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  

Personal Brand, Uncategorized

BRAND YOU. It’s Time To Become You.


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

business, innovation, Leadership, Personal Brand, Uncategorized

A Different Perspective

When Your Life Experiences Matter

At a recent conference, I was stopped after my talk by a woman who thanked me and then told me that what I said didn’t apply to her.

Ok. My topic was Using LinkedIn to Build Your Personal Brand.  She was convinced that she had “no brand” and that when someone (like her) worked in so many different fields and jobs, there was no way to build a brand.

Now I was on the stairs of an old mansion, people were shuffling up and down between presentations, and although I gave her my card and doubted a follow-up, her comments really resonated with me.

No person ever has the same training and background.

That in itself is what makes all our work an amazing opportunity to see and do great things– because our own, unique perspectives make finding solutions possible. My whole life has brought me to this moment and there is no one else out there like me, with my unique perspective of problems.

I worked in several industries–none specifically related to each other.  I had different titles, different paths, needed different skills—but each one held an element of my marketing passion.  Each one was a perfect fit, at the time, because they filled a need in my process of growth, and I showed up just as they needed someone, like me, to solve their unique problems.

Every job we have ever held holds the keys to our current success.

All our experiences form for us the ability to solve problems with “new thinking.” Where we grew up, who our friends were, the places we traveled, the books we read, the summer camps, the concerts, the classes we enjoyed, our hobbies, our grandparents stories, our part-time jobs, and our internships all form who we are today.

It is a matter of tapping into that wisdom of our collective experiences that make the personal brand so powerful.

Some generations worked hard and felt rewards of just doing.  Some generations were given clear paths to success, and some generations grew up with technologies that defined their perspective of the “one-world-with-a-million-possibilities.” Just accept that we are changing in every generation and that every generation offers solutions.  

The conventional wisdom isn’t always the right solution

Look at Nokia or Blackberry.  Focusing on the best solutions with the best thinking of the time put them out of business.  They mocked the “other guys” as computer makers and forgot that their customers didn’t know what they didn’t know.  Had they brought in a team of people from other industries they might just have been innovative enough to still be strong and successful.  An outsiders view of an insiders world can make all the difference.

So to the lady who stopped me on the stairwell…

Embrace every single experience, job, position, and different opportunity you have ever had.  And find someone who sees the possibilities of that power you have to see things differently. Learning how to leverage who we are as a unique individual is what personal branding is all about.  YOU. Your unique gifts.  Your super-power.  Your collective perspective of the world.

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. Follow @mbear88  or email me if you need a different perspective

business, Marketing, Personal Brand

“The Cost of Being Wrong is Less Than The Cost of Doing Nothing”: How To Change In Two Steps


Whether in your business or your personal career, refusing to accept change will cost you more than the cost of changing.

It is a mouthful, but it is real.  And if anything were “more real” than ever, it would be this: When you stand on your sinking ship of denial, well you know, you sink.  And I get it, change is hard (so very hard indeed!).  Who has the time to learn all the new stuff?  And how do you know where to start?  It is an endless list of unknowns.  But doing is always better than not doing.

Step One: Decide To Change

It is that simple.  You get out the wet cloth and wipe the slate clean…and then you write out what the new is.

It doesn’t matter who you were, or what the founding principles use to be.  What is today?  Right now? The direction in which you are headed today determines not only where you are, but what you are–right now!  And right now, how are you? 

Are you on the right path? Is everything working out?

If the answer is yes, then you got this, keep going.  But if the answer is no, then what is holding you back from taking a different track?

“Where you head now determines where you soon are, where ever you are limits where you can go”

These are the wise words of James Gilmore and Joseph Pine the authors of the Experience Economy. We all know its true, but there we stand, paralyzed by our own habits and past success.You do not need permission to change. Just make different happen.

So maybe tattoos are not your “new” style, but making a decision to be yourself in a world of so much noise and choice is a good thing.  And that is the point of what Seth Godin is saying when he says the cost of doing nothing is more. Because you need to succeed.  You need a new career, more sales, a better life for your kids, happiness, and a future that takes you into a better place.  But none of that can happen without a decision to do something new.

Step Two: Pick a Destination and Go.

The single best advice I ever received was “pick a lane.”  Pick a lane?  YES, pick the lane you want to be in and then merge into it.  Forget about the other lanes.  Pick the one you want to be in.  Your lane.  Your vision of the future.  Not your competitors future, or your co-workers, or even your neighbor.  It’s your choice! And the beauty of the choosing is that once you decide to do it, everything falls into place. Because having a strategy changes everything.

So if there are more than a few nights with little sleep, know that it will be worth it.   Happiness is the cure for just about anything.  Still need permission?  Ok, Here you go, your permission slip: “I give permission to ______, to go out into the world and try something completely new.”  Have fun, and don’t forget to send me a postcard!

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 and entrepreneurs because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email

business, Leadership, Personal Brand, Social Media

You + Brand = Relevance


Understanding your professional reputation is all about relevance.

It is one of those phrases we hear a lot about lately–Personal Brand.  If author Malcom Gladwell were to pipe in he would say that we are at the “tipping point” of the process.  That means that it is time to stop and really look at the image you are projecting in your career.

Why is our “personal brand” so important now, when it was something only reserved for corporations for the last 100 years?

Your personal brand is your professional reputation.  It is all the bridge jobs you took to get somewhere more important.  It is the time you were fired, but quickly found a new company more appreciative of your skills.  It is the confidence you project when entering the room. It is as simple as your resume and as complicated as your Twitter account.  Your personal brand is your public life–and today, everything is public.

Branding somehow got confused with the “me generation.”  Personally I believe that every generation is the “me” generation, but in the world of selfies, professionals started to make excuses for not embracing the personal brand.

In 2015, we all have a brand, and it is this “branding” process that directly influences your impact as a contributor, thought leader and business owner.  

Your Brand:

  • It isn’t just what you do, but why you do it.
  • It isn’t as simple as having a smile in your profile photo, but what you wear and how you project yourself–virtually and physically.
  • It isn’t the tie or the high heel shoes; it is which tie and whether or not those heels are worn down and clicking all the way up to the podium.
  • It isn’t just an amazing website, but the content you share on social platforms.

Think about how you look and act, and I mean really sit down, look in a mirror and get to know the person looking back at you.  Is that person the one you “think” you are?  Or is that person still stumbling around trying to get things right?

Imagine yourself walking into a meeting–how do your colleagues, staff, business partners, managers, or clients perceive you?  Late, sloppy, drab, outdated?  Or are you edgy, polished and colorful?  How people define you, their perception of you matters. Perception is reality. So unless you bring something unique and compelling to the table, you run the risk of being seen as irrelevant, or worse yet, not being seen at all!

And do not underestimate your online profile.  We live in a world of information. Every second we experience a virtual treasure trove of facts and images on almost every subject imaginable.  So why underestimate the process of collecting information on you?

The biggest mistake you can make is not to have an online presence.

It screams “outdated.”

When Henry Ford brought the automobile to the every-day man, he changed the world.  He forced people to change.  Some people just pretended to change, but continued to ride their horses into town.  But as dirt roads turned into highways, many people were excluded from the world.

You cannot say “I am not techy” or “I respect my privacy” or even “It’s too complicated for me.”  These are the words of the man with the horse drawn carriage.

And it doesn’t matter how successful you are, how much money you have and make, or how impressive your title is…You are projecting a Brand of Irrelevance.

So be hip and relevant.  Get in the vehicle that expresses who you really are and write out a To Do List:

  • What are my real strengths, skills and abilities?
  • What is my true passion?
  • How do I look in my own mind?
  • How do I want to act?
  • What does my day look like?
  • What is it I want to say?

And then start making that happen every day.  Choose one online profile to change alongside one personal habit.  Get a real photo on LinkedIn and buy a new suit. You will feel the difference, and your customers will too.

Because who you are, who you project, does matter.  Brand YOU isn’t just the catch phrase of personal coaches and style consultants; it is the reality!

You are the product of all the choices you have made in your life up to this point, and if you are still making excuses for not changing and embracing the world we live in today, then realize that this too is a choice. And choosing not to change with the times is just as dangerous as risking something new.

And if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile (or any online profile), well you are not reading this anyway, but I am sure your hipper, more relevant competitor is….

So Start Today.  Ask an Expert. Become Relevant.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media and Branding Strategist.  Her work with non-profits and early childhood education is going to change the world making it a better place to live.  Her personal business mission is to educate every person on the importance and fun of living in a socially connected world. @mbear88

#branding #linkedin #relevance

customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

Profile Mistakes: aka Why People Don’t Follow You!


You want to be a “thought leader”?

Have people “follow” you?

Take this with a grain of salt, but I am really tired of looking through profiles that are ridiculous.  Profiles are your life now.  Read anyone of thousands great articles on how to optimize your professional profile, and please, please do not make these mistakes:

PICTURE:  Let’s start with the obvious. And this is a dual whammy for sure.  Using clipart images, or your logo, or a flower for your photo, well, are you that horrid looking that we wouldn’t want to know who the hell you are?  We are searching for information, not a life partner. Get a picture.

DESCRIPTION:   Your quirky, hip tagline is so “hip” that no one understands what you are saying.  Nike already has the best one, so write out something and then ask a Layman before posting.

CELEBRITY:  Ok, so you are a published author, or something else super cool, and you think we all know you…yeah, all 400 billion of us know your book! Duh, come down to earth and write just a few more words about yourself other than the title of a book we never read.

TITLE: Let me be clear here—it is not what you do that interests me super-cool dude and dudette—it why and how you do it that matters to readers.  (oh, look, another author…)

SELLING:  In profiles, whether it’s your twitter handle or a “title” promoting your book or website….a little foreplay would be nice.

ADJECTIVES:  “Award Winning”, “World Renowned”, “Expert”….How about “Totally Egotistical”?  Yeah, that works for me, next!

TMI:  Which means, Too Much Information.  2 Categories here: 1. Waaay Too Personal Stuff.  No, we don’t want to know your “ew” stuff. Or 2. Every single title you have crammed in that small space? Pick one.  If you can’t, we won’t either.

AWARD WINNER:  Thank you, for thanking us, for encouraging you, to do anything in your profile.  “You really like me!”  No. No, we don’t.

CROSS DRESSER:  And I don’t mean clothing here people.  I am talking about the folks who start out being all professional listing their titles and jobs, blogs, and books and then say, “…and eat English muffins.”  First off, TMI, and second, pick your lane.

“HAS BEEN”:  New trend—squeeze in the “now I do this…” then throw in “has been that.”  Resume in 120 characters is really tough.  We are impressed with your ability to squeeze and minimize. Who the heck are you today?  That is what we are looking for! (FYI: includes “former”)

NAME ONLY:  Got it.  You are so famous and recognizable that we must know who you are, who wouldn’t?  400 billion of us are just waiting to follow YOU.  And I know, it could be the total opposite– you are anxious or shy.  Well, one says buffoon and the other is just sad.  Get off the internet.

LACK OF CONFIDENCE:  You are the ones—who explain your title, why you chose that avatar over a photo….Seriously? Get a profile photo and write a description for heaven’s sake.  We will like you, someone will like you.  Trust me, have I told you yet there are 400 billion of us out here?

TITLE ENVY: When you make it so complicated with acronyms and “@” signs, even throw in a cute quotation tagline, well, you got it bad sister.  Title Envy.  Size doesn’t matter.  Passion does.

OFF TOPIC:  This might just be a case of website confusion.  “I love my dogs, am funny, eat sushi…” Do you think you are on We don’t want to date you.  We want to read content, relevant content and your love of dogs has nothing to do with motivational writing.

THE VISIONARY:  I am not saying that a vision for a better future is not appropriate for your profile description, but when you use “head-in-the-clouds speak” without telling us what you do, how do we really know you are “the one?”

KISS:  To the extreme of Keep It Simple Stupid.  “Hi, I make nice things and I blog.”  Ok.  Cool.  Right on.  When you come down off your cloud, would you mind writing a description of those things you make?  I didn’t get the memo.



  1. You and you alone.
  2. Your face please, not your left ear.
  3. Unless you drew it, not a comic character.
  4. Biting anything is just disgusting.
  5. Looking disinterested is not a way to endear the masses. Moody sociopaths maybe…
  6. Surprised? Hysterical? Exaggerated expressions work for drama students and escorts.  Be real for once.
  7. Casablanca revisited might be creative, but it doesn’t really work in a small, very small, low-resolution space. That black and white, distant glance with you sipping, no smoking, no…what is that you are doing?  Are you picking your nose?


So there you have it.  The Good, Bad and the Ugly.

Bottom line?  Be real. Be who you are and we will find you.  Maybe not all 400 billion of us, but enough to make your world happy.

Maria Bereket is a social media and branding strategist.  Find me here, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @mbear88. Email me too:  I can help you change your profile!


business, Design, Marketing, Personal Brand

Is It Time To Change Lanes?

merging-800x398Have you looked at your website lately?  How about that Logo?

Is it Time To Rebrand Yourself?

Ok, so things are going well for you and your business.  Well maybe they could be better, right?  A few more sales, a few more people enrolling in your program?  Am I right?  Isn’t it time you stopped blaming the economy for the dip?  The economy is fine, face it—it’s your brand, and the 2000’s want it back.

So let’s get down the bottom line:

#1 “People Don’t’ Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You Do It” (Simon Sinek)

Stop rolling your eyes.  This is actually a thing.  It is called values.  People want to buy products and services from customers and people that share their values.  I know you value something, or you wouldn’t be in business.  Take some time and think about this one, because you need to get this right.  It is the foundation for your  future.

  • What is your mission statement?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Who are you trying to help?
  • What problems are you solving?
  • Are your customers happy? What makes them happy?  What makes you happy?

This is what defines businesses now.  Think Apple vs. Microsoft.  One makes computer things, and the other makes us feel happy.  Apple knows its passion. It knows its mission.  It knows that people are buying “why they do what they do,” and not “what they do.”

#2 Design Matters

We live in a very sophisticated marketplace.  A world where design highjacked an entire cell phone market from a strong marketplace leader and now dictates what we buy.  People know what “fonts” are, what colors mean, how visuals evoke our emotions.  We live in a world where design matters.

So why is your website still full of text?  Your business card in times new roman and doesn’t have your LinkedIn profile URL?

Take a look at the message you are giving us when we see your “brand” represented.  Is your logo readable and legible?  Can we find your contact button easily?  Can we read your information from our smartphones?  Have you even looked at your website lately?

And in regards to design, does this image you are using, does it portray the core values that you have grown into since you started?  A few simple design corrections can change everything, and I mean everything!

#3 Which Lane Are You Driving in?

What I mean by this, is that when you started out, last year, ten years ago, whenever that was, did you and your business change?  Are you stronger in one area, and not even doing another?  Are your strengths and skills capturing a completely different demographic now than when you started?

Well, you are driving in a new lane, so own it.  Turn off your blinker and get in the lane, it’s yours for the taking. Let go of the things that are not part of your identity anymore, and embrace the ones that empower your mission and values of today.  Keep the old stuff on paragraph three of the “About Us” page and tell us how far you have come.

This lane is your vision for the future.  It is the intention for the growth of your business in the years ahead, and it fortifies the direction of your brand.  So own it.  Show it.  Get a new haircut, new style, new colors, and fix your outdated graphics to reflect this new, empowered you.

#4 Figure Out Who Is Listening To You

Few businesses can survive exactly the same year after year.  Customers grow up and move on, people change, music changes, fashion changes: so why isn’t your business changing?

Even accountants have to rebrand themselves.  Why?  Because clients die off, grow up and move on, and the ones coming up from behind are younger, smarter, savvier.  And guess what?  They also use mobile –can we read your the stuff on your website from our mobile phones?  Have you checked?

You need to figure out who needs you and then discover who is really listening to you.  You might be surprised that your business is coming from a completely different demographic than you originally started with.  Get to know them.  What do they like? What do they read?  How do they get their information?  Then figure out how to give them what they want—not what you want, what you use to do, what is easier for you.

When your sales are so-so, enrollments way off, or phones not ringing, it is time to look at the brand image you are presenting to the world. If you are outdated, then it is probably outdated.  Get a refresh.  Go on, pamper yourself.  Put a little money into a new look and feel for what you know is an awesome product or service.  It is no different than going out and getting a new haircut, new suit, or even hitting the gym to lose a few extra pounds.  Your brand is a living, breathing thing.

And for those of you who think that spending money on social media is just crazy?  Well, you are probably the ones that need the new branding most because people are not using the yellow pages anymore, and that word of mouth thingy you keep telling everyone?  Well, that is what Twitter is for……

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She loves marketing strategy, and social media, especially LinkedIn; and she helps business owners and professionals feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88 .

originally posted on

business, customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

Gotta Crawl Before You Can Run With Social Media

Posted first on

Welcome….please, be a fly on the wall and observe the world of the Social Media “Doctor” at your next networking event:

“Hey, you are that social media person, right? Let me ask you a quick question: How can I get to 1000 twitter followers?”

“Well, how often do you post?”

“Oh, maybe once or twice a month, but I retweet lots of great stuff from comedian Aziz Ansari, that guy really cracks me up.”

“You’re an insurance agent, right? Yeah I like Aziz too, but…well, do you blog?”

“Naw, those things are outdated. I really want to get followers on Twitter, and probably a lot more likes on Facebook too. How can I do that?”

“What do you post on Facebook?”

“Oh its linked to my Twitter, do you think I should post more on Facebook to get more Twitter followers?”

“Uh, yeah, maybe you should start posting more…..”

Yikes! You gotta crawl before you run people!

First of all: What is the obsession with Twitter followers? Why do you need 1000 followers when you aren’t posting anything relevant for them to read?

Second, and most important: Social media did not change anything about marketing… it only added a multiplication sign where a plus sign was before. (you know—3 who tell 3….well now its 3 x 3 who tell 3 x 3) So no matter what you do on social media, you are going to have a larger following–you just may not see them right away!  The problem is that you do not have a strategy, a social media strategy.  And isn’t it time you got one?

Here is how the social media strategy process goes:

OK, seriously, here is how it goes….

Crawl: You have decided that your business and/or career needs to have an actual social media program, and you are taking the lead and going through the ranks to get support. You have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Maybe the company has one or two as well, but there is no one posting on a consistent basis. People think you are a little crazy because they are sure you are already “doing” social media. You know better and keep pushing.

Walk: Now you are having actual meetings about the social media program. Your leadership has given you (or someone authority) to get this program going and report back. Everyone is now aware of the current sites, the existing posts, the news, and the stats of the importance of having a program in place. Ideally someone is hired to coordinate the program with you, or at the very least, you will be given compensated hours to handle the program. And the program is walking more steady….

  • The Social Media Policy is being drafted, reviewed and finalized.
  • Specific goals of the program are being finalized and posted.
  • Keywords, hashtags, and content themes are all being input onto an excel spreadsheet called “2015 Social Media Strategy.”
  • A color-coded Social Media Calendar is being drafted and posted.
  • A Workflow & Crisis Chart are being drafted up as the current comments and posts filter up the chain of command.
  • Training is being set up for employees to discuss the program, review the policy, and set guidelines.

Run: This is the momentum stage, so watch your step!. The policy is created, edited and in operation. That Workflow & Crisis chart is now committed to memory. Training is ongoing and now includes everyone in the company because the leadership now realizes that having all employees as “brand advocates” on social media is not only good for sales and customer service, but employees are actually excited and engaged in your business.

Marathon: This is the sweet spot that you dreamed about in the beginning. Everyone in the company (and even on the board) is using social media consistently, effectively and with some confidence in their expertise and purpose. The goals and objectives you set out are now the benchmark of every new program, every meeting, included in every correspondence. And your customers are are now on board with your brand–posting all of your articles, quotes, white paper research documents, and cool Instagram images…some of them are even trying to work for the company because it looks like such a cool place.  You are in a very good place and it feels awesome!

Don’t Stop.

It takes a strategy and patience to really pay off, and yes, you are probably well over 1000 Twitter followers by the time the marathon portion begins, heck, most of the management now probably over 1000 Twitter followers in their personal accounts. So throw a “Twitter followers party” and then talk with leadership about getting someone full-time to head the newly created “Social Marketing” Department–and do it fast–because this is a process with multiplication signs, and you are going to need someone to stay on top of it.

I love horror stories, so share some of your strategy stories with me. At the very least, follow me on Twitter @mbear88 …I am trying to get over 1000 followers too!

#socialmarketing #Socialmediamarekting #smallbiz #Socialmediatraining #Training #Twitter #marketing

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals and small business owners learn how to brand themselves through Social Marketing. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88


business, customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

KISS: 3 Steps to Social Marketing


Have you ever heard of the KISS Principle?

Keep It Simple Stupid: The more explanation something needs, the less effective it will be.  Well, not always, but when it comes to getting started on a new project, simplicity is the key.  And when it comes to Social Media Marketing, I would say that the KISS Principle is what is missing.  Sure, it seems a simple process of setting up a bunch of sites and then posting pictures and quotes, but why then is it so hard to get businesses to do it?  They all know they need to get it up and running, but when it comes to explaining it to the CEO it is not so simple to explain exactly how to do it. Am I right?

So here you go, a 3-Step KISS Principle to get your Social Marketing up and running in 2015.

1.  Write Out and Post your Goals.  Without these there cannot be a marketing plan.  You knew that already, but what you may not know is that “goals” does not equate to percentages, numbers, and metrics.  Goals are your simple, heartfelt reasons you do what you do.  Yeah, like a mission statement, but more directed to the year ahead.  You see, social networks don’t give a hoot if you want to sell 35% more widgets.  Social networks care about your reasons for selling widgets. Because behind the blinking colors, on the screen are people. So instead of writing out: Sell 35% more widgets in 2015, try this:  Help more small businesses solve the problem of (fill in your solution to their problem.)

Why is that goal better? Because we all have problems that need to be solved.  If your widgets will solve them, it feels like a solution when you say to want to help me, rather than sell to me.  Get the subtle shift?  You want to connect with me, help me. You want to engage your social network with things that we care about.  Your P&L Statement doesn’t impact our lives at all, but get rid of our problems?  You got a deal.

Stick with your top five goals, and be sure to post them everywhere.

Everywhere?  Sure, did it ever occur to you that your employees would like to know why they do what they do for your business? Don’t you think there might be a bit more smiles if they knew you were problem solvers rather than number crunchers?  Try it, it works.

2. Have and Post Your Social Marketing Calendar. “What is that?” you ask. Well, that is the calendar of events in the company and community that matter to your employees and customers. Break it down into three-month intervals–like the seasons perhaps. Look at the community where your business is located and see if they are having any local events that your company can participate in; find a cause and invite your employees (and customers) to join you on a 3k run/walk for the local animal shelter; is it restaurant week somewhere?  Post it, encourage your employees to participate in it….and then what?

Take lots of pictures of happy smiling people, colorful visuals, and yummy food and then post them. Make sure to hashtag the #eventname, #city, #yourcompanyname. Encourage people to vote on the pictures or share their own from the same event. Engage in a conversation with the people in your company, your community, your current and future customers.  Don’t stand on the sidelines trying to get people in your door, go outside and participate in the world around you!

Benefits include: Employee fun and happiness.  Community involvement and goodwill. And most likely, some good press for your company and customers who stay loyal and refer their friends.  But it starts with posting the calendar and the OK for everyone to participate.  And that brings us to number three.

3. Have a Simple, Do/Don’t Social Media Policy in Place.  The key words here are “simple, do and don’t.” You do not need a lawyer to write up a 32-page list of social media posting mumbo jumbo, but you do need to have a policy in place called “Social Media Policy.” Two pages Max!  Do’s on one page, Don’t on the other. (KISS remember?)

Start with the goals sheet from #1.  What are you trying to do?  Establish relationships with customers and the community?  Well, then encourage your employees to participate in that by giving them guidelines on how to help.

Don’t post personal, confidential or proprietary information.
Don’t misrepresent yourself or your company.
Don’t lie or make personal attacks.
Don’t post political, religious or personal views in the name of the company.

Do let people know you work for the company.
Do think before you post.
Do post only things related to the work we do and the goals we want to achieve.
Do let someone know if you think you messed up so we can fix it.

If you give people guides to behavior, and you yourself are participating, then it will work out.  Too many Don’t and not enough Do’s and people will not take the time to participate, and you want them to participate so that your “social marketing” is social. Not to mention, it will engage your current employees and attract new ones who want to be a part of your business.


Yes, I know there are metrics, SEO, hashtags, and a whole lot of other “marketing” things that need to be addressed, but you just need to get things started.  You need tracks in the snow so people will find you.  You need to get started, 3-months at a time, and before you know it, you will have likes, connects, shares, comments, and ultimately you will sell 35% more widgets by year end.  In fact, you may just surpass 35%, and pick up some really amazing clients and employees in the process.  So jump in and please let me know your progress!

If you need a simple Do/Don’t Social Media Policy just email me at and I will send you one for free.  It is so simple that anyone, any industry can use it.

#socialmarketing #socialmedia #KISS #hashtags #goals #employeeengagement #socialmediapolicy #2015 #smallbiz #socialmediacalendar #designbear

business, customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

The world you desire can be won


Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle.  The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.

As with so many things that change when the clock strikes midnight announcing the new year, our lives are given a moment to review the past and embrace the future.  For every business, there are tax consequences, employees who are reviewed and let go or promoted, new laws take effect…it is all new!

“Check your road and the nature of your battle,” wise words to guide our lives and business.  Look at the direction we are heading and then make modifications, but use the New Year Resolution as an opportunity to really focus on the end goal over the next months. Get the To Do List done.

For those of you who had your fill of articles and new stories on social media, perhaps this is the year to really embrace the movement and create the spark that is missing from your business and career.  Baby steps are all that are required, but steps none the less.

2015 Social Media Goals Part 1: Steps 1 to 4

1.Define the End Goal: If increased sales are the end game in 2015, then look first at increasing your current client engagement with your employees and company.  How can you communicate better?  How can your employees engage your customers more with your expertise and services?  Perhaps it is time to get that Blog started, create an Instagram account, or just revamp that newsletter that no one reads because it is outdated.  Focus the process on the goal.  Get open and honest feedback from employees and then let them help you in the process.

2. Assemble Your Team: Your social media force for action. I get it, cost cutting makes hiring new people, especially “social media” people impossible, but if the goals are solid and the process strong, then it may really be the time to get those sparks fanned into a real fire.

  • Social Media Strategist: Someone who can turn those goals into a long-term, day-to-day social media system.  This may be the only position that you must consider hiring from outside because they can get the structure in place for current employees to take over.
  • Content Manager: Yes, it is a job!  Writing relevant content directed toward your goals and the needs of the customer are essential in today’s 15-second-attention-span-world.  This includes all content–website, printed materials, tweets, posts, and eNews.
  • Community Coordinator:  Here is “command central.”  This is where the wall turns into a wonderful circle of post-it-notes with themes and messages that are spread across the social media platforms you have created.  It is where you respond to Yelp reviews and thank people for Tweets and shares on Facebook.  It is the ears and eyes of the customer; where all the conversations and information take place.
  • Analyst:  And don’t get all freaked out over this.  Someone can do this job.  It is just a collection of data on how your strategy is working, or not working.  It is someone who understands keywords and your brand goals.  This is the longest term position because social media takes time to grow and prosper.  This is where the baby steps will happen.
  • Social Media Manager:  This is the person who can get you all together every single month to plan and grow this very important marketing initiative. They are on top of every single thing going on with every platform and they are right there stoking the flames toward your year end goals.

Roles may cross-over and be one or two people combined, but they need to be in place and accountable for the year end goals to work.Define them, it is part of the process for success.

3. Strategy. Strategy. Strategy:  Get the team together and write it all out.  Answer the questions, and listen to the really tough answers.  What is your brand?  What is your brand voice?  Who really are your customers?  What information do they need?  How best can you offer that information?  These are just the tip of the iceberg questions when it comes to creating your social media strategy.  Follow the lead of the Strategist on the team and make sure they understand the big picture.

4.  Be Consistent: If this single factor is not in place, for the entire year, your efforts may get one or two good moments, but you will never turn those baby steps into a real, living breathing social media marketing program.  Everyone in the company needs to know what you are doing and be a part of the process.  Social Media Marketing is not just for MBA’s, it is the culture and core of your business today.  It is your brand.  It is what makes the consistency absolutely doable.

Steps 1 to 4 are just the beginning of the process begin to create success in the new age of business.  Next week we will talk about Employee Engagement. can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is your.

Feel free to send me an email with your questions and progress.
Part II Next week.

#socialmedia #branding #2015 #contentmarketing #goals

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