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3 TED Talks to Inspire Better Communications

It’s the most talkative time of the year.

We often think of the holidays as a time to give thanks. ‘Tis the season to feel grateful and let others know how much they matter to you.

As such, it’s also the season of communication. We are sending cards and chatting around the dinner table. This time of year is all about words and actions.

Whether crafting the perfect thank-you note, making a heartfelt toast, or building meaningful connections online and in person, strong communication matters.

Check out these three TED Talks for inspiration.

Remember to say thank you

The right words can light up a room, lead to a special moment, and create deeper connections and greater understanding between people.

As a therapist and coach, that’s what Dr. Laura Trice believes. In this timely three-minute talk she shares “the importance of praise, admiration and thank you, and having it be specific and genuine.”

Try it! Think of someone who has done something special for you. It could be big or small, but the gesture will be great either way.

How can you change someone’s mind?

Trust, values, knowledge and beliefs. Hugo Mercier is a cognitive scientist whose curiosity and studies have led him to consider why arguments sometimes work, and sometimes fail.

A dinner party brainteaser launches his cerebral TED Talk.

The future of storytelling

Think big and think beyond simple communication by wondering how storytelling works and what may come tomorrow.

“Obviously, I think good stories are never going to change,” says American TV producer Shona Rhimes in this TED Talk conversation. “The need for people to gather together and exchange their stories and to talk about the things that feel universal, the idea that we all feel a compelling need to watch stories, to tell stories, to share stories.”

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Gain Insights with Website Traffic

Knock, knock! Who’s there?

If you don’t know how to track traffic to your website, you may not know who is standing on your doorstep and how they got there.

Brand awareness represents how familiar your target audience is with your brand and how well they recognize it.

Source: Hubspot

Is your company name on everyone’s lips? Are clients and customers recommending you to friends and family? Do community members recognize your logo and know what you do?

When monitoring brand awareness, you should consider traffic to your website.

Website traffic offers a glimpse into the behaviors of clients and potential clients. It can help you know who’s outside looking in, and encourage more people to stop by and take action.

For a moment, imagine your website is your brick-and-mortar business. There could be someone passing by on their way to another shop. Another person could be on their way inside to find out more about what you do. Maybe someone else is simply window shopping and in the mood to browse.

Our website is the digital storefront of our business, and social media, digital newsletters, and word of mouth help encourage folks to take a look.

If our goal is to drive traffic to our website, one way we can measure that is thanks to Google Analytics.

Using this resource, we can measure what percent or our overall traffic is coming from social media. Additionally, measuring this can help analyze successful conversion and understand where to invest in social media marketing and advertising.

Here are four potential metrics to measure:

  • Traffic from social media: How many visitors are coming from your social media channels?
  • Share of overall traffic: How much of your overall traffic does social media account for?
  • Bounce rate of social media traffic: What is the quality of the traffic from social media?
  • Clicks on your social media posts: How well is the messaging of your social media post working?
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Two Terms to Know

The success of an organization is linked to its strategy.

How do you determine strategy? How do you know if your strategy is effective?

Here are two terms you need to know if you hope to set and track your social media and marketing goals.

SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Before you begin to tweet or post, you need to think about how, why, and when. Performing a SWOT analysis can help you do so. Ask yourself where you need to improve, where you might struggle, where you might have an opening to succeed, and what might hinder your growth. After you answer those questions, you’ll have a picture of where you’d like to end up.

How do you know where to start? It all begins with a SWOT analysis.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

Your key performance indicators may include your number of fans and followers, how many tweets and posts you produce regularly, response time, and video views. Those are some good places to start, but also feel free to adjust depending on your business and marketing needs.

How do you know if you’ve reached your goals? If you know your KPIs.

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Take It To The Next Level

You are building relationships through your marketing.

Your fans, followers, consumer, and clients aren’t nameless and faceless. Each one is a person with a special interest in you and your business. And you have a special relationship with them.

When we launch our business strategies, we often look into different groups. Who loves us? Likes us? Doesn’t know about us? Then, we build our goals and tasks around better connecting with each of those groups of people.

However, what we may forget in the speedy world of marketing is that we’re embarking on long-term relationships. When we reach a goal, it is likely because a relationship has changed.

Think about your network. Do you want to:

  • Start a new relationship?
  • Nurture an existing relationship?
  • Improve a troubled or distant relationship?

An important part of building your social media strategy is planning how relationships will change. After you hit a goal, you should check in with your timeline and adjust metrics.

What comes next? Here are a few prompts to help you navigate each relationship.

What do you want to change? For example, do you want to turn a casual fan into a follower or attract a new demographic?

Why do you want the relationship to change? Think about this: Are you looking to build a social media platform, see more foot traffic, or increase members of your rewards program?

How can you encourage the relationship to change? Consider the platforms you might use. Is this someone who could become a reader of your e-newsletter or might enjoy attending a special event?

When will you know the relationship has changed? Goal setting continues as the interactions grow. How will you know you’ve improved your interactions?

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Hello! Let’s Meet Up

How can we make new friends and meet potential clients?

Longtime followers and returning customers are great. That’s because they are your most loyal supporters and promoters. These are the folks who already know who you are. They also understand what you do, and will go to bat for your anytime.

But part of being in business is growing. When we sit still for too long, we risk losing sight of how to best serve others. That’s why it’s important to stay moving — look for opportunities to learn new skills, consider different perspectives, and gain new followers.

Who else do we need to reach and why?

Even if you’ve identified your target audience and found success in establishing a strong base of interested folks, your work isn’t done. Generating new leads is an important way to continue to find potential customers and better understand your role in the marketplace.

As with most elements of marketing and social media, vision and data are very much a part of generating new leads.

If your goal is to generate new leads, how can you track that?

  • See how your email marketing contact list is growing.
  • Create gated content and invite folks to download (for free).
  • Announce a contest or event on social media and watch participation.
  • Monitor clicks on targeted social media campaigns.

Ultimately, you’ll want to watch the conversion numbers. In other words, once you have these leads, how many become part of that group of steady friends and regular clients?

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Don’t Let Be Scared!

What scares you?

Is it not getting any “likes” on a post? Setting up an event page and seeing zero RSVPs? Pressing send on an email?

OOOooo—that IS scary!

As social media managers and marketers, we’re constantly putting ourselves out there.

The internet is like a haunted house. Behind every link and app, there are unexpected tricks and treats. As a result, we may be delighted or we may be disappointed.

But isn’t that outlook a bit bleak? Sure, there’s always a bit of stage fright associated with performing for a crowd—online and in real life.

When we plan ahead and strategize, taking risks becomes a lot less scary.

If you’re worried about being haunted by a mistake, the best solution is to take action. You can connect with fellow marketers and communicators whose work you admire. Ask their advice. Remember, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter aren’t just for your business. They can also help you build personal connections.

We’ve all been nervous at one point or another. That’s a good thing.

It means we’re stretching ourselves. Having an online presence is a powerful thing. We should take our roles and the opportunity to connect with others seriously.

Keeping up with news and events takes the mystery out of a frequently changing industry. When we follow new marketing developments and learn about different strategies, we arm ourselves with the information that can help us succeed. Consider signing up for an industry newsletter, setting a Google alert, or following a trusted industry news site on Twitter.

Perhaps you like the thrills of working in communications and marketing. A lot of us do! If you encounter an obstacle, don’t run away at the first sign of trouble.

When we plan ahead, work together, and take time to be creative, we can tackle any fear.

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4 Quotes to Inspire Your Strategy

Good leaders keep us on track.

Leadership and strategy are closely linked. Without a captain and destination, we would be aimlessly paddling about.

But a good leader knows setting a strategy isn’t about merely creating a to-do list. First, a good leader needs to gather information. It’s important to talk with clients and colleagues. Then, it’s time to make informed decisions on where to go.

Need inspiration? Here are four quotes to help inspire you as a leader.

Get ready to set your business and marketing strategy!

1. Remember you are part of a community

As leaders, it is incumbent on all of us to make sure we are building a world in which every individual has an opportunity to thrive.

Andrew Ng in Harvard Business Review

2. Think about what sets you apart from the crowd

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.

Michael Porter in Fast Company

3. Remember that success doesn’t happen overnight

Social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small-town shop owners. This means taking the long view and avoiding short-term benchmarks to gauge progress.

Gary Vaynerchuk in Entrepreneur

4. Take ownership of your vision (and see it through!)

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.

Jack Welch in CNBC
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Break Down Social Media Goals

Quote overtop of background featuring dramatic photo of lightbulb: "Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it's about deliberately choosing to be different."
Michael Porter

When we break down a task, we make our success more attainable.

Embarking on a social media journey can feel overwhelming. From building a following to monitoring trends, you may think you don’t have time. But the virtual side of your business can be just as important as daily operations.

That’s why building a strategy is so important.

Who is your audience? Knowing who you need and want to reach will help inform all your social media decisions. Starting with research, and channeling that research into making personas, will allow you to decide where to focus your efforts.

If you know your audience, you know if they are on Facebook or Yelp, Pinterest or Twitter. Make choices that will help your brand stand out. It’s okay to invest your time and money into the social platform that will be most beneficial to you.

How often do you want to reach them? Setting guidelines around how often to post on which channel will help you manage your time. Additionally, creating goals of how many followers you’d like to have by a certain point will ensure you know if you are on track.

Remember, it’s also important to create a timeline for yourself. Check in and see how your goals are measuring up. Metrics might change or you might realize you were overambitious. If you need to adjust your goals to be more realistic, that’s a normal part of the social media strategy process. Keep checking in.

Is your community engaged and empowered? When you join social media, you are joining a community. Online, we are truly all in it together. Not only can you break down your tasks to help reach goals, but you can call on others to help.

It’s an engaged community that makes for a strong social presence. Empower your employees with social media guidelines so they know how to participate. Encourage your followers to submit user-generated content. Engage with fans by replying to posts.

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3 TED Talks To Calm Tech Fears

Don’t be afraid of technology.

For some people, that might be easier said than done. In our fast-paced, tech-driven world, it can be hard to keep up with change. As a result, we might fear it.

How do we continue to explore, keep a healthy level of skepticism, and remain excited for what’s next?

Here are three TED Talks that inspire us to not be afraid of the future. Once you listen to their advice, you might feel excited about the future or want to start an experiment yourself.

Don’t fear superintelligent AI with Grady Booch

As a kid, IBM’s Grady Booch was thrilled to see technology show up in Hollywood blockbusters and play with the imagination. As an adult, he notes, some of the technologies that were fantasy are becoming a reality.

He’s not afraid of what’s next. Instead, he thinks we’re on the cusp of an exciting adventure.

“We are on an incredible journey of coevolution with our machines,” Booch says in this TED Talk.

How can technology transform the human body with Lucy McRae

Lucy McRae is “fascinated with the idea of what happens when you merge biology with technology.” McRae trained in classical ballet and has a background in architecture and fashion.

In her collaborations and experimentations, she combines those interests and considers how technology and the human body could connect. For instance, how might clothes, tattoos and technology intersect?

To find out, listen to McRae share her curious creations in this TED Talk. Afterward, you might be thinking what you would create.

Why good hackers make good citizens with Catherine Bracy

Are all hackers to be feared? Not necessarily. For some tech-driven folks, being a hacker means being inquisitive and looking for a problem to solve. When you change your perspective, you might be surprised to find out what hackers are up to.

“For every hacker that’s trying to steal your identity there’s one that’s building a tool that will help you find your loved ones after a disaster or to monitor environmental quality after an oil spill,” Catherine Bracy shares in this TED Talk.

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Have Fun with Gamification

Light pink background with many white game dice illustrations overtop

Let’s play a game.

From Foursquare to Uber, gamification has become an accepted part of how people interact with companies. By reorganizing everyday activities into a game, consumers can engage with a brand in a fun and memorable way.

Whether grocery shopping or working out, a bit of competition and the chance for reward encourages people to forge a deeper connection to a task or company. In fact, people might not even think about it. As a result, it becomes a seamless part of your business experience.

The idea behind gamification is to take use various proven elements of games to motivate greater involvement. It can be used to encourage desired behaviors in individuals, whether they be customers, employees, or students. […] It is a motivational tactic that taps into our competitive spirit and drive to succeed by fostering competition and offering convenient milestones.

The Origins and Future of Gamification by Gerald Christians, University of South Carolina

However, you don’t need a large company or app developer. Instead, brainstorm creative ways you can apply gamification to your social media or marketing needs. To get started, think about gamification as it applies to your social media milestones and goals.

Gamification can bring considerable results if:

  • The process of progress tracking is transparent
  • Talented players are recognized
  • People feel valued through real-time feedback

How can gamification help you create a community or gain more followers?

Smaller companies, like a local restaurant or boutique, might want to focus on driving foot traffic. For example, gamification is part of a loyalty rewards system. This can help visitors feel like valued members of your community. Consider adding a reward for folks who help you reach a social media follower goal. Another idea would be sharing a discount codeword with subscribers to your e-newsletter.

Mid-sized companies might want to think about how to get consumers to engage with a product through user-generated content. Think about encouraging followers to enter photo contests, use hashtags, and answer questions for prizes.

(But remember to follow through on promises and have clear rules and regulations. You don’t want to create any legal or ethical issues, especially in relation to privacy or copyright.)

Larger companies could try gamification tools to train employees or cultivate the workplace community. Through a company app or fostered social media engagement, you could turn employees and casual users into brand advocates.

Get out there and start playing!

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