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Interview with Dina Riccobono, Performance-Based Marketing Expert at MarketLeverage Affiliate Network.


Tell me about your Company?

MarketLeverage is one of the nation’s leading performance-based marketing companies, and one of the fastest-growing affiliate networks. We were founded in 2001, so we have a tremendous amount of experience partnering with both publishers and advertisers. We passionately believe that performance-based marketing is the future of advertising, and are equally passionate about helping our publishers become successful.

Obviously publishers have a wide selection of networks they can partner with; we believe MarketLeverage stands out in terms of our industry-leading customer service, quality and quantity of offers, reliable payments, high payouts, leading referral and rewards programs, and overall experience/reliability.

What was your first experience of social media?

I actually got involved in social media back in college. Networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook have been a part of my personal and professional life for years. I first used them to keep in touch with friends once we all started our careers, but now find them a great source for professional relationships as well. In a web-based industry, it can be hard to develop connections with colleagues, customers, and partners. Platforms like Twitter and Ning have opened a lot of doors to add that personal touch to customer service.

What is the biggest tip you would give to a newbie in social media?

Be authentic! I’m a MarketLeverage team member, and I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the network, but I don’t only talk about MarketLeverage on my social media accounts. I ask a lot of questions, seek advice, and help others when I can. It’s a two-way street. The more you put into it (without constantly selling), the more you’ll get out of it.

What do advertisers do that you wish they wouldn’t?

That’s a great question! A lot of traditional advertisers are starting to move to the performance marketing space. They are seeing it offers a lot of benefits that print and television ads don’t offer. At the same time, what worked for television and print doesn’t necessarily translate to online. Video has been a great tool for us in particular, as well as a lot of cutting edge publishers and advertisers who have given it a shot. I would love to see more advertisers build campaigns specifically for online, social media, and video. We can definitely help with that!

What do bloggers do that you wish they wouldn’t?

What I wish bloggers would do is to write on a topic they genuinely are interested in. I’ve seen quite a few blogs that pick a topic like making money online that they either don’t have enough knowledge in, or clearly aren’t interested in but think they can make a quick buck. The monetization opportunities are much better if you write quality content and can offer genuine advice and feedback.

Where do you see growth in the social media field?

There are going to be some huge monetization opportunities through the personalization that social networks offer. Ads will become more targeted to individual members of your audience. There will be less content-focused advertising and more customer-centric opportunities. While some sites have already started this trend, there will be greater opportunities to automatically target your customers and give them exactly what they’re looking for.

What new ideas are advertisers coming up with to take advantage of new trends?

I’ve seen a lot more brands becoming active on the social networks. They’re the suggestion box of this decade. Customer response and retention is immediate. When I had an issue with my NetFlix account, they responded within the hour to my feedback. SouthWest and JetBlue have done fantastic jobs, too. Not just from a customer service aspect, from from an interaction standpoint as well.

We strive to do the same thing at MarketLeverage. All of our team, especially our publisher managers, are available on Instant Messenger, checking their email constantly, and on several social networks. We don’t just tell you we respond, we actually react- to both positive and negative feedback. There is so much potential for all brands to improve based on the good and the bad, and we certainly take the opportunity to do so.

What do you do to improve the world?

That’s a tough one! I try to volunteer for causes I support, whether it’s time, money, or spreading the word. I don’t know if that improves the world, but I hope it helps even a small percentage of people who need it. Some causes I am really passionate about are the Ronald McDonald House, Niemann-Pick Children’s Fund, Central Florida Homeless Coalition, and ASPCA. I’m fortunate enough to have a company that is supportive of our team’s efforts- which range from competing in triathlons to cooking dinner for the local Ronald McDonald House, to sponsoring and planning a bowl-a-thon for a great cause. A group of one isn’t as effective as a group of one hundred. Yet another reason why social media is such a fantastic platform. The reach is amazing.

What do you do that is green?

I really wish I could do something incredible, like re-model my entire house to use solar energy or something. Unfortunately I’m not quite at the level to do that, but I do recycle, turn off any appliances or lights I’m not using, and carpool to work! Typical, everyday stuff.

What is one thing about you that not many people know?

I have a family of amazing chefs, but I can’t cook!

What’s your favorite book?

I’ve been reading some really great non-fiction books lately that tell compelling stories, and are absolutely inspiring. I love books and movies about history, too.
My most recent favorites are The Road by Cormack McCarthy and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. Oh, and my boss is telling me to tell you to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. He’s pretty smart so you should (and yes, he paid me to say that). 🙂

What is on your iPod?

I have a pretty eclectic mix- everything from the Chicago soundtrack to OutKast to Van Halen. My favorite band right now is The Chris McCarty Band. They’re local- and not only do they have some great songs, but their show is very entertaining.

What are your contact details (email, company, blog, facebook, myspace, forums, etc)?

Company: MarketLeverage
AIM: MktLvgDina
Blog: MarketLeverageTV.com
Facebook: [email protected], or Dina Riccobono
Twitter and forums: MLDina or under cover on the MarketLeverage account

I also accept gifts at 701 Int’l Pkwy, Ste 200, Lake Mary, FL 32746

What events do you go to?

As many as possible! There are so many great opportunities to meet people in the industry. Blogworld and Affiliate Summit are my favorite, though I have to say, I’m looking forward to heading to Denver for Affiliate Convention this year, too. Locally, I attend as many of the Doterati and Orlando Sentinel meetups as I can.

How do you prefer to communicate?

I love to meet in person if possible. I’m a social networker at heart, both online and off. If you’re pitching me on a contest or promotional idea, shoot me an email. The odds of remembering an IM or Twitter conversation later in the day about something that in depth are slim to none. If you just want to chat, Twitter or IM are great.

Who would you recommend, and why?

Here is my go-to list of people in the industry to get to know and why:

1. Your affiliate manager- They are here to help!
2. An expert. Someone in your niche, who does what you do, and is willing to mentor you. This is another absolute essential. I can’t recommend one specific person, as it depends on what you’re interested in. If you have a specific area you’re looking for help in, feel free to contact me and I’ll put you in touch with some of my favorites.
3. A same-level affiliate. You can bounce ideas off each other and go through the learning process together. There is always going to be some level of competition, but with so much room for growth in the industry, it can only benefit you to have some connections on your level.
4. Missy Ward and Shawn Collins. Both have extensive experience in the industry, and in networking in general. Affiliate Thing and The Spew are essential podcasts and they are also extremely approachable, and great people in general. Also, little known fact, but Missy invented air guitar.
5. John Chow- send him some swag and you’ll get some fantastic promotional opportunities. If he starts wearing your shirts instead of mine though, I know who to call.
6. Zac Johnson- also one of the nicest people in the industry, an excellent blogger, long-time affiliate, very approachable, and the best basketball playing affiliate I know.
7. Andrew Wee- whether I have a question about search or what color to dye my hair, Andrew is always extremely helpful. His Friday podcasts are not to be missed.
8. Tara Lamberson, Bob Portaro, Dana DeLapi, and pretty much anyone at Doterati. Local social networks are extremely valuable. If Doterati doesn’t work for you, find a Meetup.com group that does.
9. The BenSpark.com family and IZEA- an amazing network of bloggers who really go the extra mile to make people feel special, and to help great causes.
10. OutSpokenMedia have some of the best industry insight around.
11. David Klein aka DK of Purpose Inc.and Joseph Morin- If there were nicer, more helpful people in existence, they’d be required to dress in Santa suits year-round.
12. Neil Patel- Can tell you everything you need to know about search.
13. Tamar Weinberg and Brett Petersel- Mashable’s social media and networking extraordinares.
14. Brian Clark- The source for killer copy tips.
15. Stephanie Agresta and Gary Vaynerchuk- the best way to get connected to anyone who is anyone. Including Kevin Bacon.
16. Jim Kukral- he has some killer business advice, and plays a mean ukelele.
17. SouthWestAir and JetBlue on Twitter- because entertainment is essential when travelling to shows and they staff funny, talented flight attendants and TVs.
18. The MarketLeverage TV cast- for obvious reasons.

MarketLeverage as also sponsoring the Murray Newlands Blog Competition

Thanks to Dina, Performance-Based Marketing Expert at MarketLeverage.com Network!

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