Words to live by

You are currently browsing the archive for the Words to live by category.

Andrew Hudson just got back from Argentina and shot this video.

Not only is this fantastic video but it reinforces that lessons can be learned everywhere, we just need look.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOS8JGQ1gFU]

 

What is the lesson?  Nothing worth learning is gained easily, Grasshopper.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I know you laughed.

I love my wife.  I really do.  There’s just one problem.

She doesn’t get my jokes.  Ever.

I got millions of ’em and they’re funny,  I swear.  Except to my wife.  I have told jokes that have put entire rooms of people into stitches, but when I tell her I get nothing excepts crickets.

It’s not her fault though.  You see, she is from Venezuela and simply hasn’t had the same experiences that I had growing up in the United States.   So when I tell a joke about “hillbillies” for example, she has no clue as to why we might find it funny.

The same goes for slang.  Everyone uses slang to some degree.  Slang helps form our identity.  I mean imagine

An innocent misstep forced Alicia Machado to close her Twitter account

a Texan not using “y’all,” or a New Yorker not shouting “fuggedaboutit”.  How boring.  On the flip side, you can get pretty lost if you aren’t familiar with the particular slang others are using.

 

It’s something to think about when you’re using social media.

Just ask Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.   Fox News Latino explains.

The Venezuelan model and actress told a Mexican radio station that her twitter post in which she called for “peace between the Chinas,” referring to North and South Korea was misunderstood.

“I said it in a very colloquial way and people misunderstood me,” E!Latino reports Machado saying. “Obviously, I know there is a bombing going on between North and South Korea. When I said the ‘Chinas,’ I was referring to the Asian continent.”

I feel for Ms. Machado.  She used slang that is very common in Venezuela, but because others didn’t understand, she was thought of as “dumb.”

To make matters worse, Machado had to close her Twitter account because she was being deluged with insults.

Yikes.

This can be a real problem for people and businesses using social media, particularly when you only have 140 characters to make a point, or when you’re posting something from your “Smart” phone.

Just because you know doesn't mean others will

So to save yourself from a that kind of headache, here are five tips to help you avoid those social media misunderstandings.

TONE DOWN THE SLANG

It’s really hard not to use any slang when using social media.  Just make sure you’re not getting to provincial.  The “slangier” you get, the better the chance you will be misunderstood and your real message will be lost.

IF IT LOOKS BAD, IT IS BAD

It’s happened to all of us.  We make one innocent comment that gets taken the wrong way and we end up apologizing for years.  Remember that it’s what you said that matters, not what you meant.  If you see a word or phrase that you’re about to send out and you think it might be misconstrued, it will.  Change it.  You’ll be happy you did.

PROOFREAD YOUR PHONE POSTS

I love my smart phone.  One of the best things about it is the auto-correct.  Unfortunately, one of the worst things about it is, also, the auto-correct.  More people have gotten into trouble by not proof-reading the stuff they send out via phone.  Take a second to make sure your auto-correct hasn’t decided to sabotage you by changing “sink” into “stink” in that post you were sending about plumbers.

DON’T GET CUTE

I have always been of the opinion that everyone is smart, except for the people who try to act smart.  It’s a sure way to get you into trouble.  Stay away from puns or witty phrases unless you’re sure everyone will get them.  Realize the people you think will get it, won’t.

TAKE A BREATH BEFORE SENDING

Don’t immediately hit send after you write something.  Once you post it, it’s in the public forever.  Give yourself a count of five before pushing the send button.  Remember, it’s always better to reflect upon on a post you will send rather than reflecting upon a post you just sent.

Social media is a powerful tool that can help you to amplify your message.  But as Ms. Machado found out, social media can also amplify mistakes and misunderstandings.  Hopefully these tips will help you so that when your using social media you are able to say what you mean, and you mean what you say.

Hope that helps you out.

*(If you’re interested in hiring me you can go here for more information.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reputation should be every businesses social media focus.

It was a jaw-dropping story in the New York Times by David Segal.

SHOPPING online in late July, Clarabelle Rodriguez typed the name of her favorite eyeglass brand into Google’s search bar.

In moments, she found the perfect frames — made by a French company called Lafont — on a Web site that looked snazzy and stood at the top of the search results. Not the tippy-top, where the paid ads are found, but under those, on Google’s version of the gold-medal podium, where the most relevant and popular site is displayed.

Ms. Rodriguez placed an order for both the Lafonts and a set of doctor-prescribed Ciba Vision contact lenses on that site, DecorMyEyes.com. The total cost was $361.97.

It was the start of what Ms. Rodriguez would later describe as one of the most maddening and miserable experiences of her life.

What transpires is a nightmare scenario for any consumer, and frankly, for any business as well.  It becomes even worse when you understand why this is happening.  From the company itself.

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

I understand that this is an extreme example, but any publicity is good publicity right?

SEO is important, but not as much as your reputation

Well no.

Look, I don’t believe that this is the kind of thing that the vast majority of businesses would want to associate themselves with, but it brings up an interesting point.

What are you more interested in as a business, your SEO or your reputation?

You may laugh at that question, but I assure you, too many of you are putting your Google rankings ahead of your businesses good name.  In fact, the only difference between your business and the one above is scale.

Want Proof?  Here are three warning signs that you may be caring more about your SEO rather than your reputation.

  • Your focus on blog posts is toward key words rather than on highlighting your expertise.
  • You post based on what’s popular rather than on where you see solutions to problems.
  • You post about topics that are irrelevant to your business’ strengths.

If you’re doing any of these, you probably want to rethink your social media strategy.  Let me help.

Simply put, most businesses are created because they are able to fill a need.  Your primary goal with social media, really with all public relations, should be to highlight why people should trust you, and ultimately, do business with you.  Everything else is superfluous.

It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses don’t seem to get that.

Here’s a simple solution.

Rather than focusing on popular issues, pick topics with an eye towards highlighting how your business can offer solutions to problems.  If you happen to be able to address a topic that others are talking about, great.  But it shouldn’t be a focus.  Once you have a topic, lay out clearly and concisely what the issue is and how your business is ideally suited to fixing that problem.  Make the case that people should turn to you when they have similar issues.  Only after you have written your post should you worry about how to increase your ranking on Google.

So remember this.  Social media is not a popularity contest.  If it were, then all of us would be acting just like the business above, stooping to any level to rise in the ranks of Google.  This is not to say that you should just ignore SEO words or popular topics, you shouldn’t.  Just understand that your focus should primarily be on what your business can do for others.

Focus on your reputation.  Your future customers will thank you.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can you spot the real turkey?

Every family has one.  It was the Thanksgiving from Hell.

You remember…as much as you don’t want to, you do.

It was the year that Mom didn’t do turkey.  Instead she tried the Mongolian-Irish-Colombian-Vegan eel recipe she got from the guy handing out fliers at the mall.  The meal was so bad that Uncle Silus got drunk and yelled at Cousin Teddy, who got drunk and took the sledge hammer to Great Grannie Edie’s heirloom crystal cat collection.  By the end of the evening, the men were passed out amongst the crystal chards while Mom, in tears, chased the dogs away from the untouched dinner, not realizing that the animals were the only things that got her cooking.

Ahh the memories.  The terrible, ungodly, please-god-never-ever-let-that-happen-again memories.  I think we can all agree that we never want to go there again.

Amazingly, similar stuff happens when businesses get cute with their social media.

The boss has no clue about social media so he appoints some kid to do it for him.  The kid “totally knows this rad new platform that all the other kids are using” and ends up spending thousands on some site that can only be accessed in South Korea.  Meanwhile, the Twitter page that a former worker set up, is being used as a “why work sucks” discussion between two other employees who had access because the ex-worker sent everyone the password in a email.

Yeah…no.  We don’t want that either.

Never fear.  Here are five tips to ensure that your Thanksgiving, and your social media, will be a success

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Too often, people treat Thanksgiving as a game of “anything you can do, I can do better.”  They try to make the dish that will be the one that the family will talk about for years.  The problem is, it usually is.  No one wants vegan eels for Thanksgiving.  They want turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Just because it’s not unique doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.   And because you’re comfortable making turkey, it probably will be.

The same goes for your social media.  Here’s a secret, the reason why most businesses stick to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is because those are the sites the everyone else is using.   Social media is a tool to let people know about all the great things your business is doing.   I could have the coolest social media set up, but if no one sees it, it won’t do me any good.  Sticking to the social media sites that your familiar with, that other people are familiar with, will give you a better chance of successfully getting your message across.

DON’T PUT TOO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE

Let me tell you what "seconds" means

This is something we all do, and regret it every year.  We see all the food on the Thanksgiving table and want to eat it all.  Now!  Unfortunately, by the time we’re done piling everything on our plate we have mixed everything together into an indistinguishable brown pile of mush.  It might still taste good, but we miss the chance to taste each dish individually. We might find that some of the dishes we liked aren’t as tasty as we thought, while other that we might not have liked turn out to be our favorites.  Knowing this can be helpful when you’re going back for seconds.  Because there will always be seconds.

Too many of us seem to have the same problem when it comes to social media.  There are so many interesting social media tools that we just can’t resist using all of them.  Sadly, when it comes time to use those tools, we don’t have the time or understanding to truly take advantage of each tool’s unique strengths.  By using fewer tools and getting to know them well, you can find which ones really suit your social media needs.

REMEMBER GRANDMA’S THERE

Remember the time Crazy Uncle Silus got really drunk and started telling loud tales about his escapades in the red light district of Amsterdam, using the dog’s favorite toy to explain every graphic detail?  So does your Grandmother, which is why Unky Silly doesn’t seem to make Thanksgiving anymore.  No one wants to feel uncomfortable at Thanksgiving.  Keep it that way.

Same goes for social media.  The last thing you want is people to see your social media and feel uncomfortable.  If they do, you can bet on two things happening.  The first is that they won’t look at your social media anymore.  The second is that they will tell lots of other people who, also, won’t look at your social media anymore.

A good rule of thumb for making sure your social media is appropriate is to ask yourself if your grandmother would be o.k. reading your stuff.  If you can’t say yes, you might want to rethink what you’re writing.

You may remember Thanksgiving but your family will

SCREWS UPS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN

I don’t mean to keep reminding you about that Thanksgiving nightmare you’ve been trying to forget, but it should serve as a reminder of why everyone should mind their manners over the holidays.  Crazy Uncle Silus wasn’t always “crazy.”  But down a whole bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream and lay waste to a family heirloom and that’s all anyone will remember.  Don’t be that person.  Don’t talk politics.  Don’t bring up embarrassing stories about yourself or anyone else.  If you do, I can assure you, you’ll be hearing about it for the rest of your life.

Screwing up on social media has the same effect.  You make one unfortunate remark in a blog post, or malign someone’s mother in a tweet and you will never be able to put it behind you.  This is particularly bad if the faux pas happens on your businesses’ social media sites.  Your business will always be associated with that mistake.  Google will make sure of that.  So make sure you proof your work, and please no drunken Twitter posts.  No one wants that.

HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER

It is natural at Thanksgiving for the alcohol to flow as much as the food does.  A pre-meal martini, wine with dinner, a beer watching football and pretty soon you’re feeling pretty happy.  Make sure you aren’t driving.  Getting a DUI would definitely fall under the “Screw Up” section above.  Worse would be having a crash that killed you or someone else.  Thanksgiving would never be the same.  Having a designated driver will ensure that your family remembers Thanksgivings past for the right reasons.

Having a designated driver for your social media is essential as well.  Giving multiple people access to your businesses’ social media is just asking for trouble.  The more people who have access, the better the chance of an online train wreck.  Remember the “work sucks” employees?    You just don’t want that.  Make sure you have one person who is in charge of your social media.  It will make your message clearer and there will be a significantly less chance of having any social media “mistakes.”

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities to having a successful Thanksgiving and a successful social media campaign.  If you make sure to keep it simple, don’t put too much on your plate, remember grandma, limit your screw ups and appoint a designated driver, your Thanksgiving and you social media will give you a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

O.K. quiz time.  What’s the one job you wouldn’t take if it were offered to you tomorrow?

Yes, yes, I know.  Gorilla milker and phone book proofer are on the list, but I’m sure there were plenty of folks who immediately thought….

Not everyone likes TSA's screening procedures

TSA airport screener.

The TSA, or Transportation Security Administrations, has been getting a lot of grief lately for their “thorough” body search policy at airports.  Now, I’m not here to “probe” into whether the TSA deserves the criticism they’re getting for the invasive pat downs.   What I wanted to do was use the TSA to illustrate how a poor public relations response can turn a bad situation into an unbridled disaster.

It’s a lesson that every business really needs to learn.

The problem is that with the growth of social media and all the access that goes with it, businesses are becoming increasingly susceptible to getting bad publicity.  It happens a lot.   What most businesses don’t understand, however, is that it’s not the initial bad press that gets a company in trouble, but their response to it.  A lot of times that means simply making sure you don’t do anything to make matters worse.

Here are four tips to stop a business from making a bad situation worse.

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

Put yourselves in the TSA’s position for a moment.  You are in charge of every airport in the country.  You must screen millions of passengers, many of whom are just plain disagreeable, every day.  And now you have to read daily accounts of people who have had nightmarish experiences at the hands of some of your agents.

Your first instinct is to want to fight back.  You want to defend yourself.  You want to shove everything back at your “know-nothing, stupid, bus riding” critics and make them eat their words.

Don’t.  You’ll regret it.

Just ask TSA Head John Pistole.

John Pistole, Head of TSA

What a business needs to understand is that most folks take the side of the perceived victim when there is a dispute.  TSA is NOT the victim, the passengers are.  It may not be fair, but its reality.  Maligning the victim and trashing their supporters will only make you look worse.

Instead, take the high road.

Had the TSA showed any sympathy to the people having problems with the invasive screenings, rather than say “digging their heels in,” there wouldn’t have been quite the backlash.

SHOW WE’RE ON THE SAME SIDE

One of the TSA’s worst mistakes has been to turn the issue of invasive screening into an “us-versus-them” situation.  By doing this, the TSA has framed themselves as the opponent rather than as a supporter of the flying public.  Not very wise.  The TSA would have been better served to take this type of stance.

We understand and sympathize with everyone regarding the inconvenience of the increased screenings.  Believe us, we hate it as much as you do.  We feel badly about the increased screenings, but we would much rather feel badly about that than about sending hundreds of people into harm’s way because we chose convenience over safety.

Please.  We need your help.

If any of our agents are not treating you with respect and professionalism let us know.  We are all in this together.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Letting people understand that you’re on their side helps to diffuse many situations.

NO VENDETTAS

In many cases a business will want to “punish” the people who are causing them problems.  It may feel good, but acting on vendettas might be the worst thing to do.  Take TSA.  There are reports that TSA workers will start a work slowdown to show their displeasure about screening criticisms and a possible protest over Thanksgiving.

I can’t think of  a worse idea.

If people are angry with you, treating them worse won’t help.  Furthermore, if you find that you have employees who are acting on vendettas and you don’t get rid of them, your business will be looked at as having been in on it.

You must treat everyone even better than you normally would.  Especially the people complaining about your business.

BE OF GOOD CHEER

Let’s face it.  Screenings aren’t going to go away.  What doesn’t help, however, is when the TSA agents are grumpy, stern, and rude.  This just feeds into the public’s perception about the TSA as an opponent, rather than a partner in safety.

If you are pleasant, (not annoyingly cheerful or acting like a joker) people will be much more patient.  If you are already dealing with a bad situation, showing some understanding that the customer is being inconvenienced will let people know that you care about them.

In short, people want to know that you care when your business in making their life harder.

TSA didn’t do this.  Instead, they dug in their heels, threatened work slowdowns, and acted like they didn’t care about the passengers they were working with.  And because of that, they made a bad situation much, much worse.

So take a lesson from the TSA.  Everyone gets bad publicity, it’s how you respond to it that will truly help, or hurt your business.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

Tags: , , ,

Rapids win the MLS Cup

Dear Denver,

Hope you’re doing well, especially with all the Holiday preparations going on.  I needed to tell you something regarding the Colorado Rapids you may not have heard.

They won the MLS Cup.

Yes, I know.  I was shocked too.  No one saw the Rapids winning a championship before the Nuggets or the Rockies.  And with a Denver guy winning the MVP to boot.

So listen.  I got some PR advice for you.  You need to give them a parade.  Really.

I know, I know, they’re not the Broncos, or the Rockies, or the Nuggets, or the Avs, but you know, they are representing Denver.    Just because you think they might not be as important to Denver as the Broncos, it doesn’t mean that their contribution to the city is any less important.

See, that’s the problem that many businesses have.

Often, they neglect the contributions of their perceived “lesser” employees regardless of the fact that those employees worked just as hard and did just as much to reach an achievement that “important” employees did, just without as much fanfare.  And when that “lesser’ employee isn’t given the same recognition, they tend to take their talents elsewhere which causes the business to then, and only then, realize what they lost.

That business ends up having to spend a lot more to replace that “lesser’ employee than they would have to recognize them when they were successful.

Same goes for the Rapids.  They won Denver a championship!

MLS Cup MVP Conor Casey

They deserve the same celebration that the Broncos and the Avs got when they won theirs.

The Rapids deserve a parade.

I mean a real parade, with firetrucks and ticker tape.

It’s not like parades are a big deal in Denver.  Heck, you let everyone have parades.  The circus, the stock show, even the Irish.  Seriously, a four hour parade for having someone in my background who was born in Ireland is a bit much.  As my grandma McGinty once said “lo and begorrah.”

But that’s besides the point.

For very little effort, you can show, not only the Rapids, but everyone in Colorado that you appreciate it when someone representing you becomes a champion.  That little bit of goodwill will give you more positive PR than anything else you could do.

So please Denver.  Give the Rapids a parade.  Because, as every business should know, celebrating all successes does much more to help them than to just celebrate “big” successes.

Besides, everyone loves parades.

Thanks for listening,

Darren

UPDATE:  P.S.  A rally is not a parade.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The best part of elections is that the next one's two years away.

Well, the votes are in…mostly.   And, while half the country is celebrating and the other half is consoling itself, it’s important to look at five non-political lessons that every public relations person should take from Campaign 2010

1.  NOTHING IS OFF THE RECORD, EVER.

There once was a time when a person could let loose with the odd swear, slur, or violent outburst and have it slip under the radar without anyone knowing.  Not anymore.  Smart phones, cheap video cameras, blogs, YouTube and Twitter have made everything we do susceptible to public scrutiny.  Think how many politicians are wishing they could get back that one unfortunate minute of their lives that got caught on tape.  Gone are the days of controlling the media.  It has become vitally important for public relations folks to control their clients instead.  If your not giving your clients media training you must start, today.  The best way not to get caught doing something stupid on camera is to not do something stupid at all.

2.  BLOGGERS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS REPORTERS

Remember when reporters were kings and bloggers were just crazy nut jobs living in their parents’ basement?  Well that’s just not the case anymore.  A quick look at The Truth Laid Bear, a website which tracks blog traffic, will show you that the biggest blogs on the web are getting nearly two million hits a day.

Two million hits…..a day.

Heck, the 200th rated blog is getting over 75,000 hits a day.  You still think bloggers are crazy?  I can tell you that lots of politicians who are nursing their wounds today thought that.

Listen carefully, there is no “new media” or “old media.”  It’s all media, and you need to pitch to it.   It is far more likely that a person will take advice about a business from a blogger that they read daily than from a media entity they may only see occasionally.  Blogs are word of mouth on steroids.  If you’re not reaching out to the blogging community, you are doing your clients a disservice.

3.  ANYONE NOT USING SOCIAL MEDIA IS GETTING LEFT BEHIND

O.K. here’s a little test for you.  Look at all the people that you follow on your various social media sites who told you in the last week A) how they were going to vote; B) how you should vote; and C) that they did indeed vote in the 2010 election.  How many of them didn’t tell you anything about their voting preference four years ago?

Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Politicians who were able to take advantage of social media are headed to Washington, while those who didn’t are headed to their computers to learn how to take advantage.  Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business with social media.  If you’re not listening and responding, your losing out on opportunities.  That’s just not good for any business in this current climate.

4.  PERSONAL TOUCHES STILL MATTER

Make no mistake.  Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Flicker, Digg and Google are all very important.  But a handshake is just as important.  One politician who won as a huge underdog sent personal handwritten notes to every donor during his campaign.  Think that might have made a difference?  Public relations and social media are just like paint brushes and easels.  They are tools.  You have to use them to illustrate what makes your businesses identity.  The more you can reach out and touch people personally, the more likely they are to have a positive view of you.  Then they can use their social media to tell potential new customers how great you are.  Two networks telling their people about your awesome business is way better than just one network.

5.  KEEP YOUR POLITICAL THOUGHTS OFF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

There is one thing from Campaign 2010 which has brought all Americans together, and that is that they hate the mudslinging and arguing that comes with every election.  They hate being told “you’re an idiot if you vote for Prop T1000,” or “only commies and fascists would vote for that candidate.”  Perhaps the best advice on this topic comes from Michael Jordan who, when asked why he didn’t get involved in political activism on behalf of the Democratic party said, “because Republicans buy sneakers too.”  That’s really good advice.  There’s no need to alienate half of your potential customers because you have some political itch to scratch.  Customers don’t care.  And the ones who disagree with you won’t argue, they’ll just go somewhere else.

So while none of us can agree on whether this election was a success or a disaster, I think we can all agree that their are things more important than elections.  So take these five non-political lessons to heart.  It won’t help your depression or dampen your enthusiasm in the wake of Campaign 2010, but they might just make your business more successful.

Hope this helps you out.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You just did what?

As a former reporter and current public relations professional, there are situations that come up that just make me shake my head and wonder, “what were they thinking?’

This is one of those examples.  (Apparently it was taken down by Clear Channel, but you can see more here or here, and for a picture of the sent email go here.)

You see, KOA Radio is a large radio station here in Denver and every politician wants to be on their airwaves.  Needless to say, the reporters and hosts know their business and how to conduct an interview.  The last thing these professional reporters want is to have the P.R. people for a guest to suggest questions for them to ask, particularly when they are similar to these…

Q. In what ways are you a better choice for this seat?

Q. What do you bring to the Senate

Q. What is your greatest accomplishment?

Q. How’s life on the campaign trail?  Are you having fun?

Yikes!

So here is a bit of advice when preparing your client for an interview.

DON’T SEND QUESTIONS TO REPORTERS!!!!!

You see, the vast majority of reporters are professionals who really do take their business seriously.  Feeding a reporter questions does five things.

1.  Gives the reporter the impression that you think they aren’t good at their job, that you feel you have to help them, and that you have no respect for them.

2.  Gives the reporter the impression that your client is so stupid that they can’t even have a conversation without being given the answers ahead of time.

3.  Ensures, without a doubt, that the reporter will ask tougher questions then they normally would have.

4.  Ensures, without a doubt, that none of the questions you give them will be asked.

5.  Ensures, without a doubt, that you will be mocked publicly.

Here’a a better way to get ready for that interview.  Spend your time prepping your client.  Put the hardest questions you can think of to your client and then critique the answers.  This will do more to make sure your client looks good than trying to rig the interview.

So next time you have an interview planned, take my advice.  Save yourself from an epic public relations fail.  Prepare your client and not the reporter.   Believe me, you’ll thank me for it later.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Every business needs to embrace social media.  There’s no question that using social media correctly can help you in many ways.  Be it providing deals on Foursquare to bring in new clients, or using a blog to establish yourself as an expert in your field, social media is a tool that can help you grow your business.

There are some valid reasons, however, for not jumping on the social media bandwagon.  Yes it can be time consuming. Yes its harder to contain mistakes.  And, yes it is easy for a business to fall into the trap of thinking that social media itself is the answer to all their problems.  These are among the many reasons business owners give as to why they are reluctant to get involved with social media.

And they are wrong.

I’m not saying businesses shouldn’t be cautious, they must be, but there is one, ginormous, elephant-in-the-room reason why all businesses must use social media.

In order to listen.

Look, I know many of you think social media is a fad, or that it has nothing to do with whatever widget you produce.  Unfortunately, many of your customers, vendors, and competitors disagree.  They are using social media with abandon.

They are talking about you.

Customers are tweeting about their good (and bad) experiences with your product, or about the customer service they received from you.  Vendors are talking about ways they can trim costs by looking for better prices for the service you provide.  Your competitors are reaching out to your clients with online deals in order to persuade them that they are better than you.  If you heard someone on the street talking about these things you could address any issues, but because your not using social media you don’t know about any of it.

Or maybe they’re not talking about you at all.

All those potential customers have no idea that you exist.  Those vendors looking to lower their costs don’t know that you have the best prices in your industry.  Those competitors of yours are driving away their customers who don’t know about any other options they have.  Again, if you were at a restaurant and heard people talking about this you could let them know about your business, but because your not using social media you’re not hearing anything.

I’m not sure which scenario is scarier.  But there is a solution.  Use social media to listen.  It’s easy, free, and won’t take up very much time at all.  Here’s how you do it.

GOOGLE YOUR BUSINESS

The very first thing you should do is Google your business.  What comes up first?  Is it good or bad?  Is it your website?  Now go to the 3rd page of the Google search and see what’s there.  Then go to the 5th page, and then the 10th.  This will give you an idea of what people see when they are looking for your business.

ACT LIKE A CUSTOMER

Pretend you’re a customer who needs your product but has no idea where to find it.  What would you do?  I’d Google the product and the city I live in to see what comes up.  In fact I do that at least once a day.  I also look at reviews of each store that comes up so I know who most people trust the most.  Doing this will take you about five minutes and will give you a great idea of where your business stands.

SET UP GOOGLE ALERTS

Setting up Google alerts is very easy.  Simply go here and fill out the form.  Add an alert for your business name, one for your product, and one for any other thing you want searched.  Every time something comes up in a search regarding any of your alerts, you’ll get an email letting you know so you can check it.

SIGN UP FOR TWITTER AND SEARCH

Signing up for Twitter is easy and free.  Do it.  Now.  You don’t have to tweet at all to have an account and you can keep it private.  Once you have an account you should search for your business and your product.  Also, search competitors and organizations that are relevant to your business and follow them.

Make sure you check that Twitter account once or twice a day to see what the people you’re following are saying.  Redo your search once every couple of days as well.

Congratulations!  You now have the tools to actually listen to the social media conversation and what’s being said about you.

So what do you do when someone does say something about you?

Well, that’s a great question for another day.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Are you sure?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onrbRrmJwUU]

Tags: , , ,

« Older entries