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 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

Who Me? Use Twitter? 10 Reasons Why You Should

10 Good Reasons For Using Twitter
  1. To become a better listener
  2. To learn to say more with less
  3. To join in the conversation, globally
  4. To network, globally
  5. To allow your customers to get to know you
  6. To learn what others are saying about your company
  7. To attract new audiences
  8. To foster ideation
  9. To stay current
  10. To interact with society

Why and how do you use Twitter? I welcome your comments here or via Twitter. You’ll find me @cochrancreates.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | creativity, Marketing, Online Marketing, social media | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ways To Help You Get Creative

Note: Hearing that 10 is a magic number as far as the search bots and retweet-ers are concerned, I’m consolidating my two earlier posts into one.

Aren’t Feeling Particularly Creative These Days?

You’re not alone. Many people admit to being so distracted by the avalanche of stimuli demanding their instant and constant attention that they have lost the ability to be creative. Here are ten tips to help get you back on a more creative track:

1) Do a little something new every day. By challenging yourself to make even a small daily change to the status quo, you’ll unleash some pent-up creativity. Examples: Take a different route to the office or to the coffee shop. Or, order something you’ve never tried before at the cafeteria or lunch counter. Who knows? All this newness could become a creative habit.

2) Talk to interesting people. Seek out people who challenge you to think about topics that are new to you. Everywhere you go, try to catch the eye of someone who looks interesting or different. Start the conversation yourself. You’ll both benefit.

3) Take a walk. When in doubt, take a walk. (This one, I learned from my dog). Walking out-of-doors stimulates your brain cells. Just the act of moving around puts a creative new spin on things.

4) Turn off the TV. As “creative” as some of those sitcoms may be, just sitting and staring at a screen is no exercise for your brain (right side or left).

5) Listen to Bach. More than any other composer, Bach’s music is so orderly and exquisitely structured that, just by listening, we get the equivalent of “defragging” the hard drives in our minds. You’ll immediately feel less cluttered. Trust me: it works and you’ll enjoy yourself in the process.

6) Get away from your computer. Many creatives claim they are creating at their computers. I disagree. I believe creativity happens when we disconnect from technology, at least temporarily. Our computers and accompanying software are simply tools for executing our creative ideas.

7) Limit yourself. Yep, that’s right. Research shows that when you have too many options (the proverbial blank slate), you can actually hinder creativity. When you begin a creative project, allow yourself just a few tools and make up some ground rules. By boxing yourself in a bit, you’ll force yourself to be more resourceful and creative. Try it!

8) Learn to tango. The true Argentine tango is the most improvisational of all dance styles. After only a couple of lessons with a good instructor, you’ll learn the few basic steps. Then, you and your dance partner can step out at a milonga and create your own dance according to the mood, the music and what you wish to communicate to each other. Argentine tango may be the only dance form that allows for unlimited creativity. There are no wrong moves in tango.

9) Fall in love. (Note: Can be combined with #8.) According to a new study at the University of Amsterdam and recounted in Scientific American last week, thinking about love triggers global processing which, in turn, promotes creative thinking. According to the researchers, romantic love induces a long-term perspective and allows the mind to make remote and uncommon associations. I’m convinced!

10) Travel. Akin to the global processing theory of #9, traveling spurs creativity in most of us. Getting away, near or far, stimulates our minds and clears out past clutter. In particular, travel to unusual locales opens up our minds to new ways of looking at things. Supposedly, even just thinking about traveling can get those creative juices flowing. (And, yes, you have my permission to book that trip to Buenos Aires to learn the tango right away!)

Let me know your thoughts. How do you get creative?

October 9, 2009 Posted by | creativity | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

You Is #1

Nope, that’s not a typo.

According to the Psychology Department at Yale University, “You” continues to be the #1 most powerful word in the English language. In today’s world of on-line communication, words are more important than ever. With Twitter, for instance, you are limited to a maximum of 140 characters per tweet. What you say is still important; how you say it and which words you choose continue to be even more important.

Keep your communications personal. Try to use “you” throughout each and every day. Use “you” when you send emails, tweets and thank you notes (remember those?). Use “you” in your blog posts, in your advertising copy and in lively discussion around the lunch table.

“You” is powerful. “You” is personal. “You” is still #1.

Let me know what you think and, for the record, here are the other nine bon mots according to the Yale study:

2. Results

3. Health

4. Guarantee

5. Discover

6. Love

7. Proven

8. Safety

9. Save

10. New

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Online Marketing | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments