Adding Tabasco to your social media presence

The world is full of ordinary people. Boring, average, run of the mill folks who are as bland as white rice. You know the kind. They blend in, do what everyone else does, and, therefore, are destined to lead lives of mediocrity. The winners in the social media space know that to succeed online, they need to stand out, think differently, and take actions that make people take notice. The folks who go furthest push aside the salt substitute and go for the Tabasco sauce!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Dougherty on Twitter. (Despite the fact that Jim says we're old friends, that's really not the case. I recently called him a new friend in a tweet and he politely corrected me, reminding me that we connected on Twitter weeks ago!) In any case, imagine my surprise when Jim sent me a tweet this week with a link to the video below:

I sifted through Jim's Keek videos and it looks as though he's been doing a few dozen of these Follow Friday videos each week, for the last several weeks. Each one about :20 to :30 in length. In some, Jim tells the recipient why he enjoys following them on Twitter; in others he shares his reasons for recommending the person. Here's another video Jim created; this one about Peruvian blogger Samantha Luy.

Jim is investing a modest amount of time, yet doing something to really set himself apart from the crowd. Jim is adding Tabasco to his white rice and creating something deliciously wonderful!

Do you settle for the ordinary? Is your virtual spice rack full of empty bottles? Or, are you making the most of your efforts by bringing the hot sauce?

Interacting with porn in the social media space

You may like pornography (I'm not here to judge), but would you "like" pornography in a Facebook kind of way? Would you publicly like an XXX page, comment on the content, and give thumbs up to the posts?

When I take my dogs for a walk, I sometimes pass a gay porn video shop. In front of the mirrored windows that block out the inside of the store, there's always a sandwich board on the sidewalk with specials. Recently, they've added "Like us on Facebook!" to the board.

Now, I'm going to be honest. I've never seen an X-rated movie. It's not my thing. But, even if I did watch porn, I would never advertise the fact. I can just see it in my friend's Facebook streams, "Amber just liked Spanky's Adult Video Palace".  And, heaven forbid a future employer checked out my Facebook likes!

Is this era of social media when we all willingly sacrifice our privacy, is it no big deal for people to put it all out there? The good, the bad, and the ugly? Would YOU "like" a pornography-related page on Facebook?

Does greed make people mislead?

We see it all the time. Bait and switch techniques abound. A lie here, a half-truth there. Get people now no matter how you have to do it. The only problem is, what happens when they realize they've been misled?

Last night I rented a horrible move, A Fool and his Money. As you can see from the photo on the right it's a Sandra Bullock film. Yeah, right. That's just what the greedy SOBs who pimp the film want you to think. Sadly, after wasting two hours on the flick, I Googled it and realized it was originally released in 1988, but re-released in 1995 after Bullock achieved fame in Speed. Some wiseguy decided to capitalize on her popularity and showcase her prominently on the DVD cover, despite the fact that Bullock appears in the film for no more than four minutes combined. A Sandra Bullock film? Not a chance.

I'm sure you've seen misleading practices before. We all have, sadly. But do they win the race in the long run? Sooner or later, people always find out that you've misled them. Is the short term gain worth the long term alienation? I'd say no, but lots of folks say yes.

That yes usually comes from greed. More money, more customers, more subscribers, more readers, more impressions, more sales, more traffic, more, more, more. But, after the truth comes out, after everyone finds out they've been misled, the damage is irreparable. Is a white lie still a lie? Is a half truth still 50% fact? Why gamble with your reputation when that's really what defines you in the end?

The next time you push anything out into the public, do a reality check. Is this an honest and fair assessment of what people can expect? Does your webinar address the content that you said it would? Is your brochure copy true? Does your store actually carry the products advertised in your sales circular? Will your product deliver on the promises you've made?

Misleading folks only leads to short term gains. Aren't we all in this for the long haul?

Are Twitter's elite making reciprocity uncool?

The one thing I really enjoy about social media is the elevated sense of etiquette. People share, support, thank, and make meaningful connections on the site. Generally, folks have a wonderful sense of reciprocity. Follow them, they'll follow you back. Share a link of theirs, they'll share one back or say thanks. Good manners abound on Twitter (at least in my stream). That's why I'm saddened to see the latest trend gaining momentum: unfollowing.

It started with Chris Brogan, then Darren Rowse followed suit. Both said it was in an effort to help clean up their Twitter streams and DMs. Now, plenty of ordinary people are saying, "If the big guys are doing it, I'm going to do it, too!". I'm seeing mass purges everywhere. I'm disappointed that some of social media's most influential names would legitimize this sleazy practice. Perhaps their reasons made sense to them, but they've set a trend that is contrary to the philosophy of social media and the idea of community building.

Here's the reality. Most people who have a large number of followers built their numbers on reciprocity. They connected with someone and that person followed them back, or vice versa. Those numbers were built on a mutual connection (let's face it, only "real" celebrities can get tens of thousands of followers from scratch and only follow back a handful of people). Now, much to my dismay, it's the hip thing to say your Twitter follows are unmanageable, your DMs are being hijacked, and you can't focus on anything in your stream. You simply must unfollow everyone so you can start over with a clean slate. Know what I say to that? Hogwash.

It's no secret that I despise those who work the numbers to artificially inflate their followings. I have 5,000 followers, yet could have far more if I followed back every bot and spammer. But, I don't (I firmly believe in quality over quantity). Instead, I look at each and every Twitter profile and decide whether or not to follow back. If the person doesn't break one of my 12 Twitter rules, I'll give a followback. As such, I don't get any spam. Ever.

Today I saw a post by Daniel Newman that talks about the purging practice and the rationale behind it, going as far as to say "Don't pee on me and tell me it's raining." He does a great job of outlining the ways that anyone could combat the problems that people are citing as reasons to unfollow. Danny Brown also has a post on the subject. He shares a "leaked" email that implies the mass unfollows were to get attention. Although quite amusing, this was never my theory. However, I'm glad Danny called out the the unfollowing practice, too.

I still think Chris and Darren are smart people. If you read my blog regularly, you know I've raved about how much I love Chris. Darren is a darn great guy, too. However, it's kind of like when you learn that Santa Claus is really your mom and dad. Don't preach about community and then tell me unfollowing your community isn't anything personal. It may not be personal to you, and lots of people may kiss your backside saying you're a trailblazer, but I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid.

Big names in the social media space serve as role models; teaching by example. When they do something, they set a trend. Granted, everyone can do as they please and there are no official rules to any of this social media stuff. I get that. However, now those who work the system with mass follows and unfollows are no longer sleaze bags and charlatans. They can now conduct those shady practices knowing full well that they have the perfect defense: "If the social media gurus can unfollow everyone, why can't I?"

Turning "I can't" into "I can"

I have an elderly neighbor who likes to tell me "You can't". You can't fix that, you can't lift this, you can't solve that. For years, I've responded the same way. "I'm smarter than you think" or "I'm stronger than you realize". Every time she's said "You can't", I've quite handily conquered the challenge.

However, if there came a time when she said "You can't" and I actually had a problem doing whatever it was, I would find a way to do it. I'm determined and pride myself on finding solutions. I'd find a way if only because she said I couldn't.

Cheerleaders in our lives are important. People who support us, give us compliments, and inflate our egos. However, naysayers can be just as motivating. The desire to prove someone wrong can be just as powerful as the desire to make someone proud.

If you think you can't, you're probably right. But, if someone else thinks you can't, release your inner Hulk and show that person what you're made of. Success is even sweeter when you accomplish what others thought impossible.

Now, go seize the day...

The pitfalls of cussing in the workplace

Profanity in the office is unprofessional. It's lowbrow and uncouth. Educated people shouldn't resort to foul language to communicate their unhappiness or frustration. There's a whole world of words out there that don't escalate arguments or take conversations in a volatile direction.

For the last six days straight, the web has been buzzing over the PR agency vice president who called a blogger an effing bee in an email (I've cleaned it up, but the guy used the real f word and b word). If you don't know the story, check it out on PR Daily, Gawker, or Business Insider. In short, his agency made a silly and untargeted pitch to the blogger, the blogger sent a snarky response, the agency rep said they'd steer advertising opportunities away from the site, and then the VP accidentally hit reply all and called the blogger an f***ing b***h (again, the asterisks are mine; he wrote the actual words). Needless to say, the blogger unleashed social media Armageddon on the company and the backlash against the agency has been mind blowing.

Industry publications have latched on to this story, calling out the veep and using the exchange as an example of how not to engage with bloggers. However, let's look at it another way. What if the guy hadn't cussed? Suppose he had said any one of the following things instead:

  • "My gosh! Her response was unpleasant and unnecessary!"
  • "Let's be sure to never pitch that woman again!"
  • "Wow. That was a little over the top."
  • "Onward and upward, troops. You can't win them all!"

Instead, he wrote, "What a f***ing b***h!"

These four little words have turned this guy's world upside down. He's deleted his Twitter account (probably to avoid hostile tweets) and been lambasted throughout the industry. If he had shown his displeasure with the woman and the situation without resorting to profanity, I honestly think this would have played out differently. There's just something about those two words in particular that can blow a disagreement into a full-fledged battle.

Am I being naive? Perhaps a little too wholesome?

Does cussing not matter in today's world?

The power of words

“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

I love the dictionary. The thesaurus is a close second. And, of course I have some great quote books. Words are a marvelous gift and vocabulary is so much darn fun! Nothing makes me more giddy than a well-written sentence or a clever retort. Yes, words are wonderful.

One of the most important things about words is the power they hold. They can inspire, belittle, motivate, or alienate. Well-chosen words can move you to make an unnecessary purchase or save for a rainy day. They can shape your mood so you feel good or bad. They can impact whether your business runs in the black or the red.

Words. Just 26 letters that, when put together in assorted ways, can start wars, create opportunities, break hearts, or change lives.

How much thought do you put into your word choice? Do you make the most of every letter, every syllable, every sentence? Do you waste your words? Miss opportunities? Or, do you embrace the power of each and every verbal or written communication? Every thing you say, type, or scribble brings with it the chance for success.

Are you using your words to make things better? To create happiness? To inspire positive change? If not, why?

*WORD NERD BONUS: If you like words as much as I do, you might have fun with this quiz. You have 12 minutes to guess the top 100 words in the English language. Click HERE to get started. Good luck!
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