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Yet another post where I make some crazy link with social media because clearly I have no life. For real, ya’all. I have an overt obsession with this stuff.

August 21, 2009

concert_shoe

Shoe: Concert Shoe. Note:Yes I know this is a man’s shoe. All will reveal itself as you read.

Last week, I had coffee iced tea with Tim, a dear friend of mine. We were discussing his recent venture in Colorado, eight-week long music festival for some of the most talented musicians in the country.

colorado_1

One of the reasons he was so inclined to pursue this program was for the networking opportunity it would offer him. These musicians will become some of the most influential in their industry, and having such an intense program for these promising individuals will help them form the basis for many of their future job leads.

This festival fostered authentic interpersonal relationships between members in the same industry.

(Here’s the part where I make the connection between coffee iced tea and social media):

…So this conversation gets me thinking about social media. I personally am of the framework that social media is meant to enhance the capability for interpersonal interaction, not replace it. Tim has laid the groundwork for use of social media. He was telling me how since the orchestra festival had concluded, everyone has been befriending each other on Facebook and writing on each other’s Facebook walls.

I just wanted to give Tim a standing ovation for this perfect demonstration of the correct way to conduct social media relationship building. Of course, I recognize that there are some difficulties (i.e., propinquity), that surround having ‘real-life’ interpersonal interactions. Life is not without its complications.colorado_2

But here’s why I’m applauding Tim. Companies need to look to his example and recreate these gold standards with our constituencies when building our networks:

1. Being Authentic: Tim’s NBF’s (new best friends) were formed through a genuine passion for the music industry. They were all true to their roots and passions and by being true to oneself, we can better surround ourselves with those who have similar passions.

2. Storytelling: Imagine as if you’re conversing with your friends. You’re not *selling* what you do, you’re *telling* what you do. Communicating your story should enhance your audience’s perception of your personality alongside your knowledge about your profession. Just communicating with your audience, you will humanize your personal brand and become more respected and valued by your constituency.

3. Interpersonal relationships: If you want to use social media, use the tools to enhance the relationships you already have and foster genuine connections with new people.

4. Eliminating the “we/they” dichotomy: If you’re genuinely interacting with people, you are able to drop the “preaching” element of your story, and it’s an easier story to tell. What your network says to you should be as important (if not more important) as what you communicate to them. Ideally, you would want to respond and engage in open dialogue.

Ultimately, this list has one overarching theme: being true to oneself.

1.) To be authentic and 2) engage people via storytelling that 3) builds interpersonal relationships that 4) eliminate the we/they dichotomy, we must not lay an idea of who we want to be on top of our pre-existing personalities, we must live who we are.

Tim, congratulations on pursuing a field that embodies your true personality. You’re bound to reach your dreams by following what it is you are passionate about.

I’m shoxed!

August 13, 2009

Nike_Shox_TurboShoe: Awesome NikeID Shox. Personalized with “Megan McQ” On back of the heels. (Real picture coming shortly) Did I mention they are Awesome?

So I just got back from my fist time playing volleyball in about a month due to a few injuries.

While I was playing this evening, I became aware that I am not as quick as I used to be, even in comparison to just a few years ago. I can’t do the cool things I once could (i.e., pancake/roll–see below), but this could be because I don’t play every day for 2 hours a day year-round. I also have to play with contacts now. Ouch.

vb_pancakeIn fact, I’m only approved to play once a week less any additional injury. (It’s a good thing I think the number “3” is the number “1”—let’s keep that between you and me).

For me, this realization that ‘every day we’re getting older’ was a ‘carpe diem’ moment. I didn’t touch a ball for about four years but I’m glad I’m back on the court for as much as I am able to be. (This was a shameless plug for insisting that you follow your dreams, no matter how far-fetched you may imagine them to be, bla bla, etc. I’ve found I’m typically my own worst road block.)

On another note, the best part of this evening was getting to break in my new pair of NikeID Shox. They are actually supposed to be running shoes but I need to break them in slowly, and I think my actual court shoes may not be supportive enough for my broken foot.

Despite a few moral issues I may have with Nike, I have to tell you I like Shox. I also think that Nike made an amazingly brilliant decision to allow for personalization of various shoes. With their NikeID Web site, I can customize virtually every element of a variety of different shoes. From the ‘shox’ color to the color of my shoe laces–I even had the left heel personalized with my first name and the right heel with my last name. Pretty neat, huh?

In social media marketing, there’s a high debate that’s questioning the best way to determine if your campaign is successful. While this is one of the many issues that our industry seems to disagree on, I personally think that a campaign is successful by the amount of conversation that is generated about your company, product or message. (There are various ways to monitor for conversation and I’m sure this blog post may very well end up on a monitoring report about the company later this week.)

But I was thinking about it, and what a better way to generate a WOM conversation than by being able to create off-line user generated content (UGC)?  I can share my own individual story about Nike by purchasing these custom shoes. My shoes embody Nike’s corporate story. And since birds of a feather flock together, the people with which I converse with will ask me about my *totally awesome* shoes, and I’ll tell them to check out the site.

Win-Win. I get great shoes, Nike gets great publicity.

The same UGC concept holds true for other successful campaigns. President Obama’s campaign (Note: this blog is not politically affiliated) was very successful in garnering interest in his party for the election by having individuals create and display their own personalized version of his logo, among other social media tactics.

According to a white paper by Edelman entitled the Social Pulpit:

The MyBO Web site contained videos, speeches, photos and how-to guides that gave people the raw materials they needed to create their own compelling content in support of Obama. In return, supporters created more than 400,000 pro-Obama videos and posted them to YouTube. They also wrote more than 400,000 blog posts on the MyBO Web site.

In Obama’s case, this was all digital UGC. But the fact of the matter is that this digital UGC transferred from online to BO_logooff-line action on election day. Pretty neat, right?

In essence, UGC may be one of the more important elements of determining if a campaign is successful. And that’s what I thought about while playing volleyball.

PS: Yes. I’m making social media connections while playing volleyball. Deal.

PPS: This was not a sponsored post.

Images via Gauntlet and  Planspark’s Photostream

Google: *Thee* Social Network

July 31, 2009
tags:

weird_shoe First let me say that this shoe will now represent all of the times I’m writing about a subject that I’m confused about. That is because this shoe literally has a Gameboy in it. It also has a Pokemon in it. I think that’s all of the explanation you need in order for me to begin this next post.

So here’s the deal.Whenever I find a social media topic interesting, I like to conduct a fair amount of research on it before I begin a post so that I sound like I know what I’m talking about.  A few weeks ago, I noticed how many blog posts I had been reading about Google. Thus, I decided that it was time for me to understand more about Google’s capabilities.

Here’s the reason. I’m a Google child at heart. I’ve been on Gmail and Gchat since the time when you needed an invite to join (aka ancient Mesopotamia times).  I’ve noticed that there are so many more capabilities of Google that I probably don’t use but should. I mean, Google is a translator, a search engine, a navigator, an operating system, an Internet browser, a television, etc.

Google. When I joined. We communicated with hieroglyphics. No foolin'.

Google. When I joined. We communicated with hieroglyphics. No foolin'.

Ultimately, the reason why I wanted to begin this blog post was because Google is a social network. It’s the all-in-one. The creme-de-la-creme of social networking.

It’s like an iPhone commercial for applications, except for Google: Need a translator? There’s a Google for that. Need an email? There’s a Google for that…I’m already sick of the commercials and they don’t even exist (yet).

Point being is, Google is a social network, so I wanted to demystify it for my clients on my company blog.  And, I’ve been working on this blog post for awhile now. The problem is that Google is so large, every time I try to understand it all, it becomes more overwhelming. Luckly I’ve found a few great resources to help me out.

However, I’ve decided to narrow my post to the forthcoming Google Wave. I hope that I can secure an invite when it’s first released in September.

Image via For Ladies by Ladies

You know what really grinds my gears? Twitter Followers.

July 22, 2009

ninja_shoeShoe: Ninja Shoes.

Note: This post is a rant.Okay. Not a rant, per se. But moreorless a semi-rant that may make you think I need to take a kickboxing class. Which I can’t take because of my knee. So if you’re suggesting I tear my ACL again in exchange for getting a bit of  anger out, then I’m really going to rant about you next.

I’ve been on Twitter for a year now and I’ve been slowly growing my network on the platform. And I really like Twitter. It’s great.

I get Twitter followers I’ve never talked to or met. In a lot of cases, these followers are influencers in my field, and I’m actually quite honored that they would follow me, even if it’s out of the blue. Anyway, I think It’s because I’m so cool I probably show up in TweetDeck as a ‘Recommended Follower’.

Where’s the rant, Meg?

Okay here’s the deal, though.  They don’t @reply me or tell me WHY they are following me, they just do it. They don’t RT my tweets. They don’t tell me that they know I’m really cool which is why they are following me saw my name as a ‘Recommended Follower’ on TweetDeck.

Thus, I don’t know why they are following me at all. As far as I’m concerned, it is as if we never connected at all. I don’t think that clicking the ‘follow’ button on Twitter constitutes networking.

Oh man. Here it comes.

Here’s why it’s not networking: I value genuine human connection. Clicking a button and doing nothing about it is pointless (IMO). But it seems that this Twitter etiquette (Twittiquette?) has diluted the meaning of genuine human connection.

I think that is possible to form genuine connections with people through Twitter. For example, I recently attended Blog Potomac. We tweeted under the hashtag #BlogPotomac. Practically everyone in the room was microblogging under that hashtag, which was great. When I saw someone tweet something particularly interesting or noteworthy, I would RT their tweet and then follow them. Because they were similarly following #BlogPotomac, they would follow me back, and we would exchange where we were sitting in the room and meet up at the next break.

Now THAT is how it’s supposed to be done.

Also, Twitter helps minimize the spacial distance between business contacts. For example, I was recently in a contest to compete for a permanent blogger position on the Community Marketing Blog. We’re now in frequent discussions on how to make the blog a better community. It’s been great. We have conference calls under the hashtag #CMBCC. I follow the people I’m having these conference calls with because it’s great to follow what information they find important and newsworthy in our field. It’s also great way to keep up with these people in between our conference calls.

I’m not saying Twitter has to be used for business purposes only. For example, my last three tweets were about my weekend, (which I spent in Delaware). I just happen to use Twitter as a great way to keep up with insights into my field. I’m actually guilty of NOT following a lot of ‘acquaintances’ I met in college because I don’t want to dilute my twitter feed. However, I’m considering changing this because of TweetDeck’s utter amazing capabilities.

The point being is, please don’t follow me if you don’t have the intention of establishing a genuine connection with me. I’d rather preserve some integrity in this platform if possible.

Fin.

Major League Baseball Tryouts

July 22, 2009
tags:

cleatsShoe: Cleats

Over the weekend, I ran into a friend of mine, Noah (disclaimer: my sister’s friend).While we were catching up, he told me about his recent try-outs for Major League Baseball.

No shit, ya’all.

He didn’t make the team. But he has always been an avid baseball fan (He’d be my first pick for baseball trivia any day), and I’m quite impressed that he tried out for the team. He had to get up at 4:45 to get to the tryouts on time. He was competing against 150-200 other people on the field when the team was only looking to fill a limited number of slots. I can’t imagine how nervous I would have been. But, he was telling me about the experience on a real field–looking into the stands and completing the tryouts (which, apparently, took about 1 minute out of the 4 hours he was there).baseball_diamond

To make a cheesy comparison, the conversation we had made me think about my decision to pursue independent social media consulting. It seemed like an easy decision to me. So far, it’s been a tremendous amount of work. And, so far, I have encountered some barriers. But I’m happy with what I’m doing.  I’m passionate about the field, I care about making sure I’m as current in the field as possible, and I want to exceed expectations when it comes to all of my client work.I like meeting with people, I like having to do the accounting and marketing on my end as well as for the clients with whom I am working.

I would have been more disappointed with myself had I chosen not to pursue this venture. I think Noah would think the same about his. And, I didn’t pursue this venture for any other reason than attaining a higher level of happiness and pursuing my goals. For me, it’s about going passionately in the direction of my dreams (cue inspirational music here). Moving away from the norm to make my own way. In the words of Babe Ruth himself, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

And sometimes, we don’t make the team. Sometimes, we don’t sign the clients to whom we pitch. But in the end, it’s always been worth it to me. I would rather have tried than not. I would have failed miraculously than failed myself by not following my passions. I would have rather played on that field than walked away.

To me, he made the team.

Image via Kaboodle and Baseball Field Design

Bloggers Block

July 22, 2009

baby_shoeShoe: Baby Shoe

First I should say that I’m using a baby shoe as the theme of this post because I think that the overall theme is timid, similar to a baby’s first steps.

I’ve been blogging over at my industry blog and my company blog for a couple of months now, and I find that I get writers block (bloggers block?).

I literally have a list of about 25 topics that I want to write about, but I just can’t get the inspiration to start. Perhaps This is because I’m a perfectionist. It’s a handicap, I assure you.

That’s why I find it relatively easy to write on this blog in particular. I can make my own comparisons, be pretty optimistic, or insert whatever tone I wish here. It’s not that this blog is separate from my life, I actually agree that there will be an increase in the cross-hatch between personal and professional life, especially on the social media forefront. People can expect to see a greater blur between their personal and professional life. And it’s awesome because at the moment, I think that my personal life is my professional life. Everywhere I go, I’m finding that social media happens to be a topic of conversation, and a lot of my potential clients have come from random conversations at my physical therapist appointments or other random places. I’d have to say that discussing social media is probably one of my interests. Think I’m a nerd? So do I.

But getting back on track, some of the things that run through my mind while I’m debating writing a blog post:

  • Do I know the topic better than my audience?
  • Do I have enough information to substantiate my claims?
  • What if I’m wrong?
  • Will I be able to answer questions if a commenter asks them of me?
  • Is this topic even interesting to anyone but myself?
  • Has this topic already been discussed?

The list goes on. But I’ve decided to take the advice that I’ve been giving to clients. Just do it. I think that it’s important to acknowledge that we’re not experts. I also think it’s important to add value to your readers. And, I think it’s important to publish something than just let 25 potential posts sit in the queue.

My posts typically take a lot of work, but I’m willing to re-evaluate and try to get some of them up on my blog as opposed to letting them sit, half finished.

And I recognize that it’s difficult to join the blogosphere–there are more passive readers to blogs than those who comment or have started their own blog. But I think that those who read blogs actually re-act to the material but never tell us what they are thinking in comments and in their own posts. And it’s a nerve-wracking experience for some. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Thus, here’s how you begin a blog post.

  • Ignore all of your doubts. This means that: It’s alright if you don’t know more about your audience. It’s alright if you’re wrong–no one is perfect. It’s alright if you doubt that anyone else is interested–if they aren’t, who cares? At least you’ve added your own opinion on the matter. And, even if someone has already written a post on the exact same subject, maybe you will have thought about it in a different way.
  • Pick a topic that you know a lot about, or that you want to know more about.
  • Write.

There are times when I’m going through my RSS feeds that I’ll find a particular post interesting, and reflect on that post itself. Or, I’ll comment on that post and subscribe to the RSS feed for the next comments on that post.

Here are some other things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Link to posts to which you refer in your blog post.
  • Encourage readers to reflect on your post–especially if you didn’t arrive at a conclusion.
  • If your commenters ask questions, and you don’t know the answers, let them know. That’s fine.
  • If you make a mistake, and your commenters point it out, all you have to do is correct the information on your post and re-publish it with the corrected information at the top of the post. See an example here.
  • Oh, and spell check. Do a lot of spell-checking.

And I think you’ll learn things as you go–but you won’t learn unless you try, right? I’d like to hear what things you’ve learned along the way while you’re blogging or commenting on blogs. Maybe this will be your first blog comment–I have to tell you, there’s a thrill when you press that “publish” button. Kind of like when you buy a scratch-off lotto ticket and you’re rubbing the penny from the “leave a penny” jar to see if you’ve won.

To comment: All you have to do is put your name (or “Anonymous”), write your comment (example: “You’re awesome, Megan!”), and your email address (which only comes to me, and isn’t published).Then click “post.” Yep. That easy. (Insert Easy Button here).

Oh! And, if all else fails: Just do it.

image via Plum Party

Fractures, Feet and Crocks, Oh my!

July 21, 2009
tags:

crocks

Shoe: Crocks


Recently, I broke my foot.

sesamoidNo, really. I broke my foot. Actually, it happened a few months ago. I fractured my foot wearing cute shoes. Ironic? Perhaps. I thought that it was a sign to start blogging here. I mean, what a great first post topic. Feet.

So here’s the story: I fractured my foot over time wearing unsupported heals and flats. Ouch. I play a lot of volleyball and go to the gym (and continued to wear said shoes deemed ‘unsupported’ by my orthopedic doctor), and the fractures continued to grow. More ouch.

Finally, I went in to see the doctor for my elbow (hyperextension injury), and mentioned that I’ve had persistent discomfort in my foot. While the x-ray of my elbow showed no obvious impediment (duh, hyperextensions are muscle and tendon problems), the x-ray of my foot resulted in the doctor alerting me that I had “sesamoiditis.”

I laughed.

I mean, I found it funny that I’ve been walking around in gorgeous 4-inch wedges with a broken foot for the past few months.

Moral of the story is, I now have to wear crocks or very comfortable walking shoes to help heal the injury, or I will have to get cortisone shots and wear a boot (not particularly fashionable).

Perhaps the real moral is that we’re going to encounter broken feet (insert potentially cheesy metaphor here) throughout our worklife. The question is: how will we overcome them?

image via YepYep and image via Ohio Health