Why vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing

I have a friend who recently wrote a blog post for the agency she works for. It was a great post: well written, included graphics she made herself, was helpful and offered takeaways, and had a title just interesting enough to garner clicks without being click bait. Then, the CEO had her take it down. “It might give the wrong impression.” (It didn’t.)

Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing-title image

Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing

Maybe you love vanilla ice cream, or vanilla pudding, but no one likes vanilla content. To make an impact among the overly crowded digital marketing space, you need to do something to stand out. You have to take a position. You must offer helpful information while not turning your content into a snooze-fest lecture. With the concept of Content Shock looming over all of us marketers, you have to write something worth reading.

Maybe try chocolate instead

Embrace a deep, rich, and possibly darker side of content. Piss someone off, start an argument, take a stand. But be willing to back up your argument with informed points and a reasoned point-of-view. Don’t just troll the world. In Jay Baer’s “Jay Today” video series, he goes on some pretty serious rants—calling marketing and service mediocrity where he sees it. Some people may disagree with him on some points, and that’s ok. His definitive, and sometimes angry, perspective is visceral and real. People remember it and share it if they relate to it. Do you have a viewpoint in opposition to the status quo? Talk about it! I did in this guest post, and things got pretty hairy, but I stood by my points and even helped some people in the process.

Vanilla marketing click to tweet image

Click the image to share this post

Don’t forget the savory bits

My choice would be salted caramel, but you do you. Ahem, I digress. Give people definitive takeaways and sharable tidbits in your content that they just can’t help but share with their friends and followers. For example, provide a click-to-tweet takeaway image (like above) that makes sharing those points seamless (something else Jay Baer does really well with his Social Pros podcasts). Try putting some key takeaways in bullet points to visually sum up what the reader should get out of a post. Before you hit publish, seriously ask yourself, “What exactly will someone reading this post/article/blog get out of it?” If the answer isn’t clear, fix it.

What’s better than regular ice cream? A sundae.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your content. Slap on some toppings, mix up some flavors, and create a tantalizing piece of content people can’t help but share. Here are some examples of how you can incorporate different media to see what resonates with different audiences.

  • Embed a slideshare in a blog post to reinforce the points you’re making.
  • Record a video clip to break down a complicated concept rather than writing a long-form post.
  • Try embedding tweets surrounding a hot topic you’re discussing to show its relevancy and highlight important points-of-view.

Your content has to have some character, something uniquely you. There are likely other posts in the world on the same topic you’re writing about, so what makes yours different?

Admit it, you totally want some ice cream now, don’t you? Sorry about that.

Now go get your social on!

Learn to create content like a boss with the #ArtOfSocial

I recently had the opportunity to read and review The Art of Social, the new book from social media powerhouses Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzgerald. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book early). The short of it: if you’re getting started in content creation, or just need some great inspiration, this book is definitely worth your time.

Art of Social by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzgerald content marketing book

If you’re already comfortably familiar with social media platforms, you may find yourself glossing through some of the basics in the first couple sections. I actually advise against this. You’re likely to miss the many gems of knowledge inserted among these tips. If you’re reading the digital version rather than the physical edition, you’ll find tons of linked examples that are worth taking a peek at. Some of these offer step-by-step guides you’ll want to keep around. (For example, how to embed social content into a blog post.)

The book is a pretty easy read. Guy’s voice (which is the point of view that most of the book is written in) is casual yet informative, entertaining yet frank. You’ll likely find yourself chuckling, while also taking note of a really useful tidbit.

Peg and Guy

If you’re anything like me and love to check out the latest and greatest tools, you’ll be drooling over this book. Guy and Peg offer up a plethora of tools they recommend for social posting, monitoring, listening, content creation, and curating. Some you’ve likely heard of, but I almost guarantee there will be some new ones on your radar after reading The Art of Social.

The book also goes beyond simply talking about social media platforms and strategies for posting content to them. There’s an entire section on how to successfully run an event (including an extensive section on holding Hangouts On Air events) and make it a socially shared success. I really, really recommend this chapter if you have an in-person or virtual event you’re planning for 2015. You’re nearly 100% likely to find at least one piece of advice you’ll incorporate into your plans.

The Art of Social is a really great book. The only downside to writing a book on social media is how quickly things change (and there are already a few things that have changed since the book was written). In an awesome interview on the Social Pros Podcast, Guy and Peg mention that there will potentially be sporadic digital updates to the book, which leads me to recommend the digital version over the physical one (plus, you’ll have access to all those helpful links).

Couple this book with Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (full disclosure, I work for Ann), and 2015 will be the year you completely rock every aspect of social media and digital marketing content. Your fans will thank you, your boss will thank you, and you’ll probably sleep better at night knowing you’re consistenly putting out great content thanks to the guidance you’ll find here.

You can purchase The Art of Social here.
Pick up Everybody Writes here.

Now go get your social on!

How to provide epic customer service

by

I’m not really a fan of pointing out FAILS unless they really irk me. Rather than posting precautionary tales of what not to do, I’d much rather point people toward examples of what to do. Coming from a customer service background has given me an affinity for wanting to point out people and brands that get it. The ones that make you feel like an individual rather than one in a giant number of social media followers. Here are a couple that stood out to me this week.

How to provide epic customer service

Misfit Wearables

Anyone who knows me knows I really get into two things: technology and exercise. During SXSW last year, I came across a fashionable and lightweight fitness tracker called the Shine, by Misfit Wearables. I love it. It’s minimalistic and not clunky, attaches nearly anywhere, and I get asked about it by people all the time.

So you can imagine my disappointment when mine suddenly stopped working a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, a buddy of mine just picked up a high-tech Microsoft band and was trying to get me to convert. When I find something I like, I’m typically pretty loyal, so I decided to post on Misfit’s Facebook page asking for any recommendations on what I could do to try and get my Shine working again.

Their page boasts over 21,000 fans at the time of this writing. That’s no small number. Their posts to page section is a constant stream of comments, both compliments and complaints, and my question easily could have been overlooked. But it wasn’t. Instead, I was directed to private message, where they asked for my address to send me a new shine. No twenty questions, no asking me to send in my defective product. They fixed it for me. In my preferred color. Like customer service bosses. And now I’m writing and sharing about it. Social listening, folks. Do it. Your customers will love you for it and you’ll be respected because of it.

Misfit Wearables fitness tracker wearable technology

My shiny new red Shine

More importantly, they kept me from leaving. Had I received no response, I’d have likely started shopping around for another fitness tracker to see what was out there. By keeping me with them, they kept me from meandering. Nicely done, Misfit.

Buffer

There isn’t a single bad thing I can say about the folks at Buffer. Their app is solid, their content never ceases to amaze me, and their people are genuinely the nicest on the entire interwebs. When I see their logo, I don’t see a brand. I see the smiling face of someone who genuinely gives a damn. They also happen to lead a weekly #Bufferchat that continually engages and informs their audience around consistently interesting topics.

I recently jumped in to a #Bufferchat that they held. It featured my very smart friend DJ Waldow (who actually inspired my last post), and turned out to be a great discussion. Afterward, I received a DM from Nicole, the Community Champion at Buffer (ps, I love their titles), asking me if she could send me some stickers to show her appreciation of my participation. One thing you should know about me is that I’m kind of a swag whore. Gimme all those things. Naturally, I was geeked.

Buffer social media scheduler customer service

The folks at Buffer are pretty swell. Their sticker game is strong, and they really appreciate their community. Plus, just look at that handwriting!

What I received was a premium-stock card with a handwritten note (in very fancy handwriting, might I add), plus two high-quality stickers. All because I actively participated in a chat. You want to talk about building community and making your fans feel special? Nailed it.

Now, some of this could be chalked up to an influencer marketing strategy. I get that. I’m not what one could call a high level influencer (my followings aren’t that massive comparatively), but I am very vocal about things I’m passionate about. And you can bet I’m going to continue to be vocal about my affinity for Buffer and Misfit.

Good customer service also isn’t just about handing out freebies. The main points of this are to listen to what your customers are saying, solve their problems, let them know you appreciate them in whatever ways you can, and don’t treat them like faceless entities in an online crowd. Hats off, Buffer and Misfit. You won the week.

What are some examples of amazing customer service or community-building that you’ve experienced from a brand? Share your story in the comments below.

Now, go get your social on!

The Imposter is the man BEHIND the man in the mirror

Imposter syndrome. By now you may have heard of it, especially if you suffer from it. Don’t know what it is? Let’s discuss.

Painting by Daniel Kaeding

Painting by Daniel Kaeding

The basic premise of Imposter Syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy. Feeling like your accomplishments are a sham, like you’re lying to everyone or you have everyone fooled, but any moment, ANY MOMENT, people are going to find you out. The consequences following will, of course, be the inevitable spiral to doomed failure from which you will never recover. I may be hyperbolizing that, or adding my own take on it, but that more or less covers it in a nutshell. And no amount of positive reinforcement seems to counteract it, because you simply can not internalize those positive things. You’re like teflon for compliments. And by you, I mean me.

This post is a bit more for therapeutic purposes than anything. If you read it and can relate, then this has been a success. If not, I got some stuff out on paper, and that’s cool too.

This year, I met a truly energetic and positive guy named DJ Waldow, who runs The Social Butterfly Guy and is a fantastic email marketing genius. He’s just fun to chat with and is a ball of positive energy. He also likes to ask questions and poll Facebook friends on various topics. A recent post he wrote led me to this blog post, and inspired me to write about my own version of what it’s like dealing with Imposter Syndrome.

spider-man

Spider-Man knows a thing or two about imposter syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is a fickle thing. You can be on top of the world one minute, then be looking to the skies for a meteor to turn you into a crater the next minute. It can simultaneously motivate you to work harder to maintain your facade, yet make you paranoid that the curtain will fall and people will see the wizard for what he is. But if you remember, the real wizard of Oz really wasn’t all that bad. He actually turned out to be a swell guy. Well, Imposter Syndrome sure makes you feel like he’s a fake, a fraud, not worthy of his acclaim. It attacks your wizard with flying monkeys, and they’re hungry.

The most debilitating aspect of this syndrome is the fact that you always think you’re the only one dealing with it. “No one else, surely not anyone who is successful or happy, deals with this,” you say to yourself. That’s the funny thing about depression. It fools you into thinking no one else suffers from it like you do. And let’s call this thing what it is here: Imposter Syndrome stems directly from depression.

I still refuse to say that I suffer from depression. I refuse to let it be true, whether it is or not. I’m “just dealing with some things” or “just not feeling it today.” I fool myself into believing what I call the “If I just” motivator.

  • “If I just” get all my bills paid off, the financial freedom will make me happier (that’s simply a lie, let’s be honest).
  • “If I just” get rid of these squishy love handles, I’ll have insurmountable confidence (I’m in the best shape of my life right now, insurmountable confidence not included).
  • “If I just” get a really cool job, I’ll feel like I’m smart enough (I have a really kickass and respectable job that I totally love. I still question my ability to do it every day. Like, literally question how I got the job. Every. Day.).

Facepalm Captain Picard - He understands.

“If I just” stop saying “if I just.”

The “if I just” is simply another imposter, constantly working against me. The current is never ideal. There’s always the something more I “should” be. But I probably wouldn’t deserve that either, according to the Imposter.

I wish I had some novel gem of knowledge to help others deal with this problem. I wish I could tell you to stop lying to yourself, accept your accomplishments for what they are, believe that you got where you are by your own accord, and that you should internalize compliments you receive. But then, I’d be telling you things you probably already know, but refuse to accept for the same reasons I do. Which really aren’t reasons. They’re just stupid lies you tell yourself. Lies that likely stem from something in your life that you probably don’t want to talk about. But, you gotta.

So that’s the best advice I can give you: talk to someone. A therapist, and really good friend, a family member—talk to them honestly and openly. You may uncover some things that help you realize why you feel like an imposter. You may find a source for that crippling voice. Then you can try to punch it in the face. And it deserves a solid punch to the face. Oh, by the way, I need to take my own advice and go back to talking to someone myself. There were some discoveries made, and it’s probably a good idea to follow up on them. (See how good I am at taking my own advice?)

Also, take notes. Not just about the bad stuff, or the times you hear the Imposter speaking to you. Take note of the good things. Did someone compliment you? Put it on a sticky note and attach it to the mirror. Did someone you respect recommend your work to another person? Remind yourself of that when you’re feeling imposter-y and judging your work as not good enough. Take those moments of validation and hold on to them for times you need them. It’s not bragging, it’s a reminder. It’s validating. And it’s necessary.

You know, it’s kinda funny, the one who is the imposter is actually the one that keeps naysaying. He’s the one that’s wrong, he’s the one no one would like to associate with—but he’s the one with the louder voice most of the time. The imposter is lonely, and wants you to be like him. Don’t be like him. That guy isn’t any fun.

So there you go. Imposter syndrome. Maybe you didn’t have a name for it, but know the feeling. Maybe you already knew about it but didn’t realize how many others deal with it (and there are many, just ask DJ Waldow). Show that imposter who’s boss and keep being the kickass you that you are. Write that down. Right now.

Now go get your social on!

The Walking Dead Premiere: Social Media Failings

Like millions of other people, I sat wildly awaiting the premiere of season 5 of The Walking Dead this past Sunday. The perils of Rick Grimes and the gang, however, is not the topic of this post (so no spoiler alerts! Yay!). This post is about a few things that were just improperly handled when it came to social media and the premiere of my favorite show about zombies and post-apocalyptic survival.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Second Screen Experience

A campaign that is dragging its feet

I’m a fan of second screen, being one who is constantly checking the online chatter surrounding shows, events, and stories. So I was delighted to see that AMC was embracing the second screen usage of its fans right from the onset of season 5 — sending people to a website where they could play along with the show. I obviously went straight there. And that’s where things went awry.

The second screen experience, called Story Sync, was that of telling how you’d handle scenarios, voting on the level of gore in specific scenes, whether you thought someone was going to make it or not, and some behind the scenes type stuff. Kind of a fun idea, but I found it to be overall pretty distracting from the actual show. This is where I feel the disconnect is. People typically like to check what others are saying by following the dedicated hashtag and adding their own input, and this didn’t really add to the social experience. The connection to Twitter was pretty generic, no feed from the hashtag or real sharing opportunity to be found.

I could have forgiven that, however, if it weren’t for what happened next. Rather than keeping people engaged and interested during the commercial break — y’know, when most people are checking the second screen — you’re shown ads from the sponsor. So you’re served up ads as you try to find distraction from ads. Not quite a success. No contest, no engagement, just a static ad for a tablet. My attention was pretty quickly lost. I was really disappointed in that, and I hope AMC does something better with that time and the attention they could have. Otherwise, I’ll absolutely abandon this second screen experience for a real one. Namely, my Twitter stream.

My recommendations: use a branded model for your advertising (one that’s visible but not dominant) but try to engage people during commercial breaks and get them sharing the hashtag using some Twitter integration directly from your second screen page. Try doing “vote using this hashtag” or something to keep people from going elsewhere during the commercial break. Don’t just drop a static ad (especially one that is the same ad on my damned TV).

Ads that should be beheaded

All that being said, I can forgive it as AMC continues to work on fully embracing the full second screen experience. Some of the promoted posts I saw on from other brands on Twitter though — just no. NO, NO, NO, NO. Don’t promote a post and jump on a hashtag with a stupid plea for engagement. Like below:

Die Hard Walking Dead Twitter promoted post

C’mon guys. Really? A plea for empty engagement? An unnecessary tie-in? Stop it. You might as well be using the “Retweet a picture of this llama, for no reason” strategy. Also, this:

MTV's Twitter post for The Walking Dead

Pardon my language, but what the actual fuck? Paper dolls? What the hell does that have to do with an intense, high-anxiety, apocalypse survival show? Can we have tea time with Rick Grimes next? To play off the old adage: if you don’t have something nice to tie in, don’t tie in at all. And with that, there’s also Kotex:

Kotex Walking Dead season 5 premiere tweet

Image courtesy of Refinery29

I rolled my eyes pretty hard at that one when it was brought to my attention by M Mallory on Google+. Hat tip to Refinery29 for having a post about it so I could find it.

Look, I get that brands want to be a part of something popular. And I know everyone is looking for their “Oreo moment”, as its been dubbed. But just stop. If it happens, it happens. Stop trying to force yourself into popular things, and feigning real association to try and connect with people. And stop clogging my feed with ads that just make me roll my eyes.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are these, in fact, poor tie ins? Have you seen similar things with some of your other favorite shows that make you crazy? Share them below!

Now, go get your social on!

Two Productivity Hacks for Bloggers

Let’s be honest. One of the toughest parts of blogging, and content marketing in general, is finding time to collect your thoughts. Setting aside a block of time to brainstorm, write, and flesh out ideas can be exceedingly difficult.

I’m all about using little hacks and unique ideas to make myself more productive, or at least a little more organized. In this post, I’ll share a couple of my favorites with you.

Evernote snapshots

First of all, if you’re not using Evernote, you should. The mobile/desktop/browser experience is completely seamless, and it’s such a great tool for collecting your thoughts, blog post ideas, resources, and reminders. One of my favorite features is the snapshot feature. This feature may be old news to some, but I recently discovered how useful it is and I love it.

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You’ve probably heard that the best writers read a lot, and it’s true. Ideally, some of that reading should translate back into your writing in the form of informed points of reference. But if you’re anything like me—I can’t remember what I DID last week, let alone what I read—so that doesn’t always work out so well. Enter Evernote.

Evernote’s snapshot feature lets you take a document-size photo. In this case, you can photograph a page from a book with important points of reference. Those photos then become searchable documents within the app. This makes it so easy to go back and find that quote you only remember half of, or that pivotal point made by an author that you want to quote and attribute properly. Enter a keyword into the search bar in Evernote and find your page. It’s genius, and a massive time saver. Check out this page I captured from Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. I then did a search for “reimagine” on Evernote, and this is what it looks like.

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Save things to Pocket and use tags

If you’re not familiar with Pocket, it’s an app (formerly known as Read It Later) that is basically like bookmarks on steroids. The browser extension is brilliant, and it is built right in to the Twitter mobile app once you select it in settings. Pocket allows you to save articles, blog posts, and web pages easily.

The best part is that you can use the ‘tags’ in Pocket to organize important articles categorically so that you can easily find sources for future posts on specific topics, like ‘content marketing’, ‘productivity hacks’, or ‘how-to articles’. More than that, you can go deeper. Think about what specifically struck you about the article or web page. Put THOSE words in as key words, so later when you’re trying to find that one article on a broad subject that mentioned one very specific thing, you can search your tags and find it quickly.

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Are you using these two apps already? What would be another quick hack you’d add for bloggers and content publishers? Share your feedback below.

Now go get your social on!

Building Relationships and Networking: It works.

Building Relationships (2)

Building Relationships and Networking Works

by Rob Zaleski
Originally published on LinkedIn

Let me tell you a story. A story about how simply building relationships with people and taking the opportunity to network without expectation of return can lead to huge things.

It all started with Mark Schaefer’s blog, Businesses {grow}. As an avid blog reader, I did what most people do: I’d leave my commentary on the blog and add feedback on other people’s comments, share the posts when I felt it appropriate, and tried to be part of the blogging community (as a blogger myself). In February 2013, Mark ran an email contest surrounding his upcoming book release with Stanford Smith, Born to Blog. These two authors were among my favorite bloggers, so I felt compelled to at least try and win the book. I sent the email laying out why I’d love a free copy of the book, and shared my interest in the topic.

To my surprise, I received a personal response from Mark that very day. This led to an exchange in which we ended up discussing SXSW, because I live in Austin and SXSW was just around the corner, and that perhaps we’d run into each other while he was in town. I figured the exchange would end there.

About a week later, again to my surprise, I received another email from Mark, inviting me to join him and a group of friends and visitors for dinner and drinks while he was in town for SXSW. After completely geeking out for a few minutes, I responded that I’d love to meet them.

When I got to the restaurant later that week, I met Mark in person for the first time, as well as Stephanie Wonderlin and Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, among others. We had a blast, and it was an interesting night full of marketing and social media talk. We all started following each other on all the important social sites (as you do), and went our separate ways. I figured it would be a one time thing and that would be that, but I was thrilled to have taken Mark up on his offer.

Mark W. Schaefer at SXSW

I was obviously pumped to meet this guy.

I kept up with everyone online because I genuinely enjoyed talking to them, and great conversations continued throughout the year (you should check out Stephanie’s GoPro capture of her wedding). Now, fast forward to the next year; Mark announces that he’ll be speaking at SXSW 2014 on the topic that had recently become very hot: Content Shock. I congratulated him and told him he’d have to let me know how the talk went, as I couldn’t afford a SXSW ticket this year. Being the generous guy he is, Mark reached out to me via email to let me know that he received a free day pass as a speaker, and asked if I’d like to use it so I could attend his talk. Who could say no to such an offer? I attended, and the talk was fascinating. If you haven’t seen Mark speak, I highly recommend it.

Being a fellow marketing professional and friend of Mark’s, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone was there too. Afterward, we got to talking, and Kerry invited me to hang out with her and a few others as they hit up some other discussions and the trade show floor. I originally planned to hit a bunch of other separate talks alone, but I decided to forego my initial plan and hang out with some cool kids instead. I had a complete blast, and was able to meet even more people because of that decision. Again, I figured it would end there (I still wasn’t getting the hint).

A few weeks later, I received a Facebook message from Kerry. She told me that a position had opened up at MarketingProfs (where she does the Marketing Smarts podcast and Professional Development seminars) and that she immediately thought of me for it. She asked me if I’d like her to put me in contact with the proper person. As a fan of MarketingProfs and their vast resources for content marketers and social media managers, I knew that simply interviewing with the people there would be a huge networking opportunity (I wasn’t actively looking for a new job at all), so I took the chance and said yes. What followed was the most fun series of interviews I’ve ever had, including a fantastic conversation with Ann Handley. Being that MarketingProfs has always been an information source I’ve personally gone to as a Content Marketer, the entire time I figured they would never hire me. Surely, they wouldn’t hire me. Maybe they’ll hire me. They might just hire me. They offered me the position.

To sum it up, two years worth of making real connections with people turned into a huge opportunity. I wasn’t trying to get anything out of Mark or Kerry. I genuinely respected both of them and simply enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) having conversations with them, both personal and about marketing. So take those chances, utilize those opportunities to get to know people by being personable. At minimum, you’ll make great friends. At most, it may alter your course.

What Grand Budapest Hotel Taught Me About Blogging

I just got home from watching Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. I loved it. It was everything I wanted it to be: quirky yet familiar characters (with delightful cameos), magical use of color, symmetry and music to paint a beautiful picture, and a story just absurd enough to still maintain some believability while making me laugh out loud. In short—unabashedly and unapologetically Wes Anderson. As I left the theatre, I began to think about what I love about Mr. Anderson’s movies, and it struck me. In your blog, you should be unapologetically and unabashedly you, too.

Image

Wes Anderson has haters, believe that. There are people who detest the precocious nature of his characters, the quirky, dry nature of his scripts, and the very specific look that makes sure you know it’s a product of his creative mind. That doesn’t stop him from continuing on that trajectory though, and this fact has won him a fan base that will follow his every endeavor and a group of talented professionals that are thrilled to work with him again. He’s not afraid to be who he is, tell the stories he wants to tell, or be true to the nature of what he envisions. The same can be done on your blog. 

Have you ever written a post, be it for your job as a content marketer or social media specialist or whatever, that you just didn’t really feel sounded like it came from you? Have you ever written something that just felt forced? On the other hand, have you ever sat down at your computer, or with your notepad in the park, and just felt like you couldn’t stop writing? Like the words were just flowing out of your mind faster than you could type or write them? That’s the person you need to be. That’s the voice and mindset you need to follow. That’s the dream.

Now, that being said, some of you may be in the same boat I am. I have absolutely no idea who I want to be, what I want to do when I grow up (at 32, mind you), or what kind of content quite feels right for me to continually pursue. I do feel passionate about some of the things I write, but not as much so about other things. Marketing will do that to you sometimes. Regardless of how much you want to enjoy what you do, you still have to sell a product, an idea, or a service when you work in marketing. But I do enjoy my job, I can say that. When you’re writing for a company though, you have to maintain their voice, their personality; which is why I still go back to my own blog from time to time and write what’s on my mind and what really comes from me. 

I hope to be as confident and steadfast in my voice as Mr. Anderson. I’m not quite sure how to find exactly what I’m passionate about, but I’m making it my goal this year to work on figuring it out so I can chase it. What about you?

Have you found your passion? Are you following it? Are you like me and are still searching for it? Or have you found it, but are afraid to go get it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

Chase your dreams. I plan to. 

Now, go get your social on!

Google to allow Google+ emails

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Google recently made a couple changes to the ways Google+ users can contact each other. In a recent email sent from Google, they state “Ever wanted to email someone you know, but haven’t yet exchanged email addresses? Starting this week, when you’re composing a new email, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients, even if you haven’t exchanged email addresses yet.”

Gmail to allow contacting people circled on Google+

Now, there are a couple points in the email that are a bit confusing. Though the email says it will suggest Google+ connections (as you can see in the bubble above), the function hasn’t started working for me. I tested a few letters of Google+ connections whom I’ve never emailed before just to see if it shows up, but it has not. Are you seeing the functionality yet?

There’s a troubling portion that I’m also not quite sure how to translate. See below.

Non-circled emails may head to your social tab in Gmail

As it stands right now, an email from a real person goes in my primary tab. Does the above mean that if a real person emails me, but isn’t in one of my Google+ circles, they will be relegated to the social tab? Will all first time emails from people go to the Social tab? I could see this making some people unhappy, especially if they don’t monitor their tabs consistently. The social tab, as described in the settings, is meant for “Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, gaming platforms, and other social websites.” Some people may not check it often, as it may simply be filled with updates from social networks. This could potentially get real emails lost in the pile.

You do have the option in your General Settings. There’s a new option that says Email via Google+ which allows you the options of Anyone on Google+, Circles, Extended Circles, No One. You can adjust according to your comfort level.

Have you seen the changes start happening yet in your inbox? Have you received an email from a Google+ contact you’ve never exchanged emails with before? Do you see high spam potential here?

Comment below and tell me what you think about it, or if you’ve seen any of the examples above.

Like this post? You might also enjoy this one!

Now go get your social on!

2014 Could be the year of Google+, and it might be rough

In late 2013, Google+ clenched the #2 spot for active users on social networks. The ghost town/Google employee jokes should finally start to subside. Now, I’ve been on Google+ since you had to get invited to it, but didn’t fully embrace it on the regular until last year. Jumping back in, I can honestly say that it felt like being a kid at a new school. There were established relationships, social mores, and groups of people that were either happy to help or eager to chastise.

bamboo wall with plants, 2014 The Year of Google+

Breaking through the social platform walls

With some of the recent changes Facebook has made to reach and Google’s increased leveraging of Google+ across all its properties, it’s a definite possibility that more brands will be making the shift to start checking out G+. It will not be an easy transition. So here are some things to remember for those starting out, and those already well established.

Be patient

We’re going to see people doing the link dropping thing. Anyone reading this that’s considering Google+, know that it’s not a ‘link drop and forget it’ platform. We’re going to see people spamming communities. Facebook and LinkedIn groups have taught people to do this by letting them get away with it. Future Google+ friends: don’t do this, or you’ll pick up a poor reputation quickly. Read community guidelines. Each one typically lays out the rules of being a member, clearly on the community’s page. It’s going to take time to undo this mindset for new Google+ users. We’re bound to see those damned notifications for things that are irrelevant to us, because Google doesn’t do a great job of explaining what that function really means. New users, only click the ‘Notify via email’ box when posting if those people have opted in to get notifications from you. Otherwise, you’re spamming them.

Be a guide

I have Dustin W. Stout’s “The Anatomy of a perfect Google+ post” on standby for anyone I introduce to Google+. I feel like it gives them a definitive look into how to compose interesting posts and treat the platform properly, as well as just honestly engage with others. I also often share Michael Bennett’s complete guide to Google+ once people get their bearings about them (it can be a bit overwhelming because it’s an awesomely exhaustive list of useful information). I also have a circle of Google+ rockstars that I share with people to get them going in the right direction. Using these and other resources to help others understand the massive differences in this platform from others will help people enrich the community, rather than simply annoy others.

Create and cultivate relationships with new users.

I am a firm believer in the idea of Relationship Marketing (check out the awesome weekly Google Hangouts from Wade Harman that is all about this topic). Not only do I find this important for my own work, it’s important to teach that aspect to others. As an established user, you should create a communal bond with new people, and they’ll be a better Google+ user (and marketer) for it. New users should strive to make real connections, and will quickly learn how to properly use the platform and engage with others on Google+. Everyone wins, and social media is social again.

What other recommendations would you have for people getting started on Google+? If you’re a new user, what questions about the platform do you have? Leave your comments below.

Now go get your social on!