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How to Sniff How Your Competitor is Doing and 3 Actions to Take When You Know

sniff-squirrel We forget sometimes that ads are content, blogs are content, and social sharing is content. Your competitors have content and it is all public and discoverable.

What makes it even more interesting is that your competitor’s influencers share content too and you can watch for that as well. You can see who is spreading the word for your competitors and helping THEM grow! That is gold, is it not?

3 actions you can take

It’s not what you can discover that’s so special (although it really is), it’s what you do with the data that counts. So here are 3 things you can do when you know what your competitor is up to:


1. Watch for your competitor’s top content and dissect what makes it work and what doesn’t. When you’re confident that you have nailed what makes one of their blogs work better than another one you can incorporate the winning approach in your own content (your marketing team should have a ball with this).


2. Pay attention to who your competitor’s influencers are; the people who share your competitor’s content so they can reach their target audience. You can add them to a watch list of potential influencers of your own brand and regularly look for non-poachy ways to start and grow relationships with them. If you learn that one of their influencers is the CEO’s husband, well, you know.


3. Learn what hashtags and communities your competitor’s influencers use to get the word out and spend some time in those online neighbourhoods yourself. Use their tags occasionally and visit the blogs they visit. It’s a great way to get to know what interests your community.


Added bonus: if you know the sentiment (positive, negative) that people feel towards your competitor’s content you can think of ways to get more positive content into the same online communities. Sleeze alert: there is a huge risk of coming across as tacky if you don’t think this through with some respect for your competitor and their fans.

How do you do this?BLUE-influence-check-sq

You can do it simply by paying attention and creating a scheduled time to regularly look at your competitor’s content. We actually use a tool called Measurely to run discovery campaigns that give us this and a bunch of other super valuable data for our clients. But if your brand community is still small you should be able to handle this with some regularly scheduled snooping and gathering of info into a spreadsheet.

It’s worth it. Your competitors are sharing content that they hope will interest the same people you are. Why limit the data you gather and learn from to just your own when you can learn from theirs too?

How to Free Money From Your Marketing Budget for Social

Rolling the dice on traditional media Advertising has always been a bit of a game of roulette. The famous quote that captures the angst of the business owner was portrayed by John Wanamaker nearly 100 hundred years ago when he said, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”

I promised I would not name names.

But in the past two years I have had several clients who cut over $1000 per month or more from their advertising budgets - and saw no drop or difference in their business.

What? In one case nearly $3000 per month with no discernible difference in the bottom line? What is going on here?

If you had a big budget twenty years ago, advertising was also a bit of a math formula - or at least so I was told by my business owning friends who fighting the good fight at that time. They tell me that once you had the right channel (TV, radio, or print) you could roughly figure that if you spend X% of your gross revenue, you would see a Y% bump in the bottom line.


Digital has disrupted those good old days.

I am not sure the good old days were really better.

Today there are more options and more voices clamoring for your advertising and marketing budget than ever before. Do you keep you space in the Yellow Pages? Is it worth paying for exposure in the business directories? How about search engine marketing? Or social media? Everyone seems to be on Facebook these days...

Making sense of the shift to digital and social business is one of the biggest challenges for small business owners and managers these days. The shift seems to elicit one of two reactions: “Oh yeah!” or “Oh no!”

Here are a couple of quick ideas to consider if you’ve “discovered” an extra $30,000 in your advertising budget this year. Yes, I know you deserve that long postponed vacation, but this is about low-hanging fruit that will make the best ROI of what you are already doing:

  • 2013 is the year that mobile has overtaken desktop use of the internet. Does your website work for mobile users? Make your website mobile friendly and an engine for lead generation in a social world
  • Are you doing search engine marketing? Get answers to your conversion questions because if you are trading $1 for $3, that is a deal you want to do all day long. Consider maxing out the traffic from your money keywords, and use re-targeting to keep your best contacts coming back until they are ready to buy
  • What can you do to socialize your business? How great would it be if your happy customers became a new sales team out there working 24/7 for you?

If you haven’t found excess money in your advertising budget, or are struggling to figure out what might be the best use of your hard earned dollars - you can make sense of this new chaos. The businesses who do, are going to own their competition in the near future. The ones who don’t can stick their head in the sand, because even in the slowest of markets - social business is becoming the new phone, and your customers are expecting you to answer.

If you want to make sense of your advertising budget, and get a better ROI on the dollars you are already spending, join us for this focused workshop and save thousands over the course of the year...

Traditional Marketing Can Help Build Your Brand Community (If You Want It To)

photo posted on The hope that most businesses have is that their advertising will buy them customers immediately. But social media has introduced the long game to every business and a bigger opportunity is lost if buying new customers is the only perceived benefit.

Marketing is the effort of generating awareness and demand for something. To reach large numbers of people who get their information primarily through traditional media, traditional advertising is hard to beat, especially for locally focused businesses.

If a local newspaper reaches 60,000 people and it produces 20 new customers, that’s an ROI you can judge for yourself. But if those 20 customers become members of a community that you nurture over the long-term, you have amplified the impact of your first advertising spend for many years as those 20 people continually think of you when they again need what you sell.

Traditional advertising can reach large numbers of people.


Traditional advertising can reach eyeballs within a certain, shrinking demographic that is still valuable to a lot of businesses. Social channels can then enable you to turn your new customer's interest into a relationship that lets you engage them and keep them interested.

Traditional advertising can help make people aware of what you sell, but big returns on your investment can only happen if you have a community that they can belong to that can continually meet their needs and keep you on their minds.

Fall 2013 Workshop: How to plan and pay for the shift from traditional marketing

Use traditional advertising to encourage people to contact you, buy your product, or walk in your door. But when that contact is made, make sure you have next steps planned to bring those interested people into your brand community where their relationship with you will mean far more in long-term sales than that first encounter.

Focus your online efforts on building a community through meeting people’s needs and interests with what you share. Focus your advertising efforts on converting people to become, not just customers, but community members. Loyalty, repeat sales, and long-term insight into what your customers want from you is what brand community building is all about.

Moving Pictures: Making and Sharing Social Videos

Greg hemmings records a video Two years ago I signed my team up to participate in a course to teach us how to build a social business. It lit a flame that has been burning ever since. Telling our company’s story using social channels has helped us build community around the world. The course was Sociallogical’s Understanding Social Business and, after completing the course, Sociallogical’s Jeff Roach and I discussed the possibilities of putting together a course about the power  and brand empowerment of video storytelling in the new digital landscape.

It took a year and a half to accomplish, but here we are! Hemmings House and Sociallogical are very excited to roll out our latest course, “Moving Pictures: Making and Sharing Social Videos”. This is an introductory course that will motivate you to pick up your own camera and begin producing content for your business immediately.

Video is considered one of the most effective communication tools in the social space. Businesses are now building their own production companies within their own walls to keep up with the demand for original and relevant content that supports the brand and the tribe.

My hope is that this course will ignite the same fire in you that the Understanding Social Business course did for my team and I. Once you realize that you have the power and the creative assets to tell your own story (and that your own story is truly epic), then this course will encourage you to get out there and shoot!

Pick One: Which Profile Is Your Main Profile?

Trevor Macdougall You may think that having a strong profile in all places might be only for the hyperconnected so I have a strong suggestion: pick one and beef it up.

While many of us have accounts on multiple websites, social networks, and our employer's sites, very few people pay attention to the quality of their online presence and the ease with which they can be reached by a client or partner. We have discussed before how your profile is your ticket to getting connected with others online but we never addressed which profile is the most important. I honestly don't think there is a best one for everyone but here is some food for thought:


Really, this is the most important profile for professional people in the western world. Your profile on Linkedin is comprehensive showing me your volunteer activities, who you're connected with that I might be connected with, as well as the richest display of your education and experience. If you don't have a sizable inheritance and need to make a living from your connections to one or more people, you need to be on Linkedin. If you are in a B2B role, you might want to make this your main profile that you give the most attention to.


Put aside your opinions of love or scepticism for Google+ as a social sharing channel and pay attention to this: your Google+ profile feeds your Google search results and Google search is how most people still find pretty much everything online - including connections. It is also the best profile for linking to all of the other places you can be found online and it includes one of my all-time favorite profile features for understanding another person's perspective: where have I lived before. If you want people to find you easily you might want to make Google+ your main profile. is like an online business card or a central hub for all of your other profiles. It has competitors but it is the most popular profile-only account you can have that doesn't have a social network behind it. It is easy to get, simple to use, attractive, and adapts your profile to a variety of screen sizes well. If you are picking one main profile to focus on, this might not be it, but if you have more than a couple that you give attention to, this might be a good place to bring them all together. I use it for my main URL:


The largest, most influential social network on the planet has a lousy profile format that not a lot of people rely on to get to know someone new. Facebook's profile is loose, un-standardized and sloppy and geared more for friends who know each other well than for discovery of someone new. However, Facebook does feature more personal preference type of details that might paint an endearing picture for you if you want to be known more for your interests than your experience. Artists, curators, and culture-lovers can show their favorites of all things well on Facebook and that might be your strength.


With a bio of only 160 characters and only a few other details like location, web link, and not much else, your profile on Twitter is too short and simple to ignore. Beef up your profile on Twitter because it will only take you a few minutes. But don't expect your profile on this channel to satisfy the interests of a connection who is trying to get to know you better. I simply would not recommend using Twitter as your main profile online. Link from it to something more comprehensive.

There are countless third-party profiles you can focus on and beef up and some of them can be very important, especially if they are specific to your industry and widely used by your colleagues. But the ones mentioned above are the big ones, in my opinion.

We don't all have time to be everywhere online and we certainly can't manage to support an endless collection of perspectives on who we are, what we've done, and why others might want to get to know us better - or hire us. But everyone needs one main profile that makes it easy to find out who they are, what they've done, and how to connect with them right now. What is your main profile and are you happy with what others will find there?

Why "My Opinions Are My Own" is a Waste of Precious Characters

Is it possible for an employee's opinions to be firewalled from their employer's by adding a clause or making a public statement that their opinions are independent? The short answer is no.

On Saturday morning we had a Hangout on a issue that we'll hear more about in the years to come. Here are a few points made in this Hangout:

  • If an employer doesn't address activity when it first arises there almost becomes an approval of the activity.
  • Using social media inappropriately certainly can result in the loss of your employment.
  • Whether or not you have it written in an explicit contract or not, you have an obligation of good faith toward your employer.
  • Depending on your position in the company, you are a reflection of your employer whether you're in your workplace or outside the workplace.
  • Your employer is entitled to expect you to act in good faith toward the company.
  • Sharing content that undermines relationships that are important to your employer may jeopardize your employment and no clause will save you.

Those are a few of the highlights. We were a little slow getting going but we got into a good discussion once we put the technical issues behind us (I'll have headphones next time). We had others want to join us on the Hangout but we started 30 minutes late and I'm sorry about that. We'll include other members next time.

If there is anything in this discussion that you would like me to go into greater depth in a future Hangout, please let me know in the comments below.

Mel Norton, BA, LLB is a member of Learn by Sociallogical™ and practices law in New Brunswick, Canada as a Partner with Lawson Creamer.

Like Running Naked Through the City Streets

Catherine Doucette ~ Training Consultant / Speaker My business is teaching, talking, and sharing. In fact, blogging  about training or leadership is one of my favourite parts of owning a business. So why was that upload button on YouTube this time so scary? Why did I feel the urge to inhale an entire chocolate bar or phone a friend?

It was March 1, 2013. With the help of the ever-talented Elaine Shannon, I had recorded a 7-minute keynote talk  to show people are inspired by the message of my second book Be you. Everything else is optional. I am one of about 60 people in North America competing for a publishing contract with Hay House, the largest publisher of self-help books on the planet. The video was required for the competition.

But this was more difficult than uploading my video blog about yoga at home or walking through Rockwood Park. It was scarier. Who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did I think I was? Here I was about to share with the world that I am a keynote speaker and trainer –ironically, something I’ve done for 20 years. But this was new. I was publishing a piece with my original thoughts and story for the entire world to see. And judge.

Steven Pressfield’s words from the book War of Art came back to me:

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

A deep breath, and I pressed that big bad upload button. You know what happened? Not much. Nobody knew it was there. I had to have courage once more.

Using my social media relationships on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter, I began sharing the link and asking people to watch.

Publishing this video and spreading the word felt an awful lot like walking naked through the city streets. I really wanted to vomit.

What happened next?

To quote Sally Field, “They like me! They really like me!”

More than 1,300 people watched the video in two months with 100-plus positive comments and likes. That means more than 1,300 people now know about my training consulting and speaking business and my second book. I was offered a keynote because of it, plus a gig doing public speaking workshops at a large corporation. I have walked into networking events, and strangers have recognized my name because they saw my video.

When you do something well and share it online, it gives you instant credibility. Clients are convinced before you ever walk in the door.

Much courage is needed. But as long as the video is not actually of you running naked through the streets, I highly recommend that you upload a sample of your expertise on YouTube and share it with your networks.

What is one way you can share your work professionally on social media?

Catherine Doucette BPR, MEd is a Member of Learn by Sociallogical™ and teaches businesses how to create and facilitate training with a measurable impact on productivity and the bottom line.

Business Cards: Not Just For Scoring Free Lunches Anymore

 'Peggy, you're not still using a Rolodex, are you? Get with the program.'

There is a boardroom scene in American Psycho where protagonist Patrick Bateman, the handsome, wealthy, sociopathic Wall Street banker, trades business cards with colleagues.

His appreciation of card stock, lettering and typeface is practically erotic. And the status envy induced by a co-worker’s superior card design is borderline psychotic.

“Oh my god, he even has a watermark,” Bateman gushes.

Bret Easton Ellis’s harrowing novel was published in 1991, but the card lust it describes already seems quaint.

I recently ran out of business cards and hesitate to order more. I only feel the absence when someone gives me theirs – it is simply good manners to reciprocate. Beyond etiquette, though, what are they FOR, anymore?

In the pre-digital days, it made sense to amass fat files of clients and leads. Gathering contact information back then was cumbersome. Now, though, a business card is clutter I am more likely to lose or spill coffee on than actually USE.

Here’s the thing: when someone gives me their card it is almost always in person, which means I have already met them. The connection is made. I likely have their contact information. And if not, if they are even remotely on their social-media game, they will be easy to find.

I’m not the only one questioning the card. As Matt Stevens noted in his 2012 Los Angeles Times piece ‘Passing out business cards is quickly becoming passé,’ the former business staple is becoming an anachronism. Today, Stevens writes, many people find them “irrelevant, wasteful - and just plain lame.”

As comedian Mitch Hedberg puts it:

“I got a business card ‘cause I want to win some lunches. That’s what my business card says, ‘Mitch Hedberg: Potential lunch winner.’ Give me a call, maybe we’ll have lunch? If I’m lucky.”

Hedberg’s  joking, but he gets at something about business cards today - acting on them is unlikely.  It would be lucky indeed, if they got you a call. You want to create a card that compels action.

Better yet, don’t give them out, get them. Don’t wait for the other guy or gal to get in touch; make collecting cards your goal and put the onus to act in your own  hands.

If you aren’t ready to shred your paper cards, there are ways to optimize their social media potential, which means more friends and follows, more ways to share your story with potential customers and develop the sort of relationship that will mean, in the end, more business.

That little piece of paper should be pulling in tandem with your online presence and social media strategy.

Here are some tips:

Include social media links.

That means your Twitter handle, Facebook name, or blog site. And use social media icons on the card, for visual impact.

Step it up with QR Codes.

Personalize a Quick Response code with your deets. Scanned by a smartphone, it can automatically send text, photos, videos, music and URLs. Create a digital business card that can be beamed up.

Borrow from social media design.

Profile pictures aren’t just for online. Add a photo to your business card to make the connection between you and what you do even stronger. Some designers have even formatted paper business cards to look like social media sites, creating a nice visual bridge between the physical and virtual.

Get visual.

Pinterest and Instagram are popular because they are beautiful and interesting to look at. Use eye candy.

Create a one-off.

Design a business card for a particular event or promotion to drive traffic to your social media streams.

Skip them.

If you are a true trailblazer, save a tree and create a digital card that can be sent as an attachment or traded by apps such as Bump or LinkedIn.

Are you one of the brave pioneers who have gone cardless? How have you made business cards work for you in this digital age? Are paper cards destined to become nothing more than pocket spam, their mother-ship the Rolodex headed for the scrap heap of office history? Or do the little cards have a place in the future of networking?

If you have some feedback, let’s do lunch.

What It Means To "Be Authentic" Online

3126124170_da01234924_o Here's a simple suggestion when considering whether your profiles and activity online are "authentic": if someone who only knew you online met you in person would they be surprised?

No one should ever be surprised by your appearance or your behaviour because you are the same person online and as you are offline. The online you matches the in-person you. I think it is unwise to risk deceiving and likely disappointing people who otherwise had no expectations of you except for the inaccurate and inauthentic version of you that you carefully cultivated for them.

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” ― Donald MillerA Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Why is authenticity important?

Many people are complaining that the word authentic is over-used and has lost its meaning (here are a few). That may be true but words often lose their impact when their meaning is forgotten.

Here are the first definitions for the word "authentic" from

  1. not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.
  2. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified...

Relationships are investments we ask others to make in us and no one wants to make a bad investment. So, like it or not, we carefully choose who we'd like to get to know better based on the evidence we have and we invest accordingly. And just like buying a product that doesn't match the marketed promises, disappointment can lead a person to devalue their investment and invest no more.

Who wants that? Some even define the difference between expectations and reality as stress! Who wants to cause stress to a potential friend?

By removing the filters and presenting ourselves as authentically as possible we can have confidence that few will be cashing in the investments they have made in us. We can trust that they know the real us and that our relationship won't be undermined by some revealed truth in the future. Authenticity puts our relationships on a more sure footing.

We all do it.

We have all written resumes that embellish, put on clothes, makeup, or a hairstyle that skews our appearance, and changed our vocabulary to match the person we're talking to.

Most of us find it hard to talk about ourselves. A few years ago when reviewing my online profiles I found it hard work to come up with creative ways to explain myself. So I decided to stop it and make it simple. I started with "culture change excites me", because it does, and I went from there. My avatars turned into simple pics of my face in the kind of clothes I wear every day (I wear a suit and tie maybe a dozen times each year) and my most recent pic was taken by my wife, unplanned, on a day I hadn't shaved (which is once or twice a week).

The goal is to be you. We are already interesting and attractive to people who we would want to get to know better and possibly work with or else why would we? The effort to deceive always backfires.

Take a look at your profiles and some of the things you have shared recently and ask your friends to do the same for you. Then ask; would someone be surprised by any of it if they met you and spoke to you in person?

A Good Snapshot: The Social Media Ecosystem in Late 2012

The Social Media Ecosystem Report - Rise of Users, Intelligence and Operating Systems With such rapid change and extreme disruption to business caused by social media in recent years, many wonder where this is all headed. How about if we start with where we are now?

This Fall the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a comprehensive paper on the state of the social media ecosystem which, for those who need to deeply understand something before investing in it, is very insightful and appears very accurate. As expected, it's not an entertaining piece, but it's worth a read over the weekend and for holding on for future reference.

You can grab the report titled The Social Media Ecosystem Report - Rise of Users, Intelligence and Operating Systems. Below are a few excerpts that jumped out for me as valuable, sometimes surprising, and sometimes validating of my suspicions.

What do you think? Does this information confirm or will it change any of your business plans?

"You as a brand have to be completely confident about your position, because you will get criticism. You will have a negative reaction.  If you didn’t get a negative reaction, that means you’re standing neutral and you have no point of view.  Who wants to participate in that?” ‐ Frank Cooper, CMO Global Consumer Engagement, PepsiCo

“Facebook and Twitter have become online gate keepers to all things social”

"Gameification is the most common tool for glossing over the lack of a value proposition (i.e., when tools and apps offer little or no true functionality) – it appeals to users’ desire to acquire and amass things (real or fake) that show status."

"The social ecosystem is anchored by platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Path) that focus on users’ relationships (i.e., the “social graph”) and offer broad utility and interaction..., interest based platforms (e.g., Fancy, Spotify, Pinterest) offer broad functionality but are vertically focused, engaging the user’s “interest graph”."

"LinkedIn has been building off its “professional graph” to create an “economic graph”, wherein professional identities – on a global basis – are available, making it easier for both human resources and capital to flow to where they can best be leveraged."

"Social media services have begun to significantly transform the way businesses interact with each other, both internally, on an enterprise level, and externally, with customers."

"Apart from CRM, enterprises are also using social media for internal non‐customer facing initiatives, such as talent management and resource optimization."

"A new breed of Social Intelligence companies – technology driven agencies – will be charged with generating actionable insight and defining social ROI."

"A brand’s social strategy starts with identifying its entire audience on and off channel, segmenting the audience into different types of users, and developing an engagement strategy for each type."

"Success is uniquely defined by each company and its own campaign approach or goals.  The ultimate goal is to amplify the earned media to shift or decrease the total media cost for brands."

"There is no silver bullet in social media marketing, and success must be uniquely defined."

"Social media has introduced a new form of communication between consumers and brands that allows for an around‐the‐clock, real‐time marketing and interactive customer experience.  Consumer adoption of social will continue to proliferate as companies offer high value and relevant engagement opportunities."

The Importance of Online First Impressions

Virtual First Impressions In the business world, we aren’t meeting in office spaces and conference rooms as much as we once used to. Instead, we meet online – a place where we are also making a lot of first impressions.

While you carefully select your business wardrobe, keep yourself manicured and fresh looking, and are mindful of where and how you are seen professionally, how much care do you give to how you represent yourself online, where most people will meet you for the first time?

Most people will meet you for the first time online

Our virtual images have become increasingly important. Leather chairs and mahogany desks are being replaced with social media avatars, YouTube clips, twitter pics, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogs, Facebook, and websites. Our online appearance is how we are presenting ourselves to potential clients and customers every day of the week, almost exclusively.

How does your online first impression measure up?

Below is a sample of headshots and links to the profiles of the people they belong to. I commend the recognition by their companies of the importance of a fresh, clean, professional virtual image for the company and especially, for their people. Click through to their profiles and take a look at a few of their before and afters - look at what they used to have versus their new ones...

Do your online avatars represent the real people that you want your clients to get to know? Follow Kelly Lawson's board Headshots (Avatars) on Pinterest.

What Telling Authentic Stories Really Means

Whether you tell stories that are fictional or fact, it is critical to tell your stories with authenticity. Authentic storytelling does not necessarily mean it has to be factually accurate, or even real. It just means that it needs to be told with honesty, and in a unique way.

I was speaking to Sociallogical’s Jeff Roach this evening, and he mentioned a quote that a photographer once told him. The photographer was actually my brother Mark, and he told Jeff,

“…a great photographer (or in this case, storyteller) is not one that necessarily knows the technology of image capture inside and out, or perfect framing…a great photographer is someone who sees the world in a different way.”

When I think of great stories to tell for my documentary film projects, I always keep that philosophy in mind. There are a million different ways that you can tell the same story. The ones that resonate with audiences are ones that are told from an authentic perspective that are unique and interesting.

Many stories that are successful in attracting and engaging audiences are ones that are inspired by everyday experiences, which are meditated on, and told in a fresh way.

Andrew's Authentic Story of Culture Shock

Andrew MacCormack is a Hemmings House filmmaker. I have seen his storytelling skills evolve over the years to the point where he is producing award-winning content that attracts attention and builds audiences. After a trip to China to visit his girlfriend (at the time. Now his wife, Julie), Andrew came back with a new perspective on culture, travel and self awareness.

Andrew was born and bred on Prince Edward Island in a rural area where many young people leave as soon as they are able. I chatted with Andrew on the phone tonight to get a perspective on his experience in China, and how it inspired a beautiful film that he later produced.

“Growing up on a small rural island, I dreamt about getting out and seeing the world. I traveled to at least two dozen countries in my twenties, and always felt comfortable experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. I felt like I was a very adaptable traveler - until I experienced China. China, urban and rural, gave me a massive sense of culture shock and realized I was in the midst of experiencing a place that was vastly different from the place I grew up.

“After spending 6 weeks traveling there I returned home to rural Atlantic Canada and remember reading a story of a man who never left Prince Edward Island, my home province. This was fascinating. Tragic but yet very admirable. I then thought of the millions and billions of people who live in big cities throughout China and the world, many of whom don't have the means or ability to travel like I do. There is a lot of value and wisdom that can be gained by knowing one place really well."

Andrew returned to China earlier this year armed with a stronger understanding of Chinese culture - and a camera! He produced a film that was inspired by his authentic experience of culture shock, and the questions that he had about the differences (and similarities) of people from two completely different cultures.

Please take 7 minutes to watch his beautiful film Here & Away

Andrew is a brilliant storyteller. He reflects on experiences that he has in life, asks questions, and builds stories based on his authentic experiences. His films are engaging and interesting because he tells these stories from a perspective that no one else could.

Even the most ordinary experience, people or place can be the focus of incredibly engaging stories.

What experiences in everyday life do you have that could be told in a unique and creative way?

The Greatest Story You Can Tell

I had a very story-themed day earlier this week that reaffirmed for me that the best stories that any of us can tell are the ones we believe in, are connected to, and share with pleasure.

At a workshop focused on entrepreneurship in a new economy, the agenda followed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and I presented during the Love and belonging part. As an entrepreneur entrusted to tell the stories of others for a living, love is foundational to how I approach my craft and run my business and I had a great time leading this workshop.

The morning workshops dealt with the themes of Physiology and Safety. After lunch was my bit on Love and belonging as well as Esteem. Then, to wrap up the experience, well into the night the group enjoyed a music party that celebrated the top of the pyramid: Self-actualization.

About thirty people attended my workshop. I first asked how many in the circle were entrepreneurs and close to ten owners raised their hands. I asked them each to take a few minutes to tell their story.

Having the opportunity for them to present themselves and explain what their small business provided was truly enlightening for all of us. If I did not ask these young entrepreneurs to share their story, there is a good chance the rest of the room would not have had the opportunity to know the incredible resources they had sitting around them.

Love Your Own Stories

The thesis of my presentation is that we must LOVE our own stories, and share our stories with the world. Our stories include:

  • The stories of others - sharing the successes of a client, a vendor, or even a competitor
  • The stories of products or services that will give value to your listeners
  • The stories of yourself and or your team - always believe in the story you tell and don’t forget that you are the best in the world at what you do! And always tell your own stories with humility and without boasting.

When you share your stories, along with celebrating and sharing the stories of others, you form a supportive community that becomes an attractive magnet to others for more than just the information your stories transfer.

I left the workshop happy that I could share my story by encouraging others to love and share their own.

I jumped into my Dodge Caravan (yes there is a great story behind my choices of vehicles) and turned my satellite radio to the Grateful Dead Channel. The song that was playing was titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. I smiled as this song title validated my own story.

My story is centered around my mission to remind people, teams, brands and movements that their stories are relevant. My ambition is to empower people to share their relevant stories to the world with passion and effectiveness.

If a storyteller loves and believes in their own stories - and authentically (and humbly) shares them as if they are the greatest stories ever told - they will have engaged listeners. And engaged listeners are what brand evangelists and loyal customers are made of.

What stories can you tell on demand with pleasure?

What the Maturing of Social Media Use Means For Business

Mature In the mainstream, people are no longer excited just to be using social media. Users are becoming sophisticated about how they allow themselves to be interrupted by notifications and how they filter people and content based on their interests. This inevitability has implications for business and presents challenges especially for businesses who have been slow to embrace it.

The Fad is Over

The fad phase is over. That doesn't mean it is going away, it means online social discourse is the norm. As a society, we're not going back to relying solely on traditional media and the trends toward social will continue in that direction. But businesses can't count on just being there to ensure success in reaching their communities.

The novelty of making a video, posting a tweet, or writing a blog isn't enough for your audience anymore.

In the same way, just creating an event on Facebook or Google+ and sharing it is not enough to get people's attention anymore. Social media has become overwhelmed by events, especially on Facebook, so that it can be difficult to stand out or for people to even notice your event before the date arrives.

Tenets of Advertising Are Back

Advertising has been about getting noticed and remembered as well as having a clear call to action that appeals to your target market. Social media had a short run that could shortcut those first two requirements simply because it was on a novel platform with an attentive audience. Since social media has been mainstream for a few years now and the field crowded, the novelty is fading and getting attention online is becoming increasingly competitive.

Businesses that are not truly social will never be heard. Posting brand messages like an advertisement is not social and won't give you the engagement you're looking for. Getting to know the people in your community on a personal level is the only way to make the social channel work.

Unless a business can compel people to share its content because of its relevance to their lives, its importance to their friends, and the humanity of its approach, media creation will be a wasted investment.

The two principal measures of whether or not a piece of media content will be shared socially is 1. is it informative? and 2. Is it sharable? Without a yes to those two measures, your content is going nowhere.

Mature With Your Community

Businesses can buy media but they can't buy social. There is a learning curve that social media imposes that takes time and forces a company to really consider who they are and who they serve. Get started on the learning curve and know that there is no solution that doesn't involve you and your team using social media on a personal level.

How else can you be "social"?

Hangouts Are Not Your Parent's Soda Shop

Screenshot from First +Hangout Good times. Good times.

Yesterday afternoon 8 friends and clients of Sociallogical jumped on a free, high quality, responsive and easy to use video conference that was fun and shocked the heck out of more than a few of us. After our brief conversation, the whole thing was automatically uploaded to YouTube in HD quality where it can forever be watched and shared, hopefully for the benefit of others who want to give it a try.

This great experience was courtesy of Google+ and its Hangout feature and was simply a 23 minute chat for friends and clients who expressed interest in trying it out to do just that. We planned it last week, called it a Sociallogical Google+ Hangout Intro intended to last 5-15 minutes, and we broadcast it "On Air", which meant that anyone in the world could watch our discussion live as it was happening - and now anyone can watch the recording of it forever.

Want to try this? Learn How To Get Ready For Your First Google+ Hangout

I don't plan to blog about every +Hangout we host or take part in. But watching people experience the power and simplicity of this new medium for the first time is a pleasure and I urge you to watch a bit of it (below at the end of this post) if you have never seen it before. I actually started recording it early because I didn't want to miss the surprise and pleasure on people's faces. A couple of people had trouble using their microphones or webcams for the first time, but that's expected. They won't have that problem next time.

A Powerful Brand Builder

Just think of how powerful this tool can be to reach an audience and build a brand community:

Idea 1: Discuss new trends with leaders of your industry Idea 2: Instruct your clients on something they're interested in learning Idea 3: Give demos of your product to clients, potential clients or partners

There are lots of ideas that you can come up with to help your business by using it to build community around your brand. Think about it and let me know what they are in the comments below. We love learning new ways to be social.

And let us know if you'd like to join us on another "first-timers" Hangout sometime soon because it really was a good time.

Special thanks to Garth Frizell from Prince George, BC who was our experienced guide on this brief tour. And I'm so happy that Kelly Lawson, David Hayward, Greg Hemmings, Judith Mackin, Sarah Tapley and Chris Boudreau were all able to join us.

How To Get Ready For Your First Google+ Hangout

Google+ Hangouts are an engaging social media channel that

  1. connects you with guests and partners in a personal way,
  2. allows you to speak directly to your audience, and
  3. creates highly sharable and engaging content for your brand.

Because we host Google+ Hangouts regularly, we have prepared this simple outline for getting ready if you have never joined a Hangout before. If you're already using Google+, skip to step 3...

1. Get a Gmail or Google Apps account

Most of us already have one of these, but if you don't have a account or an email account that uses Google Apps (gmail for your business), you'll need to get one. Since Google+ is the only social media channel that requires you to have a specific kind of email account, this is a necessary step if you want to get the most out of the Google suite of services (Youtube, maps, gmail, etc.)

I have a account that I forward my other personal and work-related email accounts to so I only have one inbox and it is tied to the other great services I use each day.

2. Get a Google+ Account

Even if you're already using Gmail, you still need to say yes to sharing across Google's services by setting up your Google+ account.

3. Get the Tech

On a computer:

On a mobile device:

4. Respond to the invitation from your friend

If you're getting ready for your first +Hangout that someone else is inviting you to, you'll receive an invitation in your Notifications section (a little box that lights up red in the top right of your Gmail or Google+ page - or any Google service page, for that matter - when there are any messages). The invitation to +Hangout will be there and all you have to do is click the link to join! And if you don't see it there, visit the Google+ profile page of the host and the invite should be one of their more recent posts.

A Few STRONG Recommendations

Use a headset with a microphone. I just use the headset that came with the iPhone I bought several years ago and it works like a charm. Most laptops, tablets and other devices made in recent years have built-in webcams but even those will often pick up a lot of the sounds around you and not just your voice. A personal microphone on a headset is much better at just picking up your voice, making the experience better for everyone.

Join a Trial Run


Every Thursday morning at 10am EST Sociallogical hosts a FTH (First Time Hangout) for anyone who wants to try one out for the first time or just practice with a new change to your video or audio setup.

No pressure. No agenda. Just practice.

You'll need to add the host, Sociallogical, to your Google+ circles to see the invite. You'll see an invitation to the next FTH in our recent Google+ posts so you can say Yes and get notified of the next one.

Do you have any questions that we don't answer here? Let us know in the comments below.

Summer Is More Important For Renewal Than the New Year

Summer Is More Important For Renewal Than New Year Despite the hype and pressure around New Years resolutions, when it comes to making real change happen in the life of a person or a business, summer vacations are much more potent and enabling. While the phenomenon may be more confined to businesses in the parts of the world with short summers, the culture and mood created by the need to capitalize on the warmth and comfort of the season has to have an effect on any business that has any connection to these areas.

New Year Lacks The Energy and Spirit of Change

The significance of a new number on the calendar aside, The dead of winter and post-spending spree is a lousy time to expect great change from ourselves and others. The time to learn something new and make fundamental change is not when the pressure of survival is upon our culture and when short days and cold climates sap the energy from our people and have many of us longing for a vacation or for spring to arrive.

New Years is a time of reflection, for sure. It may even be a good time to let go of things that aren't working. For many businesses, it's a time to let go of relationships that aren't working also, which doesn't always help the mood of the business community either.

We shut down in the winter. We hibernate. We get cozy and focus on family and others who are closest to us. We sit by roaring fires, read books, and eat "comfort" food.

Summer Is When We Open Up

Summer is when a good part of our northern societies take vacation, replenish our vitamin D, our recreational pursuits, and our social relationships, and generally open ourselves up to possibilities, new beginnings, and new energy.

Even if we're not among the lucky ones to have vacation time in the summer, those of us who are left to work, generally do so with less chaos, less demanded of us, and there is more support for a social tone to our workday. Business golf days, working remotely on patios, backyards, and even from the cottage are more often tolerated or even encouraged during this season.

The foods we eat tend to be more local, fresh, and nourishing. The air we breathe is more often straight from the outdoor source and the sunlight is warm and comforting.

This is the perfect time of the year to learn something new and take on a new change. This is the time of year to breathe deep and welcome something we have put off for a long time. We all want to return to September energized and ready for growth and summertime is the season to do the prep work for growth and change.

What Change Are You Using Your Summer For?

Summer may not be the time to make change but it can certainly be the time to open ourselves to it. The books we read on vacation, the student interns with their youthful perspectives, or the new/renewed friendships and conversations we enjoy can feed us with new ideas and directions.

This summer I am finishing two books I started a while ago: Trust Agents, and The Identity Society (please read along and discuss with me if you like). I like books that make me think in a new way and often avoid the how-to type. I have been exercising more and have returned to cycling after a 25 year break (slowly, of course). I also intend to introduce a regular daily strength training routine - which I desperately need. The most important thing I plan to do this summer is slow down and spend less time working on non-essential things. Especially with a new baby on the way, I don't want to live a busy life anymore, I want to be productive and energized. I will need to shift from multi-tasking to focused work.

While you are open and rested, what do you intend to do to set yourself and your business on a course for success in the coming year? How are you feeding yourself this summer?

Social Media Is Not Busy Work, It's Business Intelligence

Social Media Is Not Busy Work, It's Business Intelligence While social media gurus push hard for businesses to be busy writing content, posting links, and sharing media, most businesses can't help but become discouraged by what appears to be a lot of work without an obvious connection to sales.

While I see the matter quite differently, I understand the barrier and believe it exists because not everyone understands the real opportunity social media presents.

Business Intelligence Is the Big Prize

I have said many times that social media is in its infancy. But even at this early stage, gathering data and painting a picture of what a customer wants, why they want it, and how you succeed or fail to provide it is the great gift of social media.

Today there are powerful tools that give us an enormous amount of data that could employ teams of people to interpret. But it will get easier over time as tools provide more value beyond just the data. Even now, by staying focused on continuously improving your method of gathering data and interpreting it to honestly answer the big questions will keep you ahead of customer expectations and ahead of your competitors.

Start With a Question

Social media doesn't become social until business leaders become curious about their customers. Curiosity will create questions that you desperately need answered and those questions should start conversations that can help you give a better service worth paying for.

Start with a question you really need to have answered and start asking that question online. Ask it through the pictures, videos, blogs and tweets that you share, and answer the comments as they come in with conversation.

Social Media Strategy Belongs With Those Who Set Business Strategy

All of the traditional business functions need to take part in this effort. Public relations, marketing, sales, and human resources need to participate in the brand community but social media isn't just a benefit to any one of them and should not be owned by any one of them.

Social media is a lever that serves the bigger goals of the company and needs to be led by the leaders of the business, not any one department.

Here's my question that will help me serve you better: Who owns social media for your business and why?

If I Can't Find You, I Can't Hire You

Empty Seat If I want to find you online, can I? Five minutes of searching for my name on Google, LinkedIn, or Twitter should easily produce options to learn a bit about me, what I do, and - most importantly - how to reach me. And if a simple search like that doesn't yield results, I'm in big trouble.

Following on a great post by Trent Seely early this year on this concept for finding a new career, I think it's important to point out that the same need to be found and reached applies to those of us who need to constantly grow our network of connections and online reputation to grow our careers.

There's a lot of talk about search engine optimization, content creation and socializing online to grab attention so your target customer finds you and becomes interested in you. But what if a customer already knows who you are and wants to buy what you sell? Can they find you and connect with you?

We Meet Our Needs in Different Ways

This won't come as much of a shock, but most people don't look for people or businesses in the phone book any more. Organization-based business directories that are isolated from the mainstream services like Google+ Local or LinkedIn are of limited value. People who want to find you will go first to the tools that have given them the best results in the past and it's been a long time since the yellow pages has been the trusted resource it used to be.

Google Search is still #1 and should find something on you that will allow me to connect with you. Is it your LinkedIn profile? Your page? Your business website? A news item you were featured in? Whatever it is, how many more clicks will it take me to send you an email or find your phone number.

Social Search is basically searching for keywords or user accounts on any of the online social networks (Google now being one of them). On Twitter you can find me and you can find posts in which my name was mentioned in a tweet. From there you can mention me and I'll hear it or send me a private Direct Message if we are already following each other.

On LinkedIn you will find me and 212 others with the same name as me. Because my photo, business name, location, and industry are all listed in the search results, you only need to identify one of those things to identify me, click my profile, and send me a message.

Google+ and Facebook are very similar in that people tend to be a lot less diligent about keeping their profiles complete and current on those channels. This is not wise since Facebook currently has the largest population of any social network and your Google+ profile is most likely to be found in a Google search, the granddaddy of search options.

Non-Existent - Cannot Be Found or Connected With

I worked with a large, international consulting company in 2011 and conducted a high level audit of 30 regional leaders before an off site session with them. I created a 10-point non-scientific scale (based on a few measuring scales like Klout and PeerIndex) to give me a sense of where they are at so I could help them. At the top end of the scale was "10 - Thought Leader, who has a large, niche audience, whose content is often amplified, and trusted." At the bottom end was "0 - Non-Existent- cannot be found or connected with."

From this senior group of consultants, in a company dependent entirely on the strength and reputation of their people, no one scored above a 2. Described as "2 - Observer - accounts on 3 networks, little to no activity." It isn't until 4 on the scale that "strong profiles" that allows people to connect easily emerges on the scale. Consider the challenges a business like this will face in the coming years as online reputations are increasingly important and their greatest asset - their people - have no online reputation to speak of.

It's Not Social But It's a Start

I have counselled many times that just getting accounts and not using them is not good for business. People won't want to connect with you on a social channel if it is obvious that you don't use it.

However, having complete profiles with the options turned on for visitors to connect with you directly is an open door for those who know already that they'd like to talk to you. And that's a great start.

Do you still find it hard to find some people you want to hire or connect with online?

The Biggest Myths About Social Media

The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) are real but they have inspired many myths and silly pursuits through history What are the biggest myths of social media and social business that you have come across as a consultant or have dispelled as you have learned more about social media use in business?

This is not meant to mock the wrong-headed but to be a collection to help others steer clear of misconceptions that can take them down the wrong path or lead them away from a great opportunity. Here are a few from my list:

The 3 things on my list were easy to choose as they are incredibly common. If you end up blogging about any of the items on your list or have good resources to support them, please share links with your list.

What are the biggest social media myths from your experience? Please share in the comments.