Social Media is Different in the Work World

I recently wrote a piece that appeared in Careers in Professional Selling magazine. It is targeted to college students and recent college grads with an interest in sales, and employers who might hire them.


As college students make the transition from campus to their careers many things need to change. How they dress. How they act. Even how they spend their free time. One thing that many don’t change is how they use social media. There’s a big difference between social media for personal use and using it in a more professional context, especially for those starting their careers in selling. Continue reading “Social Media is Different in the Work World”

The First Day of Class

Yesterday I started this social media marketing journey with my two classes. The first thing I did was take panorama pictures of each class. I think this struck them as a bit odd and caught them off guard. But this is social media. Part of what we do is capture what is going on around us and share it with others. So here I am sharing the photos (Click each photo to enlarge).

My 8:00 class

My 11:00 class

I talked about my summer trips to Alaska and Montana. Told some fun stories. Reviewed the class requirements and watched the Bill Gates Ice Bucket Challenge. The students shared some of their summer internships and experience using social media for businesses.


I will be using an iclicker remote system to get answers to student questions every class. I may share some of the more compelling data. Also, my colleague, Dr. Rebecca VanMeter will be surveying my class multiple times during the semester to get their thoughts on social media. I will not see those results until after the semester is over.

This post was originally published on my class blog.

Compelling Stories in “Entirely Off Topic” Spam Comments

Amidst all the broken English, random text spam comments I get on my blog, there are some occasional gems that have been written by someone with a command of the English language. The goal is the same as any other spam comment: to get someone to click on the link. Every marketer knows that if you tell an interesting story, you can get someone’s attention.

Below are two recent examples of this. They are pretty compelling stories. They are simple. They are about one thing. And they are totally irrelevant to the post they were left on, and just as irrelevant to the links they want you click on. But you click because you want some context. Or to see a picture. Or to know a little bit more of the story.

But you never will.

Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! Lol I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

And Now for Something Completely Different

ball-state-cardinalEvery so often life-changing opportunities come along that you just can’t ignore. I am about to embark on one of those. I have been a professional marketer for more than 20 years. I’ve created marketing campaigns for a small company back in the days when a printed catalog was the core of your marketing efforts. I’ve led content marketing for a large technology company in the era where social media is re-writing the rules of marketing. There’s my agency experience layered on top of that which stretches back to the newspaper classified days through web site development, trade show booth management and press releases all the way up to YouTube videos, Facebook pages and client blogs.

I also have a period of consulting and social strategy where I worked with enterprises large and small, including many brands you probably interact with every day, and helped present the vision of how social media could radically change their business. And somewhere through all of this I co-founded a notable social media blog and co-authored a social media book.

Through it all I have not just been focused on building awareness for products and driving sales. I have always considered what it meant to have smarter customers. Marketing is easier if you educate prospects before you try to sell them. This also happens to be the crux of the content marketing explosion where marketers are looking to solve prospects’ business problems with creative, educational and informative content. A good ebook tells you how to do something, not how to use a specific product to do something. And the point of the blog and the book has always been about educating marketers about social media and how to improve their marketing effectiveness with it.

So it feels like a very natural extension of my marketing career that I have accepted a full-time faculty position as a Distinguished Lecturer in the Marketing Department at the Miller College of Business at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. I will be teaching two social media marketing classes per semester with an emphasis on marketing analytics, starting in the fall semester. I will spend this spring semester developing curriculum for my classes, guest lecturing in other marketing classes and beginning to build relationships with the Indiana technology community. It is a bit odd to call it spring semester when the first day of classes were cancelled today due to yesterday’s snowfall of nearly a foot and today’s frigid temperatures (13 below, and wind chill at 35 to 40 below).

As the next generation of marketers emerge from college with their shiny new degrees, these digital natives need to understand what it means to use social media in a business context. While many have experience posting and updating social media channels for college organizations and events, I will help guide them in developing a metrics and data-driven approach to social media that sits alongside the fun and creative engagement that is required to break through the clutter. A traditional marketing background is needed for social media marketing as well, and I plan to build my curriculum around that idea. I will also tap the expertise of my network of marketers and other experts, so if you are interested in helping the next generation of marketers, please let me know.

And for my Triangle area friends, yes, I am moving to Muncie Indiana. I am currently working out the details for what that will look like over the next month or so. I’m also thinking about a going away get together later in January. Watch Facebook for details. Social media will make me seem not that far away. Just check your phone for the latest updates.

High School Reunions in the Facebook Age

In May of 1983, I graduated from high school. There were no home computers, no internet and no cell phones. I wrote everything from school papers, newspaper columns and short stories on a Corona Selectric typewriter with a removable correction cartridge. This typewriter keyboard was huge step beyond pen and paper for me.

The number one song that week was Flashdance (Oh What a Feeling) by Irene Cara. It was displaced by the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” from the album Synchonicity, released a few days later. That song went on to become the biggest hit of the summer. Earlier that month, Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk on a Motown Records tv special.

This was the beginning of the MTV era and we all wanted our MTV. I remember getting something called a “cable-ready” tv, which meant that I could finally watch this entire channel devoted to music videos. A huge tv milestone happened earlier in the year, as 106 million tuned in to the final episode of MASH.

Today I am headed to my 30th High School Reunion in Fort Myers, Florida. Facebook has completely changed the process of planning events like this. We are not the Facebook generation. We were adults with children when Facebook started, but we gravitated to this platform that provided connections. Even though many classmates are still local, everyone seems to be connected to someone from high school on Facebook.

The organizing committee formed a private reunion Facebook group and started adding people last year. This started rebuilding a community of our class on Facebook long before today’s kickoff of the reunion weekend. Schedules were debated, plans were finalized and details were shared within this group. A group event was created for each reunion activity, and we could RSVP by event. It is hard to imagine planning this event with the technology of 30 years ago: telephones, letters and chance meetings in the grocery store.

This also means that those of us who moved away have still been able to keep up with those who didn’t. I see pictures of events and kids of friends that I haven’t seen in years. It has been 20 years since I have seen some people, but we are friends on Facebook.

People who are unable to attend the reunion are also commenting in the group, which builds additional connections beyond those who are here in person.

And where will pictures of the reunion be shared? That’s right, Facebook.

5 Keys to JetBlue’s Social Media Engagement

social-media-engagment-jet-blueJetBlue understands how social media fits into their larger business and engagement strategies. The social team at the airline gets the value of social, but always keeps in mind that their efforts must connect to business objectives like selling tickets and keeping customers happy and loyal.

Here are five of the ways they do this:

1. Understand the Brand Purpose

JetBlue puts people first and their social media interactions follow that approach. It is one thing to inspire travel in an effort to sell tickets, but it is another to make sure customers have a positive experience. By keeping their online conversations real and authentic, they strengthen those connections with customers.

Before shutting off his phone as the airplane door was closing, a passenger tweeted the he was sitting next to a pretty girl and wondered if he should talk to her. He didn’t see the response until he landed, but @JetBlue, along with his friends, were cheering him on and telling him to go for it. That builds a social media brand better than repeated tweets sharing the 800 number for lost luggage.

2. Maintain a Consistent Voice

A company voice is something that is not always apparent in business communications, but there is no hiding behind formal language in social media. In addition to being transparent and open about their communications, JetBlue wants to have fun. Travel can be stressful for passengers and if a light-hearted message can get a laugh while solving a problem, that’s the best of both worlds. The airline has even tweeted at competitors in this friendly manner. Connections to a brand feel more real when the brands act more like people. JetBlue gives their agents wide leeway on social media, so long as they keep the brand’s voice in mind.

3. Create Compelling Content

Yes, they run promotions. Yes, they sponsor posts to get wider reach. But if these messages don’t also educate and inform their online followers then they haven’t done their jobs. The JetBlue team wants to be culturally relevant with their content, but doesn’t want things to be too trendy. Content must be discoverable and shareable. If they don’t think that fans would “own” the content and share it themselves, they don’t publish it.

4. Be in the Right Places

Not all networks are for all companies and JetBlue focuses on limited channels. Twitter is primarily for customer service. Facebook is for promotions and sharing interesting content. They have an Instagram account (for the name), but they don’t have the resources to do it right. They would need commitments from people in every location to post cool photos on a regular basis to provide ongoing insight into life in the JetBlue world. That’s just not possible right now. The above photo is mine, by the way.

5. Try New Things

As more and more passengers started using Twitter to connect to JetBlue, the number of requests to re-book canceled flights increased. Rather than remain in the past mindset of requiring a high-touch phone call with an agent, they realized that one agent could serve multiple passengers at once. This shortened lines and hold times, plus presented the image of a forward-thinking brand that served its customers in the place where they were.

This post originally appeared on Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog.

4 Ways Social Media Supports Top of the Funnel Activities

Social media is not a siloed function within your company. Even if the social media team or social media person sits in marketing, PR or corporate communications, they should not sit there alone. As social media grows throughout an organization, it’s important to have the right champion in place to sell the change that needs to take place, writes Amber Naslund, formerly of Radian6 and now of SideraWorks.

One of the ways to ensure this type of business transformation is to align social media activities with other company activities. A clear place to start is marketing. Don’t focus social efforts solely on growing a fan base or driving page views, support marketing campaigns and activities that drive top of the funnel awareness.

Here are some specific things you can do to support company marketing objectives:

1. Create content that targets marketing personas

Social media content should be targeted. Avoid the spray and pray method of content distribution by working with marketing to speak to their key personas. What are their key business problems? What are their other interests? Where are they having these conversations online? Talking to the correct targets on social media can enhance company efforts to reach this audience. And don’t forget to include an information source and share what you are learning about targets on social networks.

2. Generate awareness by providing value

Top of the funnel social media content does not sell. It provides education on how to solve business problems. It provides entertainment to make people laugh with a purpose. It provides data to make prospects smarter. All of these things offer value to those reading, watching or looking at what you create.

3. Report on metrics that others care about

This one is key to supporting marketing activities, demonstrating the value of social media marketing within an organization (no matter the size) and making a company more social. What metrics are the marketing team tracking as their success metrics? Traffic to landing pages? Conversion rate? Leads generated? Deals closed? Whatever they are reporting on needs to be aligned with how you report your success. It’s great to know how many people liked a Facebook post, but marketing needs to generate leads. How successful was that? Increasing reach, in general or for a specific post through social ads, can help support your metrics, but they are not what you should report to the larger team.

4. Build a social loyalty loop with advocacy

A simple funnel as a metaphor for the sales cycle, or more correctly the buying process, no longer seems applicable in a social era where there are multitudes of paths towards a sale, but one thing is certain. No matter how you draw the process, if you can build advocacy among your existing customers, there is a role they can play using social media to draw more prospects to the top of the funnel. Nurturing your best customers on social media makes them more likely to serve as your advocate by sharing your content, answering questions and even providing recommendations to others online.

This post originally appeared on the blog.

The Ultimate List for Social Media Changes

social-network-changesOne of the challenges marketers face when using social media to communicate and connect with customers is keeping up with all the changes to the various social networks.

The best way to focus on these changes is to follow the social networks’ blogs. This way you won’t have to go searching for the news. If you found a suitable substitute for Google Reader, use the links below and subscribe to each individual blog. If you never quite got Google Reader, and don’t have a substitute for it, you can bookmark each one of the blogs in your browser.


Twitter Blog
@Twitter on Twitter
Twitter on Facebook
Twitter on YouTube


Facebook Developer’s Blog
Facebook on Facebook
@Facebook on Twitter
Facebook on YouTube


Google+ Developer’s Blog
Google+ on Google+
Google+ on YouTube


LinkedIn Blog
@LinkedIn on Twitter
LinkedIn on Facebook


YouTube Blog
YouTube on YouTube
@YouTube on Twitter
YouTube on Facebook
YouTube on Google+
YouTube on Pinterest


Pinterest Blog
@Pinterest on Twitter
Pinterest on Facebook


Tumblr Staff Blog
@Tumblr on Twitter
Tumblr on Facebook


Instagram Blog
@Instagram on Twitter
Instagram on Facebook

Many of these social networks have social presences on other platforms. In some cases you can follow each of the social networks on a different network, preferably the one you spend the most time on. Build a list of the profiles to easily follow them in one place. Both Twitter and Facebook offer the ability to make and follow lists. No matter which method you choose, bookmark this post so you can have a handy reference to all these social profiles in one place.

The post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog.

The Storytelling Power of Spam Comments

I am a big fan of spam comments on my blog (the other one that has posts and traffic), and occasionally I like to collect them and share them. Today I received three comments on the same blog post. Each is fun and unique in its own way, but taken together, they almost tell a story. A short story, but a story nonetheless.

I am English but not speak it very well because I have only nine years and I can hardly speak English because there are some that have not alabras and … you understand me!

What is that thing you are eating? Love the look on the guy’s face behind you in that pic! Is it ice cream? What a strange colour!

Is there a RJ45 port to connect ethernet cable?

10 Social Media Engagement Lessons I Learned from My Mom

social-media-engagement-momAs companies grow their social media presences and begin listening and engaging with customers, not just pushing out corporate messages, it is helpful to remember the words of your mom. Social media teams need to engage in ways that echo these pearls of motherly wisdom.

1. Be Polite and Respectful

This should be at the heart of any customer communication, and social media is no different. Some brands adopt a friendly or cheeky tone, but you still need be polite and respect your customers’ views and opinions (even if you don’t agree with them).

2. Speak Clearly

Successful social media efforts support goals that require customers and prospects to take action. Make sure it is clear they know what action they should take to answer their questions or resolve their issues.

3. Be Kind to Others

Social media conversations are shareable, screen-shotable and forever Googleable. If you are rude to your customers and prospects, it will not lead to good things. It can be the short term loss of a customer or a sale or a long term reputation as a company who doesn’t care about their customers, and neither are worth pursuing.

4. If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All

No matter what you think about your competitors, you should never berate them in social media. Either be cordial to them online, or just be quiet.

5. Pick Up Your Things

Social media can get messy, especially as brands try to participate in real-time marketing with mixed results. New platforms arrive, companies create profiles, only to abandon to them with little interaction. Audit your full social media presence, review your new activities and see what kind of message it presents to customers and prospects.

6. Clear Your Plate

When engaging with customers, make sure you complete every task required. Whether you engage with everyone or just certain posts, be sure team members, or automated tools, are finishing their work on every social media post. This makes later reporting easier.

7. Eat Your Vegetables

Sometimes you have to do things that you might not like, but are good for you. Every company has vocal, unhappy customers. They always existed and now they have a louder voice on social media. Engaging with them on social media may not be desired or helpful, but you need an approach to unresolvable negative experiences and comments.

8. Walk the Dog

I always had to walk the dog. I usually liked it, but sometimes it was a pain that I had to do it every day. Everyone has different responsibilities on the social media team. Some of them are dedicated to individuals, while others rotate. Identify the customer engagement activities that rotate among team members to balance the good and the repetitive activities among everyone.

9. Work and Study Hard

Ongoing training should not be overlooked when engaging with customers and prospects. Even the veterans need a refresher on problem solving, workflow and messaging. Don’t forget to share information about new products, campaigns and companywide goals.

10. Wear Clean Underwear

This advice always seems to relate to a car accident, and the embarrassment and shame everyone would feel if you were discovered on the side of the road with dirty underwear. From a social media perspective, always make sure there is nothing in your customer engagement that can be undermined by some other company position or communication. But, yes, you should listen to your mom and always wear clean underwear too.

Photo credit: My childhood (really, that’s me and my mom)

This post previously appeared on Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog.