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?

Good Security Articles

There are two great articles I came across while researching this week's show.

One is from USA Today. It's about free applications that let you find your laptop or smartphone when they're lost. I got a lot from reading this one.

The other is from ComputerWorld. It's about securing your wireless network.

The cool thing about this article is that I actually knew what it was talking about. 🙂  A friend helped me secure my wireless network last year. He does all the computer work at the company he works for, and actually understands all the tech stuff.

Be sure to pass these articles on to your friends.

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

 

Small Business Marketing 100 – Premiums Outperform Discounts

58% of US Facebook users EXPECT to gain access to exclusive content, events, sales, discounts or promotions for no better reason than clicking a "Like" button.

Talk about an over-weaning sense of entitlement.

These results from an Exact Target study are nothing new to us. But it is a little surprising that we haven't been paying attention to what it means for the sort of customer we're getting from social media.

Let's face it, the customers we're getting from social media are bargain hunters. They're only coming for a deal, and their loyalty doesn't last past the cash register. So why are we settling for such crappy results?

Probably, likely (in my opinion definitely) because today's social media gurus are stuffed full of old-fashioned - even mainstream - "throw-mud-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks" marketing concepts. They're the sort of person who thinks ads on Facebook are social media marketing.

Every marketing test done show that discounts bring in low quality customers. They also show that premiums consistently outperform discounts in terms of response rate, customer quality, and how long the customer stays with you. That's because there's a fundamental difference in attitude between the bargain hunter and the rewards shopper.

That's why credit card companies and airlines (and most other successful companies) have rewards programs rather than discount programs.

The obvious question at this point is what kind of premium can we use to tap into the other 42% of US Facebook users who might be of higher quality and deeper loyalty?

The answer lies in remembering that social media is also called Relationship Marketing. This week on SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com we devote the entire show to exploring this topic.

The premium is the relationship, the conversation and the social interaction inherent to social media. It's also the key to the small business marketing goldmine: word of mouth advertising.

Listen to this week's episode on SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com to discover four examples of conversations that are happening right now - and why they're happening. We also look at a small business that is connecting business owners with the conversations that are happening in social media.

And those conversations are not all happening on the "big" social media sites.

Many of them - and most of the conversations among buyers - are happening in a place that most of us have stopped thinking about.

Can Social Media Ever Be Profitable For Small Business?

It feels good to see research coming out that social media marketers believe a social media presence is more important than social media ads. It’s good because I’ve been saying that ever since Facebook introduced ads and called it social media marketing.

This week we look at that research, and more research that shows just what kind of customer small business is most likely to attract through what has quickly become the standard approach to social media.

Tune in to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to hear the details

To show the most effective means of using – and profiting – with social media, our second story looks at current examples of how everyday people are using social media. These are practical examples that show you what your customers want in their social media experience. If your small business is going to use social media profitably, you have a definite need to listen to what your customers want.

To see what works in action, our last story looks at an event that’s happening in Chicago. More importantly, we look at a small business that’s connecting business owners with consumers so they get meaning, and increased sales, from the relationship.

That’s really the theme of this week’s show – relationships. Hear it all at SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com.

The market was fat for a long time. Long enough for small business owners to get the idea that all they have to do is “get their message out there” to pull in customers and profits. We also got the idea that customers were disposable. That’s a big part of why we now experience such atrocious customer service on a regular basis.

It’s also why small business owners are failing to engage or profit with social media. They’re so accustomed to easy sales that in this tougher economy they are unprepared for relationship marketing. That’s what social media is really all about. You’ll see that during the second story when we look at how it is that Sims Social, Occupy Wall Street, UAW contract talks and even Steve Jobs’ passing have become such popular topics.

Listen to the show today at SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com, and leave a comment here so spark conversation.