Excuse Me, You Have Some Twitter On Your Facebook

blog-illustrationTweets on LinkedIn. Tweets on blogs. Facebook and Twitter updates on blogs. Blogs on Facebook. It seems that many people don’t want anyone to miss a single word they ever say. Duplicate content is becoming the norm. I brought this up on Twitter recently, and quickly got a bunch of responses from people agreeing that it is a bit noisy. Some said that they hate it but do it themselves because they thought it was just what you were supposed to do. But as far as I know, no one is supposed to do anything in the social media space. If they are, then they neglected to give me that rule book.

This over-connectedness and need for everyone to read everything you ever write or say online is starting to overwhelm me. The thing is that oftentimes those with whom you are connected on Twitter may also be connected to you on Facebook and/or LinkedIn or subscribe to your blog. They’ve seen it already on one of the other platforms. For me, I see each venue as having a unique function. There is some cross-pollination going on in my various online arenas, but overall each platform has its own audience. Each platform also lends itself to unique styles of communication that don’t always translate well on a different platform. Even though I am not your cubicle type, I am finding the need to compartmentalize my social networking use.

Welcome to my compartments

Professional:
LinkedIn for me is purely business. I try not to get too personal there, using it for business networking, promoting my business and my blog with business related content, and looking for new clients and other business uses. My Blog also serves a similar purpose. I generally write about issues and ideas related to what I do – marketing, writing, design, and branding stuff. I leave personal stories out of it unless they’re part of a larger story that relates to what I do. Hopefully people will read what I write and some even hire me.

Mix n Match:
Twitter for me is easier to mix personal and professional content. The short format lends itself to allowing me to quickly share a myriad of things – pictures of my puppy, links to interesting articles on business subjects of interest, quick chats with my virtual friends, and just random observations of the strange, funny and interesting things I find or think about. I tend to be a bit more liberal with Twitter followers. Let”s face it, the majority of the 1001 people I have following me on Twitter are people I have never met and probably never will. Some are real friends, online friends and people I have worked with or might work with, but the vast majority are complete strangers.

My real friends:
Facebook, on the other hand is beginning to define itself to me as the place to connect with my friend-friends, not my “friends.” I do have a few business related connections there, but I’m thinking about dropping them and keeping it purely personal. I don’t necessarily want potential clients or colleagues reading my chatty comments or stupid insider jokes with old friends. I see this as a place for me to really relax and stay in touch with friends and family. I generally keep business out of it. My real life friends and family don’t care to know my thoughts on marketing or writing. Those people care more about the recipe for that tasty roasted red pepper dip that I make all the time.

Stop and think about the various platforms you use and how they can each be utilized in unique ways to do whatever it is that you do. Go ahead, Tweet on Twitter, write on your Facebook wall, update your status or start a discussion on LinkedIn, and cross-promote now and then, but I don’t think the world is going to stop turning if someone somewhere misses something you say.

Do you use each platform in different ways? What do you think?

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Is New School Marketing Really That Different From Old School?

oldschoolhouseMy online friend John Cavanaugh’s recent post got me thinking about the hot rivalry between new school vs. old school marketing. We all know those feel good buzz words like transparency, conversation and engagement, but I question their truth in meaning in the online world. I am realizing that the new way of marketing is not as different from the old way as we are often led to believe. It all depends on your perspective and your approach.

Putting a business out there with a blog and on Facebook and Twitter is a good thing. It allows consumers to at least feel like the company is accessible, but does it really offer that transparency that everyone says is so essential? I think it’s more like translucence. No company is going to be completely transparent. Most companies and organizations highly monitor their Facebook posts, blog posts and Twitter feeds. They are most often manned by PR, marketing, communications or customer service people within the organization. In other words, trained professionals well-versed in the company’s mission, style, philosophy and message. These people are in fact crafting their posts to serve the best interest of the company. You know, just like advertising, only folksier.

I submit that social media usage by business is simply a newer form of advertising. Let’s face it, a Facebook page is designed to generate interest in and attention to a brand (just like advertising), with the added bonus of actually hearing and seeing what people are saying about you (just like focus groups). The point of a business gaining fans, followers and subscribers may seem like it’s about building a “community,” but when it gets right down to the core, it’s about getting a following of existing or potential customers to like your brand, with the end goal of selling whatever it is that you are selling to them (just like advertising). It’s a powerful way to get consumers to try your Kool-aid, like it, then buy it (just like handing out free samples in the grocery store). The more fans, followers and subscribers you get, the more people start talking about your brand or business around the web, which in turn builds brand awareness (just like advertising).

So I propose that we stop the bickering between the new school and the old school and realize that we’re not as different as we may think. I suggest we stop using the word “transparent,” adopt the more accurate word “translucent” instead, and just feel hopeful that businesses can no longer get away with being opaque.

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Crowd Sourcing’s Dark Side

11080I’m all for keeping a finger on the pulse of what consumers are saying and thinking, but there seems to be a new trend in over-reliance on crowd sourced results to direct business, especially when it comes to creative work. Crowds, especially of the consumer variety can be very useful for feedback on new products, but be wary of inviting crowds into the intimate creative places of your business. From graphics, logos and websites to tag lines, brand names, domain names and even the products themselves, many businesses are turning to crowd sourcing to get their creative work for free or practically free. As a creative entrepreneur, I find this trend a bit disturbing, not just because it degrades the value of true creative work, but because it can have a larger negative impact on businesses and their brands.

A business image is not something to leave in the hands of the masses. Brand building is a delicate thing that should be orchestrated by the owner of the brand, not by those who consume the brand. Kraft’s Vegimite/Snack 2.0 debacle is a great example of how crowd sourcing can completely backfire. This trend of crowd sourced creative work waters down what a brand truly can be. Brand building comes from creating multiple layers of elements like product, quality, message, image, graphics, website, communication, partnerships and reputation in the industry, marketplace and with consumers. Why so many businesses are leaving these crucial elements in the hands of the masses is perplexing. As someone who created and built a brand of children’s shoes from scratch, the idea of asking the general public for creative direction or creation was something I never would have even considered. The masses don’t know what is best for your business, you do. The masses are consumers, not innovators. In most cases, consumers can’t imagine what they haven’t already seen before.

Can’t afford a professional? Just ask anyone for a free opinion
So many social media sites have opened up the flood gates to this kind of thinking. Certain LinkedIn discussion groups have become a hotbed for free crowd sourcing of creative work. I’ve seen people asking for marketing plans, brand names, domain names, and logos all for free. There has been one discussion that has been going on for over a month now from someone asking for “suggestions” for a tag line for his music company. To date, there have been 272 responses coming free from the likes of a student in Malaysia, a “Change Communicator,” a “Senior Solutions Specialist,” but more surprising is that supposed Marketing Experts, Copywriters, and Brand Strategists also added their suggestions. For Free. I understand the whole concept of giving in the social media world, but expecting professional results from people willing to simply throw out random suggestions for something as important to a brand as a tag line is simply unrealistic. The results of this person’s request, even though there were 272 of them were pretty terrible. They were terrible because none of the respondents knew anything about this guy’s business, what his goals were, who he was, what his message was, who his market was or what image he was trying to project. These are all the things that a professional would take into consideration carefully and spend time contemplating before even suggesting a solution.

This isn’t work, it’s a contest

I got an email the other day specifically addressed to me inviting me to enter a contest to come up with a new domain name for someone’s business. I was told that I would get $10 for my submission, and then if it were chosen as the best, I would “win” $500. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link to see what this was all about. There were very specific parameters for this project. It was a domain for a new dating website, but it wasn’t just a domain they were looking for, actually it was a brand name. It had to be nine letters or less, had to be a .com address, had to be available, had to be unique and not trademarked or used by any other business, and it had to capture the essence of the philosophy of their site. There was also a long list of words that could not be used. It was suggested that the estimated work time on this project would be ten minutes. That’s right, I said ten minutes. It was also stated that this was the second contest they were holding because the first one “did not generate the kind of results that they were looking for.” Hmm, you think they mean PROFESSIONAL results?

More is better

Would you rather savor one incredibly delicious meal created by a talented chef or would you rather stuff yourself with unlimited piles of junk food? Crowd sourcing is like a junk food feast. The premise (I think) behind crowd sourcing is that if you get a ton of responses, you will have a bigger pool to choose from, increasing your chances of getting the results you are looking for. More is better, right? If the goal is to find quality creative work, then the answer is no. Anyone willing to enter a “contest” is not going to be giving you professional work. They’ll spend the ten minutes to take a chance – kind of like buying a lottery ticket. But let me let you in on a little secret: Believe it or not, great graphics, design, writing, naming, branding, and marketing all take talent, experience, creativity, knowhow, and time. Instead of blowing your budget on a contest that generates piles of amateur entries, spend your money on talent. You know, someone who will spent some time THINKING and talking to you about your business and what you hope to achieve. That my friends, takes more than ten minutes.

I’ll pay you if I like you

There are numerous sites popping up that are going beyond the bidding wars of sites like elance or odesk for creative work, but they actually solicit suckers to do the work up front, upload it for all to see, and only pay the one that is chosen as the best either by the poster or by votes from the crowd. Would you walk into competing bakeries, eat their respective cakes, and only pay for the one that you think tastes best? Would you expect to have several landscapers come to your house, plant their gardens, build their stone walls and only pay the one who you think did the best job? This is called working on spec. I don’t understand how this approach to hiring creative work is acceptable. It’s a cop out really on the part of the hiring person. They apparently are not willing to take the risk or the heat of hiring the wrong person. Maybe it comes from a lack of confidence in knowing what is good creative or not, but if you do your homework, look at experience, previous work and get recommendations from others who the creatives have worked with, then educated choices can be made. Anyone who is willing to put their time and energy into creating something without knowing whether or not they will be paid is clearly either desperate or an amateur looking to build a portfolio.

I’m not a real ______, I just play one on the Internet

Ah, the self proclaimed guru problem again. I recently wrote about that subject here. But for true designers, writers, marketers or anyone else who offers creative consulting services to business, the guru problem has invaded their potential for livelihood like Kudzu in a Louisiana swamp. Again, it’s a matter of research. Know who you are working with and find out if a person has ever done what they profess themselves to be.

The bottom line is that you have a choice. It all depends on what your goals are. You can risk your budget and/or brand on a contest with amateurs who will only spend a few minutes on your project, or you can do your homework and hire a professional who will take a vested interest in your business’ success. Your success, image and happiness is their success, image and happiness. Don’t underestimate the power of talent.

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Dish Network: A Profile In Poor Marketing

DISH POSTCARD019A few weeks back, this direct mail piece came addressed to me from Dish Network. It features a picture of an olive-skinned and black haired beauty on the front and handsome dark haired, stubble-bearded man on the back. Beyond that, I cannot tell you what it says because it’s written in Arabic. My husband and I first had a little chuckle about it, but the longer this piece sat on my desk, the more it bothered me. It appears that it was sent to me because of the ethnicity of my last name, however I have a distinctly Armenian name, not Arabic. Although Armenia is in the general area of many Arabic speaking nations, Armenians actually do not speak Arabic as their native language; they speak Armenian. Different culture, different language and different alphabet altogether.

I found out that Dish Network is on Twitter, so I quickly tweeted them asking to be connected to someone in their marketing department to discuss an issue. I swiftly got a tweet back saying that I should DM them with the specific issue so that they can be sure to “connect me with the right person.” As succinctly as possible in 140 characters, I stated that I was offended by being ethnically targeted with a direct mail piece and wanted to discuss it with someone. Silence. A day passed and I sent them another DM, asking to please be connected to someone who could discuss this with me. Silence. I went to their web site, found a customer service email address and sent a message explaining the situation in detail, why it bothered me, and again asked to be connected to someone who could address this with me. Silence.

So here’s what’s so wrong with this entire scenario from a marketing, customer service and social media perspective:

1. If a company is going to send out a direct mail piece, then they better be darn sure they know who they are targeting.

2. Making an ill-informed assumption that someone with a name from a certain ethnic group speaks a certain language is wrong for several reasons. In my case:
- Armenians aren’t native Arabic speakers. Some Armenian may speak Arabic, but that’s not typical. Clumping everyone with heritage from that region of the world into a general category of Middle Eastern and making assumptions based on that, negates the richness of Armenian culture and the myriad of other cultures that grew from that region.
- I am a 2nd generation Armenian-American. Not only do I not speak or read Arabic, but I do not even speak Armenian (except for a few words like girl, yogurt, dog and how are you) and can’t read it at all. I happen to speak and read English as my native language.
- For all the Dish Network marketers know, I may not even be Armenian. I could be from any ethnic group, and simply married to someone with an Armenian name.
- Even if my heritage were from an Arabic speaking culture, why would it be assumed that I speak and read Arabic?

3. If a company has a presence in social media, then they are essentially inviting people to contact them with comments, suggestions or problems. If a consumer does contact them via social media with a problem, then they are obliged to answer. What’s the point of being there if they don’t? To just have the appearance of being accessible?

4. If a company tells someone that they will connect them with the “right” person, then should connect them with the right person, not just ignore them.

5. If a company has a contact email on their website and someone takes the time to contact them, explain a problem, and ask for assistance, then they should respond to them, not just ignore them.

Yes, I admit, this post is a bit of a rant, but I am angry that I have been targeted and profiled in this way. I am angry that I tried to contact Dish Network to discuss this and was even invited to do so. But instead of offering me some kind of response, they chose to ignore me instead.
Moral of the story:
1. Direct mail campaigns based on ethnic or racial profiling are probably not a good idea.
2. If a consumer has a problem or complaint, then it’s probably a good idea for the company to respond (in English).

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Pay No Attention to that Guru Behind the Curtain

ozYou all know the scene: Dorothy and her three friends return to Oz with the broom in hand after a harrowing near-death experience dealing with the witch and all those flying monkeys, only to have Toto pull back the curtain and expose the wizard as the charlatan that he truly was. In our world filled with online gurus of all types and sizes popping up on Twitter, LinkedIn and the Internet in general, it’s important for businesses to know how to smell the difference between the real deal and a faker. With the ease of self-promotion that comes with using the Internet also comes the ease for anyone to claim guru status in order to try to win business.

Here are a few red flags and tips on how to be sure that you are working with someone who knows what they are doing:

Using the word “guru” to describe oneself

In its original form, guru was not a self-proclaimed title. It was something bestowed upon a religious leader who was thought to have power, knowledge and insight into God to guide followers from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. I don’t think they were talking about Twitter followers. If anyone describes themselves as a guru in their bio, I suggest running the other way.

Is the walk the same as the talk?
I came across a blog the other day that is a great illustration of this point. Calling this site a blog really was a bit of a stretch because there were only a few entries over the course of several months and they all were brief announcements promoting speaking engagements this person had lined up to impart his wisdom on how to build business through the use of blogging and social networking. The only problem was that right next to the post was that little blue box announcing that he had 4 feed subscribers and a little blue bird announcing that he had 58 followers on Twitter. None of his posts had comments or Re-Tweets. Looking at his Twitter feed, all his Tweets were link backs to his “posts” on his blog promoting his speaking engagements. Now would you trust that this guy holds any wisdom regarding how to build business through social media? Don’t think too long on that one.

That’s what Google is for….

It may sound obvious, but Google search the person’s name or business and take a look at the results. Hop on LinkedIn and take a look at the profile. See what the person’s credentials are or what he or she has done in the past. You can tell a lot about a person with a couple of clicks.

The proof is in the pudding
On the Internet people can claim to be a writers, designers, social media specialists, web designers, or business advisors. Heck, some people even claim to be 16-year-old girls but turn out to be 50-year-old men. It’s up to you to know for sure with whom you are dealing. Ask to see a portfolio of work or references from previous clients. If the only thing a supposed marketing guru has ever marketed is the marketing of his or her own marketing guru-ness, then beware. You be the judge.

You get what you pay for

To a certain degree, this statement is absolutely true. It’s not necessarily true that the more expensive someone is, the better, but I can guarantee you that anyone who is willing to write some copy for you for $20, design a logo for you on spec, or suggest a tag line for your business for free on LinkedIn is not going to be providing you with great results. Pay fast food salary (or no salary at all) and you’re guaranteed to get work at the caliber of a squished hamburger and floppy fries or less. Do a little research to find out what the going rate is for high quality work and negotiate from there.

Size doesn’t always matter

With crafty methods of getting more followers on Twitter, don’t always think that the more followers someone has guarantees a higher level of expertise. I actually get the opposite feeling sometimes when someone has an exorbitant number of followers…it makes me think SPAM. Remember, Charles Manson had a lot of followers too.

Money, that’s what I want
Another red flag is the use and overuse of the dollar sign and images of piles of money on someone’s Twitter background, blog or website. If money is the primary concern of the message, then losing yours should be your primary concern.

Finding great talented people to accomplish what you need help with is actually pretty simple. When you are looking to hire someone to work on a project for you, use common sense. Do your homework, understand the going rate and maybe most importantly, trust your instincts.

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The Lawlessness Of Twitter’s Wild West

cowboyWhat to tweet or what not to tweet, the rules of behavior and usage for Twitter abound on the internet. Most humans desire some rules to live by, whether it’s through religion, government, family, workplace, or self imposed ethics, most people get a certain level of comfort from knowing the parameters within which they should or are expected to operate. The problem with trying to apply rules to Twitter use is that everyone is inventing their own rules as they go to suit their own needs. Like it or not, Twitter is like the old wild west and like those days, it is a bit of a free-for-all.

I started writing this post to express my opinion about such things as ghost tweeting, sponsored tweets and spammers. Then I thought about it a bit more and realized that I’d just be contributing to the already incredibly long list of posts about Twitter do’s and don’ts (this one I thought was particularly amusing). There are a myriad of ways to use or not use Twitter and a matching number of viewpoints about which is “right” and which is “wrong.”

There are people who use Twitter to write books one tweet at a time, people who use it to link to naked pictures of themselves, people who use it for customer service, for marketing, for shameless self promotion, for entertainment, enlightenment or inspiration, for posting affiliate links in the hope of making some cash, for posting random thoughts, or for posing as someone else. Whatever the use, whatever the motivation, no matter how many people scream “that’s wrong,” the same number will scream “says who?” When there are no rules, people will make them up as they go or some will not operate under any rules at all. So one of my resolutions for the new year is to try to stop being so irritated by those that are not using Twitter to my liking. I will simply do what they did in the wild west and in a blink of an eye I’ll take my gun out of its holster, aim, and fire directly at the block button.

Image courtesy of www.PDImages.com

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Great Expectations: Brand Building and ROI

coin returnBrand building and the return on the investment it takes to build a brand are, to a great degree, difficult things to measure. They can be a bit elusive and hard to define. The measurement involves participation in and understanding of a process that takes place over time, utilizing and considering numerous variables and methods to create a sense of familiarity, awareness and trust in a product or brand name. *Note the phrase “over time.”

There are some seemingly lucky dogs that hit on an overnight success, but those instances are rare, and most often only have the appearance of overnight success. The behind the scenes relentless messaging, marketing, PR, promotion and brand building work that takes place is usually not visible to the naked eye. And it really shouldn’t be.

Patience is key here. Focusing too heavily on tangible and quick ROI, dollar for dollar is futile. Investing in a promotional campaign that sends traffic to your site, starts people talking on the internet and elsewhere about your brand, increasing your Google ranking, getting your brand more attention from other media and other venues, though it may not seem like a strong dollar for dollar return, one has to consider what awareness is worth. When does the dollar return come from a promotional investment? Maybe not for months or even longer. What will greater brand awareness lead to? Customer trust and loyalty, new business, and more sales, but it most likely will not be right away. To expect to pay a dollar for promotional work and the next day get two dollars back is unrealistic, but that oftentimes is the expectation when a client asks about ROI.

Data is useful, no doubt about that, but data can be deceiving. If a promotional campaign does not immediately and directly produce sales, but does drive traffic and produce positive awareness, is that considered to be a poor return on investment? I would argue that ROI doesn’t necessarily have to translate directly to dollars out vs. dollars back in. The return may not come in ways that can easily be counted. The return can come in ways that are impossible to measure. It can come from a positive consumer feeling about and recognition of a brand, trust in a product, understanding of and connection to what the brand stands for and what a company is all about. All of that has to come before many consumers will be willing to spend one penny to buy. How do you measure and value the various elements of ROI?

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Social Media And The New Age Of Accountability

Mommy, There’s A Caterpillar In My Pickle Jar!

When I was a kid, I can recall one day finding a pickled caterpillar floating in the brine in a jar of pickles from which I was eating. The little creature was about the same size as the gherkins in the jar and it had been pickled to that same unnatural yellowish green hue. After I finished screaming out of disgust from the realization that I almost ate the thing, my mother quickly typed (yes, on a typewriter) a carefully crafted letter of complaint to the company. She put the letter in an envelope and sent it off in the mail along with the jar containing the caterpillar. A few weeks later, my mother received a lovely letter of apology along with a slew of coupons for free pickles and other products from this company. She felt acknowledged and satisfied with the response and that was that. It was a matter between my mother and the pickle company.

Today, if that same scenario popped up, a modern mother might run right over to her laptop and tweet about the disgusting experience to her 3,000 followers on Twitter and maybe blog about it with a close up picture of the pickled caterpillar and a YouTube video of the thing floating around in the brine. Maybe some of her followers and readers would re-tweet or re-blog about the experience and before you know it, that one tiny caterpillar in the pickle jar could cause quite a big PR and QC problem for the pickle manufacturer.


Consumer Responsibility

As consumers, we need to know that what we say in our online communities can be very powerful, both in a positive way and a negative way. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that what we say online is there forever. Once done, in most instances, it’s pretty hard to retract. Consumers now have ethical responsibilities that were never on the table before the onset of the Internet, and were previously reserved just for businesses. Consumers now have unprecedented power to make or break a brand.

Corporate Responsibility

As businesses, we have the responsibility to make sure our practices are above board and our products and services are the best they can be. People are watching and listening, and if our products are not what we say they are or as they should be, then everyone will know about it within a few instants. If we are entrusting our products to the power of social media, then we must be willing to take what comes and deal with it, good or bad. Businesses can no longer keep problems quiet, most often they have to deal with them out in the open forum of social media.


The Changing Landscape Of Business

Social media has changed a lot of things. It has changed the way we communicate. It has changed the speed at which we can disseminate, find and devour information. It has also drastically changed the way we do business from researching, selling, and promoting, to communicating with our customers and colleagues and monitoring the marketplace and our own businesses. Social media has thrust a new age of power, responsibility and accountability onto businesses, consumers and anyone with an Internet connection. No longer can businesses hide behind carefully crafted copy and corporate speak when one customer could potentially create a brand’s name as a trending topic on Twitter for good, bad or evil. We all have an awesome responsibility here to be fair, honest, responsive to both consumers and businesses. Suddenly we are all swimming in the same pool, and we all have to take that responsibility seriously.

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Are You Hiding Behind a Corporate Gorilla Suit on Twitter?

GorillaMaskI remember a Halloween party that I went to back in college. Great party, lots of friends, incredible costumes. Then the door opened and someone in a full body gorilla suit walked in. He/she did not speak, only made grunty gorilla noises. No one knew who it was, and the gorilla refused to reveal his/her identity. At first it was funny, but then we all started looking around the room to see which of our friends was missing from the group to try to ID this gorilla, but everyone was accounted for. It left everyone with a creepy uneasy feeling. Who was this person and why wouldn’t they reveal themselves? Was it a serial killer, a thief, a rapist, a crazed psycho? What did this person have to hide? It spooked everyone so much that we collectively threw the gorilla out of the party.

That story came to mind because I’ve been noticing that there are a lot of businesses hiding behind their own corporate gorilla suits on Twitter. Twitter, as most of us know, is a great place to connect with people, get the latest hot topics and find out what’s going on before it even happens. Those in business know or should know that Twitter offers up an amazing opportunity to connect with consumers directly, serving as a pipeline back and forth and building a community around a brand. One thing though that many businesses with a Twitter presence don’t realize is that it’s important to let people know who is behind the corporate tweets.

One of my pet peeves is when a company has a Twitter page and all that is there is the company name and logo, but no humans in sight. The tweets are coming from someone, but for some reason the company feels that it’s best that the person remain anonymous and just tweet as THE COMPANY. Bad move, in my opinion. It comes off as impersonal, and suggests that there is something hiding behind the mask of the brand name, like there’s some mysterious reason why they should be afraid to come out from behind the shadow of the giant logo and reveal themselves.

I always think in social media that if community and relationships are going to be built, then you need to show your face, if not literally, at least figuratively. People don’t want to connect to a company, they want to connect to a real person at the company who has some level of power to listen to what they say and to take action or at least interact. There’s an accountability issue that starts to rear its head. If someone from the company takes ownership of the Twitter interactions, then they might be put on the spot at some point and have to face what consumers have to say. It’s a lot easier to be anonymous than to show your face. I like to know who I’m talking to.

Another thing that a lot of companies don’t seem to get about Twitter is that no one wants to only read tweets or look at links to the company’s website or pictures of their products. Sure promote yourself now and then, but Twitter isn’t primarily an advertising venue, it’s a social media venue. Have a conversation. Interact. Promote here and there, but get to know your consumers. Give them a reason to follow you besides listening to you tweet on and on about your brand name and how great your products or services are. Let them know who you are and that actual humans who are not afraid to show their human faces are on Twitter ready and waiting to connect, listen and chat, and if need be, face the music if something negative comes up. If you are wearing a corporate gorilla suit, it’s time to take it off and show us who you really are.

Image courtesy of www.gorillasuits.com

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Are You Walking or Crossing the Personal Line on Your Blog?

lineinthesandThere are a lot of people talking online these days about the importance of injecting personal information into your blog. Although I completely agree that you have to show who you are as a person to your readership in order make a connection and create loyal readers, I think the level of personal exposure completely depends on the type of blog you have and where you draw your line personally.

If it’s a business related blog and it’s connected to a business of providing professional services or products, then I think there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Your business blog should offer your personality through occasional anecdotes and snippets of personal experiences as they are relevant to your viewpoint. On the other hand, if it’s a blog about a personal journey as a parent, cancer survivor, traveler or any other “journal” type blog, then revealing more intimate information would be appropriate and relevant.

In both cases it’s important to establish boundaries that are right for you. It’s also important to remember that anyone with a computer has the potential to read what you write, which on one level is an exciting thought and on another is kind of a creepy thought. I think some people tend to reveal a bit too much information, almost forgetting that, although they may have a core group of readers that may “know” them, they are also revealing themselves to the entire blogosphere, including the good, the bad, and the creepy. We all know this to be true, but sometimes tend to forget while we are interacting with our circle of blogging friends. You wouldn’t hang your underwear out to dry on the sidewalk in front of your house or set up a speaker system so everyone in the neighborhood can hear the personal discussions you have inside your own home. The same should be true of your blog.

On the other side, a blog is not a white paper. Factual information is a good thing on a business related blog, but the person behind the blog needs to be revealed at least to some extent. Readers want to know that there is a real person behind a words, not just a machine or committee producing a factual, well researched report or crafted corporate speak. I think it’s important to know the difference between walking the line and crossing the line and being able find that magic spot that works for you.

On this blog, I do reveal things about my life to my readers, but only when it’s relevant to what I am writing about. I think most of my regular readers know about my right brain tendencies and my creative entrepreneurial approach to looking at things. They know that I am married to a designer and know we have an 11-year-old son. They know that I go to the flea market on Sundays looking for cool old stuff. They know that I used to watch the Jetsons when I was a kid and that I’m a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. But more importantly, I think they get to know me through my perspective on the various topics I write about. Your personal qualities should show through when you write, even some of your more imperfect human ones. Being a human is a good thing.

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