Archives for May 2011

May 30, 2011 - No Comments!

ROI Is Not Spelt M.O.N.E.Y.

Money, money, money.

When I hear about ROI it's connected and described as money. But that's not what ROI is all about. Return On Investment (ROI) is "A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments." - according to Investopedia.

When a person connects ROI and Social Media, they often refer to the amount of sales they will receive from their latest campaign. They are focusing only on the Return and ignoring the Investment. Strong investments are not get rich quick schemes; they are constantly maintained and monitored investments that hone in on the best present and future gains.

Think of a simple rental investment. Once you purchase the house, you spend time making it look nice and finding the right tenants for the place. Over the years you continually maintain it and keep it in good shape and every so often update it to fit the current standards. By the time you sell it, there is a good chance (based on the previous years care) that you will get a bigger return than what you initially invested.

Your Return On Investment in Social Media if done correctly, can continue to provide you with great results on a continuous basis. But it will only work if you really care for your investment (fans) by providing advice, maintenance and updates for the months that follow. Remember, Youtube video's can stay around for years!

Moving money to the side, here are the most powerful ROI's that you can gain from Social Media:

  • Continuous communication with fans
  • Customer written blog posts about great experiences
  • Photos and Videos of incredible customer service
  • Positive brand recommendations
  • Modern understanding of what the clients want
  • Thankyou's from clients in the public eye
  • Respect for allowing fans to communicate with you
  • A general sense that company cares about the customer voice
  • Honest and raw feedback

In many cases, these returns will provide for you longer than financial avenues. They will build the stories that craft your brand into a household name and give you a great public image to boot. Brown fizzy soft drink is not exactly something that gets me excited. But seeing Coke continually push the boundaries of social engagement, connection and human development is. By focusing your honest attention to your customers you can build revenue streams far bigger than those with only traditional push marketing.

Channels of sale are important, but they pale in comparison to an investment into your customers.

May 25, 2011 - No Comments!

Is Theft Worth Focusing On?

Theft has risen dramatically since the invention of the internet. It has always been present before then, but with the online channels it's much easier to get a hold of someones design, art, music or writing and recreate it as your own. Plagiarism and 'Remixing' have also been heavy hitters in the online world, often causing debates over 'fair use' and similar copyright issues.

So with the constant shuffle back and forth, and the millions that piracy/plagiarism is apparently taking away from the artist, how can you make the most of it if it were to happen to you?

A while back when I was designing t-shirts a friend of mine alerted me to a shop overseas that had copied one of my designs and reprinted it with slight modifications. Because of the way I view the world, my first thought was "Great! My design was good enough that someone stole it!". Of course, this thought pattern wasn't born overnight - it was something I focused on for years after realising that stealing was here to stay - especially in the design industry.

If someone steals, plagiarises, remixes your work or uses your name to get known (the 'coat-tails' scenario) how can you make the most of it? After all, it surely couldn't be good for you - could it?

Skrillex (signed to Deadmau5's label) posted this on Facebook recently. While he makes very valid and honest points about the illegal and unethical activity - is it really necessary to bring attention to it? After reading this, and the majority of negative, annoyed and 'You're a sellout' comments underneath, did he just disrespect his fans for spreading his name (even by illegal means)?

Here is an example of the mental work through that most people go through when something of theirs meets the same fate:

  1. Artist is alerted to illegal merch sales

  2. Artist contacts sellers via email explaining they should stop the illegal activity

  3. Artist gets heavy hitters involved (lawyers, accountants etc) to see if they have a leg to stand on

  4. Calculations are made about the loss by this illegal activity

  5. Public scrutiny is pushed forth towards the companies/individuals working illegally

  6. Artist strengthens copyright of brand, shares less and hides more

  7. Illegal operations close down, prompting more to open

  8. Rinse and repeat

Now this list is just an example, but I don't suspect it to be far from the truth. While I believe 1 and 2 are important, unless the illegal activities are severely impacting sales (e.g. Napster vs Record Companies) then I don't believe it is worth going further - no matter how big the fight. The bigger the fight, the more attention, and we all know how the record companies have fared since their win with the demise of Napster. Would you invest in a traditional record company now?

Here is an example of how I handle situations like this now:

  1. Artist is alerted to illegal merch sales

  2. Artist contacts sellers via email explaining they should stop the illegal activity

  3. Artist realises that name recognition from illegal activities is helping build the brand awareness

  4. Artist realises that Brand awareness pays more in the long run vs focusing attention on stopping companies steal

  5. Artist focuses attention back into art to move forward and build off the new attention

  6. Artist writes a blog post saying he doesn't like people stealing, but accepts that it is going to happen

  7. Artist moves on and gets back to creation

Now I know a lot of people may see this and think "But you're just letting them get away with it!". In a way, yes I am. If you constantly focus on something negative your direction will pull you that way. It's the same thinking as trying to smile while being really angry (try it!). It's really hard to be creative and spontaneous if you are directing your attention on watching your back and being paranoid about everything you put out.

The quickest way to kill creativity is not to be.

Just to clarify, I don't condone illegal activities, but they're here to stay. Artists the world over need to keep focused on going forward and creating the works that got them noticed in the first place instead of fighting ongoing battles that often hurt them more than the initial theft.

Have you ever had anyone steal your work?

May 21, 2011 - No Comments!

Why Are You Climbing The Social Media Ladder?

The intangible Social Media Ladder is a tall one, filled with people of all ages, geolocations and races. But a simple Tweet from a new Twitter friend got me thinking about the reasons behind climbing the ladder. Why are you doing it?

Climbing the ladder in itself is a marketing game in which you are aiming to be seen in the crowd of millions. It's about getting noticed so you can get what you want out of the conversation. But if you don't actually know what you want, is the game needed?

If you're climbing the ladder to gain more fans and followers but don't have any content, products or substance to back yourself up you may be wasting your own time as much as everyone elses. Instead of climbing, maybe you should focus on building quality content, or creating a new product that people will want to talk about. Or even better, give away advice from your own experiences.

Personally, I love sharing advice from my experiences. In the past I had a very direct and in-your-face approach which I soon learnt how to control. Through reading someone else's advice I found out that it was ok to fail as long as you got back up and tried again. It was through this advice that I was able to start writing again (in a more controlled and cohesive manner) which completely changed the game.

Sharing advice is an extremely strong content advantage because no two pieces of advice are the same. Your past or current experiences can often help many more people than you realise - providing a solid reason for new fans to follow you and share your advice with others. If you find yourself talking for the sake of talking, try starting a blog, podcast or live video show where you share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in short snippets of advice. If you know what you are talking about, people will eventually find you (which will save you time and energy in hunting for followers to join your 'army').

Start Small, Focus on Content and Ignore the Ladder.

May 20, 2011 - No Comments!

Pros and Cons Of Digital Business Cards

For as long as I have been networking, I have used traditional business cards. Sexy, custom designed rectangles that fit inside any wallet. But as my venture into the digital world began to flourish, so too did the thirst for streamlining and digitising every part of my world.

Unfortunately, business cards have been left out of the loop for years. Many have tried to create sharable online versions and failed, but now companies like Cardcloud are working* on changing that.

How it works: When you meet someone at an event, pop out your mobile and open the iPhone App (or the website for Android etc). Then simply enter their email address and click send. They will now receive an HTML email (in the shape of a business card) and downloadable VCF with all your links and contact information. *I should point out that Cardcloud's app is Beta and you cannot create/modify a card via the app just yet - for now, you have to use the website.

Example of a card received via email (all links and icons are click-able)

Now this isn't just a plug for Cardcloud (however I do think what they are working on is superb), it's about the concept of the digital business card. While I do think digital business cards have a place (definitely in the future), they are merely strong additions to the business card world - not killers of the physical version.

As with all digital versions of a physical product, there are pros and cons. Here's a simple run through of them to which you can draw your own conclusions.

PROS

  • Often, you will be the only one in the room using them (Unique & Memorable)
  • Get someones email address and send them your card straight away (avoiding the need to collect business cards)
  • Change your details in a second for free (instead of ordering new business cards each time)
  • They're FREE
  • Click-able links
  • Accessible by checking email from anywhere (vs one physical card left at home)
  • Forward-able
  • Recipients don't need to have the app installed
  • Cardcloud saves geo-location for where you met the person
  • Cardcloud saves a list of who you sent your cards to
  • Save a tree

CONS

  • You have to open an app and get an email address (Slower speed than handing over a piece of paper)
  • If you can't access the net, you can't access your cards
  • Design-wise it's not as sexy as a custom card (future feature to be implemented)
  • You are stuck with their layout
  • They contain images (which are automatically blocked in most clients - looks a bit messy)
  • The big Get Cardcloud button underneath is very distracting*
  • You have to make your card online instead of in-app (future feature)
  • If you spell an email address wrong, they won't get your card
  • Some people may freak out
  • Constant education for people who don't know about it**

*Distracting as it may be, sending a business card and introducing them to a new tech product at the same time is a win for making a memorable impression. **That education is often worth it once they receive the card and start using the service themselves.

Overall, Cardcloud has a long way to go to supporting the majority and wiping out most of the cons. But early on, I am already finding great benefits of using such a service. The day after I sent a few from a networking event, I had many emails thanking me for the meet up, a few new followers via my Twitter and Facebook profiles and some even visited my website and read my latest posts - which is a much quicker response than I have ever had via traditional business cards.

I recommend you try them out for yourself and you like the service please let me know! You can also let them know via @getcardcloud.

May 19, 2011 - 3 comments

Are You Paying Attention? @AirTran

To many, Twitter is a fantastic tool to communicate with other like-minded people, share great information and advertise the latest offers. Some even go one step further and connect with fans and friends alike. But what happens when a company creates a profile and then neglects to update it for a year and a half? I write a post about it.

Link to full image

In the above image you will see the AirTran Airways neglected Twitter account.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that AirTran have 7,545 Followers, their Klout score is quite high (which means they get mentioned a lot) and they actually state in their first and only Tweet from October 2009: "...we'll be tweeting with you soon". Personally, I'm not going to hold my breath.

With a quick bit of research I worked out that AirTran run a few different types of planes - one of them a Boeing 717, which is capable of seating up to 117 passengers on a full flight.

That's the equivalent of approximately 64 fully booked Boeing 717's just sitting on the tarmac.

Look at the missed customer service and marketing opportunities that have flown by in just the last 5 hours (not forget the last year and a half).

Now I don't know the financial or working details behind a low-cost airline, but I know there are departments who look after the airlines advertising and customer service. By simply realising the untapped connections on their own page they could potentially save hundreds (if not thousands) per year on direct marketing and customer support. A quick @reply or discount card to some of the customers above could have brought in some great publicity, or at the very least turned negative experiences into future positives.

So how did they miss this? And why do they continue to neglect a potential gold mine of repeat customers?

@AirTran, are you paying attention?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_717

--

UPDATE: A day after I emailed them via their website I got a reply:

"Thank you for contacting AirTran Airways. I have forwarded this information to our Social Media Specialist".

I'm glad they forwarded it on to their Social Media Specialist, but I would love to know what they currently get paid to do!

May 18, 2011 - 3 comments

Simple Answers For Confused Entrepreneurs

1. I have an amazing idea, how do I get started?

Just start building.

2. Is my idea awesome?

Yes. Otherwise don't think about it.

3. How do I meet people?

Leave the house.

4. How do I get people to use my service?

Make something then move to answer 6.

5. How do I get more people to use my service?

Make something awesome then move to answer 6.

6. How do I let people know about my service?

Tell someone.

7. But how can I find people to use my service?

See answer 3.

8. But how do I get the masses to use my service?

Answer 5,6 and 3.

9. How do I keep people using my service?

Keep it awesome.

10. What if no-one is using my service?

Answer 3, 6 and if you can't keep going move to answer 11.

11. Should I Quit?

No. But you can always pivot.

12. How do I find people to join my company?

Answer 5, 3 and Search.

Do you have another to add?

May 18, 2011 - No Comments!

Are You The Blue Sheep?

The Blue Sheep mingle with the rest, but also lead.

The Blue Sheep is easy to spot amongst the herd.

The Blue Sheep know when to step forward and back when sharing opinions.

We live in a society that is ever-changing and rapidly developing every day. With that amount of speed, it's easy to get caught up in the trends and marketing hype that inspires us to share information, causing us to modify our thoughts and opinions to cover the biggest field. So how do you know if you're being true? Focus on being the Blue Sheep.

The Blue Sheep Run And Graze

You will notice the Blue Sheep by how strong they run with their opinions. These opinions can shake up the flock, and cause tension amongst the ranks, but can often be the 'right thing' for the herd moving forward. With truthful opinions (e.g. Justin Bieber is actually incredible with what he has been able to accomplish - truth) the Blue Sheep can easily alienate themselves from the paddock - and that's a good thing.

An opinion should inspire a discussion and move the team further.

Blue Sheep also know when it's time to pull their heads in and graze with the other White Sheep in the paddock. They realise that it's important to have a balance between having a strong opinion and letting others speak. If the normally unspoken White Sheep step forward and start sharing their opinions - let them.

Discussions are multi-voiced. Shut up and listen.

The Blue Sheep Lead and Never Deceive

Sometimes the White Sheep will believe (or convince) themselves to be the Blue Sheep, offering leadership at a time of need. These confused Sheep are hard to spot at first, but over time when the grass stops growing, their blue dye fades. Pay attention to the Blue Sheep with 'physical' experience in the field vs 'graduates', as the field is where you will end up playing in. This goes for choosing advisors, investors, staff and even friends.

Shouting louder doesn't make you a better choice.

True Blue Sheep will usually be very open and honest about the grass that lay ahead. Optimism is in abundance, but don't mistake that for hyperbole. When the Blue Sheep is leading correctly, the White Sheep will follow with admiration and respect, knowing they can speak up at any time. If you are the Blue Sheep, lead your team well by focusing on strong, honest communication.

Learn from anyone, no matter which patch of grass they graze on.

In essence anyone can be the Blue Sheep, but not all will. Blue Sheep training comes from within and can be modified and reinvented every second of every day. It can take a lifetime to be seen as the Blue Sheep by others, but starting early will set you up stronger for the later years. Are you the Blue Sheep?

May 11, 2011 - 2 comments

The Role Of A Speaker

I have recently attended a few business meetings and events where like-minded entrepreneurs speak about their businesses, achievements and give tips. These events happen frequently, so it's now even easier to be around inspiring people. The trouble is however, that many of the Speakers often forget one of the most important roles of being on the panel.

Offline Connection.

Entrepreneurs from all over have travelled to the event to make offline connections with other inspired people. In essence, it's about being in and around the industry, being inspired and connecting with others in a way that bonds stronger than online (otherwise they would've stayed at home and watched a TED talk). The role of a Speaker is to facilitate this exchange, encourage and help it to develop - especially when the audience is listening intently to the speakers every word.

Instead of this, what I see happening a lot of the time is the ego and 'self-worth' driving the connections. Sure, it's important to talk about your skills and knowledge, but never forget to take it further. This is especially evident at the end of a talk, where the Speakers huddle into the 'cool group' instead of mingling with the crowd that came to see them.

What Should Speakers Be Doing?

Get in and amongst the crowd that came to see you. Speak to everyone who is interested in a discussion - not just the movers and shakers that will grow your own business. Realise that the strongest time to build a network is the honest back and forth discussions that happen before and after the talk.  There may be a few weird moments where fans just want to stand in your presence because you inspired them and left them speechless. But it's at that moment you should be working out what makes them tick, what they're interested in and what they got from the talk. It's only then that you will know how well you did, what you can do better and how well you connected to your audience.

Focus not only on the people who inspire you, but also the people whom you inspire.

May 10, 2011 - 6 comments

Keep It Real Aaaaaight!

With so many Social Tools to share updates it's very easy to get lost. It's even easier to get sucked into following the trends that gain you more followers, get you quick attention and more. But where do you draw the line?

As the great Ali G says: "Keep It Real, Aaaaaight."

This simple humourous saying is such a good mental keepsake that I say it to myself at least once a week. The moment I start to drift into the "I know how to get more clicks" territory I lose focus on being real. It's enticing to build and write content that will be seen by thousands of eyeballs, but you need to have the 'stance' to back it up. Not to mention the amount of work you will have to do to keep those people coming back once they have been burnt by your rubbish article.

The reason this is so important these days is the upcoming standard in how we communicate. Very soon, human curated news will be the norm across all news channels. We will be relying on individuals more than ever to feed us content that impacts us, rather than 80% of the trash that fills the papers. We are also moving into an age where video is becoming common place amongst companies the world over, and internal social presenters will be sought out to carry the message of the brand in play.

If you can already see through the fake 'link-bait' articles that contain so much spam, ad links and useless knowledge, imagine what it will be like when we are all online showing our faces and speaking our own words!

If you are tempted to head down the Black-Hat road to increase your blog hits, Twitter friends or unique visits, remember this: Honesty is King.

It takes years to build a proper social network, and only seconds to ruin it.