Facebook communities can become powerful entities. Most of the time, they exist to keep people in touch or help with a short-term goal (event planning, fund-raising).
Two Birmingham Facebook groups have received media attention for their size and their accomplishments. One group started as a trading hub, the other as a cause.
1. Mountain Brook Trading has grown to nearly 55,000 members in a little over 2 years. It’s one of those trading groups where you can buy or sell items with neighbors, or have discussions about where to get your clothes dryer repaired.
Founder Laura Greene Silsbee has taken her closed (as in privacy, not defunct) Facebook group to two new places. The first one is a new online home at VarageSale, a platform better suited for large group interactions and commerce than Facebook. It has 21,000-plus members since opening in July.
The second one is a brick-and-mortar location in partnership with Cyd Quick Ruffino, providing a storefront for consignment sales. It opened earlier this month and received coverage on al.com.
It’s amazing to see a Facebook group turn into a full-fledged business for two entrepreneurs.
2. Save UAB Football sprang into action this month as the University of Alabama at Birmingham eliminated three athletic programs: bowling, rifle and football. With nearly 11,000 members, the closed (again, as in privacy) Facebook group has been a rallying point for students, employees, alumni and residents to fight back.
The UAB football movement has been an online juggernaut, with #FreeUAB becoming a trending hashtag worldwide in the first couple of days. The campus will be quiet for the 3-week semester break, especially after the raucous protests that greeted university president Dr. Ray Watts when he announced his decision 2 weeks ago.
The members of Save UAB Football have brainstormed tactics to win attention, recruit more followers and convince decision makers to restore the cut sports and fire Watts. The New York Times mentioned the group in one of its print/online stories.
It’s impressive to see thousands of strangers band together for a common cause.
I’ve managed my fair share of online communities over 20 years, some more successfully than others. What do you need to do to manage one successfully?
- Define the rules early on, and post them prominently. New members are always showing up, and this helps put everyone on equal footing.
- Do your job as administrator. That means weeding out spam, settling squabbles, encouraging participation and a million little tasks.
- Listen more than talk.
- Accept a group’s natural evolution. Members will leave, and some groups will wither.
Companies that create and grow powerful online communities accomplish goals they can’t do on their own. They stay connected with fans and critics. They collaborate rather than overrun. They empower others.
Join a Facebook group today to see these dynamics in action. The next community to change the world could be yours.
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Often, I am asked about blogging. Specifically, “Why should I blog? I’m no one special.”
You’re not special, but you should blog. I’m no one special, and I blog a lot.
In November, I published 75 posts on five blogs. Four were auto-generated, and two were book chapter excerpts from authors in Birmingham (and I spent time on those long posts with light copyediting).
You don’t have to be special to blog. You just have to make the time to create something and muster up the courage to hit “Publish.” Virtually no one will see your post, and you will have put a little bit of yourself out into the world.
The challenge you face isn’t that you’re an amazing person or a boring person. The challenge is that you’re trying to convert a big nebulous thing like LIFE or VIEWPOINT (or COMPANY or BRAND) into a discrete unit called a blog post.
I don’t have that problem because I’ve been writing a long time for publications. So I’ve had lots of practice converting an EVENT or an INTERVIEW or a CONCEPT into units called articles. If I wrote them quickly and accurately, I might get paid more and have better opportunities to create more interesting articles.
You will not magically write a perfect blog post for your first shot. If it takes you an hour to write one post, it make take 10,000 posts to become an expert blogger.
I’ve got maybe 6,500 posts published in 9 years. So eventually, I’ll be an expert blogger.
I blogged about weightlifting and dieting for a couple of years on Project Bulk. On Day 1, I had zero knowledge about either subject. Zero. But after the first 6 months, fans would come up to me to talk about that one site. They were interested because I was open and passionate about learning more in these two areas.
A stranger at a tailgate party this past weekend knew me from my posts on Media of Birmingham; my last post there was a year ago. But he remembered because he’s interested in local journalism and was kind enough to read my stuff. That is high praise in my book.
You can create those memorable engaging stories for your company. (And yes, your company isn’t special either.) Don’t plan it to death: Create something, hit “Publish,” repeat.
You absolutely do not have to be special to blog. But blogging again and again can actually make you special.
• • •
Don’t wait for Santa to bring you a new blog.
Contact me to get started blogging today.
I hope you’re getting ready for a day of fun and relaxation and maybe even a little reflection. And eating, of course, mustn’t forget the eating.
I’m thankful every day for good health and many opportunities. Allow me to share a few specifics from my long list of blessings.
- I’m thankful for my clients, sponsors, supporters and cheerleaders. You bring me new challenges and new ways to serve.
- I’m thankful to run my own business. It has taught me so many lessons from top to bottom and put my energy and my strategic thinking to the test.
- I’m thankful to have ideas all the time. I give most away, and make some money on the rest.
- I’m thankful for the honest and wise counsel of friends. And doubly thankful that I listen carefully when they speak.
- I’m thankful for the gift of self-doubt. It has kept me honest with myself and humble (mostly).
- I’m thankful for having traveled far and wide this year to give talks and meet people.
- I’m thankful for being able to curb my sharp tongue, but also being able to speak up when few others will.
- I’m thankful for my daily blogging, a never-ending opportunity to be creative and to improve as a writer and a communicator.
Take a moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for, and share it in the comments, please.
Video: “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” a TED Talk from Amy Cuddy
Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.
That’s the surprising advice social psychologist Amy Cuddy, at left, gives in her 2012 TED Talk. She explains how “power poses” can inspire confidence before speeches, job interviews and other stressful situations.
I gave similar advice in one recent stress-inducing encounter.
Friday, I had to conduct a mock college admissions interview with a local high school junior. This was part of a high school speech class assignment. She admitted afterward that she was nervous, but I didn’t see (or hear) it during our 25-minute session.
I advised her to speak up. I could hear her OK, but I suggested that speaking in a louder, definitive tone would boost her confidence. I told her to try it out as often as possible: one on one, in groups, in class.
I’ve been working on my posture for 2 years, so I understand how this change in personal projection can affect others.
We can all do little things to both improve our communication and our presence. Cuddy’s talk goes a step beyond looking the part by explaining the science behind how these poses make us bolder. We’re not only changing others’ minds — we’re changing our own.
Watch the video, and try out the poses to see how they affect you.
You may become more powerful than you ever realized, even if you started out faking it.
• • •
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I gave the lunch keynote at the Alabama Media Professionals’ inaugural conference, Navigating Today’s Media, last week. My topic was “Why the collapse of the Birmingham media ecosystem is a good thing.”
If you missed it, check out the tweets from my standing-room-only presentation.
My thanks to the attendees and the organizers for a fine event!
Bill Ledbetter, tweeting my presentation, won a prize for his update!
• • •
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Author and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi has a great system for email marketing. He sat down with Tim Ferriss for a two-part 2-hour podcast recently.
Listen to his ideas and tips on not only putting the right message in the email, but also reading every reply (in the thousands) and responding.
(That conversation starts around the 35-minute mark.)
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I spoke at Southwired (formerly Digital Atlanta) on curation. The slides from “Content Curation for Smarties: Know Everything All the Time” are available on this site.
See all the great tweets from attendees at my hourlong presentation.
I’m honored to be a keynote speaker at the Alabama Media Professionals’ conference later this month.
Navigating Today’s Media will have me and ABC 33/40 anchor Pam Huff as keynoters at its daylong event on Oct. 23 at Innovation Depot in downtown Birmingham. My lunchtime talk is titled “Why the Birmingham Media Ecosystem Collapse is a Good Thing,” and I’ll have quite a bit to cover in those 30 minutes.
The official description:
Poor coverage. Clickbait. A drought in a society drowning in information. Birmingham is at the forefront of a disturbing trend: media collapse. The city loses with the consolidation of corporate owners, the dumbing down of journalists and the resulting chaos.
Consultant and veteran journalist Wade Kwon sees opportunities amid the ruins, for freelancers, for PR professionals, for brand managers. Discover the hidden benefit to media implosion in his keynote presentation.
The conference is $85, and tickets are available online.
I hope you’ll join us for a provocative and meaty look at local media situation and how communications professionals can benefit.
• • •
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Lead generation can be tricky for companies, whether they’re brick-and-mortar entities or online only.
In this video, Diana Urban (@DianaUrban, formerly at HubSpot) and Laura Maiurano (@lauramaiurano at Bitly) share their steps on building better landing pages to generate leads. They explain how to write the headlines, how to keep the copy short, how to select the right image and button and more.
The webinar hosts emphasize testing different landing pages to achieve optimal signup rates. The more visitors taking your offer, the more leads to contact. (They even explain how to tweak your page if you have too many leads.)
Note: The audio cuts out a few times during the video.
Watch the presentation and get to work on your offers, your pages and your sales.
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Cutting-edge communication involves a lot of gibberish. Terms I may know that you may not know. Terms I may not know but use anyway.
Terms used by the media. Terms used by competitors. Terms thrown about with little understanding and exaggerated importance.
It’s my responsibility to use easy-to-understand language and to explain terminology when asked. I should make ideas and processes as clear and digestible as possible.
I remember the first time I heard the phrase “inside baseball” in a newsroom and had no idea what it meant. I asked, because I’d rather be temporarily seen as ignorant than permanently actually ignorant.
(Wikipedia: “Inside baseball refers to a detail-oriented approach to the minutiae of a subject, which in turn requires such a specific knowledge about what is being discussed that the nuances are not understood or appreciated by outsiders.”)
(And yes, at the time I asked, Googling wasn’t a thing.)
I do public speaking regularly, and I encourage audiences to ask questions whenever I present a concept that is unfamiliar or poorly defined. People won’t always raise their hands, and I don’t blame them. I anticipate as best as I can.
Any expert in any industry knows their jargon, but their audience may or may not. SEO, retweet, trackback, moderation, affiliate marketing, curation, targeting, plugin — all terms I use and all terms I may need to explain when used.
The challenge for any client is making informed decisions. They are no more able to pick the right marketer than I am at picking the best mechanic. I can take my car to different shops, receive different estimates and review different testimonials. In the end, I’m taking a leap of faith in who will actually repair my vehicle properly and cheaply.
This blog is a way I can overcome the problem of gibberish. Answering questions from any channel (email, comments, social media, phone, raised hand) is another way.
We can all improve in our communication, and minimizing gibberish is an important step.
• • •
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Before you start blogging, you need a goal. The best goals are measurable over a period of time.
(So “Improve customer satisfaction rate determined by surveys from 60 percent satisfied to 70 percent satisfied within 3 months” is better than “Improve customer service.”)
I have suggestions for goals …
- Show expertise.
- Answer customer questions.
- Show products, including features, demonstrations, assembly and uses.
- Build a mailing list.
- Sell products.
- Establish a brand and corporate values.
- Humanize a company.
- Foster community outreach.
- Go behind the scenes.
- Help people.
- Collect customer leads.
- Conduct market research.
- Improve SEO.
- Show off company through rich media, including photos, videos, charts, infographics and slides.
- Promote events.
- Inspire people.
- Experiment and test hypotheses.
- Provide public accountability.
- Foster community discussion.
- Talk with people.
- Increase revenue.
- Promote services.
- Manage crises.
- Recruit talent.
- Provide shareable content.
- Have a blog.
Just kidding about that last one. But for most of you, it is sadly accurate.
Define your goal so your blog is focused and moves your business forward.
What did I forget? Let me know in the comments, please.
The peril of the modern age isn’t being cut off from civilization. It’s being overwhelmed by it.
We have information from traditional media. But instead of seven radio stations and three TV stations, we have thousands. (We won’t talk about newspapers, or consolidation of corporate ownership.)
We have information from emails, text alerts and news sites. But also blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, streaming video and more.
Curation is a must for any content marketing professional in 2014. Curation is how I turned my first blog ever into a destination for readers and Google searchers.
Why should you master curation?
1. Save time. Instead of hunting for blog post topics and current information in your industry, it comes to you. Set up listening posts and filters so you can stay on top of information easily.
2. Look like an expert. When you can cite data and quotes from a wide variety of sources, you look like you know what you’re doing. When you stumble for an answer, well …
3. Become an expert. You get smarter with each trip to the well of knowledge. Curation simplifies the learning process. You don’t have to know how to repair every make and model of car ever manufactured to know basic repair and maintenance. Chances are if you know how to change the oil and battery in one car, you’ll be able to do it for most cars.
4. Share with ease. Your wealth of curated info can easily be shared in media, in email newsletters, in blog posts, in presentations, in slides, in listicles, in social media and more. Build that expert reputation quickly and authentically.
5. Synthesize. Having access to the breadth and depth of news in your industry makes it possible to catalog it for others to more easily consume. You know what that makes you? Indispensable.
6. Analyze. Doing something with curated info is the most challenging, but also the most valuable. Being able to understand and forecast trends or dissect patterns of behavior can help your company outmaneuver competitors and serve your customers more effectively.
Don’t drown in information. Surf it with curation and ride the waves to new destinations.
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I had a great time at WordCamp Birmingham 2014 on Saturday. My talk focused on the Super Easy Guide to Video for Content Marketing.
Thank you to the organizers and volunteers for a terrific event. And thanks to everyone who came to my seminar.
If you missed it, let me share some insightful tweets from the audience.
Blogging with WordPress panel
I also participated in the Blogging with WordPress panel with Karla Archer, Williesha Morris and Chanda Temple. Allow me to share a few tweets from that session.
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