Erik Deckers Interviewed on The Business of Story Podcast

I think I could just build a media career by appearing on every Jay Baer podcast he and his company produces.

Earlier this week, my interview on The Business Of Story was released — my third interview on Jay Baer’s third podcast. (You can hear my interview, “Top Tips from a Humor Columnist on How to Tell Better Brand Stories” here.)

Erik Deckers Teaser for The Business of Story podcastPark Howell, a content marketing and storytelling professional, interviews different writers and storytellers, talking about to use proper storytelling in the business world. He’s interviewed screenwriters, film makers, editors, directors, makeup artists, and voice over actors (including Dick Orkin, the creator of Chicken Man, which I used to love!)

We had a chance to talk about humor writing, and how it can be used in the business world. Some of the topics we discussed include:

  • Why infusing your writing with humor will improve it dramatically
  • How to break down comedic theory to make it accessible and useable
  • Why you can absolutely can learn to be funny
  • How stories are more approachable and more memorable with comedy
  • Why some are hesitant to use humor in the workplace, but it is a misplaced fear
  • How to absorb lessons from great fiction writers

Anyway, give the show a listen and let me know what you think. And be sure to check out Jay’s other podcasts for more great marketing information.

(Update: Park and his Business of Story podcast were featured as a case study in the latest edition of Branding Yourself, which you can get on Amazon.com.)

Is the Forbes Top 50 Social Media List Flawed?

If you made the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencers list, you’re generally regarded as being pretty hot stuff. The Top 50 have a lot of influence, are extremely knowledgeable, and are connected to tens of thousands of people in their various networks.

If you didn’t make the list, you can tell yourself you were #51, or just try harder next year.

This year’s list was compiled by Haydn Shaughnessy using a “Pull Report” from PeekAnalytics.com.

There are also some basic criteria for involvement – experts must be creating their own content, and it has to be about social media. See more on the criteria here.

On the scoring, Peek Analytics gives people a score called Pull. If an individual has a Pull of 10x, that means that the audience the individual can reach is at least ten times greater than what the average social media user can reach.

Sounds pretty straightforward: if you’re a rockstar, you’ll be on the list.

Except it’s missing several notable names.

Jason Falls, Jay Baer, Chris Baggott

Seriously, these guys didn’t make the list? Jason Falls (l), Jay Baer, Chris Baggott (standing)

According to Judith Gotwald on Social Media Today (25 Social Media Influencers Forbes Ignored (And Why)), the Forbes list has snubbed a lot of pretty influential people, including several who were on last year’s list: Jay Baer, Jason Falls, Gini Dietrich, Charlene Li, Brian Solis, C.C. Chapman (Forbes did include his Content Rules co-author, Ann Handley), and even Mitch Joel.

Of course, Forbes does include some of the names you would expect: Mari Smith, Chris Brogan (but not his Trust Agents co-author Julien Smith), Liz Strauss, Jeff Bullas, Scott Stratten, and Dan Schawbel (disclosure: I write for Dan’s Personal Branding blog).

So what’s up? What happened to the names you would normally expect to see? Did Shaughnessy forget them? Did the non-Forbes people drop off on their Pull? Was PeekAnalytics having a bad day?

Admittedly, many names on both lists are names you expect to see year after year on a Top 50 or Top 100 list, but many of these missing names are glaring in their omission.

I’d like to see some better explanations for the list, and who did and didn’t make it, and why/how. I’d love to hear some of that “inside baseball” talk to explain how he went about determining who to measure, and who not to. How did he come up with the names to check? Is Pull based entirely on followers and reach, or is more like Klout, which could give a person with a very small following a high score because they the followers interact frequently? Or did Shaughnessy want to give some new people a shot at being on the Forbes Top 50? That’s admirable if it’s true, but then the list isn’t accurate or reflective.

It’s not that I’m suspicious of Forbes’ list, or will reject it out of hand, like it’s some partisan wing-nut website. It’s just that the exclusion of several noted social media experts is, well, eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

At the very least, Forbes’ list will be seen as problematic, which can be fixed with some basic explanations. At the worst, it’s a flawed list that is seriously lacking in its execution. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Why I Give Away the Good Stuff – What I Learned from Jay Baer at Blog Indiana

Jay Baer’s keynote at Blog Indiana 2012 reminded me why I always give talks about how to be a good blogger. It’s why I write blog posts about blogging technology. It’s why I teach customers to do what I do, so they can do it for themselves.

At his keynote, Jay talked about how Geek Squad shares all kinds of information through their videos, telling you how to remove viruses, or install something, or troubleshoot a problem.

Jay said that Geek Squad shows videos on how to fix computers, because “they make people think they can fix their own computer. Eventually, they need to bring their computer to a real professional.”

Erik Deckers and Jay Baer at Blog Indiana 2012

Me and Jay Baer. He makes me want to buy a used car from him.

What ends up happening is the customer runs into a problem they can’t fix, and so they take their video to the company whose videos they were just watching — with the Geek Squad logo — because they’ve learned to trust them.

If you can help customers out, you’ll earn their trust when they’re ready to buy.

Or, as Jay said, sell them something, and you make a customer today. Help someone, and you’ll make a customer for life.

Jay calls it Friend of Mine Awareness a variation of “frame of mind awareness” (being there when the customer needs a vendor). Frame of mind is the basic principle behind search engines and even the Yellow Pages.

But Friend of Mine Awareness says that if you help people out, you’ll earn their trust when they’re ready to buy. That means you have to be inherently useful. You have to be what Jay calls a YOUtility.

Jay said a lot of companies worry that if they give too much information away, their competitors will learn how to do what they do. Their customers will be able to do the thing themselves.

Bollocks!

As Jay said, a list of ingredients doesn’t make you a chef.

If I teach you how to write a blog post, all I’m really giving you is the list of ingredients. I’m not teaching you 24 years of writing experience. I’m not teaching you the insights I can gather based on doing keyword research. I’m not teaching you how to listen for the passion in the CEO’s voice, or to hear the frustration in the customer’s voice, or use the writing style that appeals directly to your customer.

One frequent source of potential clients for our company are people who have heard me speak, or who have read our blog. They decide they want to try it out for themselves, because I’ve shown them how easy it is.

But what happens is that they realize that blogging is harder than they thought. It’s not that they can’t write, or that they don’t know what their company does.

They realized that while they had the ingredients, and I even taught them how to mix them all together, they’re not chefs. They’re not writers. They’re not bloggers.

They’re accountants or operations directors or CEOs or attorneys or VPs of Marketing. They’re not going to take the time to learn it, because they have clients to take care of.

So they realize that if they want to be successful at their job, they need to stop doing the stuff that keeps them from doing their real work. Blogging is one of those things, which means they want to pass it off to the people who can do it well.

The people they trust. And how do they know who to trust?

They trust the guy who told them how to do it in the first place. The guy who gave them the good stuff.

Photo credit: Bob Burchfield of AroundIndy.com