Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tweet to Expertise

Twitter is a perfect crowdsourced educational tool.  The 140 character site for sharing quips and links can help you develop expertise in any topic in just a few weeks.

The learning culture that has evolved on Twitter consists of millions of users following people and subjects of interest and sharing comments and links to relevant content.  Particularly good content is retweeted which spreads it to even more Twitter users.

Here are five reasons why Twitter is the perfect tool for learning:

1.  Content is current.  Unlike most books and classes, the content on Twitter consists of news articles and blogs written within a few hours of being tweeted. This means the information is fresh and up-to-date.

2.  Content is delivered a little at a time.  We learn best when we see information multiple times in different formats and context. Since most links are to articles with only a few paragraphs or a few pages at most, you can learn a little from each article.

3. Content is not coherent. Because information on Twitter comes from a variety of sources, it is not organized neatly and wrapped up with a shiny bow. I believe this is an advantage because it forces the reader to consider and reconcile conflicting points of few.

4. Content is filtered for quality. Any link on Twitter is there because someone read it and thought it was good enough to post.  If someone retweets the link, they thought it was good enough to share.  This crowdsourced filtering system causes good content to be repeated and bad content to fade away.

5. You have partial control over the content. Because you choose who you follow, you can add people who share content that interests you and remove people who share content that you don’t value. However, your reliance on others to choose which content they share can provide enough variety to continually bring you new ideas. Managed properly, it can be a perfect balance.

How does social media fit into your learning plans?

How do you feel it compares to other learning methods?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sincerely Social

Elise Ellis manages social media for Black River Imaging.

The comedian George Burns once quipped, “Sincerity - if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” When I read the social media feeds of some professional imaging companies, I get the impression that they based their interaction style on Burn’s philosophy. Plenty of product news, but everything else feels a little unnatural.

Black River Imaging, a professional imaging lab in Springfield, Misouri, has a totally different approach. Black River Imaging has embraced social media with real sincerity, enthusiasm and a love for genuine interaction with their customers and fans. The 19,000 fans of the lab’s page on Facebook can sense that the page is managed by a real person who loves life, loves photography and loves interacting with them on Facebook.  It is not uncommon for a post to generate dozens of comments and likes.

The Black River Imaging Blog includes book reviews, photography tips, social media ideas, guest posts from photographers, reports from tradeshows and a few product introductions. Each post is thoughtfully written and brimming with joyous enthusiasm.

The creative energy behind Black River’s social media presence comes from the lab’s Sales/Social Media Representative, Elise Ellis. In one of her blog posts from January of 2011, she poses these questions about photography: “Are you shooting from your heart? Are you having fun? Are you shooting what you like to shoot?

Later in the same post, Ellis describes how to authentically define your own style. Although she was writing about photography, her comments could apply equally well to how she approaches posting on Facebook and blogging.

“You have to be authentically you when defining your style. You can’t be someone else. Emulating someone else will not get you far in the photographic world. But being the best ‘you’ you can be will. Clients, potential clients, past clients will all recognize the disconnect that is happening within yourself when you are not being who you are meant to be. It will come through in your work. It will come through in your daily life in the form of unhappiness and upset. Finding the one thing that you get all excited about photographing will help you to begin developing your personal style.”

I believe this is great advice for photography, blogging and just about everything else in life!

How sincere does your company sound on Facebook?

Are you posting from your heart?

Are you having fun?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marketing Services Done Right

With offset printing volumes declining, there are a lot of people, including me, lining up to give superficial advice to printers. The usual recommendations include:

Printers must embrace digital printing!

Variable data printing is the future of marketing!

Printers need to evolve into marketing service providers!

Direct mail should be part of a cross media strategy that involves, print, email, web and social media!

Use Personalized URls and personalized QR codes to increase response rates and improve trackability!

I believe strongly in all of these points.  But each of them are easier said than done. Buying and installing a digital press doesn’t automatically generate business suited to digital printing. Managing a cross media campaign that includes variable data printing requires skills, processes and tools that are not abundant in the typical offset print shop.  As a result, there are a lot of digital presses that are underutilized.

Concentric Marketing Solutions is a new marketing services company that recognizes the complexity of the challenge and have organized a team of skilled marketing and printing professionals to offer “a new marketing paradigm.” They offer brands, agencies and printers a powerful multi-channel, data driven, approach to campaign management that both generates and measures results.

Here is how the Concentric Marketing Solutions website describes their difference:

“We concern ourselves with finding the best growth opportunities for our clients and partners, not just with producing relevant dialogue. We don’t just execute better campaigns. We find and implement the right strategies across all marketing investments.”

Concentric is new and time will test their innovative approach.  I have spoken many times with Barry Esslinger, the VP of Business Development at Concentric and believe strongly in the path they are taking.  The creativity in the design and messaging on their new website reinforces my belief that they are going to make difference in our industry.

How aggressive has your company been in the transition to providing marketing services?

What companies or websites do you consider great examples of promoting marketing services?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Not Too Hard - Not Too Easy

For the true artist, the work is not too hard.  The project was selected because it requires the talents, skills and experience of the artist. The artist carefully selects the right tools and team members and jumps in with energy and enthusiasm. Concentration and engagement erases all consciousness of time. Challenges arise and are resolved. Soon the work and the artist are completed.

For the true artist, the work is not too easy. The artist approaches every project as if it were the first. What new tools or techniques could add uniqueness and encourage engagement? The artist stretches beyond the traditional limitations to explore new possibilities. The emotions are touched in a way that is both timely and timeless. When the work is complete, both the art and the artist have grown.

True artists exist in every field, not just the arts. Whatever you do, do it as an artist!

Is your work too hard?  

Is your work too easy?

The paragraphs above were written and scheduled to be published before we lost Steve Jobs. Steve was the ultimate artist. While I am certain that he worked extremely hard, he made it all look easy.