Tag Archives: social media

Creating a Social-Friendly Brand: Interview with BJ Emerson, Part One

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I asked my good friend BJ Emerson, a.k.a. the social ninja, to share some tips on how you can create a social-friendly brand and be successful in doing so. Here are some of the tips he gives:

Social: “At the end of the day we all still need content, compelling content that will start those conversations that will lead to other places for us.”

Strategy: “Being social friendly goes beyond listening online, responding and interacting. There’s a lot of change that has to happen internally in order to embrace this mindset.”

Storytelling:  ”You want to make some kind of emotional connection. Find out how your customers are interacting around your product. Find out what they are passionate about as it relates to your brand, and then tell stories how they are doing that.”

In this interview BJ also talks about his book “The tasti D • lite Way,” and some of the reasons why he wrote the book with co-author Jim Amos. He also talks about his new adventure, Buzzadelic.

Do you have any questions for BJ?


The intersection of Direct Mail & Social Media

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As I observe many major brands’ social media strategy to gain “likes” and followers on platforms such as Facebook & Twitter, I see a number of correlations between Direct Mail & Social Media marketing.

First, some grounding. I have been in direct mail & franchising for the past 16 years and here’s what I see:

• Direct Mail arrives in your physical mailbox whether you asked for it or not.

• Social Media requires your permission.

• Direct Mail can be most effective when used to either acquire new or retain existing customers.

• Social Media can be most effective to retain existing customers and perhaps ask for referrals.

• Direct Mail has a physical & resource cost.

• Social Media has a resource cost.

• Direct Mail incentive strategy typically is to try the product/service.

• Social Media incentive strategy typically is to gain permission to market to or branding.

So it seems to me there is a fair amount of effort for Social Media to get to the same place Direct Mail starts!


Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Social Media marketing, I simply believe that there are significant considerations that need to be made and thus opportunities to use both more effectively and in concert with one another.

Let’s look at it from a consumer perspective: They are conducting their normal digital life and they stumbled upon the “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” messaging that, by the way, EVERYONE is asking for. If there is a relationship and at least positive sentiment, the click may occur and the marketing can begin. If there is no relationship, perhaps an incentive might get them to click. A discount, a coupon, a cause, etc. Many marketers have gone to this tactic and the research indicates this can work, but with potential negative consequences if not done correctly. Here’s another crossroad with direct mail. If you can incent the consumer to try the product (remember this is critical), have a positive experience, and then tell people about it, you’ve won the day.

I believe consumers are becoming fatigued with liking or following brands, having them show up in their social media streams, and will only do so with products they love. So you better show them the love when they do sample your product.

Opting-in-to-be-marketed to is so 2011. Get your holistic strategy together and use a combination of marketing tools to achieve the ultimate goal of having a large, loyal, and loving customer base for your product or service.

Here’s what I would do:
Launch a direct mail campaign targeted (did I mention I work for Valpak). Put a good incentive together to get people to try your product. When they do, ask them, no REALLY ask them to follow you on social media. Ask them to do it right there on their smartphone. Give them a follow up (lesser) incentive to do so in combination with the incentive that brought them in. Or give them a business card or magnet to remind them to do so when they get home.

Then with these new found customers, begin to add value to their social media lives by creating content that doesn’t try to sell them anything but remind them of your product or service. Ask them occasionally to refer you to their friends within their social media graph. Depending on your type of business, offer them an incentive to pass along to their friends. Schedule this out and stagger the marketing messages with normal social media content. For some examples of how to schedule these, read the Engage121 blog or watch this webinar.

At the same time, of course, you are doing the fundamentals of listening and responding to customers who use the platforms to talk about your product/service or the category you operate in.

If you have a customer, you’re much more likely to get them to “like” or “follow you” and the way to get customers, is through acquisition marketing strategies. Direct mail of course is just one tactic to use.


-  Todd Leiser, CFE; Director/Franchise Sales Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, Inc.

Cool What?

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We recently had the honor of being named a GartnerCool Vendor in CRM Customer Service and Social.” All I’ve heard since then is, a bunch of questions and comments, like:



- Who’s Gartner?

- What does this mean?

- You’re really not that cool!






I’d like to clear this up for everyone, once and for all.

Who’s Gartner – they are the clear leader among IT Analyst Firms. To put it into perspective, they are a $1B+ organization whose ticker symbol is IT. Enough said. Specifically to us, they have been preaching for years to CIOs (Chief Information Officers) that IT needs to function as a strategic business unit, not as a group of tech people.

What does this mean? – It validates everything we’ve been doing. When I demo Engage121 I always hear prospective clients say “cool,” to which my response is always “Why?” Because nothing we do is actually cool for the sake of being cool. There is always a method to the madness; or as we call them at Engage121, Business Solutions…a.k.a.…the same thing that Gartner is challenging CIOs to deliver on a daily basis.

What are business solutions? It depends on your line of business. For Restaurants, you want more butts in seats. For Real Estate Organizations, you want more listings and more sold houses. For Financial Institutions, you want to retain and grow your client base. We help our clients achieve their specific objectives through social media every day. Heck, I challenge you to find a corporate objective that social can’t influence.

And to my friends who say I am really not that cool, you know who you are. You are just busting our chops, because you are right there with us. Together, we are in the midst of working on some stuff that is straight up revolutionary. We are changing the ways business is done on a day-to-day basis.

Things couldn’t be any more exciting at Engage121 than they are right now. I am thrilled that I get to enjoy the ride. For the rest of you, buckle up because big things are coming. How do I know? Because I’m cool.


Social Media enables us to “tell a story” about our brands like no other platform can.

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Guy Kawasaki (former executive for Apple) was “awe-inspiring” at IFA, driving “real” meaning to the Social Media discussion and debate over usability.  He explained social media “practically” and elaborated on how social media enables us to “tell a story” about our brands like no other platform can.

He began by explaining that to transform your brand into a masterpiece, such as Apple did, your brand must successfully accomplish three factors in the social media: Likeability, Trustworthiness and Quality.

Guy suggested that by using these three factors, you can add personality to your brand and emotionally touch your consumer. As all of us iPhone users know, we do not own an iPhone exclusively for its millions of apps that enhance our lives, but because of the sleek and elegant design. It’s sexy; it makes us feel sexy, intelligent, productive and successful. The aura around Apple products makes you feel that you will not live another day if you do not own one. As brand proprietors, we should all aspire to do this for our brands.

You might ask…How was that message conveyed when it is attached to a piece of technology? By putting a story behind the message and finding the right people to tell that story; not just twitter users with 10,000+ followers, but those with only fifteen.  They are the tweeps who have the time to write about your product and become passionate about your brand.

Guy also mentioned, “Solving problems”. Guy explains the Apple problem/solution… “You’ve created your computer company because the only way you could access a computer was to visit a library, you thought there must be a better way, so you launched Apple.” Your computer company has just solved an everyday problem.

Guy also explained the importance of input and reciprocation.  Start with asking your customers for their support, even if they’ve already given it to you. After they’ve re-tweeted you, proceed to say thank you, then tweet them a link to a customer survey. People want to help you; you just need to let them know how. They want to feel that their input matters and is valued.  After you’ve received their input, keep in mind, it’s CRITICAL to reciprocate… ask how you might help them; this becomes your opening to the continuing dialogue.

A few more takeaways:
ENGAGE & DO IT FAST: Each post lasts 2-3 hours, so hurry!
SELL YOUR DREAM: Enchant your customer; don’t focus on money/product dump; tell a STORY to sell your product.
REMOVE THE SPEED BUMPS: Make it easy for your customer to connect with you, especially online.

“Social Media is a means to an end; the end game is enchantment of your customer.  Social Media isn’t the only way, it’s ONE GREAT way.”

I would love to hear your takeaways, please post them below.



- Jennifer MacDonald, Director of Community & Client Engagement

Franchise Social Media Summit

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I am thrilled to be speaking at Franchise Social Media Summit 2011.  As part of Social Media Week 2011, organizers Paul Segreto and Jeremy LaDuque have put together a one-day virtual conference for franchisors, franchisees, and any one involved in franchising.

Date: September 21, 2011
Time: 8am – 4pm (CT)
Place: Online and everywhere!

Here’s what you will learn at the summit:

> Why social media is different for franchising than other business models

> How to develop a social media program, including policies and procedures, specific to the franchise organization

> How to integrate new technology with traditional marketing and why you shouldn’t be afraid to do so

> Why today’s consumer and franchise candidates act differently than from years past

> How to create multiple benefits to the franchise organization through powerful brand awareness methods

> How to generate genuine interest in franchise opportunities and why a seamless transition from virtual world to in-person is essential to closing franchise sales

> Why improving communications and information sharing at all levels of the franchise organization is necessary for stability and future growth

Summit Speakers:

Keynote: Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible

Jon Carlston, Vice President, Process Peak

Joe Caruso, President, Capital Area Franchise Association

BJ Emerson, VP Technology, Tasti D-Lite

Jack Monson, Vice President, Engage121, Inc.

David Murray, Social Web Communications Director, re:group

Lee Plave, Partner, Plave Koch PLC

Nick Powills, CEO, No Limit Media Consulting

Debra Vilchis, COO, Fishman Public Relations

Paul Segreto, President & CEO, franchisEssentials

Jeremy LaDuque, President & CEO, Elements, Inc.

Register Here!

Exciting Updates “R” Us!

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As a communications software company we’re always innovating, making sure our products are on track – or even better, setting the trend. So when it comes to our new social media monitoring and engagement application, Engage121, we’re continuing to evolve the product in real time – making it more valuable with every day that passes.  Today we’re updating Engage121 with several exciting user interface (UI) and data-management improvements to give our customers a more intuitive and powerful experience. Here’s what’s on tap for an update later today…

User Interface Improvements

The "Outcomes" section of the Evaluate module

Engage121’s Evaluate module supports thirteen different types of charts reflecting data that measure Reach, Engagements, Outcomes, and Activity on the social web.  The quantity and quality of Engage121’s data is fantastic – and only getting better – but as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  With that in mind, we’ve made some changes to the way data is visualized in charts so that creating and interpreting graphs is a faster process.

All roads lead to Rome (but they take different routes!)

Chart measuring buzz of "coffee" across media, blogs, twitter, and other social media sites

Facebook, twitter, linkedin, yelp, foursquare – collectively they all help make up your social media presence.  But you do different things on each platform – and so does your audience.  To help our customers understand their social media presence with more insight, most charts in the Reach and Outcomes categories can now be separated by platform.  After today you’ll be able to see exactly what the buzz is on Twitter, all other social media sites, blogs, and traditional media – broken out by category; you’ll also being able to separate your “share of voice” along the same lines. It’s great to know where you are with your social media presence, but wouldn’t you like to know how you got there?

Making a mountain (cause mole hills are boring)

Sentiment chart displaying positive, neutral, and negative proportions

From their snow capped peaks to their dark, cool valleys – the variety of the mountain landscape captivates.  So we thought we’d make our charts look like them!  Both the “buzz” and “sentiment” charts are now portrayed as mountain charts – letting you see how your buzz breaks down by platform and your sentiment by tonality.  By quickly glancing at the charts you’ll be able to understand where you’re being talked about, how loudly, and in what tones.  Tell us that’s not exciting!

A place for your stuff

Our data’s comprehensive, it’s accurate, and it’s pretty – but there’s room for your data too!  From the beginning we’ve given users the ability to upload their own figures into any chart so that they could discern a relationship between say, retweets and sales, or check-ins and store traffic.  Now we’re letting you name that data so that you know exactly what you’re looking at on any chart.
Remember, unlike other social media software providers we don’t place limits on the number of charts, searches, or mentions we show you!  So bring your data and put it next to ours – there’s plenty of room!

Dude, where’s my chart?!

With thirteen charts to choose from across four measurement categories, there’s room for interpretation: is a FourSquare check-in an Engagement or an Outcome? The result of such queries was that charts didn’t necessarily display where a user thought they would.  We fixed that.  Now when viewing any of the four sections – Reach, Engagements, Outcomes, or Activity – users will only be able to create charts that are relevant to that section.  Want to create a FourSquare check-in chart? Do so in the Engagements section.  Need a “share of voice” chart? You’ll find that in the Outcomes section.  Users no longer face the hazard of creating a chart in one section, only to find it in another. If a chart is created, it will appear right in front of you!

Data Management

Data is just a bunch of numbers – it’s how you manage it that counts.  Sourcing and parsing data is a big part of what we do in order to make our customers lives easier, so we’ve made a couple of improvements upon Engage121’s ability to shape data into meaningful insights.  Today’s update offers a combination of new data with better ways of organizing it.

Let’s (not) ride the roller coaster!

Dubious graph caused by changing inputs. Now gone!

Recently we noticed that our keyword-driven charts, such as “buzz” and “share of voice” were too dynamic: it was possible to change data categories without changing the chart. In other words, if you started a chart monitoring buzz around the word “coffee” and then changed the word to “tea” a few days later, the graph would continue by simply jumping from the last “coffee” data point to the first “tea” data point, producing some very strange charts indeed.  You can still monitor as many keywords as you’d like, but once you save the chart with chosen keywords – you can’t change it; if you want to monitor additional keywords a new chart has to be created.  The upshot?  Unlimited charts – just no inexplicable roller coasters anymore!

Living your life one day at a time

Bars represent "clicks per day" with a line for "overall clicks"

One day at a time is a good motto – it keeps you focused on the present without stressing about the future.  But it’s also nice to look at your life in its entirety to see where you’ve been and what you’ve done.  The same thing goes for link tracking.  You generate hundreds of links on twitter, facebook, blogs, and other platforms – all of which persist for weeks or even months.  We’re now offering link tracking data that allows you to simultaneously visualize click activity on your links one day at a time, as well as over the life of the link.  Now you know how many people click on your link on Tuesday and how many people clicked on the link overall!

Coming soon to a theater near you!

As part of this update – but coming just a day later than the rest of the improvements – we’re incorporating YouTube channel subscribers into the “fans and followers” chart.  In about 48 hours you’ll get to see just how many people are tuning in to your channel and compare those stats alongside your fan/follower count on other platforms like facebook and twitter. More exciting updates are coming and we’re always looking for feedback, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, shoot us an answer to this question in the comments section: can you remember a time when a chart fundamentally changed your perception of an issue, whether business or personal?  Tell us about it!