business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Eventually an Egg Walks!

image001

I still remember the first time I got behind the wheel in my driver’s ed class car. After two weeks in class, I finally got to sit in the back seat waiting for my turn to drive. When I finally got into the drivers seat, I was informed that I would be getting on the highway.

I recall feeling as if I would throw up as I approached the “on ramp.” My instructor, a retired policeman, kept telling me to put my foot down on the gas. “You have to merge at the same rate of speed,” he kept saying.

I could feel the sweat dripping down the back of my shirt, and my hands were so tight on the steering wheel that my knuckles were white. I am not sure how I got on the highway or even how long it took to get to my house. I was in some time warp with strange sounds whizzing alongside my ears and deep, muffled voices from behind me that sounded like a horror movie.

I remember not wanting to get out of the car because my legs felt like concrete–until they hit the ground–then they quickly turned to jello, unwilling and unable to move toward my house.

Eventually, I got to the front door but was unable to turn the knob because my hands were shaking so violently. I was relieved when they finally pulled away so I could slump down against the brick wall and gather myself.

This flashback came about when I was reviewing a month end posting report on a recent client’s Facebook posts.

They had paid me for my “advice” on social media and only wanted a strategy for posting with content ideas and direction. Unwilling to see the value in training or social media management, they felt confident that things would just roll off the page as simply as it was outlined. I pointed out that the person who was the “communications coordinator” already had a busy job and may need some guidance, but the owners thinking was that she already had her own Facebook page, so it would be easy to get this going, right?

I recall leaving that meeting feeling nauseous.

I had been driving in the front seat with my parents for 16 years before I took that ride on the highway. I can tell you that none of that observation and keen attention to the turn signal movements helped me at all that night–or many other nights afterward for that matter. Learning to drive, like learning how to implement a social media strategy requires training….lots and lots of training, and even more practice.

The simplicity of social media is a concept that comes from the idea that it is free.

Free is not free when you calculate the number of hours it will take someone to set things up, make a plan, write and curate content, follow up, analyze, readjust, and then post and post, and yes, post again, daily.

It must have been great to be a Yellow Pages Salesman back in 1980’s. Pay, create, and print. Done. All that what was left was for the phone to ring, again and again.

Not so simple today. But really, nothing is that simple anymore. Business is driven by a presence on social media, not a specific need, but more about people’s desire to learn more, perhaps even own the thing that caught their eye while scrolling through images on their phone.

It’s tough out there today!

Social media is advertisement/journalism/newspaper ad/business listing/inventory and billboard sign. The “small shop” is no longer products and a salesperson, but rather a whole world of experiences. Consumers today expect to log into your website and find all the answers to their questions—visually, thoughtfully, and graphically pleasing. It has to be simple enough to find what they want quickly, but detailed enough that they can go deep inside the culture of the business.

A flat, yellow paper ad from days gone by did not even scratch the surface of “experiential.” And placing an ad took maybe two hours back then with a payment plan! You had all the details done—hours, logo, address, perhaps clip art—it all came down to size and budget.

So why isn’t marketing today operating like that?

Why is it so hard to see that marketing a business today is more than a few posts and fans to “thumbs up” our information? Why isn’t there more of an effort to bring people on board who can really grow an organic program that is fun and part of the everyday culture of the business?

Oh yeah, it costs money.

I am always clear when talking to people about social media marketing. “It is an egg,” I tell them. “eventually, it walks.”

But who has ever seen an egg hatch?

Not in this grocery store nation. So, I am thinking, I may need to find a new analogy….perhaps that’s why I had my flashback this morning.

Social Media is like learning to drive a car!
You will feel unbelievably nauseated, sweaty, out-of-control, and utterly fearful of every single moment,
until one day, you just don’t.

I like that.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, LinkedIn Strategist, and a very animated Speaker. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their brands through thought leadership. Her passion is working with small businesses and non-profits because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power! For a different perspective follow her @mbear88 or just email at mbear88@gmail.com  (Originally Posted on LinkedIn)

Personal Brand, Social Media

The Awkward Feeling of Standing Out

duckWhat if Prince had decided to be like Hall & Oats, Billy Joel, or U2?

Those were the top names when he recorded Purple Rain.  He didn’t choose to have the same 80’s look and feel of those other guys, no, he became different because he was different.  And his career grew larger than life the more  “himself” he became.

Today it doesn’t take songwriting or a purple velvet jacket to become a “pop star” in your career.  It takes a personal style that means you must stand out, be taller (or shorter) than the competition.  It takes acceptance of that slightly off person that you know you are. Are you the square peg that squeezed into the round hole your whole career? Own It! You have to find yourself and stand proud.

To be the “pop star” of your world….it takes a voice.

Sorry folks, what it really takes is a Blog.

So Here is The Short List:

#1 A Blog Sends People To Your Website.

Interesting articles and materials that are found on Google searches mean that people, potential customers, will eventually click through to your website.  This is the virtual goal of anything social.  Clicking through to the home base of your business.  Sure, you could run $500 a week ads on Facebook, but why not find people genuinely interested in what you have to offer?

#2 A Blog Helps to Market Your Products & Services

What better way to give us all the behind-the-scenes look at who you are and what you do?  Selling art? Caring for children? Cleaning teeth? Bridging the digital divide?  They are all problems that need solutions. And the super highway of information can collect your thoughts and show me the roadmap to all the things that you can offer to help.

#3 A Blog Exposes You As An Expert.

Who wouldn’t want to stand next to Bill Gates when it comes to expressing your views on things that you are good at?  And don’t let the Bill Gates reference scare you away from standing up to thought leaders in a world of noisy advertisers. People today want genuine, authentic, organic information.  They want the voices of experience and understanding.  They want industry insiders who know how to change, correct, fix, guide, and fulfill all the promises that can be filled. We don’t want “snake oil” salesman with slick graphics and a cool video, we want authentic experiences that can impact us.  That would be (could be) you!

Think of blogging as an opportunity to contribute to the world’s problems.  One post at a time, reaching out to people, to your niche.  LinkedIn has over 414 million members.  What if just 1% of 1% of them read what you wrote and reached out to you?

You do realize that is over 40,000 people, right?

I don’t know about you, but if 40 thousand people were reading my thoughts and solutions, I would be a Pop Star!  

So Write.  Plan.  Solve.  And STAND OUT.

Note: I have one question.  When I “spell-checked” this piece the “snake oil” reference was flagged as “politically incorrect.”  Anyone have any comments on how this impacts society?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, LinkedIn Strategist, and a very animated Speaker. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their brands through thought leadership. Her passion is working with small businesses and non-profits because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power! For a different perspective follow her @mbear88 or just email at mbear88@gmail.com  

Personal Brand, Uncategorized

BRAND YOU. It’s Time To Become You.

masks

It’s easy when it’s easy.

You know, to do things “the way they have always been done.” To set aside our desire to be heard and recognized for our work and let the “other guy” take the credit. It is even easier sometimes to forget our successes and hold our errors close to our hearts so that we don’t lose the memory of all the pain and agony of doing something new or different. It feels easy to be “safe.”

Being safe isn’t where our world is today.

The pace of society, technology and the overwhelming abundance of information does not work well with “playing it safe.” So why fight it?

Your career is the one thing in life that you control.

I don’t care if you were born in South LA or can’t speak English. In time, you can change the things that need to be changed to become something. I read somewhere that it only takes ten years to become someone else. In ten years a high school graduate can become a doctor. In a lot less than ten years, you could learn to speak almost any language fluently. And in a matter of weeks, you could learn one of the most important tools there is–that when mastered–can make you envied and admired, followed and liked by thousand of fans.

It just takes the desire to risk being yourself.

And why would we risk that? The best parts of ourselves are those that were learned from mistakes, yet we ignore those and focus on the one or two things that are acceptable successes driving our life and careers into safe harbors. Being safe is an illusion of the world of work today. Stifling your individuality and skills is a recipe for career disaster.

To really own your career you must accept who you are

Every piece of who you are, including all those eccentricities that your bosses have told you were “never going to get you anywhere,” are important today. Did it ever occur to you that the reason people tell you such nonsense is that they know the true value of that gift you have, and perhaps, they fear that if you really owned it, they would be out of a job?

Social media is that tool I mentioned that can make you into the “superstar” you already are. Mastering its ability to broadcast your unique skills will take you to the moon and back, right alongside the SpaceX team. Because social media is the way, we communicate today. It is the spaceship to the future of work and recognition. Social media is your voice. It has replaced the press release and the Rolodex of contacts that you inherited from your family connections. Social media can take you where you need to go. But it works best when you are your authentic self. No masks. No safety goggles.

So look in the mirror and decide what matters to you. Pull all those ugly, quirky traits out of the closet and try them on to see if they are your ticket to success. Funny? Detail-oriented? A visionary? A collaborator? A talker? A writer? An out-of-the-box thinker? All of these things are in demand, somewhere, and if you can wear them with expertise, then you too are in demand.

Accepting who you are is the first step. Step two is learning how to voice those skills in the most efficient way possible–through blogs and posts that solve people’s problems. So start with the “easy” part, you.

Own who you are! Be proud of what you are good at and wear all of you like a magic robe. Take pride in how you got where are and then learn to broadcast your story and your skills out to the world. It is the only way to head into the future of your career.

So share your “brand.”

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, Brand Innovator, LinkedIn Strategist, Small Business Specialist, and Energetic Speaker. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with people and organizations who need to find their voice in a world filled with noise. Her work with small businesses and non-profits is most important to her plan because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Follow her @mbear88 or send her an email if you need a different perspective mbear88@gmail.com

business, customers, innovation, Leadership, Marketing, Uncategorized

Distraction or Reluctance? It’s Time To Decide.

business, customers, innovation, Leadership, Uncategorized

Transparency is the Enemy of the Outdated.

glassdoor-culture-code-quotesIt occurred to me, as I was watching three days of recorded nightly news, that we are in the most exciting time of history!  Annoying of course, but exciting. For those of you who want to tangle and fight over politics–please don’t read any further.  This is about The Digital Divide of Generations, and I am using politics to illustrate a point.

Let’s start with the obvious:

Bernie Sanders is bringing to a head the reality of the digital divide. His lifetime of actions — worn on his very transparent career sleeve– is one big Millennial Hug!  Bernie is old with a young heart filled with passion for doing the “right thing.”  If you accept that it is “his” right thing, then his record–illustrated so nicely in 25 + years of videos, is not the norm.  He took his punches all these years holding his ground and fighting for his values.  No one paid much attention to him until America lost its footing.

As for the rest of candidates, we have a series of complex maneuvers.  A whole generation of “adults” who are more than willing to forgive and forget all the changes of opinion and irrelevance that our elected officials spew on Twitter and their favorite news outlet.  Today they may support the “Hispanic” audience and tomorrow they may just throw them back over the border despite years of living here and paying taxes.  Political “positions” mean nothing!

I think the most telling example of the generational divide in this election was a comment by woman, a baby boomer from Wisconson, who was asked about a statement that Donald Trump made and she said:

“I can’t believe he would punish women….but oh,  I wish I could put a piece of tape on his mouth sometimes…”

Saying what you mean. Doing what you say. Walking the walk.

Companies and leaders of those companies must do what they say in their mission statement and employee handbooks. The idea that subordinates or the public for that matter, are on a need to know basis, with mostly the companies and leaders, never feeling that we “need to know,”–well hang on to your hats cause that just isn’t gonna work that much longer.  Millennials want transparency.  We all want transparency!

We want companies to speak the truth and then back with action.  Things marked “organic” should be, water tested by government agencies must be accurate and disclosed, and when people lie or change their minds we cannot merely put tape on their mouths to resolve the problem.

From Boomer To Bust

Older generations “forget” or have just accepted that our government officials do not do what they say   Election after election, we have overlooked the failings of our elected leaders to do what they say and now we have roads that are collapsing, water that is hurting children, gas leaks destroying entire neighborhoods, and an election that has spotlighted a cancer that needs to be removed. Saying “you are the best” is not the same as being “the best.”

Old School Vs New School

In my line of work, I am oftentimes seen as a disrupter. I recently sat in a room of high-level professionals facilitating a discussion about the opportunity to connect with their community –making them advocates for their important and incredibly stressful line of work.  I, of course, brought up using social media to help.  Still reeling from the crash of 2008–like so many businesses and professionals–with reduced budgets that didn’t get refilled when things began to turn around, they felt burdened by their inability to reach the decision makers.  Why is that?  I wanted to say to them.  Why do you think the budgets remain slim?

The battle is not about money.  The battle is about value, vision, and purpose.  Years of “need to know” pulled the cord in ’08.  Managers were managing managers and nothing was getting done.  CEO’s and Politicians were changing strategy and cutting budgets without regard to the original goals.

And I asked one telling question that I ask in every group, every industry I speak with:  When was the last time you went down through your company/department and met with your staff and talked about the mission and purpose of your work?  Deer in headlights for half the room.

When did our “work” become so important that we forgot to communicate and support our “subordinates”?  In this case, they are called “direct reports,” a term that just cut into my soul –as if they were numbered prisoners.

Innovation cannot work if we do not communicate at the very basic level of our most valued assets–the people who work with our customers.

I know that I am disruptive–a role I have come to accept.  I live on both sides of this generational/digital divide.  I climbed the ladder but I failed miserably because climbing to the very top didn’t mean I was successful.  I read our mission statements and took it to heart that we had a purpose.  Eventually, I had to go out on my own because at a “certain age” people just expect that you want to climb up the next rung on the ladder.  I was too busy circling the desks and inspiring the masses.

The Election Is a Mirror

Holding on to what we had has always been the job of the outgoing generation. They feel “owed” and justified in moving on, hanging on and complaining about the young guns without experience. But this time the young guns don’t really need what is being offered because they have redefined success.  They don’t want to climb ladders to nowhere, they want collaborative teams with goals and support for their efforts.

I remember telling my sales team that the “big bosses” were busy solving the big problems, and that is why they didn’t once attend our customer events—but who were we kidding?  They were busy holding on to their rung on the ladder.

Using Social Media to connect is scary because it means you have to declare something and then hold true to it.

My favorite question as a consultant is “Why do Millennials leave a new job after a few months?”

It’s not an answer most businesses want to hear.  Bosses want it to be about the “Me Generation”  with self-centered kids who don’t know how to do anything without their cell phones.  But that is not true. Millennials have not only figured out that they are a numbered and expendable commodity in the workplace, but they feel empowered to leave before they turn into the huddled and afraid “direct reports”  like their parents were before they got laid off after years of loyal service.

So Donald, Ted, Hilary, and Bernie…

…you are at the tipping point in history when it comes to elections, and most likely, our culture too.  This will be the last presidential election where you say whatever you must to get into the office and then back pedal your way into the next election.  We want change.  We want communication and support.  We want you to speak your mind…and hopefully, what comes out of your mouth will be a passion , purpose and real plan of action to make our country stronger…without the use of tape!

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business owners because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. E @mbear88  or email me if you need a different perspective mbear88@gmail.com

 

Originally posted on LinkedIn

%d bloggers like this: