Social Media Marketing IS ABOUT Y-O-U

Social Media Marketing IS ABOUT Y-O-U

I know this flies in the face of much of what we hear touted by the experts. We’re so often told that everything about social media marketing should be endeavored with your ideal client in mind. I realize you’re possibly scratching your head and wondering if I’ve gone round the bend and completely off track. But give me a minute and I think I’ll get you on board and we can all round the bend to a better place where social actually IS about us.

Social media marketing “IS” absolutely about Y-O-U:

It’s about you taking the time to read and form your own opinions before you retweet an article or infographic.

Why? Because you’re in the process of building trust as an expert. And experts don’t share random crap, or worse – ideas and articles that are incompetent or irresponsible.

It’s about taking the time to read industry articles and share relevant information that benefits your audience.

Expertise isn’t gained in a silo. Social media isn’t possible solo, as we certainly can’t pretend that every idea, tip and tool is generated by us alone. It takes a village to stay up to date and on track with all of the changes to the platforms and more. Maintaining a smart and savvy peer group is a must.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Expertise isn’t gained in a silo. #Socialmedia isn’t possible solo!” quote=”Expertise isn’t gained in a silo. Social media isn’t possible solo!”]

It’s about you sharing the lessons you’ve learned during your own business journeys and travails with those about to embark on their own journeys.

We all make mistakes and we all celebrate triumphs. The highs and lows of business and entrepreneurship are the stories that help us appear human across social channels. While it might be painful to share some of these stories, it’s also freeing to share mistakes and keep your potential clients from setting down the same wrong path.

It’s about you actively engaging in conversations with others via social platforms.

While you certainly can schedule your posts in a relatively small amount of time, you can’t schedule the actual engagement. You never know when a conversations will arise and you have to be ready to actively converse, even in 140 characters or less per post.

It’s about you choosing to share of your real self and coming across like a human being, rather than an automaton.

It all goes back to that idea that you can’t schedule engagement. Social media marketing involves conversations, sometimes off the cuff and unexpected. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Canned, cut and paste or obviously scheduled responses aren’t social.

It’s about you sharing your ideas or your take on an idea so you can add something new to the discussion.

It takes knowledge and understanding to look at both sides of an idea or issue. That knowledge and understanding comes from being well read, sure, but it also means you’re willing to discuss differing ideas and interesting concepts with an open mind.

It’s about you choosing to share the other side of the story if you feel that a discussion has become a little one-sided.

If we all liked the exact same things the world would be a very boring place. There are two sides to every story, especially when it comes to social media marketing, where there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. There are many ways to converse and share with your audience and your peers. Looking at both sides of an issue shows you care enough to dig in and really seek answers that will help both you and your audience.

It’s about you making the effort.

There are no short cuts to social media marketing success. You’ve got to put in the time and effort. From reading to reaching out to peers and influencers, your task list will sometimes be long and the to-do items will be diverse. But that’s part of what makes it so exciting and fulfilling.

I think you’ve probably sussed out where I’m going with this, right? Social media marketing IS about Y-O-U sharing what your carefully cultivated audience actually wants. It involves Y-O-U making an effort, investing time and energy and actively tapping into your creativity to ensure your shares stand out from the steady stream of posts.

How do you ensure the real Y-O-U shines in your social media shares and conversations?

Decision: Purchase A WordPress Theme Or Hire A Developer?

Decision: Purchase A WordPress Theme Or Hire A Developer?

I might be breaking some web designer guild rules by saying this, BUT you do not necessarily need to hire a web designer to create your website. There are tens of thousands of supported WordPress themes out there that can be had for around $50 through sites like and These themes are generally designed for maximum accessibility without the need for extensive coding and design skills/expertise.

With a little bit of tinkering, the average computer user can have an attractive, fully functioning web site ready to go without having to learn much if any code.

The million-dollar-question then becomes; when to pick an “out-of-the-box theme” and when to shell out to have a developer create something from scratch. What follows are some general guidelines that might help you with that decision.

Go for the out-of-the-box theme when:

  1. You have the time and patience to devote to conquering the learning curve. Before you even get started with your site, you’ll need to spend a good deal of time researching different themes, reading reviews, and finding the best match (stay tuned for our article about how to choose the right theme). Once you’ve chosen a theme, that theme is likely to have its own theme options. This means that while the general framework of WordPress stays the same, you’re likely to see some interfaces that you’re not familiar with in the theme options. This can often translate to a lot of time spent guessing and testing and even spending time on the theme’s forum asking questions. If you are the type who gets easily frustrated, tread lightly here.
  2. You’re flexible with layout. Maybe you have an idea about how your site should look. If you opt to purchase a theme, chances are you’ll find several that are really close, but not exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re committed to the purchased theme, you’ll need to let some of that go. Modifying a theme that someone else has  designed can be tricky, even for an experienced developer.
  3. Your site is simple. Purchased themes are great for so called “brochure sites,” or sites that are little more than a few pages of text and place to blog.
  4. You don’t have the budget for a custom-designed site. Maybe you answered no to all of the above and deep down, you know that you need a custom developed WordPress site. If you don’t have that kind of budget, it’s far better to get a $50 theme and do the best that you can than to have no site at all. You can always hire someone to custom develop your site down the road, or you can get some help modifying the theme you’ve chosen.
  5. You’re okay with a website that looks like other sites. If you purchase a theme, it’s a sage bet that you’re not the only to purchase it. Thus, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually stumble upon someone else using the same theme for his/her site. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Some people are really miffed at the idea that their site looks like a bunch of others out there and some people are not bothered by it at all.

Go for a custom-designed site when:

  1. You have rigid branding guidelines in place. This is often the case for more established companies. They have branding and style guides that they are using elsewhere and need a website that falls in line with brand continuity. In other words, the website needs to have the same fonts, colors and general aesthetics as the summer catalog or the latest ebook. Working from the ground-up, a designer/developer can take style guidelines into consideration and make sure those rules are adhered to from the beginning.
  2. Your site is complicated. If the functionality of your site needs to go beyond a few pages and blog, you should really consider a custom site. Advanced functionality such as special user login privileges and searchable databases often require extra coding that may or may not be compatible with a purchased theme. A good developer can take this kind of functionality into consideration from the get-go.
  3. You’re expecting a lot of traffic. Purchased themes are built to essentially be Swiss army knives, meaning they are built with a wide variety of functionality that may or may not ever come into play. This can often translate to a lot of extraneous code that can bog down a site’s performance. A custom designed site can be stripped down to only the necessary code, leaving the site lean and quick in the face of heavy traffic.

If you’re unsure of which route is best for your site, send us an email. We’re happy to walk you through the process. If you go the route of the purchased theme, we offer WordPress training sessions, evaluations, and day and half-day rates if you need customization or set-up assistance.

If you decide that you need to go beyond what a purchased theme has to offer, ask us about about the successes we’ve had in custom designing and developing sites for a variety of companies.

Building Relationships By Design

Building Relationships By Design

Do you know why salespeople need to look polished at all times? Because people judge them within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.

We would all like it more if people were able to listen to what we have say, rather than focusing on how we look. It’s superficial. Shallow. And like it or not, people are going to judge you this way, too.

You have precious seconds, not minutes, to make or break your first impression.

The moment you walk in the door, your potential dream client is judging you based on how you look.

Today, your customer’s first impression happens online. They are typically 70%-80% into the buying process before they ever contact you. Those few seconds of attention they give your website can make all the difference.

Don’t Underestimate First Impressions

Relationships, in business and in life, are all about trust. We want to buy from people we know, like and trust enough to give us sound advice.

Your goal, then, is to reach out your hand to each potential customer and bring them into your world. Let them explore. Let them get to know you, and what you offer.

You can build trust with your customer through your consistency, your authority, and your service. But what about your first impression?

How are you conveying these ideals to build trust with your audience when they first visit your site? Or see your Twitter profile? Or look at your business card?

It starts with design.

The visual design of your brand is the most important tool you have to instantly make a positive impression on people. It should communicate who you are and what your story is to anyone who happens to visit. And that message should stay consistent throughout your online and offline presence.

Does your website do this for your brand?

Ask yourself:

  1. What is the most important thing I want my site to communicate?
  2. Does it show who I am and what I do within a few seconds?
  3. Can my visitors easily determine what the next steps are from the pages they land on?
  4. Do my social outposts share a common design that ties together my online presence?

If your site gives your visitors flashbacks to the nineties, or leaves them confused in any way, you’ve already lost credibility.

Thinking Through the Entire Customer Experience

Like it or not, your customers will be vetting you throughout their experience with you and your business. Every interaction you have with them is a chance to win them or lose them all over again.

After they buy from you, your customer service matters. During the sales process, what you say and how you act matters. And before they even talk to you, your appearance matters.

A professional, compelling design for your website may be the first thing people see. It can help

communicate your story to the viewer, draw them in, and begin to build trust. It’s the very first step in

the relationship building process.

People will do their research. They are probably out there right now, comparing you and your

competitors based on the first impressions they get from your website.

How will you win them over?

Clueless? Consider Keeping Quiet!

Clueless? Consider Keeping Quiet!

While many of my followers know that I’ve taken up tennis in the last two years, many may not know that before I was bitten by the tennis bug I was an avid cyclist. While I did ride the road, my real love was for the trails.

One of my long-time clients is actually a fairly well known machining company that creates industry standard bicycle components. I manage all of their social media and often find myself moderating conversations that get out of hand.

Why do they get out of hand? Because cycling creates strong opinions. And there are MANY different types of cycling. Mountain, road, cyclocross, BMX, track, etc. And everyone has a different opinion. You’ve heard the phrase about opinions, right? You know, they’re like an unmentionable (at least in polite company) body part!

Your Opinions Aren’t Always Ripe For Sharing!

Opinions in and of themselves aren’t a problem, even when they’re strong. As long as they’re based on some sort of real understanding or smarts. It’s when the opinions have no basis in actual fact that things get a little heated and I have to start throwing my social media manager weight around. And don’t even get me started when the topic turns to the riding of wet trails. Chaos reigns.

Why am I on another one of my tears? It’s not necessarily about the smarts, or lack thereof, of potentially ruining your bike and a stellar trail system. Nope. It’s really about the need of many social media managers and “experts” to take part in conversations when they really don’t understand or grasp the topic being discussed.

Getting away from cycling, I can easily share another example. Many of us share movie or music quotes. They’re fun and can help set the mood for the day or for the project. Until some clueless looky-loo feels the need to chime in with a response that leaves anyone “in the know” shaking their heads.

If I post “No more rhymes now, I mean it,” there’s only one acceptable response. That response? “Anybody want a peanut?”

Sometimes Silence Showcases Smarts!

Yet, with every post about the Princess Bride, the Big Bang Theory or REM song lyrics, there’s that one person who chimes in despite being ABSOLUTELY clueless. They don’t ask a question if they’re outside of the loop, they respond as if they know what’s going on. Even when this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I find this almost as annoying as the people who repeatedly share hoaxes as truth. Is it really that hard to check No, it’s not. Just as it’s not that hard to take the thirty seconds to Google search whatever’s being talked about before you chime in if you’re not 100% sure you’re in the know.

While I’ve shared two rather silly examples here, this clueless chatter happens on professional posts and shares all too often. It not only makes the chatterer look like a charlatan, it detracts from the professional conversation.

When you don’t understand the premise or context of a post or share, it’s ABSOLUTELY okay to remain quiet. Commenting for the sake of commenting, in these cases, just makes you look clueless!

Social Media Marketing: Do You Choose Quickly Over Quality?

Social Media Marketing: Do You Choose Quickly Over Quality?

How to articles often sprinkle, or sometimes spread thick with a trowel, the words “quickly” and “easily”. I often wonder if our desire to do EVERYTHING quickly and easily will at some point create a quality crux that damages our brand or business.

At least once a week, it seems, if not more often, we see a story go viral about how a brand or business managed to mess up via social media. Fairly often the uproar has been caused by the reaction or lack of reaction to a customer service issue. Outages and issues arise, especially in digital business and how we handle those outages and disruptions requires that we remain in tune with our audience.

I often find that the hustle to get out a message quickly, without the proper care to actually answering the questions in the complaints, can cause more problems than it manages to alleviate.

Consider this, you’re dealing with an already upset customer or client. If you don’t carefully craft your response, you have the potential for further damage to a relationship that’s already teetering on the brink of disaster. Speak too quickly, without the proper empathy and without a real answer or solution and you’re responding only to respond, rather than to aid in a real and positive result.

Canned responses or even in-real-time responses that sound canned aren’t social. They’re a rote response, not a service or product provider working to aid a client in need.

Quickly can be effective, but it can’t be by rote or canned. It has to be catered specifically to the consumer and the specific issue. While our clients and followers expect a reply within what they consider to be a “realistic” time frame (and this varies from person to person), it’s harder to deal with the backlash of a less than stellar quickie response than it is to take the time to craft a response that actually assists those dealing with the pain point that caused the complaint or query.

It’s a quality over quantity thing. Social media marketing is all about quality. Broadcasting or firehosing is about quantity. Which will you choose in the future?

No, We Can’t Design A Logo For $50!

No, We Can't Design A Logo For $50!

A.K.A. Why Are Your Services So Expensive

Mr. Hart and I often find we’re asked why our design services “cost so much?”

Especially when it comes to logos. It’s time to explain why OH why we can’t knock out your logo for tens of dollars!

A logo is just one small part of your brand. It’s not a brand in entirety, but we believe that most entrepreneurs would admit that a logo is one key element when it comes to branding, marketing and recognition. We consider your logo a “foundation” piece in your overall branding, messaging and marketing plan. It plays a huge role in both print and digital applications, requiring differing file types, permutations and more. When we deliver a logo, we factor in all of those permutations. Meaning? It’s not a one file fits all delivery.

You might need a logo in limited colors for certain print applications. We make sure that’s a possibility. Need it to work in black and white? Factored in. Need both portrait and landscape iterations? No worries. Need it to be scalable for a variety of digital and print applications from business cards to billboards? We make it happen.

As you can see, it’s not an easy 1-2-3 and done, simple design solution. But there’s even more.

Want that tagline used with the logo? Has to be legible doesn’t it? We have to factor in kerning, line spacing, readability and more. Using a script font? Will it work in all sizes? We have to check, some don’t flow as well the bigger they get. Want it bold or ALL CAPPED for specific purposes? The font has to allow for that.

The smart logo designer has to understand typography, color theory, color connotation, scalability, digital and print application and so much more.

So, no – we can’t design your logo for $50.00. Hopefully, you now understand why.

Power Down Positivity Princess!

Power Down Positivity Princess!

Before I get started, I feel I have to share a disclaimer! I AM NOT against positivity. If I am against anything it’s the idea that a positive attitude alone is all you need to succeed. That’s what I’ll be discussing if you choose to continue reading.

Let’s take a look at a couple quotes that are frequently shared across the Internet. Quotes that make me grit my teeth, roll my eyes, sometimes even smack my mouse down hard.

Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally. ~David Frost

Do what you love and the money will follow. ~Marsha Sinetar

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. ~Marc Antony

Now, the fun part for me. Debunking the ridiculosity (one of my made up terms that truly fits the topic) of each of these quotes.

None of the three quotes above factor in what we know to be true about success. You have to work for it. Nowhere is anything but loving what you do mentioned. Love what you do and that’s all it takes. What a crock of crap!

There’s no mention of the hard work. The fatigue. The customer complaints. The looming deadlines. The computer crashes. The software failures. The warranty issues. I could continue with this list for paragraphs.

I’m thrilled to do something I love in order to make a living. But let’s be perfectly clear. I work my ass off. Every single day. The alarm clock sounds off early and sometimes it’s quite dark and cold before my day is through. When projects are due and deadlines are looming, I often have to knuckle down on a weekend rather than getting out for downtime.

Positivity is fantastic as long as it isn’t used to mask reality. Too often I see quotes that don’t factor in the reality of running a business. It’s not easy. It’s not a perfectly pink primrose path. Sometimes you end up walking over a bed of nails or hot coals. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and dive into a mess. Hard work trumps a pithy quote any day of the week!

Here’s a quote that actually makes that clear:

To do what you love can sometimes be stressful. ~Toni Braxton

Positivity is a wonderful thing. I truly believe that. But positivity that isn’t grounded in reality, that doesn’t factor in that we don’t live and work in a bouncy pink bubble doesn’t do anyone any good. Positivity in the face of challenges is what takes people to the top.

When positivity is promoted as a cure all that doesn’t require hard work, sacrifice, knowledge, learning and creativity, it’s a disservice. Positivity is part of success. Perhaps the biggest part. But it’s not enough alone.

There is no positive without the negative. It’s all a careful balance. A life with only sunshine and no rain clouds would lead to scorched earth.

Do you think you balance positivity with reality? If so, how?

Pardon Me While I Promote Myself!

Pardon Me While I Promote Myself!

Self Promotion Is So NOT Social!

We’re all in business to make money and our social media and other online marketing efforts have to take that into account. But, there’s a big difference between carefully crafted brand building and relationship marketing tactics and pushy and pompous self promotion.

Are you constantly applauding your own successes?

There’s much more to marketing than “myself”. In fact, truly effective marketing efforts involves your audience – not Y-O-U.

You see it so often, especially in social media profiles and on about pages – the need to showcase how the brand or individual is so incredibly awesome.

This Guy Is The World’s Most Famous & Highly Respected Broadcaster and Communicator On TV, Radio & Online Who Believes In Truth and Justice For All

…yet, he only has a little over 1,400 followers (on Twitter) despite his prowess, power and panache across three different media promotional systems across the continent. Shocking!

Of course, numbers are not the end all be all of social prowess, popularity, what have you. But, admit it – if someone’s truly the most respected person in his/her industry, with worldwide renown and acclaim – we expect their Twitter following to be a bit higher then 1,400, right?

Those of us in the know in social spheres, though, know that the real influencers are too busy to spend that much time touting how influential they are. Because real influence requires the creation and sharing of ideas. So real influencers spend their time writing, creating, engaging in discussion and teaching, rather than touting their many achievements.

Seriously? Simmer Down Sassy Pants! Self promotion isn’t the way into the hearts and minds of your audience. It’s also not the way to impress industry leaders. Self promotion shows you’re in it for yourSELF. Social isn’t about self, it’s about community and audience. You alone doesn’t make up an appreciative audience. Self promotion is simply you giving yourself a solo standing ovation. It doesn’t impress anyone but you.

Better Business Love: You’re Not A Robot!

Better Business Love: You're Not A Robot!

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in our life!

I’m sorry, but to resort to some pre-Super Bowl football language, I’m going to have to throw a flag on that play!

I absolutely, without doubt, every ding-danged day – LOVE what I do for a living. Owning my own business means I that I engage in what I call “better business.” I get up and go right to it most mornings. But, yes – there’s a but …

I work my proverbial pardukey off each and every day, including evenings, weekends, holidays and sometimes while I’m on vacation. Working hard, working long hours, building your business – they’re part of loving what you do, part of building that better business! Sometimes I work through illness and sometimes I have to cancel fun plans to meet deadlines or to keep on track with monthly tasks, reporting and goals. I still love what I do, but I do, occasionally, have to give things up.

It’s the me that I put into the effort that makes me love what I do, what I produce. My love for what I do doesn’t control me, or automate my actions. My love for what I do allows me to better control my business. I make decisions, some more difficult than others. I don’t just forge forward each day on the same path, automatic, automated and robotic.

We’re not robots, we’re human beings. We get tired, some days we’re feeling more up or decidedly more down than others. We get sick, get the sniffles, have bad hair and pajama days as we settle in front of the computer. This, our humanity, is what we pour into our businesses.

Sometimes we get angry, sometimes we get snarky, sometimes we get sarcastic. While we don’t want to let these feelings pour unabated into our business, the occasional sharing of our “human side” can actually appeal to present and potential clients.

Just as you wouldn’t automate everything you share via social media, you can’t automate everything about yourself when you’re running a business. To say “you’ll never work a day in your life” if you love what you do demeans that love. Because we go all out, give our best and make the most effort when we’re really into something, when we really love what we do.

Hopefully this is another ridiculous blanket statement debunked.

Aggressively Awesome? Social Behavior Failure!

Aggressively Awesome? Social Behavior Failure!

I spend a little time each day seeking out and interacting with possible new connections. It’s something I endeavor to do with intent and purpose, hoping to make meaningful, mutually beneficial connections. On this particular day I was flexing my connection muscles on Twitter. And I was outgunned.

This paragon of powerful and awesome is apparently:

  • a brainiac of epic proportions
  • the best writer EVAH
  • the strongest woman at the gym, at ANY gym
  • a business genius
  • a marketing maven
  • a techie temptress
  • tipping the emotional intelligence scale
  • and does all of this in the small space that makes up her Twitter bio

Wowsers! I should, apparently, be impressed. However, I’m not. Why? Because this kind of bio screams of an aggressive attempt to alert us to a superhero presence. Folks, I love my superhero movies. They’re my go-to when I’m working on the couch with the laptop. I can spend an entire working weekend with the likes of Marvel and Justice League heroes and heroines. Yet, despite this great love for the all powerful doers of good and battlers of evil, I know that superheroes are imaginary. This is, to me, a social behavior failure of near epic proportions. Why? Read on.

In reality, where kryptonite and gamma rays aren’t factors, we’re all human. We sometimes wake up grumpy, wanting to bury our head under the pillow (this is me when the cats or husband spend the night aggressively sawing logs). Some days we spill our coffee down our shirts and have to change, sometimes twice. We have bad hair days, get lipstick on our teeth, drive too fast or too slow, break a shoelace, piss off a friend or colleague. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Sometimes we make the wrong call on a post or share. Sometimes we forget to say thank you within an hour. Sometimes, being quite honest, we’re just FAR from perfect.

The people I look up to, the people who keep me going when I’m feeling down are the kinds of people that have learned from foibles and mistakes in their human pasts and have chosen to engage in real and responsible social behavior. They don’t profess to be experts, gurus, mavens or ninjas in an industry that’s as prone to change as Cher at a gig on the Vegas strip. They prefer to engage in conversation, with plenty of getting to know you candor, rather than creating and force feeding me a laundry list of their awesome attributes.

As for the paragon of virtue described above? I chose not to connect with her. Maybe I’m just not awesome enough? Maybe it all boils down to me being insecure or even scared. But I’m just not really up to connect with someone who probably thinks she poops pink peonies! How’s that for some alliteration?!?!

What kinds of social behavior set your teeth on edge? Please do share in the comments!