Social Network Profiles: Where Personal Meets Public

The other day I read about the new feature, “Google profile,” and immediately recalled an opening line to an essay I read a year ago!

I’ll admit, I can hardly remember what I did yesterday, but there it was, front and center on the shores of my memory banks.
The first line of Frank Bures’ essay from the March/April 2008, issue of Poets & Writers magazine,  “I have a confession to make. I google myself.”

Bures referred to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Almost half (47 percent) of people who responded to the survey have Googled themselves at some point, a 22 percent jump from just five years ago.”

Pretty interesting, but don’t worry—I’m not going to ask you if you’ve ever Googled yourself—that’s between you and your search engine. But how much do you think about profiles; those varied length lines on online forms, where we enter identifying pieces of information about ourselves, which then go out to the world in a flash?  Or better yet, how much should we be thinking about it?

When it gets right down to it, what do you really want people to know about you? Especially if the social network profile is one like Google’s which is going to presumably come up pretty high on the search results, that is  of course, if you add enough information e.g. your job title, where you work, your hometown.

Tom McNichol writes in a recent article, “Why Google Wants You To Google Yourself,”

“The similarity to Facebook is no accident.  Google profiles are the search giant’s fiendishly clever attempt to turn your ego-surfing pain into their gain. By giving users a modicum of control over the results that appear on a search for their name, Google hopes to establish a social network beachhead and take on wildly popular stes like Facebook and MySpace…If you’re already using Gmail for email, Google Maps for directions and Google’s Picassa for photo-sharing, you may wind up spending more time with your Google profile than your Facebook or MySpace page.”

Some days I just want to slow down the universe a little, have time to play catch-up. Take a time-out. Think before I fill out another profile form.  I’m social networking open-minded and everything, but sometimes I want to take a moment to decide what and where I want to share. I think that’s fair game.

If used to its fullest advantage, the Google Profile has the potential to be one of the most effective ones out there, the way you can be found and associated with the information relevant to your life and work. So I’ll get to it, probably sooner then later.  But in the meantime, I’m still grappling with the “my superpower” field.

Hmm, my superpower?

In Defense of Social Media: The Times They Are a Changing

Maybe you can relate. You’ve adopted social media. Embraced it.

All of a sudden its become your issue to defend; not because you necessarily want the role, but others have decided you’re the person they should argue with.

So, you find yourself on a Saturday night sitting over dinner, and like a good attorney (court appointed) you make a strong case for 140 character messages. You refer to the defendant, Twitter, by name. You know that some will find her worthy to defend, and no matter what you do or say, others will be ready to throw the book at her.

You go on to diligently represent blogs, and speak-out for YouTube, citing the recent viral evidence of Susan Boyle’s performance, Dreamed A Dream, on Britains Got Talent 2009.

The conversation still doesn’t sit right the morning after. You wish you had said something else. Maybe even thrown up your hands and said, “Let’s call it a truce.”  Or, if all else failed, “You win.”

But after you go over it again in your head, you still believe with your heart and all your soul—the times they are a-changin’.

Your inbox pings, and coincidentally you receive an email from another friend who writes, “I have no idea how to ‘twitter’ …I just thought I needed to see what it is all about.”

You agree, yes, that’s the attitude. See what it’s all about.  Be curious.

If You Haven't Been Thinking About Personal Branding—Maybe It's Time, You Do

The days of needing to know the color of your parachute, and being able to recite your elevator speech before reaching the penthouse, are over.  After all, it’s 2009, and we’re in the midst of a recession.  What’s being asked of us now, is to be authentic.

Meet Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0, Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. Dan is a Gen Y’er, a person born between 1982-2001, and can be classified as someone “who tends to value authenticity and personal expression and be technology-proficient, demanding of their workplace, and determined to create value in their lives.” [definition from Me 2.0]

Dan has embraced the concept of personal branding, what he describes as “the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leverage it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal.”

Schawbel suggests that we should aim to become the commander of our career; who and where we influence, inspire, and earn respect from others. He offers four steps for personal branding: discover, create, communicate and maintain.

Dan says that he has written the book for Gen Y’ers. But, I think the messages of Me 2.0 are far-reaching, and possess a good dose of hope and direction for everyone regardless of their age.

I had the privilege of asking Dan some questions, and his answers, as you’ll see are quite motivational.

Q & A with Author, Dan Schawbel

DH: The passion you bring to your work is more then refreshing, it’s outright inspirational; not only for the Gen Y’ers embarking on their careers, but for all the people who you aptly describe, as those who have lived and worked in the shadow of their corporate brand. As more and more baby boomers and Gen X’ers are losing their jobs due to the recession, what piece of advice would you give them?

DS: Everyone must remain focused and never give up, despite what they hear on the news about layoffs and their current situation.  If you truly love what you do, then you will keep going anyway, despite minor setbacks.  You may have to evolve your brand if you decide that what you’re currently doing isn’t aligning to your passion.

DH: It was hard for me to imagine while reading your book, that you were once as you describe, “a confused college graduate struggling to find his place in the world.”  What do you think attributed to your 180 degree turn to someone who became “driven-to-succeed”, seized the opportunity to embrace personal branding, and able to lay the groundwork for others to be “Commanders?”

DS: I discovered my passion, figured out that I could be an expert in that area and then I claimed my own niche on the web.  I made the transition from infantry (front-line) to a commander because I became an industry voice and someone who was respected and had influence.  Instead of me taking orders from everyone else, people were coming to me for my expertise.

DH: The technological world is moving at rapid speed through social networking and social media, from Web 2.0 to what we’ll soon no doubt be calling, Web 3.0.  What do you think Web 3.0 will mean to the way we work and live our lives, and how will that translate to Me 3.0?

DS: Good question.  Technology makes our lives easier, more productive and makes networking seamless, but it doesn’t replace face-to-face conversations.  Although technology will change, as brands, we remain the same.  The technology is how we get noticed, without paying thousands of dollars for advertising.  It allows us to create our own platforms that we can use to build a following around our brands.  Web 3.0 will be focused more on making sense of our online ID’s, as they move across the web and well have our own passport I believe.  This matches up to personal branding because consistency is important.

DH: I’d imagine many readers might think, sure Dan Schawbel can do all those things e.g. have vision, direction, and be able to get out there and network; but that’s not me. Knowing that change doesn’t happen overnight, how might someone get jump started?

DS: Branding is all about having a long-term game plan.  If you’re in it for a quick easy win, you will fail.  I was only 23 when I started and I’m 25 now, so it’s not about age.  It’s about having ideas, wanting to own a niche, caring about your community/followers and writing content multiple times each week.  Start slow at first and work your way up.  For example, my first byline article was published in About.com, then I used that as a case study to get my next one and now I’m writing for BusinessWeek.

DH: How do you recharge your batteries, stay focused and continue to have such great passion for your work and life?

DS: I don’t get to recharge my batteries.  I was on a cruise ship last year and was still blogging and making sure a few guest bloggers posted as well.  Dedication and passion are extremely important and will make you keep going, whether your batteries die or not.  I have passion in what I do because I feel like I was born to assume this role.

Thank you, Dan, and wishing you continued success and passion!

Also, be sure to check-out Dan’s free ebook on Personal Branding.

3 Reasons Why Social Media Improves Communication

Social Media is serving many purposes these days for individuals and organizations alike.  John Blossom, author of Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media Changes Our Work, Our Lives, and Our Future, explains three key reasons why social media tools offer improvements in organizational communication.

Blossom writes, effective social media tools enable:

  1. People to choose who they want to be in their circle of communication;
  2. Make it easier to connect and organize communications from internal and external sources;
  3. Make it easier to collaborate internally and externally to build and update valuable knowledge more effectively.

If your organization is using social media, how do you think it’s improving communication? Which tools are you using e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blog, RSS Feeds?

If your organization hasn’t embraced the idea of social media yet, how do you think it could help?

Q & A with Jon Wuebben, Author of Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web

I came across Jon Wuebben’s book Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web recently, and found myself immediately captivated by his tips for writing search engine optimized copy. Eighteen chapters later, and a journey through an extraordinary appendix of online resources, I became a full-fledged fan.

Impressions through Media and Weber Media Partners are honored to have author Jon Wuebben join us as a special guest in a Q & A.

In the introduction to your book, Content Rich, you mention that you started doing pro bono work for non-profits as you were getting grounded in the world of SEO copywriting.  From your experiences, is there–or should there be–anything distinctive about the way non-profits vs. for-profit businesses write their online content?

Good question. I would say, first, that non profits should focus on using the names of the communities they serve in the copy and in the meta tags so they come up in local searches. So, if they are a women’s shelter in Springfield, Illinois, be sure to use this phrase and others like it so they can be found online. The other thing I would say is they should focus on a key constituency – donors – by having a page dedicated to this group on their site. Fundraising is the life blood of most nonprofits, so this is important.

Marketing Sherpa’s recent report “2009 Social Media Marketing and PR: Benchmarks and Best Practices” indicates that of the companies they surveyed, businesses say social media and emailing to house lists are the two tactics they’ll spend their marketing dollars on this year–essentially leaving behind nine other tactics they used;  paid search, telemarketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, direct mail, event marketing, radio/tv ads, emailing to rented lists and print advertising. Does this surprise you?

No, because both of these activities are low cost and can have a high return. It’s a no brainer. The problem is that most companies don’t do either right. The important sites in the social media arena for businesses would be StumbleUpon, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. In terms of email marketing, make sure you have a good list, great email creative and a good landing page. And then have a simple form on that landing page in order to get their contact information.

In the same Marketing Sherpa report, businesses who aren’t using social media say the key reason why they’re not using social media is due to staffers “Lack of Knowledge.” What do you think about that?

It’s not as intimidating as one would think. The critical thing is for these executives and companies to remember is that they need to take off their “selling” and “corporate” hats and put on their “let’s build a community” hat.  That’s what it’s all about. Also, no need to use MySpace or Digg. I would focus on the ones I mentioned above. Yes, the social media space can be a bit confusing at first, but it’s certainly not just for the younger generation anymore. And if staffers say they “don’t know it”, well then I, as the CEO, would say, “learn it”. Its too important not to get in the game.

In your recent email newsletter you wrote that there are “too many blogs out there, and many aren’t very good.”  You suggest that one of the problems is there aren’t “blog standards.”  Here’s your opportunity, we’re interested: what would you include as standards for good blogging?

That’s a tough one. I’m not sure what the standards would be, but in terms of how you do it, I think the best and easiest way would be for someone out there to start an organization or association that judges the quality of a site and works with Google (and probably others) to place a small icon on each site that shows the grade. It would be a huge undertaking, and yes, Google already lets the “cream rise to the top” with the way they rank sites, but if I was able to see a quick grade for a site as soon as I landed on a page, I would know immediately to click away. It would be hard to enforce and people would game the system, but that’s true with anything. I just want a better way to weed out the garbage.

Do you have a regular routine for writing?

No, inspiration can strike at any time. When it does, or I’m feeling particularly creative at a certain point in the day, I know its “go time”. Mornings and late at night do seem to work out best however, when we all are closer to the subconscious mind. Interesting how that works.

You’ve written that we’re in the middle of a “Twitter Revolution.”  What do you tweet about?  What qualities or type of content do you appreciate about others business tweets?

I tweet about blog posts I read that I liked, events that I’m speaking at, a particularly interesting client project, etc..In others Tweets  I like to read specific examples of tips, tricks, ideas and suggestions that may be new. And also to get a “pulse” on what’s going on out there in the industry.

You’ve been writing online copy for a long time.  How do you stay passionate about your work?

I am a creative person. It took me a while to discover that. Most of the time, I am simply channeling the words I write. But any artist would tell you it can be a burden as much as it is a benefit. When I’m not writing copy or managing my business, I’m writing songs. Exchanging one type of creative activity for another can be very beneficial…it can re-charge the batteries for both!

The other way I stay passionate is because I love helping other businesses succeed. It’s a total rush.

Thank you, Jon, for joining us, and for sharing more of your rich content!

Social Media Marketing: Defining Moments

Marketing Sherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Guide published last month provides many important insights into the emerging trends in marketing.


Definition of Social Media Marketing

by Marketing Sherpa

“The practice of facilitating a dialogue and sharing content between companies, influencers, prospects and customers, using various online platforms including blogs, professional and social networks, video and photo sharing, wikis, forums and related Web 2.0 technologies.”
[see full definition in Marketing Sherpa's executive summary & report]

Marketing Sherpa explains how communications are changing and offers the tip, “adapt or become extinct.”

The study says that out of eleven marketing budget line items, only social media and emailing to house lists, are tactics which more companies are planning to increase spending on.  Companies indicated they are planning to reduce spending in the other nine tactics which include: paid search, telemarketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, direct mail, event marketing, radio/tv ads, emailing to rented lists and print advertising.

So, about now your thinking.  Interesting, but why?

Dave Evans, author of Social Media Marketing An Hour a Day, offers an explanation which I think can be applied to this question.  He says that the kinds of people marketers are trying to reach, are finding group-oriented (social) networks as being very effective when it comes to receiving and sharing information, as compared with the largely one-way channels such as television, radio and print.  Evans states, “Online community members are discovering that it is very easy to find, learn about, and share information that directly contributes to an informed choice. It is for this reason that people are moving en masse to the Social Web, and it is for this reason that you should be there, too.”

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