3 Powerful Lessons from 5 Years of Blogging

It was five years ago when I launched this blog, Leadership Insights.

At the time, I had several people encouraging me to do it, but many more were against it.

 


“Success is the pull against the current of mediocrity.” -Skip Prichard

 

Overcome Negative Voices

The list of negative sentiments kept coming at me:

  • The blogging craze is over.
  • It’s too hard to start now.
  • Starting is easy, getting anyone to read a blog is difficult.
  • Do you have the time?
  • Are you going to burn out?
  • Why do you want to share all of this for free?
  • You want to do this without a business model?
  • The technical side of it is more challenging than you know.
  • How long can you keep this up?
  • What’s the best way to promote a new blog?
  • You just joined Twitter a month ago. Learn that before doing something bigger.

I’ve now been blogging for five years. After millions of hits, you’d think the naysayers would stop. Maybe they’ve been silenced a bit, but every now and then I hear something that reminds me that success is the pull against the current of mediocrity. Somehow my brain uses negativity and difficulty as fuel to propel me higher. Truth be told, it’s not others who may cause me to pause. It’s my own thoughts. I think negative thoughts from inside us are the worst offenders because it’s much harder to tune out the voice within.

 


“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.” -Charles Glassman

 

Stay the Course

And, yes, I’ve often asked myself whether I should continue, whether it matters, and whether I will keep blogging. I’ve never promised that I wouldn’t quit, but instead I just plod along, writing the next post, interviewing another author, sharing a story that uplifts or a quote that inspires. Discipline wears down any obstacle in the way water seeks its own level. Often the biggest successes come after powering through the most challenging times.

 


“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” -Vince Lombardi

 

There are many things that I’ve learned in my five years of blogging:

  • How to focus on the reader
  • How to write faster
  • How to ignore critics
  • How to write better headlines
  • How to utilize a good outline
  • How to write more succinctly

Understand that People Are Most Important

What I Learned On the Way to 200,000 Twitter Followers

Slightly over two years ago, I decided to join Twitter.  I didn’t have a blog.  I wasn’t on Facebook (I’m still not really, but that’s the subject for another time).  I wasn’t a celebrity.

About a month after joining Twitter, I launched this blog in December of 2011.  Leadership Insights is now two years old.

Learning from Others

Learning how to use Twitter was my first goal.  All around me were experts.  My friend and best selling author and social media expert Michael Hyatt was encouraging me to join.  For some reason still unknown, his Twitter feed was embedded into my desktop even without me joining the service.  I was able to see him Tweet for months.  Many of those tweets made no sense because they were replies, but I learned by watching.

Then I attended a Preds game with another friend, best-selling author Karen Kingsbury, and her family.  Karen graciously sat with me, walking me through the ins and outs of Twitter and how she used it to connect with her loyal fans.  I think I was looking at her phone more than the ice during that game because I don’t even recall who won.

Yet another best selling author friend came to visit Nashville, and I sat with Margaret Atwood at dinner and received another tutorial.  Her use of Twitter was vastly different, and so I began to see how personal style was important.

That was the first few weeks, but many others with huge numbers of Twitter followers started to give me advice.

Jumping In

I began to blog and wrote a post on Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Twitter Any Longer; later I wrote 13 Tips for Twitter Effectiveness. Last year, I even wrote a note to Santa for my Twitter wish list.

Never did I think I would be near 200,000 followers in just over two years.

You think, well, sure you had all these amazing friends and that’s how it started.  I thought that, too.  After several friends with many followers sent notes to “Follow @SkipPrichard,” I thought I would be on the way.  The reality was that it barely moved my numbers.  Then, after a month or two, my followers started dropping.  I would get to 300, then go backwards.

Finally, I decided to not think about it.  My goal was not numbers but to really use the service to connect with others, to share, and to learn.

Random Learning

A few things I learned along the way:

You will get out of it what you put into it. The best way to learn is by jumping in.

Be yourself. 

Decide: What’s your purpose? What do you want to get out of it? You may just want to watch and listen.  You may want to share or meet new people.

Upload a picture.  Don’t be an egghead!

Have a follow-back policy.  Are you going to follow everyone back?  Be highly selective about who you follow?  It’s up to you.  Remember you can change your mind later.

Make sure your bio reflects your purpose. Make it clear why people should follow you.

Follow people you’re interested in.

Watch out for spammers.

It’s a resource.  Once I was in a camera store trying to decide what to buy as a gift.  A quick message to my friend and world class photography instructor @SkipCohen and I had my answer. Another time I was in New Orleans looking for some good gumbo. Ten minutes later we were in a restaurant ordering the best gumbo in the city.

Learn.  So many opportunities to learn.

What’s the Future of Business?

Brian Solis is an author, analyst, and a principal at Altimeter Group, a firm focused on disruptive technology. He’s one of the world’s premier thought leaders in new media. His blog is one of the world’s top resources for business strategy and marketing.

What I most enjoy about Brian is that he has the ability to take complex subjects and break them down so you can understand them. His latest book, What’s the Future of Business? accomplishes that in a very different way than his previous work.9781118456538

Brian, before I jump into the latest book and the future, I want to slow down and talk about the past and the present. Because of the nature of your work, I imagine that you’re surrounded by social media experts most of the time. But there are still companies that are just now jumping in or maybe are still on the sidelines. With that in mind, what are the three biggest reasons a business should be utilizing social media today?

First, let me just say that I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. While social media is part of what I do, it is true that I do have a unique opportunity to see how businesses are or aren’t using social media to reach connected consumers. We live in a social economy where social is an extension of customer engagement. Social media become the channels and mechanisms to listen, learn, engage, and adapt.

If you are not competing for the future, you are competing for irrelevance. -Brian Solis

The first reason that social media is important to businesses is that it amplifies the voice of the customers, their expectations and questions, their touch points, and most importantly the experiences they have and share. There’s much to learn by listening and observing. It is a form of digital anthropology where you gain not only insights but empathy. Try to not let it intimidate you . . . if you’re human, you can feel what’s taking place and as social is a very human series of networks, you can understand how to glean and deliver value as a result.

The second reason is that having a notable presence in networks of interest allows a brand to earn relevance where the attention of Generation C (connected) is focused. This isn’t a channel for the same one-sided marketing as executed in other channels. Social media is just that, it’s social. It’s not all about marketing. It’s about engagement in the context of how people hope to interact with the company.

The Four Moments of Truth in WTF The Four Moments of Truth in WTF

Last, but not least, is alignment. See, to build customer relationships requires that we see the customers for who they are and what they need to build relationships with the businesses they support. To do so requires a “social” philosophy where social media becomes an extension of a more engaging corporate mindset. Since social is bigger than marketing, key stakeholders from other functions and lines of business, or in the case of small businesses, other people responsible for the customer experience, need to come together to talk about the customer journey and the desired experience they wish to deliver. Today, businesses are aligned around the traditional funnel, but each department is responsible for its own portion. Whereas in connected consumerism, the journey is much more dynamic and experiential. And, since people have access to publishing these experiences in places of influence, these experiences contribute to a new reality. By rallying stakeholders together to deliver a consistent, meaningful and shareable experience, people come together around something that’s bigger than the team they represent. Alignment is powerful and required for the future of transformation and evolution.

Where are companies still getting social media wrong?