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Friday Fun: For the Heart, Head & Soul


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

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

NonProfit - For The Heart

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

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

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

Small Business Success - For The Head

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

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

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

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

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

1. Who are your customers and prospects?

2. What makes your brand unique to your customers?

3. Where do your customers hang out?

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

The Arts - For The Soul

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

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

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

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

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

William Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew

Social Media Research: Interview with Joel Rubinson of ARF - Part 2


Arf logol This is the second part of my interview series with Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer at ARF, Advertising Research Foundation. Part I of Interview with Joel

The ARF mission is to improve the practice of advertising, marketing and media research in pursuit of more effective marketing and advertising communications. When I learned that ARF was actively leading the charge to bring social media research into the mainstream of the marketing research industry I reached out to Joel. He graciously shared his insights on changes and future trends in marketing research.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The amount of consumer generated content is over whelming. One - What is the best way to mine that information?  Two -  Does using free tools like Google Alerts or Technorati still work?

Joel rubinson Joel Rubinson:

Social media and the internet in general have turned life into an interconnected open book exam while traditional research is a closed book exam. 

In real life, access to friend’s opinions is almost frictionless while in surveys, we spring a subject on someone out of the blue, don’t allow them to research the topic or ask friends. That discrepancy is striking to me especially for those products and services where people have a naturally tendency to turn to digital sources. 

If you are hearing different things in social media it either means that comments are sparse or that something has truly happened and you’re the first corporate eye-witness.  You have to decide and we’re still learning how to do that. Also, let me say that focus groups have their own problems when a strong personality becomes the group leader, which often happens.  Much qualitative research has gone to one on one, and triads because of this.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  In addition to conversations that evolve quickly changing opinions, what is your stance of content that is based on the person receiving payment for content (pay per post)  or receiving free products? Can it skew the data?

Joel Rubinson:  I’m not that familiar with that. In general though, I think there are two legitimate strategies for getting input which I gleaned from Dan Ariely’s book, “Predictably Irrational”. There is the social contract and economic contract. Sometimes you need to use the latter but then you need to get the exchange right.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’re designing a research initiative. What does that look like in the year 2009?

Joel Rubinson:  We have formed a Research Transformation Super-Council of the top leaders in our industry which started on July 15, 2008 with a small group of industry leaders.  The atmosphere was electric, as we had direct competitors in the room; Procter and Unilever; Nielsen, TNS, and Motivequest. 

We started out talking about listening and within 45 minutes we were talking about the very mission, vision, and scoping of the research function. Kim Dedeker from Procter expressed the opinion that research as we know it will be on life support by 2012 and Donna Goldfarb from Unilever said, “My God, we’re all having the same conversations!”  This was really explosive. 

Now, we have run two conference events that were incredibly successful on research transformation and we have a core leadership team that will propose a new path forward that will probably be based on creating a learning organization predicated on three cornerstones:  putting the human at the center; bringing the human to life; and business impact. In only 5 years, the terminology of the future of research has completely and utterly changed and we are leading this initiative, which is very gratifying.

At the end of March, at the ARF annual “ReThink conference 2009” the journey continues with the most amazing learning event ever in our industry. The first day will start with industry leaders from Unilever, J&J, Microsoft, and MTV conveying a sense of urgency.  Then we will have a panel of scientists (anthropology, behavioral economics, cognitive science) advise us.  Then the leaders of Nielsen, WPP, and IRI will reveal plans for moving our profession forward.  Finally, the former president of the Institute for the Future will talk about foresight, insight, and how to “get there early”.  Day two, we have leaders from media talking about the 360 world we live in (including the head of NBC research talking about learnings from the largest media experiment ever called the Olympics) and how the only answer is to put the human at the center.  Day three will be about “innovating innovation” with the kickoff coming from Gary Flake innovation leader at Microsoft.  All of this will be supported by presentations from 20+ leading advertisers and a hands-on “listening zone” where you will learn all there is to know about listening tools.  Repetition, reinforcement, constant communication—we won’t be able to change the industry without this.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Glad to hear that The ARF is taking a leadership role in how social research finds its place in the marketing research mix.

For the marketing research director who is exploring how and where social research “fits” into a marketing research project would you advice her to use CGM as a first step in the process and then bring in traditional research? In other words where do you see social media “research” fitting into the traditional marketing research world at the tactical level?

Joel Rubinson: Preliminarily, I believe it would fit in to a comprehensive research and learning plan in three main ways.

First, I would use it for continuous monitoring to spot corporate reputation issues, customer care problems, emerging social trends, and new vocabulary. 

Secondly, I would use it as a front-end tool for significant new business questions that require their own project plan, coming before survey-based quantitative research and experiments. 

Third, I would create an on-going “enthusiast” community for innovation and dialogue in the brand backyard such as Dell Idea Storm or Starbucks.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Joel Rubinson on Social Media “Research”

Joel Rubinson: Thanks for giving me this platform.  I think this is the research profession’s moment in time if it has the courage and vision to transform and to drive a culture change at the enterprise it serves. 

The new central concepts will be learning and bringing the human to life.  Market Research should become the SPOC for bringing the human (the shopper, the consumer, the person living their life) into the boardroom for shifting focus from a product centric to a human-centric lens. The head of Consumer and Market Learning must synthesize the different data feeds and bring insights to life via storytelling, insights that can galvanize an organization like “only 2% of women think of themselves as beautiful” did for Unilever and Dove. 

Over the next five years, you will see research shift focus to synthesized learning about the human and you’ll see a big change in who enters the profession.

It’s already happening at places like Crispin, Porter, + Bogusky where the planning function has researchers but also includes anthropologists and news reporters. Research, account planning, and consulting will begin to blend as research departments at leading advertisers begin to retool. Innovative research organizations will enable the change.  Some of which will come from companies you haven’t heard of and some from the big guys.  The ARF has become the industry’s leader at devising a listening strategy to extract insights from social media and how to integrate that into the broader range of tools.  We welcome that responsibility.

Toby/Diva Marketing: This aint your father's (or mine) industry .. or then again perhaps it's just beginning to be ..Ellington surveys _3

Facebook Trust: A Point of View From The Millennium Generation


Jessica robyn_2 One might say that my 22-year old niece Jessica Robyn has “grown-up in social media.” She was actively involved in Live Journal when she was in middle school. She joined Facebook when she began college in 2004. Her 491 friends are truly people that she knows and has allowed into her virtual world.

Early this week Facebook changed the rules of their game I was curious about Jessica’s reaction. Then when Facebook changed the rules back I was even more curious. Jess graciously agreed to an interview for Diva Marketing to share her views.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why did you join Facebook?

Jessica Robyn: I resisted at first once my college was first added to Facebook since I saw everyone competing for friends, but December of 2004 I caved. Once I joined I saw an outlet to connect with old friends and I could upload photos so that all my friends could see what I was up to. It was a great tool and I could adjust my privacy settings so I knew who was seeing what sections of my profile.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What sort of things do you enjoy most about Facebook?

Jessica Robyn: I highly enjoy being able to connect with old friends and see how they are doing through recent pictures. I got to reconnect with a friend whom I had not seen since I was in middle school courtesy of Facebook. We were able to send messages through Facebook and got to know each other again. She soon after came to visit me while in college, and we still have maintained our friendship since.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What was your first reaction when you heard that Facebook had changed its terms of service and now your content belonged to them?

Jessica Robyn: I definitely felt betrayed. This tool I have been using as an outlet and had control of my privacy settings went behind my back and decided that they would be able to profit off of my picture? I think that is absurd! It was not in the contract I signed up with and I was not formerly informed by Facebook of this change, but rather through a forwarded e-mail from a friend.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What did you think might happen to the hundreds of photos of you and your friends that you posted on your Facebook page?

Jessica Robyn: I honestly hope nothing, but if Facebook can sell them, who knows. They could get into the wrong hands that way and it could be dangerous.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How did that make you feel?

Jessica Robyn: I felt like one of my friends who I trusted changed their entire personality. I did not know what to think anymore.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Now we learn that Facebook listened to their customers and will go back to their original user agreement. Do you trust Facebook less or do you trust Facebook more?

Jessica Robyn: I trust them less now. They are still capable of changing something so much on the website without giving users fair warning. I think going back to the original was just a cop-out for now since they are planning on re-writing the changes.

Toby/Diva Marketing: When it comes to posting content will you do anything differently on your Facebook page now than you would have say last week?

Jessica Robyn: Absolutely, I feel like now I need to censor myself and the content of "my" page since it is no longer "mine" anymore. I felt very comfortable posting almost anything, but knowing that Facebook could do what they please with it completely disrespects my privacy and trust in them

Toby/Diva Marketing: A little off topic but for my marketer friends., do you ever go to Fan Pages on Facebook that are about brands or products. For example Victoria Secrets has a Facebook page do you ever pop in? Why or why not?

Jessica Robyn: I personally don't since I see Facebook as simple what its name is, face-book. I use it strictly for connecting with my friends. One friend who I am doing some work for asked me to become a fan of their web site and even that I declined since it is not what I use Facebook for.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you ever click on the ads? Why or why not?

Jessica Robyn: I honestly do not really notice the ads anymore. I just click through Facebook as I normally do.

Toby/Diva Marketing: One last question to wrap this one. If you could sit down with Mark Zuckerberg what would you tell him.

Jessica Robyn: I would explain to Mark that the reason I use Facebook is because it respects my privacy. I would not be using it if I thought he would use my image or some private messages I exchange for his own benefit.

Social Media Research: Interview with Joel Rubinson of ARF - Part I


With the rapid increase of digital conversations the importance of not only listening to consumer generated content (CGC) but the analysis of this new data set is finally taking its place at the marketing research table. However, the industry is still at the early stages of determining how social media research (my term), which is based on the raw talk of our customers, can be used as a credible decision making tool that complements traditional research methodologies.

The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) is taking a leadership role helping the profession determine best practices. Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer - ARF, and I had an extensive email conversation about some of the issues facing the industry ranging from the validity and trust worthiness of the information and content creators to where and how "social media research" fits into a marketing research initiative. Joel's responses were insightful and our interview ran longer than anticipated so this will be part of 1 of a series that will post through the week. Part 2 Interview with Joel Rubinson

Sidebar: It's interesting to see how Joel's views and the perception of social media research differ in 2009 from the 2006 interview I had with Bill Neal, former chairman of the board of AMA.

Arf logol The Advertising Research Foundation
The principal mission of The ARF is to improve the practice of advertising, marketing and media research in pursuit of more effective marketing and advertising communications.  We are the only organization with a complete view of the media and marketing ecosystem as we have 400+ corporate members who represent each of the key stakeholder groups:  advertisers, media companies, media agencies, creative agencies, research organizations, and academics.

Joel rubinson Joel Rubinson
I have been the Chief Research Officer and head of analytics at a number of big research companies, head of the research practice at a leading marketing and innovation consultancy, and started at Unilever.  I have an MBA in statistics and economics from the University of Chicago.  At the ARF, as Chief Research officer, I constantly speak with industry leaders and try to assemble the pieces I hear into a cohesive set of industry trends and priorities.  This approach got us to our three top priorities of research transformation, 360 media and marketing, and reestablishing trust in online research panels.
Joel's Blog CRO-ing About Research @joelrubinson on Twitter.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s take it from the top. Why do you think that "listening in on the raw voice of the customer" has merit?

Joel Rubinson: In a world where consumers are in control, where social media provides unprecedented velocity to the spread of messages like the reaction to the Motrin campaign, a marketer must commit to continuous learning. In turn, “learning” comes from hearing the unexpected. 

If we only rely on traditional research approaches where the researcher controls the dialogue, your vocabulary will always trail the market and you’ll be much slower to sense the next move of the market than organizations that continually listen and learn. Listening to naturally occurring conversations in what we call both the consumer backyard (social media, search, @comcastcares in Twitter) and the brand backyard (like Dell Idea Storm) is essential for the continuous learning organization.

Social media and search provide a continuous flow of undisturbed insights giving us a continually refreshed picture of marketing opportunities and threats.  Also, the picture is always on consumer terms not yours (the marketer).  If people want to talk about a product in terms of the solution or social factors, if they want to find substitutable purposes for things that never sit next to each other on the retail shelf, God bless them.  If activists start to trash your brand, like happened with Motrin, you need to be there immediately to sense, respond, and dialogue.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What do you say to those people who question the credibility of consumer generated information/data?

Joel Rubinson: Marketing decision making is inherently risky business.  80% of new products fail. 50% of ad campaigns provide no sales lift.  Marketers are in the business of making decisions based on hunches that come from what Bayesian statisticians would call “priors”.  Acid tests are, “Does listening to CGM add to better hunches, improve the priors…does it increase the probability of an “aha” moment vs. the use of traditional research methods alone?” 

Many cases are now documented in books, articles, presentations where it did…by Nielsen Online, by Charlene Li at our recent conference in San Francisco, by MTV and Schwab via managed online communities. Others will be presented at our annual conference at the end of March. Also, no one is suggesting that it is an “either/or” situation as listening should go on simultaneously with survey-based information.  Listening can help brand tracking be more agile where new vocabulary is injected much faster into the tracker based on what is learned from listening.  I’ve seen better brand equity analysis from TNS/Cymfony who integrate their brand equity tool with listening.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What do you say to people who question the credibility and the statistical reliability of the “sample/people” who produce content and comment on social media platforms such as blogs, social networks, Twitter, review sites, etc.?

Joel Rubinson: Purists challenge listening to social media on the basis that the statistics of sampling can’t really be applied, at least not yet. However, that is not the same thing as saying there is no statistical validity. For example, there is published evidence from regression modeling that measures of brand affinity or equity can be calculated from social media which, in turn, correlate with sales trends.  Personal experience with publicly available tools like Blogpulse indicates for me that CGM trends pass the sniff test. 

Recently, the NY Times created a great tool for analyzing tweets from the super-bowl.  It seemed more “true” than commentary by trade journal columnists and was closer to biometric results in terms of which super-bowl commercials really popped.  While we might not yet fully understand the science, the natural state of these comments often provides more honest feedback than respondents’ answers to questions in a survey if they aren’t worded quite right.  However, we must acknowledge that these are still early days for this new type of data and the science of how to analyze it in some valid way. 

Clearly, there are certain types of marketing situations where CGM is of less value as the target consumer might not be active in social media or where the product is so “low involvement” that there is not enough input coming through.  Back on a positive note, CGM can either be thought of as a flawed sample (glass half empty) or a census of something really important (glass half full); what people are saying about you online, sometimes in direct reaction to a viral marketing campaign you purposefully executed. If you believe that comments in social media by consumer activists are important, you really must monitor social media. 

While there is push-back from some quarters on analyzing social media, it is a combination of legitimate questions based on the state of the art mixed with risk-aversion and change anxiety. Those who tenaciously hold onto old methods without considering this new source of insights will lose relevance as marketers will just go directly to those who mine social media, customer care, etc.

The ARF is committed to experimentation and harvesting industry experience to fully examine its usefulness and those key business issues where it is proven to add value. Ultimately, we hope to provide roadmaps for research buyers as to how to best incorporate social media in their “data feed” strategy.

Toby/DivaMarketing: Given as you indicated that decision making is risky business are you saying that the data (which assumes the people producing the content are trusty worthy) from CGM is a credible source of information for marketers to base important strategic initiatives?

Joel Rubinson: While we still need to create the roadmap for using CGM as a source of insights, I am very optimistic that it will add value, so credible?  Yes, I think it will have credibility as providing useful information and being believable to senior management. If by “base” you mean, use in isolation, no, that isn’t the model we are proposing. 

We believe that there is such a thing as a research value chain where the center of gravity is shifting from the activity of data collection to synthesis.  CGM will be a slice…one input…that will always be triangulated with other approaches.

Secrets to Building Digital Relationships


Valentine Last Valentine's Day I asked a few marketers how to develop great business relationships. The responses were insightful and smart.

With so much of our time spent in the online world I wondered how people were developing digital relationships. I posted on Diva Marketing and sent off a tweet asking ..

What is your "secret" to building digital relationships through social media?

It seems appropriate that the response are a Valentine's Day post. My heartfelt thanks to the people who responded to my question and agreed to share their "secrets" with you.

10 Secrets to Building Digital Relationships

1. Be Yourself
2. Integrity is important
3. Generosity is a mind set that you make happen by adding value.
4. Play nicely with each other.
5. Keep in touch on a consistent basis and be responsive.
6. Listening is critical .. it is not all about you.
7. People want to feel that they matter and you value the relationship.
8. It takes time to develop relationships in the offline or digital world. Finding a new best friend in one tweet is rare.
9. People may feel they know you even though they don't actively participate with you in a conversation. Take care what you say.
10. Simple is some times the best direction.

Susan Cartier Liebel,  Build A Solo Practice, LLC  Solo Practice University - You absolutely have to be yourself and do so with integrity. Be generous with your information and always play nice. It is very easy to get so comfortable in your online relationships you forget there are many who still don't know you but are listening. Be cognizant of your reputation at all times because they are made or destroyed online.

Brandy Nagel, Marketing With No Money - Say exactly what you mean. Try everything once. Focus on what works with your natural beat.

Sunny Cervantes, Confessions Of A Marketing Addict - I keep in touch with my virtual friends and business associates regularly and constantly.  

Donna Lynes-Miller Delicious Destinations GourmetStation -  Relevant content & don't over do it!

Bryan Person BryanPerson.com LiveWorld - My best tip is to link to and direct people to the good work of others online.   

Chris Brogan, chrisbrogan.com - Be human, be helpful, and give more than you get.  

Katie Paine, KD PAINE - Always be yourself, your usual mulit-dimensional, multi-faceted, fascinating to some, annoying to others, self. Whether you're responding or posting, be true to the values that make you a human.  What would be even more interesting is to measure the relationships that people purport to have ..

Dana VanDen Heuvel, MarketingSavant - I believe that part of social media relationship building is about the mindset you take into the relationship. I love to help people. I have consistently found that if I approach social media connections with the mentality of "how can I be useful here", the relationship always starts out on the right foot.     

Jeff Pontes, Strategy Social - Be real, contribute to the conversation and provide something of value. Give more than you take. Social media can be used to shamelessly promote oneself or it can be used to provide and gain real value.

Aerocles - @aerocles - Define yourself through your posts. Anyone can retweet or post a link to a cnn article, but sharing information that isn't readily accessible to everyone is way to both demonstrate your value and illustrate an aspect of your personality    

Bill Flitter, Pheedo - Listen, listen, listen. We all have an agenda and non is more important then the colleagues and friends I connect with.

Julie Squires - Marketing Snacks - Here a little, there a little in the context of a low information diet.

Janet Lee Johnson The Art of Marketing - Being honestly engaged in social media (by using it myself) and completely transparent about relationships (sponsorships, etc.) are key to success. You have to give to get, and to be "in" the digital realm to have and build relationships. I'm surprised constantly at the naivete of "emerging" participants who expect instant success.

Eric Doyle, Eric Doyle on Facebook - Be yourself -- just like in the offline world.

Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones - There is no real secret, except to say that people like to be valued. So, I try to value them by commenting in their blogs, linking to them on Twitter, replying to their comments and being available when asked. 

Richard Binhammer, aka Richardatdell/Around the Web with Richardtadell - Listen, learn, converse and connect

C.B. Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer - Humbleness of responsiveness: being truthful, earnest and passionate about what you discuss on your platform, and welcoming interaction however it takes place [which means responding promptly] - something you do magnificently!

Marc Meyer, Direct Marketing Observations - The secret is there is no secret. The same things that apply in the offline world work in the digital. Being real and being you always works best. We have a saying in the offline world when referring to certain people and that is "that someone is good people", and that means that the person is just a good person; and you'd be surprised how well that translates in the digital world. I think the other secret if there has to be one, is that people need to leave the "take" mentality at the door when they login. In other words, you dont always have to be "on" and marketing, or pushing your message- you'd be surprised how much can be accomplished by just being the real you. The giving you, the honest you. the you that we always hope to encounter...

What is your "secret" to building digital relationships?

Social Media Three For One


Life gets hectic and sometimes little niceties get put aside and then too often forgotten. VirRosestual roses and  heartfelt belated thanks to Shel Israel, C.B. Whittemore and Denise Scammon for their kindness.

On new years eve Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods, ended the year for me with virtual fireworks when he posted our interview in the Twitterville Notebook. Shel's notes will form the basis of his second book. The first, Naked Conversations written with Robert Scobel, has become a classic about corporate blogging. I was honored to be included in the chapter Consultants Who Get It.  Here's a question from my Twitterville Notebook interview with Shel.For more visit Twitterville Notebook.

Shel Israel:  Do you still see social media tools as part of the marketing tool arsenal or has your thinking. umm... evolved from that perspective?

Toby: My philosophy is that marketing is the doorway to the customer and, from that perspective, social media plays an important role in reaching and keeping in contact with a brand’s community. However, I’ve seen companies such as Zappos, Comcast and Dell successfully use social media to support customer service so perhaps there are more “homes” where social media can reside than in marketing. I think customer services should be a part of marketing but that’s another topic for another day. In addition, technical support reps have been blogging for many years yet another residence for social media.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned is social media initiatives have the best chance of success if there is a champion who is responsible for the implementation and also understands and believes that social media is a new way of conducting business. Social media not only influences the way we interact with customers but with people within the enterprise. Developing cross silo communication processes are critical to ensuring that information derived from on-going listening and talking with customers reaches the right internal people. Equally important is letting customers know they have been heard and responding appropriately.

What I’d like to see is social media holding a place of its own at the c-suite table. I envision a Chief Social Media Officer who helps orchestrate the initiatives; where the position is structured more as a jazz leader than a classical conductor. If you know of any organization looking for a “social media jazz leader” let me know!

C.B. Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer, included me in her thought provoking New & Old Social Media Series. I join Mack Collier, Ann Handley, Steve Woodruff, Amber Naslund, Lewis Green, Laurence (Lolly) Borel, Susan Abbott (with more to come!) talking the new conversations in blogs, Twitter, social networks and so on. Here is a a preview of one my answers; for the rest click over to Flooring The Consumer.

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

1. Begin with a plan that includes goals and success measures. Don’t be afraid to include success measures that are outside the box of traditional metrics. As you build that plan consider how you can use social media to support current old media/traditional strategies. For example can you extend an article in an eZine with a blog post to carry on the conversation in greater detail?

2. Develop a budget that includes dollar and people resources. Build your programs to take into consideration human capital to support the implementation. If you don’t, not only will you be frustrated, but you will fail before you hit the publish key.

3. Understand the limitations and the benefits of the tools, or tactics, before you consider implementing. Listen and watch the rhythms of the social elements (blogs, vlogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) you are considering before you create your social media strategy.

4. Determine if your target audience is involved in that specific platform. Then if they are listen to their conversations within each of the new media avenues that you want to explore. How are your customers using the platforms? The best Facebook strategy will fall flat if your community is not involved.

5. Bring all the people who will be involved in the project around a table for a strategic “red flag” conversation. The up front investment will save you dollars, time and tears.

Sun journal You never know where social media will take you. Denise Scammon's comment on a Diva Marketing post led to an opportunity to contribute to the SunJournal's special section Women's Journal. My article - Expand your business network through social media was written to help people new to social media understand how simple it is to incorporate blogs, social networking, Twitter, etc. into a busy schedule.

A few tips to help you jump-start building your digital relationship network:

1. Explore a few social networks. When you build your profile, to prevent spam, consider using a different e-mail address from your business or personal e-mail. The following Big Three networks have become the core platforms for many business professionals.

LinkedIn is focused on business networking, making it an ideal first step into social media.

Twitter allows only 140 characters per message or "tweet." Organizations are using Twitter for customer service support, public relations conferences and rapid response answers to questions.

Facebook offers the option to create personal pages and group pages for brand "fans."

2. Don't feel obligated to follow/friend everyone who knocks on your virtual door. Sometimes less is more. Take time to read profiles to help you determine who you want to be a part of your community.

3. Participate in discussions in the same way as you would in the off-line world. Be yourself. Let your personality come through in your words, on videos or in a podcast interview.

4. Adding value to the conversation will reward you faster and better than a continuous stream of promotion about your products or company.

The results: you'll develop a global network that you can tap into for resources, information, support, advice in which you can control where and when you meet-up. Don't be surprised if the connections you make turn into real friendships that lead to off-line meetings!

Mplanet Notes: R. K. Krishna Kumar, Chairman Tata Sons Ltd .. Ethics and Marketing


Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at AMA's Mplanet Digital Lab about social media marketing. Then I sat in on the 2-day conference. I have so many notes that it seemed to make sense to turn it into a mini series. This is post #2. Post #1 focuses on Mary Dillion, CMO of McDonald's.

The Mplanet speaker list read like a whose who of Fortune 500 presidents and c-suite marketing VIPs. However the rock star was a gentleman who I'm betting the majority of attendees never heard of before the event. R K Krishna Kumar R.K. Krishna Kumar, Chairman of Tata Coffee and Vice Chairman of Tata Tea and Indian Hotels, Tata Sons Ltd Tata. Tata is one of India's oldest, largest and most respected conglomerates comprised of 96 companies and operates on 6 continents employing 350,000 people.

Mr.Kumar's simple, elegant style held the audience's attention as he told us the history of Tata. Tata often finds its growth by acquistion. Success in merging organizations and corporate cultures begins with defining and then communication the corporate purpose. It is a "gentle process of fusion" that is more than 1 + 1 makes 2.

He went on to explain that for a brand or company to succeed there must be something for people to connect with and that brands must also have corporate processes behind them.

His talk turned to how Tata builds brand trust. It is not only through its corporate values but the actions it takes to support those values. Tata is leveraging innovative, newly developed products to deliver economic support. About to launch is a new fortified and enhanced water that addresses malnutrition concerns; it will be distributed to economically depressed villages and into schools.

For Tata trust is a corporate asset of major value for the company.

All great enterprises must have a soul. R.K. Krishna Kumar

Mr. Kumar went on to explain that a company must balance growth with values and conduct and that the brand must be also be built with ethical engagement for the brand and the planet. He believes that the evolution of the brand ethics is grounded in the intent to help people and to protect the planet; managing the destiny of the brand must take on a global focus.

He believes there must be a balance toward wealth with new systems in place that encourages more corporate responsibilities. For the Tata brand that balance is a part of the company's investment in building faith and trust with its customers. The company also has the responsibility to communicate the way it is doing business to its customers and stake holders.

Tata's corporate goodwill is the result of a significant part of profits going back to the people. R.K. Krishna Kumar calls this "an invisible partnership" between the company and the customers.

I couldn't help wondering what the world would look like if more organizations approached business with the same set of ethics, values and generosity of spirit that Tata seems to approach business.

Notes From AMA Mplanet 2009 - Mary Dillon, Global CMO McDonald's


Mplanet registration Last week I joined 800 marketers at the 2nd AMA Mplanet conference in Orlando. When friends asked if I enjoyed the weather in sunny FL after spending the previous weekend in single digit temps in NYC, I realized I had spent a total of 30-minutes out doors. Which must mean that it was a pretty good event!

I have so many notes so consider this the first post of an Mplanet mini series.

Many of the speakers addressed our current economic situation, presenting it as an opportunity to get back to marketing basics. Listening to your customers was repeated by almost every speaker I heard. Being true to your brand/value was also a common theme.

Mary DillonMary dillion mcdonald global cmo m planet Global CMO of McDonald's. Rachelle Lacroix and Bryan Blaise, Fleishman-Hillard, offered the speakers an opportunity to join the conference bloggers (Scott Titus, Matt O’Hern, Greg Verdino, Becky Carroll, Greg Rollett, Toby Bloomberg, Susanne Sicilian and Susan Peyton. All of the bloggers have great posts about the event.) in a private meeting. My thanks to Mary Dillion, the only speaker who met with us. Mary answered our questions with grace, openness and humor. However, since it was lunch time, I must admit we were all a bit disapponted that she didn't bring fries or a Big Mac.

Social Media

Social media is viewed as a big opportunity but McDonald's has stepped gingerly into the space. Social initiatives include  corporate responsibility blog, Values in Practice, launched in 2006, a new Happy Meal game (see below) which includes an online community and closed employees online communities.

"Social media has not been a critical need but it is a critical opportunity." Mary Dillon, Global CMO, McDonalds

McDonald's CMO thinks that social media will help with perspective about the brand. Interestingly, Mary is not that concerned about the Big R .. ROI since she perceives that in comparison to other strategies social media will not be a big dollar investment and therefore, not something that has to be proven for every dollar spent.


Creating a brand value occurs over time. McDonalds all about comfort food with great taste. Delivery that is meaningful and relevant. McDonald's Brand Promise: simple easy enjoyment. Global + local relevancy = consistency. Building relationships with customers staying true to who you are. Understanding the local culture is a high priority. I was surprised to learn that France is in the top five markets for McDonald's. With their pulse on the culture of that market the new Paris interior of the restaurants are awesome .. chic, modern, very upscale.

The Crew

It was quite evident that Mary was proud of McDonald's crew (employees are referred as "crew"). Closed online communities, by local markets, are being developed for the crew to exchange ideas and learn from each other. The communites fun names like McTribe, Our Lounge, McLand, Station M reinforce the McD branding.

One of the most popular internal crew programs has been an international talent search contest a la American Idol where people compete for cash prizes. The final votes were cast by consumers online. Mary called the last contest life changing for the winner who yes, is still working at McDonalds in Brazil but is pursuing music education and perhaps a possible career change one day.

Global Moms Panel

A global moms advisory panel that is recruited on local level is one strategy that McDonald has in place to listen to their customers.


Greg Rollett asked an interesting questions about music in relationship to the youth market. A focus for McDonald's is discovering unknown musicians and bands and to keep the music authentic.

 Tips from Mary Dillion in marketing in a down economy or how to market smarter with less

1. Begin by understanding your target

2. Identify what problem you are trying to solve

3. Review what worked what did not


McDonald's has made a commitment to promoting well being of children through making healthy food fun  for kids. Lots of initiatives are in place with more in development. Mcdonalds happy meal hotel for dogs

When it comes to the kids the toys in the Happy Meals are as important as the burgers and fries. McD's is modernize the toys to include a digital focus. Hotel for Dogs is the current 'toy partner' and McD's has created a pet dog a la the Webkinz concept. Kids and pups can play in their very own online McWorld. My favs are Romeo and Julliet .. very cute.

Mplanet post #1