Implications of the new Skype deal. A {growtoon}

How to explain social media to your spouse

I loved Amber Naslund’s recent post about the always-on, world of digital media. As she correctly said, The New World of Work Includes Social Media.

But here’s the problem. That’s easy for ME to say.

It’s easy for Amber to say.

But is it easy for you to explain to your spouse?  How do you explain why you always need to be tethered to the Internet?

Before I get into the heart of the post, you have to promise me something.  Actually, three things:

  1. You are not a workaholic/addictive personality using social media as an excuse to avoid your family. This is not a post about time management. This is a post about sensitively handling a shift in a person’s lifestyle.
  2. You are not playing World of Warcraft or Farmville and explaining it to your spouse as social media research, and
  3. You are responsibly trying to have a balance with family life most of the time.  That’s important.

If you can agree to these things, I think you’re probably just a stressed marketing pro like the rest of us trying to hang on and stay afloat.  If that’s the case, here are some ideas to explain to your spouse why you don’t have a 9-5 job any more.

Prepare martinis. No, that’s really not the first thing to do. The real first step is to “listen.” But if I wrote “listen” you would skip over this paragraph and that would be a big mistake, so I tricked you. I know you, don’t I?

Seriously.  You need to just shut up. Don’t explain anything at first. If your spouse doesn’t understand why you spend so much time on the social web, let them express their feelings and frustrations FIRST. This doesn’t mean be quiet and prepare to speak, this means authentically connect and try to truly understand what is going on. Don’t rule out that they may be right. Maybe you ARE over-doing it. P.S. Don’t skip this step.

Empathize. This would be expressed in words like: “Wow. I can see how much this is impacting you. I would probably feel the same way.” Or, “I had no idea this was having this kind of an affect on you.”  It’s important that you acknowledge the feelings of the other person as being legitimate.

Lead with feelings. Yes guys, that means you too.  How does it make you FEEL to be immersed in social media marketing? Energized? Depressed? Excited? Renewed? Overwhelmed?  Leading with these kind of words will help set the stage so you can have a non-defensive discussion. You can’t really argue with feelings. They just are.

Don’t explain, show. Chances are you’ve tried to explain what is going on before. Doesn’t work, does it?  There is no way people can understand why social media is so time consuming unless they SEE it. Let them into your world.  And before you have your talk, do a little homework. Have this ready:

  1. Something to make an impression that the marketing world is changing relentlessly. The Qualman “shift” video is always good for something like this and I’m sure you can recommend others.
  2. Be able to demonstrate your typical routine on each social platform. Show how it is connected to your work, your income and your future. Explain why there are no shortcuts.
  3. Give examples of how quickly the technology is changing. Don’t make them read. Show graphs and videos where you can make quick, bold impressions demonstrating urgency and change. Mine Mashable for that stuff.

Be honest. Chances are, the time you spend on the social web is not going to lessen. Let’s face it. These productivity tools only pull us into new niches and corners and rabbit holes. The world is getting faster, not slower.

Tune in to priorities. Be prepared to make a concession to important needs. When are the times you absolutely, positively need to put the smartphone down? Dinner? Vacation? Playtime with the kids? Sunday mornings?  Listen intently, respond compassionately, keep your promises.

Follow-up. Check-in every other week or so and see how things are going on this issue. Are you keeping your promises?

OK.  Help fill in the gaps for me.  How are you handling the workload and explaining social media immersion to your family?

P.S. I have an urge to provide a little explanation here. Sometimes when I read “self help” oriented blog posts I think … “who are you to be giving advice?”  For the record, I do have a masters degree in applied behavioral sciences and spent a lot of time with conflict resolution. I don’t write about this stuff too often but I will probably be getting into those areas now and then because it is interesting to me.

The Commoner’s Guide to Using Social Influence

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Love it or hate it, the topic of “who is an influencer” is hot, right now.  There are plenty of tools like Klout and PeerIndex to drive you crazy on this subject, but here is an important thought. How can we use this information to help our businessess?

The idea behind being an “influencer” is that you are at the top of the “Word of Mouth” foodchain. This is important because Word of Mouth can be the most powerful, inexpensive and effective promotion you will ever receive. The big brands are spending mega-bucks on this stuff. What about you and me? The little guys? How do you apply this idea to OUR world and get a piece of the action?  How do you even decide which of these influencers is most valuable to your particular business?

Here’s a framework I developed to help you determine which influencers to target for your commercial activities:

Influencer Categories and Activities

We need a way to categorize influencers. Here’s one take on it:

  • Opinion shaper—Influential in an area because of expertise, and therefore tends to shape people’s opinions with reviews, posts, comments. Think Walt Mossberg
  • Amplifier—Shares information or ideas widely, has broad reach.  Think Guy Kawasaki.
  • Thought leader—Develops new ideas and concepts that are widely recognized and well-regarded. Think Jeremiah Owyang.
  • Conversationalist—Interacts with large numbers of people in one-on-one or small-group conversations, perhaps through a blog or a social network. Think Gini Dietrich.

There could be additional categories. And I’m not saying this is THE categorization for influencers. It’s a proposal. Something to think about.

Next, we need to consider the activities that these influencers participate in. “Influencer” has become synonymous with blogger and social networking. People can be influential through other activities, as well. Here’s a list of the activities I thought of:

  • Creates content—Creates a lot of original text, video, podcasts or other content.
  • Speaker—Attends events and speaks at them.
  • Social networker—Participates regularly and very actively in online communities.
  • Consultant—Consults with businesses and makes recommendations.

Again, there may be others.

Create Profiles for Each Influencer

Now, create a profile for each influencer. Your profile lists the categories the influencer falls into, and the activities the influencer participates in, within each category. Also, do some research to identify the venues for each activity. For example, if the influencer is an Amplifier through Social networking activities, which social networks is he or she active in? Include information about each influencer’s reach, too. Your influencer profile might something like this (Kay is not a real person):

Kay Alexander

Type:

  • Opinion shaper
  • Amplifier

Activities:

  • Content creator
    • Blog (audience: 5,000/month)
    • Books (average sales: 20,000 per year)
  • Speaker
    • Social media conferences (40/year)
    • Content marketing conferences (10/year)
  • Consultant
    • Large organization (Fortune 1000 and up) in B2B (Number of clients: unknown)
  • Social networker
    • Facebook (12,000 fans)
    • Twitter (30,000 fans)

Once you have the profiles, you can start to filter down your list of influencer.

Determine the Types of Influencers that are Most Valuable

Based on your social media goals, you should have a good idea of which influencers are going to be most valuable to you.  For example, if you’re looking for brand awareness, then content sharing and brand mentions might be particularly valuable to you. In that case, you’re probably most interested in the influencer categories of Amplifier, and maybe Conversationalist. If you’re especially interested in brand reputation, then you are probably most interested in Opinion Shapers.

Brand awareness = Amplifier, Conversationalist

Brand reputation=Opinion shaper, Conversationalist, Thought leader

Word of mouth= Amplifier, Opinion shaper, Conversationalist

Website traffic= Amplifier, Opinion shaper, Thought leader

Compare the profiles with your audience analysis

I’m assuming that you’ve done an audience analysis to determine things like where your audience lives online (in what social networks and communities), what kinds of content they consume (videos, podcasts, blogs, etc.), demographic data, and so on.

Now, you should have a shorter list of potential influencers. So, compare the profiles with your audience data. If your audience isn’t on Twitter, you don’t need influencer’s whose primary activity is social networking on Twitter. If your audience doesn’t like videos, Opinion Shapers who primarily distribute content through video move down on your priority list.

By the time you finish this process, you’ll have a good list of influencers to target. You should be pretty confident that these influencers are worth building a relationship with. Now, you just have to figure how to build that relationship!

Here are some resources to help you:

Stop the PR Madness By Ardath Albee

The Art and Science of Blogger Relations – Updated eBook by Brian Solis

Six Steps to Better Blogger Relations By Jen Zingsheim

 

Neicole Crepeau is a partner in Coherent Interactive, which specializes in web, mobile, and social media design and implementation for small and mid-size businesses. You can read more of her original material at her blog, Coherent Social Media or onTwitter where she is @neicolec.


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