#Periscope: Lessons on Humanity

There’s been a sense of criticism surrounding the concept of “building others up instead of tearing them down.” I guess those who criticize this idea, believe people should have their own sense of self and be confident enough in themselves without needing anyone to “build them up.”

I would agree with this if society was creating a culture that lends itself to being generally civil and respectful of people.

Consider this example:

I challenged someone close to me to try Periscope – a live streaming video application that allows users to share what’s going on around them. If you’ve ever tried something new, you know the sense of awkwardness and vulnerability that accompanies that experience. The Periscope app publishes your video live and allows users to view your live video and make comments as you’re recording.

So my friend decides to give it a try yesterday.

And it was adorable. I was proud of her and entertained by her commentary as she shared her lawn mowing experience with the world. I’m assuming she enjoyed a sense of accomplishment from the task, and that is probably true of anyone who tries something for the first time, or mows their lawn. And yet, in our current society, getting familiar with technology and the very publicly accessible way it’s being shared with the world leads me to the reason behind this post.

The comments made by anonymous viewers who probably haven’t been brave enough to create their own live stream, instead troll the app for other people who are willing to take the risk and put themselves “out there” just so they can criticize them, insult them and mock their efforts. This undoubtedly makes the experience less satisfying and makes it even more awkward. Instead of that feeling of accomplishment, she had to deal with crappy, ugly comments. She’s a good sport, so I am sure it didn’t bug her too much, and she’s probably going to roll her eyes at me for publishing this post. (Sorry OG!)

Every day there are these small, almost insignificant ‘blips’ on the radar,  and we normally just shrug them off and say something like “haters gonna hate” but I think this is a great example of what is happening in our society that is leaving us despondent and disenfranchised. More and more people in our society are vocally ugly and mean, so when we take a risk, or try new things and put ourselves out there, and we’re mocked, ridiculed or laughed at, we ultimately start to ask ourselves, “Why bother? … Why don’t I just stay locked up in my shell and protect myself from these haters?

Don’t let them win!

I want to scream NO!  We need to take a stand, once and for all against these Internet trolls who sit in their caves and hide behind fake names and accounts just so they can feel better about themselves.  Taking a stand requires that we do something about it:

Risk Takers:

Need to keep taking risks and get better at these new tasks!

Audience Members (Fans and Followers):

Need to support, engage, show consideration, give positive feedback, and when asked, take some time and share ideas for making things better!

A Word About Comfort Zones:

Consider the toddler learning to walk, or the young girl on her first attempt at riding a bike without training wheels.  We don’t laugh and mock them.  And we should not laugh or mock adults (young or old) who are willing to try new things.  Even when they look silly, or mess things up (or have crappy lawn mowers).  Because as human beings, we tend to do what we feel most comfortable doing, and stay well within our comfort zones because we don’t want to be laughed at!

A Personal Story:

I don’t dance much.  Certainly not in public, (except for an occasional slow song) but really not even in private either and here’s why.  When I was in college, I was insecure about dancing.  A little background on this story: My mom is Cuban and whenever she’d try to “help” me dance, I felt embarrassed because she would say that I moved my shoulders too much and my hips not enough.  “Pies na mas (Just your feet)” she would remind me as the sounds of Celia Cruz and Beny Moré played loudly in the background.  I would let myself get into the groove a little, feel a little more comfortable; a little more confident, and then, when I thought I had it figured out, I would look up from my size 10 feet and she’d shake her head “no,” – mind you, she was in her own groove, dancing in her natural Cuban beat, indicating with that gesture that I needed to watch her some more.  I would grow frustrated, throw myself into the chair and just watch her, as she effortlessly danced to the sounds of her childhood. My mom isn’t the reason I hate dancing.  She was gentle and kind, encouraging me, even though she was telling me I was doing it wrong.  She was right, I needed practice.

No, the reason I hate dancing was the guy I went on a date with in college. We were at a night club in Tallahassee and the music was what every night club played in the 90s to get people on the dance floor. I was a little uncomfortable about it, so I casually joked about my two left feet, saying I didn’t dance much… you know, that awkward, “don’t make fun of me, I am still new to this,” comment we make when we’re unsure of ourselves.  Well the song was playing, and I was trying to let myself get into that groove a little, like I would when I danced with my mom.  Then, I made the mistake:  I looked him in the eye and he laughed.  “You were right, you can’t dance,” he said flippantly.   I stopped dancing immediately, looked at him for a few seconds, and then turned around and walked out of the club.  Once I was outside, I wasn’t sure whether to cry, or hide, so I kept walking – the three miles from the club to my apartment.  He never called, and I didn’t care.  I was mortified.

Maybe I am too sensitive, maybe I gave him too much power, maybe I need to let go of this and dance my own dance, but one thing remains certain:  The experience was unpleasant.  It hurt and it was embarrassing.  And it has taken a long time for me to truly feel ok about dancing.  If he hadn’t said that – if he had encouraged me instead – how might that have changed the outcome?  I don’t know, but I do know that the insults we hear impact us – some more than others, for sure, but there are only a couple of ways to react to insults – get your feelings hurt, or retaliate… you know, shoot an insult right back at them?

“You dance funny.”

“Well, you look funny.” 

A dialogue that still exists, even though we’re well past those adolescent days when we didn’t know any other way to handle these things.

So, I suggest again: Don’t tear people down. Build them up, encourage them, cheer them on and let them shine! Or just keep your thoughts to yourself.

If you’re like me and want to see more people using social media for GOOD, please share this post with your friends, your children, maybe your employees or co-workers.  Tell people to back off the crappy, mean-spirited comments and pull them together as cheerleaders.  Get out the megaphones and start screaming:  “A W E S O M E – You an’t got no alibi, You Awesome, yeah yeah, you awesome” at the top of your lungs. We need to drown out the haters!  After all, friends don’t let haters win!

All Groups are NOT Created Equal – Finding Value in Online Communities

The Lakeland Business Leaders is an online group that has been bringing people in Lakeland together for the past 2 years.  The group began on Facebook, and most of the connections and interactions are still being developed within the social network.  There are a lot of things I have learned about building online communities, and I continue to learn as we grow.  One of the biggest concerns I hear from business owners and clients is that Facebook and other Social Networks are a time suck. I can understand why this can become a problem for novice Facebook users (and even some advanced users).  Without a strategy or a plan, anything can be a time suck!  Here are the top 5 Things To Look for in an online community to avoid wasting too much time in communities that will not provide value or benefit to the local small business professional or business owner.

Keep in mind, the number one reason to get involved in online communities is to build your brand and your authority on your area of expertise.

1. Guidelines

Without rules, any community will become impossible to manage and probably become ineffective at bringing value to the members. Accountability should be placed on the members to adhere to the guidelines, but there are also moderators who can assist if there are certain guidelines needing to be enforced.  For example, one of the guidelines in the Lakeland Business Leaders Community is that the members use their individual names, not their business name.  This rule is necessary, in my opinion, if there is to be any level of authenticity to the relationships being formed.  No one asks the Auto Body Repair Company to coffee at Mitchell’s!  They ask an individual, an owner, or an employee to coffee.  When we know who the person is that we are communicating with, we can begin to build trust and get to know the personality and character of the individual.  Some might argue that if the product is good, it doesn’t matter what kind of person is selling it.  I disagree, wholeheartedly, but that’s something for the person who is making purchasing decisions to decide for himself.  As for online communities, if you are networking with people, make sure you know who the people are.  It’s in everyone’s best interest in the community to know what the rules are, but you are ultimately the one in control of your security and safety.  Choosing groups that have guidelines might make them more reliable and force the members to be held accountable.  No matter what, always do your own due diligence when choosing to do business with someone you have only met online!

2. Look for Engagement

When you are looking for groups to join, check out the engagement of the members.  If you see one person posting all the time, without any commentary or feedback from other members of the group, chances are, that’s the dynamic of the group.  Similarly, if you see a lot of different people posting promotional/advertisements and there is no conversation going on, that’s likely how the group functions.  If you are just looking for a group to post links and aren’t concerned with getting any feedback or engagement, ask yourself if this is the best use of your time and effort.  The fact is, people aren’t going to be interested in staying up to date with a group that resembles a television channel with no programs, only advertisements.  If your objective is to grow your business, look for places that are interested in you, and a place that has other people you are also interested in.  Some may argue that there is search engine benefit to the links being shared, but research shows that SEO is only benefited with links that are “Do Follow” and the links inside Facebook groups are “No Follow”.  Posting links for the sake of posting links is not a strategy that any professional online marketing consultant would recommend.

3. Real-Life Meetings

Face it, online relationships are tenuous at best.  You don’t always know if a person is genuine by the way they post in a social network.  It’s important that the members of the group have an opportunity to meet “In Real Life”.  While online networking makes it possible to build and nurture business relationships in faster, more efficient way than traditional networking, where the rubber meets the road is actually in the face to face meeting.  When you can look someone in the eye, and get a feeling for their character and their business acumen, you can really begin to build legitimate business connections.  It doesn’t happen overnight, especially when you are new to the community.  Make sure you give yourself time to build and nurture the business relationships and by all means, make sure you show up to the events!  There’s so much truth the the famous quote by Woody Allen:  “80% of success is showing up.”  No online community is going to replace a solid marketing plan.  But networking should be part of any local business’s marketing plan.  With any organization, you will always get back in equal amounts what you put in.  If you give value to the members both online and when networking in real life, you’ll begin to see others referring you and recommending you more frequently – but it will be difficult if no one in the group actually feels like they “know” you.  So, show up and become the known authority on the topics at which you excel!

4. Who are the Members?

Take a look at the people in the group.  It’s OK.  See who they are, what they do and how they interact online.  Are they potential customers/clients?  Do they represent your demographic?  Are they in your target market?  I see a lot of groups of people who do the same things.  If you’re in a group with a bunch of people who do the same things that you do, it’s likely you are not going to be getting a lot of new business from that group!  It’s important to consider the time investment if you’re going to be building relationships with the people in the group.  There are all kinds of different groups for a lot of different niches and topics.  If you’re interested in becoming a known expert on a particular topic, building relationships in an online community is an excellent way to do this.  Just pay attention to the group’s members and decide if it’s a place you want to invest your time and energy.

5. In How Many Groups can you Really Participate?

Facebook limits your account to “only” joining 300 groups.  Really? 300 groups?  How would anyone ever get anything done?  When selecting the groups you are going to join, be realistic and don’t spread yourself too thin.  It might be tempting to join all of the groups on Gardening, for example, but there is no way you can actually keep up with all of the groups, and most importantly, you will have a difficult time building your authority/expert status in all of the groups on gardening.  Select the groups you have a passion or strong interest in, and in which you can legitimately bring value as well as gain value.  Online community building should always (yes, always) provide a win-win opportunity in order to warrant your involvement.  Don’t expect to get if you are unwilling to invest in the community, but also, don’t allow yourself to be the one always giving.  When there is balance in the community, everyone wins.

Mobile Marketing Allows Customers to Dial in on Good Deals in Lakeland

Green Mobile Marketing in Lakeland? Yes!

Quick! What’s the one thing you are most likely to have with you, wherever you are? I think it’s pretty safe to say you are not going to mention the Coupon Book, the Clipper Magazine or the Sophisticated Buyer, mailers, the newspaper or the yellow pages.  The thing is, everyone, without exception has their cell phones with them at all times. As mobile technology advances, and more people are upgrading their phones to “smartphones” (by Christmas, 2011, Nielsen predicts that 1 in 2 Americans will have a Smartphone. (Nielsen, 2010), businesses today can do their part in saving and protecting the environment by shifting their marketing efforts away from printed coupons, mailers and advertisements that are more likely to end up in the trash can or forgotten at home, than the cash register.

Mobile Marketing in Lakeland is Sustainable

Sustainability is not a buzzword anymore. It’s a best practice for all businesses. Environmentally conscious or not, businesses need to pay attention to reaching their customers in more efficient ways. Mobile technologies provide an exciting solution for Lakeland businesses on several different levels. When a customer is mobile, (or not in front of their computers) they are still connected to their networks, via e-mail, Social Media, Text and even their Search Engines.
Businesses who have learned to leverage this are reaping the rewards and thriving, in spite of the recession. How? Because they are providing special offers that can be created once and recycled, updated and tracked and sending them to their customers on the one object they never leave home without – their cell phones.

Lakeland Consumers are Ready for Mobile Marketing

There are thousands of consumers in Lakeland that are eager for their favorite businesses and business they have never visited before, to give them a reason to shop with them and give them an opportunity to express their loyalty through their social networks. Mobile Marketing strategies are a no-brainer. It just takes a little strategic thinking to figure out how it can work for any business.
Here are a few ideas that businesses in Lakeland can use right now to reduce paper waste, generate buzz around their business and increase their bottom lines.
  • Businesses can partner with other businesses to create an SMS campaign that can offer special promotions to their Mobile Subscribers
  • Individual Businesses can have Mobile Contests, Like a Text2Vote or Text to Win Campaign
  • Mobile strategies like QR codes and SMS/Text campaigns can drive traffic to websites that have been optimized for viewing on mobile devices
  • Location-Based Social Media Applications like Foursquare, Facebook Places, SCVNGR, Gowalla and Yelp can be utilized to offer customers special discounts for “checking in” with their mobile phones and sharing with their social networks.
National Brands have proven the power of this marketing tool and have launched Green/Mobile Campaigns with incredible success. This proves that Lakeland consumers are likely looking for ways to enjoy these technologies locally too, because Buying Lakeland Makes Good Cents!
Chrissanne Long is a Media and Marketing Consultant and Partner with Marketing System Blueprints, an interactive Marketing agency that offers Search Engine Optimization, Video, Mobile and Search Engine Marketing services for local businesses seeking to improve their online visibility and brand awareness in Lakeland, FL and other local markets.

Are You Listening?

Are you wondering what social media is all about? Meet Gary Vaynerchuk – A man who turned his passion for his business (Wine) into a multi-million dollar phenomenon. He’s passionate and what he is saying makes sense!  Are you listening to your customers? Do you really care about them?  If not, that might be why Social Media isn’t “working” for you!  What does it take to get results with Twitter, Facebook and Blogging?  The answer is pretty simple.  Watch this video for the Secret to Social Media!  Then, leave your comments and reactions to Gary’s message!

Why Social Media Matters

Why is Social Media Important to YOU?

Connecting with your customer, building relationships and establishing trust is nothing new!  Traditional Marketing is not DEAD, it has had to evolve to keep up with the people!  Your customers are looking for something… and it’s not just about who has the best products or the best prices.  They are looking to interact with you and your other customers/visitors, they want to share, or read other people’s opinions, acquire *free*, valuable content and receive acknowledgment.  They want to know you are listening!  Once they know you care about their existence, and you must, genuinely care, they will begin to buy from you because they trust that you will want to know about their experience with your products and services.  Using Social Media in your business is a strategy that sends the message: I CARE ABOUT MY CUSTOMERS.  If you can’t offer this, they will find plenty of others who will!

Everyone is Using the Internet

As I write this, I am thinking about all of the different people I know.  They all have one thing in common: old or young, techie or not, they all use the Internet for something. And, while there are many people who don’t care to spend their time sharing their opinions, writing reviews, or sounding off about their political views, I think it safe to say they all read what others are writing!  More and more people are looking for information about a company before they make any contact with that company.  Most want to know how doing business will benefit them.  What special offers exist, what information can they get before actually having to pay for anything? So, if you are not participating in Social Media to brand and promote your company, chances are, they will find someone else who offers this interaction and choose to do business with them instead of you!

Everyone likes free stuff.

No matter what, when information is available, people will take it if there are no strings attached, or money required.  But as a business, giving away free content can be costly.  Free doesn’t have to have no strings attached, however to get new business.  Free can mean discounts, coupons, contests, giveaways, loyalty programs, savings programs, “sneak previews”, and more!  The point is, people feel like they are getting a deal – because they are interacting with your company via the Web or Social Media Platforms.  Encouraging this interaction brings more traffic your way!  Once a person finds your *free* content, they are likely to share it with everyone they know that might be interested.  Why? Because it’s free!  They won’t feel like they are bothering their contacts, instead they will be helping them! What free content you give must be valuable, but that does not mean it must be expensive!  Creatively giving *free* content is a key to utilizing Social Media correctly.  Socializing is sharing.  What are you sharing with your followers?

Recognize your Fans/Followers!

The final point that you need to consider is that your customers want to be recognized!  People are putting their faces on their profiles, offering their opinions and leaving their Twitter Feeds and other social media profiles for a reason – They want to interact.  So, if they follow you, follow them back, thank them for following, ask them if you can provide them with anything, send them *free* information!  Take advantage of the open door and connect with them!  Even better, see if they want to join your mailing list to have a chance to win some great prizes, or even take advantage of a Twitter followers only special!  Don’t ignore your followers, or they will stop following you and then they may be lost forever!  Recognizing that they want to be connected to you will make then happy that they did.  Now, start wowing them with other Social Media Marketing Strategies! Face it, this is easy lead generation!  Get out there where your customers can find you!

 

Chrissanne Long is a Media and Marketing Consultant

at Marketing System Blueprints

Tips for Growing your Facebook Page

5 Tips to Help you Grow your Facebook Page

Tip # 1: Build an Active Wall

An active wall creates social proof –it’s hard to fake, so it’s a sign of a successful Facebook page and a successful business. Here’s how to create activity:

  • Encourage people to Like your page.
  • Post useful, interesting content from various sources, regularly.
  • Monitor and participate in the comments on your Wall.

Tip # 2: Use Photos

Photos make your company and your products easier to understand. Here’s how:

  • If you have a physical product, use pictures to show how customers use it.
  • Collect images from customers to show customer satisfaction and engagement.
  • If you sell a service or can’t show pictures of your product, post pictures of your team at work. They will make your company easier to relate to.

Tip # 3: Use Video

Video makes your Facebook Page dynamic. Here are some different ways you can use it:

  • Post recordings of top-notch talks given by your team members.
  • Post videos that show your product in action.

Tip # 4: Highlight Offline Marketing

Facebook is a dynamic, social platform for marketers to take advantage of –but that doesn’t mean that
everything you feature on Facebook needs to be native to the web. You should also use Facebook to highlight
offline marketing. For example:

  • Highlight company sponsorships, community involvement and company events.
  • Highlight events organized by your company or that you’ll be attending.

Tip # 5: Use Calls to Action

Your Facebook Page should focus on engaging with visitors, but make sure you don’t forget to include
product information.

  • The best product information sections will have a clear, compelling Call to Action (CTA).
  • Many companies create a new Facebook tab for their CTA.
  • Many B2B companies use a Buy Now button or a Free Trial offer for their CTA.

Social Media is for Local Business

                                             
What in the world is Social Media?
Let’s face it, people really want to be listened to.  Social Media allows everyone to share experiences they want to talk about so that others can benefit from their experience.  They may want to help others prevent something from happening to them, or share the wealth, so more people can have positive experiences too.  Paying it forward is really not just for selfless people.  We all have that instinct!
The wise man learns from others’ mistakes is an old adage that fits well here.  Because human beings want to avoid making mistakes, we usually do whatever we can to prevent them.  The Internet and the arrival of Social Media have created an amazing dialogue for people who like to get ahead.  We are no longer limited to mom’s recipe book, the yellow pages or direct mailers for our holiday shopping ideas.
We can access virtually anything, as long as we know what we are looking for! From where I sit, in my home, within my community, I cannot learn much about what is happening in other cities, states, or countries.  Media is limited and often skewed and overdone.  Who wasn’t tired of the media hounds when Michael Jackson died?  Does anyone really need to see Tiger Woods that much to understand that he has made a huge error in judgment?
However, since the Wiki made user-generated content the most popular and (shockingly reliable) source for data, I can turn off the television and find information that I am interested in.  I can find consumer advice for almost anything! The greatest thing about social media is that it provides and encourages people to use their experiences to guide others.  Mother and Fathers can actually share their advice and find an audience that listens!
What does this mean for Small Businesses?
Well, it means that your customers are looking.  They are seeking the best service, top quality products, honest salespeople and positive experiences.  They are looking for convenience too.  However, while they are looking for shortcuts, if they are given the opportunity to buy locally, they almost always will.  Our economy has made things difficult, but consumers still want to support the local economy!  However, not when they have to spend more time, money and resources to get it.  That is why huge corporations like Amazon and Target are still flourishing in spite of our economic crisis!
Now is the time for Local Businesses to take action!
If the local business is positioned where their customers can find them, they will build business relationships and return customers.  If there has ever been a time to learn how to be the business of choice for your customers, that time is now!  Social Media is the vehicle to take any business to the top of their local competitive market.  It just takes optimization of your existing web site and a marketing plan that meets today’s new model of consumer.  It’s really a very simple process!  There are customers waiting!