Sunday, July 28, 2013

Social Media "Strategy"

I've heard it said that "If you've got a Twitter account, you are an expert in Social Media." That phrase comes to mind every time someone gives me a Social Media endorsement on LinkedIn.

If I were to utter that aloud in the presence of my friends who work in social media, one of two things would happen.  For some, they'd get a pained look on their face, declare that to be untrue and then pull out their phones and tweet about the injustice, ignoring me for the duration of the conversation. The other half would choke back a laugh and then get a stern look on their face and shush me. I like my social media friends so I'd never say something like that to them. Goodness knows the kinds of things people say about me in my presence when they find out that one of my roles is overseeing a team who sends out emails all day long. (Though the one I remember the most was my first visit to a church after moving to California after college in the mid-90s. They were having a picnic that day so they invited me to stick around for that. They asked what I did and I said I was working for an internet startup. The pastor declared "The internet is all pornography." I didn't say much for the rest of the picnic and did not return to that church.)

Someone recently pointed out that on my Twitter bio I said that I was working in Email and Social Media. Of course, that's not exactly true. While I often quote the line "Email is the grandfather of Social Media and not the grandson of Direct Mail," where I work, email is stuck in sort of a middle, gray area. I adjusted my bio so as not to suggest an area of responsibility that did not exist.

But it's been making me think... do I have a strategy with all this stuff? I guess I do. Maybe? Depends on how generous you want to be with the word "strategy." It's not extremely cohesive, but it all combines to make up my online personality and my brand.
And unfortunately, much like those two ice cream brands that are now just names on a multinational corporation's list, I have two brands that are essentially interchangeable on the internet, but that's just a lesson in planning your branding strategy wisely. I didn't, but then none of us knew what we were doing way back then on the internet.

Two Brands

tvjames (one word, all lowercase) - Originated in the mid-90s when I was working at an internet startup. We'd been commissioned to create the official website for Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TheWB and one of my responsibilities was moderating the message board. I wanted a simple, easy name that would be more distinctive than simply James. There are two others on the internet who have tried to claim this as their username, but in most cases, I've had first-mover advantage. I assume I do have it everywhere, so I'm forever attempting password resets when I'm unable to access a site.

James Lamb - Originated in the mid-70s when I was born. Easy enough. Not as distinctive, there are several other prominent people using the same name, including one now deceased who wrote a popular animal training book and a criminal of the most disgusting type and there's actually a band that shares my name. Of course, I have to be vague lest this blog post tie me to them and undo my effects to promote my distinct brand under my given name.

My efforts the past few years have been to try to join the two brands so often I'll present both brands together whenever possible. Lesson learned.

But do I have a strategy for my use of Social Media? Kinda, but it's come about mostly organic. My blog is probably the hub.

The tvjames / James Lamb ecosystem

Blog - You are here. I enjoy long-form content and have been posting on this blog for years. I post reviews of the books I've read, post introspection about my life, observations and thoughts as a parent of a child with Autism and a child with other special needs and my perpetual failed diet. I also keep track of my attempts to simplify my life and my observations from the work-place and working world. Also funny things I snap with my camera or marketing emails that miss the mark in some way or another. And then also my attempts to hack my chores, interesting articles I have written online or offline. Occasionally something related to my struggles as a Christian. Rarely anything about politics or sports because I have absolutely no tolerance for discussions of either, they both drive me up a wall. There's a rough schedule to what kind of posts appear on what day. Some posts are written in advance and scheduled. I have a few other small blogs not worth mentioning. My blog cross-posts to Facebook and Twitter and Google+. I manually cross-post work-related posts to LinkedIn.

Facebook - My personal, digital connection to my friends, most of whom are also offline friends as well as my family. About 150-160 people whom I have an ongoing connection to. I don't accept friend requests if I don't know you or if something like LinkedIn is a more appropriate place for us to interact. I'm trying to spend less time on Facebook in general these days.

Facebook Page - A once-a-day (at most) run of something funny or profound, sometimes from me and sometimes from others, inspired by the early Conan O'Brien Twitter feed how he'd have just one post each day. I don't know how people find this but it's got a small following and regularly gets likes from random people out on the internet. Note: Not all posts attributed to me will be funny or profound. These are often written in advance and then scheduled. These automatically cross-post to my Twitter feed.

LinkedIn - My digital connection to others as related to my career. I participate in several local and affinity-related groups. I cross-post my work-related blog posts on LinkedIn.

Twitter - Quick hits. That feel like they don't belong anywhere else. I don't really spend much time on here grooming my list or reading what other people have written. I do communicate with people who @mention me unless it's a stupid spammer. Strangely enough, most spammers on Twitter are truly stupid. No attention to detail, no pride in their work. It's amazing people fall for that stuff. I often follow-back when people following me, unless it's obviously just a follow-back follower effort. I have a few other Twitter accounts not worth mentioning.

Flickr - We put copies of all of our pictures here. The ones that contain the faces of our family and friends are all private (ask us for access if you're someone who appear in those photos or are a close family friend) but all the rest we make available for the general public. Most are boring but some have proved pretty popular, especially the ones from the museums that allow pictures to be taken.

Pandora - I'm pretty proud of some of the stations I've cultivated.  "Real Classical Rock" is rock music performed by classical instruments, "2Girls Who Groove" is a great mellow station of only female singers (easiest way to get banned from this station? Be a guy) that I find really good for work.  "Saturday Morning Coffee" is the one I can't live without on Saturday mornings.

MyAutismTeam - I love this site. It actually operates more like I wish Facebook did - you meet interesting people, there's lively conversation and it's all interesting and there are no ads or games. It's not all fun, though, these are people struggling with real issues. I spend a lot of time on this site, time that I would otherwise be spending on Feedly, Gmail and Facebook. I enjoy encouraging others and there's also so few husbands and dads on there that I bring a unique perspective sometimes.

Gmail - My email of choice. I also have accounts on Hotmail and Yahoo, but Gmail is my day-to-day email. I use Mailbox and Mailstrom to keep it in check. I ruthlessly unsubscribe to companies that send too much email, irrelevant email or email that I can't interact with on my iPhone.

I also have accounts with Gravar, Wordpress, Google+, Amazon, Yammer and other sites as a contributor, but none of those are worth mentioning. Especially not Google+. It's just a graveyard of links back to my blog. But then it's not really good for anything.

I am currently using both Vizify and About.me as online cards.

And I use Hootsuite, Buffer, IFTTT and Feedly to tie it all together.

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