Flair For Writing is getting a Facelift! Check out My Profile Page for Now!

As with all things, we get old. Some old things are great old like fine wine, vintage cars, model T’s, Fisher Price toys from my childhood. Some old things are useless-a flip phone? (hard to believe I thought that was cooler than these touch things!), sweater dresses, typewriters (bonus ,though, for Hollywood like their use in Hidden Figures!), and stale chips.

After 7 years, Flair For Writing will get an innovative look and feel and host a slew of new services including SEO, reputation management, video production, email marketing campaigns, social media campaigns, and more! But we will still base everything on awesome and shareable content.

Check us out on http://miche156.wixsite.com/michelle-bedard for now and keep watching! Or call us at 925-336-6076.

Thank You, Social Media

social mediaI spoke with a client yesterday, who, given his age, doesn’t “get” social media.  I hear it from many clients and my parents.  “I don’t know what Twitter is and I wouldn’t know how to tweet.  Snapchat?  What’s the point?” My parents refuse to have a FB account and I’m not allowed to post any pictures of them…for privacy purposes.

In fairness, I had to ask the same question to my daughter who is always taking selfies and posting on Instagram and Snapchat, competing with her brothers for likes?  Concerned about her ego-centrism, I was quickly reprimanded with the explanation, “Snapchat’s a way of sending messages but with your picture.  Ugh, you just don’t get it, Mom.”

No, I honestly don’t get sending pictures of myself to my contacts. Most of the time, I don’t even like the way I look let alone want to share it with others…over and over and over…on the same day, often within minutes of each other.  Perhaps I’m just missing the newest craze.

However, I do so love social media, not just for my business, but for all it allows me to read, see, learn, explore, and feel.

Without social media in my life, I would not have the pleasure of seeing how my students from 20+ years turned out.  Socially awkward and physically awkward in junior high (who wasn’t?), these young ladies and gentlemen have turned into some of the most precious beings to me. And I get such pride and joy out of seeing the beautiful and handsome partners they ended up with, and I get a small glimpse into their tragedies, milestones, and families. Events and emotions I would never have experienced without being let into their lives virtually.

So Much to Offer

Social media, you have brought me friends I have never met, but bonded with over challenges in our lives, opportunities for advice, career advancement, and that extra reminder I am not alone in my journey.

I have reconnected with people from St. Mary’s College; people I may never had had a conversation with 24 years ago, but with whom I share anecdotes, stories, tears of sorrow, tears of joy, and many laughs over their posts.  Our class is very tight, and we all feel that Gael bond.  It’s amazing to see that after all of these years, we most certainly are there for each other.

I Needed you 10 Years Ago

But social media, where were you 10 years ago? When I was depressed, lonely, longing for the company of anyone, someone, who could tell me why, after having three kids, I fell into a deep depression with my fourth?  Where were all of my online support friends when I found myself longing to go back to work despite having a full and blessed life…or so I thought.  Where were you when my husband left me with four kids under 8, including a newborn? Cuz I could have used a few of you to cry to and send me virtual hugs when I felt my world was falling apart and there was no way I was getting out of this.

I remember turning to Kelly Ripa and Regis Philbin of all people!  I loved Kelly before she became a star.  I named my daughter, Hailey, although spelled differently, after Kelly’s character on All My Children. I just needed SOMEONE ANYONE to talk to me.  Their voices filled my empty heart and soul and my home.

Today, when I need that boost of support to get me through a rough patch or to share a Momism that makes my heart burst with pride, I turn to social media.  Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In.  All such powerful tools in so many ways.

So it makes sense that I turned my passion for social media into my profession.

So thank you, social media, for being a way to connect both on a personal and a professional level with so many people who mean so much to me for so many different reasons. And for all of the good you do in bringing people knowledge, entertainment, awareness to so many causes. For that little bit of energy or jolt I get when I have a few minutes to take my mind off work and kids and see what others are doing, experiencing, feeling.

Yeah, social media, you’re just the kind of thing I need-despite what others may think of you.

 

 

My Addiction to Buffer

In my daily meanderings around my social media sites yesterday, I came across an article about content management that I found very informative and wanted to share on Linked In, Twitter, Google +, and Facebook. But instead of seeing the usual Facebook image, Twitter bird, or Linked In branding, I saw a simple word:  Buffer.  Having never seen that link before, I ignored the link and moved on to finish the content for a Luxury Estate I was eager to see to completion.

Today I read through my emails and found an article from one of my favorite sites, Social Media Examiner.  After reading the article, “How to Create Content that Generates Leads,” I again looked for links to share this awesome article.  But again, no Facebook link, no friendly twitter bird, no red Google sign-only the word, Buffer.

Having a bit of time, but not really, I clicked on the Buffer image and a brand new world opened up to me.  Behind that link lay a play land of social links:  Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Linked In, Pinterest, and Tumblr.  I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the kids in the Lion Witch and Wardrobe,  and any child who has ever imagined living in a land of make believe.  But this was real!  My missing links had been found, and I found a time-saver, a gem, a golden opportunity to try a new social media tool, and the story of two young gentlemen who took an idea and ran with it.

Buffer is a software application that can help manage social media sites by posting them under one button and allowing the user to choose what time to post and how many times to post.  Buffer allows users to link to their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, Google+,and Tumblr accounts all at once, instead of having to post to each account individually.  You can choose which accounts to link to and what time to post. Buffer incorporates analytics social media 3as well and has a help desk to answer questions around the clock.

Started within the last two years by two young entrepreneurs, Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich, Buffer has over 1,100,000 followers and is sure to grow with exposure and time.

Rules of Engagement for Social Media

I’d like to thank and give credit to Susan Lahey from the Silicon Hills News for writing this article and to Clive Hornsby @CliveHornsby for tweeting this link.

Social media is a conversational tool that is meant to engage and inform.  But do you know how to use social media in  your business?  If you answered that you do not know how to use social media in your business correctly, that’s ok, because most people do not know how to properly use social media.

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Ok, now that you pointed out my flaw in not understanding how to use social media correctly, please tell me how.

1. Have a clear objective.  What do you want to get out of social media?  A feel good following to pick you up?  Don’t laugh…it’s saved me in therapy, and it works.  Do you want to be able to inform people?  Sell your product or service?  Engage with your customers?  Define your objective before you begin your social media strategy.

2.  Use social media, and use it well.  According to Olivier Blanchard, author of Social Media Roi, social media should be part of sales and public relations, community involvement, business intelligence, and a HUGE, did I emphasize this enough?  HUGE part of customer service.

3.  Know how to levege social media in terms of brand reputation.  Do not ignore a bad review.  You know you’re great, the loyal customers know you’re great, but the guy who just posted a bad review is telling everyone of your potential clientele that you’re not so great.  So engage a team of employees who have knowledge about brand reputation to address your negative publicity.

4.  Integrate social media throughout your organization.  Engage your employees with your social media presence.  Do not make the mistake of allowing your employees to go uncontrolled when posting and responding or tweeting.  Set rules, boundaries, limits.  Set up a “mission control center” where you have someone or many people watching your twitter streams for mentions.  Hire someone to engage your clients and customers and the public in real time (versus tweeting or posting well after a comment, question, concern, or suggestion is made).  Time is of the essence.  Put someone in charge of watching for relevant news stories and topics to inform your following.

5.  Incorporate a content process with dynamic content.  Have staff write copy and edit posts.  Thank you, Michael Brito of Edelman Digital for hammering home what we content writers know to be true:  you need quality content based on stories of customers, vendors, trends, and news.

6.  Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.  Timing is imperative.  According to Dr. Scott Henderson, Principal Scientist of Gnip, you need to promote branding deeply and slowly while public relations needs to be handled quickly!  A company who responds within five minutes to a question or need produces seven times more sales than companies who wait to address a need, comment, question, or concern.

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7.  Marketing is NOT the primary target for your social media efforts.  You need to gain trust and become an authority in your field to develop a following before your customers will buy from you.  No one wants a hard sell; that is why we do not answer the door for door-to-door salesman.  That is why our neighbors have “no soliciting” signs.  If you use your platform to make a pitch for your product or service at every opportunity, you will lose your following.  Shared experiences are the future of branding.

If you are looking for specific examples of how to use social media to your benefit, read my next blog for some real tricks I’ve used to grow my following.

If you want to read the entire article by Susan Lahay, visit my website at www.flairforwriting.com for the link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Words: How One Man’s Two Words Created Havoc

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Love, Michelle  Two words.  Two simple words drawn in flour across the windshield of a 1968 Valiant almost caused a break up, a canceled camping trip, and the loss of a precious friendship.

You’d have expected that two young scholars would have thought of the repercussions of pasting flour, water, and egg onto a car in 98 degree heat.  But they didn’t.  I guess the thrill of sabotaging my car in a playful, teenage boy way was more important than thinking about the chemical reaction between cake batter and car paint. 

And if they didn’t think about what caked-on batter would do in intense temperature, they really didn’t think how two innocent words might be misconstrued.

So when I woke up that dry, hot summer day, with my bag packed and ready to chaperone 15 teens on a camping trip, the last issue I wanted to deal with was an angry call from my boyfriend yelling at me for pouring flour all over his car in the middle of the night and then writing, “Love Michelle” across his window in flour hearts.  Not flower hearts, mind, you, flour hearts, as in “add 2 cups of flour to the egg mixture” and back at 425 degrees.

The Truth Hurts

After an initial confrontation between my boyfriend and me, I, too, told him my car had been “floured” and the offenders had tried to blame me for vandalizing his car.  And it worked.  We compared car damage and agreed we would need to find another way to get our teens to the camping trip, as we both had planned on filling our bakery goods, formerly cars, with excited teenagers.

After scampering to find additional automobiles and drivers, we waited for our two other chaperons to show up.  They drove up sullenly and slowly, a bit too apprehensively for their own sake, which pretty much alerted us to the pranksters in this case.

My boyfriend and I screamed at them telling them how stupid we thought it was for them to put a basic cooking ingredient on our car the morning of an important event.  “Did you think of what it might do to the paint?” we screeched.  “How could you blame ME?” I asked my best friend, the culprit who initiated the Great Flouring of 1987.

Out of the passenger seat sulked our other friend.  “I did it, ” he admitted.  “I’m the one who drew the hearts and wrote, ‘Love Michelle’.  I thought it was funny.”

Not Ready to Laugh

“Funny?”  my boyfriend scowled?  “It was anything but funny.  I blamed Michelle.  How could you?”

The look on the two culprits’ faces was enough to know they felt pretty embarrassed and ridiculous for their prank.  “We’ll pay for any damages,” our friends said.

But the damage was done and so, I was convinced, was our friendship.  What they thought was a harmful prank was a personal attack felt by us.  The camping trip continued without a problem, only a little bit more silence between the chaperones than we all had anticipated.

Looking Back. 25 years later

Today my friend passed away from cancer.  And through all of the pain and hurt I feel, I still find comfort in the two words he imprinted on my heart, and my boyfriend’s car:  Love, Michelle. 

Words are powerful. Powerful enough to evoke feelings of anger when they were meant to evoke feelings of passion, laughter, and lightheartedness.  I can still picture the words carefully written in flour, with hearts surrounding them, on the windshield of my boyfriend’s car.

And today, those two words are images I want to remember, as I mourn the loss of my very dear high school friend.

By, Michelle Bedard