Buying vs Earning Twitter Followers

Twitter logo as a blue square

I was an early adopter of Twitter, and yet, I’d failed to build a strong following. This was my fault, of course, since I was aware of the growing importance of the Twitter channel for social network engagement.

In fact, some of the people I’d helped to get started in Twitter were already miles ahead of me in building a strong following.

So, yeah, I was starting to feel like I needed to catch up. Fast.

I’d read a few interesting blog posts about purchasing Twitter followers, but I dismissed the concept. I mean, how good could these followers be, if they were willing to be bought and sold?

I was determined to build my followers the old fashion way: earn them. And then… Continue reading

5 Tips for Professional Networking on LinkedIn

Square version of LinkedIn Logo

LinkedIn Logo

Because of the rapid growth of social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, many people are unsure of how they should draw the line between professional and personal communications. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but if you follow a few rules of thumb, you’ll do a better job of managing your professional brand.

First off, if you aren’t yet familiar with it yet, LinkedIn has become the hot destination for professional networking. It’s the ultimate social and professional mixer that helps people connect through career experiences.

Essentially, you go to LinkedIn to create a living resume. It may help you get discovered by HR recruiters or former co-workers. So it is essential for you to market yourself properly. Here are five easy tips for making the most of LinkedIn.

1. Be professional.
It’s strange to even say this, but you need to treat LinkedIn as you would any other workplace. Consider LinkedIn just another extension of your career, because for now, it kind of is. There are enough working professionals on LinkedIn that you must assume that everything you write is going to be seen and interpreted by some of your co-workers.

Separate your personal online life (e.g., Facebook) with your professional online life (i.e., LinkedIn). There is the “work you” and the “home you.” LinkedIn is the place for the work version of yourself. Continue reading

Three Steps to a Better Presentation & Story

PowerPoint Logo 2008 Mac

Precondition your audience at the start of your presentation.

If you’re delivering a business pitch, you are trying to share an idea that the client will want to buy. That means it needs to be memorable. As a presenter, you need to make sure that your future client knows what the heck you are trying to say.

Don’t just tell them that you’re good at delivering a powerful message. Prove it in your presentation.

Here’s a good piece of advice for making presentations memorable, which I learned from my friend and co-worker, John Spingler (aka Sping).

Here are three basic steps to delivering a memorable pitch and marketing story:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

Sounds really simple, right?

But if you’ve ever suffered through a dull PowerPoint presentation and wondered “where is this going?” then you know that delivering a clear message isn’t so simple. When a presentation lacks focus, it’s hard for your listener to remain focused. Continue reading

Defending Your Creative Ideas

Defending Ideas Sketch

Defending Your Ideas - A little sketch from the corner of my notebook, as we were brainstorming new ideas.

If you want to get into the business of marketing, you’re going to need to develop (a) a thick skin and (b) a strategy for sharing your ideas. Neither of these tasks are easy, but trust me when I tell you, they are necessary.

Many people think that marketing is easy, since just about anyone can come up with one good marketing or advertising idea. The real challenge, of course, is to come up with multiple ideas. Ideas that adapt to evolving strategic direction and new media channels. That’s not quite as easy.

In a brainstorm, there are some good ideas that everyone agrees is on target and makes sense. If there’s a whiteboard, it gets written in big bold letters as “an idea.” Kudos to you if you were part of that brainstorm session.

If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorm session, it can be fun and exhilarating, but it is also a little scary. Why scary? Well, if all of the ideas are safe, the group may not be trying hard enough. There may be fear in the room. Nobody wants to share their best idea, only to be rejected by the whole room. Making it to the whiteboard builds confidence. Not making it to the board is depressing. Continue reading

How to Help Young Marketers Gain Career Experience

Last week, I was on vacation in sunny Florida, and boy did I work. Well, I didn’t work for the agency, but I worked my marketing brain a bunch. And then I had an idea. (Hang with me, it takes a few paragraphs to get there.)

Y’see, after the kids all went to bed, some of the adults would stand outside and chat about the days events. Inevitably, the conversation always turns to “so, what do you do?” Like many of you, I work in emarketing, which includes advertising, branding, strategy, and all that good stuff.

One of the guys on vacation was a small business owner struggling with his company’s place in the competitive landscape. He had built a successful business, but was losing market share in key battlegrounds. The specific details aren’t important, but suffice to say, I put on my marketing hat and we talked for hours about his challenges. In my mind, his next steps included (but weren’t limited to) a SWOT analysis and a repositioning of his brand identity.

Marketing Experience
It all seems to be going well, but at a certain point, I realize I can’t help this guy any further. He needs an agency that’s geared up for his specific marketing needs.

Unfortunately, he’s already struggling, so hiring a marketing agency — even an agency with reasonable rates — may not be feasible. He’s just trying to keep the lights on and his staff employed.

But what if there was a database of young, hungry marketers who were willing to help out a small client in exchange for something they could add to their portfolio? Maybe barter some services, if that’s an option. Continue reading

Cross Channel Book Marketing

Creating Comics book by Buddy Scalera

My new book Creating Comics from Start to Finish is just beginning to hit stores now. And despite the fact that I do this marketing thing every day for my clients, I’ve found it to be challenging to apply the same principals at home for my own projects. Crazy, right?

There’s an old saying, “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” That pretty much means the stuff you do at work is not the stuff you want to do when you get home. But a book being published is a timely event, and that time will soon pass, so I need to take the opportunity to market my book while I still can.

Initially, I was spending most of my efforts on my Facebook Fan Page, which had around 700+ followers and is now over 800. This group has been supporting my photo reference books, so they were most receptive of the new book. A good start.

Then I did a little bit of content seeding. I created a video flip through of my book, which I placed on the Facebook Fan Page, YouTube, Flickr, and even Amazon. I’m monitoring all of the channels through Google Analytics to see which drives the most qualified traffic.
Continue reading

Charlie Sheen, Guinness & Marketing

Guinness World Records

Charlie Sheen — the current celebrity obsession — has broken a world record for “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers.” And it was validated by the official Guinness World Records. (Is it even a “book” anymore?)

Through all of the hype and the amusing posts by @CharlieSheen, it’s easy to miss the marketing angle here. Specifically, Guinness saw a media storm and used it as an opportunity to promote their own brand. Not only that, they did it in a way that actually was relevant to their own brand. They validated a record. As of this writing, @CharlieSheen has only 30 actual tweets and 1,640,427 followers.

Seriously, when was the last time you actually thought about who held the record for anything? When was the last time (I’m assuming that you’re out of grammar school) you held the Guinness Book? Probably not recently.
Continue reading

Offline Networking, 1,600 Rail Cars, & a Mahogany Desk

PMeetup Logoart of my job at the agency is to talk about the effective use of online social networking websites and other social media channels. As such, I’m fairly well cross-connected with everything from Facebook to Meetup to LinkedIn.

(Am I too socially networked?)

Typically, I discuss how social channels are rooted in offline networking traditions, but modified to work online. How we network in real life isn’t terribly different than how we network online, right? Well, not really. There are similarities, but there are also massive differences.

I wanted to see how a modern live networking event was run, so I attended a local event from LinkedIn.

The event was held in a special events room at a moderately upscale restaurant. A modest admission included a buffet and a cash bar. Upon my arrival, the room buzzed with well-dressed people eating, drinking, and networking.

LinkedIn LogoMany had professional designed badges with their name and business offering — clearly they had done this before. I had a “Hello My Name Is” sticker with my name written with a black Sharpie.

Many people were engaged in two- and three-person conversations, making it awkward to just break in, so I grabbed some food and sat at a table. Within minutes the people at the table were introducing themselves. In real life proximity is key to opening a conversation. Same as online, except proximity is a virtual concept, not a physical one.

Two of the three people at the table worked in manufacturing, so they began chatting enthusiastically. The woman next to me built custom office furniture, like shelves and closets. She was nice and we chatted a bit about our love of our Apple products, but soon she was slipping into the conversation with the manufacturing guys. I can’t blame her. I’m probably not likely to buy a mahogany desk with built in shelves for my office. I work in a cubicle.

Around the room, people would randomly make eye contact, introduce themselves and their services. I’d describe myself as a guy who “works at a large marketing agency, where I specialize in digital interactive marketing. I develop websites, search, and other emedia campaigns.” If they seemed interested, I would go into greater detail.

Some people were definitely not interested, literally turning and walking away. I’m not making this up. People literally listened, nodded, and just walked off. Perhaps they assumed I was there to sell them advertising services, in which case, they wanted me less than a mahogany desk.

For every career consultant I met, there were at least two accountants and one insurance salesperson. I met two chiropractors who told me that sitting at a desk was bad for my back.

After a while, I settled into conversation with a guy who told me he could get me access to rail cars. Y’know, freight trains. Up to 1,600 of them, but if I needed, as few as four. Despite the fact that I had little need for rail cars, we laughed, shared a few stories, and actually made a connection.

Toward the end, I met a guy who sells insurance. Like the freight train guy, the insurance guy recognized there was nothing he could sell me. But we were both content to just meet someone new. We talked about motorcycles, our kids, and how hard it is to get motivated to go to networking events. LinkedIn allows us to do this from the comfort of home.

So that’s how it went in my first live networking event. This was a general event, so the next one I attend will be more technology and marketing focused.

In the meantime, I’ve made a few new connections. And should I ever need 1,600 rail cars on short notice, I know where to go.

Kid Gives Good PowerPoint

If you work in corporate America, particularly in marketing, you probably build decks and presentations. For the most part, these presentations are built in PowerPoint. And suck.

Seriously, I sit through countless presentations, and the vast majority aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. (A little joke there. Hah.)

Well, apparently Scott McCloud knows how to make a really good presentation. And if you watch the embedded video (go full screen), you’ll see his 13-year old daughter Sky McCloud does too.

Sky McCloud Presentation from Duarte Design on Vimeo.

Ask yourself: Is your client presentation or pitch deck as good as the one delivered by this 13-year old?

Facebook Fan Pages Free and Fun

Facebook Fan Page Graph

The continued rise of Facebook means that all marketers — even those who have traditionally ignored social media tactics — are trying to figure out how to tap into this techno-social phenomenon.

One of the easier (and more affordable) ways to test the social waters is to set up a Facebook Fan Page. Plus, it’s free to get started.

I recently set up a fan page for my books (I’ve published three) and my CD-ROMs (again, three published). My books and CDs are resources that provide anatomy reference for comic book artists. Yeah, it’s a unique niche, I admit.

Setting up the “Photo Reference for Comic Artists Fan Page” was free and easy. If you were able to sign up for Facebook and set up a profile, you can figure out how to set up a fan page. For content, I uploaded sample photos from each of the books. It’s basically the same stuff that I have posted over in Flickr galleries and on my personal website.

Photo Reference for Comic Artists

So once you do that, you need to let people know about your page. Right now, I am promoting on the cheap. Basically, I shared the link with everyone in my Facebook Friends list who would be remotely interested in the page.

To my surprise, I got a dozen people on the first day, and then it quickly picked up from there. In less than two weeks, I had hit 200 fans. Not bad for word of mouth (WOM) promotion.

At that point, I had an audience. So I started uploading extra photos, like behind the scene shots that nobody has ever seen. As I posted pictures, people started giving it that thumbs-up “like,” which is a virtual endorsement. That resulted in more people signing up to be fans of the page. In the social marketing space, it’s all about relationships, so virtual approval is hugely important.

As a marketing channel, Facebook Fan Page is an free and easy way to begin spreading your brand message. Facebook even offers some rudimentary statistics and demographic information. It’s not very useful at this point, since my trends are just creating an initial baseline of information. At 10,000 fans you get access to more detailed analytics, but it’s unlikely that such a deep vertical like my books has that much of a broad-based appeal. But you never know.

Next month, I’ll try Facebook’s built-in advertising network to drive more awareness of the fan page. But for now, I am content recruiting fans organically, as they discover my page through their actual social network.

The next few weeks will be focused on posting new information and photos to get people engaged with the fan page. I’ll try running contest, just to see if people will participate. It will be at least six months before I get information about book sales, so I won’t know if this actually helps my long-term goal of selling books.

Stay tuned. More to come. Oh, and don’t forget to become a fan!

LINKS – NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS: