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How Technology is Compromising the Human Condition

August 30, 2014

alone with our phones

I see dead people. No, I see zombies. They walk aimlessly down the street and swerve into my lane on the highway. They’re not under the spell of a witch or voodoo overlord; they’re controlled by their smartphones.

I See Zombies Everywhere

Zombies have taken over planet Earth. As I walk past a gym, zombies (in workout clothes) exit. Arm extended, phone in palm, shoulders hunched forward. Forget about making eye contact. These zombies are focused on the latest text, tweet or email. They can’t be bothered by humans.

texting-while-drivingWhen a car swerves briefly into my lane, or when a driver is going 35 MPH in a 70 MPH zone, it’s invariably driven by a zombie: one hand on the wheel, the other holding a phone.

Eyes pointed straight down. Talented zombies use two phones, while steering the car with the backs of their hands.

Visit a restaurant these days and you’ll see zombies seated at the bar, eating a meal by themselves. Fork in one hand, phone in the other. It’s difficult to tell which they enjoy more (food or phone). Forget about talking to the bartender or to other patrons. The phone rules.

Oh, and have you seen the deranged zombies? Their Bluetooth earpiece is neatly hidden. As you approach them, they’re talking really loud. It’s just the two of you on the street, so you say, “What?” The zombie pays you no attention, walks on by and continues his conversation.

Technology and The Human Condition

Call me an old timer, but I’m concerned about technology’s impact on the human condition. I remember the B.C. era (“Before Cellphone”). We made eye contact, we made conversation. We talked to strangers. We talked to friends.

Today? We make more eye contact with our phone’s camera lens (selfies!), while human-to-human conversation is at historic lows. We’re so concerned about the email that arrived two minutes ago that we may not see the car that’s swerving onto the sidewalk.

Let’s consider how we got here.

Why We’re Victims of Technology

Hyperconnectedness

blackberry smartphone

It all started with the BlackBerry. Early generations of the device looked like extra-large pagers.

But these pagers were electronic handcuffs. Now, your inbox followed you wherever you went.

To the gym, to the beach or to sleep, the BlackBerry would buzz on each new email.

And the world would never be the same.

Now, you could email the VP Sales for a pricing request and she’d reply one minute later. You could invite a friend for dinner and know that he’d reply in an hour or less. You could lie on the beach for the afternoon, but still keep tabs on your inbox.

It’s Our Primary Channel of Communication

The phone was a fabulous piece of technology. We could speak to one another across large distances. Today, smartphone users under 20 may not know about the “phone” in their smartphone. Adults have followed suit.

Related Post: 10 Reasons Texting Has Taken Over the World

We speak to each other far less than before. Instead, we text, email and chat. For important life moments, we no longer call family members. Instead, we’ll post to Instagram or Facebook and let them learn about it there.

FOMO becomes FOMU

Our “fear of missing out” has become a “fear of missing (the most recent) update.” I’m guilty of this for sure: I’m quick to check for the latest email and the most recent Twitter mention or Facebook Like.

Technology has created this constant anxiety of “staying on top of things,” as if there’s value in seeing an email minutes after it arrives. That’s why some people sleep with their phone by their side, and invite it to buzz on each new message. When you disrupt sleep, you disrupt the human condition.

Why I’m Concerned

Health and Safety

Scientists have studied links between cell phone use and cancer risk (see this fact sheet from the National Cancer Institute and this CNN article about a World Health Organization study). My gut tells me that prolonged use of cell phones can have harmful, long term effects on the body.

There are more direct hazards, too. One afternoon, I left my office to grab lunch. I was checking email as I walked to my car. Because I wasn’t fully aware of my surrounding environment, I nearly walked into an oncoming car.

A Forbes article notes that “texting distractions may have been a contributing factor in the 4,280 pedestrian traffic fatalities recorded during 2010,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Technology Will Continue to Develop and Evolve

together yet alone

Consider Google Glass.

On the one hand, technology gets more seamlessly integrated (e.g. check email via Glass).

On the other hand, it makes it even easier to disengage from more meaningful human connection (e.g. check email on Glass while your friend is trying to talk to you).

When they visit my house, I say hi to the friendly delivery staff from FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service. Those conversations will take a different form when those deliveries are performed by drones.

I’m concerned about the evolution of the human species. With continued advances in technology, will we lose the ability to talk to one another?

What We Can Do About It

Let the Phone Wait

I used to have a rule where I’d come home from work and put away the phone. It would sit in a drawer until after dinner’s been eaten and the dishes washed. Later that evening, I’d open the phone to check for calls, texts and emails. Sadly, that rule fell by the wayside.

But I ought to return to it.

We need to seize control back from the phones who rule us. Aside from emergencies, let the phone wait! The email you received a minute ago can wait an hour. Heck, it’s not the end of the world if you reply to that email tomorrow.

The key is to condition yourself. Maybe you need a habit like mine (though I hope you do a better job sticking to it). We’ll live healthier lives if we arrange for periods where we “make the phone wait.”

Alternatively, you could go to a summer camp like the one described in this New York Times article.

Go Out and Meet New People

go out and meet people

Technology has a way of hardening our shell or keeping us within a bubble.

When you’re immersed in your email, checking your Twitter stream or responding to a text, you’re not “available” to those around you.

Technology makes it too easy to be in a room full of people, but really be alone to ourselves. So make it a point to meet five new people each week. Beyond getting their names, get to know their stories, their interests and their passions.

If you’ve developed online relationships (e.g. via Twitter), arrange to meet in person. The human connection is unique and special.

Learn to Enjoy and Appreciate Your Surroundings

In the Bay Area, my average weather day is 70 degrees and sun. Depending on where I am, I can get views of the Bay, giant Sequoia trees or the Golden Gate Bridge. But I can be blind to it all if my face is planted in my phone.

When we immerse ourselves in technology, it makes us take things for granted. We must find occasions to leave the world of our inbox and explore the larger world around us. This is a behavior that must be learned and reinforced.

Now when I grab lunch at work, I’ll leave the phone in my pocket and enjoy the afternoon weather. But I can feel the phone calling out to me and I’ll sometimes suffer a relapse. I’ll pull out the phone and check email. Meanwhile, another car is pulling out of its parking spot.

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think? Are you comfortable with where technology is heading? Are you concerned about the future of human-to-human connection and interaction?

Let’s continue the conversation below. And if I ever bump into you on the street, please call me out if my face is stuck in my phone. I may have been zombie-fied!

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Why Personal Branding Begins at an Early Age (and What to Do About It)

December 7, 2013

Photo source: Dave Lawler on flickr.

Introduction

I asked a class of tenth grade students how many of them have a personal brand. A few looked around the room to see who raised their hand. One student did. And that was it.

When I grew up, the Internet did not exist. Back then, personal branding was centered around experiences and achievements and how they combined to form a reputation – you know, tangible things. Today, those things still matter for your personal brand, but so much of that brand is formed online.

Junior Achievement Program

San Mateo High School

Photo: I visited a tenth grade class at San Mateo High School.

My visit to a tenth grade classroom was part of a Junior Achievement program called JA Career Success.

Junior Achievement is “the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.” (learn more: Junior Achievement website)

The JA Career Success program consists of seven sessions. I participated in the seventh session, which is titled “Get Hired: Know Your Personal Brand.” The session’s objectives, as defined by JA:

  1. Explore how to hunt for a job and the tools needed
  2. Determine choices they can make to create a positive personal brand as they build their careers

Why We All Have a Personal Brand

An informal poll of the classroom determined that every student is on Facebook (although their teacher does not use the service), 15% are on Twitter and everyone has an Apple device at home (iPhone, iPad or iPod). In short, these students grew up with mobile devices connected to the Internet.

So I told the students: if there’s one thing you remember from today’s program, it’s this:

You’re online, which means that you already have a personal brand.

Well said.

In other words: whether you like it or not, the digital footprints you’re leaving across the Internet are the embodiment of your personal brand. By being aware and proactive, you can manage that brand. By being reactive and unaware, it gets managed for you.

So let’s consider ways in which you can start managing your personal brand. And yes, it’s NOT too early to start this in high school, or even middle school.

5 Personal Branding Tips

1) Always Be Mindful of What You’re Sharing

This photo could become a future issue

Photo source: Dennis Harper on flickr.

I know that high school students will do things that their parents would not approve of (example: throwing a wild party at the house when the parents are away for the weekend).

High school students will have their fun and should continue to do so. But take a moment to ponder before clicking the “submit” or “tweet” button.

Be sensitive to what you share and know that there can be implications and ramifications. If you post something online, accept the fact that it never goes away.

Even if you’re careful to limit your posts to particular groups, the fact remains that the post is online. Understand that when you apply for a job as a forty year old, what you posted as a teenager could come back to haunt you.

Here’s a good mechanism: when you’re ready to post something online, think whether your parent(s) and your teacher would approve. If they wouldn’t approve, then don’t post it (hat tip to Junior Achievement for this).

2) Pay Attention to Details

When you interview for a job, body language can be far more important than the words you speak. You might have an eloquent and insightful answer, but if you’re slouched in your chair and not making eye contact with the interviewer, your answer doesn’t really matter.

With personal branding, every little thing matters. Start with your email address. People will need to contact you, whether it’s a college admissions officer or a potential employer. Select an email address accordingly. “ilovetoparty” at (gmail dot com) will not curry favor with potential employers.

If you have an unfavorable email address, get a new one to use for college admissions and job applications. Next, have friends and family call your cell phone and listen to your voicemail greeting. Does it say something like: “Yo. Do it now. Over and outtie”? That would make a college admissions officer think twice about your application.

3) Sprinkle in Brand-Appropriate, Proactive Sharing

Photo of an academic award

Photo source: COD Newsroom on flickr.

Yes, you should do some proactive “brand building,” even in high school. Some tenth graders will apply to colleges in a few short years. When you apply to a college, the admissions officers will review your social profiles.

Did you recently receive an academic achievement award at school? Have a friend take a picture of you (with your award), then post that to Facebook. This digital footprint can make a difference, when discovered by the admissions officer (hat tip to a parent volunteer, who provided this suggestion).

4) Don’t Let Your Inside Voice Get Outside

In other words, keep your posts and status updates positive. We all have our dislikes, whether it’s jobs, other people or situations. Think twice before you share those dislikes with the entire world. Social media should not be a venting mechanism.

If you found a new job, but really disliked your previous job, keep your feelings about the previous job on the inside. Negative comments don’t play well when viewed by potential employers. And who knows? Things change and the employer you disliked years ago may be one that you return to years later.

5) Advanced Topic: Start Blogging

I started this blog five years ago and it’s helped a great deal with my personal brand. I’m able to share thoughts and ideas (with you!) and I consider it an add-on to my resume. In fact, blogs and social profiles (e.g. LinkedIn) are far more relevant than the old-fashioned resume.

One important point, however: figure out a “focus area” for your blog that’s tied to the personal brand you’d like to portray.

Your blog should not be an extension of Facebook, in which you share anything and everything going on in your life. Instead, it should be an outlet for you to share thoughts and observations.

Consider what you’re most passionate about and start writing about it. If you write well and share interesting things, I’m sure college admissions officers will take note.

Additional Thoughts on Personal Branding

Jonha Revesencio

Photo: Jonha Revesencio (@jonharules).

While writing this post, I posed a question on Twitter:

At what age should we start building our personal brand?

Jonha shared the following:

“In a world where technology has helped in facilitating questions, I think there’s not really an exact “age” to best build your brand, or as I like to put it, #BrandYOU. I think, though, that it’s most essential to “position yourself to be found so you won’t have to look around.”

That means it’s important to provide value even before you ask for one. I’ve given a presentation before college students about this and my main message is for them to use the time they spend on social networks by building their brand instead of using it for activities which will at some point break it (even before they try to build).”

Conclusion

Thanks for those thoughts, Jonha!

The concept of a personal brand was quite new to the tenth graders I spoke to. And that’s a big reason why I wrote this post: to create awareness around the fact that personal branding starts at an early age. Those who get an early start will have an advantage. Start working on your personal brand today.


How Halloween Reminds Me of B2B Marketers

October 26, 2013

Halloween and B2B Marketers

Introduction

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, I loved to head out (after dark) and go trick or treating. As a parent, I revel in seeing the enjoyment experienced by kids. You may be wondering: how does Halloween relate to B2B marketers?

Let me explain. Recently, DNN collaborated on a Social Insights Report with Leadtail. The report analyzed 113,039 tweets (from 500 North American B2B marketers) from June 1, 2013 to August 31, 2013. The report then draws a number of conclusions on how B2B marketers engage on Twitter.

To gain access to the report:

Download the report

http://offers.leadtail.com/social-media-insights-report-b2b-marketers/

Since I reviewed the report so close to Halloween, I couldn’t help but draw analogies between B2B marketers and my favorite holiday.

1) We know where to trick or treat.

Photo credit: Flickr user Joint Base Lewis McChord via photopin cc

The report looked at B2B marketers’ tweets to see what other social networks they’re active on. LinkedIn is the clear winner, as 35% of B2B marketers shared content on LinkedIn. Instagram and Foursquare came in at 18% and 13%, respectively. Facebook registered at 3%, more than 10x less than LinkedIn.

Social networks most active

This tells me that B2B marketers know where to trick or treat. Their B2B presence takes them to neighborhoods that make sense for their jobs (e.g. LinkedIn), while ventures into the land of Facebook are reserved for activities outside of work.

The Instagram result (18%) runs contrary to this point. It may be that Instagram is the “shiny new object” that B2B marketers want to experiment and learn from. A number of B2B brands, in fact are using Instagram as an effective marketing tool.

2) We take our kids to familiar houses.

I have a daughter in fifth grade. While I’ve taken her to some “foreign” neighborhoods in the past, I tend to take her to houses for which I know the owner. I think that makes for a safer trick or treating experience.

As we saw with the LinkedIn result, B2B marketers like to share familiar content (i.e. things related to their jobs). Of the 100 most popular content sources for B2B marketers, mainstream media registered at 25%, but industry media came in at a whopping 62%.

Types of content shared

3) We know how to provide the candy our visitors want.

Photo credit: Flickr user MzScarlett via photopin cc

A “good house” buys the candy variety pack at Costco. A great house surveys the likes and dislikes of neighborhood kids and tailors their treats accordingly.

Side note: one house in my neighborhood gives out ice cream cones for each kid. They ask which flavor the kid wants, then gives the kid two scoops of the selected flavor in a cone. This is an example of “great.”

B2B marketers tend to retweet content (i.e. share their candy) if they believe “my followers will like this.”

Most retweeted marketers

4) We visit the houses with the best decorations.

Some homeowners go to great lengths to create an experience that delights visitors. Great B2B content marketers go to equally great lengths to create content that delights their target audience. The Top 50 vendors most mentioned by B2B marketers are doing something right (hint: it probably has something to do with the content they’re producing and sharing). I’d love to go trick or treating in their neighborhoods.

Most mentioned marketers

5) We’re drawn to creative and visually appealing costumes.

Photo credit: Flickr user geckoam via photopin cc

Whether it’s Halloween costumes or content marketing, I’m always amazed at some of the creative concepts I run across. At Halloween, we’re naturally drawn to costumes that are both “different” and visually appealing. If you look at the list of Top 10 most shared social sources, you’ll see a number of visually oriented sites: YouTube, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest.

Most shared social sources

Conclusion

Hope you all have a safe, happy and fun Halloween – DNN is doing a webinar the day before. We’ve invited our friends from Leadtail to share findings from this Social Insights Report and provide recommendations on how you can most effectively engage B2B marketers. Don’t miss it! Register here:

Leadtail and DNN webinar

http://info.dnnsoftware.com/WebinarLeadtail103013_RegistrationLP.html

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.


How a Webinar Presentation Generated 10,000 @SlideShare Views in 1 Week

October 12, 2013


Photo credit: Flickr user sylvain kalache via photopin cc

Introduction

At DNN, we provide several webinars per month. Recently, we created a profile on SlideShare. We now publish the presentation from each webinar on our SlideShare account. SlideShare was working out quite well for us – we could tap into their “60 million monthly visitors and 130 million pageviews” (source: SlideShare).

Our webinar presentations were receiving anywhere from 200 to 900 views. And then it happened. We did a webinar on content marketing and posted the presentation to SlideShare. Within 1 week, the SlideShare received 10,000 views!

Analytics - SlideShare PRO

Image: a chart available in SlideShare PRO Analytics.

Continue reading this post to find out how we generated 10,000 SlideShare views and pick up a few tips on how you can optimize the views of your own SlideShares.

Getting 10,000 SlideShare Views: The Logistics

1) Publish.

Upload Presentations via SlideShare

In the past, the number one question we received on webinars was, “will the slides be available?” With SlideShare, we answer that question before it gets asked. During the early part of the webinar, we’ll promote our SlideShare channel (e.g. list the URL on a slide).

We’ll let viewers know that after the webinar, they can visit our SlideShare profile to view (and download) the slides. I like to upload the webinar presentation to SlideShare an hour (or less) after the webinar is over.

We have less than 20 followers on SlideShare. This means that once we publish, we’ll receive a modest amount of views on SlideShare. As we receive more followers, we’ll benefit from more views upon publishing. But for now, we rely on other “channels” for promotion. So for now, this step was simply the beginning of the process.

2) Promote on social channels.

I’ll promote our SlideShare to our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles. In addition, I’ll publish it to our LinkedIn Company Page. On Twitter, I’ll look to see who tweeted (during the webinar) and send them “at replies” to let them know the slides are available. Posting to our Facebook page was a key step in this process – I’ll cover that later in this post.

3) Write a blog post related to the webinar.

I don’t find a literal summary of the webinar particularly useful. After all, you could flip through the slide deck or view the webinar on-demand. Instead, what I like to do is use the webinar as an opportunity to create original content. So with the slides as a “backdrop,” I author a related blog post.

I embed the SlideShare presentation within all webinar-related blog posts. And here’s where a significant “multiplier” took effect: shortly after publication on the DNN blog, the post was syndicated at Social Media Today.

An Aside: Embeds + Syndication = a Big Winner

So the secret’s out: we achieved 10,000 SlideShare views primarily via embedding the presentation and then syndicating it to a site (Social Media Today) with wide reach. Of all SlideShare views, nearly 75% came from “embeds” and over 90% of the embedded views came from Social Media Today. Page views on the Social Media Today article received a nice boost from the nearly 2,000 social shares received (as noted by summing the counts listed on the article page).

I happen to value embedded views a bit less – on the SlideShare site, the visitor arrived specifically to view your presentation. With embedded views, visitors are there to read your post and some may not see the SlideShare at all. That being said, an embedded view is better than none at all.

4) Receive endorsements.

While easier said than done, endorsements help to boost views. In our case, we received two key endorsements. The first arose from sharing the SlideShare to our 20,000+ fans on Facebook. Based on the traffic that our Facebook fans sent to our SlideShare, we were added to the “Hot on Facebook” section of the SlideShare homepage.

Next, the editors of SlideShare reviewed it and decided to list the presentation in the “Featured” section of their homepage. “Featured” has a prominent location on the SlideShare homepage, directly beneath “Top Presentations of the Day.” We made sure to share this exciting news via our social channels. Using social proof (no pun intended) helped to drive further awareness (and views) of our SlideShare:


How Attention Begets More Attention

Attention on the web can benefit from the snowball effect. The key is to get the snowball large enough so that it’ll roll. And once you find a hill that’s steep and long, you set it in motion. The key is getting “over the hump.” Once you’re there, the snowball starts to roll and there’s no stopping it after that.

1) SlideShare Likes.

SlideShare Like in LinkedIn Newsfeed

Image: a SlideShare “Like” as seen in the LinkedIn Newsfeed.

As your SlideShare receives more views, it’ll pick up a corresponding number of Likes. Once users “Like” my SlideShare, that action will appear in the Newsfeed of other SlideShare users following them. In addition, users who connect their SlideShare account to their LinkedIn account will have the “Like” appear on their LinkedIn profile. This, in turn, will appear in the Newsfeed of their LinkedIn Connections.

2) Shares on SlideShare.

Similarly, social shares from your SlideShare (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest) promote your presentation to an whole new audience. If an influential Twitter user tweeted your SlideShare to her 10,000 followers, your presentation could receive 100 instantaneous views.

3) We’re all drawn to popular items.

I think it’s human nature to be drawn to popular items. When we pass a busy restaurant, we’re apt to wait in line for 1 hour to get a table. When we pass a restaurant with no tables occupied, we’re afraid to become their only customer.

When I scan the “Featured” presentations on the SlideShare homepage, my eyes are naturally drawn to those with the most views. Sure, the title is important, but if a presentation has 10,000 views, that signals an endorsement of sorts (from others).

How to Hit The Mark on SlideShare


Photo credit: Flickr user modenadude via photopin cc

I try to kill two birds with one stone when I assemble a webinar presentation: as I create each slide, I try to optimize it for SlideShare at the same time. I could always go back (after the webinar) and re-work the deck for SlideShare, but I’ve come to realize that optimizing the deck for SlideShare also creates a more effective webinar.

1) Pick a hot topic.

I subscribe to 50+ sites (via feedly) on marketing, social media, SEO and more. Of late, it’s challenging to get through a feedly session without 10+ posts with “content marketing” in the title. So the timing was good for us: a webinar and slide deck on content marketing was sure to get some attention.

2) Use decent visuals.

If you have a designer available, take advantage of that. If not, you can assemble graphics and visuals on your own, but pay attention to design. You may have the most useful content in the world, but poor visual design can compromise both credibility and attention.

3) Optimize for “productive scanning.”

People don’t read blogs, they scan blogs. If you’ve gotten this far in this post, I bet you’ve scanned this post’s headlines, rather than reading each and every word (thank you very much, if I’m wrong about this).

SlideShare takes blog reading to an even skimmier level: visitors can flip through the deck quickly and find key points they can take away. So make your SlideShares easily scannable and use each slide as an opportunity to deliver actionable advice. The more wisdom you can impart, the higher likelihood of gaining a Share or Like.

4) Include useful hyperlinks.

When I do research for a webinar, I’ll often find useful articles that inform my presentation. I like to include links to those articles, both to give credit (to the source) and provide viewers with a place to receive more detailed information. When you upload your presentation to SlideShare, confirm that all of the PowerPoint hyperlinks are functional within your SlideShare.

Conclusion

Incorporate SlideShare into your content marketing mix! Use it to widen the reach of your content. There’s 60 million monthly visitors out there: make it easy for them to find you via compelling content.

In closing, I’ll note that we upgraded to SlideShare PRO. Because of all of the views we were getting, we wanted to use the lead capture feature of PRO to invite viewers to contact us for more information on our products (review SlideShare’s premium plans).

And Here’s the SlideShare.

In order to gain even more views of our SlideShare, I’m embedding it below for your viewing pleasure.

Note: originally published on the DNN Software blog.


10 Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Channels

September 14, 2013

Social media channels
Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Introduction

Some organizations are rocking the house with social media (a few come to mind: Coca Cola, Starbucks, Virgin America). At the same time, many organizations I speak to are challenged to achieve the results they desire using social media.

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Social Media Optimization: 10 Tips in 30 Minutes.

The challenge? It’s usually a combination of “lack of know-how” and lack of resources (or both). So here are ten easy steps to take to optimize your social media channels. You can perform these steps in any order.

1) Use consistent branding across channels.

For personal use of social media, I recommend that people use the same profile photo across all social channels. Why? Because followers who know you on Twitter will recognize you on SlideShare.

So the consistent photo removes a barrier to gaining that new follower. For organizations, use the same logo everywhere. Also, if you’re running a campaign, use the same campaign theme across your channels.

2) Strategically hyperlink from profile pages.

Check out all the valuable hyperlinks we’re afforded on the DNN Google+ page. Take advantage of these opportunities. You can drive clicks (to your web properties) from views of your social profile pages.

And, the inbound links will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Don’t be too cute, however. Make sure your link’s anchor text aligns with the page you’re linking to.

Additional tip: YouTube allows hyperlinks in the description area of your video:

Hyperlinks on YouTube

3) Reciprocate.

Gain a new follower on Twitter? Verify they’re a “real” person (vs. a “bot”), then follow them back. It’s a nice gesture on social media to follow back. And, by following back, you get the opportunity to listen to what your followers are saying. On Twitter, following back allows your followers to send you a “Direct Message” (a private message), which is often an effective channel for customer service or related inquiries.

4) Tag (link to) other users.

When I share an article on social media, I like to “link” to both the publication and the author. Why? Because it gets you (or your organization) noticed by the publication and the author (in addition to sending them some good karma). The author may follow you, retweet you or respond to you. In turn, the author’s followers may decide to follow you. In short, good things can happen.

5) Learn the tricks of the trade of each social network.

Using the “retweet” button on Twitter. Setting up a Google+ Hangout. Managing your Circles in Google+. Each of these things is unique to that service: get to know these unique features well and your use of that service becomes more effective.

6) Measure, evaluate, adjust.

Become BFF’s with analytics (and yes, you really should become best friends forever). Did you know: Twitter now provides free analytics dashboards to all Twitter users (read more on the Constant Contact blog).

Use analytics to evaluate your social media effectiveness across a number of dimensions (e.g. content type, content format, topic, time of day, etc.). Metrics to track include reach, engagement and traffic. Next, draw conclusions that help inform your subsequent social sharing.

7) Mix it up.

I know of professional sportswriters whose Twitter profile is an automated feed of every article they write (and nothing else). While I love their sports writing, I don’t follow them on Twitter. Instead, I follow other sportswriters who comment, respond, retweet and engage. So mix it up: share content, retweet, respond and engage. Don’t be a social media automaton.

8) Engage proactively and respond promptly.

Users on social media can be chatty. And they expect responses to their issues or comments. Your role: listen to what they’re saying and respond promptly. A same-day (or same-hour) response is far better than one that comes tomorrow or next week.

9) Cross-promote your channels.

While your primary goal is to “be useful” on any given social network, there are times when you’ll want to promote your other social networks. Let fans know that you “exist” elsewhere. And, when you’re running events, contests or campaigns on a particular network, use your other channels to drive additional awareness of those activities.

10) Experiment with paid advertising.

Twitter Ads Dashboard

Image: a Twitter Ads dashboard for Promoted Tweets.

It’s great that you have a lot of fans and followers on social media. But did you know they’ll miss 80+% of what you post (that’s my own, unscientific estimate)? That’s just reality.

Paid advertising can create a higher likelihood that fans see your content – and, it extends your reach to people not currently following you. We’ve had fun experimenting with it here at DNN.

Conclusion

Social media can drive tremendous value to your organization – and, it can be a lot of fun doing it. I hope you found these tips useful. I presented a DNN webinar on this same topic recently – you can find the presentation slides below.

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.


10 Ways to Prepare for Your Social Media Manager Interview

August 10, 2013

How to prepare for your social media manager interview

Introduction

Social Media Manager has become a rather popular position lately. Whether it’s a dedicated or partial position, the function exists within most organizations.

Enterprises, non-profits, small businesses and associations understand the benefits of maintaining social media channels to generate awareness, engage with prospects and interact with customers and partners.

A Friend’s Interview

Recently, a friend of mine was preparing to interview for a Social Media Manager position. He was looking to transition into that position from a related role and asked me for advice on how to prepare for the interview.

Here are ten tips on how to prepare: they’re meant for people who haven’t done the job before.

1) Clean up your social media profiles.

It's important to manage your privacy settings on Facebook

Pictured: privacy settings options on Facebook.

I can guarantee you that your social media presence will be a key consideration for this position. Your prospective employer will look you up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (in that order).

Congratulations on passing the “sniff test” – you scored an interview.

That being said, between now and the interview, clean up and optimize your profiles. Professional-oriented sites like LinkedIn are a given; also be careful to review the “Who can see my stuff?” settings on Facebook and un-tag yourself from photos that you wouldn’t want your mom to see.

2) Find and discover the organization’s “brand voice.”

Every organization has a “brand,” which means that every organization has a brand voice. In other words, do some research on your potential employer.

Check their website for a listing of their mission statement or core values (example: the core values of Zappos).

Understand what’s important to the organization, along with their vision for the future. Then, subtly reference some of the information you learned during your interview. When you get the job, you’ll need to tweet, post and pin with the brand voice.

3) Practice being the organization’s Press Secretary.

Jay Carney (photo via Wikipedia)

Photo of Jay Carney via Wikipedia.

Jay Carney is President Obama’s Press Secretary. Like all presidential press secretaries, Carney has a challenging job. He needs to stand up in front of the White House Press Corps and answer questions.

Sometimes he’ll be thrown “softballs,” while other times, he’ll need to address pointed and difficult questions. Carney needs to answer the questions in the “brand voice” of the Oval Office. As a Social Media Manager, your followers on Twitter (for example) are the press corps and you’re the press secretary. So watch a few White House news briefings and see how Carney handles questions.

4) Immerse yourself in the role.

Plan a number of 30-45 sessions during which you observe brands in action (on social media). “Like” some brands on Facebook, both in the target industry and a few outside of that. See how they’re crafting their status updates on Facebook.

Then, venture over to Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social networks and observe how brands are using those channels. Pay particular attention to how those brands engage with their audience. You get bonus points for tracking a single brand across channels and figuring out how they uniquely use each one.

5) Be prepared to define ROI.

It’s great that you’re proficient at tweeting, posting and tagging. It’s even better when you can do it in the brand’s voice. Some organizations will want you to take it to the next step and measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of social media.

So do some research on ROI models (for social media) and be prepared to talk through some of them. Then, turn the question around and ask about the organization’s goals with social media. Suggest particular social media metrics that can be assembled to tie back to those goals. The key point: the definition of social media ROI should be unique to each organization.

6) Do research on social media advertising.

Twitter's Promoted Tweets set-up

Pictured: some of the targeting options available in Twitter’s Promoted Tweets.

There are lots of options for spending money to augment your reach on social media: Promoted Tweets, Boosted Posts (Facebook), Sponsored Updates (LinkedIn), etc.

Do some research on how these work: how are they priced, what are the benefits, how can you measure, etc. If your prospective employer is not yet using these tools, you can score bonus points by planting the seed (with your knowledge).

7) Consider celebrating your outsider status.

Let’s say you’ve never worked in the industry of your prospective employer. Especially for social media marketing positions, employers are starting to look past the “industry experience” pre-requisite.

If the topic comes up during the interview, be prepared with a way to celebrate you outsider status. You may bring a new perspective to the organization’s approach to social media and be able to communicate in a fresh, new way (while maintaining the brand voice).

8) Research agency relationships.

While this may only apply to larger organizations, do some research to see if your prospective employer uses agencies in its social media: PR firms, design firms, interactive agencies, etc. A good place to check is the “Press Release” or “News” pages on their website. Having this information in your back pocket keeps you better informed going into the interview.

9) Think up a creative idea or two.

Do NOT tell your prospective employer what they’re doing wrong on social media. However, it’s fine to observe what they’re doing and think up new and creative ways to do the same thing. Sort of like this: “I noticed you’re doing <this>, have you considered doing <that>?”

10) Research past campaigns and contests.

Take a look at past social media campaigns and contests run by your prospective employer. Understand what they were looking to achieve and how it was received by participants. You’ll have a role in campaigns and contests going forward, so speaking knowledgeably about them during the interview puts you ahead of the pack.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember the “larger calling” of your role. It may be neat to tell friends that you get paid to tweet, post and pin, but it’s all in the context of the organization’s goals.

The social networks are the tools that you use to help achieve those goals. Portray that message during your interview: your excitement about the opportunity is less around social media and more about leveraging social media to advance the organization’s cause.


Life Is Good: 6 Things We Take for Granted

June 22, 2013

Life is good, but we take some things for granted

Photo credit: Flickr user Gamma Man via photopin cc

Introduction

Recently, I had work done on my car. It was a weekday, which means that I had to find a place to check email and do some work. So I dropped the car off at the garage and found my way to the closest place that (a) serves breakfast and (b) has free WiFi.

As I flipped my laptop open and connected to the WiFi network, I remembered the days when WiFi didn’t exist. You had to get a colleague to give you rides to and from the mechanic. That made me realize how easy it is to take things for granted.

Life is good. Let’s appreciate some things we often take for granted.

1) WiFi.

One thing we take for granted: free WiFi

There was a time when the Internet and the web didn’t exist. Later, there was a time when you only had Internet access at work. Then came dial-up modems. I remember the day I got DSL installed: I didn’t think a web page could load any faster.

Today, we have WiFi in businesses, we have 4G data in the palm of our hands and if we pay for it, we even have WiFi when we fly across the country.

2) Abundant computing power.

It’s been said that today’s smartphone has more computing power than the world’s top supercomputer of 25 years ago. Computers have become so powerful that technology was invented (virtualization) to take advantage of excess computing cycles.

My first computer was an IBM PC, back in high school. Back then, the “mega” in “megabyte” had yet to exist. Also, fast runners could complete a mile before a computer booted up.

3) GPS.

The U.S. DoD

Image via: Wikipedia.

Thank you, U.S. Department of Defense! Your Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was instrumental in building the Internet.

Later, you gave us the Global Positioning System (GPS). I have a horrible sense of direction. And I’m not the stereotypical guy: I ask for directions (often at gas stations). GPS first came to life on the dashboard of our car. Now, we have fully functional GPS apps on our smartphones.

4) Facebook.

Facebook has its ups and downs in the court of public opinion. Privacy changes, the roll-out and withdrawal of Beacon, etc. I use it to stay connected with family, friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues, high school classmates and college classmates. There’s no other social network (or online service) that makes this possible. Thank you, Zuck and team.

5) Individuals as publishers.

It’s never been easier to share your thoughts and expertise and find an audience willing to listen. Blogging, microblogging, video blogging – it’s free, it’s easy and it’s fun.

I used to publish a New York Yankees blog. I sent a posting to a local reporter and got selected as the “Blog of the Week” in his Sunday column. What a thrill! Through blogging, Twitter and other online platforms, I’ve learned a lot and met a great number of great people.

6) On-demand media.

Children now grow up with tablets

Photo credit: Flickr user Toca Boca via photopin cc

My kid’s generation was born into a world of on-demand media. Once they reach grade school, they’re using their parents’ iPads to consume content any time of day, from wherever they are.

I remember the day when the “prime” in “prime time TV” really meant something. On-demand media amounted to your VCR. Today, content is available in many forms, on whatever device we want it.

Conclusion

Life is good. Let’s not forget that.


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