(Almost) Everybody’s Here Now

The path to cultivating and building influence on the social web has gotten a lot harder than what it used to be. That’s saying something – because building influence has never been an easy task. Companies, in developing digital marketing and communications strategies, have included influencer outreach and engagement as a key focal point for a number of years now. However, the continued steady growth of information and content on the web, blogs and otherwise, has made it much more challenging for individuals to build a standout, highly trafficked online presence – correspondingly, companies will face increasing difficulties in defining and engaging with influencers, and must rethink their strategies accordingly.

According to Wikipedia, as of February 2011 there were 156 million public blogs in existence. Comparatively speaking, various estimates peg the number of blogs in 2005 at around 25 to 35 million. More notably, however, is the rise in overall content creation and consumption. Think about the time that is now spent on social networks, and the resulting information that is being generated and shared.  If attention were to be considered as a currency, the exchange rate right now is quite high.

When blogging first started to truly grow in popularity a few years ago, those who put forth the effort to provide quality, reliable and interesting content were able to create a strong online presence – attracting readers, establishing themselves as influencers. A couple of such prominent bloggers who come to mind are Raul Pachec0-Vega, who writes at hummingbird604.com and Rebecca Bollwitt, who writes at www.miss604.com. Make no mistake, both Raul and Rebecca put in a lot of hard work into establishing their online presences – and success did not come overnight for either of them. However, I find it hard to believe that the degree of success they have earned can be achieved by anyone today, in the crowded attention economy.

This has ramifications for companies, as they attempt to identify and work with influencers to build relationships and establish genuine word-of-mouth about their products and services.

Here are some questions companies should consider:

  1. Is the message that they would like to spread, and engage influencers with, sticky and relevant?
  2. Do they have the capabilities to scale their influencer outreach?  To achieve a similar breadth of outreach compared to years ago, it is likely that companies now need to engage with more influencers – remember though, the quality of relationships with influencers can’t be replaced by quantity. Building personal relationships is important.
  3. Are accurate metrics and evaluation processes in place to identify relevant influencers?

Shipping

Are you in the mindset of shipping? Do you focus on delivering quality work and output in a timely manner, but with a realization that it might not be 100% perfect?

Often times, I think that people spend too much time trying to achieve perfection. It’s not that producing quality output isn’t important – it is. However the time spent achieving perfection can often best be utilized for other pursuits.

I’d rather produce 10 projects that are really, really good as opposed to one project that is perfect. Recently, I’ve spent some time working for a couple of startups – I honestly don’t think they’d survive if they didn’t focus on shipping.

Do you strive for perfection? Or do you have a sense for when the time is right to move to the next task?

How Observant Are You?

Too often, people are guilty of getting stuck in their own world. They focus on the minutiae of daily activities – without realizing the vast, amazing changes that are happening around them.

Those who are most observant of their external environment gain knowledge that can prove to be very beneficial. Knowledge that lends to creativity and new ideas – enabling people to get unstuck from the confines of their own world.

How observant are you?

Three Poignant Stories from Steve Jobs

It’s no secret that Steve Jobs, Apple’s Co-founder and CEO, has achieved remarkable success in his career. I came across this video of his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address on TED, and I thought I would post it here. In the video, Steve shares how his path to success was far from linear. If you can spare fifteen minutes, I highly recommend watching the video, it’s quite inspirational.


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Thoughts on Mentorship

Over the years, I have been extremely fortunate to have had a number of kind, knowledgeable mentors in my career. I honestly do not believe I would be where I am today without their guidance and willingness to share insight and information based on their own experiences. They have been true treasure chests.

I received my start in marketing thanks to Frank Dennis, the President and CEO of Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company. Yes, Frank taught me a lot about marketing – specifically, disciplines from Kraft, Swiss Water’s former owner. More notably, through Frank, I learned an how to conduct myself as a marketing professional. With coworkers. With suppliers. With customers. With everyone I came into contact with.

Recently, from a greater geographical distance, I have had the opportunity to learn from Sean Moffitt and my involvement as a volunteer advisor committee member for The League of Kickass Business People. The marketing world has changed signficantly over the last few years, turned upside down I would say. Through Sean, and others in the league, I am learning how companies must adapt and reinvent their marketing strategies in order to breakthrough in the present climate. I am also learning skills and gaining experience that will enable me to benefit future employers with a forward-thinking marketing mindset.

I am always on the lookout for other potential mentors, I don’t believe there is a limit as to the number one can have. At the same time, I would like to develop the experience that will enable me to give back and mentor others.

Mentors can play a key role in career success. Who has helped you get to where you are today?

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Outliers: The Story of Success

OutliersYesterday, I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, “Outliers: The Story of Success”.  Easily, the book ranks as one of the most interesting and insightful I have ever read – I could not put the book down.  If you have read one of Gladwell’s other books, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I recommend that you pick up The Tipping Point, Blink (which I still need to read) or Outliers when you get a chance.

Outliers details how there are a variety of circumstances and factors that contribute to someone’s success, which are beyond a person’s circle of influence or control.  Yes, many successful people have passion, intelligence and ambition, as is so often conveyed in success literature, but often times there much more that is actually going on.

Off and Running!

I have been active in social media for quite awhile now. I use social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter quite regularly. I also co-founded a social group with a friend, Sip, which leveraged several social media platforms, including a blog, Twitter, Ning and Meetup. Sip actually grew to over 1,000 participants, it was a lot of fun running the group.

Yet, for one reason or another, I hadn’t started my own personal blog. I suppose I didn’t blog because I wasn’t yet sure what I wanted my blog to be about . I didn’t want to write for the sake of writing, I would much rather create a blog with content that will be of value to those who read it.

Which leads me to this, “Running with Scissors”.

I’m a marketer, branding is very near and dear to me. Given the significant changes the profession is enduring, with the evolution of social media and the shift in spending to new media and non-traditional platforms,  it is a very exciting time. I would like to use this blog to to share my thoughts and opinions, and hopefully hear yours, as I develop and advance my career in the field.

I am also very interested in topics related to personal development, innovation and leadership. I am an avid reader of publications such as Fast Company and Success, and I regularly read books from authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin and Stephen Covey. From time to time, I will provide some insights on what I’ve learned, as well as book reviews.

Regarding the title of this blog, well … I really enjoy running! I have completed several marathons and half marathons.  I also have a somewhat whimsical nature, and in life I believe it’s important to take risks and experiment. Thus, “Running with Scissors”.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to the journey I am now embarking on.

Eric