You Be You

FeaturedYou Be You

“Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music for the first time, as if I had never heard it before. Being so inescapably a part of it, I’ll never know what the listener gets, what the listener feels, and that’s too bad.” – John Coltrane

When it comes to social media, there is a fine balance between creatively staying true to yourself or brand and becoming an numbers-driven lifeless robot. With the vast array of analytical tools and research out there today, the amount of information we can gather on our followers and the insight we have on content engagement is seemingly endless. We really have everything we need for crafting the most likeable, shareable, retweetable pieces of content.

When Coltrane crafted a jazz piece, he described it as an expression of the inner most parts of his being. To him, his music was a way to paint a picture of his spirituality and life experiences. He also desired for it to have a deep positive affect on the listener. Coltrane saw music as a medium to uplift people and “help humanity free itself from its hangups.” And while he desired for his music to be received well, it never clouded him from writing music that came from the depths of his soul; music that was true to who he was, not just on how the listener would respond. It’s a fine balance.

Social media is also a fine balance. Unlike Coltrane, we actually have the capabilities to know what the customer or follower gets and what they feel. We can craft our content to incite the responses we want and then sit back and watch it happen. The problem starts when we swing so far to this side that we depart from who we (or our brand) really are; there’s no soul left in it. We become tone deaf robots, all banging the same notes. This is also a danger of automation. And if you know me, you know how much I rave about automation tools like Buffer, but you can’t let them get away from you.

Find a way to use automation to your advantage. Use your analytics to craft engaging content. But don’t let your lust for likes, retweets, and follower growth devour your authenticity. Find your voice and let it stand out. There’s already plenty of noise to go around. Play your own notes. Be YOU. And be you in a way that makes others’ lives better for following and listening to you being you.

“You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” – John Coltrane

Just Tell Me the Truth

I’m a marketer. I get it. We’re all bending truths in our own ways in order to gain attention, glorify a product, gather information, and so on. But can we pull back just a little? Or at least give out some portion of the truth in our communication?

This morning I received an email from a top marketing and sales platform. Here is the primary value proposition and CTA of the email:Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 10.54.17 AM.png

I thought, “Yeah, I’d be interested in checking this kit out. Let me download it and see what it’s all about.” So I clicked the “Download Now” button, assuming “Download Now” meant that I would be downloading the kit now. But no downloads were initiated by clicking this link. Instead, I was directed to a webpage:

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Ok, ok. I get it. I’ll provide my basic contact info in exchange for this hopefully valuable resource. So I filled out my name and email address and clicked “I’m Ready to Download!” Because I had already been tricked once, I didn’t assume at this point that a download would begin. My assumption was that I was going to receive a new email with the actual download link this time. But not so. Instead, this page scrolled down to another form!

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Now, instead of my name and email address, they wanted my name, email address, phone number, website URL, company name, number of employees, my role, department, CRM choice, services provided by my company, and my biggest challenge in marketing or sales. And ALL of these except the challenge question are required.

Seriously. What about the phrase “Download Now” suggests anything about taking me through a process of filling out a three part form to then filling out a twelve part form? Why can you not be honest with me in the initial exchange? Convince me of how valuable this resource is to me and then be straight! Tell me that I can access this resource after simply completing a quick form. Don’t mislead me again and again throughout the process.

Honestly, at this point the only reason I actually completed the form was so I could gather screenshots of each step to write this blog. I didn’t even want the kit anymore.

So finally, I clicked yet another button that said “Download Now.” And do you think that a download began when I clicked that button? NOOOOOO! I was taken to yet another webpage with the download link.

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But I had to know. I clicked the “Download File” button. Sure enough, a download began. Hallelujah! I also received a new email with the direct download link as well.

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I love how they assumed I would be in the mood for some social media advice at this point.

All that to say, just be honest. Please. I get that if I would have been warned in the initial email that I would have to complete a twelve part form, I might have checked out and never completed the process. That is very likely. Unless I believe that what you are offering is valuable enough. Establish value and trust first.

There are several other similar marketing or social media SAAS company’s whose resource I would easily download if asked to complete a survey or form first. Because they have already established value and trust with me, which didn’t come by first tricking me throughout a lead capture process.

Just tell me the truth.

You can GIF with this, or you can GIF with that.

That whole alphabet system thing is so 7th century BC.

We all (hopefully) know that animated GIFs are nothing new. Graphics Interchange Format (aka GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987. The developers pronounced it jif, like the peanut butter. But I guess they also pronounced graphics as giraffics. Take it away Chris…

Animated GIFs have particularly blown up on Tumblr as a primary form of media shared. You can get lost in there for days on end.

Until recently, though, sharing GIFs on Twitter and Facebook has been difficult. Twitter finally realeased a feature that allows animated GIFs to be viewed directly within your timeline and Facebook has come around some too (more on that below). When it comes to engagement, especially from a brand, utilizing media in clever ways can be one of your best strategies. GIFs can often be the perfect extra touch for many occasions.

But the real question is: Where do I find that perfect GIF?

Answer: Giphy.

Giphy is a massive database of animated GIFs. Giphy is to GIFs what Google Image is to images. If you’re a community manager, social media marketer, or whatever else you want to call your position of writing tweets for a fun brand, then Giphy should be at the forefront of your toolbox. You can either save a GIF and upload it to Twitter, or you can share the direct link from within the webpage, and Twitter will add the GIF into the timeline. I avoid the latter method because I don’t like the extra link cluttering up my character field.

For Facebook, uploading a GIF directly does not work. It will come out as a still image. However, sharing the link from Giphy does work. It will embed the looping animated GIF for all of your friends to enjoy! One little tip is once the GIF is pulled from the link and embedded, delete the link from your text field to clean things up a bit.

And for all you Chrome users, go get yourself this handy dandy little Giphy extension for finding the perfect GIF on the fly.

Now, GIF on with it.

Nuzzel: News Feed Curated by Your Friends

I follow a lot of awesome people on Twitter, many of whom share links to really great articles that I want to read. Many of those links I catch, but still many of them I miss.

I’ve always wished I had a way to simply filter and view all tweets in my timeline that contained links. Well, Nuzzel has helped with that wish. Nuzzel is a news feed app for web and iOS that shows you all of the articles that your friends on Twitter and/or Facebook have shared. Simply sign in with either Twitter or Facebook, and Nuzzle shows you a feed of articles and who shared them. You can even receive custom alerts for breaking news that is shared by many of your friends.

You can organize the timeline by either timeframe of post or number of friends that shared the link, and the timeline of posts can be filtered anywhere from the past 24 hours to the past hour.

Nuzzle instantly made its way onto my front page along with my other go-to content apps (News360, Digg, and Feedly).

Give a Damn

I think if you were to boil most things down when trying to figure how to be successful, most of it at some point would come down to a common denominator…. giving a damn. Really. Your work. Your marriage. Your parenting. Your friendships. Your finances. Your generosity. Etc.

Freaking give a damn!

I know. I know. That’s oversimplifying a lot of potentially deep stuff. But at the end of the day, I want my wife to know that I seriously give a damn about her and about our marriage. I want my kids to know that I give a damn about them and their emotional, physical, educational, spiritual, and relational development. I want to love my wife and kids like I give more of a damn about them than anything else. I want my boss to know that I seriously give a damn about the work I am doing. I’m not just milking a clock or monotonously shelling out mediocre work; I actually care about honoring my employer and company with the quality of work that I offer. I want my friends to know that I give a damn about them. That I listen to them; that I care about them; that I pray for them. I want my wallet to reflect that I give a damn about the less fortunate in this world. That I am conscious with my spending and the types of products that I am buying.

So yes, I’m oversimplifying, but I guarantee that if you start your day out by asking yourself what exactly you give a damn about, it will impact the way to go about the various areas of your daily routine. What do the different areas of your day reflect? Do they show the world that you absolutely, without a doubt, give a damn, or would it seem that you are just getting through the time. Getting from A to B. Getting from rising out of bed to laying back in it. Offering nothing more than mediocrity.

Wherever you are in life. Whatever it is that you do for a living. Give a damn about it. No matter how mundane or seemingly insignificant it may be, give a damn.

And here’s the hard part: giving a damn requires giving yourself. With your marriage, family, work, friends, etc. it is impossible to truly give a damn about any of it without giving of yourself; laying aside your wants for the needs of others. I think the ironic thing about true lasting success is that it is so dependent upon you seeking the external success of all the surrounding elements of your life and not yourself.

Pick this idea apart and see what you get. Maybe I’m crazy. I even made a cute poem out of it…

Wherever I am…
Let me give a damn!

 

GoodTask: A New and Better Face for Apple’s Reminders

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I’ve been testing out GoodTask (formerly known as This Week) for iOS for about a month now. Simply put, GoodTask is a mask for Apple Reminders; it’s what Reminders should have been. This is great for those who work heavily with Apple products, since Reminders is already built in to many areas of iOS.

The beautiful thing about GoodTask is that it also pulls in your calendars to show your tasks right on top of your schedule. You can filter task view between list, day, week, or month, which also filters what calendar items you see. I love being able to go back and forth from seeing my day’s tasks and schedule to the upcoming week’s tasks and schedule.

What I love about this app is that there are no workarounds for syncing Reminders to it, as with some other apps. This allows you to take full advantage of all the ways Reminders are built into the iOS experience, such as using Siri to create new tasks, or adding a reminder from an incoming phone call that you can’t take at the moment, and more. All of the same features of Reminders are there too, like location-based reminders, priority levels, various task lists, shared lists, recurring tasks, etc.

I’ve always wanted to take advantage of Apple’s Reminders, but always felt that the viewing functionalities were so limited and task input was very clunky. GoodTask changes all of that. If you’ve been wanting a much better experience for using Reminders, this is it.

The developers are currently working on a Mac app as well. I’ve been testing it with them for the past week and so far it is working great.

This app would work well for those who like Omnifocus in the way it puts tasks and schedules on top of each other, but don’t quite need something that robust or don’t want to pay the price tag for it. It would also be a great option for those who like more streamlined apps like Any.do, but want a little more functionality when it comes to viewing and task input. One feature that sets this apart is ability to share Reminders lists with others. This turns GoodTask into a great task collaboration tool.

GoodTask is currently $4.99 in the App Store

Smarter Social Monitoring with Mention

If you spend time browsing through multiple tweet streams in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, or if you clutter up your email inbox with Google alerts, you may want to look into Mention. I started using this app with Land of a Thousand Hills about a month ago, and I cannot imagine working without it now.
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With Mention, you set up various “Alerts” that can be customized to include a single word, phrase, or set of words. For example, I have a Land of a Thousand Hills alert that pulls in anything on the web that includes “Land of a Thousand Hills,” “@1000HillsCoffee,” “1000HillsCoffee”, or “Thousand Hills Coffee.” Anytime any of these expressions are used, whether in a tweet, Facebook update, Instagram, blog post, or whatever, I see it. And the best part is, I can react from directly within Mention. I can retweet a tweet, reply to a tweet, comment on a Facebook post, etc. Mention even integrates with Buffer so you can add retweets or replies to your Buffer to be scheduled out. If you handle support or customer service as a team, mentions can be shared and responses can be delegated amongst the team.

Really, I do not think that I can recommend this app enough. If your company or personal brand requires you to be able to actively listen or monitor what is being said to you or about you, or even what is being said to or about your competitors, you need to sign up for a free trial of Mention. I am pretty sure you’ll be sold within the first week at how great of a tool this is.