Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.26.53 PMSometimes busy executives can feel overwhelmed with all of the social media channels out there and what’s important and not important to know about. This week I assisted a client who’s re-entering the traditional workforce after years as a self-employed international consultant. In a one-hour session, we navigated the current and ever-changing landscape of digital communications.  This client was given a highly customized one one one tutorial using GoToMeeting (since she’s in D.C. and I’m in Tennessee). Her pre-submitted questions were as follows:

  1. Hashtags – Quite simply a hashtag is a way to “focus in” on a particular topic. It’s a really quick research tool to see what’s trending. One fascinating question that she had for me was “Can you own a hashtag the way you own a domain name?” I told her not to my knowledge and if someone with the same hashtag wants to use it they are certainly free and welcome to do so.
  2. LinkedIn– The client mentioned that her new colleagues immediately invited her to “LinkIn” with them once they knew they were going to be co-workers. Using LinkedIn in today’s business world is as common as a shaking hands. It’s a great way to see a summary of the other person’s credentials. Unlike most other social media channels LinkedIn has slightly more men. She asked why. My thought: Because men are more interested in “the business” (portraying resumes online and building a network) than women who are known to spend more time in relationship building. That’s my theory anyways and I’d welcome your ideas! Of course I showed her LinkedIn groups and shared that there really IS something for every business niche there. In her case starting her own private LinkedIn group (or Facebook group) for some of her key constituents could be a valuable way to stay in touch on a regular basis. It’s also important to give and to ask for written recommendations on LinkedIn. Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.16.43 PM
  3. Twitter– We reviewed the importance of social media tools such as Tweetdeck, Twitter Lists and Hootsuite when keeping up with the ever-flowing river of tweets. I likened twitter to a live mic in a broadcast booth and urged her to view every tweet as a public address. She should use these tools to see what she wants to see when she wants to see it. We talked about the changing demographics of twitter which originally started out as a 35+ channel, until the celebrities jumped on board. Now it is skewing younger. I personally love twitter because it reminds me of the AP “wire machines” that churned out news when I first began my career in broadcast journalism. If you want to know what’s happening in the world today, jump on twitter!
  4. Instagram– Extremely popular with the “tween” set, it’s been great fun for me to watch how the generation who are my son’s age (11/12 year olds) are embracing this social media channel. And they are NOT just posting photos. They are only too eager to make and share a variety of videos and use a variety of video apps to do so . I think what makes Instagram so fun is the fact that there are so few words and it’s all about images (and hashtags of course!)

I suggested she download all of these apps to her mobile devices in order to be able to access these channels on the go. That was a lot to cover in an hour for a re-entering C-Suite Executive. What are some of the things you would discuss or emphasize if you were training an executive on key social media channels and trends?

Continue Reading

MarketingMel served as panel moderator and worked with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

MarketingMel was delighted to moderate and to work with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.


Our #SMAC13 Social Media and Communicators Panel discussion was a success! Many thanks are in order! First, to the panelists: Becky Campbell- Johnson City Press, Josh Smith- WJHL-TV, Eric Vaughn- Wellmont Health System, Rachel Cain- Eastman, and Jennifer Clements-ETSU. Hats off to the team that pulled it off: Jim Wozniak, Rachel Cain, Drew Beamer, Deborah Lowery, Christian Schmid along with myself and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock. Thanks also to many of you loyal blog readers who helped me publicize the event on twitter.

For the first time ever in the Tri-Cities region three professional communications organizations joined together to create one fantastic communications event. Those organizations were: Public Relations Society of America (Northeast Tennessee Chapter), Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation and the Greater Tri-Cities Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The committee’s initial goal was to gather 100 people to listen to a distinguished panel including both journalists and professional corporate communicators. We far exceeded our goal with over 150 business professionals and college students turning out to hear the pro’s. Here are some of the “tweetable highlights” of the panel discussion. I was the panel moderator and it’s hard to pare them down to just a few sentences as most of what they said was valuable. I would love to hear what comments particularly resonate with you.

  1. “Years ago we could only tell you about something that happened today, tomorrow morning…I started out with a notepad and a pen. Today I carry an iPad and shoot video… I’ve been tweeting trial updates from court since 2010.”
  2. “Every person in our newsroom has a Facebook. Every person in our newsroom has a twitter. Everyone in our newsroom is expected to contribute.”
  • Becky Campbell, Johnson City Press reporter
  1. “It was always there (our immediate desire for news.) I have found our viewers are far less patient than they ever were. We have higher expectations now. People always have wanted information. Now we have to keep up with the demands of our audience.”
  2. “You don’t get angry on social media. You don’t respond angrily. That can cause you to lose your job. And that has happened in this market.”
  • Josh Smith WJHL-TV Anchorman
  1. “In health care we deal with people in the most personal moments. The issue that we face is because of regulations we cannot point to anything personal about a patient.”
  2. “You need to have a specific strategy in place and apply to the audience you are looking for. You have to have a specific goal that you are trying to accomplish.”
  • Eric Vaughn, Wellmont Health Systems
  1. “There is no one size fits all. If you are on social media you should have a strategy. Make sure everything you do is measurable. We measure leads generated, how many of those leads are qualified. As many things as you can track, how many go from social media to your web site and then convert on your web site. Something solid to start tracking on an excel spread sheet.
  2. “You have to be able and willing to fail in social media. Track lessons learned. Strategy is about what you’re saying and to whom and where they are.”
  3. “I don’t think that any business can afford to not be on social media anymore.”
  • Rachel Cain, Eastman/Perennial Wood
  1. “Social Media gives us the opportunity to listen to what’s going on on campus and it gives us the opportunity to communicate with our audience.”
  2. “When an emergency happens our students and staff turn to social media to find out what is going on.”
  3. “If you’re applying for jobs show how you’ve built a brand for yourself or for your company; not just that you’re on Facebook.”
  • Jennifer Clements, East Tennessee State University (ETSU)

To watch the #SMAC13 video to to hear all of what these distinguished panelists had to say, click on “watch the event video” on the #SMAC13 website.


Continue Reading

Digital Strategist Crawford Miller shared great tips and free resources with Ad Club.

Digital Strategist Crawford Miller shared great tips and free resources with Ad Club.

Crawford Miller, Digital Strategist for Centro in Birmingham, recently spoke to our Northeast Tennessee Ad Club luncheon. Crawford has worked with high-profile clients such as FedEx, Regions Bank, State Farm, and Indiana Tourism. Not only did I enjoy his presentation and learn a lot from Crawford, but I corresponded with him afterward to glean “the best of” from his talk in order to share those resources with you.

  1. Here are some of his favorite sites for advertising content and marketing. One of the most interesting concepts is that of  “native advertising,” a term used to describe content that behaves more like what we public relations pro’s once called “advertorials.” It is generally the content that is selected for us (based on our profiles) and fed to us in our news feeds, etc. (Anyone on Facebook or twitter is familiar with this concept, perhaps without knowing the exact terminology.) You can learn more at this great advertising related podcast resource: http://www.thebeancast.com/
  2. A terrifically fun web site for looking up advertising on any major brand is moat.com. Just plug in your favorite big brand and a plethora of advertising appears. http://www.moat.com/  The best part is it shows you where and when the ad was last displayed. (Frankly a search on “Starbucks” made me crave a passion tea!) Three other of Crawford’s favorite resources are: (quotes are his descriptions):
  3. http://www.ghostery.com/ – Who’s tracking your online data and why? (Aside from the NSA of course!) Crawford says this site “allows you to see tracking pixels on web pages.”
  4. http://www.digiday.com/ – Crawford calls this the “best natural digital new resource – covers all sides.”
  5. http://www.lumapartners.com/resource-center/- A great “big picture” resource for consumer, advertising and media landscape. According to Luma, they map “the digital media ecosystem — how it works and where it’s going.” Nice graphic displays.

What are some of your favorite free resources and tools for advertising and marketing? Please share them with us here.



Continue Reading


Editor’s note: The following blog post was written by MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler. (Sarah and Mel tried out the Vine app in the lobby of  WJCW Radio last month before going on the air to talk about social media trends.)

Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler at the Tri-Cities PRSA awards.

Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler at the Tri-Cities TN/VA PRSA awards.

You can break a bull riding record, cross three state lines or experience an amazing “he’s the one” kiss. You can also post your adorable toddler’s toe-tapping hoe-down to international acclaim.

Now Twitter founders have introduced a way to capture these six second memories and share them! Vine, an app that allows users to shoot, combine and loop video is now the #1 app on iTunes. This app is quickly becoming the preferred outlet of social interaction amongst young adults and teens. However, large corporations and brands are jumping on the bandwagon as well.

But here’s the real question: Can brands tell their full story in six seconds? Maybe not the full narrative, but it is a  definite way to get a person intrigued. Including Vine in your marketing plan can increase brand awareness and add some personality to your updates and news. While a Vine video is only one-fifth of a typical commercial, it can generate buzz to a specific audience that would otherwise ignore alternative media outlets.

Which brings me to my next question: With apps such as Vine, Snapchat and Twitter, delivering information in a such a quick and effortless way is becoming the norm. What does that mean for the future of print media? Are our short attention spans going to change the process of how we get our news? What do you  think?

Continue Reading

MarketingMel Discussing Personal Branding with REALTORS

MarketingMel Discussing Personal Branding with REALTORS

What are your New Year’s resolutions? When I conducted some video “man-on-the-street” interviews people fell into a couple of categories:

1- People who do not like to talk about resolutions. Most likely it’s because they remind them of broken promises but I’m going to share with you some tips you can act on right away and feel good about yourself in the New Year!

2- People don’t want to talk on camera. Some people obsess about their clothes, hair, make-up, etc. (This goes for men as well as women.) I created an award-winning video on “Ten Tips to Feel Comfortable on Camera” that can help you feel better on camera in the New Year.

No matter how you feel about resolutions, this is a great time of year to assess our personal brand. What we can do to better ourselves in 2013? Here are some tips to help you. I’ll be sharing more on personal branding as a speaker at the SoloPR Summit in Atlanta in February 2013. Hope you can join us!

  1. Google yourself– What do you find? Is it fresh? Is it negative? Does it need a PR boost?
  2. Does your image transfer to mobile? With more cell phones than toothbrushes in the world people will be on their phones more than ever in 2013. I recently optimized this site for mobile. You can check out your sites mobile likability by running it through http://www.mobilegrader.com/
  3. Who is your target audience? What communications channels are they using? Do you have your elevator speech planned for the next time you bump into Future Big Client X?
  4. How do you plan to promote your brand in 2013? Through guest media appearances? Your blog? Podcasts? Social media? Your e-mail signature? Video?
  5. Do you have an editorial calendar planned for 2013? Remember, you are a publisher. Now is the time to think seasonal and timely in your future writing and publishing. I posted a few social media calendar examples on the MarketingMel P.R. Facebook business page.

All the best of luck to you in 2013 and remember, your personal brand is always with you!

Continue Reading


We are “connected” 365 days, 24/7

This week I chatted with Steve Hawkins of WFHG -Super Talk Radio about what to be working on at the end of the year and where we’re heading in 2013.

Here two items I identified: One, to be working on now and the second, looking forward to the year ahead.

1- Strategic planning: It’s the time of year for strategic planning. Part of that should include a social media calendar for next year. Here is a link to my Facebook page that include a great post by SoloPR pro Kellye Crane on social media calendars including free resources. I hope this helps you in your personal brand planning.

2- Mobile Marketing: Last week I had the privilege of attending a mobile marketing workshop put on by the Virginia Department of Business Assistance and my friend, Sandy Ratliff. Sandy gave some of the most amazing tips! Here are just a few:

  • There are seven billion people on the planet and six billion of those have mobile devices.
  • There are more mobile phones on the planet than toothbrushes! Now that’s something to think about!
  • There are five times more mobile phones than laptops and computers
  • There are 300 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. (The U.S. population is 313 million.)
  • 91% of people keep their phones within three feet of themselves 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Our attention spans are now just seven seconds long!

The implications for mobile and the future of mobile are huge! If you have a web site be sure it is mobile compatible. Sandy gave us a helpful url to see how your web site ranks on its mobile compatibility. (I know I am working on my site right now to make it even more mobile friendly!) You can listen to the podcast of our entire interview here.

What are some of the top trends you’re seeing for the New Year? I’ll share more predictions for 2013 trends in the coming weeks.
photo credit: prosto photos via photopin cc

Continue Reading


Rick Roll’D and other scams

If you spend anytime on Facebook sooner or later you or a friend of yours is going to get hacked. Just last week a friend of mine, Carly Johnson, a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty in Johnson City got hacked on her personal Facebook page. I found out because I received what seemed like a very odd message from Carly on Facebook. The note seemed so out of character for Carly that I immediately messaged her  asking if the note was really from her. Carly and two of our region’s finest I.T. gurus have provided me with this information in order to keep this from happening to you!

MarketingMel: Carly, tell us what happened.

Carly Johnson: Last Monday, I received a text from a friend asking if I had sent him a Facebook message regarding a picture he needed to look at. Almost instantly, I received a similar text from another friend, and then my iPhone began showing several Facebook notifications of friends sending messages saying they were unable to find the picture. I went into my account, only to find that it appeared as if I had sent this message to every single Facebook friend. “hey, go to album32 dot com and search for “name of friend” then click on the first photo. I bet you didn’t remember that, eh?” I knew I did not send the message, so I began responding as quickly as possible to every friend who messaged or texted me to make sure they did not try to go there. After sending about 20 messages, I decided to update my status to alert people that I did not send the message and that they should not do as requested. Thankfully, Marcus Ledbetter saw my post and posted that it was a phishing scheme designed to steal passwords.

MarketingMel: Carly, what have you learned from this?

Carly: I changed my passwords on as many different accounts as I could think of, and I updated my status again to alert others that they may need to change their passwords as well. I continued to send messages to friends who were responding throughout the evening, and some are still trickling in. The terrible part is that the message is authentic looking enough to make people think it is from the supposed sender. Unfortunately several of my friends attempted to view the picture and put their passwords in. I have been trying to determine exactly how my account was hacked, and I cannot even remember a time that I clicked on anything unusual. That just means that it is way too easy for them to get in.

MarketingMel: Carly, any takeaways for others?

Carly: I am on high alert now and am being overly selective with regards to my accounts. One lesson I definitely learned from this experience is not to have the same password for multiple accounts. If I had used the same password for my bank account, it would have been very easy for them to research my account to find out where I bank, and they would have known my password. Lastly, it saddens me that people who have the intelligence to make a scheme like this one work, would not have a desire to help others instead of stealing and making people’s lives difficult.”

MarketingMel: Marcus, what is your advice as an IT professional and Director of Operations at ITD Interactive?

Marcus Ledbetter: The key is – while your bank and other important accounts have good security measures in place to stop the brute force intrusions (brute force is where they basically have a program that just guesses as many passwords as it can in hopes that one of them gets in). Twitter does not.  Facebook pages get hacked all the time though – and folks that I’ve talked to that have gotten hacked often have simple passwords: names of their kids, pets, whatever. To make matters worse, people often use the same passwords, or variations of the same password, for all their online accounts. This is the big problem – while getting your Facebook page hacked can be annoying, and sometimes embarrassing, the real danger is if the password they used for Facebook also works for your email login. If they can get into your email account they can often get into bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc. They can request password resets and often get around security questions using info they learn sifting through your Facebook information. maiden names, past addresses, etc. It can snowball very quickly.

Then I sought the advice of my I.T. professional, Andy Mitchell of Holston IT.

MarketingMel: Andy, can you tell me what you tell your clients so they can protect their passwords on Facebook and elsewhere?

Andy Mitchell: The best advice I can give you about passwords would be a few simple rules.

  1. Your password should be over 12 characters in length.
  2. It should contain Upper & Lower case Letters, Numbers, and special characters such as ! @ # $ % ^ & *
  3. It should not contain words or phrases.
  4. NEVER USE THE SAME PASSWORD TWICE!  Each login needs its own password.
  5. Do not save your passwords when prompted. Always type them in.
  6. Change your passwords OFTEN.  Every 30-90 days depending on how important they are to you.


Another school of thought is to use several common words that have nothing to do with each other to create a really long password.

IE:  pinkhorsesummersnowflaketennessee

MarketingMel: How do you avoid phishing attempts?


  1. Never click on a link in an email.  If you hover your mouse pointer over the link it will either pop up and show you the hidden URL or it will show in your browser at the bottom left.
  2. Copy Past the link if you must.  This will copy the text you see and not the hidden hyperlink. Only do this if you are sure the link is safe.
  3. Manually typing it into your browser is another alternative. Again only if you know the link is safe.

Here is an example of what I describe above.


If you copy past it you’ll get my website.  Click on it and well…..

  • Generally I only click a link in an email when I requested a password reset, or need to activate a new account.  Otherwise I go to the website and log in the normal way rather than taking the shortcut presented in the email.
  • Keep Adobe Flash and Java updated.  Check them at least every 30 days even if they are set to update automatically.  Java exploits are one of the top sources of computer viruses.
  • Finally, Install Firefox and the Adblock-plus Add-On.  This will strip most advertisements from webpages and online videos.  This goes a long way to help you avoid confusion.  Not to mention it is nice browsing without those annoying commercials.

Many thanks to Carly for sharing a story that could happen to any of us and to Marcus and Andy for providing solutions that we hope will help keep all of us a bit safer! Please share your stories here with us along with any tips you have for preventing these things from happening! 

photo credit: DavidDMuir via photopin cc

Continue Reading


Image by Mario Sundar

Editor’s note: The following is a guest blog written by Jon Moss. Jon and I first connected on twitter and then “IRL” while having coffee at Social Slam 2011. We re-connected after his excellent LinkedIn presentation at Social Slam 2012.

“Are you IN?” That was the question I asked attendees at Social Slam 2012. While a lot of people who embrace social media as a means of marketing may be on LinkedIn – meaning they have a profile – the percentage of those who actually dive in and use the myriad of features it offers is far less.

One of the misconceptions about LinkedIn is it’s for finding a job, or posting a resume or profile. While it does offer robust features to accomplish all that, it is so much more. Let’s take a look at some of what it can do for you.

1. SEO-ize Yourself
Back when I was learning of the importance of ranking high in Google searches I realized I had a problem. When searching my name pictures of Boy George always came up on page one. Turned out we had something in common. The drummer for Culture Club (Boy George’s boyfriend at the time), and I shared the same name.

One had to go several pages deep into Google before anything related to me came up. Not good. What was good for me was that LinkedIn profiles rank very high in search. Thank you LinkedIn for putting me back on page one of Google! To borrow from a Culture Club song, “I’ll tumble for ya, LinkedIn”

2. See Who’s Checking You Out
LinkedIn has a cool feature that allows you to see who’s recently looked at your profile. Sure it may seem creepy, but it’s so cool when thinking about what you can do with that information. Imagine you’ve been trying to get in the door with a certain company only to find out they’re checking you out. How about you sent your resume off to a recruiter and now they’re reviewing your profile. A well thought out email or phone call while you’re fresh in their mind could do the trick.

Just keep in mind this works in reverse too. People can see when you’ve been looking at their profiles so be careful when stalking your competition! There are ways to go around this though. You can disable the feature in settings, but you lose the ability to see who’s looking at you. For now, when you browse people from the smartphone app, LinkedIn does not register that you’ve looked at their profile.

3. Signal & LinkedIn Today
Get news on your sector aggregated by your industry connections. It’s like an online industry publication crowd sourced by your peers. Keep tabs on people in your network. Reach out to them when appropriate. If information is power, then this is your source.

4. Groups
Places for like minded professionals to hang out. Most flock to groups geared towards their industry, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Go deeper by diving into groups where your customers hang out. If you sell insurance to doctors how many leads do you think are waiting for you in the “Underwriters of America” group? Got the point? Now get yourself into the groups where they hang, but don’t jump in and start selling. Restrain yourself young salesbuck. Get a feel for the group. Respond to questions by others when you have something of value to add.

Groups can be industry specific, geographic in nature, or centered around activities. Whether avocation or hobby, find the ones where the people you want to meet are in. If you can’t find a group that tailors to a specific group, go ahead and create it yourself. As a group administrator you’ll be in a better position to connect with members.

5. Company Profile
You have a profile on LinkedIn, and your company can have one too. Like Facebook Pages, an LI company profile lets you post products and services, have customers provide reviews/ratings and make recommendations. It’s a great space to claim. People are researching companies just like they are people on LinkedIn nowadays.

6. Pimp Your Blog
Want more exposure for your blog? Pin it on your LinkedIn profile. Imagine all that good stuff you’re writing being seen by everyone checking you out LinkedIn. A prospect quickly comes to realize you’re the expert they’ve been looking for. Your future employer see you’ve got a knack for writing. A competitor realizes they can no longer compete with you and throws in the towel. You are still blogging, right?

7. Add Video
If only you could add video to your LinkedIn profile, then you could show everyone how awesome you really are. Wait, you can. The technology is available. Queue theme from The Six Million Dollar Man. It just takes adding the Slideshare application and embedding a YouTube video. You do have a YouTube channel, no?

8. Answers
This could very well be the most overlooked feature on LinkedIn. Imagine a place where you can have your questions answered by professionals anxious to display their depth of knowledge. Why pay $300 an hour for legal advice when you can get it for free on LinkedIn?

We’re not talking random generic answers, rather insightful thought out responses to your questions. LinkedIn Answers ingeniously allows professionals to ask and answer questions on a wide variety of topics. I know what you’re thinking. Why would someone bend over backwards to give “free” advice to someone they’ve never met before?

When you provide an answer, the “asker” of the question gets to pick who they felt gave the best answer. LinkedIn, in return, awards a “star” to the “askee” for providing the best answer. Earn enough stars and you show up as an expert in that particular topic.

I can personally attest to the power of having lots of stars having picked up new clients by demonstrating expertise, having my competition actually recommending me, and receiving phone calls from national publications wanting to interview me all because of the answers I gave to questions on LinkedIn.

9. Don’t Cross The Streams
On the surface it seemed like a good idea. Connect your Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn, post to one and you’re done. Right? Wrong!  Don’t do it. LinkedIn is the only platform that’s strictly business. Leave the puppies, the Instagrams of your lunch and everything else you wouldn’t share in person with your employer, client or prospect at the door. Muddy your LI status with hashtags and Foursquare checkins and risk losing relevance. If you don’t believe me, listen to these experts.

10. Go Mobile
LinkedIn’s iOS apps are amazing. With calendar integration the iPad app could become the killer app from which to run one’s schedule. If you’re in sales or run a business, chances are you’re not chained to desk. Packed full of features, the LI mobile apps let you carry your network on the go. Lose the Rolodex, and get down to business with real information at your fingertips. Anywhere. Anytime.

Final Thoughts
It’s amazing when I think back years ago when my company paid thousands of dollars to Dun & Bradstreet and Hoovers for access to business information and personnel. A lot of it is now available for free thanks to LinkedIn. Gold awaits those who seek it. Are you ready to go mining?

So there you have it. Some features of LinkedIn you may have missed. It’s not just the oldest social networking platform, it’s the most powerful in terms of business and professional networking — for those wanting to get down to business.

Here’s video of the presentation and slideshow I did at Social Slam – http://mmlabs.biz/2012/05/talking-linkedin-at-social-slam-2012/

Jon Moss


When he’s not infusing new media with marketing ideas at Moss Media Labs, Jon Moss can be found fiddling with the latest gadgets and mobile apps. Available by email at  or via Twitter @jonfmoss

Continue Reading