What happens when you stop responding?

+Taylor Swift (middle) and me (third from right) photo by +Sony 
If you were to poll 100 celebrity accounts with over 500,000 followers across social media, I think you would find something interesting. Most of them do not actively interact with their audience. Sure, they may call out an individual tweet or reply to an occasional comment, but for the most part, their audience interaction is limited.
For traditional celebrities, this seems very rational. +Taylor Swift probably doesn’t have time to reply to thousands of comments, and if she tried to, it would turn into a cascading time suck. However, if she started to reply to each and every fan, would it ruin all of the excitement for those that do hear from her?
Watching several “non-traditional” celebrities, more of the Internet type, writers, commentators and corporate big wigs, I’m starting to notice a trend, that people are more likely to engage with those that are less likely to respond. Take +Vic Gundotra‘s posts, for example. If you watch what he and his colleagues post, you will always see a myriad of responses, some form more prominent Internet figures. However, most of them know that the likelihood he will respond is fairly low. So why do they bother to comment on his content?
I’m wondering if there is a “critical mass” in terms of tribe size or follower count where content creators should limit their audience interaction in an effort to increase engagement on their posts. It’s a continuation on my theory of “manufacturing scarcity” but I think it also applies in the social realm.
I believe that in personal branding, we are taught to interact with as many people as possible as often as possible to help establish our authority in our particular niche. However, is there a point where well-followed individuals should curb their audience engagement to encourage more interaction with their posts?
Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about totally eliminating interaction, but showing your audience that you’re busy doing important things and can only interact occasionally. By creating this artificial scarcity, does the engagement become more valuable?
It sounds crazy, but I think it might just work…

#thinkaboutit

Can you manufacture scarcity?

Variety of Scarcity” by bryanesque is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Recently I was reading an article my dad sent me about +Bobby Flay and his new mission to open a new restaurant in Manhattan–a city with plenty of restaurants already.

It got me thinking. Something like 80% of small businesses fail, and a large number of those are restaurants. So, if a certain type of business has a shelf life, why don’t we exploit that and build it into the business model?

What I am pitching here could be a billion-dollar concept, assuming you can figure out how to lower overhead and control costs. What if you opened a restaurant with an incredible chef, trendy decor, fresh menu items and everything that food critics are clamoring for, but then tell the world that the restaurant will only be open for 9 months. Can you manufacture scarcity?

After time, the restaurant is doomed to fatigue, grow out of its honeymoon period, wither and become stale. People will stop talking about it, and the food costs will rise as the revenues subside. However, if you knew that you could only keep that concept vibrant for a certain period of time and exploited that by telling the world, could you keep the place packed before it was time to close up shop?

#thinkaboutit

What are you known for?

talk to the experts by Mai Le is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday serves as a great day to ask yourself, “what are you known for?”

No, we won’t all move mountains. We won’t all change the course of human history. We won’t all make it into the history books, but we all have the opportunity to make a change in the world. It can be something small, something big, or something that only affects a single person.

Regardless of what you want to be in the world or what you want to do, people will always associate you with certain things. If you work with them, they might just see you as a co-worker, if you bowl with them, they might just see you as a bowling partner, if you do great things though, they might see you for your accomplishments.

One of my biggest struggles as I have created my personal brand identity, is to figure out exactly what I want people to think of me as. Do I want to be a SEO expert? Nah. A community management expert? Maybe. A social media guru? Definitely not. A storyteller? Probably.

The challenge of trying to define yourself as a topical expert of one particular niche is important if you want to be a known authority for that particular subject. But, what if you’re like me and you’re interests are all over the place? What if you love consumer electronics, but also have advice for how small businesses can better use social media to attract new customers? What if you like debating issues like social media platform design and application user experience?

Can you truly be the master of anything if you enjoy so many different things?

I have been watching quite a few characters on Google+ recently, and I’m starting to notice a trend. The people that are regarded as topical experts post a lot about their given topic. However, a large number of them seem to cross over, post and comment on things that might be tangential to their focus, but not necessarily their blockbuster topic.

The bottom line, though is these people always return to what they do best, and because of that, they are known for that. +Mark Traphagen is on top of everything related to Authorship in SERPs. +Ronnie Bincer knows every technical aspect of Google+ Hangouts, Hangouts on Air and YouTube interface. +David Amerland has established himself as an expert on semantic search while +Dustin W. Stout  is leading the wave on fresh, purposeful content and engagement. Need to know anything about Google+ on the whole? +Denis Labelle and a slew of others likely have you covered. Android news? +Derek Ross is all over it.

These examples are people that have chosen to focus, and because of their focus, they are rewarded with being known for their focus. Those of us that chose to be interdisciplinary won’t achieve the same recognition of these individuals, and won’t stand out in a crowd for being the best at any one particular thing.

By diversifying your interests, you have the ability to learn so much about so many different things. However, in doing so, you can sometimes sacrifice the opportunity to be known as an expert. Regardless, though, how important is it to be known as an expert of one particular thing?

As I look to shift my career, I’m learning that ambition is no match for hard work and years of experience. Hiring managers and companies looking for consultants don’t just want someone that knows what they’re talking about, they want someone that can prove that they have consistently performed. These individuals, by choosing their focus and continuing to teach and share have done exactly that.

For the rest of the year, I am going to be asking myself, “what am I known as?” But until I figure it out, maybe you can help, what do you know me as?

To Share +1's or Not to Share +1's

Yesterday I was perusing my stream on Google+ when I noticed that +Dustin W. Stout had +1’d a post by +Taylor Swift. Now, I couldn’t help but think it was out of place for someone as savvy as Dustin to broadcast his interaction on a post with a mega celebrity that doesn’t have much at all to do with his realm (being awesome at the Internet).

When I privately alerted Dustin of what I thought must have been a mistake, something that he had overlooked, I got a reply that made me totally reconsider the way I thought about sharing +1’s.

Within minutes of seeing Dustin’s reply, I noticed this post in my stream by +Chris Jenkins that had been “vetted” by +Mark Traphagen+Derek Ross and +Eli Fennell (three people that I highly admire).

Prior to the screen capture, I didn’t have +Chris Jenkins in my circles. In fact, if the three people that I trust so much hadn’t +1’d the post and had their accounts enabled to show +1 recommendations, I never would have seen the post appear in my stream.

When the +1 broadcast feature was initially released, it was met with two schools of thought. One was that those that decided to turn the broadcast on, would either self-censor themselves or “over-share” and possibly +1 things that didn’t fit their brand or niche. The other school of thought was that by enabling the feature, you would allow your followers to be open to a whole new world of content and creative people.

Sadly, at the time of the release, I bought into the first theory. I didn’t want to censor myself by changing the way that I 1+ content. I wanted to +1 whatever the heck I wanted to, and not worry about someone else seeing it appear in their stream. I wanted to show everyone I was following that I was listening.

I guess at a certain point in your Internet presence, that school of thought is okay. But, with a large audience comes a bit of responsibility (at least in my mind) which is why I think I should take the opportunity to share what I find interesting with the rest of my followers. Starting today, I’m going to think about what I really enjoy reading, watching and engaging with. As I find things those things, I think it’s time to reward the people that took the time and effort to create and share those things.

Thanks, +Dustin W. Stout, for making me change the way I think.

I'm betting 2014 will be the year of long-form content.

Social media changed everything.

For a long time now, we have been conversing in short sentences. Curbing so many of our communications to under 140 characters, that some bloggers have taken to curbing their content as well, trying to hold onto whatever sliver of the American’s attention span that is left.

Do we all have ADD? Are we all incapable of reading a few paragraphs and getting through the entirety of one’s thoughts before forming our own opinions? Have we been reduced to exchanging memes and animated GIFs as each one of us tries to get wittier than the other?

At some point or another, it all needs to stop. We need to get back to what writers do best: sharing stories.

No, I’m not talking about the Cliff’s notes or the 15 second video. I’m talking about the 1,000 word essay, the 45-minute documentary, the high resolution portfolio that took months to perfect. I think it’s time for us to step away from the “quick and easy” and focus on investing some time an quality in the content we share.

The reason that so many of us create content isn’t because it feeds our family or keeps a roof over our head. The reason most of us create content to share freely is because we enjoy doing it. So what’s better than being the best at what you enjoy doing?

I think we are heading into a time where people focus less on the “idea of the moment” and start to hone in on the “concept that lasts.” Sure, we’ll still exchange puns and funny images that mock our popular culture, but those that are interested in creating things will focus less on the quick and easy, not so much on instant gratification but more on creating ideas and artwork worth spreading.

As everyone becomes an expert in “social media” the value of being a social media expert in cheapened. We have all figured out how to communicate with each other online. Some of us perhaps better than others, but we’ve all learned that creating an account, building a presence and carrying on a conversation isn’t all that hard. What’s really hard is creating a conversation that lasts.

I may be stepping out on a limb, but I really feel that this next year will be the year of carefully-curated, meticulously thought-of and passionately perceived long-form Internet content.

G+ The Other Red Button

I had the great pleasure of presenting at the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta, Georgia yesterday. There was a room packed with bloggers excited to learn about Google+ and how they can use it to their advantage. Unfortunately, because of my failure to check my laptop for a VGA port before hitting the road, I wasn’t able to interface with the projector and therefore had to work with a very limited amount of my visual aides during the session. I was totally embarrassed! Luckily, Ellen Gerstein graciously saved the day and let me borrow her laptop for the presentation. Thanks, Ellen!

Because I had planned to do a mixture of the slide deck and demonstrations on Google+, I had to wing it and go without the tabs that I intended to show and explain. So, appropriately enough, a lot of you may have been confused by what I was trying to explain because of the lack of visual representation. In order to make it right, I wanted to give you a very thorough rundown of what I intended to share yesterday along with some helpful links to get you pointed in the right direction.

If you still have questions after reading this guide, please reach out to me. I promise I won’t bite! For some of those more technical questions that were asked yesterday, I am more than happy to point you in a laser-precise direction. Simply e-mail, tweet or share your question with me and I will do my best to point you in the right direction. So, without further ado, I present G+ The Other Red Button:

What is Google+?

Google+ is not just another social network. Unlike standalone networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, Google+ is a fabric that is intertwined through many of Google’s popular cloud based products. Google+ allows authors to better identify their content through search, share new and interesting things, keep contact with the same people across multiple products and most importantly, build and engage with an audience of people that share similar interests. The thing that makes Google+ truly unique, is that is based upon sharing and interacting with people that have similar interests, not just people you already know.

Google+ for Beginners

If you are really new to Google+ and need help setting up an account and creating a profile, here is a video I created last year that will help you get your feet wet. Please understand that the graphical user interface (GUI) has changed quite a bit since I created the demo, so things might not look exactly the same.

Google+ Calendar Integration

One awesome thing about Google+ is that it is integrated with Google Calendar. I know this is a hot button with a lot of people, because they don’t like having unsolicited appointments on their calendar. Rest assured, there is a way to control how and which appointments appear on your calendar here, courtesy of Veronica Belmont.

With Google+ Events, you can invite individuals, specific circles or even those that don’t use Google+ by simply adding their e-mail address. Once you create the event, invitees will be able to RSVP and comment on the event. Once the event starts, attendees will have the opportunity to join “party mode” to share pictures from their mobile phone to the event while they are attending. This is a great way to collect photos from conferences, meet-ups and parties.

Google+ Events can be used to advertise special events for your business or brand page and to remind your follows of the cool things you are doing.

Google+ Authorship

Quite possibly the most important feature of Google+, authorship allows you to link your profile with all of the content that you create throughout the web. Once you connect the websites that you contribute to with your profile, you will start to see your headshot, follower count and a link to your profile appear in search results. This has been shown to dramatically increase your click through rate on search results, especially for posts that do not rank as the number one result.

googleplusauthorship

Here is the full skinny on Google Authorship straight from the mother ship. Getting setup for authorship is simple and you don’t even need to add any code to your website. If you have an e-mail address that matches the domain of the website you write for, just follow these directions and you will be on your way! If you contribute to multiple websites, follow these instructions (Option 2).

Why Not Facebook

Creating a profile, page, community and audience on Google+ is completely free. The public content that you create is continuously crawled and indexed by the biggest search engine in the world. Communicating with your business or brand becomes easier through other products like GMail, YouTube, Calendar and Blogger. You don’t have to pay a dime to have a successful presence on Google+, you just need to spend some time and effort finding the people that are interested in what you have to say.

Hangouts

My absolute favorite feature of Google+ is hands down, no questions ask, Hangouts. Hangouts allow you to connect visually face-to-face with your friends, co-workers, customers and audience members. You can see their facial expressions as you talk, share smiles, eye rolling and all of the other nonverbal communication that social media isn’t traditionally capable of translating. All of a sudden your message comes to life when people don’t have to decipher your tone.

Hangouts allow you and up to 9 other people to communicate via webcam and audio with the ability to share webpages, documents, presentations and YouTube videos. There are some big brands doing some awesome things with hangouts, and also some people that were discovered after putting themselves out there through Hangouts.

With Hangouts on Air, you are able to take your hangouts to the next level by broadcasting them LIVE for the world to see. As an added bonus, your recorded Hangouts on Air will automatically save to your linked YouTube account where you can share them with your friends, embed them on your blog or monetize through Google Adsense.

BONUS: Google+ Strategy

Gaining traction on Google+ is just like any other social frontier in a few regards: you won’t get a million followers overnight, not everyone is going to be interested in what you share and–most importantly–like anything else, you have to keep working hard to see positive results.

The way in which Google+ is different is that it isn’t about pre-existing connections. Sure, you can import your address book and find people that you are already connected with in “meat space,” but Google+ is all about discovering new and interesting people that share similar interests. The best way to find those people is through what Google does best, search.

What are you interested in? What do you write about? Search for it. Find people that are also interested in what you are talking about. Add them to your circles. Follow them closely. Interact with them.

If you come to Google+ thinking you can just drop your links and magically attract visitors to your blog, you will be severely disappointed.

The best way to encourage interaction and sharing of posts isn’t to embed a link, but to instead share a high resolution photo (that you have rights to, of course), a brief summary of what you are posting or call to action (2-3 lines), a link to your content (use a link-shortening service like goo.gl to keep it trim and track your clickthroughs) and, lastly, two or three hashtags that are relevant to your content.

My recommendation is that you comment on or re-share at least 10 other posts for every post you create. Everyone likes to be heard, so if you want to join the conversation, I always find it best to listen to what others are saying and let them know you’re listening.

As you start to grow your understanding of how Google+ works, you might want to start investing in Communities. Communities are a great feature of Google+ that allow you to connect with people around different topics. You can create public communities or private communities about whatever you would like. I have a community for my family that I use to share photo albums and information that I would like to keep private.

Creating a successful strategy on Google+ requires some work. You can’t “set it and forget it” unless you already have a sizeable following across the web. In order to grow an audience on Google+, you need to create consistent, quality content.

The greatest payoff of Google+ are all the people you will meet along the way. I have made some amazing connections through this network that have resulted in my traveling to different cities, learning about different parts of the world and making bonds that will last a lifetime.

Need More Help

If you need more help with Google+ simply fill out the form below and I will do by best to get you on the right track.

Affiliate Purchases: A Nice Way to Say Thanks This Year

Over the last year, I have spent a lot of valuable time and effort evangelizing a new social media network. I have consulted with some great minds, held discussions with very influential people and have heard some amazing stories from the people I have met. During this time I have done my best to share what I have learned to allow you to benefit from my knowledge.

Because the work I do online is not related to my vocation, it is strictly a labor of love. I am not paid for my time on Google+, my evangelism of the network or the tutorials I share. Apart from a small bit of AdSense revenue that I receive from my YouTube videos, this is strictly a volunteer effort.

Without having to solicit you for donations or putting a “tip jar” up on my website, I thought I would ask you to do something even simpler. If you shop during the holidays for your friends and families and sometimes find yourself using a website called Amazon, your purchases can help pay for my web hosting, domain registration and bandwidth necessary to run this site.

If you would like to say thanks, you don’t have to pay me in cash, simply make your Amazon.com purchases through my affiliate link (http://goo.gl/k3df4). The small affiliate revenue generated will go a long way in ensuring that I can afford to keep this website up and running. If you would like to go further, please feel free to visit my Amazon Wish List this Christmas and send me something swell. Some of the items will help me create better video content, and utilize my mobile and tablet devices more efficiently.

Whatever you do this holiday season, be sure to thank the people that have shared knowledge, help and guidance in all of the things the interest you. Thank you all for being a receptive, interactive and well-engaged audience. I appreciate all of your participation and attention. If you have reached out to me in the past via Google+ notifications and I haven’t responded, please don’t be offended. The best way to get in touch with me is always through e-mail: petergmcdermott@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Happy Holidays,

Peter

Your Social Media Strategy

I’m not a Social Media Expert. 

But, I have learned a few things that could help you, your business and your brand in creating a successful online engagement experience for your customers.

One of the things I keep on my business card is “Experiencial Design” because I think something that customers of this age look for is not only a good product or service, but a great customer experience.

Take a look at what you’re doing with your current strategy and ask yourself if you are really engaging your customers or just pushing things out there without paying attention to what they’re saying. To find out more, watch my latest episode.

How to Make It Work is also available on Tivo, Roku and Blip.tv

How to Use Google Plus for Your Brand

Google Plus for your Business
What is Google+?

Last night I was asked to speak at Ross Jones‘ IMD405 Internet Marketing class at The Art Institute of Nashville. Ross and I met at the SpeakerUp meeting for the 2012 Podcamp Nashville as we are both interested in speaking this year about our perspective niches.

Ross is a SEO expert and has been doing it for longer than most people knew what Search Engine Optimization was. Ross owns a business called 2 the Top Design where he helps businesses get their website optimized for search engines and in turn, getting them more leads.

Continue reading How to Use Google Plus for Your Brand

How Many Social Networks Should My Business Use?

Image Credit nk&f (http://www.naterkane.com/blog/2008/01/)
Image Credit nk&f (http://www.naterkane.com/blog/2008/01/)

In a world where people connect effortlessly with their computers, mobile devices and tablets, social networks are popping up everywhere. Some of them are geared towards finding and sharing websites (digg, stumbleupon), others are more geared towards sharing what you’re doing in text and photo (Instagram, Twitter), some focus on where you are (Foursquare, Path) while others try to tackle everyone at once (Facebook, Google+). Every day more and more of these networks are popping up like Pinterest and Issuu.

Of course, having a presence in all of these places would expose your business or brand to more eyeballs, but is it really necessary?

Continue reading How Many Social Networks Should My Business Use?