Posted by: ginalazenby | November 10, 2008

Power of blogging & twittering

I just spent a very interesting morning with ecademy founder Thomas Power. I accepted his invitation for a free seminar on how to get the most out of your web networking presence. What I learned has really empowered me in my business and I now understand and appreciate the power of blogging and its greater importance over a website.   Let me share the highlights for you as recapping helps me remember and it is good to spread the word:

1) The web has been through three phases: phase ONE from 1994 was about Search, how to Find Me and my website; phase TWO  from around 2002 was about Join Me on Facebook or whatever social networks I was signing up for and be part of my Group; while now, phase THREE is emerging as the era of Follow Me. This is the time when we ourselves become the brand. Thomas called it ‘Individual capitalism’ where it is all about communicating our own identity, sharing what we stand for and then attracting a following of like-minded or interested folk.
2) So the current phase of the internet is what Thomas refers to as ‘the management of fan clubs’, however large or small they are. We have to learn how to keep up to date with our web presence so we can communicate effectively with a growing group of friends, contacts, customers, suppliers and potential business partners. Based on the idea that most business is done with people we know, or those people to whom we are referred by our circle of trust. Managing those relationships is key to our business success and whilst people are beginning to master how to do that through networking organisations like BNI which have regular physical meetings, it’s a different ball game on the internet where many people are creating virtual marketplaces to connect, refer and actually do business. So think of everyone you know and have known and keep in touch; tell them what you are up to. Simple as that.
3) Most people don’t recognise that the idea of a ‘fan club’ exists much less knowing how to manage it.  There are tools to help and it pays to invest time in learning what’s out there and what you can use. I now have a Twitter account. This was recommended to me in June by a friend in the USA whose son was keeping in contact with his business fan club of about 1000 people with hourly updates. Josh Spear is what’s known as a cool hunter and apparently, there are a lot of people who are interested in hearing what he thinks about …. everything. He’s paid by large companies to give comment on a younger person’s perspective. What do they like, what do they think is cool?  I didn’t quite get my head around issuing a running commentary about what I am experiencing hour to hour and what I feel about it BUT Thomas talked about this as a powerful business tool and not just a gimmicky fad with young kids. Facebook may have started as a younger person’s global social club but many businesses now have a presence there and use it as part of their marketing. The Internet and sites like Facebook were a key platform for Barak Obama to communicate with his supporters and for them to rally further support across the USA, and the world.  Check out Obama’s Twitter account. How great is that, you can follow the President-Elect of the USA and join 174,000 other people in doing so!
So follow me on Twitter …..
4) All brands have followings. We buy what we know, like and trust and that also applies to people as well as products.  There’s an art to communicating who you are. Gone are the days when you had your professional persona and then there was the private you with the family life and the hobbies. Now, every aspect of you, except your innermost private life, is potentially available for all to see. Many professionals now share their favourite music and movie lists, their family holiday photos, and personal philosophies all over the web. We get to see who people really are beyond their roles. Go on Obama’s webiste and hear Michelle talk about when she first met Barak as a Community Organiser and fell in love with him when she saw this extraordinary man in action connecting with real, local people. I am not sharing private secrets I have unearthed – you can watch the videos or yourself on his website. He is showing us who he is as a man in all facets of his life. No matter from which angle you look you see the real, authentic man who has a passion for social justice and a commitment to bring change to the world. What are you passionate about? What do you want to share with others that will give your circle of contacts a greater sense of who you really are?  You have a wonderful opportunity now to connect and engage with people and show your authentic self and that’s pretty compelling. It’s a new way of doing business. We all have to be the real deal, walk the talk of whatever it is we espouse. It’s not about getting the image right.  It’s about knowing the truth of ourselves and what we do so that whenever we are communicating with anyone, anywhere, our messages are consistent, authentic and reflect us. There’s nowhere to hide anymore. People have finely-tuned radar for things which don’t feel right.

5) Social networks, blogs and tools like Twitter allow us to be in frequent communication with groups of people (our following) and in effect be the leader of whatever revolution we want. You simply have to share what you stand for, what you are passionate about and then see who shows up to hear. And don’t forget everything is going mobile.  You have in your hand not simply a means to phone home or stay in contact with the office but a tool with which to broadcast anything and everything to the whole world at any moment in time. Check out the way the international news services like CNN and BBC will broadcast first-hand reports from the public filming hurricane damage on the spot with the phones!  Think about what you want to be a champion for and what you want share about that to the people you know.

6) For us oldies over 35, what we do seems to be more important but for 18-24 year olds (the next generation of business leaders and movers & shakers), who you are is the key decider in whether they connect and ‘buy’ you.
We have to learn the knack of communicating this and it does start with a good photo. A decent head shot in good lighting showing you in a situation that is appropriate and consistent with your brand.  Is a photo of you snowboarding the correct positioning for who you are? You can’t go wrong with a bright smile and an engaging connection with the camera. Avoid scary passport shots and group pictures. And do put a photo in there rather than leaving it blank which is like being at home waiting for callers but not having a doorbell.

7) This is a numbers game and apparently the algorythm is: you can expect one referral for each 50 contacts you have. Ecademy have 500,000 visitors a month and the people who are likely to benefit most from that traffic are Black Star members with thousands of people in their networks. There’s only 500 of them so they represent .1% of the ecademy population and really know how to leverage network connections and online presence. Watch and learn.

8) Treat social networks like magazines. Your profile is an advert in the community ‘editorial’. Choose the audience you want to connect with and broadcast to, then start  building contacts and blogging. Share interesting thoughts, opinions, insights and comments. Do what I am doing here and spread what you think is useful and interesting information that has some value. And keep your Status reports up to date. This flags you up in the system as active, interesting and engaged. People will notice you, they might connect and who knows, they might even start following you.

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