Next week is going to be busy: a class and a webinar!

Linkedin Centipedes at 2010 Bay to Breakers.

I have two things coming up next week and decided to share them here!

On Tuesday, I’ll teach a class on LinkedIn for business.

On Thursday, I’ll lead Lunch & Learn Teleseminar: Social Media 101 With Regina Walton – Sponsored by FCN & NAGC.

I’m just excited for both. Check them out!

Now I have to get some lesson and presentation planning in.

Photo courtesy of smi23le on Flickr.

Repost: How to Engage your Facebook Fans

It’s been over a month. I know! Over a month.

My apologies, but I’ve been busy working, and that’s an excellent reason to be busy 😉

Part of the work I do is social media management, I thought this was an interesting enough presentation to share. There are a few small grammatical errors in it, but the basics of what they’re discussing is good enough to overlook the small kinks.

Check it out:

Facebook becoming big friend of small businesses

I thought this was an interesting article. I’ve been running on both cylinders, so I saved the link so I could post it here. The title captures it. Facebook is a friend to small businesses. You really don’t need it if you’re a large brand. However, even large brands see the value of having Facebook fan pages. If you’re a small business and you’ve got to realize that Facebook now has not just college students. Facebook now has your friends, your parent’s friends and, much to the dismay of many, your parents. The bottom line is your customers are on Facebook and they actually join Facebook fan pages.

Facebook is a virtual gathering place where people can catch up and talk. A lot of that time is spent sharing links and talking about their favorite things. If they know a business they like is on Facebook, it’s very likely they’re support it as a fan.

Here is a story from the LA Times about how this is working for one business.

Facebook becoming big friend of small businesses

 

Firms are building fan bases on the social networking website and using it to connect with customers.

FacebookCharles Nelson, president of Sprinkles Cupcakes, manages the Beverly Hills company’s pages on Facebook and other social media websites. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / October 14, 2009)

 

Charles Nelson, president of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the Beverly Hills baker to the stars, doesn’t have a Facebook profile. Nelson, who works seven days a week, has no time for chatting online with Facebook friends.

But Nelson is logged on to Facebook all the time. That’s because more than 70,000 people have declared themselves fans of Sprinkles’ Facebook page, which has its own “vanity URL” at www.facebook.com /sprinkles.

Each day on the website, Sprinkles announces a secret word, such as “ganache,” or “bunny,” or “tropical,” or “love,” and the first 25 or 50 people to show up at any of its five stores and whisper that word get a free cupcake.

“On Facebook, we can ask our customers what’s the next location they want,” Nelson said. “What do they think of our next flavor? It’s an amazing way to communicate with our fans.”

Facebook is not just for friends anymore. The free social networking site — blocked in many workplaces as a potential time-waster — is increasingly becoming an inexpensive marketing tool for small businesses.

Sprinkles is among a growing number of mom-and-pop businesses taking advantage of a relatively new program on Facebook, one that allows them to claim their name, become visible even to folks who aren’t on the site, and stay in close contact with their customers. The business, in effect, can act like any other person on Facebook, posting status updates and seeing what its fans are doing.

Facebook doesn’t break out figures for small businesses but says it has 1.4 million business “pages,” with an average of 100 fans per page. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a speech in New York last month that every day, 10 million people become fans of pages. (Many of those pages are for random concepts, such as the beach, or laughter, or even one called “I don’t sleep enough because I stay up late for no reason,” which has 3.5 million fans.)

Businesses need to go where their customers are, and increasingly these days, that’s on Facebook and other social media sites, analysts say. More than 300 million people have signed up for Facebook, and half of them visit the site every day.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen this increasing uptick in businesses realizing that their customers are on Facebook,” said Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of monetization product marketing. “If they can create a presence in Facebook that allows customers to connect with them, it can be a way to strengthen that connection and also to find new customers.”

Plenty of other sites are also wooing small local businesses. The review site Yelp, Citysearch and a host of Yellow Pages sites are all making a push.

And typically, businesses don’t stick to one site such as Facebook. Instead, they spread their presence across the social media landscape, including MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn. Increasingly, these sites connect with one another so that a status update on Facebook becomes a tweet on Twitter, or a blog post could be pushed out to several sites.

“Companies don’t have a lot of resources to create their own website,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a social media analyst at Altimeter Group. “Using these sites where the customers already are in their communities makes a lot of sense.”

Janet Rothstein, who runs a jewelry shop in Beverly Hills, used a company called MerchantCircle as her gateway to the online world, and she has since obtained a Facebook vanity URL for her page, where she has 63 fans. Having an online presence in so many places increases the odds that when someone searches on Google, they will find her.

Facebook is increasingly finding itself a rival of Google. It believes it can offer more relevant search results because the content is coming from people you know and trust, especially in the hotly contested field of local advertising.

“We are naturally really well-positioned to create a lot of value for local businesses,” Facebook’s Kendall said. “When you think about how you learn in the off-line world about local businesses and services, which cafe, which dentist, you learn a lot of that from the people you trust and are friends with. Facebook is able to streamline that process a bit.”

Yet Google remains the king of search, and Facebook says its pages frequently turn up in the Google search results.

That’s important, said Avichal Garg, a former Google employee who now owns PrepMe, a Palo Alto company that offers online test preparation.

His Facebook page drives traffic and sales because “it ranks well in search and people use search for companies they haven’t done business with before,” Garg said in an e-mail, noting how Facebook has brought in about 5% of his new business. “Facebook is a trusted domain so people click on it and when they see the faces behind the company name, they know we’re legitimate.”

“Having the vanity URL and presence on Facebook and Twitter really help,” Garg said.

Social media help companies take control of “the Google resume,” said Adrian Lurssen, a vice president at JD Supra, an online legal site based in Marshall, Calif. When people search for your company — or for what your company sells — you want your site to turn up in the first 10 results, or the first page Google delivers.

Nelson of Sprinkles agrees. Fans of his cupcakes (actually, his wife, Candace, is the pastry chef) shower Sprinkles with praise — and word-of-mouth buzz. Their Facebook friends all see when they comment on Sprinkles’ page. “You’re looking for customers but you’re really looking for advocates,” Nelson said. “We’ve never had paid advertising in five years of being open.”

business@latimes.com

IBM Study: The end of advertising as we know it

This is a great study on where advertising is going.

It’s not my work. I’m just helping spread the news.

So, again, a partial quote with a link over to the original post.

Enjoy!

IBM Study: The end of advertising as we know it

madmen1

The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did.

The information for this post is from an IBM global surveys of more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising experts … the report is titled, The end of advertising as we know it.”

Imagine an advertising world where ... spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats surpasses traditional, one-to-many advertising vehicles, and a significant share of ad space is sold through auctions and exchanges. Advertisers know who viewed and acted on an ad, and pay based on real impact rather than estimated “impressions.” Consumers self-select which ads they watch and share preferred ads with peers. User-generated advertising is as prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots.

As bait for you to click over, IBM has a report and you can download it from the Social Media Today page.

So get to clicking!

Corporate Twittering – Best Practices

After having great Labor Day weekend and, upon my return, a great afternoon nap, I’m up late and reading.  I found an interesting blog post on Tom Humbarger’s blog, Social Media Musings, titled Best Practices for Corporate Twittering.

I had an unexpected amount of comments when I simply reposted Grant Criddle’s “Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why”.  Now the topic of Twitter and enterprise (aka business) catches my attention.  I was surprised that it got sent around Twitter and that people stopped by to comment.  It made me realize that people are curious about how Twitter and social media relates to business.  It’s a hot topic.  It’s still a very new twist on business and it’s something that people are talking about now.  For most, Twitter is new.  In an economic climate where money is still tight, people are trying to figure out how to use this free but influential resource.

Humbarger breaks it down into three simple sections.

  • Getting started
  • Getting your message out
  • Following people

Nothing he says is controversial. It’s just a simple guide to help businesses get started.

He ends with a link to The guide to corporate Twittering.  It’s laid out in a nice table, so you visually inclined folks might like it better.

So do you agree?

Now that I’m Twittering for a business, I have to say I do use tools like Hootlet, which I started off using just to help me improve how I use my personal Twitter stream. I try to make sure to spread news about what the business is up to, but I’m careful to try to balance it with other things people might find interesting. Why not just broadcast? I hate it when  business just promotes itself.  I think of it this way, it’s like being at a party and talking to someone who is self-absorbed. That conversation isn’t going to last very long before I excuse myself and move on.

Also, is there anything you’d like to add?

Facebook Marketing, Part 1 and 2

A good pair of videos on Facebook Marketing.

Social Media and Return on Investment (ROI)

A great new slideshow about social media and how to measure return on investment by Oliver Blanchard who writes The Brand Builder blog.

Check out his post too:  Social Fresh, good friends, and the definitive Social Media ROI presentation

Twitter for Business and Enterprise? More Risks?

Great pic from TechDust.com! Although, I guess, the bird should have the gun if you think Twitter is risky

Great pic from TechDust.com! Although, I guess, the bird should have the gun if you think Twitter is risky

What do you think about that question?

Let me give you the background on why I’m asking.  An interesting thing happened yesterday. I decided to post a blog post talking about Twitter. I thought was interesting. Basically, the point of the piece is to highlight how Twitter can benefit just about any type of business.

Like I wrote in the subtitle of this blog, “It’s just a conversation.” That’s why the piece resonated with me.

That’s what I truly believe. It’s a conversation on Twitter. It’s a conversation on Facebook. It’s a conversation if you’re having it in your living room with close friends. The only thing that’s different is the means by which we’re talking and the rules that control how we say it. Twitter is really strict. You’ve got 140 characters, period, to get your point across. You can cheat with links to longer content, but you’ve still got to engage that person in 140 characters or less to get them to click.

The piece “Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why” is from Grant Criddle’s blog, Plugging into the Social Media. He gives exactly what the title says, seven reasons how a business can benefit from using Twitter.

  1. Build and expand on your network – form relationships

  2. Top of mind awareness with customers and prospects

  3. To learn – about anything and everything

  4. Listen to what people are saying about you

  5. Learn about the competition

  6. Transform your customers into raving fans

  7. Lighting fast customer service

I think that’s a pretty nice list. I have to admit with my mobile wifi provider, Boingo, that’s how they turned me into a raving fan. I mentioned them just in passing on Twitter. I’d never thought to see if they were tweeting.  However, they were monitoring tweets, read mine and responded. Cool!

Then when I was having issues with not getting a signal and wasn’t able to get through on the customer service line, the person manning their Twitter stream was really helpful. They’ve not always been that responsive, but, overall, they’re doing a lot better than other business I’ve mentioned on Twitter. Now I don’t expect every business to do this. When it happens, however, you remember it. When you can get a quick customer service responsive to a simple question online, that makes an impact.

I got one comment from Beirut from the ThoughtPick blog.  She focused on the negative aspects of Twitter:

…it also has the ability to allow for a less secure network at the office, waste employee’s time as well as more room for property loss/theft.

You can click over to the debate she’s having on the ThoughtPick blog: Twitter for Enterprise Debate: Would You Use It For Your Own Business?

I decided, however, to answer her at length here. When I finished, I realized I’d written a blog post ;)So here is my reply:

…can you please give a hypothetical showing how Twitter is significantly different from any other form of communication?

You can have employees blow hours of their time or steal via email or the phone too. However, businesses send press releases and pitches via email simply because it’s made it easier and you have people doing business via the phone constantly.

It’s a new way to communicate, so those risks you mention? They apply to all the ways we communicate.

Business have communication policies and confidentiality agreements that they subject their employees and business partners to. I wouldn’t expect any business to let their employees loose on Twitter without applying the similar and specially-tuned policies and confidentiality agreements for social media. It gets a bit more tricky with business partners but the same can apply in those situations.

I will agree that since the Internet can be indexed and searched in a way that phone calls can’t or that emails can’t that the impact and exposure can be thousands of times more intense IF it goes viral.

But if you’re using Twitter in the same way that you’d use TV, radio or print for advertising, people can record and post that media on YouTube too.

You need to train employees and not let them loose on Twitter. If you do, then, like the early days of email or the telephone, there will be risks that people won’t consider. In fact, people still make email errors and send or forward things to recipients that they ought not.

I, however, don’t see Twitter or any other social media site as SIGNIFICANTLY more risky than more traditional ways to communicate.

The impact of a leak can be huge, but that would have to be intentional. Something like that is easier to see done via email. In fact, we’ve seen sites like Gawker.com publish emails and memos they’ve received from employees who want to expose something or someone.

In the case of a disgruntled employee that tweets a link to a confidential memo or takes a screen shot of an email, it would be the same level of risk to a business as a fax or a forwarded email because now that information can be posted on Twitter, Facebook or put up on a blog.

In fact, a direct leak on a Twitter account would possibly be EASIER to trace back because you have IP addresses and email addresses associated with the account that could be traced, monitored and searched. You’d also have prima facie intent to share that information, if someone sent a tweet.

They would have to upload the memo, shrink the link of the memo so that it would fit in the 140 character requirement and then write (or maybe just send the tweet without text and that might relieve the need to shrink the link). Anyway, that example, shows that it might be a bit more difficult to send out and easier to trace back to an employee if it’s a tweet. If an employee wanted to expose something maybe, a photocopier and a letter mailed without a return address would be better for them because, while slower, it might be harder to trace.

Twitter and other social media sites are just new ways to communicate. They have similar risks. Businesses need to consider those risks, but this is a ship that has already sailed. I wouldn’t advise any business not to use social media. I would advise a business to be smart about it and consider how to make it work for them.

So, what do you think?

“Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why” from Plugging into the Social Web

For all of those businesses that ask why Twitter is relevant to them.  This is a great post by Grant Criddle at the Plugging into the Social Web blog.

I’ll keep my comments short: read, learn and digest.

Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why

Posted by: Grant Criddle on: August 20, 2009

Twitter is an incredibly helpful business tool if you do the right things with it. People are reading so much about Twitter and how essential it is for business that they sign up without even understanding why or how to use it.  These “experiments” usually don’t last long.

With new things people often jump in, and then they jump right back out when it “doesn’t work” for them. All that’s really needed to get the most out of a business tool is an understanding of why it makes sense.

Here then, are 7 reasons that Twitter is a must have for any business.

1. BUILD AND EXPAND YOUR NETWORK – FORM RELATIONSHIPS

Everyone agrees that business cannot exist without people. We all maintain a personal network that consists of friends, family, work colleagues, professional contacts, customers or clients, etc, and our network grows when we meet new people and form some sort of relationship with them. Twitter makes it possible for you to seek out people with similar business or personal interests, add them to your network, and form relationships with them. The lifeblood of every business can be found in the people who make the business run, and in those who buy from the business. It’s always about people and their networks.

2. TOP OF MIND AWARENESS WITH CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS

If you are willing to put a little of your personal side into your tweets, be interesting and funny while still being informative, you may not have to work too hard at staying top of mind with your customer or prospect base. Next time they need the service you offer, they may think of you and your company just because they remember you from Twitter. They feel like they “know” you, and that you’re part of their personal network. People prefer to do business with people they know.

3. TO LEARN – ABOUT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING

The Twitter community is a diverse one that talks about anything and everything. When you’re in business, you often have questions about your particular market or industry. Twitter is very unique in that you can follow conversations that revolve around specific subjects (www.search.twitter.com), giving you a unique window into how any market development, situation or trend is being perceived. The conversations will also quite often include links to further information or commentary.  I love this capability and search for conversations about interactive marketing often. The only thing I have to be careful about is managing my time – there’s so much stuff! I could spend hours going through it all.

4. LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU

Twitter provides a terrific opportunity to monitor the reputation of your company or your brand.  Companies may not always like what they hear, but they must at least know what’s being discussed. Let’s face it, people talk. You’re certainly not going to spy on your customers or prospects or bug their phones to see what they might be saying about your company (at least I hope not), but with Twitter you can sort of eavesdrop! You are able to search by keyword to monitor conversations about you or your company, and its products or services. Knowledge is power as the old axiom says. Twitter makes it easy.

5. LEARN ABOUT THE COMPETITION

Can you afford to not know what your competition is doing on Twitter? What is everyone is saying about them? What kind of reviews are they getting, good or bad?  How about who they are following and who is following them? You might even want to follow some of the same folks and read their tweets.  When has competitive research ever been easier?

6. TRANSFORM YOUR CUSTOMERS INTO RAVING FANS

Every company needs customers to stay in business, but the most successful companies transform lots of their customers into fans. You can probably think of someone right now who “swears by” a particular brand or company, Harley-Davidson for instance. If you are doing a great job for your customers and providing a good product and/or service, then you’ve probably got some fans.  If you invest a little time to really take care of those fans, they’ll take care of you.  They’ll not only tell the people in their network about you, they’ll recommend you. They’ll rave about how amazing you are. Twitter provides you with a platform to connect with your customers, thank them, offer specials to them and just plain let them know that you appreciate them. It’s instant. It’s easy and it’s effective – if you’re sincere.

7. LIGHTNING FAST CUSTOMER SERVICE

The main goal of customer service is to help someone resolve their issue. The key to great customer service is the speed and quality of your response – people simply don’t like to wait. Twitter is a lightning-fast platform that can help sift through and solve problems quickly. If it’s a small issue, a single tweet may be enough. For a more complex problem, you can initiate a deeper conversation with the customer. The speed of the first response is what makes people feel like they’re being taken care of. Have you ever been put on hold when you call a customer service line? How does that make you feel? Great customer service gets talked about, and this can lead to more sales and more attention. Twitter is one of the most viral platforms around, which can make one happy customer into a big story.

Is it a must that every business be on Twitter? No, not every business but I would say most. A business shouldn’t use Twitter if not a single one of their customers, potential customers or competitors is using Twitter.  So if you run a business on an isolated tropical island and you sell to customers who don’t have electricity, you might not need Twitter.  However, that doesn’t apply to most of you. Get started and remember to:

  • Make customers aware of your presence
  • Be engaged in the conversations
  • Track the conversation around your company, brand and market
  • Respond quickly and transparently to questions or mentions
  • Be authentic
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