Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Two new buzzwords

I heard two new buzzwords today, and as soon as I heard them, I started hearing them used everywhere.

F-commerce is selling products via Facebook. No idea why e-commerce isn’t a good enough term, after all, we didn’t have w-commerce for products sold via widgets like Amazon and other retailers.

Egosphere is when you ask your online contacts for information rather than asking people ‘offline’ (by telephone or Heaven forbid, face to face). I think it’s a bit negative calling it an egosphere – sometimes I will ask send messages on Facebook or LinkedIn if I want to ask many people simultaneously.

12 Pieces of Advice for Professional Social Media Consultants

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I’ve always been interested in small businesses. Maybe it’s because of the Napoleonic statement of Britain being a nation of shopkeepers, or something like that. It’s very British to like the underdog. It’s more likely to be the fact that my grandfather started a small shop in London which grew to become the successful family business.  

At Endava we help some small businesses out from time to time mainly through personal contacts. This week I met a number of people who have started their own social media businesses. Businesses is quite a loose term because they’re one person, trying to earn a living from one project to the next.

Having worked with some of the multinational agencies who have social media expert practices and listening to some others at Internet World this week, here are some recommendations for the smaller sole consultant businesses out there:

  1. Create a methodology. This helps you to sound more credible, and helps you keep some traction with clients. Everyone wants to do the first few steps of a process if the first step goes well. If you have a 4, 5 or 25 step methodology, you’ll get longer term revenues if you can demonstrate those steps. You might already have a methodology without realising it (chances are you always do a specific activity for each client and then do something else, and perhaps something else regularly).
  2. Stop doing stuff for free. Yes, your mate who runs the local chippy wants some advice. Great. So don’t charge any money, but get a case study from them instead, and lots of links from them
  3. Have a Twitter feed. Yup, I met someone this week who claims to be a social media consultant and doesn’t have a Twitter feed. The conversation didn’t last long
  4. Have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is used by sales people in 1 man businesses to 100,000 man businesses. You don’t necessarily need a Pro account. Have an account and for each free piece of work, get a recommendation from the ‘client’ on your LinkedIn profile. Your client doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile? Create one for them
  5. Don’t just concentrate on Facebook or Twitter. Social media includes TripAdvisor, Blogger, and any review site out there. Act like a typical customer and search for the business on Google – Twitter and Facebook won’t be the top results [yet], so where else is the client being reviewed?
  6. Work with a techie. Chances are (because you’ll probably be quite specialise) that you’ll find a gap in the market for some social media tools and need a techie to help you. Build a new tool and you’ll have the next Radian 6.
  7. Learn to cold call. Not just on the phone but the local businesses (offices just as much as shops). Tough – yep. Demanding – yep. Depressing sometimes – yep. 
  8. Learn about RSS, build an iGoogle page, use Google alerts, work out repeatable iGoogle page templates and notifications. Use those for customers. It will help you scale quickly. Even the very big agencies set dashboards up for clients to self monitor. As soon as the client sees something of interest it will be you who will get the credit.
  9. Collaborate with other consultants. Probably unimagineable. Social media is 24×7. You can’t sit by the computer 24×7, so if four of you can handle a shift pattern, it will make a very cheap 24×7 service. And if you share some of the stuff above (e.g. you methodology), you’ll become more efficient.
  10. Work out the best charging model. I spoke to four independent social media consultants within two days this week. They all had very different charging models ranging from hourly to “whatever” to [random, from what I gathered] specfic costs for specific activities. Work out a proper pricing model and be prepared to either walk away or discount on condition of references, case studies and other points in #2.
  11. Personally I wouldn’t recommend getting into the moderation scene. There are expert agencies out there who do this very well. If you feel you want/ need to do some moderation, definitely take out the appropriate insurance policy for your own protection.
  12. Create a blog. Leak your skills/ recommendations carefully and slowly. Point customers to the blog in order to build your credibility. Ask your discounted customers to comment on the blog to say what a wonderful job you did for them (if that was the case). Only one of the four independent consultants I met this week had a blog. How are you going to expect your customers to take social media seriously enough to part with their cash if you don’t do it yourself?

So the really simple checklist for the really simple minded…. make sure you have the following and keep them up to date:

  • Public Twitter account – update very regularly
  • Facebook account (non public) – doesn’t matter how often it’s updated
  • Facebook Page for your own business (public) – update reasonably regularly
  • LinkedIn profile – kept up to date
  • Blog – updated regularly
  • iGoogle dashboard of your clients
  • Cold call list (prospects, sales funnel, etc.)
  • Methodology

Good luck and please let me know how you get on. For any other small business advice please comment below or contact me on Twitter at @bradbox.

Learning from eBay timing

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Several few years ago I got really involved selling stuff on eBay, became a PowerSeller for a few months and turned over a nice revenue, until the choice was to give up my main job and go into eBay full time. I decided to concentrate more on my main job, and well, the rest is recent history.

One of the things I learnt from eBay was that when it comes to auctions, timing is 90% of the story.

There was little point creating an auction that would finish at say, 11am on a Monday morning. The end of the auction was when there would be the highest number of bids, and Monday morning was a poor time for attracting traffic to the bid.

I used to list items on the weekend, and pay a few pence extra for a ‘Scheduled start‘. After some trial and [lots of] error I would schedule for items to finish at around 5.30 or 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On items to do with the home, I would schedule for auctions to finish on a Sunday evening.

I’ve noticed that timing is once again really important when it comes to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn statuses. Actually, the same is true of any status update. If someone (or a brand) continually updates a status, any previous status falls down from prominence very quickly. End users will probably be following tens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of other users/brands, so the timing between status updates is absolutely key.

I now find I’m using the same practices for writing blog articles and Twitter updates.

I write almost all the week’s blog posts on a Sunday morning, and delay them being made public – trying to stagger them over the week. Also, I try to choose a decent time when they are made public (which then posts to my Twitter page, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). If I made them all public in one go, especially on a Sunday, only the most recent one would get any traffic.

Posterous has an excellent scheduler for blog posts. For my Twitter feed, I use either Timely, which has been written specifically to address the timing issue above, or sometimes TweetDeck. Timely is OK, but provides pretty random scheduling (you can’t provide a time – the system does it for you). I find TweetDeck is one those applications that tries to be all things to all people, and ends up being unusable to all of them as well, so in practice I tend to use Timely more often.

Photo courtesy of LenP17 on Flickr.

Why Facebook Connect won’t be the universal ID platform

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I’ve read a few blogs and even a full front page FT article recently that the power of Facebook is that it’s joining up the web as a single ID platform via Facebook Connect.

The theory is that you won’t need to register with hundreds of websites to leave comments, read articles, etc. – just login using Facebook Connect instead.

There are two reasons I don’t think this will work:

  1. The smart (and big) brands will continue to want to own their own data. Most brands want a direct relationship with their consumers (see prediction #10), and for decades have had to let their retailers/ resdellers have that relationship. I don’t see those same brands rolling over and letting the social networks and App stores having a relationship instead.
  2. I don’t necessarily want my professional colleagues to see my personal information (including photos) and updates, or asking me to be their friend via Facebook. We use Facebook Connect on some of our sites, and the first few people who become a ‘Fan’ of a new Facebook Page are then displayed in Facebook widgets on our sites. Those first few fans are inevitably the employees of the brand or our partner agencies.
    Another way of saying this, is that the distinction between personal and work becomes too blurred. And don’t get me started about me being able to administer my own Facebook groups of friends. 
    This might change in the long term. There is a shift for younger employees to use personal electronic devices (especially phones) to connect to work email. Less employees want two computers at home, so they’ll do all their personal tasks on their work laptop. The distinction between work and personal devices will keep blending in the medium to long term.

One alternative is for LinkedIn to become a professional ID and Facebook to be the personal ID. I post professional updates to my LinkedIn profile, and personal ones in Facebook because I have two sets of ‘contacts’ on both platforms, with a small overlap between the two.

Another alternative is for the ID to be Skype. The beauty of Skype at the moment is that it’s portable (across all my devices and computers), secure (users can only login once, and it’s voice encryption is superb) and because it doesn’t store any personal information (especially stag party photos) it’s ideal.

Twelve Digital Media Predictions for 2011

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Well here we are. 2011 predictions below. My 2010 predictions worked out pretty good and I’ve been asked for the 2011 predictions for the last six weeks.

1. Rapid demise of Flash

Flash has two big problems in 2010: Apple (specifically, the iPhone and iPad) and HTML 5. I don’t see Apple relenting on their decision to enable Flash (specifically pre-compiled code), and users will start moving away from Flash sites out of necessity. Developers already like HTML 5, and it looks reasonably flexible to replace a lot of what Flash has historically need to be used for. YouTube is already using HTML 5 to deliver video. If the BBC iPlayer is using HTML 5 next year, let’s award 10/10 for this prediction!

2. Local local local

Local businesses will ‘never have had it better’. FourSquare, Facebook Pages and Places, and Google Places can all help local businesses. My local sandwich shop at work can now have a digital relationship with consumers for no cost. The rising use of smartphones will continue to provide more local results when searching (for example, type in hospital into Google on your smartphone – even at the moment it produces a list of local results).

3. LinkedIn to IPO

The Facebook for business, the most useful social network of them all if you want to hire staff, track companies, keep in touch with former colleagues, research ‘people’ will float in 2011. 

4. More “paywalls” will increase the expectations of having to pay for content

Paywalls will undergo new branding, and together with mobile apps charging a subscription fee, the days of free content will start coming to an end. I’m not saying all sites will become pay only within a year, however expect to see at least another half dozen main titles beyond Murdoch’s empire start charging for their hard work.

5. Financial Services move into social networks

Financial services are walking around social networks scratching their heads wondering how to approach the biggest B2C of all time. I predict at least one Financial Services organisation will get it right, and everyone else will copy and improve. Expect some big announcements of huge Financial Services brands linking together with the big social networks.

6. Facebook to follow Compuserve even more

I’ve likened Facebook to the walled garden environment of Compuserve before. Expect to see ‘new’ features in Facebook like sending files to friends, Facebook wireless access points or even broadband provision (remember – Compuserve started life as an ISP), premium (paid entrance) Facebook Pages, offline browsing or a phone service (think Google Talk or Skype). We’ll all think it’s brilliant, and then read the Wikipedia Compuserve article and realise we’ve been here before. I also expect Facebook to break into China and reach 1 billion global users.

7. A clear leader will emerge in Interactive TV

Buying a new TV at the moment? Which Internet/Interactive TV standard are you going to buy? There are so many types available, it’s really confusing to consumers. By the end of the year (Christmas 2011) there will be one or two clear leaders. And expect to see a wireless keyboard lying on your sofa next year or 2012 instead of a simple remote.

8. Rapid rise in CPC

Ad CPC (Cost Per Click) rates are rapidly rising. Take the biggest network, Google AdWords. The cost per click of the following items as of 29/12 is:

  • ebook – £0.55
  • sandwich – £1.00
  • drink – £1.00
  • laptop – £1.25
  • paper – £0.75

I estimate costs will go up at least 50% over the next year because of the growth of online businesses, and they will all want to advertise their products.

9. A $50 A5 eReader

eReaders will hit a critical mass when the price point is low enough. I estimate this to be around $50 (£35) because this is a reasonable price point where a consumer won’t be too upset at losing their eReader. At that point, schools will seriously consider replacing paper books with eReaders. Expect more mainstream books to only be available electronically.

10. App stores will decentralise, leading to confused customers (again)

The beauty of the iPhone’s app store is that all apps come through the store tested and vetted. It also provides a full backup solution if you regularly synchronise your iPhone with a computer. The Android Market is the opposite – it’s like anarchy! Apple are releasing their own full app store for Apple computers. Amazon will do something similar. You’ll have lots of app store logins, and it will all be confusing. In fact it will become so fragmented that it will be similar to how you buy software at the moment – one piece comes from Amazon, another from Apple, another from eBuyer, and so on.

11. The economy will continue to splutter

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work this one out. However the implications will be that brands will drive their marketing organisations to produce clearer ROI on campaigns (especially Facebook, to pay for the expensive UK based full time Community Managers). This is currently difficult to do, but marketing departments will drive analytics vendors to improve their products beyond just referrer stats. Despite huge funding increases at the end of 2010, Twitter will need to start generating some serious revenues, so expect ads on Twitter similar to the reach blocks on Facebook.

12. Chrome to far exceed Firefox market share

Chrome is here to stay, and will only increase market share when the new Google laptop (and tablet) arrives. Microsoft won’t back down on Internet Explorer either. Which leaves Firefox in third place, and will just slide further down because users won’t know why they’ll want a third browser on their computer.