A New Job Awaits: Social Media Manager at Sears Home Electronics

I’ve enjoyed my time at Weber Shandwick, which included work on Oscar Mayer, General Motors, Milk, the Cherry Marketing Institute and the Campbell Soup Company. I was a 2009 MarCom Award Platinum Winner for my white paper on lifestreaming. I contributed regularly to Weber Shandwick’s social media blog.

With that said, I’m formally announcing a move: I’ll be the new social media manager for Sears Home Electronics, a multi-billion dollar division for an even bigger multi-billion dollar company: Sears.

Here’s why I elected to take the social media gig over there:

1. A strong team with an aggressive approach My buddy Scott Murphy introduced me to some of the digital/social media folks with several of Sears’ business units several months back. In his recent letter to shareholders, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert wrote the following:

“…social networking and social media have only just begun to have an impact on shopping, and it is a revolution we intend to harness going forward.”

Sears is harnessing the power and wisdom of the crowds in its MySears and MyKmart communities, on Facebook, Twitter , YouTube and elsewhere on the web. I look forward to extending Sears’ presence in the retail electronics world, creating content and conversations that drive awareness and — hopefully — the bottom line.

2. A chance to be in the driver’s seat once more. Self-explanatory; I’ll be reporting to the business unit CMO, Eddie Combs.

All in all, I’ve spent a good nine months at Weber Shandwick, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned about the agency business and public relations. I’ve worked with some great folks, including Adam Keats and the WS Chicago team, Chris Perry, Margot Savell, George Snell, Richard Nevins, Wade Rockett, Greg Swan, Andy Schueneman, Patrick Chaupham, Andy Keith and many others.

Moving over to Sears allows me to take the next step in my professional development, and I’m proud to be joining the Sears Blue Crew.

Before I start at Sears, however, I’ll be taking a week off to run various much-needed errands, including:

finally writing that piece for Mashable
– hosting the first Chicago Cigar Tweetup; please RSVP if you want to come!
– cleaning out the front closet

Chicago Cigar Tweetup #1

We’ve been having so much fun with our #cigarchat Twitter events, we’ve decided to expand and hold the first ever Chicago Cigar Tweetup!

We’ll be having it over at Tesa Cigar Co. on Thursday, March 25 from 6-10pm.

Our liquor sponsor will be Wild Scotsman Whisky, who will be sampling the Wild Scotsman Black Label, the 15 Year Vatted Scotch Malt and the Blend No. 888 scotches.

Tesa Cigars will also be running a Buy 3, Get 1 deal on its own cigars. (You can read reviews on their Vintage Especial and the Cabinet 312.)

You can RSVP for the event here, and the hashtag will be #chicagocigar. Hope to see you there!

3 Ways Google Buzz Could Affect Your Brand

Google recently announced the launch of Google Buzz, a service that allows users to post status updates, photos, videos and other content in the hopes of creating a hub of digital conversation.

Sound familiar?

Google Buzz is direct competition to social networks and microblogs such as Facebook and Twitter. Why is this? At launch, Google Buzz had 150 million users in its network, stemming from the fact that Google Buzz is built directly into Gmail.

For those of you not yet familiar with Google Buzz, here’s a demo video:

Here are three potential implications of Google Buzz for brands and marketers:

  • Google Buzz discussions will appear in Google Search results. Just as the search giant started to display real-time search results on its pages, Google will find a way to promote Buzz conversations, links and other content on its pages. Whether this content is displayed on the front page of its search results, or if it’ll be promoted on one of its less-trafficked search portals, remains to be seen. (Of course, Google Buzz has privacy settings that allow users to limit who sees their posts.)

    Look for more and more dynamic, real-time brand conversations to appear in your Google Search results, and not just the forums and occasional tweets you may be used to seeing now. Right now, brand conversations have the potential to be found through social media monitoring tools and the occasional search result. Since Google Buzz is built directly into Gmail, look for these conversations — both negative and positive — to be much easier to find.

  • Brands may have better access to consumer e-mail boxes, and vice versa. Facebook fan page? Check. Twitter account? Check.

    Google account? Not yet.

    If Google Buzz catches on, there may be a trend towards even more consumers linking up their social media profiles to their Google accounts. (Lifestreaming is a hot social media concept these days). Once this happens, the more their actual e-mail accounts — as opposed to a Facebook inbox or Twitter DMs — will be an integral part of their social media presence.

    No longer will customers only have access to people’s Facebook and Twitter profiles; the more consumers use Google Buzz, the more access to e-mail addresses companies will have. If a consumer expresses a product complaint through Google Buzz, their e-mail address should be easier to find.

    There’s one side effect to this: You may have a well-established Facebook page and Twitter presence, but there’s a chance brands will start building out strong Google Buzz profiles as well.

  • SEO will continue to flood real-time conversations. While the benefits of promoting content — in the hopes of driving traffic and searchability — on Google Wave was unclear, many brands continue looking for additional ways to crack real-time conversations in a way to boost their search engine rankings.

    Many of the tried-and-true methods of linkbaiting and promoting brand content on social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, Mixx and StumbleUpon [client] will continue to drive SEO, but as Google Buzz matures, look for SEOers to start funneling this content through real-time conversations there.

Daniel B. Honigman

NOTE: This post was originally published on the Weber Shandwick Social Studies Blog.

Twitter — the 2009 word of the year — and what it means

I originally posted a version of this article last week on the Weber Shandwick Social Studies Blog.

Last week, the Global Language Monitor announced “twitter” was the top word of 2009.

We have seen the good side of Twitter (NOTE: Weber Shandwick helped promote Tweetsgiving) along with the not-so-good. We have seen Twitter used by news organizations and companies both large and small:

The fact “Twitter” topped this year’s list should come as no surprise, but the word’s definition, as cited in the release, may make you think. It is simply this:

“The ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters.”

Nowhere in this definition will you find the term “Web site,” or the word “platform.” Twitter is not, nor has it ever been, solely about the service. A tweet can happen anywhere, whether it’s on Twitter — the platform it was designed for — or as a status update on Facebook, or even as a short blog entry on Posterous.

According to the GLM Web site, the survey’s methodology uses an algorithm that tracks words used by the media and others across the Web. No longer do people need blogs to become digital publishers; sign up on Twitter and you’re ready to go.

There’s a reason Facebook, with its hundreds of millions of users, changed its approach to reflect Twitter, with a user base of only several million users: Facebook saw the value of the micro-interaction and elevated it into a central role on its platform.

Twitter, in and of itself, has opened up an even more hyperconnected world, but the Twitter-type interaction — the micro-interaction — often leads to something deeper. Something that happens outside of the platform, whether it’s an e-mail or a phone call.

Weber Shandwick advises clients not to start or run a Twitter account with the end goal of just having one, but to leverage everything they’re doing — their product launches, their promotions, their ideas and their expertise, and their customer-driven insights — and work with them to somehow fit that content in 140 characters with the end goal of driving advocacy.

Brand advocacy, of course, happens over time; it can start with a 140-character tweet.

Daniel B. Honigman

(NOTE: Best Buy is a client of Weber Shandwick.)

A quick look at the Macy’s Chicago 2009 holiday windows

Mollie and I have a Black Friday tradition: For last three years, we’ve gone to the Walnut Room for lunch, where we usually sit near the Christmas tree, and then we do a bit of shopping.

This year, I decided to record some quick thoughts on this year’s holiday-themed windows. Enjoy:

Cigar of the Week: TESA Cabinet 312 Torpedo

TESA Cabinet 312 Torpedo

Brand: TESA Cigars
Line: Cabinet 312
Vitola: Torpedo; 6 x 54
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Criollo ’98 Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium
Price: About $10-$13

As I said in my recent review of the Liga Privada T-52, I’ve recently been hanging out more at TESA Cigars over on Chicago’s Near West Side.

After only a few visits, it’s already one of my new favorite shops.

When I first went to TESA, I knew the place carried its own boutique line of cigars. Little did I know how good they were. All of TESA’s cigars are blended by store owner Chris Kelly, and the sticks are made at TESA’s factory in Nicaragua.

The TESA Cabinet 312, which is named after the original 312 Chicago area code, has an oily, slightly veiny wrapper. It has a pre-light scent that’s cedary and woody, but also a touch spicy and sweet, and with a good draw.

Once lit, a couple of the sticks I tried, including one at the shop, started to canoe up the side for about 1/2 an inch, but the burn corrected itself quickly. The burn line on the 312 was very dark, and for the most part, it was quite even.

The draw on the cigar, which was quite firm and with no soft spots, tightened up a bit, and as a result, the 312 produced very stringy smoke. (Note: This didn’t happen with all of the Cabinet 312 cigars I tried.)

The 312’s woodiness continued as I smoked the cigar down, and it picked up a bit more spice and tanginess, with a hint of mocha, along the way.

Verdict: The TESA Cabinet 312 is an enjoyable, not overly complex stick. There were a couple of small issues I didn’t experience with TESA’s other cigar lines, and I experienced them with a few of the 312s. Of the TESA cigars I’ve tried so far, this is my least favorite, not because I dislike the 312, but because I like the others so much more.

TESA makes good cigars, and seems to be well on its way to single-handedly restoring Chicago to its proper place as the cigar capital of the midwest, smoking ban and all.

I’ll get some of the other TESA cigars reviewed soon. Promise.

Cigar of the Week: Drew Estate Liga Privada T-52

Brand: Drew Estate
Line: Liga Privada
Vitola: Toro; 6 x 52
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: American Habano
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican
Body: Full
Strength: Full
Price: About $10-$13

I’ve recently been hanging out more at TESA Cigars in Chicago, and the folks there carry their own sticks and Drew Estate exclusively. So, after some prodding from #cigarchat participant Ron Hollatz at a recent Drew Estate event at the store, I picked up a couple of the new Drew Estate Liga Privada T-52 sticks to try.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Liga Privada T-52 is its smooth, shiny wrapper. It’s quite dark and has an oily sheen on it. The T-52’s pre-light flavor has hints of hay, pepper and a touch of sweetness reminiscent of cocoa, and it has a good pre-light draw. The T-52 is definitely a well-made stick.

Once lit, the T-52 produced a mostly peppery flavor, with hints of cocoa, a sweet scent and a thick plume of smoke. As the cigar progressed through the middle third, it got leathery, and towards the end, it became a bit spicier. It burned evenly, and had solid, mostly white ash.

Verdict: I wasn’t sure what to expect after I tried the Liga Privada T-9 not too long ago. (A review for that will come soon.) The Drew Estate Liga Privada T-52 is an enjoyable, full-bodied cigar with a lot of flavor that won’t smack you in the face. It’s a bit pricier than other Drew Estate offerings, at $10+, but it’s definitely worth a try; you may even end up making it a regular part of your cigar rotation.

Use Twitter lists to build your personal brand

NOTE: I originally posted this on the Personal Branding Blog.

If you’re a personal brand, or are looking to build your personal brand, you can use Twitter lists as well. Here are some easy things you can do to get noticed:

– Thank every person who lists you. While it may take only a second to add someone to a Twitter list, it also takes a second to notice that you’re on someone else’s list. If someone thinks you add enough value to warrant addition to their contacts, thank the person who adds you. If you’re not following the person who added you, give them a follow and then, once they follow you back, DM them a quick thank-you note. A thank-you note will get you noticed, and it’s yet another opportunity to talk to people in your network.

– Follow lists compiled by people you’re looking to network with. If you’re an ultra-networker, a job seeker or simply someone looking to be seen, one way you can get noticed is by following someone else’s list. Many lists have no followers, and if you can distinguish yourself by being the first follower of someone else’s list, not only does it distinguish you, but it gives you and that person something to talk about. Also, it shows you who they think adds value to their day.

– Create lists of people you meet offline. Some folks have thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers, most of whom they’ve never met before. As you meet people at conferences, networking events and through work, you may want to add them to a list devoted to people you’ve met.An easier way to do this could be to create a new list for each conference and event you attend. This way, your Twitter contacts will be organized for quick recall.

– Create lists to show how well-rounded you are. Some folks live, breathe and evangelize social media all day, every day, and quite often, their Twitter streams are filled with all sorts of social media-related blog posts, re-tweets and general observations. While this is great, it will cause their stream to be one-dimensional and, therefore, useless to most people who actually use Twitter.

Create a list of useful people to follow in your city or town. Create a separate list about your interests. Create lists around your musical and/or artistic tastes. Show me that you’re a well-rounded person, and I’m more likely to follow you on Twitter.

– Showcase your happy clients. For successful consultants, whether their business grows depends in part on positive word of mouth. If you connect potential leads with your happy customers, you’ll find that there’s a good chance your business will grow. Twitter is just another channel through which you can connect your clients with potential customers. At the end of your projects, don’t just ask clients for LinkedIn recommendations, but ask if they would want to be added to a special Twitter list just for clients who recommend you. This way, a person who goes to your Twitter profile can instantly find people who like your work.

Keep in mind that it may be easy for business competitors to scour your lists and pick out your customers, and that a “client recommendation” Twitter list could be an incubator for negative word of mouth, or that there are some clients who just won’t want their names out there. Be very careful in who you pick.

These are just some ways to grow your personal brand through your Twitter lists. If I left anything out, please feel free to leave your suggestions as comments after this post!

Lifestreaming: Live Your Life in 140 Characters (My #140conf presentation)

Chicago Epicurean: Wine Soiree review

I originally posted my review of the Wine Soiree over on my lifestream, since I was having some issues with this blog’s template at the time.

Anyway, here’s my audio Wine Soiree review.