Social Media "Pioneers" Tell Why

08/01/2013

We came, we saw, we kicked its ass. ~ Ghostbusters

Crowd sourceJust One Crowd Sources Question

Recently many of my social media conversations seemed to be about the perception that social is a young person’s game. Perhaps that’s true to an extent as the Pew 2012 Demographic report indicates.

However, many of the people who began exploring social media 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 years ago were 30+ when they/we started working in this industry. At the time we stepped into what was fondly called, The Blogosphere, it was an unproven direction to take business communications.

In fact, some companies thought we were a bit crazed to encourage brands to embrace concepts like transparency, authenticity, honesty and the most radical of all … customer-to-brand, peer-to-peer conversations in public forums.

I was curious to understand why the people, who I think of as the "real people" pioneers of social media, took a leap of faith to work in a field that skeptics and pundits said was just a fad. So I reached out to a few folks from across the globe to discover their reasons for Why.

Some of the Whys

Business Applications - Several people saw blogs in a purely business context --a competitive advantage, opportunity to speak directly to customers and stakeholders, new avenue to expand networks and connect with industy thought leaders, easy way to share (business) information, 

New Challenge - Other people liked the challenge of something new and wanted to experiment.  Some realized that blogs could shape opinons beyond the influence and gatekeeping of traditional media .. they saw blogs as way to empower people.

Personal Expression - Others wanted to share not only information but their opinons. For other the satisfaction of personal expression influenced them to explore blogs. 

Anita Campbell, Small Biz Trends - To set my business apart and gain national visibility. Blogs were the ticket to that.

Neville Hobson, Communication Consultant - Partly for that very reason: unproven, often risky! Mostly, though, to try and figure out what blogs were and what they could do in business. Today social media is pervasive and mainstream awareness is very high.

It's a double-edged sword in business, requiring deeper understanding of and sensitivity to people's changing behaviours and the complexities of those changing behaviours in a workplace setting. A constant learning experience.

Nettie Renyolds, Nettie Ink  - I was totally enthralled with how the new communication tools were going to educate and empower people online. I was also writing the Professional PR blog for Allbusiness.com. I was so  blessed to get to try out these tools even in infancy.

If anyone who is under 30 and working in social media believes that everything they are using now will apply in the same efficacy as it does in the next 24 months -they are misguided.

These tools are ever-changing so every tool and every piece of communication must first establish context and then the best tool to use is secondary. Also - keep your website as your central anchor!

Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer - I started as a personal blog. I reviewed movies, theatre, books, and restaurants, among other personal observations.

Once I shared a restaurant review with some colleagues and saw that review spread across my network and encourage dozens of people to try that restaurant I had what I call my "peanut butter chocolate" moment about how blogging and online community was a natural communications and marketing channel.

I really thought the ability to speak directly to your customers, readers, audience, etc. was an opportunity that organizations should not pass up. And even my early experiments in marketing via the social web channels that existed at the time (pre-Facebook, pre-Twiiter, etc.) showed immediate and quantifiable promise. Some-ppl-are-old-at-18-and-young-at-90_by-DustBurst_via-groovypinkblog-300x224

Rajesh Lalwani, Blogworks - As a student and practitioner of public relations and communication, I saw the emergent change where organizations and stakeholders could engage directly; where the role of shaping opinion and influencing purchase would no longer be limited to mainstream media, but everyone; the changed dynamics of a world where news would be disseminated first by people on the street.

I could see it clearly that this will change how communication, reputation, marketing, customer service, research, content had worked thus far. I felt this was my opportunity to participate in the future of everything brand and I jumped in. I didn't think this was risky. I was clear, this would be mainstream

Merrill DuBrow, M/A/R/C Research Someone very smart (you - Ms Bloomberg convinced me to blog - said it is critical to buisness and yes you were right.

Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws, Lipsticking  - I joined in 2004 and it gave me immediate results. I was connected to people in the business world that I would never have known about, before using a blog.

I started blogging because my partner had learned about blogging in his college course (adult learning) and thought it was a fantastic tool to connect people from all over the world. And, he was right. It connected me to dozens of people in the marketing world I was just then venturing to enter.

I think the younger folks can learn a lot from us 'old timers' - including how to bring tried and true business practices to a social media world. And, we can learn a lot from them - such as learning how to apply some of the new tools being invented. This shouldn't be a "them" or "us" kind of thing.

It should be an open conversation about life. Isn't that what blogs and social media are all about? And, isn't that how you build connections?

David Berkowitz, MRY - I got into digital media because I wanted to write and not be a journalist in any traditional sense. Before I was blogging in 2004, I was already writing a lot for eMarketer (my full-time job), and then started contributing to MediaPost.

Blogging was a natural extension, especially when I decided to focus more on establishing my own voice through my blog. After the fact, I came to appreciate the community of bloggers that I was part of just by blogging.

B.L. Ochman, Whats Next - I had been publishing a print newsletter called What's Next and then moved it online to my website as a weekly. When it became possible to switch to a blog, I didn't hesitate for a second.

Started in 2002, and only took that long to blog because it took me a long time to find a designer who could create it to have the same design as my website. I wanted a graphic identity for my content.

Paul Chaney, Chaney Marketing Group - It was an outlet for personal expression, and a way to scratch my writing itch. My first posts didn't have to do as much with business, but that's the direction it turned pretty quickly.

Brendan Hurley, Goodwill of Greater Washington  - When we launched our social media/blogging initiatives in 2007, research data supported the fact that at the time it was a medium dominated by a younger audience, and that's who we were trying to reach and influence.

Our adoption was purely a strategic business decision. However, we didn't go about it without some due diligence. We consulted with Geoff Livingston, a well-respected social media expert, who helped us develop a comprehensive and integrated approach.

Social media is a powerful tool and has become a critical and growing component of our overall marketing strategy. But in most cases, I still recommend taking an integrated approach. Even Zappos is using TV...

Brent Leary, CRM Essentails - Just was looking to share my thoughts and experiences in the CRM industry.

C.B. Whittemore - Opportunity to experiment and explore firsthand with online tools when every sign I came across said that marketing and business would head that way. I could do it on my time, at minimal cost other than my time. Plus, the more I got involved, the more cool smart people I came across - with Diva Toby being one of the very coolest. 

Barb Giamanco - My background is in technology, so I saw these tools as the next evolution of technology to support business processes.

It isn't about age. It is about attitude. Social media isn't a young person's game - whatever that's supposed to mean, and I think that the people who say that are using it as an excuse not to learn new skills.

These new technologies and approaches impact business in the same way that fax machines changed up business. So did being required to know word processing or how to use presentation software. People resisted computers.

They said we'd never do business using email. They also said that people wouldn't purchase products over the web and that mobile phones wouldn't be a big deal. THEY were wrong and still are if they think that social media is a fad.

Kevin O'Keefe, Lexblog - To help people, specifically to help lawyers understand how to use the Internet in a way that could enhance their reputations as a trusted and reliable authorities.

Marianne Richmond - At first it just seemed so incredible to be able to connect directly online with thought leaders, true experts and people working in same business. Then the light bulb went off that businesses could connect directly with consumers and vice versa.

Drew McLelllan, McLellan Marketing Group - I was curious -- and it seemed like the right time to jump in. It was new, everyone was making mistakes so I was free to experiment and explore, knowing that others would be forgiving if I wasn't perfect at it.

There was also a professional necessity. I own an agency and knew our clients would be need to consider social media as an option. I couldn't counsel them if I wasn't fluent myself. Rather than read about it or watch it, I jumped into the deep end, launching a blog and creating a profile on all of the major platforms of the day.

Des Walsh, Business Coach - In 2003, there was a convergence of my enthusisam for networking, my keen interest in communication technology (for communication's sake, not so much for the technology itself) and my then new involvement in coaching.

At a coaching conference in San Francisco early 2003 a session "become an e-celebrity through blogging" opened my eyes to blogging as a way to promote my coaching business beyond my relatively limited circle in Sydney, Australia. As I went on I learned more about blogging and became an evangelist for business blogging.

Too many mature age people see bloggng and social media as being about technology. For me it is about people and communication. My life has been immeasurably enriched through the friendships I have made worldwide through social media and my business has benefited continually from my engagement with and knowledge of social media

Sybil Stersjic, Quality Service Marketing - I developed my business blog to share and further develop my professional passion for employee-customer care. My blog also gave me a web presence since I did not have a website at the time.

Jane Genova, Executive and Marketing Pro - It got me into the "conversation" without having to be admitted by the gatekeepers (editors) in media. I had a hunch that there were others like myself who wanted to be in and be able to bypass the gatekeepers. Stay with what's working. Be aware how your medium is changing. Change with it.

Shel Israel, Author -  Are you aware that I spent about six months in 2011 writing a book called Pioneers of Social Media? It never found a publisher, nor did I sense a groundswell of interest that would have made me willing to take the risk to self-publish. 

Anyway, many of the pioneers are my age, we are 60s kids who believed in power to the people and transparency and lots of sex. Some of them, A few include Howard Rheingold, host the The Well, first online community; Randy Farmer, co-developer of Habitat, first use of avatars, so that you could have an online presence, Dave Winer, father of the blog, RSS and more, are all from the 60s. Each had an interest in using technology to empwer people through networking.

I am not a pioneer of social media. I'm more like a witness. I was in the right place at the right time to see the revolutionary aspects that social media promised. These people were talking about improving the structure of a global society. I doubt that any of them ever envisioned cute cat photos.

I remain, a camp joiner more than a pioneer. I like to write about people who see how technology makes life, work, health, learning, entertainment and communications better.

The technology of the pioneers has done much to change the world. But I'm not sure the current trends are what they had in mind. It's pretty much like when television came in in the 1950s and NBC's Sarnoff dreamed of opera for the masses. Around the corner, Bill Paley, was formed CBS. He looked at Sarnoff and said "screw that shit. We'll give them I love Lucy and sell cigarettes. Guess who won?

~ and me. I launched Diva Marketing in 2004, because my friend Dana Van Den Heuvel told me I had no credibilty talking about blogs, in training programs, unless I was actively involved. Diva Marketing was to be a way for me to learn. I had no intention of keeping it going for more than a few months.

Almost as soon as I wrote my first post people reached out to welcome me to the blogosphere. I  quickly realized this wasa far different world than websites The potential to build and nuture relationships and talk directly to customers in this funny thing called "comments" was the missing link of the business internet. So I stayed .. and as they say, the rest is history.

Update

Beth Harte - I jumped into corporate social media in 2006 (it wasn't even a term then). I saw it more of an extension of PR than marketing. It was a tough sell back then.

Pink boaToss of a boa to these amazing people who were among the first to set the wheels in montion for an exciting new way to bring brands, employees and customer together. 

Anita Campbell - Small Biz Trends @Small Biz Trends Began blogging 2003 (USA)

Barbara Giamanco - @BarbaraGiamanco Linkedin  Began blogging 2004 (USA)

Beth Harte - The Harte of Marketing @BethHarte Began blogging 2006 (USA)

B.L. Ochman Whats Next Blog Pawfun Blog  @WhatsNext Google+ Y2006 (USA)ouTube Whats Next Blog  YouTube Beyond Social Media Beganblogging 1996 (USA)

Brent Leary - Brent Leary.com @BrentLeary Began blogging 2004 (USA)

C. B. Whittemore - Simple Marketing Now  Simply Marketing Now Blog @CBWhittemore Began blogging 2006 (USA)

David Berkowitz - Marketers Studio Blog About David Berkowitz @DBerkowitz @MRY Began blogging 2004  (USA)

Des Walsh - DesWalsh.com  @DesWalsh Began blogging 2003 (Australia)

Drew McLellan - Drew's Marketing Minute @DrewMcLellan Began blogging 1999 (USA)

Elisa Camahort Page - BlogHer G@ElisaC Began blogging 2003 (USA)

Jane Genova - JaneGenova.com Law and More Over 50 Began blogging 2005 (USA)

Kevin O’Keefe - LexBlog  @KevinOKeefe  Began blogging 1996 (USA)

Merril Dubrow - The Merrill Dubrow Blog  @MerrillDubrow Began blogging 2006 (USA)

Marianne Richmond - Resonance Parntership @Marianne Began blogging 2005 (USA)

Nettie Reynolds - Nettie Ink LinkedIn  @NetReynolds (1999) (USA)

Neville Hobson - Neville Hobson.com @jangles  Began blogging 2002(UK) 

Paul Chaney - Chaney Marketing Group @PChaney Began blogging 2004 (USA)

Rajesh Lalwani - BlogWorks @RajeshLawlani  Began blogging 2005 (India)

Shel Israel - Shel Israel on Forbes Facebook LinkedIn @ShelIsraelegan blogging 2005 (USA)

Sybil F. Stershic - Qualty Service Marketing Quality Service Marketing @SybilQSM Linkedin LinkedIn (USA)

Toby Bloomberg - Diva Marketing Blog Pinterest Bio Board  @Tobydiva Began blogging 2004 (USA)

Yvonne DiVita - Lipsticking @lipsticking BlogPaws @Blogpaws Began blogging 2004 (USA)

Just One Crowd Sourced Question is an on-going series that taps the knowledge, experience and yes opinons of people who believe that one of the core values of social media culture is learning together.

How Do You Take The "Fear Factor" Out Of Social Media?

01/27/2011

You learn more quickly under the guidance of experienced teachers. You waste a lot of time going down alleys if you have no one to lead you. W. Somerset Maugham

Just One Crowd Sourced Question

Crowd source Before there were books or conferences about social media .. before there was Facebook or Twitter people tried to make sense of marketing in a digital world by tapping the experiences of those who were exploring the (then) innovative ideas of blogs and RSS. 

We met in late night Skype chats exchanged emails and posted our thoughts and questions on blogs. We learned from each other. I can not think of a more generous group than those who live in the social media world.

In the spirit of Somerset Maugham, I thought it would be fun to crowd source a series of how do you do it posts. So I did what any good social media marketer might do, I tapped my social networks. 20 Marketers kindly shared their thoughts on the 2nd question in the series: Just 1 Crowd Sourced Question.

The funny thing is we continue to learn from each other within our ever expanding digital worlds. Enjoy!

  • Question: How do you take the "fear factor" out of social media?

First of all, you have to uncover the fear. Is it fear of writing? Many people feel they aren't good enough writers. Is it fear of comments? Is it fear of time? Once you know what the issue is, it's easy to tackle. For writing - a quick demo of the conversational style of blogs and social media works wonders.

If it's the fear of comments - well, why do you fear comments? You can manage them but... teaching people that a complaint is a gift, takes care of that. If it's fear of time, a simple editorial calendar and the understanding that you can prepost everything - even on Twitter, helps people relax. ~ Yvonne DiVita, LipSticking  @lipsticking

Start with talking about objectives first and tools depending on objectives. Emphasize results are measureable and measuremet can be matched to business goals. ~ Shashi Bellamkonda, Network Solutions @shashib

The fear factor in social media stems from not understanding how social media works. Instead of seeing social media as a conversation, it is often views as tools, technology, and broadcasting. To remove the fear factor, it is important to show people that social media is about talking with others, and building relationships through sharing conversation. When the human aspect is considered, rather than the technological aspects, the entire idea of social media becomes a natural part of life. ~ Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World  @WayneHurlbert 

We need to remind people that they have a digital footprint regardless of whether they use social media. Choosing not to participate is no guarantee of staying below the radar screen, even if you'd prefer to keep a low profile. ~Bonnie SashinBonnie's On it @bsashin

Educate, inspire, and make it personal. Adding a little fear helps too, by showing what their competitors are doing and showing them what will happen if they keep sticking their heads in the sand. ~ David Berkowitz, Marketer's Studio  @dberkowitz

Oh, please, just dive in! There are, for sure, opportunities to commit faux pas (and plenty of helping hands along the way for quick recovery), and far more to share, connect and become regarded as the expert you are. Fear? Not in this arena!. ~ Lya Sorano The Oliver/Sorano Group

I guess the biggest fear is saying something dumb & then knowing your great great great grandchildren will be able to read it online with all their friends. ~ Anon

I find it's less "fear factor" and more "I know I need to be doing social media, but how? I don't have time for this. Can't you just do it for me?" We're all trying to do more with less and keeping up with social media (being consistent) and learning the fast changing tools are the biggest hurdles.

Assigning dollar values to fans and followers, sharing case studies of success, and showing ROI on campaigns makes it an easy sell. ~ Angie Robar, LinkedIn 

I suppose I should be more afraid. ;-)

Start slow. Listen at first. Test the waters with retweets and/or sharing cool/interesting content (videos, blog posts, news). I post things about Startups, Technology, and stuff that's very personal. I'm posting as me, not as a brand. And I'm trying to live authentically both IRL and online.

As Chief Chick of StartupChicks, I do represent a brand. A brand that I built almost entirely on Social Media. And I do occasionally think twice about what I am personally posting, and if it could possibly look impact that brand. And I have deleted a post for this very reason. But, for the most part, I don't really worry about it. My friends and followers have come to know ME through this platform, and if I don't always say the exact right thing or have a typo... they'll understand. After all, they are my "friends". ~ Jennifer Bonnett,  Chief Chick, StartupChicks @startupchicks  Founder, Nexpense @jen_bonnett 

Find out how they feel about cocktail parties and water coolers and remind them that its really just the same thing. ~ Anon

I blogged about exactly this! ~ Joel Rubinson, Joel Rubinson

I guess the biggest fear is saying something dumb & then knowing your great great great grandchildren will be able to read it online with all their friends.

Remedy: 
1. Do your best not to say anything dumb. 
2. Take comfort in the fact that it's unlikely that our great great great grandchildren will know how to read anything longer than "lol". 
3. Dance like nobody's watching. (They're all too busy worrying about how dumb they look.)
~  Tsufit, Author, Step Into The Spotlight! Tsufit

Use email marketing as a point of reference. Every new channel comes with the fear factor, and the best way to control / learn them is to get in the game. Use email marketing as a point of reference. Every new channel comes with the fear factor, and the best way to control / learn them is to get in the game. ~ Anon 

Demystify the barriers to participation, lower the expectations, be crystal on the need for communication,  directmarketingobservations.com ~ Marc Meyer, Direct Marketing Observations  @marc_meyer 

To take the 'fear factor' out of social media, I relate it to a person's own online habits e.g. ever read a review on Amazon? look for a how-to video? conduct a search for a local retailer? etc. Most are engaged in some form of social behavior (online) without even realizing it. ~ J Schmitt @cloudspark

 To overcome this fear, start by working w/ someone experienced in social media who will (patiently) help you get familiar & comfortable with SM as a consumer - i.e., show you blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., and then help coach you to join in the conversation/community. ~ Sybil Stershic, Quality Service Marketing @sybilqsm

Being true ones purpose of being on line. Passion mission business Act from a place of love not fear. ~ Anon

Like everything, most fear is related to ignorance or a lack of understanding and education. It is about education of social media for those afraid of it. ~ Jim "Genuine" Turner, One By One Media  @Genuine

Just do it. ~ Steve Woodruff, Steve Woodruff @swoodruff

First I acknowledge that the fear can be well based - bad things happen online, as they do offline. Then I provide analogies for what we do offline in fear situations, e.g. have legal advice, get accountant's advice on financial matters, don't go down dark streets in strange cities, or even into dangerous areas in our own cities or at particularly risky times, have good HR policies in place to cover behavior issues.

Then I say it's just another area for risk management for contemporary companies. Then I say there is no shortage of models, templates and expert advice available (e.g. the social media guidelines explicitly available for copying, in Brian Solis' Engage p196ff). It's a bit of an intellectual approach so it is probably not going to help the people who want to luxuriate in their fear and/or often proudly trumpeted ludditism :). ~ Des WalshDes Walsh @deswalsh

Dragon slayer women .. and my thoughts. Before you can conquer any dragon you must first answer two questions. 1. Why are you afraid. 2. What exactly is your dragon?  

Your responses to the first question will lead you into the culture of how your organization currently conducts business. The insights you discover will lead you to a better understanding of not only your marketing/pr/sales/research strategies; as well as your internal employee culture. 

To answer question number two .. well you've taken the first step by reading this post. Learning as much as you can about social media is the secret sauce. Toby Bloomberg, Diva Marketing @divatoby

How do You take the Fear Factor out of social media? Please share your insights and learnings in the comments.

More Just 1 Crowd Sourced Question Posts

How do you put soul into a blog post?

"Blog Docs” at Viget Labs Give Diva Marketing A Check-up

07/26/2007

In 2005, I met a cool divo by the name of Peter Flaschner, The Blog Studio,  who presented me with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.Diva Peter offered to create a custom new blog “skin” for Diva Marketing. Through a series of posts, that included all the comps, we involved the community in the redesign. The invaluable feedback strongly influenced the design you're viewing. It was an awesome and fun experience and we all learned together what makes a great blog design.

A few weeks ago (at the SITC New Media Nouveaux) I met a cool divo by the name of Ken Yarmosh, Viget Labs,  who presented me with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. Ken  offered to take a look at the mysterious tech side of Diva Marketing  and provide some suggestions on how to optimize Diva.

Ken’s suggestions will range from functionality to some SEO stuff and perhaps some design ideas. We'll also review the flow and navigation. But Ken went one step further. Not only did he present this great opportunity to me but to the cool divo - Geoff Livingston, The Blog Buzz

As with the Diva design, I thought it would be another great experience to share with you and Ken agreed. So over the next few weeks Diva and The Blog Buzz will get a check up (Ken promised it wouldn’t hurt). Geoff and I will keep you posted on what the “Blog Docs” at Viget Labs find.

In case you’re wondering why Geoff and I would trust our “babies” to Viget_labs Viget Labs, Viget Labs is a web consulting firm, of talented developers and marketers, based outside of Washington DC.

They’ve done some amazing work including the development of Seth Godin’s Squidoo and Brittany Spears' website. Hmm .. from Seth to Brittany .. and The Buzz Blog and Diva Marketing .. what a range! This is sure to be an interesting adventure.   

Friday Fun: The Brands Are Coming! The Brands Are Coming!

04/20/2007

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.

Girlfriend, consumer brands continue to step into the blogosphere. A few are actually joining in on the conversation and some even have comments open. Two of my new favs are Marriott On The Move and John Heald Carnival Freedom's Cruise Director.

Marriott on the Move is authored by the CEO of Marriott Hotels, Bill Marriott. Mr. Marriott is going to be one of the best CEO bloggers. When I read Bill Marriott's posts I have the sense that he's talking to me. I hear the rhythm of his style. He's not afraid to take on hard topics. I sense the humanity of the man and believe what he is writing about is real to him .. and I like that a lot.

Not only does Carnival's Cruise Director John Heald give us a real life look at life on a cruise ship but he is really funny.

I am very sorry that I could post my blog thingy over the weekend so I hope you have not all lost interest and have found a better blog to read like Watchingpaintdry.com or even worse another Cruise Directors blog. I learnt today that an esteemed colleague of mine on another line that will remain nameless has started one. I wish him the best of luck and hope it is very successful (no, I don’t, I hope nobody reads it, get your own idea).

Again, a real person emerges from John's posts. A guy you'd like to hang out with on deck sipping a few drinks with cute umbrellas with while waiting for the next shore tour. John, if you need a few bloggers to join you on a Carnival Cruise - my hand is raised high!

Congrats! to BBF Eric Kintz who writes the thought provoking HP blog Marketing Excellence. Eric was Selected by Brandweek as one of the 2007 Top 10 Next Generation Marketers.

For Birthday_cupcakeMaxie's person

 

Astrology business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

The Sun moves into Taurus today, the time of year that brings whispers of joy into the ears of entrepreneurs. Taurus wants us all to be prosperous and revel in the material pleasures the world offers. Taurus says there is more than enough to go around; look and see how you can create products out of what you already have. Where are you not using the resources at your disposal? What is in front of your eyes that with your imagination you could create a new product or service?

The moon in Cancer is void of course all day Monday, it is time to go with the flow and not be married to an agenda. Instead listen to your intuition on what to do and who to call. Tuesday and Wednesday the moon in Leo is a good time to toot your own horn, brag about your services, and be generous in your offerings. Thursday and Friday much work can be accomplished with the moon traveling thorough meticulous Virgo.

Coporate Blog Content

03/19/2007

It's gonna be a bloggy kind of a week. From the great meet-up on with Josh Hallett and Atlanta blogs I'm heading off to Las Vegas to teach a session on social media, The Good. The Blog. The Ugly, for the American Marketing Association's Marketing Workshop and then off to NYC to talk at BlogHer Business and more happy happy blogger fun with CK and lots of awesome friends. 

Hugh_blogging_2 As part of the Marketing Workshop gig I asked the folks attending the session if they had any specific questions they wanted to discuss. Peter C. VanRysdam, 352 Media Group, posed an interesting one.

What is the relationship between corporate communication, industry news, and personal information that the employee should blog on?   

I had my ideas, however, I wondered what corporate bloggers would have to say; so I reached out to a few BBF (blogger best friends). These bloggers work with organizations ranging from healthcare, technology and consumer products to business-to-business. Their responses were insightful and I thought .. hmm .. this would be a great post.  Thanks to Peter for the terrific question and to the informal panel who agreed to share their thoughts with Diva's readers. 

Nick Jacobs, President of Windber Medical Center and the Windber Research Institute  -  Truthfully, I use Hospitalimpact.org for national and international policy issues.  I try to use windberblog.typepad.com for local issues and some diary type posts.  I use ourtownonline.biz  for humor!  So, my formula is more of that from a creative than an administrator.

Remi Adams, Director of Public Relations Homestead (CEO Unplugged Blog) - The answer to that question lies entirely within each, unique, organization; and I don’t think that there should be an “all size fits one” approach to social media within a corporate setting.

This question, however, also depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog. For Homestead, it’s thought leadership in small business and entrepreneurship, so the blog has little to do with the nuts and bolts of our core business and/or product offerings. It’s also written by a smart and savvy CEO, who is as good an information filter as they come. If you’re touching upon appropriate guidelines for employees, this should be based on individual circumstances determined by each organization.

Homestead, for example, doesn’t so much have a policy, as it has a culture that enforces or discourages certain behavior based on its values. You’re much less likely to have bloggers divulging private, internal information in unique circumstances like ours (for many reasons), then you would at a large, impersonal corporations in which employees feel disenfranchised. Blogs, in those circumstances, can be a difficult tool for corporate communications professionals, and would probably merit reasonable corporate guidelines.”

Merrill Dubrow, President M/A/R/C Research -  Not sure we have a strong position but to me opinions are opinions and don’t always represent the companies position. I wouldn’t want anyone to comment about clients, financials or strategy on a blog. My sense is every company is the same.

Christine Halvorson, Stoneyfield Farms - Since Stonyfield Farm was one of the few non-I.T. companies blogging back in 2004, we were feeling our way around and, sort of, making things up as we went along.  Once we got our rhythm in the blog world, we sort of instinctively felt we knew what to write--that corporate "messages" wouldn't really go over well with readers, that we had to tell a story, and we had to have opinions and a certain point of view in the world. 

"Industry news" is kind of tricky.  In the hands of a poor writer, it could be extremely boring.  In the hands of someone who really knows the industry and knows all the nuances, it could be a great read.  I think, at Stonyfield Farm, we felt that our readers wanted to know what we--as a company--cared about and what the broader world was saying about those issues (women's health, organic farming, global warming, saving the environment, etc.)  and so that's what I tried to focus on in the Stonyfield blogs.

As Chief Blogger trying to write and/or coordinate good content there, I also felt that nobody was really that interested in MY daily life, so blogging about it rarely happened, if at all. Instead, I offered my opinion on things relevant to the issues mentioned above. 

I don't think a person who is blogging for a company should blog about his/her personal life unless it is totally and completely relevant to the "story line" of the blog.  For example, if you are assigned to blog about the health care industry and your company's role within that industry, you need to find interesting, compelling content, yes, but that probably does not mean writing about your particular trip to the doctor last week, or your aunt's recent gall bladder surgery. Instead, write YOUR opinion about the state of health care reform today, or advocate that a certain piece of legislation be passed, or whatever.  Nobody cares about your aunt. (Okay, maybe they care, but not that much. )

On the other hand, there are certainly exceptions to this "rule" of mine. Nick's Blog is a great example of this. He writes about health care in big, general terms and in small, specific terms, and sometimes he just writes about his dog.  I think that's great! It gives him a personality and shows the person behind his medical center. 

The content of a blog really has to be tailored to the specific audience you are trying to reach. When I advise corporate blogging clients today, that's my first task with them--to have them be very, very clear about WHO they are writing to and WHY. Once they know that, the content follows rather easily.

Tim Jackson, Masi Bikes - It is my personal belief that all of those items can blend together and not confuse things too much or send the wrong message- IF done right. I blend all three and sometimes it isn't quite the right combination because I get off the target and ramble a bit. That said, I believe that has been one of the factors to the "success" (if you will) of the blog. People have developed a relationship with me through the blog, so the blend of personal, industry and corporate info seems to work.

As for other companies, it really just requires that companies define what kind of relationship they want to have with the readers of the blog. If they want to just make announcements or share news, then they shouldn't blend in personal info, as it might confuse that reader. Maybe they want to use the blog as a way to get product ideas/ feedback.

A blog is great for that too and it has been my experience that people are very willing to help you shape their experience- if you ask them and then listen to them. If they are looking for a more interactive and "personal" relationship, then I say let it all hang out! Obvious exceptions include being offensive, insulting or otherwise acting badly... but that should go without saying.
 
Rick Short, Indium Corporation - As far as a blogging STRATEGY, we certainly have coordinated and detailed plans and activities.  I am trying to pull them all together while the playing field changes and while our wild new ideas proliferate.  It is very fun!

Let’s establish a few of my firmly-held beliefs right up front:

  • Marcom consists of both internal and external communications.
  • Bloggers must exhibit some personality.
  • “News” is most effective when it has a personal element.

You can see where this is all heading.
“Corporate Communication” is targeted at the outside, as well as the inside, world (customers, co-suppliers, and employees). Blogging is one form of corporate communication.  There are two types of blogging: 

  • Officially on behalf of the company 
  • Personal and private
  • “News” can be targeted exclusively internally, or externally.
  • All forms of communication are USUALLY better if they contain a compelling personal element.  They simply are more engaging.
  • People are ALWAYS responsible for their content, whether they are dialoging professionally or privately.

As a company director, I can not control what people do in their personal lives. They are free to say whatever they wish, in any format or style they desire.  But I ALWAYS advise people to start their activities with a GOAL.  My exact words are, “Always begin at the end”.  Describe the following:

  • Exactly WHO
  • Did exactly WHAT
  • After receiving your message WHEN
  • Such that you are ecstatic with the results

Goals can be simple (eg: I want people to get a chuckle out of a funny personal foible that happened to me over the weekend – establishing the fact that I am but a mere mortal.)  Or, they can be complex (eg: I want to gain customer loyalty, first looks, and new opportunities for sales by helping customers consider my technical and customer support teams to be the best in the world.)  No matter what the goal is – always begin your communications with the goal put down in writing.  Then, work toward it, concisely.

Our goal is to establish our company, and our personalities, as trusted, bona fide elements of every single potential customer’s and partner’s decision process.

Social Media Challenges In India

01/10/2007

On December 18th in the year 2006 Jeremiah Owyang, Web Strategy By Jeremiah, posted the following:

2006 was about “What is social media” and “Why does it matter”. Business blogging, flogs, podcasting and second life were the hot topics.

2007 is about “How do I deploy social media”. Companies will start to integrate Social Media upand down and side to side in the organization, both externally as well as internally.

Toby_impact_article_1_07_5 That might be true in the United States, but in some countries the conversation has not reached that level. In some countries business bloggers have just begun their work to position social media as a credible marketing strategy. In some countries the adventure is just beginning.

Rajesh Lalwani, BlogWorks, has made it his personal mission to educate the Indian business community about the importance of social media. To begin that job Rajesh launched a discussion series, Blog the Talk, that features the best of learning from the blogosphere and otherwise, through panel discussions, talks and one-on-ones – mostly conducted online.

A few weeks ago I had the distinct honor and pleasure of joining several prominent Indian business leaders - Govindraj Ethiraj, New Media Editor for Business-Standard who also writes the popular blog  Dateline Bombay - A Reporter's Tale ; and Anurag Batra, Editor in Chief & Managing Director of the exchange4media Group - for the launch conversation - Blog the Talk 1- Impact of blogs and social on business & marketing in India!

Rajesh posted a transcript and the comments are revealing .. reinforcing that in India people are taking the initial steps in understanding the possibilities of social media.

  • Possibly the first time that such a debate as been sparked with the marketeer in mind.
  • I do believe India is ready for the Blog revolution, if only brand managers the benefits they could drive of it.
  • This is an interesting space as business application of blogs is a completely unheard of a thing in Indian context.

In addition, two articles published in IMPACT magazine (published by Anurag) take the conversation from virtual world into mainstream media. PDF of the IMPACT article are also posted on BlogWorks.

Perhaps with the passion of people like Rajesh Lalwani and Govindraj Ethiraj and Anurag Batra in India, 2007 will be about - What is social media and Why does it matter and Business blogging, flogs, podcasting and second life.

Friday Fun: 22 Blogging Tips

01/05/2007

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.

Monday's post started the week out with ideas from Mike Sansone about giving some lift to your blog strategy. Let's wrap the week up on today's Friday Fun with a few more tips on how bloggers are developing loyal readers and who also help promote their fav blogs. The secret, of course, is in the content. Content Reigns. But of course you knew that .. why read a blog if not for the content? Daha

  • 1. Contests. Merrill Dubrow, The Merrill Dubrow Blog, president of M/A/R/C, has launched one of the most creative contests I've seen around. The Stock Challenge of 2007. Via comments you tell Merrill which stock you think will go up the highest percentage in 2007. Winner gets $250 .. 2007 holiday shopping $. And even the loser wins $100 if her (or her or his) stock goes down the most. As of writing this post 56 people commented. You have until January 15 to enter. My choice: SBUX
  • 2. Lists. Lee Owden has a gone a step beyond the recent Z-list meme, launched by Mack Collier over at the Viral Garden, and posted his 250 Must Read Blogs. Some are proably Z some are A some are LMNOP. Then Lee, in true Divo style, went a step futher. He put the whole deal in alpha order and included a blurb about each. Not only a must check out but cool viral marketing strategy.

3. Interviews. Yvonne DiVita has been running an interview series called Smart Woman/Smart Man/Smart Couple since June 2004. The series provides great content and insight and I'm betting an added benefit is the great networking that gives Yvonne with an opportunity to meet some interesting people.

  • 5. Hints. Darren Rowse, ProBlogger, has to be The Divo when it comes to the how and what to drving traffic to your site. Trillions of hints and idea.
  • 6. Book Clubs. Marketing Prof's blog, Daily Fix is running a book club complete with free books. The Diva who thought of this bright idea ..CK. The first book will kick off on Jan 10 with Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell's Citizen Marketing. Shoot CK off an "e" <bookclub@marketingprofs.com> if you want to play along. Toss of a pink boa to Ann Handly for letting the "community" take over!
  • 7. Marry A Famous Blogger. But then you have to prove your blogging is worth a click and a read. Maryam Ghaemmaghami Scoble, Maryamie, wins that contest.
  • 8. Continuing Series. Lewis Green, biz solutions, is asking readers to send photos of family and friends who have served in the military. Here's something that touches the heart. He's posting the photos on Thursdays.
  • 9. A Little Controversy. Amanda where are you? Amanda who are you?
  • 10. A Little Delight. Millie Garfield, My Mom's Blog, is smart, charming and the youngest 81 year old I know. Now Millie is giving vlog Yiddish lessons!
  • 11. A Little Satire. With Kat Herding Media Jeneane Sessum and Chris Locke show how to make a point without taking social media too seriously .
  • 12. A Little Appreciation. Nancy White, Full Circle, has thanked all of her commentors. Not only has she thanked them but she has linked to each on of them .. if you click to see .. this was no small task!
  • 13. Innovation. Rajesh, BlogWorks, is on a mission to bring social media to India.
  • 16. Carnivals. Wayne Hurlbert is the Divo, or shall I say, the Carinval Barker, of this one.
  • 17. Nice. Paul Chaney .. one of the kindest bloggers around .. and one smart dude.
  • 19. eMail Signature. Merril_dubrow_signature_1Make it easy for people to read you. Add your Blog URL to your email signature. Merrill Dubrow, The Merrill Dubrow Blog has the best one I've seen yet. (RSS it of course too!)

  • 21. Hold a Blog Conference. Sherry Heyl is chairing an unconference, SoCon07 in Atlanta on Feb 10.
  • 22. Memes. Those little games that you either love or hate. Been tagged twice more for the Five Things You Don't Know About Me meme. Don't want to bore you again but since Nettie Hartsock and Des Walsh are 2 fav blogger how about  a couple of what-you-don't-know about Max?

Max_1203_1 Max turned 6 on January 4th. Happy Birthday puppy! 

Max is the most un-alfa terrier I've ever met. Even the vet says that.

Max is the biggest little pest. Persistance must he Max's middle name. He paws until he gets what he wants.

Max is finky and will only eat certain doggy treats. His favorite are Greenies and Chocolate Drops.

Max knows that everyone (people and pets) in the entire world is his friend. Max's best friend in the neighborhood is a calico cat .. Little Kitty .. and his best doggy friend is a Alex, the Russian Wolf Hound. (Max doesn't know that he's only little!)

Bloggy Transparency: #1/18 and #14 are social media clients; and I have some sort of affiliation with the other #s .. but girlfriend, I am not married to a famous blogger (#7). Hope that covers the disclosures. Happy weekend .. off to pour that Trader Joe 3 buck chuck cab (I know it's 2 bucks every where but in Hot'lant)!


Astrology_15

business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

Astro Divas off are celebrating 2007. They'll be back next week.
 

View of Social Media From The Class of 2003-04

11/16/2006

Diva Marketing was launched in the spring of 2004 before buzz words like "community" and "engagement" came into vogue. Back then it was simply about creating conversations and building friendships with clients, prospects and colleagues. Social media visionary Paul Chaney will forever hold a special place in my heart as the first blogger I met in person.

Paul has invited a few bloggers, including moi, from the Class of 2003-04 to celebrate the evolution of business blogs with a look back in time of where we were and how we go here and now. Unlike any "school" I ever attended our lessons flew fast and furiously thru cyberspace like Paper_airplane shooting paper airplanes. We learned from each other on blogs with a few emails, skype calls, midnight IMs and precious in-person meet-ups. My interview is up and here's a snippet.
Sidebar: My interview is written in a rather unedited, random thought style.

How have you seen blogging change or evolve since you started?
Corporations are considering blogs as a credible marketing strategy.
The "just blogs" has grown into a complex social media eco system (another buzz word!) that includes: authoring blogs for strategic purposes, blogger relations, consumer generated research. Within each of those aspects are challenges and opportunities.

Soon interviews with great biz bloggers like: Yvonne DiVita, Wayne Hurlbert, Tris Hussey, Elisa Camahort and more. Be sure to catch them on Strategic Business Blogging at All Business. Perhaps Paul will add his too!

Strategic Approach To Biz Blogs

11/05/2006

Blogging is complex, and each company approaches blogging differently.
                    - Northeastern University/Backbone Media Blogging Success Study

The quote, from a recent study conducted by Northeastern University/Backbone Media Blogging Success StudyEllington_surveys, is near and dear to my heart. The research validates what I've been talking about and have believed since waaay back in 2004 .. Her passion for blogging is as a marketing tactic. This revealed a different perspective from that of most bloggers we asked." "Naked Conversations - Consultants Who Get It" by Shel Israel & Robert Scoble.

  1. Blogs/social media can be used as a credible marketing strategy
  2. To be successful blogs must incorporate a strategic direction

Within a very short time .. less than 2-years .. the website with the odd little name - "Weblog," better known as "Blog" is becoming a sophisticated, marketing strategy with multiple aspects.

Four Aspects of Business Blogging

  1. Authoring a business/marketing blog
  2. Using blogs as an external promotional tactic
  3. Monitoring blogs as a research tactic
  4. Reading blogs to gain professional development knowledge

Should your organization include a blog strategy? If you're considering stepping into social media I would ask you to answer just two little questions to determine if you're ready to jump into authoring a corporate blog

One: Can your organization support the open, conversational, transparent culture of blogging?

Two: Will blogs help solve a business challenge or support your overall marketing strategy?

If the answers to Both are Yes .. you have a good chance to succeed. If either one is No .. the timing is not right .. yet.

Don't be discouraged or feel badly. Social media is a huge paradigm switch in business attitude. It can be a challenge, and leap of faith, for some people to accept that business as usual is changing. In a world of easy online publishing (blogs, podcasts, vlogs) the marketer's job has morphed from tightly controlling the brand messaging to managing the brand message. Your company will get it .. sooner or later. If not, Girlfriend, you might want to consider creating a living bio blog <wink>.

However, while you're working on internal issues you can begin to participate in the conversation by reading blogs and monitoring the blogosphere for customer buzz about your brands and for industry trends. When you feel comfortable drop a comment on a blog and see where it takes you. Ta da! You are now an active participate in the exciting world wide discussion. Your opinion is part of the the biggest knowledge base ever invented .. the world wide web. But no time to sip an appletini - tho a quick bite of chocolate might be in order to celebrate. There are more blogs to read and more comments to write.

What determines the reasons, conditions and factors that make a blog successful? What criteria should organizations use to assess whether and how they should engage in blogging?

These were the objectives in the Blogging Success Study released Nov 2, 2006 by Dr. Walter Carl, the students in his Advanced Organizational Communications class (Spring 2006) at Northeastern University and John Cass and his colleagues at Backbone Media, Inc.

Toss of a pink boaPink_boa_17 to Dr. Carl and John Cass for providing the research and the background interviews. Not only is this an great start for businesses to begin to understand how to do blogs right but the interview transcripts provide an in-depth look at the lessons learned from the participants who were early adopters to business blogging.  Interesting note: the research/findings report are posted on a blog with each section as a unique post. Comments are open on all posts. You rock!

Blog Brags: My dear friend and client Donna Lynes-Miller, GourmetStation was included in the study. Donna continues to do innovative work in this space. Delicious Destinations includes a series of guest bloggers: an English butler, a Tuscan B&B owner, a wine consultant and a customer who share their experiences about food, travel, wine and the good life.

Rick Short, Indium Corporation (Rick Short's Blog,Dr. Lasky's Blog)and Deb Franke and Jim Cahill, Emerson Process Management (Emerson Process Experts) were participants in the American Marketing Association's Hot Topic Workshop: Blogs Beyond The Website that I had the honor and pleasure of chairing.

Bottom-line .. without a strategic approach and integration into your overall marketing plan a blog is a me too play toy. Which is fine if all you want is to be cool at cocktail parties. 

Sidebar: The graphic is a cartoon that was made for my mom and dad's marketing research biz - Ellington Surveys. As you can tell fashions have changed as has the market research industry.

Defending and Defining The Blog Culture

10/13/2006

Blogs / social media are the only marketing/business strategies, that I know, that have their roots in a culture.  Therein lies the rub!*

Advertising, PR, marketing research even email and search engine optimization were developed from a need to support the ultimate business goal - the sale. Not so blogs. Blogs began as an innocent way to communicate online for a group of people who wanted to share ideas and information. 

I'll be the first to admit that it is the marketers who are morphing the purpose of blog into something quite different .. a persuasive marketing tool. However, most marketers, who are working in this emerging industry, realize that the value of blogs / social media is their ability to support and encourage open conversations. Most marketers are careful, if not passionate, about respecting the culture of blogs.
Sidebar: I know I'm over simplifying.

What is interesting, awesome, amazing and quite fascinating to me is the culture of blogs remains strong. It is said that the blogosphere self corrects. Sometimes it seems that there areKnight_1 knights in shining armor standing guard to protect the essence of blogs: Honestly. Transparency. Authenticity. Passion.

When you think about it .. in a world where relationships are developed virtually - Honestly. Transparency. Authenticity are critical. Building and maintaining trust is the cornerstone of developing an online community. No wonder bloggers are fast to draw their virtual swords when they find a blog that they consider is dishonest.

This week the trumpets were blown and bloggers rallied to defend the culture of the blogoshere.

From Newsweek: On Sept. 27, 2006, a folksy blog called Wal-Marting Across America was born. It features the journey of Laura and Jim, a couple on their maiden trip in an RV (recreational vehicle), capturing lives and stories as they journey from Las Vegas to Georgia, and park for free at Wal-Mart Stores (WMT ) parking lots. Laura's first blog post features a black-and-white photograph and humbly says: "We are not bloggers, but since our lives have always been more journey than destination we are explorers at heart…. We figured we'd give it a go."

What sounded like a brilliant social media strategy was discovered to be a hoax. The bloggers were hired by Wal-Mart. So what you may ask. The blog nor the bloggers never disclosed that fact. So what you may ask. Therein lies the rub!*

Laura and Jim may have been passionate about this project. The stories that Laura told may have been authentic. However, the lack of honesty and transparency - two important aspects of the culture of blogs were ignored. How can we really trust and believe in these people? In their stories? In Wal-Mart? 

Sidebar: Apparently no one trained Laura in the culture of blogs. Or clued her into the fact that blogs are more than "diaries" but the building blocks of an extended real online social community.

I’ve met too many people — real people, not imaginary Internet people — who’ve told me about all the good Wal-Mart has done.  Final Word post by Laura

However, who was really asleep at the virtual wheel? Was it Jim or Laura? Was it Wal-Mart? Or was it their PR/social media advisors' at Edelman, the PR firm that put the strategy into play?

Looks to me as though this is strike two for Edelman, on the Wart-Mart account, in terms of social media consulting. You may recall in March Edelman got called on to the blogopshere carpet for not being transparent in a bloggers' relations strategy. I don't get it.

I really like Richard Edelman and the work he does on his blog. He even kindly wrote a Blogger Story. And once sent me a thank you email for a comment I posted on his blog. Richard Edelman gets it.

But Richard, there seems to be a disconnect among your staff, who are consulting with clients on social media strategies, and the work you are publishing. How can your company, positioned as a leader in the social media industry, not understand or respect the values of this culture? Perhaps more of your people should be reading your blog and in particular this recent post One Step Into The Blogopshere which addresses the importance of trust.

The smart company will listen first, then speak, and listen again. It will speak from inside out, informing its employees, its consumers and yes, even its critics from non-governmental organizations before it speaks to investors, regulators and elite media. It recognizes the simple truth that in a world lacking trust in established institutions such as business, government and media, the most trusted source for information is a person like you.

The archives from the Wal-Marting Across America blog were pulled. With that went the stories that Laura wrote and the photos that Jim shot. Why would Wal-Mart do that if they believed the content was valuable and their strategy sound? 

In the last post by Laura she takes responsibility for not disclosing her relationship with Wal-Mart. Seems to me that Wal-Mart has made Laura the fall-woman. It was Wal-Mart's responsibility to set guidelines for their bloggers and ensure that full disclosure was posted on the blog.

I think Wal-Mart owes Laura and Jim an apology. I think the blogosphere owes Laura and Jim an apology too. Although Laura may be a talented writer, as I tell clients and people I speak to about blogging, blogs are unlike any other type of communications. The writing style and nuances are different. The Blogosphere is like playing jazz. You have to know the notes before you can create or change the music.

Sidebar: Therein lies the rub!* Interesting that this popular quote is a misquote from Shakespeare's famous "To Be Or Not To Be" speech in Hamlet.

To be, or not to be? that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;

However, unlike Hamlet who is searching for complex answers about the existence of life and what death holds, answers to corporations' questions of how to develop a blog strategy begin with a much simpler response. A blog (character, corporate, topic, business or personal) must  revert to the preestablished values of blogging: Honestly. Transparency. Authenticity. Passion

And yes, dear divas and divos - ay, there's the rub!