Tag Archives: Blogging

Want to Win at Content Marketing? Empower and Embrace Your Employees

You are going to be reading A LOT about employee brand advocacy in the coming years, and I encourage you to do one thing right now – understand this opportunity quickly and make sure your business champions it. If you embrace content marketing and employee brand advocacy together today, you will lead a fundamental transformation of your business, as well as across the greater business community. It’s a huge opportunity and it’s exciting.

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Social Selling on LinkedIn Doesn’t Work When…

My LinkedIn inbox is currently full of pitches from people I’ve never met or engaged with. These folk have asked to connect with me and once I press that little yes button, within five minutes too many think it’s a green flag to send an unsolicited pitch selling a product or service. It’s never targeted. It never works. And it annoys the hell out of me, because it means I don’t get to the emails that actually do matter to me.

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Are you Content Marketing or Marketing?

The stats are pretty clear:

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Content Marketing is About Earning People’s Time

There is a GREAT deck on Slideshare right now. It’s called “Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge” by Velocity Partners. I love this deck for many reasons, but mainly because it spoke my language – irreverent, but makes a very strong argument – and that is: as more B2B brands turn to content marketing, the consumer is going to be faced with a proliferation of mediocre content and inevitably, they’re going to disengage.

Content Marketing

Let’s face it: content is the new kid on the block, and “content marketing” the vogue terminology of the moment. We’re in a time where many agencies are re-branding themselves as content agencies. But creating awesome content – focused on and relevant to the customer – is a completely unique skill that a re-branding doesn’t necessarily meet. It pains me to say it, but I agree with Velocity Partners – we’re “all about to be buried in crap.” Especially so in Asia.

To be the best, hire the best

So, how do you ensure that you’re not investing in and creating mediocrity? After all, anyone can create content, the challenge lies in creating great content. Those skilled at content succeed because they are customer-centric communications professionals – and they know how to create relatable content that their audience responds to. As an example, many journalists (and former journalists) will ignore commercial interests and publish information for the audience they are writing for, because this is what they’ve been trained to do. It’s in their DNA. It’s how they think about information every day.

This is important, because it is the people who have an eye for the customer that will help the world’s businesses standout in the coming content deluge. No one wants to be in the gang burying their customers in crap – right?

To be successful, organisations must put together a team that understands the content marketing fundamental: it’s not about speaking about your brand; it’s about speaking to the whole customer. Help your customer succeed. Make them more intelligent. Improve their lives. Answer their questions – especially the ones they didn’t know they should be asking. Content marketing is not about talking about your product features or services. Not yet. That comes once you win people’s hearts and earn their loyalty.

Velocity Partners

Image: by Velocity Partners

Be the consumer, but be yourself

A phrase I particularly liked in the Velocity Partners’ presentation is “Marketing Defense Systems”. It refers to the natural barriers people put up when they perceive they’re being sold to. This is exactly right. If your business’s content creators are not trained to focus on the audience (versus the client), then the more content you create and share, the greater the likelihood Marketing Defense Systems will come up. We’re already experiencing this content fatigue, with too many people excessively posting sales-driven, irrelevant content. And it’s very hard to get a second chance today. Time is valuable.

We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer. Ask yourself: Who are they? What do they do? What do they care about? How can I help them? What information is of value to them? What conversations, within the mix of what they care about, are aligned to my brand? Which of those conversations can I own?

For example, a luxury travel group asked Novus Asia for some ideas on content. Our first step was to ask: Who is your customer and what do they care about? What content makes sense for them? In this instance, we knew the travel group was conversing with individual business travelers, but their customers also included the event industry, HR and training teams, procurement, as well as leisure travelers, millennials and specific country segments.

What conversations are relevant for a global luxury travel group to own across all these customer demographics? We believe our writers and strategists came up with some awesome ideas around luxury travel, but the conversations we suggested the group own were specifically targeted. There are many conversations a global luxury travel group should not own. And not all conversations are aligned to a brand. Targeting is critical.

Your consumer’s time is a currency, earn it

We’re all consumers of content. We know what captures our imaginations as individuals. Whether it’s K-pop or the latest Mashable or Huffington Post article, we know the sites we trust and go back to. That’s exactly the same process your customer goes through. They know what they want and are open to information sources they can trust. However, if you get it wrong – say you launch a tantalizing campaign that draws your excited customer to a site and you’re just selling a product (we’ve all experienced this disappointment right?) – do you think they’ll return? Or have their Marketing Defense Systems come up against your brand?

Recognise the finite amount of time your customers have and ask, “Is the content we’re creating worth their time?” If it’s not, why bother at all? You’re competing for that time. To get that investment, be awesome and challenge the status quo. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and do something completely different. Work with amazing content creators who understand both your business AND your customer.

Brands are awesome at speaking about themselves, but that time has gone. Talk to the customer and address their needs, not yours. That takes a whole new set of skills and insight, but it’s worth the time.

What do you think? Are you feeling the content deluge? What brands have earned your time?



Like my posts? Follow me here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

This blog originally appeared on the Novus Asia blog.

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Content Marketing and Personal Branding are Inextricably Linked

Simon Cholmeley and I were thrilled to be invited to speak at the Microsoft Platinum Partner Summit 2015 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last week.

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What’s Holding Asia’s Businesses Back from Content Marketing?

I’ve had the great privilege to do a few speaking spots recently, and it’s given me an opportunity to really hone my thinking around how I present about content marketing, as well as to hear perspectives from other professionals in the field. Content marketing is actually a massive topic, with lots of different angles to consider – personal branding, social selling, storytelling, the brand editor, etc are all part of it – so it’s not a simple discussion and the deeper you go, the more complex it appears. However, the good news is we’re having the discussion in Asia and that’s terrific.

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Why McKinsey is One of my Favourite B2B Content Marketing Brands

I’m doing another content “audit” for technology companies, and as I did last time, my starting point is LinkedIn. Why? Because if a brand is in the B2B space, this should be the only place I need to go to find amazing content focused on enterprise business professionals.

I believe that any B2B business should be focused on delivering rich content, relevant to job functions, on company LinkedIn page as a first port of call. Prospects on LinkedIn are not really that interested in your press releases, your people, or your community activities, although that is nice. Instead, content on your company page must first be solutions focused for the audience you want to reach.

If I explained it very simply, I would say: LinkedIn is the place I go for answers to help me, not to be sold by you. That comes later, once you’ve got my loyalty.

Alas, I don’t believe the majority of brands are understanding this yet and the company pages on LinkedIn reflect this. I’m so passionate about it, I want to ring them all and say hey, do you appreciate what a big miss this is for your business? Not utilizing LinkedIn company pages today is a massive missed opportunity, not just for business, but for executives who aren’t using the blogging platform. Businesses and leaders need to focus on having a social voice now – one speaking to your customer’s challenges – and LinkedIn is an obvious place to start this journey. Let’s change it in Asia in 2015 huh?

Content marketing

One brand that IS doing world-class content marketing is McKinsey & Company – and I’m not just talking about its LinkedIn page. If you move between McKinsey on LinkedIn to its company page on Facebook, you’ll uncover a rich feast of information on leadership, business technology, marketing and sales, strategy and organisation, investment, and so on. I also greatly value how global it is (not all global companies get this mix right), the vertical and country focus, and as someone who loves the technology sector, how it delves into the business case around hot trends – cloud, data, enterprise mobility, IoT, 3D printing, and more. Its great fodder for my curious brain, which loves to makes sense out of how technology is transforming the world.

Of course, McKinsey isn’t just on LinkedIn and Facebook. There are plenty of Twitter handles @McKinsey, @McKinseySociety and @McK_MktgSales to name a few. Google+ is also utilized across its various focus areas as well. I couldn’t find a Pinterest page, but McKinsey content is definitely being shared on Pinterest – I’m sharing it here. Its great information.

However, a reason I admire McKinsey’s more is its human page: Real Life at McKinsey. This is where it tells stories of the people who work at McKinsey and what they value in both their professional and personal life. What I find interesting is that very few companies can do content like this without looking completely corny. McKinsey have mastered this art and the segmentation from other corporate content makes a lot of sense to me. If you want to see how it’s done, subscribe to this Facebook page. It will make you want to work at McKinsey.

McKinsey is doing great work and have fully grasped the concept of content marketing. It’s not about creating more of the same marketing content and pushing it out over new social channels, it’s about creating content focused on helping the customer and building their loyalty to your brand. That’s what content marketing is fundamentally about.

Content marketing

Very briefly, two other businesses of note who are doing interesting content marketing include The World Economic Forum and the BBC – yep, a news business. Let me tell you why.

Where Fox News’ #OverIT2014 campaign on Twitter was a horrible failure – a case of really not understanding those who hate your brand (not dissimilar to McDonalds #McDStories back in 2012) – the BBC gets social and content. If you watch the BBC, its fully embraced social media from the beginning, and new platforms are picked up relatively quickly – which is impressive for an old, established icon. Over the Christmas/NY period I noticed a lot of crowdsourcing of content, which was then shared, and it went spectacularly well.

My top three:

  1. The Beeb asked for pictures where ever you were celebrating NY resulted in: In pictures: How you captured New Year celebrations
  2. In Pictures: India through the eyes of its children. You may not agree this is content marketing, but I do because it’s not journalists creating this content, but a story wrapped around the photographs children have taken. Very nice
  3. And probably my favourite “Drawing the News

The BBC is providing a few seconds of fame to its contributors and curating great, human content – smart move. It does a lot more than this with its deep social media integration, but I appreciated the holiday sharing.

Content marketingI’d also like to shout out The World Economic Forum. A new addition to my reading list, check out the World Economic Forum Agenda – a rich information resource, covering leadership, business, IT, the environment, the region, and so much more. Definitely one I track daily for interesting content.

The goal of this site? “The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.”

I’m sure this blog has built an enormous amount of traffic to the site, from communities they would probably never have attracted before. Bravo.

So there you go, three of my favourites, with McKinsey tops of the pops in the B2B space. Which brand do you value for your content marketing? I’m always happy to take on new recommendations – especially in the B2B space.

Cheers Andrea

You can connect with me on Twitter or like the Communicating Asia Pacific Facebook page.

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Dear Analysts, Please Get More Social

As I’ve recently “retired” from yet another chapter as an analyst relations person in the technology industry, I wanted to share a few thoughts with my friends, the analysts. As some of you know, I sincerely believe there is a massive opportunity for everyone on social media, and I’d love to see you all embrace it. I’m an evangelist, what can I say?

What I’m suggesting is for you to get A LOT more active at utilizing social media to build your personal brands, as well as the brands of your firms. I ask this for your benefit, as well as for the benefit of the tirelessly working AR people you deal with every day.

To give you some context, when I first did AR (back in London in the 90s) we didn’t have social media, however the challenges getting vendors to pay attention to you hasn’t changed much at all – something that I know frustrates you. I’ve always seen the reason for this being the fact that much of the influence you have cannot be “seen” or measured. In Asia, that problem is exacerbated even more.

Social media

I’ve always seen industry analysts and AR people like a marriage. To have a good marriage, it’s got to work both ways


If I might just put you in the shoes of the average AR person.

It’s very challenging getting internal attention, because in the region, vendors are running at a million miles an hour, not everyone has access to your research, we can never know about your closed door conversations with customers/prospects unless they tell us about them (and that requires someone to capture it – impossible), and we can’t capture your media results because there’s just too many countries and languages to monitor. Fundamentally, the analyst community in Asia is a massive group of people with a massive influence, and there never seems to be enough resources on the AR front for most vendors in Asia, so it’s all just a little bit challenging.

And that’s where social media comes in.

But what’s in it for me, I hear you ask? Well….

  • Career opportunities – you may already be a leading analyst (and I’ll get to you in a moment) but for those building their reputations – internally and externally – there is no better way than to harness the power of social to help you achieve that. Influencers are on social media, so that’s where you become one, and those who do this will have much greater career opportunities. Social influence is becoming critical when being considered for career opportunities, so if you want to build your career, social media is one of the greatest tools to let everyone know what you stand for
  • If you are a super star analyst, then it is an opportunity to share your wisdom, inspire your juniors, provide your organization with a compelling message for customers/potential customers and the media, as well as a platform to get vendors switched onto you. Not everyone has access to your research and not everyone has access to you, so this is a way to reach a big audience quickly and maximize your personal influence, your organisations influence and elevate the importance of analyst’s full stop. You are the smartest guys in the room, so if you can share a little piece of that knowledge with all of us, we’d be super grateful
  • You are influencers – social media is dominated by people calling themselves ‘thought-leaders’ and ‘influencers’ and the people considered this in the technology world are the analysts, so please join the party
  • The media track social media (esp. Twitter) for opinion leaders and influencers to comment on news stories. If you want PR opportunities for yourself/your company, then social is where it’s happening today

There are many more reasons, but the essence of my message is: it’s time. The world is changing – as you are predicting – and being active participants in this new social world is more important than ever before, for everyone in business.

Now let me tell you how an AR person can benefit if you get more social.  As you know, an AR person has many responsibilities, but the most important (in my view) is to PR you and the work you do in Asia. Therefore, your involvement on social media helps AR folks, which benefits you/your organisation in return. How?

  • Blogs – one of the best tools available to analysts is blogging. Blogs provide an opportunity to capture the essence of the area you research, what end-users are saying, good experiences with vendors, bad experiences with vendors, etc… The AR person can share this internally (and externally) because it’s something tangible about your influence. It doesn’t have to be positive for a vendor, because the criticism provides an opportunity to learn. Naturally a positive piece is a great opportunity for an AR person, and your blogs provide a measurable piece of information AR people can utilize
  • Vendor events – you all attend events and I know sometimes it feels like this is all you do. Why not blog about the event, what you heard, what you liked, what you didn’t and what surprised you? IDC provides an event recap but it’s not socialized – why? Forrester is great at event recaps. Gartner I’ve never seen one. Phil Hassey is hot on this and that’s great. After an event is over, this content is gold as proof of success (or learnings) for an AR person
  • Social media – LinkedIn is a very powerful medium for analysts, so is Twitter. The IDC team are strong on Twitter, as is IBRS, CapioIT, with Ovum, Frost & Sullivan, Forrester and Gartner there as well. Just so you know, after the Analyst Summit last year I clipped every single Tweet you shared into the final wrap up report – the good, the bad and the ugly. Yes it took me a really long time, but it was terrific proof of the event’s success and learnings, so it’s valued
  • Media coverage – one thing I always appreciated is analysts sending me coverage they appeared in that was relevant to me. Obviously if it was positive I would send it over my social channels, but equally, I would share it on the internal Yammer network too – that’s why it’s a great thing. AR people can help you too

If I think of the analysts who really get this stuff, I’d definitely say:

Social media

Facebook Thinks I’m Fat

(Facebook thinks I need plastic surgery by the way – you?)

Of course, when compared to some of the global heavy weights – Tiffani Bova, Brian Solis or Ray Wang – lessons could be learned. But for everyone I’ve copied here, all are worth following, and bookmark Gartner’s blog site. A great information resource.

Concluding now. I write this knowing the analysts are super busy, and if Dave Noble’s recent blog is anything to go by, it’s only going to get busier. BUT this is about YOU. It’s about taking care of yourself and your personal brand. It’s kind of like taking care of your health, but for your career instead. Your firm obviously benefits too, but that’s not as important as what you get. I also appreciate that some of your firms have restrictions on what you can and can’t do, but you know, perhaps it’s time to have discussions to get that changed? It really is redundant thinking.

I believe in the power of social media to change the world, but it changes careers too. I’d be thrilled to know my blog helped you love social just a little bit more, because I miss working with you, but I still want to “hear” from you!

Take care, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to those celebrating.



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12 Social Media Profiles – Narcissist, Spousal Invader, Or?

I was at an APSS event recently and the discussion was around LinkedIn and how to better utilize this great networking asset. It was an informative session and thanks to some pointers from Chris J. Reed, I’ve updated my profile with the new tools available. I do recommend you check out what you can do now on LinkedIn. It’s awesome.

One other thing Chris mentioned was the One Percent Rule – where one percent of people on social media are the contributors (see explanation below), nine percent are participating and sharing, with the following 90 percent not doing much at all, other than inviting you to play Candy Crush. It’s been apparent for a very long time that the 90 percent just don’t seem to get that the one percent don’t have time to play games! Those invites keep on coming though…

One Percent RuleThe 1-9-90 rule makes a lot of sense to me in regards to social interactivity in Asia, especially as I am a One Percenter. I can also see that, as a blogger, I need to ensure my nine percent group is strong.

As always, the session got me thinking, and I’ve come up with my own “profiles” associated with how people contribute in the social world. This is my observations based on my own community, however I think I’m connected to just about every country, race, religion and culture within my network, so a good test case perhaps?

The One Percenters

This group are born communicators. Not only do they create their own content in blogs, articles, etc, they fundamentally believe in the sharing of diverse knowledge – anything that makes them think, laugh or even the stuff that outrages them. Professionally, they’ll share a wide array of information on their field of excellence and support others’ writing about similar subjects. The One Percenters value knowledge and believe sharing ideas can fundamentally change the world. They’re typically open to different opinions, argue passionately, love the collaboration they get to create across the world, and most of the time, provide good fodder for friend’s timelines. The great thing about The One Percenters is they’re also terrific supporters. They’ll love your kids photos, your latest meal and if you want to launch a blog or a Facebook fan page, make sure they know about it, ‘cos they’ll “Like” it and share it – appreciating how hard it is getting any support in Asia. They don’t just communicate out with the world, they actively participate in it, although there are definitely some Narcissists in the one percent gang. Naturally, with three blogs, lots of content under my belt, and a penchant for sharing knowledge, I consider myself a “One Percenter.”

The Nine Percent Includes…

Knowledge is Power

The Knowledge Lovers

While not creating content, this group love knowledge in all its forms. This is the group you definitely want in your tribe as a One Percenter. The Knowledge Lovers admire the One Percenters, but appreciate that creating content is just not their thing. This group is more inclined towards (what I think of as) Microblogging – as in sharing not only their content , but their opinion too – rather than just sharing a link (something that really frustrates me). They’ll tag you in content they think you’ll love, acknowledge the great work of people they know, and just be general cheer leaders for this new world of social. An important differentiator for a Knowledge Lover is they will never share information they have not read first. They appreciate that their credibility is linked to the quality of information they share, so don’t expect them to retweet your blog within five seconds of posting it. It’s not their thing. This group constantly reads every chance they get.

The Narcissists

Then we get The Narcissists – bless. These folk are on social media channels and quite active to boot, but it’s all about them. They’ll share pictures, adventures, events they’re in and more, but they’ll never EVER (well rarely) “like,” share or acknowledge anyone else’s work. Sometimes it’s because they’re just too busy, but the reality is, they see social media as a one-way-street-for-information-distribution, and they’re all over it for that. Be sure to protect your heart from disappointment when they don’t acknowledge your existence. Of course, confused within The Narcissist gang can be the famous and semi-famous – especially those building a brand around their personality. These people are not narcissistic, they are just building a business, and if you are in their close community, they usually go above and beyond for their friends. It’s a fine line.

The Addicts

The Addicts typically cross a lot of social media channels – usually with one favorite in the mix, although not always. These are the sorts of people who let you know where they’ve checked in (aka the Foursquare generation), and they’re often all over Twitter, having conversations all night with complete strangers. You can usually identify The Addicts when they reveal (on social media of course) that “they just need to take a break from social media” – although the break rarely lasts long. I’ve never been a fan of the stranger conversations – preferring to build fewer, deeper relationships – so this group has always been a curiosity to me.

The Community Builders

This is another active group within the top 10 percent of participants, and their goal is to build the biggest community they can as quickly as they can. The Community Builders spend hours and hours following people, they build groups and lists, they know every powerful hashtag in the universe, they join popular conversations and participate, and they are often very successful in raising their personal brand above the noise. I personally don’t know how anyone has the time to do this while working a day job, but I take my hat off to them for the investment. If you get on their radar and they like what you do, they often support you – but it’s not for you, it’s for them.

The Social Channel Fanatics

I love this group of people. They will do everything in their power to convince you that one social channel stands above all others and that is where you need to be. You can always identify a Social Channel Fanatic by their fevered eyes as they wax lyrical about why this one single channel is all you need and why the rest are not relevant at all. While I am always an appreciator of passion, I’ve learnt that arguing the point, suggesting maybe some other channels are better for different people based on their style of interaction, is, well, generally pretty wasted. The Social Channel Fanatics are a great resource to get to the bottom of one particular social channel however, so the depth of learning can be quite wonderful.

The 90 Percent Includes…

The Voyeurs

I know these people exist, because every time I turn up at a networking event, BBQ or a party they’ll tell me everything I’ve been doing in my life, but NOT ONCE did they ever comment or acknowledge my existence online! The Voyeurs don’t participate (beyond an occasional like) and they merely observe the lives of those around them. Sometimes it’s because they’re shy, sometimes it’s because they don’t see the point, and sometimes, it’s just ‘cos the world has to have its voyeurs… it’d be boring without them right?

The Social Critics

Probably my favorite group is this one. The Social Critics are on social media – usually in a limited way – and they use every chance they get to tell you that social media sucks.  I find them a curiosity within the mix, because they do utilize social, however because they do not tend to have a professional need to use it in a more considered way, the negatives tend to outweigh the positives. Examples where it’s not necessary are: they’re getting towards the end of their career and can’t see the point, they work within a very small community so it’s not necessary for career advancement, or they have never left the place they grew up in so most people are physically close to them. While participating to a limited extent, The Social Critics deride it every chance they get. I’ve never gotten to the bottom of that one.

The Socially Inept

This group are not always conscious of their actions (or words) and are the ones who inadvertently drop comments that most consider racist, sexist, un-nationalistic, and generally, not acceptable. The comments are usually posted without expectation of a response – other than for people to agree with them – but when people do respond, often with vitriol, The Socially Inept are surprised. The social revolution has not necessarily been a great thing for this group. You can find extreme examples of how they’ve gotten it very very wrong very very often here, and here and here. While the virality of these stories were impossible to ignore, I suppose the good news is that the Socially Inept attend to learn very harsh lessons very quickly. Long overdue. We all know people like this, so perhaps if you’re aware of anyone at risk, you can share these links and help them see the light?

Anton Casey

The Newbies

I think my favorite group – because they’re just cute – are the brand new people on social media – The Newbies. They’re straggling in these days, with the vast bulk of developed country humans engaged somewhere. The Newbies post their first comment – to which most people go “about time you joined us,” and then they get tentative, before going quiet to observe what everyone else is doing. Alternatively, they post absolute nonsense and before they know it, people jump on them, and they go quiet. It’s a bit of a scary world for The Newbie, because they are entering an established “structure” and aren’t always confident in how to play this game. The challenge for this gang is they are not early adopters, so this obviously isn’t an intuitive medium for them, and thus, it’s scary. We’re not all the same. But it’s not rocket science, just be authentic and have fun.

The Yeah Whatevs

Remember when mobile phones came out in the late 90s and a lot of us rushed off and got one? Then the next round of adopters got one? Then the next? Finally, there remained a small 4th group who were all attitude, saying “why would I want one of them?” In my mind, this demographic was typically 30’ish male professionals, and they finally cracked about six years ago – the final frontier of mobile phone adoption was won. After that, they were incredibly annoying and couldn’t be without their phones – picking them up during dinner (but not to look at Facebook), interrupting conversations to take calls – yawn! Well those people are not anywhere on social media – other than LinkedIn. You can always spot The Yeah Whatev male, because they wax lyrical at dinner parties about why they aren’t on it, and everyone else is thinking “there is no escape in the long-run sunshine, you’ll see!”

The Spouse Invader

As an addendum to The Yeah Whatevs, I have to add a special category in its own right – The Spouse Invader. Again the majority are male, as let’s face it, women are natural communicators. The Spouse Invader is not on social media, although if anywhere, they do have a shabby LinkedIn profile, but never share anything on it. This group cannot make any sense of Twitter. Google+ what, why? Pinterest is women’s business, although they’ll benefit from the collection of recipes someone has been studiously collating. Facebook, no way, but perhaps I can just have a sneak peak over my spouses’ shoulder? “Hey love, you’ve left Facebook on, do you mind if I take a look?” They are participating, they just want to tell the world that they’re not. I am thankful my husband is not a Spouse Invader.

Concluding now… I promise

Obviously much of the above is tongue-in-cheek and will hopefully make you smile, but we do live in interesting times and for professionals, how we participate on digital channels will become more and more critical for our success and advancement.

In recent months, I’ve been running workshops and training sessions, trying to get more colleagues and professional friends intelligently utilizing social assets to enhance their career opportunities. I really believe in it.

As much as I’m sharing, I’m also learning and gaining clarity on the challenges people are facing. For example, some of the lessons and epiphanies have been:

  1. There is no one size fits all approach – how you engage for professional growth is a very personal journey, based on your unique character and ambitions
  2. Many professionals are being told they should get on social media, but few are explaining to them the why and the how
  3. Most people don’t even know where to start when it comes to sharing information or where they get the information from. Helping people hone in on their areas of expertise and suitable resources for information is a great place to start
  4. People are not understanding the benefit of their companies’ brand, nor are companies understanding the benefit of individual employee brands within their organization. The fundamental message is people speak, companies do not, so you’ve got to make this a priority with all employees in an organization – especially your senior execs. It’s not a nice to have anymore
  5. Successful participation in social media is about giving not getting. This is for companies as well as individuals. People are not really understanding that fundamental philosophy. We must connect with our hearts and minds to be successful. We must be thinking about what will make the biggest impact on the audience we want to influence, and then subtly weave in our own personal goals too

Stand out from the crowd

While social interaction is completely intuitive to me, for the majority of people, it really seems a confusing minefield. In the early days of speaking on this topic, I felt stupid talking about things that were so obvious to me. But they are not obvious to the 90 percent. As such, I’ve decided my goal is to help as many professionals as I can get into the nine percent gang, if not the one percent.

But people must join this world in a way that makes sense to them and can help them build towards their goals. The “What’s in it for Me” is absolutely critical to understand – and there are a lot of individual options in the WIIFM argument. Making sense of that individually is where we are right now.

Any thoughts on who I missed and which profile you can most relate to?



PS: I always try to write short blogs, and here I am again…

PPS: some of my professional social media assets are

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I’ve been spending a bit of time with my Yammer colleagues recently, and there are two philosophies I really love about this team of inspired people. The first is “let’s change the world together” – yes please, I love that and I’m in. The second is encouraging all people to #worklikeanetwork. I absolutely couldn’t agree more and think this is an area everyone in Asia needs to be focusing on as we move towards a digital future. No matter your role, it’s relevant.

What does #worklikeanetwork mean? Microsoft defines it this way:

“It takes a network of people to serve a network of customers. Microsoft connects people and information across familiar applications, so your company can listen, adapt, and grow at the speed of a networked world.”

In fact, this YouTube flick really brings #worklikeanetwork to life

The truth is, this way of working is so tantalizingly close, I can taste it and I’m excited about it. It’s just waiting for all of us to get on board and embrace it. The technology is certainly ready.

I am well into this game, because I naturally work out loud, love sharing great information, love participating, and adore all of the information and opinions I have access to since social media changed all of our lives forever. I am a communicator and a sharer, so this new world is a dream come true for me.

When I think of the idea of #worklikeanetwork, it’s about participating across all of your social pillars, and that goes for your professional interactions as well – because social offers amazing opportunities to be really transformative in how we all approach our work and career aspirations today.

The struggle in Asia is that very few people are really understanding and applying this to their everyday work, taking into account the cultural challenges we face as well. Equally, many do not understand their role in their companies’ success within the context of how they participate, nor how their employer benefits from their participation – it’s a two-way street. Please read “Role of Personal Branding in Innovation” – specifically focusing on the typical organization versus the future organization. This is a very worthwhile read.

In Asia, many of us are active on social networks, but not enough are actively engaging from a professional point of view – we’re just too passive and missing opportunities to boot. If you read the above article (and many more on the topic) this is about building YOUR personal brand – an investment I sincerely believe will impact future career opportunities. Think about it, if you stand side-by-side with a candidate of equal measure and one of you is active, the other not, who does the new employer choose? It’s going to be that straight forward right?

Therefore, I encourage everyone to get out there and get noisy. But do it with thought, otherwise you’ll be swamped or make a silly mistake that will go against you – there are plenty of examples.

Before you make the decision to get going, I encourage you to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Who am I in the business world?
  2. What do I stand for? What does my company stand for?
  3. Am I more than one thing?
  4. What can I commit to?

Alternatively, this Forbes article – “3 Critical Questions To Ask Yourself Before Building Your Personal Brand” – encourages you to ask yourself:

  1. What makes me great?
  2. What makes me unique?
  3. What makes me compelling?

I like these questions, and believe I answered them for myself long ago. To give you some context, five years ago I decided to segment my personal brand. Firstly, I am a professional communicator (who loves content marketing, social media/business, communications, and inspirational business), BUT I’m also a Mum and I am Andrea the woman – the sort who likes dirty jokes and enjoys a good argument about religion, feminism… well you name it.

Each of these segments is me, but do they need to cross-over into each other and become part of my professional profile as well? I don’t think so, so I separated myself – as much as one can. My three profiles have a blog, as well as various social media channels dedicated to each “brand.” I don’t believe everyone needs to segment themselves like I have – some people can be who they are across all of their channels – but if you need to segment yourself, it’s definitely worth considering. Then work out who you are and what you stand for.

The final point, of my four points above, is what can I commit to? I love social and I am all over it. It’s not easy keeping up and I certainly don’t do as much as I want to do, but it’s a priority for me so I am more active than most. To give you a feel, here’s my active social channels – although SlideShare is more about reading and sharing than participating right now…

Personal Branding
Yes, it’s rather busy keeping up.

But what can you do? Is Twitter all you’ve got in you? Focus on that. LinkedIn? Facebook? Google+? Make your decisions based on what you can manage and grow from there, but don’t be half-baked across multiple platforms. You may as well not play at all.

There’s a lot I can say here, but here are my top eight tips if you’re not doing enough and want to do more:

  1. Define your voice and what you stand for. Additionally, if you want to do something else in the future, it’s good to build your credibility in that field long before you start looking for work or launching a new business. Say you’re a programmer today and want to be a florist in the future – start a blog on flowers right now and build a social channel dedicated to floristry. You’ll have credibility before you start and it’ll be much easier when the time comes
  2. Be realistic about what you can do and commit to it! Commitment is such a big priority in this area and not being consistent will kill you. This is a patience game, so if you are half baked, it will take a lot longer to get results and that can also be shocking for your confidence
  3. Support your brand. If you are working for a company, you get a lot of benefits being associated with its brand. When I ran my own business, it was much harder to get attention. With Microsoft beside my name, more people sit up and take notice. So share your companies news and information – just aim for one a day if you can’t do more
  4. Find sites in your field and share content every day. I’ve written about this before and it’s the easiest way to get going. As a simple rule, follow 1-5 great publications or blogs (I follow up to 10) that really resonate with you and your personal brand, then if you like it, share it. Copy the author if you can – this increases your reach/ability to build your network. The important part here – ADD YOUR OPINION. Don’t just share links. Inspire me to read it and tell me why I should. I’ll appreciate your insight
  5. Support colleagues and people you admire by sharing their work – because we’re still not doing this in Asia and I have been saying it for years (Like It Share It). You have a role to play in helping others build their personal brand, just as they have a role in helping you build yours. Don’t wait until you need something – a new job, a promotion, a referral, support for your new blog (I get asked to support new blogs all the time) – do it now. In fact, if you like this blog and think it will be great for your community, why not share it? I’d sure appreciate it
  6. Include three hashtags with everything – this is so simple and so important, but it’s a habit you need to develop if you’re not doing it yet. It’s important because it connects you to audiences beyond your immediate community and that means you build a stronger network. For example, if you want to reach new sectors and don’t have the connections, #tags can get you in there, so do your research on what hashtags those targets follow and use them – three is good standard practice
  7. Join, create and participate in groups – LinkedIn, Tweet chats, Google hang-outs, whatever suits you. This isn’t easy and it can be time consuming, so choose one to get started and get active. If one doesn’t exist in your community, create one – easy peasy
  8. Be kind and be careful. Never judge or criticize anyone or anything – Anton Casey is a recent example of how it can all unravel very quickly. We also had another Former Miss Singapore in the media spot light this last week, after making insensitive comments on Facebook. It didn’t cause quite as much of a stir as Mr. Casey, but nobody wants that glare. My suggestion for professional criticism is be constructive – especially when someone is creating something you haven’t got the courage to do. Blogging, as an example, is not easy. It’s hard to put yourself out there in the world, so go easy on us

The one thing I’d love to see everyone in Asia embracing is the idea that we are all a Personal Brand. To stand out in this digital future – developing, nurturing, protecting, and valuing your personal brand is critical to success. We all need to make sure our personal brand stands for something remarkable if we want to excel – that’s the world we live in now. Also understand your personal brand’s value within the context of your employer, because it goes both ways. Truly innovative companies of the future will really value those with a strong and credible personal brand.

Facebook logo

Does this get a thumbs up?

With all that said, I certainly don’t have all of the answers and I haven’t got it all right – it’s a constant work in progress. But I’d LOVE to hear thoughts and feedback from my peers in this great region? Any insight on what you think professionals in Asia can do to nurture their personal brands?

It would be wonderful to see us all harnessing the great digital platforms available today – both internally and externally – so we can all gain the amazing benefits that #worklikeanetwork delivers.

I’m definitely in. Are you?


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Filed under Business, Content and Context, Messaging and Positioning


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