking site for Indian youths

Geoff The Buzz Bin - Interviews Brian Lusk from Southwest Airlines. Southwest is celebrating its one year blog birthday. Happy blog birthday Southwest! Brian explains that their blog is used for customer service, group/laboratory and a way to build relationships.

The conversation on this multiple author blog (I really like multiple author blogs) goes beyond the happenings at the airline. It's real "people talking with people." Great example was the post about a colonoscopies that saved a reader's life. That alone has to be worth the efforts of putting into play the funny website called a "blog."

A big lesson learned that Brian shared - "While a blog is an excellent tool to hightlight and reflect your culture, it isn't the device to change your culture."

Friday Fun: Ask Patty Goes Second Life - Interview With Jody Devere

05/04/2007

Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Did this week seem especially long to you?  After a week traveling from Atlanta to Las Vegas to speak at the second Healthcare Blogging Summit .. more on that one next week! .. Friday Fun is much needed. How about you? Jimmy_choo__shoe_2

Kick off those fab Jimmy Choos pour yourself an Appletini and enjoy a special interview with the Diva of Women and Cars (ta dah!) Jody DeVere, president of Women's Automotive Association International  (WAAI) and Ask Patty (The web site created by professional women in the auto industry for women to get advice on car purchases, maintenance and other automotive related topics. Very cool.)

Jody is bringing Ask Patty to Second Life. She gracioulsy agreed to give Diva's readers the back-story about the marketing stratetgy.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Can you give me a bit around what many will call your most innovative strategy and others will say is a short-term flash of cool? Why are you bringing Ask Patty to Second Life?

Jody Devere/ Ask Patty - Ask_patty_second_life To reach out to the Second Life community and get our brand and message out in front of the 5m + registered users that I assume are 50% women! These are serious internet players and many key influencers in the social media world and more and more auto manufactures are participating in SL.

I wanted to go where the internet addicts live and stake out a territory to get noticed! Second Life is an online virtual world populated by hundred's of thousands of users/avatars from all over the world.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Why did Ask Patty choose to invest in an social media strategy that seems to skew towards men?

Jody Devere/ Ask Patty - I think you would be very surprised at how many women are just as passionate about cars as men. 40% of NASCAR race fans are women and there are a few million of those at least!. The assumption that the automotive world is really just for men is one of the "old ideas' that has fueled AskPatty's success and popularity overall.

Toby/Diva Marketing - How will you promote your Second Life world?

Jody Devere/ Ask Patty - We created an entry point to our SL venue on our blog, website and are promoting through the bloggosphere, press releases etc.  Our best advertisement is our venue in SL, shaped like a car and very unique it attracts much attention and stand out prominently in the SL landscape. Our SL venue builder Osprey Therian is a genius! Most people "fly" around SL and we are very visible from the air land and sea thanks to her creativity !

Toby/Diva Marketing - Did you buy an island?

 Jody Devere/ Ask Patty - We applied and  were accepted to do a build on Pontiac's Motorati Island a few months back, they deeded us our parcel to build on. Motorati Island is the island of all things automotive..a great position for AskPatty to be in 'car-land" extreme! Pontiac's Motorati Island includes 96 acres of shops, car dealers, hangouts, restaurants, racetracks, and road-side attractions dedicated to automotive enthusiasts in Second Life.

Toby/Diva Marketing - How will you make the experience different from that of a "first life" experience?

Jody Devere/ Ask Patty - Direct interaction and conversations with our visitors - It's like chat on steroids. Avatars all have a Real Life too and conversation and friendships are encouraged in SL. I meet new women daily and WOM works here too Big Time! Great immediate feedback on AskPatty.com and what we are all about for women car buyers from our visitors as well!

Toby/Diva Marketing - What is success for Ask Patty in second life?

Jody Devere/ Ask Patty - Increase brand awareness, take it up a notch ... Second Life is getting tons of press and I wanted to catch the wave so to speak - Increase traffic and usage of all of our great services for women!

Did I mention Second Life is FUN with a capital F for FUN? It is a seriously creative place to explore and get creative with your marketing plan. Be careful it is very addicting!  Read about Mortorati Life and Ask Patty's creative adventure into the virtual world where you can -

  1. Get advice from our panel of auto expert women
  2. Read our automotive FAQs
  3. Enter our $50,000 Automotive Shopping Spree
  4. Get automatic service reminders with MyCarPage
  5. Search for your Dream Car!
  6. Get a free Ask Patty shirt and pin
  7. Learn about child seat safety at our child safety kiosk
  8. Let the Second Life kiddies play in our play area!

Jody .. very progressive, innovative and cool. Hmm .. any virtual speeding tickets? Just wondering ..