There are a few things I don’t understand about Valentine’s Day:

  • Why does there have to be a gift?
  • Why is the gift-giving more expected of the man?
  • Why is a brand new gift valued more highly than a used one?
  • And why is Valentine's just... a Day? 
  • Shouldn't we express our love all year?

I love my husband more than anything else in the world

— but I don’t need somebody to tell me that Valentine’s day is the one day to celebrate it.


And I especially don't like the idea that I'm required to buy my sweetie something to prove that I love him.


A day that is intended to celebrate romantic love has become yet another a day of commerce — it's never sat right with me, so my husband and I never buy each other anything on Valentine's day (nor celebrate it).


But I don’t like complaining either. I like solutions!


So here are my 5 ideas for things you can do on Valentine’s Day to celebrate your love and make it last all year.

5 Ideas for a Commercial-Free Valentines Day:

1. A heartfelt, old-fashioned love letter. On paper. Express your love in so many words.




2. A home-cooked meal. Candles. A nice bottle of wine. Music.




3. A home-made experience like a personal massage. A fort with candles inside? Or more radical, no criticism for one day :-).


4. Take over your honey’s dreaded chores for a day (e.g. clean the house, take out the garbage, walk the dog, wash the cat, pay the bills online).




5. Create your sweetie’s perfect day around their hobbies: go for a bike ride, binge-watch their favorite TV show (or even sports), lounge around the house doing nothing.


couples snuggies


6. Extra Bonus Idea: Help your loved one declutter things they don’t need by posting their stuff on Yerdle. This is what I did recently: check out all these books my husband parted with for me to share on Yerdle! His home office has never looked better, and he's grateful to have more space. Win-win!


Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.29.00 PM

Does love require material gifts?


Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s easy for me to love. It’s about being grateful, getting together with people you love and - best of all - food.

No gifts, no pressure, pure pleasure.


Christmas on the other hand has spiraled out of control with the shopping season starting earlier every year. Maybe soon there will be Christmas promotions all year round? But I am getting a bit off track here. Back to Valentine’s Day.

Let me take a step back.


For me, Valentine’s Day reflects greater issues in society:


I, for one, would much rather be paid equal wages than to have a man hold a door open for me. I can open my own door. Give me equal opportunity in everyday life and I will feel respected. I don’t need a token gesture that makes me the weaker ***.

You don’t have to agree with me. In the same vein, it appears that males still have to make restaurant reservations, pay for dinner and buy gifts like jewelry for the partners for Valentine’s Day. Maybe the Millennials have more equal relationships (I hope so), but in Generation X, that’s what I see.

There are many many ways to show love…. My husband and I try to show each other love every single day of our lives, with small or big acts of love. Last weekend, for example, Allan spent hours cleaning out his book shelf so I could Yerdle his stuff.

Now that’s love.


Happy Yerdling!


Get $35 in Credits when you sign up for Yerdle with my URL.

wine in lingere


Last week I unveiled my quest to get everything I needed for one year on Yerdle. That means buying * nothing * new.


A lot of my friends asked… “Wait… NOTHING new? What about the essentials!?”


It’s true - wine is a pretty important staple. So is medicine, and clean underwear.

So I thought I should put together a list of what I am allowed to buy. #Y4Y Exclusions:


1. Food (I'm not going "freegan" yet!)

2. Medication

3. Sanitary Needs (Yes, I plan to shower)

4. Healthcare

5. Cat food & needs (my cat Skye did not sign up for #Y4Y)

6. Electricity, Gas, Utilities

7. Household items (like cleaning products)

8. Plants, rocks, mulch etc. for the garden

9. Donations to non-profits

10. Underwear (I don't really believe in wearing other people's underwear... yet)


11. Computer/Software for business hipster-ariel-meme-generator-hold-up-i-really-need-a-massage-fa7ab4

12. Ergonomic Shoes (I have a creaky knee that gets mad at me if I wear non-ergonomic shoes)

13. Phone (need latest version for social media biz)

14. Office Supplies / Printer Paper

15. Services: Haircuts, Yoga, Massages

16. Travel (plane tickets, hotels etc.)

17. Wine !!!

18. Car repairs

19. Crowdfunding, e.g. Indiegogo, Kickstarter.


Of course I am hoping to fulfill my needs on this list as much as I can from Yerdle. But, being the detail-oriented German woman that I am, I knew I needed to make a complete list of exemptions just in case. If you have any cat food, wine or garden mulch you want to Yerdle to me, let's talk!


I also got questions about what things my husband would be allowed to buy.

Could he give me gifts?


The answer is: No. He can’t just go and buy me things that I need or want.

That would not make sense. But he is allowed to get me a gift at a special occasion, like for my birthday.

I’m almost one month in - How is it going so far?


I am delighted to say that Yerdling has started to trickle into my day-to-day life:


  • I’ve made friends with Sean, the Iranian gentleman at my favorite UPS store where I drop off my Yerdle packages.
  • Multiple friends emailed me, sharing their joy of Yerdling.
  • My first blog, announcing Y4Y received 30 encouraging comments from old and new friends.
  • I have been offered opportunities to declutter people’s homes and garages from Silicon Valley Mendocino. My first declutter mission is scheduled for February 16th - let's see how it goes!


Next week I'll dive into how not buying anything when I'm out and about with friends has affected my life so far... the good and the bad.


Until then! Happy Yerdling!


Get $35 in Credits when you sign up for Yerdle with my URL.

Social Media is like New York - It Never Sleeps. But You Should.
This guest blog was written by Petra Neiger, CEO & founder of Red Pantz. Her mission is to help improve the well-being of leaders and teams, which she has been able to observe first hand as a business executive in Silicon Valley.
She is also one of my (social media) marketing inspirations.
Creative Commons License via
Photo: Creative Commons License via

Social Media is like New York - It Never Sleeps. But You Should.


Several years ago when social media was still shiny and new, I spoke about best practices at an event in New York. During my presentation, I pointed out that “Social media is like New York City - it never sleeps.” Fast forward to today and social media continues to never sleep – somewhere, someone is always talking. But that doesn’t mean that you should trade in your bed. In a world that’s always connected, taking care of ourselves is ever so important.

If you love social media, you probably find yourself glued to your phone – or whatever device you use - a lot. Maybe it’s your last act of the day before you go to sleep. It’s in our best long-term interest to break this habit– pronto.


Here’s why:

1. Let your body complete the cleansing process

This is the time when your body and mind assimilate the foods you ate, and thoughts and emotions you experienced during the day. You know the saying: “you are what you eat”, but in reality, “you are what you assimilate”. So let your body assimilate and eliminate by letting your liver and other organs do their work at night.


2. Recharge your brain

Our brains need us to sleep to be able to perform important functions. Eastern medicine has been saying for thousands of years that this is the time your brain takes out its trash. And finally, Western medicine has found proofthat your brain’s trash disposal system kicks into full gear at night.


3. Keep yourself healthy

When you let your system get rid of toxins at night, you’re helping your muscles, bones and organs to repair themselves, and boost immunity.


Creative Commons Licsense via


Photo: Creative Commons Licsense via


4. Boost your performance

If you wake up tired the next day, you can’t do your best. Not to mention increased irritability and stress can put a strain on your relationships at work and at home. Especially if lack of sleep is an ongoing challenge.


10 Tips to Reduce Insomnia

Our habits during the day, and especially in the evening affect the quality and quantity of our sleep. Before you reach for a sleeping pill, consider some of these lifestyle options:


  • Avoid caffeine after lunch


Creative Common License via


Creative Common License via


  • Finish dinner at least 2 hours before bed time
  • Eat your biggest meal during lunch time instead of dinner time
  • Drink a cup of warm milk with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (just a pinch!) or 2-3 threads of saffron in the evening
  • Stop working at least 2 hours before bed time
  • Turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed time
  • Avoid electronics and blue light in your room
  • Be in bed by 10pm
  • Meditate before falling asleep
  • Wake up every day at the same time (even on weekends)


If you’re scratching your head as you read through this list, fear not, you’re not alone. In our always-connected world, reading on our iPads before going to bed and checking emails one last time have become the norm. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good things that come with technology - it helps us stay connected in different ways. We just need to be mindful of where, how and for how long we use it each day. Let's start today.

Power off and good night, everyone! Many thanks to Della Davis at Mount Madonna Institute for her edits.Thank you to Petra Neiger for sharing this blog.

About Petra Neiger & Red Pantz
Petra is Sr. Director, Integrated Marketing at Polycom. Prior to joining Polycom, she oversaw a global team that managed digital, social and traditional communications at Siemens Healthcare as well as held several social and digital marketing positions at Cisco.
She has an MBA and is pursuing her Masters degree in Ayurveda, a form of holistic medicine. She is also a certified health practitioner and a yoga teacher. She recently launched her new adventure, Red Pantz, with the mission to help improve the well-being of leaders and teams. Petra's goal is to provide her clients tools and methods to create a healthy environment for themselves and others around them - #OnePantzAtATime. @petra140

I made a New Year’s resolution this year: buy nothing new and get what I need exclusively on Yerdle for a full year.


I’m calling it “The Y4Y Challenge”: Yerdle for a Year!


What exactly does Y4Y mean?


No more brand new jackets. No more impulse buys. No more Amazon “let’s see what new gadgets are out there” indulgences.

None of that.


No More Amazon


Instead, my exclusive source for material goods in 2015 will be Yerdle.


If I decide I need something, I’ll have to post things I already own on Yerdle in order to earn Yerdle Credits to shop for what I want. Yes, I have to barter.

And what if I run out of stuff to post?


I may have to ask friends and family for their unwanted things — I’ll become a sort of pied piper for unwanted things, calling them out of their idle closets or drawers and getting them back into use. It will surely be a journey, and I invite everyone following it to join me and help me do this. I expect it to get harder as time progresses. It will test my commitment to my values. I might even make a mistake and buy something new at some point (noooo!). But I hope to use the whole experience as a vehicle to explore my own relationship to stuff and sustainability, and to examine broader trends in behavioral science, the sharing economy and reuse. I’m actually very excited about it.


But back to the reality of today… How’s the Y4Y challenge going? So far, so good. (Yes, ok, only 3 weeks in).

I really like fashion and nice clothing. And I like having a modern and stylish house and garden with “cool stuff”. And electronic gadgets.  So far, I have satisfied my cravings on periodic shopping trips to malls (which I hate) and second hand stores. I like having new things but not shopping for them.

As I run my social media marketing consultancy for a living, I get to work a lot from my home office. This has cut down on my need for fancy suits (hello, Hugo Boss). But as I do need to look presentable when I visit my clients in person, we will see how that works out.

I started doing yoga to de-stress, became a teacher and now teach 2-3 yoga classes a week. I am also a big big fan of meditation and the mindfulness movement. I truly believe that we are all connected in this Universe and we have an obligation to take care of this beautiful world around us. Hence, #reuse, #recycling, and #sustainability matter to me.


I met my husband in a bar in Palo Alto. He thinks I’m a little crazy for Yerdling so much, and he prefers to buy things new. We’ll se if I can change his mind a bit this year.

Why did I decide to do this?

I was introduced to Yerdle during a presentation on the collaborative economy, installed the app, and the rest is history. This was in April 2014.

Yerdle says that: “The north star goal of Yerdle is to make sharing the new shopping.” 

Their mission: “Reduce the number of new items purchased by 25%.”


Yerdle is the new shopping

That sounds great, right? But if you’ve watched the HBO series Silicon Valley or have lived in Silicon Valley for a while like me, you know that every company here wants to make the world a better place. Yes, living here, I have developed a healthy dose of suspicion and cynicism.

Is Yerdle for real?

As every self-respecting social media person would do, I took to Google to research Yerdle. I learned that Patagonia, a company I admire, had just become a Yerdle investor which gave me trust. Yerdle are also a B Corporation.


Soon after, I got invited to the Yerdle HQ in San Francisco for a Pro Yerdler meeting. Imagine my surprise when some of the Yerdle team actually seemed to know me, mainly from my social media conversations about Yerdle on Twitter and Facebook. Especially Rachel Barge made me feel very welcome.

Adam Werbach

Yerdle Co-Founder Adam Werbach spoke about the virtues of reuse and sustainability, as well as the future of Yerdle. I had to check out if he was for real. According to Adam’s Wikipedia page, he was elected as the youngest national president of the Sierra Club and has otherwise been engaged with organizations like GreenPeace.

Being blond but not a dummy, I understand that convictions are good but that it takes more to run a successful business.

Does Yerdle have what it takes?

Adam Werbach once founded and lead the SF-based sustainability consultancy firm Act Now that was later acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi and is now called Saatchi & Saatchi S. Adam’s convictions were questioned by some when Act Now provided sustainability consulting to Wal-Mart. Something I hope I can ask him about some time. I generally think it’s good to try to achieve change vs. just complain.

The other Yerdle co-founder is Andy Ruben, who used to work at Wal-Mart as their CSO and I am giving him the credit of the doubt that he has seen the light also, as he now, obviously, works at Yerdle. I like to believe he was trying to make Wal-mart more sustainable.  I don’t shop at Wal-mart or eat at McDonalds, but as many do, it seems better to make these companies better than to ignore them completely.

Let’s Go

At the end of 2015, if I have not put my blog readers to sleep (or there are none), I hope to write a book about the experience.

Yerdle Monster Orange

Please accompany me along the journey!

Happy Yerdling!



Get $35 in Credits when you sign up for Yerdle with my URL.

I recently touched on the growing relevance of Google's Knowledge Graph on my post about SERP impressions. As of last week, links to social profiles now appear in the knowledge graph box for corporate brands.


SAP SERP KG Jan 2015.JPGThere was a Tweet with a blog post link about this late last week and I had to see it for myself.  Sure enough, Google had made yet another enhancement to it's search results page in the Knowledge Graph.


It was a bit of a false start (The FB link went to some Vietnamese Foodie group for the first two days) but all in all very interesting that Google would want to show these link so prominently and not just within search results beforehand.


The first thing that came to mind were regulatory and legal considerations.  Various authorities have been after Google services for a few years now, accusing it of abusing it's power to unfairly take advantage of the playing field. I suppose showing rival social networks alongside Google+ and YouTube (another Google company) will make things seem more fair and call off any more heat on the subject.  By the way, a link to YouTube doesn't always appear: I've seen it more often via mobile search.


Next, showing all of these links (5+) could also Google responding to increased searches for these channels: over the past couple of years, the search engine has been pretty good at showing answers to common or and popular queries within the search results.  Sometimes the results are their even before you ask for them, such as why searching for a common retailer will often retrieve a map with nearby locations displayed in the knowledge graph.


SEO wise, placing the links in the knowledge graph enhances the search results: there are only 10 results per page and a few of those slots are now freed up so that website content can take their place.


So, give it a try: Google your companies name to see if the channels appears or not in the knowledge graph.  If they do, make sure they're the right links and use the nifty feedback module (bottom right) to suggest a correction!  If they don't appear or the list is incomplete, check out this post: Social Media on Knowledge Graph- Learn How to ADD Here | Beanstalk Internet Marketing

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 2.54.13 PM

Do you own social media channels?

Think again, chances are you are simple renting a presence but somebody else is making the rules. Hence, one of the trends in social media marketing in 2015 is a turn to truly owned vs. rented social channels.


Evidence #1:


In a hotly debated report, Nate Elliott, a Forrester Research analyst stated that:

“Facebook will become nothing but a repository for display ads”.


Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 2.55.21 PM

What caused him to make such a contentious statement?


According to Mr. Elliott, top brands’ Facebook and Twitter posts only reach around 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers actually interact with each post on average.


And recent FB tweakts have made it even less likely that brands unpaid posts will actually be seen by users. As a result, marketers hoping to interact with consumers online  might be better off investing in social features that exist on their own websites, or in smaller, more niche social networks, Mr. Elliott said.


“It’s time for marketers to start building social relationship strategies around sites that can deliver value.”

Based on Forrester’s research, Mr. Elliott urged marketers to think carefully about the ways they’re spending their money on social efforts, and to recognize that Facebook and Twitter are not what they used to be from a brand perspective.

”While they’ll continue to collect billions in display ad revenues, they’re just not the most important sites for social marketers anymore."

Evidence #2:


In 2014, Eat24 wrote an infamous letter to Facebook to “break up with them”. 


Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 2.56.02 PM

The reasons stated were  similar to Nate Elliott’s: Facebook changed the rules of the game along the way. It’s their prerogative as the owner of the platform. Still, it left a bad taste...and made Eat24 leave. 



…companies are getting tired of renting social media channels.

While Twitter accounts, LinkedIn pages and Facebook pages are often called “owned media”, they are really not.


In the HBR blog, Making Sense of Owned Media – published in October 2014, Mark Bonchek writes:


“If social media were truly owned, brands would have control over the experience, access to their fans, and full use of the data.”

Let’s be honest, the reality is quite different:


Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 3.11.56 PM


Public social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter don’t enable brands to access their own data. And "Facebook now charges brands to reach their own fans and followers.”

What Are Your Options?

Think about what you CAN own and try to own it.


Mark Bonchek says "Think Content, Community & Context".

1. Content

  • Examples include your website, catalogs & newsletters as content channels. Also, your stores and mobile apps.


2. Community

  • Communities emphasize the connections your customers have with each other. Yes, it takes a huge investment to establish a flourishing community, but long term, you are your own landlord and control the terms.


3. Context

  • Earned and paid social media create a purely transactional relationship between you and your audience.
  • How can you turn these isolated interactions into a connected experience? By turning the data you capture into value for the customer. The key word (and huge buzz word) here is Customer Experience.
  • You can shape it much more easily when you truly own vs. rent the real estate. Examples here are loyalty and reward programs for B2C, and Influencer programs for B2B companies.


The bottom line:


you don't own accounts hosted on external social networks, you only rent them. And access to data is limited. If it meets your goals and  you have the resources, consider creating your own social media community, one where you have access to and can analyze all the data (and content), without fear of you landlord changing the terms. 

What are your views on owning vs. renting social channels? 

...but a business necessity.


While digital transformation is still in its infancy, 2015 promises to be a transformational year. Organizational change and investments in new technologies are inevitable choices for companies that want to lead the market.


The term social media is evolving quickly and today encompasses a much wider subject matter area than only a year ago. So it’s easy to get confused about what really matters, where the greatest value can be created, and consequently, what areas to focus on.


Watch the Webinar or Get the Slides

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 8.51.56 PM


You can either watch the OnDemand Webinar hosted by Business to Community: The Key Social Media Trends for 2015 or download at the Slideshare deck.


Key Takeaways


In this webinar, Denise Holt, CMO of GratZeez and I, Natascha Thomson, CEO of MarketingXLerator, attempt to give you the information you need to plan your path forward. They present key social media trends for 2015, how they affect your business and what you can do to avoid being left behind.




Denise Holt, CMO, GratZeez



@DeniseHolt1 is a social business speaker, podcaster, trainer and strategy consultant, with comprehensive insight as an educator in the area of Brand Development, Customer Experience, Brand Advocacy, & Employee Engagement and Advocacy programs in both internal and external corporate communications. Denise started as an entrepreneur in her early 20’s, and has co-founded and operated businesses ranging from local service companies to a design showroom & global commercial importing, social business consultation, and mobile software applications.


Natascha Thomson, CEO, MarketingXLerator



@NaThomson is the founder and owner of MarketingXLerator, a Social Media Marketing Consultancy, which helps companies create social media marketing strategies that generate awareness, demand and long-term customer relationships. MarketingXLerator provides the necessary expertise and training whether a company/professional is just getting started with social media or wants to optimize their existing strategy and channels. Natascha is also the co-author of the book 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing.


Watch the OnDemand webinar "The Key Social Media Trends for 2015 now or get the Slideshare deck.



What do you see as the big trends for 2015?

Have you ever gotten one of those generic "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." connection requests from someone you don't know? I'm sure, like me, you've had at least one or two! I often wonder why, on a professional network like LinkedIn, they think that reaching out without telling me who they are and why I should connect with them is good business practice.


For me, the generic connection request plays out like this;


You are at a professional networking event, and someone you have never met walks up to you. Instead of introducing themselves, they take your smartphone out of your hand, and then proceed to ask you for the password, so that they can access your contacts. Excuse me!?!?! What planet are you from?


This kind of thing would never fly in real life, so why do people think it is okay online? When I connect to someone, I am opening up my network of connections to that person. If I don't know you, why would I risk my professional network?


I understand that sometimes you hit the Connection request button by mistake, or you send it inadvertently from a mobile app that doesn't allow you to customize the note. But for the most part, if you want to connect with someone, let them know who you are and why you want to connect. It doesn't take more than a moment or two to say hello, and give a little bit of context.


When I get those generic connection requests, I have a standard reply - mostly because there is a chance that I have forgotten someone's name! My reply goes like this;


Hi _______;



Thanks for reaching out. I don't recall that we have met before, would you mind refreshing my memory?





For the most part, I don't get a response. Occasionally I do, from someone who either really wants to connect for a legitimate reason, or hit the Connection request button by mistake. For the most part though, I don't get any response, and no response within 24 hours means that I delete or ignore the request.


There is a real (social) danger to being ignored. When someone ignores your request to connect, they have the option (although they don't have to utilize it) to say WHY they don't want to connect with you. The options are "I don't know x", and "This is spam" among others.  You run the risk of a "black mark" against you, which means that you will have to work that much harder to legitimately connect with people.  Likely, the next time you ask to connect, you will have to supply the contact's email address connected to their LinkedIn profile.  This creates a problem, and can be time consuming to have to try to find their email, and be sure that it is the one connected to their profile.  Your professional online social reputation is worth the time it takes to create an introductory note!


So how do you customize that note? And how do you know when is the best time to "connect"? Here are a few tips;


  1. I would recommend asking to "connect" with someone on LinkedIn only after you have had some sort of conversation with them - be it via phone, email, InMail, some other social platform like Twitter, or in person.
  2. When building your customized connection request, be sure to state why you want to connect and any connections you have in common.
  3. A generic connection request is okay if you are standing in front of the person on the conference showroom floor, or if you know them very well. Any other time, take the time to show that you have a reason for reaching out, that you are trustworthy, and can provide value to the relationship.
  4. Connection requests after a meeting can be a great way to remind your target about the conversation, and keep yourself top of mind.


Growing your network is a good thing, even a great thing! Be judicious with your connection requests, and build a quality network that works for you.

To understand the value of Google Plus for marketers and identify the hot spots of activity, JC Giraldo and I asked our peers to share their personal opinions on the network.  Turns out: "Google Plus is the company picnic". Read on.


This blog is part two in a series. In the first blog, The Truth about Google Plus, JC Giraldo and I, started to look into the viability of G+ for marketers, sifting through research reports.

This blog presents the results of an informal survey we conducted within our personal networks of G+ users, asking them to share their experiences and opinions.


Of course we conducted this survey on G+:

Randy Milanovic


  • Probably the biggest epiphany I've had about GPlus is that there's an influencer type that nobody ever thinks about, yet is the largest population of all: the decision maker's influencer (I.e. You, I and our contacts - not the big guys).
  • When I'm in GPlus or LinkedIn, I'll take engagement with a regular Joe influencer over even a decision-maker any day. These are the people who will be your champion.
  • My measure of success here is in the quality of conversations.




Carrie-Anne Foster
I'm on G+ because I find it very engaging.
  • I've yet to +mention someone and not have them acknowledge me in some way. The influencers are warm, welcoming and encouraging. Plussers want to help you as much as they are able to.
"Facebook reminds me of high school. It's fun, silly, and you don't really learn anything that benefits you in the real world. Google Plus reminds me of university. Still fun, but has a more serious tone. Information that you can use in the real world is constantly coming across your news feed. "
I measure my success...
  • ...on Google Plus based on the level of engagement I do. The connections I make and how much I am learning.
  • I feel G+ is going very good for me and it has become my favourite social media platform by far.


HOA's are my favourite feature!
  • I love being able to interact with people in real-time. Plus it's wonderful to see/hear a person talk as opposed to reading what they write.


For anyone who is new to Google Plus, my best advice is to remember that you'll get out of it what you put in. It's a social platform and users want to engage with other users. Don't be shy!
Beth Lee Browning
Why am I here
  • I started on Google Plus because I was interested in Google Authorship. I've learned that there's a whole lot more to it than that. After accidentally deleting my Google Plus Profile last March, I've become an even bigger fan.
  • IMO Google Plus is the best network for curating interesting information and useful content from an incredibly wide variety of sources.
  • I'm also here for the networking - I've met some really great people and my connections have led to real business opportunities. And of course there's also the potential for increased visibility in personalized search results for people I'm connected with.


Google Plus vs Facebook
  • I find Facebook to be very oriented toward personal sharing. When I'm on Facebook I'm not thinking about business, which is why I think it can work for B2C but I'm not convinced of it's value for B2B marketing.


My favorite feature
  • HOA's. I love adding ones that are about a topic I'm interested in to my calendar and going back to watch it later. I do like the hangouts for one on one conversations.


How do I measure success- hmmmm
  • I also feel like it's the place in which I find the most content that I can learn from.
  • Also engagement is one measure, but another measure is that I can attribute actual business opportunities to my activity on the platform. Some have been very direct such as a referral from someone in my network and others have been indirect, but I can trace the lead back to something that had to do with Google Plus.


My additional 2 cents would be around LinkedIn vs Google Plus
  • LinkedIn and Google Plus have two very different cultures.
  • For me, LinkedIn is the professional breakfast meeting, a place where personal updates are rarely if ever shared and the conversation centers only on business.
  • Google Plus on the other hand is the company picnic, a gathering where people are still on their best behavior but they introduce you to their kids and chat about hobbies and interests outside of work.


If you use both platforms well, prospective clients or recruiters have the opportunity to see the authentic and well-rounded you and that might help you seal the deal.

Elle Hubbard
I came to G+ for the authorship and found nothing to like.
  • When I returned with a determination to get to understand it better, I started to really enjoy it. That was mainly down to +Mark Vang inviting me to his community where I have learnt so much. I now love it!


I use FB only to keep up with family, and to connect with clientswho follow my page.
  • I have a small following there but they seem pretty engaged when I do post, which is infrequent.


I expect, I should have G+ goals for my business that measure my success...
  • ...but actually, I measure it by the connections I have made, the fact that I care about finding out what is going on with them, and that I feel I have a good grasp of how to use the platform, and I mean use, rather than leverage. From a business perspective I should probably try harder!


My favorite feature is...
  • ...the knowledge contained within the collective minds on the platform. I have picked up so many tips and ideas along the way, that really make a difference to my business. Some have come through HOA's and some through posts or comments, so that is why the feature is knowledge rather than any particular facility.
Tammy Powlas
Why are you on G+?
  • Just to see what I may have missed.


G+ vs. FB: Your thoughts?
  • Less salesy, easier to follow, to be honest. I really like the content that +Susan Scrupski posts on G+ too.


How do you measure G+ “success”? How is it going for you?
  • Not sure; I don't get that many "plusses" and since +Steve Rumsby and I had an exchange about posting the same content on multiple platforms I don't contribute that much here.


What are your favorite features related to G+? (e.g. communities, HOA….)
  • I like the Google Hangout (is that a G+ feature)?
  • The way it sends "Birthday Wishes" - far better than FB.


Any other insights to share?
  • Not sure why it is not taking off.
  • I am not sure how to set up Circles.


Also at times +Frank Köhntopp posts some really nice photos to G+ and makes it well worth the visit
Frank Koehntopp
I'm not sure I even want G+ to be successful for marketing - I'm happy with all of that going to FB ;).
Michael J Procopio
G+ is my favorite non-business network (I think of LinkedIn as a business network).
  • Although I prefer G+, my family and friends interact on FB not G+.


I haven't found any success on G+ either personally or professionally other than its SEO benefit.
  • I do feel that Hangouts-on-Air are a big success but they are separate from G+ as a social interaction network in my mind.


Hangouts-on-Air is my favorite feature. I think Google has had a number of stumbles with G+ and even thought it is one of the top social networks it doesn't seem to have found its place yet.
Tom Maiaroto
I'm on G+ mainly because...
  •'s easy to access from my other Google services and GMail.


I think G+ is a better business tool (B2B) than FB
  • I see FB as good for B2C and for personal uses given its privacy and features. Though I don't use FB that often to connect with friends anyway. I don't use G+ at all to connect with friends about my personal life. It's more of a business tool for me.


I have a hard time measuring G+ right now (I'm working on tools to help with that).
  • "Success" metrics for me would be growth in terms of people following me (or my pages), engagement (comments and +1's), and any leads or relationships established due to G+.
  • Website metrics tie right into G+ if you're using Google Analytics and that really helps track success as well. Ultimately driving traffic is a big part of success on the internet.


My favorite features for G+ include business pages and hangouts.

Other insights?
  • I don't know, I think G+ is still trying to find its niche to be frank. It's another channel that I do try to use, but right now I'm more focused on Twitter.



Jose Facchin
Why are you on G +?
  • I started using Google+ in 2012, just to see what this new network offered and I've been a little bit saturated with other networks.
  • On Google+, there is a good balance between people who have the same interests in regards to professional topics.


G+ vs. FB: Your thoughts?
  • The main difference is segmentation. G+ has the circles, which let you easily share targeted content with a specific audience.


How do you measure G+ “success”? How is it going for you?
  • I measure success as a high percentage of engagement with my posts, and "follower" growth.
  • Google+ is now my second favorite social network, right after Twitter. Twitter refers the most traffic to my blog.


What are your favorite features related to G +? (eg communities, HOA ...).
  • The best feature on G + is the integration of all Google services.
  • G+ communities, because they provide one of the best ways to meet new people who share your interests, and as blogger, it helps me to improve my SEO.


Albert Ramos Catalán
Why are you on G +?
  • I openedmy account inGoogle+ in 2011, I was invited because I workedina business incubator, but it was notuntil 2013when I started touse thisnetwork as astrategy. Due to the UX it can be used like LinkedIn for business topics.
  • I'd add that is a social network that has a mix between leisure and professional publications.


G+ vs. FB: Your thoughts?
  • The main difference, at least in Spain, is that Facebook users log in with an intention to just have fun; more than on Google+.
  • There is also a greater range of segmentation and freedom of interaction between users.
  • For professionals, it also offers something similar to LinkedIn groups via the communities.


How do you measure G+ “success”? How is it going for you?
  • I think that having success on Google+ has a lot to do with getting followers regardless of whether you follow them or not. Just because they like what you are posting.
  • More and more people have been following my blog because they have read my posts on G+.
  • If I had to rank: Twitter is my favorite network, and Google Plus comes second.

What are your favorite features related to G +? (eg communities, HOA ...).
  • Google+ is interesting for a variety of services available via Hangouts, their email services and the functionally on mobile devices. Even though similar to LinkedIn groups, G+ functionally works much better on mobile.
  • I also like the ability to host webinars and classes on HOA.


Any other insights to share?
  • G+ is valuable to drive traffic to your website, blog, or both.
  • The influence of G+ on SEO should not be neglected.


Make sure you have a well-defined and distinct strategy for G +. Don't forget that each social network requires tailored communications to be most effective.
Adrian Bold

Why are you on G+? 
  • Initially, because I felt obliged to be, i.e. use Google to stay current but now mainly to 'take a break' and learn via HOAs and Communities.


G+ vs. FB: Your thoughts?
  • I struggle with how best to manage Facebook so tend to stick to people I know offline 'though that gets tested when someone I know online only sends a friend request. G+ is my slightly more acceptable public face!


How do you measure G+ “success”? How is it going for you...
  • No measurement for me and that probably sums up my approach to social media generally. Probably wrongly!


What are your favorite features related to G+? (e.g. communities, HOA….)
  • The right communities, e.g. like Sanctuary; good mix of people, knowledge share and well-managed.


Any other insights to share?
  • I'm slightly concerned that G+ is turning into one big community of social media experts and everyone else is oblivious to its potential!
If you liked this post, visit for more insights.

What is your personal experience with Google Plus?

Have you been meaning to up your social media game?


This is your chance. You just missed my 2-day Advanced Social Media Class at UCSC Ext. Silicon Valley but you are in luck - I am sharing the slides from the course for free, right here.


While I don't think that a slide deck can replace the experience of a two-day interactive class with professionals and students from Silicon Valley, the deck DOES give an overview of social media marketing strategy techniques and important trends in the space.

Think Digital Transformation and Code Halos.

Slideshare deck:

Advanced Social Media Marketing: 2-Day Course @UCSCExtension Silicon Valley



Topics covered in the deck above include:

  • Social Media Branding - in 160 Characters
  • What's New?
    • Pull Marketing (newish)
    • Digital Buyer's Journey / Cycle
    • Code Halos - Business Model Disruption
  • Social Marketing Media Strategy
    • Objectives, Target Audience, Channels, Tactics, Metrics/Tools etc.
    • The 12 Commandments of Social Media
  • Twitter & Linked: Owned, Earned, Paid
  • Blogging
  • Marketing "Automation"
  • Customer Experience (CX)
  • Digital Transformation
  • Accessing social data. Who owns it?
  • Predictive Marketing
  • Social Identity, Sign-ons & Security
    • How to not get hacked.
  • Social Marketing vs. Social Selling
  • Tools: Small Scale & Enterprise
  • Influencer /Advocate Marketing


Please contact me @NaThomson or in the comment sections of this blog with  comments or questions.

A big thank you to all my mentors and thought leaders who shared their know-how and let me use some of their slides/concepts, especially Petra Neiger, Mario Herger, Alice Goldstein, Eric GeslienRay Wang and Altimeter Group.

On October 17th and 24th, 2014, I will be teaching an Advanced Social Media Course at UCSC Extension Silicon Valley.

Registration is now open.


UCSC Ext. Silicon Valley


If you have been thinking about investing in your career by improving your social media marketing skills, this course is a great opportunity to learn with your peers from Silicon Valley. As I outlined in a recent blog post, to stay relevant in the days of digital transformation, social media skills are essential.


That's why I am teaching advanced social media at UCSC Ext. for the second year.

Below a picture of last year's class, with guest speaker Jeanette Gibson of Hootsuite:


Class Picture

My day job is running my own social (media) business consultancy, MarketingXLerator - after having worked for companies like SAP and EMC over the years - so can bring in real-world case studies to share. What am I planning to teach?


You can read the official course description here (which was produced by somebody else and is a bit ambitious for a 16 hour course).

Key Take-Aways:

  • How to build a brand on social media
  • How to create a social media strategy that works
    • Goals, audience, channel identification
  • When to use owned, earned and paid media
  • Why "Marketing" automation is crucial to the social business
  • What digital transformation is and how it affects your career
  • How to leverage influencers and advocates
  • What is hype vs. what really works


I am also reserving time in this course to address questions and topics the students request, to make sure they can take what they learn in class back to their jobs, grow their careers and impress their bosses :-).


  • An active and complete LinkedIn profile. (As this is an advanced class, that seems reasonable to me.)
  • A professional bio in multiple lengths: 100, 75, 50, and 25 words, as well as 160 characters.


Guest Speakers


I have invited a number of social media professionals from Silicon Valley to share their on-the-job experiences. Petra Neiger, Sr. Dir. Integrated Marketing at Polycom, and Eric Geslien, Dir. Enterprise Sales at Tracx, and Mario Herger of Enterprise Gamification Consulting, are confirmed so far.


  • Petra, @Petra1400, will speak about integrated marketing in the age of digital media.
  • Eric, @Geslien, will talk about (and demo) how to prove the value of social media to meet business goals.
  • Mario, @MHerger, will provide examples of how gamification can be used to drive results in marketing.


If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please register here. Join the Meetup group to network ahead of time and after class.


To attend the class, you need to register directly on the UCSC Ext. website.


Contact me at @NaThomson if you have question.

Hi All,


I am a new employee within SAP Product Support – Dublin. I recently completed my Masters in Information Technology at NUI Galway. My Masters’ Thesis researched integration of ICT and Teaching Strategies within Irish Higher Education environment and one of the main findings was that Learners and Educators made a distinction between Personal and Educational (Work) Social Media Platforms and this in turn dictated how they interacted with each Platform.


Currently a hot topic within many Corporate Circles is the use of Social Media tools as a way of engagement and connectivity with other colleagues and customers / clients.

Many organisations and individuals are using a multitude of Social Media Platforms i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Corporate Portals, Forums, Blogs and even Snaps etc.


The first query I have relates to linking your personal and private Platforms with the corporate or public Platforms:
Should / do you actively maintain a segregation between personal and work profiles and content?


Secondly, relating to the Medium /Platform, what the subject matter is and to whom you are communicating:
Does the way you write matter? I.e. use text talk, emoji’s, worry about grammar and punctuation etc.?



I believe in transparency and openness in a working environment but am aware how this extends to private / family content and that any personal views may not necessarily support or reflect the views of the organisation you work for.


If you are willing to actively publish information on Social Media you should not only be mindful of your target audience but also of other interested parties that may be able to access that information and be professional at all times.


I suggest that everyone should be aware of corporate guidelines or policies pertaining to Social Media that are in place and partake in any training or info sessions that are available.



Finally, as a “tongue in cheek” guideline for Social Media Etiquette I would like to refer you to a video that was produced by Mr W A Yankovic. Happy watching ;).
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes: (note due to restrictions on some company IT settings this Music video may not be accessible).





Let’s get out there and be “Social And Professional” - “SAP” Savvy.





Congrats! You’re already well versed in social listening, so let’s do a happy dance Happy Dancxe.gif

So, what’s next? Here are three simple tasks:



1. Share your story



Content marketing is the next generation marketing tool;
instead of looking for customers, the customers would come to you to know how you can help them.

Social listening helps because you’d know the customers’ concerns, needs and complaints, so you
can design your contents to cater to what the customers want to hear. Even
better, transform your contents into videos, infographics or SlideShares for
easier consumption. You can start by sharing your Social Listening success
story or a customer success story.


2. Share any story



“Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge” – Ana Monnar



Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it. Make
an effort to share at least one post per day on all your social profiles. A big
chunk of it should be shared with your customers in mind but you can also slip
in some silly ones to entertain your audience. A great resource for assets to
share is the contents created or shared by your colleagues or peers in the same
line of work. Other than that, you can go to Mashable or Digg which are
socially driven content-sharing platforms.



3. Create a persona



Want to have a better understanding of your customers? Create
a Facebook or LinkedIn profile representative of your average customers. Once
you personify your average customer, it’d easier to relate to them and comprehend
their needs and interests. Share this persona with your colleagues so they can add-on/adjust the characteristics of the persona. Remember, people change, so these personas can change too; make an effort to update your persona at least once a year. Once you’re done, share your personas to relevant parties. Click here for a beginner’s guide to creating a persona.



Now you’re all prepped and ready to be the Social Listening advocate that you were born to be.

Now off you go and spread your knowledge




This post is part of a series of three:

First article

Second Article


Some IT specialists are considering social media integration, but want more ideas where it can be used. We are three students doing a practical phase at SAP BPM. Our task was to find a use-case and to build an application for it. In this document we will present our solution.



Ann wants to buy a train ticket, but the machine is broken. She scans the QR-Code on the machine which generates a tweet with certain hashtags (like “#ticketmachine #1234 broken”). With this hashtag the machine can be identified. A BPM process searches for tweets about broken ticket machines and therefore finds Ann’s tweet. Sophie is responsible for solving the problem. From her task view she can send a reply tweet to Ann thanking for the report. This way she can stay in her working environment and does not need to open Twitter. Sophie evaluates the problem and sends a qualified technician to fix the machine. She can also search and react to other tweets about this problem. After the machine was mended she can send a tweet informing that the machine works again.

As proof-of-concept we have integrated our solution into the default Task Execution UI:


We also started creating a SAP UI5 application.



Technical Structure

To access Twitter we needed to implement the OAuth protocol. We created a servlet that works as a generic adapter which is compatible for every web site that offers OAuth authentification. Our structure looks like this. For further information about OAuth please refer to the official OAuth specification.



Some tweets can be generated automatically. The person working on the problem still has the possibility to send tweets manually, but it might not be necessary. The following diagram shows what the process flow could look like. More actions like twittering “we are working on it” are automated and Sophie can concentrate on more important tasks.


We have mainly focused on integrating Twitter, however integrating other social media platforms like SAP Jam or Facebook is possible. The OAuth process would be similar.

Lea Poletin, Maiko Müller, Maximilian Rickayzen

Building a great summary is one of the key elements of an engaging, "customer-centric" LinkedIn profile. Your summary should tell the customer, in 4 short paragraphs, about you, about your company, and how those two elements will help the customer with their business challenges. Your summary should be built to showcase you as a trusted advisor or subject matter expert. You want your customer or potential customer to look at your profile and say; "I need to talk to this person, they are going to be able to help me solve x".


In general, your summary should be written in the first person narrative - this humanizes your profile. I've outlined below what each of the four paragraphs should include, but feel free to add more information if you think it will be relevant to your customer. The whole goal of your customer-centric profile is to get your customer to feel like you are going to be able to help them, all the while understanding that you are a human being and have interests and passions outside of the business world.


Paragraph 1 – The first section is the place to showcase your knowledge and experience – not as a sales person, or as a business development exec (i.e. not about awards you’ve won for Best Sales Rep), but as a problem solver and innovator. Talk about how your experience with X has helped you help your customers. Talk about your background and what you can bring to the table as a solution provider. Include the skills you've gained by working with clients, and how those skills will benefit your customer.


Paragraph 2 – This is the place to talk about your organization – but in a thought-leadership way, not a product centric way. Talk about what your company brings to the table. Include your experience with the products or services your organization provides, and the benefit that your customers have seen by choosing to use your product or services.


Are you seeing the pattern here? It all relates back to how you are able to help your customer or potential customer.


Paragraph 3 – In this paragraph you can talk about your personal and professional passions. If you really, really enjoy brainstorming solutions to problems, or if you get excited about walking side-by-side with a customer to help them achieve their goals, talk about that. If you have a hobby or interest that you feel comfortable sharing, feel free to talk about it here. I’ve seen people talk about wind-surfing or classic cars or astronomy and it truly adds a human element to their profiles. This allows your customer to feel that much closer to you before they even talk to you.


Paragraph 4 – More of a call-to-action than a paragraph, this line is really to let your customer know how to connect with you. It can be any of a combination or all of “Connect with me on LinkedIn, Follow me on Twitter, phone me @ XXX, email me @ XXX”. However you feel most comfortable is the way to go here.

A lot of people struggle with this part of their LinkedIn profile. It is a complete shift in mind-set around how to talk about yourself on LinkedIn. One of the important points to remember is that as a Sales Exec or Business Development Exec, your LinkedIn profile is no longer your on-line resume. It is a showcase of who you are and how you and your experience can benefit your customer.


Take your time, jot down points that you want to include, and then pull them all together into paragraph format. It takes a little bit of effort to make that mindset shift, but once you do, you'll reap the benefits.


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