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The 5 Books Every Business Owner Needs to Read

social media book for businesses

At Giraffe we are compulsive readers; we're addicted to reading books of all topics. But seeing as this is a blog about social media, we figured it'd be silly to tell you our favourite book about emotional intelligence or deciphering dreams - so here are our top 5 books on the topic of social media.

If you're a business and you're looking to educate yourself so that you can't start taking over the social media sphere - look no further than these 5 great books.

1. Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook by Dave Kerpen.

This was one of the first books we read on social media. It offers great analysis for anyone who is looking to understand how marketing your business on Facebook works. It does touch on other social networks, but to be honest this book is worth reading for the Facebook stuff predominantly. Mr Kerpen has a very readable writing style and offers countless easy and actionable tips in this book that can get you started pretty much from the first chapter onwards! If you're looking to master using Facebook for business, this is the book.

Find it here

2. The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Hyder Kabani

This book offers a really good insight to each social network.  It doesn't cover one more than others, but it gives you a broad basis of knowledge that will be a good foundation to push on from. Shama offers a lot of good advice, but her strengths lie in explaining things in a way that is both informative and fun. This book also will answer any questions as to 'why' your business needs to start implementing social media.

Find it here

3. Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff

This book shows how to take the threats of social media on your business, and turn them into opportunities. The first few chapters may drag for people who aren't beginners, but stay with it as there is a lot of good advice and insights to take away. The book is extremely well written, and a pleasure to read. It also looks to address some of the bigger picture, of what is next and how can we predict where these technologies are going.

Find it here

4. Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm

Looking to understand Twitter, and fully utilise it to maximise your business' potential?  Look no further. This book is everything you need to know about Twitter and how to use it for Business. Much like Kerpen conquers Facebook and breaks it down for you, Joel Comm does the same here for Twitter. It was a pleasure to read, and has insights for people of all abilities.

Find it here

5. The Social Media Detox: The 7 Day Detox that will Dramatically Increase the Brand Visibility, Web Traffic and Sales of your Business by Phil Treagus

Alright, you got us - this is our book. But without floating our own boat too much, we really do feel like this 7-day plan can help anyone of any ability get started on social media. It is a walk through guide for beginners to using social media for business. We focus predominantly on Facebook and Twitter and show you how to optimise each for your best chance of success. Take the 7 day detox and see your results increase.

Find it here

Social Media Expert Interviews: Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton Interview

 It is time for another Giraffe Expert Interview, which this week is with Guy Clapperton.

Guy speaks regularly on social media and did so in seven countries in 2011. He has written two books on the subject, "This Is Social Media" and "This Is Social Commerce". He has also been a journalist since 1989, primarily in the technology and small business arena. He has been a media trainer since 2002 and has broadcast regularly for a number of years on the BBC News Channel. He is an associate member of the Professional Speaking Association.

Guy, tell us a little about what it is you do?

I'm a speaker, journalist and author. You're probably getting in touch because I've written a couple of books on social media, "This Is Social Media" and "This Is Social Commerce", which have led me to speak on social media in ten countries over the last year, spanning two continents.

Tell us about the journey you undertook to get you where you are now? Where did you start?!

When I'm Prime Minister the word "journey" is going to be illegal unless it involves actual travel! My background is that I became a journalist full time in 1989 and noticed someone looking at conferencing systems/bulletin boards in the corner, asking people questions and communicating when he hadn't met them. This struck me as useful and when I went freelance in 1993 I adopted it immediately, joining a conferencing system called Cix, and later CompuServe and AOL.

How important would you say having a social media presence is for businesses these days?

Vital but becoming less and less interesting. In 1997 we would have shouted about having a website, it was new and exciting. In 2008 I wrote a book that spent some time explaining how to set up a Twitter feed and what Facebook actually was. Things have moved on very quickly and I think we're now at the stage where yes, you need social media but you need a lot more besides - it shouldn't be an end in itself.

What three bits of advice would you give a business that is taking their first steps into the world of social media?

1. Listen rather than be salesy. Establish yourself as someone who really knows your field and people will come to you for goods and services; push the offer of the week at them constantly and they won't.

2. Ask your clients and prospects which social media they use - don't spend ages on LinkedIn and then find your customers are all on Facebook.

3. Above all else make sure it's part of a business plan and part of what you do - not something that's out there on a limb and an end in itself.

What do you think the future holds for social media?

It's going to be more and more mainstream, which has happened to a very large extent already. Mobile is increasing and that's going to go further, which probably means location-based services are going to increase.

What is the coolest fact about Giraffes you know?

Giraffes very rarely bother me on Twitter telling me what they had for breakfast. I like giraffes.

As Guy mentioned he is the author of two books: 'This is Social Commerce: Turning Social Media into Sales' and 'This is Social Media: Tweet, Blog, Link and Post Your Way To Business Success' - both books are well worth a read.

Image source: allthepeople.net

What is Snowglo?

snowglo website logo

Although Kane and Phil run this awesome Social Media Management company, they also have another venture that has been in the works for around 18 months. They wanted to create their own social network - how hard could it be?  The answer is really hard!  But here we are, 18 months later, and Snowglo is now live and growing on a daily basis! So, what is Snowglo?

Snowglo is a brand new social network that went live last Thursday night, and had 500 users within 24 hours! The mission is to save the world from boring review websites. Snowglo is a review based social network that also incorporates game-like elements by ranking all of our members on a leaderboard, as they write reviews in a bid to earn kudos, badges and even money.

Although a new website that is sure to evolve further in the coming years, Snowglo is a highly polished and attractive website that we are extremely proud of.  It was designed by the amazing Bonzo Creative in Southsea, England. The site has a real community feel, and prides itself on welcoming all and making their opinions feel valued.

So should you want to be a part of it?  Lets explore it further.

When you become a member of Snowglo you are given your own profile page, much like on Facebook, Twitter etc. Here you can upload a photo and write a little bit about yourself. As a member of the site you are placed on the leader board - and as a new member you'll be ranked as a Snowflake. It's time to start writing reviews.

You can either choose to review a product from the in built database of products, or you can choose to review anything you want in the form of a 'Snowglo Live' review. This review will then appear on the homepage of all of your Snowglo friends.

The site is a lot of fun, and is great way to share with friends what you're watching, listening or reading at the moment. On the other side of that coin, it's also a great way to discover new things that like minded people are reviewing.

Kane & Phil strongly recommend that you check the site out and start writing reviews, as it is a lot of fun and also provides you with some extremely informative reviews. They hope you enjoy it - and look forward to hearing your feedback.

Social Media Expert Interviews: Dave Kerpen

Interview with Dave Kerpen

This week saw us chat with one of our favourite authors on the subject of Social Media, Dave Kerpen. Dave Kerpen is the co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm with triple digit revenue growth for 4 consecutive years.

Dave and his wife and COO Carrie have transformed theKBuzz (founded in 2006) into Likeable, 1 of Facebook’s Top 65 Preferred Developer Consultants as well as the only 3-time WOMMY Award winner for excellence from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Dave has been featured on CNBC’s “On the Money”, ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Early Show, the New York Times, and countless blogs.

Dave, tell us a little about what it is you do?

I am the cofounder and CEO of Likeable Media. We’re a social media & word of mouth marketing firm. Some of our 200+ clients include Neutrogena, 1-800-Flowers.com, and The Pampered Chef. Our goal here at Likeable is to help firms become more responsive, transparent and likeable through social media, by establishing a dialogue between brands and consumers. Right now, I am also involved in a new Likeable initiative - Likeable Local, which is a Facebook marketing solution for small businesses. Likeable’s also expanding abroad and we’re currently tapping into international markets in Mexico City, Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai and London, so I’m extremely involved in that. Additionally, I’m an author - I wrote the NY Times Best Seller,Likeable Social Media and am just finishing up my second book Likeable Business.  When I’m not working on Likeable initiatives, I’m also a frequent speaker at social media conferences and webinars.

Tell us about the journey you undertook to get you where you are now? Where did you start?!

The idea of a word of mouth marketing firm came from my wedding actually. My wife Carrie, who is the co-founder of Likeable, and I were married in 2006 at Keyspan Park where the Brooklyn Cyclones play. We had our entire wedding sponsored by businesses and were able to raise $100,000. The wedding made headlines and ended up being a hugely successful promotion for the sponsors. We couldn't get married again so instead we started a company. We formed theKbuzz, a word of mouth marketing firm in 2007. In May of 2010, after theKbuzz expanded into social media with the popularity of Facebook, we re-branded to Likeable Media. From there the social media marketing industry has taken off and we have been lucky enough to have worked with some major brands that have helped create rapid growth for Likeable.

How important would you say having a social media presence is for businesses these days?

Social media presence is essential for businesses these days. Traditional marketing such as television commercials and print ads are becoming obsolete with new technology that allows you to skip commercials, and read newspapers online. There is an increasing audience in social media marketing as more and more people join social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media marketing capitalizes on the principal of word of mouth marketing; the earliest and most effective kind of marketing. Through social networks, consumers can make decisions based on recommendations of people they know and trust. Thousands of fans can spread the word about their favourite (and least favourite companies) through Facebook. This has forged the need for companies to be more transparent and responsive. They can best accomplish these two objectives using social media as it is a medium of conversation between brands and consumers. Basically if you’re not tapped into social media, you’re going to fall behind.

What three bits of advice would you give a business that is taking their first steps into the world of social media?

1) Success doesn't come easy and it won’t happen over night. Simply having a Facebook page won't increase your ROI.  You have to drive traffic. Do this not by simply telling people to “Like” your page, but by revealing what’s in it for them.   Offer potential followers incentives to join your social network. As people like your page, more people will take notice and do the same. You have to be active in this process. Don’t expect the presence of your page itself to generate likes.

2) Create a dialogue with consumers using social media. Don't bombard Facebook fans with product promotions, but ask them questions that relate to the product or company. Instead of promoting a new stereo, ask consumers about their favourite songs. Social media isn’t about talking to your customers, it’s about talking with them. Listen to what they have to say because after all, their opinion of you and your products or services is the determinant factor in whether or not your business is profitable.

3) Make sure you have enough manpower to keep up with your presence. It is essential to respond to all comments. Know how big your audience is and how many comments you expect to receive in order to know how many people you need to manage your page. Having a page with thousands of likes won’t increase ROI. It is essential to keep up the conversation with followers, and this means responding - even to the negative comments.

What do you think the future holds for social media?

Social media is the future of marketing as social networks continue to surge in popularity. All potential audiences can be targeted through Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. These networks continue to capitalize on the weakening of traditional advertising. The thing that social media has is longevity as social sites are like virtual journals that document life through photos, videos, and interactions with loved ones. Because of this sentimental factor, it is unlikely that people will cease to use them once they’ve started- quite the opposite actually. In the future, I think we’ll see just more companies using it, which will create competition, which will inevitably bring about some new features in the sites themselves and some new and exciting ways to hook audiences.

What is the coolest fact about Giraffes you know?

They are really tall. And peaceful.

If you want some more of Dave, make sure you check out his book: 'Likeable Social Media' - it is a terrific read and will really help you with your social media journey.

Image source: inc.com

Social Media Expert Interviews: Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodget Header

This week Giraffe had a bit of chit chat with Renee Blodgett, the founder of Magic Sauce Media, a social media, branding, marketing & PR consultancy focused on small businesses from around the world. As one of the first bloggers in the industry, she has been writing for over 15 years and is currently [September 2012] ranked #12 social media influencer by Forbes Magazine. She is also the founder of We Blog the World, an online culture & travel magazine for the discerning traveller and Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings thought leaders, writers and social media experts to emerging markets to cross pollinate ideas.

Renee, tell us a little about what it is you do?

I run a social media, branding, marketing and PR consultancy called Magic Sauce Media, based in San Francisco. I work with companies around the globe on their social media and branding strategies from around the world. I take a very integrated approach to marketing: finessing and fine tuning as things develop and change is always part of the mix for clients. We also do a lot of events, which can range from ideas and execution to strategy and messaging. I’ve been blogging for about 15 years. I write on my personal blog, Down the Avenue, which has been ranked as a top marketing and PR blog by several sources. I also write for Huffington Post, BlogHer and We Blog the World, which I founded in 2008. I am also the Editor and run the site which was recently relaunched as an online culture and travel magazine for the savvy, discerning traveller.

Tell us about the journey you undertook to get you where you are now? Where did you start?!

I started my career in advertising in London many “moons” ago, at a time when Saatchi & Saatchi was at its peak. I moved from above-the-line advertising to direct mail and promotional agencies in London, Amsterdam and Johannesburg. From there and in between, I was into sales for awhile and the art world.

It wasn’t until I returned to the states that I fully dove into PR, initially at a healthcare crisis communications agency in Boston. Technology started to take off and as opportunities opened up in the tech world and retail and consumer marketing was on the decline, I jumped into the enterprise world. I worked at a couple of small boutique agencies and then a large renowned agency where I represented both small and large publicly traded companies in both the B2B and B2C space, including publishing and events. I have always gravitated to events and ended up taking more on in Switzerland when I worked in the telecom space and later in Johannesburg when I returned to South Africa for a second stint in the nineties.

I then went in-house to Dragon Systems, a leading speech recognition player, where I headed up global corporate communications until the company was sold to a competitor. Post Dragon was a pivotal point where I could have taken a few VP offers at a time when I was exploring the start-up scene or heading to a stint at large company like AOL. I started consulting which migrated into starting my own business on the East Coast in Boston until I moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area.

How important would you say having a social media presence is for businesses these days?

If you want to market your product or service in any way shape or form, social media is an essential integral ingredient. It’s the first time we’ve been given a megaphone to tell our story to our customers, partners, prospects and other influencers and can do so with a simple button click.

Bear in mind that social media may be more successful and instrumental for some industries over others. Businesses will need to create the right mix depending on what will best serve their customers and while it appears the whole world is turning digital, having a team tweet about the efforts of a cement company based in South Dakota may not be the best marketing move.

As I mentioned in a recent interview, I attended a business seminar in Las Vegas last year with over 3,000 people and only 30% of the people in the room had primarily online businesses. That said, clearly if you’re not using social media and capitalizing on it, you may just be too behind the curve when more of your customers than not want to engage with you there.

My point about the cement company is we need to not lose sight of our business objectives and where our customers spend most of their time. If social media is the best way to reach them, then by all means, implement a major campaign that integrates social media.

What three bits of advice would you give a business that is taking their first steps into the world of social media?

It’s the same piece of advice I’d give to a company before the world ever heard of the two frequently misunderstood words: social media. Know Thy Customer. In other words, spend time getting to know your customer, where they spend their time, the things they care about and how they like to receive updates and information. Once you have a better understanding of your customer and prospective customers, you can more effectively create a plan that will work.

The other thing that businesses probably don’t realize is just how time consuming it can be to do it right. Often, I hear companies who have an intern or an entry level person handle their social media efforts and complain that “social media” isn’t effective and doesn’t move the needle. Social media is our new megaphone to the outside world so it should be managed by someone who fully understands your brand’s voice and has seasoned experience so they can also handle negative or neutral situations that arise on any of your social media platforms.

What do you think the future holds for social media?

Social media is a way of thinking and looking at the world. While we used to communicate with important influencers and customers at events and send them updates via email, we now have many more ways to reach them. That said, it doesn’t mean other more traditional marketing vehicles don’t still work, such as newsletters for example.

What’s key is integrating social media into the mix in the ‘right’ places where it will be most useful to engage with your customers...and at the right time. Through trial and error, I am learning what times of day to get the most attention from my Pacific and Asian readers for our blog, and what kinds of things get traction on our Pinterest and YouTube pages and what doesn’t. Like everything else, social media is one piece of the marketing puzzle.

I think we’ll increasingly need tools to turn so many of our silo-ed social media apps and solutions into an integrated platform that is easier to manage and scale.

What is the coolest fact about Giraffes you know?

I think it’s great that you have the name giraffe in your business name. I LOVE giraffes. Having lived in Africa twice, I’ve spent hours looking at giraffes in the wild and shooting them on my trusty Canon 7D. I never grow tired of watching two giraffes sway back and forth as their necks overlap with each other as if they’re flirting with the wind. One fact I know that while not be that unknown or original, it is “cool:” giraffes can run up to 35 miles an hour.

Want more Renee? Well you're lucky because she writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, We Blog the World, Huffington Post and BlogHer. Some of her photography can be found on Magic Sauce Photography. If that isn't enough, you can also follow her on Twitter @magicsaucemedia and @weblogtheworld.

Social Media Expert Interviews: Sarah Worsham

sarah worsham social media expert

This week Giraffe have had yet another interview with a top social media mind. This week we were lucky enough to speak with Sarah Worsham.

Sarah is the CEO of Sazbean Consulting - a Michigan based web strategy company. They help companies & organisations grow online by creating digital strategies based on customised analysis and achievement of business goals.

Sarah, tell us a little about what it is you do?

We [Sazbean Consulting] help organizations figure out how to use the web and social media in order to meet their business objectives. Websites, social media, search engines and other types of online marketing tactics can be powerful tools if organizations use them properly. We help them figure out how.

Tell us about the journey you undertook to get you where you are now? Where did you start?!

Well, I started programming on the web in college (where I got a computer engineering degree). After college I worked on large e-commerce sites like Eddie Bauer and 1-800-flowers. Then I went off on my own for awhile creating websites for small businesses. I wanted to get more experience on higher-end technology, so worked at a B2B media company managing all their websites (over 100), as well as their online strategy. Late 2008, I wanted to go back to my own business and also take the opportunity to get my MBA from the University of Michigan, so I left to focus on Sazbean Consulting.

How important would you say having a social media presence is for businesses these days?

This actually depends on the type of business you have, but almost all businesses should at least have a website that's useful to their potential customers, which usually means more than just being a sales brochure. Also, social media can mean a lot of different things, from participating on discussion boards, to contributing to online publications, to more mainstream social media like Facebook and Twitter. What types of social media are important to a particular business will depend on where their potential customers are online. But yes, using various tools, either online or off, to build relationships is key to any organization.

What three bits of advice would you give a business that is taking their first steps into the world of social media?

The most important thing in social media is to really understand the need and wants of your customers. Gone are the days of a cute ad or catchy jingle. Customers want to know what's in it for them, and that goes beyond just advertising to them. The best thing to do when getting started with social media is just to listen. Do some searches, check out industry associations and publications and find out where your customers are online. Then, just listen to what they're saying. You'll find out a lot about what concerns them, what they want and need. And then you can look at ways to fulfill those needs with your products and content. The great thing about social media is that gives you access to information you used to have to pay big bucks for in a market research study. Doing a good job of listening on social media can really impact your business by providing value to your customers in both your products and your content.

What do you think the future holds for social media?

It's not really the future, but mobile is going to continue to affect online marketing. People will be connecting to your online presences and content from a variety of devices, which means serving those devices, as well as the different types of needs people have when using different devices. For example, when you look up a business from your mobile phone, you're probably most interested in the phone number or address (or maybe the menu if it's a restaurant). When you're at your computer, you have a bigger screen, and so are more likely to browse for more in-depth information. How businesses are able to serve different need at different times is going to be a big driver with their use of social media, at least in the near future.

What is the coolest fact about Giraffes you know?

Even with that long neck, Giraffes have the same amount of vertebrae as humans as most other mammals - 7!

You can keep up to date with what Sarah Worsham is up to by following here Twitter here.

Social Networks Explained: Pinterest

Pinterest scrabble letters

Photo sharing network Pinterest originally began development in 2009. Co-founded by Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp and Ben Silberman, the network was designed with the concept of a platform where users can upload, sort and share images.

Pinterest is a site where users can upload and share photos. It provides a place where users can group images into something meaningful, experiment with ideas, brainstorm, or simply a seek and share inspiration. The Pinterest platform allows users to organize collections of images categorically in specific themed boards – in easy to search categories from Art, DIY and Home Décor to Tattoos and Technology.

Features

Pinterest's aim is to connect users on a global scale with common interests. Therefore, one of it's primary features is enabling users to ‘re-pin’ images to their own boards or ‘like’ images. With standout features like the ‘Pin It’ bookmarking button, Pinterest allows users to take media content from other websites to create moodboards with images taken from various sources for a fully collaborative user experience.

Why is it good for businesses?

With the digital marketing gaining a general preference to visual communication over text-based communications, advertising has found a focus on visual communication through the Internet. Early adopters of Pinterest who experienced the value and addictive nature of the site include handfuls of creatives and designers. It appears that businesses have also latched onto the platform as an alternative for increasing visibility and exposure in the digital world - not just through tweets and statuses but by telling the brands story through the use of imagery. In that vein, brands have capitalized on this idea and have been generating visually rich content to drive consumers interest since there is a large scope for branded content to go viral.

What do we think?

Pinterest is a relative newcomer that has rightfully exploded in popularity and with enormous growth has landed itself as one of the leading ranks in the social networking scene. Key to its success is its simplicity to naturally curate content through pinning and repining and its super clean and minimal interface, which has earned brownie points in our book! All in all, it seems that Pinterest is a great platform to showcase content and engage with consumers on a visual level whilst having the opportunity to enhance brand image and drive traffic towards your business.

What is your verdict? Does it Pinterest you?

- Lisa Van (@lisadrivesavan), Social Media Content Assistant

Social Media Expert Interviews: David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott Interview

This week Giraffe caught up with David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist, professional speaker and best-selling author of eight books. His book 'The New Rules of Marketing & PR' has over 250,00 copies in print and can be found in over 25 different languages.  We've read it, and it's awesome - a must read for anyone interested in marketing in the modern day.

David, tell us a little about what it is you do?

I'm a marketing strategist, advisor to emerging companies, best-selling author of eight books including three international best-sellers, and a professional speaker on topics including marketing, leadership, and social media.

I'm best known for The New Rules of Marketing & PR which opened people’s eyes to the new realities of marketing and public relations on the Web when it was first published in 2007. Six months on the BusinessWeek best-seller list and published in 26 languages from Bulgarian to Vietnamese, New Rules, now in its third edition, is a modern business classic. My popular blog and hundreds of speaking engagements around the world give me a singular perspective on how businesses are implementing new strategies to reach buyers.

I particularly enjoy speaking gigs outside the US. I was in Zurich last week, Belize the week before and later this month I am in Dubai. I've presented in 33 countries on five continents.

Tell us about the journey you undertook to get you where you are now? Where did you start?!

At the height of the dot-com boom, I was vice president of marketing at NewsEdge Corporation, a NASDAQ-traded online news distributor with $70 million in revenue. My multi-million dollar marketing budget included tens of thousands of dollars a month for a public relations agency, hundreds of thousands a year for print advertising and glossy collateral materials, and expensive participation at a dozen trade shows a year. My team put these things on our marketing to-do list, worked like hell to execute, and paid the big bucks because, well, that’s what one did as marketing and PR people. These efforts made us feel good because we were doing something but the programs were not producing significant, measurable results.

At the same time, drawing on publishing experience I had gained in my prior position as Asia marketing director for the online division of Knight-Ridder, at the time one of the largest newspaper companies in the world, I quietly created content-rich marketing and PR programs on the Web.

Against the advice of the PR agency professionals we had on retainer (who insisted that news releases were only for journalists), we wrote and sent dozens of releases ourselves. Each time we sent a release, it appeared on dozens of online services such as Yahoo!, resulting in hundreds of sales leads.

Even though our advertising agency told us not to put the valuable information “somewhere where competitors could steal it,” we created a monthly online newsletter called TheEdge, with articles about the exploding world of digital news. We made it freely available on the home page of our Web site because it generated interest from qualified buyers.

Way back in the 1990s when Web marketing and PR was in its infancy, I ignored the old rules, drawing instead on my experience working at publishing companies, and created thought leadership strategies to reach buyers directly on the Web.

Guess what? The home-grown, do-it-yourself programs we created at virtually no cost consistently generated more interest from qualified buyers than the big bucks programs that the “professionals” were running for us—and resulted in millions of dollars in sales. People we never heard of were finding us through search engines.

Wow. I had stumbled on a better way to reach buyers!

In 2002, after NewsEdge was sold to The Thomson Corporation, I was fired. My ideas were a little too radical for my new bosses. So I started my own business to refine my ideas, work with select clients, and teach others through writing, speaking at conferences, and conducting seminars for corporate groups. The subject of all this work: Reaching your buyers directly and driving more revenue.

Since then, many new forms of social media have burst onto the scene, including blogs, podcasts, video, virtual communities. and Twitter. But what’s the same about all the new Web tools and techniques is that together they are the best way to communicate directly with your marketplace.

How important would you say having a social media presence is for businesses these days?

Well, I think we talk too much about "social media" because it is a hot term. What I think has changed is that we can now communicate to our marketplace in real time. Social media are just the tools. Real time is a mindset.

In order to scale social, I recommend that we not using the word "social" at all and instead substitute "real-time". When I talk to the same executives about "real-time communications with customers" they lean forward and want to know more. These are the same people who dismiss Twitter.

I tell executives that an immensely powerful competitive advantage flows to organizations with people who understand the power of real-time information. What are people doing on your site right now? Has someone just praised you on Facebook? Panned you on Twitter? Published a how-to video about your product on YouTube?

Executives understand real-time and are eager to implement the ideas.

What three bits of advice would you give a business that is taking their first steps into the world of social media?

Many marketers steeped in the tradition of product advertising naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services.  But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services (except you). Yes, you read that right.

What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking on the Web, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.

Most online marketing is nothing more than an alternative channel for the PR department or product marketers to spew their “messages” and “product vision.” Yuck. To paraphrase Yoda from Star Wars, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” It is so difficult for people to get out of the marketing habits they've developed over the years.

1) You must unlearn the use of gobbledygook (world-class, cutting-edge, mission-critical, innovation and all those sorts of overused words and phrases) about your products and services. Instead start from the problems and needs of your buyer personas.

2) You must unlearn spin. Instead, understand that people crave authenticity and transparency.

3) You must unlearn interrupting people with "messages." Instead, publish online content they want to consume.

What do you think the future holds for social media?

Real-time communications are the most important development in communications since the invention of the printing press.

The conventional business approach favours a campaign (note the war metaphor) that requires people to spend weeks or months planning to hit targets. Agencies must be consulted. Messaging strategies must be developed. Advertising space/time must be bought. Conference rooms and refreshments must be prepared for press conferences. Do you serve them sushi or sandwiches?

The real-time mind-set recognizes the importance of speed. It is an attitude to business (and to life) that emphasizes moving quickly when the time is right. Developing a real-time mind-set is not an either/or proposition. I'm not saying you should abandon your current business-planning process. Nor do I advocate allowing your team to run off barking at every car that drives by. Focus and collaboration are essential.

What is the coolest fact about Giraffes you know?

Their young stand up very quickly upon being born unlike humans that take about a year.

David is available to book for speaking and has several books that you can get your hands; and we suggest you do - because alongside having a no-nonsense outlook on responding to questions about Giraffes - he is also a real expert in this field. 

Social Networks Explained: Foursquare

Copy of WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA ALL ABOUT- (1)

Founded in 2009 by Dennis Crowley & Naveen Selvadurai, Foursquare is a web and mobile app that allows users to post their location at a venue - a "check-in" - and connect with friends.

As a "search and discovery" app, Foursquare users are encouraged to be hyper-local and hyper-specific with their check-ins; you can check into a certain floor or area of a building or mention a specific activity while at a venue. Users can link their check-ins to their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Foursquare facts:

  • Co-Founders: Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai
  • First launched: 2009
  • Employees: Over 100 between headquarters in New York, an office in San Francisco and an outpost in London
  • Community: Over 20 million people worldwide
  • Over 2.5 billion check-ins with millions more every day
  • Businesses: Nearly a million using the Merchant Platform

There are many aspects to Foursquare, so to give you the best description we have broken it down into separate areas...

Mayorship

If a user has checked-in to a venue on more days than anyone else in the past 60 days they will be crowned mayor. Someone else can earn the title by checking in more times than the previous mayor. It’s harder to be crowned mayor in busy places. Even after you've been crowned "Mayor," you must continuously check in to maintain your title.

Badges

Badges are earned by checking into venues. Once a badge is earned by a user, it will remain on that user's profile indefinitely.

* Fun Foursquare Fact: On October 22, 2010, astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock unlocked the NASA Explorer badge by checking into Foursquare from the International Space Station.

Scoring

Each time a user checks into a place, they get points:

  • Checking into a new place – 3 points
  • Becoming the Mayor of a venue – 5 points
  • Adding a new venue – 5 points
  • Being the first of the user's friends to check into a new location – 3 points
  • Checking in to a place the user has been before – 1 point
  • Location multiplier for each place a user goes in a day – 1 point per location
  • Checking in with the same friend at multiple locations – BFF bonus

Superuser status

The service provides three levels of Superuser status. Superuser status is awarded to users who have been selected by foursquare staff for their helpful contributions to the community.

Brands

Foursquare Brands allows companies to create pages of tips and allows users to follow the company and receive special, expert tips from them when they check-in at certain locations. Some of the companies even allow users to unlock special badges with enough check-ins.

Specials

Specials are an incentive for foursquare users to check-in at a new spot or revisit a favourite one. Specials are offered by over 750,000 businesses, users can get discounts and freebies when they check-in. Foursquare specials are intended for businesses to use to persuade new and regular customers to visit their venue.

Although not as popular as other social networks, Foursquare is interesting and could prove fun for you - check it out here!

Social Media Expert Interviews: Jason Falls

Social Media Expert Interview Jason Falls

Giraffe have a bit of chit chat with Jason Falls, one of the most in-demand public speakers on the subject of Social Media. His company Social Media Explorer is widely regarded as one of the best social media marketing companies in America.  On top of all this, Jason is one of the industries nice guys, and was all too happy to speak with us about his passion, social media.

Jason, tell us a little about what it is you do?

I am responsible for Social Media Explorer, which has both a full-service digital agency under its umbrella, but also an information products division. My partner, Nichole Kelly, runs our agency division and brings me in where I'm most helpful -- strategy and new business development -- while I run our information products. Those include our conference series called Explore, a market research product and a learning community and small business resource.

Tell us about the journey you undertook to get you to where you are now? Where did you start?!

Life is a journey, not a destination. I think Aerosmith said that first. I started as a sports journalist, became a sports public relations professional, then a mainstream public relations professional, then started asking why we weren't talking to clients about social media. The rest is history. It's been a wild, fast and fun ride to be in the middle of this social media explosion. I just jumped on the wave and am holding on to the surfboard for dear life, I guess.

My start in social media dates back to 1997 and a newspaper column I also self-published online. I would ask the audience to email questions and comments, republish them online the next week and respond. So I was blogging, just in a very unsophisticated manner. Over the years, I continued to publish my writings online in hopes of building an audience for my weird sense of humour. All that trying led to me knowing a bit about how to navigate online communities to build audiences, consensus and the like. When I figured out that I could advise companies on how to use the channels, life changed dramatically.

How important would you say having a social media presence is for businesses these days?

I'm not one that says every business is required to have one. If you're a small lawn care company and the best way to get new clients is to go cut someone's grass in a new neighbourhood because three other families will see you and think, "I'd love for someone else to tend to my lawn," then you don't need social media. Maybe if you scaled to a large operation you would, but some businesses just have more efficient marketing channels. Still, it's going to be important for most businesses because it's how customers communicate with businesses these days. If you're not online and don't have a social presence, or are at least listening to social conversations about you or your brand, you're eventually going to lose.

What three bits of advice would you give a business that is taking their first steps into the world of social media?

Wow. Great question! The first would be to ensure that you're listening to your customers online. Respond to them as often as you can. It will build great karma round your brand if you do. The second piece of advice would be to measure everything you do and adjust accordingly. If you're not connecting your time and attention in social media to bottom line metrics of sales (units), revenues and costs, you're eventually not going to be happy with how unhappy your boss is. Measure to your business, not what the social media-rati say is important. Facebook Likes won't pay your lease or make your payroll. Finally, I'd say to not be afraid. If your worst enemy pounds you on Twitter or Facebook each day, talking about how awful your company is, within a few hours, everyone who is seeing this person will likely think, "What an asshole. I hope that company starts ignoring him/her." It's never as bad as you think it is.

What do you think the future holds for social media?

I hope the future holds that every business will become skilled at using it. There's far too much copy-cat behaviour and me-too-ism floating around there right now. I'd hope more and more businesses are getting smart about social media marketing rather than just going through the motions.

What is the coolest fact about Giraffes you know?

That they sleep standing up? I guess. I couldn't give a crap about giraffes, so I'm not the right person to ask. Granted, if I had a giraffe, I would care. But I'm fairly certain there are laws that prohibit such ownership in Louisville, Ky., so I just don't care much about them. Our local Zoo has a baby giraffe, though. That I know.

Jason has a book out which is a 'take no prisoners' style book about social media, and a must read for anyone interested in the subject.

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