Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#Speaker: #Sales Funnel and #SocialMedia in #Denver Mar. 18 http://pd.am/tj #RealEstate

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Location, Same Swift Kick

All new and future posts can be found on our new website. Please visit us often. Thanks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Joyous Pain of Parenting

The end of the year being about reflection and renewal, this post is not about social media, or marketing, or small business. We'll get back to ROI, strategy and new media soon enough. This is about me and my family, and winter break. Perhaps you'll find a bit of yourself here.

I have found leaving my children at school to be the most excruciating element of parenting.

Only now, as I approach 40, do I understand my mother’s unrelenting demand for academic excellence while lamenting, “I hate school. It takes babies away from their mothers.”

Only now do I understand my father’s nightly dinnertime drill about my whereabouts, companions and lessons learned during prior hours; and his requirement that some degree of satisfactory response be delivered before the conversation dropped.

The experience of separating from one’s children on a daily basis is one to which one grows increasingly but perhaps never fully accustomed. The act of steeling oneself against emotions when dropping off a three-year-old at daycare is effortlessly forgotten by the time the habit has formed of viewing the back of her waving hand disappear into the current of pedestrian egress from the car drop-off line.

We spend winter breaks coordinating schedules with family members and business partners to account for safeguarding and entertaining our children, moving from logistic to logistic and insuring that the basics are covered; that our charges are each maintained satisfactorily and sufficient overlap among schedules exists. We decorate, attend parties and events, send cards, swap presents and shop. We stay on the move. We assure and comfort clients and partners that in a very short time, the holidays will end, our kids will all be back in school and some normalcy can return to the precious, precious schedules that govern our pursuits of profit and productivity.

Today, with one week remaining in winter break, my daughter’s teacher sent this video. It is a brief, light collection of snapshots, I’m sure delivered to parents with a goal of reassurance. “Here’s what your kids are up to when you leave them in our care. See? All is well, they’re doing great. You can feel fine about bringing them back in January.” Maybe we can show it to the kids to get them eager to return to school. Santa’s not coming back for a whole year, may as well go hang out with your friends, right? And where are they? At school.

Your kid is not in the video so to you it is but another slide montage put to music. My beautiful and talented wife happens to count the school among her clients, and so she is frequently on site. She practically narrated the piece while we watched. I, on the other hand, could not speak at all.

For me, watching the video was an intensely bittersweet experience. It demonstrates to me that my daughter is socially astute and has overcome separation anxiety, that she can thrive in this environment. It reminds me that the ultimate reward of my parenting efforts is absolute assurance that with each passing day, she needs me less.

Perhaps, when she reaches my age, she will understand why her mother and I answer questions about homework problems only with more questions, why the TV cannot be turned on until schoolwork is complete, why the daily requirement of discussing “three things that happened to me at school today” with Dad before dinner is done is so constant and inflexible.

For now, I will watch the video again and push the moisture from my eyes. Our family will enjoy what remains of winter break together. And with each day, as she grows increasingly independent, I will pray for her to know, someday, the unequaled joy that comes only from the daily heartbreak of kissing her children goodbye.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should I add my Twitter account to LinkedIn?

Love that you ask.

The story so far: You received an email from LinkedIn. It said you could:

1. Make your Twitter account visible on your profile
2. Use #in or #li to share posts from Twitter to your LinkedIn status
3. Add the Tweets app to share your Twitter activity on your profile

So this is an aggregator. A short time ago, Facebook started enabling users to automatically have their Facebook status updates post to their Twitter accounts. LinkedIn is offering this feature. Aggregators are good.

But are they always? The LinkedIn application goes both ways, i.e. when you post on Twitter, your LinkedIn status gets updated.

If you ever hear me speak, you'll probably hear me talk about culture and social capital. Social capital is the currency of social networks. Behaving inconsistently with the culture of the network begets a social capital deficit.

I can't imagine everyone who has an opinion on this feels the same way, and certainly it depends at least somewhat on your goals, your use of the tool, your desires for your personal brand, but here's where this might be a round peg in a square hole.

The cultures of the two networks are not totally compatible. LinkedIn is the office. It's all about work. It's like a business meeting. When you post a status update, you're delivering a report. For example, at this writing, the most recent status update on my LinkedIn news feed reads that my friend Doug Griess, attorney, is, "Doing a CLE re IP licensing issues."

Harumph, yes, but absolutely what is expected on a LinkedIn status update. Doug earns a little social capital.

Twitter is where we go when we leave the office. We talk shop, sure, but we have opinions about it. Compared to the stoic structure of LinkedIn, Twitter is an unpredictable crowded bar with many voices talking about any number of disonnected topics.

Many of us "tweet" and "re-tweet" with great frequency, or several at a time. The content of these posts may be opinion, more social than business, an "@" reply, etc. We're not accustomed to seeing this on LinkedIn. Chances are, we're connected and visible to professionals who use LinkedIn exclusively because they don't appreciate the hieroglyphics and glib chatter they find on Twitter. A quick check of my "All Friends" feed on TweetDeck gives me the opportunity to learn about, "mind blowing hyperrealistic structures," and tells me, "puppys (sic.) are cute," and, "I love this video!" The presence of any of these in a LinkedIn status update will cost the author social capital. (The presence of these in my Twitter feed tells me I need to make time for housekeeping...)

If you do link the two accounts, I strongly recommend taking the option to post only the "tweets" that you tag with "#in" or "#li." If you don't have a grip on hashtags, here's a nice primer. If the term "hashtag" is foreign to you vis-a-vis Twitter, I recommend passing on linking Twitter and LinkedIn.

I do think LinkedIn is to be commended for giving this a shot. For some, this will be a nice time saver and may allow a few to dip a toe into Twitter.

I also offer kudos to LinkedIn for providing a 1:1 communication to all users and introducing this change as an option. In this way it has shown itself to be more in tune with customer service and the expectations of its membership base than a certain other Internet social network that shall remain nameless here but whose name may rhyme with, "space hook."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Social Media ROI: Are you a Service or a Sandwich?

I love my monthly Internet Social Marketing think tank. This month, we're tackling ROI (okay, probably more like pushing it around...). There may be nothing more important for businesses to measure, right? The organizers this month asked me for a list of recommended applications for social media ROI measurement. It's cool and timely, because I'm working on an ebook compiling the tools and differences among promotion, measurement and monitoring services.

So here are a few quick answers: Google Analytics, Social Mention, Search Monitor, Facebook Lexicon.

Unfortunately, the question's wrong. As my new favorite blogger, Jason Falls, points out, we're applying old metrics to new tools or measuring what's convenient and known rather than what matters.

This article, as most Mashable stuff does, contains some great info. The preso itself makes some good points but goes astray at a critical juncture.

I am unconvinced that the nascent, dynamic medium is realistically trackable as presented here. I believe the true opportunity of the medium is not, especially at this stage of the industry, in customer acquisition but rather in customer retention.

Your social media audience is a closed, opt-in network. For cheap, transactional items like coffee or a sandwich you can acquire customers with occasional giveaways, and over time you can change purchasing habits to your favor, just as with the traditional coupon model. But what about professional services, B2B‘s, products and services with higher barriers to entry? The ROI equation becomes more complicated, the cycle for measurement much longer, the criteria more intricate. For these, the ROI equation is not, “How many more customers did we get?” but rather, “How many customers have we saved?” Not, "Are we spending less to acquire customers?" but, "Are our current customers rewarding our efforts with wallet share?"

Though qualitative, I think social media can be harnessed for brand and product development. Well used, an ROI equation might include, “What do we know about our customers, our product, the perception of us in the market, what changes or improvements have we made stemming from our social media efforts?” But don't take my word for it; take Frank Eliason's.

Ann Handley of MarketingProfs asks this question about social media ROI: “What’s the ‘I’?” Have we answered that question? As a business owner, I’m less interested in the number of re-tweets, mentions, etc. Show me sales, revenue. Social media--unless you're a sandwich, a movie ticket, a chotchkie--just isn’t there yet. This isn’t direct mail or an 800 #, where you put it out there and see who responds. This is engagement, relationship building. It provides a look at the very real, stark contrast between “Marketing” and “Advertising.”

Now...re-tweets, "shares" and backlinks are the greatest if it represents your customers becoming an effective sales force. If you're willing to invest in the creation of product champions, to let your customers tell you how to make your product more meaningful to them, how your service must adapt in order to provide greater value, social media presents a tremendous opportunity. There's your opportunity for market share gain...though indirect.

A discussion of applications is cart before horse. I love the topic for the group and I’m sure we’ll come out of this with a bunch of links and apps but the search for ROI is too important, complicated and currently nebulous to decide that the statistics such services render are meaningful just because they’re available.

Without a clear understanding of the medium and meaningful goals, all the re-tweets and click-throughs in the world mean nothing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Importance of the “Personal Note”

Here’s a little personal “share” with an “ask” or two at the end.

Somewhere between the ages of 7 and 17 I got to where I hated clutter.

I’m not to the point of being OC, I don’t think, but I am “If in doubt, throw it out.” If I’ve been holding on to something thinking that a use for it, or a person with a use for it, will come along, and it’s been a while and that hasn’t happened, it goes to the curb with a “free” sign, out with the trash or to charity.

Ironically, I sometimes keep a messy desk. While I prefer it neat and organized, moving forward on specific deadlines and focusing on what’s possible frequently pushes filing and recycling down the priority list. With me, there’s merit to the notion that one’s outward appearance is an indicator of one’s inner state of mind, so eventually I have to set aside time to clean and organize. I find the organization of physical things helps immensely to clear the virtual clutter in my head.

As we age, life reveals shades of grey. Nine years ago my wife and I started having children. It turns out that I don’t “hate” stuff in the middle of the floor, I just “dislike” it. My love for my children, my intense desire for them to be happy during their days provides tolerance for what strikes me first as “clutter.”

Internet social networks provide a new type of “clutter,” and I think I’ve decided to change the way I deal with it. I’m talking about “friend” or “connection” requests.

Not everyone uses Facebook and/or LinkedIn, for example, the same way. In my forthcoming Ebook and current lecture topic, The Social Network Compass, I talk about a number of concepts including the choices people make about their use and presence on Internet social networks: Personal/Professional, Inclusive/Selective.

Some people join Facebook for the sole purpose of sharing pictures of their grandchildren with a single party. Others seek purely business-oriented connections with anyone who will have them. Most of us land somewhere in between, we’re a lot or a little of all of the above. There’s no “right” answer; the question isn’t black versus white.

Some time ago, about Year 4 B.F. (Before Facebook), I took an open, “inclusive” stance toward connecting on LinkedIn. It opened my professional network and provided collaborative and fruitful business development opportunities. It also opened my network to a guy who spammed and scammed everyone about bogus real estate deals. I’m accountable for that. No matter how hard I scrub I can’t seem to rid myself of the stench. I’m sure everyone’s forgiven me but me, but that’s conversational fodder for me and a therapist. Onward, to the point.

The fact that I do post pictures of my kids on Facebook for the benefit of their grandmother in Texas, that I talk smack with friends whose emotional ties are to sports teams inferior to my favorites, dictates, for me, that I have to be more selective on Facebook than on LinkedIn. (On LinkedIn, I’m all business. And so should you be. Culture.)

Settings, yes, I know. I coach on them, their importance and their optimization. Still, it’s not the end-all. Depending on nascent technologies and hackable networks to protect your identity is a house of cards.

So, a couple of things here: When you get an email from me, the autosignature has a link to
my LinkedIn profile…and not to my personal profile on Facebook. I think the culture of Facebook dictates that the social capital required to talk business is earned through the sharing of your human side; it makes me more likely to feel comfortable doing business with you. Is this a hard and fast “policy?” No. Somewhat arbitrary, even, perhaps. Shades of grey.

Here’s an area, though, where the contrast is beginning to show. Currently, I have a couple dozen “friend” requests on Facebook to which I have not responded. Reasons:

  1. I have not met or do not remember the requestor, and
  2. The requestor has not accompanied the request with a note on how we might know each other, work together in the future or use the connection toward a specific goal or objective.

    I am not an introvert. I get out. I meet lots of people. I excel at introducing power partners to each other. So, despite the fact that many of these people have “mutual friends” with me, belong to the same professional organization(s) I do, etc., the answers to 1 and 2 above are assumptions. When I assume, my network can get spammed. I’m accountable for that.

    I’ve rejected requests for which such commonalities do not avail but kept these couple dozen around, figuring that eventually, based on the fact that we run in the same crowds, we’ll meet. That said, for thesee couple dozen, it’s been a while and no such meeting has occurred.

    Not all of my “friends” have the same connection criteria I do. That’s fine. They’re more inclusive. I respect that. I may move in that direction. For now, though, these requests have become clutter. I think I’m going to put them in a box and take that box to the curb. The man comes early next Monday.

    Terribly sorry if this offends.

    In the future, if you’d like to avoid people like me treating you like this, I respectfully urge you to, when making a “friend” request (or a “connection” request on LinkedIn), take a moment to click that little link that says, “Add a personal message,” and make plain your intent. Chances are you’re a lovely person and an expert in your field. If so, a brief, meaningful exchange will illuminate mutual opportunities.

    So that’s “ask” #1: Please let me know who you are. I genuinely like most people I meet in person, online, otherwise. But I’m not given to random, anonymous connections. Accountable.

    “Ask” #2: Your reaction. Where do you set on the continuum? Are you with me? Am I totally flippin’ crazy or maybe just think a little too much? What’s your experience here? If you don’t “add a personal message,” why not?

    If we keep thinking and communicating, we’ll crack this nut. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Privacy and Social Networks

Any of us who train, coach, manage, or market in the social media realm encounter a host of frequent objections. One of them is, "How can I keep my personal and professional personas separate?"

There are many different answers to this question. Here is mine: You can't. The ship has sailed, the horse is out of the barn, that was yesterday, live in the now. That said, your entire life doesn't have to be an open book.

If you've ever done business outside of the good old US of A, you just don't find this innate need to hide personal matters from business partners. Quite the opposite, in fact: People want to know who you are, to develop a relationship with you, first. Then if they like you and feel comfortable around you, they'll move to business. Perhaps this comes with having cultures and economies that have developed over thousands of years as compared to a couple hundred, perhaps for other reasons.

Regardless, the interactive and contributory nature of Web 2.0 is irreversible. As you read this, the planet is shrinking. Walls and filters are disintegrating. Do you know what Americans age 40 and under do when they meet you, get handed your business card or hear your name referenced as a potential business partner? They type your name into Google. How do you influence what they see? Social media; social networks in particular. Strategically used, your brand is most easily and strongly established with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Meetup and others.

Facebook, due to the casual and personal nature of the network, is rightly and naturally the greatest focus of concern. And yes, people do get scammed. So while you're living a pipe dream if you think in 2009 A.D. you can get away with being a respected intellectual by day and a rock and roll drunk by night, there are some things you should do to protect yourself. Here are my top four plus one.

  1. Customize your Privacy Settings. Facebook in particular throws you in. You finally got so tired of getting emails from people to please join and long story short here you are. And, in spite of yourself, you might even be enjoying it. If you find yourself mixing business and personal, you're totally getting how to be a grown-up on Facebook. It's like going to a party, isn't it? More on that in a subsequent post. But when you start your account, Facebook starts connecting you with people, growing your network. It does not overtly prompt you to protect yourself. Make sure to hover your mouse over the "settings" link in the upper right corner of your Facebook home page and do some clicking.
  2. Don't overshare. First, don't post on Facebook that you're having romance problems. Second, you don't have to tell Facebook everything. Now, sometimes you want to tell Facebook something so it can help you connect with other people but you're not sure if you want to display it to everyone. In that case, put the information in your profile, tell Facebook not to display it, and go back to #1.
  3. Don't start with Facebook. Don't put your personal Facebook profile on your email autosignature. Send your new prospective partner to LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Then, once the professional relationship is established to the point where you find yourself asking about each other's kids and softball games, "friend" up on Facebook.
  4. Set a Google alert for your name. Anytime someone says something about you or your business, you want to know, right? Companies of size, especially but not exclusively, should also perform periodic searches in Twitter and make sure to keep the "Mentions" column active in TweetDeck.
  5. Stop getting loaded in public. And hide the cameras when you have your buddies over for a keg and the game or host the girls for a "passion party."
How are you managing? Are these your top five? Have you tried these steps? If so, did they work for you? If not, why not?