May 31, 2011

Is Your Company Socialized?

The Ever-Growing To-Do List

We could probably theorize for the next five years about what channels work best, who knows more, what blog templates are most effective, how to maximize your search results and a long list of things we are all supposed to care about these days.

Last week, the internet connection went down in my office for three hours. I called my provider and in fact there was a problem in the area of my office. It got me thinking how reliant we are on technology. How reliant are we on each other?

Technology meets Human Collaboration

Next week, I have the privilege of writing a guest post for Mark Schaefer. His Grow Community is growing in leaps and I am honoured he asked me to help out. I decided to write about a passion of mine and that is building social business. I will make note of the guest post here as well.

This is a collective out of Copenhagen called Leader Lab which is doing fascinating work in the area of social business.



Kneale Mann

visual credit: leaderlab

May 30, 2011

Ideas are Cheap

Think Pink

Mary Ash was born on May 12, 1918. When she was six years old, she had to look after her ill grandfather while her mother was the working to provide for the family. Throughout her life, Mary’s mother had a huge impact her, and she attributed her spirit to her mother who encouraged her with the words, "You can do it." When Ash passed away in 2001, her company, Mary Kay Cosmetics, had over 800,000 representatives in 37 countries with total annual sales over $2 billion.

Dude Gets One

On February 23, 1965, Michael was the new son to a stockbroker and an orthodontist. He was an inquisitive kid who was always tinkering with something. At only eight years old, he applied to take his high school equivalency exam. By the time he was fifteen, he was making money with his investments in stocks and precious metals. In 2010, Dell Inc. made $61.49 billion in gross revenue and $2.63 billion in net revenue. And Michael Dell’s personal wealth is estimated at $14.6 billion.

Square and Fresh

Dave never knew his mother. She died five weeks after his birth and he was adopted a week later. At just twelve, he got his first part-time job at The Regas Restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. When he was fifteen, he got a job at Hobby House Restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His father informed him that the family was going to move and he decided to drop out of school and stay. He spent the rest of his life working as an advocate for adoption and education. At the time of Dave Thomas' death in 2002, Wendy’s sold millions of Old Fashioned Hamburgers a year in over 6,000 restaurants.

Secret of Success

We love the stories of hard work and success. And it’s easy to look at these examples and think these people always had clear vision and knew they would find success at such a high level. The truth is, it takes a lot of help from many others in each case to realize the dream. There were mistakes and victories. It’s easy to look at the numbers.

Seth Godin says that most people fall short because it’s easier to fail small. It may be our fear of failure. It could be our fear of success. Perhaps it’s our fear of the unknown. But it doesn't matter when the idea resides in theory where nothing can harm it.

Got any ideas? Ready to share them? Yeah, me too!

Kneale Mann

image credit: istock

May 29, 2011

Friendship and Other Inspiration

One to One Rapport

Most media are consumed on a very personal level. We rarely tweet in a roomful of people, we don’t often sift through our Facebook newsfeed with friends gathered around and with the exception of attending networking events or conferences, we often connect to each other one-on-one.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share inspirational posts written by three people I have met in three different ways. The next time you feel suspicious about the social web, sit a while and strike up a conversation. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Drew McLellan | Run Your Race

I first heard about Drew three years ago through a colleague who suggested I read his blog because she thought I’d connect with a lot of what he was writing about and she was bang on. It was an instant addition and remains a daily stop. Drew and I finally met at SobCon2010 and ended up having a wonderful conversation with the promise to stay in touch and we have done that.

Drew runs his own marketing firm in Des Moines, Iowa, is one of the most respected marketing minds on the planet and recently wrote a piece that touches us all. Sweet man, gifted writer and savvy business guy who cares about helping his clients and loves his daughter very much.

Bret L Simmons | Intimate Leadership

My first contact with Bret was through some astute comments he made here. He is a bright, insightful guy who just happens to also be a university professor in Reno, Nevada teaching an MBA course in Marketing and Leadership.

Bret and I had a delightful phone conversation a couple of months ago and have kept in touch. Bret is a solid guy, wicked smart and a great writer.

Erika Napoletano | All That We Love

I didn’t know this fiery essence of emotion and brilliance from Denver, Colorado until I saw her in action, also at SobCon2010. She had questions for presenters, good questions, insightful questions, brave questions, yeah I wish I had thought of that questions. I was hooked. I got home and started reading. A few weeks later we connected on the phone and she has more energy in her earlobe than I have in my entire body. (Inside joke to those who know me - she makes me look asleep)

Erika swears on her blog, doesn't stand on ceremony and she speaks her mind. Oh and she kicks it hard and her clients love her. We all wish we had a bit more of her fortitude. And she’d be the first to crack us in the side of the head and tell us to stop whining and get on with it.

Enjoy them. Then go inspire someone.

Kneale Mann

image credit: freeextras

May 27, 2011

Does The Social Web Work?

Leprechauns meet Unicorns

People often ask if the social web is effective and like most questions, it can garner the response “it depends”. There’s a fantastic post by Peter Shankman that has been getting a lot of attention this week that sums up how some feel about people who try and sell you a bill of goods about social media.

Far too many people have decided to call themselves an expert. I am not a social media expert and neither are you. So quit it. Digital media is growing exponentially so it's only natural that thousands are trying to cash in on the rush.

Limited Time Offer

The social web will not work if you stand on a pulpit hoping others gather around your wisdom. It will not work if you deem yourself larger than the others around you. It will not work if you think you know more than they do.

People selling you ‘blog in a box’ or ‘gain a thousand followers a day’ solutions are no better than the 3am infomercial. That stuff has nothing to do with media and is not social. And it certainly has nothing to do with business or people.

Be Human

The social web works if you do. It will open doors, if you open them. You will meet incredible people you would never have met otherwise, if you unfold your arms and take the time to meet them. You will be introduced to business opportunities that may never been presented, if you present yourself with decorum and professionalism.

When someone asks if all this will work, my answer is simple. Many of the rich relationships I have gained in the last few years would simply not have happened without reaching out to people all over the world through many channels. They became clients, colleagues and friends because of the human connection, not the channels.

Will the social web work for you?

Kneale Mann

image credit: lesseverything

May 25, 2011

How Many I’s on Your Team?

Involve

Last week, I was meeting with a client and we got into exchanging business clichés. When she used the “There’s no “I” in team”, I corrected her. I relayed a post I had written here a couple of years ago and it reminded me that most people don’t sift through the archives. This was originally published in January 2009.

Imagine

We travel in packs, so it’s safe to say you more often work in a team environment. A group of people all wandering in different directions can be extremely dangerous. When we can share ideas with each other, magic can happen.

Inspire

One of the coolest television shows ever was Long Way Down featuring actor Ewan McGregor along with his best mate and fellow actor Charley Boorman. This was the follow-up to their original trip entitled Long Way Around which began in April 2004. The goal was to take the long way around the earth - on motorcycles.

Instigate

Charley, Ewan and their crew left from London, crossed over to mainland Europe then rode to France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada, into the U.S. and finally arrived in NYC. You don’t just wake up one more morning and try this. It takes a lot of preparation and a lot of people.

Integrate

In January 2004 the boys began intense physical training which included weights, boxing, and cardio. In between workouts, they joined the rest of the team for intense road planning research. They also had to educate themselves on issues such as possible bear attacks, language barriers, passports, every possible weather condition, medicine, proper supplies and just for fun there was a television crew filming everything from day one.

Improve

They also had to be trained to deal with survival issues, possible hostile environments and of course first-aid. Nutritionists, GPS experts and seasoned outdoor travelers were consulted. All this to prepare for their mammoth trip.

Implement

Three years later, they wanted to do another trip. This time, Scotland to South Africa. The same detail had to go in to this trip as with the last. They ran in to some passport issues and Ewan broke his leg which delayed things. But when you see them riding their bikes around the Great Pyramid of Giza or stopping to bungee jump over Victoria Falls, it's proof the prep was well worth it. Long Way Around was 115 days covering 15,000 miles. Long Way Down covered more than 20,000 miles in 85 days.

Initiate

You may not have the desire to spend twelve months of your life training and riding motorcycles but the elements are the same. Working in a team environment takes many moving parts and many talented people who can take thoughts and turn them into actions and results.

You have to imagine the idea, inspire the rest of the team to get moving, integrate everyone involved and implement the plan.

Give some thought to the I's on your team.

Kneale Mann

image credit: visualphotos

May 23, 2011

Relationships: Not About The Tools

Friends Are Not Free

I often recall the Dennis Miller classic when he referred to the two-for-one deal and ranted that two of crap is still crap. We are often looking for a deal, yet many get upset if we spend too much time talking about ourselves or our offering. So we want to buy stuff but talking about what we sell is a bad thing? Confusion ensues.

In the social web, you can be shunned if you pitch your wares yet no one I know has a bank that takes Twitter followers in lieu of mortgage payments. Or as Chris Brogan has infamously said, “my kids can’t eat a hug.” Making a living is a good thing and digital media are where we can gain relationships along interests not limited to geography.

Your Opinion is Not Free

I can only imagine the volume of requests some people get but I receive “could you give us your opinion” emails often. They just want me to have a quick look and let them know what I think. However, part of my business is business intelligence and ideas. When I inquire about budget, the request often disappears. Perhaps you can relate.

If a large international coffee chain had no customers in any of its more than 17,000 stores around the world, it would be out of business fairly quickly. Zero revenue for a week or two and the largest retailer on earth would be closing stores in short order. If you gave away your expertise, how long would your bottom line stay in the black?

Finding Customers Online is Not Free

If you're at a backyard barbecue, the conversations range from sports to the economy, the latest with the family to vacation plans. But eventually it gravitates to work, it always does. We spend far too much of our lives working for it not to be a significant part of our conversations. But how welcomed is the guy at the party handing out business cards? You can slam the stream with messages and some will bite. Or you can choose to build your online human network like you build your real life human network which takes longer but the rewards are more lasting. This is true for colleagues, clients, prospects, customers, friends and partners.

Respect each other, value your offer, revere their experience and measure the room. Rich human relationships aren’t born from unsolicited sales pitches, they take time. And over time you can get to know some special people. I am often blown away by the generosity of people I first met online.

Are you missing opportunities to build human relationships 
in your quest to build your business?

Kneale Mann

image credit: weblogcartoons

May 21, 2011

Building a Community

You don’t have to search long to find someone telling you how to build an online community. Connect here, join this, blog that, download there. Do it this way, do it that way, don’t do that, that won’t work. The virtual world can be like a nagging mom when all we want is to get at the cookies. This is a free collaborative space with no rules so it may be best that others stop telling us they own the rule book.

Ze Frank sent a video invite to a party in 2001. It was something that was supposed to go to 17 friends but was seen by millions. And for the past decade, Ze has been encouraging creation, community, comedy and collaboration.



Kneale Mann

video credit: TED

May 20, 2011

LinkedIn IPO: Looks Good on Paper

Initial Public Obsession

The online and business world was a tizzy Thursday as the LinkedIn Corporation went public. The initial public offering (IPO) put the stock price at $45 USD. It began the day on the New York Stock Exchange at 83 bucks, rocketed to $122.70 and ended the day at $94.25. And then to $93.26 following after hours trading.

LinkedIn was one of the hottest trending topics of the day, the blogosphere was a blur with new posts every few minutes and opinions were plentiful. The good news was dampened by worry that this was be the beginning of another dot.com bubble.

The Dice Rolls Again

Investment giant Warren Buffet doesn’t play in the speculation world because it’s not actual product and he is one of the wealthiest people on earth. While Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, once owned broadcast.com. In 1999, the company was making about $14 Million in annual revenue and Yahoo bought it later that year for $5.6 Billion in stock options. The question remains whether LinkedIn is worth $95 bucks a share, $950 bucks a share or 95 cents a share. Perhaps the only safe bet is the velocity of purchases for stocks will slow down.

Speculators are frothing at their keyboards for the day Facebook or Twitter announce their IPOs which some estimates say it will happen in the next 12-18 months. The question on most critics’ minds is whether either will be properly valued. And judging by first day LinkedIn trading mayhem, that is doubtful.

IPOs almost ground to a hault after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and others in late 2008 in the U.S. and have never returned to the frenzy of the initial dot.com boom-bubble-bust. This volatility would okay if you could buy low, sell high and get out before the floor caves in. It's doubtful anyone will ever know the value of LinkedIn and with an 8,000% increase in 24-hours, the numbers are tough to trust. MySpace anyone?

Is this the beginning of a dot.boom or a dot.bust?

Kneale Mann

May 18, 2011

What Makes a Great Leader?

Hint: It's Not on Your Business Card

You and I can think of those precious few people who have influenced our lives. They may be current or past direct reports, family members, friends or colleagues. Their contribution has been significant and has helped shape how we navigate the world.

We often say the person who is highest in the company’s organizational chart is the leader. But is that accurate in all cases? According to Wikipedia, leadership is the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. Well doesn’t that sound warm and fuzzy.

Is that how we describe those people who have touched our lives and made us better?
Is that what we aspire to be and do as we drive business and personal growth?

#Leadershipchat

Last fall, Steve Woodruff and Lisa Petrilli began a one-hour session on Twitter which happens Tuesdays at 8pm Eastern called Leadershipchat. Each week, they pick a topic or a guest co-host and anyone can contribute to the conversation. Feel free to join in.

There are hundreds of microblogging chats each week but leadershipchat is one I try not to miss. There are smart, insightful and helpful people and the hour goes by like it’s been ten minutes. If you are not on Twitter, simply go to search.twitter.com, type in “leadershipchat” or visit leadershipchat.net for transcripts.

This week’s topic was Leadership and Social Media.
Here are a few of the many highlights.

@LouImbriano If a leader hides from social media or any other method to communicate their message, then he/she is not a leader at all.

@ldiomede those who don't embrace change finish last.

@reginaconsults You need to know how to follow to lead. Otherwise how can you appreciate and empathize with your followers when leading

@tmustacchio 1% - most claim no time! RT @pegsta1: Anyone had any success getting their sales staff on board with Social Media?

@GailZahtz Poor leaders do want to be surrounded by yes men!

@ronenns SM is a great tool for employees to affect change. Pull the reluctant org or CEO into the conversation.

@Chris_Eh_Young If you think you're a leader but nobody is following you,you're just going for a walk. John C. Maxwell

@chieflemonhead SM is a platform - what it stands for a philosophy: open, honest, authentic. Those are key traits of today's leaders.

@thehealthmaven Good leaders charge ahead, no matter what arrows their critics are throwing

@swoodruff Face-to-face is crucial - SM is not a replacement.
Should be an enhancement.

@knealemann - @MatthewLiberty - Any outbound channel.Improved internal customer service creates improved external customer service.

@Starbucker SM just another form of communication. Good leader can communicate effectively. Why shouldn't leaders use SM?

@Grit08 SM helps leaders to connect to a multitude of conversations at a pace never experienced before and filter noise

@samfiorella: Best way for corp leaders to lead in SM is to step back, listen.

@gdahlby I agree that larger organizations have a more difficult time in keeping a narrow forcus on the SM message and methods.

@efrainm RT @knealemann: No one enjoys feeling lost or stupid, so never assume they don't “get it”. Help them.

@GailZahtz Influence in SM is about relationships and what value you BRING
to those relationships.

@ddcronkh For HR managers, social media has to be the greatest gift.It's self-made pre-screening.

@johnmbernard People want to know their leaders and SM gives them a chance to connect, to talk, to exchange ideas.

Kneale Mann

image credit: mimifoto

May 17, 2011

Finding Inspiration

It was the end of a long day. Anyone who owns their own business knows the feeling. You’re being torn in a hundred different directions and half of them are created by you. So I was looking for some inspiration.

I found some.

Brad Koepenick is an actor, director and producer. He along with a group of very special people created Kids with Cameras which came out a few years ago. The work continues. Find a few minutes and watch this video.

Then go inspire someone.



Kneale Mann

video credit: Kids with Cameras

May 16, 2011

Leaving Our Digital Footprint

Who's Watching Who

There is an old adage that the only person who is really concerned with you is you. The rest of us are far too busy worrying about us. But with the online world, that doesn’t stop us from being able to peer into each others’ life whenever it strikes our fancy.

Voyeurism is alive and well when we can leave our thoughts on a Facebook wall or Twitter stream and others can read a moment in time, any time they want. But I hear all too often "I just connect with my friends". That may be true, but it's often done in front of several hundred million people.

Ten to fifteen years ago, it was important for companies to have a place on the Internet where customers and potential customers could find out more about their offerings. Now it’s imperative for companies to not expect customers to come to them but rather they need to go where customers reside online. This is the difference between having a website and creating a web presence.

Watch Where You Step

With close to two billion of us surfing the web all trying to learn from each other, gain information, get each other’s attention and put our best out there, it can get distracting and overwhelming. Add to that, we are human, so we experience grumpy moments that can slip into our online activity. That flippant lash can hurt a company as evidenced by faux pas by many large respected brands in the last few years.

If you get into a heated discussion at work or with a customer, that is a one-on-one situation that can be diffused and resolved between the two of you. But when you engage in a similar discussion online you are doing it in front of anyone who cares to watch. And that makes companies nervous. Many are concerned about opening themselves up to the digital mob. After all, anyone with an Internet connect can publish anything they want.

Checking References

Human Resources managers and recruiters are using the social web more and more to find candidates for job openings and they aren’t just reading a well crafted resume or LinkedIn profile to gather information. That offhand remark you make on Quora can come back and bite you.

This is not to suggest we have to be perfect, because once you get that new gig you will need to be yourself but it does serve as a reminder that perhaps the next time we’re having a tough time or in a rough mood we may want to step away from the keyboard for a timeout.

Does that sound like a wise plan?

Kneale Mann

image credit: adrianakems

May 14, 2011

Collaboration | The Human Experiment

Our People are Important to Us

I am what some might call an realistic optimist. I go into each situation with hope but know that the world is not made of lollipops and rainbows. I want everyone to get along and treat each other with respect. That is not always the case, not everyone operates from a place of integrity. We need to be strong. We need to move business along. But we can do it with compassion. This goes beyond customer service.

The social web is a wonderful place to meet people who think like you and share your values and passions. They can live next door or across the world but the connection is there on a level you can't easily explain. There are human beings behind each blog post and tweet. They have hopes and fears, stress and victories. And we can connect with them if we give the process its due care.

What Do You Do?

Since I am not a painter or a plumber, the answer is not always clean and tidy. I help businesses do business better. My offering is not as a social media guy or a marketing guy. My first step is to decipher how I can help improve what you are doing. We can get into social channels and websites and marketing plans and strategy after that is established. Without our desire to get there, we will never know when we arrive.

With channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the latest one to get the buzz, Empire Avenue, we have the opportunity to lead blended lives. If we connect with authenticity, work and friendship meet at the intersection of collaboration.

Admiring Trailblazers

We marvel at those who appear fearless in their pursuits. We look for inspiration from individuals who seem to know exactly what they want to be doing. Yet we call them self-made and if you believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers theory (which I do), none of us is self-made. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes true human collaboration to clear a path to our passion.

Thank you for dropping by here. And thanks to those who have invested their time in helping me get better. Look at the people in your life offering to help and thank them. Then extend your hand to help others. Collaboration is not a word to put on a t-shirt.

Who will you inspire today?

Kneale Mann

image credit: flickr

May 12, 2011

Follow Us. Like Us. Connect Us. Now What?

It Begins With a Click

There is non-stop noise and chatter online from people, companies and computer generated bots asking for our attention, time, money and business. Follow us on Twitter. Like my Facebook group. Visit our YouTube channel. Download my e-book. Attend our webinar. Buy my stuff. Read our blog.

If It Was Only That Easy

I’m often in conversations with business owners and managers about improving their digital footprint and web presence. We want business and revenue to move quickly so there is often little patience to give the process the time it needs to develop. Within the digital landscape, here are five types of people that often reside inside an organization.

All Over it

These are early adopters who have immersed themselves in online social networks. They use their mobile device for both business and pleasure. And they don’t understand why the entire organization hasn’t jumped in with both feet. They may be viewed as renegades void of business acumen who don’t recognize the importance of company privacy. They can be the scary ones with the new ideas.

Don’t Understand it

They don’t usually articulate it this clearly, it is manifested by their behavior. The quick subject change or dismissive claim it’s just a big waste of time is rarely too far away. Status quo is their friend. They don't realize their own use of digital is often a reflection of customers' activity.

Think They're On it

Most companies today are somewhat involved in digital content. They have a website, they may have created a few additional online profiles but haven't begun participating in any conversations with customers. But they do have a "Follow Us on Twitter" button, so they think they're covered.

Unsure About it

This can be a tough place to be because you know you should know this stuff, you know your organization would benefit from all this stuff but you are not clear on how and where to start. The good news is the social web gives us a plethora of information about our customers, our industry and our competitors. It just takes a leap and some time. And like a good work out regime, it then takes consistency.

Actually Doing it

These are the trail blazers who are simply doing what they need to do to find customers where customers are and they don’t make a big deal about it. They grasp that the time needs to be invested and that there is a tremendous amount of business intelligence to be found if patience and research is a priority. They aren't boasting about it, they're getting on with it.

And since most organizations have a mix of all these types of people, understanding each other is the key to moving ideas along. Working in idea cubicles will only continue to separate instead of integrate.

Where are you and your company on this list?

Kneale Mann

image credit: wgalnightkids

May 10, 2011

Business Strategy | We Can't Do That

Conform (verb / kənˈfôrm)
Comply with rules, standards, or laws. Behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards. Be similar in form or type. Agree.

You don’t have to go too far before you hear some mutation of the phrase “we can't do that here”. At first, it almost seems believable but with some thought it's more of an auto-response. It becomes part of the fabric of the organization. No new ideas is often next in line.

One phrase I hear almost daily is; “we don’t need marketing, we need sales" and it reminds me of what a colleague once said to me. He often boasted that "employees are overhead, customers are profit". Yes, dinosaurs walk among us.

Underspend To Success

Sales training is not a simple process and it's not free. The process to master the art of sales usually takes a few years and a lot of expense. If short-cuts are made, a company can be decimated. There are few quicker steps to failure than an inexperienced sales team on the street with a product or service that isn't ready for customers who have never heard of it.

So before you feel compelled to say “we can’t do that”, one suggestion is to put the company on the hoist to expose waste before you make cuts on essential items such as people and letting customers know you exist. Companies often bemoan decreasing results but think they can cut themselves into the black. Or worse, do nothing.

What are your thoughts?

Kneale Mann

May 8, 2011

The Lost Art of Customer Service

The Foundation of Business

Recently, I was chatting with some friends about their recent road trip. All went well but they did share a couple of interesting stories. One was from a bad experience while trying to grab a quick bite to eat. It was one of those experiences where you feel you're more of an annoyance than a customer. “Someone deserved a four cent tip”, my friend exclaimed. The rest of the group nodded and began sharing bad service stories. Bad service ruins your experience and you wonder why you are the victim of their bad day.

Bad Service is Everywhere

We all want great service. But we are still surprised when we get it. If “four cent tip” guy got the service my friends received, he would be incensed. But he’s having a bad day, a rough shift, his boss is a tyrant, his feet hurt or a wide range of possible explanations that don’t and shouldn’t concern customers. Companies miss an opportunity when they ask us to follow them on Twitter only to find out there is nothing in it for us. Or they request we "like" them on Facebook only to find the same.

Now flip this around and look at your internal stakeholders. We all have a bad day, we all make mistakes but imagine for a moment that whiny waiter dude was your communications department and don’t wannabe there coffee shop woman was running your sales department while get it done faster cheaper guy was your boss.

Good Service: Tell a Friend. 
Bad Service: Tell All Your Friends.

One bad customer experience can dismantle thousands, even millions of dollars in marketing investment. To my friends, the grumpy server is now attached to the name of the restaurant. They had a bad brand experience.

Envision spending the next three months simply working on improving service inside your organization. That’s the stuff that happens between each person in your building. Any one of your stakeholders may be the only person a customer may ever meet. And this is true in all industries.

The creation of strong internal and external customer service is far more valuable than a well crafted advertising campaign. 

Kneale Mann

image credit: shoply

May 4, 2011

Finding Your Digital Audience

Don't Wait For it to Find You

The world is travelling at the speed of light and we are trying to hang on just a moment longer to live in the now which has already passed. We are attempting to digest a mind numbing amount of content.  The Harvard Business Review published a piece dealing with the age old interview question: “Where will you be in five years?”

How About Five Minutes?

Depending on the circles you travel, you can feel completely out of sync with your clientele while it seems your competitors are cashing in. I’m asked all the time if YouIntegrate can help. The first step is to find out what you want to do with these digital channels and how you feel it can help you find your audience.

It is easy to create a profile. It is much more difficult to populate it with content that serves both your customers and your business. And it's even more challenging to have the patience for the time it takes to grow the community. After that you need to tend to its health and longevity. Campaign mentality will not create long-term growth.

You can spend a lot of time and money on messaging and media choices to see very little result. Or you can strike gold and then try and replicated it which is rare. The social web is a warm inviting temptress that can woo us into thinking we’re getting somewhere in short order. But there are no quick wins.

Easy Peasey

It is simple to go online, find a place to land and start barking. It is much more difficult to develop strong B2B or B2C relationships through the social web. This stuff takes time. If you look at how you built your business so far, it is the same process.

Mitch Joel wrote this week about the Mutterings of Twitter. He explained that we can easily pull out our smartphone at the check-in counter the moment our flight is delayed and send out an angry tweet or Facebook status update. The real-time web has given us the ability to publish material for free in an instant. The key is for companies to be with their customers all along so responses to service issues can be addressed. If they aren't there, they can't set the record straight.

Our Need to Connect

The only prediction we can make is that this will only get more challenging. We are not making less mobile devices, we are not shrinking the online world and the ability to grow a personal network is not diminishing.

But what you can do as a manager or owner is find your voice no matter the platform. Yes I can help. Then you can discover the power of sharing it no matter where your audience resides.

Have you found your voice? Have you found your audience?

Kneale Mann

image credit: istock

May 3, 2011

All Search Results May Not Be Created Equal

Let's imagine you need a plumber and you don’t have one. You can call some of you friends, send out a tweet, maybe a print directory although doubtful or go to a search engine. Most of us think the results are a list of what we're looking for mixed with the work of savvy web designers who have mastered search engine optimization.

The keywords your customers search for may not be the ones you think they use as evidenced in the fact that Google gets thousands of search inquires every day they've never before received. And that list of plumbers in your search results may tied to your behavior more than you realize.

Search is a multi-billion industry where companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo make bags of money. Eli Pariser has some concerns about the world of search and
the social web. He explains in this TEDTalk. [video]


Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED

May 2, 2011

Rights and Privileges

We All Remember Where We Were When

That is a phrase that is only uttered a handful of times during a lifetime. Depending on your age, that is a reference to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the death of Kurt Cobain, September 11th or last night when the world tried to digest the news that one of the most sought after criminals had been killed.

At the height of the frenzy, there were over 4,000 tweets a second and every news agency on television, radio, print and online were scrambling for information. We were the news cycle. We were instantly brought back to 2001.

Your Vote Counts

Today is a national election in my country. Canadians were cynical that the government had passed a non-confidence vote in our house of commons to force the minority leading Conservative party to call an election. It’s expensive and no business or country or individual can afford to spend unwisely these days. According to the polls, this will be an historic day. Time, as they say, will tell.

We live in an instant news world. About two billion of us are online which is still only a third of the world's population, but the power for each of us to publish information has caused exponentially more content. Some is correct, some is reactionary, some is for good and some is not.

The Social Web has Changed the World

Through years of building online relationships, it is an honour to be able to send a message to people I have connected with from all over the world. There are kind emails and texts from caring people from places I’ve never been. They are people, not job titles. Last night, we shared something profound and most of us were alone or with a couple of other people. Billions were getting the news one-on-one.

Digital channels have given us the ability to share information quickly. Last night, major news agencies were quoting the social web as much as their own sources. Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere is a constant hum of information and opinion. As the saying goes, we must remember so we don't forget. And millions of us have the ability to share our voice.

Some call that a right, some call it a privilege but it certainly should not be taken for granted.

Kneale Mann

image credit: istock
 
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