Why I Write - Blog Hop "Old Fashion" Meme

08/04/2014

Notebook coffeeWhen BBF Yvonne DiVita, author/founder of Lipsticking and BlogPaws, asked me to play along on an 'old fashion' blog meme or blog hop,  I immediately said yes.

Blog memes were popular before blogs were social media. So this post is not only fun but a bit nostalgia

I've always wanted to be a "Writer." However, I never really knew I was until I started Diva Marketing. Funny because I wrote all the time. I've always had/and have a little note book with me to jot ideas, impressions, thoughts. I write in coffee shops, on planes, on trains, in parks, in a car. I write most everywhere. With my little note books I am never alone.

Why do I write .. to tell stories; you might have noticed that most of the posts on diva marketing wrap around a story. 

Why do I write .. to clear my thoughts; writing is a way to capture ideas that sometimes seem allusive.

Why do I write .. to share and to teach; writing provides a tangible way to help others learn.

Why do I write .. because I have to.

Why do I write .. to play with words; so many choices to make when you write; it's fun to paint with the rainbow of words.

Why do I write .. this may sound odd but I write to read what I wrote. 

Why do I write? Perhaps the next question is what do I want to write next?

Part of a meme is to tap a few friends who will take the concept and put their own spin on it. I am excited that three of my favorite bloggers will be joining the meme parade. Please meet ...

Paul Chaney - Paul and I share a special bond. You see, Paul was the first 'real blogger' I met offline. You always hold a special spot in your heart for your first. His four (yes count them 4!) books on blogs and social media are examples of his love of writing and teaching. He has a special gift of taking complex topics and making them understandable .. and fun. Oh and he's an awesome piano player! Drop by to read Paul's post on 8/25.  Blog  Twitter 

Nettie Reynolds - Nettie once said to me that if you can't laugh with a person, question if that person should be in your life. Nettie not only makes me laugh but she makes me smile. Nettie's diverse career runs from working with authors & creatives to create digital awareness and even performing stand up comedy and she's a playwright. Drop by to read Nettie's post on 8/18 Blog Twitter 

Des Walsh - I often say, blogs/social media give back more than they take. It's unlikely that my path would have cross with this wise and smart man from Australia without the benefit of the digital world and blogs. Although Des is based on the other side of my world, through Skype, G+ Hangouts and social media his coaching, LinkIn mentoring and social media business has no geographical boundaries. Drop by to read Des' post on 8/11. Blog Twitter

Toss of a pink boa or perhaps I should say, pink notebook, to Susan Foster for starting this blog hop. 

Notebooks

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

07/28/2014

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

Well .. not really .. but sort of. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

1. Be responsive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Tips To Rockin' Facebook Engagement A La Frank Somerville

07/03/2014

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

05/08/2014

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 (www.yelp.com) 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?

Social Media - Courageous Miracles

12/25/2013

Miracle on 34th street"We'll be known as the helpful store. The friendly store. The store with a heart. The store that places public service ahead of profit. The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before."

Nope, it's not a new innovative social network strategy (that would be a miracle of miracles!). In the classic film, Miracle On 34th Street, Mr. Macy took chance on a different way to conduct business.

Customers would not be coerced into buying what they did not want; however, the real courage was if another store had a better or less expensive product Macy's would refer customers there. 

Fast forward 66 years. It is now 2013, and as we close out this year, we face similar challenges of how to provide value for our customers. Technology can be the gift that opens the new digital door to an exciting way to build relationships with customers .. if we can be as couragous as Mr. Macy.

Pull off the pretty red bow and you'll find social networks with funny names like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. It's a world where to succeed we have to go beyond a one-off sale to opportunities where three entities: company, employee and customer create the brand experience together. That takes courage. 

The miracle of social media is its impact reaches beyond just one customer. Digital relationships with the people who are the heart of your brand, both customers and employees, can set off a unique chain reactions.

My favorite act of couragous miracle making this season is from the Canadian airline Westjet that surprised passengers with presents that they wanted (not swag from the airline). Video is well done and worth a watch.  

  • Continuous listening -> learning -> understanding -> results in trust ->  leads to loyalty -> leads to the cash register bells ringing. And every time a cash register bell rings a marketer gets a bonus or gets to keep her job (!) .. oops wrong film.

Corner grocery store digital relationships that are build not only with you and your customers, but among your customers and your employees could never have been imagined when Kris Kringle entered Macy's Santa Land in 1947. However, even as we approach 2014, for many organizations open conversations still seem like a Miracle on (insert organization name here) or like the ghost of Xmas future (oops wrong movie again.)

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible... consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

As we begin 2014, technology developments spin even faster taking digital business into areas that were impossible in '47 or '57 or even '2013.

Imagine a digital destination where you can include your review of the product, service or customer care that influences your or your friends' buying decisions.

Imagine a digital destination where you can talk to a brand employee who doesn't respond with a scripted answer.

Imagine a digital destination that allows for product and service customization.

Imagine a digital destination where you can start a conversation with a real person about what matters to you regarding a product or service.

Imagine a digital destination where you can actually help change the direction of a brand before it's even launched.

Imagine multiple digital devices from mobile to tablet and computer to wearable. How will you create unique content for all that is relevant? How will you respond on mulitple channels?

Imagine a digital destination where you can chat with people about their experiences and learn from each other .. in real time during your shopping experience. The result is smarter purchases.

Imagine an authenitc conversation, in real time, with your favorite actor, politician, author or reporter who responds to your comments not with platitudes but with thoughtfulness and courage. 

Imagine an authentic conversation with your senior managmenet or an admired corporate executive where ideas are transparently exchanged. 

Imagine an organization that works in partnership with its customers and employees to create a brand experience that is relevant, innovative and imaginative across multiple devices.

Imagine an organization that places its customers in the center of all decisions. 

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

What a funny world we live in. It's interesting to compare a 1940's film, where finding solutions to customers' problems was perceived as unique, to 2013 where finding solutions to customers' problems is considered ingenious. 

The techniques may have changed. New buzz words may be added to the mix. Bells and whistles may be a little louder. However, after all is said and done, the premise remains the same:

-Listen

-Understand

-Add value

-Do what it takes to go the extra mile to delight your customer

I believe that as we learn how to use social media it will change how we conduct business .. leading to  creating an environment where people truly matter. And that my friends, is as courageous and innovative as Mr. Macy's Miracle on 34th Street.

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

Max_dec_07_1And with that Max and I wish you a very merry holiday!

A classic Diva Marketing Holiday Post. 

Thank You Wayne Hurlbert

10/21/2013

Wayne hurlbertMy mind is still a jumble of thoughts. My heart wounded and broken. I've written this post a dozen times in my head but nothing seemed quite right.

So, I decided to go in a direction that he would have liked. To tell the story in a way that will help others understand what matters in this world we call social media. 

Last week when I was walking Max I popped into email and a message from Marianne Richmond almost caused me to drop my iphone (again!). The social web was a buzz with the passing of a dear and much admired gentle soul -- Wayne Hurlbert. Who was Wayne Hurlbert?

In my world ... Wayne and his mom were Max's orignial social fans. Wayne was one of my first BBFs (best blogging friend). I called Wayne (along with Paul Chaney) a true gentleman of the social web. 

Questions -- Can you call a person you never shared a meal, had coffee with or met face-to-face a "friend?" Perhaps there were phone calls, Skypes and emails. However, can you build a "real" relationship when a significant part of your exchanges are on the social web in blog comments, tweets, Facebook posts?

Many folks will remember Wayne for his innovative music tweets and and art posts.  Wayne Hurlbert_ Music Tweet

For me, Wayne and I shared another passion. We believed that blogs, and then social networks, could impact the way business could be conducted with honesty, openness, and transparency.

  • Did you notice those are the words (honesty, openness, transparency) used when describing the blogoshere? - Wayne Hurlbert

One of Wayne's core business beliefs was the importance of business ethics. Several times he graciously shared his views with me to include in Diva Marketing.

I had the honor of being Wayne's first guest on his acclaimed BlogTalkRadio show, Blog Business Success. It was Wayne who encouraged me to launch a BlogTalkRadio podcast. Wayne, along with Jeneane Sessum, were my first guests on Diva Talks with the show The Ethics of Social Media

  • Every action that you take and everything you do should be made with fair treatment helping others in mind. - Wayne Hurlbert

Wayne also kindly contributed his thoughts about ethics to Social Media GPS an eBook I wrote based on 40 Twitter interviews. In Chapter Four, Social Ethics, Wayne and Mack Collier answered this question: Ethics in business is the hot news topic. In SM we struggle with what is black, white and gray. Why is that? 

  • SM is about trust&trust must be earned. Once lost trust is hard to recover. In SM there is no second chance to recover it. - Wayne Hurlbert
  • Using tricks & tools to get more SM followes may add numbers but without engagment&trust, raw numbers mean nothing - Wayne Hurlbert

Ironically, the last question I asked Wayne on our BlogTalkRadio show was -- What do you want people to say about you after you write your last post or your last tweet? 

  • That I helped people as I set out to do when I orignally started my post. - Wayne Hurlbert

His response underscores what his friends know to be true. Thank you Wayne for the help you selfishly gave keeping true to your philosophy of putting others first.

And I suppose that brings us full circle to the question can you create "real" relationships in social media? The relationship I shared with Wayne touched my  heart and added value to my life. It doesn't get much more real than that girlfriend.

Note: 10/24 8p Eastern BlogTalkRadio will host a tribute to Wayne. 

What Is Your One Big Truth About Social Media?

05/13/2013

The truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time but it ain't goin' away. ~ Elvis Presley

Crowd source
Just One Crowd Sourced Question 

Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and other social networks changed how we think about "social media" from those long ago days of the blogosphere. However, I wondered if the "truths" of social media also changed. 

Is social media still about people-to-people conversations or is monetization the focus? Has social media become a ghost writer's paradise or is transparency still critical? What does authenticity mean in 2013?
 

Just Once Crowd Sourced Question is a Diva Marketing series where the community shares their insights on a specific social media issue.  One truth that still remains consistent even in 2013 .. social media is about learning together.

What Is Your One Big Truth About Social Media in 2013?

Jack Yan. I think social media are changing forms.

I go to my Facebook feed and I see links. This could be the new Digg (something I’ve said for years). I didn’t come here to see links, I came here to share and see what my friends are up to. Facebook is too busy monetizing and breaking its own features, too, which doesn’t help. It’s buggy as heck. It has zero user support.

So to get those people-to-people connections, I have to go to Instagram, where the “conversations” (via photos) are just that more authentic. I don’t see that on Pinterest or Linkedin. But if I am sharing on Instagram, then something’s got to give.

Twitter, once so open, has become a closed-minded place—it’s not helped by Tweetdeck, which crashes like crazy now, and Metrotwit doesn’t handle multiple accounts. I know there are other tools, but my point is that things aren’t all running in Twitter’s favour any more. So if I have good tools to use for Instagram, then why should I bother with Twitter?

Tumblr, which I always thought was a blogging platform, is still a neat insight into our preferences and how we think. In that way, it has a social connection for netizens. Plus it has reached 100,000,000 users—and staff can still send personal replies, responding to bug reports and other enquiries. Facebook, Yahoo, Google and others have a lot to learn from these guys.

Social media are still about people-to-people conversations. We had those conversations with Vox between 2006 and 2009, which predated Facebook with sharing to different audiences. Transparency is still important.

I don’t think these definitions change—just that the sites that once hosted them are not what they used to be.

@JackYan JackYan.com

Nettie Reyonds. I would say that this year the big and necessary truth is for social media to stop taking itself so seriously.

It's not what it has been hyped up to be and people need to employ the social media economy of effort - meaning use the tools to connect with your customers on a real basis - make that effort and your company will benefit long- term much more than it would mired in hype, haste and hastily pushed out disingenuous content!!! ~ @netreynolds Nettie Ink

B.L. Ochman. My one big truth about social media: it continues to be my most important source of news and information, and it continues to baffle most companies. Wait! Is that two thruths?!  What's Next Blog PawFun  @whatsnext 

Judy Mod. We believe social provides a lens into the world of our buyers and continues to transform the way buyers go-to-market to solve strategic business problems.

The problem we are focused on solving within the Social Executive Council is the shift from vendor-driven to peer influence is marginalizing vendors as buyers demand to be empowered with education on the problem definition before they engage for education on solution differences.

How do we arm buyers in the market to operationalize their problem diagnosis to reach them early enough to be a trusted advisor in their buying process and throughout their life cycle as a customer? This shift and our lack of market visibility because of the noise and barriers to buyer adoption are having a significant impact on every aspect of our business performance. ~ @JudyMod

Anonymous. You don't have to be on every form of social media just the ones that work best for you and your business. 

Michael Rubin. It's ultimately still about people. Technology's the tool, social media's the rocket fuel, people are the soul. ~ @merubin  MichaelE.Rubin.com

Tanya McGill Freeman. I think it's absolutely about people-to-people conversations...now more than ever!

People do business with people that may represent companies but not really just the companies themselves as a whole. Therefore the act of authentic, real engagement is so incredibly important. We tend to do business with those we know, like and trust, and social media provides a very effective way to establish those bonds and maintain them. @D_Sophisticate

Kelly Dovovan. social media is still about one-to-one or one-to-few conversations, but social media networks are making that harder to do as time goes on.

Facebook admits that they show a Page's posts to only about 16% of that Page's followers' news feeds. You have to pay if you want to send a direct message to your fans, too.

Both Facebook and Twitter have started cluttering users' news feeds with ads and sponsored posts/tweets, making it harder for users to notice your posts.

LinkedIn seems to be the least commercial platform, but surveys show that people online spend only about 2% of their social media time on LinkedIn, so your conversation better stand out for the moment when someone in your LinkedIn group actually logs into that network or you will miss them.

Our challenge in 2013 is to meet users where they are and position ourselves as someone worth actively following.

~  @HurriGator

Anonymous. Simplicity. Simplify it.

Toss of the pink boa to all who generously shared their truths.  Pink boa

 What is your one Big Truth about social media in 2013?

Read More Just One Crowd Sourced Questions

How Do You Build B2B Relationships Using Social Media?

How Do You Take The Fear Factor Out of Social Media?

How Do You Put Soul Into A Blog Post?

Why Don't People Get Social Media Is Not A Private Conversation?

What Is Your One Tip To An Agency/Freelancer Contracted To Be The Voice Of The Brand In Social Networks? 


7 Step Secret Sauce Recipe For Social Media Success

04/03/2013

Secrets in the sauceHe: I need more traffic to my blog, more followers to my Twitter account and more likes on my Facebook.

Me: So I told him the 7 Step Secret Sauce Recipe For Social Media Success. In all candour, it's nothing new but as a reminder I thought I'd pass along.

1. The End Game - Start with the end game in mind .. or as marketers might say -- your goals.

What do you want to achieve? What is success to you? Is it gaining a new audience or repositioning your brand with current customers? Is it building stronger relationships with your employees? 

2. Know Your Audience - The more you understand the profile of your audience the better you'll be able to put into play steps #3, #4, #5.  Building a personae of people you want to reach helps to go beyond traditional demographics to including digital/social behaviors. 

3. Selfless Content - Posts that take the needs of your community into consideration and are aligned with the values of your brand/company.

Mantra to repeat before hitting the publish key:

It's not about me it's about you.

4. Focused Content Direction - Choose a topic that is big enough to give you some flexibity but narrow enough to carve out a niche that sets you apart in the cluttered social media space. Helps if you are passionate or have a high interest in the topic .. to help you sustain over time.

5. Consistency Over Time/Social Platforms - To be The "go to diva or divo" - post several times a day about trends, hard to find information, hot tips, industry news.

To position yourself as a  "thought leader" consider weekly posts using platforms that offer longer formats than Twitter and can be deep linked e.g. blogs, YouTube/Vimeo (video), SlideShare. Content ideas: opinons on industry trends, current issues, interviews with leading experts.  

If you're focused on innovation or a start-up it might mean you become active on the latest shiny toy. Yes, there are times when jumping into the the new is a valid strategy.

6. Community Generosity - Identify your peers, influencers and greatest fans. Join the conversatons where they hangout. Contribute to the discussion with your ideas, links, opinions. Rarely does that mean pitch your product.

If you're in a more conservative world or your end game is to sustain your current positioning, it might mean the tried and true  blogs, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. 

Keep in mind that you do not and never will "own" any social network e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, FourSquare, g+, etc. You are a renter abiding by the rules (terms of service) that can and are changed at the discretion of the network.

The only social media properties you have control over are the blogs, communities, sites you build and host yourself. 

6. Resources - Much as we might like to think that the digital world is a free for all .. if you're using social media as a business strategy keep in mind there is a cost. The price you pay is in time, human capital and yes, hard earned dollars too. 

Determining how your resources will be allocated will save you a few sleepless nights. 

7. Determine Results - Is it working? How will you know (refer to #1)if your end game is met? Think about the metrics that will provide you the greatest insight. Hint: Likes are probably not the best indicator. 

There are at least 27 billion tools (well .. that might be a slight exaggeartion but perhaps not!) to help you track, measure and analyze. Some are free while others can run you some major bucks.

A Few Resources - Tools

Twitonomy - a new fav for Twitter analysis

Curated from Social Media Examiner - 29 Tools

Curated from What's Next Blog - 6 Shiny New Objects You Can Use

He: If it's that easy why the big deal?

Me: Right, this stuff is really not as difficult as say finding the perfect jeans. (Girlfriend, now he began to look puzzled .. but you know what I mean.) But there is one more step that I forgot to mention. Gaping void your a social media specialst so am i

The spice that kicks it up a notch ...pulls it together .. it's the person who builds and implements and ensures that outcomes are met within two cultures -- that of your brand and social web.

The skill set and experience that should be brought to the party grows more sophisticated and complex as social media becomes integrated into a business' DNA. 

Social Media Manager Skill Set

Business experience, marketing experince, strategy understand and in the weeds tactics,  great verbal and written communication, knows how to write for the web, problem solving, analytic skills, expeience in web analytics, understands the concept of digital conversation, continuous learner, generously shares, team player with people of diverse backgrounds, comfortable moving between online and offline environments, creative approach to the mundane and the unexpected, ability to work in a constantly moving world, likes helping people, customer first orientation, understands the concept of selfless content, content curation and creation, importance of multiple devices, understands digital behavior and building community. 

Add to that the working knowlede of mulitple social networks, blogs, the concept of authenticity, transparancy, honesty.

Include an understanding of your brand value and promise and how content and conversations must align but not message or sell within the social web. 

Oh yes .. throw in a little passion for social media and the brand and having fun. 

I think that will do it. 

Post inspired by Amber Kapish and David Munk, Stargayzing.

Graphic credit Zazzle

Baylor Healthcare System Takes A Leap Into Pinterest: Interview with Ashley Howland (Part 1)

08/01/2012

The relatively fast Pinterest adoption rate, of what we might call nontraditional to social media verticals, is amazing to me. From financial services, manufacturing to B-to-B, Pinterest seems to capture the imagination of marketers. 

Baylor logoIn particular is the healthcare sector where many hospitals and medical centers are embracing visual communications and doing interesting work on Pinterest.

I was very excited when Ashely Howland from Bayler Healthcare System agreed to tell us the back-story of Bayler's Pinterest strategy. Ashely graciously shares her insights and learnings. In fact, her interview was so rich and detailed that we decided to run it as a series. Please join me in welcoming Ashley to Diva Marketing!

About Ashley Howland is the social media manager for Baylor Health Care System. She has been with Baylor for 8 years where she got her start in Media Relations. She took on Baylor’s social media efforts in 2009 “on the side” and it quickly turned into a full time job. Ashley Howland_Baylor Med Ct

Diva Marketing/Toby: I applaud Baylor’s step into Pinterest. Your boards were one of the first that I pinned to my Brand Board. Perhaps you can shed some light on something I’ve been thinking about since I first saw your boards.

Healthcare, as an industry, was slow to participate in the social web. However, it seems the opposite is true for Pinterest. On a high level why do you suppose that’s the case?

Ashley Howland: Thanks for adding us to your brand boards! You’re right; health care was very slow to adopt social media. One of the biggest reasons for that are the regulations in our industry, i.e. patient privacy laws. 

We have now embraced it and are using it to inform and educate the public with credible health information. We’re also using it to learn from them as well…what kind of experience they’re having in our hospitals, what type of information they’re looking for and most importantly, we’re using it to help our patients connect with each other for support.

I think one of the biggest reasons Pinterest is so popular in the health care industry is because of its demographic.  Nearly 70% of Pinterest users are women, which is a target audience for the health care industry. Women usually make the majority of health care decisions in a household and are usually the ones searching the web for health information.

Pinterest is also not as personal as some of the other social platforms. While Facebook and Twitter are hugely popular, not everyone is comfortable interacting in those spaces. Millions of people have accounts, but they may not be very active on those sites.

I think Pinterest fills that void. It appeals to the people who may not want to share the personal details of their life, but have no problem sharing about their interests and hobbies.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s explore Baylor’s presence on Pinterest. What was it that first caught your interest about Pinterest to take the “pin leap?” When did you pin your first pin?

Ashley Howland:  We pinned our first pin in January of this year. I was using Pinterest personally and became addicted to it very early on…like everyone else!

We decided to take the “pin leap” because it seemed like such a natural fit for us.  As a hospital system, we have historically been concerned with treating illness, but now more than ever, we are responsible for treating wellness.

Social networking sites are the perfect place to do that. With sites like Pinterest, we can not only inspire people to live healthier lives, but we can show them how.

  • We are taking the wealth of knowledge and expertise we’re privy to inside the walls of our hospitals and converting it to an easy-to-comprehend visual format.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Currently Baylor has 21 boards with a wide range of topics from healthcare games and tips, food. holidays, fitness and even animal therapy and boards about Texas. How did you determine the topics? Any surprises on the reactions from your community?

Ashley Howland: At first, we determined the topics of the boards based on the content we already had available. We also started paying attention to what people were pinning on our personal Pinterest spaces. In addition to home décor, fashion and arts and crafts, I noticed that my friends were pinning lots of recipes.

Baylor may not be able to help you put together a stylish outfit or show you how to Mod Podge a picture frame, but we’ve got recipes covered! We also noticed that people were pinning a lot of fitness pins and just everyday tips and tricks. We have an abundance of printable health checklists and how-to guides on our website so we pinned them and people loved them!

The biggest surprise was the reaction we got from our Interactive Health Quizzes board. We have many health quizzes and risk assessments buried on our website so we dug them out and started pinning them.

I was surprised that some of them didn’t get any re-pins or likes, but once we started measuring the click-throughs, we realized they were wildly successful! Some people may be shy or embarrassed about pinning a “Are you at risk for depression?” quiz or a risk assessment for cancer, but they will definitely click-through to take the quiz.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What types of content are you pinning?Ashley Howland: What’s great about Pinterest is there is an audience for just about anything! Sometimes brands are frustrated by it because they think they have nothing to pin. On the contrary.

  • Content is everywhere you look! You just have to think visually and figure out a way to re-purpose it for this medium.

Got a blog post with a list of tips? An online interview with a subject matter expert? Find a graphic for it and pin it! If you have graphic design skills or have access to a graphic designer, that’s the key. And don’t forget about videos! Videos are becoming very popular on Pinterest. In short, almost anything can be turned into a pin.

That being said, we pin just about anything we can find at Baylor. Instead of being an afterthought, Pinterest has become a driving force for our social media efforts. Every piece of content we create, we try to think of how we can turn it into a pin. Instead of communicating with words, we’re all learning to communicate visually.

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

Ashley Howland: Although Pinterest is still in beta phase—which is pretty incredible considering the number of users—there are already third party websites available that can help you measure your success.

Right now, we are using Pinerly. Pinerly is amazing because it not only tracks your click-throughs on a pin, it allows you to upload content that may not have an image already attached to it. For example, say you have a great blog post or an article on your website titled “5 tips for working out at home,” but there is no compelling image on the page. If you are using Pinterest to pin this content, it won’t work. However, Pinerly allows you to upload an image of your choice while posting the link behind it.

Another measurement tool that I recently discovered is Curalate. I’m really anxious to try it out! 

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

Ashley Howland: You’re right; every social networking site has its risks. Unfortunately, Pinterest has been singled out lately and a lot of attention has been called to its Terms of Service. They have made a lot of changes to their language about copyright issues, but the truth is their Terms of Service are very similar to other social networking sites as well.

As far as copyright issues are concerned, we try very hard to pin as much original content as we can. We definitely repin the brands and people we follow, but we try to make sure we repin from credible sources and that the original source of the content is credited.  

One of our biggest challenges with Pinterest, and any social media outlet for that matter, is to make sure we are sharing or repinning content from credible sources. Many people will repin without clicking through right away.

As a brand, we click-through every image we want to repin to make sure it’s coming from a credible trusted source, that we’re not endorsing a product, and most importantly to make sure the pin is not linked to a spam site. Even our beloved Pinterest is not safe from spammers, unfortunately.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In social networks there are two paths we can take: passively providing content and actively engaging within others. At this point, most people seem to be sharing content/pins but there is not a lot of conversation happening.

How active is Balyor in terms of engagement e.g. commenting, repining, likes?

Ashley Howland: Engagement is a big priority for us, but to be honest, we haven’t really taken advantage of fully engaging with pinners…yet. On occasion, we’ll thank someone for repinning us, comment on other pins and give out likes, but engagement takes time and a lot of effort.

It’s a big and very important job. We have recently increased our staff to include two community managers and one of their primary goals is to spend time interacting with pinners. Baylor_Pinterst 8_1_12

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

Ashley Howland: I believe you get out of these networks what you put into them. If your intent is to share content, that’s great, but then you’re only scratching the surface of social media and using it as another one-way communication channel.

It’s a two-way channel. In fact, it’s more than that…it’s a community of real people. I think brands are finally starting to realize that social media isn’t a side gig. It’s an integral part to any communications strategy. Most importantly, it’s not free which is a big misconception. Of course the tools are free, but the effort that goes into them isn’t.

I think you have to figure out what your priorities are and what your company’s goals are and then go from there. Not every business will greatly benefit from Pinterest. Evaluate your objectives and figure out where you should be spending your time.

Baylor is very supportive of our social media efforts and has given us additional full time employees to help manage our social media presence. I recently hired two community managers who are doing a great job of not only finding and creating relevant content, but talking to our communities and helping us reach beyond the day-to-day postings.

  • We could all stand to do more listening instead of talking in our social landscape!  

In addition, our Public Relations/Media Relations department has incorporated social media as a part of their jobs.Everyone in our Marketing/PR department; including many of our clinical employees such as physicians, nurses and dietitians; is encouraged to attend what I call the Social Media Campfire, a monthly discussion of the tools we’re using and how all of us can make them a part of our communications toolbox…no matter if you’re in the Social Media Department or not.

Continue the conversation with Ashley and the social media team from Bayler Healthcare System

Pinterest Facebook Twitter-@baylor health YouTube Google+ Ashley on Twitter

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

 

Pinterest State of Maryland Pitch Contest: Interview With Zoe Pagonis

06/18/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student Entrepreneur Category:

First Place: GB Wallets

Second Place: Discrete Secrete Solutions

Bootstrapper Category:

First PlaceBeerGivr

Second Place: Mission Launch

Continue the conversation with Zoe!

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

Graphic credit: MD Govpics Flickr

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series