4 Steps to Help You Transition From Corporate to Start-Up Life

When I joined Silverback Social, I left a large law firm with unlimited resources and a thriving marketing department.  Since you are one LinkedIn search from finding out what law firm that is, I will save you the typing, it was Jackson Lewis and they were a pleasure to work for. Five years in, I realized that while I really enjoyed working there, I should take the tools I learned and see if I could be a part of something new and exciting. To join a great group of people who were building something great was a no brainer at this point in my life. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but what I didn’t realize was that a lot of the processes I used and my mind set would have to be drastically altered. Three months in, I am slowly starting to make that adjustment. 

1)    Embrace the volatility – I have always been very organized, both personally and professionally. Bills, paid on time. Tasks, clearly mapped out for me. I would look at my schedule for the week and plan/visualize what I expected from my meetings. I learned quickly, that this was not the case anymore. Cash Flow for small businesses is always a priority. There are days where playing accounts receivable trumps everything else on your to do with and that’s OK. When I first started at Silverback I had a short list of things to do. Quickly that short list became longer. Quickly, what I thought was a priority was trumped by new and exciting opportunities that became priorities. Those were then trumped by something else, and that’s OK.

2)    Get creative with tools – No longer did I have a one-stop shop for printing, scanning, faxing (not that I ever used that anyway) and an IT department a 4 digit dial away. I quickly started using free applications:

  • Sunrise – Sunrise is a fast, effective tool for managing schedules. If you’re a Google Calendar user, for example, the app syncs between the two services in real-time. If you’re on the road a lot, the time zone support is handy and automatically adjusts your appointment times to the correct hours. The weather feature, based on your location, is also a helpful addition to plan your busy days. Most importantly, adding and editing events is a cinch.
  • Genius Scan – turns your iPhone into a pocket scanner. It enables you to quickly scan documents on the go and email the scans as JPEG or PDF. It isn’t the prettiest scan but it is effective for signing contracts and other one off scan projects.
  • CardMunch automatically converts business cards into contacts with a click of a button. Perfect when you don’t have a CRM system in place yet.
  • Your Network – I realized quickly that many of the people in my network thrived on my enthusiasm at my new opportunity. They were willing to help me in a variety of ways and teach me some valuable lessons. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your own network. You will find out that the best interactions are when you are able to help someone even more they than they can help you.

3)    There is always more to do – Sure, this is true of any job but it is more important in a startup than ever. My leaving Jackson Lewis was not going to stop them from continuing to grow both in size and revenue. They replaced me with a very smart and savvy internal hire who joined the other 8 marketing managers all brilliant hard workers. At Silverback, there is always something more to do. There is a certain responsibility:

  •       To the CEO who agreed to hire you to help build his life’s dream
  •       To the employees who work tirelessly with one another for a common goal
  •       Most important, to yourself – To know at the end of the day, fail or succeed, you left it all on the line to build something unique and of  value.

4)   Build your own brand – Most startups have little to no marketing money. This fact forces companies to be creative, or in this case choose the option that is right in front of you. Take some time to build your own brand, it will help you meet more people who can help your business, more people who can help your career and it spreads brand awareness. Don’t feel like you have to be on TV, or an author like our CEO Chris Dessi. Before that he was a blogger, reached 500+ LinkedIn connections, and started his own website. These are great first steps that anyone can take to make him or herself more relevant. While anyone can do this, in a Startup you’re encouraged to do this. You have a voice, you have unique experience, and you have value and flexibility to find ways to work with anyone you meet.

Has this been your experience? Add any steps you think I may be missing in the comments below.



I Have a Secret, & It’s Called Whisper

Whisper App

Whisper is a mobile app that enables users to share secrets anonymously. Users can place text over various backgrounds that illustrate the theme of the secrets they share. The app claims to provide complete anonymity to its user. However, with today’s social media tools at everyone’s fingertips, it may be difficult for users to keep their identities hidden.

The idea of Whisper is similar to that of the popular website PostSecret, which was founded by Frank Warren in 2004 as a way for people to share their secrets in the form of postcards. PostSecret contributors anonymously send physical postcards to a central mailing address to be featured on the website. After generating a huge following, PostSecret even published a number of books of fan-submitted secrets and confessions. Founder Frank Warren also hosts live events for PostSecret fans and contributors to meet each other and listen together to more secrets and stories.

There is an enormous sentiment of community and trust among PostSecret fans. Whisper, only having been around for a couple of years, has the potential to generate a similar community based on trust and common feelings. However, the nature of PostSecret’s process of gathering physical postcards via snail mail enables PostSecret contributors to maintain their anonymity to a greater degree than Whisper contributors. Whisper, which allows users to quickly and easily upload their deep dark thoughts and confessions directly from their mobile devices to an online network of countless other users, might not be able to hide users’ true identities as to the same extent as PostSecret. The nature of the sharing process is different, and so the level of trust among users is also different.

Will Whisper prove to be as influential and popular as PostSecret? Does true anonymity really exist anymore on the Internet or on social media? There’s really no definitive answer yet, but it’s definitely important for Internet users to be wary of what they share online.

Silverback Social CEO Chris Dessi spoke to Fox News last night to weigh in on Whisper. Would you share your deepest darkest secrets on Whisper? Let us know in the comments below.

Social Media Case Study: Target’s Awesome Shop

Target has a brand new e-commerce site called the “Awesome Shop”. The standalone site is updated daily and includes social integration by using data driven from Pinterest as well as from Target.

The site has a fantastic layout and easy to read descriptions for each item. Essentially, Target has taken data from Pinterest and combined it with their own to create an easy to read layout. The user can search for items by category (food, beauty, home decor, etc) or by “top pinned” and “highly reviewed” items from the social community. Once you click an item, you see the product rating (Target’s data), the total reviews (Target’s data), and how many times it has been pinned (Pinterest data). The user also has the ability to pin the item directly from the site, and view ‘more details’ which redirects to the Target website where the user can make a direct purchase.

The standalone site with social integration is in its beta form but don’t be surprised if this becomes a permanent fixture, not only for Target, but for other big box retailers. A site with social integration allows brands to look at new data to help identify consumer trends. By using Pinterest, Target is adopting a network that they know their key demographic, 18-29 year old women, is already comfortable with.

The “Awesome Shop” website was developed in a couple of weeks by an internal team called the RAD (Rapid Accelerated Development) group. This is a small agile team that can create and test new projects. The importance of a team like this will surely rise as other companies will want to experiment with other social networks and technologies, so that their consumers will have the best socially powered shopping experience.

The fact that Target chose to integrate Pinterest speaks volumes of how they think social media can directly influence a purchase. When people ask you, “What is the ROI of social media?”, point to this example. If a brand has an engaged community and they provide the right value at the right time, consumers will BUY!

The simplicity of the site and the perfect combination of social data with 3rd party data make this a truly “Awesome Shop”.

Facebook Algorithm Change = Death of Memes?

A few days ago, Facebook made some additional changes to its algorithm. Here are the changes summarized below:

  • Posts to popular articles and other content will show up more than images.
  • Text posts reach a larger audience than image posts do.

We’ve seen the changes affecting the reach of our posts over the last few days:


Our average reach was ~50, but over the last 3 days, the highest reach for one of our posts was only 22.

What does this mean? Well first, forget trying to get engagement through memes. Facebook is becoming inundated with meme images and it’s clear the social network is looking to shift towards a place to get high-quality content rather than a meme farm.

Second, this change coupled with the recent “story bump” update means content aggregators will be rewarded for posting highly engaging content. This means you’ll probably see a lot more articles from large publications like the New York Times and high-traffic blogs like Mashable.

It seems that, in an effort to compete with other quickly growing social networks like reddit and to get users to stay on the platform, Facebook is trying to become a network that people go to for high-quality news and content. Also, in an effort to become a valuable company in the eyes of shareholders, they are pushing smaller content creators to pay for sponsored posts and ads, since less trafficked blogs don’t tend to get as much engagement as larger publications.

If Facebook is a channel that you use in your marketing plan, consider these changes and test the effect your metrics.  Will the greater reach of text posts help your click-through rate, or will the lack of an image cause people to skim over your post even though it reaches more people?


Votopin: A Mobile Social Network Where Your Opinions Matter

I’m a bit of nerd. But I’m a nerd in the sense that I’m passionate about certain, specific things. I don’t just like sports. I love ultimate frisbee, because it’s an awesome hybrid of aspects from other sports, there are typically no referees, and the playful, laid-back culture of ultimate players is unlike that of any other sport I’ve played. I don’t just like music. I love djent (a sub-genre of metal) because it combines really heavy, crushing, staccato guitar breakdowns with intricate time signatures and complicated, melodic riffs. I don’t just love movies. I love psychological thrillers because they keep me asking questions, make me doubt the obvious, and let me try to predict twist endings while being delightfully creeped out and kept on edge.

I have all of these specific interests. These are the things I’m passionate about, and they bring me joy. So how do I find other people with interests like mine? How can I connect with people who have such a particular affinity for certain things?

Well I found the answer: a mobile app called Votopin.

Votopin is a new opinion-sharing app that enables you to express your thoughts on certain topics by creating “Votocards.” These topics can be anything: music, politics, beverages, movies, technology, current events, sports, holidays, and much more. You can choose a topic, create a Votocard about it, and share it with people who are following you on Votopin as well as with your friends on social media. When you create a Votocard, you are asked to answer a few questions about the topic, choose an image of a facial expression (or upload your own!) that describes how you feel about the topic, and provide any additional comments you have about the topic you’re reviewing. The Votopin app’s interface enables you to do this quickly and easily, and once you’ve finished your Votocard you can show it to your friends by email or text message, or by sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s a Votocard I created about Thanksgiving Day:




You can also see what topics are trending, what the general public mood is on a certain topic, and even gender and age demographics:



But wait, there’s more.

What makes Votopin different is that it connects you with other users who have similar interests. It does this by calculating “Likeness” scores between you and those users based on your interests and your reviews. This is extremely valuable because when you read a review of something you like or something you’re curious about on Votopin, you’re reading a review written by someone who’s into the same things you’re into. So, for example, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to see the new Hunger Games movie, you can read some reviews written by people who like what you like, so you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you should go see it.

As you make more Votocards, you can discover more people who like the same things you like. This app is a great way to learn about other people’s opinions that are relevant to yours as well as connecting with people who share your interests. So you can find new friends who are as crazy about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo book series as you are. Or you can see how people feel about the scandals involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and share your thoughts with them.

One suggestion I have for Votopin is to include a feature that enables users to interact with each other more directly. If I see that someone has created a Votocard about a book I’ve just recently read, and his or her opinion is totally different from mine, I’d like to be able to initiate a conversation with that person to discuss what we both liked and disliked about the book. Instead, I can only follow that person or send them a friend request. Some kind of chat or messaging feature would add a lot of value to the app, in my opinion.

There are a lot of opinions floating around out there in the social world. Votopin organizes them based on your interests and preferences and does a great job of making sense of all the noise. So how will you make your voice heard?


Would you use Votopin to share your opinion? What would you share? Tell us in the comments below.




Google+ Part III: If Content is King, on G+ it’s God.

In part II of the Google+ series, we illustrated the effects of certain engagement tactics on our follower and +1 count. More specifically, we:

  • Posted quality content to communities related to social media (~2-3/day).
  • Re-shared posts from other users (3-5/day).
  • Constructed quality comments on discussion topics within communities (~5/day).

We found that using these tactics did, in fact, increase engagement on our content and in addition to overall +1 and follower count.

For this week, we tried taking a couple more tactics suggested by G+ power users and testing their efficacy. Once again, using SumAll to record stats, this was the result:

Follower count: 55 -> 68

+1 count: 188 -> 301

The blue line indicates our followers, the purple line indicates our publishing activity which is all the content we share and reshare, and the orange line indicates our advocacy activity which is the +1’s, comments, and shares we get on our content.

The first thing you’ll notice about the graph is that our advocacy activity was consistently higher than our publishing activity on most days.  Basically, this means that we received more engagement (+1, share, comments), while posting less. In the second part of the series, we actually posted more, but received much less engagement (more on this in the conclusion).

The other thing to note here is that our +1 count grew at a much quicker rate than the previous week, and our follower count grew at about the same rate.

How We Did It

We were able to maintain steady growth of our follower and +1 count by employing these additional tactics:

  • Taking all posts and turning them into a longer form post:



  • Utilized “Ripples” to track spread of content and engage with influencers.

Conclusions & Key Takeaways

  • We received higher engagement per post due to the content we were posting. The post linked above was shared (posted on 2 communities) over 12 times and +1’d 20 times while other posts with significantly less copy and a colorful image got zero shares and +1’sSimply put, quantity does not equal engagement. Some tips on creating engaging content on Google+:
    • Take all posts and turn them into longer format posts. This means actually reading the articles you’re posting and summarizing them or drawing unique conclusions (click here for an example).
    • When creating a post, remember that the first 160 characters are the ones that show after creation. If the reader wants to read on, they must click the “read more” option on the post. So make sure you use a catchy title and tell readers what the post is about in the beginning.
    • Make sure you’re teaching your audience something or showing them something unique. This is how you share less, but get more engagement.
  • The “Ripples” feature found on each individual post’s options is a powerful tool to measure the spread of a piece of content and to find influencers within your field.  We used it to circle those who consistently reshared content and to thank those who reshared. Doing this led to direct “follow-backs.”
  • Communities are places to learn and share content with others in your field. Posting basic tips that everyone already knows will get your post removed, as in the case of this Pinterest tips post: https://plus.google.com/116778956448925804652/posts/2uFDkEE8FYE
  • We are getting a lot more engagement on communities than our actual G+ page. This tells us that communities are where people are spending most of their time, not the “stream” (similar to Facebook’s news feed).

In short, we proved that content is key to increased engagement, and that Google+ operates on a different plane than the other social platforms.  If you follow the tips here and that in Part II, we can guarantee that you’ll see a significant increase in engagement like we have.

In Part IV, we’ll test the effect of using images in our posts. Remember, you can track our progress by following us on Google+!

3 Reason’s Why I’m Bullish on Twitter’s IPO

I’m bullish on Twitter, but I’m by no means a financial analyst. I just see the manner in which the platform has transformed the way the world communicates.  Two days ago I was asked to speak about my feelings regarding Twitter’s IPO on Fox Business’s Varney & Co. In the segment I articulated three reasons why I’m bullish on Twitter:

1. Second Screen/Live Tweeting

Silverback was able to live tweet with an audience of millions during the Robin Roberts 20/20 special on behalf of our client the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. During this special, their “Someday is Today” commercial was airing. We live tweeted throughout the entire show, teasing that the commercial was about to air, and connecting with an audience on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the likes which they had never seen before.

2. Campaigns are Dead:

Bonin Bough and his team at Mondeleze International did something remarkable during the Super Bowl black out, sending a Tweet in real time that spoke to the moment …Tweeting “you can still dunk in the dark.” It was cute, appropriate, and oh so powerful!
Oreos still dunk in the dark

This is why I am 100% bullish on Twitter. Until there is another platform can (at scale) replicate this type of interaction and real time communication I will remain bullish.

3. People will Initially Complain About Ads, but They’ll Forget About it Soon.

We’ve seen this happen before, but most publically on Facebook. We toil, lament, complain and argue, but we always relent. Why? Because we love our social networks, and all of our friends are already there. Of course there is the danger of the turning in MySpace, but I think the Dick Costolo won’t let that happen to Twitter. There is a myriad of money making opportunities that they can tap into without diluting the Twitter users experience.  I believe this is a non issue.

What do you think? Will Twitter’s IPO fall flat or soar!

The Curious Case of Richie Incognito – A Social Spin

There is no doubt the NFL adopts a “Band of Brothers” mentality. It makes perfect sense; only these players understand the physical and emotional stress endured on a weekly basis. This stress helps form a nearly unbreakable bond amongst teammates competing for the same cause.

This is why it was curious to see a news story about NFL player Jonathan Martin leaving his team due to bullying from other players. Certainly rookie hazing happens in the NFL. However, all would agree that it used to be very rare for a story like this to end up in the mainstream media. I say this because bullying and other “behind closed doors” practices are becoming more transparent thanks in part to social and digital media.

Content is king in today’s media and when Sunday came this story quickly made headlines as ESPN, NFL Network and countless blogs used it to help fill 5-10 hours of coverage leading up to the day’s NFL games. What was once a Miami Dolphin internal matter that would likely have resulted in a suspension for Incognito, quickly became a Social firestorm that will more than likely end his career and call for a much deeper investigation of NFL teams and their policies.

Social Spin

Incognito took Twitter by storm Sunday morning to defend himself against accusations made by ESPN, particularly Adam Schefter. Schefter, known for his breaking news, tweeted a link to an ESPN article-mentioning Incognito as the cause of Joseph Martins team departure. Today, Schefter has followed up by sending out 5 separate tweets to his nearly 2.6 million followers detailing the exact content of a voice mail from Incognito to Martin. Part of this voice mail discusses Incognito’s angry reaction to seeing information on Martin’s twitter account.

Adam Schefter is highly regarded as one of, if not the most informed NFL reporter. He consistently uses Twitter as his medium of choice for breaking news. His tweets make waves not just with his followers but also with the tens of millions who see his message retweeted. Incognito on the other hand, did himself no favors with his barrage of angry tweets. He would have been better off simply pointing those curious to the Miami Dolphins team statement, which he ended up doing after he deleted the multiple tweets in his rant. Unfortunately, this was after mainstream media outlets saw the tweets and created content around them.

Take Away

Hazing in the NFL is a common practice, one often shrugged off by casual observers. Richie Incognito had an opportunity to use his digital brand to help diffuse a bad and embarrassing situation. Instead, he ended up fast-forwarding his own free fall by taking an aggressive and defensive stance on the topic. With the spotlight on him, Richie could have used Twitter as a platform for a heartfelt apology or a standard response keeping the matter within control of the Dolphins. While his 40k plus followers pale in comparison to Schefter, the media spotlight would have had his message distributed to all of the right channels. Incognito may have even received more followers for the act. Instead his response to Schefter was ill conceived, curt and came off as more bullying.

Social Media outlets are an extension of your own personal brand. In times of crisis management they can be your biggest asset or an accelerant to your downfall. It is important to be educated on the difference because once your response hits the Internet; there is no turning back.

Google+ Part II: If it’s a ghost town, why is there so much noise?

We’ve all heard it, before: “Don’t bother with Google+, it’s a ghost town,” “No one uses it, why should we spend time on there?” And this is the advice given by so called “social media professionals” and “experts.” It’s sad because given their “expert” and “guru” status, they really don’t know anything about one of the fastest growing social networks.  All they know is that “it’s great for SEO purposes” so they simply repurpose Facebook posts onto Google+ without actually knowing how the SEO benefits actually work.

In an effort to shed some light on how to properly use the platform, we conducted a small experiment to illustrate how busy the social network actually is. As stated in Part I of the Google+ series, engagement is the key to SEO benefits, so we followed the advice of thought leaders like Mark Traphagen, and increased our +1 count from 101 to 188, and our follower count from 38 to 55 in 5 days.

How We Did It

With the use of the free analytics platform SumAll, we kept track of the before and after effects of our efforts. Here is what our engagement looked like before implementing specific engagement tactics:

The blue line indicates our followers, the purple line indicates our publishing activity which is all the content we share and reshare, and the orange line indicates our advocacy activity which is the +1’s, comments, and shares we get on our content.

As you can see, there was little to no activity. Now, look at the graph after implementing specific engagement tactics:

Clearly there is a marked difference between the two graphs. Here’s what we did:

  • Posted quality content to communities related to social media (~2-3/day; this tactic had the most direct effect on overall advocacy).
  • Re-shared posts from other users (3-5/day).
  • Constructed quality comments on discussion topics within communities (~5/day).



The large dip that you see in the middle was due to us not engaging at all to see if the relationship between publishing and advocacy activity was more correlative than causative. We came to the conclusion that publishing activity and advocacy activity are indeed causative, thus boosting followers due to higher engagement. BUT! This does not mean you should spam! This simply means that the sole activity of publishing content will drive engagement. Spamming will certainly lose you followers and get you banned from communities.

However, we also noticed that the type of content posted might play a factor in terms of advocacy.  Anytime we posted a piece of content and wrote an explanatory post accompanying it, we seemed to get higher engagement – in other words treating Google+ almost like a “mini-blog.”

To improve engagement, we also found that participation in communities is key because that’s where all the people are conversing. Whenever we just posted content to our page, we didn’t get much engagement, but posting to communities put a lot more eyeballs on our content, leading to shares and +1′s. Just take note that most communities are heavily moderated and you will be punished for ruthless self-promotion and nonsense. Remember, the goal is to share quality content. Engagement is just a consequence of doing so.

We are starting to see that Google+ is truly a content driven platform that’s fueled by the people and their engagement, even more so than Facebook or Twitter.  We will continue to use these tactics while employing others such as mini-blog post style content, and utilizing Ripples.  We predict our follower count to increase exponentially due to the additional engagement tactics we will employ.  Be sure to follow us on Google+ and track our progress!