When You’re Ready For Your Close-Up, Mr. DeMille

The classic cinematic quote “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille” – taken from the 1950 classic film Sunset Blvd. – can be contextually applied to today’s world of effective marketing.

How? Well, when it comes to marketing – especially when considering all the technological advances we’ve made in 70 years – the real truth is that video is the new black when it comes to getting your message across.

According to oberlo.ca, 87% of marketing professionals use video as one of their tools, and whether they pop up on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or any other social media platform that allows more than just posting a pic, it’s a key way to sell your product or service through your most valuable asset – you.

In the story of the  film, for instance, actress Norma Desmond, a silent film star, realizes she has to adjust to the times in order to continue making an impact in Hollywood and sustaining her own career…so the “Mr. DeMille” character in the film is actually referring to real-life film director Cecil B. DeMille as she tells him she’s ready to move forward.

While everyone else’s situation in marketing isn’t nearly as dire as Desmond’s, the message hammers home a point: life doesn’t stop – and if you snooze, you lose.

Today, in this era where the challenge of making compelling content that will engage and attract new customers, video is becoming more of a necessity than an embellishment.

Personally, I enjoy making videos, even though I started as a writer. One of the reasons I love to communicate via video is because it’s not only a powerful medium, but it gives me the opportunity to show my personality and convey a bit about who I am.” 

And let’s face it: we’re increasingly turning into a visually-stimulated society: The amount of video on all platforms has skyrocketed across the world in the last few years. 

Today, you can barely walk a few steps before your eyes are accosted by video: maybe you’re in the elevator of your apartment, eyes glued to a screen as you’re ascending a floor or two to get home. Or maybe you’re cruising along the highway and a video ad catches your attention just long enough to impart some interesting information. Make no mistake: videos on out-of-home platforms are there for a reason – a video ad is the most popular format these days to attract new clients to your business. Even a restaurant menu these days will give you video options!

Since producing your own videos has never been simpler, thanks to iPhones and TikTok, this “Selfie” generation has practically taken crash courses in capturing, editing and broadcasting videos in order to be hip and keep up socially with their friends.

And that goes the same for business, especially when it comes to creating and distributing data.

Here are a few things that make video content superior:

  1. It controls the online world

By 2016, YouTube – which today boasts 1.8 billion active users –  became the second most dominant and popular social media platform on the internet to employ video. Throw in other major outlets like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, and LinkedIn – which make it easy for videos to be uploaded and shared within the global community through the internet – and your bases are pretty much covered.

  1. It engages the audience in a superior way

When a video is merged with a sound and a visual, the audience is open to receiving a lot more information and engagement from them. Powerful, no?  If the video content and movements are succinct and accurate, viewers are prone to watch them till the end, resulting in better engagement. Organizations are able to use this power to promote their new brands with videos that enhance the image of the new product.

  1. It supplants text-only content

Nowadays, people are choosing videos rather than text-only content, because of the added visual and aural stimulation. Information sources like illustrations, infographics, and podcasts have also been measured against videos. Video may never supplant them, but the medium will keep flourishing as THE MOST powerful form of content in the future.

  1. It promotes shares

Online users today are more keen to share videos than any other content. Videos get more shares than pictures of text content because they are believed to be more socially relevant than images and text. Most people these days have a Snapchat or YouTube presence; through interactive videos, people are able to communicate their interests on a larger scale.

  1. It also conveys non-verbal communication

In delivering a message, body language and vocal tones play an influential role when it comes to perception! Word choice may be crucial when it comes to  text, but visual elements like emojis help to make an emotional connection with viewers. When they watch a video of someone speaking to them directly, they are conveyed a more all-encompassing message, which may hold greater appeal and serve more as a catalyst for them to respond to a call-to-action.

  1. It provides deep and rapid content

Conversely, podcasts usually lack visual aids. Audio combined with a video provides a rapid, sensory message. For example, if a person presents a graph in a  video, the viewer will comprehend the graph much more easily when viewing the visual example than if that graph were presented in a text-only or audio format.

And here’s the beautiful thing: you don’t need to have a huge budget to send out an effective, customized message. 

I recently had a conversation with Ingor van Rooi on my LinkedIn Live show, #ShowUP and we discussed the power of video. Many of us are intimidated by appearing on video because of the fear that our efforts may lack a polish or seem amateurish in comparison with those who may have budgets to provide a slick, professional presentation.

But Ingor pointed out that “as long as we’re authentic and show up as our real selves, we’ll be fine. Everyone is their own individual and everyone’s journey is different.”

If you believe in your message, your product and/or your service, your passion and authenticity will shine through the camera lens and mesmerize your viewers.

So….Mr. DeMille be damned: are you ready for your close-up?

A Guide to How Manufacturers Can Show UP in the Digital Space

I had the privilege to be a guest on Lori Highby’s podcast, Social Capital, recently. We spoke about “How Manufacturers Can Show Up In The Digital Space”.

Something I am known for is curiosity – which is the foundation for much of the work I do. When Lori asked me about why curiosity is so important to me, I explained that curiosity is a tool that has enabled me to learn and grow. I’m on my 5th career and curiosity has definitely served me well in developing new skills and exploring different fields!

I encourage others to use it, especially my current clients who are mainly in the manufacturing world. I want them to be curious about marketing, outreach and how they can make a change from the traditional trade shows. The pandemic has changed the way we do things, but we must view it as a disruption, not an interruption. 

We’re not going to go back to the way it was; our world has changed!  Even if we go back to live or in-person events, there’s still going to be a digital component. 

Curiosity is like a muscle, if you’re not using it, it just won’t grow! It’s all about growing, learning, and exploring the virtual world which may seem overwhelming to some, even a bit scary. That’s why I say that if you’re curious, you can learn so many new things, and become more adept at how to use all these virtual technologies!

Here are two tips to help salespeople in manufacturing industry  – although it really can apply to other businesses, fundraising, recruiting and well, life in general! 

  1. Ask those questions and do your research: learn about who your clients are and what they’re looking for before trying to sell to them. What’s happening is those same clients are doing that with you. Know that they’re doing research about your company; looking at your social media and websites because they want to know who you are before they’re even going to think about buying from you. As a salesperson, you need to do the same thing. Dig in, find out who they are as much as possible. There’s a lot of information you can find online about someone. I’ve had some salespeople  feel uncomfortable with this, but I say, “In this world, if someone posts something publicly, like on a social media platform, it is done because they want to share something.” 

      2. Instead of selling, be generous with your information, share your knowledge, try to be a guide to who you’re trying to sell to. So if you’re in an engineering role, as a salesperson, you want to share all the intricacies of what goes into solving problems for your prospects. Give your prospective client (the person looking at your profile) some insights. 

 

One of the big stop-gaps for a lot of the people in manufacturing sales is they assume that people already know things. My response to that is, “You’d be surprised at what people may want to learn about, and the people that may be doing the research aren’t always the people that know about how that tool works, or what machine is on that tool. 

 

So be that guide, share information, and also share a bit of information about yourself. For instance, I may post something related to cycling because that is something I do. So you need to focus on what are some of the interests you have that might relate to your industry role. We know when it comes to connecting with people, if you have a common interest it can be beneficial to building a rapport. 

I make the correlation back to trade shows –  when they would have those casual conversations. It’s about taking those casual conversations in real life and bringing them over to the virtual world.

 Something else Lori and I spoke about is the resistance that exists to virtual networking, especially in the manufacturing space.

This is something I’ve  been studying in the manufacturing sector. 

And here are some observations: 

  • A lack of understanding of how social media works. So,we need to do better in how we’re explaining this brave new world!  
  • Fear of the unknown also contributes to this and most people naturally don’t like change. It’s like those comfortable shoes, right? You get into this comfortable lifestyle and then if someone comes along and says “Let’s change,” sometimes we resist. 

Solutions aren’t easy.  Not everyone embraces change so this is where curiosity is that muscle that needs to be exercised.  The more you’re learning, the more you’re asking questions. Without fail, you will overcome some of those fears! 

We fear things we don’t know or understand.

We often need to get to where we can show up and trust in the process.  Mindset is a  big part of overcoming those fears.  Without an  open mind, you’re probably going to have some difficulties. 

We all do some things we don’t want to do because there is a reward at the end. 

The reward in embracing digital is that there are opportunities to make connections and get leads that one day could lead to a sale. 

Sometimes you’ve GOT to do things you don’t want to do to achieve a longer term goal. 

 

To hear the live interview, follow this link: 

https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/1190946225/social-capital/311-how-manufacturers-can-show-up-in-the-digital-space-with-gail-robertson

Where the Magic Happens

Just. Show. Up.

It is a term I heard during an online session with the amazing Maiko Saiko.    She talked about the power of showing up:  if you do that,  you are already making progress.

When we show up, sometimes we can meet and connect to amazing people.  We can learn new things.  We can build a network.

It also takes an open mindset and the willingness to ask what we think are “dumb” questions and frankly, to appear vulnerable.

To me,  “Just Show Up” – like the Nike catchphrase “Just Do It” – holds great power.

There is an oft-quoted phrase that says 80% of success in life is just showing up…that it can lead to success and become a powerful habit.

Many articles have been written on this topic, but here is how “showing up” has made a difference to me:

  • Met incredibly interesting people
  • Learned something new
  • Rewarded by helping others when I’ve least expected it
  • Improved my physical and mental health

Curiosity has been a tool that I use as a catalyst to show up!

I love to meet new people and learn new things, so curiosity helps push me into… showing up.

Asking questions and being willing to admit that you don’t have the answers is so powerful, especially since it reveals a willingness and an openness to learn.

I have been a journalist, a Bed and Breakfast owner, a fundraiser and a marketing manager in the insurance and tech spaces. Today, I’m Chief Curiosity Officer at GailNow – with a focus in manufacturing and marketing and an additional niche in moldmaking and cutting tools.

Talk about a learning curve!  I had no idea what a moldmaker did. I was also totally confused for about a year about the difference between a moldmaker and a molder.

So, I asked a lot of questions…read industry magazines… watched YouTube videos… spent  time on shop floors and…I did that by showing up.

I have a long list of examples of showing up, from covering Jr. B Hockey in high school when I knew nothing about hockey; to meeting author Bryce Courtenay in Australia by cold-calling his office to get a book signed; to landing jobs and clients without going the typical routes of applying for a position or advertising.

The lesson: when we show up,  we’ve already conquered half the battle.

Showing up does not mean “pitch slapping” –  where you send a connection to someone on LinkedIn and then pitch them without ever bothering to first build a relationship.  It also doesn’t mean creating a social media profile and having a one-way conversation.  Yes, you need to post – but you also need to engage, connect, be an active listener and participate.

As a beta tester in TwitterSpaces, I first arrived on the platform as a listener.  Then, once I surveyed the lay of the land,  I started speaking.  By showing up and observing, soon I was meeting people, connecting with them and best of all, learning.

Twitter is my main platform because I have found that it is the perfect place for me – for my business and for my personality.

When I showed up, the magic happened.

And the magic is your reward when you Just Show Up.

 

 

 

Storytelling: secret to business success

Once upon a time … 

A start to a story.  A beginning. Often involving a reflection back in time. 

We know fairytales and fables are often the basis of stories we continue to tell among friends, co-workers, peers and now in blogs, on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok and a multitude of other social media platforms. 

Aesop lived in the 500s B.C., but his stories were remembered for thousands of years without a single shred of paper or other printed material.

Now THAT is the power of storytelling. 

Oral storytelling was and is powerful.  Aesop’s tales are so well remembered, that even 300 years after his death the stories became part of a mass production of storybooks. 

According to blogger, entrepreneur and publisher Tom Corson-Knowles, stories are central to human cognition and communication. “We engage with others through stories, and storytelling is a lot more than just a recitation of facts and events.

As human beings, we are automatically drawn to stories because we see ourselves reflected in them.

We inevitably interpret the meaning in stories and understand ourselves better.

But we now live in the fast-paced information age, where information, concepts, and ideas continuously bombard us from every direction. Do stories really matter to us anymore?”

Well, as a matter of fact… Yes, they do. 

 There’s something about a story – the compelling scenarios, the vivid descriptions – that fire up and fuel our imaginations.

We probably don’t understand how impactful the art of storytelling is, but to put into context, we carried that concept with us even when we played with our toys. 

I remember playing with my Barbies when I was a little girl, and making up all sorts of situations of the mostly female community – Barbie  and Midge – Barbie’s best friend – were the leaders and then Ken was also showing up and causing a bit of a stir!  I still have my Barbies – and oh, if they could talk, I am sure some fascinating stories of young Gail’s vision of the world would be entertaining. They definitely shaped a great part of my younger years  and certainly played a part in my love of storytelling to this day.  

Maybe you found  stories in  early Marvel and D.C. Comic books with Superman, Batman and Spiderman and ran through brave, protectionist fantasies where they were the defender of good vs. evil, where they walked in the shoes of their heroes, albeit temporarily.

Sure, it was fiction…but what good idea hasn’t started with someone’s imagination and evolved from the intangible to the tangible?

Just as stories serve as great connectors, giving you the tools to make friends, they can make  life intriguing, interesting and even magical. 

Great storytelling allows us to relate to others – and depending on the circumstance, triggers our emotions for good or bad.

According to Harvard Business,  researchers have found that stimulating the mind with great tales creates a chemical reaction within the brain, releasing such memory stimulants as cortisol (which allows us to recall and recollect); dopamine (which is linked to our passion and keeps us focused)   and oxytocin, which is a sympathy catalyst – and a significant component in building, developing and retaining connections.

Telling the right story can be instrumental to your business’s success.

In this year of COVID, 2021, where direct and intimate social interaction is frowned upon – at least until all the vaccinations have been distributed and administered – the idea of sharing stories over a coffee, a beer or on a convention floor is being replaced by the newest group of tools – social media.

And there is more power there than you might realize, whether it’s being texted, tweeted, posted or communicated by video. 

The beauty of the internet is that – quite literally – the world is your oyster. There are few barriers stopping someone from Germany or Ireland stumbling across your message – and the ripple effect can be powerful.. If you don’t end up with a larger audience that you intended, you’ve at least been given the access to reach one – and what you do with it is up to you, in terms of the impact you’d like to make. 

On Virtual Speech blog, writer Sophje Thompson (https://virtualspeech.com/blog/importance-storytelling-business ) gives examples of how telling stories helps sell a brand.   Think Apple, Spanx and Microsoft.« Using storytelling in this way helps the audience to connect with you so they trust you, the human, and therefore they trust the brand. This is especially the case when the story is very relatable, which also has the added benefit of being easier to understand and more memorable as it’s personally relevant – the audience can see themselves as the character in the story. »

Stories matter.   They have the power to go far beyond charts,stats and data.  

“Tell a good story so you show your company’s personality and humanity – don’t just become a faceless company that consumers feel unconnected from and uninspired to interact with and buy from,”writes Thompson

And sometimes a story can take on a life of its own. A really recent example happened during the U.S. election.  As we all know, U.S. President Donald Trump lost the recent election to now U.S President Joe Biden. There was some real concern that the Jan 20 inauguration ceremony might be a repeat of the January 6 attack on the Capitol in Washington, but luckily, cooler heads prevailed.

And what was the most lasting impression taken from that peaceful swearing-in of Joe Biden? You might say 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman’s inspiring poem – and to be sure, she certainly got her fair share of attention.

But even bigger was the unlikely photo of Democratic Senator – and one-time Presidential hopeful – Bernie Sanders, sitting in a chair with legs crossed, masked up and wearing a pair of mittens. 

Now, chances are that if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik-Tok, Reddit or any other platform, you’ve seen one of the endless variety of memes that have depicted Sanders in every situation imaginable – and a few probably unimaginable – as good-natured affection has made him the most popular person on the planet – at least for a few days following the inauguration.

That, my friends, is the power of social media – and if you can capture that type of lightning in a bottle, which is difficult – but not impossible to do – you can command similar attention to your product and business.

And the best tool to achieve this? 

Storytelling.

Because it is so personal, because it is so relatable, because it is so resonant, storytelling is your secret sauce for success.

It’s more meaningful to put a face or a name to a narrative or an anecdote than just rattle off statistics. A good story is memorable and retainable, plucking the heartstrings and encouraging people to react and participate, appealing to the human within.

As much as logic may dictate action, it’s often emotion that persuades people to act. People  can personalize and adapt the story to their own needs and interpretations, and perhaps rekindle an emotion that they had forgotten.

The audience feels the story – and are more likely to remember the message because they feel it. The best story persuades the rational brain but resonates with the emotional.

Take for example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – do you remember that one? It began back in 2014 in an effort to raise awareness and funds for those inflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. 

The challenge was simple – dump a bucket of ice-cold water over your head, challenge three more people to do it and make a donation to the ALS Association.

If you recall, this campaign caught fire on Facebook, Twitter  and YouTube as celebrities ranging from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey to Rihanna and Tom Cruise all took the challenge.

You want some harder figures?  According to Semrush.com, 1.2 million videos of people dousing themselves with ice water  were posted on Facebook, with 15 million more people reacting with a like or a comment or a post. Also, there were 2.2 million mentions of it on Twitter.

But how truly effective was it? 

In just eight weeks, 17 million people rose to the challenge and raised $115 million dollars U.S. for the ALS Association. 

Eight weeks!

Why was it so effective? 

It was a fun challenge and for a good cause, requiring very little effort or time.

If you want a practical application to a piece of merchandise, look no further than Roman Originals. You may not be aware of the name, but remember the blue dress vs. yellow dress debate from a few years ago?

It grew from a wedding photo posted online, where people had trouble telling the colour of a dress that a woman was wearing as she stood beside the bride.  According to Hubspot, the U.K.-based retail was hoping to sell 200 dresses a week based on the campaign.

Instead, they sold 3,000 dresses in 10 days!

Everyone became intrigued by the debate of dress colour and engaged through social media to the point where the campaign became an astronomical success.

If you can engage your audience properly, hopefully the results are organic.

Those are just a few examples of stories that benefited their marketers, because it involved and engaged them.

And if you do it right, similar results can be the happily-ever-after for your product.

So….

What is your story?

What’s Your Biscuit? The Power of Story

“What’s your biscuit?”

This may seem like an unusual question when talking about social media, but please take a moment to read about my tale and the connection between biscuit and the power of a good story will all become clear before too long.

For most people, the concept of “home” is one of comfort.  If you were lucky enough to have a decent childhood and a caring parent,  it is an easy memory to conjure up.  But even if you didn’t there is something about  safety and security that can be translated in the form of something home-cooked.

If we were really fortunate, our parents would pass down certain things to us, including recipes that might possess a little of that heartwarming magic and allow us to fondly remember them as we grew through the years.

For me, one of my most treasured memories is my mom’s homemade biscuits, which I refer to in my recipe file as Grandma Joyce’s Biscuits.  I only came to realize their additional importance and value as an adult. 

Those biscuits were made with great love by my mom. In turn, I have very happy memories of her making them and myself , family and my friends eating them! 

They soon proved to be an unforgettable calling card. 

For a few years, earlier in my life, I ran a bed and breakfast and my “Gail’s Famous Homemade Biscuits” were a star attraction.

Although I’ve moved on professionally from my B&B days, that biscuit story is a staple of some of my workshops when training groups, individuals and clients.  

You see, those biscuits were more than flour, shortening and buttermilk – they elicited memories, emotions and many stories of a bygone era.   

Those biscuits were part of my lifelong narrative and in turn they became an integral part of my brand identity when I ran  my Pelee Island bed and breakfast during my post journalism days. 

With great passion and confidence, I branded them as Gail’s Famous Homemade Biscuits.

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They were a talking point – a conversation piece- and a part of my story as a proprietor of a century-old rustic home in the middle of Lake Erie.   People would return annually and often ask if the famous biscuits would be served.

That was a given: You see – they were now a part of my B and B brand, both as my Twin Oaks Bed and Breakfast and as Gail, the proprietor who greeted guests and welcomed them to homemade breakfasts featuring my biscuits.  Every morning.  

Today, I bring biscuits to client meetings as they not only make an impression but I can show – not just tell – how the power of a good story makes a difference to a business and a brand.  

And let me tell you, due to this small gesture on my part, I’m not easily forgotten. People who have sampled them not only enjoy them – but leave with a story to tell.  A personal story that no one else can replicate because it is indeed unique to me, yet relatable to them. 

To quote Dr. Seuss: 

“Today you are you,

 That is truer than true.

 There is no one alive

 Who is Youer than You.”

But there is more to this story beyond my self promotion of biscuits.  

The point is all the warm and fuzzies generated by this action of mine is something that can be extended to social media when you make a connection.

When we’re reaching out to potential contacts, people that will hopefully become future allies in your professional network, how you approach them is just as important as why you approach them. 

If you just reach out to them out of the blue, without a proper introduction – or if you want to sell or exploit them for something without investing time in nurturing the relationship – it can have a disastrous result. 

So this is where the concept of the “warm biscuit” comes in handy. 

Unlike the many cookies you tend to receive from websites you visit – individual trackers that contains no nutritional value except for those merchants interested in learning your buying habits – the “warm biscuit” you should employ comes in the form of a story,  a comment and eventually a post where you share something about yourself that displays your humanity and evokes an emotional response from your target audience. It’s something that usually doesn’t include any hint of a sales pitch whatsoever.

When you first reach out to someone, don’t try to “sell” them on anything.  Send them a compliment. Ask if you can follow them.  Learn about their interests and what they have to offer.  Maybe send them an occasional email about something you think they’re interested in.

In other words, get to know them prior to pitching them.  And in fact, maybe  just leave the pitch aside until they ask you for information.  

By telling the right story and creating organic interest, you’re providing more than just information: you’re offering an experience that reveals your philosophy and culture.

And authenticity is the key. According to Oberlo.com, 86% say that authenticity is an integral factor in deciding and supporting a particular brand.

So, think about your own biscuit story – what is it that you are passionate about, that is distinctly natural and something that will draw people to you – something you can celebrate without selling and give rather than take.

The thing that makes you “youer than you.”  

There is no substitute for warmth…so, I ask you again – “What’s your biscuit story ?”

Come up with the right one and who knows…you may even earn a lifelong friend out of the deal.

WHY CONNECTIONS MATTER

Phone, text, email, Twitter – this is how we communicate daily.

You can also throw Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and Linked in into the equation.

And sometimes we even talk – gasp –  in person. 

Communication is natural.

Even before COVID-19 struck, social media platforms had taken on increased meaning in peoples’ lives. So when the pandemic enforced us to self-regulate our in-person contact with others for the sake of our health, we still had options to connect.

I am not downplaying theneed for  personal contact  – I consider it vital – but thank goodness the online world is providing some alternatives.

And even though communication has “shifted” in terms of execution with all these new variables, one unflappable constant remains:

Connections matter.

And keeping them up can be crucial for your wellbeing.

A 2019 Harvard’s Women’s Health article entitled, “The health benefits of strong relationships” states: “Good connections and social support can improve health and increase longevity.” 

The article referred to the commission of a substantial Swedish study involving people aged 75 and over. Those who enjoyed a variety of satisfying contact with friends and relatives were deemeda lower risk for experiencing dementia than those that didn’t.

Obviously, the social aspect of communication and connection is a healthy norm in any community.

But connections – especially in these technologically advanced times –  can be developed in different ways. 

If we don’t adapt, we perish!

Connections and Business Brands and Management

Brand engagement is all about connection.  We share, we recommend and we encourage others to use the brands that we connect with. 

And worth-of-mouth is still the most organic and natural form of information we employ, albeit casually: a 2013 brand engagement survey by Gensler reveals that  94% of respondents said they are very likely to recommend their favorite brand to loved ones.

Referralrock.com states that consumers casually discuss specific brands up to 90 times per week, whether over coffee, attending a sports event or even a family picnic.

The level of trust between a person and someone they know is also integral: 88% of consumers place the highest level of reliability from such word-of-mouth recommendations. (https://www.invespcro.com/, 2016)

While research from Nielsen and Edelman shows that barely half of all consumers trust businesses globally, 83 percent of Americans trust recommendations from friends and family. (Jay Baer, convinceandconvert.com)

So, logically, one can conclude that people-trusted brands are endorsed by family, friends, and associates of the consumers that buy – or buy into – them. Some are passionate to the point of evangelism when they believe or pontificate about their latest favourite product or service.

And it gets extremely personal: 51% of them said they are willing to wear a brand’s logo or emblem on their clothing and 29% of the respondents proudly do.

The personal connection between consumers or employees can either make – or break – a brand: a rags-to-riches scenario that can easily reverse into riches-to-rags if the wrong message is communicated.

Reputation is everything: That’s why connecting with your consumers or employees is so important.

True engagement is often more emotional than we realize. Companies may create brands, but it’s people that breathe life into them and sustain them. Connecting to consumers through engagement and communication is key to brand survival and prosperity.

Connections and Mental Health

As much as communication connection is good for business, we mustn’t lose sight of how important it is in terms of maintaining our own health and welfare: physically and mentally.

As our current reality shows no signs of abating in our immediate future, it serves as a good reminder that we need to check in on our loved ones and those around us. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize how acutely the Pandemic has heightened the severity of loneliness and isolation in 2020.  But it also amplifies just how important social interaction was prior to the arrival of COVID-19.

According to research from The Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, “Social connectedness was found to be a stronger and more consistent predictor of mental health year-on-year than mental health was of social connectedness.”

“The dominant public health and epidemiological perspective on social connectedness is that it is a resource (a form of capital) that an individual can draw upon in times of need, and which will protect their mental health,” the study suggests.

The underlying message? Being able to convey our feelings and sharing our thoughts to the community will help lighten the burden shouldered by our mental health. Knowing that one is not alone in this fight; that empathy and sympathy are just a conversation, phone call or text message away, creates a healing connection that helps cushion the mental well-being of the one that is struggling.

CONNECTION AND TECHNOLOGY

As the current pandemic persists, physical distancing has been difficult for many who crave connection.  We like to be close to the people important to us. We eat together, dance together, drink together. We like doing the things we love with the people around us. But at this time, we are forced to stay away from them for both our sakes. Thus, that craving is drastically increased – especially when it comes to the people who are part of our daily lives. 

But the sad truth is evident: for now, we must find other ways to connect.  

Stephen Benning, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, suggests Skype or other video messaging as a convenient and easy way  to see and hear from people who are important to us. An old-fashioned phone call will let you maintain vocal connection, and your favorite social media site’s messaging app will let you keep an individual or group dialog going. 

“It is  OK to share your anxieties and fears,” Benning counsels.  Validating (the fact ) that other people are concerned or even scared can help them feel like they are grounded in reality.” 

The term “safety in numbers” has never seemed or felt more appropriate. Whether we wish to build our brand or ensure that our society is coping with the mental anguish that accompanies an unprecedented crisis like a pandemic, connection is the key to hope and survival.

Remember: We are only as safe as our most vulnerable.  

How To Connect To The World

My Twitter love affair started over an Apple Watch.  I was off to a convention for the 8th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Orlando, Florida in 2015.   

I had under 100 followers on Twitter and I mostly lurked in the shadows; some say stalking but I prefer observing. 

I stepped on to the convention floor and heard about this contest to win an Apple Watch:  whoever had the most tweets, the most social media activity would win the watch. 3,000 people at this conference. What are the chances, I thought.  Then I looked around as I stood there in my long red evening gown dressed up as a “Bond Woman” for our 007 themed booth and thought: well I’ve come this far, what are a few tweets, tags and hashtags.  Oh and a snake.  I posed with a snake too!  

Images get a a lot of engagement; if it was 2020 I would have for sure posted a video!

Gail in red dress with snake at Convention
GailNow striking at pose at HealthCare Conference

It was my first connection to the power of social media directly related to work; the power of connecting both virtually and in person. As I look back I realize it launched my GailNow brand at an international level!  

At this same conference I heard David Meerman Scott speak and met him via a Selfie.  I followed him – and he followed me back!

Recently I heard him on a the Creative Warrior podcast with Jeffrey Shaw (@jeffreyshaw1 ) so I retweeted that selfie  from 5 years ago. He responded:  “Wow! Great memories. I can’t remember the last time I wore a tie. Glad Jeffrey reconnected us.”

Then Jeffrey responded with: Glad you were able to meet DM Scott! One of my favorite authors.

David Meerman Scott in the early days of a GailNow:  Selfie at Healthcare Congress circa 2015!

This small exchange is why I love Twitter. There are connections made that don’t happen in the same way on other platforms.

When I started my consulting business in 2018 I opted to use GailNow as my business name since I had built up the brand on Twitter.  I credit Twitter with helping me make connections and develop a brand. Twitter fits in well with my diversity of interests, my love of networking and I can be both serious and fun. As a keynote speaker I also talk about the power of connecting. Oh, and curiosity to help with marketing in sales and recruiting. 

(And yes, I did get that Apple Watch.) 

I was a late comer to Twitter. It launched in 2006.  I had only been just figuring out Facebook. For networking, it’s nowhere near the same league as Twitter. 

Facebook is for people you know but Twitter is about connecting to new people, reading interesting commentary, participating in Twitter chats and meeting people I might never cross paths with otherwise. 

“330 million active monthly users in Q1 2019, but Twitter has switched to reporting ‘monetizable daily users’, of which there were 145 million in Q3 2019” – Read More.

Twitter has high value for connecting different types of audiences every day.  It can help tell a brand story AND connect you to people you might never thought possible.  

Ricky Gervais has liked a few of my tweets.  I am a big fan and now even bigger one. I tweeted a video message to him that as of July 2020 had 1,986 views; 14,960 impressions and 163 engagements. (He has over 14 Million followers, does regular live events on Twitter and just “gets” Twitter! It is a very powerful platform to achieve a wide range of goals if you know how to maximize and use it wisely.  Twitter can get you results – but first you need to build relationships.  

How Twitter can connect your brand to an audience 

93% of Twitter community members are open to brands getting involved, if done so in the right way  according to Omnicore Agency.

67 percent of all B2B businesses are using Twitter as a digital marketing tool (Statista, 2018). And 85% of small and medium business users use Twitter to provide customer service.

The effects of social media opened the door to brands communicating directly with consumers – making the customer service relationship more direct and appearing sincere. Clients can already express their thoughts and feelings to different brands and with each other.

Blog.twitter.com says 77 percent of Twitter users have a better impression of a brand when they respond to a tweet.

Six out of ten users expect a brand to respond to any customer service requests within one hour. The last two years have seen a 2.5x increase in customer service conversations on Twitter.  Companies using Twitter for customer service see a 19% lift in customer satisfaction.

I have personally contacted brands via a private Direct Message (make sure to have that envelope on your profile) and I have had issues addressed and resolved.One company even sent me two large bags of coffee when I reached out about a problem with a purchase of coffee beans.  

So kudos to Lavazza Coffee   Interestingly the issue started on Twitter, went over to email and a further conversation developed with the Director of Customer Logistics and Technical Services for  North America, Chris Milano. Well done Lavazza, well done.  

I have met new people, shared insider info and certainly developed some long standing connections that moved to LinkedIn, email, phone and Zoom. The networking opportunities on Twitter are exceptional.  

It has become essential for brands to properly engage clients, and future clients.  And also to connect to people who can introduce you to their circle. 

Often in my work in sales and recruiting there is an urgency for immediate results —  for the quick sale, the quick hire. But people aren’t always wanting to buy that way or even accept a job like that.They want to first build a relationship and in fact, studies show people buy from people they like and know. Word of mouth advertising is phenomenally successful. Check out Jay Baer.  

Ditto for hiring: people want to know about company culture, benefits and not only money or a job description. Twitter offers an opportunity to build rapport, to connect to people beyond the hard sell or hanging out a “We’re Hiring” sign. It is all about sharing stories and finding ways to connect. 

Know how to use Twitter to open doors – build relationships – and you too may find the magic of Twitter.  

There are 500 million Tweets sent each day, making it 8,414 Tweets every second. (market.us, 2020) and generates +31% higher emotional connection and +28% higher levels of memorability versus the social media average, according to brandwatch.com in 2019.  So, connecting with each other is not so rare in Twitter where audiences can form communities and interact with each other via  similar interests. 

Some of the people I have met on Twitter have transformed my world.  People like  Madalyn Sklar, Nathalie Gregg,  Kristin Smedley 

I appreciate what they share on Twitter  and as a consultant and keynote speaker, I often reference what I learned from them.  

After meeting Kristen via Twitter I was invited as a guest on her Facebook Live! We continue to keep in touch – all from a Twitter connection. And a Twitter Chat!

According to Madeleine Mason a psychologist and director of dating and relationship advice company PassionSmiths said Twitter connections account for similarity (you follow people you feel you have something similar with), proximity (Twitter gives a virtual sense of proximity if you tweet enough times and ‘bump into each other’), and when you go to DMs, you then start reciprocating one another’s ‘bids’ for communication. Before long a deeper connection ensues. (Metro.co.uk, 2017)

Some people connect on Twitter, then become friends in real life. Nikhil Krishnan, Senior analyst in CB Insights said “The new people I meet, about half of them I first connect with on Twitter. I make a point to get a coffee or a meal with someone new from Twitter once a week, and Twitter has also become my primary way of finding interesting things to read. Twitter is unique among social networks in that you don’t bring your existing connections with you onto the platform. Because of this, Twitter is much more focused on people’s ideas, while other social networks are more focused on personal life updates from friends,” in an article on qz.com. 

And others meet on Twitter then date after. The hashtag #WeMetOnTwitter, has been used 500 times (stat as of 2017) in Twitter posts according to the social media tracking tool Keyhole. I do not use Twitter for dating but apparently it’s a thing. Maybe a future blog! Maybe a future… date!  

Twitter is a powerful tool in connecting with each other:  one like, retweet, comment and you are  connected with someone’s  thoughts;  maybe  even meet a friend or future client. 

How to harness the power of Twitter 

One of the powers of Twitter is the ability to obtain essential information directly from users. 71% of Twitter users say they use the network to get their news.  Journalists make up 24.6% of verified accounts, according to BrandWatch. This makes Twitter one of the most powerful platforms of connection and information. 

Getting  first-hand information is important to people. It is even the choice of the platform of world leaders, where 83% of them have official accounts  giving direct opinions on things and events.

It is powerful: information travels fast and can educate, inspire, motivate and bring people together from around the world. You can use hashtags, twitter chats, video, Direct Messaging. 

If you want to learn more about Twitter there are many free resources, many people willing to help. Many of us are more akin to Twitter Evangelists.  We want to encourage more people to join, to connect and to realize the power of Twitter. There is much info online – and here is one person I can recommend for her knowledge, her generosity of spirit and she is so willing to help and she has a most amazing Twitter Chat every Thursday at 1 p.m. called #TwitterSmarter. (Ask me if you want to know more) 

www.madalynsklar.com 

Make sure to say hello to me on Twitter, mention this blog and share your Twitter experiences.   

You can connect to the world!

How I Overcame My Fear to Launch a Blog

I am a recovering journalist – a term I coined back in my fundraising days.  It got a few laughs. I said I was going through the 12-step program and had to make amends; hence why I was a fundraiser. I had no experience as a fundraiser but I did know how to research, how to write, how to achieve goals  and how to pick up the phone and make a call to get an interview.  

I knew how to start and finish.

Yet starting a blog seemed daunting.

What would I write about? What if I made mistakes? What if it sounded silly? Was it going to be SEO ready? 

Wait… What?  

I post on social media all the time. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes not.  Sometimes it’s funny and other times serious. I make mistakes. I’m human. I appreciate the humanity of others; When they slip, when they aren’t perfect and when they are willing to own those imperfections. We are never alone in our failings! 

When I jumped into Twitter – it was also daunting. I had been a lurker for quite a while, just watching from the sidelines .Then I jumped in at a convention where I had the chance to win an Apple Watch. Game on! Soon I was tweeting, retweeting and yes, I did get my first Apple Watch thanks to that convention competition. It also launched my GailNow brand. 

Today I use Twitter every day. In fact I love the platform. It has connected me to some phenomenal people, ideas and learning. It is a big part of my business success too. All because I started.  

I also thought blogs were passe. They are not:

  • 21.1 billion WordPress posts every month.  
  • 80% of internet users regularly read blog posts.  
  • A majority of consumers feel a blog adds credibility to a website 
  • Marketers who focus on blogging are 1300% more likely to see positive ROI (From www.bloggingbrute.com)

Next: What to include in my blog? 

I’m seldom at a loss for words, ideas, thoughts. I love… LOVE to research, I am naturally curious and yes, it’s a habit I do practice regularly.

I post daily on Twitter as @GailNow  and content development is what I encourage in my clients. Content on social media you don’t own – but you do once it’s on your website. 

Even now I am second guessing myself and thinking I may delay the launch of this blog. Yet what I have told clients and friends: perfection is indeed the enemy of good. I am not heavily editing this blog so there will be errors. I will likely cringe at this one day. 

Yet my track record of who hired me, who booked me to speak, and who asked me to help them on a project – this blog is a way to share the process. To acknowledge imperfections but also pull back the curtain. We all agonize way too much when in fact, we connect to people best when we aren’t “on” all the time. 

I am diverse in my interests and my skills. I love to learn.  I have done talks on curiosity, networking, and even the branding of Robert Burns. 

I was asked to give the Immortal Memory at a Burns Supper so I lept into action, researching about Burns and came across renowned Burns scholar, Murray Pittock.  I contacted him on Twitter and soon we were chatting away on Skype.  Not only was he a Burns expert but he also had just completed a brand study on the value of the Burns brand ( a future blog as this story continues to fascinate me) 

There are indeed wonderful things that can happen when we take action.  When we decide to let go of perfection, get curious and even get outside our comfort zones.  And then we make connections and create stories.   The power of a story to help us learn, connect and build a brand.  

So welcome to the GailNow blog. Now is the time to live, to laugh- maybe even cry at times.

To succeed you must take risks and being willing to fail.

There are people who know more than me and people who know less.  I have many ideas for blog topics.  If I need tips for SEO, headline writing, structure, calendar planning there are amazing people on Twitter that I have found who share in their knowledge. Neil Patel has done a top level job of sharing so much.  Thank you Neil.

Another is fellow redhead – Rachel Thompson – aka @badredheadmedia And another blogging brute -literally is Mike Alton aka as @bloggingbrute or @mikealton 

Now is the time to start. So let the blogging games begin! So how did I overcome my fear of starting a blog? I just did it! And I realized whenever I have success it always starts with a first step. 

To quote David Perell who I also first met on Twitter:

“Writing becomes a lot easier once you realize people only remember your best work.”

And if you are inspired to learned more, sign up for the GailNow newsletter. 

Email me at gail@gailnow.com with any questions!