Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?

Is your Facebook fan page a cocktail party, a barbecue, a conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party. Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference, a yoga class or a drum circle?

The funny thing about social networking is…we often forget that it’s just a virtual party. It’s not about amassing tons of “fans” so you can have the biggest party — it’s about inviting the right people and serving tasty snacks and drinks.

It’s about playful banter, music and laughter.

You know what happens when you talk sex or politics at a party — dead silence.

A cocktail party is NOT the place to pull out a gigantic billboard and say HEY BUY MY PRODUCT! (Unless you are a paid sponsor with a table or booth.)  And imagine if you pulled up your shirt and showed off your appendix scar?

But people do this all the time on Facebook! They forget it’s a party.

A great Fan page is an authentically engaged community where you have a conversation — even better if your tribe cares about what you have to say and shares it with their communities. At a party this is called gossip and word of mouth. On Facebook it’s called sharing and viral marketing.

Remember — a great party is not about QUANTITY it’s about QUALITY. Be selective. Invite the right people. Dress to impress — or stand out in the crowd. Serve good spirits and keep the music upbeat and the conversation as bubbly as champagne.

We are not collecting fans or contacts for Ego — we are collecting real human beings and we should care about them as much as we hope they will care about us.

Think about the real world equivalent of your Fan page. How would you interact in these different real world parties or events?

50 friends or less = backyard barbecue, workshop,  a drum circle.
150 friends or less = a tribe, a retreat, a big party, wedding, etc.
1000 friends or more = a conference
2000 friends or more = industry trade show, music festival
10000 fans or more = sporting event or concert
100,000 fans or more = gigantic stadium event
1 million fans or more = broadcast on television

And here’s a great metaphor for Fan pages from #socialmediamixology:

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How to drive more traffic from Google to your website.

How did your website do in 2013? I am stunned to discover that even though I mostly ignored mine, my Alexa rank soared by 15,966,175%! – this personal blog,Visibility Shift, is now in the top 3 million sites in the world!

How did this happen? In this post, I dissect and analyze everything I did — there are lessons here for you too, if you are building a Personal Brand, Thought Leadership or platform for your workshops, speaking and books.

For anyone looking to build Thought Leadership and their personal brand, a WordPress blog or website should be the hub of your personal marketing strategy.  Your social media feeds into this blog — and out of it. I call this “social media syndication.”  In future posts, I’ll reveal my secrets about how to do this, and how to gain similar spectacular results and traffic for your brand. 

Here’s a frank and blunt review of my website, www.VisibilityShift.com, in 2013, and where I can improve it in 2014. Take note of my advice to myself — there are tips for you here too!

By the way, I was sick for almost a month in January-February 2013, and spent that time at home, tediously working on my SEO, updating my blog, and building up my social media. I think this focused time, boring and unpaid, generated huge payoffs for my personal visibility in 2013 — results that paid off in higher profile clients, celebrities, and inquiries from big brands.  Remember, there are no rules in social marketing–everything is new and we’re all learning this as we go along.

My 2013 highlights:

New business: In 2013, my website (and social media) brought me so many fantastic new consulting clients “the shoemaker’s children went barefoot” and I barely had time to update my own blog.  This is my second year as a blogger, and to watch my site soar to the top 3 million in Alexa in this short time is really quite remarkable considering how little I posted. Much of my traffic came from old posts — which means my writing has “staying power” in the search engines.

More traffic: Even so, traffic increased dramatically and my page rank zoomed up  — I’d gather this is by using a syndication service (Networked Blogs) to drive more traffic to my posts, and by promoting and reblogging them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — which is where half of my traffic came from.  Also by tagging my posts, WordPress automatically syndicated them where they were picked up by other blogs. More about how to “social syndicate” your blog in a future post.

New template: I updated to a fresh new template and designed my own banner, with photos of events I’ve built online communities for (to illustrate that social media is about people — not “content”.)

Better SEO: I also spent two solid days entering my site in directories (like Yahoo, DMOZ, Yellow Pages, CitySearch, etc.) to boost the Search Rank.  This also helps business find you.

My Alexa rank increased by 15,966,175%! It is now an impressive 3,230,007 — meaning it is ranked in the top 3 million of all the billions of websites on the planet.  This made my site a desirable target for advertisers. Or a potential buyout target for a blog syndicate. (A URL with traffic and page rank is worth money — sometimes thousands of dollars at auction.)

Klout rank increased: My Klout rank soared to a pretty impressive 66 in the competitive Social Media category — this is mainly from using the iPad to post photos of networking events and client events to Instagram, tagging my posts and building a following there. I call this “Digital Red Carpet” service — kind of like being an instant paparazzi. It’s fantastic for building traffic.

Started Visibility Shift Fan Page on Facebook: I also started my own Fan page on Facebook, finally. (Ahem – too busy posting for clients to maintain my own page.) I put a feed from my Fan page into my blog — which brings traffic fro the blog to the Fan page and vice versa. Remember — your fan page and LinkedIn profiles show up first when people Google you.

My URL went out on Press Releases — a lot of them: I do PR for clients, and my URL and the name “Visibility Shift” went out on PR Web press releases. This generated inbound links and more traffic to my own page — and higher page rank. I recommend that you also send an occasional press release on PR Web, even though it costs more than other services, because it is highly keyword optimized and your story shows up in Google and Yahoo news for an entire month. Free press releases can also be very effective. More about how to integrate PR with your social media (Social PR) in future posts.

Press coverage with my name in it: While managing PR for some high profile events (like the Synthesis festival in Chichen Itza, Mexico) I was a spokesperson in quite a few stories and interviewed by German television.  This put my own name in stories — driving more credibility and traffic back to my blog.

Made “friends” with influential people: This also gave me a chance to “friend” the celebrities and CEOs I was promoting–after all, I needed to be friends with them in order to “tag” them in posts I made on their behalf. All of this leads to higher Klout and credibility. You can also simply follow famous people and engage with them — you’ll be surprised who follows you back. One retweet from a big name and your traffic will surge.

I followed a very high profile CEO on Twitter at midnight on a Saturday in 2013 — and retweeted his post with a compliment. He immediately responded!  We became friends on Facebook. This lead to an immediate job interview with his high profile business. He then invited me to be a VIP guest at his personal party — which was cohosted by Google. This is how you, too, will win friends and influence people with social media in 2014!

My 2014 personal branding strategy:

Advertising – I think it’s time to start generating passive revenue from my page, so I’m planning to get some banners or use AdWords.  Why not at least try?

Passive revenue - The best way to do this is an Ebook. Yes, it’s time to write an ebook! The other way to generate revenue is use affiliate programs — such as selling Amazon.com products and books related to your blog topic.

More frequent posting – I’m going to stick to a regular posting schedule. Yes, you should too — even if it’s just a paragraph. Force yourself to post regularly on your blog instead of Facebook. Your posts last seconds on Twitter and merely 45 minutes on Facebook — they live forever on your blog in Google! I vow to blog more, Tweet less in 2014 and make my posts shorter, more frequent and more sharable.

Pithy headlines – The rise of Upworthy and ViralNova taught us that mysterious, evocative headlines are viral and shareable. Quite often people will retweet or share your post without reading it at all — simply because the headline is so engaging. Also, remember to write your headlines for Twitter — add @ and #hashtags and keep them short.

A splash screen with a “call to action” – I’m seeing other consultants “ask” for clients with a pop up screen that offers consulting services for an hourly fee–it’s time for me to do this too and “walk my talk.”

Capture your audience–their email that is: I will add a pop up screen that asks my visitors to give me their email address — or like my Fan page.

Better branding – Gosh, I do this for clients all the time and my own branding sucks. It’s time to brand my own website too and hire a graphic designer to update the banner and customize my template.

New template - I recommend updating to the latest template every year so your look stays current and fresh.

Guest blogging - It’s time to guest blog on Huffington Post, or Social Media Examiner,  to bring more credibility to my blog.

Speaking engagements - By ramping up my own image, I got a few offers to speak in 2013, and it’s time to be proactive, pitch myself the way I pitch clients, and speak once a month or more. I’m speaking about “Mindful Marketing” at the Mystic Island Festival, Maui, HI, January 30-February 2, 2014, and I will be part of the Wisdom 2.0 Unconference at Google, February 8, 2014. (These are both clients I have advised on social media, content marketing and PR this year.) I was also offered a speaking engagement and “sponsor status” (link back to their website and logo on marketing materials) at a high profile tech conference as part of the deal I negotiated with them as their social marketing strategist.

Press releases I always ask my clients to use PR Web or free press release services to drive up their traffic. That’s a good idea for me too.  A press release every month will keep you in Google News and Yahoo news adding tons of traffic to your site — sometimes 50,000 visits with one release.

Press coverage – Don’t be shy about talking to the press. I am so busy pitching my clients to the media I forget to pitch myself. It’s time to be a spokesperson about social media and PR issues and get a little limelight shining on myself too.

How about speaking at my local TEDx? Yes, join a TEDx in a small town — this makes it easier to get a speaking engagement and it’s a high profile and prestigious perk to have your TED video in YouTube.

Add logos to my bio - I’ve worked with a lot of big names over the past 30 years — this year I added Google, Twitter, Facebook, Steve Wozniak, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Alanis Morissette, Iggy Pop, David Starfire, Daniel Pinchbeck and some other heavy hitters to my client list by promoting conferences and music festivals with these speakers on the bill. It’s time to play that up more and add their names and logos to my bio, some “Rave Reviews” and testimonials and toot my own horn a little louder.  These names on your website also drive more traffic to your site in random searches.

Google Hangouts, Conference Calls and Video Seminars – Yes, it’s time to get on camera and create my own webinar. I helped a client promote his webinar this year.  My turn.

Newsletter – Again, the shoemaker’s kids are barefoot. Where’s my newsletter and mail list? (Slap slap.)  Where’s my “call to action” on my website? And how come I haven’t done a “fan page squeeze” to export the 100,000+ fans I have access to on 20+ fan pages and turn that into an email database?

Add a Blogtalk radio podcast – How about an “Ask Giselle” Q&A show where people call in and ask for advice? I have clients with radio shows that have generated so many followers this year they were offered TV shows. Yes, podcasting builds your platform and following and you can do it with a mic you can buy at Radio Shack that snaps on your smart phone.

Or add a vlog (video blog) or YouTube show - Tape a video with your smartphone and host it on YouTube and post it to your blog. No skills in video? Appear at a conference and speak for free — they usually have professionals taping these conferences. Ask for a copy of the video and repost on your blog, social media and YouTube channel.

It’s time for all of us to make beautiful shoes to wear in 2014! Make yours a pair of Manolo Blahnik stiletttos. Reach for the stars in 2014 — you deserve a visibility shift too.

This year, the WordPress.com “stats helper” even prepared an automatic summary of the year’s posts .

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pinterest is now used by 1/3 of the women in the USA! I recommend that all clients get a toe hold on Pinterest now by reserving their name and starting with at least 9 boards so they begin their following.

Why I’m not excited about the #Twitter IPO. (I’ll wait for @Pinterest.)

English: Red Pinterest logo

Twitter IPO hysteria? No thanks. I’ll wait for Pinterest.

Unless you’ve been under a rock you know the @Twitter IPO is soaring into the stratosphere right now — “from the Moon to Mars” says the Mercury News.

Yes, Twitter has triple digit growth — but no profit. Just like the good old days of the 1990s dot com boom.

It is very exciting for to watch the Twitter IPO soar to over $75 (now it’s settled down to $60).

But I’ll wait for the #Pinterest IPO–and the apps that will capitalize on that. Because Pinterest is the future of social media. Twitter is the past.

Watching the construction cranes and the building frenzy in San Francisco next to Twitter HQ and Silicon Valley where a boring little 3 bedroom house in Palo Alto just sold for $3.3 million  — we are officially seeing the beginning of “Web 3.0 — the next Internet boom.

Web 3.0 is going to be the combination of mobile devices, touch screens, social media, big data, cloud applications and wearable computing. Some call this the “Internet of things.” It’s really the Internet of everything — music, commerce, shopping, maps, flight and hotel reservations, coupons, banking, film, literature, news — it’s all been replaced with a little device you can fit in your hand.

The new computer is a telephone — a touchscreen device built for two way communication with both voice and video with a GPS built into it.

And what is built from the ground up to take advantage of the mobile touch screen device with a video camera in it? Pinterest.

1. Pinterest is tactile. The other social networks all require a keyboard. Pinterest is made for touch screen devices. Facebook and Twitter are both stunted on a touchscreen interface and LinkedIn is almost impossible to use on a phone.

2. Pinterest is elegant, simple and MUCH easier to use–which is why women in particular love it. One third of all women in the US are on Pinterest now. That is a stunning statistic. And women do two things more than men — communicating and shopping.

3. Pinterest respects your privacy. (Facebook totally disrespects the privacy needs of its customers.) Twitter is somewhat more respectful, but it knows your phone number, and that’s not very private.

4. Pinterest encourages commerce. (It is still impossible to directly sell anything on Facebook–a huge missed revenue opportunity. Who sells stuff on Twitter?)

5. Pinterest is visual. When Facebook and Twitter started, the Internet and devices could not handle the rich media content they now are capable of. Twitter required special apps to use photos and just recently got photos that show up in the feeds.

6. Pinterest encourages ubiquitous sharing and search beyond your friend list. You can only share content to people you know in Facebook. You can only communicate with people who follow you on Twitter. LinkedIn is a totally closed network.

7. Pinterest is very searchable. (Even with Graph search, search still sucks in Facebook. It only works with #hashtags in Twitter)

8. Pinterest lets your content be shared to other social networks, blogs, websites. You can only do that in Facebook if you use an app. Twitter is somewhat more sharable, but really, it’s primitive compared to Pinterest.

9. Pinterest is creative, inspiring, positive and uplifting. Facebook … people get clinically depressed when they use it. Twitter…um, does it ever inspire you, emotionally? LinkedIn? Zzzzzzzz.

10. Pinterest recognizes and respects that your content is yours and ties it back to your website url. Forever, as a Pin is repinned, it virally drives people back to your site. Brilliant!  Facebook tries to “own” your content. Twitter can only point back at a url if you add the @ symbol as a courtesy. LinkedIn: Content? What content? We’re pretending to be professional here and afraid of anything creative or expressive.

11. Pinterest is built from the ground up to handle rich content and video–this is the future of social media.

The future of social media is television. As investor and film angel Sheridan Tatsuno of the Silicon Valley Global Network group on Facebook says:

“All social media bloggers and group admins are like TV network producers since social media already incorporates audio, video, photos, etc. Remember the million-channel Interactive Television that people talked about? We now have it. Soon, the advertisers and marketers will cherrypick the top social media producers and turn them into full-service Amazon-like lifestyle e-commerce sites. User attention is the scarcest resource so top social media creatives will be worth a fortune, sort of like rock stars and top athletes.”

I am already seeing the most engaged folks on my Facebook friend list getting TV shows and book deals. They are the ones who know how to get a conversation started and moderate it, kind of like a talk show host with a live, interactive audience. They know how to create moving content that gets shared. And they know how to monetize this audience with conferences, events, festivals. ebooks, products, consulting services or seminars that bring in revenue.

As we move into this next wave, it will be obvious why Pinterest is the future of social media.

I predict that someday, not far away, interacting in social media is going to be a lot more social — like talking at the front of a room, to an audience. We will do this with a device, like an iPhone, that recognizes speech. It will be mobile, and it will both send and receive video.

Basically, you will be live streaming, in two way conversation, to millions of people, who participate on their devices — kind of like a talk radio show, but it’s television, and it’s interactive. This will be the future of everything — music, learning, seminars, sermons, conferences, communication, film, theatre.

I know is sounds a little scary now — but it will not replace the live experience which will only become more valuable and prestigious.

It will continue to accelerate the information sharing and consciousness raising enabled by the Internet and free, ubiquitous shared social media.

We will still have live events, but these will be more like the live audiences that watch the Academy Awards or the the Tonight Show — much smaller than the televised audiences.

Which social network is most poised for the future of interactive media, at least today? Pinterest.

PS — there are rumors on the street that #Yahoo will buy Pinterest. It certainly fits in with Yahoo’s role as a content provider and media empire, rather than search engine.

Give your personal brand a makeover.

8 free (or cheap) ways to give your web branding a new look for the New Year

Giselle Bisson:

Eight cheap (or free) ways to give your online image a new look for the New Year.

Originally posted on Visibility Shift - Shift your visibility to the next level.:

Start the new year with a fresh new look for your personal brand.

This down time between Christmas and the first week of the New Year is a perfect opportunity to give your personal branding a lift and start the New Year with a fresh image.

Here are eight ways you can use free templates and other inexpensive tools available on the web to give your business or personal brand a lift.

1. Reinvent your name for the new year.

Is your business name unique–or is it lost in the crowd? Consider finding a new name for your business and a unique URL — an identifier that people type into the browser to find your website. Do a little research on  Go Daddy or directly from WordPress, and see if your business name (or your personal name, or the name of your book) is available. If your name is generic, hard to remember or hard to spell, change it today before you…

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You're not building a "fan page"  -- those are real people. Real human beings. Treat them like people, not like a target market.

You’re not just building a fan page — you’re building a community.

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I just designed a new banner for my Facebook, Google + and WordPress blog today — it’s a collage of photos of some of the conferences, festivals and events I’ve promoted with social media marketing.

The audiences are now the real world manifestation of the online communities we create to promote an event. The social media and the event are the same thing!

When you bring an audience together today, you are creating a community of customers and you need to maintain communication with them year round. It’s a huge commitment.

In other words, your fan page represents exactly what your product or event is — a community of real people. It can tell you their demographics, age, sex, education, where they live and even what time they are online. You can dig deeper and learn just about everything about them, personally and professionally.

This is a lot deeper than email. Think about it. “olive007@yahoo.com”  is about all you know a about someone on your email list. But on social media we know intimate personal details about each customer and what they look like.

With this unprecedented access to our customers comes a commitment to treat them with respect, humility and to pay attention to them. It’s not a one way message anymore, it’s a conversation.

 

 

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Personal branding: Think like a search engine. It’s all about attraction

Cover of "The Secret (Extended Edition) [...

Cover via Amazon

When it comes to marketing and promoting yourself or your business, think like a search engine.

A search engine is all about the Law of Attraction. It is about Pull not Push.

Search engine marketing is about creating content with specific key words and waiting for it to be found by the exact people seeking it.

You do not knock on doors. You do not act desperate, begging for attention.

You simply be your best possible and most attractive self and calmly put that out into the universe … and wait.

In the “new age” movement, the work of Abraham Hicks and the blockbuster book: “The Secret” talk about this law of attraction in terms of thoughts. “What you feel or think is what you will attract.”

A few weeks ago, I was thinking of the exact client I wanted. This client was at an event I was present at but I missed the chance to introduce myself to them. The next day, they emailed me and sought me out. As Depak Chopra says: “There are no coincidences.” I drew that client to me. They pursued me.

Of course, I did not just “think” of this client — I had already spent my lifetime building the skills and relationships for the job. Months in advance I redesigned my website, my business cards, the description on my Facebook profile, the way I dressed in public, the photos I chose to show on my page. I was ready when they called.

On the Internet, in our marketing, we do not “feel,” we write.

What and who do you want to attract?

Who is your dream customer, your dream client?

You don’t ask for a job. They “get” to hire you … if they’re lucky!

You don’t beg for the customer to buy. They “get” to buy your product if they’re ready for it.

What are they searching for? What is their wildest fantasy? What solves their problems?

What does that person look like? Who are their relationships? Where do they hang out?

Tailor your communication. Be exactly that.

In your face to face communications, in your marketing, your website, your Facebook posts, use the “key words” and phrases, the clothes, the colors, the “search terms” and emotional cues, the graphics, images and colors that attract customers, clients and opportunities to you.

Let me know how this is working for you.

You can reach 1,000,000 people within a few minutes with great post on Facebook -- if it gets shared and syndicated. Only a few newspapers can reach that many readers (such as the New York Times or LA Times.)

Social media marketing isn’t free — you get what you pay for

0fe856038a37ce3f84af53823c5afb99I get at least one inquiry per day from someone begging me to help launch their product, their festival, their conference, fix their online reputation or get them better SEO results for their site.

But 9 times out of 10 people somehow think that because Facebook is free, getting someone to post for you is free. Everyone wants it. Nobody wants to pay for it.

If you want quality social media, expect to shell out as much as you’d pay for a web designer, graphic designer, publicist, branding agency or writer. If you’re paying $150-500 to go out on a mail list to reach 10K+ people, well, you should pay the same to reach 10K people on Social Media. It’s more valuable.

We’re getting you customers — customers you can see, know the names of, know every possible demographic detail about. It’s exponentially more valuable than buying an email list. We’re giving you a way to interact with people — that’s so much richer than a one-way ad.

Social media has tipped — everyone realizes they need it. They just still have a trouble grasping the concept that it’s they need to pay for it.

1. You need a strategic plan or it’s a waste of time. 9 out of ten clients who approach me do not even remember what social pages they have, or the passwords. Having a ton of neglected, half-baked You Tube channels and un-tweeted Twitter pages does not impress anyone. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

2. You need to support it with great branding. logo, website, name, packaging, video and advertising. Get your act together on all fronts before you start blasting it out to the public.

3. It’s not free and it’s not cheap. A good Facebook post that gets engagement can take 30-60 minutes to research, write, tag and post — longer if there’s original content like photography, video or an infographic.  You need to post 3-5 times a day. That can take someone a full 8 hour day on all of your channels–more if you want to approve all the content they produce.

4. You’ll need to supplement it with a Facebook ad campaign, video, good banner design and online branding, contests, apps and services that cost money. If you can’t afford these things, maybe you need more funding for your business before you decide to do a social media campaign.

5. It takes writing skills, wit and good taste. I find that journalists, photographers and other content creators are the best at social media, because it’s about storytelling. Talented creative is rare — and costs money.

6. It has to be proofread, spell checked, high resolution and not look junky. That means it takes time and care, and you’ll need to hire educated, thoughtful, creative people.

7. It takes technical skill. Building a Facebook page takes more knowledge than using WordPress or building a website. By far. Just because billions of people use it, lamely, does not mean that using it intelligently is going to be easy.

8. It’s a specialty. You really need to specialize in this and do it all the time to stay on top of the technology. It changes every day.

9. There is still this myth you can farm social media out to interns or outsource it.  Or worse, just by a bunch of fake followers for $5 on Fiverr. This is the front line of your brand and you’re going to trust it to someone entry level?

10. If you want to reach consumers under 40, you need to be online. Period. Statistics and marketing research have consistently shown that younger people, especially Millenials, don’t watch much TV, listen to broadcast radio, read print media or read email anymore. They’re glued to smart phones — and social media.

So if you paid for email campaigns and lists, TV ads, print ads, Google ad words, and PR — expect to pay for qualified, experienced and competent social media too.

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With social media, you’re making the news, and telling your own story

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Everyone loves it when they make the “news” and the local paper writes about their business.

Now, with Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and other online communities, or your blog, you’re making the news  and telling your own story.

And your fans and customers respond in a conversation.

I call it “Social PR.”

Instead of filtering your message through reporters and “experts” — you’re communicating directly to a community.

It’s like PR in warp speed.

Instead of a cycle of a days or weeks — your news gets spread in seconds. It’s like sending out a press release five times a day, each one just 140 characters.

This massive, global, two-way conversation is called Social Media. It’s here to stay, my friend. And it’s turning the world upside down.

Facebook now reaches 1 billion of the most influential, affluent and connected people on Earth — in 70 languages. And 70% of Facebook users are outside the US. (Today it’s estimated that 2 billion people, more or less 1/3 of the planet, have access to the Internet.)

Now the numbers are so massive that social media can no longer be ignored.

Hey, social media is the media.

Social media is now also the best way to reach and influence the “mainstream” media.

Social media now gives you unprecedented, direct and immediate access to celebrities, Venture Capitalists, investors, reporters, CEOs, politicians and influential people of all kinds.

If you’re not using Social Media to promote your business, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to find new customers, fans and relationships.

Social media is the most effective marketing and web traffic building tool – ever. It is increasingly the most important, customer facing marketing tool in your arsenal.

WHO READS THE NEWSPAPER?

Today, with the rapid disappearance and shrinking of “mainstream” media, (like newspapers and magazines) you can’t rely on press coverage and ad campaigns to announce your product or ideas anymore.  Most millennials do not read newspapers — the audience for print is not just aging, it’s dying. The new generation cut it’s teeth on cellphones and computers.

WHO WATCHES TV?

Nobody under 70 it seems to me–they watch shows on social media, like YouTube, Vimeo or pay per view like Netflix.  And they discover what to watch from friends on social media.

WHO READS EMAIL NEWSLETTERS?

Most people are too overloaded and ignore them.  Email gets stuck in the spam filter. If you get a 2% response rate you’re lucky. Why bother? If you’re customer is over 50, I recommend email marketing. If you want to stay in touch with your existing customers, email is a good adjunct to a social media Fan page or group. Otherwise it’s a waste of time.

JUNK MAIL AKA SNAIL MAIL?

Paper is almost obsolete. The majority of our shopping and commerce now happens online. When’s the last time you learned about something new in the postal mail?

BILLBOARDS, POSTCARDS, BROCHURES?

Face to face, personal “social networking” is more effective than ever as a way to cut through the clutter. And it’s an excellent way to drive your customers to your website, Facebook fan page or sign up for your email newsletter to stay in touch. Billboards, trade shows, festivals,  speaking enagagements, events — all great ways to get photographed, video taped and then spread around on the social media.

TRENDSETTERS AND EARLY ADOPTERS ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

In order to influence and seed consumers and “early adopters” who will be the first to sign on to a beta programs, try a new product or embrace revolutionary ideas, it’s critical to reach them through, and be seen and heard on the “emerging media” or “social media”.

This is where the trendsetters, hipsters, cutting edge early adopters and most technologically agile people have historically hung out, talk about what’s new, and spread ideas to their friends and colleagues. This isn’t new — it’s been going on since the eighties when “chat rooms” like the Well pioneered what evolved into today’s Internet and social media.

Social media is where the mainstream media get their story ideas and learn what’s new.

These social communities are now as important as newspaper, TV or radio coverage and can be highly targeted.

“Social media” includes:

- Your website (hopefully a blog loaded with “Social Share” buttons, links and automated, syndicated feeds to Twitter and Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube — and not an old, 1990s-style, static website) is the hub of this integrated social media strategy.

- social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Google +, WhatsApp, Instagram.)

- social bookmarking sites (like Digg and StumbleUpon.)

- blogging  sites (Like Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger.)

- e commerce – Etsy, Ebay, Amazon — these are also social networks.

- group buying/discount sites (like Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe.)

- customer review sites (like Yelp, TripAdvisor.)

- video sharing sites (You Tube, Vimeo, Twitter Vine and Viddy.)

- photo sharing sites (Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram.)

- radio talk show networks (“podcasts” like Personal Life Media, Progressive News Network, Visionary Culture Radio and Blogtalk Radio.)

- Internet music and radio (Pandora, Spotify, SOMA-FM.)

- event networks (Eventful, We Know, Daily Candy, Upcoming, Zvents, Eventbrite, Craigslist, Meetup, Going., Plancast, Socializr. Evite.)

- professional networks (LinkedIn, Ryze, Thumbtack, Labor Fair, TaskRabbit, MeetUp.)

vertical, niche social networks for your market (ie for LOHAS they include: Architects of a New Dawn, Waccobb.net, Children of the Light, WiserEarth.)

- Yahoo Groups, Google Groups (these closed email lists can spread your product, workshop, event or idea to highly targeted niches. They are powerful for music festivals, conferences, events, yoga, dance and workshop promotion.)

- Facebook and LinkedIn groups – in high tech, these groups of early adopters and enthusiasts are critical to the success of a new product. For other businesses, such as Fashion, Design or Green, specific networking groups are highly influential, and often have their own social pages.Related articles

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Will you please focus your personal brand?

4e4600ec6ef691d22f0693843b29dbe0If there is one thing I could ask all of my clients to do it’s this:

Please focus your brand.

I know, I know. We’re all wearing many hats now.

Multiple revenue streams are one way people cope with the challenge of today’s economy. We’re afraid to turn down business so we try to be everything to everybody.

But people don’t hire generalists, they hire experts.

You need to focus and specialize now more than ever.

Each business or revenue stream you take on in your life must be focused with it’s own, separate social media presence or you’re going to confuse your customer and they’ll run away.

The Solution: The Umbrella Brand

Umbrella branding” is a strategy that huge multinational businesses use — it’s the umbrella that covers all of their smaller brands. For example, GE is really a defense contractor when you get down to it, but their brand focuses on light bulbs: “We bring good things to light.” GE’s umbrella branding tags include: “GE: Brilliant Machines,” for their hospital equipment and “GE: Imagination at Work” for industrial equipment.

Or consider Hewlett-Packard, (HP). Did you know HP makes LED light bulbs for cars, components and about 10,000 other products?

I know, because I worked for HP for several years and sat in meetings where we wrestled with this problem. Every one of those 10,000 product managers with a product at HP wants a press release and a press tour for their product, but only a few, select, “front runners” and stars get chosen to represent the overall brand. In other words, the products that are most interesting get the PR. When we think of HP, we usually think of the front runner products like: “Ink Jet Printers.” Or: “Innovation in the historic HP garage.” This was condensed ino one word, the HP brand: “Invent.” This is the HP umbrella brand.

Image representing GE as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Now if HP and GE can’t afford to be all things to all people in their branding, you, Joe Schumuckatelli from Pocatello, Idaho sure as heck can’t afford multiple brands.

But small businesses and start-ups almost always try to have multiple product lines, spin off new stores, create new catchy taglines for all of their offerings, address multiple markets and even have multiple websites and logos. What a mess.

If you can’t remember all of your brands, products and taglines — do you think the customer can?

In my personal experience, any business brand (or personal brand) trying to be too many things is doomed to failure. I have see this in the high tech industry where start-ups with less than $1 million in funding will attempt to brand multiple products and serve both the B2B market and the consumer right out of the gate–confusing the investors, press and customers alike.

Do one thing and do it well — then launch more products once you’re Google or Yahoo. (Even Yahoo is  hacking away at “deadwood” product lines that clutter up the brand and aren’t producing revenue.)

Robert Scoble Leads the Way into the HP Garage

Robert Scoble Leads the Way into the HP Garage. This mythical place still leads the umbrella brand for HP. (Photo credit: bragadocchio)

Create your personal umbrella brand.

To create a personal umbrella brand, the first step is to ask yourself:

What makes me tick? What is at the core of every major step I’ve ever taken in my life?

It will help to get feedback from friends, clients and family and step outside yourself to ask this question. Tap deeply in to your core life purpose.

When you clarify your life purpose and articulate it in a mission statement,  you are on the way to creating a Personal Umbrella Brand that will work for your focus for years to come, even when it changes.

To start creating your Umbrella Brand, answer this question:

“Who is My Dream Client or Perfect Customer – and What Makes Them Excited?”

Case Study: A corporate organizational management consultant who now also does personal organizing and “downsizing” for individuals and small businesses.

Her business mission: “I create organizational strategies from Fortune 500 to the home office.”

Or, in a personal branding mission statement, “I simplify your business. I simplify your life.”

Focus your brand strategy on your website for better SEO:

In your website, build your overall brand that ties it all together as your summary statement, making sure to use key words that people will search for in Google when they want to find you. This “elevator statement” is the most important thing you’ll do so give it time and bounce it off friends and clients. These key words create Search Engine Optimization or “SEO,” so use them often in articles on your website.

Use pull down menus on your website to create sub-categories for specific lines of business.

Jane Fonda at a book signing, 2005

Jane Fonda at a book signing, 2005. If you’re already abundant and famous you can afford to create multiple brands and hire people to build all those websites and fan pages for your books, movies, exercise videos, non-profit philanthropic projects and political endeavors. Otherwise, focus your brand.

If your businesses are wildly disparate, you should build a separate brand, website and Fan page community for each business — but trust me, this will seriously tax your time and focus unless you are Richard Branson or Jane Fonda and can afford teams of people to manage all of this for you.

(I got to visit Jane Fonda’s office once many years ago, and asked: “Jane, you’re incredible. You have exercise videos, produce films, run non profit organizations, raise a family — how do you do it all? And she said something so honest I’ll remember it for the rest of my life: “Are you kidding? I’m rich! I can hire people to do all these things for me.”)

So if you have the fame and resources of Jane Fonda, go ahead and build multiple brands. Otherwise, focus your personal brand.

Focus your bio on LinkedIn:

For many of us, especially if we’ve been working for two decades, our LinkedIn profile is all over the map. What do all these jobs add to? What is the ultimate focus that ties all this life experience together into your life purpose?  Find the key words that clients or employers are searching for, and build those key words into your personal brand.

If your signature line or title says you have six careers, which one do I hire you for today in 2013?  Which one is your primary revenue stream? Nobody is an expert in 6 things. Focus your personal brand.

Focus Your Email Signature Line:

When I see 5 careers in a LinkedIn profile, email signature line or Twitter bio I think: “She is less than 20% at each of these things.” I want to hire the person who is 100%, don’t you? Focus your personal brand.

I don’t want a floor wax that’s also a dessert topping — I want an eco non toxic wax for hardwood floors.

I don’t want a dentist who is also an auto mechanic — I want a cosmetic dentist with an office within walking distance from my house.

Use a clear mission statement in your signature line, and if you have multiple lines of business, add a separate URL for each one.  Build a separate email address for each business–it’s free in Gmail.

Focus your personal pages on Facebook and Pinterest for hobbies that build your personal brand:

Most of us want more meaning in our life, and turning a passion or hobby into a business is everyone’s dream. Before you pour your time into building brands for all of your passions, though, ask yourself:

What is my business — and what are my passions?

Yes, like most people with a life outside of work, I’ve done a lot of things that I’ve been paid to do — this includes being a backup singer on some CDs, art curator, remodeling and flipping houses, stage manager and emcee for the Green Festival, art model, on stage storytelling performer, vegetarian caterer, producing events and yoga conferences, journalist, aromatherapist, writing a book about my “Eat, Pray, Love” journey in the south of France, etc. etc.

I took a stab at starting businesses in all of these areas but generally, I ended up investing more than I earned …therefore they are hobbies. My business is promoting things. I have found a happy medium that feeds my soul by promoting things that are my passions — technology that helps people collaborate, events that teach healthy lifestyles, solar energy and green ideas.

My passions, aka hobbies, however, don’t belong on my LinkedIn profile, my professional website or my email signature line unless I want to look like a flaky new age dilettante.

(Here’s an actual Flaky New Age Dilettante Twitter Profile: “Shamanic journeyer+travel.art.yoga junkie+wellness warrior+DJ+social alchemist. Some say l am an expert in Marketing, & Campaign Management.” Uh, yeah, not for personal branding I hope.)

I do get a lot of clients from the people I met while doing my hobbies, and they feed my soul, so I indulge in my hobbies on my personal Facebook page and Pinterest or by taking on volunteer roles or “pro bono” clients in these niches and highlighting them on LinkedIn in the volunteer section at the end of my profile.

Focus your thought leadership niche:

Examine your market niche and do research on the competition. For example, for one of my clients, a green talk radio host, she has discovered that there are no competitors at all for women representing the ecological and green movement. The door is wide open for her to take a thought leadership position and own that category as an author and media personality and we’re working on that together. For my business, I did a search in Twitter and noticed there are 181,000 social media gurus. But very few focus on the LOHAS, green or sustainable market — that niche is wide open for thought leadership.

Focus your photo and banner.

Choose your best portrait photo and use it consistently everywhere — it’s your brand. Same hairstyle, same eyeglasses, same hat or hair color. Think of celebrities that stand out eternally – Marilin Monroe and her platinum hair, Elvis and his sideburns, John Lennon and his round glasses, Groucho Marx with his big nose, moustache and glasses, Larry King and his suspenders — each has a style so distinctive that they are easily parodied. Find a unique look that defines your personal brand. One easy way to do this is to choose a consistent background for your photos — such as a redwood forest, ocean or city skyline or to wear a consistent color.  Hire a designer to create a banner for every social and web page or use a cover maker – and make sure it is one in a million unique. (No cheesy stock photos.)

Focus your regional market.

Even though the Internet is “global,” few businesses really are. If your clients are from a specific geographical region, put that in your mission statement and build listings on Yelp, Yahoo, Google, and other local listing services to ensure you show up in local searches.

It’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond — so consider focusing your brand to a region with the least number of competitors, or even moving to a region you can own and dominate.  That region is a keyword that is crucial to your SEO for your website, LinkedIn and your Twitter bio–be specific so customers can find you.

Focus and build thought leadership with content — and real world examples.

Thought leadership is a commitment to leading a category and curating content in that category until you are synonymous with that category. (Tim Ferris owns the “4 Day Work Week.” Don Miguel Ruiz owns “The Four Agreements.” What do you own?) Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s not as much fun as being a dilettante — but it helps you stand out and build authoritiy, page rank and SEO.

The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris

“The 4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferris is now the 4 Hour Anything Personal Umbrella Brand and he owns it. What do you own that is unique to you and you alone?

Brand focus builds authority and trust

Another client is a river rafting guide and also a massage therapist. I convinced her to drop the massage therapy from her river rafting website and build a new site for that sideline.  It’s distracting to think of the relaxation of a massage and the adrenaline rush experience of river rafting under the same brand.

Her new brand tagline is: “Life is a river — dance with it!” This reflects her personal passion in dance, and the fact that every river trip has live or DJ dance music, making them very different than mainstream river rafting trips. Other tag lines that spin off this theme will include: “Life is a river, flow with it!” and “Life is a river, dive in!”)  The new card and website emphasize “flow” with curving fonts. There are hundreds of Esctatic Dance events and hundreds of river rafting trips — but she owns “Dance with the River”.

When you focus your brand, you will find that not only will your credibility with clients improve, but your SEO, website traffic, Klout and Peer Index scores will soar because these scores reflect the consistency of posting on a single topic area and building thought leadership in that category.

As your Klout improves, clients and customers will call, and you will be getting inquiries from the news media looking for authorities to quote in their stories, and speaking engagements.

When you focus your brand, you won’t have to search for clients — they’ll finally be able to find you!