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Branding Online

Which Brand Won the “Social Bowl”? [Infographic]


Regardless of whether you were happy or sad (or indifferent) about the outcome of the Super Bowl this weekend, one thing is certain: like every year, several brands battled it out in the commercials.

Pre-game, SHIFT took a look at some of the biggest brands out there to see who would win the “Social Bowl” this year. Check out the game:

Do you agree with this assessment? Is Coca-Cola really the “winner” when it comes to social media? Let us know with a comment below!

(Thanks to SHIFT for providing this infographic.)

Ramon Ray’s Five Steps for Personal Branding


As many of you may have heard, NMX (BlogWorld) recently purchased a new conference: Ramon Ray’s Small Business Summit. We’re super excited to work with Ramon, who is an absolute firecracker.

Ramon was actually a speaker at NMX 2013, where he talked about personal branding and how this affects your company’s growth. Knowing Ramon on a personal level, not just seeing a faceless Small Business Summit logo, is part of what enticed NMX to want to work with him in the first place, so he was the perfect person to speak on this topic.

His session covered an incredible amount of information in just a short 30 minutes (and you can watch the entire session as a premium member of NMX University), but today, I wanted to cover his five steps for personal branding success. (And a big thank you to Jess Boyer for helping with this post by taking notes during the session!)

Step One: Establish Your Platform

People like to put other people and businesses into neat, little boxes. If you don’t define yourself, others will do it for you. So think about what your message will be, what your brand will be. What are your strengths? What do you want people to know about you? What makes you stand out?

Step Two: Show the Hell Up!

According to Ramon, you don’t have to tweet all day long. What you do have to do, however, is be visible online and in your community. Volunteer. Join your local chamber or business networks. Look for new opportunities for people to get to know you. You can’t phone in the personal connection factor.

Step Three: Be an Online Publisher

Ramon also stated something we know extremely well here at NMX: if you aren’t online, you don’t exist. You have to lead with your content online, rather than the sell. Get out there on social media and start a blog so you can tell your story. People will listen, and once they get to know, like, and trust you, they’ll also want to do business with you.

Step Four: Plan for Media Exposure

Once you establish yourself online and in your community, the media will start to contact you, and this has a snowball effect. Media leads to more media leads to more media – provided you are an interesting story to cover. So be ready. Be personable and have your story ready to tell in a quick easy-to-understand way.

Step Five: Organize an Event

This is by far the hardest step in Ramon’s plan, but it can also be the most rewarding. You don’t have to plan the next NMX or Small Business Summit. Even on a small level, events will help you network with others in your industry, attract media attention, and boost your credibility. However, it’s important to be aware that organizing an event can be stressful and expensive. If you work with people you trust, though, it can be an incredible personal branding tool.

Remember, you can watch Ramon’s complete session, along with dozens of others about business, online content creation, publishing, social media, and more at NMX University with premium membership (our 2013 virtual ticket). Check it out today!

Free Gift: Go-To-Market Planning Session with Stephanie Piche


A free gift from NMX Speaker Stephanie Piche: Go-To-Market Planning Sessions

Here at NMX, planning for our January event is in full swing…but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time for the holidays! That’s why, every day from now through December 25, we’re featuring a brand new giveaway for the entire NMX community!

Are you hoping to start using social media to expand your brand?
Do you need some help analyzing your presence online to define areas of improvement?Today’s free giveaway is for you! Stephanie Piche has over 20 years experience in new media, producing, publishing and technology marketing as well as a deep experience in social media for content creators and publishers.

She’s offering free consulting to help you plan your next move!

Like all of our 12 Days of Giveaways gifts, a planning session with Stephanie’s company, Key Practices, Inc. is completely free for members of our brand new community, NMX University. (Don’t worry – membership there is also free!)

Find out more about this gift and register for NMXU here, of if you are already a member, simply log in to NMXU here to access Stephanie’s consultation today!

Telling Instead of Selling: How Smart Brands are Using Social for the Holiday Season


With all of the banner ads out there promoting holiday shopping, how do businesses stand out online? How do they get their products under the tree? Smart businesses are finding new ways to reach consumers without distracting them from content they enjoy. They’re becoming a seamless part of the online conversation and, as a result, stay top of mind for consumers as they shop for their holiday gifts. Smart brands tell stories that create a connection to their brand.

So how are companies connecting with their consumers using storytelling in social media?

Here are a few examples of companies that are getting their story out there this holiday season.


jcpenney gets it right with creating stories about their products that are relatable and interesting to readers. They even do it in Spanish. One example is their social campaign to showcase a new clothing line from Liz Claiborne. They worked with bloggers like hablasfashion to create three different outfits from their fall clothing line. The readers then voted on their favorite outfit and commented on the line. This is a perfect example of social done well. By working with an influential blogger, jcpenny was able to create a personal story around their products that was authentic and engaging to readers.

Udi’s Gluten Free

Udi’s makes products that are gluten free for people with celiac disease or who just want to live a gluten free lifestyle. Their community page is a perfect example of how they are staying top of mind for consumers. This season, Udi’s is telling stories that relate to the holidays. They highlight stories about gluten-free living and how to survive the holidays.  The content creates an emotional connection with the brand because they talk about a personal experience, living gluten-free. It makes shoppers feel like Udi’s cares about them and their lifestyle.

Operation Christmas Child

This charity organization packs boxes full of toys and personal items for children in need that are delivered around the holiday season. They worked with bloggers like 2wired2tired to create narratives about packing boxes for their programs. The stories were first hand accounts of bloggers teaching their own children about social good and the needs of others around the world by packaging boxes for social good. The stories are personal and heartfelt blog posts that drive readers back to the Operation Christmas Child website where they can also begin the process of packing a box for charity.

Storytelling works because it is the natural way that people communicate. When you hear a heartfelt story about a personal experience shopping for the holidays, read about a recipe that someone created, or learn how someone taught their child to care for others, you feel an emotional connection with the writer. Brands that join the conversation and tell stories that mean something to the reader become more relatable. When consumers connect with a brand, they buy their products. Nothing connects consumers to a brand like a good story.

Editor’s Note:  Want to hear more from Jennifer Beaupre? Be sure to come hear her speak at BusinessNext Social, collocated with NMX, this coming January! She’ll be interviewed along with Sam Fiorella of Sesei Marketing in a session titled, “A Look Into The Future Of Influence Marketing.” Register today!

How To Inspire Customers And Build Brand Advocacy


There is no simple formula for inspiration. There isn’t a single process or “8 simple steps” that will help you change customer behavior. Everyone is different. We are all inspired by different things and at different stages of our lives. As a boy, I was so inspired when Daniel-san “laid the smack down” on Johnny Lawrence of the Cobra Kai in the Karate Kid that I begged my mom to sign me up for Karate lessons. Today, those things don’t really inspire me much anymore, well maybe a little … oh, and Karate lessons only lasted a few months.

But one question that we must ask ourselves is whether a brand can actually inspire their customers?

I believe it can. But it requires a fundamental shift in how we as marketers behave, act, communicate, plan and go-to-market. We must stop referring to customers as target audience, segments or page views; and consider that they are real people, with real emotions. We must learn to give without any expectation at all of receiving anything in return. I call this reciprocal altruism and sometime it’s as easy as just saying, “thank you”, maybe an @mention to a customer or maintaining a positive attitude when we are getting grilled online.

Certainly ROI and business value are important here and I am not saying that we must be scared of the “hard sell.” The great thing about content marketing is that you can move customers up, down and through the purchase funnel by simply providing content that matters – the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right customer; and not forgetting about how paid, earned and owned media work together across the social eco-system.

It reminds me of a book that was written well over a decade ago and it was definitely pioneer thinking at that time. Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing” was written on the premise of reciprocal altruism. He argued that marketers must build trust and credibility with their customers and then “ask them for permission” to market their services. Same concept today and even true for IRL relationships. It’s simply applying what we already know to be true as humans.

And the truth is, there are some companies that inspire for one reason and one reason only. They have bad-ass products. I don’t care at all if they say “thank you” on Twitter or crowdsource community feedback because they are looking to create a new product. As long as they continue to innovate and stay bad-ass, I will continue to be inspired, buy their products and tell all my friends about it.

The challenge for most companies is trying to operationalize this behavior and build repeat processes that allow for scale. This is why I am really excited to be teaming up with Matt Ridings of Sidera Works for our session at the upcoming BusinessNext conference in Las Vegas. Our session, “The New Influencers: Brand Advocacy Inside & Out,” will give key insights and actionable take-aways in order to build brand advocate programs externally with your customers and internally with your employees. We hope to see you there!

To read more about brand advocacy, you can look over my social business blog or follow me on Twitter.

The Photography Wars Heat Up


My entire life I’ve enjoyed taking photos. Follow me on Instagram and you’ll see that I’m constantly capturing moments from my life and sharing them with the world. This allows people to connect with me in a way that my blog, podcast or other mediums have never allowed.

Most of us leave the house every day with a camera in our pocket (aka a phone) and yet businesses big and small seem to be ignoring or not fully realizing the power of photography when they plan out their marketing efforts.

Repeat after me: Photography MUST Be Part of Your Marketing Plans.

I’ve been saying it for years and yet not everyone was listening. We even dedicated a whole chapter to photography in Content Rules because Ann and I knew that no matter what business you were in, images are important.

This week we’ve seen the battle for photography heating up online as Instagram pulled their images from Twitter, Flickr unveiled a major update and Twitter added editing capabilities to their native app.

It is easier than ever to take a photo, post it online and get reactions to it. Take one minute to look at your social network of choice and you’ll see photos throughout.

Images are the most important content you can create to get attention online.

I’m not discounting other forms of content, but I am telling you that if you are not creating and sharing images as part of your marketing mix you are in trouble.

Humans enjoy looking at photos. They stand out and get attention from even the most click happy of web surfers.

During my session at NMX I’ll be discussing the importance of photography, but I’ll also be sharing tips on how anyone can find, take and share images that people will enjoy.

While I won’t have time to teach a full photography class, I do plan on sharing my personal workflow and plan on everyone leaving thinking and taking photos in a new light compared to when they walked in.

Debba Haupert talks about Building Online Communities


You’re a content creator. Yay you! So, now what? Just because you put it out, doesn’t mean people will come to check it out.

NMX speaker Debba Haupert knows the ins and outs of building communities. In this exclusive NMX interview below, Debba shares her advice on how to establish your personal brand, surveying your community, being true to your goals, and the mistakes that online community managers make. Want to hear more from Debba? Check out her session at NMX this January, called “25 Ways to be more Re-Pinnable – Engaging Content and the Power of Pinterest.”

Debba is just one of nearly 200 speakers at NMX this January. Come learn more about new media from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry by joining us in Las Vegas. Register today!

Gary Arndt: Chat Transcript


Think you’re just a little guy and incapable of competing with the big guys? Think again.

Gary Arndt is an award-winning blogger, whose travel blog was named one of the top 25 blogs by Time magazine in 2010. At New Media Expo in January, Gary will be leading a session called “How To Compete Against Billion Dollar Media Empires And Win” which you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, check out the transcript from when Gary joined us for our weekly Facebook chat.


Gary Arndt Hello from Barcelona, Spain!
New Media Expo Hi Gary! Thanks so much for joining us – especially since you’re traveling and I know time is tight. Tell us, what was the one thing you did that made your blog stand out from all the rest and receive such awesome recognition?
Gary Arndt In the travel space, there are many big brands: National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Travel Channel and every newspaper in the world.

Yet, no one can remember the name of anyone who writes for any of those outlets. People know the brands, but none of the people.

The single biggest thing I did was share my personality and my story. I did things at a personal level that big brands were incapable of doing.
Gary Arndt In addition to the content I was creating, I also had a meta-story. People could learn about my background, where I had traveled to and it made the entire experience much more rich than just a series of articles in a magazine.
Lou Mongello Hey Gary! Great to “see” you!
New Media Expo What are some of the personal things you do that Lonely Planet and National Geographic don’t?
Gary Arndt 1) I meet with my readers all over the world. There isn’t a major city I don’t visit where I don’t sit down and have drinks or dinner with someone. I usually get one to a dozen invitations from my readers in any city I visit. Mainstream journalists never do that.
Gary Arndt 2) I’m extremely open and transparent about what I’m doing and what I’m feeling. Other than producing an article, there is little you know about who created a post and the story behind it. I’ve posted my phone number on twitter many times :)
Gary Arndt 3) I’m willing to go off topic to show my personality. I’m a big fan of the Green Bay Packers and I think most of my readers know that :)
TBEX Don’t you see a shift in the way print journalists approach their audience, though? I feel like I see more & more journalists using social media & being more “personal” with readers (& potential readers). Is being “personal” really enough to set us apart these days?
Kerwin McKenzie Hiya Gary. So what advice would you give to others trying to get their voices heard?
Gary Arndt Two question I often pose to people when I speak is:

1) Have you heard of National Geographic?
2) Can you name a single person who has ever written for them in their 125 year history?

Most people can’t. They follow the brand, not any 1 person.
Gary Arndt TBEX, to a point. Everyone is trying to jump on the social media bandwagon. At the end of the day, they aren’t paid for social media and they have no vested interest in growing an audience.

There was a great article I read today from the past editor of the Washington Post. His biggest regret is pushing the brand, not the personal brands of the writers.

He is correct.
New Media Expo Can’t a person be a brand?
Rick Wolff Sounds like it’s good advice NEVER to brand oneself, lest we end up like NatGeo.
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, to a point. Oprah is a brand, but she is also a person. People like her because she is a person. Her brand is fundamentally different from Vogue or Wal-Mart which isn’t a brand.

People like Oprah because she is public about her weight struggles and other personal issues.
Rick Wolff I hate Oprah because she’s a brand.
TBEX That’s true, I just wonder whether being a personality is going to be enough in the future to set individuals apart, since brands & the people behind them have as much access (if not more) to social media & other personality-driven media. What will set individuals apart then?
Gary Arndt Rick, it depends on how you define brand. There are corporate brands and there are personal brands.
Kerwin McKenzie It’s tough though Gary; I just saw a major airline share a link of a story that was done on them from two major U.S. TV stations. I don’t see them doing that for bloggers as often.

It’s changing though as I do get my posts shared by the airlines I mention as they like the content that I provide.

So I guess it will take time for bloggers to compete with big time media.
New Media Expo Gary Arndt What are some of the topics you tackle that the major travel brands won’t?
Gary Arndt TBEX, the problem is what happens when the personality becomes too big for the media outlet? Ultimately, at the end of the day, they are employees. If they get fired, the benefit they had from being associated with the brad can disappear.

Witness what happens to the NYT Frugal Traveler after they get replaced. Working for the NYT is very powerful. Formerly working for them isn’t.
Gary Arndt Rick, a lot of people like Oprah :)
Gary Arndt Kerwin, don’t try to play the same game they do. Other big companies will always want to work with other big companies before htey do bloggers. Go directly to the people.
Rick Wolff But they like her IN SPITE OF herr being a brand, not because of it.
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, I’m not sure it is an issue of topics per se. It is broader than that. Any given newspaper or magazine might take on any given issue. That doesn’t give them personality. It is the little stuff inbetween the posts that can help create personality. It is the voice that the post is written in as well.
New Media Expo It’s Oprah’s personality and the personal way she interacts with her community that makes them want to buy into the brand, though, isn’t it? Once more brands figure that out, bloggers may have to find a new angle.
Kerwin McKenzie Rick; they can relate to her is my feeling; she has that likable personality :-D
Emily Chase Smith Gary, in your experience, what’s the best way to go directly to the people?
Dave Thackeray Is that Everything Everywhere the telecoms company? Glad to see they’re doing something right for a change!
Gary Arndt Rick, they buy into the brand because they like Oprah as a person. The person came before the brand. Again, this is all semantics about what you call a “brand”.

There is something qualitatively different about Oprah vs ESPN.
TBEX That’s a good point. So does that mean you think being a personality is enough to set individuals apart from brands in the future, too? Or is there something else we should be poised to do?
Gary Arndt Dave, I had the name before they did :)
Gary Arndt Emily, there is no magic bullet. It has taken me 6 years to get where I am. I’ve built my audience by traveling full time and doing things that other people want to do. I’ve been engaging with people the entire time.
Rick Wolff I will think upon these things re: branding. I’m listening.
Emily Chase Smith I see an engagement pattern in what you’re saying – all the way to meeting individuals for drinks. :)
Gary Arndt TBEX, have an interesting personality :) I see too many bloggers that are trying to duplicate what magazines do. Don’t play their game. Give them the “6 Great Things To Do In London” space. Anyone can write that.

Be funny. Be sarcastic. Be vulgar. Be inspiring. Be something that you don’t see the big media companies do.
Gary Arndt Emily, yes. My life is a giant way to scam free drinks out of readers :)
Emily Chase Smith I’m also intrigued by you ” doing things other people want to do.” You’re taking them where they want to be.
TBEX HA! “Have an interesting personality.” Noted. I’ll work on that. ;)
Rick Wolff Were/are there any things in the personal contact sphere that gave you pause, or hesitation?
Rick Wolff I.e., that you didn’t want to do?
Gary Arndt When I made the decision to make a business out of this, I realized i had to do what the mainstream writers weren’t doing.

I travel FAR more than any traditional travel writer in the world. I’ve committed myself to a lifestyle and I think that is reflected in my audience.

You can’t fake that level of commitment and I think people respect it.
Women on the Road How far should you go in sharing who you are and how you live? Where do you draw that line?
Megan Enloe So….be controversial?
TBEX Is the online travel space any different from any other market in this regard? In other words, is the “be personal” advice applicable to every industry? Or do you see some areas where it works better than others?
New Media Expo Women on the Road As Gary Arndt seems to live everywhere, I imagine he has different lines.
Gary Arndt Rick, no. I’ve never had a problem with it. Everyone is very respectful and usually just have lots of questions about traveling and the places I’ve been.
Gary Arndt Women on the Road, Everyone has to set their own boundaries. I’ve talked to many female bloggers who, understandably, have different limits that I do.

As a general rule, however, the more open the better.
Shane Ketterman Sorry I’m Late! Welcome Gary and so happy you are speaking at NMX :)
Gary Arndt TBEX, I don’t think it is true in print, with the exception of columnists. Most want a consistent voice for their publication. The Economist doesn’t even list article authors.

It is less of an issue on television, but even then there are limits to what on air personalities can do/say.
Gary Arndt Megan, not necessarily. Saying repulsive/racist things will get you attention, but it wont get you fans.

You have to have an opinion and be able to defend it. People will respect you even if they disagree.
TBEX Women on the Road Speaking as a woman, when I travel by myself I’m fairly public about where I am (country, city) but I don’t check into Foursquare publicly, for instance. In some cases, I don’t even check into Foursquare until I’m leaving that place – especially if it’s the hotel I’m staying in! :)
New Media Expo Gary Arndt By “the more open the better” do you mean people should share home towns and Foursquare checkins?
Gary Arndt You’ve all heard the phrase “create amazing content”. I think that is true, but personality can often be the well that the content comes from.

Gary Vaynerchuk for example didn’t get his audience because people like wine tasting shows. He got it because he’s Gary Vaynerchuk.
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, with what I do in travel, sure. But again, I can understand if people don’t want to do that. I don’t think Foursquare is a deal breaker.

It isn’t just sharing your location (but that can be part of it), it is sharing your opinions and feelings as well.
New Media Expo Gary Arndt – Who do you write for besides yourself?
Gary Arndt TBEX, who is this? Mary Jo or Jessica? :)
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, as in outlets? I don’t really write for anyone.

I do occasionally have photography showcased on Outside Magazine, but that’s about it.
Gary Arndt My favorite sports blog is a Packer Fan Blog. They do stuff that ESPN never would. They do it because they are unabashed fans. That is why I like reading it.
New Media Expo Gary Arndt Beyond personality how did you get noticed? What did you use to drive traffic and what drew people to see your blog in its early days?
Gary Arndt They have no airs about trying to be objective.
TBEX This is Jessica. :) *waving at Gary*
TBEX (And as an aside to anyone who might be lurking, I’ve seen Gary speak a few times at TBEX conferences, & he’s an excellent speaker. Go to his NMX talk, y’all!)
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, several things:

1) I’ve put a lot of emphasis on my photography. I knew nothing about photography 5 years ago, and today I’m an award winning travel photographer. I think the quality of the images makes a difference.

2) I made a purposeful emphasis on visual content. It is easy for people to digest and consume. I also think travel is fundamentally visual.

3) I got lucky. I was an early blogger and the Time Magazine thing didn’t hurt, but that was a result of the other things I did.

4) I also worked my ass off. I’ve posted a travel photo every day for 5 years straight. I’ve spent half a decade living out of a bag, going to places that people would love to visit. I think that is reflected in the WOW factor that people have when they discover me.
Gary Arndt I also try to answer every Tweet, FB question and email I get from readers. I have an assistant to help me with many things, but the content and engagement is something I can’t outsource.
Amy Moore What’s the biggest mistake you see bloggers make when it comes to audience or branding?
Gary Arndt One other tactic is to USE big media outlets to promote you.

Because you are a personality and an expert, you can be an excellent source for quotes for stories.See Translation
New Media Expo Gary Arndt It’s different now for bloggers. There’s a lot more competition and a lot more people clamoring for attention. How can a new blogger get noticed and hear about all the noise?
Gary Arndt Amy, the biggest mistake, and I see this a lot in food, parenting and travel, is viewing other bloggers as your audience.
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, you have to really make a splash. You have to do something really different. How you do that is up to you.

You also have to network your ass off.

I’m amazed at how few bloggers in the travel niche for example have never bothered to contact myself or other successful travel bloggers.

I know many people are intimidated by bigger bloggers, but the reality is, I answer all my emails and am gald to talk to almost anyone.
James Craven Hello Gary, billion dollar media brands have advertising, circulation and marketing depts, what do you do as an individual brand to compete in these areas?
Gary Arndt If I was starting a new blog today, the first thing I’d do is make a list of all the top bloggers in that space and try to get to know them.

Get them to mentor me, learn what they do, and just be friends with them.

Most of the bloggers I know, I know because they just happened to start blogs at the same time I did.

Everyone starts with an audience of zero. If you are going to have a small audience, at least have the right people paying attention.
TBEX You are a good resource, Gary, but trying to “be the next Gary” probably isn’t the right goal for newer travel bloggers. The space is changing, & trying to emulate the people who’ve already done it seems like it will put you behind the curve instead of ahead of it, no?
Rick Wolff I’m going to blog about something sometime, haven’t picked a “space” yet. Taking notes.
Gary Arndt James, at a certain level you can’t. You can’t compete with an 8 figure advertising budget.

The closest thing you could do is run Facebook advertising, which can be done surprisingly cheap if you do it right, but even that has its own drawbacks.

If you work hard and hustle, you can carve out your own niche.
New Media Expo Not all the top bloggers are very forthcoming, they don’t want to give away their “secrets” for free or they simply don’t answer their email. Are there any resources – books, webinars, classes, etc. you’d recommend to bloggers?
Gary Arndt TBEX, odds are, yes.

Not everyone can travel around the world forever.

My advice to new bloggers in the travel space is to have a destination focus. They tend to do the best with money.

I know one guy who makes a very good living off a site that just focuses on one of the Canary Islands :)
Gary Arndt New Media Expo, other than knowing how to set up wordpress, there is little you are going to get out of these webinars.

Most blogs about blogging know nothing about the problems I’m discussing. There is no problogging channels on TV. There isn’t a marketing section in newspapers.

Whatever you see online is usually the pinnacle of that media for those niches.

I think the best teacher is experimentation.

I seldom talk about business just because I don’t want to bore my readers with talk of business when I can talk about more interesting things I’m doing around the world.
Gary Arndt I also think every niche is different. A marketer who markets about marketing to other marketers isn’t really going to know specifics about any given industry.
Gary Arndt Also, if you don’t have the budget big brands have, you have to replace that with time and work. Almost every big blog I can think of in any niche has been around for years. It doesn’t happen overnight.

You have to be in this for the long haul.
Emily Chase Smith Gary, can you give us an example of a “splash” you’ve orchestrated or seen?
New Media Expo As we wrap up, Gary, is there anything you’d like to plug? What are you up to?
Gary Arndt The entire reason I submitted the proposal for this session at NME was because I was so frustrated with the blogging gurus that never addressed this problem because they didn’t know it existed.
Rick Wolff I don’t think I have any “long hauls” left.
Gary Arndt I’m currently in Barcelona where I”ll be speaking at an event on the Yahoo campus on Friday.

After that I’ll be back in the US for December to write a book.

I don’t have any webinars or ebooks to plug :)

If you would like to follow my adventures as I travel around the world, feel free to follow along on my Facebook page: Everything Everywhere!
Derek Sass Hi Garry, I am planning a trip from Johannesburg to Namibia and then down the west coast to Cape Town and blog aimed at Baby Boomers. My internet access in a lot of that area is likely to be intermittent. Do you have any advice?
Gary Arndt Emily, one of the best examples in my niche would probably be Sonia Gil. She come out of nowhere and within a year had a very successful travel video podcast.

New Media Expo Thank you, Gary Arndt. I’d like to encourage the NMX community to continue to ask any questions they have – if Gary would be so kind as to check back from time to time. And please don’t miss Gary’s session “How to Compete With Billion Dollar Empires and Win” at New Media Expo ’13. http://nmxlive.com/2013-lv/speakers/gary-arndt/

We hope you can join us for this week’s Facebook chat featuring Jay Baer. Jay’s NMX session is titled “Youtility: Why Smart Companies Focus on Helping, Not Selling” and he’ll be giving away lots of great information on the topic during the chat. Join us this Wednesday at 10am PT/1pm ET to ask Jay questions about how to avoid selling–and start helping instead.

Telling Your Brand’s Story: Historic Lessons and Modern Applications


In May 1942, Nazis ordered a group of German filmmakers to go into what is today one of the most iconic areas of the time period: the Warsaw Ghetto. Here, over 400,000 Jews were kept as Nazi prisoners in conditions that most of us couldn’t dream of surviving. Rations without enough calories to survive, deplorable living conditions where disease ran rampant, and police brutality were some of the daily struggles for Warsaw Jews living in the Ghetto.

And yet, the Reich sent in a film crew. Writes Huffington Post’s Richard Z. Chesnoff, “Their perverse propaganda goal: to record for posterity examples of the religious practices and “sub-human culture” of the soon to be eliminated judische Rasse, everything from a circumcision ceremony to a burial service; from the extreme poverty of the many to the supposed lack of concern of those few Jews who still had some assets.”

The Nazi brand, when simplified, was “Jews and others who don’t fit our mold are bad people.” And they knew that the most powerful way to spread this message was not in telling this message to others outright, but rather showing it in story form.

The wall of victims at Yad Vasham, identified using both Nazi and personal records

The film was ultimately never finished because the footage didn’t tell the story the Nazi party wanted it to tell. But on my recent trip to Yad Vasham, the World Center for Holocaust Research, Education, Documentation, and Commemoration, I was taken aback by this idea of storytelling during the 1940s. It was something even the Nazi party, perhaps the kings of propaganda, pegged as extremely important. Brands can still learn from this lesson today.

The Value of Information

Recording and sharing information are perhaps more important to your brand than you realize. It’s in these activities that your story has a beginning, a base for your entire brand. Leaders of the Nazi party certainly put their own heavy spin on the information that was shared with the public, but they nonetheless realized the importance of precise records to the story they wanted to tell.

“For the Germans, proper record keeping was part of proper management. Hence, careful records and organized paperwork were maintained of all Nazi activities, even when these were criminal and murderous. The only blatant exception to this record-keeping was the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” a top secret operation for which there was no official budget and whose records were camouflaged within other records or in special language. It was only in the very last stages of the war, when defeat was at the door, that various officials (e.g., Adolf Eichmann) and offices destroyed some of the incriminating records,” says one historian at Yad Vasham.

Lest you’re wary of learning a lesson from the Nazi party, fear not: protecting information as a way to shape ideas and culture goes back much farther than the rise of the Third Reich. In “Archives, Records, and Power: The Making for Modern Memory,” authors Joan M. Schwartz and Terry Cook write, “Archives are social constructs. Their origins lie in the information needs and social values of the rulers, governments, businesses, associations, and individuals who establish and maintain them. Despite changes in the nature of records, the uses for those records, and the need to preserve them, archives, ever since the mnemons of ancient Greece, have been about power – about maintaining power, about the power of the present to control what is, and will be, known about the past, about the power of remembering over forgetting.”

The value in proper information, then, is power.

It’s easy to see how this translates into power for a brand. With the rise of social media, now more than ever before, it’s important for every employee, from CEO to night janitor, to understand the brand’s story. Every employee is a potential brand advocate through Facebook. Every employee is a potential customer service rep through Twitter. If information isn’t readily available to every employee, your company runs the risk of employees spreading incorrect information or muddling your messaging.

What systems do you have in place to share information within your company?

From Brand Information to Messaging

Every brand’s story starts with facts: when the company was founded, why the founders saw a need for a product or service, how the business operates today. But presenting the facts to your audience isn’t the same thing as telling a story. That’s what the Nazi party understood and why they sent filmmakers to Warsaw. And ultimately, it’s why the Warsaw Ghetto movie never got made. What the Nazi party realized is that they couldn’t turn the information about their atrocities into a positive message about their party no matter how hard they tried.

You can’t turn bad information into a good story–and your shouldn’t try. Doing so is no better than a propagandized message or, as we like to call it today, “spin.” If you have to spin your information to tell your brand’s story, it’s perhaps time to rethink your company policies and the way you do business.

You can tell a good story without being dishonest. It’s all about presenting information in an interesting way, not about exaggerating or falsifying information. There are certain “storylines” that resonate with customers you can use to tell your brand’s story. I also recommend checking out this extremely detailed lesson on the elements of story structure for businesses. At the root of business storytelling, however, is this: be honest and personable. People spend money when they know, like, and trust you and your company.

Some companies do this extremely well. Take Ford Motor Company, for example, who combine online advertising with storytelling to make new product promotion more entertaining and personal. Another great example is Canon, who’s Project Imaginat10n is telling a new story of inspiration, creativity, and product simplicity for their brand.

The Storytelling Timeline

Your brand’s story isn’t just a one-time tale with a defined end. As your business continues to grow, your story will expand. Thus, you need to update the information you share with your employees and edit your story to provide updates. Over time, your message may evolve, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you keep records well so that you’re always a credible source and continue to share your story in a way that is easily understood by your audience.

The Top 5 Things IBM’s Social Business has Taught Us


Now is the single greatest time in history to be in business.

Businesses that have embraced social tools and methodologies have created a new set of rules
that enable organizations to compete in the economy as equals. Being large no longer ensures
a competitive advantage. In fact, being large may be a deficit in the new business environment.
Worse, few executives are aware of the massive transformation that is in motion. Most are stuck
in an old management mind-set of command and control that emphasizes “Do as I say” and
not “I want to hear your opinion.”

As a result, they are ill prepared for the colossal challenges that confront them now.

The leaders who will succeed in this social business age are those who welcome feedback,
leverage the wisdom of crowds, create pull, and foster workplace environments that promote
innovation. The skills needed to succeed today are not being taught in the workplace, high
schools, or colleges, as they were in previous ages. Instead, they are learned through
experimentation, which yields both big mistakes and stunning successes.

Certainly, the goal of leadership remains the same: to grow and nurture people so that they
are capable of achieving business objectives through shared missions and measurable
performance. But the crucial ingredients for success are advancing beyond the old leadership
model, to new ones that are more strategic and yield far greater results.

There are some distinct differences in the way businesses were run in previous ages and the
way businesses need to be run in the social age. It’s still about shareholder value, but the
game is different now and the playbooks need to reflect the change. There are new rules, new
strategies, and new ways of leveraging talent.

IBM exemplifies this shift and is leading by example. Here are a few formulaic changes IBM has
made to the old leadership model that resonated with me:

#1 Old Way: Corporate Politics = Climbing the Corporate Ladder

New Way: Corporate Politics = Less Trust

Now, there will still be politics; we all understand that. But there will be a much more transparent system where people will be able to see that someone is playing politics instead of working for the betterment of the organization. Once a person knows she’s being observed her behavior changes, and that’s a key thing to bring up. Today, with an internal social network (our digital village), executives are being observed, and they’re being called out for corrupt political behavior. Moreover, employees who leave their firms often write about their experience and submit their reports to influential media outlets.

Remember what happened to Goldman Sachs after a disgruntled employee, Greg Smith, told the New York Times that executives were calling their clients “muppets” and that the culture was  toxic?

Today’s employees need to learn that in the new playbook, trust and authenticity will get you further than playing politics.

#2: Old Way: Public Relations Agencies = Get the Brand’s Message Out

New Way: Thought Leaders + Influencers + Employees = Get the Brand’s Message Out

While traditional public relations agencies still have a role in today’s businesses, they will become less effective at delivering a brand’s message over time. The social customers, the media, and your industry’s thought leaders are all tuning these one-way broadcasts out. They are no longer effective in today’s social age. The new playbook calls for employees, thought leaders, and an organization’s social team to provide quality content that attracts the right target audience and engages them in discussion. Those interactions over time will produce new customers who are eager to work with you.

#3: Old Way: Information = Stored in Silos

New Way: Information = Stored in a Central Repository

Organizations must provide an internal social network (digital village) that includes a social software platform which allows anyone in the organization to store and retrieve relevant information that helps the complete their work. It’s no longer acceptable to hoard information in silos. That’s a page from the old playbook that isn’t acceptable anymore.

#4: Old Way: Workplace = Fixed Location/Fixed Time

New Way: Workplace = Anywhere/Anytime

Until just recently, most employees (including knowledge workers) were required to be at their desk working on the highest-priority projects and tasks. The company’s culture would dictate the work hours, but the hours were fixed and everyone knew them. In the new workplace, because of mobile technologies and the cloud, work is being done from home, from the road, and even from vacation. The expectations have shifted from “Don’t worry, you can get me that when you return to work in the morning,” to “Hey, why didn’t you reply to the email I sent you last night?”

Like it or not, the new playbook doesn’t have a fixed schedule or location.

#5: Old Way: Employee Knowledge = Isolated

New Way: Employee Knowledge = Promote Internally & Externally

Every company has at least a few of them. They are the people you look at and say, “Wow, how do they do it?” Businesses that want to compete in the new world must promote their subject matter experts (SME) both internally and externally. Making SMEs into industry celebrities attract fans (customers), which attracts revenue. The easiest way to find SMEs is to monitor your social platform (or examine the analytical data) for clues about who is producing high-quality content that other people tend to share or comment on a lot.

Often, these SMEs don’t need a lot of convincing to create content for external consumption. Occasionally, more introverted experts will need help from your social team, who can interview the expert or create quality content from the material produced by the expert. The key here is to heavily promote the SME internally and externally. While many executives will find excuses not to because of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, this play has several benefits for the organization.

In the final analysis, every executive must be aware of the big shifts occurring in business today.
If their performance suffers because they have ignored these shifts, their careers will take a
back seat.

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