Tag Archive - business

Google+ Joins the Social Media Playground

playgroundphoto © 2006 Azfar Ismail | more info (via: Wylio)

What do businesses need to know and do right now with Google+?

Keep your backyard Social Media Playground flexible enough to adjust the layout when a new toy gets introduced to the market.

Early reports look good. With its invitation only roll-out, social media obsessives like me were pumping Twitter networks yesterday to angle invites from friends already there. We liked what we saw. All it took was an invite and a gmail account to get me hooked.

What do Businesses Need to Know:

I hope you didn’t fall so in love with your Facebook page that you made it the inground pool centerpiece of your social media strategy. Facebook owns the platform and loves to change its rules. Arguing with Facebook is as effective as negotiating with the Borg in Star Trek.

If you built the inground Facebook pool, get ready to make adjustments in your other backyard space. Facebook grew too confident and comfortable with its market dominance because there was no viable competitor. In recent months, and especially in recent weeks, I’ve heard varied frustrations from people sick of Facebook. Why?

  • Teens don’t want to hang out on the same block Grandma and Grandpa do.
  • Facebook games lost their luster.
  • Recent spam attacks that showed pornographic images put wavering users over the edge.
  • More people are frustrated at how difficult it is to negotiate with Facebook if they delete your account.

Real competition will force Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to all up their game. This morning, Facebook added sorting and reputation features to comments.

What do Businesses Need to Do:

  • Get an invite to Google+ for at least one person on your social media team. Start playing.
  • Vary the toys on your social media playground. If all you’ve had is the Facebook pool, it’s time to try the Twitter trampoline and the LinkedIn Playhouse.
  • Get thee to WordPress and Youtube. Go blogging with written and video channels. (The Youtube/Google+ connection could become much bigger.)
  • Go mobile. Design your website for mobile. Value added apps your customer uses can make your sales boom.
  • If you choose to stay Facebook only social media marketing, prepare yourself for the day your Facebook pool becomes as relevant as a backyard museum designed for Pet Rocks.

If you need help getting started with Twitter or LinkedIn, I can help. If you don’t know who to go to to create an app, design your website, or set up your blog so you not only win search but make more money, ask me for recommendations.

I know some super talented pros in each of those areas who can help – WordPress design, web design, blogging, video, and app development and would be glad to give you a referral.

Can You Hear Me Now, Walgreens?

Wow! I had an incredible experience at Walgreen’s yesterday. It had suddenly started snowing in Evansville, Indiana. I ran into the Walgreen’s on north Green River Road. As I checked out, I was blown away.

Mary, a beauty advisor helping as a cashier, listened to the concerns of the older lady checking out in front of me. The lady was scared about the snow and ice. Mary listened to her, comforted the lady, and wished her well. She took the simple job of checking someone out and made a real connection with the lady. At the same time, she did her job quickly and well.

When it was my turn, she was equally friendly to me. I was so impressed that I checked into Walgreen’s and FourSquare to tell them what a great job their employee had done.

A friend responded, asking if they answered me.

I wish I had been able to say yes. So I looked up Walgreen, saw they were on Twitter, and again told them I had complimented them.

No answer.

Their Twitter feed shows that they do post some promotional info. They have 13,000 followers.

However, at least yesterday, they were not monitoring their at mentions to see what customers were saying.

What an opportunity. Twitter is not a broadcast medium. It is a method by which to build stronger relationships with customers. 

Lesson for businesses:

  1. If you’re on Twitter, monitor your feed. Answer customer comments in real time, and you’ll build customer relationships for life.
  2. If you think you’re not on Twitter, your customers already are, and you don’t know what they are saying.
  3. If you have great employees like Mary, who already get how to listen and engage customers, train them in social media and make them part of your social networking team.
  4. If Walgreen’s ever sees this blog, or my Tweets, I truly hope someone will tell Mary that on a snowy day in Evansville, she did a great job, and customers noticed.

Thanks, Mary, for making a snowy bad day a little better. And thanks, Walgreens, for hiring great people.

9 Steps to Starting Social Media

“How do I get started?” people ask when they decide to try Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for business.  Follow the same steps you would take when planning a long distance business trip. 

  1. Plan. Before you take a business trip, you decide why you’re taking it and what you hope to accomplish. “Go somewhere and business will come” is not a sound strategy.
  2. Train. Before you drive a car on a business trip, you learn to drive the car. Riding in a car does not translate into instant driving skills. You learn the rules of the road, safety tips, and more. Driving lessons take time. Give yourself time to learn to use social media.
  3. Organize. Decide who will go. Who do you send on business trips, and how do they best represent your unique brand? What will you do when you get there?
  4. Budget. What tools will you buy, and which freebies will you leverage?
  5. Equip. Travel is mobile. So’s social media. Get a smartphone so you understand your customers better.
  6. Target. Who is your dream customer, and how can you best find that niche via social media?
  7. Converse. Listen to your target customers, respond, and ask them questions. Build a relationship.
  8. Streamline. Over time, social media takes less of your time. Tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and NutshellMail can help you use social media on a schedule.
  9. Evaluate. Measure results. Experiment with various strategies and determine which work best for your customers. This will help you set short and long term goals.

The key to social media is the word “social.”  It’s about people.

If you can…

  • Balance the personal and the professional..
  • Be real and be smart while you’re being transparent…
  • Listen and respond….
  • Build your own brand indirectly as you build up the community around you….

Social media will help your business not only survive but thrive.

Open for Business

“We’re open for business.”

Those words can be hard to say with a smile in a tough economy. What you are when times are tough shapes who you will become for a lifetime. Others have made it. So can you.

The Copper Lion, Inc.Ten years ago, my husband and I started our own home business, The Copper Lion, which does digital illustration and retouching for ad agencies.  Nine years ago on a Saturday night, we were paged at a baseball game. “Your house is burning,” a neighbor told us.

We raced home to a street of fire trucks. Friends met us. When the fire was out and heat levels were down, the fire chief gave us 15 minutes to remove any needed posessions. Friends helped Richard haul his office equipment out. They pushed, dragged, pulled, and carried his basement office equipment up what had been basement stairs, now littered with construction debris and insulation.

Sunday morning, we wore borrowed clothes and took our kids to church, kneeling in desperation – no home, no business, and no idea what would happen next. We moved to a friend’s house, and Richard set up a temporary office in a spare bedroom.

Monday morning, we returned to the shell of our home. The ceiling and roof were gone. We had water and phone service but nothing else. I needed to wait for fire inspectors and our insurance adjuster. First step: hung the American flag outside. Second step: set up a card table in the driveway and a long phone cord so I could answer the phone.

At 8 a.m., a client with a deadline called after he heard about the fire. I told him, “We’re open for business. Your work will be finished on time. And we’ll finish any other jobs you can send.”

Richard stared at me. “I’ll get to work.” He left and finished the job on deadline.

For the next 3 months, we lived in a 2 bedroom, 800 square foot apartment. Our kids called our bedroom “Dad’s office” because he worked in there, keeping our business going. I supervised the insurance claim and rebuilding.

Many would say a 1 year old business with a fire is most likely to close. By the grace of God, and with hard work, we are still here 9 years later.

When things are at their darkest, don’t give up your hope. Great opportunities present themselves in big disasters. Remember to be:

open for business.