Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas and thanks for all you have done for us.

Merry Christmas and thank you from the team at MondayMorning.Biz for the part you have played in our past year.

Given this was our first year under the new brand MondayMorning we have been pleasantly surprised at how much engagement we have had from a diverse cross section of businesses despite the doom and gloom of the global financial recession.

A big part of our success was due to how many of you realised immediately that the online communication platforms and Social Media strategies we are presenting on in our webinars, traditional workshops, consultations and conference engagements were integral to the future of your own businesses.

We have had some notable achievements over the past months including becoming a Partner Patron of Business Mentors NZ, preferred supplier and associate of The Corporate Toolbox and webinar provider for their popular “Meet the Expert Series”. We are regular blog contributors to Business Blogs, been busy working alongside organisations like the Business Excellence Foundation NZ, The National Speakers Association of NZ and the Regional Tourism Organisations of NZ to name just a few.

We are very excited about moving into the New Year as we will be placing even greater emphasis on Social Media Strategies for business. If you know of anyone who needs guidance and hands on assistance in this area tell them to give us a call.

Again thank you for your part in making us a success and we look forward to working alongside you in 2010 and beyond.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from

Russell, Roger, Helen and Craig

P.S. Oh it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little gift. Kick your business New Year off with a FREE webinar from the MondayMorning and Corporate Toolbox Team in a 1 hour no charge “Meet the Expert” webinar on the topic of “How to make money online” (January 27th at 9am – book now we are limiting spaces)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The reason social media is so difficult for most organizations

As so often in life and certainly on the web wisdom comes from the insight of others. This is from the online marketing guru Seth Godin and sums up in just a few words what we need to understand when we start engaging in the Social Media space.
It's a process, not an event.

Dating is a process. So is losing weight, being a public company and building a brand.

On the other hand, putting up a trade show booth is an event. So are going public and having surgery.

Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul.
More of Seth’s wisdom can be found on his blog at

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Social Media Return on Investment Examples and Video

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) with Social Media is not an easy proposition given the complexity of what the medium potentially represents. What it is not is just another channel of advertising or promotion. Because of this we cannot compare with traditional mediums so how do we measure it?
Many of us are still learning ways to make it work, many are still watching from the sidelines and an alarming majority still haven’t even considered it as part of their business.

This video from the team at has a few examples of the thought leaders that stuck out their necks and taken giant leaps forward (and a catchy tune to boot)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Part 3: Social Media for Business – What on earth is it?

I have approached this series first looking at “Why bother with Social Media”, now we move to “What it is”. Social Media is not a single product nor is it a one size fits all process. Social Media is less of a thing and more of a “way” of engaging with your stakeholders.

To appreciate the full benefit of this medium you need to take a step back and review the way that you approach your business communication at every level. There are plenty of reasons why Social Media and Social Networking need to be considered with some urgency for your business but there is one that stands out and should be reason enough;
“The way your customers are talking and listening has changed so if you don’t want to loose them to a savvier competitor you’d better keep up.”
There has been a paradigm shift in the way we access information and make our purchasing decisions both domestically and commercially. This has been the result of our relatively recent access to the internet at high speed (broadband), access to reliable sources of up to the minute information (Social Media) and real time collaborative discussion with our peers (Social Networking).

No longer are we at the whim of the PR and advertising executives who traditionally influenced our spending by coming up with clever slogans, catchy jingles or by dominating the premium media spots on TV, magazines and newsprint. In today’s highly competitive consumer society, when we want to purchase, to engage professional services, to travel or to be entertained we will ask our friends online and consult with our virtual networks as to what they would recommend and suggest. The key point here is if you are not part of that conversation you cannot be an influence to its direction and relevance to your own business.

There are many definitions of Social Media; here are a couple that I think are adequate for this conversation:
Social Media: are collections of data and information that is developed collaboratively and/or shared interactively amongst individuals or groups. Examples include Blogs, Wikis, and shared Bookmarks.

Social Networking: is the use of process and technology to support the discovery, formation and maintenance of personal and professional relationships. Examples include Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.
From a business perspective Social Media is a double edged sword. The majority of platforms are free and yet to get the best out of them there is a significant time investment required which comes at a cost to internal resourcing. There is a good argument for external outsourcing of this service but that will have to wait for a later post.

There are a few don’ts that have to be considered from the outset to avoid a very costly mistake made by many before you. Your brand and its values have been built up over many years so do not hand your most precious communications opportunity to the office junior just because he/she has a thousand Facebook friends and “knows all about it”. Your brand image must be maintained and communication made to a standard that reflects your goals, this can be undone and turned against you with poor judgement and business inexperience.

Don’t be too hasty to engage but engage you must. First watch and listen, in time you will be in a position to contribute and ultimately benefit. This needs to be approached as a long term strategy that takes planning and sound business advice that aligns directly with the existing goals of your organisation.

Here we expose the essential key to success, “strategy” and “planning” are fundamental to an effective social media campaign. The sad reality for many businesses is they have done little, and sometimes nothing in the way of formal planning making its application confusing, ineffective and potentially demoralising to all involved.

The best approach to any strategy session is to engage someone external who knows how to facilitate the entire procedure, to guide the conversation and bring out the most in every rank and personality that has anything to do with your operation.

Engagement and participation of the entire team is important, they all have something different to offer and if engaged in the process will take ownership and be a valuable contributor and active participant in the organisations future.

What does this have to do with Social Media you may ask, have we steered off subject? If you think we have then you are not in this for the long haul and will become quickly disillusioned with Social Media as a serious communications and promotional platform. Once you have a clear direction on what it is you want to achieve for your business only then can look to what products will suit your needs best.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Part 2: Social Media for Business – Why Bother?

You want to make more money don’t you? No matter what business you are in or what industry you represent the majority of us have one goal - to provide a product or service to a customer in exchange financial remuneration. It may be an over simplification but the fundamental exchange of goods for cash is what makes our collective survival and sustainability possible – both as a business and as individuals.

Business can be difficult even in the best of times, there are few of us, especially during a global financial recession, who can say that things are easy and life is a breeze right now. When times are good there is a tendency for corners to be cut, product quality and service levels to be not so closely monitored and staff or management not always being expected to perform to their greatest potential. Worst of all is customer service is way down on the list of priorities. Its times like now we start to comprehend the impact this is having on our business.

Taking any existing customer or potential client for granted is a big mistake.

Human nature and to some extent situational circumstances creates customer loyalty and with it desirable repeat business and referral. Look to your own purchasing habits to validate this. Where do you buy your bread and milk? Where do you fuel your car? Where do you get your hair cut? Now ask yourself, why?
Is it the quality of the service, the product, the price, or is it that you are made to feel valued when you give them your custom? What would it take for this purchasing habit to be changed? Would it be the result of their poor performance, bad service, a betrayal of the trust or would it be that someone else has made you feel more valued or offered you a better deal?

Customer loyalty is primarily about the relationship you have with the person who you exchange your hard earned cash with, you may even pay a premium price for your milk when you know the shopkeeper welcomes you by name, takes the time to listen or does something out of the blue that makes you or your family feel special or important. It may be as simple as stocking your favourite ice-cream, giving the kids a sweet free of charge once in a blue moon or remembering something you told him in passing like the date of your birthday.

I don’t have to convince you this is true, you know it is. So why do we fail to apply this simple logic to our own businesses and how we manage our own customer base.

The way we buy, the way we communicate has recently changed dramatically as a result of Social Media because we have a global communication network that never existed even a few years ago at our disposal. This change in the way we use the internet and the World-Wide-Web is why we now collectively refer to it as Web 2.0. Accessing this information and the live and interactive opinion of others is easilier, increasingly affordable, ubiquitous and portable. The size of this customer market - the digitally aware and proactive - is now too large to ignore and growing at an exponential rate. To put some perspective on this, if Facebook were a country it would be the 4th most populated in the world.

The question proposed here is, why should you bother with Social Media for your business?
Put simply, ignore it at your peril because leaving it to later may just be to late.
Your existing and potential customers are seeking the opinion and getting feedback from each other on many, if not most of their buying decisions right now. They are doing this via Facebook, in Twitter on YouTube and in their own blogs.

Paradoxically it’s the old fashioned values of maintaining conversations, keeping customers updated and informed, making them feel valued and allowing your advocates tell others about your great service is what makes the emerging social media communications strategies a success in both PR and financial return for businesses of all sizes.

The number one rule to remember is that social media are above all, a social tool. Our usual social norms apply just as well in the offline world, and this means treating customers with respect, being open and transparent, and being interesting and engaging.

Sure its going to take time, there are learning curves to be experienced and some tough decisions to be made - but the only thing you can’t afford to do is wait. Social Media is a long game, not a quick fix. If you are not participating, like the corner store who doesn’t understand the value of good service, your customers will simply drive on by and spend their money elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Part 1: Social Media for Business - why, what, when, who, and how?

It’s not surprising business people are confused by Social Media. It’s been thrust upon us and heralded by some as the only way to communicate and the demise of traditional media. Yet do any of us really understand why we should bother, let alone what we are dealing with or how this will make a difference to our business?

I have been engaged in online marketing for many years; I have seen what can be done with good online marketing campaigns and witnessed plenty of failures. Websites are fundamentally easy to understand; they are a system and a product, more aligned with traditional media than this emerging new media landscape.

Websites have been part of the business toolkit since the first one was published some 18 years ago and since then they have essentially remained the same - structured information portals with a set of predetermined outcomes, “See Me”, “Try Me”, “Buy Me” … me, me, me.

The fundamental change as a result of Social Media is you. You are no longer an observer, you are a participant, you have a voice and your voice can make quite a difference to the conversation that is taking place … you, you, you.

Because Social Media and the endless array of applications that support it are so new there are few trusted, let alone tested best practice methodologies in place for us to apply to our businesses with any degree of confidence.
We are starting to see conflicting messages adding the fuel of uncertainty about “is this for me” with stories of damaged reputations and brands pouring water on the initial fires of enthusiasm we may have experienced.

Yet the unprecedented growth in the global use of Social Media is hard to ignore for any opportunity hungry entrepreneur and commercially savvy business person. In essence this is why many of us are struggling with the concept of Social Media engagement from a business perspective; it seems we are damned if we do and more damned if we don’t. Perhaps the answer eludes us because we haven’t yet determined what the question is.

One question we do have to ask ourselves right now is - what will be the short and long term impact on my business if I do nothing?

The greatest burden to most business people is their lack of spare time. We are so busy creating new products or dealing with customer demands that adding something new to the business model invariably won’t be on anyone’s top priority list. To be attractive in the short term existing problems need to be eliminated or improved cash flow achieved and is Social Media able to deliver on either of these demands?

I have been experimenting with blogs, managed several twitter accounts for myself and clients, I have experimented with social networks ranging from LinkedIn to Facebook, hosted webinars, dabbled with video and podcasts, listened to the experts and spoken to the uninitiated. The outcome of this is I still have more questions than answers.

To create some clarity for myself, and I hope for you too I am going to approach this as series of questions related to Social Media and how it applies to business over the coming weeks. Why, what, when, who, and last but by no means least, how?

Being a series on Social Media and its impact on our businesses your involvement is not only important but essential. Please do not hesitating in giving me your thoughts, ideas and opinions so we can share and learn together.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Social Media Tourist

When it comes to planning travel, people generally trust what other people say about their experience of accommodation, tours, dining and related activities. When a traveler has had a great experience they immediately share it with friends and family, human nature it seems requires them to broadcast to a wider audience about poor experiences.

Because of emerging digital social networks these items get shared and referenced by a much larger audience which can range from a few hundred to many thousands of individuals.

For operators inside the tourist trade the question is not whether your business, your competitor, or your industry is being discussed - it is part of a global conversation taking place right now. The question now must be are you going participate in that conversation or not?

I have the good fortune of presenting tomorrow at the e-Tourism Conference in Wellington on the topic of Social Media.

We are following this up with two free webinars called “The Social Media Tourist” for those at the conference or anyone wanting to know more on how Social Media can impact on your business. Go to our website here for more detail and to register.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When the Penny Drops – Paradigm Shifts.

We’ve all had an “Ah-ha!” experience at some stage, you know the “when the penny drops” moment. Today’s Web2.0 business environment is still such an unknown quantity to many it’s little wonder the penny hasn’t dropped there for a large majority. This isn’t helped much when up and coming marketing stars scramble to reinvent old ideas by cloaking them with trendy new terminology and jargon. Making sense of it all can be frustratingly confusing.

Don’t panic, for inspiration in our personal and business direction it can be comforting and rewarding to look back at some of the old masters of business thought leadership.

One of my first memorable “Ah-ha!” moments was brought about from Napoleon Hill’s best selling masterpiece “Think and Grow Rich”. Inspired by a suggestion from Scottish-American billionaire Andrew Carnegie this book was first published in 1937 during the Great Depression. Like many quality business authors this was not just an opinion but a gathering of wisdom and best practice from decades of research. So powerful was its message to me, it literally changed my life. I changed vocation from being a mechanical engineer and headed into the advertising field almost overnight, a complete shift in personal and professional direction from which I have never looked back.

Another visionary master of literary genius from a business perspective is Stephen Covey. I was revisiting his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” yesterday and in his first chapter the commentary on “the Power of a Paradigm” really struck a chord with me.

We take from the guidance of others what we choose to. For each of us what is presented and recommended can mean completely different things. Covey refers to this influence as a series of personal paradigms not unlike a road map, and like any maps they are only as good as the information they contain. If we place too much reliance in flawed maps we will be misguided or worse, lost forever.

Covey goes on to say that there are two types of map amongst the many we mentally use to guide ourselves, one set covers realities, the real world stuff, and the other relates to the way things should be, our values. This reinforces what I consistently advocate as part of my business mentoring sessions. I emphasise the importance of a good strategic planning process to help guide company owners through business uncertainties. I always accentuate the importance of identifying and maintaining their list of personal values as an ultimate guide.

What I like about Covey is he does not preach, he takes advise from others, he reads others work profusely and after many years of making mistakes and successes from real world experience has made his own conclusions. These he shares with his readers with an eloquence and conviction that I admire.

This importance of understanding the power of the paradigm and ultimately the “Ah-ha!” moments that contribute to “paradigm shifts” is highlighted beautifully in this piece that I will quote Covey on. It illustrates nicely how we look at things differently, make our own conclusions and are the only ones who can change our lives, our business and our world for the better by being a more positive influence.
Add to this how the smallest piece of information can completely change our point of view and it is a powerful demonstration of the theory in action.

To quote Covey from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

“I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday Morning on a Subway in New York. People were sitting quietly – some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.

Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.

The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people's papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.

It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all.

It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, "Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn't control them a little more?"

The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh you're right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don't know what to think, and I guess they don't know how to handle it either."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Are you planning to fail your business?

No-one goes into business planning to fail - do they? I was reading some quotations yesterday and one from Michael Gerber really got me thinking,
“Why is it that with all the information available today on how to be successful in small business, so few people really are?”
In this enlightened communications age we have all the answers and advise on business best practice easily accessible, yet we still blunder headlong into the unknown with the kiwi catch phrase “she’ll be right mate” on hand to justify our lack of direction. The old saying fail to plan, plan to fail is unnervingly accurate in business and sadly a primary factor in the failure or failed potential of many ventures. All the information in the world is of little use to anyone unless it is verified, filtered, and recorded in an easy to reference and easier to follow road map.

I have had the good fortune to be CEO of a large business organisation that trained and networked with a wide cross section of the business community. I am still a business mentor, volunteering my time to give advice and assistance to those evolved enough to seek it. I’ve even had the honour on a number of occasions to be a judge at regional business and export awards, digging deep into what makes successful business tick. What does makes the thriving business stand out from the mediocre is they know what they are doing, why they are doing it and who has the responsibility for making this happen. Simply put they have a strategy (Direction) and a business plan (Actions) that support it. Sustainable growth and development can only be achieved by structured and formal planning that is committed to paper and revisited often.

Many businesses may have done a token business plan during start up phase to appease their bank manager or accountant, this they would have then filed and never given a second glance. Even fewer have even contemplated, yet attempted a formal strategic planning process, dismissing this as something done by “big business”.

Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) are a significant contributor to employment and the New Zealand economy. Being small gives them an advantage over larger businesses in that they can react to market, consumer, fiscal and environmental changes much quicker than their generously proportioned counterparts. Change can be seen by some as threatening and challenging, but executed correctly it is an opportunity. This can only be realised or even contemplated when business finances, processes and staffing are carefully monitored, evaluated and maintained in readiness for this opportunity.

Business Plan vs Strategic Plan

Writing a business plan is different from strategic planning. A business plan is developed when something new is proposed - a business or a product/service line within a business. Strategy looks to growth while business planning looks to beginnings.

Without a strategy your business has no direction. While strategic planning shouldn't be all you do in your business, it should be an integral part of it. Every action taken should fit with the direction you want the business to go - so every action should be in alignment with your strategy. That means every employee knows the strategy and understands their part in making it happen - and in helping change it, if that is needed. No strategy should be set in stone. It needs to be revisited and revised at regular intervals, again related to how quickly your industry is changing.

It is not possible to do justice to the right and wrongs of the planning process. The message here is it must be done, and done sooner than later. Search online or seek the advice of a professional to assist you through the strategic planning process. The latter is probably preferable if your budget allows given an independent facilitator can give impartial and non-emotive advice to help you step back and address the real issues associated to the development of you business. And you must be involved throughout the process, if you aren’t committed and passionate about the direction of your business no-one else is going to be.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Social Media for Business - Want to know what, why or how?

Companies have been using social media primarily as a general communications tool - mostly for public relations and marketing and that’s about to change.

Businesses are now discovering its real value as an essential tool for customer engagement- providing lead generation, immediate customer contact, and customer interaction.

The use of social media now surpasses e-mail as the most popular Internet activity with two-thirds of the world’s Internet users having visited a social networking site in 2008.
“It is where your customers are now and it is significantly influencing the way they are making their purchasing decisions.”
Because more people are using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogs and Wikipedia, companies are discovering that properly executed social media marketing strategies are opening up new avenues to engage prospects, customers, potential employees and the media.

Want to know more of how to use Social Media in Business?

Our popular webinar series “Gateway to Web 2.0” is a no nonsense three webinar series at just $95NZ (Plus GST) a small investment with a huge return. Participation includes a “Social Media Strategy Workbook” and a “Get going on Social Media Task Sheet” at no extra cost.

Places are limited to enable good interaction with participants and dates are scheduled based on registration demand. Secure a place now by registering your interest here

This workshop is aimed at the ordinary business person who is short on time and has an ever diminishing marketing budget in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Find out how you can make the most of the free tools available to take your product or service global, how to keep in touch with an expanding customer base and get referral you had previously thought impossible.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Six, five, four, three, two degrees of separation, Blast off with LinkedIn

The concept of six degrees of separation, sometimes referred to as "the human web" has applied to human social engagement for many years. According to a new mobile provider; "in New Zealand everyone knows someone, who knows someone who knows them," making it two degrees of separation.

Let's take two reasonably topical subjects of late, swine flu and that massive $36 million lotto prize draw. A good friend of mine was UNLUCKY enough to be one of the first to catch the dreaded H1N1 after a trip to the States and another friend LUCKY enough to win big in the record breaking prize pool after a trip to the post shop. That's only one degree of separation so there really is something in this expanding circle of personal acquaintances theory.

This has to be good for business right? One of the most powerful tools for business growth is referral from established networks. In days of old (that's pre 90's before the World Wide Web) it was all down to word of mouth and exchanging of business cards at the local Chamber of Commerce function, the proverbial who's who of the old boys club.

Thanks to Social Media and the expansions of Web 2.0 communities that's all changed forever. The degree of separation between you and your next customer, associate or collaborator in business is closer than you may expect. Now, if only there was a way of managing your contacts and understanding their linkages, mutual acquaintances, spheres of influence and areas of interest. Mix this in with an orderly structure of discussions and a way of permission based communication and wouldn't that just be perfect?

You already know the answer - there is the perfect solution - it's easy to engage in, it's being used by millions of professionals worldwide with rave review, and best of all its free. It's called LinkedIn and can be found at

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site launched in May 2003 used predominantly for professional networking. It has more than 43 million registered users spanning 170 industries from 200 countries and territories around the world.

The purpose of LinkedIn is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. The people in the list are called Connections. Users can invite anyone, whether a LinkedIn user or not, to become a connection. The site shows you what connections you have in common with other people and to what degree of separation you have with other users. You can use this information to seek introductions with mutually acquainted people and keep informed of introductions being made within your own circle of connections.

This "Facebook for Grown-ups" is feature rich with groups, discussion forums, jobs opportunities, collaborative initiatives and more. My only piece of advice is if you are in business then establish a profile now and start linking with people you do business with. Do not be concerned about the number of connections you have, focus instead on quality relationships and enjoy the networking potential and opportunity this product will reward you and your business with.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Do we have the right to switch off the machine?

A business acquaintance, Dr. Roy Davies asked the question on his blog recently, “Whether a machine that displays all the outward signs of life is actually alive and do we have the right to turn it off?”
I know Roy understands machines; as a computer scientist/engineer he has a deep understanding of human factors and usability issues which he has applied to numerous Virtual Reality and Internet applications.
This questions has been circulating the online world for a while now and it is a very thought provoking one. Just because a machine imitates life and develops an ability to learn and reason does that make a it alive? It's hard to enter this conversation without sounding like a conspiracy theorist but we also have to match this question with "when does the machine decide we are redundant or worse a threat?" If you really need to research this then there are plenty of science fiction themes (iRobot, Terminator, Transformers, Matrix) that explore this concept.
It’s not an outlandish claim with historic evidence such as Moore’s Law and the progress of technology that what we can imagine will be reality before long.
I would go as far as saying we need to make all machines with off switches as standard and be wary of anyone who argues otherwise.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saving the Planet one meeting at a time.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a greenie but taking an interest in our environment and the impact carbon emissions and congestion has on our lives shouldn’t need a label. Just look at the effect school holidays has on travel times in Auckland. There seems to be half the traffic and getting around is considerably more effective and less stressful.

I am a realist so understand issues facing us all because of commuting necessity, but if we all did one thing a day that resulted in one less trip in the car the impact would be significant. With about 652,000 cars in Auckland alone that is a lot of fuel and emission that could be eliminated.

This blog is not entirely altruistic, it does so happen that our company has a way that can easily remedy that time consuming and costly travel time to meetings, training and presentations.

Our company, MondayMorning, uses emerging web based technologies (Web 2.0) to educate business people about more effective communications without the cost and environmental impact of travel. Cloud computing and Webinars are just two examples of tools we utilise that can not only reduce the carbon footprint of a business but significantly improve communication efficiencies, team collaboration and ultimately the culture of an organisation. Reducing costs, improving efficiencies and helping our environment has to be a win win.

Talk to us about joining one of our business training webinars, hosting your own or getting our help and advice in getting to grips with this technology.

And as a footnote this post was inspired by a website I was directed to on twitter this weekend. It’s a New Zealand social marketing campaign to create awareness about our carbon emission responsibilities called “Sign On”. Over 65,000 New Zealanders have already Signed On, from Lucy Lawless, Stephen Tindall and Cliff Curtis through to Rhys Darby and of course, me too... Take a look and if you think you would like to add your voice then do so here

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Social Media In Plain English

There are a lot of explanations about what Social Media is, and what isn't. In fact the growth of Social Media itself has enabled this to become one of the most popular and talked about topics of all time.

There is no real secret to using Social Media (beware of those selling them at "buy now" prices), it just comes down to what environment makes you comfortable, what tools we like to use and finding a "community", "tribe", "clan" or "gathering" that makes you welcome, safe and relevant. Once this has been achieved then you can engage, speak your mind, share your knowledge and learn from those who share in your passion, interests and opportunities.

Social Media has created a shift in the way we can conduct our business. The old outward marketing technique of broadcasting your message to the wind is no longer viable or affordable on most SME's working budget. We as consumers have too much distraction, too many TV channels, publications, radio stations and can flick from one to another at choice. In fact surveys of teens show that they are turning off the TV and turning more to their computers.

The internet is maturing beyond a tool for research to an integrated communications and entertainment portal thanks to better connectivity and cheaper and increasingly mobile hardware.

I found inspiration today through a NZ based website called Business Blogs, recommended to me by a friend, a great read and a good source of information written by everyday people like you and me.

And it was there I found this nice explanation of Social Media using an analogy of one of my favourite things, ice-cream.. Enjoy

Monday, June 15, 2009

Are you ready to start blogging yet? If not get reading some …

Are you considering writing a Blog? From a business perspective Blogs can be a goldmine if aligned correctly with your other communications and marketing initiatives. Easy to say, much harder to put into practice, first you have to ask yourself “why am I doing this and do I have something of value to say?" Social media commentators talk about the need of “establishing yourself as a thought leader”. This quite simply is demonstrating to your readers that you are an expert on a given topic and worth their time investment.

We can compare bloggers to traditional newspaper columnists because it’s the same principle. You attract readers because your opinion is some or all of the following; educational, thought provoking, inspirational, controversial, motivational or entertaining. If you don’t capture the attention of the readers first time they will move on, possibly to your direct competitor.

There’s plenty of theory and instruction by well seasoned professionals on how to write a great blog. Some basic concepts you have to consider include maintaining some consistency in your message, your writing style, publishing frequency and of course the topic. A great advantage with the self published Blog is you can inject some personality, be yourself. Always keep in mind you are representing your brand so don’t let that down by getting too personal or controversial and regretting it later. As with any form of publishing it is important to respect others and understand there are codes of conduct inclusive of civil laws and copyright that must be observed. Once you hit the publish button your private thoughts are in the public domain, and you may not only be answerable for what you say but accountable.

The more niche your area of expertise is the easier it is to gain a relevant “following”. Using social mediums like Twitter allows you to target “followers” or readers who have an interest in your area of knowledge and then point them to your blog or website. Any good marketing or communications initiative does require some advance thinking (Strategic Planning) so your time is invested effectively. I’ll be covering more on that at a later date

I read blogs to gain insight into what others are thinking and to alert me to new ideas or products. At last count I subscribe to about 15 Blogs using Google Reader. Technically Google Reader is a Web-based aggregator, capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds online or offline. In plain English it’s a tool for reading Blogs I select at a time that suits me without having to move from one site to another. There are lots of versions of these “RSS Readers” available so just pick one that suits you and subscribe to this or any other blog of your choice.

Here’s a couple of recommended thought leading bloggers to get you going if you have an interest in the Web 2.0 or Social Media environment.

Web Strategy by Jerimiah Owyang

Happy reading

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Should you auto DM new followers on Twitter?

I am writing this because I don’t yet have definitive answers myself. Should I auto DM my new Twitter followers or not?

I have two accounts; there is me as a person @craignetworker, and me as a business @mondaymorningnz and I was considering using the auto DM for the latter to let people know we offer free webinars on the subject of webinars for business.

I have chosen not to auto DM to date because most of the social media gurus I follow and respect most say not to. In fact some go as far as saying that they will un-follow or remove anyone that engages in this practice.

Does this mean I haven’t got value from auto DM’s I’ve received? The answer to that is yes, I have got value, I have followed links that have caught my attention and have learnt and gained valuable information as a result. After all isn’t that the whole idea of marketing, using every opportunity to gain someone’s attention and promote you?

It does come down to what you are using Twitter for. Is it to establish trust and build relationships, or is it to create profile for your business or service.

If you want to engage in long term trusted relationships then I would suggest no to auto DM’s, they come across as insincere and impersonal, because they are. The other down side of this practice is they make the DM inbox ineffective for communication. I get so many I just delete them without reading anymore and tend to focus on my @replies.

If you are looking to promote your brand then give auto DM a try using a product like TweetLater. But one caveat I would put on this is be sure to offer something of real value otherwise it is just spam and time wasting for all concerned.

Please let me know if you have a tried and tested theory on this subject. I would love the hear from you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Now you are on Twitter: What's next?

It amazes me how people seem to have such a love hate relationship with Twitter. I have spoken to some very tech savvy, web using, business folk who have flatly refused twitter as part of their marketing strategy. I suspect they will come around eventually.

The analogy I have taken to using lately is that Web 1.0 (or websites filled with static web pages) was a little like filling a library with books. Twitter (and it Web 2.0 cousins) is the equivalent of letting people into that same library and they are excitedly letting each other know what they are finding and where to look for it.

 It doesn’t surprise me too that so many people drop off after engaging with it – up to 40%. This from a business perspective should be a good thing as I would suspect that they are predominantly the time wasters who are just filling space with idle noise rather than contributing to any real thread of thought or conversation.  

I am experimenting with ways of using twitter for various clients, currently having the greatest impact on specialty subjects like wine presently.  More generalist areas such as business I am still unsure of the immediate benefit of Twitter as a tool. Having said that I have noticed increased traffic to our website and blog as a direct result of tweets – there I’ve just answered my own question.

It also has the benefit that randomness brings when the occasional news item or link flashes past that one picks up on. One thing that does rather alarm me is some people are using twitter to communicate. It still blows me away that people send emails and get twitchy if you haven’t replied within two minutes. I barely refer to the twitter DM’s (Direct Messages) any more as they are filled with impersonal auto responds from those I have chosen to follow.
As to where from here, we just need to catch up and find the right box for twitter to fit into, or at least wait until a better box is invented. A recent preview of the Google Wave platform managed to send chills of fear down my spine mingled with curious anticipation of the next generation of email meeting real time texting meeting Web 2.0 interactivity.  Now if only I could get this into 140 characters or less I would tweet it…

More reading about Google Wave here

Monday, May 25, 2009

10 Twitter tools for busy business people – and why.

My experience with Twitter so far has been predominantly positive. Initial misgivings have moved aside and I have now adopted a more focussed approach to the Twitter potential as a productive business tool. 

This potential has been realised by the discovery of some very useful tools that made twitter move from a random jumble of short messages to a massive network of valuable conversation. Twitter has been around for a few years now so if you haven’t engaged yet why bother, right? I would suggest you may want to reconsider.

I guess its a little like Neo’s discovery of the Matrix in the cult classic Wachowski brother trilogy. As Morpheus so eloquently put it” I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it. “ 

We can ignore Twitter as a passing fancy and hope it goes away, but somehow I think its here to stay. If you don’t use it there’s one thing that is for certain, your competition will be using it to their advantage.  

Here are ten suggested tools to get you started.

1: Twitter Search
A start-up concept that was just last month acquired by Twitter. Use the advanced search features to drill down content by keyword, location, attitude (positive or negative) link content and more. 
Business use – target followers who have an interest in your industry, track conversations that have relevance to your business.

2: TweetDeck
This is my desktop tweet management tool of choice. TweetDeck is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook and more. TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organised and up to date. Also a handy tool for shortening URL’s on the go. Download application for Free.
Business use – Keep track of direct messages and use the search function to track keywords that may have relevance to your business in breal time.

3: Tweetburner
Tweetburner allows you to track the website links you post on Twitter and find out how many times people clicked on the link. It does this by converting the link to a short URL and tracking how many times this URL was used to transport someone to the destination website.
Business use – Track your messages and know how effective they are.

Post your tweets to over 40 social media sites with a single post
Business use – Save time and spread the word.

5: Twitpic
Post photos on Twitter via your phone, and API or from their site.
Business use – A picture tells a thousand words.

6: Tweetstats
Get a visual graph of your tweet frequency, replies and other detail. For your, or someone else’s account. Nice additional feature is the “twitcloud” showing your most frequent words used in your tweet history.
Business use – Good tools for reporting against your strategy

7: Twist.Flaptor
This Twitter tool shows trends within the Twittersphere by graphing your keyword selection by the date. Just enter in words or concepts separated by a comma, for instance Hillary, Obama, and search. Each item is colour coded, and as you move across the graph, you’ll see numbered comparisons. On the home page you’ll find a list of things that are ‘hot now’ and things that were ‘hot before’. 
Business use – See what people are talking about.

8: Twitterlocal
Desktop application that allows you to search tweets from  a specified location. E.g. within100km from your location.
Business use – Find out who is discussing what in your neighbourhood.

9: Twitterholic
See where you rank in the Twittersphere overall or by your selected region. Top 100 – Top 1000 – search your profile, or others.
Business use – Great tool for tracking your twitter growth strategy

10: VisibleTweets
This one is a bit of indulgence, after all even business should involve a bit of escapism and enjoyment on occasion.  Great visual tool to display your tweets via some very clever animation, choose letter by letter, rotation or clod.
Business use – This would be great for trade shows or in the waiting room of the office, memorising and attention getting way of displaying your tweets to a passive audience.