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Think about fear for just a minute.
Is it always a bad thing? I would argue that it isn’t and what fear sometimes does is elicit courage, by default. Fear can make us find the biggest, brightest ideas of our lives. It can make us move faster, make quick decisions and throw caution to the wind.
Fear is a tool that, when used accordingly, can push us to greatness.

In my last post: Six ways to get social media buy-in from the boss, the underlying theme was scare the heck out of your boss if he or she keeps pushing off innovation and incorporating social media into the fabric of the organization. It was subtle in may ways, but present nevertheless. One of my suggestions was to accentuate the negative content found about the company through a Google search, and touting the social media efforts of competitors.

Richard Millington, a blogger I read regularly and respect a great deal, reminded me in the comments area that one should be wary of focusing solely on the negatives for participating in social media. He added: “I think it’s also important to have some great case studies from relevant industries, do some twitter searches for your industry’s subject matter and demonstrate how easy it is to reach so many poeple.”

Richard is right.

But some eggs are harder to crack than others. If you work for one of those eggs, you know what I’m talking about. So, consider fear as a tool and add it to your arsenal.

Show them that they are being left in the dust. Make them move faster, make quick decisions and throw caution to the wind.

Scared? Good. Courage is right around the corner!

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I’ve gotten quite a few new followers on twitter lately, so I decided to take 20 minutes to check them all out and decide who I would “follow” in return. I clicked on the link for someone called “feedthe pig” and received this message:

“This account is currently suspended and is being investigated due to strange activity.”

Anyone know what that could be about?” Perhaps he was literally trying to feed pigs. I can see how that would be considered strange.

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If you’ve been preaching about the benefits of social media and urging your superiors to jump in head first, only to find that it continues to fall on deaf ears, allow me to suggest a change in approach. Here are six ideas that may help you with your mission. Use one, or use them all. What’s important is you just keep trying!

  1. Accentuate the negative Do a Google search and find something negative that’s been written about your organization or company. Find several. Send them in an e-mail marked urgent. Use bold type and write something eye-catching in the subject line such as “Oh my God, read this NOW” or “Look at these lies I found on the internet.”
  2. Tout the efforts of the competition. Provide a detailed report about a competitors social media efforts. Illustrate how they are engaging the community and participating in a two-sided conversation. Be sure to send this information about an hour after the previous “Oh my God, read this NOW” email .
  3. Recommend more than one platform. If your boss doesn’t “get” twitter, stop pushing it. Introduce another platform and encourage participation there. This illustrates your social media savvy, flexibility and commitment to moving the organization into the current century.
  4. Explain what it means to be “brandjacked.” One of the first things I say before giving a presentation is this: “If you don’t manage your online reputation, Google will manage it for you.” But that’s not the worst that could happen. Think identity theft times ten. This will surely get their attention.
  5. Have a proposal ready. If you work for a company where every decision has to be made by committee, and only after a series of at least three meetings, you should try speaking their language. Once you are able to garner interest it’s important to be ready to present the benefits in a way the higher-ups will understand. So put a proposal together. Include a chart or two. Just make sure your message is clear.
  6. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. (This one is only for the risky, who feel relatively good about their job security and have a decent relationship with the powers-that-be.) Sometimes you simply have to act and let the chips fall where they may. Consider starting a personal blog with a disclaimer indicating that it’s your work, not your company’s. Start twittering about non-proprietary information. Build a following and then show the results. If you can start something worthwhile, perhaps they’ll let you keep it up and hopefully build even more.

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Why aren’t you attracted to online communities? More specifically, why don’t you find value in reaching a small number of people who may all very well have interest in your product?

I am no advertiser, but it seems to me that if I knew I could find 50 people in one location, who typically come back to that location at least 3-4 times per week and I knew for certain they were all in the same profession or had a single shared interest that dominated the conversation, I’d want to be there. Particularly if I had a product or service that this group of people would want.

But before you write me off as not understanding the industry, I’ll beat you to the punch. I don’t. I did not study advertising, nor do I practice it. I am a journalist. But I am also logical.
When I see a group of teachers sharing the ins and outs of the craft, their problems of the day and commenting at length about new edicts from the administration, that seems to me like an advertising opportunity.
When a group of 60 people discusses books and does it consistently month after month, isn’t that a good place for a book seller to offer discounts or join the conversation?

How about a 50 diabetics sharing recipes? Can you think of anyone who might value that group?

Now, let me say that I do get the concept of scale. I know that you want larger audiences. I do. But won’t a lot of small, targeted audiences eventually add up? And isn’t there a smidgen of value in that?

All I’m suggesting is changing the game a little bit. And I’m not talking about advertising on Facebook. Do something new. Seek out the smaller online communities where passions run high and advice is doled out in droves. Give it a trial period and see if you can find a new model.

And if you want more ideas, ask. I’ve got plenty.

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internetsummitI’m here at the inaugural Internet Summit in Chapel Hill and just left an interesting presentation called Blogging and New Media.

The panelists: Andy Beal of Trackur, Henry Copeland of Blogads.com, Brad Hill of Weblogs, Inc, Tim Schigel of ShareThis and Scott Gardner of Triangle Direct Media.

They all underscored the importance of something I believe in wholeheartedly: Creating a conversation and engaging users online. Andy consults on reputation management, so I was particularly interested in some of his comments because I always open presentations with this: “If you don’t manage your online reputation, Google and others will do it for you.”

Here are a few of the notes I was able to jot down during the panel. I’m also sending out tweets, so if you aren’t already following me on Twitter, I’m @communitygirl.

A few takeaways:

  • The driving force behind blogs should be radical commitment to transparency.
  • Blogging is a lifestyle, attitude and participation in the community. No blog is an island. There is a series of blgospheres. A swarm of people behaving as a group.
  • It’s not about audience. The word is community.
  • Principles of blogging:Post a lot, and succinctly. Be short and targeted. Be prolific and precise.
  • If CEO wants to blog, ask what communities you want to participate in.
  • Companies that treat bloggers like they would The New York Times will find success.

More to come…

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It’s time to get your holiday ideas in gear.
Make a list of 10 things you can implement during the holiday season and mobilize the efforts of your online community.
Remember, people love to talk about themselves and show off their handy work.
Ask them to upload pictures of the Thanksgiving Turkey. Start a contest for the most creative Christmas tree.
Oh, speaking of Christmas trees, have you ever seen one made of Mountain Dew cans? A member of my online community uploaded this image gallery today.

So, get your holiday ideas in gear. I’ll be back with my 10 ideas in my next post.

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While perusing my feed reader tonight I realized that I am in need of some fresh voices, new inspiration and mind-blowing ideas.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe I follow some of the best in the business and come in contact with good ideas often, but it’s time to mix it up a little.

I am still very interested in social and traditional media, and managing online communities but I’ve also become quite intrigued with various aspects of online marketing, personal branding (thanks, Chris Brogan) and book publishing.

I am just about done with what will be an amazing book proposal, following on the coattails of my ebook 18 Ways to Engage users Online (yes, I’m confident) and I need to add some of the best brains in the business to my reader.

So, who do you read on a daily basis? Who is your Twitter VIP? Which FriendFeeds send you into creative overdrive? Do tell. It’s time I take it to the next level and I’m ready to be blown away.

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My recent blog post about Peter Shankman’s press release prediction caused quite a conversation. In case you missed it, Shankman predicted that the press release would be dead in 36 months at a TIMA presentation in Raleigh last week.
So, I contacted Peter and asked him to respond to some of the comments left on the post. And he did.

Danny Brown wrote:

“With respect to Peter, I’d have to disagree. I would be more inclined to say that the press release will evolve and take advantage of the newer ways to communicate, but dead? I can’t see it, personally.”

Shankman’s response:

A press release on Twitter or on a Blog is as pointless as a press release itself. What good will it do? Give me information NOW, to the point, and how I want it. A three page press release, with each company blowing smoke up the other’s a__ about how great it is to merge is BS. “We merged with company ABC today to create company ABCD. This will give our customers more options, more sales, and more products. It’s good.” That’s what I need. If I want more, I’ll find it.

Johnnypr wrote:

“It’s certainly on life support but agree that it still has a chance to evolve, I just wish companies would avoid releases that start with the company name and how great they are.”

I asked Peter: “Does the press release have time to evolve?”

Shankman’s response:
Yes – The press release can evolve into NOT BEING A PRESS RELEASE. It can evolve into relevant information, when I need it, how I need it, and what I want it to be. End of story. Again, 3 pages of fluff doesn’t do it for me, or for the next generation.

Danny Brown also wrote:

“The press release is still one of the most useful mediums for recognized news sources. The newer social media release format will only encourage this, and used with a search engine optimized press release will be an incredibly powerful tool to reach as many outlets (media and otherwise) as possible.

I asked Peter: “Does this comment make you change your stance at all?”

Shankman’s response:

Useful and recognizable for who? I had a PR flack show me all the press he “got” for his client once. You know what he showed me? 35 pages of his PRESS RELEASE, REPRINTED on search engines. I literally drop-kicked him out the door.

And finally, Heleana Quartey wrote on her blog:

“One thing this argument does forget is there are still many niche trade publications that aren’t even online, and clients that don’t even read e-newsletters, never mind Twitter, so they don’t value ‘online coverage’.

I asked Peter: “What will happen to these people if they continue to stay offline?”

Shankman’s response:
Back in 1993, a Wall Street Journal reporter said to a mentor of mine, “Yeah, if this Internet thing ever goes mainstream, call me.”Enough said.
Alrighty then! Thanks Peter for sending me your responses.
Any more thoughts?

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Face⋅book pur⋅ga⋅to⋅ry
(pûr’gə-tôr’ē, -tōr’ē)
noun

  1. A prolonged state of being unconfirmed as a Facebook friend but not officially ignored, either. Often happens to those who repeatedly seek friendships from people who don’t know them or find them utterly unbearable.

This term was mentioned in passing by Peter Shankman at an event in Raleigh on November 12, 2008. The definition above is my interpretation. He says he often has lots of people sitting in Facebook purgatory.
Have you been there or are you holding others there? Better yet, do you have any other terms for this location?
Come on…have some fun!

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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