Tim Moore Interview

Tim Moore from Maximum joined me for an interview.


Your Background

Tim Moore

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Social Media Director at Maximum Design.

Tim Moore: Digital Biography: http://TimMoore.tumblr.com/about and Digital Business Architect at Maximum (http://maximumrocks.com) Erupts 4.22.11

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?
Tim Moore: Easy, for production advertising, established channels with large demographic base that meets client needs and has an ad platform that is trackable.  For emerging platforms, most need maturing before you would use client ad spend on them. We have to report monthly ROI, so efficient and strategic A/B testing is critical, before a recommendation is proposed.  We are not in the hype business, we are in the conversion business.

Mark Regan: Do you approach developing a personal brand differently than you do a corporate brand?
Tim Moore: Yes, completely. Also, each brand will have different goals, expectations and definitions of ‘success’, so listen, listen, listen, before talking.

Mark Regan: How has your experience in the business world helped you master your own personal brand marketing?
Tim Moore: I haven’t mastered it, I am learning everyday. The more I listen, the more I learn. I don’t see that changing.

Mark Regan: Bonus: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?
Tim Moore: Hitpad (new release – http://hitpad.com) and Poweri (new startup – dropping 5.1.11)

Mark Regan: Thanks Tim! How can people find out more about you and connect with you?
Tim Moore: Twitter: @TimMoore; Facebook: /TimMoore; Email: TimMoore (at) Facebook (dot) com; Tumblr: http://TimMoore.tumblr.com

MLB, Publix and Buffalo Wild Wings

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!


Transcript

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

Hi everybody! Mark Regan here.

MLB Fan CaveLast week Major Baseball league kicked off its 2011 season. And one of their initiatives that they put up together was this Fancave — at www.MLBFanCave.com where they put a guy up inside a loft in Manhattan.

And for the entire season, he’s going to watch every baseball game on a bank of TVs and really kind of grow that concept to bring in fans, big stars to do interviews and they had a big contest to choose who this person was.  As the executive from Major League Baseball termed it, it’s real great opportunity to take that major league baseball brand and humanize it and bring it to the fans that are already out there talking about their baseball teams on social media and bring this whole concept and connect with it to the “electronic water cooler” to quote him.

And it made me begin to think about a couple of brands that might be able to make that same concept and really capitalize on it here in the Bay Area that I frequent.

PublixOne of them is Publix, a grocery store chain here in the Southeast and very popular that can take its Aprons brand which is a all-in-one package that allows you to cook an entire meal right there from one counter to pick all your products out.

But take that same concept and tie into the holiday season, from November, December. Where you open up a kitchen throughout the month, 2 months, and for 24 hours a day you run chefs through it, you run Ordinary Joes, allow them to come in and do some stuff and you actually get to see the creation of these foods in live and real-time without any edited Hollywood style, 30-minute snippets that you see on the Food Network and then also build up this great library of content that allows people to see in a time-shifted manner.

It is a great opportunity to really connect that Publix brand which is really great in helping you serve great food to your family and bringing it and making it much more approachable.

Buffalo Wild WingsLikewise, Buffalo Wild Wings, a sports bar which I have gone to before here in Tampa could take that same concept, but instead of using a central location for their initiative, like Major League Baseball or Publix, they can actually put together tour bus that ran through all of their franchises.

And during the restaurant hours run a live camera setup through the internet to this social media connection that they had to really talk to their fans and build that relationship that can only be had in social media and really humanizing it and that’s what I really like about what major baseball league is doing, as well as what these other brands are doing or any other brand could do, but allowing the ordinary Joe to connect with the brand.

And so let me know if you’re from Buffalo Wild Wings or Publix. Please put some comments below. Or if you have any thoughts on the concept of what Major League Baseball is doing or some other brands can do.  Leave me something below.

Thanks a lot! Take care!

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!

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

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.

Corey Creed Interview

Corey’s going to be laying it all out in a few weeks at Social Fresh Tampa talking about Facebook, social media and tons more. I had a chance to talk to him about his background and the work-life balance of the social web.


Your Background

Corey Creed
Mark Regan: Tell me a little about yourself and your background.

Corey Creed: For most my life, I’ve done public speaking and training. I’ve also done a lot of project management and instructional design. But more recently, I’ve been using those skills with Internet marketing and social media. Here’s how it all came about…

I grew up outside of Boston and then moved to New York for ten years. In 2002, I moved back to Massachusetts for one year. I had a hard time finding work, so ended up helping a friend with his e-commerce business. In three months, we tripled his sales. But it was way too cold in Massachusetts, especially for my wife who is originally from Daytona, FL!

So in 2003, my wife and I moved to North Carolina and started HIPPO which has two parts to it. HIPPO Inc sells products via e-commerce to the hospitality industry. Hippo Internet Marketing did SEO, AdWords, and more for clients. In 2007, we stopped taking clients and started teaching Internet marketing seminars. In 2010, we stopped teaching seminars and started moving our content online instead.

In 2011, I also started working with Social Fresh as the Training Director.

Time Management

Mark Regan: You seem to have your time spread out a lot from clients, training, speaking and your own personal brand.  How do you manage the sometimes competing obligations?

Corey Creed: I’m all about time management.  Over the years, I’ve fired almost all of my clients.  The few remaining are the best ones.  I enjoy working with them and we each respect each other’s time.  I regularly prioritize and keep my inbox down to zero several times per week.  I move things to my to do list and work on one thing at a time in priority order.

Oh, and I have three monitors.  That helps.  I only work 40 hours per week or less.  I spend time with my wife and on other non-profit activities outside of work.

Fads

Mark Regan: What social media tactic do you see people jumping into too quickly?  and what should they do more of in advance?

Corey Creed: I see people jumping into the “shiny new things” way too quick.  We all need to get better at Facebook.  It’s good to stay somewhat informed of new things and to know what’s out there.  But we’ve got to get better at what we have now.  Focus on the opportunities that exist today and do them better.

Content is King

Mark Regan: Regarding social media, if you could make a business owner/stakeholder do one thing that they always don’t want to do, what would it be?

Corey Creed: They almost always need to become better writers.  Content is king, but that’s just the beginning.  The better we get at writing in all its various forms, the more success we’ll have.  Good writing is not easy, but all marketers and business owners should work at it and stop trying to outsource it.  It’s that important.

LBSNs

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

Corey Creed: This one is tricky.  The adoption rate of these services is not that impressive yet.  Small businesses have a lot to do.  It may not be worth their time to put a lot of effort into this.  At the same time, being an early adopter can get you extra business.  Give it a shot and see what happens.  But don’t waste too much time on it.

Bonus Questions

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

Corey Creed: For seeing what others do when they visit my site, my favorite cool new tool is Mouseflow.  My every day tools are Microsoft Outlook, Google Chrome, BlogJet, Digsby & Hootsuite.

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

Corey Creed: Not really, Jason Keath has me working the entire first day of Facebook training.  Also, I’ve got to keep up on my own business at the same time.  But I do hope it’s warm that week.  I hate the cold!  🙂

Contact

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

Corey Creed: You can find most everything I do at www.CoreyCreed.com and www.HippoIMT.com.

Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed.  It’s nice meeting you and I’m really excited to meet the various social media and Internet marketing people in sunny Tampa!  See you at Social Fresh!

Chris Penn Interview

Social Fresh Tampa Interview Series Kickoff

Who better to kickoff my Social Fresh Tampa interview series than Chris Penn. You may know him better as Christopher S Penn from reading Chris Brogan’s work. Chris Penn co-founded PodCamp and also made a name for himself as the Chief Technology Officer of the Student Loan Network. He’s now over at Blue Sky Factory doing great work. He’ll be joining many other great speakers on February 22, 2011 at Social Fresh Tampa.


Your Background


Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as VP of Strategy and Innovation at Blue Sky Factory (BSF).

Chris Penn: It’s a rather funny short story. Fundamentally, there’s a concept that my friend Chris Brogan hammers on constantly: be there before the sale. Provide value, build your network and your platform, be helpful, and establish your foundation, your base. When it comes time for you to draw on that network, people tend to pay you back if you’ve done a good enough job giving first. I managed to be unemployed for exactly 37 minutes because the moment I was out of a job, I asked my network, and Greg Cangialosi, our founder and CEO, grabbed me as quickly as he could.

Marketing and Technology

Mark Regan: You’ve said you live in that uncomfortable world between marketing and IT/technology (a space I personally love!).  How do you exploit your ability to bridge that gap?

Chris Penn: I’m a marketing technologist, a word coined by Scott Brinker and subsequently promoted by Mitch Joel. It’s a highly unusual practice because it requires you to be competent in two different worlds that typically require very different mindsets in order to be successful. I wouldn’t characterize it as uncomfortable as much as I would call it rare. What makes it possible to bridge that gap between worlds is an understanding I get from the martial arts about finding similarities.  A  market segmentation can be expressed as a SQL query, and a sorting algorithm can be turned into a marketing funnel. You have to be able to port concepts back and forth into the language that the world you’re working in speaks.

Personal and Professional Brands

Mark Regan: How do you balance the goals of your personal brand with the goals of your professional personas (VP, professor, host)?  Are they ever in competition?

Chris Penn: There is always strong potential for personal and professional brands to be in conflict. What it takes to make that not happen is to work for a company and a team that recognizes the synergy between personal and professional brand on the corporate front, and the maturity and responsibility of the person to align their brand with the company goals. Blue Sky Factory’s stated mission and goal in the world is to help you become a better marketer, and thus being a professor of Internet marketing and a marketing podcast co-host is perfectly aligned with that. Work I do in one area benefits work in other areas.  Lessons I learn in one area get ported to other areas and all benefit.

For example, I write and send out a monthly personal newsletter. As part of that, I get to use the BSF product, Publicaster, as an end user. I know what its like to be a customer, to have the customer experience on a regular basis, and I can give feedback to the team about what works and what doesn’t. Another example – I blog a lot personally. My personal web site uses the same platform and theme as the BSF one. I test out things on my blog and break it all the time, and the stuff that works well in the end gets pushed to the BSF web site. Some of the stuff I try would be deeply irresponsible to do on the corporate web site, so my personal space benefits the company.

Consistency

Mark Regan: On the social web, you appear in so many places.  How do you manage to maintain a consistent engagement everywhere?

Chris Penn: I’m not everywhere, not by a long shot. I pick very carefully where I can bet use my time, and each place has a defined role. Linked in is all about groups for me. Twitter is about finding new people and staying in touch. Facebook on my fan page is all about tools and ideas I have that I share. I don’t have to be everywhere, and I set expectations carefully about what each place means to me.

Email and Social Media

Mark Regan: Pundits love to say email is dead.  But I continue to see it being better integrated as a marketing tool.  Do you expect the same to happen with social media and its various tools?

Chris Penn: For those that survive, yes. That said, one of the largest flaws in thinking in social media is the assumption that social media tools are public utilities. They are not. Email is, because no one organization
controls email, by design. Facebook? Twitter? Linked in? Quora? These are not public utilities and thus they have the potential to go away overnight.

Bonus Questions

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

Chris Penn: Toy of the day? My iPad, unquestionably. Greatest productivity tool I have besides the laptop itself.

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

Chris Penn: Nope. I am surprisingly unfun in person because I’m such a nerd.

Contact

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

Chris Penn: You can find out more about Blue Sky Factory and grab our newest eBook here.

You can find out more about me at: http://www.christopherspenn.com

Eric Speeth Interview

Data and Analytics Meet The Real World

Eric Speeth is a brilliant guy.  If you want to learn about how businesses are applying data analysis to online marketing, he’s your guy.  And he’s right here in Tampa.  Buy him a beer (a really good beer) and you’ll learn more than you ever will from some high-priced consultant.


Your Background

Eric Speeth Interview

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as the Manager of Analytics Operations at Triad Digital.

Eric Speeth: I’ve been involved with web development and online marketing for about 8 years.  I began my career working for an asset management firm that operated around 20 startup, small and mid-sized businesses, some online and others brick and mortar.  Soon after I started, the firm’s partners handed all site development and online marketing initiatives to me.  I was young with limited experience.  I felt overwhelmed and was extremely understaffed. I learned quickly that proving success meant that my time was best spent analyzing site and campaign initiatives in an effort to drive strategy, leaving the heavy development work to the experts. This plan worked well.  Even given rudimentary tools, I was able to quantify success, build actionable strategies and help the firm achieve several major online objectives.

I continued exploring analytics through my tenure there and eventually made it my focus as I moved to Tampa and began consulting as a performance-based marketer.  In 2008, I was recruited by Triad Digital Media and entered their organization as a web analyst.  I was given the opportunity to lead their analytics relationship with several major publishers and advertisers and now manage the analytics operations and media implementation team for all Triad accounts.

Social Media Analytics

Mark Regan: How has your background in web analytics been applied to your tracking needs in the social media space?

Eric Speeth: Social is a hot topic with a lot of brands that I work with, both in expansion of retail opportunities and brand engagement/loyalty.  Beyond sheer reach, arguably, a lot of what’s caused organizations to gravitate toward use of social channels is the value in measuring audience and action-based information.

When I first started seeing brands integrate socially, there weren’t many ways to evaluate success. From what was measurable, I would notice variable impact due to a lack of audience insight.  It took several years for analytics to catch up.  However, it’s now nearly the opposite.  With tools like Facebook analytics, app integration with several analytics vendors and the plethora of independent social media monitoring tools (i.e. Radian 6, Viralheat), the ability to measure and optimize initiatives living in the social space is practically limitless. Now, the challenge to someone like myself is identifying what is truly valuable out of each initiative and finding ways to optimize those important metrics.

If I were to give an overarching recommendation to brands/businesses marketing through social channels it would be to leverage the value of capturing demographic and user activity data to find your target audience.  Free or low cost tools like Viralheat can help easily dashboard and allow you to take action on this information.  Next, do everything you can to “close the loop”.  Facebook and Twitter are great mechanisms for initiating engagement, entertaining your audience or leading them to your brand’s next conversion point, but they aren’t all inclusive destinations (not yet anyway).  Make sure you are tracking social visitation through to purchase/conversion paths.  Channel/campaign variables are capable of tracking this in nearly every modern analytics solution whether your using Google Analytics, Coremetrics, Webtrends or Site Catalyst.

Big Business and Web Analytics

Mark Regan: You’ve worked with many Fortune 500 companies, regarding web analytics what do you think big business does better than small to medium-size businesses?

Eric Speeth: A lot of larger businesses have recognized the power that analytics-driven strategy brings to the to their organization.  Almost every major marketing publication mentions analytics strategy at least once per issue, newsletter or blog post.  Big business eats this up.  Once a larger entity decides to pursue an analytics focused model, their budgets allow them to recruit top talent who know and believe in analytics from executives to analysts.  This top-down support system enables them to roll out best-in-class analytics solutions, testing platforms and research models that really help drive major strategic decisions.   It can take years to build a platform that is optimized for success.  However, once this framework is in place, that organization will have a huge upper hand against the competition.

Mark Regan: What surprises you about what the big firms don’t do so well?

Eric Speeth: Big firms aren’t generally nimble.  Once a company gets to a certain critical mass, there are meetings just to discuss other upcoming meetings.  Marketing strategy and media spends can be forecasted out a year or more in advance with little consideration for the need to change mid-stride.  Even though they know its in their best interest, a large organization may not be able to act on a change until they can brainstorm about it, get funding and resource approval for it, develop project plans against it, then finally execute on it.  Analysis needs are becoming much more real-time which means a smaller entity where only a few individuals are making the marketing decisions can react more responsively to change.  It also means that they can fail and learn faster.  This is something that several big businesses struggle with.

Small Business Tactics

Mark Regan: If you owned a small business what steps would you take to manage your online marketing activities knowing you had a limited budget?

Eric Speeth: Setting strategic and measurable goals is probably the most important first step a small business can take towards driving a successful marketing strategy.  Being able to break those goals down over a one-year period into quarters, then months will also help give better perspective on where you need to be over shorter periods of time in order to achieve those longer 1+ year targets.  One myth I’d like to dispel is that setting short or even long term goals DOES NOT require pinpoint accurate benchmarks or elaborate forecasting methodologies, but all goals should be actionable and impacting (i.e. increasing brand reach in social or viral channels, optimizing on-site conversion paths, further identifying audience segments, etc.).

Once you’ve identified a strategy to reach those goals, its important to spend your budget wisely. One piece of advice I would lend is not to put all your eggs in one basket.  Spending all of your dollars on one three month awareness initiative may not magically bring an audience back for the rest of the year.  It’s also extremely important to stay targeted, focused and relevant with your campaigns (geographically, demographically, socioeconomically, seasonally, etc.).

With that in mind, it’s vital to purchase media through outlets that are able to demonstrate they are reaching your desired audience while they’re in the right mindset.  Signing a long-term agreement with a media partner without running test or trial campaigns is probably not a good choice.   Make any media channel prove its worth before making a really expensive mistake. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that you should always take advantage of relevantly marketing yourself on any low or no-cost media channels (be it social, viral, etc.).

Lastly, be aware of how you plan on learning more about your audience and improving your campaign as you continue your spend throughout the year.  The best way to do this is through a combination of free surveys, creative testing and optimization. If you aren’t setting up your site and your marketing campaigns on some kind of optimization platform (Google Website Optimizer, Omniture Test & Target, etc.), you aren’t maximizing your marketing dollars. A terrific book that answers questions on how to do this using free tools and few resources is called Always Be Testing and is a must read for any business that wants to set themselves up to maximize their marketing testing and optimization efforts.

The Future

Mark Regan: Looking ahead 12-24 months, what tools should vendors in the online marketing space develop to help people like you?

Eric Speeth: One challenge we face in analytics is the integration/centralization of data between marketing tools. To put it simply, the ability to tie data together quickly and easily throughout all of your initiatives doesn’t exist.  Right now, you have two choices:

  1. Pull data manually out of a dozen or more tools and put it all together into a sensible report, then spend whatever remaining minutes you have to compile insight or
  2. Convince your organization to buy expensive servers and software, then hire a team of database professionals to integrate and manage your marketing analytics for you.  Next, hire a dedicated resource to pull all that information together into a beautiful report where you, as a marketer, can spend your time extracting insight and driving strategy.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am at those options. The data already exists, it just doesn’t exist where you need it to (in a report with other information from other tools).  Paying to extract and store a copy of the data isn’t a sustainable practice. Neither is paying a team of database professionals to manage and compile that information.  I foresee a lot of progress being made on this, maybe not in the next two years, but certainly in the next five.

Location-Based Social Networks

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

Eric Speeth: As mobile device technology continues to grow, location-based applications could undoubtedly have a HUGE impact on a brick & mortar business’s success. The more prevalent your organization is on these networks, the more opportunities you are giving yourself to succeed in the future.

Speaking in the current, even something as simple as Google Maps and their use of reviews/recommended listings leveraging feeds from Yelp!, Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, etc. has opened businesses up to a sort of transparency that can literally make or break them. If a business is smart, they are monitoring their reputations very closely to see what their customers are saying, learning from their mistakes and actively seeking to correct them.  They should also be participating in real-time marketing opportunities.  Whether that involves tweeting a one-day promo code or running a campaign through Groupon, smart businesses should realize that the next step beyond monitoring and managing their reputation is to be as active as its customers are through use of real time promotions.  I foresee location-based networks to hold even further value as additional features are developed to allow for more functional marketing opportunities within them.

Contacting You

Mark Regan: Thanks Eric!  How can people find out more about your analytics work and connect with you?

Eric Speeth: You can follow me on LinkedIn or through acuteinsights.com.