If I Could Start Social Over Again

Looking online at the top social media news articles, it is amazing how Facebook and Twitter still dominate conversations. Yet, if I could start over from scratch — I would not use Facebook and Twitter for both professional and personal online efforts.

I have been online in social networks for a long time now. These days when I speak on panels I am the old guy, which is a bit weird. There are others who have been around longer than me or who have walked the earth for many more days, but nevertheless history and legacy are a burden.

The past can prevent you from moving forward unless you make a conscientious decision to embrace change. Consider that online media giant AOL still has 2.3 million dial-up subscribers, yet their business is moving towards online video programming. AOL manages to innovate, but where would they be if they hadn’t been bold and moved towards online content as their primary offering with the acquisitions of Engadget, the Huffington Post and TechCrunch years ago?

The same could be said for how you invest time online. Today, because I have shifted much of my content production to photography, I spend more time on Flickr and 500 Pixels than I do Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Google+. When I do participate on those sites, more of ten than not it’s either for business or to post a picture.

I look at the interactions with my customer base, and believe in some instances that I am wasting my time. So given my customers, passions and the interaction, where would I start?

Separate the Person from the Business

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In the mid 2000s, everyone associated their personalities with their blogs. It was the age of personal brands, and like many others — in spite of my protests about personal branding as a movement — I weaved my personal social media activity and blogging for business together.

As a result, it was harder to scale prior companies, and my own personal adventures and missteps impacted business. Tenacity5 is different (I hope). I have a role as president, and while I am the front man, but it isn’t a personality vehicle. It is a business.

For example, T5 does not promote my personal projects. It is a brand that allows people to provide services, people that are more than me. As the company grows, this will be essential.

I increasingly try to create separation between the business and my interests. It is only on LinkedIn that I allow the two to completely merge, and largely because I see LinkedIn as a business only network.

Facebook Is a Waste of Business Time… Sort of

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I’ve blogged before about how Facebook is almost a zero-sum game for pure marketing posts. Analytics continues to reaffirm that when posts are marketing centric they fail. When they are personal, they tend to do well. Though I caught a lot of grief back then for not marketing on Facebook, I am no longer the only one experiencing this.

I feel like this is particularly true of marketing agencies. We are experimenting again with the Tenacity5 Media Facebook page, but I have sincere doubts. Unless your friends are all marketers or you have a serious ad budget, people don’t want to read crap about content marketing on Facebook. What Facebook is good for is my customers seeing photos, but I doubt they are hiring me because I post nice pics.

In my mind Facebook is a place to post my photos, not to talk shop. And my photography hobby benefits greatly from it. Google+ is definitely in the same vein. People love photos and tech talk and not much else up there, at least in my feed.

I would say that Twitter, though not the most liked or popular network, is a primary driver for business traffic, so I would continue to invest in Twitter. I do find the conversations to be lacking personally.

Then I must admit — as much as it irks me a times — that LinkedIn has successfully become the place for B2B conversations. And a marketing agency is a B2B play. So from a business perspective, I see LinkedIn as important. So much so that we need to find ways to better engage there in the future.

I don’t think much of Instagram or Pinterest right now. The results have been fun at times, but I fail to see the value. I am keeping an open mind, though.

Not Blogging

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Today, I wouldn’t waste my time blogging as a primary business activity. In fact, for the most part I have slowed down significantly. I still post once a week here, mostly because I believe that a blog still has a role in my online life, even if it is for the fewer. But the topics are stream of conscious now. There is no editorial mission outside of what I think, and no real business goal outside of supporting personal projects.

Why?

Because you cannot succeed as a marketing blogger without these two necessary components: High quality posts that are clearly focused and a frequency of at least once if not twice a day. Without consistency, precision and excellence, the marketing blogger game is a loser. There are too many branded blogs and too many consultancies publishing for it to be as effective as it used to be. I do not have the wherewithal to commit the necessary resources to blog as a primary outreach mechanism today.

So, while it was a big deal back in the day, without the ability to commit the necessary resources, blogging is not a primary mechanism.

In the future, if Tenacity5 grows beyond 20 or 30 people I will recommit to daily content for the sector. Until then, there are other actions that yield more awareness, personal content (e.g. photos and books) that fares better than blogs, and marketing activities that are more profitable for the time investment.

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What It’s Like to Be Separated

I’ve been silent for a while. Why? Because I’ve been going through something that’s been quite painful, and it’s where my heart and pen is. I have not been able to blog personally. More than a month ago, my wife and I separated. It’s my reality, and one that’s been quite painful as of late.

It would be easy to write a post about the issues, but in the end they are irrelevant. And that’s not the kind of man I am. Regardless of our outcome, I still love her and would not do such a thing.

In that vein, the comments are turned off on this post, the first time I’ve done that in the more than 1000 posts I’ve written. I don’t want to have a conversation about this particular post, nor would it be right.

Instead, I am writing about what it feels like. Because it’s what I do. I write. And maybe this post is part of my personal healing process.

Taboo

What is relevant is the loss, the failure, the grieving, etc. Our society often treats this time as taboo. Even those who have been through it identify, commiserate, yet at the same time speak in hushed tones. As a result, it kind of feels like a scarlet letter of shame.

The scarlet letter does not seem right to me. What comes to mind is Joan Didion’s fabulous book, “The Year of Magical Thinking.” In that book, Dideon writes about the experience of losing her husband to a heart attack and the surreal emotional journey such an event takes you on. What a fantastic, yet heart wrending accounting of what is also traditionally a taboo discussion.

I cannot imagine what Joan Dideon went through, but I can understand why separation and divorce are taboo. Is it right? No, but understandable, yes.

Such an event — especially after you have invested six years into a relationship, more than three of it in the marriage phase — represents the destruction of a dream. That dream is one that we embarked on together, one that many people embark on together. And while one third of these dreams end this way, no one wants to really hear about it.

They have good reason. It’s the most painful thing I’ve ever been through.

Distressing

Some things in life are painful. My personal experiences:

  • Getting fired on a cell phone during vacation
  • A brief spell living on a friend’s coach as a result of losing said job
  • Having a flood hit my house, condemning it and making it unlivable for a week
  • A serious fight w/ personal demons in my mid twenties
  • Moving across the country
  • Totaling a motorcycle and suffering a grade 2 concussion
  • And on and on…
  • Nothing has been as painful as this. There have been times where the pain was so great I literally felt like someone had scalped me, tingling needle-like pain throughout my head. For the first ten days my physical coordination completely left me, and I would walk into things or drop items in my hand.

    Some men cry, others do not. I do, but never like this. Usually I cry maybe three or four times a year. Emotionally, my tears have been much quicker to rise to the fore this year as the situation evolved. During the few weeks after we parted I literally weeped everyday, and still find tears in my eyes most days.

    Sleep and appetite go to the wayside. I’ve lost a great deal of weight this year, but in the past month it’s been insane, I think to the tune of 12 lbs. In total, I’ve lost 51 lbs since last April.

    But that’s not as bad as the mental and emotional vacancy. I literally checked out the first week and could barely work. While my brain seems to have come back, I find I’m in an emotional winter. I cannot invest much into other people right now, not because I don’t want to, but because the well is dry. There is nothing to give, and no $700 billion bailout to fix things.

    It’s barren here.

    Moving Through It

    Depression seems like an obvious word. But the only way out is to continue walking forward. Time heals all wounds, yet one common theme amongst those who have been through this process is that you never get over it. You are just able to move on.

    Inevitably you have to look at your actions, your side of the street so that in seven more years you are not in the same place. That process is in action, and it has been quite relieving in some ways.

    Working out has been a fantastic source of renewal, and pain relief. Losing weight for this reason seems fair. Between that and work itself there has not been much time to think during the week.

    Then there are personal endeavors to keep the soul alive. Saturdays are booked, first with painting class. This Saturday I start community service in the afternoons.

    It seems these activities and, most importantly, time are working. I feel somewhat better week after week. But only now am I eating three meals a day again, mostly out of necessity. And yes, a couple of 8 hour nights have reappeared.

    It’s apparent that this is a long-term process. Whenever it ends and I wake up finding my soul somewhere else in a better place, I will be grateful. For no matter what, this experience has given me great insights. And I know those insights can benefit someone else. I don’t see it as taboo. I see it as simply the road I have walked, the one many have walked or will walk.

    Perhaps my most important message to the person who may be going through this is that though winter may be upon your heart, hope exists. It can and in my case has gotten better, albeit slowly. So trudge this painful road and know that somewhere along the way you — and your spouse — can find peace. Though your paths have diverged, more than ever be kind now, for she/he is going through the very same thing you are… or worse.