Lighting a Spark

Ignite the lightMany years ago I wrote a blog post about the Katy Perry song, Firework.  The post was actually about building relationships and I realize now that it reflects a lot of the themes that I talk about in Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People.  However,  tonight, I heard the song differently. I heard a theme that resembles burnout and the need to find one’s passion.  After writing steadily a few years ago, I stopped blogging on a regular basis and forgot how much I used to enjoy it. We talk to clients about “creating content” that demonstrates expertise; content that positions them and “Subject Matter Experts” or SMEs in consultant speak. However, in my opinion, some of my best blog post were never about digital marketing or mobile trends or association ideas.  My best posts were the ones that spoke from the heart, the ones that told a story and hopefully included a life lesson. In the interest of practicing what I preach, I stopped writing from the heart to some extent.

In my daily life, I struggle with ADD. Staying focused on the task at hand is a constant struggle and a huge source of frustration in my life.  However, when I am working on something that I am passionate about, I can complete a task with near laser focus. The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that I am spending time on things that are ‘must dos’ not ‘want to dos’.  On the days that ADD is in control, I want to dig down deep and find that spark that keeps me focused, the spark that gets me excited.

As I write this, I realize the risk I am taking.  Could it be construed as disdain of my current projects? No, that’s not it at all.  I love my work and the projects that I am so fortunate to be associated with.  This is about something more.  It’s about the big picture of understanding my inner firework and doing more of what I am passionate about.   It’s about remembering that blogging brought me joy and that it doesn’t always have to be a strategic message designed to show expertise.  It’s about taking the time to regroup and reinvent and get better at what I do.

I think this happens to everyone from time to time.  We get into our daily routines. We have jobs and life.  We live the daily grind. And then we wake up and realize we are going 100 miles an hour and are not taking time for reflection. We aren’t taking the time to remember that we are, in fact, a firework.

So tonight, as Firework played on Pandora, I found it a good time to reflect and to write about it.  And I ask you to take a moment, and think about what your spark is. What do you need to do to ignite your passion (or remember that it’s there)? How can I help?

What’s Trending in a Digital World

IMG_1173 (1)

IMG_1177Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter took off in 2006, and Bitcoin erupted in 2009. In our world of evolving innovation, Social Media Week acts as the leading hub to inform social media enthusiasts, and everyday consumers, of ongoing trends in today’s social sphere.  Social Media Week hosts conferences on 6 continents, 21 cities, and is home to approximately 70,000 attendees and 5,000 speakers. I had the pleasure of attending New York City’s Social Media Week this past February and noted some of the most current trends of today’s digital age.

Snapchat and Millennials
Several months ago, President and Chief Connector Jessica Levin asked her Facebook network for feedback on Snapchat. 90% of the responses referred to the app as a millennial application. Why is Snapchat correlated with millennials?  Creative Agency Code and Theory explained millennial’s existence in the digital age.  Creative Strategist Kelly Meyers mentioned that those classified as Generation Y prefer platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to document experiences and friendships.  She then referred to a source by The University of Washington saying that millennials prefer these platforms because they were more private and prevented the fear of judgment.

According to a report by BI Intelligence, the target market for Snapchat is 13 to 25 years old. Snapchat’s Discover feature, launched in late January, permits B2C brands to target the Generation Y pool using short stories with enriching multimedia. Brands such as CNN, Cosmopolitan, and ESPN are active on the interface.  An example of CNN’s snapchat story is displayed above.

The Impact of the #Hashtag
Former Google designer Chris Messina founded the hashtag in 2007.  Since the release of the hashtag, the concept has erupted on social platforms enhancing the community for events, products, and campaigns. #Tagboard Founder and CEO Josh Decker states, “hashtags are designed to create a signal, not noise,” indicating that hashtags are used to categorize content. #Tagboard found that tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more hashtags.

B2C brands can engage with new prospects by crafting tweets for trending topics. Decker highlighted Reese’s Twitter efforts by showing that their brand interacts with trending hashtags. For example, Reese’s hopped on the #WhatIsLoveIn4Words bandwagon and in turn received mentions, retweets, and followers from a new cluster of prospects.

Predictive News vs. Trending News
Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO of Mashable, introduced the trend of predictive news in his interview with Social Media Week Founder & Executive Director Toby Daniels. Predictive News was a concept similar to Seven Degrees Communications’ Anticipatory Marketing theory. Predictive News, according to Cashmore, dominates trending news.  Mashable strives to be the leading source for news across all topics and uses the formula of demographic targeting to make that happen.  Predictive News and Anticipatory Marketing are achieved through data, big and small.  Some of the data includes website clicks, newsletter clicks, trending keywords, and Focus Groups.

Snapchat and the hashtag were innovations that plunged into a digital revolution. What trends do you predict will impact the digital age in the next several years?  Share your prediction in the commentary below.

Social Media Vacations: Good For You, Bad For Business?

Social Media VacationEaster is this weekend and a lot of my Catholic friends have given up social media for Lent.  I have other friends who, throughout the year, have taken time off to decompress and regain some control of their lives.  Some do it for a weekend; some others a month. Personally, I cannot imagine being off of Facebook for an entire day, let alone 40.

One friend who is in the middle of her Facebook fast, described life sans social media as “less stressful, less distracted and more zen.”

Social media breaks can be good for the soul.  It takes us away from the constant rat race of pretending that our lives are fabulous. The pressure of having to be witty and interesting and always adding value.  Social media detoxes give us more time to spend on important work projects, developing new ideas and connecting with friends and family in the physical world. It gives our eyes and necks a break from staring at tiny brightly lit screens. Social media vacations can remind us what’s important and what’s not.

The downside is that you can become disconnected.  For me, I often learn about breaking news on social media.  I know which friends had babies and who got engaged and who is traveling near me.  I chat with colleagues about business and, of course, I introduce people.  Social media is an invisible cable that ties me to people and make those relationships stronger.  It helps me learn about people and what they need in their lives.  And while it can add unintentional pressure to life, in general, I find benefit in it. However, even with all of the benefits, I can see the need to unwind and get a fresh perspective on life. A chance to be introspective. A chance to live one’s life privately and without voyeurism.  As I type this I understand how refreshing this sounds. I get it.  But let’s think about it from a business perspective.

What happens to businesses that rely on social media to communicate with their customers and prospects?
  • How do people like myself, who use social media as a business development too, keep the momentum going without our virtual networks? I have a lot of people in my circles whose phone numbers and email address I don’t have.  If I lost access to Facebook and Linkedin, I could lose contact with them very easily.
  • How do marketing strategies need to plan for more privacy and less sharing.  Facebook knows more about you than your own family does. They use this information to sell ads and customize news feeds.  What if this all went away tomorrow? Do you know what marketing channels you would shift to? What are you supplementing and complementing social media with?
  • What are you doing today to get face-to-face connections/relationship with the people who are interacting with you and your brand?  Even if social media is here to stay, this is a good practice for strengthening loyalty and for identifying news opportunities to help your customers.

Have you ever thought about taking a social media vacation?

If you are in a communications role, how are you planning for your customers to be offline?

That Day I Published a Book.

PerfectPairingsCoverFinalWhen I was in high school, I ran for student council eight times.  I lost all eight times.  I had to ask a bunch of boys to my senior prom before a gay friend agreed to go.  I wasn’t what you would call, “one of the cool kids.” It took a long time for me to make friends in college. However, as I entered my career, I was fortunate enough to meet two mentors who would change my course forever.  My evolution didn’t happen overnight.  It happened through trial and error.  It happened through maturity. It happened through meeting both the right and wrong people and learning about trust and honor.  Most of all, it happened through learning how powerful kindness to other and helping can be.

Today, I am thrilled to say that my book Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People is available for sale on both Amazon and directly through the official book website.   This is my story. This is the story of others.  This is a guide for helping people change their lives – both personal and professional by practicing the art of connecting people.

Writing a book is hard. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard.  However, it is an incredible journey.  As I spoke to so many master connectors throughout my journey, I learned so much. There are so many wonderful people in this world who make it a lifestyle of helping other people.  The bigger lesson that I learned is how wonderful the network that I have grown is. The amount of support and love that I have felt over the last few month is truly overwhelming.  It drives me each and every day to work harder and making the world that I live in a better place. I do this by understanding others needs and figuring out who can help them. Matchmaking. Connecting. Networking.  Bringing other people together so that they can work together, share ideas, share resources and create friendships.

On Valentine’s Day in 1985 I threw my first event.  A Valentine’s Day party.  Today, 30 years later, I published a book.

Thank you to everyone in my life who has been there and who has helped me navigate this thing we call life. I am grateful for you every day.

7 Tips To Picking Up The Pen

writersblock-1Our Top Takeaways of Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes

With vocabulary, grammar, and organization in mind, the thought of writing can be, well, daunting.  From a simple tweet to an email, writing is a task we face on an everyday basis.  So instead of finding ways to escape this skill, why don’t we strengthen our writing muscle?  How do you get started?  Easy, pick up the pen and write, suggests Chief Content Marketing Officer Ann Handley.  As she quotes American Writer E.B. White in her epilogue, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to write will die without putting a word on paper.”  Handley’s book, Everybody Writes, shares 74 tips to writing effective content, we’re happy to share 7 of our favorites with you.

1.  “Think Before You Ink.”
Handley quotes New York Cartoon Editor Robert Mankoff, “It’s not the ink, it’s the think.” Mankoff indicates that the thinking process is just as important, if not more important, than the writing process.

2.  Develop a Writing GPS.
You may have received one of those handy devices for the holidays but Ann Handley’s referring to a different GPS.  This GPS is a 12 step process used to organize your thoughts for clear and efficient content.  To review this 12 step process, check out this link on the MarketingProfs blog.

3.  Don’t fear TUFD.
TUFD, what the heck is TUFD?  TUFD stands for “The Ugly First Draft”. Remember, you have to start somewhere and it’s not always pretty.  Sometimes the ideas start to flow once the pen meets the paper.

4.  “You have to swing if you want a lot of hits,” says writer and content marketer, Barry Feldman.
In blog writing especially, the secret to cultivating an active blog is by writing effective content and writing often.  This quote applies to writing as well, the more you write, the better you become.

5.  Quality Content= Utility X Inspiration X Empathy
Ann Handley shares the importance of this formula in her book as well as this article via Openview Marketing Lab.  To check out this formula, click here.

6.  Don’t be boring.
Rule 29 says to write for real people, write with real words.  Everybody Writes had personality: an engaging, humorous, and intelligent personality.  This book made a point that good content has a voice and is relatable to all people.  Rule 18 says to show, not tell. Again, this book did just that by showing examples of just about every writing rule.  Although, rules 61-64 were on Social Media writing, the premise of those rules said to take risks; boring content won’t stand a chance with all of the existing content companies produce today.

7.  Write for your audience.
Keep your audience in mind with every content piece you write.  This includes a headline, social media postings, an e-blast, an annual report, etc.  Handley suggests putting your audience into the piece by saying “you” instead of “us” or “we”.

Everybody Writes is a fun guidebook to delivering efficient content.  With seven comprehensive sections on overcoming writing fears, eliminating grammar errors, mastering storytelling, publishing efficiently, practicing strong marketing writing, and using effective content tools, this book will inspire marketers to not only pick up the pen but challenge themselves to take their marketing efforts to the next level.  To purchase your own copy of Everybody Writes, click here.

*The image above was taken from ErikHatch.org.

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  • RECENT POSTS:

    Lighting a Spark

    Many years ago I wrote a blog post about the Katy Perry song, Firework.  The post was actually about building relationships and I realize now that it reflects a lot… Read the Rest »

    What’s Trending in a Digital World

    Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter took off in 2006, and Bitcoin erupted in 2009. In our world of evolving innovation, Social Media Week acts as the leading hub to inform… Read the Rest »

    Social Media Vacations: Good For You, Bad For Business?

    Easter is this weekend and a lot of my Catholic friends have given up social media for Lent.  I have other friends who, throughout the year, have taken time off… Read the Rest »

    That Day I Published a Book.

    When I was in high school, I ran for student council eight times.  I lost all eight times.  I had to ask a bunch of boys to my senior prom… Read the Rest »