Monday, February 28, 2011

The Complete Picture

This week we're going to look at filling some holes, starting with this advice from Anthony Juliano and his site Content: Making sense of our changing communication environment

Why a photo on your LinkedIn profile is a must

Don't let this be your image on LinkedIn

If you drive by a house with an unkempt lawn, what’s your immediate thought? If you’re like most people, you probably make a snap judgment that the owner is lazy or inept. “Everyone else got in done,” we think. “Why didn’t they?”

As social media use becomes more common, the same kinds of small negative impressions are being registered when others visit your social media profiles. One example: what a LinkedIn page without a photo might signal to a visitor:

  • That you don’t know how to upload a photo (and are therefore incompetent)
  • That you haven’t taken the time to do it (and are therefore lazy)
  • That you don’t have a photo of yourself that you like (and are therefore either unattractive or lacking in confidence)

This may seem unfair. You may think “I’ve been working on more important things” or “All my good photos are on my work computer and I only access LinkedIn from home.” Unfortunately, the audience isn’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, when we see a lawn that needs mowing, we usually don’t cut the owner any slack. Regardless of whether there’s more to the story–a broken mower or a broken arm, perhaps–we go with the information we have, and it registers as a negative impression.

So before any more time goes by, take the time to add a photo to your LinkedIn profile. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Ensure you have a photo loaded on to your computer and that know where to find it. Make sure it’s a vertically-oriented, professional photo (NOT one of you at play, with a spouse, with a dog, etc., unless that’s somehow related to your work) smaller than 4 MB. Even if you prefer how you looked five years ago, use something that looks like the present-day you.
  2. Log in to LinkedIn
  3. On the home page, click on Profile, then Edit Profile. You’ll see something that looks like this (absent the photo, of course):
  4. Click on the “Edit” link under the photo box
  5. Click on “Choose file”; select it from the correct folder on your hard drive
  6. Click on “Upload photo”
  7. Click on “Save settings” and you’re done
  8. If you still have problems, contact me and I’ll walk you through it

One more thing: many people think you should change our your LinkedIn photo often to mix things up and get the audience’s attention. I think the opposite is true: our eyes are drawn to familiar images, so your profile photo will stand out only if it’s recognizable. Change it out once or twice a year if you want, but it’s not necessary to do it more often (unless your appearance changes dramatically, of course).

Now get out your camera, smile and get it done.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Slander in Social Media?

Don't believe everything you read, see or hear has been advice that has been passed along for generations.

It's still true today in the Web World.

What can you do if wrong information is out there about you?

Our Guest Post is from the Talent Zoo website:

UnGoogle Yourself By: Mark Macias

“The Internet is written in ink.”

Or is it?

It seems everyone believed that phrase after the ex-girlfriend of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said it in the movie The Social Network. That movie helped us see how the Internet can destroy a person’s reputation overnight and with very little effort. Today, anyone with an agenda can open a blog account and start spreading malicious rumors about you—in some cases without you even knowing it.

Lucky for you, the Internet is more aptly written in pencil. Negative articles, false information, and scandalous pictures and videos can be removed if you take the right strategic approach. Freedom of speech is protected under the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean someone has a right to spread malicious information that can destroy your character or business. You do have a legal right to get that information pulled down if it infringes on your rights.

I was recently approached by a financial consultant, Alan Gottlob, who discovered an investment website posted a false and misleading article that slandered his reputation. The article was factually incorrect and harmed Gottlob’s reputation so much that his million-dollar clients were starting to close their accounts with him. Gottlob tried several times to get the record corrected, but the writer and editor of the newspaper refused to budge.

Gottlob contacted me in the fall of 2010 after the negative article started spreading on the Internet. Other financial websites were now picking up the article and Gottlob feared his days of financial consulting were nearing an end.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are several steps you can take to get the material removed from the Internet if you apply some proven crisis communications strategies.

The first thing you must understand is that there is a difference between opinion, libel, and slander. If a restaurant critic writes that your restaurant smells, you can’t take legal action to bring down the story. However, if the critic writes a factually inaccurate article that accuses you of wrongdoing and harms your business, you do have legal recourse to get the page pulled down. And you don’t always need an attorney for this. Sometimes a strongly worded letter that outlines how the article is inaccurate and misleading is enough to get the publisher’s attention.

Next up: If you find a negative or false article written about you, go after the power brokers or people who finance the publication, which includes the publisher, city editors, executive producers, and most important, the legal counsel for the publication. Do a quick Google search to find out who owns the website or publication. Most people, like Gottlob, contact the writer when a negative article is published. You need to complain to the people who control the money. Your letter to these power brokers needs to state why this article is inaccurate and, most important, how the article financially harmed your business and reputation. If you can’t show any financial duress from the article, you won’t succeed in the court of law or with the publisher.

Don’t wait. Go after the website’s owners immediately. The longer a website is up, the more time search engines have to index the page. Unfortunately, it took Gottlob several weeks to get a hold of the reporter and her superiors. By the time Gottlob was able to speak to the reporter, the web page had already been indexed and was on the first page of Google’s results. By the time I got involved with his case, the story had spread to other investment websites. Bad news travels fast on the Internet, so don’t procrastinate in the fight. If you are able to get the negative article removed, make sure you alert Google to stop indexing the web page.

And if you fail to get the negative article removed from the Internet because you were either in the wrong or it involved someone’s opinion, there are ways to get the information pushed off of the first page of Google. I call this, “cramming the content.” You can try to push the negative information off the front page of Google by writing your own blog or article, giving your side of the story.

This form of crisis communications will only grow in the future as more bloggers and news organizations post articles on the Internet. Google your name or company frequently to make sure no one is spreading false or malicious rumors that can destroy your business. We got the false and negative article on Gottlob pulled from the Web, so you can succeed with a multi-pronged approach.

Mark Macias is a TV journalist working in New York City. He's also the author of the book, "Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media," which reveals overt and covert tactics in squashing any negative stories. You can read more here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Working It

Beware of people who say their way is:

  • The one way
  • The best way
  • The only way
to be successful in Social Media.

The truth is, there are many, many ways and formulas you can use, but you have to work it.

ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure is simply my sharing with you what I have done over the past 5 years and what I am doing now.

Recently I have been using a combination of ways to communicate on Social Media.

The blog sites allow me the opportunity to write, teach and share without limitations.

But the blogs alone took a long time get noticed.

The I started using other social media tools that help to spread the word.

Twitter is my favorite, it can be very conversational and it is pretty uncomplicated.

But Twitter is limited in reach compared to Facebook, so I use Facebook too.

Linked In is the 3rd tool I use to reach out to professionals.

I use Twitter, Facebook and Linked In to spread the word about what I post on my blog sites. Just include a clickable link and boom... you've integrated, communicated and given others the opportunity to spread the word on your behalf to the people they are connected to.

Like I said at the beginning, there are many ways to work it, pick the social media tools that work for you.

Two days ago, I was one of the panelists for the Social Media Breakfast Fort Wayne, and our host and emcee Kevin Mulett has put the powerpoint presentation on line. Click here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Staying Sane in Social Media

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a panelist for the first Social Media Breakfast Fort Wayne.

We had a huge variety of people attending and each of us on the panel learned something too!

A few hours later, a young lady who is active in Social Media, posted on her blog, that she needed help because now she discovered a whole bunch more tools and sites, and it sounded like she was feeling overwhelmed.

So, I responded:

There are more tools out there than any one person needs, if they want to include sleep as a regular (every 24 hours) activity.

So, take a moment and look at the big picture.

Not, “what is the best way to use social media and manage all of it?”

I mean the Really BIG Picture.

What are you trying to do overall? What will success look like? It it’s 2000 followers on Twitter, that in itself is too shallow of a goal. If you want to increase the awareness of ___________ or promote an upcoming event for ____________, then you are now looking at the Big Picture.

Once you have a definition of success, then you can play with the tools that might help you get there. Social Media (Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, You Tube, etc, are just tools, and nothing else.)

What I’m saying is, you don’t have to do it all. You will drive yourself crazy and burn out. You’ll either end up hating it and quitting, or others will start hating you because of your compulsions!

And these words are coming from a guy who posts 50+ times per week on blogs, and tweets 30+ times a day.

Here’s my simple advice. Don’t worry about the analytics. Use the social media platforms that others (the people you want to reach) are using so they can find you.

My personal experience is to post on blogs, promote with links and interact on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In.

And these days my favorite tool is Tweetdeck on my laptop for posting on those three.

Click here to read her original blog post.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Death of ________ Media

Sunday's New York Times featured a story that made the rounds yesterday. The headline reads:

Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter

Wow, I guess I should stop blogging, because no one is going to read it anymore.

Well, like many other death notices proclaiming the end of __________ media, this one is wrong too.

Last century it was predicted that radio would disappear because of television. (Radio with pictures).

Television was also supposed to kill the movie industry.

Cable television was supposed to kill the broadcast television industry.

The internet was supposed to kill the newspaper business and phone book industries.

That last one (phone books) might happen in the next 10 years.

What really determines if a media lives or dies is money.

Yep. Cash.

Radio, television, newspapers, generally speaking have survived by changing with the times and adjusting their operations to keep positive cash flow. Not all, but many.

But this particular newspaper story doesn't really support the attention getting headline.

Quotes from the story:

Like any aspiring filmmaker, Michael McDonald, a high school senior, used a blog to show off his videos. But discouraged by how few people bothered to visit, he instead started posting his clips on Facebook, where his friends were sure to see and comment on his editing skills...

“I don’t use my blog anymore,” said Mr. McDonald, who lives in San Francisco. “All the people I’m trying to reach are on Facebook.”

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

Stop. The younger generation? Teens? Teenagers never dominated the blog world. Skip down a couple of paragraphs and the real story comes out...

...small talk shifted in large part to social networking, said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, a women’s blog network. Still, blogs remain a home of more meaty discussions, she said.

“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”

Lee Rainie, director of the Internet and American Life Project, says that blogging is not so much dying as shifting with the times. Entrepreneurs have taken some of the features popularized by blogging and weaved them into other kinds of services.

“The act of telling your story and sharing part of your life with somebody is alive and well — even more so than at the dawn of blogging,” Mr. Rainie said. “It’s just morphing onto other platforms.”

Toni Schneider, chief executive of Automattic, the company that commercializes the WordPress blogging software, explains that WordPress is mostly for serious bloggers, not the younger novices who are defecting to social networking.

In any case, he said bloggers often use Facebook and Twitter to promote their blog posts to a wider audience. Rather than being competitors, he said, they are complementary.

“There is a lot of fragmentation,” Mr. Schneider said. “But at this point, anyone who is taking blogging seriously — they’re using several mediums to get a large amount of their traffic.”

While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.

It takes a certain level of maturity to be a blogger and stick with it. It's not for everyone, but that's okay. You can always play your Farmville games on Facebook.

So, if you hear a prediction or "death notice" about social media, or some form of social media, read the whole story before you join the mourners. Click here to read the NYT story.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Best 5 of 35?

Last year, a few folks suggested I write more about Social Media.

Some wanted me to teach Social Media.

Others wanted me to justify Social Media.

That last one was a doozy.

So after giving it some thought, I started preparing another website, which you are reading right now, that would share some of what I have learned over the past few years along with some guest posts from others.

Not every one of the previous 35 posts are note worthy, but some are worth checking out again, or if you didn't see them the first time, you can scan thru the list and see what captures your interest:

Here's a video that shows why we should care about Social Media. Pass this on to the skeptics. Click here.

Click here for an Illustrated guide to setting up a blog.

I also presented a weeks worth of Twitter information including this Illustrated guide to setting up your Twitter account, click here

Also regarding Twitter, click here for some Twitter Terms you should know.

And click here to see the application I use and recommend for managing LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

We will continue this journey online and in person.

As a matter of fact, Tuesday 2/22, I get to sit on a Social Media Breakfast panel with some friends and we'll be sharing our perspectives on keeping the social in social media. Click here for more details.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Blogging to Build Your Brand

Our Friday Guestpost this week is from the CopyBlogger site:

image of the word brand

There are countless blogs and articles on the web that proclaim the importance of building a unique brand.

But how, exactly, do you create a brand that’s irresistible to your audience and positions you as an authority?

And how do you do it if you’ve never built one before?

In the comments of my last post, The Rockstar Guide to Getting More Traffic, Fame, and Success, many of you said you were having trouble finding your unique style and turning it into a brand.

So, today I’m going to share 125 of the questions and tips I use when developing a brand for my clients.

The tips in this list will help you gather research, and take the specific steps necessary to create a brand that’s unique to your personality.

How to use this list

To help walk you through the process of creating your brand, I’ve grouped this list into five categories: know yourself, know your audience, know your competition, building a brand experience, and implementation tips.

In order to build an irresistible brand, you need to take what you learn about yourself, your audience, and your competition and blend that research with your own personality to create a style that attracts your audience.

The first three sections ask you questions that help you pull together the information you need to create your style, while the rest of the list gives you specific steps you can take to turn that style into an irresistible brand.

Ready? Here we go …

Know yourself

1. What drives you? Is there an emotion, need, desire, or past event that motivates you to take action? How can you infuse some of that energy into your brand?

2. What are you passionate about? What gets you excited, angry, or motivated to take action? How can you let your passion come through in your brand?

3. What are your strengths? Everyone has specific skills or personality traits that they are especially good at. What are yours? How can your strengths help support your brand?

4. What are your weaknesses? Weaknesses are nothing to be ashamed of. It just means you’re not as strong in those areas. In fact, acknowledging your weaknesses instead of hiding them makes your brand more human.

5. What is your personality type? Are you a “type-a” personality? A “pleaser?” Maybe you’re an extroverted sanguine or an ambitious choleric. Getting to know your own personality traits is the first step to infusing your brand with your personality.

6. What is your story? Everyone has a story. Yours might be a “rags to riches” story or maybe an inspirational “beating the odds” story. What elements of your story can you bring to your brand to make it more interesting?

7. What is your background? Where did you come from? What are your training, your education, and your experience in your niche? Did you change careers when you got started in your current niche, or did you grow up doing what you do now? Where does your background fit within your brand?

8. What are you most talented at? What is the one thing you do better than anyone else you know? Is it part of what you’re doing now? If not, why not? Can you integrate your special talent into your brand?

9. What do you have the most experience doing? Sometimes what we’re talented at and what we have the most experience doing for a career are two different things. Does your experience match up with your talents? Where does your career experience fit in your overall brand?

10. Why did you choose your career / niche / topic / market? Why did you start doing what you do now? Was it by choice, or were you forced into it? Are you passionate enough about it to build a brand around it?

11. What do you plan to offer? What products / services do you plan to promote? Are you going to be providing information as a resource only? If you are going to sell something, what will be your flagship product? How does that decision affect your branding?

12. What makes you unique? Are you a punk rocker who munches apples and writes about stories? Maybe you’re a reclusive hermit who writes about social media. What elements of your personality, experience, skills and niche can you blend together to put a fresh spin on your topic? How can you build a brand around that uniqueness?

13. What hobbies or interests do you have? What interests and activities do you enjoy outside of your niche? How can you integrate elements of those interests into your brand to help make it unique? Can you become the “skateboarding CEO” or the “mountain-climbing granny” to infuse some personality into your brand?

14. What are your core beliefs? Remaining true to your core values is an important part of making your brand authentic. How can your brand reflect what you believe and live by?

15. What makes you uncomfortable? Are you afraid of public speaking? Does confrontation make you squirm? Knowing what makes you uncomfortable will help you prepare your brand for dealing with those situations when they arise.

16. If money were no object, and you could do anything you wanted for “work,” would you still do what you’re doing now? This is more of a “gut check” question. Before you spend the time and money building a brand around what you’re doing, are you sure you want to continue in that niche?

17. What are your favorite colors? Colors convey specific messages and affect response rates, so choosing the right colors for your brand is important. How do your favorite colors compare with the colors preferred by your audience?

18. Is there a specific design style that you really like? Do you prefer modern, futuristic, minimalist, or some other design style? How does the style you prefer compare to the style preferred by your audience?

19. What emotion(s) do people associate with you? Do the people around you describe you as happy, impatient, angry, or some other emotional trait? Does that emotion come through in your brand?

20. What brands / designs from other companies make you jealous? Don’t try to copy the look or style of someone else’s brand. However, looking at other brands may help spark some ideas for your own.

21. How do you describe what you do? If you had only one sentence to describe what you do, what would you say? Are you using the same words your audience uses to describe what you do?

22. What are your goals? It’s important to plan for the future when creating your brand so it will stand the test of time. What are your plans for the future, and how does your brand fit into that picture?

23. What is your message? When your audience sees your brand, what is the primary message you want the brand to convey? Is there a specific emotion you want them to feel when they see it?

24. What are you really selling? Someone once said “people don’t buy drill bits, they buy holes.” What is your audience really buying from you, and how can you reinforce that with your brand?

25. What is your level of commitment? This is another “gut check” question. Building, implementing, and maintaining a brand requires commitment. How committed are you to the brand you’re building? Will you still feel confident you made the right decisions about your brand five years from now?

Know your audience

26. What gender is your audience? Are they mostly male, female, or a pretty even mix? How does that affect the styling for your brand?

27. How old are they? The age of your audience makes a big difference in the styling and presentation of your brand. It also affects the voice and message you use when you connect with your audience.

28. What generational values do they have? Baby Boomers respond to brands differently than Generation X does – and Generation Y (the Net Generation) responds differently than either of them. Do you know what generation profile your audience is from?

29. What is their household income level? Is your audience middle-class, wealthy, or barely able to pay the bills? How does price and affordability affect the brand you’re building?

30. Where do they live? Is your brand targeted to an audience that’s national, worldwide, or just your local neighborhood? Will that affect how you present your brand?

31. What are their hobbies and interests? Does your audience share any of your hobbies and interests? Can you convey that with your brand?

32. What is their marital status? Are they married, single, divorced, widowed, or engaged? Does their marital status affect they way they will perceive your brand?

33. Do they have kids? Having children changes the way you think about life and money. If your audience have kids, will that help your brand or present some challenges?

34. Do they have pets? For many pet owners, their pets are their “surrogate kids.” How does pet ownership figure into your brand? Does it present any advantages that will help your audience connect with you?

35. What kind of computer are they likely to own (if any)? As you build your brand it’s important to think about what type of technology people are most likely to be using when they interact with you. For example, will your audience spend more time with your brand on a laptop, iPad, or smart phone?

36. Do they have any special needs or health issues? It’s important to take special needs into consideration when developing your brand. For example, some people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury can have seizures if presented with bright, flashing colors. Does your audience have any special needs you need to be mindful of?

37. What TV shows do they prefer? Which television shows people watch can tell you a lot about their personality. For example, according to a study done by Mindset Media, people who watch the hit show “Mad Men” are creative and socially liberal. Knowing what shows they watch can give you clues about how to build a brand that they relate to.

38. What blogs do they read? Is your audience avid blog readers? Do they even know what a blog is? Knowing what blogs your audience frequents will help give you insight into the topics that interest them so you can incorporate that into your branding.

39. What other websites do they visit most often? Again, knowing what websites your audience spends the most time on helps you understand what topics, issues, and leisure activities are important to them. It also gives you some clues about how and where to promote your brand.

40. Are they active in social media? Is your audience addicted to Twitter and Facebook, or scared to death of them? Does your audience intentionally boycott social media as a frivolous waste of time or invasion of privacy? How does that affect the plans you have for your blog?

41. What career level are they at? Aspiring college graduates that are new to the workforce have a different perspective than experienced “veterans” of the corporate world. Where does your audience fit into that spectrum, and how does that affect your branding?

42. What is the highest education level they’ve achieved? Is your audience high school dropouts, college graduates, or do they have a PhD? How does their level of education change the way you present your brand and its sophistication?

43. How much of their shopping is done online? Knowing how comfortable your audience is making purchases online is important if your brand will have a heavy online presence, or if you plan to sell anything online.

44. Do they subscribe to any magazines or publications? Knowing which magazines your audience subscribes to can be a great source of research. For example, most magazines have media kits available on their websites that detail the demographics and lifestyle of their readers.

45. What is their greatest fear? Developing your brand around something that reduces or eliminates the fear your audience feels over a topic or situation is a powerful means of attracting them to your brand.

46. What is their greatest frustration? If your audience is frustrated over a problem, how can you build your brand around the solution? If you can do that, your audience will feel excited they’ve found the answer to their problem in your brand.

47. What is their greatest hope or dream? Does your audience have a common hope or dream you can incorporate into your brand that they relate to?

48. What event or need causes them to search for what you offer? Do you know what causes your audience to seek your help in the first place? What problem or event triggers their initial search? How can you position your brand as the solution to that problem?

49. Are there any products or services they buy regularly? Does your audience always shop at high-end luxury retailers, or technology stores? Knowing where your audience shops will help you craft a style that feels familiar and inviting to them.

50. Is there anything you have in common with them? Sharing a common interest, problem, skill, or passion with your audience can give you a huge advantage when building your brand. The common ground you have will help your audience identify with your brand and engage them faster – encouraging interaction and more sales.

Know your competition

51. Who is your competition? Everyone in every niche has a competitor. Even if you don’t have someone in your niche that offers the same products / services / information as you do, there’s always someone you compete with in search engine rankings for your keywords. Know who they are.

52. What makes them a competitor? Are they offering the same things you are to the same audience, are they competing with you for the same keywords, or are they a friend that you compete with for fun?

53. How do they describe what makes them unique? What words and tone of voice are they using to convey what they do? How does their description differ from yours? Do you need to adjust your branding to make your description more appealing to your audience than theirs is?

54. What do they offer? What services, products, and information do they offer to their audience? Do they offer anything you don’t? How can you adjust your branding accordingly so what they offer seems outdated, inferior, or irrelevant?

55. Do they charge for what they offer? If so, how does their pricing compare to yours? Do you need to tweak your brand to look more / less expensive than what they offer, or look like a better value for the money?

56. Are they marketing to the same audience as you? If it appears they’re marketing to a different audience, you might need to re-evaluate whom your audience really is.

57. What are they better at than you? Take an objective look at their business, their services, and their brand. What do they do better than you? How will that affect your branding? Do you need to compensate for that weakness, or display it proudly?

58. What are you better at than them? Which of your strengths can you emphasize in your branding to give yourself a competitive advantage?

59. What colors do they use in their brand? Pay attention to the colors your competitors are using. If they’re all using similar color schemes, it could be because your audience prefers those colors. You also want to make sure you don’t use the exact same colors as a competitor and confuse your audience about who’s who.

60. How would you describe the design style of their brand? Is it modern, conservative, futuristic, or funky? How does their style compare with what you’ve learned about your audience’s tastes? Do you need to adjust your style to connect with your audience at a deeper level than they do?

61. What kind of Internet marketing presence do they have? Do they seem to be everywhere, or do they barely have a functional website? Does that make it easier for you to launch your brand online, or more challenging?

62. Are they trying to attract an audience from a specific geographic area? Are they targeting a local, regional, national, or international audience? Where do they have gaps in their coverage that you could fill?

63. How active are they in promoting their brand? Is their brand a household name in your industry, or has nobody heard of them? How can you position your brand as the leader in your niche?

64. Does your niche have a national or regional trade association? Are they a member? Trade associations are great sources of research on your niche. Many of them have online membership databases that let you view the websites for each member, giving you a wider sampling of data.

65. What “voice” do they use in their branding? Do they communicate with their audience in a formal or informal manner? Does their style seem to be more conversational or professional? How does that compare with your brand?

66. How much of a “threat” are they as a competitor? Do you expect to be competing with them for the attention (or money) of your audience, or do they pose no threat to you? Is there an opportunity for you to position your brand as the leader in your niche?

67. What is their value proposition? Is the value they provide their audience obvious, or is it difficult to find? Can you do a better job of conveying value to the same audience with your brand?

68. What are they really selling? Just like you, what they offer and what their audience really wants may be two different things. Does it look like they understand this point, or is there an opportunity for your brand to outshine them in this area?

69. What is their style? Are they corporate or informal? Do they seem cold, distant, and mechanical, or do they seem warm, approachable, and human? Do you see any obvious reason they chose that style? How does their style compare with the one you’ve planned for your brand?

70. Why do you think their audience likes them? This is somewhat speculative, but do you notice a predominant reason their audience is drawn to them? Does that need to be addressed with your brand?

71. Is there anything they might have overlooked? Is there something they’ve overlooked in their branding you can capitalize on to connect with your audience better, and make them irrelevant at the same time?

72. How strong is their relationship with their audience? Is their audience highly engaged with them, or is there an opportunity for your brand to take the top spot in their audience’s mind?

73. How responsive are they? Do they keep their audience waiting and wondering, or are do they have stellar communication skills? How will you need to address responsiveness with your brand to be competitive?

74. Is what they offer readily available? Does their audience have trouble getting what your competition offers, or can they easily get their hands on it? How will you position your brand in relation to that level of availability?

75. What emotional need do they fill for their audience? Are they satisfying the core need their audience has, or is there room for your brand to provide a higher level of satisfaction?

Build a brand experience

76. Branding is more than just design and corporate identities. Branding is about the experience your audience has when interacting with you, in addition to the identity elements like your logo, colors, etc. Don’t just stop at developing the logo, build an experience if you want an irresistible brand.

77. Be accessible. Nothing frustrates your audience more than not being able to reach you when they have a need for what you offer. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you.

78. Build goodwill. If you want to build referrals and word-of-mouth advertising for your brand, you need to foster goodwill with customers and your general audience. This involves delivering positive experiences and being a good “corporate citizen” with your brand.

79. Create positive experiences. You can’t please everybody, but try anyway. Always do your part to give your audience the very best experience you can each time they interact with you. Give them the “rockstar treatment” and make them feel special.

80. Keep your word. If you promise something to a customer on a certain date, make sure you deliver on or before that date. Following through on your promises is important if you want a positive reputation for your brand.

81. Deliver more value than they expect. What can you do to surprise them with added value they weren’t expecting? It doesn’t have to be anything big. Making your customer smile is the goal. For example, I once ordered a pair of shoes from Zappos with standard shipping, and received an e-mail about an hour later saying they had upgraded me to express shipping at no extra charge.

82. Be a good “citizen”. Don’t be the type of brand that people only hear from when you’re selling something or want something from them. Contribute to the larger community by being a “giver” as well.

83. Show up. Don’t get lazy about your brand. If you want to build a brand that your audience respects as an authority, you need to put the work in to earn that respect. Be there when your audience expects you to be, and put your best effort into everything you do.

84. Try to help people. One of the most powerful ways to connect with people is to help them. If you can incorporate this into your brand, you’ll find your audience much more receptive to you. But your efforts must be based on a genuine desire to help. People can spot selfish generosity in a heartbeat.

85. Be generous. Don’t be stingy with how you share your time or talents. Incorporate a little generosity into your branding and it will help you build trust and goodwill with your audience.

86. Be gracious. You will encounter people who are rude, irate, or misunderstand your intentions. Be gracious in how you respond. By taking the “high road” you’ll gain the respect of your audience, and might even convert that rude naysayer into a true fan.

87. Cultivate relationships. Don’t think of your brand as a facade or decoration to what you do – that’s what paint is for. Build relationships with your audience if you want to foster brand loyalty.

88. Seek feedback. Let your audience know, in no uncertain terms, that you want their feedback so you can improve and serve them better. And when you get feedback, don’t be shy about letting your audience know you’ve acted on it.

89. Be honest. Most people instinctively know not to lie outright, but many more are willing to conceal facts or bend the truth to suit their needs. Once your brand’s reputation is damaged, it’s time consuming and costly to repair. Be honest with your audience and maintain their trust.

90. Encourage participation. Acting on the feedback of your audience in a public manner helps them feel like they’re involved. For example, Conan O’Brien recently made a public change to the opening credits for his show based on a YouTube video from a fan. You can check out the story here. Get your audience involved and they’ll quickly become fans.

91. Keep the big picture in mind. Always consider your overall brand in everything you do. Make sure that what you provide your audience, whether content, services, products, or free stuff serves to build your brand, not detract from it.

92. Relax. Avoid presenting yourself in a stiff, formal manner unless your audience is also stiff and formal. You want your brand to seem human and approachable, not cold and aloof. So relax a little and let your audience see your human side.

93. Have fun. Victor Borge used to say, “a smile is the shortest distance between people.” The same is true for your brand. If you’re having fun, your audience will sense it and start to have fun themselves.

94. Connect with people who can promote you. Tooting your own horn will only get you so far. If you want to gain exposure, build authority, and get more people interested in your brand, take the time to connect with people who can promote you.

95. Take the lead. Your audience doesn’t always know what they need from you, they just know they have a problem they need solved. Guide them. Help them understand how you can solve their problem or meet their need.

96. Always give your best. To help build positive experiences, always put forth your best effort. I once hired an attorney at the rate of $250/hr who kept overlooking important information I had already provided him because he was rushing through his work. Bring your “A game” to everything you do for your audience.

97. Be informative. Help your audience see you as a resource by providing them with information that is useful to them. Keep them informed of your progress on their project. Help them understand your niche and what you do. Educate them about what you offer.

98. Be accommodating. Everyone’s life is hectic these days. Sometimes the best way you can create a positive brand experience for a customer is to just be accommodating to their situation. Maybe they can only meet after hours, or need a few extra minutes with you to understand how to use what they purchased. Regardless of their need, if you make it easy for them to do business with you, they’ll remember it and tell their friends.

99. Be reassuring. Understand that when your audience buys something from you, they’re vulnerable to a certain amount of buyer’s remorse. Help them feel good about their decision by reaffirming the reason they bought it in the first place.

100. Avoid hard sell tactics. No one likes those “in your face” salesmen. If you get pushy about your sales, your audience will back away. Stay away from hard-sell tactics if you want to keep your audience interested and buying.

Now, implement

101. Be consistent. A key component to any successful brand is consistency. Always present yourself and your brand in the same manner in whichever media you’re using. That means using the same imagery, tone, style, and message in print, on air, in person, and online.

102. Develop a logo. Your brand needs an identifying mark. It can be artwork, nicely styled text, or a combination of the two – but create a logo so your audience can visually identify your brand.

103. Create a corporate identity package. You may never use them, but develop a business card, letterhead, and envelope design for your brand anyway. Doing this step will help you solidify the design style for the rest of your brand, and you’ll have the designs ready to go if you ever need them.

104. Use colors that convey the message you want to send. Each color of the rainbow conveys a specific meaning, and affects how people respond. Make sure the colors you choose for your brand will have the desired effect with your audience.

105. Use a design style your audience relates to. Your audience is likely to respond better to one design style over another. Use the research you’ve done on your audience to craft a style that resonates with them.

106. Choose a design style that enhances your credibility. In addition to creating a style your audience likes, you need to make sure your design strengthens your brand and its position in your niche.

107. Develop design elements that can be used on all your marketing. As you create your design style, develop specific design elements that will work across your whole brand to tie it all together visually.

108. Be original. Don’t try to copy what someone else did with his or her brand. Create your own style based on your research and your personality if you want to build a brand that’s interesting to your audience.

109. Let your “freak flag” fly. Don’t be afraid to infuse your brand with your personality. Your individual personality is what will make your brand unique and interesting.

110. Create a web presence that is consistent. Make sure your Internet marketing is inline with the rest of your brand. Build your website using the same design style and colors as the rest of your brand. Customize your social media profiles and avatars in the same way.

111. If you struggle with creativity, find help. Your brand will be central to your marketing, and will be at the forefront of your audience’s attention. If you’re not good at creative thinking, invest in some outside help. You’ll enjoy better response to your brand with a professionally designed style than something you settled for because it was the best you could do on your own.

112. Keep your audience at the center of all you do. Never lose sight of your audience and their needs. Without them, your brand is worthless.

113. Get specific with your style, right down to fonts. The style you craft for your brand needs to be specific and detailed. You should drill it right down to the specific colors, fonts, and even paper stock you plan to use. Being that specific will help you maintain your branding down the road.

114. Create a “creative standards manual”. A creative standards manual is a simple document that spells out the design details of your brand. This manual becomes indispensable for making sure your branding is consistent when you need to hire a different designer, printer, or other creative services company.

115. Be mindful of your stage presence. Whenever you’re in the public eye (in front of your audience), make sure you present yourself in a manner that’s consistent with your overall brand. Never make the mistake of diminishing your brand or damaging your credibility by getting careless with your actions.

116. Use the language your audience uses. If your readers use industry jargon, you should too. On the other hand, if they’re confused and annoyed by industry buzzwords, shape your copy accordingly. Make it easier for your audience to understand what you do by using the same terminology they do.

117. Never roll out a new brand in stages. Conducting business with part using your old brand, and part using your new brand will confuse your audience. Wait to roll out your new brand until you can rebrand everything with your new look.

118. Don’t try to promote more than one brand to the same audience at the same time. Again, promoting multiple brands to the same audience will only serve to confuse that audience. Pick one brand to move forward with and promote that.

119. Develop brand ambassadors. Put extra effort into encouraging, educating, and supporting members of your audience who send you lots of referrals. They are your brand ambassadors and are better at developing quality leads for your business than a sales team.

120. Never settle for good enough. Mediocrity is the cancer of branding. As soon as you start to settle for “good enough” instead of your best, your brand will begin to decline. Always insist on excellence.

121. Be informal. Remember that people buy from people, even in the business-to-business world. Make sure your brand doesn’t distance you from your audience. Instead, focus on building a brand that’s warm, informal, and inviting to your audience.

122. Don’t go overboard. Some people take the advice to “be unique” too far and create things like business cards that don’t fit in any Rolodex or cardholder, or promotional mailers that can’t be saved for later reference. Make sure your uniqueness is balanced with usefulness.

123. Adapt. Over time, your audience will grow and change. Make sure the brand you build will be able to grow with them if you want it to remain relevant.

124. Give your brand a face. There’s a reason corporations hire spokesmen and create mascots. Your brand needs a “face” your audience can connect with. That might be you, an employee, or a mascot you create, but you need to give your audience someone that can be the face of your brand.

125. Infuse everything you do in your brand. Your brand needs to permeate every aspect of what you do in order to have the desired effect. Make sure nothing slips through the cracks unbranded or displaying an old style.

Believe it or not, this list barely scratches the surface of tips for creating a brand. If you have a tip you didn’t see in this list, please share it with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Logan Zanelli is the author of How to Go from Boring to Rockstar in 30 Days, a course that teaches you how to build a unique style and become the “rockstar” of your niche.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Give Credit where Credit is Due

A few years ago, a story I posted on my Collective Wisdom site, received national attention. I was even quoted on the Wall Street Journal website,

Pretty amazing.

But there was a problem.

I didn't right the original story. I never claimed to have been the author. I simply used a story that was originally on the Fast Company website, added my two cents as an introduction and then posted the original story, complete with credits to the source and links to the original story.

My posting of the story really took off.

It ranked higher on Google than the original. And that's when people started getting lazy and not giving credit for the original story to the original source.

I spoke with the original author and even updated the beginning of my post to point people to the original source.

Here are some of the things you can do, and should do when you put someone else's words on your blog:

  • Include links to the source.
  • Include the by-lines, and names of the source.
  • Use a different font, or color to differentiate your words from those you are quoting.
  • Do NOT mis-quote your sources.
  • Include contact information that will help promote the person or source you are using.
Want to see how it works? Click here to visit ScLoHo's Collective Wisdom.

image from:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Social Side of LinkedIN

Last week, I was watching a video created by a friend of my Chris Sanderson who explains in very simple terms how to grow your relationships on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Brand & Build

Recently I was talking on Twitter with a friend of mine about an organization that he used to work for that I'm doing some marketing consulting for. The words Brand & Build appeared in a tweet I sent.

Some of you may wonder, what's the purpose behind all this social media stuff.

I have wondered at times too.

But over the past few years as I started sharing my thoughts and those of others on a couple of blogs, I was building a personal brand.

I have a marketing, advertising and sales background with a thirst for knowledge, touch of humor and an ability to look at both the BIG Picture and the little details.

Brand & Build.

Last month when I did my presentation to the J-Term students at Huntington University, many were surprised that I was able to easily uncover info about them. Nothing damaging, but some of the reactions afterward:

Our names are the heaviest things we will ever carry. Like a brand name or logo, we are always known by what is represented under our name. Like how the quote of mine was used in the presentation, people will now know me as a Listener fan. If they like Listener or not now may have an effect on how they view me. Whatever we put or name, or personal brand on, will follow us everywhere and we will be judged on it. It’s both a scary yet immensely powerful tool.

Here's another student:

I thought the presentation was very good! I consider it pretty scary that he was able to just pull all that information about us off social networking we use. Now that our names’ are all over the internet we need to be careful how we brand our-self. As we learned in one of the Youtube videos, things that are posted online stay there.

And a couple more:

I liked the presentation today because it showed us the type of branding we may need to use to get our brand or name out there. I also find myself a little uneasy to know that someone can find out all of these things he showed in class about us by the search of our names.

I agree with Drew about feeling a little uneasy about how easily we can be accessed. I know that I’m putting content on the pages and others can see them, but it was a little more of a reality check of how easily it can be done. I will definitely be more aware of what gets posted, especially in mind of future employers looking at my pages.

When I responded to their comments, I mentioned that they had the power to create their own Personal Brand and Build on it by being involved in creating their own Social Media presence. Just like I have over the years.

If you want to see the presentation I did for their class click here. It is best viewed in Full Screen Mode.

You are creating a Brand.

ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure will help you Build too.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding Love

Nearly 11 years ago I met my wife via an online matchmaking service. Neither one of us remember which one, but at the time it was considered a novelty.

Not anymore.

Here's some recent numbers regarding what we are finding via Social Media:

Social Media Not All Good All The Time

Results of The Harris Poll of 2,331 adults surveyed online between December 6 and 13, 2010 show that 40% of Americans have received a good suggestion for something to try as a result of their use of social media, 15% say they have made a connection regarding a job opportunity, and 9% say they have found a new apartment or house through their social media use.

Had Positive, Tangible Benefits, From Being Active On Social Media (Base: All Adults; % Of Respondents)

Yes (Net),

Yes, frequently

Yes, on occasion

No, never

N/A do not use

Received a good suggestion for something to try






Made a connection regarding a job opportunity






Found a new apartment or house






Source: Harris Poll, January 2011

While 65% of U.S. adults are using social media and say they have received a positive benefit from its use, younger Americans claim positive benefits as a result of their social media use much more often than do older adults. 59% of Echo Boomers (those 18-33) say they have received a positive suggestion for something to try from their activity on social media, compared to 44% of Gen Xers (those 34-45), one third of Baby Boomers (those 46-64) (34%), and just one in five Matures (those 65 and older) (19%). Similarly, one quarter of Echo Boomers have found a job opportunity through social media (24%), while only one in ten Baby Boomers say the same (11%).

Positive, Tangible Benefits, From Being Active On Social Media (All Adults By Age Group; % Saying "Yes, Frequently" Or "Yes, On Occasion")




Echo Boomers (18-33)

Gen X (34-45)

Baby Boomers (46-64)

Matures (65+)

Received a good suggestion for something to try






Made a connection regarding a job opportunity






Found a new apartment or house






Source: Harris Poll, January 2011

Despite all of the benefits people are receiving from their social media use, 43% of social media users say they have been offended by posts, comments or pictures they've seen, and 26% say that unintended persons have viewed links or comments they've posted. Only 7% of social media users say they have suffered the consequences of getting in trouble with school or work, or losing a potential job opportunity because of comments or pictures they posted online.

Had Negative Experience As A Result Of Being Active On Social Media (Base: Social Media Users; % of Respondents by Group Saying "Yes, Frequently" Or "Yes, On Occasion")





Echo Boomers

Gen X

Baby Boomers




Been offended by posts, comments or pictures I've seen








Unintended persons viewed links I posted or comments I made








Got in trouble with school or work because of pictures posted of me online








Lost a potential job opportunity because of pictures or posts I've made online








Source: Harris Poll, January 2011

Social media networks are increasingly offering privacy settings to combat negative experiences, notes the report. 78% of social media users agree that potentially negative experiences can be prevented through the use of these privacy settings, with three in ten strongly agreeing.

In addition, 71% of social media users are confident that their own privacy settings operate in the way they intend, but only 18% say they are very confident, while 25% say they are not confident. Only 5% of social media users say they do not use any privacy settings at all. Younger adults who use social media feel more strongly both that privacy settings can prevent negative consequences, and that they are confident in their own privacy settings.

Confidence In Privacy Settings Selected On Social Media Account(s) Function As Expected (Base: Social Media Users; % Of Respondents In Group)



Echo Boomers

Gen X

Baby Boomers


Confident (NET)






Very confident






Somewhat confident






Not Confident (NET)






Not very confident






Not at all confident






Source: Harris Poll, January 2011

The report concludes by noting that social media services have brought both good and bad for users, but there is a possibility that as more people use social media, and do so casually, that they will become less careful with their settings and the 7% who have suffered more serious consequences will grow.

For more information please visit Harris Interactive here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

4 Steps to Joining the Conversation

Friday's Guest Post is originally from

Entering Social Media the Right Way: Four Key Steps

In a recent post at Bazaarblog, Tara DeMarco reports on author Erik Qualman's concept of the "social media escalator." It's his design for the graceful entry of businesses into the social realm. According to Qualman, no one would walk up to a group of people at a party and say, "Excuse me ... Can we talk about why I'm great for the next five minutes?" But that's what far too many businesses are doing at social sites, he argues: They jump in and immediately begin selling.

Instead, Qualman suggests, businesses need to take these four steps to enter social media the right way:

Step 1: Listen. See what people are saying about your brand, your products and your industry before jumping in.

Step 2: Interact. Join the conversation in a way that adds value. "You have to contribute to conversations people are already having to gain an audience," DeMarco notes.

Step 3: React. "If 70 percent of people are saying they like something about your product, how quickly [are you] changing your product to deliver more of what they like?" DeMarco asks. Conversely, if people are talking about what they don't like about your product or brand, how quickly are you working to fix it? This stage is where many companies drop the ball, she notes.

Step 4: Sell. Now is the perfect time to seamlessly add in a little self-promotion. "If you're reacting to customer feedback to constantly improve your offering, selling will come naturally," DeMarco says.

The Po!nt: You, too, can master the social graces. Businesses can best enter social sites by listening, adding value to the conversation and responding to customer preferences. The final, selling stage then becomes a natural part of the process.

Source: Bazaarblog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Deliver Daily

Yesterday I touched on the Magic Secret of Success in Social Media.

Today I'm laying in on the line.

Do you want to be a player or an also-ran?

Most bloggers quit after a few months.

Same with Twitters.


Impatience, unrealistic expectations, and a lack of commitment are the top 3 reasons.

So to overcome those three reasons, you need to understand that there is a direct correlation between your level of activity with social media and the growth of your brand.

There is also a "natural timeline" where you can't rush things.

Face it, everyone of us filled our 24 hours a day before social media was around. And each of us have limited time to spend with social media every day and every week.

So, if you write and post 7 new blog posts on one day and do that once a week, odds are the results will be less than if you were to post one time each day, 7 days a week.

The 4 blogs that I own and update regularly are a living example of this.

Collective Wisdom is updated 3 to 4 times a day and last month received over 7,200 visits.

Really? is updated twice a day and last month received over 3,400 visits.

The site you are reading now, ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure is updated at noon, 5 days a week. 574 visits in the first 4 weeks.

The Not-So-Secret Writings of ScLoHo is updated every Tuesday and last month had 272 views.

This is why I recommend you post every day, at least 5 days a week.

By the way, I am also updating my Facebook and LinkedIn status at least once a day too, with a link to one of the blog posts.

Want some hints on how to manage this and still have a life? There are still a few openings for the Social Media Breakfast Fort Wayne gathering on February 22nd. Click here for details and to reserve your spot.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Magic Secret is...

Hard Work.

No, let's turn that around, work hard.

A couple of summers ago my wife and I ventured to Grand Lake in St. Marys, Ohio.

We were looking for an adventure and discovered the worlds largest man made lake that was dug out with hand tools, in the 1800's.

Creating a social media brand or persona, or business is much like digging that lake.

There are some automation tools available, but most of them are scams if you really check them out and I doubt they will produce worthwhile, lasting value.

Most of what you need to do is going to be done by hand, using legitimate tools, like scheduling blog updates, or scheduling updates to Twitter or Facebook.

And the most magic of all the secrets is: Be Real. There are enough scammers and spammers out there that if you start acting like one, you lose.

Seth Godin is a very successful marketing expert who grew to fame and fortune as an author and then via his online presence.

Seth has a blog that is updated at least once a day. I know that he writes ahead and schedules his blog posts. He does the work.

Seth announced last year that he was going to stop writing and publishing traditional books.

He wrote about doing the work recently on his blog:

No knight, no shining armor

"Sure, Seth can do that, because he has a popular blog."

Some people responded to my decision to forgo traditional publishers (not traditional books, btw) by pointing out that I can do that because I have a way of reaching readers electronically.

What they missed is that this asset is a choice, not an accident.

Does your project depend on a miracle, a bolt of lightning, on being chosen by some arbiter of who will succeed? I think your work is too important for you to depend on a lottery ticket. In some ways, this is the work of the Resistance, an insurance policy that gives you deniability if the project doesn't succeed. "Oh, it didn't work because we didn't get featured on that blog, didn't get distribution in the right store, didn't get the right endorsement..."

There's nothing wrong with leverage, no problem at all with an unexpected lift that changes everything. But why would you build that as the foundation of your plan?

The magic of the tribe is that you can build it incrementally, that day by day you can earn the asset that will allow you to bring your work to people who want it. Or you can skip that and wait to get picked. Picked to be on Oprah or American Idol or at the cash register at Borders.

Getting picked is great. Building a tribe is reliable, it's hard work and it's worth doing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's #FF All About?

Twitter Time:

What's this #FF thing I see on Fridays?

#FF is short for Follow Friday. The concept behind Follow Friday is to:

  • Recognize those that you enjoy Following on Twitter by mentioning them.
  • Discover who your friends are following, because you may want to follow them too
#FF can be used as a list of random people you follow, or to make it more valuable you can:

  • Group similar people together. Like #FortWayne #FF @kmullett @TechSavyLender @awelfle
  • Do Individual #FF with a reason. Like #FF @TheAFWBlog to stay on top of #FortWayne news and info
Try doing a few #FF this Friday!

And if you see some #FF tweets from people you follow, check out some of the recomendations and you may find some new friends to follow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fixing Facebook?

On Facebook?

Worried about security?

You should be. has this tip:

If you’re an avid Facebook user then there’s one new feature you’ll probably want to enable straight away – the option to login, browse and do all your social networking worry-free, using a secure HTTPS connection to the server.

Facebook previously used HTTPS to handle logins, but from then on the site reverted to a non-secure version. Using the new setting found in the Account Security area under Account Settings (look for Secure Browsing) the whole session will be encrypted and less vulnerable to hijacking.

Users considered to be most at risk are those who regularly login from public access computers and unsecured wireless hot spots. If you do regularly use Facebook from any public places then we’d recommend changing to the HTTPS option as soon as you can.

As a consequence of the secure connection, pages may take longer to load than usual. There are also a large number of applications that are not yet compatible with the HTTPS.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Alex Rice said: “Some Facebook features, including many third-party applications, are not currently supported in HTTPS.

“We’ll be working hard to resolve these remaining issues. We are rolling this out slowly over the next few weeks, but you will be able to turn this feature on in your Account Settings soon. We hope to offer HTTPS as a default whenever you are using Facebook sometime in the future.”