Example

Do you ever just watch a video and it makes you think? This one actually touched on many things I have been thinking about lately as it correlates to social media and how we present ourselves.

Ironically, this is something I have had friends write about in the past as well. The idea of personal branding and how we present ourselves and grade our on lives is not a new revelation. The thoughts provoked in this video is nothing new as well. It relates to personal social branding and how we grade ourselves on how we present our life in public. Social networks have created this new environment and…in many ways…we are pioneers when we don’t even know it. But now I am digressing…I want to actually take a look at what this video is addressing and what I think about it.

Are we really lonely?

I would argue yes…at least from my perspective. There are others that will disagree and that is probably because they have different life experiences. For me, this last year has been a journey into myself and how I deal with situations, feelings, friends and experiences. While it is enlightening in many ways…it is also eye opening in exposing areas that need drastic improvement.

In a world that you can share every thought, feeling and experience…there is a false realization that we are actually communicating. Are we talking to each other? Yes. But are we really communicating is the real question I ask myself a lot.

That lucky number 150

The video states that we are only capable of creating intimate relationships with 150 people. For me…that seems a little bit of a pipe dream. While I would like to think I am capable to create that many close relationships…the reality is that I am not. For others that might be true but that is just not in my bag of tricks. I am the guy that puts on the “dick face” (as my wife likes to call it) when I go to get the mail. I don’t want to talk to anyone and I like it that way. I have a really hard time remembering peoples names. I just can’t get to that level with that many people.

Unfortunately, with modern day social media, I get a false sensation of actually getting “intimate” with that many people and more. I get to see your name in front of my face and what you are doing. Of course, this is your version of what you are doing at the time just like what you see of my life is what I chose of your to see in my own translation. The ironic part is that it is also all completed with a single person looking at a phone or computer just like me typing this at this point in time.

Conversation vs. Communicating

Over the past couple of months, I have really tried to take an honest look at the conversations I have online versus actually communicating online. If I am going to be truthful with myself…you guys see the best of what I want you to see whether it is a good or bad experience, situation or feeling. It is the edited version of me. In person…there is no editing. Well, at least you will be able to tell I am trying to with the uncomfortable silences or pauses.

While I do believe that we all have the best intentions online…at least for me (sorry if I repeat that over and over again. I am just trying to project the feelings of others)…I can look back now at how much I edit and proofread my own life on social networks. The weird part about this is that it creates the same situation I hate in business that you find with email (especially in the beginning of email).

The eyes reading your words never really get the full meaning of what you are saying. 

lonelinessHow many times have you had to explain your words in type because the other side didn’t read it the same way you were typing it? How many times did you obsess about every word and rewrite things numerous times before making it live?

For me at least…a lot. It is a difficult thing to deal with in a digital world. There isn’t that human connection through speech that levels the playing field. Espcially over the last year and a half or so, I feel like I have had plenty of conversation with friends (life circumstances have made it more difficult to get together on a regular basis), but I have had far less actual communication between friends. That connection that you get from face to face talking is not the same in social and typed text.

I can actually think of several friendships that have been strained due to this. Honestly, it makes me sad. Not because I feel that it is one person’s fault because it isn’t. It is the reality of a digital world where edited text is seen and interpreted by the other side. Everyone has their own life experiences that effects how they read or write words. It doesn’t make it wrong. It is just how it is.

So are we really more lonely thanks to our new digital world?

I would argue yes and no for my life. I do have the ability now to keep in touch with people that I don’t get to see as often. I get to share the points in my life that bring me happiness, sadness…and frankly the ones I just find funny that don’t mean anything at all. But as the video says above…these are all the edited versions I decide to show. And as I just stated…that might be translated differently on the other side because that human interaction got reduced to a computer or cell phone screen…and that…by definition makes you actually alone. For me…it does make me lonely.

Loneliness is not an innovation as the video tries to hook you in with. It has been here way before the digital age and it will be here with any other “next big thing” as well. I do think that our current state allows people to act like they are not lonely when they really are because they confuse internet conversation with communication. You are getting the best self marketing of the people you see in text…and that isn’t always translated correctly. That doesn’t even take into a fact of current circumstances or predispositions to feelings that people aren’t aware of.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I need to try harder. I need to make sure I don’t substitute digital for real life. In the past (before we had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), I would actually have to pick up the phone or hang out with friends to find out what is going on in their lives. The reality is that I probably got a to more interaction and communication through that than online. It takes more effort but it keeps friends and family longer because their is less to translate or make assumptions about. There is also a lot less ability to use the keyboard as a platform.

So…once again..are we really lonely? Kind of…but what I should really say is I instead of we because I can’t speak for you.

 

Example

Wanted: Internet Expert | Robb Sutton

I have been thinking about something a lot lately that is nothing new…it just seems to get worse and worse with time.

As the internet becomes more social and less of a resource, we are seeing the emergence of more “internet experts”. Whether it be bloggers writing about subjects they have no experience in or friends on your friendly Facebook wall turning into a heated political debate, the social internet has now given people the ability to say things online that they would never say in person…at least not with the grander and force they do digitally.

We are now in an age where everyone sees themselves as an expert in a specific field because of their ability to research their passion through their favorite sources. This creates a certain amount of hostility online as these “experts” butt heads over what they feel is right. But…just like the experts that think they are right…the sources they quote can be just as biased and misled.

Another example…

As many of you know, we had our first kid last month. I am sure we are going through the same thing most new parents do…the ultimate search for the perfect way to raise your kid. In the pursuit of perfect information, we scour the web and books looking for the “expert” to tell us how things are done and what we need to do next. However, what we find is that no one is on the same page on anything! They can sooth themselves at a month…no wait…not until a year…6 months…3 months…can’t all of you guys just get on the same page?!

This has brought me to the underlying conclusion that you can find whatever you want to read at the time.

  • Are you having a hard time getting your kid to sleep? Then the book that said one month must be wrong and the 6 month one must be right…because that is my experience. (ours is down for the count at one month…and we are grateful for it!!)
  • Do you feel like you lean more to the conservative side of politics? More liberal? You are going to read the sources that you connect with.
  • Have friends on Facebook that are saying what you want to hear? Think you’ll listen to them more than the ones that are saying what you don’t at the time?

Now days…everyone has a voice and the answers online can bring us to a state that we forget to think for ourselves.

Before the age of the internet, we had books and other resources, but the massive volume of information was not present. Now…before we do anything we head to the computer asking The Google what to do next. We forget to stop, think and assess the situation. We completely forgo our gut instincts to trust people we don’t know or ones with zero experience in the specified field.

The internet does a lot of amazing things for our daily lives, but our trust in self proclaimed experts that arose from the ease of publication of information has brought many people to a state that they no longer adapt and think for themselves. They don’t question what they read or try to adapt and change information to fit their lives. Objectivity is going away as blind faith in information is taking over.

It as almost as if the internet put up a wanted ad for experts in fields that have zero ability to talk about things rationally.

While this article might seem like a rant (and it is in someways), it is more about challenging you to question and actually think about what you read online (including things I write and say). There is no right answer for everyone. Everything in life needs to be thought out and interpreted as your life is not the exact same as your neighbors.

That said…we have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I do believe a lot of the trust we give to people that are providing the answers we want to hear stems from not wanting to mess up. We then have the ability to say someone else was wrong if it doesn’t go right, or we can then take credit if it works and push that same ideal on others. Some of the greatest rewards in life come out of what we learn from the mistakes we make. We can not let that fear run how we make decisions.

The internet is a great source of information…when used correctly. It is up to you how you process the information on the screen whether it is from a friend or an article on a website written by someone you don’t even know. How are you going to adapt as information overload continues to expand in our lives?

Example

With 2010 behind us and 2011 up and running, everyone is looking to improve this year over last. For many of you, you might be looking to make 2011 your breakout year as you take your dream and make it a reality. It is possible, you just have to keep you mindset on the right path to success and that makes the sky the limit for what you can accomplish over the next 12 months.

#1 – This Is Not A Backup Plan

Your future is too important to treat your business as a backup plan. I hear far too many bloggers and small online business owners say, “It makes me some side cash and hopefully…one day…it will be full time.” One day never comes with that attitude…it will always be side income instead of your profession.

Owning your own business (online or not) is dependent on a correct mindset from the very beginning. Do I believe in working a 9-5 until you can replace the income with your blogging? Absolutely. I even suggest working both if you can pull it for as long as you can balance the needs of your lifestyle (before you have kids, etc.), but if you expect to make it big with the mindset of small…you are sorely mistaken. You have to jump into your life headfirst as if there was no other option. You want to be full-time with your dream and that is the goal from day one. Will it provide side income in the meantime? Yes it will, but you will spend the side income on stuff you don’t need with a bad business mindset instead of putting it where it belongs…back into your business for growth.

Start 2011 with the mindset that you are going to make it big in 2011. It is not if or hopefully…it is when and that is dependent upon you.

#2 – Form Efficient Working Habits

We waste a TON of time. It’s true. Even those of us that think we are incredibly efficient still waste a lot of time.

In 2011, you need to figure out how you can efficiently work to get the most out of every minute you are in front of that computer or networking. I personally use tools like Evernote, Google Calendars and scheduling posts to make sure I am running at full steam at all times. Just recently, I used my need for efficiency as an excuse with my wife to pick up an iPad. While my intentions were to just get an iPad, I actually found that my efficiency level increased during meetings and on the go as I had a way to get ideas down on paper easier and a way to edit plans/invoices and other documents during crucial meetings.

My efficient working habits are not going to be the same as yours in most cases but you need to find out how you can make the most out of the time you have. There are going to be things that come up to derail your plans, so having everything in place and planned will be crucial to your success in 2011.

#3 – Watch The Trends

If someone would have told you to ignore Digg 3 years ago, would you believe them? What if they told you Facebook was going to be more powerful than Google 2 years ago?

The web is still finding its way. Its users are still figuring out how they want to share and find information online. Ironically, 2010 marked the year of consumers (yes…your content is a consumable) going back to their roots of personally recommending products, services and other items through social media outlets like Facebook. How many people looking to buy a vacuum cleaner online hit up Facebook first to ask their friends what they are using before they searched Google? Online word of mouth is building up steam quickly, so capitalizing on that trend can bring you some serious growth by not wasting time on old, tired out methods.

However, just because it is the trend that is working today…that does not necessarily mean it will the the trend of tomorrow. It is up to you to watch out for the next Facebook or Twitter. Will there be another flood of social media like those two created? Probably not…but what if the next flood is something that is branded outside of social media?

In 2011, you need to watch the trends and test theories to see what works for your audience and your business. You never know…you could find a secret goldmine.

#4 – Stay Positive And Have Fun

2010 in many ways was the year of negativity and polarizing opinions. Personally, I stopped watching the news as it was just depressing. At the end of the day, we are all dealt the same hand of cards. It is up to us to make the most we can of this one life we have, and if we are going to live it miserable and negative…there isn’t much point.

Your success this year will completely depend on your outlook on life. Are there things going on in this world that you don’t agree with? Yes. Are there people in your life that just get on your nerves? Yes. Is that going to change? No…but you can change how you interact and look at the world. By staying positive and having fun with your life, you will attract other positive people and things. If you make the conscious decision to be negative and angry, you are going to attract nothing but negative and angry people or things.

If you only do one thing that will help your business this year…it should be to have fun with it. The rest will fall in line naturally.

Example

Last night, I gave a presentation at the Atlanta Bloggers Meetup on social media and blogging as part of Atlanta’s Social Media Week. I was one of three presenters of the night and the only one that fully relies on blogging for income. I brought along the Kodak Zi8 to record the session and the video came out ok. The small sensor camera really struggles in low light and I wasn’t wearing a mic, but the quality was good enough to publish.

One word of warning…apparently I REALLY talk with my hands. It is funny what you realize about yourself when you have to watch it on video.

How To Leverage Social Media To Grow Your Blog

In the video, I talk about basic principles in regards to social media, blogging and how you can combine the two to increase your business, traffic and bottom line and then I answer some questions from the audience on generating income and increasing traffic.

Text Summary On Social Media Presentation Video

Everyone already knows the most popular social media spaces online. We all use them on a daily basis to converse with friends, keep in touch with family or to follow our favorite celebrities. When we do this act, we are functioning within the core, fundamental purpose of social media.

Entertainment.

99% of users of social media have zero interest in blogging or starting a blog. However, they have a great amount of interest in conversing with other like minded individuals online who share their same interests. That need to communicate is what we can leverage into our blogging to pull readers back into our content.

All of these social media spaces (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.) in and of themselves do not generate revenue or traffic. They are their own separate sites with defined purposes. The blogger has to tie all these separate entities into something usable and measurable by giving them a common home base. That home base for the blogger is the blog.

By going out and pulling potential customers and readers back to your content, you are bringing value back to social media by turning it into something that can be measured and converted.

With Facebook fan pages, branded Twitter accounts, LinkedIn groups and other aspects of these social media sites, we are able to create a consistent branding atmosphere, a consistent voice and a consistent purpose that all increase our traffic and revenue.

If Only It Was That Easy!!

The theory of “if you build it and they will come” applies as little to social media as it does to blogging. The trick for the blogger is to go out and converse with members of social media sites to pull them back to your content.

However…there is one major mistake I see most bloggers and businesses do when they are looking to expand into social media to increase their web presence.

They do ZERO market research.

Just because Joe down the street told you Twitter is the next big thing or you believe you have to be everywhere at once does not mean that is the right plan of attack for your blog or business.

Most bloggers and business owners like to do what I call the shotgun affect. They spread themselves out really thin across all aspects of social media just hoping something sticks. The result…nothing does and they become another person that says Twitter or Facebook doesn’t work. It isn’t that they don’t work, it is your approach that failed.

Your job as the blogger or business owner is to go where your core audience interacts and bring your content and brand to them. It is not your job to convince them that Twitter is better than Facebook.

For Bike198, I find that Facebook is a much higher converter as cyclists could really care less about Twitter. My Facebook likes and shares are very high on that site and it serves a great purpose in my blogging. However, in the blogging niche, Twitter took off like wildfire and bloggers across the world are using it as an easy way to spread content and connect with other bloggers. It all depends on your target audience and how they are already communicating. Once you figure that out…you go there and set up shop. If you do that, your chance of success is much higher than if you just recklessly hope something sticks.

That is the key to making social media successful for increasing your profits and expanding your brand’s reach on the web.

Filmed with the Kodiak Zi8 and edited with iMovie and Keynote