Tips from the Trenches: Q&A with Social Media Week Founder Toby Daniels

“Be purposeful in what you do. Think about the why of every action you take, every piece of communication you share and every interaction or new relationship you forge.” — Toby Daniels, Founder, Social Media Week

When we met Toby Daniels, founder & executive director of Social Media Week (SMW), and CEO of Crowdcentric, we were instantly impressed with his vision of how the world could be better connected through the power of social media — as well as live interaction – and wanted him to share some of his wisdom with us here.

Since Daniels founded Social Media Week in 2008, it has become a major global conference reaching more than 100,000 people in 26 cities around the world, aiming to connect people and brands around emerging trends in social and mobile media. In order to build SMW into what it is today, Daniels and his small team have done a great job leveraging word of mouth – and, of course, social media – to spread the gospel worldwide.

SMW 2013 kicks off on February 18 in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Miami, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, DC. Join the worldwide conversation by posting on your own social media platforms with hashtag #SMW13.

 

When you first started Social Media Week, how did you promote it to the world?

Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and outreach through my personal network were my primary outlets. One of the most important things I did early on with SMW was establish an advisory board of key influencers, community leaders, academics and luminaries in the emerging media and technology space. When we announced the conference in early 2009, they were a key factor in helping to get the word out.

Since then we’ve refined our approach, but even to this day, our most effective form of promotion is through our community, which in four years has grown to more than 100k professionals worldwide.

 

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

Two slightly conflicting pieces of advice:  1) No one does PR better than you and 2) Let your community do your PR for you.

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Bragging on Social Media: Useful or Annoying?

Can bragging on Facebook and other social platforms backfire? In an extreme example this week, a gang of thugs in Brooklyn boasted about committing murder on their Facebook pages and got arrested as a result. Verdict? Not smart! While most of us are bragging about much less criminal things (we hope!), touting your accomplishments through social media may still have a negative result.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last month ago called “Are We All Braggarts Now?”, which examines whether social media has given people a platform — and permission — to constantly boast about their accomplishments, children, jobs and lives in general. In the piece, Elizabeth Bernstein writes that “we’ve become so accustomed to boasting that we don’t even realize what we’re doing. And it’s harmful to our relationships because it turns people off.” We believe this is a generalization and that, while select folks spend all their Tweets and Facebook posts talking about how their child is the world’s most talented and beautiful, there are ways to leverage social media to promote yourself and what you’re proud of in a smart and more subtle way.

In our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, we dedicate an entire chapter, called “Toot Your Own Horn (but Not Too Loudly),” to teaching people how to be their own publicists without irritating those on the receiving end. There’s an art to self-promotion and part of it is building your reputation slowly and strategically so you don’t come across as too in-your-face. (Though we don’t see what’s so bad about posting “Got my first royalty check for my book,” as referenced in the article. As authors ourselves, we know what a huge deal it is to finally see some rewards from all the hard work you put in!). Nonetheless, here are a few tips on how to avoid being pegged as a braggart:

Pat yourself on the back but pat others harder. It’s okay to post something about an award you won, but make sure you’re also congratulating others when they’ve received accolades. Hit the “like” button on Facebook or re-tweet it when you see that people you know have posted about their personal milestones and they’ll likely do the same for you. A third-party endorsement often has more impact than if you tout your own accomplishments.

Offer a take-away. If you wrote a great blog post about how to avoid being a braggart, for example, linking to it might actually offer useful advice to the folks who click on it. Or if you say, “Our nanny is a rock star,” maybe you can tell people where you found her so they can find their own personal Mary Poppins or link to the great sample sale where you scored amazing Hermes piece, so others can benefit too.

Don’t make others feel bad. We haven’t had a real vacation in a while (that’s a whole other blog post!), so it’s natural to feel a wee bit jealous when we see our friends post amazing beach shots of their tropical trips (though we’re mostly happy for them). That happiness would be dampened, though, if they posted or tweeted things like, “Ha, ha! I bet you wish you were here!” or “I feel like I died and went to paradise.” instead of “Great view from my hotel room in Costa Rica.” The upshot: Be cognizant that not everyone is as lucky as you are, watch your tone and try not to over-post. (You are on vacation, after all!)

You can always dial down who sees what posts on social media, if you fear that you are over-sharing to your extended crowd. And, on the flip side, if you feel that some of your Facebook friends or those you follow on Twitter are getting out of hand with their self-promotion, simply filter out their posts or stop following them. That way, when you see them face-to-face next time, stories about their child landing first seat in the school orchestra or their latest major deal at work won’t irk you quite as much.

What kind of posts annoy you?  Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

Using Social Media to Burn Bridges: A Good or Bad Idea?

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a story about the trend of kissing off your former employer (or soon to be!) in a very public way online, whether on Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube. While this may be a “cathartic” experience, as one person interviewed in the piece said, this kind of behavior can have negative repercussions that will affect your future career. Here’s some advice from Be Your Own Best Publicist for what to think about before you post a big f-u to the job you just left on your social media channels:

Your digital legacy outlasts you. Your online profile lives on even after you don’t. Every tweet you make ends up in the Library of Congress. Your Facebook page stays up unless someone physically removes it. And Google is your first resume these days. If you blog/tweet/post nasty things about a past employer, it won’t take long for potential employers to find it. Most HR professionals are checking out candidates’ social media profiles these days and wouldn’t look too kindly on someone who publicly bad-mouthed their last company or boss.

Patience is a virtue. In a world of instant gratification, where it takes a second to tweet, post or email something, we tend to act immediately instead of taking a breath and thinking about it before doing the damage. In the old days, you’d write an angry letter, put it in a drawer somewhere and re-read it a day later. (In many instances, it went back in the drawer or in the trash, never to be seen by its intended recipient). Now, when we’re upset, we vent in real time without always considering the consequences.

The high road is usually the best route to success. You may have had an abusive boss, a terrible job or were fired without good reason. But any time we interview someone and they trash-talk their former workplaces, it’s a huge turnoff. In PR, we teach our clients to deflect tough questions such as why they’re better than their competitors so they’re not spending an interview saying negative things about someone else, but rather positive things about themselves. If asked why you left your last job, simply say, “It wasn’t the right fit for me” or “I learned a lot but was ready to move on to a new opportunity.” Enough said.

Gripe all you want — in private. Listen, we all have bad experiences at work and feel like yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” but try to limit your complaining to a small circle of friends and family, who will let you vent your frustration before you post it on Facebook. Or, instead of blogging about it, write it in a good old fashioned journal that the world won’t see. Remember “Dear Diary”? Not everyone needs to read about your deepest darkest emotions on WordPress.

Have you ever publicly griped about work?  What were the consequences? Tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

Social Media and the Summer Vacation

Social media continues to change the way we live our lives and, according to the Wall Street Journal, how we communicate when we’re on vacation. A recent story by Elizabeth Holmes shared the challenge that people who have a strong social media presence have when taking a summer vacation: Stay connected and tweeting to keep your followers happy but face the pressure to remain “on-message,” even when you are officially off the clock.

If you’re a super user — or just super into the social media scene — here are some tips if you want to unplug on your time off:

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News You Can Use: Generation Sell, Share or Self-Employed? What People Saying About Gen Y

In one day, we read three articles about Generation Y in The New York Times and The New York Post — that covered topics from self-promotion and gossip to whether or not you really need to go to college to succeed. Here are the soundbites:

Millennials Embrace Entrepreneurialism & Salesmanship: On the front page of the Times’ SundayReview section, an article entitled “Generation Sell” by William Deresiewicz, paints Millennials as “polite, pleasant, moderate, earnest, friendly” and  comments that “We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something…we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves as the business, something to be managed and promoted.” Our question is, “What is wrong with that?” In this extremely challenging job market that Gen Y is graduating into, if they don’t sell themselves, no one is going to do it for them. In order to get noticed, as we discuss in our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, you must treat yourself as a product to be promoted.’

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News You Can Use: First-Time Job Seekers May Be Struggling for a Reason

In this week’s New York Post @Work section, there’s a great cover story on how many young job seekers may be ruining their chances of getting hired because of various errors they make during the interview process. We’ve blogged about this several times before but it’s imperative that applicants learn to stand out to potential employers — and we don’t mean in a bad way!

Some of the common gaffes covered in the New York Post article include:

  • Spelling/grammar mistakes: It’s amazing how frequently job candidates submit written materials — whether resume, cover letter, writing sample or thank you note — riddled with errors. Even if you use the spell check function on your Blackberry or computer (and our guess is that most don’t!), read it again aloud before sending it and, even better, get someone else to review it first. If job candidates aren’t careful enough to check for mistakes during the interview process, they’ll only get worse once you hire them.
  • Dress for the job you want: We spend a whole chapter in our book Be Your Own Best Publicist on personal style and how to dress appropriately for an interview. We share advice from loads of fashion experts and they all agree that candidates need to be well-groomed, polished and stylish and not be tone-deaf when it comes to the industry or position for which they’re interviewing. For example, if you’re going for a job in a creative field, you may want to dress a bit more fashion-forward (but still no flip-flops, people!) than if you were applying to work in banking or the legal arena.
  • Come prepared: This seems like a no-brainer but endless job candidates apply for positions without doing the proper research on the company, the industry and the person with whom they land an interview (if they get in the door). Having just come from college, where students must do research and study in order to succeed, it’s shocking that recent graduates don’t realize that they need to put the same effort and preparation into a job search, particularly in a tough market where there are fewer jobs available.
  • Keep it professional: An interviewer is not your friend; if you’re lucky, he or she may be your future boss. So don’t get too chummy or casual during your conversations. Don’t discuss your personal life or ask about theirs. Don’t post about your interview on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t curse (yes, people have done this during our interviews!). And please don’t use emoticons in your follow-up email.

Many Gen-Yers suffer from a bit of culture shock when they enter the workforce after college; in most cases, just being “good enough” is simply not going to cut it. And any sense of entitlement certainly won’t either. Young job-seekers need to go above and beyond in order to make a good impression on potential employers. (We share lots of advice on how to do so in our book.) Because as the New York Post article ends, “Not everyone gets a trophy in the real world.”

News We Can Use: Facebook Can Be Risky Business For Those Applying to College

"Princeton could use a guy like Joel"

Twenty-eight years ago, the seminal teenage film “Risky Business” led us to believe that some college recruiters were swayed more by parties and entrepreneurial spirit than academic achievement. However, this week, USA Today told us that today’s admissions people are increasingly turning to Facebook to gauge just how much partying (and other things) a potential student has done before offering them a coveted spot in their institution. In fact, the number of recruiters doing just that to vet potential candidates has quadrupled in the past year alone. Kind of ironic, since the genesis of Facebook itself was a different kind of vettting of co-eds, no?

This is not the image you want to send.

But seriously, this should be a cause for concern for kids and parents alike. We’ve long said that Google is your first resume and that HR professionals are using social media to assess potential candidates as well. Now we know it can also be the key or the barrier to higher education. From typos and grammatical errors to bigger errors in judgment (step away from that bong!), what you put out there will absolutely come back to haunt you. Check out our blog posts about your digital profile and its lasting legacy.

What do you think about recruiters using social media to select their students?  Tell us here or via Facebook or Twitter (@BestPublicist)

 

 

 

 

Should the Holiday be Renamed Non-Labor Day?

This Labor Day, there’s not much to celebrate. According to a recent piece on Business Insider, which compiled alarming stats from various sources, there was zero job growth in the past decade — the worst 10 years on record — and two million people have exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, while another four million will do so by the end of this year. What’s up, America? How is it that the job picture continues to get grimmer and grimmer?

As co-authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, we offer career advice to people at all levels through our book, as well as speaking engagements, coaching sessions and workshops, on how to land that dream job or client — or move up in your current position — by making yourself invaluable, unique and indispensable. But when the job market just keeps getting bleaker, how can you focus on the positive? How do you keep your confidence in tact when you’ve been pounding the pavement for months with no end in sight? How do you avoid letting the fear of losing business, staff or — worse — your job stand in the way of your success? In honor of Labor Day, here’s some hopeful advice and wishful thinking that the job market will rebound by this time next year:

1) It’s all in the spin: When you leave a job, lose a job, or can’t find one, think about yourself as self-employed versus unemployed. If you position yourself to the market as a freelancer or independent contractor, you’ll come across as more confident and likely more employable. Even better, rather than just collect unemployment and send out resumes, try to pitch yourself for freelance work — many companies who have had to cut full-time staff must now rely on less expensive outside contractors whose benefits and insurance they don’t have to cover.

2) Demonstrate value: Okay, so we thought we would never experience what we went through in 2009, with budget and job cuts across the board, but unfortunately we’re dealing with a potential double-dip recession. However, if you still have your job, be thankful and, what’s more, make sure you’re showing value to your company so that when they do have to evaluate headcount and performance, you’ll be the one they simply can’t do without.

3) Stay on the circuit: If you’ve been out of work for a while, don’t give up and sit at home wallowing. Even if you are happily employed, you must continue to connect with as many people as possible.  In fact, studies show that 80 percent of senior level jobs are filled with personal connections, so keep in mind that the bigger your circle, the more job leads you’ll get. Go to networking events, schedule informational interviews with folks in your industry, book coffee dates with anyone you think can help you and connect with people on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

4) Don’t get defeated: Even in challenging times, the best people — the ones who make a positive impact and stand out in a unique way — will ultimately get hired and promoted. While this Labor Day may be overshadowed by our high unemployment rate in the U.S., hopefully it will also serve as a catalyst to get Americans back into the workforce. Some of that will be up to the government, but some of it will be up to you and how well you leverage your skills, talents and connections.

How are you staying upbeat in a tough job market? Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).

The Good, The Bad and the Scary: How Your Digital Profile Impacts Your Job


The Web still continues to be, in most minds, the Wild West (the WWW, if you will). Constantly changing, filled with danger and opportunity, you never know where the next shot will be fired and who will be the next sheriff in town. So, with that in mind, we share with you the WWW’s impact on your job search — Spaghetti Western-style: The Good, The Bad and the Scary:


THE GOOD: Getting Information and Access Is Easier Than Ever.

A lot has been said about companies using social media to identify and screen potential employees, particularly the newly minted set.  But now, the proverbial mouse is in the other hand, according to a recent survey — nearly 28 percent of college students plan to seek employment using LinkedIn. Slightly more than seven percent plan to use Facebook, a platform formerly seen as primarily social.

It’s that blurring of the lines that is actually putting the soon-to-graduate set in the driver’s seat; instead of waiting around for that recruiter to reach out, they’re using digital tools to identify and, ideally, land their ultimate gig. For them, the wealth of online information helps them cull through options to identify companies that align with their values and goals. All is fair game, and a strong digital presence is one way for employers to attract the best and brightest to their ranks.

THE BAD: The Internet never forgets.

Another survey — this one from the Society of Human Resource Management — shows that more companies are recruiting via social networking. Not surprising that almost 100 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn.  What might be news is that Facebook is the next most utilized Social Media site (58%), followed by Twitter (42%).

In addition to being careful about what you post, it’s a good practice to give pause before giving access. In other words, think twice about to whom and to which sites you give access to your Facebook profile. You are who you “hang” out with — one and offline; make sure you know the friends who have access to your profiles and that everyone you are connected to is carefully considering what they post to your wall or the photos you’re tagged in.

THE SCARY: Like it or Not, Everyone is A “Public Figure”

As we’ve said before – Google is your first resume. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we caution that everything you say (or post) can and will be used against you. Run a red light? Cameras are there to catch it. Fall in a fountain accidentally? Someone is filming on a flip cam and uploading to YouTube before you dry off. In this day and age, when walking on the street can inadvertently turn you into an overnight celebrity, everything — did we say “everything”? — is on the record and privacy has basically gone out the window.

Unfortunately, unlike the of-the-moment celebrity or sports star, that white hot spotlight doesn’t translate into a lucrative endorsement deal or the ability to borrow that $1 million pair of Harry Winston earrings for your company’s annual awards ceremony.

 

So remember, your digital profile is your lasting legacy.  Pay attention to your posts, your posse and your privacy settings to stay on the right track.  Giddyup – and good luck!

What other things worry you about the impact of the digital realm?  Share with us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.