Category: Social Media Experience


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

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.

      I know I haven’t outlined my Social Media strategy for you, but I’m anxious to share a few experiences and my first impressions.

      Firstly, my initial thoughts about learning about Social Media, “Wow, it is so easy to get distracted!” There are so many pictures I want to share, there are so many things I want to write about, but I want to check out what my friends and colleagues are doing, posting and talking about.

      LinkedIn was my first entry into using Social Media. I find it is easier to remain focused on LinkedIn, as it is everyone’s professional space; it is where you share your professional image. LinkedIn is very straightforward to use. Sharing your resume, education and other business related information is only part of what LinkedIn can do for you. It is also easy to “link” to friends and business colleagues. The more difficult part of LinkedIn is having the discipline to continue to build your professional network while keeping your professional image fresh (by updating your status, building your recommendations and becoming active in professional communities/groups).

      After I set myself up on LinkedIn, I started watching others Blog. It took awhile to set up my initial blog as I was concerned that it was graphically appealing. (I compare this to food, as I believe food should be visually appealing… i.e. you eat with your eyes.) I also wanted to customize the base template with some graphics or pictures that were my own. I decided that a picture that my husband took in Newfoundland captured the feeling of a “new beginning”.  My initial blog entries were experiments and just text.  I felt that my entries weren’t visually appealing enough. So, when the Vancouver 2010 Olympics started I decided to share some Olympic thoughts and experiment with adding pictures, links and YouTube videos.

      Finally, it was time to FACE Facebook. My initial Facebook experience was just listening, watching and exploring. (I still don’t understand the Farmville “thing”.)  I wanted to see what pictures were posted and what comments were passed. Inspired by the Olympics, I edited and uploaded a number of ‘best of’ pictures of the Torch Relay.  I couldn’t download the application to easily upload the pictures, but using the basic capability I was able to upload 5 pictures at a time. I spent a lot of time organizing the uploading the pictures in a sequence that made sense. (Later I discovered that Facebook is user friendly enough to allow you to reorganize the pictures.) In addition, I did set up an additional page in Facebook for my business: Cauley & Associates.  When I set up that page, I was concerned about a professional image and designed a logo. I asked my Facebook friends to become fans of this new page. (I’ll elaborate on fan pages in the future.)

      My final thought is the same as my initial thought: “Wow, it is so easy to get distracted!”  My advice to everyone is: make sure you are disciplined and committed.

      Until next time…

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      Flickr Creative Commons Image by Romeo66