With the growth of social networking, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate business connections with personal connections. November 17, 2010 was declared by Jimmy Kimmel during his television show as “National Unfriend Day”, the opportunity for all Facebook users to declutter their Facebook pages by “unfriending” people in their friends’ lists. He claims that Facebook has been “cheapening” the idea of friendship. To many the idea was hilarious, but others are seriously considering the wisdom of unfriending. Is Kimmel on to something here? Can unfriending benefit your online business? Research shows that as social media gets bigger, we’re getting smaller. Brian Wong, a network marketer says it simply: “With the growth of social networking, I am finding it increasingly difficult to separate business connections and personal connections.” He says that having almost 1,000 friends on Facebook has made it difficult for him to see the feeds and updates of his “real” friends and important business partners. Lately there is a growing trend of de-scaling on the internet. People have started “pruning” their social lives online. For example, the popular Farmville app lost 30 million players this year, and people are beginning to realize that conversations and comments are more important than a huge number of blog hits. So how can de-scaling and unfriending help your business? The drive to be more intimate can benefit your business by allowing you to form a tighter circle of customers, more successfully establishing you as a preferred channel for consumption. Luckily, there are tools that can help you descale your social networks: Path – Offers small-scale communities where people feel more comfortable sharing personal information. It controls who can view your information and does not include features that make your content viral. Letter.ly – A subscription-based newsletter for bloggers who feel that public posts decrease the quality of conversations. This newsletter opens discussion only to people who pay, or who are privately invited to read a blog post. GroupMe – A texting app which limits your group text participants to only 14, to ensure that meaningful dialogues take place. What about the flip side of unfriending and descaling? While you’re considering who to eliminate from your social circles, your contacts are likely doing the same. Here are some tips to help you make their cuts: 1. Be selective in your communications. Of course, your product is important – to you. But not every little detail is as important to your audience. Be sure to focus on key features and benefits from your audience’s perspective. 2. Stay on topic. Always give relevant communications to your customers, and never rant or badmouth competitors. This is a sure way to lose customers. 3. Provide value. In addition to talking about your product or service, find ways to provide value to your circle of friends. Understand topics and pain points important to them, and provide valuable information and advice to help them succeed. You’ll soon come to be considered as a valuable resource to your contacts – one that they want to keep in their online social groups. One thing is clear: quality is still more important than quantity, especially in the current economic downturn when people are downsizing everything. Start “pruning” your social network – and take steps to avoid being pruned – and you’ll reap the benefits of having a tight circle of loyal friends and customers.
It’s common knowledge these days that social networking websites such as the hugely popular Twitter can be used not only as an online socializing medium, but also as a powerful business tool. However, not everyone becomes as successful as they want to. Here are a few tips experts recommend you follow when using Twitter: Pick who you follow. Many people think that Twitter is all about getting as many followers as possible and following as many people as possible. However, while it’s true that Twitter numbers can be powerful, it’s also important to remember that the quality of the Tweets you follow also counts for a lot. Plan ahead. Make things short and sweet. If you make it a habit of Tweeting at exactly 140 characters, you might want to rethink that. In case some of your followers decide to re-Tweet you, characters at the end of the Tweet will be lopped off to make room for “RT (insert Twitter username here)”. So if you have valuable information at the end of Tweet – like a link – for example, it becomes incomplete. Tweet at peak times. Try to determine the time when you have the biggest number of people viewing you. That way, you can get your message across much more effectively to as much people as possible. If you want to know more about maximizing your Twitter account for your business, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.
Just when we thought we’ve seen it all in the social networking scene, along comes Foursquare, a new social networking app that brings things closer to home – literally. If you thought you’ve seen it all in the social networking world – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other wildly popular social networking websites – take a look at Foursquare. Foursquare is a new social networking application that brings networking closer to home – literally. Foursquare encourages people to explore locations and businesses in exchange for points that can be used to earn ‘badges’ that mark achievements of the user. Users can check in at different venues, and the person with the most check-ins for a particular time period becomes the ‘Mayor’ of that particular venue. Think of it as something like Twitter + GPS. What does this do for your business? In a nutshell, Foursquare allows you to get involved in the game by offering discounts and promotions that are specific to your business, which further encourage Foursquare enthusiasts to visit your business. And with 1.8 million users and growing as of mid-August, the potential traffic for your business is too significant to ignore. Since Foursquare is location based, businesses are bound to attract local (and potentially long-term) clients. Here are some basic steps to help you get started on Foursquare: Take it easy at the beginning. Start by creating a free basic account and see how things go from there. After a week or two, you can start thinking of strategies for using Foursquare to tap into your target market. Be a part of the community . Don’t be passive. Post updates that are related to your business and are also helpful to users as well. Also, be attentive to feedback from other people. Listen to what the market wants, and deliver it. Link your Foursquare account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can post updates simultaneously. While Foursquare is technically a game for consumer, dismissing it because of that fact is a big mistake. The potential for this location-based social networking service is vast.
CRM service providers are beginning to realize the value of social networking and are beginning to integrate similar features into their services. With the popularity of social networking mechanisms and websites continuing to grow, more and more businesses are adapting their service offerings to include features that are linked into common social networking websites / platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and the like. Some are even developing their own features that mimic social networking functions applied specifically for their own customer base – and many are doing both. CRM, or customer relationship management, services especially are seeing the vast potential of tapping into the social networking phenomenon. With the goal of CRMs being to establish and nurture a company’s relationship with both existing and potential clients, it is only logical for such service providers to use a platform that boasts billions of interactions daily. Microsoft CRM, for example, has integrated third-party applications such as social media accelerators, social network developers, and the like that enable businesses to develop and use social media platforms, both internal and external, for their own purposes and strategies. Using social networking – both through developing their own apps and / or integrating with existing ones – CRMs are able to get a better and bigger sense of current and possible client bases. Interaction goes much faster, is much more real-time and genuine, and feedback is easier to gather. Small and medium-sized businesses are especially benefitting from these developments, since their client bases are much smaller and thus much easier to manage and keep track of through the social networking medium.
Consider this: according to research by technology analyst group Gartner , beyond 2010 end users, not the IT department, will be responsible for 50 percent of business IT procurement decisions—ultimately bringing and running their own systems on company networks. Meanwhile, according to management consultants Accenture , around one-third of today’s new generation of workers (a group they call “millenials”) not only want to use the computer of their choice at work, but also want control of the applications they use too. What’s driving this trend? Many have been calling it the “consumerization” of IT with the wide availability of cheap and powerful mobile devices and online services. Although there have been some case studies of companies successfully enjoying benefits from letting employees bring their own personal technology to the work place , there are very real dangers that you should be aware before adopting or allowing this practice in your business: Exposing your network to malware or security vulnerabilities and breaches because of unprotected devices Leakage of confidential or proprietary information Lower economies of scale in procurement Higher maintenance and support costs because of non-standardized configurations Worried about this trend? Need to define a policy for your staff when it comes to bringing their personal equipment to the office? Contact us and see how we can help. Related links: The rise of affordable consumer technology causes problems for businesses (sc magazine) Gartner releases business predictions for 2010 (global services media) Citrix tells their employees to bring their own laptops to work (usa today)
Twitter , the microblogging service used by CNN , Oprah and none other than President Obama seems to have taken the world by storm, and is fast becoming an indispensable tool for many small and midsized businesses as well Twitter allows company owners to share short “tweets” or posts a maximum of 140 characters each to give quick, live updates to “followers” on the Twitter service. A few days ago, the Wallstreet Journal published an interesting article on how Twitter has become a life saver for many business owners in a crisis . One company used the service to update customers when their website went down because of a hacker. Another study from Warrillow , a consulting firm, says that small businesses are also using the service to search for deals and promotions online. In fact, according to the company, they use the service a whopping 7 times more than other social networks. It’s interesting to learn the many ways that businesses are using services such as Twitter to their advantage. How about your business? Are you using it as well? Let us know! Related articles: One in Five Tweets Are Free Brand Advertising (mashable.com) Facebook Adds Twitterlike Tagging Feature (myventurepad.com) 7 Times As Many SMBs Use Twitter To Find Deals (smallbizresource.com)
These days it seems like everybody is talking about “social networking” and using websites such as MySpace , Facebook , and Twitter . But exactly what is social networking? Is it just a passing fad or is it an idea whose time has come and is here to stay? More importantly, can it be put to good use in your business? What is Social Networking? Online social networks are services meant to create communities of people on the Internet who share common relationships, interests, and activities. In a typical social networking site, users create profiles of themselves which they use to connect with other users and create a network of “friends.” These networks are typically organized around the user’s social relationships, life circumstances, lifestyles, organizational affiliations, ideological and political beliefs, commercial interests, and many other traits. One benefit of creating these networks is that it allows users to keep track of each other within their network more easily. It also allows them to leverage the connections of others in their social circle – greatly expanding the network of people they would ordinarily have. Beyond creating their own social networks, things become interesting when users are able to share information and pursue activities online together, thereby allowing greater communication, collaboration, and co-creation of ideas, products at a scale and speed which simple was not have been possible before. How Can I Use Social Networks for My Business? If you are a small business owner, opportunities in social networking are readily available. The ability to create a network of employees, customers, prospects, and partners is one benefit, along with the ability to leverage their networks to expand your own. The potential capability to mine the amazing amount of user-generated demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data among a network’s members is also very valuable. Here are some samples of ways you can put social networks to work for your business: 1) Use it for Marketing. Create a community of your current customers where they can more easily hear from you and you from them . Use their networks to attract new leads to your business. Follow their activities to gain insights into who they are, what they want, where they congregate, and how best to reach them. Let them use social networks as an avenue to let others know how good you are . Create exciting new opportunities for them to get to know your business, reach out to you, and create a relationship with you. 2) Use it for Customer Service. Gain valuable feedback into how they feel about your product or service in real time. Create an important new channel to reach out to customers and to get information out to them quickly and efficiently. 3) Use it for HR. Create a community of current and ex-employees. Use it as a cheap Intranet, like what this company is doing with Facebook . Gain insight into the social profiles and behavior of your employees. Use it as a tool to attract new recruits . 4) Create new opportunities for learning and innovation. Tap social networks to learn from like-minded people. Find and discover social networks in your business, industry, or your profession . Learn from fellow entrepreneurs, customers, or partners. You can even tap communities to help you innovate faster and more cheaply . With social networks and an active community of people behind them you can co-create new products or services, link up to gain greater bargaining power, or share information and intelligence more easily. These are just some examples of how you can apply social networking to your business. For more information, contact us to learn how we can help you get started today! Related articles: Marketer addresses social networking for businesses issues … (jonggunlee.tistory.com) To friend, or not to friend: That is the workplace question (seattlepi.com) Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks Webinar Presentation (slideshare.net) Social networking is about people, not technology (jonggunlee.tistory.com)