social media

Divorce (And Other Yuck) PR

About a year and a half ago my life blew up. Both in an epic way and also a private way.

My husband walked out and I unexpectedly found myself looking for a new place to live and getting divorced… while still trying to do the things I typically do in my life like running businesses. Honestly, I was pretty non-functional for a few months (and am grateful for my Breaking Even team for pulling my weight for awhile while I melted down) and felt a range of emotions that was very similar to how I felt when my father died.

There are certain personal life events (say, going through a divorce) or business events (say, going through a legal battle) that you have to manage communications about.

I am sure I could have handled my own communications better but I have learned some things, from my own situation and others, that I can pass on about how to deal with this online.

Note: I get that I am a very open book person… and some of you are less so or not at all. I think this post is still helpful, wherever you are on the communication spectrum.



Think of how you want people to help you.

I know this seems like a silly first thing to think of but what you’ll find is that most people are good and want to help. And if you don’t give them something specific, they are going to think of their own ways to help you, which you may or may not appreciate.

Asking someone to pick up your kid from daycare or leaving a positive online review (or whatever you’d appreciate) isn’t selfish. It gives that energy people have somewhere positive to go. I asked for help finding housing, for help moving, even for dinner occasionally. I feel like the people I asked were the opposite of resentful. Asking family, friends, and customers for help isn’t a weakness but a strength. And you’ll know it once you try it, which I hope you don’t have to do anytime soon.

Get ahead of it, if it makes you feel better.

Going through a divorce means you find yourself in the rumor mill. And you have two options: you can let things circulate or you can get ahead of it.

If you want to let the rumor mill do its work, that is a fine way to go. “Let people talk,” and keep doing your thing.

But as a direct person, I really wanted to get ahead of it. An elevator speech will help with this.

Mine: “Derrick recently left me. I’m doing ok but currently looking for someplace to live if you hear of anything.” (See how I combined elevator speech with asking for help there?)

The elevator speech helps you manage one on one interactions and feel better doing so.

If you are comfortable and want to take ‘getting ahead of it’ a step further, a blanket social media statement will also help you really start cooking with gas.

This is how I handled it:

divorcefacebookpost

Perfect? No. But good enough.

And in case you want another idea, here’s how Elizabeth Gilbert handled her divorce declaration on her Facebook business page:

elizabethgilbertdivorcepost

We could argue that, despite Elizabeth Gilbert’s post being a much more mobile friendly one, sharing it made absolute sense since she wrote a book about marriage, whereas my marriage has nothing to do with my brand. My opinion though is the right thing to say, and whether you say anything at all, is an individual judgement call.

I do estimate that my Facebook post saved me about 400 uncomfortable conversations I would have had to have over the last 2 years. In other words, it was worth it to me.

Assume no one knows because it makes things easier.

Even when you ‘get ahead of it’, I can’t tell you how loaded the ‘How are you?’ question was for me for awhile (and even now when someone I don’t know well asks me).

But consider these two scenarios: a room full of people who know NOTHING about your situation and a room full of people who know SOMETHING about your situation. Wouldn’t you prefer the room that knows nothing? I do and so that’s how I treated everyone who asked me ‘How are you?’

Practice your answer to ‘how are you’ or ‘how’s business?’ as if the person you are talking to knows nothing. The ‘how are you’ answer may be your elevator speech or something else.  If you are caught off guard, you may end up crying at the bank or something.

It does get easier every time you say it though. Promise. Just keep it short, stick to facts, and be honest about how you are feeling.



Frame positively and get help doing it.

No one wants to be around a giant bummer, online or off. If you can frame something positively, do it.

If you need help making sure you’re not a giant bummer, have a friend (or hey, even us) read your public social media posts, blog posts, email newsletters, etc. before they go out for awhile. Even when I am not in the middle of a divorce, I can be hugely self deprecating without meaning to. Having a company policy that someone else reads copy before it gets published has been a good way to us to police ourselves in that respect.

Be authentic.

So I once went to a marketing conference that had a panel of small business owners. The owner of a local drive-in was one of them. She told stories about her business and personal struggles and rather than making me think less of her, it actually allowed me to respect her more. And while I don’t remember her name or story details, I still remember positive associations about the Saco Drive-In. 🙂

Don’t pretend you aren’t struggling if you are, or vice versa actually. People can smell it a mile away, even on the internet. Authentic is not guttural (see ‘positive framing’ above), just truthful.



Vent privately (or keep the negative as unpublic as possible).

No matter who you are, you need to vent. Get a therapist. Spread your vents out over some trustworthy, vault-like friends. Write in your diary. Go to a retreat.

Me, I got a divorce coach, very accidentally. This gave me someone to text when I had a petty thought, or someone to call crying when needed. I loved that this person was completely unconnected to my daily life and had no stake in anything. I will be forever grateful he came into my life when he did and hope to return the favor to someone else someday.

In other words, depending on how you want to interact with your negative thoughts, there is a way to privately do it.

Take the perks.

People will bring you booze, or give you a project you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Or something that feels like a benefit you’re receiving solely because of what you’ve been through.

I spent the first month feeling bad about this. Then I started identifying “divorce perks” as they came in and acknowledging the goodness of the people extending them. And it felt awesome. Seriously, in this truly awful time in your life, take the good.


I hope none of you reading this are in the middle of a crappy situation… but if you are, I hope this gives you encouragement that you can not only manage how other people see it but in turn, manage how you do as well.

Onward and upward. You’ve got this. I’ve had several people tell me they were ‘jealous’ of my year. You know what that is, folks? Marketing.



100 Youtube Videos


Inspired by a lot of short format content I’ve seen (and by friends who ask me questions that have answers which aren’t quite enough info for a blog post), I thought I’d see if I could do 100 videos in 100 days. I also wanted to see if they’d get more views or have different analytics than our longer format (more typical) videos. I’ll report back after the 100 days but if you want to check out the 30ish videos currently there in the meantime, subscribe to our channel!

I set some rules for myself during my 100 video challenge:

  1. Videos were as close to a minute long as possible.
  2. They had to be close captioned.
  3. They had to be useful as stand alone resources.

I’ve been a member of a BNI like organization for the last almost three years and since I give weekly 60 second presentations there, I found staying short to be relatively easy. It was hard, however, to both tell a story and a how-to in 60 seconds, so some videos were slightly more on one side in the other but ALL had an actionable item, even it was just ‘learn more about X’.

Youtube and Facebook both have built in closed captioning on videos (trust me, it’s much easier to go through and fix than type the whole thing yourself) so adding closed captioning was literally an extra two minutes but I think inherently valuable. I’ve watched videos with the sound off far more often than I’ll admit so I’m sure other people do the same.



You notice annoying speech tics in a whole new way when transcribing yourself.
The first few videos, I found myself saying ‘you know’ a lot. This is an old habit I’ve noticed from being video taped in my college public speaking class and later student teaching but something about writing out every time you say ‘you know’ three times in a 65 second video makes you nip it in the bud.

I videotaped a bunch of videos at once and scheduled them to go live in a playlist… but it looked like a bunch of ‘private’ videos to everyone else.
Whoops, I thought I was so clever. Thanks Jon Hill for noticing and telling me. May we all have a friend like Jon Hill in our lives. Share your videos with that friend so they can point out weird technical stuff like that, because it’s impossible to see some things while you are logged in or otherwise ‘in it’.

I felt slimy about putting it all as a blog post, as Facebook videos, as Youtube videos, etc.
Even though I tell people this is possible (to make something once and use everywhere), thinking about doing this daily makes me feel slimy. Now I understand why people pay for someone else to do this for them (someone like us), rather than do it themselves. I know instinctively that there are different people/audiences on each site but it can be difficult to press that “publish” button multiple times when it’s your own project.

I am glad I decided not to make them fancier.
I could have added an intro/exit to each video but I thought that would be pretty annoying to people wanting to binge watch a bunch at once. It also would have added about five minutes of work to each video. In the case of the short form video, I didn’t deem fanciness (background music, screenshots, etc.) necessary. I thought I might regret this choice part way through the process but I don’t.

I still have about 60 videos to make so leave a comment on this post about topics you want me to cover. I’ll report back at the end of the challenge but I hope you watch, subscribe, and share the most useful ones to you.



What’s In a Name?

I was reviewing a recent post from my colleague, Kassie, about some fading trends. It got me to thinking about this ongoing trend in odd-sounding online company names.

Let’s start with the ubiquitous “Facebook.” The original name for this plucky social media startup was “The Facebook” as coined by founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 as an online directory for Harvard Students. According to Speeli (an actual website with that actual name), “A Facebook is (a) collection of names and photos of people distributed in American universities.” The name was eventually shortened.

As we know, Facebook has since faded into obscurity and never had a movie made about it, meanwhile, Zuckerberg is now working as a low-paid temp in suburban Ohio performing light clerical duties. Ha! Just kidding about the world’s most popular social network (please don’t delete my account, Mr. Zuckerberg).



So there is a rhyme and reason behind the name, even if it’s a bit obscure. Facebook, we’ll give you a pass.

Moving onto “Google.” A Googol, as you may or may not recall, is a numeral representing a 1 followed by one hundred 0s. The search engine’s founders named their company after “Googol,” but misspelled it as “Google,” according to the Stanford Daily. So there you have it. The site you go to in order to figure out the correct spellings of strange words is actually itself misspelled. Still, it’s better than the initial name for the company: Backrub (seriously).

“Tinder.” First of all, kudos to the folks at Tinder for not dropping the “e” in their name. Many an online company try to be clever by sacrificing vowels in the search to be “edgy” and to “register a domain name that hasn’t been taken.” (I’m looking at you, Tumblr.) Anyway, “tinder” is defined as “material that is easily combustible and can be used for lighting a fire, e.g. dry sticks.” So with Tinder, once you have a spark, you can make fire or a flame. Makes sense for a match making site.

“Wikipedia.” I kind of hate word mashups. Snapchat, LinkedIn, Buzzfeed, YouTube. Bunch of cutting-edge innovative jerks, all of them! But I’ll make an exception for Wikipedia.

As one can imagine, Wikipedia does a pretty good job of defining itself: “The name ‘Wikipedia’ is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning ‘quick’) and encyclopedia.” So “Wikipedia” means “Quick Encylopedia,” something I learned by Googling “Wikipedia,” which led me to Wikipedia’s page on … Wikipedia.

“Reddit.” Much like The B Sharps from “The Simpsons,” Reddit is a name that seems funny and clever the first time you say it, but gets less so the more you repeat it. The company’s FAQ says says, “It’s (sort of) a play on words — i.e., ‘I read it on reddit.'”

There also a lengthy Reddit thread on a supposed Latin definition of the word that we can only assume devolves into comments regarding “OP’s mom.”



Networking for Small Businesses

Our theme for July is “Independence Doesn’t Have to Mean Alone,” and in our last post, we shared a few ways business owners can delegate their work rather than spread themselves too thin. This post is about making connections as a small business owner, or, as some like to call it, networking.

For introverts like myself, networking can be a bit of a challenge. But I know the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Networking has a few different purposes. First, it’s a tool for expanding your business and gaining potential customers. Second, it’s a way to meet and share experiences with other entrepreneurs. When networking, I find it helpful to think, “I’m about to meet some people who are in a similar boat as me. I bet some of them have cool stories and I could come away from this with interesting, new connections.”



Here are four helpful guidelines for successful networking:

Set a Goal. Plan to attend a certain number of events per month and talk to X number of people at each event. Or, reach out to a specific number of new people every week via email. These goals can make the whole networking experience a bit more fun, too. Remember to follow up with your connections — that’s just as important as meeting them in the first place.

Remember to follow up with your connections — that’s just as important as meeting them in the first place.

Have Something Ready. One of my greatest weaknesses in networking — and meeting people in general — is that I can become easily flustered. Something as simple as “So what do you do?” will result in me doing a lot of mumbling and rambling — “ramumbling,” if you will.

Know that at any networking event, at least one person is going to ask you what you do. Be prepared with an answer. This may also be a good reason to work on your elevator speech. You don’t need to sound like a robot, but you should sound prepared.

Also, keep your business cards at the ready for anyone who may ask for one.



Participate in Groups. Online groups can be found via social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Twitter. Participation can occur in a few different ways. You can create your own post within a group in which you share a cool resource, ask a question about something you need help with, or seek opinions on a challenge you face. Also, read posts made by others and respond with comments that are helpful and/or pertinent.

Stepping away from the internet, you can join the local chamber of commerce, Rotary, or any other business-oriented or volunteer organization. It’s a great way to meet local people who do business within your community.

A warning: Don’t approach these groups with a sales pitch. Growing your business is a good goal, but networking is more about fostering relationships.

Stay in Touch. Congrats, you’ve met a ton of new people through your networking! But, how are you staying in touch with them?

Nicole has a favorite app for staying in touch, which lets her know when it’s been a while since she has reached out to someone. Or, you may create a system (spreadsheet, flowchart, sticky notes) just to reach out to people, follow up about something from your conversation, maybe invite them to grab a coffee.

As a shy introvert, I find that following up with others can be just as difficult as making the first contact. But I try to keep in mind that comfort zones equal stagnation. It’s like the advice on water sources found in the wilderness: Drinking running water is usually okay, but standing/stagnant water … you gotta watch out for that stuff. (Sorry for the digression — I’m ramumbling again.)

For those who need help with networking (like me), check out this video I made last fall about networking for the shy introvert:



5 Tips for Engaging People on Social Media

One of the biggest challenges businesses have with social media is engagement: Generating likes, comments, shares, etc. After all, what’s the point of your social media presence if you’re just shouting into the abyss? Building an audience that will interact with your business on social media can be difficult. But before you get discouraged, take a look at these tips:

Offer a contest. Everybody loves to win something, even if it’s bragging rights (but if you have an actual prize to offer, so much the better). Contests can be a fun once- or twice-a-year thing, and they don’t have to be very complicated. You can even make it as simple as “Guess how many jellybeans are in the jar for a $25 gift certificate.”

A few years ago, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound offered a Facebook contest where users created an “unofficial slogan” for the restaurant in order to be entered into a random drawing for a t-shirt. There were a couple hundred entries and an increase in page likes over the duration of the contest.



Brainstorm with coworkers and/or check out others in your industry for contest ideas.

Ask Questions. Ask your followers questions on your social media platforms to drive up engagement. This article recommends avoiding broad questions such as “What’s your favorite flavor?” Rather, they suggest giving users multiple choices and an accompanying graphic. Questions can be phrased as customer-service oriented, too. Example: “If we were to add a new machine to the cardio room, what would you choose?” This could also be done using a multiple choice format. Asking a question encourages people to interact with your page (and bonus points to you for responding back).

Encourage people to share. Encourage followers to share how they use your product (this is also known as “User Generated Content”). If you have a brick-and-mortar store, post a sign encouraging people to check in and/or tag your business on social media. And, the more content you can get others to post on your behalf, the better — it increases your reach, and all you did was put up a sign! Again, there’s a lot of ways to be creative.

Ask for Reviews. It may feel a little weird at first, but trust me — one of the best ways to get online reviews is to “make the ask.” It doesn’t have to be frequent — maybe once a week or every other week — in order to remind people where you are online. Cross-pollinate these requests. Example: Folks might already be reviewing you on Facebook. So post on Facebook a reminder that your business can also be reviewed on Yelp or Google+. People are willing to help you out, but they have to know where and how.

People are willing to help you out, but they have to know where and how.

Pay attention to analytics. Sounds boring? Maybe, but following your analytics may be the most helpful thing you can do to boost engagement. Look at individual social media accounts to devise the best strategy for each. For example, you may find Twitter requires more posts per day than Facebook. Automate this task using online tools such as Buffer, MeetEdgar, or Hootsuite. (Source)

As you create a social media marketing plan, think about how you can incorporate some of these ideas into your strategy and encourage people to interact with what you have to say.



Things We’ve Written About That Are No Longer ‘Things’

The other day I saw this tweet and thought “Huh, I did actually forget about the whole clown thing from last year”:

 

In that vein, I got to thinking about some of the other things that I’ve forgotten about over the past few years. We stay on top of the trends, new apps and websites we think are cool or could become be a big deal, but that doesn’t always mean those things have staying power. Thanks to @imchip’s tweet, I dug through some of our older blog posts to take a look at some of the apps that have been left behind:

Yik-Yak. This was a blog post I’d written almost 3 years ago now, and I’d completely forgotten about how FUN this app was. An anonymous social network that allowed you to post an update and up-/down-vote others within a certain location, it was pretty hilarious. The app wasn’t really popular in rural Maine so I only ever saw maybe 4 yaks that summer when I wasn’t traveling. However, Yik-Yak was also an example of social media turning ugly after some Yakkers used the platform for cyberbulling and making bomb threats. A couple months ago, the company announced that they would be no more. Although I admittedly haven’t paid attention to the app in a long time, I’m still a bit sad to see it go.

Meerkat. In 2015 live video was a budding enterprise and we saw the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. But as they say, “There can be only one.” Periscope has since been acquired by Twitter and lives on. Meerkat, on the other hand, was declared dead last fall. Meerkat’s parent company, Live On Air, said they learned from the experience and have developed the Houseparty group video chat app. In the meantime, live video is now widely available through Periscope, Facebook, and Instagram.

Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go was launched around the time of the Great Clown Scare of 2016. It was an overnight sensation. But a few months later, Pokémon Go dropped almost totally out of my newsfeeds, social media news stories and blog posts. But is Pokémon Go dead? Not by a long shot. Squirtles, Zubats, Psyducks and their ilk may make a splash again this summer as the company plans a big update. Meanwhile, Pokémon Go remains popular with certain folks but is no longer considered a “viral among the masses” app.



Peeple. Back in the fall of 2015, John brought Peeple to our attention.  Advertised as “Yelp for People,” there was a lot of backlash at the concept, pre-launch. As a result, post-launch Peeple was declared “boring” because the creators actually took people’s feedback into consideration and ended up with a watered down version of the app. While Peeple is still in existence, it hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Prisma. Like Peeple, Prisma is still an active app, but I think it’s become more of a niche thing than a “used among the masses” thing. Something else that I found interesting: Other apps like Microsoft Pix are starting to replicate the artistic photo effects of Prisma, meaning there’s more competition in the market. Again, I don’t necessarily think Prisma is dead or dying, it just seems to have plateaued.

And finally, something that used to be a thing but is no more — MySpaceBack in 2007, I was on MySpace for a hot second before getting freaked out by the whole thing and deleting it (only to have my friends convince me to get Facebook the next year). MySpace had a good run and has exchanged hands a couple times over the past couple decades (technically it does still exist). Perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen in the post-MySpace news is that Tom, the dude everyone had to be friends with, was able to retire very early and spends his days traveling around the world taking photos (source).