Do you feel like you don’t fit in? Are you wondering how you can succeed in business by being different? To learn about how your unique qualities can help you achieve success in the business world, I interview Chris Brogan for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast. More About This Show The Social [...]
Are there rules for great writing when it comes to business?
I am often asked where I find the time to write. I am often asked about why I write and publish so much content. I am often asked where I find the inspiration for the content that I create. I am often asked how I decide which ideas are turned into books or blog posts or articles. The answer is simple: I don’t just love to write, I am dedicated to writing because I am a writer. As much as I love marketing and helping brands connect better to their consumers, it all starts with words on a page (for me). I have been writing non-fiction since the late eighties. I have written hundreds (probably thousands) of articles for newspapers and magazines over the years. I have written two business book (Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete). I have contributed chapters and content to several other business books. I have published well over 5000 blog post entries since 2002. I write. I write… and I keep on writing. Today, every brand is trying to create more content. They are realizing the value in issuing more than a press release or advertorial. This shift in content is, at its core, forcing brands to become better (and more creative) writers. Consumers no longer have patience for jargon and industry blather. They want to read something that resonates with them. Are there rules? Are there tricks? Are there shortcuts?
When it comes to writing for business, this I believe…
1. Read. Read. Read. If you don’t read a ton, you will never be a great (or relevant) writer. Reading brings perspective. Reading illuminates ideas. Reading will force you to ask yourself some tough questions. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read industry related magazines, websites and blogs. Subscribe to e-newsletters. Follow interesting people on Twitter and Facebook. Read magazines and subjects that you have no immediate interest in. Read different perspectives (even people you do not agree with). To be inspired, you have to get inspired. Reading creates a perpetual wealth of inspiration. Even poorly written and boring books can inspire you as well (just drop them if it’s truly dreadful).
2. There is no such thing as writer’s block. What do you do if the words are not flowing… if you are blocked. In truth, you aren’t blocked. Trust me. Seth Godin said it best: you don’t have thinker’s block and you don’t have talker’s block, so you can’t have writer’s block. There is simply no such thing. If you have trouble believing me, there are two books that you should read and the words will always flow after that. Check out Steven Pressfield‘s The War Of Art (or Do The Work) and Mark Levy‘s The Accidental Genius. Start with Mark’s book and focus, almost exclusively, on his exercises for free writing. Trust me, if you’re thinking and you’re talking, you can be writing.
3. Write for yourself. Too many people sit down, stare at the blank screen and wonder to themselves, “what do people want to read?” Huge mistake. You sat down because something inspired you. It may have been something you saw or something you read. Write those words down without judgment. Don’t worry about what people will think. Write for yourself. Dig deep. Pull out everything. Every emotion. Ultimately, people connect with content that is real. That reads like it was written by a real human being. They want the words to bleed. If you need inspiration, check out Charles Bukowski for the rawest of raw. If you want something closer to the business world, people like James Altucher and Bob Lefsetz write with their hearts on their sleeves. It oozes out of them. They’re writing for themselves, and in doing so are finding and connecting with others who want more content that is real.
4. Write fast. This doesn’t mean to publish fast. It means to write fast. Too many people start writing and harp on each and every word, the grammar and more. You will get to that. The act of real business writing should start with a simpler action: write. Write it all down. Write it down as fast at it comes. You must always set aside some time later to tweak, edit, chop, improve and fix the nuances. If you bring to your writing a sense of urgency, you will have fewer issues getting stuck or – even worse – not being able to begin. Even if you’re heading down the wrong path, please keep writing fast and let the words flow, you may well be surprised at how quickly your fingers and brain will course-correct.
5. Write quiet. You need to be alone with your thoughts. This doesn’t mean that you should need full silence to work (check out the next point), it just means that you need to focus on the words. So, if you’re able to not be around the TV or music with lyrics, do that (external conversations could influence your content – whether you’re aware of it or not). This isn’t about distraction in as much as it’s about allowing the words from your brain to find your fingers in the most direct path as possible. Personally, I find that writing with music that has no lyrics (preferably mellow jazz or classical music) can sometimes help and sometimes hinder the flow of words. Lately, I have been enjoying the act of writing while the Coffitivity app is working in the background. It’s like white noise, but with the sounds of a coffee shop. So, sounds are fine, but you want your mind to be quiet to the words.
6, Write anywhere. If you love to write and you have something to say, you can write anywhere. I know far too many people who approach writing with their snoots in the air. They need a specific location, they need their rituals, they need specific pens and papers or software or whatever. Forget all that. Suck it up and write. When I used to be deeply involved in coaching close-quarters combatives, we would often work/train with military personnel. We would often be told stories of how they would be in the back of a truck, heading towards a hostile zone for combat, and their leaders would tell them to grab a nap. Within minutes everyone would be sleeping. How is that possible? I’d be too nervous to sleep, the bouncing of the truck would keep me awake and so much more. These soldiers were told to sleep (without knowing when they might get another chance to rest), so they went to sleep. When it’s time to write, I think about these soldiers. If they can sleep in those conditions, I can write anywhere. This includes an airport gate, a doctor’s waiting room or whatever. I also love this quote from Henry Rollins: “If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you.” When I want to be a better writer, I think of this quote.
7. Create a schedule. Stick to it. The problem that blogging brought to writing is the ability for anyone to write and publish whenever they wanted. Yes, that’s a problem. To really become a great business writer, you need a schedule and you need to stick to it. When people love and want content, they don’t want it sporadically. They want to feel comfortable with it. They want to know when it’s coming and how frequently they can get it. For this, you need to build a plan and get your readers on a schedule. The best part about this? The schedule also forces you to get much more consistent with your writing.
8. Don’t worry about your voice. I’ve heard many writers tell me that they are still trying to find their voice. Over the years, I have come to believe that every writer does have a voice, but very few will ever know what it truly is or when they found it. Instead of waiting to find your voice, aim for consistency. Consistently force yourself to write and to get better. Work on it. Write. Write some more. What you will find is this: the more you write, the more consistent the quality of your writing becomes, the more it improves overall, and then a voice will emerge. Whether you know it and plan for it or not.
9. Stay healthy. Smoking. Drinking. Fast food. Ah, the life of a writer! It’s going to kill you. It’s going to kill you even faster if you spend the bulk of your waking hours hunched over a MacBook Air. Great words come when your entire body is in good physical and mental shape. This means your mind, body and spirit. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all New Age-y on you, but don’t think for a second that taking the time to have a clean/healthy diet, coupled with a regular exercise regime and some mindfulness exercises won’t improve your output exponentially. It will. I read a great book called, Daily Rituals, that tells the story of the world’s greatest writers and their daily practices. I was, somewhat, shocked (but not all that surprised) at how many of the world’s most loved authors take plenty of time in their day to do some form of brisk exercise along with mental breaks. Just don’t mistaken these activities for procrastination. So, if you’re writing regularly, move regularly and eat wholesome foods.
10. Create an outline. If it’s a short piece of content, just spend a couple of minutes writing out – in bullet-point form – everything that you would like to cover. If it’s for a longer piece or book, prepare a proper outline. My personal preference is to write out a paragraph about what I’m looking to cover (my thesis) and then chapter (or major paragraph) summaries. This works like magic, because if you start writing off-topic, you can keep on going and simply copy/paste that content where it belongs, because you have an outline. Here’s a black belt tip for this: if you’re going to write anything of any significant length, use the software Scrivener. It’s amazing and it enables you to see your outline as you write.
11. Copy your heroes. This may seem contentious, but it’s not. If you read something that is truly compelling, it is because it fits with your style. What are the things that move you? Can you replicate it? What’s your spin on it? I laughed the other week when Chris Brogan published a blog post titled, Seth Godin Said It Already. When you admire someone, their ideas (and the people who inspired them) are bound to leak into your work. Embrace it, study it and put your own reflection on it. If you need more source material for this, check out Austin Kleon‘s clever book, Steal Like An Artist.
12. Always ask questions. Writers think that they have all of the answers. They don’t. The best writers ask great questions, they then use writing as a mechanism to find the answers. Malcolm Gladwell wanted to know how many hours it takes to become an expert, or why we think that Goliath had an unfair advantage over David? If I am ever stumped for something to write about, I choose an article that moved me and simply ask myself, “why?” Why do you agree or disagree with something? Why is your industry the way that it is? What would happen if you could kill your dogma? See. Questions. The more your ask, the more content you will have. Promise.
13. Share your work. Another hat tip to Austin Kleon for this one. He just published his latest book and it’s called (wait for it), Show Your Work! Too many people try to protect, hide and do their writing in secret. The genie is out of the bottle. We all know that great writing is a process. Share the process. We have so many amazing online resources now to connect, share and communicate with one another. You don’t need the permission of an editor to publish your content, and you don’t even need a book publisher to get your book out into the world. In a world where everyone is creating content, why not be someone who shares your work?
14. Be real. Be human. This is, without a doubt, the biggest problem with business writing today. We either have a scenario where the company wants every single syllable to be as boring as their human resources handbook, or we have individuals with a title who feel like everything that they say needs to be at a level where no other human being can understand it. Both of these groups fall into the “we want to appear smart,” category of writing. It sucks. It doesn’t work, unless it true, real and authentic. There are smart writers out there (Clay Shirky, Nilofer Merchant and Douglas Rushkoff come to mind), who have big brains, but everything that they write is still very real and real human. This is the ultimate question that people creating business content must ask themselves when they think that they are done creating: is this content real? Is this content human? Will it touch and inspire someone’s heart? If it reads like a press release or corporate drivel, please do yourself (and everyone else) a favor: start over.
15. Ask for input. Don’t be afraid. At every moment that you need it. It could be to validate the core thesis, it could be a final proofing before you hit the publish button. If you’re not confident in your thinking or your words, ask for input. Too many writers in our world believe that the work is a solo venture. Nobody can get the ideas from between your earholes on to the screen (this is true), but there is always someone who may be willing to lend their ears, eyes, hands and brain to help you formulate the piece to make it better. This is why the best writers use editors. Find your editors. Lean on them. Listen to them. Learn from them.
Those are my rules for business writers… what are yours?
1 month ago • advertorial, article, austinkleon, Blog, blogpost, boblefsetz, book, bookoutline, bookproposal, bookpublisher, brand, businessbook, businesswriter, businesswriting, businesswritingrules, charlesbukowski, chrisbrogan, clayshirky, coffitivity, consumer, content, contentmarketing, creativeblock, creativewriter, creativewriting, ctrlaltdelete, dailyrituals, davidandgoliath, dothework, douglasrushkoff, editing, Editor, enewsletter, Facebook, freewriting, grammar, greatwriting, henryrollins, industrypublication, jamesaltucher, jargon, macbookair, magazine, magazinearticle, malcolmgaldwell, marketing, marklevy, mentalbreak, mindfulness, newspaper, newspaperarticle, niolfermerchant, outliers, pressrelease, publish, publishing, read, reading, scrivener, sethgodin, showyourwork, sixpixelsofseparation, steallikeanartist, stevenpressfield, theaccidentalgenius, thewarofart, Twitter, write, writer, writersblock, writersvoice, Writing, writingprocess, writingsoftware, writingtools • Tags: advertorial, article, austin kleon, blog, blog post, bob lefsetz, book, book outline, book proposal, book publisher, brand, business book, business writer, business writing, business writing rules, charles bukowski, chris brogan, clay shirky, coffitivity, consumer, content, content marketing, creative block, creative writer, creative writing, ctrl alt delete, daily rituals, david and goliath, do the work, douglas rushkoff, editing, editor, enewsletter, facebook, free writing, freewriting, grammar, great writing, henry rollins, industry publication, james altucher, jargon, macbook air, magazine, magazine article, malcolm galdwell, mark levy, marketing, mental break, mindfulness, newspaper, newspaper article, niolfer merchant, outliers, press release, publish, publishing, read, reading, scrivener, seth godin, show your work, six pixels of separation, steal like an artist, steven pressfield, the accidental genius, the war of art, twitter, write, writer, writers block, writers voice, writing, writing process, writing software, writing tools
Now that everyone complains… nobody cares when there is a complaint.
There was a time (not that long ago), when someone’s complaint online would be rocketed to the executive office, changes were made and brands were being held accountable for their foibles and mishaps. It was the early days of social media (nearly a decade ago). We had the Slashdot effect and more. It was a time when Jeff Jarvis complained about his experience with Dell (now, a story that lives on in infamy as Dell Hell) and it (along with other similar stories) demonstrated that the power to publish a story online had ramifications well beyond the usual “write a letter to the company” and hope that they respond. Back then, you would do an online search and see massive corporate websites vying for search engine optimization over someone with a blog and a bad customer experience. Online social networking took hold and these stories were further exasperated. Brands went from private responses to very publicly trying to resolve customer service issues.
David meets Goliath.
It’s hard not to face the reality that the vast majority of brands came into social media and digital connectedness kicking and screaming. They made very public concessions and apologies. Several organizations have since restructured how their marketing, communications, customer service and more interact with each other and with consumers. Transparency, speed-to-response, bringing a sense of humanity to the brand have all become corporate cultural pillars that every brand now lives to embody. It’s not easy. Remember back when the sentiment was that a brand needs to respond to everything – positive, negative and neutral – everywhere?
But, there’s something else.
Do brands really care anymore? Are there now so many people online, in so many places that it has become both impossible to keep up and, to be raw, not all that important for brands to respond because of the sheer volume? Did the whole United breaks guitars actually do any material damage to the brand? There are some many customer reviews online, that it is often difficult to make heads or tails of something. I’ll often find myself wondering about how brands respond to customer service online, because the same/annoying passive-aggressive type of customer service calls are now being embodied in the digital channels. In fact, when I have a customer service issue, I am prone to not post it online, as I don’t feel the need to leverage my community to get a response or a desire to publicly call any one brand out. I simply want a response and resolve to be done privately. The desire for brands to force this outing on social media is bewildering to me. This past week, Chris Brogan was ranting about his own customer service issues with Dell (you can read about it right here: Update to my Dell Hell Story).
Social Media Cowboys.
Brogan’s raw frustrations or issue with Dell and their products isn’t the crux. The real point of focus lies in the corporate integration. Forgetting that this is Dell, that this is Chris Brogan and that all of this is very public, what we’re seeing is a failure of integration. I loved his use of the term “social media cowboys”, because it speaks volumes to the real challenges that a brand faces in a world where consumers are both the center and the true omni-channel of a brand experience. Sadly, most companies have some kind of social media cowboy. It’s an analytics package, it’s a social media monitoring tool, it’s a real-time marketing command center, it’s a handful of work-from-home helpers, it’s a four person team working within the communications or customer service center to be listening and responding to trending issues. In short, it all means nothing, if it’s not integrated into the core product/service. Having a handful of emails (or people) run through the organization with their hair on fire because someone with any semblance of an audience (like Chris Brogan or anyone else) is demanding answers doesn’t change how a brand operates. It creates a dissonance with how everything else runs.
What have we learned? This is what really made me sad and frustrated after reading Chris’ post: we have not learned much after all of this time. And, for all of the talking that has been done, not much has changed. You would think that Dell (which is often held up as a case study is excellence for social media and monitoring) would be able to nail something so basic. So, left to our devices, I’m wondering how many true strides brands have really made in an effort to be better, to be more transparent, to be more human and to connect more with their consumers? Ultimately, how many brands have built a better organization, in a world where every voice now has a stage and an audience?
I’m hoping this isn’t the end of customer service.
2 months ago • brand, brandexperience, chrisbrogan, communications, corporateintegration, customer+service, customerexperience, customerreviews, Dell, dellhell, digitalchannel, digitalconnectedness, jeffjarvis, marketing, omnichannel, onlinecomplaint, onlinesocialnetworking, publishing, realtimemarketing, searchengine, searchengineoptimization, Slashdot, slashdoteffect, socialmedia, socialmediacasestudy, socialmediacowboy, socialmediamonitoring, transparency, unitedairlines, unitedbreaksguitars, webanalytics • Tags: brand, brand experience, chris brogan, communications, corporate integration, customer experience, customer reviews, customer service, dell, dell hell, digital channel, digital connectedness, jeff jarvis, marketing, omni channel, online complaint, online social networking, publishing, real time marketing, search engine, search engine optimization, slashdot, slashdot effect, social media, social media case study, social media cowboy, social media monitoring, transparency, United Airlines, united breaks guitars, web analytics
You know who Chris Brogan is, right? Skip the following paragraph. What?!? You don’t know the name? Chris is the publisher of Owner Magazine, CEO of Human Business Works, a publishing and media company, a keynote speaker, marketing consultant to major brands, and the bestselling author of six books. Marketers want a piece of Chris. […]
Are you thinking of starting a podcast for your business? Wondering how top podcasters use their podcasts to grow their businesses? To learn how podcasting can help build your business, I interview Michael Hyatt and Chris Brogan for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is [...]
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014. What’s your plan?
I was never a fan of goal-setting… and even less of a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. For a long while, I was working within a framework called The Goal Cultivator courtesy of Dan Sullivan (aka The Strategic Coach). I felt like his perspective on goal cultivating versus goal setting was a new paradigm, and – in looking back at those initial exercises – it’s amazing to see how profound that experience was in shaping my present-day situation (special thanks to my dear friend, Barry Pascal, for introducing me to the work of The Strategic Coach). Every year, Chris Brogan (Trust Agents, The Impact Equation, etc…) does an exercise he calls, My 3 Words For The Year. Brogan explains it like this: “In an effort to tell bigger stories, I’ve found that the concept of three words allows me to think in more dimensions about what I want to do with my life and it lets me apply lots of tangible goals instead of what most people do when they focus on just a finite task. It’s a bit like turbo-charged goal planning.” He unveils how his process for coming up with his three words for the year and unveils them on January 1st of each new year.
I’ve been doing this exercise ever since Brogan first introduced it. Each year, around December – without prompting – I find myself starting to think about my three words. The pressure is on. It’s a good pressure, but it’s pressure. All of us hope to do more, be more and achieve more. Nailing it down to three words is always a welcome challenge. This year, I have decided to make them public (as I did last year). Part of the work that I did within The Goal Cultivator program proved to me that “putting it out there” makes it real, tangible and easier to focus on. So, here’s goes everything…
My 3 Words For 2014
- Lose. I hate to lose. We all hate to lose. You will hear people say that all of the greats have lost more often than they have won. I still want to “win.” Badly. In 2014, I’m going to think deeply about the moments when things don’t work out the way I had hoped or wished for. I’m going to try to get through the mourning period quicker by forecasting the lessons of loss in a more pragmatic and less emotional way. Still, that’s one of the smaller reasons I chose “lose” as one of my words. In fact, I need to lose a lot of things in 2014. From a couple of pounds (who doesn’t need to lose that?) to the bad habits that I picked up last year of not reading enough books. This year, I’m going to lose many more tiny and nuanced changes I have had in my professional career and adjust them more than ever. “Lose” to me represents the same thinking as working with an editor (which, I sadly only get to do on bigger writing projects like a book or submitting a piece to the Harvard Business Review). I am going to do my best to lose and edit a lot of my current work tactics in an effort to “sharpen the sword” and gain more efficiency. Time to lose a bunch of stuff in 2014 that wasn’t working for me in 2013, and embrace the fact that to lose is a set-up shot for the rest of the game, when played well and accepted.
- Win. A long time ago, one of my business partners at Twist Image once told me that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose every new business pitch, but rather that you keep on going. If you look, historically, at some of the greatest marketing agencies that our world has ever seen, it is not the ones that won the most pitches that have survived and thrived. It is the ones that became resilient and just kept on going (not winning over time, but winning enough to grow). Granted, this great piece of advice came from the same individual who often reminds me that they don’t get out of bed in the morning to “break even,” and this is the same individual who used to have a sign up in their old office that read: “Be brilliant. Be brief. Be gone.” The message is clear: we need to win more. Not that I didn’t have enough “wins” in the past, and not that I don’t love to win, but winning more in the sense of crossing a symbolic finish line not by inching my hand across it, but with a smile and a sense of abundance. This is also about taking a moment to celebrate the good stuff too. It’s about doing enough training and practice, so that you don’t just get something done, but rather you feel like you have won at the task or effort. This notion of “win” can probably best be summed up by thinking about the title of Todd Henry‘s latest book on creativity titled, Die Empty. To me, winning will be about dying empty. Leaving it all out there and making sure that it was the best that I could do.
- Stop. I don’t stop often enough. To breathe. To play some electric bass. To read more. To look you in the eyes and have a meaningful conversation. To have breakfast with old friends. To go for a long and unplanned walk. To be “in the moment” instead of thinking about what’s coming next. This is a simple extension of what James Altucher would call “time traveling.” It’s something we all do. And we do it often. We stress over things that happened in the past, or we worry about what could potentially go wrong in the future and all this does is cause us worry, anxiety and damage in the present. We can’t control or do anything about our past or a future that does not yet exist, so we “time travel” instead of living in the present with purpose and mindfulness. Stop. 2014 will provide many more instances for me to stop. Yes, even to stop and smell the roses.
What three words will you focus on in 2014?
4 months ago • barrypascal, businessbook, chrisbrogan, dansullivan, dieempty, Editor, efficiency, electricbass, goal, goalplanning, goalsetting, happynewyear, harvardbusinessreview, jamesaltucher, lose, marketing, marketingagency, mythreewords, mythreewordsfor2104, newbusinesspitch, newyearsresolutions, professionalcareer, readingbooks, thegoalcultivator, theimpactequation, thestrategiccoach, toddhenry, trustagents, twistimage • Tags: barry pascal, business book, chris brogan, dan sullivan, die empty, editor, efficiency, electric bass, goal, goal planning, goal setting, happy new year, harvard business review, james altucher, lose, marketing, marketing agency, my three words, my three words for 2104, new business pitch, new years resolutions, professional career, reading books, the goal cultivator, the impact equation, the strategic coach, todd henry, trust agents, twist image
My friend Marcus Sheridan wrote a very forthright blog post (as is his custom) recently called “8 People That Dramatically Impacted My Life in 2013.” I was amazed and gratified to have been mentioned in that post. Here’s what Marcus wrote: I’m going to be very honest here and say there have been times I’ve […]
4 months ago • Careers, Jason Falls, Kelly McDonald, marcus sheridan, mark sanborn, mentorship, personal branding, rory vaden, The Virtuous Circle of Mentorship and Its Impact on Your Career, virtuous circle • Tags: chris brogan
Social Media for Executives – Interview with Chris Brogan originally published on Tech Page One. With 27% of total U.S. internet time spent on social networking sites (Experian) and 55% of marketers spending more marketing budget on social media in 2013 (eMarketer), the momentum of the social web has clearly gained mass appeal. Yet many [...]
How do you think brands are doing when it comes to social media marketing?
My friend, Chris Brogan (co-author with Julien Smith of Trust Agents and The Impact Equation), laments the state of social media marketing in one of his latest blog posts, The Bare Truth About Social Media Marketing. While Brogan paints the landscape with a wide brush and lacks any quantitative of qualitative data to back it up (beyond his own review of what some brands are doing in spaces like blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), it’s easy to understand and relate to his frustrations.
Social media is not living up to its promise.
You don’t have to go that far back in time. A little over ten years since the publishing of the momentous business book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, painted a picture of how brands could now conduct themselves. Everything was so bright and hopeful back then. Suddenly, all of this inter-connectivity and untethered consumers would lead us to a path where markets truly would become conversations and the promise of Don Peppers and Martha Rogers‘ one to one marketing world would and could come true. In a way, social media has over-delivered on certain aspects of the equation. No one could have imagined just how transformative these technologies and innovations have become. Nobody could have imagined how willfully consumers would want to connect and publicly share so much personal and contextual information. Nobody could have imagined a world where each and every one of us would become our own media channels, publishing our thoughts in text, images, audio and video to the Web… and to the world in real time. Nobody could have imagined the volume of data sets and information that now paint a very different consumer profile, which transcends the world of demographics and psychographics. Just look at what is happening today on Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and more. The opportunity for businesses to connect in a much deeper, richer and more profound way could not be easier. Brands truly can have real interactions between real human beings.
So, what is so wrong?
For my dollar, people like Brogan (and I count myself in the same camp as him) simply wants brands to become more personal and more personable. In short, brands have passed the social media marketing test because they are using it as an added way to communicate. I would argue that communications is not the point… creating true connections is the point. This is not a debate of semantics, but a much larger corporate conversation that brands are simply not eager to have. If you surveyed the vast majority of these brands, they will not understand the gripes of Brogan, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Nilofer Merchant, Avinash Kaushik, Joseph Jaffe or me. They will point to the amount of people who are following them on Twitter or how many likes they have on Facebook and push it further by showing the level of engagement they have with consumers in terms of speed-to-response or resolution in regards to a customer service issue as the barometer for success. They will demonstrate how often their messages are shared, liked, promoted and retweeted. They will highlight individual consumer feedback as a metaphor for the direct relationship that they now have with consumers, but they are still missing the point.
So, what could be so right?
Using social media to communicate a message is the obvious stuff. To this day, we have all-too-many brands who don’t even know how to nail down that very elementary component. What brands are missing, when it comes to social media is the true connection. The trust that is built out of real interactions between real human beings. And, quite frankly, they’re missing this point because social media marketing is simply seen as any other form of corporate marketing and communications. It may even be agency-led or outsourced to a company that specializes in community management. Brands aren’t internalizing the power of how to be social, so the act of social media is simply an extension of the communications and not a true connection between brand and consumer.
Getting social media right.
It’s not easy. It’s not perfect. It’s not fast. It takes time. There is not one set way for all companies to engage and connect. Because of this, brands look at social media marketing much in the same way that they look at their campaigns or their quarterly goals. And, if we’re going to honest about this, that just won’t cut it. Social media is organizational and it’s not a vertical within the marketing or corporate communications department. Social media is the horizontal that runs across the organization, much in the same way that the culture, brand and human resources should. If we benchmark social media by campaigns and quarters, we are relegating it to a world where its efficacy won’t be about how to build a better brand through better connections, but rather a world where its only role is to augment and supplement the communications of a brand. That sounds like more noise to me.
That would be a shameful waste… wouldn’t it?
10 months ago • advertisingcampaigns, avinashkaushik, Blog, brand, businessbook, chrisbrogan, communications, communitymanagement, connectedconsumer, consumerengagement, consumerprofile, contextualmarketing, corporatecommunications, corporateculture, customer+service, datamarketing, directrelationship, donpeppers, Facebook, garyvaynerchuk, google, humanresources, Innovation, instagram, josephjaffe, juliensmith, marketing, marketingagency, marketsareconversations, martharogers, mediachannel, nilofermerchant, onetoonemarketing, pinterest, publisher, publishing, sethgodin, socialmedia, socialmediaagency, socialmediamarketing, technology, thecluetrainmanifesto, theimpactequation, thepersonalbrand, trustagents, Twitter, Vine, webanalytics, YouTube • Tags: advertising campaigns, avinash kaushik, blog, brand, business book, chris brogan, communications, community management, connected consumer, consumer engagement, consumer profile, contextual marketing, corporate communications, corporate culture, customer service, data marketing, direct relationship, don peppers, facebook, gary vaynerchuk, google, human resources, innovation, instagram, joseph jaffe, julien smith, marketing, marketing agency, markets are conversations, martha rogers, media channel, nilofer merchant, one to one marketing, pinterest, publisher, publishing, seth godin, social media, social media agency, social media marketing, technology, the cluetrain manifesto, the impact equation, the personal brand, trust agents, twitter, vine, web analytics, youtube
Don’t blame technology for our unhealthy relationship with it.
Grazing the magazine newsstand on my flight to NYC last week, I was thrilled to see that the latest edition of Fast Company was on sale. I was even more excited to see Baratunde Thurston on the cover. Most people knew Thurston as the director of digital for The Onion. He then moved on to become a bestselling author (How To Be Black), a well recognized speaker, a a regular contributor at Fast Company and much more. In short, he was riding the wave of his digital connectedness upriver into global success, while developing a personal brand to be reckon with (over 140,000 followers on Twitter, multiple appearances in mainstream media and more). My heart sunk when I saw the name of the cover story: #Unplug – My Life Was So Crazy, I Disconnected For 25 Days. You Should Too. Next up: the siren-ringing sounds of your life as it comes crashing to a halt. There is a simple truth here that people don’t want to admit: it’s not the technology and all of this inter-connectedness that is the problem… it’s us.
Unplugging may make your misery worse.
How many notifications do you have set up in your life? Think about your smartphone. When does it notify you of anything? A voice call? A text message? A voicemail message? An update from Facebook? A direct message from Twitter? When you have a scheduled appointment? When someone would like to set-up an appointment? A notification that a meeting is about to happen? A warning that your flight may be delayed? What about your computer? A new email? An incoming Skype chat? A request to connect via Google Hangouts? A reminder that your favorite blogger on Huffington Post has just published a new piece? A special price for that hotel you were hoping to stay at? The lists, pings rings, beeps, buzzers and more could go on and on. Lately, Thurston isn’t the only one talking about a more regimented social media and technology diet. The enthusiasm that many people are expressing to create these digital bankruptcies shore up to a bigger problem: finding a healthy balance in our lives.
Don’t blame the potato chips.
Thurston and others who have recently talked about their inability to keep up with the influx of digital inputs (Chris Brogan and Seth Godin have frequently discussed these issues) could be missing the bigger point: this is the inevitable outcome of success. If you do everything right in terms of building a platform or something that people want to pay attention to, you will never be prepared or able to deal with that success. The same is often the case for brands who are looking to hit viral gold. More often than not, they are not prepared and flounder when it actually works. It is very hard to scale a personality. In short, we become victims of our success. No one is going to cry for Thurston, Godin, Brogan, me or you. Let our biggest problems in life be that we can’t keep up with all of the people who want to consume our media and connect with us. Let our email become one big, unwinnable, game of Tetris where all we’re doing is moving those messages from the inbox to a folder while attempting to respond, only to have that inbox continually increase at a faster and faster click, until: game over.
How to take your life back (without unplugging).
People are often shocked when they spend any amount of time with me in my protein form. My smartphone, laptop and tablet have zero notifications. Zero. There is only one notification set and that is a customized vibration tone on my iPhone for when my spouse calls and/or texts me. That’s it. Otherwise, I look at my devices when I have a moment. Seems simple enough? It is. Over time (and I have been using these technology from very nascent stages), those who connect with me no longer have expectations of an immediate response. The goal is simple: never put yourself in Thurston’s position so that your life requires a moment to unplug. Instead of letting the technology and their notifications manage you, start managing your technology and notifications.
The results will stun you.
You won’t find me thumbing the iPhone while pushing my kids on the swing at the park, because there is nothing notifying me of any sort of message. So, unless I take a break on the park bench and decide to pick up the device on my own accord, I don’t have to play life judge and figure out if an email is more important than the swing-set. This is key: notifications are ambiguous. They no longer tell you what’s important, they simply inform you that there is something new to look at. Like the Pavlovian creatures that we are, we just can’t help but take a peek at what the message could mean. Over time, this conditioning has jaded our judgment and confused the importance of our work. Many people attack the last message that came in rather than the important ones. Many people attack the messages that are quick to respond to and wait for more time in their day to attack to the ones that require more work. All of this isn’t technology’s fault. All of this is our fault, because we’re allowing the technology to manage us, instead of the other way around.
Take a break.
Instead of taking a break for any period of time, start deactivating your notifications. Block off specific moments in the day when you will check your social feeds (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc…). Decide how much time you’re going to allocate to responding to email messages. A lot of the email back and forth can be solved with a thirty-second phone call, but we’ve conditioned ourselves to engage in a week-long email chain that looks more like a game of badminton than resolving a work-related issue. Agree that before you make a grab for any device, you will proactively define if what you’re doing in the here-and-now is more substantive than what may be on the digital screen in your pocket. See, if you unplug, you will eventually plug back in. What you’re plugging back into isn’t technology. You’re plugging back into bad habits. These habits were facilitated by how technology works, but they don’t have to be that way. The next time that you’re thinking about unplugging from it all, take a step back and ask yourself what, exactly, you’re unplugging from and how you can best manage the process? The vast majority of us will never have as much attention as Baratunde Thurston. The vast majority of us aren’t as gainfully engaged with all of these digital channels and social networks as Baratunde Thurston. Still, all of us can do a much better job at turning off the beeps, blips, lights, vibrations and ringers in our lives.
That act alone has nothing to to with unplugging, but everything to do with plugging into what is most important in our lives.
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for The Huffington Post. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:
10 months ago • badhabits, baratundethurston, brand, businessbook, businesscolumn, chrisbrogan, digitalbankruptcy, digitalchannel, digitalconnectedness, digitalscreen, email, Facebook, fastcompany, google, googlehangouts, howtobeblack, huffingtonpost, instagram, iphone, laptop, magazine, mediaattention, Newsstand, notifications, personalbrand, phonecall, pinterest, platform, sethgodin, skype, smartphone, socialfeed, socialmedia, socialmediadiet, socialnetwork, Tablet, technology, tetris, textmessage, theonion, Twitter, unplug, viralmarketing, voicemail • Tags: bad habits, baratunde thurston, brand, business book, business column, chris brogan, digital bankruptcy, digital channel, digital connectedness, digital screen, email, facebook, fast company, google, google hangouts, how to be black, huffington post, instagram, iphone, laptop, magazine, media attention, newsstand, notifications, personal brand, phone call, pinterest, platform, seth godin, skype, smartphone, social feed, social media, social media diet, social network, tablet, technology, tetris, text message, the onion, twitter, unplug, Viral Marketing, voicemail
Episode #349 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.
We are getting more regular when it comes to recording Media Hacks. In this semi-frequent podcast within this podcast we hold a roundtable …
1 year ago • advertisingpodcast, apple, bazaarvoice, Blog, blogging, brand, businessbook, ccchapman, chrisbrogan, christopherspenn, contentmarketing, davidusher, Dell, digitalmarketing, Doodle, ecommerce, Facebook, hughmcguire, itunes, juliensmith, marketing, marketingblogger, marketingpodcast, massrelevance, mediahacks, onlinesocialnetwork, podcast, podcasting, realtimemedia, samdecker, socialexperience, socialmedia • Tags: advertising podcast, apple, bazaarvoice, blog, blogging, brand, business book, cc chapman, chris brogan, christopher s penn, content marketing, david usher, dell, digital marketing, doodle, eCommerce, facebook, hugh mcguire, itunes, julien smith, marketing, marketing blogger, marketing podcast, mass relevance, media hacks, online social network, podcast, podcasting, real time media, sam decker, social experience, social media
Episode #342 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.
Does anyone remember Media Hacks? It was a semi-frequent podcast within this podcast that was a roundtable conversation with Chris Brogan, …
1 year ago • advertisingpodcast, Blog, blogging, brand, businessbook, ccchapman, chrisbrogan, christopherspenn, davidusher, digitalmarketing, Doodle, Facebook, hughmcguire, itunes, juliensmith, marketing, marketingblogger, marketingpodcast, mediahacks, onlinesocialnetwork, podcast, podcasting, socialmedia • Tags: advertising podcast, blog, blogging, brand, business book, cc chapman, chris brogan, christopher s penn, david usher, digital marketing, doodle, facebook, hugh mcguire, itunes, julien smith, marketing, marketing blogger, marketing podcast, media hacks, online social network, podcast, podcasting, social media
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013. What’s the plan?
I was never a fan of goal-setting… and even less of a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. For a long while, I was working within a framework called The Goal Cultivator courtesy of Dan Sullivan (aka The St…
1 year ago • barrypascal, beyond, brucelee, ccchapman, chrisbrogan, christopherspenn, comfortzone, ctrlaltdelete, dansullivan, goalcultivating, goalplanning, goalsetting, google, my3words, newyearsresolutions, starvation, student, TED, thegoalcultivator, theimpactequation, thestrategiccoach, tonyblauer, trustagents, twistimage, zeitgeist • Tags: barry pascal, beyond, bruce lee, cc chapman, chris brogan, christopher s penn, comfort zone, ctrl alt delete, dan sullivan, goal cultivating, goal planning, goal setting, google, my 3 words, new years resolutions, starvation, student, ted, the goal cultivator, the impact equation, the strategic coach, tony blauer, trust agents, twist image, zeitgeist
Read a good business book this year? Looking for the perfect holiday gift?
I’m usually one to shy away from "best of" and list-like posts, but ’tis the season (as they say). Beyond that, it was a great year for reading and there are some mar…
1 year ago • 11rulesforcreatingvalueinthesocialera, amazingthingswillhappen, austinkleon, bestbusinessbooks2012, brenebrown, businessbook, ccchapman, charlesduhigg, chrisanderson, chrisbrogan, claytonmchristensen, damngoodadvice, danariely, danielhpink, danpink, daringgreatly, georgelois, howwillyoumeasureyourlife, juliensmith, likeonomics, madmen, makers, nilofermerchant, petercoughter, quite, reading, rohitbhargava, socialbusiness, socialmedia, socialmediabook, steallikeanartist, susancain, theartofthepitch, thehonesttruthaboutdishonesty, theimpactequation, thepowerofhabit, tosellishuman, trustagents • Tags: 11 rules for creating value in the social era, amazing things will happen, austin kleon, best business books 2012, brene brown, business book, cc chapman, charles duhigg, chris anderson, chris brogan, clayton m christensen, damn good advice, dan ariely, dan pink, daniel h pink, daring greatly, george lois, how will you measure your life, julien smith, likeonomics, mad men, makers, nilofer merchant, peter coughter, quite, reading, rohit bhargava, social business, social media, social media book, steal like an artist, susan cain, the art of the pitch, the honest truth about dishonesty, the impact equation, the power of habit, to sell is human, trust agents
Episode #334 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.
Welcome to episode #334 of Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast. Please excuse the nepotism, but I treat Chris Brogan and Jul…
1 year ago • advertisingpodcast, Blog, blogging, brand, businessbook, chrisbrogan, davidusher, digitalmarketing, Facebook, itunes, juliensmith, marketing, marketingblogger, marketingpodcast, onlinesocialnetwork, podcast, podcasting, socialmedia, theimpactequation, trustagents • Tags: advertising podcast, blog, blogging, brand, business book, chris brogan, david usher, digital marketing, facebook, itunes, julien smith, marketing, marketing blogger, marketing podcast, online social network, podcast, podcasting, social media, the impact equation, trust agents
Now – more than ever – it’s possible to do business from anywhere at any time.
For over ten years, I’ve been doing my best to figure out how to be as upwardly mobile as possible. To ensure that I can work from anywhere and have access to everything th…
1 year ago • airportlounge, apple, bosequietcomfort, briefcase, businesscolumn, chrisbrogan, consumerelectronics, DropBox, eaglecreek, eaglecreekpackitspectersac, extensionchord, iphone5, iphoneapp, juliensmith, laptop, laptopbackpack, macbookair, mobile, mobilebusiness, Monster, montrealgazette, newbusiness, newspapercolumn, noisecancellingheadphones, noiseisolatingheadphones, outletstogo, portablecomputer, postmedia, powercharger, poweroutlet, powerplug, roadwarrior, samsonite, smartphone, Tablet, theimpactequation, trustagents, tumi, vancouversun • Tags: airport lounge, apple, bose quiet comfort, briefcase, business column, chris brogan, consumer electronics, dropbox, eagle creek, eagle creek pack it specter sac, extension chord, iphone 5, iPhone App, julien smith, laptop, laptop backpack, macbook air, mobile, mobile business, monster, montreal gazette, new business, newspaper column, noise cancelling headphones, noise isolating headphones, outlets to go, portable computer, postmedia, power charger, power outlet, power plug, road warrior, samsonite, smartphone, tablet, the impact equation, trust agents, tumi, vancouver sun
Episode #315 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.
Julien Smith (co-author of Trust Agents with Chris Brogan and the author of The Flinch) was downright mad at me. We have lunch on a frequen…
2 years ago • advertisingpodcast, artistsforamnesty, Blog, blogging, brand, businessbook, chrisbrogan, chrisguillebeau, davidusher, digitalmarketing, entrepreneur, Facebook, googleadsense, googleadwords, itunes, juliensmith, marketing, marketingblogger, marketingpodcast, microbusiness, onlinesocialnetwork, podcast, podcasting, socialmedia, the100startup, theartofnonconformity, theflinch, trustagents, unconventionalguides, worlddominationsummit • Tags: advertising podcast, artists for amnesty, blog, blogging, brand, business book, chris brogan, chris guillebeau, david usher, digital marketing, entrepreneur, facebook, google adsense, google adwords, itunes, julien smith, marketing, marketing blogger, marketing podcast, micro business, online social network, podcast, podcasting, social media, the 100 startup, the art of non conformity, the flinch, trust agents, unconventional guides, world domination summit
Why do you blog? Why should you blog?
One of my most favorite people is Gini Dietrich from Arment Dietrich and the always fun to read blog, Spin Sucks. Today, she published a blog titled, Responding (Or Not) to Blog Comments, in which she says: "…
2 years ago • armentdietrich, Blog, blogcomments, blogger, blogging, chrisbrogan, conversation, criticalthinking, Facebook, geofflivingston, ginidietrich, marketing, media, newthinking, onlinecommunity, onlinevideo, publishing, spinsucks, Twitter, valeriamaltoni, Writing, YouTube • Tags: arment dietrich, blog, blog comments, blogger, blogging, chris brogan, conversation, critical thinking, facebook, geoff livingston, gini dietrich, marketing, media, new thinking, online community, online video, publishing, spin sucks, twitter, valeria maltoni, writing, youtube
Earlier this year, I traveled to Norway to share a stage with Mitch Joel, Valeria Maltoni, Chris Brogan, and Maggie Fox. During our stay there, we ended up having a conversation about blog comments and replying to them. In fact, it’s a conversation Mitch and I have nearly every time we talk. You see, he [...]
I must say the pre-keynote presentation was hilarious. Tom Webster (@webby2001) from Edison Research shared some “feedback” his company had received from the post-session surveys that were sent out for evaluation of the speakers. The comments were those that many bloggers experience on a daily basis: Poorly written, irrelevant, spam on your painstakingly written blog [...]