Category Archives: social media

Faking It: Why Writing in Your Niche is Killing Your Blog

I have too many blogs.  No really, there’s this one, Lurkers Anonymous, Social Marketing for Business (recently updated title that I need to change), my Martindale.com Blog, and I think that’s it.  Still, four blogs.  Four.  And each one kind of talks about stuff the others touch on.

For example, Lurkers is all about how to activate online communities.  Started strong this year and wanted to turn the blog into a book.  Posted consistently through March and then it died.  In starting my new business/project, My Media Labs, I started doing a blog about social media basics, marketing, blah blah blah.  Each of these have something to do with social media, but what I find is the more “professional” or “niche” I try to go, the more antiseptic my posts become, like I have to present these Fisher Pricified posts that potential customers or readers can easily categorize.  “That’s what will help my SEO, site visitors, and sales – being put in nice little boxes.”  It’s killing me.

Where’s the passion?  Where’s the experimentation, the love, and the need to get it out there.  Truth be told, striking that balance between passion and commerce is not an easy trick.  Most of us don’t have it figured out.  If we did, we’d all be doing what we loved and getting paid for it.  So here’s the secret: if you hate what you are doing or feel in your gut there needs to be a change: STOP.

You can hit the reset button.  Posts are looking too vanilla, throw some marsh mello, chocolate cake crunchies, and cake mix in there (mmm … I want ice cream now).  Write something completely off topic and then relate it to your blog theme (posts about how Tonka trucks and playing in sandboxes teach you everything you need to know about product marketing).  Go out there.  Chances are it won’t hurt your SEO to do something different.  Chances are your readers (if you have them) won’t revolt and leave because you did something different.  Who knows, you may even earn a few new readers.

Don’t be afraid to break out of the niche.  The niche will still be there.  You can always go back to writing boring posts again if you want.

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Filed under Commentary and Critiques, social media

3-ways to get started in social media

I speak to a lot of people who are interested in social media.  As this is rapidly just becoming the way we use the Internet getting “into the game” is a lot easier than you think.  For those looking to incorporate social media into their business strategy, here are a few easy to follow steps help you take the plunge (many books have been written on this subject so these quick tips are just the tip of the iceberg – pardon the pun):
  1. Identify your target buyer – create a buyer persona, a biography of the person you want to sell to.  Give them a name and write a few paragraphs about them focusing on (a) the problem they have that needs solving, (b) what would be appealing to this buyer and how we can find them online, and (c) the solution you have for them.  This can be done on paper with pen or Word.  We’ll use this to craft our marketing strategies.
  2. Brainstorm ideas for your blog categories (ex/ body work, medicine, posture, etc.).  These are like chapters of a book and you will usually choose 1 of them to categorize your posts.  Categories are also helpful to navigation and give depth to your blog.
  3. Start drafting your first 10 posts.  It may be helpful to think of them as a theme – so for example, start with the theme of posture.  You can easily come up with 5 posts about posture: (a) importance of posture (worst cast scenario if not fixed, benefits, etc.), (b) how to have good posture, (c) ways of paying attention to your posture (20 minute reminder, etc.), (d) what to do when your posture is terrible (extreme measures), (e) how good posture improves health, work, etc.  This is only an example, but the point is you can think of a single theme that fits in a category, come up with a bunch of posts about that theme, and then just start writing.  The beauty of a blog is you can have these posts as drafts for weeks as you develop others and work through your ideas.

Like I said above, these are three quick and easy strategies that I use whenever starting or rethinking about one of my blogs.  There are much more qualified people than me talking about this stuff at sites like CopyBlogger and ProBlogger (both EXCELLENT resources).

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Filed under social media, Uncategorized

Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Mastering the Art of Social Media Policy

Daniel A. Schwartz, author of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog posted about one of the presentations from Legal Tech back in February 2010.  His post, Social Media Policies and Practices Developing as Companies Begin to Embrace It, gave some details from the panel discussion by the following in-house lawyers: Lesley Rosenthal (Lincoln Center), Ted Banks (former in-house at Kraft), and Mark Bisard (American Express).  Check out Daniels post here.
The panelists basically discussed how social media policy is becoming a more recognized form of policy for a company to have.  Ted Banks spoke up as say that employees can become disheartened and resentful of too restrictive a policy.  I left this comment in response:
I am most in agreement with Ted about social media presenting an opportunity to companies to engage their creative employees and let them flourish.  This requires clear guidelines that are flexible enough to allow for employees to be artists in what they do.
Seth Godin describes this really well in his new book Linchpin (if you haven’t checked it out yet, it is a must read).  His general point is that corporate work trains obedience, being just good enough, and waiting for orders.  To thrive in today’s world we need employees who are artists.  They contribute value, connect to customers in ways that are human, and can make a real impact that propels the company.  These people are linchpins.
Rigid guidelines choke the life out of such employees.  Demanding metrics over artistry mechanizes the processes, makes it sub par, and outsourceable.  It’s why companies like Apple and Google, the leaders in business, thrive and are adored.  Other companies say they want to be like Apple or Google, but this just means they want to be loved while producing mediocre results.
Any social media policy should be a guideline.  Your employees are smart enough to know what they should and shouldn’t do (if not – get new employees).  A good legal department balances the need of the company to have a policy in place they can point to if something goes wrong, with the need for employees to be free enough to create without fear of censorship, backlash, or worse.  It is a risky game, but one with great rewards if done right.

A social media policy is not some revolutionary mysterious thing.  It is a policy.  Likely a policy no one will read anyway.  Where companies experience mastery is when they do things that are risky, things that ordinary policy making would cry “NO! Don’t do that!”

Notice I said risky.  Not stupid.  As a member of the  legal department it is your job to protect the company, but realize that your employees are likely smarter than you think they are.  Also, they are more creative than most of us realize.

If your management creates a linchpin culture where employees take risk, reach for greatness, and share their gifts then your policies at best should be guidelines to help amplify that.  If you have an assembly line amassing Twitter followers than perhaps you want something more rigid that will meet the CYA standard.  All I’m saying is that in a world where everybody is on Facebook, the winners are those who can connect with customers in ways that automation cannot.

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Breaking Into Social Media as a Career: Show Me the Work

The second most frequently asked question when I tell people I work in “social media” is “how can you get a job doing that?”  (the first most asked question is “what is social media”).  Here is the response I gave to such a question in a Linkedin form for community managers today:

I’ve written about how I secured my job in social media/community management, and you can check out the post.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone looking to get into this business is start a blog or it’s equivalent where you talk about social media, technology, and community management.  Even without the experience of working in the field, talk about your involvement in communities, your passion for them, what you like or dislike about them, how you propose to make a difference etc.  This is more powerful than any resume you can draft.  There is a saying in law “res ipsa loquitur” which means “the thing speaks for itself” – when you have a body of content you can point to that showcases your social media skills, this is more powerful than any resume.

I think that last line bears repeating: “when you have a body of content you can point to that showcases your social media skills, this is more powerful than any resume.”  Too often we think the path to where we want to be professionally is a straight line.  It’s not.  That is a lie you learned in school, namely, “the formula.”  The formula says: come to class, study for the test, take the test, get a good grade, move on (rinse, lather, repeat).

Life doesn’t work like this.  My path to where I am today has be circuitous and unpredictable.  Two years ago I never predicted working in social media despite having participated in it for years.  The point is that I got to where I am by doing.  I had been blogging pretty steady since 2005, writing about stuff I loved (video games and law), and positioned myself for opportunities with examples of my work rather than a resume.

One quick story and then out: I am currently looking for a web designer/PHP developer to help launch a new site.  I have posts out on a variety of sites and am getting a ton of responses, but what amazes me is how many of those responses do not include links to samples of work.  I don’t care that you have a resume full of jobs, qualifications, and experience.  Show me the work.  Res ipsa loquitur: the thing speaks for itself.


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Filed under Commentary and Critiques, social media

How to Crush It Like Gary Vee: Passion in a Bottle

Check out one of my heroes, Gary Vaynerchuk.

Not only is he a crazy Jets fan (like me), Gary Vaynerchuk made $60 million dollars in sales last year from his video website http://winelibrarytv.com.  His show is all about wine tasting, but Gary makes the subject fun to watch even if you don’t care about wine.  He’s appeared on lots of TV shows, and even had Conan O’Brian eat cigars, dirt, and cherries to develop his pallet before trying a Shiraz.  What makes Gary successful in social media is his passion for what he’s doing.  He brings an energy that is generous to his audience and creates excitement.

Rule #1 – Do what you love

If you can’t talk about what you do with passion and energy you need to find something new to do.  Unless you want to spend the next 30-years of your life working at something hate, why do it?  The recent meltdown of the US economy showed us that no business is “safe.”  As Gary says, “business doesn’t have feelings.”  It won’t care about you losing your job or your industry disappearing (sorry horse and buggy makers).  So if you’re not doing what you love ask yourself, why?

But Mike, if everyone did what they loved who would do the stuff that needs to get done?  The people who felt compelled to do it because they saw the need they could fill.  Perhaps they’re passionate about sanitation or plumbing.  They like seeing how things work.  Look at the variety around you and choose what you love.

Rule #2 – Get started today

So to recap.  The three steps of crushing it like Gary Vee: (1) do what you love, (2) get started today, and (3) share, share, share.  What experience do others have in crushing it?  What are your favorite Gary Vee videos (please share a link)?How

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Law Firm Success in Social Media: Streaming Law Content?

One of my favorite destinations on the web, Real Lawyers Have Blogs, by social media master Kevin O’Keefe, posted about law firms streaming law content onto social media sites.  Check out Kevin’s post, where he takes the position that doing so is awkward and goes against social media etiquette.  In my comment to his post, I take the opposite approach, saying that I think it is perfectly acceptable for law firms to stream law content to social media sites, provided what they are streaming adds value to that target audience.  Different content will have different usefulness in different communities.

Here is my comment:

You definitely get social media Kevin!  I’m not sure I agree with you about there being no value in a law firm distributing content on social media sites.  While the party analogy is a good one to describe etiquette on social sites, generally, it under-describes the use of social media as a communication tool.

For law firms looking to build relationships on social sites like Facebook and Linkedin, sharing generously from the content they offer that can solve a need for a potential client on those sites is the essence of social media.  It is when they pepper these sites with any crap they have lying around that it becomes social spam.  To be successful in this space a law firm needs to know who they are reaching in which area and provide content that can solve a problem for that target client.

For example, streaming a pleading or court filing to a consumer facing Facebook group might not resonate as well as an FAQ or basics of practice area article.  More in depth materials might strike a cord with a group frequented by corporate counsel clients, where you are sharing resources such as forms or memorandums.  It all depends on the context and usefulness to your audience.

The tone in which it is shared can say a lot too.  Are you sharing this content so someone can adapt it for their practice or so a client can ask intelligent questions when they come to you for advice (or not need to come to you at all for a simple matter)?  Are you asking for feedback, trying to start a sharing wave (I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours), or stir up a conversation with something spicy like firm newsletter on a controversial topic?

Social media has no rules.  We are at the beginning of a revolution.  Think of what it would be like to have been around in 1463, just 5-years after Guttenberg invented the printing press as we know it.  At that time, people were just figuring out that printing existed let alone how to use it commercially and socially.  Law firms who jump into the social media game now, define the rules, and lead with useful participation will be in a great position to develop business in the new online world.

As Kevin asked, what do people think of this?  Unique questions to answer here: in what context do you think it best for a law firm to stream content from their site to a place like Facebook?  Should it be on the Law Firm’s group or fan page?  What about to a group about a certain subject matter, such as litigation?

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Filed under Legal, social media

Social Media Success for Small Business

This is a presentation about social media success for small business.  It focuses on three areas (1) brand (2) community, and (3) passion. Focusing on the video Social Media in Plain English by Common Craft, we take the ice cream analogy to the next level and look at the behaviors that work for jumping into the social media game.

The slides are very visual and work best when used with the notes page or my live presentation.  I’m hoping to get audio, at least, up for these in a week or two.   Thanks to everyone who showed up to the presentation today at Nefesh B’Nefesh, and I am so impressed by all of you.  Remember, it is easy to get into social media.  Anyone can do it.  You just need to find your passion, bring that to your business, and get cranking.  Feel free to reach out if you need me.

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