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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Social Media Series: Peg Mulligan on Bridging New & Old

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

Peg Mulligan has an impressive background as content developer. Combine that with experience teaching - writing, literature, and history - and a love of learning and sharing content with others. To me, that's what explains how Peg 'gets' this space so intuitively despite only having launched Peg Mulligan's Blog in March 2009.

I first 'met' Peg via Twitter - @PegMulligan - where she is impressively active. I loved her summary of the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World Virtual Conference. Did you catch it?

I also greatly admire her enthusiasm for this amazingly social and interactive world. Her perspective on bridging new & old is a refreshing eye opener for all of us.

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

Peg: About a year and a half ago, I joined LinkedIn, which helped me to start building a network of past and present colleagues, as well as position myself as an Independent Technical and Content Marketing Writer.

Since that time, I have joined various social networking sites and used the most popular tools, including, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Google Reader, social bookmarking sites, and most recently, my WordPress blog.

Through these sites and tools, social media is helping me to meet these goals:
• promote my personal brand
• connect more meaningfully with existing friends and professional contacts
• meet and build relationships with new contacts
• gain real-time information about my interests (mainly professional, but also personal )
• showcase (especially through my blog) what I am learning and doing, in an interactive format, which lets me engage and learn from others
• explore how social media can help me better understand my audience’s requirements for technical documentation and collaborate more with my audience online, through wikis, user forums, and blogs
• expand my skill-set and professionally develop through the multiple free webinars, ebooks, white papers, and blogs, available through social media, especially on content marketing

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

Peg: The common thread between these different goals and the various tools is the powerful way social media helps me to build and maintain relationships as well as get information. As Chris Brogan noted in a recent HubSpot webinar (How to Demonstrate the Value of Social Media to Your Boss) “social media is the new telephone,” and my uses for social media are as numerous as the ways you can imagine using a phone, in addition to many innovative uses that go above and beyond the analogy to this familiar device.

The following list describes how my social media usage has evolved since winter 2008 and what I like most about the various social media tools I am using.

• LinkedIn:
LinkedIn helps me to maintain and build my professional network as well as stay aware of the most current trends through the groups and book recommendations features. The endorsements feature helps me showcase my accomplishments and promote those of others, increasing job-seeking momentum and adding value to the entire network. LinkedIn also lets me promote my blog and subscribe to others’ blogs from within the LinkedIn interface.

• Facebook:
Facebook lets me connect mainly with my friends, closer colleagues, or other contacts who share professional or personal interests. I have experienced a deepening in many of my personal relationships, through the subtle way Facebook’s status updates and picture-sharing features have helped me to seamlessly and more regularly connect with many people, from many different parts of my life, all at once.

• Twitter:
Twitter has increasingly become my source of information, for professional, consumer-related, and current events. Twitter also helps me to build relationships in real-time as well as spread the word and discuss the various posts on my blog.

• FriendFeed and other RSS Feeds:
Though I do not use Friendfeed a lot, it is the most convenient way to aggregate my growing social media accounts. I also subscribe to various blogs with Google Reader, as a way to read and explore ideas in a deeper way than Twitter’s 140 character limits allow.

• Social Bookmarking Sites:
Stumbled Upon, Digg, and especially Delicious help me to save and share links of particular interest. In many cases, I am finding these links on Twitter and sharing them on my social bookmarking sites, not vice versa, which reinforces predictions that Twitter is becoming the ultimate search engine.

• Blogging:
Blogging provides a way to interact more deeply with those I’m meeting and engaging with on Twitter. As a consultant, my blog serves as a living resume, online job interview, and public portfolio piece. It also increases my organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking on Google and makes it more likely that potential clients will find me.

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

Peg: The perception among some mainstream critics that social media (especially Twitter) is a waste of time gets to me a bit, especially as this attitude comes from those who possibly haven’t used the tools or haven’t used them long enough to reap the benefits.

For this reason, I really appreciate the April survey results, where in a guest post (“Inside the Minds of Twitter Users”) on Mashable, MarketingProfs’ Ann Handley sets the record straight about the motivations of many Twitter users:
…above all, people on Twitter are truly motivated by learning new things and getting information real-time, as it’s developing.

Social media buzz words also becomes a bit tiresome, without statistics, case-studies, real-world examples, or lessons learned to back up the rhetoric, especially for our executive decision-making audiences.

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

Peg: Since January, I have registered for a professional membership and two conferences that I heard about entirely through Twitter. I have also bought a number of professional books and a WordPress theme, based on Twitter recommendations and through the affiliate of someone I’m following.

As a consumer, my appetite to buy a Kindle 2, Flip Video Camcorder, and iPhone has been whetted by my time on Twitter (where lots of people are tweeting about these products), as well as by product reviews on the various blogs I’ve been reading.

I recently had a question about my new professional membership and instead of contacting Customer Service via the phone or e-mail, it was more natural for me to turn to my trusted contact, a representative of that company on Twitter, as the most logical place to ask my question.

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. Be prepared to make the case for social media to upper management. Arm yourself with as many case studies, statistics, examples, and success stories as possible. Also see if your competition is using social media and make that a selling point to your bosses.

2. Set up Goggle Alerts to start listening to what the market-place is saying about you. Read Chris Brogan’s “Grow Bigger Ears” post for other ways to effectively listen. The results may further arm you as you convince decision-makers that people are already talking about you, and it is better to be part of the conversation.

3. Determine your social media strategy and examine social media tools in context of your communication requirements, not according to what’s trendy. Consider Li and Bernoff’s Social Technographics® profile to map your intended audience’s participation in various social media activities, with your overall strategy. Apply the “Possibility and Function” formula (see Chris Brogan’s “What the Tools Can Do Post”) to choose your tools. Remember to go where your users are.

4. Start a blog, which is one of the best ways to improve organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results and then choose a few outposts like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to start discussing posts with your readers. Provide content that helps your readers.

5. Measure your social media efforts in a meaningful way. Chris Brogan’s suggestions from the HubSpot webinar (How to Demonstrate the Value of Social Media to Your Boss), provides these suggestions: “actionable clicks over page views, sales calls over views, prospects and conversions over comments, blog sentiment ranking, keyword rankings, and email marketing open rates.”

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

Peg: Social media is about building a relationship with your customers through the content you share. The aim of your content is to entertain, inform, and educate, in such a way that your customers want to keep coming back for more information, and will make eventual purchases, based on the quality and helpfulness of the previous content you have shared with them.

Social media is also about the genuine interest you take in helping your customers to solve their own problems. Remember, as David Meerman Scott, author of World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories, aptly notes “No one cares about your product and services (except you).”

If you can consistently help your customers with their problems, and provide answers to their questions, your customers will begin to look to you as a trusted authority. That trust and positive customer experience will matter when your customers have a need for your product or when a friend asks for a product recommendation.

With so many similar products on the market, trust and customer experience matter more than ever in business. With social media, you can start to harness these key product differentiators.

Thank you, Peg!

Comments? Questions? Observations?

What about Peg's Twitter experiences and motivations? What about her comments relating to content? I love her comment that "social media is about building a relationship with your customers through the content you share."

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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Yvonne said...

Excellent content about how social media bridges the new and the old. It's another great way to meet fascinating and talented people, and to connect to people who help raise the bar. Thanks for sharing this great content, Christine. Meg, you are worth a daily read. Keep writing.

CB Whittemore said...

Yvonne, thanks for adding to this subject, and also for agreeing to participate.

Yes, Peg is definitely worth a daily read.

I do love how social media brings great minds together.


Peg Mulligan said...

C.B. and Yvonne,

Thanks to both of you for the kind words. C.B., I enjoyed participating in this series, and I look forward to reviewing all the other interviews before mine. You have really created a dynamic community and information exchange here, and I'll be sure to check in often. Thanks again for your creative series and coordination of so many enthusiastic social media participants, with innovative ideas.

Ann Handley said...

This is a great interview with one of my favorite people. Thanks, CB!

CB Whittemore said...

Peg, you are welcome! What's best, is that there's lots more wisdom coming via the series. I'm so excited! See you soon.

CB Whittemore said...

Ann, Peg really is a gem! I'm so grateful. Thanks for visiting.

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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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