Social Media Does A Like = A Friendship?


Toby Bloomberg _Conference Atlanta
Today I had the honor of speaking about social media to a wonderful group of educators and people who work with children and school districts. Toss of a pink boa to Julie Hollis for coordinating a terrifc conference sponsored by Communites in Schools

This post was inspired by and dedicated to educators who are bravely stepping into an the exciting new world of social media; they're opening the doors for our children to learn in a different way. 

  • In order to develop meaningful relationships someone needs to take a risk. ~ Darcy Mullin, On Learning @darcymullin

I've spent the last couple of weeks preparing for this assignment by wandering about the "Social Media Education Village." I'm happy to report there is a vital, exciting, community where some innovative educators are doing creative work in the social web.

On the flip side, there are fears .. the same fears and concerns I've seen from people in other industries: negative comments, internal structure, governance, content, time and resources. Plus one more. How to keep our children safe in this new digital world that will be their home .. in one way or another.

It's a world where the importance of people-to-people connection is Not changing. However, how and where we communcate is different. Mobile smart phones and tablets are the baby steps to a generation beyond what we see now.

It's a world where the importance of keeping our children and ourselves safe is Not changing. However, how and where we create safe spaces and protect ourselves now includes the digital world .. which by the way, is just as real as offline.

It's a world where the importance of friendships is Not changing.  However, defining what friendship means when people we just met or who are friends of friends of friends want to connect with us. Or when a brand pretends to be a person and steps into the social networks where we have built community.  Do we have a new catagory of friend it  "social friendship?"

It's a world where the importance of privacy or what we share is Not changing. However, determining how much and with whom is becoming blurred. Or when an brand's app demands data from us (that might invade the privacy of the people within our online communities) in exchange for playing their games or gaining their information.

 At the end of the day I wonder, does the technology change who we are and what we can expect from this new media life? Or does the technology in an oxymoron way take us one step closer to our humanity?  Does a Like = a friendship?

Thanks to Sherry Heyl for the intro.

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.

Food Trucks R Coming! Conversation with James DiSabatino, Roxy Gourmet Grilled Cheese


"Amazing bread does great things for the world. Great bread is inspiring." - James DiSabation

Food truck_james and truck

James DiSabatino has a love affair with bread and cheese. It makes total sense when you find out that he's the owner of the Boston based food truck Roxy Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Barely 3-months out of the gate, Roxy was a contestant (and eventually a finalist) in the Food Network Great Food Truck Race.

James kindly agreed to juggle his packed days to judge Diva Marketing's marketing tips contest re: food trucks (sponsored by MSN Business On Main). The winner is highlighted below. Toss of a pink boa to Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe for the intro to James.

Last week James chatted with me about Roxy's back story, his philosophy on the food truck biz and of course using social media as a marketing tactic. We discovered that in addition to sharing a love of food and food trucks, we are also Emerson College alums .. and the world continues to spin smaller!

Diva Marketing/Toby: Roxy was so new why did you apply for a competition that put you up against more seasoned food truck owners?

James  DiSabatino: We didn't .. they recruited us. We thought it was a joke until we got the casting email. They were searching online and we kept coming up in their searches. Guess they liked the Boston focus and brothers from Boston who grilled cheese sandwiches and were in a rock band. 

Diva Marketing/Toby: So it seems that social media networks works. Twitter, Facebook not only pulled Roxy up in the search rankings but created an image the producers thought would make good TV.

I found it interesting that the Roxy guys were the only team wearing t-shirts that promoted their city not their brand. James told me although he pushed hard to wear Roxy t-shirts, the Food Network insisted the guys wear "Boston" shirts. They never really found out why. Who knows how producers' minds work?

Diva Marketing/Toby: What's the story behind the name Roxy?

James  DiSabatino: A tribute to someone in my life that I want to keep a mystery. People would come up to us and not ask who Roxy was but say things like .. so is Roxy a fill in the blank. They were making assumptions. I thought it would be a good idea to leave it up to their imaginations. Roxy could be anyone they wanted her to be.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Quite naturally grilled cheese lends itself to nostalgia positioning. Roxy's fun branding reflects what I'd call -- retro with an edge.

The Icon/Logo: An innocent young girl, wearing 1950's style pigtails, happily munches on a grilled cheese sandwich. But look closer and you'll find a skull and cross bones tatoo on her arm. The tat pays homage to Blood For Blood a favorite Roxy Boston band.

James was cautioned not to add the tat. Some people thought it could be risky. However, as James said to me, "We don't do safe."

Nope .. they sure don't. Not in their logo design nor in their food. As it turned out the icon fits perfectly with the positioning of a retro feel with contemporary flavorsFood Truck _Roxy twitter
So who are Roxy's clients? They run from college students to grandparents who bring their grandchildren along. Grilled cheese, even gourmet grilled cheese, crosses generations, "It's not a hard sell," James assured me.  

Diva Marketing/Toby: So James, what's your marketing deal? 

James DiSabatino: We never planned to spend any money on advertising and we never will. We wanted the experience to create awareness through our community and using social media. 

We take time to interact with our customers to help create an experience for them. It’s more than getting the food out the window. Our #1 priority is getting to know our customers one person at a time.

Our wait line is longer than most food trucks. It takes 3.5 minutes per side to grill the sandwich .. it’s just part of the experience. Customers hang out with each out and engage with each other .. creating community. I engage with people on line. I respond to tweets. I ask questions and sometimes get flavor ideas. We’re building culture online and offline. 

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Perhaps one day we'll find a Roxy grilled cheese sandwich named for a Twitter @! 

In addition to building community with and among Roxy's customers, James has a strong focus to support and give back to the communities that host the Roxy truck. Watch for the Roxy team to soon be involved with offline events. These events provide opportunities to earn money which will be donated to local causes. One of Jame's favorite causes is early childhood education. 

Diva Markting/Toby: What would you tell people who have not tried food truck food?

James DiSabatino: It's some of best food and the best food experience you'll have. No where else can you interact directly with the chef who is making your food.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Never thought about food trucks in quite that way. I might call food trucks a with the people food experience!

Drum beat please ... the moment we've been waiting ... for the winner of the marketing tips contest re: food trucks is Jane Genova! Jane $100 prize is sponsored by MSN Business On Main.

James DiSabatino's Food Truck Marketing Tips Response 

"As a food truck owner, and having spent years of research before opening, I never once asked myself "What should my marketing budget be?" While this may play an important role in restaurants, food trucks take on a different culinary role in the neighborhood.

Rather than wondering what you should be spending on marketing, a food truck owner should ask him or herself, "What do I need to fully engage my community?" If you're planning on opening a food truck, whether you're going to be the chef, the order taker, the expediter, you will be interacting with your customers directly. And to remain successful, you have to be an important part of the community you're serving in.

So based on my ideology, I choose number four, who suggests feeding the homeless. Rather than giving your money to someone else, you’re using your money to feed people in your community who can’t afford to eat themselves. It's all about community engagement, and bringing a community together is the number one priority a food truck should have if they want to stay in business. 

Runner up would be number two (Debra Gaynor), creating alliances to cater weddings. While 10 food trucks will split the money up quite a bit, two or three trucks offering catering services for weddings is an excellent idea. It gets a group of closely interconnected people (with large networks) excited about your business. This is a great grassroots marketing idea, because you have a public ready to spread the word, all while making money for the wedding!"

Jane genova
Jane Genova's Winning Food Truck Marketing Tip

TRUCK KITCHEN. One day a week for two hours, the truck distributes free servings in a neighborhood for the poor and homeless. But there’s more. Give a man a fish he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for life.

The food truck owner can teach a poor or homeless person to blog about the experience at the local public library. That account could be aired on television. Also, a poor or homeless can be taught to use a video camera and record how it is to be homeless. That could be edited for a documentary.

Thanks to all who participated .. you all offered ideas that could help Food Trucks roll into success .. or something like that. 

Continue the conversation with James and the Roxy Team!

Roxy's Grilled Cheese on Twitter

James DiSabation on Twitter

Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese Website

Food Network Great Food Truck Race

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.

Interview with Alex Brown Author Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy - Part 2


Part 2 of my interview with Alex Brown explores how he incorporated social media to create awareness for his book, the Barbao community, horse slaughter and Laminitis the disease that killed Barbaro. (Part 1 tells the back-story of why Alex wrote the book and how he created an engaged community of thousands.) 

Alex Brown_book jacket Greatness and Goodness Barbaro and his Legacy Diva Marketing/Toby:  Let’s talk about the book, which by the way, I loved! Greatness and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy may be an extension of the digital world that Fans of Barbaro built, however, it is still an entity on to itself. 

How is your approach towards marketing/creating awareness different with the book versus the site?

Alex Brown: This is something I am learning as I am going along.  With the book I had an initial advantage, I already had a large community.  Many of those within the community were waiting to buy the book as it was launched. And I added a facebook fan page for the book to keep people updated with its progress.

I also created an extensive schedule for book signings, visiting many racetracks and timing the launch around the excitement of this year's Triple Crown.  So there was a traditional component to the marketing campaign.  This year marks the five year anniversary since Barbaro's great win, so that timing helped also. 

I was able to get some pretty good media exposure.  I also had a few reviews of the book done, which helped.  Each time there was a review, or article about the book, or a book signing event to talk about, I would update the facebook fan page, my own profile page, the main site and so forth. I was busy, getting good coverage, and also able to use the social media tools to make it all look busy and successful. 

The major downside is I self published (great advantages to doing that) which means I really don't have access to the major retail stores. The book is on Amazon, we recently eclipsed 500 sales on Amazon.  Alex Brown_book signing Barbaro

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In terms of general marketing, and of course social media, what tactics/tools are giving you the biggest impact for time you invest?

Alex Brown: I don't think there is one tactic which has proven most successful.  The key has been to keep the community constantly updated with progress with the book, keep the interest front and center.  Going quiet about the book would potentially be fatal. 

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s talk the “C” words .. content creation. Are you leveraging the content from the book, social platforms, and even online media, to support the book promotion (and feed your social networks)? If so how?

Alex Brown: I have a book excerpt that I have made available on the internet. I think that has helped.  I have promoted its availability through the many channels I use.  As I noted earlier, anytime there is a review, or feedback on the book, I push that out through the channels.

It is funny though, as hard as I try, and as deliberate as I am about push all the content back out, there are many in the community who do not see the content. I guess it is like traditional marketing, your customer has to see something multiple times before it truly registers. 

I am also exploring e-version ideas for the book, and hoping they help cross-sell the hard cover book.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Your own story is fascinating and inspirational. The digital platforms you created, as well as your book, have turned into catalysts for several “for the greater good” purposes: the legacy of Barbaro, dreaded Laminitis disease and education about horse slaughter. 

What extent did the internet and social media play .. wondering if this could have been accomplished without a digital presence?

Alex Brown: Its role has been fundamental.  This could never have happened otherwise.  That's the short and long answer.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Alex, you get the last word .. wrap it up any way you’d like my friend.

Alex Brown: Thanks for all your support. I cannot remember how long ago it was when you started speaking to my class at Udel (over the internet), it would be fun to revisit what we talked about then. 

The fascinating aspect of social media it is keeps evolving and improving.  Now I have to figure out this Google+ thingy!

Continue the Conversation with Alex!

Even if you are not a horseman (or horsediva) Great and Goodness Barbaro and Legacy is an inspirational from the heart read.

Great and Goodness Barbaro and His Legacy


Disclaimer: I recevied a complementary copy of Greatness and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy. There are no affinity links in this post.

Marketing Eating on the Street: Food Trucks


Food Truck _Yum Yum I love eating on the street! Really I do.

 A hip urban "Indie" alternative to a traditional restaurant meal is (literally) hitting the streets. From the City of Angels to Hot'lanta to cities across the United States food trucks are validating our less formal life style with a unique sense of fun. (Photo of Atlanta pink food truck Yum Yum cupcakes)

However, don't think for one second these food trucks are like the old corner prezel stand. They're part of a growing luxury food trend. Ray Choi, owner of the Kogi (which draws an almost cult following in LA), was awarded the Food & Wine 2010 Best of New Chef award.

In our tight capital investment economy, entrepreneurs are getting creative with parameters of limited cash flow and investment dollars. Food trucks have become one of the hottest small business ventures.  

MSN's News On Main video highlights a few of the approximatley 600 (!) food trucks in Portland OR. As Chris Cashman reports, "Every food truck owner has a unique story." One of my favorites from is Ziba from Bosnia who sells pitas based on her family's 100 year old recipe. 

This is not a cupcake walk nor for the faint of heart. Developing a successful food truck business takes more than passion and talent. It takes as much hard work and savvy as any company plus add to that the challenges of a roaming location. Oh sure, at the end of the day it still has to be all about the food but .. 

As you would expect, social media marketing plays a huge role in not only creating awareness but in building the brand and a loyal customer aka fan aka like aka circle base. For food truck owners it is especially critical for their customers to feel they are part of the entire experience. Here are a few ideas (many can be used in any business setting).

Six Food Truck Marketing Tips

1. Concept On The Tweet Street

The concept must be easily understandable without a lot of explanation. If people find you through Twitter the first (and sometimes only) introduction to your culinary point of view is your name. Does it confuse or hinder or intrigue?

2. The Truck

The "wrap" should support your brand concept with unique visual interest. In addition, the cleanliness of the exterior is as important as the interior of your kitchen. Don't forget people can see into at least part of the back-end of your operations. 

3. Pressure Cooker Service

How you and your staff relate to your customers is paramount in creating loyal fans. How will you let your Twitter followers or Facebook likes know you care and appreciate them? Success can lead to long lines = a long wait = unhappy customers. Consider taking orders while people are waiting in line (before they reach the truck window). A few .. "glad you're here" "thanks for waiting" "we promise it will be awesome" .. is a good idea too. 

4. Presentation 

 Do your serving plates reflect your brand or are they just a boring (yawn) white? Boston based Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese uses bright yellow checked paper linings that reinforces the retro and the yellow in their truck. 

Social Media Marketing  

5. Facebook: If your menu is consistent build out a "menu tab;" status updates are great when adding new items to your menu. Photos .. photos .. photos and a few videos too. Encourage your customers to post their photos to your page .. don't forget the tags!

6. Twitter: Talk to your customers .. just don't message out your menu. Make it easy for your customers to find you. Google map link your location. 

 Business on Main/Diva Marketing Food Truck Marketing Contest

Let's have some fun. MSN Business On Main is providing me with $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly.  Here's the deal. Let's create a list of marketing ideas for food truck owners. The suggestion that Max & I choose will win 100 dollars.  Food Trucks_BOM Ziba  

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Food Truck Marketing Contest

1. Post your marketing idea for food trucks on this Diva Marketing post And on this post on Business On Main

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 July 31, 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"

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

Roxy food truck_james
Excited to tell you that James DiSabatino, Roxy’s Grilled Food, finalist on the Food Network Foodtruck Race will be our guest judge. Toss a pink boa to Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe for the intro.

Update! Interview with James DiSabatino and announcement of the contest winner!

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.

July Fourth .. Live the Life Of Your Choice


Cupcakes july 4 2011 As we take a deep breath, blow out the candles and take the last bite of 235th birthday cake of the United States, I hope you are inspired, and at the same time, just a little humbled. 

Note: Lemon blueberry cupcake with lemon sorbet .. so good, if I do say so myself!

Looking back on my day, I had an ah ha moment. New media, old media, offline and online were integrated seamless in creating the tapestry of inspiration for my July 4th, 2011.

My morning began with a tweet from Max Gladwell which presented an unexpected insight about the men who founded America. They were the brave ones who lived the life of their dreams so others could live theirs. Max Gladwell July 4 2011
The Peachtree Road Race is a much loved tradition in my adopted city of Atlanta. This year 60 thousand people ran down Peachtree Street to Piedmont park to show the world, and themselves, that they could. It's an unusual race that combines competition with companionship. 

Peach tree road race t-shirt 2011
My girlfriends proudly modeled their coveted T-shirts at our, most definitely, offline BBQ!  Not only were Paula, Bobbi and Lynn inspirations but our hostess, Hillary was as well. Hillary's love of family and friends showed as she opened her home for our fun celebration.  Hillary Kirstin July 4th 2011

 Hillary and her niece Kirstin



Checking into Facebook at the end of my day, I was greeted by a status up from Bonnie Simon (bragging rights .. Bonnie is a Gf author on my new community All The Single Girlfriends). 

Bonnie Simon _July 4 2011

I seemed to come full circle from Max's tweet to Bonnie's post. Dreams change .. life throws us curve balls; but the opportunity to travel your own road is yours if you are brave to take the risk.

Then as I was wistfully (how often do you get to use the word wistfully?) watching the (Boston) Pops on the (Charles River) Esplanade, wishing I was back in Boston, Carrie Underwood sang There's A Place For Us . 

 From traditional media (TV) to Shazam (mobile/iPhone app) to online (YouTube) the words from this song were an explanation point! in my Fourth or July travels. 

We can be the kings and queens of anything if we believe.
It’s written in the stars that shine above,
A world where you and I belong, where faith and love will keep us strong,
Exactly who we are is just enough,


To paraphrase Bonnie ..  Let's celebrate the opportunity to live the lives of our own choosing .. for me that includes many ways to connect with friends, colleauges and our community. I find it amazing that with a click I can be Skyping with friends in India or tweeting with cousins in Virgina or Facebook-ing with clients across town. (Notice how social media platforms turn into verbs?)

What about you? What inspires you to live the life of your dreams?

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


...the world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.  Yochai Benkler. Yale University from The Wealth of Networks

Crowd source

Just One Crowd Sourced Question

Yochai Benkler's quote (above) reinforces the idea that many people hold the answers to a question. Bringing people into the mix from outside of your organization, or your blog, can open the discussion to new ideas and paths that you have yet to traveled. 

Just One Crowd Sourced Question is a "sometimes" series where I reach out to people in my social network and invite them to reach out to their networks to answer .. just one question. It's a quick turn around .. a few days to respond. The goal, of course, is to bring you diverse opinions so we can learn together. 

Recently one more agency was fired for an inappropriate tweet. We're not talking kids, but adults from politicians a la "Weinergate" to PR and advertising agencies who seem to be "misusing" Twitter. I just don't get it. These are smart, savvy people who seemingly don't understand that the digital world is an open network.

A few months ago I had the privledge of conducting a workshop for the 18th Annual Larry Brickman Educational Conference sponsored by JF&CS. The event supports mentally disabled adults and their families. My session was on how to ensure saftety using social networks.

I  structured the time to ensure the session was mostly discussion, so I had the opportunity to interact with all of the attendees. Let me tell you, every person who was particiating in social networks -- Facebook and Twitter -- totally understood the concept that what goes out into the online world can be passed along even in the most highly gated platforms. 

Keeping that in mind, here is the question I put out .. 

Question: Why don't people "get" that Twitter, in particular, and social media in general, are public forums where the world is not only listening but can respond back, pass along (online & offline) and often find its way into main stream media? 

As for the Redner twitter gaffe, he should have listened to his mother, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't tweet at all." Redner did get that social media is public forum and knowingly used twitter to publicly vent. Any agency representing a client has to learn to "think before they tweet."Danica Kombol @danicakombol

I don't think this issue is restricted to social media. Absolutely everything we post electronically can be retrieved and come back to haunt us. For example, if workers use their business e-mail addresses for frivolous purposes, they may get reprimanded.

If they use it for unsavory purposes, they may get fired. On social media and other Web sites, pages appear to be stored forever. What one says today, may be viewable in five years from now. One never knows. That's why it is of utmost importance that people self monitor their posts, photos, videos, and comments. Forget George Orwell. Big Brother is watching us all NOW! :) - Elaine Fogel @elaine_fogel

Bottom line (at least to me): these blunderers don't take their assignment seriously. I am sure they "get it" (with regard to the seriousness of the media), but they don't seem to "get" THEIR responsibilities. It's really quite simple: RESPECT yourself, your role, your assignment, the tools, and your client. When you do that, you behave appropriately, and establish systems that help you eliminate errors. These people aren't doing this.

I always ask this simple question, "If you were accused of blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking with the utmost propriety, care, respect, and skill, is there enough evidence to convict you?" - Rick Short @RickShort21

We have less privacy now, and I think that's a good thing. The reason nobody used to throw rocks through Church windows was because we lived in small towns and you'd get caught if you did something like that. People like Anthony Wiener are realizing that, because of the transparency of the internet, we live in a Digital Mayberry and if you do something wrong, you'll get caught. It won't be long before everyone realizes this. Until then, we'll have the occasional Wienergate. - Anon

I think individuals feel bolder behind their computer as opposed to in-person. 1. They lose tact. 2. There is lack of maturity. One has to be mindful at all times, whether in person or online. One has to ask: Will something I write hurt someone? 3. Some people are risk takers: Every once in a while some people might want to take risks with a thought or a comment, hoping it will go viral without the community backlash. Murphy's law comes to mind here. If something can go wrong, it will. 4. Sometimes Newton's Third Law applies to social media - Action and Reaction are equal and opposite in direction. If you rub the wrong person (someone with a huge following) the wrong way you can expect a strong reaction.

That does not mean you don't do it - the instigator may not always be right but again go back to #2 > Be mindful and also make sure YOU have support. 5. Written words often get misconstrued. The black and white medium especially twitter which is limited to 140 chars does not allow asterisks to explain. 6. A lot of times people don't really know you and know that you are well intentioned but were just careless. 7. It's easy for others to take offence and share it. Often times in person you might mind something and forget about it. But online, the retweet and share buttons are only a click away from the itchy clicker finger.

Be mindful and mature, Look before you leap. Be honest but be tactful and be prepared for big reaction to a big action (or little one).  – Prashan Kaw @prashantkaw

They call it social media for a reason. If it's something you'd to say to everybody, say it. If it's a secret you'd tell only a few, think before you speak; it might not be a secret very long. Rob Petersen @robpetersen 

Most people don't get that Twitter is real-time and world wide. Twitter is like no other social media. It's so misunderstood that it's often under used yet over rated. In most cases the value of a tweet is in the moment, unless you're a high profile person. In that case every tweet has mass media potential.- Bernie Borges @berniebay

Perhaps this is a question about people's capacity for self-control, especially egotistical ones. Twitter and social media in general simply make it easier than ever before for someone to have their rants or manifestations of ego get out of their control and blow up on them. Hence, the issue is age old...human frailties but in a world where nothing remains hidden very long. – Anon

I recently started mentoring my nephew-in-law, a graphic designer, teaching him to create WordPress websites. He started his first site that day and put a header on it and one post and that night he posted to Facebook a message about having done his website and about the services he would offer, which by the way were not even on the site yet.

 I saw it because of course I am his friend on Facebook. It was weird because he was in no way ready to do any of that. When I saw him the next day, I mentioned that I saw his post and I thought a better approach would be for him to wait and get everything polished up before he "presents" himself to the world, ready to work. He laughed it off saying he just wanted to show his buddies what he had done.

This is an another example of this same myopia. I know at least five of my friends are on his Facebook friend list since I introduced him to some of them. Some of these people work in social media or digital agencies and are in positions where they could someday hire him or help him to find a position. It is not just "his buddies" that are seeing what he puts on his page.

We all need to be cognizant that nothing anymore is really private . It is hubris or immaturity to not see how small the world is today. We had we better live our lives in a way that we are showing the same face to everyone because ultimately you cannot hide out. The dirty secrets, the stolen copy, the way you look when you go to the grocery store after working in the yard, are all up for prime time. Are you ready for it? Judi Knight  @judiknight

Now .. it's your turn .. Why don't people get that social media is not a private communication?

Read More Just One Crowd Sourced Questions 

How do you take the fear factor out of social media?

How do you put "soul" into a blog post?

How do you build B2B relationships using social media?

Twitter etiquette for agencies/freelancers

Why Don't They Care About Social Media?


Whisper Shh .. I'm going to tell you a secret about social media that no one talks about. But first you have to promise not to tell. If you do people will laugh at you and your social media credibility will vanish faster than last week's greatest tech toy. So you see girlfriend, I have your best interest at heart. Hold that thought for a second.

In the past week no less than three people have said to me something like .. "We know we need to include social media, I mean everyone is doing it; but Toby to put it bluntly, we don't much care."  Doesn't hurt my feelings. I think there are too many people cluttering up the digital air waves with tweets, blogs, Facebook and Linkedin status updates which should be folded back into traditional sales channels. 

However, I couldn't help but wonder .. why don't they care about social media.

1. Could it be the organization doesn't have the resources e.g., people or time to dedicate to an initiative that is on-going?  -  "Yes," I was told, "But ... "

2. Could it be the people don't know how to integrate social media into an overall master marketing plan to ensure it supports the brand? - "Yes," I was told, "But ... "

3. Could it be that VIPs are demanding numbers, spreadsheets, results. It can be confusing how to pull that out.  Polly Wade has written a detailed post, on Business on Main, highlighting five metrics from Jay Baer's book The NOW Revolution. However, Polly also reminds us benefits are found in other ways as well. "Sometimes it's a comment on a blog or connection between two people that can make a world of difference to a company."

4. "Yes," I was told. "Those were all good reasons but .." - But what? Perhaps it was the content. Social media is a long, long LONG time initiative. How do sustain a blog, Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform day after day, month after month, year after year? It takes more than a content strategy .. it takes a content direction. 

There are many concepts on how to create content for social media. In her Ask Business on Mail response, Barbara Findlay Schenck advices that, other than in your About page, the personal should not be included in a business blog.

I respectfully disagree with Barbara. For me, social media is about not only sharing knowledge, but sharing your self. How much you "give" is up to you and the culture of your company. However, it is through what one might call the mundane that relationships are built. In the Diva Marketing post Building Social Media Business Relationships With The Mundane I give you 10 Tips to Decorate Your Social Media Walls.  "Yes, content sustainabily is a concern as well." I was told. "But ..." -

As they continued to talk I listened more closely. (Which is what I should have been doing rather than trying to solve the problem right off.) I began piecing the conversations I had together like a giant jig saw puzzle. Then the ah ha moment came!

I realized these people just did not Like social media. Oh sure they might have dabbled in Facebook, created a Linkedn profile and perhaps even tweeted a time or two. However, at the end of the day, it made no sense to them. They considered social media a waste of time .. for them personally. Social media held no value for them.

They grudingly admitted that some of their customers were active on social networks. Perhaps social media might hold a place as a new channel to "message" (ouch!). And of course, everyone was doing it.

It will take more than one chat to help them understand a new way of thinking about business Fail communincation. However, what I could tell them, at that second in time, was there would be better than a 50-50 chance their social media efforts would fail.

Now the big secret. It's critical to have an internal social media champion who Likes social media. Of course, the person should not only understand the impact social media marketing will have on the business and brand, but is actively participating and has strategy and tactic skills. 

A bonus secret .. to be really successful in social media it is not sufficient that you are what is today's hot buzz word - "likeable." You must also like people. But that's a post for another day.

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

Graphic credit: The Lost Jacket