Impressions

by Cochran

But I Don’t Know What to Say…

I wrote this post a couple of years ago. After a colleague mentioned to me this morning that his biggest challenge with social media is “I don’t know what to say.” My post below was originally geared towards using Twitter, but I think we can apply these tips to any social media tool.

1. Be yourself.

2. Use your photo. If you use a logo or other avatar, I won’t get to know you. Unless you’re @HarvardBiz or @fastcompany, without that personal touch, I’ll probably lose interest and unfollow you.

3. Use your online bio to give potential followers a snippet of information about you. Your bio can make or break whether someone wants to follow you or not.

4. Whom you choose to follow reflects on you. Be choosy, and remember, as your Twitter strategy evolves and your standards change, you can unfollow anyone at any time.

5. Tell me something about you. This doesn’t mean “Here’s my company name, what I do and please buy something from me.” Tell me something about you. “Happy Birthday to you, Mozart” tells me you’re interested in classical music. “Meet you at the live music milonga tonight at 10” tells me you’re interested in tango. “Think you’ll appreciate today’s op-ed by @NYTimesFriedman on healthcare reform” tells me even more about what interests you.

6. Ask my opinion. Show that you’re interested in me, in how I think and in the issues that matter to me. “What do you think about the new iPad? Is it just an iFad or here to stay?”

7. Ask me what I’m doing. Questions like “What are you reading lately?” or “What are you listening to on your iPod right now?” can really start the conversation.

8. Do tell me what you’re doing, but do so in a way that reveals more about you. Rather than tweeting “I overslept this morning,” a more engaging tweet might be “Stayed up way too late last night reading Roger Martin’s new book, The Design of Business. Overslept, but it was worth it.”

9. Tweet your thoughts. Sure, re-tweeting is encouraged and adding links to other people’s content is an effective strategy. But, make it a priority to regularly post your own thoughts. What is important to you right now? Share that with me. At least 20% of the time, post tweets in your own words. Let me know you can think on your own, that you have opinions and that you truly wish to foster a relationship with me.

10. And, be yourself. (Did I mention that?)

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June 15, 2012 Posted by | social marketing, social media | , , , | Leave a comment

My Best of #SocialFresh East

I attended the #SocialFresh East conference in Tampa earlier this week. The lineup was packed with impressive presenters on a wide variety of up-to-the-minute social marketing topics.

Though many attendees were online for the entire conference, I find that I get more out such sessions if I focus my attention on the presenter rather than on my laptop or iPhone. I did jot down a few key phrases to help me better recall each speaker and his or her topic.

  My Best of #SocialFresh East:

Don’t think social media. Think social marketing in the broadest sense. —  @JHCdigital aka Jesse Caitlin, eMarketer

Ask for the sale on social.@ericboggs aka Eric Boggs, Argyle Social

Gradual scaling always wins.@chuckhemann aka Chuck Hemann, WCG

Without a call to action, there is no marketing.@kippbodnar aka Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot

Use social elements in all that you do.@ScottMonty aka Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company

We need to concentrate on being social rather than doing social.@jaybaer aka Jay Baer, Convince & Convert

Don’t have a Pinterest strategy. As with other platforms, have goals.@ShaunaCausey aka Shauna Causey, Nordstrom

Assess your company’s social media readiness first.@jquig99 aka Jane Quigley, StrategyJQ

Rather than being a community manager, become a social coach. #ElevateSocial — @adriandparker aka Adrian Parker, Intuit

Beware of measurement bias. Look rather than measure.@cspenn aka Christopher Penn, WhatCounts

Ask one question per month to your list.@cnmoody aka Chris Moody, Red Hat

Do a content audit upon choosing platforms.@MatthewKnell aka Matthew Knell, AOL

Thanks to everyone for an incredible learning experience. @cochrancreates aka Rebecca Cochran, Cochran Creative Group

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Marketing, metrics, Online Marketing, return on social investment, social marketing, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning to Unmeasure

I hereby proclaim 2012 the year that we learn to unmeasure.

Measurement is really about the past. When we analyze, or measure anything, we’re using the past as the benchmark. How backwards.

Try as we might, we can’t truly measure success. We may think we can. We may attain a certain level of confidence, knowing we’ve reached a prescribed goal. But, truly successful people are smart enough to focus on the future, rather than the past. They use each new success as a launching pad for their next challenge and subsequent success.

Happiness is another unmeasurable. Happiness is intangible and fleeting. It seemingly comes and goes throughout our lives. The wisest among us learn to amortize happiness over the course of life, rather than gauging happiness on a day-to-day basis. Happiness is an art.

Art. Now, there’s an unmeasurable. Art looks, feels and sounds different every time we interact with it. Music and art critics attempt to use words to convey the value of any musical composition, piece of art or literary work, but most of those critics will admit that words are a poor measurement tool. Art is, after all, about feeling, both for the artist and the viewer, listener or consumer of that art. And, how can we measure feelings?

On the business side, is it really possible to measure brand loyalty? Or return on social investment (ROSI)? We can attempt to, but these are almost as elusive to measure as happiness and feelings. And, by the way, brand loyalty and ROSI each include a certain amount of happiness (or unhappiness) and other feelings at their core.

And, what about employee engagement? Do we really need fancy tools to measure that? Engaged employees do positively affect a company’s bottom line (now, that’s a measurement). But, perhaps, employee engagement should be regarded more as a philosophy, rather than something to be measured. When we begin to measure something, we’re then compelled to analyze it to the point that we lose the human element. And, employees want to be treated as humans, not numbers.

That which gets measured matters? Or that which matters is worth measuring?

I say neither. Thankfully, the most important things in life and in business cannot truly be measured. We should all practice the art of unmeasuring once in a while. By doing so, we’ll give ourselves the opportunity to become better listeners, better observers, better friends and better leaders.

What are your thoughts? What are some areas in your personal and/or business life where you can take an unmeasurement approach?

January 8, 2012 Posted by | brand loyalty, design thinking, empathy, employee engagement, happiness, measurement, return on social investment | , | 1 Comment

My Social Media Surprise: More Reading

The use of social media is changing the world.

What? You say you don’t agree? OK, let me rephrase that.

The use of social media is changing my world and here’s one way in which it’s doing so: I’m reading more.

I’ve always been an avid reader. As a kid, I was a bookworm. When summers came around, I visited the bookmobile once a week. (The town in which I grew up was small enough then that we didn’t even have our own library.) Mom would drive me to the grocery store parking lot and wait in the car while I checked out my books for the week. Each week, I’d select seven books since I devoured a book a day. And, I read everything — fiction, nonfiction, biographies — I was interested in everything.

As an adult, I’ve continued to be an avid reader, although I can’t say I’ve kept up my former book-a-day record, even during the summer months. For years, the first section I’d grab form the Sunday New York Times was the Book Review. I still enjoy that section, though I’m reading it online, of course. And, I seem to go in phases, moving from an all-fiction mindset (to “fuel my creativity”) to an all non-fiction mentality (to “learn things”). Deep down inside, I know that whether I’m reading fiction or non-fiction, I’m always learning.

But, here’s the surprise for me. Since embracing several social media tools, especially Twitter, I’m reading more. I didn’t notice an uptick in my reading when the web came along. Even with the ease of researching interesting new books on the web, the frequency of my reading seemed to remain about where it had been for years. But, I am reading more thanks to Twitter.

By following fascinating people, I’m being directed to interesting websites and blogs every day. I think the key for me is the immediacy of it. Though I can’t claim to follow every link I receive, I no longer have to stop at the library, swing by the bookstore or even take time to browse amazon.com. Throughout each and every day, I allow myself to take small, meaningful, productive detours to blogs or websites mentioned by those I follow and respect. And those blogs and websites are leading me to more books — physical books, hardcover books. I keep a running list of what interests me and simply order them online in a batch of 6 or 8 at a time. Since I’m at my laptop much of each day, I still enjoy the physical relationship of reading an actual book (and my eyes do too).

The bottom line is that I’m reading more than I have in a long time. Can’t say that I’m back up to my adolescent record of a book a day, but I’m delighted to report that social media is enhancing my life in surprising ways. Reading more and reading more widely is just one of them.

Have you had your own social media surprise? If so, please share it. I welcome your comments.

July 2, 2010 Posted by | creativity, social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Networking for Business at Starbucks: An Insider’s Guide

I love coffee. I love strong, bold coffee. Starbucks is my cup of choice. I head over to my corner location every morning, rain, sleet, snow or shine. But, it’s not just about the coffee…

For me, it’s also about networking. As a small business owner, Starbucks has become an integral part of my workday. By spending a mere 10 minutes at Starbucks each morning, I’ve grown my business exponentially.

Here are 10 insider tips for making Starbucks your killer networking app:

1.  Choose well. Scope out various Starbucks locations for the best fit for what you want to accomplish. If you want to network with business owners, choose a location in an area close to (or enroute to) the types of companies you wish to do business with. Chances are, those business owners are making a coffee stop, too.

2.  Be consistent. Once you select your prime location, visit it consistently. When you become a regular, you’ll begin to develop relationships with other regulars.

3.  Scope out your prospects. Not unlike how we learned to observe and listen as we developed our Twitter strategies, I recommend observing and listening to other Starbucks customers for a while. This will help you determine who the regulars are, who your first networking targets might be and how to approach them.

4.  Make your first move at the bar. Of course, I’m referring to the condiments bar. In the short time that it takes to add cream and sugar to your cup, you can break the ice with many an interesting prospect. “Coffee…my one and only vice” works well for me. You may only get a grunt or a “have a nice day” out of the prospect at first, but considering most people are rushing off to the office, that’s a great start.

5.  Repeat daily. Continue to “break the ice” with new prospects. Keep your pipeline full. Even with one such encounter daily, your pipeline will fill quickly.

6.  Move up. At a second encounter, move up to a simple “Good morning,” as a way to acknowledge that you and your prospect now have a relationship.

7.  Advance to a higher level. With a quickly filling pipeline, you’ll soon recognize opportunities to advance the conversation to an even higher level. By your third or fourth encounter, you can offer a handshake and introduce yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be exchanging business cards.

8.  Vary your arrival time. As stated earlier, when it comes to networking, consistency is key. But, it pays to vary your arrival time occasionally by +/- fifteen minutes. This will help to broaden your prospect pool and allow for more repeat encounters.

9.  Make friends with your barista. Busy though they may be in the morning, the baristas can be some of your strongest networking allies. They know most of their customers by name and therefore, can help you out in the rare instance that you forget a name or two from your growing group of prospects.

10. Sit down. (This tip is for advanced networkers only.) Yes, I’m actually advocating that, rather than rushing off down the street with cup in hand, after leaving the condiment bar, you sit at a table and enjoy your coffee for 10 minutes. It’s a pretty simple habit to get into. Think of what 10 minutes of networking daily could do for your business. Pretty soon, you’ll be deducting your coffee costs as a true business expense!

February 28, 2010 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You. On Twitter. 10 Tips.

Last August, I wrote a post entitled “You is #1.” At that time, I was inspired by a new Yale study which revealed that “You” continues to be the #1 most powerful word in the English language, both online and off. “You” is personal. “You” attracts customers. “You” also attracts Twitter followers and keeps them engaged.

Here are my 10 tips on how You can enjoy more success on Twitter.

1. Be yourself.

2. Use your photo. If you use a logo or other avatar, I won’t get to know you. Unless you’re @HarvardBiz or @fastcompany, without that personal touch, I’ll probably lose interest and unfollow you.

3. Use your online bio to give potential followers a snippet of information about you. Your bio can make or break whether someone wants to follow you or not.

4. Whom you choose to follow reflects on you. Be choosy, and remember, as your Twitter strategy evolves and your standards change, you can unfollow anyone at any time.

5. Tell me something about you. This doesn’t mean “Here’s my company name, what I do and please buy something from me.” Tell me something about you. “Happy Birthday to you, Mozart” tells me you’re interested in classical music. “Meet you at the live music milonga tonight at 10” tells me you’re interested in tango. “Think you’ll appreciate today’s op-ed by @NYTimesFriedman on healthcare reform” tells me even more about what interests you.

6. Ask my opinion. Show that you’re interested in me, in how I think and in the issues that matter to me. “What do you think about the new iPad? Is it just an iFad or here to stay?”

7. Ask me what I’m doing. Questions like “What are you reading lately?” or “What are you listening to on your iPod right now?” can really start the conversation.

8. Do tell me what you’re doing, but do so in a way that reveals more about you. Rather than tweeting “I overslept this morning,” a more engaging tweet might be “Stayed up way too late last night reading Roger Martin’s new book, The Design of Business. Overslept, but it was worth it.”

9. Tweet your thoughts. Sure, re-tweeting is encouraged and adding links to other people’s content is an effective strategy. But, make it a priority to regularly post your own thoughts. What is important to you right now? Share that with me. At least 20% of the time, post tweets in your own words. Let me know you can think on your own, that you have opinions and that you truly wish to foster a relationship with me.

10. And, be yourself. (Did I mention that?)

February 3, 2010 Posted by | creativity, design thinking, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2009: Journey Into the Marketing Unknown

A close friend recently sized me up this way: “You’re most comfortable residing in the ‘unknown’ because that’s where the most learning takes place.”

If that was an accurate assessment, then 2009 was definitely my best year ever. It was chock full of unknowns.

After 10 years as the owner of a marketing and creative design group, all of a sudden, new customers were not beating a path to my door as readily as before. Even long-time customers were scaling back on their marketing initiatives. I took a deep breath and began brushing up on my sales skills, reacquainting myself with some tried and true methods and attending a seminar or two to learn some specific tactics for selling in a down economy.

The marketing and advertising industry was in serious change mode well before the economy took its nosedive. The Internet had already changed everything. No longer were companies relying solely on traditional print and broadcast media to market their products and services. There was and continues to be a whole new set of skills necessary to compete as a marketing professional.

Several years ago, the unknowns of the online world began presenting themselves to me. Website design and email marketing were quickly becoming prerequisites for maintaining a viable business model. In true form, I jumped into those unknowns with both feet, learning as I went and happy to be doing so.

Much to my delight, even more unknowns showed up in 2009. The year has found me gaining fluency in search engine optimization, blogging and social media, especially Twitter. And, I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about design thinking to learn how better to help my business and my customers’ businesses grow in more innovative and human-centered ways. Books of particular note include Ideo’s Tim Brown’s “Change By Design” and “The Design of Business” by Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management.

Despite the unruly and disruptive nature of 2009, I was a bit sorry to see the year come to a close. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that 2010 will present even more unknowns to us all. The pace will quicken too.

Let the learning never end.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | creativity, design thinking, Marketing, Online Marketing, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Twitter “Aha” Moment

As a marketing professional, I am regularly asked, “What is Twitter?” or “How does Twitter work?”

I’ve been using Twitter for about a month now and am learning much with each successive inbound and outbound tweet. I’ve read one of the many books on how to use Twitter effectively in business. I’ve also been talking with other Twitter users about their experiences with this social media phenomenon.

This morning, though, when I was offline, I had my first Twitter “aha” moment. It happened during my weekly business networking meeting. (Yes, the one that convenes at 7:15 a.m. each Wednesday) Turns out, that’s when I’m freshest mentally, before being bombarded by all the various messages and stimuli du jour.

When it came time to give my 30-second commercial, I mentioned my name, company name and quick list of services I provide (as usual). Next, I quoted from an article that I had just read online and how, historically, companies that continue to focus on marketing and advertising during a recession, benefit from increased market share for many years following the recession.

First, simply by passing along that information, I built credibility for Cochran Creative Group. Then, no fewer than four other members of the group tagged on to what I had said within their own commercials, agreeing with me and adding their own personal touch to what I had stated. In each case, the member publicly endorsed me by name. My credibility level was elevated within the group just by having four other members listen to what I had to say, repeat it (“re-tweet” it in Twitter-ese) and add to it. There were approximately 50 business people in the room so, assuming they were all awake, my “marketing during a recession” mention received 250 impressions! That meant 250 impressions for Cochran Creative Group within a span of a few minutes, helping to further position me as an expert in my field.

This is exactly what happens every day, tens of thousands of times, at a rate of 140 characters per tweet, among the millions of Twitter users around the world. Think about it. The possibilities are mind-boggling!

Please comment, sharing your own Twitter “aha” moment and/or how you’re embracing Twitter within your business.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment