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.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Let's Make a Deal!!!!

     In these wonderful economic times, who doesn't want a good deal?  Your customers certainly do and they are looking for you to provide it through your business social media.
   
     A recent study posted in Online Media Daily says that deals remain the top economic driver to bring people to business social media postings.
   
     The study, by Nielsen/McKinsey's NM Incite reveals that a whopping 60% of Americans hit social networks looking for coupons and other promotional bargains.  Of that number, 23% say they do it on a weekly basis!  And maybe you thought only Donald Trump was interested in the art of the deal!  Need more proof of the interest in the search for a good deal?  Did you pay attention to Groupon's IPO on NASDAQ?
   
     On a global basis, consumers of all ages said that getting discounts and special offers was their main reason for liking or following a brand.  (Remember in the past we've discussed your need to get out their on Facebook and Twitter?  Are you there yet?)
   
     There is one demographic item of note in the study:  consumers aged 55 - 59 and those under the age of 20 were less likely to follow brands for this reason - but these folks are NOT the biggest spenders for most brands, either.
   
    Here's the real kicker, though.  Across a study of ten major markets, including the United States, what do you think is going on with these business social media consumers?  Nearly 40% of these active Web users were hitting the promotion and coupon sites like Groupon and others from their home AND WORK computers this past September.  If you want more, here's the complete study. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/161754/study-deals-remain-top-social-marketing-driver.html         

     Your online presence and your business social media effort is your most tireless salesperson, working 24/7/365.  Are you giving this dynamo the tools it needs to complete your sales?  To drive people to your site?  If not....well....

     Ever see anyone compete in NASCAR without gasoline?

     It isn't pretty.
 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Your Blackberry Customer is Buried



     The recent Blackberry out of service disaster appears to be over, for the time being - though it remains to be seen if Research In Motion can recover, especially in the wake of Apple selling four million plus of the new iPhone while RIM was trying to restore service.
   You, as someone who practices business social media, know how important it is to get your message out to your adoring public - but what do you do when the medium for your message goes south, like Blackberry?  How many of your customers are using iPhones, Androids, etc. and how many are sticking with the Blackberry?  How many folks MISSED your message?
     RIM has stated it will hand out free apps to try and appease customers (good luck with that) but what will you do?  Did you send out a message on a special one time only sale that didn't get through?  An important message about upcoming business functions that didn't get through during the RIM outage?    How are you going to take care of your customers?  How should you take care of your customers?
     Do you re-run the message?  Do you re-do the sale?
     Enquiring minds want to know.  Let us know your thoughts on this conundrum that is absolutely no fault of your own, but requires your instant attention for your customer base.
     And this time, let's hope the message gets out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Texting Could be Your Last Word. Period.

   

Was the message worth it?

     Is texting part of business social media?  Well, yes and no -- texting implies rapid back and forth conversations, while business social media should be well thought out campaigns conducted through social media outlets and email.
     However --
     Composing the text of your emails and etc. while driving is JUST AS DANGEROUS AS TEXTING WHILE DRIVING.
     A new study by the Texas Transportation Institute finds that reading or writing a text message while driving can more than double a driver's reaction time.
     Re-read those last seven words:  more than double a driver's reaction time.
     Researchers found that reactions times of 1 to 2 seconds while not texting slowed to 3 to 4 seconds while texting -- and here's something more to think about:
     The study found very little difference in response times between a driver composing a message and reading one!
     You might think a couple of seconds is no big deal, but a driver going 30 mph covers 220 feet in five seconds.  A driver doing 60 mph covers 440 feet in five seconds.  That means that if you're on the tollway, a freeway, or other road where the speed limit is 60 during rush hour and a vehicle suddenly stops in front of you, there's not enough time to react if you're glancing down at your phone.
     Additionally, drivers in the study were more than 11 times as likely to miss a flashing light while texting or reading.
     Currently, 34 states have texting and driving bans.  Organizations such as the AAA and insurers oppose texting while driving, and with obvious good reason.
     You've built up a great business through your business social media skills -- don't flush it down the toilet with one ill-timed text.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Caught in a Whirl




     There's an old adage about business success -- it's called "location, location, location."  While it was originally intended to apply to real estate, it now applies to the internet and your business social media.  Let's face it -- a billboard that's not being read is no good to an advertiser, and if your social media isn't being read it's no good to you, either.  Ergo the adage, "location, location, location."
     So, where's the big location these days?  Well, Google Plus is beginning to flesh out a bit, but the place to reach people is with your page on Facebook.  Yes, you need a page on Facebook.  You need to have people 'like' your page on Facebook.  You need to talk with people on Facebook.  Given the recent spate of Facebook changes that have/are driven/driving people crazy, it's still the number one place to be on the net.
     According to Citigroup Interweb's analysis, Facebook accounts for a whopping 16% of all US time spent on the web.  Google is in second with 11% and Yahoo third with 9%.  Even more telling, Citi found little migration to Google Plus.  The story is here:  http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2011/09/26/facebook-sucks-up-a-ridiculously-huge-and-growing-share-of-our-time-wasted-online/
     Here's the kicker that should kickstart your business social media into having a lasting presence on Facebook: as the site continues to grow and evolve, it's going to grab up a greater share of the search and advertising dollars.
     Your signature on your tweets and emails should ask customers to "like" you on Facebook.
     Think of it as the vortex of a tornado; the more hits, the more customers, the more customers, the more hits, spinning around and around and around until...
     You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook Fracas, Part Two - You Will Be Assimilated



The Facebook Fallout continues unabated...


it's about the mechanics of change....

     Following yesterday's changes, Facebook is defending them, saying it makes for a better user experience.  Users, meanwhile, continue to deride them, saying it makes for a worse user experience.  I've already seen several defections among Facebook users to Google Plus and I imagine there will be more.
      What's it all about for everyone involved in business social media?   Are there lessons to be learned here and if so, what are they?  
      First of all, it's about change.  Change is inevitable...and as the Borg used to say on Star Trek: Next Generation, "resistance is futile."  Change is required to move forward, though, if it's done badly, it can move you backward.  A happy balance needs to be struck.  Yesterday I related the sad story of New Coke.  That was indeed change, but it was change done badly.  Business social media is a living, breathing organism and it's going to change, and Facebook is no different - but, as in New Coke, the more users/consumers you have who are happy with the product, the harder it is to do any sort of change without upsetting a lot of people.   For Facebook to survive, it has to change and grow, or else it becomes irrelevant and staid.
     For those practicing business social media, think about change in your operations or perspectives.  Maybe when you started out it was simply to get public awareness of your product or business.  Now, you are actively searching for customers, or offering freebies, or any of a thousand other things to drive business to your door through the medium of business social media.  That's change.
     Without that change, your business would no longer grow.  Unless an organism changes to meet current conditions, it fails.  Do you remember MySpace? How many of you are now operating your business social media through that network?
     Now for question two: Are there lessons to be learned here?  Sure.   First, you need to take into account your customer base.  Coke did test studies that led them to believe New Coke would be a hit.  I'm sure Facebook also did something similar (I hope they did, anyway).  However, test groups have been known to give skewed results.  In the past on this blog we've discussed the need to really, REALLY think something through, and that continues to be important.  
     Second, look at your competition, and we can't stress this enough.  What are they doing?  Are they really out in front of you, or are you still leading?  Trying to do a massive catch up from behind can cause more harm than good; you're perceived as being behind, or worse, perceived as being a leader who fell from grace.  For more on that angle, do a search on Research in Motion (RIM) and their disaster with handheld devices after being the industry leader for many years.
     So in the end, utilizing business social media correctly DOES involve change.  It has to, or you will fail.  Who knows which platform will be carrying your message next year or even next month?  If you are going to stay in the hunt, it's time to branch out and hit Google Plus  (www.plus.google.com) or try your wings on another platform.  The more you're out there, the more chances you have - you can't win the lottery without buying a ticket.
     And no matter what change you make, you need to recognize the change you need to make before you implement that change.  If Disney suddenly decided to crop Mickey's ears from round to little fox ears, that would be a change.  
     You decide if it would be a change Disney's fans could live with!


     

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sheer Genius?



     Every once in a while, as a consumer, you get one of those "what were they thinking?" moments.
     Recently, we've had two:  the Netflix debacle, and today the Facebook fracas.  Both lead you to wonder if anyone lucid is running the ship at either place.
     Yes, this is a blog about business social media, so we won't get involved in the Netflix marketing mayhem.  However, we will take a shot at Facebook, which is supposed to be the giant of social networking.
     With little warning, Facebook suddenly changes their page, throwing thousands, if not millions, of users into frustration.  Since you're reading this blog, we'll assume that you are also familiar with Facebook, and what happened today.
     There are three cardinal rules in dealing with customers.  First, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Second, customers (with the exception of all the Apple fans out there) don't usually like big changes or change for the apparent sake of change.  Facebook managed to break both rules at once.
     Interestingly enough, they not only broke both rules, but they failed to communicate adequately with their customer base about what they were about to change, nor really ask their customers about it beforehand.  Which leads to the third cardinal rule in dealing with customers:  you are flattering yourself if you believe you are smarter than your customer.
     Way back in the dark ages of 1985, a little company called Coca-Cola decided it was smarter than its customer base.  They decided to *gasp* tamper with the taste of Coke.  The new concoction was called, oddly enough, New Coke.  Coca-Cola flattered itself by thinking it was smarter than its customers.   Guess what?  It wasn't.  You can read the story of this disaster here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7209828/ns/us_news/t/it-seemed-good-idea-time/#.TnooOHN9038

     So what was the crux of this failed and expensive experiment?  To quote from the article:

     Sam Craig, professor of marketing and international business at the Stern School of Business at New York University, pointed to what he and other industry observers have long considered a fatal mistake on Coca-Cola's part. “They didn't ask the critical question of Coke users: Do you want a new Coke? By failing to ask that critical question, they had to backpedal very quickly.”

      Since it's highly unlikely that any of the whiz kids at Facebook were even alive in 1985, should we cut them some slack for making the same mistake?  Or should we excorciate them for failing to do their homework?
     Be it social media, or business social media, the plain truth is - people get used to something first, then they use it.  
     If your business social media tweets or emails suddenly changed in a radical direction, say by adding popups to them, would people continue to read them?  I wouldn't.  I, like most people out there, detest popups in my email, or any changes to it that make it a) more difficult to use, or b) make me  take time out of my schedule to relearn something that, as pointed out above, wasn't broken to begin with.
     I'd be willing to bet the folks over at Facebook's new competitor Google Plus are laughing themselves silly right now.
     What do you think? 

     
     
    

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Strategy vs. Reality





     Yeah, don't you wish it was that easy?  This is today's "Non Sequitur" strip by Wiley Miller.   Basically, the best intentions and hopes in the world aren't going to save you when disaster is reaching its paw into your aquarium.
     What is your idea of strategy versus reality?  I'd like to hear from you -- leave a comment at the bottom of the post.  In the meantime, while you think about it, here's a quote from the Harvard Business Review from February of 2007.  The article is written by Joseph Bower and Clark Gilbert.


    “What we have found in one research study after another is that how business really gets done has little connection to the strategy developed at corporate headquarters. Rather, strategy is crafted, step by step, as managers at all levels of a company—be it a small firm or a large multinational—commit resources to policies, programs, people and facilities.”
       If you want to pursue it in greater detail, here's a link to the article:  
            In the world of business social media, as in just about everything else, strategy needs to be tailored to fit the reality.  If you are a one person outfit, targeting Microsoft as the company you are going to directly compete against is probably a pretty wide divergence in the strategy versus reality model.
      There is absolutely no need to set yourself up for failure by not tailoring your strategy to your reality.   Before you engage in any sort of business social media, before you take yourself to the public, you MUST have a firm grasp on your own reality and your own capabilities.  This is a very simple thing to do and is a lesson you probably learned as a child, though you didn't realize it at the time. 
      Remember when you played "Monopoly"?  The other players had hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk, owned all the railroads and the utilities, and held the property cards that you needed to complete your own monopoly so you could begin building houses.  Your strategy may have been to eventually build your own hotels, but the stark reality dictated that you conserve cash and just hope to stay alive to play another turn.
     The big takeaway here?  You must carefully pick the the items you are going to commit your resources to - be they large or small - in order to stay competitive!  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Much Does it Cost?

   

How much does it cost?   How often do we ask ourselves that question?  Have you ever bought something without any idea of how much you were paying for it?  (If you answered in the affirmative, I have a couple of bridges in New York that you might be interested in...)  Of course you haven't.  So, why don't you bother to add up costs in your business social media messaging?

     In the world of business social media, "cost" has three meanings.

     1.  "Cost" as in how much it costs you to do something.
     2.  "Cost" as in how much it costs you to do nothing.
     3.  "Cost" as in how much it costs you to do something wrong.

     So - how much does it cost you to do something?  Well, that's based entirely on your overhead, isn't it?  If you are the single person doing your own business social media, well, it costs you your time.  You'll have to figure out what that comes to in cold hard cash.

     How much does it cost you to do nothing?  Difficult to quantify.  Perhaps by doing (saying, emailing, posting) nothing, you are doing yourself the biggest favor since Steven Jobs told someone he was starting a computer company and getting in on the ground floor would cost next to nothing.   On the other hand, doing nothing could also position you as either clueless, indecisive, incapable of action --- you get the idea.

     Finally, how much does it cost you to do something wrong?  A lot, depending on how much you have to lose.  The wrong response, the wrong message - it can easily wreck all of your hard work, and make it that much more difficult for you to regain your edge.

     Add up your expected costs on every single one of your business social media messages, including the ones you don't send.  You might find a big cost saving is literally at your fingertips!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Sympathetic and Strong Shoulder





     Have you noticed it's been busy out in the real world lately?  Hurricanes...tropical storms...wildfires...earthquakes.    Makes you wonder....makes you wonder how you can apply these current events to your business social media?
     At the risk of sounding incredibly crass, you CAN do these applications - but you've got to tread very, very lightly.  No heavy handed stuff here; think of walking on eggshells that are filled with nitroglycerine.
    The key, as Jesse Stanchak reports in SmartBlog on Social Media, is to find "organic, relevant connections" to your audience.
     The full report can be read here:http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2011/08/26/how-to-use-current-events-to-create-content-even-when-youre-not-the-first-to-know/    The salient points are as follows:

     1)  Give people a gentle reminder as to why these events matter - to you and to them, as well.    Gently explain.  Don't adopt a patronizing attitude.  You've got to leave your audience feeling that they have more information on the subject - not that you're some great authority informing them of what happened.
     2)  Give your audience a viable second opinion.  Maybe everyone is endorsing one opinion - but there's nothing wrong with giving them a well thought out alternative;  well thought out being the operative phrase here.
     3)  Give your audience a tiny push.   Remind them of why your business or organization is in business, what you do, and why you do it.  Stanchak says the trick here is to make sure your customers believe you are helping them, instead of trying to sell them something.
     4)  Don't take everything so seriously!  You can use a current event as an analogy to explain something, but don't go overboard with it.   However, NEVER make an analogy out of a sad story, and like the song goes, "you've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em."  Don't stretch a point to the point of distortion.
     5)  Build it up.   If you missed jumping on the bandwagon when the event happened, don't worry about it too much.  Take the approach of feeding ongoing information to your audience, and keep building on that cornerstone.
     6)  Involve your audience.   Maybe you're running out of topics, but you can bet your bottom dollar your audience isn't!  Encourage conversation and feedback.

     Sharing your opinion can, of course, boomerang on you.  You've got to be very careful of how you proceed.  In major events, people's emotions are all over the place.  Position yourself and your company as an entity that's  ready to help and ready to listen.  Position yourself as a source of positive information.
     Most importantly, position yourself as a sympathetic and strong shoulder that can be relied on during a time of crisis - and you'll certainly find you'll be the go-to business when things get better!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Be You!

   
     How often do you ask a friend or loved one's opinion before you make a decision?  Most of us do it quite frequently.  There seems to be something comforting in hearing another human offer guidance.  Contrary to popular belief, we don't all use (shock!) the internet to help us make choices!
     Let's look at some of the salient points from a recent article by Blaise James and Jim Asplund in the Gallup Management Journal.  (for the full article, go here:  http://gmj.gallup.com/content/148694/Social-Media-Three-Big-Myths.aspx utm_source=google&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_term=Social-Media-Three-Big-Myths#2
     Here are three myths about social networking that can also be applied to business social media.

     Myth the First:  Social media initiatives drive customer loyalty and acquisition.
     Fact:                   Engagement with a brand drives social engagement.
     According to the Gallup research, brand-sponsored social media initiatives have little impact on customer's decision making.   Take a look at this chart from Gallup.

   

     Myth the Second:  Social Networking is an online-only phenomenon.
     Fact:                       Social networking predominately happens off-line.
    How is this possible, you ask?  You have to understand two definitions.  First, social networking is the act of engaging a social network.  Second, social media is a medium through which people network.  Notice I said "a medium" and not "the medium."  That's right, folks.  For as much as we love our digital new age, we still like those face-to-face meetings!  It does you no good to continually get the word out through business social media if your customers can't eventually interact with humans, and better still, face to face.  Why do you think trade shows are still so popular?  This trickles all the way down to you just taking a stack of materials with you and showing up at a retirement home.  Same idea.  The media is NOT the message.

     Myth the Third:  All social networkers are the same.
     Fact:                     People use social networks in different ways and for different reasons.
     Using mass tactics to hit your target audience is like using a shotgun to try and hit a bullseye cleanly from 50 feet away.  Mass tactics make the supposition that all social networkers on the receiving end are all pretty much the same, and they are not.  Gallup says its research shows that social networkers all have differing reasons on how and why they use their networks.  Here's the takeaway:  they aren't going to change their reasons, so it's up to you to make the changes that will bring them around to your organization.
   
     It's really simple - Be customer driven.  Be brand driven.  Be aware of your audience.
     Just be you!
   

Thursday, September 1, 2011

You Have to Work to Succeed!



     Here's today's "Luanne" strip by Greg Evans.  The story line so far has been that Knute talked Crystal into submitting a music video to a contest site, using his video and her poem.  Knute banged their entry out in two minutes using his cell phone, and it was rejected by the committee even faster.  Hence his dismay in today's strip that "What's the world come to if you have to work to succeed?"
     Indeed, what has the world come to if you have to work to succeed?
     This blog is about business social media, so this won't be a diatribe about work ethic.  Instead, let's talk about work smart ethic.
     We'd all like to finish our chores in about two minutes, wouldn't we?  But that's just not possible.  The fact that we all connect on social and business social media instantaneously doesn't mean that our job of making that connection should happen at the same speed.  If you're in charge of your firm's business social media, or if you are doing it on your own, you need to take the time to make it right.  You need to take the time to think about the message you are about to send.  Take the time to think about the audience you are trying to reach.  Take the time to think about the action you want your audience to engage in for you.  Take the time to craft your message and check it for accuracy, for proper spelling, proper grammar, proper punctuation.
     The term "instant message" isn't meant to be used in connection with business social media!
     You have to work to succeed!

Monday, August 29, 2011

This Train Has Left the Station


     


     A new study shows that the number of internet users who also hit social media networking sites is continuing to grow.
     Here's the part that should make your eyeballs jump if you're out there using business social media to get your message across:  the only two things more popular than social media among Web users are search engines and email.
     The survey, by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, says social networking site use has doubled in the past three years.  The numbers jumped from about 29% in 2008 to 65% this year; back in the dark ages of 2005, social media usage was at 5% of adults.
     Making it more interesting, this is the first time that over half of adults surveyed have said they use social networking.
     And who are all of these people?  Well, about 89% of women from the age of 18 - 29 who are online use social media sites.  Of that number, 69% say they usually log onto a social media site every day.
    Men are still lagging behind.  Only 60% of all men say they use social networking, compared to 69% of women on the internet.
     What does it all mean?  It means this: 
     The business social media train has moved out of the station - but you've still got time to get on board!



Saturday, August 27, 2011

"That's The Way We've Always Done It"


                     

     Read this carefully.  Repeat it to yourself.   Understand it as a fact that is just as unchangeable as the laws of physics.
     The world is not going to come to you.
     That's right.  The world is not going to come to you.  Oh, you can entice it a bit, sure - and if you're selling bricks, and someone wants to buy bricks, maybe they'll find you out of a million brick sellers on the world wide web.
     Or maybe they won't.
     The point of business social media is to get your name and message out there as well as do the two "P's" - project and protect your brand.  But don't think that just because you are doing that job means you're going to be overwhelmed with customers.
     How many times have you heard - "but that's the way we've always done it."  I would be willing to bet you won't hear it much anymore, because those who don't say it are moving ahead and those who do say it are disappearing at a rapid clip.  The truth is, "the way we've always done it" just doesn't work anymore.  It is not today's business model.  If you want something; i.e., customers, you've got to reach out and GRAB THEM.  They are not going to just walk through your doors.
     So:
     Be proactive with your message.  Take it to the streets.  "The way we've always done it" is as dead as the dinosaurs.    If we did it the way we've always done it, we'd still be tied to landlines for phones.  If you've got something that you've been doing for a long time, invest the effort to examine it from all angles.  Is that method still working for you?  Do you need to tweak it or just ditch it?
    The world is very busy.  It's not going to come to you.
    Ramp up your business social media skills and take yourself to the world - because doing things the way you've always done them is a guaranteed one way ticket to oblivion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Your Old Clothes Don't Look So Good Anymore


 Would you go to work wearing what people wore in the 1980's?  How about the 1880's?  If you aren't keeping up with the times in the world of business social media, you might as well be wearing those old clothes - because your (lack of) customer base is probably seeing you that way.     
     You can't deny the continuing numbers trend. The July traffic numbers are out from comScore, and both Facebook and Twitter posted record traffic in July. Facebook logged 162 million unique United States visitors. That's up from 160.8 in June, and 157.2 in May. See where we're going with this?    
     For you birdie fans, Twitter had the most traffic in its short five years of business. There were 32.8 million unique United States visitors in July, with 30.6 million in June and 27 million in May.  Sure, we can probably attribute some of this to the fact that we are in the traditional vacation months, schools are out, etc. But on the whole, these two social sites are indeed racking up numbers that would impress even Kobe Bryant.

     What about LinkedIn? This more traditional business professional posting site dropped a bit in July. They had 32.5 million United States visitors for the month, compared with 33.9 million in June. Again, maybe it's the summer vacation months that account for this drop.    





      Anyone remember an outfit called MySpace? It lost ground in July, down to 32.8 million unique visits as opposed to 33 million in June. Facebook continues to be the king, outpointing Twitter five to one.

     However, there is a joker in the deck: Googles new Google+ is making some inroads, but as of yet neither Twitter nor Facebook have anything to worry about from that direction     You can read the full article at: http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/21/facebook-twitter-saw-record-numbers-of-u-s-visitors-in-july/

     Get your business social media up and moving in the right direction.  Everyone else is on board, and your old clothes don't look so good anymore!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Always a Wrong Number




     Well, I don't know how it is where you may be reading this, but today is the first day of school here in Dallas, Texas.  While we've spent a lot of time talking about business social media here, let's take a moment to talk business social media cellphone safety - and that message is:
     NO PHONE CALL OR TEXT MESSAGE IS WORTH THE LIFE OF A CHILD.  PERIOD.
     Those warning signs near schools are up for a reason.  You should never be updating your business social media while you are driving, anyway, but you should especially never do it while you are in a school zone.  The first week of school, kids are thinking about everything except watching out for you.
     So fold up those phones in the car, folks.  The extra five minutes you might save while texting and driving isn't worth the cost in a life or in a fine.  Pull into a Starbucks.  Have a cup of joe.  And text to your heart's content.
     Just don't do it in a school zone, because that's always going to be a wrong number.
   

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where Have All the Craftsmen Gone?




     Perhaps the title of this posting should be "Were Have All The Craftsman Gone".    Did you catch the two errors in my restatement of the title?
     Let's say you have been working really long and hard on your business social media skills.  You've got people following you.  You've got the right message.   Too bad yur speling skils and punctuashion arent' up to the task.
     There is an old adage about "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."  Why, with all the work you are doing, would you not use that nice little tool up in your toolbar called "spell check"?  For that matter, why would you have someone doing your postings who can't spell in the first place, and thinks the Chicago Book of Style is a fashion catalogue?  (We won't even go into the Associated Press style guide)
      Here are the three most common errors I see in posts.

     1) Incorrect use (or no use) of the apostrophe.  "It's going to rain" has an apostrophe.   Not "Its going to rain."  However, "Its hands were dirty" is a correct use without an apostrophe. (Ok, maybe that sentence could be used in a Stephen King novel)  The apostrophe is also used incorrectly in words or sentences, like "We're selling rose's." "Rose's" does not have an apostrophe in this use, unless it's a person named Rose and you're selling off her stuff!
     2) Incorrect use of "their" "they're" "there".  Here's a sentence using those three words correctly, along with the two uses of "it's" and "its" as well.  "They're taking their car over there to the garage because it's not running well and its air filter may be dirty."
     3) Incorrect use of "your" and "you're".  Here's a sentence with correct usage: "You're nobody until your Uncle Dan gives you the keys to his Porsche!"

     Let the computer double check for you.  It's not infallible, but it's better than nothing.  A second set of eyes doesn't hurt either.
     You really dont' want people reeding your posts and wondering "Were have all the craftsman gone?"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who's a TV Star? You Are!


     Today's "Non Sequitur" strip by Wiley pretty much says it all about our current lifestyle.   Whether it's TV, a video on your website, a video on YouTube, a blog, or anything else --- do you really exist if you aren't out there?
     According to Wikipedia, television advertising made its debut in July of 1941.  The watchmaker Bulova paid $9 for a placement on New York station WNBT during a major league baseball game.  Until about twenty years ago, video advertising was an expensive proposition, but the power of desktop computers and video editing software is putting it within reach of just about anyone.
    Are you using video as part of your business social media?  It doesn't take that much to get a nice video up and running on your website; perhaps a brief introduction to your business, or a snappy show and tell of your past projects for customers.  It's not within the scope of this blog to tell you how to produce said video.  Let it suffice that you need to find someone who knows what the heck they are doing.  A badly produced and edited video can do much more harm than good.
    Also, don't forget free local TV advertising.  While it's going to be a one-shot deal, if you are really interesting, or have something very unique - there's probably a market with your local television broadcasters.  More and more stations are running multiple hour morning news blocks, starting as early as 4:30 AM in some markets.  Additionally, there are also post news block locally originated morning programs.  They interview local authors, celebrities, chefs, people fronting causes like MADD; if you know someone at a local station, ask them.  If not, find out who runs the morning assignment desk, or is a particular program's booker or producer.
     Record your appearance, get it to a video editor, and hey presto! Something nice to put on your website, as seen on WXYZ TV!  
     Who's a TV star?  You are!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Get an "A"!


                                                                     


     Remember the three "R's" -- readin', (w)ritin', and 'rithmetic?   Well, yeah, you should still have a handle on all three of those, even if you do use a calculator and spell check.  However, there is another set of consonants that you should also have a grip on - the four "A's".
     Today's blog is adapted from one by Kayla Hutzler on Luxury Daily,  The News Leader in Luxury Marketing.  Here it is, for those who wish to read it in its entirety:  http://www.luxurydaily.com/social-video-can-build-awareness-advocacy-for-luxury-brands/
      Hutzler talks about Awareness, Advocacy, Attention and (call to) Action.  These are four vitally important aspects of any luxury brand marketing.  However, even if you aren't selling a Lexus or Breitling watch, it should still apply to you.
     Awareness:  do your customers know who you are?  What you are?  What you are selling?  Are you out there in the marketplace on FaceBook, on Twitter, on any of the other burgeoning social media networks?  Hey, don't forget the old standbys, either.  The demise of newspaper  and magazine ads are, much like the infamous report of Mark Twain's death, greatly exaggerated.
     Advocacy:  are your customers sticking up for you and your brand?  Hey, I grocery shop at Tom Thumb, and at one Tom Thumb in particular.  I drive a few miles to get there, but I like it and the people who work in the store.  And I tell people about it.  This is an example of consumer advocacy. (I'm also a big fan of Lionel Electric Trains, but we won't go into that here!)
     Attention:  are you calling attention to yourself, and in a good way?  Heaven knows we've seen PLENTY of examples of brands calling attention to themselves in the wrong way.  To get attention, though, be it good or bad, you've got to work at making yourself known to consumers.  I'm happy for you that your company has developed a flash drive that also doubles as a mini-micro mighty mite computer with six times the speed of my MacBook Pro.  Too bad no one has ever heard of you...
     Action:  are you telling your customers to get with it and purchase your product?  In the many years that I worked in broadcast news, our mantra was:  Tell them what you're going to tell them.  Tell them.  Tell them what you told them.  
     Practice these four "A's" and get an "A" on your business social media report card!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nobody's Business

  


    Marketers know there are two approaches to the job they are assigned.  Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see if it sticks,  or target a specific audience.  Which do you think works better?  Which do you think is cheaper in the long run?  Yes, I know it costs practically nothing to dash off a Tweet or an email blast.  BUT - how many of us get hit by unwanted Tweets and emails every day?  When the extraordinary becomes ordinary, we tune it out.  Yawn.  Another Tweet.  *delete*   Yawn.  Another sale email.  *delete*
      Are you taking the time in your business social media to accurately line up customers with your message?  Customers will TELL you that they want your messages.  How many of us have filled out cards at brick and mortar shops and restaurants that ask for our email?  Maybe our birthday?  Hey, look, Yummy Restaurant sent me a coupon for a free dessert on my birthday!  Hey, look, there's a sale that's got just what I'm looking for at Joe's Store!
     Is a light bulb going off?  Take the time to mine your database.  Heat up that pick and shovel and dig out what your customer wants from you.
     Then deliver it like nobody's business.   In a short time it WILL be nobody's business -- nobody's business but yours, that is!

Monday, August 1, 2011

He Knows When You've Been Bad or Good...



     Remember as kids...the imminent threat of disaster looming overhead in the guise of Santa Claus?  Remember?  "He knows when you've been naughty...he knows when you've been nice..."  Well, Santa Claus still knows these things...only now, he's checking ALL of your social media and business social media postings!
     More and more prospective employers are conducting social media background checks.  What are they looking at?  Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter - anywhere that you might have committed an unpardonable act of expression.  What are they looking for?  Racist comments...displays of drug use..displays of behavior that are not compatible with daily business life.  You used to have to only worry about the face to face interview...now, a much more focused picture of you can come via your social media postings.
     But wait, you say, that's an invasion of my privacy!  Nope.  The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that companies researching your background of personal time, hobbies, etc. DO NOT violate your privacy.  Here's a fact you may not know:  there's an outfit out there called Social Intelligence.  It searches the Internet for pictures, comments and other information that you freely give to the world.  And then it sells that info to prospective employers.
     But don't worry too much  (you AREN'T worrying, are you?) There's another company called Reputation.Com that may help you present a better image to the world.  This blog does not endorse this action; it's merely here as information.
     So what can you do?  Well, for starters, don't be stupid.  And if that bit of advice has to be explained to you, then you are probably beyond help.  In the meantime, keep a sharp eye on what's out there.  Monitor your Facebook, your Twitter accounts closely.  Check your privacy settings.  Delete things that may be detrimental to your professional life.
    And - yes, this IS a blog about business social media.  So maybe you already have a job while you are reading this.  Everything above goes TRIPLE for you.  Any posting you make, reflects not only on you, but your employer.  And maybe your employer doesn't subscribe to the same views you have.   Advocating anarchy while working for the CIA is usually a good way to get fired.  Get the picture?
     For you literati out there, remember George Orwell's 1984.  Big Brother is watching you.
     For those who prefer a simpler reminder of the same message, well..."he knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake...."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Be Decent at All Times


     The death of singer Amy Winehouse is undoubtedly a tragedy.  It's something the world has seen before; immense talent, uncontrollable addictions.  This blog is not the forum for discussing the former.  What we should be interested in for business social media is the incredible, INCREDIBLE  Microsoft goof in their twitter stream.  Here it is - http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/social.media/07/25/apology.winehouse.tweet.mashable/index.html
This is unbelievable, and Microsoft can do as much damage control as they want to - but it's kind of like trying to avoid the iceberg after you've already hit it and are sinking.  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?  Remember Amy Winehouse by purchasing an album from our site?
     We have touched on this before - your tweets, your blogs, your facebook posts - who are you sending them to?  How will they be received?  In this case, someone at Microsoft took a tragedy and tried to make a buck off of it.  Not unheard of, of course.  The difference in this case is it was on a wider scale than the guy hawking t-shirts down on the corner.
     The point is, whoever is in charge of your outgoing public information needs to always stop and think before sending anything.  While your marketing studies may indicate that what you are sending is the right thing to do, sometimes it's not.  You just never know how the public is going to react.  Anyone here ever served on a jury?  Maybe the prosecution made a slam-dunk case, but the jury became offended by the prosecuting attorney's closing arguments, or any number of other things, and voted to acquit the defendant.  It happens.
     Be proactive, by all means.  Be professionally reactive when you have to (and someday, despite your best efforts, you will).
     But please. be decent at all times.