Breakfast Hangout: Talking Brands

As always, muppets are an inspiration in innovative branding. They hosted a Google hangout last month! Topic? "Are you a Man or a Muppet?"

Next Wednesday morning, Suzanne and I will pour coffees, sit down at our respective breakfast tables in Richmond, VA, and Takoma Park, MD, open laptops, and talk about brand management. We hope you’ll join us!

Wednesday, March 28 – 8 am
Google Hangout: gplus.to/TalkingAboutTalking

Some tech tips to prepare: you’ll need a Google+ account and Google hangout capabilities active. Luckily, Google makes it easy. Check out everything you need to know before you hangoutgetting started, and settings and requirements. You’ll need to make sure your webcam is up and running, and you’ll be required to download one new plugin.

At 8 am on Wednesday, visit gplus.to/TalkingAboutTalking where you’ll see a Hangout about brand management underway. Jump right in! You can also participate between now and then by posting questions and links here and/or on our Google + page.
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Resource Roundup

Suzanne returned to Lamplighter's chalkboard to illustrate a communications idea. Tactics may constantly evolve but basic strategy remains simple - send out a carefully packaged message to inspire. We weren't certain our "message in a bottle" actually communicates, but after a week at the beach, I love the graphic.

And we’re back after a brief travel break! I was in Panama for a friend’s wedding and Suzanne in New York for business and fun. I came back to a virtual pile of resources from colleagues, friends, and mentors. Here’s a digest:

The Social Hub: Facebook vs Blog

Part of a series on key takeaways from The Communications Plan session

An organization’s website is a source for reliable information, brand identity, mission, expertise. Hopefully it’s also a forum for visitors to engage with each other, rate experiences, share recommendations, stream videos and podcasts. But unless you work for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc, your website is not a social network.

So organizations have learned to go out and meet people where they are. We set up pages (or, shortly, timelines) and work hard to engage fans. We join conversations (and #followtrends). We offer incentives to check in. And we try to make sure all of these activities are easily associated with our organizations and drive traffic home.

Suzanne and I discussed Facebook as a hub for our many scattered profiles, a digital 3rd place. Pages are highly customizable–this recent New York Times piece gives a how-to on 12 less-known functions from polling to blocking abusive comments. I wonder how the shift to timeline will affect our organizations’ Facebook identities.

In my experience, an organization’s blog can also be a social hub, and maybe a more useful one. Its content and style can be carefully vetted yet remain spontaneous, responsive, personal, collaborative, authentic, and out just a little ahead of the “institutional voice” represented by your website and press releases. A blog may seem as if it would share your website’s issues–it’s not a well-known digital gathering place, at least not yet. But as readers become engaged, it can steadily infiltrate RSS feeds, Google+, reddit, delicious, FB social reader, and help you jump to the top of search results. Why not use it as your daily newspapers and glossy magazines use their blogs?

Facebook, blog, or something else? Will Google+ play a roll, especially with the hangout function? Take the poll, comment, and tell us about your efforts to build a hub online.