The Story of Max, The Social Media Dog


Max_52010Max came into my life about 13 years ago. I wasn’t looking for him and the truth is I really didn’t want him. Nor did I think I needed him.





 But some times life gives you unexpected, wonderful surprises.

Max turned out to be the best gift a client ever gave me. I just didn't know it at the time. When I first met Max he was a year old raggity rescue dog  that my client Alf Nucifora insisted I take home “just to see.” Since no one says "no" to Alf, I took Max home for just a few days -- “just to see.”

That first night Max and I were invited to dinner at a friend’s where Max was of course the guest of honor. I asked seven year old Katie if I should keep the little pup. In the very serious way of a little girl who has been asked an important question by a grown-up, she nodded and said, “Yes. Now you won’t be alone.”

So I kept the funny, little, white Westie with the big brown eyes and black button nose who would bring laughter and joy into my life. The vet call Max the gentleist terrier she had ever met. Yes, I did fall in love with Max. But little did I know that Max was about to help me and change my life in more ways than I imagined.  

In social media we talk a lot about “humanizing” content through personal experiences. Many people incorporate their kids and family. Some bloggers include their exciting travel experiences while others have a nack of inviting us into their day-to-day life.


For me that humanization was via Max. Max found his way into Diva Marketing posts. He was the catalyst to marketing and social media lessons from customer loyalty to experiments in video where Max became a bit of a YouTube Rock Star. Watch Best Friends Max The Dog and Tab The Cat! "I think everyone should have a best friend."

Max on Diva Marketing

I had no idea to the extent readers of Diva Marketing were enjoying the Max posts and building a relationship with Max until I attended a BlogHer conference. A prominent blogger came running up to greet me and the first thing she asked about was Max. Not me. Not my blog. Not my experiences at the BlogHer event. I must admit I was thrown off and couldn’t fathom who she was talking about until I realized it as Max!

Max became sort of a social media mascot with a bit of a fan club. After reading so many social media books, Max even become social media savvy!

Max twitterville
Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart

I think the authors I interviewed liked the photos of Max reading their reading their books more than my interviews with them! Author and social media expert Brian Solis asked for the photo of Max reading his book "Business As Usual" to drop on his Facebook page.

  Max Brian Solis on Facebook

Max left my life last September. He was 14.5 years old. I didn’t know you could care so much about a little puppy. Needless to say I miss him every day. Please excuse the virtual tear drops.

“So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near-- Max 14 birthday 1_15 b
Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."
Yes, that is so," said the fox.
But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
Yes, that is so," said the fox.
Then it has done you no good at all!"
It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields.”  ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

This post was inspired from Darren Rowes, ProBlogger, #BloggingGroove Challenge to create a story post. Immediately I knew my story had to be about Max.



Max's 14th Birthday

Social Media Listening Beyond Your Product


Max and tag With almost 14 thousand views, my dog Max might qualify as a "D list" YouTube rock star! His circle of friends (not to be confused with a Google+ circle) includes people, dogs and cats (totally his video!). His howling "song" is a throwback to his wolf ancestory.

Oh yes, his breed is White West Highland and at 10 years old the vet is calling him a "senior" dog. Shh .. please don't tell him that he is sure he is still a pup.

Did you notice that when I described Max his breed and age (demographics) came last?

When you think about your customers how do you describe and catorgize them? What comes first in your customer profile: age, sex, income .. traditional demograhics? Or do you take into consideration their interests, networks and passions beyond your product or service?

Let's spin this into social media marketing. We frequently use social media "listening" to learn what customers are saying about our products and services, to identify trends and to build relationships. All good.

However, we have amazing opportunities to also see into the lives of our customers and prospects that go beyond tradtional research and our own company/product information. We can learn about our customers' passions, see who is in their social networks e.g., friends, likes, follows, circles. The clues we discover can lead to exciting new opportunities.  

For example, would you think that Max's friends included kitty cats?  Now you know. What would that mean if you were in the pet industry? Are there more dogs who like cats? What products might you create to tap into that market .. friendship collars? Treats for both cats and dogs? 

Here's another great example. When you think about Grandmamas what comes to mind? Blue hair ladies drinking tea and baking cookies? How about motorcyle riding mamas?! 

MSN Business on Main profiles "Grandmama" Kathy Tolleson the owner of Roar Motorcyles For Women. Roar is the first company that designs and manufactures customize motorcycles exclusively for women. Pop over for the story. Motorcyle_Kathy ROAR

What would have happened if Kathy had focused on demographics only instead of the passions of her customers? Would she have tapped into women over forty? Over fifty? Over sixty?  Roar has a social media presence that (I would assume) helps Kathy continue to understand the interests of her customers. (Hmm..thinking Kathy would be a great guest for All The Single Girlfriends' Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends series.)

Motorbikes are not so much my deal, but If I were to ride I'd want the biggest, baddest bike on the lot. Max, of course, would be uber cool in a little back jacket and helmet! 

Are you taking advantage of Social Media Listening beyond your product or service? If so what have you learned about your customers?

Note: Yvonne DiVita, Lipsticking, has a cool contest going .. you can win $100 for your comment about why women should own and ride motorcycles.

Update: See how KLM is listening and learning about their customers. In a strategy that turns little kindnesses into big smiles and I'm betting results in loyalty.  

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.

Friday Fun: Top 13 Reasons to Halloween "Toilet Paper" A Social Media Strategy


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.

Max halloween 09In the spirit of David Letterman's Top Ten ...

13. A zillion landing page blogs are pretending to be social media .. take off the mask and you find a search strategy built on a blog platform

12. A comment that lists a company name instead of a person is likely looking for link treats not a relationship.

11. Facebook "fan" pages with posts lifted from corporate brochures and press releases is just another tricky search strategy.

10. Nondisclosure of paid posts or reviews of comp'ed products services comes with tricks of its own .. a big fat FTC fine  Make sure you are up to date on the law or your compensation treat will pay for your legal fees.

9. The trick is on the Twitter automatic followers .. no one cares about you - BOO!

8. No @s in your Tweet stream is a sign that you 1. have few friends to play with or 2. don't know how to share treats with others.

7. Not linking to sources sites or including RT (re-tweet @s) is another signal that you don't know how to play well with others.

6. Barbs on the "Back Channel" that don't help move the conversation along in a win-win for the audience and speaker is a clue that you want all the candy for yourself.

5.  Not listening to your customers' who take time to express their pleasure and concerns in the social world is a sad trick for both customer and company. 

4. Not building social enterprise processes to ensure the impact of social media lessons are shared across multiple departments is like not sharing your Halloween candy.

3. Emphasizing measurements that don't align with your objectives and goals are like getting socks instead of candy.

2. Discounting the relationships you build and networks that you (and your customers) participate in are as real and valuable as any offline is like wearing the same costume year after year after year.

And the Number One Reason To Halloween Toilet Paper A Social Media Strategy ...

1. Forgetting to say "thank you" to your customers, employees, fans and friends who shared their Halloween candy with you.

Max and I wish you a Halloween filled with lots of treats and few tricks!

Interview with Adam and Wendy Leidhecker, Paw Luxury


Last weekend I had the opportunity to talk about two of my passions .. social media marketing and Max_may_06 Max! I was invited to speak to a group of small business owners attending the Luxury Pet Pavilion conference in Atlanta.

My Challenge: I knew that most of the people attending my session would walk in the door knowing about social networks like MySpace and Facebook. However, based on conversations with the conference manager, I knew that few people would have connected the virtual dots .. how to use social media as a credible business strategy.

My Goal: To help bring home the point that turning Flickr, YouTube, social networking communities, blogs, widgets and other fun online toys into online tools could help build their businesses through the most powerful strategy .. relationships. I wanted the people to walk out the door jazzed to explore the possibilities of including social media marketing.

Pawluxury_logo I reached out to Adam & Wendy Leidhecker, owners of the eCommerce site Paw Luxury, who I "found" in my Twitter Travels. In addition to tweeting, the Leidheckler are active in several other social networks.

Paw Luxury is a niche player (eco dog products) in a very fragmented and crowded space (pet products). I was curious to hear their story and some of their lessons learned that I could pass along.  Adam and Wendy, with help from Lola,  kindly answered a few questions and also gave me their point of view about how to best use Twitter. Thanks Adam, Wendy and Lola for agreeing to let me post our interview on Diva Marketing.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Please tell me a little about your online business at Paw Luxury and the people, and of course Lola, behind it.

Paw Luxury: Paw Luxury specializes in selling earth friendly products. We offer quality products that are stylish, durable, all natural, organic, holistic, sustainable, biodegradable, fair trade, and Made in the USA. Our motto is "healthy dog, healthy earth, and happier life". We feature all of these eco-friendly in convenient easy to shop destination on our website.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You must be the poster "pet child" when it comes to using social media with a presence on: Facebook MySpace Dogster Flickr Linkin and Twitter! Which camPawluxurye first the blog - Lola the eco dog or the communities?

Paw Luxury: We did social networking first then our community of friends wanted to stay in touch more and thats where blogging came in.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why participate in so many social networks?

Paw Luxury: It allows you to connect with people of the same interest, meet people with different
interest, engage in interesting conversation as well as being a great networking tool. People love to feel like they're part of something, a community and family and that is what social networks do. Our community and animal lovers are members of different networks not just one or all.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Which one do you feel you are getting the most bark for you time?  (ouch! did I really say that?) Why?

Paw Luxury: Twitter has been a great tool. The connections we made on Twitter are irreplaceable and people get to know us on an even more personal level. Even Lola the eco dog has her Twitter account and she gets to bark with her pup pals.

Toby/Diva Marketing: If you would drop one which would it be and way?

Paw Luxury: At this point we have so many unique friends at all of our social networks that we could not discontinue using any of them. Because each social networking is unique and has different feature and meets different needs.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Everyone always wants to know about the time. How much time do you average in say a week posting, reading, etc blogs, communities, tweets?

Paw Luxury: In the beginning while we were in the building stages of setting up the communities we would sometimes spend full days over weeks. Now that our networks are fairly established we are on everyday, because when you join a social community people love hearing from you and want to be a part of your lives. Now that's amazing!

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let's talk Twitter. Why are you including micro blogging?

Paw Luxury:  Its fun to hear what people are doing at that very moment and we enjoy getting updates from our followers and people we are following. Also, we are able to get instant feedback and ask question and the community is always their a second click of the mouse to help. As business we wanted to always be transparent.

Twitter is great for getting news briefing, friend sourcing when you are looking for services, micro-attention sharing to let people know about your latest blog post or something funny and entertaining you found on the web. But also serves as a great way to spread the word about a good cause, for us saving the planet.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I've noticed that there are quite a few "pet tweeters." Is there a pet tweet community?

Paw Luxury: Yes, many pet lovers, owners and even their pets have their own twitter account.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How do you find new followers?

Paw Luxury: Now that we have a presence many find us. However, we do search a website called for people talking about their dog. We like to find people that need pet advice from stinky dog to itchy dog or just someone to talk to. Also many of the blogs that we read and get in our Google reader those individuals have tweet accounts and we add them. Then it becomes a ripple effect and people start spreading the word about you.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What advice would you give to a small business owner, be it in the pet industry or not, for why she/he should embrace social media?

Paw Luxury: Its an excellent way to connect personally and directly with your demographic. Especially if you are internet business and your customers are online.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Where would you suggest a newbie start?

Paw Luxury: We would suggest you start slow and get to know the ends and outs of the social network you
are working on. Whatever social network you are using look for people you know first or share similar interest and start genuine conversation.

When starting out using Twitter it is not advisable to follower 10,000 people just because you want them to follow you back. Because most likely they will think you are a spammer. If you can connect on a real level with one to five people a day who will follow, it may take a long time to build up your community, but in the long run you will have longer lasting valuable friends.

Because we believe that it is not about the quantity but about the quality of relationships being built, this has paid off for us.

Pawluxury_lola More About Eco Friendly Paw Luxury and Lola!

What was our inspiration? Evolving from the overwhelming love of our beautiful, loyal, carefree, lovable and cuddly boxer named Lola, Paw Luxury was born. As proud parents we wanted to give Lola the best nature had to offer but found it difficult to find eco-friendly products under one roof. So we went
sniffing with Lola, searched high and low and dug a few holes along the way. Then we thought to ourselves why not create a one-stop online destination that caters to the need for healthy alternatives. Now
these eco-friendly pet products are accessible and can be puchased at

We wanted to remain true to the motto "healthy dog, healthy earth, happier life." This idea, now a reality, was to sell products that both us and Lola have come to love; products inspired by nature with the everyday dog in mind. But we didn't want to stop there, we wanted to strive to offer products sourced and manufactured primarily in the USA, while treading lightly and making a contribution to better the world and the people in it.

What is in a name? Our name, Paw Luxury, is inspired by the commonality that pets and humans in a sense both have paws that need love to. We define "luxury" as your dog living the good life, it's all about wellness with some pampering thrown in. We believe you can fuse green living with the cachet and comforts of luxury living-for a healthier life now and for future generations.

White On White or Max In The Snow


It's always a function of perception. What is great customer service to me may be horrors to you. What is a snow storm for me in Atlanta may seem like flurries to my friends in Boston or in Canada or in New York State.




For Max the inch of snow that fell in Atlanta yesterday seemed like a blizzard.

Lessons Learned: Don't assume that your perception about your product/service is the same as your customer's experience.


Consumer Generated Media .. It's The Real Thing


In  the summer of 2006, Coke_world Coca Cola learned a lesson that reflects it's 1970 tagline "It's The Real Thing" when EppyBird dumped a bunch of Mentos in some diet coke bottles and created a viral video that rocked the fizz off of the World's Most Valuable Brand.
Sidebar: Being Reasonable has an interesting post about the history of Coke taglines.

Coke executives saw first hand how consumers can take over the perception of a carefully crafted brand message. The Real Thing was what the consumers made it .. not the message controlled by the brand. Even a brand as powerful as Atlanta-based Coca Cola.  Read more: Media Post article (free registration required)

The story's gone round and round from blog-to-blog for months. What is new is the lessons learned that Tom Daly, Coca Cola Global Interactive Marketing, shared at the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association, AiMA, meeting last week. Congrats! to Wade Forst, Spunlogic, who chaired the event.

Tom's presentation focused on Coke's entree into consumer generated branding. His talk was especially interesting to me since we had volleyed emails last summer about the Diet Coke/Mentos buzz on the blogopshere. I encouraged him to join the conversation but seems Coke wasn't ready go that route.

Sidebar: An organization's culture is a major determining factor of when (let's not say "if") employees can actively participate. In the meantime, monitoring the discussion is the first step and Coke is doing that. But that's a post for another day.*

Tom described two video strategies. The first was "Poetry in Motion Challenge" hosted and judged by the EppyBird Guys.Coke_holiday_vcard

The second was a winter holiday v-card (video) strategy -  Holiday Wishcast - developed in conjunction with YouTube. Coke provided people with the opportunity to create viral v-cards on YouTube. Video insert options included creating your own, downloading a YouTube video or a classic Coke commercial.  Max loved this CGM video where the pooch sings carols .. he joined right in .. virtual worlds and offline worlds intersecting!

People could then choose to send their cards to friends and relatives or share them with the world at  Coca Cola's Wishcast site. As with text e-cards the v-cards could be customized with a personal  greeting.

Marketing included traditional, interactive and blogger relations: press campaigns by YouTube and Coca-Cola, targeted search and online marketing, animated Web ads, communication to influential bloggers and podcasters. In addition Coke's presence on the v-card provided a viral reinforcement of offering.

7 Lessons Learned
Branding 2.0: The New Online Community

1. This is Complex - It’s complex and it carries risk

  • The campaign was designed quickly, with holiday-driven dates as immovable.
  • Many corporate and business functions were impacted, and mitigation strategies to distribute workload and traffic with partners made design and execution even more complex.

2. Fish Where the Fish Are - Stop trying to get them into your pool first. The prize isn’t the Prize. The Experience is the Prize

  • The campaign offered intuitive user experiences. 
  • Coke saw immensely more engagement and response to calls to action in this one promotion than in all other efforts to date combined. 

3. Users Love to Watch Our Ads - More than they hate advertising.

  • No contest was run – no finalists, no judges, no prizes. 
  • Everybody “won” and the reward was near-immediate.

4. Play to the Team’s Sweet Spots - More team is easier than wrong team.

  • Partners were asked to complete tasks that were within a narrowed scope.

5. Leverage Search - Especially for things you just invented.

  • Targeted and refined paid search drove a great deal of traffic from outside of YouTube – billions of impressions were achieved for very reasonable cost through strategic buys and continuous refinement. 
  • Since Coke invented and trademarked the term Wishcast, and launched the first V-card offering – neither of these were going to move the needle in any type of Search algorithm. Ancillary terms e.g.,  e-card, greetings, video were bought.

6. Understand Consumers’ Multiple Motives for Engaging  - Get ok with them.

  • Create offerings which leave room for all user types to enjoy engaging and tolerate coexistence

7. Let Consumers Defend You - They are more passionate and authentic anyway.

  • In multiple viral video initiatives similar patterns were observed: early comments skewed towards brand critics testing the tolerance of the brand.
  • When the brand established that it would not intervene to remove the criticism, consumer advocates arise in response and overwhelm critics in dialog.

Diva Comment: Coke learned that social media / the blogosphere self corrects.

Yes, I realize there was no RSS feed. Yes, I realize that Coke did not actively participate in the conversation (see above*).  Yes, I realize that for some the strategies Coca Cola implemented may seem like teeny steps, but for an organization that is known for doing things by the corporate book it is a giant leap and an entree into what may lead to other "social" aspects of social media marketing.

Yes, divas and divos, there is a difference between consumer generated content and social media. The difference between social media and consumer generated content is the integration of the people within the organization to exchange ideas with customers and other stakeholders.

Thanks to David Vanderpoel, North Highland. On Web Marketing, for provide the sides which included that above text.  North Highland is the management consulting firm that assisted in the development and execution of the strategies.

Friday Fun: Everyone Needs A Best Friend


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.

Best_friends_max_the_dog_and_tab_the_cat_3Friday Fun wraps up a week that began with a post, Social Media Networking, about how to make friends online and ends with the importance of Best Friends complements of Max, my Westie pup and his best friend Tab the Cat.

Max and Tab romp and run and wrestle as seven year old Lindsay (Tag's person) tells their story. It's a feel good watch that I hope you enjoy and brings a smile to the start of a wonderful weekend.

This one is special for Max's fans .. especially Wayne Hurlbert and his sweet mom in Canada, Alf Nucifora who insisted Max would be perfect for me, and Donna Lyons-Miller (GourmetStation) her husband Jeff and the Royals who take such good care of him when I'm On The Road.

Now the marketer comes out .. let's spin this with a little experiment. I don't know about you but I am really curious to understand how those little YouTube videos bubble up. Is it the number of views? The voting?  I can't even pull this video up in a category search. I have not a clue how anyone found it.

Best Friends: Max The Dog and Tag The Cat Stats: 2:25p, 3/9/07 - Views: 63 Favorite: 1

Any help you can give to a viral or wom pass along to encourage people to view the video would be appreciated. Periodically I'll post updated stats. Let's make Max a featured YouTube Favorite!



business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

Today Venus trines Saturn which is good for being objective and practical in business matters. This is a good week to take the opportunity to be alone and contemplate your business strategies. What are your goals? What is working and what isn’t working?

Enjoy your week. Take time out of your busy schedule to relax and smell the coffee.