Category Archives: Social Media

A Google Challenger?

An Italian mathematician is launching his own search engine to challenge Google.

Massimo Marchiori claims to have developed a radical new view of what a search engine can be. He
has posted a cryptic video describing his vision at Volunia.com. You can also sign up as a beta tester
for his new search engine.

The twist in this story is that Massimo contributed to Google’s original search algorithm. So you could
say he has a little “inside” knowledge on how to improve it.

Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have always acknowledged the value of Massimo’s
contribution to the Google formula. So it will be interesting to see whether Google tries to acquire or
squash the new search engine.

The video Massimo has published doesn’t give a lot of detail about what his new search engine does.

That makes sense since he doesn’t want competitors to figure it out and beat him to the punch line.
But there are some interesting suggestions.

One scene indicates the search engine provides a much more accurate result. It’s described as a new
way to fish, and the way it’s presented is kind of funny.

When I watched the video, it occurred to me that this in one of the reasons that print yellow pages have
had a resurgence over the last couple of years. (Yes, the big, clunky book you use as a door stop is
being used more often by consumers.) Search engine results got so off target that people turned back
to the yellow pages because they know they can find what they’re looking for.

Google saw this happening to and did a lot to improve their local search results. For geeky types like
me, this makes it even more interesting to see what Massimo has come up with that he thinks is
radically different.

Another scene in the video seems to indicate that there’s a social component built into his search
engine. And this is where I started to lose interest.

The scene shows one person “connecting” with another person on the other side of the world. Well,
this is a big part of what’s wrong with social media right now. So I’m not sure we need more of the
same.

Silas, my dog, is a black lab and I think he’s great. This does not translate into me wanting to connect
with black lab owners at all, let alone in another country. Although I’d make an exception for a friend or
relative living in another country. And then we’d be connecting because of the relationship rather than
our pets.

So I’m interested to see what Massimo has in mind, but the last thing I need is another Facebook.

A big question is how this new search engine is going to make money. All the other search engines do
it by selling advertising space. If the new kid on the block gives much more accurate results, that could
mean a greater ability to match ads to search terms. Targeted advertising is always more successful,
so it would definitely be appealing to business owners.

The plan is to launch the new search engine this year, and to launch it in 12 languages. So they’re
pretty serious about developing a good product.

Click over to volunia.com and watch the video for yourself. Then answer me this: No matter how good it
is, do we need another search engine or social media site?

Social Media Success Formula

You’re doing everything the “gurus” say to get fans and followers, but no one is turning into a buying customer.

That’s because those cow-pattie-gurus want you focused on all the ACTION that’s taking place. Then you might not notice that there’s no PRODUCTIVITY happening.

Just pick your favourite guru and look at their Twitter account. They probably make a big deal out of the huge number of followers they have. But take a look at the number of people they’re following and ask yourself this:

  • Are they really paying attention to the thousands of people they’re following?
  • Is it even possible for them to be paying attention?
  • And if the gurus aren’t paying attention that means they’re teaching everyone else that it’s okay to not pay attention.

So it’s not your fault that you’re following their advice and no one is paying attention. That is, after all, what they teach.

Let’s have a look at what really does work in social media. And you can hear what I have to say on this week's Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Since social media is also called Relationship Marketing, stay focused on relationships. Get people you know to connect with you.

You see, social media is different from “normal” life. We’ve all been taught the analogy that life is like a pond. The action you take is a stone dropped into the pond. The ripples reach out to impact everyone in your life.

Social media is more like a sandbox. The action you take drops in the sand and stops. Plop.

To get other people to pay attention to your action, you need friends to pick it and show it around. This is why you start with people you know, and who are interested in what you do. They already have an interest in YOU – what you do is less important.

Sure, they have an interest in knitting, car repair, or whatever it is you do. But they pay attention to you because you let your personality show through and you’re fun. More accurately, you’re entertaining.

When you put something into social media (whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the thousands of other social media sites), your friends, patients, clients, and business colleagues pay attention because it’s entertaining. Things that are entertaining get and hold our interest. They can also be educational and useful (just think of educational TV).

Tell me if I'm hitting the mark with this week's radio show.

Here’s the secret ingredient to why you start with people you know: You ask, beg and plead for them to tell you whether what you’re putting into social media is entertaining.

Ask them to tell you if something you do whether something you do is good, bad, crappy, great, or most importantly – whether it’s boring. You can do something that’s completely corny. As long as it’s entertaining, people will pay attention.

Just think of comic strips. There are all different kinds of comic strips that are successful. Dilbert is very short and witty. For Better Or Worse is a longer comic that deals with everyday family life. Peanuts is about a boy and his dog.

Each is entertaining and has a fan base.

Make the people you know the beginning of your fan base. These are people you can call on the phone or send an e-mail to asking what they think. And if the answer is “I’m sorry. I haven’t had time to look.” Then you know you’re missing the entertainment goal.

Oh, and keep in mind that when you ask someone for feedback, you need to give them a reason to look.
Do something more than send an e-mail saying “Hey, look at my latest update, please.”

Tell people how you’re being entertaining. Tell them you posted a really cool video, or a link to something you know they’re going to be interested in. Show your friends what’s in it for them. Then you get their feedback on whether they liked it by asking about the resource of video.

So here’s the Social Media Success Formula in bullet points:

  • Connect with people you know first
  • Decide to be entertaining and useful when you post to social media
  • After you post, get people to pay attention by telling them how you’re being entertaining or useful
  • Get their feedback by asking about the content you gave
  • Gauge the success of your post by whether people pay attention to the content

We’ve had a lot of success with this, and I’d like to know how it works for you.

Come back and leave a message after you’ve tried it. You’re welcome to ask questions, and if you’re not sure your material is entertaining – just tell me where to find it. I’ll look and give you an unbiased opinion. And you're welcome to give your opinion of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Small Business Marketing Success With Social Media

Most small business marketing is still missing the boat when it comes to making profits with social media. That’s because most of the advice those businesses are getting isn’t even good enough to use as fertilizer.

In this week’s episode, we look at specific examples of how the media and cow-pattie-gurus are making the matter worse.

Then we move right into proven, tested methods for using social media profitably. I also give you a resource you can explore to get help with social media if you want it. They charge a fee, of course, and they’ll be worth every penny.

Come back here Wednesday for the article titled "Social Media Success Formula."

Because it’s the holiday season, we wrap up the show with some practical advice for keeping yourself safe in social media and on the internet.

Thank you for listening, and for reading. Be sure to tell me what you like about this week's show, and especially if there's something you didn't like. Leave a comment by clicking on the article title. That takes you to the page where comments can be posted.

Social Media Security And Digital Payments

Can you remember walking past a Salvation Army Bell Ringer last year and feeling guilty because you didn’t have cash in your pocket? There’s a cure for that.

The Salvation Army is rolling out mobile payments for passers-by, so everyone can answer the call of the bell. We look at how they’re doing it, and even how you can use the same technology for your business.

Get this week’s episode.

And we have an update on last week’s story about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. Anthony Hardwck, the Target employee, has attracted a lot of media attention for his petition to get Target to close for Thanksgiving. He has also gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

This week, we look at what’s happening and which store started this mess in the first place.

Listen in to know which store to avoid.

And facial recognition is going mainstream. It might even be in the last digital billboard you walked past.
We wrap up this week’s show “looking at” facial recognition and facial detection. It’s far more commonplace than you might think, and even than you want.

It's time for all of us to start paying attention to our social media security.

 

Does Social Media Impact Retailers?

Consumers are starting to dislike Thanksgiving Sales.

More than one consumer is considering skipping the Thanksgiving Sales this year. That’s because, instead of starting at 4am Black Friday several retailers are planning to start their sales at midnight Thanksgiving Day.

As you might imagine, lots of folks are speaking up about this on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They’re not happy, and they’re using social media to voice their displeasure.

Now, we all have to admit that big sales are somewhat less than social occasions. Sometimes they resemble mass riots or war zones. But Thanksgiving is definitely a social occasion (even if we’re not entirely thrilled with Uncle Fred or Aunt Edna). That’s what has a lot of dedicated Black Friday shoppers saying they're ready to throw in the shopping bag.

Target, Macy’s Best Buy and Kohl’s are planning to open at midnight Thanksgiving Day. Wal-Mart is planning to start some of their sales at 10pm.

These sales are a big deal. The shop-‘til-you-drop crowd often start lining up 3 or 4 hours before the stores open just to be in a good position when the sale starts. As recently as last year, shoppers could be at Toys “R” Us for the 10pm opening Thanksgiving Day, get to Wal-Mart for a wrist band at 2am (guaranteeing a spot for their 5am sales start), the hit Kohl’s at 3am, Target or Macy’s at 4, and wrap up with Best Buy after stopping off at Wal-Mart.

Now that all these stores are kicking off their sales at the same time, shoppers are going to have to pick and choose which sales to participate in. And that is going to have negative consequences. After all, shoppers who went to 5 stores last year simply can’t make all 5 this year. That means somebody has to lose sales.

And how does this fit in with social media and the impact it has on retailers?

The answer lies in a recent study from Market Tools.

Market Tools recently published the “Social Media and Customer Feedback” survey. They found that 44% of retailers surveyed believe we do not comment or complain about their products and services online. Another 22% don’t even care enough to have found out whether we’re complaining about them.

Based on those results, I was very surprised to read the rest of the survey and find a high percentage of companies responding to customers through Facebook and Twitter. According to the survey, 54% of retailers using Facebook always or often reply to out comments and complaints. That number falls a little to 42% on Twitter.

So on one hand we have 66% of surveyed retailers either not believing we talk about them, or just not caring whether we do. And on the other hand, of those that are paying attention, many are making an effort to respond and interact. So what is social media’s impact on retailers?

While we hear a lot of the cow-pattie gurus touting the praises of social media for business, it’s clear that businesses are quite a bit slower to accept social media as a credible source of information.

Wal-Mart is an excellent example. The New York Times presented them with evidence from Facebook, Twitter and blogs that customers are unhappy with sales starting Thanksgiving Day. Their response was “customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early.”

There’s no question that “social media” is here to stay. Heck, what we’re calling social media is only a technological progression of all the gossip, rumor-mongering and press that has been around for centuries. So far, very few individuals and companies are using it in a coordinated and effective fashion.

So far, the impact of social media on retailers is minimal. (As an interesting side note – even e-commerce accounts for only 1% of the world’s economy according to the CIA Factbook.)

Rather than pay attention to the squawking that’s going on in social media, retailers are going to pay attention to sales figures for Thanksgiving Day. After all, we know that most of the folks making a lot of noise now are still very likely to be standing in line for sales come Thanksgiving Day.

Actions count far louder than conversations.

So when you’re looking at how to incorporate social media into your marketing mix, take all the hype and hoopla with a grain of salt. While I certainly recommend making the effort to respond to customers who complain – regardless of whether it’s in person or through social media – always give more credence to what people do than what they say.

There is a distinct possibility that retailers are going to lose sales this year. But that loss will have very little to do with social media.

Last year, the sales started in staggered fashion. This allowed people to shop at multiple stores. Now most of the sales are starting at the same time - midnight Thanksgiving Day. So the retailers are going to lose because people simply can't be in two places at once, and there's an ingrained perception that a sale is only worthwhile when you get there at the beginning. This is why people line up four hours early for Black Friday sales.

And let's keep in mind that we're in a poor economy. Although some may not be able to participate in the sales the way they did before, most who can afford it will participate to an even greater extent. The stupendous bargains of Black Friday are an excellent way to stretch a dollar.

What we would all do well to listen to is the message that customers are displeased with two things:

  1. The change to cherished holiday shopping traditions. Waiting for sales to start is often a very social time.
  2. The inability to fully participate in the social nature of shopping because it now overlaps with Thanksgiving Day.

The retailers likely to come out on top this year are toy stores (because parents shop for their kids before themselves) and the J.C. Penny's. J.C. Penny is keeping its usual 4 a.m. opening time, so they're going to stand out from the crowd.

What do you think? Do you care when stores open for Black Friday sales? Should retailers immediately cave in to complaints, or wait to see what people do?

Facebook and Groupon Losing

Facebook and Groupon losing ground with the government and investors.

The FTC  has already reached agreements with Google and Twitter over privacy issues. Now they’re close to reaching a deal with Facebook.

Unfortunately, the privacy problems seem to run a little more deeply with Facebook. That might be why the New York Times article indicates part of the deal includes Facebook submitting to privacy audits for the next 20 years.

In a follow-up piece to last week’s anticipation of Groupon’s IPO, we take a look at what happened after day 1.

Although the IPO was a success for Groupon – and for the investment bankers who raked in $50 Million in fees – it has been somewhat tempered by losses starting on day 2.

And we wrap up the show with a look at how social media is impacting social media.

It begins with a look at how people are responding to the announcement that several retailers are intruding on our Thanksgiving by opening at midnight Thanksgiving Day. Then we look at a study published by Market Tools that shows most business owners are not listening to what we have to say through social media.

And that leads us back around to Facebook, and their persistent reluctance to listen to user dissatisfaction with their privacy policies.

Ad Agencies Failing With Social Media

US ad agencies – 95% of them – are using social media to identify potential clients for themselves. Unfortunately, their social media efforts are only generating 10% of their new business.

That just has to hurt...

This news is from a study done by RSW/US and RSW/AgencySearch. (Ironically, two divisions of an ad agency.) And it’s reminiscent of the news that came from Nation’s Restaurant News in 2010.

Then it was restaurant owners going whole-hog into Facebook. Their customers, on the other hand, were less than interested. So while 65% of restaurant owners were using Facebook Pages, only 3% of their customers cared. Still, that’s 50% better than what the “pros” (ad agencies) are accomplishing.

Hear my take on why ad agencies can’t even find the boat at www.smcande.com (It’s short for Social Media: Cheap and Easy, and it reads like candy. Perfect for Halloween.)

Ad agencies, after pouring lots of time energy and effort into using Facebook, have discovered that only 2% of potential clients prefer to be contacted though Facebook. Something tells me they’re saying “oops,” and someone – maybe a few someones – are now looking for alternate employment.

In fact, of the options provided, most US marketing decision makers prefer to be contacted via e-mail (79%). Snail mail comes in second at 41%. And LinkedIn vastly outperforms Facebook with 16% of decision makers accepting contact from ad agencies.

Simple Truth: Social Media cannot save a sinking ship. But it can certainly sink a healthy ship.

Most business owners hear me say that and immediately think about people bad-mouthing their business. Just like information piracy, bad reviews are really not the problem. Just look at the success Domino’s has had by publicizing bad reviews.

Social media can ruin a healthy business precisely because it takes time, energy and effort. Getting an account is free, using that account can be a huge drain on your resources.

After you listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy, listen to the previous two episodes. In them, we take a look at a company called Collective Bias. They’re an ad agency – although completely unlike any other ad agency I’ve encountered – and they’re getting social media right.

Where ad agencies can’t get a grip on social media – Collective Bias is producing increases in the range of 51% for year over year sales.

The key element is HOW they’re using social media.

In carpentry, and all trades, there’s an adage that the tools don’t make the carpenter. It’s how you use the tools you have that makes the difference. And while everyone else is focusing on Facebook, Collective Bias is making effective use of the most powerful social media tool available: Blogging.

They have a massive community of bloggers with engaged audiences. They also keep a healthy distance between those bloggers and the brands. Why? Because the brands would poison the well – often without ever meaning to, or realising they’re doing it.

I could go on for pages and pages. So seriously, you need to listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy, plus the previous two episodes. Then come back here and start posting your questions and comments. It’s time for every local business to give the boot to ad agencies, and start enjoying some real success with your marketing.

 

Social Media Politics, Agencies Admit Failure, Yahoo For Sale

Social media is used in Egypt to change the government, and in Mexico to keep people safe. But in the U.S. it’s being used by politicians to bicker and throw mud. Is it just me, or does this seem incredibly out of whack?

As politicians of all stripes follow Barack Obama’s precedent setting social media campaign from 2008,

I’m starting to wonder if they can really be this clueless. After all, what have they been doing for the last 4 years? They’ve had no particular use for social media since 2008, yet they expect us to engage with them now that they’re hopping on the bandwagon.

Listen to this week's show at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com

Another social media flop is ad agencies. A new report from RSW/US and RSW/Agency (2011 New Business Report) found that while 95% of U.S. ad agencies are using social media to identify potential clients, less than 10% of their new clients are coming to them through social media.

Evidently they didn’t pay attention last year when the Nation’s Restaurant News published the results of their own industry survey. In that case, it was specifically for Facebook, and they discovered that while 65% of restaurants were using Facebook to market themselves only 3% of their customers were interested.

Naturally, the agencies blame social media for the poor results. Listen to this week’s show for the real reason why they’re getting no social traction.

And we wrap up the show this week with a look at Yahoo being on the bidding block. Google and Microsoft are interested in financing a purchase, although neither company wants to directly own Yahoo. Strange, but true.

More importantly, there’s a particular line in this story that really raised my ire. It ties everything together this week, and is a stinging indictment of all the profiteers and opportunists. This one piece is the best possible evidence for why we need to revive capitalism.

The Bloggers of Collective Bias

MaryEllen Tribby says blogging is dead, but these bloggers boosted sales at K-Mart this spring by 51% over last year. Don’t seem dead to me...

There were 4 bloggers from Collective Bias at the Shopper Marketing Expo last week when I stopped by. And I got to meet a fifth blogger from Chicagonista.com at a social event that evening. We cover what they do, and how it fits in with Collective Bias on the show – www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com – but I want to give you some more detail about the bloggers, what they do, and how to find them.

Let’s start with who they are and where they write.

Liz and Douglas are a husband and wife team. (Last names left out as a courtesy. Visit their blogs to find out more.) They blog full time and maintain 3 blogs plus 6 e-zines. They have a combined audience of about 10,000.

Liz and Douglas maintain

Vanessa is a Chicago mom who blogs part-time, and contributes to Continue reading

Social Media And Small Business Marketing – Joining The Conversation

Word of Mouth marketing is the ultimate goal of every business owner. Social media is supposed to the golden ticket for small business marketing, yet less than 1% of small businesses are succeeding with social media? Why?

The flat out truth is that YOUR MESSAGE SUCKS!

On the other hand, there are thousands of bloggers out there with engaged, active and purchasing audiences. And they’re interested in what you sell – whether that’s accounting, home repairs, or doctor’s visits. There’s a blog – a popular blog – for every interest.

Hear the truth at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com

Collective Bias has built a community with over 1,200 of those bloggers. Their results are phenomenal precisely because they’re tapping into the conversations that are already happening. Just like we talked about in last week’s show with the Occupy Wall Street movement, the UAW contract talks, and the Sims Social game.

So in this show, I walk you through what Collective Bias is doing with their bloggers. It’s something you can do for yourself – just hook up with an already popular blogger. Now, I won’t kid you. Tracking the results takes effort, and the payoff is well worth that effort. A campaign done earlier this year for K-Mart resulted in a 51% increase in year-over-year sales.

Then we take a look at what’s in it for the social media services. We know what’s in it for us as business owners, and some of what’s in it for us as consumers, but have we really thought about what’s happening to our information?

Get my social media prediction at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com

We wrap up the show with an in-depth look at how you can tap into the social media that’s happening all around you. The conversations are already in motion; all you have to do is join in.

There’s a special question for you at the end of the show. Collective Bias wants to know what you think –whether you’re really listening or just sitting on the sidelines. Show us you're more than a bystander - leave a comment here. We'll close the comments after we hit 100.

Be a leader at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com