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Christine Taylor Talks Social Media With Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

LAS VEGAS, NEV. (May 25, 2010) – “Get in the game but be careful” was the message JTMarCom Social Media Vice President Christine Taylor shared with representatives of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in Vegas.

Taylor was talking social media (not black jack) with marketing officials for heavy equipment manufacturers and CON/AGG Expo organizers who were in Vegas last week to prepare for CON/AGG Expo 2011.

“Some companies don’t get involved in social media because they are afraid of losing control,” Taylor said. “These companies are missing the boat. You should be listening to online conversations about your company and engaging with your target audiences online. But it is important to have a clear strategic marketing direction and a social media policy for your employees.”

Taylor, who chaired a roundtable discussion on social media policies, said the policy should make it clear that defamation, privacy, negligence, contracts and other serious topics that apply to other forms of communications certainly apply to social media. “What happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook,” Taylor says. “For instance, you might think you’re joking around during an online exchange, but just a single post and response could bind you into some contractual action.”

She said the policy should also provide employees guidelines such as:
• be responsible for what you write
• be authentic
• consider your audience
• exercise good judgment
• bring value

“Your employees can be some of your strongest advocates in social media; you just need to provide them some guidance through policies and hopefully training,” Taylor said.

Taylor advises companies to review social media policies at — http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php — to find examples that are applicable to specific industries.
JTMarCom is a Nashville-based agency specializing in the integration of social media marketing with traditional marketing.

Mid-America Trucking Show Got Social Last Week

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Of the different segments that make up the U.S. trucking industry, which ones are more rapidly embracing social media?  Some insights were revealed at last week’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

First, an interesting record was achieved at MATS – the largest ever gathering of women owner-operators in one place at one time.  Twitter played an instrumental role in getting the word out before and during the show.  This leads us to insight #1 – there is a solid base of owner-operators and drivers using Twitter and Facebook, and this will only grow through word-of-mouth.  These two social media platforms provide a great way for truckers to stay in touch with their families and with each other.

As is common these days at conferences and trade shows, a Twitter hashtag was set up for MATS and provided a great way for Twitterers to share information, make connections, etc., at the show – not to mention Twitterers interested in MATS but unable to attend this year.

Insight #2 is that a growing number of manufacturers are increasing using social media as an extension of their marketing programs.  Companies such as Michelin, Cummins and Arvin-Meritor Tweeted about their products and events at MATS.  Look for manufacturers to continue using social media to get the word out but also to begin capitalizing on the true value of social media – creating conversations with customers and potential customers and energizing an army of brand advocates.  Check out Peterbilt’s Facebook Fan Page.

Finally, fleet professionals are increasingly using LinkedIn and Facebook but have been slow adopters of Twitter.  Adam Ledlow — http://twitter.com/AdamLedlow — of Truck News magazine had an interesting insight – with more and more drivers using social media, fleets should be employing it to snag qualified drivers.  What a great recruitment tool!

Twitter for the Holidays!

Monday, November 30th, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009  |  Modified: Sunday, November 29, 2009, 5:00am CST

Businesses using Twitter to build brand, bring in customers

Nashville Business Journal – by Eric Snyder Staff Writer

James Yates, Nashville Business Journal
Mitzi Maynard, left, and Lori Paranjape of Redo Home and Design in Franklin update the store’s Twitter status. The retailer is an avid user of ‘micro-blogging.’

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Just as the image of Santa Claus has continuously evolved — from the skinny patron saint of Greece and Russia into today’s jolly-sized chimney diver — merchants have continued to find new ways of connecting their wares with the public.

This holiday season, many local retailers will continue reaching out to shoppers where they live — and via Twitter feeds, where they work, play or pick up grocercies.

Twitter is a free “micro-blogging” service that allows users to send bite-sized info blasts to subscribers, more commonly (or ominously, depending on your perspective) referred to as “followers.” Tweets can be sent or received via computers or smartphones.

Spurred by breathless media coverage and celebrity adopters like actor Ashton Kutcher and NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, Twitter has enjoyed exponential growth. According to eMarketer, more than 18 million American adults will have used the service this year, compared to 6 million users last year.

And while reports suggest Twitter’s growth may not be sustainable — up to 60 percent of users quit after one month, Nielsen Online said in April — many local retailers say you have to remember one thing: It works.

And it’s free.

“It is, by far, our best (return on investment),” said Lori Paranjape, a partner in Redo Home & Design in historic Franklin, citing a primary reason it has proven popular with retailers.

Lori immediately began “tweeting” when she joined the business in January, thinking the company might just put a toe in the water. No longer.

“When we get new inventory, we tweet. When we get an interesting new client, we tweet,” Paranjape said. “It’s just how we communicate.”

Paranjape said Redo got multiple clients, whom they had never previously met, via Twitter. When Redo joined A Shopping Soiree, a Franklin fundraiser for several local charities — an invitation they received via Twitter, of course — they tweeted. They’ve tweeted Christmas shopping tips and holiday gift guides.

She doesn’t, however, make the same mistake some retailers do; Paranjape’s advertising button isn’t always on.

“There’s consequences in the Twitter world,” Paranjape said. “It’s not all business.”

It may seem paradoxical. To receive messages via Twitter, you must sign up for them.

But they also want to be entertained, or innocently informed, not just sold to.

“There’s a kind of 9-to-1 rule,” said Christine Taylor, vice president of social media marketing for local firm JTMarCom. “You need to be marketing other people nine times more than you’re marketing yourself.”

Taylor said clients sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept, but she used the example of a big-box store pointing a customer to another store if they don’t have a particular item in stock. Perhaps the competing store gets that sale, but the original business earned trust and built a relationship.

“You have to develop a relationship with your customer base,” Taylor said.

Even if it is transferred over a so-called social media, traditional advertising will be found out.

“We have a good b.s. radar,” Taylor said. “Traditional advertising is tuned out.”

Paranjape, tweeting for Redo under the account redodesign, promotes other events around Franklin, solicits advice from followers on things to do and offers moments of levity, as she did in response to a jogger that ran past the shop window: “Please stop jogging by our door. We get it. We should jog, too. At least say, ‘Hi.’ Don’t just fly by all exercisey.” (Paranjape also advertised this article, twice, tweeting on Nov. 23, “We’re awkwardly having our picture taken right now by the (Nashville Business Journal) for article about Twitter.”)

A quick perusal of Twitter reveals numerous Nashville businesses advertising everything from contests to coffee, including Dunn Bros Coffee, Fido, 12th and Porter and Sambuca, among others.

Taylor said some companies, particularly larger ones more entrenched with traditional, top-down advertising, find Twitter intimidating. While JTMarCom also advises several clients on how to wield their Twitter accounts, Taylor herself manages the accounts of nine clients, ranging from a pet food company to an executive coach. While that does negate a prime benefit for some retailers — the fact that Twitter is a free service — help from Taylor saves the businesses another, if less tangible, investment of time.

“You have to nurture it once you have it,” she said.

Rachel Lowe, owner of Two Elle, a boutique home and clothing store that recently moved into Green Hills’ Hill Center, feels no intimidation from Twitter.

With a love of writing, and an English degree from Columbia University, Lowe said she uses the Two Elle Twitter account, twoellerabbits, to reinforce the personalities of their sales staff.

“We would never just say, ‘This T-shirt came in,’ end of sentence,” Lowe said. “It always has to have a story behind it.”

Like Paranjape, Lowe said Twitter is her store’s most effective form of advertising. While she tweeted constant updates about the store’s relocation this summer, Lowe said the business didn’t run any print ads announcing the move.

As Paranjape put it, with Twitter, “We are our own press coverage.”


You can reach Eric Snyder at esnyder@bizjournals.com or 615-846-4254.

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Common Social Media Mistakes

Monday, June 29th, 2009

By Erik Qualman, Search Engine Watch, Jun 29, 2009

A lot has been written about what to do within social media (this column included). As a refreshing change of pace, let’s look at some things to avoid.

1. Not Every Company Needs a Big Social Media Presence

Every social media tool isn’t appropriate for every product or service. Most of the common mistakes are happening within Facebook and Twitter because of all the media publicity these platforms are receiving. Executives think, “Wow, all I hear about is Twitter and Facebook, let’s make certain we get on those ASAP!”

But, as has been discussed in this column several times, sites such as Digg, Delicious, and YouTube may be more appropriate platforms or best first steps for companies, rather than the latest media darlings.

A good reality check: not too long ago, Technorati, Friendster, and MySpace were about to conquer the world. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find any news about these companies at all. That should show you the fickleness of online media.

Companies sometimes go for the latest “shiny object” because the younger personnel within agencies and companies have fun designing programs within social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

While it’s fun for the employees to implement these initiatives, it may not make the most sense from an ROI standpoint. Almost every under-30-year-old uses Facebook every day, and hence they have an affinity to do a program with something they know. Not every 20-something knows how to adjust a Wikipedia entry, set up a company LinkedIn profile, or use Delicious.

The shiny object syndrome is illustrated by this example, when I saw an advertisement ingrained on a table within the food court of a mall in Cambridge, Mass. This table was some prime offline advertising real estate, and promoted that the mall now had a Facebook Fan Page.

Why on earth would I want to be a fan of a mall? If anything, I’d want to hear from the merchants in the mall — Apple, Anne Taylor, Taco Bell, etc. My guess is the mall FEARed (False Evidence Appearing Real) they were going to be left out.

2. Companies Overinvest Rather Than Keeping Things Light

Social media is changing faster than you can say swine flu, and it’s tough to spot the trends, even for the experts. That’s why it’s important to keep your investments as light and as nimble as possible.

Imagine if you’d invested heavily two years ago in MySpace development. This might be a little unnerving because MySpace just laid off 30 percent of their U.S. employees and more than 60 percent of their international employees. However, if you invested light and fast, then you aren’t in such a precarious position.

Even take a look at Facebook. Just a few years back, companies had to pay Facebook $150,000 for a sponsored group, which Facebook then changed to free fan pages, which then again were changed earlier this year to fan pages that resembled profiles.

3. Companies Believe Social Media Efforts Must Tie Into Existing Systems/Databases

This relates to keeping investments streamlined, particularly scarce internal IT resources.

I recently worked with one of the world’s largest cruise operators. And for their singles cruises, people wanted to meet before they departed. The cruise operator had hundreds of cruises that went to similar destinations at different times during the year.

Their internal system had the ability to identify which passengers were on which cruise, based on the assigned trip number and if that passenger was listed as single. Hoping to help reduce cancellations, they wanted passengers to meet prior to their cruise and the passengers also desired this “meet-up” functionality.

The cruise operator thought it would be best if their social media applications tied into their existing backend systems by this trip number. There were three main problems:

  1. Customers often didn’t know their trip number, hence this was a barrier to entry for the social media application.
  2. The system could only tell 90 days out who was specifically on which trip.
  3. It was going to be costly and time-consuming coding to allow the various systems to speak to one another.

This forced the cruise line to do what they should have done in the first place: think creatively. Companies don’t hold all the answers/information anymore. Hence, the cruise line simply allowed the travelers that were interested in meeting singles to tell where they were going and when they were going.

Some simple coding within the social media application then matched the travelers up. It also allowed travelers to see everyone going on the “Greek Paradise” cruise throughout the year, not just those users on their particular ship. This type of creative thinking saved the company time and money and delivered what the passengers wanted.

Everyone should “do” rather than “deliberate” in social media, by making light, smart investments that allow for flexibility. At the same time, make certain that the social media strategy is right for your particular company, not because everyone else is doing it. One size doesn’t fit all.

Submissions are now open for the 2009 Search Engine Watch Awards. Enter your company or campaign before July 17, 2009. Winners will be announced at SES San Jose.

The Best Niche Social Media News Sites Right Now

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

http://www.10e20.com/blog/2009/04/01/niche-social-media-news-websites/