Posts tagged ‘social media’
I met Lucas J.W. Johnson at Merging Media 2011 where my friend, Cinci, suggested I blog about him. Lucas is exceptionally sharp and ambitious – and he has clearly spent considerable time researching the transmedia landscape. I figured it was in my best interest to sponge off his knowledge. (I found his responses to my interview questions to be quite thought-provoking – so I’ve added a few comments after some of his responses.)
What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned about the digital space?
Look at your project from the audience’s perspective.
You come to a project with the perspective of the creator — I have this awesome story I want to tell, and this awesome way I want to tell it.
[But] if you’re going to actually succeed, then before you actually release it, in the process of creating it, you have to shift that perspective, and come at the project from the point of view of the audience.
Not only things like what will they want, but also how they access the project. Imagine coming to the project as someone who’s never heard of it, right when it launches — how do you draw them in, and convince them to stay? What about if they come to it months after it’s launched — how do you make sure there’s an easy way for them to figure out what’s going on, and where they should start?
The same goes for how you’re presenting the story — what if they’re not on Twitter? Not on Facebook? Don’t have a smartphone? Never engaged with a transmedia or digital media project before? Any time there’s any friction, and moment when it’s easier for them to close the window than it is to delve deeper, you’ve lost them.
(I love this so point so much, because I think that seeing your project through your potential audience’s eyes is so frequently overlooked – even though it’s one of the most important aspects… Think about this more broadly: how many sites have you encountered where you can’t immediately find things like donate buttons or how to purchase a product. Or one with the message “we’ll be launching in December 2011. Come back then” with no way to pre-order the product or even enter an email address for updates? Or how often have you attempted to listen to a podcast only to shut it off after hearing an initial 5 minutes that consisted of an interminable and irritating musical intro or a lengthy introduction of who all the hosts were and what they got up to that weekend…)
Was there anything at Merging Media that you were excited by?
Most mindblowing at Merging Media was hearing Henry Jenkins speak (over Skype, interviewed by my friend Simon Pulman ) — he’s an academic, so clearly he’s smart, but man does this guy know what he’s talking about. He spoke about spreadable media, that what will succeed is not that which is easily broadcasted, but that which is easily shared among friends. Entertainment becomes a gift — let me bring you into this new world, let me give you this experience by sharing it.
(This is brilliant. And an excellent reality-check for the “this will go viral” mentality. We all want to have our posts and projects spread, but there are a number of factors that make people truly want to do so. The premise that “I really want people to share this [project/message etc.] so they should” is oddly at the heart of many campaigns and pitches. The concept of the gift is fantastic. And looking at it from that perspective, and of making your content truly great so that people will be motivated to share can be very eye-opening. Because “it’s OK” or “I like it because I made it” or even “it’s good enough” does not constitute a gift.)
What have you learned from players in the Transmedia space (that you’ve interviewed, read about or had at your Transmedia Meetups)?
To be very broad:
- listen to your audience, engage with them directly, build loyalty;
- give a big chunk of your work away for free, especially if you’re working on IP that isn’t already a blockbuster success, to get people in the doors;
- don’t be afraid to pimp yourself, just don’t be an ass about it;
- experiment, try new things, know that you’re going to fail — but get back on the horse, iterate, move forward; genuinely be a good and honest and open person — people like that.
- Finally, do something with your work — be aspirational, be inspirational, be a force for good; you’re asking a lot of people for a lot of attention and potentially a lot of money — to do anything else is irresponsible.
(These are all very insightful. My favorite is the first, because I feel that the direct connection with one’s audience is how social media has truly empowered artists. And it’s a beautiful, exciting and, occasionally, humbling thing to have such an immediate and easy access to people who connect with what you do. But those artists who have something special to offer along with a real relationship with their audience (which they demonstrate that they value) are the ones who gain the most from social media.)
What projects have inspired you?
The ARG known as the Beast, for the movie AI, back in 2001, because it was so groundbreaking and inspiring for the time — now of course it doesn’t hold up and there are a host of problems with doing something like it, but the point isn’t that we should do the things the Beast did, it’s that we should find new things just like the Beast did. Lance Weiler’s Pandemic project, for the hugely innovative and experimental nature of it, and his Robot Heart Stories project for its educational and aspirational nature. Failbetter Games’ Echo Bazaar, for its twisted and entirely engrossing story and setting.
I’ve also been inspired a great deal by the old tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Like transmedia visionary Jeff Gomez, D&D did a lot for me as a kid to be able to express the stories I wanted to tell, and the things that make for a great D&D game are in many ways the same as those that make for a great transmedia experience. (I even wrote a whole six-part article about it all on my blog.)
Lucas J.W. Johnson is a freelance writer and transmedia storyteller from Vancouver, BC. He received his BFA with Honours in Creative Writing from UBC, and has worked in advertising, PR, television, digital media, gaming, and transmedia. He’s published short stories and stageplay, organizes the Transmedia Vancouver Meetup, and is an active member in the international transmedia storytelling community, with his business Silverstring Media. A storyteller above all else, whenever Lucas isn’t writing, he wishes he were. Find him online at silverstringmedia.com, lucasjwjohnson.com and on twitter @floerianthebard
“Azrael’s Stop is very much an experiment for me, but I think it’s a fun one, and I’ve already had people respond quite positively to the story and even the way it’s told. I’d love for you to check it out, and especially let me know what you think, at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Since we’re both children of the 80′s we thought the 80′s gal photo call would be a fun concept:
More about Social Media Radified
Another post you might like: Promoting Your Festival Affiliation via Social Media.
Note: this post was originally published on One Degree.
At a night club recently, I felt the need to tell a guy that I was taken. He then looked at my friend and said, “OK, what about her?”
It’s something I call the “Supermarket Approach”: if you knock enough products into your cart, eventually, one with a honey nougat centre will fall in.
I’d never think it a good plan to dump a bunch of things into my basket and hope the one I wanted would be there. Just as it might to be the best course of action to randomly target single girls.
Or send emails to every blogger in Canada.
“Hey, I like your blog and I want to tell you about a totally irrelevant product” and “Your [cut and paste] blog exists so I thought you, [your name pasted here] would be interested. You guess why.”
And while that’s not a targeted approach, if you do it enough, you will get some results.
“I do think that many marketers tend to think of bloggers as a sort of digital grist-mill, which is a big mistake. A lot of the time, in my particular context, the best pitches and experiences I’ve had have been with artists who are reaching out personally. They understand that marketing through blogs is a partnership, and that it should be mutually beneficial. We’re both after a bigger audience, after all!”
While it is time-consuming to research each blog/blogger and individually tailor pitches, doing so increase the likelihood that she/he will respond – and write about what you’re asking her/him to write about.
A personalised touch is respectful, sets a better tone and will help her/him view you (and your company) in a positive light. The best responses I’ve received as a marketer have been to pitches that focused on why she/he might like the product rather than on the fact that I’d love it if they wrote about it. And I’ve been most responsive as a blogger to pitches that were targeting me based on what I was actually interested in.
So how can you best do this? Let’s assume you’ve done some research and have a list of bloggers in mind for your outreach. Here are some of my suggestions, based on what I aim to do when I pitch. And, to avoid the continuous use of the generic term “blogger”, for the suggestions below, let’s assume her name is Jeanne.
To guage interest and how to tailor, you should try to read:
- A number of Jeanne’s posts. It will give you a better idea of her style and the topics and products she tends to write about. This might provide an angle for your pitch.
- The About and Contact pages along with the FAQs/ Pitch policy ones. Beyond her name and email address, these pages might provide insight as to whether Jeanne is in fact the proper person to pitch for the campaign. (For instance, say the product is location specific: an ice cream available only in Canadian supermarkets. A search leads you to her blog and a number of 2008 posts where Jeanne showcases her unique dessert creations and writes about how much she enjoys living in Winnipeg. Her love for baking might be enduring – but the About page informs you that she’s recently moved to Las Vegas for a job opportunity. Or that she’s since sworn off dairy and sugar. Or, maybe, that she’s not interested in receiving pitches.
When crafting your pitch:
- Make it short, easy to scan – and to the point. Describe the product in a way that doesn’t sound like the description’s been copied and pasted from the press release.
- Address Jeanne by name. Avoid mail merge – or be sure to double-check the fields. (As an aside, my favorite bad pitch had the following greeting: “Dear Author of ‘Monica Hamburg Presents: Your Dose of Lunacy’”. If only there was some way of determining who was writing this blog…)
- Be sure to introduce yourself and mention how you are involved with the company/project. It makes the pitch friendlier, more human and more transparent.
- Make clear very early in the pitch why you are targeting Jeanne specifically. Blogging is a community – and bloggers within niches or cities might know each other, so a templated “I know you’re revered in the foodie world” etc. might not be too flattering if Jeanne later finds that the same pitch was sent to many other foodie bloggers.
- Address the value of what you are proposing. What’s in it for her? You might choose to offer Jeanne a few products so she can run a contest for her readers. Many bloggers appreciate your providing something for their readers more than a treat you are willing to offer just them.
- Address what it is you’d like her to do. Don’t just tell her about the project and hope something will happen. (E.g. You might offer to send her the product so that she might write a review.)
- Create and link to a Media Kit/Page created for the product. This will allow you to write a brief and to the point pitch – and Jeanne to learn more, if she wants to.
Indeed, it is a more involved process than sending out a slew of the same pitches to a large group of bloggers. But it helps you learn about the people you are writing to.
And leads to more contacts with honey nougaty goodness.
Mykel Exner is the Bassist for the band “Kill Matilda”. He recently sent my friend, Bill Allman, an email in which he thanked Bill (who taught him at Trebas Institute) for emphasizing that a band must not leave their promotion to management and the importance of taking control of your own brand and management. Bill told me about the email and I asked Mykel to participate in an email interview about artist promotion. Fortunately, he agreed. Here’s what he had to say. (Note: I took my questions out here as it flowed better without them.)
About the band
Kill Matilda is a do-it-yourself band that has been touring Canada since 2009. We are a 4-piece female-fronted hard rock band that began in Vancouver and has since based itself out of Montreal and South Western Ontario. We’ve self-produced, recorded, released and promoted our self-titled EP along with 3 music videos to support the release – one of which, “She’s A Killer” has been put into rotation on MUCHLOUD, providing us with national exposure. We’ve gone from complete unknowns to playing large festivals like NXNE and opening for acts like Econoline Crush and Die Mannequin. We are blessed with an amazing front person, Dusty, with a killer voice. We have been making a reputation for ourselves for putting on high-energy, fun to watch live shows. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented and dedicated artists and professionals, who’ve seen value in our project and have helped us by lending the skills and talents that have brought us to new levels that we never thought possible.
The DIY Movement
Initially, when you first dream of being in a “well-known” band, you dream about being “discovered” by someone and having them take you and your music to the heights of being a “rock-star” – or even just simply heard and appreciated by a larger audience. The reality of the music industry today is that NOBODY is willing to take the chance with their money or time to push and promote an artist that isn’t already making a name for themselves.
We’re facing a crisis in the Canadian music industry where “Music Industry Professionals” are not equipped with the skills and know-how to even make posters to promote shows they organize. Bar owners don’t see the value in investing in promotion for shows that are booked in their establishments and most bands don’t even know how to begin to promote themselves or the shows that they are a part of. From the inside of this beast, the system looks broken. If you aren’t a jack of all trades, i.e. a photoshop pro – a video editor – a photo editor – a booking agent- along with being an artist and performing musician, you’ll never have anyone take notice of your music or project.
No one is going to take you by the hand, discover you, put you on the cover of the Rolling Stone, put your song on the radio, pick out your first single or do anything for you… unless you’re willing to pay for it… and pay big for it
How Kill Matilda raised nearly $2000 in donations in a week via their merchandising sitelet
We’ve investigated fundraising options out there like pledgemusic.com and others but the thought of “All or Nothing” fundraising really scared the crap out of us. In reality we didn’t need a lot of money to help us reach our goals. One big incentive we found helped make it easier for fans to help us was to include a limited time offer to have their name in the credits of our new album “I Want Revenge”. That push really drove a lot of the action we saw. Providing those unique and one of a kind incentives to your fans really open the door to their wallets.
Building an fan-base online
Basically, we built a strong online fanbase through having a lot of good content online and following that up with a killer live show. We have Youtube videos of us bringing people along on tour, and we provide personal experiences for our fans when they come to our shows. We interact with our fans online a lot and I think that providing that personal interaction combined with kicking some ass on stage live over a long period of time really helped us achieve some of our goals and gave our fans a feeling of being a part of our growth and pride in “growing” with us.
Here is one piece of free advice to performing bands… Mention your Facebook Page on stage as a part of your banter. We urge our new fans to like us on Facebook so we can connect with them and comment on pictures of their cats..dogs…babies… all of that. Give your audience directions and where exactly they can find you. It’s amazing going home after a good gig and logging onto Facebook having fans “requesting” your friendship and “Liking”and commenting on your page.
In 2010, before we left Vancouver we asked our fans which track off the Kill Matilda EP they would like to see made into a music video and through a series of votes and comments they picked “Fault Lines”. It was a pretty fun experience to see people actually care and provide their opinions on what Kill Matilda should do next. Ask your fans questions about what they like… what they don’t like… those sort of exercises get your existing fans talking about you and thinking about you when they start thinking about a question you’ve asked, or associate you with the topic you got them thinking about.
Promoting the “She’s a Killer” video (viewed over 14,000 times on YouTube).
The key is constantly reposting and sharing and reposting and sharing. Encourage your fans to do the same for you. Research who promotes music videos online in your genre, show them and talk to them about your video. Create an “online street team” to post your video on relevant pages and just don’t be afraid to share and re-share! We’ve used “She’s A Killer” to promote Kill Matilda to new listeners and used the video to help us gather a lot of opportunities. (BTW!!! If you like that video share it!)
Social Media in general
Social Media has basically been responsible for Kill Matilda being able to have reached where it has today. Just being able to exist, get further, reach more people, have them listen to our music, watch our videos and enjoy it is really amazing and fun. Without it we wouldn’t be able to operate at all.
My personal favorite was tweeting at Bif Naked and having her check us out. She loved and shared my personal favorite Kill Matilda song, “Geisha With A Switchblade” with her followers. Being a big Canadian rock fan-boy that make me feel like a kid again.
Tips for musicians doing DIY promotion
- Be pro-active not RE-active. Have your own website. Facebook/Myspace/Twitter profiles are good, but a dotcom is the BEST!
- If you don’t care to share about your bands shows or videos or songs online… then why should anyone care about it? Think about your comparables… sound like Tool? then go after Tool’s fans… Sound like Radiohead? Go after Radiohead’s fans. Don’t think you sound like anyone? Then ask someone else. You have to have a comparable otherwise no one will care at all.
- Don’t just promote your music! Promote all music you think is good! Promote other bands shows! Let people know that you are a part of a scene and that you care about not just your success but the success of your favorite bands and your friends bands.
- Learn that there is a difference out there between a “booking agent” and a “promoter” ANYONE can book a show, cats and dogs can book shows. It’s a simple process of saying, “Hey you wanna play at this place at this time?” Booking agents do not promote shows. Get this through your head and you will not be disappointed when no one shows up to your show. Take control of your own promotion because quite simply, the booking agent, the bar owners, the other bands and fans that don’t know about you DONT CARE who you are if you dont give them a reason to care. Its amazing how many show posters we here at Kill Matilda have been required to make for booking agents across Canada. If you allow someone else to control your destiny… to poster for you… to promote for you… to hold your hand and tell you its going to be alright… you might wanna take up another lifestyle choice.
- It is EVERY member of a band’s job to promote. One person should take the lead of course in being pages and website admins BUT if your lead guitarist is “too-cool” to promote… stick your foot in their ass and set them on the right track. No one is too cool to promote, except for bands and musicians that no one has ever heard of or cares about.
Find Kill Matilda:
Want to learn more about Artist promotion? You might also enjoy other posts in my Artist Series.
I’ll be speaking tonight at Projecting Change through Social Media (Club), an informational session for the Projecting Change Film Festival. Stephanie Michelle Scott (my Twitter Workshop/Twitter Parlour partner) and I are conducting sessions on Twitter – however, since we are both passionate about film and have a film backgrounds we’ll also discuss some tips/examples with regards to social media for film in general.
Here are some of my thoughts.
Promotion (is a part of your production)
- Find Your Audience Early. Figure out who your audience will be (you likely already know) and start reaching out early. Start your research ASAP and begin building your audience relationships pre-and during filming.
- Generate and Release Content. Consider what you can put out to create interest during the process. What kinds of material would flesh out your story more (text, video, pics) or give it an added dimension. Remember that your characters had a life before the film too. (In a post on this topic I wrote: “Allowing the character to live in other platforms before the film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the character a larger/broader life – and helps with publicity.”
- Twitter can be an additional platform for the story. Perhaps you could take pictures and create a part of the story that goes out only via this medium.
- Get the audience (and others on Twitter) involved via a Twitter chat. If the film is screening on television have people watch and live-tweet or comment (use something like Cover-it-Live)
- Are there characters who were interesting but received little screen time? Can they become more of a part of the story online?
- If there are follow-ups to the non-fictional account you provide in the film, allow the people involved to record a video about what has happened since.
- Targeting and Blogger Outreach. You are best to truly pitch bloggers when you have something to actually show them, content-wise. (As you know, everyone wants to make a film – but few actually end up completing one.) Really contemplate who would be interested in your project – don’t just target the most popular film-related blogs. Remember that your audience isn’t only composed of film fans and people who read movie-themed blogs. If you’re making a documentary about, say, dancers struggling to find work, you might reach out to others who blog about similar struggles. You’ll get more buy-in if you:
- Remember to personalize the pitch as much as possible.
- Target those who might be truly be interested – not just because their blog is of the same general genre as the film. (Meh: “you write a humorous blog and this is a comedy film”. Better: “You write about the craziness of the internet – and that’s what our film is about!”) Note: this takes a fair bit of research – but it might be worth it.
- Consider the blogger’s time. As is frequently mentioned – for most, blogging is a hobby and a labour of love. Watching a trailer might happen. Watching an entire film is less likely.
- Address what’s in it for them. Don’t be smarmy about it – but if there can be something in it for them, let them know. Often this aspect is neglected and the pitch is is basically: “Here’s how you can help us out!” – without addressing why they would want to.
This is a great way to get clips for your film – even if it’s just short clips or vignettes – providing your outreach tactics are effective. A few examples of films that have invited people to submit clips for their productions include:
- “Life in a Day“: Director Kevin MacDonald and Producer Ridley Scott invited creators from all over the world to capture their world in 24hrs on a single day (July 24, 2010) and upload to YouTube. The winning content was then edited into the final film, a Sundance hit. (Watch trailer).
- Of course, not everyone has the clout and reputation of these mainstream directors. But independent productions can also fare well in obtaining crowd submissions. For instance, “Lost Zombies“ received thousands of submissions of “zombie encounters” – far more than anticipated. (They are now in the final submission stage. More information about the project on the Lost Zombie site, on this post and on 4D Fictions post/interview.)
- “DSB the Movie” a film which “tells the story of the Netherland’s DSB Bank NV which was declared bankrupt by court in October, 2009.” All elements of this film were crowdsourced including the film’s logo, producer, scriptwriters, soundtrack, editor, camera, actors, and publicity. (Read about it on David Meerman Scott‘s post – which includes an interview with the director.) Crowdsourcing everything is not something I would recommend doing – but it certainly worked for this production.
For a documentary film, audience-produced content can be particularly compelling since people can submit their own, personal, experiences – and particularly cost-effective since people can be filming anywhere rather than your sending crews to other locations.
Here’s where your social media savvy can really come into play. Filmmakers are now asking people to micro-fund their film – be it by simply asking for funds, offering financers credits in return for cash, or selling products to make some money.
Getting people interested in financing some aspect of your film will be (slightly) easier if you have something to show them. Which is why compiling materials and working on YouTube videos early on about your production will be doubly useful.
Keep in mind – it might take a number of years to get the money you need.
Spanner Films has written a useful guide on how to Crowdfund your film includes the following tidbit:
“If you are planning to make a campaigning film like The Age of Stupid, then you should definitely try to find a way to access the people out there who are already aware of and give a monkeys about the issue you want to highlight. If you can get some campaigners believing in your idea early on then they can be a huge help finding investors. You need to explain clearly why investing in your film is a strategic and cost-effective way to further your cause.”
A few examples of projects being crowdfunded include: “I Am I“, “My Million Dollar Movie” and “Iron Sky” which, writes Ross Dawson, has “four different mechanisms for raising money directly: a store selling merchandise such as T-shirts, a sneak peek of the first minutes of the film for which fans can pay any amount from 1 Euro, Fan Investments for qualified investors and up to 99 individuals in EU and some other countries, and ‘War Bonds‘, which are basically framed certificates.”
There are also many examples of productions (e.g. Paranoid Park, Moderation Town) which cast online (e.g. via YouTube etc.). This can be effective for certain parts, can drum up publicity and can allow you to watch more auditions than you could in a single casting session. (I don’t like the process of seeking votes for submissions – but I’m also speaking from an actor’s perspective.*).
There’s obviously lots more to say on how to leverage social media for film. Please comment below with your suggestions, examples and input.
For further reading, a few posts on the topic are bookmarked here (including some I’ve written).
(Note from Monica: Originally the amazing Tanya Roberts and I were running the workshop, but Tanya is at full capacity with her work and I am fortunate to have another awesome and brilliant gal to work with. I am thrilled to have Stephanie Michelle Scott of Wildfire Effect as my new partner.)
We’re aiming to offer this workshop, geared towards beginners, monthly. If you’d like to be kept posted, please fill out this quick form and we’ll keep you in the loop. (We might also offer advanced sessions at some point in the future. Again, please fill out our form if you want to be updated.)
FYI, the sessions will be informative, educational – and fun!
General Session Information
You’ve heard that Twitter is a great marketing tool, but you still don’t get it, right? As Steven Berlin Johnson wrote in his Time Magazine story on Twitter, “The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression. The service allows you to send 140-character updates to your followers,” he writes, “and you think, why does the world need this, exactly?”
The goal of this workshop is to demystify Twitter and give you tangible, real life examples that you can use to get on the Twitter bandwagon, beef up your marketing efforts, and ultimately grow your online presence.
- Twitter: What is it good for?
- Getting Set-up: Creating a compelling profile and generating content.
- Growing Your Following: Building your following and engaging followers.
- Twitter & Marketing: Adding social media to your marketing mix.
- Best Practices: What works? Real life examples, cautions, and what “not to do.”
If you’d like to read more about us, check out Tanya’s post here.
And if you’d like to get an idea of my presentation style, here’s a video of my Northern Voice talk on “Finding Your Online Voice”.
Recently, I was preparing a presentation on Twitter for a client*. To emphasize the benefits of using Twitter, I wanted to give them an example of a business in their industry (restaurant) which had seen results. I emailed some questions to Chuck McIntosh of Pourhouse and he was kind enough to respond. (Note: find them on Twitter at @pourhouse_van)
Q: What were/are your key objectives re: using Twitter?
Chuck: few things we focus on using Twitter:
1. To generate positive awareness and new customers for our business.
2. To constantly keep top of mind consciousness.
3. To keep in touch and communicate with customers, their needs, and moderate feedback.
Q: How do you use Twitter to drive business, communicate etc.? Do you use Twitter separately or is it part of a larger social media strategy?
Chuck: We use multiple social sites to drive business and to communicate with customers. Yes, we use both Twitter and Facebook among others, they all work together to create our social network.
Q: What benefits and results have you seen from what you’ve done?
Chuck: Consistent feedback from customers in real time, people tweet straight from the bar or their table about their experiences. Whether good or bad, we can address it immediately which has been fantastic for us. Another obvious benefit is the awareness it creates. If someone is having a positive experience and they share that, others read it and want to try Pourhouse as well. If you consistently strive to make every customers experience great, then you are getting a consistent feed of testimonials sent out from people to their friends, you can’t beat that. And if there are negative ones, you can monitor them and deal with both the customers concerns and with your staff immediately. It’s a great monitoring system.
Q: Would love some links to coverage you’ve received re: your use of social media.
Many of these articles came from the awareness that our network creates.
Q: Can you offer tips or suggestions for others in your industry in terms of what you’ve learned, discovered?
Chuck: When using Social Media, be real and authentic, be consistent, and contribute.
*On a related topic: In July, Tanya Roberts and I will be running a Twitter for Business Workshop together. If you would like to be put into our database to be notified of the date of this session – or to find out about future monthly workshops, please enter your name and email into this form.
One more thing: Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen wrote a great post “How to Find Your Blogging Voice – 8 Tips for Bloggers” which mentions some points from the “Finding Your Online Voice” talk I gave at Northern Voice.
This is just a quick plug to mention that I contributed an article to the May 2010 issue of Dan Schawbel’s “Personal Branding Magazine“. My piece is entitled: “You’re not a Product: But You are Your Presence”.
Here is the issue summary:
Volume 3, Issue 4 is focused on celebrity spokespeople, and includes interviews with famous individuals, such as Kathy Ireland, a former model turned entrepreneur, and Vanna White, from the TV hit “Wheel of Fortune.” Celebrities are able to maximize their brand, leverage it, and even endorse products and other companies. In this issue, you will learn how to become the ultimate spokesperson for your own personal brand, and achieve success. You’ll read tips and tricks on how to turn your voice into money!
Dan is offering a free sample (containing 9 of the articles) on his blog. Apologies though, I’m posting about this late, so I’m not sure that if you end up subscribing you can receive the full version of this particular issue anymore.
However, I will post my article next month on this blog for my lovely and patient readers.
Truly, “Be Yourself!” is a tall and painfully vague order. I remember this advice from when I was young(er, er) and just starting to date. And before job interviews. And auditions. And. And. And.
And therein lies the problem. Sometimes who you are, really, is not readily apparent to you. Sure, you have a vague idea, but do you really know? (For instance, recently, at a friend’s wedding, the groom made a toast and described me as having a very big heart. Sure, he was drinking at the time, but descriptions like that floor me.)
We all have an image of ourselves. Further, there are things we want to project and aspects we are uncomfortable showing. And some traits which we come to value more over time. For instance, my sense of humor has only recently been any public use to me at all. Being funny isn’t something we tend to encourage in women. One of my friend’s remarked (quite profoundly, I think) that if you saw two people on a date, and it was the man who was laughing at what the woman said, it would strike you as odd. Women aren’t the ones expected to be funny. (To that effect, there’s a recent article that talks about this in the latest Scientific Mind.) I am also aware that being caustic has implications in how people perceive me. I occasionally have to make an effort not to censor myself too much to avoid those judgments.
We are frequently encouraged to stifle our personalities and silence our voices. It’s certainly been the case with some aspects of my personality and my experiences. In fact, I think for many of us, who we are, is to some extent not who we were supposed to be.
So we want to write smarter, have people believe we are [insert characteristic here (upbeat, professional, charming, together etc.)] I tried a few times to be be poised, because I think women who are, are lovely. I can’t hack it though, and it becomes really painful…
Now, how do we get to who we really are… Of course, write, write, write (Oh, noes…). Also, ask your friends what they think of you. No, really. Just tell them to tell you the stuff they like.
With regards to suggestions, let’s begin from there:
- Ask your friends how they would describe you. Try this: Your best friend meets a new co-worker that she thinks would gel perfectly with you. She says, “Oh! You have to meet my friend!” He says, “Really?! Why?” She responds, “well, she’s just like you, she’s _____. “ What would your friend say here? Use any many adjectives as you can. This will give you some idea of your positive (or, at least, enjoyable ) traits.
- Read other blogs. You’ll learn what you like, what inspires you and, as Dave Taylor notes in this brilliant tip: “One of the best ways to learn your blogging voice is to read a lot of other bloggers and ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with their writing style, whether they seem to be a friend chatting with you or some self-important twit pontificating, and which you find most appealing. Then be inspired by that and try to create a writing persona that matches what you believe are the best practices.”
- Did you particularly enjoy writing a specific post? Or feel proud of it? Look at why: is it more “like you”? Did you enjoy the way you approached it? Sometimes it’s that one post in which you find your voice.
- If you are interesting in writing content that is more intimate, more revealing, take a look at Isabella’s book recommendations and this blog post on “Blogging Yourself Home“. (With respect to journaling privately, I also enjoyed her post on “using your negative voice“.)
- Even if you don’t consider yourself “a writer”, you can find the authentic “you”. To make the process less daunting, take Matt Crowe’s advice on how to finding your voice as a blogger: “Think about what do you absolutely love doing more than anything else in life and blog about that.”
- Jean Berg-Sarauer also suggests journaling: “When you let yourself write about anything you want with no intention of ever showing your words to another living soul, it feels safe to be real. And the more you let your authentic voice come out in your private journal, the easier it will get to bring it out for your readers.”
- Additionally Jean advises that bloggers let their writing suck on initial drafts – to be cleaned up later. I understand how difficult it is to allow yourself to do so, but she’s right, it really helps. You can forget about proper spelling and grammar for a moment, and give yourself permission to leave blanks when you can’t find the words (trust me, getting stuck on trying to find that elusive word can be time-consuming and inspiration killing). You might feel like a dolt during the process (“Wow, I can’t even formulate sentences… What an idiot,” but allowing yourself to just write without censoring, just as it pours out of you can be very eye-opening – and freeing.
Note: I’ll be posting the slides for my talk tomorrow on this blog, and on Slideshare.
I asked a few bloggers I knew to fill out a short survey. One of the questions was:
“Did you have any difficulty finding your online voice? If so, how did you discover it? Do you have any tips on that for new bloggers?”
(Yes, these are three separate questions I asked as one. This made the form look shorter and hence. more likely to be filled in, and I apologize to no one for that! No one!)
Here are some of the astute responses: