Social Media Lessons In A Small Smooth Stone


Inspiration can come in many forms and in many ways. From a dance troupe, as Yvonne DiVita  Heart 1a  describes, to a simple stone washed by the ocean. 

 As the tides came into the shore, I watched as gray sands began to cover the little stone-heart. I was tempted to pick it up and carefully place it in the purple straw purse I was carrying. Somehow it seemed wrong to do that. Instead I snapped a photo with my iPhone.

I continued my beach walk wondering if someone else would notice the stone shaped like a heart. Or perhaps it was just my imagination that a heart was hiding in a small, smooth stone. Maybe the next person would see something different.  

We each see the world through our own unique lens. Often people think they see something in a similar way. However, the illusion is it's never quite the same .. it's always a little different. 

In the world of social media we are learning that our customers can see our brands differently than what we might have imagined. In the world of social media we are learning that diverse views can help create better products. In the world of social media we are learning that there are many shapes hidden in a smooth stone. 

This post is dedicated to Susan Ellen -- Jessica's & Scott's mummy, my sister, Polli's friend, Kaye's & Mal's cousin and Barbara's niece -- who saw the hearts in little smooth stones. Sending virtual happy birthday xxoo. We miss you Sus. Susan atl  

Extreme DIY Social Media Media Blogger Relations Training For PR/Ad Agencies


Press pass _toby
I really like the beat you cover
began one pitch that recently dropped into my inbox. 

Seems that PR people think that I am a media outlet.  Sort of funny.  However, at this juncture in the evolution of social media and blogger relations, sort of sad and frustrating that too many agencies still don't  understand the "human side" of "social." All they see is "media." 

One could make a case that most marketing and public relations higher education courses don't cover earned media well if at all. One could make a case that social media is new and many people are at the initial stages of learning. One could make a case that blogs appear to be a type of public information and leap to the conclusion that content creators are another type of reporter. 

One could come up with a whole bunch of excuses. But Girlfriend, if you don't fix the broken heel of your favorite Jimmy Choos you'll hobble along forever. Or something like that.  How do you "social media fix" a PR agency or ad agency? With a little training and a walk in a blogger's stylish shoes. 

Abc_1  For now forget the listen to the conversation. Forget the build the relationship first. If you've ever stepped your polished purple toes into the social media waters you've heard that at least a zillion times. Guess you didn't get it. 

We're changing Nike's Just Do It into "YOU do it" with Extreme DYI Social Media Blogger Relations Training For Agencies (and anyone else). It's not easy. It does take time. It's based on at least 2 people or 2 teams participating. It's not for the whiners. 

If you succeed at the end of the course .. you buy me my next pair of Jimmy Choos. If not I'll buy you a drink when your boss says the famous Donald Trump words - You're Fired!

Extreme DYI Social Media Blogger Relations Training - A Four Week 12 Step Program

Week One - Understanding Social Media 

Step 1 Read: Social Media Marketing GPS, my free eBook for an over view of social media. How long can that take to read it was based on 140 character tweets?  Follow that with: The Hyper-Social Organization, Naked Conversations, The Digital Handshake The New Rules of Marketing and PR - Second Edition. Look out for Nettie Hartsocks' soon to be released book Kiss Your Publisher Goodbye -- reading her blog is a good idea too.

Weeks Two, Three & Four - A Walk In A Blogger's High Fashion Shoes

Step 2 - Create 2 teams 

Step 3 - Read Pulse of the Industry Blogger Relations Series Parts i, ii, iii, iv and v

Step 4 - Read Susan Getgood's Blog with Integrity guidelines

Step 5 - Create a blog on any topic that you can sustain for three weeks. The graphical look and feel must complement your subject. Add at least 10 blogs that write about similar topics to you blog roll. 

Step 6 - Write a minimum of 3 well thought out posts per week for the next 3 weeks

Step 7 - Comment on other blogs at a minimum of 3 times per week. 

Weeks Three & Four

Step 8 - Pitch A Blogger

Step 9 - Develop a minimum of 4 pitches per week that you will send ONLY to the people who are participating in the Extreme DIY Social Media Blogger Relations Training with you.

Step 10 - For each pitch you receive do one or more of the following actions: a. reply back; b. post to your blog; c. do nothing; e. other .. you decide. Track your actions for each pitch. 

Week Four

Step 11 - Provide feedback to your colleagues on their pitches including how you responded and why.

Step 12 - What did you learn? How did you feel about response to your pitches? What will you put into practice in your next blogger relations campaign? Did you color outside the lines .. do more than was suggested? What?

Happy Graduation!  Jimmy choo_1  

Social Media - Learning From Each Other


People learning together  A thank you post to the great people who generously participated and gave of themselves to create a "real time social networking" environment last week at the American Marketing Association Social Media 
in San Antonio. Our day and a half together ended as, it began, with people learning from each other. With their permission, here are some of the take aways and lessons learned from our concluding exercise. 

When building a social media strategy

Focus on achievable outcomes and goals

Consider the pros and cons of various social media platforms

Have a basic understanding of your audience and how they want to receive information

Determine the definition and structure of the plan

Define and refine expected outcomes 

Fit audience to appropriate channels

Value of listening

Balance between professional image and more conversational content in social media 


Be aware of and utilize the "funnel" effect of word of mouth

Make it easy for customers to promote events .. talk about you and your brand

Display outcomes of your customers' suggestions in social media

Building an internal case for social media 

Include cases and testimonials

Ability to prove ROI to management

When considering an outside agency

Looking for quality websites

Active in social media

Thoughtful strategies

Consider longevity of media outlets

Toss of a pink boa to the Pink boaAMA San Antonio Chapter for rolling out the red carpet for our workshop .. especially prez Casidhe Meriwether and Sheila Dunn who handled on site logistics. Watch for some exciting social media initiatives from:

Liberty Mutual, Security Service Federal Credit Union, North Lake College, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, San Jacinto College, Texas Weddings LTD, Esparza Advertising, Center for Medical Humaniites & Ethics,  Eye Care Centers of America, CPS Energy, Medical Present Value, Design Strategies, HNTB, Valero Federal Credit Union, Twist Education, Kovel/Fuller, Scout Communications, Syngenta

What's a marketing event without a few photos? Thank you Casidhe!

"Will Social Media Change Our Behavior?"


That was the question asked yesterday by one of the professors who attended UGA's (that's the University of GA for anyone not living in the South or not into college football!) social media conference - Connect. In it's 3rd year, Prof Karen Russell brings together Public Relations students, academics and professionals working in social media. 

Connect uga 9_09

I had the privilege of sharing a panel with the ever controversial, but always smart, Jeremy Pepper on  Integrating Social Media in Business and Industry.

It's always fun and invigorating to be part of a student event. Highlights of the speaker's ideas/presentations were captured on a retro social media platform .. the UGAConnect 2009 blog. Here's mine

It's an innovative program and I would love to see the Connect model adopted with a focus on social media marketing. Tossing a pink boa to Karen, Diane Murphy and of course the amazing students.

But I digress. As always happens at any type of conference some of the best discussions occur outside of the sessions. The question, "Will social media change our behavior?" was directed not at consumers but the professionals behind the brand. 

One of my first jobs out of college was as a customer service rep for a major health insurance company. Sometimes I felt it was "me and the customer" against the company. I can't but wonder ..

  • Will PR and marketing professionals, who traditionally don't daily interact with customers, approach their day-to-day jobs any differently if their job descriptions include active participation in social media conversations?
  • Does knowing personal details about customers and stakeholders build added empathy to cheer louder - work harder - for the customer?
  • Does having access to a daily stream of consumer feedback from high praise to disappointments in product and service influence how media releases or ads are written?
  • If some people in non traditional, call them indirect customer engagement jobs like PR, HR, Marketing, IT, begin to build relationships with customers while others in their department do not, not does this produce conflict about the execution of tactics?
  • How will job descriptions and subsequent annual reviews and raise incentives change for "indirect customer engagement jobs that include social media participation? Will these jobs be at a higher grade level since additional skills, experience and training will be needed?
  • As more of our customers and clients join social networks and discover that there is frequently a disconnect between channel service (Twitter responses occur in seconds while call center resolutions may take days) and begin to depend on social channels to "talk to the company" will there be an internal conflict for resources?

This is part of a concept I've been talking about for a long time but finally beginning to explore in more depth -  The Social Enterprise. It's an extension of the corner grocery story relationship that is the heart of what I believe makes social media of value to any business. Would love to hear your thoughts : Will Social Media Change Our Behavior?

"The Peachtree" Road Race - Lessons Learned


Happy Fourth of July!

Peachtree road race 2009 tshirt Run, walk, watch or read tweets #peachtree road race - The Peachtree is Atlanta's tradition for the 4th of July morning. Today the 2009 Peachtree Road Race celebrates its 40th anniversary back where it started at Piedmont Park. 5500 will proudly wear the 2009 Peachtree Road Race t-shirt this year.

The race is so integrated into Atlanta culture that we simply say "The Peachtree" assuming that all the world understands what that means. Talking with @Pollig this week brought that one home. My friend from Boston, well Weymouth, MA, was confused when I mentioned that after The Peachtree I'd probably join friends in Midtown tonight to watch fireworks.

I thought it does sound funny - "Watch the Peachtree." Why would you watch a street and which Peachtree street might that one be since Atlanta has 50 zillion Peachtree Streets?

How many times do we get caught up in our own company's or industry's buzz words? How often do we confuse customers and especially prospective customers? We don't mean to .. it's just part of our culture. But in doing so we construct barriers that our customers have to figure out by themselves how to maneuver around.

In marketing, especially social media marketing, that seems to happen all the time. So much so that worlds that seem obvious become platitudes. A term that social media consultants and marketers love to toss around is conversation. What are these "conversations?"  What does it mean to be authentic? How do you define transparency?

Lessons learned from The Peachtree Road Race: Give your customers an unobstructed course to run your The Peachtree!

TweetChats #socialmedia


Social media tweet chat Add one more virtual place to network to your list .. TweetChats. Oh no! girlfriend you might be thinking not another social media thing to add to my running list .. and what is a tweetchat anyway?

Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends, has a great definition.

  • A tweetchat is simply an organized group chat that takes place using the Twitter platform. Participants use an assigned hashtag (say, #sbbuzz) for their tweets during the discussion.

When Marc Meyer asked me to host one of the most popular Tweetchats this week I said .. of course! Held weekly, Tuesdays from noon - 1p,  #socialmedia explores issues about social media marketing.  The focus this week was on the "hidden demographics" of social media like bebe boomers, women etc. etc. etc.  Title: Deciding the “now what” and the “who with” of social media in your company.

The exchange of ideas was fast, furious, exciting .. and the people .. so smart. Moderating was like running a race while juggling 50 balls in the air. Although #socialmedia is structured around 3 20-minute segments each with a unique question,  it was fascinating to watch the sidebar conversations occurring simultaneously.  The questions:

#1. What demographics are most powerful in each of the top social networks? And Why?
#2. Which demographics are most overlooked, ignored, or taken for granted, in the top tier social networks? Why?
#3. With the increase of social media usage, which demographics will drive innovation in social networking?

I found that our conversation didn't really follow the progression of the questions as much as some other tweetchats might have; but the discussion happened naturally on its own accord. With tosses of a pink boa to the amazing people who generously shared their opinions and experience and to Marc Meyer and Jason Breed the sponsors .. here are my takes of the highlights.


The Baby Boomer generation maybe late in getting to this party but according to comScore there are about 16.5 million adults ages 55 and older engaged in social networking.

@conniereece - All I can say is that marketers need 2 wake up 2 how many boomers R online & how they use socnets. Connie thinks that boomers are the "lost demo" and not only for profits but nonprofits are missing opportunities.

Even in this economy, Boomers have more $ to spend then the X-Yers. Note to brand marketers (and main stream media): Take off your cool shades the internet and social networks are Not only for the "youngsters."

The challenge for brands per @CBWhittemore is to make it .." relevant to baby boomers & others b/c new marketplace imperatives."

The challenge for people who have not grown up with new technologies is understanding how to use the tools. A wrong click will not necessarily bring down the Internet or explode your computer. On a personal level @evelynso shared a great idea .. that might help grandparents have an ah ha! moment. Think of  Flickr or Facebook as a global grandkids brag book.  You get to share those cute photos of your precious darlings with your closet Friends; and if you wish some you might not know yet.

When it comes to How generations use social media platforms we noticed a few differences. - seniors/ Boomers have a different $ management style. Check alternatives - sometimes SM is cheaper & faster. From  @evelynso and @marc_meyers - boomers share content Gen Y shares the intimate details of their lives.

Where are the Boomers hangin' out? Consensus seems to be on Facebook. Very few boomer friends (male or female) on Twitter. For @conniereece - Lots on FB now, and a few on LinkedIn.  @sonnygill thinks that - demos on the more established networks are wider ranged than Twitter is (namely boomers).

Wondering ... will we see a change as Gen Y's and Millenniums' careers shift into management levels and the Boomers become more comfortable with open conversations? Also will Boomers leaving the work force (those that can afford to do so!) result in more transparency in their social media interactions? In other words will the cultures flip-flop?

Gen Y

When it came to Gen Y we thought they were tech savvy but lacking in social media marketing, strategy expertise. @CathyWebSavvyPR - I've heard from some college students that SM is a part of social life, they can't see applications. That was my experience too when I presented social media marketing to an advertising class at UGA.

When it comes to Twitter - @dcgf - I think it's Gen Y who are not very "savvy" w/Twitter. The movers and shakers on here are older...However @CathyWebSavvyPR believes that - I think Gen x/Y will once they begin entering the workforce & needing to use SM. their learning curve may B shorter 

Can Social Media Close the Generation Gap?

Example of one of the sidebar tweet conversations

>At the risk of making assumptions, I'd hazard to say that the ave age of THIS "unConference" is over 35! (don't hate-ha) - @dcgf
>@dcgf as an Mil-gen are you comfortable engaging with the 'older' peeps on twitter? @dcgf could social media be the way to close the generation gap? - @tobydiva
>def closes gen gap and @Mark_Meyer I think all gen's want to feel like they're being engaged on a personal level - @dcgf


We wondered where women were hanging out online and if they were using social media diffently than men. Most of our tweets were based on observation and personal experience. @Verbatim told us that  - Research shows men preferring Twitter and women, FB. Which makes sense to me, FB being more personal details.

@conniereece in regard to Twitter - if you look at *what* men/women post on Twitter, it's different. Women more likely to share, men to broadcast. #socialmedia (generalization). Seems that a guy agrees with Connie - @marc_meyer men generalize and women socialize...?

Tweets were not all serious we had some giggles along the way. @wpmc - Saw a book on communications "Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti" - Facebook is like spaghetti.

@CathyWebSavvyPR brought out an interesting point that brands should consider when using Facebook to reach women.  - I know many women feel that FB is for freinds & family & resent the intrusion of business there. others like it.

Social Media Marketing

We also talked about what is social media? @greenhance offered an interesting concept - Altho I've no proof, I think SM adoption is personality driven. Some are more likely to use Twitter, others FB, etc.

@marc_meyer looked at in from this point of view - Twitter is 4 biz Linkedin is 4 networking, FB is the playground, or something like that. any1 remember the analogy?

When it comes right down to it people agreed with @ddeseta - It's not about the most followers. It's about having the most relevance within yoursphere. and with @mrochte  - It's about convening not controlling #SocialMedia " - that's the message we need to understand  mrochte

When it came down to what to make of the "hidden demographics" @greenhance reminded us - Brands can cultivate real loyalty with SM in a way that was previously limited by geography/reach.  Social media is one aspect of marketingmarketing basics.

To wrap this up it's back to marketing basics - know who your customers are/where they hang out/what they want. @tobydiva Be careful of what you think you know..  your truth might be an illusion.


Tweet Stream

Business Week Social Media Gender Gap
Pew Internet has extensive stats on social media
Forrester Social Technology Profile ToolJohn Cass for the link!

Blogher 2009 Women and Social Media Study

Personal Branding - Beyond Your Resume


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.

Mobile Marketing Goes To The Dogs


 This seems to be the week to share thoughts of some of my smart friends with you. Perhaps we should begin a new series on Diva Marketing .. Sharing The Thoughts of Smart Friends.

My pal Jon Lee Andersen is an attorney in Atlanta. But Jon is no boring lawyer .. he is one cool divo whose practice focuses on the marketing and advertising industries. In fact Jon has bragging rights as the only lawyer who has held the office of president of the AMA/Atlanta Chapter.

Quarterly Jon writes a newsletter on marketing topics incorporating the point of view of the law. He kindly agreed to share his latest article about mobile marketing with Diva Marketing's community. His writing is smart and funny. In this issue Jon's dog analogy so reminded me of Twitter!

Benny _12_2  New Dogs in Advertising - By Jon Lee Andersen

The Faithful Companion

I once owned a Golden Retriever who followed me everywhere. If I went from one room in the house to another, within minutes he was in there with me. I think he was slightly irritated on some occasions with this movement, especially when he was perfectly comfortable where he was at the moment and could see no good reason to move. As he got older he did stop following me upstairs, but he always waited at the bottom step for me to come back down. When I was at home, he was always at my side.

Now my dog sent me messages regularly, but they were only about himself. Today however, there is another “faithful companion” in our lives and it has the potential to deliver messages to me where ever I may roam: my cell phone. Like my dog it follows me from room to room, and even better - it goes out the door, down the street, to the grocery store, to school, the pizza parlor and the ball game.

Advertisers are taking serious note, since technology now enables them to text me messages about their products and services. I have read that as many as 60 million consumers were exposed to mobile advertising in a recent month and that analysts think the mobile market could be as big as $3 billion in billings within the next 4 years. As text messaging gains even more converts, it is likely to grow even faster. As the saying goes, this marketing dog can hunt!

The Hound Dog

Not is the mobile advertising getting bigger, it is getting more sophisticated. Like a good bloodhound, if my phone was equipped with a GPS system (alas, it is not) advertisers could find me almost anywhere. This would enable them to target me with advertising designed for my specific location, say a coupon good for French fries if I happen to be near a fast food chain. And if the advertiser knew from some other source, such as a behavioral study of my habits from my online usage, that I really liked fast food, the success rate of the advertising should be very high.

Max and friend asleep  The Watch Dog

So, with this proliferation of text and other mobile advertising, what are the problems and the guidelines for doing it correctly? As with the online advertising, the biggest problem is spam, the unwanted ads, junk and schemes being sent. While it is annoying in my computer’s email inbox, at least it is free.

For cell phone customers however, it is not only annoying, it can be rather expensive. Most mobile phone service providers charge for incoming text messages. I have read that in 2008, it is estimated that over 1.5 billion spam text messages were received by consumers at a cost exceeding $225 million dollars.

The principal watch dog for abuses in mobile advertising is the Federal Trade Commission, working under the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act. While CAN-SPAM was initially focused on the glut of spam email messages flooding computers, Section 14 of the Act specifically bans companies from sending unsolicited commercial text messages to cellular phones.

The key requirement for mobile text advertising is that the recipient must give the advertiser “opt-in” to send the text message. By opting-in, consumers have affirmatively agreed to receive text messages from an advertiser and have agreed to pay for any resulting charges incurred. An affirmative opt-in is also required to allow an advertiser to utilize location-based information.

Both the Mobile Marketing Association and CTIA Wireless Association have developed Best Practices Guidelines to address mobile advertising. Both state that content providers must obtain approval from subscribers before sending them commercial SMS or MMS messages or other content.

Obtaining consent may be one of the biggest headaches for advertisers, since the rules require that notice about how and what information will be used must be given in proximity to the consent. Therefore, the small screens of mobile phones will pose some technical limitations. But, I’m betting on technology and advertisers!

The text ad was directed to Mark
Whom they knew was out in the park
And being most careful men
They checked his “opt-in”
So the D.C. watchdog wouldn’t bark

© March 2009 Jon Lee Andersen, Andersen Law Firm, All Rights Reserved

Sign up Jon's quarterly newsletters. He's also happy to answers any questions. jlandersen -at - lawyer - dot - com.

Thanks to BL Ochman, PawFun and whatsnextblog,  Benny Bix Ochman Labradoodle's person for the use of his cool photo.

Interview with David Saranga, Israel Consulate: A Twitter Press Conference


Israeli Consulate logo In December 2008, the New York Israel Consulate held the first government press conference on Twitter and in doing so public diplomacy took one more step into social media.

The purpose of the 2-hour open conversation in 140 characters was to engage and provide the public with a platform where citizens' questions about the Gaza situation could be addressed directly by @DavidSaranga, Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the consulate General in New York. In addition to the running tweets from the press conference, updates were posted on the Consul's MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

With a few weeks distance behind him, I asked Mr. Saranga if he would look back on the experience and in retrospective share some of the marketing/PR lessons learned. My thanks to him and to the staff of the Department of Media and Public Affairs who kindly responded to my request. A special shout out to Noam.

Note: Diva Marketing is not a political blog but one focused on social media marketing and branding. My questions and Mr. Saranaga's responses reflect that positioning.

The Office of the Consul General in New York serves as the focal point of the Consulate. While it oversees all departments within the Consulate, the Lishka (bureau) primarily functions as the liaison between the State of Israel and the various centers of power and influence that encompass the New York Metro area such as national and local organizations, the offices of public officials and business alliances.

The role of the Consul General is to promote the positive image of Israel in the media and the surrounding communities by keeping them abreast of the most updated information on Israeli prominent personalities and developments.

David_saranga_Israeli Consulate David Saranga, Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the consulate General in New York.

Prior to joining the Consulate in New York, Consul Saranga served as Deputy Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel, and was responsible for contact with the foreign media. He was a Manager of the Direct Marketing Department, Visa-Israel Credit Cards and worked as National Sales Executive at Kidum Ltd. Consul Saranga has been engaged as an academic since 1989, when he worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Hebrew University. Subsequent work has included one year as Director of Studies and Lecturer in Marketing Management at the Open University in Israel.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Using Twitter as a media conference forum was innovative and brave. Why did you choose to go in that direction?

David Saranga: We have been involved in online work for some time, through our blogs (isRraelli and IsraelPolitik) and our presence on MySpace and Facebook.  After reading about Twitter, we felt that the tool held a lot of potential for communicating with people online. 

Firstly, we can “focus” on one person, but many people can tune in as well. This way, even when we are answering one person, other people are still taking part. 

Secondly, Twitter is a site where people are increasingly going to talk, so we wanted to join the conversation where it was happening.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How did you achieve buy-in from the consulate and other stake holders?

David Saranga: The diplomatic staff here has really come to understand the value of web-based content and of social media. We told them how important a presence on Twitter could be, and they were hooked.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What were their main concerns? What were yours?

David Saranga: We were all mainly concerned with how many people would ask questions and whether we would be taken seriously.  When we first joined Twitter and mentioned the “Press Conference” idea, we started hearing opinions that we might not answer so-called “hard” questions.  So we needed to make sure that we answered as many questions as we could, even and especially the “hard” ones. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Where did most of the engagement come from?

David Saranga: While our Twitter following has been quite varied, we seem to have attracted people interested in learning more about the Middle East and people who work in new media, public diplomacy or both. It was quite interesting to see the range of people with whom we have had very rewarding interactions through Twitter and/or as a result of such efforts.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What lessons did you learn from the first Twitter press conference?

David Saranga:

  • Our biggest lesson was the importance of making ourselves available to people through a medium they understand. 

We are aware that this issue raises a lot of emotions, and we wanted to give people the opportunity to talk with us in an unmediated fashion. Many of the questions we received were thoughtful and inquisitive, and we were happy to share our point of view on what can be touchy subjects.  Israeli Consulate Tweeting

It was also important for us that we could expand answers on our blog. While we could give only short answers online (due to constraints imposed by Twitter and by the sheer number of questions*), we did want people to know that we cared about their questions and wanted to give them the full attention they deserved.

*Note: Twitter allows only 140 characters per tweet.

Photo of staff of the Department of Media and Public Affairs tweeting at the press conference.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What was your biggest surprise?

David Saranga: We were really surprised by the amount of interest we generated. We started this whole project figuring we would get a few people to tune in. When our “followers” count began to rise precipitously, we realized we were on to something much larger.

Many more people than we anticipated were interested in having us take part in this conversation. The mainstream media got involved, too. We got coverage in the New York Times, Le Figaro, the Guardian, and other news outlets around the world. We were truly astounded.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What would you do differently next time (will there be a next time)?

David Saranga: We’re still evaluating the lessons of the first time, so we’ll have to evaluate whether we’ll do this again. We all felt this was an extremely positive experience, and we’re grateful for all the attention and ongoing relationships that resulted. 

Our biggest problem was trying to respond to a flood of questions in an organized fashion, so fixing that issue would be a necessary step before organizing another press conference. That said, we’ve really been having an ongoing press conference since late December, as we are active on Twitter. 

The next thing we hope to arrange is a TweetUp (i.e. meeting Twitter followers face-to-face) in the next few weeks to bring our followers together and help them see other facets of Israel with which they may not be so familiar. We’ve thought of a bunch of ideas (music, art, film, etc.) but want to see what our followers are interested in, too.

Toby/Diva Marketing
: What lessons can you pass on to others who are thinking of using Twitter for their press conferences?

David Saranga:The best lesson we can offer is that you should not be afraid to answer the hard questions that come at you.

  • The best thing to do is to be as transparent as possible and just be sincere in your answers.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  To wrap it up … your thoughts on social media ..

David Saranga: It’s clear that social media is not just a passing trend, but rather an effective way to communicate. It is important for us to maximize the capabilities these tools offer and use them to help us in talking to as many people as possible.

Israel Consulate in Social Media



Blogs: Israel Politk

First Israeli Tweet-up in the making!



Motrin: A Case Study In Social Media Marketing - Part 2


Update: 11-18-08; Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing apologizes on the home page of Motrin. This is the follow-up post to one I wrote on Diva Marketing on 11-17-08 on how social media changed the direction of a Fortune 500 company's marketing campaign.


As is always the case in a slide down the slippery slope of social media, there are lessons we can take away from the Mortin Moms Social Media Case Study. I've reached out to Bonnie Jacobs, VP Communications and Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing at McNeil Consumer Healthcare offering Diva Marketing as one platform to tell their story. (Btw .. would not be surprised to see someone from the Morin marketing team making the conference rounds.)

The influence of "just" a few thousand people changed the marketing direction of a Fortune 500 company's multiple channel advertising campaign (McNeil Consumer Health is a division of Johnson and Johnson). Within hours of  social media conversations a website had been taken down and put back up with an apology. Plans were in the works to pull print ads and perhaps other initiatives that were set to launch were halted.

Listening to, what went beyond the sentiments of "just" a few thousand bloggers or tweeters, but perhaps reflected a signification segment of Motrin's target audience, may have saved the company some hefty dollars in terms of ultimate goodwill and stopped the ooze of brand erosion before it could spread further online and off.

The social buzz is that the brand team could have responded faster. Perhaps. But for their actions to a Sunday Social Smackout McNeil Consumer Healthcare gets a gold star from Diva Marketing.

In trying to understand what happened, we don't have a lot to go on .. We don't know what research went on prior to the launch of the campaign. We don't know the infra structure or the communication that most certainly flew from site to site to phone to office meetings. We don't know when Mortin's marketers begin to "listen" in on the tweets and blogs or when they first found out. Nor do we know when the decision was made to send the letter to Amy Gates at  Crunchy Domestic Goddess and why Amy and who else received Kathy Widmer's email.

We can only guess the impact that this had and will continue to have on the human resources at McNeil Consumer Healthcare and their marketing parners as they execute their new strategy. We can assume that it will cost a pretty penny in terms of dollar investment.

We also don't know the end of the story. Or perhaps it is really the beginning of the story. What lessons did the Morin marketing team take away from the Mortin Mom's Sunday Social Smackout? What counsel is their agencies giving? Will they embrace the women and men who Helped them avoid an even bigger blow-up? Will they participate in the social media conversations? Currently Motrin's people are messaging one-sided .. there is no dialogue that I can find.

Morin's social media experience reinforces that social media marketing is a complex, multi-faceted strategy.

  1. It is critical to have strong communication systems in place that integrate muliple departments: marketing, PR, customer service, legal, sales, operations, etc.
  2. It is critical to listen and participate in your customers' online exchanges.
  3. It is critical to be humble.

The end game to this post: There is value in the asset: Mortin Moms. Mortin marketing team .. what will you do with that one?

Sidebar: Thanks to Mark Story for posting the updated Mortin website.