Tagged: business

5 Tips When Using Twitter for Business

TwitterforBizAs we have seen many times, using Twitter for your business can be a very useful tool or a headache waiting to happen. But rather than focusing on all the ways Twitter can sink your ship, I’d like to discuss 5 Twitter strategies you can begin using right now to increase your ROIoT (Return On Investment of Time).

1. Recalibrate your expectations

If you run a B2B company and you’re launching a new social media initiative in hopes of attracting 10,000 new followers during your two-week campaign, you’re most likely in for a world of disappointment. Simply put…it jus’ don’t work that way. Sure, Cinderella stories of a company’s Tweets going viral and skyrocketing their business do exist, but they are extremely rare and almost impossible to contrive. I once heard Twitter described as farming, rather than hunting. I thought this analogy was simple and perfect. Building a following is a slow process that takes time and effort. So whether you’re thinking about signing up or have been Tweeting for a while, make sure your expectations are reasonable.

2. Loosen up

Are you a stuffy person? Does your business have personality? If you had no bias regarding your own products or services, would you find them intriguing or interesting? These are all questions you should think about when developing your Twitter strategy. Successful businesses on Twitter provide value to their users. This can be in the form of sharing compelling news or information, contributing humor, or providing insights into products customers care about. If your business doesn’t have broad consumer appeal and you get too wrapped up in coming across as unprofessional, you might not find a lot of success on Twitter. It’s important to give your business personality or if you’re the CEO, you can even Tweet as yourself on behalf of your business. And when developing your voice, make sure you don’t come across as stuffy. If LinkedIn is your white, starched shirt, Twitter should be your Hawaiian party shirt.

3. Be a giver, not a taker

If the main objective of your Twitter strategy is to generate sales, chances are you won’t be successful. Twitter works best when your main objective is to provide interesting content or perspective, rather than market to a wide audience of potential customers. Generally, we follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your Tweets should be adding to the general “conversation” and 20% can be about your own products or services. But be careful to never get too salesy. Twitter users will spot rampant self-promotion from a mile away and will unfollow you so fast, it’ll make your head spin. And the truly egregious offenders stand to suffer a fate much worse: being torn to shreds in the Twittersphere by a mob of unimpressed and annoyed users. My condolences, your Twitter presence was just destroyed by a pack of angry micro-bloggers.

4. Use hashtags and create conversations

What’s more accurate, a sniper rifle or a shotgun? Now, without getting into semantics or a gun control debate, let me make my point: spraying scattered bits of information into an extremely large area is not a very effective way to hit your target. When using Twitter, your goal should be to create meaningful interactions with other users. Even if you have good information to share, it’s not enough to type out a 140-character factoid and hit “Tweet.” Use hashtags to help collate your input into relevant conversations and use @replies and mentions to begin a dialogue with specific users. This is a much more precise way to use Twitter and will greatly increase your chances of being retweeted or getting a response from someone and, ultimately, starting a meaningful interaction.

5. Have fun

At the end of the day, Twitter is a pretty fascinating place where a lot of very interesting/funny/exciting/uncomfortable/memorable conversations take place. Have a secret obsession with Kim Kardashian? Follow her. Geek out over anything “NASA?” Follow them and let your nerd flag fly. Make your Twitter presence sustainable by not only following people affiliated with your business or industry, but by keeping tabs on the things that you find fun and that help give your business personality. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal (but not this personal) and to show your followers insights into your business that they can’t get anywhere else. Be yourself (Unless you’re stuffy. In that case, see tip #2) and have fun with this component of your business outreach. There’s definitely a lot to be had.

Have any Twitter tips that have proven useful for you or your business? Share them with me! And if you are interested in a more personal assessment of your Twitter strategy, please contact me at tyler@sumseattle.com.

 

Facebook Graph Search – People Who Like Cantaloupe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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Facebook has always been a controversial company. Love it or hate it, chances are you have a profile of your own. The social giant has allowed us to reconnect with old friends, communicate more freely than ever before, and even keep tabs on our exes…if you are so inclined. The point is, Facebook means many different things to many different people – which is why no matter how many times Zuckerberg dangles his toe over the privacy line, his site still manages to add users faster than Honey Boo Boo goes through butter (my apologies in advance).

Joking aside, the Facebook privacy concerns have led users to wonder if Facebook is “out to get them”. The answer is: Maybe…but there’s no consensus. And Facebook’s latest site feature, Graph Search, follows that same pattern. Some consider it to be a boon for users and companies, while others think Graph Search represents the biggest privacy breech yet. I do not have an opinion either way and I’m going to reserve my judgement until I see how it affects both my personal and professional use of the site. Until then, I thought I’d break down some of the things we do know about the new feature and lend some perspective on how I believe it will affect businesses operating on Facebook.

So what is Graph Search? Simply put, it’s a more robust way to search and use Facebook. You can type full phrases into the search bar with multiple search parameters and Facebook pulls out the relevant information and returns more accurate and salient results. This marks a significant departure from the Facebook search functionality we’re used to. Instead of segmenting searches by People, Pages, Groups, Apps, etc., Graph Search allows you to combine search criteria to very specifically target the information you’re looking for.

Below are some screenshots from the Graph Search introduction page on Facebook. They lay out a few examples of possible searches.

Say you’re into cycling and want to connect with others that share that interest…

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You can further refine your search by location…

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You can also search for more obscure things, like photos that were taken in a specific year…

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Or look for TV shows, movies, or music that your friends like…

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And you can also look for restaurants or other businesses that your friends have been to, even in a specific location…

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The demonstration is impressive. Graph Search combines the customization of Google with the personal element of Facebook. And the flexibility allowed by the search parameters is exciting. The experience reminds me of Apple’s Siri feature. You speak to Siri as you would to a personal assistant (perhaps a little less politely) and she picks out the important information and commands. It is a more human way of interfacing with technology and it somehow makes the whole experience more comfortable. If Graph Search works as well as advertised, the result could be a revolutionary way to search the web and could have Google, Yelp, and others shaking in their boots.

But what does all of this mean for businesses? My guess is, businesses are salivating at the thought of Graph Search going live. With more users turning to Facebook to meet their web-search needs, the opportunity for your business page to be seen increases significantly. While demoing Graph Search, Zuckerberg encouraged businesses to continue adding interesting and updated content to their business pages. The richer and more accurate the content, the better his new search feature will perform. And if Graph Search is successful, Facebook will be able to command a higher price for ad space and, eventually, sponsored Graph Search results – a business model very similar to Google, the largest online advertiser in the world.

So who is the winner in all of this? Well, Facebook seems to think it’s everyone. Users get a better, more personalized way to search for information, businesses will have more people driven to their fan pages (based on searches by friends of fans that “like” the business’ page), and Facebook stands to make a ton of money in ad revenue. Believe it or not, if everything goes according to plan, I can see how all parties could benefit. The trick – as it usually is with Facebook – is to make sure that Graph Search minds its manners when it comes to privacy and doesn’t do anything to land on the scrapheap, next to Beacon.

Graph Search is still in Beta, but you can join the waiting list here. What do you think about Facebook’s new search feature? Is the idea tantalizing or alarming? As always, let me know in the comments section below!

2013…The Year of Change

Today we’re going to do something a little different. We will be covering a topic that is a slight departure from our normal content, but one that is very important to us as a company – the topic of social responsibility in business. Our own Buddy Waddington recently traveled abroad to participate in the world’s most socially-minded leadership conference and he prepared a post about his experience and how he feels this business movement will affect the marketing and startup worlds.

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Buddy&Yunus

Buddy with Nobel Laureate, Muhammad Yunus

This fall I had the great honor of being selected as a Young Challenger at this year’s Global Social Business Summit. This is the leading forum for social business, worldwide, and brings together experts from corporations, civil society, governments, and academia. The day prior to the summit, selected Young Challengers – youth under 25 from around the world – meet to discuss the concept of social business. They then attend the main summit, armed with questions and perspectives aimed at challenging the political and corporate leaders in attendance, regarding their vision for the future. This year, the event was held in Vienna, Austria. And it was amazing.

One of the reasons it was so amazing was that it made me realize that things are changing for branding, marketing, and for startups. And I have spent a lot of time in the new year pondering this global change.

Social business is a growing concept, where basic for-profit business principles are used to solve social problems. You can imagine that the businesses and individuals present were not lacking in innovation or motivation. In talking with these socially-minded individuals from all over the world, I realized that things are changing for startups and branding because all attendees – entrepreneurs, government officials, corporate executives, and more – see the value and potential of making social impact and responsibility a core principle within business. And the emphasis on social purpose wasn’t to support a CSR initiative or to “shut the hippies up”, as the villain from the first Ironman movie would say, it was to fundamentally define the value of a business.

If you took ECON 101, you may recall that business SHOULD be fundamentally responsible and sustainable and based on a principle called a comparative advantage, wherein a successful business or partnership raises the value and, therefore, standard of life for all stakeholders involved. And these stakeholders include more than just the investor and the customer – additionally, the environment, all of the employees, and every community within the supply chain. When discussing business in its purest form, one should consider all of these entities when evaluating the true sustainability and overall value of a company.

In recent months, thinking about these fundamentals of business have helped reform my opinion of what business can and should be, especially in the startup space. Due to the recent recession and the post-internet bubble in which we live, startups are required to show true, fundamental value to their stakeholders. This has evolved from showing revenue potential to showing actual revenue flow and my recent experience makes me think that this trend will continue. In order to be successful, startups will require a real sustainable strategy and one that makes considerations for every stakeholder – customers, investors, employees, and the surrounding environment.

And I’m not the only one thinking about this. Edelman recently released their “2012 goodpurpose Study”, where they shed light upon this change. For 5 years, the PR giant has researched consumer attitudes around social purpose, including commitment to specific issues as well as their expectations of brands and corporations. This massive study confirms that “brands and companies today cannot just be responsive, they must be responsible.” They propose that purpose is a new paradigm – a possible fifth “P” of marketing.

Simply put, a company that is responsible will ultimately produce the best value. And consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs, alike, are starting to understand that. “Business as usual” is changing, which means so is branding, marketing, and the startup space.

Learn more about what my experience at GSBS 2012 was all about on my guest post for the Foster School of Business Blog.