Archive for February, 2010

How Social Media (probably) Got a Small Hotel into the NY Times

Posted on February 22, 2010. Filed under: Jazz, Newspapers, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

No other tune could accompany this post as well as Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of There’s a Small Hotel from the album The Rodgers and Hart Songbook Volume 2. Check out the rarely-heard verse! Hit the play button below, or if you’re getting this by email, visit the blog to listen.

Today my RSS feed coughed up a New York Times article by Susan Dominus about the joys of www.foursquare.com. Read the article or go on the website to learn about Foursquare. That’s not the point of this post.

Susan Dominus met one of her sources for the article at the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Ave between 47th and 48th. From my experience, the choice of venue might be no coincidence. And it represents the power of social media.

First let me say that, in my opinion, the Roger Smith is one of the coolest unsung spots in NY City. Its president is talented Connecticut sculptor James Knowles. The property is maybe the last remaining property of his wife’s family’s hotel holdings. The couple has lovingly embraced the Roger Smith, renovated it and given it one of the most delightful personalities in all NY hotel-dom.

I first met Jim Knowles in the early 1990s through a client Joe Scott, founder of upscale Connecticut landscape design firm Glen Gate, who engaged Jim to create an award for his most creative designers. At the time, Jim hosted Monday evening starving artist dinners in the penthouse of the Roger Smith. They were unspeakably charming and so supportive of the New York arts community.

Over time, I’d stop in there to view the artwork on display and noticed that the hotel was succeeding in attracting international visitors. But I will go out on a limb and say that it has become uber-popular with home town folk since social media guru Chris Brogan has made it his official NY stopover.

Chris tweets about the Roger Smith to his almost 125,000 Twitter followers – including me — and frequently mentions the hotel in blog and newsletter posts. So when a New York Times reporter doing a story on the website Foursquare.com hooks up with interviewee “Damien Basile, a 29-year-old social media consultant, and several of his Foursquare-happy friends” at the Roger Smith, it stands to reason that this person likely learned about the place from a Chris Brogan post and might well be wanting to establish Foursquare mayor-dom and badges at Chris’ NY hotel of choice. (Again check out Foursquare or the Times article to interpret the aforegoing.)

Makes sense to me. But more important, and what I’d share with clients, is that recognition in the social media realm has real dollars and cents value. The fact that Chris has established authority and endorses the Roger Smith likely makes it a destination for social media types and probably led to the NY Times recognition. Chris…you’ve proved it before, and if I’m not all wet here, this proves it again.

Obviously, I’m connecting the dots, but if somehow Damien Basile sees this post, please let me know if I’m right or paddling in the wrong pond. Or if Chris Brogan learned about the Roger Smith from Damien or other NY social media folk I’ll reverse, of course. But it was one of those tasty moments that seemed more than coincidence. And Chris’ endorsement of the Roger Smith certainly can’t hurt – regardless of who learned about it from whom.

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When NOT to Link it All Together

Posted on February 15, 2010. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

First, take this Musical Accompaniment Pop Quiz. Why did I select Carnaval in Rio by the incredible Brazilian composer/guitarist/vocalist Djavan? It’s a two-part answer that you can find at the end of the post. Hit the play button to listen. eMail subscribers, visit the blog to hear the tune.

Awhile back, via a tweet by Derek Peplau (@peplau), a member of my Twitter community who is passionate about indie music, I learned about blip.fm. In short, this is the music version of Twitter.

All members become ‘dj’s’ and can upload, search for and share – i.e. blip, or re-blip — tunes and DVD’s in just about every music category – along with a few words about each selection. You can follow your favorite dj’s and hopefully build your own group of listeners. If you’re reading this blog, then you can imagine that I made a beeline over to blip.fm and searched for the jazz devotees and some favorite tunes to blip.

First, I watched the action of some of the more experienced dj’s. I saw that when they were on blip, they shared an almost constant stream of terrific music. Really impressive, the musical knowledge and taste of this group! Prolific!!

Now, when I opened my blip.fm account, I had the option to link my blips to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I held off until I got the lay of the land. Once I did, my decision was NOT to link up these accounts.

The reason was simple: My Twitter and Facebook communities are about other things — Inbound Marketing/Social Media and Family/Friends respectively. Even though the people who know me in all of my communities are aware that I am a huge music lover and that I ride on the back of a Harley with Jeff, the love of my life, they have their own passions and time is precious. I’m not about to fill up their Twitter streams or Facebook walls with 10 or 20 blips in an evening of music they may not necessarily want to hear.

In fact, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that although I enjoy his occasional tweet about something he’s listening to over at blip.fm and have discovered some cool new musicians and bands as a result, Derek isn’t tweeting his whole playlist either.

Although this follows a post that talks about how to link up and use an array of options to leverage your website hub in other online places frequented by your diverse constituents, this advice represents the other side of the coin. Here’s the take-away: we need to resist the temptation to link up all of our social networks. Just because it may be easy to accomplish with a click or two, there’s a thought process to go through to determine that whatever we share with a particular group will be welcome and add value.

If you’d like to, you can follow me or Derek on blip.fm! @elliebecker @peplau

Answers to Musical Accompaniment Pop Quiz:

  1. Carnaval in Rio is in full swing as I write this. So I’m in the mood. It ends tomorrow, Feb. 16, 2010.
  2. Djavan starts with DJ – a tribute to all of my fellow blip.fm dj’s! ;-}
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Buyer Personae, Meet Brand Personalities

Posted on February 12, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

To celebrate the end of the week and get us groovin’ into the weekend hit the play button for pianist Gene Harris’ version of ‘Put it Where You Want It’. More about why this selection at the end of the post. If you’re getting this by email – visit the blog to listen.

In inbound marketing we encourage clients to imagine their important audiences as Buyer Personae – individual types with particular qualities, characteristics and personality traits. Subsequent marketing to buyer personae becomes more focused and resonates more authentically with customers and prospects.

Lately, in consulting with a number of small and mid-sized businesses, I’ve started formulating some thoughts about Brand Personalities. Beyond the visual identities/logos, and overarching brand promises/values that marketers work hard to put forth with consistency, brands have personalities.

Like humans, brand personalities are comprised of a variety of traits and behaviors that can and should be displayed appropriately depending upon the audience, the interaction and the venue.

A brand may be dead serious about R&D and product safety. It may be playful in marketing promotions and intellectually curious in establishing thought leadership. It might be daring – or risk averse. It could be an advocate for its employees and a kind neighbor that gives back through voluntarism or philanthropy. It could be a no-nonsense negotiator in protecting investor value.

Companies need to consider their own personality traits when establishing their online presence. The array of social media and Web 2.0 tools offer ample opportunity to share various brand personality attributes in different ways.

For example, a firm’s website might present its most formal face to the general array of possible visitors: prospects, customers, referral sources, prospective funders, industry analysts, media, etc. There might be a calendar page listing upcoming events, speaking engagements and so forth. There might also be a page where the company’s philosophy of community involvement is described. Other pages would present products and services.

Offsite tools can make the personality traits associated with each aspect of your company and its activities come alive. Put the photos from a recent speaking engagement or community service event on Facebook, tagging noted guests, officials and employees. You can also share fan-only promotions, offers and contests there.

Post PowerPoint decks from analyst briefings on Linked In and solicit comments and questions. Share comments that highlight your understanding of your business on blogs and sites that cover your industry.

Use Twitter to tap into issues of importance to your key audiences, then comment, showing concern as well as expertise and sharing information that adds value to the conversation. Leverage your brand’s knowledge base on your blog, sharing insights from employees in various roles and commenting on industry developments, company issues, and customer concerns.

Regardless of the venue, link every part of your online presence to every other part so that over time those who engage with your company will get a fully rounded picture of your rich and diverse brand personality.

I chose the Gene Harris tune ‘Put It Where You Want It’ from his album Alley Cats for two reasons. First, the album notes say, “Soulful, bluesy, swingin’, hard-bopping, funky – which of these best describes the two-fisted jazz piano stylings of Gene Harris? Answer: All of them!!” So it is with multi-faceted brand personalities. And, second, you can take the online content that best represents each aspect of your brand and – you guessed it – put it where you want it! Enjoy and see you soon!!

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Take-away From Toyota’s Woes: Smaller Can Be Better

Posted on February 5, 2010. Filed under: Crisis Management, Crisis Response, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Please click the audio player right below for today’s tune — Duke Ellington playing Lotus Blossom — and see end of post to learn why I chose it. For email subscribers, please visit the blog to listen.

The largest company in the country that gave birth to the notion of ‘falling on one’s sword’ just gave itself a belated slap on the wrist for the results of abandoning its brand commitment to quality. Toyota president Akio Toyoda finally spoke formally about the company’s woes at a press conference today.

He apologized to consumers and shareholders and vowed that Toyota would refocus on quality, which has suffered — apparently since Toyota’s strategic decision to become the world’s largest motor company. The #1 spot didn’t do General Motors very much good from the standpoint of innovation and quality. It did indeed lose top billing to Toyota, which, ironically, has now dropped to #2 behind Volkswagen-Porsche – the result of global recession production pullbacks.

According to reporting in the New York Times, Mr. Toyoda said, “I deeply regret that I caused concern among so many people. We will do our utmost to regain the trust of our customers.”

He said that he hoped to restore Toyota to profitability and help revitalize the economy of Japan, but he would put restoring trust above profits. That makes sense. If trust is restored, profits will follow.

After reading the Times account, I decided to mosey around the Social Web a bit to see what people are saying and to check what Toyota is doing online to help turn around the situation.

On the Toyota Facebook page, there was a scary war of words going on among some of its more than 70,000 fans. Brand loyalists were chastising those who were concerned or angry about quality issues – even folks who had actually experienced serious accidents as a result of sudden acceleration.

Particularly heated were comments from a few fans with a political agenda who were putting forth the notion that the US government is pursuing the Toyota situation in an attempt to help GM return to the dubious status of ‘world’s largest.’ They must not have read Japan’s transport minister’s remarks, that he suspects Toyota delayed too long, putting profits before safety.

On Twitter, there were far fewer positive comments about Toyota and far more criticism of its delays and its departure from its quality ethic. However it was on Twitter that I found a link to Digg’s announcement that this coming Monday Jim Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor Sales, USA will take part in a Digg Dialogg.

Members of the Digg community are posting questions for Mr. Lentz and he will be asked to answer the ones most-voted-on between now and then. I took the opportunity to ask a question about whether the drop in quality standards would cause Toyota to retreat from the “Let’s be the largest” strategy.

Personally, I’ve never believed that bigger is better. I’ve seen too many tiny client companies make incredibly valuable contributions to the world, their customers and their employees. It’s great to grow and achieve efficiencies and economies of scale, but it’s also critical to have open eyes about what might be lost along the way. If I thought I might lose the very values that define my brand, I’d definitely choose to keep it small. Thanks for the reminder, Toyota.

 Today you’re listening to Duke Ellington playing Billy Strayhorn’s haunting tune Lotus Blossom. A song inspired by this iconic image of Eastern culture seems a fitting homage to Toyota and Japan. Out of curiosity, I just googled Lotus Blossom Symbolism. A result from WikiAnswers® informs me that the Lotus Blossom is a symbol of having come through a hard time, on the way to better times. The lotus begins its life in the muck and mud of swamps and works its way through the water to become a thing of beauty floating on the surface in rarified air. Wow! How perfect is that? Toyota, may you be a lotus blossom.

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