Good Community is a Timeless Social Media Value

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized

We were at a client meeting last week presenting social media strategy, and Marijean was kind enough to mention my past history as founder of a company called Rowdy was known as a “social network” and was focused on NASCAR racing. We built a platform to blog, share photos, video, comments, and observations on racing. Facebook wasn’t out yet, so we had to build it ourselves.

We produced award-winning podcasts, video, and content on our own to get the conversation started, but our primary goal was to create a place where real fans could get to know each other and get closer to their favorite sport and those involved in it. Rowdy grew very quickly primarily because we gave the fans something they could not get on their own–a singular voice that was about the real sport, not corporate spin. Our tagline was “Rowdy: Tell It Like It Is” and that’s exactly what we did. It was truly cutting edge and and was one the best examples of online community available, regardless of the topic.

One of the participants at our meeting remembered the site and was truly complimentary. I think it enhanced our reputation and credibility just a little and I was flattered to have had a positive impact on a race fan through that effort.

Cool, you say. So what? That stuff is old hat now! The takeaway is that even though that site was shut down earlier this year (after a two-year stint as a property of The Sporting News), folks still remember the quality of the content and the friendships they had there. Many fans are still offline friends–one couple who met there are actually getting married! Fans remember fondly meeting IRL at the races after friending one another at Rowdy. It was a true bonding experience because it was real people, useful and engaging content and a friendly, open forum for sharing and celebrating a passion.

So…are you creating that environment for your customers? Are you providing an open, engaging resource full of good content, friendly people, and social connective tissue? Are you using the tools currently available to maximize connection and interaction? If not, why not? Quit acting like this doesn’t matter. It does.

Pinterest is a Coffee Klatch. Facebook is a Kegger. Twitter is a Cocktail Party.

By Social Media, Uncategorized

“Oh, hello there. So nice to meet you. Why, yes, it IS a new top. I got it here. And where have you been lately? Etsy, I presume?”

That is sort of how the casual sharing of ideas happen on Pinterest. Sharing visual ideas, creative concepts and exploring new products is what it’s all about. I follow women in Germany and also rural Georgia who I am positive I will never meet, but they have great recipes and fantastic interior design ideas. All that is missing are coffee and bear claws.

“Dude, I was bombed at the conference! Boss read my post and fired my ass!”

Ah, Facebook. I have seen more former classmates and coworkers drunk in Facebook pictures than in real life. Perhaps Google+ will successfully manage to separate what is and is not appropriate to share for these folks. But I definitely do not want to hear how many beers my mortgage broker downed this weekend. If Facebook were a place in real life, however, there would certainly be a keg.

“I just posted a comment about Whitney Houston’s life story. Link here.”

So I didn’t just post a comment on Whitney Houston’s life story, but my point is that this is where the stories are shared. This is (or at least, can be) the intimate cocktail party conversation. You know when you’re meeting new people and someone says something like, “And that reminds me of this one time in Bangladesh . . .” I don’t know about you, but I shut up and listen because it sounds like something good is about to come out of his mouth. That is the quote and link for me. It’s the promise that there may be a good story if you follow the link. I’ll have a glass of Malbec, thank you.

What I’m saying is, it makes sense to know the cultural climate. I wouldn’t give my weekend update on Pinterest anymore than I would attempt to share a philosophy nugget on Facebook.

But what do you think? Do you agree? What would you serve in your social media reality?


5 Ways to Be a Better Business Blogger

By Uncategorized

It’s incredible, when I think back over the last six years or so, the evolution of blogging in business. What used to be a hard sell (yes, blogging is going to be very important for your business) is now standard-issue stuff. Successful businesses blog! Successful business people are bloggers. It’s so exciting to be not only watching but involved with this evolution in a very hands-on, integrated way.

Since you’re here, you’re probably a blogger for your business. Feel free to tell us about your blog in the comments — we’d all like to visit and read your posts!

I know we all get a little stuck sometimes, or a bit uninspired, so here’s a list of five ways to give you a boost in blogging:

  1. Involve others in the process. Even if you’re a sole proprietor there are other people you work with as vendors, partners or key customers. Ask them for ideas and inspiration. Get them to use Pinterest or Delicious to collect ideas for you to blog about. (OK, true story: I clicked over to Pinterest to add the link to this post and yeah, you lost me there for about half an hour. Behold the power of Pinterest. I’m back now. If you did the same, I hope you returned to finish this post with me.)
  2. Ask your readers what they’d like to see on your blog. I often ask my followers on Twitter for blog post ideas and they come up with some great ones!
  3. Read something you don’t normally read. If you’re a regular of the business section, try health or science, lifestyle or sports . . . mix it up to find a new angle that applies to what you do.
  4. Get visual! Look for or capture an image that sums up how you’re feeling, what you’re doing or what you’re seeing. Video is fun, as well (the shorter, the better.) Can you challenge yourself to tell a video story in 60 seconds?
  5. Dig deep. Share something personal (personal never, ever means PRIVATE). It is so valuable to show the human side of your business. We all have one — let your audience connect to yours. Some of my most popular business blog posts of all time have been from a very personal perspective.

I hope this is helpful to you — and remember, I want to read your blogs, so go ahead and pitch them below.


What is the Difference between Brand and Reputation?

By Uncategorized

The definition of brand I’ve offered readers of this blog is this:

Your Brand is the Promise you Make and Keep When Interacting with Your Community

So how is this different from your company’s reputation? It’s difficult to discern because in some cases, reputation is an acceptable, and sometimes recommended substitution for the word brand. In fact, it’s often easier for employees to grasp and come together around supporting and protecting the reputation of a company (rather than supporting a brand.)

People understand the concept of reputation, and striving to have a good reputation.

This is how I think of it: a brand depends on consistency to create a shared perception among the constituency. A reputation can be swayed by a single experience or incident. Managing a reputation often depends on managing expectations.

Think of it this way — if you’re planning to have dinner at McDonald’s, you have low expectations. The reputation of that meal is confirmed through experience. The brand perception is reached when dinner at ANY McDonald’s provides the same experience. It’s tricky; they’re closely related, but there is a difference.

Do you agree?

WTF? Friday: Seriously Screwing up on Twitter

By Uncategorized

WTF FridayThere probably isn’t anyone alive who hasn’t heard about Anthony Weiner’s stupid Twitter move.  I won’t rehash that here, but I will tell you that this isn’t, by any stretch, the last time someone is going to do something dumb using a social platform.

This week, bakery giant Entenmann’s f’ed up on Twitter by tweeting a hashtag they didn’t thoroughly research.

The hashtag, #notguilty was trending because of the Casey Anthony verdict.

Not-so-savvy Entenmann’s thought they’d take advantage of the trend, jump on the bandwagon and add #notguilty to a tweet about tasty treats.

Uh, no.

TechCrunch said this:

Depending on what you believe, the voice of @Entenmann’s either decided it would be funny to hashtag surf on the trending #notguilty hashtag or sincerely didn’t look and just stuck a random #notguilty in a tweet about eating tasty tweets, presumably to get pickup.

In any case, misuse of a hashtag by a business or a brand is a serious mistake, whether intentional or merely misguided. Understanding hashtags, what they mean, why the trend, when to use them, is imp0rtant if you’re using Twitter for business.

Don’t be a Weiner or an Entenmann’s, in this case.

Sign up for the Don’t Be a Weiner Workshop: Learn How to Use Twitter Like a Professional.

Five Lessons on How Not to Use Twitter