Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Distinctive Gardens’ Facebook Big Break from American Express OPEN July 5, 2011

The big city camera crew is freaked out by the grain bin behind them.


If you follow SocialPie at all, by now you probably know an my buddy Lisa and her hubby, Bud, are finalists in AmExOpen’s Big Break for Small Business contest. Big Break’s  final winners (there will be 5 of them) are determined by online voting.  (You can watch their video here and vote for them to win!)


The garden center is owned by Lisa’s husband Bud and Jim Brown, in tiny Dixon, IL. Lisa and I have been friends forever. We met in 4th grade at John Glenn Elementary School in Donahue, Iowa.  Donahue is super-tiny town of 298.


Lisa now lives about 90 minutes from Donahue in Dixon, IL; and I’m outside of Philadelphia.  We reconnected at our class reunion and keep in touch through Facebook.  Mostly through posts on SocialPie’s page, and Facebook Messages.


The adventure that Big Break has brought to Distinctive Gardens has been great. It’s been fun to watch from behind the scene’s with her going through the process, watching them stretch their business in the process. And not surprisingly, Dixon, Il is the tiniest of all the finalists hometowns.


Today’s post captures the timeline of how Distinctive Gardens came to be finalists for AmEx Open’s Big Break.


April 21 ~ “SocialPie” facebook page posts a link to the Big Break competition. Lisa saw the post.


It all started with a SocialPie Facebook post.

April 23 ~ Distinctive Gardens enters the first phase of competition with a written submission answering three questions:

1.Tell us about your business. What makes you excited to come to work every day?

2. How do you envision Facebook impacting your business?

3. How could a Big Break help your business and your customers?

May 25 ~ A call comes informing Distinctive Gardens is a top 40 semi-finalist from over 11,000 entries across the country. Later that night a phone interview is conducted. Both the written and oral submissions then go to a panel of three judges who decide the top 10.

Lisa found out she was a finalist!

June 2 ~ A call comes from Digitas in NYC, informing Distinctive Gardens they are one of the top 10 finalists.

June 10 ~ The Big Break camera crew of  from Boston, NYC, LA, and Chicago converge on Distinctive Gardens and spend an entire day shooting and interviewing to make a 90 second video for the competition. (Vote HERE 🙂  The crew:  Jon,Jerry, Kristyna, Casey and Leif parachute (not really)  into on Dixon IL and eat mounds of homemade cookies.

July 5 ~ Facebook and American Express OPEN launch public voting on the top 10 videos to determine the top 5 winners.


The Prize:  American Express Open has teamed up with Facebook to give 5 small businesses a Facebook business makeover and $25,000 to grow their business. Wish Lisa luck, and go vote (and tell your friends, too) for Distinctive Gardens!



AARP to fuel Facebook Growth June 22, 2011

Filed under: Ideas — Carla Bobka @ 4:47 pm
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My Mom ❤


AllFacebook is predicting the +50 crowd will fuel Facebook’s US growth through 2013.


I’m not so sure. I am sure the +50 set will experiment with Facebook. But I’m not convinced they will become regular users who stick with the platform. Here’s why.


My Mom was on Facebook for a bit.  Now she’s fed up, so she’s never logging in again. She saw too much unattractive stuff about people she was connected with (people she loves.)


Mom is 68, and pretty computer savvy. What she isn’t, is socially liberal. She believes if you don’t have something nice to say you keep your mouth shut. She believes you keep your private stuff (and parts) to yourself. Dirty laundry is for family, not Facebook. In short, she believes in discretion.


When it comes to Facebook, she’s seen too much, and she doesn’t want to see anymore. It’s not that my Mom is naive, it’s that she doesn’t want to know.


On the upside, she did enjoy catching up with friends who live far away and those she hasn’t talked to in years. Like the bridesmaids in her wedding 50 years ago. And exchanging pics of the quilts she makes with her other quilting buddies. That was wonderful. And they still do that, but not on Facebook. Now the do it via email, the way they have for years. There’s less pollution that way. There’s no worries that my 23 year-old cousin’s boobs will show up in her email like they did on Facebook. Or that she’ll find out about just how much her grandkids are drinking in high school. Or that they lied to their parents or played hooky from work.


If Facebook really wants to keep U.S. growth fueled, here are 5 recommendations for them to consider:

  1. Explanation – Better “Intro” for particular age demographics. Explain not just how to connect to anybody, but how to consider who you really want updates from.
  2. Over communicate – Explain the “Block” feature better and more often.
  3. One size does not fit all – Auto-adjust the “Moderation” and “Profanity” filters based on year of birth of the user.
  4. Get image savvy – Upgrade blocklist filtering capabilities to include image filtering, not just words used in text based posts.
  5. Build a bridge – Partner with organizations like AARP to better talk with the +50 crowd.

Any other ideas you can think of?


One Wild Year April 29, 2011


Tomorrow, April 30, 2011, is SocialPie’s anniversary. Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride.

Lots has happened in the last year. Not just with SocialPie, but in every part of life. Here’s a look at handful of milestones:

1. I’ve written 52 newsletters and 142 blog posts.
2. I’ve built 29 Facebook Pages, given 8 speeches and tweeted a bazillion times.
3. SocialPie was hired by real customers to write social media strategies, and I love doing it.
4. I became a Great Aunt.
5. My husband got a job after 18 months of unemployment. He loves it, despite the commute.
6. Our dear friends,Jay and Doreen celebrated their 20st Anniversary. The pic above is from the surprise party we threw them.

Share your story. What happened to you in the last 12 months?




The Sea of Sameness January 21, 2011

Filed under: Ideas,Strategy — Carla Bobka @ 2:01 am
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Moving On January 14, 2011

Filed under: Ideas,Strategy — Carla Bobka @ 8:25 pm
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In the survey on topics readers requested I cover this year, LinkedIn and the job hunt came up. So in the spirit of “ask and you shall receive,” here it is.
Unless you live under a rock, you know the U.S. unemployment rate is at a staggering 9.3%. Chances are, like me, you know at least one person who has been out of a job for more than a year. And you probably also know plenty of people who are underemployed. And a whole slew of folks who are miserable in the job they have.
As the economy warms back up, all those people are going to be looking to make a job change. Many online job application tools allow you to add your LinkedIn profile to your application and resume. It is a terrific way to augment what your resume tells people. And unlike your resume, there’s no 1 or 2 page restriction on you LinkedIn profile. Today I’ve put together some resources you can use to better grasp what LinkedIn can do, and help you learn how to do those things well.
There are so many LinkedIn resources available, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. I am going to point you in the direction of resources I feel are credible.  Before starting SocialPie I worked for a company that specialized in LinkedIn, so I have a lot of experience in the platform. There are plenty of free resources out on the web for you to learn about LinkedIn. In fact, LinkedIn has a wide variety on their own YouTube channel.
Below you will find a list of ideas to help you stand out on LinkedIn and a list of resources to help you use LinkedIn better.
The basics of looking good on LinkedIn:
  1. Polish your profile; It’s not a resume, it’s a summary of your career knowledge. Here are some that are really well written, here. And here. Use them for inspiration.
  2. Polish your picture; Make it professional, make it appropriate for the job you want next. If you’re after a job as negotiator, make yourself look tough. If you are a client liaison, make yourself look approachable. You probably know someone who is a whiz with a camera. Get them to take your picture and do a bit of Photoshop on it. Whiten your teeth, take the pimples off. Whatever – polish it up, it’s your 1st impression.
  3. Job history – include everything since high school. If you don’t know the exact dates, guesstimate. In the description talk about your impact on the business and what you learned from having that job.
  4. Create a network – import your contacts and invite them to connect with you. This is how you see who you know and who they know. It’s vital during an application for a specific job. You can talk to someone who works for a company or used to work for a company.
  5. Join Groups – Groups are great resources whether you’re looking for a job or looking for ideas on a project. There are industry specific groups, trade groups and loosely affiliated groups like GE Alumni. One fantastic group I belong to is Forbes Woman. It is not all women, some men belong as well. Within the group you can ask questions or offer answers to others questions. Forbes Women contains people from all over the world. Join some groups and explore their comment sections. If you don’t like it, unjoin. BTW- this is a great question for networking moments. Ask other people what LinkedIn Groups they get value from.
  6. Q&A – if you want to polish your star as an expert, wade into LinkedIn’s question/answer forum. These questions are for the entire LinkedIn population, not just for a Group’s members. Be helpful, attach relevant links to back up the opinions you express.
  7. Collect recommendations on your profile. Ask people. Remind them of a specific moment in your relationship and what they told you you helped them with. Ask them to frame a recommendation around that moment. When you remind them of the moment you make it easy for them, and they will take the 5 minutes to reply.
  8. Export your profile as a PDF and re-read it. You’ll be amazed at the typos and grammar errors you find by simply looking at it in a different format.
LinkedIn Movies
Here are a handful of YouTube tutorials on job hunting. There are hundreds, so you can watch for hours if your want. If you find one you really like, see if that person has any more in their playlist. The name of the poster is in blue, right beneath the video’s title.
Good luck building your profile. Participating on LinkedIn is worth the effort. Attach your profile 10 minutes at a time. Chunk it out. Ask others to edit for you. Do it for them. Other people describe you better than you’ll describe yourself. Take advantage of that.
One request – make a concerted effort to help those who are unemployed find work. Go out of your way to put their name in front of people you know. You don’t have to vouch for their work, you can just help them market their availability. Trust me, they will appreciate it.

Applebee’s Rocks Social September 28, 2010

From SocialPie videos

Snaps to my local Applebee’s. They are doing a great job promoting where customers can find them on the web.
These fliers were on the hostess desk when we walked in for dinner. They’re cheap and effective. They were printed on regular typing paper on somebody’s printer. They were very nicely cut, not at all sloppy. And that is a key indicator of how they view themselves. (Don’t mess that up.) I couldn’t tell they were thin paper until I touched it.

From SocialPie videos

When we got to the table this coaster sized card was in the table tent holder. Same info, reinforcing the stuff on the little flyer.
The other thing – notice the “text to 32665” “like applebeeskennettsquare.” What better way to get interaction from customers than to give them someway to do it while they wait for their food. Brilliant!


Twitter 101 for Business April 15, 2010

Filed under: Ideas,Resources — Carla Bobka @ 6:52 pm
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Twitter knows it’s really simple platform can be difficult to master. And they know that’s a problem that turns large number of businesses off.

Recipe for Quitting

Twitterettes would like businesses to use it, but know how tough it is to find the time to master something when you are already working half days (whichever 12 hrs you want.) Enter Twitter 101, specifically for business.  Take a look, what do you think. Is it persuasive, does it simplify the mastery? Does it make you want to try? Let me know what you think.