3 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Social Media Plan

09/30/2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Social Media Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should You "Personal Brand" A Small Business?

09/21/2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extra fun part .. You can win $100!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight October 7, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

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

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

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

Read More About Entrepreneurship 

Colleges Offering A Degree in Entrepreneurship 

Fifty Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

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

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

Nettie Hartsock_2

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

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

Social Media Listening Beyond Your Product

07/31/2011

Max and tag With almost 14 thousand views, my dog Max might qualify as a "D list" YouTube rock star! His circle of friends (not to be confused with a Google+ circle) includes people, dogs and cats (totally ..watch his video!). His howling "song" is a throwback to his wolf ancestory.

Oh yes, his breed is White West Highland and at 10 years old the vet is calling him a "senior" dog. Shh .. please don't tell him that he is sure he is still a pup.

Did you notice that when I described Max his breed and age (demographics) came last?

When you think about your customers how do you describe and catorgize them? What comes first in your customer profile: age, sex, income .. traditional demograhics? Or do you take into consideration their interests, networks and passions beyond your product or service?

Let's spin this into social media marketing. We frequently use social media "listening" to learn what customers are saying about our products and services, to identify trends and to build relationships. All good.

However, we have amazing opportunities to also see into the lives of our customers and prospects that go beyond tradtional research and our own company/product information. We can learn about our customers' passions, see who is in their social networks e.g., friends, likes, follows, circles. The clues we discover can lead to exciting new opportunities.  

For example, would you think that Max's friends included kitty cats?  Now you know. What would that mean if you were in the pet industry? Are there more dogs who like cats? What products might you create to tap into that market .. friendship collars? Treats for both cats and dogs? 

Here's another great example. When you think about Grandmamas what comes to mind? Blue hair ladies drinking tea and baking cookies? How about motorcyle riding mamas?! 

MSN Business on Main profiles "Grandmama" Kathy Tolleson the owner of Roar Motorcyles For Women. Roar is the first company that designs and manufactures customize motorcycles exclusively for women. Pop over for the story. Motorcyle_Kathy ROAR

What would have happened if Kathy had focused on demographics only instead of the passions of her customers? Would she have tapped into women over forty? Over fifty? Over sixty?  Roar has a social media presence that (I would assume) helps Kathy continue to understand the interests of her customers. (Hmm..thinking Kathy would be a great guest for All The Single Girlfriends' Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends series.)

Motorbikes are not so much my deal, but If I were to ride I'd want the biggest, baddest bike on the lot. Max, of course, would be uber cool in a little back jacket and helmet! 

Are you taking advantage of Social Media Listening beyond your product or service? If so what have you learned about your customers?

Note: Yvonne DiVita, Lipsticking, has a cool contest going .. you can win $100 for your comment about why women should own and ride motorcycles.

Update: See how KLM is listening and learning about their customers. In a strategy that turns little kindnesses into big smiles and I'm betting results in loyalty.  

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

Marketing Eating on the Street: Food Trucks

07/13/2011

Food Truck _Yum Yum I love eating on the street! Really I do.

 A hip urban "Indie" alternative to a traditional restaurant meal is (literally) hitting the streets. From the City of Angels to Hot'lanta to cities across the United States food trucks are validating our less formal life style with a unique sense of fun. (Photo of Atlanta pink food truck Yum Yum cupcakes)

However, don't think for one second these food trucks are like the old corner prezel stand. They're part of a growing luxury food trend. Ray Choi, owner of the Kogi (which draws an almost cult following in LA), was awarded the Food & Wine 2010 Best of New Chef award.

In our tight capital investment economy, entrepreneurs are getting creative with parameters of limited cash flow and investment dollars. Food trucks have become one of the hottest small business ventures.  

MSN's News On Main video highlights a few of the approximatley 600 (!) food trucks in Portland OR. As Chris Cashman reports, "Every food truck owner has a unique story." One of my favorites from is Ziba from Bosnia who sells pitas based on her family's 100 year old recipe. 

This is not a cupcake walk nor for the faint of heart. Developing a successful food truck business takes more than passion and talent. It takes as much hard work and savvy as any company plus add to that the challenges of a roaming location. Oh sure, at the end of the day it still has to be all about the food but .. 

As you would expect, social media marketing plays a huge role in not only creating awareness but in building the brand and a loyal customer aka fan aka like aka circle base. For food truck owners it is especially critical for their customers to feel they are part of the entire experience. Here are a few ideas (many can be used in any business setting).

Six Food Truck Marketing Tips

1. Concept On The Tweet Street

The concept must be easily understandable without a lot of explanation. If people find you through Twitter the first (and sometimes only) introduction to your culinary point of view is your name. Does it confuse or hinder or intrigue?

2. The Truck

The "wrap" should support your brand concept with unique visual interest. In addition, the cleanliness of the exterior is as important as the interior of your kitchen. Don't forget people can see into at least part of the back-end of your operations. 

3. Pressure Cooker Service

How you and your staff relate to your customers is paramount in creating loyal fans. How will you let your Twitter followers or Facebook likes know you care and appreciate them? Success can lead to long lines = a long wait = unhappy customers. Consider taking orders while people are waiting in line (before they reach the truck window). A few .. "glad you're here" "thanks for waiting" "we promise it will be awesome" .. is a good idea too. 

4. Presentation 

 Do your serving plates reflect your brand or are they just a boring (yawn) white? Boston based Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese uses bright yellow checked paper linings that reinforces the retro and the yellow in their truck. 

Social Media Marketing  

5. Facebook: If your menu is consistent build out a "menu tab;" status updates are great when adding new items to your menu. Photos .. photos .. photos and a few videos too. Encourage your customers to post their photos to your page .. don't forget the tags!

6. Twitter: Talk to your customers .. just don't message out your menu. Make it easy for your customers to find you. Google map link your location. 

 Business on Main/Diva Marketing Food Truck Marketing Contest

Let's have some fun. MSN Business On Main is providing me with $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly.  Here's the deal. Let's create a list of marketing ideas for food truck owners. The suggestion that Max & I choose will win 100 dollars.  Food Trucks_BOM Ziba  

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Food Truck Marketing Contest

1. Post your marketing idea for food trucks on this Diva Marketing post And on this post on Business On Main

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

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight July 31, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section"

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

Roxy food truck_james
Update!
Excited to tell you that James DiSabatino, Roxy’s Grilled Food, finalist on the Food Network Foodtruck Race will be our guest judge. Toss a pink boa to Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe for the intro.

Update! Interview with James DiSabatino and announcement of the contest winner!

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

Doin' The Innovation .. Howl

06/14/2011

Max_52010 Max barks but he also howls. He sits straight up and tosses his little white head back. Looking quite like a wolf, he gives out a very musical Loud ah hooo! howl. 

Girlfriend, it sounds like someone is hurting the little guy. When human friends first hear Maxie's strange song they think some thing is quite wrong. However, the vet tells me Max is just fine. He might hear something or perhaps he's just singing. Whatever the reason, the result is unexpected and actually quite special.

Ron Williams knows how to howl too .. well in the way that he's turned something mundane into something unique. He's CEO of SnapGoods, a new way to borrow or rent stuff that you only want to use for a while but don't want to own forever. 

Catch the Business On Main's interview that provides the back-story. BOM author Antonio Neves calls it a ".. demand-driven social network for people’s needs." The concept is obviously new however, one positioning might be a channel that companies can leverage to allow customers to do a beyond sample test drive of a product. Interesting.

In the meantime SnapGoods is making the most of social media through blogs and social networks Facebook and Twitter

Another person who knows how to not only howl but to purr is Yvonne DiVita. Yvonne took her love of animals plus social media and morphed both into an innovative community .. BlogPaws.

As we've seen so often, taking relationships that begin in the digital world  .. blogs, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  .. offline can be powerful and fun. And that's just what savvy Yvonne did. BlogPaws is about to launched it's 3rd conference. I'm proud to say that Yvonne is also a Gf author for All The Single Girlfriends too!

 How are you "howling?" Join the convo on BOM.

A Diva Marketing sponsored by BOM header Business On Main post.

Personal Branding - Beyond Your Resume

05/02/2009

Personal branding female power brands I recently found an article that someone sent me back in 1997. I don't know who gave it to me but I saved the article because while the concept was strange to me the idea intrigued me. It was Tom Peters' - the brand called you. As the fates would have ..soon after reading it I was down-sized from my job with the Georgia Lottery Company. Thoughts that a company would want to hire "more than a resume" were radical 12 years ago.

  • Who am I anyway? Am I my resume? That is a picture of a person I don't know. What does he want from me? What should I try to be? So many faces all around, and here we go. I need this job, oh God, I need this show. I CAN DO THAT - A Chorus Line - I Hope I Get It

Girlfriend, there was more - Peters said we should manage our personal brand. What did that mean? I should be wearing Jimmy Choos instead of Gucci or investing in a Mont Blanc instead of Bic pens? Did that extend to non business aspect of my life too?  In one of my first resumes I included creative cooking. I was told it wasn't "professional" and took it out.  Should I add it back it .. was that part of my brand called me?

But as confusing as it was to figure out how to navigate this new way of presenting myself in 1997, it no way reaches the complexities that the Internet and social media have in impacting the brand called you. A few weeks ago I was talking with my favorite niece about the photos on her Facebook page. Last year Jessica Robyn went from college student to career girl. She's more aware of her online presence, especially after the Facebook debacle of content ownership, these days. 

Jessica might error on the more liberal side but what about the people in the Boomer generation who are being "down sized" or thought they were retired and now must enter the job market again? They are learning that their resumes must extend beyond paper (or digital) to LinkedIn, sometimes Facebook and if they are adventurous to Twitter. Finding the right balance is a new tight-rope act for many.

 With Diva Marketing I guess I'm getting it right because someone who does understand personal branding, Dan Schawbel, publisher of Personal Branding Magazine, highlighted me in his May issue - titled Female Power Brands. Thanks to Dan and Justin Levy for the interview.

  • "In this issue, we’ve interviewed some of the brightest and most talented female brands on the planet .."

I am honored to join divas Sarah Austin, Natalie Gulbis, Laura Ries Valeria Maltoni and Anita Campbell who were also profiled in this edition. In addition, there are articles written by fabulous women: Ann Smarty, Christine B. Whittemore, Cece Salomon-Lee, Nisha Chittal, Judy Martin, Thursday Bram, Maria Reyes-McDavis, Becky Carroll, Pamela Slim, Camille Watson, Natalie MacNeil, and Angela Natividad.

For your reading pleasure .. one of the the answers from my Female Power Brands interview. Sort of like saying that .. Female Power Brands.  (I'm thinking of turning the pink boa into a super diva cape! What do you think Connie Reece and Mutha Mae?)

Personal Branding: What role do you think online personal branding will play in getting hired over the next few years?

Toby/Diva Marketing: Looking at how a personal brand fits  into an organization's brand, I can't help think of enterprises that have opened social media to their employees. Those companies seem to have a strong sense of "self" e.g., their corporate brand and are secure enough to let their employees' brands complement the enterprise brand.

Personal branding done well extends business into more of a "personal" world. It's a way of taking what is on the inside and courageously letting people see it on the outside. Perhaps (some) women struggle with not being perfect 24-7 especially in the world of business. However, on the flip side it's a way of connecting with people and women do that so well.

As we speak Human Resources is online searching for information about their latest candidates. The perception that someone takes away after reading your posts or tweets or LinkedIn profile is an additional element that will be incorporated into a hiring decision. Ready or not .. you inevitably are creating a personal brand. Why not step back and be a little more strategic? ###

The Internet and social media have changed the personal brand game. We no longer have the luxury of only building our image, which does impact our credibility, based on a choice between designer shoes or flip flops. How do you maintain your authentic self online when Google has become HR's best friend?

What does personal branding in the 21st century mean when the whole world knows not only your name but your favorite toys, games, wine, beer, friends, dating status, doctors and opinions on life in general? Maybe when Dan and Jessica are in charge of running corporations it won't matter much but in 2009 it's a factor.

Friday Fun: For the Heart, Head & Soul

02/27/2009

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.

Too many wonderful things happening in the virtual world not to pass along from fun contests to help non profit causes to quirky ways to grow your business.

NonProfit - For The Heart

Alex brown_2 Alex Brown is no stranger to social media. In 2005, he created one the first higher ed blogs, Wharton MBA Admissions Blog, He was one of the first to incorporate student blogs as a support tactic when he taught marketing at University of Delaware. But it was his beyond successful blog for Barbaro the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner who was put to rest too soon. One could say that blog changed Alex's life and let to a mission to create awareness about the slaughter horse issue.

Alex Brown Racing is sponsoring a YouTube contest. Videos will be accepted from Tuesday, February 10 to Noon Friday April 10. The grand prize is $1,000 to be donated to the horse rescue organization of choice of the winning entry. Even if you don't enter, stop by and view the entries .. some wonderful videos have been submitted.

The Animal Rescue Site is challenged to sustain its click campaign. A click will help provide food and care to sick pets.  And then because you're feeling so good to have done good go to PawFun and design a t-shirt to show off your own pet. If you hurry you can save 30%!

Small Business Success - For The Head

Ideablob is one of the most innovative uses of combining social media with small business. There are two parts. One:  Within the public forum entrepreneurs ask the business community at-large for advice. Two: The community votes on the best business concept. The $10,000 prize is no small accomplishment to win with stiff competion. The current contest closes on 3-31-09. I had the honor of being one of the featured guest advisors. The site is sponsored, very discreetly, by Advanta.

When if comes to helping small business owners Heidi Richards Mooney is one of the champions. Her online publication and community WE magazine for women, has influenced thousands of women (and men) with its rich content, online conferences and networking support. Heidi recently released the eBook Quirky Marketing Calendar 2009 as a resouce for ways to create fun, innovativemarketing  strategies.

So you've got an idea for a light web-based business and didn't win the $10K Ideablob contest. My pal Dave Williams is involved in a new angel fund venture that might be right for you if you are a small business owners in the Atlanta area. Want to learn more? Shotput Ventures is holding an open house 3-3-9.  If nothing else their Facebook invite page sure looks like it will be good networking!

Looking for a couple more social media and marketing tips ? Check my guest post, in Tsufit's Step Into The Spotlight series.

In today’s world where clutter is the norm and marketing managers are scrambling to get their brands noticed stepping to the side of the lime light just might be the way to get into the spot light. By that I mean before you take center stage understand the basics:

1. Who are your customers and prospects?

2. What makes your brand unique to your customers?

3. Where do your customers hang out?

The answers, to what may first appear as simple questions, become the cornerstone of your successful marketing strategy. Traditionally organizations discovered those elusive secrets through marketing research studies or mining internal data sources. However, social media research or listening to the raw conversations of your customers provides marketers with an additional resource.  Read more at - Step into the Spotlight post

The Arts - For The Soul

The arts are recognizing that social media is a wonderful way to engage and build an audience. By letting patrons glimpse a view from behind the curtain they can but buts in the seats. Broadway is catching on too! Sure have come a long way from when Elisa Camahort, the fonder of BlogHer, launch the blog for 42nd Street Moon (Theatre) in 2004. Jane Fonda is sharing her backstage and onstage experiences on her blog and in tweets. The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta often runs contests on their blogs. Ford's Theatre is on YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter!

Sl shakespeare twelfth night When it comes to theatre and innovation the (Second Life) SL Shakespeare Company must win the Virtual Tony for innovation. The mission of this troupe of professional actors is to make Shakespeare cool again! The performances take place "in-world" at SL Globe Theatre wich is a virtual reconstruction of the Original Globe Theatre.

The SL Shakespeare Company’s long-awaited open-ended run premiers Sunday, March 1 at 1 PM PST, and will continue indefinitely every Sunday at 1 PM PST and every Tuesday at 6 PM PST at the SL Globe Theatre. Read more at the SL Shakespeare blog.

.. and so we'll let Shakespeare have the final word.

No profit grows where no pleasure is ta'en;
In brief, sir, study what you most affect.

William Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew

Nick Jacobs - From Healthcare Blogs to Healthcare Books

08/14/2008

Nick_jacobs_book_healthcare_2 Only my friend Nick Jacobs, CEO of Windber Medical Center,  would write a book titled Taking The Hell Out of Healthcare - a patient's guide to getting the best healthcare - and put a lovely bouquet of flowers on the cover. Nick Jacobs is no stranger to pushing the envelope. He is a pioneer in healthcare social media. Nick was first CEO of a general hospital/medical center to launch a blog sponsored by his hospital.

Taking The Hell Out of Healhcare is Nick's innovative approach to healthcare that treats the patient as a "person" while looking at a healthcare system that Nick calls broken.  The book is a guide " ... on how to get the same treatment as the CEO's family in any hospital, a book on patient advocacy."

More About Nick Jacobs from Diva Marketing

Where are the social media healthcare organizations?

Interview with Nick Jacobs on blogs

Podcast with Nick Jacobs on senior executives actively participating in social media

Interview With Wei Yang - Atlanta "Tweeting" Company Easy Auto Sales

06/26/2008

Earlier this week I posted about Atlanta Companies that are micro blogging using Twitter. Toss of a pink boa to Will Fleiss, director of organic search for Easy Auto Sales, who was not only listening but joined in on the conversation. He was the only person out of the 34 companies that were included in the post who dropped a comment. He even said thank you. Nice.

So I asked Will how he found the post and why he commented.
Will_fleiss_bigger Will Fleiss: As far as how I came to comment on your post about companies using Twitter, we use utilize Google Alerts to monitor mentions of "easyautosales" online.  Your blog post appeared in our alerts, and of course I had to check it out. Our business model is based primarily on Ad revenue, so as you can imagine we rely heavily on traffic to our site.

Well girlfriend, I was so impressed that I wanted to know more about how Easy Auto Sales was using social media and in particular Twitter. Wei Yang, co-founder - business development, kindly agreed to share a few insights.

Easyautosales_logo_3 About EasyAutoSales.com
: My favorite line from the website -
Since we're just a small group of entrepreneurs with crazy dreams; we figured we'll aim high and hope for the best.

EasyAutoSales.com is America's fastest growing, web 2.0 automotive service designed to help auto dealers and private sellers pinpoint qualified buyers. The website now lists over one million vehicle listings from 9,000 dealerships and private sellers. EasyAutoSales.com provides support for video, interactive questions & answers, and unlimited pictures for all vehicle listings. Private sellers and dealerships are encouraged to advertise their vehicles on EasyAutoSales.com for free.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why is the Easy Auto Sales Twittering?
Wei Yang: EasyAutoSales is a startup that embraces social media and we are using Twitter as a medium to build relationships with early adapters in the auto industry.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Who are the people you hope to reach and have you had any response from them?
Wei_yang_2 Wei Yang: We originally used Twitter to reach social media people as well as using it as an extension for our blog advertising.

To our surprise, we were also able to build informal relationships with various auto bloggers and industry leaders in the autos field.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Who is/are behind the "tweets?"
Wei Yang: @wei_yang and @willfleiss - who are both co-founders of EasyAutoSales.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Is Twitter part of a larger marketing/social media/marketing strategy and if so how does it integrate?

Wei Yang: Twitter has the potential to be a part of our larger marketing strategy. However, we are waiting to see how Twitter works out their scaling issues before committing to the technology.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Are you promoting the Twitter imitative and if so how?
Wei Yang: At this time, we are exploring options using Twitter to help our users extend their experience on our website. However, we're still ironing out the features we have in mind so that it would make sense. As for promoting the fact we use Twitter - that is not something we're actively doing yet. Many of the dealers in the industry still do not know what Twitter is and for the ones that do, we are probably linked already in some way.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Can you share any innovative ways you'll be using Twitter?
Wei Yang: Soon! Hopefully very soon. =)

Toby/Diva Marketing:  How have you gone about identifying "followers?"
Wei Yang: Using Twitter based search engines, we have been able to identify users who have shown interest in cars or are related to the autos industry. From there, it's just a matter of seeing what these users have in common and who they are following, etc.

Toby/Diva Marketing: One more .. Why do you think Twitter works on a local level?
Wei Yang: Twitter works on a local level more so due to the people using it than the platform itself. The people who first jumped on board are mostly social media experts, teens or early adapters. I think people on line who are always seeking out other like-minded individuals is what makes Twitter unique. However, the unstable platform is definitely a cause for concern and as more and more general public people use the platform, its uniqueness may fizzle like Facebook.

Change Can Be Inspirational

02/01/2008

Spent last week in Miami speaking at The Women's Congress conference. The Women's Congress is a 2-year old organization with a mission to bring small business owners and corporate executives together for mutual learning. Change_posterI knew the conference would be great. What I didn't know was the day would be inspired by change.

My thanks to Rebecca Weeks, Director of Business Development, Real Girls Media Network, Inc. for the invitation to moderate the panel on Web 2.0. In addition to Rebecca our session included two other savvy divas - Anne Murray, Senior Director of Interactive Marketing, Southwest Airlines and Virginia Simmons, Online Communications Manager, The ONE Campaign. Sidebar: Biz Blog Profile interviews coming soon. Love that networking online and off digital too! 

Companies are tightening their training and travel purse strings and one of the first to feel the pinch is professional development conferences. Moments before our panel we changed direction. We decided to merge the Web 2.0 and social media sessions. So .. we tossed out the preplanned Powerpoints and the agendas. We pulled chairs into a big Conversation Circle and in true bloggy style, and similar to what I had done at the Healthcare Summit last fall, we trusted in our audience to tell us what they wanted to know. And they, of course did! Again, the feedback we got was "Best session I attended." "I learned so much." I must admit that having successfully gone down this road before I was pretty comfortable with the formate and new direction. Something to be said of experience. (smile)

Sidebar: Slides from the Healthcare Summit are posted. If you're looking for a basic 101 How to Create A Blog Strategy check it out.

What made this especially fun was my friend and winner of the Entrepreneurial Champion for Women Award (!) none other than Ms. Lena West, xynoMedia Technology, was the moderator of the social media panel. The panelists included Nina Kaufman, Making It Legal, and Cory Edwards of Symantec. Yes, the conference did include a few smart men .. and Cory is that indeed.

The session on Leadership And Change Change Management was particularly interesting to me since for so many companies a dive into social media marketing constitutes not only a new strategy but a change in company culture. The panel members not only shared their experiences about leadership, change and how women are likely to handle change differently than men (more talk, more involvement, more sharing of information) but were inspiring. The prestigious panel included: Jeri Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi Limited, Juanita T. James, Chief Communications Officer, Pitney Bowes Inc., JoAnn Lilek, Chief Financial Officer, DSC Logistics. Lisa Gibbs, Executive Business Editor, The Miami Herald.

For your reading pleasure my notes and a few random thoughts.

"Ships are safe in harbors but that's not where ships are suppose to be." Like sailing a ship change involves risk but you don't grow unless you sail out of the harbor." Jeri Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi Limited

On Change

  • Systems are just tools.
  • People often feel that change is a threat that is done to them on a personal basis.
  • Remember when you institute change within an organization you also change people's lives.
  • It's critical to clearly articulate both the vision of the new direction and why the need to change.
  • You need to learn the rules before you can change them. 
  • You can not influence change in isolation .. it takes team work.
  • The role of communication in change management is critical for both (internal) employees and (external) stakeholders e.g., customers, media, shareholders. Communication must include: listening, understanding and then talking.

On Leadership

  • Leaders grow over time. A good leader understands the culture and how to work within to make changes. Listen to the experts but in the end you must form your own opinions. 
  • You may not always have all the information to make a decision but a good leader understands what is essential and what is nice to have. 
  • Understand the role of everyone in the organization and treat all with respect.
  • Employees will share knowledge with you if you ask them; don't overlook some one who appears shy or quiet. 

On Mentoring and Personal Learning & Values

  • Get yourself a good mentor. Mentors come in different packages; you may find a mentor in a peer or a younger person.
  • As important, help others realize their full potential.
  • Make yourself vulnerable. Openly seek and accept feedback from wherever you can get it. Learn not to take it personally.
  • Your personal values must align with the values of your organization if there is a disconnect that's when the work  and your life begins to unravel.

You can not define yourself by your work, by your title or by your position. Those are things that people can give and take away from you. Juanita T. James, Chief Communications Officer, Pitney Bowes Inc.