“I am a writer.” It took me decades to admit this publicly. For years I had written in secret, filling up stark white notebooks and leather-bound journals with my words, short stories, and poems. I had received awards for my writing as a child and was placed in gifted writing programs in high school. When it came time to choose a major for college, I went with my other passion: human behavior and science. I set upon a course that would lead to a career in psychiatry; a path where story and humanity intersect. What happened along the road that led me to a business career is a story for another day… The important point is that I re-discovered my voice as an adult and took up my pen once again.
Words poured out of me like a geyser and once again I began to fill up .doc files on my pc, having traded my pen for a keyboard. I entered into an enriching relationship with a local feminist writing academy and it was here that I could stand up and say, “My name is Michelle and I’m a writer.” I began the process of setting aside my love for the short story format and embarked upon writing a novel. Halfway through the story, I became enamored with an emerging industry that was changing the world and turned my focus into building a social media marketing consulting firm. I believe that social media is the quintessential conduit for bringing story, human behavior, and science (analytics) together. I had discovered my passion, but in the process of helping companies share their brand voice, their stories, I lost the time to work on my own.
I truly believe in Karma and the universe putting people and experiences in our paths for a reason. I recently had lunch with an amazing writer whom I first met via Twitter. We shared our stories and she encouraged me to find the time to write. Just a few days later I received an email from a writer that I do not know (not sure how I got on her mailing list) sharing a heart-felt and inspirational post. At the bottom of the post was a message about the difficulty in finding the time to write with a link to a book she had just written on the subject. Her words chilled me and inspired the post you are now reading. Here’s what she said,
“It’s not an easy thing to take time to write. The world says that writing doesn’t matter much. Our families and jobs need us. We have to make money. The ugly voices in our head tell us we’re not good enough. There are a ton of reasons why we choose to not write. . . and yet, if we are writers, we must find a way to the page. Over and over again.”
So once again I am coming out of the closet and claiming my title. Thank you universe for sending me people and stories that inspire and move me to action.
WARNING: This post exists at the intersection of digital and IRL, because meeting people where they are should be the goal…..
Over the years I have become very interested in working with groups that lift up women and girls- groups that work on building confidence and self-esteem. I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who believed in me, encouraged me to achieve, and told me the sky was the limit as to what I could accomplish. I also had a religion teacher/liturgical music director in high school at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland, who greatly believed in me and encouraged me to take on leadership roles that bolstered my confidence. I passed this on to my own daughter, who is a shining example of a strong confident teen, very active in leadership roles in her school and in the community.
I have seen how peer pressure and life can beat down upon women and girls like a strong driving rain through a broken umbrella. If women/girls can find inner strength and a belief in their personal gifts and talents, I think this knowledge would help sustain them against peer pressure, bullying, and gender discrimination.
I recently attended the kick-off meeting for a pilot program created by St. Vincent de Paul- Cincinnati: the Empowerment Path Program. The program was established to complement education, employment, and other social service programs pursued by women to address financial stability, to help them overcome social ills, and to break systemic cycles getting in the way of growth. It involves the paring of female coaches with women from multi-cultural backgrounds (including different races, economic status, and religions) in the Winton Hills community of Cincinnati in order to build collaborative, open, and accepting relationships.
As a coach, I will walk the path of life with one woman for one year, helping her define steps to achieve a goal that will make a major difference in her life.
I will be there to help her plan
To help cheer her on
To give advice
To cry with her
And to experience the joy that truly giving to another human being can bestow. I think that in the end, I will be the one who is blessed for having experienced another’s life so different from my own.
The director of the Empowerment Path Program opened our kick off session with a great analogy. She said that we tend to approach people that we don’t know like a book; making judgments about them based on the cover. We define our perceptions of them by their outward appearance and the life-long tapes running through our heads. In reality, it is the chapters in a novel that truly define the story, not the cover. We need to remember this as we meet people that we don’t know and who may walk a different path than we are accustomed to.
A group member in her 70s, who is pursuing a life-long dream of receiving her GED, summed this up so succinctly:
“What we see of others on the outside is just a shell, but what’s on your inside- your soul, your heart, that’s what’s important.”
84% of your Facebook Fans Won’t See Your Page Posts
Facebook made a major move to increase revenue recently with Promoted Posts (not the same as a Facebook ad). If you have a Facebook Page for your business, you may have noticed that your Page stats (number of new fans, reach and frequency, etc) have been edging southward. For example, a typical Page post might have garnered a couple of hundred views on a fan base of 800 with a moderately engaged audience and above-average content several months ago. That same Page is seeing reach numbers in the double digits (i.e. 63 views).
I just completed a Facebook Page Promoted Posts test in which I updated the same post about an upcoming C3 LinkedIn Training class as a regular post and as a Promoted post. I found a major difference in organic and viral reach with the paid post (much higher!). In fact, the Promoted Post (a mere $5 outlay) brought in 851% more total views than the non-promoted post with identical content. I had zero viral reach for the non-promoted post, only organic (original) Page fans, while the Promoted post had several hundred viral viewers. (Check this out for information on the difference between organic, viral and paid reach.) Post analytics will also point out how many of the views were paid views. It’s interesting that my organic views (original fans) were much higher than the non-promoted organic views for the post, emphasizing the point that Facebook adjusted the Edgerank algorithm to allow more of my current fan base to see the post in their news feed as when the post was not promoted.
It’s really too bad that Page owners won’t be able to use Edgerank to drive frequency and reach with engaging content as they could prior to FB’s current quest to drive monetization.
I think this will have a huge effect on small businesses. Every business, regardless of size, will need to set aside part of their marketing budget to allocate to Facebook advertising or risk having only 16% of their user base see posts shared by the Page.
If this sounds like Farsi to you, then perhaps a Facebook Page Marketing consult should be in your future. We are happy to get your business/organization up to speed on the recent changes to Facebook Page Marketing. Just contact us here.
I recently gave a Keynote Address on the Importance of Social Media Strategy to 250 small businesses from the Cincinnati Region at Xavier University’s Cintas Center on behalf of The Berry Company. I wanted to share the gist of my talk here on the Blog. The presentation was taped, and once receive a copy from Berry, I will post that as well. It includes a Q & A session.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it“.
This quote from Socialnomics author and digital media expert Erik Qualman is even more telling today than when originally published in 2009. Today, Businesses realize that they need to have an online presence. Like it or not, we are living in an online world with current and future customers and clients who have grown up with this technology and for whom interacting with brands on Twitter and Facebook is just second nature.
With the advent of Social media, Small businesses are seeing a leveled playing field, where they have the ability to the same platforms as the big companies and brands. The R(e)volution has begun and the time is now for your organization to get on board with reaching your target audience where they reside: ONLINE
For those of you who currently maintain a social media presence for your company, you can attest to the fact that it can seem overwhelming. There are many digital media and social networking choices for a company to use. The key is in understanding what the tools are, how they work, and how to maximize them for your business.
Stratgey This is all part of setting a distinct strategy for your online marketing efforts.
Having spent 15 years with consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble in sales and marketing roles, I can tell you that having a Branding Strategy is absolutely critical in your marketing efforts. I’d like to share an exercise that I use with my clients to ensure consistency and clarity around their brand or business’s online marketing efforts.
After these questions are answered, the results are formulated into a summary statement that describes the brand. This statement becomes fodder for all Social/Digital platforms that are used ensuring a constant message and image is being shared across all channels no matter where a potential customer may find you online.
Having a social media presence goes well beyond just setting up the various platforms. Social Media is much, much more. It includes the following critical elements:
Creating Signature Experiences- providing an online experience that is memorable, fitting to your brand, and brings the customer back to you
Creating Needed Content- we are no longer living in a Broadcast state, nor one with static information- instead a successful brand will provide content that is Needed by consumers. Don’t know what that is? Just ask them!
Conversations- It’s all about the dialogue and sharing of information between the brand and the consumer. We are no longer living in a Word of Mouth society, but are permanent residents in the new World of Mouth universe.
Engagement- Consists of providing content that sparks some touch. Whether it’s a comment, a Like, a Re-Tweet, or a +1 on Google Plus. When the consumer takes action, that touch has a ripple affect seeping into their own social graph and spreading news of your brand throughout their network.
Relationships- This is what is achieved by implementing focused content and engagement strategies and being fully present on the platform. The worst thing any business can do is, set up the Open Sign and be permanently out to lunch.
When we take a look at how some national and local businesses are winning in the market place in these key areas, we find a variety of tools that you can implement as well. They include examples from (see video to hear about the specifics for each example):
The key to an effective social media strategy is crafting a plan that integrates best practices with a mission and vision for each platform.
The first step on this journey is to become educated on Social Media, even if someone else in your organization will be ultimately responsible for managing your online real estate. Social Media is a constantly changing landscape and it pays off to stay informed.
Know your audience and where they reside, this will help you to determine the best platform(s) to reach your consumers. Knowing the correct number of platforms to be engaged in can seem overwhelming, having a strategist assist you in the process can be well worth the expense. I love social media marketing executive and author Brian Solis’s response to the perennial question: How many social media profiles should a brand have?”:
“The answer is as simple as it is revealing. Create the number of channels that meaningfully extend the focus of your business… and relevant stories to the dedicated audience they’re designed to serve. Additionally, only create the number of channels that strengthen the brand rather than dilute it and also possess the capacity to ensure its ongoing relevance.”
Here is a plan I have put together for the Small Business Sector:
Create a Plan that integrates with your off-line marketing and advertising programs
Determine In-house or Agency management based on skill base, time and/or budget
Set Goals & Objectives
Create Content Plan for each Platform- Be mindful of language and timing (day/part)
Create Engagement Strategies for each Platform
Connect all Platforms & Cross Market
Monitor the Platforms – Be an Active Listener & Be Responsive
Use Analytics to Measure & Make Changes
~ A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble
Letting go includes the art of listening. Brands need to create a reputation management program to stay on top of the conversations that are occurring about them; whether they happen on brand-sponsored sites or on someone’s personal blog. Addressing any unpleasant information directly and in a customer-service focused way will show that you are active and responsive to feedback. Remember the old adage: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Well, what happens in Vegas now stays on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Blogs and….. you get the point. We are truly living in a ‘World of Mouth’ universe.
In Conclusion here are 6 Steps to Social Media For Business Success:
Be Authentic- speak in a voice true to the brand
Be BOLD- this is an evolving playground- jump in and try some things!
Measure, Measure, Measure- if you don’t have an indication of where you have come from, how can you move forward?
Reputation Management: Be on top of your Brand.
We have certainly have come a long way from simply creating a social media presence. Winning in today’s market place involves real interaction with the consumer in a dynamic back and forth conversation that brings value to both parties. Metrics are key and measuring results vs. objectives should be an inherent part of the plan. We must remember however, that success is not in sheer numbers of Fans , Followers or Friends; success should be measured in terms of influence and the number of brand evangelists that have emerged in support of your efforts. Better to have 500 followers singing your praises then 5000 who don’t interact with your brand in any way.
I wish you all good luck. Enter the Digital Space Boldly!
I just followed a tweet by Julie Niesen (@winemedineme) to an article written by Cincinnati Enquirer Sports Columnist, Paul Daugherty, that is not only exquisitely written, but it will break your heart. He writes about the death of his good friend Joe Acito and what happens when there are no more tomorrows. (The Joe Acito Line, 3/25)
Paul’s column applies to everyone, but I believe even more so to we, digital media early adopters and social networking enthusiasts who tend to remain plugged in 24/7. Paul’s advice to us is this:
“Take the time. Make the time. Do not let work or errands or trivia get in the way of seeing your friends. Don’t let anything get in the way… There will always be… another Traditional Media column, another piece for SI.com. There will never be another round of golf with my friend Joe Acito”.
Words to heed. Words to live by. It’s Friday- go unplug and connect with your friends and family. Trust Paul, you won’t regret it…..
Over 90 million people can’t be wrong about the #1 professional social networking site: LinkedIn. If you are not there, then you are truly missing out on an opportunity to affect your business and your future. LinkedIn is far more than a repository for your static resume. It is a living, breathing social platform that fosters connections that lead to real results.
No time to take a public group training class? Need an instructor to gently guide you in discovering the many utilities and capabilities LinkedIn has for its Members? How about taking a private virtual training class in the comfort of your office or home at a published day/time or one of your choosing that is mutually available?
Check out the video for class information. Discounts are given for published dates and times with early registration or you can contact me to schedule a date and time that works for you at the regular rate. Call me at 513-445-2180 or send a message HERE.
I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. From a marketing perspective, I find it pure genius to be able to tap so gratuitously into the social graph and get into the consumer-behavior psyche of users. But from a highly educated user perspective, I find that what we are freely giving away terrifies me. Love it or hate, we can’t deny that most of the world is obsessed with Facebook.
Here’s a great info-graphic and corresponding video that pictorially shows some of the latest statistics on Facebook usage put together by www.OnlineSchools.org under a creative commons license.
Feel free to share your obsession confession in the comments section below.