Don’t Fall for Facebook LIKE Scams

Look what I found in a Non-Profit’s Facebook messages! (see image)

BAD NEWS! This is clearly a scam.Warning Signals of Facebook Scam

3 BIG FLAGS!

  1. BAD GRAMMAR is always a big hint! Leaving out articles like “a” are common for foreigners trying to target Americans. Don’t overlook that as a typo.
  2. “NO ADVANCE PAYMENT REQUIRED” Really? Not only are the fees ridiculously low (lower than Facebook fees), but isn’t it just too STRANGE they DON’T NEED your money up front?
  3. NOTICE they didn’t ask for your email address, they want your EMAIL ID with Facebook. That’s why they don’t need your money up front.

If you give them YOUR EMAIL ID, they could have access to your Facebook account. If you are using ads for your small business or non-profit, you have provided Facebook with a payment method. If you provide access to your Facebook account, you are risking your credit card information to scammers!!!

Bottom line, if it looks too good, too easy, it’s not usually legit.

BE CAREFUL.

(Note: I am on the board of this local non-profit and manage their Facebook Page)

SMB Owners: Don’t Get Bogged Down in Your Bookkeeping

You Can't Afford NOTto Delegate

Franchisees and small business owners of all kinds:

Business suffering because you’re bogged down with administrative mess? You say you didn’t sign up for bookkeeping when you dreamed of your new business?

Not focusing on what you love is a BIG mistake.  And guess what? There are people out there who LOVE bookkeeping. Yes, it’s true! And, thankfully, they are ready for hire.

EVEN IF YOU KNOW HOW

You choose a business because you are following your bliss, your passion, your venue to champion your skills. My guess is you never gave a damn about bookkeeping, ordering, payroll, maintenance, or many of the duties that are so necessary to run a successful business. Just because you know how doesn’t always mean you should.

I bet you’re still mowing your own lawn, too.

Time for a wake-up call

So why aren’t you hiring people to do those tasks? Or at the very least, delegating it to the person on your staff who does enjoy and excel at that kind of work?
The excuse I hear over and over is that you can’t afford to hire another person to handle those chores. You can’t afford NOT to!

Start with part-time help

There are many people who are taking on clients like you on a part-time basis:

  • Virtual Assistants
  • College Interns
  • Stay-at-home Moms/Dads who are dying to talk to adults and keep their fingers in the work  world part-time
  • consultants who want to make their own hours, and more.

Yes, you will have to monitor their work, but do hire someone to do what you hate or is eating up quality time in your business. Get back to your business at hand. You will be less stressed without those duties hanging over your head and they will do a better job with the full focus you need. That is what THEY love to do.

Boomer SMB Owners Tell Me S/He Can’t Do Social Media…

MS-DOS Command line
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS

Nothing, and I mean nothing, including social media, is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. . .

Since my business demographic is primarily boomers, I know better. I’m a boomer, too. And I know full well that we boomers had to conquer and endure the pioneering stages of modern technology. Nothing, and I mean nothing, today is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials don’t have a clue what a nightmare it was to work on a black screen with green letters and no graphics, no mouse. They never had to learn commands or have ever seen “A:” , or had to save content on multiple floppy disks, and most never sat in front of a v e r y  s l o w CRT that emitted unhealthy rays!

So, Back to the Boomers

So when these boomers who cut their computer teeth on difficult, dinosaur technology are telling me that social media is just too hard to take the time to learn  – –  sorry, but I’m not biting!

What I think happened to these otherwise savvy entrepreneurs, is when they began their businesses, technology was in an ever-changing mode. Obsolescence was the norm, and many were hesitant to invest in expensive technology that would most likely be outdated before it collected dust. Starting a new business means watching every nickel; technology avoidance and frugality became almost a badge of honor.

Culture Shock

Then, before these entrepreneurs knew what hit them, all of a sudden they were far, far behind others who had the time to keep up. In addition, any technology to be learned had to center around POS and bookkeeping. The learning curve on those was a bit time-consuming for owners, not to mention the time required to train staff. Who had time to jump into the social media craze while trying to run a business?

But now – da-da-DUM – there is no escaping social media for small business marketing. While it, too, experienced its versions of continuous obsolescence, social media has settled in as the most viable and affordable marketing vehicle for SMBs.

What I am finding is the biggest obstacle to success in social media, is that most successful entrepreneurs are classic introverts, even hermits. They live, eat, drink, and breathe their business to the point of no social life, but they like that! So of course they feel awkward trying to enter a SOCIAL medium that expects casual interaction.

So, yes, it is good to hire help, but it is also good to use that help to learn social media. WHY? Because social media is not successful unless the fans get to see what goes on behind the front doors. And if you don’t provide behind the scenes material (content, images, customer testimonials, etc.), then you are simply keeping a social media account alive with memes, quotes, product images – yawn……..

My best social media analogy?

Think of how many times you have driven by a small business and felt a tinge of apprehension about pulling in and checking it out. Why?

Because we don’t like to explore the unknown, especially when it has potential to waste our valuable time or money. Your social media fans are no different. They want some behind the scenes peeks at who you are, what you do, why you sell what you sell, what makes you different, and how will it FEEL to shop or do business with you!

Damn, you don’t have to marry these fans! Just like your customers, people just need to get to know each other! And that’s why social media works for those who do make the effort to put themselves out there for fans! Does that make sense?!

If You Can Sell, You Can Market.-

What does customer service have to do with marketing?

Customer satisfaction is the basis of marketingJust everything!

Traditional marketing ads get your attention how?

      • Good advertising addresses a need.
      • Good advertising peaks curiosity.
      • Good advertising elicits an emotional response.

So, what is marketing, really?

Experts must talk about stats, but all will admit it is impossible to accurately measure the effectiveness of a highway billboard. Unfortunately for the statisticians, social media marketing is akin to billboard advertising. While posts do have a calculated “lifetime” of visibility, it’s still a matter of catching the eye of whoever sees the post at whatever time they happen to “drive” by your message.

Marketing is no mystery

Marketing is not some mysterious phenomenon understood only by marketers. Marketing professionals are just like you. They eat, drink and breathe customer behavior – for the same reasons as you – to successfully sell product. So… Marketing is “selling, ” just from a different approach. Strategize via your methods of enticing and catering to your customers needs, and you will soon “get” at least the basics of marketing.

Who is your best salesperson and why?

Whether it’s your ace hire, or yourself, recognize selling stems from the ability to satisfy customer needs. That IS the bottom line of customer service and subsequent business success. It’s about meeting the right needs to ensure there is no buyer’s remorse. Reflect this approach in all your marketing content – traditional or social media.

What you need to learn about marketing is what you mostly already know.

Facebook Tool Tip: Scheduling

One of the best reasons to schedule posts is to space them out.  And since one of the most common questions I hear from small business owners and non-profits is “How often should I post?” rather than give you my annoying and potentially evasive answer, “it depends,” I thought I’d show you how to schedule.

Let’s take an example. A particular non-profit I help has a lot to say on a regular basis. Their fans are willing followers and hungry for their posts. You might think it convenient (and potentially, but erroneously, you think it’s more efficient), to post all at once. Your thinking might be:

You: “Yup – that’ll get their attention. They can’t help but notice my posts if I send out a stream of them!”

BUZZER! Wrong answer.

If you were the only one posting, that might work. But once you start crowding the feed with your posts, you become a great candidate for being shut off (fans un-checking “Get Notifications”): see image.

Get Notifications Option on Facebook

Why would anyone uncheck the option to Get YOUR Notifications (how dare they!)? Because now you are DOMINATING their feed! How Social Media-ly rude!

How can you post more updates without crowding everyone else out of the feed? Scheduling. No you don’t HAVE to use Hootsuite, Sprout Social or any other management tool (although if you schedule a lot, it’d be a good idea).

Facebook added the scheduling tool a long time ago, but some of you (ok, really, a lot of you) page owners haven’t noticed.

Here’s how to schedule your post -

And in case, later you realize you screwed up, I’ve included how to go to the activity log to edit, reschedule or delete the scheduled post.

Facebook - How to schedule a post

And here’s how it looks in your Activity Log:

Facebook - How to edit a scheduled post

You’re welcome :-)

Is Twitter’s Decline a Sign Social Media is Dying?

Is Twitter’s Decline a Sign Social Media is Dying?

Is Twitter really dying?

. . . and is its decline a harbinger of social media fate?

I’m sad to say it, but I agree with a recent article:  A Eulogy for Twitter – Adrienne LaFrance and Robinson Meyer – The Atlantic  The title mostly says it all (you should still read it), but the writer correctly lays no definitive fault on Twitter itself.

Why isn’t Twitter at fault?

I opened my Twitter account in 2010 when it became evident it would stay for the long haul. At that time, new social media platforms appeared regularly, and just as regularly dropped away. No one knew what anyone really wanted from a social media platform – creators or users. No one yet grasped the potential functionality nor could define a real purpose.

Twitter’s success has always been from its immediacy. If a celebrity died, a natural disaster wreaked havoc, or a government takeover was in progress, Twitter was “Da Man!” But, as followers grew exponentially, tweets quickly became buried in a stream of fresher posts and news could be lost.

#Whatsthesubject

Hashtags evolved as a remedy – an immediate and comprehensive sourcer for any topic of interest. Twitter later coached searching along by not requiring a hashtag to search. Trending Topics entered and quickly became a font for sourcing streams to increase user visibility and encourage new followers.  Soon Twitter decided trending should be local, too, and small businesses learned how to utilize trending for increased visibility.

After a myriad of tweaks over the years, in retrospect, perhaps Twitter should have left itself alone. After all, the demand for change was rarely from the Peeps. As usual, change occurred for the purposes of monetization, a necessary evil for users to endure for the reward of free access. But no platform can run for free. Monetization is a must.

Content for the sake of content?

But, in this recent year, content has suffered. Twitter is laden with over-processed content and spam. Popular threads and Tweetchats do still thrive, but for how long? Perhaps Twitter acceptance by multimedia news and entertainment produced a shallower environment. Perhaps users grew tired of having to compress thoughts into 140 characters (or less if we wanted an RT). Perhaps the spontaneity gave way to scheduling apps like Hootsuite. It’s hard to peg the current problems on any one cause.

Perhaps the same principles apply to any FREE medium?

Free access network television dominated the airwaves for decades. Paid Cable came along and turned it upside down. People were/are willing to pay for better quality content, and the ability to view without frequent and loud interruptions.  Sponsored network television were forced to recognize viewers with a choice were leaving the pedestrian network fodder for quality viewing on cable. It became apparent the show content and quality had to improve to compete. In the meantime, cable channels multiplied exponentially, and many had to embrace some form of advertising to survive as the pallet of choice broadened and exclusivity no longer generated the necessary funds per channel. After all, how much would a consumer be willing to pay for more and more channels – especially since all channels were not a universal fit to every demographic.

So, the network broadcasts (still free to consumers) had to compete with better content and coverage to increase advertising and viewers. Add new rivals, Tivo and the DVR enabling viewers to skip ads. The networks were losing $$ to technology.  Solution? Create entertaining advertising for viewers to enjoy the ads as much as the shows they supported. Compete with the quality content of premium cable networks by attracting strong feature film directors and producers for high quality programming such as “Good Wife.” And, entice viewers with On Demand viewing convenience, but with no option to speed past ads.  Here we go again. For the viewer, 1 step forward, 2 steps back as Free options fight to survive.

So is Social Media facing same?

My Free TV example was an attempt at an analogy to illustrate that FREE is always a problem. It is never FREE to those producing the tools and content. Offering free products and services as an introduction is effective for enlisting subscriber business, but maintaining free is always a problem.

While Facebook is often recognized to have an inferior user interface, it still reigns king.  Timing is everything, and they began at the right place and time to produce many and loyal users. Facebook has also been more effective with monetizing their platform. Why? Because Facebook is easy. Facebook is ubiquitous. Facebook requires little from us except tolerance for ads. And content is more accessible and even lingers.

Interestingly, it appears Facebook’s cagey methods and well documented inaccessibility has lent users to acquiesce to their monetizing tactics. Users post complaints at every tweak of their pages and profiles, unendingly threatening to leave, but never actually doing so.

What about Google+?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Google+. Yes, the CEO has given up (?) after 8 years, but G+ is not going away. It’s far too valuable for generating better SEO. After all, Google is genius in its integration of Google tools and apps. Even if we don’t understand how to use them all, we do understand that ANYTHING we use from Google will generate better search rankings on Google – the premier search engine. There are crawlers and bots aplenty Google utilizes to maximize their effectiveness. Perhaps despite the lack of public receptivity of G+, it is gaining ground in another area Twitter used to dominate – the Tweetchat may eventually give way to the Google Group Hangout. Again, ease of use is tantamount to popularity in any platform gaining ground.

Bottom line?

ironically enough, it will not be the users who will dictate the demise or growth of any platform. Technology will. And at the rate these technological changes are occurring, everything could change. Maybe texting could be transformed into social? Maybe software will evolve to pre-sort and pre-qualify content for best use. Impossible to imagine every possibility.

The growing demand and technology’s advances in ease of use for Visual content has eased the proliferation of text (which overwhelmed users). A visual truly is worth a thousand words, and everyone’s time is valuable. But users still have something to say.

Social Media platforms may die, or simply evolve for the better via improved technology.  At any rate, as technology advances,  any prediction of social media fate really is folly.

So, Where the Hell are We with Social Media?

IMAGE_RANDOM_girl looking down hiway

Ahhh… so where are we now with Social Media?

Surprisingly, Google+ is coming into its own! I was a doubter, too, but if you have checked it out lately, you’ll notice a lot more activity. It’s a bit like a cross between Facebook and Twitter.

How so? Well, imho, Twitter leans toward information and Facebook leans more toward the coffee klatsch. So if you don’t necessarily want to live in one or the other, Google+ seems to have filled that space.

Of course, who knows what direction it will take. It took what seemed like forever for Google+ to get serious recognition (including from me), but I must say it is clearly now a worthy contender for our attention.

And you could even say that it is encroaching on Pinterest territory since the picture quality is on par with Pinterest.

Facebook 

Facebook is floundering a bit now because it is responsible to stockholders and didn’t exactly impress them at their public launch. The problem was they switched too dramatically to monetizing without remembering their roots of success. Yes, it surely is infuriating to have a company that consists of millions who expect everything for free. But, I think this was a company that put the cart waaaaaay before the horse. If they had recognized earlier on that “free” can’t sustain a business forever, they would have been better prepared for the real business world.

But who am I to judge? Eh, just someone who makes a living helping others learn to use their social media effectively. Yes, I do encourage small business owners to use Facebook, but I fear Facebook is becoming the modern-day Yellow Pages for business. Why? Because many Facebook users are seriously more interested in keeping in touch with fam and friends, entertainment and the latest outrage. Business pages are mostly for specials or coupons. But God Forbid you DON’t have a Facebook page – that means you must not even exist, right?

That said, if business owners don’t have a Facebook page, they can’t help but lose exposure to the competitor who does. It’s a conundrum, yes. But, I still encourage its use because we have to wait for the next evolution of social media without losing momentum on the existing.

Twitter

Still my favorite. Where else can you get in on the action LIVE! Where else can you learn the latest even before Reuters gets it to the various news media? Where else can you have a singular conversation with interested and informative participants in real-time?

Yes you converse on Facebook and Google+, but when you get on a roll or a Tweetchat with others on Twitter, no other platform can compare with the immediacy in feedback and fun! Facebook may have its games and G+ may have its hangouts, but Twitter is the most spontaneous of all. And who doesn’t like a race? Yup, it’s like a race to respond in line before another question or an answer by another. Maybe it’s best suited for us ADD’ers ;)

But for small business, it is again, a must to be included in the conversations. But, alas, most SMBs are not on Twitter, or even if they are, have no clue about optimization.

And Not to Forget Pinterest

Pinterest, I’m a little worried about. Do people really visit the people they follow or are they mostly cruising the home page for the latest or a category page? It seems like the most viable spot on Pinterest is the home feed where the latest pins are popping up. So with all this action elsewhere, are Pinterest users too distracted by the latest and not have enough time to make a concerted effort to visit the pages they have followed? I could be wrong, but it is a concern.

No I have not forgotten LinkedIn, Instagram, etc… but they have clearly defined themselves (kudos to them) and are in a safe zone for now.

At any rate, no matter which platform addiction followers have, it is important to recognize that all platforms have their followers and we would be foolish to not recognize the power of their social media attention. 

Consider online marketing’s infancy and understand that no one, and I mean no user, no “expert,” no one has a crystal ball because, again imho, social media is highly dependent on technology capabilities. So, I expect that inasmuch as we have seen amazing things around online use in these last 20 years,…

…We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!