Lorie’s List – 9/9/2016

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And I’m back with another addition of Lorie’s List! This one is pretty short and sweet because I wanted to tell you about two new websites I came across this week that you’ve got to know about. One is business related and the other is writing related. If your business is writing then I suppose they’re both business, so I stand corrected. Regardless – on to the websites.Person on computer with smart phone and notebook

  • getrecommended.com – I learned about this site during a freelance usability project I did earlier this week, and I’ll tell you I found something I was really excited about. The site is built to be an virtual word of mouth – a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook – where you talk about the business your do and recommendations from people that have used your products or services. It’s still somewhat early days for Aaron and the team at getrecommended.com, but I see a lot of potential here! After talking to Aaron and hearing about some of the things they’re working on I think this could be huge!woman-865111_960_720
  • Inkitt.com – I stumbled across this a few days ago when I heard they were sponsoring a writing contest. They company helps get authors published, I won’t go into the details, but it’s based on algorithms to determine what’s getting the most hits and what is most likely to sell. Right now they’re sponsoring a novel writing contest that will see three finalists get their books published, a professional cover, and money for marketing. The books will also be presented to bigger companies for additional distribution – which could be huge if one of the companies pick up the book!

I would love to know what you think about both of these sites. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

4 Ideas to Make Storytelling Easier

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I’ve gotten some questions recently about storytelling, and I thought I wold share some of the discussion with everyone. First, let me clarify what I mean about storytelling.

Old Typewriter

Tips for telling your story

To me, storytelling can be anytime you’re telling people something. That could be in the traditional sense like a novel or autobiography, or in a marketing sense like a marketing or social media campaign. Instructional design, script writing and video production as well as content development can all fall under storytelling – you’re trying to share information or persuade someone by telling someone something. I look at all these things as storytelling because it puts you more in the mind of getting your information out in a creative and/or interesting way that is more likely to hold interest and make an impact.

With that out of the way,  let’s look at 4 ideas (and a bonus tip) that will hopefully make storytelling easier for you.

  1. Who cares? I know, everyone should care about what you have to say. Unfortunately, that’s not actually true. So ask yourself, who am I telling this story to? Who is going to care from the first word, and who do I want to make care? Spend a few minutes thinking about the audience the piece is for and what you want them to take away from the story your telling.
    Old photo from New Your Times Newsroom of reporters working, on phone and reading

    These guys might care….

    I know that’s the first step in any kind of writing, but too often I see people trying to tell a story, market something or teach something taking a shotgun approach – spreading the information as thin as you can to try to reach as many people as possible. The majority of the time that only makes the story boring and too diluted to have the impact you want.

  2. Watch your language. It’s no secret that when people write for business they write more formally, it’s what we’ve all been taught. But, that’s not always the best option. You need to look at the audience and the story you’re telling. If you’re talking about profit and loss margins something more formal is probably the best choice. If you’re talking about a client’s theme park or telling people about the time you were having such a run of bad luck that your left shoe fell down a sewer grate and you never saw it again, you probably want to be a little more informal.

    What do I mean by informal? Using contractions for one. A lot of people seem to have issues using contractions in their writing, and that quickly makes everything more formal. Word choice is important too! Using slang can also be a big help in making what you’re writing more approachable. If your writing a young adult (YA) romance novel and say, “Would you like to go spend time at the local shopping complex?” versus, “Do you want to go hang out at the mall?” your reader is going to feel like they’re reading a text book – and chances are if they’re reading a YA romance novel they probably get enough of text books in their daily lives and won’t give your novel the time of day.

  3. Let your Medium guide you. I’m not talking about Madam Elaine, Psychic to the
    office-620817_1920

    Let your medium Guide you!

    Masses, I’m talking about the medium you’re using to tell the story. Are you telling your story verbally or in writing? Are you doing a slide show presentation or blog post? Consider the length of time or space you have to tell the story. Shorten or expand as necessary.

  4.  Say it out loud! One of the easiest and fastest ways to check on how your story sounds is to read it out loud to yourself. Listen to how it sounds. Does it sound too formal? Not formal enough? Is there a sentence that’s hard to understand when you hear it? Is it something that is easy to understand and hit the notes you’re looking to hit? The answers to questions like these will tell you a lot about the writing style you used for the piece (or your writing style in general) and the how others will hear it – even when they read to themselves most of your audience will be hearing their voice saying the words so in a way they are hearing it out loud.

    Bonus TIP! Reverse it! If you’re worried that your writing style or speaking style is too formal and you want to work on that, start verbally rather than in writing. This especially works well if you’re telling your life stories. Record yourself telling the story verbally before you start to write. Listen to it carefully. What do you notice about how you tell the story? Is your word choice different than when you write? Are your sentences shorter? Do you use a storytelling voice that is warm and approachable? Keep these things in mind when you start to write and see the difference it can make in the final product!

I would love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me know what you think of the post and what tips or ideas you have to make storytelling easier!

Marketing, Strategy and Storytelling

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English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s so easy to get bogged down in what we have to do every day that we can lose sight of the story we’re telling. I’m not talking about your social media strategy or your marketing strategy. Hopefully you’ve put that marketing plan in action and things are buzzing along. I’m talking about the thread that ties it all together.  I’m talking about the story you’re telling about your organization through your marketing.

 

Everything from your logo, to your letter head, to the voice you use when you tweet are part of the story you tell about your organization. When was the last time you sat back and looked at the story your telling? Does the story coming from your Twitter feed match the story being told by your website? Does it match the story being told by your brochures?

 

Everything doesn’t have to match perfectly, but they should seem like they’re being told by the same people. The stories should have the feeling of organization. Your stories should propel the messages from your marketing plan. They should help the audience feel like they know the organization no matter where they see it.

 

Take a moment for an objective look at the stories you’re telling. Make the most of the stories and you’ll be making the most of each of your outreach opportunities.

 

 

 

Being Yourself and Your Brand

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I think that most of us trying to create a brand can become so focused on the image we’re trying to project that it become easy to lose focus on the person behind it. It’s pretty easy to find social media ninjas and marketing experts who are making a big effort to prove just how different they are, unfortunately most of them are going about it in similar fashions. Not that I’m knocking anyone, it’s just what happens.

Someone has a great new idea and then people adapt the idea, then people adapt that idea, and then someone adapts that idea…and suddenly the idea isn’t so great or new any more. It happened with slap bracelets in school back in the day. It happens with clever marketing ideas and internet memes today.

The sad part is that when people try to be part of what they think people want to see they tend to forget to be themselves. It’s like when you find yourself working at a big company with a distinct corporate culture, eventually most people start to dress, behave and generally conform to the corporate culture. It’s what’s expected if you want to get ahead. The same thing is happening online – people want to be one of the cool kids and style themselves after the gurus and ninjas that they think will help them make money, win contracts, get followers (or all the above) and the leave out the part that makes them unique.

Sometimes the best thing we have going for us is that we’re one of a kind, especially in a world where there are a thousand people who are online promoting themselves for doing the same thing. It’s what’s unique about us that sets us apart. That’s something to embrace, not hide!

It’s what I’m going to try to do a bit better. I realize, my loyal little band of readers, have expanded past the days when there were ones of you reading on a regular basis. I know you’re reading. You’re still not commenting but I do know you’re reading. But I do solemnly swear that I will try to remember to be uniquely me in the things I do.

On the Occasion of a Milestone Birthday

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Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

It’s not the number of candles, it’s the story they tell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve reached a milestone birthday and, as so many of us do, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I haven’t necessarily come up with any great epiphanies, but I’ve been reminded how much I love to tell stories. I’ve realized how much I miss the rush I get from doing creative things for me and how sad it is that I don’t make much time to do creative things for myself.

I’ve thought a lot about telling stories. I see and hear people talk about the best ways to tell stories using social media, video and marketing. And, most of the time they’re telling us why they’re experts. I guess part of the reason I wanted to write this blog was to some how give the impression that I was one of those “experts.” But it’s occurred to me over the last few weeks that the people who are telling the best stories in the mediums I care most about don’t really have time to talk about what experts, gurus or ninjas they are – they’re too busy out there being amazing.

I’ve decided I want to spend a little more time out there trying to be more amazing and less time trying to convince people I’m some sort of expert. What does it mean for the blog? I’m not sure – probably that I’ll focus more on the art of story telling and less on the mediums, but we’ll see. I believe in the power of words, and that any message from marketing to training can be made stronger by rooting it a good story.

Should you feel so inclined to give me a present, let it be this – tell a story today. When someone asks you how your day went don’t just give them a laundry list, tell them a story. A funny memory cross your mind? Write it down (I’d love it if you shared in comments below)! Tell a child a story from your childhood, something funny, something sad, it doesn’t matter. For my Big Birthday, tell a story.

Telling stories is universal. It brings us closer and makes us feel connected. So as a move forward into another decade I’m doing it with an eye on with making a great story. Here’s to a new chapter!

Going Viral – It’s Not As Easy as Catching a Cold

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Over the last couple of years I’ve seen and heard a lot of people talking about wanting to “go viral” – you know having their video or marketing plan take off and get millions of hits, likes or retweets almost over night. I’ve seen people ask how to get their videos to go viral. I’ve seen people post ads looking for someone who can take their company’s marketing plan and make it go viral. I’ve also seen people try to explain, some of them very eloquently, that it’s not that easy. Here’s my take on it.

Looking through a microscope

Looking for the answers to “viral” content.

Going viral is a lot harder than it looks. It’s not like a cold virus where you know what the cause is and the things you can do to avoid it (or catch it if you’re into that). A virus can spread quickly through an office or a home, so can viral content. The difference is the virus likes everyone, viral  content is dependent on people liking it.

Yes, you can do some research and find similarities between things that go viral, and develop an equation for “viral” but it can’t take into account that certain spark. That something that makes people connect with the content. Viral content is like that person who just has something about them that draws people to them – you can’t put your finger on what it is, you just know it’s there.

Most viral content has something new or fresh about it. It often has an emotional aspect that people can connect with. Or it could be something funny (this is probably the most difficult to define or copy because the harder most people try to be funny the less they are). What goes viral today may not work on any other day, which is why I think some videos are posted for months or even years before it suddenly strikes a chord with people. Viral content depends on the moods, likes, dislikes, wants, needs, loves, hates, strengths, weaknesses and more of millions of people lining up exactly right.

I know there are people out there who are willing to sell you the secret to going viral. They make all kinds of promises. They offer workshops, seminars and emailed advice for an amazing low price.  But if you read the fine print, they don’t guarantee anything. They know there are too many intangibles to viral content to make you a guarantee you’ll go viral. Sure they might have some great ideas, but that doesn’t translate to viral content. It’s just like anything else, if they’re making you promises about viral content that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So how do you go viral? Honestly, I don’t know. I think you develop content that appeals to you and your audience. Work on your message. Make it fun and interesting or the people you’re trying to communicate with. If you’re lucky you’ll find that magical something that catches hold of people like a new virus sweep the world.

5 Reasons to Catch Pinterest Fever!

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Red Pinterest logo

Just in case you’re one of the last few people who hasn’t heard of Pinterest yet, you just may want to check it out. It’s been described as everything from “On-line crack for women” to on-line inspirations boards. I’ve spent a bit of time there, and some time reading about what people are saying. While I’m reluctant to jump on the bandwagon of the latest-greatest-everyone-is-doing-it trend, I have to agree that this could really change things for both social media and marketing. Oh yea, and it’s fun too.

So here are 5 reasons why I think you should be on Pinterest:

  1. It’s visual! I am a visual person. I like to have pictures or videos showing me things, and I’m not alone. People in general are becoming more visual which makes Pinterest the perfect social media tool because it’s all about the pictures. There’s are place for descriptions, but there’s rarely much information attached. The images take center stage and are like candy for the visual person.
  2. Instant gratification! There are always more things to see. Hit the button for more pins and you get MORE PINS!
  3. It opens your mind! Even if you never really thought about your sense of style before, you will now. You’ll quickly find yourself gravitating to some things and not others. You’ll see a lamp that you just have to buy right beside a dress you wouldn’t be caught dead in. And it is all awesome. I’ve found myself looking at things I thought I liked differently because I’m seeing them beside something I never thought of before. It can be a challenge and exciting at the same time. Word of advice: Don’t judge other people’s tastes, just enjoy the ride.
  4. Crowd sourcing your marketing! There are some organizations doing great things on Pinterest, and a lot of them are colleges and universities. The easiest way is to set up an account for your organization and create some boards. Add & pin just a few of your own images to start with, then search for what other people are pinning about you and add them to your boards. Other people are searching for and pinning the pictures, so it’s like they’re doing the hard work for you.
  5. Make it make sense to you! There’s so much information out there and it’s constantly coming at us while we’re left trying to make sense of it all. Most social media gives you one view, maybe two, and that’s how you see everything. At Pinterest, you can make different boards and pin whatever you want to them. They don’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Tell your visuals story the way you want and in a way that works for you.

There are some concerns with the privacy and copyright permissions at Pinterest, and they have made some changes to policies recently. Do a little Google digging to get different opinions on the subject.

Have you tried out Pinterest? What are your thoughts?