Social Media for Business

This week we are looking at whether or not it is important for companies to have a social media strategy.  I’ll even cut to the chase… it’s very important.  In fact, it is uber-important and for three main reasons.  The first is that people are out there looking for whatever it is you are selling and if you aren’t doing everything you can to connect with them you will go out of business because you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody else is!

The second reason is that people on the internet aren’t just looking, they’re talking.  They’re talking about what they like and even more of them are talking about what they don’t like.  This was dangerous enough a situation back when our chatting was limited to spoken conversation, but nowadays word-of-mouth can go viral in mere moments thanks to the ever-expanding links being formed by popular social media sites such as facebook, twitter, and youtube.

There is no shortage of ways for people to spread good will or animousity and if your company doesn’t have its ear to the ground your reputation can get used and abused without your even knowing it.  And that would be a shame, especially if you end up down and out, living in a box by the river.

Finally, social media has become a top way for companies to cut out a lot of the process in finding new employees.  Sites like LinkedIn provide companies with a massive talent pool to draw on.  Certainly the days of relying on placing newspaper ads are disappearing fast.

For these reasons it is crucial to have a well-planned social media strategy that involves listening to what is being said about you and steering opinions of you by creating compelling content to draw the interest of the public and to drown out any negative vibes.  Love it or hate it, life is lived on the net.  As an individual or a company, you ignore that fact at your peril.

For more information, watch this video!

4 Peas in a Podcast Movie Reviews

‘Personal Branding’ or ‘You Don’t Have To Be A Hooker To Be On Sale”

 

 

Branding.  Whether you are talking about branding an international corporation, a small business or an individual, the reasoning is the same.  It is about developing a coherent plan as to how you will present yourself, your product or your company  to the world with the goal of fostering positive associations and good vibrations (which ultimately lead to dollars).  In essence, it is about putting your best face forward… or at least your most marketable one.

Personal Branding is the art of selling yourself to the world.  Not in the biblical sense of course (unless that’s what you’re into, I’m not here to judge) but in the entrepreneurial sense.  It is about how you carry yourself, the image you present; both physically in our day-to-day lives and in the part of our lives played out on the internet.  (And for those of us pursuing a life in multimedia, that is a sizable chunk.)  What would you think if you were conducting an interview and the interviewee came in all disheveled and fifteen minutes late?  Whether there were valid reasons behind their condition or not would be almost irrelevant, the damage would be done and it would be unlikely they would get the job.

The same can be said about our web presence and how we manage it.  The majority of us have a presence on several social media platforms such as linkedIn, facebook or twitter.  Many of us even have personal websites and other webspaces.  Each of these is a little piece of you and people (ie. potential customers and employers) will judge you on what they see there.  So if your website looks disheveled or if you are constantly posting snarky facebook status statements, it will be noticed.  Conversely, if you pay conscious attention to developing a positive, healthy web presence with consistent branding that points to the best parts of you, this too will be noticed (and to more positive effect).

Personal branding guru William Arruda discusses his view  of branding in the video below.  He breaks it down into being about two things; who you are and what makes you of value.  This is basic marketing really.  If you are going to sell a product, figure out what is special about it and market that aspect.  We are all unique, but that can go unnoticed with 6 billion other unique people around.  Personal branding allows is to shine a light on our uniqueness and get it noticed.

 

 

A teacher  asked our class to consider whether we are  in favour of or opposed to personal branding.  That is like asking me whether I am for or against mountains.  It is irrelevant, because no matter my stance the mountains will still be there tomorrow.  Personal branding will be there too.  We WILL be googled.  We can’t stop it nor should we want to.  It is up to us then to play the game and use it to our advantage rather than let it work to our detriment.     It is a tool that we can use and it is a weapon that can be used against us.  Personally, I’d rather it were the former than the later.

 

 

Changing Words into Action, or, Oh God, This is Gonna Hurt

This is another article written for an Algonquin Fitness Zone newsletter.  It was written about the common New Year’s resolution to get in shape, but it’s really about making change and committing to it.  That’s a message which bears repeating.  Especially as this is the time that this year’s batch of Resolutions start to disappear from the gym and crawl back under their rocks.  (Don’t do it!!) Enjoy!

Ahhhh… January! It is the time of cold, snow and resolutions! As a new year begins many people look to make positive lifestyle changes. For many of those people, that decision leads them to a gym. Some of them are arriving there for the first time, some of them for the first time in years, but they all have one thing in common… they want to make a change in their lives. The nature of that change may vary from individual to individual (some may feel they are too big, while others may feel they are too small), but the details are unimportant. The common denominator is that their status quo is no longer acceptable to them.


I can relate to this as I made my first real foray into the gym as a New Year’s Resolution. I can even specifically remember the moment all those years ago that I stood in front of my mirror in residence and told myself that I could do better. Looking back I recognize that as a major turning point in my life, it was the day that my words began to change into actions. I would love to be able to tell you that after that moment every-thing was easy, that all the pieces fell into place and my workouts practically did themselves. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. I had only taken the first step of an endless journey, and the road ahead of me was paved with a lot of learning and more than a few awkward moments (ie. being stuck on a decline bench unable to lift the bar off my chest and having to roll it painfully up my torso just so I could sit up, but that’s not important right now). The truth is that it only takes a second to make a resolution, but living up to it takes effort every day. Recognizing the need for change is a critical first step, but it must be followed up by a commitment to making that change happen. Without commitment our words are just words, and just in case anybody has been mislead, words don’t do a lot of push-ups.


For every new Fitness-Zoner who has made it far enough to be standing here reading this newsletter, I applaud you and welcome you to the Fitness Zone! For those of you who haven’t, what are you waiting for?  It is a great gym with friendly staff who would love to give you a spot, answer questions or just talk shop. It is also important for you to know that this is YOUR gym! You have just as much right to be in here as the gorilla in the corner military pressing a squat rack and the yoga queen juggling kettle bells while running on the treadmill. Success around here isn’t measured by the shape that you are in but by the effort that you give. Now I challenge you to do the work. I challenge you to put in the effort and put in the time required to start your journey towards your personal goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your dream physique, but today is the day that you start.

P.S. If you have started and are thinking about quitting… you’re not allowed.

‘Social Media and the Job Hunt’ or ‘Don’t Look Now, But Somebody Changed the Rules!’

The Social Media Web

The Social Media Web

I can remember writing my first resume.  I painstakingly typed it out (Yes, on an actual typewriter.  Don’t mock me.) along with a cover letter and hand-delivered it to my prospective employer; Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream.  Well, those days are gone along with my habit of binging on 31 flavours  and an occasional ‘International Cream’ (They were laced with various liqueurs from around the world.  It was great.  You could be a rebellious bad ass and have ice cream at the same time.).

No, we live our lives digitally now and whether you like it or hate it, it ain’t gonna change.  The only winning strategy is to roll with the times and acknowledge that having a strong web presence across a variety of social media platforms isn’t just a bonus, it’s pretty much a necessity.  Sites like linkedIn, facebook, youtube and twitter are allowing people to find out about and connect with each other to a degree that would have been almost inconceivable just even twenty years ago.  (Some of us were still getting used to having a bank card back then.)

Upon graduation now, my best prospect for finding an employer or for having them find me, is to

Dan Schawbel of mashable.com has written an excellent article entitled ‘7 Secrets to Getting Your Next Job Using Social Media’ that provides a solid outline for developing and managing a social media-based job search strategy.  http://mashable.com/2009/01/05/job-search-secrets/ The 7 secrets he outlines are as follows:

  1. Conduct a people search instead of a job search
  2. Use attraction-based marketing to get job offers
  3. Be proactive on Twitter
  4. Capitalize on LinkedIn
  5. Advertise your brand using AdWords and Facebook Social Ads
  6. Construct a video resume and upload it to YouTube
  7. Subscribe to blogs that have job listings

Of particular interest to me is number 2.  This is a fundamental swing away from the classic job-search model.  Whereas I had to go out and pound the pavement for that first job, proactively seeking out employment, now the prescribed strategy is to have a well-planned and well-groomed presence on the web and use that to attract employers to you.  Businesses large and small are using sites like linkedIn as resources for finding just the right person to fill spots in their organization.  This change in the nature of the job market is explained here briefly in the following video.

“That’s great”, you say! You love social networking!  And it is great.  It’s never been easier to connect with people, or people that know people, than it is today. We have the whole world at our fingertips and that is an incredible resource.  There are perils though and we need to be aware of them.  Because just as easily as a potential employer can find your resume, they can also stumble across that picture of you from that night when you went to your buddy’s, got really hammered, passed out on his couch and he drew kitty-kat whiskers and the like all over your face.  Some employers may find that entertaining or think it shows your humanity, but don’t count on it.  It doesn’t mean that you have to whitewash your facebook account or go page-to-page untagging yourself, it is just a reminder that Big Brother may indeed be watching!

‘Motivation in Exercise, or ‘Come on baby, light my fire’.

This is an article I wrote for the Algonquin Fitness Zone newsletter.  (Memberships at excellent rates, only $130 for four months for full-time Algonquin students.  Get ’em while they’re hot!)  I should point out that it is also this month’s front page article, but I’m reallllllly humble, so I won’t do that.

As I sat there it was minus 20 degrees outside… minus 31 with the wind-chill.  My couch was comfortable and warm.  It whispered seductively in my ear… ”stay home!”  The cold wind blasted against the window.  It screamed at me… “Stay home!”   A moment of uncertainty followed as I weighed my options.  Then a deep breath was followed by a long sigh and leaving my indecision behind, I stood up, bid my uber-comfy temptress goodbye, grabbed my warmest toque and headed towards the door.  I was going to the gym.

As I crossed the threshold of the doorway, bundled up like I was going to spend a month in the Arctic, I started to wonder about what had gotten me out the door.  What is the difference between doing it and not doing it?  What provided the spark?

The answer ofcourse, is motivation.  Motivation is the force that drives us, that spurs us, that urges us on to greater things.  It is also arguably THE most important component of any training regime.  You can have the time, the knowledge, the equipment and everything else, but if you don’t want it bad enough to actually do it, you’ve got nothing.

So, where does it come from?  How do you get it?  Can you buy it in a bottle?? Sadly… no.  It is trickier than that because different people are motivated by different things, so what might light my fuse might not work for you.  Still, a good starting point is to try and figure out what motivates you.

Social Needs Theory

Psychologist David McClelland suggests in his Social Needs theory that individuals are motivated by three different basic needs; achievement, power and affiliation.  The type of motivation that we lean towards is a product of our upbringing and experiences and most of us actually exhibit a mix of the three.

A person dominated by a need for achievement likes to accomplish things and is most successful when their program has goal-setting incorporated into it. They are also often motivated by competition, both against themselves and others.  Often they gear their training around events such as bodybuilding competitions or triathalons.

Individuals who are predominantly motivated by power have a need to be influential and are motivated by prestige and recognition.  This type of person may enjoy being seen as the fittest, biggest, strongest, or most dedicated person at the gym.  They can be more focused on the end result than the process of getting there.  This is the most dubious of the three types of motivation as it involves not only the person themselves but their impressions of and the attitudes of the people around them.

Those who are motivated by affiliation enjoy being a part of something.  They know that all the coolest people are at the gym and they want to be there and be part of that too.  For them to be most successful in their training they have to find ways to take advantage of that.  This person might consider joining a team or doing a fitness class.  They might also do well with a workout partner as their responsibility to each other and the ‘team’ would help keep them committed!

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

A discussion of motivation wouldn’t be complete without considering intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.  An example of extrinsic motivation would be promising to buy yourself a new pair of sneakers if you stick with your workout plan for a certain period of time or reach a certain goal.  This is perfectly fine but will probably only be viable for short-term goals.  At a certain point your motivation needs to come from somewhere deeper.

Intrinsic motivation on the other hand comes in the form of the positive feelings you have when you work hard, achieve goals, etc.  While a new pair of Nikes is an awesome prospect, the feeling that comes from sticking with your workouts and achieving your fitness goals will last long after your sneaks are in the trash!

Conclusion

The information in this article is by no means exhaustive.  Rather they are some bits and pieces intended to make you more aware and give you a starting point for further discovery (more information is only a Google away!).  At the end of the day, the best motivational tool is whatever gets you active and keeps you that way.   So try some different things, see what works and go with it.  And if anybody wants to motivate me by buying me some new sneaks, feel free!

My Favourite Blog

This week’s assignment asked us what our favourite blog is, why it is good and why people read it.

My favourite blog is found at http://failblog.org/.  It is not a technical page.  It is not an insightful page.  It doesn’t instruct, guide or inspire me to greater heights in my personal or professional life.  Still, I believe that it satisfies a basic need in the human psyche; that is the need to feel superior to someone.

There are all kinds of places around the web where I can find the blogs of incredible people doing incredible things.  I can read the words of missionaries in Africa.  I can learn from NASA’s rocket scientists.  I can study the motivations and actions of a high school student fighting for human rights in China by leading a letter-writing campaign.  I can even gain insight into the creative process by reading the blogs of some of the most creative musicians/artists/designers on the planet.  I can… but I won’t.  It’s not that I don’t want to learn, grow or evolve as a person, because I do!  (Well, most days anyways.)

No, the sad truth is that while awesome, talented people are great, they are also kind of irritating.  I mean, have you ever known someone who was good at everything?  I’m talking about the type of person that wins the math award, the english award and is the captain of the whatever-impresses-you team?  For the purposes of this blog we’ll call this person ‘Captain Awesome’.  And while they certainly have an abundance of greatness to share with the world, I personally always end up feeling inferior afterwards.  After all, when compared to Captain Awesome, many of us fall a little short.

This is where failblog.org comes to our rescue.  Rather than bombarding us with excellence, which would inspire us to set lofty, unattainable goals and set us up for disappointment, failblog reminds us that even if you have some pretty idiotic moments (and we all do), there are always people out there that will make you look like a genius in comparison.  Consider the hair salon sign below.  Somebody actually thought is was a good idea. Knowing that they are that stupid and that I am not is very reassuring.  And the next time I run into a door or say something truly bone-headed I will be able to deal with it, because hey, at least I didn’t give my business a name that inspires images of Cameron Diaz and her special hair  ‘mousse’ in ‘There’s Something About Mary.”

failblog.or case #1

Failblog showcases examples of stupidity in all of its myriad manifestations.  Case #2 is another solid example of ‘I may be an idiot, but at least I’m not this guy.”

If at first you don't succeed...

Tell me honestly that you don’t feel better about yourself than you did before you started reading this article and I’ll call you a liar.

There are other reasons other than the ego-stroke that contribute to failblog.org’s popularity though.  One is that it is community-based in that it allows anyone to upload and contribute.  This encourages users to be involved and engage themselves.  Thus rather than being a one-way line of communication,  it is an interactive process that allows users to invest themselves in the site.  This higher level of involvement will bring them back to the page time and time again.

It is also possible to vote on individual submissions to determine the subject’s degree of failure.  That is nice, because while it is enjoyable to bask in someonelse’s stupidity, it is even better when we can tell them just how stupid they really are.