Having a Presence: Between Always On and Always Off

Have a Presence at the PartyA pastor I used to know would visit as many business functions as he could during the week. He wouldn’t stay long in any single place, he simply made an appearance for a short time to “have a presence” and engage in a few small talks.

Of course, there was the occasion where he would be speaking or called on to say something – he’d stay longer for such times as those. And there was one “lunch” club he would attend the full hour no matter what.

He told me it was like planting seeds. Go in, say hello to a few familiar faces and introductions to a few strangers, ask a question, listen with a smile – and leave.

“Having a presence is better than being there all the time for the whole time – and it’s also better than never being there at all.”

We can do the same with social media. As a business owner, your day is plenty full, yet a post here and a status update there will go a long way to building an inventory.

You may want to focus on one or two social platforms as a cornerstone (much like this pastor did with his “lunch” club), and then short, occasional posts or engagements elsewhere.

I’m not suggesting an “active” presence everywhere (that would be omnipresence), but an “apparent” presence. And you don’t need to spend hours on a network… do like my pastor friend – simply make an appearance.

It’s better than never being there at all.

 

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Strategy or Tactic: Grocery Store Shopping

Is Buying Food a Strategy or Tactic?You’ve probably heard the unending amount of advice from so-called experts and gurus:

   “Never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.”

    “Go to the freezer section last.”

    “No matter what, get in the line with the least number of people.”

Can you have a grocery store strategy? Or is it simply a tactic for eating?

Can it be both? Can buying food be a tactic for a larger eating blueprint and still have its own plan?

Like most things, your grocery shopping plan is unique to you. Sure, some elements for success are common among the most prolific of food buyers, but they might not have the same eating styles. Or the number of mouths to feed. Or maybe they have more time to cook.

Whether a strategy or tactic, going to the grocer without a plan may cost you time and money (and calories!)

It’s similar in that way to social media. While “social media” may be more tactic than strategy in the larger picture, it is wise to have a strategy for your social media activity. Have a plan.

Whether a strategy or tactic, engagement on social media without a plan may cost you time and money (and customers!)

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Live Sessions: A 12-Pack of Social Media Coaching

There are three ways to have me start working with you or on your project. RetainerDiscovery, and Live Sessions 

Live Sessions Social Media CoachingLive Sessions: A 12-Pack of Social Media Coaching

Live Sessions is a bit different than the Retainer Model or Discovery Meeting in how we create a specific and targeted lesson plan designed for you. Each lesson is a 30-minute mini-workshop conducted via Skype or a Google+ Hangout.

Here’s how the 12-pack comes together: You choose from 10 sessions from a list of mini-lessons, then I add two based on what I think you need to work on. You get the recorded version of the lesson, along with a cheat sheet covering the tool we focused on.

The subject matter of these mini-lessons vary from learning to publish and image to a blog post, to editing video using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.

Some of the most popular mini-lessons include answers to these questions:

  • How to create a hyperlink so it’s part of the text and not the actual address?
  • How to create Tweets that get ReTweeted?
  • How do I get my RSS feed items to style like my blog post?
  • Who should I follow/retweet/pin/friend/circle? Why?
  • What is the quickest way to find a good image?
  • How do I get more readers?
  • Where do I get ideas for new blog posts?
  • How do I generate income from (insert social media tool)?

You can customize your 12-pack of Live Sessions in any manner. Preferably, we schedule in advance over a 8-10 week span, though we leave room for some scheduling flexibility.

Call me (515.802.2273) or email me (mike@converstations.com) and we’ll put together your 12-pack of Live Sessions.

Social Media Strategy: Dive In or Seek Help?

Both.

Building Social Media MusclesSome say to just dive in and start using social media. Some say to have a “strategy” before you get started. And as with most things, the best answer is: It Depends.

It depends on you and:

  • What are your goals?
  • How comfortable are you with the Internet (and a computer)?
  • Who is your intended audience (and what’s important to them)?
  • When will you work on social media matters? How much time will you invest?
  • Why are you going to start using social media for your business?

The great thing is, you don’t “have to” answer these questions before getting started.  I’m all for diving in for two weeks or so. Shortly after that, you should develop a plan.

I once approached a golf coach for lessons.  I wanted to play golf better. I’d been out on a course a few times…but when I was a teen, not as an adult. Growing up in Pebble Beach, we would often sneak on for a few holes near dusk – but rarely a full 18 holes – and many times just a few irons at Peter Hay.

When the golf coach found that I hadn’t played a full course in a dozen years, he told me to go play a few rounds and then come back. Maybe then we could get started.

I didn’t end up getting the coaching, but not because I didn’t need it – I found that golf wasn’t my game (time, expense, a wicked slice – but mostly time). I went back to him to ask why he told me to “dive in” first.

It was a litmus test, wasn’t it? Yes. He said both of us needed to find out:

  • my motivation (the why),
  • my coachability (would I follow his instruction),
  • who I was doing it for (for me or my peers)

But he also said something that has stuck with me …

Developing bad muscle memory and making mistakes motivates learning good muscle memory and successful habits.

So when it comes to “diving in” with social media – I believe you can do it. And I encourage you to give it a go. If you have an idea of the Who, What, and Why – you’ll do fantastic. Build your Social Media muscles (good or bad).

Either way, eventually … you will want to develop a social media strategy or plan. Look, you don’t go on a trip without having a plan of where and when we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

If you get motivated by your experience of “diving in” to seek some tips – there are plenty of blogs and books and Twitter chats — and if its right for you, some great social media coaches out there.

Or you could work with me. Have you done your two weeks yet?

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A Discovery Meeting: Craft and Follow

There are three ways to have me start working with you on your project. RetainerDiscovery, and Live Sessions 

Craft and Follow Discovery MeetingA Discovery Meeting: Craft and Follow

A strategy session, with questions, answers, and ideas to help design your social media strategy.

This idea session is often a two-hour face-to-face conversation (though some have been shorter, some longer).  Except for the ocassions when we can meet at a Panera,  the best way to do this is either via Google+ Hangouts or Skype because we can share screens and documents.

  • We sketch out where your business is, where you want it to go,
  • We discover in detail who your intended audience is: what they’re about, what they’re looking for, and where they commune online.
  • We consider how much time you’ll be able to invest in social business & content marketing, how you’ll track progress, and how you’ll measure success,
  •  We’ll find online examples of how others are doing things online.

And then, within 3-6 days after our initial session, you receive a detailed report with a suggested social plan, including editorial output, tools to put to use, and people or brands to connect with consistently.

The discovery meeting is crucial to the crafting of a social media strategy for your business. Because every industry, every business, every person – and even the goal – is different, there are no cookie-cutter solutions.

Call me (515.802.2273) or email me (mike@converstations.com) and we’ll find a tie to set up our discovery meeting.

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A Retainer Model: Beck and Call

Beck and Call - Retainer Agreement

There are three ways to have me start working with you on your project. Retainer, Discovery, and Live Sessions

A Retainer Model: Beck and Call

The beauty of a retainer agreement for you comes down to this word – Priority.

Anyone on a retainer agreement gets immediate attention as best as humanly possible. If your request comes in while I’m driving somewhere, I find a parking lot or a coffee shop and attend to your request.

How do retainer-based agreements work?

We agree on the type of work, coaching, reporting, and output to be done and an anticipated amount of hours of work in a month. For flexibility sake, I often add a few hours so neither our conversations or work gets rushed.

Outsourcing social media on a retainer agreement may include:

  • Weekly Reporting on traffic data, trends, and possible adjustments to make
  • Simple site enhancements, including some design or code work
  • Suggestions of people to connect with, content to consider sharing, or brands to promote
  • Guest posting or Ghost posting (Blog, Twitter, Facebook) when feasible and appropriate
  • Suggestions on additional revenue streams, join venture possibilities, or advertising opportunities

If an occasion calls for it, I might also create artwork, set-up RSS feed aggregators, work up a slideshow, initiate Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ pages and in rare cases, edit videos or help design the flow/structure of books.

If I’m at your “Beck and Call” – I do whatever it takes, as soon as I can.

Every case, every path, every situation is different. So is the pricing.

Call me (515.802.2273) or email me (mike@converstations.com) and we’ll discover what’s best for you.

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Hello Ball – Addressing Social Media Engagment

A lot of folks might approach “social media engagement” like these fellas did with golf:

We just need to put our fingers gently on the keyboard, and address the world, “Hello, world!”

Umh … no.

Observation with intent to engage begins with watching, listening, learning. This type of approach requires an open mind. A willingness to learn.

Intent to Engage. Open Mind. Willing to Learn.

And awareness of what resonates – with you and with others. How might certain conversations fit with your business (and with your time schedule)? What level of engagement are you able to sustain?

Sometimes, engagement may simply be listening and responding to others. At other times, engagement may be you igniting the conversation eliciting responses from others (and you in kind when appropriate). Just as every EPIC journey has its own unique puzzle, engagement levels may vary between companies – and sometimes between platforms used within a company.

Knowing your mission (strategy), before using the tools and powers (tactics) is key in determining what, where, and the depth of your engagement level. In this way, when you say, “Hello, world” – you’ll know what to say next when someone says “Hi” back.

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In the Heart or In the Hand – What Comes First in EPIC Stories?

Frodo Baggins had his glowing sword and his healing elixir.

Harry Potter had his wand and his Invisibility Cloak.

Hiro Nakamura had a “power” of being the master of time and space.

Their stories paint them as heroes and while their stories are epic, isn’t it more what resides within them than the tools they held that made them heroic, that made their stories epic?

Pieces of EPIC social media storesThe social media  tools available to you can help you craft your own epic. Knowing your mission (strategy), and smart use of the tools and powers (tactics), your business can explore and expand, bringing new relationships and revenues.

Here’s one way to look at EPIC on your hero’s journey with social media:

Engagement: Social media isn’t about standing on a soapbox and preaching your own gospel. Engagement in social media is a give and receive. Engagement by its definition is participation.

Presence: Having a presence where your customers and prospects are engaging online is important. If you aren’t and they are (your customers, your competition), your story is going to end prematurely.

Inventory: Every post, tweet, status update, and pin becomes part of your online inventory – and maybe even part of a printed work at some point. Consistently posting valuable, relevant content keeps you on a hero’s path.

Commerce: Cutting to the quick, if you’re in business this piece is important. All your work in social media – building relationships, becoming more findable on the web, creating and curating content – all should lead to revenue generation.

Once you master each of these pieces of the social media puzzle, as it all comes together, it becomes a simultaneous action on your path. Just remember, as our friend Po in Kung Fu Panda learned on his journey – there is no secret ingredient.

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Be the Real You

Who is Your Hero?

Click through to see the video on Wing Clips

You can use social media tools to help create an EPIC story. For you, your business … whatever seems to be your mission. If you’re not able to put your finger on whatever that mission is yet, you can practice putting it together through social media. After all, you don’t really know what you know … until you articulate it.

To find your social media hero, simply look into the mirror. Most of the social media stuff are simply tools on your super hero utility belt.

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Lucrative Altruism: Local Customers Seek Local Business

Mike’s Note: I’m exited to implement and share with clients the powerful resource that is nSphere‘s local search widget. I’ve started using it on my site (see below each post) and have begun coaching others the widget can benefit their customers and bring in new customers.

Guest Post by Navah Fuchs of nSphere

If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized. ~Oscar Wilde

Local Cats Search for Local BusinessMr. Wilde, sardonic wit that he is, touched upon a communication opportunity that rings true to this day. We are a culture of communicators and consumers, but there is often a disconnect between the messenger, message, and the intended recipient. This is particularly true in the world of local businesses and their intended audiences.

In the past, a business would pay an arm and a leg to be listed in yellow pages, the newspaper, or some other wide reaching small return medium. Sure there were some results, but because targeting was in its infancy, businesses large and small would spend big bucks on CPM (cost per mille) advertising, a full page in a local newspaper, or throw money at penny ads on parked domains. After all, so long as you put your message out there and have an advertising budget to clobber the competition with you’ll win the largest market share….

 WRONG.

Turns out, most folks don’t care how cool your new product is, because they’re not in a transactional mindset. There are two types of users in the internet consumer market: education seekers and local search users. There’s many more educational users out there (think people looking up cute pictures of kittens rather than someone looking for a vet to help them with their emergency at 11 PM), but every educational user has a corresponding local need. As a local business, it’s vital to get in front of the local search user, but as a publisher of educational content, you cease being relevant to the user once they’ve switched into the transactional mindset (often due to your awesome advice).

 How do you take care of your users without diluting message/budget? 

There’s a couple solutions out there for local businesses to get in front of local audiences. One such solution is the nSphere local platform, which uses a unique algorithm to map local businesses along with corresponding pieces of local information and contextual content in one spot so your new client can have everything at their fingertips to make an informed decision to contact you. You may also want to join an association or distribution network that focuses specifically on your industry.

For the publishers, partnering with a solution like nSphere’s local search widget will allow you keep users who would otherwise bounce to Google, while connecting your business to publications like Kiplinger.com, HealthCommunities.com, and CarandDriver.com.

With solutions like this, maybe we can finally start communicating effectively.

Photo found on MyFunnyPics.org

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