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Whenever I find a cool item or get good service from someone, I usually blog or tweet about it. I enjoy sharing flotsam like that, and I can do it quickly and easily with Twitter, Posterous, or Facebook.

I had an unusual experience worth sharing a few weeks ago, but this was no mere flotsam---this story needed the full multimedia treatment if I wanted it to spread.

Take a look:

The night I posted this video, I dialed Chico's customer service number to alert them. I also let our heroine Sally know, of course! And I shared it on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

After a few days, a Chico's PR rep emailed me: "I recently saw your amazing post about your Chico's shopping experience! I would love to send you something to say thank you for sharing your story." Later, a $50 gift certificate arrived at my door. Sweet.

Content Begets Content Begets Content

Customer experience mastermind Leigh Durst saw it and blogged that telling your story matters less than how it's told and who it's shared with if it's going to get any word-of-mouth love. Leigh must be onto something, because Andy Sernovitz, the king of word-of-mouth marketing himself, also shared it with his readers.

My favorite blog-nod came from verbal tycoon and rabblerouser Margot Lester, who offered ideas on how companies can reap more benefits from testimonials like mine.

I wondered what benefits Chico's would be able to reap.  Could I get the inside scoop for Ann Handley Daily Fix?  I asked the PR rep if I could interview her to learn what impact the video had within Chico's organization.

No such luck. "At this time we will not be able to participate in the interview." Drat!

Remove the Social Media Blinders

No one from Chico's has commented on my video page or any of the other blogs that featured the video.  Yeah, I did get an email ... but if you don't at least publicly acknowledge the mention of your company on someone's blog, your "silence" still conveys something about your brand.

Maybe the Chico's team is focusing their social media attention on Facebook (62,704 fans!) and Twitter (2,416 @LoveChicos followers!).  I can see lots of conversation there, and Chico's is doing a decent job in those venues.   But no matter how many glittering new social networks emerge, marketers should still be monitoring their brand in the blogosphere. There's content gold to be mined in blogs, perfect for sharing on all the other networks!

This is pure conjecture about Chico's social media marketing tactics and policies, of course, since I was unable to get my interview.  I still admire Chico's and remain a forever-fangirl. I'll be shopping there tomorrow, in fact.

As for Sally?  She has promised to let me know if she gets any formal recognition herself.  She certainly deserves it.

The Frequently Asked Question, Answered

"How long did it take you to make this, Shelley?"

Because the story pretty much came together in my head during the home from Austin, I spent less than an hour writing, recording, and editing the narration. Creating the visuals (you see 69 in 3.5 minutes) and synching them with audio, music and sound effects: 15 hours.

I invested the time because once I had the idea to tell the story this way, it grabbed hold of my brain and refused to let me focus on any Real Work. I'll bet truly creative people must feel like that a lot---if they don't get their idea OUT THERE for an audience, their skulls will explode.

I'm jazzed that my video has generated so many conversations and new aquaintances.  Still ... I hope Chico's will grab it and find ways to use the story.  What would you tell them to do?

Continue reading "Heroic Acts of Retailism: An Opportunity Wasted?" ... Read the full article

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image of Shelley Ryan

Shelley spent over five years at MarketingProfs, playing Den Mother to thousands of paid subscribers. She programmed, produced and promoted weekly online seminars featuring the biggest names in marketing. The result: More frequent broadcasts, increased participation, and higher ratings — 65% of the seminars last year earned five stars from the audience.

Shelley recently launched Killer Webinars to help organizations launch their own webinar programs. She also blogs, speaks, and assists clients with live event production. Her new mission is to rid the world of lousy webinars, one broadcast at a time.