Social Media Q & A with Liz Strauss
Bluewire Media had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Liz Strauss – CEO of SOBCon, brand strategist, community builder and author of the widely acclaimed “Successful Blog“, while she was in San Francisco for the Social Media Strategy Summit.
In the interview, Liz covers how she helps businesses become “irresistible” to their clients and customers.
I’m Liz Strauss. I’m a brand strategist and community builder, and I live inside your computer.
What’s your definition of ‘irresistible’ in business?
Irresistible has to do with two or three things.
One is you have to take away all the things the customers don’t like. You have to enhance and then build up the things the customers love, and then you put in something of extraordinary value that you can do that customers would die for.
What are the ingredients of a successful blog?
Well, one of the main ingredients of a successful blog is a voice and great content that only you can provide, because information is all over the Internet, but there’s only one you. I often talk about movie critics. If every movie critic just gave information, they would all be talking about the same thing. But it’s their experience of the movie that they bring, that’s what actually makes them worth reading and talking about. My husband follows this one movie critic who he thinks is outstanding, and believes what he writes, because he knows if that movie critic gives a movie four stars, that movie sucks. It’s like that for you. You’re the reason I read your blog.
A lot of people say, “Where do I find the time?”
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. I was talking to someone on Twitter the other day, and I was telling him that you only have to have one idea, and sharing that with a person is really the start of a conversation. A friend of mine got up not too long ago and looked at me and said, “I realise that successful people only do two things – talk and move.” And there’s a blog post in that. If you blog your experience with what you discover and who you know, it doesn’t have to be like 150 million words. It can be just brief: something you know that I didn’t know.
What are some of the ways business people can come up with ideas for their blogs?
I think the most compelling and profound blogs are blogs where . . . I have a saying that, the minute you put yourself in the centre of the universe, the universe goes out of balance. So, if you take a point of view that’s on the edge and you look at your customers and make it more about who your customers are, celebrate them, write stories about your customers, remember your customers. One of the fastest ways to make a blog post is to send a customer three questions about them, and ask them to answer them. You’ve got a blog post right there. So interviewing customers, writing articles about businesses that you admire, that are doing great things, there are lots of ways to write blog posts that don’t take a long time.
What do you see as the main difference between traditional marketing and marketing in Web 2.0?
People. It used to be that I would hold up this glass of orange juice and tell you how wonderful this glass of orange juice is. Now I hold up this glass of orange juice and explain to you why this glass of orange juice is going to connect you to someone else. It’s not about the product anymore. It’s about how the product will help you connect to other people.
What are some of the ways that you market your own business?
Well, it’s like being fully self-expressed. When you’re really into your business and you really know what you’re about, it’s like talking about what you’re doing. I just talk about what I do all the time. What I think is critically important – one of the things I do a lot – is make sure that I’m talking about it online and offline. We do events offline, we do events online, and I talk about it on Twitter. We talk about in on my blog. I talk to you about it. I’m doing this. I live it.
Any tips on how to build your network before you need it?
It’s really interesting that some people, when they read someone, they get that person, so they get what that person can offer them right now. But my experience is that most people I read end up being more valuable to me three years from now. They represent an opportunity. A friend of mine, a young man who graduated from college, was going for a job interview awhile back. I said, “Don’t look at this guy as the job. Look at this guy as a whole network of opportunities because you might not fit that job.” And, sure enough, that night he text me and he said, “You were so right. The guy said that I didn’t fit the job, but someone in the next department had a job where I was perfect for it and I got that job. He walked me right over there.” So look at people as opportunities to connect to their whole network.
What are your tips on promoting blogs?
Promote other people. Find people who are like you. First of all, your best readers, your best customers are always going to be people who look and think like you do, because we always think that other people who think like we do are really, really smart. And people who don’t, we think, well, they’re are not so smart or are being difficult, whatever. So look for people who are interested in what you’re interested in, and be interested in them and promote them, because you promote twelve other people, and those are twelve people who are going to say you are a really nice guy. The best self-promotion is to promote other people.
What tips can you share for encouraging comments and generating dialogue?
You have to understand that if you want to have a conversational blog, you’re actually writing an entirely different kind of genre. There’s a difference between presentation and conversation. Presentation is like what we’re doing right now. Presentation is – I stand up and say a whole bunch of words and you listen. Conversation is – I put out one idea, and then it’s your turn to talk.
So you blog your experience, and then if you’re going to put up a list, like don’t rack your brain to put every possible thing. I call it, ‘be complete, but don’t be thorough‘…
Be complete, but don’t be thorough
… If you are trying to make a list, put in as many things as come to mind and then stop. Don’t like try and fill it all the way up. Leave room for other people to come in and add to your list. I came up with these seven. How many more can you add?
If you put a question at the end, I spend probably 30% of my time on the title and 30% of my time on the question at the end. I make it a question that people actually want to answer. It’s not like, “What do you think?” They answer like, whatever they want. But ask a question that you can answer and that you would want to answer if you were out there. A lot of people don’t do that.
Then incorporate your experience. Don’t just like tie it all up in a bow either. If you write something that’s like a perfectly completed painting… Have you ever been to a hotel that has a jigsaw puzzle laying out in the reception area – the lobby area – that’s not done? It sort of invites you to put a piece in it. But if the puzzle was done, you couldn’t add anything. The best you can do is go, “Oh, what a pretty puzzle.” “Great blog post”. So leave room for people to come in and add something and then ask them to.
Then one of the other things that people often don’t do is, when somebody does leave a comment, they don’t answer. Or if they do answer, they say, “Yeah, I agree with you”. But you could actually encourage conversation by saying, “Yeah, that’s a really good point, so what do you think?” Ask another question, right then and there. to keep it going.
What are the most common fears about getting into social media?
One is the one about time, which is . . . I’m not sure it’s really valid. There are lots of ways. Content is another one. Once you get into the habit of looking around, everything is something to write about. I usually help them build out a calendar. On Monday, let’s be motivational, On Tuesday, let’s do an interview. On Wednesday, let’s pre-select some other things from the web.
How often do I blog? As often as you want. But let’s be regular about it so people know when to expect your stuff.
A fear of the negative comments, which if you invite people, when you first start blogging, to be a part of your blog, like guest bloggers, not famous guest bloggers, just people at your level, they own it. They often feel like they own it. Then they help protect it. So when somebody comes along and tries to tear something down, they protect it for you. So I call that, ‘Raise a barn. Don’t build a Colosseum ‘
Raise a barn. Don’t build a Colosseum.
A lot of people try and build up Facebook and then invite people. Just invite people from the very beginning to be a part of the blog, and it’ll be a more friendly place.
Who are some of the bloggers that you follow and think are irresistible?
That’s my most least favourite question. I just read so, so many. I used to love Kathy Sierra’s blog when she still wrote it. I, of course, read my friend Chris Brogan’s blog. I read Seth’s blog. I still read Nina’s blog every now and then. I like reading blogs about blogging, and what’s kind of out there. I like touching on Jason Falls’ blog and Dave’s, Shelley Kramer’s blog and my partner’s Terry Starbucker’s blog. I’m all over the place as you can see when you read my cafe post every Friday.
I like blogging.