ken mueller

WTF? Friday: Why Fake it When You Can Have the Real Thing?

By Communications, Social Media

Today’s post is brought to you by Ken Mueller, the owner of Inkling Media, a Social Media and marketing company in Lancaster, PA.

You just can’t fake some things.WTF?

The other day I saw one of my friends post on Twitter:

NEWS FLASH: Fake tans don’t look real

And he’s right. You can spot a fake tan a mile away. A fake tan screams, “I’m vain and I was nowhere near the beach!”

Same with toupees.

Is it more embarrassing to go bald and show the world, or try to cover it up with a piece of “processed hair matter” that screams, “If I were bald you MIGHT look at me, but NOW you can’t take your eyes off of me and the monstrosity on my head, can you???”

Like any great marketing, they grab your attention, but for all the wrong reasons. People can see through fake. Fake might work for a while, but eventually you will be found out.

What does faking it look like in Social Media?

Claiming to be something you’re not – your credentials can be Googled, and what you say about yourself can be either confirmed or denied by those you have known over the years. And the more you share online, the more people can tell if you have no clue what you are talking about.

Claming to NOT be something you are – You’ve read the reviews on Yelp where you just know that the glowing review was written by the mother or spouse of the restaurant owner, or it might actually be an employee pretending to be a happy customer. On the other side, I’ve seen horrible reviews that just feel as if they were written by the competition. Don’t do it.

Astroturfing – This is when businesses create fake profiles of individuals who then comment on their blogs, Facebook pages, etc.. The idea is that you are “seeding” conversation, and making it look like you have a larger following than you do. This will bite you in the butt big time if you are ever caught…and odds are, you will be caught.

Don’t be stupid. You can try to fake things, but it’s very likely you’ll be found out, and the damage done can be pretty bad. Be real. Be who you are. By all means, filter yourself, but don’t try to give people the wrong impressions.

Sure we can beat the words “authenticity” and “transparency” to death, but they are incredibly important. It’s like signing up for a dating site and posting a picture of a beautiful man or woman, and claiming to be much younger than you are. That game only goes so far. Eventually you’ll have to go on a date and it will be obvious you’re lying.

Faking it never works. Well…almost never…



Defining your Brand Position: Hint; it’s Not About You

By Communications

A logo is a brand image; not the position or definition of the brand.

Ask five people in an organization what the company’s brand position is and you’re likely to get five different answers. Ask five of their customers and you’re likely to get the same answer all five times.

Why is that?

What your brand position is not:

  • It’s not your mission statement
  • It’s not your logo or your “look and feel”
  • It’s not your service or product offerings
  • It’s not what you think it is
My friend Ken Mueller of Inkling Media summed it up nicely when he wrote Word of Mouth is THEIR Mouth not Yours.  Similarly, your brand position is what your customers believe it to be.

Your Brand is the Promise you Make and Keep When Interacting with Your Community

First, let’s define your community. It is those you serve, those interested in what you do, your employees and by extension, often, the families and friends (and sometimes neighbors) of those employees. What’s the promise? It is what you do and how you do it. If the community values what you do, that’s part of your brand. If they think you’re awful at it, well, that’s part of your brand, too.

What’s your promise? Is it what you want it to be? If not, what’s your plan for making a change?

My Personal Chamber of Commerce Exists Online

By Communications, Public Relations

Guest post by Ken Mueller of Inkling Media in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ken is awfully chipper in the morning. Sometimes he works from his front porch. I owe him lots of pie.

Let me tell you a little story. Back in February I received what sounded like a rather urgent voicemail message, followed up immediately with an email. Someone affiliated with our main area Chamber of Commerce was trying to contact me about an upcoming workshop at which they wanted me to present. It seems a key person within a particular Chamber business group follows me on various social channels and likes what I have to say, so he recommended me to speak about Social Media to that group.

Now, I speak to a lot of local groups, including some of the smaller area Chambers. But I was surprised by the invite from our larger Chamber because, well, I’m not a member. And I’m not a member for two reasons: One, I really can’t afford it, and two, I’m just not a big fan of how they operate in terms of networking events and what not. It’s just not my thing. Plus they’ve always seemed like a rather “closed” sorta group, and I’m not a fan of that. However, most of my clients happen to be members, so I do have a connection.

But, here they were inviting me, so I thought that this might be the start of something new and exciting. I spoke to the woman who called me, and then began a flurry of emails over the course of the next 5 hours. They were in a rush and needed to lock things up. I sent them topics, a bio, and went back and forth on all the details and it was a done deal. I’d be speaking to the group the following month.

Well, within an hour of confirming, I got an email from another woman who had been CC’d on all of the emails:

Thanks so much for your willingness and input to serve as an expert for our forum.   One thing I do need to address with you…you are not currently a member of The Chamber and I work hard to ensure that our presenters are members.  Would you be interested in joining?  I would be happy to discuss the opportunity with you.  Please let me know when would be a good time to talk.

Well, there it was. A pitch to join. I responded immediately, and explained that financially, this just wasn’t an option for me. I’m a relatively new business, sole breadwinner, two kids in college, no insurance, etc.  It’s just not something I can afford.

Then came the response, which began with a pitch for how affordable membership was, including the cost to join, which, in my mind, was still not affordable. And this:

We do have several social media experts who are members, and honestly I feel the obligation to support our members as they support TheChamber and have invested in us.  I do hope that you will be able to join us too.  I think we both can bring tremendous value to each other and I would love to offer you the opportunity to present at this forum.  I do hope you understand my position.

Now, I fully understand their position, but they knew I wasn’t a member up front. Why pursue me so hotly with words of flattery if they were going to pull the rug out from under me? Were they inviting me to speak as a ploy to get a new member? I really don’t know. But I responded that if being a member was a condition for speaking, then I would have to withdraw. End of story. I spent a good six hours working to provide them with the information they HAD to have for their website and promotional material, only to be left waiting at the altar. I never even heard the following day, or ever, from the woman who originally contacted me to speak. I wasn’t a member, therefore I was the weakest link: goodbye!

Needless to say, my feelings on the whole Chamber of Commerce thing haven’t gotten any more warm and fuzzy. On top of that, one of my clients recently wrote an article for the Chamber magazine, in which he mentioned me, only to have that mention stripped out, again presumably because I’m not a member.

What I don’t like is the mentality that Chamber members should only do business with Chamber members. It’s not a written ruleIt smacks of the smoke filled backrooms of the old boys’ clubs of a bygone era.

My personal Chamber of Commerce exists online. I am networking 24/7 on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and it is how I’ve built my business. For me, this form of open networking is genuine, not contrived. People aren’t walking around with one hand reaching to shake yours, and the other to hand you a business card. The relationships are real, and the ROI is fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-Chamber. I’m just a bit uncomfortable with their closed nature and how they choose to do business.

In the meantime, if you want to do business with me, you know where to find me. Let’s become friends and build a relationship, and then perhaps we might find ways of working together. Isn’t that the way it should be?

WTF? Friday: Whining and Blogging Don’t Mix

By Social Media

Today’s post is brought to you by Ken Mueller, the owner of Inkling Media, a small Social Media and marketing company in Lancaster, PA. He’s quite possibly the coolest guy I know, and deserves a lot of pie.

I have a secret about MJ: she’s a whiner.

Just the other day she told me “if I ever say to you, ‘oh, I’ll just get up early and do it’, make sure I stay up late instead. I’m a pathetic morning person”

Well, as I write this, it’s Thursday night, and MJ just said to me, via g-chat, “You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking I’ll get up early to write WTF Friday”

Now being the observant person I am, I realized this was a test. And thankfully I passed the test. Sorta. I responded, “I’m thinking that my very good and wonderful friend MJ should stay up and just do it tonight”. Her response?

She whined.

As in, “Wahhhhhhh”.


And then suddenly, I went too far. I went from supportive Internet friend to enabler. I not only came up with an idea for her WTF Friday post (this one), but I offered to write it for her. Actually, I just started writing it while she was off getting pie. For her. Not me.

So here it is, a WTF Friday post about whiners who don’t want to blog, even though they know they should (that would be Marijean), and the importance of having others who hold you accountable (that would be me).

But seriously, having that community of people is important. Marijean and I both have others who push us and encourage us, and allow us to vent and complain, and in her case, whine. More often than not, she and I are the ones that hold each other accountable.

One of the keys to blogging is being consistent, especially when you have an anchor feature like WTF Friday that people expect to see.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Marijean and I have never met in person? In fact, we actually met online by accident. And yet we have been able to develop a friendship that allows us to push one another, and whole each other accountable with our work and blogging.

So what have we learned?

  1. MJ is a whiner
  2.  MJ gets pie. Ken works.
  3.  If you’re going to blog, you need to be consistent
  4.  It’s important to have others who can push you when you just don’t feel like blogging.

Blogging and Social Media are major commitments. You can’t just dabble. Make the commitment, and stick to it, and find others who can help you as you move forward.

Oh, and I wouldn’t mind a slice of Key Lime pie right about now…


Who’s Listening?

By Social Media

Today’s guest post is from Ken Mueller of Inkling Media.

Social Media platforms can be incredibly personal. For those of us who spend a good part of our day communicating via Twitter, it is not only personal, but has become second nature. So much so that we really do need to stop and think from time to time before we Tweet.

If you’re anything like me, you use Twitter for both personal and business reasons. You might even have two separate accounts, but we need to remember, it’s hard to separate the two. I’m a sole proprietor; I AM my business. People associate me with Inkling Media. Anything I say on my personal account will affect how people view me. That includes clients and prospective clients. Even if you are one of those people whose Twitter bio reads, “I also tweet for @[businessname] but my tweets here are mine alone and not those of my employer,” you need to think before you tweet. You can throw down all the caveats and disclaimers in the world, but if you annoy or alienate me on your personal Twitter account, and I know that you work for Joe’s Taco Shack, there’s a good chance I’ll go elsewhere when I’m jonesing for a taco.

It basically comes down to whether or not you have a filter. This can either be your own internal filter, or an external filter, or both. I normally have a pretty good internal filter. I find that in both the personal and professional realms, there are certain topics I’ll avoid. Those include politics and religion. Oh I have very distinct opinions on both of those topics, and I might make the occasional mention, but I also know that Twitter might not be the best realm for discussing them in any meaningful way. 140 characters of text can certainly limit understanding and cause confusion.

Additionally, I also tend to avoid any sort of profanity or off-color humor. I don’t really speak like that in my real life, so why should I talk like that on Twitter or Facebook? I know that there are some people I follow that I would NEVER want to work with based on their “sense of humor”. Often, I might even unfollow them if it gets out of hand. Some folks seem to wear their brashness like a badge of honor. Sorry, I’m not buying.

I also have at least two external filters in place. Very often you’ll hear someone say, “Don’t put anything online you wouldn’t want your mother to see.” Well, my 77-year old mom is one of my filters. She subscribes to my blog via email, and while she doesn’t understand most of what I blog about, just knowing that she’s reading my blog does have an effect on what I write. For instance, while I don’t use profanity, my mom’s definition of profanity and mine, are decidedly different, mostly based on being from different generations. I remember my mom making a big deal about one of her grandchildren using the “F-word” once. I was shocked that one of them would use it, and then discovered that to her, the “F-word” is “fart”. Yup. That’s my mom. Needless to say, the word “fart” won’t appear in my blog (but I’m more than OK using it here on Marijean’s blog! Hope your mom doesn’t mind, MJ!)

My second external filter is my 21-year old daughter. She recently joined Twitter as a way of being a part of the Tony Awards. But, now she’s there. And she follows me. She’s a great kid and we get along really well, but knowing that she is reading my tweets does make me pause from time to time. She’s kinda nosy and won’t hesitate to question me on things. So I’m now learning to put my tweets through an “Elizabeth Filter.”

Do you have a good filter in place? External, internal or both? What rules do you have in place for yourself? Are there certain types of language, behavior, or content that you don’t like seeing on Twitter, Facebook, or other social platforms?