Turn Small Talk Into Big Opportunities

Does the thought of small talk make your blood pressure rise? Whether it’s from annoyance or fear, this is a common reaction. However, mastering the art of polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters (as defined by Oxford Dictionaries) is an important part of succeeding in the business world.

The author enjoying small talk at a conference.

Small talk can lead to big opportunities if you smile and play your cards right.

How can you turn small talk into big opportunities?

  • Pay Attention to Your Surroundings: Does your company’s CEO have memorabilia from a baseball team in his office? He’s probably a fan. When you share an elevator ride with him, that’s a good topic to bring up. Note what your co-workers display in their work areas; these items are usually important to them and make excellent conversation starters.
  • Listen: We’ve talked before about the importance of listening, but we can’t stress its benefits enough. Be present in a conversation. Don’t spend the time someone else is talking forming your response; listen to what she’s saying. It could be interesting, it could be useful and it could even lead to an opportunity. Perhaps Sally in accounting or a fellow business professional at an event has a connection to a job opportunity you’re eyeing or with a company you’d like to bring on as a customer.
  • Have a Conversation, Don’t Pitch: You’re heading out after a long day, and the CEO happens to be heading out at the same time. Be friendly, say hello and put your aforementioned knowledge of his favorite baseball team to use. Don’t spring your great idea on him as he’s heading to the parking lot. Use chance meetings or opportunities to say hello and build rapport. You’re more likely to be given a platform for your ideas if the right people know who you are and what value you bring to the company. Aggressively cornering them at the Holiday party isn’t the right way to make that happen.
  • Help Others First: Influential people, online or in real life, are used to being asked for favors by people they don’t even know. Be different: offer to help people in your network when you can. Be genuine, show interest and care about other people. Don’t offer to help someone only to expect something in return, or only offer assistance to those in a position to help you. We live in a global, mobile world today, so you never know when you’ll need someone’s help later on — like Sally in accounting.

Related reading: How to turn small talk into smart conversation

Start viewing small talk as an opportunity to get to know others around you instead of a waste of time, and you may be surprised at the results. Remember to pay attention to your surroundings, listen, be conversational and help others first. Your efforts will pay off in the long run in business and in life.

What small talk tips would you add?

Do you enjoy networking events?

A converted networker,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small talk, your communication needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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5 Digital Marketing Trends To Develop Your Marketing Strategy

A strong online presence is essential in today’s market. Without the help of digital marketing, your business is already one step behind. It’s that simple. To make sure that you never fall behind the curve, here are five marketing trends to keep you current. These are relevant right now, so prepare to adjust and adapt in the coming months.

'Digital Marketing Trends' by Automotive Social via CC BY 2.0

Is your digital marketing strategy up-to-date?


Don’t Rely On Google (Now a Subsidiary of Alphabet)

Whisper it quietly so no one can hear you, because you might start a riot. Google, the king of the Internet’s search engines, might be on the decline (and is certainly going through massive changes). That doesn’t mean that the search giant isn’t still relevant. Google holds the largest market share and is one of the biggest brands on the planet. However, consumers are starting to want more from their search engine. Some just want a change because Google has been around for too long. SEO is too important to put all of your eggs in the same basket. 


Mobile All The Time

One platform that you have to rely on is mobile. Unlike Google, mobile technology is at the peak of its powers. More than ever, consumers around the globe are using mobile technology to make purchases. Right now, there is an obsession with everything mobile that does not look like it is going to subside anytime soon. Remember that mobile technology is the technology of choice for over half of the world’s purchases, so it’s crucial to incorporate mobile technology into your digital marketing strategy. 


Payment Methods Are Becoming More Popular

A Magento developer has never been more important for e-commerce and online payment websites. With the rise of the Europay, MasterCard and Visa card, or EMV for short, a new age of online purchases is here. Today, you need more from your developer than ever before. They have to be able to install and input these new techniques into your site because the world is quickly embracing the technology. EMVs are supposed to reduce the risk of fraud and data breaches, so you can see why they are becoming more popular.


Time To Start A Conversation

Unless you have been living ‘off the grid’ for the past several years, you know all about the benefits of social media for business. However, one tactic that is often left is the ability to start a conversation. Yes, social platforms are a great source of inexpensive advertising, but they also allow you to connect to your customer base. By connecting with your customers, you have the ability to improve your conversion rates. Sometimes, a simple conversation is all it takes to get to know someone and create a sense of loyalty.

Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation


Paid Advertising Is Key

The trend of paying for advertising is not a popular one, but it is here for the long-term. As a result, paying for online advertising will provide a boost to your marketing strategy if done correctly. 

Digital Marketing Trends: Your Feedback

What do you see as the biggest digital marketing trend right now?

What will be the biggest digital marketing trend in 2016?

Which social network do you prefer for your brand?

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy or have any questions, let’s talk.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, social media or otherwise):
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Peanutized: How to Encourage Fans to Engage With Your Brand

Have you been Peanutized?

Get Peanutized: The Peanuts Movie's interactive promotionI took the plunge this afternoon. After seeing the fun creations in my Facebook News Feed the past few days, I couldn’t resist anymore. (Ah, the power of social media…)

Get Peanutized is a cool microsite that 20th Century Fox is using to promote the upcoming release of The Peanuts Movie on November 6th. You can turn yourself into a character in the movie by selecting everything from your hair style and color to the shoes on your feet. So 20th Century Fox provided the site and is now sitting back and watching people promote their new movie for them. Genius!

People will share their creations and promote the movie, because it’s fun and engaging. At our core, we want to socialize with others, even brands. How can you encourage fans to engage with your brand?

  • Give out swag: For CCC’s 3rd anniversary, we threw a week-long party and invited our fans to join in the celebration. By engaging with us (and therefore spreading our message) on social, fans were entered to win cool swag with a special retro look. It was a success! In addition to increased engagement on our networks, we developed some new advocates for our brand.

 

  • Hold a contest: Ask people to post photos of your products in action to be entered to win a prize. Remind them to tag you and/or use a special hashtag, so you see the photos and others can too. This is also a great way to share tips or helpful hints about your products. No physical products? No worries! Utilize the aforementioned fun swag and ask fans to post photos of themselves (or others) showing off your promotional products wherever they are — on vacation, at work, etc.
  • Join the conversation: Don’t just respond to messages and comments directed to you; reach out to people when appropriate. Search relevant keywords and hashtags to find conversations you can join and people you can help. The key is to provide helpful information, not to sell. Nobody wants you to bust into their conversation with a sales pitch. But if you have helpful DIY tips, writing advice or relevant experience to share, they may end up becoming a customer down the road.
  • Open all lines of communication: Communicate with your customers where they’re comfortable, whether that’s Facebook Messenger or over the phone. Let people know the myriad of ways they can contact you, and you’re much more likely to hear from them. According to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s Ad Chief, “messaging via Pages has doubled year-over-year-over-year, and some companies have told Facebook that it is now the primary place for them to receive customer service requests.”

However you choose to engage with your fans, put some effort into it. Don’t create an app that doesn’t offer any value. Don’t set up presences on every social network and then forget about them. If you don’t have the bandwidth to be everywhere, choose what fits your company the best and will benefit your customers the most. Consider bringing in outside help to manage what you can’t.

And always keep an eye on the future. You never know when you’ll be able to share your first virtual reality (VR) ad or beam up fans to your event location. How cool would that be?!

Engage With Us on Engagement

How do you encourage fans to engage with your brand?

Do your fans show a preference in how they contact you?

What cool technology would you love to utilize someday for your brand?

Who’s your favorite Peanuts character?

p.s.Looking for some ideas to spice up your marketing? We can help!

Peanutized and lovin’ it,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about engagement, the Peanuts gang or otherwise):
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Content is King — or is Conversation?

We live in an era where content is king — or so we’re told on a daily basis. But think about it…

If you produce awesome content and no one is around to consume it, is it still king?

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

“A Conversation” by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

I’m reading an intriguing book right now, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow. It’s a thought-provoking read about how we create and exchange value in the digital age, but one quote in particular thus far caught my eye.

“Content isn’t king. Conversation is.”

Doctorow has a good point. He notes that the telecommunications industry — companies that let people talk to each other — has always outpaced the entertainment industry, including a $270 billion advantage in 2011-2012.^ What is the Internet besides a gigantic conversation?

Read: Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation

This insight made me reconsider the widely accepted adage of today — content is king. Of course, it’s important. You can drive all of the traffic in the world to your website, and if there’s nothing there, it won’t help. However, you do have to drive people to your website or storefront or studio, and great content alone won’t do that. You have to create — and engage others — in a conversation.

Read: Are You Being Heard? Communication Tips For Your Brand

So the question remains… If you produce awesome content and no one is around to consume it, is it still king?

Content or Conversation

Is content or conversation king?

How do you drive traffic to your content?

What’s more challenging: creating great content or driving traffic to it?

^ Source: Information Doesn’t Want to be Free, “Getting People to Care About Your Work,” pgs 49-50

Joining the conversation,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about content, conversations, a new project or otherwise):
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Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation

At CCC, we’re always telling people to join the conversation. Social media is, after all, about being social. Then one day, a client asked us how, and a light bulb went off. Hey, there’s a blog post in there somewhere!

Make It Personal

When you thank people for sharing your content or answer a question that someone’s posed, why not make it personal? Refer to people by their name (spelled correctly). Look at the user’s profile or recent tweets and mention something that catches your interest. It’s a great way to create dialogue and make someone remember you. As you develop relationships, it’s easier to ask about or note something of interest to people you’re routinely conversing with. Until then, make the extra effort; people will appreciate you.

Do A Little Soul (& Keyword) Searching

Search for popular hashtags and search terms in your industry, so you can check out what people are talking about. (If there are terms you’d like to search consistently, save a search in your social media software or set up a Google Alert.) Join appropriate conversations (not with sales pitches!), and share relevant discussions with your fans and followers to hear their thoughts. This is a great way to stay on top of trends in your industry, gain targeted followers/fans and discover new business opportunities.

Facebook search

You can search for hashtags and keywords on Facebook too.

Hashtag to Happiness (Within Reason)

Searching hashtags is also how you will know which ones to use in your posts to gain the most traction. You can see what type of posts use a particular hashtag if you’re trying to decide between #video, #videooftheday or #videoads, and choose accordingly. It varies with each platform, but generally you don’t want to use more than 2-3 hashtags on a single post. “Overhashtagging” (my word) makes your content difficult to read and turns people off. Remember, space is at a commodity, whether there’s a specific character limit or not. Most people will not take the time to read lengthy social media updates.

Related reading: #Hashtags: Big Business or Bust?

Get Social

Talk to people. Answer questions, ask your own. Engage with other users’ content, and encourage others’ to do the same with yours. Don’t just lurk or broadcast information. Social media is a two-way street, not a one-way marketing vehicle. The more you engage, the better you’ll do. Share others’ content. Leave thoughtful comments. Converse. Be social, and others will be social with you. It’s amazing how branching out to other FB pages, Twitter profiles, Google+ pages, blogs, etc. will encourage reciprocation and help you grow your network.

So there you have it…. How do you join the conversation?

  1. Make It Personal
  2. Do A Little Soul (& Keyword) Searching
  3. Hashtag to Happiness (Within Reason)
  4. Get Social

What would you add to this list? Chime in with your thoughts, recommendations and insight below. If you have questions or would like more information on anything mentioned in this post, let us know. We’d be happy to help you join the conversation!

Get Social,
Jaime

Get Social with CCC!
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Trick Out Your Tweets: Tips to Stand Out on Twitter

Do you tweet? (Or as someone once asked me, “Are you on that Tweeter thing?”) Does it feel like you’re accomplishing anything? Or, at the end of the day, are you just confused what the buzz is about? (If you haven’t heard, Twitter recently went public, and it was kind of a big deal. –> Twitter’s IPO Created 1,600 New Millionaires)

Twitter bird

All this buzz over a little bird?

Whether you’re tweeting  for personal or professional reasons, the following tips should help you stand out from the crowd.

–> Join the conversation! You may notice that CCC is always asking you to join the conversation. What exactly does that mean? Talk to people! Respond to tweets that interest you. Retweet them to share them with your followers. Favorite them for later reference. Thank others for retweeting you. Search hashtags that interest you or your company and jump into discussions that you can add value to (not necessarily with a sales pitch though).

Social media is all about getting social, so talk to people as much as possible. Try not to just broadcast information all day long. People are social creatures; they want to interact with you. I’ve connected with some of the coolest people just by thanking them for a RT and asking a question or commenting on something in their profile. Profiles are dynamite for conversation fodder, which is why it’s so important to have a good one. –> What’s in a social media profile? Everything. Profile and cover pictures are another fantastic icebreaker. –> Why do you want to be an egghead?

–> Forget the rules — Everywhere you look, someone is laying down the law about something on Twitter, or social media in general. Tweet every hour. Don’t tweet more than 5 times per day. Automate. Don’t automate. Schedule. Don’t schedule. Don’t self-promote. You have to self-promote. Respond to people immediately. Unplug once in a while. Send direct messages. People hate DMs.

egghead avatar on Twitter

Show your personality on Twitter. Don’t be an egghead.

Honestly, it all boils down to common sense. Would you contact someone 30 times a day? Probably not, so don’t do it on Twitter. Would you say that to someone’s face? Probably not, so don’t say it on Twitter. The problem with rules is that you can become paralyzed by them. Pay attention, treat (or tweet) people with respect and you’ll be fine. Plus, you’ll start to find your style and settle in. One good rule to follow? Give people a heads up when you’re going to live tweet an event or webinar, participate in a Twitter chat or tweet a lot more than normal. (h/t @kathyyoho)

–> Be Yourself. Stay true to your self (or brand self); do what’s comfortable to you. Basically, let your personality show. People shouldn’t be surprised when they meet you in real life, because you’re really different from your Twitter persona. It’s difficult to keep up a fake persona anywhere online, so don’t waste your time. Plus, when people find out who you really are (positive or negative difference), it can be unsettling and hard to trust you. Would you want to work with, hire someone or recommend someone who’s put up a false front? Neither do other people.

Automation also falls into this category. To automate or not to automate? If you’re going to automate tweets, make sure that you trust the source completely. It’s not that a blog or site is likely to post offensive content (although that happens); they may blog about a topic sometimes that you don’t want to share. Also, if you schedule, it’s imperative that you (or someone you trust) have access to modify or delete these tweets before they go out. Some brands have gotten into hot water this year due to pre-scheduled tweets that went out as scheduled when they were no longer appropriate.

Live Nation Twitter disaster

Live Nation scheduled tweets to go out during a Radiohead concert and didn’t adjust them when tragedy struck.

–> Treat (or tweet) others with respect — Don’t say something to someone (or even retweet something) that you wouldn’t say to their face. Remember, everything that happens online affects your life. (Thou shalt not destroy your reputation online.) You can delete a tweet, but you can never really delete a tweet. It’s stored somewhere. That doesn’t mean that you have to avoid sarcasm or never joke around. Just make sure that people understand the situation. If you’re pissed off about something, venting on Twitter isn’t a good idea.

Also, don’t smother famous people or standouts on a particular platform. Feel free to follow and engage with anyone (that’s why they’re on Twitter), but don’t ask special favors of or get upset with people if they don’t agree with you or respond immediately. We’re all human; sometimes we miss tweets or are busy in real life. Think about it. Would you want to engage with people when you have 500,000 followers if all they do is ask you to RT them, donate to a cause or recommend them to someone? No, you wouldn’t. So remember to treat others as you’d want to be treated on Twitter and elsewhere. Life usually works out when you do.

Join the Conversation

What do you think?

What would you add to my tips?

Anything you’ve learned after tweeting for awhile?

Twitter bird courtesy of Twitter
Egghead graphic courtesy of Digg with me blog
Live Nation tweet courtesy of Sharilyn Johnson’s Twitter stream

Tweeting since ’09,
Jaime

Tweet us! (or tag us, add us to your circles, pin us, message us… You get the drift.)
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