Social Media related posts

No, I’m Not Deleting All of My Social Media Accounts.

Mic JohnsonHey there, thanks for stopping by. It’s Mic Johnson here, and I wanted to share some thoughts on how I’ve been using social media for years. 

There’s been a lot of talk for years (and especially recently) about the “dangers” of social media and what these tools are doing to people and to the societies of countries across the world.

Is it a debate/discussion worth having? Absolutely.

Does it matter if we’re talking about how children/teens use these tools vs. adults? Absolutely.

Can these tools be used to manipulate people in negative ways? Absolutely.

Are there real concerns and issues that need to be addressed? Absolutely.

Should we all be smarter users/consumers of social media? Absolutely.

Is there a lot of “clickbait” and “fear mongering” going on around social media? Absolutely.

Does that mean that everyone should “get off Facebook” or “delete all of their social media accounts”? Hey, look, it’s up to you. It’s your life and you have to do what you think is best for you. But for me, the answer (at least for now) is NO. And here’s why…

My experience on the whole with social media has been overwhelmingly positive over the nearly 10 years I’ve been using tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Those are the ones I use the most.

So when I see all of these headlines about social media ruining peoples’ lives, etc., I wonder why my experience has been the exact opposite. I don’t have some social media success secret sauce (say that five times fast), but if my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, then maybe I can help people by sharing how I’ve used these tools for years.

social media

I Use Social Media Daily.

Let me repeat that. I use social media daily. I don’t let IT use ME.

I dip my toes into the waters of social media networks a few times every day.

I don’t spend hours staring at my feeds and dreaming of a better life. I pop in, take a look around, see what there is to see, and I pop out.

I Use Facebook the Most.

I use Facebook regularly. I’m not alone. As of the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.2 BILLION active monthly users.

And yes, I’m acutely aware that Facebook has done some bad things (Mark Zuckerberg will be or has already spoken to Congress by the time you’ll read this.) that I definitely don’t approve of based on what I know so far. And yes, I plan to look into this situation further as more information comes out.

But I have to be honest. Most of my experiences with the network to this point have been positive. And part of that is because of how I choose to live my life…for me, I’m PRO-LIVE-MY-LIFE vs PRO-LIVE-IN-FEAR-EVERY DAY.

90%-95% of what I post on Facebook is positive or has positive intentions. Let me be clear. I’m not doing it for the LIKEs and comments. I’m doing it because maybe it will HELP people…try a new restaurant, help them make a decision in their life, give them a dose of perspective just at the right time, etc.

And, for the record, I’ve heard from countless people that those things have happened because of what I’ve posted. Let me say this again. This isn’t for my ego. This is because it HELPS people. That’s my motivation for the majority of what I post. In fact, that’s my motivation for just about everything I do in life.

How I Use LinkedIn.

I use it to see what people in my business network are up to. I scan my home feed. I’ll read a few posts. I might comment or engage with something that interests me. If there’s an article that I see that can educate me about something I’m interested in, I read it. And I’ll chat with a few people in my network from time to time. It’s a business tool and that’s how I use it.

How I Use Twitter.

I use Twitter predominantly for following sports teams I care about and, yes, I’m completely aware that I can sometimes be irrational about those teams and their coaching staffs. I enjoy seeing what other people are saying or engaging with people to discuss their viewpoints. I also use Twitter to get a lot of the “daily headlines” of what’s going on in the world. And finally, I’ve come across a lot of interesting people on Twitter, so I follow them to learn more. Maybe they can help me…maybe I can help them.

How I Use Instagram.

I don’t use Instagram as much as the other tools above, but I do dip my toes in a few times a week and quickly scroll through pictures. I like the visual nature of Instagram, but I’m a little turned off by the “perfectionism” with which some of the images are manufactured. But hey, to each their own. There’s a lot of cool pictures out there. And a lot of cool people out there.

Social Media Tips/Reminders That Have Worked Well for Me.

A lot of GOOD comes from social media.

Never forget that. It’s all in how you use the tools.

I’ve had someone battling cancer message me saying that a post I shared really helped her. I got tickets to the Final Four in San Antonio through a Facebook friend. My wife and I have become very good friends with a couple and the entire relationship started on Facebook (they’ve also become clients).

I’ve sent countless people to Bob Wasabi Kitchen for sushi, so they get an experience of the best sushi in KC and I’m helping a small local business that does it right. I’ve had countless situations where I’ve run into people who I haven’t seen in awhile and it enhances the in-person meeting because we’ve been following each other’s journeys through social media.

The list goes on and on…

Don’t just post the good stuff.

Recently I saw one of my Facebook friends (and I’ve heard this argument from other people as well) ay that people only post positive stuff on Facebook. First of all, it’s funny that people are complaining about people posting positive stuff. What are we, anti-positive now?

But, again, I’ve seen plenty of people post things about difficult situations in their lives. I recently posted about my grandma passing away and I got a flood of support from people in my network. That feels good. And that’s been my experience over the years…if you share your bad times or difficult times, people will reach out to you to help or encourage you.

If you want to live an authentic life, then being vulnerable is part of the deal, in good times…and in bad.

Overcome the tendency to succumb to irrational fear.

Irrational fear is a part of our daily lives. There’s a lot of fear-mongering going on in articles shared on social networks. Be smart about what you read/share. Do your homework. Is the story true or is it clickbait?

Be a better consumer of what shows up in your feed. And be mindful of anyone or anything who is trying to manipulate you using fear. I’m not saying that some of the fear isn’t natural or even justified, but a lot of it isn’t.

Block/hide ads.

I do it all the time on every social network I use (though it hasn’t come up much on Instagram). As soon as I realize there’s an ad in my feed, I quickly move past it or block/hide it. I rarely, if ever, click on any ads or play games (on Facebook). You shouldn’t either.

Trim the trolls.

Report/block people who are abusive, use hateful language to you/others, or who are predominantly negative. Again, I do this all the time. It only takes a few seconds and it cleans my feed of counter-productive people.

Want to take a break?

If you want to take a break from social media, go for it. When you do, you don’t have to tell everyone you’re doing it. Your friends will be fine. And the social networks will be fine. We’ll be here if you decide to come back and join the fun.

Think twice before you unfriend family and friends.

If you enjoy 90-95% of what you see from certain friends/connections on any social network, don’t unfriend or block them because they post a few things about topics you disagree with. Maybe you “snooze” them for 30 days (Yes, you can do that on Facebook.)

Last time I checked, we’re adults. There’s a reason the saying “Agree to disagree” has been around for decades. We don’t have to agree 100% with everything our friends or families believe/share.

If you’re really bothered by it and the relationship is a significant one for you, here’s an old-school way to deal with it…HAVE A CONVERSATION with them in person or on the phone. If it’s someone you can’t do that with, then take it offline and see if you can find some common ground. If you don’t want to take the time to do that, then agree to disagree and focus on the positive content they share.

Maybe social media is just a magnifying glass.

If seeing someone enjoy/share their life on social media makes you feel worse about yourself, then you should talk to someone about it…that person, a friend, a therapist, whomever.

The issue very well may be less about that person and more about what’s going on in your life. Look, we all have baggage, and that baggage impacts the way we experience things in our life. The happiest people are intentional about working through their baggage.

Social media isn’t the reason for your baggage, though it very well may be a magnifying glass. If that’s the case, talk to someone about it, meditate, ask for help, etc.

In the end, you need to do what works best for you so that you can live as happy and productive life as possible. If social media enhances your life as it has mine, then keep using it. If it doesn’t bring positive energy into your life, then maybe it’s time to evaluate how you use it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope it helps you in some small…or big…way. What other ways do you use social media that have been beneficial? Share your comments below.

Avoid $1,000 fines for copyrighted images on your website with these three alternatives.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a significant increase in companies receiving legal nastygrams for using copyrighted images on their websites. These notices have been requests for payment anywhere from $800 to $1,200 for a single image. So what should you do to avoid copyright infringement?

We ask our clients to use photos that they’ve taken themselves for most stories to avoid this issue entirely. I also believe photos that you take yourself work better when trying to convey the emotion of a situation. But that’s not always possible, and sometimes you just forget to take pictures during the moment.

If you have to find something on the internet, I wanted to point you in a couple of directions for finding images that are royalty free for use on your website or in your blog posts. (Royalty-free refers to the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales.)

Pixabay

PixabayPixabay is a site full of royalty free images. The only trick is that search results begin with a row of sponsored images that you actually have to pay for. Just skip this row by scrolling down and get to the real results that you can use for free. Visit pixabay.com to try it out.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia commons is a database of almost 30 million media files that can be used freely. Visit commons.wikimedia.org to see if you can find something useful.

Google Image Search with License Type Filter

I bet you’ve used Google Image Search before to find pictures for your website.

Did you know that the results that come back by default include copyrighted images? Probably.

Did you know that you can filter the results easily to include only images that are free to use however you want? Probably not.

All you have to do is go to images.google.com and search. For this example, let’s use “social media” as the search term. Type in “social media” and click the search icon. On the resulting screen, you will see a toolbar at the top of the page before all of the search results. It’s always been there, you just might have missed it. Click the “search tools” menu.

Google Image Search

The “search tools” menu has a bunch of options in it like size, color, type, time, etc. Crazy, right? What we’re looking for is the “usage rights” menu. Click that and you will get a dropdown of options shown below. Click the “labeled for reuse with modification” and your search results will be filtered appropriately.

Google Image Search

I’m not your lawyer.

Grabbing images from the internet has some risk associated with it. But these free options seem to be great ways to avoid problems with copyrighted images.

Social Media ROI – Why You Shouldn’t Stress the Numbers Too Much

Post Author: Jason Terry

Social Media ROIFor those of you that didn’t know, pretty much since the dawn of social media, there’s been an ongoing debate about the return on investment (ROI) of social media for sales and marketing. But before I get into that…

A Little History

Traditional marketers grew up in a world where most things could be measured. You could set up multiple phone numbers for your infomercial so that you knew which markets had the best return and what the best times to air the commercial were.

You could send out a postcard mailer with a coupon code on it that you could change based on where you were sending it to track what neighborhoods had the best response.  You could pick up the phone and cold call a purchased list, hoping for a 3% return.

All of these activities could be measured, and to some degree counted on. For example, if you send 2,500 mailers, you might consistently get around a 2% response. If you cold call 500 people, you might find 1% that would become a customer.

With that data in hand, sales managers and their companies would drive numbers based on volume. It was an exciting time where call centers of hundreds of people would annoy thousands of people at dinnertime with unwanted sales pitches.

Where We Are Today

Social media has given rise to a completely new way to engage customers. People don’t want the hard sell. They never have. They never will.

Today, when someone wants to buy, most search for it on Google and then often make a buying decision based on reviews from COMPLETE STRANGERS! Many buying decisions are made because a friend mentioned a product or service that they love… on Facebook…on Twitter…on Pinterest…on YouTube….and so on.

Don’t get me wrong, some really creative marketing people sold a few million more deodorant sticks after the viral Old Spice commercials (50 million views?!?!?), but it was social media that enabled those videos to go viral.

Why You Shouldn’t Stress the Metrics

The problem I have with trying to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing is that the numbers rarely tell the whole story. And in my personal experience, the numbers don’t even tell half the story.

Philips Hue LightsLet me give you an example. I recently bought a Philips Hue light set. These are WiFi connected light bulbs that let you change their color and brightness from your smartphone. (Yes, I’m a bit of a geek.) The interesting part of the story is that I never received any marketing messages of any kind about the Philips Hue lights.

Here is how I ended up buying them:

  1. I saw a Kickstarter campaign for LIFX light bulbs that connect to your WiFi network and change colors. So I signed up.
  2. I put a new router in my house and the LIFX bulbs stopped working. So I needed a new solution.
  3. I Googled “LIFX alternatives” and found lots of references to the Philips Hue lights.
  4. I searched for “Philips Hue Reviews” on YouTube and watched people gush about how great the lights are.
  5. I went to Amazon.com to see if they sell them (Duh, of course they do.) and saw that they got 4 out of 5 stars in 889 reviews. One click later, my order was placed.

I didn’t get a coupon, see an ad on TV or receive something in the mail. I didn’t go to my local lighting store to see what options I had. I ended up using Kickstarter, Google, YouTube and Amazon to convince me that I absolutely needed to spend $200 on internet connected lights for my man cave. (And they are awesome.)

And to top it all off, with this blog post, I’ve just become an unpaid salesperson for Philips. I might see that 100 of you click on the link to the Philips Hue website, but I have no idea how many of you will end up buying a Philips Hue lighting system, if any. And who knows if 6 months from now you remember me talking about this and look into a bit more.

The breakdown when measuring happens when a buying decision isn’t made in the moment of the click.

It can provide some value to measure the number of clicks, likes, favorites, etc. just to know what type of content you put out resonates with people. But those numbers aren’t the sole defining metric to your success. Mic provided another great example of the difficulty in measuring ROI in a blog post he wrote awhile back called The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging.

If you post a status update on LinkedIn, people might see it, but not click. But for that brief moment you had their attention. Your face. Your relationship. And whatever you posted as your status update. Doing that regularly over time helps keep you top of mind with your network/followers/friends/clients/prospects, whether you’re using LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Pinterest to engage.

So my advice is to not get too caught up in the numbers. Instead, focus on telling your stories consistently, educating people, and growing your audience through trust.

If you do that, the ROI will follow.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read and share this blog post with others. Join the conversation and let us know what you think.

 

 

What I Learned Recently About Death and Social

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

Friends, this is Jason.  I wanted to make sure you knew it was me writing because of the news I’m about to share.

Wilma TerryMy grandma died on Monday morning, 4/14/14 at 4:21am. Her name was Wilma Terry and she and I were very close… especially as I was growing up.

I remember playing “Giant” where we hid around her house while she slowly walked around thumping her cane on the floor and looking for us. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Other fond memories include eating her peanut butter rice krispie treats, getting my mouth washed out with soap for cussing (I was really young) and singing Christmas carols together. Read more

Brand Disconnect

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Web Site Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | Cancer Volunteer

There’s a disturbing trend that’s been coming up in conversations I’ve had recently with clients and prospects. I wanted to share it in case it’s something that you or your business is suffering from. 

I call it BRAND DISCONNECT. 

It’s not a difficult concept to get your arms around, but it’s one I see time and time again. Let me give you the two most common examples: 

1. You’re an awesome person. You’re passionate about the product or service you provide. You’re responsible. You’re helpful. You’re enthusiastic. You’re a connector. You’re the best salesperson in your company. People respect you and the work that you do. And on top of that, you’re humble and downplay your success.

But your LinkedIn profile sucks. Read more

The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Web Site Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | Cancer Volunteer

We’ve been blogging at Blue Gurus for nearly 5 years and believe in it so much that we coach and execute blog strategy for companies all across Kansas City.

We routinely have business owners and decision makers asking us about the ROI of blogging. The way we see it, the choice is pretty clear: Do you want to educate people about your company, your people, what you do in the community, the services or products you provide…or don’t you? There’s only one logical answer to that question…and a blog is the perfect solution.

Now I know the title of this post is “The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging”, but I’m not going to give you the answer right away. Before I do, I want to share a personal ROI blogging story of my own. 

Carol Bush Her name (and the woman in the photo) is Carol Bush. She is a Nurse Navigator and Consultant for the Midwest Cancer Alliance-University of Kansas Cancer Center as well as a Nurse Consultant for Remedy Healthcare Consulting. On March 19, 2013, Carol (who I had never met before) sent me an email with the subject line that said “We Need Help”.

That subject line, and our subsequent interactions, inspired me to write a blog post with that very subject line. You can read it here: We Need Help

Carol’s email mentioned that she had been reading our blog for over a year (This is your first hint: Blogging is a marathon; not a sprint) and liked our approach. She went on to say that she wanted help with blogging, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Read more

Blue Gurus Adopts Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation

Sporting Commission and Blue GurusPost written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

Many of you know that we adopt a not-for-profit on a quarterly basis.  We donate our time and knowledge, and love giving back to the community.  Recently, we adopted the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation.

I met Kathy Nelson , President and CEO of the Sports Commission, through our mutual friend, Dara Macan.  After that brief meeting, we decided we needed to get together to talk more about the Sports Commission and Blue Gurus.

Kathy is AWESOME.  She has so much passion, and it comes through in everything she does.  I learned a ton about the Sports Commission and the many ways they affect sports in Kansas City.

If you aren’t familiar with the KC Sports Commission and Foundation, watch the inspirational 5 minute video at the end of this post and see Kathy in action! Read more

Blog Series, Part 4: Blog Training & Coaching [VIDEO]

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

httpv://youtu.be/9Hehz7ebsxk

Have you seen this video before?  We added it to the Blog Training & Coaching page of our web site recently.

This is the fourth and final post in a blog series highlighting the videos we’ve done for our web site. We’ve gotten great feedback on the previous posts in this series:
Blog Series, Part 1: Why We Added Video To Our Web Site
Blog Series, Part 2: WordPress Web Development
Blog Series, Part 3: LinkedIn Training

We hope our stories around how it all came together inspire you or your company to start thinking seriously about how video can enhance your online presence and help your business grow!

What It Took To Create This Video

In this video, we talk about why you and your company should be blogging and how we help our clients get this done on a weekly basis.  Blogging is one of our favorite things to do because it hits one of our passions… corporate culture. 

This video was the easiest of the series to create because the topic is the core focus of our business.  You can tell when you watch it that there is no doubt in our minds that blogging is an essential part of any sales and marketing strategy for a successful company.  This was the last video we captured, and it really only needed one take with a couple of repeats.  It felt great to have finished our videos and knew that Mike Snell would do a great job of editing them into 2 minute-ish videos we could put on our services pages.

Why Blogging?

It is hard to summarize all the benefits your will see when you commit to blogging on a weekly basis.  Here are some highlights:

Communicate with your team
How often does your company talk about what is going on?  Current client successes and challenges?  Do your team members even know each other that well? 

By blogging, everyone on your team will have better visibility into what is going on at your company.  Also, it is a good idea to have an internal team of people that contribute to the blog, and they really get to know each other during the process.

Communicate with your clients like never before. 
I bet you don’t talk to your clients enough.  We see this all over the city….so odds are that is a true statement.  When you start blogging, it takes awhile for them to realize that you are talking.  Even so, they will start to see you more over time. 

And every once in a while they will click on your story (as long as the subject is interesting and helpful!)  It’s an opportunity for them to get to know you, your company, the kinds of things you help your clients with, and more.

Communication with your prospects before you even know them. 
When you consider working with a new company for a product or service, what do you do?  Go to the company website?  Go to the sales rep’s LinkedIn page?  Hopefully the answer is yes to both… if not, you really should be. 

Imagine the difference in the initial reaction if they get to the home page of your website and see current stories for the past 4-5 weeks versus a canned, static page?  I promise you it makes a big difference.  The same is true for your team’s LinkedIn profiles. 

Whether it is the President’s profile or a sales rep’s profile, I will be much more impressed with an active profile vs. a static one….ESPECIALLY if I’m comparing a couple of different companies offering the same services!

Staying top of mind with your best referral sources. 
If you have a successful business, you have a bunch of friends out there.  Rarely is a business profitable in a vacuum.  The people that you are making happy, or have made happy in the past, are your best source for word of mouth referrals.  The vast majority of our clients grow their businesses through word of mouth referrals.

If that’s true for you, I hope you are investing time and energy in cultivating those relationships.  Telling stories through your blog on a weekly basis is one of the most efficient ways to stay top of mind with all the people that care about you and the success of your company.

Those four points are just the beginning.  And they touch almost every aspect of your business.  If you aren’t intrigued yet, then you must be independently wealthy and don’t need any new business.  If not, I hope you will consider blogging for your business.  Done properly, it will have a positive impact on your company…especially to the bottom line.  If you need help, be sure to give us a call!

Thank you so much for reading and commenting…  We appreciate you!

Blog Series, Part 2: WordPress Web Development [VIDEO]

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

httpv://youtu.be/GGYkL6BsTRo

Have you seen this video before?  We added it to the On Site WordPress Web Development page of our web site recently.

This is the second post in a blog series highlighting the videos we’ve done for our web site. We hope our stories around how it all came together inspire you or your company to start thinking seriously about how video can enhance your online presence and help your business grow!

What It Took To Create This Video

This video was the first of three videos that were captured in a one hour session of “takes” with Mike Snell at Blue Wall Design, the video production company that caters to small and medium sized businesses. 

We heard a lot of great feedback and kudos about our home page video mentioned in the previous blog post… thank you!  One thing we heard often was how much shorter Mic is compared to me. I am 6′ 5″, so most people look short when standing right next to me! For the next three videos, Mic got on his soapbox… literally…  which solved the problem. He stood on a 4″ tall platform for these videos.  :)  We even thought about doing a video with Mic on a chair so that he would be taller than me. 

It’s interesting to look back on how much we struggled capturing this particular video compared to the two we will highlight in future blog posts.

We shot the video first thing in the morning so we weren’t really “on” yet mentally. Once we warmed up after a few minutes of shooting, the second problem turned up.  Our brains were going faster than our mouths, so what was actually being said was a disjointed mess!  We realized that we needed to slow down.  We stopped worrying so much about fitting everything into a 2 minute video and focused on saying what needed to be said. Read more

What The Heck Is FeedBlitz And Why Do We Love It?

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

JasonOk, you technical people probably have heard of FeedBlitz and might even be using it on your website. For those of you who don’t know what FeedBlitz is, here’s a simple explanation.

If you currently have a blog for your business, and you invest time and energy updating it regularly like you should, then you probably want to make sure as many people as possible see your articles. 

One of the ways people see your content is when they visit your website. You may have a “Recent Blog Posts” section on your homepage that shows the most recent three to five blog posts. Or you might also put links to your blog posts on social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Old School or Out of Touch?

That’s all sound strategy, but what about the people that don’t come to your website regularly, or aren’t using social media tools?  Those people probably have an email address.  So the fallback strategy is to get your content to them with a monthly email newsletter.  And that is a good idea!  But it might be taking you more effort than it should. 

Enter FeedBlitz.

FeedBlitz LogoFeedBlitz is a cloud based service that monitors your RSS Feed for new blog posts.  In layman’s terms, this means that whenever you create a new blog post on your website, FeedBlitz knows about it and can act on it.  Read more