Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive: My 2009 Highlights

I’ve been reflecting upon the positive things that happened to me this year, despite being in the job market twice this year due to the economic times and nature of the advertising industry. I’ve managed to be pretty productive, even between jobs. I am thankful for the successes I’ve had and the friendships I’ve made through networking in 2009. Here’s a recap of my year:

- Received American Advertising Federation (AAF) Nashville’s President’s award for my contribution in rebranding the ad club’s website, email newsletter, and creating social networking sites for the organization. I’ve had my eye on that trophy for a couple of years…so it was a personal victory to have my name etched on it!

- Co-Founded Social Media Club Nashville with Jessica Murray, who I met at Dave Delaney’s Geek Breakfast. We had several successful, well attended meetings of SMC Nashville, including topics on Social Media’s use for non-profits, healthcare, and Nashville Predators. I’ve met so many people with the same interest in social media and marketing!


Networking when Networking wasn’t Cool

I was networking when social networking wasn’t cool. (To the tune of “I was Country When Wasn’t Cool”) - hey, I live in Nashville- what do you expect?!

I came to Nashville in 2002 with one goal -to work in advertising- and no clue how to make it happen. I read a few career books about networking and working in the advertising field. They all said to set up informational interviews to get to know the companies and the people who run them.

There were no social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (if they existed, I didn’t know about them). At the time, I didn’t even have a computer or the internet. All I had was a phone, a phone book, and a determined attitude.


Spotlight on Social Fresh’s, Jason Keath

Who is Jason Keath, what is Social Fresh, and why should you care?
I first heard about Social Fresh a few months ago. As part of Social Media Club Nashville, I wanted to get involved in this social media conference that was announced to be coming to Nashville, TN January 11, 2010. I volunteered to help out with the event and promoted it through Facebook and Twitter. 

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I really did a double-take on the magnitude of national connections to the social media and advertising industries Social Fresh’s founder, Jason Keath, has. I was reading ADRANTS, a popular ad industry pop-culture bog, created by Steve Hall- that I’ve been following for at least five years. There was Jason Keath, Chris Brogan (who I met when he came to Nashville to talk about his social media book, Trust Agents), and Steve Hall in a feature article about a Social Fresh Cruise for the who’s who of social media. That put Jason Keath on my radar, so I called him up to get more info about Social Fresh and what he hopes to bring to Nashville's advertising and marketing community.


Be the Robin Hood of your Social Network

Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor. You can do this as well, with your networking contacts.

I view the quantity and quality of my connections on social networking sites as pieces of gold. The more connections I have, the more personal brand wealth I have and the more people want to connect with me.  The secret to successful networking is to spread the "wealth" and put some "gold" into the pockets of your contacts. 

I am fortunate enough to have met some great people while attending professional events, mixers, and conferences.  Here are just a few of the things that I have found to be successful through networking online and offline:  

When you meet someone at a business event: 
  • Always get a business card and immediately follow up with an email within 48 hours.
  • Connect on social networks- search their name on Facebook and LinkedIn and send them a request to connect. They almost always will accept.  


NASHVILLE’S Ones to Watch (and learn from): Companies who “get” Social Marketing

> Paramore|Redd
Masters of online marketing and social media, this company practices what it preaches. Lead by a preacher’s daughter, no less! Paramore|Redd is a one stop shop for online marketing- from websites to web banners, online media buying, social media, e-mail newsletters, SEO, and more. They don’t just get it, they share it. Hannah Paramore’s team of marketers provide frequent and relevant company and client updates, and marketing tips.  The company’s smart and spunky personality shines through in their e-newsletter and frequent blog, Twitter, and Facebook fan page posts. Hannah is a frequent speaker on the topic of online and social marketing. In the past year, Paramore|Redd consulted with both American Advertising Federation Nashville and Nashville American Marketing Association in developing online communication plans to connect and grow Nashville's advertising and marketing communities.

Check out Paramore|Redd’s Website | Blog  | Twitter | Facebook

> Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

Yes, the city of Nashville can tout that we have the best chamber of commerce in the US. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce was named 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. The Nashville Chamber is a strong supporter of the technology and marketing communities in Nashville, supporting events like BarCamp Nashville 2009. Through the Chamber’s  Informed and Inspired Speaker Series, Nashville’s business community got to learn firsthand about social media from Paula Berg [@paulaberg], Manager of Emerging Media for Southwest Airlines. The Nashville Chamber regularly Tweets, updates its Facebook fan page, YouTube Channel, and has huge support from its members in promoting the value of membership in their own e-mail newsletters. The Chamber also hosts a member-only Social Media Marketing Special Interest Group (SIG).

Check out Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Website | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook


Know when to kill the Beast

Social networking can become overwhelming with all the different social sites available. I personally have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blip.fm, Flickr, AAF Nashville’s ning, Digital Nashville’s ning, and a few more that I have signed up for in the past. That’s a lot of socializing to keep up with! I try to remain active on all of them. The frequency varies- some multiple times a day, some once a day, some weekly or monthly.

Have you ever played The Sims video game? The Sims are characters that you control through the game, but in order to keep them “alive” you have to feed them, make them talk to friends and neighbors, you even have to make them go to the bathroom- or they will “die”. There is usually a prompt in the game that tells you what they are lacking and allows you to manage their “health”. Unfortunately, our social networking profiles do not have prompts to let us know when our social networking skills are dying.

Interaction and frequent activity are essential to building your successful online networking community, no matter what social networking platform you choose. You must feed the monster that you created, or it will die.


The boy who cried wolf

Everyone knows this story by now, the boy cried “wolf” too many times when there was no wolf at all. Then, when the wolf showed up, no one would listen to him because he had mislead them so many times before.

Let this be a lesson to those creating content for social marketing purposes. If you spew out a bunch of crap just to have content, people will stop paying attention. This is also true with where you put your content. It should be just as strategic and targeted what you say, as where you say it.

Here’s an example:

Company X has created a video that shows how their new plastic egg container keeps eggs safe while being transported. They posted the video on You-Tube and created a Facebook fan page. The five people in the company’s marketing department have sent “suggestions” to their Facebook friends to join the Facebook page. This is fairly common for companies just starting out with social media. Once a week, they post the video on their Facebook fan page and promote the locations where they are going to be doing demos at local grocery stores.

The problem: Their Facebook fan list is not growing and sales are not rising. That’s because they are sending the same message to the same people, who aren’t necessarily the target for what they are selling.


Is your brand like Pinocchio?

Brands should strive to be “real” in social media, just like Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy. Social media enthusiasts call this being transparent. Webster’s dictionary defines transparency as free from pretense or deceit, easily detected or seen through, readily understood, and characterized by visibility or accessibility of information.

Some companies are totally transparent with who is managing their social media sites, For example, Scott Monty [@scottmonty] tweets for Ford Motor Company and Frank Eliason is the voice behind Comcast Cares [@comcastcares]. On the other hand, some companies are not transparent. This leaves an even larger responsibility on them: managing consumer expectations of the brand.

When I follow Doritos on Twitter [@DoritosUSA], I know there is not an actual chip tweeting from a bag in the back of the factory. I connect because I am familiar with the brand through other forms of advertising and my own product experiences. A couple of commercials, featuring model, Ali Landry, come to mind. I remember that Doritos had a contest for consumers to create their own commercial- that was aired during Super Bowl XLI. I expect edginess, creativity, and a youthful tone with this brand in how they communicate with me socially. I expect the brand to be consistent whether on TV, a print ad, their website, or Facebook fan page. I was pleasantly surprised to find that their Twitter bio describes their brand to a tee: “Not only are our chips packed with serious crunch and crave-able flavors, the DORITOS brand is all about intense experiences in snacking and beyond.”

How do companies manage consumer expectations through social marketing? Take a look at the brand’s marketing materials, website, and advertising in other media. If the brand were a person, what kind of person would it be? How would it speak with a consumer on a peer to peer level? Would the brand and its consumer be friends in a real-life situation? If you are not true to your brand, then your nose will grow and consumers will be turned off.

Want to learn more?
Read BusinessWeek’s article about Frank Eliason.

Read BrandWeek’s article, mentioning Scott Monty.


things to ponder... I tweet, therefore I am or I am what I tweet?

Yes, it’s true- I get a little “high” from the flattering retweets and likes on Facebook. It makes me smile to see comments from my friends and followers when I have posted something I think is hilarious. I even feel encouraged when I make a status update about something I am pondering and want a second opinion about. So, does this mean that I am addicted to generating a response? Children act out to get attention. Could social media be the platform for adults to get the same effect? Everyone has a human desire to be liked and accepted. How much is too much, though? There is a fine line between too much information and social networking for amusement.


ABC's - Audience Before Content

One of the basics that I was taught in marketing 101 is that marketers must have a target audience to spread their message to. Meaning, there is already a need for the product/ service.  All companies have to do is find the consumers that have that need and tell them about what they have to offer. In the past, marketers did this through placing print ads in specific magazines, putting TV commercials on during certain shows, and placing radio ads on particular radio stations. If the consumer wanted what a company had to offer, they would buy. If not, the message was ignored as "clutter".

Today, the rules with social marketing are different. There is strategy involved in planning which social platform will most likely reach the target audience. There is now another level to that strategy, in which customers want something in return when marketers are in their social space. Consumers do not want to be bombarded with what companies have to sell, where the company is telling the consumer what to buy and why. This is considered "clutter", even though the companies may be speaking directly to their target audience that would otherwise buy from them. Instead, they want to be the voice telling the company what they want and how they want it.


This blog has been established to provide simple, sometimes humorous explanations and information about marketing on social platforms. I will share experiences from my background in traditional, digital, and social marketing as well as case studies from my personal contacts in the marketing, advertising, and digital technology industries.

Social Media is not a big, bad, wolf.