Archive for March, 2009

Social Media – The Wrong Place for a “Push” Campaign

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

DBU031Remember a few years back, right around dinnertime the phone would ring, you’d pick it up and you’d hear “Stay Tuned for this important announcement from [insert company name here]?” Then they’d put you on hold and expect you to hang around for the sales pitch?

Whose dorky idea was that??

I’ve tossed my land line, so I’m less likely to get those recorded announcements, but I suspect they have mostly gone to the Lousy Marketing Ideas graveyard anyway. Why were the recorded phone broadcasts so terrible, compared to getting ads in the newspaper, on TV and in the mail?

Here’s the reason: the telephone is an intimately interactive medium. It demands a speaker and a listener ON BOTH ENDS. Even when one side is carrying on the bulk of the conversation, it’s the job of the speaker to check in with the listener, who indicates their engagement with the “Yeah…uh huh” interlocution (now there’s a big linguistics word from my past) that we all come to expect on the phone. It’s why we tend to bristle at the automatic phone tree when we enter corporate telephone systems. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that if I want to do business with a machine, I’ll use my computer. If I’m on the phone, I would really like to talk to a real person.

And guess what we are discovering on the social media networks, particularly Twitter? It, too, is an interactive medium, where we expect conversation, or at least a sense that the person sending the updates and the tweets is a real person, as interested in what you have to say as in what they have to say to you.

So is there room in the social media universe for a “recorded announcement”? Heaven knows, you can even set these up in advance with tools like HootSuite and Tweet Later. These are very fine tools if you don’t want to hang out in the Twittersphere all day just to be visible. You can actually automate some of your communications while you are away, getting work done.

The answer is yes, there is room – BUT you have to be very careful how you use your automatic tweets (and updates – this applies to places like Facebook and LinkedIn, too). It’s better if you are sending a bit of news or a helpful hint that your followers might actually like to hear. You can schedule these ahead of time if you like, but please mix it up with real-time conversations with the people whom you find interesting, and vice versa. I try to spend a short burst of time in the morning, mid-day and in the evening for my Twitter conversations.

More important, don’t let an autoresponder be your first interaction with a new person in your Twitter network. I tried this for about a month, and got rid of it. It sends the wrong message, even if that message isn’t all about you. Mine said “Thanks for following me. I’ll follow you back, and I look forward to your tweets”. Innocuous enough, but I actually got replies of “Thank You!” when I announced that I was shutting it off.

Everybody wants to feel appreciated. Social Media is a place for that appreciation and engagement. It’s not for the “push” marketing message.

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Social Media – as important to business as a telephone?

Posted on March 24, 2009. Filed under: Small business communications, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Which tools is more important to your business – social networking sites or a telephone?

retro telephone

Does it seem like a ridiculous question?

Up until this past year, I’m sure the standard answer would have been, “My telephone is an essential business tool.  Social networking – you mean Facebook? MySpace?  They’re a total waste of time, and I don’t let my employees use them at work.”

How things change, and yet remain the same. Think back to the tv series of old, where the boss says “Miss Smith, take a letter.”  That directive comes from a time when telephones were seen as a less-than-concrete way to do business.  If the order wasn’t in writing, then how could you be sure it happened?  Right through the 50s and 60s, telephones weren’t an obvious feature of every employee’s desk.  If everyone had access to a phone, then how could an employer be sure that Fred in accounting wasn’t spending precious working hours talking to his girlfriend?

Eventually, the business case for telephones trumped any fears, grounded or not, about their potential for misuse at work.  And this is the stage we are at with the adoption of social media tools for business right now.

Business owners know that people are spending less time in front of the TV, or at least being captive to the ads, and more time in front of the computer screen.  And that screen time is, more often than not, tied in some way to the Internet and the many interactive ways that we use it.   It’s where we go when it’s time to get a movie or a restaurant recommendation.  We log on increasingly to file our tax returns, to look up information on our children’s schooling and our parents’ aging.   The internet is the place where we spend our social time and do a ton of shopping.  And increasingly, we are sharing that information with friends, followers and connections on social networking sites.   If social networking sites are where customers are hanging out, then you can bet that business people looking to build relationships with their current and potential clients are going to want to meet them at those hangouts.

Put that way, it seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  As important to business as a telephone? That day may well be here.  But using social networking sites efficiently for business is an art, much like the business use of a phone.  More on that in my next post.

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“Only Connect” – Why I’m Renaming My Blog

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: Small business communications | Tags: , , , , , |

connect1It’s all about taking action, folks.

“Sea Change” requires a name change
I’ve had this little blog since the end of November, and its existence has coincided with a fascinating sea change in the way I do business.  What started out as a vaguely self-absorbed exploration of my own life coming to terms with and even thriving with ADHD (yes, grown women can have it too) insisted on evolving into a place where I could talk about my business.  At the same time, I went from de facto employee with one major client and a couple of side projects to full-time business writer and PR and Marketing consultant.  In December, I thought this blog was going to be about the area of expertise where I’ve always had a sharp edge: getting your message out to the right people, at the right time, in the right language.

I had no idea that social media was going to become such a huge part of the picture. (See “Social Media: My Christmas Project Run Amok” for my initial thoughts as I dove into the pool).  But here I am at the beginning of March – and helping clients get a feel for social media has become as much a part of what I do as the actual writing and editing consults.

Time to take action
Then this morning on Twitter, one of my good buddies ADHDParenting (actually, Debra Sale Wendler) asked which pitch was more interesting: “Kids w ADHD 5 conditions under which child can pay attention. OR, 5 things that MUST happen B4 discipline works”  Forgive the formatting folks, she only has 140 characters to pose the question.

Well, give me the “5 Things That MUST happen” even better – “5 Things You Can Do”.  Why?  Because it’s information you can act on.  I’m always harping on about how “what X is” messages pale next to “what X does” messages.  And it’s time to apply that message to myself.

What X Does > What X Is
“The Message Maven” may be what I am.  Actually, I’m kinda tired of the term “maven” – so even that may need a facelift. You’re going to be more interested in what I do – even better, what I do for you, or what I wish we could all do a bit better.  And the answer to that is in one of my favourite literary quotations, from the novel Howard’s End, by EM Forster.

Only Connect.  That’s what we are aiming for each time we reach out to friends, potential clients, mentors, whoever.  It’s the bedrock philosophy behind everything that happens on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and any number of other social media sites, blogs, bookmarking services and what-have-you on the Web.  It’s a second-person imperative, for you grammar geeks out there.  I’m asking myself and the whole world to do something, and something good: to touch people with our messages.  To affirm the community that we are a part of, online and off.

Thankfully, the URL and feed of this blog will stay the same, so I don’t have to rewire all the places that I feed this blog.  It’ll still show up on Facebook, LinkedIn, MetroCascade, and feeding to my Twitter Account through Twitterfeed.  Yes, if you want to turboboost your blog in the same way, I can help you…

I hope you like the new name, the new focus and the new energy that comes with it!

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