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 Obsolescence was the norm, and many were hesitant to invest in expensive technology that would most likely be outdated before it collected dust.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?!

Spammers, Hackers, Identity Thieves! Oh, My! Beware of the Share

Spammers may use memes to gain access to data
Spammers, hackers, and identity thieves may use memes and fake posts to gain access to data. Watch for grammar and spelling errors. Click on the source before engaging.

Facebook Privacy Scares

In light of the recent “shock” of learning Facebook has been conducting research on our emotions via manipulation of our feeds, I pondered the naiveté of social media users. Facebook will sometimes overstep boundaries, but users are far more at fault for not paying closer attention to their own ability to control privacy.

There are a plethora of suspicious memes circulating on personal profiles and more than likely, produced by spammers, hackers, and identity thieves seeking virality for access to account information.

What is a suspicious meme?

Inasmuch as we love cats in cute or awkward poses, babies quoting “wisdom,” and soulful prayers for the good will of all, too many memes have the tell-tale signs of untrustworthy sources trying to use viral potential to gain online presence and account information access.

Grammar nazis might be safest yet!

Much like spam comments on a blog, if a meme is spotted with spelling or grammatical errors, that’s a big hint the source might be untrustworthy.

And tacky as it is, spammers may prey on those with deep religious convictions using a guilt factor produced via a “share if you believe” caption. Add memes that can play on your conscience for motivation to share and like: spirituality, causes, empathy, lost children or elderly (with a quick search revealing they were found years ago), even pet affinities…

Online Wisdom: Consider the source…

Example: Your Facebook friend falls for it, shares, now it appears in your feed. If you don’t comment and share as well, it might appear you are “not one of the faithful,” or unsympathetic, so you comment and share… and on it goes. Same with humorous or quote memes. Seemingly innocent, but potentially providing access to spammers and hackers, too.

Before you like or share… click on the source. Is the profile one with whom you would normally associate? In the “real” world, would you blindly trust the integrity and authenticity of every stranger?

Typically, few social media fans check the origin of memes, the memes go viral, and to the victors (spammers, hackers, identity thieves) go the spoils.

Really tacky.

But really effective.

No One Ever Said Learning Social Media Was Intuitive

Maybe I don't engage enough on Facebook, but when I do, everyone should know about it.

Here is yet another conversation with my husband over how-to-use his Facebook business page…!

Note: I’m the spouse here . . . so, of course, what do I know!? But, believe me, I can and do coach clients very successfully on these same issues – Really! :)

Hubby: Why can’t I get my blog post to show up on my business page? I clicked SHARE!

Me: You clicked on the share link at the bottom of the post again, didn’t you?

Hubby: Well, YEEEAH. I wanted to SHARE my post.

Me: Try to think like your blog followers… They read your post, get to the bottom and want to share, so conveniently the share button FOR THEM is at the bottom of the post so they can share your post to their page.

Hubby: But, I AM SHARING.

Me: No, you want to post an update. It’s different.

Hubby: Facebook is B—S—! There’s nothing intuitive about it!

Me: I never said there was.

Hubby: (clicking over to home page) Why is the post I shared from George Takei showing up twice in the feed?

Me: Because you follow George Takei. That is the post you shared to your page, so you see his post and your post.

Hubby: But I don’t want my followers to think I’m an idiot with this showing up twice on my page.

Me: Your follower feeds differ from yours. They see the posts of those pages they follow. Let’s go over the difference between “Home” and your “Timeline.” AGAIN!

Hubby: (clicking back to his business page timeline) It’s only on this page once. What happened to the other one?

Me: (deep SIGH – remember this is my spouse I am helping)

Hubby: So I’m on my home page.

Me: No, this is your timeline. Click “Home” to go to your home page.

Hubby: (he clicks home) This is my news feed.

Me: Technically, yes, but Facebook changed the name to HOME a long while back. Think of it as your “Home Dashboard.”

Hubby: Dashboard? But that’s not where I post my stuff!

Me: You actually can post on either page. “HOME” is where you should be living when you visit Facebook.

Hubby: I don’t care about all that stuff. I just want to make sure my followers are seeing my stuff.

Me: So much for the “SOCIAL” aspect of social media . . .

Hubby: (he gives me “the look”)

Me: Let’s go back to the cocktail party analogy. Do you want to be the person everyone is running away from or the one with whom they like to ENGAGE? ENGAGEMENT is social. ENGAGEMENT is how people will notice you – not so much your posts! Yes, you need to post your updates, too, but ENGAGEMENT is SOCIAL. It’s how people get to know you. Then they can go visit your page and learn more.

Hubby: All I want to know is how to make sure that what I post shows up right!

Me: I think I’ll go find a cocktail party.

Note: I do give him credit for actually trying to learn – FINALLY :-)

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!

Are Marketing Pundits Defining Social Media Without Consideration for Small Business?

Empty ConversationIn my experience with new clients, I sometimes wonder how it is they are so far behind in understanding social media concepts. But then, I sometimes can’t fault them.

  • Uncertain platform choices
  • The demise of some platforms.
  • Social media best practice content purposed primarily toward larger businesses and corporations.

Add to that the unspoken secret among experienced social media users – there truly is a long learning curve before the ROI kicks in with any social media.

Now for the bright side.

You’re a small business owner. You are successful because of the relationships you have with your customers. Sure, product has a say in your success, but it’s how you deliver on product that ultimately leads to your success, right?

So. completely forget everything you know about traditional marketing when you sit at your technology board of choice. Put on your on-the-floor sales hat and remember how you approach customers walking in the door. You’re not like the chain stores that bark hellos at you the moment a customer enters. YOU approach your customers in a relationship building manner.

You greet them, engage in a little chat, draw them into conversation around their needs, educate them on how to best get those needs met, offer suggestions on what you can provide toward those goals, fulfill with product or service, deliver, and follow-up on satisfaction. You do this while maintaining consciousness regarding their needs, not yours. Why? Because you know satisfaction is key to repeat/referral business.

Ok, now simply use exactly that strategy in your online content implementation.

Yes, it really is that simple. If you still have a hard time wrapping your head around that, work it in reverse. Think clearly about what you would NOT do on the sales floor. Then don’t do it on social media!!!

Best example? While you may have displays with a call to action firmly in place, you still do not verbally approach customers with a call to action. Then why do so many social media users do that in their updates? Because they are thinking of social media in the context of traditional marketing which is primarily focused on enticement and calls to action. Stop it!

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!