Writing speaker bios for a couple of upcoming conferences, I realized that I am losing a swath of patience for social media. Once completed, my bios read as though written by an old woman carrying a very big stick, which she freely waves at young children and drags along picket fences.
I’m getting fed up.
So many passionate bubbles of controversy, elevated by hot air. Too few people harnessing their desires and taking action.
Too many outcries about what “they” should be doing and not enough about what “I am” doing or plan to do henceforth.
I’ve had enough. Enough with the complaining already! In my day, we got pissed, we got to work! Enter my old woman:
Offended by poorly-researched, generic PR pitches?
File them and move along.
When bad PR pitches arrive to clutter my inbox, I slap a label on them and file them for follow-up. That follow-up is generally granted time proportionate to the time the pitchman gave his research of me and my audience. Most of the time, I don’t even read them past “Dear Velveteen Mind.” Believe it or not, my given name is not Velveteen Mind. I consider it an affront to my parents that you would suggest as much.
See what I did there? Humor. I don’t take myself too seriously. Or you.
And I don’t waste time or emotional energy on poorly-researched pitches.
Unfollow at will.
I unfollowed over 900 people on twitter last weekend. I didn’t make a big fuss about it. I didn’t labor over the consequences. I just did it. My feed had become too noisy, too cluttered, too difficult to see conversations amid all of the marketing. So I fixed it.
On a daily basis, I use twitter lists to filter my feed into easily-digestible chunks, largely through TweetDeck, organized as follows:
- main feed: where I see everyone I follow and find new people to focus on
- @ replies: where I catch when you mention me (clearly my favorite)
- Enrich and Inform: this is the list I read most closely, including scrolling back indefinitely to catch what has been said up to 48 hours prior
- searches for variations on my username and my platforms: people are lazy and stupid, but they deserve to be found and replied to
- Direct Messages (DM): email is apparently for people with the patience to locate email addresses on home pages
- search terms of projects I currently have running, am researching, or have pending or completed
- new followers
Why not just unfollow everyone that isn’t on my Enrich and Inform list? Because I like to give real people that want the ability to DM me that ability. Also? How the hell am I supposed to know if I want to follow someone or not if I don’t give them the chance? I notice them enough in my main feed, I move them to my filtered feeds and start building a relationship.
Or not. Whatever. It’s twitter.
Outraged that mom bloggers don’t get paid what we’re worth?
Get paid what you’re worth. Or don’t sweat the money.
But choose one.
The well-done PR pitches I receive and am interested in, either as-is are only loosely, are forwarded to my agent. Consider her a live-action media kit.
I tell her how I want to interpret the pitched campaign (which I usually introduce in my reply to the PR firm when I forward them to my agent) and she explains to the company what their marketing options are with my platforms. Read: “Megan doesn’t work for free but you’ll love her. She’s worth it. Here are some ideas and options.”
I’m trying to convince her to say “Do not look The Talent directly in the eye.” but she isn’t cooperating.
Think you’re not fancy enough to have an agent? She works on commission. Doesn’t cost me a dime until I convert the pitch into a completed, paid deal.
Those speaker bios I had to write this morning? One way or another, I made those speaking opportunities happen. For BlogHer, I pitched an idea. For Type-A Mom, I spoke last year and was requested by the attendees to speak again because I did a damn fine job. Yeah, I said it.
Make your own opportunities. Through relationships, direct requests, translating existing opportunities, whatever it takes. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
I do well at conferences because I speak with the conference’s audience, not at them. I speak with them as though we’re a small group in a small room. For weeks prior, I try to figure out what they would want to discuss that can’t be Googled. I ask what they’ll be muttering under their breath when they leave the session and I aim to eliminate anything resembling “waste of time.”
I confide in conference audiences. I admit to them that I struggle with balance and deal with jealousy of other bloggers, then I follow that with how I harness that energy and spin it into inspiration and innovation. I create mentors for myself every day. Without permission, because who needs it?
Look, I love and embrace excessive analysis as much as the best of them. I do. I fully reserve the right to re-embrace excessive analysis with no warning. But excessive analysis can contort into paralysis, particularly among new bloggers. So many rules and guidelines and suggestions and lists of ways to be successful!
It’s overwhelming. Worse, it can begin to seem as though circumstances are beyond your control.
“Bloggers don’t make money.”
“You have to be part of the right circles.”
“It’s just the way things are.”
Yes, they do. No, you don’t. Don’t give me that.
I don’t care how things are done. I don’t care what you’ve heard. I don’t care who you are or aren’t. I only care about what you are doing.
I used to think there was a ceiling on what I could accomplish in social media. Then I made a crack. I am doing. And by all accounts, I shouldn’t be able to be doing it.
I told you recently that Velveteen Mind receives an average of 250 hits a day.
I told you recently that Pepperidge Farm donated the equivalent of 70,000 meals via Feeding America as a direct result of partnering with my platforms.
Those two figures shouldn’t add up. And they wouldn’t, if I played within the stifling rules that we’ve set for ourselves, where numbers and only numbers equal value.
70,000 meals. People. Seriously. Stop and think about that. (And also go buy some bread and cookies, because damn.)
No, Pepperidge Farm didn’t come to me and say “Wow, we noticed you post maybe once every two weeks and are generally a trouble-maker with an attitude. We have a fully-formed project we’d like to throw at you.” It took work. It should take work.
Don’t tell me what can’t be done. Don’t tell me how it is. Don’t tell me about who is holding you back.
I carry a big stick. I’m swinging it in your direction. In social media dog-years, I’m an old lady. And this old lady has had enough of your crap, little missy. Either duck and run or gather your sticks and fight. I’ve had enough of your lip.
Exceedingly solid posts and comments that got me riled up
(I like these posts, so don’t read anything into “riled up” other than they spurred discussion.
I can’t actually remember the bad posts. Brains are nice that way.):
Most useful to me:UPDATED: B. I. N. G. Oh, I’ve made a terrible mistake.