The Struggles with Being “You” in Your Business

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”  – Steve Maraboli.

 

Easy enough, right?

 

A while back I wrote about how to be more “you” in your business. Now that you’ve found a way, I imagine you might be finding an element of struggle with it. Being yourself in your business is not an easy task. There are roadblocks you are going to come up on and unpleasant discussions will creep up fast. Despite any bad there may be in being yourself, nothing can trump the feeling that comes with knowing who you are, knowing you are being genuine, honest and authentic in your business. There are four struggles I see with being “you’ in your business –

Struggle #1 – Will I be taken seriously?

This is something all business professionals deal with. Depending on the industry you work it, if you’re too rigid, then you’re a <expletive>. If you’re too fun or out-going, you’re seen as a flake. What you need to do is look at who you are. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not – you will only end up miserable. Do keep in mind your workplace – you want to be taken seriously, so you still need to conduct yourself in a professional manner, but you can do that and still be yourself by –

  • Being honest – don’t EVER lie.
  • Have fun, but still be serious and get the work done.
  • Respect those in authority positions. Don’t treat your boss like he’s your drinking buddy (even if he/she is after hours).

 

Struggle #2 – Will it be seen as “bad marketing” and hurt my brand?

There are some individual brands (think: celebrities) that attempt to “be themselves” to the point you can see right through the publicity stunt. Being yourself will only attract the ones you want to work with and deter the ones you don’t want. If you are genuine, people will see that and work with you because of it. Rarely is being yourself seen as “bad marketing.”

 

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  – Bernard M. Baruch

 

To keep being yourself and not have it backfire or hurt you, keep these things in mind –

  • Be tactful.
  • Be conscious of who you are and what you represent. Don’t ever waver from your core beliefs.
  • Watch your language. You can still be yourself without using cliches and foul language.

 

My friend Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media wrote a great post about when being yourself could be seen as “bad marketing.” I suggest you check it out.

 

Struggle #3 – Will people find me offensive?

This is something I struggle with personally. There are things I want to say or discuss publicly, but I won’t because I know I’ll offend people. Petty, yes, but you do not want to alienate your community. You can still be yourself and interject your thoughts and beliefs without offending people.

 

A typical cop-out is when someone says “I don’t mean to offend, but…” Almost always an offensive sentence follows. Don’t post that. Ever. I’ll be honest – when you are yourself, you will offend someone. It’s going to happen, but how you react says a lot about you as well. Don’t apologize for standing up for your beliefs (whether it’s political, religious, parenting-related, etc.), just recognize that sometimes people just have to agree to disagree. I’m not going to touch on offending someone by posting slurs and other slanderous statements. There simply is no place for that online or really, anywhere.

 

“Never complain, never explain. Resist the temptation to defend yourself or make excuses.”  – Brian Tracy

Struggle #4 – How do I keep from crossing the line of “too much”?

We’ve all seen the celebrities and athletes who share pictures that probably shouldn’t be shared, in the name of personal branding. Being online, there’s a temptation to reveal all. You shouldn’t, not because of bad business, but because of personal safety. It’s risky putting yourself out there – however rely on your instincts when it comes to being yourself. You’ll know what feels right and what doesn’t.

 

To keep from crossing the line, do the following –

  • Ask yourself if the post helps to further your business.
  • Ask yourself if your grandma would be okay with it.
  • Sense what your gut is telling you – are you leery about posting it? If you feel the slightest off about it, don’t post it.

 

It’s tricky to be yourself in your business. I see it as walking a tightrope – you have to be open, yet guarded. Open-minded but not abandoning your beliefs. I think I’m doing a fairly good job at it, how about you? What do you struggle with in being yourself in your business?

Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

What would you do if you knew your teenage son or daughter was sending nude photos of themselves to teens of the opposite sex? What if those photos were posted to Snapchat or Instagram?

 

If you’re like me, you would be absolutely furious and enraged.

 

But this is happening each and every day in small towns, large cities, public schools, private schools, and yes, even Christian schools.

 

You think you raise your children right, teaching them right from wrong, but once they get a smartphone and social media in their hands… well, sometimes what you teach them fades into the background in favor of acceptance and validation.

 

Four years ago I wrote an article about how withholding social media from your children does not make you a bad parent. I thought it was time to revisit the topic of children/teens and social media.

 

My oldest daughter is 13. She has Snapchat and Instagram. However, we set the passwords and she has to leave her phone available for us to check it spontaneously whenever we want. That was the deal. I can log in to her social accounts on my phone and see what’s going on. So far, so good.

 

However not all parents are vigilant like that. They give their kids smartphones and let them open social media accounts and never take a second look. Many of the girls in my daughter’s seventh grade class have ‘Finstas’. Not familiar with Finstas? They are fake Instagram accounts where they hide their identities and post horrible, derogatory things about their classmates – or posts that are inappropriate for their public-facing accounts. They are selective in who they let follow them because of what they post. And their parents have no clue.

 

Snapchat isn’t any better. I will say the majority of what they do is send daily streak snaps to keep days-long streaks going with their friends. Many of these are a blank screen with the word ‘streaks’. However, what gets sent via group snaps and individual snaps cannot be seen by the general public. That is where a lot of this takes place.

 

Why is all of this happening? Why are kids acting like wild college kids on social media? To put it simply – they have parents that are not checking behind them. They are not being held accountable to their actions. Parents want them to fit in so badly, that they let them do what they want on social media with no recourse.

 

Do they realize that some of things they post can get them suspended from school? Or hurt their chances of getting into college? Or even a job?

 

No.

 

Why is that? Parents are not educating themselves and their kids about the dangers of social media. My daughters are out of luck there. With a mom who owns a digital marketing company and a dad that is a Prosecuting Attorney for the state… let’s just say their every move is watched.

 

According an article from the New York Times last year titled The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers, “Even though 86 percent of teens say they’ve received general advice around online use from their parents, researchers at Common Sense Media found that 30 percent of teens who are online believe their parents know “a little” or “nothing” about what social media apps and sites they use. And yet, teens still say that their parents have the biggest influence on determining what is appropriate and inappropriate online.”

 

If parents would take the time to educate themselves on social media and the potential danger it can bring, most of what’s going on with children and teens on social media wouldn’t be happening. Parents are not being vigilant enough. These are our precious children and we should protect – and educate – them as long as we can.

 

Being vigilant may look like we are being nosy or being a helicopter parent, but if we are not monitoring their social actions, no one is. Here are five reasons you need to vigilant:

 

  1. You are protecting them from strangers and others who are out there to prey on our sons and daughters. Even with all the internet-nanny programs and account restrictions, that still wouldn’t stop a predator from seeking out your child. If you want to know if this really happens, I can let you talk to my husband. He’s prosecuted many cases over the years where the under-age victim was lured via social media. Just because that Instagram account says they are a 15 year-old from a high school in the next town over, it doesn’t mean they really are.

 

  1. You are protecting them from cyber-bullying. Being a teenager is hard enough without the technology, they don’t need the burden of the online bullying to hurt their still-building self-esteem. Our kids need to find their self-esteem and validation from their parents, their church, and healthy friendships. Not social media.

 

  1. They post content without thinking. Some of this content may hurt them (or haunt them) on down the road and/or hurt a friend’s feelings. Children and teens (and even some 20-somethings) are not mature enough to understand the long-term ramifications of posting hurtful content and inappropriate pictures.

 

  1. Social media can wait – it’s not going away anytime soon. Kids are only kids for so long. Let them be that. Let 9 year-olds ride around on bikes. Let 12 year-old boys play baseball or football. Encourage your kids to be active and social – without an electronic device. Remember back to when you were their age.

 

  1. Not using social media to communicate at this age allows them to be taught the proper way to carry a conversation with others. I know teens (and college kids) who could use a lesson in that. With a generation that is texting the person next to them instead of talking or Snapchatting pictures instead of enjoying an event, the lesson of how to hold a proper conversation is being lost. Not to mention their writing. I cannot count the number of times I have told my daughter that “k” or “ik” (that’s “okay” and “I know”) is never an acceptable way to respond to a text message from me or anyone else.

 

A study from Common Sense Media found teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework.

 

The world is a scarier place now than when we were all kids in the 70’s, 80’s, or even the early 90’s. The amount of information and the immediacy of communication at their fingertips is outright frightening.

 

But if we as parents are vigilant about our children and their technology – checking their text messages, checking their social accounts (that means logging in, not looking at what’s public), we can help our children navigate this and make it a more positive experience.

 

What are your thoughts/experience with this?

 

Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?

Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?

I probably shouldn’t confess this in public, much less put it in writing, but I hate Facebook. If I didn’t have my business, I wouldn’t be on it.

 

Why, when I built a business around it, you ask?

 

Despite the fact everyone is on it and businesses can benefit from that, Facebook is a place full of fake news, people portraying lives they do not live, ridiculous fluff posts, oversharing that goes beyond the boundaries of TMI (too much information)… I could go on.

 

Facebook is a wonderful tool for businesses to take advantage of to reach their target audience – that’s what I enjoy using it for. Helping businesses connect with people.

 

However I am starting to rethink the whole premise of that in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach. It’s all over the news, so I am not going to rehash all the details here, but in a nutshell, an analytics company got their hands on data from over 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or permission and used it to influence the 2016 US election.

 

Your information. My information. Your mom’s information. Your child’s information (if they are on Facebook). And it was all exploited to create highly-targeted ads to serve certain purposes.

 

So let’s see, in the past two years Facebook has been overrun by fake news, Russian trolls have run millions of dollars of ads to allegedly influence politics, people were allowed to run ads that targeted racist groups, and now a massive data breach.

 

As a marketer, we naturally encourage Facebook because that’s where the people are. Is it time for us to rethink that? Is it time to take a hard look at the marketing strategies we are putting in place for not only our businesses, but for our clients, and use a strategy that does not involve Facebook?

 

Blasphemous, I know, but I think the day is coming where we will have to consider social marketing options that do not include Facebook. I’m already exploring other options with my own clients.

 

Facebook use is down for the first time ever. In my honest opinion, it’s about time. Social media addiction is real and Facebook is the culprit.

 

When working with businesses, Facebook is always the first platform we look at and go to. Why? It’s the biggest and it’s because it is where everyone is. And it’s where the most data is available to run highly-targeted ads. Why is that? Let’s think on that a minute.

 

Think about all the information you put on your profile.

All the pages you like.

All the meaningless quizzes you click on and take.

 

All of that collects data about you. And that data goes back to Facebook to allow us to create those targeted ads.

 

Scary on the personal side, amazing on the business side. That’s how I describe it.

 

In light of the data breach, can you really trust a company that allows that to happen? A company that’s so focused on making money it has a real internal struggle going on. Sandy Paralikas, a former Facebook employee who worked there enforcing privacy and other rules was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The people whose job is to protect the user always are fighting an uphill battle against the people whose job it is to make money for the company.

 

Really? Making more money is more important than protecting information. Internally, Facebook is a hot mess. My friend and mentor Mark Schaefer had a great suggestion on how they can clean it up – go private. Everything that has ever gone wrong with Facebook all started when they went public and started having shareholders to answer to. As much as I do not like Facebook, I think this may be the right – and smart – move. They need to right the ship or they will sink, and sink fast and hard.

 

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg finally responded to the data breach. You can read his statement below.

 

And then later that same night (March 21), Zuckerberg went on-air on CNN and apologized for the breach, saying, “”This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples’ data.”

 

Is his response too little too late? Or just another Facebook bandaid?

 

Personal feelings aside, I put the best interests of my clients first and if it’s in their best interest to market on Facebook, then that’s what we do. The day may be coming when everyone may have to branch out and away from Facebook and we need to be ready.

 

In the meantime, if you are not already diversifying your social media marketing strategy and using other platforms, this is the time to start. Look at where else your target audience is and start working on your presence there. You should never solely rely on one platform.

 

Will this data breach affect your Facebook activity or any strategy for your business?

 

If you want another great read on this topic, check out Mike Alton’s post on The Social Media Hat.

Adapt Your Social Media Marketing or Fail

Adapt Your Social Media Marketing or Fail

Social media marketing is changing.

 

The way you post, what you post, who you target – the who, what, when, wheres – it’s all changing. If you’re not adapting how you use social media to market your business, you’re going to fail. And fail bad.

 

In the past year, here’s what we’ve seen:

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg folks.

 

In the beginning – way back in the early 2000’s – you could just post whatever you wanted on social media and people would see. Much like the movie Field of Dreams, where the main character was told, “if you build it, he will come.” And he built it, and he came. Now that was dealing with a baseball diamond, the Black Sox, and a dad, but the theory is the same. You could post on social media and people would see it, and theoretically, come to your page/store/website. There was no algorithm dictating who saw what.

 

Fast forward to 2018 and the landscape is vastly different. Everything is methodical. Everything is done purposefully. There is a science and a psychology behind social media marketing – and it’s changing.

 

People do not want to see sales pitches. They want to see content that matters and relates to them.

 

People do not want to see fluff (think of all of those stupid videos and gag-tastic memes/quotes/graphics in your feed). They want to see meat – content with substance.

 

People do not want to have their time wasted by a business posting meaningless “Share this to win a $25 gift card!” posts and their feed cluttered by 25 friends sharing it – which, by the way, is AGAINST FACEBOOK RULES TO DO. People want to see authentic content.

 

What are you posting online? What’s on your Facebook page right now? Instagram? Twitter? LinkedIn?

 

Put yourself in your follower’s shoes. Are you posting something that would make you stop and read it, or just scroll on by. Think about that for awhile and think about that when you post next.

 

Social media marketing is going through an evolution right now. It came on the scene, people exploited it, everyone became an “expert” on using it as a marketing tool (when very few are legitimately versed in it), and now as the tide is changing, everything is being sifted out. The fluff content is getting penalized on Facebook. The fake experts are being called out. Social media marketing is changing.

 

But how?

 

It’s all coming back to the nuts and bolts of what I call marketing 101. Relationship-building. And it’s not a one-way street. You have to be active and respond to everyone. Let me type that again – you have to be active and respond to everyone.

 

People have said they want meaningful, accurate, authentic, and informative content. Adapt your content as such. Stop the fluff. Post the content that will draw them in, make them act. Reach out like the human being you are and build a relationship through social media with your community. Use social media as the communication tool, like the telephone.

 

People want more personalized experiences, especially in retail (read more about it here). Use social media to tailor the experience they have with you to them. Feature customers. Congratulate customers.

 

AT&T way back in the day had an advertising phrase – “Reach out and touch someone.” Apply that to your social media marketing. Reach out to your followers and touch them. Create an emotional connection that will turn them into life-long customers. It’s all about the relationship.

 

Social media marketing is going to be like Darwin’s theory of evolution – the strongest will survive and those who adapt with outlive the rest.

 

So how are you going to adapt?

How to Determine Success in Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

How to Determine Success in Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

I’m going start with a statement you may not agreement with – your success when using social media for your business is not always going to translate into dollars and cents.

 

Yes, your return on your social media marketing will not always be money.

 

Let that sink in. If you think you are going to make thousands of dollars for your business by using social media to market it, you are wrong. The chances are very high that you won’t make anything – in terms of dollars and cents.

 

What you determine your return for using social media to market your business is is determined by what you define your ultimate end goal as being when you write your social media strategy. Your social media strategy should include WHY you are using social media for your business and WHAT YOUR END GOAL IS of those efforts.

 

Your end goal in using social media could be any of the following:

  • Increased brand awareness (this is the most popular reason businesses are using social media, BTW)
  • Building an online community
  • Generate Leads
  • Sales

 

Your success on social media will be determined on what that end goal is, compared to the results of your social media marketing efforts.

 

However, businesses are sorely lacking in actually measuring their social media marketing efforts. Many will post and never look back to analyze what worked and what didn’t, and what they can do better or different.

 

Measuring your social media efforts is different than measuring ROI on something tangible, say an expo event or a speaking engagement. When you look at ROI, you are looking at a return on your investment, and that almost always relates to money. Measuring success in social media marketing takes looking at many different factors and bringing them together like pieces of a puzzle. Some are easy to track, some are a bit harder.

 

Mark Schaefer wrote the book Social Media Explained a few years ago and in Chapter 6 he goes into explaining why you have to measure your social marketing efforts and activities. There were 4 points he made:

 

  • There is an implied value to everything.
  • If we are expending human effort, it should be justified.
  • If you’re not measuring, how do you know you are making progress?
  • There is no excuse not to measure.

 

I’d like to call your attention to numbers 3 & 4. First of all, I want to say AMEN to number 3. Seriously, if you’re not measuring what you are doing, how do you know if it is working at all? As for number 4, if you are given an excuse as to why you can’t measure what you are doing, well, that’s just a cop out.

 

Mark also points out in the book that not all ROI (success) is quantitative – some is qualitative. There are some elements you can measure but you can’t put a dollar value on it.

 

Let me share with you what I consider to be measures of success in social media marketing (and these are in no particular order).

 

Social Media Marketing Effort Benchmarks

  • Community Growth
    • Did you see an increase in the number of people in your community? Was there a decline? Why?
  • Engagement Levels
    • Did you provide quality content that inspired likes, comments, shares, retweets, pins, etc.? If so, you would measure that a positive, if not, figure out what didn’t work and try again.
  • Offer Redemptions
    • Did you post an offer for our community? How many people redeemed it? Did you receive any leads from it?
  • Contest Entries
    • Did your contest entries provide you with any leads or sales? Did it attribute to any community growth?
  • Clicks
    • How many people clicked through your content? It could have been a picture, link, ad, contest, etc. Did you see an increase in your click-thru rate over last month? NOTE: Make sure to check your Google Analytics as well on this one!
  • Overall Sales
    • How did you overall sales look compared to the amount of time you spent on social media marketing? Can you attribute any sales increases or decreases to your efforts?
  • Conversions (tracking pixels for ads)
    • Did you track any website conversions from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook ads? If so, was there an increase or decrease over the past month. NOTE: Check your Google Analytics too.
  • Subscribers
    • Did you see an increase or decrease in your email or app subscriber base? Was any of that a result of your social media marketing efforts?

 

As you can see, more than just how much money you made can go into figuring out if your social media efforts were successful. What you want to look for are positive increases each month, no matter how small those increases are.

 

Using social media to market your business is ultimately about relationship-building, building that trust and loyalty with your fanbase. The sales will come from that, sometimes sooner rather than later. But remember, you have to have a purpose in every action you take on social media – and remember your end goal at the same time.

 

So please share with me, how do you measure success in your or your clients’ social media marketing efforts?

 

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