Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

I have actually been sitting on this blog post for quite some time as I have been very busy with work but figured I would finally share with the world my thoughts on Spam/advertising, especially how it pertains to Social Media, as well as a little run in I had a few months back that inspired this post.

It all with a Tweet that read, “Check out our company on Facebook (with the link) for your Social Media needs.” Never before had I contacted this company nor had they tried to follow me or engage in any conversation I had been in. Naturally I decided to check out their stream and sure enough there were many other Tweets with the same wording. Having been on twitter for a while and suffered through this kind of spam, I will admit that I was more than a little frustrated. I shot a tweet back asking if spamming Twitter was successful for them and left it at that. They responded! Imagine that, an actual person behind the spam! Actually they were not pleased with the term “spam” that I used and said they would not answer the question. After an exchange of tweets of the next couple days (including the owner saying that sending out mass tweets¬†unsolicited¬†without consent was not spam) I did get out of him that it apparently had led to a little business.

After this altercation I began to wonder, is the minimal amount of time spamming the internet worth the 1-2% return (typical direct mail return)? Is there a better way to interact online for a brand that is not well known/service that is not constantly needed? It all goes back to what any number of social media experts stress, engaging the audience and monitoring the channels. My best example on monitoring comes from work I do with the credit union I work at. I have my Google Alerts set up for many different keywords and I check them at least once a day. One morning I came across someone asking about a product we offer. Sent him a tweet and we received a call a little while later form his friend. Unfortunately we were unable to help this specific person but we were there. It was a lead and all it took was a tweet.

I will admit that I am no expert. I love social media and am constantly learning and trying new things. In a field this young, there are few experts to speak of. Learn the best practices and apply them. Engage your followers and make following you worth their while. If you do this you will have a better chance at succeeding than using spam tactics for your online advertising. Stay away from Spam-vertising or you will likely be blocked from the very people you are trying to help. If I am going to hire a firm, I want to know that they are knowledgeable and understand what they are talking about, not one that is on social media only for themselves.

I have checked the company’s stream recently and there is no more spam. Unfortunately there are many posts from Twitterfeed, but that is a rant for another day.

What is your definition of spam?

Lately in the social media world there has been a lot of talk about the geolocation, and rightly so. For those of you unaware, geolocation uses the GPS in your phone to determine where you are. From there, and depending on the app, you can check-in to the place you are and tell your friends. This sphere is getting to be so popular that Facebook has even announced an entrance into the geolocation arena.

Currently there are quite a few players vying for¬†supremacy¬†with clear, current leader. Foursquare is leading the pack even though it was not the first entrant and this is attributed to the game aspect that has been included. In this game you earn badges for completing tasks or can become “Mayor” of your favorite spot by checking-in more than anyone else. The rest of the pack includes BrightKite, Loopt, Gowalla and Whrrl, among others.

While Foursquare does currently have the lead I recently found a new service with loads of potential, SCVNGR. Remember having scavenger hunts as a kid? This has the same premise. SCVNGR runs off of points, you get a point just for checking in and then the real game comes into play. This past week I checked-in at a local Mexican restaurant for a meeting. Upon checking in I was then given the tasks to gain more points; Social Check-in (check-in with friends), Take a picture, Fear Factor (where you take a picture of your food in such a way that it looks like it should be on Fear Factor) and Say Something (those are all I remember).

So what is so good about this new service? This makes the game all the more interactive and all your non-tech minded friends can help you complete the tasks. The creators have also been hard at work speaking with various companies to get a rewards program off the ground. If that does not start your creative wheels turning how about a partnership with the Minnesota Vikings? What does this new service have in store? Growth. I have been watching it for quite some time and only recently jumped in the game with the acquisition of a new phone.

This is currently the only thing slowing growth, availability. For those with an iPhone or Android device I recommend jumping in. The great thing is that you can create a trek and anyone with SMS capability can join in, just not for the check-in service.

My conclusion after playing around with SCVNGR for the last little bit is that Foursquare may need to update a few things to keep their spot on top. The potential for this relatively new entrant is immense and with geolocation on the rise, as well as GPS-enabled phones sales rising, SCVNGR is in a good spot to grow, quickly.

Maybe what they should focus on is making an app available to those without smartphones to get them enthralled with the service so when they finally do go to the smartphones they are already engaged in SCVNGR and will not want to try the other services. Could this be the key to dominance for geolocation to really take off? Only time will tell.

Be formulating new strategy to incorporate these services, I know I am.

Let me know what you think. Have you tried SCVNGR or any of the other apps mentioned and if so what is your take? Or is geolocation more of a fad?

I made this

Recently I have spent some time helping my father build a deck on the back of his home. During this time we had a constant “helper” in Molly, my sister’s golden retriever. My sister received Molly for her birthday 6 years ago as a dog seemed like a fun pet to have. Fast forward to today and Molly gets taken for a walk maybe once a month and gets attention from my sister even less than that.

I took a look at this situation and realized this is what is happening with social media. Much like my sister enjoyed the idea of having a dog, the work involved in truly caring for the dog was too much for her. I think we can all think of a few companies whose pet project of social media seemed like a good idea but the idea of keeping up with the sites (or even monitoring their own Facebook page) is just too much for what they wanted. I have mentioned HTC – North America and their Facebook page before as a great example of this omission.

Why is it so difficult for some companies to really take on the responsibilities that social media brings? I believe one of the biggest problems (this is what has happened with Molly as well) is laziness. This also includes the lack of time management but I am lumping that in to laziness. Social media truly does not sleep and most companies are not used to having a dialog with its consumers. Social media is a 24/7 channel. That does not mean that the Social Media Expert has to be monitoring all day long but your brand name can be mentioned at anytime.

I do understand that monitoring social media can be very daunting and even boring at times, especially when there are so many other things to be done in the marketing world. If you like the idea of social media but are unable to truly act on it, that is ok. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Focus on one site a day. Do not try to overload yourself with social media. Focus on your blog one day, the Facebook page the next and then do the same with Twitter, YouTube or any of the other sites your company uses to interact with consumers. This gives you a focus for that moment and opens you up to multi-tasking later when you feel more comfortable with the social media/work balance.

2. Take 30 min to an hour each morning. Set aside this time to write a blog post, check what happened on Facebook or Twitter. Use this alongside tip number one to increase productivity. Again once you are used to browsing and engaging on every site you will open up more possibilities for multi-tasking but remember to not let the updating of the SM sites to take over your whole day.

3. Bookmark searches. Go look at Technorati and Google Blog Search and enter your brand name into the search. Then subscribe to the RSS feed or just set up a bookmark in your browser. Check these everyday or every other day to monitor what is being said. Check Twitter Search for your brand to see what people have been saying. Also know that abbreviations appear frequently on Twitter so check a few variations of your name. There are other sites to help you along the way, like Google Alerts that can help as well. Check them out and see what you like.

4. Be interesting. You may think that no one will want to hear what you have to say, but that is the beauty of social media. There will always be someone out there that will appreciate your presence. Talk about what interests you and goes along with your brand. This is not a place to push your product… or at least not entirely. You need to actually interact with the customer.

These are just a few tips on how you can treat this pet as a real project and not just an idea. This is also a good time to plug the Social Media Consultant. Yes I have posted about why there should be no need for consultants but let’s face it, there is definitely a need. Just like¬†advertising¬†or event marketing there will always be a need for someone specialized in social media to assist your organization. You need to be careful about who you hire but you can find someone who will actually work hard for you and help monitor the social web while teaching you how to take over control of your social media sites.

Do not let your social media profiles go the way of Molly. Appreciate not only the idea but the execution of the campaign. Social media, integrated with traditional media, will help your company grow faster than it previously has. If you need any tips, more advice or need help running the social media itself, feel free to comment or email me and we can work something out. I can also direct you to a resource for social media experts for your area.

Let me know if you have any ideas for making social media easier to handle!

Quit your day jobIn my last post I spoke about who in an organization should take the reigns of the social media campaign. All the “consultants” (myself included) probably thought they were safe as they are able to do any and everything asked of them. Well truth is that the consultants are not safe.

Social media is a new beast for many companies and as such the need to hire outside help is strong. Not every company can find the right person with enough experience to tackle the set up of a social media campaign from scratch. What they need to look out for is the perception of the company when a third-party takes the reigns. I spoke about Sales/customer service being a huge part of your social media presence. Do you honestly want someone who does not know your products and has 3-5 other accounts to try to handle any complaints that come down the Social Media pipe? Would you not rather have fewer people handling a process? This is what happens when you outsource.

What was that? You say you cannot afford/justify another full-time worker on salary? What if you divided the¬†responsibilities among those already in sales/marketing/pr. Better yet you could hire a part-timer (although Social Media is a 24/7 job)¬†or another “Marketing Coordinator” to help the already stressed Marketing/PR department. Make social media the main requirement but give them other¬†responsibilities to push them along the way.

Yes I understand that I just made myself and many of my friends irrelevant (although I am looking for a full-time gig *hint hint*) and I may take some flack for that but do not fret. No one reads this blog. Even if they did there are still ad agencies out there. This business model will not die with this one blog post. There will always be a need for true social media “consultants,” we just need to make ourselves¬†indispensable. We also need to get rid of those who call themselves gurus, ninjas, rockstars or any other manner of title that does not mean anything. Just because you have a Twitter account and a laptop you are not an expert.

Do you think the consultants should go the way of the dinosaur? Do you want to rip me a new one for exposing the little secret we all know? Let me know in the comments!

Updated: Maybe we should see more “consultants” being hired for a month of two to get the social media up and running, along with the training of the key players. This way the company gets to see how it will be run and the “consultant” (I do like coach better) will not need to go away. This could be a better solution. Small businesses would not hire them full-time as it would not be needed. Would this be a better model than just going in and showing them how it is done?

I love Marketing. Any kind really. Advertising, strategy, social media, guerrilla, viral, you name it I like it and have either experimented in it or actually worked on it. I figure I would talk a little about what has worked for me as well as my general philosophy on marketing itself.

When I take a look at Marketing I really like to see how I can dive into the consumers mind. I take a look at the typical consumer (I know, research!) to see how they think and feel. Sometimes this is already done for me but most times this will include people watching in heavily crowded areas (This is a very necessary skill in Marketing in my opinion).

After I get a feel for who I am aiming at (I never take more than a few hours as time is money), I begin to formulate the channels that will be used. I have experience in a variety of different Marketing backgrounds so my campaigns tend to include a variety of ideas (and I personally prefer ideas that are considered Guerrilla in nature).

Best advice is to go with what you are comfortable with and what fits with your demographic. If you do not understand Social Media, do not go there. You will lose out on business but by not executing a social media campaign well you will be exiling those potential clients for quite some time.

Need help? Let me know in the comments what specific advice you need and I will be more than happy to help you out.