What Do You Write? What Is Your Passion?

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“If I don’t dance one day, I notice it. If I don’t dance two days in a row, my audience notices it. If I don’t dance three days in a row, I should get another job.”

Famous dancer Fred Astaire lived by that motto. Now replace where you see dance with write. And by no means do I equate myself with Mr. Astaire’s singular achievements in his chosen profession, but that is something I have tried to live by. Writing something every day.

Problem is, of late, I’ve been writing for my clients but not me, or you.

I was in my favorite breakfast place this morning (Brothers Taverna, nicely spaced out seating and the breakfast arrives mad fast!!!). My waitress Tara asked if I was going to use my computer (they have WiFi) and when I said yes, she directed me to a corner booth. Then I opened my bag to find I had left my tablet at home.

But I told her that I do most of my work on the cell anyway. She asked what I did. I said social media. And then Tara asked the leading question:

Oh, what do you write?”

I started giving her a list of my clients but she said “no what do you write, what is your passion?” It was then and there that I realized that the recent, modest success I have had writing blogs, tweets and Facebook posts for clients had edged out my own writing. I hadn’t written anything here for quite awhile. Even though I was sticking to the motto of writing every day, I wasn’t writing for me, or for you. I wasn’t covering the news I wanted to share.

So Tara, I’m back in the saddle, so to speak, thanks and let’s see what the week ahead brings for topics.

Why Your Small Business Needs Blogs— And Me

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BlogsB2C companies which feature blogs on their websites generate 88% more leads per month than those that do not. This is according to HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Let that settle in. Businesses which generate blogs about interesting things (along with their services or products) generate 88% more leads per month than competitors that don’t.

Well-thought-out, well-written blogs work because storytelling is a powerful way to attract readers, share information, open the lines of communication to foster engagement, build understanding of potential customer needs and convert these followers into loyal brand ambassadors.

More people looking at your store shelves. More people walking into your restaurant or bar. More potential income.

When I saw that 88% statistic I had a flashback to this line from Independence Day:

10 Years Social(Copyright © 1996 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Over the years, I’ve worked in print & broadcast media. People do not buy newspapers for the ads. They buy for the news. People do not listen to radio for the ads. They listen for the music.

In other words, people seek out something that will emotionally engage them.

And I have been saying for years that people are not on social media for the ads. They are there to share and engage, because they want to be emotionally connected. Repeatedly telling them what special you have for today is a disconnect— they may come in, but they are just as likely not to come back. You may have made a sale, but you didn’t convert them into loyal customers and certainly not created an emotional connection to recruit them as ambassadors for your business.

Granted, you want to keep using Twitter as a way of driving people to your website and Facebook pages. Equally so, you need to keep pace with competitors in the Facebook auction space for ads.

But, once you have funneled prospects to your website, then what? A few seconds of looking at ads or a contest. Maybe you hook them, maybe you don’t.

Consider generating two or three blogs a week to balance out your Facebook and Twitter self promotions. Give followers a reason to check back to your website several times a week. Provide some insight on how you do something. Recall a funny incident. Promote a survey. Give some free tips. Comment about something going on in the community.

Convinced, but you don’t have the time to write blogs? You don’t have the editorial skills to cultivate content? That’s where writers (such as myself— full disclosure) can assist you. Prices being charged on various websites range from as little as $5 for a simple blog up to and beyond $1000 for a complex blog.

As a veteran community writer, I’m on the more affordable side of that price bar. If you’re interested let’s talk. Let me help you SHARE information, so you can ENGAGE your readers, UNDERSTAND their needs and CONVERT them into customers.

It’s not about you anymore. It’s about them.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Millennials Said They’d Rather Do What Than Call Your Customer Service Dept.?

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Millennials would rather get their teeth cleaned than call a customer service line.

So says Rachel Burger in her Customer Think.com article Don’t Talk, Chat: 4 Ways to Tailor Your Customer Service to Millennials. (CustomerThink is a “global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises.”)

There are 80 million millennials in America alone, with an estimated total $200 billion in annual buying power. Wouldn’t you like to know what they are saying about your small business?

Consider this a customer service wake-up call — or rather a non-call — as a recent survey by Kelton Global for Salesforce’s Desk.com also indicates that when millenials have a problem with your product or service, they WILL NOT call. Twitter, Facebook, and on-line chat are pathways they will use to contact you.

Salesforce’s Desk.com is a platform that helps companies organize their customer service channels.

Yes, there are channels. Not just a 1-800 number. Or your store line. Social media channels.

This is a follow-up to my last blog Company Social Media Response Times to Customers Are Unsocial. 

As further proof, Lauren Brousell, who writes for CIO website, refers to that Kelton survey in her article Millennials Skip Traditional Customer Service for Online Troubleshooting. (CIO serves Chief Information Officers other IT leaders).

Brousell reports “81 percent say they would contact brands through social channels. And again, the other generations are also getting in on the action; 63 percent of Gen X-ers and 44 percent of Boomers would use social media for customer service.”

man phone1I found this interesting; most people to date would want to walk through a technical problem with a live person. But if millenials will go to great lengths to avoid a live CSR on the phone for a tech question, why would they bother for a simpler question?

In Burger’s article she points out that in terms of using the phone “32 percent of millennials say that their biggest gripe with customer service is that they cannot reach a live person when they want to.” And that “Millennials prefer live chat because there are no hold times, it’s convenient, and it automatically provides a record of the conversation.”

That preference applies to conversations on Twitter, Facebook and on-line chat.

All this to say that whether your biz is a corporate monolith with fingers stretching across the globe or a single brick/mortar on Main Street USA, customers control how they want to express their needs & frustrations. You can’t force them to talk to you only on the phone and only during your customer service hours.

Again from Burger’s article “Research shows that 78 percent of millennials prefer to receive customer support on Facebook, 43 percent on Twitter, 25 percent on Instagram, and 13 percent on LinkedIn. ”

You might want to listen when they speak. But you better have your Facebook, Twitter and other customer service channels monitored regularly by staff or a social media strategist to hear them.

(Photo courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Reporter’s Notebook: Taking A Break to Say Thank You

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Graphic by Bukisa.com

If it works on Twitter, why not here. After all, good manners are universal. While I have thanked people who follow, RT, MT and favorite my twitter account, I have been negligent in thanking those who do the same for this blog. So….. Thank you:

  • Geraldine liked post “Reporter’s Notebook: Can You Spell Misspell?”
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(Graphic from Bukisa.com)

Reporter’s Notebook: Can You Spell Misspell?

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Off the top of your head… which are spelled correctly and which are not?

Misspellings1- seperate

2- definitely

3- calender

4- misspell

5- privlege

6- argument

7- consensus

8- pronounciation

9- accommodate

Maeve Maddox contributed some thoughts on these words to a recent Daily Writing Tips article:

For whatever reason – overconfidence or sloth – the same misspellings continue to appear in business emails, advertising copy, resumes, and on blog sites. The writer’s best defense is to take a good look at the most frequent misspellings and zero in on every letter in the word.”

In other words (pun intended), spell check may or may not catch these. But at least use it. (The correct spellings and tips are in Maeve’s blog). And then double check the copy.

I also suggest walking away from the blog and then coming back in few minutes at which point you should read it again; not so much word by word backwards as one commenter suggests but read it backwards paragraph by paragraph.

The blog won’t make as much sense, which means you will be paying more attention to the words rather than the topic.

Reporter’s Notebook: Why Men Watch Football

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What is it that excites men about football? What’s the big attraction? Why is it that some men will sit down for three, six, or even nine hours in front of a TV set when football is on, yet they won’t sit still for more than 15 minutes for anything else when they’re home?

Why MenThose are the questions posed by a former protege of mine, Bob Andelman, 20 years ago when he authored the book, Why Men Watch Football: A Report from the Couch. Now there is a 20th Anniversary edition, newly available in digital form. Good for you Bob.

He interviewed dozens of football fans, sportscasters, sports psychologists, psychiatrists and sociologists to get to the root of the question, why do men watch football? Among the reasons (or excuses):

  • Rites of passage
  • The hometown connection
  • Winning by association
  • Hero worship
  • The military connection
  • Acting out a primal instinct
  • The allure of numbers
  • An urge to gamble
  • The great escape

Bob, who has had a successful career as author and podcaster Mr. Media took the time to answer a couple of questions for me

Since you wrote the book 20 years ago what strikes you as the greatest change in why guys watch football?

Andelman: “Good question. I think that the dramatic increase in video quality — high def and even 3D television — has only heightened our connection to action happening hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The action is so real in HD, it really is like being there.”

Speaking of technology, where does social media fit in?

Andelman: “Similar to the rapid speed of HD, social media’s connection to football means instant community with fellow fans, whether we’re all checking in at the stadium on Foursquare or while watching on TV via GetGlue or Facebook. We can share our view of a bad call or a thrilling reception with a million strangers at the touch of a smartphone.”

Smart guy. He also did his homework on this project uncovering:

  • The fan who loved the Colts so much that he followed them from Baltimore to Indianapolis;
  • The Packers fan known as “The Brow”;
  • The Bucs fan who got so frustrated with the team’s losing ways he broke a Soloflex bench by pounding on it with nothing but his fists;
  • The Dolphins fan who postponed cancer surgery so as not to interfere with watching the team on TV;
  • The Giants fan who follows his team on the road and throws regular home game tailgate parties for 80 of his closest friends

Andelman picks apart the male psyche the way Tom Brady and Peyton Manning read defenses. Why Men Watch Football: A Report from the Couch is worth a read now or even after the season. It’s available at Amazon.

Reporter’s Notebook: Picture This, Social Media Sizing Tips

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There are two kinds of writers I recently told my friend John Andrews of Social Palates Photography. There are those like me that use many words to write a story, peppered with one picture. Then there are writers like him who use pictures to tell a story, and they sweeten it with a few words.

the-walking-dead-season-4And then there special cases like this Walking Dead poster which say so much and so little with one picture and a few words.

That said, since I am speaking mostly to word writers, I thought I should provide some advice on optimal use of pictures in your blogs.

So friends, students and lurkers, here is a cheat sheet from Luna Metrics for sizing pictures on various social media platforms. The article by Samantha Hosenkamp appeared on the PR Daily site.

What size should a Timeline pix or Thumbnail on Facebook be? Or a Shared Image on Twitter? Ever tried to fit in a Shared Video on Google+ or the Mappable Header on You Tube? Thinking about the Career Cover Photo on LinkedIn? And what about the Pin Preview on Pinterest?

All the secrets revealed. This is one item I am going to bookmark and email to myself just to make sure it doesn’t fade away like… an old picture.