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I like my blog shaken, not stirred

Hi there loyal and new readers of Erika Pryor At Large. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit MIA for the past few weeks. Not because I don’t love to bring you new and exciting things, but rather I was experiencing some growing pains.

More specifically, I’ve found myself wanting to write about a range of topics, but feeling like I couldn’t do it on my blog.Then I thought, what the hell is the point of  having a blog, if you don’t create content about what you are motivated. And I found no better time than Independence Day to make this declaration.

I’m skaking things up here at Erika Pryor At Large. I’m talking about more topics related to career and work, and of course there will be social media and web tech stuff. As an added bonus, I want to start providing Digital 411 program notes, that include websites, stories, and other general information we discuss during the course of the program.

So, what do you think is the first new thing you’re rolling out, you ask? I’m so glad you’ve asked. It’s a series called: My Day As A …

Here’s a little background. If you’ve ever worked as (or known someone that was) a consultant, freelancer, entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that no day is really like the one before, or the one coming next. For me, this is what a typical week my include among other things:

Monday I play the role of “marketing therapist,” for a client listening attentively to their difficulties managing the 10 different hats they are charged to wear, while also helping my client develop an action plan to get things done.

Tuesday, I’m getting close to an article submission deadline, so I’m finishing up the research and writing of blog and website articles.

Wednesday I find myself  working with a client to prepare them for their media interview and photo shoot. I’m also working with their team on our regional campaign launch.

Thursday I’m working on developing the Digital 411 program schedule and getting guest co-hosts lined up for the next weeks and months.

By the time Friday rolls around, I’m scheduled to do some gurrella marketing at a local festival. Followed up by spending Saturday at Port Columbus doing market research for a client.

That’s this week — but can’t say next week will look anything like this one.

And for me, that’s the exciting part of things that keeps me engaged in my work. That’s when I thought to myself Why not share these interesting moments with your community? Well, that’s what I’m not doing with the series My Day As A..

As an added bonus, I’m making the series open to others and accepting submissions from YOU! That’s right, I’m guessing a day in the life of you has it’s interesting moments, and now there’s a place where you can share it with others.

In addition to this new series, I’m making a resolution to add more video posts and video supplements to the blog.

Thanks for being a fan, listener, and reader of Erika Pryor At Large and Digital 411! I have so much fun doing both and love the interaction and support I continue to receive from you. It’s great keep it coming and I’ll keep coming with posts, videos, commentary, and much more here!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in blog

 

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Facebook Fan Pages Blown Wide Open

Facebook Fan Pages Blown Wide Open

Facebook is a topic favorite on Digital 411, and there are endless things to talk about when it comes to the world’s most popular social media network. As the biggest online time sink and with more than 700 million users worldwide on Facebook everyday, if you’re not using a Facebook Fan Page to connect with your consumers you’re missing opportunities to be part of their daily lives.

On the Saturday, June 11, 2011 episode of Digital 411 we’re blowing Facebook Fan Pages wide open. Telling everything you need to know about creating and maintaining a successful page. We’ll discuss how to leverage custom tabs, social applications, email capture and much more.

Here are our guest co-hosts that will blow Facebook Fan Pages wide open:

Elijah R. Young

Co-Founder at Fandura (www.fandura.com), Serial Small Business Entrepreneur, Small Business Start-up Consultant and Business Strategist, Elijah R. Young creates digital strategies that allow brands to both market themselves in the social media space, and connect their social online identities to their offline branding and marketing materials.

As a serial small business entrepreneur, as of January 2010, Elijah R. Young have started or been involved with the launch of 16 businesses from 2003 to Present. I am always looking to invest in entrepreneurship and develop new business ideas either offline, or via my personal blog. Follow Elijah on Twitter @ElijahRYoung

Mark Hill 

Mark Hill is a serial entrepreneur and has been so his entire life. He launched his first retail company out of his Ohio State dorm room at the age of 19. Since then he has either been a co-founder in or a part of 5 other startups, all but 1 being in the e-commerce or technology sectors. At Fandura (his latest company) he is excited about building web and social applications that help business owners grow their businesses.  Follow Mark on Twitter @IamMarkHill

I promise you will walk away knowing more about Facebook Fan Pages than you ever imagined. Join us during our live broadcast Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 10amEST on TalktainmentRadio.com. We take your calls at 1(877) 932-9766 and you can join the conversation on Twitter too @Digital411.

Can’t listen to the live broadcast — that’s okay. Catch the podcast the following week or subscribe on iTunes (http://bit.ly/Digital411iTunes) and don’t miss an episode!

 
 

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Is your inflated brand scaring away prospective employers?

Is your inflated brand scaring away prospective employers?
A few weeks ago, a few social media consultants and myself were having a spirited discussion regarding solo-preneur to micro to small business growing pains. What some of us were really saying was: I’m starting to feel that owning my own business isn’t fun anymore, I think I like working as a consultant better.We toyed around with the idea out loud and with others like was it time to get a full-time job? And if it was, could having a gigantic personal brand do more harm than good? Could my personal brand actual scare away potential employers?Is this really possible, I thought. I had spent the last three years or so, building a personal brand that stood for something and reaping – what I believed were — the benefits of a strong online and offline reputation. I never considered the possibility that  my persona brand could be too big for an employer?

Of course everyone from Katie Couric to Angela An and every other news caster, employment counselor and economist has talked about the importance of networking and building a brand. But what if the opposite can be true, with potential employers declining to meet with you because your brand is too big?

We speculated about the negatives of hiring someone with an inflated personal brand. Someone in the company — presumably a decision maker — doesn’t like you because of some inflammatory remarks you made at a speaking engagement.

Especially at a small business or startup, the president may be concerned that by hiring you, your brand will overshadow the company. We also speculated as to whether or not, expectations of what you can do and accomplish are inflated because of your larger than life online persona.

Clearly that conversation got me thinking. So, I reached out to someone who I know works with small businesses and asked what she thought about the question: Can a strong personal brand scare away a potential employer?

Here’s some of what Andrea Applegate of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce had to say on the subject.

Regardless of your occasional tech and social media savvy lawyer or nurse,most small business owners really don’t know much about social media. She continues, “technology, PR, marketing, or youth oriented industries are the types of small business owners that are well versed in social media.”

Andrea notes that since, “small businesses in other industries don’t even understand social media, so it (the killer social media brand you’ve been cultivating) is meangingless to them.”

Here’s the real dagger in your social media lovin’ heart: According to Andrea, “most small businesses and startups have no real understanding of how powerful social media can be and is.”

Although this is good news of sorts. I mean if you decide to hang up your consultant lifestyle for a straighter laced existence, then working with a startup or small business feels like less of a sell out — over working for the man and going straight corporate.

But that brings to light another problem: My potential audience may not have any idea about me and my awesomeness? Now what do I do.

According to Andrea Applegate — it’s time to get integrated. Since many business owners have their finger on what’s happening in their industry — start working traditional reputation building channels as well.

Social media my not be the first place your audience turns for everything from coupons to daily news, said Andrea “you have to distinguish yourself as an expert in your filed using traditional mechanisms (like speaking at conferences, writing white papers, etc.) because these activites have a higher value for these employers.”

Whoa, so you’re advice to consultants thinking about getting a 9 to 5 gig with a small business or start up generally is to go integrate old school reputation management with new school personal branding methods. That’s great advice! Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but valuable nonetheless.

What do you think? Is this sounds advice to consider, or B.S.? Are you thinking if the company doesn’t get social media is it not the right place for you to begin with (I admit that’s my gut reaction =)

 
 

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How to break into your social media career

With the rise of social media networks moving beyond everyday consumers to include big business, small business, educational institutions and much more, there’s a new sense of excitment when it comes to social media as a career. But the question remains — how do you actually break into the social media career? You might also wonder what does a social media career look like? Do you just post messages on Twitter all day?

We’ll be talking about all of that and much more this week on Digital 411. Meet our guest co-hosts that will share their career path to breaking into social media.

Jenn Hallowes, Mar/Comm Social Media Specalist

Jenn Hallowes is a results-driven Communications, Marketing, PR and Social Media Strategist with a tremendous passion for the ever-expanding digital world. Jenn develops long-term strategic plans and leads tactical initiatives, and synchronizes multimedia plans and objectives ensuring consistency in brand elements, voice and purpose.

Catch Jenn on Twitter @JennLynn9

Mark Kotowski, Social Media Coordinator

Mark Kotowski is an experienced social media coordinator having worked with different organizations to reach different goals. He specializes in creating and maintaining online identities through social networking, utilizing several forms of social media to orchestrate an active brand presence.

Follow Mark on Twitter @maedko

Digital 411 records live Saturdays at 10am on TalktainmentRadio.com. We also take callers on the air at: 1 (877) 932-9766 and questions on Twitter @Digital411. Listen live, join the conversation and have fun with Jenn, Mark and me this week talking about how to break into YOUR social media career!

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in communication, Digital 411

 

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Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?

Perhaps these are conversations that are happening behind closed doors, so I’m hear to blow the lid off a few things. But first, let me set the scene for you.

At some random networking event, I run into someone really interested in talking about working together to build brand awareness using social and digital media. Awesome, just the conversations I love to have. We follow up our unplanned encounter with a scheduled meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I do my homework researching this person’s current social media, digital presence and website. Like a good consultant should!

What do I find during my routine pre-meeting preparation, but a complete shit show of a website. I mean, the thing hasn’t been updated for years, there nothing to indicate a company personality or link to their social media sites, and — as an added bonus — the logos from the website don’t even match those on current business cards.

So, we show up for a our coffee and social media conversation. When we get past the pleasantries, the conversation goes something like this —

Me: So, how do you feel about your website?

Them: Oh, I know it needs a little sprucing up, but I really want to talk about social media.

Me: Really? Hmm, did you have fantasies about driving traffic to your website from your social media channels?

Them: excitedly Yeah, that’s a real goal!

Me: quizzically Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?

Herein lies the problem. Everybody is very concerned about their social media presence — that’s actually a good thing — but, if your plan is to drive traffic to your website and it’s a complete mess, than you are not ready to dive into social media just yet.

Although I don’t actually do any behind the scenes website construction or programming, I’m glad to throw in my two cents when it comes to visual appeal, user interface, and general layout. Here are some of the biggest offenses that send me back to my Google search results. Admittedly, you may have others to add to the list, since this is not exhaustive I’m sure to leave a few out.

Too Much Text

Although it may be tempting to include everything and the kitchen sink, but remember, people’s attention spans are shorter than what they use to be. You know from your own experience, if you’re questioning whether the investment in time or energy seems to outweigh the payoff — then you’re already planning to move on.

If you have lots of text to include be sure to break up with other visual elements such as pictures and headings.

Scannable Pages

Pages with too much text don’t draw in readers because people can’t get an easy preview of what the page has to offer. Make pages scannable with headings, pictures, survey questions or other types of visual aids. You may get a reader on the fence, they check out the video, and decide reading is a good idea. That’s great because it increases the points of interaction and amount of time spent on the page.

Use of Page Real Estate

I might have a bias for a three column page, but I find websites are easier to navigate when there are multiple points of navigation easy to locate on the site. I’m also partial to navigation at the bottom of the page as well.

Sidebars are always a great place to include testimonials, upcoming speaking events, or other types of timely information. And make social media interaction easy with plugins and streams in columns too!

I’ve also heard the “Website Under Construction” signs are pretty useless, so maybe you want to get rid of that and not make the site live until it’s fully ready for traffic.

“About” Page Falsie

In case you’re unaware, the “About” page is typically one of the most visited on most sites. I appreciate an actual “About” page, which tells me something about the minds (read people) behind an organization. Not the “falsie” which attempts to present a “big” company using “we” and “us,” but personalization can be to your benefit. At least give your site visitors some insight on the leadership of your organization — no matter how big or small.

No Contact/Interaction Opportunities

If you would like to increase business opportunities with your website — please include a contact page with a contact form. I have been to many out-of-date websites which seem to be missing the all important opportunity for prospective clients to actually reach someone at your organization. There’s nothing wrong with making contact with you as simple as possible.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to start your social media efforts or do you still have some work to do to get your website ready for the 21st century visitor?

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in business, communication

 

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I’m Fired Up! (or Why getting fired helped me get out of my own way!)

I’m fired up! That’s what I’ve been saying to myself — and more importantly — out loud and to others! I’m fired up and pissed off about some things and that’s just the way it is for a while. Maybe you’ve noticed some of my recent blog articles and Digital 411 programs. If you havn’t buckle up and settle in for a few hundred words, it’s about to get interesting. As a disclaimer: This post is a rare personal one.


A few weeks ago I started my dream job. Working as an account executive at RMD Advertising. A great company with an excellent reputation for growing food brands. I worked hard there — about 6 days. I did like every new employee hoping to learn the ropes as quickly as possible. I stayed late, took work home, tested my knowledge as I accomplished tasks, and asked questions when I couldn’t figure things out on my own.

Then I heard the words no one ever wants to hear. “I gotta let you go” followed up with, “I just don’t think you’ll be happy here.” Now, I’m not sure what the second part means, but I’m fairly certain I know what the first part means. That’s right! RMD Advertising fired me after just 6 working days. Now, since I wasn’t snorting bumps in the bathroom or secretly defecating on my boss’s desk, I can’t figure out how a person gets fired in just over a week. But being the overachiever that I am, I had accomplished the task.

It’s likely I’ll never learn why I was prematurely let go and it’s not important to this story. So, what is important is how getting fired helped me get out of my own way. Here’s what I mean by that.

Considering I’ve never been a very good “employee,” and I’ve heard the stories about entrepreneurs getting fired from every job they ever had, I got to thinking. May be this major blow to my self esteem is the universe telling me that I’m supposed to be an entrepreneur. A role I have resisted for a while because entrepreneurs are rouge, outerliers and risk takers. I didn’t want to be those qualities because the aren’t typically used glowingly. However, we’re experiencing a huge paradigm shift. Now 15 year olds are successfully starting businesses, securing start up capital, and learn business basics in summer camp. But as an entrepreneur, you’re constantly working the hustle. Another thing I wanted to avoid.

Working the hustle is a big part of the life of an entrepreneur. You are consistently selling yourself, your business, networking and seemingly up against what seems to be great odds, only to find yourself strategizing as to how you’re going to overcome those challenges. That seems hard. What I failed to recognize (and the universe did see clearly) is that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. And in my case — having a full time job with little flexibility was getting in the way of doing what I’ve always done: work the hustle.

So what did getting fired do to help you get your own way to do?

That’s a convuluted way of saying: What are you doing now? Well I’ve resisted working full time as a consultant, but when I was approached to do a consulting project 3 days after I was fired and negotiated a contract  just 6 working days after being fired for not doing bumps in the bathroom I got the hint. It’s time for me to stop attempting to be traditional — which I’m not — and make my own way.

So, what am I so fired up about? Well, initially I was fired up about getting fired — of course. But now I’m fired up about being an entrepreneur, about finding obstacles as opportunities, and helping people with social media and digital PR. Also, I’m fired up about doing what you were born to do — and not what people have determined you should be doing. Since everyone has skills and talents, that means we should be using what comes naturally and easily to us to fully be your authentic self.

I say if you have to get fired in order to realize that, then so be it. Everything does in fact happen for a reason.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Productivity, self empowerment

 

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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Avoid Social Media Panic

From Mashable This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

The notion of getting into social media might seem overwhelming for any small business. Spending time upfront before launch to create a plan with goals that includes how to translate that social media presence into dollars will go a long way toward achieving success.

Nine percent of small and medium-sized businesses use Twitter() to market their businesses, according to the latest wave of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor study. And 32 percent of those businesses said they plan to include social media in their marketing plans in the next 12 months by using a page on a social site such as Facebook(), LinkedIn() or MySpace().

The study showed that 16% of small and medium-sized businesses that have been around for three years or less use Twitter for promotion versus 2 percent of the same size businesses that have been around for at least 11 years.

Here are some tips to help avoid panic when thinking about launching a presence on social media platforms.


1. Have a plan


strategy imageDon’t just get on the social media bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. Does it make sense for your business? Is it where your customers are?

Jason Falls, social media consultant and strategist at SocialMediaExplorer.com, said the first thing to realize is social media is not for every business. “Understanding that is going to take a lot of the panic out for small business owners,” he said.

Falls recommended small business owners familiarize themselves with social media tools, look at who the target audience is to see where they are and then figure out how to engage these people and reach them. He said that as small business owners do this, they will be able to determine what their goals are with using social media.

He stressed having a clear call to action with anything in marketing. Social media is no exception. “You can still engage with people, provide valuable content and give them a call to action,” he said.


2. Take Small Steps with a Goal in Mind


Building a loyal customer base using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter doesn’t happen overnight. At the same time, this approach might not be the ideal tactic for a small business that needs to move fast. Understand what your small business can get out of social media. For example, is it to sell products or build relationships with customers?

Falls said that deciding on taking small steps depends on how fast a business owner needs to see results. However, he stressed that social media is about building relationships and that takes time.

“I think the smart thing to do as a business owner is to have a plan with clear goals and objectives,” he said. “Social media is much more about building lifetime relationships with customers.”


3. Be Willing to Put Some Time Into It


time imageSet up a social media presence and then check in regularly, but don’t feel it’s necessary to sit on Facebook and Twitter all day.

Falls suggested small business owners set up their social media pages so they can get notifications sent to their smartphones from these channels. But the more time you invest in using social media, the more you’ll get out of it.

The more content you produce, the better rank you’ll have in search, which means more visibility and being able to drive traffic back to your site, according to Falls.


4. Track Progress and Results


Have a system in place to gauge how the social media effort is working.

Falls said that if small business owners want social media activity to drive customers to do something, then they need to know what to measure.

Some examples of metrics to look at are: How many visitors came to your site from a social media site; Conversion (i.e. how many people clicked through to your site and then bought a product or service), Falls said. In minimal terms, be able to say something like: I spent X dollars and was able to track X amount of revenue (or percentage).

chart imageLink shorteners can help track click throughs on Twitter. Twitter tools such as Seesmic(Seesmic), TweetDeck(TweetDeck), HootSuite(HootSuite) and others can help users track mentions, direct messages and @replies. Facebook fan pages and YouTube(YouTube) Channel Partner pages have their own set of insights for admins. Use tools such as Google e-mail alerts to track mentions of your business online.

He said small business owners need to understand how to measure those goals and what they got out of the social media spend so they know what to budget for next year. He added that there are paid social media monitoring services such as Radian6(Radian6) and Scout Labs whose services can range from $500 to $600 per month.


5. Be flexible


Striking a good mix with social networks can mean trying more than one strategy because there isn’t a magic formula for success. Falls advised being flexible not only about the tools you use but about where your audience is.

For example, if you’re not seeing some kind of boost after using social media for four to five months, then back off and find other ways to use the time spent or reassess to see if you can do something to move the needle a bit more, he recommended.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2010 in business

 

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