Archive | December, 2011

Reflections

28 Dec

Photo by Augustin Ruiz

Every year I enjoy this quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s relaxed but still full of family. And full of awesome things like the Google Zeitgeist and Top 10 Everything List. All together it lends itself perfectly to reflection. I spend a lot of time journaling and then having late-night discussions with my family. (I believe with Mrs. Brown in National Velvet that big dreams come easier at night.)

I sway back and forth on the merits of New Year resolutions. In my experience, they’re not thought through. They’re not implemented in small enough steps. All together, they usually just end up being guilt trips I can beat myself up with next December. However, maybe if I spent more time on reflecting rather than resolving my goals would come naturally and in easier packages to handle. (BTW, I think dreams should be big, but they don’t make good one-year projects.) Therefore, here are some reflections with resolutions that fit with them. These are all on the professional side. I might share some of my personal reflections here later this week.

1. Reflect on the practical things I learned

Did you learn how to use a new payroll system? Did you finally master a social media tool? Did you earn a certification in anything? Personally, I learned how to use Google+, corporate LinkedIn pages, Google Apps, WordPress domains, and much more about Hootsuite than I had known before.

Resolve to…

  • teach someone else what I’ve learned
  • record my accomplishments in a resume, portfolio or on my LinkedIn profile
  • use these skills to help other individuals and businesses

2. Reflect on the most memorable experiences I had

What did you do professionaly this year that just took your breath away? Did you do something incredibly difficult? Did you do something that you hadn’t before? Did you get to be a part of something awesome? This year I started this adventure known as Magic Bottle Marketing which is turning out to be incredible! I also started writing more frequently on a professional level this year, which has been both a learning and fun experience. Several amazing things happened in my other professional life of politics. Six different times this year I was so very humbled by excellent candidates asking me to be a part of their team.

Resolve to…

  • Give back to those who enabled these amazing experiences
  • Record what happened for future learning and warm fuzzy feelings
  • Help someone else have a similar experience
  • Remain open-hearted and open-minded in the coming year so it too can have awesome experiences

Reflect on the abstract things I realized

Sometimes several different experiences and thoughts collide and snap together in your head for a light bulb moment. Did you have any of these this year? This summer I was fuming over another business I frequent starting a personal Facebook profile for their business when things snapped together in my mind with an almost audible ‘Do it yourself Anna!’ and Magic Bottle Marketing started happening. Another realization this year was a gradual adjusting to new norms with some health issues I’ve had. That may sound more personal, but it certainly affects my professional life.

These abstract things we learn are harder to coalesce into hard goals. For myself, I think I would have come to these realizations sooner and perhaps had more of them if I had been more mindful all the time. Therefore, I

Resolve to…

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Social Art

28 Dec

I was in a creative mood today, but still had to work. If I can’t actually be artistic today I shall at least blog about art, so here are some thoughts about how an artist can use social media effectively.

Feast for the Eyes

People love to look at art. And it is important that they get to look at art in a format designed to compliment it.

Example: Flickr: Flickr has everything you could ever desire for photos. Some of my favorite features are…

  • Tags, a way to describe the elements of a photo. This is also how you search for photos.
  • Sets, a way to group your photos according to whatever theme or criteria you set.
  • Nuanced privacy controls, including type of copyright license, viewing privacy controls, and ability to turn off downloads of photos.

How can a visual artist use Flickr?

  • Portfolio
  • Boosting of search engine returns by distributing images through Creative Commons
  • Secure cloud storage of photos
  • Proofing of orders for customers

Flickr Tip: The best way to get is to give. The more you comment on other people’s work the more attention your work attracts. You’ll find the Flickr community to be a warm and welcoming crowd.

Personalize, Customize, and Switch it Up

People love to consumne media in a customized format. Any piece of art is more fun when it can be interacted with by putting it in our own frame with original commentary.

Example: Pinterest. Pinterest is the digital equivalent of cutting pictures out of a magazine and gluing them into a notebook. My favorite features are…

  • Boards which allow you to categorize everything. It’s an organization dream–nothing can be out of place!
  • Ability to like, comment on, or repin any pin. Express your level of rapture precisely!
  • Share to other social networks as much or as little as you want.
  • Post your own original content or just enjoy everyone else’s.

How can an artist use Pinterest?

  • Reach out to a niche customer
  • Target women consumners (vast majority of Pinterest users are female)
  • Promote all styles of  your work without diluting any section

Pinterest tip: Watermark all your pins with your web address or Twitter handle. Original creator information is easiy lost on Pinterest due more to format than carelessness or maliciousness.

Open-Door Studio

People love the secrets of the back stage. We appreciate the process of creation almost as much as we do the final product.

Example: YouTube. I doubt I have to tell you what it is. 😉 Best features…

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Linked to the mighty Google search engine
  • Opportunity for monetization

Let’s think outside the typical watercolor artist or photographer. Who else can use YouTube for a glimpse into their studio?

  • Fiber artists
  • Sculpture artists
  • Florists
  • Hairstylers
  • Makeup artists
  • Stage designers
  • Prop makers
  • Refurbishers and restorerers

YouTube tip: Edit, edit, edit, and then edit again. We want to see behind the scenes, but we don’t want to watch the paint dry.

Go Live

Everyone wants a piece of face-to-face interaction with the star. They want a personal touch.

Example: Hangouts the video chat feature of Google+. Features…

  • All the cool video elements of Skype but for free
  • Chat with up to 9 other devices.
  • Broadcast and record events on YouTube
  • Take the intimacy of a private back-stage tour global

What can artists use Hangouts for? How about?

  • Concerts–intimate feel of just 10 people but still able to reach as many as a stadium would hold.
  • Comedic acts–guaranteed audience interaction
  • Portraiture, caricature, and cartooning
  • Interviews
  • Business meetings
  • Collaboration and brainstorming with a shared Google Doc or Doodle

Hangout Tip: Involve all 9 people in the conversation and don’t forget the chat box on the left hand side.

Mobile & Future-Tense

26 Dec

I’m a huge fan of original content. I try to keep all of my personal and business social accounts (with the exception of Pinterest)  at least 75% original content (please don’t go run a calculation on my stream. That’s a rough guess.) However, this article was so good that I didn’t want you to miss out. I can tell it was good because it got me thinking and connecting it with other ideas in my head. Please give it a read and then read my response here.

Why Real World Socializing is the Next Big Thing for Social Media by Rene Pinnell

Although Rene doesn’t explicity state it, a theme that emerges for me is that online communications are the catalyst for offline action. Example: Have you ever seen pictures of people owling or planking? This online trend faciliated an entire evening of fun for my family and uncle’s family of doing both at once.

Top to bottom: Nathan, Naomi, Caleb, Isaac, Samuel, Joshua, Ethan

This is a particularly interesting example in that five of the participants and spectators were either inactive or absent entirely from any online social networks. Your actions can be influenced by social media whether you participate or not!

Most of my restuarant choices are driven by my Foursquare friends. My book and movie choices have always been driven by friend recommendations, but now they come via Facebook. I could go on and on, but you see the point.

The disconnect that Rene points out is that right now social networks can only document what we’re doing away from our computer screens. Social media can only talk about it before and after the fact. Anyone who has tried to live tweet an event knows that mobile can’t solve this entirely. In order to document something you lose part of the live experience. This is true even of older technologies. Have you ever felt like you missed an event simply because you were so busy videotaping it?

This is where Rene brings in the concept of adding a future-tense layer in social media. Basically, this would allow social media to be an even better catalyst for offline activity than it is now. In my mind this immediately connected with three services I’m alreadying using: Google+, Schemer, and Foursquare.

  • Google+: if I’m going to plan activities online I don’t want to handle the social drama of deciding who can come and who should know. Google+ circles are the answer.
  • Schemer: Rene looks very ignorant for writing an article about Schemer without mentioning them by name. If he had written it 2 months ago though he would have been prophetic. Schemer obviously is still in its infancy, but the possibilities here are huge.
  • Foursquare: Facebook recently launched a messenger app to work in conjunction with its primary mobile app. What if Foursquare had a messenger app? You could invite friends to check-in at a certain place at a certain time and it would notify the venue of your plans. You could choose the privacy level of both the event and of the messages. It would be both a social calendar and a reservations system.

One final thought. I haven’t yet tried the apps Rene and team have created: foreca.st and Hurricane Party. I have downloaded foreca.st and will let you know how it goes! I thought it was highly commendable fo Rene to write an article that is so close to his product without once pitching his apps. Cheers, Rene!

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

Magic Bottle Marketing wishes you and your’s a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous, joyful New Year! May the holiday season bring you closer to the Babe in the manger!

Photo by Ben124

Claremore Christmas Roundup

23 Dec

I love the experiences of Christmas. I can stuff myself, see family, and buy presents anytime during the year and I do. Christmas for me then is first about my faith and then about the experiences. Here are some photos and information about my favorite Claremore Christmas experiences. Some of these are new to me this year, like the Claremore High School and Will Rogers Junior High Christmas concert. Others are favorites I missed out on this year, such as Dickens on the Boulevard. Sadly, it might be too late for you to get enjoy a few of these 2011 experiences, but there’s always next year! (I don’t follow the Mayan calendar…)

Dickens on the Boulevard

This always feels like the start of the Christmas season for me. It’s a sidewalk festival hosted by all the downtown businesses of Claremore and the Claremore Chamber. There are all kinds of activities inside the shops, but my favorite part is dancing down Main Street.

Photo by Melodrama Maniac

Some folks dress up in period costumes, but everybody dances. There’s also a shoot out at least once.

Photo by SBavido

Claremore Christmas Parade

I love parades period, but Claremore’s Christmas parade, sponsored by the Claremore Chamber, is especially fun because it’s a lights extravaganza night parade! Sadly, I could find no pictures of the parade large enough for you to enjoy. 😦 If you have any, please share them!

Christmas at the Belvidere

The Belvidere Mansion is worth a visit anytime of year, but they go all out at Christmas. The decorations are extravagent, vintage, and beautiful.

Photo from the Rogers County Historical Society

Oklahoma weather is amusing. Here’s the outside of the Mansion decked out for Christmas and the grass is still green!

Boughs of Holly!

Living Nativity at Shepherd’s Cross

Christmas cards are beautiful things, but they can give us a somewhat (dare I say it?) Hallmark view of the first Christmas. When you actually get to pet a donkey and sit on hay in the cold the very realistic beauty and truth of Christmas hits home.

Photo from Shepherd's Cross

This little fellow is pretty enough to be on a card though, don’t you think?

Photo from Shepherd's Cross

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

I attend NPTBC and sadly we haven’t done a Christmas Eve service in a while. So I trot up Talbert Hill and go to First United Methodist’s service. Candlelight services are not just visually beautiful, but the perfect spiritual analogy for what Christmas did.

Photo by ineffable_pulchritude

And the bigger candles…

Photo by L.C.Nøttaasen

What does your town do for Christmas? What are you favorite experiences?

 

Do You Have A Comment, Sir?!

21 Dec

I’ve been posting a lot about social media from a business standpoint lately. Let’s shake it up slightly by talking about a way to build your personal professional reputation online. Don’t worry–this is not another how-to plug for LinkedIn. I’m thinking of comments.

You can do a great deal of engaging without having your own blog or Facebook page by posting insightful comments. I have found this to be the best way to engage other experts and professionals in a field. Think about it. You have to know a lot about something to actually write something interesting about it. An ignorant person or a bad writer can make fireworks boring on paper. If  you find an informative, entertaining blog in a subject your profession touches on, you have probably found an influencer. Second, it’s almost as good as brownies when it comes to worming your way into someone’s heart. Anyone who creates reacts like a puppy to beef jerky when it comes to comments. Third, it develops a relationship and keeps your name in front of people–and in a format that has a link to your business too!

What should you comment on? Depends on what part of your online reputation you’re trying to build. Are you trying to connect with former or potential customers or with other professionals in your field? If you have the time I would recommend both. For example, my blog and social media consumption has two main categories: local and marketing.

I’ve talked about the local scene some before. It is very important that I be up on the local scene. It’s my customers’ customers! What are they talking about? What are they doing? What do they like and dislike? Bloggers aren’t average usually, but they’re quite often trend setters. In social media there is a lot crossover between staying up on the local scene and building relationships with potential customers.

Marketing blogs are just for my own education. I want my skills to stay sharp and up-to-date. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m just following social media blogs. I follow Julie Walraven even though Magic Bottle Marketing does nothing with employment services because Julie uses social media masterfully. And she’s a wonderful person. I follow Jessica Miller-Merrill and Rayanne Thorn because Xceptional HR is a leader in its field (HR) for social media. And because Jessica’s an Okie.

What should you say? I am assuming you are all kind, decent human beings who would never post a spammy comment asking someone to click on anything. You should…

  • Comment more than one sentence. ‘Sweet’ and ‘Cool’ are not real engagement.
  • Ask for clarification or application. Better yet, provide an application or example yourself!
  • Say what you liked about the post.
  • Ask a further question.
  • Relate an experience that confirms or contradicts the article in a succinct manner—they only care how your cat relates to the post, not actually about your cat.

Guy Kawasaki wrote a post specifically about comments on Google+, but I think a lot of it can be applied to any platform.

If you have personal interests that don’t match your business consider using two accounts for comments. I use my personal accounts to comment on friends’  stuff and political blogs. I’m not doing anything I’m ashamed of–it’s just a matter of brand building. I have a personal brand in politics and I don’t want to dilute it or Magic Bottle Marketing’s brand by blending them.

Now, a confession.  I have not fully applied all of this post to myself. You can all hold me accountable now!

Nonprofit Advantage

16 Dec

As I was writing yesterday’s post I kept trying to work in some points and mentions of noprofits using social media, but I just couldn’t reconcile vernacular like ‘returning customers’ and ‘sales leads’ with the image of a hospice volunteer or pastor of a small church. So, I decided to give them their own post. In fact, they’ll probably get several. After all, their goals are very different from a business, so naturally their social media techniques are going to be different as well. Not only will their social media be different, but I think it will also be easier for nonprofits. Why? Nonprofits do better at social media because, on average, they understand relationships better than businesses.

Take churches for example. I refer to my own church as my church family. We help each other out, take care of each other, hold each other accountable, help each other succeed, feed each other, swap kids like they’re merchandise, make music together, study together… Isn’t this panning out to be a great definition of relationships? We are not a social club–all of these actions have a spiritual reward and benefit. I won’t go into those here–go ask a pastor! The point is that a church functions off of relationships even in completley nondigital cultures. It is a hop and a skip for a church to then use social media. 

Nonprofits have another advantage of businesses. Nonprofits can galvanize their networks to act with passion. Businesses have one action they want their networks to do: buy their service/product! It is extremely difficult to urge buying something without damaging a relationship, sounding spammy, or coming across as pushy. Are there more consumners than volunteers? Sure there are. I’m just saying it’s easier to engage volunteers than it is consumners.

A good example of this are political groups. They show the magic of niche groups better than any marketing webinar I’ve seen. There are groups for every concern you could have and then they’re specialized to location. The very fact that somoene has identified themselves online with this group, whether that be by following them on Twitter or liking their page on Facebook, most likely means they are looking for a way to do something about its specialized concern. Its interaction handed you to on a gold platter!

Finally, one last social media bonus. Nonprofits are active. It is the easiest thing in the world to post interesting content for a nonprofit because they are constantly doing.

Consider a hypothetical social media profile of a Big Brothers, Big Sisters county chapter. What type of content is available to post for such a group?

  • Local activities
  • Local school information and activities
  • Latest media pieces on mentoring
  • Latest media pieces on the national group
  • Guides and how-tos (Should you friend your little brother on Facebook? Are you allowed to post pictures of your little sister on Tumblr?)
  • Activities the county chapter is sponsoring (fundraisers!)
  • Children movie reviews
  • Children book reviews
  • We could go on and on…

Hopefully, soon, this case won’t be hypothetical. Stay tuned…

So, what is your favorite nonprofit’s social profile like? Please link to them!