Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is your blog missing these 2 critical personal branding features?

branding iron 3Image by robalicious via FlickrBlogging has become ubiquitous. Sites like & make it easy for anyone to start blogging. And there's no shortage of pros telling you how to do it better.

But before you embark on a journey of self-education, you'll want to fix two things that many bloggers get horribly, terribly wrong. Two simple things. Two simple things that you've overlooked for a long time. You can thank me later.

Pull your blog up in a fresh browser window or tab. DO NOT follow any links. Just sit there... and look at it. Hopefully with fresh eyes.

Forget who you are. Forget what you are trying to achieve. Forget the template you have (or have not) customized to your liking.

Just look for these two things:

  1. What is the name of the person writing this blog? Your first name isn't sufficient, unless you happen to be named Madonna. I want your name. Your full name that you are branding. Don't make me guess. Don't try and be cute and/or aloof. Your name, please.

  2. Is there an obvious contact method? And no, listing out the 19 different social media sites you frequent doesn't count. I'm talking about normal ways people thing to contact other people. Email. Phone. These items need not be front and center, but an obvious path to these items must be visible.

Do you have these two things, these two very simple and painfully obvious things, "above the fold" (visible without scrolling) on your blog? If not, then you're not ready for the "advanced" lessons you'll find in all the other tips. Get those two critical elements on your blog. Now. It is the single most important personal branding thing you can do for your blog today.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Asperger's for the social networking crowd?

quito street preacherImage by august allen via FlickrTime for me to make up a new word:

Sociatize (soh-shit-IZE): verb, transitive. The act of converting any event into a social networking opportunity.

Let's say you found out members of your book club were going to a movie you didn't want to see. You wouldn't go along with them, sitting and reading your book in the corner with a flashlight, right?

Let's say you found out that members of your knitting circle were going out to eat sushi. You're not a fan of sushi, but you wouldn't show up at the restaurant and knit while others were eating.

Let's say a drinking buddy of yours goes to church every Sunday. You would never show up at his church and offer him a beer.

Commonly accepted rules of human interaction dictate that you not behave in the above manners. You're at the movies. Watch the movie. You're at a restaurant. Eat. You're at church. Don't drink. Sure, you can hang out and chat while you are there (well, not so much at the movies or church, but you get the idea), but you primary function at the event is to participate in the event.

Some social networking enthusiasts forget this.

There are plenty of events for SM people to be very social. To be very chatty. #evfn is an event like this. The primary purpose is to hang out with people and talk. That's it. Oh, and to have a drink or two if you are so inclined. There are legions of events like these. I love to attend them.

But I also like to attend non-social networking events. And if my social networking friends are also in attendance, I'd like them to be participating in the event, too. Watch the event. Listen to the event. Be in the moment of the event. Resist the temptation to sociatize the event. And if the event isn't your cup of tea; don't go. Missing one more chance to interact with your social media circle isn't going to harm anyone. Better yet, it gives you one more thing to ask us about when you see us at the next social event.

I'm off to make up more words. You sit there and wonder if I'm talking about you. Don't make me get the duct tape.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

The fine line between false praise and encouragement

one. ugly. monkey.Image by berbercarpet via FlickrThere exists a fine line between false praise and encouragement.

Encouragement is necessary. It provides a positive support while someone is either exploring their creativity of improving their craft. No one is instantly good at anything, so we all naturally go through a development process in anything that we do.

But unlike encouragement, false praise halts development. It incorrectly leads people to believe that they are at the top of their game, and that no further improvements are necessary.

I see this happen all to often in the new media sphere. It's as if some special pass is given. Some bar has been lowered. A general understanding that is simply can't be as good as "traditional" media. And since it can't, then we should have our own devalued sense of quality.

To speak frankly for a moment: fuck that.

I don't think new media has anything to prove to anyone. I think there is plenty of room for huge variations in quality. And I fully understand that we're often examining qualitative aspects. And yes, there is plenty of low quality stuff on the radio, TV, movies, theaters and more. New media shouldn't strive to be traditional media.

In fact, we need to lose those labels for moment. Let's talk about media. And let's use the same scales.

Was the last podcast you were on "one of the finest you've ever been on", or was it simply good? Was that last free book you listened to "better than anything I can buy at the store", or just a good yarn? Was there nothing worthy of fixing? Did they nail it on all points? And are you being honest?

I hereby dub 2009 The Year of Honest Criticism. Wanna join me? Note that this doesn't mean I'll be trashing everything I dislike. I'm not that big of a new media douchebag. But will be giving honest feedback when it's asked for, and I'll moderate my own enthusiasm for things, relying less on superlatives and hyperbole. Reality. Whoa.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

In praise of shortness

the shortness #2Image by noneck via FlickrThere's something to be said for a short show. My podcast listening enjoyment has increased 10 fold by:

All short. All concise. All worthy additions to your podcast playlist. What short shows (less than 10 minutes) do you recommend?

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Why wait for a conference?

Evo and The New Media InterchangeImage by sheiladeeisme via FlickrNew Media unshackles the notion of a broadcast schedule. Traditional media is waking up to this fact (hello, Hulu). Audiences have been there for a while (hello, TiVo). Conferences and conventions are getting into the act, albeit from their tech-savvy attendees (hello, uStream).

So what am I waiting for?

On the plane back from NAR2008, I sketched out an outline for 5 MORE Reasons Your Podcast SUCKS, and 5 Reasons You Suck on Twitter. My first two talks in this vein (Podcast & iTunes suckage) met with rave reviews when I presented them at Podcamp AZ. I just need a venue to give the talks.

But I already have one. I don't need to wait for a "live" event, attract 100 or so folks to show up at a specific time and place, and hope someone catches it on video. I can produce the talks as new media files and use the Four Corners of New Media (I'll define that in a future presentation/post) to give even more people a chance to see it.

(Of course, I'll not turn down a live speaking invitation. If you're looking for a dynamic speaker, give me a call!)

I am cognizant of diminishing value. You should be, too. That's why when I give a live talk, I try my best to make it interactive. Interactivity is difficult to do with new media. At least, it's not as seamless and efficient as it is when you are live with a crowd. And I think that's the key difference. Yes, you may contract with me to come speak at your event. Yes, there may be an archived media file of me speaking on that topic right on my website, if not all over the webbernets. And yes, you could project said media file up on the Jumbo-Tron rather than fly me in. But people could only shout questions at the screen... and I doubt they'd get a response.

Props to Podcasting News for posting the article that got me thinking about this. It looks like I have some work to do.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Want the secret to social media success?

People want social media to be an easy fix. Companies look at social media as an immediate replacement for lots of other things they are doing, and they expect it to "just work" out of the box.

That's not the way the game is played, kids.

Take it from Scott Sigler, arguably one of the most popular and successful users of social media. He's used variations on a theme to break through several barriers and is still going strong. Is he making a full-time living on social media? No. Is he making a full-time living because of social media? Yes. Yes he his.

Want to copy his success? OK. But consider what it really means to "copy" him.

What I’ve found is that [working your tail off with social media] is not something that most authors [or anyone wanting to catch the social media wave] do. ... I reply to absolutely everything. Everything gets responded to; every instant message, every email, every tweet, everything. And that, combined with the social networking sites, makes such a strong connection with the readers. They really feel like someone actually took five minutes just to reply to them, and even if they only email once, it’s totally locking in fans for life.

Bingo. There's the secret. Like most, it's not complicated. It only takes commitment. Do you have it? If not, plan on falling short of the mark. Regardless of how well-planned your social media strategy may be, in the end you have to respond. To everything.

Excerpt taken from Podcasting News interview with Scott that seems to have happened some time ago, but only now has been published

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Taking value away from users to try to force a specific action is almost always going to be less desirable than providing people what they want.

Here's a little secret: statistically speaking, no one cares about what you have to offer, show or say. But rather than have me beat you over the head with that statement of fact, I'll let Loren Feldman tell you in this video.

In fact, the collective "they" care so little, "they" aren't even going to bother putting forth the effort to steal your content. Tim O'Reilly told us that in 2002. And while a goodly number of creative people finally took that message to heart in recent years, the vast majority of people are still spending to much time protecting what is rightfully theirs -- when (statistically) nobody cares.

Today this issue came to a head for me (again) in the guise of the full-text vs partial feed debate, so I sent over this classic comment as a stand-in for my arguments. Podcasters who bitch about feed-hijacking are singing the same tune. Funny how the issue of media-serving ownership doesn't seem to bother video producers. And people wonder why YouTube is more popular than any podcast directory. Go figure.

Here's the bottom line: If you are a creative person, you should be primarily concerned with people being able to consume your product. Worrying over how it is consumed or what might happen to it after it is consumed is a clear case of chicken-before-the-egg. Get it out there. Make it easy to find and enjoy. If not... well then you're as crazy as my cousin in Iowa with an irrational and all-consuming fear of sharks. Guess how often I take her call?

The title -- and inspiration -- for this post came from an article on Techdirt last year. Worth the read as it's applicable to much more than the issue of the proper contents of an RSS feed.