Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Social Media is Just Like the Mafia

May 17, 2011

Obviously, with shows like Real Housewives of New Jersey and Mafia Wives, Italians and the mafia are kinda huge right now.  As a the granddaughter of someone that came over on the boat, I can totally appreciate this. Italians are a little different. We’re a little crazy and a whole lot of awesome. When I moved to Ohio, I actually exploited the fact that I am Italian and from New York. I had a lot of people fooled into thinking that I was somehow involved in the mafia. Yeah, I knew quite a few idiots.

Nowadays though, you’ve got to respect some of the values that the mafia stood for. Those tend to be just like the Italian values I grew up with and really will help you along in your social media presence:

1. Collect Favors: This is something I excel at. I’m a connector in social media, so I am always putting people in touch with those that can help them. If I know about a job, I pass it on. If I can help someone, I try to (although you can’t help everyone). A Don would probably say that I am collecting favors for a rainy day.  I don’t do this intentionally, but yeah, that is exactly what I am doing. You never know when you are going to need help, so be helpful in the meantime.

2. Make Sure It’s Actually Raining: If you redeem your favors at every small bump in the road, what are you going to do when it is a torrential downpour out there? You’re going to get wet and become washed up. Like a Don, be selective. Is this really the best use of someone’s time? Are they going to hate you for asking them to do this? Are you trying to get them to do your job for you? And are you trying to make this consultant do their job for free? Unless you’re in a severe emergency that the person you are asking can relate to, this is never okay.

3. Know Everything: To be an effective Don, you have to keep your ear to the ground. I have a freakish memory and can tell you something about all of my followers that I have interacted with. Not everyone can do that. I once heard about a guy that used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the girls he was talking to via online dating channels. While this seems cold, if you don’t have the memory, you absolutely have to do this kind of thing in business. Hell, you should probably do this regardless of your memory. Know the who, what and why of the people that you follow, and you have already gotten yourself a more faithful follower.

4. Have Respect: We all know that in the end that I’m a smart ass and I don’t like to show off what I know, so I get no respect. This is just one of those things that I struggle with on a daily basis. You cannot move ahead without respect. If you want to be a true leader of men or a Don, it helps if people talk about you in hushed tones. Okay, maybe not in hushed tones, but you get the point. You can be funny, but at the end of the day, you have to bring it and bring it hard.

5. Kill the Competition: If you’re not bringing it, competition is going to sprout up. The only way to kill it is to make sure you’ve got something that the other guy does. A truly great Don can kill off the competition without a single shot being fired. That is because they offer their followers protection. In the social media age, if you are offering the very best information in the very best way, you will never have to worry about the war.

6. Keep Your Trap Shut: Hey, look! Here’s another one I struggle with! In the mafia, loose lips get you killed. In social media, you can lose every bit of credibility you’ve ever had. This includes calling out those that unfollowed you, feeling the need to tell off someone where everyone can see it and publicly pointing out mistakes. If you’ve got a problem, take it offline or to a private channel. Making it public just sucks. Of course, those of us with Irish-Italian tempers have to work doubly hard at this one.

So in the end, it’s all about being a loyal, awesome person. If that’s really a hard thing for you, then maybe social media and the mafia aren’t your things. That’s okay. Nothing in this world is meant for everybody, and unlike the mafia, you can always get off this social media train.

How else do you think social media is like the mafia?

You deserve nothing

April 28, 2011

I have been coming up against an attitude that has just been pissing me off lately: “I wrote about you on such-and-such site and now I deserve a reward.”  This can be as complicated as a blog post to something as simple as a Foursquare check-in. Well, I have news for all of you people… You deserve nothing.

Well, almost nothing. A simple thank you is enough and then the business should surely be on their merry way.

But I’m mayor of your shop and I’ve blasted ten gajillion check-ins to my bajillion Twitter followers and Facebook friends. That’s nice. Did you actually say anything interesting when blasting that check-in out? Did you tell them about how we’re famous for our cream pies? Or that we have karaoke on Tuesdays? No? I didn’t think so. I have some news for you: What you did is called white noise and your followers’ eyes flitted past it as quickly as I am going to walk away from you now.

But I’m going to create awesome content for you. That’s fantastic. What is your experience in creating this content? What successful campaigns have you been a part of? None? Hmmm… Well, I’ll be nice and help out with some freebies, but no, I won’t do more. You’re still establishing this thing called a reputation. Maybe say thank you since I’m allowing you some access to my company to establish that relationship?

But I have all of these followers and friends! Congratulations. I bet your parents are proud, but anybody can accumulate people. Can you turn these people into buyers? You don’t know? But you’re sure these people depend on your advice? Well, I think I’m going to go with this person over here that has their crap together. See, they just showed me their past proven successes, because yes, that can be measured. And since I’m in business, I’m going to go with the person that measures and shows the results they can get.

Remember, those of us that you are trying to get a reward off of are in business. We are trying to make a buck. We are going to do things that make financial sense. And well, taking a chance on someone that can’t prove anything that they do provides actual, measurable results? That just doesn’t make financial sense. Get over it and start acting like you’re in business if this is what you want to do.

It’s My Party and I’ll Blog If I Want To

April 16, 2011

Obviously, I let this blog go.  Did I burn out?  Like a moth to a flame. It sucked, because there were so many reasons why I enjoyed writing this.  But things just couldn’t keep going the way that they were.

Here were my mistakes.  Hopefully you’ll pick up a few tips that will help you out.

1.  I spent between 20-30 hours working on this blog a week.  Yeah, you read that right.  The actual writing I did was only one piece of the puzzle.  The promoting is the actual beast.  I participated in relevant chats.  I read blogs and commented with links to posts that I had written.  I just found any way that I could to connect with people and get what I was writing about in their hands.  It’s a lot of work.  Did the work pay off? Fo’ shizzle.  Was I happy about it?  Not really.  I work 40 hours a week at a desk job, and I have things that I like to do that don’t include the computer or social media.  Crazy, I know.  This time around, I’m going to concentrate on work-life balance.  It’s unfortunate, but I think I’ll just concentrate on writing awesomesauce material and if people read it via my channels, great.

2.  I went in with no plan.  I’m not sure if many of you know the real reason why I started this blog.  Well, I read a blog post on Foursquare that made me mad.  I wrote out a reply and realized it was more of a blog post than an actual comment.  So I got onto WordPress, took a few minutes setting up the blog and published.  I had no clue if I’d ever write on it again.  Didn’t really know what I’d write about if I did.  Just wanted to make sure some idiot got a piece of my mind.  Don’t ever do that.  You end up with an albatross hanging around your neck and you don’t want one of those.  Instead, sketch out what you want to do and make sure it’s feasible.  Only then should you publish.  I’m working backwards here and let me tell you, it sucks the big one.

3.  I listened to everyone, but myself.  Everybody has an opinion and in most cases, I’m smart enough to ignore most of those opinions.  However, I wasn’t here.  I heard bloggers should post every day, so I tried to post every day.  I heard bloggers do this, that and the other thing, so I did this, that and the other things.  The problem is that I’m me first and then maybe a blogger.  It’s stupid to ignore that.  What works for me is not going to work for you and vice versa.  This time around, if my inner voice says, “No way in hell,” I’m going to honor that and tell whoever is criticizing me that there’s a fantastic bridge that I would be happy to push them off of.  Remember, in every facet of social media, you don’t have to do anything other than what works FOR YOU.

So there will be no posting schedule.  I’ll only post when I have something to say.  Luckily, I have a lot to say right now, so you definitely can look for more soon.  In the meantime, any topics you’d like to see me cover?

What is a DMO’s purpose on social media?

November 4, 2010

We should all be working a strategy like we work a two dollar whore.  But I know some of us are just winging it.  So during a discussion I was having on Twitter, it was brought up that Twitter should be for DMO to consumer communication to influence the decision-making process.  I gotta say I disagree here.  I think the major purpose behind a DMOs use of all social media channels is to foster peer to peer communications (where most decisions get made) and to create a stronger relationship with those that have already bought what you’re selling (making them want to come back for more).  Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear some thoughts on this.

Initial Thoughts on Facebook Places

August 20, 2010

We all know that I’m a Foursquare fan girl.  I’m not going to even pretend that I’m not.  So I was particularly interested in what Facebook Places was going to bring to the table.  And well, I’m kind of underwhelmed.

The biggest issue that is making the rounds is the fact that your friends can check you in.  The social media types all know how this is going to go.  People are going to think that they’re funny and check us into random places.  In fact, I’m already thinking of all the places I can check Mike the Boyfriend into. (I won’t but it doesn’t mean I won’t encourage others to do it.)  And then there are the privacy phobes that simply don’t want people to know where they are.  We have already seen how much noise they can make with previous privacy issues.  I don’t think there is any possibility that this feature will last.  And that is simply because we are all turning it off.

The other feature that I think will go away is the one that allows people to see who is at a location.  Yes, that is a GREAT feature on Foursquare.  I constantly use it to see who I should be meeting up with at a happy hours and other events.  I can’t scream how much I love this feature on Foursquare enough.  It can’t be translated onto Facebook.  Once again, I’m looking at you privacy phobes.  You don’t want people to know where you are unless you have a prior relationship, and even then, you don’t like it.  Therefore, you all will turn this feature off as well.

Then there is what this will do to the stream.  I know a lot of people that unfollow anyone that tweets every single check-in.  It’s annoying.  And there are a lot of tweets in most streams.  There aren’t nearly as many Facebook posts out there.  I think even broadcasting a few check-ins will get old fast.

Finally, there is no incentive.  To be honest, the only reason why I check-in to Foursquare is because I think I might get something out of it (badge, mayorship, coupon, etc.).  Without that, I don’t tend to check-in.  That means I have absolutely no reason to check-in via places.  And I like location-based applications.  Chew on that for a second.

Yes, Facebook seems to have a head start in that it has 500 million users, but these users are overall very different from those that use location-based applications.  The average Facebook user doesn’t like to share too much.  They like to keep things close to the chest.  And those that aren’t like that tend to be more friendly with Twitter than Facebook.  So Facebook has A LOT to overcome with their average user and they have to woo back these other users as well.  Especially since I’m seeing a lot of tweets on how to turn off just about every feature of Places.

Do I think you should not play with Facebook Places?  Hell, no.  Play, jump and giggle with it.  It’s a tool, and it could be helpful.  Just be aware, this is its first incarnation and it’s going to change.  Be okay with that and let’s see what this baby can do.

Hashtag Abuse

August 11, 2010

This may be a bit of a rant, but only because it’s been bothering me for awhile.  There are several Twitter chats that are great and of course I would rank #tourismchat right up there as one of the greats.  Twitter chats are just a great, informal way to exchange information and I usually come out of them with something that I want to try with my business accounts.  So basically, holy learning experience.

What is event better about these chats is that you can monitor the hashtag during the week and still get tons of great information.  I’ve seen people ask for help or even volunteer an article that they found helpful.  It’s fantastic for all of us, because it’s helping us all raise our games.  Unfortunately, this learning experience is being hijacked from us and therefore, taking away our abilities to really embrace a medium that could be awesomely helpful.

The first group of people that are doing this I would like to think are not doing this purposely.  They’re the off-topic people.  I have become known as the mean #tourismchat person because I’ve started calling these people out.  With an hour every week during the chat, we have a lot to fit in and are usually crunched for time.  So basically, I am trying to make sure the topic is discussed in as much detail as possible for the people that came for that topic.  Yes, that is why I’m mean.  But I really wonder about some of the people that are doing this.  You have a whole two weeks where you can use the hashtag to publicize a plea for help and you choose the one hour where it’s not appropriate.  In fact, I won’t even say anything to you if you publicize it at 2:55 pm on the day of the chat.  So what are you doing?  Oh and can you please stop?

The second group are hijacking hashtags on purpose.  They’re the self-promotional people and are the reason why I have stopped following certain hashtags during the week.  For some reason, it has become a trend that people are using the hashtag to get more hits on their blog, regardless of whether the post is actually related to what the hashtag is about.  While that might be great to get immediate hits, you are essentially tricking the audience of that tag.  So you’ve broken trust and they will most likely not return.  Is that really audience building?

So yes, this is a rant, but I wrote it mostly because I am very protective of #tourismchat as well as disappointed in what I see on other hashtags.  I am just asking you to take a second, think of the community that you want to broadcast to and then decide if what you want to broadcast right now is appropriate time-wise and topic-wise.  Is that too much to ask?

My Car Repair Shop is Better Than Yours

August 10, 2010
Back in January of 2008, Mike the Boyfriend accidentally found out that my car was undriveable.  In my defense, I had just dumped my last consulting client, and after dumping entirely too much money into that client and seeing no return, I didn’t exactly have the money to fix it.  Exactly how bad was it?  Well, it stalled just about every time I stopped.  Yeah, that’s bad, but did I mention that the car was also making a terrible grinding noise when I pressed on the brake?  Stupid may be the best term to apply to me here, but let’s just move on.

After asking around, Mike found a reputable car repair shop near us called Beany’s.  We weren’t expecting much.  We were just hoping to not get ripped off.  And when they called us with the estimate, we were kind of blown away.  Yes, the brakes were going to cost a fortune to fix, but we were expecting that and the number they came back with wasn’t even close to the number we were thinking.  What was surprising was their solution to stalling problem.  After they ran diagnostics, they realized it was just a plug that had come unplugged.  They plugged it in at no charge.  Since we were already dumping a lot of money into this place, it probably was a no brainer to them that this was the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, it’s getting beyond rare for companies to recognize what the right thing to do is, so it ended up being a gesture that increased our trust in what they do.

After getting the car back home and being extremely happy with how it was running, we got a thank you note, plus coupons for our next visit and one to pass on to friend.  Once again, simple and surprising.  This would have been enough for us to come back but then we started getting their snail mail newsletter.  It’s filled with LOTS of information that has nothing to do with cars, which includes timely, family tips and partnerships with other local businesses.  Plus they include monthly drawings, thank yous to customers and coupons.  The fact that you know you might win something or you might get a thank you constantly gets us to open this stupid little newsletter up, despite my rule that only evil comes in the form of snail mail.

And then there’s the workshops.  At least once a quarter, they offer a workshop to help people understand more about their cars.  There is one that is offered only to women and one that is offered only to teen drivers.  How much do these workshops cost?  Nada.  Oh yeah and lunch is included.  I think it takes a lot of hootzpah to teach people in this matter.  It only encourages a better consumer base and you better be able to back that up.  And they do.

You might also want to hear about the last time I took my car in.  They were honest and said that it was time to let her go.  The cost to fix her was at least double what she was worth and it was no longer smart to dump any money into her.  The cost for this assessment?  Free, provided that I promised to get all of my future car’s work done at their shop.  Um, hells yeah.

So what can your business take away from my experience with this shop?  Well, this to me is one of the most effective word of mouth campaigns I have come across and they barely have a social media presence.  Here are a few takeaways:

1. It’s sometimes okay to give things away for free, especially when it’s the right thing to do.  It only increases trust.
2. Thank you notes rock.  Let’s bring them back.
3. Arm the people who might talk about you with information to pass on.  The easier you make it to talk about you, the more likely they will.
4. It’s okay to go off topic if you make it relevant to your audience.
5. Recognize your customers.  They like to see their names up in lights sometimes.
6. Educate your customers.  If you have trust in what you are selling and believe it to be the best product, then throwing a bit of education at your customers should only increase loyalty and keep them coming back.
7. Be honest.  If you lie, you will be found out and it will hurt your base.  So just don’t do it.

Any other good word of mouth campaigns out there?

#chatmixer

July 28, 2010

I think by now all of you know where my favorite place to learn is: happy hour.  A relaxed atmosphere, nobody putting themselves on a pedestal and a little bit of alcohol always leads to the good information exchanges.  And you get to see people in person!  I know.  Novel idea there.

My second favorite place to learn is on a Twitter chat.  The co-founder of a Twitter chat saying that Twitter chats are great places to learn?  Shocking!  I will honestly say though that the information that gets exchanged during #tourismchat is mind boggling and I always come away with something.  However, I’m not going to tell you much more about that today.

Despite our best efforts, all Twitter chats are faced with the same problem: the same group of people show up.  Although we can still get great information from these groups, sometimes you just want to stretch a bit further and seek new opinions from different people.  This is why I’m really excited by the idea of #chatmixer, a great concept brought to us by the ever fantastic Heather Whaling.  This is not just another Twitter chat.  It’s like the mother of Twitter chats.

#chatmixer is bringing together over 20 Twitter chats, so you will be able to find out information about other applicable chats and you will be able to make some new social media connections that can give you feedback on your ideas.  I mean holy win.  It’s going to take place on Thursday night from 8-9 pm EST.  So you can join us for #tourismchat at 3 pm EST, grab some dinner and then come back for more at 8 pm!

Hope to see you there!

There is No Such Thing as Normal Social Media

July 27, 2010

I hurt my back about a week or so ago.  I’m not completely living on Ibuprofen, but I kind of am.  The problem is that I like to constantly push myself.  I like to try to better my best performance in everything I do or else I don’t see the point of working out.  Well, what has that gotten me?  A back that isn’t healing and me being almost in tears.

Tonight, I had a yoga teacher finally talk some sense into me.  I broke and told him that when he was adjusting me that I wanted to cry.  What did my honesty get me?  Some alternative positions that actually gave just the right amount of stretch to my injured back and may actually help it to heal.

So why am I telling you all of this?  I think a lot of us in social media get caught up in hearing how people are doing xyz and then think that we should do xyz.  We want to be on top of everything and end up bending ourselves (and our organizations) into these pretzels thinking that this makes us great social media strategists.  Nope, it just makes us pretzels.

Some keys to remember are:

  1. You don’t have to be everywhere.  It’s perfectly acceptable to just participate in one or two spaces and do them well.
  2. Just because someone you admire is doing their space a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right way for you to do it.  Different audiences demand different things and your voice (the voice of your organization) is unique.  Be proud of what you have and use it.
  3. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.  Experiment until you’re comfortable and you are getting what you want out of your space.
  4. Be okay with failing.  Sometimes you need to do it to do something great.

What it all boils down to be your most awesome, imperfect self and success will follow.  So how else can we make sure that we aren’t tying ourselves into pretzels?

The Art of Making People Feel Special

July 22, 2010

I am way late to the crowd of people that tripped over themselves to blog about the Old Spice campaign, but let’s just ignore that.  Let’s concentrate on the fact that we all loved that campaign instead.  The idea of a ridiculous character delivering personalized videos to people was oh my God genius.  And let’s all admit that we all participated in some way.  I personally asked the Old Spice Man a very special question: My man uses Old Spice so why isn’t he as manly and awesome as you are?  Alas, I wasn’t one of the lucky few that got their question(s) answered.

So what can we in the tourism or association industry take away from this madness?  Well there were multiple takeaways, but the most important, in my opinion, is that people like to feel special.  In fact, just the anticipation that we might be special enough to get our answer question kept us glued to the videos.  Yes, we wanted to see his answers, but we also wanted to see our name up in bright lights.

I think this is a very good point to draw on for your social media strategy.  How do you make your followers, fan, etc. feel special?  The part of my strategy that accomplishes that involves highlighting two members a week (one on Twitter and one on Facebook).  Not only does this give me a chance to show off something that they’re doing right, but it also allows me to get a bit more of a buy-in from them because I took that second to single them out.  This could mean that they decide to follow me or it could mean that they become more responsive to my tweets.  Total wins on my end.  But it also lets others know that they’re out there and are doing great things.  Total wins for them.

So what do you guys do to achieve that special feeling?