Teaching How to Fish: Empowerment and Social Media

There’s an old adage, give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll feed himself for the rest of his life. Learning and using technology is no different. It’s just a set of tools that help people perform work. Depending upon what you want to accomplish, these tools can make things a lot easier.

 What are the tools? Computers that connect to the internet are the most fundamental ones. Smartphones and tablets are the main other ones. Having a pen and paper will allow you to write but not share what you’ve written (unless you take a photograph and share that). Websites, social media platforms and messaging software are the “tools” that reside either online or locally as software on your computer.

 What do you want to accomplish? So much of what people and businesses do these days revolves around information. We consume it, deliver it and share it. An entire new paradigm has grown around this concept. While face to face and phone calls are still vitally important, they’re not the only ways we communicate anymore. Are they still the best, it depends on the circumstance and the information you wish to share.

 Sharing information and insight can lead to connections that will drive business. Empowerment is two things: mastering the tools that let you communicate and developing the messages (information and insight) that you wish to convey. I’d prefer to teach people to fish over the alternative any day.

Haunted Narratives


The big news in the world of Apple is a new book released by Wall Street Journal reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane titled “Haunted Empire.” The book makes the claim that Apple has become adrift since the passing of Steve Jobs, unable to innovate and compete in the absence of his leadership. Current CEO Tim Cook is a number cruncher and supply-chain technocrat incapable of inspiring his employees. 

Among the majority of recent reviews of the book, the consensus is that Kane formulated this conclusion prior to writing the book then cherry-picked details designed to further this narrative. This may or may not be true, but what interests me is how Apple is choosing to respond to the publication of this book. My question is this - when should a business respond to media criticism and how should it respond?

We live in a world comprised of huge numbers of critics and now more than ever, these critics have better and better social media and online soap boxes. A company like Apple garners an outsized share of media attention and people who follow tech news tend to make up their minds about the company then view news through their chosen lens.

What can a company do in the face of this? Which is the better course of action, to respond directly or not to respond? Apple made a calculated decision to have Tim Cook to state the following about the book. “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve or anyone at the company.”

What does this response do? Does it:

A. Increase sales of the book because as Kane suggests, she “struck a nerve?”

B. Defend the company against the book’s argument?

C. Draw more media attention to the book?

D. Undermine the book and lump it in with other discredited “tell-alls” about Apple?

The puzzle for any business, big or small, is when and how to craft a calculated response to criticism. If you were Apple, would you have gone this route, or simply allow the book to rise or fall on it’s own merits with no response? Wisdom suggests that there are also consequences for not doing anything.

I think that Apple would have been best served by not having Tim respond to the book at all. Given that this narrative (“Apple can’t innovate anymore”) is already so entrenched in the popular media’s coverage of the company, one book more or less won’t really change things and the reviews of the book seem to be effective in tackling the merits of the case. 

Tim’s quote elevated the visibility of the book and the narrative instead of putting it to rest. The quickest way to put it to rest is for Apple to continue with their work on the “next big thing” and leave the nay-sayers alone.

More to the Facebook v. Hootsuite story!

Based on more recent information I’ve gathered from my good friend and SEO guru Roy Brandt, it turns out that while my previous post was at one point true, things have changed and Facebook now honors Hootsuite and other Social Management posts on an equal basis. Kumbaya y’all!


Hootsuite Forums

Facebook Moves the Scheduling Goalposts

Apparently Facebook has decided to degrade posts from third party scheduling applications like Hootsuite and Buffer in favor of their own scheduling function on the site. Visibility on Facebook’s News Feed is driven by a complex algorithm formerly known as “Edgerank.” What this means is that if you use Hootsuite or a similar application, your posts will not show up in as many news feeds as before. Posts scheduled on Facebook will have the best chance for visibility.

Is it fair? Not if you use a scheduler. Does it make sense from Facebook’s standpoint? Sure. Why give people who are not even visiting Facebook the same advantage as those who do?

So, as the slideshow below explains, the tradeoff becomes the convenience and analytical tools of schedulers versus the impact of Facebook.



As if to further reinforce my previous post - Facebook is down this morning. Don’t panic and whatever you do - don’t make any sudden face to face contact with your customers and colleagues!

Online vs. Face to Face

Much of the social media hype these days promotes the idea that social media interaction has supplanted other forms of interaction with clients, guests and colleagues.

So is it true? Does social media trump in person conversation, or vice versa? It’s not an either/or answer. It’s about taking the time to develop all your avenues of communication so that your audience of clients and colleagues is hearing from you with consistency and authenticity.

My experience is that all these forms including social media, traditional marketing (advertising and public relations), phone calls and face to face, are important.  Successful businesses must excel in all of them to really connect and establish durable relationships with their intended audiences.

Not only that, but those professionals who are personable in their face to face and phone interactions also tend to have engaging personalities online. Conversely, those who tend to shy away from personal interaction in their business are also more reluctant to engage people online.

I’ve seen real-world examples of businesses who were great at reaching out via social media only to leave clients cold during face-to-face interaction. No amount of blogging, posting or tweeting will overcome this. Online interaction may give businesses the chance to learn about grievances or bad experiences and provide them with the opportunity to turn things around, but the goal is to deliver great service so as to not need to do this in the first place.

In other words: you can’t hide from your reluctance to pursue face-to-face interactions just by being friendly online.

It’s too simple to diagnose this as and introvert, extrovert issue. You don’t have to be chatty and hyper social to successfully engage with people. It’s all about conversation and successful businesses have professionals with emotional intelligence and a willingness to listen and respond with empathy and honesty. Be real, be understanding and put your best foot forward both in person and online.

It’s no surprise that I’m a big believer in the power of social media to expand your reach and engage your audience, but consistency of tone and personality are the key regardless of the platforms you choose. Likes and reposts won’t be replacing smiles and handshakes anytime soon.

Downvalley Thought turned 1 today!  Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me!

Downvalley Thought turned 1 today!  Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me!

iOS 7 - Great Update!

Just a quick note to say I’m enjoying iOS 7 on my phone. The interface is slick and looks great. I’m still getting accustomed to it and exploring how the updated apps work. I’m going to love the automatic updating of apps. No more messages to constantly update!

For me, Apple still makes the phone that I want most to use. I don’t need a larger screen than I already have, and I appreciate being able to stow my phone in a pants pocket that doesn’t look ridiculously huge. Always having an 8 megapixel camera in my pocket doesn’t hurt either.

No I just need Apple to open up Siri to third parties so I can ask my phone what time the next bus arrives!

The Big Picture - or Why Does Social Media Matter?

Social media and blogging take some time, there’s no denying it. Why should someone invest the time when they’re busy running a business? 

It all comes down to getting noticed and making your business stand out from the crowd. There are lots of real estate professionals in the Valley, all eager to buy and sell homes. They’re all advertising, all making phone calls and all working connections every day.

What they’re not all doing is creating a presence for themselves online. They probably have websites but they’re not deploying them properly. They’re missing an opportunity to drive traffic to their website and generate new leads.

90% of people online in the U.S. now use the Internet to search for things instead of the yellow pages. 67% of them use Google.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – a.k.a. the whole point of this social media stuff

Long story short, the more blogging and social media you do, the more Google notices and rewards you by bumping you up their rankings.

The more your website and your blog posts take advantage of keywords like “snowmass real estate” and “aspen homes for sale,” the more Google rewards you and bumps you up.  The more times Google (or Bing or Yahoo) notices that you’re using those terms in your posting in a natural way, the better off you are in that people looking for “snowmass real estate” are going to find you more easily.

Okay – so what should I talk about?

Should I only talk about keyword topics directly connected to my business?  Not always. Your range of topics can be much broader. If you do choose to focus on your main keyword topics add a sentence or two with those keywords in those posts.

Hear are some ideas from a recent salesforce.com blog post:

The idea is to establish that you are a trustworthy, relatable person with experience who stands ready to help people.

Posting – it can be short and sweet!

Posting does not mean writing the great American novel. It just means coming up with a couple of short paragraphs on something you think your clients would find interesting, amusing and/or noteworthy. 

For instance, if you work in the local real estate industry, the Aspen Times just ran a story recently about occupancy rates in Snowmass:

“More people stayed in Snowmass Village in June than in the same month last year, and they paid more per night’s stay, as well.”

One to two paragraphs with your thoughts on this article along with a link to the Times article and you’re all set.  You could even keep it as short as one sentence saying, “Glad to see things are busy in town!” 

Where should I post? – What goes where?

The answer to this is your blog on your website. Why? Because this is where you want people to come to read what you’ve written.

 What about all those other Social Media places like Facebook and LinkedIn?

 Now that you have your own blog right on your homepage, you will use those places to spread the word about what you’ve just written and direct people back to your website using a link to the post. Those over 300 contacts you have on LinkedIn? Each of them will see that you’ve written something and be encouraged to visit your site to read it in full.  If they like it, they’ll share it and create an even larger audience for you (one possibly containing future clients!)


Want to conquer a new skill? Then do it every day because:
On average, an action becomes an “automatic” habit after 66 days of doing.
The subconscious mind rebels against big changes, but you can woo it with gradual shifts.
The more familiar a task is, the less scary it is.


Want to conquer a new skill? Then do it every day because:

  • On average, an action becomes an “automatic” habit after 66 days of doing.
  • The subconscious mind rebels against big changes, but you can woo it with gradual shifts.
  • The more familiar a task is, the less scary it is.