The Two U’s and the Three C’s

The question that I get asked most frequently about blogging is:

“Is there a simple formula for writing effective blog posts?”

And the only honest answer is:

“NO!  There is NOT a simple formula for writing effective blog posts.”

Well, okay . . . according to conventional blogging wisdom . . . maybe there is one simple formula:

This slide is from my social media presentation, which you can download by clicking on this link: Social Karma Presentation

 

The Two U’s

The first aspect of conventional blogging wisdom is to follow the Two U’s:

  1. Useful – Focus on your reader and provide them assistance with a specific problem
  2. Unique – Capture your reader’s attention and share your perspective in your own voice

Blogging is all about you.  No, not you meaning me, the blogger — you meaning you, the reader.

To be useful, blogging has to be all about the reader.  If you write only for yourself, then you will also be your only reader.

Useful blog posts often provide “infotainment” — a combination of information and entertainment — that, when it’s done well, can turn readers into raving fans.  Just don’t forget—your blog content has to be informative and entertaining to your readers.

One important aspect of being unique is writing effective titles.  Most potential readers scan titles to determine if they will click and read more.  There is a delicate balance between effective titles and “baiting” – which will only alienate potential readers.

If you write a compelling title that makes your readers click through to an interesting post, then “You Rock!”  However, if you write a “Shock and Awe” title followed by “Aw Shucks” content, then “You Suck!”

Your blog content also has to be unique—your topic, position, voice, or a combination of all three.

Consider the following when striving to write unique blog posts:

  • The easiest way to produce unique content is to let your blogging style reflect your personality
  • Don’t be afraid to express your opinion—even on subjects where it seems like “everything has already be said”
  • Your opinion is unique—because it is your opinion
  • An opinion—as long as it is respectfully given—is never wrong
  • Consistency in both style and message is important, however it’s okay to vary your style and/or change your opinion

 

The Three C’s

The second aspect of conventional blogging wisdom is to follow the Three C’s:

  1. Clear – Get to the point and stay on point
  2. Concise – No longer than absolutely necessary
  3. Consumable – Formatted to be easily read on a computer screen

Clear blog posts typically have a single theme or one primary topic to communicate.  Don’t run off on tangents, especially ones not related to the point you are trying to make.  If you have several legitimate sub-topics to cover, then consider creating a series.

Concise doesn’t necessarily mean “write really short blog posts.”  There is no specific word count to target.  Being concise simply means taking out anything that doesn’t need to be included.  Editing is the hardest part of writing, but also the most important.

Consumable content is extremely essential when people are reading off of a computer screen.

Densely packed text attacks the eyes, which doesn’t encourage anyone to keep reading.

Consumable blog posts effectively use techniques such as the following:

  • Providing an introduction and/or a conclusion
  • Using section headings (in a larger size or different font or both)
  • Varying the lengths of both sentences and paragraphs
  • Highlighting key words or phrases using bold or italics—but don’t underline—people will think it’s a link and click on it
  • Making or summarizing keys points in a short sentence or a short paragraph
  • Making or summarizing key points using numbered or bulleted lists

As a general rule, the longer (although still both clear and concise) the blog post, the more consumable you need to make it.

 

Conclusion

If writing is not your thing, and you’re podcasting or video blogging or using some combination of all three (and that’s another way to be unique), I still think the conventional blogging wisdom applies, which, of course, you are obviously free to ignore since blogging is definitely more art than science.

However, I recommend that you first learn and practice the conventional blogging wisdom.

After all, it’s always more fun to break the rules when you actually know what the rules are.

 

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Quality is more important than Quantity

Quantity/Quality lists shown above are from my social media presentation, which you can download by clicking on this link: Social Karma Presentation

Effectively using social media in a business context requires a significant commitment—mostly measured in time.

Since the “opportunity cost” of social media can be quite high, many understandably argue about how to effectively measure its return on investment (ROI), which can often feel like you are searching for the Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster.

No, social media ROI is not an urban myth.

However, the Albert Einstein quote “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted” is relevant to social media ROI because quality is more important than quantity—and quality is also more difficult to measure.

Social media ROI is not measured in followers, fans, recommendations, subscribers, comments or other feedback.  Although this quantitative analysis is useful and its metrics can be meaningful, it is important to realize that this only measures connection.

Qualitative analysis is more challenging because it attempts to measure your engagement with the online community.

Engagement is about going beyond establishing a presence and achieving active participation.  Engagement is measured by the quality of the relationships you are able to form and maintain—not the quantity of connections you are able to collect and count.

Although both quantitative and qualitative analysis are essential to forming a complete measurement of your social media ROI, quality is more important than quantity, because engagement is more important than connection.

Engagement requires a long-term investment in the community, but if you’re not willing to make a long-term investment, then don’t expect any meaningful returns from your social media efforts.

 

Don’t Ignore “The Man Behind the Curtain”

 

If you are having trouble viewing this video, then you can watch it on Vimeo by clicking on this link: OCDQ Video

 

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Listening and Broadcasting

Photo via Flickr by: Colleen AF Venable

Photo via Flickr by: Anders Pollas

As we continue to witness the decline of traditional media and the corresponding rise of social media, the business world is attempting to keep up with the changing times.  Many organizations are “looking to do whatever it is that’s intended to replace advertising,” explained Douglas Rushkoff in a recent blog post about how marketing threatens the true promise of social media by “devolving to the limited applications of social marketing” and trying to turn the “social landscape back into a marketplace.”

We can all relate to Rushkoff’s central concern—the all-too-slippery slope separating social networking from social marketing.

The primary reason I started blogging was to demonstrate my expertise and establish my authority with regards to data quality and its related disciplines.  As an independent consultant, I am trying to help sell my writing, speaking, and consulting services.

You and/or your company are probably using social media to help sell your products and services as well.

Effective social networking is about community participation, which requires actively listening, inviting others to get involved, sharing meaningful ideas, contributing to conversations—and not just broadcasting your sales and marketing messages.

An often cited reason for the meteoric rise of social media is its exchange of a broadcast medium for a conversation medium.  However, some people, including Mitch Joel and Jay Baer, have pondered whether social media conversations are a myth.

“One of the main tenets of social media,” Joel blogged, “was the reality that brands could join a conversation, but by the looks of things there aren’t really any conversations happening at all.” 

Joel wasn’t being negative, just observational.  He pointed out that most blog comments provide feedback, not a back and forth conversation between blogger and reader, Twitter “feels more like everyone screaming a thought at once than a conversation that can be followed and engaged with” and “Facebook has some great banter with the wall posts and status updates, but it’s more chatty than conversational and it’s not an open/public environment.”

“To expect social media to truly emulate conversation as we know it is a fools errand,” Baer blogged.  “The information exchange is asynchronous.  However, there’s a difference between striving for conversation and settling for broadcasting.  The success path must lie somewhere in the middle of those two boundaries.”

Regardless of how we are striving for conversation, whether it be blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, or a face-to-face discussion, we must remember the importance of empathically listening to each other—and not just waiting for our turn to broadcast.

An effective social media strategy is essential for organizations as well as individual professionals, but it is a constant struggle to find the right balance between the headphones and the bullhorn—between listening and broadcasting.

 

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Please don’t become a zombie in 2011

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to start a blog, please be forewarned that the blogosphere has a real zombie problem.

No, not that kind of zombie.

“Zombie” is a slang term used to describe a blog that has stopped publishing new posts.  In other words, the blog has joined the Blogosphere of the Living Dead, which is comprised of blogs that still have a valid URL, but desperately crave new “Posts!”

 

It’s Not Personal—Zombies are Professional

If you’re considering starting a personal blog (especially one about “real zombies”), then please stop reading—and start blogging.

However, if you’re considering starting a professional blog, then please continue reading.  By a “professional blog” I do not mean a blog that makes money.  I simply mean a blog that’s part of the social media strategy for your organization or a blog that helps advance your professional career—which, yes, may also directly or (far more likely, if at all) indirectly make you money.

If you are seriously considering starting a professional blog, before you do anything else, complete the 20-10-5 plan.

 

The 20-10-5 Plan

  • Brainstorm 20 high level ideas for blog posts
  • Write 10 rough drafts based on those ideas
  • Finish 5 ready-to-publish posts from those drafts

If you are unable to complete this simple plan, then seriously reconsider starting a professional blog.

Please Note: I will add the caveat that if writing is not your thing, and you’re planning on podcasting or video blogging instead, I still adamantly believe you must complete the 20-10-5 plan.  In essence, the plan is simply a challenge to see if you can create five pieces of ready-to-publish content—BEFORE you launch your professional blog, since IMHO—if you can’t, then don’t.

 

Recommended Next Steps

If you completed the 20-10-5 plan, then after you launch your blog, consider the following recommendations:

  • Do not post more than once a week
  • Maintain an editorial calendar and schedule your future posts
  • Finish more ready-to-publish posts (you’re good until Week 6 because of the 20-10-5 plan)

Yes, you’ll be tempted to start posting more than once a week.  Yes, you’ll be eager to share your brilliance with the blogosphere.

However, just like many new things, blogging is really fun—when it’s new.

So let’s run the numbers:

  • Posting once a week = 52 blog posts a year
  • Posting twice a week = 104 blog posts a year
  • Posting five times a week (basically once every weekday) = 260 blog posts a year

I am not trying to harsh your mellow.  I am simply saying that you need to pace yourself—especially at the beginning.

 

I am not a Zombie—or a Social Media Expert

I am not a “social media expert.”  In fact, until late 2008, I wasn’t even interested enough to ask people what they meant when I heard them talking about “social media.”  I started blogging, tweeting, and using other social media in early 2009.

Do I practice what I preach?  Check my archives.

My blog was started in March 2009.  I published 5-8 posts per month (1-2 posts per week) for each of the first five months, and then I gradually increased my posting frequency.  Now, almost two years later, I have published 236 posts on this blog, which is an overall average of 10 posts per month (2-3 posts per week), without ever posting fewer than 5 times in one month.

So if you do decide to become a blogger, please don’t become a zombie in 2011—wait until the Zombie Apocalypse of 2012 :-)

 

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The Challenging Gift of Social Media

I recently finished reading (and also highly recommend) the excellent book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. 

Although it’s not the subject of the book, in this blog post I’ll focus on one of its concepts that is very applicable to social media. 

 

The Circles of the Gift System

Godin uses the term “Gift Culture” to describe an emerging ethos facilitated by (but not limited to) the Internet and social media, which involves what he calls “The Circles of the Gift System” that I have attempted to represent in the above diagram.

In the first circle are your true real-world friends and family, the people that you would never interact with on the basis of trying to make money (i.e., the people you freely give “true gifts” while expecting nothing in return).

In the second circle are your customers and clients, the people that you conduct commerce with and who must pay you for your time, products, and services (i.e., the people and organizations you don’t give gifts because you need them to help pay your bills).

In the third circle is the social media and extended (nowadays mostly online) community, where following the freemium model, you give freely so that you can reach as many people as possible.  It is in the third circle that you assemble your tribe comprised of blog readers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and other “friendlies” — the term Godin uses for our social media connections.

It is the third circle that many (if not most) people struggle with and often either resist or ignore.  However, as Godin explains:

“This circle is new.  It’s huge and it’s important, because it enables you to enlarge the second circle and make more money, and because it enables you to affect more people and improve more lives.” 

However, dedicating the necessary time and effort to enlarge the third circle doesn’t guarantee you will enlarge the second circle, which risks turning freemium into simply free.  It is on this particular aspect that I will focus the remainder of my blog post.

 

The Intriguing Opportunity of Social Media

It is difficult to imagine a business topic generating more widespread discussion these days than social media.  That’s not to say that it is (or that it even should be) considered the most important topic.  However, almost every organization as well as most individual professionals have at the very least considered getting involved with social media in a business context.

The intriguing opportunity of social media is difficult to ignore—even after you ignore most of the hype (which is no easy task).

But as I wrote in the Social Karma series, if we are truly honest, then we all have to admit that we have the same question:

“What’s in this for me?”

Using social media effectively can definitely help promote you, your expertise, your company, and its products and services.  The primary reason I started blogging was to demonstrate my expertise and establish my authority with regards to data quality and its related disciplines.  As an independent consultant, I am trying to help sell my consulting, speaking, and writing services.

 

The Sobering Reality of Social Media

A social media strategy focused entirely on your own self-promotion will be easily detected by the online community, and could therefore easily result in doing far more harm than good.  Effectively using social media for business requires true participation, sustained engagement, and making meaningful contributions to the community’s goals—and not just your own.

The sobering reality of social media is that it’s not something you can simply do whenever it’s convenient for you.

Using social media effectively, more than anything else, requires a commitment that is mostly measured in time.  It requires a long-term investment in the community, and the truth is you must be patient because any returns on this investment will take a long time to materialize. 

If you are planning on a quick get in, get out, short-term marketing campaign requiring little effort, then don’t waste your time, but much more importantly, don’t waste the community’s time.

 

The Challenging Gift of Social Media

Godin opens his chapter on “The Powerful Culture of Gifts” by joking that he must have been absent the day they taught the power of unreciprocated gifts at Stanford business school. 

In fact, it’s probably a safe bet that the curriculum at most business schools conveniently ignores the fifty thousand year tradition of human tribal economies based on mutual support and generosity, when power used to be about giving, not getting.

Although we maintain some semblance of this tribal spirit in our personal lives with respect to the first circle, when it comes to our professional lives in the second circle, we want money for our time, product, or service—and we usually don’t come cheap.

Therefore, by far the most common question that I get asked (and that I often ask myself) about social media is:

“Is it really worth all that time and effort, especially when you aren’t getting paid for it?”

Although I honestly believe that it is, truthfully there have been many times when I have doubted it.  But those were usually times when I allowed myself to give in to the natural tendency we all have to become hyper-focused on our own goals. 

The paradox is that the best way to accomplish our selfish goals is—first and foremost—to focus on helping others. 

Of course, helping others doesn’t guarantee they’ll reciprocate, especially with financial returns on our social media investment.  Returning to Godin’s analogy, enlarging (or even just maintaining) the third circle doesn’t guarantee enlarging the second circle.

However, true service to the social media community requires giving true gifts to the third circle. 

Godin explains that these gifts—which do not demand reciprocation—turn the third circle into your tribe.  Giving gifts fulfills your tribal obligation.  Recipients pay it forward by also giving gifts—but perhaps to another tribal member—and not back to you.

And this is the challenging gift of social media—it is a gift that you may keep on giving without ever getting anything in return.

 

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Social Karma (Part 8)

This post is the conclusion of a series about the art of effectively using social media in business, which is an essential strategy for organizations as well as individual professionals.

Using social media effectively can definitely help promote you, your expertise, your company, and its products and services.

However, too many businesses and professionals have a selfish social media strategy.

You should not use social media to exclusively promote only yourself or your business.

You need to view social media as Social Karma.

 

Social Karma: The Art of Effectively Using Social Media in Business

 

If you are having trouble viewing this video, then you can watch it on Vimeo by clicking on this link: Social Karma Video

To download the presentation as an Adobe Acrobat Document (.pdf file) click on this link: Social Karma Presentation 

 

The Complete Series

Social Karma (Part 1) – Series Introduction

Social Karma (Part 2) – Social Media Preparation

Social Karma (Part 3) – Listening Stations, Home Base, and Outposts

Social Karma (Part 4) – Blogging Best Practices

Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

Social Karma (Part 6) – Social Media Books

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter 

Social Karma (Part 7)

In Part 6 of this series:  We discussed some of the books that have been the most helpful to my social media education.

In Part 7, we will discuss some recommended best practices and general guidelines for using Twitter.

 

Frosted Cheerios are Yummy

Frosted Cheerios are Yummy

In social media, one of the most common features is some form of microblogging or short message service (SMS) that allows users to share brief status updates.  Twitter is currently built on only this feature and uses status updates (referred to as tweets) that are limited to a maximum of 140 characters, which at first glance may appear to indicate an obvious limitation. 

Twitter is a rather pithy platform that many people argue is incompatible with meaningful communication, especially of a professional nature.  Most people who have never (as well as some who have) tried it, assume Twitter is a source of nothing but inane babble such as what its users are eating for breakfast.  I must admit that this was my opinion as well—at least at first.

However, Twitter is not only one of the most popular microblogging and social networking services, but if used effectively, it can easily become one of the most powerful weapons in your social media arsenal.

 

Twitter as Research

Twitter as Research

In addition to a listening station and an outpost (concepts discussed in Part 2 and Part 3), I use Twitter as a research tool.

Twitter provides near real-time updates about my online community and my areas of professional interest.  For example, the above tweet alerted me to an excellent LinkedIn discussion about the business benefits of master data management (MDM).

I chose this particular tweet in order to clarify an important distinction about Twitter.

Unlike other social networking services, you do not need an account on Twitter for read-only access to its content, which means that anyone could have seen this tweet.  (Of course, Twitter does provide privacy options for both tweets and accounts).

However, in order to click on the URL in this tweet and read the discussion from the Master Data Management Interest Group, you would require both an account on LinkedIn and need your group membership request approved by the group's owner.

Therefore, because it's not a “walled garden” you could leverage Twitter as a listening station only without creating an account.

With or without an account, Twitter Search provides the ability to search for relevant content.  Tweets often include embedded search terms called “hashtags” since they are prefaced with the hash (#) symbol.  You can also save search queries as RSS feeds.

If you are not familiar with how to use it, then check out my video tutorial by following this link:  Twitter Search Tutorial

 

Twitter as Social Networking

Twitter as Social Networking

As we discussed in Part 5, the difference between connection and engagement is going beyond simply establishing a presence and achieving active participation within the online community.

Active participation can take on many different forms.  However, as we also discussed, “social media is not about you.”

A focus on helping others is what separates social networking from (especially shameless) self-promotion. 

In the example above, I was helping a fellow Twitter user promote his new blog.  However, conversations are better examples of social networking—and not just on Twitter.  Tweets between users can be public or private (referred to as direct messages). 

As with any public conversation, you should use extreme caution and avoid sharing any sensitive or confidential information.

 

The Art of the Re-Tweet

The Art of the Re-Tweet

Re-tweeting is the act of “forwarding” another user's tweet.  Many bloggers use Twitter to promote their content by tweeting links to their new blog posts.  Therefore, many re-tweets are attempts to share this content with your online community.

A simple re-tweet is easy to do.  However, a few recommended best practices include the following:

  • Make your re-tweets (and tweets) re-tweetable by leaving enough unused characters to prevent truncation on re-tweet, which is important since a link is usually at or near the end of the message and truncation would send a broken link
  • If you are re-tweeting a link, verify that the link is neither broken nor spam—and if you're not sure, then don't re-tweet it
  • If the tweet uses a URL shortener (e.g., a bit.ly link), then reuse it since the user may be relying on its associated analytics
  • Space permitting, add relevant hashtags to the re-tweet to make it more compatible with related Twitter searches
  • Prove that you're not a robot by providing a meaningful description of what you're re-tweeting (as in the above example)

 

Following, Followers, and Lists

Following, Followers, and Lists

The Twitter term for connecting with other users is “following.”  Unlike other social networking services, Twitter is not permission based, which means connections do not have to be first requested and then approved.

This creates two different perspectives on your Twitter world—those following you and those you are following.

Unless you only follow a few people, it is a tremendous challenge to actually follow every user you follow.  Twitter Search as well as tools and services (see below) can help with making following a more manageable activity.  Twitter also has a list feature that helps organize the users you are following—and you can follow the lists created by other users.

However, as we discussed in Part 5, social media is not a popularity contest.  Therefore, Twitter is not about the quantity of followers you are able to collect and count, but instead the quality of relationships you are able to form and maintain.

 

Twitter Tools and Services

Twitter tools and services that I personally use (listed in no particular order):

  • TweetDeck Connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  • Digsby – Digsby = Instant Messaging (IM) + E-mail + Social Networks
  • HootSuite – The professional Twitter client
  • Twitterfeed – Feed your blog to Twitter
  • TweetMeme – Add a Retweet Button to your blog
  • Ping.fm – Update all of your social networks at once 

 

“Thanks”

Thanks

I haven't performed the actual analysis, but I am willing to bet the word that appears most often in my tweets is: “Thanks”

I named this series Social Karma for a reason—beyond simply being a cute pun for social media.

I view the “Social” in Social Karma as the technical variable in the social media equation.  Social is the strategy for accomplishing our goals, the creation of our own content, the effective use of the tools—the technology. 

I view the “Karma” in Social Karma as the human variable in the social media equation.  Karma is the transparency of our intentions, the appreciation of the content created by others, the sharing of ourselves—our humanity.

The most important variable in the social media equation is the human variable. 

In other words, I want to say thanks to all of you for being the most important aspect of my social media experience.

 

In Part 8 of this series:  The series concludes with my Social Karma presentation for Enterprise Data World 2010.

 

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Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

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Social Karma (Part 6)

In Part 5 of this series:  We continued discussing the basics of developing your social media strategy by reviewing some recommended best practices and general guidelines for engaging your community, as well as the basics of social media ROI.

In Part 6, we will discuss some of the books that have been the most helpful to my social media education. 

The following list (in no particular order) includes links to and quotes from five of my favorite social media books.  The last book is actually about social networking in the social scientific sense, but does contain useful material for social media discussions.

 

The Whuffie Factor

The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business by Tara Hunt.

  • “Whuffie is the residual outcome—the currency—of your reputation.  You lose or gain it based on positive or negative actions, your contributions to the community, and what people think of you.”
  • “Whuffie flows from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation that moves quickly within social networks.”
  • “Turn the bullhorn around: Stop talking and start listening.”
  • “Become part of the community you serve and figure out who it is you are serving.  It isn't everyone.”
  • “To truly become part of the community you serve, you must add value.”
  • “Instead of being concerned with quantity, you need to become more concerned with quality of relationships.  This doesn't mean that quantitative measurements disappear, it just means they aren't your most dominant measurement.”

 

Crush It!

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk.

  • “Your business and your personal brand need to be one and the same.  Your latest tweet and comment on Facebook and most recent blog post—that's your résumé now.  It's a whole new world, build your personal brand and get ready for it.”
  • “Can you think of any business that isn't in some way dependent on human interaction?”
  • “If you're not using Twitter because you're in the camp that believes it's stupid, you're going to lose out.  It doesn't matter if you think it's stupid, it's free communication.  That in and of itself has value, and you should take advantage of it.”
  • “You're in business to serve your community.  Don't ever forget it.  Don't betray their trust.”
  • “The other thing you're going to do is accept that just having good content and Internet access is not enough to take your business to the top.  Someone with less passion and talent and poorer content can totally beat you if they're willing to work longer and harder than you are.”
  • “Creating community—that's where the bulk of your hustle is going to go and where the bulk of your success will be determined.  Creating community is about starting conversations.”
  • “Building and sustaining community is a never-ending part of doing business.”
  • “Don't get obsessed with how many friends or fans are following you—the stats are only marginally important.  What's important is the intensity of your community's engagement and interaction with you.  The quality of the conversation is much more revealing than the number of people having it.”
  • “Making connections, creating and continuing meaningful interaction with other people, whether in person or in the digital domain, is the only reason we're here.”

 

Trust Agents

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

  • “Focus on connecting with the people—the human stuff is far more important than the software.”
  • “The Web and social media give you the opportunity to reveal the human side of your business.”
  • “Building any kind of following online is difficult enough.  It requires solid leadership skills, the ability to create a sense of belonging, a gracious attitude, transparency about who you are, and empowering the community to feel important.”
  • “Trust agents build networks almost reflexively by being helpful, by promoting the good work that others do, by sharing even their best stuff without hesitation, and by finding ways to deliver even more value on top of all that without asking for anything in return.”
  • “Attention is and will continue to be our scarcest resource.”
  • “Social networking is not about getting attention for attention's sake, but rather about being a part of the network, making other people aware that you are there—and that you'll be there in the future, too.”
  • “If you are to learn how to be a trust agent, the skill of being a Human Artist—someone who understands how to communicate with people in a real and thoughtful way—is very important to what you're doing.”

 

Six Pixels of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. by Mitch Joel.

  • “It's no longer about how much budget you dump into advertising and PR in hopes that people will see and respond to your messaging.  The new online channels will work for you as long as you are working for them by adding value, your voice, and the ability for your consumers to connect, engage, and take part.” 
  • “This new economy is driven by your time vested—and not by your money invested.”
  • “Networking online is core to success because it's not blatant sales and marketing.”
  • “You can't have a strong business without a strong community.”
  • “The digital social spaces are built on trust and trust alone.”
  • “Your ability to leverage true ROI is going to come from the level of trust you have built and the community you serve.”
  • “Nothing stinks of insincerity more than using these new digital channels and not listening to the other conversations.”
  • “The more human, honest, and transparent you are, the quicker you will be able to build trust and leverage it to build community and your business.”
  • “You're not looking for sheer mass numbers of people for the sake of traffic.  Traffic has levels of quality that only you can measure.  Focus on building community and not traffic.”
  • “The long-term game of sustainability in the online channels is one of quality versus quantity.”

 

Connected

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD.

  • “Six Degrees of Separation: We are all connected to everyone else by an average of six degrees of separation (your friend is one degree from you, your friends' friend is two degrees, and so on).” 
  • “Three Degrees of Influence: Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our friends (one degree), our friends' friends (two degrees), and even our friends' friends' friends (three degrees).  Our influence gradually dissipates and ceases to have a noticeable effect on people beyond the social frontier that lies at three degrees of separation.  Likewise, we are influenced by friends within three degrees but generally not those beyond.”
  • “Just as brains can do things that no single neuron can do, so can social networks do things that no single person can do.”
  • “Social networks have value precisely because they can help us achieve what we could not achieve on our own.”
  • “Since information flows freely within a close circle of friends, it is likely that people know more or less everything that their close friends know. We might trust socially distant people less, but the information and contacts they have may be intrinsically more valuable because we cannot access them ourselves.”
  • “Networks with a mix of weak and strong ties allow easy communication but also foster greater creativity because of the ideas of new members of the group and the synergies they create.”
  • “Although social networks may help us do what we could not do on our own, they also often give more power to people who are well connected.  As a result, those with the most connections often reap the highest rewards.”
  • “Social networking fosters strong ties with groups that optimize trust and then connects them via weaker ties to members of other groups to optimize their ability to find creative solutions when problems arise.”
  • “For thousands of years, social interactions were built solely on face-to-face communication.  The invention of each new method of communication has contributed to a debate stretching back centuries about how technology affects community.  Yet, new technologies just realize our ancient propensity to connect to other humans, albeit with electrons flowing through cyberspace rather than conversations drifting through air.”
  • “The recent surge in mobile phones, the Internet, and social networking sites has shifted our ability to stay in touch with one another into overdrive, causing us to become hyperconnected.”

 

In Part 7 of this series:  We will discuss some recommended best practices and general guidelines for using Twitter.

 

Related Posts

Social Karma (Part 1) – Series Introduction

Social Karma (Part 2) – Social Media Preparation

Social Karma (Part 3) – Listening Stations, Home Base, and Outposts

Social Karma (Part 4) – Blogging Best Practices

Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter

Social Karma (Part 5)

In Part 4 of this series:  We discussed some of the recommended blogging best practices and general guidelines for creating useful content in your own unique blogging style.

In Part 5, we will continue discussing the basics of developing your social media strategy by reviewing some other recommended best practices and general guidelines for engaging your community—beyond the pages of your blog.

 

The Talk Nobody Wants To Hear

If we're honest, then we have to admit, when we considered getting involved with social media, we all had the same question:

“What's in this for me?”

It is a perfectly natural and totally legitimate question.  As we have discussed throughout the series, more than anything else, effectively using social media requires a significant commitment—mostly measured in time. 

Without question, the “opportunity cost” of social media is high, so you are right to question your return on investment (ROI). 

This series is about using social media in a business context.  Therefore, ROI is about far more than simply measuring the quality of your experience.  I am not going to lie to you—measuring the ROI of social media is very challenging. 

However, before we can even attempt to measure ROI, we  must honestly evaluate why we are investing in the first place.

The primary reason I started blogging was to demonstrate my expertise and establish my authority with regards to data quality and its related disciplines.  As an independent consultant, I am trying to help sell my consulting, speaking, and writing services. 

You and/or your company are probably considering using social media to help sell your products and services as well.

However, the only way for any of us to accomplish our goals is—first and foremost—to focus on helping others. 

This is the talk nobody wants to hear: 

“Social media is NOT about you.”

Home Base = Connection, Outposts = Engagement

Home Base with Outposts for ocdqblog

In Part 3, we discussed establishing a blog as your home base (where you have complete control), which is connected to your outposts (where you don't have complete control) that provide a presence out in other parts of your online community. 

We also discussed how “connection is the message of social media's medium.”  This is true.  However, effective community participation is about extending connection into engagement—and this actually occurs mainly at your outposts.

As this trend analysis chart provided by PostRank shows, off-site (outpost) has surpassed on-site (home base) for engagement:

Measuring Engagement of the Social Web: ‘07-’09

“Shift happens,” explains Shawn Rogers.  “In the past many of us relied on the metrics of trackbacks, comments, forum posts, and other on-site interactions to determine the level of engagement we have with our online community.  Over the past 3 years, there has been a noticeable shift in these numbers.”

I believe true community engagement has always occurred off-site, but what has changed in recent years is social networking sites (outposts) have rapidly evolved into truly effective services. 

On-site (home base) connection is important and will continue to be—and true engagement can occur on your home base.  However, because you are in control, it can sometimes seem like it's all about you—despite even your best intentions. 

Therefore, effectively using social media requires that you go to where the conversations are occurring—your outposts—and participate without always trying to invite everyone back to your home base.

Outpost engagement best practices include the following:

  • Promote the content of others far more often than you promote your own content
  • If you use Twitter, then re-tweet more than you tweet (Note: a future part in this series will discuss Twitter in detail)
  • Leave meaningful comments on other blogs—and only include a link to one of your blog posts if it is truly relevant
  • Try to respond as promptly to a message left on one of your outposts as you would to a comment left on your blog
  • If you blog about conversations that originated on one of your outposts, then properly attribute the others involved  

 

Quality is more important than Quantity

How many followers do you have on Twitter?  How many friends and fans do you have on Facebook?  How many connections and recommendations do you have on LinkedIn?  How many visitors, subscribers, and comments do you have on your blog?

Social media can sometimes feel like a popularity contest. 

This is one of the many reasons that measuring social media ROI can often feel like you are searching for the Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster.  No, ROI is not an urban myth.  However, in social media, quality is more important than quantity.

Your outposts and listening stations (Part 2 and Part 3) provide excellent feedback loops allowing you to determine if you're effectively getting your message out and more important, if you're creating a noticeable online presence. 

But true ROI is not measured in followers, fans, recommendations, subscribers, comments or other feedback.  Although this analysis is useful and its associated metrics are meaningful, it is important to realize that this only measures connection.

True ROI is about measuring your engagement with the online community. 

Engagement is about going beyond simply establishing a presence and achieving active participation.  Are you adding value to the community by creating useful content and contributing something meaningful to the collective conversations?

Engagement is measured by the quality of the relationships you are able to form and maintain—and not the quantity of connections you are able to collect and count.  Social media is a long-term investment in the community. 

Therefore, the truth is you must be patient—your true social media ROI may take a long time to materialize. 

 

Small Town, Big Business

Many organizations as well as individual professionals struggle to understand the value of social media because they attempt to relate to it using a traditional business perspective.

Most of the organizations I discuss social media with are very uncomfortable with being personal and acting human while participating in online communities—because they believe that would somehow be “unprofessional” behavior.

This viewpoint relates to a common misperception about social media—that “social” means “try to act like everyone's friend.”

However, we certainly don’t want organizations to try to act like (or try to become) our friends.  In social media—just like any professional or personal interaction—the emphasis needs to be on transparency, which will help build genuine rapport and trust.

I believe the unrelenting growth and popularity of the online communities being facilitated by social media are driving the commercial landscape back to a business model reminiscent of small towns.

On Main Street in the small town where I grew up, I remember many small businesses. 

Although I wasn't necessarily friends with the proprietors of these businesses, they weren't total strangers to me.  I saw them around town, in the park walking their dog, on the playground with their kids, and at local sporting events.

In other words, I knew that in addition to being professionals who wanted to sell me something if I visited their business, they were also human beings who weren’t any different than the people I did call my friends.

Social media definitely has the professional potential of big business—but it requires the personal rapport of a small town.

 

Don't Ignore “The Man Behind the Curtain”

In this OCDQ Video, I discuss the importance of the human variable in the social media equation.

  If you are having trouble viewing this video, then you can watch it on Vimeo by clicking on this link: OCDQ Video

 

In Part 6 of this series:  We will discuss some of the books that have been the most helpful to my social media education.

 

Related Posts

Social Karma (Part 1) – Series Introduction

Social Karma (Part 2) – Social Media Preparation

Social Karma (Part 3) – Listening Stations, Home Base, and Outposts

Social Karma (Part 4) – Blogging Best Practices

Social Karma (Part 6) – Social Media Books

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter

Social Karma (Part 4)

In Part 3 of this series:  We discussed the basics of developing your social media strategy by first examining the benefits of establishing a blog (or company website) as your social media base of operations for effective online community participation.

In Part 4, we will continue this discussion by reviewing some recommended blogging best practices and general guidelines for creating useful content in your own unique blogging style.

 

And that's the way it is (not anymore)

“And that's the way it is” was the trademark phrase Walter Cronkite used to conclude almost every one of his CBS Evening News television broadcasts.  The only exceptions (when he omitted his trademark phrase) were if he instead concluded the broadcast by sharing either his opinion about or his commentary on a particular event in the news.

As I have stated many times throughout this series, social media is a conversation medium and not a broadcast medium.

Blogging, especially when effectively serving as your base of operations for effective online community participation, can be one of the most powerful aspects of social media.  When done well, it facilities effective communication by acting as the catalyst that gets the conversation started, and when necessary, helps continue the discussion.

Simply broadcasting your (especially sales and marketing) message is not the way it is anymore.

 

What are you going to blog about?

Alright, I have probably annoyed you enough with the “social media is about starting a conversation” speech. 

So what, exactly, are you going to start a conversation about?  In other words, what are you going to blog about?

(And don't say you, your company or its products and services—you don't want to listen to the speech again, do you?)

If you have performed your social media preparation (Part 2) and you have been actively using your listening stations (Part 3), then you should already know the answer—whatever your online community is already discussing.

What problems are people talking about?  What challenging issues keep coming up?  What are the hotly contested debates or deeply polarized topics?  In short, what are the other members of the community passionate about?

 

How do you write effective blog posts?

Listening to the online community has provided insight into what to blog about.  But how do you write effective blog posts?

I am sorry, but there is no simple formula. 

Well okay—according to conventional blogging wisdom—maybe there is one simple formula:

B = U2C3 

In other words, effective blog posts provide Useful and Unique content that is Clear, Concise, and Consumable.

 

The Two U's

The first aspect of conventional blogging wisdom is to follow the Two U's:

  1. Useful – Focus on your reader and provide them assistance with a specific problem
  2. Unique – Capture your reader's attention and share your perspective in your own voice

Blogging truly has to be all about the reader.  If you write only for yourself, then you will also be your only reader.

Effective blogging often provides “infotainment” – a combination of information and entertainment that, when it's done well, can turn readers into raving fans.  Just don't forget—your blog content has to be informative and entertaining to your readers.

One important aspect of being unique is writing effective titles.  Most potential readers scan titles to determine if they will click and read more.  There is a delicate balance between effective titles and “baiting” – which will only alienate potential readers.

If you write a compelling title that makes your readers click through to an interesting post, then “You Rock!”  However, if you write a “Shock and Awe” title followed by “Aw Shucks” content, then “You Suck!”

Therefore, your blog content also has to be unique—your topic, position, voice, or a combination of all three.

 

The Three C's

The second aspect of conventional blogging wisdom is to follow the Three C’s:

  1. Clear – Get to the point and stay on point
  2. Concise – No longer than necessary
  3. Consumable – Formatted to be easily read on a computer screen

Clear blog posts typically have a single theme or one primary topic to communicate.  Don't run off on tangents, especially ones not related to the point you are trying to make.  If you have several legitimate sub-topics to cover, then consider creating a series.

Concise doesn't necessarily mean “write really short blog posts.”  There is no specific word count to target.  Being concise simply means taking out anything that doesn't need to be included.  Editing is the hardest part of writing, but also the most important.    

Consumable content is extremely essential when people are reading off of a computer screen.

Densely packed text attacks the eyes, which doesn't encourage anyone to keep reading.

Consumable blog posts effectively use techniques such as the following:

  • Providing an introduction and/or a conclusion
  • Using section headings (in a larger size or different font or both)
  • Varying the lengths of both sentences and paragraphs
  • Highlighting key words or phrases using bold or italics—but don't underline—people will think it's a link and click on it
  • Making or summarizing keys points in a short sentence or a short paragraph
  • Making or summarizing key points using numbered or bulleted lists

As a general rule, the longer (although still both clear and concise) the blog post, the more consumable you need to make it.

 

Your Blog, Your Voice

Back in early December, I recorded my thoughts about the importance of blogging in your own voice as a podcast:

You can also download this podcast (MP3 file) by clicking on this link: Your Blog, Your Voice

Some of the key points covered in this 15 minute podcast include:

  • The easiest way to produce unique content is to let your blogging style reflect your personality
  • Make your readers feel like they are having a conversation with a real person
  • You should be personal but still professional when blogging in a business context
  • Don't be afraid to express your opinion—even on subjects where it seems like “everything has already be said”
  • Your opinion is unique—because it is your opinion
  • An opinion—as long as it is respectfully given—is never wrong
  • Consistency in both style and message is important, however it's okay to vary your style and/or change your opinion
  • Try your best to communicate your thoughts clearly, but don't be overly concerned with being misunderstood
  • Pay careful attention to the feedback you receive from readers, especially any constructive criticism they provide
  • Ultimately, you are the only one who can truly decide what style will work best for your blog

 

Please don't become a zombie

The blogosphere has a real zombie problem—no, not that kind of zombie. 

“Zombie” is a slang term used to describe a blog that has stopped publishing new posts.  In other words, the blog has joined the Blogosphere of the Living Dead, which is comprised of blogs that still have a valid URL, but desperately crave new “Posts!”

Before you start blogging, follow the 20-10-5 plan:

  • Brainstorm 20 high level ideas for blog posts
  • Write 10 rough drafts based on those ideas
  • Finish 5 ready to publish posts from those drafts

If you are unable to complete this simple plan, then seriously reconsider starting a blog.

When you start blogging, consider the following recommendations:

  • Do not post more than once a week
  • Maintain an editorial calendar and schedule your future posts
  • Finish more ready to publish posts (you're good until Week 6 because of the 20-10-5 plan)

Yes, you will be tempted to start posting more than once a week.  You will be eager to share your brilliance with the blogosphere.

Just like many new things, blogging is really fun—when it's new.  However, let's run the numbers:

  • Posting once a week = 52 blog posts a year
  • Posting twice a week = 104 blog posts a year
  • Posting five times a week (basically once every week day) = 260 blog posts a year

I am not trying to harsh your mellow.  I am just saying that you need to pace yourself.  You are trying to build and maintain an active presence within your online community. 

Do I practice what I preach? 

Check my archives.  My blog was started in March 2009.  I published 5-8 posts per month (1-2 posts per week) for each of the first five months.  I then gradually increased my posting frequency.  Later this week, I will publish my 100th blog post.

 

Conclusion

This series is about the art of effectively using social media in a business context.  Although there are many practical aspects that I did not cover—such as choosing a blogging platform as one example—blogging is definitely more art than science. 

Therefore, you are obviously free to ignore the recommended blogging best practices I explained above.  However, I highly recommend that you first learn them and then try putting them into practice.  After all, it's always more fun to break the rules when you actually know what the rules are.

 

In Part 5 of this series:  We will continue discussing the basics of developing your social media strategy by reviewing some other recommended best practices and general guidelines for engaging your community—beyond the pages of your blog.

 

Related Posts

Social Karma (Part 1) – Series Introduction

Social Karma (Part 2) – Social Media Preparation

Social Karma (Part 3) – Listening Stations, Home Base, and Outposts

Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

Social Karma (Part 6) – Social Media Books

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter

The Mullet Blogging Manifesto

Collablogaunity

Brevity is the Soul of Social Media

Social Karma (Part 3)

In Part 2 of this seriesWe discussed leveraging social media for “listening purposes only” in order to assess what type of active involvement would make sense for you and your company.  Just like with any professional endeavor, you need to honestly evaluate both your expectations and your readiness before getting actively involved with social media.   

Additionally, we also discussed that using social media effectively requires a commitment—mostly measured in time.

In Part 3, we will begin discussing the basics of developing your social media strategy by first examining the benefits of establishing a blog (or company website) as your social media base of operations for effective online community participation.

 

Listening Stations

Your social media preparation involved actively listening to the online community.  As you begin your social media engagement, your “listening station” must always remain active in order to maintain true community participation.

Actually, you will need to leverage multiple listening stations.  The following diagram shows my OCDQ Blog listening stations:

Listening Stations for ocdqblog

If you are having trouble viewing it, click anywhere on the diagram to open it in a new window and/or download it (PNG file).

 

Home Base with Outposts

As Darren Rowse of ProBlogger explained in his blog post How to Promote a Blog with Social Media, Chris Brogan developed a social media strategy using the metaphor of a Home Base with Outposts.

“A home base,” explains Rowse, “is a place online that you own.”  This is your social media base of operations for effective online community participation.  For example, your home base could be your blog or your company's website. 

“Outposts,” continues Rowse, “are places you have an online presence out in other parts of the web that you might not own.”  For example, your outposts could be your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.

The following diagram shows the home base with outposts framework used by my OCDQ Blog:

Home Base with Outposts for ocdqblog

If you are having trouble viewing it, click anywhere on the diagram to open it in a new window and/or download it (PNG file).

 

Social Media Strategy

In this OCDQ Video, I provide an overview of my social media strategy based on my listening stations, home base, and outposts:

 

If you are having trouble viewing this video, then you can watch it on Vimeo by clicking on this link: OCDQ Video

Here are the links to the social media tools and services that I mentioned in the video:

 

The Message of Social Media's Medium

Effective online community participation is about actively listening, inviting others to get involved, sharing meaningful ideas, contributing to conversations—and not selfishly distributing only your content or broadcasting only your message.

Social media is a conversation medium and not a broadcast medium.

In his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase: “the medium is the message.”

To slightly paraphrase the words of Mark Federman, social media provides the ability to connect with other members of the online community, to collaborate as we construct knowledge, to engage with one another's experiences, to bring multiple contexts into understanding what it is we are collectively creating through our connection. 

Connection is the message of social media's medium. 

In Part 4 of this series:  We will continue discussing the basics of developing your social media strategy by reviewing some recommended blogging best practices and general guidelines for creating useful content in your own unique blogging style.

 

Related Posts

Social Karma (Part 1) – Series Introduction

Social Karma (Part 2) – Social Media Preparation

Social Karma (Part 4) – Blogging Best Practices

Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

Social Karma (Part 6) – Social Media Books

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter

Social Karma (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series:  I introduced the series premise, motivation, and intended format.  I also provided disclaimers about my social media experience and my lack of affiliation with any person, website, event, product, or book that I recommend.

In Part 2, we will discuss leveraging social media for “listening purposes only.”  This approach provides a passive (and safe) way to determine what (if any) type of active involvement with social media makes sense for you and/or your company.

 

You seek first to understand

Let's start with a few common questions about social media:

  • Should every individual professional have their own blog?
  • Should every company have its own blog?
  • Should every individual professional actively use social networking sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)?
  • Should every company actively use social networking sites?

Some social media “experts” defiantly claim that the answer to all of these question is: YES!

However, the only honest answer to all of these questions is: Maybe.

As with everything in the business world, you should seek first to understand what social media can offer and what it requires, before making any type of professional commitment. 

Both of those last two words are important—professional and commitment

This series is about the art of effectively using social media in a business context.  Therefore, we are discussing a topic about professional communication—which for both individuals and companies, must always be taken very seriously.

Using social media effectively, more than anything else, requires a commitment—mostly measured in time.  As bad as many claim it is to not get actively involved in social media, believe me—doing it poorly does a lot more harm than not doing it all.

 

You say you want a conversation

Well, you know—do you really want to change your world?

The pervasiveness of the Internet and the rapid proliferation of powerful mobile technology is transforming the very nature of human communication, and perhaps most strikingly, business communication.

Social media is taking advantage of this amazing medium, enabling people separated by vast distances and disparate cultures to come together, communicate, and collaborate in ways few would have thought possible less than a decade ago.

We continue to witness the decline of print media and the corresponding evolution of social media.  I believe the primary reason for this transition is our increasing interest in exchanging what has traditionally been only a broadcast medium (print media) for a conversation medium (social media).

So, returning to my paraphrasing of The Beatles that opened this section, I have to ask—do you really want a conversation?

In the business context of social media, conversations can occur on several levels.  Just a few examples include:

  • Between companies and their customers (including both prospective and former customers)
  • Between companies and their employees
  • Between employees and customers (in a less formal sense and beyond the walls of the workplace)
  • Between employees (both within and beyond the walls of the workplace)
  • Between customers

Only you can determine if you or your corporate culture is willing and able to properly participate in these conversations.  Many rightfully argue that you may soon simply not have a choice.  Therefore, if you are currently unwilling or unable, now is the time for you and your company to properly prepare—once again, a lack of preparation will do a lot more harm than good.

Of course, once you are properly prepared, you will be positioned to turn this challenge into a true competitive advantage.

 

Your worlds are colliding

We are becoming an increasingly digital society, and through social media, we are living more and more of both our personal and professional lives online, blurring—if not eliminating—the distinction between the two.

Later in this series, I will return to this topic and its implications for individual professionals.  However, from a company perspective, there are digital walls that can prevent (or at least slow down) your worlds from colliding—the company intranet.

First, I recommend establishing a corporate policy regarding what is permissible for employees to say about the company on external social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as other social media platforms, including the employees’ personal blogs.  I am not advocating censorship—just some basic guidelines of professional behavior.

Next, I recommend evaluating an internal social networking platform such as Yammer or Socialcast (to name just two examples among many options) for employees to use while at the office for robust communication and collaboration.  You might not have to block external social networking sites, but companies should strongly encourage that all work-related social networking be performed within the safety of the intranet and not out in the serendipitous “Series of Tubes” also known as the Internet.

Later in this series, we will discuss active participation in external social media (e.g., blogging) and social networking sites.

 

You're listening

Before committing to active involvement in (external) social media, perform some due diligence by actively listening. 

Dedicate time to reading the blogs within your specific industry or other areas of your professional interest.  Pay close attention to the most frequent topics of discussion—especially in the comments section.  Your goal is to learn as much as possible about the online community within which you are considering active participation. 

Useful—and free—listening tools include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Google Alerts – receive e-mail updates of the latest relevant Google search results based on your choice of query or topic.
  • Google Blog Search – search blogs (or the web) based on your choice of query or topic, which can be saved as a RSS feed.
  • Twitter Search – Unlike other social networking sites, you don't need an account for read access to Twitter content.  You can also save search queries as RSS feeds.  If you are not familiar with how to use it, then check out my Twitter Search Tutorial.
  • Google Reader – aggregate your research, websites, blogs, and RSS feeds into a single “listening station.”

 

Conclusion

Just like with any professional endeavor, honestly evaluate both your expectations and your readiness before you and your company get actively involved with social media in a business context.  Diligent research and proper preparation are standard best practices—and there is absolutely no reason that these sound business principles should not also apply to social media.

I have also recorded the key points of this blog post as a podcast:

You can also download this podcast (MP3 file) by clicking on this link: Social Media Preparation

 

In Part 3 of this series:  We will begin discussing the basics of developing your social media strategy by first examining the benefits of establishing a blog as your social media base of operations for effective online community participation.

 

Related Posts

Social Karma (Part 1) – Series Introduction

Social Karma (Part 3) – Listening Stations, Home Base, and Outposts

Social Karma (Part 4) – Blogging Best Practices

Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

Social Karma (Part 6) – Social Media Books

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter

Social Karma (Part 1)

An effective social media strategy is essential for organizations as well as individual professionals.

Using social media effectively, including blogging and social networking sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), can definitely help promote you, your expertise, your company, and its products and services. 

However, it is sad—but true—that too many people and companies have a selfish social media strategy. 

You should not use social media to exclusively promote only yourself or your business. 

You need to view social media as Social Karma

If you can focus your social media and social networking efforts on helping others, then you will get much more back than just a blog reader, a LinkedIn connection, a Facebook friend, a Twitter follower, or even a potential customer.

 

I am not a Social Media Expert—but I play one on the Internet

I am not a social media “expert.”  In fact, until late 2008, I wasn't even interested enough to ask people what they meant when I heard them talking about “social media.”  I started blogging, tweeting, and using other social media in early 2009. 

Please let me do the complex math for you—I still have less than one year of actual experience with social media.

I don't know how you define expertise—and I do acknowledge the inherent difficulty in vetting expertise in such a new and rapidly evolving field—but less than one year of experience with anything does not an expert make, in my humble opinion.

However, I have spent over 15 years in computer science and information technology related disciplines, as a software engineer, consultant, and instructor.  I have considerable experience and expertise applying technology in a business context in order to implement solutions for Global 500 companies in a wide variety of industries. 

Therefore, I am not a complete moron—but I will leave it to you to determine the actual percentage.

I am currently a full-time writer making all of my income from social media—mainly from blogging and mostly from ghostwriting for corporate blogs.

I am not trying to sell you anything. 

I am going to freely share what I have learned so far, including what I have learned from people with far more experience using social media.  As I stated previously, I hesitate to call anyone an expert in such a rapidly evolving discipline, but I will mention several resources I have found helpful. 

I have absolutely no affiliation or any paid relationship with any person, website, event, product, or book that I recommend.

 

About This Series

The primary reason that I am organizing my thoughts about social media involves my preparation for an upcoming conference presentation about using social media effectively for business purposes (more details in the next section).

I am publishing this content as a series on my blog, not only to provide supporting material for the small group of people that actually attend my conference session, but also because I have learned firsthand how the two-way conversation that blogging provides via comments from my readers, greatly improves the quality of my material.

Throughout this series, I will combine traditional blog posts with presentation slides, podcasts, and videos, in order to build a multimedia library of supporting material—all freely available, no registration required.

 

Enterprise Data World 2010

EDW10 Speaker Badge

Enterprise Data World is the business world’s most comprehensive vendor-neutral educational event about data and information management.  This year’s program will be bigger than ever before, with more sessions, more case studies, and more can’t-miss content, providing over 200 hours of in-depth tutorials, hands-on workshops, practical sessions and insightful keynotes to take you to the forefront of your industry.   

Enterprise Data World 2010 will be held March 14-18 in San Francisco, California at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

The full conference agenda can be viewed by clicking on this link: Enterprise Data World 2010 Conference Agenda.

The registration options can be viewed by clicking on this link: Enterprise Data World 2010 Conference Registration

Use the discount code of EDW10SPKR for a $100 discount off your registration fees. (Discount code expires on February 26.)

On Monday, March 15 from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, I will be presenting (30 minutes of material and 30 minutes of Q&A):

Social Karma: The Art of Effectively Using Social Media in Business

In Part 2 of this series:  We will discuss leveraging social media for “listening purposes only” as a passive (and safe) way to determine what (if any) type of active involvement with social media makes sense for you and/or your company.

 

Related Posts

Social Karma (Part 2) – Social Media Preparation

Social Karma (Part 3) – Listening Stations, Home Base, and Outposts

Social Karma (Part 4) – Blogging Best Practices

Social Karma (Part 5) – Connection, Engagement, and ROI Basics

Social Karma (Part 6) – Social Media Books

Social Karma (Part 7) – Twitter