You are the Face of Social Media

Ok kids, time to lose the egg and the faceless profiles. The first word in social media is SOCIAL. How about we get a little personal here and start humanizing the digital experience? No matter the reason you engage in social media activity, either for personal or professional reasons you did so to meet new people, learn, share, network and build relationships.

No Face on Social Media

photo credit: Masked-Bob via photopin cc

Would you walk up to a prospect in person with your face covered up? What about wearing a logo mask over your head? That would be a bit awkward, don’t you think?

Technology is great, social media rocks. Mobile is cool and people are still people. While technology has changed the vehicles we use  the game is still the same, people want to do business with other people. Just because we use technology to help us run more efficiently, it doesn’t mean we should become completely impersonal.

It is well documented on this site the value of social media, from marketing to promotions, networking and referral traffic the list goes on and on. Social media does a lot. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. After all, this experience is all about YOU.  So go ahead and share a little about yourself.

Whether you are using social networks as an individual or as a brand, make it human. Humanize yourself and your brand by including a picture and a name. Make it clear with whom your audience is engaging with.

How do we go about doing this you ask? You can start by answering these questions about you and/or your brand?

1. Start with yourself.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What are your interests?
  • What makes you special, unique or different?
  • What is your role and relationship to your business?

2. Now for your business.

  • What business are you in?
  • How can you help?
  • Where do you operate?
  • Where can I find out more info? i.e. Include companies URL
  • Who are we engaging with (answer posts)?

Why is it important to attach a face to social media?

  1. Social Media is a great platform for networking but your goal should be to migrate the conversation and relationship into the “Real World”. In Real Life (IRL), we have names and faces that go along with our knowledge and personalities. Wouldn’t you rather have a conversation with a person’s name instead of a brand name or a logo?
  2. People want to follow and engage with real people. By not including a picture, you will affect the number of people who follow or connect with you. No one wants to follow an egg on twitter. Nor do they want to network or connect with a faceless profile on LinkedIn.
  3. Social is all about sharing and building relationships. When it comes to Social Media, you have to give in-order to receive. The easiest way to give is to share, start by sharing something about yourself. Like a picture, where you live, what you like or what interests you. The easiest part of social media should be sharing information about you. There is no right or wrong answer, no trick question. Just be personal and be yourself, you know… be social.

How do you feel about profiles that don’t include a picture? Do you think spam or being are missing the point? Please leave a comment below!

 

Why You Are Better Off Not Being Perfect Online

Nobody’s perfect, and no-one should be. Even so, people strive to show off an almost flawless existence, both off- and online. Today I’ll tell you a true story about something I learned that perhaps will change how you think about your social media presence.

Once upon a time, I went out with a guy I had gotten to know very well online. We had dinner and a good time at a nice restaurant. At the end of the night out he was very honest with me. He said: “Frankly, I find you more human since you had some wine. Your politeness felt a bit intimidating to me in the beginning of the evening.” 

photo credit: fotologic via photopin cc

Actually, I did not take offense. He didn’t mean to be rude and I knew that what he said was pretty true. In new or unfamiliar situations, I tend to put on the perfect face and act professionally nice. It’s my way of handling uncertainty. But it’s counterproductive: instead of showing my personality, I hide it. 

Obviously, the wine and the hours in the restaurant had taken my guard down. I was able to show the real me, and the real me was more likeable than my polite façade. 

Sometimes when I tell this story, people get upset over the guy being so honest with me. But I’m sincerely grateful that he was. I’m still acting professionally nice when I’m feeling insecure, but I try to remember that being the real me isn’t so bad after all. The life lesson I’ve learned is that people tend to think imperfect is more perfect than perfect. And this is true both off- and online.

Who Are You Online?

Building an internet presence is much about shaping your very own online persona. One thing I like about that is that you can control how you want to be seen and avoid the real worlds’ prejudices and preconceptions about you, based on looks, socio-economic status or origin.

What I don’t like about online presence is that so many people strive to shape their lives to seem completely flawless. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: Who hasn’t improved their life on Facebook? We tag ourselves in cool places (not when doing weekly shopping in the supermarket), upload only flattering pictures of ourselves (and perhaps less flattering ones of others) and craft our status updates so we seem successful, happy and popular (we don’t tell when we didn’t get the job we applied for, when we fight with our loved ones or when a friend doesn’t return a call).

Don’t Act Perfect If You Want to Be Heard

I have recently written a story on my blog about the un-me trend: a common quest for the perfect online existence where we can remove every unwanted part of our lives. But if you want to be heard online, if you want to stand out, I don’t believe in being perfect. 

To avoid a superficial appearance, I have three pieces of advice for you for successful interactions online, whether you aim for building a customer base, act as a thought leader or just establish a social network:

1. Find Your Own Voice

Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” That’s very true. No matter how much you admire other bloggers, business leaders or friends – you’re not them. You don’t think like them, talk like them or act like them. Perhaps you’re similar to them, but you’re still you. And to be credible online, you must show your unique personality: your story, your quirks and your thoughts. Everything that makes you the one you are.

No one is perfect, but being yourself will make you perfectly you. And people like that. You will notice they’ll listen to you more when you have found your own voice.

2. Don’t Claim to Be a Guru

There are many gurus out there, claiming to know exactly what to do in every single situation. But remember: one size doesn’t always fits all. Write about your own experiences and your own struggles. Tell people your story. They will love you for being a person with shortcomings like everyone else and respond to you as friends do.

If you claim to be a guru, you risk losing valuable, stimulating and spontaneous interactions. Few people dare to contact a guru without long and proper concerns. You don’t want that kind of stiff relations online, do you? And - who needs a guru anyway?

3. Act Like a Friend

People trust real people. The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey shows that 90 % of 25,000 consumers from all over the world trust peer opinions. If you want to persuade or influence people online, you must not only build relationships, you must act like a friend. And a friend is a real person, with all faults and imperfections of a human being. It’s someone who dares to show that he or she is just like everybody else. It’s a person who dares to be human.

What you want online is to be approached by potential customers or other people to collaborate or interact with, isn’t it? And if you use this advice, you will get there in no time. Think about what I learned: perfect is scary, but the real you is not. 

Choosing The Right Social Network For You

So, exactly how many social networks are there? Ok, I’ll admit there is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a social network. While new social networks pop-up daily, there still remains a handful of major players.

social networkLet’s review them:

Facebook still holds the title as The Big Kid On The Block with over 1 Billion users.

The texting inspired network, Twitter is over 140 Million user strong, communicating in 140 characters or less.

With over 166 Million users, LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional contacts while sharing career highlights and accomplishments.

While kids from an Ivy League school did not start Google+ it was started by the world’s largest search engine, Google.

Also owned by Google, YouTube serves as the second largest search engine it actual classifies itself as a social network with 490 Million users.

Pinterest is a highly visual network that uses virtual pin boards to share interests, projects and pictures with their 20 Million users.

The location-based social network Foursquare has 20 million users checking-in and sharing their activity with friends.

Instagram currently holds the title as media darling; the mobile-based picture-sharing network with over 80 Million registered users is a rising star especially among young adults.

Tumblr is a little bit of everything rolled into one, this combination of text, image, video and audio content heavy blogging network has more than 50 Million users.

How do you know which one is right for you?

I am often asked by clients which social network should they be on? As any good strategist should tell you, that depends on your goals. By the way, who said you should limit yourself to JUST one?

Below are questions you should ask yourself before choosing a social network.

  1. What is your desired goal?
  2. How comfortable are you with sharing?
  3. Do you blog or have interest in blogging?
  4. Does your employer use social media?
  5. Are you looking for new career opportunities?
  6. Do you have a product or service to promote?
  7. Do you have a specific niche or target audience you desire to communicate with?
  8. Is your interest personal or professional?
  9. Do you enjoy people and have an interest in learning and growing as a person?
  10. And, are you ready to have lots of fun?
Ready to move forward with finding the right social network for you?

Professionally, if you are a small business owner then check out this post that shares thoughts from Steamfeed authors on tips to getting started.

Some thoughts on how to narrow down the choices for personal use:

  1. If you are a recent graduate, looking for your first job, a new job or wanting to change careers, I highly recommend LinkedIn.
  2. If you want to reconnect with old friends, family or classmates then Facebook might be the social network for you.
  3. If you enjoy crafts, home projects, recipes and you prefer pictures to words then I’d say go with Pinterest.
  4. If you fancy yourself as an amateur photographer, enjoy playing with camera filters and your smartphone is never more than 3 feet from you, you are all about Instagram.
  5. Do you enjoy creating content and have an interest in blogging but you have not yet committed to a style, take Tumblr out for a spin.
  6. Do you work for Google, use Gmail or are you passionate about technology? Google+ may be right up your ally.
  7. Do you like sharing your movement around town, are into checking-in and recording your whereabouts? Give Foursquare a shot.
  8. If you are into making, watching or sharing videos then you need to check out Youtube.
  9. If you can communicate in 140 characters or less, like meeting people with similar interest and you have content to share then you my friend need to head over to Twitter.

As an advocate for social media, my first goal is to make clients comfortable with the medium. I want my clients to value the benefits social networks offer both individuals and businesses.  I can only encourage usage so much; at some point you either love it or leave it. Here’s to you finding the right network(s).

What is your favorite social network and why do you love it so? Please leave a comment below!

How Not To Be A Social Media Troll

That might seem obvious.

A “troll” in social media speak is someone who comments or posts things that have NO relevance to the topic at hand.

TrollSince this blog and group of authors are here to help establish a new social media culture, the message is simple: STOP TROLLING!

This came to a head with me last week during the last US Presidential push and Hurricane Sandy. I can’t tell you how many tweets, posts, and comments I saw that twisted the tragedy in the east coast political. Here is something tame I found on nbcnews.com last week.

Social Media Troll Comment

Ok, look, I’m all about someone’s opinion but why bring something political in when it wasn’t needed or part of the story? Let’s use some common sense.

How not to be a troll:

  • Comment on a story when you have something to add or you like what was posted.
  • It’s OK to stir the pot when it adds to the discussion or if you disagree with the opinion but you should still keep it within the topic.
  • Your mama told you – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.” True here as well, don’t attack someone personally because you disagree with them or because you don’t like them. Keep your keyboard quiet.
  • Don’t creep. That’s creepy.
  • Don’t bully. Especially if you have some influence online. There is room for lots of different ways to do things and your way isn’t THE ONLY way.
  • Don’t be foolish with the power of social media. You have the power to build up or tear down. Be responsible.

What other suggestions do you have to be responsible and not be a troll? Leave them in the comments below!

How To Avoid Price Wars With Your Competitors

Have you ever found yourself competing with the prices of your competitors? If you have, you know it sucks! Not only does it suck, but it also causes you to lose out on profits you should be making. If you are currently in this kind of situation, I want to show you the root of the problem and relieve your frustrations. The following video clip (which has lousy lighting) taken from a recent conference I spoke at, begins to explain something very important. One point is, the following statement:

“Brands that engage their consumers emotionally can command prices 20%-200% higher than competitors.” – Fast Company

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XNZ3992E_8&w=560&h=315]

 

A big mistake many business owners make is, they spend most of their time trying to be like everyone else in their industry, which results in having a cookie cutter type of brand. There ends up being nothing unique about the brand, it just looks like everyone else – which then leads to the consumer not being loyal to any brand, they simply base their buying decision on which product or service is more affordable. The good news is, while all of your competitors are battling in the price war, you don’t have to be! You can focus on the following 3 things…

price war

1. Be You.

When you humanize your brand, you are allowing YOU to shine through. Which ends up making your brand unique from everyone else. Something I say a lot is, “You will never stand out being like everyone else”. So, if you be YOU, chances are you will stand out. Now there is more to defining your brand, but if you look at some of famous brands out there, you will see they are unique in some way.

2. Focus On Creating Value.

Many of us need to come to the realization that our business really isn’t about us. We may like to think that it is, but it is really about something much bigger. Our business should be about our customers, about adding awesome value to them. I’m not saying there are not times to focus on your business, I am just saying our focus should be on our customers more. People really don’t care about the hours we spend designing our logo, they care about the experience they had with us, our products, and our services.

3. Bringing the “WOW” back.

When you combine being you and focusing on creating value, you are bringing the “Wow” factor to your audience. The “Wow” factor is something that makes them go “Wow”. This can be done in many ways, but always involves some kind of brand touch point. Yes, you can “Wow” them with your awesomeness in person, but it can also come from a “Thank You” or “Happy Birthday” card, it can come from going above and beyond what you told them you were going to do or in the time frame you were going to do it in. So take a look at the brand touch points in your business and see what you can improve to make your audience go “Wow!”.

So if you are ready to stop the price wars with competitors, it’s time to stand out and be the brand that people love.

Until next time, go “Wow” your audience!

Join the Revolution – Revitalize Your Twitter Bio

I let out a sigh of exasperation every time I see a Twitter bio that reads something like “Hire me to help manage/service your #Twitter acct and generate targeted #followers!” or “Hire me to skyrocket your online business and watch the #money roll in.” It’s painfully obvious that they hashtagged in skewed hope… hope that they would find someone searching for #money or #followers to pay them.

Words in a twitter bioI wonder, isn’t there more to you? 

A Twitter bio is like a storefront. It sets the stage for future interactions. If it’s intriguing more people are likely to go in your space. Do they have much else to go on? No!

It took me a number of rewrites to come to a happy place with mine.  I know you’re just using words but how you craft your words reflects who you are instead of telling. I want you to look at your bio and see how you can revitalize it.

Keep your audience in mind 

Don’t be challenging or overly clever – in other words, a smart ass, pardon me :-) (i.e. “impress me with your ___”). Recruiters, customers or prospects don’t want to deal with that. If  you have a business, be specific. The simple word “entrepreneur” or “consultant” on its own makes it tough to ignite a conversation let alone develop a relationship or community. Combining facts about you and your personality is a solid framework.

Avoid laundry lists

At least it should not account for your entire twitter bio. For example, “Father, husband, surfer, Thai food lover, jazz musician and digital marketer.” Seems like a nice enough guy that keeps busy, no? Listing your likes and hobbies is acceptable but why not reveal a quirk to spice up the list? Such as slurpees (hello, nice to meet you, I’m a self confessed slurpee lover).

Use a thesaurus.

Use short bursts of sentences and titillating words. Substitute “like” or “passion” with “fervor.” You could even pull off cleverly made up words.  Tribber co-founder Dino Dogan’s bio ends with “Global Force of Badassery. Hi.” I wrap up with “V/Blogger addicted to adrenaline.” You’ll captivate your audience.

Know that no matter what you do, it doesn’t have to be dull!

I’ve seen in a bio the following statement: “I have an unhealthy obsession with CTA buttons.” I would not question if the person was passionate about website design. Nicely done.

Update it to show the latest version of you

You are dynamic by nature. Your personal and professional experiences and interests change over time so don’t let your bio become stagnant.

My fellow authors of Steamfeed want to annihilate those inauthentic people with the hard selling Twitter bios that I introduced in the beginning. The authors and I are curious about who you are and care about building relationships and simply helping. Concocting your bio is one way to join us in this revolution and we shall see the fake sellers fade away!

What is your Twitter bio? How could you improve it using some of the advice mentioned above? Please leave a comment below!

The Shark Tank Guide to Branded Introductions

“Do you want to be rich or not? Let’s get focused on that, buddy.”

Kevin O’Leary sure knows how to refocus an entrepreneur’s quest for money on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. No wonder viewers tune in each week to find out what the venture capitalist “sharks” will say next; and more importantly, what will it take to get their money and mentorship?

Shark Tank Branded Introductions

photo: Shark Tank

However, you don’t have to watch the show to see entrepreneurs screw up. Just attend a networking event where you have 30-seconds or less to introduce yourself.

How many times have you witnessed eyes glaze over as a red-faced business person spews out gibberish about their company? Seriously, we could all care less about the millions of products or services they offer to… wait for it…  everyone.

*Yawn*… Go home. You’re wasting my time.

A lackluster introduction will kill your brand.

Not only will you brand yourself as a jerk, but you’ll lose prospective customers because:

  • There’s no focus to your message.
  • You haven’t effectively differentiated yourself.
  • You’re not relatable.
  • You’re boring and uninspiring.

How to Introduce Yourself with Bite

Let’s inject some Brandspiration™ into this post. Here’s how the Shark Tank’s stars are introduced in the opening segment:

  • Kevin O’Leary is a venture capitalist who turned a $10,000 loan into a software business worth $4.2 billion.
  • Barbara Corcoran went from working as a waitress in Manhattan to building the City’s preeminent real estate empire.
  • Daymond John is a fashion and branding expert who grew his home grown clothing line into the globally recognized fashion brand, FUBU.
  • Robert Herjavec, the son of an immigrant factory worker, is now a technology mogul who sold his first internet company for more than $350 million.
  • Mark Cuban is a notorious billionaire entrepreneur and the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

These quick introductions make a big impact in a few seconds. They instantly convey that these people are not just worthy of giving money to aspiring entrepreneurs but also able to turn them into successful million- or billionaires, too.

The bios:

  • Are not vague or needlessly wordy. They tell you who the Sharks are and what they do.
  • Excellently highlight each shark’s claim to fame, and rouses the audience to daydream of their own entrepreneurial visions.
  • And finally, they point out the Sharks’ personal story of struggle, making them relatable. The exception is Mark Cuban, whose bio plays to his branded personality.

The combination of these elements suggests that each Shark understands the audience, have had similar struggles, and will reveal their secrets to success – if you watch the show.

Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself

This may be a fun case-study on how TV networks brand their show’s stars and entice viewership through introductions, but how about we put an action plan into place for branding an introduction that entices your prospects to connect with you?

Next Steps:

  1. Use one of the above Shark Tank sentences as a template and write down one sentence that briefly states who you are, what you do, and a struggle you’ve conquered to accomplish something awesome. Make sure your “something awesome” is what your audience also wants to do.
  2. Create a call to action sentence that will help you build a relationship with your audience. That is, give them one thing to do that will help them get their goals, such as subscribing to your blog or downloading a free report. In doing so, you can also build your list with warm leads and keep in touch with them through inbound marketing.

Keep the conversation flowing… Leave me a comment with your new one-line bio below AND tell me what part of this post was most helpful in creating your new introduction. Lookity-look, an opportunity to promote yourself. Go!

Why Self-Promoting Could Kill Your Brand

Have you ever been to a chamber of commerce event or any kind of networking event, where there was that one self-promoting person that comes up to you, hands you their business card and says something corny like, “If you ever need a ______, I’m the one for you”…

Exchanging Business CardThink about how you feel when you are approached by someone that is trying to push you in a direction to hire or buy, do you feel good or do you want to get the heck away from them? This is why selling has such a negative image today.

I am very surprised about how many “gurus” online are telling us that we need to “sell” ourselves. But I am going to have to disagree with them! And here is why…

Selling is annoying

I have found that people that are always trying to sell themselves are often very self-centered, annoying, pushy and willing to throw people under the bus to to make themselves look good. Now, if you like those qualities, you might want to stop reading and go to another site that promotes annoying your prospects, but for those of you that don’t, there is a better way.

It’s important to know that you may not always be trying to sell yourself, but you are always branding yourself. Everything you do, say, don’t do, and don’t say is branding you. In other words, people are creating an image or perception of you by what you are expressing. For example, if you are a very caring person that is always doing nice things for people, others will see that and have that image about you. But, if you say you like caring for people, but you are always a jerk to people, you will be viewed as a hypocrite and will have a negative image in their minds.

The same holds true for your business, everything you post via social media, every interaction you have with a prospect at Starbucks, every email you send out, it’s all telling others something about you… Your brand.

So if you are always branding yourself, why would you want to try to sell yourself? If you can express a brand image that others will love, there is no need try to sell and promote yourself. In fact, once you start trying to sell yourself, you risk turning people off. Keep in mind, I am not talking about big corporations like Apple where you expect to see all their updates about them and their products. I am talking about your personal brand that can carry over into your corporate brand.

My own experience with a self-promoter

There is a lady I know online that is a consultant, she is always promoting herself. She will post pictures of quotes from famous people and add her web site link at the bottom of the picture, as if her company is responsible for what Abraham Lincoln said. She will promote her web site or a sales page 95% of the time via social media, instead of engaging people. What she is doing is selling herself and let me tell you, it’s getting old! But, at the same time she is also branding herself.

She is branding herself as a self-promoter. Isn’t that a shame?! I’m sure she is very good at what she does and if she focused on adding value instead of promoting her, she would hold a totally different image in my mind (and most likely many others as well).

The main point here is, you should be strategically branding you and don’t worry about selling yourself. People do not like being sold, so why would you try to do something they don’t like?

Here are 4 steps that you can do to make sure you are strategically branding you and not self-promoting:

  1. Have a clear definition of what your brand is. Know what you are wanting to express and what you are not. Define what you stand for and what you don’t. Know what the message is you want to express. Be real and not fake.
  2. Focus on offering value to your target audience. This does not mean you spam them with self-promotional posts, Tweets and updates. Know who your target audience is and what they like, then give them that. This way, when you post something like your latest blog post or something you are offering, it wont come across as spam. When you offer value, people will begin to take notice and view you as an authority.
  3. Engage and build rapport. This is where you build the approachability factor in your brand. Which means you show people how you are a real person that cares about them. You strategically engage your target audience and build relationships with them. Because after all, isn’t business built on relationships?
  4. Be clear on what selling is and in what ways you do not like being approached, promoted to, mentioned, tagged, etc. and then, don’t do those things! In fact, do the opposite and you will stand out even more to your target audience.

We really need to stop selling and marketing to people in ways we do not like being marketed to ourselves. We need to be careful who we are taking business advice from and examine everything to make sure it is in-line with our core brand image and message.

Have you ever been approached by a self-promoter? What how did you feel? Please leave your comments bellow.