While I Was Out: Reflections On a Social Media Hiatus

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

too much of a good thing?Happy Friday, all!

When WUL resurfaced on Monday, I told you I’d do my best to answer any questions you about about While I Was Out. You haven’t really asked me any so far – though I do appreciate the warm welcome back, and the team does too, thank you!

So I figured I’d just share some of what I experienced the last several months… consider them reflections on a social media hiatus from a business point of view. And those of you who are small business owners yourselves might relate.

Once I “went dark,” I basically became a “normal person” (just like I did last year when I went in-house for a brief stint, except this time, it was due to a personal situation). I focused, with a laser-like intensity, on dealing with the S**t I was going through, and work. Some days were rough. Very, very rough. Work was a blessing in disguise, because I just had to get it done, which helped me take my mind off the other stuff.

All of which is not to be a drama queen, but to be candid about where I was.

The fact that I can at least sense coming out into the clear, even if I’m not as close to it as I’d like to be, is why I brought WUL back. Now, I don’t know if the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is a steady beam yet, or still a bit of a flickering candle, but I do know that I can at least feel its warmth, if not see it completely clearly.

So what happens when you have to deal with “life” and work, and don’t have the time or energy to engage in online chit-chat (or eat the hugest hot dog you’ve ever seen, and doesn’t social feel like that sometimes)? Well:

1. If you’re concerned about your “standing” or social scores (cough, Klout, cough) in social media, then you have a panic attack. Because you realize that it’s important to post consistently, even if what you post is possibly mostly crap.

However, you might be surprised at which platforms make a difference. For the last couple of months, I was basically off Twitter, which I always thought was Klout’s platform du jour.

Turns out, because I have other platforms connected to it, notably Facebook which is where I posted online to purge share mostly personal thoughts but where I have a very engaged network, my inactivity on Twitter didn’t actually impact me that negatively.

So what’s important? As a business, you should concentrate on building an engaged community, not necessarily a huge one. I love this post from Debra Askanase on sharing “small moment” stories to do just that.

2. Speaking of “huge,” Social is really a huge time suck. H.U.G.E. The minute I was officially “off” social, I felt a sense of lightness that has to be experienced to be believed.

Because as my network has grown, so I have felt the pressure (self-induced? perhaps) to “keep up,” “be in the conversation,” etc. etc. etc. And that took all the fun out of it, which was horrid, because I used to luhv social.

And this is of no help when you know that a large part of your work (and generation of new business) has to do with being active on social media… because then your inactivity on such platforms is clearly going to impact you negatively outside of the “boo hoo” factor.

And I know this last bit because, as I’ve been getting more and more familiar with Streak as my current CRM program, I know which kinds of activities convert into leads and prospects. Kaboom!

So what’s important? Get familiar, and comfortable, with social media tools that can help you manage the time you spend in and on Social. Don’t try to automate everything – that will backfire – but give yourself breathing space when you can.

I did, and it helped tremendously, and now I’m starting to fall in love with social again.

3. If you have a strong community, they will be there when you come back.

This is what I’ve found, as you yourselves are evidence of. The catch here is the qualifier “strong.” If you haven’t been able to build a strong community, then falling off social is pretty much suicide… assuming social is a critical driver for your business (see #2 above). And even if it’s not, disappearing from your publics in any way is never good.

So if it is, figure out your backup plan before such a situation arises. If not, you’ll just have to deal with it as and when you can, and the results might not always be to your liking.

For me, it was telling the WUL team what was going to happen before it went public. Then it was telling all of you that we were going dark for a while… not just leaving you in the dark. It was having my Girl Friday aka Karelyn Lambert maintain the official SBC Facebook Page, etc. at what I call a “subsistence” level – just enough to make sure we didn’t fall off the radar screen completely.

At one point I had to reschedule a client engagement at the last minute – which I have never done before – but this was truly a crisis situation. Fortunately the client was extremely understanding and we were able to reschedule the engagement… and it went off perfectly. But had the client not also been a part of my community, I doubt they would have been as understanding.

So what’s important? Tell your community, your stakeholders, what’s going on. You don’t have to go into the gory details if you don’t want to (or can’t, because of privacy or other concerns). But let them know your situation, and they will appreciate your honesty.

What about you?

If you’re also in startup/entrepreneur/small biz mode, as I am (and it’s really neat to think of my business as a startup, but of course it is one!) then you go through these same peaks and valleys. You struggle with time, with your social “voice,” your footprint, your engagement … you know you have to do social, but it’s just so hard to be social. But Social Rules!

The biggest lesson I learned, these past several months, was that the minute I started letting social rule my life, it started sucking the life out of me. Because I started feeling obligated to respond, so I started becoming a machine. And that’s just no fun at all.

Once I reclaimed and readjusted my time – even though the circumstances that led me to do so were far from optimal – I started to get my life back. And once I started to get my life back, social started to again be a place I could talk, play, learn, discover, and grow… both personally and professionally.

I’m not back to my crazy, send-out-100-tweets-a-day level, and honestly don’t know if I ever will be (except when I’m doing a Twitter chat or at a conference… that’s different). But I do think I’m getting back to the true value of social media… which is the joy of connection.

That’s some of what I learned. Over to you. Does it make sense? Have you been through something like this? What do you have to share?

Please tell me your stories, you know the floor is now yours!

While I Was Out: Reflections On a Social Media Hiatus is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?

While I Was Out: Reflections On a Social Media Hiatus

Extend the Life of Your Event with Post-Event Planning

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Behind the StoryGuest Post by Lisa Larranaga (Editorial disclosure: Lisa works for Cision, a client of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.

Hosting an event is just the beginning of its life-cycle. The content you create and the leads you nurture will keep your event alive well after its end date.

To make sure you get maximum return on your event, keep these tasks top priority during the pre- and post-event planning stages and beyond:

#Hashtag: Using an event hashtag gives attendees the option to share content in real-time and engage with each other, and if there are enough people using the hashtag, there is the possibility of it trending on Twitter.

Tip: Keep the hashtag short and simple, and make sure you have it displayed at the event so the audience knows to participate.

Video: With 92 percent of mobile video viewers sharing videos with others and 1 billion unique users on YouTube each month, it’s a great way to connect with your audience and reach new members.

Tip: If you’re hosting a speaker, film their session and edit it down to quick, digestible takeaways post-event. If you’re hosting a meet-up, ask attendees to answer questions on-camera, and edit the montage together for distribution.

Content: Turn insight and tips shared into white papers, tip sheets, blog posts, or webinar topics. Take photos and if you generate enough tips and insight, package the content together into a kit.

Guest Bloggers: If you hosted a speaker at your event or built a relationship with someone in the industry, offer to guest post on their site, and invite them to yours. By publishing on their site, you’re introducing yourself to a new audience, and by inviting them to your site, you’re offering your readers a new perspective and voice.

Nurture Campaigns: Add the attendees into your nurture campaign, and carefully pick thought leadership pieces to send them. This will give you more insight on what they’re interested in and their needs. Make sure you are fully evaluating their responses before turning them into a lead.

Tip: If they aren’t interested in a product you offer now but appreciate your outreach and content, they may turn into a great referrer in the future.

What advice do you have for extending an event’s longevity?

Lisa LarranagaLisa Larranaga Denten is the social media manager of Cision US. She manages the company’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Instagram communities, contributes to Cision Blog, and assists with content, social strategy, and tactics. She is a frequent host on Cision’s weekly webinar series, has spoken at marketing conferences, and helped plan Cision’s Behind the Story series. She can be found on Twitter at @lisaml15.

Extend the Life of Your Event with Post-Event Planning is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Extend the Life of Your Event with Post-Event Planning

5 Strategies to Build a Network of Bloggers and Journalists

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Build NetworkGuest Post by Alicia Lawrence

Creating a network of bloggers and journalists is a great way to provide mutual support in the world of online media. For both public relations and search engine optimization, publishing content via other people’s sites is a critical part of their everyday duties.

Image: SalFalko via Flickr, CC 2.0

Not only do you have to find the right mediums, but you also have to get on the good side of the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are the ones who control what is published on their site. Below are tips on how to build a network (and then maintain it!) of gatekeepers that will be relevant to you and your readers.

1. Find Gatekeepers with Similar Interests 

Depending on your client or company, you’ll want to look for gatekeepers who have a similar focus or interest so that their readers will find an interest in your content as well. Look for online communities of bloggers and contribute to their conversations to begin building contacts in your focus area.

Here are a few ways to find topically relevant sites:

2. Utilize Social Media

Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to get introduced to gatekeepers. Your first contact doesn’t have to be a pitch. Interact with them on Twitter, comment on one of their blog posts, or even just retweet one of their tweets to let them know you are paying attention. Figure out their interest and be a real person when outreaching, not just an automated drone.

Twitter is a great platform to find and connect with gatekeepers. Use tools like Twellow and Followerwonk to find relevant gatekeepers. One of the greatest aspects of Twitter is people’s acceptability to random introduction. An editor at Forbes would definitely ignore my phone call, but he would be more inclined to interact with me via Twitter.

3. Keep the Focus on the Readers

When contributing content, don’t let your network fall into the trap of becoming a self-promoting circle of advertisement. Always remember to write for the reader and keep the reader’s needs above your own.

As an example, the 12 Palms Recovery Center maintains a blog that provides information for families and individuals affected by drug abuse. Their blog provides a service to the reader first and foremost; if a reader then visits their website, it is because their blog was helpful. Self-promotion would detract from the message and would not help readers to get the help and knowledge that they are seeking.

When you are pitching the gatekeeper, make sure above all your content will help the reader. While you can reference your product don’t make the entire article self-promotional.

4. Build Your Brand and Expertise

Journalists are always looking for quotes and reliable sources. It’s important to build your brand and specify a few employees with specific expertise. Let the journalist know you are there to help him or her. Email them the bios of the experts and offer an interview. If you know of anything particular going on in the news, pitch a unique angle where your expert’s knowledge would be a reliable source.

5. Stay Professional and Friendly

When building a successful network, make sure to keep professionalism at the forefront. Even once you have made good contacts and have begun to form a network, it is important to keep in contact with the gatekeepers. Never get angry with a gatekeeper if they reject your story. They are just doing their job, and keeping persistent with a friendly attitude will go a long way

Wish them a happy birthday or congratulate them when you see a tweet about their child graduating. Keep up-to-date with what gatekeepers’ posts, and maintain personal contact with each of them to keep your network strong.

Do you have a great community building strategy? How do you connect with other bloggers and gatekeepers? Please share in the comments below!

Alicia LawrenceAlicia Lawrence is a Harrisburg-based writer and entrepreneur specializing in communication and health. Alicia works as a content coordinator for WebpageFX and is the founder of MarCom Land. For more about Alicia, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @Alicia_Lw.

5 Strategies to Build a Network of Bloggers and Journalists is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

5 Strategies to Build a Network of Bloggers and Journalists

Monday Roundup: Building Your Business Community

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

A packed room at the breakouts at Social Slam 2013Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

Having a strong community is one of the most important aspects of business. This week’s roundup includes seven posts that are good reads on both maintaining as well as building your business community. Enjoy!

1. How To Be A Better Facebook Community Manager

Why: Shelly Kramer details what goes into successful daily Facebook management.

2. So You Think You Want to be a Community Manager?

Why: An inside view on what community management actually entails. Even though it’s more than a year old, Maggie McGary‘s post is a must-read for anyone considering a career in community management.

3. 6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known as a New SMM/CMGR

Why: Carrie Keenan shares some great advice for those who are new to the Social Media Manager or Community Manager role.

4. Taking Your Blog Post Series on the Road

Why: In this guest post for WUL, Nick Kellet explains how placing guest posts on various blogs can be used to build your brand community.

5. Community Consultation – Offline & Online

Why: The offline aspect of community is often overlooked in today’s digital society. Jamie Garantziotis‘ post from a year ago is still a great read on the importance of offline community interaction.

6. Are you building an engaged community with content?

Why: Over at Socialbrite, John Haydon shares some ways you can adjust your content marketing strategy to build your community.

7. How to Increase Business Blog Traffic, Readership, & Community

Why: Increasing the traffic to your business blog is one of the results of building an engaged community… and there are many others. Lee Odden offers some great tips here.

Do you have a great community management or building tip you would like to share? Please let us know in the comments below.

Monday Roundup: Building Your Business Community is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?

Monday Roundup: Building Your Business Community

Lessons in Listening and Customer Outreach From Chobani

This post is by Howie Goldfarb from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Chobani CHO-ArtIf you didn’t know I was a Chobani brand ambassador… well, I am. So let me get that out of the way right at the start. I am occasionally am paid in yogurt. Seriously. What a deal, for both of us!

Every business has such relationships. Some foster them better than others.  What Chobani does isn’t rocket science. They do something I always say is more important than marketing. And that is they recognize and support their brand evangelists organically.

Great product. Great service. Right price.

Chobani yogurt ranks in the top tier for taste and quality. Two years ago when the Midwest had a massive heat wave, and the company had trouble keeping up with demand, plenty of cups of yogurt were spoiled in transit or at the store.

Where did customers go to complain? The Chobani Facebook page. And the company honored every spoiled cup with a replacement, whether the spoilage was its fault or not.

And while their pricing seems around the top third when looking at the yogurt offerings in the store, enough people view it as reasonable to have product flying off the shelf.

What a great base to start with. Before they even invested heavily in social media, Chobani was growing fast via word of mouth and a quality listening program. They took the time to learn who their fans were, and then connected and built relationships with them.

And the company has used a lot of the techniques I discussed recently, right here on WUL, on growing your Facebook community.

Here is a short Q&A with Ashley Butler , Chobani’s Community Coordinator, who is based in NYC (the center of their marketing operations):

WUL: I am curious: how many cups of yogurt do you guys sell in a day?

Ashley Butler: We make upwards of 2MM cases a week!

WUL: And how many tweets and Facebook comments a day (or week) do you guys get?

AB: On average, we see about 1,500 tweets a day and 150+ Facebook comments and posts a day. We see thousands of mentions of Chobani every day, largely across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

WUL: Do you conduct your blogger outreach via a listening program? Meaning the blogs that do the giveaways… do you approach them first, or after you’ve seen them mention the product?

AB: We initially discover Chobaniacs by following along with the CHO (Chobani) chatter across all platforms listed above, as well as blogs. Then, we create close friendships with them, touching base with them throughout the year. And, we also make sure to befriend folks we admire!

WUL: Tell me about the store in Manhattan, please.

ABChobani SoHo was Hamdi’s dream. He wanted to bring the brand to life in a physical space. The store serves as direct contact for Chobaniacs. Folks come here to enjoy options from a carefully selected menu that features creations made from our authentic strained Greek yogurt and hand-selected, artisan ingredients.

(Editor’s note: Hamdi Ulukaya is the founder of Chobani; see more here.)

WUL: How many cities and events did the CHOmobile go to last year?

AB: OCHOmobile in VT ur CHOmobile travels the country all year round. Last year, our US team hit 21 events in 18 cities and 2 countries! We also have a traveling CHOmobile in Australia and the UK!

Image via Chobani Blog, used with permission

WUL: Can you share, how many people did you send those awesome new flavor packs with the spoon to?

AB: Hundreds! And more to come! We sort of have a problem with giving away product.

That’s relationship building

Chobani believes in investing in relationships. They’ve invested in staff, formal outreach such as the CHOMobile Tours, and their new flagship store offline. And online, they have a great approach to social media, integrating customer service every step of the way.

Shouldn’t every business take getting to know its fans and building relationships this seriously?

Lessons in Listening and Customer Outreach From Chobani is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Howie Goldfarb
Vice President of Marketing & Strategy at Web Choice Consulting
Howie Goldfarb is Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Strategy at Web Choice Consulting, a full service integrated marketing and Internet agency. He had a 14-year career in direct B2B industrial sales before deciding to lighten up his dreary work life and move into advertising/marketing. He has a CFO's view of marketing, bringing a dose of reality to the confusing world of jargon, spin, and hype. He currently lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont and is still seeking his first moose sighting.

Lessons in Listening and Customer Outreach From Chobani

How Socially Responsible Communications Maintain Your Community Cool

This post is by Maura Lafferty from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

ArtsWave patronsI recently received a notification from another influencer marketing tool seeking to engage me by flattering my ego, which will inevitably re-stir the frenzy of excited tweets, criticism, and everything in between.

Communicators often find themselves torn between the desire to embrace innovation, and the need to give their clients responsible advice. Criticisms against the dizzying array of marketing tools vying for communicators’ attention and loyalty reminds me of journalists’ gripes about “what not to do in PR.”

No one enjoys having their value reduced to a number, or bid for at an auction.

Those who are frustrated with these circular conversations will be heartened by economist Umair Haque’s impassioned plea for greater responsibility in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled Business Should Focus on Sociality, Not Social ‘Media’:

“The great promise of the social is to reconnect life with living, and so reconnect institutions with individuals…the real work of an institution is to help you arc past what you thought were the immovable limits of your human potential.”

Another great resource or ally can come from working with a trusted research firm that can help you “uncover the hidden patterns of understanding that undermine citizen action,” as the Topos Partnership has done for a variety of communities in at least seven different sectors.

The work of firms like Topos provides a sanity-inducing balm to messes like the influencer marketing onslaught, because they get into the core beliefs behind what people think or feel about the message at hand, which goes beyond tools and tactics to the core of the decision-making process.

Responsibly-designed research

provides a bulwark in our efforts to understand customers at a deeper level, listen to, and tap into the core values that truly motivate their decision-making. Taking an approach like this allows us to reach people through more conscientious, socially responsible communications, and illustrates the impact this will have on our audiences of decision-makers within our companies and client organizations.

I was first introduced to Topos’ work through a case study that Margy Waller presented at the 2011 Chorus America conference of work for the former Cincinnati Fine Arts Fund, now called ArtsWave. I was impressed by the researchers’ data-driven, consumer-focused approach, and the results that the organization was able to accomplish, once armed with this knowledge.

The changing narrative

The case study clearly illustrated why the traditional narrative that placed special value on the fine and performing arts as a mark of civilization and cultural development has changed for modern audiences, and how communicators in this space can respond and adapt positively.

The findings speak to a detailed level of care and understanding for the true motivators, and provided a welcome relief to the finger-pointing that can come when strategic goals like audience development are stymied by external forces.

As you’ll see in the full case study (click for PDF), ArtsWave rebranded the organization from top to bottom as a result of their work with Topos, with a re-defined mission statement, giving priorities, and host of engagement activities that touch each community within Cincinnati.

Their new face now portrays a friendly, vibrant, community-focused advocate for the common good.

In Justin Goldsborough’s great recent piece on social media-fueled customer service, originally titled “Technology has changed, Customers’ expectations haven’t,” he points out that

“a company’s ability to serve customers…comes from leadership embracing a culture focused on the customer experience first, which opens the door for employees to provide the best possible customer service no matter what the channel.”

How do you qualify your audience for each campaign? What kinds of analysis or data do you use to integrate community cool while holding the deluge of codswallop at bay? (apologies, Shonali!)

How Socially Responsible Communications Maintain Your Community Cool is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Maura Lafferty
Chief Happiness Officer at Maura Lafferty PR
Chief Happiness Officer at SF-based Maura Lafferty PR and social media addict, Maura designs and executes modern communication strategies for creatives with savvy solutions to problems faced by the music and culture sectors. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Archdiocese of San Francisco Young Adult Council + Taskforce, and watches too much TV.

How Socially Responsible Communications Maintain Your Community Cool

Reflections on xPotomac, Civility, and Being a Hook

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

xPotomac 2013xPotomac was a hit

Last week saw one of my first projects for 2013 – as well as what I think was one of the most unique conferences I’ve been privileged to not just speak at, but even attend – culminate. It was xPotomac; the brainchild of Geoff Livingston, who previously gave the DC area another great conference series, Blog Potomac, and Patrick Ashamalla. Since BP shut its doors, we have dearly lacked a conference (or unconference, if you prefer) of that nature.

Image: Isabel Saldarriaga via Twitter

It’s not the the DC area is lacking in conferences for our industry; far from it. In fact, these days you can’t move five feet without hitting some kind of conference, or happy hour, or tweetup, or something or other of the kind. But many of them are, in my opinion, very similar in nature, and I have not, for some years, felt the same level of excitement as I did previously for Blog Potomac and, recently, for xPotomac.

What made it different

Well, xP was terrific. I’m not going to do a post-mortem; more than enough has been written about it. Joanna Pineda did a wonderful video interview of Geoff at the event, Tinu Abayomi-Paul Storify’d it beautifully, and Mike Schaffer, Jamie Notter, Jay Daughtry, KiKi L’Italien, and Sohini Baliga have all provided extremely interesting and thought-provoking POVs. Here’s a lovely collection of photos of the day from Eventifier.

The one thing that everyone noticed, and commented on – and was our aim with the conference – was the high quality of interaction and conversation between everyone in an extremely intimate space. That is what is lacking from most conferences these days. It wasn’t a conference where speakers were speaking to the audience; they (we) spoke with them, and spent much more time hearing from them than vice versa.

A mini-storm in a micro-teacup

If you followed the Twitter stream, or even if you read some of the posts, you’ll have noticed references to Andrew Keen’s (the closing keynote’s) negativity. The focus of that negativity? Me.

You see, I closed my presentation (on social scoring) and kicked off the Q&A by reminding folks of how Dino Dogan (Triberr founder and someone who is just as effervescent IRl as he is on the screen) had closed a piece he’d written on xP prior to the event:

“When attendees could easily be the speakers, you know this conference will be the tits.”

And Andrew took exception to that. No, great “offense.” Because he’s the author of The Cult of the Amateur. So, staying true to form, he was offended by the notion (or comment) that anyone in the audience could have been a speaker.

Taking offense

So he then proceeded to lay into me. Twice. Four times if you count the additional two times he asked me my name (and still couldn’t get it right). I answered politely and sat quietly, though I was somewhat shaky internally. Occasionally I checked, and responded to, the Twitter stream, which was buzzing with outrage. And I have to tell you, that, as well as the outpouring of affection and support after the event meant a lot to me.

I was so, so tempted to try and rebut what he’d said during the Q&A, but frankly, I didn’t think it was worth it. Because the conversation by then had moved on to other elements. So I kept quiet and joined everyone in a hearty round of applause once Andrew had finished speaking.

The reality

After we cleaned up, and before the last few of us stragglers headed to the post-event happy hour, I saw that Andrew was sitting at one of the tables, working on his computer. I walked up to him and said, “I’m sorry I offended you, but thank you for coming to speak to us.” After all, I was one of the organizers, and it would have been extremely boorish of me not to thank him.

He looked at me, grinned, and said, “You didn’t offend me.” Twice. And then said, “I enjoyed your speech very much.”

I laughed, and said, “I know,” the first time he told me I hadn’t really offended him. And said goodbye, and went on to the happy hour.

Now, I don’t know if he really did enjoy my presentation or not, but instinctively I had known I hadn’t really offended him. I’ve never met the man before; had no interaction with him whatsoever; and while he is extremely opinionated and didactic, he also seems a mostly fair person. So how could I possibly have offended him, when we’d never come across each other before?

Being the hook

All I was, was a hook. A hook for him to kick off his remarks, and a bright one at that, dressed as I was in a black skirt and peach jacket (which he incorrectly called “pink”). It was not fun being made the butt of the closing keynote’s wrath, real or not… but all I did was serve a “higher purpose.”

Everyone has their own way of presenting, and the hooks they use. Their styles are different, and that’s why it’s interesting to see a range of speakers. Even though I was his hook, I’m not scarred for life (though I was for about a day), and if I saw Andrew in an airport, I would certainly say “hello” to him. I think it was terrific that Geoff was able to get him to close xP; I might otherwise never have heard him speak, and I’m glad I did.

But am I going to rush out and buy his books, or stand in line to see him speak (again)? Unlikely. And I think if you polled the attendees, most would say the same.

Civility builds community

I’m not a barfshiner, and I certainly don’t think social media’s impact on our world and lives is all sunshine and roses. But regardless of how erudite, or “famous,” or in demand one is, civility doesn’t go out of style.

Because at the end of the day, who would you rather be with/hear from/learn from: someone who you watched use the proverbial bully pulpit to be just that, or someone who was gentler in their approach?

I know my answer. What’s yours?

Reflections on xPotomac, Civility, and Being a Hook is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?

Reflections on xPotomac, Civility, and Being a Hook

Celebrating Women’s History Month

This post is by Karelyn Lambert from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Silhouette of Woman For a lot of us, the signature holiday in March is St. Patrick’s Day (are you getting ready to wear your green?).  However, March is an important month for women all over the world for quite a different reason: it’s Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month aims to celebrate empowered women around the world and recognize their contributions to society.  Now we’ve all heard of the usual suspects such as Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, and Maya Angelou…

But what about the unsung women heroes in our everyday lives?

The mom who single-handedly work, raise their children, and manage to put warm meals on the table every night. The grandmoms who teach young women important lessons, or devote time to improving their local communities. The daughters who fight for their mothers’ and grandmothers’ lives.

We should celebrate inspiring women every day; not just for a month. But we can at least start by recognizing them over a month, can’t we?

Some of you know I recently started working with Shonali as her virtual assistant. Well, I’m excited to share my first project with you: getting to know those of you who are fans of our Facebook Page a little better, and learning about the women who inspire you. I’m a little nervous, since this is my first big project for her… but I’m excited too!

Starting today, and through the month of March, we are asking you to post photos of the women who inspire you to our Facebook Page. Tell us who they are, and why they inspire you. They don’t have to be famous – we want to get to know the women in your lives and, through them, you! This is our Facebook Page cover photo for March:

SBC Facebook Cover with five silhouettes

And every week, one of these silhouettes you see will be replaced with the photo of a real woman, with a real story, told by one of you. By the end of March, we hope to know the stories of the many wonderful women in your lives… and five of them will be our “cover girls!”

So… whose story will you tell? Please leave us a note below, and make sure to head over to our Facebook Page to share their photo *and* story. We’re looking forward to it!

Celebrating Women’s History Month is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Karelyn Lambert
Karelyn Lambert
Virtual Assistant
Karelyn Lambert is a virtual assistant and self-proclaimed geek who is also into fishing and cooking (she makes a mean jambalaya), and is based in the Metro New Orleans area. She and her husband are the proud parents of four kids: three human, and Chimmi the Chiweenie. With Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.as one of her clients, as one of her clients, Karelyn is fast learning why she should always use the Oxford comma.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Taking Your Blog Post Series on the Road

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Open stretch of highway leading into the horizon Guest post by Nick Kellet 

Innovation often comes from combining or subtracting or inverting existing ideas or processes. This process is well articulated in Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko.

Image Credit: Nicholas_T via Flickr, CC 2.0

There’s lots of great examples, but here are four:

  • Combine: gas engine + battery power = hybrid car
  • Subtract: remove the keyboard from a Blackberry and you get an iPhone.
  • Add: Add more screen to an iPhone and you get an iPad.
  • Invert: Priceline. You name your price and the hotel picks you.

So, when it comes to blogging and guest posts, it should be no surprise that these two can be combined to create a good effect. You can place a series of blog posts on disparate blogs as guest posts.  It’s a simple, effective, and scalable way of creating reach and exposure for your brand.


Image by Visually

There’s a lot of value for everyone involved.

  • Blog series provide real value by making your content more accessible and to a different audience;
  • Guest posts give you an outreach mechanism and help create back links to raise the authority of your blog; and
  • You can link back to the different blogs inside each post as well.

There’s not much more to it. It’s a very simple idea. It may take a little more organizing than placing a single guest blog post, but the effort pays off.

This post is, in fact, part of a series of guest blog posts that happen to be on the topic of “Blog Post Series.”  You can’t describe an idea without putting it into action.  And so this post is just that – a guest blog post in a series on the “Topic of Blog Post Series.”  The other posts are listed here. You can extend the list at any time, so you don’t need to worry about getting agreement from different blogs to host all of your content before you begin.

Of course, while we’re in innovation mode, there’s another inversion you could try.

A multi-author blog post series

Create a series and invite other bloggers to write their own post on their personal blog. Sometimes, this is called a “blogging carnival.” This is essentially a distributed blog post series where the bloggers post on their own blogs. The main value of both examples is that you are coaxed to connect with other bloggers.

The upside here is simple. Multiple bloggers to collaborate on cross-promoting the content. Guest post and blog post series are a great way to make friends.

So what’s stopping you? What variation can you dream up? 

Picture of Nick KelletNick Kellet is co-founder of the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts. Connect with Nick on TwitterLinkedinFacebook and G+, and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at NickKellet.com and blog.list.ly.

Taking Your Blog Post Series on the Road is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Taking Your Blog Post Series on the Road

5 Community Management Tips on Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

visualizing community managers as a treeIn addition to being Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD for all you hashtag fiends), today is also the day:

Also a ton of other stuff – after all, we wouldn’t be at this point in our history if a LOT of things hadn’t happened on “this day,” every day… but right now let’s focus on #CMAD.

Image: geektasticlondon via Flickr, CC 2.0

Marketwire and TheCommunityManager.com asked community managers about what they do, how they do it, and where they see the future of community management going… and then put all the answers together in an eBook.

Now, definitions aside, I think community building (and, therefore, the management thereof) is one of the biggest differences between “old” and “new” PR. I talked about it at What’s Next DC a few years ago, and it’s a tactic I used very successfully in the Blue Key campaign that I worked on for USA for UNHCR, and what really helps to put the “public” back in “public relations.”

So I was very interested to see what some of the answers were. Among my faves:

“Social media managers are ‘the mic,’ while community managers are ‘the DJ’. One is a master at pumping up the volume, while the other activates voices and mixes them together in rhythm.” (on the difference between social media managers and community managers) ~ Ryan Rutan, Jive Software.

“These departments are inextricably linked. They’re like cheeseburgers and French fries. Sure, you can have one without the other, but why would you want to?” (on the relationship between customer service and the community) ~ Jenne Pedde, 2U, Inc., and TheCommunityManager.com (and also who was terrific to work with when I got to hear of Eat Your Serial).

“When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. Always question, take the time to analyze, don’t rush in.” (on lessons learned and also, coincidentally, a fave Casa Burke saying) ~ Blaise Grimes-Vort, eModeration.

“The biggest lesson I have learned is to always have a crisis plan in place.” (also on lessons learned) ~ Ebony Hillsman, The Creative Protocol.

“You’re going to fail a lot. That’s ok. Don’t be afraid. Embrace it… Communities don’t happen overnight and you don’t need a grand strategy to make it work. Just start by genuinely caring and talking to one person, then two, then three, etc.” (on advice for new community managers) ~ David Spinks, Feast (and personally one of my favorite people in the world).

Have a read through the entire ebook. You may find opinions you agree or disagree with, but I doubt you will not learn at least one thing that will help you do your job better.

And isn’t that worth five-to-10 minutes of your time?

5 Community Management Tips on Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is Principal and Grand Poobah at Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves bacon, cooking, dogs, ABBA and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?

5 Community Management Tips on Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD

Facebook: Improving Employee Communications?

This post is by Ancita Satija from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Bunker Six Degrees PR

Whether you want to go for coffee, meet a friend or keep yourself posted on your friends’ birthdays, Facebook is where today’s generation updates each other by sharing the minutest details of their lives on the platform.

Today, though, Facebook isn’t so much about friends, family or clients who are trying to connect with today’s generation.

Today, even employers are making a move to connect with their younger workers through the platform.

Case in point: me

I was surprised to get a Facebook request from my company (Six Degrees PR) to join its Page named “Six Degrees PR bunker.”  I never thought that any company would step up to connect and engage with its employees through a private Facebook Page – this was quite a surprise to me.

What fascinated me the most about the Page was that barring the Managers and the Directors, all the Account Coordinators, Executives and Senior Account Executives were invited to join the Page.

I believe that the idea behind creating this Page was to get the employees under one platform to engage with them and understand their needs and concerns. While the Managers and Directors can’t access the page, it is accessible by the Owner and Co-Founder of the company, so that they can listen, engage and act.

Listen, engage and act is the mantra for successful campaigns, successful leaders and successful organizations!

An organization’s strength lies in its people. And if an organization listens to its people, it will always be successful!

This initiative by my company has helped break down barriers between team members in different cities. Everyone seemed to be engaging with each other through the Six Degrees PR bunker page.

Here’s a sneak peek into the Bunker family:

Six Degrees PR Bunker

And not only does it help different teams engage with each other, but it also provides a platform to connect and engage with top management directly.

A bridge too far?

However, while I felt the initiative was great, I also noticed that employees were reluctant to share all their concerns on the Facebook Page, since top management had access to all the content.

Of course, this is why organizations often use platforms such as Yammer for employee engagement, creating internal or private social networks, as it were.

I just find it ironic that what is currently the world’s largest social network can successfully connect strangers across the globe… but not employees of the same organization.

What do you think: will Facebook ever successfully bridge the gap between employers and employees? Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know.

Facebook: Improving Employee Communications? is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Ancita Satija
Ancita Satija
Account Executive at Six Degrees PR
Ancita Satija has a Masters degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from the Xavier Institute of Communications, one of India’s best school for communications & media studies. With a keen interest in social media, she blogs regularly at In My Humble Opinion...; other passions include singing (professionally trained for over a decade!), reading and traveling. Learn more about Ancita via her About.me page.

Facebook: Improving Employee Communications?

How To Grow Your Facebook Community

This post is by Howie Goldfarb from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

how to build communityThis post will depress all the Facebook Ninjas who’ve drunk the Facebook Koolaid.

Image via niallkennedy on Flickr, CC 2.0

I have been working with a new client since July. They are a service business. One that could have a vibrant Facebook community, if they could just get to that point.

It is a new business with no name recognition apart from the founders… and that too, just in their industry. The founders are industry heavyweights, with incredible backgrounds.

But their Facebook Page has just 23 fans so far. Three of those are my two Facebook accounts, and the third is that of my partner. And I post great content, and often.

So why doesn’t the business have more fans?

1. With eight franchises in two states and many people working at the company, I am not sure if they asked their employees, friends and family of employees to “like” the page. Or none felt they wanted to Like it after they were asked.

2. Facebook does not allow you to contact people outside your own network unless you have an email list (unlike Twitter). We have some lists and sent out some invites (to around 350 people).

The invites are canned requests that give no reason to Like the page other than, “Hey, we’re another one of your vendors that wishes you would talk to us on Facebook!”

We got zero Likes.

3. Most of the Likes we have are from people I connected with on Twitter on behalf of the client.  The problem is: if I follow you on Twitter, why should I also follow you on Facebook? I hate those DMs one is constantly getting to do so.

Now, you can post content on Facebook and crosspost it to Twitter, so that people who click see you have a page and, hopefully, Like it.

But that is extremely tedious work, not to mention sometimes people get upset if they click on a link that takes them to Facebook.

So what can you do?

1. Make sure that on your invoices, website, dealings with customers, marketing literature, email signatures, etc. you show you have a Page.

2. Ask friends, family, employees to Like the page. Ask your customers – directly – to Like the Page.

3. Pay for a Facebook ad campaign that targets the most likely prospects (who you think will convert to customers).

4. Run traditional advertising campaigns, and include either a call to action, or show the link, for the Facebook Page. You can easily set up an App on the page that gives coupons, or runs a contest for minimal investment (under $100 for two weeks). Wildfire is one of the many companies that offer third party apps.

On your Facebook Page you have two options for coupons:

This is from the Apps area (and it’s worth re-reading Shonali’s earlier post on making the most of the Facebook Apps):

This is from the status update box:

5. Have a product, service, business that will make it more natural for people to find you as they are conducting searches.

In our case, the client is not a coffee shop or retailer, so this is a real challenge until they have greater name recognition.

What about organic growth?

Since I have no additional support, I am finding growth hard. Why? Because the network is flawed.

Your posts do not get seen by everyone. People are already inundated with posts from brands; why would they want to see yours? And recent changes have made organic in-network growth almost impossible.

So should you decide to not have a Facebook presence? No; just the opposite.

It is free to have a Page. It’s very easy to post some decent content twice a day. And while creating content takes time, finding content takes about 15-20 minutes a day.

Now you have a bulletin board that anyone can see, and come and ask questions on, so it is a simple and free customer service platform. The Page will show up in Google search results. Sometimes people will reach out on Facebook because they a) don’t want to give you their email address, or b) it’s not urgent enough for them to make a phone call.

Finally, if you are not consistently active, they will not Like the Page. If I see you posted just three times in the last two months, why would I come to your page?

The truth is, to grow a Facebook community you must bring people from outside Facebook into your Page. But once you start growing your community, you will find many benefits to your business, especially now that social media allows your customers to participate in your business directly on a personal level.

Remember that old saying, “Know your customer”? Well, now you can do that much more easily, and they will know you better as well.

How To Grow Your Facebook Community is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Howie Goldfarb
Vice President of Marketing & Strategy at Web Choice Consulting
Howie Goldfarb is Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Strategy at Web Choice Consulting, a full service integrated marketing and Internet agency. He had a 14-year career in direct B2B industrial sales before deciding to lighten up his dreary work life and move into advertising/marketing. He has a CFO's view of marketing, bringing a dose of reality to the confusing world of jargon, spin, and hype. He currently lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont and is still seeking his first moose sighting.

How To Grow Your Facebook Community

The 5 Commandments of How to Raise $1Million on Kickstarter

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Tipp_KickGuest post by Christopher Wallace

Let’s go back in time five years to 2007.

You’ve got a great idea to build a watch with built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to control and access your phone or tablet from your wrist. Unfortunately, you’re a relatively broke hobby designer working a 9 to 5 IT job.

How do you proceed? Call up your rich uncle and ask him to back you? Go to the bank and apply for a loan?

Five years ago, any method of raising capital for a project would generally require a substantial profit share once the product came to fruition.

Image by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Flickr: Kick-Tipp) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

That’s no longer the case.

By now, most people with an Internet connection have at least heard of Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced fundraising site that began in 2008 (and is now joined by a host of other competitor platforms).

The concept is simple: a budding entrepreneur or artist creates a video explaining their idea for a product or project and posts it to the website (like Dan Cohen did).

They set a monetary goal they want to reach, with different tiers of donations and corresponding “rewards” to donors. If they reach their goal within the time frame they set, then all of the money goes into the bank account of the creator, minus a 5% fee to Kickstarter. In the event that they don’t reach their goal, none of the donors’ credit cards are charged.

Now, until about a year ago, Kickstarter was the domain of garage bands and starving artists. Need $5,000 to get into a recording studio? Make a video and hawk it to the Facebook accounts of all your friends and family.

Then along came the Pebble. With their campaign last spring, the creators of a watch that syncs with smartphones managed to raise over $10 million dollars. When they began the campaign, they set a goal of $100,000.

What does this mean?

Well, if you’re Pebble, it means you’ll be making a lot more watches than you’d initially planned on, and although you’ll be paying Kickstarter a cool $500,000, you won’t ever have to pay off interest to the bank on a $10 million loan.

In a matter of months, Kickstarter has revolutionized the way that entrepreneurs big and small raise capital. There’s no longer any reason to give a financial backer a cut of your profits.

If your idea is good enough, consumers will pay in advance (but you have to give them a deal).

If you’ve got your own idea or are just looking to raise capital for your business, here are the basic ideals of running a Kickstarter campaign to get you started:

1. Be transparent

There’s no reason to hide the profits you stand to make. People who believe in your product want you to succeed, but mostly they just want your product at a discount.

Explain in your campaign why you’ve set your goal the figure you choose. What will that money go to? How much does it cost to make this happen?

2. Be professional

Nobody is going to believe in your idea if you present it poorly. Whether you’re a comic book artist or a tech geek, it’s crucial that your video and presentation be top notch.

Borrow or hire a professional camera and find someone who knows how to edit video. Draw out a storyline for your video before filming. Show your face in the video. Dress nicely and smile.

3. Be simple

Up until the Pebble, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date was the Hidden Radio, an intuitive speaker that wirelessly connects with tablets and phones and pumps out up to 80 decibels of sound, all in the size of a can of soda.

The speaker’s Kickstarter campaign raised $938,000, just shy of $1 million, after setting an initial goal of $125,000. Because the product was attractive and well-explained in simple, layman’s terms, people understood it and immediately wanted it.

In the four-minute videos, the creators explained only what needed to be said, nothing more. People bought it up in droves.

4. Be generous

Kickstarter is not a chance to ask for a handout. Just because your project is great, if you’re not a registered non-profit, think twice before plainly asking for free money.

Think of Kickstarter like a Groupon or daily deal – you’re asking people to pay in advance. Reward them with a significant discount over the price they’d pay if they waited until your product, album, or project is complete.

5. Be passionate

Whether you’re a playwright or a video game designer, if you believe in your product, that will show in your campaign. Don’t put up a Kickstarter campaign for anything that you’re not prepared to give 100 percent of your efforts to.

The most successful campaigns turn into full-time jobs for the creators. Best of all, they begin their business without crippling debt.

What ideas do you have that might raise $1 million on Kickstarter?

Christopher WallaceChristopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in custom pens and other promotional items such as calendars, laptop bags and T-shirts. Christopher regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

The 5 Commandments of How to Raise $1Million on Kickstarter is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

The 5 Commandments of How to Raise $1Million on Kickstarter

Sock Monkeys Against Cancer Reaches Tipping Point

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Jennifer with her mom LeslieWTF? (for lung cancer)

Earlier this month, Jennifer Stauss Windrum wrote a moving guest post on her campaign to generate awareness around lung cancer.

If you haven’t yet read it, please do go read it, because she tells her story much better than I ever could.

Long story short, her mom contracted lung cancer without ever having smoked. She is dying from this disease – yes, dying. And despite the pain and heartbreak both of them and their family and friends have been/are going through, they decided to raise awareness around the disease, which is the top cancer killer in the U.S. yet, ironically, the least-funded.

Photo of Jen & her mom courtesy Jennifer Stauss Windrum, used with permission

From WTF? to SMAC!

Outside of the WTF? site Jen created, she was inspired to create a line of sock monkeys that could be given to cancer patients (not just lung cancer patients), as a way for them to remember they are loved and held dear in someone’s heart… just as Jen’s mom felt she was when Jen gave her a couple of sock monkeys as a way to know she was in Jen’s heart, even when they were not physically near.

I’m very happy to report that on Nov. 21 – the day before we celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S. – the crowdfunded campaign to bring Sock Monkeys Against Cancer to cancer patients “tipped” … i.e. the costs to produce and ship 500 sock monkeys is covered, in addition to certain other costs.

Sock Monkeys Against Cancer - SMAC

Now Jen is just $6.5K-ish short of her overall goal – $35K. This will cover the costs associated with producing and shipping a second batch of 500 sock monkeys as well as other costs, e.g. various fees, etc.

We – I say “we” because Jen has truly created a tribe around her mom’s battle with this horrendous disease, and that tribe is largely funneled through social media, which is quite remarkable – are so close. There are 5 days to go before the campaign comes to an end (Nov. 30).

I can’t even imagine what it’s like to go through this. I don’t know if I’d have the strength for it. I mean, can you imagine saying “goodbye” to your mom like this?

So please, would you help?

If you have a few extra bucks to spare, perhaps you could support the campaign, with as little as $10.

Or you could share the site (or this post) with some family, friends and colleagues.

Or you could do both.

I know we’re constantly asked to do, share, give… especially as the holiday season kicks into high gear. The appeals will get more and more insistent, the drumbeats will get louder and louder.

And there are many, many worthwhile causes out there for you to support.

But if anything we here at WUL have ever written/done/said/sung (!) that has touched you or inspired you in some way, then please would you consider supporting the SMAC campaign? We’d be ever so grateful.

Thank you!

Sock Monkeys Against Cancer Reaches Tipping Point is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Sock Monkeys Against Cancer Reaches Tipping Point

Launching a SMAC!Down: Sock Monkeys Against Cancer

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

NoMo the SMAC! leader

Guest post by Jennifer Windrum

NoMo is the ringleader of “SMAC! – Sock Monkeys Against Cancer”, a gang of monkeys that provides tangible support to those with cancer, reminding them no one fights it alone.

Right now, NoMo is just a prototype.

But, with your help, NoMo and his SMAC! buddy, Phoenix, can soon be in the hands of those with/impacted by cancer to help them SMAC! it, by pledging your financial support here.

(Check-writer only? See bottom of this post for details).

Funds pledged to my SMAC! campaign on the Start Some Good crowdfunding platform are used to launch my startup – the SMAC! Sock Monkeys Against Cancer product line, which so far includes two SMAC! monkey prototypes:

- NoMo, the ALL cancer fighting monkey

- Phoenix, the “WTF? (Where’s the Funding) for Lung Cancer?” fighting monkey

NoMo and Phoenix

I have one month to raise approximately $35,000 to launch the SMAC! monkey product line (November 1-30). You get some sweet rewards for pledging. Check them out here.

My ultimate goal: Create a custom monkey for each type of cancer.

My ultimate dream: Anyone diagnosed with cancer gets a SMAC! monkey from their hospital.

The Big Why

This whole entrepreneurial endeavor isn’t just about some random monkeys and attaching cancer to their name. It’s about my Mom… and too many others like her.

The SMAC! monkey line was inspired by my Mom, Leslie Lehrman, who was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer six years ago. No, she never smoked. Anyone can get lung cancer (‘nother whole story).

Leslie snoozing with NoMo and Phoenix

Cancer can be a very lonely existence. Family and friends can’t always be there.

My Mom lives more than 1,200 miles away, making her appointments, tests, scan results and treatments that much harder for both of us.

This is why I created SMAC! - to give Mom a “buddy” she could hug to remind her that I am with her.

It’s hard for me to describe how my boys (NoMo and Phoenix) make me feel. I look into their little eyes and they just make my heart melt. It may sound silly, but when I get up, I say ‘good morning’ to them too. They just make me happy…even on my darkest days.

-Leslie Lehrman (Mom)

Mom has taken her SMAC! monkeys everywhere – to chemo, doctor appointments and to the couch for some much needed rest (and snuggle time). She says they are now part of the family.

SMAC! Nation

Mom and I want to build “SMAC! Nation,” a global movement in the fight against cancer that arms those with/impacted by this dang disease with cancer-crushing companions of the sock monkey kind.

SMAC! Nation

With YOUR help, SMAC! Nation will be built with great philanthropic purpose, with giving at the heart of it all.

The SMAC! Mission

Tangible support: Provide constant comfort, sock monkey “mojo” and a cancer-busting buddy to those moving through their cancer journey.

Giving: “One SMAC! = Two” Business Model: When you buy a SMAC! monkey, one will be given to someone with cancer (model to go into action the minute the company can financially sustain it).

Create social change: By giving to those impacted by cancer, you will also be contributing to advances in cancer research and programs (model to go into action the minute the company can financially sustain it).

So, doing good to create good – all bundled together in one package.

Mom with NoMo and Phoenix at chemo

Corporate Giving

Following the implementation of One SMAC = Two, my next giving goal is to direct steady SMAC! corporate funds to the following:

National Coalition of Oncology Nurse Navigators: Professional organization that supports oncology nurse navigators assist patients and families to receive essential support services that help ease the burdens during cancer treatment.

Liz’s Legacy at the UNMC Eppley Cancer CenterOne of 66 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers in the U.S. Funds will be directed to lung cancer research.

I’m a huge advocate for ensuring people understand where their money is going when they give to any cause.

Jane and NoMo going for a spin

Conscious Capitalism

Yes, there is such a thing as conscious capitalism and I’m a big believer. “SMAC! Sock Monkeys Against Cancer” will operate under Jennifer Windrum Inc. as a socially conscious, for-profit company.

A good and successful example of combining a for-profit with a social mission is TOMS Shoes. Like TOMS, SMAC! is more than just a product. It’s a movement that inspires people to want to help – to want to give – to want to be part of a larger mission to do good.

Please know I will be open, honest and forthcoming about where your SMAC! dollars go throughout the startup process and beyond.

Little SMAC!-ers spreading the word!

Join the movement

For kids and adults alike, the SMAC! monkeys are ready to get down the business.

Join the movement! Help bring NoMo and Phoenix to life to help you and/or your loved ones SMAC! cancer. Pledge here!

Pledge today!

PS: if you only feel comfortable pledging by writing a check, you can send a check to the following (needs to arrive by November 28th):

Gothenburg State Bank
Leslie Lehrman SMAC! Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 81
Gothenburg, NE 69138
Please add a sticky note: “To be deposited into account # 944041”

Those who write a checks are, unfortunately, not eligible for campaign rewards, but you will still help send SMAC! monkeys to cancer patients at the Nebraska Medical Center.

PPS: Feel free to hang out with the SMAC! monkeys online. They kinda think they are social media super stars.

All images courtesy and used with permission from Jennifer Windrum

Jennifer WindrumJennifer Windrum is a public relations professional and social entrepreneur who, in October of 2009, launched a very personal and politically incorrect movement called “WTF” (Where’s the Funding) for Lung Cancer? to chronicle her mom’s battle with lung cancer and increase awareness and funding for the top-yet-least-funded cancer killer. By helping Jennifer launch the SMAC! sock monkey line, you will help her get closer to her long term dream, where every hospital can give SMAC! monkeys to those diagnosed with cancer.

You just read Launching a SMAC!Down: Sock Monkeys Against Cancer, originally posted on Waxing UnLyrical, published by Shonali Burke. If you enjoyed it, be sure to connect with Shonali on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Launching a SMAC!Down: Sock Monkeys Against Cancer

What PR Pros Can Learn From Social Good Campaigns

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

building an online communityGuest post by Harrison Kratz

Having been part of the WUL network for a couple years now, I can fully say that this community is no stranger to social good and giving back. Since I’ve met Shonali, we’ve been connected through a passion for social good, and using social to create movements around the globe.

Social good continues to evolve as a layer of our industry and advance the potential of charitable causes around the globe.

In the graphic below, you can see how social media’s impact on charitable giving has grown since the response to the Haiti Earthquake in 2010.

While online giving had been around before then, many attribute the widespread online response and communication to the earthquake as a watershed moment for social media’s influence on not only charitable causes, but also our daily lives as well.

Moving forward, it’s important for communications professionals to look at social good organizations and campaigns as case studies and examples in how to build community and vocal support for their own organizations.

As I’ve experienced, understanding the community that is built through social good and how it can be activated is essential for any communicator.

To get a jump start on seeing how social campaigns are built and the impact they can make, check out the infographic below that my fellow Tar Heels at MPA@UNC created to highlight the evolution and several major success stories (including my Tweet Drive) of social good.

Social Media For Social Good

What social good campaigns have stuck out to you or would you add to this graphic?

Harrison KratzHarrison Kratz is the Community Manager for MBA@UNC, one of the top mba programs online from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Harrison is also the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.

You just read What PR Pros Can Learn From Social Good Campaigns, originally posted on Waxing UnLyrical, published by Shonali Burke. If you enjoyed it, be sure to connect with Shonali on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

What PR Pros Can Learn From Social Good Campaigns

To Happy Hour or Not to Happy Hour: That is the Question

This post is by Matt LaCasse from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

happy hourTwitter rabbit holes can easily claim 20 minutes of my day. I click on one interesting link someone tweets out, and the next thing I know I’m on the HR blog at Ragan.com ranting in my office.

I came across this post the other day. The basic premise of the article is that it is a bad idea for managers to attend a non-work-related happy hour with their subordinates.

While I see the point, I wholeheartedly disagree.

This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. As a manager, you have to know if your authority will be compromised by attending these functions, and if so, you shouldn’t attend. However, I’ve had several managers in the past that I gained MORE respect for by having a drink or three with them at an impromptu happy hour after work.

You see, we often wear “masks” at the office, or in our professional lives in general. We have a certain role to be filled, and (depending on the office) our personalities take a back seat.

How much do you really learn about someone in that setting? Not a whole lot.

On the other hand, attending some kind of social function (it doesn’t have to be happy hour) with your co-workers, including managers, that isn’t work-related in any way allows people to relax and just be themselves.

If you know a person outside of the confines of the office, you’re much more likely to understand why a manager is making that decision, or why an employee is challenging you on a specific issue.

It has potential to defuse situations inside the office because you’ve taken the time to get to know each other outside the office.

What do you think? Is it a good idea for managers and subordinates to hangout together outside of the office?

Image: Tjeerd Wiersma via Flickr CC 2.0

Matt LaCasseMatt LaCasse believes that finding the methods and channels customers and audiences use, and engaging with them in their comfort zone, is the key to effectively communicating with those groups on behalf of clients. He does social media management for  KimberMedia and does marketing/PR for @bgckids. He is a husband, Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs fan. He may, or may not, use humor as a defensive mechanism. He also blogs.

To Happy Hour or Not to Happy Hour: That is the Question

Do Giving Contests Work? Yes, Say Razoo & Case Foundation

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Give to the Max DayThere’s an interesting white paper out today, issued jointly by the Case Foundation and Razoo Foundation, and authored by Geoff Livingston (disclosure: he’s a friend), titled How Giving Contests can Strengthen Nonprofits and Communities.

It examines whether “giving days” – such as last year’s Give to the Max DC, which used gamification to give additional awards to the nonprofits and donors that raised the most money – can strengthen nonprofit communities.


“The report seeks to show how a giving day contest impacts a metropolitan area’s nonprofit community. In particular, can these contests provide a financial boost during tough economic times, strengthen relationships between donors and nonprofits, and serve as an online capacity-building moment for participating nonprofits, all while strengthening the general nonprofit sector?

“Or are they another giving gimmick that fatigues donors and distracts nonprofits from vital mission-based activities?”

In a nutshell: yes.

You might remember my telling you about my participation in the event (though I couldn’t do as much as I would have liked to, since I was recovering from surgery), and I found myself nodding as I read some of the findings:

  • 96% of donors said they were more likely to give additional monies to their nonprofits as a result of their participation in the day;
  • 84% of nonprofit survey said the pre-event training day – which was a key component of the initiative – increased their ability to interact and fundraise online; and
  • including prize money, Give to the Max Day raised $2 million for 1,200 nonprofits from 18,000 donors on the day itself (November 9, 2011).

So G2MD did everything it set out to do. Sure, it didn’t raise the whopping more than $13 million that Give to the Max Minnesota did last year. But like everything else, that has to be taken in context; this was the first time such an initiative had been rolled out in the DC area, and the other state/regional giving events have been in existence for a few years.

Everything grows with time; for a first-time initiative, I find this impressive.

Time and training are critical

the Give to the Max flash mobOne of the core components of the event was a training day organized for participating nonprofits in addition to seven half-day “bootcamps” around the area. The point was to ensure that the nonprofits were as well-prepared for the giving day as they could be and help them figure out how to build capacity, which is critical for incorporating social fundraising into a nonprofit’s DNA.

Eighty-four percent of the nonprofits felt that the training increased their ability to interact and fundraise online, with 72% saying they’d be able to apply lessons learned through the contest to their ongoing work.

You can’t do this type of thing (successfully, at least) without spending time on it. And guess what? The nonprofits that spent more time on their campaigns did better.

Sixty-two percent of the nonprofits that spent 10-30 hours on their events raised $2,500 or more; whereas only 23% of those that spent 10 hours or less raised $2,500 or more.

Donor acquisition and building community

Nonprofit organizations know that they have to balance their short- and long-term fundraising; it’s great when a one-off campaign works well, but the key is ti acquire donors that will sustain over time. And when they use social media to build community, and then gradually convert that community into donors, they’re being really smart.

  • Of the $2 million raised for area non-profits, more than $1.8 million came from individual donations – that’s huge!
  • 24% of donors heard about the day via an email from a friend (which is exactly the kind of thing we hope to see if we can get our community energized)
  • 58% of the nonprofits recruited new donors
  • 96% of surveyed donors said they’d give more money in the future to participating nonprofits

There are some really interesting case studies in the report, including a breakdown of how gamification was used to encourage participation and fundraising, so you should read it, particularly if you work for or with nonprofits.

My $0.02

These kinds of giving days can be a boon or a curse for your organization. If you don’t take the time to prepare and really put some thought into how you’ll approach it, you’ll find yourself scrambling at the last minute.

I don’t think there was anything more Razoo could have done to help the participating nonprofits prepare for the event. And while I don’t mean to be all cranky, if the NPs that didn’t do well didn’t spend the time on preparing for the event… well, they have only themselves to blame.

This kind of event is really a gift to area nonprofits, so if you plan to participate this year (I’m not sure when the event is, but I’m sure it will be announced soon), don’t take it lightly. If you work it, it could be a huge opportunity for your organization not just to raise funds, but to build your donor base that will stay with you over the long haul.

Do Giving Contests Work? Yes, Say Razoo & Case Foundation

12 Tips to Organize and Run a Tweetathon

This post is by Shonali Burke from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Me and my Blue KeyMany of you are familiar with the Blue Key campaign that I’ve been working on since last year for my client, USA for UNHCR.

There are so many things I’ve learned during the course of this campaign – about blogger outreach, about measurement and analytics, about Facebook Groups, about community building – there are probably a ton of posts waiting to be written.

Photo of me and my Blue Key courtesy Razoo

So I figured I’d start with a post on one of our most successful tactics that helped achieve the 2011 goal for the campaign: tweetathons.


The very first tweetathon we held was on June 13, 2011. It came together rather quickly – in about a week – and what I loved most about it was that it was a Blue Key Champion-generated idea (I’d wanted to do something like this even before we started the campaign, but I knew it wouldn’t work until we’d built a community).

But when the Champions suggested doing this, you didn’t need to ask me twice! That first tweetathon was so successful (169% increase in web traffic and more than half the key purchases that week came from the tweetathon), that we decided to do them as often as possible. So, with Champion buy-in, we did four more tweetathons last year; one each, September through December.

12 tips on planning and running a successful tweetathon

Beth KanterBeth Kanter (also a Blue Key Champion) did a terrific case study on our use of Analytics back in August, and there’s quite a bit about the tweetathon in there. So I’ll pick up where she left off.

If anyone is not familiar with a tweetathon, it is basically a telethon type event that is held over Twitter. When done right, they can be great tools for significantly increasing awareness as well as generating “real” results.

1. Decide your hashtag

This may seem self-evident, but often it’s not. If you have a hashtag you’ve been using frequently to drive attention to your cause/campaign, use that, instead of creating a new hashtag.

Why? There is already a level of familiarity built into that hashtag. Use that to your advantage.

2. Get your community on board before the tweetathon

As I mentioned earlier, I’d had the idea of doing a tweetathon-style “event” when we were first planning our strategy. But we didn’t push it early on for two reasons:

Gumby with Blue Key

  • The hashtag (#bluekey) needed to gain traction
  • We needed our Champions to get on board with the idea… after all, we needed people to “staff” the tweetathon, right?

Image of Gumby with the Blue Key courtesy Sean McGinnis

Once the hashtag had started gaining traction – thanks in no small part to the efforts of our Champions, who were blogging, tweeting and Facebooking their hearts out – we slowly started building a community of people who were familiar with the hashtag and refugee issues.

And in December, #bluekey was trending in DC.

the #bluekey December '11 tweetathon trended in DC

And the most important of these? The Champions. So when they came up with the idea of doing a tweetathon, I knew it would work, because they were invested in the success of the campaign.

3. Plan it like it’s your wedding

Twitter is so free-flowing, it’s easy to underestimate – or completely discount – the amount of planning that goes into pulling off a successful event such as a tweetathon.

third-party endorsement for the #bluekey

We were fanatical in our planning. We set up schedule documents with time slots to be filled out, one for each hour (our tweetathons ran 9 am – 9 pm ET), and asked the Champions to sign up at least for an hour, if they could.

We also created:

  • “how to participate in the tweetathon” documents, complete with instructions on Twitter chats,
  • informational documents on USA for UNHCR and refugee issues (including key statistics and “news they could use”), and
  • a separate tweetathon “guide” for each such event, that linked to relevant documents. It also included a few sample tweets (particularly useful for those Champions who wanted to schedule tweets but might not be able to make the event in person).

4. Make sure your tweetathon is “staffed”

Adam Toporek's dog sporting the Blue KeyAs I said earlier, we asked the Champions to sign up for at least an hour for the tweetathons. This ensured we wouldn’t run into “dead air” on Twitter – yes, that can happen! – and as far as possible, we tried to get at least two Champions per time slot, so that they could talk to each other, and back each other up.

Photo courtesy Adam Toporek

In addition, I was “on” the entire time (you should have seen me at 9 pm at night, I was not a pretty sight), and later in the year, so was Rachael Seda, who has been working with me on the campaign.

Rachael and I played a supporting role, helping to RT our Champions’ tweets, and watching the tweetathon to make sure everything was working. This gave both the client and the Champions a level of confidence that someone had their back, so to speak.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

As we planned the tweetathon, we made sure to communicate the plans with the Champions; both in the Facebook Group that serves as a day-to-day communication mechanism for them, as well as via email when necessary. Sharing the schedule, “how-to” document, day-of guide… all these were communicated both ways.

During the tweetathon, we communicated tidbits and exciting “happenings” to the Champions in real time. For example, if we saw a significant key purchase come through. Or if someone sent out a really funny, or touching, tweet.

who loves the Blue Key?!

Funny as it might sound, we used the Facebook group to communicate about a Twitter event; and it worked terrifically well.

6. Pre-promote your tweetathon

Once we knew the schedule, who (if any) the special guest would be, we promoted the tweetathons as much as we could.

We posted announcements to the (periodic) Blue Key e-newsletters, the Blue Key blog (like this one), and we encouraged our Champions to spread the word as well. And we posted periodically, and then more frequently, on Twitter, about the upcoming event.

A great tip from Champion Betsy Decillis (paraphrased): If you have close contacts you think will support you, share this information with them beforehand. That makes it more likely that they will participate and take the actions you hope they will.

Now, following the first tweetathon, I started getting a lot of pitches from PR agencies and organizations to participate in similar events. Perhaps these work, but they didn’t for me, because either I didn’t have a relationship with the organizations, or a particular interest in the cause.

If you have the resource to blast-pitch people, you can try that (though it’s not an approach I advise at the best of times). Rather, I suggest you focus on reaching out to the people you’re connected to fairly closely, since they are most likely to want you to succeed.

When a tweetathon takes off, it can bring you new Champions, just like Jennifer Fong.

the Blue Key widget counter on Nov. 18, 20117. Have a goal … and communicate it

There’s that C word again. But it’s tough to do an event like a tweetathon and generate excitement if you don’t have a goal to shoot for. It might be X amount of money you’re trying to raise, or something else.

Props to Champion Tony Rivera and his team for creating this über-cool widget counter for the campaign… free!

In our case, we had a certain number of keys we were trying to get sold, so over the course of the tweetathon, we’d give our Champions periodic updates as to where we stood on the numbers.

Doing that helped get them more energized… because they didn’t just know what we were aiming for, they knew how far we were from it.

8. Have fun and be yourself

You can plan all you want, but I think what makes an event like a tweetathon fun is the surprise element that comes into play. Even though we gave our Champions a few sample tweets and the general outline of the day, we never insisted that they tweet a certain way.

As a result, some terrifically creative and, at times, hilarious, things happened. KiKi L’Italien spontaneously promised to film a video while she sang “Private Dancer.” Her challenge took off, and was met.

Betsy Decillis had us in stitches of laughter by the way she harassed encouraged people to buy keys.

Betsy Decillis and the Blue Key

Tinu Abayomi-Paul promised to crunk on camera if a certain number of keys were purchased (er, Tinu, I still haven’t seen that video…).

The point I’m making is that I couldn’t have predicted any of this happening, much less strong-armed the Champions into issuing challenges and what not. But as people get more “into” a tweetathon, as they get more invested in what you’re trying to do, they will come up with things like this.

And they’re all unique to who they are. And amazing fun.

9. Be available

Staffing a tweetathon is no joke; you’re going to want to put an out-of-office message on your email (or, at the very least, minimize how many times you check it during the event) and focus your energies on the event itself.

And that means you’ll have to be available to those participating in the event every which way you can. I’d get DMs, Facebook messages, emails, G-chat messages, text messages… and I had to make sure I answered them all.

Rachael even got Darius Rucker to support the Blue Key!Because it wasn’t about what I was comfortable doing, or how I was comfortable responding, but about what the Champions needed. So I made sure I (and, later, Rachael), was there. So be available and make sure your community/Champions know that.

Not during a tweetathon, but Rachael even got Darius Rucker to show his support for the Blue Key!

10. Track track track

I shared quite a bit about our analytics in Beth’s post, and the one thing I’m really happy we did early on was set up tracking URLs (via Google Analytics’ URL Builder tool) to three specific pages for each channel we’d be disseminating information in.

So, for example, we had three sets of tracking URLs for Twitter, three for Facebook, three for email, and so on.

We reminded the Champions to try and use the Twitter-specific URLs as much as possible. And they did, to the best of their abilities.

So when we looked at the analytics, we could see which channels were having the most impact. It’s really interesting if you do this over time; prior to the first tweetathon, for example, Twitter was nowhere near being a traffic leader. But after? Yup.

Blue Key analytics through Nov 18, 2011

(I know this image is tiny, I’m working within WUL theme constraints; if you click it, it will be legible in a new window.)

11. Variety is the spice of life, er, tweetathons

While the #bluekey tweetathons were primarily staffed by Champions, we tried to mix it up a bit by bringing a more structured “interview” format to the tweetathons for at least an hour.

Khaled HosseiniIn June, Roya Hosseini (wife of Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini; image courtesy USA for UNHCR) did a live Q&A (much like a regular Twitter chat) for an hour. She was terrific.

Other guests over the next few months included Sweet Rush and Andrew Purvis, who works in the field with UNHCR. All these guests brought a unique viewpoint to the discussion about what refugees go through and why this is an important cause to support.

In addition, we encouraged Champions to share photos, videos and as much multimedia as they could. You never know what’s going to grab your audience’s attention… to try as many ways as possible to do so.

12. Always Be Closing

A tweetathon can be a great way to raise awareness… but you want it to do something else as well, right? And that “something” is a tangible action that supports your end-objectives.

So as you’re watching the tweetathon unfold, stay alert for new people asking what the tweetathon’s about, how they can help, or people who are showing interest in the event.

Then @ them with the answer, and include the link via which they can take action. With the #bluekey tweetathons, for example, it was the link to get a key. And I like to think we did this aggressively enough, but not so aggressively as to turn them off.

My first real experience with tweetathons taught me so much, and hopefully this will be helpful to you too.

Do you have other tips to share for events of this nature? Do share, I know everyone would love to know… and I certainly would!

12 Tips to Organize and Run a Tweetathon

Managing Negative Comments in Social Media

This post is by Guest Contributor from Waxing UnLyrical

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

even angels can be negativeGuest post by Yvette Pistorio

If you work as a social media manager or online community manager you see these all the time … negative comments. When you see them you try at first to plan how to respond, but sometimes have a strong urge to react.

The best tip I can give: don’t take them personally. You’ll run out of energy if you do this.

Here are 6 more tips on how to manage negative comments:

Listen to what is being said.

Is it constructive criticism, a straight problem, or an attack? Deciding what the criticism is and understanding it will help determine your response.

Most customers who complain online don’t want to hurt your company. They just want someone to listen and help them with their problem so try and see what is behind the negative wording. Understand what the customer is saying instead of concentrating on how the words are being used

Respond quickly.

Don’t let negative comments linger. Responding quickly will let the naysayer know you’re listening and care, even if it’s just a “Sorry for the inconvenience, can we give you a call you to help solve your problem?”

The longer a negative comment goes without a response, the more credibility the comment acquires. So show the customer you are doing all you can to rectify the situation or at least acknowledge that you hear them.

Take it offline.

You can’t always gauge a customer’s tone online. Are they being sarcastic? How angry are they? The best way to determine this is to try and take the discussion offline. After you initially respond, offer your phone or e-mail address so they can contact you directly.

Be apologetic. 

Sometimes it’s best to take the “customer is always right” approach. Others will respect you if you apologize up front.

Know when to walk away.

My colleague Heidi Sullivan (quoting Jason Falls) said to me, “sometimes a turd is a turd.” Don’t get in a public fight over one complaint or a snide remark. It will only reflect poorly on you and your organization. If the comment is from a turd, your community will see them for what they are, and they will lose their credibility.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you aren’t sure how to respond to a comment, ask someone you know that has experience in dealing with customer complaints. This is something I still do on a regular basis. Sometimes I can’t come up with anything to say, or everything I come up with sounds bad, or I try to be funny and fail miserably, so I’ll send it to someone else and ask for their input.

The occasional complaint from a customer is inevitable, especially since social media has removed the filters that traditionally barred people from getting their views heard by the public.

However, when you show customers that you’re making an effort to hear them and acting on their feedback, it will go a long way toward turning that angry customer into an advocate.

So when you run into negative comments, handle them with speed and care.

Image: aaipodpics via Flickr, CC 2.0

Yvette PistorioYvette Pistorio is the social media manager for Cision, and a blogger for CisionBlog. She is a lover of cupcakes and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. You can find Yvette on Twitter.

Managing Negative Comments in Social Media