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Glenn's Blog Posts for SMBs from Inclusion Media

Inclusion Media's focus is on Business Technology, Marketing, New Media Management, Niche Networks, and Social Media for SMBs.

We hope you find our posts insightful or informative.

Please address any questions or comments to Glenn Schein via the contact page.

Thanks for reading along.

 

Inclusion Media, LLC is a Business Development and New Media Strategy consulting firm based in Boulder, Colorado

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4 years 21 weeks ago
Online Review Strategies for Small Business

Social networking makes online customer reviews and word of mouth marketing critical for most small and mid-size businesses. Internet review websites have become vital tools for informed customers voicing their opinions.

Businesses who ignore Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, blogs, and review sites are either very busy, myopic, or arrogant. Avoiding negative reviews and getting positive ones requires some time, logical thought, and a little strategy. Unsatisfied customers are more likely to tell others about their experience than satisfied ones. Social networkers are greatly influenced by peer reviews. The same tools that will spread the negative reviews can be used in proactive and positive ways.

blogger wordpress friendfeed facebook gowalla google twitter posterous amazon email squidoo yelp  frinedster digg delicious aol mobileme ebay retweet reddit stumbleupon youtube vimeoyahoo-buzz

What can your business or organization do?

  • Make it easy as possible for customers to communicate with you and review you -  Make it as easy as possible for a customer to write a review. Is your Yelp information correct. Do you have a presence on Twitter,  Facebook, Foursquare? Do you send follow up email with a link to your review pages. Let customers know that you value their opinion and that you welcome feedback so you can improve your business. Do you make it convenient via your marketing materials and websites to find your business links to LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • Just how good are you? – Being OK isn’t enough. If you want to get more positive customer reviews, you need something exceptional or have a very loyal clientele. What are you Tweeting about? What’s new or unique about your business. What is featured in your latest blog or Facebook post? Almost every business has exceptional features or qualities. What makes you a competitor, the leader in your field, the underdog,  or new guy on the street? Your most satisfied customers know. Engage them and they will tell you.
  • Take all reviews seriously (and some with a grain of salt)-  Some customers don’t provide feedback because they assume it just gets ignored. Customers who do give feedback need to know you are listening. That is exactly why you need to show you take the reviews seriously. Responding respectfully and thoughtfully to negative reviews shows that your business cares and is not afraid to engage criticism. Taking the time to communicate and respond to the issues shows customers that you value their opinion. Business owners and customers have never, until recently, had this type of digital dialog and micro-cast available. The resource is powerful and  indelible. The digital world is like the “real” world. There is a chance you will never satisfy everybody. Some people only thrive on the negative; you need to get a quick sense of who they are and politely let them be.
  • Don’t argue Don’t get too upset. You don’t want to argue with the reviewer. Don’t look defensive and unprofessional. Apologize for the negative experience, and find out if there’s anything you can do to fix their opinion. Maybe you can resolve the problem, and possibly have the negative review deleted by the user.
  • Leave a trail for reviews but never bribeReviews need to be genuine. You can not ethically offer your customers an incentive for giving you a positive review. No freebies or discounts. This has come back to haunt some businesses . If you bribe  for positive reviews, you’ll be in violation of the policies of most review sites, and many customers can see through your game. Encourage your best customers to review you, but do not reward.

 

Are you aware of all the places your business is mentioned and reviewed?

How are you monitoring your reputation and responding to reviews?

4 years 24 weeks ago
Social Media for Business (Myths and Truths)

A recent “Onion” article took a funny stab at Social Media tools and hype. The piece was almost as funny as people belittling the cost and labor of Social Media Marketing, PR, and Business Development. This month I have heard or read the following SM myths;  maybe we can dispel some of them here.

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1. Social Media; It’s Free (not a chance)

Social media costs time and money. Social media is about as free as manufacturing, shipping, marketing, advertising, sales, public relations, research, or any other function of your business.  You may be able to do it yourself if you are willing to spend day after day planning engagement and interacting with people, or you can save some time by hiring someone who has already put in the hours and can share shortcuts, tools,  and personal connections. There are economies of scale for the SM professional. Those economies save you time and money. People who really understand social media are going to be busy and are going to get results, and they are going to bill accordingly.

2. Social Media is Very Easy (right!?!)

Social media marketing and PR is real work. You need to find, work with, create and micro-cast pertinent content numerous times daily. The speed of technology and information in the social media world is intense. You need to read, learn, solve technical puzzles, re-learn,  and engage the right people at the right time. You need to do this daily for each client. Social Media is about as easy as any profession is easy. If Social Media is so easy why do millions of businesses and people who register for Twitter never get out a Tweet? Why do so many business and personal blogs get one entry per year? This is real work for business/marketing professionals.

3. Social Media Is A Magic Pill and You’ll Feel Better In The Morning

SM marketing can takes months or longer. You’ll have a million followers by next month, your YouTube video will go viral by day two, and your blog will be as widely read as the New York Times after your 2nd post. Not quite! The good news is with a plan and professional help you will be moving to the proper platforms faster and more efficiently. You have spent years and hard cash building your business; it’s not time to let competitors pass you by because you want to stick only to direct mail, newspapers, and the way you have always done marketing.  This is 2010 and your customers want and will be connected to, engaged by, and validated by you … or your competition.                 

4. Social Media is Best When Using an Intern or Student (Really!?!)

Social media is not all that difficult to mess-up. Who writes your press releases? Would you contract your advertising copy to a High School kid or part time college student. No offense meant to either of these teenagers. We know they do “know” everything. Just what is the value of your reputation you have worked for and earned? Kids do spend a lot of their life on Facebook. Sorry, that does not make them competent marketers, writers, strategists, and PR professionals. Would you let a teen intern write your LinkedIn bio?

5. Just Set-Up Facebook and Twitter and That’s All You Need to Do

Nice try. What have you got to say?  Having a Twitter profile or Facebook page are the wheels on the car. These don’t make you special or get your driving in the fast lane on the highway. You need to say something interesting, important, or humorous. And you are now competing with millions of other social media voices.  Social media is often about making connections with real people. Customers, community members, influential’s, traditional media, business leaders, potential customers, and the right targets for your business. You can’t just put that Twitter or Facebook widget on your company web page or door and call it a “social media strategy.”

6. Social Marketing Works For Every Type of Business  I doubt it can work for all business types, locations, and sizes. Unless you are foolish and abusive, social media marketing certainly can’t hurt. Social Media heavy users are driving the market at this time. Follow any Twitter stream and you will see Ipad news, Smartphone reviews, tech writers, and marketing conferences. Brick and mortar or service businesses need to be creative and keep conversations going.  You can’t just sell the “2 for 1 special” or the 50% off sale. “Unfollowing” happens for being crass or spammy. And it should. Customers want personality, humor, value, validation, listening, and to be engaged before getting the hard sell. What are you looking to get out of social media tactics? If nothing else the right social media strategy can give you and added value “word of mouth” from the most influential target demographics. 

It has become impossible to get through the day without hearing a personal or business social media story. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs. What custom programs are needed for your business? This is the time to re-shape your business marketing and get into the business/social media echo-chamber.

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4 years 27 weeks ago
Small Business and Old Media (Yellow or Digital)

I could swear the stack of Yellow Pages in the lobby of my building has more books now then when they were delivered a few months back. Directory advertising is a $15 billion industry. If you have a broadband connection, do you need a phonebook? Fifteen billion dollars; I know and understand the demographics of who still uses phone books – but - $15 billion in 2009?

yellowing

Small business marketing habits are changing fast. Social media, new mobile couponing technologies, web pages, digital engagement, blogging… The billions spent on directory ads, direct mail, newspaper, local cable TV advertising, and other formerly dominant old media tactics is driving all digital marketing platforms. And rightfully so. Yesterday's "bang-for-the-buck" may not be money well spent today. New digital media can get to niche markets quickly and efficiently.

Today’s connected consumers want to be engaged, informed, validated, and sometime even entertained. They want to see a YouTube video, read a blog post, be Tweeted to, or get a Facebook invite. A coupon or ad on the bottom of page 707 of a 2010 doorstop will not work. When was the last time you saw a visually worn yellow page directory or local newspaper.

I remember the “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking” ad campaign for The Yellow Pages.  How odd that we all let our fingers do the walking every day. They walk to Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Bing, Facebook, and other sites with more valid and current info. What a nightmare come true this must be for Yellow Page publishers. And to make matters worse, 20% of all homes and many business do not even have a landline phone or local phone bill.

One of my favorite old (1979) movies was Steve Martin’s, “The Jerk.” Think of this classic scene in light of today’s social  networking on Twitter and Facebook. “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need! My name in print! That really makes somebody! Things are going to start happening to me now.” By the way, there is a Navin Johnson page on Facebook and you may be able to friend him.

So why do we spend time "Googling"  instead of “Phonebooking” or “YellowPaging” someone?

Think: connection, convenience, current info, engagement, value added, and the right platform at the right time.

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4 years 28 weeks ago
Why You Can’t Quit Facebook

We have all read and written about Facebook and it’s gorilla-like privacy tactics. They have repeatedly changed settings and privacy controls for their own benefit. Many users have been vocal and actually thought about the privacy issues and potential downside risks. Some users have thought about digital responsibility for the first time. Employers, insurance companies, marketers, law enforcement agencies potentially all have easy access to almost everything on your Facebook pages. Facebook’s privacy controls have been confusing and I have pretty much lost count on how many times the settings have changed in the past year.

facebooklogo

So why do Facebook users stay around? It’s easy to figure out!

  1. Its the #1 site on the web   540,000,000 unique visitors;  35.2% reach; 570,000,000,000 pages views. So with these type of numbers where are your more likely to have more friends, Facebook or …?
  2. Users have invested too much time and labor on their pages. Starting over would be a lot of work. Would all your friends be there? You can only leave if your friends go  with you.
  3. There is no real competition to Facebook. The garden is kind of walled off, even with the open privacy settings. You are kind of stuck.
  4. Lack of privacy is good for business. Facebook’s business users are not in it for privacy. They are here for a new level of business engagement. They won’t leave unless you do.
  5. Facebook is trying to listen. They say they are now giving us better control of our user and privacy settings. Time will tell.
  6. There are no 12-step programs currently available to get off Facebook. I’m not sure if social networks are damaging to your health? It’s not a far reach to other addictions. Smoking, drugs, overeating, etc.
  7. Everything in life is a trade-off. Actions and consequences. Agreeing to Facebook’s EULA is the trade off. The benefits of being networked on Facebook outweigh the forfeit of some of your privacy rights. That is the bottom line.
  8. If we quit Facebook… how would our sophomore year roommate find us 20 years later?  And all those old girlfriend stories? 
  9. Where are you going to go?  Twitter is definitely not Facebook. LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace, Friendster ? I don’t think so.
  10. Bad day for a Facebook exodus! “Quit Facebook Day” was this past Monday, Memorial Day. 33,000 users reportedly quit. It may have been a more effective protest had users been indoors on Monday and had the Facebook execs not addressed some of the issues earlier in the week.

You and 400 million others can not quit. You may be in it for the long haul. What would Facebook (or any other dominant site) need to do to make us flee?

4 years 29 weeks ago
I'll Have A Blog Post With That Latte Please

I stopped by one of my favorite local coffee shops this morning for an espresso and a bagel. I did not sleep well last night and needed to get awake before a 9 am appointment. I opened up my laptop, checked a few emails, and overheard some conversations between the shop owner and a few customers.

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The first went something like “… I see you have some new coffee choices”. The cafe owners response was “…we posted it upon our blog a few weeks ago and we hope our regulars will like the new blends.” The customer said he had read it on the blog recently and told him he liked the new item. He then gave the owner some green suggestions for future posts; the customer was sold on the re-cycling efforts of the business and was not shy in telling the owner how he should promote and Tweet about this aspect of the business.

About 5 minutes later another customer referenced some new pictures she saw on the coffee shops Facebook page. She and the owner joked about the political appropriateness of the shirt the barista was wearing in the pictures. By the time I checked out the page the pictures were gone.  Publish first, edit later.

I was packing up my electronics, getting ready to leave when I overheard my final new media interaction. A geeky looking guy in a business suit was telling the barista that he was from out-of-town and always refers to Yelp before hitting coffee shops when visiting new cities. He cited one review that helped him make his choice.

I thought, whatever happened to “this coffee is a bit  too acidic”.

Not bad for 9 am on a Friday. All business paradigms are shifting.

Social media may just be caffeinated

4 years 31 weeks ago
Facebook Privacy, I Mean Facebook Piracy

Just a few months ago Google was taking heat for the privacy (or lack of) settings on it’s Google Buzz service. Google may be the elephant of the internet. We now have a new gorilla.

facebooklogo gorillapic

Facebook, which now has more pages views per day than Google, is awash in criticism of it’s latest privacy settings and it’s new “like” button mechanics. Fourteen privacy groups have filed unfair trade complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. Senators are calling for hearings and tech writers are giving more than a fair share of thumbs downs. Class action lawsuites are also being filed.

When you hit the “like” button, all your privacy is gone. Facebook has turned your profile page into your open online ID. The power of 400 million profiles. I guess Facebook could not sell your data as profitably if it were to be kept private. In the past year Facebook settings went from private options, to public by default, to now a totally public profile. Yup, public for all the internet to see, your location, employment, reading preferences,  school name, favorite music, pictures, etc. It all ties into CNN, Yelp, Pandora, Microsoft, and hundreds of other sites. About the only thing protected is your email address and passwords. The bottom line is that is is probably erroneous to call Facebook’s  settings “privacy” settings. They seem more like “public social” open internet settings.

Facebook could have used a system with some remaining privacy options. They could have allowed a opt-in or had settings that were not maddening to figure out. They wanted this battle and wanted it now. Facebook has changed the rules of privacy and have not given it’s users a choice. They have critical mass and they know most people will not dump their account. They know users will click on that “like” button and not think about privacy of their profile.  People are lazy by nature. Many of us do not like switching software, social networks, and browsers. It takes time. Look at the amount of people still using AOL email because AOL would not let you export your address book. AOL did not want you to leave it’s subscription domain; Facebook just wants everyone outed and to sell your data to advertisers. They are confident in not becoming another MySpace.

Maybe Facebook execs have this wrong. Maybe the erosion of privacy is a concern of social network users. Maybe a competitor will emerge and challenge Facebook’s  dominance.

There is some strange privacy puzzle here. Most of us want control over our privacy and settings. When given control, most of us will ignore the options and just leave them open for all to see. This is especially true if the control panel is complicated or we are made to think setting tighter controls will keep us from participating in some new form of perceived  internet democracy. Thus, a small PR snafu for Facebook, some sizable legal fees, and probably a negligible loss of users. On to 500 million open profile (not so privacy hungry) users.

More about this post:

Putting Facebook On Privacy Lockdown from (SFGate.com)

The Anti-Facebook (from ReadWriteWeb)

Facebook Gone Rogue (from Wired)

Facebook Privacy Graphic: A Bewildering Tangle of Options  (from NY Times)

Does Privacy Even Matter (from Fast Company)

10 Reasons to Quit Facebook (from Gizmodo)

Tell All Generation Learns To Keep Things Offline (from NY Times)

Facebook Overplaying It’s Hand (from Calcanis.com)

 

 


 

4 years 32 weeks ago
New Media Trust and Reputation: Twitter vs Flat Media

 

Technology changes rapidly. As it evolves it takes with it lots of things that had no intention of changing. Marketing, news, media, business, trust, society, reputations, education, and responsibility (just to name a few).

As citizens and consumers it has always been pretty easy to filter and choose who we trust. Media and advertisers have done most of the job for us. The Internet has challenged some of our trust decisions and has cemented others. New media (social networks, social media, crowd-sourcing sites, micro-blogging, etc) has and will have greater impact on how we calculate trust and reputation. New trust decisions will affect where we spend our dollars and where we get our news.

Twitter is a web and mobile tool with phenomenal impact for change and influence. Reputation and trustworthiness can change overnight. Power and influence has been traditionally with those with the dollars to spend on advertising and promotion. You did not need to be nimble if you had the bucks.

Complex and simple trust networks of influentials are forming and swarming. These large and small participatory and opt-in groups gain power by the moment and by the follower. As we move towards geo-location based broadband marketing the entire landscape of trust and consumerism will radically shift.

Flat and one-way media (print, tv, cable) can not compete for trust and reputation. Watching TV or reading newspapers and seeing how these media outlets try to merge new media is humorous and odd. Daily newspapers often get stories and pictures from social networks. TV news (local and cable) read viewers tweets into their coverage of breaking news.

New media is fast. Trust and reputation will fall to those who keep pace and thrive in the new environment. Businesses who engage their customers in effective conversation who seize the media tools to enhance their market position will become front-runners. To achieve the position their business must also be customer centric and have value. New media participants will quickly recognize and rebroadcast the lack of trust and reputation of those trying to game these new systems of influence.

Google changed how we think about accessing information. Craigslist changed how we think about classified ads. eBay changed how we think about garage sales. Twitter and other new media sites are changing how we think about trustworthiness and reputation. Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder, addressed trust and reputation in a recent post on his blog.

“By the end of this decade, power and influence will shift largely to those people with the best reputations and trust networks, from people with money and nominal power. That is, peer networks will confer legitimacy on people emerging from the grassroots.”

“We are already seeing a shift in power and influence, a big wave whose significance we’ll see by the end of this decade. Right now, it’s like the moment before a tsunami, where the water is drawn away from the shore, when it’s time to get ahead of that curve’.

Is it time to get your business involved before the water recedes?

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4 years 33 weeks ago
Text Addicted Teens: Don't Bother Emailing Them

The latest is in from Pew Internet & American Life Project.

If you have teens in your house they will not be emailing these results to you. The daily life of teenagers has little room for email. This makes perfect sense in light of the rapid growth and acceptance of competitive text and voice communication platforms.

Daily use of communication methods stack up like this:

  • Email 11%
  • Instant Messaging 24%
  • Social Networks 25%
  • Landline Phones 30%
  • Face to Face 33%
  • Cell Phone Call 38%
  • Text Messaging 54%

One third of teens send more than 100 text messages a day, or 3000 texts a month. I hope you are buying the bulk texting plan from your wireless carrier.

Text messaging by teens to peers has increased rapidly since 2008. Some 38% of teens were texting daily in February 2008. This has risen to 54% of teens who use text daily in September 2009.

75% of teens own cell phones; 87% use text messaging at least occasionally.

Among those texting teens:

  • Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • 15% of teens who are texters send more than 200 texts a day, or more than 6,000 texts a month.
  • Boys typically send and receive 30 texts a day; girls typically send and receive 80 messages per day.
  • Teen texters ages 12-13 typically send and receive 20 texts a day.
  • 14-17 year-old texters typically send and receive 60 text messages a day.
  • Older girls who text are the most active, with 14-17 year-old girls typically sending 100 or more messages a day or more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • However, while many teens are avid texters, a substantial minority are not. One-fifth of teen texters (22%) send and receive just one to 10 texts a day or 30 to 300 texts a month.

Above stats are from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Report: Teens and Mobile Phones

Bottom line (as if you did not already know): Facebook and SMS rule; long live Facebook and SMS messaging.

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4 years 34 weeks ago
US Digital Literacy – Hold Up On The Browser Wars

The recent  FCC “Broadband Use and Adoption in America” report quantified that about two-thirds of Americans use broadband services. This seems like a strikingly low number at first; then when you think about cost of service, the monopolistic (cable and tel-co) service providers, and the state of our economy – the 66% makes pretty good sense.

Almost as interesting as the  broadband penetration stats, were the digital literacy numbers in the FCC report.

Survey data (of Broadband customers) shows some amazingly low knowledge and understanding of digital and internet basics. Again, these numbers are of broadband users and do not include the 33% of Americans who do not use the internet or are on dial-up connections.

Asked if they understood very well the listed terms, the following answered YES:

61 percent—refresh or reload
44 percent—operating system
42 percent—Internet browser cookie
41 percent—JPEG file
40 percent—spyware or malware
16 percent—widget

The 16% firm understanding of a “widget” seems pretty high to me, especially after watching the YouTube video embedded here.

Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, said in TheHuffington Post, “There is an urgent need for extensive digital and media literacy skills, not only to be taught in schools, but also for parents and seniors.” He knows what he is talking about, these numbers do not lie.

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4 years 34 weeks ago
Yelp: Real people, Real Reviews; and maybe some Real Trouble

How can you keep up to date on all the digital drama these days. It could all be on NBC or HBO at prime time.

The “Google Buzz” buzz has been in the headlines for months. Scams and phishing for control of your Twitter account are being re-tweeted at this very moment. The privacy settings on your Facebook account are written about in The NY Times and Wall Street Journal, like some political scandal or hostile takeover. The networking  battle between Twitter, Facebook, and Buzz. Google’s Street View legal challenges in Europe. And the daily headlines about the Ipad.

In the midst of all of this there is the YELP extortion scheme story. The claim is that Yelp employees have tried to extort money from companies, demanding advertising contracts in exchange for removing negative reviews from Yelp’s website.

yelp extortion

The story was first made public in March by an article in TechCrunch. A response from CEO,  Jeremy Stoppleman was then posted on the Yelp’s blog.

I have been a Yelp user for years and hope the accusations are bogus. The folks at Yelp have been innovative and captured a difficult niche of internet acreage. And, I like their icon on my Firefox toolbar. But, if the accusations are true, I will be the first to learn to navigate the website of their successors.

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