So I bought the domain months ago — and finally “got off my butt” to put it to use! I was fed up with the .com version of WordPress and the lack of plugins I could utilize and realized the awesomeness of the .org and all it beholds. I’m sure you all are nodding your heads, “yes, dear – about time.” Well a special thanks goes to a great friend of mine, Shawn McCarthy, because with his web-building skills I was able to get this site launched in no time.

Hope everyone subscribes via email or RSS. Would love to get feedback on what you think and keep up with my thoughts on what’s fresh and new in branding, social media and charitable causes.

Love to all my readers,

Pam:)

p.s.

I will no longer be blogging to this site – please move on my new permanent home: http://pamsahota.com/

Unfortunately, there are some individuals who think setting up a Facebook and/or Twitter account is all you have to do to implement a social media plan. This is SO unfortunate!! I shake my head at those who set up their accounts and just blast out messages as if it’s a robot tweeting and posting messages. Using social media isn’t just about blasting out content. What consumer wants to engage with a robot? I want to know there’s a real person there…someone who will respond to questions, comment on posts, pose interesting questions and share relevant content.

Social media is not much different from our regular lives. We interact with others by sharing information, posing questions, and sharing our opinions. I wouldn’t want to speak to a robot in my regular day life, so why would I when interacting with a “person” online? In our regular lives, people appreciate engaging with people and building real relationships. In social media, people value building relationships as well. This cannot be done with “robots”.

Organizations and individuals need to put in the effort to put their social media plan into action. Some of the common tips include:

1. Listen to what’s going on out there (Ex. Use a Google Reader)

2. Curate and Create Content that is relevant

3. Pose questions and reply to others (as in a real conversation)

4. Be polite – aka say Thank you!

5. Be Patient – It takes time to engage and build relationships (as in real life).

As a fellow social media nerd, Tamsen McMahon once said — “social media is a science.” Just like the scientific method you need to:

1. Define the question: Ex. How can we “best use social media” for our business?

2. Observe: Listen and Watch

3. Investigate: Define the scope, check resources, etc

4. Hypothesize: Strategy you’re hoping to implement and possible results

5. Experiment: Design and Execute

6. Analyze: What happened?

7. Retest: Continual process to see what works best for you

Thus, like all relationships and successful plans in our lives, effort is key. To make a social media plan work and to build true relationships — try this thing called, “effort.” You might be surprised with what develops.

Today I was lucky enough to be an audience member at the live taping of HubSpot TV. Not only was it cool because Mike Volpe and Karen Rubin host, but today they hosted as the infamous Lucy and Ricky. But they weren’t the only ones in the holiday spirit, most of the staff was decked out in Halloween attire – from Jersey Shore to Scooby Doo to Pokey from Gumby. It was a sight to behold. Lets just say, I almost cried from laughing so hard. Awesome!

As I watched Mike and Karen, I realized how laid back and enjoyable HubSpot‘s atmosphere is. The team is very welcoming and friendly. And HubSpot TV is not only informative on current topics related to social media and inbound marketing, but it’s entertaining. I definitely intend to keep up with future episodes, as I’m officially impressed on how both Mike and Karen can capture the audience and keep their attention with such relevant topics and hilarious banter.

Cheers HubSpot, you Rock!

p.s. Want to see Photos from today….Flickr it up!

The past couple years, I’ve seen more and more individuals admit and embrace their “geekiness” – present company, included. More and more individuals are on Twitter and learning the importance of Inbound Marketing and utilizing SEO. Now, with Halloween around the corner, will those “geeks” show off that side of themselves, or “opt out”? I would love to see some creative Twitter costumes with some bold hashtag and RT remarks. Could someone be an actual RT? In the past I’ve seen someone be a Facebook Profile Page…Lame. We can do better! Creative ideas? Thoughts?

I, myself am going to be an M&M because my 16 yr old sister made the costume for me. Free Costume? Hell yea! Maybe next year I will embrace my geekdom during halloween, but as for this year, I am embracing my sweet tooth.

Would love to hear what other people consider “creative and geeky” costumes. @mention me at @pamsahota and Share!

(p.s. here’s a few from the past)

Adam Rosenberg stated, “If you are a social media enthusiast, then by now you already know that if 2009 was the year of the “tweet,” then 2010 is almost certainly the year of the “check-in.” Geolocation apps such as Foursquare, have caused many to wonder if they really want people to know where they are, aside from just what they are doing.

During our first Business of Social Media class, there were many topics discussed, one of them being “privacy.” When speaking of social media, specifically geolocation — privacy tends to be an issue where some people are careful about which side of the line they stand on. Although I am a “social media geek” and use many of the platforms available, when it comes to geolocation, I am a bit conservative. I am weary when it comes to people knowing where I am because of the usual concerns of stalkers and theft. If you think I am being a tad over-concerned, then you may not have heard about www.pleaserobme.com, which revealed the location of empty homes via the use of Foursquare and Twitter. Disturbing? I thought so!

However, as a marketer, I do see the benefits of geolocation apps for brands. Starbucks, and other companies have used geolocation apps to gain further brand loyalty by their consumers who compete to become “mayor” of a specific Starbucks location, and can then receive cool discounts and/or free items. Great marketing strategy, indeed!

In addition, privacy on apps like Foursquare are up to the user, not the app. The Foursquare user decides whether they want just their friends on Foursquare to know their location, or whether they would like to push it out to Twitter and Facebook as well. Therefore, it is not the use of the geolocation app that is breaching privacy of location. You, the user, are deciding who knows about your location when you push your location to a larger pool of people on Twitter and Facebook.

In the end, I think the idea of geolocation is pretty cool, and I would like to invest some time into playing around with it some more. However, being an “Apple geek” as well, I am going to wait until I get an iPhone (I have a blackberry) to delve into the perks and coupons and freebies associated with “checking in” and being a “mayor.”

Until then, I’m checking out…

As I was taking a break from my work and perusing Twitter, I came across a tweet from Scott Bauman: “Starbucks to offer wine and cheese?? http://bit.ly/aKHiD6 Is this the precursor to jumping the shark?”

At first I thought “wow, that’d be a great idea”…as I imagined myself having a glass of cabernet sauvignon while working on a paper or composing a blog post or reading a case. Then Scott, pointed out, “If you really want what Starbucks is “creating,” why not patronize local restaurants, not mega chains?” That got me thinking a bit more.

Is this extension of Starbucks going to harm the brand? Will the loyal coffee consumers and patrons of the comfy couches be dismayed? I like the idea of having the choice of coffee or a glass of wine while doing some work or reading a good book. However, it might be more suitable for a mom n’ pop cafe to offer such in a small neighborhood than the large chain.

As a fellow Starbucks consumer, I am torn about which way they should go with this idea and am definitely interested to see how the Seattle idea turns out.

What do you think this would do for the Starbucks brand? Will this keep you more loyal or turn you towards a different coffee shop?

Unfortunately due to my silly MBA classes, I was unable to attend any of the FutureM events earlier in the week, but I was able to hit up a couple events Thursday night. Holland-Mark‘s Digital Man Mike Troiano spoke about “Scalable Intimacy,” siting their client example Notch Session (which I must admit is some exceptional beer — especially if you want a few without that headache the next morning). The set up of this event was particularly interesting, since it was a contest where the winners received on the spot social media advice from Mike himself. (Full disclosure: I did work for Holland-Mark and loved every minute of it.)

And who were the winners?

3rd Place: Creative Crafts for Creative Kids

2nd Place: Formaggio Kitchen

And the 1st place winner is….United Way of Mass Bay!

All 3 received specific advice on areas they were having trouble in – whether it be content strategy, which social media tool to focus on (depends on where your target market it), etc. Lets just say, the crowd was not yawning, and they were not leaving early. Mike knew how to keep the crowd laughing and entertained while teaching the crowd on how best to utilize social media to your advantage. And if you are now sorry you missed this, you can see check out the full deck from the event.

And as I tweeted from the event last night: “Remember the social, not just the marketing” – Mike Troiano.

After saying “great job” and “c ya later”, I quickly ran off to Mantra where Cyberbrew had been kicked off. There was an eclectic crowd of veteran “cyberbrewers” and newbies (such as myself). Unfortunately I missed the open bar, but I did meet some interesting folks and ran into a few good friends (Jason Rush from Boston Interactive and Joselin Mane from BostonTweetUp). Familiar faces always make an event that much better. While I laughed at the men who “networked” from one female to the other, I drank my glass of wine and chatted away…until next time FutureM, you sure did rock!

Were you a part of this year’s breast cancer awareness viral phenomenon on Facebook? Last year it was what color bra you were wearing, this year it was where do you put your purse when you come home. A little bit of scandal with a bit of fun and lots of awareness for a great cause. How can you not partake?

“I like it on the dining room table”….what about you?

Customer service is key to a brand having loyalty by a consumer — at least for me, that’s the case. For example, recently an item I purchased via Amazon was not delivered. My online status said “delivered” but said package was not on my doorstep. I immediately thought “crap! Someone took it!” — “now what?” Well I phoned Amazon and asked if they knew what happened, and they realized it was accidentally delivered to the wrong address. I was dismayed because I was really hoping to have the item that day. What did Amazon do? They promised to have the item delivered by end of business the next day. I was relieved and the matter was squared away within less than 5 minutes. Unbelievable — I got a person on the phone, she was polite, she answered my questions, and fixed the problem! Is it sad, that I was surprised this actually happened? Sad, indeed. An even bigger surprise was that my package came within 12 hours – I had it the next morning! All I can say is, Amazon – you rock! I am a loyal consumer, and will not falter (unless you fail me – but please don’t!)

Customer Service – the bedrock of customer brand loyalty.

As I sat in my MBA Global Branding class last night, I couldn’t help but laugh. As the professor went on and on about how brands need that “one word” which consumers will recall at the drop of a hat — I thought back to my time at Holland-Mark (HM). HM coined the term “One Simple Thing” (OST), which is that one attribute that most well defines the brand. For example, as my professor asked in class “what do you think of when you hear Coca Cola?” Everyone should be thinking of the same word (unfortunately for some brands this does not always occur). Supposedly the “OST” for Coca Cola is “happiness” — did you think of that? Coke would hope so! And so would their marketers!

As I sat there in my seat, I started to realize that the concepts the professor was teaching were processes and terms that I had become well acquainted with during my time at HM. And with the hands-on learning and experience, I learned way more than reading cases and discussing them in a classroom. Now, I am not knocking my MBA education — it is definitely valuable and am happy to be a candidate for 2011 spring graduation — but learning these concepts in a work setting where you are automatically putting them to use is not only rewarding but helps one (or at least me) recall and understand things way more.

It was pretty awesome to be sitting in class and feeling that I had a firm grasp and knowledge of the topic (at least so far — it’s only been a few weeks into the semester). And I owe this knowledge and understanding to the exceptionally bright and talented folks at HM — especially Mike Troiano who if you haven’t heard speak — you should!

Now I ask you — where did your best knowledge and understanding come from?

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