Paula Berg Interview

Paula Berg of Linhart PR is going to take the stage at Social Fresh Tampa as the keynote speaker.  Her background at Southwest Airlines and now with Linhart is going to provide a great personal experience into the role of social media in the corporate world.

I caught up with Paula a few days ago and she was gracious enough to share the following interview with me.


Your Background

Paula Berg

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Digital Media Leader at Linhart PR.

Paula Berg: In the late 90’s, while living in Austin, TX, I was dating someone who lived in another state, and we were spending so much money on airline tickets that we used to joke that one of us needed to go work for an airline. So I did. The boyfriend only lasted another year or so, but I spent nearly 10 years with Southwest Airlines in a variety of communication roles.

Then, in 2006, the responsibility of Southwest Airlines‘ social media efforts fell into my lap. I knew nothing about social media at the time – I didn’t read blogs, Twitter didn’t even exist, and I playfully mocked that same ex-boyfriend who was then on MySpace. But, with my new assignment, I had no choice but to make it part of my life. So I did the only reasonable thing. I locked myself in my office every night with a bottle of wine and tried to figure it out, and I was immediately hooked. Everyday provided a new lesson and a new challenge. And, my experiences forced me to completely rethink everything I thought I knew about corporate communications. More than blogging, Tweeting, or Facebooking, my role, as I saw it, was to slash through red tape and revolutionize the business of communication; to tear down outdated infrastructure to meet the needs of the changing environment.

When I began, it was just me and my buddy Brian Lusk managing on a blog in addition to our full time jobs. Over the course of four years, we built a seven person emerging media team with a simply but lofty mission: Complete integration of social media into every internal and external communication effort in a way that made sense for our Company and met Customer expectations. Social media became an integral part of everything from customer relations and employee communication to crisis management and revenue generation.

Then, in 2010, I made the very difficult decision to leave my favorite airline to return to Colorado, the state that I always knew I wanted to call home. Today, I am the Digital Media Leader at Linhart PR, and national PR firm based in Denver, where I focus on social media strategy, infrastructure, integration and crisis management.

Breaking Away Social

Mark Regan: With a background in media relations how do you approach the social web differently than marketing or technology types?

Paula Berg: I think it was my time in the Southwest Airlines Customer Relations Department a decade ago that shaped my approach to social media. The experience armed me with the knowledge, language and tools to communicate directly with customers on a personal level and truly address their concerns. While our social media efforts at Southwest Airlines were grown out of the PR department, I think we did our best work once we were able to break out on our own and think about social media without the filter of traditional PR and Marketing. Of course, PR and Marketing were still essential components of our efforts, but our autonomy allowed us to get in the trenches with our Customers and focus on what they wanted; to operate on our own schedule; and to move with the speed and agility required for social media success.

Shiny Objects

Mark Regan: With the constant arrival of emerging techniques, products and companies, how do you decide which ones are worth testing out for your clients?

Paula Berg: It’s easy to feel pressured to keep up with every new tool and gizmo that becomes available, but with the emergence of a few dominant players, it seems a bit easier to focus these days. When new tools emerge, I play around with them myself, see how they are useful to me, how my friends and early adopters are using them, and what potential they might have for my clients.

Details

Mark Regan: I’m guessing you predominantly work with large clients, but what nuggets would you give to smaller businesses on their use of social media and how to apply their limited dollars to online marketing?

Paula Berg: I encourage people not to focus solely on the numbers. Collecting friends and followers is fine, but it’s important to understand the art and science of being found and realize that even small interactions can yield big results.

Location-Based

Mark Regan: What are your thoughts on location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How do you see them helping businesses?

Paula Berg: Um…I love them. As a single gal in a new town this past year, you have no idea how much they helped my social life – both the ability to find people and be found as well as learning about places that my friends and neighbors frequent. For businesses, the best thing to do is use the tools, see how customers are using them, and find creative ways to deliver mutual benefit.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Paula Berg: I’m enjoying my iPad, I’m still a big four-square user, and I love a good app. But my favorite thing about social media is still the ability to access information, connect with people, and discover new things.

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Paula Berg: I don’t have much time. I’d love to have a few drinks with all of the Social Fresh peeps and maybe a nice meal if there’s time.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Paula! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

Paula Berg: Thanks so much, Mark. Folks can find me on Twitter at @paulaberg, Facebook, or via email at pberg at linhartpr dot com. And, I write about social media for the Linhart PR Blog as well as the Huffington Post.

5 Nuggets Social Fresh 2010

Social Fresh Tampa - 5 Nuggets I Still UseLast February I attended Social Fresh Tampa at the last minute because it was local, inexpensive and didn’t appear to be a MLM event.  Thank God!

As I prepare for the 2011 tour to pass through Tampa tomorrow (though some training started today), I thought I’d share 5 nuggets I took from last year’s event and have used in the past 12 months.

1. Twitter and Facebook Panel

Nugget: How do you handle 24 hours of the day?  Are you there when they talk about you?

Over the past year I have had so many instances managing a large social presence where activities happen from 5pm-9am, when no one is in the office.  Planning and building these responses by more than one person are the only way you can sustain a 24/7 presence on the web for your brand.

2. Maggie Fox – Social Media Group – runs Ford’s social media

Nugget: Earned media is amplified by paid media which is syndicated through owned media

I’ve “borrowed” Maggie’s nugget in presentations, designing marketing plans even over beers with my neighbors in the driveway.  When you approach your presence on the web respecting what you own and don’t own, you give more credence to those who want to talk about you.   You’re playing on their turf after all.

3. Branding within Social Media Panel – Tampa Bay Rays

Nugget: Managing your reputation when you don’t control it

Much like Maggie’s approach to what you own and don’t own, this panel shed light on how to manage your brand when you own, but don’t have control.  There are many franchise or multi-location online marketing scenarios where there are multiple owners.  In these situations, knowing how to achieve your goals with modified rules is critical.

4. The Social Web, Crisis Response and Reputation Rejuvenation – presented by General Motor’s Director of Social Media

Nugget: You need to be engaged prior to a crisis

I have actively taken his advice and worked hard to engage and build up my company’s reputation not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because when we do maker a misstep I hope we’ll be afforded some leniency to correct and recover with a fatality.

5. Corporate Blogging Panel

Nugget: Removal criteria: Vulgar, Personal, Not germane

I know it seems rather basic but these 3 simple criteria truly sum up how to approach the haters, trolls and general angry people in this world online.  We have a very high bar for removal, but if you take a business issue and make it into a personal attack, you’re not playing fair.

What Did You Learn?

What about you?

Did you learn anything last year that you can say you used in the past 12 months?

Let me know if so.

Ty Downing Interview

Ty Downing is one guy who walks the walk when it comes to nearly every aspect of social media.  That’s because he runs a business that manages it all.  With that in his back pocket, his involvement in Social Fresh Tampa will be one of the highlights for me.


Your Background

Ty Dowing
Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as CEO of SayItSocial.

Ty Downing: Well, I have been involved with internet marketing, and digital advertising going on 8 years now. I cut my teeth on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) obsessing over Google’s algorithms by sitting at the feet of Matt Cutts, and Danny Sullivan (Creator of SMX), thus slowly developing my other company “Perspective Internet Marketing” into a full-service internet marketing agency focusing on SEO, PPC,
local search, analytics & measuring site behaviors.

You could say I was an early adopter of social media in a field that mostly despised, or didn’t believe in social media (SEO’s), but I forged ahead, and in 2009 I co-founded SayItSocial, a social media consulting firm focused on corporate social media education & training, Facebook applications, social media strategy, conversation monitoring, and reputation management.

Early Adopter

Mark Regan: Your time at events/conferences must expose you to ideas and trends long before they hit the mainstream. How have you taken advantage of that?

Ty Downing: I utilize what I gain at these events by implementing them with our clients.  The only way I can keep my clients as well as SayItSocial’s reputation as a leader, we must act fast with implementation. Our field and client needs change rapidly as well as, so we take full advantage of these events.

Additionally, our team are thought leaders in social media, so we also bring new ideas to these events, for example in advance of Social Fresh, we are unveiling version 1.2 of Epicenter, a Facebook marketing CMS designed to create engaging custom Facebook landing pages with contests, lead generation, viral marketing, and loyalty programs. It’s a complete Facebook application with cutting edge technology and simplicity. We want to totally get this into mainstream quickly, it’s such an awesome tool that can help business leverage social media so much better, and measure ROI much easier.

Mark Regan: What new topic has become more frequent over the past 2-3 months?

Ty Downing: Facebook custom applications and Facebook consulting.

Personal Brand

Mark Regan: How has your experience in the business world helped you master your own personal brand marketing?

Ty Downing: That’s a good question. I think for me it’s been opposite? I say this because social media has empowered personal brands exponentially. Because of being an early adopter in social media, I mean one of the first subscribers to Twitter even, I was extremely active in marketing my personal brand with social networks, and personal videos that enabled people to “see the CEO”.

When people think of “Ty Downing” they think of SayItSocial & SEO. Obviously this is my own opinion, but I do feel this has been my personal experience.

Break It Down

Mark Regan: How do respond to clients who are jazzed about setting up their social media presence, but haven’t done some of the basics in online marketing well or at all?

Ty Downing: It’s like a golf swing. I tell them we will be “re-training” their swing, but not let them worry, that’s why they came to us in the first place. I (we) teach them simple basics before a strategy and profile building. Which tools should I use? Do I have staff & resources to have an active social media presence? So basically I ask a lot of questions, and then listen a lot!

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Ty Downing: Epicenter custom Facebook applications tool!

Mark Regan: Bonus: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Ty Downing: Mark, please…please tell me the good places to eat? Any of your readers, please tell me what to see in Tampa!

UPDATE: OK Ty, here you go.

Don’t forget to invite me.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Ty! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more you and connect with you?

Ty Downing: You bet, lets connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

Loyalty Programs Can Now Be Social

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=19760319&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Note: This video was shot using a Flip video MinoHD 8GB camcorder (Amazon affiliate link) and a Fat Gecko Double Knuckle Camera Mount (Amazon affiliate link). Boo-Yah!

My Flip is awesome! Though I wish I had the 3rd generation version which includes image stabilization. The Fat Gecko is wicked. Use it in or out of your car, snowboards, mountain bikes, bike helmets. I love it!


Transcription

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to read rather than listen or watch. The transcription provided by me.

Hey everybody! Mark Regan here.

You may know that I am a big user of Foursquare. And one of the cool potentials that Foursquare has is as it’s growing into, evolving into a loyalty rewards-type, offering—expanding that empty check-in that they have today and turning it into a loyalty rewards. And they’re doing it today by businesses offerings, specials for acquiring mayorship or they’re allowing every three or four check-ins allowing access to a certain special on the menu. And that’s cool but it really is only a novelty at this point.

And what I saw today and heard about this company through Mashable called SNAP (www.SNAPForBusiness.com) takes that and does a really good integration of the offline and online event. They’ll take your traditional loyalty rewards card program and as you swipe it at the retailer they will check you in to your Foursquare account. So by connecting your loyalty rewards account to your Foursquare account. They will do an automatic check-in for you and that will obviously, then, allow you to attempt to acquire mayorships and update your friends about your status.

But what they done is that they have taken it one step further, and this is what Foursquare cant do, is that they can also do an auto-post status update for your Facebook account and do a tweet to your Twitter followers – all of that, automatically happening, is part of their loyalty reward program, which is something Foursquare cant do.

And what that does is the business gets their name out, so every time you swipe that card and allow them to do this auto-notification through your various  social networks, they are getting a lot  of brand exposure and educating all of those people and having you say that you recommend them and that you endorse them to some extent and in return for that, the customer will get points faster on the rewards system and get the return and the rewards that they’re seeking and that the business owners are looking to give.

So, tell me what you think about that. I think it is a really good play. I haven’t implemented it yet, but the concept is really cool in terms of integrating the online and offline world, and loyalty rewards, which are understood and accepted by many people would be the perfect way to do that.  So let me know what you think.

Thanks a lot! Take care!

Lights! Camera! Satisfaction!

PRSA PresentationVideo is good!

But you don’t need to be scared of it.

I use it here on this site and I use it a ton during the day in my Clark Kent role.

If you want to add video to your marketing campaign, this presentation may be just right for you, Integrating Video Into Your Communications Plan.

Details

Whether you are focusing on business or personal, I’m going to cover the basics for those who play every role in their company to where video should go in your marketing strategy.

PRSA Tampa Bay

Thanks to the Tampa Bay chapter of the PRSA for inviting me to share with their members for this event.

But it’s not limited to members, so join us for breakfast next week!

Nadia Aly Interview

One of the speakers I am most excited to hear from at Social Fresh Tampa is Nadia Aly.  This is someone who has so many personas online and just still manages to make them all work together without competing that I’m a bit envious.  She brings a strong social media presence to this year’s lineup!


Your Background

Nadia Aly

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Online Community Manager at Microsoft.

Nadia Aly: I started dabbling in social media in 2003 when I was attending University of Victoria. . It really took off for me when I started my Masters in Digital Media., and it became a clear focus as I progressed through my Masters. I started building niche communities and my passion just exploded from there.

Microsoft Tag

Mark Regan: Tell me a little bit more about Microsoft Tag and how you would love to see it adopted?

Nadia Aly: Microsoft Tag is a type of customizable 2D barcode that can be displayed anywhere and connects almost anything in the real world to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences on your mobile phone. They can be black and white or color, and customized with a logo, product image or other design. Tags are scanned using the free downloadable Microsoft Tag Reader on your smartphone, available at www.gettag.mobi.

Microsoft Tag technology is far superior to many other solutions out there, especially for those in the marketing and advertising world. Tag offers robust analytics, heat maps and many other features that help marketers execute and adjust campaigns. We’re seeing great adoption across a variety of industries including magazine publishing, retail, advertising and entertainment and expect to see the technology really take off as brands continue to experiment.

New Ideas

Mark Regan: You’ve seen a lot of your ideas see the light of day and be implemented. I’m sure there are more in various stages of creation in your head. How do you decide which ones to pursue?

Nadia Aly: Usually when I come up with ideas, I circulate them to selected friends and colleagues. I am very open minded , and getting a sense of what they think and getting their feedback helps me shape my thoughts. The process is the same for both personal and work campaigns. Making sure that I see value in any campaign that we move forward with.

Visuals

Mark Regan: Personally, you incorporate visuals (images, photos, videos) quite a bit into your online brand. Do you also take that same approach towards your business initiatives?

Nadia Aly: Definitely! Media is a great way to engage people online. That not new news! The more visual assets you can showcase for a business or product the more attention you will get. That’s why these days you will see many companies/brands with a Flickr and YouTube as part of their circle of social networks.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Nadia Aly: To this day I still stand by Tweet Adder. Some see this a spammy tool – but it really is a great way to find targeted Twitter users online. Even if only for the search functions it provides. You are able to search profile data, location, followers of a user, users followed by a user and much more. For example I am able to find people who have the word Microsoft in their profile bio who live in Redmond. I don’t know many other tools that can do that. On top of that you are able to automate many different things. I tend to stay away from those tools. To each their own!

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Nadia Aly: Yes! I run ScubaDiverLife.com – and one of the things I have been dying to do is Scuba Dive at Epcot! Also get some dives done in or around Tampa.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Nadia! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

Nadia Aly: People are able to connect with me on Twitter: @DigitalkVan or Facebook : facebook.com/NadiaAly or good old fashion email : nadia@digitalklabs.com

SchneiderMike Interview

SchneiderMike is one smart guy.  I researched his work before I asked him to be a part of my Social Fresh Tampa interview series and I was impressed.  He is a guy who gets it and shares what he knows.  Can’t wait to hear him speak in a few weeks.


Your Background

SchneidermikeMark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Director Digital Incubator at allen & gerritsen.

SchneiderMike: I started as an application developer. I built giant operational, CRM and analytics database applications for big companies in the pharmaceuticals, shopping, healthcare technology, retail and consumer packaged goods spaces. During that time I got pretty intimate with Oracle, Cognos, Business Objects and also open source technologies. Somehow

I ended up building analytics and web technology groups for a big Boston ad shop. I stayed there for four years and then left to help build the digital group for allen & gerritsen .

Stakeholders

Mark Regan: With a focus being put on location-based and local marketing recently, how do you think a stakeholder should choose where to focus?

SchneiderMike: They should consider their goals and resources first and foremost. Are they looking to acquire new customers or reward loyal customers? Are they looking for more engagement? Do they want to perform spectacle? Its hard to accomplish all three in one tactic. Focus on creatively engaging customers and then choose a platform that fits.

Location-Based

Mark Regan: Your recent blog post about Foursquare’s need for a hierarchy was dead on. How have you been able to manage multi-location businesses with such tools?

SchneiderMike: We don’t let a lack of tools stop us. We know the space is evolving and we are vocal about where we’d like to see it go. In other words, we use people hours now. The people at foursquare have made it easy for us by investing time on their end while tools are evolving.

Mark Regan: How do you think small businesses should take advantage of location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How can they gain a competitive edge with them?

SchneiderMike: First they should pay attention to all of the things that are happening to them on these networks. Becoming familiar with the content will give them an opportunity to learn who likes and does not like their product. First and foremost, listen to these people on foursquare, Yelp, Google and Facebook who are talking to them about their products and services.

Next, they should be going big with Groupon-like deals of 50% off or more to attract the attention of a very vocal early adopter set who will pass on the information. They can be creative about how many checkins it takes to unlock the deal and they can cut it off when they want to quit. That’s a good start.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

SchneiderMike: I really want a Go Pro Camera. Video is the thing I want to do most but seem to make the least time for lately. I’m also into using the iPad as an instrument.

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

SchneiderMike: I’ll probably have a couple of beers with Manny and Johnny. Seriously though, I am planning to have dinner and drinks with the attendees of Social Fresh and get a sense for the Tampa social media scene. I’m open to ideas. I do really want to try some famous Cigar City beers.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks SchneiderMike! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa.  How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

SchneiderMike: The best way for people to reach me is to tweet me on twitter @schneidermike or send an email to schneidermike at a dash g dot com.

If you want to learn more about what I am thinking about, you can read my blog, Digital Before Digital at schneidermike.com although I’ve slowed down a bit on blogging while I’m writing Location-based Marketing For Dummies with Aaron Strout.

Thanks for reaching out to me Mark, I’m excited to come to Tampa.

Zena Weist Interview

Zena’s joining a full line-up of speakers in this month’s Social Fresh Tampa conference.  In my interview with her, she stresses the 1-to-1 relationship of social media and a little more “doing” and less “trying” by the brand owners.


Your Background

JohnWeist, ZenaWeist & ZachCobb

JohnWeist, ZenaWeist & ZachCobbphoto credit: westsidestudiokc.com

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as H&R Block’s Social Media Director.

Zena Weist: Direct marketing has been something I’ve been drawn to since college. I enjoyed advertising, which was my emphasis, but I craved that back and forth brand discussion with customers. When I was working on my MBA in direct marketing, I was taking a Henry Bloch entrepreneurial course where I met with a digital start-up CEO. His company was selling bulk computer components on discussion boards (this was before the web and mass use of email). Yes, I’m old.

When I saw the back and forth dialogue via the internet, I was hooked. The digital start-up hired me. My first online marketing role had me dive into newsgroups and forums back in 1994. We rolled out a web site in late fall of 1994. I knew the web was my professional home. I thrive on the 1:1 interaction.

My first exposure to a velvet-roped online community was with Hallmark in 2004. Blogger outreach started in 2006 for me. I began developing the first social media roadmap for my company, Embarq, a spin-off of Sprint, in 2007. I was hired by H&R Block in January, 2010. The Social Media Director role was newly created by the CMO.

Agency – Client

Mark Regan: You’ve been on both the agency and client side of online marketing, how would you compare the two relative to social media adoption/implementation?

Zena Weist: In general, on the adoption/implementation front I think agencies and clients are both in the early growth stage of social media. Before you say, “but Zena get your head out of the Tampa sand,” please give me a paragraph or two to explain.

There are brand and agency social media examples we hold up as best in class. They just aren’t the norm, they are the exception. So now how can we all help each other power forward through to shift social media methods from “sitting at the kids table to moving up to the adult table.”

For me, the agency should already be integrating social media into any marketing or communications project from the onset. I’d like to see all agencies move away from bolting on social media tactics after the pitch is fully baked. What I am seeing that is working really well is when the agency plays that much needed third-party-social-media- strategy-advocate role. They help their clients build their social media roadmap for incorporating social media tools into all customer touchpoints. A majority of what I’m seeing from agencies is integrating social media into marketing communication plans. To me this is still fairly project specific and I’m looking forward to the industry maturing with more and more strategic consulting and long-term planning.
From my experience, client side social media has to be more holistic to succeed. The brand needs to weave social media methods into business processes, not bolt-on social media in a “toe-dipping, let’s try this out” approach. Given consumers’ expectations, for brands there is no try in social, there’s only do. Let’s help each other do social business well together. Let’s lift each other up. (And yes, I’m a huge Yoda fan.)

Stakeholders

Mark Regan: How have you approached the ROI-focused stakeholders who discount social media as not worth the investment?

Zena Weist: In order to get my peers’ and my executives’ attention, I have to speak their ROI language and use their metrics or I won’t be taken seriously. My team has acquisition, share of voice, brand awareness and impression goals just like our traditional marketing and corporate communication teams do.

Competition

Mark Regan: I imagine that H&R Block’s main competitors are local, private tax professionals more than other multi-location businesses. Does size give you an advantage on the social web or is it a liability?

Zena Weist: In this case, I think size doesn’t really matter. What matters is if you are meeting customer expectations online. Are you listening, responding and sharing WHERE your customers/prospects are online? If you aren’t, you aren’t meeting customer expectation and they will be vocal about their disappointment and seek out your competition.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: Bonus: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Zena Weist: Ok, my favorite public community right now is Quora. I’m addicted to it. I’m more of a lurker than anything right now. I’m trying to move into more of a contributor-role but I catch myself spending hours (at night) reading up on social trends, tech news and my personal interests.

Mark Regan: Bonus: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Zena Weist: I ❤ Tampa and I’m not just saying that because Social Fresh is in Tampa. I try to get there at least every other year. The vibe is relaxed and fun. My family loves the friendly folks, warm weather and beaches. This quick trip, I’m hoping to get a chance to go to the ocean for a bit and enjoy the warm weather as I’m landlocked and freezing in Kansas City.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Zena! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

Zena Weist: Zena (@ZenaWeist) is an iWorkingmom who’s passionate about her four fun-loving kids, one adorable husband, customer advocacy, autism awareness, craft beers, red wine and all things chocolate; therefore she’s into running as well :-). Zena blogs a bit about all this at Nothing but socNET and she is a founding member of the Kansas City Chapter of the Social Media Club.