Sunday, December 30, 2012

4 Ways To Fight Back Against Facebook Throttling Pageviews Without Paying For Promotion

Facebook is throttling Page views in order to "encourage" us to pay for promotion. We all know they are, and we're frustrated by this. It feels like extortion even if it isn't. It's not fair to the folks who have "liked" that page, and okay, yes, we can harangue them to add the page to their favorites, but isn't that forcing them to say they want to read the page, no really, they really want to read the page, thanks, really, over and over again?

No matter how you slice it, it's a crappy deal for the folks on your page. They want to read your posts, they want to "like" and respond to them, if only they knew they were there!  But FB has us in a bind, and we're getting fewer and fewer views every time. (I"m down 20% on views from this time last year.) It's time to fight back! Here's a a few tactics to make sure you get your word out.

Ask People to Share the Post - If you're a nice person who believes content is king, this feels like cheating. You don't want to shill for your page, you just want folks to enjoy the content. But, along with "likes" this simple act of sharing allows more people (and people outside your page) to see the content. So go ahead and ask!

Switch Up the Kind of Posts You Make - You're posting status updates regularly (not too often, just often enough) and you're worried that even when they do see the post, people following your page aren't taking note of it. It's time to switch up your posting strategy. Instead of a status update, share a picture, or a video or a link. Ask a question, hold a poll. Rotate through different media to engage people who prefer different communications styles, and you'll get more attention overall.

Share Posts Outside Facebook - Media posted publicly on Facebook can be accessed by people not on Facebook. Public posts can be seen by anyone with a FB account. Go ahead and tweet that image post, share the existence of your page on your mailing list or blog. Amplify, amplify, amplify!

Share Page Posts From Your Personal Account - This is the ace up your sleeve. You have contacts who don't follow your Page but do follow you and when they see you share a post from your Page, they'll be there with likes and shares of their own. Share those posts on your personal page and leverage that network.

Use these four tips to fight back against Facebook throttling and get the word out!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where to Start With Content Marketing

Social Media's new buzzphrase is Content Marketing. You've seen it on blogs, Facebook Gurus tell you to embrace it, webinars abound. You love the idea...but where to start?

Chances are, you're already creating content. Look beyond "holiday sales!" reminders to see the content you already produce.

Tell people what you love about your product or service - you have years of helping people be more productive, happier, more efficient. Tell those stories and let you passion shine. People respond to that with passion of their own.

Share the insight years of experience have given you - You've been working in your field for years, maybe decades, and you've seen fads come and go. You know what works and why. That kind of experience makes an impression on readers.

Be honest - This advice cannot be repeated too often. Consumers are not children. When you know something, say it, when you don't, be honest. There's no amount of fiction that can make up for betrayed trust.

Tell your own story - You are a unique snowflake...or maybe not, but chances are, your story can help someone, by giving them a unique perspective on life. Don't take yourself out of your story, you are the best hook you have.

Avoid gimmicks - Don't look for "clever' ways to gain engagement, just talk with people. Contests should be about your users/readers/followers not about your numbers.

Creating original, compelling content is as simple as having a conversation about something you love, with someone else who loves it, too. Tell your story your way, respond when people talk with you and Content Marketing will happen.

Monday, October 22, 2012

How Passion Sells - Going Beyond Eating Your Own Dogfood

It's an old adage that "Passion Sells." And we've all experienced how a passionate influencer can sway our own opinion - especially when that influencer is someone to whom we have previously given cognitive authority in areas of expertise. This is the core of social search, and every platform is betting on you wanting to do more of this - getting opinions and recommendations from influencers, providing recommendations of your own to your sphere of influence.

But, why is it that passions sells? What are the specific qualities of passion that work in terms of influence? What, specifically triggers the metamorphosis of passion to influence? It's more than just eating your own dog food, although realistically, you'd better be starting from there. ^_^

Passion is often softened in marketing into images of sensuality or hedonism, but at it's heart, passion is about belief.

The Journey Begins With Belief

Celebrity endorsements are a tried and true form of advertising, so are testimonials. Both of these are based on the simple idea that a voice that is recognizable will have influence. For some people sheer recognition is enough, for others there must be a connection - that person is like me. Either way the journey begins with belief in the voice speaking. Depending on the product, or the sophistication of the audience, you can buy endorsement, but you can never fake belief.  When you believe in your product, other people are willing to believe in it too.

Benefits With Benefits

It's awfully nice that using your product or service was good for that person over there. You'll need to convince every person out there of direct, tangible results for them, too. To do that, you'll need to think way outside your list of intended results, uses and outcomes. Understanding that each person who uses your product or service has an individual story, gives you a chance to customize what you have to say to your listeners.  Make the benefits plain to each person on the scale of their needs, not out of your jar of pitches.

Making a Convincing Case

When we have been in someone else's shoes, we know what they are seeing. When we have a story that is compelling to that person, they can see what we are seeing. Bridging that gap between perspectives is exactly where passion fits in. Passion becomes the connection between the words and the belief that underscores those words. It's your business, it's your content, it's your life. If you aren't passionate about it, why should anyone else be?

Don't throw your passion down on every third project out there. Take every opportunity to mean what you say.  When you've built up your reputation as someone who means every word they say, whose passion has worth, you'll find that your influence increases exponentially.

Embrace what you do with passion and ignite your creativity, and your market's belief in you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

When a Reward Program Feels Like a Slap

One of the keystones in a business-consumer relationship is the idea of reward. The concept is simple - the company says, "Be loyal to us and be rewarded by us" to the consumer.

I'm not going to rant how credit card companies, airlines, hotel chains and other business conglomerates have  shifted their "reward" programs from any meaningful measure of reward to S&H green stamp-like "points you can cash in for cheap consumer goods." Today I'm going to focus on a situation that any small company might run into - when a reward ends up feeling more like a punishment.

The company in question is, generally speaking, excellent in both word and deed when it comes to customer service. They recently ran a promotion in which current customers would receive a code that could be decoded for a discount to be used on a future purchase.

There were several problems with this contest right off the bat. Non-purchasing people who visited them at an event were able to get the discount code card - and presumably more than one, to get a better discount - while people not at the event had to jump through some hoops to get a card. It wasn't as easy as sending one's email address - it was a throwback to the old days of send a 3" x 5" card with 1" block letters and a self-addressed stamped envelope.... That was Step 1. It wasn't an insurmountable hurdle, but it did feel weirdly anachronistic and awkward. And it mean that I waited 2 weeks to get my card, where people who just happened to be at the event were able to get theirs right away by mere coincidence of time and place.

When one received the card, it contained a QR code which, when scanned, would reveal the code, or the code could be entered in a special website to reveal the discount. Step 2. Again, not by itself arduous...but why couldn't this have been Step 1 for people not at that event? I give you my email, you send me an email with the code. Faster, less waste of paper and less time.

Step 3 was where it really started to go wrong. I revealed my discount and found that I would save....4%? Seriously? I admit - I felt insulted. All that time and yes, I paid for a get 4% off an order? I'll be honest, any discount less than 15% annoys me. When I discount items, I never discount less than 15%.  But to go through that rigmarole and wait to receive a 4% discount...well that was much less of a "thanks" than they intended, I'm sure.

But this wasn't over. I kept the card, even though it had what I considered to be a relatively limited time period - it was good for only 3 months. So, not a special reward  discount so much as a time-sale coupon.

Step 4 - I finally put an order together and went to apply my discount...only to find that the items I chose were not eligible for the discount. (To be fair, they were already discounted, but still.) So, in the end, as a reward and to thank me for my support, I'm out the price of a stamp.

As I say, I genuinely love this company. I can totally understand at each step of the process why it had to be the way it was, but in the end, the special discount was more like a slap in the face.

When developing reward programs, consider the process as a whole, as well as individual parts.

Make sure that the end goal - to reward and thank customers - is executed fully, or you may actually accomplish the opposite of what you intend.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rumors of Quora's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Note: I have been less active here of late because of other time constraints and something had to fall off the list. This blog was it. I have, however, been very active on Quora, where I answer all sorts of questions about just about anything except Social Media. ^_^ Recently Quora has been tagged by a number of former users as a site that is just about to implode. Here is my rebuttal, with a healthy dose of Community Lifecycle discussion. If you've got any kind of a community online, forum, mailing list, Facebook, consider reading section 3, 4 and 5.


1. Introduction

Elitist, clique-ish, stuck up and broken, Quora is reported to be in the middle of a mass exodus of tech talent and contributing users. Or so some people would have us believe. Certainly, some former users have written angry screeds based on their own personal experience in this apparent snakepit. One of the founders is leaving, so clearly that is a signal to anyone with a brain to get out now!

The problem with these reports is that they are, in most cases, conflating two completely different aspects of Quora, and trying to make the one responsible for the other.

2. Quora, Product and Community

Let's have a frank discussion about Quora. Quora is a beast with two faces - a community, which has all of the very typical problems of all online communities, and all of the benefits, as well. And there is Quora the product, which as of yet does not have a strictly defined existence in the public eye, but is strong enough to have gained a second round of investment.

Quora the product is a fully-fleshed out community architecture without an [apparent] business model. Neither users nor spectators really know anything about Quora the product's future. At the moment, Quora has neither advertising nor subscription and if content is being sold by Quora to media outlets, none of the users know anything concrete about those agreements.

What Quora the product will evolve into is, as of yet, entirely unknown to users of Quora. Pretty much any conjecture or opinion you hear from disgruntled ex-users is just that...conjecture or opinion. Charlie Cheever leaving means that...Charlie Cheever is leaving. We cannot reasonably connect any change in his status at Quora with any external change in Quora the product.

The second half of this equation - apparent problems with Quora the community- is driven by the community lifecycle. Online platforms have a lifecycle of their own, and each user on that platform has a lifecycle on that platform.

3. User Lifecycles

Think of MySpace for a moment. It was a pioneer in the social space, stepping on the shoulders of less-popular but still functional Livejournal. For a while it was the go-to social platform. When people ask the question now "What happened to MySpace?" or expound upon its downfall, they are merely showing off their lack of knowledge about communications platforms and the lifecycle that accompanies them.

In Perils and Pitfalls of Community Management, I wrote about the stages of creation, organization and moderation of an online community.

Along with the lifecycle of a community, each individual user goes through a lifecycle process:

1) Newbie - Everything is new and exciting. Some people seem to effortlessly acclimate, others bang against walls, still others fall foul almost immediately of community guidelines and moderation.

2) Experienced Community User - A person has been active on the community for a few months, can answer basic "how to" and "where" questions and still has a lot of enthusiasm for the community.

3) Senior Community Member - This person has been active on the community for more than 6 months and has been assigned cognitive or real authority on the community.

4) Moderators/Admins - Ideally, these people have shown uncommon skill in handling community interaction. (This is often not true, however, and many communities will promote heavy users without any real people skills.)


What does this mean for a person who has just joined Quora? It means that there are roughly 3 months or so for the honeymoon. In that time, the new user will be building their profile, their interest map (i.e., following topics and people) and building their reputation. The reputation one builds in the first three months will be critical to future interactions - this is the online community equivalent of a "first impression."

After that 3 months, the user continues in the role they have created for themselves - whether it be "active user" or "gadfly"or "occasional poster," very little will change for another cycle of three months or so.

At 6 months, the user has had time to acclimate - or not - to the community and to establish behavioral patterns there. If the reputation the user established is as "knowledgeable and helpful resource" then they might find themselves rising in cognitive authority in the community. On Quora, the PeopleRank algorithm is a direct expression of this, as the user gains status through community approval.

For the community, this three-month user lifecycle means that, at any given time, new users are joining and asking all the same questions, while previously active users are retiring, either due to life changes, changed status on the community, or merely because they have hit the end of their lifecycle and are not as motivated to be there any more.

People who engage, but are not recognized, on online communities very often were not able to gain positive attention through normal community activities. They take their opportunity to gain attention and garner reaction with a dramatic exit, called "a flounce." Ironically, many users who engage in a flounce do not actually leave the site at all, but remain on the periphery, commenting (negatively) on the community's downfall.

Changes in staff, formatting and community standards can all affect user lifecycles. Some users take these changes as chances to leave quietly, while some take the opportunity to flounce off publicly.

4. Successful vs Unsuccessful Engagement Online

The recent spate of "Quora is over" posts are almost all written by people who never quite "got" Quora, people who leave with a flounce. What is the difference between the person who "gets" a community and a person who doesn't?

- Experience on other community platforms
A new community member who has never been on a moderated platform before might find the constraints of that society confining. The Internet is a big place, and in many places, freedom of expression without consequence is a standard expectation. On a moderated community like Quora, consequence of expression is a daily occurrence. Some people, when forced to comply with community standards, will find themselves unable to do so

- The ability to separate knowledge/experience from opinion
New community members whose agenda include "winning" conversations and those who cannot imagine that their own biases and experiences have colored their perspective, often find it nearly impossible to function on a moderated community. These people have a hard time separating qualitative from quantitative information.

- The ability to separate constructive criticism from personal criticism
Quora is designed to allow anyone make suggestions to alter a question or answer. Many new Quorans are shocked and appalled when complete strangers edit their answers. Others are enraged when their answers are tagged with "Need Improvement" or "Does Not Answer the Question" or any of the other tags with which Reviewers, Admins, Moderators can tag a post.

The inability to separate out the needs of the community from the needs of the individual Quoran shows a critical misunderstanding of what Quora the community is about. Quora is, on the face of it, a group effort - a constant process to ask good questions and benefit from great answers.

5. What Cliques With You

Let's take a moment and look at the accusation of "cliquishness" that inevitably arises within a community. What, exactly, does that mean for a public community?

In school, a clique is a social sub-network that forms within a larger social framework. It is impenetrable to outsiders, and is easily broken or destroyed by interactions between insiders. Can a public online community really be "cliqueish?" Well, yes and no.

After a community is established and stable, any new user is likely to find an in-crowd in existence. You expect a store to have employees and a hierarchy in place to keep it running - a community needs no less. Users of any level who have interacted for any length of time before you arrive will, of course, have already developed relationships with one another.

How hard is it to break into this "clique"? To a small extent that depends on the reason for the clique in the first place. If the group was formed for the sole purpose of providing a way for a small group to communicate, it might well be very difficult for a new user to make a positive impression.

But public online communities very rarely exist to serve a small group of people. It's far more likely that they exist to provide a forum for communication and information-sharing for a large group. So - how hard is it to break into that in-crowd? Not hard at all. By providing useful, thoughtful perspective, insight and information, a person can rapidly be recognized as a positive resource on that platform. Again, Quora makes this simple, by providing the community a chance to increase cognitive authority for any given user with upvotes.

Why, then, do people have a hard time getting along on Quora?

It's easy to see people who will not last long on any online community. These people start off rude, or loud, or "clever" and slowly, but surely, the community ceases to hear them, tunes them out or escorts them out the door. Multiple warnings from admins are seen as personal vendetta, rather than a call to engage with the community in a positive and meaningful way.

Recently, a few experienced users have taken time off from Quora. Some of the more public "Quora is dying" articles have cited these people leaving as proof that Quora is rotting from within. However, if you look at individual cases, you can see that as many people have left because of life changes and community lifecycle changes as have left because of any intrinsic (much less endemic) failure on Quora's part. In other cases, Quora has moderated a few people for their inability to follow community standards - these actions have almost invariably been followed by loud, public flounces by the parties involved. This is followed by those parties conflating Quora the community (with which they never meshed) and Quora the product, about which none of the users have concrete information.

6. Conclusion - What Does This Mean For Quora?

This, of course, is the big question. And honestly, we have no idea. Quora the product is a privately owned entity. We, the users, are not privy to decisions made about the company or product until they are made public. Any conjecture about the health of the company is, as I said, merely conjecture.

What we can say is that Quora the community is as vital as ever. No, the quality of questions has not dropped - people are just getting through to the last part of their lifecycle and are tired of waves of new people coming in and stomping around the site. Yes, Quora *could* do better with onboarding. A brief training video, followed by a single, easy to find Index of information (not in Q&A form, which just encourages confusion about rules) could, potentially, solve some of the problems. But it would cause others. In any case, no one reads the FAQs.

Users who joined post the Initial Quora ramp-up, it is still possible to find a place here. It just takes a little time and effort and a little goodwill and desire to make Quora a better resource.

For those of us who use Quora in this fashion, at this moment, at least, the rumors of Quora's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Things You Can't Fake on Social Media

This week Social Media channels are abuzz with NBC's epic failure to recognize what Social Media is about...and what the Internet is, full stop. While Twitter blazes with reported failures of NBC's streaming channels and inability to access live coverage, NBC executives have taken to the airwaves to explain to the denizens of the Internet how the problems are all their fault.

The above debacle is a massive and public expression of the two things that cannot be faked in Social Media: Cluefulness and Relevance.

Being clueless is, unfortunately for many businesses, quite simple. All you need to do is have no idea of the needs of your audience, or any idea of what social media really is (hint: it's a lot of people talking...).

Being Clueful and Relevant means you know:

Who Your Audience Is (Where they are, When they are on)

What They Want

How They Intend to Get What They Want If You Don't Give It To Them

This last is where NBC really dropped the ball. By insisting on delayed coverage for the Opening Ceremonies, I guess they expected we'd all sit around staring at the clock. Instead, many of us simply found overseas streams and proxy servers, so we could watch the Ceremonies live. It took me, oh, about 15 minutes to find a working overseas stream. When that one cut out, it took me 10 more minutes to find another one.

But I'm not talking about NBC today. I'm talking about another failure to be Clueful or Relevant. A much, much smaller scale of failure, but just as annoying.

Yesterday I received a tweet: Hey @Yuricon! I followed you, you should follow me!

Okay, not the most skilled opening, but maybe sincere. So I popped over to their account and found something that only very tangentially intersected my interests and the interests of my audience. I tweeted back:

"Your topic isn't my topic, but if you say something interesting, I'll share it and follow."

Okay, so far, another day on Twitter. Bear in mind that I am outspoken about media's failure when it comes to women (hyper-sexualization, body image, unequal portrayals of men and women in power, dismissive and judgmental language in regards to women, etc.,). The next tweet showed a massive dose of Cluelessness.

The person/company in question assured me that they understood women, because he (he had identified himself) was publishing a book on self-improvement for women. My response was admittedly very sarcastic, something about how wonderful that was, because more women need more men to tell them how to improve themselves.

Here's my point. NBC execs are taking to Twitter to tell us to stop whining, that the problems are with our computers..., this shows clearly a complete lack of connection with their audience. It's obvious that to NBC and to the IOC, that we are merely a commodity to be bought and sold. NBC cannot fake having a clue, or understanding the least anything about Social Media. This guy was also unable to fake being Clueful or Relevant and instead, just opted to throw his one pitch with "something about women" at me.

The worst part about companies pretending to have a clue or to be relevant, is that it is horribly, painfully evident to anyone looking on.

NBC could have asked their interns, "Hey, if we do a time-delay on the Opening Ceremonies, what would you do?" This guy could have read some of my posts and seen what he does that would be relevant to me and my audience.

Have a clue who you're talking to - about what - and why - and you won't need to fake anything at all.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How Social Media Can Work in the Brick and Mortar World

The first post on this blog starts, as it should, from the beginning. To make sure we're all talking about the same thing, I provide a short overview of the terminology we're using. Here are a few highlights relevant to today's post:

Social Media is the media you use to communicate with people. It does not mean "online" or "Facebook." Any medium you use to communicate - to be social - is social media. Twitter is a form of social media. So is a forum or discussion group. So is a cocktail party.

Social Media Marketing is using social media to communicate the value of your products and services. If you are good at your business, you do this every time you talk to a customer. If you have a Fan page on Facebook, or a website with updates and promotions, you are also doing this. 

As I will say over and over here - the medium is not the message. It is merely a medium. If you can think of "talking to people" as a kind of medium - that's Social Media. You communicate something to them (wherever, however) and, if you do your job well, they communicate it to other people. The medium is "being social." 


Local businesses are having a hard time of it these days. They are being squeezed by the convenience (and, in some cases, the lack of sales tax) of online sites and the cost of doing business in brick and mortar world. I sympathize with local businesses, because physical real estate and overhead do make costs much higher upfront. Knowing this I will often go to a local business to get an item that I know I could get a little cheaper in a big box store, just to support the business and the town. However, I'm seeing a real gap in local businesses these days and it's not just in pricing. Return policies, greetings, pricing and communications skills all seem to be taking a hit.

I walked into a store recently, and saw *exactly* the item I was looking for. The price seemed competitive, so I asked if the price included a critical part (something without which the item was useless.) The person behind the counter came over, looked at the tag and said, "No." Then he started to add up the costs of the all the pieces that I would have to pay for. The total wasn't cheap, but it wasn't massively out of line with what I had seen for that item elsewhere. I thanked him, said it was a little expensive,  but that the piecemeal pricing was very offputting and walked out the door, wondering why he wasn't asking me what I needed the item for, how much his competitors were charging and most importantly...what he could do to make that sale?

Social Media is talking with people, Social Media Marketing is communicating the value of your goods and services. That store owner could have used Social Media to fill my immediate needs and make that sale by doing any one of the following:

Ask a Question

Had he stopped me with "What are planning on using this for?" as a lead-in to a discussion of the superior quality and longer life of this item as opposed to some other brand, he would have stopped me from leaving the store. Being interested in why I needed it, and how I would use it, could end up making that sale.

Tell a Story

Surely someone else has bought that item, why not tell me about that person, and how it suited them. Don't offhandedly say "well, pros like it," because that doesn't mean anything to me, but a hearty tale of stability, flexibility for multiple situations and long life could have made that cost seem less of an obstacle.

Be the Expert

When I go to a local business, I expect that you know every single item like the back of your hand. If I want confused stares and shrugs, I'll go to big box stores. I came to this store because they specialize in this field - I expect to get expert advice. If the best you can do is quote a price and watch me walk out the door, you've lost your chance to be seen as a resource.

Make a Deal 

This is a classic fall-back technique. Throw in a lower-priced, but necessary item, if I buy the rest of the kit. It's low cost for you and I'll need to replace that part anyway, eventually, so if I've bought the rest of the set-up, you can be pretty sure I'll come back here to get the replacement.


A good Yelp review is nice and might get someone in the door, but best practices when you speak with every customer will stop them from walking out again and keep them coming back.

Online or offline, brush up your Social Media and make those sales.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dress Up Your Profile for a LinkedIn Groups Interview

When one reads articles about professional networking on LinkedIn, LI Groups are almost always a key component.

LinkedIn Groups are loose confederations of people with a topic, industry, company or qualifications in common. Conversation is mostly driven by group members, and from time to time by a highly engaged group leaders. Some LI Groups have very specific criteria - members of trade associations, employment in a certain field, particular academic achievements, work experience at a specific company, but many others have more open criteria and will allow people who are even peripherally associated with the topic to join. Each group is a little different, and each will have a different take on what makes a good member.

I run an industry-related group myself and, as a result, I see all the various ways a person can misunderstand, misrepresent or simply miss a chance to be seen as a valuable group member.

Here are a couple of tips on dressing up your profile so that the group leader adds you without hesitation:

First: Read the Group Description  Do you fit the group? Are you close, but not quite, what the group is looking for? If you really don't fit the group criteria re-think what you hoped to gain from the group. Check to see if the group posts are Public or not. You may be able to read posts, even if you are not a member of the group.  If you come close, then it's time for a relevance upgrade to your profile...

Second: Add Relevant Experience and Projects to your Profile You may be a volunteer at a local event and that is why you are so interested in this topic. Add that experience to your profile! Companies looking at candidates often look for outside relevant experience to round out on the job experience. Make every effort to let a group owner know that you belong in this group because you already have done relevant work.

Third: Write a Short Note to the Group Leader LinkedIn doesn't give Group Leaders a chance to require notes from applicants, but providing context goes a long way to filling in holes. Explaining how your experience or projects are relevant to the group. Don't give the group leader a resume, just highlight the relevance of your experience.

Fourth: Do Not Reply With Anger to a Rejection Because my group is an industry group, I end up rejecting a great number of people who do not really pay attention to the group criteria. Because some number of those people are younger, with little professional experience, I occasionally receive very angry emails explaining why my rejection was unfair. Not surprisingly, this does not work to change my mind...if anything it reinforces my belief that my choice was the correct one. No one needs or wants a professional group member who throws hissy fits. As the Group Owner one of my jobs is to keep the group from too much drama, in fact.

In my group, I am as flexible as possible when I allow folks in. If there is no note added, I will visit a profile and look for relevant experience. So frequently I encounter profiles that are incomplete or utterly bare, with no way to know why this person thinks they are a good match for the group. I also see a great deal of wishful thinking, as young people apply to the group in order, they hope, to get a job. Unfortunately, my group description specifically states that the group is not to be used for job-hunting. If they took a moment to read the description, they'd know that.

Seeing how you fit into the group will go a long way to saving time and energy (and avoiding potential rejection.) Dress up your profile and be professional to pass your LinkedIn Group interview.

Monday, June 25, 2012

How Social Media Doesn't Work (and How It Does)

It's morning. We wake up and turn on the, Internet, TV or radio for weather report, music, traffic or companionship. A voice starts talking to us while we pour our coffee.

A commercial comes on, "Log in to our Facebook page at...!" the voice says. We stop and stare at the TV. "Log in to our Facebook page?" we say, dumbfounded at the idea. "You sell sneakers. What benefit can your Facebook Page give me?"

So we check. Nope, no sales, no discounts, just facts about the store and a overenthusiastic comment or two - then a lot of questions on the Wall that have been left unanswered.

How Social Media doesn't work: If your business has a Facebook page, you'd better have something there to make it worth people's time and respond to them when they ask questions.

We're on the way to the office, radio in the car is on. The DJ, who clearly has been given a free meal at a local restaurant in return for a positive comment is raving about the awesome large portions. "Don't forget the pickles" he says, eagerly echoed by his sidekick. "The pickles?" we echo. How stupid do they think we are? It's obvious that they've been fed for free or paid to endorse this restaurant. And, we ask ourselves, is this DJ really someone we admire? Do we *care* what kind of food he likes? Probably not.

How Social Media doesn't work: Paid endorsements are not, and never will be, Social Media.

We start our morning email review and there, on Facebook, is a picture on a friend's feed. It's a book we have never heard of - the cover is appealing. The friend is someone whose taste we trust. So we take a few minutes and look around for information about that book. And we find a video trailer that delights and charms. We share the trailer with our Facebook group, our Twitter and we buy the book.

That's how Social Media works.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest Post on Brainzooming: Fake Social Media Hall of Fame

This week on Twitter I was calling out egregious corporate misuses of Social Media. At the behest of Mike Brown of Brainzooming, I collected them all into a guest post for his blog. I invite you to enjoy my Fake Social Media Hall of Fame and other great posts on innovation and creativity at Brainzooming!

Friday, May 25, 2012

When You've Crossed the Line Between Fan and Friend

Social Media has provided all of us with almost unlimited access to communicate across previously unbreachable distances. Geographic distances mean nothing, and Time is not nearly the issue it used to be. Even the distance between fans and their idols are decreasing. Your favorite actor may not follow you back on Twitter, but you know...they may. Or they might respond when you have something important to say to them. People in niche fields have unprecendented access to people they admire, where they are likely to get personal reponses from creative minds that even a few years ago would be walled away behind a publicity machine.

As fantastic as it is, this access is not without problems.

This week I posted a rage comic on my personal Facebook account. A "friend" took offense to it and 'splained why I had no right to post it. When I suggested that people who 'splained was, in fact the problem, they 'splained again why I was a jerk.

The problem here is that this person was not, actually, a friend of mine. This was a fan who has access to me as a "friend." The fact that they took offense and used the opportunity to 'splain to me how rude it was was ironic, since the comic was specifically about how fans tend to 'splain.

To be clear here, I should probably explain what 'splaining is. 'Splaining is short for mansplaining, or whitesplaining or, in this case, fansplaining, in which a person presumes to know more about a thing than the people they are talking to, based on the fact that they are a member of a privileged group or because they simply don't know or care how much the other person knows. When a woman asks a group about what SSD to get, and a guy in the room starts to talk to her about memory and security like she doesn't already understand that, that's "mansplaining."  Fans of popular culture have a habit of wanting to win a conversation, or show how much they know, so they "fansplain."

The real problem is not that this fan chose to 'splain something I already knew to me, it was that he chose to lecture me on my personal FB account. He crossed the line.

I've seen people get very angry when an admired idol doesn't respond to their tweets. Or be furious when their emails are blocked. Not everyone wants to be friends with their fans. Even people who are relatively relaxed about that have a line in the sand they don't want crossed. My line is this - don't presume to tell me what I should or should not say on my own spaces. For one thing, you don't know what my intent is. Secondly, and I mean this in the nicest possible way - you are not actually my friend. So, please, don't cross that line.

Because you can contact someone on Social Media, do not presume that your are actual friends.

Be mindful of your privilege as a fan, and enjoy, but do not overstep those boundaries.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharing Content vs Sharing Activity

If you've been anywhere near a social platform, you've seen messages like this: "Friend A likes this update" or "Friend B" has read this article" (and, clicking on the article title seems to always require you to hand all your information to the publisher before you can see the content.)

Facebook, in particular is very keen on you seeing your friends' activity. LinkedIn, too, wants you to know that a connection has followed a company, connected with someone else, answered a question, joined a group.

The problem with that is exactly the same problem as talking to a friend who walks you through every step of their day, without degree or distinction; waking up, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, commute, meetings at work, home, etc... no one wants every single detail of your day. What we'd like to hear is the juicy bits, the good stuff. ^_^

Each social platform is a different conversation. Even when you have the same people talking about the same thing in the same place, there's subtle differences in audience, tone, attention, and acceptable length. Posting Twitter conversations on LI is meaningless to anyone not already in that conversation.

Be mindful of the difference between "activity" and "content." 

Facebook wants us to know all our friends' activities. What they read, what they commented on, what games they played, etc.

If your Twitter feed is automatically sent to LinkedIn, all your contacts are getting all of your activity, your RTs, your @s, your replies. The only thing that will be meaningful to many of those people in all of that is any content you share. And how patient do you think your contacts will be when they have to wade through 3 dozen chatty posts to get to a brilliant piece of content?

Quora, a platform I adore, yesterday launched a new feature that shared your Quora activity on your Facebook Timeline. I enabled it and ten minutes later, disabled it. I have no doubt my friends on FB would be interested in some of the answers I post to questions there, but equally, I have no doubt at all that no one not already on Quora cares which other answers I upvote. While the content I generate there may be of interest, my activity on Quora is entirely irrelevant to the folks on FB.

Small and medium sized businesses on Twitter, and individuals whose expertise is their business, often have only one Twitter account. To be authentic and real, these people tend to chat as well as share good content from this same account. This works really well on Twitter, where each tweet is viewed individually but, when it becomes a stream of half the conversation on a Twitter feed embedded on a web page, it simply makes no sense at all. Like sitting next to a person on the train who talks loudly enough that you can't not listen, you're getting an intrusive half a conversation you don't really want to hear.

Worse, when companies keep their Twitter account for purely professional contacts, that embedded stream becomes an obsessively narcissistic stream of "me me me." Again - it works fine on Twitter, but watch where else it gets shared or you can seem like you are incapable of listening to others.

So, by all means, share content! Just be mindful that your not drowning it out with all of your activity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Importance of Not Ignoring the Problem

As happens quite frequently on today's Internets, someone I admire was sharing a bad customer service story. And, like anyone who exists today, I also have had bad customer service stories.

Ken Mueller wrote a post about a bad experience he had at his local post office, and on Twitter, I mentioned that I had had similar experiences at mine. As I did, I started to think about that particular problem and realized - every single time I had that issue, it was the same exact person who caused it.

I'll bring an envelope or package to any of the other employees, they send it. Person A demands full customs forms for just about every kind of thing one can send, right down to a birthday card. The discrepancy isn't the real pain point though - its the incredulity with which this story is met by any side. I tell her, "Well J let me send this same thing without customs," and she rolls her eyes and shrugs, refusing to send it. I tell that story to J and T at the counter and they shrug and say that they have never heard of such a thing. These three people have been working together for 10 years and this has happened multiple is it that no one had ever encountered that problem but me?

Obviously, that is not the case. What is true is that everyone is ignoring the problem.

J lets things through, because he's the "nice guy" of the staff. T follows the rules by the book, but if the book lets you avoid the customs then you do, but she gets all bent out of shape when you make her add a surcharge for sending something weirdly shaped. A demand all forms be filled out before you get to her window, and you will fill out ALL forms that might, potentially be needed, because probably once she was reprimanded for not doing that.

Here's the problem - there's no consistency between the way they handle things...and no acknowledgement that the others handle things differently.

So you go in and hand the letter with customs form already filled out to J and he scoffs at the form, tells you don't need it, what are you thinking? You hand it to T and she hands it back, but bitches "what's IN here?" and hand it to A and she rolls her eyes at the fact that the zip code is not legible enough. You have to do it over again.

Thinking about your customer service - are you ignoring the problem? Are you or your employees ignoring the actual issue? Is it divide and conquer - "no one else has reported that problem, so it must be you"? Is each person picking up the phone giving a different story, a different process, a different set of requirements?

Imagine if you're your client or customer - you'd want a consistent set of rules and a consistent set of outcomes. Ignore the problem and you're sure to give the consumer the customer service from hell.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Get Bigger (Better) Impact from Your Facebook Status Updates

Facebook is easy. Too easy. It takes very little effort to craft a status that gets Likes from friends, family or folks who want you to think kindly of them. But for your Business Page, just any old status update isn't likely to get the response you're really looking for. Here are a few simple tactics you can use to increase the impact of your Facebook status updates.

Know What Action You Want People To Do - Then Tell Them To Do It

I was speaking to someone recently who expressed a concern that people were not "Like"ing or commenting on their status updates. There was nothing at all wrong with their posts, but nowhere did they indicate the desired action. It wasn't surprising then that people didn't know what they were supposed to do.

"Like" now to express interest in this new design

"Leave a comment" to let us know if you want this flavor

"Share" this article with your network

Each of these seems a bit demanding, but remember, on Facebook, people are being bombarded constantly by multiple media, and a steady stream of requests, news, opinions and miscellany. Make your desired action simple and state it plainly to help your readers know what you expect.

Draw Attention to the Media

Not everyone likes words as much as I do. Many people prefer visual or audio cues, Facebook makes it extremely simple to share many kinds of media. So how do you get yours noticed?

When you post an update with an attached picture, sound clip or video, you want people to look (or listen) to it. Small things, like gobbledygook URLS or generic commentary about the host site will make readers' eyes glaze over with confusion.

But don't worry, Facebook now lets you edit metadata for all media. Let's say I want to upload a simple picture to my personal FB page. I could grab it from my Flickr account.

Notice the URL and the title. They aren't terribly meaningful to anyone. And Facebook isn't picking up the image as a thumbnail.

To edit information like the image title, or the metadata, scroll your mouse over the words you want to edit:

The editable data will turn yellow to indicate that you can edit it. Click those words and a text box will appear:

Then edit the title. You can do the same with the description. Instead of generic metadata from Flickr, you can customize the content for that update.

However, we're still left with the issue of  the missing thumbnail and the gobbledygook URL.

Uploading links to photosharing sites on the fly is fine, but to ensure your post has a thumbnail, upload the picture directly to a Facebook Photo Album.

Write a meaningful status update, indicating what you'd like people to do, and what they are looking at.

With customized information and a clear status update, the end result is worth it. (Keep in mind that this is a personal page, with appreciably less viewers than a business page.)

Don't Confuse the Issue

Now that you have a chance to make greater impact, don't get too enthusiastic. If you ask your followers to do too much at once, your message will get muddled.

Above, I asked people to "look" at the picture and "Like" it. If I then added, "and can I get your opinion on the shade of purple? Do you think it's too dark? Or should I go with a lighter color?" some people will comment, some will "like" and others will get tired before they get to the end of the status.

Don't Forget the Basics

Of course, with this, you still need to engage and respond to comments when you receive them. Don't forget to reward them with  - at the very least - thanks and acknowledgement for their contributions to your page, their questions and comments. These power of Facebook is that you get to see names of your customers so there's less chance of them becoming faceless numbers. They are not "The Consumer," they are the people you interact with every day.

Be descriptive and clear, remember to engage and thank and you will be on the road to much higher impact on your FB status updates.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Three Reasons Why You *Really* Shouldn't Automate Social Media

One of the unwritten rules of excellent Social Media is  - don't automate your Social Media. When a so-called Social Media Expert tries to convince you that a piece of software can make your Social Media a snap, it's a good bet that they have no idea what they are doing.

It's very apparent, however, that it is possible to automate Social Media - Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and even Empire Avenue, provide ways of doing just that. So....where's the disconnect? If you can make Social Media simpler through automation, why not just do it? Here's three critical reasons why you should make each and every connection personal:

Lack of Customization Looks Insincere

When you format a Tweet, you have 140 characters total. There needs to be no preamble, no sign-off. Everyone knows this, and no one considers it inappropriate. On your mailing list, however, this would be seen as terse - at best - and really just plain rude by most people. You're missing a chance to be approachable and human with a simple greeting and sign-off or, if you have the kind of list that uses customized images and formats, a slick-looking message. What works best for Facebook might be a short intro to the link, the link and a personal comment about the link. On LinkedIn, you'll probably want to add a line or two of insight or application.

When you boilerplate your communications, it signals insincerity. Take the time to make each communication count for maximum impact on that platform.

It Puts A Barrier Between You and Your Message

Let's say you have a blog, a Mailing List and Facebook. When you automate your Social Media, on the one hand it shows consistency, but on the other, it begins to take on a corporate slickness that makes it less human. There's one message there, and no real person behind that message. How long does it really take to email your List and let them know something terrific is happening? That personal touch gives your message a voice - and a face.

Taking a moment to write authentic communications gives your audience a voice to hear, and a person to respond to.

Closes You Off To Response

Once you've begun to automate Social Media, you'll save a lot of time. That's the rationalization, but is it true? Aside from the obvious point that taking 5-10 minutes a day to connect with people isn't really asking all that much; when you save those seconds, what are you planning on doing with them? Because you've automated your communications with your audience, the barrier you've placed between them and you goes both ways -  are you going to take the time needed to respond to people?

+1ing a comment on Google+ takes mere seconds. Responding to a tweet or a comment, perhaps a minute. If the issue is complex, you might need to take it off-platform, through mail or phone. Once the audience you're addressing with your standardized messages become faceless number counts in your stats, are you going to make that time? These people are your audience, your market - your customers. Automating communications with them may give you a few more minutes in the day, but it's unlikely to give you a few more sales at the end of that day.

Keep your Social Media real - talk with, not at people. Time invested in communicating always brings about a better ROI.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How To Not Be *That* Client

There's an infographic making its way around the Internets right now. Called the "Anatomy of a Web Design Client" from Top Web Design Schools, it's pretty clear about the pain points designers run into with clients. (Click image for full-size)

Anatomy of a Web Design Client

But how can you avoid being that client? After all, you aren't a designer yourself, you just know what you want. Here's a few simple steps to do before you end up having a terrible web design experience and being *that* client.

Know What You Want To Do

The initial reaction to the question of web design is very similar to the initial reaction to art, "I know what I like." you?

Name three qualities about a web site you use often that you like. Color should not be among those three things. Saying you like the color of a website is exceedingly similar to saying you like a car for the color.

If you're reaching desperately for a vocabulary to describe the things you like, you probably need to start further back in the concept of websites than you may think. Yes, sure, you use them all the time, but if you don't know what you want yours to do, you might not be able to adequately describe what you like. Designfestival has a really simple description of what a webpage is. These words listed each describe a feature of the webpage.

Until you know what the purpose of your website actually is, you're going to have a hard time knowing what features to focus on. Most business websites feature:

Information about the company/store/products or services

E-commerce - links to purchase those products/services or to follow up for more information

Demonstrations of expertise - product demos, presentations, expert articles

Not every website needs to have all of these, but business websites without any of these, end up being confusing or unfocused.

In addition, it's smart to provide Sharing capabilities, so your customers can get the word out for you.

Navigation is the unsung hero of websites. Few people pay any mind to the navigation within a site, but if you've ever been caught in a website where you couldn't find what you wanted, or get back to where you started, you know how critical good navigation is.

Take a look at sites you use often, and sites you find aesthetically pleasing. Note down what you like about each site. Pay attention to the difference between good site structure and good content. Your designer can make the first shine, but the second bit is going to be up to you.

Know What You Definitely Do Not Want and Why

The other common phrase from *that* client is, "I don't know why, but it just doesn't work for me." There's pretty much no faster way to sour a client/designer relationship. It's absolutely critical that you know exactly why a thing does not work for you.

For instance, Web Pages That Suck coined a term - Mystery Meat Navigation. These are sites that are so clever and visual that you have no idea what anything does. There's not a pop-up or a roll-over hint, either. These sites have jettisoned utility for style (or sometimes, just plain delusion.) Visit the link to Mystery Meat navigation to understand the levels of frustration this can cause a new visitor - or a returning one. In fact, bookmark Web Pages That Suck and check out what they have to say about web design. You'll learn a lot, quickly and with a few laughs. They've been doing this since the days of Tripod and Angelfire, they've seen it all.

Once you know what you can't stand about other sites, give your designer a short list: No flashing, scrolling, spinning things, no background music, no automatically downloading *anything*, etc....

Be Realistic About Your Contributions

Nothing is eternal. Even your perfect nice new website will need to be refreshed once in a while. It might have a server issue or a feature may not work the way you want it to on an upgraded browser. There is nothing you can do to make a site with 100% uptime and no errors ever. Everything on the Internet is changing, all the time.

If you are truly put off by the idea of spending any time on the phone with your internet host, and can't figure out how to add a Facebook 'Like' button to a WordPress page (or are too stressed by the idea to try,) let your designer know upfront. They may know a website manager you can hire to check in periodically to update, upgrade and clean up the back end. This is exactly as important as having someone straighten your shelves and vacuum your store at the end of the night - you do that every day, to make sure the store looks clean and organized. You'll need to have someone do that for your site regularly, too. Your designer is not a website manager. Don't expect to be able to call them at 2AM with a panicked "The site crashed!" message. The moment you do, you've become *that* client.

Vague ideas and unreasonable requirements lead directly to you being *that* client. The more you know about what you do want, don't want and why, the more likely you'll get a website that suits you.

(Unsolicited plug for three designers I use: Bonnie WasielweskiMay Young and Lissa Patillo. If you're looking for stellar design work, check them out. Bonnie and Lissa also do implementation.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three Common Mistakes on LinkedIn and How to Fix Them

LinkedIn, because of its placement as the most populous professional networking site, can significantly boost your presence online, even if you don't have any other social presence. Maximing your LinkedIn presence is merely a matter of simple steps, and building a Business page is straightforward. From that point on, all that is required is participation and maintenance of your profile.

Because use of LinkedIn is so relatively simple, and because there are no moderating features, LinkedIn frequently has examples of behaviors that more sophisticated users of social platforms eschew. Here are three behaviors that can completely capsize you on LinkedIn and you may never know why.

This morning, I checked LinkedIn and ran into three very common mistakes right away in my inbox:

Request for Recommendation (From Someone You Don't Know)

I'm pretty generous with recommendations. If we've worked together directly and you've shown yourself to be professional (at the very least) I'll probably find something nice to write about you. Today I received an obvious generic email sent to all of the person's connections - asking for "glowing praise."

Well, you know, I don't know this person. We have never worked together. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, but despite their limited (and pointless) security against connecting with people you don't know, many folks there do connect with people they do not know. That is, in fact, the point of professional networking. However, if he feels that a mass mailing is the most appropriate way to gather recommendations, he's missing the point of "social media." The conclusion? I unconnected with him.

Do it Right: If you're looking for recommendations to bulk up your profile, be as authentic as possible. Don't spam your connections - take a moment to find people you've done business with, who you respect and who are likely to feel the same way about you. Those recommendations are much more likely to be meaningful.

Contentious Replies to Answers

You asked a question on LinkedIn Answers, but aren't getting the response you wanted. Instead of thanking people who are trying to help - or, at the minimum, saying nothing - you are replying by telling everyone how wrong or unhelpful they are.

Do It Right: LinkedIn makes editing impossible. so before you post a question, sit on it for a while and think how you can make it better. What clarifications will make the criteria more useful? Consider too, whether you're looking for validation of your already-decided opinion, or are looking for feedback that gives you a different perspective.  Lastly, consider if the "advice" you're looking for is really something you should be paying for. Many people use LinkedIn Answers to ask a question for which they should really be hiring a professional to do the work. Once you've decided your question can elicit useful answers - thank everyone. It took them time to answer. Even if you hate the answer, or don't find it useful, thank them for their time. Don't forget to assign Good and Best answers when you close the question. Those markers are the only form of reward on LinkedIn, it is critical that you assign them, so that people will want to answer your next question.

These first two mistakes fall under the category of self-delusion, mistakes made when people are using a tool and not really considering how it makes them look. This third mistake is often because of naivete or inexperience.

Joining a Group with Incomplete Profile or Credentials

I run a group on LinkedIn. Because it is a group focused on the Industry of a field of Entertainment, I receive a lot of requests to join that are wildly inappropriate. They usually boil down to one of three kinds of applications.

 - No Connections

 - No Experience in the Industry (Job hunting)

 - No Note to express *why* they would be a good candidate

Do It Right: Yes, you might want a job as a Marketer, but if the group rules state that the group is only for people who are members of a specific Marketing Association, and you are not, don't apply. It makes you look sloppy, at best. Spend time working on your profile, so you've got connections that make sense to the industry. If you genuinely think you'd be great for a group, but you're new on LinkedIn, don't yet have a job in that industry, but you know you can bring value to the group, write a note to the Group leader and explain that cogently. Avoid "I should be in this group, because I run a website devoted to that topic," unless the topic is technical. There are a million fan pages for everything in the universe, running a fan page doesn't make you a professional. Have a full, relevant profile, strong connections and the note will be the icing on the cake.

These mistakes are common - but they are also easy to fix. Don't let them hold you back on LinkedIn or anywhere else on line. Do it right - be professional, courteous and relevant and your reputation will be as solid on LinkedIn as it is everywhere else in your industry.

Connect with Erica on LinkedIn.

Friday, February 3, 2012

You Got Your Twitter in My Facebook! When Merging Social Media Platforms Makes Sense (or Not)

It's hard to know when it's a good decision to merge Social Media platforms. Will it make you look more accessible to have a Twitter feed streaming on your website, or will it backfire and open you to situations like McDonald's encountered in their recent #McDStories campaign?

On the positive side, merging one platform with another (Adding your Facebook feed to the bottom of your internal pages, as Klout does, for instance) will let folks know that wherever they are, you are there, too. They won't have to hunt you down and leave emails through generic contact forms.

On the negative side, the more out there you are, the more you have to be willing to remember that "Social" media is based on the idea that people are talking to you - and they expect a response.

Before you mix and match your social media, you need to create a strategy to be able to Let Go, Listen (and Respond), develop Consistency and, just in case, a Plan for a Crisis.

- Let Go

Social Media is a confusing mixture of Customer Service, Marketing, Communications, Public Relations and Sales. Companies often forget that in order to have the most effective communications, they need to focus not on themselves, but on their consumers. "Tell us why we are so great and get a prize" can work once or twice, but "Our customers are great!" will work forever.

"What if someone says something bad about us?" asks Matt Hames of Colgate University.
This question tends to constrict company's Social Media use - the fear of a negative comment. But, as Matt goes on to point out, "What is possible is engagement. If you get 10 comments and one of them is bad, it is hard to focus on the 9 good ones. The bad one takes all the energy."

Let Go of the idea that Social Media is about you. Embrace the idea that wherever you are, you cannot control the message. Not one second after you tweet, someone might have an ax to grind, or worse, someone might have a genuine problem. You need to Let Go of the concept of controlling the message. Develop a model for communications with positive and negative commenters. Learn everything you can about where a person is coming from, find a way to make the experience of communicating as satisfying and positive as possible.

 - Listen (and Respond)

Emma Haller, Marketing Manager at iFactory "If and when you receive a negative comment, don't delete it - deal with it. Your reply can add credibility to your company."

Merging Social Media might be opening a window on the parts of the Internet you pretend don't really exists, as Skittles found out when they put their Twitter feed on their new Facebook page. You can't set Social media up and walk away. It has to be managed and monitored in a meaningful way. Listen to what is being said to you. If it's acting out, you can have your creatives come up with a boilerplate that handles that, but you also need to listen to the noise for serious issues. How you handle each negative situation is twice as important as how you handle the positive ones.

 - Consistency

People have a lot to say about consistency between platforms.

Matthew Dominy Social Media Consultant points out that "by integrating your social media into your website you allow for sharing to increase your exposure and create a viral loop for your audience to easily see the social proof of your product/service."

On the other hand, Bridie Jenner of Bridie's Typing Services warns, "the mediums are very different, so something I would share on LinkedIn wouldn't necessary be right for my twitter followers, and vice versa."

Steven Lowell Community Manager at reminds us that "For example, a platform may auto-post your blog with a look you did not expect, or give credit to the wrong author of the article. In addition, the usage of hashtags may appear strange on the platform you are using."

Creating consistency between your social platforms is way more than just having the same brand logo. Each interaction establishes a "voice" for your company. Coming off as clueless, or disinterested sets a tone that can lead quickly to customer frustration. The more in control your "voice" is, the less likely a situation spirals into crazy.

Daniel Godin, Founder of Triton PR reminds us that, "With or without you, people are using social media to talk about your brand." So, we need to be vigilant and be aware of what is being said - and by whom. One really influential person trashing your brand can be as bad as many average people who are unhappy with your SM efforts.

 - Crisis Planning

Sometimes, despite the best plans, a social situation explodes. Be prepared. In the best of worlds, your crisis plan sits, unused, in a file.

Before anything else, add in "Apologize Sincerely" to the top of that plan. People using Social Media are not children, they know - and share - when they are getting insincere responses. Admit to doing something wrong, THEN proceed to fix the problem. Either one without the other sends a message of uncaring, or at worst, manipulation.

Whether or not you actively embrace Social Media, Social Media is discussing you and your business. So, while you decide if you want your company blog on your LinkedIn page, or your Twitter feed embedded in your blog, it's worth the time to consider the worst possible outcomes to your choice and develop appropriate responses. Failures of over-enthusiasm are seen as more benign than failures of denial.

You may be mixing your Social Media to create a delicious new idea, or you may end up with a franken-flavor - either way, you'll want to be prepared for the best and the worst.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What is Blogging and How Does it Work?

It's 1770. You have a printing press. You write a broadside, full of insightful political commentary, some pithy sayings and admonishments for good behavior. Slap it up on the common walls in town - especially outside taverns - and let people read it. Then do that every week, until people are waiting to read what you have to say. They start making a detour past that wall to read that broadside...and they start talking about it in the town square or in the tavern.

That's what blogging is.

Your broadside is printed electronically and you need to make sure you post it outside your locals with links.

Now, once you have an audience for that broadside, you maybe suggest a thing or two - hey, the town gate needs shoring up, or we could use a new bridge. Then people talk about that - and maybe someone proposes to actually build that bridge in town hall. Everyone knows about the broadside, it's been talked about for a while. So, a resolution is passed that a new bridge will be built.

That's a suggestion to action.

Now, let's say war is building and the town hasn't shored up that gate. You write a smart, witty and passionate plea for a new gate NOW and all people to take up arms and...people do it. They get that gate repaired and start making ammo, because the enemy is not far away.

That's action language.

When your town wins against the enemy, other towns ask how they did it, someone says, "We have this writer...he got us focused" and the next town over asks for copies of the broadside too.

That's advocacy.

That's how blogging works.

Project Wonderful