Proof that good writing matters : )

It’s Friday and as we say around here, “Man does not live by blog alone” and when I saw this pic I laughed out loud and thought I would share it with you.

Too bad crayons don’t come with spell-check.

This came off of a Trendhunter photo gallery of the world’s worst parenting photos. Here are a few more …

A simple strategy to increase your influence on Twitter

“How do I increase my influence on Twitter?”

A business colleague asked me this question and I figured if it was on his mind, it might be on yours too.  While it remains to be seen if I have actual influence anywhere, I have undoubtedly created substantial, tangible business benefits through Twitter and the social web.  So here’s my strategy. It’s very simple and I think it could probably work for anybody.

1) Build targeted connections. Most people will tell you the number of followers you have doesn’t matter. They’re wrong.   If you put time into Twitter but nobody is there to listen and respond, it’s a waste of time, right?  Plus, you need a critical mass of at least 300-400 followers before Twitter becomes interesting and fun. And if it’s not fun you’re not going to do it.

The more relevant, targeted connections you have, the more likely somebody is going to relate to you.  It’s like a big dating game. You don’t want to be just stuck with just Bachelor Number 1 do you? That’s the one who collects pipe cleaners and lives with his mother.  Fill your tribe with lots and lots of eligible business connections.  How do you find these lovely folks? There are lots of ways but here are four to get you going!

  • Blogging and Twitter fit like a hand in a glove. Of course the people who come to read your blog are interested in you, so they are natural Twitter followers. Nearly all of my Twitter connections come through my blog. I think. Who really knows?
  • Explore lists. Do a search on Listorious for people and subjects that are related to your business interests. Or look for lists created by people in your industry or even <gasp> your competitors. Follow those people please.
  • Take part in Twitter chats related to your business interests.
  • Twellow is the “yellow pages” of Twitter and you can find many great folks by industry, interest and geographic location
  • Twitter search. Search for keywords related to your business interests. Those people showing up probably share your interests. Follow them too.

2) Provide meaningful content. The key to turning a faceless follower into a real business relationship is by providing compelling content that means something to them. Like this …

  • Linking to your blog is an obvious source of content
  • Use bit.ly or another URL shortener to send along interesting content that you stumble across
  • RT others. No shame in sharing wonderful content discovered by others.
  • Link to comments you create on LinkedIn, Facebook and other platforms.
  • Provide human content. Tell a little about yourself along the way. That’s interesting too. To a point.

3) Provide authentic helpfulness. I find many of the social media axioms to be dumb (“it’s all about the conversation” … gag me) but here is one that is very useful: Think of the social web as a dinner party. If somebody only talks about themselves, their business and how great they are, you’re going to want to get away fast!  But if a person shows genuine interest in you, offers help without regard to their own personal benefit, you will like that person and connect with them.

This is the area where most people fail on the social web because you can’t fake authenticity. People will sniff you out pretty quickly. Here are some ways to demonstrate true helpfulness to others:

  • People throw questions out there all the time. Answer them or refer them to somebody who can.
  • Build your own tribe. Reach out to the real people on Twitter, don’t just kiss the ass of the A-List bloggers. Are those folks really going to deliver business benefits to you?  Doubtful unless you are another A-List blogger. Just the way it is.
  • Read people’s profiles. Visit their websites, read their blogs and comment. You can almost always find something in common with them and this shows you are genuinely interested. And you should be!
  • Nothing says I love you like a re-tweet now and then.
  • Some people hate the whole #FollowFriday thing. That’s because they’re jaded. How can you not like the fact that somebody is providing a recommendation for you? If somebody does a #FF for me, they are automatically on my radar screen. It’s an honor.

I could literally fill many blogposts with ideas about this strategy but I know you hate long blog posts so I’ll shut up. If you look at any business success story on Twitter, I guarantee it follows this pattern. Work it!

What are your thoughts on this little “success formula?”  I love learning from your comments!

A voice from the Nashville flood: Social media as a lifeline

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Laura Click in downtown Nashville. She had an incredible story about how people used the social web to pull together amidst the greatest catastrophe in the city’s history and was kind enough to share her story with the {grow} community. If you would like to donate to the flood relief effort, I will match your contribution up to a total of $1,000. Honor system – I trust you.  Just send me a DM on Twitter and tell me what you donated and I will match it.  I’ll post a running total in this spot throughout the day. Current reader donations total $855 + match = $1,710. Here is Laura’s post:

In the wake of the catastrophic flooding throughout Nashville last weekend, social media has proven to be an essential communications tool throughout the crisis. In my experience, the most relevant and up-to-date information came from blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

During last Sunday’s storm, 44,000 Nashvillians were without power (myself included). The only way I was able to receive critical information about the severe weather advisories and the growing flood problem was through Twitter and Facebook on my phone.

In the days following the storm and subsequent flooding, my social media circle has continued to keep me informed about road closures, the need to conserve water and how to volunteer with relief efforts. It has been amazing to see the exchange of important, timely information take place online.

The Nashville flood has proven that you don’t need to be a journalist to share valuable information during a crisis. Thousands of citizens have used social media to share their first-hand accounts of the flood. Simply follow the #nashvilleflood hashtag on Twitter and you’ll see a real-time conversation about where help is needed most, photos of the damage throughout the city and positive stories of people who’ve made a difference.

Social media has also amplified how individuals, groups and businesses have found their own unique ways to help flood victims. While some of these efforts have been covered in traditional media, most groups have used Twitter, Facebook and blogs to get the word out. Here are some great examples of the work being done throughout Nashville that have been heavily promoted online:

  • Web site resource. A group of web developers and bloggers banded together to create Donate Nashville, a Web site where flood victims can request assistance or needed items, and volunteers can find ways to donate time and money.
  • Nashville flood t-shirts & posters. A number of graphic designers have created t-shirts and posters with proceeds benefitting a variety of charities supporting flood relief efforts.
  • Business discounts and donations. Many local businesses and restaurants have donated portions of their sales to charities or offered discounts to volunteers.

If it weren’t for social media, many people wouldn’t know about Nashville’s flood disaster. As other bloggers have noted, it took days for the national media to sit up and take notice. And when they did, I credit social media for getting them here.

Some bloggers have received huge national exposure because they did the leg work before the national media arrived. For instance, a post entitled “We are Nashville” from a local hockey blogger has received more than 900 comments and was even mentioned on The Huffington Post.

If you ever question the power of social media, look at how it has been used to connect people during a crisis.

Just ask the people of Nashville.

Laura Click is a marketing consultant in Nashville, Tenn. You can find out more about Laura at www.lauraclick.com, or by following @lauraclick on Twitter.

Image credit: Nashville Flood Tees

 

Transitioning online contacts into offline friendships

I’ve made many wonderful connections through the social web, but the magic really happens when I’ve strengthened those bonds by turning those online friends into offline relationships. I had some cool experiences last week that I wanted to share with you.

Amy Howell and I have become fast Twitter friends and cemented our relationship a few months ago when she visited me during a business trip to our area. I was able to return the favor last week when she hosted Chris Brogan at a community event in Memphis. While it was great to meet Chris, it was even more rewarding to meet a dozen or so of my other close Twitter friends for the first time like Jeremy Victor, Kathy Snavely, Eric Fletcher, Glen Gilmour, Kent Huffman, Anne Gallaher and Ryan Sauers.  Who knows where new friendships like this will lead?

On my way to Memphis I stopped in Nashville to have lunch with another Twitter friend Laura Click. I was moved by the flooded devastation in this nearby city and Laura’s own personal story.  She agreed to write a guest post about her experiences and we are also exploring ways to work together on some other upcoming projects. I’m sure we would not have found these synergies without taking the time to meet face to face.

After my trip to Memphis, I drove to  Indianapolis to give a speech at the American Public Power Association conference. Yes, I spent a lot of time in the car last week! So I tried an experiment — could I use this time productively to “meet” even more of my Twitter friends?  I sent out a tweet inviting folks to call me during my drive to talk about any marketing topics on their mind.  Not only was this a pleasant way to pass the time, I was able to help one contact with a job lead and another call resulted in a possible consulting engagement for me.

Twitter is such a powerful networking tool but you can really unleash its power by connecting in the offline world too! Have you had similar experiences?

My week in pics: 1) Laura Click 2) Jeremy Victor 3) Eric Fletcher, Amy Howell, Jim Howell, Glen Gilmour, 4) Trey Pennington 5) Amy Howell 6) Kathy Snavely

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