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Friday, February 12, 2010

Stephanie Weaver on Bridging New & Old: Social Media Series

Stephanie Weaver

My latest guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Marketing series: Bridging New & Old is Stephanie Weaver.

Although Stephanie Weaver is passionate about the customer experience, she focuses on a specific type of experience. That of the museum visitor experience, a subject she addresses in the Experienceology Blog [e.g., this post about museums using social media], in her Experienceology podcast series and via her Experienceology website.

You see her pictured here with a few tools of the trade: an assortment of toys she uses during live training sessions to make workshops more fun and remind participants that social media is fun!

Stephanie is among the first bloggers I connected with back in 2006 when she and Susan Abbott, the founders of the Bathroom Blogfest [which will celebrate its fifth year in 2010!], invited me to take part.

I'm delighted to share her perspective on Bridging New & Old!

You can also reach Stephanie via Twitter @Experienceology and on Facebook/Experienceology.

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

SW: I first got involved through blogging, then podcasting, then Facebook, then most recently Twitter, YouTube, and Linked In. Last year I began offering (paid) webinars as a way of affordably serving customers. The funny thing is, I don't think of myself as a techie at all. I've just learned as I went along.

Blogging seemed like a great way to reach potential B2B customers, as I could explain in detail my approach to visitor experiences, show photographs, and link to other resources. My goal was to provide as much value as I could to the nonprofit cultural attraction sector.

I got involved in Facebook because of the Bathroom Blogfest, as we were exploring whether it was a good tool for co-creating an online event. While it didn't prove to be effective for that originally, we did attract some new bloggers using FB.

I starting Tweeting this year, right before a conference I was attending, to see whether that provided an avenue for colleagues to get value from the conference through my tweets. I always have things linked, to get the maximum bang out of the effort. So when I'm at a conference I have my tweets automatically update my Facebook page, etc.

I have found that FB is best for connecting with people you know, while Twitter helps you connect with people you don't know. I've been on LinkedIn for a while, originally for the SEO potential. After they improved the functionality of LinkedIn in the summer of 2009, it has become a much more valuable tool. I have even gotten one actual consulting job out of it.

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

S.W.: It's a quick and fun way to stay connected to people; people whom I know in real life, as well as meeting people virtually who I might eventually meet in person. I learn about new things every day with very little effort. It allows nonprofits (especially) to reach new audiences and create conversations with them. It challenges me to use new technologies, as well as help my clients use them effectively. It also allows you to send what I call digital assets (podcasts, vodcasts, blog posts) far and wide with just a little extra effort.

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

S.W.: It can feel very difficult to keep up. I find I've needed to scale back the blogging, and take breaks from it so that I don't get burned out. It's also frustrating when they change the interface like they did on Facebook today, as then it feels like you have to learn it all over again.

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

S.W.: I enjoy reading about places I haven't been (museums), and know that I will visit those places when I visit those cities. I don't follow consumer brands on social media; I use it only for my work. I do sometimes see restaurant recommendations or similar items from friends that make a bit of an impact. I do like being able to post a comment about a TV show on their Facebook page and have a reasonable belief that someone will actually read it.

Just last week a local museum was in danger of being closed by the city because of budget issues the city was having; a public outcry was vastly easier and organized through FB and Twitter, and so far, it looks like it's been spared. I've also been interested to see how the White House has used social media all along to help people stay connected. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I give them a lot of credit for trying to be as transparent as possible.

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?


1. Begin with a strategy (read Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies if you haven't already).

2. Don't join a platform if you can't maintain your presence there long-term.

3. Amplify your efforts; use social media to get your digital assets out there so that they reach as many eyes as possible.

4. You don't own your brand; your customers do. So don't be afraid to let go of control and get them involved in telling your story. It's already happening anyway!

5. For cultural attractions, check out the Brooklyn Museum for cutting-edge use of social media. They are constantly trying new things, sometimes failing, and always moving on. They're also a beacon of transparency as well.

Thank you, Stephanie!

Comments, questions, observations?

I love how Stephanie is using the tools of social media to educate museums about the visitor experience. How might you adopt a similar experience for your customers?

If you are immersed in social media, what differences have you observed in your interactions between Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn?

How else are you experimenting to improve the customer experience?

[Note: Stephanie's comments reminded me of Museum Innovation To Connect With Customers.]

For additional insights from other participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old, please visit the Entire Bridging New & Old series, which includes a link to the e-book based on the first 26 interviews in the series.

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