| Book-Soci@l on Active Rain. By Ben Kinney & Jay Papasan
About 3 weeks ago I agreed to take on the challenge of reading and reviewing the new book "Soci@l" written by Ben Kinney in conjunction with ActiveRain and Jay Papasan. And I've admitted to procastinating on getting this done. I'm a fast reader, so my problem wasn't in reading the book, or even in deciding whether or not I enjoyed the read. (I did.) My problem is that I am a total geek. And many web sites, ventures, portals, etc., that I see mentioned not only in this book, but on many blog posts I read on an almost-daily basis, are things I am currently, or have been in the past, already involved in. Actually, to be more specific, I had already gotten involved in them, played with them, lost interest, and stopped utilizing these opportunities to their fullest capacity. Bottom line: I got bored! But there's so much more to this story; including a very real danger for me! So I chose the chapter called "Your Brand and Online Image" for multiple reasons, which I hope will become self-explanatory as I tell a bit of my personal story, and how this particular chapter is helping me to move past some road blocks that only I would have the misfortune of encountering! >.<
FYI: This post will probably be very different from any other post you read about the "Soci@l" book. I've chosen this particular chapter because I had to find a way to clear my own mind, and try to organize my thoughts, and figure out new ways to move forward in my business, when I have some very real "threats" in my online existence. So please bear with me and read on as I provide some more "history" to coincide with the information already provided in the book... (or you can skip to the bottom half for my actual book review, if you don't want to read my "background portion". I admit. I actually used this as a "therapeutic" post for myself, in addition to the book review.)
(My story begins here...) There are sites that it seems like everyone is claiming to be "a must" in the marketing of ourselves. And I would totally agree... except for the fact that I jumped into these sites in their infancy; NOT for business purposes, but when they were more like a "sub-culture". They were my hobbies, running parallel to my business sites. As for my use of the word "sub-culture", I had never considered that word as the definition of my online interests until a friend of mine, after hearing me constantly talk about my YouTube friends and experiences, (right about the time that it was beginning to become commercialized; aka what I consider the worst thing that ever happened to YouTube) took the time to look at my 300+ videos, and began reading the comments on those videos, and began noticing the emerging pattern in the actual friendships I was building with the still-growing number of 2000+ people who were subscribed to my "channel". When he came to me and said "You know, I didn't realize there was an entire sub-culture there"; that's when it clicked for me, and also marked "the beginning of the end" for me. I said "YES! That's exactly what it is!" And then I watched as the "community" and "the very essence of that sub-culture" was slowly forced into the smallest corner of the site... being pushed aside by commercialization. Over time, as we lost our YouTube "sub-culture", and our very real friendships, the loss I felt was enough to make me eventually leave that platform!
There are other factors involved in my decision to leave YouTube, and I felt torn for a long time, as I continued to receive messages from my subscribers, begging me to come back and post videos again. (The channel is still there, with no new content; but I still receive comments and messages.) But the site was evolving into another cog in the Google machine. And I lost many, very real relationships as a result of the change in the YouTube platform, as we all began to scatter in different directions. The power that the "community" once had was very slowly losing ground. (In the beginning of the time after Google purchased the site, the roar of the uprising in the "community" was strong enough to actually force Google to remove and change some of the content they were trying to implement!) But Google is not easily stopped, (hooray for eBay/Paypal as one who stopped them... a whole other story.) and they continued with their agenda until the community was slowly dissolved, and what was left of the sub-culture, was a handful of people who cooperated, and bought into the commercialization. But, for my replacement hobby, I had discovered Facebook, and I created a page for my YouTube followers to join me and play games with me in a new setting. Facebook became my replacement for my video "hobby". (Moving on...)
So what am I to do, when by the time everyone else jumps on the bandwagon of these Social Media Sites, and begins using them for business, I've already spent years there, PLAYING!!?? I have been doing practically everything online for more years than I can count. But I've always kept a solid line between my play sites, and my work sites. Then along came Web 2.0, and the merging of all our online content. And here I sat with over 300 videos that were NOT work-related, with thousands of people who could NOT ALL BE TRUSTED with my personal information! I had (and still have) no way of crossing over into work territory on YouTube, (You can find me on WellcomeMat.com) and placing my personal information on that site, without the possibility of one of the very real, very scary, stalker-types finding me and (here's a new term for you) "dropping my docs". (If someone "drops your docs" it means they have posted your true identity and all contact information on one of those "underground", "sub-culture", "play" sites where the really scary people can find it! (Geez. I could write a book about the flip side of all this social media!) But I digress...
So for about a year or so, I've been struggling to stay ahead of the game, by still keeping my online "hobbies" seperate from my online "work". Talk about an impossible task! I eventually had to create "fake" accounts to serve as road blcks for the "psychos". (I'll just call them that for the remainder of this post. I could write an entire post on my experiences with those types as well!) Regardless, you now know a bit of my online history, and the dilemma I've faced in creating an effective "Brand and Online Image" when the grand scheme of things has been to combine every aspect of our online content into only ONE, singular, online presence! On the internet, you cannot erase your past! Now I don't have anything that I've personally posted, of which I'm ashamed. But that doesn't mean I want my clients to see them! (Please don't comment that I should just remove them. There's SO much more to this that I'm NOT saying!) But there have been others who have taken my videos and twisted them, and even filed them under my "play" user name on YouTube, out of their own jealousy of the "presence" I built with my videos. Thankfully, my user name was not my real name!
So as my online journey has continued through it's twists and turns, I've had to choose which review sites, and web sites, and video sites, and blog sites I could use, while finding that I am actually unable to use some of the very sites that so many other real estate professionals are finding to be great sources of help in their online presence. (And yes, I do feel like beating my head on my desk when I read blog posts that are filled with excitement about the "newest and greatest thing"; when I've already been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, bought the canvas bag, camped out for a few years, met thousands of people, etc., and I CAN'T USE THAT SITE for real estate purposes unless it's only on an "incoming" basis, with no "outgoing" links. (And usually can't show my face either, lest I pique the interest of the psychos.)
I hope I've painted an adequate picture of the very real dangers (for me) of some of these seemingly innocent sites, and "fantastic opportunities", when you don't know what lingering evils may lurk beneath the surface. Perhaps some day I'll blog about the man who stalked one of my YouTube friends, and traveled here from another country, and showed up at her front door!
So back to the subject at hand... My Brand and Online Image. Well obviously I've had no problem with creating an online image! It's just too bad I was 3 years ahead of my time when I did so on You Tube, and about one year ahead of time on Facebook. (And no, I still haven't figured out the YouTube dilemma since I'm in the "partner program".) But Facebook is a different story... I've had to bend the rules a bit, but I have at least managed to create an account where many of you from right here on Active Rain have gathered to get "soci@l" with me =) (I won't go into details on how I accomplished that one.) But in regards to Facebook, I admit that I also haven't done as much as I should, and actually CAN! And reading Soci@l HAS prompted me to finally cross this "final frontier" (drama much? lol) This bit of Facebook knowledge isn't something I didn't already know. But in reading "Soci@l", I've actually come up with some new ideas on expanding my online presence; (which is doing quite nicely in spite of my very creative roadblocks), and dividing of my personal and professional online dealings.
"Soci@l" mentions "review sites" in the chapter about "Your Brand and Online Image", and they've provided some statistics that you've probably already heard. And I can't say that I can put my finger on exactly what "clicked" for me, or motivated me to venture out a bit more, and leave some fears behind. Hopefully (fingers crossed), to some extent, enough time has passed for me to move forward in baby steps. Because, as mentioned in this chapter, I'm not someone in our industry who is opposing, instead of embracing some of the sites that are mentioned. I just have to find other ways to "embrace" these empowering sites. Or, perhaps I should look at the MANY sites I have not already "found and conquered and have now been forced into hiding" (that was a joke... kinda).
In reading the chapter on "Your Brand and Online Image', I found "holes" in my online presence. YAY! This is actually a good thing, since it means I can continue to move forward, even if it's not in the same areas where others are just now venturing into as unknown territory... Hmm... Perhaps I should become a "YouTube Presence Consultant" (kidding again... kinda.)
So the holes I will now attempt to fill are...
- Review Websites. <=D This is an area that is completely possible to enter. And I even have a few tools that are already at my fingertips as I move forward.
- Being consistent in my brand: Ironically, in all my efforts to separate my personal and business web presence, with me, what you see really is what you get! But that doesn't mean you want to teach your real estate clients how to do a certain type of dance that you posted in a video 2 years ago! Let's get real here! But as I said; the book has sparked new ideas for me, and for that, I actually owe a large bit of gratitude to all those involved in the writing of this book!
- Being professional in your attire: On page 23, there's a mention of the different types of attire that are worn in warmer climates (Hello! I'm in stinky, sweaty Florida!) than the suits that can be required in less humid, sticky climates. And I believe I've actually mastered this one. You'll never find me doing business in a "polo, jeans, or flip-flops!" But I have a closet full of natural fabrics that even if they're sleeveless (necessary in July and August lest I pass out), they're still button-up shirts with collars, and have cute capri pants and adorable matching sandals (if I do say so myself... actually, I don't have to. My clients have confirmed this for me) ;-)
- Thousands of dollars spent identifying your brand: NOT! This is completely unneccessary in our area, if you know how, and where to place your advertising! And for me, this included changing my entire business model this year, and now working with a partner. =)
- Having a logo designed: Yep! I did that many years ago. And (back to #4) I did not spend one penny more than I had to. The people who created my logos are the same people who were making my signs, and imprinting my real estate information on the back window of my vehicle. So they let me come into the back room and sit down with a graphic artist, and explain what I wanted, and even request future changes (which I now can do on my own). I only paid for my signs and my vehicle window!
- The name a potential client searches, and the information they find. You may be thinking I'm really up a creek, without a paddle after reading my first half of this post. But bear in mind, I never used my real name on my "play" accounts. And thankfully, I used seperate e-mail accounts as well. Because in case you haven't noticed, AT&T + Yahoo, and Google + every-tidbit-of-information-on-the-planet have now started seeking out the multiple e-mail addresses that are attached to a particular person! This has actually caused a great deal of confusion for me, and locked me out of two of my social networks because AT&T and Yahoo, although they have joined together, seem to have an internal conflict on this particular site! They want only one ID for each person, which is fine with me for those 2 providers. But each time I try to combine them all, there are two particular social networks that can only be accessed from on particular computer, where I have them permanently signed in. And I can't create a new account either because it has my name AND both e-mail accounts in the system! Yet, it can't seem to figure out what to do with the information. I'd LOVE some help on that one!
I'm going to stop at this point, although there is MUCH more information in this chapter. But you're probably already going cross-eyed from reading all this. So to end on a positive note; I found a lot of useful information in this chapter, and in the book as a whole. I actually printed the whole book, and put a giant paper clamp on it so I could dog-ear and highlight the pages I need to refer back to.
I hope everyone was able to glean valuable information from this much-needed resource. (If you've read my whole story, you have to know that if I can find useful information here, then ANYONE CAN!) So thank you to Active Rain for once again pointing us in the right direction, and even providing us with and entire book for FREE!! And thank you to Ben Kinney and Jay Papasan for providing this valuable resource. Here's to moving forward!
This blog post is a review of Soci@l: Attract Friends, Followers and Connections to Your Business. Soci@l is a free download written by Ben Kinney in conjunction with ActiveRain and Jay Papasan. In exchange for downloading the free copy of Soci@l and writing this review, I have a chance to win a free iPad and I'm getting 2000 ActiveRain points.