It’s a motto I have using for years. When people would ask me relationship advice, or career advice, or even ‘should I write this book?’ advice (FYI people just ask me everything )….It was always part of the conversation.
Be an answer. Not a problem.
We all want to be desirable. Popular. Successful. Valued. Admired. Loved.
To achieve any of the positive things we are chasing in this life, always remember that it is the people who SOLVE the needs, issues and problems of others that rise to the top.
An educator solves the need for information, the significant other supports without expectation, the friend provides a safe place to connect with no obligation…and a brand provides solutions with their products-utilizing marketing that in itself adds value to the consumer experience. Do you want to advance your career or get noticed in the work place?
Be an answer. Think about what problems your company needs to solve. Get done what needs to be done.
And to content creators who whine and rant endlessly- might be making themselves feel better- but is that providing much of an answer for the reader? Or is it just becoming part of the problem?
So look around. Decide what you want, then be the answer;
- A force of positive, forward moving energy- who is someone who looks to help, solve, cure, fulfill and provide solutions –
And before long- you might just have everything you want.
Then what will you do?
Yesterday I flew to a new city. Minneapolis. Some place I had never been in all my 41 years. I got off the plane and was deposited into an unfamiliar airport. I walked slower than normal try to determine where the cab line was outside the doors. Finally, I just did the unthinkable- and asked one of those Walmart greeter type people at an information kiosk. As I walked outside to the Minneapolis heat (not kidding it was surprisingly hot that day) I found gentleman standing next to cab. He took my bags without me saying a word. Put them in the trunk. ‘Do you take American Express?’ I asked- and he nodded yes. And just like that I jumped into the back of the car with a stranger.
I told him my hotel name as we were exiting the airport grounds. He just said ‘fine.’ And as I sat there, approaching some Minneapolic traffic on the highway it occurred to me; I have placed an exceptional amount of trust in this strangers hands. He has my bags locked in his trunk, my life is in his hands and I must trust that he will get me where I want to go.
Trust. We are asked to do it all the time. In some cases from complete strangers. But we trust because we are hiring the one with experience, the knowledge base and track record to get us to where we want to go. Successful business relationships are no different. No, I am not talking about you and the blonde in accounting. I am talking about the people brands hire to get them to where they need to go. Ad agencies, digital agencies and yes, PR agencies too. Brands, at some point you made a judgment call, that the agency in front of you had what it would take to get you to where you need to go. So you took a risk and jumped in back.
So now it is time to say- LET THEM DRIVE. Too often brands hire great people, and then proceed to question every decision, idea or concept that comes their way. Sure they have every right to be cautious. And they need to be vigilant in seeing that the relationship is headed in the right direction- but they also need to TRUST. Trust is the very element that can foster creative genius by an agency on behalf of a brand. Trust creates a halo of inspiration around every conceptual session. Trust is, without a doubt, integral for the success of all brand/agency relationships.
I am happy to be able to work for an agency that has so many amazing household names on their client roster. And it is because those brands trust us– to provide the best, smartest and most amazing counsel at all times—that we we able to execute on that. Trust is everything.
Trust me on this.
Symptoms include feeling completely and totally overwhelmed when you log in to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc. Sometimes feeling so overwhelmed you consider leaving them all behind, then realizing it is not longer a realistic option since the majority of our connections are now maintained online. For instance, I have MANY close friends who I would guess do not even have my phone number. We connect and make plans to meet 100% thru the social platforms. So if I left the platforms I might be cutting off my entire real life social life. And now in light of the new Facebook updates which are going to bring you even MORE granular minutia to your news feed (what people ate, songs they are listening to, where they are working out etc.) this issue is bigger than ever.
Okay, so it is not a realistic option to leave social, and it is a dizzying amount of data hitting us in the face if we stay.
So how can we handle this?
1. Limit your connections. Yes, that means unfriending the ex-boyfriend from your Facebook account that you only friended to see if he lost his hair since high school. It’s okay, he only friended you to see if you were single.
2. Limit your platforms. You don’t have to be everywhere. Like Facebook? Stay there. Like Google+ (like me) stay there. Or maybe all you need is Twitter or LinkedIn. You decide.
3. Limit your notifications. In my case, because it is how I make my living, I do need to have a presence on every single platform. But I do not need to have them send me messages about each activity. I am re-visiting my settings on all platforms and cutting back on notifications.
4. Learn to hide. Many platforms allow you to stay accessible, but not have all followers visible. On Facebook I have probably 80% of my ‘friends’ hid in my news stream. Some people post political posts, or religious quotes or just things (like their workout stats) so often it gets annoying. I like them. But I don’t like how they use the platform. So I hide them. When I want to catch up, I visit their profile directly.
Social Fatigue is a very real condition.
It is information overload.
It is too much connection.
It is being too accessible.
It is feeling more STRESS than JOY from these tools.
I encourage you to take control and scale back in ways that work for you.
In my line of work with a very large public relations firm, I am am privy to many conversations that are essentially centered around the age-old question of ”what do the people want?” As I read through blogs and websites from social media ‘gurus’ and ‘rockstars’ , I read on site after site, assessments of answers to the same question. When I am pulled aside at conferences and presentations inevitably someone is asking the same. Seems everyone in social media is on a quest to figure out what people (and by people I mean consumers and customers) really want from their brands online.
Sometimes, the answers are easier to find if we equate our digital conversations to ones in real life.
And there is one quality that seems to rise above all others, in every situation that is always appreciated; it’s sincerity.
Whether being pitched on a new car, or being given condolences for a loss or even listening to an apology; sincerity is always the thing that brings it home for us. It makes us listen more, believe more and in the end feel that the conversation was intentional, honest and transparent. Without sincerity in our messaging we are not able to connect with our communities in real ways. Sincerity is the fastest way to bond with your community members. And it is that ‘bonding’ that builds brand loyalty.
So the next time you are crafting a Facebook update, sending out your email newsletter or providing customer service online– think about your sincerity level. Do you mean what you are saying? Is it as pure a message as possible? Would you use the same words with your best friend? With your mom? Being sincere is one thing, but being sure your written words SHOW you are sincere is another. Always run your copy through a mental sincerity filter- and if any of it sounds like you are just spinning words to make a pretty story- try again.
Sincerity not only breeds success but it helps you sleep at night.
You wont have to feel guilty for being insincere, dishonest or not forthcoming.
As you put your head on your pillow, you will know that you have provided real value to your community- and it is that value that will make your loyalty base grow.
The Media Socialite, Marcy
Breaking News people (insert sarcasm here) you can not measure charm, animal magnetism or influence no matter how fancy your algorithm is…somewhere in your head YOU KNEW THAT ALL ALONG.
Like watching Chris Angel and knowing HE ISN’T REALLY floating. No matter how badly you want to believe he has gravity licked.
Klout measures activity and popularity. And despite what you think- activity and popularity ARE PRETTY OKAY ways to judge people. WHEN THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO JUDGE. Those are the only real bucketable data to be able to rate people online.
Does it show you how INFLUENTIAL people are?
But does it show you how much they use the platforms and how many other people like the way they use it?
So stop writing meanie anti-klout posts. If you are disappointed it is not some magical Chris Angel of the SoMe world- well, THAT IS YOUR FAULT. You put too much faith in it. Don’t buy a cat and be disappointed when you get it home and find out it can’t talk. Cats can’t talk. Influence can’t be measured. You know that. You are smart.
However, if you want to see if someone is using the social platforms and in ways that others find worthy to follow- then Klout Rocks.
Pet the kitty.
(TALK ABOUT FREAKY-CREEPY. I HAVE A HIGHER KLOUT SCORE THAN CHRIS. PRETTY SURE I CAN FLOAT TOO NOW. OR HOLD MY BREATH FOR 3 DAYS. OR WHATEVER SCAM HE IS PULLING THESE DAYS)
Given our current state of digital immersion, it no longer feels sufficient to just call it the ‘world wide web’ and might be better renamed the ‘web wide WORLD’. And social media is the internets easy portal into a digital spectrum of no return. Adoption rates and usage numbers for all things social are thru the roof. Did you know that 82% of the WORLD’S population uses at least one social networking site?
Clearly social media is more than just finding old high school boyfriends and wasting time at work. It is fulfilling very real human need in our society.
So what are the real reasons people are using Social Media?
Understanding the why should help to define your channel strategy to motivate your communities to behave in ways that benefit your brand.
In other words- now that you know WHY they are there- you should have a better idea what will make them happy.
And happy, satisfied community members are the key to any brands success- both offline and on.
It is hard to image that about 7 years ago, this whole ‘bloggers are the best thing to ever happen to brands’ was really just starting. And since that time we have watched brands attempt to find, court and entice bloggers in a manner that at times has felt a bit like wrangling unicorns; brands used unproven techniques to attract a breed of media that they didn’t really believe in. Eventually brands and bloggers learned more about each other. Bloggers learned about impressions, and media sheets and quoted their UPVs on que. And brands started to learn that product, experience or cold hard cash motivated the blogger to promote everything from lipgloss to airlines. Things were pretty comfy there for a while. Until now.
There has been a bit of mind shift on the brand side recently- wanting to pull back from blogger engagements feeling the level of influence has been diluted and is mostly immeasurable. And while there is some validity to that thought- what has really happened is the blogger has grown into something else entirely. The blogger is no longer ‘just’ a blogger- the blogger is now a CONTENT PUBLISHER.
If we think in those terms, and frame up the idea of reaching out to people- any people- who are creating CONTENT and pushing it out to the internet- we see that this is still an important sector of brand message broadcast. We need to think beyond the blog post impression and page views. We need acknowledge the Instagram photo shared with 200 followers, we need to see that a re-pin on Pinterest of a brand link can have a powerful ramifications. In other words- we need to broaden our understanding of what it means to be influential. The influence that a blogger had with only their blog has been diluted, but the influence hasn’t disappeared- it is simply being directed into more niche markets and platforms.
So the answer to my lead in question is that ‘bloggers’ don’t matter the way they used to…but in many cases, when their digital footprint has become diverse- they matter EVEN MORE.
Contact the author on Twitter @MarcyMassura
Many times I hear about bloggers and brands starting entirely new blogs to be able to express themselves about a hobby or interest that they have determined isn’t the right ‘fit’ for their current blog. And I laugh when this happens. Have you forgotten? Bloggers do not have bosses. We do not have critical editors or focus group reports or corporate big wigs breathing down our back and telling us what we can and can not write about. We run this show. And we can write about ANYTHING.
But should we?
Instead of thinking about your blog as a TV show (to use an antiquated reference), think of your blog as a TV channel.
I give you a second to let that sink in before I elaborate…
TV channels offer a wide variety different programs on a wide variety of topics. The provide consistency by creating well branded series, that are broadcast on a predicable schedule, and keep the over arching themes that appeal to the target audience of the channel in mind for all programming.
For instance, we might know that Lifetime TV is trying to reach moms age 25-45, and they do so by creating romance movies. But they also have talk shows, news programs and cooking. They seek out parallel content that speaks to the many sides of their audience. And they make sure they whatever they do- they do it with ‘Lifetime’ flavor.
As a blog publisher you should do the same. Understand that a blog is a personality driven publishing format, and the reader has come to your site, in most cases to get to know you better. They want the content to reveal more about you and your interests and in the end they want to know YOU. Blogs fulfill an odd kind of voyeurism. We are drawn in to the mom of triplets and her challenges, the divorced dad running for political office or even the anxiety driven nut job who cusses up a storm for reasons you can’t understand. Blogs let us see into lives we might never have experienced.
A blog ‘audience’ can not only handle- but enjoys- a wide variety of post topics- as long as they all are filtered with the personality of the blogger.
But what about consistency?
Creating well branded categories that re-appear on a regular basis (ala TV series) on a predicable schedule is one way of getting that consistency. Your readership begins to expect a crafting post on Fridays, a photo of your kid on Mondays and a long Social Media advice post on Wednesdays (ahem).
Now go out there, and be the TV star you always wanted.
Over the weekend, we made a family pilgrimage to a few collectable places talk with some Pokemon Card collectors to see if there was any interest in buying my older sons collection that has sat in a drawer for years now. Since he has his eye on fancy gaming computer equipment – he asked if he could sell. Turns out (as I suspected but didn’t have the heart to tell the kid)- no one we talked to was interested. On the way home, my younger son asked ‘how did Pokemon get popular anyway?’. I did my best to explain trends, and influencers and how the world of marketing works. How something can one day be nothing, and the next be the hottest item ever. Until it saturates the market of course and returns to being nearly nothing.
He looked confused.
We stopped for lunch, and Tucker spotted an Asian market in the same center and begged we go inside to by ‘his all time FAVORITE snack’. I was absolutely boggled. What the heck is he talking about?
“Duh! ppushu ppushu Mom!”
Um, okay kid whatever. We stopped inside and navigated our way to what appeared to be the snack aisle. He yelled in delight. Turns out ‘his all time favorite snack’ is some Japanese version of uncooked ramen noodles. And I learned, he has been trading the Ding Dongs and Doritos (yeah, I am a cool mom) I pack in his lunch for these Asian delights all school year long.
I took opportunity to try to finish the earlier conversation.
“So who started with these at school?” I asked.
“Oh some of the kids, the girls mainly. They were always bragging about how great Ppushu ppushu was to everyone. So I tried it and started trading them for it. They brought in extra too. Pretty soon everyone cool was eating it at lunch.”
“So you tried it because they told you it was good?”
“You know how it is mom, sometimes when certain people say something is good you just HAVE to try it.”
So there you have it Internet. The next time you are trying to come up with a complicated plan to utilize influencers to help push your product, or are attempting to explain the power of ground up marketing….remember the story of Ppushu Ppushu.
Influencer marketing is happening all around us our entire life.
We already know this stuff people.
Do what you know, don’t over complicate things, this really isn’t THAT hard and…
Harness the power ppushu ppushu marketing.
Somewhere between getting my luggage at the baggage claim and unpacking in the hotel, my back went into full-on spasms. The kind of back pain that makes walking to the shower look like climbing Mt. Everest. It hurt of breathe. To move. To think. And while I considered calling room service to come blow dry my hair and wondered if the concierge had a back brace I could borrow, I took about 4 Tylenol PM and tried to sleep it off.
Turns out back pain is not like a hangover, and in the morning I was no better. So I was faced with a problem. Pain. Lots and lots of pain- but I still had a presentation and meetings to do that day.
So Marcy why are you telling us this?
In my Advil haze it occurred to me that managing pain is nothing new to brands. Brands are faced with challenges, crisis and economy woes and need to push through. So how do they handle it?
1. Stay Calm: Panic is the end of productivity. Given a rough patch (low sales, PR crisis etc.) you need to remain calm and facilitate clear thinking. Clear thinking is your way to get past this bump in the road.
2. Prioritize: When you get slowed down, and bogged down by dealing with a challenge stop and re-think your priorities. In other words, throw out the old ‘to do’ list and start over. Look closely where you are putting your energy. Make sure that everything you are doing is going to help propel the brand past the challenge at hand. Let other priorities shift to the bottom of the list. For example, if you suddenly lose a large contract for distribution your old priority of opening up a new sales region should be replaced with managing your cash flow while you secure a new distribution deal.
3. Take corrective action: While much of what we do in business is out of our hands; trends, economy etc. There is plenty that is still in the hands of the brand. Work to identify what you can do to fix your situation. Don’t sit around and wait for it to heal itself. You have to do something to move the business in the right direction again. So do. Something.
In the end, I re-prioritized what I really needed to do that day (getting dressed mattered, but curling my hair didn’t etc.)I took action by getting stronger medication and doing some back stretches on the hotel floor. I sent a series of tweets like “Your phone drops on the floor and you think ‘oh well I will just buy another’ to avoid picking it up #youknowyourbackisoutwhen” to help me stay calm.
Yes, I was able to push through the pain to do what needed to be done.
And so can you.