Choose a Lawyer, an Accountant, a Designer...
But how do you know if you have found the right professional for the job?

Subscribe to Posts (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

Twitter for direct marketing – not!

Social Networking, SuzySays 3 Comments »

Just read Saad Kamal’s brave posting on using Twitter as a direct marketing tool and wanted to post my own comment back here, as it got me thinking about the real value of social networks even to marketeers…..

“Like everything in life it is good to explore all the possibilities, and unpopular though your thoughts are Saad with many Twitter users, you are only speaking out loud the thought process of marketeers who use the application.

Personally, I have found the real value of Twitter to be in the building of a community and shared information and resources. I believe the marketing potential is in giving followers access to blogs and websites that may then exploit the marketing techniques you outlined. But the key thing is for a tweet to either connect with or provide something of value to another person, so any direct marketing potential needs to be one level down at least.

I don’t think seeing marketing as a dirty word is helpful since I do my marketing via a genuine enthusiasm to share something that is really good and useful. But I have lernt that even when offering something for free via Twitter, if it is anything at all to do with your business, all you have to do is be upfront about it. Pimping is fine as long as you call it what it is.

Real marketing is about informing and connecting with your potential marketplace, so Twitter definitely has a role to help find out what people want and how they feel about products, services, issues etc. I think it has a fantastic value regarding market research and testing out ideas with early adopters. Most of all however, as a way of boosting your own confidence in your ideas and keeping going via the support of the group – that is where Twitter is really of value to me.”

I’m not being mushy or anything about Twitter, and maybe what I am about to say should be cause for concern, but I find the community of Twitter, even when I only have time to dip in and out at odd ends of the day, as a place that I feel automatically supported. We all need to be part of a gang, as life as an entrepreneur in particular, especially if you also happen to be a single mum with other responsibilities, can be quite tough when it comes to keeping your spirits up and vision strong.

No matter how many supportive and wonderful friends one may have in the flesh, they are not always in the
room with you when you need to have a bitch, a grumble, or to celebrate on the spur of the moment. But the Twitter community is.

If I was a psychology graduate, I would want to do a PHD on the psychological power of Twitter to support creative communities of people who are as diverse in their fields of endevor as they are in their geography.

I have no idea whether my Twitter buddies will make any difference at all to the success of my businesses in material terms, but psychologically their benefit to me is inestimable.

Creative Commons License

This work is licenced under a
Creative Commons Licence.

The Death of Communities – or new ones Evolving?

Business, Social Networking No Comments »

 

 

http://www.certainshops.com/storage/images/newsletter/0802/suzymiller.jpg

Last week, a friend told me she and her partner were splitting up and they were going to tell the two children that evening. She told me this through the window of my car as I was dropping my kids off at school. On the way home I popped into the local organic bakery. No hot cross buns ready that morning. They were a bit behind. Someone had broken in the night before and stolen the petty cash.

I live in a community. A village. A place where sad and bad things happen but people can share the news face to face. People talk about communities ‘breaking down’ and often site family break ups and robberies as part of that process. But I think that these are events that happen everywhere, and when they do, it is being part of a community that makes those that suffer feel supported and listened to.

Online social networking cannot mimic that face to face contact. Yet the the relative anonimity of places like Twitter can allow that same kind of sharing. Not just what someone ate for breakfast, but what they are feeling at that time. And with those tweets showing up on Facebook, Facebook friends browsing through can catch a glimpse of others’ lives and feel connected.

I am about to have two simultaneous phone contracts – an IPhone (tied to O2) which will allow me to online network when away from home, and a new Nokia through Vodafone, so I can keep my business number. Yet, my friends are complaining that I never answer the phone! They are coming to accept that the only way they can keep in contact is to pay a visit.

The trouble is, my networking community has irrevocably changed over the last 7 months and since most of my friends are only occasional users of Facebook, and nervous and confused by Twitter and the multitude of .ning sites I keep encouraging them to join, we just don’t get to talk to each other much any more.

People use the excuse for not networking online of ‘I don’t have time’. Well, I don’t have time to sit still and talk on the phone, since talking and doing five other things at once is not one of my gifts. Which is why I make most of my calls when in the bath (hence the echoey backdrop to my voice and the need for a ‘spare’ phone).

But I can send out messages via blogs and networking sites in between finding the kids’ school uniforms, eating breakfast and trying to find my car keys (oh, I found them last night – in the fridge). I admire people who don’t have mobile phones and create a calmer way of life. I just don’t get to spend any time with them – just a passing hello on the school run – as our different orbits fail once again to connect. But when business colleagues have the same mentality – relying on overcrowded email inboxes and missed calls to keep in contact, that is a lifestyle choice that may cost them dear.

The Times Online posted The 50 Best Business Blogs last June. But blogs are not just a way of sharing information – they are a way of sharing views and comments as well. The business community needs to start understanding that getting involved with other people’s online conversations is a very powerful way of keeping a community in contact with your own values and, by default, that of your business.

There is a bypass threatening to carve up our village. With that would come larger stores, perhaps the death of the small local shops, and something precious will be lost. Will online communities soon be the only ones left where people can share the pain and pleasures of their real lives?


Creative Commons License

This work is licenced under a
Creative Commons Licence.

What’s SNO?

Social Networking 1 Comment »

http://www.certainshops.com/storage/images/newsletter/0709/brand_logo.jpg

The image “http://www.certainshops.com/storage/images/newsletter/0709/nikbutler.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

PROFESSIONAL IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Nik Butler, Social Network Optimiser

What’s SNO?

Nik Butler, Social Network Optimiser, wrote for O’ReillyGMT about how social network optimisation can become part of a marketing strategy for businesses.

He believes that companies can no longer deliver a one-way web, ‘interact with the consumer or fade away’ is the message which every business needs to hear. Search Engine Optimisers have generated large amounts of value in focusing search engine results towards their client’s one web site. Now a new breed of “Optimiser” can take the message of the client to the many eyes and in turn create new “conversations” and “awareness” about their client and their business.
Nik believes that SNO Agencies will be another facet of existing disciplines in Public Relations and Marketing Agencies. They will use their own network of Friends and Contacts on-line formed through social networks with which to build new links and ideas between their clients and their audience.
SNO Agencies will work with existing Public Relation and Marketing Agencies utilising current conversations and ideas to help promote and direct awareness of the product without directly advertising or “spamming” those communities.

To learn more about how you can use SNO to benefit your business, contact: Nik Butler

© Certain Shops Ltd 2006 All Rights Reserved

All text is copyright © of the author and Certain Shops Ltd. Logos are copyright © their respective owners.

The information and opinions in contributions to this newsletter and printed on the Certain Shops web site in no way reflects the opinions of Certain Shops Ltd.

Certain Shops Ltd. 72 Medway Drive Forest Row E Sussex RH18 5NX Tel: 01342 824871 textphone 18001 01342 824871 www.certainshops.com e:join-us@certainshops.com Registered in England & Wales Company no. 5685386 VAT no. 880175810 Registered office North Park Lodge South St East Hoathly Lewes E Sussex BN8

The French are Beating Us – Blogging is here to stay

Social Networking No Comments »

PROFESSIONAL SPOTLIGHTS

David Van Sertima, e-alph1 – Internet Marketing and Web Design

The French are beating us!

According to estimates by the Blog Herald about the number of blogs out there on the Internet in July 2007, the UK puts out 2.5 million blogs, but the French are ahead of us with 3 million.

The US figures are vague – between 15 to 30 million blogs. World wide, we are talking 70 million.

Blogging is not a fad – it is here to stay and growing fast, and there are good reasons why.

Blogging is the next big thing and has emerged, almost overnight, as not only a great way to network and communicate ideas, but also as one of the easiest, fastest ways to increase web site traffic and boost search engine rankings in the UK or the USA. This is great for SEO and generating additional web pages, as the search engines like Google and Yahoo love getting fresh content on a regular basis.

Internet Marketeer David Van Sertima explains that when this is done with the right formula, such as having a customised, integrated and optimised blog, all of those hits and higher search engine rankings convert to earnings.

People who are “in the know” can earn hundreds, even thousands of extra money for their company from their blog. What is most striking about Blogging is that a person can accomplish this regardless of whether they have a business online or a brick’s and mortar business.

Blogging is a great, informal way to keep in touch with your customers and subscribers, where they can even leave comments and feedback for you.

But what are the real marketing advantages of using this medium?

In his blog on Web Strategy, analyst Jeremiah Owyang believes that “many marketers get social media wrong, they apply traditional marketing tactics (yelling) to the new tools, and miss the biggest opportunities – letting customers tell the story for them.”

Companies like Intel are applying it to events, interacting with customers in communities such as Open Port, hosting blogger dinners, have a presence in SecondLife and are creating many videos and podcasts. For the most part, Intel gets it right, social media is being used by a wide group of marketers, and with varied levels of experimentation.

Jeremiah agrees that of course there are risks in letting you clients talk about your company openly. “But with it comes rewards of authentic testimonials from customers, nothing is more powerful than that. Negative feedback? Consider it free customer insight, where you can then use it to fix your products, and come back to customers and show them the impact they helped you make. Develop a comfort zone by setting expectations up front to management and internal teams.”.

On the good side, if 25% of a customer base prefer your services, let them sing your praises to the other 75% via blogs and social networks. “The company should be a supporter, echo and amplify customers, not force them into a corner.”

You can have blogs that are Integrated, Customised, Optimised and Interactive.

By way of example, at CertainShops we have created two blogs – one as a way to catagorise and collate all the excellent business articles we publish so that you can access them as a free resource. The second blog covers more general, work/life balance topics. If you take a look at them you will see that they have been branded to be part of CertainShops, customised to our requirements, optimised so that Google will like them, and most importantly, they provide a platform for our users of the site to interact with us and share their views and questions with others.

So if you are starting to think that using online social media would be a smart move, or you want to make your exising online marketing work better for you, you could consider doing two things:

One – take time to create a full integrated marketing strategy with measurable outcomes, and make sure that your blogs and online social networking are serving the values and vision of your business. Nik Butler specialises in this area and can give help and advice on creating a online social networking strategy.

Two – make sure your blog represents your business well. You can do this by:

Creating a customised blog, that looks like your website.Getting Your blog integrated, so that it sits on your website server, so any visitors will be good for your main website as well.

Optimised your blog, so that it can be found on the major search engines.

Allow your blog to be interactive with clients and potential clients.

David Van Sertima can do all of this for you, and more, since he is also skilled in the use of Google adwords and all forms of search engine optimisation.

© CertainShops Ltd 2006 All Rights Reserved

All text is copyright © of the author and CertainShops Ltd. Logos are copyright © their respective owners.

The information and opinions in contributions to this newsletter and printed on the CertainShops web site in no way reflects the opinions of CertainShops Ltd.

CertainShops Ltd., 72 Medway Drive, Forest Row, E Sussex, RH18 5NX | 01342 824871 | textphone 18001 01342 824871 | www.certainshops.com | e: suzy @ certainshops. com

Registered in England & Wales | Company no. 5685386 | Registered office North Park Lodge South Street East Hoathly Lewes E Sussex BN8 6DS | VAT no. 880175810

Social Networking

Social Networking No Comments »

Why social networking is the emerging focus on the Internet!

Cool Gadget Trends
iphone.png Gadgets are already becoming more integrated with our online software (think: the Kindle). Look at what is happening with the iPhone, this is just the start I expect to see a whole lot more companies tailoring their hardware for application specific purposes.

We might actually see a physical “Facebook.” or “Myspace”. We’ll may end up seeing these things before the end of the year, though, and then we’ll know.

On the other side of things, we’ll see more integration of our online software with things other than our web browsers. Twitter may not have the biggest or fastest growing user base on the net, but it is solid, and those who are there are influential and loyal to the platform.

Hence in 2008, we’ll see plenty of inventive new products, and at least one or two breakaway hits, that integrate into the mobile devices we all use daily.

Something to Think About – Why Social Networking is Important

Social Networking No Comments »

http://www.certainshops.com/storage/images/newsletter/0709/brand_logo.jpg

Smallbusiness.co.uk recently reported new research, which claims that small businesses should increase their use of internet blogs in order to communicate with their customers. The study, conducted by WebTrends, shows that only five per cent of companies see the blog as a valuable tool and more than three-quarters have never used the medium.

It seems that companies still prefer more traditional means of internet marketing such as direct email, used by 46 per cent of respondents and web analytics favoured by 37 per cent. Commenting on the figures, Nick Sharp at WebTrends says: “Corporate blogs can be very effective communication tools within or on behalf of a corporate community.”

In a survey conducted by email research specialists, emedia, using its RapidResearch service, it was found that only 8% of online networkers use social sites to contact clients or potential clients. However, the survey also indicates that 87% of all respondents think that social networking sites can be used for business purposes, including networking (65%), exchanging ideas (58%), getting advice (44%), recruitment (43%), research (35%) and selling (31%).

Users of social networking sites visit these sites on a regular basis and almost half of them (48%) admit using these websites at work. Nearly one in four (24%) users log in every day with half of them logging in several times a day. Up to 45% of users log in at least once a week.

In an article by Claire West, these statistics are said to show that almost two thirds (62%) of users say they are worried about the safety of their personal data held on these sites. The concern is so high that nearly one third of users (31%) have already entered false information about themselves to protect their identity.

The latest social media site to appear is Facebook – the site that, according to Freshbusinessthinking.com, could well be described as Friends-Reunited-meets-MySpace-meets-Google. But from a business perspective, the article suggests that social networking sometimes seems more like a solution in search of a problem.

LinkedIn.com, for instance, could eventually be a subscription service allowing users to input and manage their contacts and to search for connections – but it is already feeling the heat from Facebook. Will Facebook (and other forms of social media) become appropriate use for enterprise and business?

The Daily Telegraph recently reported that “More than two thirds of employers are banning or restricting the use of Facebook and similar sites over fears that staff are wasting time on them when they should be working”.

In an article by Mark Ellis in the same web magazine, he tells us that Facebook has more than 5 million users in the UK alone. “Myspace”, which is another “social networking” website, boasts 10 million UK users. Add in to the mix good old fashioned email and things like MSN messaging and you have to wonder if the good people that work for you have much time left to do any real work? Employers are right to be concerned about loss of productivity! It’s a serious issue. According to some estimates addicts of Facebook, Myspace and Bebo (that’s another social networking site) are costing UK employers more than £100 million a day in lost productivity. Defending the right of employees to surf the TUC has urged employers not to over react by banning access to such sites but to put in place policies to cover the general use of social networking sites.

However you are perfectly within your rights to put such sites off limits altogether and you might well decide to do so, continues Ellis. The TUC suggests a more pragmatic approach which would allow staff access during breaks within mutually agreed parameters. Ellis suggests a clear Internet and Email policy for all staff.

So with the fear of misuse of information and negative views from clients being publicly aired online, why is it that businesses are still seeing social networking as a viable use of their time?

Access to information is key to advancing in the workplace, and having direct access to that information creates great opportunities – in particular for women – in large corporations, especially if they are working part time, from home or are on maternity leave. Tom Crawford, head of employer brand and diversity at professional services firm Deloitte, encourages the use of Facebook whilst providing advice and guidelines on its use, rather than just banning it from the workplace like many other employers.

If you’re worried about compromising information that may already be online, Garlik.com offers a service called Data Patrol which scours the internet and then offers you advice, depending on the information that it manages to unearth.

But how can social networking work best for small businesses, who want to increase their ways of keeping in contact with new and existing clients?

In the Dow Jones White Paper “Tracking the Influence of Conversations:
A Roundtable Discussion on Social Media Metrics and Measurement”, Jeremiah Owyang and Matt Toll tell us that “The advent of social media – blogs in particular – (bring) with it at least the potential for removing the barrier between a seller and buyers who are remote – geographically, economically, culturally or otherwise.” They go onto say that “Those questioning social media’s impact on corporate marketing strategy today may well work for the same corporations that questioned whether creating a corporate Web site in the mid- and late-1990s, or allowing employees (gasp!) to access the Internet at work, was a wise move.”

Aleks Krotoski, conducting research at the University of Surrey into the psychology of online social networks, believes that social software encourages collaboration. It is the social in the software which will bring communities together, building upon the success of its technological predecessors and enhancing, rather than replacing, human interaction.

At CertainShops we are launching a social network online for the exclusive benefit of our service providers. Whether it is to share newsletter links with each other, hobbies, or favourite charities, we wish it to be a place where our growing band of professionals UK-wide will be able to get to know each other better, or just pop on occasionally to see what others are up to!

We fully understand the concerns for security that many people have regarding online networking, so only our vetted professionals will be invited by us to join the networking group, which will be sensibly moderated, to create a secure environment for our service providers to enjoy. So, for those of you who are already service providers on our site, be ready for your `invitations’ to join the networking site coming through to you very soon….!

For anyone new to Online Social Networking and Blogging, you might enjoy Blogging For Blondes…..