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Tweets of the week

Over the course of a week, we see plenty of RTs and information passed along from person to person across the Twitterverse. Great blog posts, articles and other information are passed along and we all benefit from sharing.

But, every week, due to the sheer volume of tweets, we sometimes miss out on the insightful and sometimes controversial tweets that start meaningful and interesting conversations around topics in PR, marketing and social networks.

So, each week I will attempt to capture what, in my opinion, were the “tweets of the week”–hope you’ll do your part in helping me fill in what I’ve missed. Take a look below and let me know what you think. Who knows, maybe these tweets will restart new conversations with folks who may not have seen these pearls of wisdom earlier in the week:

* People of earth, Twitter is what YOU make of it. Opt in. Create your own experience and the hell with the rest.–@ambercadabra

* I’m still very much a PR girl. I think the “what it takes” has changed in PR and some refuse to evolve.–@shannonpaul

* Are you too much of an “A-lister” or too important and “busy” to respond to someone who responds to your tweet? Then why are you tweeting?–@marc_meyer

* My primary objective in any meeting is to end the meeting.–@badbanana

* The best writers, and hence the best bloggers, develop their own voice, their own tenor, their own POV. –@dpolitis

* Sponsored content is the future of advertising because it binds the ad to the consumption of media. Higher CTRs. Better ROI. –@tedmurphy

* Look at the quality of content and interaction on the topic. Ask yourself–Would you read it? –@dfolkens

* A credible blogger is one who makes a mistake and still shows up tomorrow. –@scotthepburn

* If you don’t offer option of comments, you’re not listening. If ur not listening, ur not in the game.–@dannybrown

* Social Media is the new zeitgeist.–@tdefren

* Never make someone a priority if they consider you an option.–@researchgoddess

* The people are the rock stars. the rockstars work to build a rock star brand.–@mattceni

* Blogging takes love. If you don’t love your blog don’t start the relationship in the first place–@dannybrown

* Twitter is like any relationship. You get out of it what you put into it.–@benbrugler

* Idea for corp. blogs. Get a customer that blogs to guest post. Offer the customer a voice and improve your service thru that.–@dannybrown

* Check your ego: There’s not much difference between “A-List” and just “a list–@scotthepburn

What were your favorite tweets of the week?

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PR Rock Stars: A Conversation with Rick Mahn

Little known fact: The Twin Cities has a tremendously robust interactive/social media market. I know we’re fly-over country and all, but we have one heck of a digital community. Over the last year, the community has grown immensely stronger due to the good work of PR Rock Star Rick Mahn. 
As the founder of Social Media Breakfast-Twin Cities, I’m guessing Rick has shook hands, collaborated or chatted with just about every pro who has dabbled in the social media space across the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. So, how does he qualify as a PR Rock Star? Isn’t social media a part of the marketing and communications mix now? Rick’s new role as social media strategist at Land ‘O Lakes gives him instant credibility–and coupled with his SMB work and his general knowledge in the social media arena, he’s more than deserving. Want to hear more? Let’s turn this bad-boy loose…

You started Social Media Breakfast here in the Twin Cities early in 2008. Tell me a little about that experience and how’s it’s changed your outlook and career trajectory?

Let’s see… the idea of SMB, as you may know, was created by Bryan Person out in Boston in Q4 2007 if I remember right. I was watching all these great folks out in Boston wishing we had something similar here in the Twin Cities. He was able to gather so many great folks who I was following on blogs and Twitter at the time, and it really looked like a great idea.
So I email Bryan one day in early January 2008 and asked what he did to pull it together, and if he knew of anyone working on doing something similar in Minneapolis. When he simply said “why don’t you”, it was kind of an awakening of sorts.

Since then, I’ve taken on the approach of an entrepreneur. I apply that perspective to every aspect of my career, and it’s changed how a person approaches things.

You’re currently the chief Social Media Strategist for Land ‘O Lakes right here in Minneapolis. You took a little different path to that position than others—talk about your non-traditional path and how it has helped you do your job effectively.

I suppose in non-traditional, you mean “non-marketing/pr”? Yeah, I’m an old “IT” guy who just got tired of maintaining the technology part of the equation. Though, I do know of a couple of folks in the social media sphere that have similar roots, and I think it’s a valid background for being a social computing advocate.

After doing a lot of tech consulting in the ‘90s, I wound up working at Michael Foods in Minnetonka, MN for a decade. It was a great experience with great people – I learned tons of things about many aspects of the business because of the technology analyst work I did there. This was indispensible experience that I’m grateful to have.

Sufice it to say, after having an epiphany at a tech conference in Orlando in April 2007, I walked away from one of the best jobs I’d had in my career to that date. The future beckoned, and I wanted to find out what that was.

Coming out of IT with the diverse technical, management, and analytical skills that I have has really been the edge for me. It’s allowed me to watch past and current trends, and forecast what direction things are going.

The other part was blogging. I started blogging in 2004 on MSN Spaces and learn more about what transparency and authenticity were all about in the blogosphere. These also changed the way I viewed each new opportunity as I left corporate life in 2007.

Your position at Land O’ Lakes is very similar to what most would term a “community manager” position. With more organizations considering these types of positions and more candidates vying for these roles, what three tips would you offer up to those who are pursuing these types of positions?
Before you can get to the community manager part, a company has to figure out it’s strategy. That’s where I’ve been at for some time. The strategy part – it’s because of the IT geeky part of me that I tend to take a look at the bigger picture. So what I’m doing at Land O’Lakes is social media strategy.

There sure are more companies looking to fill both these types of needs, and they need help, just in figuring out what they need to figure out. That’s something that folks need to think about as they look to take on one of these positions.

Three tips:

1 – Communication skills. These skills are very necessary for any candidate in a social position. Knowing how to interact with public and management (and the workforce) is very important to success. You need to listen, moderate, interpret and communicate back. Not easy in some cases.

2 – Writing. As a community manager, writing is a key component. While it’s something I struggle with every day (I’m a techy geek remember), its not hard to do and gets easier with practice.

3 – Business, management, or marketing experience. It could be one of these, or a combination of the three. You need to understand the business you speak for. You need to be able to manage time and resources – kind of like a lot of mini-projects. Finally, everything you do is a version of marketing, whether internal or external. It goes back to communications skills.

You’re also an active blogger at www.rickmahn.com. How do you drum up new ideas for your blog and keep content fresh?

Blogging is a tough gig. Topics come and go, and I mean that sometimes I can sit down and come up with 100 ideas, and others I can’t seem to think of one. Writing is the other hard part – you always think “well everyone knows that!” The reality is that everyone doesn’t know that, and while you can come up with some great content, it’s the readers that really add value.

To come up with new ideas, I keep up with what’s going on online as much as possible. Talking with friends and associates working in social media, or in business, or in a different industry helps me keep a broad perspective. Sometimes I’ll just jump into the current meme going through the blogosphere because I have an opinion to add.

You’re as plugged in to the
national social media scene as anyone in the Twin Cities. Who are your five “must follows” on Twitter and three blogs you just have to read each week?

Hmm, for Twitter it would have to be: Scott Monty at Ford, Becky McCray (an associate from a business advisors group), Chris Brogan, Liz Strauss (founder of SOBCon), and Keith Burtis of Best Buy.

For blogs it’s gotta be: Jeremiah Owyang, Jason Falls, and (again) Chris Brogan. These folks are the best minds in social media today, and I’m glad to have met most of them. The other thing is that they are just real people – no different than anyone else trying to advance in this space. They just got here a little earlier than the rest of us.

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Who do we pitch to when there’s no one left to pitch to?

Had an interesting, albeit short conversation with my friend and PR colleague, Ryan Mathre, on the golf course the other day. His question: “Who will we pitch to when there’s no one left to pitch to?”

Of course, this question is based on the premise that the traditional media channels as we know them are slipping away. Newspapers are shuttering their doors. Others are laying off staff or offering furloughs. One way or another, the traditional newspaper model as we know it today will change. Eventually.

So, then what? Basically, that was Ryan’s question.

My thought: Organizations will simply do what they’ve done for years–just in a different way. They’ll tell their story. Only in the future, with new media channels in place and with people consuming news and information in different ways, organizations will have the opportunity to tell their stories directly to their customers. Heck, some are doing it now.

Look at the strategy Domino’s employed last week in addressing its crisis. Sure, they most likely issued a news release with their official response in an effort to tell their story through traditional media channels. But, they also recorded Patrick Doyle, CEO, telling their story firsthand to customers and key stakeholders on YouTube in a more human, visceral way. Domino’s didn’t pitch anyone. Didn’t pick up a phone. Didn’t send an email. They simply produced a video, posted it to YouTube and hit “upload.” And boom–their message is instantly available to millions of potential Domino’s customers and influencers.

The game is changing. And right now, we’re in this limbo state. Traditional media channels are very much still in play. Think the New York Times or CNN has no clout? Better think again. But, new media channels are offering organizations a very different way to tell their story. Sometimes it’s direct-to-consumers (YouTube videos) other times it’s more indirect (monitoring and commenting on key blogs in your niche market).

What do you think? What will happen when we don’t have anyone to pitch to?

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It’s all about the numbers, right? RIGHT?

All this talk about Ashton Kutcher the last few days trying to “buy” his way to a million followers (looks like he will get his wish today) on Twitter got me thinking: Isn’t he right? Isn’t it really all about the numbers?

Stay with me for a minute. 
As PR pros and marketers, it’s been beaten into our brain from day one. ROI. Results. Measures. All based on numbers. Dollar figures. Counts.

Shouldn’t we bake those same measures and counts into the mix when integrating social media tools into our marketing and communications plans?

Shouldn’t number of followers on Twitter matter? Number of RTs? Number of friends on Facebook? Number of comments on your blog? At the end of the day, as you counsel your clients, don’t you need real numbers to demonstrate results and prove that you’re moving the needle?

Or, is social media different?

Is it more about relationships–not numbers? Community–not ROI? Conversations–not sales?

In reality, it’s a combo platter. Numbers certainly matter. Whether it’s number of comments on a blog,  number of RTs on Twitter or sales tied to engagement in social networks. It’s not the end-all-be-all. But it definitely has a place. 
On the flip side, relationships, community and conversations play a big part, too. Obviously. After all, isn’t that why most of us are here? We’re either interacting with each other or helping the brands we represent interact with their customers. In the process, we’re building strong communities. Fostering relationships. And engaging in meaningful conversations every day. All to help build stronger brands.

Tell me–what do you think? Is engagement in social networks all about the numbers?

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Tweet-A-Thon 2009: Make a difference for Two PR Rock Stars

You’ve all read the headlines. Company lays off 400. Unemployment continues to rise. No end in sight. It’s depressing, right?

Over the last few months, like many, I’ve watched helplessly as good friends have lost their jobs unexpectedly. I always lend my sympathy and tell them I’ll help in any way I can. But it rarely goes any further than that.

That all ends today.

I’m taking a stand. Enough is enough. I can make a difference. One person’s voice and actions are a powerful thing. Just ask David Armano,

who helped raise more than $16,ooo for a homeless mother of three back in January. So, here’s what I’m doing–with the help of an army of others including Mack Collier, Lisa Hoffmann and Amy Mengel.

I’m hosting a “Tweet-A-Thon” today for two good friends: Sonny Gill and Scott Hepburn. Two guys who are “free agents” out on the market. How this is possible, I still have no idea. Sonny and Scott are two of the most talented writers and creative idea guys around. Any company would be lucky to have them.

From 9 am to 5 pm CST today, I–along with a slew of others–will be tweeting about Scott and Sonny incessantly. Our hope? That we can drum up a few jobs leads, opportunities and even a few folks for them to chat with in hopes of landing a new gig soon. 

Will this make a difference? I don’t know. But, the point is, they are friends in need and we are going to take this opportunity to make a difference for these two rock stars. 
Now, I know there are hundreds upon thousands of folks out there looking for jobs. Why help these two and not the others? Because I can make a difference for Sonny and Scott–today. As of 9 am, I’m focused on those two gentleman. After we get them squared away, we’ll worry about the rest. 
Join me in helping Scott and Sonny today. Share job opportunities or leads you believe might be a good fit for Scott and Sonny by leaving a comment below. If you’re uncomfortable sharing publicly, send me an email at arik.hanson@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter and I’ll pass the information along to Scott and Sonny.
Thank you–this is your chance to make a difference for two incredibly talented guys today. Let’s make it happen. 

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