The Network Growth that Truly Matters

We who are active on social network like to measure our growth by followers, subscribers, page views, and other numerical metrics.

These things have their place, of course. But ultimately, they’re quite self-referential. I’d like to encourage us to notice some other, more important growth.

Let’s pay attention to the people we’re connected to as THEY grow <<–(click to tweet this) in stature, in skills, and in new endeavors.

ID-10024306

Mack Collier was once (just) a blogger. Now he is a budding author, a more in-demand speaker, a Twitter chat host, and someone who has made slow and steady progress for years. Have you noticed? Isn’t this great?

Over the past year, I’ve seen Tim McDonald grow in stature as he finds a new niche in community management (now working with HuffPost Live). He’s hustling. He’s making the most of his opportunity (and I think he’s on his honeymoon right now, in fact – congrats, Tim!).

Tom Martin was known by a limited (but appreciative) audience as a smart New Orleans-based blogger who did creative digital stuff. Now he’s finding his voice as a thought leader in digital marketing. 2013 will see his star rising even further.

Who hasn’t been thrilled to see the growing influence of Angela Maiers in the educational space? She’s paid her dues and influenced many. Speaking of midwest beauties, when I first encountered Carol Roth a few years ago, she had a great track record in business but little exposure in a broad sense. Now she’s grown into a published author, commentator, and rising star on TV news broadcasts. She even has her own action figure (long story…).

Jessica Northey, Chris Westfall, Lou Imbriano, Susan Cain, Michael Hyatt – all conquering new ground, growing their influence by doing good work and providing value (not by buying Twitter followers – the network growth that means nothing).

When our friends grow, that’s what really matters. Take a few minutes away from your subscriber numbers and pat some folks on the back who deserve it.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your Silent Audience

Blogging can be a discouraging enterprise at times.

Is anyone even reading what I write? Why are there so few comments? Where’s the engagement?

silenceWhile we all crave tangible evidence that people appreciate what we write, we should never forget that most of our audience is silent.

For every commenter, there are many others who are absorbing, thinking, learning, growing, laughing – privately.

Your every Facebook status may not garner a lot of comments. But you’ll be surprised how sometimes, months later, someone comes up to you and remembers. And comments. Live.

I don’t comment often on Jon Swanson‘s stuff. But I read it regularly. I keep very close tabs on Greg Hartle’s adventures, even if our on-line back-and-forth is more sporadic. Most of my direct banter with Tom Webster is ironic and punny, but the fact is, I relish his thoughtful posts.

Yes, we need to write for our more engaged readers. But don’t forget your silent audience. You might not hear much from them, but they’re waiting to hear from you.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yes, I Time some Tweets – Here’s Why

There are apps that allow you to space out your tweets over time (I use Hootsuite for this). Some people protest the use of timed tweets – and while I understand the sentiment behind that stance, I don’t agree with it.

Here’s why.

I use Twitter for several purposes:

  • Back-and-forth interaction with people (banter, brainstorming, encouraging, etc.)
  • Sharing interesting news and other resources
  • Connecting people with each other
  • Sharing my own blog posts and pictures
  • Sharing other people’s blog posts (especially those with whom I have a closer connection)
  • Making ironic comments and bad puns
  • Giving good morning greetings

Some of these purposes are more real-time – for instance, back-and-forth chatting with folks is not something that can be automated. But I do automate a fair bit of one-way sharing of “stuff,” for the simple reason that the audience on Twitter is constantly shifting. People are looking at their tweetstreams intermittently throughout the day, which means that something tweeted at 7:22 am might not be seen by a person who first logs in at 9:57 am.

While it makes sense that you might then tweet your own blog posts at a few different times during the day (I do), the really creative and helpful part of this isn’t the self-promotion aspect. The less-discussed secret is the way you can benefit your network of readers and writers.

Why use timed tweets? To gain wider exposure for others’ work!  <<–(click to tweet this).

Let’s say that I read an interesting post from Shelly Kramer‘s blog that, in the (very real) example below, actually touches on a similar theme (the timing of posts getting read on Facebook). If she posts it at, say, 7 am, and a number of her followers retweet it over the next half hour, then most of the exposure for her post may occur in a pretty narrow window.

TimeTweet

But if a reader makes the simple choice to “time” a tweet with a link to occur at, say, 10 am, then that reader’s audience gets the benefit of seeing something they might have missed at 7 am, AND Shelly gets wider exposure in a new time slot as well.

You know how most people get retweets immediately after they tweet something? Why not do everyone a favor and time-delay your tweet for a few hours – or even a day (I’ve seen some of my friends do this. It can give the tweeted link a whole new life).

So – when we understand that part of Twitter is for sharing things that may not be designed for real-time interaction, automating certain tweets makes perfect sense. Especially with this small tweet-tweak – give the people who feed you great content the gift of a fresh audience.

Have you been doing this? And here’s a question that’s been on my mind – I have done very little with scheduling tweets for overnight/overseas reach. If you’re doing this, how’s it working out? Any tips to share?

ALSO: See some interesting stats and perspectives about tweeting blog posts from Mack Collier.

The Dance of Freedom and Form in Blogging

The dance of freedom and form

The dance of freedom and form

Like you, I’ve seen all the “rules” flashing by – set up a blogging calendar. Blog every day (or on some predictable schedule). Go fully free-form and ad-hoc, as the spirit moves you. Etc., etc.

I don’t have any rules for you, just a principle to consider – as with many areas of life, there is a dance of freedom and form in blogging. Give yourself to that tension, not to a fixed method <—(wait – is that a rule??)

Blogging, as with any form of writing, is an outflow of creativity. And your method for channeling your creativity may not match mine or someone else’s. There are best practices for good writing. But when it comes to the when/how often/format, you may need to build in some elbow room.

Some folks need to construct a more rigid schedule and writing discipline because their creative juices are at a slow simmer, and are best harnessed with a constantly-built framework. Others have creative energy that comes to a very regular quick boil, and can whip out a blog post regularly almost without effort (seemingly) – because creative thoughts have actually been bubbling continuously. I’m actually in the latter camp, but it took me a long time to recognize it and embrace it.

The lesson here is not to be rigid in imposing your methods on others as THE way to write. It’s one way, and it may indeed be helpful for others – but people are different, they evolve, and what works one year may be different the next year.

My blogging is very different after 6+ years. We learn to combine freedom and form by experimenting. <–(click to tweet this)

Give yourself, and others, room to create and evolve. I guess that’s another rule. Hmmm…do as I say, not as I do (rule). See how hard it is to stop making rules?

What works for you in your blogging? How have you evolved over time?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finding Your Blogging Voice

voiceAnyone can write a blog post (well, maybe not anyone, from some writing samples I’ve seen!)

But how do you find your unique blogging “voice”?

I’ve been blogging on marketing topics for over 6 years. Yet I feel as though I am only now finding my writing voice. Many of the same topics and ideas occupy my mind and flow out of my keyboard, but it has taken quite some time to develop the style and approach that is “me.”

Let me give you three steps to finding your blogging voice. Warning: simple to list. Hard work to implement!

  • Start
  • Interact
  • Continue

First, you have to start. You can’t develop your writing skills in the abstract realm of your private imagination. Every blogger looks back at early posts and cringes a bit. That’s normal. Drop the perfectionism and just start writing – assume that you actually do, right now, have something valuable to say!

Then, interact. Find other people writing and blogging and read their stuff (here’s a good start, from writer/blogger Jeff Goins). Comment. Learn from them. Let others interact with your ideas – they’ll show you, even without meaning to, how to improve your skills (I just this moment got a DM on Twitter from a reader who provided a female perspective on my post this morning that I never even considered!)

Finally, continue. Blogging for people who want to become writers with a unique voice is a long-term commitment. Don’t get hung up on instant results. Your masterpiece work is probably a good ways in front of you, and you are building toward it.

You have a voice. You have to begin to let it out and train yourself over time. Lots of folks will help you develop. And, in the meantime, you’ll make an impact, even with a smaller readership. So…Go!

If you’ve been blogging for a while, how long did it take you to feel like you’d hit stride and found your voice? How did you get there?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s Time to Get Busy! (AOC 3)

It’s just about here!

The third Age of Conversation (a group-authored book on social media) is due to be released in a few weeks – the subtitle is, It’s Time to Get Busy. I’ve been privileged to add a chapter to each of the three AOC volumes, along with a cast of stellar thinkers and writers (not sure how I got in there, but hey…!)

Once again, the project was spearheaded by community-minded bloggers Drew McLellan (Iowa) and Gavin Heaton (Australia), with contributors from all over the globe. Except Greenland. Still looking for an author/blogger there…

Here’s the listing of authors for AOC 3:

Adam Joseph

Priyanka Sachar

Mark Earls

Cory Coley-Christakos

Stefan Erschwendner

Paul Hebert

Jeff De Cagna

Thomas Clifford

Phil Gerbyshak

Jon Burg

Toby Bloomberg

Shambhu Neil Vineberg

Joseph Jaffe

Uwe Hook

Steve Roesler

Michael E. Rubin

anibal casso

Steve Woodruff

Steve Sponder

Becky Carroll

Tim Tyler

Chris Wilson

Beth Harte

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

Dan Schawbel

Carol Bodensteiner

Trey Pennington

David Weinfeld

Dan Sitter

Vanessa DiMauro

Ed Brenegar

David Zinger

Brett T. T. Macfarlane

Efrain Mendicuti

Deb Brown

Brian Reich

Gaurav Mishra

Dennis Deery

C.B. Whittemore

Gordon Whitehead

Heather Rast

Cam Beck

Hajj E. Flemings

Joan Endicott

Cathryn Hrudicka

Jeroen Verkroost

Karen D. Swim

Christopher Morris

Joe Pulizzi

Leah Otto

Corentin Monot

Karalee Evans

Leigh Durst

David Berkowitz

Kevin Jessop

Lesley Lambert

Duane Brown

Peter Korchnak

Mark Price

Dustin Jacobsen

Piet Wulleman

Mike Maddaloni

Ernie Mosteller

Scott Townsend

Nick Burcher

Frank Stiefler

Steve Olenski

Rich Nadworny

John Rosen

Tim Jackson

Suzanne Hull

Len Kendall

Amber Naslund

Wayne Buckhanan

Mark McGuinness

Caroline Melberg

Andy Drish

Oleksandr Skorokhod

Claire Grinton

Angela Maiers

Paul Williams

Gary Cohen

Armando Alves

Sam Ismail

Gautam Ramdurai

B.J. Smith

Tamera Kremer

Eaon Pritchard

Brendan Tripp

Adelino de Almeida

Jacob Morgan

Casey Hibbard

Andy Hunter

Julian Cole

Debra Helwig

Anjali Ramachandran

Jye Smith

Drew McLellan

Craig Wilson

Karin Hermans

Emily Reed

David Petherick

Katie Harris

Gavin Heaton

Dennis Price

Mark Levy

George Jenkins

Doug Mitchell

Mark W. Schaefer

Helge Tenno

Douglas Hanna

Marshall Sponder

James Stevens

Ian Lurie

Ryan Hanser

Jenny Meade

Jeff Larche

Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher

David Svet

Jessica Hagy

Simon Payn

Joanne Austin-Olsen

Mark Avnet

Stanley Johnson

Marilyn Pratt

Mark Hancock

Steve Kellogg

Michelle Beckham-Corbin

Michelle Chmielewski

Amy Mengel

Veronique Rabuteau

Peter Komendowski

Andrea Vascellari

Timothy L Johnson

Phil Osborne

Beth Wampler

Amy Jussel

Rick Liebling

Eric Brody

Arun Rajagopal

Dr Letitia Wright

Hugh de Winton

David Koopmans

Aki Spicer

Jeff Wallace

Don Frederiksen

Charles Sipe

Katie McIntyre

James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw

David Reich

Lynae Johnson

Jasmin Tragas

Deborah Chaddock Brown

Mike O’Toole

Jeanne Dininni

Iqbal Mohammed

Morriss M. Partee

Katie Chatfield

Jeff Cutler

Pete Jones

Riku Vassinen

Jeff Garrison

Kevin Dugan

Tiphereth Gloria

Mike Sansone

Lori Magno

Valerie Simon

Nettie Hartsock

Mark Goren

 

Peter Salvitti

Stay tuned for final word on availability – should be within a month!

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Connect with Steve Woodruff

Five in the Morning 103108

Drinking from the Twitter fire hydrant by using TweetDeck. Nice post from Beth Kanter. I’ve been a TweetDeck fan from its inception, and it keeps getting better.

Does your Tagline Create Clarity or Mystery? A helpful post by James Chartrand at Copyblogger. Make your headlines/taglines count!

Guy Kawasaki talks about the launch of his new book, Reality Check. What do I like most about Guy? His ability to laugh at himself. Read the book Foreword, which is in this post – F.U.N.N.Y!

Removing your “Perfect” Filter. Great thoughts from Mack Collier. I’ll bet you can relate…

Am I allowed to flog one of my own posts? Ah, why not…I did a guest post for Lewis Green’s blog this week, on Where Business Opportunities Hide. You’ll also get a glimpse of the thinking that led to my starting my own consulting company.

BONUS: A little Friday Fun: Famous Blogger Sucked into Second Life, Disappears.

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StickyFigure TWOday

Today, October 10th, marks the second anniversary of my first StickyFigure post (and although the writing is a bit jagged, perhaps, “How to Waste 100,00 Billboards” is still one of my favorites!)

I’d actually started blogging the previous July, for my solo pharma consulting business (Impactiviti), and that blog is alive and well and absolutely central to my paying job. Impactiviti is an example of using the power of networking to create an entrepreneurial business.

These ramblings on branding, marketing, social media, and whatever else strikes my fancy as an Idea Communicator end up at StickyFigure. This blog is actually an extra-curricular activity for me (as is a personal blog at SteveWoodruff.com which contains ruminations about family, politics, philosophy, life in general, and feeble efforts to get better at writing and telling stories).

I’ve met so many wonderful and supportive people through this blogging and twittering marketing community that I can’t imagine being on this journey without your virtual (and sometimes face-to-face) accompaniment. If I often feel like a rank amateur among you professionals, you’re not at fault in the least for that – you who have become readers/commenters/friends have always treated me with nothing but kindness and respect.

So, though we can’t blow out candles and lift up a good ale together today, know that I’d like to, and thanks for coming alongside over these 2 years. I love you guys.

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Five in the Morning 100908

Effort? Or luck? Some pointed and  helpful thoughts from Seth Godin.

Social media campaigns – they ain’t like the traditional kinds. Nice overview from Kat over at Social Media Explorer.

CollabFinder – a place where designers and developers can find each other. Great use of web networking. Hat tip: Swiss Miss.

Mark Goren asks: Really, What is Marketing? From his Planting Seeds blog (nice design, btw Mark!)

Can you describe your personal brand in one word? Dan Schawbel is asking!

BONUS: New Twitter-generated TwIndependent presidential ticket announced. Go GaryVee and Chris Brogan! (now with bonus links to prior spoofs!)

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