I’m gonna pop some #hashtags.

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I am currently peering through that tiny window in time when your kid thinks you’re cool. Or… “boss”.  So it’s all about poppin’ tags and iTunes playlists around here. Soon enough my kid will also become my Facebook Friend and Twitter Follower. And so I’ve been thinking a bit about the integrity [and lack thereof] in social media as an adolescent pastime and how I can serve my child by educating him and others.

Working in digital media affords me advantages in that I understand the tools being used and where the risks and rewards can be found.  I realize my 10 year old understands more than I give him credit for. I both love and loathe his keen interest in technology. He loves Jimmy Fallon [who doesn’t] and we stumbled across the ever popular #hashtag video.  After, I asked if he knows what a hashtag is.  He replied, “It’s used to explain more about something.”  This seems to be the  common understanding as I see many people [guilty] using hashtags merely to accessorize their status update: #selfie #summerfun #yolo #thingstoddlersdo

Then I asked my savvy but social media-agnostic  husband about the hashtag. He replied, “It’s a # symbol used to denote topics to create streams of traffic as a reference point and people can have big parties with and around their beloved hashtags.”

That’ll do. Actually, it can be a massive engagement tool. Hashtags can be used to generate new content and topics of discussion either out of sheer boredom: #LiesIveToldMyParents, as a practical way to follow trending discussion around an event: #Olympics2014 or #RoyalBaby, and as a brand strategy. Check out these Shorty Awards.

I  know it can be awkward to understand and sometimes explain. I am the kind of learner who learns best when doing. So I really understood the power in the hashtag after I hosted a Twitter party for Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant and created a social campaign to nurture mid-season visitors around the topic of summer fun and the hashtag #JENKSLOVE.

We designed and promoted the event, and gathered key influencers for their experience. We used an incredible tool called Hashtracking to harvest all the real-time data during the Twitter party, transcript the Twitter stream and archive a full report for my clients including top influencers, most tweets, the full reach and more. For enterprise level organizations, this also is a fantastic way to measure the success of social campaigns.  Here’s that fabulous report.  

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For the casual user, hashtags can be a fun way to amplify thoughts. For the social media consultant to the brand ambassador, hashtags should be used more strategically to organize and promote mass and meaningful conversation around a topic, product or organization and that activity should always be tracked in order to measure success.

Happy hash-tagging.

Oh.. and if you feel like dancing.

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Five ways to be remembered by your customers.

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1. Be Fun.

I placed this in #1 position for a reason.  This assumes you have #2 in your pocket, otherwise you may refer to this as “Be Foolish” instead. While I do love a little foolish*ness [see Shenanigans, Tomfoolery, Buffoonery, Reindeer Games], your professional life is no place for it. But enjoying what you do and showing it, is a cornerstone to your success.  I recently participated in a workshop about the importance of play in the development of self-esteem. We learn this from day one and I can say it’s served me well. If you’re not fulfilled in the daily dose of what you do, it WILL spill over into the results of your work. But, if you’re enjoying it, those who matter will remember.

Oh and P.S. – I’m really looking forward to this upcoming TEDxNavesink event centered around the spirit of play.

2. Do Good Work.

What more is there to say about this. You get it, I’m sure. Resting on one’s laurels has definite repercussions.

3. Do Social Good.

Help Thy Neighbor… as they say. While this may seem like it has nothing to do with the business you’re in, it’s what fundamentally makes us human.  I think people like people who are human, accessible, understanding and serving a greater purpose. Don’t you?

4. Solve a Problem.

Identify a fundamental problem. Solve it. But don’t leave the problem there so they have to call you back again. That’s a classic business faux pas that pushes people away instead of keeping them connected to you. Leave your customers with tools to help themselves and you’ll surely be remembered as the business who solved a problem. Likely, there will be more problems to help solve.

5. Stay Informed.

Back  your business with serious skills and you’ll become the go-to, expert, know-it-all, super-hero everyone needs in their life.

Why it’s important to listen to what’s not being said.

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Good listening is about understanding, not responding.  Think about the last conversation you had with someone.  When they were speaking, were you fully comprehending the words and their purpose? Or were you busy crafting a reply based your personal intention for the discussion? When you interrupted to ask a question, were you looking for the answer or side-tracking for your own gain?

All too often, conversations are only one-way and the result does not lead to a solution or ideally, a relationship. [Short term gain, long term loss.]

I love this lesson in listening from Forbes, because it underscores the importance of non-verbal signs during a discussion. Most of what is being said is never even spoken. Listen to the body language. Is there eye contact? Signs of enthusiasm or boredom? Is your partner facing you directly or turning away? Relaxed or stiff?

What can you do to make the discussion more effective? Take time to consider the bigger gain when you work to build better communication with your customers, colleagues, family and friends.  Effective listening matters because it fosters trust and increases the chance that conflicts, when they come about, can be resolved positively for all parties.