Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is a Realistic Optimist?


My Twitter bio includes the phrase “realistic optimist” and somebody recently asked me what that means.

I carefully included that descriptor when establishing my Twitter account.  Twitter bios are designed to be extremely short at 160 characters.  The two terms use up a precious 18 characters with space, so why include it?  And more importantly, what does it mean?

The term ‘realistic optimist” appears in my bio for both crass reasons, and more lofty, altruistic ones.

Crass Commercial Reasons:

The term ‘optimist” is a critical keyword. 

Twitter bios are searchable. That means folks use keywords when they seek other like-minded Tweeps to follow on Twitter. A bio is a form of SEO (search engine optimization) for connecting with fellow optimists via Twitter. 

Yes, pretty slick, eh? Crafting a Twitter bio to attract fellow optimists!  And you know, it works!  

Lofty, Altruistic Reasons

Nearly two decades ago, I read a seminal book about optimism by Martin Seligman entitled “Learned Optimism.” The practical strategies shared in that book have become a way of life for me.  I reread it annually. 

In a nutshell, Seligman’s scholarly work makes the case that optimism can be learned; and has everything to do with “explanatory style” and framing situations as a way to optimize energy and outcomes. 

Thus, including the term “realistic optimist” in my Twitter bio reflects the “true me” and patterns of thought I aim to cultivate.

So What Does It Mean?

Realistic optimists …believe they have to make success happen — through things like effort, careful planning, persistence, and choosing the right strategies. They recognize the need for giving serious thought to how they will deal with obstacles. This preparation only increases their confidence in their own ability to get things done.

I would modify that description as follows, weaving in key themes from Seligman’s research:

A realistic optimist cultivates an energy-affirming mindset, consistently seeking to frame obstacles as temporary setbacks, forging ahead by taking the best course of action one can at the time, as best as one realistically can. 

Well, that’s a tad wordy. Let's try this definition instead: 

A realistic optimist does the best one can, where one is, with what one has.

And that, dear reader, explains those two terms in my Twitter bio.  What’s your take on realistic optimism?  

And more importantly, what words do you use to describe yourself in your Twitter bio?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LinkedIn 101: Three Tips to Get You Started

For such a Twitter fanatic, it’s interesting to consider that I’ve been active in LinkedIn longer than other social media platforms. 

But it has only been in the last few months that I’ve witnessed the awesome power one can garner from into this business-oriented social networking site.

LinkedIn Usage
A recent report by www.btobonline.com found that 93% of business-to-business marketers are engaged in social media marketing. Twenty-six percent of the survey’s respondents cited LinkedIn as their most important social channel  See research here.  

LinkedIn usage facts of note: 
                LinkedIn has more than 60 million members
                A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second
                Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members

Given this growing enthusiasm,  how does one get started with LinkedIn? Here are three easy steps to begin, and make the most out of LinkedIn.
1) Build a Profile with Punch.   Join LinkedIn for free and start with your professional profile.  Be as complete as you can with professional history, education, a professional headshot and references. Remember, for those in the LinkedIn community, or even those who are not in LinkedIn and view your public profile, the profile page is the main content they will see. Make it count with relevant URLs, keywords, and by all means, keep it current over time.

2) Build Your Network of Connections.  Reach out to past colleagues, clients, industry associates by searching for them under “people” in the search box.  Chances are, they already use LinkedIn.  Ask to “connect” with them to build a relevant LinkedIn network. Ask those who truly know you, your company and its products or services, to write recommendations for you. These references, once you approved them, will appear in your profile.  As you attend conferences, remember to ask for LinkedIn connections to keep building your network.
3) Tread Carefully with Status Updates. Actively updating your LinkedIn status signals that you stay current and active in your field.  Yet beware! Status updates should offer relevant, professional content or link to industry-related content. LinkedIn isn’t a personal blogging platform.  It is a professional social network. Appropriate updates might include links to your professional blog, your website, industry events, articles by other thought leaders in your industry. Remember, don’t post too often.  In my mind, it’s a big no-no to post every Tweet as a LinkedIn update.  Don’t do it!  Multiple Tweets posted throughout the day look like spam on a LinkedIn page.   You will quickly lose you favor with your connections when you clog up their status update page.  (This is a rant, but hear me out: Tweets belong on Twitter.  Professional updates belong on LinkedIn.) 

Ramp Up Existing Activity
Have you been a member of LinkedIn for a few years now?  Why not try the following in 2012?
  • Make time to join groups, follow companies of interest, post in discussion forums, and other activity.
  • Keep track of third-party applications to help monitor activity, create content, engage with relevant connections, and build your network.  Box.net, Slideshare, and TripIt are only a few to consider.
  • Monitor LinkedIn new features. As an example, LinkedIn Events now provides users with event recommendations of interest based on profile information such as location, industry, and those in a network.

Parting Thoughts
LinkedIn offers tremendous power to those in marketing, or any business. 
Ignore at your own peril!

Friday, November 11, 2011

3 Useful, Recently Discovered Twitter Tools

What a wonderful Twitter world it is!

It is a privilege to now manage Twitter accounts for three different business-to-business clients (one under the auspices of Markit Strategies & PR), as well as my own Twitter presence

As previous posts have described, I’ve found Twitter to be a powerful social media tool for businesses to engage, connect and relate to relevant communities.

Each Twitter program I manage has its own goal – but at the most fundamental, in each client’s case, Twitter serves as a “micro-blog” tool to do the following:
  • Connect with relevant communities
  • Follow other like-minded organizations or individuals
  • Actively engage, listen within those communities
  • Share information in ways that the client itself might not through its website or other more traditional channels

There’s An App for That
As the graphic to the left shows, there are numerous third-party application tools that help make Twitter more productive.

The graphic organizes the tools by their function such as applications that help with collaboration, measurement, content development and so on.

Three out of a Million
Incredibly, in the last few months, the amount of Twitter third party applications has reached over one million!  

These applications help with reporting, following, content scheduling and much more.

A New App Every 1.5 Seconds
According to a post on the topic, "Application developers play a fundamental role in helping people get the best out of Twitter," the blog post said. "A new app is registered every 1.5 seconds, fueling a spike in ecosystem growth in the areas of analytics, duration and publisher tools."
That means in the time it is taking me to write this blog, hundreds of new apps will be developed!

Three out of a Million

So before too many more Twitter productivity apps are invented, here are my current favorites, recently discovered applications:

How far did your tweet travel?  This free, easy tool lets you search for a URL, Twitter name, phrase or hashtag. TweetReach analyzes tweets that match your search. Easy to read reports display the reach and exposure data for those tweets.  As an example, in one week, 31 Tweets including the handle of one of the accounts I managed reached over 20,000 people.

No matter the size of an account's followers, every once in awhile, it’s good to clean one’s Twitter feed! TwitCleaner is free. It scans Twitter followers and lumps them into groups, suggesting the folks one might want to stop following.  The categories are interesting – for instance, see the “snobs” who hardly follow anyone back.  See other folks who don’t ever Tweet or interact with anyone else.  There’s even a group flagged as “Self Obsessed (talks about themselves 50% of the time) and others who post nothing but links. By seeing these “undesirables” one can cull followers for a more fruitful Tweet experience.

Previous B2B Blog posts address tools that measure Twitter ROI and impact.  (Yes, I’m addicted to measurement applications!)   And here’s another one! TwitSprout (love the name) is a free tool now in Beta, delivering custom branded dashboards depicting historical growth, change in followers, influence indicators and other key usage metrics. Reports are free and useful for social media team members to measure actual Twitter engagement.   

Have you discovered favorite Twitter tools lately?  Share them here!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

5 Reasons Business-to-Business Organizations Should Blog

I am not an early adopter of blogging.
There, I said it. In fact, a few years back, I was fairly hostile about the idea.  Who cares what somebody says in his or her blog?  It amounts to a lot of blah-blah-blah-ging, I would snidely guffaw at any opportunity.  This t-shirt posted to the left made its way to a few colleagues as a way to illustrate the point.
I stand corrected.
In business-to-business marketing,  blogging has emerged as a powerful tool.
Yet many businesses don’t fully comprehend the critical importance of a blog. 
Key Considerations
Should YOU start a blog for your business, Mr. or Ms. Business Owner?  You should if you answer “yes” to the following questions:
---  Do you sell a product or a service?   
---  Are you an expert in your field?  Do you possess insight, tips, and knowledge about your field you wish to showcase to prospects and the larger community?
---- Do your prospects use the Internet?   (According to experts, 80% of b-to-b prospects’ questions are answered before interacting with sales.  That means prospects are hungry for online content about you, your brand, your product or service.  They are LOOKING for content to learn more about what you offer, before they even connect with you!)  
So Why Blog?
After one full year and over 40 posts for my own B2B blog post, and dozens of blog posts created on behalf of clients, here are five reasons business-to-business orgs should blog.
1)    Reinforces Thought Leadership.  A blog illustrate your expertise and leadership in your field.  Short, concise content providing tips, lessons learned and other insight  serves as an excellent way to build your brand.
2)     Communicates Value Proposition.   By sharing your expertise in your blog about timely issues related to your business, those related to your industry gain true value.  You’re essentially “giving away” your expertise. This works to build trust and good will.  A blog entices folks to seek your service/product, or engage with you to further the dialogue.
3)    Fuels Social Media Programs. A blog fuels social media like Twitter and LinkedIn, since content from a blog post makes a great Tweet or update on LinkedIn.  Your followers and connections will perceive you as an active expert, engaging in dialogue about relevant issues.
4)     Enables Engagement.   A blog lets you connect with clients, prospects, industry thought leaders, colleagues, media, partners and others in your community.  It has been an educational process for me – I’m always surprised when a colleague or associate mentions a B2B Blog post they’ve read.  This same experience has taken place with my clients. While posts might receive a lot of comments, Google Analytics data shows that web and blog traffic increases any time new content is posted.
5)    Expands Business Development. A blog helps expand business development efforts. As an example, from an SEO perspective alone, blogging is a smart way to go. You want people to find you up high on a search result. Google puts a priority on finding new and updated content. Sites with more frequent updates get more priority. Blogging with a regular cadence means there is fresh content on your site. If a blog post has a call to action (download a paper, sign up for a webinar), this fuels business develop and lead nurturing even more.

Can’t get enough B2B Blog posts about blogging?  See related post: 5 Lessons Learned from Blogging)    --- And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for Tweets about Tweeting!