Start a streak

What have you done every day, every week or every month for years?

For example, I’ve written a weekly column for the Flathead Beacon since 2006.

I don’t get a week off from the column if it’s Christmas or the Fourth of July. It just gets done.

Some find that a massive, if not surprising, achievement. Others see it as if it were a ball and chain.

Me? It’s just something I need to get done every week. Some weeks, it’s harder than others – but I still make sure it gets done – and yes, I’m better at getting that done regularly than I am at some other things because I’m accountable to the community who reads it.

The value of that accountability shouldn’t be discounted. It’s a powerful tool and motivator.

Think about it

Think about the consistency of the tasks *you* perform to grow your business. Would more consistency in how you podcast, blog, tweet, vlog, post to Facebook, send an email, make a call, drop a mailing or send a newsletter mean more/better business? Would adding a new item to the list make more of an impact?

Of the things you do regularly, which of them produce the best response? (if you don’t know – fix that)

Would it help if that work was done more often? Think about it.

25 (or 6) to 54: Is that demographic important to you?

25 (or 6) to 54 is not a song from Chicago (that’s 25 or 6 to 4, video above).

It’s people.

People aged 25 (or 26) to 54 make up…

  • SIXTY-TWO percent of all social media use.
  • FIFTY THREE percent of Facebook users (687 million as of June 2011)
  • SEVENTY-FOUR percent of Twitter users.

We’re talking about a ton of people who have jobs, families, purchasing power, retirement plans, homes, cars and P&L responsibilities.

In other words – they might not be who you assumed they were. Many of them are potential customers who need and/or want what you create.

Typical

The typical social network user is 37 years old. Not a 13-15 year old who hasn’t yet gotten their license.

59% of people from ages 16 to 32 get their news online (is *that* demographic important to you?)

Are you taking social media interaction seriously from a strategic point of view? Are your competitors?

 

Social media use age profile (click to see full-size)

Graphic source: http://news.community102.com/how-different-age-groups-interact-online For the sources of these numbers, see the links at the bottom of the graphic. They’re readable when the graphic is viewed full-size (click the image).

Any single step can make or break you

Oak Leaf Raindrops
Creative Commons License photo credit: peasap

The process of returning my son’s iPod for warranty replacement has been interesting.

I talk to Costco customer service, now called “concierge service”. That experience was outstanding.

By the way, just calling it concierge service sets the expectation for a good experience, doesn’t it? It also means that you have to deliver.

The Costco guy connects me with Apple service and stays on the phone with me until I’m done, then confirms that I’m happy with the result.

The Apple customer service guy is just as good, and takes care of things quickly. He tells me that he will email me instructions and that I can just take the box to any UPS Store and they will pack and ship it at no charge.

Later, I go into the UPS Store and mention that I have an Apple return. I’m the only one in the store.

Before saying “Hello” or “So….UConn or Butler?”, the UPS store lady hears me say “Apple return” and says “Crrrrraaaaaaaaaap”.

After making a call, she took the box and said it’d be taken care of the next day, but the last impression I have for the moment – which also reflects on Costco and Apple – is….”crappy”.

I tweet something brief about it before leaving the parking lot and head for home. I’m not annoyed about it, mostly because I’ve come to expect stuff like this from retail businesses. I am a little surprised to hear that come from a woman – particularly one that I think is a generation older than me.

Rebound

By the time I get home and settled at my desk, Lindsay with UPS Store care corporate (or a fairly smart automated bot) is on top of it and sends me a Twitter message asking me to email her with details.

12 minutes later, I get a personal reply saying they’ll take care of it.

I didn’t tweet to get support from UPS. That just happened.

The point is that they were paying attention.

Paying attention

The result of paying attention means that Lindsay’s tweet and the email that followed the detailed reply she requested turned a less-than-positive last impression into a good one.

Never forget that every interaction gives you an opportunity to either reinforce/strengthen your relationship or lose a customer.

Every. Single. One.

Stuff like this is a form of marketing that’s the most expensive you’ll ever invest in: Employees.

Arriving late?

Today’s guest post is for those business owners arriving late at the “social media party”.

For those making an entrance, business-wise, here’s a nice social media startup guide from the NYTimes’ “You’re The Boss” blog.

It talks about restaurants specifically, but the advice is sound regardless of what your business does.

As usual, salt to taste.

Brookstone: Thinking like road warrior

Someone at Brookstone is paying attention.

Maybe it’s Brookstone policy. Maybe it’s the person that just happens to be running the Brookstone counter where Jason walked in.

No matter what, there’s a huge lesson in this brief comment from Jason Falls.

Brookstone rocks. Bought an iPad/iPhone backup battery unit. They said, "Would you like one fully charged for your flight?" Hell yeah!less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

You’re in an airport and you buy a battery. OF COURSE you want it charged.

Someone thought about this enough to actually have charged ones available.

Huge. This is the kind of thing you think of IN ADVANCE in order to make loyal fans out of “mere customers”.

How can you Brookstone your business like this?

Are you wearing Old Spice this morning?

Old spice
Creative Commons License photo credit: blvesboy

There was lots of noise this week when those clever folks managing the Old Spice social media campaign started making dozens of videos for a couple of days.

Old Spice’s team responded to Twitter posts, to Facebook posts, blogs and more, whether the posts came from celebrities or not.

The quickly made videos were funny and appeared to gag YouTube for a bit (might’ve been a coincidence). At any rate, it was a clever campaign to get some buzz about the product.

The other shoe

But did anyone buy Old Spice as a result?

Remember, that’s presumably the goal of running an advertising campaign, regardless of the media used.

What concerns me about actions like this – even though I tell you to have fun in your marketing – is that when a global company like Proctor and Gamble uses social media like this, I’m guessing that someone, somewhere wants to see ROI.

If they don’t, then we’ll have a global corporation (and their ad agency, potentially) pronouncing that “social media doesnt work” to anyone who will listen.

Bottom line: They want to see Old Spice fly off the shelves.

Will P&G be able to tie increased sales (over what period) to this campaign and ONLY this campaign?

I just don’t know, but I doubt it.

Unlike the Will-It-Blend campaign, which demonstrated the toughness of Blendtec’s blenders (essential for the market they serve), this campaign only shows that P&G’s marketing firm is smart, clever and fast on their feet – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However…It doesn’t prove they know how to sell deodorant, body wash etc.

Don’t fall into that trap, no matter how clever you are.

REQUIRE that your marketing campaigns return a trackable ROI, no matter what the media.

Update: This morning’s article in Fast Company (online, of course) discusses a little of the behind-the-scenes for these videos as well as addressing the question I discussed here today – translating all of this into sales:

One of the questions that keeps coming up is people saying, “Ok, this is great, but will it make me buy more Old Spice?” If you look at the comments that are publicly saying, “I’m going to go and try Old Spice after this, I’m going to wear more Old Spice,” the groundswell of people saying that they are going to consume more Old Spice, I don’t know whether that is true or not, if people are actually going to go to the pharmacy and buy Old Spice, but I bet a whole load of them are going to go into the aisle and take the top off an Old Spice and smell it.

Update: Mashable comes up with some hard numbers related to the videos…but no sales info.

I’m still following this. We’ll see if they have devised a means of bringing this home to the cash register.

Who I follow on Twitter (and why) for June 2010

Happy Mother's Day
Creative Commons License photo credit: emma.kate

It’s #FF (follow Friday) again, which means it’s time to point you at a few folks that I find interesting on Twitter.

If you love bacon, or unique gift soaps and the like, give @SweetSoaps a follow. Their #1 product was spawned from a Twitter conversation. Yes, people *really do* use Twitter to make a living.

Simply by joining the conversation and prodding me a bit, @StoryBlox helped me past a bit of a mental block I was having, trying to find an allegory (or some such) for a community economic development project I’m working on.

@julien just makes you think. If you aren’t interested in thinking, don’t follow him.

Finally, for a little adventure, check out Ryan Jordan at @bigskyry. Ryan’s the publisher of Backpacking Light magazine and routinely runs around the Bob Marshall Wilderness with (or without Scouts) with a pack lighter than 20 lbs (usually *much* lighter).

Who I follow on Twitter – and Why

I‘ll likely start updating this list with a new post every week or 3, but you have to start somewhere.

I follow…

@ElijahManor because he always has amazing jQuery (and related webdev) links.

@MatthewRayScott for a couple of reasons. He not only makes my marketing head twitch, but he has a sense of humor that resonates with mine.

@WriterAM because she’s a Rotarian who talks about dog sledding and airplanes. What else do you need to know?

@outsideHilary because she’s a local, but also because I enjoy the combination of craziness at the Outside Media office and watching her work her PR magic on Twitter.

And of course, props to @ChrisBrogan for suggesting this was a far better way of talking about folks on Twitter whether they challenge your thoughts, engage you in thought/conversation or simply because you enjoy listening to their wisdom. All the reasons are right on target. And of course, for prompting better thoughts on ways to engage clients, prospects and folks you want have a convo with.

More next time. Enjoy.

Overheard in the frozen food section: What’s all that crap you post on Facebook?

Last night in the grocery store, 2 moms stopped me in the frozen food section. I thought I was safe since their kids swim with mine on the Columbia Falls Swim Team.

As I stood embarrassingly close to the frozen sausage and egg biscuits and pre-fab hamburger patties, they did it…

They asked me a question about Facebook.

If I remember accurately, it went something like this:

“Mark, What’s with the gibberish-filled crap you post on Facebook?”

Specifically, they asked about posts like “RT @idealfool Lakecam now!!!: http://bit.ly/pfsn0“, specifically wondering if I was speaking Klingon or some other language that few people speak here in Northwest Montana.

They asked because most of the stuff I post on Twitter (anything that isn’t a reply or a direct message) is automatically reposted to Facebook. And then they called me a geek. Ouch.

There’s a business lesson here, so keep up, will ya?

Twitter lingo

Twitter has its own lingo that you pick up pretty quickly if you use it. For example, RT means “retweet”.

When you “Retweet” someone else’s post, you are saying “Someone else posted this and I think its important / funny / stupid /sad / amazingly cool / etc enough to repeat to the folks who read what I post”.

The @ sign is also Twitter-speak (mostly). @WSJ, for example means “The Twitter user named “WSJ”, whose posts you can find at http://www.twitter.com/WSJ

I don’t think I need to explain HTTP://, but the rest of the URL looks weird and it’s easy to either think it is a typo or a link that no one in their right mind would click on.

Normally you’d expect a .com, but a lot of these URLs coming from Twitter posts end in .ly, .me, .gd and other really short abbreviations rather than .com.

No way am I clicking on those“, you’re thinking.

These sites are URL shorteners – though it does pay to be careful…

URL shorteners take a really long URL like this: http://ittybiz.com/customers-cant-afford-it/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Ittybiz+%28IttyBiz%29&utm_content=Google+Reader and turn it onto something rather compact like this: http://is.gd/4WLix

The reason URL shorteners are used so much is that Twitter only allows 140 characters in posts placed there. That URL above is longer than Twitter’s message size limit, so my Twitter program automatically shortens it using free services like http://bit.ly, http://is.gd or http://tinyurl.com.

Yeah, but what did you REALLY say?

We’re getting there.

The bit.ly URL in that “RT @idealfool Lakecam now!!!: http://bit.ly/pfsn0” post goes to http://www.nps.gov/ns/featurecontent/glac/webcams/popup-lakemcdonald.html, which is a glorious view of the mountains of Glacier Park as viewed from the south shore of Lake McDonald (cloud cover and darkness notwithstanding) – which is obviously what the original poster means by “Lakecam now!!!“.

@idealfool is the alter ego of Barry Conger, the volunteer Executive Director of the First Best Place Task Force, a seriously cool community organization here in Columbia Falls. Yes folks, Barry is one of those community organizer folks – and he’s read Hildy’s book, so now he’s really becoming dangerous.

Anytime you see an @ followed by a reasonably short name, it’s usually someone’s Twitter name. If you were around during the heyday of CB (citizens’ band) radio, the @idealfool part is pretty much the same as a person’s “handle” on the CB.

And the lesson?

Don’t assume that your wicked cool lingo from one context, group, environment, industry, peer group, media (or whatever) will be crystal clear to and perfectly understood by people in another.

Communication is critical. Don’t assume.

No, I’m not sure how to resolve that in this case without turning off the automatic repost of Twitter messages to Facebook. Yes, I’m thinking about doing exactly that.

Update: Today’s Freakonomics post in the NY Times is another fine example of a message that means one thing in one group and something vastly different to another – the term “Shovel ready”.

@GaryVee: Don’t be average, Average Joe

Normally, I hold guest posts till the weekend, but folks, that wouldn’t be fair to you. This video is a gift that keeps on giving and you need to see it now. Enjoy.

Whether you run a specialty retailer in Billings, a publishing company in Winnipeg, an e-commerce store in Colorado Springs, a niche business services operation in San Francisco, or something else entirely, you simply have to absorb this.

(video has been removed from the net – sorry. If I find it, I will repost the link here)

There are numerous instructive moments there for everyone and they should be drop dead obvious. It might take more than one listen, but do it.

Average Joe

If you read the comments, you’ll see someone ask “What’s in this for the average Joe?”

Beyond @gapingvoid’s “Don’t be average” comment, if you can’t easily take away a dozen lessons from this video, you really need to decompress and watch it again and again until they sink in.

Gary’s one suggestion to anyone who would challenge him in the wine market: “Be better”, suggesting that if he saw Gary Vaynerchuk in his market, he’d go after him big time.