Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jimmy Fallon Calls Viewers to Action for Hurricane Relief

Last night I donated $10 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Why? Because Jimmy Fallon asked me to.

OK - I love Jimmy Fallon. He's not only talented but he was raised right.  Back in the mid-90s I worked with him.  His Dad used to drive him to gigs.  I gave them a different way to drive home to shave an hour off their commute.  Jimmy sent me a Thank You note.  He was 16 and already writing crazy Thank You notes.  (I saved it)  Jimmy Fallon gives back.  He uses his success as a way to improve the world.  He remembers the way he was raised.  And he's funny and talented. What's not to love?

But two things had to align for me to act. 

1. I had to be motivated.  Jimmy Fallon asked me to (as a viewer, not as the lady who gave such great directions they warranted a thank you note) and I trust him and respect his own generousity as evident through years of watching him step up to do for others.
2. I had to have the immediate opportunity to act on my motivation.  Had Jimmy Fallon merely given me a web address or a mailing address, I may have jotted it down - or not. I may have acted - or not.  This work of looking for work keeps me very busy.  And fairly broke.  So I probably would have lost the impulse or reasoned or maybe I am giving myself too much credit. I would just forget about it.

The best calls to action have the following attributes:

1. Clear
2. Specific
3. Customer/Reader/Viewer focused
4. Drives to the right action
5. Delivers in the right format
6. Includes a link to a web page for more information
7. Has a balanced time/value proposition (the lower the value to the viewer/reader , the simpler and faster it must be to do)
8. Fosters a sense of urgency
9. Provides immediate opportunity.
10. Begin a relationship.

Jimmy Fallon briefly described NY after Hurricane Sandy and pointed out the contributions of so many fire, police, early responders, healthcare workers. (1,2,3)

I felt appropriately guilty and useless and in need of a way to feel better.(4)

Then he clearly articulated how those of us at home in our pajamas can do something.  He provided 2 options complete with a demonstration. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

For those of you I have made feel appropriately guilty and useless and in need of a way to feel better, take our your cell phone.

Now text the word Redcross to the number 90999.  Press send.  $10 will be added to your next phone bill and will be directed to the Red Cross. (10)

You will get a message asking you to confirm.  Type yes and hit send.

The best calls-to-action also inspire a continued relationship and that means participation.  If I tell you, and you tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends, we not only re-enact the old Faberge shampoo commercial from the 70s, we raise a little bit of money for the American Red Cross to continue their Hurricane Relief efforts.

One more time:

Text the word Redcross to 90999. You will get a message asking you to confirm. Type yes and hit send.  What could be easier than that?  You'll barely notice the extra $10 on your phone bill.  But you will have done some good for someone else without having to get off your couch.

Are you looking for someone to come up with great calls-to-action for your organization or business?  I'm looking for a job!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are You Stuck in the Loop? Develop Social Media and Content Strategies in Context of Past, Present and Future

Just went to see Looper.  If you haven't seen it and are hoping to soon, this post may be a mild spoiler alert - I won't give the ending but might give away some of the plot.  You will have to stop reading now and miss out on my golden nugget of an observation about how Looper relates to the impact of Social Media on your business.

In Looper, time travel has not yet been invented.  But it has been invented and abolished 40 years into the future.  As such, it is only used by mobsters. They use it to dispose of bodies.  Instead of burying them under the proverbial cement, they send them back in time to a specific location, and have employees called "Loopers" who are from the earlier time -  small time thugs who make a lot of money for each assignment.  The Loopers await the arrival of the body at a specific location and time and shoot them, and burn them leaving no evidence.  No trace is left of the victim (who may not yet be born so is it really a death?)

One day,  older versions of the loopers themselves start showing up to be killed by their younger selves.  This is called "closing the loop." (I could not figure out why they didn't give your old self to a different looper, but they always sent you yourself,  a danger of not examining data, interpreting it objectively, and realigning your process I suppose.)  When you "close your loop" you get a big payday and get to retire and just go live your life until you become that older self.  You are aware of when you will be killed because you remember being your younger self and killing your older self.

So our hero(s) Joe - played subtle and brilliant - by both Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (I love the diner scene between younger Joe and older Joe) - doesn't close his loop when he arrives.  The rest of the movie is a chase to basically kill himself while avoiding getting killed himself for failing the first time. 

But the real plot is about the dysfunctional choices he made in life and his career while "in the loop".  It also examines those moments where your choices can change everything, those few wake-up calls each of us is given to change the direction of our lives.  I kept wondering why he didn't prevent the future collision somewhere in his past.

It made me think about how in business we can get trapped in loops of dysfunction.  Our past dictates our future, our future traps us in our present. 

Data doesn't show us everything, but it can provide us a map. We have to ask our data questions - and these questions need to be contextual from multiple lenses.  The context needs to include questions about how the past and the future align in the present.  Instead of asking ourselves "Where does social media fit in the marcom mix or how does it contribute to the funnel" we should ask ourselves "What does our business look like now with social media as a way to amplify what we need to do? What is the new role of advertising? What is the new role of web? What is the new role of email?  What is the new role of support?" and most importantly "How does each role align in a new world?"

Keeping the Past in Perspective

Application to the present requires context.  Why do we do what we do?  What do we do that has value still?  What is the value to our customers?  How can we help to guide customers (problem solving content investigators) toward solutions for their problems?  What is inherently true?  What doesn't change while everything else evolves significantly? Why do we still exist?

For marketing communications, the answer is content.

Good content is good content - past, present and future - content should inform, educate, entertain, provoke and evoke.  It no longer should fight for attention from everyone. It should command attention from the right people.
Great content should be relevant and valuable to the intended demographic.  It should be presented in the best and fastest way for the intended absorber of the content.
Great marketing content should inspire an action and make a relationship available to build trust and for  nurturing.  Because great business is great relationships. Great marketing content is a map leading to a treasure.
Great marketers are people who build great relationships through content. This could not be a better time for great marketers because the tools are all available through web and social media to build excellent relationships through content.. Great relationships require trust.  Trust requires two-way communication.  Listening is critical in building trust and relationships.  Social Media provides the tools that support two-way conversations.

 New Social Media Tools Provide Challenges for the Present and Opportunities for the Future

Before smartphones,  I read anything available every down moment of the day. Cereal boxes, magazines in waiting rooms, newspapers strewn round coffee shops... When is the last time you did that?  When in a waiting room I am either laptop open or smartphone in hand catching up on twitter, facebook, googling movie times or searching for a new doctor with a shorter waiting time.

Digital content puts the content consumer in charge of everything he or she looks at.  It gives users immediate access to problem solving of every type.  Customers direct themselves using keywords. They have hundreds, thousands, millions, more options to connect. The content you are making available is just a tiny fraction of their options.

To compete in the present, you need to make every message you develop:

1. Findable
2. Obvious
3. Relevant
4. Specific
5. Helpful
6. Time Saving or Value Creating
7. Inspiring
8. Connected
9. Reactable

The savvy consumer's eyes have learned to avoid advertising.  Distaste flares when obvious copywritten catchy phrases assault them.  People seek content written by people, not by brands.   People have relationships with people.  The people they have relationships with may be part of a brand.  But it is the people that add up to the brand, not vice versa. A brand is a perception that occurs at the intersection between its products, partners, people and customers.  To do it well, you need to be there with more than just good content.  You need to be there ready to listen and build trust. 

To compete in the future, you need to be ready to create a relationship with your customers.

You can do this with a strong content, empowered people and social media strategy that is about your people developing relationships with people who are customers, future customers, influencers and sometimes innocent bystanders in a way that is reflective of your brand.

Do you need help making your content stand above the crowd or building a social media strategy?  I know just the person who can help.  Me!  You can view my LinkedIn profile here, or email me at

Fast Response from Time Warner Using Twitter for Support

Hurricane Sandy had me restless on Sunday night and early Monday morning.  Finally I turned on the TV.  Moments later I got the dreaded blasts from the Emergency Broadcast System that are usually followed by the promise that "This is only a test.  If this were a real emergency, the blasts would be followed by a message."  Only there was no message.  No declaration of an emergency.  No declaration of a test.  Only silence after the blasts.  Even my television programming was silenced.  For a long time.  I shut off the TV.  I was still restless. I turned the TV back on. Within a few minutes of doing so, again, the dreaded blasts.  Again, silence.  Again, no sound on my television program.  Call me Pavlov's pooch...but I tried again.  Same result.  Clearly the person conducting the test had fallen asleep mid-test or been abducted.  So I picked up my smartphone and started reading Twitter. 

That's when I saw it.  A tweet from Time Warner, my cable company, @TWCable_Neast, about the emergency preparation they were taking for Hurricane Sandy.  So, I sent them a tweet about the Emergency Broadcast System problem.  They responded to my tweet quickly.  About 10 minutes later sound came back to my television. 

So, I don't know if my tweet alerted the Emergency Broadcast System to the problem or not.  What I do know is that my cable company was responsive.  Very responsive.  I've watched their twitter stream over the past 2 days.  It is well managed.  It provides real-time response.  It provides updates about outages and keeps followers informed as to what they are working on to respond to problems resulting from the hurricane.

Are you using Twitter to communicate to your customers?  Or are you, like Time Warner, using Twitter to develop a dialogue with your customers?  If you are communicating to them without responding to them when they communicate to you, you are diminishing your brand.

Hats off to Time Warner for a job well done in terms of optimizing the brand through social media (not to mention to the ongoing response to the outages caused by Sandy.)

If you need help optimizing your brand through social media, I know someone who would be great at helping you develop a strategy.  Me!  Check out my LinkedIn profile or email me at

Friday, October 19, 2012

Looking for a Social/Web Analyst?

I love my job.   Or is it, loved. I was part of a large restructuring WFR on Monday.  My whole team was impacted and we were part of 43 positions in our organization gone.  I have never been without a job and never been a casualty of restructuring.  I expected to feel worse.  Instead, I feel optimistic, strong, enthusiastic, excited about what's next for me.  And right now, I am feeling a lot of love.

Here's what I love.

1.Collaborating with an incredible and talented bunch of social media ambassadors, editors, partners, vendors, consultants and business stakeholders. I've learned from my very talented colleagues every day of the past 13 years.

2. Making a difference.  Just over the past year, insights I've had and recommendations I've made using data and digging in to find cause/effect has allowed us to increase the impactfulness of our blogging program 7X.  We've been able to double coverage with only a 5% increase in resources by focusing on 10 key optimization criteria in blog posts that help measurably improve views, conversions and search optimization.

3. Social, Web, and Email as instruments for measurable (and thus instantly improveable) communications that offer instant response from targeted audience. Communication is instantly impactful when done right, and each successful (and unsuccessful) communication can studied for leverageable insights to be tested and adopted as best practice.  And I am experienced in making all 3 more impactful.

4. Current and former colleagues, old and new friends, and family who have reached out and created introductions, identified opportunties and been so incredibly supportive.  I am humbled and blessed.

5.  The Unknown. I always loved a good mystery.  Either I will land on my feet or grow wings and fly.  If not this, it will be better than this!

If you are aware of any positions that may be a good fit for me, email me at  Or check out my LinkedIn Profile.

Stay tuned. I will have some free time for blogging for a bit!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Social Media Best Practices for Editorial and Content Optimization

For the last several years I have been developing best practices for social media content optimization using data to identify and test specific criteria that drives better results from social media efforts.  I've decided to begin blogging about these best practices so that more social practitioners can benefit, and to hear your experiences and ideas.

Using some of the practices I've identified, the 200 bloggers supported by my program and other web content owners (my former role) have:
  • increased blog page views up to 7X
  • optimized web and social content to enhance SEO and in many cases received page 1 google placement
  • improved call-to-action conversions up to 5X
I've developed maps for tweeps to help them identify the purpose of the tweets they write and craft the tweet to meet the purpose.  The twitter accounts I have worked with have a combined following that now total over 150K have delivered over 7M twitter impressions on a single campaign.

The most recent campaign I worked on, visitors to the campaign landing page coming from blog posts we optimized drove 2X the conversions than other visitors to the site and spent 5X earned time on page than traffic from other sources.

On the personal side - I live in a beautiful coastal southern Maine community and have raised my 2 nephews now embarking on careers of their own.  I enjoy going to the gym, reading, writing, and travelling.

I'm a former stand-up comedian so I hope you'll be equally enlightened and entertained.  Looking forward to sharing and hearing from you about practices you are finding beneficial in optimizing content and measuring social media.