This will be my last blog post. Don’t get all crazy, my last post for the year. Just playing with you… besides, writing this blog has truly brought enjoyment and happiness to me this year; even if no one read it, I think I would continue writing, as it has become a great mechanism to make me stop and think. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want folks to stop reading. In fact, one of my 2011 goals is to reach more people with the blog, hoping it can help or inspire. I love all of the notes I receive from folks saying how they connected with certain posts and were inspired or motivated to act. That is why I teach at BC, and why I share my experiences. I also loved the way the blog absolutely brought together all of my social media activities.
I am not big into “Here’s what happened in the past year,” recapping all the year’s events. I am more about focusing on what I am going to do next, but I am compelled to write this retrospective blog post, because I see it as an unbelievable success story in social media. I feel I have to share it, not only to validate to people who already know the power of social media, but also for those hesitant to truly engage. So here’s my social media story, which all began, digitally, this year.
I came into the world of social media kicking and screaming. I was resistant because I viewed it as an incredible time suck, which, by the way, it is. But I am truly glad Kelly Downing convinced me to participate, because, even though my thoughts were correct, everything worthwhile needs time invested into it. It’s just how you use that time to ensure it is worthwhile. However, if you know me even a little, you know that when I do something, I always put 200% of myself into it, which I believe is a major factor of why social media has been such a positive experience. That being said, social media, in and of itself, has made a visible difference in my life, and in a positive way. Here’s how things transpired since I entered the world of social media.
I actively began participating in Twitter on January 1, 2010. I thought I would tweet once a week and follow the strategy that Kelly and I agreed upon to help generate new business leads for TrinityOne, my marketing company. Quite frankly, I was doubtful that anything would come of it. I’m happy to tell you I was wrong. I have to stop and thank Kelly for her persistence. Thank you Kelly, nice job. I have a tendency to be wordy, but let me reel this in and get to the point. Maybe the best way to do that is to lay out a 2010 timeline. So here goes:
January: Began tweeting.
February: Started tweeting more and began increasing my presence on LinkedIn (I passively signed up for LinkedIn in 2006).
March: Started following the #blogchat hashtag. Began thinking that I should write a blog of my experiences.
April: Started actively inviting folks to connect on LinkedIn. Began seriously engaging in #blogchat and taking heed to blogging advice from Mack Collier (blogging expert and founder of #blogchat) and other experienced bloggers. Decided I was going to write a blog. Continued to increase engagement in Twitter and LinkedIn. Began following @ChrisBrogan, and he reminded me that we were in pre-cana classes together, back in the 90′s. Whoa, the Don of Boston Social Media and I were hanging out together in a Church in Chelsea when Mark Zuckerberg was 8.
May: Launched my Relationship Architecture blog and began actively promoting it. Started seriously considering writing a book (a thought I have had for years but more in passing). Noticed a significant jump in connections after just a couple of posts. Conversations through social media increased dramatically, very dramatically.
June: Received unbelievable response from my blog’s subscribers; hundreds of people were reading the posts each week. Business relationships reconnected with me based on posts and updates. Saw a significant increase in meetings and business activity. Sports Business Journal editor, Abraham Madkour, who followed me on Twitter, asked me to write a column for them after reading my blog, (just two weeks after the blog had launched). Had an exchange with Elizabeth King (@elizabethonline) on Twitter about self-publishing, and began discussions on working together on a project We agreed to do so.
July: Elizabeth, Kelly and I met in New York and agreed to write a book together. On the recommendation of high school classmate and pal, Dennis Lehane, I began searching for a literary agent. Business exchanges and meetings increased. Multiple leads for new clients and opportunities were coming in at an amazing rate during a usually slow period. I was told by Elizabeth and Kelly that I had to get on Facebook. I do so and connect with more friends in three days than the number of Twitter followers I had accumulated since January. The SBJ article ran at the end of the month. We moved our website over to HubSpot to help focus on and increase traffic to our site, and to get more precise with SEO.
August: Blog readership continued growing, now at hundreds per day vs. hundreds per week. My time on social media increased to about three hours per day. On average, I was tweeting 20 times a day (but much of it conversational). My requests for speaking engagements noticeably increased. I finalized my contract with Jeff Herman, my new literary agent. We began to map out the elements for a publisher’s proposal.
September: We signed a client, purely due to a meeting that came from LinkedIn, and because a high level person read my blog. (Sorry, I can’t say who this is right now.) Also agreed to my first paid speaking engagement that came directly from a new social media contact, and not from a previous relationship. In addition, one of our clients asked us to look at their social media strategy and to make recommendations. I told them that we don’t do social media strategy, and they responded, “We want you to do for us, what you are doing for yourself.” We have since written three social media strategies for three different organizations. I passed the 1000 connections mark on LinkedIn.
October: I included Sports and Social Media in my marketing class at Boston College. We started discussions and decided to create a website, which will debut next year, where I will share my written and video content. Have become an active participant in multiple Twitter chats, most frequently with #custserv and #blogchat. Increased engagement on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Wrote another column for SBJ. Wrote my first Ebook: The Guidelines to Social Media in Sports (available free at Trinity1.com). Wrote the sample chapter for the book with Elizabeth. Began videoing content for the new site. Amazed at the number of mentions, retweets and comments I was included in. By this time, have had dozens of meetings initiated due to social media, many with folks I have known for years.
November: Blog views per week have now reached the thousands. Writing now comes much easier for me, practice, like anything in life, has really helped my efforts. I fine-tuned my Relationship Architecture speech, and it absolutely rocks the crowds at speaking gigs. We finalized the book proposal for Jeff to pitch. I passed the 1000 followers mark on Twitter. We have ten new business pitches in the funnel – with half of them due to social media engagement. Amazed to find that when I Tweet a photo, it receives 100 views in a brief period of time. Had lunch with someone traveling to Boston with whom I had never met or had a conversation, other than on Twitter, a guy I knew only as @swoodruff, (Hi Steve.)
December: In just two weeks after the proposal was finalized, we had interest from a big name publisher for the book. My agent says more will follow. Proofs of the new site and logos are in hand. I have written 62 blog posts; my goal when it started in May was once a week. I am over 4700 Tweets. Participated in a #leadershipchat where, in just one hour, I was included in over 100 mentions – mind-boggling to me. Social Media Marketing Magazine put me on their list of top marketing professors to engage with on Twitter. Worked on starting a weekly Sports Business Chat (#sbchat), with @cannonjw and the help of other various sports business veterans, to begin Wednesday, January 5, 2011 (hope to engage with you there).
So, in just one short year, including social media in my life has initiated: meetings, paying clients, new business opportunities, speaking engagements (paid and non), two blogs, a book, columns, interviews, guest blogs, webinars, new business potential, an Ebook, laughter, serious thought, news, information and over 3000 connections with old and new friends. Wow!
I know I am leaving stuff out, but I think you can see the power of social media and what it has done for me in just a short period of time. And this is just a small part of what I do. This isn’t a career or a full-time job, and I don’t treat it that way. It’s just another method, if utilized properly, to support your business and enrich your life. If little old me can get this much from social media, imagine what big organizations and C-level executives could accomplish from truly engaging in social media. Or even better, imagine what you can get out of it, and what you can do to contribute to others and enhance your own life. I’m looking forward to meeting new folks and to what social media engagement has to offer in 2011. Hope you are too.
I look forward to connecting with you in the New Year: