Some Lessons Learned

Wonder I am not a blogger, but I have a blog.  It’s the same way I would say I am not a golfer, but I like to play golf, especially with good company in nice weather.  About 6 months ago, I started this blog as a “parking lot” and an outlet to capture thoughts about many topics.  The topics are work related in nature, but I’m not looking to hawk wares from my company here.  I am learning a lot about conversation, engaging folks (or at least trying to), and what drives many of the social media blogging evangelists out there.  Frankly, it’s been a lot of fun.  I’ve decided to take a step back and look at what are some of the key things I’ve learned.  I know there are many, many better sources for blogging tips and advice, and to some of those authors what I have captured here could label yours truly as “Master of the Obvious.”  At any rate, anyone who jumps into social media has a learning path – I’m sharing some of mine, and would love to hear yours too.

1) Build It (Properly) and They Will Come

Search Engine Optimization is arguably more art than science.  Through looking at referrals to my blog in analytics, it’s easy to see Google searches are the number one search-related source of traffic.  What I did not imagine or anticipate is the types of search terms that got people to my content.  For example, “Working at Brulant” as search terms has brought a number of folks here.  This is a personal blog, although I do discuss my work on occasion.  Of course I immediately notified our recruiting operations and we are polishing up a more formal blog strategy.  In the meantime, two very interesting personal blogs have popped up from our recruiting folks at Talent Acquisition: What Would Darwin Say?  and the art and science of recruiting.  Hopefully the firm will see ROI from this but that is not my specific intent.  Either way, it’s cool to see how folks have found their way here.

2) I Like to Write

I was a political science major at UVM, and after a senior seminar on American Foreign Policy and a minor in American Literature I thought I’d never want to write again – too many late nights staring at my Mac Classic.  This blog has helped me to start building my writing skills again, and it’s fun to find a topic I’m enthusiastic about to let the writing fly loosely.  Of course, that leads to…

3) There Are Not Enough Hours In the Day

I like to write, but it’s far from ever being my day job.  There are statements of work, conference calls, strategy meetings, proposals, and seemingly endless other activities that consume my time.  I’m working on building social media skills internally in our organization, but most of that is on my own time.  Not to mention when I am home in the evenings I’ve got a very fun family to spend time with. (I have yet to hone my skills on the Wii, to the tune of my 7 year old beating me handily in MLB Baseball.  I would never have stood for that in the day, but I digress.)  This blog, not to mention other social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and others, could easily consume more time.  I need to manage all of the above with a balance, and this blog gets a post a week on average – less than the recommended twice a week to maintain loyal “readership” by many sources.

4) Good Content is Rewarded

Good content is essential to a blog.  I know not every post I author is a good one, but when one comes along, it gets noticed and rewarded with traffic, recognition, and comments.  You don’t need to ‘link bait’ to get people to that stuff, it just gets out there – a friend from Twitter posted a link of one of my posts on; Another made it onto Digg; The folks at Alltop were kind enough to list my blog there; Other better known bloggers have linked to specific posts or added this blog to their respective blogrolls; Offline, friends, family and colleagues have shared with me positive feedback.  I love hearing from former and current clients who noticed this site.  The whole thing has remained a fun cycle to watch and participate in, and I am inspired to try to “do good work” with my posts here.  A good analogy would be to the children’s book, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel in which a steam shovel and its trusty operator work a little faster and a little better with each additional person watching them work. 

There are many who have given me pointers (knowingly or otherwise) so far, and I thank all of them for their insight, tips, comments and suggestions.  I could highlight many folks or websites here that have good tips, but I’m just going to say a collective “thank you” to the folks who are passionate about this medium.  This has been a positive learning experience all around and I plan to continue it at a minimum just for that benefit.  What are some of the best lessons learned you have found from blogging or other social media tools?  If you haven’t started to yet, what is holding you back?  By the way, what led you to this post?

Photo credit: Austin Kleon via Flickr.

A Different Use for LinkedIn: Alumni Relations

Linkedinalumni About a year and a half ago, I left Accenture to join Brulant.  It was a big career change as I had been with Accenture (previously Andersen Consulting) since graduating college.  The opportunity to work at Brulant opened many new doors, but I also have deep respect and admiration for the people I had an opportunity to work with at Accenture.

Yesterday I received an invite through LinkedIn, as a reminder to reconnect to their alumni network site and "check in."  I'm used to the connection requests and "Can you recommend someone who…" requests, but this one was different.  It was a unique landing page within LinkedIn that was a simple redirect to register for the alumni network.  The page includes a drawing for an iPod Touch and some flash content of stories from other alums.

In addition to employee engagement, Accenture is leveraging a great tool like LinkedIn for alumni engagement.  Knowing how many folks are using LinkedIn (including recent data on a 361% year over year increase), and the high probability that those folks who left Accenture have a profile, this is a smart, simple and innovative way to reconnect with alumni.  Nice work. 

Does your company have a relations program with your alumni, and is it a good one?

“Cannonball comin’…”

A couple of college friends spotted my blog recently and asked why.  Some colleagues at work joined Twitter recently and found that I am already on it (in fact, I’m linking to this as my 1000th post), and asked why.  In the last three months both friends and family have seen me spend quality time on Facebook and asked why.  I gave it some thought.  To understand these tools, you have to immerse yourself in it – by diving right in.

As I learn more about interactive marketing – frankly, I know I have a lot to learn – social media is changing our industry.  Old approaches to connect with customers and communities are becoming less effective and less relevant.  What better way to understand how it is changing than to jump right in, drink from the fire hose and be baptized by fire all at once? 

After a few months, I have learned a lot and had fun doing it through Twitter, Facebook, this blog, and other tools:

  • I have met a diverse group of passionate social media enthusiasts who have been welcoming to a new participant, including the Social Media Club in Boston.
  • I found a group of strangers who love dunkin donuts coffee like it’s crack, just like I do. 
  • I have direct access to some of the folks in PR, venture capital and social media around the country that are defining how the industry will change, and there are amazing conversations taking place that I can participate in. 
  • I have reconnected with former clients and colleagues who are marching down the same learning path that I am.
  • I have caught up with old friends from elementary school, high school, college and work.  Not to mention summer camp (former campers who were 12 last time I saw them are now out of college!?).
  • I found a die-hard group of Red Sox fans to share a live game experience as if we were all in the same room.
  • I watched a campaign to raise money for Cancer research unfold due to the openness and honesty of a few core bloggers.
  • I watched a couple of social media companies leverage tools like Twitter to do their own PR about their new firm.
  • I have watched companies and individuals experiment, connect, ask questions and contribute thoughts and opinions.
  • I have found new ways to leverage being online and being connected every day.

Most importantly, I’ve experienced first hand how connecting to communities can add value to the experience – in this case my own – and am grateful for the connections.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Tag – I’m It

Kudos to Len Devanna for tagging me.  Not this kind of tag. I know there are many that hate internet memes, and I would wager that most people tagged like this start off ranting about the concept.  I have to actually thank Len who through doing so kicked me into gear in the world of blogging.  Six months from now, when this blog is stale, I’ve got writer’s block, and I’ve lost sleep trying to figure out what to write next, I’ll write my post about "Len Devanna is the Anti-Christ."  I’ve already started that one in draft mode…

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