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Interview with Heather Morgan Shott of Meredith's Mixing Bowl Social Network Community


New social networking communities seem to be on every virtual corner these days. Marketers understand that social media can be a powerful strategy that supports niche or segmentation marketing. However, when brands build out communities it's obviously a business decision that has incurred significant resources - including dollars.

I wondered how do they integrate marketing objectives, while ensuring that the "social" aspects,  the heart and soul of the community, are authentically and transparently developed and nurtured? When Chris Kieff offered the opportunity to interview one of his Ripple6 client's from Meredith Corporation's recently launched Mixing Bowl, a food and recipe community - I said yes!

Mixing bowl About Mixing Bowl

Editors touch every piece of content that exists on our branded sites. We post recipes after they’ve been triple-tested in our kitchens, write how-to articles, and so on. We don’t run Mixing Bowl that way because we want it to be a site created by home cooks for home cooks.

I’m (Heather Morgan Shott) very present on Mixing Bowl (my username is CoolCookie), and my profile page states that I’m a Mixing Bowl editor, but I’d never censor conversation or edit content. I’m there to answer questions as well as contribute to the community just like a typical member would by posting my own recipes, sharing my opinions, and joining groups. From a business point of view, Ripple6 offers advertisers access to a very sophisticated and extensive analytics system.

Heather morgan shott  About Heather Morgan Shott

I'm the Senior Food Group Manager for the Better Homes and Gardens Network, which includes five websites. On Mixing Bowl, I mix it up like any member might--but if there’s a functionality problem I’ll address it.

For example, we had some members who were unhappy with the way in which our contest application worked when we first launched the site. Entries were randomized so members started having problems finding the recipes they wanted to vote for once lots of recipes were entered. They started posting their complaints on the site, and we responded very quickly by tweaking the system so that the entries were static.

Suddenly ‘thank you CoolCookie’ threads started to pop up. Of course lots of people worked to resolve that issue, but I’m the person that the community knows is listening to them, because I’ve established a very visible presence on the site. When I’m not working, I’m cooking, restaurant hopping, drinking wine, shopping, or hanging out with my husband. We live in New York City.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Mixing Bowl is not only a new social media community but a new brand for Meredith. That said, Meredith’s reach with women is wide and established. How did you use those assets to help build membership and promote the site?

We’ve been working with all of our magazines and websites to promote Mixing Bowl. American Baby, Fitness, Family Circle, and Better Homes and Gardens, for example, have all created groups that tie to specific departments in their magazines. Ladies Home Journal features questions and answers from Knowledge Bowl in each issue. We have another magazine that will be sponsoring a contest on Mixing Bowl this summer. Online, we’ve been promoting Mixing Bowl in newsletters. We’ve got lots more to come; this just marks our very early efforts.

Toby/Diva Marketing: There are other social networks that focus on food and recipes. What is Mixing Bowl’s point of difference? Why would I want to join and spend time on Mixing Bowl versus another community?

Heather Morgan Shott: By filling out your profile, Mixing Bowl can deliver a totally customized experience just for you. For example, if you check off quick and easy, desserts, and cooking for kids as your interests, we'll bubble up all the recipes and groups that mesh with those interests. So we’re offering a vastly different experience than you get on other sites where you log in and see everything that everyone else does, and you literally have to wade through hundreds of pages of information to find what’s relevant to your life.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The quality of online peer-to-peer relationships builds over time. How is Mixing Bowl encouraging and nurturing “community” among with its members?

Heather Morgan Shott:I’m dazzled by so many of the people in our community, and I meet new, amazing members every day. When we launched Mixing Bowl, we tried to start things on the right note by inviting some incredible content creators, such as past winners of cooking contests and bloggers, to get in the mix early on. None of them were professional cooks but they all had a certain level of expertise in cooking or baking, so we knew they’d be able to provide high-quality content. We also knew that they had the kind of passion and enthusiasm that we wanted to foster on Mixing Bowl.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Mixing Bowl is a very rich platform, built by Ripple6, that offers multiple ways for people to contribute their favorite recipes and as we love to say, “Join the conversation.” At this early stage in its development which areas or groups are getting the most activity? 

Heather Morgan Shott: There’s no question about it, our community loves to bake. We have an extremely rich Ethnic category, with 16 groups covering a range of different cuisines (Chinese, Colombian, Mexican, French, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Parsi, Persian, Polynesian, Puertorrican, and so on); in this category many of the group leaders are actually based overseas, so they’re posting truly authentic recipes. We’re also seeing tremendous growth in areas that we’d expect—quick and easy, healthy recipes, desserts, and entertaining.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Has that surprised you?

Heather Morgan Shott: So far just what we hoped would happen has happened. Our goal was to engage home cooks who specialized in specific topics. What better way to learn how to cook Indian food than from someone based in Mumbai? Who better to get baking pointers from than an owner of a boutique bakery?  Who knows picky eaters better than moms raising kids who are picky eaters? These are real people with real solutions and inspiring ideas.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Since this is part of Meredith’s business strategy can you tell us what constitutes success?

Heather Morgan Shott: Our goal is to continue to grow membership on MixingBowl.com. We’re extremely pleased with where we are right now, and we will continue to work to develop an even richer and more robust community.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How concerned is Meredith with, let’s call it “traditional website metrics?”

Heather Morgan Shott: Page views and unique visitors are extremely important, but our top goal is bringing in new members.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I was watching a video where Dan Hickey, Vice President, Digital Conten, discussed marketers (advertisers) participating within the community to add value. Can you give us some current examples and tell us how Mixing Bowl ensuring transparency?

Heather Morgan Shott: Toby, we’re still working on this. We haven’t really rolled anything out yet… We're cooking up some great stuff, and I can't wait to tell you about those efforts once we've rolled them out. Check back with me in a month or two.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Understanding that the site has been live only a few months, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned at the start-up of this venture?

Heather Morgan Shott: In a community, it’s extremely important to be involved, to mix it up with your members. It doesn’t work to just build a community and then abandon it. You need to listen to what they’re saying and you need to respond quickly. You need to show you care, or they’ll go somewhere else. It’s also critical to be flexible and be willing to change something that isn’t working.

Toby/Diva Marketing: At its heart, or in your heart, what is your vision for Mixing Bowl on a long-term basis?

Heather Morgan Shott: We want MixingBowl.com to become the largest community food site out there. We’d love for it to be the number one destination for everyone who loves to swap recipes and join cooking groups. And we’d love to continue to draw in more members from overseas so that we truly become a place for cooks from around the world to connect.

Heather Morgan Shott On Social Media
It’s thrilling, and I can’t imagine life without it. Oftentimes content isn’t all that exciting until people actually start talking about it – and that’s why social media platforms like Mixing Bowl, Twitter, and Facebook have become so central to our lives. They enable us to take one thought or idea and connect about it with hundreds of others, regardless of where those people are in the world. We gain multiple perspectives, oftentimes from people whose views are vastly different from ours, and in turn our own thoughts and ideas become much richer.

More About Social Network Communities From Diva Marketing

Diva Marketing Talks, BlogTalkRadio, with Liz Strauss & Nancy White

Interview with Nancy White

Diva Marketing Talks Boomers Step Into Social Media With Des Walsh, Barbara Rozgonyi & Carlos Hernandez


Diva Marketing Talks is a live, internet radio (BlogTalkRadio) show.  30-minutes. 2-guests. 1-topic about social media marketing. Why? To help you understand how to participate in the "new" conversation without getting blown-up. Miss today's show? You can pick it up as a podcast or listen on your computer.

Today's Diva Marketing Talks explores a "new" demographic that is joining the social media conversation. Think that social media is all about Mils, Gen X or Gen Y? Think again. The Boomer Generation may be late to this party but will the shear numbers of the demographic influence SM? Des Walsh - Des Walsh dot Com, Barbara Rozgonyi -Wired PR Works and Carlos Hernandez - iRM Consulting, join me to talk about will the Woodstock generation be as open to naked conversations as they were to dancing in the rain sans clothes?

Topic for April 9, 2009: Boomers Step Into Social Media
Time: 6:00p - 6:30p Eastern/ 5:p - 5:30p Central/ 4:00p -4:30p Mountain/ 3:00p - 43:30p Pacific
Call-in Guest Number: 718.508.9924 .

Des walsh_2 Des Walsh

Des Walsh is passionate about the potential of social media for business transformation. As a strategist and coach he helps businesses and entrepreneurs navigate the social media maze and become savvy participants, developing their own roadmaps to fit their own strategic objectives.

He has been in business for twenty years as a communications consultant and coach, following a public service career with senior positions in education, the arts and major events planning. He draws on that experience to help companies handle the cultural challenge in changing from a traditional command and control approach to marketing and communications, to the more open, transparent world of social media.

Des is co-author of LinkedIn for Recruiting, now in its second edition and an e-book for small businesses, 7 Step Business Blog, recently translated into Mandarin Chinese. He is an Associate of China-based company CultureFish Media, which assists companies promoting their business online in China. He is also a Partner with the Colorado, based company ITBrix, which produces the social media, community building and collaboration platform WordFrame.

He is a regular speaker on blogging and social media and has spoken at conferences in Australia, the USA and China. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Blogging and New Media Association and a member of the Board of Governors of the International Association of Coaching. Des blogs at Des Walsh dot Com and Thinking Home Business. @deswalsh

He is based on Australia's Gold Coast and his motto is “have netbook, will travel”.

Barbara_Rozgonyi_6309429542 Barbara Rozgonyi

Barbara is the founder of CoryWest Media, LLC, a strategic social media, marketing and PR consultancy based in the Chicago area. She also publishes Wired PR Works, which is listed on Alltop, ranked in the Ad Age Power 150 and mentioned as one of the top sources for marketing content by junta42. Founder and chair of Chicago ’s Social Media Club, Barbara speaks frequently about how to get new media to work for you. WiredPRWorks @wiredprworks

Wired Works PR

Carlos H Carlos Hernandes

Carlos is a Social Media Catalyst & Trainer to people desiring to be Web 2.0 savvy, but especially to Baby Boomers. Why so? In February of 2007, he elected to pursue a calling to help people. He especially identified with fellow Baby Boomers who were intimidated by emerging social media technologies.

He has been successful by working with individuals and businesses to leverage Web 2.0 technology in the sales and marketing initiatives. Carlos' has shown fellow professionals how to develop networks and connections via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in an integrated and cross-promotional manner.

Carlos made this conscious decision capitalizing on his gifts of public speaking, problem solving and teaching. His knowledge is grounded in a 28 year professional career working for Westinghouse Electric & Eaton Corporations in technical solution sales, marketing and project management. Academically, he studied Civil Engineering at Stanford University's School of Engineering. iRM Consulting    @carloshernandez

Tips From The Diva Bag

Complements of Des Walsh

<>One of the best things and also one of the worst things about social media is that there are so many tools available which can help you build a business or kick-start a new career, and which are either no-cost or low cost. It's one of the best things because we now have, on a low or zero expenditure budget, tools which not too many years ago would have cost us thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars to buy or have built for us. 

One of the worst things is that there are so many tools, so many services competing for our attention and love, that we can easily get confused, waste time with services that are not quite right and just get overwhelmed. We need to work on our social media business strategy, not just on tactics, tips and tools.

<>Baby Boomers who have been in business are familiar with the Japanese word “kaizen”, which when used in the context of Western manufacturing and other industrial and business processes is usually translated as “continuous improvement”: Tony Robbins re-badged “kaizen” as CANI – “Continuous And Never-ending Improvement.

Part of this kaizen approach is making small changes as you go, not just waiting for some major overhaul. So in the social media context, with low cost or no cost tools so readily available you can make changes as you go. And you no longer have to be a techie to make many of the changes.

<>Think global – if you want to. Or think small and local. One of the great things about social media from a small business point of view is that it allows so many people to live where they want and build a business which can be local, regional, or national or global, as they choose. 

Learn how to be findable online, using blogging and other social media. More and more people go online to find what they are looking for, the product they want, the service they need. It's our choice as to whether they find us and like what they find, or find our competitors and never know about us.

Complements of Barbara Rozgonyi

<>Own your age by celebrating your accomplishments

<>Promote your technology heritage as being an early adopter way back when

<>Connect cross-generationally via alumni, networking and social groups

<>Position yourself as a mentor for people starting out in your profession

<>Talk about your collections, hobbies and interests to round out your profile

<>Post flattering and current profile pictures that look like who you are today

<>Be a leader people seek out for social media connections

<>Start out with LinkedIn and develop your professional profile

<>Go through your network and invite friends to connect online

<>Recommend and refer others when you see someone looking for help

Barbara's post on social media and baby boomer statistics

Complements of Carlos Hernandez

<>Don't be surprised if you become labeled a "lurker" for just reading blog posts and the like.  It is okay to go slow and learn about the various social media communities. You will know when you are ready to contribute a comment, status update or tweet.

<>Become more than a job seeker on social media networks such as LinkedIn. Tap your passion and knowledge to grow into becoming a thought leader. It's one of the benefits of being older by having made mistakes and learning along the way.

<>I like Tara Hunt's perspective, who was a recent presenter at Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco (Twitter's @missrogue).  "What can you give away that won't make you broke?" Social media lets you share your talent for the betterment of others

Diva Marketing Talks About Social Media Communities With Liz Strauss & Nancy White


Diva Marketing Talks is a live, internet radio (BlogTalkRadio) show.  30-minutes. 2-guests. 1-topic about social media marketing. Why? To help you understand how to participate in the "new" conversation without getting blown-up. Miss today's show? You can pick it up as a podcast or listen on your computer.

Today's Diva Marketing Talks takes a dive into Social Media Communities or social networks. Liz Strauss, Successful Blog, and Nancy White, Full Circle, are our rock star guests who will explore if relationships built within social networks are real or an illusion. If there is value in social communities then how do you build and nurture them? In other words how do you get the "community" into communities?

Topic for April 2, 2009: Social Media Communities: Real Relationships or Illusions of Friendships?
Time: 6:00p - 6:30p Eastern/ 5:p - 5:30p Central/ 4:00p -4:30p Mountain/ 3:00p - 43:30p Pacific
Call-in Guest Number: 718.508.9924

Liz Strauss_5  Liz Strauss

Liz (Successful Blog) is a social web strategist and community builder. Coming from a background of publishing, business, and instructional design, Liz understands how people perceive a blog, a product, and an experience — how the head and heart engage to make a fiercely loyal customer. She can articulate what makes things irresistible — what keeps people coming back — from literacy, editorial, design, and marketing sensitivities.

Liz works with businesses, universities, and individuals to help them understand how text, words, and images work in the culture of the social web. She has over 20 years in print, software, and online publishing, and has strategized with publishers in Europe, Australia, the UK, and Ireland. She was recently a featured speaker at the Cass Business School of City University in London and will return in the fall to give a presentation and seminar for students at Oxford University.

Liz is a founder of the highly successful business bloggers conference SOBCon — that gained the attention of BusinessWeek, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Innovation Initiative of the Kellogg School of Business. She has been named to the Top 100 Social Media & Internet Marketing Bloggers Top 100 Most Influential Marketers of 2008, the 50 of the Most Powerful and Influential Women of Social Media, NxE’s Fifty Most Influential ‘Female’ Bloggers and her blog is listed on Alltop-Socialmedia and Alltop-Twitterati

Nancy white _1 Nancy White

Founder of Full Circle Associates (Full Circle), Nancy helps organizations connect through online and offline strategies.  Nancy is an online interaction designer, facilitator and coach for distributed communities of practice, online learning, distributed teams and online communities.

She has a special interest in the NGO/NPO sector. Nancy blogs at http://www.fullcirc.com/ as well as teaches, presents and writes on online facilitation and interaction, social architecture and social media ( http://www.fullcirc.com/community/communitymanual.htm). She is co-author with Etienne Wenger and John Smith of the upcoming book “Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities.”

Nancy confesses to online interaction, learning  and chocolate addiction. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two grown sons.
Tips From The Diva Bag

Complements of Liz Strauss

Some points that interest me right now ...
Malcolm Gladwell talks about it in his book, Outliers: The Story of Successon page 39 when he says
… the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he o she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.  They do the work.

We're taught to be leaders on someone else's path. What path would be ours if we were never taught or graded?

Irresistible takes head, heard and purpose aligned toward the same goal.

Follow Liz on Twitter Lizstrauss

Complements of Nancy White

1. Is this a community of friends/colleagues or a network? If the latter, how much of your personal identity is useful and what should you keep to yourself? (explore issues of boundaries, transparency and identity) Know how to figure out which is what!

2. Experiment - many of the uses of these tools are just emerging. But don't think you have to play with all of them. Better yet, experiment WITH others.

3. Be clear on what you need/want to do and get out of social networks. Purpose drives clarity to a path of useful participation!

Follow Nancy on Twitter NancyWhite

A Twitter-book .. No April Fools Joke


Forthsia The first day of April maybe April "Fools Day" but to me it marks the start of spring and new beginnings. The world seems to call out .. take a chance .. throw off your winter jacket and dance in the rain or watch as the yellow Forsythia bush blooms bright yellow flowers.

So I listened to the Spring Sirens and took a leap into something new. I'm writing a book. On social media marketing. But not just a 'regular' book. A book written on Twitter. This book will be built on using 140 characters per line. It will be quick ideas but woven together that flows in a consistent book "read.".

However, it will be "traditionally" formatted with a Foreword, written by Shel Israel @sheliisrael, and chapters. Each chapter will include a one question interview with industry experts who will tag their tweets - #smgps The # allows for easy search for tweet inTwitter search.

If that's too confusing or if you want to go back and read it at your own pace I've created a dedicated blog.  Social Media Marketing - A Twitter-book . #smgps.

My goal is to create a resource for marketers where the social media marketing community can contribute their insights as well. Call it an experiment in crowd sourcing. Can it work?  Wil it work? I don't know. Some Tweeters have said it will fail in less than 140 seconds; others think it's cool and has value; others have a wait and show me stance. For me, social media is all about trying new ideas. So I thought why not? 

This quote by Erica Jong was part of the Introduction and captures what it's all about. On a fool's spring day or with a carefully structured marketing strategy. - "The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more." I extend an invitation to join me on this adventure.