February 28, 2011

Your Expanding and Contracting Universe

From Wikipedia: The Big Bang was the event which led to the formation of the universe. Based on the best available measurements as of 2010, the original state of the universe existed around 13.7 billion years ago, which is often referred to as the time when the Big Bang occurred. The theory is the most comprehensive and accurate explanation supported by scientific evidence and observations.

Followers, blogs, influence, friends, podcasts, connections, the list goes on and on and grows with every passing opinion. Our individual universe may be expanding and contracting and heating up and cooling down. Yet we often look at right now as the way it will always be while we worry about yesterday and tomorrow. Some say it’s about the numbers, others claim it’s not about the numbers. You need to use this device, that platform, this interaction, that design. We seek answers outside to confirm or deny our theories and beliefs.

Your Universe

Now take all that big brain stuff and apply it to your life, your career or your business. I’m often asked whether I can help prospects get from where they are, to where they want to be which points to our collective impatience. They want a guarantee, today.

We put these numbers and gauges on ourselves as if they are some sort of finishing line. Now some would say I should simply say yes and grab the money. After all, most clients want a quick win now over a long win later. Logic would deny that statement, action proves it.

Who’s Buyin’? Who’s Sellin’?

Let your mind drift back to all the jobs you’ve had, people you’ve worked with, people you’ve dated, people you went to school with and imagine they are all in one large venue. Now do the same with only the people you interact with now. It may be smaller but perhaps stronger; it may be wider in some areas and deeper in others. If we fast forward a few years, it may look much different than today.

But unlike the big freeze, the big bang, the big rip or the big crunch, you only have to worry about your network which continues to expand and contract. We are not collecting numbers like dusty trinkets on the mantle, these are people who touch our lives if even for a moment when they click “follow” or “friend”.

How will you embrace and nurture your universe?

knealemann

image credit: moolf

February 26, 2011

Consume. Connect. Collaborate.

You are looking at a box that has been in the spare room or basement for a while and you wonder what you should do with its contents. You don’t even know why you’re keeping it but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of it. You may need it one day. It seems to be easier to build up clutter than clear it out of your life.

Now imagine if some of that stuff was wanted by others. And you've been looking for some of their stuff. The old cliché – one person’s trash is another person’s treasure is alive and well. And technology has allowed us to accelerate it through the social web.

You could hold a garage sale or post some of the stuff on a website for sale. You could also visit a social networking swap site for some collaborative consumption.

Rachel Botsman is the co-author of a book entitled What's Mine Is Yours. She also consults and speaks about the power of collaboration and sharing through online social networks. Botsman founded an innovation incubator called CCLab which works businesses of all sizes to help them with collaborate consumption.

This is her recent presentation at TEDx Sydney.


knealemann

visual credit: TED

February 25, 2011

Digital Peer Pressure


Be Yourself and Fit In

When we are born, we are at the mercy of those taking care of us. We are not laden with fears of career development or revenue growth. Our focus does not rest on gaining more prominence in our field of expertise. And any thought of what others may think of us, is years away. Then something strange happens – we begin to grow up in a world with others around us.

I have a colleague who has a delightful six year old daughter. She is one of those kids who just embraces life, laughs constantly and fills any room with a bright light and remarkable essence. This is one cool kid. But recently, her school mates have been making fun of what she wears to school. She doesn’t “fit in” with their conformed image of what a six year old should wear. Six years old! SIX? Are you kidding me!?! If you have kids, you may have similar stories.

What They Think

As children get into adolescence, peer pressure is unrelenting. They beg their parents to buy that brand of jeans and they can’t fathom using that inferior device when all their friends have an iPhone. They feel like outcasts if they don’t fall in line to a list of items authored by an omnipresent group known as 'them'.

In the online world, some have deemed themselves experts while others are self-proclaimed rule makers of all things digital. And what is scary is there are many who have very little experience helping businesses grow but have mastered how they look in the digital classroom.

“Them” Are With Us For Life

It is important that you and your company have a presence online. However some feel that means quantity over quality. While we focus on trying to keep up with the rest of the kids in the class, we forget one essential item and that is our unique selling proposition. It is not a faster, leaner, brighter, cheaper product – it is us and what we bring to the equation. Having a website, being on Facebook, mastering SEO is simply not enough. Your offer falls to pieces when a customer wants to buy something.

I read a post this week about the explosion of online couponing which isn’t surprising. Groupon is the fastest company to reach a billion dollars in annual revenue. There are hundreds who are trying to replicate that success. Many organizations are doing what they do because their competition is doing it. In the quest to differentiate, many are conforming to 'them'. And it began when they were six years old.

Learning what works for others and applying some of it to your situation may be wise. Copying them simply to fit in, may not be a compelling enough reason. What are your thoughts?

knealemann

image credit: istock

February 24, 2011

The Social Media Lottery

Return on Business Investment

We have all let ourselves dream about what we would do if we won the jackpot. We think of the freedom and how we could focus on a life without bills or financial strain. One ticket and we're set.

If you don't already, imagine you manage or own a company. You know all the digital channels are the hot topics, mobile is a platform that is growing exponentially and it`s time for you to get going in a big way. You feel your competitors are leaving you behind and revenue is affected.

Trickery won't help a bad idea

There is endless discussion about how the social web can build your business, find you revenue and accelerate your objectives. But there is just as much chatter about the time suck, cost and return on investment. Some people feel it's enough to simply have a profile or two and call that participation. While others insist there is one iron clad way to navigate all the channels.

So sit back and let your mind drift. Imagine hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, a Facebook group that makes others weep and a YouTube channel that is breaking all records. Your weekly podcast is the highest rated on the Internet and sales have never been bigger. Your website is an SEO expert’s dream and Google AdWords is bringing in more customers than you can handle.

Did you buy a ticket yet?

knealemann

image credit: thingamy

February 23, 2011

23 Ideas That Might Just Work

• Make time for think time
• Help someone without them knowing
• Call them back
• Make it about them
• Bury the past
• Laugh at least once a day
• Be honest about your efforts
• Take responsibility
• Complaining solves nothing
• Be clear on your offer
• Do nothing for five minutes
• Sell your strengths
• Stop comparing yourself to others
• Trust your gut
• Connect don’t collect
• Say no
• Pick up the phone
• Own your decisions
• Buy your weaknesses
• Balance confidence with competence
• Self doubt won’t help
• Don’t hesitate this time
• Be kind to yourself

What is on your list?

knealemann

February 22, 2011

Motivation Can Be Our Biggest Obstacle

What Will We Do?

I technically own my own business. But really, I am an idea guy with a bunch of years of experience helping clients with marketing strategy and digital presence while ensuring it helps their overall business objectives. And it needs to make sense for their situation and abilities. In other words, theory won't help a soul without realistic actionable ideas.

One issue that is similar to every manager or owner I speak with is there is always pain and there are always items they want to improve, just like me and you. My clients and prospects are always looking for ways to  bring value and increase the revenue line, just like you and me. And I need to continue prospecting and I'm sure you do as well.

You Are Busy Enough

Some have suggested that I must be far too busy to speak with potential new clients or discuss new projects. If your local coffee shop had no customers for the next month, they would have no business. I'm always up for a meeting with someone new to discover how I may help them. How about you?

But wanting to grow and moving forward with the action you need to do it are two very different things. It takes motivation to keep moving forward. And as my friend Mitch Joel says, this isn't just business, this is personal. So if you own your own business, rejection can crush motivation.

Last week I met with someone in the morning who is starting a business and a senior executive from a large corporation in the afternoon and the conversations were remarkably similar. Both want to look at ways to better navigate what they could do to reach their goals. The same is true for the 100 people attending my upcoming social media workshop in March. The same is true for you and me.

Biggest Factor is Motivation

Whether you are a sole proprietor or a c-level executive running a publically traded organization with a global footprint, you must find ways to lead while motivating your team and yourself. Leadership can be a lonely journey within a team environment.

This is particularly delicate if you or your company is active online. You have to stay positive and you can’t post stuff that bums people out. No one wants to read it. You have to find the balance between connecting and selling while you navigate the overwhelming amount of data. Welcome to the human race.

To-Do List Keeps Growing

Much goes into running a business and this becomes especially clear when you are running your own company. You have to be the person finding new customers, developing and revising offerings, creating new content, while delivering the best results for clients.

Context is important but it can distract us. We can get preoccupied by what others are doing and comparing those efforts to our own. We can become unmotivated. We must remember that every situation is different and our perception is often not their reality.

How do you keep yourself and others motivated?

knealemann

image credit: sportsillustrated

February 20, 2011

We Are All Makers

Whether you run a business, work for others or spend your weekends at your hobby or craft, you are a maker. We produce objects and content, we share ideas and create products. No matter what “job” you have, you create something.

Dale Dougherty co-founded O'Reilly Media and is a technical publisher and conference organizer. He and partner Tim O'Reilly first coined the phrase Web 2.0. He created Make Magazine and is founder of Make Faire which has annual events in New York, Detroit and San Francisco.

Here he explains his one simple theory. [video]


Kneale Mann

video credit: TED

February 18, 2011

Giving Lip Service to Change

You have heard the quote “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Some say it was Einstein, some say it was Franklin. The point is the meaning behind it.

I have worked with business owners who have tried it the other way around. They narrowed the focus, found the niche, then measured success against the wide mainstream. They did different things expecting the same results.

What does change feel like?

There are theories that we build our set of values by the age of five. After that, it’s all experience and execution. Marriages split after decades of partners trying to change each other. Elections are won by candidates promising change.

Change is not easy. Change requires energy and focus and sustained attention. Change is something that sounds good when someone else says it. Change can fight you. Change can be elusive. Change wears many disguises. Change starts from our core, not our minds. Change is freely available when we want to grab it.

Change is right here

I was speaking with a colleague this week who was commiserating about a client who says she wants change in her organization yet her actions prove the opposite. And I reminded him that most of us like the concept of change but we don’t have a clue what it feels like when it’s happening. Most of us don't realize how deep rooted our habits are which often block change. And those habits once represented change.

Change is awkward and unsure. The ground begins to move beneath us and we crave for things to return to "normal". We are creatures of habit and like to feel safe and comfortable. We may scan the menu but there are usually only a handful if items we order each time we're back to the restaurant.

Say or Do

This is increasingly more difficult in an organization. The economy is still down in many areas of the world yet on the threat of their very survival, companies often fail to realize a necessary organizational shift. Often the people uttering the decree for change aren't willing to change themselves.

There are two significant issues going on – the sheer will of stakeholders to keep their status quo and the monumental task of building inspirational leadership.

Change is not this. Change is unknown. Change can be exciting. Change is unproven. Change can be scary. Change requires a leap of faith. Change can conquer courage. When the bottom line is the only objective, affecting change can often be an illusive pipe dream.

How have you affected change?

knealemann

image credit: googleimages

February 16, 2011

The Information Super Saturated Highway

Check The Lane Before Merging

If you own a company, manage a business, run a department or contribute to a team, you are frightfully aware of the time constraints that face you every day. You have deadlines and meetings, emails and projects as well as constant reminders of the bottom line. And what should you do about all this online stuff?

There are close to two billion of us online reading, digesting, publishing, sharing, tweeting and conversing. The amount of content published in a day is unrelenting and new spaces are being built constantly.

Our Insatiable Appetite

The choices can overwhelm you, the so-called experts can hound you and the decision remains how to improve the organization. And unless your company is called “campaign”, you need a strategy and long term solutions.

It’s not difficult to find someone who will lay claim to their vast knowledge of all things digital through blog webinars, Facebook symposiums and how-to LinkedIn seminars. Black hat or white hat, the recent JC Penny story blew a hole through the SEO world. Yet with a click of your mouse, you will be falling over self-proclaimed experts who can give you link bait and search juice for a handsome fee.

Under The Hood

Perhaps the not so sexy but valuable aspect of the social web that few talk about is research. Over and above any activity you partake through the myriad digital spaces, you can unearth rich useful information about your company, what people are saying about you, topics that are important to you and what your competitors are doing through regular digital audits.

With over 600 million daily search inquires on Twitter, someone seems to be digging around for information. And over a third of us online have presence on Facebook where we share more than 30 billion pieces of content every month.

And There's More

YouTube is the second largest search engine, next to parent company Google and fifth most visited website on the planet. It served more than 75 billion video streams to over 375 million unique visitors last year. And if you're looking for even more research, you can check out SlideShare which features hundreds of presentations in your industry. And there are hundreds of other spaces available.

The information out there can be gathered, analyzed and implemented. And constant research of the social web can positively effect the bottom line.

Is that a valuable use of your resources?

kneale mann

image credit: istock

February 14, 2011

Do You Text and Drive?

Our non-stop 24/7 world is great when we want to connect along platforms and interfaces, channels and media. But there is a downside. Think back to the last time you sent an email on your mobile device while you were driving. If you haven’t done it, good for you. If you have, you are lucky.

This video is worth 11 minutes of your time. 
It could save your life.


knealemann

visual credit: AT&T

February 13, 2011

The Web: It’s Amazing and We’re Not Amazed

Humans are inherently curious. This doesn't mean you have to be a PhD candidate in biophysics to be interested in finding answers. Our curiosity brings ideas which can often turn into bigger ones if we allow them to flourish.

The earliest ideas for a computer network intended to allow general communications among computer users was formulated by a dude named Joseph Licklider who was a computer scientist. He had this idea in the early 1960s he called it the “Intergalactic Computer Network”.

By the late 1960s, the U.S. Department of Defense hired Licklider to lead the Behavioural Science Command and Control initiative at the Advanced Research Projects Agency or Arpa. He convinced some influential people on the project that his idea of building a network of connected computer had some merit. That was the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network or the Arpanet.

The Arpanet becomes the Internet

Now we can click here, tweet there and spend far too much time complaining that it’s just not this enough or that enough. As Louis CK says, everything is awesome and nobody’s happy. We are tripping over technological breakthroughs every day and we still complain. I loaded a software upgrade yesterday and was complaining how slow it was within about two minutes. Case rested.

What now seems like a lifetime ago, back in 2007, Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly did a review of the first 5,000 days of the Internet as we know it. So add another 1,000 or so since then and see if our predictions can possibly keep up with advancements and reality. Feel free to make some predictions and we’ll see if you’re right in another couple thousand days.



knealemann

visual credit: TED
Other TEDTalks by Kevin Kelly.
Also published on Social Media Today

February 11, 2011

Help from the Social Web

A recent status update on Facebook: "Kneale Mann wonders how the social web has helped your career and business".


It generated some good emails and wall responses.

Nila "Expanded connections. I've been able to branch out beyond the network of people and resources I had before diving into the social web. The outcome has been expanded a stable of collaborators, additional business opportunities and greater access to information that helps me help clients better."

Alison "Not helped career but has sure helped through another move and the transition of isolation in a new town. Always someone to talk to here."

Jon "I was so leery at first. I wondered about privacy issues then time issues then revenue issues. Now I'm disciplined with my time online and can point to three clients all because of that."

Pat "It gave me a new start personally and a new career that turned into a passion, and great people all over the world to call friend and mean it."

Kelly Ann "Can I just "second" the previous comments? It's how I met you Kneale!"

Sheila "I can directly track $100,000 in sales to  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, all have different audiences and different relationships. Blogging allows me to share useful info with clients. Socmed gives me immediate contact with hotels, cruise lines, airlines and travel agents around the world."

Sean "It change my life. I found a gig, met my wife and a bunch or great colleagues, clients and friends. But it takes time. Don't expect it all to come together in a few days or months. And you don't have to allow it to become a time suck."

Carol "Allows me to reconnect and stay current with friends around the world who I've met and don't see often enough. Had a Hungarian colleague comment that he'd also attended a Leonard Cohen concert last year after I posted about it (albeit I attended the Tampa concert, he attended in Hungary). Connected life is good!"

Joanna "It allows me to be a real person with people in my area that I would never normally talk to on a regular basis. Lets them get to know me as a person as opposed to just an advisor or neighbour."

How has the social web helped you?

knealemann

image credit: shareasyougo

February 9, 2011

The Anatomy of a Digital Audit

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesnt work if it's not open."
Frank Zappa

Part of how I help clients is to take a clear snapshot of their organization online. The Internet is a busy place full of opinion, noise, content, accurate and inaccurate information. But the same can be said about your organization.

Small, medium or large, your company has stuff it needs to work on. It also has things that it does well and issues that need to be addressed to improve. And for that, welcome to the human race.

Good Communication meets Miscommunication

A digital audit is a mix of heuristic analysis along with formal monitoring by companies such as Radian6 (not an affiliate link). It's like an x-ray with intuition. It can measure numbers of blogs,forum entries, comments, tweets,website mentions and more but it takes some additional analysis to measure tone and opinion.

The key to a unbiased digital audit is to analyze your entire web presence which includes your website, social networking profiles and any other content you generate online. It also includes conversations generated by others about you, your company and any topics that are essential to your business.

Digital is Not a Department

What often happens is money, resources and time are spent on building products and hiring qualified people then a small handful (if that) are given the task of managing all that the organization does online. This is exactly how customers feel disconnected. Internal and external communication must be a full organization initiative.

Add to that, you need to add experience and knowledge and context when looking closer at your digital footprint. I do have a couple of decades of marketing and media experience that certainly comes in handy. But every situation is different and often perception is far from reality. I have seen far too many business owners either hide behind the research or discard it. Both tactics are dangerous.

Software and Google Ain't Enough

Through an ongoing realistic online snapshot, you can gain new ways to find honest feedback from your customers through software and online searches, then collect data in pie charts and spread sheets but it won’t do you a stitch of good on its own. You need to do something with the findings or go with gut calls and opinion.

A digital audit is a process by which you look at your organization from the customer's perspective. It's also about looking at the information and being honest enough to discover what you will do about it. And if you think "everyone" has this online thing mastered, think again. The non-stop journey continues for all of us.

Are you ready to have a look?

knealemann | How can I help?

Image credit: smcdsb

February 7, 2011

Selling Stuff is Hard. Selling Yourself is Harder.

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I enjoy assisting clients in expanding their presence online and offline and seeing those plans through to execution.

As I say to prospects and clients alike, there are a lot of things you can do but the important issue is what you will do. And simply having a Facebook page or being on Twitter or creating a LinkedIn group is not enough. Interacting in a human way is critical.

We Are All In Sales

Perhaps it’s easier to show someone the benefits of a gadget over the benefits of you. Techniques may be easier to apply to the cure for wrinkles or something to get a shinier car finish than explaining why you are a better solution than others. I have lost count the number of people who have asked me if this marketing tactic "will work" and anyone who can guarantee that will be a very wealthy person.

Years ago, I worked with a remarkable sales guy who reminded me that selling stuff was hard, selling yourself was harder. You and I can both cite examples of when we bought something quicker from someone we liked. It's not a steadfast rule, but it happens. And who likes to sell themselves and more importantly who likes to be sold?

Klout won't help your bottom line

The old adage, people buy from people has never been truer than in the ever growing digital channels. In fact, it is much more likely you will listen to the endorsement of a friend or colleague before you will believe an unsolicited advertising message.

You can claim to be the holder of the rules and keys. But all that falls away when you are face-to-face with someone who is looking to you – not some doohickey or theory, but you – for a solution that will help their business. I learn stuff every single day and it's often stuff about me. Self-doubt never helped anyone but overconfidence is equally difficult to digest.

Selling yourself is difficult. But is buying into others, complex?

knealemann | How can I help?

image credit: istock
This was also published on socialmediatoday

February 6, 2011

Marketing Bowl XLV

There’s a Football Game Too
.

Each season, around the time the start of the playoffs, the chatter begins about the cost of a 30 second spot on the Super Bowl. broadcast. This year it’s $3M USD or 100 grand a second.

For years, the NFL and large companies have danced an interesting dance of airtime versus exposure. You may remember all the dot coms who blew VC cash on a 30 at halftime on the hopes the website that had no actual product or offer would turn a profit from the exposure.

Money? What Money?

Apparently, the U.S. is still limping through the worst economic downturn in eight decades yet the Super Bowl is sold out today. They somehow found enough companies to drop the coin to fill the space. But we know what airs tonight is a small fraction of the mileage each campaign will get.

Volkswagen, Dell, GoDaddy, Doritos, Best Buy, Snickers and all the rest have teased, leaked, posted, repurposed, tweeted and broadcast their campaign in every other channel, for weeks. Millions of YouTube views, Facebook likes and Twitter RTs have proven how they are leveraging their $3M to those who don’t even like football and won’t be watching tonight.

Find Them Where They Reside

The point here is as business owners of any size, you need to find ways to meet your customer – at least – halfway. And your website is rarely their first destination. The Super Bowl for most is the launch of a new campaign, yet leveraging the social channels have given them weeks, maybe even months of additional momentum.

And if you are still not convinced of the power of the social web, do a search on "Super Bowl" and you will find out that the official Super Bowl Twitter website (not profile) is higher ranked than the official Super Bowl site.

How can all this help your business?

And congratulations to Super Bowl XLV Champions - The Green Bay Packers.

knealemann

February 3, 2011

Psychographics and the Social Web

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You are an 18-34 year old white female with short or long brown or black hair who enjoys cooking and/or painting and/or gardening and/or attending plays. Tennis and golf consume 3-5 hours of your time each week and you have a bachelor's degree in Mathematics and/or Social Studies and/or English.

You enjoy 4-6 servings of alcohol weekly and spend $2,650 each year on entertainment. And according to this survey, you fit the average profile hence we are going to now send customized advertising messages to you which match your aggregated character traits.

Check Your Math

Radio talks about cumulative audience, average quarter hour and cost per point derived from less than 5% of the population while television has proprietary metrics to measure a show’s ratings compared to others in it its time slot across demographics derived from a selected sample of the population.

Print, outdoor, product placement, direct mail, e-marketing, infomercials and all other media have an equation they have devised to measure audience and impact.

Social Media have Changed the Game

Johanna Blakeley is Deputy Director of The Norman Lear Center in California and studies entertainment and how it interacts and impacts political, commercial and social habits. This is her presentation at TEDWomen last December. [video]


knealemann

video credit: TED | image credit: thinkgeek
This was also featured on socialmediatoday

February 2, 2011

Connected on a Snow Day

If you grew up in an area of the world where there was winter, you were privy to a certain rite of passage. The word would begin to spread. Could it be true? Was school closed tomorrow? Would it be a day to play and be free?

This week, most of eastern North America is getting slammed with the worst storm in years and the social web is filled with comments about the crush of snow.

As we grow up, the concept of a snow day changes rapidly. The prospect of a day off, is replaced by an earlier alarm, slow commute or packed transit options as the collective grump slowly makes its way to work. School may be cancelled but work remains open and we're expected to make it in.

But with close to two billion of us online doing work, connecting through social channels, conducted webinars and conversing via email, how many are really stuck in bad weather? We have laptops and mobile devices, Internet access and video conferencing which all help us stay connected, do business and meet deadlines no matter the forecast.

While others commiserate about the weather, how can you move your business forward on a snow day?

knealemann | How can I help?

image credit: realsociology
 
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