Tag Archives: social networking

3 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Hole

Sometimes you fall and you can’t get up!  By that I mean, sometimes you fall into a hole and you can’t think of a single thing to blog about.

Don’t despair.  It happens to all of us.  Sometimes it happens because you’ve been busy on a project or with a particularly demanding client.  Sometimes it happens when you’ve taken a short break or a vacation and stopped focusing or your blog for a few days.  Sometimes your creative juices just aren’t flowing.

I know the feeling because it has been happening to me; for several days over the last week, I attended a conference that had nothing to do with technology or real estate and for those few days, I didn’t even think about my blog.  The result is that now, I need to reprime the pump in order to come up with new ideas.

What to do when you can’t come up with a good idea for your blog?  Here are three suggestions.

  • Write about what you’ve been doing.  If you took a vacation or spent some time with your family, write a blog piece about something funny or interesting that happened.  In fact, including occasional pieces about yourself and what you do outside of your professional life helps people identify with you.  But keep it short and don’t do it often.  After all, prospects are more interested in real estate than they are in you.
  • Find the real estate connection in ordinary events.  For example, the venue for the conference I attended was a Michigan Avenue hotel in downtown Chicago.   I couldn’t help but notice the vacancies on and around the Magnificent Mile, including an indoor mall built on Michigan Avenue only a few years ago that is now shuttered.  My observation could spawn a series of articles about the state of commercial real estate.
  • Write about your writer’s block.  People who write for a living will tell you that one of the best ways to outwit writer’s block is to start writing about it.  If you have nothing profound or earth shattering to say, write about that.  It won’t be long before you have an entire article and you’re back on track.

Why Facebook is Where You Need to Be

A bunch of data on the Internet in recent days confirms it:  Facebook is where you need to be if you want people to know about you and what you’re doing.  Facebook is surpassing Yahoo! on a number usage measures and is slowly gaining on Google.

Consider the following:

  • Americans spend more time on Facebook. The Nielson Company reports that the average American spent just under 6 1/2 hours on Facebook in February, 2010, compared to approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes on Yahoo!, which came in second.
  • Americans get a growing amount of information from Facebook. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle underscores how Americans are doing less navigating of the Internet on their own and more navigating and making choices based on recommendations from friends.  Facebook is a big part of this.  For example, Techcrunch reports that 44% of the items shared on the web in the past month were shared on Facebook.  (The next closest was Twitter at 29%.)
  • Facebook is starting to challenge Google as the most visited website.  According to Experian Hitwise, Facebook received 7.07% of all Internet visits during the week ending March 13th—more than Google, which received only 7.03%.  This happened once before, during the Holidays in 2009, and experts expect that it will continue to happen.
  • Facebook is a constant in the lives of many Americans. Consider the recent study , for example, that reported that 30% of social media users say they check for new posts during the night!

Facebook is where people are looking for information and finding it.  If you’re not there, you should be.

How to Use Social Media for Self-Promotion

It’s almost impossible to be successful in any field of endeavor without promoting yourself.  Yet, in Western culture, at least, egregious self-promotion is considered taboo.  This is especially true in social networking where the best way to create a negative image is to shamelessly and inappropriately call attention to yourself.

You’ve seen people who do this.  They write comments on other people’s blog posts, but the comments have nothing to do with that blog; the comments are about them with a link to their stuff.  Or, they invite you to connect with them and soon you’re deluged with messages about them, their product, their next seminar, or whatever it happens to be.

These people are boors.  Like the guy at the party who corners you and won’t stop talking about himself, you always want to get away from them.  And of course, you don’t want to be like them.

So how can you use social media for self-promotion without coming across as offensive?  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Never Use Someone Else’s Platform To Advance Your Cause. Recall how shockingly rude Kanye West appeared when he stole the mic from another artist during an awards ceremony to promote his own agenda.  Never try to promote yourself on a site that’s about something else and never try to call attention to yourself in the comment section of someone else’s blog.
  2. Promote Yourself by Promoting Others. Find people in your network whose work you admire or who are doing things that are laudable and talk about them.  When you promote others, people notice you too.
  3. Be Humble. Give lots of praise to others. Take little for yourself.
  4. Take an Interested in Others. When you’re genuinely interested in other people, they will be interested in you.  Don’t beat people over the head with messages about what you can do for them.  Instead, get to know them.  Ask about what they do.  Invite them to talk about their projects or what’s going on in their lives.  Rejoice in their successes.  Empathize with their challenges.
  5. Help Your Contacts Find Clients. If people in your network are in business, ask them what they’re looking for in a customer, then introduce them to people in your network who meet that profile.  The contacts you help in this way will always be on the lookout for ways to return the favor.
  6. Introduce Your Friends to One Another. If there are people in your network who have much in common or who would certainly become friends, introduce them to each other or arrange a get-together.  As their relationship grows, both parties will remember you fondly.
  7. Be Subtle with Blogging. Blogging is one of the best ways to subtly make people aware of what you know or what you can do.  When you publish articles in your area of expertise week in and week out, people come to understand how knowledgeable you are without you having to explicitly say so.
  8. Bring People Together with Blogging, Wikis or Other Interactive Sites. The most successful sites bring people with similar interests together by inviting them to write articles and make comments.  All of the people who participate on your site will see you as the expert because you made the venue available and you moderate the discussion.
  9. Beware of Spamming People. Self-promotion can easily cross the line and become spam.  When you want to let people know about a new project or a success, send out one or two messages and let it go at that.  Never bombard your contacts with constant or repetitive messages about what you’re doing.  It’s the best way to get people to disconnect and start ignoring you.

What else would you add?

13 Etiquette Rules for Scheduling a Post

It’s easy to schedule social media posts so that they appear automatically when you’re busy or traveling.  WordPress lets you schedule posts to appear in the future, Twitter lets you automate direct messages, and applications like Sendible and Ping.fm let you pre-post to just about any social media site you belong to.

But just because something is technically possible doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The ability to automate your posts can be a huge convenience for busy professionals, but used in the wrong way, it can be a nuisance, an insult to friends and followers, or even unethical.

If you plan to schedule your posts, keep these considerations in mind:

  1. Don’t send an automated Direct Message to everyone who follows you on Twitter, especially one that says something like “check out my website” or “buy my product.”  It’s inauthentic and many people on Twitter hate those automatic DMs.
  2. Don’t autopost every Twitter message to Facebook or LinkedInTwitter followers expect frequent posts all day long, but constant posting can be annoying on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  3. Honor the application.  If you must post to several sites at once, make sure your post is relevant.  A message that’s perfectly OK on Facebook, for example, may be highly inappropriate on Linkedin.   Likewise, lengthy blog posts sent to Twitter are silly.
  4. Don’t repeat the same Twitter message over and over again.  It turns you into a pest.  Repeating Twitter messages to impact the workday in other time zones is OK, but limit your repeats to 3 or 4 spaced 8-10 hours apart.
  5. Don’t schedule automatic posts so that they come one after another.  Instead, space them throughout the day.
  6. Never use automatic posting to fake, deceive, or pretend you’re something or somewhere that you’re not.
  7. Beware of autoposting schemes that will use your account to spam friends and followers.
  8. Avoid autoposting schemes that scrape or steal content from other people and post it as yours.  If an autoposting service is offering some spectacular result that seems too good to be true—it’s probably not true.
  9. Don’t use autoposting exclusively.  Use it from time to time when your schedule keeps you from posting when you want to, but be sure to also post live so you can interact with others.
  10. Don’t autofollow everyone on Twitter who follows you.  Instead, interact in a personal way with as many new followers as you can.  Remember, its called social networking for a reason.
  11. Don’t just set it and forget it.  Monitor your autoposts to be sure they’re presenting you in the way you intended.
  12. By default, autoposting is about me (what I’m reading, what I’ve written, what I’m doing), but social networking should really be about others.  This is one more reason to limit your autoposting and to interact live.
  13. It’s OK to use automatic birthday reminders, but be caring and real enough to send a live birthday message to friends instead of one you schedule in advance.

What else should be included?

How to Hone Your Online Image

If you use social media to promote yourself or to attract and engage prospective customers, your blog posts and status updates gives friends and prospects a glimpse of what kind of professional you might be if they were to hire you.  So every post should be well thought-out and critically evaluated before you press that enter button.

Readers have a limited amount of time and because there’s so much content online, they have to pick and choose.  Why should they follow you rather than someone else?

Therefore, before you post, consider the following:

Value.  Is this message important?  Does it impart value to the reader? Does it answer a question or solve a problem for them?  Does it give them information they don’t already have?  Better yet, does it give them information they can’t get anywhere else?  Does it make them want to comment or answer back?  Does it make them want to save your message or share it with someone else?  By reading it, will they see you as someone who adds genuine value and is worth doing business with?

Viewpoint.  Let’s face it, everything you post is not meant to be a learning experience.  Sometimes your status updates will be insightful or personal.  So the question is, do you present a unique point of view?  Will friends and followers relish your posts for your good humor or your unusual take on the day’s topic?  Do you possess an outlook that sets you apart?  Are your messages worth reading because each contains a special little bit of you?

Verve.  Finally, are you exciting, energetic, entertaining?  Do you move people emotionally or spiritually?  Do your messages uplift?  Do they make people laugh or at least smile?  Do they make people think?  Does the information on your site or its very design convey something that grabs people? Will this post make people want to read more? Will readers feel like they’re missing out if they don’t subscribe or check back another time?  What is it about this post that will make readers want to come back again and again?

Certainly, everything you post is not going to meet all of these criteria every single time.  Your aim, however, should be to gradually, through a series of posts, shape the image your readers have of you.

Keep in mind that the words and images you post become you, especially for people who’ve never met you.  So craft your online image with care.