Posts Tagged ‘Pinterest’

We all know social media is an important tool for brand awareness and customer acquisition — but how exactly are you supposed to convert random Twitter and Facebook users into real-life customers? Well, that depends.

Different brands have different challenges when it comes to customer acquisition: “If you’re our customer, you’ve signed up for a year-long service, unlike the Starbucks of the world, where you can be a customer by coming in for a cup of coffee one day,” says Lisa D’Aromando, social media community manager at Equinox. Whether you’re a clothing shop, a restaurant or a subscription service, you must tailor your strategy so that it makes sense for your brand. That said, there are a few universal ways to help your company attract new faces on the social web.

“I’m a big believer in creating and sharing meaningful content,” says Danni Snyder, co-founder and creative director at jewelry brand Dannijo. “Over time, that is every brand’s best bet for creating and sustaining a following that will grow their business.”

But what does it all entail? Mashable spoke with some super-social brands about how they find new customersand lock in their existing ones they have as repeat buyers.

1. Get Your Search On

There are 340 million tweets sent per day — odds are that a few of them are referencing your brand, though you may not realize it. “Just because chatter on social media channels isn’t mentioning your brand by handle or hashtag doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” says McKee Floyd, director of brand development at Sweetgreen.

The key is to be proactive. For the company’s upcoming Sweetlife Festival, Floyd set up Twitter searches for “sweetlife” and “sweetlife festival” on TweetDeck, which pulls the tweets even if users didn’t include the hashtag. “As groups of friends have conversations back and forth on Twitter about whether or not they should buy tickets, we monitor and chime in with helpful info, answering logistical questions about the festival and hopefully swaying them towards choosing to attend.”

Geoff Alexander, managing partner at Chicago’s Wow Bao, says his team also uses TweetDeck to search for certain keywords — such as “wow bao,” “baomouth” and “hot Asian buns” — and they reply to any and all posts they find. Wow Bao initially got into social media because there wasn’t a budget for advertising, so the brand opted to spread the word by giving away buns. “@BaoMouth searches the Internet for ways to reward people — giving away bao, full meals or mobile money [for the food truck],” says Alexander.

But the search tactic works for more than just food concepts. Danni Snyder says she monitor mentions of Dannijo religiously and also searches Twitter for “jewelry.” Consuming social media buzz about jewelry — and not just Dannijo’s wares — helps the brand be “aware of what people are talking about, what they like and don’t like, etc.” says Snyder, which can help Dannijo cultivate a new audience with their next collection.

One tip for finding new customers is to see who’s engaging with your competitors — if someone just started following or tweeted at or checked in at another bakery in the neighborhood, you could tweet at the person to come check out your cupcakes. They customer will appreciate the shout-out and the fact that you handpicked them to be your customer. Get clever with searches that are relevant to your business and offerings to help you target potential customers — then reel them in by being charming and human, not salesy.

2. Use Images to Engage

A picture is worth a thousand words — photos drive twice as much engagement as text posts do on Facebook. So if you’re looking to attract some new fans, start snapping pics.

Snyder says Instagram is her favorite medium for connecting with fans. “You can subliminally market without annoying your customers because each post is capable of accomplishing a number of things,” she says. “In one post, we can showcase a new design available at, thus driving traffic to our ecommerce site; show how we’d style the jewelry; mention a tastemaker friend like Questlove or ManRepeller and promote them while they’re wearing Dannijo; inspire discussion and engagement, gaining valuable customer feedback; and provide followers some visual inspiration and insight into your creative process.”

But the pics need not be product-focused. Dannijo posts photos of food and musicians that embody the Dannijo vibe, and its 9,745 followers like and comment on every one of them. Similarly, Rent the Runway posts pictures of various style trends. “On Facebook, we try to use as much imagery as possible — not just promotional imagery of our dresses, but images that relate to pop-culture,” says Jenny Fleiss, president and co-founder of Rent the Runway. For example, in anticipation of the upcoming Great Gatsby movie, the RTR blog posted about Gatsby-inspired fashion trends.

3. Host a Competition

Nothing gets customers going like some swag, so contests are a great way to boost your followers and engagement. But be strategic about what you’re offering, or else you could attract the wrong followers.

ModCloth hosts monthly photo contests that garner hundreds of entries and thousands of votes. “Our most recent contest, Thrifted Treasures, asked our fans to share their favorite vintage finds, and our community could vote up their favorites,” explains Natasha Khan, ModCloth’s social media manager. “The social actions surrounding that event brought in thousands of new fans, which we otherwise would not have gained.”

Khan says contests and offers have been the most high impact customer generation events for ModCloth. But if you’re planning on hosting a contest, Khan has a few suggestions. First, build in actions that allow the fan to share to their social networks, as this will increase virality. Second, stay true to your brand. Third, tweak the contest to fit the platform on which you’re running it — “On Facebook that means sharing photography, on Twitter it means wordplay hashtags, and for Polyvore it means styling outfits,” says Khan.

“Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Facebook fan growth. If your company product is clothing and your prize is free iPads, then you will gain followers that might not belong to your core demographic. Make sure the reward is something your customer will value, such as a gift card or grab bag of your products,” says Khan.

4. Spice Up The Platforms

With so many platforms to manage, be sure to have a distinct M.O. on each channel — and cross-pollinate sparingly. If a customer sees the same information and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, she need only follow you on one of these platforms. Also, be wary of overpromotion. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a constant sales messaging — people easily can unfollow, and they will. Interestingly, many of Wow Bao’s posts have nothing to do with bao — @BaoMouth tweets during award shows and keeps a lively conversation going on a number of topics, winning people over with its spunky personality.

Of course, a big reason why you use various social media channels is to promote your product, so there are some things to keep in mind for the messaging when you are pushing your goods.

“Prove the value of being a Facebook fan. If you can find the same content and offers on other channels, there is no incentive to also follow the brand on Facebook,” Khan says. “Exclusive Facebook-only offers and original content reinforces our investment in the channel.” The same goes for every other social platform.

For Equinox, Facebook is for broadcasting of events and initiatives, like Cycle For Survival, Twitter is more conversation and geared toward responding to questions about membership, fitness routines and healthy eating, and Foursquare is the platform on which to find offers for Equinox’s spa and shop, which are open to the public. “Every Monday in March, we posted a different Foursquare check-in special for The Shop at all of our locations,” says D’Aromando. “Since you don’t have to necessarily be a member to go to The Shop or The Spa, these specials are accessible to everyone,” and can lure in potential customers into becoming Equinox members.

The company’s Q blog is another digital project where you’ll find awe-inspiring videos and original lifestyle content — a great way to add value for potential customers. “Q was launched to extend our brand and increase this word-of-mouth among our target audience. It gives people — members and nonmembers — topics and material from our Equinox experts to share with others,” says D’Aromando. “In lieu of promos, we create a different sort of currency: highly produced, branded content on Q with exclusives for our social media communities.”

5. Make It Personal

No one like a mass message — consumers like to feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. You should know your customers and speak to them in personal ways to establish touchpoints that build relationships and create loyalty.

“I like to make it very personable — if someone tweets a question I make sure to answer immediately,” says Steven Rojas, social media director at GrandLife Hotels. “Often I go as far as Googling that person to make sure I know as much as I can about them before reaching out. I want to humanize the brand so people don’t feel like they are speaking to a computer but to an actual person who cares about what they are saying. My obsession for all things digital never sleeps, so I make sure everyone gets what they need, when they need it.”

Live chats are another effective way to offer intimate interaction and engagement with fans. “It’s about having a conversation with your community, so we often do live chats with our stylists on Facebook to answer any styling questions customers may have,” says Fleiss. “These posts tend to elicit the most ‘Likes’ and comments.”

While you’re browsing sites for comments to respond to, don’t ignore negative feedback — addressing the complaint is an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into an impressed brand ambassador.

“We’re very appreciative when someone takes the time to let us know about a bad experience or an issue because then we can help fix it,” says Jenny Danzi, a Mountain Dew brand manager. “Reply to every complaint to turn those consumers into advocates — even if you can not offer an instant fix, people appreciate getting a human response,” she adds. And don’t forget that even the littlest gesture can make a big difference. “Sometimes for us it can be as simple as letting consumers know where they can find our products,” says Danzi.

Wow Bao takes it to the next level, proactively finding ways to create touchpoints with consumers. “We comment on any and all posts mentioning people’s birthdays and pop culture,” says Alexander. “We even schedule posts for people’s birthdays, when people post something like, ‘My birthday is in 12 days’” — a very personalized tactic that can go a long way

6. Let Your Customers Shine

Nothing makes a customer feel better than being acknowledged — or better yet, honored — by their favorite brand. Is there a way to offer kudos to your loyal fans? If so, make it happen.

Because women love to talk about what they’re wearing — and often wear RTR to social events such as weddings and cocktail parties — Rent the Runway strives to move these conversations online. “We have weekly style award contests on our blog and Facebook Page, and a section of our site called RTR Moments where women can share photos of themselves in RTR dresses,” says Fleiss.

For Mountain Dew, whose fan base is extremely young and active on social media, the “Diet Mountain Dew Supernova Spotter” is a great way to celebrate the return of the fan-chosen flavor in addition to highlighting the passion of the fans. “Dew drinkers can upload their photo of Diet Supernova, and on Friday we’ll open the entries up to public voting. Fifteen winners will each get a Diet Dew hoodie, and everyone who enters can easily share their Diet Supernova passion with friends,” Danzi says.

For Equinox, whose social media fan base is largely comprised of members, the goal isn’t as much to incentivize people to join (they already have), but to make them feel special for being members. “We have a Facebook app where members can refer friends directly, and if the friend joins, the member gets a referral bonus,” says D’Aromando. “We also just launched a program on Twitter where we’re rewarding our advocates by offering them private group fitness classes for them and their friends. This gives us a way to say ‘thanks’ to those who always post about us, and it gives them something to talk about with their friends — online and off.”

Brands, how does your company acquire new customers on social media? Consumers, what makes you want to become a customer? Let us know in the comments.

Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquareYouTubeLinkedInGoogle+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the officialAmerican Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

This is from Mashable Business

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“How do we drive Social Interaction?” This is question that motivates Ian Mackie, Senior Client Manager of Point It. You need to pick out relevant information about what you offer and share that with your audience. That relevance is what helps you to analyze who your demographic is and how to best customize your marketing.

Ian mentioned a Point It client that had spent $5,000 per week marketing their site while using Google Analytics – but they never analyzed the collected data! He warns that in order for analysis to be useful you must spend time actually analyzing the data you collect! Implementing Google Analytics to your website is rather simple, but you should commit to the time and effort each week to analyzing your results and adjusting your marketing plan as it evolves.

Market researchers are targeting mobile users in a new and different ways, aiming to not regurgitate the same ads over and over again to their audiences and find ways to make mobile applications user-friendly.

Ian Mackie, Point It Inc. ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Julian Michaels of Kreate Professionasl Network moderated this panel discussion about Social-Local-Mobile (So-Lo-Mo), which is a current hot topic in the realm of the mobility of technological interaction. His aim, via Kreate Networking events, is to give business owners access to great resources, ideas, and the opportunity to build relationships in the Seattle and Eastside professional communities.

Julian Michael, Founder of Kreate ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

“We labeled it ‘mobile’ because it’s new and it’s natural context,” said Bryan Zug, founder of Bootstrapper Studios & Co-Producer of IGNITE Seattle. Smartphones make it easier to view full content websites, but it would be wise to build your online presence to be “mobile-ready.” Many people are on-the-go and want to utilize their time and their mobile devices for information and content.

There are a few applications that can help convert your website to be mobile-ready and may be worth looking into. Some companies are shifting their entire business models to serve clients using mobile apps like the ones for tablets and smartphones. Consider looking locally, to a company like Point It to help with your full mobile integration.

Bryan Zug, Founder of Bootstrapper Studios & IGNITE ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

My company is Fire Eyes Photography and as a photographer I work with the visual aspects of my field on a daily basis. Images are paramount in showcasing the services I offer to my clients. Having the ability to utilize photographs to draw in my audience essential, especially with the intent of easy mobile share-ability. My blog automatically converts for easy mobile device viewing. You may already know this if you are reading this post on your device! The formatting is simple and easy-to-read and  the text and photographs show correctly whether viewing your device in a vertical or horizontal manner. Make it easy for your audience to do business with you and they’ll thank you for it!

© Fire Eyes Photography

Ian also spoke about clients’ expectations of social media and mobile application and said that Point It clients want to know what their Return on Investment (ROI) is. Since that is hard to pinpoint, Ian’s advice is that it’s important for your business name to be out there, utilizing social media immediately so that you can begin to build your brand. Build your followers through relevant content and draw your audience in via Twitter, Facebook,Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Make sure you’re asking your colleagues and professional associates about how they reach their clients and look for new ideas that may be worth implementing for your own business and branding. Not every avenue is a surefire hit, but as our panelists pointed out, they can be very low risk and therefore worth trying.

~Written by Trishann Couvillion, Founder of Fire Eyes Photography

(on Twitter @fire eyes)

About Trishann Couvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & headshots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @

Having started all willy-nilly with Pinterest like Joe-Joe the idiot circus boy, I put absolutely no thought into what I was doing while kicking the tires. Now that PT is hotter than Canadian Maple syrup at a swingers party I can tell you what I did wrong.

First off, like most of us I really didn’t know what it was. Therefore I was just so eager to get my hands on it and stake a claim. A few things fell out of that experience. I started a bunch of lists that were important to me such as “Zombies, DesigNation, Survivalistic” and near naked women at “Shabam.” That being said my account is more about me personally and not about me ‘the brand.’

First question to ask – “Are you supporting a brand (corporate or personal) or is this a personal Pinterest account?”

The point here is all I’ve really done with my current account is give people a reason to think I’m a porn freak-based doomsday prepper that has a insatiable interest in art, automotive and design. While that’s not wrong per se, it’s not necessarily a glowing presentation of the personal creative/social thought leadership that I’m trying to establish.

Well If you’re not launching a brand, I say let’s lose the dogs of war and find the weirdest shit you can. Pin it and your noisy co-workers will create new things to gossip about around the water-cooler – ”then last night he pinned 17 different kind of Chinese throwing stars with anime characters on them! I know right!?!” The other edge to this sword however is that it’s more about the real “you” in the real world. If you don’t want people thinking you dress up and play Phyllis Diller on the weekends, probably best not to pin up a roadmap to that effect.

Next question to ask – “How do I categorize and thereby subjugate by brand?”

It’s like constructing an information architecture for a website and the “pins” end up the relational sub-pages within the “boards” you create. If you where to launch a clothing line or related outreach you might do something like:

  • Men’s Tops
  • Men’s Pants
  • Men’s Accessories
  • Men’s Shoes

…rinse and repeat with gender and age-group variance.

The caveat being that your pin either be yours OR have an affiliate or referral agreement with the product line to show it, as there’s been some “gray” areas regarding copyright and terms as is pertains to Pinterest. ADDITIONALLY! It’s also important to note that Pinterest may make money using your links in a referral capacity with companies such as Skim Links and others. They literally piggy back your link posted on the site to see if it goes to a retail site with an affiliate program. Upon finding referral coding it adds an affiliate code that ensures Pinterest will make some cash from sales that derive from that link. While not illegal (yet) it has brought them under some scrutiny.

Other things I didn’t do that you should:

  • Include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins to drive traffic back to your website.
  • Create a “Follow Me On Pinterest” button for my site and social channels. You can also now add Pinterest to your Facebook account.
  • Use it like a focus group and crowdsource with it.
  • Create boards that you can use as competitive reference or trends within your industries.
  • Pinterest, as of yet, has not created a business “Page” model and therefore it might be said that there will be a redux in the process given that this is the case. I can’t imagine they won’t, as most LARGE social channel models have adopted this as standard practice.
  • Actively cross-fertilize your ‘pinning’ with your other social channels to boost traffic (important to note however it will NOT increase your SEO as has been prosthelytized until you turn your search engine “visability” on in your settings.)
  • If I get to do it again I think I will sort media too. I’d create specify boards for video vs. photos.
  • Also look for really “different” visuals. No one will click through on a default logo, but a beret wearing ferret riding a monkey that has a beret and AR15 rifle just might get you “repinned.”
  • Engage other pinners + make nice = more followers.

I should have looked at who’s doing it right before doing it at all:

As always, I’m making this stuff up as I grow up. Let me know your thoughts. All my best.

Michael Roberts

The latest social media site to join the ranks of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is Pinterest. Haven’t heard of it? You will. With over 10 million users, it is quickly rivaling Google+ and YouTube for traffic.

For those of you who don’t know about Pinterest, it is a visual site that allows you to post or PIN pictures to your wall, or a wall of your choosing. It might seem more like a B2C site and it has been historically a strong site for people selling jewelry, crafts, or major retailers highlighting new products.

But lately, it has gotten some traction as a traffic generator for business marketers too. Here are a couple of considerations for including Pinterest in your social media marketing efforts.

  1. Pinterest is a visual medium, so think about the visuals you already have in your content library. These could be cool pics, images from the covers of your white papers or ebooks, visuals from your blog posts with links back to those posts, even pictures from behind the scenes at your company. All these could capture traffic from Pinterest and drive visitors back to your site.
  2. Expand your definition of visuals and you can include data and charts too. Graphs, charts, even illustrations communicate complex thoughts in a single picture. This type of content is perfect for Pinterest.
  3. Take photos of happy customers and PIN them as well. This gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling about your firm and helps potential prospects feel more familiar with your company and therefore more comfortable reaching out to you.
  4. Use dedicated landing pages associated with your pins so that you can track traffic from Pinterest and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Comment on other people’s pins. This will give you some additional exposure and when people see your comments they might eventually find your site, your blog and your content.
  6. Promote your Pinterest content through other, more popular, social sites. Create a Tweet or a Facebook post that links to your Pinterest page. Pinterest is hot, so these extended networks might be interested in seeing what someone else is doing on a newer social site.

Check out our Pinterest page to see how we are using it to drive leads. Feel free to follow us and see our latest Pins! If you need help creating an ROI for your social media programs, we can help

Thank you,

Michael Roberts

On Tuesday, I shared the first installment of my article recounting Social Media Day  — an event sponsored by the teams at GTX Marketing and Fresh Consulting. I was honored to share the piece not only with my readers, but also folks like Mike Whitmore and Kathy Ireland. I was thrilled to see Part One circulating on Twitter and shared via friends on Facebook. Once again, the themes put forth at Social Media Day were brought home to my front door. If you share it, they will come.

When we re-convened after lunch, Jenny Kuglin (@jenkuglin) content manager and social media maven for Fisher Interactive, shared a story about news anchor, Kathi Goertzen. Kathi’s story highlighted the human connection people associate with a brand. In this case,KOMO News and Fisher Communications. Kathi had been off-air for some time in recent years as she battled (and continues to fight) a brain tumor. Kathi was hesitant to return to a place in front of the camera due to disfigurement from her disease. Jenny knew that people were curious about Kathi so the communications team at Fisher helped Kathi launch a Facebook page, which as of this article, has over 71,600 fans. She can also be found on YouTube, Twitter (@InspireHopeCure), and via her website. Nothing tangible is being exchanged, but Kathi has a story to share and people want to hear it. Content is king.

Though, in the words of Rod Brooks (@NW_Mktg_Guy) “Content is gold. Kings die; gold lives forever.” The theme of the afternoon was story and Jenny, Rod, and Paul Anderson(@ProLango) did a wonderful job of introducing the sociable side of social interaction. Yes, we were all on social media because we run businesses or work for companies where marketing and social presence matter. But few of us participate in social media with the intent to NOT make friends, as many of us enjoy when our interactions move off-screen to the in-person realm.

Rod stated, he is 90% personality, 10% business when it comes to social media. His advice, “Bring yourself to work.” Be genuine. Travel. Engage with the world. Be quirky and interesting. Rod talked about the wild success of the Northwest Profiles series of commercials and cards based on stereotypical Northwest personality types. Pemco realized that people didn’t necessarily want to talk about insurance, but you know what? “People want to talk about the neighbors,” said Rod. That became the key to Pemco’s marketing success and social amiability.

Jen, this time Jen Houston (@JHouston89) of Waggener Edstrom’s dynamic communications team, stepped on stage and delivered another talk relevant to the theme of story. “Content is the currency of influence,” said Jen. People still desire eye contact and human connection. Among her many morsels of social media advice, “Be a content guerrilla.” Pics, travel, drawings on napkins — capture your life and essence of who you are — this is your brand and your story. Know who your audience is and track where those people are. Monitor your brand and be engaging. “Nuance is necessary to engage.” Choose the channel that  best allows you to tell your nuanced story and bring value to your audience.

Jeff Dance (@Jeffdance) of Fresh Consulting delivered a talk about creativity and storytelling. Logging ideas is good for our brain. Drawing images is also good for our brain. Basically, we should strive to engage in a dance that complements both hemispheres of our brain. (Think  of the “Liger” from the famous movie, Napolean Dynamite.) People are craving meaning and simplification — and people remember stories. Where can we tell our stories, beyond the social media platforms discussed up to this point? In the About Us page on our websites. On WordPress analytics, the About Us page was the #1 most-visited page besides the homepage. Customers want to know who you are and what you bring to the proverbial table. Jeff closed with the sage advice, “Be educational, be useful, be entertaining … or be ignored.”

Heidi Miller (@heidimiller) was the final guest speaker and imparted valuable wisdom about the social media exchange. “Be yourself, share a picture of yourself, and don’t be a jerk,” she advised. Heidi reiterated what Rod had said — there’s no need to be all business. Share your integrated self, ask questions and engage in conversation with others. Don’t delete comments — EVER! As mentioned by Mike and other panelists — you must monitor your brand your social presence constantly. If an issue should arise via your social media network, one to two hours for a response is ideal, but more than twenty-four hours is too long. Heidi illustrated examples of TSA and Domino’s Pizza properly responding to customer feedback via a very public platform. There are polite ways to engage with even the most angry customer and your image depends on your response and handling of a situation.

Social Media Day was a blast to attend and and honor to photograph. I gained so much valuable information that my assistant and I have been working overtime trying to implement all the tidbits, buttons, and tags that we learned that sunny afternoon last weekend. Technology is changing the world we live in and I welcome the opportunity to keep up and engage. Thank you for reading and “walking with me” as Kathy Ireland stated at the event. If content is gold, I am feeling pretty golden right now and I can’t wait to share more stories, photos, and backs of napkins from my upcoming travels and photo shoots. If you’re new to Twitter, remember to follow the people mentioned in this piece (via the links provided or “@” symbol after their name). Of course, you can find me onFacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Pinterest.

Catch you on the social side.

~Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography

About trcouvillion

Best Corporate Event Photographer and Business & Headshots Photographer in Seattle. Event Photography for many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography and well known individuals such as Steve Ballmer; CEO and President of Microsoft, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by her. Check out her Corporate Website @

A Fresh Approach to Media, Part One

Social Media Day was a one-day event organized by Fresh Consulting and GTX Marketing, both Seattle-based companies. Fresh Consulting specializes in strategy, design, and technology services for businesses and GTX Marketing focuses on innovative Web design to strengthen business brands. Last Saturday, hundreds of attendees sat in the southwest corner of the Century Link Events Center to listen to the social media mavens that Fresh Consulting and GTX Marketing had invited to share tips and strategy in this digital age.

Rod Brooks (@NW_Mktg_Guy), senior marketer for Pemco Insurance, acted as emcee for the day and if the Starbucks coffee in the Bassett Furniture sponsored lounge hadn’t woken the morning’s attendees, then Rod’s taxi-yellow suit was sure to do the trick. He shared some statistics about consumers, how to advertise to your intended audience, and parted with the advice: “Know your talkers; give them something to talk about; make it easy to share.”

Mike Whitmore (@mikewhitmore) stepped up to the podium to introduce his friend, Kathy Ireland (@KathyIreland). Mike had been blogging during his late wife’s battle and eventual death from cancer. It was via those blog posts and the Twitter platform that Mike and Kathy formed a friendship and business connection.

Kathy, a former supermodel who exudes femininity and poise, shared her background in modeling and how it prepared her for the thick skin required to succeed in business. She stated that, “all the rejection” was one of the gifts of her modeling career. Though she is one of the most successful women in today’s business world (regularly touted on topForbes lists) Kathy also experienced nights spent at the airport while traveling for business with her husband and business team because they couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel. “Whatever material things you have to give up is not a sacrifice — it’s a  bold investment,” she stated.

She learned the value of investigating reputations and getting to know who you’re really doing business with before starting a partnership or affiliation. Also she knew she had to, “Ask powerful questions to get powerful answers.” Regarding social media, Kathy didn’t like the Twitter term “followers,” rather she prefers to call them “people who walk with me” and states, “You have the information that they need. Give it to them.”

Kathy concluded her talk by opening up the floor to questions. One of the best came from a young girl in the audience who asked Kathy, herself a mother, what she would teach her kids about business. Kathy, clearly charmed like the rest of the audience, offered: “Treat others like you would want to be treated. Be kind. Be a good listener. Give 110%. Give more than what’s expected. Work hard.”

Mike Whitmore once again took the podium and launched into the value of video content in business. Imagery and storytelling create conversation around your product and the product can be and should be a subtle component of your imagery content. Mike told a story about Keith Ferrazzi (author of Never Eat Alone) and how, once again, a personable connection made via Twitter translated to a “real world” chance to meet and engage. Mike said Keith was a “genuinely nice human being” and Mike loves the book and encouraged everyone to pick up a copy.

Mike’s advice: “People are talking about your brand. Know what they’re saying.” Monitor your presence on the Web and make sure it is an accurate reflection of your business. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now Pinterest are the top sites with which businesses and consumers engage. On a given day, 400K people sign up for Twitter. If you’re a business and don’t have a presence on these sites, you should!

As Mike spoke, I paused to look at the event attendees around me. From the moment the event began, Seattle’s social media savvy in the audience had been tweeting up to the minute accounts from the show to the Twitter hashtag “#nwsocial.” It’s amazing the ability people have to pay attention, or half attention to a speaker while tweeting to theiraudience. Every speaker mentioned in this article has a Twitter handle after their name. If you’re not on Twitter yet, they’re the people you should follow and begin to watch how they use hashtags to reference a current trend. Here’s a Twitter primer from Mike:

@ symbol : Used before a person’s name or handle, it’s how you tweet to them publicly.
# hashtag: A way to sort data and follow a meme or trend. A shortened Web address. Makes links friendly to Twitter’s 140-character per tweet limit.
RT”: A retweet. A way of saying, “I like what you said,” and then sharing it with your followers.

Twitter is microblogging; you need to tweet. Mike also shared his approach to Twitter called being the “GAP.” Genuine. Accurate. Positive. 96% of people ages 18-35 are on a social network. Businesses want to market and engage with that demographic. Twitter can be intimidating to some as you begin to get comfortable with the platform, but if I can do it, you can too!

Stay tuned in the coming days for Part Two of Social Media Saturday where panelists and speakers discussed the value of content and storytelling. Can you tell a robot did not write this piece? This type of content and exchange between people like you and me is something we cannot outsource and something only humans can bring to life.

~Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography

About trcouvillion

Best Corporate Event Photographer and Business & Headshots Photographer in Seattle. Event Photography for many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography and well known individuals such as Steve Ballmer; CEO and President of Microsoft, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by her. Check out her Corporate Website @

What is social media curation?

Today,  with the exponential growth of social networks and blogs,  it can be overwhelming searching for information on the internet. As a result, the act of filtering, selecting, reviewing and providing commentary with a perspective on an article, or collection of articles, have become increasingly important. This is known as social media curation.   A good media curator is someone who reads extensively, then can pull content and organize it in a logical way for the benefit of others. Web 2.0+ has an immense amount of information. Curators sort through it, find the wheat in the chaff, and present it in a friendly manner” . I would agree with this definition however would also add that a curator would also share their perspective  and perhaps alternative ( or supporting) viewpoint using the posts that they have selected.

Why curate?

Curation provides another offering for your on-line audience. It also helps reduce the noise of the plethora of information on the internet. Curation also provides a stream of fresh posts for your site or blog.

Curation sites

The number of curation sites and tools have grown dramatically. Furthermore, more recently the profile of curation  has been elevated as more organizations and entrepreneurs are looking at ways to augment their blogs or content. I personally use Pinterest and am very new to it so I am feeling it out.

Changing gears a little bit, I would like to share that I am intrigued by Bookriff which is very new site and start-up. I learned about this site at a recent conference in Canada. Very exciting site that brings curation to another level. Bookriff allows you to select chapters from an assortment of books, add your own commentary and then publish it as a commercial book. Each time a Riff is distributed, all content owners get paid. BookRiff’s technology manages the authoring, bundling, licensing, attribution, and payment details for each of these custom compilations. Brilliant! How exciting. Love it! Potentially turning the publishing sector upside down.The mastermind and CEO  behind Bookriff is Rochelle Grayson. It was a total pleasure to hear her speak on this innovation.

Now it is time to share that list. Below, I have listed 30+ curation sites for your perusal. Enjoy!

  1. Aggregage– a new site with a content marketing focus.Agregage creates online “curated” communities by centralizing content from quality blogs, whitepapers, social networks around particular topics and then it is displayed on a new site dedicated to that given topic.
  2. Amplify– “The easiest way to clip, share and discuss things that interest you.”  Add the Amplify web clipper to your browser to clip and share things you find on the web.(Mar 7 2012: Amplify is closing down its site)
  3. BagTheweb–  BagTheWeb helps users curate Web content. For any topic, you can create a “bag” to collect, publish, and share any content from the Web.
  4. Blekko – “Provides a differentiated editorial voice in search.”
  5. BlogBridge– BlogBridge is for true info-junkies who want a better way to wrangle all their RSS feeds from blogs and news into one pretty cool organizer.
  6. Bookriff – . Riffs are remixes of published books, essays, magazine articles, and your own content.
  7. Bundlr–  Create topic pages with photos, videos, tweets and documents. Share them with everyone
  8. CIThread– This has a content marketing focus.Simplifies content marketing production, distribution, measurement & optimization across multiple initiatives & social channels
  9. Clipboard – Helps organize content, facilitates collaboration and sharing with others.
  10. Curata– Curata helps marketers maximize their content curation efforts with web-based tools to easily find, organize and share online content.
  11.– let’s you collect & organize topic based content (media, links, tweets) into bundles.
  12. Curation Station – allows users to gather information, select the items that fit their goals, and then distribute them . A paid service targeting marketers.
  13. Eqentia “From your context, let us find you content. From that content, let us find you people. You take action.”  Aggregate, curate, and re-publish content what matters.
  14. Evri – automatically and constantly indexes millions of topic-specific streams from thousands of different sources to filter through the web and delivers customized news experiences.
  15. Factiva-a  business intelligence platform- with a unique combination of authoritative business news and Information, plus sophisticated tools, Factiva helps you easily find, monitor, interpret and share the essential information your organization commands.
  16. Feedly– a simple and elegant way to read and share the content of your favorite sites.
  17. Flockler– Drawing from social media and the web, publishing videos, photos and text, and personal commentary and editorial, Flockler lets you curate for a particular subject, event, person or business..
  18. iFlow– a real-time, online information exchange that brings together everything you want. You can organize, combine, filter, curate or remix your flows to get a different view on your content and/or to share.
  19. kbucket– KBucket is a user indexed search site. A place where experts “content curators” organize, comment, tag and publish their research
  20. Keepstream a social media curation tool that helps organize tweets,  into shareable, embeddable collection pages.
  21. Kurat helps you to discover relevant content on specific topics. Within Kurat you can easily curate this information and publish it. Kurat can be used as content discovery and publishing tool behind company social media efforts and as a personal newsreader.
  22. Loud3r–  a real-time content discovery, curation and publishing platform that delivers the best news, blogs, photos, videos and social media about any topic.
  23. My6sense -Read and share your relevant content from your RSS and social streams.
  24. Mlkshk– Save, Share and Discover.Use browser extensions to save with a simple right-click.Pick a topic (Shake) and  Invite other MLKSHKers in to post and curate their submissions with one click.
  25. Mysinydicaat– a personalized agregator built on the idea that it should be easy to collect, filter, share web content that is important to you.
  26. il crawls the web linked to your topic. Once set up the curation is updated automatically.
  27. Pearltrees – collects, organize and share everything you like on the web.
  28. Pinterest– a Virtual Pinboard that  lets you organize and share all the  things you find on the web.
  29. PostPost – PostPost is the Twitter strip search tool. It strips out the noise by delivering search results from the people on Twitter you value the most.
  30. Qrait– A realtime curation platform designed to fulfill the needs of content curators.Qrait lets you combine real-time filtering and your own personal touch to create something of value.
  31. Redux is a new kind of TV—hundreds of channels of entertaining, and-picked video, all from a  community of curators.
  32.– Create a topic of interest, crawls the web for related content that you can select and curate for your online magazine.
  33. Shareist – Lets you create your own custom curation website. discover, create, organize, and share content that matters to your audience.
  34.– create collections of links (we call them snips), add your thoughts & discover others with relevant opinions on issues you care about.
  35. Story Crawler– intelligently searches and gathers information across multiple online platforms—whether it be social media, news articles, blogs, RSS feeds, video sites forums and user generated content—to bring users the most relevant real-time data..
  36. Storyfy– Lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative.
  37. Storyful–  Storyful was founded by journalists who wanted to separate the news from the noise of the real-time web. Storyful is used to curate “stories” via social media tools, images and videos.
  38. Summify– recently purchased by Twitter, Summify Creates a beautiful daily summary of the most relevant news from your social networks.
  39. Themeefy– discover, curate, compile and publish your knowledge from the web to personal Theme magazine(s).
  40. Yourversion “The best way to discover new content that’s relevant to you.” YourVersion brings you the latest news, blogs, tweets, and videos on your chosen topics in one place.YourVersion automatically organizes the bookmarks by topic for you.

Now that is quite the list. Now, as you consider curation and select a tool, please share your experience here! Or perhaps you already curate-  do share your tips. Would love to hear from you.

We’re going to talk about four ways that you can – starting today – lose traffic to your website or blog, yet still come out ahead in the long run.

Clean Your Room

You are a dirty (dirty, I said) little social media user, aren’t you? When’s the last time you cleaned out your Twitter account? Purged your Facebook friends? Took a really long, hard look at your LinkedIn connections.

Your audience should make you proud, plain and simple. If you haven’t taken the time to clean out your audience, how do you know who’s really there? Sure, you can automate some of these tasks with monitoring tools like TwitSweeper – a service that scans your Twitter followers for spam and blacklisted accounts each week and sheds the riff raff automatically – but the onus is on you. Think like a kid on this one: If you have so many toys in your toy box that the lid won’t even close, who are you going to get to the ones you really want to play with?

You can’t. Because they’ll have fallen to the bottom of the box.

Cultivating and curating your audience is a neverending obligation. And by ditching the wrongs, you make room for the rights. The people you truly want to develop relationships with.

Loss: People who aren’t really customers or never will be.

Gain: Space for real fans and time on your end to spend with them.

Quit Acting Like You’re Walmart

You do not have something for everyone. I promise. This is a short point, but great businesses are built because an audience knows how to use that business. Walmart is great if you want to go fill your cart with piles of crap, heave that crap into the back of your car, and then heave that crap into your house.

Don’t make your audience heave and haul crap from place to place. When you take the time to admit what it is that you love, what offers you the smartest profit margins, and makes you smile at the beginning and end of every day – that’s what you should be focusing on.  The people who wanted to heave and haul crap? Sure, they’ll go away. But the good news is you’ll have a lot more time to spend on the audience who will gravitate toward who you are and what you do…and that’s because people who get what you do will refer you to people who need what you have to offer.

And then suddenly, being Walmart doesn’t matter anymore. You’re a specialty bistro.

Loss: Time wasted on trying to serve people things you don’t love serving. People who don’t really know what they want and don’t understand enough about you to bring you more loyal customers.

Gain: Focus. Fans who know who your brand is and what it’s all about so they can hand-deliver more people just like them to your doorstep.

Have an Opinion

If you’ve ever stopped by RedheadWriting, you know I’m not afraid to have an opinion. It’s time to stop thinking that having an opinion is bad.

When’s the last time you went to a dinner party and everyone around the table agreed on every single topic discussed? It’s the same way with brands and their audiences. We won’t always agree with our customers and customers won’t always agree with us. But great brands are willing to take a stand and abide by a certain set of beliefs. People will fall by the wayside – but that’s just it. They’re people. They have their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Just like your very human brand.

Don’t believe me? Think of one (just ONE) wishy-washy person in your life you’d be willing to throw yourself in front of a train to save. (Aside from a relative…) You want to cultivate an audience for your brand that will throw themselves in front of trains for you. And wishy-washy just doesn’t get that type of fan in your corner.

Oh, and I might as well tell you now: You’re going to tick some people off along the way. It’s okay. Because by ticking them off and sending them away, you’re keeping the ones who truly matter and eventually, attracting more people just like them.

Loss: The fear you’re going to offend some folks (because you are). The people who are easily offended by who you and your brand truly are. The people who never really liked YOU in the first place.

Gain: People who share similar views and even when they don’t respect you and your brand for putting it out there.

Say No (duh)

With everyone crawling out of the woodwork saying that Pinterest is social’s destination-du-jour, maybe your brand should be the one saying no. Maybe you should say no to Twitter. Quora. Facebook. Honestly, maybe the only place you should be is LinkedIn or perhaps an industry-specific forum in addition to your blog (do you need a blog?).

The beauty of our business climate is that it’s ripe with choices. It’s also a time- and soul-sucking curse. It’s time you say no to outlets that don’t serve you or your audience. And if you’re afraid of the 38 users you might miss on Pinterest by focusing on your 3800 Facebook fans who chat, share, like, and promote your brand and result in conversions, I’ve got news for you. Those 38 people? They’ll still be on Pinterest if and when you decide it’s a good move to spend your time there. And if they’re not, well – no loss, really.

Saying no in the social realm is something that we must get better at in business. It’s okay to while away the hours on one site or another sharing funny images and whatnot, but our businesses deserve a definitive NO. By walking away from outlets that don’t serve you OR your desired audience, you can stop being a follower and become a leader.

Which is why I’m betting you went into business in the first place.

Loss: Tendonitis caused from a wicked case of Helium Hand (you know, saying yes all the time). Audiences who aren’t interested enough in you or what you have to offer to understand where YOU live and hang out with you there. Audiences who probably aren’t very committed to a platform to justify your investment in it – especially if it’s the Next Big Thing.

Gain: Smaller audiences that will – if they’re committed to you, find you in the places you dospend time. Time to focus on the outlets that mean the most to your brand and audience. A greater understanding of your brand and its audience, as you’ve listened to who they are, what they want, and where they live enough to know where you’d be best off spending your time.

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Have you conversed on Facebook, tweeted your favorite articles, and checked into Foursquare yet today? What about pinned an image on Pinterest, bought or sold stock on Empire Avenue, and done whatever it is people are doing on Google+ nowadays? I won’t even ask about the number of blogs you’ve read or mobile apps you’ve used. Just thinking about these tasks can cause some to become overwhelmed—they experience “social media overload.”

New social networks and tools are introduced every day, which means new challenges and questions for marketing professionals, social media strategists, and average people looking to brand themselves online. Which platforms should I use? When should I use them? There are only 24 hours in a day, how do I find the time to manage all my networks?!

I’ll admit, there’ve been times I felt like I was stretched pretty thin trying to keep up with various obligatory social tasks. Thankfully, I no longer feel that way (most of the time). Here are a few of the steps I took that really helped manage the social media overload.

1. Prioritize

Which tasks are the most essential? Determining your priorities is crucial in managing your time online. When you are faced with a giant list of tasks that need to be done, invest your time and energy first where it will make the most impact, and later return to do tasks that aren’t as much of a priority. For me, responding to Facebook and blog comments ranks above tweeting my favorite articles, so I do those first.

2. Filter

If you always have hundreds of unread blog stories in your feed reader or you skip over a certain user’s updates on a routine basis, it’s time to get picky. There is such a thing as subscribing to too many things. After all, what is the point of following or subscribing to people if you never ever read what they are saying? I’ve cut down on the number of blogs I subscribe to, and it has helped a lot. There’s also something cathartic about trimming those lists, have fun!

3. Aggregate

Applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite can do many things to help you save time and feel less overwhelmed. It is easy to save searches for terms, see direct messages and mentions from Twitter at a glance, and collect information from multiple platforms so you can read it in one place. Signing up for one of these tools (I recommend HootSuite) will save you time in the long run.

4. Automate

We all have lives, right? This means we aren’t online all the time. Using a tool to schedule your updates means you can plan what to say and let the tool publish it for you at a specified time. HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer are all great scheduling applications to use.

5. Relax

If you have to take a break from the Internet for a few days to interact with real humans (which I promise won’t kill you), know that it will still be there when you get back. On the Internet, everything is archived. If you feel like catching up after being gone for a while, all it takes is visiting a few RSS feeds or scrolling down some Timelines. Then, jump back in right where you left off.

Part of the fun of social media can be trying different things and sorting through the chaos to find something you truly enjoy. If that chaos ever gets to be too much to handle, I hope these tips will help with your case of “social media overload.”

Have you ever felt like you were spreading yourself too thin with social media? If you have other ways of managing overload let me know in the comments below.

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