Warren Buffett is a better writer than you for one simple reason: he knows his audience and he writes directly for them. Are you doing the same?
Don't write your content for "the world," rather write it for an individual. Don't try to make yourself *sound* smart. Try to make your reader *feel* smart.
This episode covers some takeaways from Social Media Marketing World 2019 and pulls from a great presentation given by Ann Handley, the author of Everybody Writes.
Full Episode Transcript
Last week, I attended Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. Throughout some upcoming episodes, I’ll be sharing a few takeaways from the massive conference, which played host to around 5000 social media and marketing professionals!
But today I want to talk about a presentation I saw by Ann Handley, the author of Everybody Writes.
While her session was called “How to write an email newsletter that people clear their schedules to read,” it could have just as easily been called — it’s time to focus less on the news of newsletter, and more on the letter.
I’m a huge email junky — along with writing email newsletters for my own business and my clients, I also read a lot of emails from brands, journalists, politicians and the like. And I mean a lot. In fact, email has become my primary method for keeping up with the news. I get daily or weekly emails from a ton of journalists and organizations, and let me tell you: there’s a huge difference between an email that was written for me, and one that was written for the world.
And that brings us to our title: Why Warren Buffett is a better writer than you. Warren Buffett is arguably the smartest person alive in his field. He could probably sit down and write his annual report ensuring that you couldn’t understand a word of it. He could use big words, tech jargon and language intended to make him sound smart, rather than to make you become smarter. But he understands that he doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone (at least not in his writing!). He uses his annual letter to convey a message and he wants to ensure that message is accessible to all. To do that, he has a trick. And it’s such a simple trick, you won’t believe it.
Rather than writing his annual letter to his stockholders, en masse, he writes it to his two sisters, Doris and Bertie. Now I’m sure that Doris and Bertie are very smart women. But they aren’t as smart at investing as Warren Buffett — no one is! When I say he writes it to them, I mean literally. He starts his letter “Dear Doris and Bertie.” He removes the line before sending it along, but the DNA of the letter is personal and real. He doesn’t want his sisters to feel dumb — he wants them to feel smart! And he writes accordingly.
Ann Handley talked about this concept at length during her session at social media marketing world and it really resonated with me — because it’s something I’ve recommend to my clients for years.
Along with working with nonprofits and business professionals (as well as solopreneurs, bands, artists, authors and all kids of other brands!) I do a lot of work with candidates and elected politicians. I was doing an audit and a training for a caucus a while back and I realized that a majority of the members of the caucus were regularly tweeting our press releases. No one on Twitter wants to read a press release. NOT EVEN THE PRESS!
I told them that before they sent any further communications, whether it be via Twitter, Facebook, email, anything… they should picture an actual constituent reading their content. Do you think that sweet grandpa you met last month while knocking doors is going to appreciate your press release? He isn’t! Take the message of the release and make it digestable to him. Is he going to know the terminology of laws and budgets and legalese? Maybe. But probably not! So write it for him. The goal is not to make yourself sound smart — the goal is to make your reader feel smart.
I tell all my clients to picture an actual customer before sending a post. I even had someone tell me they loved the idea so much, they wrote a customer’s name down on a post-it note and stuck it to their computer. This way, anytime they write anything, they force themselves to think of this specific person.
Warren Buffett is a better writer than you because he knows his audience — it’s his sisters. Become a better writer simply by focusing on an individual, rather than the world. Because even if your tweet or Facebook post goes viral, or your email gets forwarded on by Oprah and millions of people see it, it’s still being consumed by single individuals, one at a time.
Don’t think of your content as a megaphone, blasting everyone in the area with your knowledge, wisdom and wit. Rather think of it as a telephone, creating a connection between two people. Your writing will be better for it. And your audience will walk away with a much better understanding of your message. And isn’t that kinda the whole point?
Wisconsinites went to the polls on Tuesday In droves. The final results of the election though do not fully reflect the will of the people.
There were five statewide races: Governor (with Lt. Gov on the same ticket), US Senator, Attorney General, Treasurer and Secretary of State. Democrats won all five races. This is the first time that’s happened since 1982.
Dems had unmistakable victories at the statewide level. As you look down the ballot though, the results tell a very different story.
Wisconsin has eight Congressional seats all of which were up for election on Tuesday. Going into Election Day, Democrats controlled three of them and Republicans the remaining five. No seat flipped.
All told, Wisconsin Democratic Congressional candidates received 1,350,960 votes.
Wisconsin Republican Congressional Candidates received 1,171,456 votes.
[These numbers have been updated since original posting, as additional totals have been tallied and reported. See most up-to-date vote breakdown here.]
And yet, as mentioned, Dems got three out of eight seats.
That’s right, Dems got 53.5% of the vote, yet took only 37.5% of the seats.
When we look at the State Assembly, which had every seat up for grabs this past Tuesday, that disparity becomes even more glaring.
While final numbers are still not fully available for all races, Democratic Assembly candidates appear poised to take right around 1.3 million votes to Republican Assembly candidates 1.1 million votes.
And yet Democrats walked away with only 36 seats, while Republicans took a staggering 63!
That means that Democrats won 54% of the vote and yet took only 36% of the seats.
A Flimsy Response to a Gerrymandered Map
Republican Speaker Robin Vos’s response to the imbalance of the map: “I do not like the fact that Madison and Milwaukee chose Gov. Evers and they’re the reason that he won. But in the process that we have, Madison and Milwaukee get the chance to vote. I don’t like the outcome all the time, but they have a fair chance.”
Speaker Vos is essentially arguing that Wisconsin should not have a popular vote (or popular representation), but rather that we need our very own electoral college to protect Wisconsin from its two largest cities.
But of course how a city votes is irrelevant (or should be!). It should be how the people vote. And his explanation doesn’t even come close to explaining the clear disparities at play. Of course Madison and Milwaukee have a large role in deciding our state’s leadership. The combined population of their two metro areas makes up over a third of the state’s population. That’s simply how representative democracy works. Or how it’s supposed to anyway.
Wisconsin went to the polls on Tuesday and now we find ourselves with a split government. But that’s not because of how the people voted, it’s because of how the maps were drawn.
Remember that the next time our minority-elected legislative government aims to make sweeping changes to our state — changes like curbing the authority of our newly-elected Governor, because a powerful Executive was good for Vos and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald when that Executive was a Republican, but is a threat to their minority-rule now that he’s a Democrat.
Republicans couldn’t draw the statewide map to their benefit and every statewide race went to a Democrat. Despite winning sizable majorities in the popular vote for both Congress and the State Assembly, Democrats continue to find themselves in the minority of both bodies (for Congress, this only relates to the Wisconsin caucus, not the national map).
Partisan gerrymandering is undemocratic. Tuesday’s results show clear as day just how undemocratic.
Work in politics? Want to?
Learn more about how I work with candidates, elected officials and political organizations today.
If you work with people, you should have a photo/media library. Period.
Taking pictures of your customers/fans/community will help you tell your story in real time. It will also help ensure you have great content to use for years to come.
There’s no shortage of stock photography on the internet, but none of it has your team members in it, or your customers wearing/using/engaging with your products, or events taking place in neighborhoods where you live.
You don’t need to be an amazing photographer to build a photo library, you just need to pull out your smartphone and start taking pictures. If you have multiple team members, you should all take photos regularly to ensure as many different shots as possible of any given event, sale, party, etc.
But that’s where things gets complicated. If several members of your team are taking photos, then those photos are spread out across several different phones and devices.
There are many services out there that aim to solve this problem. Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Photos… all of them can do it. But they are all clunky and slow, and therefore unlikely to be used regularly and reliably. And if you aren’t sharing all your photos, the system isn’t working.
Here’s the good news: If every member of your team uses at least one Apple product, Shared iCloud Drives are the simplest solution you can imagine to solve this annoying problem.
Adding photos to a Shared Drive takes three clicks of the screen. Literally. And then everyone with access will have all shared photos and videos right on their phones and other Apple devices.
To add a photo(s)/video(s) to a Shared Drive, simply open up the media on your phone you want to share.
Then click in the share box in the bottom left of the screen.
At this point you can email or text the photo, or you can share it to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. But don’t do any of that. Select the rainbow icon labeled iCloud Photo Sharing.
The name of my Shared Album is Reverbal Communications. Click next to Shared Album and you can add your media to any existing Shared Drive you're a part of, or you can create a new one.
Optionally: you can add text or message to accompany your photo. I highly recommend you do this, both for your own sake, and for the sake of your team members. Say where you were, what you were doing, who is in the photo(s)/video(s) and any other information your team should know.
You can add a message or a note for an individual piece of media, or a group of pictures/videos. Whatever you choose to share will be commented on individually or as a unit.
Then just hit post and everyone in the Shared Drive will get a notification that there is new media in the Shared Drive.
When you open up the Shared Drive, you can toggle between Photos and People.
To invite new people to the Drive, go to People and then click “Invite People.”
They can only accept your invitation if they have an iCloud enabled device (a Mac computer, phone or tablet). You can invite them through their email or phone number, so long as that contact info is associated with an iCloud account.
Shared Drives are a great tool for placing all media at the fingertips of everyone on your team. You can have as many as you want too, so maybe have one accessible to interns or revolving staffers, and another for senior staffers/stakeholders. Or you have different Shared Drives for different parts of your team. Whatever works for you and your organization.
Have questions? Hit me up. I’m here to help you and you team get started building your Digital Media Library.
Check out some other iPhone tips and tricks.
Have any favorite secret iOS tips, tricks, tools or hacks that you love? Share them in the comments!
If you have tuned out this news completely for Memorial Day weekend, congratulations!
If not, the biggest story in your varied timelines is probably about how the US is systematically removing children from their parents, many of whom came here seeking asylum (and all of whom came seeking a better life).
The parents are being given no information as to where their children are being taken or when — if ever — they will get to see them again. To make matters worse, we are now learning that the US has lost children (thousands of them 😞😱😡) that are supposed to be in the system, and that many of these children are getting sold to human traffickers.
This morning, Ivanka Trump tweeted a picture. The caption: “My ❤️! #SundayMorning”
While ordinarily, a picture like this would have gotten the Likes and the RTs rolling in, it could not have been more tone deaf to the world around it.
Ivanka is not just President Trump’s daughter, she is also a senior member of his administration.
A tweet does not live in a vacuum. A digital intern would have looked at this tweet and recommended to Ivanka she not post it, when the story of the weekend is lost children.
But post it she did. And so the Quote Tweets rolled in:
As a general rule, pictures and videos of babies and puppies can be engagement gold. But while good content is important, it can't work without an awareness of context.
In other words: you can ignore the people; but rest assured, they are not going to ignore you.
It’s always best practice to read through an article before sharing it via social media.
Sometimes a headline tells you most of what you need to know, and it’s okay to only skim the article, without reading every word. For example, if your local paper reports that a new baby panda was born at your zoo, you can pretty well trust you got the gist of the takeaway before even clicking on the link. It’s still a good idea to read through it, of course, just to be sure there are no critical takeaways/surprising angles towards the bottom of the page. But you are probably safe making assumptions about what you’ll find in the article.
While reading through articles before you share them with your networks them is important, if the article in question is about you, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!
Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribute named Senator Orrin Hatch “Utahn of the Year.” (Yep, apparently someone from Utah is a Utahn — good to know!)
On its face, this is a pretty big honor. A significant paper from the state’s capital city named Hatch their person of the year. I can see why he would be excited to get that out far and wide to his networks.
Unfortunately for him, the article didn’t exactly line up with the headline.
The very first line of the article should have been a clue to even the most casual of readers: “These things are often misunderstood.”
It then lays out what he has done to deserve such a title.
• Hatch’s part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
• His role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in passing a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code.
• His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.
While the first two bullet points were clearly intended to be direct hits against Hatch, it is possible that he could wear both criticisms as points of pride. If he thinks it’s good to scale back national monuments and to raise working people’s taxes so that massive corporations can get a tax break, then he might have read the opening lines and been proud of his accomplishments.
But of course the opening line of the article made clear that the Salt Lake Tribune editorial staff is far from impressed with their senior senator.
And even if the intention of the first two bullet points confused him, that last one was pretty damn clear: “His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”
The article goes on to call him a liar who has long overstayed his welcome in Utah. It also says that if he doesn’t retire now, the voters should toss him from office in 2018.
I read the article yesterday and thought — "Damn! This is brutal."
But of course that’s not the story here. The story here is that while I read the article and found it brutal, Senator Hatch (and/or one of his aides) saw the article as well, but never read past the title before proudly shared the scathing op-ed with his Twitter network this morning.
Oof. Oof. Oof.
Let this be a lesson to you. Read the article you are sharing. ESPECIALLY if you are the subject.
P.S. Do you know what the ratio is (in the context of Twitter)? It’s when you get waaay more responses to a tweet than likes or retweets. It’s typically a sign that people disagree with your message pretty vehemently, as supporters typically like or retweet, and comments tend to be criticisms of the message. Someone might say: dang, look at that ratio! So notice Hatch’s tweet has a 10:1 ratio.
“Dang, look at that ratio!”
On Friday night, I went to see a Grammy winning bluegrass legend wow his crowd with songs spanning his 40+ year career.
Because I’m both a bluegrass nerd and a social media nerd, I streamed one of his songs via Facebook Live.
It was late on a weekend night and it didn’t get a lot of views in real time. But over the next 36 hours or so, it was watched a few dozen times. (And now I can go back and rewatch the band anytime I want on my personal Facebook page!) But truth be told, by Sunday night, I wasn’t thinking about the video anymore than I was about the drive to and from the show.
But then Monday morning, something interesting happened — my video was “liked” by the bluegrass legend it featured.
Now let’s be clear: I don’t think that this artist liked the post himself (although he might have). More likely it was a member of his marketing or management team.
But the notification that he had liked my video popped up, and I have to be honest — I got excited. Like, more excited than I probably should have.
I work in social media for a living. I know how this works. I know he probably has some marketing agency liking positive mentions of him online. But you know what: it still got its intended effect out of me!
Having him like my video felt like getting a high five or a quick hello from a bluegrass legend.
Does that handshake mean that we are suddenly best friends? Of course not.
Does it mean I can suddenly shred on the mandolin like he can? I wish!
Am I still excited enough that I immediately want to tell all my friends about it? Yup.
Liking that post cost him literally nothing (save for whatever he’s paying his agency to manage his social media—but that’s a story for another post). Yet it added to my excitement about the show.
Social media serves many roles, not least of which is customer service and community relations.
Think about yourself as a movie star. When you walk down the street, people recognize you. You can't stop and have lunch with every fan. You can’t even stop and take a picture with them all or you’d never get anywhere. But you can nod and smile to everyone who waves at you.
That’s what a "like" or a "favorite" is on social media — it’s a head nod from a celebrity. It doesn’t suddenly make you best friends or ensure that they will buy your product/go see your next movie/buy your upcoming album. But it shows the fans that you are real, and that you respect them as people, not just as consumers. And it only takes as much time to create that connection as you need to give a single click of your mouse or tap on your phone.
If you see a celebrity on the street, and you wave at them, you are going to tell your friends one of two stories:
“Oh my goodness, I just say this famous person on State Street. It was so cool!”
*** OR ***
“I just saw this famous person on State Street. He was kind of a jerk.”
You’re the celebrity. Which would you prefer?
We live in strange times. One person with a little ingenuity and a Twitter account or a YouTube channel can have greater reach than their local paper, and greater influence than even some in the national media.
But for most of us, we log-on to social media to connect with our friends and family, to see what’s happening in the world and to share our opinions. We aren’t trying to build massive audiences—we just want to learn, to socialize and to share our opinions on the story of the day.
And so often today, that story is about politics.
We live in a social media age: never before have American politics moved so fast or felt so destructive. It feels like we are in an endless state of breaking news; CNN’s chyron writers can hardly keep up with the stories as they come rolling in.
So let’s say you want to go online and get involved in the conversation, but you aren’t sure where to start. Then these ten tips might be for you. This list could apply to professional politicos and full-time activists, but I didn’t write it for them. Rather it’s intended for people with jobs, families, social lives and a million other things going on, but who still have a passion to change their community, if not the world.
Tip 1 — If it didn’t happen on social media, it didn’t happen
This is the first rule of any campaign I’ve ever worked on, and it needn't be limited to traditional political campaigns. If you go to an event, no matter how well attended, consider all of those who didn’t attend. Some didn’t know about it, some couldn’t get off work, some live in other places. Talking about the events and meetings you attend both bring in new audiences in real time, and give more people a reason to attend such events in the future.
Share your story via the social media platforms of your choice throughout the event. Quote speakers, share videos of exciting moments, talk about why you are there, what you are learning and how great a time you are having.
Or else, it never really happened 😉
Tip 2 — Your story is your best asseT
All the facts and statistics in the world can’t compete with a personal story from someone in your community. Hearing that 23 million people will lose healthcare is powerful; hearing that YOU or YOUR BROTHER won’t be able to keep their healthcare, far more so.
Your story doesn’t have to be tragic to be powerful. What got you active in the movement? Why do you care? What are the moments that shaped you? They are all part of your story.
You don’t have to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets to put a personal spin on the story of the day.
Activists are, first and foremost, organizers. Sometimes, their goal is to use the internet as a tool to bring people together in real life. If that’s your goal, optimize your efforts.
Facebook events are extremely powerful, but ONLY if used correctly. Don’t build a Facebook Event two days before an event. At that point, you have missed your window. If you can’t build it at least 4-6 weeks prior, you are not really taking advantage of this awesome tool. (Bear in mind, this is NOT applicable for birthday parties, community concerts, etc., where you can pretty much do whatever you want. This is for public events that you want to promote to a public audience.)
Once your Event is built, invite people you think will want to attend and share it with your networks. Post about it on your wall, email it to your friends, tell people about it in real life and let them know they should join.
Once you have a group of people who have said they are “interested” or “going” to your event, now it’s time to engage them.
Every time you post an update in the event, everyone “interested” or “going” will get a notification. So it’s important not to annoy them (they can remove themselves from the event outright or simply from receiving notifications). My recommendation: post about once a week until the final two weeks prior to the actual event. Then ramp up as you get closer. But just about EVERY notification should not solicit, but rather excite.
Tip 3 — Online organizing starts offlinE
You will not sign up for a Twitter account today, and amass 100k followers over the next few weeks (if you do, contact me and let’s tell that story!). But connect with the people you already know in real life and let them know how to find you online. This can be at events and meetings, in your email signature, within Facebook Groups in which you are active, etc.
The people who already know (and love) you will be much more receptive to your message than a group of strangers. And if your goal is to make a difference, it helps to have a receptive audience.
Tip 4 — Support each otheR
If you see someone getting attacked for speaking out, it’s okay to step up for them, just like you would in real life.
If you aren’t comfortable getting involved publicly in an online debate (some can’t because of their jobs, others just aren’t comfortable with it), consider dropping a private note to the person under siege. Let them know you appreciate that they are fighting the good fight.
If we cede the conversation to the bullies, we lose. We can’t all be outspoken activists, but we must support each other so that those who are in a position to engage won’t get shut down and pushed out of the conversation altogether.
Tip 5 — Use Twitter lists as a listening tooL
I know a lot of people who don’t like Twitter because they find it too confusing. And I get that. At first glance, Twitter is chaos. But Twitter lists help bring order to the chaos.
Utilizing them is free and easy, and you don’t even have to build your own — you can subscribe to someone else’s.
Lists can be public or private:
Build lists of journalists, people who inspire you, friends, colleagues, etc.. And then get a free account with HootSuite or Tweetdeck and easily monitor them, on a timeframe that works for you.
Lists only show content shared by those in your list. So if it’s a list of journalists, whenever you login, you can see all of their tweets in a manageable stream, and nothing else. Literally: order out of the chaos.
This will help you stay informed and connected to many different groups of people in a way that won’t feel overwhelming.
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