Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Start a blog.

If you don’t already have one this is your call to action; straight from me to you. Start a blog.

Okay it is pretty direct for me to just say that but by this point I am utterly convinced that having a personal blog (one that you can contribute something useful) to is the single most valuable tool for you to have as a student, a professional, a job hunter or even an employer. Over my past entries I have been ramping up to this point (figuring it out for myself along the way too) by talking about people I know, people I have seen and how social media has helped them get to where they are today. But the one thing all of these people have had in common is their blog.

Take Promod Sharma – my inspiration for instance. Because of his blog he was interviewed by the Toronto Star and written about in both the online and print editions. He was also showcased on the Toronto Board of Trade website and the Metro newspaper. He has been nominated for a business excellence award and interviewed again by the Globe and Mail. All of this is because of his social media and blogs (you can read more about all this in detail in my blog post here).

Gwen Elliot who I recently saw speak at TEDxRyerson and wrote about in my review. She is now hosting a show on Rogers TV called “Start Something Big!” – a realty show interviewing millenials who have been entrepreneurial and started their own businesses. She got to where she is because she started a blog.

My friend Dan who I wrote about in a post called Motivation is becoming increasingly inspired and more motivated every day since he started his blog cglfgamerzreview. Every day he’s becoming more focused and thinking about where to take it and the opportunities it is going to give him. I completely believe that his devotion to his blog is going to take him places in the gaming industry.

And finally, it’s time to talk about myself.

Since I started this blog a month ago I have talked about social media a lot. My personal Twitter account has had its’ followers increase from 49 to 134 (at the time of this posting) and most of those are people who have followed me because they have seen and read my blog. I was able to present a 75 minute workshop at the Toastmasters District 60 conference on social media earlier this month, and I am going to be co-presenting a workshop on social media, January 10 at 12:30 on http://www.hr.com with Anita Nickerson, an HR professional. Again, this is because of my blog and Toastmasters. I was able to go to the TEDxRyerson conference last weekend and write a huge review on it (part 1 and part 2). While at the conference, my blog gave me a purpose while being there and an extra chance to network with the presenters. Because of my interest and involvement with blogs and social media I was also advised to apply for a job with Digital Agencies by a friend who has worked for them before (it was the first time I had ever heard the term “Digital Agency”).

So here is what I did.

  • On Monday of this week I redid my resume, changing it from an HR resume to a social media and marketing resume.
  • On Tuesday I put out a few applications.
  • On Wednesday I got a call from Hooplah (my first pick) to come in for an interview.
  • Today, I just came back from that interview.

I guarantee you, that if I had not started this blog none of this would have happened. I also want to talk about how I applied to Hooplah and what the company and interview process was like.

The Application

On their website, this is what I saw written under the careers section:

I put arrows next to two of the points for a reason. #1, the “requirements” section grabbed my attention unlike any other job ad I’ve ever seen. A place where an appreciation for “laughs, food, and loud music” is a job requirement? Well, I like laughing, I like food and I certainly like music. A workplace that wants their employees to be happy with their jobs? Okay! I’m in!

Second, they wanted an application that was “anything but generic”. As they are a marketing agency, this made perfect sense to me. So I got out my email and this is what I wrote – word for word:

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Dear Hooplah,

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? 

 

It’s a quote by Dr. Seuss that I have atop my website. Why? Because I believe it. There isn’t anything that I do that I don’t take seriously. When it comes to social media, people want to know what they’re doing with it. But more importantly, they need to know why they should be using social media in the first place. I make it my goal to help educate the people that follow me to have their answers to these questions and not leave any loose ends for them to worry about. And apparently, it’s working. Over the last month I have had three of my blog articles featured as headlines on Cromwell ToastmastersSpeakers Daily Shout, and TEDxCairo. In addition, I was selected as the top Tweet out of hundreds of Tweets that trended #TEDxRU over this month to be showcased on The Ryersonian.

 

I am interested in hearing more about your job opportunities as a Social Media Specialist as well as a Digital Project Manager. I have attached my resume as well as my Klout score (as of today). Please know that you can reach out to me directly at 647-***-****.

 

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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My response from the president? Two words.

“Let’s meet”

The Interview

I figured the drive to get to Hooplah’s office on the other side of the city should take about half an hour, but not wanting to take any chances with Toronto traffic I left an hour and a half early so I would arrive on time and could hopefully grab some lunch. At 1:20 (my interview was for 1:30) I went into their office.

My first impression was I couldn’t help but grin. It certainly didn’t look like any office I had ever been in before. In the center of the room was a large oval table area with duel-monitor PC’s set up and the office itself was extremely colourful with various social media logo’s on the walls and the general colour scheme. It reminded me of a mix between the Ted Roger’s School of Management computer lab’s at Ryerson, and someone’s house (but more professional looking). It’s difficult to describe but it looked like the sort of place that encouraged collaboration and wanted you to feel comfortable while at work. So far I liked what I saw.

I was greeted by one of the employee’s (I didn’t recognize him from any of Hooplah’s employee’s LinkedIn profiles) who welcomed me in and went to get the president (Leslie) who would be interviewing me. A minute later he came out and we went into the board room to start the interview.

Similar to application process, the interview was unlike anything I had ever been to before. As I have an HR background I was expecting to be given a mix of standard behavioural (backwards looking) and situational (forwards looking) interview questions. Instead, Leslie put up my resume and website on a giant-screen monitor in the room and started asking questions about what I had done with social media, about my hobby’s and my background. We were shortly joined by the media director David and what we had was less like an interview and more like a flowing discussion. What their company vision is, what they want to see from the people who work from them, and what I was looking for as well.

I don’t recall ever feeling so ready for an interview before either. It wasn’t that I had spent an enormous amount of time preparing for it – in fact I probably spent about as much time preparing for it as I did for any other interview. The difference was I was passionate about what I was talking about. We were speaking marketing, we were speaking social media, we were speaking about our goals and our visions. I am now feeling like it is quite possible that my HR education may have been the wrong background and I should have gone with marketing after all.

I can honestly say I’ve never been so excited about a job before this. They made me feel welcome and valued – even as a candidate. In an earlier blog post about Steve Jobs I knew I had to change something and wrote “What will I do differently? I’m still working on it, but there will be something.” I think I’ve found it.

Oh, and one last point – start a blog.

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Earlier this week, I talked about How to get Started Using Social Media. While that’s a good topic for anyone who already knows that they want to use social media, it does absolutely nothing if you don’t really understand why you might want to use the stuff.

As they say in the business world “location is everything”, you could say that now more than ever in the 21st century, “exposure is everything”. And that is exactly what social media offers. But simply saying that isn’t enough, not nearly enough. Let me put it this way.

Picture a large computer company. There’s a new manager position opening up for the software engineers and they are only going to be hiring internally. There’s only two candidates for the position, Fred and George (not the Fred and George from Harry Potter though, they’re very busy running Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes). Fred is a very smart software engineer. He completes his projects on time and they work very well. George isn’t quite as good at his job as Fred is, but he gets his work done too although he does occasionally run a bit behind schedule.

Fred however, as good at his job as he is does not have a lot of people skills. He keeps to himself most of the day and when he’s finished work, heads back home to his family. George on the other hand spends time getting to know his co-workers and goes out for drinks with them after work. He also writes a blog called The Life of a Software Engineer where he talks about his accomplishments at work at compares himself to Dilbert.

Guess who’s first in line for the promotion?

Now, realize that George has the opportunity here to get himself exposure by chumming around with his co-workers and doesn’t even necessarily need the blog but the point stands. Good things happen when people know who you are and what you are capable of doing. If you don’t have the opportunity to get that exposure by speaking directly with others, then social media is a great avenue to assist you in your personal and professional life. Half the time you won’t even know what might come out of using social media. Let’s look at an example of how this has been the case for a Promod Sharma.

I’ve mentioned Promod before in previous entries and I think it’s only fair that he is the first person I write about, as it was him and his success with social media that got me interested in the subject in the first place. Promod is an Actuary and your initial thought might be “why would an Actuary want to use social media?” Or in my case, it was “what the heck is an Actuary anyway?”

It was actually these thoughts that led to Promod’s success with social media.

As an Actuary, the field for social media was wide open. Hardly anyone was using it which meant that as soon as Promod started his two blogs for finance and marketing, the exposure shortly followed. Between Promod’s two twitter accounts, he has an expanded network of over 600 followers he is able to influence. But the numbers alone aren’t enough, it was truly his tangible results that were able to help him stand out from the crowd.

In March 2011 Promod was featured online on The Toronto Star. Our top local newspaper. Later that week the article was featured in print in the Metro, our commuter newspaper. He was then written about on the Toronto Board of Trade website and then finally, the article was then featured in the print edition of The Toronto Star.

This wasn’t Promod’s only success through social media though. In December 2010 Promod was invited to be the Keynote speaker at the Conference for Advanced Life Underwriting (CALU). As Promod explained it during one of our Toastmaster meetings, “this conference is basically the top of the line for Actuary’s.” Previous speakers at CALU include Ted Rogers and Stephen Harper. Keeping in tune with social media, Promod uploaded his presentation – Building Trust With Social Media onto Youtube where an additional 233 people have viewed it that would not have seen it otherwise.

Promod was also nominated by the Toronto Board of Trade for the business excellence award.

Finally, last weekend Promod and I both co-presented a social media workshop at our Toastmasters District 60 conference. I learned that on his ride over, Promod received a phone call that turned out to be from The Globe and Mail, another local Toronto newspaper that wanted to interview him on his social media. Promod was able to do a phone interview with the newspaper on his drive over to the conference. I am also happy for this reason, that Promod drives with a Bluetooth headset.

All of this happened because Promod uses social media. I’m not saying that this is going to happen to everyone who does use social media but there certainly is more chance of opportunities coming your way if you do. Even if there is only a 0.01% chance of getting noticed, it’s still 0.01% more chance than you would have without (although the odds are bigger than 0.01%). For instance, I have already been invited to co-host a webinar in early 2012 on http://www.hr.com on using social media with HR. This would certainly not have been the case if I did not get myself into the world of social media earlier this year, and start influencing.

The opportunities are out there, and ready to be grabbed.

I’ll start this entry off a little bit differently. Instead of getting right into it I want to mention where the back story for this particular post is coming from. Earlier today I helped to co-present a 75 minute workshop on social media at the District 60 Toastmasters conference in Markham, alongside with Promod Sharma – our club president and social media guru. Although our audience was smaller than we had anticipated at 11 people, the content which we delivered, the questions that were asked, and the experience for everyone (including Promod and I) was valuable.

The presentation was geared towards using social media for Toastmasters, however it could also be applicable for both personal and business life.  One of the common questions that kept popping up during the workshop was along the lines of “Where do I get started with social media? There’s so much!”

This is true. If you’re unfamiliar with social media, it can be extremely confusing. Even if you are familiar with it like me it can still be confusing. I only finally figured out how to use Twitter effectively a couple of months ago and there’s still more to learn.

As confusing as it is, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at breaking down social media into four categories.

This is an image I developed specifically for the workshop that I used in one of my Powerpoint slides. Let me summarize these four categories.

1. Content Generation

Before you can start using social media, you need to have a purpose. Assuming you want to do more than simply share your current status and comment on photos then this means contributing information to the Internet. In order to do this, you need a place where you can generate that content. If that content is in the form of videos, then you’ll want an account on a place like Youtube or Vimeo that allows you to upload videos you either made or have rights to use.

If your content is audio, then you might want to look into Podcasts (something I’m not entirely familiar with right now so I won’t post any links, feel free to leave a comment if you have a good source). If your content is music that you made then you may want a Myspace account.

And if your content is simply articles that are mostly text, then consider starting a blog on either Blogger or WordPress (blogger is easier to use but WordPress gives you a lot more customization).

Whatever your content is, there are plenty of social media sources available.

2. Content Display

Content display is like having a home base where you can combine everything. Sure, you can have a Youtube account, a Myspace account and be putting out Podcasts, but do you really want to put effort into keeping all of those sites nice and smooth all the time? Also, if someone checks out your Youtube page and likes what they see, how are you going to get them to see your other stuff and follow you on Twitter?

Content display is all about having everything you do on one main web site. For this, I recommend either having your own personal paid domain and hosting (you can get an amazing deal at Netfirms. Much better than a place like Godaddy whom spends all their money on advertising and charges you more) or having a blog for free. If you do have a free blog and start getting a lot of use out of it, you’ll probably want to eventually get your own paid web site, but this is easy enough to transition to after you feel comfortable running a blog.

Also, if you don’t know how to design web sites, don’t worry too much. Netfirms allows you to build your own website using either Weebly drag and drop builder or a variety of other simple to use tools like WordPress, or Joomla which don’t require much more than a very basic technical knowledge to use on a simple level. (Netfirms isn’t paying me to say any of this, I just have had nothing but good experiences using them).

3. Content Sharing

Once everything is out on display, you’re going to want people to see what you’ve been putting out. Yes, some people will find your content on their own through Google searches (or Youtube searches if that’s what you’ve made), but the problem with this is that it’s still a very passive approach. In order to get people to see your content, you’re going to need to share it. This is where Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter come into play.

Arg! Again, which one to use?

Let me sum it up.

Facebook = your personal network (friends and family)

LinkedIn = your personal business network (co-workers, former employers, etc.)

Twitter = everyone and their mother

Basically, anything you put on Facebook and LinkedIn will only be view-able to your personal networks. This means people that you are friends with (on Facebook) or connected with (on LinkedIn). This CAN be changed if you start using Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups which gives you access to a wider audience, but for simplicity sake, we’ll save those topics for another day and just concentrate on Twitter which is simpler.

Through the use of hashtags (these # things) you can very easily make anything you post visible to anyone who follows that particular trend. For instance, I’m going to post this article to Twitter using the hashtag #Toastmasters which means anyone who follows #Toastmasters on Twitter will see me linking this article. Twitter also lets you have a wide range of followers who are interested in what you have to say, but I’m not going to talk about how to get followers here, as I’ve already done that over here.

4. Content Effectiveness

Finally, you can be putting out all the content in the world but how useful is it really, if you don’t get any feedback? This is where the final step comes in and it’s a website called Klout. Klout assigns you a personal score from 1 to 100 that tries to measure how persuasive you are online. It assigns you a score (that changes over time as you continue to deliver content) by connecting with your various social media accounts and looking at your followers. How many followers do you have? How many people are following them? Are your followers clicking your links? Are they commenting on your posts?

Klout also shows you where you stand compared to your contacts that also use Klout and it tries to categorize you on a matrix classifying you into categories such as a networker, a feeder or a conversationalist.  At the time of this posting my Klout score is 41 out of 100. One point higher than it was yesterday. It’s very very difficult to get a high score on Klout so don’t be discouraged when you sign up, just realize it gives you something to work towards.

To sum it all up…

Get at least these three social media accounts to begin your journey. A blog (using Blogger or WordPress) to generate and display content, a Twitter account to share it and Klout to evaluate it all. Everything else is nice to have, but these are the essentials.

How to Get More Website/Blog Visitors Without Using SEO

This is a very simple and straightforward process for getting more visitors to your new website or blog without having to use any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.

All you’ll need is…

  • 1 Twitter Account
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 teaspoons of salt

 

Actually, scrap the last two. All you’ll need is the Twitter account.

 

Basically, Twitter is an exceptionally powerful marketing tool when used well. Probably more so than Facebook and LinkedIn combined.

 

Now the first thing you’ll need to do is make a Twitter account for your website or blog. Or you can use your own personal one like I am currently doing. It’s your call, but think about the type of audience you want to reach out to. That Twitter account should be following and have followers related to the content you are putting out.

 

The second step is to add your new (or existing) Twitter account to a directory. I like to use Wefollow.com but you can also use other directories (or multiple ones) like Twello. Adding yourself under certain Hashtags related to your content will allow people to find your Twitter account by searching those terms. For instance, if you’re starting a gaming blog then you could try adding yourself under Hashtags such as #gamers or #gamereview. You can also use a website like Tweetreports.com to try and figure out which Hashtags work best… or simply type them into the Twitter search bar and see for yourself.

 

The third step is to start following people yourself. Remember those Hashtags you entered under your own name? On the same directory search out people using those Hashtags as the search term and start adding followers. Try to shoot for adding about 50 people a day to get started. I find that about 1 in every 8 people you follow will follow you back. As long as the content you are putting out is directly related to someone’s interests, they are more likely to continue following you.

 

The fourth step is to add a live Twitter stream to your website or blog and start sharing the content you put out. If you’re using WordPress you should be able to set it up so that every post you make is automatically added to your Twitter feed. If you’re running a website, then you don’t want to link people directly to your checkout page as doing so seems rather pushy from a sales perspective. You might want to consider adding a blog portion to the site and linking posts on there to your feed in order to build trust.

 

It’s as simple as that!