Archive for the ‘Online Presence’ Category


January 26, 2011 Leave a comment

"Me in the Mirror" by johnny z.

On a daily basis, I use a desktop application called TweetDeck to check out my twitter account.  In addition to seeing what is being said by those I “follow“, I’ve also setup keyword searches for my organization, the associations I’m apart of, as well as conferences/seminars I have or will be attending.  In addition to seeing what people are tweeting, the application shows me the pictures of the tweeters (assuming they’ve posted one).  I’ve been struck over the last several days how odd some of these pictures are.  The composition of these pictures run the gantlet from furry animals, self-portraits in the mirror (flash optional), pictures of cartoon, sports, or music icons, or my favorite the photo where someone else has been cropped out.  While I’m well aware that most individuals aren’t thinking about self promotion or how these images are impacting their professional aspirations, I can’t help but wonder why would they choose these images.

Almost ten years ago, the creative services department for my organization arranged for professional headshots be taken for all employees.  The vast majority of the workforce was surprised by this effort, and many question the intent for the headshot.  The director of marketing, at the time, explained that they wanted headshots to share with media outlets and the company’s own website when a story ran that referenced employees.

To day, headshots are more widely used than just for celebrities and aspiring theater majors.  According to Miles Austin, in an article titled “You Need a Headshot If You Want to Make an Impact”, one recruiting outfit he interviewed indicated that “a 70% increase in response rates after a photo is added to a profile.”  Apparently the mediums leveraging headshots today are those of social media.  Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc, all have the feature to add a photo.  The question is which photo to choose.  The answer for those who leverage social sites for professional purposes is simply a headshot. This sentiment is echoed by Adam Koller with Marah Creative, in a blog post entitled “if you are in business, you need a good headshot.”  Adam states, “If you are a professional anything, you need to have a quality photo that represents you and your brand” (emphasis mine).

But the reality is that good headshots aren’t cheap and the process can be lengthy.  First you schedule a sitting, then you grab your choices of clothing, and on the day of the shoot you spend 60 to 90 minutes, dropping between $200 to $450 for the session.  Then you wait for a couple of weeks while the photographer works his post-production magic to “retouch” the pictures.  So many of us on the frugal side of things opt for the DIY (Do it Yourself) Headshot task.  But are we taking the time to really do it justice.  No the quality won’t be professional, by it shouldn’t be amateur either.

Nancy S. Juetten, with Nancy S. Juetten Marketing Inc, offers the following advice in an article entitled, “Self-Marketing Tip: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot with a Do-It-Yourself Headshot.”

  • pay attention to lighting
  • use a neutral colored background (be at least 3 feet from the background, preferably 6 feet)
  • makeup should be, and use more blush than usual as not to appear too washed out
  • hair should be neatly styled
  • Clothing should be timeless with solid, medium to dark,  business attire
  • Posing should be set so your body is away from the camera with your head turned to look into the lens, arching your back and with your shoulders back as well
  • Framing is critical, from the breast plate up, capturing a couple of inches of background above the subject and wide enough to include the shoulders

While these recommendations may not capture your zany side, with bold prints and shaggy scruff, the question is whether it captures who you are as a professional.  The reality for me is that I’m not a professional photographer, but I’ve spoken enough at conferences and had sufficient requests for a photo during interviews, that I wish I had one headshot at the ready that not only could I provide it when asked, but that I could use with the various online social sites.



Online Social Presence … Multi-Dimensional

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment


To conclude my series of posts on the topic of having an Online Social Presence, I wanted to cover the topic of being multi-dimensional.   One of the drawbacks associated with online technologies, instant access, as well as mobile technologies comes in the recognition that the lines between professional and private are blurring.  This isn’t a new phenomenon, especially when we admit that very few of us don’t think about family when we are at work nor do we not think about work when we are with our families.  The “job” or our thoughts about our responsibilities don’t magically shut down before 8am or after 5pm.

Taking a step farther, even when we are at work and talking with colleagues, our conversations don’t always revolve around work topics.  I’d challenge you to take some time while you are in the break room or around the water cooler, maybe even while traversing the sea of cubicles, and listen to topics being discussed.  I am confident that you’ll hear topics such as sporting teams, children and their myriad of activities, home improvement projects, the latest restaurant that has opened, politics, and potentially even the previous weekend’s recreational activities.

The reality that most of us live, details that we are seldom one dimensional.  We have lives outside the work environment that hopefully enrich who we are as individuals.  Friends, family, church, civic organization, sporting activities, and recreational pursuits … all add interesting ingredients to who we are as individuals.  These experiences accumulate and provide us with perspectives and insights.  While balancing all these influences can be challenging at times, the dividends are paid out in rounding us out and hopefully allowing us to live rich fulfilling lives.

Bring the point back to the concept of having an Online Social Presence, the challenge many of us face is not being one dimensional online.  I would contend that it’s natural to leverage a single identify in an online media. I myself have attempted to temper my twitter posts around the topics of technology adoption.  While this may be a broad area, I exert much effort not to tweet about my kids, my fandom for the Kansas City Chiefs, or my experiences at local eateries through this medium.  The root of this intention, I suspect comes from a desire to guard private material from the watchful eyes of those online.  However, as Dawn Foster points out in her post for Gigaom entitled Can You Be Personal and Professional in Social Media?, “many people confused personal and private.”  Being personable, at times means revealing more dimensions of who we are and what influences us.

Ethan Zuckerman is a researcher at Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.  In 2010, Mr. Zuckerman gave a presentation at TEDGLOBAL2010 on the subject of “Global Voices“, which is “an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world” he co-founded.  In this talk, Mr. Zuckerman makes reference to a term he calls “segregated conversations.”  The reference describes that while the online communities, like tweeter, do have many people from across the globe, the conversations held in these online communities are in fact segregated, because we are choosing who we interact with.  Mr. Zuckerman identifies a problem with social media, more specifically with social searching, stating … “flocking with a lot of people who are similar to you [makes] it’s hard to get information from the other flocks.”  Navigating between the flocks requires what Mr. Zuckerman describes as a “bridge figure”, or someone who can facilitate communication between flocks.

Chris Brogan echos this sentiment by referencing the concept of Dunbar’s Number.  This “theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships” was developed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar.  The common value attributed to Dunbar’s Number is 150, and the point that Chirs Borgan makes, is that rather than sustaining 150 stable social relationships with individuals similar to ourselves, we should sustain 150 stable social relationships with differing individuals that give us a glimpse or conduit into “a bunch of different threads”.

Both Mr. Zuckerman and Mr. Brogan are challenging us to be multi-dimensional.  Not only in our online communications, but also in those we interact with online.  We can be “bridge figures” as well as we can connect to other “bridge figures”.  Being multi-dimensional adds value to our online presence.  It provides a fuller picture of who we are, who we interact with, and what is it that motivates us.  Leveraging our passions, explaining our perspectives, referencing our heritage can come together to provide others with a deeper understanding what cultivates, nourishes, and drives us as individuals.  It’s a challenge that I’m slowly coming to accept and be convicted about.  I hope you too will share the journey.

Online Social Presence … Generosity

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.

This quote is attributed to 1921 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Albert Einstein.  As we continue the discussion on an Online Social Presence, I wanted to spend some time thinking about theme of generosity.  As we think about our personal professional brand, as we look at the ways and means to package and deliver our expertise, it may be easy to assume that all the focus is inward, but this would be misleading.  The reality is that a thought leader has to have followers, and to generate followers requires intentional efforts to garner the attention of others.  For this reason it is imperative that we be generous with our time, attention, affection, and acknowledgment.

Often generosity is associated with charitable giving.  To that end, I find it interesting that according to “Philanthropic Statistics” published by the National Philanthropic Trust…65% of households give to charity and to that end, charitable giving accounted for 2.1% of the US gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009.

While generosity can manifest itself via charitable giving, online or off, being generous can include so much more.  As I instruct my own children, being generous starts with sharing.  This sentiment is echoed by Chris Brogan, who stated to the New Media Atlanta gathering in 2009 that we need to “learn how to share vs hoard.”  To Chris point, our angle should not be monetizing what we share, rather the opportunities that develop because we are sharing.  Brogan points out that 98% of his stuff is free each day on his blog.  His interest is in the lead generation that occurs because of what he puts out on his blog.

As I mentioned in my previous post on conversations, Big Businesses are wrestling with how to effectively engage social media.  They are also evaluating the how to be generous as well, just like the rest of us.  In his FastCompany article entitled “A Sentiment Detector That Reads the Social Web for You“, David Zax quotes Mike Spataro, VP of Enterprise Client Strategy for Visible Technologies … “98% of consumers are surprised and delighted that someone is trying to help them, and don’t think it’s like Big Brother trying to steer them.”  This quote is applicable to those of us who are trying to establish an online presence, with the simple advice, be helpful.

In the February 2009 article “Generation G” on, the author suggests that “sharing is the new giving”, and goes on to explain how “sharing a passion … have replaced ‘taking’ as the new status symbol”.  So what are some ways that we, as online professionals, can put sharing into practice?

Make recommendationsLewis Howes, in his article, “7 Ways to Market Yourself on LinkedIn“, states that one of the best ways to, “give to others would be to make recommendations” on LinkedIn.  He goes on to suggest that we should recommend others without asking or expecting a recommendation in return because the benefit is the impression we leave with those we are recommending, “it will give them a refreshing feeling about you and they’ll want to be helpful in return.”  But recommendations don’t just occur on LinkedIn.  Posting reviews and/or recommendations on Amazon, iTunes, UrbanSpoon, etc provide excellent opportunities to “pay it forward”.  If you had a good experience at a certain establishment good, tweet about it, post a Facebook status update, in other words share it with your friends.

Share about others … Reid Carr’s article on entitled, “What Should CEOs Tweet? 7 tips to Become More ‘Socially Active” recommends that CEOs “tweet your team’s accomplishments … identify key players and give them a shout out by their twitter name.”  To Carr’s point, we should share what others are doing.  Chris Brogan suggests employing a 12:1 rule, “talk about other people’s stuff 12 times to each time you talk about your stuff.”  With in Twitter, there is something called a “retweet” which Jimi Jones explains, in his article “Measuring the Power of the ReTweet“, “These are sent by those who really feel that the original Tweet has value to be shared…”  If you find something you find valuable, share the value with others.  The benefit is two fold.  First others are exposed to a potential new source of good information.  Second, your own credibility is enhanced as someone who shares value.

Share your thoughts … In her article “Can You Be Personal and Professional in Social Media“on, Dawn Foster suggestions that we, “think about the value that you can offer”.  Our observations, insights, and experiences can be valuable to others, just as we acknowledge the value ourselves. As Mike Phillips states in his article “8 Reasons You Should be Blogging“, “by sharing your ideas online you become part of the community instead of one of the countless spectators.”  One of the potential benefits of sharing your thoughts, is that you could be identified as a source of values by others.  Being a source of value has many payoffs, but it starts with sharing.

I’ll be honest, when I think of social media, generosity isn’t the first descriptor that comes to mind.  It wasn’t until reading Shel Isreal‘s book Twitterville, did I start to really think about the power of generosity that the social web offers.  I thought it was significant enough to include the notion of generosity to the conversation of what it means to have an online social presence.  Hopefully you will join me in sharing more.

Online Presence Strategies … Conversation

December 22, 2010 3 comments

Chris Brogan is the co-author of the book Trust Agents.  During a presentation Chris gave at New Media Atlanta in 2009, he made a statement that struck a chord with me, and one I’ve heard echo many times since.  Chris stated, “connect before you need it … people typically start looking for a job when the get fired … make connections and keep them warm until you really need them.”  Understanding the need to connect, and practicing the art of connecting are two completely different things.  As we continue the discussion of an online social presence, the next logical step following be visible, and be listening is the step of be conversational.

At some point in a discussion or dialogue, you may feel the urge or compulsion to add your two cents.  Knowing how to and whether what you have to say is pertinent may be intimidating.  This is true whether this is a water cooler conversation, business meeting, or online discussion.  At one level we each individually need to answer the simple question, why are we wanting to speak?  Is it to be noticed?  Are we looking for clarification?  Or do we have have something of value to contribute to the conversation?

Group dynamics play into this discussion, because each of us have certain levels of comfort that assist in managing our willingness to engage.  I know when I’m with a group of buddies, I do not wrestle with decisions of when to speak, what to say, or what my motivation is in engaging the discussion.  In contrast, when I’m at a conference or large meeting, with many people I’m not familiar with, I wrestle with this questions regularly.  At some point anonymity can be the worst enemy to effectively engaging in a conversation.  In these situations, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there, muster the confidence that despite how uncomfortable we may feel what me want to contribute may be valued by the others around us.

One of the first steps to be conversational is to comment on the things we have been listening to.  As we’ve read blogs and understood the etiquette and context, we should be better equipped to pen our thoughts in the comment section.  As Aliza Sherman wrote in the article “Revisiting 10 Golden Rules of Social Media” for GigaOm, “if you’ve listened thoughtfully and have something valuable to share, your participation will be welcome.”  Commenting can occur on other people’s blogs, groups within Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as tweets.  Regardless of the locality or service, actively participating by posting a comment is a significant milestone in one’s online presence.

With regards to the platform Twitter, the use of the “retweet” button can be an effective way to be conversational.  Essentially the “retweet” action indicates the original tweet was something you found interesting, compelling, or engaging and as a result you desire to share it with others.  Chris Brogan calls this action of retweeting “a very powerful trick inside twitter”, especially when you consider Chris’ 12-to-1 rule which he details, “talk about other people’s stuff 12 times to each time you talk about your stuff.”  To Chris’ point, be conversational doesn’t require that we start the conversation.  It also doesn’t mean that we have to build on the conversation.  It could simply mean that we expand the audience that is listening to the conversation.

There may be occasions when your interests or passions are not represented online through blogs, tweets, LinkedIn Groups, or Facebook pages.  On those occasions, it may require that you will have to start the conversation.  Lewis Howes is a former professional football player, who has successfully leveraged LinkedIn to create new business opportunities.  In an article on his website entitled, “Seven Ways to Market Yourself on LinkedIn“, Howes suggests that one way to market oneself is to start their own community. Howes offers that creating a LinkedIn group, “may be one of the best ways to get your message out there and the most powerful way to leverage LinkedIn.” If starting a LinkedIn group seems a little daunting, maybe starting up a blog is more compelling. In the “State of the Blogosphere 2010” report published by, 57% of the bloggers who responded indicated they, “blog to share their expertise and experiences with others.”  Blogs can be a very effective mechanism to demonstrate one’s expertise.  Brian Solis, in response to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere article commented in a blog post, “Blogs are the digital library of our intellect, experience, and vision.”  Solis goes on to emphasize the difference between blogs and Twitter, “with Twitter, we are simply competing for the moment. With blogs, we are investing in our digital legacy.” If a digital legacy isn’t compelling enough to start blogging, maybe Mike Phillips‘ article on his site entitled “Seven Reasons You Should be Blogging” will solidify the rational to start a blog.  My own favorite reason is “demonstrate your thought leadership-don’t just be a sheep”.

Once others have taken notice of our efforts to be conversational, we must be willing to continue the conversation by responding to those who follow, connect, and comment.  It’s not enough just to make a statement and then fade back into the woodwork.  Once we’ve crossed the threshold, we need to be ready to continuity engage in the conversation.  This lesson is visibly being played out within social media today as Big Businesses and Big Brands are struggling to understand how to successfully leverage the online social environment.  The way we show the world that we are active online is as much associated with what we say as it as how we connect and respond to others online.  In a keynote that Gary Vaynerchuk gave in August of 2010, he stated it simply, “pay attention to what people are saying … answer the questions”.  Simply answering the questions demonstrates posed can be very effective in continuing the conversation and enhancing one’s online presence.  Books like Twitterville, Open Leadership, even Crush It! all denote case studies and success stories how Big Brands have won over naysayers by simply engaging them, answering questions, and responding to individual comments.  As Vaynerchuk so colorfully says it, “Care…be patient, let the relationship develop…invest in people.”

I suspect, it wasn’t that surprising that joining a conversation followed listening.  Hopefully articulating the various modes, mediums, and ways to join the conversation and carrying on the conversation has been thoughtful and meaningful.  I hope I’ve lived up to the tag-line in my twitter account … “Technologist who is looking to add value to the conversation”

Online Presence Strategies … Listening

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

In a previous post, I started a conversation about the importance of having an Online Social Presence by exploring the dimension of visibility.  To continue this theme, I wanted to take some time to consider another prerequisite of an Online Social Presence before you start engaging or conversing.  That prerequisite is listening.

Much has been written about the Art of Listening.  Most of it deals with developing skills to be active listeners and to be present while listening.  Gail Brenner, Ph.D. posted a blog entry on, sites research on how our brain has the capacity to hear 275 more words per minute than the average person can speak.  Contrast this with an article Dr. Steven Berglas wrote for Forbes Magazine which states that, “Scores of studies have demonstrated that people accurately comprehend or internalize a dismal 25%-50% of what they hear.”  So why is it that while our brains can process more words per minute than what can be spoken, we only comprehend a quarter to half of what we hear?  One explanation offered by Michael P. Nichols, Ph.D, who authored the book The Lost Art of Listening, is that “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Jeremiah Owyang, with Web Strategy, helps to link the art of listening and our online social presence with his statement, “Any savvy party goer knows to listen before jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party.”  Conforming to this analogy, each of us are the savvy party goer and social media is the cocktail party.  Before we dissect the how, I thought it would be appropriate to include some comments Swami Chinmayananda expressed in his article entitled, “The Art of Listening.” Swami Chinmayananda states, “Very often we are led to believe that speaking represents action and power, while listening connotes weakness and apathy…Listening is the channel most often used for “learning.” It is a vital communication function; it improves our ability of understanding, self-awareness and self-application.”

As Swami Chinmayananda points out, the goal of our listening should be learning.  As we evaluate our online presence, listening provides  context and enables us to learn about what is being said, who is saying it, and hopefully why they are saying it.  Before we start talking, we need to see where our opinions, thoughts, and insights fit into the conversation.  Below are some tools to help facilitate the listening process.

1. This is one of the tools that Gary Varnerchuk, author of Crush It!, often references when he passionately urges corporations, individuals, and brands to “pay attention to what people are saying.”  With the search function on twitter, you have access to the collective thought of 175 million registered twitter users and can comb the 95 million tweets issued each day.  In addition to key word searches, you can also leverage hashtags that give you deeper insights into not just randon post, but also the stream of posts and the actual conversations that center around these hashtags.

2.  Follow someone. This could be a colleague, fellow business professional, or someone you ran across via your twitter search.  By “following” them, you can get real-time access to their tweets.  After you follow someone, you can pay attention to how they leverage the social landscape.  Taking notes on how often they tweet, who they interact with, and the subject matter of their tweets help to set your own expectation and sense of how to use the medium.

3.  Read Blogs.  While tweets give you short spinets of information, blogs provide a platform for thoughts to be developed in much more detail.  The question is how do you find blogs.  There are search engines for blogs such as Google and Technorati that help facilitate this process.  You can also search for key words and people via a traditional Google search and this can provide leads to blog posts.  My own experience is that in a relatively short period, you will soon find more blogs to read.  Once you found a blog follow the blog.  This can be facilitated through tools such as subscribing to blogs, using applications like bloglines, and RSS feeds.  These tools help to alert you of new posts so that you aren’t constantly checking back in for updates.

4.  Join a Group LinkedIn is a great example how groups can be used to get the pulse of what is happening.  LinkedIn has groups that center around locations, industries, interests, associatins, even your alma mater. Most of these groups host some form of a discussion forum which lends to more conversations that be listened to.

Charlene Li, in her book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, differentiates how people and businesses should engage people based on their activities.  Specifically she challenges the assumption that everyone online should be engaged in the same manner.  Ms Li, labels or classifies those online into five categories, watchers, sharers, commenters, producers, and curators.  The base level of folks are watchers, or what I’ve heard refered to as “lurkers”.  According to Ms Li’s research, watchers constitute the vast majority of those online (over 78%).

Before we start jumping into conversations, we should be “watchers” or “lurkers”.  This gives us an understanding of the etiquette and context necessary to effectively engage in conversations online.   The challenge is to listen and understand or learn.  By doing so, it will make the move into conversations and sharing much easier.

Online Presence Strategies…Visibility

November 29, 2010 1 comment

When I achieve the moniker of “middle management” I started looking for resources to assist in transitioning into my management role.  Maybe you’ve been in a similar position, where there is no “formal” career mentoring program.  I found a group online which offered many resources including regular effective & compelling podcasts.  The group is Manager-Tools and their suggestions & advice were actionable and clear cut.

One show that caught me off guard was one focused on the pearls of social networking.  The crux of the forty minute show cautioned that effective executives shouldn’t let “controllable negatives” hurt them.  Their point was that the images, updates, links, & associations on social sites are indeed digital records.  When we are tagged or host “private” material on these sites we essentially pollute or contaminate the professionalism we tout in other venues.  The podcast hosts reference Murphy’s Law of Facebook which explains, the one thing you don’t want someone else to see, they will see.

Fast forward a couple of years, and this group publishes another podcast that literally endorses & urges its listeners to be on LinkedIn.  Now the reason for this relative about face stems from a Fortune Magazine article where the executive of global recruiting for Accenture stated that in the coming years he expected 40% of his hires to come from social spaces  (liked LinkedIn).

Maybe it’s the realization that big businesses are coming, if they aren’t already there, to a social space near you; that prompts an engagement with social web or consider the value that social centric services have to offer.  Regardless of the motivation or rational, most of us should acknowledge that there is something to the incredible growth of social networking.  Given the low barrier of entry, I’m confident that there are opportunities ripe for each of us within the spectrum of the social graph.

Before trudging headlong into uncharted waters, there are certain considerations we each should contend with related to the social ecosystem.  The folks from Manager-Tools are correct in their attention that we should treat the digital record with respect and professionalism.  This starts with certain attention paid to ourselves and our social presence.  Visibility is a key strategy to be evaluated.  How companies, colleagues, partners, clients, customers, etc will recognize us should be vetted.  To that end, I wanted to share some suggestions…

1.  Use Your Real Name.  Sites like Facebook & LinkedIn this is pretty easy.  However places like Twitter and blogs have encouraged cute naming conventions.  While your CB handle or self-proclaimed nickname from college might be unique, only those with inside knowledge will correlate you & the nickname/handle.  Despite how astute you may be tweeting interesting thoughts or insights, the inability of outsiders to make the digital link to your professional persona hinders it’s effectiveness to get you noticed.

2.  Use a photo, preferably a quality photo.  Many people are visual learners, and are more adapt at recognizing a face before they can place a name.  To this end, including a photo or head shot goes a long way to make who you are with what you are saying.

3.  Complete the bio.  Whether this is your education, career history, & summary statement on LinkedIn or a brief description on Twitter, give those  curious a little about yourself.  Incomplete information may be perceived as a negative, this person is unorganized or unable to complete tasks.  It’s like submitting a report without your name on it, when the instructions clearly guided the submission etiquette for where &  how to identify the person who was submitting the document.

4.  Provide a link or call to action.  Without coming right out and saying “want more information?”, a link or URL to another site, blog, or landing point provides a call to action for those interested in learning more about you.

5.  Be consistent across platforms.  For those of us who are expanding our social footprint this is critical.  Using the same picture and name are two key elements to being consistent.  If you use LinkedIn, Twitter, & have your own blog, all three should have consistent bio, name, & pictures.  This will give those navigating through these spaces a sense of congruity and reinforces who you are as a professional.

A word of warning … consistency doesn’t mean you copy & paste updates and all your information to each social location.  The reality is that each service has audience differences to be taken into account.  The subtle differences match the consistent information about who you are speak volumes on how adept you are in communicating .  If managing multiple social sites is too much work, then pair down the sites you maintain.  Doing one thing well is better than cloning the effort without specific attention paid to the destination audiences.  For me personally, it’s annoying to see someone tweet something and see it appear on their LinkedIn status and Facebook update unabridged.  As a audience member, it make me want to reduce the mediums I listen to or associate with this person.

Before you start broadcasting, pay attention to how you will be recognized.  To some extent we all want to be visible, but we each should do our homework to ensure our messages correlate to our image.  These details can pay dividends later on.  Once set, these variables are somewhat static.  Our attention and energies can then be appropriately focused on how we engage others in the social environment.

Everyone has a voice – how are you using it?

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I stumbled across an article/blog post by Mike Masnick from July 2009 on the website TechDirt as I was pondering the saying that “Everyone has a voice”.  The article details how a singer, Dave Carroll, had a poor experience with United Airlines in resolving an issue surrounding the singer’s guitar being broken while in transport.  In the article, Masnick makes the following statement,

“one of the amazing things about the internet is that it gives everyone a voice. And when everyone has a voice, the customer wins. Period. Customers will always be able to get the word out if you screw them over”

I’ve also noticed that lately one of the anecdotes that Gary Vaynerchuk uses involves a scenario where his brother calls up to a restaurant for reservations and is told one thing, and when he arrives a little early he is told much later.  Gary visually depicts how his brother whips out his cell phone, and quickly the hostess disappears and appears with a table for Gary’s brother and his dinner companions.  It’s at this point that Gary suggests this action of whipping out the mobile device is the new “go-to-move”.

While I completely agree that in a social and consumer web centric world, we have a unique ability to broadcast and inform others about poor service and experiences, I want to suggest that our voices shouldn’t only be used to complain or exalt the experiences we’ve had with service providers.  Just like businesses are compelled not to just tweet about product announcements and promotions, consumers shouldn’t just tweet about issues they’ve encountered with products and services.  The benefit of the community is when we have a glimpse into context of a person sharing.  Social experts like Shel Israel encourage business to consume (listen to) the chatter and act on that.  Should the converse be also true, that consumers should also be producers in this social web environment?  Should we offer opinions and insights into our daily lives that don’t revolve around  how the misdeeds of others have left us hurt, angered, and/or poorer?

I’ll offer that I’m not a touchy-feely type of person, but over time I have become more patient with travesties of services and products that have left me wanting to ensure the producers and providers understand that I’m not happy with the results.  I’ll also concede that I most likely will not be whipping out my cell phone in response to an undesirable statement or action, but that’s just me.