Social Media Isn’t Actually about Sales

A really common misconception, especially among small businesses, is thinking that social media is about sales. People will tell me that one person will tell two people will tell two people, and so on. In their minds, they’re already millionaires–without any “real work.”

Use social media to increase awareness of your brand, connect with people, and for engagement. That’s it. Of course, social media can lead to sales, but chances are it will be an indirect route. You can build trust, and let people know what you’re up to, but trying to sell on social media isn’t usually the aim.

Increase brand awareness

It’s perfectly fine to tell people about your brand. This might include posts about what’s happening behind the scenes, or even what’s on sale, but not direct selling. When is it a good time to increase brand awareness? Some of my clients have started before they even have a product or service to sell. So I’d say the earlier the better. Here’s a post about being on social media for small businesses that you might like. (Hint: you can appear like a bigger business if your social media is good.) If you’re doing a good job, people might even know you from your social media, and have a good impression of your business!

Who does a good job with brand awareness? One excellent account is Wendy’s. And why is their account so terrific? Because they have a personality! Check out this fun tweet from Wendy’s, below. So much personality! And because of their fun, casual style, they get plenty of engagement. So don’t be afraid to show some personality.

Connect with people

People will be interested in your brand and what you offer, but it’s important to show an interest in them first. The best way to share others’ posts is if you think your ideal clients will also be interested in what you share on social media. So for example, say you’re posting for a zoo. Sharing information about animals, how to care for pets at home, what not to do with exotic animals, etc., would all be good things to share. Maybe even share posts from zoos in other parts of the country or world. But sharing about a local auto parts store is probably not going to interest your audience.

Engage through active listening

Listen to what your customers have to say. Sometimes there will be a perfect way to sell through your social media *if* you hear of someone needing exactly what you have to offer. A good example of this is plumbing. You may hear someone say they have a leak or broken pipe. If you’re local and can help, then why not offer? But that scenario is rare, to be honest. I really do believe engagement is the gold standard of social media, by the way. I even wrote a book about engagement!

 

How Does Ambition Contribute to Success? Three Reasons Ambitious People Succeed Against the Odds

Do you believe that ambition or talent are more important? We’ve all heard that those without passion are not likely to succeed, but how does ambition show itself? We all know someone we’d never believe could succeed and yet day after day, there they are starting new companies, pitching new ideas, and generally succeeding.

Ambition is more important than talent

Why? Because sometimes talented people sit and wait for someone to come and discover them. Ambitious people don’t sit and wait. Ambitious people go after what they want. They don’t let failures stop them, and are full of creative ways to succeed.

I really like this article Ambition: The Key Ingredient of Success. In it, Darius Foroux says “Yes, belief by itself is useless. But here’s the thing: The people who believe they can achieve their goals are the ones that actually do.” 

Ambitious people are motivated

What I’ve found is that if your dreams are big, you often find ways to “get ‘er done.” For example, think about Christo’s ambitious project, Running Fence. Did you know about the marketing Christo did before the fence was ever installed? The fence was paid for before it was installed and that is a mark of ambition and creativity, too. Here’s a remembrance of Christo written by famous local artist Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Another very ambitious person is Elon Musk. We don’t hear about Musk’s failures so much as his successes, but think about Paypal. In 1999, Paypal was voted as the worst business product of the year. And Tesla very narrowly bounced back after Musk nearly went bankrupt. Without personal loans, Musk would not be where he is today. Now, of course, Tesla is widely known as a resounding success!

Ambitious people know how to take risks

You may have heard that Japanese proverb Fall down seven times, get up eight.  This proverb illustrates the idea of resilience, of failure, and of success. No matter how many times you are knocked down, you get back up again. No one can compete with someone who won’t quit, right? If you’re interested in failure, you might like this article: Is failure mandatory on the road to success?

The idea of a calculated risk may seem counterintuitive. After all, risk seems to be an idea that defies logic. But does it really? Maybe we can take small risks and build up to bigger and wilder risks. For instance, public speaking might seem like a huge risk, although hardly anyone ever dies from public speaking. Just joking, but haven’t you heard that public speaking is the #1 fear that people have? People are absolutely terrified to get in front of their peers and just say something. If you could speak in front of two people then four people, and so on, maybe eventually speaking in front of a large crowd wouldn’t be so terrifying!

 

Unmasking Perfectionism

Watching videos on decluttering and Marie Kondo recently, I came across a video by Safiya Nygaard that described the “80/80” rule. She keeps her house organized 80% of the time so that it’s just good enough. And that idea wins the day. And that includes getting rid of perfectionism.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

High achievers are often perfectionists

Are you a high achiever? I wrote about this type of strength, which may also describe you: What’s Your Best Social Media Super Power? Also: it’s possible to be a high achiever but not a perfectionist. Naturally, you can be a bit of both. The difference between them, though, is that high achievers are usually supportive of other people. And focusing on other people can help you steer away from perfectionism.

Perfectionism is unrealistic

If life looks like an endless report card, you might like this article from Psychology Today ( I love that right at the top there’s a link so you can find a therapist lol!) Do you agree with perfectionism being fear-based? I certainly do, having come from a family which glorified perfectionism. However, if you’re a perfectionist, chances are that you’re not as well liked as you could be. Think about it. When you hear the word perfectionist, does someone you know (and don’t like much) come to mind? Recently we were on a vacation at an AirBnb. The place was immaculate, but there were rules posted everywhere. Keep this window open when you leave. Pull back the covers on the beds if the sheets have been slept in. And there was the Do not touch the blue button! which of course made everyone want to touch the blue button!

Perfectionism leads to stress

If you’re stressed out trying to be perfect, maybe it’s time to drop it for awhile. One thing the pandemic taught me is that I don’t have to do everything. In fact, most people won’t even notice if I don’t do everything. Or if a couple of things drop off my to-do list. Or if my to-do list gets dropped altogether! In fact, taking a vacation or a long siesta seem like better ideas that being a perfectionist.

 

 

 

Social Media and the Art of Reinvention

Recently I was watching a video by a New York City artist, Rajiv Surendra. You may have seen Rajiv in his role in Mean Girls, but it turns out that Rajiv has so many other skills. If you’re thinking of branding or rebranding yourself, you definitely have to watch the YouTube video of his home tour. Google Tour Rajiv Surendra’s NYC Apartment Filled With Handmade Decor to experience it. Here are some of my takeaways and thoughts.

Focus on What You Love

Sure, everybody says focus on what you love. And those are easy words to say. But when you see those words in action they mean so much more. Rajiv Surendra has taken his focus to another level. I suspect that he doesn’t ever binge watch Netflix or own a television. But he does share his thoughts on social media–follow Rajiv Surendra on Instagram to see some of his amazing artwork.

Sometimes a Hobby Becomes a Profession

Maybe this has happened to you, too. Maybe you’ve been redoing chalkboards of major NYC restaurants and decided to turn that into a venture. Ok, I’m kidding, but you know what I mean! What if you went deeper into something you truly loved, so deep that time stopped–for a time–and you realized you were doing what you were meant to do your entire life? It could happen!

Curate Your Existence

If you thought someone was going to examine the details of your life and tour your apartment, would you live differently? Probably. Some people have been doing this on Instagram, curating what they see, what they eat, and how they live. If you haven’t already looked at friend Terri Nakamura’s Instagram, check out what she’s doing over there because it’s fascinating. Hint: Terri is using Instagram as a blogging platform–and writing a book about it!

Worship Marie Kondo Like a Goddess

Another what if: What if you gave away everything that didn’t bring you joy? How would your life and your work look? As Rajiv says he worships Marie Kondo and has taken Marie Kondo’s minimalism to another level so that all his clothes (which are gorgeous and meaningful) all fit into one tiny closet. Another tiny closet fits all his art supplies, including chalk, paint, and easels. If you love Marie Kondo, you might like organizing your social media so you can have a better life.

Let Joy Guide You

Could there be anyone more self-actualized than Rajiv? I don’t think so. And he seems so full of joy. What if joy and having fun could lead you to your life’s work? Recently I wrote about playing more and here it is if you missed it: When You Play More Your Creativity Blooms. Many of us have found joy, even amidst the pandemic. We’ve all been baking banana bread, meeting neighbors, and upgrading our homes.

What to Do If You’re Way Too Busy

You’re always running around, fixing this, changing that, keeping everything together. But when does too busy become toxic? One thing I’ve learned from the Pandemic is that I don’t have to get everything done. The earth will continue spinning on its axis, and everything will be pretty much the same the next day. However, if you’re really stuck, here are a few ideas.

Delegate!

Get some of those to-do items off that list by hiring someone else to do them. Or get a friend to do them in exchange for a chocolate cake, which might be your favorite thing to bake. However you do it, get someone else to help. You don’t have to do everything, even if there’s a YouTube video that shows you how. You might like 10 Best Ways to Manage Time on Social Media.

Just say no

Is there anything you could refuse to do? Just take a big black marker and cross it off your list altogether? I’m betting there is. So if you’re doing something out of obligation, stop it! No more silly baby showers for people you barely know.

Procrastinate

Sometimes if you wait long enough to do something, someone else will take care of it for you. I’m thinking of my one friend who doesn’t take in her recycling bins and her neighbors do it for her. She’s probably not doing it on purpose, but any way, that’s how it is. By the way, if you’re trying to avoid something, you might like Seven Myths about Procrastination. And also: managed delay does sound a lot cooler than procrastination, doesn’t it?

Be Lazy

This might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes you just need to be lazy. Stay in bed a little longer, spend more time dawdling, and use your cat as a mentor. What does your cat do when there’s too much going on? He takes a nap! And what does your cat do to recover from the stress of a nap? Takes another nap! You get the idea.

Stop saying you’re too busy

You know what? You’re not too busy. We’ve all been glorifying the Cult of Busy(tm) to the point where it’s become a mantra we all say. You’ve got time to watch 10 million episodes of Grey’s Anatomy! Oh, wait. That’s me. Anyway, none of us are too busy. We just choose to focus on that. As Kimberly Roush says in Are You Too Busy to Be Less Busy? on Forbes “Busy has become a way of life.”


Busy Much?

If you love saying you’re too busy, maybe practice saying you’re not busy. Watch the strange looks your friends give you. And listen to what they say. Perhaps their next question will be Are you retired? One day you’ll be able to say yes!

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.

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