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

07/28/2014

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

Well .. not really .. but sort of. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

1. Be responsive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second Screen TV - Research

07/11/2014

Second screen walking deadPicture this.

It's been a stressful week and you're looking forward to a night of vegging out. The telly goes on and perhaps there is an adult beverage or two nearby. It's a scene played-out in many homes for nearly 70 years.  

Over the past few years a there have been a few changes in How we watch TV. 

On goes the TV set, you flip open your tablet and smart phone ready to watch. Only now you can chat with your friends about the show, play a few Walking Dead games and perhaps even buy that cute dress one of the actresses is wearing. Welcome to Second Screen TV and SocialTV. . 

A couple of weeks ago Joel Rubinson, President and founder of Rubinson Partners, Inc., and CivicScience took to the reseach road to learn more about second screen viewing. The results, which they shared with the industry, TV Viewing and the “Second Screen” – What Audiences are Doing with Mobile, Tablet Devices,  is a report based on the CivicScience data collection and research platform. Joel conducted the analysis and partnered in formulating the research questions.

Joel rubinsonJoel kindly agreed to answer a few questions and give us his views on the future of second screen TV and socialTV. 

Diva Marketing:  The Insight Report you did with CivicScience indicates that multitasking is the name of the game for 45% of respondents who acknowledged using a ‘second screen’ (smart phone, tablet or computer) while viewing traditional broadcast TV.  

It was also  interesting to me that 80%, were not engaged online with content related to the show. 

In your opinion is this a trend and if so, where does it leave content producers in terms of advertiser value?

 Joel Rubinson: Hi Toby, thank you for your question.  First, let me clarify that it is 45% of everyone watching TV who multi-task so it is actually a higher percentage of those who own an internet access device and watch traditional TV.

The fact that 80% or more of multi-taskers are doing so in unrelated ways means that media might have the wrong idea about what people want to do with the device in their hands. They are more interested in passing dead time than they are in enriching the TV experience. 

  • Will this change? Perhaps, but media will need to offer more enticing experiences to get viewers to engage.

The value of this research we did using CivicScience’s data is understanding that the current crop of synchronized tools are not yet substantially changing viewing behaviors. Yet media and marketers desperately want it to work because it would add value to media ad inventory and impact to marketer advertising efforts.  In the meantime, marketers should look for synergistic opportunities for their advertising on unrelated websites.

An exotic sounding but quite doable idea is for marketers to use real time bidding engines to bid for inventory at the precise moment that their advertising is airing on TV. Hence, if I’m seeing a commercial on Judge Judy and happen to be on a news site with RTB inventory at the moment, an advertiser could make sure I am seeing a display ad for the same brand.

Diva Marketing:  In the report there was mention of “synchronized second screen experiences.” Would you please explain the concept and the opportunities as you see them?

Joel Rubinson: Synchronized experiences refers to using your internet device in a way that is related to the TV program you are watching. 

This could be answering quizzes about what you think will happen to Rick in Walking Dead as he is face to face with a horde of Zombies (via an app for the show), or voting on Twitter for who should get kicked off American Idol or The Voice.

In contrast, unrelated multitasking is when I’m checking e-mail or messaging a friend on Facebook while watching a show.

I think the biggest opportunity is to build interest in real time viewing rather than recording the show on a DVR and potentially fast forwarding through the commercials.  Synchronized experiences only work in real time.

Diva Marketing:  How do you see the intersection of broadcast TV and online content being mutually beneficial for (1)  audience/ratings growth , (2) advertisers and (3) viewer experience  … or do you?

Joel Rubinson:

I believe that over the past 5-10 years all networks had to decide if online content was a threat to program ratings. 

  • I believe they all came to the same conclusion that online viewing does not cannibalize TV viewing appreciably and actually builds ratings indirectly by getting someone more into the show.

This has been presented by Alan Wurtzel the research lead at NBC regarding the Olympics.

Online content was mostly viewed by those who wanted to relive favorite moments and seemed to go hand in hand with more TV viewing hours, not fewer, for the Olympics. Overall, the great majority of video content is still viewed in real time on the TV even with 5-10 years of significant growth of DVR use and live streaming over the internet.

TV watching is still the 800 pound gorilla (or at least 720 pounds) but watching content online is also a reality, it is growing and all progressive media companies need to embrace it and make it work for them. 

The researcher in me wants to point out that one simple payback is realizing that the dot.com parts of TV networks have the ability to better track viewer interests via online digital behaviors, yielding first party data that can result in very powerful insights and promotional targeting.

Diva Marketing: Thanks Joel! I'm off to make sure my ipad, iphone and laptop are charged and I know the Twitter handle of the show. 

More About the methodology, CivicScieince, Joel Rubinson and Partners

CivicScience is the provider of the real-time polling and consumer insights platform used by Joel Rubinson in this study. The second-screen questions were added to thousands of other questions running through the CivicScience polling platform and published via hundreds of web and mobile websites, and the data from the anonymous respondents were aggregated and mined using automated data science technology.

CivicScience's platform is used by consumer brand and media clients to quickly and deeply understand consumer sentiment and behaviors. 

Joel Rubison is President and founder of Rubinson Partners, Inc. marketing and research consulting for a brave new world and a member of the faculty of NYU Stern School of Business where he teaches social media strategy. Started in 2010, Rubinson Partners, Inc. (RPI) has already helped position several clients for success in a digital age. 

Fourth of July - Peachtree "Community" Road Race

07/04/2014

Peachtree road race startIn the wee hours of the morning traffic challenged Peachtree Street in Buckhead (Atlanta) experiences a few quiet hours before the mad rush hour/s begin.

But not on the Fourth of July.

Today the 45th Peachtree Road Race brought out more than 250,000 (60k official runners) people who woke up the city to take part in the world's largest 10K race.

Unlike it’s cousin the Boston Marathon, The Peachtree, as it's fondly called, is not just a race for runners or even joggers. It’s a community experience where generations of family and friends often walk together to celebrate life.  Even for the people on the sidewalks who cheer on the runners, The Peachtree takes on a carnival atmosphere.

For many, like my pal Joe Koufman, founder of AgencySparks, it’s become a tradition. With race number 12 completed (note Joe's 1-2 fingers!), I asked Joe Why he continues to run The Peachtree. Peachtree Road Race Joe Koufman 2014

"The Peachtree Road Race is more of an experience than a race.  The sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the race make it spectacular.  

 Some of the highlights for me are walking to the MARTA station when there are few people setting up and the police are patrolling the course, then packing into the train like sardines with sticky runners, the costumes (this year I saw Hulk Hogan, Beer Maid, a banana, marching band in Speedos, and others), the official (and unofficial) bands every mile, and the thousands of spectators each celebrating the day with their unique styles.  

I am never really trying to get a personal record (though I do train and run hard for the Peachtree).  I like to soak in the entire experience."

A much anticipated part of The Peachtree tradition is the t-shirt that goes to all official runners who complete the race. The t-shirt design is a ‘crowd sourced’ voting competition.

The 2014 Peachtree Road Race t-shirt was created by James Balke.  James is a two-time winner; his first was for the 1997 race. By the way, did you know there is even a book about the history of the Peachtree Road Race T-shirt?

Take a look at both of James’ designs.

Peachtree road race t shirt 1997 2014

Notice any similarities? The 1997 t-shirt includes multiple Peachtree street signs while 2014 is a detailed map of the race.  Although very different styles both represent maps and direction of Atlanta. Both represent the values of the race.

4 Lessons learned From The Peachtree Road Race

1. The brand can create a framework but it is the community who builds community. The Atlanta Track Club set the rules and the course for the Peachtree Road Race.

2. Execution of similar concepts e.g. tactics can take on very different results .. and that can be a  good thing. James Balke’s  designs demonstrate foundational concepts can produce distinctive outcomes.

3. Tradition plays a role in setting expectations and repeat ‘buy.’ People look forward to running the race year after year often with the same friends and family.

4. Little things make a BIG difference and become a customer thank you/reward. The Peachtree Road Race T-shirt is a treasured prize for finishing the race.

Happy 4th of July!

Interview with Cory Edwards: Creating Social Business Structures

03/23/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Cory on Twitter @CoryEdwards

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

Stories From Smaller NonProfits: ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantaged and Disability)

12/16/2013

StarsThis is the 5th year of Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series. 

During December we invite nonprofits into Diva to tell their stories in their own very special way. It's our hope that you might find a new NPO that touches your heart. Heart holiday  

In between shopping, wrapping and checking your list twice, we invite you to take a breath and enjoy a few from the heart stories

At the center of this season's inspiration for joy, is of course, the children. It's our pleasure the first story is from an organization, ISDD, whose mission is to improvie the the lives/health of children living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.

ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability) focuses on practical projects that serve to improve the lives of children who are vulnerable to adverse health and developmental disabilities as a result of living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.

Leslie Rubin _ ISSPOur story teller is founder Leslie Rubin.

Doctor Rubin is a developmental pediatrician who is originally from South Africa where he learned about how health disparities in children were related to social injustice and has found the opportunity to make a difference for children in Atlanta and around the world.

The ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability) Story

I have been working with children with developmental disabilities for many years and I have stared a number of programs over the years. The one that stands out for me is the Cerebral Palsy clinic that I started with colleagues at the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in Downtown Atlanta in 1998.

In 2002, with some funds from a family foundation, we did a survey of the 261 children we had seen in the clinic. As we expected they had a number of physical, medical and surgical complications but what struck us was the social context. We found that many of the children had been born prematurely to mothers who had smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol or taken drugs during pregnancy and that about half of the children were living with a single mother, about 30-40% with grandparents or in foster care, only a small percentage were living in 2 parent households.

This finding completely changed my view of children with developmental disabilities. I realized that developmental disabilities could be the result of social economic, educational, psychological and environmental factors and that the disabilities further aggravated the situation. Thus, I realized that these children then became caught up in what I termed the cycle of disadvantage and disability.

I then determined that I wanted to see what difference I could make in breaking that cycle and helping children lead more fulfilling and successful lives to become functioning and contributing members of society. Shortly thereafter, with the help of some friends, we formed the Institute for the Study of Disadvantage and Disability.

Our very first program was, in fact, called Break the Cycle of Disadvantage and Disability, which invited students from different disciplines in different universities to develop projects to Break the Cycle.

Break the cycle students and faciltiy

Break the Cycle Students and Faculty

Our second project was to provide support for the grandparents who were caring for their grandchildren with disabilities – Project GRANDD. 

Grandd Grandparents monthly meeting

Project GRANDD Grandparents Monthly Meeting 

The 3rd program was developed to provide health care for children whose mothers had problems with substance abuse and had been homeless – Healthcare Without Walls – a Medical Home for Homeless Children.

Now, in December 2013, we have had more than 80 students from around the country through our Break the Cycle Program along with 5 international journal supplements and a series of 4 books; we have served more than 100 grandparents with more than 200 grandchildren between then in our Project GRANDD and about 150 mothers with their children through our Healthcare without Walls – a Medical Home for Homeless Children.

Project Grandd Family Zoo OutingProject GRANDD Family Zoo Outing

We have recently changed our name to Innovative Solutions for Disadvantaged and Disability to better reflect what we do, and we look forward to continuing to develop programs that will help our society’s most vulnerable children have the opportunity to become successful and lead health fulfilling lives. 

More From ISDD

Isdd logo

Facebook  ISSD Website

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: VolunteenNation

12/31/2012

StarsTraditionally, December has been Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series.

It's a time when people who work in smaller nonprofts are welcome to tell their stories. It's a way of giving back through shining a light on lesser known organizations through the voices of the those who are passionate about their cause.

It's a hope that perhaps before the year ends you'll reach into the your heart for one last 2012 donation. Or as 2013 begins find a new organization to support.

This year life got in the way of life. As The Fates would have it, just as I was feeling sad that I didn't have a nonprofit to share with you, once again social media came to the rescue. This time it was a LinkedIn connect request from a young women .. Simon Bernstein.

Skipping around her profile and then her web presence I knew the story of VolunTEEN Nation would be the perfect way to close the year. I am humbled and honored to introduce you to Simon and her story.

The VolunTEEN Nation Story

Volunteening_Simone Bernstein_1 diva marketingThe story is told by Simone Bernstein who is a junior at St. Bonaventure University. After three years of success with her local organization, Simone and her brother launched VolunTEEN Nation in March 2012.

She has spoken at numerous conferences throughout the nation, has a column at the Huffington Post, was honored in 2010 as a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, and was recently listed on the 2012 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurship list.

An Inspiration to Volunteer

Engaging youth in volunteer service heals divisions within communities. As an avid volunteer in both my hometown and college community, with a passion for engaging youth in volunteer service, I took the initiative to launch a national website for youth to easily find and connect with volunteer opportunities and resources at volunTEENnation.org. Utilizing social media tools to promote the website over 8,500 youth have found volunteer opportunities through the website, organized volunteer events, and our annual volunteer fairs.

My initial spark to volunteer in my community was ignited when my dad was deployed in the military. My siblings and I were overwhelmed with the support our family received and the outpouring of volunteers: bringing meals, helping my mom with childcare and daily errands.I wanted to volunteer, too.

I was fortunate through word-of-mouth to find youth volunteer opportunities. During high school, I took the initiative to create a regional website stlouisvolunteen.com out of my own frustration and difficulty in finding volunteer opportunities for youth on-line. Due to safety, security and liability issues and concerns, many non-profit organizations and agencies limit the minimum age for an on-site volunteer to 18. I wanted to make it easier for area youth to find volunteer opportunities. Volunteering_2diva marketing

Interest in our regional website from schools, non-profit agencies and students around the nation drove my brother and I to create a national tool or resource for youth interested in volunteering.

Note It's A Family Affair! Photo of Simon's sister Sophie, brother/co-founder Jake, their Dad who is a captain in the Navy and Simon.

Meeting with local and national government officials, I advocate for service learning in our nation’s schools. The challenge facing our nation’s school’s is the crisis of high school dropouts due to lack of support both in the school and home. Engaging youth in service learning provides a valuable link back to the community with a strong connection to the classroom.

I organized and created the first St Louis Youth and Family Volunteer Fair. The Fair is now an annual event hosted at The St Louis Magic House, Children’s Museum with over 35 family-friendly non-profit organizations recruiting student and families to volunteer.

Wanting to engage more youth, I organize flexible volunteer projects for youth. I coordinated a September 11, 2011 tenth anniversary volunteer service project to engage youth and families “Serve to Remember” park clean-up. Combining sports and youth, my brother and I recruited 25 youth volunteers to instruct tennis lessons at “Aces for All” a weekly tennis clinic for youth on the autism spectrum “Soccer for All” and “B-ball for All”. I also helped start Making Music Matters, a successful organization where teens volunteer to teach music lessons in the inner-city schools.

My goal is to inspire others to find ways for all youth improve their communities.

  • It is well within the reach of any student to get involved and make a difference. 

Ideally, I would like to create an international volunteer site and combine my passion for volunteer service and my medical training to advocate for quality maternal.

More From VolunTeenNation

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Read more Diva Marketing Stories From Small NonProfits

Interview With Author Sybil F. Stershic -- Share of Mind, Share of Heart

09/07/2012

Sybil Stershic_3It is with great pleasure that I have the honor of introducing our Diva Marketing community to a dear friend, Sybil Stershic.

Sybil's second book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart, explores the world of nonprofit marketing. The book takes a different slant from other books about NPOs; it focuses on the impact that employees and volunteers have on brand perception.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Sybil, Right from the start of Share of Mind, Share of Heart it’s clear that this is a book that you believe in and that comes from your heart. The Forward sets the direction that nonprofit marketing holds an additional element that may not be as prominent in other industries.  It’s often based on a personal and passionate commitment.

How do you walk the fine line of believing passionately in a cause while maintaining business objectivity?

Sybil Stershic: It can be a challenge, Toby. Passion for the mission is what attracts nonprofit employees, volunteers, donors and other supporters. It helps connect them and keep them engaged with the work of a nonprofit.

But passion for the mission without a bigger picture perspective can be dangerous – it can lead to burnout and a condition known as “mission creep” that dilutes organizational focus. Effective oversight by nonprofit leadership, via the executive staff and board of directors, is needed to maintain a dual focus on both the mission and the organization’s viability. While a strong mission helps drive financial support – i.e., “no mission, no money” – these leaders understand the reverse is also true – “no money, no mission.”

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Your book is full of practical, creative ideas that at first glance seem so simple; however, we know too well that implementation can be a challenge. 

Would you talk to us about what you refer to as “After The First Day” (P 59)? After the initial orientation and excitement about the organization has waned how can we help remind staff and volunteers of the mission and goals and keep them on track?

Sybil Stershic: New staff and volunteers get a lot of attention when they first join the organization. Even in smaller organizations that don’t have formal orientation or on-boarding programs, there’s still an effort to “imprint” the new person with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.

After a while the newbies blend in with other staff and volunteers. If the collective group is not kept informed on an ongoing basis as to what’s happening in the nonprofit and how it’s responding, the people within the organization tend to hunker down and lose sight of the big picture. Job descriptions become outdated; members of the board turn over, yet the staff doesn’t know who the new board members; the strategic plan is updated, but not shared with staff and volunteers; etc.

  • In the absence of ongoing communication, people start to disengage.

What’s amazing, Toby, is that the remedy to this isn’t all that difficult. It involves being intentional in proactively communicating with staff and volunteers. For example, the Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (Whom you introduced me to, thank you! My pleasure Sybil. Bloggy disclaimer: JF&CS is a client.), holds an all-staff meeting the day after each  monthly board of directors’ meeting to share board meeting results along with updates on grants and special events. JF&CS also recognizes and shares volunteer accomplishments in its monthly e-newsletter.

Another great example is the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute that starts staff meetings and board meetings by reading aloud its mission statement to keep everyone focused. These two examples illustrate that keeping the people who help fulfill the mission “in the know” doesn’t require a Herculean effort –  it’s basic communication and engagement via staff meetings, volunteer meetings, internal newsletters, training, staff/volunteer recognition, and special events, as needed.

Diva Marketing/Toby: “So the degree to which you capture and keep consumers’ share of mind and heart is directly influenced by their interactions with your staff and volunteers.” (P 33) I really like this statement ... a lot.

Since Diva Marketing is focused on social media I’m wondering how much of a nonprofit’s online engagement in social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. influences share of mind and heart?

Sybil Stershic: The degree to which a nonprofit uses social networks depends on the organization – its culture, mission, key audiences, etc. That said, social media is a wonderful way to grow share of mind and heart with mission-inspired content.

Sharing stories and pictures of how people benefit from the mission (while not breaching confidentiality) Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart … volunteers or donors sharing their experiences supporting the mission (also reinforcing the ways people can get involved) …  staff members offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of a special event … these stories help bring the mission to life. A nonprofit can also write blog posts and share links to content that educates people about its mission and programs.

While social media advocates say “content is king,” I’d go even further to say “careful content is critical” in that nonprofits need to consider sensitivity in how they present any and all messages that reflect on their mission and brand. A negative impression can easily go viral.

Toby/Diva Marketing:
  What are your thoughts about involving staff, who are not in the marketing department, and also volunteers in participating in social media/networks? Let’s take these two ways.  The first is as one of the “voices” of the nonprofit.

Sybil Stershic: I know this seems like an oxymoron, but any “voice” speaking on behalf of a nonprofit needs to be authentic to be credible, yet carefully managed to ensure the wrong message isn’t put out there. That’s why social media guidelines and training need to be part of both Human Resources and Marketing policies.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The second ... how would you encourage nonprofits to interact with consumers in the digital world?

Sybil Stershic:  The answer to this depends on the organization and its target audiences’ access to and use of social media.

For example, I know a health-related nonprofit that combines both high-tech and low-tech approaches in building share of mind and heart. To broaden its outreach efforts, the marketing director produced a brief educational video as part of an “ambassador portfolio” that also contains a list of frequently asked questions and updated brochures for use by board and staff members. Employee reps show the video when meeting with outside groups or hosting on-site facility tours.

Marketing is also in the process of updating the website to be more engaging. Yet because many of its older board members do not use email, this nonprofit communicates with its board primarily by phone and regular mail.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’ve worked with many different types of nonprofits, and you’ve also worked with for profits. For me your book provides a roadmap that can be easily modified and used by both.  One challenge that both nonprofit and for profits face is opening lines of communication across the organization .. or “de-siloing.” What suggestions can you give us to help that critical process?

Sybil Stershic: The best way to start is to ask employees for their ideas on what works in bridging these silos. They can also help identify which departments or divisions are already doing with well with inter-organizational communications; these areas can serve as role models.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Sybil, as is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, you have the last word. What would you tell our community, especially those marketers working in the nonprofit world?

Sybil Stershic: Recognize your marketing team includes everyone who works in your organization, regardless of the department or function they are assigned. So you need to effectively engage the minds and hearts of the people behind the mission (your employees and volunteers who impact your brand) as well as the people in front of the mission (your consumers and the public).

Thanks, Toby!

Continue the conversation with Sybil!

Quality Services Marketing - website and blog | Share of Mind Share of Heart |Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Emplpyee Customer Care |Twitter @Sybilqsm

Pinterest State of Maryland Pitch Contest: Interview With Zoe Pagonis

06/18/2012

Maryland contest bannerSometimes we find innovation and inspiration in what may seem unlikely places.

Who would have thought that one of the most creative Pinterest contests would be developed by an institution not necessarily thought of as taking a lead in social media .. and definitely not on Pinterest. The U.S. Government. I know!

Toss of a pink boa to the State of Maryland, and specifcally to Governor Martin O'Malley and his communication staff! 

The Pinterest State of Maryland Pitch Contest asked entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses by using Pinterest to tell the story of their company.  A panel of business experts chose winners in two different categories: “Student Entrepreneurs” and “Boot Strappers. First place winners received MacBook Air and runner ups received an iPad courtesy of Baltimore Angels.  Partnership included: University of Maryland College Park, the Future of Information Alliance, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the Baltimore Angels.

 ZoeZoe Pagois graciously agreed to tell us the back-story.

About Zoe Pagonis - My name is Zoe Pagonis. I am Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s Communications and New Media Manager and am responsible for making sure that we are taking advantage of every possible tool to best communicate with our citizens.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  What I’m most curious about is the why the State of Maryland chose to create a Pinterest Pitch Contest to bring attention to the small business owners of the state. Note: Submission boards.

Zoe Pagonis: Governor O’Malley’s number one priority is creating and saving jobs and as an administration, we’re constantly looking for ways to showcase our small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship. As one of the fastest growing social networks, Pinterest seemed like a natural fit for bringing attention to our small businesses and showcasing all that the State of Maryland has to offer.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Pinterest and contests go together like PB&J. However, your approach was not only unique but it supported what social media, on any platform, is all about: telling the stories of the people who make up the brand .. both customers and employees.  Please tell us your behind the scene story of how the concept evolved.

Zoe Pagonis: Our office is always looking for new and innovative ways to connect with our citizens so as Pinterest grew in popularity, we created an account and used it to showcase what we’re doing in State Government (and also give people a behind the scenes look at who the Governor is as a person—he’s an avid reader!) In our State, we’re also blessed with an abundance of incubators and diverse centers of higher learning.

A few months ago, the Governor was scheduled to attend the University of Maryland College Park’s entrepreneurial Invitational and Cupid’s Cup Competition. In pulling together information about the event, we came across “Tweet Dingman” which was a unique competition that asked entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses using 10 Tweets.  This contest sparked the idea to use Pinterest.

The rest was a great collaborative effort and an eye-opening experience of just how many people in the State of Maryland are willing to lend a hand in support of local entrepreneurship.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  What were your goals for the contest?

Zoe Pagonis: The main goal of the contest was to highlight entrepreneurship in Maryland by using an innovative new technology. We also wanted to showcase our partner organizations and support entrepreneurs by connecting them to these great networks.  

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Were the results what you had expected?  

Zoe Pagonis: The results were better than I had expected. We had submissions from people all over Maryland of all ages. We even had three that came from students under the age of 13. I was also very impressed by the collaborative efforts of the judges and how willing everyone was to help with the contest in the name of supporting Maryland entrepreneurs.

Diva Marketing/Toby: I loved reading the “stories” from the businesses. The creativity that went into their boards was amazing. What surprised you about the submissions?

Zoe Pagonis: I was surprised most by how many talented individuals we have in the State of Maryland and equally delighted to see the three entries from the young students.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Pinterest provides interesting consumer insights. Are you doing any type of analysis to mine that data?

Zoe Pagonis: We are still very new to Pinterest and are exploring all of the ways we can use it as a tool to connect with more Marylanders. As with all of our new media accounts, we monitor the feedback and use it to guide our decision making.

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating especially from the point of view of a government entity.  Did you get push back? What was the reaction from the lawyers?

Zoe Pagonis: One of the criteria of the contest was that the pictures be unique to the individual or that they use proper attributions.  We consulted with experts in the business community on the guidelines of the contest before moving forward.

Diva Marketing/Toby: It seemed to me that when the contest launched, the State of Maryland’s Pinterest page was fairly new. How did you create awareness with your target audience?

Zoe Pagonis: We relied heavily on our partners and existing social channels to spread the word about the contest. Governor O’Malley also announced the contest at the University of Maryland’s Entrepreneurial invitational event which helped to generate buzz.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Thinking about the entire campaign, what would you do differently?

Zoe Pagonis: We had help from a few partner organizations but in the future, I would reach out to every business incubator in Maryland and associated organizations for help in promoting the contest.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s shift gears slightly and talk a little about your boards in general. There is even a board for Govenor O'Malley. Wondering what benefits he sees in social visual communication over other channels of communication?

Zoe Pagonis: All forms of communications are important and we’re always looking for the most effective ways to connect with citizens and share resources.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In terms of content, are you pinning from only Maryland State owned images or are planning to include citizen images too?

Zoe Pagonis: At the moment, we are posting images and videos about our programs and resources but we are exploring all options–including citizen generated content.

Diva Marketing/Toby: One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate time you’re investing?

Zoe Pagonis: Social media is highly integrated into our overall communications strategy and we see it as a great way to amplify our existing message. As the number of networks expands, it does become more difficult to keep up with everything but we focus our attention on the resources that we think will help us do the best job in communicating with Marylanders. As the fastest growing network that was driving a significant amount of referral traffic, we knew that we wanted to be on Pinterest.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons learned can you share with us from your overall experience with Pinterest from both the contest and the overall board management?

Zoe Pagonis: Pinterest is great in that it doesn’t require as much time. You can update it less frequently and still achieve your objective of driving traffic to your resources. For the contest, it was a great platform for showcasing our small businesses. The images lended themselves well to telling a story and we’re going to continue to look for more opportunities to use the platform in the future.

Diva Marketing/Toby: To wrap this up what’s next for the State of Maryland Pinterest’s boards? Maryland contest gov omalley et al
 

Zoe Pagonis: In our Administration, what’s next is anything that’s innovative, cost-effective and works to amplify our existing resources. We see Pinterest as one of the many ways we’ll continue to connect and how we use it will depend on which of Maryland’s great entrepreneurs invent the next Facebook or Pinterest!

Congrats! to the winners of the Maryland Pinterest Pitch Contest. 

Student Entrepreneur Category:

First Place: GB Wallets

Second Place: Discrete Secrete Solutions

Bootstrapper Category:

First PlaceBeerGivr

Second Place: Mission Launch

Continue the conversation with Zoe!

Governor O'Mallye on Pinterest |Govenor O'Malley's Website|Zoe Pogonis on Twitter

Graphic credit: MD Govpics Flickr

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

Interview with Geoff Livingston Author of Marketing In The Round

06/11/2012

Geoff Livingston 2012It is my pleasure to introduce you to the co-author of Marketing In The Round .. my friend Geoff Livingston

One line in Geoff''s bio tells all you need to know to understand the man behind this newly release book. "He brings people together, virtually and physically to affect change and achieve higher knowledge."

In his third book, co-authored with Gini Dietrich, the focus is on  integrating traditional and new media marketing elements and breaking down those stifling internal silos.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Let’s start this off with “Why this book?” Seriously, why does the world of  marketing need this book now?

Geoff Livingston:  When Gini Dietrich and I focused on multichannel integration, our logic centered on delivering ROI and outcomes for social media. So much of today’s conversation is about how marketers can get results from social. To us, that lack of results has more to do with siloed communications and a failure to integrate all marketing disciplines together.  Integration also includes adding hard lead generation-oriented metrics from direct and advertising to the mix. 

 Even though that was a year, ago the problem persists. Two recent studies from the CMO Council and the CMO Survey showed that less than 10% of lead marketers are running well integrated digital campaigns [Geoff's post - What CEOs Want: Better Social Integration & Anaylics]. Integrating marketing and general understanding of diverse disciplines has become a lost art.

Diva Marketing/Toby: So many options. So little time, money and people. From your perspective, what is the most significant challenge facing the 21st century marketer?

Geoff Livingston: Without question, it’s understanding the modern stakeholder’s media experience. 

Marketers think like media tools, literally.  It’s as if we were media hammers. How can I get people to use my nail? How can I drive the nail home?  But in reality, people walk around an entire media structure in which there are many nails, dry wall, support beams, screws, hex nuts, roofing, lights, tiles, etc. etc. 

  • Until we stop marketing from our perspective, but from the perspective of the true media landscape as seen by our customers, including mobile, 21st century marketers will struggle.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  The visual model  of Marketing In The Round is built with “marketing” as the center and let’s call them  marketing functional areas (advertising, web/digital, content, direct mail, etc.) as spokes from the center.  Based on your model, how do you define “marketing” that makes marketing unique from the functional tenants.

Geoff Livingston:  The ability to build, maintain and administrate holistic communications and interaction strategy for an organization and its stakeholders.

Toby Bloomberg/Diva Marketing: Wondering... where do customer care, research and sales fit into the model?

Geoff Livingston:  They definitely fit in frequently. When we present the Round concept live you’d see them brought into meetings frequently.  They don’t usually end up at weekly meetings of the marketing group, but are an integral part of the larger customer experience, and as such, they end up attending CMO meetings almost every month if not more frequently.  Ideally, everyone is closely seated together to help foster further integration.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Sounds like you’re restructuring the marketing department. Who leads the charge of  Marketing In The Round if not the CMO? What skills/talents should that person have to make it work?

Geoff Livingston: It is the CMO.

That person should have a couple of skill sets.  First, they are an administrator and a manager. Their job is to facilitate the marketing function from a resource and operational perspective, incentivize what had been here-to-fore silos to work together, and lead the department in its interface with other departments so that marketing acts as a networked component of the larger enterprise (as opposed to its own silo).  Secondly, that person is usually a marketer themselves, and as such they need to have graduated from tactician to a strategist who can understand the value of branding, strategic approaches and tactics.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  One of my favorite lines in the book is –“.. you lend that content to and
community to outlying networks ..”
(p 24) The question then becomes is what’s the source of the Geoff Livingston Marketing in the round_max content and community?

Geoff Livingston: Usually, it’s the company. If the company is successful in its groundswell and top down approaches you’re seeing true customer word of mouth take place and they start developing content.  Stakeholder generated content creates brand and product advocacy, as well as (hopefully) inspiring media stories, speaking engagements, analyst reports and other types of traditional professional content produced independently of the company.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Coming from a research background, I appreciate the time you dedicated to consumer insights .. both traditional and social media. It seems as though the concepts of “listening” and “monitoring” had different meanings in the book. How are you defining  concept of “listening” and that of “monitoring?”

Geoff Livingston: It may be an issue of semantics on our part.  They are closely related.

Listening occurs before, during and after a marketing effort. But in many ways it’s the harnessing of data – big data if you would. I think hearing is the ability to decipher that data into meaningful and regular intelligence. Monitoring to me is the practice of hearing that data intelligence formally and regularly as a company.  Now, that’s my opinion based on the question. Gini may have a different take on that.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  I really liked the charts, worksheets and resources that you and Gini integrated throughout the book.  One of the Pros under social media (p27) indicated “inexpensive form of sponsoring messages on the social platforms.”  Does this refer to “blogger relations” and are you advocating paying bloggers for their posts?

Geoff Livingston: I don’t advocate paying bloggers to blog on their site. I do advocate paying people to intelligently interact with bloggers to provide useful content ideas and guest posts wherever possible.

I pay bloggers for their posts on Inspiring Generosity. Getting great content for your site requires paying talent, in my opinion.  I hate people that ask me to blog for free consistently without any clear value for my effort. It’s the primary reason why I stopped blogging for Mashable. The effort outweighed the value.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Several different dashboards ideas are presented. While I think dashboards are a great way to track and analyze do it right is a time resource/commitment. If a company can only manage One dashboard what would be your suggestion?

Geoff Livingston: There is no silver bullet, unfortunately. Whatever a company selects they will end up customizing it if they want meaningful analytics for their monitoring program.  Google Analytics, Radian6, Hubspot, Marketo, and Eloqua is where I’d start depending on budget, from free to full enterprise.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In your travels Geoff, what organizations did you find that were doing it well?

Geoff Livingston: Dell, the American Red Cross are the obvious ones.

Procter & Gamble does a lot better than people give them credit for.  They are a brand management organization in the CMO sense, using agencies to execute tactics. I think they get social in the sense of when an agency or partner is doing a good job for them, and when they are not.

Google is doing really well, even the + network isn’t (or maybe it’s just bad press).  Google clearly listens to feedback, and it seems to me they are becoming a social enterprise. 

Etsy and Five Guys are brilliant at word of mouth marketing.  Chrysler has proven itself to be a savvy advertising company in its current incarnation. And Apple is probably the best all around integrated multichannel marketing organization out there.

Diva Marketing/Toby: As is the tradition on Diva Marketing the last questions is yours to take and run with as you would like. What would you tell our community about integrated marketing in the round?

Geoff Livingston: This isn’t rocket science. Our book is not going to teach you black belt jujitsu. It is about the basic fundamentals of marketing together as an integrated multichannel organization. No matter how fancy your marketing strategy and tactical execution is, if you aren’t blocking and tackling, you will likely lose.

It’s a reminder about what worked before social, and what still works in the current digital marketing era, teamwork, and thinking together as collective communications team.  That’s integrated strategies.

Continue the conversation with Geoff!

Geoff Livingstons Blog Twitter Flickr G+ Marketing In The Round SlideShare Pinterest

 Bloggy Disclaimer: I was provided with a complementary copy of Marketing In The Round. All opinions are 100% mine.

Pinterest For Business To Business: Interview With Joel Windels of Brandwatch

05/23/2012

Last week I attended my first Pinterest meetup. Max pinterest tshirt

It was great fun and I even won a Pinterest T-shirt. Seems appropriate that Max should model it since he has his own Pinterest board. Don't you think he makes a cute model?

Anyway, needless to say, I was excited to meet fellow pinners and talk about strategy, cool tools, what works, what doesn't.

"Were you on the PinChat when host & founder Kelly LIeberman brought in Lizze from McDonalds?" I asked a few people. My question was met with puzzled looks. "Oh big corporations are pinning?"  Now I was surprised. Ah..yes. 

Granted, I only spoke with a handful of people, but it seemed most were pinning for fun or using Pinterest in a very limited way for business e.g. one board among many personal boards.

My big take aways: Pinterest, as a business tool, is still in the beginning stages of adoption .. even for the pioneer pinners. Even more than the idea of pinning for business, is the concept of putting a focus on pinning for business by creating and maintaining a variety of boards that support a brand.

When it comes to social media, we learn most from the people who have stepped out before us and generously share their experiences. In this Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series post we take a look how a business-to-business company, Brandwatch, is using Pinterest as an inbound marketing tactic.

About Brandswatch: Launched in August 2007, Brandwatch  develops tools for monitoring and analysing social media conversations. The company is experiencing huge growth in the young sector.

 Joel Windels_Brandwatch

Our interview is with Joel Windels. Joel is the Community Manager at Brandwatch where he is responsible for all of Brandwatch’s presences online, including social networks like Pinterest.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In a world that began as a social network to share images of food and fashion Brandwatch is one of the early business-to-business brands on Pinterest. What did you see about the platform that caused you to actively participate?

Joel Windels: The key thing to remember with social media is that it is not only incredibly new, but it is also changing at a rate that is almost impossible to stay totally on top of. At Brandwatch, we’re obviously very interested in making sure we’re keeping track of all of the most popular social sites, so once Pinterest began to show itself as a rising star, we had to take notice. The meteoric rise of the network and simplicity of the image-sharing idea struck a chord with me, so I decided to test the waters.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  From a high level, what is Brandwatch’s  Pinterest strategy?

Joel Windels: We generally see Pinterest as a traffic-boosting network, with site referrals from Pinterest forming a small part of our wider lead generation strategy. As an inbound marketing tool, it’s an excellent place to house links to lots of our content in a visually appealing and clever way, in a way that’s not centered around our own website.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Understanding that Pinterest is still in its infancy, especially in terms of b2b, what are your measures for success?

Joel Windels: As I mentioned before, we’re just testing the waters and, for the moment at least, we’re measuring its value in referral rates. There’s something to be said for the qualitative worth in having a presence, such as using it as a resource for curious prospects and simply for broadening the visibility of Brandwatch, though the primary measurement is through number of visits to our own site from Pinterest for the time being.

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating. What were Brandwatch’s challenges and how did you overcome them?

Joel Windels: One of the more interesting ways we’ve been using Pinterest is through the use of our ‘social media monitoring’ board. We’ve created it to house a board of our main competitors, as we regularly get asked about the other options in the market, so it gives us somewhere to point people to. Using our own tool, we also search the web for individuals and companies that are enquiring about SMM tools and the industry, so we often step in to offer advice, sometimes via our Pinterest boards.

While it may be a cliché, we think that our tool is the best around and that people will come to that conclusion by themselves, so in pointing our prospects to our competitors we’re not approaching marketing in an orthodox way. The risk is that we’re not as good as we think we are (very low, of course)!

Diva Marketing/Toby:  If you’re not a visual thinker it might be a “content challenge” for a services business to sustain pinning over time. What is your content strategy .. In other words what are you pinning?  

Joel Windels: Pinterest is a supplementary channel for us, so we don’t have a content strategy for the platform. We’ve created one-off boards, such as the monitoring one and a set of pins to support our Superbowl project back in February, though we are now using the site as a seeding channel for our main content – namely our eBooks, our case studies and our blog posts. Essentially our Pinterest content plan mirrors our general one.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In social networks there are two paths we can take:  passively providing content and actively engaging within others. At this point, most people seem to be sharing content/pins but there is not a lot of conversation happening. How active is Brandwatch in terms of engagement e.g. commenting, repining, likes?

Joel Windels: This is a very good point you’ve made, as they are indeed two very different approaches. There are 1001 different social networks propping up and lots of guesswork involved in determining how to spend your ‘community time’. Therefore I decided that, for now, we’ve tried to keep our primary focus for engagement on tried and tested platforms like Twitter, whilst using Pinterest for its own strengths.

For the moment, we’ve walked the first type of path in passively providing content, though as the site progresses and we hire more community staff in the coming months, we may well take a look at the second approach. Brandwatch

Diva Marketing/Toby:  One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate time you’re investing?

Joel Windels: Our team is split across the UK, Germany and the USA. Understandably we’re still putting together the processes that divide the community spread, but at the moment it’s just me on Pinterest. We’ve pulled a bit of focus away from the likes of Google plus and other networks for the time being, as we’re seeing more referrals through Pinterest. We’ve had other monitoring companies repin some of our pins, and plenty of staff members contribute to the content that our pins link to, but as far as actually maintaining our profile and our uploads, that task currently sits at my desk.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In any new social media endeavor, they will not come unless you tell them. How is Brandwatch creating awareness for its Pinterest boards?

Joel Windels: Well, you know what? They have been coming anyway. Like I mentioned before, we often link people through Twitter and other sites to our collections – good articles, our eBooks, competitors when someone wants an overview. We haven’t really pushed our Pinterest presence very strongly; it seems to have grown organically, with users sharing it amongst themselves because they like our boards/content rather than us trying to draw attention to it.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Pinterest provides interesting consumer insights. From the point of view of a research company, I’d love to hear your views of what marketers can gain from analysis of pins and boards.

Joel Windels: Well, Pinterest is a bit of a pain with its API so it’s very hard to work out exactly how much coverage we offer. Obviously it’s the best possible, but we are aware of some pins slipping through the net. Useful features like sentiment analysis and author metrics can help analysts work out how companies are faring on Pinterest, and how they might be doing that.

 As with all of the data we track, searching the web for social media mentions of your brand, your industry or your competitors will allow you to get a much greater understanding of what your customers are saying. Even if people are pinning and engaging positively on your brand page, doesn’t mean people aren’t indicating otherwise elsewhere. The only way of truly gleaning insight from the social web is through monitoring tools and the features they provide. Exactly what each company will discover from an analytical point of view will differ in each case.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  To wrap this up. what lessons learned can you share with us about business-to-business companies coming jumping onto the Pinterest train?

Joel Windels: As with any new and untested platform, it’s quite fun to test the waters with what works and what doesn’t; it’s certainly good advice to poke your toes in before diving in at the deep end. Furthermore, we’ve found that through being open, interesting and experimental we’ve managed to get a good ROI from being on the network.

Note: #PinChat is held Wednesday at 9p Eastern Time.

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series