3 Reasons to be on Social Media

Social Media Meme courtesy of seomoz.org

Social Media Meme courtesy of seomoz.org

Social media marketing is more than playing on Facebook and pinning to Pinterest. It requires thought, strategy, hard work and commitment. But, before you can develop a strategy, you have to be present on social media.  Whether you are already a believer or not, social media marketing is the future. It will be essential for conducting business.

Social media marketing is an important part of your marketing, customer service, and community presence. It is more than having one or several social media accounts. Participation within those sites is key to making it successful. It takes commitment and work in order to develop your brand on line.

So getting on board early, rather than later, will give you an advantage over your competition, establish your company as an industry leader, and prepare you for the evolving technologies, tools, and best practices.

Here are 3 reasons for you to jump on social media & develop a strategy:
  • Competitive Advantage – we all want it. We all need it. Social media marketing provides an innovative way to introduce your brand and what you offer to a geographically limitless community. Anyone who is interested in what you offer can seek you out. But, you have to be able to be found and the only way to do that is to be part of the social media world. Simply having a Facebook page, a website, a Twitter account or Pinterest page isn’t enough. Being present is a good start but in order to have the advantage, participation is key. Think of it as a cocktail party. Showing up is the first step, but you have to mingle, start a few conversations, listen, respond and be willing to collaborate. It is a delicate balance and one that has no secret formula. But, the more you do it, the better you get. If you want to have an advantage over your competition, and who doesn’t, then having a social media marketing strategy is key.

“Think of [social media] as a cocktail party.”

  • Leadership -it is imperative. When your current or potential customers are seeking you out they want the answer to one question: why should I choose you? If you have established yourself as a leader, an innovator, understanding not only your product, but what your customers/ community wants in your product then you will be able to cater to them on a personal level. Being on social media in the places your customers already are and participating in the conversations that are already happening around your product, brand, industry will help to establish your leadership in the industry. The willingness to be present in the online social world is just the first step. Providing relative content, listening and not just lurking in the social world, and providing opportunities for your community to get involved with your company will enforce your leadership role.
  • Technology – some love it, some abhor it. Despite your feelings toward technology and social media tools, if you aren’t active and up to date on the trends and tools, you will be left behind. It is clear that the social media world is not a fad. It is not going away. It is increasingly becoming an integral role in successful businesses. Without this medium for marketing, listening, and responding to your customers/ community, you will eventually be so far behind the curve you will become obsolete and the potential to harness this avenue for customer/community interaction will likely be unavailable or unattainable.

Here is an infographic by Mediabistro.com about social media statistics:

This infographic is courtesy of mediabistro.com

This infographic is courtesy of mediabistro.com


Why I Love Mobile Coupons

mobile_couponsEveryone loves to save a buck, especially when little effort is involved. When I discovered the Kroger app on my phone for my local grocery store (Smith’s) I was hooked. I would scroll through the app, find the products I normally buy or think I might buy and add them to my card. At checkout they are automatically applied – almost no thought involved and on average I would save $5-10. Not bad.

I started thinking that it would be great to save even more with other coupons, but to be honest I don’t have the time to cull the Sunday paper or online sights just to collect, print, organize, and then remember to bring the coupons with me. Not to mention, I don’t particularly want to print out coupons and then have to present them in store. It’s just too much effort and waste of a tree.

I would love a coupon App that carries the brand coupons and have the ability to add the ones I chose to my loyalty card (or cards). In the meantime I found a list of apps that come close:

These are the ones I have found, but not all Apps have availability in all areas (i.e. 8coupons is NYC only, but looking into other major markets).  If you know of any other Apps or sites that offer great mobile or electronic coupons I’d love to hear about them, feel free to share them below in the comments. Also, if you have any tips, feel free to share them also.

Here is a link to a story The New York Times wrote about some of the apps I listed above.

Book Critique: Rhoda Janzen’s “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress”

Rhoda Janzen book coverIt’s one thing to read a book about faith. It is another to read a book about the realities of life colored by faith and the struggle women face in reconciling the two. In reading all these books about women, their spiritual journey in discovering who they are and what their faith means both in theory and reality of life, it is clear that each woman experienced radically different life events with flavored with faith, and yet, they are all exactly the same.

As women we endure life. We take what comes our way, we fight and live, and accept the best we can in the circumstances we have been dealt. We forge a path that blends the faith ingrained within us and the life choices we have made, reconciling the evident discrepancies between them. In Rhoda Janzen’s book, “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” she traces her life’s journey through chapters that vaguely, if not metaphorically represent each chapters’ life lesson.

I admit, I had no idea what a  Mennonite was and so, I looked up the definition:  A Mennonite is “a member of an evangelical Protestant sect, originating in Europe in the 16th century, that opposes infant baptism, practices baptism of believers only, restricts marriage to members of the denomination, opposes war and bearing arms, and is noted for simplicity of living and plain dress.”

Having this understanding, it makes clear how she handles the most devastating event of her life – her husband leaving her for a man he met on gay.com. She repeats this many times (in almost that exact phrase) throughout the book – I think because to her it seems so unbelievable that putting it in print reminds her that it’s real. Calling her real estate agent in response to the news and her husbands’ leaving seems an irrational reaction, but taking into consideration her faith it makes sense. Her reaction and continual journey to find an explanation for this unexpected turn of events seems to consume her. This has not only been a life-changing event, it has also defined her.

Rhoda JanzenGoing home, for many people, is cathartic. It reminds them of their roots, both why they left and the longing for a feeling of belonging. It is both comfortable and energizing. Home is like no other place in the world. It reminds us of where we came from and who we are and are not.

Rhoda’s tone in the book is slightly comical, plain – as her faith teaches her she ought to be, and relatable. Women, despite varying circumstances, understand the pain, suffering, triumph and victories that life handed Rhoda, and in turn ourselves. We can empathize even if we have never walked a day in her shoes.

Janzen’s plainness translates well into transparency and makes the book easy to read. As a writer I tried to take in her stories both individually and as a whole. Understanding how she weaved the stories throughout the book to make a cohesive whole is an important skill I am working on refining.

I appreciated her perspective and her skill as a writer. I hope to be able to take pieces from this book, her story, her life and translate it into my own writing.

Google News: The Purification of Journalism?

ReporterThere is no doubt that journalism is changing (or as some say, “unraveling”). The way the world consumes the news is no longer fetching the morning paper and turning on the evening news. We are no longer passive consumers, we are actively seeking the news, sometimes creating it ourselves, and sharing it with our friends, family and the world.  We are questioning everything and attempting to create new avenues for a revenue solution. Without the news, who holds the government, the people accountable for their actions? Journalism has a history rooted in government, accountability, and truth.

newspaper1 picWhen things change we recoil. We have a knee-jerk reaction to the new. However, we are seeing innovative approaches to writing, sharing and selling news or stories in an attempt to recover what once was and what will be. Google has thrown a wrench into the whole process. They have issued a warning that if news is tangled with promoted or sponsored content that the publication may all together be excluded from Google News. A concerning thought comes to mind when a company attempts to assert any kind of control over the news industry.

The question becomes who controls the news?

Should news companies retain their independence or allow companies like Google to issue decree’s about they way they write and share stories? This idea of independence is a false notion – media companies have long been controlled by someone other than the idealistic theory of truth and impartiality.

However, in this case it would seem Google is vying for a strong role in deciding what news is or should be. However, money has always played a role in journalism, news curation and distribution. While tried and true journalists would like to consider themselves impartial, telling the truth and damn anyone who tries to stop them, the reality is that monetary responsibility and politics have always had a voice. The problem is without money to pay for the publication and the writers who tell the stories, how does the story get written?blog word picHere is where it becomes murky: with the introduction and prevalence of the internet and blogs, anyone can write and share stories. This allows for the story to be the most important thing, but there is no money in and of itself. The key has always been the eyes reading the content. While your story may be true and real and honest, without the eyes to read it, the story doesn’t matter. When the eyes are reading what you write, that’s when the money comes and the advertisers and eventually – the dictation.

Is Google trying to keep the news as pure as it can be? Or are they simply another voice among the noise having its say. And as the largest search engine in the world, they have a strong say when exclusion is their bargaining terms.

Is it fair? Is it right? Is there another way?

Buzzfeed has embraced the idea of sponsored stories. What do you think?

The Jonah Epidemic

JonahWhat is it about faith that we boast its value, it necessity, and then when asked to trust God, to choose his way over our own ideas and choices we often forego the decision of the omniscient One and believing that we know better choose our own path. Or sometimes, in blatant disobedience we opt for the direction that is most pleasing to our senses and the least offensive to our preferences.

This is what I call the Jonah Epedemic. We as Christians are plagued with free will. Many times we hear the voice of God calling us to a place, person or people, or area of need and because of the distaste we have or our preconceived notions about it we reject the voice of God and choose our own path. The problem with this is that God allows us to do just that. He gently calls us, nudging out hearts to choose his path and we ignore it. Finally, God gives us over to our own devices. The result? In the case of Jonah, our choices lead us to a situation that ends up far dire than the path God had laid out for us. When we finally repent with humility, He, in his ever pursuant grace, leads us to place we were so determined to avoid and we are happy to be there. Anything, to be far from the desperate place we just found our selves to be. The best part, despite our Jonah like efforts to foil the plans of God we are never beyond his saving grace and out stretched hand.

Jonah : Read the whole story about Jonah

Book Critique: Lauren Winner’s Real Sex

real-sex book coverLauren Winner is brave. Writing a book about her struggles with sex and choosing chastity as a Christian (and the failures of it) is somewhat of a taboo subject – even in this sexually active and mostly accepted cultural standard. She has an accurate understanding of sex and society, especially in Christianity. The research is intriguing and a little disturbing. The idea of chastity in this era is laughable at best and a social leprosy at worst.  lauren-winner pic

Lauren Winner discusses the clear contradiction between common Christian beliefs, the lack of commitment to some of those beliefs and the culture that defies those beliefs. She embraces this subject and uses her life as an example of how both Christianity and the secular world clash. It’s uncomfortable and somewhat difficult to swallow – truth is hard. Her willingness to tackle a difficult subject is admirable.

Lauren Winner spends a chunk of the book discussing sex, what she calls straight talk. She lays out the differences between Christianity’s stand on sex within marriage, the secular worlds view, and lies that both tell. She doesn’t pull any punches. She is honest and direct.  Comparing Lauren winner’s writing style with that of Anne Lamott, Lauren is much more straight forward in a serious way. While Anne Lamott is open, she is like talking to your best friend; Lauren Winner is more like talking to a counselor. Both are open. Both are direct. But the tone of each is very different.

Lauren Winner teaches me as a writer to not be afraid of tough subjects. If it is something that I’m passionate about, something that has impacted my life, it is an important story to tell. Both writer’s teach me that I have to be willing to lay it all out, to stand proverbially naked and accept the chastisement and judgment that will come. People react to what they agree with passionately, and are more aggressive in opinion when it offends them or touches on something they would rather not bring to light – the whole ostrich with its head in the sand thing. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. I hate that attitude because it always does more harm than good. By taking a cue from both writers I can address what matter’s and hopefully do good with it.


Book Critique: Lauren Winner’s Mudhouse Sabbath

mudhouse sabbath piclauren-winner picMudhouse Sabbath is written in a style hat is slightly more formal but still personal. What I appreciate about her technique is that she chooses topics for each chapter and uses different events, books, and experiences in her life to discuss the particular theme of each chapter, how her life was affected, and how she translated it to her new faith. I also like that she blended both Jewish language and the translation for it in the titles of the chapters. As a Christian who understands the Jewish heritage of my faith and the point at which they diverge, I found this book intriguing. I understand, in an American way, points of similarity and differences between the two faiths. I also understand her thoughts about both faith’s and how both have positive and negatives.

 The entire book is a compare and contrast between not only Jews and Christians, but also Jewish tradition and the American apathy about tradition and formal roles of people and family. It is interesting and makes me wish that a certain amount of formality still existed in society.

Instead, we have migrated so far away from such behavior that to go back would be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I can see her struggle with the tradition of her previous faith/life and her move to Christianity and its differences. Perhaps there is something that Christians can learn from the tradition and formality of the Jewish faith and heritage.  Perhaps there is something that the Jewish faith/heritage can learn from Christianity. It is interesting to ponder the notion that there is a difference between Jewish faith and heritage and American heritage and Christianity. We forget that this is true and often blend them into one.

 Lauren’s journey into Christianity through the eyes of Jewish upbringing is a unique perspective. It warrants contemplation by both sides. The blending of these two faiths is certainly much easier than another faith or set of faiths, but there is still a tension that you see her struggle with. Almost all of her chapters discuss this blending in the context of the Sabbath. She discusses traditional and contemporary Judaism and their differences and then compares that with how traditional and modern Christians observe the day. There are so many bits and pieces that for Christians, I think they miss out on what it truly means, “to rest” and Judaism is at the opposite spectrum. Perhaps Lauren Winner is onto something with a hybrid between the two. There is something to be said for reverence, Sabbath observance, and learning to rest and remember that Christianity is desperately missing.

 The ending of the book surprised me. It just ends, almost as if there was going to be another chapter. I’m used to a wrap up; something that sums up what was written or some kind of saying that gives you something to ponder. This just ends as if to say, “okay I’m done now.” It feels awkward and I feel myself wanting and expecting more. As a writer, while I know it is always good to the leave the reader wanting more, typically that seems fitting for fiction and not a memoir or other non-fiction. I didn’t think this was effective.

Social Business – Going from Qualitative to Quantitative

Steve Farnsworth's Old Blog

Social Business Study

In many organizations social business seems like a qualitative exercise. They think, “We need to do this because it will make our organization work better together.” Ed Brill says this perspective would be short-sighted.

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★ Social Business – Going from Qualitative to Quantitative

Social Business Study

IBM decided to put some quantitative data around social business to find out if social was helping them as a business. Like most organization IBM has inside sales, which they call Teleweb since they use phone, email, etc. talking to customers. So, they decided to take a closer look at their Teleweb team and ask, “When using social, are they demonstrably more successful?”

IBM had Rutgers and Duke researchers come in, set up control groups, and then track metrics. They found the Teleweb team that used a combination of public social tools and internally deployed tools, like IBM’s…

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Storify: The Debate on Marriage Equality

The Supreme Court arguments heard today on Marriage Equality (or Gay Marriage) is a topic of hot discussion. Everyone has an opinion whether they choose to share it or not.

It is a difficult position to be at odds with popular belief and to hold strong to ones convictions and beliefs. Below is a Storify about this topic.

As always, if you have thoughts on this topic please feel free to share them below. Remember to be respectful of all opinions whether you agree or disagree.

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