American Airlines Post Bankruptcy Response: Thumbs Up

There is a flurry of activity around the announcement for American Airlines filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but as a customer who interacted with them personally through this crisis, I have to give the company a thumbs up.

I give American Airlines a "Thumbs Up" Post Bankruptcy Announcement

Here are 5 things I think American Airlines did right — On and Offline:

  1. Email: AA sent out an email explaining its decision to its loyal American Advantage Rewards members.  I received mine before I saw it in the news or twitter.
  2. Web Banner: They put a top banner on their homepage assuring customers that business as usual, flights would not be interrupted and rewards miles would not be touched.
  3. Phone Customer Service: I actually had to call and change my flight on the same day they filed. I was expecting an exorbitant wait time…nope 1 minute and I was talking to an agent who was calm and helpful. She immediately made the change, assured me my future miles were safe and thanked me for being a loyal customer.
  4. Facebook Video: The video on Facebook, while very corporate, did offer a good chance to reassure customers and others of what, why and how the decision will positively change the future of the company.  They received a 163 likes, 134 shares and 126 comments–very mixed in nature, but overall showing support for the company.
  5. Twitter Response: I think they did a fairly good job in the Twitterverse…trying to respond to loyal customers,correcting misinformation and staying away from the emotionally charged, immature comments.

I am proud of the way American Airlines handled this crisis.  I think they coordinated traditional and new media communication methods to consistently send the message that business as usual, flights and rewards are secure, and forward looking statement around a “come back” and thank you for the loyalty of their customers.

What do you think? How would you rate American Airlines handling of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?

Networking Online – Connecting On and Offline: 3 Success Snippets

Networking online: When online and offline connect!

Networking online really works. I felt like a Wonder Twin this week. Wonder Twin Powers: Activate! It is outstanding when I finally meet face-to-face an online connection. There are lots of skeptics and many people fear online networking, but I have 3 experiences this week to prove its reward!  It is the coolest social media experience.

Here are 3 On/Offline examples I encountered this week–met the coolest people, learned so much!

Christina Motely, @christinamotley

  • Internet Summit and Tech Journal South Deck Party on Monday.  I met @christinamotley via twitter, we hung out in some of the same online Linkedin groups and started following each other.  I went to the Tech Journal South Deck Party before the #ISUM11 and we connected.  WOW…she is such a great, energetic marketing savvy person.  A great connection indeed from networking online.


  • Anthony Zeoli, @tonyzeoli

    While networking at Triangle Entrepreneurs week, I ran into a mutual contact and then was looking for a developer and found a potential contact Anthony Zeoli (@tonyzeoli) in Chapel Hill via LinkedIn.  I requested a connection and showed interest in potentially needing to partner.  We immediately skyped that day and he is a outstanding…Wordpress guru, accomplished digital strategist and IA/user design master.  He even introduced me to hashable, a great app to use at networking events sharing business cards via @ twitter message. ANother success snippet of networking online.



  • Janet Kennedy, @jkennedy93

    At the Connected Women of NC, #CWNC events today, I made another live connection with a Linkedin and twitter connection Janet Kennedy (@jkennedy93), with the same namesake and a common digital marketing affinity, we had lots to talk about. She shared a great story about Scottish vs Irish Kennedys…and made sure I knew about the Merry Mingle, coming up Dec. 2 that benefits Interfaith Food Shuttle and is in partnership with several associations. Woot Woot…yet another great story for networking online.

     

     

    So if there are skeptics out there…check out the three snippet stories.  When online and offline meet, both networking and or in business…it is the most amazing experience.

    I challenge everyone, to try to connect with online contacts, live.  You build solid relationships and gather tons of insight and rich advice.

    How about you? Any good success stories when virtual connections become reality meet & greets? Share your stories.

     

     

Micro Marketing: The Era of Relevance has arrived.

Micro Marketing, well is the opposite of Mass Marketing.  I have heard is called niche marketing among others and a new one for me the other day was a take on the concept called “drip marketing.” The “Mad Men” age of advertising and marketing still works for products built for the masses, but niche is where it’s at! All businesses and organizations must be hyper relevant to be successful these days–The era of relevance has arrived.

Tips on how to micro market in a highly competitive world:

  • Segment your customers and prospects–really identify profiles and how your offering is relevant to each
  • Create custom offers–be that content like ebooks, white papers, blog posts or coupon rewards
  • Get your hashtag on–by targeting hashtags you can turn your mass tweet into a targeted tweet
  • Target your keywords or location via google to reach your niche customer
  • Participate in relevant LinkedIn discussion groups and offer valuable content
  • Post on relevant Facebook walls–if your customer has an affinity for a group or cause, add to the conversation

It does take planning and time, but micro marketing is the best way to increase conversions. While cliche, the old adage is still true–right time, right place, right offer….that is what we all aspire towards, right?

How about you? Any success stories or tips to help businesses use micro marketing for success?

 

Print Media Still Rules in Europe, at least in prestige-Reflections after Convo with Top European Journalist

Print still rules for journalism in Europe

 

What–Print media in Europe still rules?

In the digital age and the news of dire straights of the newspaper business in the US, you would think that would be the case globally…not so, according to some top emerging european journalist selected as Edward R Murrow Fellows visiting the US. Print media in Europe still rules according to these industry mavens and practitioners.

Edward R. Murrow

Edward R. Murrow Fellows are top emerging journalist from EU.

I had the honor of attending a reception in their honor this evening at the UNC-School of Journalism and Mass Communication(my alma mature) in conjunction with the US State Department and the International Affairs Council of North Carolina.

I met many of the “up and coming” European journalists on an immersive fellowship to the US. They were from all over, Germany, Macedonia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Iceland, Norway, Austria….I thought I could really talk shop and find out about the digital news revolution and how that has effected and changed news and journalism in Europe.  To my surprise….nope…almost all talked about how the “prestige” still rests in print media journalism–newspapers, magazines, etc.

3 Take Aways from my Euro-Journalism Meet & Greet:

  1. Print media still rules: Several journalist had rotated throughout their organization’s departments, from online to culture to investigative—Of all of them…the most money and fame came from the print media role. (Could it be because all the print media journalist that serve as mentors already made their fame and careers?)
  2. Digital journalist haven’t gained credibility.  These people were fairly young, so I was surprised at their skepticism of digital journalist.  Perhaps they still held on to their formal training and ideology of the role of a journalist…credibility and truth only could be regulated by the print media, edited process? I was surprised at the skepticism.  It reminded me of the time when I was in school and you could not use the internet as a source because it was not validated.
  3. European social and subsidized system may be a key contributing factor to the slow transformation.  As you may know the socialist system of Europe takes care of people regardless.  Unlike the US, where we have small subsidies, welfare, social security, etc, in the EU…the society will take care of you.  EU government subsidizes the airline industry, health industry, and at least in the Nordic countries…newspapers.  So if the government is going to compensate for the loss in a news organization’s revenue…why on earth would print journalist  change their tune about digital media.

I think this is just posting the inevitable…once governments run out of money and add in the continued pressure of globalization, digital journalism and the monetization of digital journalism will catch on in Europe and will create a natural transfer of prestige from print media to digital over time. No matter, a good journalist will still have prestige regardless of media–asking insightful, revelaing questions and communicating that information in a way for their audience to understand will prevail.  

Thoughts? Am I off base? Are you surprised as much as I was? How do you think Europe will evolve as the digital revolution evolves?

 

 

 

Digital Loyalty and Affiliate Marketing Combined? A win-win combo

How to combine digital loyalty and affiliate marketing?

Digital Fan key to digital loyalty

As tracking tools get smarter and the proliferation of couponing makes the digital marketing space primed for combining two great marketing strategies….What if you could actually pay people for being social advocates like affiliates.  I am not talking fake fans…I am talking about combining digital loyalty and sharing with affiliate marketing tactics where fans, customers, etc would help you spread your message and get credit or incentives for helping the cause.

All the social media trends talk about mobile, LBS (Location Based Services), NFC (Next Field Communications) as well as social sharing going main stream. Which allows people to take action immediately.  So what a great business strategy to reward your digital word of mouth fans with “credit,” better yet integrate mobile and trigger more buying.

Here is how I would set up this digital loyalty and affiliate marketing strategy:

Combine affilate marketing with digital loyalty

1)Integrate social into your CRM system, where you can match customers and their social profiles. This serves as your tracking database.  There are lots of tools out there depending on your system and price points.

2)Decide on a reward and the pay out for an action.  Either credit, points system, coupon or cash. Like” on Facebook = x, or a tweet, retweet, or LinkedIn status update =y.”

3)Set up your tracking. You will need a registration form to sign up fans (which will help build your social list for future marketing). Then set up the tracking in your CRM system.  If you are already monitoring and responding, this is just one more step by adding the credit system and linking it to a user interface so people can tack their rewards.

4)Create a simple user interface where people can check on their credits and redeem them…kind of like the airline miles or rewards program. Better yet, if you have a rewards program in place, just add this own. This is also the place where you can have all your legal jargon, how it works and any other social collateral, i.e. latest tweet to amplify, etc.

5)Market your new digital loyalty affiliate marketing program.  This also offers you a way to gather a social list to add to your CRM system. Plus, it is a an innovative hook to peak the interest of new prospects.

Advantages:

If you create a credit or coupon reward system this sort of action helps generate leads and future sales. Plus, it helps you scale your own social marketing efforts with less time and resources.  Plus, it gives customers and prospects incentives to not only promote your brand, product or services, but increase their own “Klout” score. It is a win win for everyone.

Challenges:

The biggest challenge will be in settling up policy and process.  But that is just a minor logistics problem.  Plus, you will have to invest in some tools or system development. That could be incremental if you have a social CRM component already in place. The concept would work.

So consider creating a digital loyalty program that pays…a great value-add for digital advocates, a lead generating tool and an innovative marketing tactic that delivers over and over.

Have you created a digital loyalty program? Do you have an affiliate marketing program? Have you tried combing? What are your results?

Social Media Operations: Set up and Maintenance key, Not Sexy

Learning how to operationalize your social media practice is key for long-term success.  Social media operations isn’t the sexy stuff like contests, coupon and clever videos.  It is the stuff that will make or break you, literally.

The life of today’s marketer is very time intensive. Many marketers’ live for the campaigns, creative, photo and video shoots.  But often get frustrated and bogged down with the operations of juggling it all: branding, events, email, social, collateral creation, sales support…It’s a lot.  Plus if you do it right there is always pre, during and post work.  There is measurement and analytics and adjustment.  Here is your moment of validation…IT IS HARD TO DO IT ALL.

But how you set up your social media operations is key for scalability and sanity.

Here are 5 steps to set up a social media practice that scales.

STEP 1: Create a plan. Everything starts with a plan.  

  • What are your goals? Business objectives? Create short term and long term goals.
  • Who is your target audience? Where do they hang out online?
  • What valuable content can you offer?
  • What stage are you in your social media practice? Build, Grow, Nurture…that will help you define your plan and actions.

STEP 2: Create process and policy. More non-sexy stuff….social media operations is all about process and policy–sustainable, repeatable, scaleable.

  •  Establish a “go to” for any social media questions or actions within your organization. Could be an email alias, a person or a team.
  • Create a standard publishing process.  When you produce content for other activities, can you use it in your social media activities? What is the process to do that? Who will actually convert content if necessary and who will actually tweet, update or post?
  • Create an editorial calendar. This will save you.  If you build an editorial calendar that not only establishes topics, but cadence and frequency.  When you are in the trows of actively engaging, you forget about consistent, quality publishing is the key to keeping your audience and building. Reactive behavior on top of reactive behavior will drive you mad, alienate your audience and do more damage than all the previous efforts.
  • Create a social media policy for your company. People in organizations are dying for some direction.  They want to do the right thing; they want to be a champion; they want to help.  By establishing some policies that enable employees to be active members of the social media marketing team it is a win, win and SUPER BONUS for scabelability.
  • Create a triage process and map to who in the organization will respond for inbound mentions, complaints or referrals. This one is hard, especially for big business. Who should respond? Who would be an expert to add to a discussion? How do we identify, notify and activate employees in our organization to join and nurture the conversation? You need work flow for this.
  • Create an CRM integration process for sales. This step is key to showing results for your efforts.  When you harvest product inquiries or pain points that your service/product can help with…that is a lead.  How are you going to activate your sales team to follow up. How can you identify which sales person, pass the lead, and empower the appropriate follow up? This is a process and tool challenge.
  • Create a way to measure your efforts and report your progress and/or adjust your plan based on results. You can report back to the CEO, your manager or your organization the benefits of your efforts without data. You can’t learn what works and what doesn’t with out data.  Based on your plan goals, set up a way to measure your efforts to fuel your next move and your budget.

STEP 3: Get some tools.

  • This one is always the big question.  What tools do I use? What is the right one for me? Can I manage on free tools, do I need to purchase ones?
  • Mashable has a great post on top tools for B2B companies to monitor, publish and measure.
  • You can’t do social without tools…it is too much. Organization and process is the only way to scale in this media.

STEP 4: Recruit and train your fellow employees across the organization.

  • A common challenge for today’s marketers regardless of size of organization is resources.  You can’t just go out an hire an army of people to help you do social.  Just not enough money or talent out there for that.  But you can empower your best champions from within.
  • Employees are your best resource.  They know the company–it’s culture, products/services, and usually experts within.  After you have your policy and process nailed down.  Set up a lunch and learn and explain the plan and their roles.  Get them motivated to be a part of your extended staff. Create a way for them to ask questions and establish that “go to” process so they know who to talk to if they are unsure.
  • Don’t just do communicate once…have a series.  In person or virtual. Create a way to communicate to them about campaigns and calls to action to “amplify.”  Announce key wins in your efforts and recognize employees who have helped the social engagement cause to encourage others to help.

STEP 5: Set your expectations and your stakeholders appropriately.

  •  This is the classic tourtise and the hare fable.  You must set expectations.  Social takes time, just as building relationships. It takes time to build an audience, nurture and capitalize. It takes time to create and enforce policy and process to start those productivity gains and sales gains.  Plus, many people don’t event know what to expect, so if you tell them what to expect…you are way ahead of any disappointment.  You are in the driver seat

Social media operations is hard. It is necessary. It is not always sexy.  But to make it work, to make an impact, you have to do it.

So what do you think? Anyone have tips out there for how to set up a sound social media operations practice? Challenges in process and policies you want to share?

 

 

Professional web video: Why go pro? A case study

Since I redid my introduction video for my website, it got me thinking about others who may have the same questions about professional web video:

  • Should I create a professional web video for my website? It’s just the web, do you really need high-end production?
  • Can’t I just do it myself? or let my nephew do it?
  • Does lighting really make that big of a difference?

Watch for 3 BIG Take Aways on Going Pro for Video!

PS: Thanks Frank from Franklin Video….lighting does matter…looks like a million bucks! Looking for a pro to produce a professional web video, I recommend Frank Smith @ www.franklinvideo(dot)com.

Web Video Redo–How I did it in less than 4 days?

I decided on an upgrade.  I re-did my web intro video in less than 4 days with an incredible crew. Nothing evokes confidence in you and your company than high quality video that tells your story in less than 2 minutes. It is your first semi-face-to-face introduction.

[youtube xNByugcF8TQ 560 349]

Here is how I did it:

1)Hired an awesome crew.  My pal and rockstar video production master, Frank Smith managed the production.  From lights, to set up, to filming and direction, to editing and more. I would recommend Franklin Video to anyone looking for a reasonable price, that makes you look like a million bucks.

2)Writing and producing makes the end result shine.  I hired my pal and long-time TV producer, Christine Ramsey, to help write the script and serve as lead producer at the shoot.  Creative and concise, calming and professional, a veteran video writer and produce makes the shoot smooth and fun.

3)Prepare yourself for the jitters and embrace it.  I didn’t sleep well the night before the shoot.  That’s normal.  I was a bit nervous going head to head in front of the camera. That’s normal.  But the professionals made it all work.  Channel your yoga breathing and you will be fine.

4)Promote your asset–a new web video.  That’s my next move, and where I add value to this process.

  • Share with your friends and colleagues (be that via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or old school email.)
  • Find relevant discussions be that blogs of interest, linkedin discussions, other online communities of interest.
  • Place it prominently on your site.  Let it shine.  Show it off.  It is you and the first impression you will make to new prospers and clients.
  • Tag it well…on Youtube and your site to help with SEO results and get more traffic and views.

 

Web Video is a great investment.

That’s how I did in less than 4 days…but that is just the beginning. I plant to get a lot of miles out of this investment. You would be surprised at the cost…video production back in the day started at $10k just to have a conversation about a shoot.  Now a days, technology has really cut the time and cost of production. Consider a web video to elevate your website and your business.


Confession: I am a reformed Twitter hater, but value there is–what and how to use

 

Here is why I hate it…it is this stream of consciousness..the contact stream of information.  Some things are great nuggets, some thing are random crap and some things just repeat over and over.  If feels like a swarm of gnats–buzz buzz in your ear–except this is a buzz, buzz of your eyes.  It is distracting and sometimes disabling. Sometimes I think to myself, I don’t get it…

BUT…

It has value.  If you have any of these common reactions to Twitter…read me out. You may become, like me, a reformed, twitter hater…and learn to like, maybe not love, and leverage this media.

Here are four ways it can provide value in business and beyond:

1)Excellent broadcast medium — while it may feel like it goes out into the great internet beyond…your followers and their followers, etc. It is kind of like a new school bulletin board to update people on events, posts, videos, opportunities and more.

2)Research heaven — some of the best research and articles come from my tweet feeds, links, hot news and more in short blasts of information Find this from people you follow or check out what is hot, by following trending of #hashtags @ http://www.hashtags.org/ or Twemes (twitter themes) @ http://twemes.com/.

3)Real-time customer service —  what a way to set the record straight or solve a customer experience gone awry…instant way to track, react and support your customer experience

4)The ultimate virtual networking event — Twitter is the most “stranger-friendly” social network.  You know when you go into a real-life networking event and sometimes you know no one…and you are always looking for the “lone wolf” to strike up a conversation…well twitter is the most receptive to a stranger reaching out.  Remember when introducing yourself…don’t forget to provide some value—a question, a link of interests, etc, along with your @messages.

So give it a chance. It has lots of value. Use it on your terms. Try something new once a week, if you like it, fold it into your tweet practice, if not..leave it out.  Don’t hate it…make it work for you.  I am reformed, are you?

How to create a website in 2 weeks and $250?

I created my website literally in 2 weeks and for $250.  This, of course, was after I decided on my brand, what differentiated me and what services I was going to offer.  The website was just the execution part of the process. Yes, it is possible to create a professional website and here is the proof.

Here are the 6 steps I took to create my website:

1)I decided what I needed in a site. I wanted something professional, yet easy to update myself.  NOTE: I am not a designer or a coder.  I needed a way to communicate with my audience, so I wanted a blog component. I wanted it to be “socially” integrated.  I needed to have a place to put my portfolio of work and a way for people to contact me.  Decide what you need your site to do first.

2)Then I researched hosting companies, prices and packages. Even though I am not fond of the commercials and branding for Go Daddy, their services and packages were the right choice for me.  Plus, they always have promotions and you can google online codes for more discounts. I got the 3 year package with email address and wordpress integration–all for about $5 a month.  Not bad…Plus, you can actually talk to a real person if you have an issue.

3)Next, visuals, as I mentioned I am not a graphic designer, but like all of us, we get by with a little help from our friends, right? I asked a friend to help me design a logo and pick colors.  She gave me the friends and family rate and whipped it out in about a week. I downloaded some free graphics for the rest.

4)Copy writing.  I drafted my static web copy and had a friend review and help me edit.

5)Site set up is next.  I am familiar with WordPress because I have been co-write a gardening blog, You Should Grow That, for a couple of years now, so it was fairly simple to input my website copy and visuals. Once you have chosen a template, the rest is data entry.  Sure there were some glitches along the way, but I visited some online forums, used “Firebug” to make some hand-codded changes until I created the site and functionality I wanted.

6)Then I added my video a friend help me write, produce and edit.

Voila.  My website was born in 2 weeks, $250 and some help from my friends.  When I tell people this, they are so surprised.  In the end, the hardest part.—was making myself do it.  Scheduling time to spend on creating it.  So, no more excuses…even if you just want a professional site to display your portfolio or resume. Schedule some time, invest a little money and ask your friends to help. Then publish and publicize.

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