Not gunna lie, pretty exhausted after an action-packed weekend… great Social India Conference by day, fun exploration of Bangalore and making some really awesome new friends by night. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on the Day 1 recap, it really does mean a lot. Just breaking into this whole personal branding game right now so there’s definitely a lot to learn (finally got a Twitter handle AT the conference – @chrismorherrera). And who better to learn it from than Kiruba Shankar, Founder of Business Blogging and public speaking aficionado who talked about building a personal brand.
Now I also REALLY love public speaking (I was a member of advanced acting conservatories and performed in myriad plays throughout my childhood, and capped it off by leading all pep rallies and social events for my high school as Spirit and Rally Commissioner my junior year); but Kiruba was something else, truly. His energy was contagious and he absolutely killed it during his presentation. Yeah he may have gotten through less than half of his slides, but that’s not what mattered – he reinvigorated all of us and really put the social media keyword ‘engagement’ into action. I’m still incapable of describing how amazing he was (hey Kiruba… come hang out with me in Bombay sometime!!).
Anyways, he had an exercise where he asked us to write down two tips for social media that we either stress ourselves or admire from someone else. Here are the two I wrote down verbatim:
- Be yourself and be conversational. Mixing your business and personal accounts truly showcases who you are (work hard play hard).
- Link to all social accounts from all social accounts (improve your brand SEO and spread the word).
The microphone was passed around the room as people shared their advice, all of which was very insightful. The one that really struck me (and is embedded in my first tip) was stated by Day 1 speaker Stefan Kolle, Founder of FutureLab: “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” SO true! We’re all human; we all love to have fun and connect with real people, so be real and don’t put up strict barriers between business and pleasure. Absolutely brilliant and definitely a motto I try to live by.
Okay, getting back to Kiruba’s presentation, here are some very simple yet important tips for building your personal brand:
- Get your own custom domain name. I am going to start my own blog and am thinking about using a personal URL (or WordPress) as the hosting platform… good idea or no? Any advice/recommendations for this?
- Keep your username consistent across as many platforms as possible to help people recognize you. This includes your profile photo as well. I definitely agree with this… it just becomes harder as there are apparently SO many Chris/Christopher Herreras out there (one of the reasons it took me so long to get on Twitter was because I couldn’t pick the ‘perfect’ username).
- Use YouTube to create and upload personal videos. Definitely agree. Right now my YouTube account is full of live concert footage and videos of my experiences in India (check it out… www.youtube.com/herrerameister). It’s a great idea to post videos of yourself talking about your niche and share those with the online community. At the end of videos, ask people to Share them on Facebook, Tweet about them, comment about them on YouTube itself, etc. Also talk about them on your different social networks so more people see them and you increase your personal SEO value. When real faces ask for comments (via YouTube videos), people will be much more likely to respond than they will to someone asking for comments behind a brand logo. Just my .02.
Overall very fun seminar with Kiruba Shankar and I hope to see him again in the future! I give him a lot of props for being so great despite following the first two speakers of the day, both of whom were also fantastic to learn from.
How a Traditional Media Pro Became a New Media Pioneer
Jim Long, White House Videographer for NBC News and Founder of Verge New Media, joined us from the U.S. on a live feed, which really sums up the power of the social technology we have today. I know Jim’s work quite well; I was a Political Science and South Asian Studies double major in Madison and have grown quite familiar with MANY different news networks (my favorite being Democracy Now with Amy Goodman – sorry Jim!). It was very cool to experience the live feed in a conference format for the first time and have him pass down his years of experience and wisdom.
I look up to the artistic media who push the boundaries and truly act as the 4th Branch of American politics, and Jim does that exceptionally well. I also frequent his blog, so needless to say I was pretty excited to hear him talk. The biggest point that I latched onto is that brands need to have a human side. Yes, this is played up as much as ‘engagement’ in social media discussions, but his Twitter account is the perfect example (@newmediajim). He perfectly blends his business and personal life, but more importantly recognizes that he gets more responses from his humorous/ridiculous/witty Tweets than from his serious ones.
Think about it. When we log on, sure we love to be educated and learn new things about our what peaks our interest, but we tend to love these things even more when they make us crack up or make our jaws drop. And that’s where it gets tricky for business on the Social Web: educating your audience with intriguing information, but making it more than the information. What you throw out there is obviously important, but how are you framing it? How are you posting it? Something as simple as posting a Y/N question vs. multiple choice poll on the same topic can be the difference between 2 responses and 200. In the end it all comes back to knowing your brand and knowing your target audience.
Because I used to be heavily involved in acting classes, I like to perform my own little acting lesson with social media content writing and engagement. I try to become the people I’m trying to reach, usually through creating personal profiles of a 3-4 of the “typical customers”, and try to reach into their minds to see what they (or “I”) really want from this company. I will sometimes even talk like them and nod my head a little to really get into character, no joke; once I realize this I start cracking up at my laptop… kind of weird, don’t judge. But that’s what you need to do. You need to know your brand, your goals, your mission – all that jazz – and then become your customer so you can tap into their hearts, minds and wallets.
Thank you Mr. Jim Long for being so great… it’s been a pleasure and privilege. Next we heard from the very talented Eric Weaver, Vice President of Ant’s Eye View, who talked about Social Business. Also a natural at pubic speaking, it was very cool to hear his take on social engagement and how consumer behavior needs to be catered to.
- 66% of people do business on social networks.
- Conversion is higher when a company is engaged socially.
- Engagement is more than the purchase. It’s also about establishing yourself with your target market and making recommendations to broaden their shopping scope a bit.
- Reach out to your customers’ sentiments and emotions. When people become emotionally attached, they are probably going to buy your stuff over someone else’s. This is also because consumers just don’t brands anymore.
- Value the power of creativity over technology. We have all these social analytics tools at our fingertips, but the best tool is listening and engaging yourself.
- 40% of people that Like a brand on Facebook later UNLike them. Basically don’t buy friends on a mad quest for Likes. Only do so if you are actually converting those Likes to purchases. I recently saw Kye Strance, Director of Product Management at Vocus, speak and he touched on Facebook ads. For Vocus the monthly $170 investment on ads has generated a tremendous ROI, so in that case they are definitely beneficial. But if Facebook ads are getting you a lot of Likes but no conversions, nix them from your campaign.
- Social is not a channel; it’s a conversation. “You don’t need a social media strategy” and “There is no ROI” were the two biggest things from @Weave that stuck out to me. As I’m trying to figure out an SM strategy myself right now, this was one of the last (and first, actually) things I wanted to hear. I think I understand where he’s coming. Run with me on this one…
It’s hard to create a strategy because the social landscape is always changing and therefore creating something set in stone is absolutely pointless. Totally agree. How can you tell someone to respond to with when the situation (meaning person, topic, time, network, how it’s framed, etc.) will always be different? Again, totally agree. But here’s my question: how do you create a fluid SM campaign that will go the way you want it to if there’s no proper “strategy” in place? Am I just wanting to control it too much? But how do you ensure that you educate someone and they handle their end of the deal with no proper strategy? Someone please… respond/comment/let me know your thoughts… they will be much appreciated.
Overall great talk by Eric Weaver and a great conference overall. The whole thing was setup by Akshaya Patra, a truly remarkable non-profit organization that strives to provide children in India with food and education. I cannot say enough about how wonderful they are and how amazing everyone from Akshaya Patra who was in attendance was. Definitely check them out, go to their website, and look into donating. Great cause for India’s children to say the least.
It was great meeting all of you! Let’s definitely keep in touch on… wait for it… waiiittt for ittt… social networks (ha…) and continue to share each other’s thoughts and ideas. Let’s grow as a community, not as individuals. Remember Kiruba’s talk where we all wrote down two tips for social media? Well, for those of you in attendance, it would be great for you two share the 2 most important things you learned and are taking away from the 2011 Social India Conference. What are the two most valuable tidbits of information that you will take back and implement for your business?
Cheers and hope to see you all at Social India 2012!
Christopher Morgan Herrera
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