Category: Social Media


While Kindergarten provides you with the building blocks for life: Ignore the First Rule You Learned!

Before we get to the rule, let me set the stage…

While doing some research on Online Reputation Management (ORM) and social screening for a training session, I ran across a great post from Mark Kaye. He played off the poster/book, “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten”. Mark first lists the kindergarten ‘rules’ and then discusses how that applies to SEO and the world of social media.

I love Mark’s article but I have to disagree with him on perhaps the most important everyday rule. (Sorry Mark!)

YOUR LEGACY

When facilitating a Junior Achievement session for grade eight students we discussed applying for jobs (as these students were convinced by a budgeting exercise to stay in school and aim for a good job). The facilitation notes suggested that the facilitator should caution the students about the impact social media. (Hmm… where to start on that??)

Your digital legacy does not disappear. You know that and I know that, but some of these bright young students did not understand the impact.

FOLLOW RULES 2 & 3

I followed my ‘digital rant’ with a lively discussion of tagging. The students all understood what tagging was. When I asked what would happen if a potential employer saw Facebook pictures of them doing something silly at a party. They objected, “Well I wouldn’t post that on Facebook!” I countered with, “It doesn’t have to be you: a friend or stranger can post a picture and tag you.” That got their attention. I added, “OR someone may even tag a picture that isn’t you.” Some students looked horrified: now there was silence and complete focus on the topic.

The discussion continued with real life examples, like the Domino’s Pizza YouTube ‘scandal’. Plenty has been written about that scandal and some young people have even copied it. [Links to video copycats are not included because of profane language.]

I cautioned these students on things they had learned in kindergarten: Rule#2 “play nice” with others and Rule#3 “don’t hit people”. If you don’t ‘play’ fair how are others going to ‘play’?  If you slam someone or post inappropriate pictures, what does that say about you?

That being said, I advised them to set themselves up (with profile settings and alerts) to ensure they knew when they were tagged or talked about. (i.e. Rule#10: watch out for traffic.) It is easier to fix a problem, it you know it exists. I explained that a REAL friend will take down that embarrassing picture of you or delete the YouTube video of you talking about the person you have a crush on.

THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW

Yes, managing your middle school or high school reputation to land job is different than managing your reputation to land a job mid-career. But remember that legacy…

Just like Tim Giehll, I’ve found countless blog posts talking about the legal ramifications regarding ‘social screening’.  If you were a small firm reading these articles, you’d be petrified to check out someone’s Facebook. Understanding the downside, large companies (with a stable of lawyers) have set out guidelines on who, how and when applicants can be screened with social media. If you are a small company and unable to do that, you should check out some helpful practical advice from Jerry D. Thurber’s recruiting blog.

But do hiring managers follow those guidelines and advice? Here is some undisputable data from Tim’s article “Screening Applicants With Social Media” :

“According to a CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 employers in 2009, 45 percent reported using social media sites in an attempt to research a candidate with another 11 percent planning to begin utilizing social media account reviews this year.”

Although there may be legal ramifications for employers, you need to ask yourself how difficult and costly it would be to prove you were discriminated against because someone saw an uncomplimentary Twitter tweet or Facebook post.

PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE

That is why, you should listen to your Mother and ‘wash behind your ears’ just as Rita Jackson suggests in her blog post outlining the do’s and don’ts of social media.

AND Ignore Rule#1: Share Everything.

In kindergarten we were taught to share everything: toys, materials and information. We regularly shared family secrets and gossip during Show and Tell. (If you wanted to know anything, you just had to ask a kindergarten teacher.) I recall one day my mother, who had volunteered, was horrified as my teacher allowed a fellow student to outline the graphic details of an unfortunate situation. (New rules were discussed at the dinner table that evening: “What is discussed at this table, stays at this table!” AND “What happens at home, stays at home!”)

For social media and  kindergarten Show and Tell: some things should not be shared. I do agree with Mark that you should share advice, content and value using social media; however, I advise you to share less about your personal life. (I know that too sounds like motherhood, but I can’t believe the number of people that describe situations and  challenges that could impact their personal or professional relationships and reputation.)

THE CAVEAT

Now, having said that all of that: People are people and they are going to believe what they want to believe as outlined in this article “People Filter Information”.

Yes, filtering can occur at anytime. Impressions do count, especially first impressions. So make sure the impression your digital legacy leaves is a positive one:

REMEMBER THIS ISN’T KINDERGARTEN!

  • Follow Rules #2 & #3: Don’t Kiss & Tell as it says volumes about you.
  • Ignore Rule #1: Don’t Show & Tell everything (only some things).
  • Follow Rule #10: Watch out for traffic. Knowing there is a large ‘truck’ going to hit you (i.e. your reputation) will give you a better opportunity react and jump out of the way.

So, what did YOU learn in kindergarten that you can apply today to your online presence? Please leave me a comment and I’ll share some kindergarten anecdotes guaranteed to give you a giggle.

Until next time…

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by Rachel a. k.

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It’s FAST,

It’s FIERCE,

It could be DANGEROUS.

BUT you LOVE ADRENALINE and long for notoriety…

That is what attracts you to SKI CROSS

and SOCIAL MEDIA.

NOW Stop!

Put the allure aside and let’s step back. Before you make skier cross or social media your “Drug of Choice” (DOC) there are many facets to consider. With some careful planning you could become a DOUBLE THREAT to landing that coveted position.

Consider this: what if you were equally skilled in a related discipline, could that accelerate you to the head of the pack?

CROSS TRAINING FOR EXECUTION:

Remember the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”? This is where cross training comes in: and more people are doing it.

The British Columbia Skier Cross (BCSX) Team cross trains its athletes in other ski disciplines: Slalom (for concentration and nimbleness), Giant Slalom (for speed and strength), Super G (to practice jumps at high speed) and ‘the steep and deep’.  SlopeSide is another discipline to consider (to develop a well rounded comfort on skis and superb balance). Anyone able to excel in all these venues will be a GREAT ski cross racer. [Editorial disclaimer: see section on `character`.]

To manage your own online presence or that of a company, takes a variety of skills (and not just the technical ones). Consider what you may face: from an active aggressive complainant to a passive action-less audience. How do you handle the complaint to defuse the aggression and how do you motivate your audience to act on a call-to-action?

Good ‘Sales’ skills are so important: from listening and investigating (before reacting or actioning), to relationship building, to understanding your audience’s challenges or opportunities (before you give them a solution YOU THINK they need). And being persuasive never hurts.

Customer satisfaction skills are crucial to handling concerns or assertions of your audience. The training and experience that one gets in hospitality, retail, service or other sales positions may help in properly handling a complaint and turning it into an opportunity. Over 20 years ago, Bruach Na Haille, a tiny restaurant in Ireland had a power outage that impacted my dinner.  My entree (and some Irish coffees) were ‘on the house’. Their only request was that I return again. Well, I’ve been back… and I’ve sent many, many others.

Awareness building and promotion are other skills that can be built by volunteering in non-profits or by being involved in announcing new products, technologies or services. Look for opportunities to (be credible and) let you passion show through.

Appealing to an audience is crucial. Marketing/Communications and PR (Promotion) positions help develop deep skills in written communications. However, an added background in media, training or performing arts may give you an added confidence and advantage to appeal to the audience and make them feel like you are speaking directly to them. (As the trainers/teachers would say: remember to keep it simple.)

EXCELLING TAKES MORE THAN JUST TECHNICAL SKILL: ADD CHARACTER

Although, great ski cross racers are awesome, well rounded skiers they are fearless, more fearless than their SL, GS or Super G counterparts. Ski cross racers are confident and determined. This is perhaps one of the only sports where you can come from behind and win.

Just like social media, both demand someone who is confident and determined. Remember entrepreneurs: this IS the space where the ‘little guy’ can win.

The article: ‘Five Must-Have Skills for Non-profit Social Media Managers’ outlines a number of skills suggested in the non-profit space. What is interesting is the focus on passion and personal approach (being friendly, patient and responsive).

THEN PRACTICE TO MAKE PERFECT

Like ski cross racers train and then practice: you must too.

  • LISTEN so that you are relevant,
  • CREATE content in multiple media to develop and showcase your skills,
  • CURATE content by  recommending useful  information (not by telling us you had cereal for breakfast),
  • COLLABORATE with others and search for ways to work together.

With social media you must GIVE before you (ask and then) GET. Some non-profit Social Media gurus advise that non-profits need to think of this as “friend-raising before fund-raising”. Think about relationship building and connecting.

ADVICE TO THE WISE

Whether it is ski cross or social media: you can’t really train in one discipline to be the ultimate participant. If you are out in front, one slip and you can lose your advantage that is when you need to dig deep and draw on all your skills and experience.

  • Aim to connect with your audience or be ready to brave the consequences. Here’s what the show’s producer said about the reason the gorgeous and talented  Pia Toscano had to leave American Idol.
  • Realize the more you know:  the more YOU KNOW that you don’t know.
  • Understand knowing the new equipment and technology will important, but it is not the only critical success factor. The landscape, terrain and equipment keep changing and so do the rules: you’ll need to adapt and draw from your skills and experiences.

Accept that things happen FAST and it may be determination that will win the race as it did in this video clip of the Skier Cross World Cup Race at Cypress Mountain. [Note: the blue jersey in the lead.]

Remember: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”

BE DETERMINED.

CROSS TRAIN and build up those skills that will make you stronger, faster, better.

BECOME A DOUBLE THREAT!

Until next time.

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Image courtesy of Gord Palin.

Social Media is just like Ski/Skier Cross. Popularity is exploding. Rules are evolving. Training is not quite mainstream: but everyone is doing it OR wants to do it.

Ever since the introduction of Skier Cross in the Vancouver Olympics, its popularity has risen. I always thought of Ski/Skier Cross as being similar to roller derby on snow, until I researched some links for roller derby.  Skier Cross is more like a steeplechase on snow:  lots of individual racers braving many dangers and obstacles hoping to out survive ‘the pack’ of the other racers.

Here is a great video showing all the action of World Cup Ski Cross.  [Turn down the volume as the tunes are loud!]

Media has promoted the drama of the sport that MANY have unofficially engaged in for years. Typically these unofficial races started with a challenge such as, “Race you to the bottom: loser is buying!” (Typically this is when your buddy had already established a healthy head start down the slope.)

But as a parent of a ski racer, some of that footage reminds me of the old intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports:  I always cringed at the end. But, as a young skier, that didn’t stop me from trying ‘The Jump’ while visiting Holimont. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. (Ouch!)

WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVE?

Like a mom, asks her child “Why you are doing that? What are you expecting to prove?” I am asking you as your coach or mentor, “What are you expecting out of social media?” Are you trying to win something, prove something, improve something or just have fun? Your social media future will involve lots of effort and learning, some disappointment and a bump or bruise on occasion. For more on thinking through your objectives, here is a link to a blog post which may help.

OBSERVE: LISTEN

Just like great racers observe other great racers and try to shadow them while racing Skier Cross, you can learn by listening and following the ‘lead guy’.

Watching and listening is a great step to get started. This will help you find out what works, what doesn’t.  You can determine what you need to be good at and what you need to be great at. You will observe what topics are the most relevant and what content is uncompelling.  And you may determine some methods to get your audience engaged.

JOIN IN: CREATE

Starting out is a leap of faith, especially when you face a wu-tang on a Skier Cross Course.  According to Ski Cross Canada,

A “Wu-Tang” is a very difficult feature to navigate, consisting of a near vertical ramp of 10 feet or more , with a flat top and a near vertical landing, most often placed at the start of a Ski Cross course.

Personally, I think adding a wu-tang it is meant to intimidate skiers and weed out the skiers that don’t have a lot of experience. But everyone has to start somewhere. So the first time facing one, it may seem big, but it is downhill from there.

This is just like social media. No matter how simple the post, the video or the tweet it may appear to be a huge hurdle when you do it for the first time.  Take your time, be yourself.

Next time, adjust as necessary. Learn from your bumps, spills. Accept that you won’t always be right and you won’t always be slick. Accept your mistakes, acknowledge the opinions of others and move on.

If you don’t want to create content, you can always curate content. Find compelling articles, videos or pictures. Comment on them and share them with others. Everyone is always looking for great content!

ACCELERATING YOUR START

Whether you are racing Ski Cross or you are using some form of social media,

  1. Remember what your intent was in ”entering into it”.
  2. Learn from others: their successes and mistakes.
  3. Try it and learn from your own experiences.

As for Skier Cross, I think it is a great spectator sport. It is great, if it isn’t YOUR child, teen or spouse who is racing…

Don’t miss my next blog post which continues exploring the similarities with ski/skier cross and social media. Subscribing is easy, just click the button below “Free E-mail Subscription” on the right hand side of this page.

Until then, enjoy (safely) the last few days of the season!

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Think about it: reflections always differ and they change. Whether it is looking into a pool of water or a mirror, the reflection changes depending upon where you are standing (i.e. your perspective).

Sometimes, reflections are not positive. Many of us are just too hard on ourselves (or others), always looking for the imperfections. (“Is my hair really getting gray??”)

I’ve been involved in countless post-mortem project reviews. Many times the participants focus on the negative: here’s what went wrong, here’s who goofed up… You get the picture.

My training was a bit different, I was taught to look at the successes and challenges and to not point a finger at any person in particular: many times the process, system or entire team contribute to the project’s success (or lack their of). But I am getting ahead of myself…

ALWAYS BE THANKFUL

So, first and foremost, at the end of a project a manager, team leader or coordinator should thank their team… and so should you.

Thank those that made you (personally and) professionally successful: your clients, your mentors, your collaborators, your sponsors and your spouse.

Also, be thankful for the health and all the little things in life: you never know when things can be taken away. One of the challenges I faced this year probably wasn’t to hard to figure out, especially given this blog post and this ‘video‘.

I wasn’t going to share something so personal, but the experience has made me a better person and it cemented my love of social media. That is an example where my reflection yielded an unexpected result.

EMBRACE THE SOCIAL ‘VIBE’ AND GIVE

In 2010, I learned that social media is all about sharing of content (and expertise). Many of us are not afraid to ‘share’ with our colleagues at work OR our friends and family at home; however, many are afraid to offer an opinion on a social networking site or offer their expertise in a blog or content on a website. I must say though, I’ve seen several people transform from listeners into content creators: KUDOS for you! (Many thanks to the several parents that capture action shots of our children in their sports activities, especially: Gord, Barry, Mike, Scott, Lisa K., Sari and Howard!)

Thinking about social media, made me realize that there is a ‘vibe’ to give back. In this 2.0 world, that ‘vibe’ goes beyond one’s business or professional activities and you see a trend to give back to the community via volunteerism. Volunteerism today can take the form of being an advocate for an idea, an event or a cause. The challenge is for the community or charity to leverage the expertise and passion from their advocates.

More businesses, non-profits and the public sector are learning how to use social media as a catalyst in promoting their product, services and causes. And we must learn too…

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY

I know, I know: “Learning something new every day”, sounds like old news. Today more than ever, it is EXTREMELY important. You need to keep on top on trends, directions and discussions… The challenge becomes how?

One method that helps me keep up-to-date is micro-learning: learning in bits and pieces. There are so many articles on the web and many of them are short enough to read and digest in a few minutes.

The keys to successful micro-learning, that I have found are: finding and organizing content and then saving key information to refer to in the future.  Social media tools help with all of those, let me explain.

The best tool I’ve found to help organize my areas of interest and find content is a dashboard. The dashboard I prefer to use is Netvibes. Netvibes allows you to organize searches and RSS feeds into tabs and in doing so it saves you time and frustration. For example, I have a tab set up to collect all the RSS feeds regarding non-profits.

(If you are thinking this sounds like a great idea, then check out the short video tutorial on how to ‘Set up Your Social Media Dashboard’ available courtesy of the folks from CustomersWhileYouSleep.)

When I find great content I use a bookmarking tool to ‘file’ it for later (reading or) reference. Think about it: how many times were you searching for one thing but found a great article on something else? Will you remember how to find it again? So, take the guesswork and frustration out of it and start using a bookmarking tool like Delicious or Digg.

TRY SOMETHING NEW

Not only did I embrace the use of a dashboard and bookmarking tool, but I did something I considered ‘scary’: I became a guest blogger.

Being a guest blogger for my friends at Folkmedia was a milestone for me. (Folkmedia specializes in helping small businesses leverage social media and their ‘brand’ is to provide realistic actionable advice.) The article I wrote was designed to encourage people to leverage YouTube. My objective was to try to make it easy for a reader to create a successful video with their first attempt using the web camera on their computer.

In reflecting, I think *we* all have to start using video more often. It is extremely personable… Remember if given the option, many would rather watch than read. (‘Watch this space in 2011.’)

MOVING FORWARD

Reflect and be thankful. Pay it forward (i.e. give back), learn something new and get your courage together and TRY something new: you’ll be glad you did. Enjoy the ride…

Wishing you and yours all the best for a healthy and social 2011.

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by Jonathan Khoo

I can’t believe 2010 is over! It seems like yesterday that I watched the 2010 fireworks… and then started my social media journey in earnest. While the trip has not been straight forward, all the detours have been well worth it and they’ve been lessons in themselves.

This is a quick look back at the highlights of my blogging journey: what you thought was interesting and what I consider to be some top pieces of work (including a few favourite photos from others).

Before I share some highlights, I would like to thank all my subscribers and readers. I appreciate the comments, feedback and accolades… AND I am THRILLED that you appreciate the humour I try to weave into my posts. As you are a big part of my journey, please continue to let me know if there is anything specific that you would like me to write about in 2011.

Now for what you thought was ‘hot’ in 2010…

Top Attractions

Statistically speaking, here are some of my ‘top results’ according to the accountant-types at WordPress. I am narrowing down the field to the 2 most popular categories and blog post (articles).

CATEGORIES:

  • New to Social Media? provides an overview some key aspects of social media with some realistic hints and tips on how to successfully start blogging.
  • New to Teaching? presents some helpful background to subject matter experts who are new to developing and delivering training material (regardless of the delivery vehicle).

SPECIFIC BLOG POSTS:

Personal Favourites

INDIVIDUAL BLOG POSTS

While I liked the content that my readers enjoyed, I thought a few other blog posts were worthy of some recognition:

PICTURES

That same Team Teaching/’Mutiny’ posting used the picture to the left: my personal favourite photo for the year.

When I was looking for an intriguing picture for that blog post, I found Shane Gorski‘s  photostream. His pirate portfolio was outstanding and I found a few other photos that  inspired me to write other blog posts which I’ve organized into a (pirate) series on Team Teaching.

Chuck Burgess (aka CB Photography) is another talented photographer. I was lucky to find his photo shown on the right… I wanted something really colourful, really graphic, really punchy for my What Trainers can Learn from an Art Show post.

I strive to find images that are very graphic,  very pleasing and very compelling. I consider the graphic component of the images is  be part of the a ‘brand’ that I have developed for this blog.

What do YOU THINK?

We’ve heard from the statisticians and you have my view. What do you think? What was your favourite blog post, category or picture?

“All the Best” to you and yours for the upcoming year.

Thanks for stopping by,

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Car Mirror Image: Flickr Creative Commons Image by WTL Photos

Inspiration for blogging comes from everywhere. Today a yellow car inspired me to reinvent a number of blog posts regarding social media.

And I don’t even know what that yellow car looked like!

The car was part of a conversation. And the conversation, like a car, weaved in and out of ‘blogging’.

I have a series of questions that I ask people when they tell me they are blogging. Now, I didn’t ‘shoot off’ these questions like a Gatling Gun; rather, these questions were weaved into the conversation.

“Why are you blogging?”

There are lots of answers to this question: to build an online presence, to practice writing, to share expertise, to build a brand or (ultimately) to sell some products or services; however, some people can’t answer this question.

Blogging is a commitment: a HUGE commitment of time and effort. If you are going to blog, you need to think through what your goals are. After all, your goals may be more accomplishable on another social media platform.

“Who is your audience?”

I believe everything should start with your audience: if you are a teacher, a writer, a reporter, a sales person AND especially if you are a blogger.

I’ve written an article about why you should be audience centered (although it is aimed at people new to teaching, the lessons are applicable to blogging).

“When are you blogging/How often are you blogging?”

Many serious bloggers create a calendar of posts and schedule topics. I try to do that and create articles on a consistent basis but sometimes I have writer’s block: serious writer’s block.

I’ve found that some of my best articles have been inspired by ordinary life. One article, “Learning Teaching ‘Techniques’ from Domestic Appliances: What You can Learn from your Washing Machine”, was one that was inspired by the humorous use of my washing machine by one of my boys. It was so easy to write… I outlined the situation and then related all the lessons learned back to the teaching/training ‘world’ as that is the primary focus of my blog. (Incidentally, my boys are on another one of these camping trips, so I may have more antidotes or ammunition in a few days.)

ADVICE FOR THOSE NEW TO BLOGGING

If you are blogging, you need to post compelling material on a consistent basis. In order to help you do that,  I’ve assembled some advice and some pointers to some resources in my ‘New to Social Media?’ page.

SHARING

Today, my conversation with a new colleague in a networking venue started on a more personal basis. We discussed our hobbies, vacations, families and yes, our vehicles.  His was: bright yellow! His personality, like his vehicle, was outgoing and noticeable. So, it didn’t surprise me at all that he was very curious about the ‘ins and outs’ of blogging…

How could I not share my knowledge? The material was there: I only had to re-invent it (by organizing it).

Let me know if  my experiences with social media and blogging have given you a ‘jump start’ . Please comment below.

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by ffrade

BreakfastMy mother always says that we eat with our eyes. That meat loaf and mashed potatoes may be plain, but if you dress it up by serving it carefully on china on a beautifully set table, then it tastes better.  OR if you serve it up breakfast in a new and creative way, it is more fun to eat and it ends up tasting better. (Ask a mother, you can get kids to eat lots of things this way.)

But what does that have to do with blogging?

It has EVERYTHING to do with blogging. You need that visual appeal, that CURB Appeal. You want your readers to come in, take a look and stay awhile (and you want them to come back for a second look).

So how do you decide what is visually appealing and will entice your readers to stay? My experience is you need to consider functionality/navigation, visual appeal and taking some lessons learned from Fung Shui: remove the clutter.

TIME FOR A NEW LOOK & FEEL

So, when I refocused my blog to be more audience centered. I thought it was time for a change, a new look.

I loved my old look, based on ChaoticSoul WordPress “theme”, because of the strong graphics, but it fell short on ease of navigation.

For my new look, I wanted to keep a strong graphic image; however, my pages and topics (categories) needed to be prominent and easy to find. I switched to the Motion “theme” (template) provided by WordPress that has my pages and categories in tabs along the top, with drop down menus for any sub-categories.

There, I solved the navigation problem…

But, the drop downs were cluttered because I had so many categorizes for my blog posts.

SPRING CLEANING: REORGANIZE & REMOVE THE CLUTTER

I examined how old posts were categorized. (I think I had 7 or 8 and I hadn’t even gotten started!) I deleted extraneous categories to focus on the topics my blog was going to deliver: Social Media and Training. (I kept an Off Topic category to package any postings that are not on my blog’s main objective.)

This streamlined navigation.  Drop down sub-categories now further guide navigation.

Poof!  Now the menu clutter is gone.

IN THE END, THE RESULT WAS WORTH THE JOURNEY

I think the result is a very graphic page which is much easier to navigate than the last theme I used for my blog.

WOULD I TAKE THE SAME ROUTE? NOT A CHANCE!

Some advice if you want to do this: don’t get sucked into the graphics “black hole” of playing with endless themes and options to see what they look like. (Although this can be lots of fun, it wastes TONS of time.) Instead, really think about what you need. If you want to list your pages and categories at the top of your blog, there really aren’t a lot of options with WordPress themes. So, filter your search accordingly and resist the temptation to play. But when you do play, play smart: you’ll save hours of effort.

Another “theme”  route that was suggested to me was to use a free theme from WooThemes (WooThemes support web publishers like WordPress.)  I downloaded a WordPress theme I liked. But here is the catch: if you are using WordPress to host your blog, then you must you themes from WordPress. (I guess that sounds reasonable.) It appears as though you can’t use themes from other provides that support (& build on) WordPress themes. (Or at least that is the way I understand it.) So, there is one reason to get an independent webhost.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

I’m not an expert blogger, I am only just starting. But here are the principles that I am going to apply to managing my blog’s “look & feel”:

  1. Stay focused on what your audience needs (like easy navigation),
  2. Freshen up from time to time: refreshing content, layout and the overall look,
  3. Don’t get sidetracked down a road that isn’t going anywhere (i.e. avoid the black hole)

Until next time, stay fresh &  focused!

No, I haven’t disappeared.I was taking some online courses. The courses (and some lessons learned) that I’ll tell you about today relate to content marketing. Had I known these lessons, I would have saved myself a lot of time. I’ll also point you to a few remarkable resources, if you are so inclined to learn more.

BLOGGING BASICS

It is all about content. We are all creating it.

Why? To get our story told or to sell an idea or a product.

So, we really are MARKETING our content, whether we are sales people or not.

THE ESSENCE OF CONTENT MARKETING

Here are a few quotes from the content marketing course I took from Copyblogger:

“Content drives the Internet, and consumers are looking for information that solves a problem, not immediate sales pitches.”

“Content Marketing is a broad term that relates to creating and freely sharing informative content as a means of converting prospects into customers and customers into repeat buyers ….”

RULES OF ATTRACTION

Let’s say this different way: you are trying to create a relationship, build trust and create a loyal “fan club” (repeat subscribers or buyers). In order to do that, Copyblogger’s advice is:

  1. Your content needs to solve a problem & be entertaining , AND
  2. You need to never take yourself seriously: so be yourself and write like you were having a conversation.

So, really it can be YOUR content with YOUR personality showing through, but it really has to be centered on YOUR AUDIENCE: give THEM value and the odd laugh. If you keep giving them value they will be your loyal fan (or customer) base.

ASK YOURSELF: What Content Am I Marketing?

In the beginning I created a lot of content with no real purpose in mind (only to learn a bit more about blogging). But now it is time to get more focused.

I took the advice from Copyblogger’s “How to Build a Better Blog” article was, everyone needs to use a strong About Me, page.

My rewritten About Me page now answers the questions:

  • Why would someone want to read my blog? (i.e. do I have any expertise?)
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What value can I bring? (i.e. what problems am I trying to solve?)
  • Why it is important to them?

I think my reworked page does a better job at addressing what you, my audience, would want to know before you subscribe to my blog; however, what do you think:

  • Do you have any suggestions on how my About Me page could be stronger at selling the value of subscribing to my blog?
  • If you are my target demographic, what problems are you facing?
  • What questions would you like answered?

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It’s All About YOUR AUDIENCE!

To recap,  you should:

    1. Ensure your ‘About Me’ page compels the reader to stay by clearly stating WHAT your subject is and WHO you are writing for.
    2. Create compelling content that has value (and is entertaining)… and ‘lighten’ up: don’t be too serious!

      Remember, it is really ALL ABOUT THE AUDIENCE, not about you.

      Thanks for reading. I suggest you check out the resources listed below.

      REALLY REMARKABLE RESOURCES

      Copyblogger has some great free self-study courses and articles that I have talked about:

      Another really great Content Marketing class is available from Sonia Simone from Remarkable Communication. She is a marketer for people who hate marketing. Sign up for her free Content Marketing course. It will be delivered to you via an auto-responder (which sends you email installments every few days). It’s truly remarkable… No pun intended.

      (This is a perfect example of curation. I found an awesome video and I’m giving you my ‘review’. )

      I love to deconstruct a concept to simplify it.  It is amazing how a simpler view will be so much easier to understand. And that is something the folks at Common Craft are masters at.

      I found an interesting Common Craft video:  “Social Media in Plain English”. They brilliantly use analogy to illustrate some of the more common “features” and benefits of Social Media while they reinforce some of the aspects of Social Media.

      They point out that as Social Media is affordable ANYONE can participate: large business, small business or individuals with ideas on any subject. Then the CONTENT can develop it’s own following.

      What I love the most about this video is how they describe the notion of “feedback”. They use the analogy of feedback boards to illustrate how content/products can be described (i.e. tagged), rated, and how you can leave comments/messages for others.

      They go on to explain this ‘new way to work’, (i.e. collaboration), with customers transforms customers into advocates and advisors (quality control, business development…).

      In addition, the indexability of the content, (with tags), gives you the ability to help find the new, the popular or the content that is of interest to you (and many Social Media tools have features to assist these “searches”. )

      What do you think: does having a simpler view of Social Media help you understand it?

      I promised to share my Social Media strategy with you. Firstly, you need to understand that with Social Media, it is not a campaign, it is a commitment. You can’t just start with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, your Blog… and think that this is a marketing campaign with a set start and finish date. It doesn’t work like that!  You will need a strategy to build your image/brand and keep it fresh, current and in everyone’s mind.

      However, if we step back a step, you may be wondering why am I trying to leverage Social Media? My intent is harness Social Media to establish an online presence with a secondary objective to learn about Social Media and to understand what the impact could/would be on a business.

      For each type of Social Media that I’m leveraging I am considering the different Social Media aspects:  listen, create & collaborate. I am also trying to develop my personal “brand” (name, image, etc).

      Here’s a high level view on the technologies I’ve selected and how I have started:

      My strategy for LinkedIn is to listen to weekly updates from colleagues & groups, create status updates to keep in touch (and in people’s minds) & start to collaborate by contributing to group discussions.  My key objective is to professionally network and to establish myself in professional communities (i.e. groups).

      My Facebook strategy includes establishing a page for my business and setting up an automatic feed from my blog (so I only have to update my blog in one spot). In addition, I plan on listening to others and businesses to see how they leverage the “news” and other Facebook features.  I am going to limit my creation of content on my personal wall, as my focus is figuring how to leverage Facebook for a business.

      I’ve set up my Blog to be my “home base”. I’ll post content to share and will attempt to get into “collaboration” by asking others to comment, vote, etc. I am considering adding internet marketing tactics/techniques such as affiliate marketing, etc. However, to be very honest with you, I am concerned about keeping a very graphically appealing image/brand.

      That’s a high level summary of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. From time to time I’ll report on what I’ve learned under the banner of my Social Media “Experience”.  I hope you enjoy my journey!