Communication is a Science – We Read Live Data

Communication is a science. I’m frankly tired of seeing it categorized as a soft skill as though it’s less important. Of course communication includes data. The trick with communication professionals is that we read and respond to data live.

Are soft skills “hot air?”

Soft Skills Venn Diagram

I saw this Venn Diagram and was offended at best.

Business people (marketing, sales, finance) are not inferior to software developers, engineers, and/or front-end designers. Every specialty has its training and technical side. Let’s respect expertise for what it is — expertise.

I commented on the blog. The author replied:

Thanks for commenting, Bridget. I did not create the Venn diagram, nor do I endorse it or its labels. It is used as a counterexample for classifying data science in an over-exclusive way.

Firstly, the fact that one didn’t create an image doesn’t remove one’s responsibility for it. What if it were hate speech? Why is it acceptable in the tech community to demean soft skills?

To be fair, this diagram and discussion brought something to the surface that I’ve been encountering since I began marketing as a career.

Data Requires Context

Sure. Pour over the data you have in Google Analytics. Make charts. Create ratios. Create forecasting models. That’s needed. I’m not against data.

But data alone isn’t the whole picture. Recently, a client noticed a drop in leads from Yelp. Is it because Yelp isn’t effective? That was the conclusion all too easy to jump to. Yet, what has changed? Quite a lot, actually. We began advertising on Facebook, we launched a new website with regular blog posts, and we started an Instagram account. Yelp isn’t less effective, it’s simply no longer the only star in the sky of data.

Context, a story, matters when interpreting data. That comes with soft skills. Anyone can collect data. But can you ask the right questions to interpret the data?

Brené Brown is now famous for saying, “Maybe stories are just data with a soul” in her TED talk. Stories give context to data. This is what makes data powerful. Otherwise any data can be manipulated for any purpose.

“Figures often beguile me particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'” Mark Twain

Are soft skills scientific?

They are. This is why behaviorism is a part of psychology. There are plenty of studies that look at inflection, tone, word choice, gestures, facial ticks, and body language. All of this is data. It’s being streamed through our senses and interpreted in real time by our brains.

Soft skills are scientific. We call them soft because it’s hard for us to define.

Those with business, marketing, sales, and communication skills read a different kind of data: it’s human data. It’s behavior and behavior patterns. We analyze body language, inflection, and tone. We decipher patterns and predict behavior in real time in order to adjust the conversation for affinity.

Whether online or in person affinity is key. Affinity leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to sales. Of course, data is important, but it’s good to be reminded that data is a look at the past, not in the moment. Collected data is the autopsy. Soft skills are the preventive medicine.

“I’ve concluded that that data has the most impact when it’s wrapped in a story. …Data won’t get you standing ovation; stories will. Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire. Tell more of them.” Carmine Gallo, Harvard Business Review

Inspired by:

Engineering Data Science at Automattic

Kari Shea

What a Social Media Manager Can’t (or shouldn’t) Do for You

Social Media Managers are awesome. They’s so awesome, in fact, that they get amazing and quite unreasonable requests. Well, some of the requests are more demeaning than goal setting, but let’s talk about it.

Recently, my friend Carol Stephen wrote a post called “What Can a Social Media Manager Do For You?” In that post she includes items such as research, deciding when to post, and choosing hashtags.

I thought it would be fun to do the opposite.

Here are some things your social media manager should not or can not do:

  1. Care about your business more than you do.
  2. Be a videographer or video editor.
  3. Be a professional photographer or editor.
  4. Be an expert in InDesign, PhotoShop, et al.
  5. Design logos or creative.
  6. Replace a web development agency.
  7. Be a technical SEO expert.
  8. Be an expert in paid advertising.
  9. Write content for your blog.
  10. An API Ninja.

Many social media managers also have some of those skills. Be aware, however, that they are legitimate skillsets in and of themselves.

Outsource and Free Up Your Time

Have you thought about outsourcing social media? It’s a great way to grow your business and free some of your own time. Having realistic expectations helps you value what a social media manager actually does.

A good social media manager will represent your brand online and off. She will post content that has been created by your editorial staff (content creation is another job). She will post photos taken by your team (or professionals you hire) and write captions and add hashtags. Your social media manager will interact with your audience (known as engagement) with your best interest in mind.

A Marketing Manager ($85k+/year) will most likely be responsible for items 2 – 10 and outsource many of the tasks to vendors. A social media manager ($60K+)  bills for the work, not the time, is easy to get a hold of, and has a good account of her own. A Marketing Manager will likely hire a social media manager to work under her.

What kinds of questions can I help you answer or problems I can solve. Let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work.

Dana Marin

How to Market Your WordPress Freelance Business

So, you’re a small agency or freelancer. How do you market your WordPress freelance or small agency? My recommendation is content marketing through creation and distribution.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is using resources to bring your product or service to the attention of your customer (the market). So you have to dedicate resources (time, personnel, and budget) to tell people about your business. What are the best ways to do that? Here are some of my ideas.

Thanks to Cemal Tashan for recording it.

Here are the slides.

Yep. Twitter Works if You Work It.

Anyone who follows me knows how much I believe in Twitter as a B2B relationship marketing platform. An article by Neil Patel “12 Powerful Twitter Marketing Tips [That Actually Work]” came across my way via Robert Nissenbaum. Instead of commenting on his blog, it was suggested that I write my own post. So, here it is.

Set Up Twitter Right – The First Time

“Your Twitter handle has to be recognizable, easy-to-remember, and short enough for people to easily tag you.” Neil Patel

I totally agree. And make your bio something that makes sense. If your grandma doesn’t know what your Twitter bio means, then rewrite it. Think of a city sign or slogan that makes sense.

Well, if you didn’t do it right the first time, there’s no reason why you can’t fix it now. Think generic keywords. A bio is how you are found.

“Incorporate some personality or humor. Don’t be afraid to tell a few jokes or say something original.” Neil Patel

Neil recommends using humor but if it’s too inside baseball, people won’t engage. Show personality, but be careful that you’re speaking to your audience.

Here is my post on how to setup Twitter.

When do you Tweet?

So, Neil recommends tweeting during peak hours. Yet, that is a lot of volume to compete with. That said, people usually check Twitter during the times they take breaks. Think about before work (7:30 a.m.), during lunch (noon), and when they’re sick of sitting at their desk (4:30 p.m.). Read more Yep. Twitter Works if You Work It.

Specialize and Refer – Grow Your Network

How do you grow your network? That’s easy: specialize and refer. We all live off of word of mouth, if it’s not your specialty, refer. Right?

I was thinking of writing about this and then saw Rebecca Gill’s tweet. So this post came alive.

Why Specialize?

“Do one thing and do it well.”
“If everyone is your client, no one is.”
“Do it right or don’t do it at all.”

These are the clichés that make up business advice we all know. Okay, the last one was from my mom.

But the point is you can’t do everything – and do it well. Which reminds me of the ‘good-fast-cheap triangle’ tweet my friend Rachelle Wise just sent last week.

Thinking we can do everything is not only delusional, but distracts us from the things that really make us money. We’re in business for a reason, right?

If you’re a roofer, be a roofer. Go horizontal if you want, and do HVAC, but don’t start installing windows.

If you build websites, build sites. Go horizontal and make apps, but don’t start making videos.

Do what you know. Do what you can do well, efficiently, and make a profit.

How do you refer?

Knowing that we should refer and knowing how to refer are two different things. If you refer the right way, you’re still providing a valuable service to the client. It’s not losing business, it’s about being that go-to person, the expert, and the well-connected person.

If someone asks me if I do Facebook Advertising, I say,

“Sorry, John, I don’t do Facebook Ads, but my friend Jason at Thought House does.”

You can either give your client their contact information or write an email to them both. “John meet Jason. Jason meet John. John wants Facebook ads, I told him, you’re the best.”

This way, you’re making an introduction, and keeping your brand top of mind to all parties involved.

How do referrals grow my network?

Referrals work on the human emotions of trust and reciprocity. Firstly, by referring, I am extending my brand to another. I am saying, I trust this person, you can, too. So be careful about referring to people you don’t trust.

Secondly, if you send enough business someone’s way, they will also begin to refer you. That’s reciprocity. Heck, if you are just a nice person, your network will send people your way. I cannot even tell you how many dozens of people have sent others my way in the last four months.

Sometimes, they come in the form of public tweets. I have amazing and generous friends.

Do you refer, Bridget?

I absolutely refer. Firstly, I don’t build websites, I refer people to agencies. And I’ve even agreed to a partnership with Roy Sivan of ARC(CTRL).

I also don’t do Pinterest. I refer them to my very good friend Carol Stephen of Your Social Media Works. I don’t blog. I mean, I can, but I’d be way too expensive. So I refer clients to my friend Jen Miller of Need Someone To Blog. She has a system. She’s efficient. Guess what? She doesn’t do social. She sends me leads.

Do you see how it works?

Be serious about your brand and your focus. Kill the things that consume too much time. Specialize and refer the rest. You’ll never regret it.

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