Powerful Content Can Make You Feel Something

When content makes you feel good, entertained, impressed (or something else that is meaningful to you) now that’s powerful. (Of course, it’s also good when you can learn something … but that’s a topic for another day.)

I thought about this the other day when I ran across a local brand’s video on Facebook. I was impressed by its usefulness, conversational tone and I thought it was interesting. I still remember my thoughts and feelings while watching the video.

Now, what’s interesting, in my opinion: I couldn’t even tell you now what the short video was even about. I do know it was related to a local business owner’s products and I thought it was a nicely executed strategy of engaging with audiences.

And I know it was shot with an iPhone. And I remember the audio sounded good, which isn’t a given when you shoot with an iPhone. I didn’t think of the business owner to be very tech-savvy before this video, so that probably influenced my feeling, too.

I enjoyed it and liked the person’s initiative. Hmmm. How could I enjoy the content then? It made me think, recognize and feel.

I want people to feel something and remember that feeling when they see my content. Really powerful content carries that feeling forward even after the content isn’t in front of us any longer. Now, that’d be powerful.

I shared this story several times now in passing with people I ran across around town. Everyone seemed impressed … even though I didn’t remember what the video actually covered I continued to share this brand’s story and helped it be known in my network. Just because of a feeling.

I helped this brand share its story and I didn’t even remember what it was. I shared the positive feeling and for some people this can still be powerful enough to remember the brand.

“Oh, yea, Christoph mentioned this new shop the other day.” If my audience views me in a positive light they might pass it along. If they see me in a negative light, they might not.

Is the smiley passive aggressive?

The other day somebody on social media somewhere said something about the smiley – this guy :) – being passive aggressive. :) You can be rest assured that one was not passive aggressive there :)

I’ve been struggling with that comment a bit. I use the smiley all the time. Mostly because the people I’m writing can’t see I’m smiling since it’s all text based. Or I use it to show agreement. Typically, it’s a positive expression for me. It’s shorter than me writing: You should see me smiling.

So I discussed this with a focus group – aka a few people that I stopped in the hallway – and they all agreed with the poster. Yes, it’s often passive aggressive. Hmmm. OK. Good to know. I actually went back to a few messages that I had sent with a smiley – not a passive aggressive one, though – to re-evaluate if they could be read that way. And lo and behold they could be read as passive aggressive. I hope they weren’t taken that way. (See, had I put a smiley right there, that certainly could be seen as passive aggressive.)

Maybe the tone we read things in is a reflection of our offline relationship. If we don’t give the writer the benefit of the doubt we might take the smiling smiley as passive aggressive. Even when it’s not. Maybe. And other times we might be reading it exactly correctly.

Either way, it’s good to listen to people’s perceptions and perception is reality – even if it’s not our reality,

It’s always good to listen to people and how messages are received. So if you are smiling at somebody – keep in mind they might take it as passive aggressive. I suppose that could happen offline, too, though.

OK, I think that clears this up. Now, what about the winking smiley? 😉


Social media posts should be first person

Unfortunately, sometimes some of us forget that social media should be a personal and social communications tool.

Yes, brands can be personal. So can people. But, sometimes we forget that…

Third person in social media

I still see people and brands use the third person in their own posts. This might look like this:

. @ctrappe received an award today and will speak at such and such event. – (Posted by @ctrappe)

My guess is that this is a holdover from the “good ole'” days of news release writing. Organizations and people routinely referred to themselves in the third person. In a news release that wasn’t super terrible, because they weren’t necessarily supposed to be conversational or social.

On social media, it’s just strange. The Tweet above could have easily been posted like this:

I’m so excited to win this award and speak at that event. Hope to see you there. (Posted by @ctrappe)

I frequently compare social media to a dinner party and we certainly wouldn’t talk about ourselves in the third person at a dinner party. Can we agree on first person going forward?

I see that organizational accounts sometimes have to refer to others in the organization and that’s OK, but it’s a far cry from this news release-type third person language. An airline might say:

Please let a crew member on your flight know. (After hearing about an issue.)

A hospital might say:

Please DM us and we will forward your information to the appropriate department. (After getting a question that needs an answer from a subject matter expert.)

You can see how that’s different.

Quoting others without quoting them

Some days I wonder where we used to find inspirational quotes before social media. Everyone is sharing their favorite quotes from dead and living leaders.

Some people, I’ve noticed, are quoting articles or people without using quotation marks. That also can cause confusion. Even when we link back to a full article that explains the source, quoting without credit on social media can be confusing. Many social media users don’t even click on those links. People (rightfully so) might expect that the post is from you, because, well, it came from you. And we just agreed on first-person posts. :)

When we use other people’s words, let’s make sure to put quotation marks around them and quote them. If on Twitter, use their handle. On Facebook tag them.

Quoting yourself

Other times, I’ve seen people quote themselves. For example, the pre-written Tweet above. You can click on it and share it with your Twitter network.. I’ll wait…

OK, thanks! See, if you share it you are quoting me. That’s fine (and appreciated). It’s the appropriate way of quoting somebody. If I share that exact same Tweet, though, I’m quoting myself and that’s just strange and not that conversational.

Since it’s me, I don’t have to quote myself. I can just tweet the sentence: Quoting yourself is strange.

In conclusion…

Social media is called social for a reason. It’s supposed to be a conversation. Be personable, real and talk like humans would. It shouldn’t be that difficult since we all are humans.



What to say in your social media bio…

christoph trappe on twitterOur social media profile pages tell a lot about us and a lot of times are the first impression that we leave on people who are considering following us.

Some of the ones I’ve seen include:

  • People listing their family members: Father of 3, husband of 1, etc etc.
  • People listing their likes: I eat a lot and drink beers.
  • People listing life events: Survivor of an airplane crash, best known for xyz, etc.
  • People letting us know that they will follow back! (I hope that’s not the only thing they bring to Twitter. :))
  • People letting us know where they work but that this account is absolutely not connected to their employer. In no way. Any potential opinion stated is only theirs.
  • Some people call themselves experts, gurus, mavens, whatever.

So, what would I recommend to post in your about/profile section?

Whatever makes sense to that network’s specific audience (aka your followers). Some audiences might care about a specific person’s family and others not so much.

On Twitter, I make sure people know what I do and talk about the most: Content marketing and other online marketing topics.

I also share what events I’m speaking at next. Usually events are related to content marketing to begin with so if new followers are planning on attending we can connect offline at some point as well. Meeting offline makes online connections stronger.

I also link to my blog.

On Instagram, I have a slightly different bio. I post slightly different content there than I do on Twitter. More #gymselfies, so I call that out in the bio. They belong on Instagram and not so much on Twitter.

instagram christoph trappe


It’s great that there’s character limit so people don’t share their life stories. But figuring out what’s most relevant to a specific audience can be a challenge. Once we figure out  what we are going to be talking about on any given network and what our audiences are interested in, it’ll be easier to craft a meaningful bio that will help you attract even more connections.

More video, please!

We see the studies: Video drives engagement. So, let’s all produce more videos.

But just because something is shot with a video camera, doesn’t make it great video. There are exceptions, but some “videos”  that are not that great include:

  • Talking heads. (Make it a podcast!)
  • Picture after picture. (I call that a slideshow.)

There might be others and please feel free to send me your thoughts, but the best video is telling a story and takes advantage of video being able to show movement. That’s why real-life videos of people doing less-than-smart things are so powerful or why videos of violence (sometimes involving police officers) are viewed and eye opening.

A picture of any of those events would never tell the story in the same way. It wouldn’t make any sense – even with an explanation.

Videos are best to be used when the story demands it, not just because we want to create a video. Our communities (aka audiences) will thank us for using the best tools to share our stories most effectively. Some times that will be video. Other times it will be something else.


Kids are natural storytellers – but they don’t share everything either

kids are great storytellersKids are great storytellers. Sure, they may not worry too much about shaping the message for their audience, but they are gung ho about sharing their stories.

My seven-year-old is a great example of this. She stands in front of the family in the evenings and reads from her journal, which is basically a place where she documented her stories.

“On Valentine’s Day we did…” she shared. “Over the weekend we stopped by Nana’s.”

Like a public presenter she shares page by page, story by story. I ask her why she wants to share all of the stories in her diary? “Because I want to. But it’s not my diary, Dad.”

Her diary is another book that she locked with a key. “Try to open it,” she challenges me.

Her diary entrees are private. Her journal entry are public to the family (and anyone else who will listen).

When I speak about storytelling the question comes up whether authentic storytelling (in content marketing) means that we have have to share everything? Of course, it doesn’t.

Some things might just be interesting, worth sharing or don’t look the greatest.

For example, I took four pictures of my daughters. In three they are making weird faces – sometimes at each other. I share the one online and with family where they are smiling and actually looking at the camera.

Does that make the photo or my representation of the situation inauthentic? I don’t think think so. There certainly is a fine line to constructing our dream lives online while we live a completely different life offline.

And people question overly positive posts online. In early 2015, I’ve been posting a number of positive tidbits about the healthcare strategy organization where I spend most of my days. At one point, I received a phone call from a friend who asked if the company is really as great as I make it out to be in posts. “Yup.” (I posted this story, too, on Facebook as a follow up, by the way.)

Editing is OK and even appreciated by networks with short attention spans. Rewriting our stories online is a whole different story and I wouldn’t recommend that.

Live it first. Then share the highlights that others might find interesting or  can learn from.

Happy Father’s Day – Dads leave impressions

Good or bad, stories involving our fathers leave a lasting memory.

We remember how he helped us – or didn’t. We remember his interactions with mom and other siblings. We remember how he was there – or not.

We want him to see our small successes. I see it in my seven-year-old’s eyes while she’s standing on first base after smacking the softball out of the infield. “Dad! Dad! Dad! Did you see the hit?”

Thumbs up!

And then when she jogs back to the dugout, I make sure to tell her again: “Awesome hit.”

Whether dads are traveling for work or are looking for the next endeavor, there are ways to make time for our children – if we want to.

Sometimes it can be the children that are overscheduled. I remember one time when my oldest had practices in two different sports at the same time.  Driving them from practice to practice can also be great for bonding and one-on-one conversation.

Facetime while on the road before bedtime keeps families connected.

Make it to that game on time!

Be there and listen.

Be there and support.

Teach, but also recognize.

The other day, one of my daughters brought something to me while I was already sitting in the car in the garage. Before she moved, she asked: “Can I go around the car before  you back out, please?”

Yes. And how impressive that she would think about asking first. Very safety conscious.

While Father’s Day is supposed to be about the dads, every day is about our kids and how we can help them live the best lives they can possibly have now and later as adults.

We remember the shared stories forever.

Selfie News: iPhone 6 doesn’t show text on shirts backwards 

Selfies, of course, also help us share our stories. We can take pictures of ourselves as we are visiting interesting places and have  great experiences with our friends and family. 

I recently upgraded from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 6. One thing that didn’t work too well with the iPhone 4 is that when I took the selfie and I had writing on my T-shirt, for example, the writing would be backwards. So that never looked too good especially if I wanted to show what the writing says.

On the iPhone 6, however, I determined that there is a way to take the photo that shows the text in a readable way to people looking at the photo.

To do that you have to go into the proper iPhone camera app. Open to take a photo and it’ll flip it around and it would look like this below.

Now, when I took the same picture inside of the Instagram app on the same phone this is how it looks.


To use the photo also for Instagram my recommendation would be to set the iPhone camera app to take the photo in square mode, take it and then upload it to Instagram after it made the text appear readable.