Interview: Julia Roy of Manilla

During SXSW in Austin, Texas Julia Roy, VP of Marketing at Manilla, and I took some time during brunch (and yummy bloody mary’s) to chat about her new career and why consumers should check out the cool and useful online application.

ME:  Why did you choose to work for Manilla?

JULIA:  I wanted to go back into the start-up world and do something that I really believed in. The app is something I would personally use and it adds tremendous value to people’s lives. I also wanted to see something from the ground up. Up until Manilla I had worked with some very big brands, and they already have a presence online. So you would normally augment whatever kind of sentiment and things they are already implementing. BUT, when you are at a start-up like Manilla, you have to strategize how you would use social to take a brand from “nothing” to “something” – I wanted to tackle that challenge.

ME:  For the readers out there, tell us why they should check out Manilla.

JULIA:  It would save you a lot of time! Right now you spend a lot of time managing your bills and it is a large consumer problem. Some people have a range of twenty different accounts including banks, credit cards, travel, rewards, and subscriptions. You get some in mail, some in email and with all the different ways you receive and pay bills, you can easily lose track. For example, you could have gotten this trip to SXSW for free if you  kept track of points! In short, Manilla helps you keep track. It’s not a social network but a personal application to help you manage your accounts.

ME:  And it’s free for consumers?

JULIA: : Yes Free!

ME:  That’s awesome. And we consumers definitely like Free. Could you explain more about the customizable options and capabilities for consumers?

JULIA:  It’s very customizable for user ease with reminders however far apart you want. You can also add your own accounts and Manilla will have any of those available for you. In addition if you don’t see one you use such as a store credit card, we can build that account as needed and/or on request. Typically we can build any request within a week.

ME:  Since I am a social media geek and I know you are too, how are you utilizing social media for Manilla?

JULIA:  We are using social for customer service and engagement. We are mainly focusing on Facebook and Twitter to start with. For instance, we don’t have a lot of video content yet, so YouTube is not a focus for us. The point is to make brand “real” and it’s a large challenge for a company like Manilla because we manage very personal information and in turn must be professional and build trust first on social networks.

Social is also a conduit to make sure we are responding to people talking about our brand and engage with them. We also run contests and promotions such as the 5K to people who sign up for the beta version!

ME:  5K? I want. I want!

JULIA: Continues to ease her mouth which is on fire from the bloody mary’s.

ME: So if you had to pick one tool you couldn’t live without when handling Manilla, what would it be?

JULIA:  CoTweet because it makes managing convos so much easier! Like Manilla manages your accounts, CoTweet manages my social.

ME: Going back to Manilla and it’s sheer awesomeness with convenience and organization – what is the one thing consumers should know about its advantage and asset?

JULIA: It will get you “Sys-te-matized!”

ME: Chuckling. Systematized?

JULIA: Yes! Manilla helps you get systematized! Psychologically all these bills and items to pay can crowd your mind and inhibit your ability to enjoy and relax. So Manilla helps you organize so you can relax and know Manilla is doing it for you.

ME: I like it!

The interview wrapped up with “cheers” over our bloody mary’s and a fabulous brunch. I definitely suggest each of you to check out Manilla for yourself. If you ever have any questions, definitely hit up @mymanilla for the answers!

5 Social Media Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid

Would you go to a cocktail party and talk incessantly about how awesome you are? Would you not say thank you or please? Would you not listen to the person you are talking to? Obviously not. So why would you do such things in social media? Many people make mistakes on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, which they would not make in their daily lives. Keep reading for my suggestions on what mistakes to avoid and how to avoid them!

1. Being Selfish: Ever see that person on Twitter who just tweets and tweets about their blog, their product, their service, and where they went to eat and drink? Did you unfollow them, yet? I find it maddening and unfortunate when people think Twitter is just a loud speaker for them to blare out what’s on their mind and what’s going on with their business. Social media like Twitter and Facebook , like in real life, requires listening and conversing, rather than a one-sided conversation that leaves the others wanting to run out the door and lose the keys. Like attending a cocktail party, say hi, say thank you, say please, and be considerate. Listen to the other person “in the room” and converse. Don’t talk at them. Talk with them. Having trouble listening? I would suggest making a Twitter list of people you want to regularly listen to and engage with. Also, set up a search column or keywords on a Twitter client such asTweetdeck for words you consider relevant to you and/or your business so you can stay on target. Engaging doesn’t mean you are straying from your business goals — it will only help you further them!

 

2. Being a robot: I love when I look on my Twitter lists and I get bombarded with automated Tweets regarding a product, service or blog post. Even better…the auto DM. Can you sense my sarcasm? I understand and believe that scheduled Tweets can be helpful especially over periods of time when one is away on vacation, etc. However. when there are ten in a row, or the same Tweet over and over, and they are all self-promotional and no engagement…Fail! Like in customer service when you call to talk to a person and not a machine — in social media no one wants to “listen” to an automated “robot.” As in #1 above, take a minute and listen and tweet relevantly yet in a friendly manner, which initiates conversation, not robotic movement. That way you can curate content (if you don’t have time to create it), ReTweet others, and question and comment on what others are saying.

3. Expecting instant success: Unlike winning the lottery, social media does not mean instant gratification. One needs to put in effort, time, and work into increasing fans, followers, and creating actual relationships on each platform. Most people do not get married after the first date, and like on Twitter and Facebook people may not like your page or follow you right away. And if they do — it does not mean they are listening to your every word unless you make it relevant to them. Thus, you need to use tools to monitor your brand (free or paid) in order to see what’s relevant to your target market, your competition, and take the time to Tweet, post, and share awesome stuff that make your followers and fans want to run off and have a shot-gun wedding.

4. Spamming: Like spam email? Telemarketers calling your phone? Then why would you like people who spam your Twitter feed, your Facebook wall, or your blog? Like in #1 above, it’s not all about you and what you have to say. So do not think people care about a cool new link on your website…because they probably do not. Instead of spamming someone who spoke about an iPad, with your free offer to win one, how about adding value to the conversation. Have a relevant blog that gives good advice and content regarding your product/service/market. Consider asking a question, and if the person converses back, share relevant info that would help them. Creating awareness is one thing, but converting someone to a customer takes time. Not spam.

 

5. Not being real: As Julia Roy said at the Harvard Business School conference (Dynamic Women in Business) — “be real.” People can sense dishonesty and those who are fake from a mile away. You will lose admiration, fans, followers, and brand value if you are not real. People want real relationships with real people. Be you. Be real. This matters whether it is your personal brand or your company brand. Find your listening app of choice, whether it be Hootsuite, Google Reader, Tweetdeck, etc — think about what you want to say, comment — and speak freely. Add some sarcasm, some spark. Don’t be so stuffy because you’re afraid of what people might think. Be you. Be real. And have fun.

 

So, dear friends, marketers, community managers, and fellow social media geeks — do your best to avoid these five mistakes. Although there is more to social media than just these five items to consider, they are a great step in the right direction of building relationships, engaging fully, and creating awareness for one’s brand.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

Bridging the Gap: Social Media Conference

Bridging the Gap: A Mashup of Academic Frameworks & Business Applications OR otherwise known as #BTG11 was the first conference I have co-planned, and with months of preparation, Friday, February 18th, 2011 was a great success thanks to the help of my amazing co-planners Sean Zinsmeister (@szinsmeister) and Paul Schmidt (@drumming).

Our main man MC, Joselin Mane (@Joselinmane) kicked it off with great intros and prizes to the audience. Academic Keynote Erik Qualman (@equalman) then started off the conference with a great energy and had the crowd not only roaring in laughter but applause. My fave part of his Keynote presentation was the tools he recommended (sorry for the blurry snapshot). I am a definite fan of some of these tools including all the free fun Google tools, Wisestamp, Hootsuite, and Grader. If you haven’t tried them out, definitely do!

Then the Facebook panel duo, Brian Simpson (@Bsimi) and Dan Zarrella (@danzarrella) were the perfect combo. They were informative, entertaining, and best of all, the complete opposites of one another. They were fabulous at answering the questions of the audience and the crafty ones that Tamsen McMahon @tamadear (our wonderful moderator) threw at them.

Paul Gillin (@pgillin) and Eric Enge (@ericenge) were both fabulous solo speakers who taught the crowd the importance of ROI and SEO, respectively. And although I learned a lot from each, my favorite part was when Meg Fowler (@megfowler) Tweeted, “The only thing in my life with a crystal-clear ROI is coffee. #BTG11″ during Paul’s session. I mean, come on…how can you not agree? Meg also won a kickass raffle prize for that Tweet. Win-Win!

Tamsen knocked it out of the park with her moderating skills for the Content Panel, which included C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman), Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs), Michelle McCormack (@Michellemmm) and John Deighton (@HBSMKTG). A great mix of on the panel, which allowed for great conversation on how content not only needs to be relevant, but one must take the time to create said content in order to reach one’s target market effectively.

Perhaps I am biased, but I must add that lunch was delicious!

In order to avoid food coma, Julia Roy (@juliaroy ) ensured everyone stayed wide awake with her lively presentation on Twitter for Business. It was not only entertaining but full of great case studies including Best Buy, Whole Foods and @comcastcares. Great examples of how brands should utilize Twitter…but please recall, as Julia stated, “There is no one right way to use Twitter for Business.” Great point!

And to close off the great day, Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) kicked ass and took names. He demonstrated the importance of inbound marketing and how social media is just a “piece of the puzzle”, yet an important piece of course. And one thing, people should definitely remember to take away when focusing on marketing and social media: “don’t dip your toe in the water, jump in all the way!”

But the fun didn’t stop there! There was of course an after-party for mingling, free food and drinks. And lets just say the song O.P.P. began playing…enough said? Bring it back to the 90s?

My last remark is that I am lucky enough to not only know many of these speakers personally, but am honored to know them professionally as well. Great people, Great time. What more can you ask for? #BTG11 Rocked! If you don’t believe me: check out below how much the conference Trended on Twitter. AWESOME!

If you missed out:

Presentation Slides

My Flickr Pics

More pics and videos will be added to the Facebook Page as well.

Zipcar: At your Fingertips “on” and “offline”

Are you familiar with Zipcar? Well let me ask a simpler question – do you own a car? No? Zipcar is the solution. When I was in college (not too many moons ago), my best friend and I wanted to rent a car to go away for the weekend (as much as we loved Boston, it was nice to get out of the city once in a while). BUTTT….as many know, you need to be 25 to rent a car (and not get charged up the ass). Solution: Zipcar. The alternative car rental service, which allowed you to rent at 21 (awesome) and didn’t make you go to a car rental location (and abide by silly restraining open/close hours) – even more awesome. And as many fellow “zipsters” know – it gets better. Most likely a zipcar is located right around the corner of your apartment/job/gym/school for your utmost convenience. Whether for a couple hours to run to Wrentham Outlets for that “shopping spree” or head to the beach or the slopes – my zipcar membership became “clutch.” It may get pricey if you rent for longer periods of time – but for me, the convenience was worth the extra cost — especially with the gas and insurance included. High Five!

My best friend and I – who lived together for multiple years during and after college – used Zipcar anytime we needed a “getaway.” We tried out the Mini (cute for the beach), SUVs, hybrids, and the always reasonable Honda. Kind of an awesome way to test-drive to see what car you may want in the future too.

To this day, I am pleased with my membership because I am a woman of having things at my fingertips (convenience is key). And being a social media geek, I am all about having my news, info, and chatter at my fingertips too. So as I randomly tweeted today “@Zipcar Been a member since I was 21 (ok so that’s almost 7 years)… had some great trips and memories. cc: @juliaroy” — I was impressed by the fast and speedy response by the “person behind the handle.” The community manager was friendly and interested to hear more. So hear I am, Zipcar — telling you more. I am impressed by your product, service, and now even more with your friendly banter online – in “real-time” – just the way I like it.

And as promised here are a few pictures from my adventures back in college. :)

Save the Date: February 18, 2011

Suffolk University brings you Bridging The Gap: A Mashup of Academic Framework & Business Social Media Conference on February 18th, 2011.

Social Media and Inbound Marketing are making their way through business and culture.  This migration of ideologies creates opportunities and complexities within all organizations.  Our conference intends to connect academia and real world practices, strengthen the connection between the frameworks preached in schools and the practical applications being used in organizations.

The Info:

February 18th, 2011
Suffolk University
120 Tremont St
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Registration Time: 8:00 am

Lunch Included.

6pm Post-Conference Cocktail Networking Event at Red Sky

The Agenda (order may be switched):

1. Academic Keynote

2. Expert Panel on Facebook

3. How to utilize SEO in your Marketing Plan

4. Expert Panel on Blogging

5. Expert Panel on Twitter

6. Industry Keynote

Our two keynotes are Erik Qualman and  Mike Volpe !! In addition we have confirmed speakers such as Julia Roy, Brian Simpson, and Michelle McCormack with Joselin Mane as our main man MC!! Stay tuned to find out who else will be speaking.

Also stay tuned for the landing site (under construction) for up to date details.

Until then…Hit us up for more info:

The Planning Committee:

Pam Sahota

Sean Zinsmeister

Paul Schmidt


How do you #Signoff?

The Spa Week Retreat which my friends @juliaroy and @clayhebert attended, gave a chance for social media pioneers, thinkers, and strategists to relax and aka #Signoff. Take a view at this video to get a glimpse at this kickass retreat that the rest of us missed out on….and hope to be a part of next time.