Saturday, March 17, 2012

Find Your Pot o' Gold!

     It's St. Patrick's day, so we're all hoping for a bit o' the luck o' the Irish!   That's well and good when you're hoping someone will stand you a pint of Guinness, but you can't rely on luck ENTIRELY and hope to move your business forward in the online world.
     Herewith, we present some tried and tested tips for helping you compete in your business social media dealings.

1)  Get around.  Your online brand presence is not just your window to the's the window through which the world sees YOU.  Drive your conversations to what your business needs - after all, you know best!  (Unless you are Netflix or Bank of America, but enough on that subject)

2) Quality vs. quantity.   This is a no-brainer.  Quality always wins.  Again, your online presence is your 24/7/365 representative.  It had better look good.  Better a smaller amount of really, really good stuff...than overwhelming your audience with a ton of bad stuff.  Think about it, and think about the websites you follow, then act accordingly.

3)  Content matters.  This goes hand in hand with number 2 above.  Keep that content fresh and relevant.  Honestly, is there ANYTHING as annoying as a website or communication system that hasn't been updates in months?  (Please don't say anything about THIS communication, I know it's been since February, but hey, I do other things, too!)

4)  Stay true to your message.   You're not the only one out there who can spot a fake a mile off.  Figure out what you want to say, say it, then say it again.  And again.  And again.

5)  Video is your friend.  Use multimedia efforts in your website and in your communications.  People expect it, it's easy to do and you'll reap benefits.  For example, why tell someone how your company refinishes flooring, when you can SHOW them?  Think of your multimedia as a movie trailer - you want to entice people into seeing the WHOLE PICTURE.

Follow these five tips, and faith and b'gorra, you'll soon find yourself discovering a pot o' gold - and maybe a lucky leprechaun or two in the bargain!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Komen Omen

                         The Komen Omen

     Sorry, couldn't resist the title.  By now everyone knows about the Susan G. Komen foundation move to pull the plug on funding for Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings, based on Komen's new internal protocols.  Now, let's stress that it's THEIR foundation and they can do whatever they please with their money -- but seriously, couldn't anyone at Komen see the subsequent train wreck coming?
    It's not within the scope of this blog to pick and choose political sides, so let's just lay out the facts.  

  1)  Earlier this week, Komen said it would stop funding of breast cancer screening by Planned Parenthood. The Associated Press reported the change came because of a new Komen policy forbidding grants to organizations under official investigation -- which Planned Parenthood is, as follows:  in September, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce - one of whom's members is Republican Representative Cliff Stearns -  began an investigation into Planned Parenthood over the organization's "compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions. 

   2)   In its response to the Komen Foundation move to defund Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings, the group CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said  "the (earlier) move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.  In responding to questions about its decision, the (Komen) foundation cited as its rationale a sham 'investigation' into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns," who the group called "one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress." (see 1 above)
    The group went on to say that the Komen foundation had "succumbed to political pressure" by cutting its funding for breast cancer screenings amid increased scrutiny by Congress over how Planned Parenthood provides abortion services.

   3)  The Komen foundation earlier this week denied that its decision stemmed from politics.

   4)  Subsequently, Komen said the change wasn't driven by politics but was instead an efficiency move.

   5)  Meanwhile, The American Life League said in a statement that the foundation's decision was justified, as did many other pro-life movements.

   6)  Finally, today, Komen said they would continue their funding of Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings.

    The initial Komen decision led to a tidal wave -- no, make that a tsunami -- of epic social media proportions.  Faced with a deluge of opposition that included pressure from congressional lawmakers and internal dissent, Komen today reversed itself on its initial decision.

   As we've said before, politics has no role in this blog, so let's just tote up these three takeaways from this experience.

1)  No one at Komen paid the slightest bit of attention to what happened at Netflix; ie, if you're going to make a big change, you'd better think it through from all sides before pulling the trigger.  For instance, you don't (or shouldn't) make chess moves blindly.  Your business (or foundation) deserves the same forethought.

2)  No one at Komen moved to answer the flood tide of Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts that were haranguing them for THREE DAYS.  That, folks, is an eternity to be quiet, and the situation will quickly spin from damage control to out of control.  As one crisis management executive said, "You don't want to be thinking up the press release when you are under pressure."  

3)  No one at Komen apparently thought about the pressure that could be brought to bear on them through social media.  Anyone remember Bank of America's failed attempt to tack on a $5.00 surcharge last year?  It got harpooned through social media and Bank of America withdrew (for now) the idea.

     So there it is.  Businesses, not-for-profits, foundations -- are you paying attention to social media now?  Because you know what?

     Social media is paying attention to you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Twitter and the Telegram

     Is Twitter a part of your business social media plan?  It needs to be.  The latest figures show there are some 100 million active users.
     Now, granted, you can only Tweet a message of 140 characters or less, so economy and phrasing of message are paramount here.  For over 155 years, a telegram would have been the closest thing to Twitter.  Economy and phrasing of message ruled, since most telegram carriers charged by the word.  A Tweet costs nothing in the relative scheme of things, but that's still no reason to be a Chatty Cathy in its use.
     That being said, what's the best use of Twitter in your business social media portfolio?   Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey opines that "Social is just one part of what we do.  We think of it as an information don't have to tweet at all.  The biggest value is finding out what's happening in your world in real time."
     Use Twitter to promote your brand and get your message out to your followers.  Use it in conjunction with email campaigns and other methods of business social media. 140 characters can cover a lot of ground if you map out your message and get right to the point.  Unlike the old school telegram, Twitter is instant, is delivered to millions of people at the same time, and has virtually no costs associated.
     Oh, and if you're still old school, I have some bad news --Western Union shut down its telegram services on January 31, 2006.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tweets and Disaster

    The recent Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Italy brings a staggering lesson to light:  how well would your company deal with a crisis?
    We'll skip over the captain's explanations ("it was a blackout"  "it was a technical error"  "what rock?") and move forward to your business social media team.  Gone are the days when you had time to prepare a statement for the press and the public.  Now, the event can and will overtake you before you've had time to gather your thoughts.  This means that your team needs to be on board, on the ball, watching the world and NOT getting caught with their collective pants down.
     One of the world's leading public relations firms is Burson-Marsteller.  Their chief global strategist Dallas Lawrence has some thoughts on how your team perform damage control quickly and efficiently, but more importantly, effectively.  His complete article can be found here:
and it would be worth your while to read it before you need it.  In the interim, here are Dallas' six important thoughts on managing a crisis in the Twitter age.
1)  Begin with the basics
    Vince Lombardi, when he took over coaching duties at the Green Bay Packers, famously told his squad they would begin at the beginning.  He held up a football and said "This, gentlemen, is a football."   Can't get much more basic than that.  In our world, the basic is that YOU ARE ON LINE.  If you company doesn't have a Twitter account, isn't on Facebook, stop reading NOW and GO DO IT.   And remember, one account isn't all you need.  In your need for branding, etc., you will need extra accounts.  
2)  The media is on Twitter
     Yep, the media uses Twitter as a method of obtaining stories and facts.  Wire services like Reuters and Associated Press use Twitter, as do many journalists.  Do you know which journalists cover your business and others like it and why?  These are the folks you need to get a handle on and communicate with.  It will pay big dividends when and if the time for damage and spin control comes.
3)  Check your headline
    Here's one that was an actual newspaper headline:  "Most Homicide Victims Don't Talk to Police."   Really?  I guess the cops don't want to engage with the homicide victims that WILL talk to them.  The point is, your headline on Twitter is very important.  Many sites utilize an auto populate function that will continue to perpetrate a headline that, if taken out of context, may well do more harm than good.
4)  It's a video world
    If you don't think video isn't important, let your mind wander back to the unfortunate incident late last year in which a FedEx deliveryman was captured tossing an expensive monitor over a fence.  FedEx reacted quickly, including video from the senior vice president of US operations who offered an apology.  You can read about it and see it here:   
     A rapid response video posted on Twitter can head off a lot of problems, but the key is RAPID RESPONSE.
5)  Watch for squatters
     Yes, squatters can and do sit on things cyber other than websites.  They also lurk around Twitter, and it's going to be a lot easier to get rid of them BEFORE a crisis than during and after.  Here's a link to Twitter's copyright and trademark protection policy that you should put into play if you see squatters hanging about your fringe.
6)  Add up your advertisements
     Sometimes it seems the entire world is one big advertisement.  And to a large degree, it is. Are you getting your fair share of it?  There are an estimated 250 million Tweets daily.  If you're not out there promoting yourself on Twitter, start now.  It's the only way you'll stay in, and ahead of, the game.

Monday, January 16, 2012

email vs. Twitter


   Stop and think for a moment:  which carries the greater impact?
   A:  being bombarded by ping-pong balls, one ball at a time, all day.
   B:  having a single 14 pound bowling ball dropped on your head.
   If you answered B you'd be correct.  Answer A can be irritating, of course, but you'll remember the bowling ball for days to come!
   That's kind of like it is in the continuing battle between email and Twitter or any other kind of business social media you may use.  The business social media is great for keeping up on a day to day and moment to moment account, but who saves twits and other such messages?
    The old fashioned email should be in play at your corporation as a mass market medium.  It's the electronic version of the old blast-fax.  Emails tend to stick around after they are read.  Emails with coupons or other items will be printed.
    Emails are also more likely to be trusted.  Would you correspond with your bank through Facebook?  And while we're on the subject, you should rarely if ever communicate thoughts, processes, ideas with company colleagues through Twitter.  Email is the only way to go here.
    This has been a short post, but it has a quick point: don't relegate email to the back burner.  Make it a part of your business social media strategy.  Reach your customers in every way you can.
    To quote an old cyber thought from days gone by:
     "You've got mail!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Brave New World


   2012 is here!  I hope everyone's year is getting off to a great start.  I enjoyed taking some downtime during the holidays, but now it's back to work on a new year of business social media blogging.
   First, "Cyber Monday" following "Black Friday" was huge.  More money was spent on that day than on Black Friday -- which should be a warning shot to everyone not practising their business social media.  If you're not online, you're offline.  And that means you're flatlined.  DOA.  Kaput.  Finished.
   More people than ever are connected via smart phones.  There is just NO EXCUSE for any business not to have a cyber presence in 2012.  Is your website up to speed and updated?  Are you sending out emails to customers and prospects?  Are you giving them a reason to click on your site?
   Advertising Age's digital magazine lists five facts to look for in social media this year.  The full article can and should be read here:
   For the quick takeaway, here's what to expect in 2012 from writer Matt Wurst.

  1) Facebook is going to continue to evolve.  The major fracas over changes a couple of months ago has quieted down now, but there are more changes on the way.  If you don't keep up with them, you're going to be more lost than the cast of a past show that crash landed on a desert island.
  2)  Google+ has passed the 65 million user mark.  Still not up with Facebook, but certainly a force to be reckoned with this year.  Is Google+ really something you should be interested in?  Well, think about this: When was the last time you heard someone say "I'll Facebook it" when they were looking for information?
  3)  It's time to get serious about paid media support for your Facebook and other pages.  A media strategy that combines fan acquisition and fan engagement tactics is now a must-have.
  4)  Mobile, mobile, mobile.  Your customers are no longer tied down to a home computer.  They haven't been for some time now, but the massive move toward smartphones has really set them free.  They expect to get things from you EVERYWHERE, and that means EVERYWHERE THEY ARE AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT.  Time is money?  Yes, but mobility is more money.
   5)  Lead, follow, or get out of the way.  It's an old saying, but it's true in today's digital business social media world.  You cannot set your yearly outlook and then stick with it no matter what.  It's got to change and adapt moment by moment.  Tattoo this thought on your soul:  business social media is a LIVING BEING that is CONSTANTLY in a STATE OF FLUX.   A shark that stops swimming sinks - and a business that stops monitoring their digital business will follow suit.

   Have a great and prosperous 2012, and keep your business social media running at full speed!   

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's not your mother's Black Friday anymore!

     Are you ready?  Black Friday is upon us!  For many businesses, this is the make it or break it beginning to the make it or break it shopping season.
     In the old days, your mother's Black Friday depended solely on foot traffic at the brick and mortar stores.  It still does, judging by the crowds we'll see at Best Buy, Target, WalMart and etc.  But now -- if your business social media isn't addressing Black Friday, you're going to be missing out on a lot more traffic.
     Every year, the number of people who do their shopping online increases exponentially.  Those people who are glutted on turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie are going to be couch potatoes, but they won't be alone.
     No, they'll be armed with their smart phones.
     Merchants are offering online only deals (see the last blog entry on coupons) and are expecting to reap huge benefits from them, as well.  Hopefully your business is among that number.  Online only outfits like Rue La La, Amazon, Gilt and HSN will be competing for that shopping dollar - even as folks stand in line to get into the stores.  What could be better?  Shopping WHILE you are standing in line???
     Did you know that almost ten percent of of e-commerce purchases made in October came through mobile devices?  That's up about 3 percent from last year, according to research from IBM Coremetrics.
     AND -- about 43 percent of Americans with cell phone service own smart phones.   Amazon says the number of its American customers shopping on smart phones has nearly tripled since last year.
     So...get out there and sell through your business social media.   The brick and mortar stores are adding salespeople -- and now, you need to think about adding IT people, as well.  Punch that message out there, and don't be shy about doing it, either.
     It's not your mother's Black Friday sale anymore.