Tag Archive | "top social media tools"

CEO Today: Interview with the co-founder of Flip.to – Brian J. Kent

Brian_Flip-toBrian is the co-founder and product lead of Flip.to. He’s been breathing life into web products for over 10 years as a hybrid developer/designer. As a Brooklyn-born, engineer by schooling, world traveler by preference, visionary by self-proclamation, Brian is a proponent of social media, travel and new technology bridging the two. You can follow Brian on Twitter and Linkedin.

G: Tell us a little about your start-up?

B: Flip.to is a platform that helps hotels & restaurants earn new guests by turning their current guests into a huge team of trusted advocates.

Here’s an example of how it works for hotels. After a guest books a room, Flip.to incentivizes them to spread the word about their upcoming trip and where they’ll be staying. So if you’ve just booked a room at The James Chicago, you’ll earn a complimentary room upgrade certificate in all of two clicks. And the hotel just reached all of your friends, family & followers in a really natural way- boosting brand awareness and deepening their pool of potential future guests.

Just as Flip.to engages hotel guests at convenient touch points (like at time of booking, suggestions when they arrive, a quick review after their stay), Flip.to engages restaurant guests right from their table on their own mobile device. Restaurants learn who their guests are, incentivize happy ones to spread the word, make a personalized connection with their friends and get negative reviews turned into real-time alerts for staff- all in a few swipes and taps.

G: What were the biggest obstacles launching the start-up and how did you overcome them?

B: Like most start-ups, our biggest challenge was getting past that initial inertia when you’re sitting there with only a glimmer of a product and zero customers. Because once the ball is rolling (when you have customers), it becomes easier to build on that traction- both in terms of landing new customers and figuring out what the product should grow up to be.

We started talking to folks in the hospitality industry really early on in the product development process to get their take on what we were doing. It helped validate the direction Flip.to was headed, build some excitement and it’s how we landed one of our very first proponents, who is now heading up our business development. Even before Flip.to was ready to go live, we had signed our first (paying!) beta client.

G: Where should social media be integrated by start-ups? (marketing, customer service and etc)? What are the best ways to do that?

B: Every company needs to take a good look at what their goals are and then match those up to how social media can help- there’s no one-fit solution. For start-ups, doing that is especially important because resources are scarce.

For consumer-oriented start-ups, social media makes sense for customer service provided you can be responsive. But if you’re going to make public the good and the bad about what your customers are saying, you better be on top of it. People don’t expect perfection, things happen, but you can lose credibility if it looks like you’re being unresponsive to issues. For B2B, you should respond directly and give your beta clients direct access to the team.

Using social media for marketing makes lots of sense. Only in the past few years, has it been amazingly easy to reach a large number of people. And social media becomes particularly potent, when folks are pushing out messages about your product or service on their own existing social networks. Flip.to is all about this- the hotels and restaurants using it can reach far beyond their own network by tapping into their guests’ networks, which collectively becomes massively bigger. And hearing something from a friend is always going to be more trusted than from a PR or marketing person.

G: Which social media sites do bring the most value to your start-up?

B: At Flip.to, we’ve found that Facebook has been the most popular place for our hotel’s guests to post about their upcoming trip. It has also generated the most traffic back to the hotel’s site, in terms of visitors and real action. Twitter isn’t far behind, followed by LinkedIn.

G: What are your favourite social media campaigns created by start-ups?

B: You’ll always get my attention if you can make me laugh out loud. Betabrand is a young online clothing company that is proving hilarious, well-written copy is sometimes all you need to get people buzzing. Their “privates” underwear that “promises to block TSA employees from seeing your scanned junk” is a good example of that.

The best social media campaigns feel authentic and for me personally, a little wit goes a long way.


G: What is the funniest/most unexpected thing that happened while developing your startup?

B: The very first incarnation of Flip.to (pre-beta) was to help companies spread the word about new products or services with the help of their employees and customers. We got lots of interesting feedback but as we were kicking ideas around, it felt far more natural for folks to talk about their travel experiences. Plus the marketing budgets for boutique hotels and destination restaurants were hurting after the downturn- helping them turn their guests into advocates just made sense.


A big Thank You to Brian for his great insights!! You can find the rest of the CEO Today interviews  at Social Media interviews category.

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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Paul Dunay

Paul DunayPaul Dunay is Global Managing Director of Services and Social Marketing for Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications, and author of 3 Dummies books: Facebook Marketing for Dummies, Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies and Facebook Advertising for Dummies. Paul’s blog Buzz Marketing for Technology  has been recognized as a Top 20 Marketing Blog for 2009 and 2008, a Top Blog to Watch for 2009 and 2008, and an Advertising Age Power 150 blog in the “Daily Ranking of Marketing Blogs”. You can follow Paul on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. Read the full story

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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Mary McKnight

Mary McKnight is the Consumer Marketing Director at Where.com, one of the leading location based applications which helps three million users to discover the world around them. She is also an editor of Sacrilicious Marketing, the blog which has a bit different approach to social media. You can follow Mary on Twiter or  Facebook Fan Page.

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

M: I don’t really consider myself “in the social media” business. I’ve worked as a marketer since the mid nineties and regard social media as a new tool to add to my marketing bag of tricks. Social media and social commerce are most interesting when they can be leveraged to reach and engage an audience more personally in a brand or product. Those are the primary reasons I use social media in my marketing campaigns.

G: What is it like to be a real Social Media Citizen?

M: Consistency is key! But being consistent on social media is often at odds with being productive in my life and job. I don’t plan my life around Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare or any other social networks… I use smart technologies like Ping.fm and Friendfeed that take the information they aggregate from my entire social lifestream of Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, blogs, Foursquare, Last.fm etc and push it to my other social profiles so I can easily and automatically share what I am doing or find interesting at that specific moment. That helps me be consistent on each network while being efficient and effective at sharing. I would never plan my life around social media – social media just becomes a part of what I am doing at the moment and the technologies I use simply assist in sharing those moments.

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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Jo Porritt

JoJo Porritt is communications specialist whose career has spanned the evolution of marketing, from traditional – to digital – to social. She is the Managing Director of BrandGuardian , a social media agency based in UK which prides itself on education, engagement and forward thinking strategy that can be applied to any business sector; from start-ups to global brands. You can follow Jo on Twitter – @BrandGuardian.

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

J: How? I was previously an Account Director with a web development company, managing brands online presence. The shift a few years ago to Web 2.0 and the whole concept of “Read, Write, Share” meant is was impossible to ignore! Why? Because way before social media was coined as a buzz-word, I worked on the same principles that underpin social i.e. open, transparent, collaborative, high integrity, no smoke and mirrors. I yearned for the time when businesses could see how much value there was in “participation” and not just “broadcast”. Essentially, those ethics are in my blood – it was a very natural progression from my personal life to my working life. I guess with the advent of social and my experience to date, I finally feel like things are now aligned.

G: What is it like to be a real Social Media Citizen?

J: Being a Social Media Citizen is basically easy for me! As described above, it has been how I have worked with clients and brands for many years. But now that this has become “mainstream” I plan my day by making sure I start it with a quick review of the news across all of the SM sites. I also plan ahead for both clients and my own social media personal branding projects. I try to weave a thread of consistency by posting on certain topics, interspersed with the organic, real time nature social now gives us. In truth, every day is different. I am constantly learning. For me, everything we do as professionals within this industry is always in beta. Being flexible and learning when to stop are also very important strategies.

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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Chris Hall

ChrisHall Chris Hall is the head ‘Bell Ringer’ at Cow Bell, the digital marketing agency in UK which is predominantly focusing on social media, and how it integrates into an organisation’s overall marketing plan. Chris’s aim is to ‘rethink marketing in the digital age’ , to educate and inform whilst developing clear strategies that bring results. You can follow Chris on Twitter – (@Chris_Hall1)

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

C: I have always been in communications across the on and offline worlds and at the beginning of 2009 I started to feel and see the impact that Twitter was having around me. Although it’s impact was relatively small, as a marketer I just felt I had to get inside it and see for myself what it was all about. From that day in January I spent focussed on listening and understanding rather than too much direct engagement. I quickly saw the power and potential of social media as a communications tool and from that started to integrate it into my working day.

G: What is it like to be a real Social Media Citizen?

C: The reason so many are using the social networks are exactly that – to be ‘social’ and to ‘network’ – whether that’s personal or business. It feels like the right place to be for all those reasons, but it must be controlled and managed. I’m sure we’ve all suffered from those times where we realised we’ve been in too long and there’s our jobs to be done. I like to wake up and engage with my friends/followers and then as and when time allows across the day. I like to think of social media as my coffee break or water cooler sometimes. Being social and making connections are what I love to do. It was an easy transition (if at all).

G: What are your favourite social media hang out sites?

C: Twitter (Tweetdeck) is my favourite because of its immediacy. I can hold conversation and listen to what’s going on right now. It also in some ways can manage time too. I can decide after DM’s or replies whether to take the conversation to another place like telephone or Skype.

G: How are you keeping up-to-date with social media environment ?

C: For me it’s about a trusted network (something everyone should have) of Twitter followers and then also my invaluable RSS links. My top sites include:

My days include time in Tweetdeck, Social Mention, Google Reader and visits to LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Chris Tompkins

Chris TompkinsChrist Tompkins is the founder of Go! Media International, an online marketing company, who’s team focuses on building successful social media marketing strategies for its clients. Chris has spoken at many national and international events recently sharing the dais with heads of Google and YouTube. You can follow Chris on Twitter or Facebook

G: Describe yourself in five words?

C: Me in five words? I would say energetic, focused, creative, honest and driven.

G: What’s your favourite hobby?

C: My favourite thing to do when not online is to be cooking gourmet meals in my kitchen. It is a bit of an addiction and I tend to have a least two dinner parties per month for groups of twenty. When I am not doing that, I am reading and learning everything I can about techniques. I am so passionate about it that I brought both of my passions (cooking and social media marketing) together on my blog. You can check it out here: http://www.servedfreshmedia.com – social media tips and recipes combined!

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

C: I have been doing social media for quite a few years, actually starting with Myspace promotions when I worked as the Marketing Director for a private music college in London, UK. From that point, the social media world intrigued me and I began to learn how to harness the power of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and all the rest. As for the why? I have always had an intense love for the art of marketing as well as a great love of people and culture. The social media sphere is a perfect fit for my passions and talent. Also, by finding out the best way to market using social media, I was able to create and launch my own social media marketing firm, Go! Media International – and since then I have helped my clients reach their full potential online. It is amazingly rewarding.

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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Johan Ronnestam

ronnestam-twitterJohan Ronnestam is a former snowboard professional turned out to be a digital marketing genius. He was a co-founder of Foreign, the digital marketing agency which won multiple awards in the Cannes Lions, D&AD, New York Festivals, London International Advertising Awards, and many other award shows around the world. In September 2008 Johan started Ronnestam Innovative Communication, with the blog Ronnestam.com which was voted Sweden’s first blog on innovation, future trends and digital communication. You can follow Johan on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

J: I wouldn’t say I’m in the social media business. I’m more into business development, advertising and communication with an extended knowledge how social media effects those areas. Social media is not important in itself. It’s extremely important though to know how it affects your business.

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