Medium vs. Message

Posted June 25th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications
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I’ve been privileged to attend the Digital Publishing Summit offered by D’vorah Lansky over the past two weeks. 22 speakers and an impressive amount of information about using internet tools to spread your message. Write a book and re-purpose it into video, audio, short posts, courses, webinars … the full gamut of content forms. Make your message available in whatever format your reader prefers. Your $20 book may become a $97 video or a $299 course. Same info; new – and slicker – format.

The concept of an entrepreneurial author is a new one to me and I’m still mulling its meaning. Nonetheless, one of the most dynamic speakers of the event was David Hancock, who labels himself that way. Despite his brilliance, I wonder about the deconstruction of writing, its commercialization.

It may be that Hancock does not revere writing. He seems to suggest transcending all types of media in favor of your message and the ways it can help people. In other words, your book doesn’t matter; it’s the message it shares that’s important.

Instead of deciding that you must publish a book, identify an issue that you can solve. The key is helpful information, however it’s presented.

Internet Marketing is a Cycle

Posted June 19th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications
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On the phone with a prospective client the other day, I suddenly realized that my hand was making a repetitive circular motion as I explained the way internet marketing for small business works.

Well, after all, it is circular. One event touches off another, which creates another, and so on. Every thing affects all the other things in the cycle.

Your description of the process may vary, depending on basic orientation. But roughly, it’s going to be something like:

  • website leads to
  • changing content, which leads to
  • social media, which leads to
  • subscriber list, which leads to
  • sales, which leads to
  • new website content.

Your online branding, shared via social media, works unceasingly to bring buyers to you. It’s a relatively simple formula.

  1. Figure out how to represent your biz via recorded media of some kind (written word, audio, video, etc.)
  2. Create a schedule for ongoing creation of this content – and follow through!
  3. Offer subscriptions and send valuable information to opt-ins.
  4. Follow up with honest selling and obsessive customer service.
  5. Get a recorded testimonial from your thrilled customer. Use the experience of actual sales to create new content.

Speakers and Listeners

Posted May 30th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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After returning from a trip last weekend, I posted some photos to Facebook. The last time I uploaded any photos there was many moons ago, so it’s a notable event. Similarly, though I often post links on Facebook, you won’t see many simply chatty updates from me.

Why not?

Ah, well, you caught me. I must confess I just wasn’t born that way. Talking about me is definitely not one of my skills. Ask me a question and I’ll respond enthusiastically; but lacking a direct query I’m not likely to pipe up about my life.

Thank goodness so many people do like to share their impulses and off-the-cuffness. Social media would be dull indeed without it!

Before you bust me for a deadbeat, let me point out that being spontaneous and freely sharing is a breeze for me when it comes to commenting on other people’s updates. It’s completely natural for me to participate in discussions that others start. I’m a player and supporter as much as anyone.

Every show requires an audience. There are the extroverted types who lead online, and the introverted types who arbitrate between those leaders. The internet is made up of both speakers and listeners.

Controlling the Message

Posted May 1st, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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One of my clients loves social media and internet communications because in those media, she is able to go back and edit her statements. Compared to delivering an elevator speech at a local networking meeting or telling someone in person about your business, talking about your business can be far easier online, where you have the chance to carefully construct your message.

Ironic, isn’t it? The immediacy of the internet is counter-balanced by the slowed pace of written composition that allows for crafting perfected communications. This contrasts with in-person conversations or telephone talk. Most social media updates allow for editing before (and often after) publishing.

What happens online is both word of mouth and ad copy, at the same time. You cannot control what others say about you, but your control of the company message is more powerful than ever before.

This doesn’t just boil down to refraining from tweeting when you’re drunk.

Do you proofread every update to be sure your language makes sense? Do you work diligently to use language that is responsive, authentic, and compassionate? Do you stay alert to issues of concern to your market and address them appropriately?

Smarter conversations. That’s what inbound marketing is.


Poetry and Search Engines

Posted April 25th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications
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Though I am trying one more time, so far Technorati refuses to accept this blog. Their given excuses are obtuse, but I’m guessing that their algorithm can’t comprehend my 200-word maxim. (For an explanation, see right sidebar.) I believe said algorithm is reading this blog page as a series of products.

Crazy. I set out to master a literary trick, and the software labels me a fraud.

It’s woman vs. machine!

Well, no need to overdo it, but I’m going to take this opportunity to rail on a bit about blog post length.

My message, in short: cut ’em down, people!

I get so tired of wading through excess verbiage. Give it to me straight: I can take it!

No search engine should rely on length of text to determine a page’s worth. As a lowly layperson, I don’t know if alternatives are possible. But we humans mustn’t be bound by some arbitrary, technical rule.

Such conventions exist because we fear pretenders who would short-shrift us. This is a false limitation. We can trust ourselves to know the difference between poetry and garbage.

Search engines aren’t so wise, but until they become so, they’re of limited worth to real people.


Looking for Your Target Market

Posted April 16th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications
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I’ve been listening to online preachers of internet and inbound marketing for the past five years and there’s one phrase that has never been replaced with a better one. Lingo should become more precise over time, but this term remains obtuse.

I’m referring to our habit of insisting that in order to get a leg up with your internet presence, you need to identify where your target market ‘hangs out.’

Now, you’re a professional, you have responsibilities and a helluva lot to do. You may party down once a week or month, but ‘hanging out’ is not something on your daily list. Oh, you visit Facebook every day, but the chance you’ll see a certain update is small.

So now we have to face the fact that it’s far less a matter of figuring out “where your target customers are hanging out” and much more a matter of ranking for a large number of keywords, being ubiquitous online, turning up around every corner.

Alright then. How do I connect with my ideal customers online and get them to opt-in to my list? Simple. Content, content, and more content. Title it, tag it, publish, rinse and repeat. Give, then get.

Your Internet Consultant

Posted March 28th, 2012 by admin and filed in Branding, Communications, social media
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If you have trouble adjusting to change, you may have problems with the internet, because the overall beta mode of everything online is nothing if not subject to change.

Sometimes I fear that my clients’ patience will give out. We set up some app or site and then the rules shift.

I wonder how anyone who doesn’t study the internet in depth can understand what’s going on, much less trust any of it. When you are there everyday, the pieces fit together; but if you check in only sporadically, it must seem a crazy tangle of nonsense. How can you keep up with all the changes?

This is why the person you select as consultant for your business needs online must be someone you deeply trust. As with your broker, your lawyer, or your doctor, you may at times trust them to take actions on your behalf whether or not you completely understand the rationale. You’re too busy to stay on top of all that: you trust your advisor to handle it.

Look for technical and communications expertise in an inbound marketing consultant; but far more important is to know the person sincerely has only your best interests at heart.


Copyright Infringements Online

Posted March 13th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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It’s quite predictable, of course: another article frantically warning that a particular association online will bring disaster. Paranoias related to social media networks, privacy, and internet exposure in general are rampant. The particular article in question pins it to Pinterest.

To summarize: the post says Pinterest sets the user up for enormous liabilities because of the potential for copyright infringement.

Copyright is so often an issue because only some  internet users ‘get’ that it’s all about sharing and that limiting the spread of your digital content is just dumb. Too many users still think of the internet statically, not interactively.

As of now, there are 535 comments on this photographer/lawyer’s post. I read a few from each side of the argument.

It’s easy to state my view on the controversy, one that’s shared with many sensible people: if you put it online, you no longer control where else it will appear.

Ever tried getting a scraper to stop copying you? Is the effort really worth your time? What, exactly, are you losing when your free-to-the-public content is stolen?

It seems sharing trumps hoarding on the internet. No question but the web turns our ideas of competition and defense on end.

Hyper or Linked?

Posted March 4th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Most of us have ambitions, things we want to do or create. But there’s also a ton that the outside world wants us to do. Sometimes it’s not easy to know which motivations are truly yours and which are pressures from without.

Accepting social media and incorporating it into your business rides that fine line between something you really want to do and something the world around is requesting that you do.

Examples: we’ve felt pressured to join Google+, create fancy Facebook tabs, collect a million Twitter followers. Then after a bit of time rolls by, Google+ deflates, FB tabs are replaced by the Timeline, and your million followers have proven entirely useless to you.

Our (positive, growth-oriented) gut-driven drives should be acted upon quickly, but much in life actually does not require the immediate response that may be implied by the times, a seller, fashion, or other impinging force. Much of the time, we’ll fare far better by waiting to see what happens.

Maturity is marked by such an ability to wait. Maturity is knowing when to wait-and-see, and to do so with calm control.

Maybe we can develop a wiser culture on the internet, less hyper, better linked.

Consumption and Contribution

Posted February 13th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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Like many of my clients, I’m an introvert. Therefore I both celebrate and abuse social media.

My essentially antisocial nature adores the internet’s offer of endless learning and infinite resources without having to participate in the F2F world.

But here’s the dark side: I am too often here to consume, not to contribute.

Online, declining to contribute is tantamount to abuse. Your consumption isn’t compensated; content consumed doesn’t result in energy. It’s eaten, and turned to waste.

An example: We set up a LinkedIn group for a local business roundtable. Of 20+ participants in the meetings, less than half contribute to discussions. I suspect the others are lurking, with nothing to say. Discussion threads are built by the same few group members, and then abandoned for lack of interest. It’s a shame!

I wonder what the overall membership to participant ratio is for LinkedIn groups.

Why do we elect to stay mum? Either we have no opinion, or we don’t care about the issue, or we aren’t willing to write and identify ourselves, or … ?

Sure, it’s difficult to comment, to contribute, to create and publish with confidence. The web has enabled us only marginally to express more freely.