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I just realized that while I shared some details from my session at the High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina last week, I never made the presentation available. I use it as a launching point and most of the tips listed prompt specific stories that I like to share with the audience. Perhaps I’ll go without a presentation at some point, after all…PR pro Peter Shankman says PowerPoint is for the weak.

Enjoy, and please share if you feel so inclined

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Making social media work for you is the title of my session tomorrow at the High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina.  In case you don’t follow the furniture industry, let me tell you, this event is HUGE. Actually, it’s more than that.

The High Point Market is the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world, bringing more than 85,000 people to High Point every six months. According to the website, “serious retail home furnishings buyers can be found in High Point twice a year because if you can’t find it in High Point it probably doesn’t exist.” Okay, so you now get that I’ll be talking to a lot of people in the furniture industry.

I held a session last year on a very similar topic but tweaked it this year based on the feedback I’ve received from attendees at all of my other speaking engagements since then.

So, I really think this audience will hear a good message from me tomorrow, that has been honed by the questions and concerns of others, some who found social media overwhelming. Last year I spoke specifically about online communities. Tomorrow I am talking about choices.

My message is this: Identify your goals and plan your social media strategies based on those goals. Anything else is a waste of time. You need a mission and a plan so you can do what works for you.

Because at the end of the day, what works for others may not be a raging success for you. Social media is NOT one-size fits all, and it’s time to tell it like it is.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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That is the question I was asked by my boss today.

“I’d love to,” I say enthusiastically and practically giddy. “Will they understand me?”

“If not, we’ll get an interpreter.”

“Sold.”

So, I will be speaking to a group of bloggers from Egypt next week, thanks to a relationship my boss has with the UNC School of Journalism. He once worked there and the dean reached out to him for this particular endeavor.

The point? I’m blogging about this because it underscores my passion for what I do. I thoroughly enjoy my line of work and talking about it excites me. I’m able to get others excited about social media and there are many bloggers who do the same for me on a daily basis. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of them. Thank you.

Are the ups and downs of managing user-generated content, managing online communities and dealing with the unknown a force to be reckoned with. Absolutely. Just read my recent post about community-management related stress. (Hmmm, did I just coin a new acronym? CMRS disorder?)

But these ups and downs also build character I’m learning. And those of us doing this today will be a great help to those of us doing it tomorrow.

So, Egyptian bloggers prepare for an earful.

The topic was: Managing Online Communities: Getting YOUR Message to the Masses.  The audience consisted of furniture retailers, independent owners and other industry professionals and all were quite interested in online communities once I began to share the value of participation.

I could tell by the questions after the seminar that business owners are interested in blogging and reaching people online in this capacity and that with the right direction and input, many of them will likely engage.

It’s a smart move.  I shared three examples. Two of which seem to have established themselves within the GOLO community , and another that probably came on a bit too strong for the community and was immediately classified as spam. Well, when you upload 357 images of your product as soon as you join the community  and never bother to introduce yourself to the community or establish your area of expertise, this is bound to happen.

I’m happy to report that the audience seemed to “get it” and I think many will seek out online communities as a way to reach a new audience.  I think that’s a good thing.

If you’re interested in my oresentation, i will gladly share. Just send me an e-mail or leave a message in the comment area below.

In my quest to deliver an informative message to the audience at tomorrow’s seminar,  I decided to reach out to a GOLO member who I’ve watched for a while.  She runs a business and has in my opinion, discovered how to co-exist in an online community by choosing the right balance of promotion and engagement. I asked Diedre Hughey, of Dancing Elephants to share some of her experiences in the GOLO community so that I could share what I deem to be her success story.  

Deidre wrote something in her first sentence that I think is very imprtant.  She said you have to have a “BURNING desire to get your message out to the public.”  I could be wrong but I attribute some of that  to the time commitment required to gain respect in these communities.

One message that I hope to send tomorrow is the importance of interacting within the community and refraining from pushing your product or service every time you post. It’s important to engage and interact with people, and understand that they don’t want you to slam your product down their throats.  If you do, you will be rejected and getting back in the good graces of the community will be virtually impossible.

Diedre indicated in the e-mail that it can be tough and she has wondered if the community is indeed her target audience.  But one thing she finds valuable is the ability to fine-tune ideas by seeing if they resonate with users, stir controversy, or “fall flat.” 

As I looked over my presentation, I was pleased to see that I’d mentioned much of what Diedre shared with me and I now feel like I’m on the right track.

So, wish me luck tomorrow and I’ll be sure to blog about the experience.

Angela  

 

I’m conducting a seminar at the National Home Furnishing Association’s Conference in High Point, NC in two days and I’ve been gathering my thoughts for the past three. The working title is “Managing Online Communities: Getting YOUR Message to the Masses.”

Since launching WRAL.com’s online community GOLO last summer, I’ve seen the phenomenon of social networking unfold before my very eyes. It was quite intriguing, and it’s still amazing to watch as we continue to grow. We are now well beyond 6,000 members and I must say that a real community has formed. As the Managing Editor, it is my job to provide vision, determine strategy and engage the community. It is more than a full-time job.

My goal through this seminar is to offer ideas on how businesses can successfully interact within communities like GOLO and get their message across without being shunned, ignored or worse…labeled as spam or marked as abuse.

It’s a delicate balance, but it can be done. It takes time and commitment and I’m sure my message won’t be accepted by all in attendance. I do plan to provoke thought and introduce new ideas that will hopefully infuse new life into an industry that’s seeking new information and ideas.

The powerpoint I’m preparing has promise. I just gave it another once-over and it’s quite convincing. I just hope that I can open their minds and encourage a new way of thinking.

I believe in the power of online communities and I know what they want. It is now up to those who want or even need to reach them, to do it on the community’s terms.

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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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