Botox is either a miracle cure for migraines and worry lines or a toxic scam – it all depends who you speak to.  Fuelled by our obsession with youth and beauty, it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million injections were given in Australia last year alone.

When did we decide that older does not mean wiser, and in fact, now means unattractive and unwanted?

Somewhere along the line it has become unappealing to let others see our emotions. The smile and frown lines we have come to expect and rely upon, are disappearing. If a person’s appearance is frozen and expressionless, how do we know what they are thinking and feeling? And more interestingly, does anybody even care? Are we trying to mask the facial clues or cover up the underlying emotions?

We now have infinitely more tools to articulate ourselves but do we really have better communication and relationships? More and more we find ourselves relying on highly impersonal means – SMS, Facebook, Twitter and email – to keep in touch, convey information and build relationships.

It seems like we are talking to everyone but not really connecting with anyone.

Only 7% of your communication is attributable to your words and 93% is conveyed by non-verbal means. Even though it is largely unconscious, you rely heavily on body language to discern what is (and is not) being said. Without these vital clues, you must make assumptions to fill in the gaps and hope that you are right. Oftentimes, you may find that you have missed the mark completely.

In essence text messaging, social media and email are the communication equivalent to Botox.

They allow you to defy time and distance by reaching MORE people but connecting with and accomplishing far LESS.  What happened to the good old days when you picked up the phone and spoke to the person you needed to be in touch with or met them in person?

Perhaps we’ve all just become far too busy for such primitive means?

Technology does have its place in our personal and business lives – but when is the last time you shot someone an email in order to avoid speaking with them? Have you ever sent a message and later discovered that the person on the other end took it the wrong way? I would bet you can think of a handful of examples where you have used technology in order to sidestep a difficult situation.

My point is this – if you want to build effective relationships and influence others you need to take responsibility for the effectiveness of your communication. While it may be easier to cut corners, inject fillers or hide behind technology, the wrinkles it creates will eventually come to the surface and bite you on the cheeks. Not only is it cheaper to grow old and communicate directly, it is also more beautiful and less addictive.

Do you want to receive unsolicited offers?

Do you have a profile on Linkedin?  If you do, this information is vital to your privacy and the sanctity of your ever-precious Inbox.

If you’re a professional or business owner, chances are you use a mix of social media tools (such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+) to build your brand and your circle of influence.  And if you are like me, you have had to learn quickly how to manage your account settings on each one to minimize the amount of spam and unsolicited offers you receive.

Linkedin has recently made some changes which allow your names and photos to be used for third party advertising.  The default setting on this function grants your permission, even though you have never specifically been contacted or asked. What this means is that you will now begin to send and receive alerts and promotions that appear to be endorsed by you or people you trust.  It all looks legitimate, except none of you have granted your permission.

Thankfully, this is easy to fix.

Here Are 4 Simple Steps to Change Your Default Permission Setting on Linkedin

1. Click on your name on your Linkedin homepage (upper right corner of your profit). On the drop-down menu, select “Settings”.

2. From the “Settings” page, select “Account*”.

3. In the column next to “Account”, click “Manage Social Advertising” .

4. Un-tick the box next to “Linkedin may use my name, photo in social advertising” .

One of the things that I like most about Linkedin is that I receive a lot less spam, MLM offers and unwanted messages than on other social media services.  If you are like me, you’ll want to take steps to keep it that way.

Also, if you are concerned with that amount of email that you have been getting lately from Linkedin, you may also want to check the new default settings under E-mail Preferences and Groups, Companies & Applications (such as Data Sharing with 3rd-party applications). All of this can be managed simply by you in your “Settings” tab.

This way YOU can decided whether you want to be Linkedin or Linkedout to unsolicited third party offers.

If you don’t know what you are doing, social media can become a nightmare

“With great exposure comes great responsibility.”

Without a doubt, social media marketing is the great equalizer. Until the arrival of  WordPress, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, big business had an unfair advantage.  Any business could of course create a website but few had the resources and  knowledge to capture global exposure and sales.

Most SMEs had to settle for direct mail, local newspapers, networking,  pay-per-clicks etc. because they simply could not compete with the big budgets  of the big brands. In most cases, the advertising mediums with the biggest reach  and frequency – TV, radio, online banner and outdoor – were out of the grasp of  the average small business.

Social media marketing changed all of that.

With social media marketing, anyone can create an online presence and broadcast their  uncensored views or talent worldwide, for less than $500. People like Justin  Bieber and Lily Allen went from middle class obscurity to millions of fans and  multi-million dollar careers virtually overnight due to social media.

Neilson published stats show that the world now spends over 110 billion  minutes on social networks and blogs. What this means is that you, I and your  prospects now spend 25% of our time (around 12-15 hours a month) visiting these  types of sites. And unlike the consumption of other types of media, social media  is doubling year on year, it’s inexpensive and it’s now available 24/7 on mobile  devices.

And therein lies the problem.

Good and bad news, whether true or untrue, can spread online like an  epidemic. As opposed to advertising (which is initiated by you), a large  percentage of what is said in social networks (and social media marketing) is contributed by people outside  of your organization. How do you keep track of every single thing that is said  or written about you? It’s almost impossible to monitor and control where and  how your brand is mentioned online.

That’s why social media marketing has the potential to boost your reach and sales  exponentially, but it could also easily bring out the worst in your company.  With this in mind, what do you need to consider and do in your business to  mitigate the risks?

1. Social media marketing is for social interaction

The focus of traditional marketing and advertising is on lead generation and  sales. However, in social media marketing, it’s all about engaging with others, exchanging  information and creating relationships. In order to excel in the realm of social  networks, you will need to offer value upfront (to gain followers) and then  focus on getting to know them and understanding their needs.

Prospects and customers are more interested in the interaction they have with  you than they are on the deals or special offers. If you don’t engage with your  followers on their terms, you risk doing more harm to your brand than good.  Think of how many people and businesses have asked you to “like” their brand,  re-tweet a message or join their mailing list in the past 24 hours? We are  inundated with brands talking at us in social media and it is getting harder to  create an impression and persuade us to act.

2. Look for opportunities to turn around customer experiences

You will discover more in one week about your brand in social media marketing circles  than you will find in a year of traditional research. People don’t censor their  opinions when they share with their friends and you are likely to hear a lot of  stories of how you have fallen short of expectations. All of this is a very good  thing because it means that you have a direct opportunity to make it right. Of  course, you have to be listening and you need to have a strategy on how you will  deal with it. In the absence of these 2 things, you are actually worse off  because the story will spread like wildfire and it will carry a much greater  weight since it is shared among friends.

Most will mistakenly view social media marketing as a great place to sell more stuff.  It is actually a far better place to listen to what your customers are saying  and take action to turn bad experiences into positive ones.

3. What is it really costing you?

On the face of it, social media marketing appears practically free. However, when you  factor in the time it takes to produce content across various mediums, cross-  promote it, reply to followers etc., it could easily turn into a full time job.  Your time (or the time of a team member) is valuable and needs to be measured  against the returns generated by the online activity. Return on investment  online is a function of both tangible and intangible factors.

In my experience, far too many small businesses are getting caught up in the  hype of social media marketing without a clear understanding of the real cost or return.  Why spend hours a day posting and interacting online if you can generate a  better response by speaking directly to your customers or asking for a referral?  Social media marketing only promises you can talk to more people for less money, it  doesn’t guarantee that anyone will listen or that you will earn the same return  on investment that you could receive elsewhere.

4. Be clear about your brand and branding strategy

Prospects often need to see the same message many times before they will  decide to take action. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to  overload your audience with too many messages because you are trying to be all  things to all people. Repetition is the key to retention. In order to be  remembered and acted upon, your message should be consistent across all channels  including your social media marketing. This means that wherever your prospects and  customers see you, they have to experience your brand and your message in the  exact same way. This can become difficult when you are trying to manage multiple  platforms and respond to what is happening in real time.

It pays to have a very clear strategy before you embark on social media.  Social media marketing is not like traditional advertising channels – it is very fluid and  dynamic. As such, circumstances can change on a daily basis and you need to  outline ahead of time what your key messages are and how they should be  communicated consistently to your audience.

5. Social media marketing is not for everyone

Who manages your social media marketing? If it is not you personally, does that  employee or part-time contractor understand what your plan and overall strategy  is? In many cases they may be the most direct links to your target market and  everything that is said by them on your behalf will have far reaching  implications for your brand and company.

If they are responding to a disgruntled customer or worse, an insane person  who is just trying to create trouble, do they know exactly what to do to diffuse  the situation? If the situation gets out of hand, at what point do you find out  and become involved? Do you have the means to take action and protect your brand  if matters get out of hand or you become the target of defamation?

The reach and potential of social media are great – so are the risks. While  it may seem harmless and fun on the surface, the capacity to do irreparable harm  to your brand is very real. Social media marketing  needs to be entered into with a very  clear plan. It’s not something that you should delegate freely or allow to run  unmanaged.

Start first by monitoring what is said about you and your brand online. There  are many free services online which can assist you to do this. Take some time to  investigate what your competitors and other well known brands are doing in this  space. Then, once you understand the key platforms and what you hope to gain on  each by participating, you can begin to create a community of followers with  confidence, control and safeguards.

 

 

Which do you think is more powerful?

What do you think of Google’s answer to the Facebook “like” button – the “Google +1 for business”?

The Google +1 for business is Google speak for making search more social and to combat that growing omnipotence of Facebook. The Google +1 for business feature allows users to vote +1 on search results they find useful, and to share that preference with their connections in Google chat, Gmail, Google Reader, Google Buzz and Twitter. Users are already amassing and viewing the total number of +1 votes and the names of their contacts who have posted their preferences.

If you caught the last 60 Minutes interview with Mark Zuckerberg, it was reported that Faceook has overtaken Google in terms of preference for web search and page views. Facebook also reports that an astounding 75% of its users log in every single day and many people use it actively to research products and companies – not by viewing their websites but by looking at what their friends have to say about these brands and businesses.

Seems like in addition to SEO, pay-per-click and content marketing, we now have an even more powerful web optimization formula – it’s called “He Said/She Said” – and you don’t need to be a tech guru or an advertising specialist to figure that one out! Before you make a new purchase or try out some new cloud application, do you just do a Google search or are you now also relying on the recommendations and experiences of your social media network?

Google has been all knowing and all powerful in the area of internet search for quite some time – heaven help you if you did something to influence your SEO ranking and they didn’t “like it”. They could wipe you off the world wide web map by dropping you down to page 99 and their was nothing you could do about it. Times sure have changed… Google may not be the #1 employer of choice for IT experts anymore- some believe it has lost more senior managers and IT developers to Facebook (than any other single company) in the past year.

The way I see it, Google must innovate now (and Google +1 for business is just one example) or it will surely go the way of Altavistsa. I know, I know… some of you Gen Y’s out there are saying Alta- who? Enough said.

 

More important than originality or intrigue, is the ability for a writer to help us experience the world in new and meaningful ways. Far beyond the obvious – the power of words to make you hear, to make you feel, to make you see—and above all to make you dream. Words hold the power to define and eradicate boundaries – both physical and mental.

Twitter has the potential to separate the literary men (and women) from the mice! Where else can you say so little or so much with 140 mere characters?

I would advocate that if you can master the following Twitter secrets, you will have learned all that there is to become a better, faster, more concise, compelling and articulate writer.

Keep it Simple

Tweeting forces each of us to think and write simply. With only 140 characters available, it is imperative to get to the point and be succinct.

Know When Enough is Enough

Ninety-eight percent of communication is knowing what to say AND what not to say. Enough said.

Be Relevant

Pay attention to what is newsworthy and topical. Be prepared to break new ground and have a unique or controversial opinion. In particular, watching the current trends (and items which are hash tagged) will allow you to put your finger on the pulse of public opinion and shed new light and insight on hot topics.

Get To The Point…the Entire Point NOW!

With Twitter, you have no choice but to start and finish your thought(s) in one short sentence. This necessity will enable you to focus your mind, idea and words in every aspect of your writing – articles, blogs, books etc.

I sometimes wonder what the great literary geniuses – Hemingway, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Frost, Austen and Chaucer – would have thought of Twitter? I doubt they would have bothered to bore us with the details of their everyday movements online and I have no doubt their true genius and literary prowess would have shone through and put us all to shame – in 140 characters or less.

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