Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.54.37 AMSocial media marketing is a digital bridge that humanizes the brand online with offline benefits.

However, before your brand can build that social media digital bridge you must first confront the fears that I call ~ the elephant in the room.

I've been working in the social media space for over 12-years. In terms of digital that has to be at least 4 lifetimes! During that time there's been a new generation of business managers and entrepreneurs who have 'grown-up' using social media for fun and personal use.

However, the leap in understanding social media as a business tool often remains a frightening mystery for many.

Recently I was chatting with a smart, young - aka a Millennium, woman who launched a food venture. She had a new, pretty website complete with eCommerce features. However there was not a social icon to be found.

Toby: Why?

Food Entrepreneur: It frightens me. 

Toby: Why?

Food Entrepreneur: People are mean online. I'm working very hard to build a brand and I don't want people to hijack a social channel.

 What I've come to realize, from working with thousands of people in my consulting and training roles, is --

social media education is both emotional and logical.

The lens of how social media marketing is perceived differs for each person and within each company culture. Addressing fears/concerns, or facing the elephant in the room, should be one of the first steps in creating consensus regarding developing a social media roadmap.

5 Common Media Fears: Trolls. Sales. Technology. Track. Time.

Sorry to say, there are no canned or simple answers. However, here are a few ideas to get you started in how to evaluate the elephant in the room.

Trolls. For some like my friend the food entrepreneur, fear of trolls that might sabotage your brand is at the top of the list.

Tips: Listen for negative reviews or trolls sabotaging your brand. Watch your channels. Set up Google Alerts or Talk Walker Alerts. Create a reputation management plan. Each situation must be reviewed and action taken based on its merits.

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Sales. Other people might have a concern if their financial investment (note: social media marketing is never free) will produce direct sales results.

Tips: Tricky depending on your product or service. For eCommerce and sales made face-to-face including telephone - include a "what influenced your purchase decision" question. Track direct orders from Facebook and Pinterest. Track website conversions. Add tracking codes. Consider additional forms of Return on Investment e.g. reach, awareness, amplification, relationships.

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Technology. Call it technology or call it tools new platforms continuously emerge and the try and true e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest update and change terms at a drop of the hat. How do you keep current?!

Tips: Determine which channels you receive the most success from in terms of your goals (see Track below). Spend the majority of your time on these networks.

Identify a channel or two that is interesting to you to sandbox. Your focus is to learn and play. Perhaps you see a growth in your customers beginning to explore that platform like SnapChat. Or maybe the technology is a new feature of a platform you currently use like Facebook Live.

Subscribe to newsletters or blogs. Follow the network on Twitter and Facebook. Create Google Alert or Talk Walker Alerts. Attend conferences. Read books. Search out webinars. 

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Track.What to track, how to track and how to make sense of the mountain of data is another valid concern.

Tips: This is should be an easy fix. Go back to your roadmap and review what you wrote that determines success. Return on Investment e.g. reach, awareness, amplification, relationships. Often less is more.

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Time. Of course, the one on so many people's list is T-I-M-E. Even if you subcontract the execution there are reports to read, content decisions to make and results to evaluate.


Tips: Another tricky one. Of course it's dependent on your content direction and the number of social channels. Begin with developing a simple, topic driven content calendar. Lucky you if there are people who will support you in content development.

Keep in mind content can be text, video, photos, graphics. You can modify content to fit different channel but please don't take the lazy route of dumping the exact same words in each channel. Play to the strengths of the channel. 

Build time for engagement, listening, analytic review. Blog posts take longer than a tweet. What's the sweet spot ~ perhaps 3-hours a week???

For those who would like a PDF of the tips ---


Love to learn how you combat these challenges!


Screen Shot 2016-09-11 at 10.03.50 AMIn between the spaces of silence and words and tears are memories...

That 9-11 is personal.

In between the spaces of silence and words and tears are stories...

That 9-11 is people

In between the spaces of silence and words and tears is inspiration...

That 9-11 is the fortitude of the human spirit

In between the spaces of silence and words and tears is inclusion...

That 9-11 belongs to all of the citizens of the world.

In between the spaces of silence and words and tears are  ... 

That 9-11 is _________ what is in your  .

In between the spaces of silence and words and tears is hope.

That 9-11 must be about our future as much as of our past

This post is dedicated to my dear friend B.L. Ochman.

Photo from @PRyan's tweet.

9/11 Memorial



Recently I was chatting with long time BBF, Paul Chaney, about the changes in social media from the days when we began in what was then called The Blogosphere. Paul wondered if search on Twitter or Instagram could be a good business tool.

He kindly offered to share his views and research on Diva Marketing. How could I say no to such a generous offer? Hope you enjoy Paul's post.

Paul Chaney _pianoFirst, About Paul Chaney. 

Paul is an online marketing consultant, editor, writer, and author with more than 20 years experience in the digital marketing space.

He’s written four books that cover the topics of business blogging, social media marketing, and social commerce, the most notable of which is entitled "The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media," published by John Wiley and Sons in 2009.

He is currently a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and also maintains a client-base of small to mid-size companies. Paul is a sought-after speaker on digital and marketing topics. Oh yes, and he's an accomplished musician! Connect with Paul Chaney on Twitter | LinkedIn 

Twitter Search or Instagram Search: Which is Better for Business? - By Paul Chaney

One of the ways I've benefitted most from my career in social media is the people I have met along the way, not the least of which is Toby. We're joined at the hip personally and professionally and have been for the better part of 12 years.

Another good friend — someone familiar to both Toby and me — is Bill Flitter, founder and CEO of dlvr.it, a content distribution platform.

Bill pioneered RSS advertising years ago and, despite his boyish good looks (which belie his clean Midwestern upbringing), is a long-time veteran of the social media marketing wars. (I'm sure he would show you his scars if you ask; or possibly not.)

Twitter Search or Instagram Search? That Is the Question

The reason I mention Bill is, recently, I was milling about on the dlvr.it blog when I came across a post about Twitter search and then another about Instagram search.

I can't tell you the last time I thought about either of the two platforms, at least in a search-related context — particularly Instagram, which I use to post images taken with my smartphone from time to time.

I also wondered why Bill and company would devote entire posts to the respective topics. There must have been a reason. My interest was piqued.

With Twitter's waning popularity, compared to Instagram's rise in prominence, I began to wonder which platform would serve a business better, from a search standpoint. As it turns out, that was Bill's premise, too.

With his permission, I pulled some information from each post, to evaluate their respective features and benefits and draw some conclusions.

Twitter Search

First of all, Twitter "Connect" (which you see referenced in the dlvr.it post) no longer exists. It was an experiment that failed, apparently, replaced by "Notifications."

Regardless, the real benefit to Twitter search for business lies in its "Advanced" feature, which allows more refined search capabilities, such as multiple search filters and operators

(Note: You have to be logged in to gain access to advanced search, and it only works with the desktop version.)

To use advanced search, begin by entering a keyword in the search field located in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Let’s use “small business” as our example.

Twitter then redirects you to the search returns page. Click the “More Options” link in the menu bar. That opens a sub-menu. Look to the bottom and click “Advanced Search.”

Paul post 8_16 figure1-twitter-advanced-search

As the following screenshot from the dlvr.it blog post illustrates, you can search by various parameters: words, people, places, dates, and even sentiment. Options exist under each category, to let you dig even deeper.

Paul post 8_16 figure2-dlvrit-Twitter-Search-Advanced-Search

From the example, a pizza shop owner in San Jose, California can find Twitter users within a ten-mile radius who have pizza on the brain at a given moment.

This discovery enables the owner to join in the conversation, perhaps offering a time-sensitive discount tied to a hashtag. And that's only one of the many possibilities advanced search offers from a marketing perspective.

Others include:

  • Find mentions of your brand;
  • Surface all tweets from an event you attended;
  • Gather customer testimonials;
  • Monitor sentiment about a competitor's brand (or yours);
  • Find influencers or brand ambassadors;
  • Thank customers for doing business with you.

Truly, the list is as endless as your ability to come up with crafty ways to mine the treasure trove of data.

For more inspiration and ways to use advanced search, visit Twitter's support page on the topic.

Instagram Search

Where Twitter's advanced search gives users the ability to refine their efforts, Instagram restricts the search options on its app to Top, People, Tags, and Places.

Paul post 8_16 figure3-instagram-search

Of the four, Tags is likely the best option because Instagram bases its platform on them. (Post an image or video without using a hashtag? Perish the thought!)

Perhaps the best way to use Instagram search is not to use it at all but rely on third-party tools such as Picodash, or my favorite, Iconosquare. Both are premium services but offer more advanced search capabilities than Instagram itself.

Despite the limited search functions, you can make a business case for Instagram.

You can use it to:

  • Find people to follow;
  • Find hashtags related to your business or industry;
  • Search by place for people to follow;
  • Engage with nearby customers;
  • Get involved in trending conversations.

In comparing the two platforms, Twitter provides a superior search experience in my view due to the many variables and operators. Instagram, however, offers a more serendipitous journey of discovery.

In either case, there's business value to be had — and that’s the main thing. 


 Who remembers the Pets.com once famous icon? The world of the internet is one of here today and gone tomorrow.

Since Diva Marketing (Blog) launched in 2004, social media has gone through changes that have disrupted our digital experience. Long form text posts (blogs) have been joined by short form content that includes various forms of media from photos (Pinterest, Instagram) to video (Snapchat, Pericsope).

As the popularity for a new platform or feature becomes successful there is of course competition. In response to Twitter's Vine Video which began at 6 seconds -- Instagram offered a 15 second video option. Now Twitter is testing a 140 second video option for Vine. Back to Instagram which has released its own disappearing act a la Snapchat called Instagram Stories. Facebook Live Video competes with Pericsope.

I've mentioned only four platforms: Twitter/Vine, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope and Snapchat. If you're feeling overwhelmed, welcome to the club!

Over the course of the last 7 days I've been participating in Darren Rowse's #BloggerGroove Challenge. In addition to adding content to Diva Marketing and Diva Foodies (my relatively new food blog ~ check it out!) I've had the opportunity to read some great posts on a variety of topics.

Day #7 challenge was to write a link post. I am excited to introduce you (via the following links!) to a few talented social media/marketing bloggers who will shed some light on the Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and of course blogs. 

Social media mindmap

Snapchat - Even with Instagram in the game, don't expect Snapchat to exit the social media scene anytime soon. Brands have too much invest. Mel Kettle provides a Snapchat 101 in the post Snapchat for Beginners. Her how-to post takes you step-by-step in setting up your page. Mel details how to use, what is right now, the darling of social media. 

Facebook - It's been around for what seems like forever and a day. The question is ~ are you using it to your best advantage as a business tactic? Sharon Luttrell's post offers four tips that will help make your experience more productive and enjoyable. She looks at how to curate your feed, connecting with groups and even how to time manage and elimnate the negative. 

Instagram - Jacqueline Steenhuis, Transforming Shape, presented an innovative idea on how to use Instagram as a social media blog to generate conversation and more engagement. I liked it so much that I was inspired to write a @DivaFoodies Instagram post! @Jacqueste on Instagram.

Blogs - How could I write a blog post about social media tips without offering insights about blogging? No way. Let's jump over to Darren Rowse, ProBlogger, who has become the go-to-dude of blogging. I met Darren in the early days of the blogosphere. He is without a doubt one of the nicest and most generous people.

Darren's blog is a treasure chest of information about blogs, as well as social media. Warning! when you venture into ProBlogger be prepared to spend more than a few minutes. But you'll leave so much smarter.

Your Turn! What tips do you have on how to manage social media? Idea _pixabay

7 Days/7Posts of #BloggingGroove ~ I did it!

Day 1: List Post - Blogging Tips Inspired From Broadway and Film Musicals 

Day 2: FAQ Post: Lost In the Social Media Forest ~ Help!

Day 3: Review Post: Review - Chef Gordon Ramsay's Dash 

Day 4: Story Post: The Story of Max The Social Media Dog

Day 5: How To Post: How To Create New Recipes - Tips From Chefs

Day 6: Discussion Post: Instagram - What Does Food Is Love Mean To You?

Day 7: Social Media Tips From Around The Web

 My thanks to Darren and the 1,500 bloggers from #BloggingGroove for new ideas to consider, new blogs to read and renewed blogging groove!


Max_52010Max came into my life about 13 years ago. I wasn’t looking for him and the truth is I really didn’t want him. Nor did I think I needed him.





 But some times life gives you unexpected, wonderful surprises.

Max turned out to be the best gift a client ever gave me. I just didn't know it at the time. When I first met Max he was a year old raggity rescue dog  that my client Alf Nucifora insisted I take home “just to see.” Since no one says "no" to Alf, I took Max home for just a few days -- “just to see.”

That first night Max and I were invited to dinner at a friend’s where Max was of course the guest of honor. I asked seven year old Katie if I should keep the little pup. In the very serious way of a little girl who has been asked an important question by a grown-up, she nodded and said, “Yes. Now you won’t be alone.”

So I kept the funny, little, white Westie with the big brown eyes and black button nose who would bring laughter and joy into my life. The vet call Max the gentleist terrier she had ever met. Yes, I did fall in love with Max. But little did I know that Max was about to help me and change my life in more ways than I imagined.  

In social media we talk a lot about “humanizing” content through personal experiences. Many people incorporate their kids and family. Some bloggers include their exciting travel experiences while others have a nack of inviting us into their day-to-day life.


For me that humanization was via Max. Max found his way into Diva Marketing posts. He was the catalyst to marketing and social media lessons from customer loyalty to experiments in video where Max became a bit of a YouTube Rock Star. Watch Best Friends Max The Dog and Tab The Cat! "I think everyone should have a best friend."

Max on Diva Marketing

I had no idea to the extent readers of Diva Marketing were enjoying the Max posts and building a relationship with Max until I attended a BlogHer conference. A prominent blogger came running up to greet me and the first thing she asked about was Max. Not me. Not my blog. Not my experiences at the BlogHer event. I must admit I was thrown off and couldn’t fathom who she was talking about until I realized it as Max!

Max became sort of a social media mascot with a bit of a fan club. After reading so many social media books, Max even become social media savvy!

Max twitterville
Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart

I think the authors I interviewed liked the photos of Max reading their reading their books more than my interviews with them! Author and social media expert Brian Solis asked for the photo of Max reading his book "Business As Usual" to drop on his Facebook page.

  Max Brian Solis on Facebook

Max left my life last September. He was 14.5 years old. I didn’t know you could care so much about a little puppy. Needless to say I miss him every day. Please excuse the virtual tear drops.

“So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near-- Max 14 birthday 1_15 b
Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."
Yes, that is so," said the fox.
But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
Yes, that is so," said the fox.
Then it has done you no good at all!"
It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields.”  ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

This post was inspired from Darren Rowes, ProBlogger, #BloggingGroove Challenge to create a story post. Immediately I knew my story had to be about Max.



Max's 14th Birthday


: Help! I'm lost in the social media forest and can't find my way. How do I make sense of it all when every day there seems to be a new social media channel?

Day 2 of #BloggerGroove Challenge: 7 blog posts in 7 days. This time Darren Rowse asked us to create a posted based on an FAQ.

Forest 2 paths _creative commonsIt's far too easy to get lost in the social media world where multiple paths intertwine and new shiny opportunties can take you into places that make no sense for your brand.

Let's put a business spin on it and call these paths "channels." As examples, in the digital/social media space channels would include: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, YouTube and throw in blogs. It's enough to make even the most experienced digital marketer dizzy.

Add to that each channel has its own quirks, algorithums, audience. Add to that C-H-A-N-G-E-S. Add to that you must determine what resources (people, time, money) you can dedicate to explore and master new channels and updates.

Example. Just this week Instagram, the popular photo sharing platform, released an a la SnapChat feature. Instagram Stories will disappear in 24-hours. Oh no another thing to learn how to use and how to market! Note: Article comparing Instagram and Snapchat that might give you some insights. 


A couple of "IF - Then What " questions that can and should be used with any new social media channel or feature you're considering investing in. Don't fool yourself. Each and everytime you commit to a social channel it becomes an investment and (hopefully!) an asset for your brand. There is no free!

If your customers love Instagram then will they love Instagram Stories?

If your customers are on Snapchat then will they stay on that channel?

If your customers love both Snapchat and Instagram Stories then what is your content game plan?

If you've built assets for Snapchat then how much more development and maintenance will you dedicate?

If you think your customers will migrate to Instagram Stories then what's your game plan?

If you're not sure if your customers will migrate to Instagram Stories then what's your game plan?

No wonder people get lost in the social media forest!

3 additional suggestions that may lessen the stress and even help you enjoy the journey!

Know where you're going, call it -- Define success for you.

Understand how you're going to get there, call it -- Create a roadmap.

Build in time and resources to understand new channels and features call it -- Explore new paths. Forest _create commons

Your turn! How do you navigate the ever changing world of social media?



Broadway Blogging
Sometimes life gets in the way of life. And too often life gets in the way of writing blog posts. Sorry Diva Marketing Blog that I've  neglected you. Diva Marketing Blog

Over the next week Diva Marketing will get a boost of posts thanks to a blogger challenge from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. Darren has challenged those in the blogging community, whos might have lost their groove a bit, to write 7 posts in 7 days based on a series of blog styles that he'll suggest. The first style is a List Post. 

Show tunes often find their way into social media presentations and training I conduct. Music can bring a burst of energy and more than not people begin tapping to the beat. I thought, it might be fun to build a list post about blogging based on the lyrics from the musical theatre. Click on the links to see videos of the songs.

1. Mamma Mia - Song: Mamma Mia

Tip: Begin Again. Blogs are forgiving. If you've neglected your blog it's never too late to start again. If you're lucky you'll fall in love with your blog again.

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Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you

2. Breakfast At Tiffany's - Song: Moon River

Tip: Build community. Blogs offer the opportunity for other people to come along with on your adventures. Creating blogs posts are often a solo undertaking. However, through comments (and other interactions e.g. email, even offline) with people who drop by your blog you can 'see the world' with other travelers.
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.08.33 AM

Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me


3.Book of Mormon - Song: Hello


Tip: Explore new ideas. As you build your blog you'll learn new things, be exposed to different ideas and meet interesting people many of whom will turn into "real" friendships. Your life will be the richer for the experience. 


Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.18.17 AM


You simply won't believe how much

This book will change your life,
This book will change your life,
This book will change your life!

4. Rent - Take Me Or Leave Me


Tip: Be brave. Writing a blog or creating a podcast or video series is a brave undertaking. You're showing the world who you are through your writing style, thoughts, beliefs. Unlike a traditonal media column, even if your posts are business oriented, they mostly likely are not objective but represent your point of view. Some people will get you and some not so much. But that's okay.



Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.29.01 AM


Take me for what I am

Who I was meant to be

And if you give a damn

Take me baby or leave me


 5. Hair Spray - Song: You Can't Stop The Beat


 Tip: Find your unique voice, niche and audience. Although the format of blogs has gone from text-orient to include photos blogs, podcasts, videos blogs changed the way we communicate and influence.


The blog was the start of a revolution and evolution on how we conduct business from sales to marketing to customer service to networking. The blog provided an entree for consumer journalism. The blog offered a way to for people to provide support for each other during difficult times.


In some form or shape blogs are here to stay... you can't stop the beat!


Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.42.30 AM

You can't stop an avalanche

As it races down the hill

You can try to stop the seasons, girl

But ya know you never will

And you can try to stop my dancin' feet

But I just cannot stand still

Cause the world keeps spinnin'

Round and round

You can't stop the beat!


Your turn! What songs or lyrics inspire your blogging?


Jay Ducote_1Jay Ducote came to my attention when he battled it out last year on the Food Network show Food Network Star Season 11.

For those who might not be food TV fans (a guilty pleasure of mine... take a look at Diva Foodies!) the winner of Food Network Star walks away with the biggest prize in food TV competiton ~ their own show on the Food Network.

Although Jay came in 2nd there was no doubt that he knew his way in the kitchen - indoors and outdoors, had great on-air presence and the fans loved  him. Seems the Scripps Networks Interactive brass thought so too because they offered Jay an amazing opportunity to film a pilot for a sister network, Travel Channel.

What makes Jay especially relevant to the Diva Marketing community is his use of social media, aka Social TV, to promote his on-air opportunity on the Food Network and to leverage the social buzz to encourage Scripps Networks Interactive to pick up the Deep Fried America pilot.

In our Diva Marketing interview Jay generous shares his insights on Social TV, how to social media tips, some of his Food Network Star backstory and what it was like to be a dude blogger back in 2009! Enjoy Jay's Story.

About Jay Ducote According To Jay Ducote

I’m a friendly, fun loving guy from Louisiana who loves to celebrate food and beverage culture. I’m a chef, writer, speaker, entertainer and hugger. I’ve got a product line available called Jay D’s with a Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, Louisiana Molasses Mustard and Spicy & Sweet Barbecue Rub.

Diva Marketing: Before we dive into how you’re using social media to support the Travel Channel pilot for your pilot of Deep Fried America, let’s set the stage for the peeps in our community who may not now But are soon to be (!) avid food TV viewers.

Not to be snarky, but there are so many food shows what makes Deep Fried America different and a must watch... in addition to the awesome host of course?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaDeep Fried America presents a great mix of drool-worthy food, talented chefs and fun travel.

I’m going to be in the kitchen helping prepare (and eating of course) some amazing food, the caveat is that something in it has to be cooked in a deep fryer.

But we aren’t just looking for normal fried foods, we are talking to chefs who are being innovative and creating new dishes using the fryer.

Diva Marketing: The concept of Deep Fried America was taken from one of your Food Network Star show challenges. On Food Network Star you were positioned as the BBQ guy who developed his cooking chops (pun intentional) from tailgating parties at LSU. Fried foods seems like a step in another direction. Why a fried food focus? Say that fast 3 times: fried food focus/fried food focus/fried food focus!

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: The short answer is because the Network loved it and wanted it. They pushed Eddie in the BBQ direction and had me go toward the fried foods.

To be fair, while I did some grilling on Food Network Star, I never really got to do any barbecuing or even make a version of my BBQ sauce. I tried to one time, but our groceries got swapped and Eddie ended up making the BBQ sauce instead (4th of July challenge).

On the culinary improv episode of Food Network Star I fried calamari and gave a line to live audience including people from the Network that being from Louisiana, anything that flies, crawls, walks, slithers or swims, we fry it. From that point on I think the Network liked positioning me as a fried foods guy.

All that being said, I definitely have a special place in my heart and stomach for deep fried foods. Fried Chicken would be on the plate if I got to choose my last mean. A beignet in Louisiana is the perfect breakfast. At tailgate parties you can rest assured that we had an outdoor deep fryer right next to the grill!

Diva Marketing: Let’s talk blogs! I’ve been active in the blogosphere for over 12 years and have known some great food bloggers. Although most chefs are men, most food bloggers are women.

Do you think being a dude in that world gave Bite & Booze, launched in 2009, a competitive advantage? Why or why not?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Without a doubt, 100%.

I think that being a large, bearded, masculine man with a love for barbecue and beer and whiskey and fried foods helped set me apart in the food blog world.

While I would be just another guy in the kitchen, taking the food blog route helped differentiate me. I can remember going to food blog conferen Jay Ducote_3ces and the audience being 80-90% women and 10-20% men, and of those men, rarely was there another guys like me.

So I stood out in the world. And I was able to make a name for myself in that world. I got more and more opportunities to speak or to be on camera because of that. It definitely helped grow my blog and my brand.

Diva Marketing: Blogs are ever evolving and where you begin is not necessarily where you end up. How has the focus of Bite & Booze changed from back in the 2009 days?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: My blog, Bite & Booze, started as a personal food journal. I wrote a blog about what I had for lunch that day just so I could keep track of it. I was working an office job in downtown Baton Rouge and I wanted to something to cure me of my boredom.

I knew right away that I would want it to focus on supporting local restaurants and chefs, but I had no idea it would grow into what it has become.

I now speak of Bite & Booze not as a blog, but as a culinary media company. The website is still primarily a blog, but we also do a radio show (since 2011… in 2014 it won a Taste Award as the best food or drink based radio broadcast in the country), podcasts, video production, lots of social media stuff, events and more.

Diva Marketing: What tips on how to create compelling blog content that builds a loyal audience can you give us?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America

1. Stay consistent. Whatever your theme or brand is, stay consistent with it.

2. Also be personal. I find that people really like to feel like they get to know the blogger or the person behind the posts.

I don’t do a whole lot of recipe blogging, but has been part of my strategy. I support and celebrate the entire local food scene wherever I am from farmers to chefs and restaurants to people making cool products.

Diva Marketing: When doing research for our interview I came across an article from The Advocate. The headlined caught my attention. 

Jay Ducote's ‘Deep Fried’ pilot to air on Travel Channel June 25; future depends on viewer engagement

How important will the social buzz be to impact the Travel Channel's decision to pick up your pilot and why?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: There are a couple ways to give Travel Channel good, immediate feedback on the show.

The first is for people to actually watch and set their DVRs to record the broadcast. The people in charge will see those ratings and get that data.

Secondly, social engagement absolutely helps. If @travelchannel is bombarded with tweets during the broadcast, they’ll know that not only are people watching, but they are also engaging. That’s powerful information for them to be able to take to advertisers who would purchase air time during my show.

At the end of the day this is a business, and producing great content is only good if it can be sold to sponsors and advertisers.

So the social buzz will let Travel Channel and potential advertisers know that there will be engaged viewers if they pick the show up for multiple seasons.

Diva Marketing: Let’s look at what is called Social TV on a more global basis.

Although Nielsen includes Twitter and now public Facebook into its TV ratings, in your opinion, to what extent do most producers/TV food media companies bring active social media into their digital marketing/out-reach mix?

Jay Ducote_4_social tv

(By active social media I mean, authentically engaging with the show’s fans versus broadcasting messages about the show or network.)

 Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaI feel like a lot of brands/people could truly be more active, especially when a show airs.

For pretty much every episode of Food Network Star last summer my team and I were live tweeting with fans during the episode. You never really see that from the big stars or the networks themselves. But I think they should.

The ability to now engage directly with the fans while a show is airing is pretty incredible.

Doing it live can be pretty tricky for sure, but I find that it is worth it!

 Diva Marketing: I totally agree Jay! Now, a very basic but important question Jay – what benefits does social, done well, bring to the table?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 4 Social Media Benefits

1. Social media gives everyone the opportunity to grow a brand in ways that weren’t possible before.

2. It gives fans a chance to get an inside glimpse, connect with a personality or follow their journey.

3. It also gives people like me a platform beyond the mass media outlets like TV or Radio.

4. So when it is done well, it is possible to build and retain a fan base outside of the traditional media outlets.

Diva Marketing: What are your thoughts about the benefits/importance of food TV personalities, chefs and contestants, live tweeting during their own shows?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I do it. It makes sense. It helps build and audience and grow a brand. It can be tough to make time for it, but it is so worth it.

Diva Marketing: If you were King of a food media company how would you use social media aka Social TV?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 

I’d make it part of my social media plan to use social to support on-air content and use on-air content to push people to social.

I’d make it to where a large part of my social strategy would be live-tweeting shows and posting on other platforms about new programming that is on the air. I’d make sure I had a team of people to actively engage with social rather than just be shouting into the void.

Diva Marketing: In addition to blogs, you’re active on multiple social media channels and have been leveraging them to support Deep Fried America. How do you play to the strengths of, let’s say the Big 3: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America:

Facebook: Provide links, pictures, video content. Ask questions and get engagement in a thread.

Instagram: Photos are key. Use pictures that resonate in one way or another.

Twitter: Inform and engage. Short format messaging. Connect with the audience by engaging in conversation.

Jay Ducote_6 tweet

 Diva Marketing: Are you looking at insights/metrics and if so (1) which are most valuable to you and (2) what tools are you using to measure?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Probably not as much as I should. I look at some Facebook data but that’s about it. I see engagement on Twitter and Instagram but I don’t go too deep into analytics.

Diva Marketing: Although text/image driven channels like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can include links to videos they are a “still world.” How did you build your personal brand to authentically bring Jay Ducote to digital life, so to speak?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaInstagram is great for short little videos and Facebook is awesome for videos. I haven’t really done a whole lot yet with live streaming or other video content like that.

I kind of let my other content speak for itself. Though I do think that doing a little more live stuff or short videos would be a good idea.

Diva Marketing: Let’s go back to Social TV in food media. Who do you think in terms of a TV chef gets it and is doing it right?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I think Alton Brown does a really good job with this social media. He is active and engaging.

Diva Marketing: What are a couple of tips you can pass along to your TV food chef pals in terms of how to do social right to build their personal brand and support their TV shows?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 4 Social Media Tips

1. Just a little effort goes a long way.

2. Think about it in advance.

3. Use services to schedule content in advance rather than wait until the show is airing to even think about it.

4. Make it a priority to have social engagement as part of our overall brand strategy.

Diva Marketing: I love how Alton Brown uses cartoons that are shown against tweets when he live tweets Cutthroat Kitchen. We’re thinking optimistically, when Deep Fried America is on-air how will you use social media to support the show? Jay Ducote_5_alton brown
Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Well crap, I didn’t see this before I answered with Alton Brown earlier. Yes, I like that too.

I’m obviously going to do all the things that we’ve mentioned before. Beyond that, who knows! We’ll have to see what happens.

Diva Marketing: Guess great minds think a like, or something like that! Jay, how can we support you in ensuring Deep Fried America lives to be part of the Travel Channel’s lineup?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Watch it, set DVRs, ask your friends to do the same, live tweet the show and tag @travelchannel and @jayducote and #deepfriedamerica. Do the same thing on Facebook and Instagram.

Diva Marketing: As is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, the guest always has the last response. Wrap this anyway you’d like.

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I’m certainly hoping that this turns into something much more than a pilot. It is a really exciting time and opportunity for me, but I won’t be pleased with the results unless the show gets picked up for a season. And then another. And then another.

I know I’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of me to continue to pursue my passion and chase my dreams. The TV side of everything I do is actually just a small part of my overall business model.

Bite & Booze, my culinary media company that started as a blog in 2009, and Hug Jay D, which is my product company that launched in 2014, are just the beginning.

Coming in 2017 will be my first restaurant, Gov’t Taco, a gourmet taco shop in Baton Rouge, La. And I’m sure there will be much more coming down the line as I continue to grow all of my brands and businesses.

Deep Fried America has a chance to be a huge part of that growth, so all the support and encouragement is definitely appreciated. Let’s make sure the Travel Channel knows that people out there want the show!

Connect with Jay!

Jay Ducote: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Bite and Booze: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Hug J D: Facebook 

Saturday, June 25, 12:30 CT, on Travel Channel





Diva Marketing's 12th Birthday celebration continues with a very special post written by the first blogger I met IRW (in the real world) -- Paul Chaney!

FullSizeRender-1One of the biggest lessons I've learned in 12 years of blogging and being active in digital communities is real relationship can and do happen online.

As in offline, digital friendships are built through common interests, kindness, support when times are shaky and celebrations when good things happen. If you are lucky you get to take online offline.

Paul and I have collaborated on several projects including developing and facilitating training programs for the American Marketing Association. I am honored and touched that Paul offered to write an original post to celebrate Diva Marketing's anniversary. 

About Paul Chaney

Paul is an online marketing consultant, editor, writer, and author with more than 20 years experience in the digital marketing space. He’s written four books that cover the topics of business blogging, social media marketing, and social commerce, the most notable of which is entitled "The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media," published by John Wiley and Sons in 2009.

He is currently a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and also maintains a client-base of small to mid-size companies. Paul is a sought-after speaker on 1934055_120542921111_1037348_n
digital and marketing topics. Oh yes, and an accomplished musician! 

5 Ways to Build Online Authority Using Content Marketing

As a marketer, business owner, or entrepreneur, it's vital that you have a high degree of authority online so that when people search for you by name, they discover you (as opposed to someone else with your name).

But, it’s just as important that they find an impressive resume and portfolio to accompany your presence.

One of the best ways to establish your online authority is through the use of content marketing.

Here are five ways to go about it.

  1. Erect a Digital Home Base

The first step toward building authority is to create a website — a place you can call home. It's where people will go to learn more about you and where you have the best opportunity to convert visitors to customers or clients.

Just as you would not construct your house on rented land, you wouldn’t want to build your online authority on digital real estate that you don't own, such as a social network. Having a presence on social media is necessary, but you can incur risk by staking your claim there, as opposed to a web property that’s all yours.

Many companies offer web design services, both of the do-it-yourself variety and those that will create the site for you. Your available time and budget will likely determine which route you take.

  1. Claim Your Domain Name

If you aim to develop a personal brand, it's important to have a domain name that uses your name (i.e., YourName.com).

It's feasible that someone may have already claimed a domain with your name — in my case, the domain PaulChaney.com was taken years ago — but with the prevalence of new generic top level (gTLDs) and country-code domains such as .co, .us, .online, .services, and many more, there is no shortage of options from which to choose.

Pick the one that most closely resembles what you offer, or that best represents your area of expertise and go from there.

  1. Create Content in the Form of a Blog

I believe strongly that well-written, keyword-optimized, topically-relevant, frequently-updated content will not only improve your standing on Google but will also establish your authority and credibility in the eyes of customers and prospects.

Writing in your "sweet spot," that zone where you can clearly demonstrate deep expertise, will doubtless cause your stature to rise. And one of the best ways to create such content is through a blog.

Someone said that the word "blog" is an acronym for "Better Listings On Google," and I firmly believe it. I've seen time and time again the benefits blogging can provide from a search engine optimization standpoint. It also helps to trademark you as a subject-matter expert in the mind of the consumer — the "go-to" person for your industry.

Most website content management systems incorporate a blog component. Many, such as WordPress (arguably the most popular CMS on the market), are built on blogs as the foundation of the platform.

  1. Actively Participate in Social Media

You can't afford to bypass social media if you hope to grow a strong, authoritative brand. That doesn't mean you have to be everywhere, however, just on those networks where you are most likely to encounter your target market.

Let's examine the benefits of using the most popular networks:

  • If you provide products or services to other businesses, LinkedIn is where you want to be. It's a B2B network where conducting business is not frowned upon.
  • Facebook can be useful from the standpoint of letting people get to know you on a personal level. It's a social network in the truest sense and a place where you can "let your hair down" and be yourself. Just use good judgment when publishing content and making comments.
  • Let's not forget about Twitter. It's no longer considered a social network but a news and information network where you can share your content and content created by others.
  • YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest. Three other networks — YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest — aren't purely "social" networks either. Even though they have social aspects — the ability to comment, share, and like, for example — they are, in reality, more like "content" networks where you upload and archive videos and images.

A good rule of thumb for any content you create, whether written or visual, is to share it in as many places as possible. It's what the social media expert Chris Brogan calls your "media empire."

Given that these networks, however you classify them, are accessed by millions of people daily, you stand a much better chance of getting your message seen than by sequestering it on your website.

Think of it as a hub and spokes arrangement. You create content on your site, and then syndicate it to these networks, where users can find it more easily. Just be sure to include links back to your site, to drive traffic.

The main thing, where social networks are concerned, is to maintain an active presence. Create and curate content that you share in the form of tweets and status updates, and then interact with fans and followers via retweets, @mentions, responses to comments, and shares of content created by others.

The more active you are, the better your chances of impacting your audience with your message, and growing your reputation and authority right alongside.

  1. Create Strong Website and Social Network Profiles

The "About" page is one of the first places people will go when visiting your website. The information it contains is an excellent way to show your audience who you are and why they should trust you. The same holds true for your social network profiles.

An essential part of the About page is your bio. The following tips, from dlvr.it, a social sharing platform, talk about how to write a bio that will help confirm you as a trust agent.

Decide on the tone you want to take when writing a bio.

Should your bio be serious, cool and professional, or should it have a personal flair where you, perhaps, mention your family? Also, should you inject humor or maintain a more serious tone?

Identify the audience you want to reach.

When preparing to write a bio, clearly identify the audience that you're attempting to influence. That step alone can help dictate your tone.

Inject some personality.

Even professional bios should include something that displays your personality. Here’s a short bio example that does just that:

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.11.06 AM

Write in the first person.

Writing in the first person will make your bio more intimate and personal, but it is also a matter of preference and taste that depends on the tone you take and the audience that you’re addressing.


Building online authority using content marketing requires that you:

  • Have a home base in the form of a website;
  • Claim your domain name;
  • Share your expertise in a blog;
  • Participate actively in social media;
  • Have a bio that showcases your skill set and personality.

There are other steps you can take, such as setting up an email newsletter or writing a whitepaper, but those are "add-ons" that amplify your presence. Start with these five essentials to lay a sound basis for establishing your authority, and then build on it from there.

Connect with Paul Chaney! Twitter | LinkedIn |



Birthday_morqueTo celebrate Diva Marketing's 12th Blog Birthday (!) ... an extra special interview on a topic that is sizzlin' hot -- Influencer Marketing with Danica Kombol founder of Everywhere Agency.

Seems you can't turn a corner in the digital world without bumping up against an influencer marketing post or campaign. Influencer marketing's roots began in the blogosphere programs of what we called blogger relations.

However, with the onset of multiple social media channels e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Blogs, YouTube, Snapchat and technology that provides in-depth metrics, more brands are creating marketing promotion and content initiatives that include people who have significant followings and well -- influence.

Although the relationship aspect of today's influencer marketing campaigns are still critical, campaigns are more sophisticated than in the days of blogger relations. 

Danica Kombol graciously agreed to give us the scoop on what makes a successful influencer marketer program from the point of view of the brand/agency and the influencer. In her usual style, Danica includes so much more. Enjoy!

Danica Kombol
About Danica Kombol:I’m an entrepreneur, a mom, a pie baker and passionate about communications. I run the social media marketing firm, Everywhere Agency. We launched in 2009, focused primarily on social media and helping major brands get into the social media space. At that time, we were novel and unique, and big brands like CNN, Lexus, Lexis-Nexis and others needed our services. 

This day and age, most brands get it and have built out robust social media teams of their own. Now a major focus of our agency is influencer marketing. We connect companies like Macy’s, Carter’s and other major consumer brands with influencers to help amplify and tell their story. 

Diva Marketing: The term influencer marketing seems to be the hot buzz world. A Google search pulled up 20,800,000 links. Let’s start at Influencer Marketing 101. How do you define “influencer marketing?”

Danica Kombol: With influencer marketing, influencers become the vehicle to deliver your marketing message. However, it’s way more complex than that.  The question really becomes, “How do you use influencers to deliver that message and what type of influencers do you seek out?”. At Everywhere Agency, we practice the ancient art of storytelling.  By that, I mean finding influencers who can naturally and organically communicate a story about a product or brand.

Diva Marketing: Influencer Marketing is a service that your agency Everywhere Agency offers. How and why did you come to include it in your offerings?

Danica Kombol: In 2009, Everywhere Agency won the Guinness World Record for the most socially networked message in #BEATcancer.  We launched that campaign at BlogWorld (now extinct) by getting influencers at the conference to all tweet out #BeatCancer, and eBay/PayPal agreed to give a penny per tweet for every mention. Those funds went to cancer serving charities.

We were trending on Twitter within the hour and remained that way for three days.  At the time, we wanted to send the message that social media could be used for social good.  In retrospect, I realize that was our first experience galvanizing influencers, and those who participated in those first hours of sending out tweets are friends to this day. 

After that, brands kept coming to us looking for novel, non-advertising ways to promote their events or their products. We knew all these influencers, many who had a natural affinity for certain brands. We realized we could leverage influencers to share positive stories about brands the same way we got influencers to deliver a positive message in #BeatCancer. 

Seven years ago, we were keeping all these influencers in Excel spreadsheets. As more and more of them worked on campaigns, they began to talk to one another and say things like, “I’m part of Everywhere.” We realized we had to move all these amazing folks out of spreadsheets and bring them into a community.

That’s when we launched Everywhere Society – which is a community of influencers who work with our agency and opt in for brand campaigns. And it really is a community. Our influencer network has grown from those early years of the geek bloggers who used to attend BlogWorld to a vast community of 2,500 influencers coast to coast who write about lifestyle, fashion, technology, food, DIY, parenting, and well, just about anything. 

Diva Marketing: On a high level, why do brands invest in influencer marketing programs?

Danica Kombol: According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people – even if they don’t know them personally – over promotional content that comes directly from brands, and 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key factor of their purchasing decisions.

Essentially, influencer marketing is word of mouth advertising in the digital sphere. It’s easier for consumers to connect with a brand when they see it through the eyes of a real, relatable person.  

Diva Marketing: Let’s drill down to the “influencer” which might be more complex to determine.  Before we get into the weeds of the elements ~ for you, what makes an effective “influencer” for a brand campaign?

Danica Kombol: Ha! We debate about this often. An influencer is really anyone who is persuasive over a great number of people.  An influencer is that person you know who tells you about the best hair salon or movie to see. In Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point-speak, these people are the “mavens,” or people we rely on to connect us with new information.

Most of us have many different subgenres of influencers in our lives. For example, I seek parenting advice from my friend Paula and technology advice from my friend Lina.  In the “olden days” we’d have a phone conversation with that influencer seeking their advice on, say, the next gadget to buy. Today, we see his or her Facebook post, and we take action or are influenced by them. 

Diva Marketing: Is there a secret recipe that Everywhere Agency created to determine if a person is a digital/social media influencer? By that I mean is a percentage of reach, followers, Klout score, engagement , etc  that  is used? If not what does Everywhere take into consideration?

Danica Kombol: Sure, and contrary to my response above where I define just about anyone with influence as an influencer, at Everywhere Agency we are specifically looking for “digital influencers” or those folks with an extremely large digital footprint and a very engaged audience.  So yes, we look at numbers.

If they are a blogger, we look at their UMV’s (unique monthly visits), but in this day and age, we’re as likely to look at their Instagram, Vine, Snapchat or Twitter reach. Most important of all is what the influencer writes or talks about.  There has to be a real match for the brands we represent.  

Diva MarketingIn the Public Relations world celebrity marketing has been a tactic for a very long time. How does influencer marketing differ from celebrity marketing?

Danica Kombol: Ha, ha. It’s not so different anymore! Because I’ll tell you, a lot of these YouTube influencers are now celebrities in their own right!  Celebrity marketing is an aspect of influencer marketing.  At Everywhere Agency, we’ve worked with celebrities, but the core of our activations revolves around digital influencers. 

Diva Marketing: Would you share a successful influencer marketing campaign with us e.g. what made it successful, how did you determined which influencers to use, etc?

Danica Kombol: We recently did a series of Twitter chats for Macy’s. We were promoting the fact that Macy’s carries plus-sized clothing in their stores and embraces women with curves.

Macy’s teamed up with SuperModel Emme to do a series of fashion shows in their stores featuring plus-sized models and influencers. We found curvy bloggers who write about fashion to model and then joined forces with Emme to have Twitter chats where we talked about body positivity, fashion trends for curvy women, and the power of embracing your curves.

The conversations were amazing (even leading us to trend on Twitter). The impressions, which are how we measure our social conversations, topped 36 million. What was evident to us in these chats was that there are all these women who want to have this conversation, and we were proud to help facilitate it. Did I mention we won an AMY Award for our efforts?

Emme _everywhere tweet

Diva Marketing: What metrics do you usually use to determine the success of a campaign?
If can share any tools that would be great!

Danica Kombol: We look at a variety of factors – and every campaign has a different goal, so success doesn’t always look the same. Some clients are more concerned with the quality of content and photos than the amount of eyeballs that see it. Generally, we consider a campaign successful based on the number of impressions, a.k.a. the number of people who potentially saw a post, and the level of engagement or interaction the posts received.

Determining these statistics can be tricky, but we currently use a platform called Tracx to keep tabs on how our influencers are performing.

Diva Marketing: What 3 tips would you give a brand manager new to influencer marketing?

Danica Kombol:

1. Don’t expect the influencer to do a carbon copy of your brand message. Realize the benefit of working with influencer is that they tell your brand story in their own voice. Give them the tools to tell the story, but let them tell it on their own.

2. When you’re compensating an influencer, you must follow FTC Guidelines, which debuted in 2009 and are continuing to evolve. If confused about them, seek guidance from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

3. And finally (and I’m not just saying this because I run an agency but), “don’t go it alone.” Finding the right influencer is only half the battle. Agencies like mine specialize in doing the negotiations, building out the story architecture, tracking the influencer and making sure all FTC guidelines are met. 

Diva Marketing: What advice would you give that brand manager if an influencer goes ‘rogue?’

Danica Kombol: See tip number 3 above, where I encourage a brand manager to “not go it alone.”  At Everywhere Agency, we’ve been working with the same 2500 members in our network for years. We know their strengths and weaknesses. WE ONLY work with influencers who meet deadlines and follow the brand mandates.  An influencer who “goes rogue” is an influencer who was poorly chosen.

Diva Marketing: Let’s change direction and talk a little about influencer marketing from the influencer’s point of view.  Number one question people want to know:  Is this a financial exchange? In other words how should an influencer expect to get compensated?

Danica Kombol: By and large, any influencer with a large following gets compensated for their work.  The good influencers have a healthy ratio of sponsored versus non-sponsored posts, and the campaigns we bring to influencers are all sponsored campaigns.

In other words, we are paying the influencer to write (in their own words) about a brand, event or product.

Diva Marketing: Understanding that each campaign is different, what are some of the common aspects an influencer can expect when participating in an influencer marketing program?

Danica Kombol: An influencer can and should expect clear direction from the brand. What specific messages must be included in your blog post or social shares?  What’s the goal of the campaign? The influencer should also stop and ask if this campaign is a match for their audience.

The surest way for an influencer to lose their audience is to fill their content with advertising messages their readers don’t want to hear. 

Diva Marketing: As is Diva Marketing’s tradition, we’re tossing the virtual mic back to you. Wrap it up anyway you’d like.

Danica Kombol: McKinsey & Co says that word of mouth is the primary factor in 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions, so influencer marketing isn’t something that’s nice to have – it’s a critical component in this era’s marketing landscape. 

There’s power and passion and energy in influence that you don’t see in advertising. Go forth and be influential in your marketing efforts!! 

Connect with Danica!

Everywhere Agency Website|Everywhere Agency Twitter | Danica Kombol Twitter | Danica Kombol Instagram| Danica Kombol LinkedIn



Heart_12As we close out 2015 and begin the circle dance anew, there will be lots of predictions of what 2016 will hold in terms of marketing trends and must dos. This is not one of those posts.

Time brings perspective. So instead, I'd like to look back at one aspect of social/digital media marketing that was suppose to change the marketing game: from gaining a better understanding of our customers’ emotional profiles, to casual research insights, to more responsive customer care. 

Social Listening 

Ten years ago, or there about, Social Listening exploded into the digital landscape. It was positioned as the golden grail that would be the beginning of authentic conversational marketing. It soon became clear that unless you wanted to bury the new data it brought in garbled buzz words, social listening had better lead to a new customer communication channel where the brand could directly engaged with its customers. Back in 2005 that thought was revolutionary. Really! In fact, word revolutionary became a buzz word onto itself. 

If your brand ignored the digital pioneers who were using social media as a new customer service or communication channel you quickly saw how the brand's reputation, online as well as offline could be impacted.  When it came to the brand experience it seemed nothing was sacred or out of bounds for customers to tell their digital friends about the good, bad and ugly. Lest you think all social media posts were about the negative, Becky Carroll's blog Customers Rock told stories of great customer experiences... online and off.

We watched and learned along with the social media teams at Dell/Richard Binhammer and Lionel Menchaca; Comcast/Frank Eliason and Ford/Scott Monty as they publically walked the virtual tightrope. Sometimes they stumbled and fell and other times they got it right. 

The social customer service human-to-human mantra was a seemingly simply 3 step plan. 

Listen to your customers | Respond with respect | Go the extra mile to delight.

We soon learned it was not as easy as it appeared. New complex, sophisticated models evolved like the Customer Reference Program, created by Jeremiah Owyang in 2007.  Books about this new disruptive marketing world began to emerge. Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Isreal (2006) changed perceptions about how we would come to define this thing we called marketing. I was honored that my views were highlighted in two chapters.

And then it was 2015.

Social listening and social media customer service are built into most company digital initiatives. It's an old game now. Organizations from retail to healthcare to  food to nonprofits tweet, post, video, snap photos & snap chat in social networks.

Listening is an automated process that brings stats and key words to managers in pretty charts and graphs. Brands engage... sometimes. Problems are resolved... sometimes. It often seems the social media customer service goal is to respond to as many customer concerns as possible in order to have the social media (home/handle) stream appears as though the brand is listening and caring. Frequently I find there is no follow-up after the initial engagement.

Is social media customer service the new 2016 advertising complete with PR spin? With so many people posting, tweeting, instagram-ing and the social streams moving so quickly, does it really it matter if we don't relate human-to-human? 

And then it was 2016.

Time brings perspective. Perhaps 2016 is the right time to re-evalue how your digital/social media initiatives are executed and if they are supporting your brand values. No one promised this would be easy. 

All the best for a happy, healthy and however you define successful 2016.




Alex Brown_ 5_15I've often said the social web gives more than it takes.

Meeting people who may be outside of your usual network is one of its best 'gifts.' Alex Brown and I are worlds apart. We met in the "blogosphere" in 1999 when he was managing one of the first and most innovative online communities for Wharton.

Needless to say Alex is a pioneer in digital media. But Alex has another passion .. his love for horses.

He was able to combined his marketing talents and social media skills to build an amazing horse advocay community. It was not unusal for posts to pull in 500, 700, 1000 comments. Unheard of back in the day and even more so today. He's also the author of a brilliant and beautiful book - "Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy."  Alex Brown_book jacket Greatness and Goodness Barbaro and his Legacy

Alex describes himself as -- " I am a horseman, who is also an internet marketing "geek." I have ridden horses all my life, and I have been using the internet for teaching and marketing since 1992." 

Fast forward to 2015. Video is where many see the growth of digital media. When Alex told me about an innovative video project he was launching for a rather controversial topic that once again combined Alex's love of horse and social media I was excited to learn more. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: Your latest project is a video series on YouTube, it seems a bit of a departure from the development of a book. Why did you choose this medium ?

Alex Brown: My goal for this project, Horses: Sports, Culture, and Slaughter, is simply for content consumption, rather than distribution.

I wanted to create some content that would be easy for audiences to find, and then consume. No friction. With a book, your audience has to buy the book, and even after purchase, there is no guarantee that the book is read. I fear that quite a few people who did buy my book have not get read through it in detail.

For this project, I had messages I want to get out there. This made more sense. I also wondered, if I created an online essay, would people read? Would it have the same credibility, sharability, and so forth. I settled on a video series, and YouTube as the platform.

Diva Markeitng, Toby: To go the route of a well made video series may take even more effort than a book. What messages are you trying to convey that are so important to you in this project?

Alex Brown: The horse slaughter issue is very controversial, here in the United States. I think it is an issue that should be resolved, one way or another, in the near term. I believe it exists because most horsemen (gender neutral) and horse lovers really don't understand all the issues related to the subject, and quite honestly many do not want to know.

So I wanted to create a resource that examined all the issues, both for and against horse slaughter.It is comprehensive, basically a brain-dump of everything I know.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Although an important, but controversial topic, one might think that many people would be turned off by the subject. I might even think that most people would just avoid your hard work. Is that a concern?

Alex Brown: That is the biggest problem, for sure. Slaughter is visually dreadful, regardless of animal. I don't watch slaughter videos online. Only animal rights people watch that stuff I think, so really it becomes an echo chamber of the same people talking to each other, rather than getting the message out to broader communites.

My series is "NON GORY" and I make that very clear right at the beginning of the series. It is basically a 55 minute interview of me, discussing at the issues and context surrounding the topic, that is then overlayed with "b roll" of places I have visited etc. that are relevent to the conversation. My dog, Harriet, even plays a cameo roll.

Alex Brown_ Harriet

Diva Marketing, Toby: We like that your pooch Harriet plays a role! Max might want her paw print autograph! Seriously, so you create a great piece of content, that might be uncomfortable for some people to watch. You bring a wealth of experience in social media marketing, the big questions are how to you get the video out in front and what's your distribution strategy?

Alex Brown: I have been able to develop a pretty healthy social  media following over the years. First with the community developed on timwoolleyracing.com and then alexbrownracing.com as we followed Barbaro's progress at New Bolton Center.

From there the book helped me further build the community. I now have more than 5k followers on Twitter, 5k friends on Facebook (that's the limit for a personal page) as well as a new Facebook page for my Advocacy work. From this page I was able to purchase a Facebook ad (post boost at $20, which I will probably repeat during subsequent weekends, on the assumption that people have more time to consume content on the weekend). I am also pretty active on LinkedIn (some of that is due to my consulting work in the social media space). Basically I have quite a decent platform to launch content.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Initial distribution, seeding, is important, how have you tried to get the series to spread?

One of my goals was the timing of the launch. I wanted to get it out there during the Triple Crown series. This is important because it is the time of year that horses are on the national conscience. Media are covering our sport. We know when we explore the science behind "viral" content, an important factor is to design content that is part of the current conversation on the internet. 

Even in the video design, I ask at the end of the series for those who "liked" the series to post it on their social platforms. You have to be very deliberate about this stuff. I have also been able to reach out to my network of media connections, to try to help spread the word.

Again, you have to be very deliberate and go after every connection you have. You then need to try to track conversations about the series, in what I call the "free marketing" space. Any comments, you respond. Even negative comments, engagement is very important.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Totally agree. Without the engagement factor you might as well keep content on a website. The series has been out for little more than a week, how has it been received?

Alex Brown: So far, the three videos have received 1,000 views, according to YouTube. I think that is a pretty good start. I have had some media coverage, one of which really did help get the word out.

Now I am continuing to try too engage with media, and now directly with friends on Facebook to watch the series, and then post about it. I think that is important.

I don't just ask people to spread the word, it is KEY that someone watched the series first. That way, the person can talk specifically about the series, as she promotes it. I think that sends a much stronger message. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: What tip would you give people who want to step in to video? Bringing it back to digital marketing, are the results really worth the effort?

Alex Brown: Step in, experiment, fail forward (learn from your experiences) I am still experimenting with the medium, and am working on a couple of other projects for other clients, and the format is very different, short two minute clips focused on singular key ideas.

Finally, SEO is critical. What are the important keywords, and how are they included in the title, description and so forth.

And be passionate, because passion can overcome challenges.

Diva Marketing, Toby: I love that last thought!

Alex Brown: Yes, very critical. I have two passions, horses and the internet, my worlds collide! Horses - pre industrial revolution, technology -  post industrial revolution. Now we are trying to use the technology to save the horse.

Diva Marketing, Toby: As is our tradition, on Diva Marketing, we're tossing the virtual mic to you Alex. Wrap it anyway you'd like.

Alex Brown: Thanks Toby. Early reaction to the series has been positive; I just really hope it helps move the conversation from one among animal rights groups, to one among horsemen and horse lovers throughout the United States.

Connect with Alex: Website |Alex Brown Racing | Non Glory Video |Twitter |Linkedin

Diva Marketing Talks to Alex Brown! Interview about the story behind Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy| Podcast with Beth Kanter "Tell The Stories Of Causes Through Social Media


What is your best advice for a local small business that wants to leverage the web for marketing purposes? was the question my friend Paul Chaney, Editor of Web Marketing Today asked me and a few other "in the know" marketers. 

Thought you might enjoy my response!  

Great question Paul and one that many people will take from the strategy point of view: know your goals, how to measure them and your audience.  Let’s look at this from a slightly different point of view: content consistency.  

I look at content consistency from two perspectives. The first direction includes tonality, topics, and touch. The second direction is time. 

Tonality is the voice you’ll use through out the web from  your website and to social media channels For example, if you’re managing a rap group the tonality will be different than if you’re selling financial products to corporate accounts.

Topics quite simply are what you want chat about to your digital community. However, the format might be a blog, video, podcast or photos/images. The most successful topics are those that your audience cares about .. I call that ‘now I care content.’  Content that is so compelling it is shared.

Touch is how you’ll engage with your audience. It’s often neglected but can be the most powerful piece of your web marketing. What will you say when someone shares your content on Twitter or drops a comment on Facebook?

Time is well … time! Especially for small business owners, who wear multiple hats,  we have to come to terms that we can’t do it all or all at once. Identify which web marketing tactic will give you the most return for time spent. That may not always be direct revenue but branding or extended reach.  As an example, for a B2B service or product it may be diving deeply into LinkedIn. For a food media company it may be Twitter that best drives audience for you.

Take into consideration that all four Ts must work in harmony which leads us full circle to your goals, how to measure and your audience.

Note: For Food Businesses including chefs, cookbook authors, FoodTV media companies & contestants, foodpreneurs check out Diva Foodies where we're serving up social to the food industry plus offering delicious content!


Ned logoDoctors heal patients in many ways ... some even through rock n roll!

N.E.D., an innovative rock band of 6 U.S. cancer surgeons, tours the country using their music to create awareness about women's cancer issues. 

As Doc/Musician Nimesh Nagarsheth told us in this Diva Marketing interview, "Through our music we are able to reach thousands at a time getting our our awareness and education messages and quite honestly have a great time doing it."

N.E.D's  heartwarming story inspired award winning producers from Spark Media to become N.E.D. groupies (of sorts) following the band for over three years. The end result was an award winning film -  N.E.D. The Movie.

There is more. Today on World Cancer Day Regal Cinemas is showing the film (schedule). Awesome and amazing. Hope you are as inspired as I was by this story. Please enjoy this inteview with the producers and Rockin' Doc Nimesh. 

About N.E.D (No Evidence of Disease): A rock band made up of 6 women’s cancer surgeons with the goal of raising public awareness of gynecologic cancers through music and the arts.

 Our Story Tellers

Nimesh Nagarsheth, M.D. / Drums, PercussionDr. Nagarsheth is on faculty at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey.

Aladin Concert Nagarsheth

“You can learn a lot from patients with cancer. And they see the world in a way that’s much different from the way that someone else sees the world.”

Andrea Kalin, Director, Executive Producer: Andrea Kalin is an Emmy Award Winning filmmaker and founder of Spark Media, a production company dedicated to producing films with a social conscience. 

  Andrea Kalin

Karen Simon, Producer: Producer Karen Simon has worked on several Spark Media documentaries, including Prince Among SlavesSoul of a People: Writing America’s Story, and Partners of the Heart.  She also led the innovative national educational outreach effort for Partners of the Heart.

Karen Simon

Diva Marketing/Toby: I get the overall mission of N.E.D. is to increase awareness of GYN cancers and that music is a universal experience ... but why a “Doc Rock Band?”

N.E.D./Nimesh:  Music and the arts are extremely effective forms of communication. While our day jobs as a women’s cancer surgeons are extremely rewarding – we are most often working and making a difference with one patient at a time. Through our music we are able to reach thousands at a time getting our our awareness and education messages and quite honestly have a great time doing it.

Creating and performing original music is extremely therapeutic for us. I truly believe our music is special because our unique background and experiences as cancer surgeons is reflected in the music we create.

Diva Marketing/Toby: From the world of music who inspires you Doc Nimesh?  

N.E.D./Nimesh: My strongest influences are RUSH, Foo Fighters and U2. However, I truly appreciate many kinds of music and often visit the Jazz clubs in NYC as well as other music venues.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Dr. Nimesh, you do have an eclecitc music tastes! Let’s talk a little more about the band. Since the ‘doc-musicians’ are located across the U.S. How often does the group get together for practice?

N.E.D./Nimesh: There have been some years where we have 7 or more shows in a year. When this happens we usually practice one or two days before each performance. Often we will review our old songs and add one or two new songs we have been working on during the rehearsals. Everyone in the band prepares incredibly well for the rehearsals so we often are able to be extremely productive even at short rehearsals. When working on a new album, we will typically schedule a weekend rehearsal with our producer for preparation for recording in the studio.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Are any of the practices held virtually e.g. on Skype of Google+?

N.E.D./ Nimesh: Yes, many times 2 or 3 of the band members may work on parts vis Skype.


The N.E.D. - Rocking Doc Band!

John Boggess - Guitar, Lead Vocals
Joanie Mayer Hope - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Nimesh Nagarsheth - Drums & Percussion
William [Rusty] Robinson - Bass Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
John Soper [Sope] - Guitar, Mandolin
Will Winter - Lead Guitar

 Graphic credit: nedtheband.com

Diva Marketing/Toby: Were any of the docs in garage bands during their high school or med school days?

N.E.D./Nimesh: I have been in bands ever since junior high school. One of my earliest  rock bands was Three For The Road. I joined and /or formed bands when in college, medical school, residency and fellowship and even now as an attending physician.

My local NYC band is Come Together (a Beatles and Rolling Stones cover band that has played at venues thoughout NYC and even twice at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Love that you're helping keep 'clasical rock' alive. Is N.E.D's music original and if so who are the composers?

N.E.D/ Nimesh: N.E.D. writes, records and performs original music. Everyone in the band has written and contributed to the song writing but for the latest recording John Boggess, Will Winter, and Joanie Hope have taken the lead on the writing.


Link to music samples

Diva Marketing/Toby: Is the music part of a fund raising effort? If so where can we buy/download the tunes?

N.E.D/Nimesh: Yes, the music is large part of our fundraising efforts. Typically, we make the most impact in fundraising at our live performances through tickets sales, corporate donations, and merchandise sales. Our music is available on itunes and amazon.com.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The idea of a documentary about N.E.D. is intriguing.  Who came up with the concept and how did you make the film compelling for the audience?

No Evidence of Disease (Trailer) from Spark Media on Vimeo.

N.E.D/ Karen & Andrea: Spark Media learned about the band from it’s co-creator, a fellow GYN oncologist who brought the rock doctors together.  They happened to be playing at an awareness raising event in Washington, DC, where Spark is based, so we got them together to talk for several hours around a table, and realized we had 6 fascinating, Type A+ people out to change the world in ways big and small.  

We heard their passion for their patients, and their commitment to music as a powerful tool not only to raise awareness but also to heal. Add to that their personal commitment to reach their patients beyond the O.R. and we knew we had a story.  We started following them around with cameras that same day, and didn’t stop for 3 ½ years.  

Stylistic and engrossing, our film unfolds in harmony with the music of the band whose songs set the tone for each scene. Lyrics resonate with universal themes, that are cyclical, revolving around living and dying, body and soul. Our cameras reveal how cancer can bring out the worst and best in people, rip lifelong friends apart, but also pull families together closer than ever.

  • This isn’t a linear story, but a sequence of many stories, and emotive moments thematically cut with honesty and compassion and with a POV that’s intimate and relatively unfiltered.

The pace and tone of the film reflects the immediate, volatile, intensity of the cancer experience—the music is a release valve in their complex lives and a way of healing for all they cannot control.  Story and music combine for maximum impact in ways that importantly serve our cause as we engage, dispel fears and invite viewers into a deep, purposeful engagement with a women’s health issue shrouded in unnecessary shame.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Since Diva Marketing is about digital and social media marketing let’s explore those avenues.  When did N.E.D. realize that it had turned into a ‘brand?’

N.E.D./Andrea & Karen:

  • Actually, when you hear audiences chant: “N.E.D.  N.E.D.  N.E.D….” we realized it was the audience who branded the band and the film.  

  Race to the end posters

N.E.D. -- such a powerful and positive concept: No Evidence of Disease.  We put a face to that concept, a movement to that concept, music to that concept, and the branding of the human experience began. We chose an impactful photo of Jennie McGihon who had lost her hair from her chemo treatments, but despite that, you could feel her strength and poise, still appreciate her beauty that radiates from inside out.  She, to us, represented all women going through raw, difficult time.   

Digital and social media have been powerful tools for us.  We have captured over 500 hours of footage, and a large swath of that footage did not end up in the feature length cut. So, we have produced dozens of short pieces that are self-contained and powerful in and of themselves.  We put those on social media and YouTube, and some of them will be on V.O.D. along with the film.

We use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and now Thunderclap, Google Hangouts and Reddit AMA in our outreach and audience engagement, extending our reach to individuals and groups all over the country and the world. Arming women with knowledge, the film and its emerging awareness campaign help to preserve dignity, and to channel discussions about women’s health needs into the public sphere.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Sounds like you certainly have the digital conversations covered! Who does N.E.D. hope to reach with its music and as we say in marketing, what are its goals?

N.E.D./Nimesh: First and foremost we want to reach our patients and their loved ones. We believe that music has some incredible healing qualities and our patients have told us time and time again that they feel this as well. Beyond our patients our music is really for everyone. We believe everyone has been touched (either directly or indirectly) by cancer and that our music can equally touch people.


Twitter bannerGraphic: Twitter Cover

Diva Marketing/Toby: How important is using social media/digital marketing in reaching those goals?

N.E.D./Andrea & Karen:  Social and digital media outreach was crucial in helping our collective groups crank up the volume, and sustain a noisy, national movement to break through walls of silence.

Soulfully and cathartically dissolving taboos through feisty storytelling, combined with intricately planned and networked multilevel longitudinal engagement featuring live music performances, educational modules to convey What Every Woman Should Know, hip and diverse outreach using humor, and targeting at risk communities such as African Americans, Latina and Ashkenazi Jewish women through any all platforms where these groups convene.

We were screen and platform agnostic.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What are the digital/social media tactics that have been most successful in terms of creating awareness for the film, as well as, the band?

N.E.D./Andrea & Karen: Both the film and the Band have tried to draw in a wide, diverse audience and we understood from the outset that this would mean taking a shrewd approach to a difficult topic.

From the filmmakers perspective, we concentrated as much of our energies into the art of telling the story as we did in facilitating cutting-edge advocacy that would assure the film go beyond the screen to reach out to women, families, and the medical community on a grassroots level.

  • We believe weren’t just producing a film but igniting a movement. 

From our early days in development, we ran a Kickstarter Campaign, online Auctions with Charity Buzz, Give back campaigns with Facebook, Giving Tuesday campaigns on Twitter, Work-in-progress screenings in theaters, stylized merchandise and hundreds of thousands of uncountable hours of grit and passion to network and turn any opportunity on any platform… even in the most unlikely situations into an opportunity.

  • There’s no magic bullet, nor platform or tactic that we can single out that was overwhelmingly successful, more so it was our openness to try anything and perseverance to believe in the long tail of success.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons have you learned from incorporating social media in your communication strategy that you can share with us?

 N.E.D/Brad Wilke of SmartHouse Creative: Though social media doesn't offer a magic elixir for all of your marketing challenges, it does provide a robust infrastructure within which you can integrate each and every piece of your go-to-market strategy. By keeping social media top of mind from planning through execution, you vastly increase the probability of "happy accidents," such as celebrity RTs, incidental media outlet coverage, and other seemingly random media hits.

For instance, with N.E.D., we were able to utilize social network analysis tools (such as NodeXL) to determine our subject matter influencers around the country, and, therefore, better target our conversations and content. Social media is not only a resource multiplier, but an essential component of any serious product release strategy, including independent films, music, and related creative projects.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Even though the docs in N.E.D. are teaching us about GYN cancer, we all learn from our experiences. What has being a member of the band taught each of the docs?

Twitter PennSocialIDC

N.E.D/ Nimesh:

  • I have learned to be a better listener when taking care of my patients. I have also learned how to cope with the stresses of being a doctor through my creative role in the band.

Diva Marketing/Toby: As is our tradition, we’re passing the mic back to the extraordinary docs in the band. Please wrap the interview anyway you’d like.  

N.E.D/Nimesh: I would like thank all of our amazing fans and supporters throughout the years that have helped us make N.E.D. an incredible success!

Connect with N.E.D. Twitter | Facebook | N.E.D Website |N.E.D. The Movie

Some how it seems appropriate to link to Jefferson Starship's "We Build This City On Rock And Roll."  Wouldn't it be fabulous to build a cure for cancer with the proceeds from rock n roll?!



Breast cancer logoBreast cancer still impacts too many lives. Advocate Health Care launched a unique program to bring attention to breast cancer prevention, treatment and support.

Understanding that women gain strength and the comfort from the stories they share and are shared they used digital and social networks to tell the  #StoriesoftheGirls . Through the following interview Christine Piester, VP Marketing and Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing and Communication graciously provided us with a case study of the program.

This post is dedicated to my sister Susan who I know is dancing in the stars.  Susan atl

About Advocate Health Care. Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest health care providers in the Midwest.

Advocate operates more than 250 sites of care, including 12 hospitals that encompass 11 acute care hospitals, the state’s largest integrated children’s network, five Level I trauma centers (the state’s highest designation in trauma care), three Level II trauma centers, one of the area’s largest home health care companies and one of the region’s largest medical groups. As a not-for-profit, mission-based health system affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ, Advocate contributed $661 million in charitable care and services to communities across Chicagoland and Central Illinois in 2013.

 Our Story Tellers

Advocate Healthcare_ Christine Priester, VP, MarketingChristine Priester, VP, Marketing





Advocate Healthcare _Christine Bon

Christine Bon, Manager Digital Marketing & Communication




 Diva Marketing/Toby: How did the idea of #StoriesoftheGirls evolve? Was it a difficult sell to management including the hospital administrator?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Obviously, the idea of #StoriesOfTheGirls remains a very edgy concept. Anytime you introduce a double entendre (“the girls”) as part of your campaign you take a risk. However, the Chicago health care market is noisy and we had to figure out a way to break through the clutter. Not only did we have to sell this concept to the health system leadership, we had to convince the 12 hospital presidents that this was the right idea, at the right time and with the right audience.

In order to gain the necessary buy-in, our CMO hosted numerous sessions where she outlined the campaign and addressed any questions and concerns. The vast majority of our internal leadership were overwhelmingly supportive, there were a few unsure outliers, but they soon became believers once they saw the results.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was success for the campaign and how was it measured?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonWhile we wanted women to join the conversation at StoriesOfTheGirls.com, we really wanted women to take advantage of our patient added-value proposition.

We were the first in the market to offer same-day, no-referral mammograms.  This breaks down access barriers and allows women to schedule their mammogram on their terms, when they have some extra time as life might be too busy to schedule this test a few weeks out, months out, but there is no time like the present. 

  • So, that said we measured the growth in mammogram appointments (up over 10% across the system), web site visits, and engagement in the conversation (social media).

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The micro site is rich with content about breast healthcare. For many visitors to the site, I’m guessing the most compelling content is the video stories told by the breast cancer survivors and physicians.  How were these women indentified? What were their reasons to publically participate in #StoriesoftheGirls? 

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonAdvocate Health Care treats more breast cancer patients than anyone else in Illinois, and more of our patients become survivors than any other system.  Through our over 30 mammogram locations across the system, we were able to tap into our internal resources to identify patients with compelling stories that were willing to participate in the campaign.

And, we had, and continue to have no problems with patients wanting to tell their story. All of our survivors say if telling their story can just save one woman’s life it was worth it. They also appreciated the real tone and voice of the campaign.

  • They have all grown tired of the traditionally depressing look at this disease and wanted to show that women’s relationships with “the girls” is much more than a cancer diagnosis.

This year we have some wonderful new videos that include not only survivors, an update on one of last year’s featured patients, but patients currently going through treatment, Sue even shaved her head on the video as her hair was falling out – emotional stuff!

 Diva Marketing/Toby: I would love to be able to chat with these amazing people. Did you explore incorporating real-time conversations through social networks, perhaps a Tweet Chat or a G+ Hangout?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon: Glad you asked this question. New in the 2014 Stories of the Girls campaign is a message board prominently on the StoriesOfTheGirls.com microsite. We knew that we had to take this campaign to the next level in terms of the conversation so this is an exciting element this year (just launched on 9-15-14). Here, you can chat with survivors, you can talk with other families and their friends going through this journey with a loved one, you can ask our doctors questions, and you can simply ask about other breast health issues from puberty and first bras, to breastfeeding, boob jobs, and changes during menopause. Anything goes! We’d be happy to put you in touch with any of our featured survivors, check out their amazing stories through these videos.

Advocate Health Care theta theta girls

theta theta girls video

 Diva Marketing/Toby: The most exciting social tactic I saw was a #StoriesoftheGirls Instragram contest. Would you explain the concept for the Diva community?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThe #StoriesOfTheGirls contest was another extender of the conversation. We wanted women to share their inspiring photos, but also just women in general living healthy lives. Women were encouraged to share their photos and in turn were entered to win a gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago. Since we had just launched our Instagram account the month prior, this was a great way for us to gain some new followers and boost engagement.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What was the most surprising aspect of the Instagram contest?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonThrough the contest, we uncovered some very inspiring stories and one that we are now featuring in this year’s campaign: Kia. We also saw a side of our own associates (employees) who shared their breast cancer journey through photos as well. We were excited to see how quickly we gained new followers who were interested in our content and still engage with us on the social platform.

 Diva Marketing/Toby: In addition to Instagram what other social media tactics were included? Which one was your favorite and why?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonIn addition to Instagram, we also used Facebook as a social platform to drive awareness of breast cancer by creating a daily calendar of trivia questions about breast health. There was a new question posted each day. Once the daily question was answered you were automatically entered to win a handmade breast cancer awareness crystal bracelet. You were able to enter a total of 31 times for a chance to win the grand prize of gift card to a specialty bra store in Chicago.

We also used Facebook as a platform to share all of our patient’s incredible stories, and also to promote our Instagram contest. Both of our social promotions were well received and we got some great submissions and are continuing to engage through new social promotions with the campaign this year as well and we are seeing even greater results!

Diva Marketing/Toby: How are consumer generated stories/photos being used to extend awareness of #StoriesoftheGirls and  breast cancer health?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine BonOur videos and patient stories have been picked up by many local media outlets as further promotion. Our patients also blog and are the subject of many stories on our brand journalism site ahchealthenews.com  View some of them here.

We also have a partnership with the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, and Bears and we are able to leverage those relationships to have breast cancer awareness events where are patients are honorary captains, sing the 7th inning stretch, and more! It’s a year-long commitment to keep breast cancer awareness at the forefront, not just during October.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The #StoriesoftheGirls campaign kicked off October 2013 to support Breast Awareness Month and appears to be continuing into the summer of 2014 and beyond. As one might say in the theatre, what makes this a long-running show?

Advocate Health Care: Christine Priester/Christine Bon

  • This campaign is authentic and real and that’s what gives it staying power. 

Act 2 of the show is in market now and we couldn’t be more excited. An element of this campaign remains in market year-round, however.  We want to make sure we’re promoting early detection of breast cancer through mammography 365 days a year. And, we want to make it easy for women to get their mammogram and new this year they can find out their results in less than 24 hours – talk about reducing worry that often times accompanies the wait on this test.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons did you learn and can pass along to others in healthcare that maybe considering creating digital/social campaigns?

Advocate Health Care/Christine BonTake a risk, it’s worth it!

Content is critical.

Don’t tell your consumers about new equipment, this or that accreditation, they don’t care. 

Make your campaign about them, not about you.

Speak to your audience how people have conversations in their real life and reach out to them how they like to receive the message (social media, email, direct mail), everyone has a preference, learn it!

  • And, amazingly, you do this, they will talk back to you, and then you have a two-way, engaged consumer conversation and you create brand loyalty.

Toss of a pink boa to Sarah Scroggins for her help in coordinating this interview.  Advocate Health Care _ Sara Scroggins


SouthWired LogoThis week it was my honor to present at South Wired 14, formerly known as Digital Atlanta. South Wired is the longest on-going social media/digital marketing conference in Atlanta. It was my pleasure to share the stage, as co-presenters, with Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe.

Toby and Dorothea SouthWired 14

South Wired is 5 days packed with smart people talking about issues of how to succeed in the ever changing and challenging world of digital marketing. Dorothea and I spent hours discussing what we could bring to the party that might be a little different and add value for the attendees.

Our conversations led us to explore the complexies people are facing with eco-systems from multiple social networks. With each network you participate in from tier one e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkin, YouTube, Pinterest to tier two e.g. Instagram, SnapChat, Jelly, dating sites, etc,  .. you get the drift .. you attract and build an audience. You set expectations. 

We wondered .. is your personal brand attracting the right audience? That was it we had found our direction! We'd start at ground zero, or the heart of social media, the people. 

During the course of the session we handed out little napkins (social = fun!) and asked attendees to diagram their social eco-systems. Some people were surprised at the extent of their social network eco-systems. It was a fun exercise and Madison Harris even shared hers on Twitter

South Wired 14 _Madison Harris

We talked about how privacy is an illusion on the social web, how anything can be hacked and so much more. Dorothea and I are happy to share the deck with you.

Make sure you check out the last section Managing Outside Your Zone. There are tips and ideas and a worksheet I developed that will you define who to follow/friend and the extent of person information you want to share on specific social networks. 


Is Your Personal Brand Attracting The Right Audience Presented At SouthWired14 from Diva Marketing (Blog)

So, I ask you .. what does your social network eco-system look like? Are you attracting the right audiences?

Happy to answer any questions!

Toss of pink boa to Brian Rudolph, Candance McCaffery and their team of amazing volunteers and sponsors for coordinating and managing SouthWired14.


Russ Klein _ AMA CEOThere's a new dude in town.

Well in the world of the American Marketing AssociationRuss Klein recently accepted the role of CEO for AMA and with that he now leads North America's largest professional marketing association.  Of course, AMA dropped a media release which details Russ' credentials (impressive!).

I was curious about the man-behind-the-logo. I felt I had a bit of a vested interest since my AMA affliation has a deep and long history from chapter president, to serving as facilitator of interactive and social media workshops and managing AMA's first virtual communities. One might even say, AMA set me on the road to social media when I chaired its first conferene on blogs in 2004 into 2005.  

Russ graciously agreed to a Diva Marketing interview. In the following conversation he offers: 

  • his view on the future of marketing in a disruptive world,
  • a peak into his vision for AMA,
  • the importance of volunteers and his plans to ensure continuous engagement .. and more.

Toby/Marketing: It sounds almost trite to say that marketing is in a state of disruptive chaos and change. Russ, having been in the center of creating marketing plans for some of the largest consumer brands, you can appreciate that our tool boxes are overflowing with new tactics and strategies.

How does a brand, any brand, ensure that its marketing is relevant and adds value for the customer?

Russ Klein/AMA: That’s not an interview question, that’s a theme for a book! Well certainly relevance and value are two watchwords that are the right ones to guide any marketers actions.

It’s not about what’s possible, despite all of the amazing technological advances we all see. It’s still about what is relevant. The main thing many marketers lose sight of is that merely being different is not necessarily relevant to consumers.

  • Creating differences that matter in the lives of consumers is what’s relevant.

I think the more mysterious question lies with the question of value. I am an ardent believer of Rifkin’s theory of near zero marginal costs that he asserts is imminent as a result of the internet of things and the remaining connectivity potential that is in our future. When you have a knowledge-based enterprise like the AMA competing in a world of open sourced innovation, a sharing economy, and lateral economies of scale, there are tremendous downward pressures on the costs of information.

MIT has posted its entire 1800 course curriculum online for free. So the AMA is not only challenged with delivering relevant thought and service leadership to its constituents, our products and services must be peerless to command some level of sustainable pricing power. This is why I am so excited to take on the challenges facing the AMA. This is the ultimate strategic gauntlet for any CEO to navigate.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Totally agree Russ it is a ‘big’ and not easy question. Perhaps we should put that book on our to do list!

However, the American Marketing Association is more than just another brand. One might say the AMA is the North Star for marketers. What do you feel is AMA’s North Star?

Russ Klein/AMA: Great question. My belief is that the academic gravitas and scholarly distinction…is to the AMA, what Mickey Mouse…is to Disney.

More specifically, by Mickey Mouse, I mean film animation. If you remove animated film credentials and the institutional/cultural effects associated with them, Disney is just another film company…no Disneyland, no Disneyworld, no transcendent lifelong emotional attachment with its consumers. If you remove the AMA Journals thought leadership and the esteemed academic status of being published in them, the AMA is just another conference company or speakers bureau.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Moving into the future how will the organzation ensure its does not lose its foucs in a vast sea of chaos?

Hugh North Star
Russ Klein/AMA

  •  Chaos is opportunity for those that can stay poised and focused.

I view it simply as a matter of strategy, because strategy is all about choice. That’s something I’ve never been uncomfortable with. It goes back to what’s relevant, not what’s possible. It’s my job to help the organization identify opportunities and set priorities that can advance the AMA enterprise, and discard those that don’t.

The AMA culture must be one that values decisiveness and managerial courage to take stands in a civil and respectful way. If we stay focused on how we figure into the lives of our constituents, our stakeholders, and our users we will stay relevant and compelling.

The AMA is about improving the way marketing is practiced around the world. In so doing, we will be a vital catalyst spurring improved commerce and prosperity in communities and everywhere.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In your opinion Russ, what is the most critical aspect of marketing that is ‘broken’ which AMA can help ‘fix?”

Russ Klein/AMA: Two things. There is profound lack of 1) Training and development of talent and 2) Managerial courage.

First, CEO’s and CMO’s can’t expect talent to come to them with all the tools and skill-sets necessary to become a world-class marketer. Even if they have those assets when they arrive, the need for lifelong ongoing training and development plans never ceases.

As a CMO I felt a personal obligation to create learning cultures where curiosity and teachable moments were valued. I always felt if I wasn’t spending at least 25% of my day improving the professional capabilities of my people, I was failing. My observation and experience is that this isn’t happening nearly enough.

Second, business in general and marketing in particular is simply not black and white. As much as I believe in disciplined marketing science, there is also marketing art.

Managers are almost always presented with a spectrum of management decisions that range from “no-risk” to “high-risk” with corresponding rewards. Too many corporate cultures, including the marketing cultures inside them, are built around fear of failure and fear of appearing wrong. Or there’s the “go along to get along” mentality which is responsible for more mediocrity than I care to admit I’ve seen.

  • My advice to every marketer, young and old, is to re-examine your capacity for the courage of your convictions. You can’t inspire greatness or excellence without periodic principled “stands” for what you believe to be the right thing to do.

Toby/Diva Marketing: With your background as CMO for major consumer brands, as well as, award winning agency work you bring a prestigious CV to the party. However, nonprofit associations have some different and unique challenges. What most excites you about the opportunity to lead the AMA?

Russ Klein/AMA: I believe the one thing I bring is a ferocious passion to compete. While nobody would ever want to characterize the AMA as a bloodthirsty competitor, I do believe we are nonetheless competing with other formidable knowledge-based enterprises.

The need to identify and leverage competitive advantage is just as relevant in a not-for-profit arena as it is in the for-profit world. I suppose the most obvious difference is the amount of resources available to the AMA to advance its vision versus other better heeled for-profit and scaled up companies. Conversely, those companies seldom can call upon thousands of volunteers and advocates for whom their volunteerism is both a source of personal satisfaction and a calling to be of service to others. I believe the opportunity to hold up a shared vision as a source of inspiration can power the AMA when dollars can’t.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We like to think of AMA as The premier association in terms of marketing sciences thought leadership. Recently it appears the perception is AMA has lost ground to marketing content house like MECLABS, MarketingProfs, eConsultancy, SmartInsights, and of course, to marketing bloggers. What are your thoughts?

Russ Klein/AMA: On one hand I welcome the increased attention that many other enterprises are bringing to the practice of marketing science. Conversely, no one can deliver the academic thought and service leadership, the chapter level engagement, and the volunteerism that distinguishes the AMA. The so-called competitors out there should serve to motivate us to sharpen our competitive advantages in a way that, if we were uncontested, we probably never would.

The esteem with which marketing practitioners, academics, and students are viewed should be on the same level as those who choose medicine or science as their pursuit. The AMA is uniquely positioned to elevate marketing science in this way because of its academic credentials.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that the AMA should reclaim some of that 'thought leadership position' and if so how?

Russ Klein/AMA: I would never say that we couldn’t improve our thought leadership position. Knowledge is a fluid and perishable product. If I didn’t think our best ideas for thought leadership are ahead of us I couldn’t say our best days are ahead of us; and they most definitely are!

Toby/Diva Marketing: Although not professional associations, CEB and MECLABS have recently made acquisitions (Iconoculture and Marketing Sherpa respectively). It’s a different path to follow, but what are your thoughts about the possibilities of strategic acquisitions to grow the AMA and supplement areas where AMA does not have a strong reputation or extensive experience?

Russ Klein/AMA: My fundamental belief is that a healthy business model needs to identify organic growth first. If there are adjacent growth opportunities that can enable or accelerate the AMA vision through acquisition or strategic alliances I imagine we’d want to take a hard look at them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: AMA has traditionally served many different types of marketers: students, academics, practitioners, and researchers. What are your views on how that should be managed in the future? Do you think AMA should continue to try to serve everyone or focus more on one or more groups?

Russ Klein/AMA: I have always been an ardent champion of sharp, vivid focus on core users of a brand.

In the case of the AMA our core users just happen to cut horizontally across like-minded practitioners, academics, and students all of whom are engaged in the pursuit of original and best practices in marketing science. That said, there are still important ways of closing the aperture to create more focus for which we have ideas that remain part of our confidential strategic planning process.

Ama-logo 8_14
Toby/Diva Marketing
: Since AMA members make up part of Diva Marketing’s community and I am an AMA past president of the Atlanta Chapter, let’s talk a bit about the heart and soul of AMA ... its volunteers. What will be the role of professional chapters in the future?

How will the relationship between HC and Chapters evolve - or not?

Russ Klein/AMA: Also a great question. If the academic prowess of the AMA is its strategic advantage, then the thousands of volunteers are the unsung heroes that are responsible for converting that AMA advantage into an AMA experience. Understanding that it is the volunteers who are responsible for delivering the first formative AMA experience to new members is a critical recognition for the so-called headquarters of the AMA. There is just no substitute for “being there” and starting with me, I plan to become a familiar face to as many of our chapters as possible.

  • Politicians and Rock N’ Roll bands both know that the secret to build true loyalty and engagement is by being in the markets; stumping or playing music to their constituents.

I am a big believer in local knowledge and that collecting it in person is the best way to learn about the unique minds and moods of the membership and volunteers.

It might be a good idea to change the “headquarters” language to “support center” which better describes the service leadership we are responsible for providing. Simple ideas like that send culture messages to the organization…but we have to be able to walk the talk. I’m sure we are, but we can always be more present at the chapter or event level.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Professional associations struggle with membership attrition and AMA has its challenges in this area. What are your thoughts on how to engage AMA members, and as important, how to keep them engaged with the association?

 Russ Klein/AMA: Engagement is the operative word. Our goal must always be to convert a user’s connection with the AMA, no matter how it begins, into an engaged relationship wherein the AMA is providing the thought and service leadership that can help that individual experience to advance their personal objectives; be that research, publishing, knowledge acquisition, professional training and development, career networking and camaraderie, problem solving, or identifying marketing strategies and best practices for growth. If we’re creating value in these ways, membership growth and attrition will take care of themselves.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Dennis Dunlap, immediate past AMA CEO, began an international expansion which involved China. What are your thoughts/plans about growing the association’s footprint both on a global and national basis?

Russ Klein/AMA: We are not about planting flags unless we can get the commensurate returns from a scaled up presence. The opportunity to grow membership and engagement inside the U.S. alone is more than enough to satisfy our needs for growth; so it will require a judicious balance and allocation of resources on our part.

With that in mind the AMA will continue to examine thoughtful expansion outside North America where it makes sense. There’s no question, that not unlike American exports of film and music entertainment, American marketing is viewed as a global standard for which the appetite is large.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What are some of the lessons you bring with you from your time in the fast food industry that will help support your success in this exciting new role?

Russ Klein/AMA: The fast food industry is the most competitive industry in the world, simply because so many companies are competing for the largest consumer dollar in the world; the food dollar.

I’ve already shared my belief that I will bring a very energetic sense of competitiveness to the AMA. Beyond that, the other element the fast food industry has taught me is that the restaurant manager trumps the brand manager every time.

  • Likewise, it will still be our chapter-level execution in delivering a world-class professional experience that will define the AMA, not what my team located in Chicago dreams up and posts online.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Since, of course, Diva Marketing is ‘social media’, which means people-talking-to-people, we’d love to get to know a little about the person behind the AMA logo.  

7 Fun Fact About Russ!

1. Briefcase or backpack…backpack
2. Tablet or laptop…laptop
3. PC or Mac…Mac
4. Favorite word…grateful
5. One of your ‘bucket list’ to dos…build a tree house on my ranch in Colorado and have a family reunion there.
6. Favorite social network…Facebook personal/LinkedIn professional
7. Must have when traveling…running shoes

Toby/Diva Marketing: It’s a Diva Marketing tradition to toss the virtual mic to you and give you an opportunity wrap the interview. Is anything you’d like to say to our community about marketing, digital/social media, AMA or ????? It’s your turn Russ!

Russ Klein/AMA: There’s no better time in business history to be a marketer. Get involved with the AMA and I guarantee you will get back many times over what you devote to it. Together, we’re going to light the path to improve marketing originality and best practices and make it the best profession you’ll ever love!

Positively, Russ

Pink boaToss of a pink boa to AMA colleauges who offered interview question ideas. Sybil Stershic, AMA Board Chair and current AMA training/event instructor, president of Quality Services Marketing; Debra Semans, current AMA training instructor and national AMA board member, Dana Van DenHuvel current AMA training instructor, president of Marketing Savant


Notebook coffeeWhen BBF Yvonne DiVita, author/founder of Lipsticking and BlogPaws, asked me to play along on an 'old fashion' blog meme or blog hop,  I immediately said yes.

Blog memes were popular before blogs were social media. So this post is not only fun but a bit nostalgia

I've always wanted to be a "Writer." However, I never really knew I was until I started Diva Marketing. Funny because I wrote all the time. I've always had/and have a little note book with me to jot ideas, impressions, thoughts. I write in coffee shops, on planes, on trains, in parks, in a car. I write most everywhere. With my little note books I am never alone.

Why do I write .. to tell stories; you might have noticed that most of the posts on diva marketing wrap around a story. 

Why do I write .. to clear my thoughts; writing is a way to capture ideas that sometimes seem allusive.

Why do I write .. to share and to teach; writing provides a tangible way to help others learn.

Why do I write .. because I have to.

Why do I write .. to play with words; so many choices to make when you write; it's fun to paint with the rainbow of words.

Why do I write .. this may sound odd but I write to read what I wrote. 

Why do I write? Perhaps the next question is what do I want to write next?

Part of a meme is to tap a few friends who will take the concept and put their own spin on it. I am excited that three of my favorite bloggers will be joining the meme parade. Please meet ...

Paul Chaney - Paul and I share a special bond. You see, Paul was the first 'real blogger' I met offline. You always hold a special spot in your heart for your first. His four (yes count them 4!) books on blogs and social media are examples of his love of writing and teaching. He has a special gift of taking complex topics and making them understandable .. and fun. Oh and he's an awesome piano player! Drop by to read Paul's post on 8/25.  Blog  Twitter 

Nettie Reynolds - Nettie once said to me that if you can't laugh with a person, question if that person should be in your life. Nettie not only makes me laugh but she makes me smile. Nettie's diverse career runs from working with authors & creatives to create digital awareness and even performing stand up comedy and she's a playwright. Drop by to read Nettie's post on 8/18 Blog Twitter 

Des Walsh - I often say, blogs/social media give back more than they take. It's unlikely that my path would have cross with this wise and smart man from Australia without the benefit of the digital world and blogs. Although Des is based on the other side of my world, through Skype, G+ Hangouts and social media his coaching, LinkIn mentoring and social media business has no geographical boundaries. Drop by to read Des' post on 8/11. Blog Twitter

Toss of a pink boa or perhaps I should say, pink notebook, to Susan Foster for starting this blog hop. 



Waffle House _World Cup B vs USA Waffles_won my heartThe U.S.A. won against Belgium in the World Cup game.

Well .. not really .. but sort of. 

The Waffle House, an American, iconic, southern, restaurant company, walked away with the social media trophy.

Paying not one of the 75k dollar sponsorship fees, the Waffle House's followers organically helped score them the win via a social media waffle battle: sweet versus Belgium waffles. 

Many saw the battle unfold on Twitter but I wondered ... what was the back-story? How did it begin and what course of action did the Waffle House plan? Meghan Irwin, Waffle House, agreed to tell us what it was like during the heat of the Belgium Waffle Battle.  Some of her answers might surprise you. 

About Meghan Irwin - Our story teller, Meghan, has been working for the Waffle House, Inc. for almost three years.

Waffle House Megan IrwinShe is part of the Communications Department where her role focuses on social media management and event execution. 

About Waffle House® Restaurants - Headquartered in Norcross, GA, Waffle House restaurants has been serving Good Food Fast® since 1955. Today the Waffle House system operates more than 1,700 restaurants in 25 states and is the world’s leading server of waffles, T-bone steaks, hashbrowns, cheese ‘n eggs, country ham, pork chops and grits.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I read that the now famous Belgium Waffle House Tweet wasn’t planned. In fact, there was no committee or even social media team brainstorming on how to get into the World Cup social conversation.  Would you fill us in on the who-what-why of the back-story?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle HouseGoodbull Hunting actually initiated the idea by tweeting at us upon hearing Team USA was moving onto the next round in the World Cup. When asked for our opinion of Belgian waffles, we replied with “We dominate them.”

TMZ Sports got word of this tweet then contacted us to ask more about it. On Monday June 30th, TMZ published the story and we kind of ran with it. So yes, this wasn’t planned.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Not only was Waffle House the darling of the social media world but main stream media picked up and moved your story along. Who was the first media outlet that contacted you?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Van Lathan from TMZ Sports reached out to us on Friday June 27th. Boycotting all things Belgian was a hot topic, so they asked if we would support that. Of course we would! We’re America’s place to eat!

Toby/Diva Marketing: What was it like at work when you began receiving calls and requests for interviews?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Surprisingly, we weren’t in the office for the majority of the day. The team was at a press conference for our valued partner Smithfield. We took most of the calls in our Waffle van to avoid any background noise. It was actually pretty amusing. We’d see emails for requests and we’d take turns by hopping in the van.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did the excitement and buzz trickle to the field restaurants and if so what was their reactions?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Yes, we received positive feedback from Area Vice Presidents. We also educated the public and our customers that our waffles are not Belgian waffles. They’re sweet cream.

Toby/Diva Marketing: With all of the conversation and RTs that were happening, did the Waffle House tap additional people to monitor the conversation?

Megan Irwin/Waffle House: We work as team in the effort to engage in conversation with our fans.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We saw you were engaging with your community in RTs and responses. For many companies listening is a struggle in terms of the right tool and the time commitment.  Would you share how the Waffle House approaches tracking, listening and reporting?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: We are one of those companies. We struggle just like everyone else in terms of time commitment and listening. We’re in the process of doing a trial with a couple companies now to see what fits best with our company.

Toby/Diva Marketing: There didn’t seem to be a unique hashtag from @WaffleHouse. Was this intentional?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: There wasn’t a need for a unique hashtag. This was an organic conversation with a fan. By adding a unique hashtag in this mix, we feel you lose the genuine feeling of the conversation. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Interesting idea Meghan. Perhaps we can encourage brands to be less "hashtag happy."

In addition to Twitter and Facebook were other social media tactics were included and if so which networks and which worked best to move the engagement?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: We focused on where the majority of our community is. We have a strong, vocal fan base on both Twitter and Facebook therefore our efforts to engage was focused on those two channels.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What was the most surprising aspect of the experience?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: The fact that our community responded with this playful boycott and ran with it. Also, we saw media outlets that don’t normally cover Waffle House, ending up covering this tweet.

Toby/Diva Marketing: To put your responses in context, what does social media mean to the Waffle House in terms of branding, awareness and customer loyalty?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

  • To us, social media means continuing the conversation with our customers after they have an experience with our brand. It continues well after they leave the restaurant.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How large is your social team and who does it report up to?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: As it falls under Communications, we work as a team.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  As we discussed, the response Waffle House received was fantastic. What do you have in mind to build it?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: We want to stay true to the brand’s personality and maintain the engagement with our fans. Like I mentioned before, it’s all about keeping the conversation going with our customers.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In retrospect, is there any thing that you would have done differently?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Nothing at all. This tweet allowed us to grow our community and spread the word that Waffle House is on social.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  What lessons did you learn that you can share with our community?

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House:

1. Be responsive.

2. Talk back to your fans if they engaged with you.

3. You never know what ideas you’ll come up with when engaging with fans. We were able to use the USA waffle photo by engaging with one of our fans. Waffle House with community tweet

Toby/Diva Marketing: It’s become a tradition to toss the virtual Diva Marketing mic to you and give you a chance to add anything else you’d like.

Meghan Irwin/Waffle House: Our community is the reason this happened. We enjoy engaging with our fans and customers and will continue to do so.

  • Getting to know your community is the best thing you can do on social media.
  • We do it for the fans and for the bacon. 

More About The Waffle House - Website, Career Opportunities, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

Toss of a pink boa to Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe for her help in arranging the interview. 


Edgerton reporter"Always in motion is the future”– Yoda 

She was the daughter. That meant she was a second generation newspaper publisher.

Diane Everson, publisher of The Edgerton Reporter in Edgerton, WI wasn’t the only one whose newspaper spanned generations at the 2014 Inland Press Mobile and Social Solutions Conference last month.

In the room, where I had the pleasure of talking about social media in newspapers, were people who had a passion for their papers and their industry.

As I quickly learned, running a weekly or small community newspaper is not unlike owning a small business. Except ... whatever you do is always front and center in the town you serve.

Like many small business owners, nonprofits and yes, larger brands, publishers struggle with how to critically and strategically enter the 21st century digital and social content world. Except ... they face an interesting dilemma when it comes to online content. As do radio and TV.

Actually, digital content strategy is a challenge facing any company whose ‘product’ is information. In the Interweb and social media, where free content is expected there is a haunting question.

  • How much do you ‘give away’ and what do you hold as a revenue stream? 

Even before you can answer that question there are foundational aspects of social media that must be in place. I built the deck to, as they say in the foodie world, deconstruct the elements.

  • Each element in a digital/social media plan must beautifully stand alone before it can be (re)constructed or as marketers might say integrated.

We looked at social through the lens of the brand, journalists and advertisers. I led the group through an exercise that I called “What is different?” We reviewed four media websites: newspaper, TV, radio and online publisher. Our conclusion was the content was so similar we couldn’t identify the media type and it didn't matter which site we were on to just get information. 

Lesson learned: Online content of media companies appears to be all-the-same. 

Question: How can the strengths of the newspaper industry at-large and your specific newspaper be used to created “Now I care content or stories” that are so unique and audience-relevant your community wants to socially share?

We looked at how newspapers, as a brand, engages with their communities. We discoved - not so much. Traditional culture of the media is to identify and tell the stories they feel are most important.

Social media takes radio, TV and newspapers into a far different and often uncomfortable world. It shouldn't be a big surprise to find many, especially smaller newspapers, challenged in how to balance those worlds. 

Lesson learned: Social Media is used as a content distribution channel not as a ‘community communication channel.’ Newspaper publishers were reluctant to step out and ‘talk’ with their readers .. people-to-people.

Question: How can the brand step out from the behind the logo and talk to their readers online -- as they do offline at events and networking meetings?

In 1884, the Boston Globe's Confidential Chat was building community among women, and a few dudes in the greater Boston area. So I say ... go even further back to your roots newspaper peeps and learn from yourself! 

Confidential Chat Boston Globe

Sidebar: This a real clip that I found in my mom's recipe box. She saved it for many years so I assume it must have held meaning for her. How long does your content 'stay around?'  Or is it the digital equivalent of newspaper used to wrapped fish and chips? 

Newspaper fish and chips

We looked at journalists and their special challenges in producing social content and community engagement. We saw engagement but on a closer review it was frequently among their peers not with their community.

Lessons learned: Passion about the topic is important to sustain long-term participation on the social web. Social media writing especially, short tweets, can be a challenge of long-form story training.

Questions: How can journalists sustain a social conversation over time while holding true to the values of their newspapers and their personal brands? How can opinion tweets and posts be included .. or can they?

And there was more so I'm happy to shaing the deck with you. There are several worksheets that might be helpful as you build out systems and process for your plan. Some will help to align with what social media means to your company and how it can support overarching goals.

Hat tip to Mr. Ray Marcano, CanisDigital, for recommeding me for this exciting gig; and Patty Slusher, Inland Press for her support. 

Read More: Amy Gahran, How Early Newspaper to Web Technology Crippled News Industry's Thinking 

Now that we've gone through some deconstructing the next question is -- How will you construct your social media world? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.


Second screen walking deadPicture this.

It's been a stressful week and you're looking forward to a night of vegging out. The telly goes on and perhaps there is an adult beverage or two nearby. It's a scene played-out in many homes for nearly 70 years.  

Over the past few years a there have been a few changes in How we watch TV. 

On goes the TV set, you flip open your tablet and smart phone ready to watch. Only now you can chat with your friends about the show, play a few Walking Dead games and perhaps even buy that cute dress one of the actresses is wearing. Welcome to Second Screen TV and SocialTV. . 

A couple of weeks ago Joel Rubinson, President and founder of Rubinson Partners, Inc., and CivicScience took to the reseach road to learn more about second screen viewing. The results, which they shared with the industry, TV Viewing and the “Second Screen” – What Audiences are Doing with Mobile, Tablet Devices,  is a report based on the CivicScience data collection and research platform. Joel conducted the analysis and partnered in formulating the research questions.

Joel rubinsonJoel kindly agreed to answer a few questions and give us his views on the future of second screen TV and socialTV. 

Diva Marketing:  The Insight Report you did with CivicScience indicates that multitasking is the name of the game for 45% of respondents who acknowledged using a ‘second screen’ (smart phone, tablet or computer) while viewing traditional broadcast TV.  

It was also  interesting to me that 80%, were not engaged online with content related to the show. 

In your opinion is this a trend and if so, where does it leave content producers in terms of advertiser value?

 Joel Rubinson: Hi Toby, thank you for your question.  First, let me clarify that it is 45% of everyone watching TV who multi-task so it is actually a higher percentage of those who own an internet access device and watch traditional TV.

The fact that 80% or more of multi-taskers are doing so in unrelated ways means that media might have the wrong idea about what people want to do with the device in their hands. They are more interested in passing dead time than they are in enriching the TV experience. 

  • Will this change? Perhaps, but media will need to offer more enticing experiences to get viewers to engage.

The value of this research we did using CivicScience’s data is understanding that the current crop of synchronized tools are not yet substantially changing viewing behaviors. Yet media and marketers desperately want it to work because it would add value to media ad inventory and impact to marketer advertising efforts.  In the meantime, marketers should look for synergistic opportunities for their advertising on unrelated websites.

An exotic sounding but quite doable idea is for marketers to use real time bidding engines to bid for inventory at the precise moment that their advertising is airing on TV. Hence, if I’m seeing a commercial on Judge Judy and happen to be on a news site with RTB inventory at the moment, an advertiser could make sure I am seeing a display ad for the same brand.

Diva Marketing:  In the report there was mention of “synchronized second screen experiences.” Would you please explain the concept and the opportunities as you see them?

Joel Rubinson: Synchronized experiences refers to using your internet device in a way that is related to the TV program you are watching. 

This could be answering quizzes about what you think will happen to Rick in Walking Dead as he is face to face with a horde of Zombies (via an app for the show), or voting on Twitter for who should get kicked off American Idol or The Voice.

In contrast, unrelated multitasking is when I’m checking e-mail or messaging a friend on Facebook while watching a show.

I think the biggest opportunity is to build interest in real time viewing rather than recording the show on a DVR and potentially fast forwarding through the commercials.  Synchronized experiences only work in real time.

Diva Marketing:  How do you see the intersection of broadcast TV and online content being mutually beneficial for (1)  audience/ratings growth , (2) advertisers and (3) viewer experience  … or do you?

Joel Rubinson:

I believe that over the past 5-10 years all networks had to decide if online content was a threat to program ratings. 

  • I believe they all came to the same conclusion that online viewing does not cannibalize TV viewing appreciably and actually builds ratings indirectly by getting someone more into the show.

This has been presented by Alan Wurtzel the research lead at NBC regarding the Olympics.

Online content was mostly viewed by those who wanted to relive favorite moments and seemed to go hand in hand with more TV viewing hours, not fewer, for the Olympics. Overall, the great majority of video content is still viewed in real time on the TV even with 5-10 years of significant growth of DVR use and live streaming over the internet.

TV watching is still the 800 pound gorilla (or at least 720 pounds) but watching content online is also a reality, it is growing and all progressive media companies need to embrace it and make it work for them. 

The researcher in me wants to point out that one simple payback is realizing that the dot.com parts of TV networks have the ability to better track viewer interests via online digital behaviors, yielding first party data that can result in very powerful insights and promotional targeting.

Diva Marketing: Thanks Joel! I'm off to make sure my ipad, iphone and laptop are charged and I know the Twitter handle of the show. 

More About the methodology, CivicScieince, Joel Rubinson and Partners

CivicScience is the provider of the real-time polling and consumer insights platform used by Joel Rubinson in this study. The second-screen questions were added to thousands of other questions running through the CivicScience polling platform and published via hundreds of web and mobile websites, and the data from the anonymous respondents were aggregated and mined using automated data science technology.

CivicScience's platform is used by consumer brand and media clients to quickly and deeply understand consumer sentiment and behaviors. 

Joel Rubison is President and founder of Rubinson Partners, Inc. marketing and research consulting for a brave new world and a member of the faculty of NYU Stern School of Business where he teaches social media strategy. Started in 2010, Rubinson Partners, Inc. (RPI) has already helped position several clients for success in a digital age. 


Peachtree road race startIn the wee hours of the morning traffic challenged Peachtree Street in Buckhead (Atlanta) experiences a few quiet hours before the mad rush hour/s begin.

But not on the Fourth of July.

Today the 45th Peachtree Road Race brought out more than 250,000 (60k official runners) people who woke up the city to take part in the world's largest 10K race.

Unlike it’s cousin the Boston Marathon, The Peachtree, as it's fondly called, is not just a race for runners or even joggers. It’s a community experience where generations of family and friends often walk together to celebrate life.  Even for the people on the sidewalks who cheer on the runners, The Peachtree takes on a carnival atmosphere.

For many, like my pal Joe Koufman, founder of AgencySparks, it’s become a tradition. With race number 12 completed (note Joe's 1-2 fingers!), I asked Joe Why he continues to run The Peachtree. Peachtree Road Race Joe Koufman 2014

"The Peachtree Road Race is more of an experience than a race.  The sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the race make it spectacular.  

 Some of the highlights for me are walking to the MARTA station when there are few people setting up and the police are patrolling the course, then packing into the train like sardines with sticky runners, the costumes (this year I saw Hulk Hogan, Beer Maid, a banana, marching band in Speedos, and others), the official (and unofficial) bands every mile, and the thousands of spectators each celebrating the day with their unique styles.  

I am never really trying to get a personal record (though I do train and run hard for the Peachtree).  I like to soak in the entire experience."

A much anticipated part of The Peachtree tradition is the t-shirt that goes to all official runners who complete the race. The t-shirt design is a ‘crowd sourced’ voting competition.

The 2014 Peachtree Road Race t-shirt was created by James Balke.  James is a two-time winner; his first was for the 1997 race. By the way, did you know there is even a book about the history of the Peachtree Road Race T-shirt?

Take a look at both of James’ designs.

Peachtree road race t shirt 1997 2014

Notice any similarities? The 1997 t-shirt includes multiple Peachtree street signs while 2014 is a detailed map of the race.  Although very different styles both represent maps and direction of Atlanta. Both represent the values of the race.

4 Lessons learned From The Peachtree Road Race

1. The brand can create a framework but it is the community who builds community. The Atlanta Track Club set the rules and the course for the Peachtree Road Race.

2. Execution of similar concepts e.g. tactics can take on very different results .. and that can be a  good thing. James Balke’s  designs demonstrate foundational concepts can produce distinctive outcomes.

3. Tradition plays a role in setting expectations and repeat ‘buy.’ People look forward to running the race year after year often with the same friends and family.

4. Little things make a BIG difference and become a customer thank you/reward. The Peachtree Road Race T-shirt is a treasured prize for finishing the race.

Happy 4th of July!


Frank Somerville _Facebook 7_3_14During my time heading social media at Cox Media Group I had the pleasure of working with some great folks.

There was a special journalist, from California Bay Area KTVU, that was an inspiration when it came to understanding the importance of social media, how to build community and the critical nature of engagement ... especially on Facebook.

Frank Somerville, main news anchor, topped 100K Facebook Likes; in fact as of this moment he has 120,059k Likes. As anyone who has built out a social network page can tell you this is no small feat.

However, as we also have come to understand, Likes without engagement are simply a bunch of numbers. Left alone Likes do not necessarily lead to significant shares, community or brand loyalty. Which makes the extent of engagement Frank has nurtured even more impressive.

How did he do it? Why did he do it? And how does it relate back to the brand? Frank tells his back-story in this video interview.

Frank's 7 Tips To Succeed In Social Media

1. Be Authentic

2. Be Honest

3. Let people see who you are behind the camera… or behind your 'business face'

4. Respond to people

5. Don't follow all the rules...take a risk. This is new stuff don’t be afraid to experiment.

6. Try to find your own way and what works for you.

7. If people like you it will carry over to your brand creating a win-win-win (for your customer, the brand and you).

And I'll add one more ... have fun! It is quite evident that Frank is having a great time. The energy carries over to his relationship with the community and back again to their involvement with Frank and with each other.

Any brand, media or not, can benefit from Frank's insights. The video is worth a click and a watch.

Frank - congrats! Well deserved.


Mobile shopping

The interweb and smart phones forever changed how we buy, what we buy, where we buy .. and who we take along on our shopping adventures. 

What makes social shopping work is something so simple but at the same time it’s often a challenge for brands to achieve. The Social Share. Sounds like the next viral video dance!

One of the new ways to shop is taking your virtual entourage along. Your friends can be part of your shopping experience for seconds, a la SnapChat, or participate in in-depth discussions in Google Hangouts.

For some folks social shopping is an amazing adventure. Still don't know if it's really worth the extra money for the souped up camera?  You have a way to bring friends, as the marketers might say, into the purchase decision. Girlfriend, are you in a quandary about which cute dress to buy? Through a few Snapchat photos of you modeling the potential new dresses you might justify buying them all! 

If after their real time feedback you still can’t decide you can always create a Pinterest board, post on Instagram or start a Facebook or Twitter conversation. Upside:  lots of opinions. Downside:  lots of opinions.

If you can’t find the right ‘expert’ feedback from your family and friends, well there’s always the kindness of strangers. Odd as it seems, review sites like Yelp (www.yelp.com) influence purchase from the very important, your 27th pair of black shoes to the mundane, which dryer to buy. And then there is something in the middle .. Jelly a mobile app "knowledge search" from Twitter Founder Biz Stone. (It's my new favorite time suck.) Jelly combines your social network and your friends' network. 

Retails both online and offline are launching mobile apps to complement our digial shopping experiences. Reseach from Internet Retailer indicates that in 2013 consumers on both major mobile platforms increasingly relied on mobile apps as part of the shopping process.

For others on-going opinions and reviews are a confusing maze of babble often resulting in a digital nightmare. Add to the mix input from brands and you have an over abundance of expert opinions.As Jimmy Fallon might say, “ew!”

Online and offline worlds collide in creating an important 360’ customer experience. For brands that have not built a digital community of people who will pass along reviews, photos, videos to their friends, social media is just another distribution channel. I ask you... why bother to invest resources in something that your website should accomplish?

Social Savvy Tips For Brands: It’s critical to monitor what customers and prospects are saying about their entire shopping experience from digital, in-store and of course the product. Often overlooked are hidden insights in comments on your own social platforms.

  • With those insights gained take action beginning with thanking your customers for sharing.

Social Savvy Tip For Customers: Before you take out the plastic to make a major purchase read reviews from multiple sources. A Twitter search on a brand may turn up some interesting insights too.  So many opinions, so little time.

How do you do The Social Shopping Share Dance?


Part Two of a series of interviews with Adobe Digital and Social Media Summit Speakers & Attendees. 

Tamar Rimmon, Conde Nast, tells us how her team provides meaningful insights to senior managment and internal clients that support the brand's goals. 

Tamar Rimmon _ Conde NastAbout Tamar Rimmon - Tamar is Senior Manager of Analytics and Audience Development at Conde Nast. She works with Conde Nast’s brands – including The New Yorker, Glamour, and WIRED – helping them deliver unique brand experiences for their audiences and drive engaged users to their sites. Tamar’s career spans the television, publishing and digital media industries.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As Senior Manager of Analytics and Audience Development your days are filled with numbers. Often the people that ask for analytic reports may not live in your world. How do you tell the story of the numbers so your internal clients don’t get the ‘glazed over look?’

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: My team’s goal is to help guide brand strategy by providing meaningful insights to our internal clients. I found that the best way to bring value is to get into my clients’ shoes and understand what matters most to them.

The story should not be about the numbers in and of themselves – it should be about what the numbers tell us regarding the things that are important to our clients, and how they can make better decisions by leveraging these learnings. I’m also a big believer in data visualization.

Presenting the numbers in a visual way is a great way to convey insights and make the data accessible and easier to grasp even to those who are not experts in analytics.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We understand that measuring success starts with goals/objectives. However, sometimes is seems like “data data everywhere and not a drop to drip.” (Apologizes to  Samuel Taylor Coleridge). How have you determined which analytics to focus on in terms of demonstrating value to senior leadership?

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: It's easy to get overwhelmed by data overload, but we have to be in control of the data instead of letting the data control us. Analytics must be derived from and aligned with the goals of the organization.

Conde Nast has always been focused on creating high quality content that caters to valuable audiences, so we structure our analytics around this objective. My focus is on harnessing the analytics to understand who our high-value audiences are, how they behave, and what we need to do to engage and delight them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is a must bring to Adobe Summit for you?

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: A notepad! (mine is digital, though…) Adobe Summit is a great opportunity to meet fellow analysts and marketers and learn about all the innovative things they are doing. I like to keep track of the new ideas that I hear about and the thoughts they inspire in me, and I make sure to bring it all back with me to the office when the Summit is over.

Tamar's Adobe Social Sessions: Social ROI all star panel & The rise of the social analyst

This Diva Marketing post is part of an influencer Adobe Insider program for Adobe Summit. I receive incentives to share my views. All opinions are 100% mine.


One of the benefits of a biz blog is sometimes 'fair trade' agreements. Recently Adobe reached out and asked if I would be part of a 4-member Insider group, along with Travis Wright, Elizabeth Osmeloski, Michele Kiss, that would help socialize their digital marketing conference next week .. Adobe Summit. Sounded like good learnings to share. With over 5000 attendees sounded like a biz carnival! Sounded like fun.

Adobe also offered introductions to speakers and attendees who are doing innovative work in digital/social. More good learnings for us. And I've never been to Salt Lake City so I said. "Yes" to the opportunity.

Part One of a series of interviews with Adobe Digital and Social Media Summit Speakers & Attendees. First up .. Cory Edwards from Abode who provides his insights about how to build a Center or Excellence that is more than just a shiny new toy.

Corey Edwards _AdobeAbout Cory Edwards - Corey is head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence. He is responsible for integrating social media into the way Adobe does business. Prior to Adobe, Cory was director of social media at Dell. Cory is also an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Social Centers of Excellence have become the new ‘must have’ for many organizations. How do you ensure that a company’s center of excellence is a true business tool and not the latest shiny new toy that is here today and gone tomorrow?

Cory Edwards/Adobe: Structure. And I agree with you, far too often companies establish a CoE but frankly don’t institute it with a framework to guide it successfully. While we often refer to our own group as a CoE, I often define it to people internally as an operations group.

If you think of more structured business functions like sales or marketing, they almost always also have a corresponding sales operations team or a marketing operations team. Thinking of social in that light isn’t a bad way to approach a CoE function. It is a corporate function that is focused on creating and maintaining a smooth operation for the social business.

There are a few things that need to happen in my opinion to be successful. First, businesses need to be social by design — that idea lends itself to having a CoE. Secondly, the business needs to parallel path the ‘doing’ of social media with the back-end internal social operation. For Adobe, our back-end social operation is built upon a foundation with 4 core pillars: 

1. Governance (Policies, processes, audits, account management & security, alignment with business units, etc.)

2. Enablement (Training of social media teams & employee base, employee activation, consulting, working with regions, etc.)

3. Measurement (data driven insights, measurement frameworks, Dashboard, Listening research, etc.)

4. Innovation (disruptive pilots to existing business processes, vendor/tool evaluation, identifying needs within the business, POV on industry changes, close ties with the social networks, etc.)

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that an organization can become a ‘social business’ without the concept incorporated into the company’s overarching strategic direction? Please explain your response.

Cory Edwards/Adobe: That may depend a bit on the company and its industry, but from my perspective it would be awfully difficult to become a social business without that concept incorporated into the company’s direction. That doesn’t mean the company needs to come out and overtly restate its mission so that it includes social, but it does mean that social really is an influencing factor in corporate strategy and various functional strategies (marketing, support, product development, talent acquisition, etc.).

Executives who want to establish a social business should be aware of social trends, open to social insights and willing to explore how the integration of social within various business functions can potentially disrupt the normal way of doing business in a way that might improve it. At Adobe, it has helped tremendously to have two key champions of social: our CEO Shantanu Narayen and our CMO Ann Lewnes, both of whom have stated clearly that they want to see Adobe become one of the most social brands in the world. And believe me, it’s not simply talk, they regularly talk about it, ask about it, provide feedback and generally want to know what we’re doing now and next. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is a must bring to Adobe Summit for you?

Cory Edwards/Adobe: Two things: 1- Evernote. I’m a big fan and user for both my work and personal life. 2- Fitbit Force. If I’m going to be walking all those long halls at Summit, I want to make sure I’m getting exercise credit for it. Just think of how many steps I can rack up each day next week!

Cory's Adobe Summit Session - How to operate a social by design business. 

Follow Cory on Twitter @CoryEdwards

This Diva Marketing post is part of an influencer Adobe Insider program for Adobe Summit. I receive incentives to share my views. All opinions are 100% mine.


Those who tell the stories well shape our lives.

Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart
Often stories are as much about the people who tell them as they are of the story itself. In 2014, websites, blogs, social networks influence how we tell and pass along our stories. We might even add videos, podcasts, an infographic or graphic or two. 

"Those who tell the stories also hold the power." "Those who tell the stories rule society." "Those who tell the stories rule the world."

These three quotes have been attributed to both Plato and the Hopi American Indians. Quite obviously they were worlds apart separated by thousands of miles not to mention centuries of time. The universal truth remains dead right .. The influence of the story teller can be life changing. 

For the past 18-months I have worked among and with professionally trained story tellers .. call them journalists or reporters. It's their job to identify, research and tell the most significant stories of our society. Until just a few years ago their stories were the only way most of us learned what was happening in our world. Then the digital world entered and changed the game .. for them and for us.

In the digital world traditional media (radio, TV, print publications) and brands share several common challenges. One of the most significant is the expectations of our audiences/communities for on-going content for our websites, blogs, social networks.

No longer can traditional media tell stories only on the 6p news with perhaps a repeat at 11p. To remain competitive content must feed hungry digital assets (websites, blogs, social networks) multiple times a day. That's a whole bunch of new stories .. or stories with new perspectives.

Oh and those stories must satisfy a digital audience whose interests and attention span may differ from what they want from the legacy product. 

The challenges of our traditional media friends are not so different from what a B2B, B2C or nonprofit brand encounters. Brands must also provide the content or stories that are relevant to their audiences/community. In the digitall/social media world the prize is the same .. The Share. If we don't create for the share and interaction social media is just another distribution channel. And I ask you .. why bother?

  • What I learned from my media friends is that stories are everywhere. The secret is to look behind the ordinary.

In one morning pitch meeting (where reporters present ideas for stories they want to cover) that I attended a smart news director said something that shifted my thoughts about telling stores in social media. A reporter was pitching Matt Parcell, WFTV. Matt listened as she presented a series of different angles of a story. No. Nope. That's not it.

  • Finally he nodded and said, "That's it. Now I care." 

The digital/social media world levels the playing field and we find ourselves completing with both brands and media for the golden moments of customer attention. Sometimes those are the same stories.

Social media has been around long enough to know that the stories you post can't be self serving. We've learned to find content that adds value for our audience/customers/community. However, value-add stories have become the price of doing business. 

What content gets the most shares and engagement? Stories that go a step beyond value-add to "Now I Care." Think about it. 

7 Tips To Create Now I Care Stories

1. Know your digital audience's profile .. it may be different then what you think opening doors to a new segment

2. Understand how to use each digital medium to its advantage -- what works on Twitter may not be the same for Facebook. Creating original video is a world unto itself. 

3. Begin your content creation with the question -- "Will my customer care?"

4. Track and analyze the social shares and interactions -- Identify a few tools that track social media analytics. Social Media Today Post by Pam Dyer offers 50 tools!

5. Review what your competiton is doing -- Look at the posts that receive the most shares and interaction

6. Test new ideas -- social media/digital brand content/stories are still a new frontier 

7. Images and video -- include graphics and video we're living in a visual world

Toss of a pink boa to BBF Geoff Livingston and the XPotomac peeps, Shonali Burke, Patrick Ashamalla who kindly invited me to present at their fantastic event a few weeks agon. This post is based on my talk. 

Max is reading Sybil Stershic's book Share of Mind Share of Heart.

Toby XP _1 (2)

Seems appropriate to end this with what veteran news camera man and uber cool dude, Jim Long said at XPotomac - "Tell me a story .. make me feel something." B2B marketers - no excuses you can do it too!

Broadcast and Print Media Adoption of Digital  xPotomax 2014 / Video


Miracle on 34th street"We'll be known as the helpful store. The friendly store. The store with a heart. The store that places public service ahead of profit. The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before."

Nope, it's not a new innovative social network strategy (that would be a miracle of miracles!). In the classic film, Miracle On 34th Street, Mr. Macy took chance on a different way to conduct business.

Customers would not be coerced into buying what they did not want; however, the real courage was if another store had a better or less expensive product Macy's would refer customers there. 

Fast forward 66 years. It is now 2013, and as we close out this year, we face similar challenges of how to provide value for our customers. Technology can be the gift that opens the new digital door to an exciting way to build relationships with customers .. if we can be as couragous as Mr. Macy.

Pull off the pretty red bow and you'll find social networks with funny names like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. It's a world where to succeed we have to go beyond a one-off sale to opportunities where three entities: company, employee and customer create the brand experience together. That takes courage. 

The miracle of social media is its impact reaches beyond just one customer. Digital relationships with the people who are the heart of your brand, both customers and employees, can set off a unique chain reactions.

My favorite act of couragous miracle making this season is from the Canadian airline Westjet that surprised passengers with presents that they wanted (not swag from the airline). Video is well done and worth a watch.  

  • Continuous listening -> learning -> understanding -> results in trust ->  leads to loyalty -> leads to the cash register bells ringing. And every time a cash register bell rings a marketer gets a bonus or gets to keep her job (!) .. oops wrong film.

Corner grocery store digital relationships that are build not only with you and your customers, but among your customers and your employees could never have been imagined when Kris Kringle entered Macy's Santa Land in 1947. However, even as we approach 2014, for many organizations open conversations still seem like a Miracle on (insert organization name here) or like the ghost of Xmas future (oops wrong movie again.)

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible... consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

As we begin 2014, technology developments spin even faster taking digital business into areas that were impossible in '47 or '57 or even '2013.

Imagine a digital destination where you can include your review of the product, service or customer care that influences your or your friends' buying decisions.

Imagine a digital destination where you can talk to a brand employee who doesn't respond with a scripted answer.

Imagine a digital destination that allows for product and service customization.

Imagine a digital destination where you can start a conversation with a real person about what matters to you regarding a product or service.

Imagine a digital destination where you can actually help change the direction of a brand before it's even launched.

Imagine multiple digital devices from mobile to tablet and computer to wearable. How will you create unique content for all that is relevant? How will you respond on mulitple channels?

Imagine a digital destination where you can chat with people about their experiences and learn from each other .. in real time during your shopping experience. The result is smarter purchases.

Imagine an authenitc conversation, in real time, with your favorite actor, politician, author or reporter who responds to your comments not with platitudes but with thoughtfulness and courage. 

Imagine an authentic conversation with your senior managmenet or an admired corporate executive where ideas are transparently exchanged. 

Imagine an organization that works in partnership with its customers and employees to create a brand experience that is relevant, innovative and imaginative across multiple devices.

Imagine an organization that places its customers in the center of all decisions. 

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

What a funny world we live in. It's interesting to compare a 1940's film, where finding solutions to customers' problems was perceived as unique, to 2013 where finding solutions to customers' problems is considered ingenious. 

The techniques may have changed. New buzz words may be added to the mix. Bells and whistles may be a little louder. However, after all is said and done, the premise remains the same:



-Add value

-Do what it takes to go the extra mile to delight your customer

I believe that as we learn how to use social media it will change how we conduct business .. leading to  creating an environment where people truly matter. And that my friends, is as courageous and innovative as Mr. Macy's Miracle on 34th Street.

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

Max_dec_07_1And with that Max and I wish you a very merry holiday!

A classic Diva Marketing Holiday Post. 


StarsThis is the 5th year of Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series. 

During December we invite nonprofits into Diva to tell their stories in their own very special way. It's our hope that you might find a new NPO that touches your heart. Heart holiday  

In between shopping, wrapping and checking your list twice, we invite you to take a breath and enjoy a few from the heart stories

At the center of this season's inspiration for joy, is of course, the children. It's our pleasure the first story is from an organization, ISDD, whose mission is to improvie the the lives/health of children living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.

ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability) focuses on practical projects that serve to improve the lives of children who are vulnerable to adverse health and developmental disabilities as a result of living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.

Leslie Rubin _ ISSPOur story teller is founder Leslie Rubin.

Doctor Rubin is a developmental pediatrician who is originally from South Africa where he learned about how health disparities in children were related to social injustice and has found the opportunity to make a difference for children in Atlanta and around the world.

The ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability) Story

I have been working with children with developmental disabilities for many years and I have stared a number of programs over the years. The one that stands out for me is the Cerebral Palsy clinic that I started with colleagues at the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in Downtown Atlanta in 1998.

In 2002, with some funds from a family foundation, we did a survey of the 261 children we had seen in the clinic. As we expected they had a number of physical, medical and surgical complications but what struck us was the social context. We found that many of the children had been born prematurely to mothers who had smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol or taken drugs during pregnancy and that about half of the children were living with a single mother, about 30-40% with grandparents or in foster care, only a small percentage were living in 2 parent households.

This finding completely changed my view of children with developmental disabilities. I realized that developmental disabilities could be the result of social economic, educational, psychological and environmental factors and that the disabilities further aggravated the situation. Thus, I realized that these children then became caught up in what I termed the cycle of disadvantage and disability.

I then determined that I wanted to see what difference I could make in breaking that cycle and helping children lead more fulfilling and successful lives to become functioning and contributing members of society. Shortly thereafter, with the help of some friends, we formed the Institute for the Study of Disadvantage and Disability.

Our very first program was, in fact, called Break the Cycle of Disadvantage and Disability, which invited students from different disciplines in different universities to develop projects to Break the Cycle.

Break the cycle students and faciltiy

Break the Cycle Students and Faculty

Our second project was to provide support for the grandparents who were caring for their grandchildren with disabilities – Project GRANDD. 

Grandd Grandparents monthly meeting

Project GRANDD Grandparents Monthly Meeting 

The 3rd program was developed to provide health care for children whose mothers had problems with substance abuse and had been homeless – Healthcare Without Walls – a Medical Home for Homeless Children.

Now, in December 2013, we have had more than 80 students from around the country through our Break the Cycle Program along with 5 international journal supplements and a series of 4 books; we have served more than 100 grandparents with more than 200 grandchildren between then in our Project GRANDD and about 150 mothers with their children through our Healthcare without Walls – a Medical Home for Homeless Children.

Project Grandd Family Zoo OutingProject GRANDD Family Zoo Outing

We have recently changed our name to Innovative Solutions for Disadvantaged and Disability to better reflect what we do, and we look forward to continuing to develop programs that will help our society’s most vulnerable children have the opportunity to become successful and lead health fulfilling lives. 

More From ISDD

Isdd logo

Facebook  ISSD Website


Wayne hurlbertMy mind is still a jumble of thoughts. My heart wounded and broken. I've written this post a dozen times in my head but nothing seemed quite right.

So, I decided to go in a direction that he would have liked. To tell the story in a way that will help others understand what matters in this world we call social media. 

Last week when I was walking Max I popped into email and a message from Marianne Richmond almost caused me to drop my iphone (again!). The social web was a buzz with the passing of a dear and much admired gentle soul -- Wayne Hurlbert. Who was Wayne Hurlbert?

In my world ... Wayne and his mom were Max's orignial social fans. Wayne was one of my first BBFs (best blogging friend). I called Wayne (along with Paul Chaney) a true gentleman of the social web. 

Questions -- Can you call a person you never shared a meal, had coffee with or met face-to-face a "friend?" Perhaps there were phone calls, Skypes and emails. However, can you build a "real" relationship when a significant part of your exchanges are on the social web in blog comments, tweets, Facebook posts?

Many folks will remember Wayne for his innovative music tweets and and art posts.  Wayne Hurlbert_ Music Tweet

For me, Wayne and I shared another passion. We believed that blogs, and then social networks, could impact the way business could be conducted with honesty, openness, and transparency.

  • Did you notice those are the words (honesty, openness, transparency) used when describing the blogoshere? - Wayne Hurlbert

One of Wayne's core business beliefs was the importance of business ethics. Several times he graciously shared his views with me to include in Diva Marketing.

I had the honor of being Wayne's first guest on his acclaimed BlogTalkRadio show, Blog Business Success. It was Wayne who encouraged me to launch a BlogTalkRadio podcast. Wayne, along with Jeneane Sessum, were my first guests on Diva Talks with the show The Ethics of Social Media

  • Every action that you take and everything you do should be made with fair treatment helping others in mind. - Wayne Hurlbert

Wayne also kindly contributed his thoughts about ethics to Social Media GPS an eBook I wrote based on 40 Twitter interviews. In Chapter Four, Social Ethics, Wayne and Mack Collier answered this question: Ethics in business is the hot news topic. In SM we struggle with what is black, white and gray. Why is that? 

  • SM is about trust&trust must be earned. Once lost trust is hard to recover. In SM there is no second chance to recover it. - Wayne Hurlbert
  • Using tricks & tools to get more SM followes may add numbers but without engagment&trust, raw numbers mean nothing - Wayne Hurlbert

Ironically, the last question I asked Wayne on our BlogTalkRadio show was -- What do you want people to say about you after you write your last post or your last tweet? 

  • That I helped people as I set out to do when I orignally started my post. - Wayne Hurlbert

His response underscores what his friends know to be true. Thank you Wayne for the help you selfishly gave keeping true to your philosophy of putting others first.

And I suppose that brings us full circle to the question can you create "real" relationships in social media? The relationship I shared with Wayne touched my  heart and added value to my life. It doesn't get much more real than that girlfriend.

Note: 10/24 8p Eastern BlogTalkRadio will host a tribute to Wayne.