People are allergic to the word ‘Influencer’. Mutter it online and you’re bound to get a bunch of people telling you how much they hate the term.
But Influencers don’t have to be Kim Kardashian wannabes. Micro-Influencers are members of your communities who, if you get them enthused, will help you spread your message far and wide.
In this week’s Superhero interview Eamonn O’Brien discusses one such campaign. It’s fascinating.
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Superhero Tips – CPD for Small Business?
What do solicitors, accountants and dental nurses have in common?
CPD, which stands for Continuous Professional Development. They have to complete a certain number of training hours or CPD points each year.
Have you ever wish that applied to you as a small business owner? I have.
I was reminded how far I’d fallen behind when a fellow speaker at a conference I was at gave ‘learn something every day’ as one of her takeaways.
The guilt set in straight away. My schedule had got jammed up and somehow I’d forgotten to keep up with my learning.
What I love about learning is that it keeps my mind fresh and sparks new ideas. It makes me feel accomplished and it makes me better at my job.
Who wouldn’t want all fo that?
After hearing that speaker that day I was resolute. I was going to find time to learn.
And that’s the first thing you have to do. Make time for learning, actually schedule it into your week. I’ve set aside time at the beginning of the day 3 times a week to get educated and so far it’s working.
But how should you be learning? Here are a few ways, some of them short, some of them intense, all of them will give you that education buzz.
1. Consume online content
Sometimes we think that we have to buy a book or do a course to learn but we can gain a lot from reading online articles and blog posts.
Find your favourite blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels and make a pledge to consume at least 2 challenging pieces of content a week.
The nice thing about podcasts is that you can listen while you are doing other things but don’t be put off by online articles. They can take just 10 minutes to consume but will ignite a spark that will burn all day.
2. Read books
To dive deeper on a topic, pick up a book. I have a stack of them in my office that I’m slowly making my way through. I try and read at least one business book a month. There’s plenty of online book clubs you can join if you need inspiration.
3. Take an online course
This is harder than you think. If you do sign up for an online course make a plan for when you will fit it into your schedule. I run online courses and I’m constantly surprised by the low completion rates.
I’ve also failed at completing online courses, even when I’ve had a burning enthusiasm to do them. The secret is the same as the rest. Bake time into your schedule for these courses.
I’m currently studying for Facebook ads certification using this method and it’s working. I’m going to complete this one for sure.
4. Listen to your customers
Last week I was teaching a video workshop. One of the editing tools I teach is CuteCut (more on that below). The delegates got busy editing their projects but each one had a different issue arise. It was only by seeing the way they used the tool that I was able to find the ways that it could be used more effectively. We worked it out together.
I always find I learn the most when I’m working with clients or teaching. In the office, I tend to get so bogged down in what I’m doing and I don’t see the problems people have with their marketing.
I also don’t see all the tricks and skills that clients already have. Listening to my customers and teasing out the solutions to their problems always means that I come away educated, even when I’m the trainer.
5. Join a training membership
This is hardcore but so worthwhile if you get it right. I’m a member of 3 training membership groups:
- Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Society
- Andrew & Pete’s Atomic
- Samantha Kelly’s Women Inspire Network
Each of these offers weekly or bi-monthly webinars and training. It’s a lot to keep up with but even when I can’t attend on schedule there is always an archive of resources I can tap into at any time.
To be honest, 3 memberships is maybe too many. Start with one and see how you get on.
So that’s it. You can create your own CPD programme. If you are really enthusiastic assign points to each one of these and set yourself a target for the year.
Superpower of the week – Cute Cut
Editing on a phone is a pain. And editing tools tend to have their issues. What if you want to edit vertical video? What if you want to make your horizontal video square? What if you want to do a voiceover? Add a cutaway?
What if you have an Android phone and can’t use the most popular tools?
Cute Cut is probably the simplest and most feature-rich mobile editing tool I’ve used. You can have multiple tracks for audio and video. You can mix photos and video and you can create in either vertical, horizontal or square format.
It’s simple to use but it’s almost as good as a desktop too. Even better, it works for iOS and Android.
Superhero Interview – Eamonn O’Brien
Eamonn O’Brien is one of Europe’s leading authorities on business storytelling and the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club – where he helps leaders to conquer their fears of speaking and to speak memorably.
He’s also a recent President of Professional Speaking Association Ireland, the author of the book ‘How to Make Powerful Speeches’ (now required reading in many US law schools), an award winning blogger, and the host of The Corporate Storytellers’ Club podcast – The business storytelling podcast for leaders and experts who’d like to tell stories like a boss'The key thing is that you're building the personal face-to-face on top of and together with what you're doing on a social media. You need that personal connection too.' Click To Tweet
Although Eamonn is a superhero, today we’re going to talk about his superhero wife. Tell me about Mindy, Eamonn.
Yes, well in fact, in my household, and actually in my neighbourhood, I’m known as Mindy’s husband because she gets so much visibility for some amazing things that she’s been doing in recent years. My wife, Mindy O’Brien, she’s involved with VOICE Ireland, which is an environmental group, and they have been focusing on trying to reduce the amount of plastic and reduce the amount of stuff that we don’t recycle or reuse. The program that I’m going to talk about it something called the Recycling Ambassador program.
Okay, and that’s interesting. You’re telling me people in Ireland aren’t recycling. Is that the problem?
Well, we were, we thought, quite good, but the truth is that we were way behind where we should be. It’s interesting because it’s not that there wasn’t government support for getting people more excited about this because there was a government program to try and reduce some years ago, the mass confusion on what you can recycle.
The problem was that not only was this happened where people didn’t really know what you could or couldn’t do, that China decided, “We’re not taking more recycling,” and then we needed to do a lot more at home. You couldn’t ship it away.
The problem was that any recycling we were doing that the contamination level was really high. It was over 30%.
What does that mean? The contamination?
Well, it means that stuff was put in the wrong place, it was not in a usable state from a recycling perspective, which means that you can’t use it at all. What they just did is said, “Well, right, we’re going to put some money behind educating people. We’ll do national advertising, we’ll do PR,” but the problem with that is that it’s all very top level and it wasn’t very personal.
Mindy got in touch with them and said, “Look, how about we do a pilot where we maybe do 80 or 100 workshops and you can get some local reaction to this and you can get things down to a more personal level.” He said, “Great, but don’t do a pilot.” He said, “Just go national.”
They basically went straight into, this is a great idea, we’d love to get this out more into a face-to-face type of thing out in the community.
This is a challenge, I’m thinking, because how do you get someone excited enough to go to a workshop on recycling?
Because what they did is they leveraged things that were already out there. What they did is they got involved with community groups, with festivals, with businesses that had lunch and learns. They set themselves up with a goal of going national. Basically running events in every single county in Ireland. Initially, they were looking to do maybe 650, and I know they did over 700 of these things.
Wow.'If you can actually find a way to leverage existing communities and build on that and say, 'Here's something that's really interesting,' you can get a great reaction.'Click To Tweet
Instead of getting to say, ten or 15 thousand people, they got to well in excess of 25 thousand. If you can actually find a way to leverage existing communities and build on that and say, “Here’s something that’s really interesting,” you can get a great reaction.
Just for our American listeners, let’s just put that 25 thousand into perspective. That’s huge for Ireland. What’s the population? It’s around four million?
Four and a half million, yeah.
Four and a half million. That is a significant size of people that you’re actually going to get to reach. I’m sure in the States that would seem really small, but for us that’s massive, right?
That’s only part A, actually, Amanda.
It wasn’t just 25 thousand, there was an extended reach. Here’s a good for instance. There’s a group called Blakestown, a community group, and they were very excited. There’s a woman there called Maria I think it is. She was so excited about how invigorated people were, and how this was about creating greater pride and community.
Let’s say there were over 100 people that turned up at the event that they created. What’s interesting was that so many people from that they took initiatives on their own.
Like the two kids who went to their local school and then they presented in front of every single class. They had people in business groups who thought this is great, so it’s a group called the Expediters Group. They did staff education, they did separating of waste, they did lots of things. But they didn’t just talk about it, they actually did stuff. They got rid of the disposable cups they put in, these keep cups things?
They put in drinking water so that people didn’t have to have plastic bottles. The upshot was that almost within a turnaround period, and I don’t know how quick this was, they won the Fingal Cleaner Community overall prize, all on the back of viral marketing.
That’s fantastic. Now, before I interrupted you-you were about to tell me how they got the word out about the campaign.
Yeah. The key thing was to first of all to identify the right kinds of people who are already involved in the community. Obviously, there’s an awful lot of research and Googling and one person leading to the other through LinkedIn networks, through other types of, Facebook groups in particular. How do you find people who are doing things that are interesting?
The second thing they did was that they purposely put money into Google ads and into Facebook ads, and used Facebook in particular for setting up events.
They tapped into the local, as I said, the local community groups. The local let’s make our community clean groups. The local politicians. A lot of this was really about, it’s a bit like politics, I suppose, which is things don’t work at a national level, they work at a local level.
That’s exactly what they did. It was about getting local and creating ripples at a local level, rather than trying to create waves on a national level.
It was the social media groups, the Facebook groups … sorry, the social media ads and the Google ads were helping them reach those grassroots people. Was that the plan?
That’s exactly right. But always, always building on things that people were already doing. By and large, you were tying it into when people were having other events so that you added extra value to the event.
You know, that’s a clever strategy, because I’m thinking here in Athy we’ve got Facebook groups for various different things. We’ve got old photos of Athy group and we’ve got a community watch of Athy group. There’s a lot of them. Even though I’m not an active member of the community, I like to know what’s going on locally. I will join all of those groups, I will follow my local politicians. I could even tell you, if you came to me as an outsider in the community, as a blow-in, I could tell you exactly who to talk to in the town if you wanted to get something up and running. I’m guessing that’s a really clever strategy because if I know that-
It is. Yeah. Yeah.
People who are more involved in the community know that too.'What happens is that you instantly become more trusted because you are connected to people who are already connected to that community.' Click To Tweet
Yeah. It is because what happens is that you instantly become more trusted because you are connected to people who are already connected to that community.
Okay. They ran 750 workshops, did you say? Or 650?
Well in excess … It probably was, it was 750. They went and listened to every single county in the country. The upshot was that not only did they get a huge level of buzz and there’re still people who are now coming back to say, “Could we do more? Could we do more? Could we do more?” It lit the fire if you like. But the upshot is that there are now other groups who are saying, “Actually, can we get involved in the campaign, too?” Nothing breeds success like success.
That’s amazing. It’s had kind of a ripple effect. Is that what you’d call it? A ripple effect.
Yeah. That’s exactly what happened. It’s had a ripple effect, and it’s like all of these things, once you get a strong foundation in place and then you get political support behind that, of course, because they’re delighted to see there’s a bit of a wave going here instead of, “Better get on that bus,” so one thing begets the other.
I think there’s something here that any business can learn from because we wouldn’t all have government support. Actually, if we think about what we’re doing in our business, one of the things that we should be doing is looking for the key influencers.
I always think that the word influencer gets misused. People hate it. I don’t hate it, because that’s exactly what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for Kim Kardashian. We could be looking for the local person in a town, or we could be looking for that mother at the school gate, the one that does all the organizing. Or we could be looking at the person who is at every theatre opening in Dublin, just because they love being there, and connecting with those people.
You are buying into the trust of those people. We don’t need to have a big budget, I think, to do that. You need to do your online research because obviously, they need to have something going on online, but I think any business could tap into that strategy. I think it’s a really good one for us to look at.
Yeah, I think it’s marvellous. I know you and I talk a lot about our pal Mark Schafer over in America who’s written so many marvellous books, but he talks a lot about this, and that is the notion of reaching out to micro-influencers.
That’s exactly it. Micro-influencers. I was going to name a woman in town, and then I felt like I shouldn’t because of GDPR. But I could name four or five people that are behind everything that happens in my town.
They’re involved in everything. Obviously, if you wanted to come to Athy to run a campaign of some sort, you couldn’t just turn up and shake hands with those people and go, “Hey, I’m here to do this, and I want to sell you something.”
What you could do is get into the conversations that they’re having online and get to know them there before you go in with the, “I want to do this in Athy, what do you think?”
Yeah, it’s 100% that, but the key thing on the top of this is that you’re then building the personal face-to-face on top of and together with what you’re doing on a social side of things. You’re not just trying to do social viral communication. That on its own is not enough. You need that personal connection too.
Yeah. The ripple effect is something else, I think, that businesses can learn from. Very often it can seem a very lonely activity, but if you manage to get people … Facebook groups are great, even if you’re setting up your own. If you can get people invested in what you’re doing and excited, that’s what you were saying, people were getting excited about what they were doing. They want to tell other people about it.
I think one of the things I’m banging on about a lot in 2019 is engagement strategy. People just put content out there without trying to build relationships as well. I think that’s if you can get people excited about being part of what you’re doing, you’re going to get a ripple effect as Mindy did.
Yeah, that’s it. It was a great, great, great campaign, and it’s going from strength to strength. It really is down to the mindset of building through small interactions and encouragement and then letting people, if you like, act as your influencers for you. The ambassador begets ambassador type thinking is really what made that work.
I don’t want you to go without you telling us a little bit about you. Tell me about what you do and how you got there.
Yeah. I have a company called The Reluctant Speakers Club, and I work with business leaders to help them to get past anxieties and worries about speaking in public, but more importantly, to say things that are really interesting, really influential, and that people remember.
The answer to your question about how did I get there, well, I became a professional speaker by mistake 25 years ago. And just covered, actually, from a point of somebody who never wanted to speak in public that a lot of that can be so much easier if only you can really identify stories that ignite and inspire people.
My focus today as a speaker and I’m a professional speaker who speaks around the world on this, is on storytelling to create a human connection to create greater meaning to create greater impact. It’s also a lot more fun, whether you’re on a stage or you’re doing something like this online.
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