Tag Archives: facebook

Social Media Reality Check

There’s a lot coming at us in 2012. From mobile marketing and social media, and from an election and poor economy. So we need to be prepared to make good use of our marketing and advertising dollars.

This week, we start with a social media reality check.

Yes, mobile phones and social media are growing presences in the marketplace. They are, however, no where near as big as the cow-pattie gurus want you to believe they are. The idea that you “must have” a Facebook Page or risk losing out to your competition is poppycock. And the numbers back me up – listen to the show and check my sources for yourself.

You can listen right away by streaming the audio, or click “Download” and take the show with you on your phone, tablet or MP3 player.

We also take a quick look at a company that’s doing social media very well. It’s Collective Bias, and their primary social media tool is blogging. All of their results are trackable, and highly profitable, so it’s worth paying attention to what they’re doing.

Then we take a look at the truth for what it takes to attract an audience.

Would you be willing to sit and watch a 45 minute video of two scientists discussing Systems Biology? Me neither, but Dr. Hidalgo has an audience of thousands. We take a look at how he has done it, and why you’re able to do the same thing for your business.

And we wrap up the show with how you can use technology trends to benefit your own business.

The Consumer Electronics Show – one of the largest consumer shows of during the year – ran from Jan 10 – 13. There were some decidedly non-tech companies at the show, and they were very smart to be there. You need to know why, and how to follow their example. So listen to this week’s show.

You can listen to right now by clicking the Play button, or hit “Download” and take the show with you on your laptop, phone or tablet.

And please do tell me what you think of the show. Is it entertaining and informative, or do you think I’m full of wind? Leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail at listeners@theconradhall.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Small Business Marketing Reality Check

This week’s stories have me just a wee bit angry. So you might want to prepare yourself to be offended.

Start listening now to Social Media: Cheap and Easy

Small business marketing is far easier than most business owners make it out to be. But you do need to do some work, and professional advice is often helpful.

Have a look at www.SkyRoll.com. It’s the subject of our first story. More accurately, the bozo that owns it is the subject.

I meet way too many business owners who ask for advice on small business marketing, like this guy, and then disagree with me. It makes me want to scream “Are you KIDDING?!” This is why I’ve learned to weed out the problems by making business owners jump through hoops to get to me.

After I go to town on SkyRoll, we take a look at Facebook’s upcoming IPO.

Like Groupon, Facebook’s IPO is like to be successful. That is, Facebook and the investment bankers are going to make a whole lot of money. Also like Groupon, those who buy in are going to lose money.

Listen to hear WHY Facebook is doing an IPO – and HOW they’re preparing for it. It’s definitely odd, and should be screaming DANGER to every investor in the world.

Hear it all this week on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Then we’re wrapping up the show with a look at Occupy Wall Street. If I haven’t offended you by this point in the show, I probably will with this story.

After more than a quarter century of owning my own business, becoming a master carpenter, and writing 5 books in 19 months, I have little patience with anyone who whines about life being hard. Have you noticed a lot of the people getting press coverage over Occupy Wall Street are college professors? Talk about professional underachievers.

If you think lawyers are bad, we should stone the people who train them. That’s right, college professors.

I’m all for being social, but socialist is just insane. I’m a dedicated capitalist – everyone who listens to Social Media: Cheap and Easy knows it. And by the way, that means I’m first in line to put crooked bankers and corporate executives in jail. They give capitalism a bad name.

Just click the Instant Download link at Social Media: Cheap and Easy. And when you’re good and riled, come on back here to leave your comment. Just click on the post title to go to the comment page.

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?

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.

 

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.

Real World Lessons For Why Less Is More

Sounds like a load of crap, doesn’t it? “Less is more…”

86 people paying $97/month equals $100,104 per year. Small number of people paying a fairly small sum.

Groupon says 80% of people actually redeem their daily deal coupon. And retailers hope that’s true because when that number goes up, they really start losing money. Now we have a lot of people getting a big discount and it’s driving business owners out of business.

This week, the whole show is focused on getting the real meaning of phrases such as “Go Big Or Go Home,” and “Bigger Is Better.” There are good uses for these phrases. The problem is that we’ve forgotten what they are.

Hear the solution on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

From LinkedIn to Facebook to Google and Yahoo – everyone is enraptured with the idea of having access to a huge audience.

Open Networkers on LinkedIn think they’re making a value statement when they declare having thousands of first level contacts. The gurus and pundits declare there’s inherent value in advertising on Facebook and Google because of their massive audiences. But how many of those first level contacts do the open networkers actually have relationships with? And just how many people seeing your ad on Facebook or Google are going to do business with you?

The answers to these questions are clear in our first story. We look at specific reasons why people WON’T click on your ads, and just how much value is in someone having thousands of first level contacts on LinkedIn. These are real world lessons for why less is more.

In our second story, we look at the trend toward mobile computing. “Everyone” has a smartphone (actually, smartphones account for around 37% of cell phone usage), is getting a tablet, or has an Apple device, right?

Well why should that matter to you and your business? It’s corny, I know, but just like our mom’s always said: Just because your friends jump off a bridge, does that mean you jump, too?

There are a lot of folks screaming about one of the many new and shiny objects. They’ll tell you each one means the difference between life and death for your business. Right. That’s pure poppycock.

Get the straight story now on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

I have said from the beginning that business have survived quite nicely without the internet and social media, and they can go on surviving without using them. Can these things bring in new customers, create new sales, and make for a better customer experience? Yes, they can. And I agree that you should give serious thought to using them. But they are a long way from determining the success or failure of your business.

Listen in and hear what the trends are with mobile computing among consumers. More importantly, hear just how simple it is to tune in to these trends and benefit your business.

Then we wrap up the show with some resources you can use – online resources – to get inexpensive office space, book events and even sell physical products.

And most importantly, we close this week’s show with a few choice words about what “bigger is better” really means. And you hear how you really should “go big or go home.” It all revolves around the Value Of One.

Hear it all in one place: Social Media: Cheap and Easy. Then start the conversation here with your viewpoint, agreement, criticism or comment.

Facebook Killing Music Sharing

Is Facebook killing music sharing because they’re profiteers or just ignorant?

Facebook is talking about bringing music sharing services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, MOG and Deezer onto their site. The idea is to make your profile an entertainment hub. But how much of a hub will it be if it drives these businesses out of business?

Very few online music services are profitable, and they have a model that causes them to lose money every time a free subscriber joins. After all, even “free” music requires a royalty paid to the record companies.

Pandora, which had a successful IPO, has yet to make a profit. Martin Scott from Analysys Mason estimates Spotify had a $6 or $7 million dollar profit in 2010, and Rhapsody’s president Continue reading

Talking Books – More Than A CD Or Audio File

Welcome to our new readers. 322 new folks have joined us this week.

And thank you to each of you for telling your friends and inviting them to visit The Marketing Spotlight. I appreciate having your support.

We all know what talking books are, right? You can get them at the library, buy them at book stores, and sometimes celebrities do the recording for a book.

Of course, as the title for this posts says – there’s more to it than that.

Talking books is also a way of producing a new book. I’m using it for the first, second and third times right now on titles we’re producing this year. One is Facebook Continue reading