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3 steps to supercharge your online voice

September 14, 2010 1 comment

There’s a saying that goes: ” You don’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets”.

scream by Jason Prini

I think the same holds true for building influence in the digital world and making your voice resonate. Yesterday I watched Rafael Nadal reach his first grand slam at the tender age of 24. As I was sitting there in awe at the surgical precision with which he operated on Djokovic, I realized that this guy didn’t get there by sitting on his couch watching the many greats before him play. He studied them carefully and applied his learnings to his game. His prowess did not come from a single practice with uncle Toni, it came from persistence, determination, and confidence. But beyond that, his success didn’t happen overnight.

I’ve fallen prey to the notion that people around me compliment my writing and have always told me that this is what I should be doing. Well folks let me tell you something I’ve learned from the past month or so: there’s no paper, publisher, or media company knocking at my door asking that I join their ranks. On the contrary, I am sitting in dead silence. I even ring the door bell myself to see if it works properly. The problem is not that my writing sucks (or at least I’d like to think it doesn’t), the problem is that I approached this blogging thing the wrong way. There are an endless number of reasons that explain why my digital voice is not attracting loads of people to my blog but as I continue to examine the latter, here are three ways to remedy the problem that I’d like to share with you:

1) No good comes to those who wait

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been told that good things come to those who wait. Think again my friends, none of that is true. Especially in the digital galaxy. If you wait around for readers to come to your site, blog, fan page etc… you might wait a hot minute like my friend would say. The endless number of sites, blogs and fan pages available on the internet suggests you can’t wait around for your tribe to form around you. You have to go out and find your audience and let them know that you have this neat piece of  digital land that they can come to so that you can build a community. In my case, I’ve given commenting on other people’s spaces little to no effort. When you get into this blogging game, you have to go out and deliver valuable opinions on other blogs or you’ll be admiring your posts solo for a very long time. What I should do is check out a promising site or two and hang around there to see if I can be useful, helpful, and relevant.

2) Stop thinking Chris Brogan, think Camille Desrosiers

While Chris’s blogs consistently deliver food for thoughts, you have to think who the next A-lister is going to be. Follow the old timers, those that have been in the game for a while and can deliver useful content with their eyes closed on a daily basis but don’t overlook the up and coming digital stars. Those are the ones you want to be around when Seth, Mitch, Gary, Brian, etc… decide its time to bring in some fresh blood. Camille is part of that group of up and comers that will take social media to the next level. You can check out her blog and work here (in French).

3) Practice “I listen to you but I don’t hear you”

My mother often asks me if I’m listening to her or just hearing her. The difference between the two is this: while she rants about how I should be doing this and not that, I hear it but I listen to the voices in my head telling me the complete opposite. Whether it be online or offline, try listening to what people are saying. Listening means you’ll have more than the silly “huh huh” as a response. You’ll actually start having conversations that will lead to ideas for blog posts, that will challenge your intellectual stance and will challenge that of others as well, mapping out new directions and helping you build connections.

I could go on for days with other tips that would avoid smothering my digital voice such as lack of consistency in my posts, lack of clarity in my CTA, or the fact that my voice isn’t particularly compelling but I’d like for you to take the stage and share some of the tactics behind reaching success in the digital arena? Have your say in the comments section below and let’s build a case study around the topic.

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Categories: Social media

4 suggestions to engage women through social media

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The notion that women make up the majority of social media users is no novelty. They’ve rightfully taken their seats at the social media table and are determined to make their presence felt. Yet, some brands catering to women, find it difficult to engage the latter and enhance the relationships through social media tools.

For brands looking to engage women through social media, here are 4 recommendations you should consider:

1) Get with the program

Haven’t you received the memo? the focus groups, opinion polls, and surveys are so 2008! You want to build detailed customer profiles? social media’s got your back. It allows for a deep understanding of women lifestyles, their wants, and their needs. And all you have to do is sign up and plug your speakers and listen.

2)Caress their backs they’ll massage yours

Serve their interests effectively and you’ll experience unparalleled success. Women are bombarded with messages all day. don’t let your message be the one that supports “two Aleve takes the pain away”. Instead whisper in their ears. Connect with them on an emotional level. They should see themselves in your message.

3)Thick is the new Thin

Women want to be heard and they’ll tell you what they think about you. So develop think skin. Learn to face the brutal facts. When they tell you you’re not doing a good job, address their complaints and let them know that you’re working on fixing it. If the compliment you, follow your mother’s advice, thank them. Being mindful will shed light on weaknesses, and will bring about opportunities you haven’t identified, leading to business enlightenment. that’s worth more that any dollar amount spent on focus groups.

4) Tag team

If you’ve ever watched a wrestling match you know what I’m referring to. Partner up, include your target in your life. Open the doors to your plant if you have a product. If you want to give back to the community or embrace a cause, ask them which one they think is worthy. Have a poll on your facebook page. Inspiring your target making them feel they’re part of something will turn them into evangelists. they’ll bear the torch because they perceive you as someone doing good things.

In today’s competitive marketplace, you have to shape your brand around your community. Watching your competitors beat you to the social media games will only result in large sums invested in catch-up advertising. The time to act is now. We’re no longer experiencing let’s play it safe markets, it’s all about who will take the leap of faith and let their wings spread. If redbull gives you wings social media gives you a rocket and it sure ain’t science!

What other recommendations would you add? Have your say in the comment box.

THIS IS A MAN’S WORLD

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Is social media a man’s world? I certainly don’t believe it to be. Social media comes naturally to women. It taps into their ability to network, nurture, and build communities. In short, they own the space.

There are plenty of figures that support women’s ownership: 63% of Facebook users are female, 57% of twitter users develop estrogen and same figures are attributed to Yelp’s user base.However, today, I came to the sad realization that the ratio of female to male social media gurus that I follow on the  networks I am active on, is nothing to be proud of. So how did I manage to end up with such a gender gap? I have two reasons for my shortcoming.

1) I can’t remember  any of my coworkers (male and female), friends, or acquaintance, suggest that I read, subscribe to an RSS or even mention a female speaker at a conference I should attend.

2) The last conference notification I receive only features men. Although I look forward to hearing Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, and Andy Nulman discuss the art of marketing, I can’t understand why no female presenter is mentioned.

The only conclusion I can draw is that women are too busy staying with their families and thus leave the traveling to men. But we all know that this conclusion makes no sense. I know plenty of women in other industries that travel. Aren’t  dad familiar with changing diapers and applying polysporin?

Are we not generating enough buzz around women social media gurus? In the tech industry, some argue that men are not to blame for this. While I’m not particularly interested in pointing the finger at anyone, I sure would like to know why this is the case.

why do I care? In today’s recessionary climate, including women in the development of strategies will benefit the economy. I’m not only focusing on social media, I speak of all industries and organizations. Research shows that women in executive positions have more impact on job creation and economic growth than their male counterparts.

How’s that for a recovery!

Don’t become part of the noise. Do not outsource social media conversations!

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

When asked why they outsource social media, business owners cite lack of time and lack of knowledge as the main reasons. Companies should not delegate all their social media efforts to an agency or a consultants (I’m going to piss a few people off with this one).

Photo credits: met2art's

Social media tools let businesses engage with customers on a wider scale and faster than previously possible. Companies that decide to completely outsource social media are asking vendors to handle their relationships with customers. The primary role of social media vendors is to get the company to a point where they only need his/her assistance for the mechanics. Given that technology moves at the speed of light and no single person can stay informed of all the latest trends, the consultant is there to bring you up to speed on the latter.

Let your agency handle the production aspect of your social presence. Let them design your Facebook page, let them present you with a background for your Twitter account, let them handle updates and the analytics but don’t let them handle your engagement or conversations. The owner and the employees are the best persons to speak on behalf of the brand. They live and breath the brand on a daily basis. They know its voice, its culture, its history.

Agencies regardless of their level of involvement with the brand are not the decision makers. Having had the chance to be in an agency myself, I know that all executions has to be approved by the client. So by the time you get approval and execute, the buzz might have waned.

Finally, outsourcing your social media efforts mean you give up control of your brand’s personality to a vendor. If the relationship goes south and you take back control of your social media presence, you might be surprised to see that some of your followers don’t fit the target profile.

Agencies are the eHarmony of your social media. They ask the questions that let you find the best potential relationships but the decision to engage in a long lasting affair is ultimately yours.

Aside from time and lack of knowledge what other reasons do you see for outsourcing your social media? Have your say in the comments section.

Twitter “paid” the NFL

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Forget your elevator pitch! Can you sell yourself using 140 characters? Every organization can reach super stardom with Twitter, period, full stop. Just look at professional sport leagues. These guys are making a killing with the social network and integrating it effectively in their communications mix, although sometimes not deliberately. If you look at the NFL, NBA, MLB and any other sport association’s income statement Twitter appears in the sales revenue section and rest assured that no sale has occurred.

The number one reason  the NBA and its counterparts has not outright banned players for ranting on the microblogging service results from all the money to be made each time an athlete decides to catch feelings and broadcast to his followers. Can someone tell me how much any of these sports association made in the last year from fines issued to players for tweeting during games, complaining about the officiating, calling out their teammates or coaches? I’d like to see that figure.

The latest incident involves Chad Ochocinco, wide-receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. The NFL  fined him 25K for using an electronic device during a preseason game and posting to his twitter page: “Man Im sick of getting hit like that, its the damn preseason shit! 1day I’m gone jump up and start throwing hay makers, #Tylenolplease.” for his followers’ reading pleasure.

Although I am curious to know where he got the device (Are there hidden pockets in those tights?), it’s clear that all publicity is good publicity. That 25k will be split between the league and the players’ union and benefit some charities of their choice. If that’s not effective PR I don’t know what it is. Secondly, Sir Ochocinco is what we can call a social media superstar. And as such, enables football fans to connect to a human representative of the Bengals creating brand awareness and further engagement opportunities.

Do you see added benefits from having social media celebrities in an organization? Share them in the comment box below.

Facebook Places: How’s your customer service?

August 24, 2010 1 comment

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware by now, that last week Facebook made its anticipated debut into the location-based arena with Facebook Places. while much talk is devoted to the benefits Places brings to businesses, a post by the dudes and dudettes at Inside Facebook titled Facebook Places: The Real-Time Web Without Search, made me think of the implications, negative word of mouth may have on your business. Here’s a little taster from that post:

Using the write API, data from across location services can be aggregated to a Places page. Unlike hashtags, which can easily differ from each other and thereby splinter the data, Facebook keeps everything tidy by suggesting the most popular instance of a Place if you try to create a similar one. While there’s no Twitter integration yet, someone could create a system that converts hashtags into Places API write calls. While Places check-ins are currently only visible to friends regardless of your setting, the fact that there is a privacy option to share check-ins with everyone means Places pages are equipped to become public repositories of real-time information.

Now before you press that “Is this your business?” button giving you admin access to your place, how confident are you about your  customer service level?

Case in point: if my friend Joe visits your location and tells me and 500 million others, that Meg at the reservation desk is rude and just told him that if he’s not happy to wait a few minutes to be seated, there’s a McDonalds down the street that will gladly take his order. Will you have the listening tools in place to take action right away? What’s your game plan? Will you walk to the front and fire Meg? Can you recover from that real-time uppercut in front of the world or will you let me count to 10 and go meet Steph that’s “Nearby”(Pun intended)?

Facebook Places just gave way to free word of mouth and advertising but before you go ahead and launch your Place, tell me how is your customer service?

Endless possibilities are coming with Places but did you see the ditch on the side of the road? Facebook just provided consumers with ammo that can reach far beyond their next door neighbor.

Do you see any other pitfalls that small businesses should think of?

LET THE MUSIC PLAY!

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

So today marks the end of the U.S military’s combat unit deployment in Iraq (don’t worry this is not a look back on the war). How social media helped shape the lives of young people in the country?

About a week ago I came across the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (NYOI), check them out on facebook. I was moved by the dedication of the young woman behind the orchestra and the subtle message of peace it offers.

Zuhal Sultan was 17 years old when she decided to follow her dream and bring together young musicians from different regions, and religious views, together to form the NYOI.

A pianist herself, she gained support for her initiative in the U.K and with the help of Scottish conductor Paul MacAlindin, they launched the first summer workshop in 2009.

With the war still very much a reality, applicants submitted their audition videos via Youtube. For security reasons, music classes were held with instructors in other countries using the Internet.

On August 8th 2010, the orchestra performed in Northern Iraq. The point I want to make is the following: Do you realized the power you have? We are surrounded by computers, high-speed Internet, smartphones capable of recording videos, laptop with built-in cameras etc… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Trust me you can miss a few episodes of Jersey Shore or worse catch it at a later if you have a DVR or TiVo.

So Put down the remote, think about your dream(s), but please get moving! In the words of Scarface “The World is Yours”

Do you have an inspiring story you’d like to share? Use the comment box and share your story. I can’t wait to see what some are doing with these great tools.