questions about social media

5 Ways Social Media has Worked for Me

By Social Media

I was reading my friend Ken’s post about his community and all the amazing ways the members of the community have come together to help one another.

I have a deep appreciation for the benefits I’ve received from being a part of an online community. I know how much having a broad social network has helped me develop new business and assist others to find jobs and other opportunities. I, of course, realize the benefits of being a content creator and have enjoyed the payoff in the form of friends, great working relationships and the kind of support that has lifted me up and given me confidence, fresh ideas and inspiration.

Here are five personal stories of my social media success:

  1. One of the longest-term clients I’ve had knew me first because of my personal blog (where I used to write a lot more about social media till I had this blog). She was delighted to learn that I lived and worked only a few miles away from her business. A mutual connection in our social network introduced us and the rest is history.
  2. I am very good about keeping my online social network up-to-date, entering new contacts into LinkedIn and connecting with new people I meet at conferences and networking events as soon as I can. This practice has led to speaking engagements and the introduction to new clients. I’m also pretty committed to providing recommendations to others on LinkedIn, allowing me to also receive endorsements from others with whom I’ve worked. It’s a wonderful boost to my business to have these online “testimonials” about the work I’ve done.
  3. In a wonderful mash-up of more traditional media and social media, I’ve worked with a local affiliate of three television stations as a blogging expert and social media correspondent as well as providing guidance as a consultant to the news staff of the stations. This mutually beneficial relationship has allowed me to develop relationships with a wide local audience and helped the television media use a social presence to expand their reach and build more solid relationships with their audience, a very gratifying experience indeed.
  4. On Twitter, I have met, followed and learned from many people in my industry. A few of these have included Gini Dietrich, Jay Baer and Ken Mueller. I’ve contributed guest posts to Spin Sucks and to Inkling Media’s blog, helping me increase my reach to new audiences. Not only that, but all three of these people are dear friends whom I’ve enjoyed knowing, reading and talking to often.
  5. There’s the misguided perception among the uninitiated that is that the social media active live their lives online. Those who aren’t engaged online seem to think that those who are conduct all communication via Twitter, Facebook and other online networks. What they’re missing is the moment that two people who have known one another well via an online relationship meet in person for the first time. Kismet! Joy! Bonding! A relationship cemented with a handshake or a hug. One of my favorite instances of this is when Self-Made Mom and I kept e-mailing and Instant Messaging (this was in a pre-texting era) to find one another across a room full of hundreds of other women bloggers (“I’m wearing polka dots!”) until we spotted one another and beamed the smiles of people who were already friends.

When people wonder if social media and social networking “really works” I can answer that with real stories of my own (and these are five of dozens that I have and love to share) and those of clients with whom I’ve worked.

I continue to be surprised and delighted by the connections and re-connections formed via social media, like the opportunity coming from a high school friend and another coming in from my sister’s college roommate — don’t discount the reach of your entire network. You just never know where the next opportunity will come from.

Tell me: what are some ways social media has worked for you?

All the News that’s Fit to Tweet

By Communications

A friend in the broadcast news business asked me what I thought about a news organization tweeting what comes over on the police scanner. It’s common practice for newspapers, radio stations and television stations to keep an ear cocked toward the police scanner, a fixture in any newsroom. It can be the first source for a story that is unfolding and may help a news crew get to the scene before the competition.

Often, though, a lot of nonevents and false alarms are reported – it takes a practiced ear to separate the news from the mundane and even then, false reports sometimes leak through.

So the question is, should news organizations be tweeting those first, early reports — the unsubstantiated buzz — heard on the scanner?

My position on this is that we look to the news organizations for fact — we trust them to be verifying the news they’re reporting and if there’s a change or an update, to report that as well. I want to trust that a news Twitter feed is actually NEWS; there are plenty of other Twitter accounts to tweet the rumors.

I applaud news organizations for recognizing that Twitter is a place they need to be, to share information and respond to the community, but I strongly caution management and news directors of these organizations to have the discussion internally about how Twitter should be used, and to be aware that anything the organization publishes or broadcasts on any platform can impact the integrity of the organization.

What do you think?

Casual Restaurants Doing Social Media Right in Charlottesville

By Social Media

Recently, I took a look at a selection of fine dining establishments in Charlottesville to see which were using social media platforms to attract customers.

Many readers pointed to examples of restaurants that are using social media, and doing it well — but all of these are in the casual dining category — which is what I’m devoting this post to covering.

Three standout examples in the area include Revolutionary Soup, BBQ Exchange (in Gordonsville, Va.) and Beer Run.

Revolutionary Soup is by far, the leader of the pack. Will’s Blog is featured as a main element of the restaurant’s website, with the passion and philosophy of restaurant owner Will Richey coming through loud and clear. The blog is not updated often but posts are thoughtful and have a single-minded purpose, sharing the process of bringing locally grown and nurtured food to the community. Three categories say it all: local, Rev Soup Farm and seasonal specials. I’m particularly impressed with Rev Soup’s website – a design that incorporates a page for reviews, suggested beer and wine pairings and daily or seasonal specials. (It’s no surprise when, upon investigating, I learn that the site was done by my very talented friend Michael Davis of Yellowfish.)

Revolutionary Soup is on Twitter, with an account for its Corner location and what looks like the “main” Twitter account for its downtown shop.

Rev Soup

There’s some opportunity for the Corner account to improve its bio, add a photo, increase followers and friends — but assuming that the focus is primarily on the downtown location, I focused on Twitter.com/@RevSoup. I like the way the account is being used, with tempting descriptions of recipes and daily soup offerings, mixed with observations from Will like, “Marker drawing all over my fav cook book. Should have known the 2 year old was not as impressed with Tournedos Rossini as I.” This kind of tweet, and indeed, all the real interaction from Will and the staff on the social web humanizes the brand and builds its loyalty. One might argue that the soup and sandwiches do that on their own, but if you’ve never been to Rev Soup, you don’t know that, do you?

When there’s more to say than what will fit in a Tweet, the restaurant uses its Facebook page, a smart way to use the additional presence — and to share good content with nearly 500 fans.

The BBQ Exchange is off the beaten path out in Gordonsville and, if you’re not inclined to leave the city of Charlottesville, a destination brand designed to tempt you on a short road trip with delicious smoked pork and spicy fried pickles as a reward. Craig Hartman is using Twitter and Facebook to get the word out to a broader audience than those in the immediate vicinity, a smart strategy for a restaurant that also serves customers’ catering needs. The restaurant has integrated its tweets into the home page of the website as a way to keep the home base of the online presence fresh. You can follow BBQ Exchange on Twitter (not recommended for vegetarians as main topics include pork, bacon and pork. ) As proof, here’s a recent Tweetcloud from the account:


Last, but certainly not least is one of my personal favorites, Beer Run. While the operation’s website leaves a lot to be desired, and does nothing to point fans to its presence in social media, Beer Run’s Facebook page updates have driven me to tastings or special events on more than one occasion.  It’s disappointing to see Beer Run’s Twitter account so underutilized – there are thousands of engaged Twitter users in our community and yet Beer Run is following only one other user. I challenge Beer Run to get connected to the Twitter community by following and engaging with them, tapping into the power there to promote events or to boost traffic when business is slow.

While this is merely a selection of restaurants using social media well in a couple of ways in the Charlottesville area, I’m sure there are more that are worth a mention. Let me know in the comments if there are any I should see.

Seven Ways Restaurants Can Use Social Media

By Social Media

My friend Ginger Germani was “helping” me find some shoes online the other day. It started with her razzing me about my choices, then Ginger said, “I’m not a complainer without solutions.”

I liked that, and that’s a good model to follow. I’ve tried to do that on this blog; when I note a company not communicating well or using social media to its full benefit (or making a colossal mistake) I follow it by sharing what they should do, or tips to help them improve.

As a follow up to my review of area restaurants and their use of social media, here are seven ways a restaurant in any community can improve their use of online interaction to increase customers.

  1. Create a chef’s blog that’s updated frequently (at a minimum, once a week). Use it to share new menu items, local ingredients and the occasional recipe. Make liberal use of photos and video, but don’t let that be the sole content on the blog.
  2. Work with FourSquare to offer special deals to the Mayor of your restaurant.
  3. Set up social web monitoring alerts to let you know when a community member is asking friends on Twitter, “Where’s a good place to take my boss out to dinner in C’ville?” or “I’m looking for a good C’ville restaurant for my mom’s birthday.” Be responsive when these conversations occur. Recognize the Twitter user when they come in and reward them for the interaction (you’ll likely have a customer for life).
  4. Create special, behind-the-scenes content or offers for fans of the restaurant on Facebook. Let the fans name a new dish, or offer to host a Tweet-up on an otherwise slow evening or at a time the restaurant is normally closed.
  5. Follow members of the community on Twitter and ask them what you can do to better serve them — the people who follow your restaurant become your online focus group.
  6. Monitor the social web for mentions of your restaurant, in case anyone posts about a bad experience (they will; I promise, no matter how great your restaurant is.) Before you find these mentions, develop a plan to react and respond to negative comments and make sure anyone who acts on the restaurant’s behalf, knows and understands the plan. Remember always that in the case of a negative customer experience, the right, first thing to say is “I’m sorry,” followed by, “how can we make it better?”
  7. Share the love. Look, no one is going to eat at your restaurant every night. The culture of social media rewards those who share, and who recognize others. Following other restaurants, retweeting their content, commenting on their blog posts, sharing their special offers won’t hurt your business, it will earn you respect in the social community. Respect is loyalty and loyalty means customers that come back to see you again and again.

Social media is a fantastic tool for restaurants who can time tweets to tempt us with menu offerings right when we’re starting to get hungry for lunch or dinner.

They can help us out by reminding us to make reservations for that special birthday or anniversary coming up.

They can offer to help us out of a bind by sharing menu options that suit the vegetarian or gluten-free guest coming to visit.

In short, restaurants are a vibrant part of our community, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be reaping the benefits of being part of our online community as well.

Charlottesville Car Dealerships and Social Media: A Study of Four Automotive Brands

By Social Media

In the last few years I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of local car dealerships ending their television commercials with “Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter.”

I became curious about what the local social media scene among the automotive brands really looks like and decided to conduct a small independent study.

  1. Price Kia is the first dealership that appears in a Google search that has an evident social media presence on its home page. The Kia dealership’s Facebook Page has 248 “likes,” 30 photos and four videos but  not a lot of engagement or customer interaction.
  2. Brown Automotive is the second leader in the Google search, and has a Facebook Page with only 141 “likes;” surprising because this dealership is so engaged in the local community. Twitter is where this dealership really stands out and that is largely due to www.twitter.com/brownautogal What really makes Brown’s social media engagement successful is that Brown Automotive’s Twitter presence has a face and a voice — and these belong to Jamie Schwartz, aka Brown Auto Gal.
  3. Jamie SchwartzFlow Volkswagen Charlottesville only offers a Facebook page for customer engagement. The page has only 50 “likes,” but offers good content, helpful tips and reminders. With such great content, it’s too bad that Flow Volkswagen isn’t living up to its social media potential.
  4. BMW of Charlottesville earns points for having Facebook and Twitter badges on its website home page, making it clear to their community where to engage. BMW’s Facebook page is active so it’s surprising that it has only 30 “likes.” The dealership also has a Twitter account, but they seem to be a bit confused about it — the account is http://twitter.com/bmwcharlville but the bio lists it as BMWCharville:


The Twitter account needs some help. A keyword-rich bio should be added and it should be evident who the person is behind the account. There are thousands of engaged Twitter users in our community – and yet BMW of Charlottesville is only following 12.

There is definitely some untapped potential for social media engagement in the car sales arena in Charlottesville. I see plenty of people in our community tweeting and posting on Facebook about a need for a new car, recommendations for where to get a car fixed or the next car they should purchase. With such a competitive marketplace, these dealerships should take a hard look at how they can pull ahead of the others with some simple social media strategy.