Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LinkedIN #Fail ? Part 2


I'm going to continue this story about LinkedIn's failure to be social with a bit of background.

As a new way for our business development team to find the right people to connect with, we want to use LinkedIn at the Executive level.

LinkedIn has been sending promotional codes for 30 day trial upgrades for a while. When we decided to upgrade 5 free accounts, we discovered that we just missed the deadline for the last promo code, so I started looking for a new code.

Googling LinkedIn Promo Codes led me to believe that they had changed their promotional pricing strategy recently. I searched their website and found nothing, so I decided to reach out to LinkedIn and double check. I tried Twitter and after getting no response, decided to try the old fashioned way, a phone call.

Yesterday, I shared the story of calling LinkedIN
.

Here's the rest of the story:

Monday, I followed the instructions given to me over the phone by customer service.

I submitted a ticket and waited for a response.

We have 5 people on our team that we want to upgrade to the Executive level. However we are looking for the first month as a no charge, say 13 months for the price of 12, to persuade our CEO to invest in this for us.

And their response:

Hello Scott, We appreciate your interest in upgrading to the Executive level on LinkedIn. We offer a substantial discount on our annual Executive membership. If you upgrade to the Executive level and pay the one time annual membership fee of $899.55 for each account, that would be a savings of $20 per month or $300 over the year for each account, if you spread out the savings. Times that figure by 5 accounts and your boss will be saving approximately $1500.00. for those 5 accounts over the first year.

In effect that is 15 free months at the Executive level account as it is normally $99.95 per month with the month to month membership.
Please remember that there are no contracts to sign and can be canceled at any time. You would be prorated back the amount of any full months that are unused.

If you have further questions, please feel free to reply to this message.


Wendy LinkedIn Customer Service

When I read this, I was disappointed. Wendy simply spouted a canned sales pitch tailored to my request. Except she there was a problem with her offer.



Here was my email back to Wendy:

Thank you for your quick response.

However, this is still the standard pricing that is offered online.
Actually, it is a few cents more expensive, online annual price is $899.40, not $899.55 that you quoted.

As an internet solutions company, we know that all of this is negotiable as there are limited hard costs to this service.


We are also considering doing LinkedIn Ads if that will help open the doors.

Again, we are looking at upgrading 5 basic accounts, including our CEO, to Executive level which means $4497.00 for simply saying yes to that 13 months for the price of 12 by offering us the 30 day trial for the first month.

That was Monday. It is now Wednesday. I have not heard back from them.

So what do you think?


ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

LinkedIN #Fail ? Part 1


Call it a "partial fail".

Big Companies are used to forcing you to go thru the proper channels to get your questions answered and problems solved.

Big Internet companies do this all the time.

Due to the volume of inquiries we ask that you first search our F.A.Q. and if you still need help, submit via our Q & A form, blah, blah, blah is what often happens.

Those that do it differently are often rewarded substantially.

Zappos for example.

Here's my LinkedIN story:

We are a small company, but larger than most in our field.

30+ employees. 5 on the sales side. We want to upgrade our 5 basic (free) LinkedIn accounts to the top paid level. 5 Executive accounts would currently cost $4500 using the annual membership option.

We want more.

We want a free 30 day trial. In other words, we'll pay the $4500, but we want 13 months, not 12.

We may do some LinkedIn advertising too.

I wanted to talk to a live person about this.

But you can't.

Unless you are clever.

First I asked the LinkedIn Twitter account for help.

3 days later, absolutely no response.

So I searched for the phone number, thanks Google, and called the LinkedIn office in California.

It's 650-687-3600.

The female voice recording told me that for customer service I need to go online.

I decide to "hack into their phone system".

Option 2 when I called was to use their company directory. I decided to see if they had a Scott working for them, punched the appropriate keys, and found several. I picked one and he answered.

Scott told me he was not in customer service, but he would try and help by connecting me.

After 10 minutes on hold, he came back and apologized for it taking so long but he was still looking for the number.

I figured if this was an endurance test, I had 45 minutes since I was multi-tasking.

The next time he comes back on the line, Scott tells me customer service will be calling me directly, since they have my number from caller id.
Link
Sure enough, someone from customer support calls 4 minutes later, wanting to know how I got through their phone system.

I told him.

He laughed.

Then he told me that I really did need to use the proper channels which involves, scrolling down to the bottom of my LinkedIn page, finding the little HELP CENTER link, and clicking on it.

Told him I had already discovered that and if my question wasn't on the F.A.Q. list, there was no live link to contact sales or customer service, or Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIN.

Then he told me how to make the contact us link live and fill out a ticket to get response to my questions.

On one hand, I understand why they want to keep my crazy Aunt Sally from calling to fix something that is in their F.A.Q. But come on now...

This story will continue tomorrow, but why is a social media company being so unsocial?

ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:



image from http://arabcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Linkedin-blocking.jpg

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Death of Email is...


premature.

Like the death of lots of things tech related.

Social Media was supposed to kill it off.

But after a few conversations with friends about how they get social media notifications, I found that email is still being used.

Even some of my college age kids who stopped using email, started using it again when they entered the work force, because they had to. It was a work requirement.

And some even like it.

Last week I asked the question on Google+:

How do you get your social media notifications?

I get emails from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIN, YouTube and Twitter when someone mentions me, so for me, Email is still my top source for important stuff.

And in a few minutes, the responses:

Joe Taylor - Email is my primary source of notifications; I have a very limited number of notifications that send me a text message.
Don Mitchell - Email is still my primary source although I am beginning to turn off some group notifications on FB so I'm not inundated when I post on an item in a group. I see my Twitter replies via TweetDeck. I like the "mute" option on Google+ for discussions that get really active.

Dylan McIntosh - I use notification on my iPhone as primary method. Most I still get emails as backup.

Because of the number of people I follow on Twitter and other social media channels, it is impossible for me to keep up without an email notification.

And since email continues to be the primary form of business communication, I doubt this trend will change in the near future.

What are your thoughts?


ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Enough with the Rules...

I've posted a few items about Social Media RULES.

Today, a different approach.

Social Media Etiquette

And I'll preview the list from Nick Kroll but you really should read the original at the Details.com site.

Here's how he starts:

It seems that we fill every waking moment on one social-media site or another.

Waiting for an elevator? Send a tweet. On the toilet? Check Facebook. Avoiding actual work? Get sucked into a YouTube vortex of "Macho Man" Randy Savage videos.

These social-media sites are like the 21st-century town square, so you need to behave accordingly.

You wouldn't choose to embarrass yourself by releasing your bowels in public, but things are a bit more complicated online. So by sharing my tips, I hope to help you avoid taking virtual dumps all over the social-media town square.

The few highlights from the list:

1. Have a real picture of yourself as a profile pic.

2. Don't give me constant updates of where you are eating or shopping.

6. When someone dies, don't immediately reduce his or her entire life down to 140 characters of snarky dismissal.

12. Do not tag me in photos that I am not in to get me to look at them.

14. Don't take pictures of your private parts and send them around willy-nilly, because they will end up on the Internet.





Enjoy your weekend. and smile sideways :)


ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Next Week

Last month I posted a similar reminder:

Last Tuesday of the Month...


Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Last Tuesday of the Month...

Next Tuesday is the Last Tuesday of the Month.

The Last Tuesday of the Month is always the date for the Fort Wayne Social Media Breakfast.

Starts at 7:30, ends at 9.

Click here for details on Facebook
and be sure to sign up so we know how many to expect.

We consistently have there over 60 attend each month, even during the summer months, and we want to make sure we have room for you if you want to join us.



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unbreakable Social Media Rules


My first thought was, there are none.

But on second thought....

.... Never put something online that you may one day regret:

  1. Such as words
  2. or perhaps a picture

I learned this a few years ago when I made a judgement call about a local business changing their name and I said it was stupid and they were throwing away decades of goodwill.

A few months later, I discovered the real reason why the name was changed and while my original reasons were valid for my comments, as I learned more, I had to go back and change what I wrote.

Better for you to learn this lesson from my experience, than to have to learn it the hard way, 1st hand.


By the way, this rule applies to voicemails, emails and tats, too.

ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why I Blog

I echo Judy's words that she wrote on her blog:

5 Reasons Facebook and Twitter Will Never Replace My Blog

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 02:28 PM PDT

Facebook is cool. I think I’ll just hang out there.

I don’t have a lot of time for social media and Twitter only takes me 10 minutes a day.

I’ve built a huge network on LinkedIn and it’s my main marketing strategy.

As a blogger and content marketing specialist, I hear this all the time.

Writers, authors and small biz owners love the ease of social media sites. They don’t have to spend tons of time (although sometimes they do). And that frees up more minutes and hours for what’s important: writing that book, developing that product, selling those services.

I get that.

I really do.

After all, if you don’t do the hard work, your book—or your business—will die.

Social media is the new marketing

Social media tools have made promoting our work easier. We don’t have to go out into the world as much because the world comes to us. We can pop into Facebook or Twitter for a few minutes every day and our marketing takes care of itself, right?

Well, yes, but it comes with some risks.

Other social media platforms are just that. Other people’s platforms. If you make Facebook or Twitter the home base of your operations, you are giving up some control of your marketing message.

And that’s not always a good thing.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Make Facebook or Twitter Your Home Base

Your platform is where it all takes place. It’s where you talk about your work, whether it’s your products, your services or your book. It’s where you collect and engage readers—and build a loyal fan base.

To make that work, you need a hub—a home base.

A place to put your content that is your own. A place to connect with readers and develop a subscriber list so you can continue to communicate with them.

Here are just 5 of the reasons why Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may not be the best home base.

1. You don’t have full control over the delivery of your content.

Though Facebook and Twitter don’t actually own your content, they own access to it. If you place your content on someone else’s platform, you are giving them control over who sees it and when.

In its Terms of Service, Facebook tells us that they have a “von-exclusive. Transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use any content we post. Add the fact that Facebook and Twitter have the right to (and often do) change their fine print policies and you have a potentially troublesome situation.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you are not posting your full content solely on a platform like Facebook. And be sure you are not hosting your blog in someone else’s space (WordPress.com. Blogger, etc.). because they have the power to make all your posts disappear at the flick of a switch.

I was having a conversation with some readers of the Writer Unboxed blog not too long ago and that very same day, Blogger failed—was offline for an entire day—and the readers who were blogging on that platform were worried (there were rumors that it was going to be permanent).

It was okay and back up by the next day, but you never know.

2. You lose your brand identity.

You may be the one talking on Facebook or Twitter but the brand is theirs, not yours. People remember the Facebook name and logo better than they retain your name as an author or business owner.

Is that what you want them to remember when they read your stuff?

A blog or website is an effective way to build your brand. To get your personality out there. To create a look, style and tone that is uniquely yours.

3. Your network of followers is not really yours.

This one is huge.

Whether you have an account on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere else, the people you are building relationships with—and their email connections—belong to that platform, not to you. If Facebook decides to close your account, or if you choose to leave, you don’t have a way to communicate with those people anymore.

One of my colleagues built a network of more than 1,000 rabid followers on a popular business networking site. He lost all those contacts when they accused him of violating their terms of service and closed his account.

Tough lesson to learn. Better to post excerpts of your content on these sites but direct people back to your blog or website and build your list there, where you have more control.

4. You have limited messaging space.

With their word count limitations, Facebook and Twitter work much better to point readers to your full content. I use them to post brief tips and teasers to draw people to my content.

Where is that content? On my home base, of course.

On my blog.

5. You don’t have anywhere to send the traffic and convert readers into fans.

One of the main benefits of a social media presence is to cultivate a following. To do that, you need to lead them back to your own space—to your blog or website—and ask them to do something.

You might want them to sign up for a webinar or study group, subscribe to your e-newsletter, opt in for electronic delievery of your blog posts or something else. The point, of course, is to be able to contact your readers, which they give you permission to do when they give you their email addresses.

What about you?

Do you only use Facebook or Twitter to promote or do you have a blog or other home base, too?

How is your plan working for you? Anything to add here?

This post was revised from a post CatsEyeWriter originally published on the Writer Unboxed blog on May 10, 2011.



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are You Mobile & Social?


Last week I recieved an email from Mediapost with some stats on Smartphones,which got me to thinking about how I use my droid and how I don't use my droid.

I use my laptop for most of my social media interaction.

I'll read emails, check a few news apps, and for Twitter, I may respond to mentions and DM's.

Otherwise I use my laptop for my social stuff and email.

Check this out and see how you compare:

Smartphone Snapshot

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 35% of American adults own smartphones. The survey found that 83% of U.S. adults have a cell phone of some kind, and that 42% of them own a smartphone. That translates into 35% of all adults.

The definition of a smartphone owner, for this report, includes anyone who falls into either of the following two categories:

  • One-third of cell owners say that their phone is a smartphone
  • Two-in-five cell owners say that their phone operates on a smartphone platform (these include iPhones and Blackberry devices, as well as phones running the Android, Windows or Palm operating systems)

Several groups have higher than average levels of smartphone adoption, including:

  • The financially well-off and well-educated: 59% of adults living in a household earning income of $75,000 or more are smartphone owners; 48% of those with a college degree own smartphones
  • Those younger than age 45: 58% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 now own a smartphone as do 49% of those ages 18-24 and 44% of those ages 35-44. Even among those with a household income of $30,000 or less, smartphone ownership rates for those ages 18-29 are equal to the national average
  • African-Americans and Latinos. 44% of blacks and Latinos are smartphone users
  • Urban and suburban residents are roughly twice as likely to own a smartphone as those living in rural areas, and employment status is also strongly correlated with smartphone ownership

87% of smartphone owners access the Internet or email on their handheld, including 68% who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer. While many of these individuals have other sources of online access at home, roughly one third of these "cell mostly" Internet users lack a high-speed home broadband connection.

Smartphone Summary (Users 18 And Over)

Smartphone Condition

% Smartphone Owners

% All Cell Owners

% All Adults

Own a smartphone

100%

42%

35%

Use Internet of email on smartphone

87

36

30

Use smartphone to go online (typical day)

68

28

23

Go online mostly using smartphone

25

10

8

Source: Pew Research Center, July 2011

Smartphone owners under the age of 30, non-white smartphone users and smartphone owners with relatively low income and education levels are particularly likely to say that they mostly go online using their phones.

Phones operating on the Android platform are currently the most prevalent type of smartphone, followed by iPhones and Blackberry devices.

Platform Differences (% of Segment Responses)

Platform

Among All Cell Phone Owners

Among Smartphone Owners

Android

15%

35%

iPhone

10

24

Blackberry

10

24

Palm

2

6

Windows

2

4

Source: Pew Research Center, July 2011

Demographically, Android phones are especially common among young adults and African-Americans, while iPhones and Blackberry devices are most prevalent among college graduates and the financially well-off.

For the full report for an in-depth look at the demographics of smartphone owners and how they use their devices get more information from PEWresearch here.





ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Advertising Side of Social Media

I've spent 20+ years in the advertising and marketing world. Most of the paid work was in radio, but I've also done other forms of media and consulting along the way.

Last month I met with a guy who sells web advertising.

And it got me wondering about the "ads" I see when I'm online.

Most I ignore.

I know, there is a part of my brain that remembers even what I choose to ignore, but most web advertising is designed to move us to take action.

Click so they can measure and track you.

But the problem is they really don't have a good system of measuring and tracking.

And they are producing ads online that are pretty bad.

As bad as the home-made jobs that I see on cable tv.

What's even worse is that the ads lead you to crummy websites, if anything at all.

And then when business owners think a Facebook page is all they need to be online and money will start rolling in... we've got some talking to do.

There is interest in Social Media Advertising, as the following survey shows, but to me it's like putting a really cool sound system in a beater that can't hit 40 mph?!

From Mediapost:

No Magic Bullet For Replicable Social Advertising Success

The Trends in Social Advertising, research from the Pivot Conference in late Spring of 2011, was conducted by the Pivot team to measure the interest in and utilization of social advertising. An invitation to the online survey was extended to marketers and agency professionals via email, blogs,Twitter and Facebook.

Of those businesses that responded to the survey, 60% anticipate that social advertising will be very valuable to them. Another 32% view social advertising as valuable, regardless of the level of satisfaction with past efforts.

Value of Social Advertising Over Next Two Years (% of Respondents)

Value

% of Respondents

Very valuable

60%

Valuable

32

Somewhat valuable

8

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

Consumers increasingly spend time in social networks and less in their email inboxes and visiting traditional websites. As such, brands continue to race to social media sites in the hopes of connecting with consumers when their attention is focused on conversations relevant to those brands. Part of the challenge however, is earning the attention of consumers not just once, but also building a relationship with them over time.

Digital advertising, such as banners and keyword buys, has long provided businesses with products to generate opportunities for clickthroughs, but these products are proving ineffective in social networks. In a phenomenon dubbed "banner blindness," consumers are learning to ignore many forms of digital advertising in favor of the desired content within their area of focus. Usability guru Jakob Nielsen demonstrated through heat maps where eyes are focused on a website screen. Consumer attention is shown to zero in on text and not the banners around it.

On the social web, banner blindness is even more prevalent. In social networks, content populates the social streams of consumer profiles. If we apply the heat map model to social streams, attention may mirror the behavior in traditional web sites. Advertising blindness is a real threat within social networks, but at the same time, represents a new opportunity to rethink paid media, says the report.

Of the respondents in the 2011 Pivot social advertising survey, 85% were either currently experimenting with social advertising or planned to do so within the next 12 months.

Current Involvement in Social Advertising

Involvement

% of Respondents

Currently conducting

67%

Not now; plan to within 12 months

18

Not now; no plans to do so

15

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

Businesses appear to find social advertising successful or worthy of investment. 54% are satisfied or very satisfied with their experiences within social advertising to date.

Satisfaction With Social Advertising

Satisfaction

% of Respondents

Very satisfied

11%

Satisfied

43

Somewhat satisfied

45

Not satisfied

1

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

The Pivot study learned that the major social platforms dominate social advertising plans. 93%, 78%, and 61% of those surveyed have already deployed campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube respectively. Within the next 12 months, businesses will explore social advertising programs beyond these networks to include Foursquare, LinkedIn and YouTube. Despite its popularity in media and on Wall Street, brands aren't ready to advertise on Zynga. Only 2% use Zynga, with 49% stating they've no plans to so. However, 13% of respondents do plan to advertise on Zynga within the next 12 months.

Platforms Deployed for Social Advertising Campaign (Base: Respondents Currently Conducting Social Advertising)

Platform

Have Deployed Campaign

No, ButPlan Within 12 Mos.

Facebook

93%

5

Twitter

78

9

YouTube

61

20

LinkedIn

44

21

Foursquare

16

26

MySpace

7

2

Meebo

4

2

Zynga

2

13

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

For brands to experiment in social advertising, they must find the available products make sense to them. Facebook ranks at the top for the services it offers. YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare do not fair as well, however. Marketing professionals, executives and brand managers state that social advertising products on these services are mostly just good and fair as opposed to excellent.

Ratings of Paid Program Offerings

Platform

Excellent

Good

Fair

Poor

Facebook

31%

38

23

2

YouTube

16

30

16

3

Twitter

11

25

25

5

LinkedIn

6

18

35

3

My Space

1

4

16

11

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

Objectives for social advertising appeared all over the map in the survey, as brands evaluate various outcomes. At 17%, a brand using social advertising to support product introductions or other announcements is the current most common outcome. 13% are seeking to engage existing customers. Tied at 12%, deploying social ads to increase the size of the community or drive traffic to outside destinations. 11% of respondents designed social ads to build brand awareness.

Social Advertising Objectives

Objective

% of Respondents

Build brand awareness

17%

Engage existing customers

13

Increase size of community

12

Drive traffic to online destination

12

Support product intro/announcements

11

Sell products

9

Gain feedback and intelligence

9

Generate leads/build data base

9

Generate video views

4

Shift sentiment

4

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

Experimentation with social media must now give way to measurable business impact, opines the report. For social advertisers, the greatest obstacle they face is demonstrating ROI, with 42% and 44% claiming it is either a significant or occasional obstacle. Securing budget is next with 34% and 53% reporting it as a notable or periodic challenge. Getting executive signoff follows

Obstacles to Social Advertising (% of Responses)

Obstacle

Significant

Sometimes

Not an Obstacle

Demonstrating ROI

42%

44

14

Securing budgets

34

53

13

Getting exec sign-off

21

43

29

Finding skilled specialists

12

56

32

Targeting preferred audience

9

44

45

Source: PIVOT conference, May 2011

The report concludes by suggesting that social advertising is evolving and is forcing creative professionals to think outside of a box that may not, in fact, yet exist. The study did not find a magic bullet to replicable success. The guide for best practices in social advertising is being written as we go. Additionally, the culture of each social network behaves uniquely and requires a customized approach.

As revealed in the report, ROI is important for future funding. Additionally, overcoming banner blindness is essential to success. Without designing metrics or outcomes into the campaign, it will be difficult for marketers to prove value to executives. Without designing personalization and relevance into social advertising programs, it will be difficult to prove value to consumers.

For additional information from PIVOT, please visit here.


Look, I'm not against advertising.

But you better have your follow up and follow thru in place first.

And that's where my company can help. At Cirrus ABS, I have 30 other professionals who know their stuff when it comes to designing a net-centered strategy including a website that will be found without extra advertising, by real people who are searching online for answers to problems you can help them with.

My email: SHoward@CirrusABS.com



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Measuring Your Social Media Influence


I admit, I'm more of a doer than a measurer, when it comes to social media.

And the reason is my original intent.

I started blogging as a way to express myself, share some stuff and a blog was a good way to do that.

I started using Twitter nearly 3 years ago as a communication tool.

Same thing with Facebook.

LinkedIn was like an online resume until I started posting daily updates.

None of these intentions were designed to be famous and influential.

And yet, somehow due to my level of activity, quality of content, interaction with others, and my sense of humor, I started getting a following online.

Basically, I'm the same person online as I am face to face.

Recently I was invited by Lorraine Ball, the owner of RoundPeg to participate in a discussion on Klout, which has become the prime measurement of your social media influence.

I was honored to be one of the 5 participants which also included Allison Carter of RoundPeg, Randy Clark of TKO Graphix, Kevin Mullett, my co-worker at Cirrus ABS, myself, Scott Howard and our host Lorraine. The 30 minute live program aired on BlogTalkRadio and I've included the edited version below.


If you haven't registered with Klout yet, please click here.

While Klout is one way to measure, especially if you dig into the details of what it says about you and not just the big overall number, I prefer how my social media influence carries into offline relationships.

I have met dozens of wonderful people thru Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and my blogs and there have been several life changing moments due to those relationships.

A recent example was being invited to promote the 2011 Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour along with a few others who were hand picked to be influential in Fort Wayne Social Media, which I'll gladly do on my Really? website soon.

That's how I measure, how about you?

Listen to the podcast here:







ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is it Social Media or Social Networking?


Recently I've seen a variety of opinions on blogs, Facebook and Twitter about the "proper use" of what I call Social Media.

I've also seen a variety of uses of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social sites and platforms.

Look, these are all just tools and communication devices. I really don't care what you call them, but I do care how you use them.

Not that what I say matters because it is all a personal matter, and there is no black/white=right/wrong answer.

Because I come from the advertising, marketing, and media world, I prefer the term Social Media.

But I've noticed that a lot of people who come from a semi-professional networking world use the concept of Social Networking and sometimes the term Social Networking.

What is the difference?

I'll start with Social Networking.

In the Fort Wayne Indiana area where I live, there are dozens of organized networking groups that meet either weekly or at least once a month.

Nearly 8 years ago I was a member of the Summit City B.N.I. group which I believe is one of the best of these types of organizations. For 2 and 1/2 years I was a member and am often asked to fill in for a member in their absence. I still recommend this group which is filled with professionals.

There are other groups that are further down the food chain and are often filled with Multi-Level Marketers who seem to only try and sell to each other. Quite frankly, I am turned off by this.

It may work for others, but it is not for me. I have met some wonderful people and some not so wonderful people in these type of networking meetings. But overall, it is not a productive use of my time to attend these meetings every week.

Enter Facebook.

The movie was called the Social Network. And perhaps this movie contributed to the growth of in person social networking to online social networking that I sometimes find annoying.

When I see people ONLY trying to sell me stuff on Facebook, because I am in a particular group, it turns me off.

Now I try and give everyone the benefit of the doubt by not being judgmental about this, because sometimes these people were told that this was the "Wonder of Facebook" or "Make Millions Selling your Stuff with Facebook".

And maybe it works for some, but most of us don't want a sales pitch, we want to build connections and relationships.

Social Networking seems to place the emphasis on the Networking and not the being social in my experience.

I gravitate towards Social Media.

The emphasis for Social Media for me is Social. Media is just a term to classify what all these social platforms are.

Radio, Television, Newspaper, are all forms of (traditional) Media.

Telephones, letters, email, text messaging are all forms of communication, usually two way communication and conversations.

My use of Social Media is to give information (like traditional media) and be conversational.

What do you think about all of this?

Social Media or Social Networking?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Handle the Negative

One of the fears of businesses is the freedom that we have as consumers to use social media to complain about them.

I've done it a few times, but only after trying to fix problems privately, before going public.

Here's a few tips from MarketingProfs.com that businesses should take to heart:

Five Ways to Handle Negative Comments

Whether bad-mouthing a product via Twitter or leaving a scathing review on Yelp, unhappy customers—or mischievous competitors—can and will sully your business, often through anonymous accounts. "While brand-bashing is nothing new," writes Pamela Seiple at the HubSpot blog, "the tools of the web and social media make the comments from these meanies even more lasting and impressionable." So how do you fight back? Seiple has advice like this:

Determine whether the comment deserves your attention. Some people leave outrageous comments with the sole purpose of generating conflict. If they don't seem to have a following, and anyone can see their comments are routinely malicious, their venomous feedback might not rate any reaction.

Make a quick response your first priority. The longer you let a negative comment go unanswered, the more credibility it gains with a user's friends and followers. An immediate reply, however, shows that you're paying attention and concerned about the problem.

Apologize, even if the customer is incorrect. A petty argument about who's right and who's wrong will accomplish little. And, notes Seiple, most observers see silly complaints for what they are.

Continue tricky conversations in private. Provide an initial response in public, but move ongoing discussions with difficult customers to private channels.

Thank customers for their feedback. Treat any complaint—however harsh—as though it were constructive criticism. "After you've apologized for their unsatisfactory experience," she recommends, "let them know their feedback is appreciated and that you'll seriously consider their suggestion for improvement." And be sure you follow through on your promise.

The Po!nt: When social media attacks, fight back with kindness and understanding.

Source: HubSpot.



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Worry Free Social Media Life


Pardon the bit of rambling as I gather my thoughts...

Last week was a whirlwind and so will this week in my life but for different reasons.

I had 2 1/2 days to do my usual work for Cirrus ABS, which included an excellent Manufacturers Symposium that we co-hosted on Wednesday.

Thursday started with a 4am alarm to spend the day in Fishers, Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis as Cirrus ABS was one of the sponsors of the two day event Blog Indiana 2011.

I was only able to personally attend the first day, due to devoting Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the weekend wedding of my daughter Abby.

In the days and weeks ahead, I'll share some of the lessons learned both at Blog Indiana, and from the weekend, but one thing that I wanted to share today is the power of living a worry free social media life.

Granted, my job is not dependent on being connected 24/7, but there are plenty of folks who are taken back by the amount of social media activity I produce.

40+ blog posts every week, has been my habit for the past few years including weekends, holidays, and days that I don't turn on the computer.

Daily updates on Facebook and LinkedIn. And a few updates on Google+ each week.

Twitter however is my main social media communication tool. Even when I'm not online, I have 6 tweets a day that are automatic since they are links to blog posts as they appear online.

"Normal days" I tweet 25 to 40 times a day from my laptop due to conversations that I'm having.

Confession time: I used to be a little worried that if I did less blog updates or Twitter updates that it would matter. I don't worry about that anymore.

Everyday I get an update from TwUnfollow.com in my email which shows me who has unfollowed me in the past 24 hours. Today there were 16, some days there are 4 or 5.

It doesn't matter.

Most of those are people who I don't follow, or spammers.

Every once in awhile there may be a person who stops following that make me wonder why, but each of us have our own interests and the key is not to take it personally.

Besides, despite the number of Twitter followers I lose each day, if I wanted to keep score, I would see that the net number of followers is growing, recently surpassing the 2500 mark.

And at the heart of it all, is why I am doing it in the first place, to build relationships, not to keep score.

What part of social media do you worry about?

ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Does Big Business Understand Twitter?


Or small & medium sized businesses for that matter?

One of the contributing factors to my leaving my last job was they didn't get Social Media.

They certainly didn't believe in the power of Twitter, and the overall problem was their mindset was stuck in money mode.

Believe me, there is nothing wrong with money, and my job there and here is to bring in money.

But we also understand the value of relationships first and that is where social media channels such as Twitter can excel.

AdAge.com had a story on this recently that started with:

Over the last three years, the No. 1 question I've gotten from brand marketers is: "What should I tweet about?" These are not small brands, either, and not junior marketers. The industry seems to be confounded with its new-found power to speak directly to audiences. Marketers know it's worth collecting fans and followers, but once they have them, they're left with little to say. They've been creating content in the form of advertising for years, but something about the flow of new media isn't jibing with the old methods.

So they give away coupons or they apologize for not having given away any coupons since last week. This is sort of a joke … but not really. I've heard from many marketers that Facebook is out there telling them this is what people want. My reply is, invariably, "Of course that's what people want. Has anyone ever responded to the question, 'What do you want from a brand?' with anything other than, 'More stuff, cheaper'?"

Continue reading here: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/tweet-teach-brand-speak/229045/




ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Fort Wayne Twitter Story


Over the weekend I checked out a site that seems to be reasonably accurate at tracking your Twitter stats: http://twopcharts.com/index.php and after looking back at some of the numbers, it inspired me to share with you a few observations from the Twitterverse.

(Fort Wayne, Indiana is the 2nd largest city in Indiana, behind our state capitol, Indianapolis.)


I don't recall what prompted me, or who prompted me to join Twitter, but I did in October 2008.

In early 2009, I was one of 4 folks who attended a Tweet-up at Club Soda. One of the 4 of us was a client of mine and I invited him to join us that evening.


We had a few more that year, but Twitter was not a mainstream social media channel in Fort Wayne, yet.

In 2010, a few people organized and began hosting a Social Media Breakfast which started out with a decent turn out, but at the last one, which I didn't attend, there was one person who showed up.

The problem wasn't that social media was failing, it was that people using social media were failing to use social media.

Big difference.

At the end of 2010, the Social Media Breakfast baton was handed to Kevin Mullett who is active on Twitter and dozens of other Social Media Channels.

The growth has been phenomenal for the Social Media Breakfast Fort Wayne and Tweet-Up style events.

I don't have all the numbers handy but in January 2011, it was over 40 who attended, it has been growing. Even during the summer months we have had over 70 pre-register and nearly the same number attend the monthly breakfast.

I've attended a few social media events in Indianapolis and our attendance figures now beats theirs.

I hesitate to use the Tweet-Up term, only because in reality, many of the events that are occurring now are attended primarily by Tweeps, but it's not exclusively Twitter folks.

And Twitter has become mainstream as a way of life. No, there is no secret handshake, but it is the preferred social media tool for a lot of us for short form communication.

Along with the Social Media Breakfast Fort Wayne event, free, last Tuesday of the month, every month, Amber Recker of Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana has launched a monthly Social Media lunch which was just going to be a summer series and now will continue as long as there is interest.

Amber's event costs $10 and is used as a fundraiser for the organization. Details = http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1816524273/eorg

The last Tweet-Up I attended was organized by a couple of ladies in town who are also active on Twitter, and there are many other specialized Tweet-Ups going on around town.

That's what happens when you treat Twitter as a part of your life, you form relationships that lead to face to face relationships with common bonds.

And with that in mind...

Here's an invitation for you to join a couple of my co-workers and several of my Twitter friends for the first ever Fort Wayne Karaoke Tweet-Up Saturday evening. I won't be there as it is the wedding day for my daughter Abby but you are welcome to show up.

Details are right here: http://fwkaraoketweetup.eventbrite.com/Link



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Missing The Boat?

Social Media has gone from the early adopter stage to mainstream.

But there are still a significant number of businesses that are not involved according to this info from Mediapost:

Social Media Not Big With Small Business Marketing

According to a survey of US small business leaders by Opinium Research, commissioned by Hiscox, many are not using social media channels to promote their businesses and products. Only 12% of businesses described social media promotion as a must and nearly 50% of respondents aren't using social media at all.

Small Business Use of Social Media (% of Respondents)

Media or Comment

% of Respondents

Do not use social media for business purposes at all

47%

Among those that do use social media for their business:

Using Facebook

19%

Using LinkedIn

15%

Using Twitter

4%

Businesses using social media ranked the most important channels used to grow and expand business:

Company Facebook page

28%

Company page / group on LinkedIn

18%

Company blog helped them most

8%

When all respondents were asked about how they felt about using social media for their business:

Social media not important to our business

43%

Describe it as a must... do it all the time

12%

Do it when they have the time

24%

Don't know enough about it

14%

Source: Opinium Research, commissioned by Hiscox, June 2011

Hiscox commissioned research with Opinium Research among 304 owners, partners and senior decision makers from US companies with 1 to 249 employees between the 18th of May and the 1st of June 2011.

Additional findings from the survey of these business owners, published by Marketing Profs.

Social media adoption varies by company size. 62% of businesses with 50-249 employees use social media for business, compared with 46% of those with 1-9 employees. 19% of small businesses with 10-49 employees say social media is a must, compared with the just 10% of those with 50-249 employees. Only 1% of surveyed small business owners say they publish a blog for business.

Facebook is also the top channel for business growth. Small business owners who use social media cite the following channels as most effective in helping them grow their business:

  • Facebook page: 28%
  • LinkedIn company page or group: 18%
  • Company blog: 8%
  • YouTube: 6%

Building awareness and new business are the top reasons small business owners use social media, citing the following top objectives with social marketing:

  • Brand awareness: 27%
  • Generate sales: 22%
  • Promote new offers, promotions: 11%
  • Customer service: 10%
  • Research: 10%
  • Improve SEO: 5%

Asked to identify which marketing channel they couldn't do without:

  • 50% of small business owners cite word-of-mouth recommendations
  • 39% of small business owners say WOM recommendations are their only source of business leads
  • 14% cite their website (18% of companies with 50-249 employees cite websites)
  • 8% cite working with key partners
  • 6% cite advertising
  • 4% cite social media/blogging
  • 4% cite viral marketing
  • 3% cite search marketing

60% or small business owners get advice about business from mentors and colleagues, while 43% cite conferences and events, 28% cite magazines and websites, and 14% rely on online forums.

Please visit Hiscox here for more information, and Marketing Profs here for their presentation.


Tomorrow, I'll share with you how social media has been growing in Fort Wayne, Indiana.



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Checkin' In

In my town, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Four Square is probably the most used independent Location based Service.

I say independent, because Facebook, Twitter and other services allow you to tell friends and followers where you are too.

I chose to be selective and I use Four Square.

As a matter of fact, before I had a smartphone, I used to check in via my laptop.

There is a special site for doing that right here: https://foursquare.com/mobile/checkin

Side Note for business owners: Is your website optimized for mobile? Do you need a mobile version of your site? Contact me.
ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Herding Cats?

I've owned cats & I've owned dogs.

Big difference between the two.

I prefer having a cat because he is so low maintenance.

Social Media is a different animal.

Google+ with it's circles has been a new experience for all of us that are trying it out.

Pat McGraw shares his thoughts:

Google+: Rethinking My Approach Helps Find Value

Posted: 02 Aug 2011 09:39 AM PDT

Google+

I’ve been struggling with Google+ (G+). My greatest struggle has been with Circles - their version of Facebook and/or Twitter Lists – and I think it might have been with my approach right out of the gate.

Here’s what I did when I first arrived at G+ – I searched for people I know and started putting them into Circles based on previous experience. Some were ‘Family’ and ‘Friends’. Others were ‘Marketing Professionals’ and ‘Business Colleagues’.

Then I started reading Streams by Circle – meaning I was reading the comments of everyone I had placed in my ‘Marketing Professionals’ Circle, or my ‘Business Colleagues’ Circle.

And what I got was a lot of reading on topics that went way outside my expectations. A lot of those people in my ‘Marketing Professionals’ Circle started to write about personal topics and my expectations, based on experiences with their blogs and Twitter posts, was more professional than personal.

I was having a disconnect and that made my experience with G+ less than positive.

So I stepped back and took a look at their Twitter posts and realized that there had been a mix of personal and professional for some time – but I had blocked out what was, to me, the less important information and focused on what I valued.

And as I thought about it a little more I also realized that, at 140 characters, it was a lot easier for me to ignore the messages I found to be less relevant – but with the length of most posts on G+, combined with the amount of comments you see on the screen, it’s a lot more difficult for me to quickly identify and label a message as relevant to me.

Now, my approach to G+ is different than it was just 2 weeks ago. I am taking more time on the site and investing more time getting to know people in a much broader way. In the past, I wanted to learn from them in order to become a more effective professional – but with G+, I am getting to know about their personal interests and that will build a strong relationship over time.

That said, I need to open up because I am much more comfortable with sharing business related insights. My personal side is something I have worked hard at not mixing with my online persona.

That shift in thinking is helping me see some value with G+ – it’s still #4 (behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) but for the first time, I am seeing how my investment can help me. And it also makes me appreciate clear, concise, focused messages – especially those limited to 140 characters.



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Losing the Luster of Social Media?

My daughter mentioned to me last month that she was dropping out of Google+.

I only half surprised.

After all, unlike a few people I know and now work with, there may come a point in your life when you have all the social media channels you can handle.

It's okay not to use every popular social media channel.

Pick the ones you enjoy if you are doing it for personal reasons.

Also important:

Pick the ones where your connections are if you are doing it for business-oriented reasons.

Let others know where you can be found, and then use those channels to their fullest.

You should be using Social Media because you want to, not because you have to.

Comments and questions are always welcome.



ScLoHo is Scott Howard, a Solutions Consultant with Cirrus ABS.

You can contact him here: