Tag Archives: followers

Don’t Let the Likes Fool You

We live in an age where social media is prevalent. It’s not going away no more than the Internet it lives on is, and everyday it becomes larger than the previous day. Social media is truly embedded into our culture and how we communicate with each other. That can be both good and bad. It can be good because social media allows us to communicate with people that we may normally have not had access to because of distance and language barriers. There are also many other benefits to social media; such as the ability for businesses to reach a global consumer base and relatives to stay in contact from miles away.

Unfortunately, one of the down sides to social media is the impact it has on individuals and their self-esteem. A lot of people, adults included, use social media to validate their self-worth in society. Many people only have interaction with others by way of their social media accounts and the strive on a daily basis to make other people “like” them. What they fail to realize is that some of those people liking their content, whether it is photos, memes or statuses, don’t really know or like them as a person and would not ever support their endeavors in the real world where it matters.

For instance, being a radio show host I offer independent artists the opportunity to have their music played on my show. I did this because I was constantly receiving messages with links to YouTube videos from artists asking me to watch, like and share their videos. However, many of those artists weren’t generating revenue from their video content on YouTube. So what’s the point in me liking your art when my ‘like’ is not helping you to make money from your art? To me it was a waste of time. So I offered artists another, more traditional method, by which they could be heard, not just liked. A many of them have stated that they have seen an increase in the number of PAID downloads of their music as a result.

Artists and musicians aren’t the only people impacted. Aspiring models, actors and others are in the same boat. People love the way they look on Instagram and like their pictures on Facebook, but that doesn’t help if those same people aren’t going to see the actors in plays, movies or aren’t watching their television shows, and…. well…. everyone wants to be an Instagram model nowadays, so you can imagine how stiff that competition is. Getting a lot of likes on Instagram doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be booked for the next Dolce & Gabbana, or Macy’s campaign anymore than for the local county fair at this point.

Part of the issue is the façade that big brands portray to consumers as well. When big brands seek partnerships or endorsements, outside of professional athletes and well-known celebrities, they often seek individuals in large part due to the quantity of their social media following more than the quality of their followers, the person’s power to influence those that follow them or their own loyalty to the big brand as a consumer.  This makes everyday social media users and those with dreams of success and stardom believe that they only way to be successful is to have a huge following on social media.

What’s the use if your followers can’t be converted into consumers?

For instance, reality show stars are now being cast in movie roles that actors/actresses fight and train for, simply because they have a larger social media following, but they don’t actually do anything. The movie studios do this because they hope that the reality show star will give them free advertising for their movie. True enough, the advertising is free, but what movie studios fail to realize is that everyone that follows that reality show star on social media isn’t really a loyal fan who would buy a ticket to see them star in a movie.

Being in media has afforded me the opportunity to hear what everyday people honestly think about others. I don’t know what it is but me, but people love to talk to and confide in me. I hear it all the time “I just follow them because I think they are funny/I want to see what people are saying about them; but I’d never spend my money going to see them perform/sing/dance, etc.” And that’s the hard truth that a lot of people don’t know when they have dreams and goals of Instafame.

Consider the newest social media darlings, The Westbrooks. They are being called the black version of the Kardashians. I wouldn’t consider that a compliment personally, but maybe they do. They have millions of combined followers on Instagram and a reality show on a popular cable network. On the show, we get to witness the sisters attempt to do what their father (a successful businessman), suggests they do; monetize their social media following. We also get to see their friends either support their attempts (backyard pool parties) or try to use them for their own attempts at gaining clientele (club openings). Which is probably where the Kardashian comparison comes into play. It seems that the “power” their wield over their social media minions could be used more productively than to endorse hair extensions and pop bottles in nightclubs. They all seem to be intelligent young women, with guidance from their hardworking parents, who didn’t always have it easy, so they understand building success in a more traditional way to acquire longevity.

So why shouldn’t The Westbrooks be able to do something bigger and more impactful with their branding than what everyone else on Instagram is doing?

Time will only tell when it comes to how far things will go for The Westbrooks. They’ll either make change, make waves or be replaced by the next hot group of pretty sisters on the internet. In the meantime, I hope that they serve as a lesson on how fleeting and intrusive Instafame without strategic preparation can be. I also hope that at some point we move away from the façade of what makes people successful and show examples of more men and women using their influence on social media for more than monetization. Those people exist. They may not have millions of followers, but they have quality followers, who are positively impacted by them, myself included. Big brands aren’t paying attention to those types of social media influencers….yet. But that is something that I also hope will change so that being attractive isn’t the only talent left for people to have in order to become successful.
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Google, We Have A Problem

There seems to be a tragic misunderstanding of what makes a person or entity relevant on the internet. If you are an artist, a business owner, a musician or a magazine publisher there’s the expectation that you should be found one specific place on the internet so that you can be booked, called or contacted. That place is not Twitter or Facebook. It’s so simple, even a two-year old could do it. It’s called Google. Yes, Google. Twitter and Facebook require that a person sign up and create an account to obtain your information. Everyone doesn’t want to become a follower or a friend in order for them to locate your store, buy your album, magazine or services. Do you realize how much you are limiting yourself, simply by NOT having a website? If you aren’t sure, think about the last time you got a call from someone who said “I saw you on Twitter today, and I wanted to know if I can buy ___.” If that’s happening to you regularly just from your tweets, then by all means, carry on. But if you’re not getting that call, you’re not as relevant as you think you are, even if you’ve hit record numbers of followers.

It doesn’t matter how many fans you have. Some of your fans aren’t as active on Twitter or Facebook as you think they are. They may actually only view your timeline or news feed once a month because that’s how often they sign on to look at their own Twitter and Facebook accounts {Side note: some of your fans are also stalkers or looky-lous and they won’t result in any profits}. Even with the increased use in smart phones, social networking is still limiting the way in which people can locate you. A fan is one thing, a consumer is something completely different. When you’re in business, which one is more important to you? A fan who becomes a consumer will buy more than your mp3 from iTunes. 

I recently pulled out some business cards people gave me and Googled all of the companies. I was utterly amazed at how many business entities, artists, singers and creatives I couldn’t find on the internet outside of Facebook and Twitter. Do all these companies and individuals want to be a secret? Do they want to make money? Do they want people to know their tour dates, office hours, and any other important information that consumers look for? You can’t even find a phone number for them to call and ask them “What is your website?” I’m going to share a business secret with you now. Smart consumers like to do a little research before they get into their cars and drive somewhere. If you operate a business, consumers may actually look for your business address online before venturing out to buy your products. However, if you don’t have a website, you prevent that from happening. And every business doesn’t have a store or static business location. Therefore, if your business is done in a nontraditional office or storefront location, being accessible online becomes even more crucial to your success.

Recently someone on Twitter sent me a link saying “how to become #1 on Google“. I replied and told them (not bragging) that I’m already #1 on Google. How do I know? I learned how to accomplish that a couple of years ago at a technology conference I attended. Unfortunately, I was one of five people of color in attendance at the conference and we were all women. I periodically Google myself [typing s u p e r w o m a n p r o d u c t i o n s]. I type it different ways and even misspell it intentionally sometimes, just to see what others might find if they do the same. My website is the first result, is listed on the first seven pages of Google results consistently and then I remain in the results up until around page thirteen. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to prove me wrong. I’ve even been re-blogged and reposted in other languages. I’m in business directories that I didn’t even know I was in. I had to tell the editor of one business directory to change their listing because they incorrectly listed my business at an address in Troy, Michigan instead of Detroit.  

I don’t know how people do it. By it I mean not exist on the internet outside of social networking sites. It’s a lot easier to co-exist within the confines of social networking than it is to be completely reliant upon it. Does anyone remember MySpace? One minute it was the hottest thing in existence. Now anyone who’s still using it exclusively needs to be put into a time machine and brought into 2012 at the speed of light. The changes that Facebook is constantly making are an attempt to remain on top of the social networking pyramid because it’s hard to be king. They are not making the changes for you. Twitter is… well, #trending, for lack of a better word. It’s fun, but you’re still limited to providing information in 140 or less characters. It can be argued that smart people can say a lot in 140 characters, but it can also be said that not being able to spell out words makes even the smartest person look stupid on Twitter.

So as an entrepreneur, I encourage anyone who calls themselves the same or sells a product or service to increase your audience outside of the constraints of social networking sites and establish a website for yourself, your products and business. If you feel like the financial investment isn’t truly worth the costs associated with establishing a real web presence, you are not serious about being in business. All serious business owners know that it takes money (time, energy and committment) to make money. And if you need help, I have a great website designer that I can refer you to. He helps keep me #1 on Google.

Public Appearances

This weekend I visited a local mall for the first time in my life. I’ve been a West-Sider all of my life until I moved downtown. Being territorial, as many people are, we don’t often go too far from home to do things like “shop”. And when we do, it’s often because we know of a mall or stores that have really great deals, like Great Lakes Crossing; which for many years was the “day trip” for me and my son at least twice a year. Once for school clothes and once for Christmas Shopping. So in almost 37 years of living I had never stepped foot into this one particular mall. So I had absolutely no idea what I was in for when I arrived at Eastland Mall.

Eastland Mall has all the major stores I have grown to love of the years. They even had some stores I had never heard of before. But it wasn’t the shopping that got my attention. It wasn’t the sales, it wasn’t the customer service, it wasn’t anything that you would immediately think a fabulous female with a shoe fetish would notice. What I noticed most was the people…and their horrible public appearances. There were many young women who had decided to leave the house with head scarves on, and what appeared to be the same clothes they had worn to bed. There were several young men that literally had their pants sagging so low their underwear was fully exposed, with house shoes on. One young man literally was wearing his pajamas. I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. I have a witness if you need one.

I was actually shocked. I had never see so many people in one place at one time look such a hot mess. It’s almost as if it were the newest trend captured in one central location. As I looked down at my own sundress and comfortable sandals, I began to wonder if I had missed the memo. Did someone forget to tell me that looking like I had just gotten out of bed was the new style? The only time I’ve ever worn a head scarf in public was after getting my hair done to keep it nice for later that day or evening. And even then, it’s not the scarf I wore to bed. Usually I cover that scarf with a fabulous, fashionable one, add a pair of sunglasses, earrings and put on a cute outfit. Everything coordinates and everyone who sees me doesn’t think I’m a lazy slob of a woman. 

When it comes to the way young men wear their underwear exposed, I blame Lil Wayne. I’m kidding. He’s not at fault. Everyone has a mind of their own whether they choose to use it or not. There are a lot of young men that will not wear their pants around their thighs or knees regardless of what’s fashionable. There were in fact a handful of young men at the mall that didn’t have their pants “sagging”. However, one of them was in desperate need of a re-braid to his cornrows. But I could overlook that a lot easier than if I was walking behind him and could see the imprint of his butt crack. I know, I know – I don’t have to look. But in this case, this is being forced in my face against my will because it is so prevalent that it’s completely unavoidable. It’s kind of like a pigeon flying into your closed window and dying. It’s not your fault the pigeon did it, but you’re stuck with the clean up anyway.

What I’d like to see happen is that parents and schools start making more of a demand that our young people dress more appropriately at a younger age regardless of where they are. If we give them an alternative from following “the crowd” or “the trend” and encourage them to be more individual while remaining appropriate, we’d see more “trendsetters” instead of followers. We’d see more leaders, we’d see more scholars, we’d see more young people prepared to go into any environment and make a more presentable public appearance. Young women need to have improved self esteem. They need to be made aware that wearing your bed clothes and head scarves in public is not cute. My grandmother always told me to look my best when I leave the house because I never know who I might meet. I’ve lived by that my entire life and I’ve met some very influential people who wouldn’t have spoken a single word to me if I had been wearing my pajamas. Some of these same young men and women may have spent a lot of money on their clothes and shoes. However, it’s not about how much your clothes cost or the designer label inside them. It’s more about if you wear those clothes well, or not. Can you go from the boardroom to the after work networking event? Or are you always dressed to go to the nightclub? Are your only “good clothes” worn to church on Sundays? Or can you dress up with a few minutes notice so you can shake the hand of the President?

I commend young people who know how to wear their clothes so that they can be taken seriously and not viewed as thugs all the time. I’m also glad that some colleges and universities have a dress code, including many HBCUs. The dress code implemented by colleges and universities often isn’t strict. Instead they clearly prohibit wearing pajamas, house shoes, head scarves and pants sagging, including during campus visits prior to enrollment. The truth is a dress code wouldn’t be necessary on college campuses if we as a society gave our children guidance and taught them that they aren’t extras in someone else’s rap video or a sharecropper’s wife when they leave the house. A dress code wouldn’t be necessary if we taught our children that the only time wearing your pajamas in public is acceptable is if your house was on fire when you awoke that morning.

Eventually, as parents, we hope our children will transition into the workplace. If they continue to maintain the public appearances they currently have, many will not ever surpass the first interview. It may have just been a mall on a Saturday afternoon, but those same young people left that mall and went somewhere else, or came from somewhere else to that mall. For many of them, that is how they dress the majority of the time. They believe it to be common practice because they don’t know better. They believe that they are representative of society as a whole because they don’t know better. They believe they will be able to transition into collegiate life and the workforce without any problems because they don’t know better.

Of course there are some young people that will argue they don’t need to be concerned about how they dress because they have plans of becoming a professional athlete. Reality check: the NBA has a dress code. So does the NFL. Therefore, attire and how it is worn isn’t just a concern in corporate America or on college campuses anymore. So I can’t be completely wrong when I say that young men and women need to present a much better public appearance than they currently do.  

When you know better, you do better.

Haters, Haters, Everywhere Haters

I recently read Amy DuBois Barnett’s (Editor-in-Chief of Ebony Magazine) Editor’s Letter in the July 2011 issue. For the ladies, it’s the one with Tyrese Gibson on the cover; or for the men, it’s the one with Taraji P. Henson on the cover – both of whom are perfectly clad in white attire, looking fabulous. Yes, I said Taraji P. Henson looks fabulous. In Amy’s article, which she aptly titled “I Hate Haters“, she recounted an unpleasant encounter she had with a female associate of hers who overly scrutinized and criticized the beautiful women in attendance at an upscale event she attended. This immediately made me think of a slogan I have, which I will not include in this blog because I haven’t copyrighted it yet. Amy said the following “The thing is, the more negativity you spew, the worse you look. Not only is meanness an unattractive and unsexy trait, but it’s an obvious sign of insecurity. If you feel good about yourself, there’s just no need to tear anyone else down.” That is VERY true. Every word of it.

I don’t have any friends like the woman who Amy referred to in her article, but I have encountered many women like that. In the workplace, at the store, at the gas station, at the hair salon, on vacation… HATERS are everywhere. You can’t avoid them no matter what you do. That’s the reality of their existence –  they are unavoidable.  However, unlike Amy, I love haters. This is why. If someone isn’t hating on me, I’m doing something wrong, and I’m pleasing too many people the wrong way. No one can please everyone all of the time. It’s impossible. If everyone you meet loves you, you might need to closely evaluate why. It may be all love in your face, and backstabbing when you aren’t looking.

The job of a hater is to hate. That’s the first thing you should always remember. They are the people who often don’t have anything else to do. The second thing to remember is that haters are unhappy with themselves. The only joy they can experience is the brief moment it takes to attempt to tear someone else down. Thirdly, they are usually cowards. They talk a lot, but rarely say what they have to say directly to the person that they are hating on. Lastly, they are fickle, superficial and materialistic. Haters often try to make themselves feel better by acquiringmaterial possessions to stay on or ahead of the lastest trend. This is their feable attempt to replace their nonexistent self esteem. Then they hate on others who don’t have the same lavish and decadent accoutrements that they falsely believe makes a person. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion. There is nothing wrong with being fashionable or with setting trends. How a person spends their money is completely up to them.  However, haters are not trendsetters, fashion icons or leaders, in any other sense of the word. They are followers, copycats and imitators, because that is what they believe it takes for them to be noticed by others and feel superior to others.

I imagine that it must be a very sad existence. One where your entire self worth is based on how much you can try to make someone else seem less fabulous than what they really are. But it’s a haters job and someone has to do it. The next time someone hates on you, [You already know when those time are. You look fabulous, flawless, dressed emaculately, exhibiting intelligence, talent and know-how.] smile at the hater. I’m serious. Smile directly at them. If you’re having a drink, raise your glass to them. Then remind yourself of this – haters reaffirm your greatness.