What’s Your Best Social Media Super Power?

Perhaps you can’t kill zombies or do backflips like Simone Biles, but you can probably do something that others can’t do. Maybe you’re super friendly. Maybe you’re good at research. Or maybe you love having conversations with strangers. Have you ever considered focusing on your strengths, rather than building up your weaknesses? You might like this article: How to work your wonderful strengths, forget your weaknesses.

Do you know what your super powers are?

If not, there are many online quizzes you can take. For instance, one really common one is Strengths Finder 2.0. I really like the Ideas for Action in the Strengths Finder book. I’m an “achiever,” so I need to build in celebration and recognition into my life. Because simply achieving all the time makes Jack a dull boy. Or Carol a dull girl. Another is the Myers-Briggs personality test, which divides people into 16 personality types. Of course, neither the Strengths Finder nor the Myers-Briggs personality test is the end-all for knowing about yourself. You may need to journal or seek some other method to find the real you and your super powers.

Don’t hide your super powers

As Bill Garland says in his article Why the Soft Skills Are HardOur soft skills reveal who we truly are, how we view the world and our place in it.” If your super power happens to be a soft skill, all the more reason to share it with the world. You may think a soft skill is a liability, but it’s usually a super power! And if you use soft skills on social media, your power quadruples (according to a statistic that I just made up). After all, you need to be social, which is a soft skill as well as a super power.

Super powers make you stand apart

Once you know what your strengths are, you can figure out how to use those strengths. For instance, if your strength is connectedness, you know deep in your soul that everything happens for a reason. And you may be able to help others see what their reasons for connecting are, too. People with this super power can assist people to connect with other people or groups.

Lead with your super powers

If you can bring people to your environment, you’ll be more comfortable. If you excel at face-to-face meetings, that means meeting in real life. If you have a great phone voice, you’ll be more comfortable on a call or perhaps on a Zoom call.

Why the Mushy In-Between Silicon Valley Startups Matter

This morning I was reading Shira Ovide’s article about Silicon Valley’s Meh Middle and nodding my head vigorously. Having been a survivor of some of those very meh startups, I understand how often they’re overlooked. Not everyone is a superstar. And not everyone fails miserably, no matter how often people tell us to Fail Forward. A lot of startups, well, they’re right in the middle. And they tend to be forgotten.

Failure and the Meh Middle

Sometimes I think of the meh middle as large airliners that float down slowly. They don’t go down in flames in a Grey’s Anatomy-styled dramatic crash. Neither do they land perfectly. Some startups might land slightly off the runway and slide into the water. And we never hear from them again. We might hear about them when they’re young companies, but later? Nothing. Nada. Zip. By the way, you might like this article about failure: Is Failure Mandatory on the Road to Success?

Where do the Meh Middle companies go?

Those meh middle companies do not go gentle into that good night as Dylan Thomas said. It’s more like they fade away. Their inventory is sold one day and like an old, sad Blockbuster store, they turn into a place that sells Bundt cakes. Maybe there are a couple of employees in the back, working to clean the place up. Maybe there’s just a guy with a shopping cart taking the used laptops out to the trunk of his SUV, hoping to sell them on eBay. And make a few bucks.

Nobody writes about the Meh Middle guys

Can you imagine a movie or novel about the meh middle guys? It would be like one of those performance art pieces where you watch someone sleep for eight hours. Chris Burden and Andy Warhol both actually did that, but that’s a story for another day. I’m not sure that with social media, people have the capacity to watch someone sleep for very long. We can’t stand to be bored for very long, can we? Even ten minutes of watching would be too much! Personally, I’m a big fan of learning from failure. You might like What Happens When You Focus on Failure and Creativity?

Not minnows, but not whales

As Shira Ovide says these meh middlers are not minnows. But they’re not whales either. They’re sort of like those child actors that you remember every once in a while in the shower. But where are they now? Luckily we have Google to help us remember and unearth photos of what they’ve been doing. We may not always have an accurate record of the companies that slide into oblivion, however. Is it too painful to focus on the startups that are neither dramatic successes or crazy failures?

Why should we care?

Like the dramatic failures, there’s gold to discover in the Meh Middle. If we forget what happened, we could repeat history. Because there were moments where something wonderful and good could have happened. And sometimes those in-betweeners turn things around and become glowing successes. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to have a record of those companies, what went wrong, and what could have been?

Ten Quick and Easy Content Ideas for Social Media

So your startup is just ramping up and you are about to start the social media accounts. You have the graphics for the headers done, and have the bios written. What’s next, you might ask? What will you post on social media? Will you say “This is my first tweet.” and leave it at that? Here are some ideas that could help!

Behind the Scenes with the Team

A photo of the whole team with a short caption could be an easy way to start. Describe the office setting and who’s usually there. Maybe explain what each person does, too, but keep it short.

Industry News

What’s interesting and in the news for people who might follow your brand on social media? If your industry news is full of jargon, you might interpret for people. Explain the jargon and acronyms for people. Better still, put all the jargon into a blog post and refer them to it.

Your Ideal Audience’s Pain Points

What makes your audience hurt? Do they have concerns? What is their lifestyle? Describe their pain points in detail and how your service or product could help. Or simply give people ideas on how to overcome their pain points.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people know what you do? What do people ask you all the time? If you’re tired of answering the same questions over and over, put those into a blog post.

Glowing Testimonials

Do you have testimonials? People love to hear what other people think before they buy. Of course, ask before you include people’s words, especially if they were said in private. Even if people gave you a testimonial publicly, it’s a good idea to ask their permission before printing their words.

Inspirational Quotes

What are your/your brand’s core beliefs? Have quotes and explain what the quotes mean to you and your brand. The quotes can be from anyone on the team–they don’t just have to be from the CEO. Quotes are a good way to include everyone on the team.

Mascot Photos

If you don’t have a real mascot, maybe borrow one for a photo shoot! How about a dog, a cat, or a hedgehog? Or a goldfish. Some people even make the mascot their avatar. And if your product or service is related to animals, that’s even better.

Advice for the Person Who’ll Use Your Product/Service

Maybe there’s some advice you can give for an adjacent product. Or what people can expect the first time they use your service. Or some little hiccup people have when using your service.

Share Curated Content

Sharing other influencers’ thoughts can be helpful. For instance, if you’re a window film company (one of the brands I work for), how about posts about interior design or architecture? Wallpaper, remodeling, or avoiding the sun are also good adjacent topics.

Have a Contest

Do a giveaway! If your product is too expensive to give away, maybe something they could use every day? How about branded water bottles? Or tote bags? Some of the best giveaways I’ve received have been small. For instance, I have a little widget that goes over my webcam for privacy.

 

When You Play More, Your Creativity Blooms

I wrote this article after watching the playful wonderland, a video on TED Talks. Take seven minutes to watch it if you’d like to become more creative. Or just because it’s fun to take a break and look at something different.

Steven Johnson, of the above TED Talk, discussed the “strange delight of play.” And claims that you’ll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

Innovations Occur Because of Play

What I really liked about this TED Talk was the idea of an invention that was surprisingly frivolous (the flute), and how that invention, and inventions like it, fuel innovations. That flute led to the invention of the organ and the organ led to the invention of the harpsichord. And the harpsichord led to the programmable music box. And so on through the programmable loom to the computer.

We Learn through Play

As many parents know, kids learn the best when they’re playing. And maybe adults learn better through fun and playing, too. When kids have positive early experiences, they become happier adults. And those positive experiences include play to a large extent. Play-based learning is important to kids as this article from Edmentum points out, so why don’t we play more as adults? Is it just that we forget how?

Different Forms of Play

For adults, there are board games, online video games, in-person theater games, and all sorts of team sports. Like children, we have our favorites and don’t often stray from those. But what if we all insisted on more play? We would look at things very differently, wouldn’t we? And who says having fun can’t be a part of our work day? After all, having a sense of humor and playing can spark new ideas, add to your happiness, and it’s just, well, fun.

Alternate the Way You Play

When you play in a different way, you may become more creative, too. You might want to decide what fun means to you, and how to incorporate play into your everyday life. Is your form of playing improvisational theater? Is it dancing and singing? Or is it playing mini-golf? Do you need to take a break from working? If so, you might like this article:  Best Reasons to Take a Break from Your Business. (I had fun writing it!)

How Do You Become More Creative?

For me, with the economy opening back up, I’ll be heading to the gym. Not so much to lift weights, but to dance. Yes, Zumba counts as dancing. I’ll also be doing yoga, as well as taking on some more fun projects, which I’ll talk about as they occur. I am thinking about watercolor painting and ceramics, too. Since a lot of our choices were taken away from us, I feel grateful to have more choices.

 

 

You’ve Got 15 Minutes on Social Media. Now What?

People always say you can do something on social media in 15 minutes, but can you really? I think if you’re really focused, you can. You can’t get a lot done, but you can do something.

First Things First

Set a timer because you’ve got to get out of there in 15 minutes. And resolve to really get out of there! You may also want to decide on a smallish treat for yourself (helloooo chocolate bar!) once you’re done. Make sure you won’t get interrupted and really focus for that 15 minutes. And speaking of 15 minutes, you might like Five Secrets to Social Media Success: Greatness in 15 minutes day.

Check Your Notifications

The first thing I’d do is check my notifications, especially if you haven’t been on the social media site recently. See if anyone has mentioned you, and thank them or respond. Of course, if it’s been weeks or months since you’ve been on, maybe just issue an apology and leave it at that. You might not be able to go back and respond to everyone. By the way, don’t set up your notifications so they buzz or otherwise hijack your attention. Here’s how to turn them off: This is Why You Need to Turn off Your Social Media Notifications.

Share Something

You can share an picture that you took yourself or a post that someone else had on their timeline. Check that there’s a good image if you’re sharing an article. And say something about it. You don’t have to say a lot, but you could say what you like about the article. If it’s a picture you took yourself, say where you took it or what it reminds you of or something about it. Using talk to text can save some time, especially if you’re on your phone. One way to share something is through Friend Sourcing.

Leave Some Time for Responses

People may want to respond to what you just posted, so make sure to leave a little time so that you can respond back later. In other words, be social. Five minutes should do it, in most cases. And if you’re wondering when you need to respond, here’s a good guide: The Non-Awkward Professional’s Guide to Interacting With Strangers on Social Media. Bottom line? There are different levels of responses, and if someone simply “likes” something you posted, don’t feel obligated to interact with them. A comment, on the other hand, means the person wants to interact with you.

You’re Done!

Eat your cookie, go for a walk, or do whatever you do to reward yourself.

Best Reasons to Take a Break from Your Business

While most of us know intellectually that it’s a good idea to take a break and go on vacation, with the pandemic, it’s been more difficult than at other times. But getting away is critical for our mental health, and to prevent burnout. Here are my reasons for taking a break.

Get a fresh look at old ideas

Do you find yourself going through the motions sometimes, like I do? Sometimes I find myself doing things just because that’s why they’ve been done before. Like somehow that habit became set in stone. It’s so useful to ask why things are done a certain way. For instance, why publish blog posts on a certain day, or why make them a certain length, or why write them at all? Are you stuck for ideas about blogging? Then you might want to try these: How to Quickly and Easily Unleash Your Blogging Creativity.

Totes ma goats

Take some photos you can use on your own accounts

Do you find yourself with a lack of creativity? Recharging the battery seems to always recharge the well of creativity, too. When you get outside there’s the fresh air, the open road, and the mini-golf! If you’re looking for some wonderful photos, my good friend Beth Staub at Adventure Photo Studios takes photos and also sells them. I love her nature photos, in particular.

Irises

Meet up with friends

One of my favorite ways to spend days off is talking with friends. They always give me a fresh perspective, and make me laugh. And of course laughing is a major way to prevent stress from building up. For me, it’s been about a year since getting any time off–which is way too long! So even though we didn’t go anywhere exotic (hello Humboldt County!), it seemed far away. By the way, you might like this article about friend sourcing. Friend Sourcing: the New Way to Content Creation?

Humboldt

Talk about something else other than your business

When I’m at work, I tend to meet people in similar businesses. But while traveling, there are so many other people in different professions. Sometimes that hyperfocus on business isn’t a good thing. We spoke with people of all ages, with different jobs, who lived in different places. Our friends at home are more like us, so we don’t get that infusion of new ideas.

Spend time playing for good ideas

Playing isn’t just for kids. It might be even more important for adults! While away, we played mini-golf, something I hadn’t done in years. It was one of the silliest courses (and some of us may have cheated just a little), but it was so much fun! Read this Forbes article about The Importance of Play.

 

Five Secrets to Social Media Success: Greatness in 15 Minutes a Day

So here’s the deal. Here are five actionable things you can do this week to improve your social media and become more successful. Some of these are things not to do, and those might be even easier for you. Read one each day for five days and you’ll improve. Really.

Day One: Share Every Day

Can you do this? You don’t have to create all your own content, but you need to be on your accounts. As friend Robert Nissenbaum discusses, getting results and engaging on social media are intertwined: If you want results, think about how you post and share content. Engagement and how you share makes a difference. You can schedule, but it’s even better to be live on social media. You might even come into contact with someone else who’s actually there, too.

Day Two: Don’t Tag Everyone in the World

Yes, we’re all connected to quite a few people on our social media accounts. But you don’t have to tag everyone. And if you are tagged, you don’t have to then reply to everyone! It’s quite simple to simply reply to the person who tagged you and to no one else (unless there’s a reason to, but usually there isn’t one). If you reply to everyone, chances are you’ll get muted or–worse–unfollowed. So don’t do that!

Day Three: Engage, Engage, Engage

Engagement is probably the most important thing you can do on social media. Talk to other people. Be social. If you don’t know how, here’s a book you might like (on Amazon): 21 Ways to Total Social Media Engagement That Will Make You Look Like a Pro. Why should you care about engagement, you might ask. Well, the internet is a crowded place and getting more crowded every day. So with engagement, you and your brand can stand out.

Day Four: Create Lists

Yes, those things everyone complains about. Make some of them. They can be private if you are afraid people will judge you for putting you on their lists. Here’s the skinny on why lists are so important: Twitter Lists for the Power User. By the way, I don’t get why people complain about lists. Do you?

Day Five: Create a Professional Bio and Headshot

If you don’t know what your bio should say, ask some friends. For a good headshot, hire a pro. Your bio is the first thing people read about you, and your headshot says a lot in a visual way. Your bio is a snapshot of you and your life at this moment in time. It can be changed! So don’t worry too much if it’s not perfect.

 

 

Had Enough of the Surge in Boundaries Blurring Between Social Media Platforms?

One thing I’ve noticed happening a lot lately on social media platforms is that the boundaries are blurring between the different platforms. Just like with movies, people are copying each other and there is less distinction in the platforms. When will the blurring ever stop? Wired had a good article about this phenomenon: All the Social Media Giants Are Becoming the Same. Have you noticed this, too?

Everything starts to look the same

How can you even tell where you are on the interwebs any more? When one thing looks like the next looks like the next, is there any reason to switch from Insta to Twitter to Facebook? For example, now there are Facebook stories, just like there are Instagram stories. They were on Insta first, then Facebook had to copy them. And before that, they were on Snapchat. And of course now that Clubhouse has really taken off, Facebook is reportedly working on something similar.

Why is this happening?

Is there really so little creativity that everyone has to copy everyone else? Is this because there’s a lack of boundaries in our personal relationships? Does someone need to step in and say no? Or is it simply because Facebook saw Instagram’s saw Snapchat’s success and wanted to keep people on their platform longer? I vote for that one. Everyone wants to be a one-shop stop. So if you can shop, upload photos, and catch up with friends on Facebook, why would you have to go somewhere else? You wouldn’t! By the way, you might like this article about how to unleash your blogging creativity.

The death of creativity?

So in another instance of copying, Instagram reels copied TikTok. And all of the social media platforms now are pushing hashtags as well as more video. There are some rules, but those are changing all the time, too. Videos can be up to sixty seconds long on Insta and TikTok, but up to sixty minutes long on Facebook. Of course, on YouTube, video length is a whole different story. There’s a 15-minute limit, but you can get around it, luckily for us wanting to know how to fix our plumbing or knit sweaters.

It’s one big blobby casserole

Remember those blobby casseroles where there’d be some kind of meat mixed with an onion soup packet topped with corn flakes? You couldn’t even really tell what kind of meat it was. It was like being in a school cafeteria on a bad day, when the chef was hungover and didn’t feel up to making something original. That’s what happens when there are no differences (or very little difference) between social media platforms. If you like those kind of casseroles in real life, then maybe you’d like this post on Epicurious! 73 Easy Casserole Recipes That We Keep Coming Back To. At least once you’re done cooking, you get something delicious! Ok. End of rant.

 

Social Media: Five Worst Practices That Can Hurt Your Brand

We all know some things that are super annoying on social media, but are they really worst practices? What’s true and what isn’t? Read on to find out!

Tagging Everyone

Have you been tagged by people who don’t know you so they can sell you something? If you have, maybe you or your brand have been getting unfollowed or — worse — blocked. If you are tagged and then do a “reply all” and reply to everyone, you may risk spamming those who don’t care about the topic. You may also be muted and not even realize it! Social Media Examiner has a swell article about tagging and mentioning on Instagram. I also really like this article by Lisa Larter on Tagging Etiquette: “If you don’t use this etiquette the right way, instead of landing leads and garnering the positive attention you’re seeking, you’ll wind up turning people completely off of you and your content.”

Treating All Platforms Like They’re the Same

Posting the same thing across all social media platforms? Although the languages overlap in some cases, there are still differences between them. For instance, using too many hashtags on Facebook can be the mark of a newbie. Often, people use hashtags that don’t even make sense. Do they think all those hashtags make them look cool? I have no idea. I wrote about this around 100 years ago: Different Platform, Different Language. Then again, sometimes platforms change the rules. For instance, Pinterest which never encouraged hashtags, now does encourage them. It’s worthwhile to do a quick Google search to see what’s happening before using hashtags (or any other practice).

Filling Your Posts with TLAs

Unless your audience is very narrow, and you know them all, then over use of three-letter acronyms can really turn off an audience. It’s a good idea to explain acronyms the first time they’re used, at the very least. I see this a lot in scientific posts. Think about your audience, and whether any of them are newbies. If they are, then consider explaining your acronyms. You may also have followers who aren’t newbies, but are new to your particular field. Explaining your acronyms is never a bad idea.

Being Unsocial

If you’re broadcasting and you/your brand is not a broadcast medium (radio, t.v., etc.), then what is the point of social media? Respond to people, thank them, and mention others often. Share articles that your primary audience might find interesting. And support your friends. If you can’t afford to buy their product or service, you can share what they have to offer, or make connections for them. Speaking of friends, you might like this article on Friend Sourcing.

Posting Unsavory Things

Politics, sexual content, or badmouthing others can lead to being unfollowed. It’s better to focus on the things you might have in common with others. Small talk isn’t such a bad thing on social media. If you’re posting for a political account, that might be an exception. Otherwise, decide what you want to avoid on social media.

The Multitasking Myth: What it Means, Why it Hurts, How to Stop

We’re all busy. We wake up thinking about work, spend most of our waking hours working (if we’re entrepreneurs), and sometimes even dream about work. So of course we multitask sometimes. It can’t be helped, can it? And yet, many experts agree that multitasking is actually an impossibility. We don’t really multitask–we simply switch between tasks very quickly.

What is the multitasking myth?

Wikipedia defines human multitasking (as opposed to computers multitasking, I believe) as “the ability to perform more than one task or activity at the same time, such as speaking on the phone while driving a car.” There have been many articles written about the myth of multitasking, including articles by Inc. magazine, Psychology Today, and NPR. There has even been a TED Talk on the subject. Turns out, we’ve been fooling ourselves all along, thinking we’re doing more, when actually we’re doing less. But when that tricky ego gets involved, we feel more self-satisfied, although we’re doing less. By the way, you might like How to Face and Overcome One-More-Thing-itis. After all, One-More-Thing-itis is related to multitasking!


Why does it hurt us?

Splitting our attention between two or more tasks actually makes us less efficient. That going back and forth saps our energy and leaves us with less than if we’d simply focused on one task. Multitasking wastes our time, energy, and plays tricks on our minds. Our productivity goes down, not up, as we multitask more. In an article from Entrepreneur magazine, Suddan SS discusses the three reasons why multitasking is more unproductive than you think. It increases stress, weakens your memory, and kills your creativity. Speaking of creativity, have you read: How to Quickly and Easily Unleash Your Blogging Creativity?

How do we stop?

As Nike didn’t ever say “Just don’t do it!” Maybe simply knowing that multitasking hurts is the first step, like admitting there’s a problem is the first step in many addiction programs. One thing that helps me is to have white noise or quiet noise on when working. It tricks your brain into getting on track. Another way to stop multitasking is to say no. Say it a lot. As somebody said No is a complete sentence. I like that one. Another way is to turn off all your notifications on your phone. All that beeping simply distracts from the work at hand. And nobody is so busy that they can’t focus on one thing at a time.

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