On November 13, 2009, Mashable named Six Pixels of Separation one of the Five Must Read Social Media Books. I am always a little weary of “must reads” because I feel a sells pitch in there somewhere, but more than a year later I find myself giving Six Pixels of Separation two thumbs up and Mashable gaining heightened credibility. In fact, enough to where I want to purchase the other four must reads on their list.
In Six Pixels of Separation, Mitch Joel covered many topics that may not be useful to an avid social media or marketing expert, but supremely helpful to those who need a crash course on how to develop their virtual presence through content. Many tips, stories, and anecdotes can be appropriately related to the environmental design sectors of architecture, engineers, environmental non-profits, landscape architecture, and urban planners. Here are a few from Joel’s book that you should implement now. Get a move on it … I took far too long to read this book and provide this review.
1. Google yourself and your firm
You should open a new window, and search for your name. See what comes up. And if you have been searching or googling your name since 2000, good for you! Do it for your company too. The search engines have enormous power and a long memory. If you posted to a forum five years ago, the post is likely to still be there … This creates two things for your future. One, be cautious of what you write and participate in from this moment on (Perhaps you will want to try to clean up your online past too?). And two, know that others are searching you right now and may be using the information they find to make judgments and decisions regarding you and your business. I personally google a lot … and I know that in the past my employers have googled me too.
“How you are positioned, how people see you, and how you speak back to them are going to be the global validation for your growth. In a world where we’re all connected, one opinion quickly turns into everyone’s opinion. How you build trust in your brand, your business, and yourself is going to be an important part of how your business is going to adapt and evolve” (21).
2. Get permission and provide content
Request permission when you want to connect with people and companies. Provide permission-based avenues for social media, including email campaigns and when requesting connections. And once a client or potential client has opened the door never bombard them with noise, this will only make you invisible. Instead, provide your permission-based network valuable content in the form of text, audio, video, and images that will have people wanting to connect with you rather than deleting you. Providing value to your connections is a great way to form relationships.
“Making your blog about your consumers is the easiest way to build community and trust” (157).
3. Build trust
Joel speaks a lot about building trust in the digital world, a feat that is neither easy, nor fast. He classifies two ways to gain trust through your networks. First, be helpful and secondly, be sincere. In other words, although there is a screen mediating your conversation, be real, you are a person after all. And if the intent behind everything you do is a sell, then you will fail because everyone will be reading right through it. Instead, help others for the sake of helping them, rather than assuming reciprocity. Everyone, I mean everyone, sees that! Joel quotes Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” So true.
“Use your space to really find what people love (or hate) about your industry or one of your new business ideas” (175).
4. Create more content
I mentioned content once already, but Joel touches on content so much that it becomes a central theme to the book. He advocates that great content is great word of mouth. Wondering how to create content? Joel recommends blogging either by starting your own blog or by joining others. “Know the popular blogs in your field, follow them, comment on them, add value, and push those conversations forward” (157). So, for environmental designers, like you, this means a little research and/or prep-work if you’re looking to start blogging. Find out where everyone else is going and join their conversations. I have found LinkedIn groups to be an invaluable resource for discussions and there are several blogs that I frequent. However, there are so many blogs and discussions going on that it may be hard to choose. If you have one that you particularly love, be an advocate and share it with everyone in the comment section below. Remember to choose the blogs that fit your niche and follow them. Pay attention to the dialogue and then when you are ready, join. Jump right in – everyone is waiting to hear what you have to say.
If you want to learn how to build community then you need to pick up Joel’s book, pronto. There are a few lists that you will find extremely useful within his text; such as six ways to build trust, your personal brand questionnaire, how to build your niche, and myths and tips regarding content weaved throughout. You will find the price-tag fair (save a tree and buy it used, if you can) and well worth the time you spend delving into it.
Have a reading list suggestion? I would love to hear it, please leave a comment with your suggestion. Happy reading!!