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.

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

Is your LinkedIn profile embarrassing?

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Here are some ridiculous profiles and titles of people who did not make the cut and get to be one of my 2,200 connections on LinkedIn:

Anyone who still hasn’t paid me yet.

Your title and every word in your profile is written in lower case.

Passport photo or driver’s license photo used as your LinkedIn profile photo. (No kidding.)

Scary, mug shot-style LinkedIn photo. (Against a wall, all black and white.)

Anyone not wearing a shirt.  One woman PR consultant in my network is wearing a bikini top in her LinkedIn photo Seriously. Bikini top? Unless you’re a character on Baywatch, swimwear is not appropriate for business.

Someone who says she is an “orgasmic liaison”.

No photo. No description of what you do. (Who is this mysterious character with no shared connections? Why are you on LinkedIn?  Why do you want to be my connection? How did you find me? Why? I’m scared. Help…)

Someone who calls themselves a “bliss expert.”  (Maybe they’re connected to the “orgasmic liaison” but not me.)

Real estate agents. (Unless they are my boyfriend.)

Executive recruiters who are going to pelt me with requests for access to software developers. (Go away.)

Substitute teachers.  (I don’t think in a million years a substitute teacher is ever going to hire me.)

A guy in a Scottish tam o’ shanter and ruffled shirt. (On LinkedIn? Are you lost?)

Insurance agents. (Yikes. Go away. I already have insurance.)

Anyone who is a “Career and Life Coach.” Unless you teach football, you’re not a coach around here.

Anyone who is an “Executive Coach.” Unless you coached Bill Gates, you’re not an executive coach in Silicon Valley.

Anyone with both the words “coach” and “cannabis” in their title.  (I said “green business.” Not that kind.)

People who sell anything multi-level. Especially water filter distributors. (Oh, that’s impressive.)

Anything pyramid schemey. Especially if it involves something you blend in a smoothie.

Anyone who is a “meditator” in their profile title. (Or was that “Mediator” spelled wrong?)

Your NAME IS IN ALL CAPS you run a “HEALING MASSAGE SERVICE” and you live in another country.

Anyone with a creepy dark photo with a crooked smile.

Men who are not wearing shirts.

Men wearing Hawaiian shirts and a baseball hat that obscures their eyes. (This isn’t a virtual barbecue — it’s a virtual business cocktail party.)

Spells CEOs “ceo’s.” (Yeah, right. I’ll bet you are an “executive coach” too.)

Your LinkedIn photo is kind of dusty and it was taken at Burning Man.  (Ok if you are Larry Harvey, a founder of Burning Man.) All others, “delete.”)

People who call themselves a “CEO” but run a home-based MLM business and have nobody reporting to them but their cat.

Seven lame, business-killing excuses for not having a social media presence.

It's time to stop making lame excuses for not having a social media presence.
It’s time to stop making lame excuses for not having a social media presence.

This article was selected as 1 of 1 million WordPress posts to be on Freshly Pressed where it created a momentary sensation and 15 minutes of social media fame for me. It’s two years old now, and clients are still making excuses so I am running it first to remind you all that it’s about time started on this Facebook thing.

1. You’re too busy.

I don’t think social media is optional anymore. A professional presence in social media is now a marketing necessity, like a business card or a website. You can’t afford not to have a social media presence. You’ll look like a Luddite, like you’re out of step, like you’re stuck in the Eighties — when people actually got their news from a newspaper, bought things from ads, looke for businesses in the Yellow pages, and were influenced by television.

For most businesses and professions, social media is important. Make an investment in social media, plan your strategy first, do it right, and you’ll be paid back ten-fold.

Updating your profile and sending out Twitter updates can become part of your regular routine — like brushing your teeth, answering email and checking your voice mail.

Using free tools, you can interlink all of your social profiles — so that your Twitter automatically updates Facebook, your blog and LinkedIn. You can update everything simultaneously from your mobile phone in a few minutes a day.

2. You don’t “get” this social media thing.

When you tell stories in public, not only do they have to be true (fact checked, verified, libel-free and legal), accurate, spell-checked and well written, but your story needs to be interesting, engaging and continually evolving. If you’re not naturally good at that, or you don’t have time, you’ll want to hire professional help.

Ultimately, you’ll need to be engaged on a daily basis. Celebrities, consultants, musicians, workshop leaders, public speakers and CEOs who “get” social media make it a priority and are personally involved. You can also outsource social updating to a pro. But make sure they take time to truly know and understands your business, know how to tell an engaging story, have a “voice” and “get” the culture, ethics and rules of the community you’re trying to reach.

3. You can’t afford it.

Everything you need is free. If you hire a consultant, you can get a lot of value from a few hours of his/her time setting your site up and coaching you on the unwritten secrets, tips and tricks of really using Social Media brilliantly.

4. You don’t need it.

Just like you “didn’t need” a website back in 2000. Everyone else jumped on the bandwagon, killed brick and mortar businesses, got all the cool urls and are now worth millions. Are you going to miss out on this land grab too?

500 million people worldwide are utilizing Facebook to create their personal brand. Many events are solely promoted on Facebook. You are really late to the program and totally out of the loop and out of touch if you have a stagnant, unupdated profile or none at all. These days a lot of people think you don’t exist anymore if you’re not in the social sphere because they aren’t even using email anymore and use Facebook or LinkedIn as their main way of communicating with colleagues, or Twitter as their main way to announce breaking news.

5. You’re doing fine with Google adwords.

Oh yeah? Why are you buying search results that will disappear as soon as you stop paying — when you could be using social sites and a blog to build a search ranking that will last forever. Also, you’re totally missing out on a highly targeted market if you’re not also advertising on Facebook.

6. You already hired an SEO guy.

In my opinion, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead in 2010. It was important in the age of static HTML websites in the 90s.

Why? Because search engines can only search text! The most important thing you can do is generate tons of text and mentions of your URL that will drive people back to your website. More about this later.

7. It’s not necessary.

If you are not on social media, your business reputation is at risk! Ignore social media at your peril–because people are probably talking about you, your competitors and your brand. They’re building relationships without you. They’re inviting people to cool events that you’re not learning about. If you’re not on social media by now, it’s as if you don’t exist.

Bad PR used to be quickly forgotten when the newspaper was tossed in the trash. Now it lasts forever in Cyberspace. Bad customer reviews can quickly destroy a new product launch, a new event or a beta program. Bad word of mouth on social networks will severely damage your personal reputation.

Negative reviews on Yelp can kill a restaurant in a few days. Don’t worry, you can now pay Yelp a monthly fee (aka bribe) to remove bad reviews. Better off to not get them in the first place.

You need to be prepared to brand yourself and position yourself wisely. And you need to pay attention to what your peers, competitors and partners are saying in the social realm.

If your business is large, you’ll also need to track the coverage and monitor feedback so you can respond to customers immediately. It’s all quickly becoming as complex as a traditional, mainstream media PR program.

Whatever you call it — Social Media, Emerging Media, New Media — it’s all just a conversation.

But it’s a conversation you can’t avoid anymore. Ignore it at your peril or it will happen without you. It’s time to lead the conversation.