Social Media Strategy

Making mistakes in making connections

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Mistakes happen.

Some have said that death, taxes, change are inevitable and I would add mistakes to that category.  Errors, gaffs, missteps, flubs are the pathos of human beings. It’s as if we should say, “we breathe, therefore we mess up”.

And it’s no different in the realm of social media.

You hastily put out a comment, quip at a customer or don’t read through an article properly and share it learning only later it contained information that was offensive and then just like that you are in crisis mode. In my case this past week, I sent out a news release en masse without adequately vetting the recipient list.

I’m usually a measure four times cut once kind of girl but at the time I was trying to manage getting our house ready to sell, coordinate with the carpet cleaner, and entertain two exuberant girls and calm some nervous hounds.

In other words, I was in the throes of being a living, breathing honest-to-goodness human being.

I am a reformed perfectionist but parenthood quickly cures you of that (or sends you straight to the bottle!) Mistakes used to sit with me for days, weeks and even years worming their way inside that place in my lizard brain that tells me I am lacking. Now, I am able to let it go and give myself the empathy I have long shown to others.

Constant exposure to f-ing up, as one experiences when you spending your days (and nights) with small children, has helped. No parent is without a whole whack of head-shaking mistakes as the learning curve is so steep. Raising children forces you to be adaptable and more willing to take risks.

The best part of embracing my human-ness is how less hostile and aggressive the world looks now. Suspected barbs become someone having a barbaric day and a sharp email is the simply a overwhelmed sender in a hurry.

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It’s so much easier this way, particularly when you are immersed in social media. Despite the many ways to insert emoticons into correspondence the reality is that without looking directly into someone’s face, you really can’t discern what they mean. Human communication is primarily non-verbal and here we are constructing platforms that remove that essential piece from daily (and near constant) interactions.

Miscommunications are bound to happen.

I learned last week that, for some, that distance and disassociation found in our digital lives has created a harder harsher response to something that should be par for the course (How dare someone actually send me some information in this digital age?! The nerve!)

In others, I experienced the changes I have found on my own path into social media. I found them also conscious of being softer, kinder and willing to educate instead of ridicule or reject just because it’s really hard to convey nuances over 40 characters.  And most importantly I found openness.

Openness – whether it’s a willingness to even come to the table or to create the feast – is what social media is all about.

Sharing is caring, right?

What do you think – has your relationship with social media made you more open or closed?

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Social Media Strategy

Dating Your Audience

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Last week in conversations with clients I was trying to impart the importance of developing a strategy for social media that includes a clear understanding of who you want your audience to be, so I compared thinking about who you want your target audience to be to dating.

My analogy is that just like seeking out a mate, you traditionally don’t decide to date just anyone who shows interest (or we’d see way more six-foot tall active athletes dating seriously stout sexagenarians). What we often do, either purposefully or subconsciously, is to outline which qualities and attributes we find attractive in a person and then set about finding ways to attract those types of prospects.

Whether journaling, in-depth discussions with trusted friends or even in therapy, many of us take the time and effort to determine who it is we want to love (or even just spend an evening with) because it saves us LOTS OF TIME and potentially heartbreak by just going after whoever comes after us.

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When developing a social media strategy with a new client one of the first questions I ask is:

“Who do you want to reach and what would you like them to feel about you?”

Often I receive wide eyes and befuddled expressions in return. Sometimes I even hear “Isn’t the goal of social media to get as many followers/likes/visits as possible?” The feeling is that the higher the number the better your brand/company/service/product is doing.

I would argue that this isn’t the case.

We’ve all known those who date a lot and they all have one thing in common. Whether they obtain their hook-ups by online dating, by being open to set-ups, going to bars or clubs or just by sheer determination and luck, they express the same emotion: some degree of frustration.

Sure they sometimes seem as if they are enjoying the bounty but many suffer from the consequences of superficial interactions, wondering if there isn’t something more out there, something with more substance and permeability.

They also often seem mentally exhausted and drained.

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Psychological research has found real reasons for this. Human beings are just not made to make that many choices although many people still believe that the more choices the better, the reality is that whether they are good or bad, too many choices are too much for us.

Wheedling down your Saturday night adventures to only those with potential might mean more nights with your cat on the couch but will likely create a greater satisfaction with the dates you do go on – even if they don’t turn out to be your soul mate in the end.

My point?

Before embarking on any strategy that involves attracting other people to you, it is best to take time to think about who it is you want to have near you and why or you might be spending way too much time trying to duck out before the entrees or dodge the persistent paramour.

It’s the same on-line: those who are interested in the things you are interested in and with whom you have common ground are more likely to stick with you and buy tickets to your next show, line up for your next book, book your services, hire you to do a job or support the crap out of you and your business because they feel a connection with you and your energies are best served there even if that means you don’t hit some arbitrary benchmark.

So before you start social media first decide who you would like to spend the rest of your career with?

Stacey

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Social Media: Wizard of Oz Style

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The classic film we all end up watching on New Year’s Day came from an actual book by L. Frank Baum.

Lately I’ve been reading “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum to my girls before bed – a feat I find fairly amazing considering they are two and four but that just goes to show you the power of the narrative even for those who are really young.

I’ve never read the actual version (that I remember) but we all know the story quite well by now from the classic 1939 film.

Tonight we’ve arrived at the part where Dorothy has melted the Wicked Witch of the West with a bucket of water and the motely crew of friends returns to The Great and Powerful Oz. They want to cash-in on what he had promised them should the successfully complete the mission he set before them: taking care of the aforementioned witch.

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Dorothy swept up in a tornado and whisked away to this strange land, desperately wants to return to the grey and plain Kansas where her beloved Aunt Em lives.

Her devoted little dog Toto just wants to do whatever his little mistress wants.

The straw-filled Scarecrow wants a head of brains so that he will not be a fool for the rest of his life.

The Tin Woodsman longs desperately for a heart to feel again the love he once lost.

And the Cowardly Lion craves the courage to back up his formidable roar, should anyone ever call him on it.

This odd group journey in some sort of blind faith to the Emerald City in the belief that Oz will make grant all their wishes and make everything all right for them.

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Is this the way to the promise land?

Call me crazy (please just in your heads) but I can’t help by see the similarities of these characters with the different approaches I often see in those considering whether social media is a good thing for their business.

Let me explain:

DOROTHY: She’s innocent, she’s naïve and she’s killing witches left, right and center! She doesn’t grasp that she’s in a whole new (and potentially amazing) world, with infinite possibilities, she just wants to go back to her drab little Kansas with it’s plain, flat countryside.

Why? Because that’s all she knows and she’s scared of the unknown. What’s worse? She doesn’t even get that she’s got all this amazing power inside her (annihilating two slave-driving evil witches in two weeks… that’s pretty badass!)

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Ummm….I’m not feeling like a badass right now! Kansas is which way?

Many look at social media the same way, it’s scary and daunting and all so new.  They are scared to take one step on that yellow brick road because they don’t know where it will lead and they don’t realize the power that they have inside. They want to go back to Kansas, or advertising or marketing the old way even, if it’s not effective because it’s what they know and they feel safe.  Dorothy barely enjoys any of her new experiences, she’s just pines for home.

I get it; it’s hard to be badass on purpose. But if you don’t try, you never get anywhere magical.

SCARECROW:  He wants to know everything now – he wants the followers, the clout the influence NOW! He’ll enlist marketing software or any other ploy to get him Twitter followers FAST and it doesn’t matter what quality they are or even if they are in line with his brand and marketing goals. Who cares right? It’s all about numbers! Or he thinks he can do it all himself; read some books, a few blogs and he’s good to go. There’s no need to ask questions or seek out experience – how hard can it by once he knows how?

What he lacks is not brains, as Oz explains, but experience. Every day, every learning curve, every follower he gains organically, every question he puts out there will make him smarter and savvier on line, but it will take time.

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Think about it….building something worthwhile takes time and experience.

Social Media is a long-term strategy, but like intelligence, once it’s there its value is immeasurable.

TINMAN: Ah la Coeur! The heart!  The woodsman made of tin wants to feel the ache and pain of love, the tenderness of joy and all the other cornucopia of human emotion.  He knows that without an emotional attachment we do not feel tethered to anything.

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Have a heart will ya? But remember to keep your head!

So then, what could be wrong with wanting more heart in your social media strategy? Aren’t we supposed to be engaging others on an emotional level with our business?

Of course, with one caveat.

While it’s important to engage others on the visceral level in order to be effective you need to have a healthy dose of balance of passion and drive.

Negative comments about your company on Facebook or Twitter are not personal attacks instead they are opportunities for growth, to change the discussion and someone’s image of your brand.

Helping and promoting others online is a wonderful way to increase your own brand presence and promote good will but it’s important to focus on what your brand needs. Writing guest posts for fellow bloggers while ignoring your own doesn’t make much sense neither does speaking at a conference that has nothing to do with your business.

A solid plan helps you to address when disgruntled clients or customers arise or to know when online opportunities and relationships are in line with what you are doing or not and that allows you to say “ I’d like the opportunity to change your opinion”, “no thanks” gracefully or to let it go.

Prepare for a little heartbreak and harden your skin like the tin of the woodsman. As he so gracefully notes: “For my part, I will bear all the unhappiness without a murmur, if you will give me the heart.”

COWARDLY LION:  FEAR. It’s the four-letter word that keeps us from reaching out from being authentic and engaging and audacious online. It’s that nagging bit of self-doubt that makes us worry that if we roar loud enough, someone will notice us and challenge us to move outside of our comfort zone.

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We all feel fear sometimes. Courage is doing it anyway!

Some say that it’s easier online, the anonymity makes us braver but I think it’s the opposite. To really be authentic in an environment where people can Photoshop Facebook photos, or everyone is trending a meme you have to look up or using an app you’ve never heard of, is hard.

Damn hard.

Many of us feel like posers but we do it anyway. As Oz tells the anxious beast: “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid…”

How about you? Are you ready?

TOTO:  Sure, loyalty and blind devotion have their place but picking one person and following that person down some sketchy yellow brick road? Nah-uh! Dorothy led him through a poisonous poppy field; he was chased by weird beasts and manhandled by enchanted winged monkeys.

That doesn’t seem like an effective use of his time.

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Speak up son! You aren’t a blind follower!

How many times have you blindly followed without bothering to ask – is this right for me? Challenge the status quo, question motives and create your own opportunities online.

Had that pooch been able to think for himself a little more (or speak but I digress) he might’ve looked over at Dorothy and said “Girl, what’s up with those sparkly shoes? Think they do anything?” and saved himself a whole lot of danger, hunger and circuitous walking.

Just sayin’

THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE OZ: I think Oz is a great analogy for the Internet. A power that seems beyond our control, so mystical and persuasive, fascinating and frightening. An entity that wields a power so intense that it could convince us to build up a big green city and huge palace for it or wear green spectacles all-the-time without question just because it seems to have some special power we don’t.

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Dorothy: I think this guy is just a lot of hot air!

In reality, digital communications and social media are not magical things you should stand in awe of, they are simply tools -fantastic tools- that can help you reach out to others and to tell your story. We power them. We make them magical.

That’s it.

The right person can help your harness the power that social media has to BEST suit your business needs and your vision and can help demystify the enigma.

Always remember behind the smoke and mirrors and theatrics may be a little old humbug balloonist who happened to be at the right place at the right time!

Stacey

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Welcome!

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While you likely aren’t as excited as I am to be here, writing this blog, I am happy you are here. 

I am passionate about what I do; telling stories and helping others to tell their stories so that they reach who they want to reach in the way they want to reach them. We’re hardwired for the narrative, we crave it even in this digital world. The people, products, businesses, artists, mavericks, angels and saints that compel us the most are the ones with whom we can relate with – even if it’s only in our daydreams. 

Join me as I explore, create and challenge all the things in this world that compel me and drive my passion for digital communications that excite and incite others!

Stacey

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