12/31/2012

StarsTraditionally, December has been Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series.

It's a time when people who work in smaller nonprofts are welcome to tell their stories. It's a way of giving back through shining a light on lesser known organizations through the voices of the those who are passionate about their cause.

It's a hope that perhaps before the year ends you'll reach into the your heart for one last 2012 donation. Or as 2013 begins find a new organization to support.

This year life got in the way of life. As The Fates would have it, just as I was feeling sad that I didn't have a nonprofit to share with you, once again social media came to the rescue. This time it was a LinkedIn connect request from a young women .. Simon Bernstein.

Skipping around her profile and then her web presence I knew the story of VolunTEEN Nation would be the perfect way to close the year. I am humbled and honored to introduce you to Simon and her story.

The VolunTEEN Nation Story

Volunteening_Simone Bernstein_1 diva marketingThe story is told by Simone Bernstein who is a junior at St. Bonaventure University. After three years of success with her local organization, Simone and her brother launched VolunTEEN Nation in March 2012.

She has spoken at numerous conferences throughout the nation, has a column at the Huffington Post, was honored in 2010 as a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, and was recently listed on the 2012 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurship list.

An Inspiration to Volunteer

Engaging youth in volunteer service heals divisions within communities. As an avid volunteer in both my hometown and college community, with a passion for engaging youth in volunteer service, I took the initiative to launch a national website for youth to easily find and connect with volunteer opportunities and resources at volunTEENnation.org. Utilizing social media tools to promote the website over 8,500 youth have found volunteer opportunities through the website, organized volunteer events, and our annual volunteer fairs.

My initial spark to volunteer in my community was ignited when my dad was deployed in the military. My siblings and I were overwhelmed with the support our family received and the outpouring of volunteers: bringing meals, helping my mom with childcare and daily errands.I wanted to volunteer, too.

I was fortunate through word-of-mouth to find youth volunteer opportunities. During high school, I took the initiative to create a regional website stlouisvolunteen.com out of my own frustration and difficulty in finding volunteer opportunities for youth on-line. Due to safety, security and liability issues and concerns, many non-profit organizations and agencies limit the minimum age for an on-site volunteer to 18. I wanted to make it easier for area youth to find volunteer opportunities. Volunteering_2diva marketing

Interest in our regional website from schools, non-profit agencies and students around the nation drove my brother and I to create a national tool or resource for youth interested in volunteering.

Note It's A Family Affair! Photo of Simon's sister Sophie, brother/co-founder Jake, their Dad who is a captain in the Navy and Simon.

Meeting with local and national government officials, I advocate for service learning in our nation’s schools. The challenge facing our nation’s school’s is the crisis of high school dropouts due to lack of support both in the school and home. Engaging youth in service learning provides a valuable link back to the community with a strong connection to the classroom.

I organized and created the first St Louis Youth and Family Volunteer Fair. The Fair is now an annual event hosted at The St Louis Magic House, Children’s Museum with over 35 family-friendly non-profit organizations recruiting student and families to volunteer.

Wanting to engage more youth, I organize flexible volunteer projects for youth. I coordinated a September 11, 2011 tenth anniversary volunteer service project to engage youth and families “Serve to Remember” park clean-up. Combining sports and youth, my brother and I recruited 25 youth volunteers to instruct tennis lessons at “Aces for All” a weekly tennis clinic for youth on the autism spectrum “Soccer for All” and “B-ball for All”. I also helped start Making Music Matters, a successful organization where teens volunteer to teach music lessons in the inner-city schools.

My goal is to inspire others to find ways for all youth improve their communities.

  • It is well within the reach of any student to get involved and make a difference. 

Ideally, I would like to create an international volunteer site and combine my passion for volunteer service and my medical training to advocate for quality maternal.

More From VolunTeenNation

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12/25/2012


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 social commerce strategy. It was an innovative sales program

launched in 1947 by Macy's Department Store. 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 them there. 

Fast forward 65 years into the future and we struggle with similar issues of how to provide value for our customers. Technology has given us an amazing, let's call it a gift, that provides a new way to for us to build relationships and nurture with our customers.

Pull off the pretty red  bow and you'll find digital platforms with funny names like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn 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 custome can create the brand experience .. together. That takes courage too. 

Unlike the impact of Macy's initiative, social media impact reaches beyond just one customer. For the first time, the entire enterprise has skin in the game. The digital relationships that the people who are the heart of your brand can set off a unique chain reaction.

  • 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 2013, 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 2013, technology developments spin even faster taking digital business into areas that were impossible in '47 or '57 or even '2012.

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.

IImagine 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 product or service before it's even launched.

Imagine multiple digital devices, moblie, tablet, computer, television not "or" but "and" ... and one day even your glasses! 

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. 

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 divices. 

Imagine an organization that cares not simply about for for its customers. 

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 2012 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:

-Listen

-Understand

-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 couragous 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.

Sidebar: A Classic Diva Marketing post based on an article written for American Marketing Association Marketing News.

Max and I wish you a year of little miracles, joy and all things wonderful and bright.

Maxie Santa 2012

12/24/2012

Dear Diva Marketing (Blog) and Community,

It's amazing how days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months. Life gets in the way of life and before you know it the best of intentions slip through the proverbial cracks.

In this case the best of intentions, are of course, to write and share learnings about marketing and social media with you. And so, I must apologize for the long lag in posting. Here's why ..    Toby cox tv radio biz card

I've often said that social media gives back more than it takes and this part of my story is another testimonial to that belief.

After 15-years of solopreneurship I was offered an exciting opportunity to join an organization that is focused on digital innovation. No, I'm not an on-air talent (at least not at the moment!). The work is to support almost 100 media properties and the enterprise at-large to more effectively incorporate the social web and leverage the social graphic. 

Not only exciting but the people are smart; and I'm able to maintain Diva Marketing, as well as, my other social properties LInkedIn Pinterest Twitter Google+ YouTube Diva Talks - BlogTalkRadio

Of course, all opinions are 100% mine and do not necessarily reflect that of anyone else, including my employer or even Max. I appreciate your understanding and ask for your patience as I adjust to the rythm of a full time corporate gig and ensuring that there is great content on Diva Marketing.

09/18/2012

Hull Beach_water trailOne of my all time favorite things to do is walk-the-beach in the morning. (I also like to walk-the-city.)

A few weeks ago I was visiting my family in Massachusetts. Lucky me that my cousins have a beautiful home a block from the ocean. 

The beach is a wonderland of tactical sensations that helps me quiet my mind: sound of the ocean surf, the touch of the waves and sand on your toes, the smell of salt water and the gentle comraderie as people nod their hellos and exchange smiles as if to say .. "Welcome to our world."

As artist Maria Kalman says, "Wonderful things happen when the brain is empty."

As much as the walk can be a 'rebooting' experience, eventually you do have come off the beach. That's where it can get tricky. Walking a few feet away from the path that set you on your adventure you suddenly realize there are few signs to mark your return destination spot.

You have to make an effort to remember from whence you came.

Walking along I wondered .. how does a brand approach social media without getting lost in the wonderland of new sensations and shiny toys? To put it in marketing terms, do we even remember to take brand values into consideration? Or do we skip onto the social platforms and never look back from whence we came and one day realize that we are totally lost and that our customers are totally confused?

Seemed to me that there were two critical issues to consider content and voice. Here are a couple of examples including B2B, B2C, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogs.

1. Content -- While social media content can and should relfect the 'human side' of your authors, to be part of a business initiative it must align with your brand.

IBM's Pinterest bio positions the company as "forward thinking." Boards about a computer (IBM Watson) that played Jeopardy, building a smarter planet, smarter cities and more support that brand value. IBM gets a check for consistency. IBM Values Statement 

IBM _Pinterest

 

 

 

Just asking .. do you want to talk trvia with your bank? Suntrust gets a question mark.

Suntrust Twitter Trivia

 

 

2. Voice - Employees writing for your brand should be encouraged to develop their unique 'voices' while maintaing brand values and promise. Keep in mind "voices" may not always be text .. video, podcasts, images count too.

One of my favorite CEO blogs is Marriott On The Move written by Bill Marriott. His posts, seem like personal letters direct to me from a charming man who I'd love to sit across the table from and share a meal or a glass of wine. Mr. Marriott wraps his post around personal experiences that always lend insight into the company or himself.

I must admit, if I were to learn that a PR manager or an out-sourced agency was ghost writing for Bill Marriott I'd be more than sad. I'd feel a break in trust between my friend Mr. Marriott and myself. Trust is a hard won prize not to be taken lightly.

Marriott on the move_bill marriott

 

 

 

 

Not all content or voice tonality will be right for every brand. While a funny cat post on Facebook may result in a bunch of likes and shares is that what you really want your customers and prospects to keep top of mind about your brand? Humor can be a great content direction but can you create it to be both relevant and fun? Are a few easy, off-brand wins worth a wobble to your brand image? 

No one said ths stuff would be easy.

You have to make an effort to remember from whence you came. 

Toss of a pink boa to Fisher for the inspiration.  

09/11/2012

Book mosaic9-11 .. eleven years ago our world came tumbling to a halt.

As people, from every country, watched in horror then, eleven years later we tell the stories again so our children and their children and their children will not forget.

Within the story of giant flames we also take time to remember that this was not One Big story. 9-11 is a mosaic of a multitude of smaller stories all important and impactful. 

Each story still burning brightly in some person's heart.

09/07/2012

Sybil Stershic_3It is with great pleasure that I have the honor of introducing our Diva Marketing community to a dear friend, Sybil Stershic.

Sybil's second book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart, explores the world of nonprofit marketing. The book takes a different slant from other books about NPOs; it focuses on the impact that employees and volunteers have on brand perception.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Sybil, Right from the start of Share of Mind, Share of Heart it’s clear that this is a book that you believe in and that comes from your heart. The Forward sets the direction that nonprofit marketing holds an additional element that may not be as prominent in other industries.  It’s often based on a personal and passionate commitment.

How do you walk the fine line of believing passionately in a cause while maintaining business objectivity?

Sybil Stershic: It can be a challenge, Toby. Passion for the mission is what attracts nonprofit employees, volunteers, donors and other supporters. It helps connect them and keep them engaged with the work of a nonprofit.

But passion for the mission without a bigger picture perspective can be dangerous – it can lead to burnout and a condition known as “mission creep” that dilutes organizational focus. Effective oversight by nonprofit leadership, via the executive staff and board of directors, is needed to maintain a dual focus on both the mission and the organization’s viability. While a strong mission helps drive financial support – i.e., “no mission, no money” – these leaders understand the reverse is also true – “no money, no mission.”

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Your book is full of practical, creative ideas that at first glance seem so simple; however, we know too well that implementation can be a challenge. 

Would you talk to us about what you refer to as “After The First Day” (P 59)? After the initial orientation and excitement about the organization has waned how can we help remind staff and volunteers of the mission and goals and keep them on track?

Sybil Stershic: New staff and volunteers get a lot of attention when they first join the organization. Even in smaller organizations that don’t have formal orientation or on-boarding programs, there’s still an effort to “imprint” the new person with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.

After a while the newbies blend in with other staff and volunteers. If the collective group is not kept informed on an ongoing basis as to what’s happening in the nonprofit and how it’s responding, the people within the organization tend to hunker down and lose sight of the big picture. Job descriptions become outdated; members of the board turn over, yet the staff doesn’t know who the new board members; the strategic plan is updated, but not shared with staff and volunteers; etc.

  • In the absence of ongoing communication, people start to disengage.

What’s amazing, Toby, is that the remedy to this isn’t all that difficult. It involves being intentional in proactively communicating with staff and volunteers. For example, the Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (Whom you introduced me to, thank you! My pleasure Sybil. Bloggy disclaimer: JF&CS is a client.), holds an all-staff meeting the day after each  monthly board of directors’ meeting to share board meeting results along with updates on grants and special events. JF&CS also recognizes and shares volunteer accomplishments in its monthly e-newsletter.

Another great example is the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute that starts staff meetings and board meetings by reading aloud its mission statement to keep everyone focused. These two examples illustrate that keeping the people who help fulfill the mission “in the know” doesn’t require a Herculean effort –  it’s basic communication and engagement via staff meetings, volunteer meetings, internal newsletters, training, staff/volunteer recognition, and special events, as needed.

Diva Marketing/Toby: “So the degree to which you capture and keep consumers’ share of mind and heart is directly influenced by their interactions with your staff and volunteers.” (P 33) I really like this statement ... a lot.

Since Diva Marketing is focused on social media I’m wondering how much of a nonprofit’s online engagement in social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. influences share of mind and heart?

Sybil Stershic: The degree to which a nonprofit uses social networks depends on the organization – its culture, mission, key audiences, etc. That said, social media is a wonderful way to grow share of mind and heart with mission-inspired content.

Sharing stories and pictures of how people benefit from the mission (while not breaching confidentiality) Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart … volunteers or donors sharing their experiences supporting the mission (also reinforcing the ways people can get involved) …  staff members offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of a special event … these stories help bring the mission to life. A nonprofit can also write blog posts and share links to content that educates people about its mission and programs.

While social media advocates say “content is king,” I’d go even further to say “careful content is critical” in that nonprofits need to consider sensitivity in how they present any and all messages that reflect on their mission and brand. A negative impression can easily go viral.

Toby/Diva Marketing:
  What are your thoughts about involving staff, who are not in the marketing department, and also volunteers in participating in social media/networks? Let’s take these two ways.  The first is as one of the “voices” of the nonprofit.

Sybil Stershic: I know this seems like an oxymoron, but any “voice” speaking on behalf of a nonprofit needs to be authentic to be credible, yet carefully managed to ensure the wrong message isn’t put out there. That’s why social media guidelines and training need to be part of both Human Resources and Marketing policies.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The second ... how would you encourage nonprofits to interact with consumers in the digital world?

Sybil Stershic:  The answer to this depends on the organization and its target audiences’ access to and use of social media.

For example, I know a health-related nonprofit that combines both high-tech and low-tech approaches in building share of mind and heart. To broaden its outreach efforts, the marketing director produced a brief educational video as part of an “ambassador portfolio” that also contains a list of frequently asked questions and updated brochures for use by board and staff members. Employee reps show the video when meeting with outside groups or hosting on-site facility tours.

Marketing is also in the process of updating the website to be more engaging. Yet because many of its older board members do not use email, this nonprofit communicates with its board primarily by phone and regular mail.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’ve worked with many different types of nonprofits, and you’ve also worked with for profits. For me your book provides a roadmap that can be easily modified and used by both.  One challenge that both nonprofit and for profits face is opening lines of communication across the organization .. or “de-siloing.” What suggestions can you give us to help that critical process?

Sybil Stershic: The best way to start is to ask employees for their ideas on what works in bridging these silos. They can also help identify which departments or divisions are already doing with well with inter-organizational communications; these areas can serve as role models.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Sybil, as is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, you have the last word. What would you tell our community, especially those marketers working in the nonprofit world?

Sybil Stershic: Recognize your marketing team includes everyone who works in your organization, regardless of the department or function they are assigned. So you need to effectively engage the minds and hearts of the people behind the mission (your employees and volunteers who impact your brand) as well as the people in front of the mission (your consumers and the public).

Thanks, Toby!

Continue the conversation with Sybil!

Quality Services Marketing - website and blog | Share of Mind Share of Heart |Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Emplpyee Customer Care |Twitter @Sybilqsm

08/15/2012

The secret to success in any social network, or blog, marketing strategy is elevating the content direction to beyond just messaging about the brand product. The challenge is to ensure that this value-added, or what I call "selfless content", supports the brand promise and values. 

Ashley Howland_baylorAshely Howland, Bayler Healthcare System's social media manager,talks about how she and her team are executing a successful Pinterest strategy.  Part One of Diva Marketing's interview with Ashley Howland

Diva Marketing/Toby: In any new social media endeavor, they will not come unless you tell them. How is Baylor creating awareness for its Pinterest boards?

Ashley Howland: We recently created a tab on our Facebook page where fans can peruse our Pinterest page without ever leaving Facebook. We have also added the Pinterest button to our website, business cards and will soon be adding it to our email signatures.  Baylor _Facebook

Occasionally, we feature a Pinterest recipe of the week on Facebook and Twitter or showcase holiday ideas from our “Healthy Holidays” board (that’s my favorite board by the way!). We are also planning to experiment with Pinterest contests in the near future which will cross over to our other communities.

  • I’m a big believer that content doesn’t have to stay on the site it originated in. It’s natural to compartmentalize and segment your communities, but you don’t have to! If you have an awesome pin or a compelling blog post, share it across the board. 

Don’t keep a pin on Pinterest, a post on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter. Share it amongst your other communities. Cross over is key. At the end of the day, you are managing one big community of people.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Pinterest provides interesting consumer insights.  Is Baylor doing any analysis beyond a quantitative count of pin, comments, repins, etc?  If you what have you learned about your community?

Ashley Howland: Measurement is huge when it comes to Pinterest! You can count repins and likes all day, but it won’t give you an accurate picture of what’s really going on. Measuring click-throughs is critical.

We use Pinerly.com to measure our Pinterest activity. It’s been a great tool not just for measurement, but as a workaround for pinning static content on our website that may not have a compelling image to accompany it (as I mentioned above).

We have learned that just because something isn’t repinned, doesn’t mean people won’t like it. We have also learned that like almost everything else in life, presentation is everything. You have one image to communicate your message and grab their attention so make it count! In this case, people do judge a “pin” by its cover.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Let’s talk about docs. Are you seeing any physicians successfully using Pinterest?

 Ashley Howland: Not yet! But that doesn’t mean we won’t. Physicians have been very slow to adopt social media. Some are very sceptical of it and fear that it will put them at risk for violating patient privacy laws.

  • As I mentioned above, all social media sites have their risks, but training and education is key.

Have you seen Dr. Oz’s Pinterest page? It’s a natural fit for him and he’s doing a great job!

Q:  To wrap this, what lessons learned can you share with us about healthcare in the world of Pinterest? Baylor _pinterest _2

1. Don’t be afraid to stick your toe in the waters of Pinterest…it’s exhilarating!  J

2. Good content is all around you. It’s a matter of making it “pinable.”

3. Think visually.

4. Don’t be a self-serving brand. Make sure you’re pinning things that are useful or interesting to other people.

5. Pin frequently, but not excessively. I’ve heard pinning up to 20 times a day (both original content and repins) in the evenings and on weekends is the key. However, there is no scheduling app for Pinterest just yet so that may be difficult. (Pinerly promises that it’s coming soon!)

Join Ashley and the Bayler Healthcare Sysem social media team ..

Pinterest Facebook Twitter-@baylor health YouTubeGoogle+ Ashley on Twitter

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

 

08/09/2012

Scales _ freedigitalphotos.netThis week I was called to jury duty. The Honorable John Doran, Jr. presided.

A jury selection is much like making a film or a commercial. There are a lot of stops, starts and waiting around while lawyers and judge side-bar conversations that you can't hear but would so love to be invited to the party. Voir dire (questioning the jury panel to establish suitability) of the 50 member panel took over a day.

Much like the beginning of a focus group, to help respondents develop a comfort level for future complex questions, the defense attorney asked what I thought was an interesting multiple choice question.  How did we feel about our day in court?

1. Excited to be part of the process

2. Interested in the process

3. Anxious or apprehensive 

4. Frustrated or perhaps a little resentful

An ah ha moment. Each of these feelings could be held by people new to social media or even challenged with taking social media initiatives to the next level. The big realization .. we rarely stop to acknowledge and address these concerns before we plow into creating strategies and executing tactics. The results can be too many side-bar conversations that add time and dollars to our process.  

Several times Judge Duran offered explanations about the proceedings that brought context helping us not only understand the legal whys of the Court but the humanity of the judicial system. I suspect this was also his way of easing the boredom of the wait .. his and ours.

As a group, we were engaged with Judge Duran but on a passive basis. That is no one commented or asked a question. Our thoughts were our own not encouraged to be shared. One might say we were a captive audience and the good judge held our attention because he provided a distraction from the tediousness of the day.

But .. he spoke to us about what he obviously cared about and showed us his humanity. How can you help but engage with that type of person?

Later that night I conducted a directed discussion with a group of Millennials about their Facebook habits. Although Facebook of course encourages interaction through likes and comments, the feedback was that a like did not necessarily equate to brand engagement. And most certainly a random like could not be taken at face value to gauge brand loyalty. 

As Facebook continues to change its mysterious black-box algorithms those Likes, Comments and Shares, especially on brand pages, become more elusive. Brands are turning to pay-for-play by boosting posts and dropping ads. However, take a look at your Facebook Insights. Your reach maybe greater what percentage did your engagement increase? It might be interesting to begin to track the people who do Like, Comment and Share most frequently. Those just might be your raving fans.

We discussed brands that drop multiple daily status updates that are little more than thinly veiled ad disguises.  Where is the humanity in that?

An ah ha momement. As a marketer living in the age of social networks I think about what engagement means in terms of bringing a brand to life.

How do we know a like from a passing post in a customer's stream was clicked while multiple tasking or to ease the bordom of the day? We don't. Yet we make multi-million dollar decisions based on what equates to a teeny percentage of our base of page likes. 

Just asking ..

1. Are we tipping the social media scales of engagement with wishful thinking that likes = engagment = expanded awareness = monetization?

2. Are we taking the easy way out, of a complex situation, to justify our activity in social networks?

3. Are turning one of the most exciting and innovative communication stategies of 21st century marketing into another mundane messaging channel? 

4. Are we missing the opportunity to create authentic people-to-people engaged relationships? 

But .. he spoke to us about what he obviously cared about and showed us his humanity. How can you help but engage with that type of person? 

Interestingly, it's a lesson that the Food Network is also learining. People relate to people.

Perhaps some social media brand managers might take a lesson or two from His Honor. 

Graphic credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

08/01/2012

The relatively fast Pinterest adoption rate, of what we might call nontraditional to social media verticals, is amazing to me. From financial services, manufacturing to B-to-B, Pinterest seems to capture the imagination of marketers. 

Baylor logoIn particular is the healthcare sector where many hospitals and medical centers are embracing visual communications and doing interesting work on Pinterest.

I was very excited when Ashely Howland from Bayler Healthcare System agreed to tell us the back-story of Bayler's Pinterest strategy. Ashely graciously shares her insights and learnings. In fact, her interview was so rich and detailed that we decided to run it as a series. Please join me in welcoming Ashley to Diva Marketing!

About Ashley Howland is the social media manager for Baylor Health Care System. She has been with Baylor for 8 years where she got her start in Media Relations. She took on Baylor’s social media efforts in 2009 “on the side” and it quickly turned into a full time job. Ashley Howland_Baylor Med Ct

Diva Marketing/Toby: I applaud Baylor’s step into Pinterest. Your boards were one of the first that I pinned to my Brand Board. Perhaps you can shed some light on something I’ve been thinking about since I first saw your boards.

Healthcare, as an industry, was slow to participate in the social web. However, it seems the opposite is true for Pinterest. On a high level why do you suppose that’s the case?

Ashley Howland: Thanks for adding us to your brand boards! You’re right; health care was very slow to adopt social media. One of the biggest reasons for that are the regulations in our industry, i.e. patient privacy laws. 

We have now embraced it and are using it to inform and educate the public with credible health information. We’re also using it to learn from them as well…what kind of experience they’re having in our hospitals, what type of information they’re looking for and most importantly, we’re using it to help our patients connect with each other for support.

I think one of the biggest reasons Pinterest is so popular in the health care industry is because of its demographic.  Nearly 70% of Pinterest users are women, which is a target audience for the health care industry. Women usually make the majority of health care decisions in a household and are usually the ones searching the web for health information.

Pinterest is also not as personal as some of the other social platforms. While Facebook and Twitter are hugely popular, not everyone is comfortable interacting in those spaces. Millions of people have accounts, but they may not be very active on those sites.

I think Pinterest fills that void. It appeals to the people who may not want to share the personal details of their life, but have no problem sharing about their interests and hobbies.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s explore Baylor’s presence on Pinterest. What was it that first caught your interest about Pinterest to take the “pin leap?” When did you pin your first pin?

Ashley Howland:  We pinned our first pin in January of this year. I was using Pinterest personally and became addicted to it very early on…like everyone else!

We decided to take the “pin leap” because it seemed like such a natural fit for us.  As a hospital system, we have historically been concerned with treating illness, but now more than ever, we are responsible for treating wellness.

Social networking sites are the perfect place to do that. With sites like Pinterest, we can not only inspire people to live healthier lives, but we can show them how.

  • We are taking the wealth of knowledge and expertise we’re privy to inside the walls of our hospitals and converting it to an easy-to-comprehend visual format.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Currently Baylor has 21 boards with a wide range of topics from healthcare games and tips, food. holidays, fitness and even animal therapy and boards about Texas. How did you determine the topics? Any surprises on the reactions from your community?

Ashley Howland: At first, we determined the topics of the boards based on the content we already had available. We also started paying attention to what people were pinning on our personal Pinterest spaces. In addition to home décor, fashion and arts and crafts, I noticed that my friends were pinning lots of recipes.

Baylor may not be able to help you put together a stylish outfit or show you how to Mod Podge a picture frame, but we’ve got recipes covered! We also noticed that people were pinning a lot of fitness pins and just everyday tips and tricks. We have an abundance of printable health checklists and how-to guides on our website so we pinned them and people loved them!

The biggest surprise was the reaction we got from our Interactive Health Quizzes board. We have many health quizzes and risk assessments buried on our website so we dug them out and started pinning them.

I was surprised that some of them didn’t get any re-pins or likes, but once we started measuring the click-throughs, we realized they were wildly successful! Some people may be shy or embarrassed about pinning a “Are you at risk for depression?” quiz or a risk assessment for cancer, but they will definitely click-through to take the quiz.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What types of content are you pinning?Ashley Howland: What’s great about Pinterest is there is an audience for just about anything! Sometimes brands are frustrated by it because they think they have nothing to pin. On the contrary.

  • Content is everywhere you look! You just have to think visually and figure out a way to re-purpose it for this medium.

Got a blog post with a list of tips? An online interview with a subject matter expert? Find a graphic for it and pin it! If you have graphic design skills or have access to a graphic designer, that’s the key. And don’t forget about videos! Videos are becoming very popular on Pinterest. In short, almost anything can be turned into a pin.

That being said, we pin just about anything we can find at Baylor. Instead of being an afterthought, Pinterest has become a driving force for our social media efforts. Every piece of content we create, we try to think of how we can turn it into a pin. Instead of communicating with words, we’re all learning to communicate visually.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Understanding that Pinterest is still in its infancy, what are your measures for success?

Ashley Howland: Although Pinterest is still in beta phase—which is pretty incredible considering the number of users—there are already third party websites available that can help you measure your success.

Right now, we are using Pinerly. Pinerly is amazing because it not only tracks your click-throughs on a pin, it allows you to upload content that may not have an image already attached to it. For example, say you have a great blog post or an article on your website titled “5 tips for working out at home,” but there is no compelling image on the page. If you are using Pinterest to pin this content, it won’t work. However, Pinerly allows you to upload an image of your choice while posting the link behind it.

Another measurement tool that I recently discovered is Curalate. I’m really anxious to try it out! 

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating. What were Baylor’s challenges and how did you overcome them?

Ashley Howland: You’re right; every social networking site has its risks. Unfortunately, Pinterest has been singled out lately and a lot of attention has been called to its Terms of Service. They have made a lot of changes to their language about copyright issues, but the truth is their Terms of Service are very similar to other social networking sites as well.

As far as copyright issues are concerned, we try very hard to pin as much original content as we can. We definitely repin the brands and people we follow, but we try to make sure we repin from credible sources and that the original source of the content is credited.  

One of our biggest challenges with Pinterest, and any social media outlet for that matter, is to make sure we are sharing or repinning content from credible sources. Many people will repin without clicking through right away.

As a brand, we click-through every image we want to repin to make sure it’s coming from a credible trusted source, that we’re not endorsing a product, and most importantly to make sure the pin is not linked to a spam site. Even our beloved Pinterest is not safe from spammers, unfortunately.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In social networks there are two paths we can take: passively providing content and actively engaging within others. At this point, most people seem to be sharing content/pins but there is not a lot of conversation happening.

How active is Balyor in terms of engagement e.g. commenting, repining, likes?

Ashley Howland: Engagement is a big priority for us, but to be honest, we haven’t really taken advantage of fully engaging with pinners…yet. On occasion, we’ll thank someone for repinning us, comment on other pins and give out likes, but engagement takes time and a lot of effort.

It’s a big and very important job. We have recently increased our staff to include two community managers and one of their primary goals is to spend time interacting with pinners. Baylor_Pinterst 8_1_12

Diva Marketing/Toby: One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate how much time you’re investing to Pinterest?

Ashley Howland: I believe you get out of these networks what you put into them. If your intent is to share content, that’s great, but then you’re only scratching the surface of social media and using it as another one-way communication channel.

It’s a two-way channel. In fact, it’s more than that…it’s a community of real people. I think brands are finally starting to realize that social media isn’t a side gig. It’s an integral part to any communications strategy. Most importantly, it’s not free which is a big misconception. Of course the tools are free, but the effort that goes into them isn’t.

I think you have to figure out what your priorities are and what your company’s goals are and then go from there. Not every business will greatly benefit from Pinterest. Evaluate your objectives and figure out where you should be spending your time.

Baylor is very supportive of our social media efforts and has given us additional full time employees to help manage our social media presence. I recently hired two community managers who are doing a great job of not only finding and creating relevant content, but talking to our communities and helping us reach beyond the day-to-day postings.

  • We could all stand to do more listening instead of talking in our social landscape!  

In addition, our Public Relations/Media Relations department has incorporated social media as a part of their jobs.Everyone in our Marketing/PR department; including many of our clinical employees such as physicians, nurses and dietitians; is encouraged to attend what I call the Social Media Campfire, a monthly discussion of the tools we’re using and how all of us can make them a part of our communications toolbox…no matter if you’re in the Social Media Department or not.

Continue the conversation with Ashley and the social media team from Bayler Healthcare System

Pinterest Facebook Twitter-@baylor health YouTube Google+ Ashley on Twitter

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Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

 

07/27/2012

Pinterest tipsPinterest continues to fascinate me by it's simplicity and ease of use.

However, if you peak behind the curtain it holds a similar sophistication to that of Twitter. Who would have thought we'd call a 140 text platform sophisticated communication?

Where this new visual social network will take us is the guess of crystal ball gazers and social media pundits. Neither of which am I.

I'm just a working gal who loves, not necessarily the technology, but the promise of what it can do to bring business back to the corner grocery story relationship. (C.B Whittemore's post) For me the two driving benefits of social media have always been:

  • 1. Build and nuture relationships
  • 2. Tell the story of the brand through the people who are its heart: employees and customers

If you get those right it's a marketing two step along the way to making the cash register ring. Oh by the way, don't drink so much of the Koolaid that you believe a sales is a direct result of Only a tweet or status update or even a pin. 

As part of client work and creating workshops on Pinterest I develope a running list of ideas. Some are strategic and others more tactical but I thought I'd pass them along to help you frame your adventure (and it should be!) in the visual world of Pinterest. 

Strategy

1. Determine how graphics as linked to content can align with your brand values brand promise

2. Determine how Pinterest will support your goals and business outcomes

3. Determine if your Pinterest page will support a specific segment or the brand at-large

4. Critical: determine your content direction that goes beyond your brands or company messaging

Board and Pin Creation

1. Include search engine optimize key words in bio, board and pin descriptors

2. Link images that you upload to an appropriate web/blog page. Amazing how many people forget to include a URL.

3. First rule of Pinterest Etiquette: never change the source link of images ‘borrowed’ from a website not your own

4. Build your Pinterest page as if it were a book: boards = chapters, pins = content body

5. Create a bio board that can be used as a “media page” for solopreneurs/small business owners Bio board _ toby

6. Create media/news board for larger businesses

7. Arrange boards in order of importance and change as needed the order as appropriate. For example, your Fourth of July board can be brought to the end until next year when you can move it to a more prominent position.

8. In creating your pin look at it through the lens of a great ad: strong visual, headline that grabs, copy that supports.

9. Board names should be creative but descriptive key words are a bonus.

10. Identify sites will you not pin (from)

Content

1. Although your pins should reflect your brand values/promise (Strategy #1) not all pins should be directly related to your products, services or company (Strategy #5). This is so important that I felt it belonged in Strataegy and Content.

2. Three pillars of Pinterest content direction: inspire, inform, imagine

3. Test live pinning for events/tradeshows. If you can't link pins to a site in real time (at the event) go back at a later time to add those important URLs. Example: Oscar De La Renta Bridal Show .. it's really cool .. go on click but come back please. To view the story read from the bottom up.

4. Create collaborative boards with clients and colleagues. Added bonus multiple pinners increase awareness of the board.

5. Review content that you’ve posted in other social networks. How can it be repurposed for Pinterest?

6. Review content that is not on digital properties e.g. white papers. How can they be included on your digital assets such as websites or blogs so that you can include them on Pinterest? 

7. Test “pin it” contests. Keep in mind they will not come unless you tell them. Build an awarenss strategy into the overall plan. Example: Elizabeth Arden's PinItToGiveIt Cause Marketing used social media (Facebook, Twitter, bloggers) and traditional media (PR/Events-BlogHer). #PinChat with Christine Bennett, Manager PR for Elizabeth Arden. 

8. Use Pinterest to support campaigns and programs runnng in other media

9. Pin to help your fans “create” not curate their boards

10. Take your community “behind the scenes” of your company e.g. a day in the life of …

11. Be mindful of copyrights. If in doubt reach out to the author, artist and ask for permission. Bonus you'll develop new relationships. 

12. Protect your images with watermarks that include your URL or at the very least your company name. Example: Bella Cupcake  Pinterest Bella Cupcakes

13. .Create a board to tell the story of your company/brand. Great examples from the State of Maryland Pitch Contest. Check out the Diva Marketing interview I conducted with Zoe Pagonis, Governor Martin O’Malley’s New Media Manager.

14. Highlight employees in creative and fun ways that go behind “business” accomplishments e.g. pets, shoes, sports interests, favorite quotes

Awareness

1. Cross post on social networks

2. Follow the people who follow you. Note: Following boards versus pages may be less overwhelming to your stream.

3. Comment on people's repin of your pins. It's nice to get an acknowledgment and never know where the relationship or conversations might lead. My comment on Irene Turner's board let to a new author for All The Single Girlfriends and a great new friend.

4. Build “pinner relations” programs

5. Add Pinterest links to support your media releases

6. Since Facebook does not allow for 'pinning' if you upload a graphic that might make for a great pin consider serving it on your blog/website or Flickr instead. 

7. Add Pinterest link/Icon to Home page of your website And on the footer.

Research and Consumer Insights

1. Consumer insights for product development

2. Consumer insights support customer persona development

3. Completive intelligence

4. Consumer insights to understand meaning of the “ordinary” of every day life. For example what does "family" mean? 

Bonus: Be Strategically Fun!

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series