Have you ever wondered, “how do I get my avatar to show up next to my WordPress blog comments?”. I mean, wouldn’t it feel good, after investing time to make a comment, for people to recognize who you are? It’s actually really simple.
1. Go to Gravatar.com
2. Click on “Get your Gravitar Today”
3. Input your email address
4. You’ll be sent an email to the address you provided to Gravatar.com with a link. Click the link to activate your account.
5. Click to add an image & select a source for your image.
6. Upload your image and crop it if you like.
7. Once saved, click the image you would like associated with your account.
Et voila! Next time you make a comment your avatar will accompany your feedback.
The purpose of a great bio has always been to establish credibility, showcase your expertise and build trust. But in today’s hyper-connected and über-competitive world of business, bios can also serve to differentiate, build likability, establish an authentic connection between the reader and the writer and, most importantly, SELL you.
Many professionals have more than one bio to serve different audiences. It’s important to understand what you’re writing for as this will drive what you say (content), how you say it (tone) and how quickly you need to get to the point (word count).
Be clear about who you want to build a connection with and ultimately what you want them to feel, do and recall after reading your bio.
Remember, people don’t buy cupboard organizers, they buy organized cupboards. The same applies to your business.
Instead of describing what you do, sell them on how you can help.
For example, it might be fitting to say, “Jim has been a business consultant for 15 years.” But think about how much more captivating that statement would be if it was tweaked to, “Jim has been reforming struggling businesses into profitable powerhouses for 15 successful years.” A small, but important shift emphasizing not what he does, but what problem he solves.
People do business with other people they know, like and trust.
Your bio is often selling you when you’re not there to do it yourself. What better way to build likability than to toss aside a generic bio and create one infused with you style, tone and personality.
Are you quirky, stoic, humorous or critical? Find ways to express your authentic voice. Sally Hogshead does a brilliant job of this in her bio and Aliza Sherman shows how to balance personality and professionalism. After reading these bios I have a strong sense of who these ladies are and whether I’d like them and could do business with them. And here’s the truly powerful thing about these bios…because they’re so unique, they’re memorable.
There is a very big difference from a resume and a bio, yet many bios come off as condensed resumes.
Stories sell. Facts tell.
A resume is a fact-laden, reverse chronological detail of your experience, training and expertise. A bio, on the other hand, should be a brief and compelling story that leaves the reader with a distinct and memorable impression of why they should care about you.
Highlight epic moments that collectively define your success and bring your reader on a journey. For a fabulous breakdown of how to create your story, read How to Become the Superhero of Your Story by Robin Fisher Roffer. In her post, she quotes Brendon Burchard’s tips to define your story:
This is probably one of the most often overlooked elements of writing a great bio. Why is it important? It’s likely your bio exists online, even if you didn’t post it there yourself. So, there’s an opportunity for your bio to capture people looking online for talent like you. Think about what keywords they might enter into a search engine to find you, or someone like you and find creative ways to incorporate those keywords without sacrificing the content.
What would you add?
I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to businesses about their social media plans. Unfortunately I’ve heard statements like: “We’re thinking of using Facebook as our Social Media strategy”. Thus the reason for this post.
There is a lot of confusion over the differences between a social media vision, strategy and tactic.
As you can imagine, you need to start with a vision to determine your strategy…and you need to have a strategy to identify your tactics. A social media plan without starting with a vision would be about as successful as a chess game without understanding that the end goal is to checkmate your opponent’s King. Basically you’d invest a lot of time without accomplishing anything and would probably get pretty frustrated in the process.
Oh, so where do sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube and the like fit in? They’re tools. And they fall deep within the category of Tactics. They shouldn’t be seriously considered as a part of your social media plan until you understand your objectives, your target, your story, your resources and a plethora of other considerations that are a part of your strategy.
So, take a step back. View the mountain, know where you want to go, how you’re going to get there and what specifically you need to do to achieve your goal.
You’re not keeping your pipeline full of new business
You’re solely focusing on new relationships and not nurturing your existing ones
You don’t know why you’re losing customers
You’re not building partnerships with other vendors
No one knows who you are
You’ve been pigeonholed as ‘that’ type of company
You don’t have a value proposition (pick a team: do you offer the lowest price or do you have a value differentiator?)
You’re too difficult to contact, find or make a transaction with
Your products or services are too difficult to use
You’re not measuring the success or failure of your activities
You’re not focusing on the future of your business
Your business issues don’t keep you up at night
You don’t have key suppliers
You don’t know how to communicate what you do in a sentence or two
You’re not investing in the area of your business that makes you the most money
You’re not staying on top of industry news
You don’t recognize and reward your star employees
You can’t be found in the first couple of pages in a Google search
You’re not constantly reassessing your plan
You’re not holding post-mortems with your key clients
You’re too focused on what your competitors are doing
You’re immersed in status-quo and don’t ask yourself “what if…”
You’ve hired mini-mes instead of people who complement your deficiencies
You only focus on ‘big picture thinking’
You only focus on executing
You’re talking ‘at’ your customers instead of having a conversation with them
You’re not contributing to your industry
You’re not helping others
You don’t have an advisory board or a strategy business support resource
You don’t have a common language for all of your employees
You’re not using testimonials to sell your business
You’re not monitoring your reputation
You’re not focusing on the needs, wants, desires of your customers
You’re not innovative
You’re not quality-control focused
You’re not learning from your mistakes
You’re giving away too much stuff for free
You have one client who represents the majority of your revenue
You don’t have the right channels of distribution
You’re not solving a problem for your customers
You’re not bundling the right products / services for the right customer segments
You don’t take risk
You’re not consistent
You’ve stopped having fun
You don’t know where you make your money
You’re not using social media
Add to the list and create a reason I haven’t listed here…
There are a large number of event planners and organizers who are missing a huge opportunity to build awareness of and conversation around their events.
For years now, a new form of media has been steadily building momentum and influence. Bloggers, tweeters and podcasters are now a force to be reckoned with. But unfortunately, companies are still struggling to understand the basics of social media. The net result is a powerful resource that is not being readily used.
If you need convincing, ponder this…
Now it’s not unusual for a planner to to invite traditional media to an event in hopes of spreading the word. But as we all know, getting someone to commit and even show can be a big task. Even when they do, you race to the paper to see the mention of your event an scour through until you find it buried on page F24.
But alas, my objective is not to convince you to throw out your traditional media plan. Instead, I challenge everyone to find ways to augment it with new media. Here are a few thought starters:
How have you incorporated bloggers or tweeters into your events? Or what creative ideas would you add to the list above?
It’s been a lot of work, but the new blog is finally up and running! For those of you who don’t yet know, the main driver is that on January 1, 2010 I’m officially launching my new business READY2SPARK. Before joining my family business, I spent many years working for agencies, helping my clients to build their corporate brands. I’m ridiculously passionate (some would say borderline obsessed) about branding. That, mixed with an affinity for social media led me to spend the last few years speaking internationally…which in turn, led to a few really interesting opportunities…which, in turn, led me to decide to start my own business.
I’m very lucky to have already signed on some very cool clients, which I hope to blog about soon. I’ll be…
So, take a tour of the new blog. I hope you grab a cocoa, put up your feet and look around. To help you in your exploration I thought I’d call out a few important changes…
1. Blog posts have been segmented by category: Business, Branding, Social Media, Design and Events. This should help you better find content you’re interested in.
2. An easy way to find specific information – Search for phrases or keywords, Subscribe via a reader or by email, find Archives, and find posts by popular Tags (located on the right side of the page)
3. I’m always looking for new information and content. I’ve made it super easy for you to share a product, idea or event (link is located on the right side of the page). Simply click on it and fill out the form – you can even attach pictures!
4. If you’re looking for a unique way to showcase your products or services to a highly targeted community of event professionals, I’ve also implemented site advertising. For more information, please click here (in 2 simple online steps you can secure your ad spot). As a LIMITED TIME incentive, I will be providing any advertisers who sign up for a full year with a sponsor spotlight. A blog post, issued at any time during your advertising year, featuring your company, a unique event you’ve just completed or an innovative product. This offer will be available until January 31, 2010! Sponsorship will help me to continue to add new and useful features to the blog and improve valuable content for my readers.
I’m also really excited to share some fantastic new initiatives…but alas, I can’t share them just yet. So stay tuned!
Thank you for being a loyal reader!
As you may know, I write a monthly column for Event Solutions‘ Trend Report. For the January issue I’ve focused on a topic that has been hotly debated online. Should back channel conversations on Twitter be brought to the front channel at events?
A backchannel is basically a conversation or series of conversations that take place during events through tools like Twitter. An example of this would be:
In the tweet above, @kybreezii was sending a communication about the Eventology Trinidad & Tobago conference she attended and used the #eventologytt hashtag to file her communication with the rest of the conversations about the event.
It’s taking those same backchannel conversations and displaying them, usually in the form of a Twitter Wall, openly to an audience. Below is a photo of how an event has projected backchannel conversations, making them now frontchannel conversations.
(photo via Guardian Activate 09)
It should be noted that to prepare for the Event Solutions article, I solicited the expert opinions of some of the biggest thought leaders in the social media in events arena, using a very special tool called Google Wave (but more on that later). Please read the full* dialogue below. But first, let me introduce the experts:
Jeff Hurt – Director of Education & Events, National Association of Dental Plans
Cameron Toth – Founder, Toth Communications
Midori Connolly – CEO and Chief AVGirl at Pulse Staging and Events
Christina Stallings – Coordinator to corporate relations and expositions at a not-for-profit association
Ian McGonnigal – Executive Director, Strategy – George P. Johnson
Samuel Smith – Experienced B2B Marketing and Sales Professional
Why is there a debate?
Jeff: Much of the debate is from those uneducated and ignorant of it. I see the same debate on whether students are allowed to bring laptops into college classrooms. Old school screams why it’s inappropriate. New school disagrees.
Cameron: There is a new paradigm in meetings and education and the old school needs to check out what the new school is doing because the new school is kicking butt and taking names!
Notes are more efficient on a laptop or even a blackberry as you can now take that text and work from your notes in a less burdensome way. How many times have you returned from a meeting with the intention to type out some of the information from your notes only to have them gather dust in a pile.
Similarly you can gather precious tidbits of information that are more interesting that two hours of presentations from an active Twitter feed of a live event. In education you have visual learners, audio learners and physical learners and we must learn to cater to them all. “Service the attendee!”
Michael: Twitter has already established itself in the events community as a communication enhancer, if its use is managed properly.
Some speakers are intimidated by the idea of a Twitter stream competing with them for audience attention. This seems to be particularly disturbing for “talking head” style speakers, where content is being delivered in a “one to many’ lecture format. Earlier this week a “professional” speaker, @stevearrowood published a controversial blog on this subject.
Steve’s hypothesis, borrowing from his article is “I am saying that when they (back channel conversations) are used simultaneously while a presenter is delivering, the presenter is being listened to and understood less.” In another segment of that same article he made the following comment, “If the human brain (not just “some people”) attempts to focus on multiple language sources at the same time, it fails, and it loses nuance and meaning from both point sources that are disseminating the content.”
In my opinion all of the above is really just a speaker’s demonstration of insecurity, postured as a scientific concern for attendee well-being. Sadly, many public speakers are unwilling, or unable to change, or evolve their style of delivering educational content. In the long-run they will render themselves obsolete by choosing to admonish the value of new communication tools such as Twitter, or Google Wave.
I do not believe Twitter has a place in every presentation, necessarily, but it is a tool, that when used in an appropriate scenario adds value to an event! Therefore its use should be considered by event organizers, when designing their programs.
Midori: While I vehemently believe in using social media to connect, give feedback and gain a voice, there is certainly a time and place where a visible conversational stream wouldn’t be appropriate. Even though I was a magna cum laude student, I was forever being reprimanded for my tendency to distract those around me. It’s a reminder that not everyone absorbs information the same way. Being able to direct that zealous, talkative energy into a Twitter stream with the five other people in the room who feel the same way, I learn 10x faster than I would if I had to take stagnant notes and passively listen. When I can argue (er, discuss) with someone or read their interpretation of subject matter, I become a devoted, satiated student/audience member/participant. However, the person sitting next to me perhaps needs to listen attentively to each syllable the instructor drops in order to learn – so is it fair to them to have a big, swirling stream of conversation in the center of the room?
Just my two cents. – but I must add that I never thought those “U” marks in citizenship would ever reward me as they have since the advent of social media (and especially Twitter).
Where have you seen successful use of Twitter as a Frontchannel?
Christina: The first thing that came to mind is Buzz 2009, which I just followed on the Twitterfeed and did not attend. I found the backchannel to be an awesome supplement for those who were interested but could not attend and loved watching the webcast and reading the tweets. Recently the FDA held some public hearings regarding the pharmaceutical industry’s use of social media and proposed guidelines. The Twitter hashtag was #fdasm and the hearings were also broadcast over the Internet. Between the webcast and the Twitterfeed it was better coverage than I could have asked for.
Michael: In September we did a Hybrid event with a Disney speaker. Instead of positioning a screen with twitter feed behind the speaker, we setup large monitors on both sides of the room, leaving the center screen for the speakers slides and video. By the way the event was presented in a webcast as well.
In addition we had a moderator for the tweets (me) and during q&A segments I communicated on behalf of the virtual audience. This was very effective for our speaker, as it took the pressure off her to sift through the tweets and it also kept the attention on her, for the live audience. The virtual audience felt very much a part of the event, because I was their voice for comments and questions.
All in all a winning proposition!
Where have you seen it go wrong?
Christina: I find that sometimes that backchannel goes way too fast for anyone, speaker and attendees to keep up, and just becomes a distraction or frustrates everyone. It also opens the door to people who may want to purposely disrupt the event (i.e. spammers, people who just want to argue with the speaker, people who just want to promote their company/products and are not there to really participate). Overall, I find that the backchannel can be a great enhancement to events – it can include those who could not attend, enhance the experience for attendees, and create enduring materials.
Cameron: Twitter has its place at events. There was an article by Scott Berkun and it described well the challenges and positives involved with bringing Twitter feeds to side and back of stage. I believe if you are speaking Twitter should be visible to yourself and audience. It is not for every speech. I think Twitter is most important and useful for educational sessions. I think Twitter is especially useful for seminar and panel style presentations so that guests and panel participants can participate in the Twitter aspect of the conversation.
Are we using the right terminology (i.e. backchannel and frontchannel)?
Ian: I never liked the term “backchannel”. I’ve always believed that conversations should be open and inclusive of all parties. Open conversations drive trust, and trust moves conversations forward. However, some presentations are designed as one-way communications, and that’s OK.
Jeff: I don’t think Twitter should be relegated or labeled as a backchannel or front channel. I think that’s the wrong thing to call it. I see it as an audience engagement tool. Calling it the backchannel gives some people the image of a back room closed door private secret gathering.
I’ve used it successfully for three years at conferences and events. During general sessions, our speakers use it for Q & A, audience comments, etc. It is projected in the front of the room and attendees are encouraged to participate. We’ve had great success with it. In breakouts, it’s not always displayed on a large screen but attendees are still encouraged to use it as they wish.
It’s hard to debate people’s experiences, especially those that have used it successfully and those that have had negative experiences. And ultimately, it’s about how the attendee chooses to use it.
What do planners need to think about before implementing?
Ian: I think the integration of Twitter into presentations is a matter of choice and selecting the right tool for the job. This choice is driven examining a few simple factors, such as, “What are your objectives?”, “Who is your audience?”, “What is the message you are trying to communicate?” and “What is the best method to communicate these ideas?”
Jeff: I don’t think you can control people just as corporations can’t control their brands. So telling people not to use Twitter during a presentation is asking for trouble. They are already doing it so teach them how to do it successfully to serve your event. Give the attendees some instructions on types of tweets.
I think there are some types of presentations where it would be difficult to use Twitter such as a hands-on, interactive class, a roundtable facilitated discussion, an Executive Board meeting for instance.
I’m confused about the backlash because it’s accepted practice to have a webinar that allows live (chat) texting on screen during the presentation. I’ve been holding webinars for more than nine years where attendees were allowed to use text-chat. To me, it’s no different than Twitter during a presentation
I do think that the goals of a meeting have a lot to do about the use of Twitter. If the goal is to reach as many people as possible,than it makes sense to encourage attendees to tweet.
Here’s the kicker in the pants:
People usually forget 90% of what they learn in a class within 30 days. The majority of that loss occurs within the first few hours after the session. ~ Hermann Ebbinhaus.
So 90% of what is shared at a conference is lost…unless conference organizers think and plan differently.
Samuel: You can’t just put up a twitter screen and say “go” – you have to have a process for using the technology and give your speakers some support (and like a survival kit). Two places where I believe that you need to give them support are:
(1) By using a moderator to capture the questions and comments.
(2) By bringing the backchannel to the front channel at the appropriate time.
Finally, I think we need to remember that twitter is just one tool. And it is a public tool. Corporations that want their R&D department to collaborate and exchange ideas in this same way – WILL NOT use Twitter! They will use private technology service solutions to achieve the same objective.
Jeff: A good tip…We put a monitor on the floor so the speaker does not have to turn around to read the twitter wall. We also have someone assigned to flag or catch questions that don’t get answered.
What types of meetings / events is it appropriate for?
Michael: I believe Twitter has a place in both channels of some events. Its use has most often been documented as a “back channel” conversation platform, but not exclusively, because there are situations where its use comes to the forefront. For example with a hybrid meeting, for Q & A segments, it could be the front channel for virtual participants to submit their comments and questions directly to speakers. As an added enhancement, the use of a question/comment moderator is particularly useful. We used this concept for the PCMA Midwest Chapter September educational meeting and it enriched the depth and impact of the event.
Another potential use of Twitter in the front channel would be for a brainstorming session. Ideas and concepts could be communicated by virtual (and potentially live) participants through the Twitter platform, marked by a hashtag, of course.
I also see Google Wave emerging as a direct competitor to Twitter for both of these scenarios.
Samuel: I think that the backchannel should be used for: > Speaker Q&A
> Collecting ideas from the audience
> Integrating the virtual and face2face event audiences
> Integrating the virtual audience of a webcast or a webinar
(A) The Gap between the experts on stage and the amateurs in the crowd is shrinking. We should be using these backchannel tools to have a collaborative discussion that engages the thoughts, ideas and wisdom of the experts in the audience.
(B) There are many people that are not comfortable asking questions in front of a crowd. (for example, fear of public speaking, English as a second language, etc.) Using this technology, you give them another way to easily ask their questions.
(C) Sometimes we have questions early in the presentation – and we seem to forget them by the time the presentation ends. the backchannel allows us to ask these questions as we think about them.
(D) When you use hybrid events – the backchannel is a bridge between the virtual and the face-to-face audiences. It allows them to communicate and engage with each other.
Michael: Using technology for the sake of “being cool” or “on the cutting edge” is not a strong enough reason in and of itself. Being strategic and doing the right thing for your customers is!
Samuel: When you use these backchannel tools, I think that you need to (A) understand the type of interaction that you want to create and (B) allocate the right amount of time for it to happen. In doing so – you will be strategic (as Mike said).
Jeff: I hope you’ll reference Olivia Mitchell’s free ebook on Using Twitter in presentations
I also suggest reading what’s she’s wrote about using it on her blog. She has a lot of articles about it.
I’d love to hear from you…
What are your thoughts? Yay or nay to bringing Twitter from the backchannel to the front?
Do you have any examples, positive or negative, to share with others?