Social Commerce: My Experiences with BzzAgent, Influenster and More

Social Commerce is a somewhat new idea, and there are a number of things that fall under this category. (This article from Mashable lays it out well)

Number 4 on Mashable’s list — Peer Recommendation — is something I’ve been participating in for a while now — namely, the sites that reward individuals for sharing products and purchases with friends through social networks.

The sites I participate in:

BzzAgent

Swaggable

Influenster

In addition, I’ve also been rewarded with items and special offers through Klout Perks.

My BzzAgent score

My BzzAgent score

I’ve been with BzzAgent the longest — since 2009. In that time, I’ve participated in 16 campaigns, most focused around cosmetics. Just this year alone, I received free COVERGIRL foundation, a great sampling of new Neutrogena cosmetics, and new Got2B volumizing hair powder.

Also this year, from Klout: A free full-size Carol’s Daughter Monoi Serum for hair, and a free Norton security app for my iPhone.

Swaggable and Influenster are new additions for me this year. I have a sample of wasabi dressing headed my way from Swaggable, and as for Influenster, I’ve recieved Aveeno night cream, and I have my first “VoxBox” headed my way!

Of the 4, BzzAgent and Influenster are the two who employ gamification, or rewards, badges, etc. to motivate users to complete tasks, like filling out surveys and completing social media activities. And I’ll admit — it’s addicting! I love seeing my scores rise!

My Influenster Badge Score

My Influenster Badge Score

Currently, I have campaigns ongoing for Got2B and COVERGIRL on BzzAgent, and Aveeno on Influenster. And though I haven’t loved every single product I’ve received as a part of campaigns over the years, I have to say I love all three! Here’s some more thoughts on each:

1) Schwarzkopf Got2B POWDER’ful Volumizing Styling Powder (BzzAgent): This stuff is awesome, and so convnient. It’s just a tiny, light little shaker container. Pour a little bit out, rub in your hands, and apply to the roots. BAM! It’s really that simple, and you can re-apply as needed for even more volume. I think this product pairs really well with a dry shampoo for second-day styling, or can help get that teased look if you have clean hair. I can picture it working really well this summer in Florida, too. (Can you picture the humidity! Yuck!) It’s available at Walgreens for just $3.99 a pop!

2) COVERGIRL Outlast Stay Fabulous 3 in 1 Foundation (BzzAgent): This is another product that I’ve road-tested to beat the Florida heat. With this campaign, I received a coupon for a free full-size foundation, and was able to go pick out my shade — 110, Classic Ivory, their second-lightest shade. I was a little hesitant on this foundation at first. I’ve been using mainly Bareminerals and drugstore versions of Bareminerals powder foundation for the past few years, especially since I have a combination-to-oily complexion that’s somewhat acne-prone.  So it had really been quite some time since I had tried a liquid foundation that I liked. But Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 really took the cake. Exactly 1 pump is what I need for my daily application. It glides on smoothly, helps to conceal blemishes and scars, and blends very well. It also has staying power, and I can tell the primer in the foundation formula works, but it works especially well when combined with another product I’ve fallen in love with this spring: Neutrogena Shine Control Primer. COVERGIRL Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation is really affordable too — around the $9 mark at Target.

Sidenote: I have to say that COVERGIRL has done an excellent job of improving their product formulations, packaging and overall branding over the last couple of years. I love their LashBlast mascaras and COVERGIRL+ Olay eye concealer!

3) Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream (Influenster): OK, so I’m at this weird time in my life when I’m still fighting oil, blemishes, and my skin in many ways is still acting like a teenager. I’ve been able to get it under control for the most part with a prescription regimen from my dermatologist. But, I’m also facing a new battle: aging. I’ve been using eye cream twice daily for the past 4 years or so. But I’m starting to see that my skin need a little more, especially overnight, so I’m glad that this landed on my doorstep when it did. I’ve always liked Aveeno, and how gentle their products are. I’ve used this oil-free night cream a few times and noticed that my skin seemed plumper and firmer upon waking. I’m still trying to figure out if a product like this is the best fit for my acne-prone skin, but I haven’t noticed any major breakouts as a result of using. Overall, I like the product and would recommend to anyone with combination, normal, or dry skin! It’s $16.99 at CVS.

I hope you’ve found my overview of these social commerce programs helpful — do you participate in any? What has your experience been like?

My Husband’s Career at Walt Disney World All Started With a Tweet

I believe that social media can be a powerful force for good. Sure, some of us are definitely addicted to our social media-tethered devices, constantly checking for email and Facebook and Twitter notifications (guilty!). We bury our faces in them at social events, when what we really should be doing is making eye contact and engaging with those around us.

But, despite our vices, the magical part of social media is when a virtual connection can become a real one.

I’ve been wanting to share this story for a while now. It’s about how my husband Brian’s career began at Walt Disney World. And it all started with a tweet.

Back in February of 2012, I was job-searching myself, and my husband was looking for a change as well. He’s a chef, and I work in digital. We had been living in Orlando for just 6 months, but we had both landed into very demanding jobs with long hours and plenty of stress — me, at a local TV station managing its website, and he, at an upscale resort working the overnight shift. We barely saw each other. When we did, one of us was awake and the other asleep. We certainly couldn’t make plans often, making living in a fun place like central Florida very frustrating.

Fortunately, my job search was going well. I would land, within a month, a great job as a digital content manager at a magazine publisher. Brian, meanwhile, was finding a lot of barriers to entry to where he really wanted to work: Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World is the largest single-site employer in Florida, with more than 66,000 on its payroll. Getting an “in” at WDW Casting can be tough. Brian had previously been offered a part-time position with Disney in fall 2011, but turned it down because he needed full-time work. Unfortunately, when that happened, he then had to wait another 6 months to apply again to the same position, even though what he was offered was only part-time.

So, it was during his 6-month waiting period that I began to explore some other possible “ins” for Brian. And I happened upon a guy who was tweeting up a storm: @DisneyExecChef. I followed him as he chatted about menu planning, special events and cool happenings at WDW. And on Feb. 11, 2012, I got courageous, and tweeted this:

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To my surprise, @DisneyExecChef, also known as Chef Robert Gilbert, answered. He first directed us to the Disney Careers website, but I then explained our situation some more. He then offered to meet my husband, in person, the following morning. I was floored!

When my husband got home from work the next morning, I shared the news. Let’s just say he was skeptical. He wasn’t sure that this guy could help him at all, or who he was. But, he went. The two of them met at Coronado Springs Resort, and Chef Robert explained the hierarchy of the chefs and cooks in the special events and catering operation of Walt Disney World. And Brian realized that Chef Robert was the real deal and one of only a handful of executive chefs at WDW.

The conversation between Brian, Chef Robert, and myself continued, and by June 2012, Brian was on board in catering operations at the Contemporary Resort. He’s working hard, and has had the opportunity to cook for conventions of thousands, for intimate chef’s tables, and for many other restaurants and special events all around Walt Disney World, including Party of the Senses during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, special events at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, breakfast at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, and even counter service work at Columbia Harbour House at the Magic Kingdom. It’s been a well-rounded experience for him, to say the least.

And for this, we have social media, and specifically the open nature of Twitter, to thank. Thank you, Twitter, and especially — thank you, Chef Robert, for all you have given us.
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I can make you a celebrity overnight: SPJ, See Jane Tweet, and Ignite Birmingham

Somehow, over the past month or so, I’ve become in demand. A hot commodity. Coveted for my great knowledge, humor, charisma and panache.

Well, not really. But I have started dipping my toe into public speaking, and educating others on my two big passions: 1) social media and online community engagement, and 2) Walt Disney World!

SPJ Region 3 Conference

First up, I spoke at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 conference here in Birmingham on April 1st. They wrote a great recap of my talk on social media and online user interaction in a newsroom setting.

I had no idea I was being videotaped, but alas! I was. It’s a little dark, but you can view my talk, split up into 5 videos, here. I really enjoyed speaking to a “class” of mostly college students. I had conversations afterwards with student journalists from the University of Alabama, Florida A&M, and University of Central Florida. Great group!

See Jane Tweet

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Next up, my Alabama Social Media Association cohort and new gold-shoed pal Erin Shaw Street are presenting together for a new organization here in Birmingham called See Jane Write, a networking group for female writers, bloggers and journalists. We’re presenting a program on Thursday, April 28 called See Jane Tweet, where we will present an overview on social media and using Twitter as a way to connect with other writers.

I recently did an interview with Javacia Harris Bowser, the founder of See Jane Write, about my work with al.com and the Alabama Social Media Association ahead of See Jane Tweet. We’ve also gotten coverage from RSS Birmingham and Magic City Manifesto leading up to the event, and Erin recently put out a call for questions ahead of our presentation.So if you plan on attending, tell us what it is you want to learn!

Ignite Birmingham 5

Thursday, May 5 is Ignite Birmingham 5, and for the first time, I’m presenting! My 5-minute talk is titled “Magic City: Magic Kingdom — Birmingham’s ties to the wide world of Disney World fandom, and why you should visit WDW as an adult.” See the full list of speakers here. (It’s a fabulous lineup!)

I’m very excited to introduce attendees to some local “Disney celebs,” and convince folks that they need to start planning a Disney World vacation, with or without the kids. At the end of my speech, I’m going to tease to a special event here in Birmingham for Disney fans — and for those curious to learn more about Disney World –on Saturday, May, 21. Arrr, ye mateys! Mark ye calendars! It will be a magical good time!

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To say I’m thrilled to be taking part in these events, along with serving as executive director of the Alabama Social Media Association, is an understatement. I’ve already met some amazing people here in the past few months, and have turned social media connections into real-life connections. I’m excited for more to come.