How high is your bar set?

by Mack Collier on February 3, 2010

When I was 11 years old, living in rural Alabama, one hot summer I joined a local football team.  The school where I was attending at the time didn’t have a football program, but a nearby school did, and a couple of my friends convinced me to join them in playing football.

My good friend and I were on the ‘midget’ football team, and my friend’s two older brothers were on the ‘pee wee’ football team.  To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of playing football for a school where I knew no one.  But my friend wanted to play, and my dad encouraged me too, so I sheepishly agreed.

On the first day, we were lined up and the coaches did a series of drills designed to help them figure out what our skills were.  Who could throw, who could catch, who could run, etc.  I noticed how all the other players were kidding with each other and the coaches.  These were all kids that attended this school together, so they were already friends.  Everyone knew everyone else, and being an introvert, that made me realize that I had no business being there.  No one knew who I was, and as the coaches lined us up for drills, a sense of dread came over me.  What was going to happen when it was my turn to catch a pass from the coach?  Of course I was going to drop the ball, because I was nervous as hell, and then everyone was going to stop and say “Who is THAT kid?  The one that can’t catch?”

Yeah it’s funny how a kid, especially an introverted kid that didn’t want to be there, can overreact.

So I watched as the line in front of me got shorter and shorter.  We were lined up and the person at the front of the line would run down the field, and the coach would throw them a pass.  Four kids in front of me, then three, then two.  Funny thing is, I wasn’t worried about dropping the pass, I was worried that the coach wouldn’t know who I was (how could he?), and that he’d tell me I didn’t belong there because I didn’t go to that school.  So by the time the kid in front of me ran out to catch his pass and it was just seconds away from being ‘my turn’, I was almost scared to death.  All the worst-case scenarios ran through my mind; The coach wouldn’t know who I was.  I would drop the ball and everyone would laugh at me.  The coach would laugh at me.  Who knew.

The coach watched the kid in front of me catch his pass, he clapped and shouted encouragement to him.  Then he turned and grabbed another football, and turned to look at me.  This was it.

Then he did something I will never forget; He looked at me, smiled slightly, and said ‘Ok Mack….go get it!’.  And he winked at me!  The man winked at me!  At that moment, all the irrational fears of an introverted 11 year-old kid in a football practice he didn’t really want to be at, immediately disappeared.

I ran a route that would have made Jerry Rice cheer, and if that coach had thrown that ball 10 feet over my head it wouldn’t have mattered because I still would have caught that ball.  When that coach smiled and winked at me, he was saying ‘You can do this!’.  And I immediately knew I could.

“So Mack” you ask, “what the hell does this have to do with social media?”

I think the lesson is to remember that you sometimes need to lower the bar to encourage interaction.  It could be on your blog, your community site, Twitter, where ever.

Believe it or not, there really ARE people out there that have never left a comment on a blog.  AND some of them are a bit intimidated at the idea.

Laugh all you want, but many of us have been there ourselves at one point.  And maybe it’s because I am an introvert, but I always keep these people in mind when I create content.  Look at my last post about social media rockstars.  I’ll be the first to admit that it’s probably not the most mentally taxing post you will ever read.  But that post  (hopefully) was very easy to leave a comment on.  It got several comments here, and many RTs on Twitter.

The idea is to occasionally (at least), create content that’s very easy for people to interact with.  Making your content more accessible. Because the more people that interact with your content, the better the experience for you, and everyone else.

Try lowering the participation bar, and see what happens.  Try saying “Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!”

That just might be the ‘wink’ of encouragement they were waiting for…

Pic via Flickr user pdubs.94

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{ 7 comments }

I am a Social Media Rockstar

by Mack Collier on February 2, 2010

It’s a label that’s like nails on a chalkboard to many people, but one we can’t seem to escape.

The ‘Social Media Rockstar’.

Who is this person?  How do we determine who a ‘rockstar’ is in this space?

Unfortunately, we too often give this label to people that really don’t deserve it.  Too many people look at things like the number of Twitter followers, or Facebook fans, and deem the people that have high numbers to be the ‘rockstars’.  Sometimes these people are indeed among the smartest in this space, but other times, they are simply people that have learned to ‘game’ the system better than the rest of us.

So how do we identify the real ‘leaders’ in this space?  Who are the real rockstars?  Even that is open to intense debate, but if we could talk to the true social media rockstar, here is what I think they would say:

1 – I am human.  I don’t automate my communications, I relate to people as other people.  I value each and every interaction, and understand that the more interactions I have, the smarter I become.

2 – I am humble.  One time I had a person that IS considered a rockstar in this space confide to me that “I seriously hate it when people call me a ‘rockstar’”, and when I asked why, they said “Because I am afraid that someone will believe them.”

3 – I think indirectly.  The people that TRULY excel in leveraging social media as tools to connect with other people get this.   They don’t think ‘What do I get from this?’, they think “What value will my actions create for others?“  This is one of the most misunderstood elements of social media in the business context.  You can’t monetize your social media efforts until you first create value for the people you are trying to reach.

4 – I am a people person.  I love connecting with people, and always have, no matter why tools I use.  I am social with or without the use of social tools.

5 – I find and surround myself with people that are smarter than I am.  This ties back to being humble, but I understand that I can learn something from almost everyone.  And I assume that everyone can teach me something.  The end result is that I am smarter, and can create more value for my network.

6 – I am actually social.  I really use Twitter to talk to people.  I actually reply to readers that comment on my blog.  I make the time to stay connected, even when I don’t have it.

7 – I know I am not a rockstar.  Seriously, being a social media rockstar is about as significant as being the 3rd best hockey player in Ecuador.

What other traits do the real social media rockstars have?

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{ 21 comments }

Three steps to saving your company from a social media firestorm!

January 25, 2010

Last week I was contacted by a company that found itself in an unfortunate position.  One of the products it produces had been failing, and bloggers were taking to the internet to voice their displeasure.  The end result was that if you Googled the company and its product, the majority of the top results were, [...]

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I’m leaving, and I’m taking your social media strategy with me!

January 20, 2010

A couple of years ago Ann Handley, the Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, snagged the @MarketingProfs name on Twitter and started making fabulous use of the site to connect with and engage MP’s members.  Everyone knew that if they had a question or issue with MP, that Ann was the person they could reach [...]

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What #blogchat can teach you about building a successful community site

January 18, 2010

About 10 months ago on a Sunday nite I asked a blogging question on Twitter, and as a bit of an experiment (and to better organize the responses I was hoping to get) I added the #blogchat hashtag to my question.  With that, the first #blogchat was born.
Since that time, we’ve had #blogchat every Sunday [...]

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Need Social Media budgeting help? Get a Social Media Strategy Audit

December 15, 2009

To book one of the five slots for this service, or to get more information on the social media strategy audit, please email me.
Last week I blogged about how you can go about putting a social media strategy together.  And it’s timely advice, as many of your companies are, or soon will be putting together [...]

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Everything you ever wanted to know about creating a social media strategy (but were afraid to ask)

December 8, 2009

If your company is using social media, it is VITAL that you have a strategy and plan in place that’s guiding your efforts.  Not only will your efforts be much more successful, but it will save you a ton of time and money since your efforts will be focused.  And it will be much easier [...]

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You can’t evaluate the effectiveness of your social media plan until you HAVE a plan!

December 3, 2009

Going back to the results from my social media survey, Question #6 asked “What has been the biggest problem your company has encountered in using social meda?”
The top response to this question was “Not sure how to measure the effectiveness of our efforts”.
That probably isn’t surprising to many of you.  But that ’sounds’ like an [...]

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Twitter and blogs are hot with companies, but they aren’t sure how to measure their efforts

December 1, 2009

As promised, here are the results from my recent survey on how companies are using social media.  Over 200 of you responded to this survey,  and thank you SO much for doing so!  I’ll be digging into the results and takeaways a bit more over the coming weeks, but for today I wanted to give [...]

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Even individuals need a social media strategy!

November 24, 2009

One of the findings in my social media survey from last week was that 18% of the respondents said they were a sole proprietorship.  So this raises the question; If you work for yourself, do you still need a strategy for your social media usage?
Absolutely!
In fact I would argue that it’s even MORE important for [...]

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Got 2 mins to help me with a social media survey?

November 16, 2009

Click here for the survey.
Hey guys, I wanted to know if you have a couple of minutes to help me with a survey on social media.  The survey has 10 multiple choice questions, and focuses on how companies are using social media, what their budgets are, what’s working, what isn’t, etc.  The survey should take [...]

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