The State of Branding: A Reflection: Part 1

reading list
Technology has brought upon many changes to the branding and marketing industries, specifically the Internet. Employing the Internet as a means of branding combines mass media’s reach with the personalization of two-way dialogue that was previously only possible through personal selling (Simons, 2007). Simons (2007) suggests the use if the Internet for branding could be described within four pillars: understanding customers; marketing communications; interactivity; and content.

Simmons, Thomas, and Truong (2010) identified several Internet tools that offer brands the opportunity to create brand equity for products categorized by experience, credence, and search characteristics. Internet tools such as social media, email, forums, video sharing, and webpages allow interaction between the brand and the consumer, and interactions between consumers themselves. This interaction is significant in that they can allow for real time dialog and can facilitate the exchange of experiences and preferences between consumers and to the brand as well. Should this dialogue take place on a brands webpage or blog, and include its products, the opportunity for creating and increasing brand equity is substantial. Another aspect of the Internet that has created opportunities for both the consumer and brands are hyperlinks. Such links offer consumers a road map of information that enables the consumer to navigate significant amounts of information and make evaluations and decisions in a very informed manner.

Globalization and technological advances have enabled consumers to find the information they desire and share this information regardless of geographic location (Jai Beom, Yoori, & Ryun, 2009). The Internet has made foreign businesses more local, and has given the small local shops the chance to be more global. With this technology, businesses are also able to target markets outside their geographic locations and engage with them for better knowledge of the audience. With the understanding of a particular target market, a brand can select the appropriate tool(s) in which to reach and engage with them.
The Internet has changed the way brands build and maintain their image, improved methods of addressing customer service issues, has created opportunities to brand themselves through celebrities, has created the notion of personal brands, and has revolutionized integrated marketing communications.

Maintaining Brand Image
The current marketplace is inundated with brands competing for the consumers’ attention. If a brands products or services do not have a perceived differentiation, failure is a real possibility. When trying to maintain a positive brand image, differentiation becomes just as important as it is when developing a new product or service. What differentiated a brand from the competition when it came on the market, may now have become commonplace, forcing the brand to consider news ways of differentiation. Differentiation among the competition in the future will require strategic planning and looking beyond functional benefits of products. Branding is not finite, it is a continuous process that should be strategically planned but also allow for some flexibility.

Evolution- Additionally, brands must change at the same rate as society or risk becoming obsolete. This does not imply re-branding excessively, but rather investing in new technologies that will help the brand to prevent falling behind. To maintain a positive brand image, a brand must decide what is the best method to keep a fresh image in a market with continually changing technology. Such technologies could be mobile applications or free downloads. As more consumers utilize mobile technologies and smart phones, these types of technologies are quickly becoming a mandatory component of any brand.

Consistent Messaging- There should be consistency between a brands vision, strategy, culture, and reputation in order to maintain a brands image. Hillestad, Xie and Haugland (2010) found that an organizations reputation saw positive gains when the integrated corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their business strategy. This suggests organizations influenced by CSR are differentiated between competitors, and ultimately the brand benefits. A reputation as an organization that embraces corporate social responsibility and is environmentally aware contributes to a brands value, equity, and competitive advantage. Such a favorable reputation is often difficult, or even impossible for competitors to imitate.

To maintain a brands image, the organization must start with a quality product or service. If a consumer does not view an offering as having adequate quality, there will not be a purchase. Ultimately, the consumers create successes through purchases and prevent failures due to repeat purchases. Brand loyalty is becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve and maintain with the volume of competing products and offers on the market. Rewarding loyalty and offering great customer service are great ways to keep consumers loyal while maintaining a positive band image.

Customer Satisfaction
O’Cass and Viet Ngo (2011) found that employing a strong service capability and encouraging customer involvement, by way of customer empowerment (in the marketing environment), is essential. Brands today have the ability to gain and understand consumers due to technological advances like dialogue through the Internet, and online satisfaction surveys or online focus groups. This enables brands to gather and analyze data, and with that data, formulate strategies and policies that enhance customer satisfaction.

However, customer satisfaction surveys can be flawed due to their ability to predict with accuracy the real strength of customer relationships and the brand equity they create. Often “satisfied” or “very satisfied” customers will leave a brand for a competitor when they become somewhat unhappy. Given the environment today of on demand information, consumers can find a competitor in a matter of moments or a few click of a mouse.

Loyalty-The value of a loyal customer can be infinite. A loyal customer is a patron to the brand over the long term even if at times they are not necessarily getting the best price. They are loyal to the brand, share their experiences, and tend to be more forgiving with the occasional service issue. A satisfied customer becomes a loyal customer for a brand through customer experiences with the brand. Meaning, improving customer experiences at each touch point influences the loyalty of a consumer. Customers interact with sales staff, customer service, web pages, email, and even through social media. Each of these interactions is an opportunity for a brand to improve the customer experience, create a relationship, and nurture a relationship. Conversely, these are also opportunities to create a negative experience and drive the customer away. By evaluating these touch points, a brand can identify what customers think about the brand, what they value about doing business with the brand, and ultimately build the foundation for a long term relationship. Brands must embrace a corporate culture that can close the gaps between actual and perceived performances continually.

Social Media- An alarming trend in social media is the large amounts of brands that have active Twitter or FaceBook accounts that do not respond to consumer interactions. Utilizing social media as a tool to learn more about consumers is becoming a real advantage to business. Those brands that choose not to reply to consumers are simply ignoring them, which is unacceptable. Whether the brand is using social media for customer service purposes, marketing, promotions, or the like, they need to be prepared before launching a social media endeavor. This means having the staff to address inquiries, pass them along to the right folks, and the know how to make the social media strategy effective.

Stay tuned for the continuation of this post… and conclusion(here).

I don’t often write about my Doctoral Journey…But when I do… it’s no longer sprinkled with four letter words.

chnrdu / / CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t often write about my Doctoral Journey…But when I do… it’s no longer sprinkled with four letter words. I may have just found my rhythm, for the moment.

The dissertation process is one that I have become increasingly familiar with in my years as a doctoral student ( I just reached 3 years, 10 months and 22 days). What once was a vague image has become clearer and more relatable. Through my previous coursework, I have learned just how important time management is for someone who is working full time, going to school full time, and trying to maintain a happy family at home. My time management schedule has become routine to me, and should offer some stability when proceeding through the dissertation sequence. I have learned valuable skills related to organization as well. However, I do notice that in my organization, I still have a bit of chaos. When I believe I have my research organized by themes, I discover a new connection or find that what was once thought to be connected may indeed not be.

Self Help
Two obstacles I must overcome through this arduous process is managing family time, and remaining organized through the accumulation of additional research. Since last spring, I have been reading a few books dedicated to doctoral student success in preparation for the dissertation phase. Three books I have found to be quite helpful are Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish, Finish your Dissertation Once and For All, and The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.

With this assortment of books, I was able to see inside the time-frame and structure of a dissertation, common pain points for each section, coping techniques for one of the most stressful endeavors a person will go through, and practical personal and writing advice from those who have been through the process. Through these readings, I have found both support and motivation in what used to be one of the most daunting periods of my doctoral journey. I no longer feel as isolated as I once did. The authors of Finish your Dissertation Once and for All: How to overcome psychological barriers, get results, and move on with your life by Alison Miller and The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.: 200 secrets from 100 graduates by Dora Farkas ( @DoraFarkasPhD) made me feel as though I was working with my own dissertation coaches. Social media has also been instrumental to me as I gain momentum for the dissertation. I follow a few blogs written by students further ahead of me in the process, their experiences have helped me prepare and stay motivated. I also have joined a few online support groups and have made a few ‘friends’ on Twitter; I now know I am not alone in the journey.

The Unknown
One extraneous pain point I have not been able to address is dealing with my committee, as I have not been assigned one yet. This is an unknown hurdle that I look forward to checking off my list. I feel that if I can get the Concept Paper written and approved in the first dissertation sequence, the timeline I have established for myself will be attainable. I have worked hard to do as much research and writing before the dissertation phase specifically for that reason. I want to have as much feedback from course mentors as possible on as many section of the Concept Paper as possible. Acceptance of the CP on the first submission is a primary goal.

In preparation for this new phase of my journey, I have gathered some reading material to help guide, motivate, and prepare me in some areas I feel I can use some additional help. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal by David Krathwol and Nick Smith is a highly recommended book that should offer the guidance I need to ensure timely acceptance of my Concept Paper and Dissertation Proposal. I find I struggle a bit in my critical thinking and evaluations of research, so I have two books I hope will help me hone these skills: Critical Thinking About Research by Julian Meltzoff and The Craft of Research by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams. I plan to read these three books before and during my Comprehensive Exam phase.

Learning is the process, not the product
Of course, all plans are subject to change; I know I need to be flexible and stay motivated regardless of outcomes. There will be times I may get discouraged with committee feedback, but all of their wisdom only makes my dissertation better. I also need to bear in mind that the dissertation is likely the worst research and writing I will ever do in my academic career, it will only get better after each ensuing writing project. With each course I have taken, I am one step closer to completion. Similarly, with each week of the dissertation process, I am closer to achieving the loftiest goal I have ever set for myself. Ultimately culminating with a Ph.D., an achievement I will be unreservedly proud of.

Next stop, Comprehensive exam and ‘dissertating’


No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth…

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth… Just Phding, summering (with kiddo), teaching and mentally preparing for sending my little to KINDER! Can you believe how fast the time flies. I started this blog in 2012, when he was 2 years old and I was in year 2 of my Phd Journey.. I had anticipated on finishing this fall as I sent him to Kinder, but after taking multiple courses year one and two, I HAD to take some time off from my program. Lesson learned: slow and steady wins the race, over commit, take too many classes at once, or push too hard in your PhD program you will explode!

Research is going well. At the beginning of my journey there were not a lot of studies on Social Media and Brand Loyalty… Now there are a few, but none really aligning closely to my Dissertation topic. Which is a good thing! My concept map (hanging on my office wall staring at me daily) is not as neat as it once was, so this tells me I am on the right track! Next step is identifying a brand or product category to study.

I hope each of you is having a wonderful summer! Look for more recent posts in the coming weeks.

Students, July and Fall courses I am teaching can be found here

My little and I shopping for Fathers Day gear for Daddy- 6/15

Shopping for Fathers Day gear for Daddy- 6/15

Recommended movies for Marketing Students

medium_4683421549 I usually share a list of movies with my undergrads to get them pumped up about Marketing and to see how it infiltrates our everyday lives. Hopefully those of you who are students past and present, undergrad and graduate will enjoy these hand picked Marketing flicks! Those who are not students, but Marketing geeks like me: enjoy! I must warn you that may get a little resistance from non-marketing family members if you tell them these are Marketing related (as I did with my husband). But, I assure you they will enjoy them!

The following are some great movies to request on Netflix, Blockbuster, HULU, or whatever you like (in no particular order):

For trailers of the movies visit My TAMU page on my blog here.

2014 Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Great for those who love Social Media Marketing.

2013 Amber Heard and Shiloh Fernandez (Note this is Rated R)
A slacker hatches a million-dollar idea. But, in order to see it through, he has to learn to trust his attractive corporate counterpart. This covers branding, image, and perception.

Guilt Trip
2012 Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, Julene Renee
As inventor Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, a quick stop at his mom’s house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride. Fantastic movie on getting your product to market, and funny!

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
2011 Morgan Spurlock
Very informational, funny, and gives great insight into branding. My favorite!

The Joneses
2009 Demi Moore and David Duchovny
Great example of how we influence each other and how marketers can and do manipulate consumer behavior.

2006 Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph and Dax Shepard
Not a movie that requires your undivided attention, but I enjoy seeing brand sponsorships for everything and placed everywhere!

Minority Report
2002 Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton
I enjoyed seeing a glimpse into the future in this movie. Keep in mind this was 10 years ago. Pay attention to the personalized marketing messages on billboards.

Boiler Room
2000 Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck and Nia Long
Token FBI/ethics/fraud movie.

The Husdsucker Proxy
1994 Tim Robbins, Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh
A rather comical look (a Coen brothers movie) at running a manufacturing plant. Free on Amazon Prime.

Glengarry Glen Ross
1992 Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin
A movie about desperate real estate agents. Free on Amazon Prime. Available on Netflix streaming.

Tucker: A Man and his Dream
1988 Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landau and Christian Slater
Great movie on a man, his product, and going to market. Free on Amazon Prime.

What other movies should be added to this list!? I am always looking for more movies to watch and share with students related to all facets of Marketing (and business)… Please share!

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

How To Use LinkedIn To Stand Out Among the Crowd: Professional Social Network Hacks That Work

According to a recent Mashable article, 37 percent of surveyed job recruiters identify social (professional) networks as one of the most important sources for hiring. Additionally, 90 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s corporate talent solutions to find future hires. Whether you are about to graduate, just started classes, or are somewhere in between: you must seriously consider utilizing LinkedIn as a career tool!

I often have undergrads asking what the difference is between LinkedIn and Facebook, as they see it as ‘just another social network.’ That notion could not be further from the truth. Facebook is more about establishing personal relationships, while LinkedIn is more about conducting business.

Profile Basics

As you enter your profile details, do not think of your LinkedIn profile as an online resume, it goes beyond that. LinkedIn allows you to create a profile that can showcase projects you have worked on that relate to your career and goals. It also allows you to use keywords that align with what you currently do, what you have done in the past, and what you ultimately want to do in the future. Thus making you “findable.”

You can visually illustrate your skills with rich media, such as pictures, video, projects, or even a presentation you’re especially proud of. Include these if they are professional and relate to your overall goals and career aspirations. Help recruiters visualize what type of talent you bring to the table.

As you set up your profile, know you can come back and add to it and tweak it as well. Remember:

1. Post a photo! Use a professional headshot if possible.
2. Professional presentation is important on LinkedIn, but do not omit all of your personality. LinkedIn is a social network- creating personal connections is important. Also important is engagement and relevancy.
3. Consider your goals. Think long and hard on this as these goals will shape how you create and maintain your profile. LinkedIn offers some suggestions here. Are you looking for a job, are you creating a personal brand, are you making connections now for when you graduate and/or change careers?

By now I hope you see the importance of a LinkedIn profile. Take a moment to click on the hyperlinks within this post and bookmark them for later reading. A great article to start with from U.S. News that outlines some great tips can be found here.

Groups and Connecting with Thought Leaders

Not only does LinkedIn allow you to post your own profile, you can view others and connect. Unlike Facebook, connecting with folks you do not actually know is not seen as ‘creepy.’ It is a great personal branding tool for students to post relevant information, a photo, and interests, as well as connect with those in their industry. In addition, LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, for advice and even support. For example, you may be interested in the SNHU Alumni Group or the Graphic Design Group. Search LinkedIn for your particular industry.

LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage directly with others in your industry and establish yourself as an active contributor rather than a passive spectator. Mashable suggests one of the best ways to get noticed is to participate in conversations and ask smart questions. Be professional and do a bit of research (or at the very least a Google search) before you ask a question.

Connect with your friends, current and past co-workers, professors and industry leaders; always remember you are judged by the company you keep!

Recommendations and Endorsements

A recommendation from someone in your desired field speaks volumes to your ability to stand out from the crowd. Seek recommendations from those who have a good sense of your work ethic and accomplishments. Those you ask for a recommendation will have to write a bit, so keep that in mind. Alternatively, an ‘endorsement’ is achievable with a simple click. Note it is common practice to reciprocate an ‘endorsement.’


Always check out the pages of your targeted employers, or those you will interview with. By visiting company pages, you can conduct valuable research on the business, its policies and more. This kind of company research on LinkedIn can help keep you ahead of your competition. You may also discover an internship in your research. Several companies list these wonderful opportunities on LinkedIn.

Get Started: Focus on the value you bring to a potential employer.

The Huffington Post suggests that having a LinkedIn profile in an age of technology is absolutely crucial for college students. Utilize these (free) tools LinkedIn provides to brand yourself as the employee the company you want to work for will WANT. It does not happen overnight, but the connections you make will prove to be a great source of support, information and encouragement.

There are multiple tutorials on how to use LinkedIn efficiently for various purposes. Click and save to your bookmarks:

LinkedIn for Students

LinkedIn Guide and Checklist

Again, Be sure to click the hyperlinks within this post! The curated links will assist you in crafting the most effective profile for LinkedIn. Please do not hesitate to connect with me at any of my social touch points!photo credit: Graela via photopin cc

Graduate School is nothing like Undergrad: 5 ways it is more Rewarding


When talking to undergraduate students or even those in the workforce considering going back to school for their Master’s, I am always asked, “How is it different?” It is very different, and in a good way.

I waited close to three years between my bachelor’s and master’s. I chose to graduate with a double major in Business Administration and Marketing, continue working full time and make a dent in my student loans. When I was ready to start the process of applying to graduate school, I found out my employer would not pay for courses in “Marketing” because I was working in a technical department within the telecom industry (with the hopes of a marketing department transfer). Instead of getting a Masters in IT or being deterred, I went ahead and switched jobs and made my preparations for grad school. Looking back, this was a great thing. Not only did I get my Master’s, I avoided massive layoffs, seeing my employer investigated by the SEC and the collapse of one of the largest telecom companies in the United States. Gotta love the ‘90s!

The biggest concern I had about graduate school was the GMAT. I felt I never tested well. Once the test was taken, the results printed, I was on my way to two years of fun. Truly, I loved every minute of it. And here is why:

Level of Maturity
I was 25 and mature enough. By 25, you usually have your personality developed, aspirations in mind, goals set out and a picture for the future — what better time to devote about two years to bettering yourself? I had some professional experience under my belt, which would prove to be useful in my course work, and had a clear idea of what I wanted from my graduate program.

Career in Progress
I was not as concerned about hurrying and finishing my degree so I could get a “better job,” as I was during my undergrad years. I worked part time my freshman and sophomore years, and full time during my junior and senior years. I was so determined to graduate and get a better-paying job that I overloaded each term by taking 21 to 24 semester hours. This time around, I was making better money and was able to pay for each class as I took it. Not to mention, while in school, I could defer my previous student loans.

Industry Specific
Probably the main reason I loved my Master’s program so much was that each course was directly related to my area of interest: Marketing. What’s not to love about Consumer Behavior, Global Marketing, Marketing Managements and Promotions? Graduate courses are focused on topics you may have experience with or will have experience with as you develop your desired career. These courses also make readings, case studies and projects more relevant and applicable. In contrast, my undergraduate courses varied and typically were dealt with subjects I had little interest in until I reached my junior and senior years.

In my graduate career, I had some great instructors who took an active interest in me. The classes were smaller, and we were able to get to know one another better. Many of these instructors kept in touch after graduation, and ultimately it was one of my grad-school instructors (turned Department Head) who hired me for my first adjunct teaching assignment. These instructors see what you are capable of doing and can be a great source of information and guidance — they can also write killer letters of reference! Similarly, I was able to create friendships with my peers that transcended into valuable professional contacts. Now with social media, it is even easier to stay connected to instructors and peers, and explore networking beyond graduation.

Like-Minded Individuals
Have you ever felt out of place with friends? Most of my friends had very little interest in business in the depth I did. Most had careers in different sectors or were married with children. In grad school, I was surrounded by like-minded folks who shared my respect for education, valued hard work and had the potential to be thought leaders in my field.

I am not saying obtaining a Master’s or an MBA is a piece of cake and one big social party. It is hard work, but when the end result is one you desire and the topic of study is one you love, it really can be enjoyable. And don’t forget: There are plenty of organizations that value an MBA.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from pursuing something so awesome! If someone you know if ‘thinking’ about a Masters/MBA, be sure to share this post with them.

Day 2: The Shoe

Well, I have officially finished Day 2 “training” for my first 5K. If you’re lost on how I went from writing about Social Media Marketing to also writing about running, catch up here. I value you as a subscriber, so know this additional content will have some social element to it, please do not unsubscribe! 😉

No outdoor running today, my little dude decided he wanted to build “Lego City” indoors instead of biking along with me, so we stayed indoors. But I assure you, at around 4pm he will beg me to go outside to “practice running”. Those in Texas in July know why this is a terrible idea.

5 year old Asics are better than my 1 year old " Cute "Asics..

5 year old Asics are better than my 1 year old ” Cute “Asics..

So, I began my short run on my Precor. For those who decided to try the 5k with me for the first time, how are your feet!? I ran for such a short distance this morning and on day 1 (I am embarrassed to even write it), and my toes are killing me this afternoon. So much for cute running shoes, cause they don’t make you run very cute. So I tried my old 5 year old Asics I ruined with enamel paint when we renovated my Laundry Room in Jan (more on that here, AND it is Social Media Marketing related). Interesting fact, did you know your feet can grow up to a full size when pregnant? Mine did, and I am still grasping the fact I am no longer a cute 7.5, apparently I am not even an 8!

Tip 1: Get a better shoe. Replace 5 year old running shoes!

According to RunnersWorld I need a few different pairs, so I am researching inexpensive but ‘good’ cross-trainers, in a size 8.5 and NOT 7.5. I have ordered a pair of shoes ($41) from Amazon and supportive socks; they should be here in two days. Thank you AmazonPrime! In the meantime I have been Googling about my toe pain and shin pain!

Tip 2: Take shorter strides to avoid Shin Splint, and possibly Stock up on KT Tape?!

Hopefully my new shoes come in time for my next short run, Day 3! I am very motivated and know I can reach my goal of running 5k in 60 days- I ran a decent amount of time today given the circumstances. I am hoping with some added comfort on my feet I will be able to meet my goal for the week, and easily add 1-2 minutes on next week!

And as usual, LoneStar CASA could use your donations for the 5k! Sponsorship opportunities are still open!
For more, click here.

Every Child needs a Hero, but Abused Children need SUPERHEROS!

I typically write about social media marketing related topics but today I am sharing something a bit different and bit more personal! I decided to run my first 5k, The SUPERHERO 5K, to benefit LoneStar CASA! This is a big deal to someone who literally lasts 2 minutes on a treadmill- I am not cardio fit even for a former Certified Personal Trainer!

Monday I started my “training” so to speak with my son (almost 5) who says he wants to take part. And I have not even told him we are both going to dress up as SUPERHEROS! He rode his bike, I ran-ish. He lasted 1.2 miles! So, I had an excuse to head back home. Here we are red faced and pooped after finishing:
Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 9.03.22 AM

I will periodically share our “training” with you Via Twitter, FaceBook, and this blog in hopes to inspire others wanting to try their first 5k! If you would like to join me, please comment below and I can share my (very easy) training schedule that only will require 10 minutes of your time the first week…. we will build from there to achieve a 30 minute jog = 5k! You may also want to view my Pinterest Board with helpful hints and charts to go From Couch to 5k!

I do hope you share this post as well as I am seeking sponsors for the 5K to be held on 11/1! If you, your business, or someone you know would like to be a sponsor, please let me know. Sponsorships starts at on $100. You may contact me (form at bottom of the post) or visit

Sponsorship Options
$5,000 Champion Sponsor
$2,500 Victory Sponsor
$1,000 Fantastic Sponsor
$500 Super Sponsor
$250 Defender Sponsor
$100 Caped Crusader Sponsor Booth
Secret Sponsorship (protect donors identity)
Volunteer on race day!
Other contributions (food, beverage, “race packet” items, etc)

All proceeds from the SuperHero event will benefit abused and neglected children in Rockwall and Kaufman Counties. Lone Star CASA is a registered 501©3 organization. Donations are tax-deductible. THANK YOU…

The SUPERHERO 5K benefits LoneStar CASA. CASA believes every child who’s been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community. To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child’s needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what’s best for the child.

Here is a video from last years 5k

How not to suck at social

All year I have been writing about several underlying concepts one should have a grasp on in order to be a more marketable social media professional. We have covered everything from being flexible, Analytics, SEO, content, and integration of social into a traditional marketing plan and beyond. For a re-cap, read here.

These concepts are not only necessary for today’s marketer, they are almost demanded. By this I mean they may not be skills that one would encounter in one specific job description. But, they are skills that will over lap from department to department. Having an understanding of their application to not only your specific role, but others as well will give you a broader view of the overall marketing picture while also making you more desirable, more effective and ultimately more successful. We have made it to the last concept in the series, and perhaps the most basic yet often overlooked and underutilized.

Do you know who the top Influencers are in your sector? Your competitors? Industry specific trends?

For my Social Media Marketing graduate students, I suggest that they follow a few Social Media Marketing thought leaders and companies on Twitter, follow a few blogs, and read a few books. This applies to the seasoned professional as well. Please take a moment to click on the previous links to bookmark, save, share etc. As you browse the internet and search and read about topics of interest, you will notice several names pop up continuously. These will likely be your thought leaders. By reading related blogs and keeping up to speed via other social channels, you are more able to identify and connect with other like minded professionals, identify industry leaders, identify and track competition, and often identify opportunities.

Be proactive and use social tools to stay informed and relevant even if you are not a social media marketer.

For those within the SMM industry, you are likely already doing this. If not, please be sure to take a moment to read “20 Minutes a Week to More Connected and Intelligent You: Are You Ignoring These Basic Social Media 101 Concepts?”.

Blurred Lines

As social business progresses, I feel that the departmental lines are getting blurred (more on that here). Roles and functions are being re-defined and those working in one field that may not seem to be related at all to social media marketing are being impacted by social media in one way or another. Yet another reason I love the field of social media marketing and subsequently chose it as my research focus in my doctoral work.

Historically, skills that are valuable in one department were not as valuable in others. In this social age, this is no longer the case. The marketer who has an understanding of SEO and Google Analytics is far more valuable than one only proficient in writing basic content. That is not to say that every marketer will need to address SEO And Analytics, but it does help if everyone is on the same page given marketing projects related to social tend span several departments. This is not a new concept. Businesses and marketers know that communication between departments is key, but more so now than ever with the all encompassing role of social media.

Get a move on

Today’s ‘real time” business environment makes it necessary for all departments to move quickly and nimbly. With this increase in social media use for Marketing comes an increase in the need for departments to seamlessly present one brand and communicate in one voice. This consistent image and voice contributes to not only the customer relationship with the brand but also the customer experience.

More here…

photo credit: ePublicist via photopin cc

SEO, Cross-departmental Communication and the Extinct Career in Social Media?

Last January, when I wrote 15 Concepts to Make You a More Marketable Social Media Professional, I had not really planned to base an entire year of monthly blog posts on Maximize Social Business around it. However, once I wrote it I wanted to elaborate on each concept a bit more to cover some of the top concerns and questions I get in my Social Media Marketing courses.

After Analytics, the next topic I have some confusion in the classroom is SEO. Some students had not considered it a function of Marketing, but it is one of the best tools we have. As a marketer, some basic knowledge of SEO, why we need it, what it does, and how to best utilize it is a handy tool to have in your belt. While you may not be an SEO specialist, you should have an understanding of it in order to be a more effective marketer.

SEO, or search engine optimization, in my opinion boils down to great content. I am not an SEO expert by any means. However, relevant and timely content will drive visitors to your site. In order for this content to be discovered, it should have a headline that grabs the target audience’s attention and is actionable. By actionable I mean, likely to get clicked and shared. Rankings on search engines will be higher with the more frequency of sharing. Social media has a direct impact on this sharing by making it not only quick and easy to share and also making it easy to share across multiple networks.

Some quick tips:

* SEO should be strategic, not an aspect of “design”.

* SEO is long term, ever changing, and continual. Do not expect to address SEO and forget about it.

* SEO must align the website with set business goals.

* SEO can be the most highly leveraged, most productive item of a marketing budget.

* Tags are not categories, they are more specific but the two complement each other.

* Tags should be up to 3 words long

* Go easy on the “tags”. The more the merrier is not true in this case.

* Tags should not be redundant.

* Be helpful. Customers are looking for information, give them what they need and answer the questions they’re seeking. If they value it, it is shared.

* Word of Mouse is the new Word of Mouth.

* Social Sharing is good. More shares of your content, equals more inbound links and traffic.

* You must track web performance data to understand what people are looking at and what you could do to better improve the experience. Recall this is my number one topic I find students struggle with.

* You cannot improve what you do not measure. Consider one of these Analytics programs: Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, Clicky, Adobe SiteCatalyst, Webtrends Analytics, IBM Digital Analytics, iPerceptions, Yahoo Marketing Dashboard

* Website goals should be clarified and then further tied to how these goals apply to specific departments.

* Cross-departmental communication and aligning departmental goals with business goals helps produce an effective SEO strategy.

* Social media is not just for the marketing department. Keep in mind, functions in other departments may overlap with Marketing because of Social Media.

An Extinct Career in Social Media?!
I saw an interesting piece targeted to Millennials with tidbits of career advice from Fox Business Network’s Cheryl Casone. Towards the end of the piece she suggests a career in social media will not exist in 5 years. While I agree to an extent, I felt she presented her position terribly. Those hoping to make a career out of simply tweeting are in for a rude awakening. Social Media is a tool for Marketing, Human Resources, Sales, etc. So yes, “Twitter Ninja” is NOT an idea career path. One must be a Marketer first, with a specialization in Social Media (as it applies to marketing) just as any other marketing related job like logistics, branding, or merchandising. However, unlike some of these other areas, social media will be tied to nearly every department within an organization in some way.

For all of the Millennials who saw that piece, “social media marketing strategist” or simply “marketing strategist” may be a better career option. Social media will be here in 5 years, but the need for someone who knows how to tweet will not. There will be the need for strategic thinkers and those who can make sense of all of the data we are accumulating; not simply folks good with “tactics”.

Suggested reading for the month:

Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Content Rules By Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

%d bloggers like this: