Friday, December 18, 2009

"The Times They Are A Changin'"

Who could say it better than Dylan? Well, maybe not say so much as moan and groan it out of his being...but nevertheless...

Year end reflecting is annoying at best, but necessary I suppose to move forward without repeating the same blunders...and repeating the same successful strategies that forged us forward this past year. "Don't Look Back" (Boston) is still engraved in my skull from old Track days, but a lot of simple missteps can be avoided by a simple glance over the shoulder now and then...or once a year.

I absolutely love my career in Social Media Marketing because I love the challenge of change. Good thing, too, because this year I not only turned 30, but am pregnant again. Believe me, if you can't welcome change you have about as much business being in Social Media as you do being pregnant. (That's business.)

As I review the years best Blogs (in my favorites, anyway), I am once again amazed at how the landscape of Social Media changes so vastly and rapidly. Look at Twitter. What did you honestly think of it last December. Now, you can't avoid thinking of it. The standout winner of progress this year is indefinitely Facebook. I've been rooting for Facebook for a while now, and even though Twitter has the buzz's really going to have to come up with some whammy apps and developments if it wants to take on the book of face. The demographics of Tweeters and Facebookers are slowly aligning. Will it be necessary to have both? Just my educated take.

Search, my friends, is on fire. We all know the importance of being up on your 'Google' if you want online success, but up on your 'Social?' Real time search is the new wave. It will push those that are not already hooked on social media to be involved just to survive in the market. When given the choice to search for current or NOW...what would you choose? Human curiosity can barely stand it's self as it is...we have to know and be in the know. Trust me, be in the social media search light.

Video speaks for itself. The first thing I do when a commercial makes me bust a gut is share the link to it on YouTube on my Facebook and Twitter. If you are a company trying to make headway within Social Media and you don't have an established theme and plan for video then forget it. Interactive apps are going to start becoming more prevalent on Facebook, and you're site is going to lose traction if you don't have it. Don't just copy to keep up with the big boys, because it will translate as a desperate attempt to be a part of their wake. Look inside your business, your brand, yourself, and find what makes you and/or your company or brand move. What fuels it? Once you find it, make it original. Spin it to coincide with the rest of your mission statement.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of good customer service. When my computer caught a virus this week, because of something I clicked online, I almost melted down. One, because I of all people with a trained eye should have know better, and second because my computer is just as much of a lifeline as my cell phone. Never have I been so impressed by the Geek Squad as they broke down the steps of how to fix it. And I did. I fixed it myself. Here is an entity seemingly not in it to rip my face off to fix my computer, but to help me understand what happened and how to correct it. Knowledge is power, my friends.

The same results are achieved with Social Media everyday. It's the perfect outlet for customers to ask questions and place gripes. They expect a scripted answer or their comment to be deleted just like I expected to have my face ripped off to service my computer. When you floor them with helpful advice...when you go the extra mile to be helpful and inform them beyond what they asked for...that's when you gain major traction in Social Media. That's when you gain and keep customers. That's when those customers spread the word.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, readers!
Looking onward to the changes of 2010.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's in a Status Update?

"What does it all mean, Basil?"

What's funnier than a list of the best Facebook updates? Well, a whole lot of other things, actually. However, humor me as I go with an answer that will suit this blog topic. What's funnier than a list of the best Facebook updates? Witnessing and/or imagining their misinterpretation.

Example status update: "I'm tired." Could be interpreted to the moon, right? Tired of what? OMG, tired of me? Quitting their job? Dumping their boyfriend? Could mean just in sleepy...right?

This may seem like an over dramatized example, but definitely proves that misinterpretation could befall any status update.

Now, as far as my status update, it most often says straightforwardly what it intends to say. My husband, God love him, has asked on more than one occasion for me to clarify that my current Facebook status update didn't mean he screwed something up. The answer is always a resounding no...but see? It happens. Misinterpretation.

So, as I slowly get to my point...what's worse than an individual abusing the status update?

Businesses abusing the status update. Or owners that try to fuse their business profile with their personal one. Here's some PG examples...

"Great night out at the club!"

"Baking apple pie!"

"So laying out today! Sunny and 80!"

Is any of that appealing to your customer base?

Do what you all will do, but just keep in mind who is seeing your messages when you post them. I don't think your manager cares to know the real reason you were late yesterday more than you care to know what the car dealership owner down the road did last weekend. The esteemed blogging community that you have worked so hard to network with does not want to be involved in your Farmville campaign. Seriously, I know it'll take a little modesty and forethought...but we're all capable...well, maybe not all...

Social media does make it hard to separate your personal life from your business goals. Everyone is easy to find, and it's easy to share what's happening. To be successful, you have to realize on a personal and a business level that you can be found by what you are talking about. Oh, yea, my friends and has gone futuristic, and it's WAY COOL. However, it won't be cool when someone stumbles upon your inappropriate discussion as they search for the best credit union in the area. Talk about a snap judgement...try a click judgement. If you thought word of mouth traveled fast, try word by text messaging, comments, and retweets. Yikers!

It CAN work, having just one landing spot for personal and business use, but it takes some honest soul searching. If you have a completely different personality outside of your professional life, than it's obviously...or maybe not so obvious for some...a bad idea to fuse the two. It may be that your personal and professional life bleed together because of the time spent there, but keep in mind that to much information is a turn off your your customers and patrons that do business with you. Even though you can be found both places, customers and friends a like will appreciate the effort to separate the two.

Once again, I'm advising that you have a plan. Build a process. Execute it faithfully. be consistent. Even on a personal level. You don't want your Kindergarten teacher, who you thought would be cute to friend request, to know who you did or where you didn't make it to last night. Have some quoth... and be conscious of what is offensive to the general population. As a business, separate it just a little bit from your personal outlet of social media. The occasional cross-over is acceptable, but your friends don't want to be blasted by your occupation any more than your occupational circle wants to be blasted by your personal detailed weekend updates and photographs.

Businesses and professionals, severely reduce your chances of embarrassing yourself out there, and build a successful process for social media.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

But Miley doesn't want to be a pirate!

Besides being one of the funniest moments in TV history, this is an exaggerated example of the consequence of poor communication.

Whether you just can't hear what your social media marketer is saying to you, or you simply aren't listening to the proposed plan, don't end up in a puffy shirt. Gaining influence in social media is tricky. You will have to trust someone else's expertise with the brand image you've sought so diligently to develop and protect. Although the most costly mistake for companies and business peeps getting into the game is to ignore what their social media expert's even worse to act like you comprehend what he/she is proposing if you simply don't. A humbling experience, maybe, to admit to needing something spelled out. However, the costly humiliation of a puffy shirt incident that could have been avoided exceeds any prior embarrassment.

What the heck do I mean?

Seek out a professional who is not a part of the flashy, 'I can solve any problem and shoot you to the top guaranteed', crowd. Someone not trying so hard to be hired by everyone. Try to find someone who just has a knack for this unconventional type of marketing. Of course, I'm going to use myself as an example. Seemingly self-touting bits aside, I found a way to establish the dream that I dreamt sitting in college lectures doodling on my notebook...a way to be a stay at home mom and still pursue a marketing career. I always wanted both, and I never gave up either dream. It's the normalcy that helps keep the words I write stay alive.

I don't want to be pirate!

Miley Cyrus might be have a point. Do you want to be known as the person who has 2 million followers on Twitter, or the one that has developed a manageable amount of solid, enviable relationships? I, myself fell in love with the little blue bird at first sight, but at times get a little burnt out and need to clean the bird house. It's insane to think that one Tweeter can have a personal relationship with thousands of people, and creepy to know that millions know what you ate for breakfast???(I wonder if they foster the same relationships with their next door neighbors.) But throwing the whole proverbial towel in on the tweetie? Not so smart for a business...which Miley kind of is...and she just alienated millions fans that connected with her that way. Who's her social media guru?

From a business standpoint, have a plan that includes developing a relationship with your fanbase on social media before blasting them with sales promotions. If you don't have time, you better hire someone like myself to establish a good process for you. Be efficient. My 19, yes 19, social networks are turned off when I want to be able to focus my attention on my, when she's awake. I live efficient processes.

I don't have all the answers for all that is social media, because no one really does. It changes daily, and I adjust daily. It's the beauty of it, really. There's no time to stop and cash in on a quick fix. By the time you implement it, it's outdated. Only a good process efficient enough to adjust to the constant change that is social media will prevail.

...I do know how to fix a boo-boo pretty quick like. Maybe their will be a time when I tweet each one and how I've fixed it...and 2 million people want to know...but for now, I don't want to be a pirate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Social Media Overload, the next part.

U2 in Chicago

I was again reminded how important it is to use a communicative platform in just. Whether or not you agree with Bono's outspoken political stance, no one that can deny that he has advantaged his fame to call attention to causes that he feels are important to our world. He isn't afraid to make a scene or stop a concert to make sure unforgettable faces of this world don't go unnoticed, and moreover, to stay true to who he is. The music is a given. The humanity rocks.

The Social Media Overload I elude to this time is the 'flakiness' overload. The 'quick fix,' 'hurry up and build a social media site with absolutely no plan or direction accept that we have really good deals we want everyone to know about!'

It doesn't matter how many status updates you post, blogs you write, videos you upload, or tweets you send out if they are void of content. The crowd amassed on social media sites will see through any facade you put up in order just to sell them things. What do they want, then?

Look, we all know that everyone is trying to sell us everything all of the time. It's a given that if someone becomes a fan of your company's site that they either have the product you sell already or are thinking about it. Leave that hook for your TV commercials.

Here, you have to humanize your company and your product. People come to social media to socialize with their friends.

My dad gave me a pocket guide to Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" when I was young. In it are the invaluable truths that companies need to apply to their social media.

It's all about how many friends you have...not acquaintances.

The challenge of this media is that instead of simply finding what people are interested in and blasting them with it, they want to know who YOU are. And if you are a ga-zillion different personalities, and ever-changing depending on who your biggest fan base is this week, you'll fail. Take a stance. A stance. Not 5, 10, or 20 stances.... a stance.

Find and focus on your humans. Be human in your posts and updates. Be honest in allowing those that join your site to comment both positively and negatively. Being involved in a digital community is only different in the digital aspect than being involved in your own physical community. Treat is as such. BE PATIENT. Build over time, you'll have a fan base that tells their friends to be fans and so on. Oh, and they'll probably buy stuff from you, too.

Happy posting, updating, uploading, tweeting, friend requesting, following, content building, commenting.....................

Monday, August 31, 2009

Social Media Overload, Part 1.

In the quest to master all that encompasses Social Media, it's easy to get lost in what's already been said and done. Even in the most generous of thought sharing's inevitible that we're always one step behind. As technology continues to evolve, it can be difficult to decipher a successful process from outdated material. Point being, if you are looking to make a mark in the Social Media game, you better have a good process in place.

I’m a runner. Social Media is a race. I can train all I want, but if I’m not mentally prepared to capitalize on those efforts when the gun goes off, I lose.

It’s the Internet, of course, but it’s no longer as simple as having a good website. Now, you better have an ever-changing, content driven website that’s picked up by the ever elusive search engine (let’s face it, Google) crawlers to boost your ranking so that your target audience sees it. Urban or rural doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone is accessible, and everyone has access. Oh, and one more thing…I would highly consider a strong, smart, presence within Social Media intertwined with your website, or no one may notice it at all.

Is your company prepared? Who’s coaching you?

Let’s recap. Where before, in the dark ages, you could get away with just a http://www.thisis, now I’m telling you to master search engines and present your company in Social Media? Yeah, ok. And we’re going to do all that how? And we’re going to track that this is working, how? And, who are we going to trust to make sure our brand stays consistent throughout all of these Internet marketing channels and our other marketing efforts as well?

Have you set out to run a marathon as if it’s a sprint?

The game hasn’t completely changed. The basic Marketing process is the same. It’s simple marketing: be where your buyer can see you. And your buyer is knees deep in blogs and social networking sites like Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter.

When done with the proper E-etiquette, any business can enter into Social Media successfully. The hitch is time consumption. Although a simple Facebook profile for one user doesn’t take more than an hour a day to maintain diligently without a personal assistant, keeping up with and ahead of the ball game on multiple profiles on multiple networks takes a good process.

I’ve been up to my ears in Social Media for years, and it still takes an enormous amount of gusto to stay at the cusp of it all. See, what might have been an informative training video on You Tube last year, or 6 months ago…or even 2 weeks ago, could be outdated material. It’s crucial to the modern day business to have a process that will not only capitalize on the current trend, but the many to follow as well.

The people and the tools for success in Social Media might be within your company already. You might just need to instill a good process and adapt with some good coaching for success. Or, you might need a complete start up or reboot from the outside in. Create and maintain a Social Media presence to stay consistent with your brand message…and maintain an honest message.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Holy New Direction, Batman..

Social Influence Marketeer.

No, I didn't disappear into a black hole without Internet access. Breathe easy, I'm here to grace your eyes with my positivity for another blog.

Reflecting on my journey the past couple of months, I'm really proud of myself for putting my daughter in front of my career and my paycheck.

Job eliminated, I embarked on a mission to inform the uniformed, and organize the unorganized in all ways Social Internet Marketing. Rather than abandon the auto industry when they needed me the most, I really wanted to help in some small way make that turn out of the realm of disaster. Not planning to be the victim of a time clock, I was really looking forward to a more active part in raising my daughter. That was my plan...

In the midst of buying a vehicle to replace my dealer car, I came across an opportunity to work at a local credit union. Realizing this would make some laugh as if I'd kissed my career good-bye, and some chomp at the bit knowing they had a chance to pick my brain...I just couldn't pass it up. So here I am, Social Influence Marketeer...part time teller.

It's freaking awesome, too. Eye-opening how nice everyone is... Instead of someone berating me, I have someone who's a little frustrated about their account balance. To think, I almost forgot how genuinely nice most people are.

I decided to stop pushing myself to consult dealerships right away, and just let go and ride this wave for a little bit to see where it goes, and where the demand for Social Marketing is. Less than 2 months later, I'm still being sought out by car peeps. Not only does that feel awesome, it builds my confidence. It's directing me back to what I love to do. And thank God, because I miss it!

Feeling like I'm about to bust into a pretty cool opportunity, my dream of bossing myself around seem within my grasp. The hard part of all this...the monumental pay cut. My paycheck makes me laugh and I insane? One look at my daughter and that's dubbed foolishness.

I really miss my BDC peeps. Hopefully I provided a good enough example for them to lead them into the right direction in order to fulfill their own destiny with success. If you are reading, my peeps, thanks for the memories (especially someones mom whom I won't mention in particular.)

Here's to our "cackling" haunting that office forevermore....he he he.

Onward and Upward...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When a Burger Comes Along, You Must Flip It.

"When a burger comes along, you must flip it."
Elmo's voice rings in my ears long after my daughter is asleep. Her favorite show is Sesame Street, as was my favorite (along with Fraggle Rock) when I was her age. The lessons are simple messages that everyone can relate to. This one being, "If an opportunity arises, run with it." So here I am, at another great turning point in my life, and all I can here is Elmo telling me to flip the burger.

I imagined that sooner or later the auto industry would have a direct effect on me, and now as the office I've poured my tears, anxieties, dreams, goals, frustrations, and heartaches into for the last 6 years unravels before me I'm ...excited? Liberated? Jacked up for the next big adventure? As Will Ferrell said in Zoolander, "Am I taking crazy pills?" Is the ether going to wear off and leave me in tatters eating bugs off the ground?

Change is almost always heartbreaking at first. It's Scary. It's Hard. It's New. It's Uncomfortable. But it's also most definitely unforeseeable and unavoidable.

It's a testament to my personal growth that today, change has breathed new life into me.

See, even though 'times are tough,' don't sell out your moral center. That fear that you feel in your gut is meant to scare you into silence. Don't let the scared drag you down with them. People were not intended to live small. Don't ever be afraid to do the right thing. My old mentor, Father Abbot Jerome, is up in heaven going..."I told you to be a leader, and you will be a leader." My Dad would say, "it's destiny." So I let the chips fall where they fell.

My burger came along, and I flipped it.
Time to melt the cheese.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Car Dealerships and Facebook. Looking out for the Customer. A Message to Dealers.

I recently read a post that encouraged car salesmen to create a Facebook account and friend request everyone they knew and those associated to who they knew in an attempt to sell cars. Even if you didn't get a long with that person in high school...friend request them want to sell them a car, don't you?

I've been watching this type of bullying in the car biz for 8 years now. Social networking will be, for some car dealers, the same vain attempt that E-mail campaigns are/were for those that just don't get it.

Why are dealerships getting involved in social marketing? To make money. They can reach a lot of people at a low cost.

So how do you accomplish this without being a bully? Start with a stark realization that it will take a lot of patience and effort to master a good social networking presence.

1. Get Educated.
Before you create a process get educated on what you are about to dive into. It's really important to know proper etiquette, or you'll end up with less loyal followers than you started with. Good buzz spreads fast, but bad buzz spreads like wildfire. Start your own Facebook or Twitter account so you know first hand how it works.

2. Get Connected.
Become a part of the community who's goal is not to abuse the social networking privilege. Good places to start are websites like Mashable, and by joining communities like Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community. Remember, no one person or source has the magic road map to social networking success.

3. Create a good process.
Map out what your customer or owner's journey looks like out there. Couple that with your new education on what's kosher etiquette out there. Then, add good content that is valuable to them and worth them sharing with their friends.

4. Dive in.
Get started. Create a fan site on Facebook. Here's an example. From there, add as you feel comfortable. Don't try to sell things on these sites. Be patient, genuine, and consistent in your message, and add good content.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How-to-buy-a-car Brainstorm...heads up busy moms!

OK, so when times get tough in the car business, customers become even more intimidated to walk onto a dealer's lot. I would be, too. Any salesperson that wants to keep his/her job right now is ready to tackle the first person that walks onto the lot. Can we blame them? They want your business. DON'T walk onto a dealership's lot unprepared. First, try my 5-step brainstorm.

Meg's 5-Step Brainstorm:

1. Your Top 5

Write down the top five cars that you like and the top 5 'must have' features the car must have.

2. Get Smart

Look up each vehicle on the manufacturer's site, and make sure the 5 cars on your list have the 5 'must have' features.

3. Let's Review

Online reviews. Google the remaining vehicles for reviews, etc. and edmunds are great places to start.

4. Support your local economy

Local Dealerships. Find them first. There's no sense driving out of town to find the 'best deal' when your local dealer is probably dying to do the same for you. Support your local economy.

5. Find the best deal

Contact your local dealership. If you can Instant Message them from their website, that's the best way to start your inquiry. There is someone well-trained on the other end to find your answers for you. Have them E-mail you a price quote that you can print out and bring to the dealership....and set an appointment! That way, someone is expecting you. You avoid the whole "attack of the salesperson in the parking lot" nightmare. Plus, that person that has just helped you find your best price most likely gets paid based on how many appointments they make.

How do you determine which local dealer to do business with? Who has made it the easiest for you? Dealers know better than to mess with customer's on price. They should answer your questions upfront, or know where to get the answers for you. If you feel like you are being bamboozled, than you probably are.

Good Luck! Let me know how it goes!

Cars Cars Cars

OK!OK!OK! I will blog! I've been nudged a zillion times and finally cave!
I'm a 3rd generation car career lifer. My grandfather worked for General Motors for 30 years, and so did my dad. My husband, a finance manager, is in his 12th year in the car biz, and our 1 year old has a battery operated vehicle. I think cars might just be in my blood.
8 years ago I started out at Enterprise Rent a Car after graduating from Ashland University, and ended up here at the Kasper Auto Group as Business Development Manager. What does that entail? A little bit of everything and a lot more than you think.
Instead of waiting for my 'dream job' to find me in my sleepy lake town, I choose to apply what I wanted my career to be to what I already did in order to live in the town I dreamed of raising a family in. It's sounds a lot more confident than I really am...Gen Y to the core, I guess. But, I suppose if others are clamoring for me to share my thoughts, I'm off to a good start.

If you are part of the automotive or other type of social influence marketing scene, I hope you value my thoughts. I sure do value your feedback. I've learned everything I know from others in the community. For those outside of the biz, I hope the information I share helps give you a birds eye view of our industry.
Sunny and 80!