Category Archives: Blogging

Farmers Rock Social Media!

I am very fortunate to be working with Alliance Tires Americas, Inc., a client in the agriculture industry; not only because they have wonderful products and are great folks, but because my own personal interests are satisfied. You see, my husband John and I have a family farm in west Tennessee. The farm has been in my husband’s family since 1870 but we are “new’ to the farming business.  So I am learning a lot from participating in forums and social media sites for Alliance Tire.  For example, I learned recently that because we have 100 acres or less we are considered “hobby farmers.”  That’s OK with me. We have a great deal to learn.

It may be a surprise to some of you that agriculture professionals and farmers in America are quite advanced in using social media and other public forum sites to promote themselves and their interests.  The Ag Chat foundation sponsors a question and answer session every Tuesday night from 7-9pm EDT using the twitter hashtag #agchat.  Almost every Farm Bureau offers classes teaching social media to their constituents.

Why?  Because farmers want you to know where your food comes from.  They want you to know the faces behind your gallon of milk or carton of eggs. Farming is not easy. It is hot, dirty, and expensive and totally under appreciated.  But individuals like Troy Hadrick and Advocates for Agriculture, and organizations like AEM, Association of Equipment Manufactures (AEM is looking for someone to recognize as the ‘Advocate for Agriculture” at their annual meeting.  Other examples on Facebook include: Indiana Dairy, Farmer Showcase and Farm Journal.

Do you know where your food comes from? Do you care? Who do you know that is a great “Advocate for Agriculture?” Tell us your story.  It is important!


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Dying From Depression

NOTE: I have been sitting on this blog post for a while because I have been afraid it would be seen as unprofessional. However, I just heard from a friend that a  member of my book club got  drunk at her daughter’s wedding and was so ashamed she went to her garage,closed the door,  got into her car, and killed herself. She left behind, husband, children and grandchildren. I am SURE they would have forgiven her.

“Everyone has a Mother, and they all die.” I saw this short story title in a book I was reading  “Believer, Beware.” It made me catch my breath. You see, my own mother died recently and it shocked me.  It shocked me because she died but also because she chose to die.  My mother starved herself to death.

I was raised by my paternal grandparents so I did not find out until I was a junior in high school that my mother was manic-depressive or bipolar.

Bipolar illness seems to in the news a lot lately, the new ADHD. Every TV channel promotes this and that new drug, Xanax, Lyrica, Lexapro…

Bipolar depression, the illness dujour, is a very serious one.  But like all illnesses it has different degrees, from mild swings of depression and mania to wild full-blown psychotic episodes. My mother’s illness seemed to run the gamut.  Looking back through her papers I think she began to show symptoms as an early teen. But back then not much was know and her behavior was written off as a thyroid condition. So she was not diagnosed until much later.

Many people who have bipolar illness are quite brilliant. People such as, Beethoven, Hemingway, Churchhill. When my mother was high, crazy things could happen.  She might give away all her possessions and move to the Isle of Guernsey, become an innkeeper of a Scottish castle, have a fling with a Brazilian airline pilot.  That is one of the reasons some  people with bipolar illness don’t want to take their medicine. They don’t like feeling flat; they miss the ability to get an extraordinary amount of things done.

The depressive side of the illness is never far away- Being ashamed of impulsive and inappropriate behavior committed while “high”, the inability to form long and lasting friendships, the feelings of loneliness and alienation from other people.

My mother had secrets, secrets she was too ashamed to confess.  I believe that is what really killed her. I was pretty angry with her.  I do understand that is part of the grieving process.  The point I am trying to make is that we are all human. And being human makes us frail, fallible creatures.  I think it is quite self-centered to believe that you are the only one to have done stupid, terrible things.

My mother did not like being labeled mentally ill; it made her ashamed, and she also did not like growing old.  Not being able to climb the hills of Scotland hurt her deeply.   But I have to believe that it was her illness that made her give up. It takes one hell of a will to starve your self to death.

I was embarrassed to have a mentally ill mother. I was ashamed. I am sorry for that. I wish I had better understood the illness. I wish she was still here.

We all feel sad and depressed at times, we all need people to talk to. It may be a friend or a professional.  A professional helped me when my Grandmother died and again when my Mother died.  It helped.

In our society there is still a stigma about needing help. We need to change that. Do you think it is a sign of weakness to seek professional mental health treatment? Would it cause you not to hire someone who you know had?

Depressed? Get help. Lonely? Get help. Ashamed? Get Help! .  Where to start? NAMI National Alliance for Mental Illness. Suicide Hotline.

What resources do you know out there?

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Confessions of an Oversharer

I recently had someone delete me because I “overshare” information on Twitter.  It got me thinking about the issue.

As an “information junkie” who gets paid to research breaking news for my company and our clients, I come across a great deal of information that I feel is interesting.  I sometimes find it difficult to weed out my own interests and that of the audience involved.

My question is: “How often should I be posting messages onto these sites? Daily? Twice a day? Hourly?” Unfortunately, many people (myself included) post too often and abuse the airways. They send too many messages, which has two very negative effects.

First, you become an interruption rather than a welcome interlude. People who are following you and have your messages forwarded to their cell phone are constantly being interrupted by you. Now you’re a nuisance.  According to Pam Lontos, president of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, Florida and  author of I See Your Name Everywhere. “The other problem is that search engines are designed to ignore these 140 character messages.”

However, there are strategic ways around that rule so that your 140 character messages become the alerts. The problem is that the search engines only allow a certain number of alerts per source, and it varies per search engine. If the search engines see too many messages coming from you during their standard interval period, they could flag you as a search engine spammer and lock you out.

So the best posting interval right now, in Pam’s opinion, is posting something every 48 hours, as that’s how long typically it takes for a message to be reported through search engines.

I will probably continue to post information I think is valuable but I will be more careful. What do you think?

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I am old. I WANT to die.

I have been thinking about this blog post for a while now. But I have hesitated. My own feeling on the subject as still confused.  Also because I don’t want my blog to be seen as a “downer”.  But the reason I started my own blog was just for these type issues. Real Life.  And boy, I was dealing with real life NOW.

I have been changing a lot of diapers lately, not on a cute newborn baby bottom, but an old wrinkly one.  My father-in-law no longer has control of his bladder or bowels.

The worst thing is that he knows what is happening.  He is still pretty damn sharp for a 96 year old.  He asked me last night if I “had ever thought I would be cleaning an old persons butt?” I tried to make a joke of it, asking him not to fart on me…it made him laugh but it did not really cover up the sadness involved.

My father-in-law and I have been talking quite a bit lately. His sitter was sick and my husband and I have been doing sitting duty. He told me “ I am ready to go, I have lived long enough! I am ready to die ” I don’t think he really wanted a response from me. At least I hope not.

I have been re-reading a book called “How We Die”.  By Sherwin B. Nuland. It was a National book award winner. I purchased the book about fifteen years ago when my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. We had recently put her into a nursing home and I wanted to learn as much as I could. I wanted to know how long before she died.

It may make me seem heartless but I have to wonder, how long before Ben dies? He is ready to go, and to be perfectly honest so are we. I know how horrible that sounds. Selfish, probably.  I do not want to see him to continue to decline. To be embarrassed. To hear him say how thankful he is to have us. It makes me feel ashamed. I don’t feel like I can bare the weight of his gratitude.

Have you thought much about your old age? I have. I have already expressed that I do not want my children to take me home. I do not want them to feel the mixed feelings of love and anger Love and responsibility. I want to be put in a rocking old folks home if possible.  What about you?

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Healthcare: It Is Getting Personal Now

This is the first post under my new name, Christine’s Memes.  I would like to take credit for the name but my daughter Alex was the creator. (I am so proud).

According to Wikipedia A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with “cream”[1]) is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.

My definition is a meme is anything I want to talk about. I changed the name so I could differentiate my personal blog posts versus my JTMarCom posts.   There will be duplication but I feel that this is a better format for more personal  thoughts and ideas.

My original thought for this first post was to talk about my learning curve in social media after being a traditional marketer for over twenty years.  My learning curve was no curve at all but a straight up rocket. And it has been a fantastic ride.

But all of a sudden life has gotten in my way.

So if you are squeamish stop now. 🙂

I  had to have a radical hysterectomy on March 8. And I was not happy about it. My hysterectomy included the removal of my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.  Fortunately, I am finished with my child rearing. I have two wonderful daughters, Alexandra and Victoria  ( Alex and Tori.). Why the surgery? Well, I did what all smart women should do. Get a regular OBGYN check up and found out that I had an “unidentifiable mass”.

Yes, I was freaked out.  I was scared. But more than that, I was and am pissed! Our COBRA insurance runs out in a month.  An unidentified mass was the doctor’s way of saying it could be cancer, which means I cannot switch to the insurance company I planned to.  My mass was considered a pre-existing condition. The medical and insurance company had limited my choices.  I could not try alternative treatment because if it didn’t work I would not be covered at a later date. I have even been told that mentioning the word cancer in my blog could hurt me in obtaining insurance.

Why am I telling you all this? I need your help. How can we as the social media, marketing, public relations community address this issue? I am embarrassed to say I have been so busy building a business that I have not participated in the healthcare debate in our country.  I will take a guess that neither  have you.

I for one, plan to change that. Getting the GREAT news that I did not have cancer has given me a much needed wake-up call. I will no longer put up with mediocrity either within myself or others. I can bitch and moan or I can do something.  I will be doing research over the next few weeks, to see how I can be more involved. I do not care about political parties, red or blue.  I do care about my and my family’s future. The question is where do I start?

I know that the healthcare bill just passed. I want the details and I intend to get them. I am looking for sources….NOT political rhetoric.  Life is too short to be mired in useless words. Do you think getting the facts is possible?

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Examples of Social Media Policies

According to a recent article on social media by the blogger HrBartender /Sharlyn Lauby , there are generally two approaches to social media policy making. Some organizations handle social media in an evolutionary way. Chad Houghton, the director of e-media and business development at the Society for Human Resource Management, told me that he thinks, “it might be beneficial not to create some arbitrary rules without first seeing where the opportunities and risks really are.”

Other organizations, meanwhile, feel more comfortable establishing a clear policy from the outset. IBM, for example, has published their social media guidelines publicly for anyone to read. It’s a great policy, though rather long.

One thing is certain — clients are asking for where to find examples of current policies used by all  types of organizations. I was really excited when I came upon the best site I  have found so far the : Online Data Base for Social Media put together by Chris Boudreaux.  Chris has organized a pretty comprehensive social media policy database. The database currently has 106 policies with the policies being sorted by industry, organization and title. More are being added daily.

Among the companies whose social media policies are available on the site are About.com, the BBC, Dell, Dow Jones, Gartner, Microsoft, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Air Force, Wal-Mart and Yahoo!

So if your organization is fretting about social media and you want to get them into the modern age, show them this site.  And if your company already has a social media policy and wants to show it to the world, it can submit that policy for inclusion in the Social Media Governance database.

Does your company have a policy? If so please share.:)

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I stalked Chris Brogan:)

T-shirtThis is an image off of a t-shirt my husband John bought me as a joke from Despair.com. I thought it was pretty funny.  It captures  brilliantly the three behavioral disorders propelling the continued phenomenal growth of today’s most widely-trafficked social media sites. And the personality dysfunctional forces of Narcissism, ADHD, and Stalking  that reside today’s in the fast growing area of social media.

As a social media practitioner I freely admitted to the ADHD, (not a bad trait for a multi-tasker). Narcisissim not so much, but I must admit I do like it when my posts are re-tweeted. ( I call it being informative.) But I didn’t get the Stalking category.

I do Now. I am a big fan of Chris Brogan and read his blog eagerly every morning as I drink  my coffee. When I heard that his book “Trust Agents” needed a launch push and he offered to be a speaker for anyone willing to buy 200 books. I jumped at the chance.  I pulled out my credit card and bam, I had 200 books.

Then the shock set in. How was I going to move 200 books? Well the Nashville tech community came to the rescue.  Lynn Bennett at Stage Post Studios offered to host the event. Social Media Club of Nashville (who JTMarCom is donating some of the proceeds to) has helped promote the event with Jessica Murray and Georgia Cross of SMCNash helping any way they can. And most of all, Chris Brogan and his great mother Diane Brogan have helped pull this all together.

Below is our press release: Three days and counting. I am nervous and excited. We could not have done this without many fine people involved.

It’s not too late to sign up HERE for the live portion of the event and if you live elsewhere please tune in HERE to the  Free Video Web Cast provided by Author’s Way.

RELEASE

In their new New York Times best-selling book, “Trust Agents” co-authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith make the case that the Internet has made it easier than ever to reach your customers.  It’s less likely, however, that they’ll listen.  Today, the most valuable online currency isn’t the dollar, but trust itself.

In the video streaming webinar, Brogan will discuss how social networks and personal connections have far more influence on consumers than a company’s marketing messages ever well –unless your business knows how to harness them.  He will provide valuable insights on how to tap into the power of these networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and profits.

Brogan contends that trust agents aren’t necessarily marketers or salespeople; they’re digitally savvy people who use the Web to humanize businesses using transparency, honesty, and genuine relationships.  As a result, they wield enough online influence to build up or bring down a business’s reputation.

During the first two hours of the webinar (10 a.m. to 12 noon EST), Brogan will discuss how to build profitable relationships with trust agents and his six basic principles for becoming a trust agent yourself.

During the final hour of the webinar (12 noon to 1 p.m. EST), audience members will have the opportunity to pose questions to Brogan  via phone, Twitter and email.  He will respond to as many questions time permitting and will sign books for these individuals.  Brogan’s book and a DVD of the webinar will also be available for purchase to all audience members through Authorsway.com.

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10 Great Social Media Learning Blogs for Beginners and Where to See More!

When I first started this thing called social media, I had no idea where to begin.  As dumb luck would have it, I stumbled across a Mashable post referring to a blog aggregator called Alltop by Guy Kawasaki. This fantastic tool allows you to find blog information about all types of subjects. You can also customize your own page so you can see what interests you. Some of my favorite social media blogs are listed below.

Chris Brogan Community and Social Media

CC Chapman Managing the Gray Podcast-Learn to use Social Media and Emerging  Technologies

Mashable Social Media Guide

ReadWrite Web

Building43

Smart Briefs on Social Media

Social Media Today

Liz Strauss Successful Blogs

123 Social Media

The Harte of Marketing

FeverBee

I hope this helps you as much as it did me. What are your favorite social media blogs? I am always looking to learn.

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Seven steps to turn around a disgruntled client

If you have a disgruntled client, (and we all have!) one who has had a bad experience, what can you do to turn things around? The seven simple steps listed below that can help you turn an unhappy customer into your biggest fan.

Step One:

Empathetic apology. It isn’t sufficient to mumble the word “sorry” and expect it to have a positive effect. Your apology needs to show your customer that you understand how your mistake has negatively impacted his or her life.

Step Two:

Take ownership. You want the customer to understand that you are the person who will fix their problem. Ask the customer what you can do to “make it right”.

Step Three:

If possible fix the problem immediately. Sometimes you can’t fix the problem immediately, in which case you need to show the customer that you’re making a sincere effort to resolve the problem.

Step Four:

Get your customer’s buy in. Asking for the customer’s agreement will ensure that he will be satisfied. With small problems, these four steps should satisfy your customer. But remember — a satisfied customer doesn’t talk about his experience. Now, take the opportunity to add value, so that your customers will talk about how great you are. To do this, you need to take two additional steps.

Step Five:

Atonement. You need to go the extra mile to show that you are truly sorry. A small token can go a long way to ease the pain your mistake caused. Send them a hand written note.

Step Six:

Follow up. This is where you can really shine. After a short period of time, call, e-mail or write your customer and make sure they are satisfied with your efforts. This is also an opportunity to ask for more business and referrals.

Step Seven:

None of the above will work if you are NOT sincerely sorry!

None of these steps take an inordinate amount of time or money, but they can really create delighted customers — customers who will tell stories that promote you to their friends and family.

Source: Pamela Webb, Promotional Consultants Today and Laurie Brown is an international speaker, trainer and consultant who works to help people improve their sales, service and presentation skills. She is the author of The Teleprompter Manual for Executives, Politicians, Broadcasters and Speakers.

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Hello my name is Christine and I have a FEAR of Blogging.

FEAR

FEAR

Ok. The truth is out. As a marketing professional  and social media speaker (who advises clients to blog) I am afraid to do so myself. My husband John is the writer on our team and creates fabulous blog posts, speeches and detailed proposals for clients. I help create the concepts, do the research and design the graphics, etc.  I have been providing useful links on this blog but no original content. I know I need to blog.

Here are the reasons I am scared:

1.  I have slight  dyslexia and tend to get my letters mixed up.

2.  I cannot spell.

3.  I now wear tri-focal glasses and have trouble seeing the computer screen.

4.  Verbal communication comes much more naturally to me.

5.  I read a great deal. Books, papers, blogs . . . so I know what good writing looks like.

6.  I am a “people pleaser” and I am afraid not everyone will like me. (If I do this right, not everyone will.)

7.  Most of all I don’t want to appear stupid.

What am I doing? First I Googled “Fear of Blogging” and found out I am not the only “fraidy-cat” out there. Then I read the posts of some  great informative bloggers such as Chris Brogan, Chris Garrett, and Charles Bohannan.

So, here I am for better or worse. I hope that my ongoing posts on social media marketing and other aspects of marketing will not only help inform others but will help me face my own fear.

What is stopping you?  I’d really like to know. Maybe we can help each other.

Christine

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