Interview With Alex Brown On "Non Glory" A Video Series



Alex Brown_ 5_15I've often said the social web gives more than it takes.

Meeting people who may be outside of your usual network is one of its best 'gifts.' Alex Brown and I are worlds apart. We met in the "blogosphere" in 1999 when he was managing one of the first and most innovative online communities for Wharton.

Needless to say Alex is a pioneer in digital media. But Alex has another passion .. his love for horses.

He was able to combined his marketing talents and social media skills to build an amazing horse advocay community. It was not unusal for posts to pull in 500, 700, 1000 comments. Unheard of back in the day and even more so today. He's also the author of a brilliant and beautiful book - "Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy."  Alex Brown_book jacket Greatness and Goodness Barbaro and his Legacy

Alex describes himself as -- " I am a horseman, who is also an internet marketing "geek." I have ridden horses all my life, and I have been using the internet for teaching and marketing since 1992." 

Fast forward to 2015. Video is where many see the growth of digital media. When Alex told me about an innovative video project he was launching for a rather controversial topic that once again combined Alex's love of horse and social media I was excited to learn more. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: Your latest project is a video series on YouTube, it seems a bit of a departure from the development of a book. Why did you choose this medium ?

Alex Brown: My goal for this project, Horses: Sports, Culture, and Slaughter, is simply for content consumption, rather than distribution.

I wanted to create some content that would be easy for audiences to find, and then consume. No friction. With a book, your audience has to buy the book, and even after purchase, there is no guarantee that the book is read. I fear that quite a few people who did buy my book have not get read through it in detail.

For this project, I had messages I want to get out there. This made more sense. I also wondered, if I created an online essay, would people read? Would it have the same credibility, sharability, and so forth. I settled on a video series, and YouTube as the platform.

Diva Markeitng, Toby: To go the route of a well made video series may take even more effort than a book. What messages are you trying to convey that are so important to you in this project?

Alex Brown: The horse slaughter issue is very controversial, here in the United States. I think it is an issue that should be resolved, one way or another, in the near term. I believe it exists because most horsemen (gender neutral) and horse lovers really don't understand all the issues related to the subject, and quite honestly many do not want to know.

So I wanted to create a resource that examined all the issues, both for and against horse slaughter.It is comprehensive, basically a brain-dump of everything I know.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Although an important, but controversial topic, one might think that many people would be turned off by the subject. I might even think that most people would just avoid your hard work. Is that a concern?

Alex Brown: That is the biggest problem, for sure. Slaughter is visually dreadful, regardless of animal. I don't watch slaughter videos online. Only animal rights people watch that stuff I think, so really it becomes an echo chamber of the same people talking to each other, rather than getting the message out to broader communites.

My series is "NON GORY" and I make that very clear right at the beginning of the series. It is basically a 55 minute interview of me, discussing at the issues and context surrounding the topic, that is then overlayed with "b roll" of places I have visited etc. that are relevent to the conversation. My dog, Harriet, even plays a cameo roll.

Alex Brown_ Harriet

Diva Marketing, Toby: We like that your pooch Harriet plays a role! Max might want her paw print autograph! Seriously, so you create a great piece of content, that might be uncomfortable for some people to watch. You bring a wealth of experience in social media marketing, the big questions are how to you get the video out in front and what's your distribution strategy?

Alex Brown: I have been able to develop a pretty healthy social  media following over the years. First with the community developed on and then as we followed Barbaro's progress at New Bolton Center.

From there the book helped me further build the community. I now have more than 5k followers on Twitter, 5k friends on Facebook (that's the limit for a personal page) as well as a new Facebook page for my Advocacy work. From this page I was able to purchase a Facebook ad (post boost at $20, which I will probably repeat during subsequent weekends, on the assumption that people have more time to consume content on the weekend). I am also pretty active on LinkedIn (some of that is due to my consulting work in the social media space). Basically I have quite a decent platform to launch content.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Initial distribution, seeding, is important, how have you tried to get the series to spread?

One of my goals was the timing of the launch. I wanted to get it out there during the Triple Crown series. This is important because it is the time of year that horses are on the national conscience. Media are covering our sport. We know when we explore the science behind "viral" content, an important factor is to design content that is part of the current conversation on the internet. 

Even in the video design, I ask at the end of the series for those who "liked" the series to post it on their social platforms. You have to be very deliberate about this stuff. I have also been able to reach out to my network of media connections, to try to help spread the word.

Again, you have to be very deliberate and go after every connection you have. You then need to try to track conversations about the series, in what I call the "free marketing" space. Any comments, you respond. Even negative comments, engagement is very important.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Totally agree. Without the engagement factor you might as well keep content on a website. The series has been out for little more than a week, how has it been received?

Alex Brown: So far, the three videos have received 1,000 views, according to YouTube. I think that is a pretty good start. I have had some media coverage, one of which really did help get the word out.

Now I am continuing to try too engage with media, and now directly with friends on Facebook to watch the series, and then post about it. I think that is important.

I don't just ask people to spread the word, it is KEY that someone watched the series first. That way, the person can talk specifically about the series, as she promotes it. I think that sends a much stronger message. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: What tip would you give people who want to step in to video? Bringing it back to digital marketing, are the results really worth the effort?

Alex Brown: Step in, experiment, fail forward (learn from your experiences) I am still experimenting with the medium, and am working on a couple of other projects for other clients, and the format is very different, short two minute clips focused on singular key ideas.

Finally, SEO is critical. What are the important keywords, and how are they included in the title, description and so forth.

And be passionate, because passion can overcome challenges.

Diva Marketing, Toby: I love that last thought!

Alex Brown: Yes, very critical. I have two passions, horses and the internet, my worlds collide! Horses - pre industrial revolution, technology -  post industrial revolution. Now we are trying to use the technology to save the horse.

Diva Marketing, Toby: As is our tradition, on Diva Marketing, we're tossing the virtual mic to you Alex. Wrap it anyway you'd like.

Alex Brown: Thanks Toby. Early reaction to the series has been positive; I just really hope it helps move the conversation from one among animal rights groups, to one among horsemen and horse lovers throughout the United States.

Connect with Alex: Website |Alex Brown Racing | Non Glory Video |Twitter |Linkedin

Diva Marketing Talks to Alex Brown! Interview about the story behind Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy| Podcast with Beth Kanter "Tell The Stories Of Causes Through Social Media

The Four Ts of Content Consistency


What is your best advice for a local small business that wants to leverage the web for marketing purposes? was the question my friend Paul Chaney, Editor of Web Marketing Today asked me and a few other "in the know" marketers. 

Thought you might enjoy my response!  

Great question Paul and one that many people will take from the strategy point of view: know your goals, how to measure them and your audience.  Let’s look at this from a slightly different point of view: content consistency.  

I look at content consistency from two perspectives. The first direction includes tonality, topics, and touch. The second direction is time. 

Tonality is the voice you’ll use through out the web from  your website and to social media channels For example, if you’re managing a rap group the tonality will be different than if you’re selling financial products to corporate accounts.

Topics quite simply are what you want chat about to your digital community. However, the format might be a blog, video, podcast or photos/images. The most successful topics are those that your audience cares about .. I call that ‘now I care content.’  Content that is so compelling it is shared.

Touch is how you’ll engage with your audience. It’s often neglected but can be the most powerful piece of your web marketing. What will you say when someone shares your content on Twitter or drops a comment on Facebook?

Time is well … time! Especially for small business owners, who wear multiple hats,  we have to come to terms that we can’t do it all or all at once. Identify which web marketing tactic will give you the most return for time spent. That may not always be direct revenue but branding or extended reach.  As an example, for a B2B service or product it may be diving deeply into LinkedIn. For a food media company it may be Twitter that best drives audience for you.

Take into consideration that all four Ts must work in harmony which leads us full circle to your goals, how to measure and your audience.

Note: For Food Businesses including chefs, cookbook authors, FoodTV media companies & contestants, foodpreneurs check out Diva Foodies where we're serving up social to the food industry plus offering delicious content!

Interview With N.E.D. - The Rock N Roll Docs


Ned logoDoctors heal patients in many ways ... some even through rock n roll!

N.E.D., an innovative rock band of 6 U.S. cancer surgeons, tours the country using their music to create awareness about women's cancer issues. 

As Doc/Musician Nimesh Nagarsheth told us in this Diva Marketing interview, "Through our music we are able to reach thousands at a time getting our our awareness and education messages and quite honestly have a great time doing it."

N.E.D's  heartwarming story inspired award winning producers from Spark Media to become N.E.D. groupies (of sorts) following the band for over three years. The end result was an award winning film -  N.E.D. The Movie.

There is more. Today on World Cancer Day Regal Cinemas is showing the film (schedule). Awesome and amazing. Hope you are as inspired as I was by this story. Please enjoy this inteview with the producers and Rockin' Doc Nimesh. 

About N.E.D (No Evidence of Disease): A rock band made up of 6 women’s cancer surgeons with the goal of raising public awareness of gynecologic cancers through music and the arts.

 Our Story Tellers

Nimesh Nagarsheth, M.D. / Drums, PercussionDr. Nagarsheth is on faculty at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey.

Aladin Concert Nagarsheth

“You can learn a lot from patients with cancer. And they see the world in a way that’s much different from the way that someone else sees the world.”

Andrea Kalin, Director, Executive Producer: Andrea Kalin is an Emmy Award Winning filmmaker and founder of Spark Media, a production company dedicated to producing films with a social conscience. 

  Andrea Kalin

Karen Simon, Producer: Producer Karen Simon has worked on several Spark Media documentaries, including Prince Among SlavesSoul of a People: Writing America’s Story, and Partners of the Heart.  She also led the innovative national educational outreach effort for Partners of the Heart.

Karen Simon

Diva Marketing/Toby: I get the overall mission of N.E.D. is to increase awareness of GYN cancers and that music is a universal experience ... but why a “Doc Rock Band?”

N.E.D./Nimesh:  Music and the arts are extremely effective forms of communication. While our day jobs as a women’s cancer surgeons are extremely rewarding – we are most often working and making a difference with one patient at a time. Through our music we are able to reach thousands at a time getting our our awareness and education messages and quite honestly have a great time doing it.

Creating and performing original music is extremely therapeutic for us. I truly believe our music is special because our unique background and experiences as cancer surgeons is reflected in the music we create.

Diva Marketing/Toby: From the world of music who inspires you Doc Nimesh?  

N.E.D./Nimesh: My strongest influences are RUSH, Foo Fighters and U2. However, I truly appreciate many kinds of music and often visit the Jazz clubs in NYC as well as other music venues.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Dr. Nimesh, you do have an eclecitc music tastes! Let’s talk a little more about the band. Since the ‘doc-musicians’ are located across the U.S. How often does the group get together for practice?

N.E.D./Nimesh: There have been some years where we have 7 or more shows in a year. When this happens we usually practice one or two days before each performance. Often we will review our old songs and add one or two new songs we have been working on during the rehearsals. Everyone in the band prepares incredibly well for the rehearsals so we often are able to be extremely productive even at short rehearsals. When working on a new album, we will typically schedule a weekend rehearsal with our producer for preparation for recording in the studio.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Are any of the practices held virtually e.g. on Skype of Google+?

N.E.D./ Nimesh: Yes, many times 2 or 3 of the band members may work on parts vis Skype.


The N.E.D. - Rocking Doc Band!

John Boggess - Guitar, Lead Vocals
Joanie Mayer Hope - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Nimesh Nagarsheth - Drums & Percussion
William [Rusty] Robinson - Bass Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
John Soper [Sope] - Guitar, Mandolin
Will Winter - Lead Guitar

 Graphic credit:

Diva Marketing/Toby: Were any of the docs in garage bands during their high school or med school days?

N.E.D./Nimesh: I have been in bands ever since junior high school. One of my earliest  rock bands was Three For The Road. I joined and /or formed bands when in college, medical school, residency and fellowship and even now as an attending physician.

My local NYC band is Come Together (a Beatles and Rolling Stones cover band that has played at venues thoughout NYC and even twice at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Love that you're helping keep 'clasical rock' alive. Is N.E.D's music original and if so who are the composers?

N.E.D/ Nimesh: N.E.D. writes, records and performs original music. Everyone in the band has written and contributed to the song writing but for the latest recording John Boggess, Will Winter, and Joanie Hope have taken the lead on the writing.


Link to music samples

Diva Marketing/Toby: Is the music part of a fund raising effort? If so where can we buy/download the tunes?

N.E.D/Nimesh: Yes, the music is large part of our fundraising efforts. Typically, we make the most impact in fundraising at our live performances through tickets sales, corporate donations, and merchandise sales. Our music is available on itunes and

Diva Marketing/Toby: The idea of a documentary about N.E.D. is intriguing.  Who came up with the concept and how did you make the film compelling for the audience?

No Evidence of Disease (Trailer) from Spark Media on Vimeo.

N.E.D/ Karen & Andrea: Spark Media learned about the band from it’s co-creator, a fellow GYN oncologist who brought the rock doctors together.  They happened to be playing at an awareness raising event in Washington, DC, where Spark is based, so we got them together to talk for several hours around a table, and realized we had 6 fascinating, Type A+ people out to change the world in ways big and small.  

We heard their passion for their patients, and their commitment to music as a powerful tool not only to raise awareness but also to heal. Add to that their personal commitment to reach their patients beyond the O.R. and we knew we had a story.  We started following them around with cameras that same day, and didn’t stop for 3 ½ years.  

Stylistic and engrossing, our film unfolds in harmony with the music of the band whose songs set the tone for each scene. Lyrics resonate with universal themes, that are cyclical, revolving around living and dying, body and soul. Our cameras reveal how cancer can bring out the worst and best in people, rip lifelong friends apart, but also pull families together closer than ever.

  • This isn’t a linear story, but a sequence of many stories, and emotive moments thematically cut with honesty and compassion and with a POV that’s intimate and relatively unfiltered.

The pace and tone of the film reflects the immediate, volatile, intensity of the cancer experience—the music is a release valve in their complex lives and a way of healing for all they cannot control.  Story and music combine for maximum impact in ways that importantly serve our cause as we engage, dispel fears and invite viewers into a deep, purposeful engagement with a women’s health issue shrouded in unnecessary shame.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Since Diva Marketing is about digital and social media marketing let’s explore those avenues.  When did N.E.D. realize that it had turned into a ‘brand?’

N.E.D./Andrea & Karen:

  • Actually, when you hear audiences chant: “N.E.D.  N.E.D.  N.E.D….” we realized it was the audience who branded the band and the film.  

  Race to the end posters

N.E.D. -- such a powerful and positive concept: No Evidence of Disease.  We put a face to that concept, a movement to that concept, music to that concept, and the branding of the human experience began. We chose an impactful photo of Jennie McGihon who had lost her hair from her chemo treatments, but despite that, you could feel her strength and poise, still appreciate her beauty that radiates from inside out.  She, to us, represented all women going through raw, difficult time.   

Digital and social media have been powerful tools for us.  We have captured over 500 hours of footage, and a large swath of that footage did not end up in the feature length cut. So, we have produced dozens of short pieces that are self-contained and powerful in and of themselves.  We put those on social media and YouTube, and some of them will be on V.O.D. along with the film.

We use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and now Thunderclap, Google Hangouts and Reddit AMA in our outreach and audience engagement, extending our reach to individuals and groups all over the country and the world. Arming women with knowledge, the film and its emerging awareness campaign help to preserve dignity, and to channel discussions about women’s health needs into the public sphere.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Sounds like you certainly have the digital conversations covered! Who does N.E.D. hope to reach with its music and as we say in marketing, what are its goals?

N.E.D./Nimesh: First and foremost we want to reach our patients and their loved ones. We believe that music has some incredible healing qualities and our patients have told us time and time again that they feel this as well. Beyond our patients our music is really for everyone. We believe everyone has been touched (either directly or indirectly) by cancer and that our music can equally touch people.


Twitter bannerGraphic: Twitter Cover

Diva Marketing/Toby: How important is using social media/digital marketing in reaching those goals?

N.E.D./Andrea & Karen:  Social and digital media outreach was crucial in helping our collective groups crank up the volume, and sustain a noisy, national movement to break through walls of silence.

Soulfully and cathartically dissolving taboos through feisty storytelling, combined with intricately planned and networked multilevel longitudinal engagement featuring live music performances, educational modules to convey What Every Woman Should Know, hip and diverse outreach using humor, and targeting at risk communities such as African Americans, Latina and Ashkenazi Jewish women through any all platforms where these groups convene.

We were screen and platform agnostic.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What are the digital/social media tactics that have been most successful in terms of creating awareness for the film, as well as, the band?

N.E.D./Andrea & Karen: Both the film and the Band have tried to draw in a wide, diverse audience and we understood from the outset that this would mean taking a shrewd approach to a difficult topic.

From the filmmakers perspective, we concentrated as much of our energies into the art of telling the story as we did in facilitating cutting-edge advocacy that would assure the film go beyond the screen to reach out to women, families, and the medical community on a grassroots level.

  • We believe weren’t just producing a film but igniting a movement. 

From our early days in development, we ran a Kickstarter Campaign, online Auctions with Charity Buzz, Give back campaigns with Facebook, Giving Tuesday campaigns on Twitter, Work-in-progress screenings in theaters, stylized merchandise and hundreds of thousands of uncountable hours of grit and passion to network and turn any opportunity on any platform… even in the most unlikely situations into an opportunity.

  • There’s no magic bullet, nor platform or tactic that we can single out that was overwhelmingly successful, more so it was our openness to try anything and perseverance to believe in the long tail of success.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons have you learned from incorporating social media in your communication strategy that you can share with us?

 N.E.D/Brad Wilke of SmartHouse Creative: Though social media doesn't offer a magic elixir for all of your marketing challenges, it does provide a robust infrastructure within which you can integrate each and every piece of your go-to-market strategy. By keeping social media top of mind from planning through execution, you vastly increase the probability of "happy accidents," such as celebrity RTs, incidental media outlet coverage, and other seemingly random media hits.

For instance, with N.E.D., we were able to utilize social network analysis tools (such as NodeXL) to determine our subject matter influencers around the country, and, therefore, better target our conversations and content. Social media is not only a resource multiplier, but an essential component of any serious product release strategy, including independent films, music, and related creative projects.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Even though the docs in N.E.D. are teaching us about GYN cancer, we all learn from our experiences. What has being a member of the band taught each of the docs?

Twitter PennSocialIDC

N.E.D/ Nimesh:

  • I have learned to be a better listener when taking care of my patients. I have also learned how to cope with the stresses of being a doctor through my creative role in the band.

Diva Marketing/Toby: As is our tradition, we’re passing the mic back to the extraordinary docs in the band. Please wrap the interview anyway you’d like.  

N.E.D/Nimesh: I would like thank all of our amazing fans and supporters throughout the years that have helped us make N.E.D. an incredible success!

Connect with N.E.D. Twitter | Facebook | N.E.D Website |N.E.D. The Movie

Some how it seems appropriate to link to Jefferson Starship's "We Build This City On Rock And Roll."  Wouldn't it be fabulous to build a cure for cancer with the proceeds from rock n roll?!


An Interview with Advocate Health Care: Case Study #StoriesOfTheGirls


Breast cancer logoBreast cancer still impacts too many lives. Advocate Health Care launched a unique program to bring attention to breast cancer prevention, treatment and support.

Understanding that women gain strength and the comfort from the stories they share and are shared they used digital and social networks to tell the  #StoriesoftheGirls . Through the following interview Christine Piester, VP Marketing and Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing and Communication graciously provided us with a case study of the program.

This post is dedicated to my sister Susan who I know is dancing in the stars.  Susan atl

About Advocate Health Care. Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest health care providers in the Midwest.

Advocate operates more than 250 sites of care, including 12 hospitals that encompass 11 acute care hospitals, the state’s largest integrated children’s network, five Level I trauma centers (the state’s highest designation in trauma care), three Level II trauma centers, one of the area’s largest home health care companies and one of the region’s largest medical groups. As a not-for-profit, mission-based health system affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ, Advocate contributed $661 million in charitable care and services to communities across Chicagoland and Central Illinois in 2013.

 Our Story Tellers

Advocate Healthcare_ Christine Priester, VP, MarketingChristine Priester, VP, Marketing





Advocate Healthcare _Christine Bon

Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing & Communication




 Diva Marketing/Toby: How did the idea of #StoriesoftheGirls evolve? Was it a difficult sell to management including the hospital administrator?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Obviously, the idea of #StoriesOfTheGirls remains a very edgy concept. Anytime you introduce a double entendre (“the girls”) as part of your campaign you take a risk. However, the Chicago health care market is noisy and we had to figure out a way to break through the clutter. Not only did we have to sell this concept to the health system leadership, we had to convince the 12 hospital presidents that this was the right idea, at the right time and with the right audience.

In order to gain the necessary buy-in, our CMO hosted numerous sessions where she outlined the campaign and addressed any questions and concerns. The vast majority of our internal leadership were overwhelmingly supportive, there were a few unsure outliers, but they soon became believers once they saw the results.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was success for the campaign and how was it measured?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonWhile we wanted women to join the conversation at, we really wanted women to take advantage of our patient added-value proposition.

We were the first in the market to offer same-day, no-referral mammograms.  This breaks down access barriers and allows women to schedule their mammogram on their terms, when they have some extra time as life might be too busy to schedule this test a few weeks out, months out, but there is no time like the present. 

  • So, that said we measured the growth in mammogram appointments (up over 10% across the system), web site visits, and engagement in the conversation (social media).

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The micro site is rich with content about breast healthcare. For many visitors to the site, I’m guessing the most compelling content is the video stories told by the breast cancer survivors and physicians.  How were these women indentified? What were their reasons to publically participate in #StoriesoftheGirls? 

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonAdvocate Health Care treats more breast cancer patients than anyone else in Illinois, and more of our patients become survivors than any other system.  Through our over 30 mammogram locations across the system, we were able to tap into our internal resources to identify patients with compelling stories that were willing to participate in the campaign.

And, we had, and continue to have no problems with patients wanting to tell their story. All of our survivors say if telling their story can just save one woman’s life it was worth it. They also appreciated the real tone and voice of the campaign.

  • They have all grown tired of the traditionally depressing look at this disease and wanted to show that women’s relationships with “the girls” is much more than a cancer diagnosis.

This year we have some wonderful new videos that include not only survivors, an update on one of last year’s featured patients, but patients currently going through treatment, Sue even shaved her head on the video as her hair was falling out – emotional stuff!

 Diva Marketing/Toby: I would love to be able to chat with these amazing people. Did you explore incorporating real-time conversations through social networks, perhaps a Tweet Chat or a G+ Hangout?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Glad you asked this question. New in the 2014 Stories of the Girls campaign is a message board prominently on the microsite. We knew that we had to take this campaign to the next level in terms of the conversation so this is an exciting element this year (just launched on 9-15-14). Here, you can chat with survivors, you can talk with other families and their friends going through this journey with a loved one, you can ask our doctors questions, and you can simply ask about other breast health issues from puberty and first bras, to breastfeeding, boob jobs, and changes during menopause. Anything goes! We’d be happy to put you in touch with any of our featured survivors, check out their amazing stories through these videos.

Advocate Health Care theta theta girls

theta theta girls video

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The most exciting social tactic I saw was a #StoriesoftheGirls Instragram contest. Would you explain the concept for the Diva community?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThe #StoriesOfTheGirls contest was another extender of the conversation. We wanted women to share their inspiring photos, but also just women in general living healthy lives. Women were encouraged to share their photos and in turn were entered to win a gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago. Since we had just launched our Instagram account the month prior, this was a great way for us to gain some new followers and boost engagement.

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

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThrough the contest, we uncovered some very inspiring stories and one that we are now featuring in this year’s campaign: Kia. We also saw a side of our own associates (employees) who shared their breast cancer journey through photos as well. We were excited to see how quickly we gained new followers who were interested in our content and still engage with us on the social platform.

 Diva Marketing/Toby: In addition to Instagram what other social media tactics were included? Which one was your favorite and why?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonIn addition to Instagram, we also used Facebook as a social platform to drive awareness of breast cancer by creating a daily calendar of trivia questions about breast health. There was a new question posted each day. Once the daily question was answered you were automatically entered to win a handmade breast cancer awareness crystal bracelet. You were able to enter a total of 31 times for a chance to win the grand prize of gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago.

We also used Facebook as a platform to share all of our patient’s incredible stories, and also to promote our Instagram contest. Both of our social promotions were well received and we got some great submissions and are continuing to engage through new social promotions with the campaign this year as well and we are seeing even greater results!

Diva Marketing/Toby: How are consumer generated stories/photos being used to extend awareness of #StoriesoftheGirls and  breast cancer health?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonOur videos and patient stories have been picked up by many local media outlets as further promotion. Our patients also blog and are the subject of many stories on our brand journalism site  View some of them here.

We also have a partnership with the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, and Bears and we are able to leverage those relationships to have breast cancer awareness events where are patients are honorary captains, sing the 7th inning stretch, and more! It’s a year-long commitment to keep breast cancer awareness at the forefront, not just during October.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The #StoriesoftheGirls campaign kicked off October 2013 to support Breast Awareness Month and appears to be continuing into the summer of 2014 and beyond. As one might say in the theatre, what makes this a long-running show?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon

  • This campaign is authentic and real and that’s what gives it staying power. 

Act 2 of the show is in market now and we couldn’t be more excited. An element of this campaign remains in market year-round, however.  We want to make sure we’re promoting early detection of breast cancer through mammography 365 days a year. And, we want to make it easy for women to get their mammogram and new this year they can find out their results in less than 24 hours – talk about reducing worry that often times accompanies the wait on this test.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons did you learn and can pass along to others in healthcare that maybe considering creating digital/social campaigns?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonTake a risk, it’s worth it!

Content is critical.

Don’t tell your consumers about new equipment, this or that accreditation, they don’t care. 

Make your campaign about them, not about you.

Speak to your audience how people have conversations in their real life and reach out to them how they like to receive the message (social media, email, direct mail), everyone has a preference, learn it!

  • And, amazingly, you do this, they will talk back to you, and then you have a two-way, engaged consumer conversation and you create brand loyalty.

Toss of a pink boa to Sarah Scroggins for her help in coordinating this interview.  Advocate Health Care _ Sara Scroggins

Beyond The Ink Smudge To Digital Relevancy


Edgerton reporter"Always in motion is the future”– Yoda 

She was the daughter. That meant she was a second generation newspaper publisher.

Diane Everson, publisher of The Edgerton Reporter in Edgerton, WI wasn’t the only one whose newspaper spanned generations at the 2014 Inland Press Mobile and Social Solutions Conference last month.

In the room, where I had the pleasure of talking about social media in newspapers, were people who had a passion for their papers and their industry.

As I quickly learned, running a weekly or small community newspaper is not unlike owning a small business. Except ... whatever you do is always front and center in the town you serve.

Like many small business owners, nonprofits and yes, larger brands, publishers struggle with how to critically and strategically enter the 21st century digital and social content world. Except ... they face an interesting dilemma when it comes to online content. As do radio and TV.

Actually, digital content strategy is a challenge facing any company whose ‘product’ is information. In the Interweb and social media, where free content is expected there is a haunting question.

  • How much do you ‘give away’ and what do you hold as a revenue stream? 

Even before you can answer that question there are foundational aspects of social media that must be in place. I built the deck to, as they say in the foodie world, deconstruct the elements.

  • Each element in a digital/social media plan must beautifully stand alone before it can be (re)constructed or as marketers might say integrated.

We looked at social through the lens of the brand, journalists and advertisers. I led the group through an exercise that I called “What is different?” We reviewed four media websites: newspaper, TV, radio and online publisher. Our conclusion was the content was so similar we couldn’t identify the media type and it didn't matter which site we were on to just get information. 

Lesson learned: Online content of media companies appears to be all-the-same. 

Question: How can the strengths of the newspaper industry at-large and your specific newspaper be used to created “Now I care content or stories” that are so unique and audience-relevant your community wants to socially share?

We looked at how newspapers, as a brand, engages with their communities. We discoved - not so much. Traditional culture of the media is to identify and tell the stories they feel are most important.

Social media takes radio, TV and newspapers into a far different and often uncomfortable world. It shouldn't be a big surprise to find many, especially smaller newspapers, challenged in how to balance those worlds. 

Lesson learned: Social Media is used as a content distribution channel not as a ‘community communication channel.’ Newspaper publishers were reluctant to step out and ‘talk’ with their readers .. people-to-people.

Question: How can the brand step out from the behind the logo and talk to their readers online -- as they do offline at events and networking meetings?

In 1884, the Boston Globe's Confidential Chat was building community among women, and a few dudes in the greater Boston area. So I say ... go even further back to your roots newspaper peeps and learn from yourself! 

Confidential Chat Boston Globe

Sidebar: This a real clip that I found in my mom's recipe box. She saved it for many years so I assume it must have held meaning for her. How long does your content 'stay around?'  Or is it the digital equivalent of newspaper used to wrapped fish and chips? 

Newspaper fish and chips

We looked at journalists and their special challenges in producing social content and community engagement. We saw engagement but on a closer review it was frequently among their peers not with their community.

Lessons learned: Passion about the topic is important to sustain long-term participation on the social web. Social media writing especially, short tweets, can be a challenge of long-form story training.

Questions: How can journalists sustain a social conversation over time while holding true to the values of their newspapers and their personal brands? How can opinion tweets and posts be included .. or can they?

And there was more so I'm happy to shaing the deck with you. There are several worksheets that might be helpful as you build out systems and process for your plan. Some will help to align with what social media means to your company and how it can support overarching goals.

Hat tip to Mr. Ray Marcano, CanisDigital, for recommeding me for this exciting gig; and Patty Slusher, Inland Press for her support. 

Read More: Amy Gahran, How Early Newspaper to Web Technology Crippled News Industry's Thinking 

Now that we've gone through some deconstructing the next question is -- How will you construct your social media world? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.

Second Screen TV - Research


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 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


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!

7 Tips To Rockin' Facebook Engagement A La Frank Somerville


Frank Somerville _Facebook 7_3_14During my time heading social media at Cox Media Group I had the pleasure of working with some great folks.

There was a special journalist, from California Bay Area KTVU, that was an inspiration when it came to understanding the importance of social media, how to build community and the critical nature of engagement ... especially on Facebook.

Frank Somerville, main news anchor, topped 100K Facebook Likes; in fact as of this moment he has 120,059k Likes. As anyone who has built out a social network page can tell you this is no small feat.

However, as we also have come to understand, Likes without engagement are simply a bunch of numbers. Left alone Likes do not necessarily lead to significant shares, community or brand loyalty. Which makes the extent of engagement Frank has nurtured even more impressive.

How did he do it? Why did he do it? And how does it relate back to the brand? Frank tells his back-story in this video interview.

Frank's 7 Tips To Succeed In Social Media

1. Be Authentic

2. Be Honest

3. Let people see who you are behind the camera… or behind your 'business face'

4. Respond to people

5. Don't follow all the rules...take a risk. This is new stuff don’t be afraid to experiment.

6. Try to find your own way and what works for you.

7. If people like you it will carry over to your brand creating a win-win-win (for your customer, the brand and you).

And I'll add one more ... have fun! It is quite evident that Frank is having a great time. The energy carries over to his relationship with the community and back again to their involvement with Frank and with each other.

Any brand, media or not, can benefit from Frank's insights. The video is worth a click and a watch.

Frank - congrats! Well deserved.

Social Share Shopping Dance


Mobile shopping

The interweb and smart phones forever changed how we buy, what we buy, where we buy .. and who we take along on our shopping adventures. 

What makes social shopping work is something so simple but at the same time it’s often a challenge for brands to achieve. The Social Share. Sounds like the next viral video dance!

One of the new ways to shop is taking your virtual entourage along. Your friends can be part of your shopping experience for seconds, a la SnapChat, or participate in in-depth discussions in Google Hangouts.

For some folks social shopping is an amazing adventure. Still don't know if it's really worth the extra money for the souped up camera?  You have a way to bring friends, as the marketers might say, into the purchase decision. Girlfriend, are you in a quandary about which cute dress to buy? Through a few Snapchat photos of you modeling the potential new dresses you might justify buying them all! 

If after their real time feedback you still can’t decide you can always create a Pinterest board, post on Instagram or start a Facebook or Twitter conversation. Upside:  lots of opinions. Downside:  lots of opinions.

If you can’t find the right ‘expert’ feedback from your family and friends, well there’s always the kindness of strangers. Odd as it seems, review sites like Yelp ( influence purchase from the very important, your 27th pair of black shoes to the mundane, which dryer to buy. And then there is something in the middle .. Jelly a mobile app "knowledge search" from Twitter Founder Biz Stone. (It's my new favorite time suck.) Jelly combines your social network and your friends' network. 

Retails both online and offline are launching mobile apps to complement our digial shopping experiences. Reseach from Internet Retailer indicates that in 2013 consumers on both major mobile platforms increasingly relied on mobile apps as part of the shopping process.

For others on-going opinions and reviews are a confusing maze of babble often resulting in a digital nightmare. Add to the mix input from brands and you have an over abundance of expert opinions.As Jimmy Fallon might say, “ew!”

Online and offline worlds collide in creating an important 360’ customer experience. For brands that have not built a digital community of people who will pass along reviews, photos, videos to their friends, social media is just another distribution channel. I ask you... why bother to invest resources in something that your website should accomplish?

Social Savvy Tips For Brands: It’s critical to monitor what customers and prospects are saying about their entire shopping experience from digital, in-store and of course the product. Often overlooked are hidden insights in comments on your own social platforms.

  • With those insights gained take action beginning with thanking your customers for sharing.

Social Savvy Tip For Customers: Before you take out the plastic to make a major purchase read reviews from multiple sources. A Twitter search on a brand may turn up some interesting insights too.  So many opinions, so little time.

How do you do The Social Shopping Share Dance?

How To Create "Now I Care Stories"


Those who tell the stories well shape our lives.

Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart
Often stories are as much about the people who tell them as they are of the story itself. In 2014, websites, blogs, social networks influence how we tell and pass along our stories. We might even add videos, podcasts, an infographic or graphic or two. 

"Those who tell the stories also hold the power." "Those who tell the stories rule society." "Those who tell the stories rule the world."

These three quotes have been attributed to both Plato and the Hopi American Indians. Quite obviously they were worlds apart separated by thousands of miles not to mention centuries of time. The universal truth remains dead right .. The influence of the story teller can be life changing. 

For the past 18-months I have worked among and with professionally trained story tellers .. call them journalists or reporters. It's their job to identify, research and tell the most significant stories of our society. Until just a few years ago their stories were the only way most of us learned what was happening in our world. Then the digital world entered and changed the game .. for them and for us.

In the digital world traditional media (radio, TV, print publications) and brands share several common challenges. One of the most significant is the expectations of our audiences/communities for on-going content for our websites, blogs, social networks.

No longer can traditional media tell stories only on the 6p news with perhaps a repeat at 11p. To remain competitive content must feed hungry digital assets (websites, blogs, social networks) multiple times a day. That's a whole bunch of new stories .. or stories with new perspectives.

Oh and those stories must satisfy a digital audience whose interests and attention span may differ from what they want from the legacy product. 

The challenges of our traditional media friends are not so different from what a B2B, B2C or nonprofit brand encounters. Brands must also provide the content or stories that are relevant to their audiences/community. In the digitall/social media world the prize is the same .. The Share. If we don't create for the share and interaction social media is just another distribution channel. And I ask you .. why bother?

  • What I learned from my media friends is that stories are everywhere. The secret is to look behind the ordinary.

In one morning pitch meeting (where reporters present ideas for stories they want to cover) that I attended a smart news director said something that shifted my thoughts about telling stores in social media. A reporter was pitching Matt Parcell, WFTV. Matt listened as she presented a series of different angles of a story. No. Nope. That's not it.

  • Finally he nodded and said, "That's it. Now I care." 

The digital/social media world levels the playing field and we find ourselves completing with both brands and media for the golden moments of customer attention. Sometimes those are the same stories.

Social media has been around long enough to know that the stories you post can't be self serving. We've learned to find content that adds value for our audience/customers/community. However, value-add stories have become the price of doing business. 

What content gets the most shares and engagement? Stories that go a step beyond value-add to "Now I Care." Think about it. 

7 Tips To Create Now I Care Stories

1. Know your digital audience's profile .. it may be different then what you think opening doors to a new segment

2. Understand how to use each digital medium to its advantage -- what works on Twitter may not be the same for Facebook. Creating original video is a world unto itself. 

3. Begin your content creation with the question -- "Will my customer care?"

4. Track and analyze the social shares and interactions -- Identify a few tools that track social media analytics. Social Media Today Post by Pam Dyer offers 50 tools!

5. Review what your competiton is doing -- Look at the posts that receive the most shares and interaction

6. Test new ideas -- social media/digital brand content/stories are still a new frontier 

7. Images and video -- include graphics and video we're living in a visual world

Toss of a pink boa to BBF Geoff Livingston and the XPotomac peeps, Shonali Burke, Patrick Ashamalla who kindly invited me to present at their fantastic event a few weeks agon. This post is based on my talk. 

Max is reading Sybil Stershic's book Share of Mind Share of Heart.

Toby XP _1 (2)

Seems appropriate to end this with what veteran news camera man and uber cool dude, Jim Long said at XPotomac - "Tell me a story .. make me feel something." B2B marketers - no excuses you can do it too!

Broadcast and Print Media Adoption of Digital  xPotomax 2014 / Video