Savvy Customer Service – Be A Business Your Customers Can Talk To

Social Media has opened up brilliant opportunities for small business.  It’s now possible to compete with huge names and the big brands as small and medium enterprises can offer something the big boys can’t (or just don’t). Savvy customer service.
While the major brands are dealing with hundreds, thousand and millions of customers (you can’t compete in size, so don’t bother), small and medium enterprises can take advantage of the social aspects of the new media.  You can engage with your customers one-on-one and meet and sometimes even exceed their expectations.
It’s worth developing good customer service habits as they always have a positive effect on  your bottom line and that illusive – Return on Investment (ROI).   According to recent data – a dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about it.  And who wants that. We all know it’s much easier, and makes more sense financially to deal with any complaint properly and with integrity. Especially as it can cost up to five times more to find new customers than to keep existing ones.
Open for business
Les Baux de Provence, France – 2007
Take advantage of your more compact size and engage with your customer base.  Use social media effectively to remind your customers you’re there for them and that you’re listening.
Strategies for getting your existing customers to love you even more and finding new fans in the process:
1.  People are now shopping 24/7 and you can be open all hours without having to turn the shop lights on.  This doesn’t mean you have to be online 24 hours a day.  It does mean you have to answer as soon as is feasibly possible with a consider response. Getting back to people in the next five minutes isn’t always necessary, but a week later is very poor.
2.  Product announcements as they happen.  Take advantage of the real time nature of social media by keeping your customers informed.  You can promote new goods and services, run contests, give always, try before you buy campaigns, etc.
3.  You can ask your customers what they want and tweak your goods and services so they’re what’s really wanted.  People like to be asked and not told.
4.  Show appreciation and support. Show your customers you care. Say hi. Give out freebies and or discounts on birthdays etc.
Cheers to excellent customer relations
Oxford, UK – 2010
5.  Respond to their concerns, comments and customer services needs.  Be prompt and considerate at all times.
6.  Provide links to recommended resources and tools. Show your customers you’re not just a pretty face but also a valuable source of information.
7.  Engage and build a dialogue that develops new relations with customers and potential fans. Exchange, interact, connect etc..
8.  Make selling your business more interactive.  Even ask your customers and fans to do something for you once in awhile. e.g.. “Tell two friends and you can get this….”, “RT this for us please…..”
9.  Careful and thoughtful use of automated messages.  It’s OK to send out a “Thanks for your message, call, tweet etc.  We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”  And then make sure you get back to them soon.  Personal messages should follow as more automated responses makes it seem like your company is run by bots and you can’t be bothered to talk to them.
Overall in Customer Service just think how you would like to be treated and treat your customers like people you want to do business with!
Finally always remember the wise words of Mark Twain:
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have
to remember anything.”
Good Luck

30 Ideas for using Twitter for Business – Just in case you still weren’t sure

Old style business communication and marketing
Hastings, UK 
Getting started
1.  Sign up!
2.  Complete your user profile – we want to know who you are. Be interesting and keep it real.
3.  Add a photo/picture/avatar – keep in mind real people like to see real photos – if you’re just an egg it shows you don’t care so why will anyone else.
4.  Find similar businesses to follow – start developing your community – use Twitter search for followers.
5.  Twitter is a conversation – Listen to and Talk to people about THEIR interests.
6.  Be wary Twitter is not a forum for relentless sales people. If you’re  ALWAYS selling or Promoting just your stuff, people will turn off.  Strive for balance.  Understand Twitter is a long term marketing tool.
7.  Follow people/organisations not just in your sector, you can have non-business interests too – be well-rounded.
8.  If more than one person is tweeting on behalf of the business make sure there’s a  policy/understanding in place so there are boundaries and a shared purpose.
9.  Always keep in mind why you’re using Twitter and ensure it adds to your marketing strategy. Use some of the statistical tools available to make sure Twitter is worth the time (therefore money) input.
10. When online be engaged and be helpful.
How to Tweet
11. Have other members of your team tweet if possible. It’s nice to have variety and if it’s one person’s sole responsibility they may get fed up.
12. When promoting a blog post, directing people to a website etc, give a hint what it’s about – give your followers an indication as to why you bothered to write/post it so they can be bothered to follow your link.
13. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions – people love to share their knowledge and give advice.
14. Follow people who have similar interests but go a step further and see who follows them – follow their followers.  Remember you can unfollow.
15. Re-Tweet (RT) other people’s Tweet. This probably won’t directly impact your business, but you’re seen as someone who shares. Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.
16. Tweet when your audience is online.  The wee hours or weekend are quite often quieter times. Have a break!
17. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful/interesting/fun. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
18. Share the human face of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has a value for connecting people. Be a “human” not a “robot”. Share some personal items but nothing private.  Also share links of interesting events/people/places in your community.
19. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back but do share your successes. Share other people’s triumphs as well. Be supportive.  Don’t single-mindedly tweet about you and your business – don’t be an ego maniac. Boring!
20. Point out things of interest things in your field.  Become an expert.  Also share links of interest about your community eg:  events/people.  Be real.
Tips for helping you manage Twitter
21. You don’t have to read every tweet.  If you want to get anything else done in a day, you can’t. And honestly, ALL Tweets are not the same.  Some of them aren’t incredibly interesting.
22. You don’t have to reply to every tweet directed to you – some are robot anyway. But its nice to respond to say a quick thank you
23. Use direct messages (DM) for 1-to-1 and private conversations.
24. Use services like Twitter Search to see if someone’s talking about you.
25. Use a Twitter management tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite These tools make it much easier to manage Twitter.
26. Don’t let Social media take over! Be prepared to miss stuff but the good stuff will come around again.
27. Use an URL shortening tool. It helps tidy up your tweets. (the facility is available directly on Hootsuite).  You can also track who follows your links.
28. If someone says you’re doing it wrong, forget it. There are no hard and fast rules for using Twitter. They can unfollow if you if they want.  However, if a lot of people say you’re doing it wrong, well then maybe it’s time to reconsider Twitter as a marketing tool or get someone else to do it for you.
29. Schedule Tweets! You don’t have to be glued to the screen.
30. You can tweet some of your tweets again.  Resend tweets out at different times of the day.  The Twitter audience fluctuates so new people can pick up your old tweets.  Don’t get too repetitive though.
Stopping now 🙂  There is more advice but this is already too much to remember. I’ll save a bit more for later.
One last point and it’s the big one.Top, number one rule (and I’ve said it before, yes, will say it again) always keep in mind when using any form of Social Media for business that:
“People do business with people they know 
and people they like”
 New style communication is on the Web
Hampshire, UK 

What Is Your Cunning Plan? – 13 Reasons Why You Are Blogging

You’ve entered the world of social media.  Your website is up and running, you’re becoming a Twitter enthusiast and now you’ve decided it’s time to add a blog to your marketing arsenal.

Before you launch into blogging you really have to ask yourself “Why?”.  There are already over 200 million blogs out there so it’s essential you know why you’re spending this time doing something everyone else is already doing.

Don’t let the numbers put you off.  You aren’t competing with the millions of others (that’s impossible!) but you will need to find your niche and have a purpose.  Simply by having a purpose your likelihood to persist and persevere with your blog increases.

Remember your blog is a both a welcoming and useful
path to your website – Tuscany, Italy – 2009

Confession time here, in the beginning I didn’t give blogging any thought at all.  Someone asked me why I wasn’t blogging, so I just did.  Yup, that much thought. My early blog entries are a (very) random series of miscellany that I wrote whenever I felt I should.  But they served no purpose whatsoever and they never will.

And I’ve changed direction at least twice since I started.  You can read my early work as it’s still here, nothing has been erased.  I’ve left them on this blog as thoughtful, how not tos.  They aren’t really terrible, just a bit clueless.

See I’m human.  I’ll even share my not so greatest moments with you so you can learn from my not always so brilliant example.

Right, back to you and your blog.  When you decide to write a blog to support your business you should at least start thinking about why.

Knowing why you’re blogging is not only important for goal setting and establishing a direction, it’s important as a motivation tool. Blogging is where you will spend the largest chunk of your time in your social media world.  I don’t mean you’ll be on your blog for hours at a stretch, but writing a good blog takes up a greater chunk of time than send out a dozen tweets, or putting links onto your Facebook Business Page.

It’ll take you more than a few minutes to write something publishable, edit it, decorate it with pretty and relevant pictures, edit it again, save it, find those three (at least!)  spelling mistakes, edit and again and then finally publish it. Then, and there is a then, time to promote it on your other social networks, using it to direct traffic and therefore clients to your website. Knowing all this activity has a point is essential to the small business owner.

So finally, why do people/companies/organisations blog? Here are a few reason why:

1.  To establish your reputation as an expert

2.  To engage in conversation with others

3.  To express your thoughts – self publish

4.  Show prospective clients who you are

5.  To share ideas – can be both personal and business

6.  To help and advise – again can be both personal and business

7.  Enhance your chances of being found by search engines i.e. improve your visibility

8.  For money – blogging as a job

9.  Affiliate marketing – selling someone else’s product or service

10.  To develop and sell a product

11.  Networking

12.  Fame and fortune

13.  Writing content for other online resources or offline projects

Finding your niche and
connecting to your happy customers

Vancouver, Canada – 2011

You can blog for any one of these reasons or a combination of a few or most of them.  Mine’s a cocktail of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 (OK and as it’s ultimately for work and the blog does direct people my way, it’s also a bit of 8).  Keep in mind when you start a blog that it’s work and it will take patience and it should be a part of your long term plan.

I understand there’s a learning curve and that the phenomena of social media can be a bit of a maze. It takes dedication, time and practice to learn how to use these tools to their best advantage.

Good luck and happy blogging.


My Insights on Social Media – after…..?! Years of Being Online

I said in a much (much) earlier entry, I didn’t expect to be giving out advice on a regular basis because: 1. there is a lot of that on the Internet already, 2. why would I expect you to listen to me, (if you know me you would!) and 3. it’s my objective and that of my small business to offer my clients practical help – the roll up one’s sleeves and get-on-with-it kind of help.  So I’m a doer not a teller.  But well, things change 🙂

After the rambling preamble, what you can expect from this blog, is a series of loose observations and some personal opinions with some nice photographs here and there.

Vancouver, British Columbia – 2005

Today I will be sharing a few insights that I have gained over the last few year as I have plunged into the world of “Social Media” primarily for business (business? That is so funny on reflection! It’s pretty personal now as well.):

1.   Social Media isn’t free.  Twitter, blogging, Flickr etc may be free applications but they have to be maintained and of course the old adage is true – Time = Money

2.   Social Media is a public forum.  Don’t say anything you’ll regret and keep this in mind triply if your using it for business.  I know many of you have been indulging in major sporting events and the festivals (it’s not just me), but I don’t want to know how much you drank to celebrate/commiserate and I really don’t want to know what intimate bits of you got sunburn!  Yes, maybe I’m old fashioned but these colourful insights will have an adverse effect on my opinion of you.  You maybe my colleague, my potential colleague but you are not my friend (yet).

3.   There is no excuse not to be polite.  Please and thanks yous don’t cost anything and you’ll cultivate a reputation for generosity, fair mindedness and integrity. When texting and Twittering, brevity is essential but being terse and rude isn’t acceptable. And yes, spelling counts!

Granada, Spain – 2008
4.   Don’t ask for favours from people (requests for links, referrals, reviews, etc) and then tell the person what to say.  Note the word favour! Keep in mind when you ask, that you might not actually know them all that well.  Social Media can engender feelings of rapport that may not be reciprocated.

5.  Remember you have real friends and real family members.  Texting, tweeting, making or taking phone calls, whatever is NOT acceptable when you are supposed to be spending quality time with live, present people who care about you.  Always use technology to support and enhance your life and business not as a social substitute.

An aside here, I have never understood in films/TV even real life, why people ALWAYS feel they have to answer the phone.  I have an answering machine that provides a very adequate messaging service.  Sometimes I’m busy and can’t deal with a call at that exact moment.  It may be that I’m not even necessarily busy.  I might be reading a book, in the shower, just back from a run and wanting a shower, anything.  When the phone goes and I don’t answer it, it’s simply because I’m not ready to have a chat.  I promise to get back to you asap.

Oh dear, my phone dilemma.  This is probably just me and my eccentricities 😦  Still I maintain that I’m in charge of my phone, not visa versa!

And finally,

6.  Always, always remember the key to using Social Media successfully, is to be yourself.  People do business with people they like.

Hope you found this helpful, I do try my best.

Right, now I’m off for a run now.  Don’t call I won’t answer.  After running, I really really do want that shower!



Paris, France – 2007

If You’re Going To Do It, Do It Right – How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

It’s another one of those, “If you’re going to do it at all, do it right” things.  It isn’t any harder to do a good job (you know I’m lying, but just a bit) on your LinkedIn profile, and the rewards will be much greater than doing half a job.
It’s also another one of those, if you put some effort into it, it will show people that you think this matters.  A great LinkedIn profile conveys the message that:- you’re a consummate professional, as you care about your image,
– you take this network seriously and have respect for the business world, and fellow professionals online,
– you know how to take advantage of the best opportunities, and
– since you know how to network online properly, this demonstrates clearly that you’re Internet savvy.Connections and future connections on LinkedIn will be impressed, and take you more seriously, rather than the opposite, which is to relegate you to Deep Web oblivion.

Being impressive and influential is what LinkedIn is about (and getting dinner invites from long lost colleagues, but that’s another story*).  You have to offer something, other than a firm handshake, to get successful and worthwhile connections.  As I said in another post, LinkedIn is for professionals and you shouldn’t be here if you’re not serious about your work and your profession.
As they say (or do they?)
Play or get on your bike
Granada, Spain – 2007
As you’re reading this, you’re serious, so here are a few tips to making the most of your profile:

1.   Complete your profile 100%.  According to LinkedIn, by fully completing your profile, you will be “40 times more likely to receive opportunities”.  Well I suppose they would say that, wouldn’t they. But even if that statistic isn’t quite that high, “opportunities” should be an incentive for you to make the effort.

2.   A nice photo please.  And look happy to be here. Yes, it will give away your age, your hair colour, your ethnicity, etc.  They were bound to find out sooner or later that you’re a gorgeous, red-haired librarian with a few freckles.  The fact is, faces are easier to remember than names and these memories also last longer.  I’m not making this up.  This memory bias is known as the Picture Superiority Effect.  Another reason to use a photo is that your face is your brand and logo.  You should be like BMW//Apple/Twitter and reinforce your brand by using this photo on multiple sites.

 3.  Include all the companies you’ve worked for, your higher education, any awards and of course all publications (if you have any).  Not only are recruiters looking for these key items but so are your ex-classmates and ex-colleagues. Make looking for you easy.  You’re on LinkedIn.  You want to be found.

4.   Include your website, blog links and Twitter feeds.  Who are you, what have you done, what do you have to say?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Besides you put all these details on the Internet, so make use of them.

If you don’t like LinkedIn you could
go retro and stick a note on this board
Ottawa, Canada – 2004

5.   Update and change your profile whenever necessary.  Your career doesn’t stay still in the real world (I hope).  You’re not stagnate.  Don’t grow moss on LinkedIn either.

6.   Write in the 1st person not the 3rd.  Since you’re using LinkedIn, it’s obvious that you aren’t royalty.  Be real and sound genuine.

7.   Acronyms.  Don’t assume everyone knows what you mean.  Please be clear and explain.  Also you never know what terms people are using for searching.  For example – CA has over 680 meanings including everything from Chartered Accountant to Cost Analysis and including Combat Aircraft.

8.   Think about the quality of your network.  Some people still feel it’s about big numbers.  I feel it’s about the quality and the productivity of the connections you have.  The 50 people you know and who would recommend you, are more valuable than 675 who barely remember you. When you start on LinkedIn, you can import your professional contacts from your email directories.  You aren’t among strangers on LinkedIn, as your colleagues/peers/even friends are here.

That’s enough for you to contemplate for now (and be getting on with).

Good luck.  Any questions, you know where I am.


Why It’s Time To Stop Panicking and Relax – Social Media Isn’t Supposed To Be An Ordeal

The world is getting astonishingly quicker and smaller as the phenomenon of the Internet has changed how we do business.  Now with Social Media added to your business arsenal, you have yet another thing to do.  Be honest, sometimes you don’t have time for it or maybe sometimes you just don’t feel like it.  That’s OK.  It’s allowed honest!  And it’s completely human to want to step back once in awhile, if you feel you’ve had enough.

As you’re not Oscar Wilde, it’s hard to be eloquent all the time and it takes time and effort to dazzle on the Internet.   With the incessant demands of life at 24/7, even poor Mr. Wilde would have felt his dagger sharp repartee dull every now and then. If you don’t have teams of people to help, sometimes you need to step back and recharge your batteries.

Unless Social Media is your full time job, make sure you keep it in it’s place as a useful and versatile tool for engaging your customers.  

Be a happy persona online and not a frazzled one
Vancouver, British Columbia – May 2011

A few tips for keeping yourself dazzling:

1. Take a break from posting longer more involved articles or campaigns.  Stop saying quite so much and possibly start sending out a few photos with short captions or share some sites (real or virtual) that you just quite like.  Big plus side, it shows your audience that you are well-rounded, more human, more personable, more accessible i.e. more like them.

2.  If you’ve been online a while its OK to cheat and bring back a post or an entry from a few months ago.  Your new fans won’t have seen it and maybe your old fans need a refresher (the worse prospect is they’ll just won’t bother reading it again).

3.  Let people know you’re having a offline vacation and let people know when you’ll be back.  No six month cruises though!  People will only “watch this” space so long.  I feel it’s fine to tell your audience that you’re having a break.  Make sure you don’t go onto deep hibernation for weeks, or months because you will be forgotten.  Ensure you send out tidbits every now and then so they don’t forget who you are.

4.  Maybe you’re tired because you’re throwing yourself around a bit too much.  Did you dive into the Social Media arena without really thinking and tried giving it ALL a go?  Periodically have a rethink and overhaul your marketing and communications strategy if necessary.

You might need to scale down your online activities and concentrate on creating better quality content on fewer platforms.  Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to.  You’re not a lemming.  Mindless following is not required.  Be discerning and use the tools that work best for you.

5.  Get help.  Stop doing everything yourself, especially if you are really fed up and feel very unlikely to step up again.  Delegate the responsibilities of Social Media to someone else (within your rules of course),  spread it around a team or even outsource.

Take time out to contemplate and check out the long view
Iona Beach, Richmond, British Columbia – June 2011

So stop beating yourself up for not being “on” and “with it” all the time.  Just because the Internet is going round and round incessantly, doesn’t mean you have to try and keep up. Nor should you.  You can, and should get off the insanity making online treadmill every now and then. You need a reality break and it’s great and necessary for getting some perspective.

I hope these bits of advice are helpful and that you get the timeout you need.

Why do I do this?  Well as the inimitable Mr Wilde said:

“I always pass on good advice. 
It is the only thing to do with it. 
It is never of any use to oneself.”



Where Did The Time Go And Why You Aren’t Getting Things Done Online – How To Do Better

OK I admit it. I waste time on the Internet.  Photography and social media sites are my downfall.  According to a study by Nielson – social networks and blogs count for 23% of total time spent online – (in the US –  but it’s probably pretty much the same in most places). At least I can be comforted that I’m not alone.

Temptation at Green Gypsy Caravan
South Island, New Zealand, 2005

But it’s hard not to be diverted.  Especially when you work on your computer all day, it can be very hard not to be distracted by little, very shiny, new things.  We all know that what’s happening on any of your three Twitter/Google+/Facebook/etc accounts is so much more appealing than focusing on paid work.  And that new app/gadget/life changing device has to be scrutinized, commented on and shared immediately!

Without adding 6 hours to your day, how do you tear yourself away from all that sparkles on the Internet and devote yourself to paying work?

No painless answer.  Sorry. The brutally honest truth is that it’ll require giving stuff up and some discipline on your part.

1.  Ditch the myth of multitasking (I am absolutely not a believer, you just set yourself up to fail).  No you can’t do more than one thing at the same time successfully.   If necessary write a to do list and cross things off.  Make a point of completing tasks before delving into something else.

2.  Focus on the small goals that support your big goals.  Get rid of the distractions that aren’t motivating you or helping you achieve your end goal.  Are you using all those gadgets and online tools properly?  Do they duplicate activities or make you pointlessly update more services?

 3.  Assess your use of Social Media.  Are you really getting something out of it?  Does it have a significant place in your overall marketing scheme and are you using it effectively?  Be honest about this (and it’s hard).  Often it’s more fun to chat and share than get any actual work done.  Make sure your Social Media activities are (yep that dreaded but appropriate phrase) “fit for purpose”.

 4.  Be disciplined about your time.  If you have to – draw up a chart, make a schedule, create a timetable and stick to it.  Get a real clock and don’t rely on the tiny clock on your computer.  Make sure you have a big visual so you are aware that those 5 minutes do go sailing by.  

Tempus Fugit
Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France – 2007

5.  Stop playing games! Solitaire, Farmville, World of Warcraft, whatever.  Those little treats you let yourself have as a break. Only after hours!  Yep, you have to be a grown-up now (but only to a point!)

6.  Chatting.  Yep, stop talking so much.  You have to be friendly and personable even online but be aware how long those conversations are going on for and be clear as to what is your agenda.  Are you bored, flirting or is it really work?

All these tactics will require you to be conscientious and truthful about your working habits.  The good news is, when you resolve to take back control of your time you will (oddly but ultimately) have more to spend it how you like.

So more time for wielding a big sword on WoW!

Or just kicking back on a beach 🙂
Rabbit Island, South Island, New Zealand – 2005 

So You Think Social Media Doesn’t Apply To Your Business – A True Story

Now this is a topic that I really understand from both sides.  And I hang my head in shame at my earlier self.

I was you.  The skeptic.  Well not exactly skeptical, a big, “Oh no I don’t want to do that.  It’s going to take up time I don’t have and frankly I can’t be bothered”.  That was me.

I run a small business helping people sort out in general terms their stuff, including: IT, files, information overload, etc…( and now Social Media of course).  I was busy flinging myself around at networking events, attending forums, scrounging for clients in every legal way I knew how and generally getting on with the whole ship load of activities it takes to run a small business.  Where was I going to find the time to engage in Social Media and honestly were my prospective clients even there yet?

Take a leap of faith
East Cape, New Zealand – 2004

That was two years ago.  So most of my clients weren’t there and I had yet to take the plunge.  As a vastly over qualified information professional (yep. breaking my arm, patting myself on the back :-)), I was already spending far too much time in the ether, on the Internet – trawling through databases, compiling research for clients, filing electronically and even with paper.  So I knew all about information and people.

Hand on heart I just didn’t want to learn anything new.  I knew what I was doing and how it was supposed to work.  Well time for one of those paradigm shifts.  Horses and cart can still get you from place to place to.  Even walking works if you have enough time.  But now, the Pony Express is but a legend and a great film set but no one is seriously ever going to contemplate it’s revival as a viable form of transportation.

We have and must move on.  So kicking and screaming (all right mild foot stomping) I leapt into Social Media and against my traditional judgement I found myself liking it very much.

Why?  “Why such a quick and devoted convert,” I hear you ask.  Easy, I love that Social Media is available to all and it brings the consumer back in control.  For how long have we been sold at, talked down to and had our likes and dislikes dictated to us?  With Social Media the product don’t get any better but the customer service comes back into play and it becomes about us and not about them.

As the owner and operator of a small business that puts my clients’ needs first, that’s what I like the most.  Customer service counts again!  Social Media doesn’t improve the product but it does improve your relationship with your client.

Social Media is a forum that works for businesses of all descriptions and budgets of all sizes.  As long as you have someone (or yourself) who is devoted to establishing a cunning plan and will work diligently towards establishing an engaging long term relationship with their client base, then everyone has a chance of success.

If you are a sole trader, a micro-business, a small or medium business, you can use Social Media effectively in your marketing scheme.  Through proper time management, effective strategizing, you can creating a personalized niche for your brand and you will find the clients you want and deserve.

Promote your uniqueness
Venus de Milo, Louvre, Paris, France – 2006

You can’t afford to ignore Social Media, not now and definitely not in the future. Social Media is still relatively new and over the next year even more businesses will start taking advantage of the opportunities it has to offer.  For your business, find a format that suits you and your marketing strategy and start making a name for yourself.  You don’t have to compete with the granddaddies of branding but you can promote yourself in your little corner of the web and the world.

There are currently over 500 million Twitter accounts, a billion million people on Facebook and the professional social networking site LinkedIn reached over 100 million members last year.  Your people are out there.

Start talking to them.


10 (Plus 1) Random Golden Rules To keep in Mind When Using Social Media

Ta Dah!  An actual useful, “how to…” post.

The following list is a few choice tidbits on dealing with Social Media – focusing on Twitter and LinkedIn (I’m a long time non-fan of Facebook.  How much time do you have? Yes I’m there but not yet entirely comfortable.).  Of course accompanied by the usual disclaimer – “In my humble opinion the following is very good advice…”

1.  Remember it is a public forum.  “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, does not apply.

2.  Social Media is yet another tool and will not replace any of the tools you are currently using.  You will have to pick your demons carefully because you do not have the time to be brilliant on all platforms and you have to do them well. Choose wisely.

3.  LinkedIn – This social networking site is less about how many than about how good. You are expected to know your contacts and to be able to recommend them to others.  Remember people want to connect to you to use your reputation and access your contacts.

4.  Use LinkedIn to keep in touch.  Supposedly these are your most essential business colleagues.  Make sure they have your most up-to-date details.

5.  Consistency is king! If you use multiply forms of social media, say the same thing on all.

6.  Twitter might be a daft word and tweeting a seemingly frivolous activity.  Still, make an effort to be interesting, informative and real or no one worthwhile will follow you.

 7.  As much as possible (for your own sanity) try to use one social media platform to populate another.  Examples;  Tweet your latest (or relevant) blog posts on Twitter to drive traffic to your blog and website.  Use Tumblr to add content to your blog.  Post your Twitter on your website/LinkedIn. etc

8.  If you don’t want to tweet/blog/connect/follow and you still feel it is an integral part of your marketing plan (because it should be), hire someone else to do it. Delegating is OK, getting help to manage it better is OK too.

9.  THERE ARE NO OVERNIGHT SUCCESS STORIES!  Those people who say they made 3 million pounds in 18 months with their blog, yes they are trying to sell you something!

10.   If you decide Social Media doesn’t work for you, you really don’t have to stay.
How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular Websites – Here

Plus 1 – Finally – Always remember:

People do business with people they know and 
people they like!
So you are assured I don’t take myself too seriously:
Me as the reigning queen of Social Media
Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland, Australia – 2005

Following and Followers on Twitter – What’s the Big Deal?

Now this is the article where I show my true colours as a Social Media Heretic.  

I’ve written a number of articles about following on Twitter and you have asked me how to, why to and mostly what to do.  First off, please understand these are entirely my own opinions.  I don’t run a complicated stats package and I don’t use studies or fancy algorithms to back up my insight.  My Twitter advice comes from 20+ years working with people and establishing productive working relationships with them in the flesh and online. I do know what I’m doing.  I was manhandling online information before Twitter and before Mark Zuckerberg had any friends.

What you get from me is straight talking.

If you have read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that my advice is primarily aimed at small and medium business enterprises.  I want to help you develop and maintain an engaging, open and positive relationship with your clients.  All my advice is based on my mantra (yep here we go again):

 “People do business with people they know
and people they like.”

However, I’m not exclusive and any and all my advice can be taken on board by anyone.  It’s good stuff!

I probably spend more time on Twitter than most because I want to get under its’ skin and find out how it works for those of you in the real world.  It’s my job to sort it out Social Media for those of you who want to part-take but haven’t got the time or necessarily the inclination.  I would like you to be able to maximize your opportunities and enable you to use your time online productively.

“I like work; it fascinates me. 
I can sit and look at it for hours.”
Jerome K. Jerome
Not us though!
Paris, France – 2007

So back to being a Social Media Heretic. 

For SMEs (and most of us) I sincerely believe that it’s not about big numbers but quality numbers.  This is why I don’t adhere to the more is more plan of action. I don’t slavishly follow everyone who follows me. Honestly I don’t understand why some people do follow me.  They obviously haven’t read any of my tweets, visited this blog or gone to my website.  They usually leave before the week is out.  Yes, confession time here.  People leave me in droves!  OK a minor trickle, but it happens.

I don’t care. (OK it’s very nice to have loads and loads of followers.  I do enjoy having a fan club that may or may not listen to what I have to say.  I’m human, I want to be liked!)

What I do care about more is the people I follow.  And yes many followed me first and I liked what I saw and followed back. The others I discovered myself.  I’m choosy not a ego manic.

“Oh, but you’re so mean because that’s not very nice”, I hear you cry.  Not so.  I’m sure the other 189, 999,301 plus accounts on Twitter will find their own fans (in some cases I wish they would just go away but…).

Come on!  Who has the time? 

Really is it important to be followed by everyone including the cat’s brother?  Wouldn’t it be better to develop a solid core of interesting and engaged followers who actually know who you are?  People and businesses you can talk to/sell to/rely on/are interested in?  My answer is yes.  Your most effective use of Twitter is as an integrated part of your marketing scheme.  So use it to it’s best advantage to find your particular niche audience.

I say this because I feel that you must always keep in mind the “Social” aspect of Social Media and this require dialogue, interaction, exchange.  You know – being social. And yes, to use Twitter really effectively you have to do this.

Coffee or tea with chat works nicely too
Buonconvento, Italy – 2009

The formal lingo for developing a compatible/useful/involved following is called “Organic”.  Because it’s a selective process, takes a lot of time and yes you have to wade through some decomposing natural products to get there (nice euphemism eh?).

In the long run (and do keep in mind that all Social Media is for the long run, it’s not an over night quick fix), developing your home grown organic followership will be much more rewarding than 1,500,000 followers who only need you to make their numbers look good.

It’s not just a popularity contest.  Twitter is a business platform.  Seriously.

Hope this helps clear up a few things.  Any ideas, objections, insights……you know where I am.