Thursday, October 8, 2009

IMS 2009 Day 2: New Lingo and General Awesomeness

Day #2 of the Inbound Marketing Summit 2009 (IMS 09), Boston, brought another fully-loaded agenda of presentations, panels, and networking.

Some notables follow.

By the Numbers

Since a significant portion of today's sessions focused on metrics, I'll start this post with some data points from IMS 09:

- If Facebook was a country, it would be the world's 5th largest (thanks to Paul Gillin for this stat)
- Ranking algorithm for search according to Hubspot: F(n) = context + authority
- Number of Presentations with Susan Boyle References: 2
- Number of Presentations with Seinfeld References: 2
- Number of Presentations with World of Warcraft References: 2
- Number of Books Recommended: I lost count

Talk the Talk

Favorite New Social Media Buzzword: Twestimonial - a positive comment about your brand on Twitter.

Most overused, albeit accurate catch phrase: Content is King

Walk the Walk

With so many excellent speakers--representing companies such as Southwest Airlines, Weber Shandwick, CodeBaby, dna 13, Paul Gillen Communications, IDC, Awareness, Razorfish, and Edvisors, to name a few--learnings cannot be summarized in a single blog post alone. I encourage you to join the #IMS09 discussion on to engage with presenters and participants.

- The two elements of successful search: recency and inbound links
- Listen first. Follow the discussion about your brand and about your competitors
- Loyalty is an emotional response. It is not made from satisfaction alone, but rather stems from willingness to recommend
- Advice from Greg Matthews, Humana, for getting started on Social Media: Be a vacuum, be a padawan, try stuff, and be 2.0
- Employees who love your brand can make excellent public representatives. An example of this is Jim Long, NBC News cameraman who became the unlikely brand ambassador
- Vary your content objects (such as video, documents, podcasts, etc). Mix it up
- Customer service is marketing
- Own the process

The most resonating theme of the day was passion for community. And the vendor sponsors and exhibitors didn't disappoint. Most memorable was the PerkettPR booth at which visitors took a quick quiz that identified the Social Media Gurus they most resemble (social media behavior, not necessarily appearance). As it turns out, I'm a CC.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Key Takeaways from Inbound Marketing Summit 2009 - Day 1

Today was the first of the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston. Delivered by New Marketing Labs, the two day event focuses mainly on Web 2.0 and social media strategies, tools, and technologies.

I like this event because it is jam-packed with sessions throughout both days, delivered consecutively as the main event, with the expo occurring in the same general area during designated networking time slots during breaks between sessions. Of course, looking down on an empty Gillette Stadium wasn't bad either.

Day 1 brought a number of key takeaways. I’ll share these in summary. To follow the more detailed discussion, enter #IMS09 in the search field on Twitter.

- “Content is king but marketing is queen, and she rules the household.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, "The Wine Guy"

- When embarking upon a social media strategy, consider your customers' goals and objectives, not just those of your own company.

- Social media is not about a set of tools. It is about your objectives for engaging the community. The tools follow these objectives.

- Follow the discussion about your brand, every day.

- Content analysis and web analytics are important, however they are part of your ROI measurement. You also need to involve people who understand your business.

- When measuring ROI of blogs and other social media, consider more than #posts or # mentions alone. Include in your analysis your share of negative and positive comments. - Katie Paine, CEO KDPaine & Partners

- Media relations is a subset of PR 2.0. On the whole, PR 2.0 is about helping companies build and communicate a brand, and engaging that brand with the community it serves

- PR today is about "earning attention, not begging for it." Go where the audience is and bring them value. -David Meerman Scott

- Avoid the temptation to put people into buckets. Go beyond the bucket to see real people and real problems. -CC Chapman

- Twitter is calling for companies to engage in real-time across organizational functions, including R&D. Eastman Kodak has done this successfully, according to its Chief Blogger.

- What is the formula for success in making your video go viral? Tim Street, CEO, APE Digital, Inc. advises that it is Spectacle + Story + Emotion, with a dash of conflict.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Email Challenge

During discussions with friends and colleagues about time management, many talk about email as the main culprit to running one’s day efficiently. And it’s not the volume of emails that is the main challenge. Actually, the issue is more around the incessant interruption caused by our need to be real-time responsive. This results in frequent switching of gears across many items at once. Our brain’s ramp time between tasks adds up the more we redirect our trains of thought.

Since it is unrealistic for us to expect ourselves to work on one task at a time in a serial fashion, we seek to reduce the number and frequency of these interruptions in order to multi-task effectively.

As a result, what would happen if we weren’t always “on” for minute-by-minute response times? Do the companies that implement no-email-Fridays and mailbox size limitations have a productivity advantage over those that don’t?

Therein lies the great email challenge. Has anyone out there—only those whose jobs do not require ongoing monitoring, such as customer service, for example-- tried checking email just once a day, or at designated times? What was the result? Were you able to manage expectations accordingly? Were you more efficient during the day?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Apply the Golden Rule to Meeting Management

You open your inbox and there it is, staring you smugly in the face. Yes, it’s the invitation to the meeting which will occupy the last free hour in your day.

You had plans for that hour, carefully carved into 10-minute segments, including activities like noting the action items from your last 4 meetings, lunch at your desk, catching up on email, and taking big breaths in and out before your series of afternoon meetings.

Those plans are halted by the last-minute invitation to a meeting that you know you must attend though you’re not exactly sure why. The topic, “planning recap” gives you no indication of the actual meeting objective, nor do the names of the meeting organizer and attendees. Sound familiar? We’ve all received the ambiguous meeting invitation, and most of us have even sent one or two during the course of our careers.

Anyone in the consulting industry can attest to the time-is-money concept and can quickly quantify the billing cost of 10 people attending a meeting.

While we cannot control other people’s meeting etiquette, we can lead by example. To follow are some tips for effective meeting management – both for the organizer and for the participant.


Organizer - Think carefully about the purpose of the meeting and what you intend to achieve. Is a meeting really needed? Status updates, for example, can more easily be achieved via a shared wiki or spreadsheet, with meetings called only when urgent issues arise.

Participant - Consider the purpose and expected outcome of the meeting. Decide whether or not you really need to attend. If your organizational culture is meeting-happy, be judicious with your acceptances.


Organizer - Always include pertinent information about the meeting, including date/time/location, agenda, and intended outcome. The objective and agenda serve as a contract of sorts among the attendees, who are committing their time and energy to the meeting based on this information. With few exceptions, meetings should be scheduled at least a few days in advance.

Check schedules in advance and plan the meeting at a time when your critical attendees are available. Also, be aware of your invitees' time zones and do your best to schedule the meeting during office hours. The probability of acceptance will be much higher for meetings that do not occur in the middle of the night.
If you have to ask a few people to shuffle their scheudles in order to accommodate your meeitng, be prepared for them to decline. With the exception of only the most urgent meetings, "no" is an acceptable answer when someone has made a previous commitment to another meeting.

Select only participants who truly need to be in the meeting. Others can read the recap in the minutes. Proceed with caution when inviting “optional” attendees. This can be confusing to people.

Participant - If this information is missing from the meeting invitation, request it before deciding whether or not to attend the meeting. Once you commit to attending the meeting, do everything possible to ensure your attendance.

If you must back out of the meeting, notify the organizer as soon as possible and be prepared to make concessions in your calendar should the meeting need to be rescheduled to accommodate you. Do not reneg or ask for the meeting to be rescheduled simply because you’re busy. It is challenging for the organizer to schedule time that works for several parties at once, and impolite to ask others to reschedule due to one person's time management challenges.

Check with the meeting organizer before haphazardly forwarding the invitation to others. S/he may have been very deliberate in selecting participants.


Organizer - Communicate expected roles and responsibilities to attendees in advance of the meeting. These will vary with the scope of each meeting, but in general, aim to have a facilitator, time-keeper, scribe, and devil’s advocate. If you expect someone to present and/or to have completed certain actions before the meeting, engage them in advance with enough lead time to prepare properly.

Participant - Be sure of your role before the meeting. When uncertain, discuss this with the meeting organizer

Before the Meeting

Organizer - Test all logistics, including projectors and online meeting applications. Select a meeting room large enough to accommodate all participants. If your meeting is cancelled or postponed and you use a reservation system, be sure to cancel the meeting room and other resources.

Participant - Review the details of the meeting and prepare for your arrival. Will you participate live or remotely? Schedule enough time for travel. Locate the conference room in advance if needed.

During the Meeting

Organizer – Give everyone an opportunity to speak their minds, but stick to the agenda. Don’t put anyone on the spot in large meetings by asking them to commit to substantial projects.

Participant - Share your thoughts and ideas, but do not monopolize the meeting. Avoid sidetracking the conversation. Use the parking lot method to capture these ideas for follow-up discussion. Also, be sure to listen to others. When in brainstorming mode, do not rush to dispel another’s suggestion.

After the Meeting

Organizer - Send all participants (and cc others as needed) minutes from the meeting, which should include a recap of the discussion, major decisions reached, next steps and action items with dates and owners, and any unfinished business.

Participant - Read the minutes carefully and notify the organizer of any edits/updates. Be sure to follow through on any actions to which you committed in the meeting. Communicate relevant input to all attendees that you did not have an opportunity to share in the meeting.

You may be thinking that this is all well and good in theory but that it takes a great deal of time and effort to apply all of these tips, especially when your day is filled with meetings. You're right! And that confirms the need to be selective in the number of meetings you host. Refer to the first tip above, Is a meeting really needed?

In summary, think of the many things that you dislike about meetings. Your peers likely have the same pet peeves. When it comes to meeting etiquette and running effective meetings, the golden rule applies – do unto colleagues as you would have them do unto you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Set Yourself Up For Market Success

All companies are facing increased budget scrutiny, with belt-tightening taking place across operational, capital, and personnel expenses. Marketing is consistently among the first line items to see significant cuts. The need to accomplish more with less is prevalent with regards to marketing even in the best of economic times. To follow are a few tips I’ve found to be valuable when it comes to maximizing marketing dollars and talent for the greatest possible impact.

1)Start with a good idea and identify a market for your idea- often, markets do not reveal themselves because they are unable to fully articulate their challenges. Through community-building and networking, you can remain close to those who will someday become your target customers.
2)Hire energetic, passionate people with extensive networks- To excel, you will need more than smart, highly-degreed people. Standout markers understand how to build and foster lasting connections, and they truly enjoy networking.
3)Be willing to listen, really listen, and to iterate- searching for a particular answer or seeking to have others validate your thinking isn’t really listening. By truly listening, you can build off existing ideas and understand what the market really needs. You should also be flexible and willing to amend your offerings, packaging, and messaging to best apply to market needs
4)Be present- Market success requires full-time active participation. Markets are not stagnant, and simply going through the motions will make you stale. Embrace fast-changing market dynamics.

At the heart of good marketing strategy is not where you allocate your funds, but rather how you set yourself up for success.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Making the Most of Your Tech Trade Show Experience

Odds are that you will be an attendee, exhibitor, speaker, or presenter for at least one major tech trade show this year. With many companies imposing restrictions on travel and budget, you will likely be attending fewer events and will seek the biggest-bang-for-the-buck from your tech trade show experience.

In order to determine how to make the most of your next event, consider first your targeted outcome. For example, if you are on the brink of a major purchase decision and need to weigh alternatives, you will prioritize your time differently than if you are attending to learn more about a particular area of technology or to gain insights from featured keynote speakers. Most likely, you will have multiple objectives.

To follow are some tips that will help you get the most out of your tech trade show participation.

1) Plan Ahead - To entice attendees to remain for the duration, may event managers schedule the capstone keynote for the last day. Review the event guide in advance and prioritize which speeches, sessions and exhibits you must not miss. If you require in-depth discussions with vendors—especially if you have pointed questions, set up on-site meetings in advance, and help ensure that you will receive the information you need by telling the vendors what you would like them to cover. These dedicated meetings are will align product demos to your specific needs vs the canned versions shown on the floor.

2) Work the Floor – Although you have pre-selected the exhibits you will visit as a first priority, try to squeeze in some time to roam the floor. This can be the best way to learn about new offerings. Don’t skip the small booths, which are often occupied by start-ups and are likely to be showing the latest innovations.

3) Network, Network, Network – Ideas can come from anywhere, and personal interaction is the main reason you attend an industry event live rather than participating virtually. Join the after-hours sponsored events and have breakfast/coffee/lunch with people other than those with whom you came. Compare notes with your colleagues. Meet with your partners and current vendors, even if you are not planning a new purchase in the near-term. Follow the bloggers and live Twitter streams from the event. Join the conversation by sharing your own observations.

4) Follow-Up – Keep in mind that many events now offer registered attendees the opportunity to download and view recorded sessions and keynotes. Take advantage of this, particularly for your second priority sessions and for those which you may have missed due to scheduling conflicts. While at the event, note on each business card you collect how you will follow-up and do so very soon upon your return. You may also elect to follow-up with live meetings, especially with those who are local to your area.

Even in today’s highly virtual world and despite budget cuts, on-site industry events remain a valuable means through which to gain new information and to learn about emerging industry trends. So make the most of these events – and don’t forget to bring home a couple of tsotchkes as souvenirs of your experience.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Want to Know What’s on Your Customers’ Minds? Ask Them.

As children, many of us were taught not to worry about what others think of us. In marketing, we practice the exact opposite. We place a great deal of importance on market perceptions, customer satisfaction, and brand image. How can we determine whether or not our offerings are on the right track?

1) Ongoing conversations with customers – This should be a continuous practice regardless of whether or not you have specific research questions. Social media is a great way to foster this input. Be sure to include non customers, as they are likely facing challenges that can become opportunities for your firm’s future development.
Note- Pay close attention in these discussions rather than seeking only answers to the questions you make explicit. The dialog could reveal an untapped market opportunity.

2) Secondary market research – At least some of the information you need may already exist. It is likely that others have asked a similar question and done the heavy-lifting for you.

3) Primary market research – Custom research is advisable when you need to take the pulse of the market for the purpose of making decisions about product or marketing strategy, sales promotions and campaigns, branding, market expansion, etc. and when secondary research does not exist to answer your specific questions. You can choose to conduct this in-house or to leverage the expertise of a market research agency.

If you decide to design and execute the research yourself, DIY tools such as those provided by Research Rockstar will come in handy. Be sure to leverage best practices in experiment and/or survey design and to hone in early on the research questions you need answered and your expected outcomes.

Regardless of how you pursue market input, remember that market dynamics change. The information you’re gathering today may no longer be relevant next year. We've experienced this recently with changes to the macroeconomic climate. Customers are applying different criteria to make decisions. Maintaining close ties with a smaller group of customers and prospects who have an interest in your success and can serve as advisors will help you determine when to refresh your research. Learning about—and from—your markets is an ongoing process.

So while our childhood lesson to disregard what others think does not carry over into marketing, we can definitely apply the advice that when someone picks on us (or gives us input into how we can improve our offerings or our brand), it is because they are interested.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“M” is Fore Motivation: How Cultivating Marketing Talent is Like Training Golfers

I am not a human resources professional. I am a marketing and account management professional with experience in managing and being managed, as well as a recreational golfer. As I researched this post on attracting and retaining marketing talent, a number of golf-related analogies came to mind.

1) An excellent drive off the tee is great. But the short game is equally as important as the long. Seek marketers who will have a strong big-picture view and will be able to contribute to strategy, but also the ability to focus and execute on these good ideas. The best talents will help your business thrive today and continue to break new ground tomorrow.

2) Each golf student requires coaching in different areas in order to improve his/her game. Therefore, lessons are typically tailored to the individual, course, and handicap. Apply situational leadership, selecting your leadership style to suit each situation and employee.

3) Coaches at a tournament know to be silent while golfers tee off. At this point, it is up to the golfer to apply what s/he has learned. Do not micromanage. It is damaging to both the manager and the employee, and is a leading cause of attrition among talented employees. There are a number of books, articles and blog posts dedicated to this topic. Instead, focus proactively on the hiring and onboarding process to ensure that you attract and cultivate key talent.

4) Following a lesson, the golf instructor will often ask the student to watch his/her practice round on DVD. Usually, the student can point out his/her errors and make the necessary correction, asking questions of the instructor when needed. Involve employees as you deliver feedback and allow them to be part of the solution. Provide facts and examples rather than generalizations, and keep your mind open to alternate points of view.

5) After a successful putt, onlookers clap for a job well done. Don’t forget to praise excellent performance.

If this all seems like common sense to you, congratulations. Not only are you on track for successful management of marketing talent; you also have potential as a weekend golf coach. Enjoy the round.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make the Most of Your Messaging

Think about the last time you felt a strong pull toward a line on a web banner, on company signage, or in an email, a tweet, or a mailer that read, Industry-Leading, Best-of-Breed, Technologically Superior Widget… Riiiight. Doesn’t do it for me either.

Today, business-to-business marketers are living the dream. We have so many vehicles through which to interact with our customers, vehicles that enable information-sharing and collaboration with broad customer- and prospect communities.

At the same time, customers have all of the same vehicles at their fingertips, through which to learn and discuss with others. This leaves companies more exposed than ever, putting customers at a significant advantage.

This also puts companies who message authentically at an advantage. Making this a reality requires your messaging to be:

•Customer-focused. Isn’t messaging quality subjective? Sure. That’s precisely why it is so important to understand your audience and to prioritize not a cookie-cutter statement about your general greatness, but rather how you stand out relative to their interests, concerns, and challenges. Even if they aren’t ready to purchase today, your brand will be recalled when they issue that RFI/RFP or PO.

•Credible. With more ways than ever to share experiences, thoughts, and impressions about your company and products, credibility is key. Customers are savvy and will let one another know quickly if you are not what you claim to be. Don’t do this.

•Dynamic. Times change and so do markets. Keep your content fresh. Remind people about what’s new and how you’re addressing their problems in a way that is relevant today. Listen to your customers and to your non-customers so that you may uncover new problems that you can address, and ensure that your messaging resonates accordingly. They may not always be able to articulate the need. Ask probing questions to help fill in the blanks. Keep an open mind. You may hear something very different than you anticipate, which can lead to competitive advantage.

•Succinct. Customers and prospects are busier than ever and face the challenge of cutting through the noise to get to information that is relevant to them. Target your messages to the right people and get to the point.

Think about some of the messages you’ve seen and offers for which you’ve provided feedback. What sticks out the most for you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Empower Your Brand with a Microsite

Do you have a product or service offering that requires awareness aside from that of your corporate brand?

Could you easily bring this product or service into the broader context of an interactive, topical conversation with customers and prospects?

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, your offering may be a good candidate for a microsite.

Separate from your corporate website, a microsite:

  • Lets you focus a conversation on a specific product, service, promotion, or topic
  • Can strengthen brand awareness and help build brand affinity
  • Costs about the same as setting up a traditional website $2,500-over $50,000*
  • May be used to create brand equity and to foster customer community interaction about a particular area of your business
  • Should not be used solely to increase traffic to your corporate website

Remember that you’ll need to keep content fresh and relevant on the microsite as well as on the main site. Be sure it fits into your marketing, branding, and search engine optimization strategy, and that you clearly identify the intended call-to-action for your audience.

*source: Melissa Campanelli, Entrepreneur Magazine

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Social Networking For Personal and Professional Success

On February 26, 2009, I had the opportunity to take part in Bentley University’s alumni event, Social Networking ROI for You and Your Business, featuring alumnus and social media professional, CC Chapman.

Among the audience was a mix of novices and more experienced social networkers. In an engaging and humorous way, CC presented best practices and words of advice for maximizing ROI from these tools.

- Use status updates on LinkedIn to spread the word about your current project(s)

- Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Jobs and projects completed years ago can become relevant at any time

- Regardless of the social network, figure out what works for you (personal and professional). Determine what information you do and do not want to share—for example, do you want your professional contacts to see the photos of your family vacation to the Grand Canyon?--and apply the privacy settings accordingly

- Consider the difference between
Friends and friends in your social networks. It is good to have both. The latter could contain casual contacts and may, for example, be divided between professional and personal, while your Friends are those with whom you can share all of your content and will be the most active in your networks

- When contemplating advertising or online promotions, know your audience. Facebook makes it easy to target promotions to certain groups based on the demographics and psychographics they list in their profiles. You can explore different options before buying an ad

-Fan pages on Facebook also helps to spread buzz about your offerings

CC also reminded us to enjoy the social networking experience. His most important advice, regardless of your level of experience with social networks: “Take the time to play, understand, and ask questions.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tweet it...on Email

If you're like me, an average workday includes several meetings, persistent deadlines, and hundreds of emails. Our time is limited, so lengthy emails that look more like novellas tend to be acted upon after more succinct messages.

What if our email behavior reflected the brevity of Twitter, which requires each update to be 140 or fewer characters? Or, to allow room for salutations and closings, let’s double that length to 280 for email. It would force us to get to the point sooner.

Try it yourself:

  • Experiment for any length of time, with all of your emails or just a subset
  • Discipline yourself to place pertinent issues, deadlines, and action items first

But what happens when you're asked a question that requires a longer answer? Let's look at a fictional example: You have led a cross-functional project to completion and are asked by your team to conduct a review of the project's critical success factors, best practices, and areas for further research, and to report to the team via email.

This could easily be detailed in an email that spans several screens, or it could be condensed into this 153-character note:

To: Widget Improvement Project Team

From: You

Subject: Project Post-Mortem Review


Thank you for your participation in this project. I have compiled the post-mortem review notes into our internal wiki. Please contribute your input by CoB Friday.



Note the difference this makes in your productivity. Are people responding to your emails more quickly? Are you receiving shorter, to-the-point emails from someone else who is taking the challenge?

If you're finding yourself with extra time on your hands, I recommend joining a conversation on Twitter.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

One Company's Consideration of Social Media Policies

Questions about how far companies should take formalization of social media policies have been discussed in marketing and social networking circles lately. Often, the answer returned is, “It depends on the company.”

To add context to the conversation, let’s consider a hypothetical example from a made-up company:

CoolCo is a mid-sized consumer electronics company. In addition to its marketing strategy, which includes customer communities and social media, several CoolCo employees maintain their own blogs and have a significant presence on social networking sites, where they identify themselves as CoolCo employees.

While CoolCo’s managers recognize the upside to leveraging these communities for brand pervasiveness, they also have a number of concerns about potential adverse impact of these media, from the employee who communicates information in a manner that is off-message to inappropriate or inaccurate comments.

CoolCo’s decision: to embrace social media and formalize an education program for its employees around the legalities and etiquette around use of public domain as well as corporate messaging and product training.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weathering the Storm: Skill Up During a Recession Without Going Broke

Look on any popular career site and you’ll likely find at least one article advising you to update your skills, thereby increasing your marketability, during tough economic times.

Many of these articles go on to recommend new academic degrees and/or certificate programs. This makes a lot of sense if the job or skill you are looking to obtain requires this or if you are looking to make a career change.

But what about those who wish to enhance what they can offer their current positions, or to make themselves more marketable within their chosen professions, and cannot afford the time away from their day jobs or the added expense of taking classes?

Opportunities to expand your horizons abound in many ways. Here are just a few:

  • Use networking tools at your disposal to seek tips and advice. These include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, among others. In addition to joining conversations with individuals in your field, you can also engage with forums, groups and associations on these sites.
  • Participate in your company's internal training program. Many offer online courses as an alternative. If your company doesn't offer formal education/training, don't let that stop you from learning. Reach out to someone at work who has the knowledge you desire. Afterward, pay it forward by training someone else.
  • Arrange a skill swap with friends/colleagues.
  • Research resources available through industry associations.
  • Peruse lecture notes, instructional videos, etc. online from colleges/universities that offer these materials for free, such as MIT OpenCourseware
  • Good old fashioned search is also very relevant. A lot can be gleaned from product reviews, blog posts, company literature, online news, etc.
  • Read about your topic, and then find someone (at work, online, in your network)--or better yet, a group of people--with whom you can discuss what you've read. Concepts gel much better this way, and you're likely to pick up new ideas by virtue of the conversation and collaboration.

Above all, approach the task with full intentions of enjoying the process. Remember what we learned in school as youngsters--learning can be fun.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in a Social Media Community

As many of us go through the common New Year’s ritual of reflection on the past year and goal-setting for the next, I have been contemplating some of the standout lessons I’ve learned in 2008 by participating in online communities and social networks. There are too many to list in a blog post. What stood out for you?

Credits: The reason you will not see links sourcing particular blogs is that these notes stem from recollections over online conversations, tweets, discussions at industry events (and related blog posts and tweets), online discussions and debates, Q&A forums, videos, etc. Many of the ideas developed and grew in several locations. Therefore, my source citation is everyone with whom I have conversed, collaborated, and corresponded over the last year--in other words, my social network. You.

There is no such thing as a social media “expert”. The social media mix is dynamic and differs for every business and person. The fact that I cannot pinpoint any single source to cite for this post makes this point. Isn’t this the spirit of community?

When it comes to community, interaction is key. This means human interaction. Not bots and auto DMs. And not incessant promotion.

Social networks are all about being social and networking (go figure). The quickest way to become unfollowed and unfriended is to join a network solely to advertise. People will engage in your business within context of the community discussion and will be interested in what you have to say if you say something that interests them.

Yes, social media ROI can be measured. But consider what you mean by “return” and by “investment.” Don’t look for an immediate influx of leads the day you launch an online community or join Twitter. And don’t expect to run a social media program like you would a traditional marketing program that can begin and end within a month or quarter.

Inbound marketing is powerful. It does not have to be expensive. One size does not fit all.

Content is still king. One of my b-school professors used to caution students about the difference between a contribution and a comment. This holds true for content as well. There is a lot of content out there. Make sure yours is awesome.

It is not a game of numbers. The best bloggers blog because they are passionate about what they write, even when no comments are posted to their blog. People who get the most out of Twitter do so because they stay engaged with conversations, and focus on who they are following, without concern for how many followers or friends they have.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. So thank you to all the members of my many communities for a great year of collaboration and sharing. Happy 2009!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Proud to be a Tweep

“Twitter is for wicked big losers.” Someone actually posted this exact statement as a comment on my Facebook page today.

Pretty silly, right? But it did make me think…should I try to educate this person about Twitter? Should I start listing the stats on people and businesses who have taken to Twitter? Not necessary.

The many merits of Twitter can be found on countless websites and blog posts. We are all free to use it or not. I choose to use it because it provides a contact vehicle into a group of people who have, in a short time, already made a tremendous impact on my personal and professional experience.

Ironically, my next blog post was planned as a list of key takeaways from 2008 gained from my social networks.

OK. I have a pretty thick skin and have dealt with much worse than being called a wicked big loser. And I cannot help but picture kids on a playground sticking their tongues out and singing, “Twitter is for wicked big losers.”…to which I suppose my line should be something like, “sticks and stones will break my bones….”

Kidding aside, this vast generalization got me thinking about how I would break it down further.

Here goes. I am a friend; a sister; a spouse; a daughter; a colleague; a blogger; a manager; an employee; a marketer; a neighbor; a music-lover; a technologist; an aunt; a mentor. I enjoy reading, presenting, singing, and seeing new places. I work a lot, so it’s a good thing I love marketing. I like red wine. I like meeting new people. I like cars. My preferred means of communicating is through storytelling. I care what my friends think. I have two dogs. And yep, I’m a Tweep!

As I drafted this mini-bio, it came to me--the very simple reason I use Twitter or any other social networking tool. We all have stories, backgrounds, and interests that feed into the community and impact our perspectives. Through interactive community involvement, we all get to experience the best of these from each other. And from that we grow.

Sounds like a wicked big winning proposition to me.