Do You Blog Like Charlie Brown?

I recently wrote a post about what to do when you get writer’s block. Through the comments on the post itself and over Twitter, I’ve seen lot’s of ways people deal with the same situation. That got me to thinking of one of my favorite songs from my childhood. “Book Report” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. If you have not seen it, click here.  The song explores how four of the main characters attack the same homework assignment in very different ways.

Charlie Brown – Charlie Brown knows he needs to get his homework done, but he keeps putting it off. He is a classic procrastinator. I know I have a touch of classic Charlie Brown in my blogging style, I always think that I work better under pressure, this is not the case.

If you are a classic procrastinator, try and find ways to help yourself get out of the rut. Schedule a little time every day to get some writing done and just keep chugging along when you can. (I started this post yesterday when I had some downtime, and I’ll probably finish it tomorrow.)

Lucy VanPelt  – (One of my life’s personal heroes by the way) wants nothing to do with writing her book report. She counts every word to hit the bare minimum and most of her words were very, very, very ,very ,very – unhelpful.

What Lucy could do, is find a way to express herself in a format she enjoys. If you are a classic “Lucy” and do not enjoy blogging or writing but still want to get your message out, look for a different way to do it. A visual person might want to start making infographics. Are you a talker? Express yourself with video blogging.

Linus VanPelt -  Linus is a very conscientious researcher but he lets his research take over and go off into tangents and analogies that don’t quite make sense.

Don’t let your research take over your theme. If you start out with a topic that gets lost once you start putting words to paper (as it were) maybe the initial topic is not what you want to write about. Keep going into the direction of the research and make changes and tweaks accordingly.

Schroeder - Schroeder takes the subject and tries to find a way to explain it in a way that he finds the most entertaining. Using an analogy is a great way to explain things to people in a way that helps them understand new ideas in a familiar way.

I am a classic Schroeder, some of my most popular posts have used this method to compare social media and blogging to pop culture. Shoot – that is the basis of this post itself!

While I am sure there are 100 different variations of each listed above, every author is different. The point of this post is to get you to try to find your writing style. Once you find it, learn the best way to work with your type to best accentuate your posts.

Where do you fall into this scale? What is your Peanuts writing style?

Put A Kink in the Hose With 3rd Party Apps

I’ve recently started to do a clean up of the people I follow on Twitter.

I have been getting rid of the “Fire Hose-ers” – the people that Fire Hose are the ones who will post a whole days worth of Tweets all at once. These are the people who you know the moment they get on Twitter and the moment they get off. Your stream will be barraged with Tweets from them and if you notice, they are all just outgoing posts – not conversation.

Now, I know not everyone is able to spend all day long on Twitter, or any other social media platform for that matter, but there are ways to prevent this invasion of the streams.

These apps will help you to spread out the content you want to post throughout the day. By scheduling (NOT automating) your posts, it will help both you and your community. By spreading your content out, it will not annoy your followers by having a stream full of you, and all of your blitz tweets. This also helps you out by reaching more people at different times of day.

Many of the above listed 3rd party apps will examine your Twitter followers and schedule posts when they will have the most impact. These apps can also help with follower analysis and other analytics as well, like the amount of clicks your tweets receive.

One thing to remember when you are scheduling your posts, is that you can not schedule and walk away. People will be replying, sharing and commenting on those posts. You must be around to reply to them! Check back to your notification stream regularly or set up email notifications to let you know when people are engaging with you. Keep the conversation alive and going!

What’s your advice when it comes to scheduling posts? Please leave a comment below.

The Brain Drain – How to Blog When You Can’t

I had two blogs due today but only one idea. That’s kind of a problem (my serious case of procrastination did not help the situation). So what do I do?

brain drain for blogI write a blog about how I can’t write a blog.

I have come about this problem before, my writing style is very much “attack when inspired”. I’ve been known to sit down and plug out 6 or 8 posts at a time. The problem with that is when I hit a dry spell. For this post, I’ve put together my tricks to get my flow back:

Write about it – It may sound odd, but sometimes writing about your block is all you need to get started. Just getting words down can get the flow going you need to be inspired. A great place to do that is on a site called 750Words.  It is a site dedicated as a writing exercise. They want you to “get into your brain” and write.

I also take the “just write” idea and record ideas as they come. I will often jot down title ideas or random subject thoughts to write at a later time.

Get Evernote – Get Evernote. Seriously. Get it now. I’ll wait. I find using Evernote is vital to how I write. I have the app on my phone and on my iPad as well as use Evernote.com when I am at the computer. The reason why this is awesome? It’s everywhere. No matter where I am I can start or edit a post and it will sync across everything. I tend to get my ideas when I’m not ready to write anything. I’ve started blogs on the train, at restaurants, at the grocery store, and can go back and work on them later.

Think about you – Think about what gets your juices flowing. For me, it’s taking things that make me happy and seeing how I can turn them into an allegory for social media or blogging. My favorite post I have ever written was about Star Wars.

Some people might find inspiration from music, pop culture or nature while some might find they want to switch to a visual post when stumped and do a vlog or an infographic. Every person is different and has their own way of charging up the creative juices. Sometimes, even if you have nothing to write you find a way to write on.

What do you do when you are stuck in a writing rut? Please leave a comment below!

We Need To Talk About Our Relationship

Engagement is a big buzzword in social media right now. It is a very important part of using social media. Many people, myself included, have written about engagement. This post is not about engagement. This post is about relationships.

The Step Beyond Engagement

The question is, how do you go about forming those relationships? Relationship building is not just strategy alone, it is a combination of strategy along with engagement, time, effort, personality and serendipity. Building relationships online is just like how you build relationships in the offline space. Let’s start with the, admittedly cliché reference …but it works

social media relationship cocktail partyThe Cocktail Party

You do not expect to walk into a cocktail party and expect to come out with a new “bestie”, but walking in is the first step to becoming introduced to new people. Think of social media as a giant party organized into rooms. You can choose to go into the Twitter room, Facebook room, Google+ room, and so on. Each “room” can be divided into smaller groups to focus on a different interest.

Find Your Group

Get to know people in your chosen room who have similar interests to you and what you do, and start by connecting with them. Once you start building these communities, to get to know people by using that good old Magic E word, engagement. Get involved in Twitter chats, Facebook groups and even offline events with people from your social media “room”.  The more you connect with this group of people and grow and evolve you’ll find natural relationships growing with a few people. The conversations get more comfortable and go beyond the normal social media small talk.

It’s Who You Know

A great way to grow communities and nurture your relationships is to introduce people, but not just a bulk mention or tag. A Follow Friday mention on Twitter is not relationship building. It is however, a way to introduce people to others. But tell people why. Bring people into a conversation you are having that you think they would be a great contribution to. Invite a new social media acquaintance to  an offline event you think they would enjoy. Introduce two people you think should meet, in whatever channel you choose.

Make New Friends

Some of the people I am closest to across the social channels are people who have been introduced to me by another person I have a great relationship with online. We get to know each others’ personalities, likes and quirks when we form those relationships.  When you are at that social party, find those two friends that both share an interest in a charitable cause,  or Dr Who, or funny hashtags – whatever that thing is that you can identify will bring them together.

Help Me, Help You

These relationships that form across social media, as with offline relationships, will form a natural want and need to help one another. I have friends who I send job posts to, friends who I always share what they post, and people whose charities and personal endeavors I help support, not because I expect them to do the same for me (however that does happen) I do those things because it helps out my friends.

These people in your inner circle become your advocates and allies, and you never know where that will take you.

How do you grow relationships across social channels? What else would you add to my list? Please leave a comment below!

Scoring with Social Media for Customer Service

Social media is not just a part of the marketing or PR department; it is also an extension of your customer service team. People are already out in the social space talking about you , sometimes asking questions, sometimes saying good things and sometimes, saying bad things. You need to be aware of what is going on and use it to the best advantage for both you and your customers.

Social Media like FootballThink of being part of the social space like a football game, you need to work both your offence and defense to score big.

Offence:

While Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross said “A.B.C.: Always Be Closing”, I like to think about it more in the terms of A.B.P.: Always Be Proactive.

Start with your blog:
You can use it to take things like your FAQ’s into more detail. If you get a number of calls asking about how to do something, post a how-to with specific details.

Make announcements:
When something goes wrong, let people know about it. Take advantage of your voice and let people know you are working on the problem and keep them updated on the process. Hootsuite is a great example of this. If they are having problems or need to do site maintenance, they will announce it on their Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Be useful:
Find ways to use social media to help your customers before they have to ask for it. Answer the questions people ask you directly and respond to their questions and complaints. Be sure you make the effort to help them when they reach out to you on social. Don’t give them a telephone number or send them to your website.

Defense:

Listen:
If there is one word that I will use more than any other when I talk about customer service in social media is, listen. Let me say that again… Listen… Listen. Listen. Listen. Got it? There are many ways to find out what people are saying about your business.

Google Alerts:
Setting up the alerts is as easy as popping in your business name (or whatever keywords you want to be alerted on) in the form and you will receive notification in your inbox when people are talking about you

Twitter:
Twitter allows you to keep tabs on yourself in a few different ways. The fist is the most obvious, the @mention. When someone uses your Twitter username (including the @ symbol) you will get a notification in your “Connect” feed. This means someone is addressing you directly and is expecting a response. I ran an informal survey on my Facebook page a while ago asking what people thought of response times. What I got from that is, most people expect a response from a brand they contacted on Facebook or Twitter within an hour.

Another way to listen to Twitter is to search your hashtag. Run a search for #YourBusinessName to see what people are saying. You can also search for your business name with out the # or @ symbols.

Listening sites:
There are some great sites out there that will scan the social universe including blogs, Facebook and Twitter, they are the final step to the listening touchdown.

Some of my favorite monitoring sites are:

Finding these direct and not-so-direct mentions of your business name give you a chance to dazzle. People often take to social to just let things out and don’t necessarily expect a response of any kind. You can get in there and tackle those problems before they get escalated.

Every day I see people telling tales of both great and poor service in the social channels and the good news often travels just as fast as the bad. (I for one will always share the stories of great customer service, both mine and what other people have received.)

So please, feel free to share your stories of GREAT customer service that you received on social media. TOUCHDOWN!

Do you use social media for customer service at your company? Have you dealt with customer service from another company through social media before? Please leave your comments below!

The Three E’s of Social Media Management

Every social media and community manager sets a certain set of rules and guidelines for how they want to run their community. I have a set of super simple standards (say that three fast!). I never sat down and wrote them out before, but I noticed whenever I would speak about social media management or would discuss social for business, these three words always came out as highlighted points. Entertaining, Engaging and Educational. All of my blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts follow at least one (if not more) thank these three principles:

Be Witty, Be Entertaining in Social Media ManagementEntertaining – Entertaining often equals memorable. You need to find a way to keep people entertained. In the fast pased world of Twitter, a great way to catch people’s attention is to be witty. With such a small character limit, a bot mot or catchy post title floating in a sea of links will be the post most remembered. Use humor when you can. Long or short, make sure there is something fun about your posts.

Engaging – The word “Social” in social media says it all. Don’t look at your social media channels as a billboard to advertise your product or service, it is a place for discussion and sharing. Join a Twitter chat or Facebook group to get to know people in the community you want to be a part of. Forming these relationships with others will be beneficial to everyone.

Educational – When you have knowledge in a niche or have a new way to do something, social is a great place to share. Start a blog about a subject you are skilled in or post tips across your social channels. Sharing this information with others is a great way to position yourself as the go to person for information on that topic.

Another guideline I follow is, no matter what the post is, it needs to keep in line with the standards I have created both with my personal brand as well as my employer’s.

What are your guidelines for social media management? Please share in the comments bellow!