“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.
Once upon a time fully-loaded family station wagons deposited fresh-faced first year students on the steps of their new college home. After a quick hug, maybe a photo on their 35mm camera, and a couple of tears, mom and dad drove off into the quickening sunset. Except for the occasional pay-phone or in-room call, communication ceased until the first big holiday break. Junior went on to acclimate to his new surroundings and make life-changing decisions on his own (Do I drop Calc I? Should I sign up for alternative spring break?). Parents went on to adjust to being empty nesters or devote more attention to the ones still left in the nest.
Today’s social-media infused world leaves contemporary parents with a completely different set of circumstances. No longer do we have huge absences in quality communication, but we can speak with our kids easily at any time and watch their lives unfold in real time on Instagram and Twitter.
I personally traveled 500 miles away to attend a Jesuit university in the Midwest. It was a rare occasion for me to have any direct communication with my family. The ability to call was always there, but the need was not a pressing one. My peer group was of the belief that we were independently taking care of business for ourselves. Today, the 18 year old who told me at the close of Family Orientation that she would not be calling us, has maintained a pretty strong connection via iPhone calls, DMs on Twitter, Facebook comments, and Instagram tags. I guess you would say we have a pretty close connection if she actually tags me on Instagram. We have learned of her test grades as she is walking back from the professor’s office; found out about her selection as a student ambassador for the school via FaceTime, and have seen super-magnified slide photos of the fruit fly brain research she was working on via text.
While social media has maintained a window into her world, it is has been purely just that: a window. We have let her initiate communication with us and celebrate her successes while keeping the conversation/Face-Time, Texting, etc. short. Where social media broke through the looking glass of voyeurism and transformed into a crucial assist was when she was stranded in the airport of one of largest cities in the U.S.
She had her cell phone, and despite existing on low battery, was able to plug into one of the powering stations in the terminal. She called to let me know her situation, and I immediately left my business lunch to get in front of a screen larger than my cell phone to figure out how to get her from point A to point B in the midst of a major storm. I could easily check websites for airlines, trains, busses and taxis as well as be in communication with her school, all while keeping her on the line. In the end we figured it out. She took the first cab ride of her life on a 2+hr trip with a driver who spoke very little English. I crossed my fingers and hoped she would arrive in the right place. She did.
Times have surely changed in terms of parent-college student communications and I for one think that could be a good thing. I guess we can say that the closing of the SUV hatch does not signify the end of the relationship.
Speaking from the sociological side of social media- Cheers to you!
Like it or not, we live in an era where our private and public conversations can become instant fodder for the media monsters. Our thoughts, whether consciously or unconsciously spoken, are ingested and churned out into a multitude of managed social media platforms and carried along by the viral river of instant sharing.
Two recent examples of people who “went off” in public with the cameras rolling are Cincinnati Reds Manager, Bryan Price and Nancy Gordeuk, the Principal of TNT Academy in Lilburn, Georgia. I would imagine that both are very familiar with the media and the repercussions that could occur if their words were to become ‘the shot heard round the internet’. Despite this awareness, their innate behavior reared its head and plunged them forward.
Reds Manager, Bryan Price erupted in a series of F-bombs as he shared his frustration with media leaks about his team. Ms. Gordeuk lost her cool and reverted to racist speech, “Look who’s leaving … all the black people”, after forgetting the Valedictory address and dealing with families who did not want to remain after the graduation ceremony was completed to hear the speech. In the school situation, I get the impression that the principal is inherently racist and losing her cool allowed those private thoughts to bubble up into public words and actions. You can watch the video and judge for yourself.
No matter whether these were personality aberrations or part of Mr. Price and Ms. Gordeuk’s regular behavior patterns, their words were captured for all to hear and make judgment upon their personal brands. Everyone should follow good reputation management principles to monitor their brand and be aware of how they will be perceived. With apps like Periscope, tweeting live streaming video and sound recording devices like Kapture, memorializing our words in bite-size segments, one just might go viral without a marketing plan. Better make sure the product is a good one or you may end up stating “the devil made me do it” on national media.
You can find more information on social media here.
C3. Creating Connections Consulting, in partnership with the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce, is bringing two key social media for business seminars to the Anderson Center in March and April of 2013.
Join C3 and the AACC on Wednesday, March 13th for “Maximizing Social Media Marketing for your Business: An Introduction to Digital”from 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Anderson Center in Anderson Township (7850 Five Mile Road, Cincinnati, OH 45230).
“Maximizing LinkedIn”will be held at the same location on Wednesday, April 10th from 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. There will be a FREE30 minute bonusseminar on Marketing with LinkedIn Company Pages from 4:00-4:30 p.m.
Join social media strategist and former P&G marketer, Michelle Beckham-Corbin as she takes the class from possibilities to execution steps. Register early as space is limited. We will be in the large conference room of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce located in the Anderson Center on Five Mile Road.
Register for the Social Media Marketing Seminar here:
Here’s what others are saying about Michelle’s seminars:
“Michelle is a high-energy person who is exudes a passion for business and personal development. Her enthusiasm for utilizing social media as a tool for strategic marketing is contagiously energizing.
Having graduated with an undergraduate and MBA degree from Xavier, Michelle is continually seeking opportunities to give back to the university. Recently she demonstrated her expertise in strategic marketing and social media by presenting her methodology to university students, alumni, faculty, and business partners during the 2nd Annual “Career Campaign” offered by the Professional Development Center in the Williams College of Business. As a strong and engaging presenter Michelle quickly connected with attendees as she walked them through a step by step plan for developing their on-line presence. Michelle’s outreach to attendees continues beyond the classroom when she offers her contact information and urges others to get LinkedIn with her.”
~Cheryl Wilson, Career Development Coordinator, Williams College of Business- Xavier University.
C3.Creating Connections Consulting to offer pro bono social media marketing and speaking services for non-profits and community organizations in the Cincinnati region in 2013 via the C3 Gives Back Program. Founder Michelle Beckham is a former P&G customer business development and marketing manager who has worked in the digital space since 2005.
One resource that most non-profits and community organizations need, but might not have the budget for is strategic social media marketing consulting or speaker services. C3 helps businesses and organizations create a strategic marketing plan that integrates the most effective social/digital tools for their call to action and target market and teaches them how to create content and engagement strategies for each platform to build customer relationships and business.
Michelle Beckham speaks all over the region on social media marketing topics, reputation management, online branding and internet safety for children. Follow this link for more information.
It is C3’s corporate philosophy to share knowledge and give back to the community whenever possible. Michelle has been a board member for several Cincinnati organizations including: Authentic Leadership-Cincinnati, New Media Cincinnati, IHM Job Search Group, St. Ursula Academy, the Institute for Social Media at Cincinnati State, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Communications Commission and the Procter & Gamble Global Alumni Network Speakers Bureau team.
C3 is instituting a formal request program to meet the needs of non-profits and community organizations in 2013. Organizations can apply for an opportunity each quarter to receive free strategic social media marketing assistance or speaker services for their group.
Must be a 501(c)(3) or community organization within the Cincinnati/Dayton/Northern Kentucky area
Speaking segment limited to a maximum of two (2) hours
Consulting services limited to a maximum of two (2) hours
Deadline for first quarter 2013 requests is 12/31/12.
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!
My name is Michelle Beckham and I’m a Google+ Addict…..Seriously, I feel like an explanation is in order. Since I cleared the Google+ Invite-only list less than two weeks ago, I have submerged myself on a journey of discovery of this new social media application. I have been swimming in the beta test waters with other high end, social media savvy early adopters and I am loving every minute of it!
Google+ has now become the first thing I look at in the morning vs. Email followed by Facebook. Having the Android App on my Motorola Droid also helps to fuel my 24/7 ( ok, I do sleep occasionally…..) addiction. iPhone users just received the app this week, giving Android users a bit of a leg up initially.
These are the reasons why I am waxing poetic about Plus:
Gives me the ability to use Circles to group people for targeted content
Allows me to connect with ANYONE similar to the Follow concept on Twitter
Allows for in-depth discussion within the comments section similar to the wonderful dialogue that occurs in LinkedIn Groups like Authentic Leadership Cincinnati and Facebook Groups, like Cincinnati Social Media
Allows for video conferencing with anyone online and willing to chat with you. These spaces are known as Hangouts.
Allows me to control my photos/albums more closely
Gives me the ability to keep those “back yard bbq conversations” that occur on Facebook with close friends and family separate from business colleagues, clients or others that just don’t need to be connected in a “Friends of Friends” way to your family or kids.
The downside is that since I am such an information junkie, I think I could swim in this sea all day long, just soaking up the content and the conversations. I want to reign myself in, but the competitive side in me wants to master as much as I can before the dyke is opened and the world gains entry.
I have applied to be a business beta tester for C3: Creating Connections Consulting and think that Google + will have huge implications for how companies/brands interact via this platform. While Google is asking that businesses hold off on creating a Google Profile, some have jumped into the ocean already: Huffington Post,Mashable, CBS News, to name a few.
I have a few invitations left, so if you are curious and want to join ahead of the fray, just post your email addy in the comments section below and I will get you started on a whole new way of sharing.
Oh, and I would LOVE to connect with you on Plus. Just follow the link to find my new hide-out!