6 Ways to Improve Your Communication in a Changing Culture

6 Ways to Improve Your Communication in a Changing Culture

It’s about 7:00am you wake up to your alarm blaring, you reluctantly slunk out of bed and begin to get ready for the day. Before you even finish brushing your teeth you receive two texts from your friends about lunch plans, and by the time you walk out of the door with a granola bar dangling out of your mouth your inbox is jam packed full of promo emails, spam, e-newsletters, and the occasional important email from your boss. As you turn on the radio you catch the end of the traffic update, and begin to listen to the news of the day. Finally to top off the morning your mother calls you to inquire about your siblings, and if you heard about Aunt Myrtle. It is nearly 9:00am and you feel like you have had your fill of information for the day.

Our society is on communication overload. We are a part of a selective, on-the-go, plugged-in community. The root of our cultural change: technology.

Technology has made it possible to access bookoodles of information, and simultaneously made it extraordinarily easy for us to ignore it. So how are organizations able to communicate to audiences that won’t even venture a glance at what they have to offer? The answer is more effective, strategic communication.

Communication is essential to connectivity, without connectivity an organization can not thrive. These six tips can help you improve your communication and form connections with your audience.

Take the time to listen: People love to talk about themselves and their opinions. The trick is actually listening to what they have to say. Analyzing and acting on the feedback you receive can transcend your communication strategies.  

Be smart on how you release your information: Who is your audience? When and where are they more likely to be receptive to your messages? Throwing out a story on Facebook at noon because it’s convenient for you does not necessarily mean it is convenient for your audience. Investigating when they are most active on social media, and on which platforms they are most active will improve your reception.

Choose what information you want to communicate carefully: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something,”–Plato. Don’t be a fool. Plan out what information needs to be said, and what information you want to be said. Differentiating between the two is critical to the success of your messaging. You may be under the impression your audience won’t know the difference, but they do. Don’t become a slave to that fallacy.  

Keep it simple: People do not have time to sit down and read a 10,000 word article about the environment of fire ants in the Deep South. Keeping your communication short, sweet, and to the point gives you an advantage when reaching your audience especially if they are immersed in technology and social media and constantly on-the-go.

Be Transparent: No one enjoys being lied to or not being told the whole truth. Being clear and honest with your audience is invaluable when earning their trust and loyalty.

Be Creative: Being creative in how you deliver your information will capture the eye of your audience and you will more than likely gain their respect causing them to return.

 

Implementing these communication tactics will improve your reach and will equip your messages when wading through the information sludge.

Connecting with Customers & Clients via Social Media

Connecting with Customers & Clients via Social Media

Pinterest just hit 100 million users. Instagram tops 300 million. Facebook boasts over 1 billion. If you think you don’t have an audience on social media you’re wrong. If you’ve been told that social media just won’t work for you – you’ve been told a lie.

You do and you can.

Recently I gave a talk at a University of Georgia Small Business Development seminar about connecting to customers with social media. This is a frequent question that comes up when they consult with smaller businesses.

In my talk, I gave them 16 actionable ways they can connect, starting right now –

  1. Use Twitter Lists.
  2. Use Facebook Interest Lists.
  3. Use Mention or Google Alerts.
  4. Tag people and/or businesses in your social media posts.
  5. Start the conversation.
  6. Don’t fear the non-response or negative response.
  7. Be in it for the long-term.
  8. Don’t broadcast.
  9. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  10. Support the businesses you are targeting.
  11. RESPOND.
  12. Share your warm & fuzzies.
  13. Make use of white papers/webinars/free resources.
  14. Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.
  15. Look up local events and opportunities on MeetUp.
  16. Advertise on Social Media.

Also included were 2 case studies – JetBlue Airways and Denny’s. View the Prezi below for the full presentation.

What other ways would you add?

5 on the 5th - Jenn Hanford

5 on the 5th Interview: Jennifer Hanford

This month I want to introduce you to someone you may already know, one of our writers, Jenn Hanford. Jenn and I have known each other for a few years, having first met through the disbanded Social Solutions Collective. She has written on this site for over 2 years now and is just a fabulous person. She shoulders being an entrepreneur, mom, writer and community manager. So read on and get to know Jenn!

Name: Jennifer Hanford

Title: Senior Community Manager, B Squared Media, LLC; Freelance Writer

Company: B Squared Media and j+ Media Solutions

Website/Blog: www.jplussocial.com

Twitter handle: @jennghanford

Question 1: Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I’ll confess…I have been an Internet junkie for over 20 years now! I remember spending hours upon hours meeting and “talking” to people from all over the world, back when AOL chat rooms were really popular in the mid-90’s.

I didn’t get hooked on social media right away though. I joined Facebook in 2010 and Twitter in 2011 – only because I wanted to make sure I got on there before my kids did! Once I finally got started, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long! I felt like I had been living under a rock, and it was great to finally be part of the 21st century.

Career-wise, I was in the right place at the right time. My enthusiasm for using social media and online networking – coupled with an interest in blogging and writing – helped me get my first role as the online marketing director for the company I was working for at the time. It was within this role that I began learning about using social media for business purposes. It’s also where I began my business blogging journey. I saw how firsthand how social media and content marketing can help businesses grow, and I knew I had found my calling.

Question 2: How do you keep continuing your education and staying up on all the latest trends and changes?

I feel my education in social media and blogging has always been – and continues to be – an “on-the-job-training” experience. I read and curate many social media, digital marketing, and other relevant blog posts and articles every day. This helps keep me informed for my own writing, as well as keeping my online audience up-to-date.

Question 3: What do you love the most about working in your industry? What bothers you the most?

What I love the most about working in this industry is the ever-changing landscape of social media. I think that might be one of the things that bothers some people, but I personally enjoyed seeing how platforms evolve and become easier for people and businesses to use.

What bothers me most? Can I be honest and say SEO? As much as I like the changes in social media, the constant Google updates (Penguins & Pandas?!) and concerns about first-page rankings are tough to keep up with sometimes. I cope by writing as well as I can – and relying heavily on the SEO by Yoast plugin for WordPress.

Question 4: What is the hardest situation you’ve encountered in your business and how did you handle it?

In the short amount of time I’ve been in business for myself, I had to make tough personal decisions for the livelihood of my family, myself, and my business. With those choices, I ended up having to dissolve 2 separate business relationships, which was only made harder because I considered them friendships as well.

I learned a lot about how to toughen up as a business owner during the process of “breaking up.” As well, making each of those tough decisions has led me to my current career situation, which I truly love. I am happily doing the type of work that I enjoy the most, with three different teams and some awesome clients.

Question 5: What is the best business advice you’ve been given and why has it stayed with you?

My best business advice I’ve ever been given – although it applies to all aspects of my life – is to always be myself, no matter what. That advice came from my father, who was also an entrepreneur.

It was when I finally started taking his advice that everything good started falling into place. Funny how that works.

One for the road…

Bonus: If you could come back to life as any person from the history, who would it be?

I am truly unable to come up with only one person…I admire so many people from the past who possessed great talent and knowledge, and who have contributed so much to the world as we know it.

But..I have always had a fascination with the “Roaring Twenties” – like they portrayed in The Great Gatsby – with the carefree and decadent lifestyles some people enjoyed before the Great Depression.

I like to think I would have made an awesome flapper…I adore their hairstyles, their clothes, and especially their independent attitude.  

 

5 on the 5th - Ian Anderson Gray of Seriously Social

5 on the 5th Interview: Ian Anderson Gray

This month I want to introduce you to Ian Anderson Gray. Ian was someone I saw start popping up in my Twitter news feed via other people I follow and so of course I started following him! I got to know him via many Twitter conversations and admire what he’s doing in the UK. Read below my interview with Ian and then go follow him on Twitter!

 

Name: Ian Anderson Gray

Title: Founder of Seriously Social & Partner of Select Performers Internet Solutions

Company: Seriously Social

Website/Blog: iag.me

Twitter handle: @iagdotme

Question 1: Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I’ve always been fascinated by technology and used to write my own computer programs on my ZX Spectrum computer as a child. However I originally studied music at University and trained to be a classically trained singer at music college. Soon after I graduated, whilst I was singing professionally and being a singing teacher, I decided to set up a web agency with my dad (he had recently retired from his job). Originally it was more of a hobby and a part time job, but having kids some years back changed my focus and I decided to jump into the mad social media and marketing world with two feet. I also had the realization that I love social media and technology and I love helping and teaching people. Being a consultant as well as training and writing about a subject I love and having the flexibility to spend time at home with my family is just wonderful.

Question 2: How do you keep continuing your education and staying up on all the latest trends and changes?

It’s a tough issue in most industries, but particularly in the fast moving social media and technology world! I’m not a fan of the word “expert” or “guru” because we’re constantly learning, and there will never be an end to that process. I can’t remember who said this, but it could have been a scientist towards the end of his career that said that his “ignorance now had some kind of structure to it”. I also loved what Mark Schaefer said at this year’s Social Media Marketing World – “I’m not an expert, I’m a student”! So, firstly I give myself permission to not have to keep up with everything. I’ve tried that and failed miserably! However, there are some ways that can help. Firstly, I couldn’t do without Feedly. I use Feedly to keep on top of all my favorite blogs and news sites. I get notified whenever there is a new article and I tend to add it to my reading list by sharing to Evernote or Pocket. I also have a nifty IFTTT recipe that shares my Feedly reading list to my Twitter followers via Buffer (I am a geek after all!) As well as that, I keep a close eye on articles shared by people on my main Twitter list, my Google+ circles and another favorite tool, Triberr.

Question 3: What do you love the most about working in your industry? What bothers you the most?

I love the community of people. I’ve met the most amazing people in the blogging and social media communities- many of which have become great friends. I love the openness and the ability to help each other move forwards.

The flip side is the problem or money and the value in what we do. It can often be taboo to talk about money, but it can also seem perfectly acceptable to ask to “pick someone’s brains” for free. Being a consultant can be hard because we are putting a price to our thoughts and our brains and for a quality service! But you’d never ask if you could pick some apples for free in your local grocery store!

Question 4: What is the hardest situation you’ve encountered in your business and how did you handle it?

I admit I’m not good at confrontation. Thankfully I’ve not had to deal with it very often in my business. In the past when a customer treated me very badly, I just walked away as I didn’t want any hassle. These days, I’ve learnt that good communication, structures, procedures and documentation are all vital. However, at the end of the day I’ve tried to learn to make decisions as a business and not to take things personally.

Question 5: What is the best business advice you’ve been given and why has it stayed with you?

The best advice I’ve received isn’t totally business related, but it certainly relates to professionals and business owners. It’s the battle of resistance and obstacles to creativity. I was recommended by a number of people (notably Mike Stelzner and Mark Traphagen) to read the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Whilst I don’t personally enjoy the writing style, Pressfield does articulate the constant issues I’ve had with growing my business. Whenever I’ve known I should be doing something (whether that’s writing a new blog post or launching a new webinar series) I find myself battling against the idea and moving on to something far less productive. The same thing happened when I was speaking at a conference recently – feeling like I wanted to run away! In all these cases, once I saw the resistance, I battled through to the end and found that the rewards were so worth it. Mike Stelzner said something like this recently- that the experience of fear when you are about to do something is usually a good indicator that you should be doing it. It’s like a big green light saying “Go, dog go!”

One for the road…

Bonus: If you could come back to life as any person from the history, who would it be?

There are so many choices- one of Jesus’ disciples, a famous scientist, an athlete and more. However, I think I’d like to say the baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. Probably not your usual answer, but I love his music- I could listen to it all the time. Being able to have music flowing from your brain to your pen like that and being able to see and hear his music being performed every day would be amazing.

 

Why Marketing & Advertising is Storytelling

Why Marketing & Advertising is Storytelling

You can primp and polish almost anything to make it gleam and glimmer, but making something beautiful doesn’t make it unique and doesn’t make it effective.

 

The same can be said with advertising and PR. You can devise the most astounding campaign that implements every creative tool in the book and then some, but if your message doesn’t resonate with people, you have lost.

 

This summer I had the privilege of attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where I absorbed the knowledge and advice advertising and PR professionals had to give about the ever-changing field in which they work. In the seminar “Nailing Jelly to a Tree & Other Wild Goose Chases” Dr. Itiel Dror joined Nir Wegrzyn to discuss how to make your advertising messages stick with your audience and have the effect that you desire.

 

Dr. Dror, a cognitive neuroscientist, stressed three points: making your messages into memories, encode those messages in the appropriate parts of the brain, tell a relevant story and tell it well. All of these components combined make it possible for us as advertisers (or aspiring advertisers) to divulge into human insight and to connect with our audience in a transparent and effective way.

 

Every day our minds take in thousands upon thousands of images filled with information. Whether it be on television, the Internet, social media, outside, or in magazines, everywhere you go there are advertising messages. There are so many that most people find them intrusive and choose to ignore them completely. At what point do we as advertisers realize that we can’t just splatter information across a page?

 

If I were to ask you to tell me your most vivid memory, I bet you could tell me everything down to the smell of the room and the clothes you were wearing. This is what advertisers must do. We must be strategic in our messaging strategies to not only catch the eye of the audience, but keep the eye of the audience and make our messages memorable. To do so we must tell stories. Not just any stories, stories that transport audiences into a setting or situation that is not part of their everyday lives, but that holds a connection in their brain.

 

My favorite books are the Harry Potter books, yes I am 100% aware they are meant to be children’s books, but I love them nonetheless. What makes this series so wonderful is that each reader becomes engrossed in the story of this boy wizard who suffers just like you and me. He struggles with love, friendship, life and death, good and evil; it hits almost every literary theme that relates to the human experience. Stories that people can relate to are memorable and effective. Take a page out of the world’s greatest authors’ books (literally) and you will see just how effective, creative, and memorable your messages will become.

 

What are you doing to make your stories (campaigns/messages) memorable?

 

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