Category: Uncategorized

Austin CityGram Piece Live!

Austin CityGram Piece Live!

In December, I had the pleasure of spending the day with the talented Nadia Chaudhury.  We walked though a very fun day in my life – including interacting with Natanya Andersen and Jan Ryan who are two of my Austin favorites as well as my team.  It is a rare and special thing to have talented artists capture in words and images the joy that you find in your daily life and I adore this piece. If you’re interested, the full article and amazing photos at Austin CityGram here.


Social Media Rules Article in Entrepreneur

Social Media Rules Article in Entrepreneur

Last week, an interview I did with Entrepreneur magazine did whatever the digital version of “hit the newsstands” is.  While many of these thoughts were geared to CEOs of small or medium businesses, the content could really apply to any social media leader living in the real world of constrained resources.

Please head on over there and take a gander.

Amping up Peer-to-Peer WOMMA Connections in 2013

Amping up Peer-to-Peer WOMMA Connections in 2013

The below is cross posted on the All Thing WOMM blog.

Happy New Year from all of us at WOMMA! I am honored to be serving as your Board Chair this year and looking forward to an amazing 2013.

2012 was a busy year for the organization – raising the bar on our events, upgraded educational offerings, new councils, the WOMM ROI guidebooks, and refreshed ethical and legal guidance to our practitioners, and some exciting additions to the staff. My predecessor, David Witt, set the tone across all of these efforts by focusing the organization on building brand advocacy – which has become a “true north” for us as the official trade organization for word of mouth and social media marketing.

Before I share with you our focus for 2013, I would like to contextualize it with a few sentences on my history with the organization. I was lucky enough to be present at WOMMA’s first summit in Chicago in 2005. I was a marketer at Dell and the lone member of a large department tasked with figuring out how to employ “viral marketing” for a new product launch (these were the days of Subservient Chicken, after all). At WOMMA, I not only learned the value of marketing by inspiration vs. interruption, I was more importantly given entre into a community of practice. In a medium that moves as quickly as ours, it would be impossible to stay current with simply reading industry blogs or our own experiences alone.

Over the years, WOMMA has connected me with the professionals who have given me advice that has changed my career and accelerated my own practice of WOMM. It is personal experience combined with what we learn from our respected peers that will allow us to continue to evolve WOMM as quickly as the means to spread and amplify it.

Thus, in looking at 2013, I am not here to shift our content direction, but instead to focus on HOW we as an organization, a staff, and a board serve you, the members. We want to take that amazing community feeling and valuable peer-to-peer connections of Summit & WOMM-U and extend it throughout the year and to a deeper bench of each member company’s marketers. For all of those who have approached me and wanted to get more involved, you have been heard. We will be providing many more means and opportunities throughout the year for you to take a more active role and get more value from the organization in the process.

Member Center

Here’s a sampling of some new ways the WOMMA community will be extended:

  • WOMMfest – On February 19, we’ll be hosting a first-of-its-kind coast to coast celebration of WOMM called WOMMfest.  In addition to three anchor events in Seattle, Chicago, and Atlanta, our friends at House Party are powering an opportunity for 50+ member companies across the country to host local WOMMA Trivia Nights. This is a chance to share your knowledge and enthusiasm with colleagues, clients, agencies, and vendors alike. Apply to host a party in your city here.
  • New Member Center – First of its kind member center providing you an opportunity to access a huge library of presentations and research material to build your internal cases for WOMM, but the opportunity to connect with your WOMMA colleagues and fellow council members on a far more frequent basis.
  • Better Events – Want to have a role in determining what content is shared on our event stages?  We are assembling member task forces who will determine what speaking and content proposals will make it on stage at WOMM-U and Summit. Email Sarah Stauffer at for more info.
  • More Councils – Our expanding group of councils and evolving WOMM-COM programs will provide great opportunities to get more members of WOMMA companies involved by providing year round education for members at every stage of their careers.

We wake up every day hoping to make WOMMA a more valuable organization for our members.  If you have ideas or feedback, we’d love to hear from you, especially in the member center. It’s your organization, and we hope that in 2013 you’ll help us find ways to make WOMMA even better for your career, for our membership, and for the entire industry.

Start interacting and taking full advantage of your membership right now at the member center.

Happy New Year!

Lessons from the Frontlines of Social @ Scale

Lessons from the Frontlines of Social @ Scale

This item cross-posted from the Spredfast blog.

Who better to discuss the opportunities and challenges of scaling social to the edges of a large organization than 2 companies doing it in a big way, but with very different backgrounds and methodologies: Aramark and Whole Foods Market?  In early April, through a webinar hosted by Social Media Today and moderated by WCG’s Chuck Hemann, I joined co-panelists Aileen Dreibelbis (Aramark) and Natanya Anderson (Whole Foods Market) to do just that.  In the notes below, you will find some of the major takeaways around their approaches to the pillars of social at scale.  For those interested, the full hour of discussion can be downloaded here (

Quick Background on the brands:

Whole Foods has incredibly high corporate brand awareness and history of locally-focused marketing in addition to what is done on the corporate and regional level.  At the risk of punning, the WFM social footprint grew “organically” with local stores having set up pages, handles, etc with little oversight from corporate.


Alternately, Aramark is a private company that (among other things) operates food services on 300+ college campuses – each  individually branded with campus-specific names.  Aramark is challenged to build & engage an ever-overturning collegiate customer base with no corporate brand social “halo” to provide cover.  Aramark is sparking much of their social activity from the corporate center.


Culture-Right Strategy – As Natanya puts it “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”  No matter how beautiful or theoretically desirable a particular social strategy might be, it can’t create value if a brand’s culture can’t absorb it. This adds some danger to the desire to copy the strategy of others without thinking through what truly works in your own organization.  Putting together a strategy that is right for YOUR organization is the foundation of any successful attempt to scale social as you will have to move past the “native” believers. Despite the differences in their journey to take social to the edges of the org, there are major lessons surrounding the pillars to social scale and how they are approaching:

Business-Meaningful Definition of Success – Notice I didn’t say ROI (which has a very crisp, narrow definition) here.  This could be driving awareness, mitigating risk, increasing collaboration, mitigating risk to your brand, improving customer service response, etc.

For both organizations, and for most of Spredfast’s install base, engagement is critical.  For Whole Foods, that manifests as activity taken within their large audiences – with special emphasis on shares.  WFM knows that highly engaged customers become advocates.  For Aramark, beginning from lower audience penetration and facing a shorter advocacy window, building audiences is a primary goal followed by driving engagement.  Critical engagement metrics for Aramark include likes shares comments and (particularly) photo uploads.

Ongoing Training – Both Aileen and Natanya are working within the training cultures of their organizations.  At Aramark, there has been great effort to detail and train campus marketers from the ground up on social – emphasizing how certification, training, and engagement fit in with their overall objectives within the organization.  WFM is able to weave social into a rigorous ongoing training regimen and existing infrastructure in the company. Both organizations treat training as continuous and weave social into the fabric of a participant’s job vs. making it “extra”.

Content Strategy – Both organizations provide some high quality content from subject matter experts from the central core, but local colleges are expected to keep up their own conversation calendars and plan at least a month in advance.  WFM empowers local store marketers to interpret content or messages from corporate in their own way and listens for gems from the local nodes to share.

Technology – Technology can play a number of different roles in operationalizing a strategy.  Even the most basic advantage of an SMMS – having a 3rd party platform through which you can credential individuals in your organization to social accounts – can help protect you from the social risks involved with individual employees carrying native platform credentials around on their phones.  But technology can also help teams collaborate directly in a social platform, share content, route for approval or action, and respond to customer needs.

Agility & Evolution – As the organization learns & grows, and you learn what engages customers and sparks loyalty, you must be willing to frequently adjust and evolve your strategy to incorporate that data.  Aileen from Aramark lists opening up to a frequently evolving strategy as one of the most important and difficult steps in preparing for social at scale.

For more info from this group, you can follow @natanyap@aramarknews@chuckhemann, &@virginiamiracle. Virginia, Natanya from Whole Foods, and Tom from Aramark are also speaking at WOMM-U next week. Find out more about the event here.

Coaching from Andrea Jung

Coaching from Andrea Jung

0922_1_andrea_jung_280x340Andrea Jung is a rockstar.  Frankly, anyone who is a CEO of a company of Avon’s social and financial importance for more than a decade would be.  Yesterday, I saw her give a public address on leadership to an audience of largely women.  She was down to earth, inspiring, and highly quotable.  A few of my takeaways and their applicability to social media below:

Listen to your compass, not your clock – When Andrea Jung was passed over for CEO of Avon in 19997, it made headlines.  She was offered 2 other CEO positions at other companies.  It would have been easy to feel slighted or embarrassed and hop companies to earn the next checkmark on her resume.  But Avon’s mission of economically empowering women inspires and connects with her.  And staying true to that compass is what laid the ground work for a more meaningful, long term success to flourish.

You can’t reinvent your company if you can’t reinvent yourself -After missing earnings and falling out of favor with Wall Street, Andrea knew she was at risk of being fired in a quarter or 2.  a coach advised her to “fire herself” and walk in the next day as if it was her first day at a new job.  She could then approach and assess the company’s situation with fresh eyes and energy and start anew.

Proceed ethically – As Thomas Jefferson, “In matters of style, swim with the current.  In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  So many business leaders have found themselves at the core of corporate scandal.  They tend to be shorter lived and their shareholder value returned far lower.

“Communities have never needed companies more” – Choosing to be in the private sector does not mean you are opting out of a live of service.  The public sector can not meet the needs of our country or the world – and it is up to corporate citizens to stand up and do their part for the benefit of all.

Prioritize, and be present – So many working parents are constantly making micro daily tradeoffs about family and work.  They are difficult and constant.  Prioritize, make your decisions and then drop the guilt.  Once you are in the most important place for you to be present, you owe it to your companions to fully be there.

So much of this has direct applicability to our little social media corner of the world:

  • Because we’re moving so quickly, career focus often is on quick hops and ticking title boxes instead of finding a company, team, mentor, client, mission or purpose that gives you passion.  Once you’ve found that the rest will follow.
  • The WOMMA ethics code is just one incarnation of a way to make sure you are swimming on the straight and narrow of the social media current.
  • Social media has brought with it a massive case of divided attention syndrome.  The temptation to live tweet/Facebook/document your life instead of focusing on the humans around you is very strong!  Be present and see what happens…