Your Social Media State of Being

18 02 2013

yoga meditation hands

We have been engaged in social media long enough to do some evaluation, right?  Are all the tweets, posts, fan pages, blogs and status updates worth our energy?  Millions of businesses and professional individuals have spent time and money on social media to build relationships and develop brands – is it paying off?  Certainly, there are people that are profiting from their efforts – are you one of them?  Are you meeting your expectations?  Do you have expectations?  It is time to pause for reflection.

If you hope to achieve some level of success in business through social media, then you should contemplate your Social Media State of Being.  Who are you?  Why are you here?  What do you value?  What is true connection?  OOohhhmmm.

To achieve a higher Social Media State of Being, consider these principles:

  • Being generous. Successful companies are really good at giving products and services specifically designed to solve client’s problems or make their lives better.  Why should social media be any different?  What are you contributing?  Stop thinking of yourself and start thinking about what your online marketing efforts are doing to enhance the lives your audience.
  • Being simple. You’ve seen this one:  “Scan the code, visit our website, like our page, invite a friend, share our post – and then you might win a free cup of tea.”  Don’t force your audience to have to think too much or do too much work to participate in your efforts.  Create a benefit and make it easy to attain.
  • Being studious. We are so focused on what we put into social media, but how about what we get out of it?  What can we learn?  Data, loads of it.  Businesses can sort data to adjust their strategy or find opportunity in the market.  And for sales people, your calls don’t have to be cold.  You can gain tremendous knowledge about a company or an individual online before you make contact, and then have a warm conversation with someone you’ve never met.
  • Being original. Branding is about differentiation, so how are you showing that you are unique?  If someone in your audience used one sentence to describe you, what would it be?  You have original thoughts – present them.  Focus not on what makes you good, but what makes you different.  You must contribute something different to get noticed.
  • Being connected. You spend time trying to increase your “followers” and “friends,” but are you spending enough time truly connecting with people?  How many people “Like” your company page?  Okay, now how many of them have you contacted to ask them what they like, or to discuss how you can help them?  Going online is a great way to build a large network, going to the phone is a great way to make a genuine connection.
  • Being productive. Generating “Likes” does not equate to generating revenue.  Have you set any goals related to your social media efforts?  Do those goals contain a revenue component?  Does your daily action directly affect those goals?  Are you tracking your progress?

If you are simply using social media as a way to stay in touch with friends and family, then it readily provides your desired benefit.  For professional use, social media is a fantastic opportunity to brand your culture, share your vision, connect with your audience, and build relationships.  You must approach your efforts with purposeful ideals, follow basic business principles, and focus on specific goals.  Find your center.

Namaste.





Have an Impact

14 10 2012

“Hey kid, did you see the game yesterday?”  A simple question – and that was all it took.

Summer of ‘85.  Oakland, California.  Just a few months shy of my 12th birthday.  My parents allowed me to travel by myself from Reno to stay with our family friends that had season tickets for my favorite baseball team, the Oakland A’s.  I could not have been any more proud of myself, out in the world, wearing my big boy pants, tasting a new freedom I had never known before.

I convinced my parents’ friends to take me to the ballpark early to get autographs.  Walking down the steep steps toward the field, I could see the players warming up, joking and laughing with each other.  The guys I worshiped and watched on TV were there right in front of me. “No way…” I thought, “they are real!”

Hordes of kids huddled at the edge of the field, shouting, pushing, and fighting to get to the front.  Every now and then some lucky kid would get to have that chance encounter with a player they idolized.  With pen in hand, their little arms stretched out as far as they could reach, a player would sign their name and move to the next kid, not stopping, not interacting.

I noticed one man, a little bit older, sitting alone on the bullpen bench down the left field line.  I knew that guy – he used to play for my Dad’s favorite team, the Dodgers.  “That’s Dusty Baker!” I thought.  He was nearing the end of his career and probably not as popular with the kids as some of the team’s new stars.  I walked over to him cautiously, “Mr. Baker, can I have your autograph please?”

“Sure kid.” He replied like a man who had done this a million times before.  Unable to speak, I handed him my beat-up old notepad and a ballpoint pen.  He signed the page.  “Thank you,” I mumbled nervously, and began to walk away.

What happened next is something I will never forget.  I don’t know why he did it.  Maybe he knew I was a true fan, decked out in team colors down to my green-and-gold striped socks.  Maybe he appreciated that I broke from the crowd surrounding the new players to find the elder statesman.  Whatever the reason, he proceeded to spark a conversation.

“Hey kid, did you see the game yesterday?”

Stunned and wondering in disbelief – did Dusty Baker just ask me a question?

Nervously I replied:  “Yes I did. I was here for the game.”

“Good one huh?”  We spoke about the different plays and the final score.

Then he asked me if I played baseball and gave me some tips.  He wondered how I knew who he was and I told him my Dad was a Dodger fan.  We talked about the game that was about to be played that day.  He spoke to me like I was a real person!  We probably only talked for a few minutes, but it felt as though time had stopped completely.  I said goodbye and then floated up to my seat – I swear my feet never touched the stairs.

At that time, Dusty Baker was probably about the same age I am now.  I couldn’t have appreciated the deeper meaning back then, but now I can reflect and understand the magnitude of what transpired.  Dusty Baker had an impact.  Instead of dismissing me, he took a few moments from his day to give me a memory for a lifetime.

As we grow older it is important that we understand the effect we have on young people.  As parents, teachers, managers, or just as the most experienced person in the group, we all have the opportunity to have an impact on someone’s life.  How do we do it?  Here’s what I learned from Dusty Baker:

  • Ask.  Although sharing your story is valuable, it is also important to ask what someone wants to learn.  Find out what your mentee is interested in, where they are struggling, or how they are feeling.
  • Listen.  It can be tremendously frustrating to be dismissed by your elders.  By just giving someone the opportunity to talk you empower them and build confidence.
  • Give.  Your advice and mentorship requires a selfless attitude.  Give just to give, don’t expect anything in return.

There is a big difference between having a big name and having a big impact.  From what I can tell, Dusty Baker seems to understand this.  After his career ended, he went on to be a big-league manager, and has been named Manager Of The Year three separate times.  He is currently the manager for the Cincinnati Reds.  He is a Board Member for the “Positive Coaching Alliance,” an organization that promotes character-building in youth sports.

In recent months, Mr. Baker was hospitalized due to an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke.  After being released from the hospital, he joined his team on the field for the playoffs.  Here’s to your good health Mr. Baker.  Thank you for that brief moment in time.  You certainly had an impact.





Be The Man

30 07 2012

Relaxing on a Saturday afternoon, listening to some great music in the backyard, I uttered out-loud a simple contemplation: “I wish I was in this band.”  Upon hearing the statement, my daughter, just shy of 5-years-old, looked me straight in the eye and replied: “Dad, be the man that you are.”

Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears

It took me a second to absorb it.  Did she really just say that?  Did she really just think that?  Stunned and a bit puzzled, I took a big mental step back and thought about what she said.  “Be the man that you are.”  With one quick response to a simple Saturday musing as I listened to Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears, she provoked a stirring of thoughts.  I was reminded of a quote I once read from 19th Century writer Ralph Waldo Trine:  “Do you want to be a power in the world?  Then be yourself.”

We try to be our best (or we don’t and we feel guilty about it), but if we do not find immediate success, then rather than stay the course, we may wish to be someone else entirely.  Wish for someone else’s good times, or fame, or wealth, or membership in a really cool band – it’s something we all have done.  What fools are we to hope for someone else’s greatness when we have so much untapped power inside ourselves?  This life, the one we breathe and drink and touch every day – well, this is the life we have.  This is our here, our now, our reality.  If we wish for dreams that can’t come true, then we may never tap into our true potential.

In addition, it is important to appreciate where you are.  Soak it in.  For better or worse, this is you, this is your life.  Are you where you want to be?  If not, you have the power to change it.  But as you’re trying to get there, as you take a slow walk down the path to glory, why not just appreciate life for what it is?  Why wish to be somewhere else or someone else?  Why not smile through the tough times and the conflict?  Find something good in it.  In everything.

A good lesson for me for sure.  And thank you to my daughter for reminding me.

By the way, that band really is sweet.  If you like old-school, throw-down soul, mixed with high-energy funk and back-woods blues, then by all means, check out Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears.





Hero Found

7 10 2011

In follow-up to the story I posted about the fire that affected our home in Austin, Texas, I am thrilled to report that I found the man that saved our house – or rather, he found me.  As I was standing in the front yard watering the grass at night, a Lake County Sheriff’s car pulled alongside the curb.  He stopped and rolled down his window.  Concerned that I might be in trouble for the extra watering during drought conditions, I said, “Hey there.  I’m just watering to keep the grass moist – part of it burned during the fire.”

“I know,” he said, “I put it out.”

“You what????” I asked, jaw-dropped.

“I put out the fire in your yard,” he replied calmly.  “I came around the corner in my car and I saw the flames, so I parked, got out, and stomped it out with my feet.”

“Are you serious?!?!” I asked, not believing that I was standing there talking to my family’s hero.

“Yeah,” he replied in a very “no big deal – just part of the job” kind of way.

We talked for a while and I thanked him profusely.  I told him that I had written an article and given his credit to the Fire Department.  He was quick to point out that although he put out the fire in my yard, the Fire Department saved the neighborhood – mentioning how impressed he was by their teamwork and speed.  Nonetheless, I wanted to express my immeasurable gratitude.

“You write a blog?” he asked.  “You should check out my website.”

It turns out that Senior Deputy Sheriff Greg Lawson is also an author.  He wrote a fictional book about zombies and the rights of zombies if they actually existed.  I’m not making this up – take a look:  www.zombieadvocacy.com

He didn’t seem to want much praise for his heroic act, so I can at least give his website and his book some free press.  Go check it out – just in time for Halloween!

Thank you Mr. Lawson, not only for putting out the fire, but for providing us with an example of bravery and humility – and for reminding us that for all that is wrong in the world, there are still reasons to be optimistic.





Create Valuable Content

6 05 2011

People ask me a lot of questions about blogging, making videos, and participating in Social Media.  Quite commonly I am asked this:  “What should I post?”

It seems that although people and businesses want to increase their participation in the digital community, they are unsure how to engage their audience – perhaps afraid that they will misrepresent themselves, post something that makes them sound stupid, or just produce content that is deemed worthless.

There is one simple principle to help companies and individuals as they market themselves – Add Value.  It could certainly be argued that there is an information overload in the world of Social Media – much of which mostly becomes noise and distraction.  If you don’t provide some kind of unique value then your efforts will go largely unnoticed.

So how do you add value?  Here are three concepts to consider when creating content:

Educate

One of my favorite quotes is “I’ve never met a person that I couldn’t learn something from.” – Dan Collins.  Everyone has insight that others would find valuable.  Enlighten your audience with knowledge related to your products and services – report customer success stories, showcase new ideas, or share information related to your industry.  We all like to learn from experts, and most likely, you are an expert about something.  Teach us.

Entertain

Go ahead and admit that you have a guilty online pleasure like www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com.  Maybe you love watching silly videos or listening to new music.  Maybe you appreciate a quality “funny forward,” or maybe you like to participate in a discussion on Facebook.  Guess what, so does your audience.  Branding does not always have to be serious.  Providing a laugh, recommending a good restaurant, telling a silly story, or sharing interesting photos, are all great ways to get your audience to pay attention.

Inspire

We can all use a little extra motivation.  When you run across an inspiring story, share it.  For example, today is the anniversary of Roger Bannister running the mile in under 4 minutes.  There are hundreds of ways to spin that to create engaging content.  Certainly there are plenty of stories about sacrifice, perseverance, charity, determination, etc. that can be emotionally rousing and encouraging for your audience.  Inspirational content is interesting to read, and as the curator of that information, you reveal your personal character or the ethical standard of your business.

In this age of digital interaction, I don’t think there is necessarily any “right” or “wrong” approach, but I do think that focusing on education, entertainment, and inspiration can help steer your branding efforts.

________________________________________________________________________________________

In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to say “I Love You” to my Mom, my Mother-In-Law, and my beautiful wife.  You “educate, entertain, and inspire” me all the time.





How To Waste 3 Million Dollars

4 02 2011

Advertisers love the Super Bowl – and why wouldn’t they?  It’s like the Oscars of advertising.  They have the opportunity to play on the biggest stage, to be in direct competition for popularity and supremacy against their rivals, the chance to be the one that everybody talks about on Monday – and of course, they bank a ton of dough.

I can imagine the pitches they might give:

  • The statistics – “20 Bajillion Viewers!!!”
  • The clichés – “Maximum Brand Exposure”
  • The competitor leverage – “Well, Budweiser’s doing it”
  • The blatant lies – “This is how you build Customer Loyalty”

I like the theatrics and the entertainment value of Super Bowl ads.  I appreciate that someone paid $3 million to give me a 30-second exhibition for me to discuss with my co-workers on Monday, I really do.  But I have never once in my life actually purchased a product because of their Super Bowl ad – ever.  Funny talking babies do not make me want to invest my hard-earned money with your company.  Horses playing football are neat, but they don’t make me want to drink your crappy beer.

For small and mid-size businesses, how can you market your brand without wasting an obscene amount of money?  Here are the 3 best ways to gain exposure for companies who have modest marketing budgets:

Give consumers something for Free. Logoed merchandise is inexpensive and can be useful and fun for your audience.  A Frisbee, a t-shirt, a mug, or a bottle opener with your logo on it will be used for a long  time.  The item becomes part of someone’s life, and is a constant reminder of your brand.  If you don’t know where to get this stuff, contact me – I have a whole network of professionals that can help.

Glacier Outdoor blog

Write a Blog. Expose your audience to consistent messaging that shows your culture and thought process.  Blogs are free, and as newspapers and magazines go the way of the dinosaur, they are a good source of entertainment and education for potential clients.

Make a Video. Consumers like advertising that is honest, tells a story, and shows why something is cool.  Marketers like advertising that shows results and can easily be shared.  A nice digital video camera costs about $250.  That’s $2,999,750 cheaper than a Super Bowl ad.  Wilson Football provides a great example of how to use video.

Enjoy the game on Sunday.  You’ll have fun watching the ads, but not nearly as much as the ad agencies.  When you’re ears are ringing Monday morning, it’s because you drank too much – for them it sounds more like a cash register.





Being Accountable in the New Year

7 01 2011

One week into the New Year and I can’t help but wonder – how many resolutions have already been broken?  How many people have the fortitude and discipline to live up to their own expectations?  How will we all hold ourselves accountable as the year progresses?

Me?  I’m a talker (as if you couldn’t tell).  My accountability strategy is to make promises to myself and share them with anyone who cares to listen.  I know that if I stray from my path and ignore my goals, I will be judged by the people that heard me promise aloud, so I will feel guilt and embarrassment if I don’t live up to my declared expectations.  To that point, what better way to keep myself on task than to list my resolutions publicly?

  • 20 Push-ups every day before I take a shower – it’s not a lot, but I will do them every single day.
  • Stay in touch with friends that have traveled far from me, and those I’ve left behind.
  • Be a more attentive father and affectionate husband.
  • Admit that I don’t know everything and try not to be a know-it-all.
  • Find a positive in negative situations – turn everything into a lesson learned.
  • Try things that I’ve never done, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me.

    Austin Sunrise

One week in and so far so good.  I’ve got a different job in a foreign town with an unfamiliar house – and it is all a little scary.  Luckily, I am making friends and finding new people to learn from.  It has been a trying time to say the least, but I am positive, encouraged by new possibilities, and undaunted by fear of the unknown.

Why do I share these things?  Why choose to use myself as an example?  I do it because I am not special.  I do not come from a ton of money – not poor, but far from rich.  I mowed lawns, I packed boxes, and I waited tables – not glamorous by any assessment.  I graduated from college, but one that is a significant distance from the Ivy League.  I majored in a subject (English Literature) that garnered snickers and criticism.  I make mistakes, I am impatient, I often speak before thinking, and sometimes I have a short temper.  I have vices, I have broken the law.  I am not the tallest, not the strongest, and not the smartest kid in class.  I can be clumsy, forgetful, and preachy.  I have an ego (as if you couldn’t tell), I struggle to be a good listener, and I rarely read things as thoroughly as I should.

When I use myself as an example, I do it not because I am perfect, but because I am greatly flawed.  However, I don’t use that as an excuse or a crutch.  I move forward imperfectly, understanding that I can be better, do more, and learn as I go.  I use myself as an example because we are all flawed in our own unique ways – and we can all improve and evolve as imperfect creatures.  If I can do it, so can you.








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