IAN GREENLEIGH

Author | Marketer | Speaker

I help companies turn data, ideas and relationships into reach and influence. 

Utility, inner thoughts, creating online conversation, and more

The final cover! Click for the full version. The best ideas in content marketing are connected by a simple imperative:  be helpful, or be ignored. Utility is hard to drown out. I touch on this imperative in my book in the section “How to make yourself indispensible with social media.”

It’s odd how difficult it can be to follow one’s own advice sometimes. It would be so easy to fill this blog with barely disguised appeals to buy the book. But that approach only serves my interests, and for you to subscribe, stay subscribed—and hopefully, buy the book—I need to serve your interests.

I’ve posted many useful sections of the book online already, so I’m thinking of other ways to serve the interests of my readers. Today I’m going to try one idea I picked up from David Armano, who turns Quora answers into blog posts. I think the approach is brilliant, frankly. By answering questions within my area of expertise on Quora, I’m building credibility on that platform. Then, by posting those answers to my blog, I’m exposing that helpfulness to a wider audience and repurposing the content for another use—one that’s ultimately closer to my goal of building up a readership interested in buying books. And hopefully, the answers are useful to you. If they are, please upvote them on Quora.

Want more personalized social media or content marketing guidance from me? Register for Quora if you haven’t already. Post a question, then use the Ask to Answer feature to request an answer from me. I’ll post some of the questions and answers here. Alternatively, just email me your question. So, here goes nothing.

Question: “What does the average work day look like for a Social Media Marketer?”

My answer:

There are so many variables, but here are some of the major elements:

  • Content creation (copywriting, image sourcing)
  • Planning (strategies, scheduling, content sourcing from internal and external groups)
  • Responding (addressing customer service issues, praise, other mentions)
  • Outreach (working with influencers, prospects, existing customers)
  • Reporting (monitoring your progress, justifying your efforts)
  • Optimization (using data to do things better)

Question: “Do you use twitter to express your inner thoughts? And why?”

My answer:

Yes, within reason. Actually, my handle (be3d) is shorthand for my Twitter philosophy, "be three-dimensional." I think individuals like to meet and interact with other individuals on Twitter--they prefer the genuine article, the quirks, the entire package. There is a warmth to a genuine Twitter presence that invites conversation, and expressing one's "inner thoughts," provided that they aren't vulgar or roundly objectionable, is a winning strategy.

Question: “How do you get your users engaged in an online conversation?”

My answer:

The first step is to make the conversation about your users, not about you. This is simple, but it's probably the number one thing companies get wrong. What connects your users/fans/prospects is so much bigger than your brand. What do they love, and love to talk about? The second step is to connect them to each other. If you can go beyond starting and chiming into conversations, but play the role of a true connector and facilitator, conversations will naturally start between people that share interests, goals, proximity, etc.

Question: “Do you think it's easier to engage with influencers using a personal social account or a company/brand specific account?”

Personal. In my experience, people like interacting with people. They don't like ambiguity in communications. They value being able to address, say a response, to an individual, not a corporate entity. They prefer to help people, not the companies they work for. There's also an important element of accountability: a claim or offer can be traced back to an individual.

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Social media bubbles

Flickr CC photo credit: user placbo [This is an advance excerpt from The Social Media Side Door, now available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N]

Social media is a landscape that can only be navigated through relationships.

The fact that our access to people and information is now instant and global (or universal, taking into account Curiosity’s Foursquare check-in on Mars and tweets from the International Space Station) is a testament to the power of relationships.

News of the Arab Spring reached most people by way of the ripple effect across overlapping social circles: I follow Tyler, but I don’t follow Tariq. Tyler retweets Tariq, and now Tariq has entered my social circle. If I want to follow him and engage with him, I can make his place within that circle more permanent.

Even news organizations on Twitter are now in the habit of retweeting first-person sources, rather than providing their own content—this is a convenient way of getting to stories quickly while placing the responsibility for veracity on the original sources. Those original sources enter your stream, and thus your social circle, only because someone you choose to follow has chosen to relay them to you as part of her audience.

Ever see a bubble split into two bubbles? It’s like that in reverse. That's the real "social media bubble."

Spending time with speakers on the social media conference circuit, one often sees a big difference between their social media and in-person interactions. Though this is an effect that is present in our society in general today, it’s especially apparent in this circle. The most digitally outgoing people can seem reserved at mixers; folks who are “all business” online will often show an edgier side at group dinners. This isn’t disingenuous; it’s a reflection of a new reality in which social media helps us to grow into the people we want to be. People who get tongue-tied or sheepish but want to change themselves for the better can start with their social media selves, where it’s much easier to begin. It makes you wonder what skills are transferring from the digital realm to other areas of life. Does tweeting to thousands of followers every day make a person more comfortable speaking to a crowd of a few hundred strangers? Do a person’s interactions in social media make that person’s everyday encounters a little easier?

In my life the answer has been yes, and I know I’m not alone. Social media, then, is aspirational. It can help you become a better version of yourself.

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When Big Social came to town

Big Social Woe to those that underestimate the power of Big Social.

I’ve seen the expression “wake the beast” used a lot in reference to social media, but the expression never fit—you can’t “wake” something that never sleeps, or more accurately, has never slept.

Social media has been big, powerful, and constantly active for a long time. It’s a largely passive landscape, in which a tiny minority of users actively participates, while the vast majority of users “lurk.” But the concentrations of activity can spring up organically, as when something goes viral, or they can be predictable, like the spike in tweets on US Election Day and during the World Cup.

It’s much more difficult to manufacture such activity levels, and harder still to concentrate that activity and direct it into real progress against a shared goal. In their short history, social media “victories” have been more accident than alignment, more carpet bomb than precision strike.

One of these corporate apology excerpts is not like the others:

Gap:

At Gap brand, our customers have always come first. We’ve been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So we’ve made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all channels.

Netflix:

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

GoDaddy:

We have observed a spike in domain name transfers, which are running above normal rates and which we attribute to GoDaddy’s prior support for SOPA. Go Daddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities. Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time.

The first two apologies (Gap and Netflix, respectively) respond to the raw power of social media. Dissent gone viral, reaching a fever pitch. A familiar kind of outcry.

The third (GoDaddy) responds to something new. I call it Big Social.

Big Social is self-aware. It knows the extent of its access. It understands the influence it wields. It has learned how to carry itself with confidence, and how to direct fire with pinpoint precision.

It has a new set of expectations, and both corporations and political institutions are in its sights.

Political institutions, generally the enemies of access, are no longer able to ignore the role of social media in providing access to power and information. “I think we’ve seen really interesting early days here, but if we’re talking about networked democracy, you have to remember that it’s just in its infancy,” says Alex Howard, Washington correspondent with O’Reilly Radar.

Policy makers, particularly government officials and staffers, are overwhelmed by the incoming flood of messages as it is. That’s something that became quite apparent when email entered the picture in the nineties, and then the growth of other kinds of communications since then has only accelerated that. As some people have pointed out, notably Clay Johnson, what Congress actually needs is to grow bigger ears to be able to listen to all of that, and to know who in that huge amount of incoming requests, ideas, feedback, etc., are their constituents—the people that they are supposed to represent.

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America’s next top influencer

The measurement standard that just won't die. Flickr CC credit: adoephoto The democratization of influence, and the falling costs of audience acquisition, can actually work in companies’ favor. Social media has created an army of citizen influencers—otherwise normal individuals that wield huge social footprints and outsized influence. They discuss and review films, music, products, and everything under the sun. They have earned the uncompensated attention of thousands of subscribers, fans, and followers who tune in by choice—not because they have no other choice. Advertisers have traditionally measured their ads’ effectiveness, in part, by how many sets of eyeballs they reached (for many companies, this is also the primary means by which they attempt to evaluate social media efforts). But eyeballs that are there because they want to be there—interested eyeballs—are much more valuable. Consumers don’t need any prodding to tell each other what they’re buying, using, and wanting to buy. Brands are a big part of how people view themselves, and how people want others to view them. All consumers, to some degree, see the brands they purchase as a reflection of who they are, but Millennials take this association to another level entirely. Edelman Digital found that Millennials are likelier to share brand preference online than any other personal identifier—including religion and race. This generation feels empowered, too. The same study reveals a strong sense of self-importance unique to the Millennials:

We also found that 76 percent of Millennials think they are highly depended on for their opinions.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it

During one my more colorful phases, I took to smoking an old-fashioned tobacco pipe (maybe it made me feel more like a writer?). Problem was, packing a pipe that stays lit for more than a few minutes is more difficult than it looks to the novice. I could have driven the mile and a half back to the tobacconist and sheepishly asked him how to actually make use of the tobacco he sold me, but stubborn pride prevented me. Naturally, I took my query to the web. On YouTube I found hundreds of videos, giving me exactly what I was after. I sorted by popularity and went through the top three at my own pace (all were in the hundreds of thousands of views), positively over the moon that I was able to learn this way, instead of having to request the tutelage of the grizzled tobacconist in front of all the good ol’ boys that hung around the shop. The guys in the videos used different brands of tobacco, and they either talked about why they favored their brand, or the tin labels were clearly in the shot. After combining some of the finer points of all three pipe-packing methods, I visited the tobacconist again, and bought several of the brands featured in the videos that helped me most. These video stars weren’t compensated by the brands they featured, and it’s doubtful that they even received the products for free. They were just sharing what they knew, and what they liked, in a way that helped hundreds of thousands of people who were just starting to develop habits and brand loyalties that may stick for life. I still wonder, how many tins of tobacco were sold as a direct result of these homemade videos? And do these brands have any idea about the videos, and what they’ve done for their brands?

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When reality shines through, consumers discover their superpowers

Hi, readers. Before you dig into this excerpt, I wanted to let you know about a few things I’ve done recently. I wrote a guest post for Brian Solis called “The diffusion of brand, ownership, and experience.”  It’s pretty high-level, but I think you’ll dig it. Also, I interviewed Don Tapscott, author of Macrowikinomics, Grown Up Digital, and Wikinomics. Lastly, I was featured in a short video about consumers realizing the value of their own data, which I embedded at the end of this post, since it’s very much related. That’s all for now. Enjoy the excerpt!

Consumers have escaped the channels that marketers built for them. Before the internet and social media, if we wanted information about a product before purchasing it, or about a company before doing business with it (or working for it), our options were severely limited. If our friends and family had no experience with what we were considering, and journalists weren’t covering it, print, TV, in-store and radio ads filled in the rest. In other words, marketers accessed consumers while consumers accessed content. Businesses were able to minimize the extent to which off-brand and unflattering messages reached consumers. They owned or rented almost all of the real estate in the media landscape, and they perfected the art of wooing a captive consumer audience. The internet, social media, and smart mobile devices gave consumers new avenues of access to information.

Reality began to intrude on the space previously occupied by squeaky-clean marketing facades—consumers were talking to each other, finding alternatives to overpriced or ineffective products, pouring sunlight on business practices that were previously hidden. They began to trust the opinions of total strangers more than the words of advertisers. Some consumer cohorts, like the Millennials (Generation Y), began to trust total strangers more than their own friends and family.

Consumers today can choose where and how to access information and communicate. One’s immediate circle rarely holds all the answers, and for the first time ever, it's easy to find answers outside of that circle. Not all of the information is accurate; much of the content shared and created lacks substance or is plainly offensive; many consumer complaints are unfounded. But as a whole, we see consumers exercising options that are themselves new—as if all around the world, we’re discovering new superpowers and we’re excitedly learning to use them.

People being born today are digital and social natives, but perhaps more importantly, they are the first fully-empowered generation of consumers. What will they do with their new superpowers, with their new-found access and influence? We’re just beginning to find out, and luckily for those of us who study this kind of thing and businesses that are looking for new avenues to growth, the results are constantly coming in, billions of data points at a time.

Charles Angoff said, “History is a symphony of echoes heard and unheard.” The present and future are symphonies of data.

 

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Companies have egos, too.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/facebook/status/58314826061058048"] [box title="Note"] This is an advance excerpt from The Social Media Side Door, my book about the ways social media has rewritten the rules of access and influence. Subscribe to receive more excerpts, tips, and side door strategies.[/box]

In my job as a B2B marketer, access is the name of the game. It’s what everyone’s after, at first. Our job is to create great content that gets people to engage with us, or to create that “positive familiarity” that warms up the call from the salesperson. We’re going for that moment of recognition: “Oh yeah, I know you guys. You put out that video about the future of the Facebook-enabled toaster oven. Sure, let’s talk.” Or something like that. The same forces are at work with business-to-consumer companies, too, except it’s the familiarity is geared to influence the moment of a consumer’s decision, whether online or in the aisles. One of the best ways to gain access to prospects is to write about their industry and challenges, and to mention their companies in the content.  It’s a strange thing to say, but companies have egos, too. This angle shouldn’t be used wantonly, or in every piece of content you put out, but it does work when the tactic is used in a way that doesn’t alienate the rest of your audience for the sake of that single prospect. It also works well with existing clients.

A few years ago, I attended a conference in Las Vegas. It was the first conference I attended while working for Bazaarvoice, and I was going, in part, to prove to my then boss that conferences could help generate great content that would have an impact on the business. Normally, we’d only send salespeople or product marketers with deep knowledge of the technical side of our products (not a content guy like me).  In retrospect, I’m a little embarrassed about how little I knew about what Bazaarvoice actually did at that point, but for some reason I didn’t think I would be put on the spot about it. When I arrived, I saw that one of our clients was presenting. This was a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 company, and yet our relationship with them wasn’t very mature yet—that’s marketing-speak for they weren’t using many of our products, and we weren’t getting paid very much (relative to their market cap).  Fortunately, the topic was interesting to me, and I thought it would be interesting to our blog’s readers as well. I sat anonymously in the audience and took notes. I didn’t know the presenters, and I didn’t have time to introduce myself before the next session.

Later that week, back in Austin, I posted a recap of that session to our blog. I had a few back-to-back meetings, and when I got back to my desk, I saw that Bazaarvoice had been mentioned a few hundred times on Twitter in the space of two hours (this doesn’t happen often). The tweets were from employees and divisions of the company whose session I wrote about. That alone may have been enough to secure me a ticket to the next conference of my choice in the eyes of my then boss. Then I checked the traffic to the post. Through the roof—more traffic that day than any I could recall seeing, ever. A new email notification popped up on my screen, from the salesperson assigned to the account. He had forwarded me a thread that was sent to me by his internal champion at the company. It showed the extent to which the post I had written had wound its way through some of the highest levels of this organization. People there were proud that their colleagues had done so well in their presentation, and it made the company look really progressive. The last message in the thread was a note from our internal champion to our salesperson, thanking us for the coverage, asking if they could set up a meeting soon to talk about expanding the relationship.

This event recap model worked wonders for us again, a few times. After a Facebook executive spoke at our annual conference, I wrote a post about the ideas within his talk. I never directly sent him the link, but within a few hours of publication, our site's servers were on the brink. Facebook, which (humorously) has a Twitter account with over 5 Million followers, tweeted the piece and posted it to its own Facebook wall. It was one of the highest traffic days in Bazaarvoice history. Companies have egos, and that’s great news for marketers.

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How to appeal to the ego to get someone's attention

Appeal to the ego The quickest way onto someone’s radar is through their ego, to reimagine that old phrase about the connection between heart and stomach. We like to surround ourselves with people that make us feel good about ourselves. Hollywood stars have their entourages, but those of us a bit closer to Earth start relationships with people that reinforce our self-image. There’s nothing inherently bad about having an ego and doing things in service of it (as I've written elsewhere, “the concept of ego really gets a bum rap”). Whenever we praise and compliment, bestow awards and recognition, quote, link to, retweet, or even merely follow someone, we are dealing with their ego, intentionally or otherwise. But appealing to another’s ego can be a perfectly tasteful and legitimate way of advancing our own interests. Consider the following two requests:

  1. “Could you meet me for an hour each week to discuss my career trajectory, give me expert advice when I need it, and serve as a reference when I’m looking for a new job?”
  2. “I’m really inspired by your success, and I’d love to follow in your footsteps. I’d be honored if you would act as my mentor and work with me to help me shine, too. It should take no more than an hour a week.”

Most people would be more likely to accept the second request, because it paints the same activities as an extension of their personal success, instead of a request for work with no pay, which is the way a cynic might describe it. This concept applies incredibly well to the world of social. It’s hard to believe at times, but the best way to start a relationship with someone that has hardly noticed you yet is to ask for something. The perfect access-granting request is for something that is low effort on their end, of significant value on your end, and…

  • Makes them feel good about themselves
  • Makes them look good to others
  • Is public-facing (like a quote)
  • Helps them, even in a small way, get more of what they’re after (like publicity)

Not all of these conditions need to be met to make the request successful. A lot of it depends on the context, the person’s familiarity with you and/or your work, and the person’s view of themselves. All of the conditions above offer something called “ego capital,” which is the element that makes something appeal to the ego. Almost anything can be made more powerful with the help of ego capital: marketing, sales, job searches, even relationships. There’s an important distinction between ego capital and flattery. One of the more common definitions of flattery is “insincere or excessive praise;” in other words something that is over the top by its very nature. (That’s the definition evident in the famous idiom, “flattery will get you nowhere.”) Ego capital may harness the same dynamics, but it can be used in a tasteful, genuine manner—unlike its flamboyant cousin, flattery. Flattery is ego capital gone wild.

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The social media backchannel

The social media backchannel [box title="Note"] This is an advance excerpt from The Social Media Side Door, my book about the ways social media has rewritten the rules of access and influence. Subscribe to receive more excerpts, tips, and side door strategies.[/box]

Undercover Boss is a British-born television show with derivative versions in the US, Australia, Norway, Germany and Canada. The premise is simple: Top corporate executives go “under cover” as low-level employees to “examine the inner workings of their companies.” Filled with front-lines revelations, tough lessons, and buckets of tears, the executives leave their adventures in the real world with a new understanding of the day-to-day realities of the people that keep their companies humming. There’s something special about the show, as evidenced by the US version’s Emmy nomination and the fact that it “ranks as the biggest new series premier since 1987,” according to CBS.

The experience is often very humbling. The C-suiters routinely appear inept at performing simple tasks, or clueless about things like how their products are actually made. But if we’re to take them at their word, it’s all worth it. Why?

There are financial awards for companies appearing on the show. Essentially, the companies profiled are getting free advertising during prime time to the tune of more than $12,000,000, as one estimate suggests. Another analysis shows that many of the companies see a stock performance bump after appearing on the show. But a lot of the “free advertising” is unflattering, and it seems unlikely that the share price spike is a safe enough bet for the TV appearance to be calculated for this potential benefit.

No, these big shots are looking for something else: an escape from the echo chamber. Like Shakespeare’s King Henry V, who donned a disguise to walk among the his soldiers and get the unvarnished truth about their readiness for the next day’s battle, many powerful people know that their “10,000 foot view” of reality is colored by career-minded “yes men,” corporate groupthink, and their distance from the front lines.

Those who make important decisions based on a severely distorted reality will ultimately fail, so shrewd leaders place enormous importance on their backchannels to the truth. This is reflected in the rise of internal social networks like Yammer and Salesforce Chatter, which can facilitate enterprise-wide collaboration and that much-vaunted corporate “transparency.”  These networks serve, in part, to break down rigid siloes and chains of command that can kill great ideas before they reach someone with the authority and resources to make them happen. On Chatter, for instance, a CEO can post a question to the organization, and receive answers from employees from across the entire company, at every level in the hierarchy. And yet, at many corporations, a direct email to the CEO concerning the same exact issue would be met with a layer of administrative scrutiny in the form of his or her executive assistant, where it may join a long queue of incoming messages, or die on the vine all together.

It’s worth noting, however, that employees don’t have quite the same enthusiasm for the potential of these tools. According to a survey from Deloitte, “As it relates to management visibility, 38% of executives think social media allows for increased transparency while only 17% of employees agree.”

Taking a break from writing this chapter, I happened to check my Facebook feed. On it, a friend had reposted her friend’s request for referrals to a freelance writer. This friend of a friend was a senior marketing executive at a major American auto manufacturer. Several hopefuls posted their interest on the thread, and I added a referral to someone I had worked with. Why did this executive feel the need to post his request to Facebook, and not simply scan his company’s database of proven copywriters? I suspect he’d say that there’s a world of knowledge and talent outside of his Detroit high-rise headquarters.

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Update: Book deal!

A lot has happened in my life since I started writing The Social Side Door. I married the love of my life. I visited the beautiful island nation of St. Maarten. I helped throw a successful conference, and buried myself in a million interesting projects at work.

And now I'm ridiculously happy to announce: I have a book deal. McGraw-Hill will be releasing The Social Side Door in Fall 2013. I'm excited to join the ranks of authors like Mack Collier, Guy Kawasaki, Ric Dragon, Mark Schaefer, and so many others I respect.

There are too many people to thank in this post, but I want to make sure to let my readers know that your support helped me get here. I'll still be posting excerpts from the book, but probably not as frequently.

Because I'm in no position to dole out writing advice this early in my career, I'll leave it to someone who inspires me:

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do you have one thing that's unique. You have the ability to make art.

-Neil Gaiman, from a keynote address to The University of the Arts,  May 17, 2012.

Cheers.

The social proof imperative

Biker patches are social proof. Traditional endorsements are specific and direct; I ask for a quote from my best customers, or I pay a celebrity to pretend they like what I sell. Or when I’m looking for a job, I ask my former colleagues for references (this has been updated with the advent of LinkedIn recommendations, but it’s the same practice).

Endorsements can also be tacit and subtle, too. This is the kind of social proof that typically exists in the social Web, and it’s critical to opening up side doors. After all, an endorsement doesn’t have to be explicit.

Some of the social proof signals that people rely on for mental shortcuts—whether they admit it or not—include:

  • Number of social connections (Twitter followers, Facebook friends, etc.)
  • Mentions and links in social content (tweets, blog posts, comments, etc.)
  • Evidence of high traffic to blog or website
  • List and RSS subscribers
  • Klout score

All of these things are signals that convey information. Someone having a high number of Twitter followers or blog subscribers means, on the face of it, a lot of people care to listen to them. Social proof is the mechanism that kicks in once we see this, the feeling that we should give them our attention as well. If we were to evaluate whether or not to pay attention to someone by sifting through every social signal they emit, our social circle would necessarily be tiny.

Although they do make impressions on people, raw numbers aren’t the best indicators of importance. Subscribers, links, friends and followers can all be gamed. So can the algorithms that suck in disparate information and spit out Klout scores. The strongest signal when it comes to social proof is influence by association. This happens when someone that is already an influencer publicly engages with you. Maybe they retweet something you posted, mention you on their blog, or “love” your Instagram photo. In doing so, they pass on influence to you. Their audience is now aware of you, and aware of the fact that someone that influences them is taking the time to engage with you. If you’re on the influencer’s radar, so the mental math goes, you should be on their audience’s radar, too.

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How to use social media to get press coverage: An interview with Jaime Tardy

How to use social media to get press coverage Jaime Tardy has made a name for herself through the intelligent use of social media to attract the attention of the press. I saw her speak on the subject at Blogworld, and I knew she had more to say.

Do bloggers need to focus on SEO to be “findable” to members of the press?

I would say going after press is probably easier than being "findable", though if you are already using it as a strategy for your blog you should make sure to think about the press side of things.

Your first CNN appearance happened because of a guest post you wrote. How can people identify the blogs that reporters read to position themselves for similar opportunities?

Usually larger blogs are more likely to have members of the press. I never realized that some of the journalists I knew were reading these blogs until I went back and started to read the comments. Becoming more visible in general, like being on bigger blogs, will bring more opportunities your way.

When you interviewed David Heinemeier Hansson, founder of 37signals, he shared it on Twitter and sent a lot of people to your site, many of whom turned into subscribers. How do you recommend approaching busy people like David for an interview?

Just ask. I've asked a lot of very important people, and the vast majority have said yes. I specifically say that I can shorten the interview and work with their schedule. I also make sure to let them know how much I love their work, because it's much more than just an interview, I am a big fan of their work before I ask.

How can people use other social channels, like Twitter, to be more visible to the press?

You can start adding journalists to your feed. You can start to see what they talk about, and tweet about, and what they are looking for. That way if you do pitch to them you are more targeted. And you never know - one of them might see your site and love it.

So you've got interest from a reporter, and it looks like they’re going to include you in a story. What’s your most important next step?

If you have given them the story, you should ask when you can expect to see it. That's when you also what to see if there might be a link. Then you wait. Don't bug them, but after a reasonable amount of time (i.e., after it's supposed to be out) you can email them. Many times I found out articles came out because I looked at my Google analytics and saw traffic from it.

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How to go from blog to job (an interview with Marcy Massura)

“Blog to job” is a career path that many now aim for, but few actually experience. Marcy Massura is a prolific blogger, community manager, author, and much more. She’s a living case study on how to create social side doors in your career, and her influence keeps growing. I asked her to talk about what it takes.

What were your goals when you first started blogging? Was finding great work one of them?

When I started 5 years ago, the concept of blogging as a career was just forming, and while I was mindful to build a site that was ‘brand friendly’ it was not my first intention. I started blogging because I wanted an audience. I am a humor writer, and a former performer- and the blog platform gave me an instant audience from day one. Like all artistic and creative endeavors you have to love it first, and profit from it later.

Since you began blogging, it has become a bit of a crowded field. How would you advise today’s beginning bloggers to stand out and get noticed?

Be exceptional. Too many bloggers are busy being average, copying others and working every angle possible to get brands and agencies to notice them. But the bloggers we agency people are interested in have well written content, good photo and video skills and have strong niche communities around specific topics and genres. Those bloggers are exceptional. Secondly…and I have said this for many years now- the ultimate key to blogging success is consistency. Be consistent in everything from your publishing schedule, your content quality and your tone. Being great every once in a while is interesting, but success is built on doing something consistently well.

You’re adamant that numbers like fans and followers don’t represent actual influence. What are some other ways to signal to people that you’re worth their attention?

Well for starters we all need to acknowledge that measuring ‘influence’ is as impossible as measuring charm. You cannot actually measure something so intangible. What we can do is look to indicators that people find the person important in their world- so that often means fans and follower numbers. But we go deeper and look at the quality of those interactions to really assess the potential influence a brand or social promoter might have…so comments, tweets and conversations matter more, and are likely to be the thing to tip the scale between to equally matched bloggers. Also, the metrics for a blog site alone are only part of the story…we analyze the overall digital footprint and take into consideration every one of the blogger’s platforms. So collectively, we look to a blogger’s ‘community’ and broadcast potential- and the quality of those communities before making any decisions.

Having great content that demonstrates one’s expertise is one thing, but getting people to read it is another. What’s the most important thing you did to build your social presence?

Be everywhere. Every platform, every conference, every conversation. Be everywhere you can be in the digital space to be noticed. And before you start sending people back to your blog- be certain you have quality content there to make them want to come back again.

Barriers to entry in social media are low, so advice and tips on blogging are everywhere. What’s the single most clichéd or cringe-worthy piece of blogging advice you encounter that just seems wrong to you? 

Gosh there is so much bad advice out there! But I think the thing that makes me cringe the most is the advice I read recently telling bloggers to ‘stay on single topic’ on their sites, and it went on to say ‘if you want to talk about other topics –start another blog’. This is horrible advice! Your blog is more like a TV channel than a TV show. You can, and should have a diverse range of topics and categories. Remember the concept of blogging is that it is personality based journalism, so the connecting link- the common thread in ANY topic…IS YOU. The blogger. So you can, and should write about anything that you fancy- as long as it is written through the filter of your voice and opinion.

What’s the ideal mindset for approaching blogging as a means of earning access and influence?

Ideal mindset? Well……don’t have that mindset! If you ask a girl out on a date with the single goal and intention of marrying her- chances are you are not only going to reveal yourself as someone whose heart isn’t in it, but you will never get even close to closing that deal. Much is the same in world of blogging…you have to do it because you love it. You have to do it consistently and create excellent content because you love it. Only then might you get noticed. And you might not. Be okay with that.

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Why we still stand in line

The truth is simple. Standing in line at the front door works just often enough that we keep doing it. It doesn't matter if it has never worked for us; we've seen it work for enough people that we believe it will for us, eventually. Our culture is saturated with front-door thinking. From backbreaking SAT prep, to soul-crushing internships, to the 4,074 books found under “resume writing” on Amazon.com, we are raised from an early age to believe in the front door as the only gateway to the realization of our ambitions.

We work tirelessly on the things that open the front door just a bit wider, revise our resumes over and over, give the cold call roulette another spin, buy yet another email list. We’re so busy practicing our “line dance” at the front door, we hardly notice when someone breaks rank and walks around the corner. Sometimes we may even pity them for this—they’ve given up, quit, lost hope. But if we just peek around that corner ourselves, we’ll see them opening the social side door and walking right in.

Sunk costs and other lame excuses

Most of us—myself included—have invested thousands of hours waiting for the front door to open for us. We’ve worked incredibly hard on the things that are supposed to open it.  At a certain point, we start to think of all the resources we’ve poured into a better place in line as sunk costs. Sunk costs (and perhaps cheap whiskey) are responsible for the worst decision-making on the planet. “You’ve come this far; it will all start to pay off soon,” we’ve all told ourselves a million times. And this gives us a little endorphin boost of false hope that makes it easier to keep line dancing.

Sunk costs have a particularly powerful effect on our ability to make good choices. We tend to value what we’ve put into an effort over what we stand to gain if we abandon that effort, because we are “loss averse.” The sunk costs fallacy is also called the Concorde fallacy, after the Concorde aircraft that was jointly built by the British and French. Long after it was clear that continued development of the plane was economically unsound, both governments continued to pursue it for fear of “wasting” the funds they had already spent on it.

Somewhere, locked away in a place we’d rather not visit, is the seed of doubt. We can, in fact, choose not to compete for a place in line. Choosing to achieve the same thing in a better, faster way is not quitting—it’s winning, and it feels infinitely better than finally getting to the front of the line.

Any decision carries risks. But there’s really no reason to fear “giving up” your place in line; it’s not always an all-or-nothing gamble. Think of it as an iterative process. In v.1, you might spend half of your time pursuing alternative methods of access and influence, and the other half on more traditional methods. Depending on the results you see, v.2 may bump up the alternative methods to 75%, and minimize the traditional methods to 25%, and so on for v.3. You’ll eventually hit a tipping point at which the results from social side door seeking completely outshine the few results seen from front door methods. That’s when you jump in all the way. At that point, any time spent working the line at the front door to no avail will truly seem like time you could be spending finding the social side door, making things happen. It will be the easiest opportunity cost calculation you’ve ever made, the one you’ll kick yourself for not making years ago: boredom, idling, passivity, the familiar sting of being turned down at the gate, versus creativity, rich human interactions, and finally—finally—the kind of results you had stopped believing were possible.

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If a CEO blogs and no one comments

Sad CEO As I write this, there are 1,500 job openings listed on ThomsonReuters.com. There's exactly one comment on the latest post on Reuters CEO Tom Glocer’s personal blog--and it's spam. It’s likely that when Tom Glocer does get comments, he reads every one (he also replies on occasion). This is the CEO of a company with 55,000 employees and nearly $13 billion in annual revenue. He doesn’t tweet often, but he does reply to some of the mentions he gets (about 20 in the past 30 days). There are hardly any comments on any of the ten latest posts on The Knowledge Effect, an official Thomson Reuters blog.  In the last seven days, only three jobseekers have tweeted at @JobsWithUs, the official Thomson Reuters recruiting account. Something isn’t adding up. Where are the jobseekers?

Saatchi & Saatchi is synonymous with innovation in the agency space. They’re absurdly successful, and list “6 of the top 10 and over half of the top 50 global advertisers” as clients. They’re on your Top 10 list if you’re a recent graduate or agency jobseeker; they’re the agency you want to partner with if you’re in business development; they’re the agency you want to sell to if you sell or market to agencies. And just like Thomson Reuters, their CEO, Kevin Roberts, has his own blog. As I write this, the latest ten posts have—together—received exactly five comments. One of the comments is spam, from a user called, “hosting company.” What if it had been an intelligent, on-topic comment from someone calling their self “S&S Hopeful”? We can’t know it would have changed anything for the aspiring employee, but we do know that Kevin Roberts would have at least read it: “All comments must be approved by the blog author.”  And how many Saatchi & Saatchi jobseekers get to interact with Kevin Roberts at any stage in the hiring process? How many salespeople or marketers get to speak directly to the CEO of one of the top agencies in the world?

What would you do for the chance to ask Warren Buffet anything? According to The Wall Street Journal, “there are few prizes more coveted than the opportunity to ask Warren Buffett a question at Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders meeting.” The notoriously inaccessible titan answers 20-30 audience questions every year, and the rules have been changed several times in favor of more equitable question selection. Most recently, raffles were set up in multiple locations throughout the venue, and Fidelity Investments saw this for what it was—an open side door. Although the company “holds about $4 billion of Berkshire shares, or a roughly 2% stake in the company,” this equity alone still isn’t enough for an audience with Buffet. They sent 40 analysts, who entered several raffles each, netting this 2% stakeholder a whopping 20% of all the audience questions asked.  Other attendees found their own side doors. Both managing partners of investing house T2 Partners were able to ask Buffet questions this year, after they spotted an overflow room in which the raffle wasn’t attracting many entries. Although neither of these side doors were social in nature, their discovery—and usage—reflect exactly the kind of thinking required to uncover access opportunities in the social space. If only Buffet tweeted!

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Social media influence: active and passive access

Social media access is either active or passive, as is the resulting influence. Active access is the deliberate and direct pursuit of entry. Reaching out to someone directly through LinkedIn to request a lunch meeting is active access. Tweeting at an editor and asking them to read your proposal is active access (no, I don’t make that a habit). Active access is sometimes risky. Your cards are on the table. You’re knocking on the door and asking to be let in. It’s easy to find your approach a bit jarring or abrasive. Who is this person again? What do they want? And why are they tweeting at me? On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore someone being so direct.

Passive access is earned over time, and sometimes it’s unexpected. One of your blog readers may be organizing a conference, and thinks you’ll be a great speaker. The event’s attendees are exactly the kind of people you’re trying to get in front of. Passive access is like being invited in, as opposed to requesting an invite. It’s built through steady engagement with decision-makers and the people they trust, and is focused on making true contributions before making any self-interested requests.

But you don’t have to choose between active and passive access. They aren’t mutually exclusive; they’re actually quite complimentary. The trick is to build pathways from passive access to active access. Start with a passive approach, earning mindshare and influence, until you feel confident that whoever you’re reaching out to directly will know who you are, and will want to help you out. If you’ve been given more than you’ve been taking at that point—sharing or creating great content, helping them spread their ideas, engaging with them on a regular basis—your direct approach will seem like a natural next step, and you’ll get more of their attention and consideration.

This is how I started talking to Seth Godin—author of 13 bestsellers, and one of my heroes. It started with a tweet:

 

A fleeting idea…or so I thought. Several people re-tweeted it within the hour, so I decided to blog about the idea. Weeks passed with little activity on the post. Then, out of the blue, a Twitter friend of mine emailed Seth Godin about the idea, and introduced us. The next day, Seth blogged about it, linked to my post, and assigned official hashtags to the three most recent books from his imprint. Since then, we’ve kept in touch by email, and I interviewed him on my company’s blog. If that didn’t feel surreal enough, a coworker of mine visited my desk and plopped down a copy of his latest book, We Are All Weird. Printed on the back was the official hashtag for the book. I’ll never forget that moment, and that it all started with a tweet.

From passive to active access in a matter of weeks. Sometimes the most rewarding access is indirect, delayed, or unexpected. While it may seem a bit karmic, it’s really just a balance sheet. If you continuously deliver value to the audience you’re cultivating, every so often a social side door will open. You’ll think about all the times you doubted whether you were creating anything worthwhile—anything worthy of the world’s attention. And then you’ll get back to work. Because social media, like nothing else before it, can help normal people make an abnormal dent in the world around them.

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How to make yourself indispensable with social media

Why should they line up for you?  

in·dis·pen·sa·ble/ˌindiˈspensəbəl/

Adjective:

Absolutely necessary or essential.

Who and what do you consider indispensable? Someone you turn to for advice when you’re not sure which path to take? The cup of coffee that delivers that rush of caffeine to start your day? Your iPhone?

Yes, you could technically survive without these people or things. But your life may be tougher, less fun, and even less fulfilling. That’s the thing about being indispensable: it’s always relative.

Social media can help make you or your company indispensable as a source of…

  • Knowledge
  • Connections
  • Expertise
  • Insight
  • Guidance
  • Perspective
  • Humor
  • Motivation
  • Energy

And a whole lot more. Strive to infuse a few complimentary qualities into your social engagement and content. Knowledge and insight, for instance, go hand in hand.  The best way to choose which qualities to add to the mix is to think about what comes naturally to you, and what people value in their interactions with you. Someone that’s great at introducing people might, then, choose to reflect this ability to connect in their social persona.

Selfish vs. self-interested

After chronicling my “social job search,” I found that what was resonating with people seemed to be a mix of guidance and motivation—something I didn’t expect, given my distaste for self-help books. But I ran with it, and it continued to work. This wasn’t a formula, or recipe—anyone that purports to possess a formula for “success” in any realm should be ignored. What I had found, however, were two truths that are as close to universal as truths get:

  1. People are self-interested. This is reflected in their content consumption and sharing.
  2. Content that benefits consumers will ultimately benefit its creators and distributors.

With few exceptions, the people that get the most out of social media are the ones that consistently deliver something of value to their audience. The most popular homemade videos on YouTube make people laugh. Or they help people. I recall being surprised at the number of views—often in the hundreds of thousands—of the videos I would watch when learning to shave with a straight blade razor. But should I have really been surprised? These videos solve problems that people have in their lives, no matter how small that problem may seem to an outsider. Sitting there with a face full of cuts and a new razor, I turned to these videos for help, as did hundreds of thousands with the same problem. In that moment, the problem loomed large, and the solution was in reach.

If we consume content that helps us in some way, what motivates us to share it? A study by The New York Times and Latitude Research asked this question, and found five general motivations for sharing, three of which are fundamentally self-interested.

  1. We share to bring valuable and entertaining content to others (mostly altruistic)
  2. We share to define ourselves to others, and to receive social validation (mostly self-interested)
  3. We share to strengthen and nourish our relationships with one another (mostly self-interested)
  4. We share for self-fulfillment—“We enjoy getting credit for it” (mostly self-interested)
  5. We share to advocate for causes we believe in, and less commonly, brands we want to support (mostly altruistic)

The lesson here is simple: to become indispensable, become a source of content that fulfills as many of these motivations as possible, as thoroughly as possible. A few examples:

  • @breakingnews has over 4 million Twitter followers because it provides news alerts before they become mainstream knowledge. It creates no original content of its own (besides the tweets), and links to a wide array of sources.
  • “Dad blogger” Ron Mattocks has earned high-profile speaking invitations, a book deal, guest columns, and media appearances, because his Clark Kent’s Lunchbox blog helps other dads be better parents.
  • Ex-accountant Therese Schwenkler saw a profound need for a source of “non-sucky” advice for young people like herself, so she decided to create it. Her blog The Unlost is a source of inspiration and guidance for thousands, and along the way she’s finding answers to her own questions.
  • Kate Spade New York realized that people wanted a “peek of what it’s like to work at Kate Spade, and an inside look in the fashion industry,” so they made it the focus of their blog. “I think there are a lot of women that aspire to live interesting lives, and they can experience that in a very authentic way through our blog,” says VP of eCommerce Johanna Murphy.

Self-interest can mutate into selfishness when value is promised and not delivered. Or when people ask for things before they’ve provided much of anything themselves. “Squeeze pages” that require personal information before any value is “dispensed.” A twitter stream that contains only self-promotion. Mass Facebook messages asking for votes from people the sender hasn’t interacted with in months or years. These don’t help anyone but the originator—there is no mutual benefit.

The indispensable person or company understands that their self-interest will be fulfilled only when they fulfill the self-interest of their audience first. Social media offers no shortcuts, but it offers a powerful set of tools for delivering and receiving value.

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Being three-dimensional in social media

I used to sell mobile apps and custom blogs to real estate agents. Unlike most decision-makers, their livelihood depended on having their direct contact information findable. Even getting in touch with the head broker of a 300-agent firm was easy; their cell numbers were right there on their websites. Lucky me, I thought. But when I called them, they’d give me short shrift. Many would hang up within seconds. I was competing for their attention against a sea of other salespeople, all of us vying for their attention in the same exact way. No matter how incredible my offer was, it wouldn’t be considered because they didn’t know me (or my company) from Adam, and I was one of 5-10 faceless salespeople that had called them that day, already.

Anyone in sales or marketing can relate to this problem. The solution? Use social to make yourself “three-dimensional” and open up a side door of access. People like to do business—at any scale—with people they know, like and trust. Cold calling and email blasts are numbers games with long odds. By creating a compelling social media presence, you’re humanizing yourself, establishing your expertise and engaging in a way that differentiates you from just another strange voice on the end of a phone call—you’re making yourself three-dimensional in the mind of the prospect. In my case, I started joining real estate marketing Twitter chats, building my Facebook and Twitter networks by posting interesting content, and blogging about solutions to some of the industry pain points I was hearing about. When I started calling again, I was no longer the anonymous salesguy. I was the guy that taught them that cool Twitter search trick, or whose blog they had subscribed to. I had earned their attention, and became the obvious choice whenever they needed something I was selling.

Like anyone with any control over vendor selection, I get a lot of phone and email pitches. And like anyone that values their time (and sanity), I screen most of them out. The pitches that I do pay attention to are different. They’re from people that have first taken a look at my social footprint, and that of my company, to equip themselves for a personalized approach and higher-level conversation. Often they’ll interact with me via social first to establish a rapport—they’ll comment on my blog posts, or retweet a few of my updates. They’ll also use social to enrich the standard phone and email exchanges, starting out by telling me their thoughts on our latest blog post, or sending me one-off, non-“salesy” emails sharing something they read that will likely interest me, too. These techniques work because they simultaneously help personalize the approach and build substantive relationships—two things that have always been extremely important to successful sales and marketing efforts, and are easier than ever thanks to social. So why don’t we see them more often?

Rules from another era

The rules and etiquette of access were written by Those Who Cannot Be Accessed, the tiny minority that has no problem getting through the front door. Once in, they’re asked to shut the door behind them, and they do. An open front door is now just a distraction from the important things they’re doing. After all, Those Who Cannot Be Accessed will always be let in. For others the door will never open, but most of them will still line up in case it does. Almost all of us are “others,” or we started out that way. We still play by the rules of access, not because we’re stupid, or because we lack creativity, but because they’re the only rules we know. And because the people we want to engage with have told us that, if the rules are followed, we may just get what we want. We’ll keep working on our cover letters, leaving messages, and smiling-and-dialing until then.

Here’s the secret: the rules haven’t been updated in a long time. They tell us nothing about social media, and social side doors are being created every single day for those that know this.

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Guest post on Convince & Convert

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to open the social side door. Yesterday, Jay Baer published a piece of mine called 5 Ways to Open the Social Side Door and Build Relationships.  Among the tips:

  1. Get there early.
  2. Show up in unexpected places.
  3. Write Rocket Content.
  4. Be three-dimensional.
  5. Understand ego capital.

My relationship with Jay developed as I applied a lot of the ideas in this book to my life. Ideas like the ones in yesterday's post. His readers seemed to really enjoy it. Lots of great comments, too. You should head over there now.

Social influence is earned (and learned)

Stop snoozing through social influence. Access is meaningless without influence. What will we do once we've gained access to effect the outcomes we desire? If we don’t know, or if we make the wrong choices after access, we risk losing everything we've worked for. It’s a question to ask long before being let in. Equally important is the fact that social  influence can be used to unlock doors we’ve finally reached, like Ali Baba’s magic words, “open sesame,” at the mouth of the cave of treasures. Influence helps us get there, and allows us to get things done when we’ve arrived.

Social media can be used to cultivate influence more easily than ever before. Gone are the days when only published authors and industry leaders can generate media coverage. It’s no longer necessary to know a company decision maker to be seriously considered as a vendor, or job candidate. Using our social content (tweets, blog posts, etc.) to establish expertise shows the people we want to influence that we know what we’re talking about. The following and activity we generate along the way as our ideas spread and our networks grow shows them that other people are listening to us, and many are like them (this idea is called “social proof”). Tweets are taking the place of long-form testimonials and references, and follower count, blog subscribers and Klout scores are being used—often mistakenly—as a proxy for the amount of cachet one has earned.

All of this has a powerful democratizing effect on the accumulation and distribution of influence. Influence is no longer reserved for the elite, or the longtime insider. The scope of who we trust to inform our views and decisions is massively wider than it once was, for both consumers and businesses. Companies are using crowdsourcing and direct consumer feedback to design their next product lines. People are getting their news from non-traditional outlets like Gawker, Slate and Salon. We’re ditching our cable boxes for the universe of content the Web offers us instantly.

This democratization of influence has led to a diffusion of power, and the number of entities we’re competing against for influence has grown just as fast as the social Web. The playing field between the average person and traditional media outlets may be leveling, but more and more players are entering the stadium every day.

One of the biggest mistakes in influence generation stems from the truism, “Content is king.” If content is king, why do so many great blogs go unread? Why do some of the cleverest tweets come from people with tiny followings? Because content needs a constantly-growing delivery network to spread and reach the people we want to influence. Expertise needs an audience if it’s ever to be converted into influence.

As my friend Brian Solis has written, the true king is context, not content. Spend too much time crafting content, and not enough time architecting the context in which it will thrive—your network—and your influence will stagnate.  Find the right balance, and your influence will soar.

One’s social footprint can certainly inhibit success, and employers are turning to social background checks to dig up inappropriate behavior when screening applicants. But more and more, just having a large and influential social footprint can open doors, and not just in job-seeking. Event promoters are now offering exclusive VIP admission—even full-ride travel and hotel stays—to those with enough social influence in their parties’ niche. Often these influencers are chosen based on their Klout scores, an algorithmically-generated ranking that approximates one’s social influence. In a comment on my blog, Klout CEO Joe Fernandez described his company’s perspective:

We see our data as a way to augment or balance the “human touch” that will always be needed to identify influencers.

Implicitly or explicitly, influencers are being regaled with gifts and access for one reason above all others. Brands are hoping they will use their influence to spread positive word of mouth about their products and services. Social influence is now monetizeable, exchangeable for what we’re really after. This is a power that we’re only beginning to realize we possess. Employers are already starting to ask applicants for their Twitter follower counts, and some job seekers are actually being screened out for not having “enough." Our social footprints are now our books of business, and are soon to be taken as seriously. Noah Kravitz found this out the hard way when his former employer, Phonedog.com, sued him for $340,000—their estimation of the total value of the 17,000 Twitter followers he had when he quit (supposedly “on good terms”). As of writing, the case is ongoing.  No matter the verdict, it’s a serious testament to the perceived value of social influence.

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The perils of infinite access (why doors close)

[box title="Note"] This is an advance excerpt from The Social Media Side Door, my book about the ways social media has rewritten the rules of access and influence. Subscribe to receive more excerpts, tips, and side door strategies.[/box]

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]pen doors create inefficiency. Each person that walks through them requires attention in some form or another, a resource that’s easily exhausted. Lines are formed. Credentials are screened more closely. Contact information is pulled from websites. Access is constricted and streamlined by gatekeepers to make sure that people, requests and time are managed in a way that prevents total meltdown. People understand this intuitively—when everyone wants something finite, not everyone can get it. But they still want it.

The world relies on gatekeepers even more heavily during times of uncertainty and crisis. When more people are calling in favors, digging deeper into their contacts, and seeking the kinds of jobs they once balked at, the front door is reinforced to compensate. It’s rarely done cheerfully, or with disdain for those seeking entry. Front doors are narrowed and shut especially tight in light of facts like this one: the 12,511,000 recession-era college graduates in the United States are doing everything they can to walk through them, and they can’t all fit.  Eighty-three applicants for every graduate-level opening in the UK means that companies are forced to reevaluate every aspect of their hiring practices, down to the paper their rejection notices are printed on.

1,000,000. That’s the number of job applications Google receives per year for its 6,000 annual openings, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  Of course, anyone familiar with Google’s workplace culture and legacy of innovation would expect a ratio like this. But it’s not just bleeding-edge tech jobs that are generating amazing levels of interest. A Ford plant in Louisville received nearly 17,000 applicants for 1,800 new jobs, a ratio of 9.4 jobseekers for every opening. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the beginning of the recession, “the number of unemployed persons per job opening was 1.8,” while the ratio at the official end of the recession (June 2009) had risen to “6.1 unemployed persons per job opening.”

Success requires more and more gatekeeping to keep systems humming. A small business doesn’t need call centers to service customers; this is the agitating byproduct of a company’s successful scaling to a point where access needs to be limited or diverted to allow other areas of the business to operate without distraction. Similarly, actors that haven’t yet “made it” are eager for inquiries, and make sure their direct contact information is found easily. Working actors divert inquiries to publicists and agents, whose job, in part, is to guard access to their clients. You may be able to get a meeting with your county commissioner, but very few can get one with the governor. And it’s easy to forget that this is generally a good thing—we want people that have the capacity to make big decisions to be able to focus; we don’t want the yelling cat lady that ruins every town hall meeting to have weekly one-on-ones with Jack Welch.

[box title="Thank you!"] Subscribe to receive more advance excerpts from The Social Media Side Door. Please share this if you enjoyed it, and let me know how to make it better! [/box]

© 2016 Ian Greenleigh