Maker Hunt’s AMA with Tamar Weinberg from CareerDean

Tamar Weinberg is a killer inbound sales closer, a digital and social media strategist, a customer happiness hero, freelance editor, and author of The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web (O’Reilly). She has been involved in the Internet since the early 90s and has dabbled in social online interactions for more than twenty years. Tamar has been working nearly exclusively within the Internet Marketing and online sales industry since 2006.

At the present time, Tamar’s main stint is acting as the Director of Marketing for career Q&A community CareerDean. She is also the Chief Strategy Officer for Small Business Trends, senior editor of a small local newspaper, and community manager at domain name registrar and web hosting company Namecheap, in addition to occasionally taking on projects alongside other companies in her own role as a digital marketing consultant, focusing primarily these days on social media customer service. (She calls this her “professional hustle.”)

Oh, and Tamar also has three kids, the oldest who is six and the youngest who is six months

You can introduce yourself and we’ll start the questions.

The floor is yours.

Hey guys! Eric did a pretty good intro — I hustle! ☺ I’d love to get your questions.

Q. What resources do modern marketers NEED to be aware of? — Ben Tossell

Everything marketers do must tie into relationships. One tool that I think is amazing for that: Intercom — it stays on your site and helps you engage with customers at all times, whether in app or via email. You can do a lot of different things, like follow up with people who haven’t logged on in 30 days, or whatever else.

Also — I wrote this really useful and timely post about relationship building:

My five top tools on top of Intercom — Archively (a people CRM), Discoverly (an in-common Facebook tool that sits on top of Rapportive, which hopefully you are already using), CharlieApp (provides briefings of people before meetings), Riffle (a tool that integrates into Twitter to provide user intelligence), and Datanyze (helps you find emails, which is useful when you actually want to touch base with someone outside of LinkedIn, where you likely are discovering them)

Q. You mentioned ‘social media customer service’ — can you expand on that? — Michael Buckbee

Social media customer service is simply a more modern way of doing customer service well. I have written another piece on that here:

But the main criteria: social media customer service is human and it’s real time. It’s really going down to the customer’s level, using empathy, and showing you truly care about them. The more you do that, the more they market for you by saying good things about you. You don’t realize how many people are still doing a traditional form of customer service without speed and without caring — think canned responses. This is different and is one on one.

Q. What kind of things do you work on as Chief Strategy Officer for Small Business Trends? — Eric Willis

It’s more of a behind-the-scenes role, where I help shape business partnerships, strategy (content and otherwise), and advertising.

Q. It’s been 5 years since you’ve written your book “The New Community Rules”. What do you think has most changed about managing online communities over the last several years? — Eric Willis

Yeah, my book is old (six years, actually!) Managing communities will always have one common denominator: relationships. But I admit, my book has changed — a lot. Half of it is out of date. I feel that after we all talked about the benefits of social media, every marketer saturated the space — people are a lot more skeptical. Relationship building is a lot harder. You have to keep at it.

Q. Is it important to have a presence on all the social networks for support? aka. is it bad that right now I’m really only on Twitter? — Michael Buckbee

Not that much! It depends on the product and target market. At Namecheap, the bulk of issues are posted to Twitter (we don’t allow Facebook postings though, so that kind of helps!). We also see stuff on, believe it or not, reddit. But if you were a parenting brand, you’d find that Facebook is likely the place you need to be.

Q. There are SOOO many marketing resources out there at the moment and all the same things (hootsuite, buffer etc) come on on google searches for most Social Media queries, how can people narrow it down and decide what place is the best for them? — Ben Tossell

That’s a good question. I’m still sticking to HootSuite, as it serves me well. There’s really no best answer — just like you need to devote time into marketing, you need to devote time into evaluating which software fits your needs the best.

Q. What do you think of new tools and trends like Slack and live streaming apps? I mean, do you think they’re the future of marketing and community-building? And how do you envision the “future of marketing”?— Violeta Nedkova

I love that question. Let me say that I have FIVE Slack accounts. Love it. It’s particularly awesome for remote teams (I work remotely!). As for live streaming, I’ll admit I haven’t embraced it yet — some folks feel Meerkat and Periscope are fads and I’m feeling my way through that. It’s innovative if you do something awesome there (for marketing purposes), as it’s an early adopter thing. Marketers that do things early usually are seen as savvy, so I encourage it if it’s something that suits you! I personally was a video holdout for longer than I should’ve been. ☺

(Mind you, being a mom of three kids and working from home doesn’t afford me many great opportunities to livestream either…)

In terms of being the future of marketing and community building — I think putting a face to a brand is always a great thing. Will people be receptive to it? More today than tomorrow, as with every new social network, eventually it becomes saturated with marketers which breeds more skepticism.

I only do remote stuff. I won’t entertain anything on site. Sorry folks. ☺

The future of marketing — I wish I knew! We started with text, then short form, then visuals (images), then video… will virtual reality be next? Who knows! The important thing is that relationships need to be maintained. That is the one constant I can definitely attest to.

Q. In your role with social customer experience at Namecheap…. what are some of the biggest challenges in creating customer service wins? — Eric Willis

The biggest challenges, I think, is what social media customer service is all about. I handle @Namecheap on Twitter almost exclusively, and I’m a human behind a brand. A lot of people still look at a brand as a faceless creature, but I have feelings — I am sad when they are sad. I am frustrated when they are frustrated. That’s why I emphasize empathy. It’s really important to show people you care about them and will do whatever it takes (within reason) to help — and to understand why some things are the way they are.

For example, we don’t have renewal coupons all the time. And people see that and get annoyed by us. So 4 years ago, I crafted this still-very-relevant piece on why we can’t regularly offer it:

Q. How do you manage all your roles and responsibilities? — Ben Tossell

Well, my big focus is CareerDean. They’re an up and coming awesome startup on career advice for software engineers. The other roles are more on the side and aren’t full time. That sort of helps. And working remotely is also super important for me, as I mentioned. Being a mom of a six year old, a three year old, and a six month old, if I went off site, I’d likely never see my kids. I start my day at 7am and end close to midnight, but I’m lucky to be able to take breaks throughout the day and see my family. And I always ensure I get my work done. I actually live in an Inbox Zero world.

Here’s my guide on Inbox Zero:

Q. How do you deal with trolls and negative interactions on Twitter? I’ve had a few really bad things. — Michael Buckbee

I hate trolls. Sometimes I simply have to bite my tongue. Sometimes I have to kill with kindness. I can’t win everyone over (and that makes me a bit sad), but I do my best and move on. There are always positive comments going my way that make me feel better. The more I nurture positive perception, the more I see that.

It’s not a great idea to block them because they will just start bitching and moaning to their other friends and they’ll catch on. Nurture positive perceptions wherever possible. I will say that Facebook is a different beast though — I delete and ban inappropriate and spammy comments. Twitter, however, is different because there are no dedicated pages/rooms for communicating.

Q. What digital/social media “influencers’/’specialists’ should we be following right now? (assume Twitter handles) — Ben Tossell

It’s hard to answer who to follow these days. My focus is more on the customer service side of things and being reactive versus on monitoring the space. It’s often hard to juggle both, as Twitter is a pretty heavy broadcast medium and not an engagement medium. Since I surround myself with engagement/relationships, I don’t focus as much on who to follow. I have one feed that I pay attention to, and that’s only general news, not so much specific influencers. I know my influencer friends will hate me for this answer.

Q. the natural ebb and flow of my business is annual (maybe like Namecheap and annual renewals for things) — how do you maintain a relationship over that time? I feel tools like Intercom don’t work so well for transactional businesses maybe? —Michael Buckbee

Intercom isn’t necessarily for every type of business. I’m not sure if I’d see a Namecheap use case for it. We have ticketing, live chat, email marketing, and social media. Intercom came after all that was already firmly established. I think Intercom works for smaller sites that don’t necessarily have any type of ongoing communication mechanism.

Q. Any remote working tips? — Michael Buckbee

My remote working tips: Be dedicated to the work! Seriously. You can get super distracted and not get things done. Remote working is NOT for everyone. You need to prove your value and be someone who is trustworthy. Also — remote working tools are important. You need to have ways to be reached (Google Voice/Skype/Hangouts/Slack) and every other relevant tool at your disposal to make sure you succeed at what you do. Also, I do encourage taking breaks. There are times when I’m sitting from 9am until 2pm without having gotten up and eating lunch… people might argue that sitting will kill me. Don’t be me in that regard. ☺

Q. Any articles you’ve written that you think didn’t get enough views? All the links are great. — Michael Buckbee

Michael, I used to get a lot more views until I stopped writing in 2011. I just started up again earlier this year! I miss the pageviews I used to get. :disappointed: ☺ But the whole medium has changed — long form > short form > visuals > video — most people don’t have time to read long form. And there’s that notion of attention overload too.

Q. What marketing question do you get asked most often and what one do you find most difficult to answer? —Ben Tossell

I think the biggest challenge I encounter is the one I didn’t really answer so well above — the future of marketing. I do live for the future, but I also dwell on the past and focus on the present. If I knew what the future would be like, I’d have a startup that Facebook would acquire for eleventy billion dollars.

Q. How do you balance trying to keep responses fresh and unique with having to repeatedly answer the same questions? I keep getting drawn to semi-canned responses out of pure desperation to keep up — Michael Buckbee

Usually it helps to have a FAQ of sorts to point people to. Sometimes, you simply can’t answer something 50204 different ways — there are only a few ways to tie a tie, and eventually you’ll be repeating your answers. Sometimes, it’s simply about saying “Thank you” instead of “Thanks” — small variances will make you feel better (and allow you to be creative, not monotonous!)

Q. What metrics if any do you try and focus on with respect to customer support/service? — Michael Buckbee

I’m not a data driven marketer. My focus is more on the relationship side of things. But I do pay attention to positive and negative sentiment. At the end of the day, it’s about what people are saying about you and if you’re being recommended more often. The more mentions you have on social media (for something good or for simple help), the more you know whatever you are doing is working.

Q. Are there any pains or gaps in your current tools where you wish something was better? — Michael Buckbee

The biggest pain/gap I see is simply the distribution of users on different social mediums. If you are a brand new startup, it’s hard to get recognized. Just like consumers are more skeptical when it comes to outreach online, so too are members of the media, and those guys can usually do wonders for visibility. How can you cast a wide net over a large audience? With a lot of money, it typically seems. Small fish have a harder time.

Q. What takes the most time out of your day? — Michael Buckbee

Right now I’m spending most of my time on CareerDean. It’s a great company, great site, great culture. As for what I’m doing for them that takes the most time, I think it comes down to two things: content and relationship building. I do both pretty heavily, but no day is the same.

Q. If you’re a solo entrepreneur trying to promote a side project, where would you focus your limited marketing time? — Corey Stone

I would say you need to go where your target audience is. Don’t look at marketing as an afterthought. It needs to be prioritized, especially on the relationship side. Be genuine and eventually, you’ll succeed. Just know that it’ll typically be slow and steady, especially if it’s a side project.

Q. Should I be interacting from my person Twitter acct or my business one? I’m the founder and get much better interactions with my personal one, but have almost no followers on my company one (which I fear looks bad)— Michael Buckbee

If people know you as your business, you would interact on your personal Twitter account. If people know your business as the brand name, use the brand name. As @Namecheap, maybe 0.001% of the people know me as @tamar there. I keep both personas very separate — I’m a lowercase Twitter user on @tamar and I do things a little more formally (but humanly!) on @Namecheap.

So… in your case, it is a combination, I think. I think of @producthunt and @rrhoover — Ryan is ProductHunt to most people — and that’s a different use case.

Q. Something I’ve found effective is embedding twitter testimonials on my home and landing pages — is it bad to just straight ask for them after a positive interaction? — Michael Buckbee

It’s not bad a tall. Position it as a “hey, are you interested in being featured on our site as a top user? We’d love to get a testimonial, and we’ll link to your site too.” This all ties back into the whole notion of relationships. The people giving the testimonial feel good about being highlighted, and the social proof is pretty good too.

Q. One of the key challenges I have is learning to sell, we’re a fintech startup trying to make finance more equitable by providing market assistant AI, and bigger visibility is a goal we’re still struggling with. How can we make what we do feel approachable? — Daniel Chia

Totally get it. That’s something that I’ll admit is totally over my head too. (Finance stuff is not my thing!) I’d suggest two things: 1) create content that dumbs down the complexity of your offering (and related knowledge) for the average user, thereby establishing yourself as a thought leader, and 2) you say you have investment professionals who use it very often. See about incentive programs for them — referrals and whatever else. Moreso, get testimonials you can put on your page, from a simple quote to a dedicated page saying [company name] had an issue about [X]. Our startup did [A, B, and C]. Quote from executive: [something warm and fuzzy].” The more, the merrier. Social proof is key. If you can get some key players to volunteer their time for this, even better. If someone already recognizes them, there’s a built in trust and they’ll want to try the tool.


Next AMA is with:

Thomas Knoll — Community Architect for 19 years. Supporter of entrepreneurs. He has been a community architect, community cultivator, product designer, social marketer, customer developer, and startup advisor for companies including Primeloop, Taptalk, 500Startups,LaunchRock, Zappos, UserVoice, and Seesmic.— 3pm EST 29th May


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