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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Social Media Series: Lori Magno On Bridging New & Old

This week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is Lori Magno.

Lori Magno exudes creativity. If you don't believe me, then check out her Moda Di Magno Blog for Stylish Living, where she shares Red Sox passion, intense food enthusiasm, delicious jewelry and fashion visions [many of which she created], and also impassioned appreciation for the customer experience.

I owe Lori big-time. Out of the goodness of her heart, she created for me a Twitter sidebar. Check it out at @cbwhittemore... Not only is it beautiful, but it is also infinitely practical. Which is a quality that I truly enjoy about Lori: her intense creativity truly bridges new and the old, creating value and relevance for everyone around her, solving problems and generating solutions.

Lori's chapter in The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It? - the book that 237 authors from around the world collaborated on to benefit Variety, the children's charity [please consider buying the book] is titled "Are You Next?" It captures Lori's blend of practical creativity. In it, she asks "Are you the next new media producer?" Because social media enables the sharing of creativity and passion, expertise, and knowledge in a new virtual marketplace.

C.B.: Lori, how/why did you get involved in social media?

Lori: I can point to www.dooce.com as the first blog that I read faithfully every day. Heather Armstrong's writing style just grabbed me from the first "How to Annoy Me" post in 2001. I have always been a writer and I was looking for a new outlet so I started a WebLog in 2003, that faded due to wonky technology (and a password hack that resulted in some nasty things posted on my site. Hard lesson learned) I launched Moda di Magno, Blog for Stylish Living in August of 2006 as an outlet for my teen angst (laugh please) and to help market my side gig jewelry line Moda di Magno, Accessories for Stylish Living. Along the way I found some amazing and talented marketing writers, learned a lot, co-authored a book (The Age of Conversation) and learned that social media is more than just technology - it can be about meaningful relationships and real friendships aided by technology.

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

Lori: I have been fortunate to meet some amazing, talented, funny, wonderful people - many of whom are now genuine friends. Social Media is a way to stay connected without the phone or distance coming between you. I have learned so much from my extended marketing family. I love to know how my new jewelry customers find my Etsy shop - modadimagno.etsy.com (thank you Google and carefully keywording!) Finally, sometimes the link to that "really funny video" is actually funny.

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

Lori:
1. Spam in my comments (now moderated)

2. Lunatics

3. Spam in my email

C.B.: How has social media changed how you interact with the marketplace as a consumer or customer?

Lori: I learn as much as I can before I purchase things, go to a restaurant, or attend a meeting at a new company. Google is everything to me. I use Google faithfully, but I also search using a variety of tools. It does make my heart thrill to hear from customers that they found my shop because of Google - and I always ask how customers find my shop. Customer insight helps me keyword my jewelry and provide relevant results when people are shopping for that 'perfect' item.

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

Lori: My suggestions aren't new - but road tested by me:

1. Get out there. Wade into the pool - your feet won't fall off. Find out where your customers or audience are and join them. Are they on Facebook, Twitter - do they read informative, well-written blogs? Are they entertainment junkies? Find them - and find a way to speak to them GENUINELY. The tone you take online should not be any different than you take in meetings. Don't speak like a clown in your client meetings? Then don't speak like one online. Don't speak like weary butterfly historian in your meetings? REALLY don't do that online.

2. Dedicate a resource to knowing what "the Internet" is saying about your company/product/persona. What Google says about you on the first search page is "who you are" in the marketplace. If your results are a problem - do not delay, solve for it. Engage smart people to help you understand how you came to be regarded as a great company, a bad company, the next big thing (or whatever the Internets says about you!) Data geeks rejoice, there are amazing tools to help you know who is visiting your site, who isn't and what they're saying about you.

3. The NEXT BIG THING isn't necessarily where your company needs to invest time or money. I can't repeat, "be true to yourself" enough. Where is your audience? Where are your customers? Wherever your true market is - that's where you need to be.

4. Ask questions. If you have a newsletter, or an email contact strategy - ask your readers or customers questions. Throw up a poll and ask them how you can do better. How did you find my blog/company/service? How can you provide them with more relevant content, information and offers? Ask them what they would like to hear from you - tips 'n tricks? Special offers? "Insider information"? If they are asking for anything, you have an opportunity to connect and deepen the relationship.

5. Listen, listen, listen. If you are listening, you'll be ahead of the curve. You may even be part of "the next big thing" before it becomes big.

C.B.: Any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers and how best to do so.

Lori: I am fortunate to use and experience social media for a variety of reasons. In my work at Digitas, a blog for personal enjoyment and for my "side happiness" - jewelry design. For Digitas, we advise clients in all categories about how to reach their customers, not just for a sale, but also for a deep engagement; a relationship that will last beyond one sale and help inform the direction of the company.

For my personal blog - it's a constant evolution. I'll beta test things on my blog that wouldn't be recommended for clients, but might inform corporate actions later. The blog becomes the poor relation when time is tight, but my goal is to write or post often. For the sake of the famed "work-life" balance, sometimes the blog goes to the back of the bus, but I'm always happier when I'm writing or posting photographs or talking about things that I love, or despise, or annoy me, or give me a rash, or make me laugh or inspire me. I guess that's a lot for one blog to do.

For my jewelry designs, I host my shop on Etsy which is billed as "The marketplace for all things handmade" and operates as a community on several levels. Shopkeepers have the ability to put together collections of favorite items and share them in a forum called Treasuries. Treasuries allow shopkeepers and shoppers to view these favorites and comment. Shopkeepers and shoppers alike may "favorite" shops and items giving shopkeepers insight into people who have visited and track patterns. Feedback is a big tool, as well as an on-site "conversation" tool which fosters client relationships and can result in custom orders. Etsy helps foster collaboration between artists with forums, both virtual and real, that teach teamwork that can make everyone more successful. Even Etsy is still growing in the social media world - they recently added the Google Analytics function that really helps data geeks like me know where shoppers are coming from and how I can best meet them where they are, with what they want. The social media world around Etsy is ever expanding with sites like CraftCult and Craftopolis that showcase cool things for buyers and provide cool data for sellers - win, win!

Social media been has indeed been very good to me.

Thank you, Lori!

Comments? Reactions? Do you feel as strongly about Google as Lori does? [I confess, I do!] How many of you use polls? Do you find them as valuable as Lori does? I love what Lori says about advising clients to "reach their customers... for deep engagement; a relationship that will last beyond one sale and help inform the direction of the company." Yes.

What about additional insights on Esty? Or similar sites where community matters?

For additional insights from participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old Social Media Series.

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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