ION Digital

Covering the New World of Business Communications

The One Thing You Must Get Right with an Editorial Engine (and most companies miss)

May 7th, 2014

ion-humanengineWe get part of it right when we’re developing editorial programs (“editorial engines”) to drive our corporate social media activities. We’re good at putting together strategic communications plans and building production processes.

Where we come up short is on the human side, a key reason companies struggle with social media. We have to develop important personal relationships in the early stages that will help drive this beast. We need to engage with key stakeholders. And we need to tell stories that will resonate with our audiences. One senior manager calls this last one the “magic pixie dust.”

This doesn’t  happen at most companies. It’s like oil and water, left brain corporate strategists and storytellers don’t usually mix. Personal communications skills and strategies are often an afterthought. We’re still operating like it’s the 1990s, not the new social world, and we need to fix it.

First, start with what most companies do well. The high tech companies I work with are great with process and systems. Getting the trains to run on time. Producing a solid product, manufacturing and distribution. Check, check,check.

This works well with the front end when I’m setting up an editorial or content engine. That includes developing a framework, establishing goals, objectives, and eventually an editorial production process (including editorial calendars). Corporate folks are comfortable with the content production process-editorial meetings, assigning stories, meeting deadlines, etc.  The trains are rolling.

Issues arise when you have to start dealing those messy humans. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Seven Habits of the “Just Good Enough” Social Marketer

April 17th, 2014

diamond1I’ve always been a perfectionist, and it worked out ok when I was getting through the early part of my career as a journalist. Sources were carefully grilled. Everything had to be fact checked twice. Sentences had to be carefully crafted, and words chosen carefully. My first editor at BusinessWeek told me, “Magazine real estate is precious. Use it wisely.”

Now we live in a new world that is no longer shaped by printing presses and information scarcity. Yet everyday I see companies that make these mistakes: they want to launch the perfect social media program, write the world’s best blog, create the polished video, and so on.

They are suffering from the curse of the corporate perfectionist.

They find out the hard way that this is not what social media and blogging is about. It’s more about conveying compelling ideas and connecting with audiences in authentic ways, not just writing beautiful prose or top-down marketing approaches. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Power of Loose Ties

March 31st, 2014

The loose tie

A few years ago I wrote a post about “loose ties.”  I was inspired after an article by  Malcom Gladwell, who stirred up a bee’s hive when he dared to question in the New Yorker (Small Change: Why this Revolution will not be Tweeted) that networks like Facebook and Twitter could lead to massive social movements and great change; the ties just aren’t strong enough to get people to engage in high risk behavior, like risking their lives for revolutionary causes, he argued.

Turns out he was wrong.  Loose ties connect us in ways we would have never been connected before, and to people we would never know or work with otherwise. Secondly, loose ties can evolve into close ties–indeed, they should in select cases.

I’ve seen this again since losing my job at Cisco a few months ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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7 Steps for Overcoming Writer’s Block (and writing a great blog)

March 21st, 2014

Don’t you hate writer’s block? You know you have brilliant ideas, but there’s that damn blank screen staring at you when you sit down to blog. Nothing happens. The brain’s in idle. Frustration begins to creep in. (Remember Jack Nicholson in The Shining?)

Many people struggle with writing. But I believe anyone can write and blog with the right approach. It’s not brain surgery, but it does take some work.

First, get over the idea that you have to write a blockbuster blog every time. We find in our training that many corporate bloggers are by nature analytical and perfectionists, which creates a lot of extra agony. It’s great to hit a home run, but mostly this is about hitting lots of singles and doubles.

Jack Nicholson

Blogs are bursts of communications-probably closer to a semi structured email than a traditional article. You’re not writing a white paper or essay. Think “light” and “just good enough” (I wrote about this several years ago, see the just good enough marketer).

Here’s 7 starting tips to help you get rolling: Read the rest of this entry »

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Five (serious) Tips for Using Humor to Connect, Engage & Influence

April 10th, 2012

cigarrette-humorIf social media is really like a dinner party, it seems like we’re missing something … humor.

Humor is one of the most effective-and under-appreciated tactics in communications. This applies to every day business discussions, professional presentations, and yes, social media. Look at Pinterest. Some of the most popular pins are funny or offbeat. Twitter and Facebook is even better. Who can’t resist a clever or funny tweet, or conversation starter?

Good humor works because it connects with people at an emotional level. We live in a very serious world. Humor provides us a mental break. For companies, it’s a great way to come across more engaging and naturally-more human.

But humor has to be handled right. Just being funny online is not enough, and there are risks. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you engage with humor.

  1. Use humor creatively,particularly when it comes to explaining complex subjects. And don’t be afraid to be a little edgy. Look at thisinfographic which is focused on helping users improve their Facebook Edgerank score. Rather than just a dry listing of tips, “Conquer the Facebook” uses clever humor with news stream posts by “legendary Facebook conquerors” like Julius Caesar (Ex: #5 Ask for Likes- Genghis Kahn states: “Ask for likes if you’re a Mongol with a funny decapitation story.”  Clever and funny. Read the rest of this entry »
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Social media insights and resources for professional communicators


  • Melissa