What Story Do You Need to Tell?

What story do you need to tell?

What story do you need to tell?

Everyone has a story to tell. And your business or brand has a story to tell, too. You might already be telling it through the social media posts you decide to share, through the organizations you support, and through the articles you write or comment upon.

Why Do We Crave Stories?

Storytelling makes time stand still. When we hear a story, the outside world goes away during the time we are listening to that story. We want characters with positive attributes, and we want to know what happens to them. We want to care about them and we want to know what happens next.


Every Business Has a Story

How was your business born? Did you always know what you’d do in your business life? How did you decide to do what you do now? There are probably quite a few stories intertwined in the making of your business. My business began when I started doing social media for myself, and then friends started to ask for help. One of them suggested that I do social media as a business, and I started to get some training. How did your business begin?

Buying is Emotional

Whether you’re selling a widget or a service, people buy on emotion, then justify with data. Most of us make our minds up very quickly. So having a story helps people who might otherwise be on the fence make up their minds. For instance, if I know that the local supermarket also supports a cause that is important to me, I’d be much more likely to go there.



These days, many brands have decided to be left- or right-leaning, often with catastrophic results. The on-demand car ride service Uber, for instance, has gone to the right. In response Lyft, the other big on-demand car ride service, has gone to the left. The Uber boycott and subsequent donation by Lyft to the ACLU has people squarely on one side or the other. So far, Lyft’s move has resulted in more downloads of their app than ever before.

Telling Stories About Clients

During #digiblogchat, my weekly Twitter chat, @ChrisLema (follow him on Twitter, by the way!) put an emphasis on focusing on others. “The hero isn’t you,” he says, and I concur. Let potential clients know what they can expect working with you! A happy client story is worth his weight in gold.

Have a Happy Client Story?

Do your happy clients have positive stories to tell about your business? What do they say about your brand? Leave me a comment! Thank you.


What’s in a Name: Before You Begin Tweeting

What's in a Name: Before You Begin Tweeting

What’s in a Name: Before You Begin Tweeting

Choose a Name

If you’re tweeting for a business, your Twitter name should reflect your business’ identity. If your brand is already well-known, you may not need to name the type of business you’re in. For instance, @WellsFargo does not include the word “bank,” since most are familiar with this business. By the way, you might like to read my post about rebranding for startups.

Shorter is Better

On Twitter, you only have 140 characters—the length of a text message—for a tweet, so if your name takes up 20 characters, that only leaves you with 120 characters. So while a name like, say, @PotatoShapedLikeTheStateofFlorida, is funny, it will use up a lot of your real estate on each and every tweet. You might want a long name (especially if you’re running low on potato jokes or your potato jokes tend to be short), but most people tend to run out of space first. It’s just something to keep in mind. Some say that 110 characters is even better, since there’s more room for retweeting.

Keep Your Twitter Name Professional

Keep Your Twitter Name Professional

Keep it Professional

While @PlumbersofDoom is a great and funny name, do you want your followers on Twitter to associate you with doom? Maybe not. But if your username isn’t available, consider adding a location, or maybe an abbreviation of the location. For example, @PlumberPhx could work for a plumber located in Phoenix, Arizona. Or maybe you have a specialty, such as repiping, that you could incorporate. @RepipeSunnyvale could be such a name.

Use an Underline

Keep in mind that you might be able to use an underline or two between your first and last name, or even an underline after your name, if you really love a particular name. So if @PlumberPhx isn’t available, check to see if @Plumber_Phx or @PlumberPhx_ are available.

Names to Avoid

Avoid using names that make you sound like a porn star (unless you are a porn star). For example, @LoveBunnyXXX might not get you the kind of followers you really want. A name that makes you sound like a spammer or a bot* should also be avoided. For example, names like @SpamBotfly @AllSPAMALLTHETIME might also not be the best for your business. Here are some ways to identify spammers, by the way.

Get Real

Make sure that what you tweet about matches your name. So if your name is @PlumberLax, but all you tweet about is cookies, consider changing your name to @CookiesLax, or at least adding a few words about your love of cookies to your profile—or maybe creating a second account to write about your passion for Snickerdoodles.
Twitter Has Changed Since 2012

Twitter Has Changed Since 2012


What If I Can’t Come up With a Name?

If you really can’t think of a name, bribe some of your friends with beer and chips and have a naming party! Sometimes all that’s needed to develop a good name is to get started brainstorming. The worst-case scenario is you’ll think of 100 things NOT to name your business.
Note: You can easily change your name later with Twitter (unlike on Facebook).
Bottom Line? Take a little time to make sure that your name reflects you or your business.


Twitter Has Changed

This post was first published in 2012. Twitter has changed over the years. Here’s a great article, Finding a Better Twitter Experience in 2015. How have you changed how you use Twitter? Does your name still suit you?

Dialed In: Navigate Your Brand Identity through a Storm of Competition

Dialed In: Navigate Your Brand Identity Through a Storm of Competition

Dialed In: Navigate Your Brand Identity Through a Storm of Competition

Understanding who your audience–and isn’t–is critical for many reasons, but I’m going to focus on your being able to start blogging and using social media. Until you know who you are, you and your brand will be flailing to try to determine who your product or service will appeal to. Every day on all platforms, there are startups and brands who have the “shotgun” approach, who say that “everyone” is their target market. And we’ve all heard that “if everyone is your target market, then no one is” thought before. So where to start?

Simple Survey

Use something like Survey Monkey to ask your already-existing clients or friends what they think of your brand. A short survey of 3-4 questions (perhaps with a reward for finishing) could be very useful. For instance, “What one idea comes to mind when you think of our company?”

You might also want to ask your employees what they would change about the company, as Matthew Evins suggests in his excellent article Before Rebranding: Five Questions to Gauge Your Brand Health. As he says, simply asking the question raises morale. And who wouldn’t want to work somewhere with high morale? Of course if you’d rather have a demoralizing environment, you could read Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees.

Brand Identity and the 360 Review

Brand Identity and the 360 Review

360 Interview

For the more serious, Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You and a marketing strategy consultant, suggests the Personal 360 Interview, where you ask key people who work with you to provide anonymous feedback. You could provide a list of traits that people circle, such as “creative,” “generous,” etc. as one of the questions.

For a comprehensive list of why to conduct a 360 Review, here is a fab Guide to 360 Reviews. This guide is meant for an individual, but could be applied to an organization as well.

The Best-Laid Plans

Like a person, a business is an organic, living thing, and changes from time to time. The goals and resolutions you had as a 12-year-old kid won’t be the same resolutions you have as an adult. Why would a business be any different? Speaking of resolutions, here are my latest post, resolutions for social media.

Brand Identity and Authenticity

Brand Identity and Authenticity

Authenticity in Words and Actions

Once you have a clear idea of what your brand is, creating the target audience for your brand should be much simpler. That means that the words you use in tweets, posts, and blogging should be consistent. Having a list of words to pull from, as well as those you won’t use, can be enormously helpful. Even if your brand consists of you (if you are the brand), you need to figure out who you are. Maria Brophy has a post about saying who you are in 5 words.


Are you the same person online as offline? Do your actions match the attributes you want your brand to have? For instance, if one of your attributes is generosity, is your brand consistently being generous day in and day out? If you say you are about integrity, does everyone who work for you have it? You certainly don’t want your brand to be thought of as ironic.

Questions for the Small Brand

If you head up a small company, spending a day or two once a year to discover or rediscover who your audience is can be enormously useful. For example, is your product or service expensive? What kind of person buys your product? Is your target customer local or can they be located anywhere? Is there a target age or range to your ideal client? You may not know who your target market is quite yet, but over time you’ll start to see patterns emerge. Reviewing questions like these once a year can help you become more focused on your social media and blogging so that your tweets, posts, and pins reflect something appealing to your target audience.

Choose Another Company to Model

Some small brands like to choose a slightly larger company to model themselves after. Often I’ll hear “make our Pinterest look like their Pinterest” or “we like the tweets from ABC company.”

When you have that target audience narrowed down, you can hand that list of attributes to your social media manager.

Discover Pinterest: Behind The Scenes


Recently, I had the chance to attend Pinterest’s first tech meetup launch and talk hosted at Pinterest HQ, Discover Pinterest. While I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, I was excited to peer inside their headquarters and to possibly hear about upcoming features.

At Headquarters, I was surprised to see how many of the participants were men. There were hardly any women in the crowd. I met one of Pinterest’s technical recruiters, and asked him about the men:women ratio. He shook his head and said they’re “working on it,” and that many of the interns were women, which didn’t sound that equitable to me.


Outside Pinterest Headquarters

Outside Pinterest Headquarters

Unsurprisingly, everything at Pinterest is branded with the red-and-white Pinterest logo, from the sidewalk signboard welcoming people to the pillows on the sofas, with a homemade, DIY feel that is part cozy homespun and part nerdy SOMA. This article from Fast Company says “the handmade feel to Pinterest’s offices is actually the expression of something deeper…a core value that is likely key to the company’s success.” At any rate, I love that their HQ decor echoes what you see on many Pinterest boards.

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon

On to the presentations. Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com explained how old-world constraints no longer apply. And how a system like Netflix must be able to withstand a single failure without the entire system going down. Several nerdy guys whispered to me that they were here to hear Vogels, and that he’s “kind of a superstar.”

Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s Head of Engineering, explained how pinners  (Pinterest users) repin and add context to a pin through their own experiences. Each pinner’s experience creates a unique context.

Lopp asked how many pinners were in the room; only about three hands went up–mine included. If there had been more pinners, would he need to explain about context? I don’t think so! Helloooo, Pinterest–how about hiring some more women? (Ahem. I am available.)


Pinterest Logo Made of Rubik's Cubes

Pinterest Logo Made of Rubik’s Cubes

This Pinterest logo is made entirely out of Rubik’s cubes. Cool.

Besides the awesome DIY decor, the food was great (including the wine and beer bar–thank you, Pinterest), the people super friendly, and we got to know a little more about the people behind the brand.

By the way, if you’d like to hear some the top ten Pinterest tips (for both newbies and more advanced pinners), here they are.


Discover Pinterest: Behind The Scenes





Rebranding for Startups

Rebranding for Startups

Rebranding for Startups

You might have read about some of the issues that can affect startups. As a social media manager, rebranding will probably affect you more than any other issue. Suddenly, your team has decided to rebrand. Where does that leave you?

Different Messaging

If you think of your brand as a cake, then your social media platforms are your ingredients. Every image on Pinterest, every tweet on Twitter, and every Facebook post are affected by your branding. As the social media manager, you are the baker who now has to create a new recipe. So where do you start? What questions should your team be asking?

Meet with the Branding People

Ask those responsible for the rebranding to give you a few words that will represent the new brand. To continue with the cake analogy, what was once chocolate may now be lemon chiffon. Your old words were “thick,” “fudgy,” and “goodness.” Your new words are “light,” “fluffy,” and “luxurious.” Each new ingredient in your cake will have to match those words.

Work Closely with the Branding Team

Rebranding Changes Can Be Far-Reaching

Rebranding Changes Can Be Far-Reaching

As the baker of this new creation of lemony goodness, your job is to work closely with the branding team. If you don’t, your consumers will go elsewhere for their baked edibles. Your kitchen will get a bad rep.

When your brand was Cutesy Wootsy’s Handcrafted Cakey Beauties you’d say things like “Hewwo! A widdle birdie sat on my shoulder and sang me a widdle dittie, which inspired this cutesy-wootsy wecipe for a magical gumdrop babycakes.” After the rebranding to Duchess Throckmorton von Chandelier’s Exquisite Pastries for the Discerning Palate, that sentence might read, “Good Evening mesdames et messieurs, your humble servant requests the pleasure of your company at the unveiling of a sugar-infused feast for the senses. Kindly collect in the anteroom anon, for a tasting.” Hopefully, these examples were not too subtle.

Changes Can Be Far-Reaching

Now that you know how much work you have ahead of you, you’re going to need some of Duchess von Chandelier’s lemony chiffon cake, for real. You might be surprised at the sheer complexity and number of elements involved in all your social media platforms. For instance, does the Facebook page banner match the new brand? What about the background on your Twitter page? What happens to all your followers when there’s a sudden change? How or when will you announce the change? How will you migrate? How will you know if your rebranding has been successful?

What Rebranding Have You Had to Do?

Have you been on a startup team that had to rebrand? What advice would you have for others?


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