Guilt Free Social Media

5 Apr

Moose as captured by OakleyOriginals on Flickr

I like to make people happy. I like to see them laugh. So imagine my dismay when in what has been a perfectly relaxed conversation I bring up Google+ or blogging or Twitter and the person looks like a dog caught being naughty. Apologetic excuses for how often they post or whether they’re even participating start tumbling out. “NoI’mnot and IknowIshouldbe but Ijust <awkward pause> haven’t been able to get into it that much butIhearit’sreallygreat.” It almost makes me regret bringing it up.

Here’s another scenario. Some of my friends don’t have a lot of time for personal use of social media so I’m always happy to see that they’ve posted something new. I know it’s a big deal for them to get to sit down and send a message out to us and I’m honored that I get to read it. What does it say 75% of the time? “Sorry I haven’t been on much.”

And then I scream at my computer screen!

Seriously, is that all you have to tell me?! Why did you bother posting then?!

Note: this blog post pertains only to use of social media for personal reasons. None of these apply to a business’ use of social media.

If you have been feeling bad about neglecting your blog or favoring one network over another or not trying the new kid on the social block, today is your lucky day.

I am hereby declaring your emancipation from social media guilt!

Yes! This is your get-out-of-jail-free card! If anyone ever tries to guilt trip you you can point them to this page! Here’s why you shouldn’t be guilty.

1. Relationships are what matter

As long as you’re still communicating with your family and close friends in some manner, why do you have to do Facebook or any other social network? And not all relationships need communications on minute happenings.

2. Networks are a matter of preference

Not even businesses need to be on every social network, so why should you? If that’s just your thing (ME! That’s my thing!), fine. If not, don’t let my activity make you feel guilty! That’s certainly not why I do it! Find a network that you enjoy and that works for you and just stick with it.

3. Social media should be fun!

Picture by ADoseOfShipBoy on Flickr

 

You have enough work already! Communicating with friends should be a pick-me-up and not a chore!

So, there you go! Enjoy your new-found freedom and let’s party!

 

Mandy Vavrinak @ #SMTulsa

27 Mar

Mandy Vavrinak is a public relations and integrated marketing professional, wife, mother, Apple fan girl, and owner of Crossroads Communications, LLC. She spoke at the 2012 Social Media Tulsa Conference about the Relevance Revolution: How Social Media Functions As Life’s Big Filter.¬†I live plussed her talk on my personal Google+. This is a consolidation of my notes there, Mandy’s slides from Slide Share, and her own writeup on her blog. Even those don’t quite capture the experience as Mandy is an energetic speaker and had a fun interaction with the crowd. All pictures from Captured Charms Photography.

Picture by Captured Charms Photography

In The Beginning…

In the misty past people filtered the information needed to make a decision or choice through the people they knew who were geographically close to them. Some of this was intentional (such as who you decided to ask about a dentist) and some of it was already filtered for you (you wouldn’t inquire about a business two towns over because you wouldn’t know about it and couldn’t use it conveniently.)

And then came the interwebz!

The internet is a firehose of information making filters even more important. Our networks have been digitized and platforms compete for the best algorithim features to make their content most relevant.

Google has just implemented Search Plus Your World designed to make search results more personalized, and what’s that key word? RELEVANT! Facebook filters your stream according to who you interact with most. Pinterest is a little backwards in that its filtering has to be done manually by you choosing which boards to follow. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Twitter just acquired Posterous. Mandy predicts that Twitter will apply the feel and UI of Spaces to Twitter lists, which currently suck in her (and mine) opinion.

Power plugs were hard to come by...

Basically, all of this boils down to the consumners saying “I want relevant information from a trusted source about a topic I care about in a way I can hear it and when I want it.

Websites learn what’s relevant to you as a user by tracking the following.

  • Web history–what did you search for? Which sites did you visit?
  • Actions taken–what did you interact with?
  • Time spent–what held your interest and for how long?

A big lesson for us content creators is don’t create content just to say you posted it. Crappy content is still crap and makes for a crappy king! Create relevant content!

To guide you in creating that relevant content ask yourself The New 5 Ws!

  • Who is going to care about this?
  • Where do those people hangout online?
  • What do they do on that network? What are their goals on that site?
  • When are they looking for it on that network?
  • Why should they choose you?
  • Once you’ve considered all of the above ask how are you going to share this content?

If you do not follow the path of The New 5 Ws and create relevant content you will be a time suck! No one wants to have their time sucked away by having to wade through irrelevant material! If you have your social networks linked together and synced up spewing out the same content at the same time GO HOME AND CHANGE THAT! (didn’t I blog about this once?)

 

Speak Up Google!

26 Mar

This article by J.C. Kendall was originally published on his company’s website, TekPersona. Reprinted with his permission.

Image Provided by TekPersona

Think back a moment: all the way to Sept 30, 1997.  Do you remember what happened?

On that early morning, a few employees of Microsoft took a huge metal version of the Internet Explorer Logo, placed it on the front lawn of the Netscape headquarters in Mountain View, and took enough pictures of it there to make sure that nobody in media would be without a shot of their own for their stories.

That day was the launch date of IE4.0, and the date when the fate of Netscape was decided forever.  We would win, and they would lose.  We had a demonstrably better browser, and it was free.  Game over.  We shoved our arms down their throat, and cut of their oxygen until they died.  That is BUSINESS.

That was the end game, not the beginning.  For the past two years, Microsoft had made a point of taking their medicine over every actual deficiency with versions 1 through 3 of IE, they made sure that not a single untruth or exaggeration about the product was unchallenged.

The media at that time was in love with Marc Andreessen, the kid fresh from College who was going to take down those big bullies in Redmond.  (Sound familiar?)  To the Silicon Valley press, it was as if Andreessen’s flatulence was of the fragrance of Strawberries.  The media had their story, and they were sticking to it.

That meant that everything Microsoft did in combating Netscape was treated with hostility unlike anything we had ever seen before in Redmond.  For Microsoft to be competing with the little Mountain View startup from (admittedly) behind, meant that we were to some, trying to take the food out of the mouths of Netscape infants and feed it to our wolves, or Steve Ballmer.

The fact is, Internet Explorer 3.0 was also a better browser than Netscape‚Äôs version, but the media would not say so, even in the face of unassailable evidence.¬†¬†It was faster, it was more secure, had more features, and did I mention FREE? The technical media decided that Free was a bad thing, if it meant that Andreessen and Netscape would not slay the Dragon of the Pacific Northwest.¬†¬†It was ‚Äúunfair‚ÄĚ, it was ‚Äúpredatory‚ÄĚ and to many it was ‚Äúillegal‚ÄĚ.

No matter that thousands of Small-to-Medium businesses benefitted from being able to use a state-of-the-art Browser without undertaking another hit to their bottom lines.  We were evil, and that is all that mattered to the Tech Media.

In the areas where the media was unfair, we went after them with a vengeance, made them print retractions, explain themselves, and their testing methodologies to the point where it was easier for the Media to simply tell the truth about our product, than for them to have anyone from Building 22 pick up the phone and throw down on them.

As you know, the Technical Media‚Äôs favorite whipping boy¬†at the moment¬†is Google +, which by any measure is a fantastic product, with the fastest adoption rate of any web site in the history of the Internet.¬†However, if you read or listen to Tech Media, Google + is a ‚ÄúGhost town‚ÄĚ, a ‚Äúfailure‚ÄĚ, and a place where almost nothing of interest is happening.¬†The media is not only pushing these stories weekly, by quoting nobody but each other, they are ramping up their zeal against Google with blatant lies and falsehoods,¬†mis-quotes, exaggerations and more.

Google’s response?

Crickets.

I have been imploring Google for weeks now to answer the Media with a series of FACTS about their product to combat the meme that is beginning to take hold.  “Google + is a loser, and if you use it, it means you are a loser too. “  Once this idea is firmly established, it will not matter what Google does, the product will never reach its potential.

Microsoft set the stage where upon the release of IE 4.0, that the media had no choice but to be honest and admit that Netscape had been surpassed by a free product. Market share of browser usage shifted almost overnight, and by the end of the year, the writing was on the wall for the boys in Mountain View who said they were going to bury us.  (We never forgot that).

Google need not get into any fights, they only need correct the inaccuracies and let the media know that they will hold them to account.  Once that happens, they will have no choice but to tell the truth and the truth is clear.  Google + rocks, and is the single best Social Media platform for both individuals and businesses alike. Those are simple facts. Why would Google not want to say so?  Why would Google not want to point out what happened to the user base at Skype when G+ members discovered Hangouts?

Why has Google not spoken to businesses like mine that are literally saving hundreds of dollars per month from the combination of Google + Hangouts and Google Voice for their corporate communications?  Where is the [insert expletive here:] case study, Google?

At this rate, without Google changing course,  there will come a point where Google + cannot get good enough to combat the perception that it is a failure in the marketplace, and that its users are a only bunch of geeks and early adopters who buy nothing but computer games.

It is time, Google to respect your users, and the businesses that reside on this forum, by not allowing the Media to poison your well of users into undesirable market segments.  You need to tell the Media who we are, and you need to tell them why we love and use your product. So far, your efforts in this regard have been anemic to the point of meaningless.  I do business here.  I bring my clients here.  How about showing us some appreciation, by defending our reasons for being here?

I am not suggesting that at some point, you might want to put a giant Google + Logo on the front steps over at Facebook.  Nevertheless, if you ever do, I can give you the phone number to a shipping company familiar with such activities.

Netscape thought we were childish with the logo stunt, but to that, I say ‚ÄúIf you done it, it¬†aint¬†braggin.‚ÄĚ

Go Get Um, Google!

(disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing the Internet Explorer Browser of today, which due to lack of competition has suffered greatly.  I love and use Chrome, because Chrome just rocks.  )

Liz Strauss @ #SMTulsa

20 Mar

I had the extreme honor and pleasure of live plussing the 2012 Social Media Tulsa Conference last week! I will be posting the summary of my notes and live plusses here and on my personal Google+ page. First in the series is the opening keynote!

Liz Strauss¬†works with corporations and entrepreneurs to create, identify and leverage unique, real-time opportunity. She is a strategist, the CEO and founder of SOBCon, author of the popular Successful-Blog.com, a keynote speaker, and a storyteller. She was the keynote speaker at Social Media Tulsa 2012 Conference. I live plussed her talk on my personal Google+ account. This is the summary of her talk from those notes. I wasn’t able to find a SlideShare of her talk.

Liz had flown into Tulsa directly from Austin where she spoke at SXSW Interactive. She is obviously a real workhorse because she had lost her voice in Austin and had to give her whole talk in a whisper.

Liz started her talk by asking people in the audience “What is the best thing that ever happened to you personally or to your business?” Answers ranged from being born to good parents, to having a daughter born with a disability that inspired a home business, to rescuing abused animals, to quitting a job. A funny point was when Liz sat in a gentleman’s lap and asked “What is the best thing to ever happen to you, besides me sitting on your lap?” Alas, I did not get a picture of it!

Liz then transitioned to the meat-n-potatoes part of her talk…

7 Elements of Strategy

First, Liz defined strategy as a¬†realistic system to advance achievements over time by leveraging opportunity. She emphasized that it’s a¬†living, changing thing that is being implemented and modified constantly.

The 7 elements are nonlinear, but if we had to put them in a list it would be…

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Position
  • Conditions
  • Decisions
  • Networks
  • Systems

Vision and mission are not the same thing, but it’s easier to talk about them together. You have to have a vision to have a mission.¬†Vision is destination.¬†It’s the answer to questions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Where do you want to go?” It’s choosing a future so you can make it happen. Your vision is tied up in your identity and values. When you have a clear identity and vision you are easy to remember and share.

Mission is a calling and a commitment to that calling.¬†It’s the answer to questions like “Why?” and “How?” Knowing where you’re going is irresistibly attractive. Work is work, but a quest is valiant and noble.¬†JFK’s vision was a space program better than the Soviet’s. His mission was to put a man on the moon and safely return him back to earth. This was a bigger vision and mission than he could accomplish on his own, but people will naturally follow whoever is moving with vision on a focused mission.

Position is your unique playing field.¬†Every position is a unique opportunity. Opportunities are all around us–we just don’t necessarily see them. You have to know your position so you know how to proceed. Find out if you’re on a mountain or by the river before you buy a boat!

Position is a lot of quantitative¬†information. Everything from property, expertise, packaging, and communication to¬†competence,¬†competition, size, and systems. Don’t say “I know this stuff already.” Make yourself articulate it!¬†Questions that help you understand your position sound like identity questions. Are you an individual or a company, new or experienced, guide or teacher?

Position is also qualitative relationships. It’s your¬†goals, values, dreams, passion, and people who help the business thrive. Values attract ideal partners, customers, employees, and opportunities.

Quantitative and qualitative positions together are the value proposition. Apparently Liz has another talk entitled “Putting the Values Back Into the Value¬†Proposition”.

As a side note to position, Liz states that most people spend too much time thinking about their competition. The truth is that there so many differences between people (and their missions, values, positions) and each difference creates another opportunity. So, there are more than enough opportunities for everyone!

Conditions are changing opportunities. Conditions include things like cycles, trends, the spread of an idea or technology. You can turn those into opportunities by not swinging with the pendulum. Zag when the world zigs! Fill the vacuum!

Decisions is the act of eliminating any other option. It’s a moment of truth. You are now¬†committed¬†completely¬†to this one choice. Sometimes we shy away from committing fully to something because we’re afraid it will be permanent. It’s not.¬†Your path will find you if you just step out decisively.

My notes on Networks and Systems ran together. If it’s confusing, it’s my fault and not Liz’s and you should contact her.

Deeply connected networks attract fiercely loyal fans.¬†Well-thought systems keep people coming back.¬†We think that people that think like us are smart. And people who don’t must be stupid or difficult, right?!¬†Be mission critical to other folks missions.¬†Start with people who love you now.¬†The more you can put your values out and stand by them the more you will draw similar people to you. Be sure to celebrate your heroes–they are the best examples of your values. Narrow niches offer wider opportunities. Liz says that the internet has obliterated geographic niches and there are now only expertise niches.

If you’re a consultant and looking for your first client people tell you not to lower your price. What they’re saying is that people who share your values will value you and your work like you do and pay your price. If not, they ask you to lower your price. They have to be converted. They don’t usually stay converted.

Raise a barn. Don’t build a coliseum.¬†Ask the best to help build what they need.¬†Use systems to make building easier, faster, and more meaningful.¬†If¬†they¬†build it… they will bring their friends.

 

Social Media Tulsa Conference 2012

13 Mar

March 15th and 16th, this Thursday and Friday, is the second annual Social Media Tulsa Conference! I am so excited to get to attend AND live plus it! Here some basic intro information and what sessions I am most excited for!

What is Social Media Tulsa?

Social Media Tulsa (or #SMTulsa) started as a monthly meetup group (which it still is!) and has grown into a website, social media accounts, a support and ideas network, a digital Chamber of Commerce of sorts, AND a conference!

The conference will be at the downtown¬†Tulsa Hyatt¬†and start with registration at 9 am Thursday with the keynote following at 10 am. It’s a nonstop partying classroom all that day and the next! There will be a blogger’s lounge, keynotes, breakout sessions, a showing of Twittamentary, a Tweetup, and as many Google+ Hangouts as I can squeeze in!

What’s exciting?

Mandy Vavrinak

My friend Mandy Vavrinak will be talking about the Relevance Revolution on Thursday right after lunch. We use people’s opinions and experiences as time saving mechanism all the time. Now, that advice is filtered through social media–and it went global! But I’m sure Mandy will have more interesting things to say about it.ūüôā

Next on the list is Who Let the Dogs Out? or Social Pets at 1 on Friday. Why? Because I’m a dog person.ūüôā

TillmanSkates.com

And then I’m torn because overlapping the amazing rollerblading dog is a Pinterest support group, which just sounds like too much fun! Any ideas on how to do both?

What will you be adding to the event?

I will be live plussing as many sessions as I can attend and type out notes for!

I will be doing as many Google+ Hangouts as time allows. I want to introduce Plussers to Tulsa and Tulsans to Google+!

Circle me on Google+ and let me know you want in the #SMTulsa circle in order to catch all this goodness!

Wow! What should I do now?

You should register for the conference on EventBrite and support the amazing sponsors who make this possible! You should also send karma to Cheryl Lawson who asked me to live plus the conference!

This year’s sponsors include Party Aficionado, Cherry Street Studios, Social Media Examiner, Captured Charms Photography, Tulsa Humane Society, Focus Consulting, Kalvin Kleen Mobile Marketing, MyMedLab, Tulsa Food Guy, Skinny Scoop, Apartment Guide, Other World Computing, Vocus, Summerside Vineyards, Natural Balance Pet Food, and Concord Keystone.

Embrace the Taboo: Pricing

10 Mar

Photo by Soham_Pablo

Money is a taboo in our culture. We’ve all been told, don’t ever be the first to bring up money in the hiring process. We say that there are three things not to be discussed in polite company, but money is possibly the worst. You really shouldn’t talk about money with your date either. So you definitely shouldn’t ask me how much Magic Bottle Marketing’s social media services is going to cost your business, right? WRONG!

I won’t try to¬†explain¬†why¬†people think you shouldn’t talk about money, because I have no idea. I always want to see the figures up front. I can tell you why that is!

  • Money is often the deciding factor. I can either work for that amount or I can’t. I have this much money to spend, so I can either afford it or I can’t. I am already doing two volunteer projects so I simply don’t have the time for a pro bono job. These are cut and dry decisions that rest on number. I would rather know that number sooner rather than later.
  • It tells me a lot about who I am talking to. How much someone is asking for or willing to pay tells me how much they know about the market, the product in question, what type of project they’re doing, how serious and¬†committed¬†they are, etc, etc…
  • It saves me and them a lot of time. If I don’t like what I find out in the above two bullet points I want to know that right away so I don’t waste anyone’s time discussing a project that will never be.

So how much does social media for local businesses from Magic Bottle Marketing cost?

My pricing is similar to a restaurant’s pricing–pick two sides and an entree for $10 set-up. Your choices are…

Sides

  • LinkedIn company page
  • Facebook business page
  • Twitter

Entrees

  • Google+ company page
  • Pinterest

Appetizers

  • FourSquare venue
  • Google Places setup
  • 1 Google Adwords campaign
  • 1 Facebook ad campaign
  • FourSquare special setup

Appetizers are a one-time only fee—$50 for each. Obviously, campaigns and specials can be purchased multiple times. Your first two sides are $100 each per month, but the third is just $50 per month. Entrees are $150 per month. You can get a combo dinner (two sides and an entree) for $300 per month.

What are you paying for?

You are mostly paying for content creation and expert knowledge of how each platform can be customized to your business and its goals. Thus, sites whose content requires more time and effort (Google+ and Pinterest) cost more. Services that are a one-time only creation (campaigns and specials) cost less.

Pricing is something I thought about for months before I even bought the domain magicbottlemarketing.com. After surveying the local industry, I decided that my market niche would be affordable, customized content creation for social media for businesses. That niche was empty. Most businesses right here in Claremore either have no social media presence at all, are struggling to manage it on their own, or are being overcharged for setup only, content poor, non-customized social media accounts. And none of my competitors list their pricing up front.

You have better options! Please drop me a line at anna@magicbottlemarketing.com or give me a ring on my cell at 918-933-2303 and let’s get your business on the path to social success that’s affordable!

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