Well, summer’s ALMOST a “wrap!” Being stuck inside for the “smoke-storm” here in the Seattle area this past month (“cough, cough….”), I got to spend a lot of time online gathering the best articles for you all. You will note they don’t focus on a particular platform or service, but more so on social media overall, content, and how small businesses best grow engagement online.
The fact that you probably don’t have full-time staff to manage your social and digital media marketing doesn’t need to hamstring your effectiveness. Right-sized resources (especially time..) and the right kind of assistance can really help you get your efforts to pay off. This article hands you so top level tips to implement, and you don’t even have to stay up all night!
I was asked recently to be interviewed on a podcast (of and for entrepreneurs and business owners…) of which I have been aware and have listened to a few times. Most of my familiarity with the content and tone of it, however, derived from my relationship with one of the co-hosts, Dan Weedin. Dan is a colleague, friend and fellow Rotarian, so familiarity bred a bit of lowered attention on my part, I admit.
Dan called recently and asked me if I would like to be interviewed for the Seattle Shrimp Tank podcast. It sounded like a load of fun, so I agreed.
Some of the things we talked about include:
Where did social media start, what’s going on with it today, and where is it going? (the short version!)
What is the importance of thinking about business goals, plans and strategies when considering digital marketing and hiring an expert to help?
How important is it to learn how to express yourself well online? What is the balance of listening, asking powerful questions, and understanding in developing an authentic and powerful online presence?
What else is there other than the “usual suspects” of social media (like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, Pinterest and the like)? Is there more there?
What’s the right frequency to post online?
…and so much more. Check out the whole podcast here, and the shorter video follow-up here. We covered a lot of great questions and concerns.
If this interview brought up other questions for you about your business and professional presence online, please reach out to me and also look for some other information that’s relevant to you on my site here.
In your life, how many times have you heard that phrase, either from someone else or your internal voice? Shutting out distractions like noise, devices or the torrent of thoughts and imagination that the Buddhist tradition has termed the “monkey mind” seems nearly impossible. We slap ourselves internally in some fashion, and try to refocus on the speaker. This can be just as jarring as the distractions themselves!
Mindful Listening is really not about attention. It’s about intention. Let me explain how I understand and experience the difference.
As an intelligent business owner and entrepreneur in the 21st century, you are already very aware of the importance of listening to your customers, prospects and audience (your Visitors / Audience / Customers / Community (VACC): you can read more about what this looks like here …..). “Listen” is, however, a word that is subject to as many interpretations as there are ears…
Going a bit deeper, what kinds of listening are there that you can leverage?
Definitions of types of listening are as varied as there are authors of articles, books and consultancies whose purpose is to guide you to a solution that works for you and your business….a solution that results in the kind of success you’re looking for: that loyalty-balance of relationship quality and profitability, with credibility overall. It’s kind of like a combination of “the right tool(s) for the right job” and a high-wire balancing act.
Since every conversation only has 100% of the time allotted for it, whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours or more, more listening requires less talking.
So what does more listening actually do for this relationship you’re trying to build?
It is the key to building trust.
In the face of the January announcement by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, a LOT of brain power has been focused on just what this means for business. One of the early analyses posited that live video, already a big player online, will become even MORE important. Hence the Video heavy listing with this month’s edition of the BEST!
Like any valuable effort, you need to plan and prepare. Making streaming video is no exception, especially when it can be portrayed as “point-click-talk” by casual users. Your resources are valuable, and you need to spend a BIT MORE up front to GET MORE in the return!
The articles, books and webinars / workshops focusing on communication (a term that is becoming more and more vague, actually…) are multiplying as rapidly as cat videos online, frankly.
Who to pay attention to? How many are publishing because it’s a way to get clicks, a way to push a new book or membership offer, and how many are really spending time standing upon the shoulders of the giants who have come before (or who are working now…) and seeking ways to execute on the most effective thoughts and frameworks to bring dialogue into our lives and businesses that will change things? Few have the time or patience to figure this out.
I must confess to being caught up in this myself. This goes way back for me, to my early days as a musician and composer. I have always been fascinated by how music can touch that part of a human being in a conversation that goes to a deeper place. We are simultaneously very complex and very simple. Truth, trust-building, the components, if you will, that comprise a close and meaningful relationship with someone are common across us all. While music is as individually interpreted as any other form of communication, the use of words can be more of a challenge due to internally established meanings and contexts for each person.
The complexity comes with what Anthony de Mello calls “our programming”. We are each utterly unique in our make-up and our experiences. As a result, how I react or “hear” something from you is quite likely to be different than how someone else does. Hence my focus on dialogue in all walks of life.
The best way to find out what your customers are looking for from you is ASK THEM, Right?! Well, that’s the message this week.
I’ve written frequently about the importance of really listening to your customers and acting on what you hear. Now you have your chance to participate, and I have a chance to “Walk The Talk”: I am announcing the first ever survey for my blog. The objective is to provide you with more of the kind of information and conversation you actually find valuable to you and your business.
As I look at the articles for this year that have been the most read, the Top Five are:
Loyalty, always a high-sounding word, is ever more in the news and on our minds.
Whether it’s loyalty to a sports team, a political cause or ideology, a leader, a brand, a long-standing relationship, a coffee shop, or the family doctor, we seem to be more concerned with it and discuss it more than ever before.
I’ve been doing (and continue to dig into…) research on loyalty. Specifically, I am interested in:
- What the drivers are for customer loyalty to businesses
- How these drivers relate to relationship and dialogue stages
- Factors / components that are online, off-line, and a blend of the two
- Other components or influences that I have yet to uncover
While this will not be the “Unified Theory of Loyalty” (with apologies to physicists everywhere….), I wish to come to a clearer understanding of what establishes, builds and maintains this stance in customers and people in general. Humans are complex, absolutely unique individuals who, nonetheless, exhibit certain related behaviors and tendencies. If this were not so, the social sciences would have to just fold up their collective tents and take up hospitality management.
As I continue to research this topic and make discoveries, I will be writing about them here first. The eventual end-product is likely to be a paper, some podcasts, a video or two….likely a combination of all of the above.
So stay tuned!
Now, having gotten the preface out of the way, let me get to the first bit:
Collaboration is the action-oriented manifestation of dialogue.
I had an online conversation with a colleague during which we each remarked on the current snapshot of busy-ness we have (summer can be notoriously slow, depending on your business…I think the ice cream parlors pick up, but I digress…) and some of the projects we’re working on. Then she offered to “hop on a call” and look at some ways we could collaborate. This caught me by happy surprise, as I’ve never met her face-to-face, since she lives a continent away.
Her suggestion immediately sent my imagination reeling in a kind of high, fuzzy way. By that I mean that I couldn’t think of what such a collaboration might look like immediately, but the chance to take part in it opens up unknown possibilities….which are always exciting! While the possibility may mean work for me that I might not have done otherwise (filling out my “bandwidth” for the week, for sure….) the value of that work would be at the top for me.
Collaboration, as I mentioned earlier, is conversation in action. The shared listening and thoughts, the enlightenment and discovery, the humor and evolution of opinion and points-of-view result in an end-point of sorts that could not have been gotten to any other way.
- Do you do this in your business?
July is upon us, and we here in the States are getting ready for our annual tribute to patriotism, fireworks and barbecues!
June was a bumper crop month for quality content across the digital marketing industry, and I’m only too happy to share the top articles I’ve read:
Facebook seems to get the attention from online sources (granted, cracking the 2 billion users mark is noteworthy…), but many of the businesses I speak with are still kind of scratching their head when it comes to LinkedIn. This top list of tips and tricks from Melonie Dodaro will get you to that next level of skill in using this great professional channel.
Sincerity and Trust have been the key components for strong customer and business relationships since forever. Building them online isn’t impossible, but it is different. This article introduces some areas of consideration about communication and how you do this. The line between communication and action is pretty clear.
Beyond getting found, your website needs to build and maintain your professional credibility. If you’re wondering how a website can do that, then you will find this article Laura Forer of MarketingProfs very, very valuable.
When I speak about online relationships, I refer to the mental model I call VACC (Visitors / Audience / Customers / Community). In this insightful article, Irfan Ahmad digs into how a business can approach this with Facebook Groups, an underutilized resource for most businesses. If you take this on, you’re ALREADY in the lead, since chances are your competition ISN’T doing it!
So, that post from last Tuesday blew the doors off in Shares and Comments! WOO-HOO!!!!! Now, how can you leverage what was obviously a Great Piece of Content again and take advantage of it’s quality and virality? Here are 5 ways to look at….
As a follow-on to the previous article, how do you take that premier article you’ve written and reuse (or “slice & dice”…) it in such a way that you can make the most of it. Here are nine ways you could repurpose it and reach oven more of an interested audience. Remember, everyone has a preferred way of communicating, and by doing this you are making practical use of that fact!