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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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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Fair Use Online and in Discussion Forums

Patrick O’Keefe who writes a fantastic blog at ManagingCommunities.com posted about fair use in forum postings.  This is an interesting topic given the shifting nature of consumer behavior on the web.  We are part of a gimme culture these days, expecting lots for free that folks used to make bundles of money on (news, music, analysis – today we call them “blogs,” etc.).  In Patrick’s article he attempts to provide clear guidelines on fair use, correctly telling members that “fair use is a defense” to claims of infringement by the copyright holder.

I would argue that as much as fair use is a “defense” it has become a culture and guideline.  As I say in my comment to his blog post (reprinted entirely below – it’s my work so fair use doesn’t apply!), even the courts have been fuzzy on fair use.  How much is too much?  We’ve heard standards like don’t take “the heart of the work,” 150 words or less, and no more than 10% of the work.  What my comment speaks to is how we are becoming used to more use as a digital culture and that this might not be fair to traditional copyright ownership.

Okay – comment number 2 for your blog today Patrick and then I have to get back to work (my cousin, Howard Greenstein, recommended your work to me yesterday). You have correctly identified it as a defense to copyright infringement allowing the excerpting of small portions of a work.  Courts have been in the gray area with fair use because the more granular you go the harder it is to carve out.  When you start getting into word counting or fractions of a work it can be a nightmare.

Blogs and social sharing are doing some interesting things to fair use. As tools like “share this,” embedding, and quote posts have become so common place on the web we are seeing a greater flexibility in what may be considered fair use.  For example, on my blog Mintz’s Wordz I do a lot of embedding of YouTube videos (most recently a bunch of Steve Jobs Keynotes).  Now the displaying of these videos on my blog theoretically violates some of the rights of the copyright holder (a copyright or any property right can be compared to “bundle of sticks” – each stick can represent a different right in what we understand to be the bundle called “the copyright”).  But given the embedding features on YouTube, the prevalence with which others embed such videos, and the unlikelihood of anyone following up on such postings – copyright culture is changing.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t enforce fair use policies or that copyright holders should allow everyone to freely take their work (unless that is your thing).  What it means is we need to rethink what it means to permit “fair use” in a viral media landscape.  How much is fair?  Personally, I use a very sophisticated system for determining things like fair use, ethics, etc.  It’s called “the icky factor.”  If it feels icky, you might want to rethink doing it, because in a connected world ickiness gets sniffed out pretty quickly and can frustrate any benefits you may have thought to reap by being icky.

How do you think copyright ownership should change in light of the viral web?  Do we need a more clear standard of fair use or a more flexible one?  How much do you think is fair?

Disclaimer: nothing in here should be construed as legal advice.  Answering my questions in the comments does not create a lawyer/client relationship (hell, I’m not even practicing at the moment!).  Blah, blah, blah ….

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Repurposing Content (actual Wiki article I wrote at work months ago)

Just what does it mean when we say that content is being “repurposed”?

In a nutshell repurposing means taking existing content and using in different ways to reach a wider and more varied audience.  The focus here is trying to get the most mileage out of the content that companies invest in.  Rather than restricting production and distribution to a single product in either print or PDF online, take the whole work or even pieces of it and create an entirely new product to meet a different demand.  XML (Extensible Mark Up Language) plays a large part in the ability to be flexible when these opportunities present themselves.

For example, in a recent author discussion about a forth coming book, which surveys topics in American Law for first year law students, the following repurposing opportunities were identified:

  • Content Feed to Open Web Projects – Using parts of the book to provide content in practice area primers on the New Attorney Hub, a LexisNexis open-web site that caters to the needs of 3Ls and recent graduates.  While there is no revenue attached to such an effort, excerpts can be used to promote the original book, the authors and their projects outside of the Lexis system.  Here, the author gets exposure for their projects, the book gets exposure, and the New Attorney Hub gets content.
  • Introducing the Content in an Online Menu to the International Market – a book like this, which is not your typical case book, could easily be adapted as part of an International menu on Lexis.com b/c attorneys around the world are always looking for comprehensive and condensed overview material on U.S. Law.
  • Creating Forms for Practitioner Use – original commentary or checklists could be extracted into forms that can repackaged to the practitioner market.
  • Podcasts of the Book – in the Millennial generation (today’s average law student) everyone wants to multitask and learn how they want to learn.  Offering a downloadable podcast of the book which could be created easily by the authors with simple and inexpensive tools.  These can even be automated through a service like Odiogo (see my post about this & subscribe to my audiofeed to the right).
  • Contribute to Rule of Law Knowledge Banks – there are many sites devoted to the Rule of Law around the world.  Often attorneys working to establish or defend this cause do not have the funding to access premium information.  Content can be donated to knowledge banks or open web projects like the LexisNexis Rule of Law Resource Center to promote these worthy causes.

The point is this: traditional publishing involves a receipt of content from the author, a period of editing, production of the content into a PDF file, and the publishing of a single book.  When a new edition is needed rinse, lather, repeat …

With new technologies we have an opportunity to stretch the life of the same content across platforms and audiences.  When it comes to repurpose, we are only constrained by imagination and willingness to be think in different boxes. Opportunities like the ones cited above embody the essence of repurpose.  This is not a call for abandoning the current course blindly for wild and unpredictable trends.  It means positioning content development to use current resources in different ways to maximize value, while keeping relevant, profitable, and innovative.

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Present Like Steve Jobs: A Video History of the Master

I am currently reading The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo.  Apple’s founder is a master showman, and according to Gallo we can all learn from his tricks.  What follows are some video examples that illustrate the points Gallo makes so well in his manual for great presenting.  These videos show us that a business presentation is story telling, a tradition that runs deep in the blood of humanity.  We are all capable of it and yet we all resort to bullet points, graphs, and statistics to sell our corporate vision (I say “we” because I am guilty too).

Here’s a presentation by Gallo about his book – buy your copy today!

Introduce a Bad Guy the Hero Can Beat- this is a core concept at the heart of story telling.  Steve Jobs launched Apple as being the good guy who would vanquish IBM, “Big Blue.”  Like Luke v. Darth Vader, David v. Goliath, and Little Mac v. Mike Tyson, making a clear conflict that puts you in the good guy role will help make a compelling presentation.  See how Jobs does it in this 1983 Apple Keynote.

Create “Twitter-like” headlines and build excitement – Gallo talks about the power of a short, quick, and catchy headlines for presentations.  He cites some of Jobs’s most famous, like this one about the Macbook Air: “the world’s thinnest notebook.”  Lose the verbiage, build up to the moment, and deliver.  This next video showing the 2008 unveiling of the Macbook Air does that on so many levels.

Create Holy Sh*t Moments – the mind thrives on excitement.  It focuses our senses, makes the world real to us, and leaves an impression.  This is the stuff people remember.  Every presentation needs a holy sh*t moment, and jobs is great at giving us these.  The next two videos show two of the best he ever gave us.

A computer that talks …

Three products: a wide-screen ipod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and an Internet communicator …

These are just a few of the tips I am learning and trying to incorporate into my own presentations.  A final take away from Gallo and Jobs that I’ll share in this post is that greatness takes perseverance, dedication, and practice.  Trial and error.  Malcolm Gladwell introduces the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers, saying it takes 10,000 hours of practice to perform at the level of a superstar.  The same is true for business presentations and persuasion – to be great we have to put in a lot of time practicing and trying things out.

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