You’re Not from Around Here, Are You? Social Etiquette or Regional Bias?

Meme - Don't take offense if I call you Ma'am

There is a trend in Social Media that kind of pisses me off. I’m wondering if it pisses you off, too.

Lots of memes are dictating REGIONAL social etiquette (see image). WHY is that? Social Media lives online – a.k.a. WORLDWIDE!

The uppity tone is giving me agida. It is as if you are “less than” if you don’t use their regional vernacular. So here’s my rant.

What’s disrespectful in one region may be normal in another.

I grew up in Tampa, Florida and was taught to use Mr., Mrs., and Miss as respectful titles, and not ma’am or sir. My dad was Air Force and the only sirs and ma’ams I knew were in uniform. If you were close to a friend of the family or neighbors, you respectfully added an Aunt or Uncle to their first name. It wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta when I was in my late 20s that I learned of the ma’am and sir protocol. Yes, I had heard this practice on TV, like on the Andy Griffith Show, but I had never experienced it in my places of residence – until I moved to Atlanta.

Yes, it made me feel old to be called Ma’am.

I was only 27 when I moved to Atlanta.  And after decades here, it is still hard to hear someone call me ma’am. I didn’t raise my son with that practice because it is still foreign in its feeling to me. I am sure that is my military family history at fault for my discomfort, but to hear a little child say, “Yes, Sir” to an elder just seems strict and unnatural to me.  But, that’s me and my upbringing. But you won’t see me making a meme about that!

In business, too?

Another difficult adjustment in Atlanta was the custom of holding the first 2-5 minutes of business conversation focused on social exchange. How’s your spouse, is Johnny enjoying his new school, heard you went to Hilton Head… etc… So, I had to learn this practice or run the risk of alienating southern business associates. Big adjustment for me as, in Florida, we practiced simple greetings, then on to business as, in that region, it was considered rude to waste another business person’s valuable time with what we considered time-wasting chatter. Again, regional differences…

Yes, I understand the desire to maintain one’s cultural differences. BUT, in today’s mobile society, let’s consider that perhaps it is disrespectful to expect a newcomer to assimilate so quickly and additionally, chastise them for it. The average home sale frequency is every 4-7 years as opposed to the old days when one lived most of one’s life in one place, so life is not the same as the slow, old days.

SOCIAL MEDIA lives everywhere – and behavior can’t be observed as mutually exclusive to your cultural region.

The only cultural differences in Social Media are in the different platforms – LinkedIn, Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. and that difference is a matter of tone, not language. Social Media has brought the world closer together in a shorter time than any time in history. Why would you try to enforce a cultural divide online?

So . . . Don’t take offense if I DON’T call you Ma’am or Sir, and I won’t take offense when you DO.

Thanks for listening!

Note: I just got a tweet from @supplies3D recommending I include N. Florida in the “Southern” way. He’s right. From Central Florida to South Florida you have mostly Northern U.S. transplants and their influence is deeply set. North Florida is very much like the old south.

 

I’m Over Facebook – They Just Don’t Give a Damn About Our UX

The ONLY reason I haven’t deleted Facebook gets a thumbs downmy Facebook accounts – personal and biz – is to stay in touch with the many friends and followers I value who simply aren’t anywhere else on Social Media. (Secretly I wish they’d leave Facebook so I could, too.)

But, I am no longer wasting my time there trying to cultivate more followers.

I have been on Social Media since 2008 and have spent as much time analyzing its use as I have using it.

It all boils down to the WHY of using a social media platform. I think I speak for many in this simple breakdown . . .

For Personal UX, we want:

  • accessibility
  • social experience
  • and the ability to consistently view who and what we choose to follow

For Small Business UX, we want:

  • Visibility
  • Visibility
  • Visibility.

Shall we all agree we are no longer experiencing the above on Facebook? All together now, say YES.

Where can we honestly have the Social UX promised? Facebook is becoming like Network TV – monetization is their sole driver. Foolishly, they are forgetting they need loyal fans to keep that s— up.

And Instagram is just an ego extension of Facebook. Foursquare is a chore and results shy. Tumblr and StumbleUpon and other discovery engines will soon funnel down to those that provide the best SmartPhone UX whoever that will be… Maybe FlipBoard?

The tide in Social Media is turning into a SmartPhone technology tsunami which is the catalyst for the change in texture of Social Media.

Where am I going?

Google+ and all associated Google products (YouTube, Drive, Photos,….)

The word is Google+ will oust Facebook in usage by May 2016, i.e., Spring-Summer 2016. No one believes this (that is, of those who haven’t tried G+ yet), but I would bet on it. Amazing freaking platform. I feel like I have just scratched the surface.

And where else am I staying?

LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest

While I am a little worried about LI and Twitter (they are experiencing some growing pains), I believe they will sustain powerfully and successfully. And Pinterest? Still far more powerful than it is given credit. I like to see the forest for the trees and look to the future in making these assessments. Yes, these are my professional and personal opinions – take ‘em or leave ‘em, but pay attention.

Notice I am not recommending you go or stay anywhere. If any platform is producing results for you, it would be folly to leave. But, if you are a small business, pay close attention to your future insights.

  • are you new likes producing engagement?
  • are you having to boost and promote more frequently due to poor reach that is becoming poorer…?
  • are you noticing you have to be more mainstream in your posts to keep/gain visibility? (in other words, George Takei style posting?)

I’d love to see what you are up to on Google+. Leave your G+ URL in the comments and I’ll follow. My personal profile is https://plus.google.com/+HaniaWhitfield/ and my page is https://plus.google.com/+Smbsmartmarketing2010/

I have also just started a Google+ community for small business owners to post questions and comments on small business marketing. No commitments, no fees, just helping and sharing as peers.

Ask to join http://bit.ly/SMBSmartMarketingTalk .

See ya there!

Shopping Small is Shopping Wise for Busy Entrepreneurs

Shopping Small is Shopping Wise for Busy Entrepreneurs

Are you guilty of lost time picking through discount racks to NOT find what you need?

It is a far more enjoyable shopping experience to “Shop Small.” Since Entrepreneurs are always short on time, small business shops and services can be a huge time saver once you establish a relationship with the staff. And since you entrepreneurs are always watching every dime,  shopping small keeps you out of hot water when you need your needs met. For example, your small business will educate you on extending the life of your purchases, and proper use. In addition, with your sales history, they can make suggestions for wiser future purchases to supplement what you already own.

You will get additional value if you ASK your small business:

  • Do you keep my purchases on file?
  • Will I be notified of sales or specials?
  • Will you let me know if something I expressed an interest in goes on sale or is running out?
  • Can I work with the same salesperson each time if I find a good match for me?
  • Do you have a loyalty program?
  • Is there a maintenance alert program (for home and office machines, appliances, landscapers, etc) perhaps via email or texting?

ASK, ASK, ASK! You’d be surprised what they might offer for your customer service experience if you only ask.

I know our clients are very happy when we notice items of concern or mistakes FOR them before a consumer does. And by the same token, we are very happy to have small businesses who help US with their specific goods or services so we can keep our minds focused on our clients.

Generally, small business owners LOVE what they do. Give them a chance to treat you special and you’ll save a lot of time and money – and stress!

:) Take 5 minutes to post a good review on social media or review sites (like Yelp or Google Places for Business) for the small businesses who make your daily life easier! They work hard to keep you coming back.

Productivity Tips: How Do You Get Busy Doing Nothing?

I'm busy doing nothing
everydaypeoplecartoons.com

LinkedIn just sent me an email with this subject line:

“Hania, see 60+ productivity tips from LinkedIn Influencers”

First thought I had: If I stop and read these 60+ ways, productivity will not be a stongpoint today…

That said, of course they had my attention a little, so, I had to sample one or two. I won’t mention names, but one of the Productivity EXPERTS suggested we spend much more time in good old-fashioned conversation because talking generates ideas. I’m betting the good old-fashioned conversation is a way to escape confessing: “I’m a lousy typist and not too tech savvy and can’t keep up online.” For the rest of us – don’t you talk more with people via various social media platforms and IM tools then ever before?

Another productivity EXPERT to remain nameless (lest I get sued for embarrassing s/he), suggested you should work while others sleep. Getting up at 4 am was the miracle cure given for lack of productivity.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (I’m obviously NOT a morning person)

Oh, wait, they were serious?

Yes, they admit you are zonked by 8 pm, but the point in the article is that work is less productive in the evening anyway, so might as well relax a little, then go to bed.

Guess dinner and a movie is never an option.

There seem to be a rash of articles and posts on “what the successful people do in the morning,” and other such content fillers. Here’s my TIP: Stop reading these! You’ll be more productive.

Or – you could always watch some TED talks on YouTube. . .

;-)

Social Media 12 days of Christmas

SMB Smart Marketing Christmas

Now that Social Media has virtually become part of our genetic code, I thought it only appropriate to appreciate it for the unexpected gifts (ahem) it brings us every day.

So, for the Holiday Season, I ask forgiveness from those who truly enjoy this popular holiday carol, and am offering my own social media version…

Social Media 12 days of Christmas

Dedicated to Mark, Jack, Reid, Ben and Larry

For the twelve days of Christmas, Social Media gave to me:

12 Tools for Sharing
11 Spammers Following
10 Celebrity Tweeters
9 YouTube Pet Videos 
8 Inappropriate Ads
7 Cat Memes
6 Google+ Crapehangers

5  Y O U  D O N ‘ T  S A Y s

4 LinkedIn Endorsements
3 Marketing Infographics
2 (or more) Hours on Pinterest
And an Edge-Ranked Facebook Top Story!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something.”

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. – Nolan Bushnell

I got my LLC today!

What’s the big deal? The big deal is calling your business official. It’s all well and good to say you are a consultant, but being able to have an official status means it’s real. And that creates new energy!

I got laid off in August 2010. Best thing that ever happened to me. I was crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for me… and it took a layoff to recognize it. So now I’m crossing my own oceans. I knew I had skills that i enjoyed using and there was no reason to not create my business to do it. And it feels great!

I’m thrilled! There’s nowhere to go but UP! What a great month to make that change – November, a month of gratitude.

Thank you to all my family, friends, colleagues, clients, followers, fans….. everyone who always gave me a high-five with every step forward. Man, it’s true, you can’t do it without that kind of support.

 

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!