Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 7)

Building My Brand: Twitter

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I have two Twitter accounts. @mandyboyle is my personal/professional account. @Cactus_Mandy is my Solid Cactus Twitter account.

On @mandyboyle, I’ll post personal updates, conversational tweets, photos, blog post links, and references to material that I find interesting. Subject covered can rage from recipes and comics to public relations and marketing. It’s a lot like my blog: a patchwork of topics. This account has allowed for me to connect and build upon my relationships with other NEPA bloggers, friends, colleagues, and industry professionals.

On @Cactus_Mandy, it’s mostly SEO and internet marketing tweets. My @Cactus_Mandy account is used for work, so this is an account that has connected me with e-commerce merchants, colleagues in the industry, and current SC clients. I also don’t update this as much, so from a branding perspective, this isn’t always the best reflection of me.

For the sake of this post, we’ll take a closer look at @mandyboyle since it’s the one that I use the most. I usually update this a few times a day, sometimes missing a day and not posting very much on the weekends. I like to unplug somewhat on the weekend, so if I use Twitter, it’s usually from my phone or late in the evening when I have some down time.

Being Human

There’s no magic number of tweets to send per day. Some people have built a successful personal brand on tweeting 100 times per day. Others get the same impact from tweeting 19 times per day. In my case, I only post when I feel like I have something to share – even if it’s just what I ate for lunch today. Tara Hunt wrote an AWESOME post about minding the gap between business and personal and I have to agree with her. Seemingly boring posts can actually reveal a lot about ourselves, so keep that in mind the next time you’re following or making an update. What you eat, what movie you saw, or where you just were can give you an opportunity to connect with someone over a common interest just as much as a blog post you wrote. When I tell you about where I was, what I ate, or what I wore, I’m letting you know that I’m human. I’m not just a blog post tweeting machine who only cares about marketing and SEO. I also like Star Wars. And cooking.

Twitter in a Crisis

Subject matter in tweets is important, so I always make sure to proof a post before update. Like I said in my previous post, all it takes is a few seconds to ruin a reputation. There are countless case studies and examples of what not to tweet about. Remember Kenneth Cole and the Cairo tweet? Yeah, not good. But then again, there’s also the case of the American Red Cross and #gettngslizzerd. I guess the biggest take away from comparing these two cases is to consider what you post and if you make a mistake, deal with it in a way that doesn’t ruin your rep. Sometimes, that means an apology. Other times, it means laughing something off and just moving on. You’ll have to use your judgement in those cases.

On Content

Content is also a big part of personal branding on Twitter, so I try to post a variety of things. Most of my updates are links to things I find interesting, but I also offer up some thoughts here and there too. I’m from Northeastern Pennsylvania so often times, you’ll notice that I’m tweeting about a local event I’m attending or looking forward to. Here are some of my thoughts on tweeting topics:

  • If you build your personal brand around a business, be transparent. Show off your good work and let people know what you do, but don’t turn your stream into an endless plug.
  • If you’re local, tweet about local events. It gives you a way to connect with people nearby, which can be just as cool as connecting with people who live in another part of the world.
  • Don’t be annoying – and don’t try to constantly sell people crap. Just doesn’t work.
  • Be mindful of your reputation. Just like Facebook, Twitter can be indexed by search engines and found by employers. And yes, Twitter can get you fired.
  • Use hashtags. It’s a great way to start or participate in larger scale conversations. Plus, it’s fun to be part of the crowd from time to time.

The most important thing to remember about content is to be true to who you are. If you find something interesting, share it. If you don’t, don’t. It’s really that simple. By only sharing what you find valuable, you’re using social media the right way. There are far too many people out there who just RT a post for the sake of joining the crowd without ever bothering to read it.

Conversations Make It

Speaking of crowds, Twitter isn’t about the number of followers you have. It’s more so about the conversations you can have with people. Chris Brogan recently wrote about how he went back to zero after trying to keep up with thousands of people. It’s difficult. No, it’s impossible. There is no way for you to be able to catch every tweet and respond to every message when you’re working with a crowd that large. Instead, my advice is to follow people you feel you can connect with or get value from. Right now, I’m pretty comfortable with the amount of people I follow. I have lists that make it easy for me to sort through the din and I can jump into streams of conversation whenever I feel like it. That’s the really fun part.

Conversations are what makes Twitter for me. I’ve been able to get feedback, ask questions, have a few laughs, and even meet people. Like any other social network, people make it truly worthwhile. It’s not about how many times you update, what you post about, or how cool your background looks. It’s about the people that you get to share and interact with.

10 Twitter Confessions

    1. I’ve been on Twitter since 2008. Originally, my username was @mlb217, which wasn’t a great branding move for me. After people getting confused about who I was and thinking I was a baseball fan, I switched over to my name instead. Since that switch, it’s been easier for people to find me and trust that I’m a real person. Most spammers tend to use random numbers and letters in their usernames so at first glance, my original approach looked like spam. I’m glad I switched.
    2. My user picture is an actual picture of me. I’ve found that in my travels across Twitter, I can spot a spam account based on the stock photo – or lack of any photo for that matter. Putting a real picture up can build some trust. Plus, people want to know what you look like.
    3. I’ve made about 5,098 tweets since starting my account. It’s a lot, but there are times when I wish I would have made more. But I have to remember that social media is very instantaneous and that there will always be more opportunities to share.
    4. I have about 1,900 followers. Most of these people have never met me in real life. A fair chunk is probably spam, but hey, that’s unavoidable. I follow most of these people back because they’ve connected with me for a reason. They either know me personally, have something in common with me, or can offer me value. As for etiquette on following, it’s all up for negotiation. Some people say follow everyone, other say follow only people you know. I follow companies as well as individuals. I say it’s pretty much the same thing as your Facebook: follow what you find interesting. 
    5. My bio is pretty short and sweet: “SEO Manager for @solidcactus. Freelance Writer. Marywood Grad. Cupcake enthusiast. Resident Nice Girl. In Love with Communicating. From NEPA.” I have a really hard time writing about myself. I think bios are probably the most difficult things to write, so if you have any tips or feedback for me, I’d love to hear it! As for what to do with your Twitter bio, fill it out with something. It’s essentially your elevator pitch for any possible connection.
    6. I have a personalized background. You can get fancy with something branded or  you can keep it simple. The key thing to remember is that your background says something about your personality.
    7. I participate in Twitter chats from time to time, namely, the #PRStudChat. It’s a public relations chat that connects students, professors, and industry professionals. If you’re new to Twitter and are looking to build some new connections, Twitter chats can be a great way to do that. Plus, it’s an awesome way to show that you know your stuff, which connects directly back to your personal brand.
    8. I don’t pay a lot of attention to Klout. I’ve seen Klout, Kred, and other social currency platforms debated back and forth. In my mind, I think it’s unfair and a little subjective to assign someone a number that represents how influential they are. I think if you know your community, you should be able to tell that right off the bat. Plus, numbers like these can always be incorrect or changed. Why should a number indicate whether or not someone is worthy to connect with? That, to me, isn’t what Twitter should be about.
    9. I use URL shorteners when I post links. It makes my posts RT-friendly and easier to digest. I’d recommend bit.ly or t.co, but Hootsuite’s built-in shorteners (ow.ly and ht.ly) are great too, especially if you want analytics to go along with your shortened links.
    10. If someone says they’re a guru, expert, maven, or otherwise, I probably won’t follow him or her. In my experience, 99% of those people aren’t actually experts – they just like to think they are. Plus, nobody likes it when you’re social media douchebag.

Twitter Takeaways:

  • Be human.
  • Be transparent.
  • Tweet when you have something to say – not just for the sake of tweeting.
  • Don’t be spammy.
  • Proof your posts before you hit update.
  • Made a mistake? Apologize and laugh it off if you can. The point is to keep moving forward and do right by your followers.
  • Follow what you find interesting.
  • Participate in the conversation.
  • People make it all worthwhile.

 

Additional Reading

Personal branding on Twitter is a big deal and there are other bloggers and writers who have covered the subject much better than I ever could. Here are some great posts with additional info:

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How I Build My Personal Brand

Research on Iran. by Negar Mottahedeh Social M...

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written about personal branding, but it seems like now is the perfect time to do so. After completing the #Trust30 Challenge and writing a few reflective posts, I’m ready to get back into marketing, social media, and branding. It’s what I know best and feel most passionate about.

In previous posts and in some of my guest posts, you may have read about ways to strengthen your presence on LinkedIn, blog successfully, or utilize social media tools like Facebook to grow your brand, either as an individual or an organization. In this next series of posts, I’m going to share a behind the scenes look at what I use to grow my own personal brand, both online and offline.

Here’s what you can expect to hear from me:

  • Why I keep things PG-13 on Facebook
  • What social network I’m still exploring
  • Why I have two Twitter accounts
  • What’s in my portfolio
  • How I pay it forward
  • How I was a guest poster even before I got into blogging
I’m not a celebrity in social media by any means. What I’m writing about isn’t gospel, but it’s what’s working for me right now. I’m just sharing my perspective. Other opinions and points of view are welcome!
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#Trust30 Prompt 9: Afraid to Do

Screenshot of PostSecret with an example postcard.

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The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now.

(Author: Mary Jaksch)

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I think that we’re all afraid to write our secrets – unless they’re not associated with us. PostSecret is a perfect example of how people, when left anonymous, can share some of the most powerful messages.  So if I do ever decide to share a secret, it will be in a space where I can do so anonymously – not here.

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Mandy at Lucifer Falls - Ithaca, NY

#Trust30 Prompt 3: One Strong Belief

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

(Author: Buster Benson)

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It took me an entire day to figure this one out, and it didn’t actually come to me until I was just about to fall asleep. So even though today is really day four, I’ll be posting both the appropriate prompt and this one from day three.

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Mandy at Lucifer Falls - Ithaca, NY

I've been fishing for faith for quite awhile. Photo by Brent Pennington. Yes, that's me in the picture - looking for fish.

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When I was young, I was raised to be a Catholic. I came from a largely Catholic family and no child that had come before me had ever NOT been so. My mother’s side was different. Her family was comprised of non-practicing Methodists who were usually just wedding and baptism church goers. My great-grandmother read The Bible every day and would make notes in the margins. She used a bookmark I made her to keep her place.

At first, my experience with the church was the classic Easter/Christmas schedule with the occasional Sunday mass thrown in. A wedding here, a baptism there. Maybe a First Holy Communion. I wasn’t much of a church goer and it was common for my father to skip Sundays from time to time, so church was pretty lax in my household. My cousins had it differently. They were brought up, each and every one, as Catholics from baptism to confirmation.

One day, when I was around 7 years-old, I decided that I didn’t want to start going to CCD classes. I didn’t want to become part of a church. Frankly, the whole idea of church confounded me. I was 7, but something wasn’t clicking or jiving with me. I didn’t get the sit, stand, kneel commands and their significance. I didn’t feel moved by the music or inspired by The Bible passages.  Granted, I was just a kid and gave in to my ignorance.  I decided church wasn’t for me and claimed that I wanted to worship at home. I would read The Bible, like my great-grandmother did, and avoid Sundays like the plague. Some may scold my parents for letting a 7 year-old even make that kind of decision, but at the time, it just happened.  It worked out pretty well for awhile. Dad would nag about church and jokingly call me a heathen.

At family gatherings, I would be asked why I didn’t go. “Mandy Leigh, you should really go to church.”

But despite my large distaste for church every Easter and Christmas, I sat in a pew. As the years went by – and my parents’ divorce took its toll – my father turned into the classic Easter/Christmas Catholic, making time to go when was necessary. Because of the divorce, he could no longer receive communion. I was 12 then and the whole denial of communion thing really bothered me. Some guy was saying, “Oh, yes. Because your marriage didn’t work out, you can’t participate – unless you pay a fee.” Didn’t sit well with me, but Dad just sat quietly and waited until the end of the service to get up from the pew. That’s just the way things were.

I never received communion until my stepfather died a few years ago. I remember being at his funeral, a wreck, being told to stand up and go to the front of the church. I nervously put my hands out to accept it and when it touched my lips, I didn’t know what to expect.Where was the wash of salvation coming over me? Where was the peace in my time of grief? I didn’t find it in a piece of dry cracker. No, my serenity would come later.

In high school, I started to get curious about religion. A humanities track of classes had me learning more about mythology, the Reformation, papal indulgences, The Crusades, The Holocaust, and other such occurrences and suddenly, religion started to become more of a focus for me.  I needed to know more and maybe find something that would work for me. No one asked me to choose a path and no one told me that I needed to. It just felt right at the time. Google was still in its infancy, but I had AOL to rely on. So I searched. I read. I made notes. I started off with Judaism and in all honesty, it was because someone had called me a Jewish slur on the school bus. Not an inspiring event, but I wanted to find out more about their faith nonetheless.

Judaism wasn’t a fit for me. So I moved on to the Protestant faiths. Still not a perfect fit. Then, Dad started dating my then stepmother and I decided to give her church a try. It was a generalized Christian church with energetic services. Rock music and tears. Flags and zeal. It was a powerful experience to observe and participate in, but I still wasn’t finding what I needed. The people who surrounded me in that church had passion and unwavering faith. While I was moved, I still possessed faith’s biggest parasite: doubt.

By graduation, I had researched and visited multiple faiths and multiple churches and still, no clicking. Ironically, I chose a Catholic college. My family cheered my choice, declaring that now I’d seen the light and would become a Catholic after all. While I attended the services, said the prayers, and experienced more than my fair share of Catholic funerals, I still wasn’t in the place that I needed to be.

I wasn’t getting what I needed and I became frustrated in my search for comfort. I had lost so much in such a short period of time and I wanted religion to soothe whatever ache I had.

It was my religion classes that started to get me on the right track. I took two religion classes with the same professor. Dr. Cassidy.  When I walked into her classroom, I thought for sure that I was going to have God thrust upon me under the tenets of Marywood’s Catholic teaching policy. I was wrong. Instead of a nun, I was met with a strong woman who wanted us to walk out of her classroom with an understanding of human dignity. She didn’t push – she educated.

After taking Dr. Cassidy’s religion class, I looked into Christianity again. Some of it seemed to be a fit, but nothing was perfect. Took Shakespeare and Mystical Writers with Dr. Brassard. She blew my mind with metaphysical understandings of the universe and a much more spiritual look at God. I was wowed and started to think that maybe there was something to this spiritual business. Maybe I could be spiritual instead of fitting in with a church. That worked for awhile, but there was still a piece missing.

Another class, another religion Googled. Ethics was with a Buddhist, so I started exploring more of the Eastern faiths. Buddhism and Baha’i being two of the most considered.  Again, a few parts clicked, but not everything was a cohesive fit. Then, one day, I sat on the steps of the library talking with a graduate student. She was interviewing recent graduates for her research on the perception of Catholic identity on university campuses or something like that. I volunteered.

Now, at 22, I was faced with having to communicate what I believed to someone. By this point, I had reviewed different religions, attended different churches, and read more pages on faith and spirituality than I ever thought I would read. Holy the Firm. Briefing for a Descent into Hell. Blue Like Jazz. To The Lighthouse. Excerpts of The Quran, The Bible, and The Torah. Pamphlets from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stuck in my front door.

She asked me what my religious beliefs were. I didn’t know, so I told her the story I’ve just written. I explained that while I didn’t fall into a particular church category, I had found some “peace” in a blend of Christianity and spirituality. I told her how I felt about church and how I appreciated the sense of community, but not the teachings. I told her how I felt about God, what I beliefs I agreed with, and my frustration over not choosing a particular faith. I told her how I was supposed to be raised a good Catholic but chose to do something different. I described my journey through literature, classrooms, and search engines trying to find an answer.

Then she said the last thing I ever expected to hear:

“You know, for someone your age, you’ve got a really good sense of what you believe in. You seem to identify yourself as a spiritual person rather than a religious person. Not everyone has to fall into a category.”

Oh, my God. Literally. It was a walk-away-smiling moments of clarity.

Yesterday, I went to New York City and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I gave my donation and lit candles. I prayed, kneeling, in a pew. After I had finished, I sat back and took a deep breath. It felt good. The more I’ve settled into what I classify as my faith, the more peace I’ve gained. I don’t get frustrated when I don’t have a box to check. I don’t feel saddened by my lack of participation in a particular ritual. My higher power, my faith, my spirituality, is tied to something I can’t define and right now, that works for me.

While I won’t go into my beliefs in detail, let’s just say that they’re unique to me and that I feel good about them. Don’t worry – I’m not sacrificing goats in the backyard.  I live a pretty moral life and sometimes feel compelled to act selflessly. I don’t go to church. I don’t receive communion. I pray. I worship. I just do it in my own way.

My grandfather has been doing Bible studies and has me going over his manuscripts. One day, he wants to publish them. I’m in full support of the idea and I’m proud of what he’s put together. But before I started editing them, he did something I didn’t expect. He told me to tell him where he was wrong and to point out details that didn’t match up. For the first time for as long as I can think of, my spirituality was regarded as a strength instead of a weakness by those closest to me – and that feels good. My version of faith is like a balm to me now; it no longer frustrates.

The “Do you believe in God?” question doesn’t bother me anymore.

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Social Media: Always Worth the Time for Libraries

So on November 19, 2010, I had a really exciting opportunity. Tricia Richards of The PR Dept. LLC and Sandy Longo of the Abington Community Library invited me to speak on social media with a group of Young Adult Librarians from throughout Lackawanna county. It was such a great experience and I hope I was of some help! Anyways, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve embedded the presentation below. Feedback is always welcome and let me know if you have any questions! (the format is simple and clean – the discussion gave color to the slides!)

***Also, please note that this will be turned into a webinar as per my independent study project requirements. Stay tuned!***

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Life Happens

…And it just happened all over the place over the past two weeks.

I can’t remember a time when I was this busy. OK, maybe I can, but it’s been a little while. The past few weeks have been intense, but I’m kind of glad for the experience.

In between hospital visits, homework, classes to attend, blog posts to write, presentations, YouTube video vegging, and remembering to pay my bills on time, I’ve had a chance to see how I really prioritize my time. I got a better look at my values and what matters to me. There was some yelling and screaming (no kicking), but there were also hugs and some great words of praise. I got to feel a rainbow of emotions, all in the span of two weeks. Though I’m thankful for the experience, I’m tired.

Will be back with something insightful and awesome (I hope) soon!

Time for an Update

Doing some work on the site. Stay tuned!

Have You Ever?

what was in my bag...
Image by queercatkitten via Flickr

Have you ever…

  1. Taken the time to say “thank you” to someone who has held open a door for you, both literally and figuratively?
  2. Tried to do something new and scary and unfamiliar because you know it would make you happy to try?
  3. Failed at something that everyone thought you were good at?
  4. Felt frustrated by that fear that keeps you from taking the next step?
  5. Wondered if you were on the right path?
  6. Smiled at uncertainty?
  7. Understood that you’re part of something much bigger than yourself?
  8. Taken a challenge head on only to find that it wasn’t much of a challenge at all?
  9. Been lost in your own head?
  10. Felt intimidated by someone whom you respect?

Just some things to think about while I work on getting some new content together for here. :)

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Now What?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

That’s it. I’m officially the owner of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts.

I majored in Advertising and Public Relations, graduated summa cum laude, was in a ton of clubs, led the PRSSA chapter, and wrote my way through four years of higher education.

Now what?

Well, I’m not exactly sure.

Unlike some of my classmates who have gone right on to jobs, graduate school, or unemployment, I’m continuing with the same old routine. I’m still working part-time at Solid Cactus, freelance writing on the side, and soon, I’ll resume classes to finish up my master’s degree – also from Marywood University. It seems like nothing has changed, though I know it has.

Because of that piece of paper and four years of hard work, joy, and frustration, I now have this magical ticket that will allow for me to better function in the real world. Granted, I’m not sure if this ticket is as cool as the one from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but still, I can dream.

I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, however, I am now more sure than ever that I want to be in communications. I want to be immersed in advertising, public relations, SEO, marketing, social media, and of course, writing. I want to continue to learn and gain more knowledge of the industry. I want to spend my time crafting messages. I want to be challenged.

This feeling that I’m in the right place is quite a relief. Before I graduated, I questioned what I was doing. I thought about changing my major at the last minute, dropping out of graduate school, and running away to Europe. Don’t worry Scranton – I didn’t pack my bags.

I think the panic that I experienced is something that everyone experiences in his or her life at one time or another. For some, upon graduation, that pang of fear and excitement hits you like the train ride to your new job in the city. Or maybe, that rushing burst of anxiety came at a time when you got back a paper only to find that the professor didn’t like your ideas. Try harder next time and oh, by the way, maybe you should reconsider what you’re doing.

Don’t worry. If you haven’t felt it yet, you will and when you do, remember that it’s a confirmation that you’re on the brink of something beautiful. Change is on the way, in some form, and you just need to have faith that you’ll be guided in the right direction. You’ll meet people who will leave handprints on your heart. You’ll see things that you only dreamed of. You’ll experience pain and rapture and all of those other emotions that you’re too afraid to even think of right now.

I know I will.

Congratulations to my fellow classmates. It’s time to enter the chocolate room.

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Graduation

Yep – that time has come.
It’s time for me to graduate.
From now until Sunday, I’ll be running around like mad to finish up everything that needs to be done. Then, on Mother’s Day, I’ll walk across the stage at the Mohegan Sun Arena to receive my ticket into the real world.

Wish me luck!
…and I’ll be back to blog soon.

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