Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

“Shine” a Women’s Entrepreneur Conference April 14, 2011


In January I registered to go to “Shine.” It is a women entrepreneur conference held in Dallas. The founder is Ali Brown, a self-described entrepreneurial guru for women. It’s the 1st weekend of November.

I first came across it while researching a client’s blog. Somewhere within Fabulous After 40’s blog posts and comments I stumbled onto conversation about Shine 2010 and it piqued my interest. The event is designed to help women entrepreneurs kick start and inspire one another. After poking around a bit more, I jumped in and signed up.

Three elements that pushed me over the edge to sign up:

  • The monthly payment plan. Instead of diving in with cash to register, I can bill $79/month on my credit card. That was brilliant.
  • Dallas is home to one of my oldest friends, Liz. And I can visit her. (we’ve been friends since Kindergarten) Bam. Double duty value.
  • As an early bird registrant to Shine, I get to bring a friend, for free. Guess who’s coming with me? Yup, Liz.

Since I signed up some of the communication I’ve seen from Ali International has me going “hmm.” She, Ali, is VERY self-promotional. “Buy my DVD set and change your life!” “I’m going to be on TV, don’t miss me!” ” Buy this and I’ll show you the secrets to success!” “Save $50 bucks for a limited time.”  “Don’t miss out!” Not exactly my style.

Most of this is on her Facebook Page. I finally “unliked” it. Her page is set up for one-way communication only. Just her.  If fans want to add a comment to what she says, OK. But a fan can’t just post “Hi” or “What speakers are on tap for Shine 2011?” That goes against the gospel of social, and rubs me the wrong way.

The email communication that has come through about “Shine” has encouraged attendees to go to Facebook and introduce themselves to each other. Except you can’t because we can’t post. I emailed her in February about the disconnect. No response, and no change to the way the Page is set up. And the “I’m selling this!!” posts just kept coming. Hence the “unlike” and the wondering about what’s really going to take place at “Shine.”

There has been an event created on Facebook for Shine, and the women showing up there seem cool. That’s what I’m interested in. Am I still going? Yes. (‘Cause I get to see Liz.) We’ll go to the first day of “Shine” and see what we get. If it’s a huckster fest, Liz and I will bail and turn Dallas upside down. She’s going to take me garage sale-ing, I just know it.

What do you think? Should I be suspicious or am I over reacting?

If you’re curious and want to come along, Liz and I would love partners in our adventure! Even if it ends up being garage sales.




Accomplish Something August 8, 2010

Filed under: Resources — Carla Bobka @ 12:29 pm
Tags: , , ,
Putting Video to Work
In the last couple weeks we’ve looked at tools for making video, and seen how much users love watching them. Video is a tool, not an objective. Now it’s time to explore what you’re trying to accomplish with video.
Like everything else you commit time to, having an objective is key to getting the outcome you want. It is the thing that your videos as a whole, accomplish for your business. Once you define that, the then the topics of your videos begin taking shape. Start by finishing this sentence, “I want our video collection to show people …?” For instance, I use videos to give people a better idea of what kinds of things I help clients with.
Here are some ideas of objectives for your videos:
  • A way to display your expertise.
  • A way to explain the benefits of your business’ solutions.
  • A way to give a face to your business.
  • A way to solve problems lots of customers have.
Ideas of video topics that fulfill the objectives above:
  • Tell the story of customer experience with your service.
  • Introduce a product line.
  • Highlight trends.
  • Simplify the complex.
  • Familiarize customers with a process, product or concept.
  • Tell the story of your community involvement.
  • Show results for customers.
Online video for it’s own sake won’t produce results. Videos made around an objective have a purpose and results follow.

Fear of Bad Stuff June 24, 2010

Filed under: Resources — Carla Bobka @ 11:00 pm
Tags: ,

Coaching | SocialPie’s newsletter; June 25, 2010

Bad stuff happens. Fear of it can keep you frozen in place. Neither one is good, which do you choose: Bad stuff or frozen?

Many companies have avoided social media because they are frozen by fear of bad stuff. Billboards and newspaper ads have no risk of exposure to bad stuff, right? There’s no way for you to hear anything someone says about it. That’s not eliminating bad stuff, it’s staying out of earshot.

What people fear is criticism. Criticism is tough to hear. Our ego gets bruised, and it means there’s room for improvement. Which equates to work.

Let’s talk about bad stuff for a minute. Bad does not equal detrimental – unless you’re a “half empty” type of thinker. Conflict opens the door to opportunity.

Criticism Equations
Hear + ignore = people think poorly of you. Hear + do something = people see you’re interested.

“Do something” does not mean changing everything that gets a comment. Sometimes comments stem from a misperception or a piece of information that the customer didn’t find. Maybe it is buried on the website, or it’s labeled in a confusing way. Maybe there’s a wrinkle in your process that’s causing a problem. Don’t you want to know about that and do something to fix it?

Social media makes it simple and inexpensive to hear those things. When you hear it you can fix it.


  • Criticism happens whether you can hear it or not.
  • You can’t respond to things you don’t hear.
  • Criticism is usually not personal.
  • When criticism is personal, others usually recognize it for what it is.
  • You can’t change everything. You can explain why things are the way they are.
  • Keep your cool – criticism and hostility don’t mix.

Community Pages on Facebook May 27, 2010

Filed under: Ideas,Resources — Carla Bobka @ 2:46 pm
Tags: , ,

(SocialPie’s 5/28/2010 newsletter, sign up here)

Facebook Community Pages give you a jump on the competition.
Over the last month Facebook has made several major changes to their platform. Community pages are an addition. They are a whole new type of Facebook Page. No one owns them. Let’s take a look at how you can use them to improve your business.

How it Works
Community Pages are based around activities people have in common. Examples are “cleaning,” “real estate,” “realtor“, “wine and cheese,” even one for “gynecology.” (Go look, the photo is pretty funny.)  The information on Community Pages are collections of status updates from other Facebook users around the activity. Facebook searches all user status updates for key words associated with an activity. They then add the posts to a stream on the Community Page.

What’s it do for You
Using the Community Page you can get a quick sense of what’s being said on a topic within Facebook, both from friends with non-friends. Even if you aren’t a Facebook user you can get a voyeuristic look of things happening in your industry by looking at what others are saying. Typically, there are 3 tabs on a Community Page: Wall, Info and Related Posts.

Tabs and what they tell you:

  • Wall – basic definition of the Community Page; related posts from your friends (which gives it a personal feel), and a dynamic stream of other people’s posts that mention the key words.
  • Info – includes background on topic like Wikipedia definition;
  • Related Posts – includes posts with the keywords Facebook associates with this activity. For instance, on the real estate page there are posts about seminars people are giving, mortgage related comments, countries where real estate is a main industry, and home listings. It’s capturing and cataloging very recent posts by others based on keywords appearing in the posts. Key words are showing in bold so you can easily learn what words pull to each page.

Find Community Pages
When you search for a topic in the Facebook search box suggestions drop down.

Finding Community Pages in Facebook's search box

If you want to show up in the results on a Community Page, you need to have a Facebook profile. Use the keywords in your Facebook posts, and you’ve got a shot at showing up in the stream. How do you know what the keywords are? Look for the bold words in other people’s posts, use those.

The Future
Each Community Page also has a spot where you can sign up to participate. Facebook has not defined what they are looking for from participants or when they will be ready for participation. If they contact you, let me know, I’d love to follow-up on it.

Is this for you?
It depends (don’t you just love that answer!) Maybe it’s helpful to know what others in your industry are up to. Maybe there’s nothing being said. Maybe you discover the beginning of a new trend your product or service can fill the gap on. The downside – It’s new with lots of unknowns. There are duplicate pages on the same activity-cleaning has 2 pages w/ different amount of fans. Explore knowing it’s imperfect.

My take – Use them for what you can while they are around, it’s free intell to make your business stronger.


* You don’t need to be a Facebook user to read Community Pages
* Within Facebook search, Community Pages show as page type “Activities”
* You can “Like” a Community Page
* Community pages are “read only”
* Once you “Like” a page, you can add a comment to a status that shows in the page’s stream

I’m full. And summer officially starts in a few hours, so wrap things up and head for the nearest grill. If I missed something, let me know.


Why Bother with Facebook May 21, 2010

Filed under: Resources — Carla Bobka @ 6:25 am
Tags: , , , ,
SocialPie newsletter | Facebook | May 21, 2010
Facebook is more popular than porn. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest, after China and India. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Odds are pretty good a portion of those eyeballs belong to your target market. Using Facebook puts you in front of them.
Today we’ll start with an introduction to Facebook basics, personal vs. business pages. The next 4 weeks we’ll explore these Facebook topics:
  • Using Facebook for competitive advantage without being a member
  • Insights about those who “Like” your page
  • Facebook Ads
  • Customizing Facebook
Personal profiles & Business Pages
Every member of Facebook has a personal page. Personal pages are for people and that’s where YOU connect to your real friends. People with businesses can add a Business Page. And people can “Like” your business. (this recently changed from being Fan Pages).
  1. Facebook is free
  2. Businesses cannot use personal profiles to promote themselves. They must build a Business Page from their personal profile. Break the rule and Facebook may shut you down.
  3. People who “Like” your business do not have access to your personal page or your friends’ personal status updates.
  4. “Liker” is not a noun
  5. You can get a “Like Us on Facebook” box to add to your website; for free.
Facebook privacy settings for users have been a hot topic recently. On Tuesday, May 18, Facebook promised to introduce simpler privacy settings. Read more here.
I’m full. Next week: using Facebook for competitive advantage without becoming a member.