Tag Archives: Bill Lublin

How Not to Suck Online

Now that social marketing has become mainstream, everyone is doing it, but not many are doing it well. Sadly it is far easier to use social media than it is to use it effectively. When social media was new and exciting, most of the users exploring the space were like a pioneer community. Dependent on each other for insights and understanding, each pioneer sharing their impressions of the new territory they uncovered,and discussing as a group, including the implications for their community and the people yet to follow. As the number of users has grown,the number of people using social media to advance their personal or business agendas has grown as well.

Online engagement, social networking, and inbound marketing are three legs of the seat we have when we move our marketing program into the social space.  Ignore anyone of them and you have a very precarious perch, though many occupy that unstable position because they allowed form to triumph over substance . Here are three types of people that don’t seem to “get it”.

overshareThe Over-sharer

Some people seems to spend all of their time filling the interwebs with the minutia of their lives. Not  just the good meal, or fun vacation, or difficult day at work, but every random thought and opinion that goes through their head. Nothing is too mundane for them to share, or too personal. If they have a fight with their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, family or all of the above, we’re going to hear about it in glorious living color. Things that they would not say at a small public gathering now become the center of their published actions. Their political and religious views are shared not just once or twice, or in appropriate conversations, but frequently, randomly, and loudly – especially during elections, where they engage no one and change no one’s minds.

A business woman shouting into a old style megaphoneThe Cheerleader

This person is benign, and for the most part are positive influences but their social engagement is like cotton candy, sweet, pretty, seemingly large and important, but without real substance when you get involved. They are characterized by being too sweet, too nice, and too positive. There is no one who values positive people more than I, or who recognizes the importance of positive support for our friends and communities when they are in strife or facing tough times. I know on a personal level how valuable emotional support from your online community can be when you are struck by an emotional challenge. But that having been said, online engagement is more than cheer leading or using superlatives. It’s being an integral part of the community on a deeper emotional level. It starts with recognition and interaction, but interaction by itself doesn’t necessarily generate engagement. That challenge needs to be met by becoming someone that is valued because of what you have give to the community.

Sleazy salesman pointingThe Promoter

This person is easy to see in others, but seems to be harder for people to recognize when they’re the ones originating the thread. Perhaps that’s a result of being raised in an outbound marketing world, or hearing the phrase inbound marketing without understanding what that actually means. But these are the people that pimp their services, get started in conversations about the value package for their product or services, or ask you to connect on LinkedIn because they have so much to share with you to improve your business.

 

 

Making it work is really pretty simple – be genuine, be honest, be consistent,  and remember the three social concepts that are the undercurrent of almost every interaction online – social contracts, social objects, and social capital.

iStock_000005658260XSmall copySocial contracts are not a community’s terms of service, but the contract between the members of any community  An often unwritten or un-verbalized agreement between the members of a community determining what constitutes behavior that is laudatory, acceptable or unacceptable.   The overtly commercial phrase or shameless self-promotion are just two of the clearest violations of the contract, but each special group has their own, more refined agreements which become obvious when you observe the group for a bit and see what actions on the part of its members generate praise or criticism, or even worse, no reaction at all. If you’ve ever “unfriended” someone because their actions bothered you, you’ve seen the social contract in action.

Social objects are things that people have in common – the shared experiences or passions that help us identify with individuals  or a group. Something that we have experienced in common, a high school or college we attended, a love of food or wine, a shared interest in a sport or a sorts team – the list goes on and on. Social objects are the glue that holds together a group of strangers on Google+ or Facebook, where our shared experience and shared emotions bring us together. Social objects are the things we search for when we first meet people to find common ground, and even in the online world they are the first way we connect.

Social capital is the collective value of all of your actions online.  Generous actions build social capital and self-interested actions deplete it. It is the core of the statement “doing well by doing good” in its application to the online experience. Your build social capital by being supportive or the actions of others, celebrating the success f others, and contributing to the welfare of your online community among other things.  But the crucial part is that all of this positive interaction is genuine and sincere, and is, unlike the cheerleader, a portion of who you are rather than the sum of who you are.

Being thoughtful about your engagement will make you a valued and trusted member of the online community – and that, in turn, will allow you to realize all of the benefits, personal and professional , that people seek from social media.  In the words of author Ruth Reichl  “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”

 

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3 Ways to Reach Inbox Zero

email globeI envy people that talk about “Inbox Zero“. The event that happens when you have read or disposed of all of your email. My problem is trying to keep my email manageable enough to reach “Inbox 250”.

Reading, writing and disposing of email takes up about 28% of the average office worker’s day. For people in service industries and sales, the number is probably much higher, and the need to handle email efficiently and in a manner that allows us to find and review important correspondence is crucial. All of us seem to have signed up for email lists that send us things we just don’t need to clutter our days with, so we need to find some way to organize our inbox in a rational and efficient manner. Thankfully with the deluge of email comes an avalanche of apps to help you handle the email more efficiently (ok, so maybe its not enough to be called an avalanche, but it sounded better in my head 🙂

None of us read terms when we install new platforms or sign up for information we want online and we end up with an awful lot of email subscriptions that we didn’t know we were participants in. Here are some great tools to handle your subscription woes and organize your inbox;

Unroll.me - End Email OverloadUnroll.me provides a simple platform to allow you to unsubscribe from lists you are no longer interested in, and then sends the remaining subscriptions to you in one simple “rollup” . An email digest that allows you to pick and choose what you want to read and ignore. The platform supports Gmail and Yahoo mail. You can review and redirect emails that you want directed to your inbox, and simply review and delete those you don’t. In addition you can organize your rollup by category to see specific items of interest.

TheSwizzle.com - Clean up your inbox!theswizzle.com is a similar site, but it supports not only GMail and Yahoo, but Gmail, Google Apps, Mac.com , and – Me.com This site is a lot more graphic than unroll.me. The process is the same, and the difference for users will be in their email provider or their preference for the user interface of each site.  As you sign up for theswizzle, you have the option of unsubscribing from the service, or unsubscribing and deleting the emails (an option I preferred). Swizzle also allows you to subscribe to brands through their interface so you can add brands to your digest, giving you the option to browse coupons and offers to your heart’s content while keeping your email load down.

 

 

Mailstrom- The smarter, faster way to clean out your inbox.Mailstrom.com, a site that is still in Beta, may just be a case of saving the best for last.

If you’re like me, you keep emails because you a) want to deal with them later, b) because you want to keep the email for some business purpose or c) because you read it and neither archived nor deleted it. After a while, you have lots of emails cluttering up your inbox when they should be stored in some organized manner. Having multiple email addresses just complicates the issues. Mailstrom  helps organize the thousands of old emails you have in a number of different accounts by creating archives using a number of categories. You can sort and review emails by sender, subject, date, time, lists you appear on,  and even the emails you receive from social networks. In just a short time you can archive and organize thousands of emails , keeping everything in easy to find folders.

You may not get to Inbox Zero today, but with these tools, you’ll get a lot closer! Have tips of your own? Please leave them in the comment section so others can benefit from your advice.

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The Best Ways to Get Unfriended and Unfollowed on Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn

join my network by Tom Fishburne

Join My Network Courtesy of Tom Fishburne

I guess it had to happen.

People heard that there were a lot of consumers using social media, and perceived that those consumers had gotten together for the sole purpose of moving forward the business agendas of anyone with a computer or smartphone. Sadly for those of us who were exploring this new frontier, a whole new raft of socially unacceptable behavior was about to be born.

Using social media for business purposes is a balancing act, trying to increase your acceptance and build trust with an online community while advancing your legitimate business purpose. Like anything worth doing, its worth doing well, but if it isn’t done well, it can boomerang and actually decrease your standing with your community or their desire to listen to any of your communications. Here are a couple of things that tend ot drive people crazy online

  1. Automated responses – When people tweet or connect with others online  they aren’t looking to connect with an automation – they are looking for a real personal connection. A response that is obviously an auto-responder causes an almost immediate disconnect – leading may people to block, unfollow or unfriend the person who thought they were acknowledging the new connection. When people take the 2nd day of the e-Pro course, at one point the tweet out to the e-Pro team. We will respond personally, because that’s what there effort was a personal effort. Its no a lot of effort for the positive responses it brings us.
  2. Thoughtless Broadcasting- I get a lot of unsolicited requests on LinkedIn, a network that I keep the closest watch on and am most protective of. For example, I rencently got a request from someone in my marketplace that said  “Find out why I use LinkedIn. Stay in touch and build your professional network.  – (Name Redacted) .”  Seriously? I don’t even know you. Why would I care what motivates you? Even in this smaller social space, we constantly get messages from people promising us things we don’t want or need, indicating they have no idea who we are or what we are interested in. These folks don’t take the time to cull their list and be sure that the message they were sending is at least potentially appropriate for the recipient. Direct mail marketers are more considerate than that – but then again they have to pay for stamps.
  3. Careless Commenting – I’ve always felt that we have two reasons and one mouth for a reason – listening is at least twice as important as speaking, and thoughtful speaking is far more important than speaking at all. People often feel the need to speak first and think later – but when they do that online, they create a permanent record of their thoughtlessness. Just as people need to wait before they send an emotion filled email, they should wait before posting an emotion filled response on Facebook or on a blog post. And if you are the target of such a response, remember that there are those online who live for the controversy. They make themselves appear larger by being the center of controversy because they have little or nothing of value to add to the conversation.

Interested in building a network online? Its very simple and can be explained in just a few words. Be Transparent, Be Genuine, Be Consistent. When people know who you are, know what you care about, and know that they can rely on you, they want  you as part of their network. Upon reflection, it seems so simple, and yet, for many its so hard. I hope that it isn’t hard for you.

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Antique Locks and Keys

Three Tools to Unlock Business Success

Antique Locks and KeysThe are lots of tech tools that are promoted as being the one thing you need to make your business better, but many of them require you to change the way you do business to employ them effectively, or are aimed at redesigning your entire workflow. Some of them may work for you, and some may not, but I wanted to suggest a few tools that anyone can fit into any existing work flow and will , by using them increase their efficiency and potentially their income through their utilization. I use all of them, so I’m a little bit prejudiced, but I would suggest that at their very simplest level each of these tools could be adopted by anyone of any level of tech skills, and integrated to their current workflow with immense benefit. Without a lot of fuss and bother, let’s take a look at my trio of business helpers.

  1.  CardMunch – is a smart phone app which turns your smart phone into a business card scanner. The best part of it is that after taking the photo of the business card, it is transcribed in to a contact base, and can even be used to establish a LinkedIn connection (since the app is owned by LinkedIn) .
  2. Evernote – If you’re note using Evernote, you’re missing a great opportunity to work more efficiently. Evernote acts as a combination file cabinet and notebook, allowing you to synchronize your data across computers, iPads,   e Pads  and smartphones. The note can be audio, photos, or text, as well as web clipping interesting websites you visit. You can organize your notes through tags and notebooks, and in the paid version can share notebooks with others. Some real estate agents use Evernote for creating and sharing transaction folders with their buyers and sellers, and in combination with electronic signature vendors like Docusign, share documents and obtain electronic signatures through this Swiss knife of an application.
  3. DropBox.  No list of great business apps would be complete without Dropbox. This cloud based file saving and synchronizing platform is worth its weight in gold if you work with a team for your business, or if you want to share photos or date with others in your company. The program is simple. You save files in a folder marked “My Dropbox” and it synchronizes across every platform you have installed the app on. Your iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, android phone or tablet – everywhere you have an internet device you have access to your files. Just this morning I was working on a BPO for a client in Dallas Texas, when I noticed that the photos we had in our Dropbox file were not recent enough for the report. I called my assistant in Philadelphia who ran out to the property and uploaded new photos of the listing into Dropbox. I was able to view them in Honolulu (where I was taking a short vacation) almost simultaneously, I was able to view them on my iPad while I uploaded them to the BPO on my Mac to send to my client in Dallas Texas. By simply having Dropbox installed on each device, I was able to view and upload at the same time using different devices. The possibilities are endless. Share a file of receipts with your accountant to make keeping tax records easier. Create as many folders and sub-folders as you wish and share them with whomever you wish, keeping the other folders completely private.

Next time – I’ll tell you about a couple of great tools for working on that glut of email you deal with everyday. Until then – try these and see how they can help you do what you already do, but do it just a little bit better

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Is Customer Service Just a Buzzword?

People use Buzzwords all the time. It makes them seem informed and is an easy, almost lazy way to communicate.  We hear others using them and we adopt them to be trendy and fashionable. They get used in conversation and writing in multiple venues until they become tiresome or are replaced with other, newer terms.  However their very use influences the way we think and react.

As the online space matures every conversation is about brand, transparency, customer service, evangelism, and other words that used to have far more meaning than they do when we overuse them. We are not only overusing them, we are valuing the statement over the action.

Nicholas Carr , of the Neiman Journalism Lab, amplified that thought  in his post, “The End of Disruption” where he wrote.

For a long time now, “disruption” has been the go-to buzzword in commentary about journalism. Pundits and consultants love to say “disruption” because the word tends to attract money and attention. But the word is starting to ring hollow. Throwing it around today seems more like a way to avoid hard thinking than to engage in it. Maybe 2013 will be the year when we finally stop talking about “disruption.” I hope so, because then we can start giving as much consideration to what endures as to what changes.

In a world so thoroughly inundated with the written word, we cannot forget to value substance over form. It is too easy to echo popular sentiment and think that by making statements or using catch phrases and buzzwords, we are taking action instead of just talking about action. To paraphrase Carr, we seem to use the words to avoid hard work, rather than engaging in it.

I recently read heartfelt statements about customer service from a company I’m doing business with. I believe they were sincere in their use of the term, but as a customer, my experience has been that they spend more time talking about customer service than delivering customer service. I don’t mean to take them to task, and that’s why I won’t mention their name, but I find that their action, or lack of action is not uncommon.

Having acquired a customer, many businesses prioritize the service they provide by the size of the customer’s bill. But nowhere is the customer told that “the more you spend , the better your experience will be”. Nor does their company vision share a sliding scale of customer service.

In other cases, customers are  treated poorly because they are already  committed to some course of action by their relationship with the vendor. I had a friend, who , while going through a stressful divorce, hired an attorney to represent her. During the initial interviews the attorney seemed bright and aggressive and promised a swift resolution for the client. After just a little while, their relationship hanged. Calls weren’t returned, emails ignored, the case seemed to be stuck in a never ending swamp of detail and minutiae. The client felt betrayed and exposed and without a choice because she felt that her journey towards her goal was advanced to a point where changing service providers would force her to start her stressful journey once again.  When she was finally pushed to change attorneys, the new attorneys promised far less, but delivered far more, far more rapidly. Were she asked to make a referral  today, which attorney do you think would get the business?

For your businesses to actually improve, you have to

  1. Focus on your core product or service. If it isn’t high quality, you diminish your value proposition.
  2. Talk less and do more. Saying your customers are important is not as valuable as actually acting as if your customers are important. It is far easier to “talk the talk” than it is to “walk the walk”. But your clients will gauge you by what you do , not what you say
  3. Value all of your customers, not just the more profitable ones.  Or, if that’s your business model, than be open and above board about it and embrace it. If your business actions are not consistent with your business model, you not only harm your customers you harm yourself.

If your customer service is just a buzzword,  no amount of Facebook postings or social monitoring will help you build trust and expand your business.  The job you do may end, but your customers and clients carry their experience with them into a far larger world, speaking about that experience again and again. In a connected world, you never know where your connections will take you, or when their endorsement or approbation will earn or cost you that next possibly larger client. Talking less and doing more? Might be a little harder, but it will be infinitely more rewarding.

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