Timeline is Coming! How to Get Creative…

You may have begun using Facebook timeline on your personal account (love it or hate it?), and noticed that it is coming (preview available) for your brand page.  
Recently I’ve encouraged some clients to hold off on any custom landing page creation due to this change, and sure enough, the default landing page will be no longer.  As of March 30th, you will be pushed to the timeline view.  Custom tabs are still going to be available, but not a default landing page. 
Here is a great read on the impact of Facebook Timeline on your business page from Involver, a great app that allows you to integrate Twitter, YouTube, RSS feeds and more into custom tabs for Facebook.  http://blog.involver.com/2012/03/08/dont-believe-the-skuttlebutt-losing-default-landing-pages-isnt-a-deal-breaker/?_inv_out=4291&_inv_cp=6362723
I have converted mine, so if you’d like to take a look at layout, you can go to www.facebook.com/soaringsolutions.
For those of you ready to make the jump, consider the space you have for your graphic.  For now, I simply took a snapshot of my website.  But there are some great creative ideas, here are some for inspiration->   http://slodive.com/inspiration/showcase/facebook-timeline-brands
Design sizes for those of you giving it a shot on your own:
Facebook timeline header image pixel size: 851 w X 315 h
Facebook profile image pixel size: 125 w X 125 h
Facebook custom tab image pixel size: 112 w X 75 h
If your image is smaller, Facebook will build you a border.  If your image is larger, it will allow you to adjust focused space.
Go play around with this new space to show your personality, voice, message and creativity behind your brand!

No One Cares who Unfollowed you on Twitter

Does anyone else find these 
Tweets  —> 
as  pointless as I do?  Ok, maybe your ego makes you curious, but does anyone else care?  Do you think your followers read this Tweet, click on all of the links thinking “wow, I can’t believe this jerk unfollowed @insertwhinytweeterhere
I’m going to show them by unfollowing them too!”

Consider:

1.  Twitter has limits and faults.  While I’ve used apps to whitelist people I never want to unfollow even if they never follow me back, I have found myself able to follow them again.  (seriously, I would never intentionally unfollow @CarolJSRoth or @ChrisBrogan)

2.  Most power users are using some sort of automation tool that unfollows people who do not reciprocate in ‘N’ days, or who appear to fit the profile of a spammer.  Perhaps you fall into one of those categories.

3.  There are an infinite number of third party software applications out there supporting Twitter growth.  These may be developed by a highly VC funded software company with a QA team, or it may have been created, and solely supported, by your 12 year old neighbor with great coding skills. Often you cannot distinguish between the two.  Again, faults exist, they are mostly free, deal with it.

4.  Maybe the person is using Twitter for a particular business purpose, and you do not fit this profile.  This isn’t a personal attack, this is strategic efficiency.

5.  And finally, social media is about creating a community.  When you post this sort of nonsense you look like the kid on the playground who kicks first and then cries and tattles when the kick is reciprocated.  If you stop posting negative Tweets trying to make others look bad, maybe people would stop unfollowing you…


New Standards for Stakeholder Communications with Social Media

Even before the days of social media (dreadful times…)  I remember receiving quarterly reports for a corporation I worked for or held stock in.  Often times having part in their creation, I still had no desire to sit and read through all the boring details, especially if next to me sat a periodical of like size called “Runner’s World” or “Wired” (yep, it actually started in 1993, when we were a bit less wired).

Why the nostalgia?  Today I enjoyed how LinkedIn accompanied the release of it’s quarterly financial results.  An executive summary, key stats, in an interactive forum.  That forum was Twitter.

Considering the technographics of your audience, what are your emerging leaders, the future C levels of your organization, and other stakeholders going to tend toward to gather these stats?  A mailed document, a PDF download, a press release? Or the social network of their choice?

Sure there are regulations and varied ranges of audience to consider in such financial reporting, but also consider how you can get creative to communicate with people where they already are.  Many businesses are working their strategic plans for the coming year right now.  Great time to include your CFO and Financial team in your communications and social media strategy! 

Why I’d Rather Take a hit to my Credit over $150 Than Pay AT&T

After a long, painful, journey attempting resolution, AT&T clearly has no regard for their customers, even one who has been with them for over 10 years.  Months of failed service was simply a vicious cycle of techs who could not fix my problem, keeping me repeatedly at home without internet waiting, when frequently, they didn’t even show. 

If you know what I do, you know that means lost business & money.  I then moved to Twitter for support, which initially saved me hours of phone time with them, but again ended up in radio silence.  My journey with AT&T internet ended with the below letter, to which they never responded.  They instead sent me on to collections.  I resent the letter to both.  Again, no response, but a new notice from yet another collection agency.  They clearly have the money to offload a problem, how about using that money to provide actual service?

So now I share it with the world, what do you think- should I pay them?  

I say no on principal.  No small business owner would get away with the lack of service, both human and technical, that AT&T provides.  But because of their size, they get away with it, and we lose extraordinary amounts of time and money.

Ding my credit, I’m keeping my $150.  Read on, and please, do share…
 

Date: June 5, 2011
AT&T
RE:  Account 10840397

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing concerning the most recent bill sent to me from AT&T for the amount of $147.12.  Initially, I presumed my internet was being combined with my cell phone bill, as it has for the many, many, years I’ve been a customer.  Then out of the blue, I get a bill saying I’m past due, and my connection will be cut off (as if I had one to begin with).
Great, now I can go with an internet provider that actually provides, which Comcast now does.
Frankly, I should be billing AT&T for lost time, frustration, lost clients, and complete lack of service.  I have been a loyal customer of AT&T for over 10 years.  I have had nothing but frustration with customer service and technology.  Yet for some reason, I still honor you with my patronage.  Following is a very brief overview of my ordeal with attempting to get internet service from you from the period of time covering November 2010 through March 2011.
1.  November 2010: I move and relocate service.  I was given a date for activation when my equipment was sent to me. Not shockingly, it did not work.  Support told me I would have to wait 2 more days; no reason was given. I explained that my business is that of a social media consultant who works online from home, and this would inhibit my ability to run my business.  Alas, there was “nothing AT&T could do”. 
2.  My delayed activation date:  I try all night to no avail.  I call again & spend over 2 hours with a customer service rep.  I beg for her to skip over the script I could have spoke along with her; all the things a technology expert already does BEFORE calling support. She finally transfers me to upper level support.  He simply tells me I don’t need a filter with this modem, I remove it, done.  Your company wasted 2 hours of pay on this person’s time.  Not her fault, she should be trained better.  I lost 2 hours of my time yet again, which runs $85 =$125 per hour.
3.  Nightly:  at 10:00pm, I lose service.  I post a Tweet asking why AT&T turns the internet off every night before they go to bed.   To my pleasure & disbelief, @ATTMIKET responds to me promptly and coordinates a technician to come out.   I wait at home during said arrival time.  No show.  Again, lost business due to sitting home without internet.
4.  They try again, they show, cannot figure out what is going on.  Again, this is in my thread of Tweets, which should be tracked in your customer support system.  
5.  Yet again, Twitter based interaction with your support team.  They concur that no one can figure out why I constantly lose connection on a nightly basis.  Then it starts to occur during the day.  During a Skype based training with a client I lose connection.  Lost business, and reputation, again.
6.  Apparently your team finally gave up on me, because everything went completely silent.  At that point, I finally received notice that my account had not been paid.  As I said, I presumed it had been combined with my cell phone bill, as I never received any other billing.  I took this wonderful opportunity to simply move service and go with Comcast.   With whom I have 100% connectivity at all times.  Novel concept.
7.  I get a phone call from AT&T telling me they are going to send me boxes to ship my equipment back.  Great!  I wait, per usual, nothing.  Now I get notice that I will be charged if I do not return it.  Perhaps the boxes are with those bills you never sent me.  Provide me the promised boxes and I will return said equipment.
8.  The amount of money I spent on lost clients, lost time, business reputation, relocating to cafés to buy food so I could use internet all night and day is well beyond $1000.  You are billing me $147.12.  
Let’s just call it even and put this thing to rest.  
Sincerely,
Susanne Koch

So Many Social Media Tools, What Do I Use?

With so many third party applications out on the market to support your social media implementation, how does one decide?  Listen in to this super fun BlogTalkRadio show I did with Marnie Swedberg. We discussed several apps, experiences with them, and the very important surrounding etiquette.  Applications include TweetDeck, Hootsuite, SocialOomph, Ping.fm and TweetAdder!

I hope this help to support your decision making process.

Listen to internet radio with Marnies Friends on Blog Talk Radio

Social Media: Your Business’ Economic Stimulus Package

When business building & networking, pretty much daily the question comes up, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ Before digging deeper, there are many common responses:

1. I have a strong skill set here and a lot of value to add to growing businesses.
2. I find this work fun & fulfilling, let me take the load off for others who don’t enjoy it so they can focus on their core genius.
3. There is a huge need here I am honored and thrilled to be able to fill it.  And the list goes on… 

In a coaching session with the fabulous Harriet DiCerbo of Mosaic Path, her line of questioning took me further, and allowed me to say something I normally would have felt immodest or arrogant saying, so it took a while to spit out, but dammit, it’s true! “I want to, and believe I can help stimulate the economy via social media!”

Econ_jscreationzs

What?- Lil ol me, stimulate the economy? But why not? Why not all of us? We all have great business knowledge to share with others. Knowledge is infinite, meanwhile, most of us only have access to 10% of our brain. Something you find simple and basic could be someone else’s enlightening moment and vice versa. Don’t discount yourself.
So how can you use social media to stimulate the economy and your business or career? 

1. Times are tough, budgets are strapped (not one of those enlightening tidbits, I know). A small investment in social media strategy and education will facilitate the ongoing use of tools that are free. Your recurring cost can be limited to only time. It shocks me how many businesses still take out classifieds, TV ads, radio ads; advertising the majority of the population simply tunes out. Save excess funds, allocate a smaller portion to social media education, and then run with your new model on a budget while capturing more business!  Not to discount those modalities completely, but track metrics to see what is truly bringing you ROI.

2. Sadly, I see local brick and mortars pop up quickly, only to find the storefront is up for lease again shortly thereafter. Many watch bottom line by not advertising, but as I frequently & cheesily reference- “If you build it, they will not necessarily come.” (Even if you believe they will, in the movie, they were ghosts. Ghosts don’t make good customers, they scare the real ones away & don’t buy stuff.)
Social media lets people know you are there. A small investment gives you a way to establish brand awareness. At the very least, get your Google Profile completed, claim your Google Place, and put yourself on the virtual map. It’s free!

3. Businesses are cutting back by not attending or postponing trade shows and conferences. This drastically impacts the goals of a sales team who may normally rely on these events to fill their pipeline, earn commissions, thus feeding their family & paying their mortgage. Seeing a company make this decision, and then seeing same company has no presence on LinkedIn literally saddens me. When used to its fullest, proactively, and with proper etiquette, you will see your pipeline grow and sales soar. As a side bonus, your cold calling can head to the grave. Even those cold calling for 20 years tell me it is still the most dreaded part of their day.

4. While we are on the topic of trade shows and conferences, did you know Twitter allows you to be a fly on the virtual wall? Don’t get pissed at your boss for keeping you at your desk; surprise them by saying~ “Cool! No problem! I’ll attend free from my desk!” Find the Hashtag and join the Twitter stream. The July eWomen Network Conference in Dallas used #eWN2011, and is still going strong weeks later. Several tools allow you to follow hashtags, archive and save them. You can meet people, learn from speaker sessions, engage and do business.

5. Are you job hunting and using Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com exclusively? To those of you also deep sighing with an eye roll, I know…. it shocks me how many think this is still the way to go. These jobs are already stale and likely have spent quality time already on LinkedIn. They probably are already down to the final 3 candidates and have it out there just in case they all get hit by a bus. If you aren’t on LinkedIn maximizing your profile and connections, while exercising caution on your other social profiles like Facebook & Twitter, you better believe that other candidates have both legs, and arms, up on you.

Daily I encounter entrepreneurs and business owners who are simply not yet aware of the power of these tools, or the current state of the technology. In many cases people simply feel overwhelmed by getting started, understandably so! Just pick one thing, start slow, and as Nike says “Just Do It”! It’s better to start getting a toe wet slowly than to keep it forever in your Nike.

Considering the power in these few tools, and how many more are available, I look back and think, “Yes, the more people I can show how to do this, the more people get jobs, the more businesses get business & create brand evangelists, I am stimulating the economy!” And it’s fun too. That’s pretty cool!

  • Graphics courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net | jscreationzs

Social Networking: Are You Collecting or Connecting?

When you network with people, are you collecting or connecting?  It sounds kind of strange, thinking about people in this way doesn’t it?  Almost creepy…  This is something using social media without employing the rules of engagement has relegated us to.  A bunch of clicks on a Facebook Like , Twitter Follow or LinkedIn Accept button.  What is the value of that click to you?  And are you fully aware that there is a human being on the other side of that action?

Smilehandshake

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tsufit, an entertainer, entrepreneurial coach and author of “Step into the Spotlight: A Guide to Getting Noticed”, writes in her book; “Fan collecting is an art.  Fans don’t want to feel like they’re being collected.  They have to feel that they’ve had a genuine connection with you.”*

At the most basic level, I always advise clients to interact on social media just as they would in real life.  Tsufit’s comment is about networking in person, on how to genuinely work a room to make connections with people that ultimately turn into business relationships.  This rule can, and should, be applied as a lesson in social media just the same. 

 Consider the direct message in Twitter (for those not familiar, this is the 140 character private inbox of Twitter), which has become automated to a fault (in my opinion).  Would you say the same thing to everyone you met at a networking event?  “Hi Firstname! Great to connect here, go to my Facebook page and be my next fan!  I’ll send you my free e-book!”  then turn around and say this to the next person?  As a visual thinker, I’m kind of cracking myself up, picturing this robotic networker who says this to everyone at the networking event, the cab driver, the check out person at the grocery store, and the neighbor’s dog as he/she returns home.   Would you hire this person?  If this is how they interact with every person of varied professional focus and disposition, might this automation be applied to their products and services as well?  Everyone wants a personal touch, to know they’ve truly been seen and heard, and that as a service provider you understand their unique business challenges, short and long term goals and offer them a solution catered to their industry, business mission, branding and budget.

Really think about how you can make authentic connections with people, because that is what generates valued business relationships as well.  “Know, like, and trust”: build relationships, build business.

So next time you interact on social media, ask yourself; would I do this at a networking event?  Would I say this at a trade show, conference or seminar?  If not, think again before you make that next keystroke.  Get connecting and start soaring! 

*Note, this is not an affiliate link, simply an amazing read that any entrepreneur should add to their collection (bad pun intended).

 

 

Marketing Focus: What the Hell do you do Anyway?

 

Have you ever walked by a storefront and stopped to look curiously because you couldn’t quite figure out what it was? This happened today as I noticed a new storefront on Chicago Avenue. At first glance I considered stopping in to check it out; I saw album covers and things of other like interest on display. Then as I looked up, the signage said “Mr. Ping Pong Table” and listed other related products.

As my eyes glanced to the right, a big sign also said “U-Haul rental here!” Interesting, I thought, is this to bring home your new ping-pong table? It didn’t stop there– as I took my line of sight back to street view, I saw a flower display in the right window. Yes, more varied signage indicating that “Mr. Ping Pong” is also “Mr. Flower”.   What?!?   I walked away confused, and thus my brain began blogging.

The same thing happens with website traffic, but much more quickly. I will be the first to say I am guilty of scattered focus and delayed update. Much like the copywriter who’s own blog is old because they are too busy blogging for clients, or the web designer with a site that has been static for 6 years, or the fitness instructor who doesn’t stretch or foam roll (that’s for you Hope of ‘Hope and Piece’) as she advises her students to. (Guilty as charged, yet again.) 

So, as I am working on my own gaps noted above, I ask you all to consider the same.

  • How long has it been since you updated your website? (This also helps keep fresh with search engines)
  • When did you last tweak your social media platform bios and information?
  • Is your LinkedIn profile up to date?  Are your specialties all covered with relevant key words?
  • What about any other traditional or online marketing material positioning your business services?
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to solid peers, ask them to look at your site and summarize back to you what it says you do.  It could be very enlightening!

We are always growing and evolving, personally and professionally. Time can fly very quickly before we realize that what we project online (or offline), is not accurately reflecting our most recent and relevant value proposition, niche focus, and business service offerings.

This is not to say you shouldn’t share your many other sides, but draw your audience in with your most engaging, specialty focus first. Kind of like a date… Then as they get to know you and your business offering, they will be more inclined to stick around and hear about all of those other great things you have in your back pocket and can support them with as well.

In the meantime, if you need a place to buy flowers to put on your new ping-pong table while listening to your new record albums, after you’ve driven them all home in a U-Haul, I know a place…

PS (can you ps in a blog?)  I did Google this store, and found that online, their message is very focused,   If the same could be done to the store front, perhaps more foot traffic will be encouraged!  If I’m going to use a local store as an example, the least I can do is give them a little plug.  I’m all about supporting your local small biz 🙂

 
 

Facebook Pages: Why doesn’t my employer link to my business page?! Here’s how…

Due to the fact that Facebook creates a “Community Page” when we add an employer to our profile, it naturally is not going to connect to our Business Page.  Hopefully something they will fix one day, but for now, there is a solution.  This video walks you through the simple steps to tie your employer name on your personal profile to your business page.  A critical linkage for us entrepreneurs and small business owners!  

If you need an improved view you can also find this here: http://www.screencast.com/t/k78Onb3BRMc

 

 

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