Have you ever been down to the wire on a deadline and taken issue when your beg for help is answered with "I am too busy to help you out right now"? Be honest, have you ever uttered those same words yourself when someone asked you to do something?
Do you ever try to get out of work at a reasonable time to enjoy dinner with your family and take care of the important items in your personal life, and then log on and finish work that night?
Have you ever asked yourself the following questions. Given the reality that I often need to find a way to get things done to meet deadlines, how busy I am, and how often I need to burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines, how the heck do these people who are involved in social media have so much time to spend on this 'whole social networking thing" and still have a life? Is that all they do all day?
It is natural to think that way. I talk about it with friends and peers of mine all the time. There are some social gurus like Chris Brogan who many of us think are superhuman.
In my role as VP of Social Media for commonground, having a social presence is very important. However, delivering upon my vital factors is always the priority over maintaining or building on my social presence. For example, last night I spent 5 minutes on Twitter between projects. I spent the other three hours working on many of the same things we all work on - PowerPoint presentation for my CEO, email, moving a couple of projects closer to the finish line, etc..
Most of our members do not have social media in their job descriptions - you are environmental consultants, lawyers, and lenders - professionals involved in environmental and property due diligence. Just how important is it that you are leveraging all the bells and whistles of social media? It is not so important in the grand scheme of things. However, I would also argue that the use of the appropriate social networking methodologies and approaches will nicely compliment what you are trying to achieve - professionally and personally. However, you should not stress out because your Twitter grade is not high enough.
So, given that we all have hectic schedules, here is my simple guide on how to methodically find time to work on your personal and company social presence.
1) Block a half hour on your calendar each day during a time that is best for your schedule to work on "social networking stuff".
2) Pick one thing you want to accomplish each week and focus on it. Start a blog on WordPress. Set up a Twitter account. Set up a LinkedIn account.
3) If your workload for a particular day REALLY is overwhelming or you have a hard deadline, then skip the half hour that day. The sky will not fall down if you wait until tomorrow.
4) When you have downtime - sitting on a plane, the couch at night, or even on the bike at the gym, read up on it, write blog posts, send tweets, etc. (obviously what you can do will depend on whether you have or don't have internet acces. You would be amazed how how many blogs you can write and bank on those long, boring flights).
5) Monitor the activity and results of your effort to figure out what is working best and what you should focus on moving forward.
I like to use the social networking is like the gym analogy. If you go to the gym every single day, you typically will see great results. If you go to the gym a few times a week, you will still be much healthier and better off than if you do not go at all. The same rules hold true for dedicating time to your social strategy.
Given that the commercial real estate market has slowed significantly, now is the perfect time to start at the pace that works for you. Who knows, you might find your brand, and your company's, looks a lot more vibrant and healthier in a very short period of time.
Nothing more entertaining on a rainy day here in New England than more talk about search engine optimization!!
Have you ever made a “cold call” to try to drum up some business? Have you ever gone a full day making calls and getting nothing but voicemails? Have you ever heard your sales team complain about the lack of qualified inbound leads? For those of you who have said no, please reply to this blog and let us know what you are doing as we would love to learn from you.
Cold calls, unsolicited office visits, and traditional marketing methodologies still do have a very important place in sales and marketing. However, “buyer self service” cannot be ignored if you want to be successful in today’s business environment. The fact is we as buyers love to consume information, but on our own terms. We buy things, at home and at work, because after searching for and scrutinizing peer reviews, ratings, and supporting articles online, we determined that the product features look like they meet our requirements. Many of us will then take our online research one step further and talk to someone in our social circle or perhaps even be a random person, to get their candid feedback. As I mentioned in my “How Much Influence Does Google Have” blog a few weeks back, Forrester Research indicated that 83% of online consumers trust the opinion of friend or acquaintance who has used a product or service.
Often times, we have done all the above without a conversation with a sales person which could be viewed as both good and bad. It is good in that once we make it to speaking to a salesperson, the buying cycle is considerably reduced as we are educated. That ensures your sales people are working to close qualified opportunities. The bad is that if we do not find what we want or expect online, we won’t ever connect with the sales person or the company. This creates new challenges for companies of all sizes.
The key today for a company to influence a buying decision is the ability to have the right information about our products and services accessible and found easily online. I would recommend that each of you visit Hubspot.com. They offer a report called Website Grader that will help you find out how well you are doing from a search engine optimization standpoint including what you are doing well and what you should improve. I met with them last week at the New Media Marketing Summit in Boston and I found it was extremely valuable. They also offer services to help you to improve your SEO effectiveness.
If you focus on SEO to compliment your traditional marketing strategies, I am willing to bet you will find you have more educated prospects, less cold calling to do, and a higher prospect to sale conversion ratio.
Remember, start with the basics. Oh, and for those of you who have tight budgets, the basics I have described in my three blogs on SEO require no investment (FREE). They just require making time.
It seems like everyone always does a "predictions" blog or article around this time of the year. Since I must have read 50 or more of these types of posts and articles focused on technology predictions during the holiday break, I thought I would share what I feel are the hotter social media and technology related trends that might be of interest to the environmental professional members of commonground.
So here are my five in no particular order. Please note that there is no scientific methodology applied to this list - just one opinionated guys viewpoint...
- Social media, like everything else, will have its challenges over the next year. However, the companies that survive will emerge stronger than ever in 2010. Some of the bigger challenges will include all the naysayers publishing controversial articles and blogs titled "SOMETHING SOCIAL MEDIA RELATED.....is Dead" for their own business benefit and exposure, risk that new viruses will be generated from social networking sites, success in monetizing social networks will be limited at best, and VC money or the lack thereof will result in significant market consolidation.
- Mobile technology will be hotter than ever in 2009. New phones, applications, and improvements are causing people like me to burn through phones and develop relationships with the sales people at our local AT&T store. Expect that trend to continue and expect a bunch of new cool social media applications including the ability to leverage your community membership of choice easily and intuitively via your phone.
- The ability for a company to maximize its search engine optimization (SEO) will be one of the primary drivers in helping companies hit their goals in 2009, 2010, and beyond. There have been a few varying opinions on this lately, but don't believe the negative press. Just look at the facts. As of June 30, 2008, the World population as reported on the World Internet Usage Statistics web site was 6,676,120,288 and 1,463,632,361 or roughly 22% of the population uses the web. That means a huge market has not been penetrated yet and like the 73.6% of the US market that has been penetrated, they too will learn to "search" or "google" everything.
- Twitter popularity will continue to go through the roof, but look for some rough seas ahead for them in the press once they try to make some money and struggle like Facebook has.
- SaaS technology adoption will continue to grow rapidly at larger enterprises and not just small/mid size companies. Lower cost, flexible, and secure, open source providers are making it easier for IT buyers and budget conscious companies to say yes to innovation.
Please feel free to add any that you think should be on the list and/or share other articles you found interesting.
Happy first full week of 2009.
I had a voicemail from a friend of mine this past weekend who I have developed a business relationship with over the course of the past couple of years. The topic of the voicemail was about social media - I suppose many of you reading this are not at all shocked that we think about social media on the weekends too. The nature of the voicemail, although seemingly simple, is always one of the most complex social media and community dilemmas.
Here we go. Most entrepreneurs that build a community have a clear and concise vision. That vision is driven by a belief, passion, and knowledge. Homework has been done. And, they are confident they can be successful because they are positioned well to fill a need instead of creating one.
Then as they go through the process of building their business, they get a lot of terrific feedback from a number of brilliant, successful people from a number of backgrounds. And, all of a sudden....things become very complex. The vast majority of the feedback is very good. It seems logical and really gets the wheels spinning. Believe me....
Then the questions start coming. Who's opinion is right? Should I stay the course? Should I change? Should I go after the prize? Should I start small? Maybe we should diversify our focus? Should we put all or eggs in one basket? Do we have time to do all these great ideas? How quickly can we get there? Who's right? Who's wrong? I could go on......
Welcome to the social media dilemma - whether you are starting a company or work for a large company embarking on the social media process. If you are in either role, you are definitely an entrepreneur and likely understand a lot more of what it takes to realize your dream than most others. Therefore, remember that you need to fight the urge and pressure to do too many things at once. That does not mean ignore the feedback of others as being able to adapt is always important, but what it does mean is that you need to limit distractions. And, trying to do 10 things well will mean 10 times the number of distractions.
So, do your homework, define your goals and objectives, and adapt appropriately to execute. Take the advice of someone who has made a lot more money than I have (so far) on how to be successful.
My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.
The blogosphere is a scary place – kind of like a haunted house where there are ghosts, goblins, vampires, etc.. At least, it sounds that way when you talk about it with people who still do not understand what a blog is or why on earth anyone would read one. Yes, these people do still exist and although the percentage of the population is getting smaller, I know plenty of them.
A new eMarketer study indicates, that by 2012:
· more than 145 million people – or 67% of the US internet population, will be reading blogs at least once per month.
· Blog advertising will reach $746 million up from $283M in 2007
· 16% of internet users will have created a blog
I personally believe that 67% number sounds low. Google anything and it seems like a blog comes up in the search results. How many times do you Google something a month? I would guess that I use it a minimum of 10 times/ day or 300 times/month. I suspect many people, some of the same ones I know above, are reading blogs all the time and have no clue that they are.
As I wrote about in Blah, Blah, Blah….Sorry, I Meant Blogs!, a blog like the one you are reading now, is just one method of sharing content within a community. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing revenue predictions, especially in the business to business space, around the other core “social” technologies.
I recall watching a Forrester web event earlier this year on the topic of Facebook. One of the statistics really grabbed my attention - 83% of online consumers trust the opinion of a friend or acquaintance who has used a product or service and only 30% trust the review of a blogger. To me, it seems like the revenue potential is enormous.
If any of you are aware of any that currently exist, I encourage you to feel free to respond and share them.
How many of you work for a company that has been around for more than five years? During that five years, has your business evolved? Do you do business online? Do you or your company have a blog? Do you use twitter? Do you own a cell phone?
I suspect many of you have answered yes to most if not all of these questions. When is the last time you thought about or updated the information you include on your business cards? My guess is the real answer is when whoever it was who is no longer with the company created the template.
It is ok - you can admit it, you are not alone.
A few weeks ago I encouraged you not to discount your autosignatures. This week I encourage you not to discount the value of your business card. The standard information is fine - we all know what that is, but there is valuable information you can add to improve the presentation of your credentials.
1) Link to your blog
2) Your twitter address
3) Link to a your social networking profile
4) Your cell phone
So, since I have been speculating throughout this blog post, I am guessing you are saying to yourself - Why bother? Anyone I give my card to will be able to get in touch with me - right? Perhaps, but think about when you give out cards. You are usually at a meeting where you have met someome new, at a trade show, a networking event, etc.. Chances are that many of the people you are handing them to do not know you all that well. And, the easier you make it for these folks to find and research your credentials, the higher likelihood you will convert them from suspects to prospects.
The next generation of property due diligence professionals and our future customers are from the web generation. These millenials have had access to technology from the moment they were born. They leverage social media, they are influenced by trends, and they do the majority of their personal and professional business online. Do you think they want to do business with someone they perceive as like them or someone who is not? This time, I will leave it to you to speculate.
The next time you need to order cards, remember they have two sides. Use them both.
On Super Bowl Sunday, I am about as excited as my kids are on Halloween.
One reason is because it is fully understood that I am going to watch at least 90% of a football game no matter who is playing. The second is, I love to watch all the commercials. I am completely entrigued to know if the company who spent $3M for a 30 second slot during the game got a quantifiable return on investment.
This year, user generated advertising made a huge leap. The Doritos ad, which was created by a couple of unemployed brothers as part of a contest by Frito Lay, was recognized as the top commercial during Super Bowl by the USA Today. It is a significant achievement as the ad was not created by some boutique ad agency in downtown New York City, it was created for next to nothing by Doritos customers. By creating a contest, Frito Lay was able to leverage the collective creativity of the masses to create a commercial versus relying on just the top creative folks that out there working on many campaigns at once.
Imagine what some of these top creative thinkers were thinking today about being beat out on the worlds biggest stage by a few amateurs? I can only imagine.
As we in the environmental and property due diligence market think about how to stretch our limited budgets, there are a few very basic social lessons that can be learned here.
1) Even in a down economy, people like, sorry, I mean love to laugh
2) Youtube and other social sites make it very valuable and easy to leverage the masses to create and share content
3) You might be pleasantly surprised how many of your customers might be willing to participate in campaigns on your behalf if you ask and they might create something beyond your wildest expectations.
You might not have 100M viewers seeing your ads during the big game, but I suspect visitors to your web site who see real content about your services from real customers who are happy with your services wiill be influenced in a very positive way. And those customers can often communicate your message in more creative and effective ways than some of the biggest ad agencies money can buy.
Are you leveraging user generated content? Would love to hear how you are. I look forward to reading your comments while I munch on a bag of Doritos.
If I had a dollar for every time that someone said to me during the past seven years “I just do not really understand this whole community thing”, I think I could put a sizeable deposit on a new beachfront mansion.
In my previous life, I was part of the management team that built a social media company called Shared Insights (now Mzinga). When we talked to executives at the F1000 or small companies about community, we often needed to explain what a community was in very basic terms. Conversations usually began with examples of mainstream face to face communities : country clubs, church groups, alumni networks, etc.. Undoubtedly, someone would ask “Is a community the same thing as a blog”? We would answer no, but make it clear that a blog is one of the core community technologies that company members, board members, and experts, can easily leverage to start an online conversation by simply sharing a viewpoint. And, I often referred to blogs as blah, blah, blah…
Those who know me know that I have always had my bias about blogs because I prefer synchronous (two way) communication vs. asynchronous (one way) communication when I interact online or in person. However, the blog metrics referenced in the “Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere” article in the August 25, 2008 issue of the Washington Post, have raised my eyebrows.
1) Technorati reports that there are approximately 112.5 million blogs on the web and 5,000 are now corporate
3) Dolcezza, a small Georgetown gelato shop, used its blog to promote the grand opening of his second store - over 1,000 customers showed up that day.
There are many people like me that need to find proof in the pudding. And, I feel I have.
These metrics, and others, have inspired me to begin blah, blah, blahing again. Sorry, old habits are hard to break – I meant blogging again!
For many years now, I have talked with leadership teams at top organizations about their “social networking” fears. One concern that continuously comes up is this belief that online “social networks” and “communities” will replace human interaction.
So, I would like to set the record straight. This could not be further from the actual truth – although some great marketers and creative agencies get paid well to craft campaigns to create the fear that might happen.
The online channel is simply the third leg of the “How people interact” stool joining face to face and over the phone. Expect that with advances in social technology, such as twitter, yammer, web conferences , videos, podcasts, etc. (Note – most of this technology has conceptually been around for many years and what is new is the packaging), we will still interact in the same three ways.
I recall watching a Deloitte presentation that addressed it. And, the results were as expected – that although online socializing is a key activity, in person socializing is still primary. The Creating Passionate Users blog titled Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video hits the nail on the head.
My expectation is that the today's technologies will undoubtedly make it easier for employees, companies, family members, friends, alumni groups, etc. to have richer interactions, especially the next time they meet face to face or talk on the phone.
I just returned back from the Environmental Industry Summit in San Diego where commonground received a Project Merit award from the Environmental Business Journal. This might sound strange to many of you, but it was the first time I had to travel via plane on business in nearly six months. For those of you who know me, that is far from the norm for me.
When I arrived to Logan Airport, a whole new world of airline fees was introduced to me since the last time I flew.
Checked bag fee - $15.00 each way
Comfort kit (pillow, blanket, headphones, etc.) - $7.00
Any Coke product including spring/sparkling water or juice - $2.00
Fresh brewed coffee - $1.00
There are more, but these are the new ones. Remember the Southwest commercial where they talk about the fees to use the bathroom? If you don't, I have included the youtube link. I could not stop thinking about it when they were presenting my options.
There was a gentlemen on the flight who asked the stewardess if they carried tap water. When she answered yes, he said "That's great, I just wanted to make sure if a passenger was choking and did not have $2.00 he would get some water". I felt bad for her and the other airline staff members as they were taking a lot of heat.
I also was a bit surprised last week when I cashed in 119,600 miles for two first class tickets for an upcoming vacation. I was short by 400 miles because the mileage had not yet been applied to my account. I then bought 1,000 miles to finish booking my two tickets. The cost was $27.50. And, the processing fee was $32.06. Imagine what your customers would think if you charged them the sticker price plus 117% to process transactions. Maybe the airline industry is on to something?
The USA Today recently reported that the US retail price for regular gasoline climbed an additonal 3.8 cents to a three month high, at $1.96 a gallon. The Energy Information Adminsitration indicated that is the highest it has been since November 17th - three months ago. I realize the airlines locked in fuel prices while they were high. However, the rising fuel cost defense seems like a bit of a stretch at this point.
I would like to pass along a word of advice to the airlines on selling 101. Customers like me are more than happy to pay more to fly if you are delivering more value in return(wireless internet, maybe a tv in the seats, more leg room, a preferred seat location, a friendly experience). Add the fees into the ticket prices and eliminate the additional fees. No one is purchasing sodas, no one is purchasing sandwiches, and very few people purchase the comfort kit on principal alone. I suspect no one would notice a few bucks on the fee. However, they will as an indvidual item and the only attention it will get will be negative.
Curious to hear your thoughts on this? Does this bother you too?