About Michael Sheehan

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So far Michael Sheehan has created 6 blog entries.

Content Creation & Social Media Advice: Don’t Force It!

By | 2016-10-12T16:51:07+00:00 October 13th, 2015|Content, General, Strategy|

One of the most difficult things being a content producer is, duh, producing content. Whether you are under a deadline, asked to write about something that you aren't passionate about, or your content creation engine is simply stale, getting inspiration to write about something...anything...can be like getting blood from a stone. Content writing should be inspired, otherwise you risk coming across as forcing your writing. And your audience is savvy to this.   Content, whether in the form of writing, photos, videos, or what-have-you, is what fuels social media. Social media allows for content sharing, audience development and engagement, discussion, feedback (even negatively), and subsequent idea generation. Content cannot exist without this. But if your content is not compelling, doesn't tell a story, lacks substance or is simply boring to your audience, you might want to avoid sharing it, or at least, re-work it. The worst thing you can do is just write to have a bunch of words on a screen or piece of paper. Many so-called content "gurus" or "rock stars" make their living by churning out written words laden with keywords or SEO-optimized phrases. While this does potentially accomplish something, by gaming ranking within search engine results for example, if you read these articles, they sometimes lack compelling substance - something that sparks and idea or reaction from the reader. Don't get me wrong, there definitely IS a place for this type of content within a business's content and social strategy, but it shouldn't be the sole source of content. A good content creation strategy should have a balance of content types, whether it is visual or written. Also, it obviously depends on the business type. A consumer brand's content [...]

The Chicken or the Egg – Content or Design

By | 2016-10-12T16:51:07+00:00 July 14th, 2015|General|

Recently, I have had a couple of interesting conversations with some friends who are either interested in redesigning their website or have clients who are doing the same. And, with the trend of flashy and feature-rich WordPress themes popping up left and right, it seems that many people are getting distracted by these “bright and shiny” options to help revitalize their websites or create a new, rich experience online. But, in my opinion, these themes can be distractions on what should be the core focus on any site, the content. So which should come first? The content or design? Some of the "hot" new design trends are capturing attention. For example, it is quite easy to get caught up in the "responsive" design of new themes. Actually, it's quite a good feature to have if you are thinking about reworking your website. Responsive means that your site will scale, hopefully elegantly, to different sized screens and devices. Google search algorithms now look closely at if a site is "mobile friendly" or not and responsive design helps with that check-box. But then come things like parallax, where an image seems to magically stick in the background of a page while the content on top of it scrolls by. It's fancy, it's glitzy, it's eye-catching. And some of the newer themes available for purchase have gobs of elaborate interactive designs, well worth the price of the themes. But as I said, it is easy to get caught up in the design hype. But if you don't have the content to back it up, your design is meaningless. It's like putting lipstick on a pig. It's All About the Content I recently redesigned HighTechDad.com with [...]

How a New Website or Redesign Can Help Refocus your Business

By | 2016-10-12T16:51:07+00:00 October 24th, 2013|Content, General, Strategy|

If you are feeling that you need to shake things up a bit in your business, consider doing a new website or redesigning your existing one. Seriously. The process of re-architecting your web presence is a form of catharsis and rebirth. It can help you fine-tune your existing marketing messages, focus your unique value proposition and re-define your visual identity. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" you respond. That is all well and good, but if you don't take a few risks, the rewards don't come as frequently. In fact, the exercise in re-evaluating how people interact with your business on the web can actually help you refocus your business to better help them. This site, HTD Strategies, is new as of October 2013. Prior to that, it was just a figment of my imagination, a concept and a dream. And then something clicked and ideas moved from my synapses to the digital bits and bytes you see before you. Ideas became reality. While this is an accomplishment, for me the entire process of focus and definition was more rewarding than the actual end result. So I got to thinking, why did it feel so good? As with any project, its completion is extremely satisfactory. There is nothing better than putting a check in the box, after all, we are all ruled by to-do lists, project plans and action items. But as I reflected back on the past couple of weeks, I realized that the process of designing a new website (or redoing an existing one) is actually quite critical to businesses. It's as important as repainting a dingy room or mowing the lawn or building a new addition on your house. Not only [...]

“Don’t Forget Your Day Job”

By | 2016-10-12T16:51:09+00:00 October 15th, 2013|General, Social Media|

I recently crafted my company’s Social Media Guidelines (and had some fun in the process) and was thinking back to one line of advice in that article: “Don’t Forget Your Day Job.” For some reason, that line kept coming up in my mind so I thought that I would explore it a bit more. The problem with Social Media is that it is extremely pervasive AND persuasive. But perhaps this is a good thing as well. Let’s follow these ideas a bit more. Pervasiveness is defined as “spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people”. The entire concept of Social Media is to engage in conversations with friends, family, coworkers and strangers via a variety of different mediums: blogs, forums, wikis, social networking sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Nowadays, building a site that either is purely social or has social components to it is very common. If one does not build in any kind of social aspect to one’s online presence, you are no better than writing in a journal by hand and putting it in a drawer. There is nothing social about that, but of course the choice is up to the author. They might not want their thoughts, feelings, ideas, pains and laughs shared with other. Personally, I think communication is key but this is where other arguments come into play. Social Media takes away true human interaction. People can hide behind a screen and keyboard, assume (dangerously) other roles and personalities, and talk about just about anything. Dying are the arts of letter writing, now replaced with quick emails, tweets, instant messages and the like. People send calendar invitations instead of picking up a phone to ask [...]

Crafting Your Company’s Social Media Policy

By | 2016-10-12T16:51:09+00:00 October 8th, 2013|General, Social Media|

A few weeks ago, I offered to help our Human Resources department create a “Social Media Policy” for my company. While my company didn’t want to impose draconian restrictions on Social Media, HR felt that some rules did have to be created for the good of both the employer and employee. Our head of HR and I spent some time reviewing some other policies as well as discussing the types of things that we wanted to include and how we wanted to present it. We decided that it was important to have guidelines that were clear, yet we didn’t want them to simply say what employees couldn’t do. With a variety of examples in mind, I set out to write something that would be helpful, informative, and clear, yet different and educational in some way. Shown below is the final version of the policy I came up with (with approval from HR). Note, the numbers in brackets are the actual character count as I’m considering publishing this on Twitter. In the spirit of Social Media, specifically Twitter, each sentence or paragraph of these guidelines will be 140 characters or less. [132] When you use social media your actions, writing and content are not only a reflection of you but also the company you work for. [128] There is only one Social Media guideline --> Use common sense![63] Seriously though, there is obviously some "fine print" involved with any guidelines or "rules of conduct." Social Media is no different. [137] First, let's understand what is considered "Social Media." It's Blogs, Forums, Wikis and Social Networks and commenting therein. [129] 7 Social Media Do's - Be Polite, Be Courteous, Be Helpful, Be Conversational, Be [...]

Using Twitter is like Fishing

By | 2016-10-12T16:51:09+00:00 October 1st, 2013|General, Social Media, Strategy|

I'm an on and off fisherman, mainly fly fishing; I worked in a few fly fishing shops in my youth (gasp, I'm not THAT old, should I say "youth"?). Also, recently I installed Flick Fishing for the iPhone and have spent numerous hours on my commute trying to hook fish. Well, that go me thinking. Since part of my job as a Technology Evangelist is to grow my social network so that I can do my job even better and reach even more people, I spend a couple of hours a day (in fragments) working with Twitter. (For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, watch this video as it explains it well.) As I try to communicate about various technological items from software to hardware to other services, I find that sometimes people understand things better through analogies. So here is one to ponder: Using Twitter is like Fishing. Here are some ideas why I think this is: Size matters You have to choose the right "gear" Lures & Baits Catch & Release It's a challenge and a sport It's a social yet individual activity "Casting" is an art Landing the "big fish" Practice makes perfect Navigating the waters Ponds, streams, lakes, oceans Let's go into this a bit more, shall we say, go into deeper waters. Size Matters - with Twitter, there are always people who are jockeying to get to the top and catch the most fish (have the largest Twitter follower count). Some of the big fish out there are Barack Obama (146,500 followers), Kevin Rose (78,000) and Leo Laporte (66,000). These "fishermen" have really forged their way to the top using a variety of techniques [...]