Foodies, Bloggers & Brands Create Magical 2015 Food and Wine Conference

Family Foodie and me

Family Foodie and me

Prologue:  In July 2011, I was talking with a woman about social media at a networking event when I asked, “Are you @FamilyFoodie?” Her eyes flew open wide and she replied, “Yes! How did you know?” I answered, “I don’t know (because her Twitter image was a chef’s hat then), but I follow you.” Her eyes got even bigger and she asked, “You DO?” I replied, “Yes, you have like 7K Twitter followers!” (She was a local Tampa Twitter rock star imho.) She said, “I know.” “So what are you doing here?” I asked. She looked at me quizzically. Later I remarked, “Think you’ve found your next thing with Family Foodie.” No truer words were spoken. In 2011 she started familyfoodie.com. In 2012, she created an army of bloggers ready to work with food brands to bring families back around the #SundaySupper dinner table via SundaySupperMovement.com. In 2013, she launched her very first Food and Wine Conference. That is tremendous growth (and hard work!) in a very short time, especially while raising four kids. Missed the first #FWCon while moving back home. Missed last year because of other commitments, too, but really wanted to go after seeing all the food in my Facebook newsfeed! So July 17-19, I went, I saw, I Instagrammed/Facebooked/Tweeted, I ate, I learned and I grew!

What is the Food and Wine Conference? To quote the website: “The Food and Wine Conference brings together bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, PR professionals, traditional media, new media, authors and brands.” For what? To talk about (and eat!) food & wine, to discuss what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, to create road maps for success, and ultimately to work together in win-win scenarios. It’s a beautiful thing.

View from my room at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort

View from my room at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort

Speaking of beautiful, Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is that and much more. Have you ever heard if you’re doing the right thing everything will just serendipitously fall into place? One day Isabel and her best friend Lou Anne went there for lunch, they met Mr. Harris Rosen, and a beautiful business relationship was born. It is a stunningly gorgeous conference center and resort, with top-notch chefs, and it’s an absolutely perfect setting for #FWCon! Their customer service is excellent.

Here’s a fun Good Day Orlando video taken Friday morning before the conference, which shows just a few of the goodies we experienced over the weekend.

The food. The wine. Bring an eating buddy! You just can’t eat it all, and it is *ALL SO GOOD!* One thing I learned: Get your food first, talk later. I spent too much time talking Friday night and missed yummy things I wanted to try!

Saturday was jammed packed. The opening Keynote: “Everything is Subject to Change” was about how life and careers are a journey where one thing definitely leads to another, especially in retrospective. Think of your own and you’ll connect the dots between people and places and how one leads to the next.

If you think bloggers are just “little women who love food and want a part-time job” then the session with Liz Latham from Hoosier Homemade and Stephanie Parker from Plain Chicken might change your mind. Liz and her husband both quit their FT corporate jobs to work the blog, which fully supports their family. Liz and Stephanie discussed the need to create a LLC for your blog, work with lawyers to trademark your logo, use Quickbooks, and covered all financial aspects of running a successful blogging business.

Lunch was sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese and Idaho Potato: *POUTINE* in four different varieties!! Here’s when I discovered I needed an eating buddy. #FirstWorldFoodieProblem: I want to try everything, can’t eat three lunches, and hate wasting food!

Kale & Spinach Poutine in Mushroom Gravy with Three Cheese Sauce

Kale & Spinach Poutine in Mushroom Gravy with Three Cheese Sauce

My two favorite sessions after lunch were panels. The first was brands discussing working with bloggers. The brand reps really impressed me with their honesty: “Please don’t send me a pitch telling me how great your blog aligns with our Beef brand, but then I can’t find one blog post with beef in the recipe, but do find “I hate hamburger” in your ‘About’ section.” (News flash: Hamburger is beef!)  They were as down-to-earth as the bloggers, and very real about their connection to their product, their audience, and their bloggers. I learned not all brands are created equal when it comes to bloggers: Some use them as an extension of their marketing team, others use them sparingly. It’s all about finding ones that best fits you and your blog.

My other favorite panel was Eat.Travel.Blog.Business, which was a panel of travel bloggers. Sounds heavenly, right? To travel about, eat, stay at beautiful places, post and write about it? It’s a lot more work than you think and not really just lounging by the pool with a cool drink! Ann Tran, who was a part of the social media panel, recently tweeted “How to Make $150K as a Travel Blogger” which drives the point home that blogging can be “a real job.”

After a very fun live rendition of “The Price is Right” with Saucy Queen Michele Northrup, we had a bit of time before dinner.

Hess Collection wines served with Certified Angus Beef meal

Hess Collection wines served with Certified Angus Beef dinner

Saturday night dinner sponsored by Hess Collection wines & Certified Angus Beef

Saturday night dinner sponsored by Hess Collection wines & Certified Angus Beef

Ah, dinner. Nothing says you’re about to dine well like multiple wine glasses lined up at your place setting!  After food all day (most of it not shown here), we sat down to a family style dinner of Certified Angus Beef with roasted garlic, asparagus, collards, fingerling potatoes and the most heavenly whipped sweet potatoes. Here’s a photo of my first plate. (Yep, you read that right!) Later, I just spread the roasted garlic like butter on top of the beef. #PleaseSirCanIHaveMore While I enjoyed all three of the Hess Collection wines, the Hess Treo really stood out and was scrumptious with the beef. #YesPlease [Wait, is there a job where you get paid to be a professional eater? I may have that one covered hands down!] I didn’t have room for dessert, so enjoyed watching folks do the Idaho Potato Spuds singing game while being taped, which was hysterical fun. But when the blogger I roomed with told me Rosen had made the top two winning recipes from the Dixie Crystals blogging contest for dessert and I missed Tiramisu, one would think I hadn’t eaten all day! I was truly sad. #FirstWorldFoodieProblems

Cabot & Hess Pairing

Cabot & Hess Pairing

Sunday was at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, right next to their resort. The sessions were like classes, where you picked from four for any given time period. The problem? Some sessions I wanted to go to three of the four!  I ended up in the Cheese & Wine Pairing sponsored by Cabot and Hess Collections. Thought I already knew a lot about cheese; I was wrong. Did you know cheese is graded in some of the same terms as wine is (acidity, fruitiness, etc.)? And that different cheeses with different wines can make one or the other taste really bad? I learned that and a lot more.

Beef ... It's What's For Dinner!

Beef … It’s What’s For Dinner!

My other favorite session on Sunday was sponsored by Certified Angus Beef, where we saw a live demo with Chef Michael Ollier and got some great advice on preparing beef. #1 tip: Do not cut meat while cooking to see if it’s done! Use a meat thermometer to reach the desired state of doneness (130 before resting for medium rare).  Another great tip is to sear both sides quickly to seal in juices, and then finish cooking slowly.

Live Cooking Demo

Live Cooking Demo

I loved my three days at the 2015 Food and Wine Conference! Why? Because I saw people sharing best business practices, learning a great deal about food and wine, and celebrating their entrepreneurship, regardless of where they are in the journey. Learned I really need to up my photography game if I ever want to make money from a blog!  What a lot of people don’t realize about blogging is you have to know and do everything: from web technology/platforms, to social media, to marketing, finances & accounting, and everything in between. If you want to learn how, and talk to people who are doing it, then plan to attend the 2016 Food and Wine Conference because you will meet them, and they will share their secret recipes! I met some truly wonderful people at #FWCon … Foodies are great people!!

Isabel asked, “What was your favorite quote from #FWCon?” Both of mine came from @SaucyQueen: After “Johnny” told every Price Is Right winner what they won, Michele added, “And a bottle of hot sauce!” (Did I mention I love me some hot sauce?)  She also said, “The best advice I can give you is if you have a good idea, ‘Don’t Hesitate!'” Sound advice for life! Bon Appetit 🙂

My Facebook Food And Wine Conference Photo Album.

The complete 2015 schedule.


Social Fresh East 2013: Back to Basics Baby

Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Social Fresh East conference for the third year in a row.  I love Social Fresh because it’s an intimate conference (300-400), always features some of the best social business thought leaders, and it’s local. Win. Win. Win.  It was a jammed packed two days! Here are photos and highlights of each speaker (click on their name for deck or contact info):

Courtesy of Stacey Acevero Twitter @sacevero

Courtesy of Stacey Acevero Twitter @sacevero

Tom Webster Social Fresh 2013

Tom Webster of Edison Research spoke first; a bit daunting since the WiFi was down.  His presentation was on data storytelling and the 2012 political elections.  “We don’t need data analysts; we need data storytellers.  There’s too much data repukery.”  (Nice word Tom:) “We are becoming less skilled at being social with people we don’t agree with.”  God’s honest truth and Tom’s clarity was a gut check.  Katie Richman tweeted Tom is where “psychology meets statistics.”

Spike Jones Social Fresh 2013

Spike Jones of WCG World presented Word of Mouth.  “It is not – nor will it ever be – about your product.”  Some brands forget it’s about their *community* as they blather on about their products or themselves.  “Influence can be created; passion can not.” “Everybody wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”  Check out slide 44:)

Morgan Johnston Social Fresh 2013

The WiFi came to life during Morgan Johnston‘s Jet Blue presentation.  “Inspire Humanity.” Here’s how JetBlue does social:  Monitor -> Engage -> Inform -> Humanize.  So simple.  He spoke about how they handled Hurricane Sandy, no small feat.  The audience really engaged; not sure if it was because the WiFi came back to life or because a lot of people fly Jet Blue!

Ian Schafer Social Fresh 2013

Ian Schafer from Deep Focus spoke on Mobile First. “60% of active users access Twitter via mobile …”  And then we had our Beyonce Super Bowl moment, when we zapped the power – apparently crashing the entire block.  350 people with phones, laptops and iPads all charging just might trip a hotel’s circuit breaker!  Amazingly, it was back on in about 5 minutes.  Ian’s main message:  “The best mobile ad is a brand’s most engaging content.”

Chris Tuff Social Fresh 2013

Chris Tuff of 22Squared tackled how to achieve ROI via content, analytics and paid:  “Art & Science:  Right content & right people & right time = success.”  Hyper target sub tribes. Value of Impressions: Twitter – 15 mins, Facebook – 1 hr, Instagram – 2 days. Tumblr sticky for 9 days. ROI = Return on Impressions as well as Return on Investments.

Christopher Penn Social Fresh 2013

Last speaker on Day 1 was Christopher Penn, from Shift Communications, who addressed Earned Media.  “Earned media is anywhere people talk about how awesome you are (or aren’t)!” Love Chris’ Marketing Circle of Life (slide 8).  The difference between Owned, Paid and Earned is clearly defined on slide 12:)  The goal: Do social business well, achieve earned media.

Jim Tobin Social Fresh 2013

Jim Tobin from Ignite Social Media kicked off Day 2 by talking about the Power of Organic on Facebook.  “Earn it.  Don’t buy it.”  “Tobin’s Law:  The size of a brand’s network is always smaller than the size of its network’s network.”  Say what?  Simply:  You want the people who are friends with your network to engage with you.  The T-shirt photo below left visually depicts Jim’s concept.  Real success is when you have more shares/interaction from your network’s network than your network itself.

Your friends' friends, babyAdam Kmiec Social Fresh 2013

Adam Kmiec from Campbell’s presented an Insights Driven Organization.  “We’re data rich and insight poor.”  “Strategy, Community Management, Content, and Insights are all required to do social business well.”  Slide 40 is his prescription for success.  Many of the SMB attendees drooled over the idea of having the resources to employ some of the tools Adam uses!

Ted Rubin Social Fresh 2013

Ted Rubin of Collective Bias talked about the Return on Relationships: “Social is just a facilitator of relationships.” “Listen.  Make it be about THEM.  Ask “How can I serve you?”  Aim for ongoing engagement.”  “Relationships are the new currency.”  Based on the number of tweets generated, the crowd really liked Ted.

Ryan Cohn Social Fresh 2013

Ryan Cohn from Sachs Media Group spoke about CEOs and social business. “16% of CEOs are on social — expected to rise to 57% within 5 years!” “LinkedIn is the only platform with more CEOs than general population.”

Chris Brogan Social Fresh 2013

It was my first time hearing Chris Brogan of Human Business Works speak, so I was enjoying Friday afternoon at Social Fresh.  Chris’ basic prescription for success:  1.  How do I add value?  2.  How do I make my buyer the Hero?  3.  How do I equip my buyer for success?  4. How do I attract more audience?  And then build them into my Community?

Jay Baer Social Fresh 2013

Jay Baer from Convince & Convert presented Youtility, the subject of his new book. “If you help someone, you create a customer for life.” “Answer every question via your various forms of content and engagement media.” “Youtility is a process, not a project. The ‘We’re awesome, click here’ is short-term, not long-term.”

Katie Richman Social Fresh 2013

Katie Richman from ESPN talked about creating “reskinnable content.”  “Consumption is less about reflecting who we are … more about who we want to be.” – Paul Mullins.  Loved Katie’s description of Pinterest:  It’s magazine collages 30 years later!

Kevin Vine Social Fresh 2013

Kevin Vine from Dunkin’ Donuts finished the conference on a high note when he spoke about Encouraging User-Generated Content.  “We don’t own our social media channels – our fans do.”  “Listen -> Learn -> Engage -> Celebrate”  “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is.  It’s what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit  “Make your fans and followers Stars.”

Why did I include “Back to Basics Baby” in my post title?  While I recapped 14 speakers in < 900 words (a miracle:), I could have done it in much fewer:  Tell Stories.  Make it About Them.  Humanize.  Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.  Return on Impressions.  Earn It.  It’s about your Network’s network.  Use insights to inform business decisions.  It’s still just all about the relationship.  Make your customer the Hero.  Help someone and create a customer for life.  Don’t reinvent the wheel every time.  Encourage participation; make them Stars.

Here’s how I know Social Media has grown-up into Social Business:  It’s no longer about how to use Facebook or Twitter for business, what the latest and greatest platform is, if you need a Pinterest or Google+ profile.  It’s back to being about your customers and how you can help them move forward.  It’s back to the heart of your business – those humans you call customers.

Speaking of Humanizing, Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh, celebrated his birthday around Social Fresh, so here’s a photo of his surprise cupcake.  Happy Birthday Jason and many, many more!

Jason Keath Social Fresh 2013

Another human touch?  The Tweets So Fresh mug I won for being one of two people who’ve attended four Social Fresh conferences.  I love my mug:)  It makes me feel like a Star!

Tweets So Fresh Mug

All photos courtesy of Social Fresh and Spherical Communications


P.S. Learn to Write

“Bad writing is killing America. Learn to write well.” ~ @petershankman

Recently on Twitter, I ran across a Livestream link to Peter Shankman speaking at a conference; heard him speak at Social Fresh last year and loved him.  Peter is funny, gets social, wrote a book called Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World, and just makes you feel good.  So I listened to him while doing other things, but when he got to his rule: Learn to Write, I clicked over to watch the Livestream.  He had written down some of the classics:  Your vs. You’re and Their, They’re and There, etc.  Decided then I’d write a blog post titled P.S. Learn to Write. (Get the double entendre? Ooh, I’m funny, n’est-ce pas?)  It actually took a few more things to make it happen, but first, my English teacher impersonation:

Your:  Indicates ownership or possession, e.g. “Put your shoes where they belong.”  Meaning:  Those shoes belong to you, but they sure as hell don’t belong there!  (See English can be fun!)

You’re:  Contraction for you are, e.g. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”  Meaning:  Flattery will get you everywhere.  (See English can be fun!)

Their:  Indicates ownership or possession, e.g. “Their yard is amazing, isn’t it?”  Meaning:  “Why doesn’t our yard look that good?” (wife) or “Jeez, I wish our yard looked like that!” (husband)  (See English … OK, you get my drift!)

They’re:  Contraction for they are, e.g. “They’re spending the summer in the south of France.”  Meaning:  Um, they’re very lucky!

There:  Usually a place, e.g. “I’ll see you there.”  “Put them over there.”  “I would love to go there!”

The one that’s bugging me enough to write this post (before the mishaps below) is how people caption their photos on Facebook and Twitter.  A basic rule of thumb for when to use I or Me:  Say it without the other person and you’ll instinctively know the right grammar!  For example, “I’m going shopping.”  “T and I are going shopping.” “T invited me to go to the south of France with him.”  (Yes, please!)

So for pictures:  Let’s say we’re at the beach, the caption would read, “T and me at the beach” or simply, “T and me.”  It’s never “T & I at the beach.”  If T weren’t in the photo, I wouldn’t write, “I at the beach.”  If it’s a picture of me alone, I can write, “Here I am at the beach,” or “Me at the beach,” or simply, “At the beach.”  Most photos I see have captions that read, “Dick, Jane, Spot and I.”  Correction:  “Dick, Jane, Spot and me,” because if you remove Dick, Jane and Spot … it’s just me (not I)!  Unless you write something like, “Dick, Jane, Spot and I went to the park and had a blast!” because removing them would still result in proper English, “I went to the park and had a blast!”

OK, so while that has made me want to go all Grammar Police, the following things happened in May:

1.  A friend posted this headline from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper to his Facebook profile.  I immediately spotted the mistake and commented, “Where have all the editors gone?”  The headline was published with the word ‘Politically’ spelled wrong.

2.  An agency advertised a freelance social media position, so I checked out the website where I found the word ‘Article’ spelled ‘Artcile’ and the hyperlink didn’t link to the intended article.  It immediately made me question the agency’s quality of work.  When I recently rechecked it, the entire segment was gone.  Not linking here though because my copywriting skills could help them!

3.  Someecards posted this picture to Facebook yesterday and while I liked the sentiment, I couldn’t help but correct the grammar before reading the other comments.  Turns out half of the comments related to the grammar!  Affect = influence, effect = result; sign should read, ” …. affect me … affect you.”

4.  The coup d’état of grammatical/editing errors occurred on Mitt Romney’s mobile app where America was spelled ‘Amercia.’  Either Mitt was giving a big shout out to the role the CIA will play in his government, or somebody working on his mobile app clearly wasn’t paying attention!

So, does any of this concern you?  Is it just the overzealous English major in me?  Or journalist in Peter?  Is it simply that everyone is moving so fast to meet a deadline that no one reads their final version?  Or is it indicative of a larger shift within our culture?  Sure, people’s Facebook pages and Twitter profiles are their own, but these other examples are from major brands:  a newspaper, an agency and the Republican presidential candidate.  What’s really weird is the analyst in me identified that the three examples above all involve the letters I and C … so should we change “mind your Ps & Qs” to “mind your Is and Cs?”

I wonder if in ten years we’ll officially use ‘your’ interchangeably like people already do?  Will it become acceptable for brand documents, websites, apps, etc. to contain grammatical errors/typos?  Am I just being a priss ass?  Or is my brother Jeff right; I should have been an English teacher?  The truth is, I agree with Peter:  We all need to learn to write well!

Please comment below:  Is our country in dire straights when it comes to writing or are we just communicating at such a pace there are bound to be errors?


Social Fresh East

Social Fresh held its East conference here in Tampa last week and I was lucky enough to attend!  It was my third Social Fresh in a year; attended Social Fresh Tampa last February and Social Fresh Charlotte last September.  Loved all three, and like all knowledge, each built on the next.  For the first two, I wrote posts covering each speaker and topic, but this is a more of a summary.

When I think back to my first conference (without rereading my blog posts), the big take away was that social media is the *how* and not the *what.*  My analogy is if you remember work before Microsoft Office, you know Office changed how work got done, but not the work itself.  Products were still made, marketed, sold, but Office changed how the business world worked.  Social is the same; it just changes the how, not the what.  The what in this case covers customer service, marketing, public relations and sales.  So now Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are the tools to reach people to provide customer service, to market your brand, to do soft public relations and to sell.

The Charlotte conference offered 18 speakers over two days covering a broad range of topics; what I remember most is how important blogging is for brands, the growth and popularity of video, and incorporating mobile into your plans.  The whole idea is to generate content that will attract your desired audience.

Initially I wanted to attend this year’s conference to hear the talks on Google+, launched last summer by invitation, and Pinterest.  My favorite take away from last week is more global:  “Figure out what kind of relationship you want between your brand & audience and *then* figure out tools, etc.”  Basically create your marketing strategy first and then figure out the how.  A little research doesn’t hurt.  Statistics tell us that two-thirds of the US is on Facebook, 25 million are on Twitter, and the new kids, Google+ is predominately male and Pinterest is predominately female (thus far).  What might be smart is to survey your existing customers / audience (hire a firm or use SurveyMonkey or Survey Gizmo and do it yourself) to see where your customers spend the most time!  If the idea of social media is to engage your audience where they are, why not find out where they are and then prioritize your activities accordingly (understanding that Facebook will always play based on saturation)?

Scott Monty from Ford spoke about being the first brand on Google+ and has found between its earned, owned and paid media, they’ve generated as much buzz as a SuperBowl commercial would.  Shauna Causey, formerly of Nordstrom, shared the top uses for Pinterest are: #1 recipes, #2 fashion, #3 inspirational quotes, #4 news, #5 home, #6 travel, #7 funny photos.  So, if you’re a B2C food brand or store, you may have the best results on Facebook and Pinterest.  If you’re a B2B small software company, it might be Twitter and Google+.  If you’re a B2C health care company targeting older folks, Facebook may be where you’ll have the biggest engagement since it has the largest 55+ community.  Matthew Knell spoke about fragmentation within social media, exploring the concept that some people prefer other sites like Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram and Tumblr, etc.  Restaurants can effectively use Foursquare by offering perks for checking in, in addition to Facebook and Twitter.  Who hasn’t heard the Peter Shankman/Morton’s Twitter story?  Grocery stores may have an opportunity to capitalize on mobile coupons via Foursquare.  Christopher Moody said, “Don’t try to know it all or do it all.”  That’s the key; figure out what works best for *your brand and audience* based on data and then customize your how!  Test, monitor, listen and measure along the way.  There are many avenues to pursue in social media marketing, but not all will be successful for all brands.  Google+ is probably worth the time investment solely for SEO reasons (prioritizing themselves in their search algorithm) even if a lot of your audience isn’t there yet.

Linked below are blog posts from other attendees; some highlight tweets from each speaker (love the Storify posts!), while others focus on select speakers and presentations.  Just like the diversification in social, I love reading what resonated with other attendees:
From Ashely Ray, Ballywho Interactive:  Social Fresh EAST – Day 1  http://sfy.co/YD  Social Fresh EAST: day 2 http://sfy.co/YYZ
From Barbara Nixon, PR professor:  The Best of Social Fresh East 2012, Day One http://wp.me/pfmfx-1gB
East Day 2 a.m. speakers: http://publicrelationsmatters.com/2012/02/07/the-best-of-social-fresh-east-2012-day-two-morning/
Day 2 afternoon post: http://publicrelationsmatters.com/2012/02/07/the-best-of-social-fresh-east-2012-day-two-afternoon/
From Jim Redmile of Accuform Signs:  http://blog.accuform.com/blog/b2b-social-media/social-fresh-east-my-wrap-up
From Matthew Knell of AOL:  http://blog.aol.com/2012/02/13/social-fresh-east-a-look-back/
From SocialMediaToday:  http://socialmediatoday.com/ashley-ray/443704/hot-trends-discussed-social-fresh-east
A nice video with Scott Monty from Social Buzz TV:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV2OpT66ULw
What I love about Social Fresh conferences is they’re always on top of the trends and you have the opportunity to meet, talk and network with people who are living & breathing social media!  Social Fresh changed their format to one annual conference for each coast.  Social Fresh West will be in San Diego September 27 & 28, 2012.  Since I love both San Diego & Social Fresh, I highly recommend it!  So … who’s going to SF in SD in September? 😉

Just Checking the SM Box?

Social media job postings reflect the current state of adoption, e.g. a social media specialist for a brand marketing luxury items to the affluent; perfect posting until $8/hour.  (When I told my BFF about it she exclaimed, “You can make $8/hour at McDonald’s!”)  Saw another posting for a SEO/SM manager who would also be the web developer & programmer.  I recently spoke to a recruiter about a position who said, “It’s very entry-level.”  Me:  “What does that mean exactly?”  “It pays less than $40K/year.”  I’ve even seen a LinkedIn posting for a commissions only SM position, which shows a lack of understanding of the time it takes to build an audience, following, etc.

It makes me wonder if people are just ‘checking the Social Media Box’ without fully understanding its power?  “Yep, we’ve got Facebook & Twitter too!”  Most SM folks agree that a brand’s social media strategy should represent the brand DNA (core beliefs, competencies, values) and meld branding, customer service, marketing and public relations while engaging and curating an audience.  How much experience in these areas can someone have who’s working for $8/hour?  If someone’s working for $8/hour at our well-known, well-loved national brand with the golden arches whose french fries I love and ticks off a customer, it’s a one person/time thing; unlike tweets that can be read around the world, country, state, county or city, etc.  (Some may say, “Well, the customer in that instance could still tweet about it.”  True; but consumers of fast-food restaurants forgive a lot simply because it’s a fast-food restaurant.  When you read something representing a brand on the Internet, you expect more.)  Do folks understand the role social media play in their various business strategies?  Or is it they don’t view it as a strategy, but rather just something ‘fun’ for their customers or fans?

Is this why a lot of social media people work for agencies rather than individual brands?  You can set it up, create the strategy and then if the brand doesn’t follow through or actually give it the resources it deserves then it’s their bad?  I’m reminded of a small brand who I encouraged a while ago to “Unlock your tweets!”  They’re still sending out locked tweets to eleven followers; not to be rude, but why bother?  As brands migrate to social media platforms, they need to think about what they want to accomplish from a business objective rather than doing it just to do it.  I have a favorite beach spot and would love to do their social media.  They currently have their food manager doing their Facebook on the side.  I’ve tweeted them but never receive a reply because they just tweet out; don’t actually converse with people.  I can envision adding a blog to their website, and really using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in a concerted, defined strategy that would definitely increase business.

So social media folks, I would love to hear your take.  My take is that doing it half-way is akin to piling the family in the car for a nice drive and then asking the 4 yr old to drive.  Do businesses really understand the value that a good social media strategy can bring and the resources that go into doing it well, including monitoring systems, etc?  Or is this strictly Fortune 100 – 500 behavior?  Please share your experiences below!


LNKD In 8 Tweets

On May 12th @garyvee (Twitter Bio:  Family 1st! but after that, Businessman- @Vaynermedia, I taste wine @dailygrape, Author of @TYEbook & a dude that Loves the hustle, people & the @nyjets http://thankyoueconomybook.com) tweeted, “Do you like/use linkedin ? Yes/No and why.”  This blog post is the fleshed out version of my eight tweets sent in reply, plus.

First tweet:  “LI since 2006. Biz dream; especially now it’s common to switch careers/industries. Great way to stay connected to old work peeps!”  Shorthand to indicate I joined LinkedIn in 2006 and think it’s a dream for those in business who move around a lot.

Decided to expand with second tweet: “Didn’t really use until laid off. Great job search/networking tool. OL work communities. Also, online Rolodex as peeps move around.”  Although I joined in 2006, I didn’t have a 100% complete profile with photo until 2010.  Up until that point, I LinkedIn to people, but didn’t do too much with it.  Now I use the job search tool, post status updates, join groups and participate in discussions, add events, create polls … in short, I actually use it!

A networking meeting presentation which really made an impact came to mind, so my third tweet:  “LI charges ~ $200 to post job; other job boards are ~ $800. But if you post under a group, it’s free:) All real, current jobs.”  Critical thing I learned about LinkedIn recently that made me intuitively know it will continue to grow:  they charge 25% of what job boards like Career Builder, Indeed, etc. do and they don’t show jobs which have already been filled.  Jobs posted on LinkedIn are real and currently available.  For the savvy LI user / recruiter / company, anyone who joins a group, e.g. Social Media Marketing, can post a job for free under that group.

Fourth tweet was born from a recruiter who spoke at networking meeting: “Per mtgs: Recruiters love LI: it’s cheap & can tap ‘passive candidates’ (currently employed). Think LI to soon replace job boards.”   Not only is it less expensive for a company to post on LI, but it allows HR recruiters to search their huge database for people with the skills they seek.  As this recruiter said, “Instead of posting a job and praying that the right person responds, you can search yourself using keywords to find and engage them.”

Fifth tweet:  “LI: Can ‘group’ your connections: colleagues, partners, etc. Moved geo; then laid off. Have new TB peeps grouped; find easy” communicated how you can segment connections.  You can group connections by colleagues, group members, friends, partners and classmates.

Sixth tweet:  “Per LI preso @ Pinellas Prof Network Mtg: Global comp reduced HR recruiting costs from $3M down to $1Million by solely using LI.”  Saw video of HR executive at global company stating she’d reduced her annual recruiting budget by $2 million using LinkedIn.  Regardless of the economic collapse of past three years, that is an example of the value and cost containment businesses seek, plain and simple.

Seventh tweet:  “Whether SM consultant or wine expert, I’d be adding all clients to LI. Orgs / Co’s not faceless; just people. They move around.”  People hire people.  Work experts say it’s becoming common to change jobs every three to five years.  LinkedIn is a way to stay connected to everyone, colleagues and clients, from different positions.  The real beauty is that your connections do the work of keeping their information current for you!

Eighth tweet:  “Most folks use FB for just fam & friends; not all on twttr. LI is ‘safe’ for work/assoc/event peeps. SM strategy should incl LI!”  Early adopters, geeks and social media peeps aside, many adults restrict their Facebook to friends and family only.  A lot aren’t on Twitter.  Most consider LinkedIn the social networking site for work and professional association / event contacts.  Given this, everyone working in social media marketing needs to consider LinkedIn in their overall strategy.

A week after Gary Vay-ner-chuk tweeted his LinkedIn question and my tweet take on it, LNKD went public and doubled its initial price offering the first day.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/19/us-linkedin-ipo-risks-idUSTRE74H0TL20110519  At this moment June 7th a.m., it’s trading at $83.xx.  http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=LNKD&ql=1

On June 1st LinkedIn announced a new “Apply with LinkedIn” button, which will allow people to submit their profiles in lieu of a résumé.  LI profiles contain typical resume information, as well as include recommendations, blogs, groups one belongs to and other valuable information to potential employers.  I have my LinkedIn profile linked on my résumé.

LinkedIn is here to stay with an appropriate market value.  #LI is in the process of revolutionizing professional networking and job placement, and provides everyone with a professional online platform for their own personal branding.

That’s my take on LNKD; what’s yours?  Do you use LinkedIn?  Like it?

Here’s LNKD ringing NYSE’s bell on May 19th:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCrYkEVygIs

Wikipedia’s overview of the company:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn


Oprah’s Love Letter to Us

I just finished watching the final Oprah Winfrey show.  Twice.  The first time I experienced it.  The second time I was writing down my favorite quotes on the inside of the June issue of O magazine with “THANK YOU!” on the cover.  Initially planned to tweet them out, but a blog post is much more appropriate; unlimited characters and more permanent.  So here, in Oprah’s own words, are twenty-five quotes summarizing her twenty-five year show:

1.  “I wanted to encourage you to be more of yourself.”

2.  “I always wanted to be a teacher.  And I ended up in the world’s biggest classroom.”

3.  “This is what I was called to do. … Everybody has a calling. … Your real job is to figure out what yours is and get about the business of doing it.”

4.  “Each one of you has your own platform. … Yours is wherever you are. … Use your power in your circle of influence.”

5.  “We’re all confused about fame vs. service in this country.”

6.  “Use your life to serve the world.”

7.  “Nobody but you is responsible for your life.  Doesn’t matter what your momma did; doesn’t matter what your daddy didn’t do.”

8.  “You are responsible for the energy you create for yourself, and that you bring to others.”

9.  “All of life is energy.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  That is the abiding law that I live by.  The Golden Rule to the 10th power.”

10.  “You are responsible for your life.  When you get that, everything changes.  So don’t wait for somebody else to fix you, save you or complete you.  (Jerry Maguire was just a movie!)”

11.  “All addictions have the same root.  This show has taught me there’s a common thread to our pain and suffering:  unworthiness.”

12.  “We often block our own blessings because we didn’t feel inherently good enough … or worthy enough.”

13.  “What this show has taught me is that you are worthy because you were born.  And because you are here.  You, alone, are enough.

14.  “I’ve spoken with nearly 30,000 people; they all wanted validation.  ‘Do you see me?  Do you hear me?  Does what I say mean anything to you?'”

15.  “Understand this one principle:  Everybody wants to be heard.”

16.  “Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your friends, your co-workers:  Give them this gift – ‘I see you.  I hear you.  What you say matters.'”

17.  “We (everyone at The Oprah Winfrey Show) are all aligned with a vision of service to our viewers.”

18.  “I’ve been asked many times what is the secret to my success.  My answer is always the same:  ‘My team & Jesus.’  Nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me.”

19.  “Many of you have asked, ‘What God do you refer to?’  The Alpha and the Omega … the divine force … the one and only G*O*D … that’s the one I’m talking about.”

20.  “Grace is always working in my life and it can be in yours too.  It’s yours for the asking.”

21.  “I have felt the presence of God my whole life, even when I didn’t have a name for it.  … Be still and know it. … Know it.”

22.  “What I know is God is love and God is life.  And your life is always speaking to you.”

23.  “And so I ask you:  What are the whispers in your life? … Your life is speaking to you. … What is it saying?”

24.  “You all have been a safe harbor for me. … You and this show have been the great loves of my life.”

25.  “I thank you for sharing this yellow brick road of blessings. … I won’t say goodbye; I’ll just say, ‘Until we meet again.’  To God be the Glory.”

Miss Oprah Gail Winfrey, what I know for sure is that I am a better person after watching your show the past ten years!  Thank you. Godspeed and Love!

http://landing.newsinc.com/shared/video.html?freewheel=90051&sitesection=nydailynews&VID=23417941