Month: December 2021

It’s Time I Had Some Time Alone

It’s Time I Had Some Time Alone

I contemplated not writing this week, because lord – you guys have had me BUSY this week. Glory be! But then, as I sat sending out end of day emails and making my list for shit to do tomorrow, a song came on.

 

Now before I get too much further, I want you to know that I am a HUGE believer in the arts moving you. Sometimes it takes you back, sometimes it takes you forward and forces you to take action – hence why I am here, writing a blog when I should be thinking about what I am going to make for dinner.

 

It’s going to be a pizza night and I don’t care

 

Who remembers Myspace?

 

Okay. First, yes – it is still a thing (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?)

 

Second, I LOVED Myspace. It spoke to my artsy-fartsy soul in ways that “plain old” Facebook just couldn’t.

 

We all know how *that* worked out, but I digress, Myspace. Yes.

 

Three Miles Of Back Road

 

I’m pretty sure my Myspace is still out there, untouched for nearly 15 years with equally outdated artwork and probably with my tag line of “She’s Three Miles Of Back Road” (I didn’t try to log in, so those that are active, please let me know).

 

This is a line from one of my favorite bands growing up, when I formalized my let’s say “eclectic” taste in music. But I made it my tag line because it spoke to me.

 

It was how I felt about myself.

 

Bumpy, With Unexpected Turns

 

Growing up in what I still affectionately call, “The Middle of Nowhere,” I KNEW what three miles of back road FELT like. But I also know what it *could* FEEL like.

 

I knew it could be exhilarating and fun but could equally be dangerous.

 

That can be downright scary when you stop and think about it.

It’s just more FUN in a manual

 

I’ve driven 5-speeds since I was 18 and intend to drive a *true* manual transmission as long as I possibly can. The years between 18-22, I drove my little 5-speeds up and over the mountain, taking me from home to work and back again.

 

Weather at times made this trip fun and I have some great stories about trips over that mountain that are not for the faint of heart. While this was not always the case, I sometimes needed to take some back roads that would lead me to Route 75 and then my final few miles of back road to home.

 

Because of this, I endured quite a bit of ribbing for my choice in vehicles. But I have only gotten stuck once in my life and have had quite a bit of fun doing shit no car *should* do.

 

Oh, the Stories I *Could* Tell

 

The Child does not appreciate it when I tell him some of the stories. He understands the gravity of some of these stories as I have been in many car accidents, of which one I was at fault and his father has been in two since the Child was born. He has seen the very real affects of driving and the inherent dangers of such.

 

I also understand that for him, driving holds a very different position for him. For me, it meant freedom. Freedom to blast my music, put the window down and let the wind take hold of my hair. It took me to a different place, and at times, continues to do so.

 

So, there I am, pounding out end of day emails, listening to Amazon’s Feel-Good Classics when BLAM! A blast from the past knocks me on my ass and send me into a fun little rabbit hole.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

 

It’s one of my favorites from one of my favorite bands and wouldn’t mind learning the lyrics, because as I have found, they throw some fun stuff in there if you are listening.

 

And that’s when it struck me, somewhere between those three miles of back road and realizing there would be no way I could ever sign that song without A LOT of practice, that what they were singing about gained significantly more meaning over the last two years.

 

We’re all figuring out this new world that we’re living in, certain of one thing: if you are sick, stay HOME.

 

That leaves a lot up in the air. And doing the most basic of human things is now something that takes great consideration, not only for ourselves, but for others.

 

Looking Ahead

 

Something as simple as an itchy nose has brought us to explaining and apologizing. While this may feel odd and awkward at times, it tells me that we’re starting to figure shit out.

 

We’re testing the waters of “people-ing” again and after what we’ve experienced, there’s bound to be some bumps in the road.

 

It’s. Expected.

 

So, for the next few weeks, I want you to take it easy on others because EVERYONE is stressed af and EVERYONE is struggling in some way this season.

 

But more importantly, take it easy on YOURSELF. You’ve been through a lot. You deserve a break. Allow yourself the time to do so in the next week and half. I’m going to need you bright eyed and bushy tailed for 2022. We’re going to do some amazing things together.

 

 

 

There’s Too Much Internet in MY Real Life

Our journey through the digital divide has taken us through the realm of individual accounts and your Top Ten, and then through the ads we see and Pages we engage with and things we can do to help those organization and businesses during what is typically a really difficult time of year for them. Now, we are heading into the point where the Internet and the Real Life collide – Groups.

 

In real life, we create our own groups of people we communicate with – friends, family, co-workers, other business owners, the list can go on and on. Likewise, in the digital space, the list can be expansively never-ending.

 

Facebook has Groups for just about anyone and on any topic – such as the infamous Colony of Ants or the Aldi Red Bag Chicken “that’s so good, it has its own Facebook Group” have breached the digital space and moved into Real Life through our conversations about these two distinct yet very different Groups.

 

Groups are the water cooler chats in the 21st century; and while some Groups may be punny or fun, not all are. Some are meant to be informative – such as the local Community and Neighborhood Groups.

 

Not all Groups are created equally

 

As I tell our clients, not all Facebook Groups are created equally. That is why you will see some with more members, more activity, and more drama than others – and for better or worse, these are QUALITY groups because they attain what the algorithm is looking for most – that sweet, sweet engagement.

 

Just like how your Top 10 is defined by your engagement with others, and the Pages and Organizations you see on your Newsfeed is based on your engagement with them, Groups are equally determined by engagement. The only difference is the number of people who regularly engage with the Group and your personal engagement within the Group.

 

In a Group setting, we have the ability to speak to more people. Which can be incredibly effective if you are new to an area or looking for something specific in an area. But, often, we as individuals will do things in a group setting that we wouldn’t do by ourselves or in real life.

 

This can explain why at times, Facebook Groups can be a bit more drama filled, or individuals will say things in a Group setting that they would not feel comfortable doing so on their own personal Page. While this may be the case, we must remember that in the digital space, these things can become dangerous.

Data Privacy? What’s that?

 

Facebook has long been a source of controversy when it comes to data privacy, and the stickiness of the ads we see on our Newsfeed is HIGHLY indicative of just how much information is known about us as individuals.

 

I don’t mind telling you that sometimes, Facebook hits the mark closer than anyone else and it can give even me, the creeps at times.

 

Now, that is not all together a bad thing. If we’re receiving information that is important to us or make more educated decisions on the area we live in or making a large investment – these things can be downright helpful.

 

However, frequently, we do not understand how all this information is coming to us, nor do we understand the intricacies of Facebook Groups and in the digital space, where it’s the little things that make a big difference.

 

Groups Help Us Connect With Our Community

 

There are two significantly different types of Groups: Private and Public. Private Groups are those that can only be seen by those on Facebook, those who have been invited to and accepted the Group invitation and any applicable Rules associated with the Group Page. Public Groups are just that, including open to anyone who is not on Facebook.

 

While Private Groups offer a bit of added security, it should be understood that when communicating within that Group, you may be communicating with those you do not know in real life but share a mutual connection in the form of a shared topic of interest. Conversations are typically thematically driven, based on the type of Group you are in.

 

Public Groups are typically community based and include such Groups as the “What’s Going On/What’s Happening In” Pages. In these Groups, you will find events, local news, and individuals looking to learn more about the area, looking for recommendations, or posting about lost/found items.

 

Finding “Quality” Groups

 

Now, I hear you, some of these local groups, make you shake your head in wonder sometimes. They can be just a hot mess of comments and side conversations that when taken into context of the original post, may have very little, if anything in common.

 

While this seems like it is a hot cluster mess, and in some regards, it can be, it’s important to remember what feeds the algorithm – that sweet, sweet engagement. So even though, at times these things seem like a dumpster fire, they are actually working quite effectively because people are communicating with one another.

 

These Groups give a greater sense of what is like to live in a particular town or area, which is vitally important to not only those looking to relocate to an area, but also to those who live in the area. Having these Groups that are active in the local community builds on our sense of community by keeping us connected on one device that the majority of us own, and on the same platform that a whole lot of us use every day.

 

The Shear Convenience of It

 

With Facebook recently taking over as the Top Social Media platform by average monthly users (overtaking YouTube), it is evident that while our engagement of this platform has dropped off in the last few years, our usage has only increased. With more people using the platform and less engagement feeding the algorithm, Facebook has recently implemented new techniques to get us to engage with that which we engage with most – Groups.

 

Not only has Facebook added a direct button to the Groups in which you personally belong to between the Home and Notifications buttons, the social media giant has also added badges and “Community Awards” to increase engagement on Group Pages – the latter of which has been found on a local community Group Page within the last month.

 

Our local usage of not only this platform, but others, is evident in the quality of the Groups and the availability of algorithmically driven “enhancements” meant to increase our already high rate of activity on these very Pages.

 

Local Groups Are POWERFUL

 

The ability for information shared on our local Group Pages to expand outside of our region is a key step in marketing a business, organization, or event in this area. Even more than this, what we consider to be small town, local events – such as the fountain being damaged – has reached national news sources and this wasn’t the first time an event in this area has captured national attention.

 

This is directly related to how much time we spend on our devices and online, specifically on social media. Now, this is not necessarily a negative thing, as through this, we ARE more connected to those we care about and our local community. We ARE more engaged with one another.

 

Which means, whether we like it or not, we’re going to come to a place where disagreements happen, boundaries are pushed, and at times, mob-like behavior occurs. Shit gets said that wouldn’t be said in real life.

 

And then we get all hot and bothered over something said on the internet like it’s SRS business. Where it bleeds and festers into other areas of our lives. Leaving us questioning not only ourselves, but other’s motives over SHIT said on the Internet.

 

It Is SRS Business ‘Yo

 

Here’s where shit gets exceptionally real:

 

Not only are Public Groups visible and readily available to anyone, even those not on Facebook which means we are inherently going to be speaking to an unknown audience – take a moment and think on that – Private Groups can be exponentially more dangerous, simply due to our usage.

 

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles titled, The Facebook Files where in one article specifically found that the adjustment made to the algorithm in 2018 made the platform a more divisive and angrier place to be. Which, if you haven’t checked my linked articles – was about the same time Facebook saw a distinct drop in engagement rates.

 

Fun times, right?

 

Hold onto your hats, cuz true to form, Facebook has fun little ways of distracting our attention when they’ve done something that has caused some unwanted attention.

 

Within A WEEK of these articles publishing, Facebook launched the Community Awards (feel free to open those links now but come back cuz we aren’t done yet).

 

And this is NOT the FIRST TIME Facebook has launched something new when they are in hot water.

 

But Wait! There’s More!

 

That is without touching “Meta” – which is a WHOLE other ball of wax where if we don’t get this shit under control, we’re in for an even worse wild ride than we’ve already been through.  I don’t know about you, but I’m about f-ing done.

 

So, here’s what I want you to do this week. Take a look at the Groups you belong to, start with those that pop up in your Newsfeed and notifications. If they are local, check to see if they are “quality” local groups and look at the privacy settings – it’ll be right by the name of the group. If it is Public, go forth eyes wide open and personal shit sealed (don’t give out your phone number plz!).

 

If it is Private – Look over the Page carefully, especially if it is a political, spiritual, or religious and look for any inconsistencies or “bleed” over from these specific categories, or any “us vs. them” derogatory type posts. These are usually topics that have little if any, bleed between in a traditional setting. Think about how these things work in real life, that’s how they should work online too.

 

As such, thematic Private Groups tend to stick to their theme and are usually primarily for entertainment and have little bleed over. Look for these inconsistencies.

 

Those Pages that do have a “bleed” be it political, spiritual, or religious and a high engagement rate on these types of posts are exceptionally dangerous. As they not only fuel lines of division and have crossed the barrier into real life, they also feed the algorithm as a positive reinforcement – meaning that you will then begin to see more and more of that type of posting, creating more division, more anger, and more isolation on your social media feed which will then begin to affect your real life perceptions as well.

 

Pretty Sweet Deal, Huh?

 

Which is the LAST thing we need after the year plus we’ve had and coming into the “happiest” time of the year, which for many – it’s not; and it’s time we stop pretending.

 

It’s time we stop pretending. Period.

 

This shit has the ability to cross into our real lives.

 

And we carry it around with us every where we go with our handy, dandy little tracking device.

 

That holy shit, for many of us, we’re closer to than our best friends.

 

Think about the shit it knows….

 

So, here’s the deal, now that I’ve hopefully taken the wool down from your eyes a bit, you’ve found that you have a *bit* more control than most would have you think. From now until the end of the year, I am offering free copies of my thesis, “You’re Doing It Wrong: Using Facebook for Personal Profit and Pleasure” for anyone wishing to get a “head start” onto where this blog is headed.

 

I will personally print these out and deliver or mail them to you. During this time, you are free to ask me as many questions as you would like.

 

Please be aware of two things: Symbiotic Marketing will be closed from December 24-January 2. This is my personal time to be with family, if I respond, please respect my time.

 

Secondly, after December 31, 2021, a change in fee structure for new clients will take effect in reflection of inclusion of PR and Training services.

 

Your business and what you do with it is an investment. It’s time it’s treated as such.

Eyes Wide Open: Starting to Take Back Some of Your Personal Power on Social Media

Last week, I wrote about ads, and mentioned that not all ads seen are on social media, but those that are on social media can be a bit “stickier” than others. This week, in our journey through the digital divide, I wanted to come back and discuss this a bit more because in the land of social media, these things take on new life.

 

Ads can be just about anywhere, and today, many of us choose to pay a little extra so we don’t have to watch or listen to them. The shear fact that over a relatively short period of time, we’ve gone from doing things during commercial breaks to paying for less commercial breaks tells me that we are so inundated with ads, we’re exhausted by them.

A Land of Light and Sound With No One Seeing or Listening

 

For a small business owner, the thought of creating something that can compete in this landscape is daunting to say the least. It looks downright bleak. Desolate.

 

So, we attack the devil we know – social media. And try to learn how to work the algorithm while finding our own voice. Which is rarely a smooth or easy process.

 

And for those who are uncomfortable in this setting, it’s often written off for other avenues – such as print or radio rather than working in collaboration with. This then, leaves a distinct disconnect in conversational traffic and often a disruption in the business functions – i.e. the shear act of doing business can be exponentially more difficult simply due to a lack of digital presence- website or otherwise.

Stuck in a Scarcity Mindset

 

This time of year is a particularly difficult time for many small businesses as we struggle for a small piece of the holiday spending pie.

 

This time of year may very well set the business for success or failure in the New Year as spending drops significantly in the first few months of every new year.

 

Every sale, matters. Every interaction, matters. Every person who walks through the door, matters more than any of us fully realize. And after the last year plus, these things matter even more.

 

Adding fuel to this fire is the shear fact that to advertise in any capacity during this time of year, inherently means a higher cost – not only financially but energetically too.

Discounting Ourselves

 

We’ve been trained as individuals to be on the “lookout” for the best deals this time of year. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and all the pop-up events that happen through December 24th are meant to do one thing – drive spending, typically through the “art of the deal.”

 

Now this is not all together a bad thing if your spending is going back into someone or something you feel passionate about. I’ve spent some serious dough on something that I have wanted without blinking an eye.

 

But as a business owner, I can tell you that I have fallen into the discount trap more often than I’d care to remember. Discounting in the business owner’s mind means discounting our goods or services but at the end of the day, what we’re really doing is discounting our VALUE.

 

From skimping out on business necessities, discounting merchandise, to discounting our own time – we are DISCOUNTING our own value.

 

Which stinks and makes us feel like shit.

Small Businesses ARE the Backbone to Every Community

 

While those of you who read this blog may be wondering what kind of tangent I have gone off on, I want you to know the realities of the battle for your attention every small business owner faces.

 

Things like billboards, radio ads, and even some digital and print marketing ad campaigns are simply outside of the budget. That is why we are almost relegated to a website and social media presence, and even then, these are not always easy to attain or maintain.

 

This is why you will inherently see less ads from small businesses and when you do, they appear to be of lower quality or mass produced – because at times, this is what can be afforded.

Now that doesn’t make the ad spend right – I’m looking directly at you small business owners. Spend your money wisely and intentionally. Treat it as the investment it is.

 

So, what we have when we’re online, especially on social media, is a great mixture of corporate (like Wal-Mart/Wish/Amazon) and large to medium-sized, fairly well-known local entities (like WellSpan/Orrstown Bank/Martin’s Potato Rolls) popping up either as Low Hanging Fruit or Sticky ads, depending on your usage.

 

Stand Out Against the Noise

 

Now, here we have the small business owner. Trying to find their footing in what could be a most precarious time no matter how you slice it. With as much knowledge of how to use social media, or really any form of digital media, as you, my dear reader.

 

To say that we don’t know what we’re doing is an understatement. Because as you will learn through our journey into the digital world, unraveling one string leads to another knot. This journey, however, is very similar to other journeys many others have taken.

 

There’s a reason why so many small business owners compare their business to their child. Because to a very real extent, it is. We’re literally following along by the seat of our pants and hoping that the decisions we’ve made are wise. And if not, our child/business will tell us by shitting the bed (not always metaphorically speaking) in and around the age of 3. We, like most parents, hope to have that shit under control by age 5.

 

Rely on Your Tribe

 

I tell you all this, dear reader, because YOU have a very important and integral role in not only what you see, but also in how well you can help these businesses achieve truly free advertising on their end, that builds and extends the local community experience as a whole.

 

That’s some pretty cool shit right there. Especially when you can do this by doing something you’re already doing any way.

 

Feel those feels because that’s some powerful shit right there.

 

Think BIG

 

There’s a reason behind all this local growth. The capacity for a Page to hit over 100K in Franklin County alone is not difficult. The capacity for that Page to then speak to a greater, larger overall audience is then that much easier to accomplish when proper steps are in place.

 

Think about what that could mean for the small local, non-profit organizations who’s mission it is to raise funds to support our community.

 

Think about what it could mean for voter turnout in our local elections.

Think about what it could mean to the small business owners in our community if more people knew about their goods and services.

 

That’s some pretty big shit.

 

And You, you as an individual, have the power to start making these changes happen. All by scrolling on social media and doing what you do.

 

It Really IS That Simple

 

Two weeks ago, I asked you to start looking at your Newsfeed for your Top 10. [I’d love to hear how that’s going for you btw – hit me up on socials and let me know] This week, I want you to do the same for local organizations and businesses that are important to you.

 

Search their social feeds and see what they’ve posted recently. Throw a like, a comment, or a share up there – just be sure to not share too much – no one wants a Spammy Cathy. And even though these things are weighted differently, you can do a lot with just a few likes and reactions. Trust your gut.

 

Now, here’s the sweet part for you – the more you do this, the more you will see from these organizations and businesses.

 

Ever miss out on hearing about an event until it was too late? Not. No. Mor’.

 

And that’s not only powerful shit, but some pretty sweet shit too.

 

Now go out there and help the local guy out. We need it and a few likes and hearts can show our Pages to others who may not know about us that need us.

 

It’s all about those connections. And my dears, that is what social media is all about. Creating and maintaining those sweet, sweet connections that you love to see.

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