Whistle Stops 11/21/10

Whistlestops_39_3 Whistle Stops are conversations, eye-openers, or tools representing the brain train discovered while traveling along the Conversphere.  From business to education, life hacks to giving back, these are the posts and links that have in some way grabbed my attention this week!


Here at ConverStations (in case you missed it)

From my Twitter Thoughts:

  • Avoid the Noise – Instead of immediate RT, fave it, review it, share it later. New audience at diff time of day. All win
  • In addition to your FAQ, consider adding a WTA (Wish They’d Ask) – sometimes they don’t know what to ask – answer that!
  • I’ve been in Oregon a week. Met lots of gr8 folks so far. Still, missing all the Iowa folks. They’ve all made me smarter (yes, all of ‘em)
  • In addition to your FAQ, consider adding a WTA (Wish They’d Ask) – sometimes they don’t know what to ask – answer that!

Happy travels:-)


MinutesPlease: Social Media is No Longer a Time Suck

One of the biggest challenges business bloggers and educators face is time.

When we get "sucked in" to all the blogging and twittering and facebooking…well, we often end up blaming the tools. We have businesses to run or papers to look over, we can't spend 4 hours on social media — and I agree.

While part of what I do is to get folks excited about using social media, another part of my work is reeling them back offline. An hour or two each day is all you need.

Don't blame social media for the time trap anymore, because there's also a tool to help you discipline your time.

MinutesPlease will help you discipline your time.


Just type in the site (even reader.google.com) and the number of minutes you want to invest.

The social media site will open in a new tab, and the countdown will appear in the original tab, like so:

When time's up – time is up! When you're down to seconds, the clock starts to blink. Then it closes the window…and you're done.

I love MinutesPlease as an assistant coach. It works – and it allows you to get back to work. So no more excuses about social media being a "time suck," hmm?

Let MinutesPlease help build your discipline.

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If I Were a Fishing Bait & Tackle Shop: A Social Media Perhapstory

3038983435_729919163b_m If I were a Bait and Tackle shop, here are some of the ways I’d consider using social media to enhance my business:

As always, I’d first consider what my purpose and success measurement is, so that I can practice accordingly.

Blog: I’d have lots of pictures and videos. Filled with how-to fly and tie and tips or reviews of great spots to go fishing. I’d also spotlight customers and great big fish stories from others. Spotlight “them” more than “me”

Video: Lots and lots of 2-3 minute how-to videos. Baiting and tying and cleaning and … Upload them to YouTube and place on my blogsite. I’d also find videos of others to favorite and share on your YouTube Channel.

Twitter: Following the 70-20-10 guideline, let’s share resources and works from other fishing pros and enthusiasts. If there is no hashtag (a what?) or tweetchat (a who?) already out there, I’d start one. I’d also consider “tweeting” various conditions and weather for the fishing spots around my target market(s).

Flickr: One way to use Flickr is to have a photo contest with followers using a “hashtag” as a label. One caution I’d think about is the workload of a photo contest (often heavy). Other than that, I would take lots of pics for the “instructables” – and hey, great idea – create step-by-step entries on Instructables for showing the how-to stuff.

Foursquare: Celebrate folks checking in and giving tips at great fishing spots. Anyone been to LostCreek Lake lately?

Fringe topics: Who else supplies my customers? Think clothing. Magazines and other publications. Boating equipment. Television shows. Cleaning and cooking the catch. Sustainability. All stuff you can share to serve your customer. 

What else should we do? If we were a fishing bait and tackle shop, that is…

Photo on Flickr by kasperbs

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Taste on a Toothpick

TasteToothpick Food courts all over the globe have vendors standing in front of their ordering station offering passersby a "taste on a toothpick" allowing prospects to sample the food. This tactic both whets their appetite and provides a glimpse of what's to come if we purchase.

  • It's never the full sandwich – just a taste.
  • It's never a brochure or a pamphlet on the company history – it's a bite off the menu.
  • It's not about the company – it's about the customer.

Your blog posts and videos are like a "taste on a toothpick." Bite-sized morsels, a taste of what could be, for the reader. They may not hire you right away, but hopefully they remember the taste you gifted them.

Next time you're in a food court, it might be interesting to watch how many folks take the pick, then pivot and return to order something.

Want a different model of the free sampling? The Free Kindle book previews follow this line of thinking, now?


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Favstar.fm – Know When Your Tweets are Favorited & RT’d

In addition to the previous Search Once and Subscribe: Making Meaning of RSS, there is a cool tool to use so you'll know who and when one of your tweets gets Favorited or ReTweeted. 

The tool is Favstar.fm and it's a multi-purpose cool! You can find new Twitter connections, follow hot topics (by number of stars and shares), and you can search once and subscribe to the activity on your own tweets.

Below is a video tutorial on how to best use Favstar, and note that to subscribe to your activity, the "recent" tab on your favstar account has the RSS feed you seek (how do I subscribe to a search feed?).


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Search Once and Subscribe – Making Meaning of RSS

 One of the first mantras I teach business leaders and educators is "Search Once and Subscribe."

By tapping into the power of RSS, we can gain more knowledge in less time. I like that, don't you?  More Knowledge. Less Time. A powerful combination to win the battle of Infosumption (Information Consumption).

The beauty of Search Once and Subscribe, is we don't need to know all the techy parts of RSS. Really, we're just making it mean a Relevant Signal Stream for our own needs.

Search Once and SubscribeBy using the mantra, we can

  • know who's talking about our business
  • see what they are saying
  • find out the buzz in a particular market or product
  • stay on top of news on our clients and prospects
  • research certain key phrases we're studying

Let's take a look at your own business for the example. There's a few searches to do, and then subscribe to the search feed (how do I do that?)

Your Business Name:
Simply type your business name (use quotes to get the exact name – and maybe your city outside of the quotes) into Google and search. Then to the left, you'll find a menu that includes "News" and "Blogs". Click on those and subscribe to the search string (if you're familiar with RSS, the RSS button is at the bottom of the page). Now, if and when someone writes about you, you'll know right away. You searched once – and subscribed.

Your Business Website:
I usually just do a "blog search" for specific links. To do this, I go to Google's Blog Seach (http://blogsearch.google.com). Type in the website address and search. You'll find that Google automatically puts 'link:' in front of the address. So if I was searching on www.ConverStations.com, the search would be link:www.converstations.com. Subscribe to the search and always be in the know when someone links to your site.

Your Website URLs Truncated:
You may have seen truncated URLs such as "bit.ly" or "tinyurl" used on Twitter. There's a great tool to search for times when someone truncates the web address from a page on your site. Backtweets is easy to use (I posted a mini-tutorial on using Backtweets earlier this year).

Keywords and Keyword Phrases: You can do most of these searches with keywords and phrases as well. Again, I'd begin with Google's Blogsearch and Backtweets. I'd also suggest you use personal pronouns (a few examples) within the search string.

More Knowledge + Less Time = Smart Infosumption

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Three Phrase Approach to Meaning Making

The four most prevalant ways people approach their "I don't understand" response to something new:

  • Belittle it
  • Make fun of it
  • Ignore it
  • Learn it

Let's look:

Belittle it – I've seen people get mad at new tools or practices, even judgmental towards the people who've embraced the change:

" I don't see how people can spend time on Twitter talking about nothing." or "Who comes up with these new policies, don't they have anything better to do?"

Make fun of it – Similar to the belittling, but with snarky humor.

Ignore it – … well, a closed-mind travels a flat line. Don't let the door knock you on your apathy.

Learn it – Of course, the latter choice is the one we'd all like our colleagues, clients, and students take. It's about making meaning. The folks in this group are motivated to see how (and if) the new thing can improve their lives somehow.

It's important to recognize how the first two are much closer to learning than the ignorant choice.

I'll often use a three-step phrase in reply to the Belittle/Snark remarks:

  1. That's funny
  2. I used to feel the same way
  3. Then I found out that (name of tool or practice) can help me/my customers (benefit)

Now we're on a road to discovering how the tool/practice might make meaning. There's motivation on part of the learner and the learning.

One of my math teachers (Mr. Hazdovac) used this technique on me after he found out I loved baseball. And as you can see, I learned more than the math.  Thanks Coach!

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A few ConverStations FAQs

Here are a few posts I send via email as answers or reminders:

More questions will develop, I'm sure. The answers?  I Dunno, Let's Find Out

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Quotes n Notes: Beginning

Quotesnotes "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new beginning." – Carl Bard

Begin. Today. From where you are.

There are too many instances where I've seen businesses or business people start a blog, have it wilt by inactivity, and give up permantley.

Though unable to change the past, we can begin anew today as if it's our first day (and it is).

One such instance is my friend, Jade Handy of State of Mind Coaching & Training. For parts of two years, he posted whatever would be less frequent than occasionally. And rather than turn back and start over, he started from where he was — at the moment.

Since then he has built page depth, relationships & readerships, and found new business opportunity since his fresh start.

Having a pause in your blogging or social media isn't cause for a full stop.

Does an airplane turn back to it's orgination point when faced with turbulence? No. The pilot makes a few tweaks and adjustments and onward they fly. A new flight plan – beginning from it's current point.

If you've faced some cause to pause your social media, adjust your plan and go from where you are right now.

Begin. Today. From where you are.


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Whistle Stops 11/14/10 – Southern Oregon Landing

Whistlestops_39_3 Whistle Stops are conversations, eye-openers, or tools representing the brain train discovered while traveling along the Conversphere.  From business to education, life hacks to giving back, these are the posts and links that have in some way grabbed my attention this week!

Having just landed in my new home of Southern Oregon, I did a quick search of a few “conversation stations” on the web. Some good stuff going on here:

  • Standing Stone Brewing Company – Award-winning brew crafted on the premises and calamari worth shouting about. This place might become a favorite night-time work station for me.
  • Boulevard Coffee – Could be my Oregon version of Panera U. Great location, panoramic windows. Lots of room for creative, collaborative conversations.
  • Christine Collier – We’ve not met, but I’ve heard some great things about the So. Oregon Wine Country leading social mediatologist. She started the Southern Oregon Wine Blog. I look forward to seeing if there’s a #CIB type of thing here in Oregon.
  • Midtown Marketing Group – How cool is this?  I loved doing some work with Drew McLellan and his MMG (McLellan Marketing Group) team in Iowa.  There’s a different MMG here in Oregon. Hmm…

Just a peek inside what’s around the (and south of) bend.

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