Social Media Ninja Status?

Not so much.

Though my ambitions for this semester long project were high, I feel as though I had to put my aspirations of becoming a social media ninja on the backburner. As the push for the real world took hold, it became harder and harder to keep up with my social media ninja practices. Though I did much better the second half of the semester as far as blog updates, I wasn’t able to keep up with Twitter as I previously had.

Overall, I feel that even though the follow-through was a little light on my end, I learned quite a bit from watching my classmates and taking in all the research I did on personal branding. I definitely feel that in the future I will be able to successfully apply and execute these concepts for a client or another personal venture. Building a personal brand isn’t something that comes over night. It isn’t just one blog post or Tweet that makes your name into a brand. It is a series of actions and carefully planned tactics that lead people to you as a brand. It is the personality that you create for yourself not only in an online space but outside of that space. A personal brand reflects not only your interests, hobbies, and career path, but it represents YOU as a person.

I am hopeful in the future that I will be able to set aside more time on my own to contribute to my personal branding experience. Though I am employed, I would like to keep my name out there in the industry - as a resource and a go-to person for different web-related knowledge. I want to make sure that my personal brand doesn’t evolve into just the place that I work for. Though that will play a big part in shaping my brand, I need to keep in mind that I still have the knowledge that I do with or without the place I work.

#140Characters. Two Thumbs Up.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this book to friends, co-workers, and classmates. As a seasoned veteran in the business, Sagolla really knows what he is talking about. He doesn’t work too hard to impress his own opinions and ideas of best practices upon you, saying his way is the ONLY way. The way he writes is more of a conversation. He asks questions as you read along, making you think about your own practices and the results you have seen through your own experience. The idea of finding your own identity and really utilizing the voice within you online is something you can tell Sagolla practices (well) in his own life. After reading his book cover to cover, the concepts you take away pop up in your mind during every status update you write. Sagolla doesn’t just write a read and forget kind of book, he writes a read and APPLY kind of book. Now go read and apply!!

#140Characters Points Understood

>>  Appreciate Craftsmanship as a Thousand Small Gestures

How many microscopic adjustments are made to a sculpture before it is complete? How many stitches go into a fine garment? This is the level you must achieve: down to the individual character. Simplicity serves two purposes: It creates a much-needed filter for the writer and limits the cognitive load of the reader. Judge your simplicity three ways:

1. Read it fast.

2. Read it faster.

3. Skim it.

Simplicity. Simply stated, keep it short, keep it relevant. Sagolla is probably one of my favorite writers of all time on this topic. It is so easy to get off track and branch out when you have such limited space. It seems only natural to make several posts in order to get your point across. However, readers don’t want to have to string several posts together. They want all the information they need in one take. This also brings me back to the concept of staying true to your brand. If it doesn’t have to do with your brand…why are you talking about it? I once heard everyone should practice the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time, your content should be relevant to your brand. The other 10% should let your personality shine through. Think Sagolla would agree?


>>  Pipe Up Just When It’s Quiet

Everyone loves the peanut gallery, the people who sit back and heckle the speaker with some pointed wit. Twitter is like a giant game of improvisational comedy: there are no rules except that you should make people laugh or think, and preferably both. …poor writing has no place here, it does not survive. This is evolution, this is sink or swim, this is game time (65).

It’s true! EVERYONE loves the peanut gallery. Sagolla’s point about Twitter as a sink or swim network really hit home with me. If you’re not tweeting about things that make people laugh or think…why should they follow you at all? To them, you just become part of the clutter if you’re not putting out noteworthy content. It goes back to that little question that been in the back of our minds all semester: What value are you bringing to your followers?


>>  Reinforce, Don’t Replace, Real Life

Most of the time, short messaging does not create friendships, only contacts. Real friendships are created via shared experiences. It’s been said that Facebook is for people you already know, and Twitter is for people you want to know (32).

I’m going to have to entirely agree with Sagolla on this one. The fact that all of my friends on Facebook are people I already know is something I never really thought about. I have always been aware that Twitter is more about networking and connecting on more of a business level than Facebook but simply stated in those terms, Sagolla explains it much better than I could have. Through Twitter, I have found several contacts that I don’t personally know or have never met before. Yet, these people bring value to my life in the sense that they are able to lead me to the resources and educate me on subjects I am seeking to learn. I can honestly say, not because my FB friends aren’t intelligent (they are), however, that I have learned more from people that I barely know through Twitter than I have through people I know personally and communicate with often.

#140Characters #MKT420 Related Concepts

Timing  >>

>>  Remember: It’s All about Timing

Comedy is timing. Politics is timing. Everything is timing. Your tweet will be judged in the context of everyone else’s message at that moment. Consider your best moment of the day, and imagine it before it happens.

If you really have something important to say, consider some lessons learned from the public relations world: Never release on a Monday or a Friday (if you can help it). If you can, aim for Tuesday, mid-morning or early afternoon (109).

Both as a consumer and as a marketing major, I have learned that timing is one of the most important elements in any marketing campaign. If your trying to reach golfers mid-winter, you’re probably not going to have very much success. Planning ahead in order to release your message to consumers exactly when you know they will be looking for your product/service is one of the overall concepts that marketers work toward. That’s what deadlines are for.

In releasing email marketing campaigns one of the biggest lessons I learned starting out was never to release a campaign on Fridays. Your message sits in consumer inboxes until Monday at which point they are so overwhelmed with returning emails yours gets the automatic delete, resulting in very few opens and even fewer click-throughs.


Change the meaning of words by linking them  >>

There is a philosophy behind hypertext: A word changes its meaning when it is linked.

>>  There are three dimensions of text in the short form:

> the character (grammar, spelling, syntax, and all the shapes)

> the line ( lines and spaces define the negative domain)

> the link (contains nearly infinite possibility and meaning)

Search engine algorithms are written to mimic human cognition, but they haven’t yet caught up with the short format. This is because we are literally changing the meaning of words by linking them, and it’s not even clear to us yet as humans what that really means (73).

Over the course of this semester, I think our entire class has witnessed the power of links. Whether we’re linking to one another’s blogs, articles, or other resources that better explain the point we are trying to get across, we have created a network that connects each and every one of us outside of the classroom. In a business setting,

I have found that the message in short form can be just as powerful when linked. People who read/follow what you say look to you as a wealth of knowledge. When you don’t have the room to say what you would like to, it leave the perfect opportunity to let someone else say it for you. Being knowledgeable doesn’t always mean you create the content, it can also mean pointing people in the right direction.


How can I use these concepts to leverage myself as a brand?  >>

>>  Timing is something that really find myself needing to get a handle on. It’s easy when you don’t have too much time on your hands to just get to blog posts on weekends when free time isn’t so hard to come by. However, people who aren’t attached to their computers have weekends too! Just because I have time then it doesn’t necessarily mean that my readers do. I could use timing to leverage myself as a brand by working to put out content not only on weekends when I have time but scheduling tweets, blog posts, etc. ahead of time in order to put the content out to readers during the week, when they are looking for it.

>>  The power of links could be of huge help to me as a blogger. Because I don’t often find the time to sit down and write lengthy blog posts, I could act as a sort of information aggregator for people looking to learn SEO/SEM tools & tips. I could use what time I do have to let people in on the little tools, tips & tricks I find myself using. By giving my readers insight into what I am doing and how I leverage the tools in a business environment, it might open their eyes to best practices, lead them to tutorials that will ultimately answer their own questions, etc.


As I stood in front of the Marketing/Business section at Borders last week, there was one book in particular that caught my eye >>

140 Characters : A Style Guide for the Short Form by Dom Sagolla.

Something I have spent quite a bit of time practicing and discussing in both the classroom and the workplace is how to reach my audience with such a short message.

As one of the pioneers of Twitter, author, Sagolla explains in his book the art of writing short and sweet for the information age. He touches upon several key points, providing readers with insight into how to develop their own voice and writing style in 140 characters.

Key Points  >>

>>  Developing your own honest and unique writing style

Who is anyone to teach you about style?

Style is the sound your words make in the mind. It is the tone taken when you are read aloud by someone else. Style is the ineffable, immeasurable spark of life in the text. Style is a mystery (1).

>>  Avoiding the too-much-information syndrome

Don’t become a fable about too much information.

There are many things to avoid in social media as there are in real life, and perhaps a few more. A leader is marked by history as much by action as by restraint. Make it your goal to balance bold, descriptive writing with a conscious effort to avoid giving away too much private information (23).

>>  Making the most of your messages on Twitter, Facebook, and other Social Media sites

The brilliant thing about social media is that our audience is fairly well defined. Whereas with traditional broadcast media there may be many more people paying attention, their identity and point of contact is relatively unknown. Social and interactive media provide access back to the audience, which multiplies the value of each participant.

There are many strategies of the moment to affect certain statistics that reflect this value. Most of them are feeble, because they neglect a central fact:

It matters not how many followers your have, but rather who they are (46).

Establish a track record for meaningful audience members. Define relevance for yourself along the following curves >>

>>  Total audience

>>  Power of audience

>>  Number of updates

>>  Time since last update

>>  Readers/reading ratio

>>  Retweets, likes, and favorites

Ask yourself the question  >>  “How would I rank myself as a member of the community?”

Are YOU Covering Your Tracks??

In an article by Nick Bilton of the New York Times called  "Viewing the Mouse Tracks You Leave Behind,"  Anatoly Zenkov (@anatolyzenkov), a Russian graphic designer and programmer is recognized as the developer of a free downloadable application called “mouse pointer track.” The application allows you to make a piece of art out of your mouse movements over any period of time. During the time it took Bilton to write his article (while surfing the web) he was able to create this >>

The reason I was so interested in Bilton’s article in the first place is because I have been exploring tools that will allow me to track users' mouse movements online.

As you can see from the images on Mr. Zenkov’s Flickr page, he has been tracking different mouse movements in different application settings.

Though Zenkov’s tool doesn't make the mouse tracks of an online user available for research purposes, there are several tools that do >> I use crazyegg. It shows a heat map overlay of user movement on a website. Crazyegg as well as the other heatmap tools mentioned show you where on your site users are clicking and give you the ability to find out where your click volume is coming from. 

Heatmaps [allow you to] visualize the stream of visitors on your website - showing hot and cold click zones. They provide an overall view of the activity and help you to see every mouse movement and every click. It will improve web usability, conversions and revenue. -KNOWTEBOOK

My real life example >> The reason I started using crazyegg is very simple. I was having an issue with the tracking code on a website with which I was working. The page that was linked to the goal conversion I set up in Google Analytics (GA) was an external page, which made the implementation of the tracking code a little bit more difficult. Since the code was taking so long to implement and I really needed the info. on click volume to present to the client, I used crazyegg. The external link that I wanted to track was actually an application download and since GA wouldn't have been able to show me anything but the number of clicks on the download link page (since I hadn't yet implemented the tracking), I figured crazyegg would do the same. The heatmap of the site showed me exactly the information that I needed in order to present the client with feedback. Because warmer colors show the most clicks, I knew that the big red dot over the download button was where our click volume was coming from on that page!


Personal Branding. a brand?

Suddenly senior year is here and any form of focus has become entirely job related. Every one of my online actions has become an avenue to show perspective employers what sets me apart from the rest. In an effort to brand myself, I started this blog (that you’re currently reading) about my journey to Tanzania. Though I am passionate about my journey and can't wait to set out in May...I am having a problem putting my thoughts in words.

The reason I chose not to blog about work-related topics for my personal brand experience in the first place is because I thought taking my mind completely away from work in order to focus on something else that I am passionate about would help give me some kind of balance. Instead, I find myself wrapped around the idea of these 140 character updates that post links to articles and ideas that I find interesting. Short and sweet. Straight to the point. 
I am staring to think that working in the online industry has affected the way I process and express things.
If I am asked a question about online marketing or how to implement code and tracking on a website, I can answer the question no problem. Yet I can’t seem to put my own passion into words! Hence, here I am in the midst of a little re-brand.

From now on >> I will post on topics related to my field of work/expertise (online marketing). Every once in a while, I will try to tie in some of my personal journey to Tanzania in May just to give you (my readers!) an update. 

:) happy reading.