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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Press Release: Columbia Business School Alumni Club of NY Holds 2010 Elections

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2010

Columbia Business School Alumni Club of NY Holds 2010 Elections
Whittemore Elected to Board of Directors

Kinnelon, NJ – The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of NY (CBSAC/NY) held its 2010 Elections for officers and directors on June 21, 2010. Christine B. Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now LLC, has been elected to the board of directors for a two year term expiring May 31, 2012. She had previously served out the remaining year of Geoffrey Southworth CBS ’74 which ended May 31, 2010.

Whittemore ’93 joins Mary Reilly ’93, Craig Evans ’81, Penny Hammond ’02, Stephane Goldsand ’01, Dan McCarthy ’87, Rafael Rodas ’05, Joe Pucci ’05, Edward Rashba ’04, Frank Graziano ’82, Deborah Sanders ’91, Stacy Gilstrap ’04, and Bruce Crawford ’86 on the CBSAC/NY board of directors.

Candidates for director positions are selected from club members who have been actively involved in club operations and are graduates of the Columbia Business School. Whittemore has been active in the CBSAC/NY’s Membership Committee since 2002 and has served as Chair of the Greeters Subcommittee since 2004. In that role, she coordinates greeters for club events with the goal of ensuring peace-of-mind for the event organizer, a welcoming presence for event attendees and total focus for the event presenter.

"In recognition of her thoughtful leadership and outstanding organizational skills", says Dan McCarthy, retiring President of the CBSAC/NY, “we are delighted to welcome Christine to the Board for a new, full two year term. Her record of demonstrated commitment and exceptional service are invaluable for our all volunteer organization. Congratulations, Christine!

Directors of the CBSAC/NY have a fiduciary responsibility to oversee the proper management of the New York alumni club. The club’s mission is to strengthen the alumni network and to serve as a positive and valuable resource to the alumni of the Columbia Business School. The board of directors also selects the club executive committee, consisting of two co-presidents, treasurer and corporate secretary.

For more information about the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York (CBSAC/NY), please visit

For more information about Simple Marketing Now LLC, contact chief simplifier Whittemore at or visit the Simple Marketing Now website [] and companion weblog & newsroom – Simple Marketing Blog [].

# # #

About Simple Marketing Now LLC

Simple Marketing Now is a marketing communications consultancy. It helps organizations integrate social media and content marketing with traditional marketing to improve the customer experience and strengthen brands. For more information, visit

About The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York

The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York (CBSAC/NY) was founded by alumni for alumni in 1975. It acts as a unique educational, business networking, and social resource for all Columbia Business School graduates, students and faculty in New York City and the surrounding tri-state region. For more information, visit

Friday, June 25, 2010

Social Media For Business & Entrepreneurship - CBSAC/NY Panel Discussion

Social Media for Business and Entrepreneurship - CBSAC/NY Panel Discussion
The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of NYC [CBSAC/NY] launched its Social Media for Business series on June 16, 2010 with its inaugural panel discussion event aptly titled "Social Media for Business and Entrepreneurship. It's Here to Stay—Now What?"

Here's the description:

"Please join us for a very informative panel about social media, for the corporate marketer, the small business owner, and the “newbie” social media user. This will be the first of a seven–part educational series of social media events which will cover the full spectrum of issues regarding social media (e.g., how to utilize it to promote business and build a brand/franchise, personal branding for your career, measuring ROI , etc.). At the end of the event, volunteers will be stationed at the Samsung computers for hands-on show-and-tell."

It took place at The Samsung Experience at 10 Columbus Circle in New York City, the ultimate in digital experience and presentation spaces - and perfect for hands-on and 1:1 consulting sessions.

We started out with the perfect introduction to a session on social media for business, Erik Qualman's Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh):

[also see my post Social Media: Fad or Revolution?]

From there, the panel discussion.

The CBS AC/NY event featured four seasoned and successful entrepreneurs - Dorian Benkoil, Marshall Sponder, Jeremy Merrin and Lawrence Sherman - who actively use social media in their businesses. They  described how they have applied the tools of social media to support their business goals .

They share with us here recommendations on how to best use social media for business and entrepreneurship.

Dorian Benkoil, our moderator, has an impressive background in the media business creating strategies and leading teams to develop multiple new content and revenue streams across platforms, attract and retain millions of users and generate explosive growth in industry blogs, memberships, email newsletters, video and paid content, resulting in millions of dollars in revenue. Think,, Fairchild Publications,

He's also an award-winning journalist [i.e., a reporter, editor and foreign correspondent for ABC News, Newsweek, and The Associated Press], an expert commentator on media and a regular contributor to the Poynter Institute’s e-media Tidbits. He blogs at, writes for Bob Garfield’s The Chaos Scenario blog, and has written for Jack Myers Media Business Report, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and been quoted widely in leading publications around the world.

Dorian's company, Teeming Media, is a New York based strategic digital media business and editorial consultancy focused on helping companies manage their digital media and events toward specific business objectives. 

Here are Dorian's words of social media for business wisdom:

1. Align your marketing communications/outreach strategy with your social media. SM are big tools in the arsenal.
2. Assign someone with enough “heft” to properly execute number one. (Don’t leave your social media to the youngest person in the office, just because they’re young and use Facebook.)
3. Listen. Remember to take very seriously what folks are saying.
4. Respond. See # 3.
5. Just do it. Then measure, and adjust.

Twitter: @dbenk

Marshall Sponder is a Social Media and Analytics Consultant and Founder of – a blog renowned in the industry for its insights into analytics and social media. Marshall understands data having worked at Insights Group at MONSTER Worldwide, Inc. and His clients range from award-winning agencies such as Porter Novelli and Converseon to businesses such as Havana Central. He also co-leads the Meetup Group: NY Data Stories. Definitely read his blog if you want to better understand social media monitoring and tracking, and how to make business sense out of analytics.

Marshall's recommendations focus on his area of expertise: monitoring, tracking, aligning goals to tactics and measuring to ensure that your social media campaign delivers business results:

1. Before starting a social media campaign (or social media monitoring of the campaign) determine what your business goals are and write them down.

2. Create campaigns and marketing tactics that align with your stated business goals (i.e., be able to explain how and why they align) while still in conceptual stage (don't implement yet - just consider the campaigns)

3. Assess paid/free tools for analytics and monitoring; I suggest auditing the business goals, campaigns and tactics against the willingness and ability to monitor and track. For example, what do we need to change in order to be able to track a business goal that becomes a campaign that employs tactics.
   - Determine if there is enablement budget to put those "hooks" in place to monitor.
   - Choose the set of tools that work the best for your organizational needs (i.e., do you need daily reporting, historical database, geo local targeting - etc.).

4. Assess what additional training might be required by staff to act on the information collected by the tools - budget for training and enablement work here.

5. Put campaigns into place, ideally, once you're able to track them with analytics and listening systems which will then give you an ROI type of number you can work with.

6. Report weekly or monthly, depending on your organization's cadence and tune your campaigns and tactics as needed.

Twitter: @webmetricsguru

[Pictured here: Cecilia Pineda Feret and Jeremy Merrin]

Jeremy Merrin, EMBA ’00, is Founder and CEO of Havana Central, a New York City based restaurant and bar with three locations. Havana Central captures the essence of "classic Cuban food with the energy of old Havana" and has embraced the tools of social media to build a loyal customer base.  He works with Marshall Sponder for social media analytics and monitoring. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur he was Executive VP of Business Development at

Jeremy recommends the following:

1. Do as much testing and experimentation as possible

2. Start recording and keeping statistics on each part of your program

3. Begin to analyze the statistics as early as possible

4. As a company owner, I need to remember that this is a very new field that is rapidly changing. Nevertheless, I stay focused on learning how to monetize our efforts spent in this area.

5. Bite off only as much as you can chew. Only add on additional platforms when you have the bandwidth to handle them.

Twitter: @jmhavana

Lawrence Sherman, FACME, CCMEP, brings an unusual perspective to the discussion of social media for business:  that of medical educator.  He is a medical educational professional known worldwide for using new and unique approaches such as social media in medical education. He works for Prova Education, an evidence-based continuing medical education organization for physicians and healthcare professionals, as senior vice president of educational strategy. You can get a taste for Lawrence's take on social media and medicine via this 29 min video clip.

Lawrence's advice consists of the following:

1.  Know your audience(s) and their needs and preferences.  Sometimes you have to ask them!

2.  Think about where in your business model social media can fit - in medical education we can assess educational needs, promote educational programs, and create private environments for assessment of impact.

3.  Many times the users don't know what they don't know or what they can do, so you often have to point things out to them.  Social media fits many communications needs but may not be obvious to them.

4.  You can't treasure it if you can't measure it, so design social media strategies and uses that have measurable objectives.

Twitter:  @meducate
Join the LinkedIn CME Group

Additional Social Media For Business & Entrepreneurship Resources:

CB Whittemore talking social mediaIf you attended the Social Media For Business & Entrepreneurship Event, you received a reference sheet listing contact information and additional sources for social medial information. I list them here.

From Cecilia Pineda Feret, the event Co-chair:

From the event Hands-On Volunteers:
Benjamin Bloom, Digital Strategist at Wunderman, social business strategy, mobile platforms, digital innovation
Twitter: @bsbnyc

He suggests that you follow: @bpglobalpr, @fredwilson, @pkedrosky, @twelpforce

Brad Jobling, Social Media Manager, Columbia University Department of Surgery, Office of External Affairs
Twitter: @bradjobling
His blog Curiously Social

Mo Krochmal, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations, Hofstra University
Twitter: @krochmal

Mo suggests checking out: "Open Leadership" by Charlene Li and "Get Seen" by Steve Garfield

Visit these URLs: [his Facebook social media page], Hyperlocal Community News: and

Follow on Twitter: @amyvernon @lizstrauss

Amy Vernon, Freelance writer, editor and digital strategist. And Bacon Queen.
Her site:

Carmina Perez, Writer/speaker/Internet marketing consultant - "Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses"
Her website:
Her blog: Mogulette in the Making
Twitter: @mogulette

Christine B. Whittemore [aka CB -- yes, me, and that's also me deep in conversation during the 1:1 hands-on session], Chief Simplifier, Simple Marketing Now LLC
Twitter:  @cbwhittemore
Facebook: SimpleMarketingNow

A few resources I've put together on Getting Started with Social Media:
+ How Do I? Series
+Simplifying Social Media. For Research, Connection & Differentiation  which includes links to my Twitter and social media series and other resources.

From the event itself:
Flickr slideshow of the Social Media For Business and Entrepreneurship event.

Twitter list for those involved in CBSAC/NY and social media. [Thank you, Mo!]

I've created a Twitter transcript of the #cbsacnysm tweets.


Many thanks to the CBSAC/NY Social Media Committee, Sobel Media Events, a digital media connections company, and Samsung with special thanks to Cecilia Pineda Feret ’92 and Bill Sobel [Twitter: @bsobel226] for making this event happen.

The CBSAC/NY social media committee includes:
Co-chairs: Laurie C. Moses, Ashish Sharma and Cecilia Pineda Feret and Members: Mary Reilly, Alison Rooney, Christine B. Whittemore
Twitter: @cbsacny
Facebook: Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York
LinkedIn Group for the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York

Special thanks, too, to Dorian Benkoil, Marshall Sponder, Jeremy Merrin and Lawrence Sherman for so graciously sharing their wisdom in this post. I really enjoyed meeting Brad Jobling, Ben Bloom, Mo Krochmal, Amy Vernon and Carmina Perez.


If you attended, what  were your takeaways? What ideas and questions do our panelists' recommendations trigger?

I hope you'll join us for the next event.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Making Customer Service More Social On MarketingProfs Daily Fix

How About Making Customer Service More Social? on MarketingProfs Daily Fix
If you haven't yet had a chance, you might check out 'How About Making Customer Service More Social?', my latest post on MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

The discussion in the comments section has been robust.  Perhaps you'd like to add to it?

Here's how the post ends:

"Humility, respect for customers, a willingness to appreciate individuals within corporate walls as well as outside, a desire to improve and truly delight, proper training, openness to a variety of perspectives, a willingness to empower and be human and a strong desire to listen.  All characteristics of a social customer-service company.

What would you add?"

Thank you for reading!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Press Release: Newly Launched Content Marketing Institute Offers Practical Content Marketing Advice

For Immediate Release: June 21, 2010

Newly launched Content Marketing Institute Offers Practical Content Marketing Advice
Brightest Content Marketers Contribute How-To Insights

Kinnelon, NJ – The newly launched Content Marketing Institute (CMI), developed by Junta42, offers B2B and B2C marketers practical, no-nonsense content marketing advice from the brightest content marketing professionals in the industry. Christine B. Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now LLC, is a contributor.

Content marketing, the art of communicating with customers and prospects without selling, is a form of non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching products or services, a marketer delivers consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers. In turn, buyers are more informed, and., they ultimately reward organizations with their business and loyalty.

The Content Marketing Institute focuses on content strategy, content creation, content promotion and distribution, content management, and content measurement and analysis. The site features a daily blog that shares how-to tips on executing content marketing, samples of great content and case studies of how companies are executing their content marketing strategies.

“The Content Marketing Institute offers marketers and business owners how-to information about content marketing in any venue: online, mobile, in-person and print,“ says Joe Pulizzi, CMI founder, co-author of THE handbook on content marketing, Get Content Get CustomersThanks to expert contributors such as Christine, the CMI is able to equip marketers with practical DIY advice that they can implement into their overall marketing programs."

Content marketers and business owners can sign up for CMI posts for free. Simply go to

For more information about the Content Marketing Institute, contact Joe Pulizzi at joe[at]

For more information about Simple Marketing Now LLC, contact chief simplifier Whittemore at or visit the Simple Marketing Now website [] and companion weblog & newsroom – Simple Marketing Blog [].


About Simple Marketing Now LLC
Simple Marketing Now is a marketing communications consultancy that provides organizations with the right combination of traditional marketing and new and digital tools to improve the customer experience and build brand.  For more information, visit

About Junta42
Junta42, the independent authority on content marketing, brings clients and vendors together through its custom publishing service, replacing the lengthy RFP process. Project posting is free and includes custom magazines, content microsites, blogs, white papers, enewsletters and over 20 other custom content project categories.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flooring Your Consumer: Luxury Marketing Council Presentation

Victoria Cerrone, Chris Ramey, Christine Whittemore - Luxury Marketing Council FloridaMany thanks to Chris Ramey, president of Affluent Insights and chairman of The Luxury Marketing Council Florida, and Victoria Cerrone from Bobosart, who invited me to present "Flooring the Consumer: Developing Community and Delivering Wow!" at the April 28, 2010 Luxury Marketing Council in Orlando.

[Details listed in Press Release: Whittemore Addresses The Luxury Marketing Council Orlando.]

Here's how Chris described the presentation in his meeting invitation:

It's a wow or woe world for marketers. 

Women, who make or influence over 80% of purchase decisions, are rethinking their relationships with brands, products and services.  They're searching for meaningful relationships.  Are you prepared to serve them?  As their purses slowly open again it's imperative to provide a community to which they have an affinity.  Christine will share the best of the best, and then discuss how you can develop your community and deliver Wow! to ensure your success.

In this presentation, I address many of the points that I write about in Flooring The Consumer, my marketing blog about the consumer retail experience and marketing to women. These are also themes that I've developed in my Flooring The Consumer column with Floor Covering Weekly.  We have so many opportunities for building relationships with our customers when we carefully craft a memorable brand or retail experience that truly focuses on our consumers' needs.

Here is the Slideshare of my presentation:

For your reference, here are a few books specifically about Marketing to Women that I recommend for further reading:  

I'm particularly honored that, as a result of my experience with The Luxury Marketing Council, I have become a member of the distinguished Luxury Marketing Council Florida Fellows. Here's more:

The Luxury Marketing Council Florida Fellowship was created to recognize those who have demonstrated distinction in the luxury segment and to The Luxury Marketing Council Florida.  Elevation to Luxury Marketing Council Florida Fellowship requires and acknowledges:
  • Professional achievement
  • The highest level of ethics
  • Respect bestowed by colleagues
  • Leadership and mentorship across categories
  • Open sharing of knowledge, research and insight for the advancement of effective marketing and seat-holders’ business acumen 
Thank you, Chris and Victoria, for this honor!

Thanks, too, for the opportunity for insightful conversation and questions about the importance of listening carefully to customers to develop a loyal community and deliver consistent Wow!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#TalkFloor Series: Advanced Twitter

#TalkFloor Series: Advanced Twitter
Are you ready for Advanced Twitter and How to Make Sense of Twitter for Business? TalkFloor's Dave Foster and I are continuing with our special #TalkFloor social media series and ready to discuss that very subject.  You can participate with us via Twitter as you listen to the recorded interviews.

Part I was titled #TalkFloor Series on Social Media and addressed What is Twitter and Why Should I Care?

Part II was titled #TalkFloor Series: Twitter & Social Media and addressed How To Get Started With Twitter.

This segment covers Advanced Uses For Twitter.

Dave's Twitter handle is @DaveTalkFloor and mine is @cbwhittemore. Consider following us. Feel free to practice some of what we discuss. If you want to Tweet us questions, simply use #TalkFloor and the '@' to direct the question to us. I'm listening!

Dave's introduction to this interview reads as follows:

Christine Whittemore – All About Social Networking - Part 3
Christine Whittemore, Simple Marketing Now, in the third segment in an ongoing series on social networking talks about advanced uses For Twitter, setting up TweetDeck and conducting multiple parallel searches as well as the prime benefits of Twitter and the prime differences between Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook.

This segment is in three parts, each approximately 10 minutes long.

These are my show notes for the segment.

Advanced Twitter Introduction

At this point, you’ve set up a Twitter account, you’ve experimented with it, done searches using and, and you’ve shortened some URLs using If you’ve done it enough, you’ve started to get aggravated with the inefficiency of working with 3 browser tabs, going back and forth.  That’s when you know you are ready to go to the next step and set up TweetDeck.

What is TweetDeck? How Do You Use It?

TweetDeck is a free, third party Adobe Air desktop application. The best part about TweetDeck [some others are Seesmic, HootSuite, Twhirl, …] is that it allows you to create multiple parallel searches that you can easily edit and monitor so you can make sense of the Twitter Stream of the people you follow. You can filter based on the keywords or terms that matter to you.

When you download it [just go to a search window and type in TweetDeck; you can also get a version for your iPhone. For your Blackberry, an equivalent tool is UberTwitter..], you’ll see 3 columns:

- All Friends
- Mentions
- Direct Messages

Go ahead and add more columns! You might add a column for #TalkFloor or flooring, perhaps a brand name or a company name.

You might create a group and have a column for tweets made by those in the group [e.g., all those involved in home interiors or green based on their profiles].

As you filter, you can start to pay attention to who says what, and then start interacting by: RT or addressing someone directly with @. Then share some links.  By the way, TweetDeck automatically shortens links - a marvelous feature!

Making Meaning out of Twitter

Twitter is different from LinkedIn and Facebook where you connect based on who you know professionally and casually. Twitter allows you to connect based on AFFINITY and shared interests. Similar to an in-person networking event except that you have a better chance of quickly finding people with whom you share a lot in common. I find it extremely beneficial as a B2B tool whereas others have found it extremely useful as a customer service tool, or for special offers, for ordering, to communicate specific information [e.g., the Red Cross], for focus group type research, for conversational marketing or generating word of mouth. It all depends.

Whole Foods, for example: each store has its own Twitter account. There’s also a Whole Foods Twitter account for cheese and one for wine. [For more about Whole Foods and other Twitter success stories, read Twitter Success Stories From MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer.]

If you search under keywords or terms that are relevant to you, you’ll notice people whose tweets appeal to you. Consider following them.

Word of Caution: Don’t plan on building your following over night. Focus on quality rather than quantity. Build it slowly, consistently over time. Beware of schemes that promise you 10 million followers. You will regret it.

I build my network by connecting with folks I meet at conferences or in anticipation of a conference by following the # for that conference.  During webinars, I follow and share observations via Twitter and meet liked minded professionals.

There are events called Meetups and Tweetups – ie.., meetings organized online. At Coverings, I participated in a Tweetup and met several fascinating people with whom I continue to exchange updates and relevant information. [If you are in the Northern New Jersey area, consider attending a Meetup of New Jersey Open Coffee - Montclair.]

Meetups address -
Tweetups address –

Check Out a Twitter Chat!

Another fascinating event that takes place on Twitter is a Twitterchat - a regularly occurring conversation on a specific topic usually weekly and at a set time. There are a whole range of Twitter chats available. For example: #PRchat #carchat #booktweet or #BlogChat.

Here’s how it works.

The organizer will put together a summary blogpost in anticipation of the event listing discussion topic and questions for the Twitterchat.

On the day of the event, you can participate by creating a search column with the # for the event in TweetDeck, or use another application such at WhatTheHashtag. At the start, the moderator will do introductions and start the conversation by asking questions sequentially and responding to participants. Event can last 1 hour+. When it’s over, the moderator will summarize key points in a recap and include a transcript.

How to Build Your Twitter Following:

Other ways to build your following:
Use the Social Flooring Index to explore other Twitter accounts in the flooring industry.

You can search on ExecTweets and explore those accounts.

Two resources – WeFollow and Twellow – allow you to find users by subject area. There’s also Twellowhood which is geography based.

Ideas on How to Use Twitter for Business

WiseGrass uses Twitter to exchange perspectives and get advice from fellow businesspeople.[See Small Businesses Marketing With Twitter: WiseGrass, NakedPizza, Berry Chill.]

Let’s say you are a big supporter of Girls Scouts. The Girls Scouts has several active Twitter presences. You can connect with them on Twitter and help them get the word out.

Street food vendors around the country use Twitter to announce where they will be selling, and what they have available. [e.g., talk about a fascinating mobile/geo location based use of Twitter].

Laura Gainor used Twitter in combination with a few other tools [Twitpik and Twitvid + Foursquare] to stand out for a position when she was relocating from Charlotte to Milwaukee. [See Simplifying Social Media. For Research, Connection, Differentiation.]

Be sure to integrate your Twitter activity with LinkedIn and Facebook

What’s the point of all of this Twitter stuff?

Digital visibility! Twitter is search engine visible. It’s a way for you to differentiate yourself, it’s a way for you to be visible, to reach out and provide value.

Common Twitter Mistakes To Avoid:

At the recent MarketingProfs B2B Forum, I offered 20 minute 1 on 1 Twitter consulting advice to corporate marketers. My sessions started out with a quick evaluation to find patterns that got in the way of effective Twitter engagement. Here are some of the patterns I was on the lookout for:

- Unequal follower/following numbers
- No engagement - as in all tweets coming from you without any kind of interaction with others. May include a lot of 'shouting', too.  It's usually because someone is tweeting from the web and has no idea conversation is taking place! This may make sense for a news organization, but not really for individuals.
- Tweeting as a corporate entity rather than as a person with a human voice.

What's Your Twitter Assignment?

Here's your assignment: Go explore! Think about how Twitter can create value for your business by thinking how you can offer value to others using the tool.

You may find the following links interesting:
+ 21 Tips for Using Twitter for Business
+ How to Use Twitter Events to Grow Your Network

Questions or comments? Please send a Tweet to @cbwhittemore or email me at cbwhittemore @ simple marketing

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Think Like A Content Marketer: Content Marketing Institute's How To

How To Think Like A Content Marketer
Published yesterday on Junta42's new Content Marketing Institute, my first post.  It's titled "How to Think Like a Content Marketer."

I'd love your reactions.

Even more, I'd love to hear what ah-ha moments you've experienced that led you to think like a content marketer!

Thank you for reading.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How Do I? Prepare For Social Feedback

How Do I?
For a while now, I've been thinking about social feedback -- i.e., customer feedback in a social world [for more background, see Social Media Club North Jersey: Customer Feedback In a Social World]. Yes, it can be scary and possibly even unpleasant. But feedback is gold. It indicates that someone is paying attention and cares enough about you to take precious time and communicate with you. That effort, though, comes with expectations about your response. How best to prepare yourself, then?

How Do I Prepare For Social Feedback?

The best starting point, in my mind, is to strip away all of the distracting technology angles.  Focus simply on your customers or readers and determine what it is that you want to accomplish with them? Do you intend to sell them something? Educate them? Build a relationship? Exchange ideas?

Next, think about all of the channels you have available for communicating with your audience: telephone, email, website, social channels, in-person: what kinds of conversations are already taking place [sales, problem resolution, education, relationship-building, ...]? Are you consistent in your customer messages across those channels and those conversations?  Consistency is critical because the channels themselves are irrelevant to your audience.  Regardless of how, customers expect to reach you, they expect you to acknowledge and that you will interact consistently.

This is where guidelines are invaluable [see How Do I Start With Social Media Guidelines?], internally to reach consensus across functions, roles, locations, etc. on how to respond, the frequency of response, and the consistency of response, as well as externally so your audience knows what to expect from you.

But, what about worst case scenarios? Have you thought through them? What if one were to happen? How would your respond?

PR News in Take a Public Relations Crisis by the Horns from the 1/11/10 newsletter says that "avoidance is no longer an option" and recommends the following steps which are as relevant offline as they are online:

1. "Own it": be proactive with your news.
2. "Act quickly, but tread carefully"
3. Be simple, consistent and honest in the message you communicate.
4. If you have news to communicate, better to get it out [reinforces step #1: own it].
5. Don't avoid those who are critical of you. "Not allowing access only allows for additional animosity and potential false reporting."

The Zen Way to Deal with Negative Commentary Online from Liz Strauss' Successful and Outstanding Blog offers valuable advice for responding to online negative comments: do so "publicly, honestly and as quickly as possible. Don't ever think about creating an alias... you will get caught and it will cause more damage to your reputation."

The author, Shama Kabani, suggests checking the facts and offering to resolve issues at a high level.  "Becoming an active part of the conversation that is already taking place among your customers, employees, prospects, and competitors is the best way to prevent negative comments from taking over your online reputation."

Note her comments about establishing a policy; they echo Penalty Cards in Social Media Communities' recommendation to have "a policy that is viewable by the public."  The policy requires that you have considered various outcomes and making it public means that you are transparent about how you do business - and increasingly critical business expectation.

Speaking of expectations, Denise Zimmerman makes several valuable points in When to Respond to Negative Buzz. First, about reviews.  They are valuable for your business and provide you with invaluable feedback.  Second, about expectations.  She says "...but then you've got Twitter and Facebook.  They have grown exponentially in scope and in speed.  The additional element is that there is an expectation from the customer that you're going to respond..."

I touch on expectations in Social Media Club North Jersey: Customer Feedback in a Social World; here are a few more I received in response to that post on June 2nd:

Ksenia Coffman KseniaCoffman
   @CBWhittemore RE: response via SM -> Within 1 biz day if it's an SM company (biz related to SM); 2 days to never if others :-)

Alyssa G agardina
  @CBWhittemore Great post! Really surprised at some of the responses - a few hours? The person on SM might not have your answer that fast.  

Gary Gertz ggert
@CBWhittemore interesting to me that I recently started complaining LOUDLY about @USAirways and have rcvd 0 response in 144 hours  

[and none as of 6/8/10. Not impressive.]
Customers expect a response. If they don't get it, they have reason to resort to more public forums to force a response.  The lesson: be listening, be paying attention and be ready to respond consistently. The social feedback you receive is rich and conducive to insightful conversation, but you must be prepared and willing to welcome it.

Given that many of us are entering into unchartered territory when we engage socially, it's important to remember that, despite being part of sometimes large corporate entities, when we engage socially we do so as individuals wanting to interact with other individuals.  Mistakes happen. Yet, if we remember that we're 'all in this together', we have the opportunity to learn from mistakes and strengthen relationships. Here's a great example: Boeing as described in The Right Way to Make Your Social-Media Mea Culpa which reminds us that:

1. One is many: A conversation with one unhappy [or happy] customer can easily become a conversation with many.
2. Engage immediately.
3. Be honest and take responsibility.
4. Lose the corporate-speak.
5. Put a face on it.
6. Let the fans talk.
7. Learn from it.

Finally, read Seven Things Your Organization Must Do Because of Social Media. The examples - Greenpeace vs. Nestle and Dave Carroll vs. Airlines - are classics.  The lessons even moreso:

1. You must be proactive.
2. You must improve customer support.
3. You must listen.
4. You must participate.
5. You must respond.
6. You must move faster.
7. You must realize every employee is a marketer.

Social feedback enables interaction with people.  Are you prepared? What would you add?

Check out other posts in the How Do I? series.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Twitter Success Stores From MarketingProfs Digital Mixer 2009

MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer 09There's something about Twitter Success Stories that makes my practical soul dance a jig. Even more so when the success stories address real business needs, come moderated by the likes of Paul Chaney, Social Media Handyman, take place at a MarketingProfs event - this one the 2009 Digital Marketing Mixer - and offer a firsthand opportunity to learn from brilliant marketers!

Imagine hearing from Marla Erwin from Whole Foods, David Deal from RazorFish, Ramon DeLeon from Domino's and Allan Schoenberg from CME Group. Cool!

Marla Erwin, Interactive Art Director, Whole Foods Market

Follow her on Twitter @MarlaErwin.

Whole Foods has embraced Twitter. The @WholeFoods HQ Twitter account is primarily a retail account. As of 6/3/10, it has 1,764,325 followers and has published 8,720 tweets. Definitely visit the account and you'll observe how active it is - issuing 'fresh organic tweets from HQ in Austin, TX' - and how much interaction takes place between Whole Foods and its followers.

What I love is that Whole Foods Market has created a landing page for all of its Twitter accounts. Not only is there the HQ account, and accounts for major metropolitan areas, and individual Whole Foods stores, but you will also find topical resources such as....
As Marla explained, approximately half of Whole Foods stores are online [as of October 2009], but the list is growing fast. The Twitter accounts are promoted everywhere - via print and digital assets, including recipes which include links.

I found interesting that in addition to Twitter accounts that epitomize social, Whole Foods has chosen to automatically feed recipes on one account. Not too dissimilar from a news account automatically feeding headlines with links to articles.

Here are Marla's recommendations on what to do to be successful on Twitter:

DO offer value. It can be customer service value [e.g., incentives] as well as content [news, soft content, film reviews].
DO create community.
DO interact: answer questions [95% of @wholefoods interaction is in response to questions], ask questions, monitor mentions
DO stay tuned in [otherwise, you might experience a 'Google Bomb' such as #amazonfail].
DO banish PR and legal.
DO use Twitter features [for example: @ # RT, please]
DO experiment.

Marla considers the following sure-fire ways to fail with Twitter:

If you do nothing but self promote.
Don't use bots. Autoresponders are conversation killers.
Don't outsource! Your tweeting should come from the heart with understanding and knowledge [i.e., an authentic belief and understanding of your brand].

She encouraged the audience to think in terms of creating a hub around common issues and concerns. For example, Newell Rubbermaid has created:

+ With Graco Baby a hub around parenthood
+ With Rubbermaid Adventures in Organization, a hub around getting organized
+ With Sharpie Uncapped, a hub around creativity

David Deal, VP Marketing, RazorFish

Follow him on Twitter @davidjdeal.

David explained that Twitter supports the Razorfish brand and business. All employees are encouraged to participate in Twitter [the company provides guidelines]. After all, employees represent the brand and the company wants to practice what it preaches.

The @RazorFish Twitter account has 25,394 followers and has posted 2,276 updates. You'll notice that David and 3 associates primarily manage the account and it is rich in content, updates and ideas relating to creating engaging digital experiences.

As David explained, success for Razorfish on Twitter is a function of talking about what the company is passionate about: how to be a better marketer and breakthroughs in design because that relates to digital. He considers it critical to be personal and practical. Notice that the tweets are signed so readers know who they are interacting with [it also combats the feeling of being 'stalked'!]. Twitter also helps enhance events and make events more engaging.

Ramon DeLeon

Ramon DeLeon, Operating Partner, Domino's Pizza

Follow him on Twitter @Ramon_DeLeon. As of 6/4/10, Ramon has 5,227 followers and has published 10,852 tweets single-handedly all relating to Domino's, pizza and his customers. Pretty cool.

If you haven't heard of, read or met Ramon DeLeon, you are missing someone who truly 'gets' what communicating with customers is all about. Plus, he is salt of the earth and practical to boot!

Ramon's suggestions for success: he says that it's critical to give people something to talk about. You definitely need a plan. Make sure to interact in real life [note in the articles below examples of those interactions including with Foursquare participants!]. Search for events to be involved in. Be ready to share and everything is content worthy.

A few links you will find interesting that bring Ramon's approach to life:
+ Chicago's Ramon DeLeon live on CNN for Gravity Summit Social Media Conference
+ How Local Pizza Franchise Owner Ramon DeLeon Is Rocking It Using Social Media: SMSS10 Day 2
+ Tweeting Pizzas
+ Case Study: Ramon De Leon Turns Passion and Social Media into Success
+ Andy’s Answers: How Ramon De Leon of Domino’s engages in nonstop brand conversations

Allan Schoenberg, Director, Corporate Communications, CME Group

Follow him on Twitter @AllanSchoenberg. He has 5,388 followers and has issued [yikes!] 14,908 tweets as of 6/4/10. However, check out the CME Group Twitter account with 755,984 followers and 7,285 updates.

CME Group is not your typical social media company. Per the website, CME Group builds "on the heritage of CME, CBOT, NYMEX and COMEX, [and]... serves the risk management needs of customers around the globe. We provide the widest range of benchmark futures and options products available on any exchange, covering all major asset classes, including interest rates, equities, FX, commodities, and alternative investments such as weather and real estate. CME Group's vision is one of ongoing global growth, innovative product development, continually enhanced technology and the highest level of service available on any exchange."

In other words, CME Group operates in the highly regulated financial industry and yet has found a way to engage via social media.

As Allan explained, Twitter is a beacon, increasing awareness and drawing interested parties to private groups on LinkedIn [more specifically, Equity Index Products, Careers in the Futures Industry, Journalist and bloggers, Interest Rates, and CME Group Forex Products] or its Facebook fan page.

What's critical is demonstrating brand enthusiasm, loyalty and advocacy. Simply read through CMEGroup's tweets and you'll get a feel for it!

Allan says that Stock twits and bookmarking are a big deal. You'll notice on the left sidebar of CMEGroup's Twitter page icons for Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious - all bookmarking resources.

His words of advice: know your limits and focus on your audience.

Twitter is not a silver bullet, but it is effective when integrated with your overall strategy!

Paul, thanks for putting together such a dynamic panel with such relevant Twitter Success Stories to Share!

Do you have Twitter Success Stories to share? I'd love to hear about them.

Added 6/5/10: Reach Customers in 140 Characters, All of Them Free

Photo Credits:
Both from Britopian: MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer, 2009 and Ramon De Leon w/Dominos - MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer, 2009

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Social Media Club North Jersey: Customer Feedback In a Social World

Social Media Club North Jersey: I love you. I hate you. Customer Feedback in a Social World.My Social Media Club North Jersey presentation, titled "I love you. I hate you. Customer Feedback in a Social World." attracted an intimate yet passionate crowd on May 25th, 2010 in Secaucus, NJ. Many thanks to those there for participating and contributing such valuable perspectives and insights!

Janet Sullivan from JKS Webdesign shared her experiences with Viking. Chris Kieff from 1 Good Reason took us through the Nestle Social Media Meltdown Case Study and Devon Valenti shared learnings and best practices from CoPilot Live North America. A very special thank you to Carly Pearson from Axiom Communications Inc. for her help in making the event a success! Thanks, too, to Mike Menche, whom we missed, for his gracious support.

We touched on learnings from past Social Media Club North Jersey events. Namely, Urban Outfitters and Why Companies Should Consider Adopting a Social Media Policy, as Suzanne Herrmann Brock explained in April.

We also had a fascinating discussion around expectations of customer service responsiveness via social media - as consumers and as business people. Chris Kieff [Twitter: @ckieff] asked his Twitter followers who offered the following feedback:

@ckieff Depending on the industry, 2-3 business days. Some longer, especially if you know there's a lot of red tape around your answer.

From @kimberlydenz:
@ckieff If they have twitter and fb, they need a social media policy. I expect a response within a few hours. Making me wait a day is rude.

From @SweetSoaps:
@ckieff answer in 24 hours no excuse

From @sherrilynne:
@ckieff 24 hours tops.

From @ggertz:
Less than 4 hours - or they are dead to me RT @ckieff: Any more comments on how quickly you expect a company to respond via social media?

@ckieff Familiar with the sunset rule? Respond to all incoming communications before the end of they day

From @mattyouens:
@ckieff my experience has been a response in either a few hours or not at all.

Our offline group expressed a bit more time tolerance, although we all emphatically stated that we expect acknowledgment and followup.

What's your take on the question?

While you're thinking, here is the presentation itself. I hope to add a video link with highlights from the presentation in the near future.
Note: you can find links to the videos I played in Simplifying Social Media. For Research, Connection & Differentiation.
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