Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

When will we realize social media marketing is about being social?

Many of us in the PR industry already read this advertising clown’s article about how we’re ruining social media. This might have even been credible if he backed it with some stats and examples, or if he didn’t throw in a shameless self-promotion in at the end.

Way to plug yourself….that’s really going to make me believe you understand how social media marketing works.

The whole time he discussed the problem with pushing content at people, and then at the end he shoves a bunch of examples of his agency’s work at us? Yes, clearly this guy is the mastermind of all things social media marketing.

(Note: my sarcasm does not reflect my views on his agency’s work. I respect it and think it’s very creative. This is just my opinion about this particular article)

Although the article overall was full of generalizations and assumptions, there are some points we agree on:

1)      “No one wants to listen to an endless, aimless stream of dialog about a brand or a company, which is what you get from a strategy that focuses on news, offers and the occasional contest”

2)      “Effective social media marketing is about putting something directly into the hands of your audience”

3)      “People are engaged by great content”

4)      “People gravitate to brands they like and respect. You aren’t going to win friends by boring them to death with conversation about yourself.”

The problem I have is that he’s assuming two things that aren’t always true: That PR agencies always develop and implement a brand’s social media strategy, and that a PR agency’s strategy in terms of social media for a brand is always focused on distributing content.

False and false.

PR agencies do NOT always handle social media for brands. Sometimes they have a separate social media agency, other times ad agencies are in charge of a brand’s social media presence, or it’s handled in-house.

And, just because we’re in PR does NOT mean that we’re applying old-school, traditional PR distribution practices to social media.

Really, this article didn’t need to call out the PR industry. It could’ve just discussed poor social media marketing strategies in general. Some people are great at it, others are terrible. What this article says isn’t always wrong, but it’s definitely pointing the finger in one direction when in reality it applies to many people (that aren’t always PR pros).

It does raise the bigger issue: When are we going to realize that social media marketing is about the SOCIAL aspect?

There are all these “best practices” or things you should(n’t) do (like the four points I mentioned above), but when you stop and think about it…they’re all about being human.

People naturally connect with other people, so the questions for marketers become: How can I humanize my brand? How do I give it a personality that consumers can connect to?

After all, we gravitate towards different people based on our own personalities. The same goes for our behavior towards a brand.

Social media provides the perfect opportunity for brands to not only have a means for connecting with their audience and building a community of like-minded individuals (AKA being social), but also to understand who those people are and what they care about.

It starts off on a broader level: what type of person do I want to target? Who purchases my product and/or service?

Ok, so once that’s nailed down….

Where do they spend their time online?

Then: What are they saying? What do they talk about/respond to the most? What sparks a negative reaction in them? Positive? What do they share the most?

Those are the types of questions that make the most sense to ask first. Yes, there are more, but the point is that it’s about getting a well-rounded view of who these people are. That way you can figure out how to be human and best relate to them.

I mean, isn’t that how we act in a social setting if we want to actually build a relationship?

You wouldn’t just spout a bunch of crap about yourself without asking anything about other people. You would talk to them, listen to what they have to say, ask questions, share interesting information, laugh together, bounce ideas off one another, and so on.

Well, doesn’t that apply to social media marketing as well?

And, to the first part of the post, do you really need to be in advertising, PR, or marketing to understand that?

Nope.

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What does your personality type say about your work ethic?

Last week, a coworker gave out a personality test in the office. The test involved a series of four different words, and you would rank the words from “most like you” to “least like you.” After we went through about 20 sequences of words, we added the numbers to see what type of leadership personality we had. What came as a shock to no one, Jackie and I both ended up with the Socializer leadership style.

Among others, the Socializer style was defined by these statements:

  • the communicator promoting style
  • loves to talk
  • visually oriented
  • gets others involved
  • loves to be around people
So what does this say about my work ethic?
From a business perspective, these traits are spot on. Rarely do I ever like to work on projects on my own, and always welcome anyone’s opinion on the project I have at hand. I also love to talk to others as I work, and listen to music while working.

How does it compare to the traits of my coworkers?

From taking the test, I also learned that some of the team members that work on projects with me had completely different personality types. They would rather work on things in quiet, private space, and not have the entire team discussing something. Some also preferred to not collaborate on tasks.

How can you make different personality types work together?
After learning about my coworkers personality types as well as my own, I discovered that having a collection of types is what is best for a team. You don’t want everyone on the team directing and leading, and you also don’t want your entire team to be made up of serious schedule-oriented members. The key is to have an even amount of all types. You can then learn the way they work, as well as see how your personality adds to the flavor of your team as an entirety.

Although it didn’t come as a surprise to me what style I fell under, the test made me think about what a big difference leadership types can make on your workforce. Knowing what type you are as well where your coworkers fall can lead to a better understanding of ideas on projects. It can also teach you why people think about things the way they do. I encourage you to try them in your office. You can find tests online here and here.

Image source.

Where do you go for a refreshing, unique point of view?

I asked this question to the Twittersphere yesterday after I realized that I’m extremely sick of reading the same opinions over and over. I understand that’s part of what happens when you stick to reading about a certain industry, which is why I’m thrilled that Kim borrowed me a copy of her new favorite play: Spring Awakening. It’s nice to mix it up every now and then.

I also enjoy reading sci-fi/fantasy novels for the same reason. Sometimes I just need a break from hearing about how to do _[fill in the blank]_ best with social media. I’m grateful that most of my friends are not in this industry and keep me from talking about this day and night.

Sometimes I just want to hear from someone who’s not spouting a bunch of bs. This week I was happy to encounter Joey Strawn. Joey’s blog posts always provide humor and get to the point. They’re not a bunch of fluff. It’s very refreshing.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here are some of the responses to my question “Where do you go for a refreshing, unique point of view?”

@IsaacSalazar my family and cab drivers

@ryanstephens Nobody in particular for me. I like checking out TEDx talks. Other than that I’ll look at a few people’s delicious bookmarks.

@willias1 normally id go straight to you, but if you’re asking everyone for new ideas, I’m not sure where that leaves me. #Scratchinghead

@jasonarican Depends on what sort of insight, but I like to go places that I know have opinions different from mine for a fresh perspective

@JasMollica I usually find something new in my Twitter feed that gives me refreshing insight. You just have to look!

@justicewordlaw I check out various youtube videos and then check out some of the top blogs I go to daily

@Jennilynn4 I get up from my desk and take a walk outside. It helps me clear my head/think.

@biggreenpen a kid (for refreshing/unique) or someone of a different gender/generation/nationality/ethnicity

@ryanknapp I tend to pop around on other people’s twitter accts or follow hashtags, see if anyone new stands out.

@jordankelley23 Sometimes it’s nice to go to an outsider thats not involved w/ the situation. Their advice is fresh & their opinion isn’t biased

@Kimberly_Lucio Jill Felska (@felska) because she takes each experience she has and shares it on her blog in a way that everyone can learn from it

What about you? Where do you go to get a different perspective and/or insight?

(thank you to Google images and blog.reflexstock.com for the pic) 

Are business leaders accountable for their actions?

In my mind, one of the defining characteristics of Gen Y is that we don’t like anything that is overly corporate or structured. Maybe we’re all just striving to be unique individuals, but overall we love the idea of going against The Man.

I’m all for that point of view, but recently I’ve started to see another side of the coin: The Man (aka the leader of a large corporation) cares more than you’d think.

Hear me out, please.

Gen Y employees tend to be lower down in companies (given our age), yet there are many of us who think we know best. Sometimes our ideas are very innovative. Sometimes they are extremely naïve and/or idealistic. Other times we are business-savvy but have superiors who refuse to listen or shift away from the “traditional” methods that have always worked in the past.

But the biggest misconception is that CEOs just sit in their corner office raking in the dough and not caring about the company.

You know why that’s not the case?

Because when shit hits the fan, the CEO is the one who gets canned. They are the face of the organization—the one with the biggest responsibility of all: Making sure the entire operation is running, and running successfully.

So, yes, the CEO gets that nice fat paycheck, but “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” (Yes I’m a nerd and quoted Shakespeare’s Henry IV)

When a company as a whole doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s not those of us at entry-mid level who gets blamed in the public eye…it’s the CEO.

I’ve actually seen this theory in action as I’ve begun to manage others. I’m lucky to work with some very talented individuals, but still if something goes wrong…it’s all on me. Both my clients and my boss are going to look to me because it’s my job to run these accounts, so it’s my job to make sure the other people on my team are doing things right.

Unfortunately, things go wrong that are out of our control. Guess what? I’ll be the one taking the lumps for it.

Yes, I know there are many business leaders who have outdated ideas and could benefit from learning a few lessons in their industry. There are others who might just be counting down the days until retirement. But for the most part, I really don’t think that’s the case. There are many CEOs out there who are truly passionate about the organizations they run.

So, let’s give business leaders a break. It’s really easy to pass judgment until you’re in a similar situation and realize why someone might have come to the decision they did.

Keep in mind that there’s a downside to everything. A CEO might be on top, but they’re also sitting on a pile of responsibilities that we don’t have to deal with.

(photo credit goes to playingintraffic.wordpress.com)

Are you real world ready?

The quote to the right of this was one that I kept with me throughout college. I printed it out, and had it in my planner every year of my college duration. It taught me to never look back at my mistakes and to keep looking forward.

At this time last year, I was a senior at Loyola University. Currently in a state of panic, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life once graduation came. Fast forward to a year from then, and I am seeing friends of mine deal with the same situation. The feeling that you have no idea where your life will be in a month is one of the most terrifying feelings in the world. So how do you deal with it?

If I could give current college students any advice for the next month of their life, it would be these four things:

Look everywhere for opportunities.

When you are searching for a job, don’t stick to job boards. Look for jobs anywhere and everywhere you can. I found my job at Walker Sands from an email blast that a Loyola professor sent out about the opportunity (who received the job posting from Jackie, and the rest is history 🙂 ) Having said that, you never know where you can find a job. Always keep your eye out. Twitter will be your BFF in the job hunt. People post jobs constantly on Twitter, so talk to them when you see opportunities that fit. Most old-school college teachers will tell you that is crazy, but those are usually the ones who do not even understand what social media is. Sites like Media Bistro and Career Builder are great as well. Also, check with your University career center. They may have resources that are sent directly to your school.

Don’t freak out if you don’t have a master plan set up.

Let’s say all of your friends are landing great gigs, and you are still searching. Don’t panic or give up hope. Keeping a positive attitude and talking to positive people is essential. Don’t let your mind talk you out of it. Take it one day at a time. It will fall into place when it needs to. If you need some inspiring words of wisdom, go here.

Find mentors, and talk to them.

If you don’t have a mentor, now is the time to connect to one. Mentorships come naturally, so talking to people with similar interests and values will help you to build mutually beneficial mentorships. Having someone that you can share and vent to about the frustrations of a job search is vital. If you ever want advice from me, shoot me an email, tweet, or comment here. I am happy to give advice, and I know Jackie is as well. We were both in your shoes this time last year. We understand. No question is silly. Ask away.

Enjoy the ride.

Even though you will be stressed out, overwhelmed, and not knowing what to do – enjoy every minute of it. Stay out late with your friends. Do everything you want to do as a student before the time is up. Have no regrets. Why? You worked your ass off for 4 years, and you will spend the rest of your life proving your degree was worth it. So rock on.

Here are a few other resources for students/soon-to-be grads:

There are thousands of blogs and sites out there that will keep you inspired and positive. Let me know what your favorites are. I’m always looking for new reads.

How well are you interacting?

“Our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go. Every time we waste that opportunity, every page or sentence that doesn’t do enough to advance the cause is waste.” – Seth Godin

If you didn’t know already, I absolutely adore Seth Godin. This quote instantly grabbed my attention with the line, “to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them” – and lead me to ask myself, how well am I interacting?

Throughout my first three years of college, I didn’t really have an active presence on the internet. I made a Facebook my junior year as a means of keeping up with friends and family, but other than that I didn’t do much besides schoolwork and the occasional search YouTube for funny videos. My senior year was when I knew I needed to start interacting with people on the internet and getting to know others in the industry outside of my inner circle of connections.

And then came my senior capstone. I knew I wanted to find out more about the advertising world, but had no idea where to start looking for people to talk to. So I turned to Twitter. It took one day for me to search through hundreds of different users, and I made an instant connection with Sheri Strykowski and Lisa Hickey. Both did interviews with me, and gave me some of the best insights into the industry I have ever been given.

So how did I do it?

I did my homework.

Before I even approached them, I knew I had to do my research. The last thing you want to do is reach out to someone without taking the time to see who the person is. Don’t let your first impression to them be a negative one. Take the extra time and do your homework. See what they do for a living. Look at projects they have worked on. Research. Create Space even made guidelines to searching for Twitter users.

I followed up, but I didn’t stalk them.

There is a huge difference between being persistent and being a stalker. You want to follow up with people, but you also don’t want to reach out to them every day if you don’t hear anything. Remember that people are busy. They aren’t constantly tied to their Twitter account, or any account for that matter. Give them a few days.

I thanked them for their time.

Sounds crazy, but I have come across countless people that forget the power of those two words. If someone gives you insight, knowledge, or a new way of thinking – let them know. You would be surprised at the impact those two words will make. The basic idea of showing gratitude for someone’s time is essential in any industry. Take a look at these thank you note tips for writing.

This simple example is one of hundreds I have experienced. Each day, I am inspired and influenced by so many people that I interact with. Showing the person you are talking to respect and keeping the relationship informative and positive between both parties is key.

Where would we be without you, Twitter?

In case you didn’t know, today is Twitter’s 5th Birthday. Since Jackie and I are such avid fans of the site, it only made sense that we give it a shout-out today.

Via freshtutorial.comAlthough there are millions on the site, I still come across Twitter haters (or “non-believers” as I call them). If you still don’t see the value of Twitter, check out this infographic from ViralBlog:

A co-worker at Walker Sands is currently testing the waters herself in a 30-Day Twitter challenge. Read all about it here. If you are looking to start a Twitter and have no idea where to start, give myself or Jackie a shout-out on there. We’d be happy to introduce you to the site.

Happy Birthday Twitter!

What are 10 things I learned from my first SxSW Interactive experience?

Throwing up the hashtag sign. Yeah, we're nerds.

This was my first year at SxSW Interactive, and I have to say that it was absolutely a blast. I am definitely going back next year, and now I have these 10 lessons to take with me:

1. Pack your hipster gear

Never in my life have I seen so many hipsters in one place. This one is merely a joke—please don’t take me literally and go buy skinny jeans, a plaid shirt and funky sunglasses just for SxSW. But be ready to do some great people watching. And if you’re a hipster, then you absolutely belong here.

2. You look like an outcast without a Mac

I was definitely one of the only people without a Mac or an iPad. Boo me. This point is just another fun one. You can rock your Dell with pride too.

3. Carry your chargers with you at all times

Everyone here was hoarding the outlets. Good thing they were so accommodating and had power strips everywhere. I mean, we have to be connected at ALL times, right? Trust me: you do not want to have your phone or laptop die on you. It’s your way to stay in touch with everyone. Keep your charger on you, even when you go out at night.

4. Use a location-based check-in service (even if just for this occasion)

So, I actually didn’t do this. I don’t use Foursquare or Gowalla and I made it through SxSW just fine. Part of the reason is because everyone also shared their location via Twitter and/or Facebook. But really check-in apps are ideal for a conference like this.

You’re trying to meet up with people you either just met or only know from social media and planned to meet in person. We’re all floating around one concentrated area, so it only makes sense to check in and see what’s happening around you.

5. Talk to people you don’t know

This might be the most important point. Talk to everyone because that is the most interesting part of SxSW. I learned more from the people I met than any panel I attended.

6. Attend sessions you know nothing about

I realized that the panels and speakers aren’t very beneficial if you already know about the topic. Don’t get me wrong—these are some very smart people with great insight, but if I blog about social media and talk about how it can be used from a marketing perspective, why would I attend a panel on it? I made that mistake. Then I found myself thinking: I’ve heard most of this before.

But, there are so many panels and speakers that covered subjects I don’t really know anything about. I should’ve gone to those, even if it wasn’t directly related to the industry I work in. I’d rather learn something new than hear the same ole shit I read/write about all the time.

7. Prepare to cope with a hangover for a few days in a row

Bring your aspirin, eye drops and whatever else you need to deal with your hangover and lack of sleep. It’s inevitable. You want to go to the events and parties at night, but you want to make it to those early sessions too. SxSW is one place you need to be a trooper.

8. The SxSW Go app is extremely useful for figuring out which sessions to go to

The official SxSW Go app was great for finding out about everything going on around you and planning ahead. You’re able to set up a schedule of events you want to attend and receive alerts beforehand, which is very helpful because time really gets away from you when you’re down there.

9. Wear comfortable shoes

You will end up walking all over the place all day and night long. Be prepared for it. You’ll regret it if you wear shoes that aren’t made for walking. I always wear flats and I’m still bandaging up my baby toe on both feet. Ha!

10. Unofficial parties and unplanned outings with new friends are WAY better than the official stuff

You’ve probably heard this before and it’s so true. The official stuff ends up being packed. You’ll probably wait in line and be super crowded in. Not very fun.

On that same note, skip a panel or session and go to lunch with new friends instead. I promise you it’ll be much more interesting and beneficial to you. If you stick to all the planned, official events you will be missing out on the best part of what SxSW has to offer: the people around you.

Above all, take a step back, think about why you’re there, and enjoy what’s happening around you. Take your nose out of your smartphone for a few minutes and take it all in. There is a lot of creativity and innovation happening all around you. You don’t want to miss it.

For those who have been to SxSW, are there any other vital lessons I should add to this list? Let me know about them in the comments.

When is it necessary to communicate face-to-face?

As digital natives, Gen Y-ers have less of a tendency to communicate about things in person. Kim and I work in the same office but still email and tweet at each other instead of just getting up and talking face-to-face (although we do that too—she’s my girl!). But, it’s not uncommon for Gen Y to behave this way. We text or send a Facebook message before we pick up the phone and call you.

Yet I still believe there are times when it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face.

It’s a matter of respect. There are certain topics of conversation that deserve to be discussed in person—serious, personal and/or private matters, for instance. Please do them justice by making the effort to speak about them when you’re able to look someone in the eye.

And what about tone of voice? Let’s not forget that things can easily be misinterpreted when the computer (or mobile device) stands in the way. I’m an extremely sarcastic person (those of you that know me are nodding along thinking, “Yep, she’s a smart ass”), but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well if someone can’t hear your tone of voice.

This last point is going to sound so obvious, but the other time I think it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face is when you’re in the same room as someone. I know we all sit there two-thumbing our phones while at dinner with friends, but aside from that being rude…it just doesn’t make sense. Be present. Be in the moment.

I’m not saying you can’t check your phone, but have you ever seen those people who don’t say a word to one another because they’re so absorbed with whatever is happening on their phone? Come on, what is SO important on your phone that you can’t speak to the person sitting across the table from you?

Maybe I’m a little old school. I do still use a notebook and paper. I prefer reading actual books instead of using an e-reader. But I really think there’s some validity to my face-to-face argument.

Why?

Face-to-face interaction will never be completely replaced. We’re human beings, aren’t we? We have an inherent need to interact with one another. Let’s not become robots that are unable to communicate in person or have no personality because we never had to learn how to talk to someone without taking time to think of a witty response before hitting send.

Think about this: job interviews are face-to-face. Meetings are face-to-face (sometimes). Other business matters are still often settled face-to-face. Networking, although it can be done via social media, also happens face-to-face. The first impression someone has of you probably has a lot to do with…your face.

Just trying to make a point here.

What point is that? Don’t undervalue face-to-face interaction, regardless of how tech-savvy you are. There are times when it’s necessary.

(Image from msnbc.com–link to textaholic article by clicking on the pic)

How has Charlie Sheen amused you today?

Although Charlie Sheen might actually be out of his mind, the guy is highly amusing. Instead of speculating about his habits (I mean, he told us to “back off on the judgment” after all) I thought I’d just share a few things that will help you get one step closer to achieving Charlie’s tiger blood.

We can’t all be F-18s, but we can be bi-winners.

So, win here:

Live the Sheen Dream. This is a Charlie Sheen quote generator. Hilarious. Click on his head for a new Charlie Sheen quote to appear. I promise you will be LOLing at your computer.

Stark-Raving Mad Libs. Plug in a few words to Vanity Fair’s Mad Lib creator and you’ll create your very own customized Charlie Sheen rant. Did you know I’m on a drug called Jackie Lampugnano? Just saying.

AOL also outlined a few other humorous Charlie Sheen sites out there.

Are there other ones I haven’t found yet? Link to them in the comments please. I’m always looking for new ways to be amused by Charlie.

Bring it!

(Image from TMZ.com)

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