Social Media Changes The Branding Game


Brands abc blocks Do we expect too much from social media and in particular social networks? Marketers anticipate Facebook, Twitter, blogs, video sites a la YouTube, niche communities and now Google+ will not only create awareness, support customer service but increase .. ROI .. revenue. Social media has become a one-stop shop for extending the brand. 

So I got to thinking .. does social media really fit as a branding tactic? First, I guess we better figure out what is this thing called "branding." Barbara Findlay Schenck's post on MSN Business On Main goes into a deep dive about traditional branding. Not only does she tell how to value your brand but provides a few definitions. She describes a brand as ~ Your brand is what people believe about the promise your business upholds and the benefits it consistently delivers

Let's zero in on ~ benefits it consistently delivers. Let's move in closer to the word consistently. Most marketers and branding experts (ah at last we can call someone an "expert" without the world coming to a stop!) would agree that consistently is the secret sauce when it comes to branding. It's what gives us a sense of comfort and security in making that purchase decision. 

There are many elements that build brand offline and in the digital world including the social web. Tactics range from the visual .. consistent logo design across all channels to the strategic .. targeting the same audience in all medias. However, social media adds the dimension of people having conversations. That changes the branding game. 

So I got to thinking .. if social media is about the people/employees behind the brand interacting as their authentic selves, can there still be consistency of brand?  The challenge is how to be yourself in the social web while maintaining the value and promise of your brand.

I like to think of it as adding jimmies (or sprinkles for those of you who didn't grow up in the Boston area) to an ice cream cone. The "brand" is of course the ice cream and the jimmies are the dash of Ice cream cone
extra personality and humanity that people bring to the brand. However, some brands just don't go well with bright pink sprinkles. What can you do if you are a pink person but your brand is mint green? 

Now comes the extra fun part .. You can win $100!

 MSN BOM is providing me with $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly MSN.  This month's deal. Let's create a list of tips on how a business can use social media for branding.

What is your tip on how to use social media to support branding? The suggestion that Max & I and our special guest judge BL Ochman choose will win 100 dollars

BL&Benny_kiss (3) I am thrilled that internationally, respected, marketer B.L. Ochman has agreed to be our guest judge this month. B.L. has worked with Fortune 500 companies helping them incorporate emerging media as part of their strategy. She is the founder of the popular What's Next Blog and the innovative pet lover's site Paw Fun. Join B.L. on Twitter too! 

To get you started here are .. 

3 Social Media Branding Tips 

1. Build the story of the brand, as well as the brand value and promise, into new employee orientation sessions. 

2. Create an internal communications strategy that keeps all employees up dated about new brand strategies.

3. Ask employees, who are participating in social media how they will be the guardian of the brand, while still being their real self. 

Note: More on social media and branding from Heidi Cohen 

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Branding Tips Contest

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this Business On Main post

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight September 15, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check!)

That's it .. now it's your turn!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Graphics credit: Luster .. the cute ice cream cones are charms and pins.

We Lost Our Social Media Way


Signs which-way-to-go Once upon a time, in the days when blogs were beginning to make their way into the world of marketing, customer service and branding  blog content was created by CEOs, CIOs and others within the organization who were brand and industry knowledgeable. They were (for the most part) people who had a distinct point of view and, more than not, some prestige within the enterprise.

Posts were valued as nuggests of insights and supported business goals. However, the secret of blogs went beyond providing content. The world was introduced to the real people behind the brand. These real people were using blogs as a key to open doors to building important stakeholder relationships. 

Sure there were challenges .. lots. We were building a new way of communicating that ripped open the Wizard of Oz curtain. We learned to create 'gard rails' and 'house rules' that still allowed for authenticity.

From a recent Hugh MacLeod, gapingvoid post - 

.. it was hard work. You had to write a lot, every day. And you had to be a good writer with something to say. Or else it would wither on the vine.

In other words, the barriers to entry were high, in terms of both talent and energy required.

Then came the social networks and the slide from fully developed ideas to posts that required only 140 characters in a tweet or 420 characters in a Facebook post. (I must tell you I <3 Twitter and social networks that provide opportunites to build community.) Something interesting began to happen in the world of social media. 

Perhaps it was that writing short was perceived as a "throw away" that anyone one could do. Perhaps it was that since many students had spent their high school and college years playing on Facebook that it appeared easy to do. Perhaps it was the perception that if celebrities like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber were tweeting than The Twitter was indeed little more than a toy and not a real business tool. How important could it really be?

Marketing managers realized that updating social media networks could be time consuming. Since The Twitter and Facebook weren't really important, why waste the time of the important people?

Light bulb An ah ha moment! I-n-t-e-r-n-s, who more often than not, were here today, gone tomorrow and junior employees, who had little experience with the brand and less with strategy, were tapped.

Silly marketing managers gave control of builidng relationships in these new socal networks to people with limited brand  .. their brand .. experience. 

Somewhere along the way we as marketers lost our way.

We lost our way in our thinking .. short didn't require smart or brand savvy.

We lost our way in thinking ..  playing with new technologies were the same as building tactics based on strategy.

We lost our way in thinking .. creating games using new technologies equated to "social media."

We lost our way in thinking .. anyone could represent our brand if the "conversation" was short.

On MSN Business On Main post, The Runaway Brand: Who's Tweeting For YouJoanna Krutz provides a series of tips. Her point of view is that with strucure and guidance interns and junior staff can create social network content. I might align with her thoughts regarding junior staff but I would be very cautious about bringing in interns to serve as the front line voice of your brand. Skip over to BOM and let me know your thoughts. 

By the way, Joanna mentions the now imfamous Chrysler Twitter debacle in her post. Ed Garston, head of electronic media for Chrsler, told me the back-story in a Diva Maketing exclusive interview

Graphic credit: Hungry Health Happy The Adventures of Mr. Riley

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Interview with Alex Brown, Author: Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy - Part 1


When I think of the world of social media and blogs what I will forever remember, and be greatful for, are the amazing people who walked through my virtual door. One of my favorites is Alex Brown.  

Alex brown_2 Recently Alex wrote a book .. a beautiful book .. an inspiring book .. a book that touches the heart. I must admit it moved me to tears. (The amazing photographs and sketches make it a wonderful coffee table book.) 

It is the story of Barbaro the gallant racing horse and the people who trained, nutured and cared for him. 

It is also Alex's story of how he used social media to create a structure that encouraged a community to form that supported Barbaro and each other. 

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

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Before we explore some of the social media marketing initiatives that support Greatness and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy and please give us a bit of understanding why you felt compelled to write this particular book about Barbaro?

Alex Brown: I had spent the better part of three years supporting an online community which had emerged as it followed Barbaro's attempted recovery at New Bolton Center, and which merged into a horse racing and horse welfare community.

I had used many social media tools to support this community.  I decided to then use a more traditional medium, a book, to write about the experience in a broader story about Barbaro and his lasting legacy.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  To help frame our interview, would you tell us the back-story of why you created a site for/about Barbaro? Alex Brown_ Barbaro

Alex Brown: I was already running a web-site for a racehorse trainer, and friend.  We decided to use his site to update race fans of Barbaro's preparations for the Preakness Stakes after he had won the Kentucky Derby so easily, to remain undefeated. 

Tragedy struck in the Preakness as we now know, but the site became useful to keep his growing fans abreast with his daily attempt at recovery.  He very nearly made it too! (Photo of Barbaro)

Diva Marketing/Toby:  While your friends in the equestrian world know you as a dedicated and passionate horseman, I know you as an innovative marketer who stepped into blogs long before the term social media was popularized. 

So let’s turn the clock back to 2005 – 2008 when you were Sr. Associate Director of Admissions at Wharton and then marketing prof at University of Delaware.  What lessons did you learn during those early days that helped you create the blog for Barbaro?

Alex Brown: I think we are always learning, so clearly all my prior experiences, which include teaching Internet Marketing at the University of Delaware, running the first blog at the Wharton School (for MBA admissions), managing a very active online discussion board for MBA applicants, and so forth, allowed me to understand how communities can work. 

I also read geeky books on game theory and stuff like that.  But as much as I learned, and thought I knew it all in terms of managing online communities, I have learned twice as much managing this project. 

Diva Marketing/Toby: You had huge success with that blog (and subsequent message board and wiki), from hundreds of thousands of comments, to rich content and wonderful search rankings.  Recently you changed domains from to

Obviously, the blog drove traffic to the Tim Woolley Racing web site. Did you have an agreement with Tim Woolley Racing that you would “own” the site and might even change the URL? How was that relationship structured?

Alex Brown: Tim Woolley and I have been close friends for a very long time.  At one point the site was overwhelmed with Barbaro and horse welfare and racing content and it made sense to let Tim have his site back.  At that time I was also leaving Fair Hill where Tim and I worked, and was planning to travel for a couple of years to do further research for the book. 

Changing domains helped mark that occasion.  Maintaining Google rankings and so forth was not really a problem, and we were able to copy all the content over to the new domain. 

What I felt was super important was to leave the design of the sites the same.  I am a huge believer in the value of design usability, and once your community is used to how things work, only change things if there are super critical reasons to do so. 

My interest and experience with web design usability was also something I brought to the design of the book, an aspect of the book of which I am very proud.  I do think the designer wanted to kill me at some points of the book project though!!

Diva Marketing/Toby: For the geeks in the audience, did moving the domain impact your search results and/or traffic to the site very much?

Alex Brown: A slight hiccup perhaps. No more than that.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Barbaro captured the hearts and imagination of people from all over the world. The site provided what Mike Jensen, Philadelphia Inquirer said was “.. real-time updates from the principles and they were able to form a community.” (p 85)

In the social media world, you had 2 critical elements: content and emotional connection. However, the big social media win goes beyond just the number of “likes” “followers” “circles” or subscribers that comprise a community but to engagement.  You knocked that out of the park (oops wrong sport!). We’d love your insights on how to take community to the level of “tribe.”

Alex Brown: Yes, certainly this became a community of action.  They have raised well over $1 million to rescue horses from slaughter, and done so much more too.  I think it is hard to absolutely determine how that happened, but there are one or two things I have learned from this that might prove useful. 

Firstly, mistakes happen, a community needs to be able to learn from those mistakes and grow from those mistakes.  Making a mistake once is fine, as long as you do learn from it.  Not making any mistakes really means you have not tried hard enough. 

The other thing that I think is super important is how the community is led.  I did not decide we should get active on the horse slaughter issue.  Members of the community did, and others followed, and it all bubbled up.  This is the same with other projects the community has undertaken.  My job, along with other moderators, has been to observe, nudge, and keep the conversations on target. 

I once told someone, when describing the most important aspects of managing the community: "When I get up in the morning I just hope I don't mess it up." There have been a few occasions, over the 5 years, that I nearly did mess it up.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Can you share some and how you recovered?

Alex Brown: The most sensitive aspect of running a large community is what actions you take if inappropriate content is posted.  As the moderator you have to have a set of rules for your community, and you have to adhere to those rules.

This can create short term reactions, but you have to keep your eye on the long term welfare of the overall community.  If you have to ban someone (a user ID), typically that person has his / her own network, and belongs to other communities. 

On top of that, the banned user can easily connect now (especially with facebook) to "discuss" your actions with others.  Honestly it can get nasty, and as we know, if two people say the same thing about you on the internet, it has to be true!  You need a thick skin to manage a community like this.

To be continued .. more about how Alex is using social media to create awareness for the book, the community, horse slaughter and the disease that killed Barbaro.

(Update: Part 2)

Disclaimer: I recevied a complementary copy of Greatness and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy.

Interview with Ed Garsten: Chrysler's Twitter Storm Back-story


Chrysler fiat logo It seems that every five years or so Chyrsler gets caught in a bit of a social media firestorm. Not bad when you think of the volitility of the social web.

For those people who might have been out of the country or unplugged from social media during the past week there were two events that occurred within a day of each other that had the social pundits buzzing and tweeting up a virtual storm. 

One: An agency employee (Chrysler's Marketing Department contacted with a PR firm to be their voice on Twitter) was fired for an inappropriate tweet that ran on Chrysler’s @ChryslerAutos Twitter account. Two: Chrysler severed relations with that agency the day after the tweet was posted.

Too often, especially on the web, it’s easy to connect the dots in ways that don’t always create a true picture. I admit I have been as guilty too.  As Gloria Steinem said on a Marlo Thomas post, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but you think it's a pig... it's a pig.”

Ed Garsten, head of  electronic media for Chrysler, offered an explanation on his blog. I thought it was pretty good. However, like a Pig With Wings, it seemed to me that the pieces of the story are still flying around the social networks.  I, like so many other people, couldn’t connect the dots. What was real? What was not? Pig with wings

I asked my friend, Ed, yes, we are pals, if he would take the opportunity to tell us the back-story on Diva Marketing. Then to open the discussion to lessons learned so we can all benefit. Diva Marketing's goal is always to understand how to use social media to bring people together in ways that support your brand’s value and promise.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Mister Garsten, this virtual stage is yours .. please connect the dots for us!

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Thanks for the opportunity, Toby.  Last Wednesday  we noticed, what you would call an “inappropriate Tweet,” coming from the @ChryslerAutos Twitter handle. That’s the handle for the Chrysler Brand and managed by our former social media agency, New Media Strategies (NMS). 

I won’t repeat the tweet, but I’m sure I don’t have to. It was hard to miss.  The tweet denigrated Detroit area drivers using an obscenity. Once we got to the bottom of what happened, we issued a statement relaying the information, apologizing to the public for anyone who may have been offended, and revealed that NMS terminated their employee, who apparently thought he was tweeting from his personal account.

There was a lot of chatter that Chrysler and NMS were cold hearted, terminating a person for a mistake and that using an obscenity on the web is no big deal. Chrysler did not ask for this action. NMS did it on their own.

Indeed, it wasn’t the obscenity at all that we took issue with. As I wrote on the Chrysler blog, it was the fact that we’ve built a tremendous amount of goodwill promoting Detroit and the U.S. auto industry through our TV commercial that first aired during the Super Bowl. That’s the one featuring Detroit-area native Eminem and the catchphrase “Imported From Detroit.” 

Any slam, intended or otherwise, against the great people who live in southeastern Michigan under a Chrysler brand banner is unacceptable and compromises the progress we made in a few short weeks.

By the next day, the company decided to cut its ties with NMS. Again, not because of one inappropriate Tweet, but for a collection of missteps that I’m not at liberty to discuss.

We issued a release announcing this development at about the same time I posted my blog item on the corporate blog.  We also spent the next couple of days responding to many tweets while posting the link to our blog, and to third-party stories that most fairly portrayed the situation.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Thanks Ed. Let's explore now how Chrysler is currently incorporating social medial.  Not to give away trade secrets, but what is Chrysler’s high level direction when it comes to participating in the social web?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Having gone through three owners in five years the direction has changed about as often.  Thankfully, Fiat is aggressive in social media and all of the brand heads are turning to social media for everything from product launches (2011 Dodge Durango) to promoting marketing campaigns, and building communities. 

We’re also encouraged, and do, engage with the public on customer service issues, solving some, but not all, but nevertheless, pleasing consumers that they are able to speak directly to Chrysler.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Chrysler is obviously, subcontracting part of its “voice” in social media to agencies. Why did you choose to go this route instead of keeping all of social media participation in-house with the brands's employees?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: It’s a split decision, Toby. Marketing prefers to use an agency; we in corporate communications do everything ourselves.

As you know, it’s not uncommon for a company to outsource its social media activities and splitting the duties does have its challenges. However, we work closely with marketing to make sure messaging is consistent and there is a minimum of redundancy.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I always say, "Those who hold the conversation, hold the relationship." What does a brand gain by allowing an agency to hold the social conversations for it?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Basically, bodies. The auto industry has a long history of  using contract employees and agencies as a means of getting work done with a minimum of back-end costs. The trick is the brand must strongly direct the agency and the plan begins to fall apart when the agency decides to “freelance” on messaging.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hmm .. perhaps it's time to reevalute that dated out sourced model. On the flip side, what does a brand give-up by allowing an agency to “talk” for the brand?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Immediate control. The agency gets its direction from the company, but once the conversation begins, it can get off track very easily.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The world knows now that ChryslerAutos was authored by a PR agency. However, the bio on the Twitter page simply states: The official Twitter handle of Chrysler vehicle In keeping with the concept of social media transparency, why did Chrysler not indicate that in the bio?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Good question. I honestly don’t know. As I mentioned, NMS worked for the marketing department and unfortunately, I wasn’t in on those decisions.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What I find interesting is the difference in approach to social media between Marketing and Corporate. Will Chrysler continue to engage third parties to author social media platforms? If so, how will you ensure Chrysler's brand’s values and promise are not compromised?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: We’re re-examining our strategy, although there is a strong possibility of going with a new agency, but perhaps more participation internally in creating content and engagement.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I'd fight for keeping it internal Ed! What are the critical lessons learned that we should all keep in mind from this experience?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Keep a tight rein on your agencies. Strictly forbid those who have access to your social media accounts from doing so on devices that are also used to access personal accounts.

React as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t know all the facts, let the public know you’re aware of the situation and will update them as you learn more.

Closely monitor the conversation and use social media to join that conversation to clear up any misconceptions or inaccurate reporting.

Toby/Diva Marketing: This week an Aflac tweeter joined the club of people who are misrepresenting the brand they work for. I strongly believe that part of the "fix" should be ensuring that Everyone who is involved in a brand's social media initiative understand the brand's value and promise. That means more than just messaging but getting it from the gut and heart. 

In Chrylser's case, I can't help but wonder if the agency dude had understood what Chrysler's Made in Detroit initiative was trying to accomplish (beyond just selling a few cars) if we might not be chatting righ now. 

The tweets aside, Chrysler is doing some interesting work in social. What’s cool on the horizon that you can share with us?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: We’re looking more at growing our mobile presence to better reach folks through their smartphones and iPads. We’re also using social media to launch vehicles rather than the typical auto show press days.

Why only tell reporters—tell everyone! It’s important to remember, our company isn’t quite two years old.  We basically started over again on June 9, 2009 when Fiat came in to manage the company, so we’re running fast to make up ground.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As a blogger, brands and agencies often share campaigns with me. Recently, I’ve been presented with several new auto campaigns. While the concepts are exciting, none address the women’s market.  Btw .. I must admit it’s a little frustrating. Does Chrysler have plans to engage with “my people" .. especially with women over 40?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  I’m not aware of anything specifically, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something in the works.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hope so! Let’s wrap this with a similar question to the one I asked you in our 2005 interview:

Ed Garsten On Social Media

It’s the lawless society that presents innumerable opportunities to connect with people and communities and has given virtually anyone who can log on a voice.  From a company’s point of view, we’re able to directly connect with our customers, prospects, stakeholders, employees, investors without the middleman of the mainstream media.

Thanks my friend .. a toss of a pink boa! Pink boa

Diva Marketing Blog Acquired .. Almost! Part I


Ppt 2a diva marketing acquire
And so began a conversation with the CEO of a large (to be anon) portal. It's the dream of many bloggers: to be acquired by a platform viewed by millions, to be compensated for their work and as just as much, to be acknowledged for their work.
Girlfriend, I must admit it is a heady experience to be singled out from all the millions of marketing blogs to swim with the big fish. Okay to be totally transparent the deal was not even a smidgen of the AOL Huffington Post deal. But I rather thought you'd  assumed that one! 

As I do so often, I want to share my story and learnings with y'all. I had not a clue what this road would look like or where it would lead. Perhaps when there's a knock on your virtual door you'll have an idea what to expect.

My goals for Diva Marketing were never to monetize. Notice the lack of ads or affinity links. The purpose always has been to provide a place where we can explore how marketers can use first blogs, and now social media to build stronger brands and customer relationships. By providing that type of content and doing things a little differently, my own reputation and credibility in the social media industry would be established. Diva Marketing maybe a wee blog but I'm proud to say it has street cred. 

I said to The X Man - Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine. ~ oops wrong movie! I think it went more like .. Why Diva Marketing?

The X Man told me he wanted to add a blog with a marketing focus and Diva Marketing was "a good fit" to build out his growing blog network. He said nice things about my reputation and what I brought to the table.

The X Man talked about about how this acquisition would increase my visibility and present opportunities to grow my consulting company. He talked about a link on the "new Diva Marketing blog" back to my website. All good.

What really sold me was the chance to grow Diva Marketing into a larger brand. That's something I've always wanted to do. Who knows where things could go with some extra resources to invest in the brand. The X Man even talked about possible brand extension in terms of events. 

So I put on my  red Manolo Blahnik's and took a step onto the yellow brick road to the Emerald City of Blogs where there would be boas for everyone, treats for Maxie and his friends, conferences with special Diva Tinis. Well .. probably not but one has to dream Big.  Yellow brick road

The X Man asked about my host (Typepad), my traffic, my revenue stream. I did my due diligence too. I talked to several people in his company and my trusted advisers.

Lessons Learned: The insights and support from advisers is invaluable. Don't go it alone if you've never been down this road before; the yellow brick road is unevenly paved and it's easy to trip over your pink boa.

In all seriousness, it was a big decision for me. Diva Marketing turns 7 in May. In the virtual pages of this site are hundreds of posts about blogging, social media, branding, strategy, interviews, research. And a few original concepts like the corner grocery store relationships and in the moment marketing.

Selling my 7 years of intellectual capital was not too difficult to justify. More of a challenge was the decision to give up a brand that been interwoven into my personal brand identity.  

The bling was shiny. The opportunities were exciting. I thought it might be the right time to go in a new direction. 

Continued on Part II

Diva Marketing Blog Acquired .. Almost! Part II


Continuted from Part I

To sell Diva Marketing Or not to sell Diva Marketing. The bling was shiny. The opportunities were exciting. I thought it might be the right time to go in a new direction. 

While the bling might have been shiny the opening offer was quite a bit lower than I'd imagined. Of course one always thinks their bebe is the most beautiful and worth the Hope Diamond or at least a closet filled with Jimmy Choos. By the way, did you know that Jimmy Choo oganized a Foursquare scavenger hunt in London last year? But I digress. 

Valuating Diva Marketing was a challenge for me. How much is a blog worth? For The X Man traffic was the most important element. Unlike traditional publishers who place a premium on your network, The X Man never asked about RSS subscriptions or my network reach. 

I countered his offer. He came back with some more bling. Not as much as I would have liked but more interesting. After many eMails and behind the scenes work I thought we were at the end of the yellow brick blogosphere road and the doors of the Emerald City were close to opening. For sale by owner

The doors didn't open. The deal didn't go through. That's okay. When I ask why, they chose not to go forward The X Man sent this eMail.

Email 9a diva marketing acquire
A little confusing considering the opening, but ...  

Lessons Learned: If you want to sell your blog host on your own site. 

Lessons learned: For most deals,traffic counts as a prime means of valuation. 

Secret Sauce For Traffic. Everyone who's been in this business for more than 30 seconds knows the secret sauce for traffic is a function of the number of times you posts. Throw in a little SEO and you've got N-U-M-B-E-R-S. If your goal is to sell your blog that may be enough. However, if your goal is to build relationships, establish credibility, service your customers, traffic may not be your silver bullet.

As for The X Man. I gave him some advice on how make his tweets more effective .. add links. Perhaps he's now counting his Twitter Followers. 

As for Diva Marketing. Perhaps a partnership with a brand that wants to reach a targeted community might be a better fit. Open to possibilities. Who knows where the yellow brick road of the blogosphere will lead?

Pink boa At the end of the day it sure was nice to be wanted.  A toss of a pink boa to Diva Marketing!

Friday Fun: Marketing Irreverence


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.

Recently, Fard Johmar, Path of the Blue Eye, told me he liked the sometimes quirkiness of Diva Marketing and the dash of irreverence and fun -- especially on Fridays. Since life is too serious these days .. Friday Fun is back .. at least more often than not. 

For today's Friday Fun, let's take a look as some slightly different, slightly off the wall marketing, customer loyalty (sort of..maybe..we'll see) campaigns and an in your face ad site. 

Do the airline over-booked bump! Cha Cha Cha. Delta Airlines, my home town airline, has a new approach towards appeasing customers if their flight has been over booked. No more first to run up to the gate agent with a bag full of Dunkies or Krispy Kremes donuts wins.

Nope, when passengers electronically check in they can join an auction. People indicate how much money they'd be willing to accept to change flights. Delta, of course, will choose the lowest bidder. Question: what's the value of a "free"airline ticket and more time spent at the airport? By the way, don't bother searching details on .. no where to be found.  WSJ

Your ad will change the world .. not! It's rare to find an ad copywriter who isn't in love with his own words. Rarer to find a creative director who doesn't totally believe her concept will win the next Addy, create world peace and get Jimmy Choo to name a shoe after her. 

Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising is a cool site that looks at the ad game with humor and reminds us not to take it too seriously. Here's my fav!  Advertising what people dont day Toss of a pink diva boa to BL Ochman for link to the site.




Here I come .. ready or not! Winter + Films + Boots = Fun & Games! Seems to me that as we "mature" we often loose the sense of play. Perhaps that's why marketers turn to fun & games as a means to differentiate. The scavenger hunt, a game that is centuries old, is a favorite to morph into a experience brand campaign.

The lastest scavenger hunt is sponsored by Sorel, a company known for its beautiful boots that "take care of you." I rather like that tag line.   

Sorel logo The 2011 spin that Sorel created includes a virtual scavenger hunt through augment reality. It's complete with the social and tech stuff like QR codes and Facebook .. of course. The coolest part is the venue .. the Sundance Film Festival. Players will look for the logo bears all over the city. Maybe a photo of Robert Redford will earn extra points! 

For Sundance fans .. here's an app for you!

Sidebar: Why oh why don't brands include their cool social media campaigns on their websites? Home page presence above the fold would be a very good thing.

2011 A Year Of Possibilities


  • Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. ~ Raymond Lindquist

What is it about saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming a new one? It's not as though the time blocks on your calendar are blank waiting to be filled. I'm betting meetings, conference calls, coffee chats, lunches and trips were booked months ago.

Before there was Facebook or Twitter or YouTube videos there was the new years eve "community." On December 31st it seems like the entire world comes together to celebrate. And although we may have our own unique hopes, for a few moments we dream together. 

That spirit is what the creators of social networks and online communities strive to achieve. The next social media campaign you create keep in mind that real success is in the magic of people coming together. How you make that happen is never from putting the "messaging first." Sometimes it takes looking through a new lens .. letting go of what you've done before.

Champange bottle On this 1st day of 2011, I'd like to offer a toast to the possibilities of the new year!

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Wello WaterWheel


Stars As 2010, wraps up, so does Diva Marketing's Stories From Smaller Nonprofit Series. This was the second year we had the privilege of providing opportunities for lesser known not for profits to tell their stories .. in their own way. In keeping with Diva Marketing's focus to help people understand how to better use social media, each nonprofit also kindly shared their social media experiences and lessons learned. 

A popular line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner sets the stage for our last story. Water water everywhere nor any drop to drink. An invention, that is as as simple but as brilliant as the wheel, is about to help people in rural poverty areas bring water to their homes. Not only will the Wello WaterWheel make life easier but it's impact will change culture. Powerful. 

The Story of Wello WaterWheel is told by Seanwood1 Sean Wood. Sean is the founder of Freeworld Media in Atlanta. Freeworld is a social media boutique with an advanced perspective on how consumer marketing connects with science and art for measurable social business results."

You’ve probably seen pictures of women carrying 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads from distant water sources back to their homes.  This image is an everyday reality for people around the world that live in developing areas of Africa, India and other regions where water is hard to find. 

Access to clean water is one of the biggest global issues of the 21st century and moving water from the closest water source can take up much of the day. When women and children carry water buckets on their heads, it often leads to serious neck and spinal injuries

I met Cynthia Koenig, founder of Wello, a couple of years ago after she had worked in rural South Africa on water issues like access, sanitation and transportation.  When she returned to the US, Cynthia created the international non-profit group called the Wello WaterWheel to improve water transportation. (Photo of Cynthia Koenig)Cynthia Koenig

This simple barrel-like device helps people in developing countries transport 20 gallons of water at a time.  Because the Wello shortens the amount of time needed to transport water, it allows more time for education, which has a positive impact on the lives people, their families and their communities. 

After the Wello pilot program launched this summer in the Indian state of Rajasthan, a local 45-year old woman said ..

  • "There's a lot of daily work I have to do and with extra time [that the WaterWheel would provide], I could have more cattle because I'd have time to take care of them. This would increase my income. Also, with more time and increased livestock, young girls can go to school."

 As a social business, Freeworld Media donates 10% of our resources to support global causes as part of our social responsibility.  We created and executed digital marketing initiatives for Wello that raised funds and promoted the project around the world.  Most recently, it was featured at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative.

Social Media Does Social Good

Wello Wheel
 2010 has been an active year for strategic planning, rebranding, creating manufacturing and distribution networks, and working on a sustainable business model. 

Wello completed a rebranding in September… and thanks to social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, the transition was seamless. We were able to keep the public abreast of the changes taking place with the venture, and as a result, most people have responded to our new look with "great new name" instead of "what's Wello?”


This was a huge advantage, since it enabled our small team to stay focused on day-to-day operations and on laying the groundwork for our 2011 pilot in India.” Cynthia Koenig

 The social media plan for 2011 includes streamlining social media to produce more consistent content through blogs, video networks and encourage conversations on Facebook and Twitter. The Wello WaterWheel can make a tremendous impact in the developing world and to help offset production costs, Wello seeks corporate sponsors and private donors.  

Wello logo


Learn more about the Wello WaterWheel Website Twitter Facebook YouTube


Read more small nonprofit stories. 
Thanks to Taylor's Tale for the use of the Magical Stars. 

Interview with Mark Levy, Author of Accidental Genius


Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~ Lewis Carroll

Mark LevyLewis Carrol would be right at home chatting with Mark Levy. I have no doubt that between the two of them they would have thought of at least twenty impossible things before breakfast.

So who is Mark Levy? Glad you asked. Mark is the founder of Levy Innovation, a marketing strategy firm that helps entrepreneurial companies increase their fees by up to 2,000%.

David Meerman Scott calls him “a positioning guru extraordinaire.” Fast Company Expert Blogger, Cali Yost, says “Mark helped me rethink my entire business in a day. He’s a miracle worker.”

Mark has written for the New York Times, and has authored or co-created five books. His latest is the newly revised and expanded edition of “Accidental Genius: using Writing to Get to Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content.” The book helps liberate businesspeople from their status quo thinking. 

In his interview for Diva Marketing, Mark not only shares his insights about creativity in business but gives us a holiday gift .. a special free writing exercise that will take our posts, tweets or campaigns to the next level. 

Diva Marketing: Creativity is an illusive concept. What does creativity mean to Mark Levy?

Mark Levy: Creativity is looking at a situation from an unusual perspective. It’s making connections among phenomena that may not have any organic connection. It’s following the logical progression of an idea until the reality of that idea falls apart and you have to start guessing as to what might happen next. It’s stepping off the worn path that your thinking typically follows, so you can surprise and disorient yourself – and thus stumble upon something new.

The best way to be creative and summon up a good idea is to come up with lots of ideas first. Think of creativity as a numbers game rather than a quality game.

When you’re being creative, you’re going to make a mountain of mistakes. Turns out, though, that your mountain isn’t really composed of mistakes. It’s composed of the steps you needed to take to reach your golden idea.

It’d be nice if the mind could create more efficiently, wouldn’t it? But the mind isn’t orderly. To arrive at something novel, you need to take leaps: some logical, some illogical.

Diva Marketing: When I think about being creative, my thoughts turn to the arts. How would you describe a creative ‘business person?’

Mark Levy: Most businesspeople seldom get a chance to be creative, because they have to follow their organization’s routines and protocols. Sometimes, though, those routines and protocols fail, and the businesspeople have to get creative in a hurry. (For instance, they have to figure out how to unblock a bottleneck in manufacturing, or think up a way of entering a market that’s kept them out.)

For most businesspeople, then, having to create is tough. Why?

For one thing, since they haven’t been asked to create anything all that often, trying to come up with something new can be intimidating.

But even more important: Most businesspeople don’t know any techniques that’ll help them create. They’re told to “innovate” or “think different” or “be creative,” and that’s all the guidance they’re given. Good luck.

Trying to create without knowing any techniques is like trying to cook without pots and pans and utensils. Sure, it’s possible, but why make things so needlessly difficult?

There are hundreds of creativity techniques out there. Businesspeople need to play with a few, and practice the ones that seem natural to them. Natural is key. When a fast-breaking problem presents itself, you don’t want to rely on a technique that’s too complicated to remember or is arduous to use. The right techniques are a joy to use.

Diva Marketing: In your new book, Accidental Genius, you approach problem solving with a unique and creative technique .. freewriting. First, please tell us what is freewriting.

Mark Levy: Freewriting helps us beat our internal editor.

See, inside each of us is an internal editor that does an important job: it edits what we think and say as we think and say it, so we look smart and consistent to other people. For the most part, our editor draws upon the same thoughts over and over again, because those thoughts have worked for us in the past.

As helpful as our editor is, there’s a time when it gets in our way.  It hurts us in those situations that call for thoughts that are different from those we normally use.

The editor won’t let us think potentially valuable new thoughts, because those thoughts are untested. By keeping things predictable, the editor unintentionally keeps us stuck. It guarantees that – if we keep going the way we’re going -- we’ll never be able to solve certain problems.

Freewriting, then, is a journaling technique that temporarily pushes the editor into the background, so we can get at our more honest and unusual thoughts. From these thoughts, we can create intriguing and often valuable solutions. Accidental genius by mark levy

Diva Marketing: Can you tell us a story of how freewriting has been used to help solve a business challenge?

Mark Levy: One of my favorite stories: An executive vice president was trying to win pay raises for his entire department. Who did he have to pitch to? The organization’s Board of Directors, which included the former head of The Federal Reserve Bank, Alan Greenspan.

As you can imagine, the vice president was a wreck.

Instead of biting his nails, though, he prepared for his meeting. He bought a pen and a notebook, and every night for a week he’d do an hour of freewriting about what might happen in that meeting.

So, he’d quickly write about who was in the room, and what he’d say to them, and how they’d respond, and how he’d counter any arguments they presented. He didn’t softball the situation. In each night’s scenario, he had the Board raise the toughest objections they could, and he’d answer them.

By the time the meeting rolled around, he’d felt as if he had already lived it. He was confident that there was nothing that they could throw at him that he couldn’t handle.

He did his pitch, they loved it, and he won the raises. 

Diva Marketing: It’s not unusual for people who routinely develop social media content to hit a writer's block. How would you suggest using freewriting to discover new ideas?

Mark Levy: You can use freewriting in dozens of ways to create new material. Here’s an exercise your readers can do immediately.

Open a blank document in your computer, and set a timer for seven minutes. You’re about to start writing, but first some ground rules:

  • No one is going to see what you’re writing unless you want them to, so be honest and bold.
  • Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
  • Don’t worry if what you’re writing is interesting or even coherent.
  • Write as fast as you can for the full seven minutes, without stopping for any reason. (As Ray Bradbury says, “In quickness there is truth.”)
  • And, if during the writing you feel like digressing, by all means follow those digressions.

In essence, I want you to approach the page without worrying about the normal rules of writing. You’re using it as a means of watching yourself think. If you write something “good,” well, that’s a bonus. It’s not necessary.

What, then, are you going to write about?


That is, think about your usual subject, start the timer, and begin putting down image after image as they appear in your mind. When one of those images seems promising, write about it. Describe what you see, and take guesses as to why you’re seeing it.

For instance, suppose you normally write about prospecting. Start your seven minute timer, and begin hitting the keys. Perhaps you’ll write:

“This guy Levy tells me to write about images. OK. Sounds like a plan. But what images come to mind when I think about “prospecting”?

Well, I think of Jane, my latest client, and how I met her at that social media conference and how she wants me to build a sales funnel for her company. So I could write about her.

But another image just came to mind. I teach people how to prospect for clients, but the word prospecting is really just a metaphor. It’s probably from the gold rush of the Nineteenth Century. So I see an unshaven prospector crouching in a river bed, the water running past him, using a pan to sift for gold.

Prospecting for gold. I never thought about that analogy before. How is prospecting for clients like prospecting for gold? How is it different? Well, gold prospectors would have to leave their old lives behind them, because they had to live in the mountains for a year or more. When prospecting for clients . . . “

Images often get to ideas that we know implicitly, but haven’t yet made explicit. By following the call of images, we can create rough-draft material that, for us, is genuinely original and has inherent drama.

By the way, if you don’t come up with anything interesting in the first seven minutes, don’t fret. Do another seven minutes. And another. The more images and ideas and stories you pour onto the paper, the more likely you are to come across something you can use.

Continue the conversation with Mark on his blog and on Twitter @@levyinnovation.

Thanks to Nettie Hartsock for introducing me to Mark. In social media disclosure, Mark sent me a comp copy of the Accidental Genius. In all candor, it's more than a great read. It's a problem solving solution that works!