Monthly Archives: January 2020

Jan 27

The Little-Known Law I Wish I Would Have Learned 18 Years Ago

Uncategorized

An unexpected answer to a group of college seniors after hearing a particular question.

“How do you handle rejection?”

This question was posed to me by a student in the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) club after I recently spoke to their group at the University of Wisconsin. I was sharing the strategies I’ve used to earn quotes & features in major publications like Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Money Magazine in the past couple months.

My answer?

“Have a lot of opportunities in the pipeline.”

I want you to use this law to your advantage now.

The students posed this query with the implied question, “What about all the times you didn’t get quoted or featured? What about all the times you’ve failed? I wish someone would have told me that there’s a little-known law that will help you handle rejection, and had I known it then, I would have avoided a lot of disappointment.

Parkinson’s Law and how it can positively affect your attitude

Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law? It was first described in The Economist in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, and simply states:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Think about it this way — let’s say you have one task to accomplish during a semester-long class in school, and it’s a term paper. You have 14 weeks to write it. When do you finish?

The night before. Typically after pulling an all-nighter, right?

Why?

Although — given you had the necessary knowledge — you could have finished your paper the first week of class, you waited. Why? It’s easier to procrastinate AND there’s no tangible benefit to finishing the paper early. As a result, your task grew to occupy the entire period allotted. You didn’t need that much time, you simply took it because it was offered. “Successful” completion of the project was decided for you. As long as you weren’t late, you felt good about using the time given.

Let’s reframe Parkinson’s Law to help you achieve the things you want through minimizing the effects of failure. Let’s rephrase the definition above as:

“Hope expands so as to fill the opportunities available for success.”

After 3,000 in-person sales meetings over a seven year period between 2008–2015, I realized one major truth: you cannot control your outcomes. You can only control your activities. Some deals will completely blow up in the 11th hour, and some will seemingly happen by magic.

If luck is being the right place at the right time, ensure you’re in the right places at the right times as much as you possibly can.

By growing the opportunities you have “on your mind” at any given time, something really cool will start to happen. Negative outcomes will mean less because you have so many other possibilities. Positive outcomes will pop-up and surprise you because they weren’t top-of-mind. You’ll start being called “lucky” by your friends and colleagues.

Use the simple concept from Parkinson’s Law to limit the time you spend reflecting on the tasks called failures, and continuously fill your opportunities to expand your hope.

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? Do you agree with my interpretation of it?

Jan 24

Set Yourself Up for Success with Productive Sundays

Uncategorized

Using the weekend to prepare for the work week ahead often sounds like a daunting task to many people. The thought of work on days off can often lead to the "Sunday Scaries"- that dreading feeling of returning to the office on Monday. Instead of enjoying the weekend and focusing on rejuvenating from the following week, the days are spent stressing out about the dwindling time.

Often, Mondays are the least popular day of the week. Why is that? People are dragging in the office and overwhelmed with the workload that has stacked during the weekend. However, there are things that you can do make the transition from the weekend to weekday easier while increasing productivity.

5 Ways to Enjoy Sundays to Prepare for Success

1. Do your house chores

During the week your laundry list of chores (and literal laundry) grows as you rush out the door to get to the office every morning. By getting your house chores all done on Sunday, you avoid the unexpected moments, like running out of your last clean pair of socks.  A clean environment is often more welcoming to come home to than an unorganized disaster. Getting your house chores all done on your day off will reduce your weekday list. Doesn't that sound nice?

2. Prep for Monday

Prepare for Monday on your Sunday evenings to lighten the workload you put on yourself in the morning. Make your lunch, prep your outfit, glance at your emails, and make your to-do list. By preparing for the office before Monday morning, you reduce the risk of missing an important project. Impress your colleagues by keeping yourself informed even when you're away from your desk. 

3. Get Organized

Set your plan and goals for the weekdays that lie ahead. Setting goals for yourself helps to reinforce old ideas and helps you meet your deadlines. Fill out your calendar with important dates and times to remember to create balance between your work life and your personal life. Whatever organization method works best for you, take five minutes out of your Sunday to create that list, set those reminders, or place those sticky notes. 

4. Get Moving

Don't forget to exercise. I know...another thing to add to this list. However, endorphins are the best way to clear your mind and rejuvenate your body for the upcoming week. Exercising increases your productivity by reducing stress, clearing your mind, and increasing your energy level. So, when the Sunday Scaries start to roll in, put on your walking shoes and get moving.

5. Reset your Mindset

Reset your mindset by looking at Mondays from a new perspective. Instead of thinking, 'I have to go to work'. Change your thoughts to, 'I get to go to work today.’ Easy to say, right, but how can someone actually enjoy Mondays? The start of the new week means it is a new beginning to set goals and work on improving yourself. Take each opportunity to learn something that can add value to you. Negativity can easily affect productivity, anxiety, and stress. By changing your mindset, you are in complete control of your emotions and ultimately your future.

Do you use Sundays to their full potential? How do you help ensure your productivity remains strong throughout the entire week? Let us know in the comments below!

Jan 20

‘Un-produce’ It!

General Info

When I was just out of college – technically, while I was still in college – I had the good fortune to be hired by IBM. Big Blue describes its three core values as:

  • dedication to every client’s success;
  • innovation that matters, for our company and for the world; and
  • trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.

My time at IBM taught me that if you share those core values – which are written down and accepted by fellow IBMers – you’d better live them. Putting clients first, innovating for the sake of mankind, and trust in all relationships all sound like great aspirations, but I saw them in action every day. That’s because theywere both genuine and authentic.

As a result of that experience, I’ve held IBM and its research in the highest regard. I know the quality of its data is both world class and, more importantly, something from which we can learn and take action. For example, a recent IBM study of 4,800 “CxOs” (i.e., CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, CMO, etc.) asked this question: “What is your biggest barrier to an integrated digital-physical strategy?”

The overwhelming response? Sixty-three percent said they lack a cohesive social media plan. What does this tell us? Determining where social media fits in your existing business is really hard. What you say (messaging), where you say it (platform), and how often you share (frequency) are all factors — among others — that determine your success. Without a plan, though, how do you know what success really looks like?

Going a step further, if you observe a company actually doing social media well (i.e., large follower counts and high engagement on posts), it may be a little tough to determine why it’s actually working. Should you simply emulate what they’re doing? What if the techniques they’re using are not appropriate for your target audience?

There’s one strategy you can implement today that will make things dramatically easier for you. Most of the emerging social media platforms (like Instagram Stories and Facebook Live) can be summed up in one simple word: unproduced. Instead of content that is highly edited or refined by a graphic designer, users are typically uploading photos or videos directly from their phones with very little concern for lighting, sound quality or finishing touches. If any editing is done, it consists of simple captions, a filter to emphasize feeling or highlight a particular location, or even drawings on the screen.

What does the rise of these emerging platforms tell us? People using them desire simple, raw content. They value authenticity first, and production quality second. They want to see if you really are who you say you are.


For example, I regularly advocate or make assertions about steps that, if put into action, can lead to greater success in the realm of communication.To support my assertions, I provide proof on social media documenting how I actually do these things myself. I take a quick snapshot or video with my phone, share the proof with my audience, and get back to work. 

Every one of us with a smartphone currently owns our own media company. At any time we can show the world what’s going on around us, and our audience can share in our experiences. 

As both an individual and as a representation of your business, what are you sharing with the world? Do you highlight your outstanding customer service as a component of your business? Prove it. Show your audience that you’re practicing what you preach. Do you tout the quality of your products and production process? You don’t need a professional film crew to create a documentary. Use the smartphone in your pocket to provide proof.

Regardless of which social media platforms you use, adopt a culture of genuine, transparent behavior. This mindset will position you as an outlier in the most positive sense possible, and you’ll engender trust with your target audience. When developing your social media strategy, start with this word: authentic.

Jan 13

You Are Ruining Your Reputation- Buying Instagram Followers

Instagram

It seems that today everyone wants to be the next famous Instagram influencer. Brands now commonly market their products on social media platforms by using influencers as their 'celebrity' ambassadors. This has lead a lot of Instagram influencers to make a quick buck just for promoting a product. But how many of these influencers are being genuine? Would you buy your way into the fame and fortune that comes with being an influencer?

Do the numbers really matter?

Unfortunately, yes. The number one way firms recognize success on social media is an increase in social following. Followers represent the number of people who see your content and the higher the number the bigger audience you are reaching through marketing efforts. Having a high following somehow creates a sense of trust in the audience that the account creates great content...content they NEED to see or they are left out.

To think of it simply:

Followers + High engagement= perceived popularity and brand deals

Why Buy Followers?

Organically gaining attention to individual profiles has become more and more difficult because social media platforms have become saturated with the number of users. Unfortunately, the numbers get bloggers noticed, not the content. The number of followers has become an indication of success, popularity, and importance. 

Once a blogger has obtained a following, this is when the brand deals start rolling in. Free products, paid sponsorships, and promotional offers are given to influencers to display to their followers.

You can charge brands up to $2,700 USD per post according to Financial Times. Four to 20 million followers can charge up to as much as $17,500 USD for every sponsored post they upload. So buying followers can be perceived as a good investment for a long term return.

Sounds pretty good right?

Wrong.

Buying Followers is a Dirty Business

Ethics and moral codes are sacrificed the moment followers are purchased. The brand deals, paid sponsorships, and other perks from having a public following are not given because of the hard work put into the content. In fact, the content is no longer being shown to an audience that is going to engage with your posts, but is advertising to bots and spam accounts.

The business that has made a brand deal with these blog accounts are not reaching the audience they intended on. The money spent to have their product market was wasted and essentially they were scammed. 

Buying Followers Actually Damages Brands

By buying followers brands are actually damaging their reputation. If people can recognize that you are purchasing your followers, the sense of trust they once had in you is broken. Influencer fraud ruins the authenticity of your following.

Not only does it make you look bad, but it skews with your numbers. A brands own marketing efforts will be damaged after purchasing followers. Bots that generate comments or engage with content are not actually going to purchase a product or service. 

But no one can tell when followers are purchased, right?

Wrong, again.

5 Ways People Can Tell If Followers Have Been Purchased


1. Fake Instagram Followers Don’t Engage With Your Account

2. Sudden Spike in Followers or Likes

3. Bot Comments on Posts Do Not Make Sense or Are Inappropriate

4. Spam Comes with Bought Followers 

5. Accounts That Follow You Have Very Few of Their Own Followers and No Postings

Instagram recognizes and purges fake followers so there is commonly a lot of fluctuation in followers of accounts with influencer fraud. Not only is it wrong morally and ethically, but buying followers is against Instagram Terms and Conditions and can get your account permanently suspended.

Markerly analyzed Instagram influencers and found that out of the the 2 million accounts analyzed this was the average engagement ratio:

  • < 1,000 followers average about 8% engagement
  • 1,000 – 10,000 followers average 4% engagement
  • 10,000 – 100,000 followers average 2.4% engagement
  • 100,000 – 1 million followers average 1.8% engagement
  • > 1 million followers average 1.7% engagement

It is a big red flag to followers of a brand if your likes-to-followers ratio on any post seems too high or disproportionate. If a brand gets thousands of likes on its content, but not a single comment it is clear to the audience that the likes have been purchased.

So How Can a Brand Become a Successful Influencer without Fraud?

Focus on creating content for a specific audience and make that your niche. Whether it is marketing, account, beauty, fitness, make one topic your focus and run with it. Niche accounts will build an organic following when they provide value to their audience. 

You have to pay to play. Market your brand by running ads on social media. Your brand can target specific audiences and ensure that the numbers will not be skewed when analyzed. 

Show content that speaks for itself. If your profile looks really insightful and valuable to the viewers, the numbers tend to matter less. Gain the right audience by giving them content they did not know they needed until they realized they were not seeing it. 

Focus on engaging with people's posts that you enjoy and supporting other accounts. By showing support you are likely to receive support back. Like, comment, and share your favorite content and focus on being thoughtful with your engagements. 


Have you found ways to gain an organic audience through one of these techniques? Have you been turned off of a brand because of influencer fraud? Let us know in the comments below!

Jan 06

How to Take Your Instagram from Personal to Professional

Instagram , Uncategorized

Today, utilizing social media can be the number one way to get your business started. The large number of users over social media platforms makes it possible for your business to gain recognition quickly. Not only is Instagram saturated with users looking for content to follow, but Instagram allows for personal pages to become specific for business.

How can you make your personalized Instagram professional?

Follow these eight steps:

  1. Go to your profile and tap  in the upper right corner.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Account.
  4. Tap Switch to Professional Account.
  5. Tap Business.
  6. If you'd like, you can follow the steps to connect your professional account to a Facebook Page associated with your business. This step is optional, and will make it easier to use all of the features available for businesses across the Facebook family of apps. At this time, only one Facebook Page can be connected to your professional account.
  7. Add details, like your business category and contact information.
  8. Tap Done.

By creating a professional account, you are able to gain access to business features and Instagram Insights. These insights help you as a business owner to better understand the demographic of your audience. Understanding your audience can help you to create better content to resonate with those users. By clicking the '39 profile visits in the last 7 days' at the top of the page, you can then access your Instagram business insights.

    Another way to view your insights:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap .
  3. Tap Insights.
  4. Select specific posts, stories or promotions you'd like to view insights on. You can also learn more about your audience.

You also have the option to display or hide your business category and contact information on your profile. After setting up, go to your profile and tap Edit Profile. Go to Profile Display under Public Business Information to choose whether you want to hide or display your category label and contact info. Then, tap Done.

Create Ads directly from Instagram:

The most convenient feature Instagram offers after creating your business page is running ads directly from the app. You can use the promotions button to run post ads or story ads.

Creating a promotion can also be accomplished by selecting the post on your profile you wish to promote. You then can select the blue 'promote' button on the right side. This will then redirect you to selecting the promotion details.

To Create an Ad from Instagram:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap Promotions.
  3. Tap Create Promotion at the bottom.
  4. Choose a post you'd like to promote.
  5. Tap Next at the upper-right corner.
  6. If you didn’t link to a Facebook Page when you set up your Instagram professional account, you will be prompted to connect a Page. You can choose an existing Page or tap Skip.
  7. Fill in the details of your promotion by setting things like Destination (where to send people), Audience (who you want to reach), Budget (how much you want to spend daily) and Duration (how long you want your promotion to run). Tap Next once you've completed these details.
  8. To complete your promotion, tap Create Promotion under Review.

Instagram will then put your promotion into the 'review' process. Once reviewed and approved, your ad will then begin running on the Instagram platform. Your promotion must meet their ad policy requirements in order to be approved in the reviewing process. Once your promotion is running, you can review its insights by selecting the Promotions button.

    To Delete your Promoted Post on Instagram:

    If you wish to delete a promoted ad from your profile, you must first delete the original promotion. If the promotion has already ended, you must first delete the original promotion.

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap Promotions.
  3. Tap View Insights under the promoted post you'd like to delete.
  4. Scroll to the bottom and tap Delete Promotion.
  5. Go back to your profile.
  6. Tap the post you want to delete.
  7. Tap ...
  8. Select Delete and confirm that you want to remove this post.

There are many more features that your business can use to enhance its Instagram account such as:

  1. Control your viewers age
  2. Change your call-to-action button
  3. Connecting to Business Facebook 
  4. Promoting your website

These steps can always be reversed and your account can be switched back over to a personal account.

For more information and helpful tips on Instagram visit: https://help.instagram.com/

Is your business Instagram set up to be a professional page? Did you know you could access the insights from within the Instagram app? We hope this was helpful!

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