Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't Be a Social Media Mercenary

I'm a fan of seasoned marketer and entrepreneur, Seth Godin. I like how he weaves an inspirational message in between the lines of his articles. Seth wrote an interesting article this week that focused on the dangers of "trading favors" when it comes to social media. This paragraph especially caught my eye:
The problem occurs when the trading of favors become mercenary, when alert individuals start manipulating the system for personal gain. Suddenly, every favor is suspect, measured and not at all generous. Suddenly all the likes and links and blurbs become nothing but currency, not the honest appraisals of people we can trust. It means that bystanders have trouble telling the difference between honest approval and the mere mutual shilling of traded favors. 
He brings up a great point. Social media brings out the "mercenary" in people. Do your followers REALLY like your blog? Are fans just "liking" your page because they want to win an iPad?

For small businesses or anyone who sells a product or service online, take Seth's words to heart. Before you retweet or like, think about your intention BEFORE you click the button. Social media has turned into a popularity contest..."how many likes do you have?" And do 500 likes on your Facebook page really mean anything at the end of the day?

Before you start begging people to like your Facebook page or follow your blog, think about Seth's message of trading favors. Social media is about helping other people, and sharing information without asking anything in return. My advice for 2012: don't be a "mercenary" on your social media networks. Don't go into social media thinking that people owe you a favor, because they don't. An aggressive "me-me" approach won't get you far with your marketing...or your online reputation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Author Dr. Annabelle Charbit Shares The Inspiration Behind Her First Novel, A Life Lived Ridiculously

How does a busy mom juggle her writing and neuroscience careers AND the launch of her first novel? It makes my head spin just thinking about it, but Annabelle is proof that women writers can do it ALL! I interviewed Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit about her deliciously sinister yet humorous fiction novel, A Life Lived Ridiculously. When I read the first chapters of her book, I was doubled over with laughter. If you have ever dated a sociopath (or someone with sociopathic tendencies), you will definitely want to check out Annabelle's book.

A Life Lived Ridiculously is the story of one girl with obsessive compulsive disorder, and what happened when she was seduced by a sociopath...


When a girl with obsessive compulsive disorder falls in love with a sociopath, she must fight for her sanity and her life.

Maxine’s brain is stuck. Everything around her feels wrong and the only way to fix it is to check, double-check, rearrange and count everything. What Maxine can’t fix though is her parents’ constant nagging over the absence of a Jewish husband. A humiliation that is further compounded when her younger brother runs off with Miss Perfect. 

Then she meets Sam, a smooth-talking charmer with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and enough terminal diseases to wipe out a small village. Maxine decides that Sam is her salvation, never mind that his life is more depressing than a Greek tragedy, and others are urging her to get away from him. The problem is that Sam has Maxine under his spell. Will Maxine escape from Sam before it’s too
 late... ?

Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit grew up in London, UK, and has been writing since 2006 when her comedy play, Sound Advice, was performed by CP Theatre Productions in London. In 2007, she was published in the London Paper and in the British Neuroscience Association’s Summer Bulletin. 

Annabelle holds a PhD in Neuroscience from University College London. She has been researching migraine headaches at UCSF in San Francisco in which she has been published in scientific journals. Her inspiration behind A Life Lived Ridiculously stemmed from her research as a neuroscientist.

Annabelle is a guest writer for TheFrisky.com, an online magazine that took notice of her humorous blog, Crazy in a Crazy World, which explores life’s big and little annoyances that could drive even the sanest person mad.

Interview with Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit 
1. What inspired you to write a contemporary fiction book that tackles two very serious subjects about OCD and sociopaths? 

A: I wanted to write a story from the point of view of people with distorted thinking. As a neuroscientist, I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness especially obsessive compulsive disorder. There are too many people suffering in silence. Sociopaths are fascinating too, because they are everywhere (4% of the population). Whether a spouse, partner, colleague or relative, most people (whether they know it or not) have a sociopath in their life. I had one in my life and found him fascinating. The way they look you right in the eye and lie. The fact that they are capable of anything, because they are not limited by the same moral boundaries as the rest of us. Even the way they talk -- they have this amazing ability to monologue incessantly while actually revealing nothing. I wanted specifically to capture this trait in my sociopath’s voice.

2. I know you’re a busy mom. How do you juggle marketing and promoting your book? Any helpful tips or tricks to pass along to fellow mom-writers/authors?

A: It's all about time management. Once you've passed the 'dark stage,' which is first three months of baby's life and you are able to sleep and have a schedule, then you can work on it for a guaranteed amount of time each day. In my case, my daughter takes a nap at 12 noon and by 8pm is asleep for the night. Those are times when I can work every single day. It's not always easy, because sometimes I need to be doing other things while she sleeps. But at least, I know I can do something book-related every day, no matter how small -- even if it's just a matter of responding to an email.

3. What's the ONE thing you wish you knew NOW that you didn't know before your started your writing and publishing journey?

A: You need to have low expectations. Sometimes agents will request full manuscripts and then you'll never hear from them again. When you enter a writing contest, don't expect to win. Rather see it like playing the lottery. You'll always hear news of other people winning, but don't take that as a sign for yourself. If a writing contest costs more than a few dollars, don't waste your money entering.

Finally, I don't recommend wasting your time querying agents. Find publishers who accept direct submissions and go to them first. Keep agents out of the equation. Some publishers have an electronic-only arm, which allows them to accept more first-time authors at little risk and cost to themselves. Then you get to market your novel and if it does well, they'll then publish in print. For example, Ampichellis Ebooks is the electronic arm of Martin Brown Publishers. I suspect this will happen with more and more publishers and eventually, we'll be able to do away with agents altogether.

4. What are the best marketing tips/advice you want to pass along to authors, especially for those who are lost and don't know where to start?

A: The best advice I could give is to be a guest blogger on other people's blogs -- that way you are reaching an already established audience. Most bloggers welcome guest bloggers as it enriches their site. So it's a win-win relationship.

5. Are you working on your second book? Can you give us a "hint" as to what it's about?

A: For my next novel, I'm researching personality disorders. I want my main character to be borderline or schitzotypal, but that's as much as I'll say for right now. 

6. Where can readers find more information about A Life Lived Ridiculously? When is your official release date?

A: The official book release date is April 12, 2012. It will be available in print and eBook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million. If you would like to order an author-signed copy of my book, you can pre-order from my website www.ridiculouslife.net. There's also a book giveaway on SheKnows from February 20 to March 20.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Stops You From Telling Your Story?

Last week I wrote a pitch for a guest blogging spot for a health/wellness-specific blog. My friend forwarded it to me because of my background and journey with yoga. My friends and family know that I'm Miss Yogini and that yoga is a part of who I am. The criteria of the pitch was to send a brief synopsis about your personal health and wellness story. I sat and thought about it for awhile. I've had a long journey with yoga; yoga has played an integral part in my life and goes beyond just "exercise" for me. I couldn't imagine NOT practicing yoga and meditation. 

As I wrote my pitch, I thought about the twists and turns my life has taken over the years, and how yoga has been the glue that has held me together. I don't think I would even be an entrepreneur if it hadn't been for the positive influence of yoga, and how it's helped me mind, body and soul. No matter how stressful or crazy my day or week has been, I simply return "to the mat" and know all is right in the world...or at least, in my world.

People don't like talking about themselves. I have worked with clients who were "phobic marketers" because they did not want to come across as braggarts. The ego is a funny thing and can be a double-edged sword. But without your ego, you couldn't get up in the morning, put on your clothes and walk outside that door (or sit at your desk, if you work from home!). However, the ego has a mind of its own, and can also turn someone into a narcissistic show-off (as I have seen in social networking groups).

How can you tell your story without coming across like a fake or a boring windbag? Where & how do you start?

We all walk different personal and professional paths. Our experiences make us stand out and set us apart from each other. However, don't let your ego or your insecurities get in the way of telling people your story. 

If are shy and not sure how to overcome your story-telling barriers, try these tips below. Even if it's merely passing along sage business advice that your grandpa once told you when you were younger, that's a step in the right direction...AND it's definitely part of YOUR personal story. 

Create content that resonates honestly with who you are, and what your brand, products and services represent.

Whether you are the manager of a high-end retail clothing store or write ebooks about dog breeding, find your authentic voice and stick with it. The best way to tell your story is through blogging. You don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to write a blog that captures readers' attention. And don't copycat other people's blogging style. Find a style that fits well with your business climate, industry and  your personal voice. Before you start blogging, research other blogs in your industry/niche to get a "feel" for what's out there. Check out my blog editorial tips. 

Do people know HOW to find you? Where can they read your story? 

  • Is your bio hidden on page 5 of your website? Do you even have a bio? 
  • Are your press releases and articles included on your website? 
  • Make sure you have a section on your website or blog (About or Media/Press Section) that organizes your content in one place. It makes it easier for people to quickly find you and to learn about your story. 

When was the last time you searched online for your name or company brand?

Enter your name or company name into Google. What comes up in the search engines? If you don't have ANY information listed about you or your brand, that's not a good sign.

Sign up for a Google Profile and always include a warm, engaging photo on your social media networks. You don't want someone else telling your story for you...tell your own story! Make it easy for people to find you via your picture and online profiles. You want to stand out in a good and positive way -- especially if you have a common name. 

How do you share your story with others online (or offline?) I'd love to know! 








Friday, January 6, 2012

Are You a LinkedIn Rules Follower?

I participate in many helpful groups on LinkedIn, and I have learned a lot from my fellow business professionals. One of the moderators in one my groups posted a "group rules" reminder for the new year. Some of the members were not pleased with her rules and complained. There is a reason we have rules. 

As a result of the complaints, fellow group member, Brent Jordan, wrote the following post addressing the need for LinkedIn rules. His article could apply to ANY online forum, chat room, social media group, etc. Without social media and "netiquette" rules, we'd have utter chaos (and a LOT of spammers!) I like his playground analogy - he brings up practical, valid points about why we need rules on LinkedIn. 

"LinkedIn is yours in the way the local playground is yours. If you want to ride your skateboard on the basketball court, you can probably get away with it for a while. But if a bunch of kids show up with a basketball, it’s time for you to find another place to ride. You can’t throw rocks at the other kids either. That will get you thrown out. And you can’t drive your ice cream truck into the jungle gym area and start selling ice cream. Some might say, “Why can’t I do that? There are hungry kids that want tasty snacks. This isn’t fair!!!” 
One reason. Rules. And the rules are there to make the playground community safe and enjoyable for the vast majority of people who use it. It’s unlikely everyone will agree with all the rules. But, it’s not really ours, is it? It belongs to the city. They get to make the rules based on their own convenience and what they perceive will be the best and safest use of their property." 

Motto of today's blog post: if you don't like the heat, then get outta the LinkedIn kitchen. No one is forcing you to participate in LinkedIn, but the rules are there to help the group collectively. It's our playground. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

5 Ways to Reduce Negative Complaints on Social Media

Happy New Year! This week has been busy for me as I launch into the new year. I'm on a mission this year to include informative content provided by value-added bloggers and marketers. Once again, I share my favorite topic: online reputation management. 

The following free white paper 5 Ways to Reduce Negative Complaints on Social Media & Review Sites by Ryan Chambers, principal/owner of Adapt Marketing & Design, tackles why companies need to stay on top of their online reputation. 

According to PowerReviews.com, 92% of internet users read review sites and 89% of people say that reviews influence their spending decision.

Company policies are often overlooked and this white paper shows why customer service and HR policies are important. Who can afford to have disgruntled former employees write nasty-grams on their company's social media? 

Ryan Chambers, principal of Adapt Marketing & Design, points out that social media marketing goes beyond just blasting out a few tweets.

It's all about engagement, and you need to talk ABOVE the social media noise. "While you can't please everybody, you should try your best!" says Chambers. 

It's more important than ever to stay on top of your online reputation management in 2012 - check out Adapt's white paper for more helpful social media tips! 

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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