Posts Tagged social media

Know your audience

Posted by on Wednesday, 19 March, 2014

unlovable_dalepartridgeIt seems like such simple and straightforward advice, doesn’t it? Knowing who you are talking to isn’t much of a stretch, most of us think we know exactly who we are talking to via social media, but do we really?

Your audience may or may not be who you think they are.  For some blogs, the distinction of a particular audience may be clearly defined, for others an audience may bleed over into many differing perspectives and entry points for your content. The sooner, and more clearly you can identify the audience for your blog, the better your posts may become.

By way of example, I want to talk about a particular post which a friend of mine shared a day or so back. This post has some good advice, but the author missed the audience, and by doing so has likely alienated a larger swath of people:

“5 steps for loving the unlovable”

Dale’s post starts out simply enough: the intent is to help us all be better people by loving those who least deserve it. Good, solid advice to help us all improve our culture and become a more understanding and cohesive society. But, I’m having some difficulty in reconciling his second point with the title of the piece. In it Dale states:

  “Don’t Reinforce Their Brokenness – As a broken person myself, it’s rare that I don’t recognize my own brokenness. Talk about their strengths. Broken people need less awareness, and more healing.”

Yet, the title of the article “5 steps for loving the unlovable” clearly reinforces the idea that broken people are concretely unlovable. Dale’s voice here seems to be talking directly to people who don’t consider themselves as ‘broken’, and by virtue of this contradiction between advice and title, seems to assume that broken people won’t be reading his post. In fact, his voice generates an “us” and “them” focus that undermines his larger point.

But how would knowing his audience have improved his post? Let’s start with the assumption that those reading Dale’s post are both types of people as defined in his post: those who are ‘broken”, and everyone else. Not a huge stretch here as most people can identify as broken at one point in their lives, if not presently so. With this single, simple understanding that his audience comprises both types, I would expect a more focused choice of words to show compassion and love, rather than the subtle tone of superiority and conflicting messages present in the article as written.

A change in voice is a simple way to adjust for the audience. Given his recognition of being broken himself, rather than using “them” and “their”, a shift to “us” and “we” immediately changes the tone of the article to be more welcoming and inclusive as well as generating a feeling of deeper compassion and connectedness. With that single change, Dale could both drive home the overarching point of his article, while also combating the polarizing effects of the us versus them mindset which permeates our internet culture today. The recognition of an audience that is also broken would have guided Dale’s word choice to more effectively deliver his message.

Knowing your audience doesn’t mean you have to write directly to every different perspective. Rather, knowing your audience means understanding and acknowledging the differing perspectives and allowing those perspectives to help guide you as you create; leading you to the right word choices will do wonders to improve your following and reduce the potential for alienating a previously unknown audience segment.

Of social business and sand castles

Posted by on Thursday, 13 March, 2014

sandcastle_xlibber Where do you find the value in social business?

It’s a common question, especially in the corporate world where every activity needs to show some tangible value to justify its continuance. But, tying direct value to every action isn’t an easy task. In fact, doing so is likely the most difficult task facing social strategists today. Why is this?

The answer, like the question, is both simple and utterly complex. You see, the value from social business is seen in the small connections and conversations we have over time, all of which are grains of sand in what will someday make up a castle. Some castles may be a simple overturned pail shape on a busy public beach, others may be expertly crafted life-sized versions like you see in competitions… but in all cases, it is the connections of each grain of sand which come together to build something bigger than themselves.

Each connection you make, each conversation you have, is another grain of sand in the castle of your social business presence. Like sand castles, the value in social business isn’t as quantifiable as counting the grains of sand that make up the whole. The value is in how they are connected and the view of what they build. Some sand castles are simple and effective at bringing value to the child who built it; providing a sense of accomplishment and purity of fun in the building. Others are built for competition and judged on particular criteria to determine the winner. Yet, neither of these examples nor any that fall in between can be considered to have innate value, or likewise a lack of value.  The value in each of these cases is fluid depending on the goals and purpose for each.

In social business, it is indeed the achievement of your defined goals which will show you the value. I’ve blogged before on the need to define your purpose/goals before setting out on a social business strategy. But, of course, even then not all goals are easily quantified. Increasing influence, building digital eminence, and thought leadership are lofty goals which come with very little in the way of reportable metrics for success, so what can we use instead to show the value with these goals in mind? How can we quantify the beauty of a sand castle?

Stories. It is the connection of each of these grains that work to build the beautiful sand castles, the larger picture if you will, and likewise it is the stories of successes reaped from social business connections which combine upon themselves to show the value inherent in social engagement. So, to that end, I’ll leave you with this story that I’ve posted previously and that I believe exemplifies one of the many benefits of blogging:

I had a practical lesson in the benefits of blogging on Friday morning. During a routine skip-level conversation with my program director, I was able to impress upon him some answers to his questions by referring to a few blog posts I’d published that week and prior in the past few months.

Even as I was pointing him to those entries did I realize the value of blogging: I had content available, on demand that I was able to quickly reuse to address a few questions in a relatively concise fashion. Not only did these posts immediately address his questions, but more so they showed that I was a step ahead of the game, that I’d already been thinking about the issue before he even asked.

In this way, blogging for me has become a source of reusable self-generated content I can rely upon to either provide solutions or supplement larger strategy conversations and stands as testament to my expertise around my job and is now working its way to being a solid piece to my resume.

See 😉 Reusable, self-generated content to help show the value of efforts. Social business works. To thrive, adopt the role of story-teller and show your audience value rather than just telling them.

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image credit: (cc)  Some rights reserved by xlibber

 

Stop talking, start doing.

Posted by on Thursday, 6 March, 2014

IMG_0562“How do we get employees engaged in social business?”

That is one of the top questions I am asked directly inside and outside of my present company. While the strategic and logistic answers to this question can be rather complex, it is also based in simplicity: stop talking about it, just start doing it.

When it comes to social business engagement, there comes a time when, as strategists, we talk about it all far too much and don’t follow up with any action… and when individual contributors need to stop just listening and start learning while doing. Enablement sessions, slide decks, conference calls, and email threads won’t get us any closer to being socially engaged. So, instead of talking about what we need to do, we need to just start doing it. Leading by example is the first step in driving this kind of organizational change.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Oddly enough, it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, it also takes quite a bit of work, but ultimately getting started and continuing is easy enough. There is no social channel out there that is so complex that you can’t learn it in an afternoon and master it within a week of using it once daily. Even GooglePlus, the most lamented and derided social channel out there takes relatively little effort to understand and maybe an afternoon of reading blog posts to master.

Now, I’m not urging you to get started here. I am telling you this is a necessity to survive. This isn’t just a nice to have anymore; this is the new way of business. As a company, you need to be engaged and involved in dialog with your customers. As individuals we need to be visible, professionally, to stand out and build our careers. I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in tone this blog has taken over the past few years, moving from a personal journal to more of a professional platform; I can assure you this has directly and positively impacted my own career in social business to great effect.

I’ve spoken before on some of the fears that keep people from engaging in social business. Rather than re-addressing those, I’ll put forth this Call to Action, this simple challenge to help you become more social:

  • Create your own GooglePlus account.
  • Circle me.
  • Say hello.
  • Begin sharing like you would on Facebook (interesting articles, opinion/commentary).
  • Circle more of your friends and colleagues as you find them and as they join.

If you take the above steps, I will promise you this: I will engage with you and help you master G+ within a week, you will begin to have more engaged conversations, and your network will continue to grow organically after that week. All of this will result in helping you become more confident and at ease with being active within the social business atmosphere.

But why GooglePlus, I hear you ask? Many people see G+ as a ghost town, an empty social channel where only Googlers are talking to themselves. Well, if we assume that is the case, then what better place to take those first steps where no one will be around to see you falter? You can post to your heart’s content without fear of saying the wrongs things since “no one” will really see it….
That’s a misconception, of course, as there is a LOT of activity on G+; so much so that my own streams have as much content shared in them as I see on Facebook now…. Where G+ shines in this case, however, is for new users who may be wary of becoming social in a professional realm, is in the use of circles. With GooglePlus circles you can share content with only select people, thus reducing the chance that something you say may be seen by the “wrong” people. It allows you to ease into social sharing until you’re comfortable enough with posting publicly so your posts can have far greater visibility.

Of course, once you’re comfortable on G+ and start your own blog, you can easily enable your Google Authorship to help increase your blog’s SEO (search engine optimization) and connect your profile with the content you create. It is a beautiful, organic win that will help build your own eminence in the digital spaces as you grow in social business expertise and skills.

A year from now, you’ll look back and be happy you started today. Keep putting it off and you’ll have wished you’d started ten years ago…. Don’t miss this opportunity to begin building your own influence. Culture change through leading by example; that  is how you drive deeper engagement among all levels of your organization.