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In an earlier post, we learned how a hypothetical business leader set about wrecking an employee-advocacy program, and identified some of the common mistakes that organizations make. Six months on, there's been a change of heart, and we learn how the same business leader plans to overcome the biggest obstacle to success - getting employees onside.

Dear Business Leader:

Great to hear from you! Where have you been these past few months? And what’s new?

You're doing what ...?

You’re encouraging your employees to share business-related content via their personal social networks ... are you unwell? That doesn’t sound like the “I’m-in-charge-here-what-I-say-goes” approach you were taking when we last talked.
Wrong – that’s perfectly fair comment. You didn’t listen to the advice I gave you last year, so I assumed that Employee Advocacy was off your to-do list – permanently.
I know you don’t want to hear it, but plenty of other organizations were ready to implement advocacy programs, and I’ve been busy helping some of them. People are achieving real returns on their investments, increasing engagement with customers, attracting people to their websites, driving increased revenues – that type of stuff.
So now you’re getting involved again. What do we have to thank for this dramatic about-face?
What? One of your new-year resolutions was to give me another chance? To do what exactly? Save you from yourself? What? You want ...

Proof That Employee Advocacy Really Does Generate Returns

Well, if you read the articles I write every fortnight, you’ll see some great examples – IBM generated click-throughs equivalent to $500,000 in media spend; Deloitte increased its engaged followers by more than 50 percent in 12 months; The United Way garnered massive support for a piece of U.S. legislation; HomeAway.com increased content engagement by 74 percent year-on-year. What more proof do you need?
You’ll give me the benefit of the doubt? Please ... so where have you gotten to so far?
You set a clear business objective. Excellent. We had a little difficulty with that one last year. And you found an internal champion. Great. Your plan for content-sharing is complete and you have social-media analytics in place to measure the results. What’s not to like?
It just isn’t working ... so what’s holding you back?

You Still Can’t Get Your People Involved  ...

That would do it. You just hit on THE most important factor in any employee-advocacy program, one that too many organizations get wrong – at least the first time. Welcome to the club. So tell me, what have you done so far to convince your employees that advocacy is a good thing?
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You did what I suggested – you talked to them ... and?
Most of them are much younger than you. Of course they are – it comes with the territory.
So it was hard to explain why their Facebook friends might be interested in your business. And the older ones don’t really use social media much so they didn’t buy into what you were saying.
Stop right there. I guess these “older ones” wouldn’t include you? Of course not. But your social-media skills could do with a little honing. Right - you’re not alone there. Let’s hold that thought – did you know that ...

Most CEOs Desperately Need Social-Media Training

Take a look at this article from the people at SASI; they know a thing or two about employee advocacy. It describes how senior executives need more help with social media than they let on. You should start there; without the older – sorry, senior – people in your business understanding the ground rules, you’re fighting a losing battle.
No that doesn’t mean you have to take to Twitter like an A-list celeb on steroids, tweeting every waking moment of your day. More often than not, the CEO’s role is to demonstrate a commitment to social media as a business tool, not to maintain a real-time dialogue with every employee in the place.
You need to understand which channels are important for your business; it’s not the same for everyone. For you, it’s most likely Twitter and LinkedIn. You’re selling high-value services to business customers, and they probably won’t expect to find you on Facebook. Once you’ve got that figured, you need to explain to your people how you see it working.
But ...? But what?
Most of your people aren’t on LinkedIn ... and you’re not sure they have that many Twitter followers either. They seem to spend most of their free time posting selfies on Facebook?
I’m impressed. You know what selfies are. No, let’s not go there. Way too much information. My point is that you aren’t alone in needing help. You need to ...

Train Your Employees to Use Social Media for Business

Let me give you an example. You remember I mentioned IBM just now? Yes, I know that was at least a half-hour ago, but it’s important. Read the article again. Yes, now. Please.
So you’ll see that IBM is one of the leading organizations when it comes to implementing employee advocacy. In spite of that, the managers there realized that not every person on the team was confident in using social media at work. Yes, posting vacation snaps on Facebook is familiar territory, but sharing business content on Twitter or LinkedIn is stepping into the unknown.
IBM found that either people didn’t have the right followers, or they weren’t confident about reaching out and engaging with those connections. You have to take a professional approach that isn’t too pushy, or people will simply be turned off by what they see as an extension of your sales activity. That’s not something that comes naturally to everyone. 
Yes, IBM did find a way to put things right. I love it. They developed what they called “social-media boot-camps.” Just what every business leader should be organizing at the start of an advocacy campaign. They get people into the right frame of mind, and properly delivered, they boost the effectiveness of your social-media presence enormously.
You love it too? Hard work never hurt anyone? Calm down – you’re reverting to type ... and you’re scaring me. Find a specialist company that delivers this type of event regularly and I’m sure you’ll see the difference in no time.
Can I recommend anyone? Of course. You can always hire me – if you can afford me nowadays.
Sounds good to me. I’ll drop by next week to meet your people and get the ball rolling. You won’t regret it. I stand by what I told you last year:

“Employee advocacy is one of the most powerful business-communication tools around.”

Bye for now, and good luck!
Beyond Engagement is an exclusive Social Media Today column published every other Thursday.
Image credits:
Column logo by Marie Otsuka
Employee Advocacy: What's in it for Me? by DaVinci Studio


This infographic highlights the three major enterprise use cases for social media along with products that support them.

According to a new report published this morning, Customer Care, Social Intelligence and Marketing are the three primary social media software use cases for companies with more than 500 employees.

The research is based on the analysis of 400+ in-depth reviews across 23 social media management products and thousands of insights from real software users reviews on TrustRadius, the leading peer review site for business software.

Below is an infographic that summarizes which enterprise social media platform each use case. The report also lists the tool functionalities that are required for each use case and and feature in-depth case studies of Comcast, British Telecommunications and Groupon.

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I like LinkedIn messaging. It’s a great networking tool and every bit as powerful as face-to-face networking opportunities both in group and one on one meetings. LinkedIn offers the ability to showcase one’s expertise, create authority and build great business and personal relationships.

I like LinkedIn messaging. It’s a great networking tool and every bit as powerful as face to face networking opportunities both in group and one on one meetings. LinkedIn offers the ability to showcase one’s expertise, create authority and build great business and personal relationships.

Sadly, I've seen a shift over the past few years to more sales pitches in the form of status updates and messages, connections being made for that sole purpose and more bulk messages. While bulk messages in themselves aren't always a negative, when you’re looking to strengthen the relationships you have already established, lumping me in with 20+ other ‘Robert’s in your contacts is certainly not a positive way to connect with me.

LinkedIn Messaging Etiquette

I received a LinkedIn message from an individual connection recently. It was a Season’s Greetings eCard with a clickable link.  From a professional perspective, LinkedIn is about connecting and building relationships. I think sending a Christmas message, and any personal message for that matter, is a great idea. Connecting personally develops stronger professional relationships.  What bothers me in this case – not only wasn't the post personalized, but it was sent, as I reference above, to more than 35 contacts and clearly from a block of the sender’s contacts as the majority of the names where ‘Robert’ or alphabetically close.

Regardless if the intent of the message, it came across as merely an attempt to keep the sender’s name top of mind. Personally, I see this as spam. Since every relationship I have on LinkedIn is considered before simply accepting, I’m hesitant to just remove someone from my list so I sent a simple message:

While I appreciate the card, I find being included on bulk messages like this to be spam. 

I would prefer to be left off such messages and those other than of a personal nature.

Thank you.


I expected a short apology and in the end, no true harm done and as they say, no foul. What I received back, however, surprised me:

This is LinkedIn!! I prefer to only do or discuss business matters that are not of personal nature on the Professional Business Entrepreneur LinkedIn website. 

Just simply wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays hope the rest of the season warms you up from being so suspicious and you actually enjoy yourself!!

Not only did I not receive an apology, I ended up being accused of being suspicious and not enjoying myself or the holidays. What struck a chord with me more – this individual prefers not to use LinkedIn for business matters (cannot say I really understand that one since LinkedIn is a professional oriented networking site) and the sender wasn't actually wishing ME anything. It was a wish to a collective. At least make it personal to me so I know you care about me as a connection.

I normally would have let it drop at this point but as a social media and marketing consultant I felt it was a good teaching opportunity.  I sent this……

It's not about being suspicious.  Your initial message was not personalized (something I teach being critical for developing relationships) and that message was only a link to an ecard. 

I have used LinkedIn messaging successfully to grow my businesses and consult with others to do the same. I regularly send greetings and other personal messages as well as those for business but I do so with each tailored to the recipient. If I include you as part of a bulk mailing it, to me it (and it should to you) shows I don't value you personally. How does one grow a relationship if nothing is personalized and the recipient is just part of a collective?

Even the vast majority of my connection requests are personalized with how we know each other or why I want to connect if we do not.

Since this is a network to build relationships, I simply asked to be left off bulk messages as I find them to be spam. I would have openly welcomed a personalized greeting sent only to me.

Case in point, I did recently receive a similar message, replied with a thank you, spent some time on their profile and found they could be a valuable resource for a colleague whom I then referred. Why? They took the time to build that relationship with me.


…..to which I received no further replies.

So how do you send that ‘message’ to all of your connections? A status update like Maria Orth’s may not be seen by everyone, but it is the right way to do it.

The LinkedIn Messaging Protocol: So how do you send that ‘message’ to all of your #LinkedIn connections?  A status update like Maria Orth’s may not be seen by everyone, but it is the right way to do it.

The Take Away:

Regardless of the social site you use and regardless of whether the nature of your message is personal or professional – the end goal is to develop and grow relationships. You do that by connecting personally. Bulk messages have value when used correctly. Just make sure you are using them correctly.

I’d love your thoughts on how LinkedIn messaging is being used or how you use it. 

Make them laugh, cry or smile. It’s very difficult to get people to share the content you post on Facebook without making some kind of an emotional impact on them. No one really feels the need to share boring content. Would you?

We all know how important social media is to our overall digital marketing efforts. Not only can it help your brand reach more and more people online through effective social media campaigns, but it can also improve your rankings through search. Here are 5 ways you can get people to share your content on Facebook.

Ask for it.

Yep, it may sound simple enough, but placing a call-to-action at the bottom of your Facebook post can encourage more people to share your stuff. Numerous studies, including this one, have demonstrated that specifically asking readers to share your content on Facebook dramatically increases the likelihood of further social sharing. These findings are consistent with the general marketing principle that if you want people to take a specific action, you need to specifically ask for it. (The same study found that the same holds true on other social channels, including Twitter, and that blogs that contained a call-to-action received more comments, views and links than those that did not.)

Make them laugh, cry or smile.

It’s very difficult to get people to share the content you post on Facebook without making some kind of an emotional impact on them. No one really feels the need to share boring content. Would you? However, create a post that makes your readers laugh, smile or even cry, and your content is much more likely to go viral on many a Facebook newsfeed. It’s a well known technique to inspire more engagement with online content, repeatedly put forward by many of the top social media monitoring companies such as iSentia.

Go visual.

Whenever possible, always include an image to go along with your Facebook post. The average user online prefers to consume visual content instead of reading lines and lines of text – especially when it comes to Facebook. In fact, using an image or infographic in your post can increase user engagement by as much as 53%, resulting in more likes, comments, and inevitably, shares.

Create a connection.

In an age of seemingly diminishing face-to-face contact and interaction, creating a connection with your customers in any way possible – including via Facebook – is extremely important. One of the best ways to foster a connection with users online is to showcase your company’s charitable efforts. A recent New York Times study found that 84% of people share content they come across online that allows them to be supportive of specific charities and causes. For example, creating a post that brings awareness to the fight against heart disease can help create a personal connection with Facebook users who may then share your post to build further awareness. Not only will this allow users to show their support for the cause, but it will also promote the company to more and more people online.

Provide an incentive.

Finally, if you really want to get more people to share the content you post on Facebook, then provide some kind of an incentive, such as a discount, special offer or gift certificate. Everyone loves a freebie, or at least a discount. Try and tie in a special offer for your Facebook audience and hopefully you’ll inspire them to share your content – if only for their own self benefit!

So there you have it. Try and incorporate at least one of the above the next time you’re crafting your Facebook posts, and hopefully you’ll increase your audience online and ultimately take your business to the next level.

SXSW is right around the corner, and to maximize opportunities at SXSW Interactive 2015 this year, you need to prepare. Luckily, I am here to help.

I have been to SXSW for the music. And I can quickly list out the rules for that week: THERE ARE NONE.

Now, take this concept and try to place it over top SXSW Interactive and you have a massive headache of time constraints, conflicting wants/needs and getting lost in a hotel. Which has happened to me before. Stop laughing.

So, here are 4 simple things you should do to make your SXSW.

1. Plan.

This sounds super simple.

And of course, it sounds like a straight-forward idea. But, this event has lots of speakers. LOTS. Download the SXSW 2015 app.

Plan out each day with speakers to see, people to meet and events to attend. The app will deliver push notifications and location mapping to help you get wherever you need to go-on time! Log into social.sxsw.com and search for the kind of people you may want to meet while you’re in Austin (Like me!).

It’s way better to get basic intros out of the way and plan a rough time to meet before you get to Austin. Once you’re there, everyone is too “busy” to plan.

2. Go Together.

Going with a group allows you to see the most and learn the most from the overall event. You can divide and conquer. The best sessions and speakers aren’t always right by each other. And, a lot of amazing speakers are giving their talks at the same time. Also, it’s far less awkward and threatening for two people to nudge into a group and introduce themselves than one.

3. Connect with People.

It seems like everyone at SXSW, literally everyone, is willing to talk with you. So, don’t go to SXSW and shell up and simply write notes about the speakers or record the presentation. Further, if you are having a great conversation that runs into the time you were planning on attending a session, seriously consider skipping the session.

The relationship you are forming is likely more valuable. The connections you make with people in “meat-space” at the convention can help generate multiple additional connections online, either with their brand, their fellow employees or other members of their organization, or their plain old “friends”.

4. Post on Social Media.

If your account goes radio silent at SXSW, then you are managing your social media poorly. If you think it is because, “I am too busy,” you aren’t. Many of the sessions have their own hashtags and everyone (including the presenter) expects you to be tweeting during the presentation. Sometimes the underground conversations are at least, if not more, informative than the listed speaker’s PowerPoint.

It’s also a smart way to see who in your sessions might be mart, interesting and worth introducing yourself to afterward.

Also, I forgot three last points.

EXTRA POINT 1: Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously. You look fine. Just wear something you can walk in easily for longer than 1 mile.

EXTRA POINT 2: And if you are coming from the Northern Lands (aka Chicago and above) wear sunscreen. The sun in Austin feels like it sits on your neck.

EXTRA POINT 3: Bring a reusable water bottle. Fill it at the drinking fountains around the convention center. Trust me, between the dry Austin air and the free alcohol some corporate sponsor supplied the night before, you will be dehydrated if you’re not careful.

So, take the time now to plan your itinerary, along with who is going with you and how everyone will talk about being at SXSW. And don’t forget comfortable shoes and sunscreen.

See you there.

Did you know that social media marketing is a component of search engine marketing? If you have ever been confused, learn the main differences between SEO and SEM.

Did you know that social media marketing is a component of search engine marketing? All digital marketers should know the primary difference between SEO and SEM. Whether you handle social, search or design, being aware of different terminology when it comes to online marketing is useful so you can understand the different digital tasks that marketers are working on.

There are so many jargons to learn when it comes to online marketing. But surely you've heard of the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by now. Even if you don't know what it entails, you probably know your website has to be optimized in a certain way to rank higher on the search engines like Google and Yahoo. Higher rank means more traffic, hopefully leading to more conversion.

Let’s say you are in the real estate business, just like our company. Search engine optimization is an important marketing component because we can drive visitors searching for valuable keywords related to our apartments directly to our website. The beauty is that once you are ranked well organically, you don’t have to pay for Pay-Per-Click advertising

Then what is SEM (Search Engine Marketing)? The two terms, SEO and SEM are often used interchangeably, even by industry experts. But they are only half correct. While SEO can be a part of SEM, it doesn't work the other way around. Simply put, SEO is a subset of SEM.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing encompasses different techniques to harness a search engine's technology. The two major tenets of SEM include SEO and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads. Google AdWords and Bing Ads are some of the most popular PPC vendors.

You might have seen PPC ads on Google – they are generally located above or on the right-hand side of the search results and you can distinguish them quite easily. In this way, SEM incorporates both free and paid means to achieve higher ranking on search engines.

SEM can also include social media marketing, as social media has risen in prominence in the last few years to influence consumer behavior. In short, SEM refers to all available forms of marketing to increase your website's visibility on search engines.

How is SEO different from SEM?

There is no main difference per se, as SEO is simply a narrower discipline of SEM. SEO's primary aim is to provide natural, organic search results for free. With SEM, things may not always be free as it uses paid ads for the certain keywords on search engine results page.

If you are a social media marketer and have not yet added, “Search Engine Marketing” to your LinkedIn skillset, you can now confidently do so. Social marketing is just one of the many pieces to the pie of search engine marketing. Just make sure you know the difference between SEO and SEM so you can be prepared to answer this in your next big meeting! 

Creating a killer landing page can be the difference between converting a highly valuable customer or letting them walk out the door and go to a competitor.

"If you build it, they will come," said no online marketer ever. Having a good website is just the start. Without the right marketing effort, your website is one of many millions of sites on the internet sphere sinking into oblivion.

You'll feel like you're getting pulled into many directions when it comes to your online marketing endeavor. There's SEO, social media, PPC, some other buzzword, and last but not least, landing pages.

Why do you need a landing page?

Actually, the real question is, why do you need a good landing page? You need it because it provides a focus for your sales funnel. Your visitors are a culmination of all your marketing techniques – SEO, social media, paid advertising, email campaigns, etc. An awesome landing page will capture these visitors and turn mere prospects into buyers, subscribers, or whatever else you want them to be.

A solid landing page has the potential to dramatically increase your conversion rate percentage. If our law firm is bidding on the keyword, “Divorce Attorney” it would make no sense to send them to our homepage where there is information on criminal divorce law and personal injury accidents. They should be driven to a landing page on divorce law, with compelling imagery and a strong call-to-action.

People browsing the Internet have a very limited attention span. You need to grab their attention immediately. A great landing page will do just that.

Stop wasting money on your online marketing efforts. Take the time to invest in a high quality-landing page, which will result in more contact forms, sales or phone calls for your business.  

How to create a good landing page

Think of your buying experience online. Many landing pages are mediocre, if not barely functional. At the worst, they read like flashy sales pages and you are instantly turned off by them. A good landing page has several components:

·       A quick and obvious USP (Unique Selling Proposition) – You don't ho and hum when it comes to telling your visitors what value your product or service provides.

·       Image or graphic that grabs attention – A picture is really worth a thousand words in this case, as it communicates ideas faster than text. You know internet visitors; they don't like to read.

·       An obvious Call-to-Action – It should be focused. No visitor should ever wonder what they should do next.

·       Benefits, not features – It's not about what you sell (or do), but how it makes your visitors' lives better.

·       Social endorsement – People generally crave social proof, which is why testimonials and endorsement are so powerful.

The list is a bit formulaic, but it's known to work. A good landing page is the bread and butter of conversion principles. 

When it comes right down to it, your website is the only piece of online real estate you own and control. Investing in social networks makes sense. But, keep in mind that any changes to how they operate can have a significant impact on your business, if you're relying exclusively on them for your online presence.

2013 Nielsen Survey Results for 'Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in AdvertisingWith all the talk of social media, we can sometimes lose sight of one of our most important online resources: a branded business website!

Nielsen global survey on consumer trust in advertising reported branded websites are the #2 most trusted and influential advertising source. Second only to recommendations from people we know, the #1 most trusted and influential advertising source.

The Only Online Real Estate You Own & Control

When it comes right down to it, your website is the only piece of online real estate you own and control.

Investing in social networks makes sense. BUT keep in mind that any changes to how they operate can have a significant impact on your business, if you're relying exclusively on them for your online presence.

Facebook is a good example of this. Over the past few years changes to Facebook Pages have meant that most of your fans (those who have liked your Page) will never see the content you post to your Facebook Page, unless you pay to promote the content.

For those businesses who have spent time and money to build their fan base, this has been a major blow. But it's important to remember your business Page is NOT owned and controlled by you. Ultimately, it belongs to Facebook.

Making Your Branded Business Website Easy To Find

Essentially, all of your online, print and other marketing strategies should pave a way to your website. Social media is important but it is not more important than your branded business website! (Nielsen's Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising report supports this premise.)

Everything you do - advertising, communications, marketing, promotional, sales - should make it easy for people to find your branded website! This is true whether you have a physical business location, operate your business out of your home or run your business exclusively online.

There are many ways to make sure your website address is readily available and more likely to be used:

  • Include your website address on all your printed and online materials. (Including business cards, newsletters, invoices, signage, letterhead, newsletters and eNewsetters, promotional and product/service information pieces.)
  • Include your website address (hyperlinked if possible) on all of your social networks. (Most social networks provide a specific place for this information.)
  • Include your website address at the end of your email signature (hyperlinked), along with links to your major social networks.

Make sure your website address, and other important contact information, is one-click away by making the link readable (title cased), online and in print, and clickable (hyperlinked) for anything digital.

The Face Of Your Business Online

Much like a physical store front, your branded business website is a critical piece of your overall sales and marketing strategy. It is the face or virtual store front for your business on the Internet, whether you realize it or not.

For this reason, having a branded website isn't enough! Just as having a store that looks good only on the outside isn't enough.

An attractive outside or first impression makes it easier for people to decide to open the door to your business. Once they've opened the door they want to see what you're made of ... they're looking for substance. And substance will mean different things for different businesses.

Making Your Website Visitor Friendly

To give a good first impression of your business and to make your website one that visitors are likely to feel has value, make sure it is . . .

  • easy to read/view on devices of all sizes (responsive design), including the thousands of different sized mobile phones, phablets, tablets, laptops and pcs.
  • attractive to your target audience, with branding that clearly reflects the 'face' and personality of your business.
  • functional and easy to navigate for visitors. So that impatient people (and that would be most of us!) don’t leave your website because it feels confusing, cluttered or difficult to find what they're looking for.
  • quick to load. Visitors expect your site to open in seconds, not minutes. If they have to wait too long they'll leave your website and potential business will be lost.
  • well written with good quality photos and images. Anything less than this reflects on the quality of your products and services.

Today, most consumers want to check you out online before they decide to buy your products or services. This is true whether someone has personally recommended you, they've seen an ad online or in print media, they've met you at a Chamber of Commerce meeting or they've seen something positive a friend has shared about you on social media or elsewhere.

Make sure your website isn't slamming a door in the face of future business because it isn't doing the job you need it to do. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression!

There are a lot of tricks to building your brand equity. I’m a fan of writing blog posts on lots of websites and running micro targeted ads online until I’m famous to a small handful of people, their families and friends. But everyone has a theory on building a brand—be it PR, social media, public speaking, or dressing up in a Lady Gaga meat suit. So, let’s talk about the brand you want to build, rather than the tactics needed to build it.

Starting a company means a beginning. It’s a “Once upon a time…” that you desperately hope will turn into a “…happily ever after.”

You go into the story with an idea and whatever money, talents and reputation you personally have. Eventually, you hope to close on some investment money and begin hiring people. You hope to ultimately build something worth building.

Yet, in the beginning, your personal resources are all the building blocks you have to work with.

Having worked for two startups founded by very successful entrepreneurs – and quite a few whose founders were not well known – it was amazing to see the difference in the caliber of investors and potential early employers who were willing to take calls.

I was in the room when a formerly successful entrepreneur pulled out his cell phone and called (with no appointment) one of the partners at Greylock, with little more than an idea. I’ve also watched founders struggle to get meetings with much smaller firms, even with working prototypes and revenue.

The point is that, when you’re on your own, you want to have a personal brand that carries some weight.

There are a lot of tricks to building your brand equity. I’m a fan of writing blog posts on lots of websites and running micro targeted ads online until I’m famous to a small handful of people, their families and friends. But everyone has a theory on building a brand—be it PR, social media, public speaking, or dressing up in a Lady Gaga meat suit. So, let’s talk about the brand you want to build, rather than the tactics needed to build it.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

We all know the saying, “Fake it until you make it.” There is a story of that sentiment working for a 17-year-old kid who snuck into Universal Studios with dreams of becoming a big-time Hollywood director.

But is faking it until you make it really a good idea for most people?

Excuse me while I rewind to last year. I worked for a company that placed a massive emphasis on personal branding—particularly upon the CEO’s personal branding. That meant setting him up with speaking gigs at some of the world’s largest conferences (almost always speaking using the buddy system). A ghostwriter created 90% of the CEO’s frequent blog posts. Other employees’ blog posts were sometimes misattributed to him because everything came down to making the CEO look good.

We began to call that CEO, “the Wizard,” because we weren’t supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain. His image was more smoke and mirrors than substance and reality. To frame the problem more clearly: for that CEO, the legend was greater than the man.


What? You don’t believe me? Imagine trying to make a career change from a not-that-famous porn star (more of a porn character actor really) to a Southern Baptist minister. I wish you good luck, my friend. You will need it. The first time a member of the flock does a quick internet search of your name, your future as a minister will go up in more flames than are contained in a fire and brimstone sermon.Personal branding is clearly important, and, thanks to social media, everyone (famous or not) has a fairly public brand. What you write, what photos you post, and who you are spending time with all come into play. And it will help or hurt you in life. (Yes, it looks like your mother was right about that one.)

Making Your Personal Brand Work

By the same token, personal branding can help get you a job, a client or an investor. I’ve picked up many of my clients from blogging or social media. Since I want to be known as both a photographer and digital strategist, I’ve worked to share information about those topics on social media. I’ve also worked to gain third party recognition in the form of work features, guest posts, public speaking and interviews.


Personal branding, done correctly, is nothing more than showing yourself in your best light by highlighting your interests, achievements and best ideas. It backfires when you exaggerate about your knowledge, background and skillset. If I started talking about my abilities as singer as being on par with those of Freddie Mercury, it would be quite a letdown for people when I finally burst into song. Believe me on that one. My version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” sounds a lot like Animal’s from The Muppets. This is what could be called a “house of cards.”

When you build a good brand, you highlight your strengths and become more valuable as an employee or business partner. If you build a house of cards you fall down in the first wind.

Thanks to the internet you can seem credible in anything to at least a few people who have limited knowledge of your claimed expertise. But, if you pretend to be a world-renowned cardiologist, you will be exposed the second someone standing next to you has a heart attack. You will eventually make fool of yourself (not to mention the poor schmuck with a bad ticker).

Happily Ever After

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Can you ‘fake it till you make it’? What about that 17-year-old kid who snuck into Universal Studios and crayoned his name onto an empty janitor’s closet, all the while insisting he should be a director?”

Well, he ended up directing Joan Crawford before his 18th birthday and, in 1995, he won the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award for his work.

But before the kid accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award, even before haunting the janitor’s closet at Universal,Steven Spielberg had spent years working in film. While still in high school, he penned screenplays, directed movies and won film festivals. His work spoke for itself quite well.

You could say that spending a summer slipping past security to meet executives at the studio was Spielberg’s pre-internet equivalent to Facebook workplace targeting.  And his “Once upon a time…” set him up for a “…happily ever after.”

If Steven Spielberg had had Facebook Ads Via/ Mason Pelt

(Header Image credit: Flickr)


The Super Bowl, one of the most-watched events in broadcasting, has long been a showcase for innovative advertising creativity, but in an attempt to level the ad playing field, marketers have increasingly moved to create up-front buzz for their ads, a tacit recognition that it’s a given their ads will get noticed – along with everyone else’s.

Fewer than half of Super Bowl XLIX’s advertisers will score big on their considerable investments, according to the 13th annual Super Bowl Ad Engagement Surveyconducted by Brand Keys.

When it comes to Super Bowl ad playbooks, brands hope ads will score big in five ways: 1) big audiences, 2) big creative, 3) big buzz, and 4) big social networking, and 5) big levels of emotional brand engagement. That last one is most important! It’s a leading-indicator of consumers’ positive behavior toward the brand in the only arena that counts – the real-world marketplace.
The Super Bowl, one of the most-watched events in broadcasting, has long been a showcase for innovative advertising creativity, but in an attempt to level the ad playing field, marketers have increasingly moved to create up-front buzz for their ads, a tacit recognition that it’s a given their ads will get noticed – along with everyone else’s.
Sure, brands need to entertain if they want buzz, but today, if brands want a real return, it isn’t enough just to entertain, they need to emotionally engage consumers with their ads.  Do that, and consumers come away feeling the brand better meets their expectations for their Ideal in the category where the brand competes. That’s what real brand engagement is all about, and way different than entertainment or methodsof engagement. 
Assessments collected via mobile software from 2,705 men and women measured social networking activities for 26 brands reported in the media to be Super Bowl advertisers calculating consumers’ emotional engagement for the brand itself, the levels of anticipated advertising entertainment (according to social interactions and buzz), and the brand within the context of the Super Bowl broadcast. Results were perceptually mapped to identify where consumers saw the brand falling, identifying whether consumers felt the brand will engage andentertain, entertain only, engage but not entertain or neither engage nor entertain. Each combination results in a different in-market outcome for the brand and for this year’s results, just click here.
It turns out that only 46% of the brands were assessed by consumers as both engaging and entertaining (only 12 of the 26 brands), slightly lower than the 12-year historical average of 50%. Those included Pepsi, WeatherTech, Doritos, GoDaddy, and Dove Men+Care. According to social networking inputs, brands assessed to be highly entertaining but with low engagement levels included Budweiser, Coke, and McDonald’s.
Agencies and marketers all pretty much assume their ads will be entertaining, but advertising really shouldn’t be judged only by entertainment value or related social network activities, but how it ultimately performs in the marketplace. Does the ad emotionally engage and build brand equity?  Does it engage enough to drive sales? If so, you’ll see positive bottom line impact - even if the advertising wasn’t as entertaining as envisioned. A brand that can both engage and entertain is a real Super Bowl winner.
With 30-second spots selling for a reported $4.5 million plus, marketers need a new game plan when it comes to ad effectiveness and ROI. Monday-morning creative quarterbacking is always fun. Ad entertainment and social networking reviews generate lots of chatter, traditional and digital. But these days that’s not enough.
On this particular Sunday, when a brand gets into people’s living rooms and on their computer or mobile device screens, it doesn’t matter how many consumers tweet, like, or share if, ultimately, it doesn’t increase emotional brand engagement levels, positive consumer behavior, and sales. Otherwise what brands have produced are very short, very expensive movies!

And sticking with this Sunday’s theme, it’s worth remembering that there may not be an “I” in “team,” but there is one in “ROI.”

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