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Blues Masters Share Their Craft.

Thanks to the 2010 African Festival of the Arts in Chicago I have developed a late appreciation for an American original music style, the blues. The Blues Pavilion turned out to be a cast of local legends. It’s possible that you may have seen a comparable combination of stellar talent performing on stage at one show before but probably not in the role of lecturers and historians so you really missed out if you weren’t there.

Yours truly used social media to connect with an international blues star online and to meet her in person at the festival. Deitra Farr has lived in Europe for the last few years – she has performed all over the continent – and fortunately for American music fans she moved back to sweet home Chicago just in time to be one of the featured panelists at the blues pavilion. Before returning she completed a show only a few weeks ago at the Silda Jazz Festival in Haugesund, Norway. Among other things she shared with me how the lack of appreciation for blues in America stands in stark contrast to its massive popularity in Europe. As you see though, they can still do the globe trotting tour thing as well as the other more popular music genres.

She was joined by Herb Walker and Katherine Davis. Chicago Beau (Lincoln T. Beauchamp, Jr.) was the moderator. I learned a lot about the chronology of American music. I figured that most of the rock, soul and funk groups I grew up on likely listened to jazz when they were youngsters but I learned that jazz itself was birthed by the blues and the others came in succession over time.

Katherine Davis is serious about perpetuating the craft for the next generation. She’s involved with Blues In the Schools, which helps keep the blues alive in local school music curriculum. She shared great comments on the ongoing negative perception of the blues in here in the States, much of it due to educational powers that be.

Herb Walker made extensive comments about the need for blues musicians to share notes and write books to record their historic contributions. No one else seems to be doing so, at least not to the degree that awareness in America has been enhanced in a significant way. I agree with him on that note. No one can record your history better than the participants.

As it turns out Chicago Beau is on the job. He had a few copies of Blues Speak an anthology of his past writings of things blues and jazz related. Deitra Farr has a section in it and she autographed it for the young guy who had a personal copy.

I’ll share some of my unedited clips of comments from the panel here. Very insightful and if you’re like me you’ll learn a lot. In order, left to right are Deitra Farr, Herb Walker, Katherine Davis, and Chicago Beau.

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You’re On Facebook So Now What?

I just read a great book called I’m On Facebook, Now What??? with a lot of good information you can apply immediately. It covers all points from profile optimization to leveraging the Facebook platform for business. Here are a few points that stood out to me.

The book explains that the demographic for Facebook is mostly GenY. This is where the under 35 crowd hangs out.

It also talks about organizing friends into Friends Lists on your own profile as well as joining groups of interest to you. If you have a subgroup of friends that you want to consistently send particular types of info to then you can choose the list name without needing to select a bunch of individuals each time.

One of the nice features are advertising apps written by creative programmers. You can also use Facebook’s add creation button. Business apps are populating Facebook’s space daily. It’s worth your while to spend time investigating some of them to aid business generation.

I learned a completely new term, Social Network Optimization. Including specific search terms (a Search Engine Optimization technique) in the application you create can push it higher on search engine results pages when Facebook users are looking for something new to add to their profiles.

Great chapter on privacy including pros and cons of various settings. I’ll leave it to you to read but suffice it to say you  can restrict your friends access to specific pieces of information on your profile, your feeds etc. Everyone doesn’t have to know everything. You can also restrict their ability to comment. These features are particularly helpful if you have colorful friends you want to keep up with but don’t necessarily want to have all your other FB friends scratching their heads about who you hang out with online (smile).

Great book. Check it out from your library or buy it soon.

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Use Social Media for Your School Group Fundraisers

A friend who made mention on Facebook of her fundraiser for the cheer leading team got me to thinking about how social media – specifically Facebook, which she is familiar with – could be used to make fund raising more effective for the team. If you were a coach or close supporter of a cheerleading or similar school club here’s how I’d recommend you approach it.

Create a Facebook Page for your team with the “Brand, product, or organization:” set up. Pick the “Non-Profit” option from the drop down list. Non profits raise funds all the time so this should easily accelerate your team’s fund raising efforts. Invite your student’s parents, fans and community supporters to “Like” the page. Even though it’s generally assumed that kids participating in school system sponsored activities will be videoed and photographed you may still want to check with your school system and parents to obtain permission to use the kids’ images for photos and videos on the FB Page. You know your school system so I leave that part to your sense of judgment.

You will also need to determine how your local school system wants you to disposition any funds you collect. Will you need to turn the money in to a book keeper, accountant or CFO in your school or at the school board? If this is the case then you will need to work closely with that financial person to make sure  online transactions are routed properly through your site and properly accounted for by your board of education. That’s the last step though so more on that later.

There are three components of your FB Page plan that will make your efforts effective. These are the pieces of your virtual club marketing/public relations system that you will need to explain clearly to the financial person.

First and simplest is to activate the “Events” tab on the Page. This is where you can add the games where the team will be cheering, the camps and competitions they’ll be attending and any public appearances they make. This tab and the “Wall” are fundamental to the basic public relations for the group.

Next you’ll want to create an Eventbrite account. Eventbrite is an online ticketing website that allows you to sell tickets to your events. When you create the event and people buy from your link they can print tickets and their money is deposited into your account. It’s simple online purchasing with a credit or debit card like people do every day only now it benefits your cheering squad.

Finally, should you decide to get fancy, consider adding a PayPal donation button to the site. It should go perfectly on a custom designed landing page for your Fan Page. People love helping kids and a well designed graphic with the school name and school system with mascots, logos, maybe a good action photo or two, would surely encourage people to give in general during the times when you’re not selling anything in particular.

As far as accounting for online fund raising this is where the financial people do their part. The accountant/book keeper etc.  will enter the school or school system’s bank account info into the PayPal and Eventbrite accounts so that purchases and donations are routed properly. That’s as easy as sitting down next to them in their office logging into the team’s Eventbrite and PayPal sites and turning your head while they enter the confidential bank account and routing information. At that point your Facebook Page is fully functional as a fund raising tool and it’s a matter of drawing people to click the “Like” button to use it.

Most people love online ticket buying so it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince your target audience to use the Page to buy a car wash or competition or bake sale or whatever type of ticket once you make them aware of it as a purchasing option. The only difficulty I can anticipate is convincing your local educational powers-that-be to jump into the social media sphere, especially if they are skeptical of the online world. Know the important contact people, schmooze and prepare well in order to broach this subject to any hesitant parties in order to launch your plan successfully.

If you need an example take a look at this cheerleading team’s Page and see how it could be improved with the income generating tweaks mentioned here. If you have a cheerleading team or any other school organization whose supporters you are trying to groom into financial supporters then consider using these basic social media tools that more people are using every day.

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Use Social Media to Sell Boy Scout Popcorn

Scouts and Scouters now is the time to ramp up your online sales planning for the 2010 popcorn sales campaign. This is the third year that the Boy Scouts of America has allowed the use of e-mail to increase sales. The BSA created unique sales ID codes for each scout to e-mail to their relatives to buy popcorn which would be credited to that Scout. This year have your parents extend that system to their social media networks which are likely much larger than their e-mail address books.

It’s the obvious next step in using online tools to help your unit excel by using the social media sphere. A number of units and councils are using all manner of social media. This Pack from Virginia has outlined their campaign goals and achievements on their web site along with other useful information about their unit. The Bay Area Council has links to the national BSA listing of social media links such as the national council’s Facebook Page and Twitter page. These folks have set the precedent so it’s time for your Pack and Troop to get on the ball with leveraging social media for your benefit.

Start with a Facebook page. You need to have a personal account first. Then create a Twitter page for your unit. Pretty sure you need to have a personal account to do this as well. Assuming you already have personal profiles for both of these platforms though, invite all of your personal FB friends and Twitter peeps to “Like” your unit Page and “Follow” your unit Twitter account. Then send invites to your Scouts’ parents to Like and Follow and have them forward both sites to their friends and peeps to help build momentum for the virtual sales effort. The main thing though is to make sure that your parents forward their son’s online ordering code to their social media connections.

For your Page consider creating an Events tab to advertise the neighborhoods, football tailgates and other events and places where your Boys will be selling popcorn. Also think about creating a landing page and adding a PayPal button to it to accept general donations to your unit year round. Naturally you’ll want to keep the wall updated regularly so that your growing list of Facebook fans can brag about your unit and encourage other youngsters to join your unit.

Use social media to have a record breaking sales year for your Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and make this 100th year of Scouting a memorable one for your unit.

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Acoustic T.V.


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Are You Underutilizing Your Fan Page?

O.K. Facebook Page owners and administrators time to liven up that site and make it the tool it was meant to be. Pages are designed for interaction with your fans/Like list.

At a minimum, you want to populate your basic four tabs with information. Use the Wall the same as you would on your personal profile, only, with business or organizational information instead of fun or personal stuff.

Fill out the Info tab so people can quickly see why they should “Like” your site. This should include your website, mission, services, phone number etc. so they can get a feel for who your organization/company is and what you do. It seems obvious that you would do this much but many neglect to fill in these details so be sure you remember.

Definitely use the Photo tab for your visual fans. Nothing makes your page more human and relatable than pictures so be sure to upload images on a regular basis to reinforce your message.

The Discussion tab is the perfect medium to engage your fans and get them involved by engaging with you the administrator but more importantly with each other so that they begin to develop a community. Ultimately this will motivate them to start advocating the cause to their personal audience by advertising the page to their friends, thus growing your “Like” list.

You can also add your own customizable tabs to enliven your Page site. Clicking on the + tab allows you to select more tab options. Want to add videos? Pick that option. Want to add events? Pick that one too.

These foundational tabs help fans and potential fans take your Facebook Page more seriously. So add a few today, begin using them and see what a difference it makes.

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Blogging While Brown 2010 The Business of Blogging

The subtitle of the Business of Blogging panel was “Beyond Add Networks” and these guys got my juices flowing with their creative ideas on generating online income via methods other than adds and pay-per-click adds.

Donna Maria Coles Johnson of the Indie Business Blog, Nichelle Stephens of Cupcakes Take the Cake and Navarrow Wright of Global Grind shared their expertise with us and I got bunch of useful take aways.

Donna Maria gave us a couple of good tools to consider. Ever wonder where those online surveys come from? Good chance that one of them is SurveyMonkey . Not only does it create surveys though, but the site also generates charts for your survey data so you can get a statistical feel for what your responders think.

If you’re considering podcasting Donna Maria uses CinchCast as her platform. It also has a number of other useful features to help you optimize your account so check it out and install a podcast on your site.

Another of  her suggestions for an extra income stream is one many of us have heard over the years. Blogging for hire. Follow and contact companies on their blog sites and offer your blogging services for their team. Donna Maria’s efforts show that initiative online can pay off just as in the physical world.

Nichelle contributed some great ideas as well. In fact she was representing two enterprises. Her own Cupcakes Take the Cake is about everything cupcakes. If you enjoy home baking or are a lover of deserts you’ll enjoy this site. She also had a table for Pepsi We Inspire which she edits. It’s a site for women to uplift and entertain each other with encouraging expressions. You ladies should definitely look into Pepsi We Inspire.

Two online resources that Nichelle recommended were new to me. Quantcast helps you to identify your audience to improve your marketing efforts. Having trouble nailing down your target demographic? Quantcast is worth looking into.

Another site helps you to compare your site to others. Compete uses a variety of analytics metrics on other web sites to see how your competition is performing. It’s a great competitive intelligence tool.

Nichelle is quite the enterprising lady and I really appreciate the tools she informed us about.

Although Navorrow is best known for the Global Grind blogsite he suggested excercising more technical expertise for profitable blogging. Specifically, create something useful for others. He told us to create technical products that are needed like apps and widgets. Considering all the Facebook games and feed apps that regularly come on the scene this shouldn’t be too difficult an idea for the programmers among us to take to heart.

Navorrow is well respected in online world and if any one knows about tools that work it’s him. His personal consultancy Maximum Leverage Solutions is proof enough of that. He knows the value of providing good tools so all you coders, get those great ideas online and in circulation right away.

I really enjoyed this panel because of the practicality of information given by the presenters. There was something for everyone and no doubt if you’re serious about your blogging and social media pursuits there’s something here for you too. If it’s been in the back of your mind today is a good day to create “top of mind awareness” for yourself and get more serious about the business of blogging.

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Blogging While Brown 2010 Where I Learned How to Make My Blog Suck Less

The funnest and funniest presentation by far this year was given by blogger extraordinaire Scott Hanselman. I don’t know if Scott is a Toastmaster but he definitely knows how to use humor effectively.

These are a few key points from his presentation “32 Ways to Make Your Blog Suck Less” that stood out to me:

  • People read blogs around 9:00 AM Eastern time on Mondays. Nobody reads them on Saturdays.
  • Nothing will lower your readership more quickly than writing about politics if that’s not your main topic. That also goes for anything else significantly off topic from what you usually write.
  • Integrate search into your blog site (Google or Bing for example).
  • Don’t just reply to an e-mail for help back to that one person. Write a post on the subject and e-mail the link to them instead.

Fortunately Scott distributed the presentation and you can take a look for yourself to pick up a few tips to apply to your site.

Another great part was getting to know Scott on a personal level. Myself and a handful of other bloggers hung out with him the night before his presentation and he had us cracking up the entire time. He is one of those folks who is the same guy on stage and off. Nothing inaccessible about him.

If you ever get to hear Scott in person you should definitely do so. In the mean time get to work on making your blog suck less.

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Inbound Marketing University Class 3

Social Media and Building Community

Class # 3 was about my favorite subject, social media. The presentation was given by Chris Brogan of New Marketing Labs. The homework assignment was to write up a step-by-step plan for how I could develop a community around my company on a social networking site of my choice. That assignment is in the works and the choice is a Facebook fan page.

Chris gave ten key points in developing a community. Among them are to listen to and acknowledge community members. Respond to comments and give content that is useful to them. Also it’s not about the platform (FB, twitter etc.) but the people. When the next big thing comes along  your community will follow you to that platform as well. Serve them well in the mean time to insure that. Also celebrate your community members. Celebrate your community’s personal and professional successes.

The other tips were great too. Play the video and take in good information provided by Chris and be more effective in growing your online community.

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America Is In Need of A Chivalry Infusion

I’m sure I’ve written on this subject before but a real world and Facebook friend’s comment on her wall today has me thinking about the state of American manliness once again. I fear the current condition is directly related to slovenly attitudes about dress styles etc. but I’ve already worn that subject out (saggers with matching underwear that they consider a style) and I’ll keep this discussion elevated to plane of higher principle.

My curiosity on the issue led me to search for what other bloggers have written on the matter and I found a couple of pretty good ones. Darryl James has some really good thoughts in this March 2nd post on the Black Men In America blog covering the original definition of chivalry in Middle Ages Europe to modern day perceptions that are varied within American culture.

And this video from YourTango, Smart Talk About Love, five guys take a few minutes to talk about the impact of boys lack of exposure to chivalrous training and girls lack of exposure to chivalrous behavior as the culprits. They figure those are some of the reasons that, not only is chivalry being practiced less by young men, but is also why many women don’t expect it and sometimes react to it in surprised or suspicious fashion.

These posts are representative of how the concept has evolved over time due to changing societal norms. Some of the bad habits have become so entrenched that they are affecting relationships in an unnecessarily negative way. Men and women are confused on both ends because the practice is exhibited too infrequently as a normal and expected behavior. Well if you haven’t figured it out yet I think a serious change is due. One that will not only improve the state of gender relationships but common decency and neighborliness as well.

So fellas I charge you with a series of tasks for the second half of 2010. Starting today, offer a lady your seat where ever you are when none are available. Bus, train, church, office, doesn’t matter. Depending on the part of the country where you live – specifically anywhere outside the southeast – really shock people and start using mam and sir in your responses to people more senior in age than you. Nothing will set you apart from the average guy more quickly. Open doors for the ladies and girls. Here’s another big one. Watch your mouth around women and girls. Set a better example of manliness by not cursing if front of them in your normal conversation. Teach your sons all of these things by intention and by habit.

Don’t worry about the occasional negative reaction. If a particular lady can’t appreciate the gesture just continue in the positive.

Ladies, I’m not going to leave you out. A few changes for your task list include accepting chivalrous behavior and teaching your daughters to accept it as well. Find ways to expose your sons to men who are good examples, be they friends, neighbors, family or organizational leaders of any number of youth programs. You as women can talk about these principles but only we men can demonstrate and groom the behavior. And watch your tongues in public as well. Many of you don’t sound any different than guys. It only encourages the attraction of that kind of guy. Just sayin’.

I’m convinced that lax cultural mores aren’t beyond repair. Any situation can be turned around but like most significant things, they start on a small scale with individuals like us. So let’s start to make that change today, jump start a collective surge and watch the impact it makes in due time.

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