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Finally: How to leverage social media, right now

There's so much buzz about social media that you're probably sick of hearing it.

But for all the buzz, I always have people asking me, "How can I use it to my benefit?"

To answer that question, I have to explain exactly what social media is (at least, to me), why it's so powerful, and what that means to you.  So finally, here's my take on social media, and how you can leverage it in your business, right now.

A definition of social media:

First and most importantly:  Social media is not advertising.  In fact, people often think of social media like an ad in a telephone book.  But that's wrong.  You don't place ads in social media.  Instead, social media is a tool, like the telephone.  In fact, the telephone was an early example of social media.  But with social media, it's like you have a telephone that's connected to thousands of phone receivers, instead of just one.  And not only that, but social media is asynchronous, meaning you don't have to be talking to those thousands of people at the same time - they can listen to you when they want to.   And whenever you remove time from the equation, your message becomes infinitely more powerful, because it lasts forever instead of happening at one point on a timeline (see my related talk at a Georgetown MBA class on the importance of capturing content).

There's so much buzz about social media that you're probably sick of hearing it. But for all the buzz, I always have people asking me, "How can I use it to my benefit?" To answer that question, I have to explain exactly what social media is (at least, to me), why it's so powerful, and what that means to you.  So finally, here's my take on social media, and how you can leverage it in your business, right now. A definition of social media: First and most importantly:  Social media is not advertising.  In fact, people often think of social media like an ad in a telephone book.  But that's wrong.  You don't place ads in social media.  Instead, social media is a tool, like the telephone.  In fact, the telephone was an early example of social media.  But with social media, it's like you have a telephone that's connected to thousands of phone receivers, instead of just one.  And not only that, but social media is asynchronous, meaning you don't have to be talking to those thousands of people at the same time - they can listen to you when they want to.   And whenever you remove time from the equation, your message becomes infinitely more powerful, because it lasts forever instead of happening at one point on a timeline (see my related talk at a Georgetown MBA class on the importance of capturing content). So, my definition of social media is this:  A way to transfer knowledge and expertise out of your head, and into the hands of the people that want it when they're making a decision that could be affected by what you know. You must remember that social media is a tool, not an ad.  And it requires an investment of your time to be leveraged effectively.  In fact, that's the biggest barrier that keeps most people from really using it to their benefit:  You have to learn new skills, and you have to dedicate time to utilizing those skills.  You can't just buy an ad and be done with it. These barriers are enough to keep most people from using social media effectively. The benefits, however, are enormous.  The funny thing about social media is that anyone can do it, because everyone has expertise in something.  And at its core, that's all social media is:  sharing your expertise with the world in a structured way. The good news is that you can pick & choose certain ways to get involved in social media that are easier and require less of a commitment to get started, and graduate from there as you see results.  Here's a list of some options, from easiest to hardest: Start a blog: Back in 2007 I wrote about why Henry Ford would love blogs.  I recommend you read that article to understand the benefits of blogging.  Your goal should be to become a subject matter expert in the eyes of Google, so when people search for keywords, your name comes up.  The narrower your topic, the easier that will be. Difficulty rating:  Easy.  2 on a scale of 10 (10 is hardest) Time commitment: Medium. 2 hours per week, minimum.  You must build up 100+ blogs before you'll be picked up by Google for your blogging. Tools: Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress Make Videos: The power of videos is often underrated.  Here's an example:  I made a YouTube real estate video titled "Making successful lowball offers".  It's been viewed over 10,000 times (remember what I wrote above about social media being asynchronous and letting people consume your content on their time?  9,000 views is a perfect example.)  That video has paid handsome dividends over the years, as clients have contacted me asking me to represent them. Consider, for a moment, the significance of this:  Just from making one YouTube video, which took me about an hour to produce, prospective real estate clients contacted me vs. me making cold calls trying to find clients.  I call it the "celebrity effect" - just like we all feel that we know Angelina Jolie because we've seen her in the movies, clients felt like they knew me from watching my videos, and more importantly, they knew what knowledge I had that they thought could benefit them. Want some tangible proof?  I made this video in 2006, four years ago.  And yet, here's an email I received just today from someone who just watched the video: and letting people consume your content on their time?  9,000 views is a perfect example.)  That video has paid handsome dividends over the years, as clients have contacted me asking me to represent them. Consider, for a moment, the significance of this:  Just from making one YouTube video, which took me about an hour to produce, prospective real estate clients contacted me vs. me making cold calls trying to find clients.  I call it the "celebrity effect" - just like we all feel that we know Angelina Jolie because we've seen her in the movies, clients felt like they knew me from watching my videos, and more importantly, they knew what knowledge I had that they thought could benefit them. Want some tangible proof?  I made this video in 2006, four years ago.  And yet, here's an email I received just today from someone who just watched the video: And he's in Seattle!  He's contacting me from Seattle!  There must be at least 25,000 real estate agents in Washington state, and yet he's reaching out to me, on the opposite coast of the USA, because the video was so powerful to him.  And to reinforce my telephone analogy, it's like I've been on the telephone for over four years, with over 9,000 people, with just this one video alone.  Now that's the power of social media. My friend Frank LLosa, also a real estate broker, has done amazing, cutting edge things with videos, as evidenced by his "wheel estate cam". Difficulty rating:  Medium.  3 on a scale of 10 (get past your fear of appearing on camera, of thinking you have to make it 'perfect', and of uploading videos to YouTube) Time commitment: Low. 15 minutes+ per video; make as many as you'd like. Tools: social media bag, Kodak Zi8, YouTube, Vimeo Tweet: I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter.  I recently nuked my following list because there was too much noise for me to use it effectively. However, it can be a very powerful way to contact people that would otherwise be inaccessible to you.  One tip for Twitter newbies - use it to search for content, instead of feeling like you have to use it to create content.  For example, do you love Costa Rica?  You can see what people are saying about it, right now.  Maybe you need a job in Washington DC?  You can search for that, too. Difficulty rating:  Low.  1 on a scale of 10 Time commitment: High.  Getting into the habit of using Twitter can be difficult. Tools: Twitter, CoTweet for business users, TweetDeck and HootSuite for power and mobile users Facebook I'm not much of a Facebook user personally, but many people are.  I like to run Facebook through TweetDeck and just keep that open all day.  It's a way to get updates on what's happening on Facebook without having to go to the site. Facebook Groups and Fan Pages are a good way to spread the word of whatever your business or cause is, and get people to sign up as fans.  I recently did this for AppMakr and with 1410Q, so we'll see how well it works for us.  I also run all my tweets through Facebook, so instead of creating content in Facebook directly, when I post a tweet on Twitter, it shows up on Facebook. If you have good tips on how to leverage Facebook, please leave them in the comments below, as I don't have any big ones here. Difficulty rating:  Low.  2 on a scale of 10 Time commitment: Varies.  You'll get out of it what you put into it. Tools: Facebook LinkedIn I'm not a big LinkedIn fan, mostly because of its limited utility to actually contact people from the tool.  It's like a tease to me - you can find many people on LinkedIn, but you can't actually contact them.  I much prefer Jigsaw, which I recommend for all salespeople as a powerful secret weapon to be able to contact anyone. Difficulty rating:  Low.  2 on a scale of 10 Time commitment: Varies.  You'll get out of it what you put into it. Tools: LinkedIn Mobile: Mobile is an emerging part of social media.  Many of you know that I co-founded PointAbout, a company that makes high-end custom iPhone and Android applications for brands like The Washington Post, Gannett, Kaplan, Burger King, and Cars.com.  We've also launched a service called AppMakr, which lets anyone make their own iPhone app. Most people just refer to mobile in the singular sense, but mobile is actually comprised of three main areas, which we call the "mobile pyramid".  Here's a chart we made to describe all three: If you want to get into mobile, you'll have to have a strategy for all three areas.  For now, really digging into mobile is an advanced area of social media, although tools like AppMakr are making it much easier.  But you'll probably want to save this one for last, as the mobile distribution channel still has a smaller footprint than the web (at least in the US).  If you're progressive, though, mobile is a very hot and fast-growing area you should focus on. Difficulty rating:  High.  10 on a scale of 10 (or 4 on a scale of 10 with a tool like AppMakr) Time commitment: High up-front, then low ongoing Tools: AppMakr, PointAbout I'm sure many of you will have comments on other tools or approaches to social media, and I'd love to hear them.  Please leave your comments below.

8 Quick Tips on Writing a Great Economics Essay

On Econoception

Struggling to write an economics essay? I have compiled a list of 8 to-dos that will help you make your essay writing more focused. If you are aspiring to write a great economics essay, you should consider paying close attention to the following 8 suggestions.

Most of the times, the preamble has a treasure trove of information available. As a student, your job is to dig out that information.

This is usually characterised by a particular date, a major event, some factual information on firms or a series of economic policies. Keep in mind the context when you tackle the essay, as you are almost always required to come back to it.

Frequently, the preamble is a very general statement which is followed by a 'discuss' question asking you to comment on the validity of the statement. Such questions require you to sieve out the exceptions to the claim and often that forms the anti-thesis part of the answer.

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of question words that require three different types of structure in answering the question.

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