How can the Silent Majority Unlock your Bottom Line?

Silent Majority

The Silent Majority

Do you remember “The Silent Majority”? While the phrase has been around for a very long time, it was popularized by Richard Nixon in 1969 in a speech, and also referred to by journalist Theodore White as the “mute masses.” In a different context, this phrase also represents the voices you hear (or don’t…) on social media. Research shows that almost 90% of what you hear there comes from less than 30% of the most vocal users….and they are different from the the quieter folks that make up the bulk of your online audience.

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Co-working and #H2H

Citizen Space, a coworking space in San Franci...

Citizen Space, a coworking space in San Francisco, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the U.S. Census, more than half (51.6 percent) of all businesses that responded to the 2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) were operated primarily from someone’s home in 2007. Just over 72 percent are sole proprietorships.

What does this mean?
It means there are a lot of us sitting in a room by ourselves a lot of the time.  When the need to focus is keen, this can be really helpful. However, we are human beings, and none of us operates all that well in a workplace vacuum.

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A Prairie Dog Place

English: A black-tailed prairie dog at the Nat...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always found pictures of prairie dogs popping up from their burrows to be hilarious. There’s something about the idea of this small animal getting a better view of its surroundings that just makes me smile. This made me think of some experiences I’ve had lately with smaller local businesses.

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What am I part of?

I use a lot of different tools in my work every day, as I’m sure you do. Like many computer-bound professionals, I use Microsoft Office apps like Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, and Excel (although I have had a hard time
getting used to viewing Excel more as a tool and less as an adversary, but that’s another story…). I use more than one Internet browser, since each provides different kinds of efficiencies. I use a to-do list app, a social media monitoring tool and a couple of analytics tools, and I use Evernote for all my note-taking and snippet needs…oh, and Windows Media Player for tunes (as a former pro musician, music helps me focus).

As a user of each of these, am I part of a community of experience for each of them?  Well, kind of.

Do I think of myself as a REAL card-carrying Member of these communities of experience (whatever that is….)? Not so much…until I need help or want to try something different with any of the tools.  Then I search diligently for where the associated community hangs out online and look for some guidance.

No one I know has the time to  play around with tools and services to force something. We all have timelines and milestones, and most of us want to go home at 5 PM. If someone else has done it first and better, I want to find out how they did it and model that behavior….not ‘hunt-and-peck’ around it until, hopefully, eventually, maybe I stumble across the right way to do it.


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Listening is Visual

Recently I had the privilege of spending several hours with some new members of the community I work with.  The scenario was a bit backwards, as


Listening (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

their particular community is a couple of decades old and I’ve only really known them for several months, but we are “new to each other”, so to speak.  It was a LOT of fun and extremely educational.

The first part of the meeting consisted of time set aside for me to make a presentation that I had worked on for a couple of weeks and spent some time rehearsing. I went over it again on the plane to the meeting and once more for good measure a half hour before the meeting began.  Upon entering the meeting room, I noticed no projector….um…..OK. The lead at the meeting told me that, since I was the only person with an actual presentation, they had decided not to have a projector.

First Thoughts in a New Community

2012_09_17 Community Management IMG_0841

2012_09_17 Community Management IMG_0841 (Photo credit: joelogon)

OK, so I’m stepping away from the fire hose for a moment. I’m today wrapping up, if that even makes sense when you’re on the road, week #5 in my new gig as Senior Community Manager at SDL. Collecting and prioritizing my thoughts and experiences will likely take some time, if only because so many of them do not categorize very simply.

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A Successful Community Manager

My communities

My communities (Photo credit: steven w)

I was asked a really great question recently: what is a successful community manager?

I have a pretty well-formed idea of the answer, but had never articulated it before.  My first reaction was to stay away from any kind of description of the community manager him/herself. I feel that a successful community manager is evidenced by the community they work with and for.

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Another milepost on the journey

Yesterday I officially graduated from the University of Washington with a Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) degree.Jeff graduates from UW I have a huge number of people to thank for “holding me up” when I was ready to fall and joining me on the journey.  The two primary people I want to thank are my spouse and partner, Carol, and Hanson Hosein, director of the MCDM program (pictured here handing me my diploma). This would have been impossible without them.

Of course, while a signature event, the degree was never really the point.  It has always been about the journey, and this has been a doozey. A few years ago I realized that I had reached the limit of what I could do with my existing set of skills and framework of understanding.  I considered going for an MBA, but thought better of it for a few reasons.

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Print (Not Print)

DORCHESTER, MA - MAY 4:  A man walks by the fr...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

…with apologies to Was (Not Was)

Newspapers are signposts of their constituents in so many ways. Just take look at the difference between the Seattle Times, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register and the Boston Globe (the paper/site I took a look at for this post).  Each has top line focus on local news, but the Register does not have a link to national/global news on its front page. They choose to stay purely local.

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Is this a good activity?

brian regan, again

Image by Malingering via Flickr

I am a big fan of the comedian Brian Regan.  He is the only artist I’ve ever seen from which I came away physically in pain because I was laughing so hard.  In one of his bits he tells about growing up in a household full of brothers who were, shall we say, “encouraged” by their mother to go outside and find a “good activity”.  Activities discovered were more or less not totally destructive…hilarity ensues.

Anyway, this thought always comes to me when I sit down to write. Although I can sit for long periods of time and spin out stories and opinions to friends and family, when I am confronted with a screen and a blank page, my mind goes into Choke Mode.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that I’ve read so much great stuff from my colleagues and others that I follow across the web that I feel stymied about what I have to contribute.

This morning I ran across a post by Tac Anderson entitled “How to Blog a Lot” that, for some reason, pushed me over the edge (at least for today…).  His guidance is a little self-referential: in order to blog a lot, you should blog a lot.  A kind of “practice makes perfect (or at least better)” methodology.

Great advice. However, I, like most everyone who works with some kind of PC sitting in front of them all day, spend most of the day responding to e-mail, creating presentations, working on documents, attending meetings, Tweeting, etc.  In other words, taking the time out, as Tac suggests, first thing, going over the daily news and posts and then writing about what I find takes a discipline I haven’t really cultivated yet.  I guess part of my hesitation has to do with the organizational expectations around e-mail.  I have, in the past, tried to remind my colleagues (and myself in my more hassled moments) that e-mail is designed to be asynchronous and that it is unlikely that, if I do not respond to a particular mail for an additional 30+ minutes, the world will end or someone will die….just take a deep breath and allow myself to do something that may contribute to the conversation in the greater community that is the Web.  Then I can jump into the swamp-like morass that is daily e-mail.

So I guess this is a good activity……

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