Inspiring words from @skydiver

I had the chance to meet Peter Shankman (@skydiver) last month.  He’s probably best known for launching Help A Reporter Out (HARO) which connects journalists and sources. The West Michigan AMA hosted a talk/meet and greet at Hayworth, a furniture manufacturer in Holland. Hands down one of the best speakers I have EVER heard – funny, engaging and relevant. And because I let him pick on me for being a child, he gave me a free Poken. What a guy.

He had some great things to say, and I’ve summarized below the points that really stuck with me. (My comments are in parenthesis.)

– Social media is the ability to screw up to a much larger audience in a much shorter period of time. You hear about the screws ups, not the success stories.

(So many companies are scared of social media because they don’t want to lose control. But it’s just word-of-mouth marketing with a bigger audience. With social media, at least you can hear the problems and make it right.)

– You shouldn’t just be asking “What happens if it fails?” but also “What happens if it succeeds?” If you can’t handle a high volume, any success will turn to failure fast.

–  If you want to achieve greatness, set yourself apart. How many Honda Civics did you see today? You don’t remember – good car, but it looks like a lot of others. If you saw a Lamborghini, you’d remember. Because it’s different.

(Any business needs to stand apart from the competition. The bigger the pool, the more of a niche you need to fill. You can’t be everything to everybody – so find the somebody you want to serve.)

Four things to think about

1. Transparency. If you admit you did something wrong, customer loyalty will increase. Still try to fix it.

2. Relevance. How do you reach a fragmented audience? Ask them what they want! Sometimes it isn’t about the money you make but the money you save. A non-profit he gave to would mail all donors a 7 pound coffee table book. He lives in NYC and is single – the man has no coffee table. He called them up and said “Why didn’t you ask me? I could’ve saved you the money.” So they started asking. They’ve saved MILLIONS as a result.

3. Learn to write. The average attention span is 2.7 seconds, 140 characters – the length of a text or tweet. Embrace the concept – brevity – not the brand – Twitter.

4. Be top of mind. We talk to on average, 3% of our network. For the first time, information is flowing from the inside of our network out. Get people to do PR for you through good customer service and paying attention. He talked about a future – not too far from now – where the people we interact with most float to the top of our network – on whatever social media platform is “in.”

Final note: Thanks to the AMA and Hayworth  – this was an incredible event. The space at Hayworth is beautiful, and the President and CEO, Franco Bianchi, even took time out of his day to greet us.

Other coverage: Check out Dr4Ward’s Twitter round up of the event.

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