Blogworld was a great conference. I met some wonderful people. I reconnected with some people. I attended some great seminars workshops and of course parties. Here are some of my “reckless” photos from Blogworld LA 2011.
I am sad to say that I rarely read books anymore. I read blogs, magazines, articles, email, Facebook status updates, and tweets. Books seem to fall to the wayside, especially ones that are not on my iPad. Over this past weekend I decided to dig into a book I had received from Ryan Blair called “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain“. This book is a philosophical business autobiography that blends Blair’s life story with hard knox business lessons.
I have read a lot of business books. I have read books on theory, philosophy, data analysis, case studies, economic reports and wishy-washy fluff that seems to inspire people. I am sure you have already guessed that the wishy-washy inspirational fluffy books are not my cup of tea. I don’t want to read a book and hear advice like:
Most people dive right into a new business. They jump in with both feet. But they are jumping without a parachute. They are starting in the middle. Where should you start your new business? At the BEGINNING!
Though I am a lover of the skillfully crafted mixed metaphor, or a good tongue-and-cheek cliche, I am not a fan of cliche being used for actual guidance mixed with metaphorical solutions. If you are wondering if I just randomly came up with that example, sadly no. I have actually heard that being given as “hand to God” business advice.
In a conference I was recently attending a speaker was talking about how people often forget to identify the basic steps needed when starting a project. He asked where you should start any project. Someone behind me actually answered “the beginning” and she was serious about it. It drove in how conditioned we are to these non-answers when learning business strategy and philosophy.
In reading Blair’s book I was pleasantly surprised to not be handed a page full of ambiguous metaphoric dribble. He spoke about the rough time he had growing up, the inspirational and formative lessons he received from both his father and step-father, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
Right now you should be asking, how is that different from any of the other “my life as a struggling entrepreneur” books out there. What differentiated this book for me was the fact that he spent a lot of time talking about his failure and breaking it down for the reader. He explained why he pursued certain business deals and then the step-by-step break down of why they failed. He spent quality time examining his own role in the failure. He successfully conveyed the message of how failure is important to success and that many times our actions, or personality, can be a primary driver for our own failure. He writes about how his past failures were integral to his current success and how he was able to implement what he learned and harness it for positive results.
In outlining his success, Blair did not just write in autobiographical story telling or philosophy. He breaks down how he has handled getting venture capital, hiring (and firing) people, and selling your business. He gives real tips that how the progression on A+B=C, where as most people will talk about A then show you C and leave out the crucial middle step. Of course the middle step, the one that says this is how you do it, is left out and leaving you with answers like “the beginning!”
Of course every person is different. Every business is different. Blair’s break downs give you lessons as he learned them and explains how he did them. But they are tools that can help you think critically about how you can work through your own business problems. For me, many times I find that a solution is easier to come by when the problem does not seem so enigmatic. By learning how someone else worked through theirs, I can see the light at the end of my own tunnel better.
Blair ends the book wishing you a life based on the philosophy of “nothing to lose” where you put it all on the line to fight for your success. What it left me with was his wish that we all have our own million dollar failures, because those are a stepping stone to a million dollar success.
Goolgle+ announced today that they are offering pages for business. This is answering a long standing question, when with Google+ be business friendly. Well, they had been promising the eventual advent of their business Pages, and the day has finally come!…well kind of.
The pages roll out is just that, a roll out. So not everyone can make a page yet. When will everyone be allowed? Good question. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that. So though they are not focusing on the exclusivity of the original “invite only” launch, they are likely only giving the “star players” the first shot at the new Page.
As a user of Google+ you will be able to to add pages to you circles. It seems that the pages will be much like the Facebook Pages we are all accustomed to. But one distinct edge the pages have will be the indexing. Google will be immediately indexing any business page. This means that when you create a page you are immediately getting an SEO boost to your page. Additionally when you type in a business name, if you add a + sign before the name it will pull of the Plus page for that business. So type in + SM Cubed Consulting and you will find my business page.
Is the + search a step forward in the next generation of SEO? Maybe it is. It does make me wonder if this will be a change in the Boolean search that traditional search engine algorithm have been rooted in. (In my mind I see lovers of Library Science heads exploding)
The questions that arise are based in the experience from pages on Facebook. Will you be able to pursue fans or are we reliant on fans finding pages, like in Facebook? Will this essentially be simply duplicate content? Is there a point to have both?
Be unique! Be original! Do that and you will sky rocket to success!
Like so many conference that was a theme in Blogworld after the first day. What a lot of people were wondering but not necessarily vocalizing was how can I do that for a client?
One problem with seminars and industry conferences is that a lot of it help you launch yourself into so called stardom. But what about the people who aren’t peddling their own brand or product. What about the consultants and the community managers? What is the new role for community managers.
The opening keynote with Chris Brogan and Guy Kawalski touted the benefits of Google Plus. They claimed that the people are there, that people are finding huge value and it is the next front. Well, maybe but I am not totally sold. If you are a community manager you still cannot offer it as a brand option for your clients. You still cannot use Google Plus as a business. Not to mention that the audience is mainly tech forward early adaptors. Bit is that your audience? I understand why Brogan is attracted to it because that is his audience. As a community manager, I have to go to where my clients audience is spending their social media time.
Sometimes I question if so many of our social media superheros are primarily teachers but not necessarily on the ground floor doing the work. We always address what you can do to boost your brand, but what about the conversation that discusses what you can do to boost your clients brand.
If we are not supposed to sell or market, and our clients are not devoted (or product able) to give away content, then how do you drive the numbers?
They say that a marketer touts the value of your brand but the CEO wants to see the ROI, as a manager how do you capture and harness that value?
Everyone wants to know how to get more clicks from their Facebook and Twiiter. How to get more followers. How to get more fans. How to get more more more! But many people are missing one of the biggest values of social marketing and that is the ability to get more personal.
If you go back to the small town store, the local banker or postman, the corner store, what made them so special was that they knew you. They cared about you. You could go to your banker and talk to him about your financial troubles and he actually wanted to help you find a solution. If something you bought wasn’t working right, you could go to the store you bought it from and they cared about your satisfaction. They cared to not only fix the problem but fix the relationship.
Justin Timberlake brought sexy back and social media is bringing personal business back.
Customer services is the hardest to quantify element of ROI in social marketing. Everyone knows it is valuable but what value does it truly have. Well, to be blunt, HUGE! If a tweet that reaches 100 people is worth $0.10 and a tweet that reaches 1000 is worth $1.00 then what about a tweet that reaches 10,000? or 100,000? Hip Hop star 50 Cent has 5 million followers and one tweet from him would cost you $11,000. But what is the value of that tweet? Is it the click? Is it the reputation? Is it the virality? It is all of it!
If you help one person through social media, they will not question if you are a real person behind the account. They will feel like your twitter or fan page is actually listening to them. If you reach out to them, they will feel heard and therefore appreciated.
Social media gives you the opportunity to really reach out to your customers. On Twitter you can scan for your company or product and when you see a customer service issue, you can reach out.
Why this benefits?
Now not only does the customer feel heard. But they did not have to the be the one to make the first move. You are so invested in them that you are listening for problem and listening for ways you can help.
Quickbooks is an accounting software. They have an online accounting solution in addition to their software. I posted a login issue on Twitter. I tagged their customer service in the post, because I knew they had representation online. They got back to me within minutes to help resolve the issue. Though I did seek them out, their customer service was quick, responsive and helpful.
I found them because I did a search on Twitter to see if other people were having the same problem as me. I saw that people were posting issues they were having with Quickbooks and their care team was searching them out and responding to them.
While they were helping me with my issue, one of my followers saw my tweet and reported having a similar problem. The care team then responded to both of us to resolve the issue….and the viral process begins!
Viral Customer Service
When you get an issues resolved through a channel like Twitter you increase the chance of engaging your viral marketing.
1. I have an issue and tweet about it.
2. The care team sees my tweet and helps resolve the issue
3. One of my followers sees my tweet and reports the same issue.
4. The care team is able to resolve both of our issues, and introduce themselves to yet another customer online who was otherwise being silent about the issue
5. I tweet positively about my experience with the company
6. The other person also tweets positively
You have now reached thousands of people with a a positive message about your company from the mouths of your customer.
That personal relationships have no dollar figure. You are saving money by resolving the issue quickly and with little man power. You are increasing your loyalty, reputation and customer satisfaction. You are increase your brand value by showing that you are a company that takes care of its clients.
Social media is the next level in customer satisfaction.
Today I am heading out to LA for Blogworld! This is one of the largest social media conferences of the year. Some of the featured speakers are Chris Brogan, Aliza Sherman, Amber Naslund, Guy Kawasaki, Michael Stelzner, Mari Smith and even some normal famous people like Kevin Pollack!
I am beyond excited to attend the presentations by these media giants.
This conference will be focusing a lot on what has already been accomplished in social media as well as what is coming up. I will be live blogging from the show to share with you some of the trends and tips that I learn.
So stay tuned!
I hope that everyone is having a great Halloween! To help celebrate and possibly inspire that day for you. I wanted to share some of the great social media pumpkin carving I have seen this year!
More and more people are cloud computing. I mostly use it for my business, since it is much more efficient for me to keep information on the cloud and be able to access it from anywhere. Recently I was asked about cloud-based project management. I was using Manymoon. Then I switched to TeamworkPM. Then someone else chimed in saying they use Basecamp. When I actively use a tool for my business I will sing its praises. So with 3 project management tools going head to head, the gauntlet was thrown.
It was time for the Manymoon vs. Basecamp vs. TeamworkPM throwdown.
So, which one is better?
|Google Apps Integration||yes||NO||yes|
|Sales Force Integration||yes||NO||NO|
As you can see, there are more similarities than differences. What is comes down to is functionality that meets your needs. If you need to be able to access your task manager from your phone then you should go with Basecamp or TeamworkPM. If you need to integrate Google Docs then Manymoon or TeamworkPM. If Sales Force is your key, then you should go with Manymoon.
I was a big Manymoon user for a long time, but I have switched to TeamworkPM. I like that I was able to easily create a login on my website for the application. It just seemed easier for me to use. But really the differences were in the minute details. A big one for me was the ability to schedule daily recurring tasks that only occurred Monday through Friday. It seems like such a little thing, but not having weekend notifications that tasks were due was a bit deal to someone with a flooded email box.
Though all of them are great project management tools and will definitely help you get organized and focused, you need to find the one that matches your needs and work style the best.