Second Question: “How do you want it cooked?”

Eggs Before CookingThe server comes to our table and asks my breakfast companion what he would like.

“Two Eggs, please,” he said.

Guess the next question. If the question doesn’t get asked, what will the resulting breakfast be? Even though there’s over a dozen ways to cook eggs, we know what success will look like and taste like before we crack shells.

Shouldn’t it be similar with social media?

“I’ll have a Facebook with a side of Pinterest,” he thinks.

There’s probably over a dozen ways to use Facebook and Pinterest together. What will success look like?

If you’re still looking at the social media menu not quite knowing what success will look like for you, an in-depth discovery session with a follow-up reports may be just what you need. Find out more about our Craft-and-Follow strategy calls.

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Preparing for Social Media: For Times When There is No Time

Voice RecorderYou will find there are times when there is no time for social media.

Let’s hope so.  Hopefully, you’re busy on your core business: project work, client meetings, billing & invoicing, display merchandising, inventory – all that other stuff that is part of doing business successfully.

I have one of those days today. Thankfully, with careful planning and preparation, I’ll get the things which need to be done – done. And I prepare for the social media stuff too.

  • Using my RSS reader and Twitter list, I’ve scheduled a few tweets. I didn’t find a lot (I don’t just tweet anything), but enough to feed the stream.
  • I copy-edited some client work and put the posts in scheduled mode so their posts go out in time.
  • I’ll be behind a steering wheel driving country roads for 5 hours today (2.5 each way), but I’ve brought one of my favorite tools with me – an Olympus voice recorder (non-affiliate product search).

I often listen to audio books when I drive,but when a thought or blog post starts to bubble up, I turn off the book and turn on the recorder.  I don’t know about you, but I can talk faster than I can type – so I can get a lot of words down this way. Plus, I use transcription software when I get back to a computer to put the speech-to-text.

When you find yourself in a position where the social media is a hardship, how do you make it easy (because it still needs to be done). How do you prepare for social media?

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Find Flickr Photos Faster with PhotoPin

This piece originally appeared on Dialing8

Photo Pin has become a favorite tool and shortcut. It’s a time saver and really an assistant to finding and posting images to your blog posts.

It’s a search engine for Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr.  It seems to be a quicker search and the choices are plentiful as to how you want to filter the license or search. You can also find a “top-tier” of relevant stock images for purchase if those catch your eye.

When searching for an image, the default filter seems to be “Interestingness” and “Non-Commercial” – and I suggest you change those to “Relevance” and “Commercial” (you’ll find these choices on the left once you begin searching).

Once you find an image on Photo Pin click on “get photo” – and then you can download the image, grab the proper attribution code, and even “fave” the image on Flickr to “keep found things found.”

We searched the term “learning” to find the results shown above. Let’s look closer at the image details.

You have four sections and an additional step we’ll take on your blog post (uploading the image to your site).

1. Download the Photo

2. Upload Your Image

The best placement for your image is on the right. However in most cases, you should place your cursor at the beginning of a paragraph and then call for the image to be right justified from within your blog editor. (Here’s a video on how to properly upload an image on WordPress)

3. Grab the Attribution Code

Copy the HTML code so you can give proper attribution on your blog post.

4. Paste code onto your post

Paste the code near the bottom of your post by going to the HTML editor. You can see the end result at the bottom of this post.

That’s it. Make sure to save Photo Pin in your bookmark toolbar (How-to: Firefox | Chrome).

photo credit: Rusty Stewart via photopin cc

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One Pebble at a Time

“He who would leap high – must take a long run.” ~ Danish Proverb

Long Climb, High LeapWe live in an instant gratification, microwave success formula time. So many want the success without doing the work it takes to gain success.

Focused, Frequent, Consistent. These words strengthen your run towards taking the leap to your level next.

If you’re looking for that magic shortcut to the mountain top – you’ll save time and energy by climbing pebble after pebble.

Creating and Combining Content Components [Breakfast]

As I was preparing breakfast the other day, I noticed how I gather the parts before making the whole.

At our house, there are some staples we have with almost every meal (if the foods combine well): Spinach, Green Onions, Black Olives, Tomatoes, Brown Rice. We might prepare or present them in different ways, but they’re part of most every meal.

For a recent breakfast, I brought out a few additional vegetables and sauteed them under some eggs and scrambled them together. We put that over the rice and – delicious!

Content Components (Breakfast)

The image on the left shows the parts gathered (Content Components). The image on the right shows how the parts came together (Content Completed).

It gets me thinking how we might put together other content, such as blog posts, videos, and speaking gigs. How important is gathering the components before combining them into a completed work? Do you storyboard or outline as an initial step? Do you gather outbound links and images (or at least have them in mind) before your fingers hit the keyboard?

Note: As I was writing this post, I realized how my thinking was ignited by Content Modelling: A Master Skill on A List Apart.


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Eventually, the Internet Will Discover You

Keep creating awesome stuff. Eventually, the Internet will discover you.

Nosebleed Seats at AT&T from Trey Ratcliff

Photo by Trey Ratcliff

The photo above is from high-up and behind home plate of a recent San Francisco Giants game is shared by Trey Ratcliff. It’s part of Trey Ratcliff’s practice of sharing one of his photos daily.

The idea above is shared in a right brain drift that Trey Ratcliff talks about in a talk at Google last year. Trey shares a lot of his work. The way he shares is foreign to a lot of folks, especially those over 5 years old.

One of my favorite posts from Trey is his Hans Zimmer post. He takes us into Zimmer’s studio with shared awe and wonder. I’m a big fan of Zimmer’s work on films like Gladiator, The Holiday, and Pirates of the Caribbean (especially this piece with Rodrigo y Gabriela).

In his Google Talk (video below), Trey offers quite a few tidbits to taste and turn into practice for your own work:

  • Stop trying to impress people in your “bubble” (or industry, profession, peer group).
  • Things (on the web) are just getting started
  • The 5-year old inside of us likes to share
  • Creative Commons is a godsend
  • Keep Making Mistakes
  • People search on Google because “they want something”
So often we try to keep our work so close to the vest, not wanting to share it afraid it might get “stolen” – we end up squeezing life out of our ideas and promise out of our potential. At the 22-minute mark, Trey share a few ideas on vulnerability that I encourage you to wrestle with:

I’ve seen restaurateurs seemingly dance across their work space and lawyers preparing a brief as if they were composing a symphony. We’re all artists. You’re an artist (if you love what you do).

Extend Your Work

StrongEnd Videos: Search, Small Business, Schooling, Stats, & Sounds

Friday afternoons are often a bit more relaxed, but relaxed doesn’t mean lazy. The Strong-End Summits (videos that will keep brains and hearts afire) are a way to end our week strong and come back refreshed.

Google’s Matt Cutts answers a deep question about How Google Search Works

Becky McCray discusses Small Town Rule # 4: Anywhere, Anywhen

A new site, TED-Ed, has tremendous potential for education on both sides of the room

Jon Loomer shows us how to use Facebook Insights to determine day, time, and types of content to post

The Piano Guys share a rendition of Bourne/Vivaldi (always great writing music)

Here’s to the start of a strong weekend

Grappling with Google Plus

Grappling with Google Plus?The grappling I’m doing is internal and has less to do with Google Plus and more to do with my own work habits and schedule.

Google Plus gives us an outstanding set of tools – and they continue to add new tools and improve what’s already there..  I’ve been using Hangouts as a forum for meetings (individual and group sessions) – and that’s been fantastic.

The quandary for me is how and what (and when) I should post. Others I work with share similar battle stories. I pulled back for a bit to watch, and learn, and consider.

I’m not real keen to just share a resource with a two-word reason (“Catch this” or “So True”). That’s for Twitter, right?  I also don’t want to always be promoting my own stuff all the time (70-20-10).

Maybe this formula will work when sharing items on Google Plus:

My Version of the Title (in Bold)

A take-away or money quote from what I’m sharing (in Italics)

A few sentences about the piece, the author, or subject. Less than 100 words;
More than two words.

“Why This is Important (or Valuable) to _____________” (in Italics)
A sentence or two.

#hashtag or +attribution or +hat tip

And a link to the resource (article, image, video, etc).

While in some ways I’m glad Google Plus doesn’t allow for scheduling of posts, in other ways I wish they would so I could compose and schedule for later. With that in mind, I can still schedule time to compose most of the post and then format and add links when I can publish it live.

I think part of the reason many are using Google Plus like they use Twitter or Facebook – is that’s what they’re used to doing. And then the question becomes “Why?” do the same thing in different places.  Google Plus is different (and better in many ways) than Twitter and Facebook. I also think Twitter and Facebook are very different and should be used differently.

We’ll see how this goes, my new Google Plus posting process. I believe it will add value to those who read and I know it will be valuable to me in articulating thoughts about certain things.

Hey, grappling is good. Grappling knocks at the door of breakthrough.

How do you Google Plus?


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Key Activity: Blog Posting Workflow

Writing a Blog PostBanging out a blog post in a single sitting is a great feeling. Especially if it’s one of those 20-minute spills that seems to write itself.

My goal is to publish one post each day. My personal policy is to write at least 45 minutes each day (specifically for my blog) . Sometimes I can complete a post; Other times I start a post and keep it in draft status.

Since I’m an early riser, there’s not much to interrupt flow first thing in the morning, so …

4:45 am – I’m looking to complete a half-blog post that’s sitting in draft status. Yet if I awake with something specific in my head I’ll get that down. I can often compose a post, find a link and an image, and schedule promos for the post in a half hour or so. Time elapsed: 30 minutes

Idea Capturing – I’ve used various note taking devices (a pocket-sized notepad, index cards, post-its) to capture notes, ideas, headline ideas. I’ve settled on using Evernote because it synchs to any device I have at my fingertips. Time elapsed: never more than 5 minutes at once (and that’s probably two too many)

Good Night – Before turning off for the day, I will compose an outline of a post or some ideas so I something fresh in the morning. At this writing, I have about a dozen posts in draft or scheduled status. Time elapsed: 15 minutes

Images: If I get to an appointment early, I’ll cruise through Flickr or other image libraries and star or favorite good images for future use. This saves me time in the future, and allows me to still give proper attribution if I decide to use an image. Time elapsed: varies – I only do this when on hold for a phone or meeting.

Like any other exercise – the more you do it, the quicker and stronger you become. Invest an hour (in parts) crafting blog posts in the average day and you’ll be ahead of your goals quickly.

Stakeholder Matrix: The Best Way to Prevent a Social Media Crisis [Guest]

by Katleen Richardson

Frustration in CrisisReputation management is one of the trickiest aspects to spreading your message, especially in this age of social media where what you say is instantly broadcast to thousands (if not millions) of people.

We live in a world where news (or other gossip passing as news!) can spread within a blink of an eye – take the earthquake on the east coast last year. A tweet from DC reported the quake before it even reached NYC!

The challenge nowadays is to be proactive when making strategy decisions involving social media. This requires that companies and individuals practice due diligence when it comes to predicting how people will react to the things they say and do.  Too may people focus their reputation management on damage control when the damage has already happened.

We need to shift our focus to preventing damage, followed by remediation strategies in case it does happen. The best way to put a practice of prevention/remediation into place is with a stakeholder matrix.

Let’s take, for example, the launch of a new product within your company. There are many stakeholder groups that might have an opinion about this, including customers, the press, environmental protection groups, consumer safety groups, and, if applicable, your shareholders. What possible issues could any of these groups have with your product launch? Make a matrix where you map each stakeholder group against the possible risk factors. This can help you see more clearly what the potential ramifications of a decision are.

It’s important to remember that while social media is a powerful tool for marketing, people also use social media to express displeasure and to band together against things they disagree with. In the long run, it is much easier to prevent a crisis than to have to leap in with damage control measures after the fact, and sometimes damage control is a “too little, too late” situation.

That’s not to say, of course, that you should never take a risk of causing a stir. Obviously with any decision you make, there are likely to be at least some people who don’t like it. The point of the stakeholder matrix is not to eradicate conflict entirely – that would pretty much be impossible. The goal, rather, is to measure the potential benefits of a decision against the potential pitfalls, and make informed decisions based on a thorough analysis of possible outcomes.

In addition, you can use a stakeholder matrix to help you decide how you will deal with any social media issues that crop up. What if if you’ve decided to go forward with a decision that you know will make a particular group unhappy? You can be prepared ahead of time to remedy the situation, instead of being taken by surprise, and that puts you in the strongest possible position.

Katleen Richardson of Marketing AdvantEdge is an experienced leader who builds integrated strategies combining research, data analysis and creative thinking. She has delivered successful solutions for the publishing, financial and telecommunications industries, as well as for conference and training companies, and professional associations. Her approach is to design customer focused, cost-effective solutions based on cross functional collaboration and results-based metrics.

Photo on Flickr by zachklein

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