Archives for the month of: April, 2012

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Becky Gaylord spills the beans on the 12 Most Powerhouse Habits of Social Media Pros…

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  • meet your deadline
  • solve a problem
  • close a sale
  • win over a client
  • write a blog post
  • find hope after a bad day
  • rebound after a failure

Remember to be gentle and patient with yourself. Don’t give up, but don’t beat yourself up, either. Reach out for help if you need it. Give yourself credit for how far you’ve come.

Those people who you suspect have it all together, with no problems and no stumbles? Nope. Not true. But what they have done is figured out how to keep going and make it look like that. You can too.

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12 Most weekly writer Becky Gaylord shares wisdom on the Crucial Rules for Content Sharing.

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Social media gives us access to many more people than we’d meet otherwise. It lets us be touched in more ways. It lets us be influenced by more people — as well as influence more people, ourselves.

Data matter. ROI matters. And analytics matter. Yes, all of that is true.

But this wonderful post by Jure Klepic shows why that’s just part of the story. “As marketers, we need to start focusing on measuring intent instead of just measuring online influence,” he says.

Kait Brand’s intense message of love and courage, which unfolds in this video, reached me through Jure’s blog. I don’t know either Kait or Jure personally, yet both have profoundly influenced me through social media. The more complicated technology gets, the clearer it is that community and simple, emotional connections matter more than ever.

How are you incorporating this reality into your social media outreach?

Blogging is hard work. And getting the tone of voice just right is part of that struggle. Without the right voice, readers won’t stick with you to take in your great content.

Here’s the challenge: You want to be authoritative, but not a know-it-all. You want to be upbeat, but not saccharine. You want to be specific, but not clinical. You want to be informative, but not scientific. You want to be clear, but not patronizing. And you want to show a sense of humor without sliding into a standup routine.

Here’s my trick: try writing as if you’re talking to a specific audience. Picture who you are delivering the information to. Make it visual. And make it personal.

Then craft your content. And do it with the tone you’d use in one of these seven situations…

1. to cheer on a friend,

2. to bargain for a deal,

3. to guide your kids,

4. to pick yourself up after a bad day,

5. to laugh a little at yourself,

6. to mentor a student, or

7. to help a stranger.

See if that doesn’t make it easier next time you need to post. I’d be interested to hear how this worked for you. Here’s more about writing for a specific audience with some examples.

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Becky Gaylord discusses the 12 Most Untenable Excuses Not to Have a Crisis Communications Plan…

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A breakdown in action that stops us from making progress on a project is known as writer’s block. I think a better term is idea block because it happens when we’ve run out of ideas for how to move forward.

To defeat writer’s block we don’t actually need to write. But we do need to get unstuck and break the block. It’s not in the hands. It’s in the brain. So hit the a reset button.

Here are 26 ways to get ideas flowing again.

1. Listen to music without lyrics, such as a Classical station on Pandora

2. Close your eyes and picture a peaceful, quiet scene

3. Breathe deeply

4. Jump for 60 seconds

5. Do a puzzle with numbers, like Sudoku

6. Sing

7. Skip

8. Hum to a happy song

9. Get up and make a cup of tea

10. Move your right elbow to your left knee and your left elbow to your right knee ten times

11. Pretend you’re in the second grade and explaining the project for Show and Tell, and do that out loud

12. Write out an affirmation and walk to mirror, look at your reflection and repeat it to yourself

13. Read a poem out loud

14. Climb up and down several flights of stairs and do a jumping jack on the landings

15. Call a good friend who knows nothing about the topic and have her  interview you about it for a few minutes

16. Think of the concept or project as a tree and visualize what needs to be the trunk and what would be branching off from it.

17. Sketch what you imagined in #16

18. Do something totally different and that interests you for ten minutes

19. Draw

20. Color

21. Watch a video with babies laughing 

22. Read some inspiring quotes 

23. March with your knees high, even better if done while listening to band music

24. Watch something short and funny

25. Stare out a window and let your mind drift

26. Keep a cheat sheet handy

These are some of the things I do. What works for you?

We all want customers or clients who are so thrilled with us (and our work, service or results) that they voluntarily and enthusiastically spread the word among their contacts and networks. But how does this work if you’re not a superstar brand with a ton of money to spend?

You need to do four things:

  1. Know your customers and what they want
  2. Give them something they perceive to have real value
  3. Don’t attach any strings or hide any gotchas
  4. Make it really fun

Here’s a quick case study based on an experience I had today that shows all four elements at work, really effectively.

We have an annual pass to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. When it opened about two months ago, the aquarium seemed like it would be a super cool place to visit, especially during the months in Cleveland when it’s important to have    indoor options to keep kids busy and entertained. (We have two boys, ages 3 and 7.)  My husband went once with our 7-year old son. At the time, we decided to get an annual pass.

Here’s why: if our family of four went to the aquarium together, and bought tickets for just that day, it would cost us $75.80. (Tickets for adults are $21.95 and for the kids [aged 2-12] are $15.95. The annual pass is $130 for a family. So, if we go even two times a year, together, the pass becomes the better deal. I had planned to take the kids, too, but hadn’t fit it in, yet.

Last week, an email arrived announcing a special Toddler Time party for annual pass holders with children aged two to four. It would give the 40 or so respondents who RSVP’d access to the entire facility from 8 am to 10 am, before it opened to the public. But the little ones wouldn’t just get to roam, unfettered, around “40 tanks of all sizes, which are home to thousands of living creatures. From the Ohio-native brook trout, to the ferocious piranhas, as well as the sand tiger sharks that reach more than seven feet long,” as the aquarium’s website touts.

As well, the inaugural Toddler Time party featured music, dancing, touch exhibits staffed with plenty of friendly aquarists, snacks, juice, storytelling, Captain Neil (with a booming brogue) and friendly, furry costumed sea creatures to cuddle and wave at. Oh, and the lovely folks at the aquarium set out hot coffee for the parents, too.

We were truly treated to a special, private and fun time. It cost an additional $7. But I would’ve paid five times that and still felt like it was a deal. My three-year old, Max, had fun, too. (And he ate three packages of Teddy Grahams!)

The experience converted me into a brand ambassador, for sure. Here’s how the aquarium delivered on the four elements:

1.  Know your customers and what they want

The set up is exactly what works with this age group: space, movement, food, things to touch, music, animals and water. And, it was what the parents wanted, too. About a 1/3 or so of the caregivers at the Toddler Time party were guys/dads — a much bigger chunk than I expected. The morning timing and location (the aquarium is downtown) made it a great way to fit in some fun time and wrap it, smoothly, into the rest of the day. I did the same thing.

2.  Give them something they perceive to have real value

It wasn’t just the thoughtful additions of snacks, drinks and coffee or music, dancing, stories and characters that made this so great. The private access made us feel like we were truly special guests. The staff welcomed us warmly and showed us around with pride. It wasn’t at all crowded. We got to feel like we were being honored as annual pass holders. Smart! I’m not going to be the only one who talks this up, and that’s bound to entice more folks to become annual pass holders.

3.  Don’t attach any strings or hide any gotchas

No one made me sign anything or promise to send anything in. I wasn’t hounded to buy one thing. In fact, the gift shop was closed — which was a sigh of relief to this mom, who dreads the parade past the goodies in the grocery checkout line because of the pestering. The experience was all treat and no tricks, just the way it should be when a business is trying to show customers extra value. Problem is, it doesn’t always happen like this. Customers notice.

4.  Make it really fun

This is almost the easy part, if you nail the other three elements. The aquarium took care of everything, including making it fun for the grownups. I had such a good time that when I dropped off my son at day care, afterwards, still chatting about it, our caregiver said she’d look into joining so she could take the kids. (She looks after five toddlers and takes them to the zoo and concerts and plays for children, so this facility would be right in line with those fun excursions.) And I am blogging about it. And I’m posting pics on Facebook. And I’ll Tweet. How much in advertising would that publicity cost?

The upshot is this: if you want to turn customers into brand ambassadors, it takes forethought and planning. But it doesn’t take a ton of money or a huge marketing staff. The effort is mainly in giving your customers what they want as well as value and fun, like this Toddler Time party. I want to share about it through social media because I now consider myself an ambassador of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium and its brand.

When advising clients or others about seizing opportunities on social media or through other marketing channels, keep in mind the experiences you have when you are the customer. That’s a great way to test out the ideas to see if they are authentic and would work. This experience with the aquarium is just one example of how to do that.

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