Encouragement

Choosing A Social Media Marketing Specialist

Do you think spending a couple of hundred bucks on your social media strategy is all that it takes to create the necessary engagement and depth of trust with potential clients and customers, as well as reach a broad audience? No way, Jose! (If you can’t afford more than that, I get it. I have experienced bootstrapping first-hand, and this post is not directed at you.) If, however, you can afford to spend more, but choose not to because you’re thinking “hey, these days anyone can throw some posts up on your Twitter or Facebook account”, let me just stop you right there! Yes, it’s true that your 14 year old nephew can use a mobile app on his phone to create a graphic that can be shared on Instagram or Pinterest and that you can buy clicks and likes for a few bucks any day of the week, but will using a person or a company that doesn’t have the depth of experience or the ability to customize an approach to your specific business really make you money? I don’t think so. You may as well not have a SM presence at all. And a lot of people chose not to. Sadly, those same people are missing out on a ton of sales.

My thing is, if you own a business and want to stay relevant, connect with customers and make sales, you cannot ignore social media, and by extension, unless you have the time and energy to run your Social Media efforts yourself, your absolute best bet is to plan to use and SM specialist to help you and budget accordingly.

Pay careful attention to that last word. “Specialist.” A specialist is a person who focuses on and is an expert on a particular subject or activity; a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field. My focus is to build relationships with customers on a client’s behalf. In Social Media terms, we call that “creating engagement.”

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but right now, marketing is ALL about engagement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. People buy from other people or companies they trust. Trust takes time. It takes conversation. It takes active listening – for your sake and that of the customer. Becoming *PERSONALLY* familiar with your business and the customers you serve is my job. Knowing just the right questions to ask is also my job. Both skills need to be present and well-honed in order to create and customize content for the right kind of engagement.

So yeah, if you’ve got the budget for marketing, but are choosing not to spend it on experts, you may want to reconsider. I like a deal as much as the next girl, but in this instance the cliche applies – you get what you pay for.

Remember that communication is key in building relationships. It’s absolutely a necessity to start and continue conversations on your social media platforms to start adding to your business’ trust account. Without that engagement, you will be losing customers to your Social Media savvy competitors every day of the week.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Sooo – Jesus Goes Social??

That’s right. In case you’ve been asleep for the last few years, let me fill you in. Nearly EVERYONE is going social. You can keep up with Billy Graham’s happenings on Facebook.  Heck, even the Pope has a Twitter account!  Ps – whoever landed that gig (because I guarantee he doesn’t do it himself) – nicely done!  So let me ask you this: If the Dalai Lama has an Instagram account, why isn’t your house of worship following suit?

Times, they are a-changin’. If you’re  a part of a house of worship… a church, a temple, a synagogue, a mosque… they should absolutely be present on social media. Why? Well, primarily because this is how people engage now. It’s how churches are getting volunteers for their large events. It’s one of the ways they evangelize. One of the reasons people attend religious services is because they want a sense of community. That’s also a large reason the number of social media users is expected to surpass 2.55 billion in the next 4 years (stat taken from mediabistro.com). As humans, we crave connection.

As a place of worship – you should absolutely be using this to your advantage. This is your chance to connect your congregation more than one time a week. Churches all over North America are known for building Small Groups to get everyone to begin growing relationships. This is just one more way to do exactly that. It provides members the chance to be “fed” throughout the week instead of waiting until their Holy Day. It provides many a sense of accountability and others – who may be new to your congregation – it allows them to get to know others without feeling intimidated.

So where should you be engaging your flock? Well, I suppose that depends on the demographic of your church. According to Pew Research, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. Of that 74% – 71% are on Facebook.  Moral of that story? If you’re not on Social Media already – Facebook is probably a safe bet as a place to start. As you get comfortable with that – you can venture off to Twitterland, play amongst the Pinners of the universe and/or Instagram yourself silly.

Once you learn the ropes and have comfortably settled in to this whole idea of reaching your following through social media – then comes the fun part. This is where you really get to shine. Record guest speakers – upload those videos to your website then share them on social from your site. Start recording Sunday sermons so your shut-ins can watch them digitally. Do a daily segment on your YouTube Channel – but keep it short. We live in an A.D.D world. Our attention span is short. You should also absolutely be blogging, even if it’s only monthly. If you have a large congregation, ask your members to become an active part of blogging. Maybe that’s one of your ministries?? Food for thought.

Just do yourself and your congregation a favor and make one step every day to become more involved socially. There may be someone out there that needs to hear exactly what you have to say.

Volley for the Win

My Grandma Clarkston (God rest her soul) graciously gifted me with her bad joints. At age 25, I blew out my right knee trying to escape a paintball grenade in the woods. I was carried out of the woods – and later had an MRI. Torn MCL and a slight ACL tear as well. Both were repaired.

Eight months after that surgery – I was off to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island to visit with my family. We were visiting Tony Macaroni on Taino Beach when a spontaneous game of beach volleyball broke out. My gut told me to keep my butt planted firmly on that picnic table, but my love for beach volleyball won. One still weak knee meant most of my weight was on my left knee. Sure enough – snap. I knew as soon as I heard it what had happened. The rest of that trip was spent with my leg up and I gimped my way through the airport back home. This time, severe ACL tear. Helloooo, knee surgery #2.

Truth be told, I love most sports involving a net – tennis and volleyball in particular.  I also love not spending 6 months recovering from knee surgery. The fear of pain has kept me from experiencing my best life. For the better part of 10 years, I’ve avoided any activity involving nets… but that’s where I was happiest in the past.  Until this past Wednesday. Wednesday, I saw 3 high school age kids right outside the condo on the beach, carrying a volleyball. Me not being a very shy person – I went over and invited myself to a game. They obliged the old woman and I’m not gonna lie – I kinda kicked ass. It’s like I never stopped playing. There was diving in the sand, jumping, serving, spiking, setting… all to the music of waves crashing against the shore. Why have I avoided this for so long?

Fear of pain… The truth is sometimes risking pain is worth it. It’s just that – a risk. It’s not a guarantee. When you challenge that risk, you also are reaching for – and often obtaining – the one thing you never knew you were missing in your life.

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.” 
― Bob Dylan

The Inevitable Fear

And you’re back?  Hooray for another Face Your Fear Friday!

All of us fear it in one way or another. Death. Don’t leave! My hope is that this lights a fire under you to mend fences. Have no regrets.  This life boils down to one thing in my mind. It’s not about building the biggest business. It’s not about how many things you can fit into your castle of a house. What it starts and ends with is love.

In all seriousness, I don’t fear my own death one bit. That might sound morbid, but I’ve just come to accept the circle of life. Here’s my biggest fear, truth be told: My leaving this planet or someone I love leaving this planet not knowing how much I love them. I was sitting with my two cousins at [Stacked Pickle] a little over a month ago. We were talking about getting our cousins together to do a camping trip this summer so we could all be in one place and just enjoy each other’s company outside of the hustle and bustle of every day life. I think Joe thanked me for organizing it – and that was all it took.  Tears started flowing down my cheeks and I said, “You know, my biggest fear is that I won’t see you guys or people that I love again – and you won’t know how much I love you.” And the tears kept coming.  The truth is that the tears finally stopped the day after, but even now, writing this out – my eyes are starting to fill up.

I lost my mom nearly 6 years ago to a horrid disease – pancreatic cancer. I’d be lying if I told you that a part of me didn’t die that day as well. Before that day came though – my GOD, we had a rocky relationship.  I took her for granted more times than I care to remember. I was selfish. She was demanding and controlling. It felt like one head butt session after another. I even remember when she was feeling so badly before her diagnosis – I felt like she was exaggerating – because that’s what she did. Everything was bigger than life (which is probably why I love the movie Big Fish). As I sat in that tiny little consultation room with about 10 other family members, the doctor told me news that flipped my whole world upside down. As much as this woman annoyed me. As much as I’d thought her purpose in life was to destroy mine – the reality of the woman who loved me enough to give me life – flashed right in front of me. In that moment, I realized just how self-centered we can be as humans. Before this moment, I’d lived my life for me. On October 11th, 2007 – my life was no longer just about what I wanted and what I needed. At around 10:30 am that very day, my life’s purpose became saving my mother’s life. No doctor was going to tell me I couldn’t either.

I tried – and I failed. One thing I didn’t fail at though: I rebuilt an incredible, loving, connected relationship with my momma. I apologized for the little things and the big things.  I bathed her, massaged her, and at the end, flushed her IV lines, fed her – and ultimately…. let her go.  As I was sitting next to her as she was in her hospital bed a couple of weeks before she passed, her best friend, Patty was there.  I got a little emotional and started to apologize again.  She looked at me and said, “honey, it’s ok.  Let it go.”  Then she looked at Patty and said, “Isn’t it funny? Your kids can wound you deeply and all it takes is a heartfelt apology and EVERYTHING is ok. And I mean it, sis.” As she turns back to me.. “Everything is ok.”  Now that’s love.

I want to leave you with this video from Patrick Swayzee and Barbara Walters.  It’s ironic that this man passed from the same dreaded disease. The reason I share it though – is the tail end of this video. “It’s amazing, Molly. The love inside… You take it with you.”  Live each day like it’s your last – and love just the same.  Mend fences.  Pride is a monster and it’s not worth the regrets you’ll have once it’s too late.

If you have interest in learning more about Pancreatic Cancer or would like to donate to research please visit the —->PanCan Site <—–

But I Don’t Wanna.

Too bad.  You have to. Choose, that is. You have to choose. I spent most of my adult life thinking that I could not only be everything to everyone, but that I could also do everything that my little heart desired. Here’s reality:  You can’t. That’s absolutely not pessimism. It’s reality. The good news is that you can still be a lot of things to a lot of people and you can still do plenty!

Here’s a little story about me.  I didn’t know (and quite frankly, still don’t) what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had passion for so many things in life and it was hard to nail down ONE.  When it comes down to it, though, is life really supposed to be about what you want to BE (your occupation) when you grow up or is it supposed to be about what you DO (how you experience life)?  I’m going to have to cast my vote for “do.”  And that’s how I landed where I am today.  Yes, I still work for other people, but they don’t dictate my schedule.

You see, when it comes down to it, I can do pretty much whatever I want to do.  I’m a quick study and I take great pride in doing my work and doing it well.  I could be a janitor, a drummer for a band, a surgeon – any number of things.  I have absolutely no doubt about it.  Here’s what I know though:  Any one of those occupations, while fulfilling in their own ways, would nail me down – geographically speaking.  After much contemplating about what am I passionate about in life – it boiled down to one general subject: Culture.

I. LOVE. PEOPLE.  I love learning about the cultures of other people.  I love learning about their history, their faith(s), their traditions, customs, fashion, food…. and then there’s their language. *SWOON*  I’m a language FREAK. I love it, I pick it up quickly and I just feel this sense of community.  So it was then that I understood that it wasn’t what I did for a living that was important. It was that I needed to do something with my life that not only paid the bills, but allowed me to connect with people of all races, cultures, languages, etc…  No desk job will EVER allow for that.

My laptop and I can travel anywhere we want though.  We can engage audiences globally. We can post on behalf of clients no matter if we’re in London, Dakar – or even Alaska.  Do you need to like what you do for a living and be good at it? Yes, absolutely.  If you’re stuck behind a desk and want out, find a way. Your life is entirely too short to waste wishing you were somewhere else or doing something else. Get creative.

Warning:  This will NOT be easy.  I was having a conversation with a friend on Saturday after doing the Shamrock Beer Run.  I mean – what fun is running if there’s not beer 1/4 mile away?? Anyway, we were talking after the run.  She’s involved in martial arts. That is something that has always intrigued me.  Is it a passion? Nah. I’d like to do it for the fitness aspect and for self defense purposes, but it’s not a passion.  She told me that it wasn’t too expensive – blah blah blah (not to discredit what she was saying – just don’t want to bore you with the details.)  Truth is that I pay $20/month for my gym membership.  I train with a personal trainer 3 days a week.  I don’t NEED to fork out more money to anyone else for fitness reasons.  Not when I have goals of traveling globally.  That money is best put toward my goal. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to say NO a lot more frequently than you’re used to most likely.  There WILL be reward though.  I personally find one of the best rewards is having that ah-ha moment when you realize you’ve grown professionally and just as a human.

Find out what it’s going to take to start that bakery and make it the best damn bakery there is.  Find out what it’s going to take to get yourself to be a certified personal trainer so you can start impacting the lives of those around you.  Whatever it is that you want – staying in that chair, making the same decisions day in and day out is only going to keep you… in. that. chair.  So move.

Skinny Jean Hell

I hate skinny jeans. I’ve hated skinny jeans from the first time I tried them on thinking they were … well… not skinny jeans. As if I didn’t have enough body image issues before that little episode.  Ha. As IF! I seriously thought I’d magically gone up 2 pant sizes over night.  And THAT, ladies and gentleman, was my first experience with skinny jeans.

Oh – did I happen to mention it’s Face Your Fear Friday?  I didn’t? Well, as some of you know – every Friday ’round these parts is Face Your Fear Friday. I talk about fear, face some of my own – and in time – have guest bloggers talk about some of their fears. Today is no exception. Today – I faced one of my body image fears.

My friend, [Polina Osherov], had a conversation with me about a week ago. She’s one of my oldest and best friends and is HIGHLY aware of my body image issues. She pulls me aside and tells me there’s no reason not to update my wardrobe, so she’s ordered me some skinny jeans AND tops with horizontal stripes. O_O  She completely expected the reaction she got. She practically had the paper bag in hand, just waiting for me to hyperventilate. And then it happened. I struggled for breath, my pulse went bananas and I felt all of the blood drain out of my head. WOOZY!!! You probably think I’m exaggerating here and that no one could possibly be this frightened of clothes. I hereby do solemnly swear… it doesn’t get any more real than this.

She explained that all I had to do was try them on.  TRY them. The clothes hadn’t even arrived yet and I was panic stricken. Yesterday she warned me that the clothes were arriving (that day) and that I was going to DEBUT them at the Speakeasy to watch [Jay Baer].  Oh. God. Feeling the heart speeeeed back up.  They never arrived.  Well, they didn’t arrive yesterday at least. Whew!  Bullet dodged.

Today was an entirely different matter.  Today, I got the word… they have arrived.  In all their anorexic glory. Let me just say that I don’t think everyone who wears skinny jeans is anorexic.  It’s just that I felt like I needed to look that way in order to appear like I fit in a pair of them.  I walk into her kitchen where the nice little white box from [Forever 21] was sitting on her table.  She gave me the eye.  Ya know… the one that said, “Ohhh yeah.  THIS is gonna be fun.”  She got to play dress up with me for the next 15-20 minutes ordering me to try this shoe or that shoe – and then ultimately telling me to buy different shoes.  Then she dragged me up to her full length mirror in her bedroom in all my shameful agony to show me … Me.

A woman. Nearly 40 (oh god. another panic attack.  jk – I don’t care about that so much.) with curves. And while yes, my struggle to take weight off has been one nightmare of a roller coaster, my personal trainer told me today that I’m only 6-7 months away from being exactly where I need to be. That’s no time in my world. And so, bring it, baby. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy my curves. They’re not goin’ anywhere. It’s the way I was built – and my new skinny jeans hug them in all the right ways.

What are you waitin’ on? Get out there and face a fear or two. You just might like it.

What Does The Fox Say? YouTube and Your Business

I’ve heard the question asked over and over again.  Why would I want to use YouTube as a channel to market my business?  I’m going to take the unconventional approach here.  I might get my throat figuratively slit by a few social media gurus when I say this.  You don’t necessarily have to.  Now wait.  I didn’t say you SHOULDN’T.  I said you don’t necessarily have to.

Lemme ‘splain myself.  If you’re a social media professional and your target clients are tech based, gamers, musicians, artists, etc… Then yes.  You should absolutely have a YouTube channel and you should actively use it to market your business.  Maybe you should consider that – even before you should consider blogging.

My target client is altogether different though.  My focus is on the mom and pops.  The small, home-grown, local businesses of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns/cities.  They don’t spend copious amounts of time browsing YouTube for Flula’s latest misunderstood colloquialism or Hannah Hart’s latest episode of My Drunk Kitchen – although they’re both two favorites of mine.  They’re busy making sure that stack of bills dwindles to zero, only to watch them stack back up tomorrow.  MY clients are on Facebook.  Why?  Let’s be honest:  They have little to no time to maintain relationships with people face to face.  Sometimes, this is all they’ve got.  Small business takes a TON of time to manage and run.

Now… ALL that being said:  If you do, indeed, find yourself with a little spare time on your hands, that time would be wisely spent on YouTube.  Here’s why.  What’s the #1 search engine in the world?  You betcha.  Google, baby.  So popular it’s now a verb.  “Google it.”  What’s #2?  Any guesses??  Most people don’t consider YouTube a search engine because of the content it displays – but it is.  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.  Now I’m going to weave a tapestry of mind-blowing goodness.  Who owns YouTube?….. (It’s ok, I’ll wait for you to Google it.)…………. (hint, hint.)

Yep – GOOGLE owns YouTube.  So what does that mean?  Adding your videos from YouTube to your website (of course with proper tags, etc…) is perceived integrity in the eyes of Google. Perceived integrity then moves you up in the rankings of google (aka – SEO – Search Engine Optimization)  In other words, this gets you one step closer to being on the front page of Google when people search for your product or service.

Then of course – there’s the opportunity for your video to go viral. And let’s be honest. We all know what the fox says, right? :-/

#HashTagCampaign

^^Clever, no?  Haha – sometimes I amuse me.

I’ve covered it before, but I feel like I should again.  What is a hashtag and why should I use it?  Well, here’s the [definiton].  Why should you use them?  Well, a number of reasons, really. They can boost your [SEO], target your audience with better precision, make it easier for your potential clients to find your content… and the list goes on.  Use them – but do so wisely.  Whatever you do, please don’t hashtag every word in your post.  That’s going to land you a spot in [Hashtag Hell].

Now on to the title of this blog – a Hashtag Campaign.  You’ve seen them before and may not have even realized it.  On Twitter, specifically, hashtag campaigns have become one of the most effective marketing tools a company can use.  For Nike, however, their #MakeItCount campaign was used through Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest.  Their campaign started in 2012 and was so successful that it continued into 2013. After watching this video – maybe you’ll understand why.

So what are the rules for this hashtag campaign?  Make it easy to remember and most importantly – make it something that is intimately related to your business.  Maybe your business’ tagline?  Be creative, but wise when choosing.  If you’re doing product promotion or a short term promotion, make it something unique (that’s key), catchy – and something your audience will be excited to promote.

If you’re looking for further examples to help get those creative juices flowing – here are a hand full to help out.  [Hashtag Campaigns via Mashable.]  As always, collaborate with other great minds.  I have no doubt you’ll wind up on the road to #success <—- See what I did there?

Who Am I To Be….

 

I read this every day… And without fail, I get goosebumps and a lump in my throat.  I know it to be true.  Our deepest fear is often uncovering the greatness that we were intended to be.  What he had Akeelah read in this clip is by [Marianne Williamson].  You can [Click Here] to find it in print.  Print it out.  Read it every day. Be encouraged – and inspired to uncover the wonder that you are today.

The Magic of Social Media

There really is something magical about it.  Not in a hocus pocus kind of way, but in a connectedness kind of way.  I’ve said before on this very blog that it’s of utmost importance that we not hide behind social media.  It’s so easy to do.

Instead of using it as a shield, use it to bring you out from behind the shield.  Some time ago, I was a hider.  I wanted to be heard, but not seen.  I hid behind my witty comments and clever posts.  My following on Facebook (the only platform I used to use) started to grow with friend requests from people I didn’t know from Adam… or Eve for that matter.

They saw a glimmer of who I was and they must have liked what they saw.  I started getting invited out by new friends.  There was anxiety and most definitely hesitation. I was imposing judgements that they would have about me upon myself before I even met them! (All of a sudden I feel like this should be a Face You Fear Friday post.)

One of the people that got me to step out of my comfort zone was a co-owner of a little mom ‘n pop on the east side of Indianapolis – [Papa Roux].  Papa’s wife, Colleen, reached out after many posts bantering back and forth with lots of laughter.  “I have to meet you.”  And so, we did – at another little mom ‘n pop in Greenwood – Vino Villa (you should ABSOLUTELY check both of these places out by the way.)  We sat and chatted like we’d known each other for years.  And so, I thought, this whole getting out thing isn’t quite as scary as I thought it would be.

In fact, I started watching them (Papa Roux – the business, not the man) run as a company.  It really has grown because the owners know how to develop a relationship as a community and WITH their community.  Another thing I’ve mentioned is that in social media, the reason it works is because people want to feel like they belong somewhere.  When you let people know they matter – it shows.  You can’t fake it either.  People can absolutely sense when you’re being less than genuine.

I’ve fancied how [Papa Roux] has done social media since I became a follower. It boils down to this:  they’re real and they keep it real.  I talk about the restaurant a lot on my personal Facebook page… and I’ve had quite a number of my friends ask who this [Papa Roux] character is… So about a week ago, I organized a field trip so they could experience it for themselves.  To my knowledge, not one of them left disappointed.  The food (as always) was amazing.  The owners came in just to hang out with the 20ish people that showed up for the field trip.  They sat, they chatted – and then they threw ice cream sandwiches at my guests.  Haha!  All in good fun.  Keeping it real – it’s what they do.  Give it a shot – my bet is… it’ll work for you too.