How even a dog walker can benefit from social media

The term “social media” continues to be subject to interpretation by many. Ask a room of 10 people what social media means, and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. So it’s no wonder that many businesses and individual entrepreneurs are unsure how social media can play a role in their marketing communications strategies.

I asked on Twitter today, “What’s one business you think would NOT benefit from social media initiatives?” Here are some of the answers I received:

While some of these were given in jest, let’s take a look at a few examples of businesses that might not think social media is appropriate for them – and how we think it in fact could help raise awareness for their brand and company.

  • Fisherman – as @YuliZ says above, perhaps fishing is not a business that one would think is appropriate for social media promotion. But let’s step back for a minute and remember one of the most wonderful things about social media – we are all publishers now. What does this have to do with fishing? Ever watch Deadliest Catch? If you have, you already know that fishing can be a much more interesting career (or hobby) than you ever imagined. So maybe your type of fishing isn’t life or death – say you’re a commercial fisherman. Scale it down, take your camera out, video the crew before your next trip. Ask them questions about the different types of lines/bait/tactics used. Ask them their top three tips for a successful trip. Ask them how long they’ve been in the business. Turn it into an ongoing series that involves a) encouraging people to ask questions on Twitter b) have your crew answer on video c) post it on YouTube, Facebook, etc. I think you’ll be surprised by how many people would soon want to learn more about “Fred’s Fishing Factory” – whereas before social media, they may never have thought to even listen.
  • Fashion Stylist – okay so your job is usually conducted in-person and you can’t think of how to drum up business through social media. Sure, you can talk about fashion and clothes and related items on Twitter, but how does that help you when your business is in Phoenix and you’re talking to people in Prague? Think credibility, awareness and maybe even expansion. Create a Twitter presence and a blog. Connect them together – use sites such as Polyvore to pull looks together and showcase your talents by posting looks on the blog and promoting them on Twitter. Tweet about “looks of the day” or style tips. Encourage followers to ask for “online consultations” based on a certain event they’ll be attending – you can pull looks together, post them on your blog as examples and eventually even begin charging a nominal fee for it (perhaps through Etsy). You may decide to incorporate video by taking the camera to your gigs and showcasing how you pull a look together. You’ll soon find that not only are you honing your skills but you’re building your offline brand online, too.
  • Dog walker – this one’s easy! Get a camera phone, Twitpic photos of your walks and write a “doggie blog” about your daily adventures. Add humor and begin building a community by sharing tips, tricks, facts and figures about dog care. Localize it by sharing insights on where to find quality day care or vet services in other cities. Post funny videos on your Facebook, blog or YouTube that come from your every day job – you know people love funny animal videos! Again, the point here is to engage – and to build credibility. If I can see videos and blog posts about how much fun you have with your charges, I am way more likely to hire you than the person who placed a text ad in the back of the phonebook. You could even begin to include short snippets of happy customers providing testimonies about how wonderfu you are with their dogs.

Of course, these are not in any way full strategies but rather just a few quick examples of how different types of busineses can engage an audience and expand online brand awareness and credibility through social media. If you think that your customers aren’t on these social community sites – ask yourself if you think they Google. When I’m looking for something, it’s the first place I go. Use intelligent tags and post your content to as many social community sites as you can and you’ll begin to see that potential customers will find you even if they’ve never heard of Twitter.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/16/09

Jeff Glasson is on vacation this week so I’m throwing up what caught my eye for this week’s Picks.

Debunking Six Social Media MythsB.L. Ochman of BusinessWeek claims that resistance to social media is futile, and that “If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.” This post covers many myths that surround social media that everyone should be aware of “before taking the plunge.”

Cece Salomon-Lee, author of the PR Meets Marketing blog, took it upon herself to dissect the social media prowess of O’Dwyer’s list of top 100 independent PR firms (of which PerkettPR is not a part only because we do not share revenues). Her findings caused quite a stir – 59 comments and counting as of this post. Seems to me that agencies are using some old reasons such as “our clients don’t need social media” and “it’s the cobbler’s shoes syndrome,” as defense against not being involved in social media. As I mentioned in my own comment to the post, they’re missing opportunities in this vein for their own relationship building, whether or not they’re executing campaigns for clients.

On the other hand, Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet took on a bit more comprehensive research, which she unveiled in a survey report “Is ‘Social PR’ for Real; Which Agencies Get It?” – also focused on PR and social media. Her takeaways were invaluable for both agencies and clients – and she kindly reminded us all that client results matter first – whether in traditional PR, social media marketing or both. We’re proud to be included among the firms recognized for having both – and as one of only sixTop Considered”consistently named as a viable consideration for clients considering an agency switch. (To which we say, give us a call!)

Our client Lotame continued the social media and PR conversation on their Social Media Remix radio show yesterday – hosting yours truly and PerkettPR’s EVP Heather Mosley. You can listen here to the recording.

And one of my favorite social media campaigns of the week combined two of my personal passions: technology and fashion. It was Fashion Week in New York and I had the privilege of being involved this year as a Board Advisor to Style Coalition, a new organization focused on advancing professional standards in content creation and increasing the effectiveness of advertising messages within this realm. We held a Digital Moda event on Tuesday night to bring together designers, bloggers and new media marketers – an innovative alternative to the traditional runway shows typically seen at NYFW. So I was thrilled to see a well-recognized fashion brand, BabyPhat, also embracing new media that evening. They Twittered from their runway show, including timely posts of photos, commentary and video – giving consumer fans all over the Internet a feel for being right there in the middle of the action.

Charissa Cowart of FOX News is One Very Busy Journalist

And you thought journalists were just journalists. Charissa Cowart, media personality and trendspotter from WALA-TV “FOX10” News in Alabama, proves once again that journalists are people too. From reporting to fashion design, blogging to gaming, she is one busy – and interesting – person. And she has some good advice about wings vs. legs…

PPR:  What is your main beat at FOX News in Alabama?
CC: I report on anything Internet-related, from sex offenders on social networking sites, to the coolest tech gadgets, fun websites or Steve Jobs’ fake obituaries. I have a segment called the Daily Dot Com and literally, everyday is something different for me to report on. In addition, I am the web producer so I do everything to keep our website up and running with fresh content when I’m not on the air.

PPR:  You started the Web site – what is this and how did you get started?
CC:  Fashion Trend Spotting is a new idea I built in my brain and finally released in the form of a blog. Basically it is the idea that I can spot trends in everyday people. I want to make everyday people part of the “fashion industry” instead of the few “big names” who tell us what is “in” this season. I know that there are very fashionable people out in the world who have a keen eye for fashion in their own way but have never had the chance to show that. So, in the future I will be traveling across the globe to spot these people and use their fashion as inspiration to design my own clothing line. On each article of clothing you will see a tag with information about me and Fashion Trend Spotting along with information about the person who the inspiration came from. In short, the fashion industry is YOU and ME.

PPR:  You also write for – why did you decide to do this among your already busy schedule?
CC:  Well, first of all I LOVE to stay busy. I am at my happiest when I am immersed in “stuff.” Rather than written text like a blog, Lucky Startups is a company that interviews any and all startups across the globe. I am a correspondent and I interview CEO’s of startup companies Live online using Skype. It gives them a Free avenue to get their company or website out to the world.

PPR:  What do you most like about Twitter?
CC:  Connections, Connections, Connections!! I love meeting new people, but with my busy schedule there isn’t much time for relaxed socializing. With Twitter I can meet and connect, network with so many very intelligent and creative people while writing my blog, or preparing for a Lucky Startups interview or feeding my dog (I use the iPhone there). It’s just a great way to connect and network with so many brilliant, fun, and humorous people on the web.

PPR:  What is your one fashion “must have”?
CC:  Just one?!? Ok, ok, if I have to pick just one I would say high heels. I think so often it’s the shoes that make the outfit!

PPR:  Beyond fashion which we know you love, what are some of your personal hobbies?
CC:  I love playing Nintendo Wii – yes I’m a gamer, I might not look or sound like one, but I am. I also love to play board games with my friends, dance (Salsa and Swing), sing at the top of my lungs in the car, twirl – yes I said twirl. Wow, I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but when I’m at home in my socks I like to pick up my dog (Sam) and twirl on the kitchen tile. It makes me feel like a little girl again – even if it’s just for a few seconds. I think every female should do something, anything that allows her to feel like a little girl again, try it, you’ll love it! I also love, love, love to eat pizza and watch Gilmore Girls re-runs. I recently got engaged (about a week ago) so now my newest hobby is planning the wedding of my dreams. Oh and I love to play on Twitter, edit videos, take pictures…

PPR:  If you were not a journalist, what would you be?
CC:  A professional Figure Skater. I trained in figure skating for almost 10 years throughout middle school and high school. I loved every minute of it and was planning to go to the Olympics, but when I got to college and became involved in the school’s news program, that took up all of my time and my plans soon changed, which isn’t a bad thing. If not a figure skater, then I would be a Wedding Planner or a Chef – the only problem is I don’t know how to cook!

PPR:  Where do you want to take your next vacation?
CC:  Fiji, no wait – Italy, or how about snow skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming! I would go ANYWHERE right now for a vacation as long as I could relax away from stress. Honestly, right now Tweeting feels like a vacation – that’s how crazy life gets sometimes in the news business.

PPR:  Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
CC:  I did! ….. Oh you want to know what they were? My first is to chase my dreams as if I have wings and not legs. The other is not to forget about my resolution.

PPR:  What change are you hoping to see in 2009?
CC:  I guess I can speak for everyone by saying I pray our economic instability becomes stable in the U.S.

Social Media + New York City + Fashion Week = Inside the Tents

We’ve been having a great time with our client Gift Girl – and we haven’t even launched yet! In addition to some fun pre-launch video interviews, Gift Girl has now teamed with My It Things to create Inside The Tents – an aggregated inside look from fashionista bloggers and reporters covering Mercedes Benz Fashion week in New York City, which kicks off tomorrow.

Combining social media technologies and fashion, Inside The Tents “was born to provide a fresh look into the very exclusive Bryant Park Tents during Mercedes Benz Fashion week. As more and more independent new media journalists are getting access into behind the scenes of the most fabulous fashion event of the season, they share with the world news and observations usually left to selected group of magazine editors.”

This unique effort aggregates feeds from various social media communities and applications such as Twitter, Flickr, live blogging and video streaming, “sometimes getting ahead of the traditional media to bring the latest trends to the fashion aficionados around the web.”

If you can’t be there live for this to-die-for fashion event, be sure to follow Inside the Tents for everything fashion coming out of Bryant Park in this coming week. Tecchies may find it of interest as well – it should be fun to see social media in action outside of the traditional business world.