My first ride at Blog Carnival!

I was extremely honored when a lady that I respect immensely, Lani Rosales (@laniar), co-founder of New Media Lab,  approached me to be a “judge” for this week’s edition of Social Media Blog Carnival.  Of course, I accepted immediately!   For anyone who is not familiar with Blog Carnival, it is a compilation of blog posts submitted over a set period of time (usually a week) and then a selected “judge” is invited to review all of the submissions and chose their favorites for the week and host them on their blog. (I encourage you to click the link and explore not only the Social Media Blog Carnival, but all of the other Blog Carnival categories.) SMBlogCarnival

Over the last week, multiple submissions appeared in my email inbox.  I poured over them, reading most at least twice, some more than that.  I wanted to make sure that I not only gleaned as much information as possible from the submissions, but that I gave fair consideration to the efforts of all of the participants. I wish I had room on my blog for all of the fantastic entries, but time and space make that an impossibility, so I chose the two entries that “spoke” to me the most.  I hope you enjoy both of these articles as much as I did! Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

How Twitter is Teaching Business the Lost Art of Conversation

Monday, June 22, 2009 Posted by Isaac Yassar

So it’s happened. Twitter has gone mainstream. As Twitter users, we knew instantly when Mumbai came under terrorist attack. We laughed at the photo of Stephen Fry stuck in an elevator when he tweeted his predicament, we were there when Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to 1 million followers, we caught the first glimpse of passengers being evacuated from the ditched plane on the Hudson River and we all suffered the lag time when Oprah Winfrey sent her first ever tweet on live TV.

Industry pundits and bitter journalists regularly diss Twitter as a time-wasting, “look at me” fad, destined for Forgottensville in 2 years. In fact New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd is quoted as saying to Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone:

“I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account.”

So is Twitter really just an emergency beacon and “a toy for bored celebrities and high-school girls” as Dowd gleefully claims?

Thankfully, no. The latest wave of Twitter users are business executives. They range from home business owners, SME’s, middle and upper management, marketing executives, brand evangelists and CEOs. Take a look at ExecuTweets and you’ll see some well-known names with very active Twitter accounts: Richard Branson of Virgin, Lisa Stone Co-founder of BlogHer, Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos and Steve Case Co-founder of AOL, to name a few.

It’s not just individuals either. Some of the world’s most recognized brands are Twittering. I found a number of super brands on Twitter and asked my followers which of these they were following:

Read more here

Re-defining ROI in the age of social media.

Posted by Matt Stigliano on 06/20/2009 06:27 PM

What’s the return on your investments?

After attending, the SABOR Town Hall Meeting and listening to Sean Wood and Rich Teplitsky of KGBTexas speak on the topic of social media, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about some of the things I noticed while I was there as well as some of the snippets of conversation that my ears overheard from other people’s small groups as they were gathering and getting ready to go.  Some of the audience was there to get an idea of what social media was, some were there to get more out of it, some where there just to see what the craze is all about.

Return on investment (ROI), is the ratio of gain or loss on an investment relative to the money invested.  In real estate, you often hear the term ROI being referred to around the hours and/or money we spend on any particular activity in order to generate business.  In terms of social media, I have heard many people question what the ROI is on it.  Whether it be blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or even ActiveRain itself, social media is all around us, but there has been some serious conflicts over the quantifying of the actual returns of using it based on the investment you put into it.  There are plenty of success stories of transactions closed thanks to the many different forms of social media, but I think there’s something else to look at.


As agents we spend much of our time looking to get in front of people.  To talk to them, to share our experiences, to tell them what we do, and to hopefully make them our clients (or at least a great referral source).  Agents are doing this all day long.  The girl at the grocery store, the guy pumping gas, the small business owner that you know through BNI – no matter where we go, we’re interacting and building relationships which we work to turn into business.  Occasionally, the business falls in our lap – “You’re a Realtor®?  I have a house I need to sell, can you stop over tomorrow?”  Other days, it takes a growth process of going from “that agent guy” to “my Realtor®.”  We hear the word cultivation a lot when referring to the people we meet.  Cultivate the relationship, build the trust, get the business.

Social media is really no different.  Strangers will talk to you, friends will tell others about you, and building a sphere of influence is the name of the game.  As many people discuss over and over again, the trick is not to sell.  I definitely believe this to be the case, but this is not the point of this post.

So what is the ROI on social media?

Read more here

They are starting to “Get” the power

The estimated number of companies currently on Twitter is in the thousands. The businesses are immensely diverse but their basic goals remain the same – to leverage the “Power” of social media for the betterment of their bottom line. While not every company on Twitter has found the magic formula that leaves that warm, fuzzy, “I’ve got to do business with this company” feeling with its followers, there are a few who either have gotten or are starting to “Get” the power the medium can hold. One such company that popped up less than two weeks ago in the Twittersphere is Maggiano’s. A family-friendly chain restaurant whose apparent mission is to provide it’s customers with bountiful, consistently good Italian food in a Little Italy style atmosphere.

The evidence that Maggiano’s is learning to harness the power of Twitter is clearly illustrated in the story of my lunch last Saturday. Beth Harte, Li Evans, Mayra Ruiz and I had plans to meet at the Maggiano’s in King of Prussia, PA. Mayra and her husband had driven up from West Virginia for the the day and we ladies were gathering to share, not only some food, but some sparkling discussion on the state of social media. Mayra was also interviewing Beth and Li about their upcoming Online Media Boot Camp. I was driving from my home in South Philly (Thanks Philly Car Share!) out to the ‘burbs when almost to King of Prussia, I realize I could not remember which side of the mall Maggiano’s is located on. So, Twitterholic that I am, I send out this tweet: @GloriaBell: Quick someone – Maggiano’s in King of Prussia, which side of the mall is it on?
Before I received a response, I sighted the restaurant, parked and joined the ladies inside. We were seated and I, again Twitterholic that I am, stole a quick look at at my replies (so I could thank anyone who had sent me directions) prior to starting our conversation. Imagine my pleasant surprise to see this tweet:
@Maggianos: @gloriabell Enjoy your lunch at Maggiano’s King of Prussia!
It had been posted less than ten minutes after my request for directions. The other ladies were just as pleasantly surprised so I sent out a “joint” reply: @Maggianos I am having a lovely lunch with some brilliant ladies @marketingmisfit @bethharte & @storyspinner
Within minutes we received @BethHarte @storyspinner @gloriabell @marketingmisfit Glad you’re enjoying your lunch! Cheers!
Enthusiastic social media evangelists all, we waited a bit and checked our new followers. Sure enough, @Maggianos was now following all four of us. Curious about the man/woman behind the mask (ok, the avatar, but mask flows so much better), I asked @Maggianos to direct message me with his/her name.
After exchanging a few direct messages, I learned that the man behind our “conversation” was Michael from Maggiano’s Marketing Department. They had only been on Twitter for approximately eight days and, to use his own words “We think it will be a great way to build a relationship with our Guests. Lots of potential uses, from informing them about Maggiano’s news and special promotions, to checking in to ensure we’re delivering a great experience.”

Now there are many questions still to be asked of Michael/@Maggianos such as – Did they receive a recommendation from a PR or Marketing person or agency to establish a Twitter presence or was it an internal decision? How did he learn about managing/leveraging Maggiano’s Twitter account? Was it from personal experience, for example did he have his own Twitter identity prior to establishing the Maggiano’s account? However, even with these unanswered questions, a quick review of @Maggianos Twitter stream shows a sincere willingness on their part to utilize the “Power” of the Twitterverse to inform their customers, obtain feedback, as well as enhance the customer’s experience with the Maggiano’s brand. Maggiano’s is demonstrating the understanding that, in today’s ultra-competitive climate, businesses have to utilize all the tools available to generate that magic combination of customer service and brand recognition that ultimately generates our revenue. Maggiano’s is far from being the only company that has recognized the inherent power of Twitter to help generate customer loyalty and business. What is impressive is their quick grasp of the “proper” use of the medium. Their use of the secret sauce of broadcast messages, monitoring traffic for their name and, most importantly, interaction/conversations with current and potential customers. Well done, Maggiano’s! Thanks for not only a fantastic lunch, but a great lesson as well.

Learning from our decisions – a conversation with my children

What decisions have you made that you would change? And would they really have created as much of a change as you think?  Those are the questions.  The answers should be yes and maybe.  If it's not than you probably made the right decision in the first place. 

The consequences of almost all decisions, except maybe children, suicide or something that lands you in jail, can generally be changed by choosing to make a better decision now.  You also have to remember that we make decisions based on what we know and who we are at the time.  Thus, there really are few "bad" decisions, only ones that change your path in life, no matter how subtle.  The goal is to then look at the new path, decide if is the one you want to take or is there one less rocky or more scenic (unless you want rocks and urban sprawl) and begin turning towards that path.  Sometimes you may have to walk parallel to it until it merges, but with focus, faith and heart, you get on it eventually.  I'm living proof.  I made a lot of self-destructive decisions that not only impacted me but those around me.  It took a very long time and a lot of very painful soul searching to understand what I was doing and why (not to mention some good medications), but once I began to start seeing it, I was able to look at myself in a mirror again without the horror, grief and guilt I used to see.  I don't believe that any of us ever really "get there", no matter what decisions we make.  That is why life has to be lived as a joyous adventure to be explored and enjoyed.  So if you are not happy with the way some of your decisions turned out, it is up to you to decide is making the changes to the consequences of those decisions worth it to you.  If so, you begin the soul-searching that will reveal the steps you need to take to get back on the path you want to be following.  And never underestimate the power of prayer, no matter what you do or don't still believe, the stillness and quiet of unloading your soul to a higher power (yes, AA inspired, been there, done that) makes finding what you are looking for much easier.

So, the goal is to try and make understandable, well-reasoned, educated decisions, but at the times you don't, it is not the end of the world, you just have to make a decision to change your original decision.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend