Archive - September, 2011

Twylah: Content Librarian for Small Business


Small business owners are busy with a capital “very” and don’t have time to play with new tools.

However, a new tool that actually saves time AND increases productivity often seems heaven sent. Enter Twylah.

For business owners and solopreneurs, Twylah is a powerful library for the resources and content you share on Twitter. If you’re using the 70-20-10 guideline, you’re sharing plenty of valuable resources. Good for you. And if you’re sharing resources with you customer in mind, you’ll quickly see why Twylah brings value to your tool set.

In short, Twylah curates your body of “tweets” and places them in categories. You also have input over the placement of the “top” categories – but for the most part, you set up your Twylah and they do the rest.

Using the Twylah page I’ve setup for my business, notice the top menu. The top menu is filled with topics I talk to my customers about most:

  • Small Business
  • Social Media
  • Social-Local-Mobile ( aka SoLoMo)
  • How-To
  • Content
  • Business
  • Blog

Twylah allows you to share more efficiently.

Practicing our “Be the Resource” mantra, your Twylah page becomes a value offering to your customer. If your business is a shoe store, your Twylah page might have a top row that includes: Shoes, Foot Care, Style, Walking, Accessories, Boots, Trends . . . you get the idea

You can use your Twylah as a resource in your email signature or by giving it a permanent place in your newsletters (and possibly, a link or button on your website).

Twylah can also be a compass of sorts for you – a self-awareness tool to see if you sharing “on track” with your three keys of curation

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Change: Compost or Creation?


The sound of fallen leaves circling and blowing across a parking lot.

Almost sounds like applause “we’re free, we’re free”

But what’s that you say?

“Those leaves have no reason to celebrate. They are dead and will become compost soon.”

Listen again, yes – they are free…they celebrate because they are on to their next opportunity…

Working together to create change and start something new…

And how about you?

- -

Written this morning between appointments, I’d usually use pen and paper. Today, I used the Google Plus device on my mobile.

The piece itself is relevant (change your view about change), but I also practiced of Just Spill.

Your turn. There’s Always Room for One More Good One.

Start getting good. ( And feel free to join me on Google Plus)

Photo on Flickr by DrLizBit

Social Media ROI: What Are You Counting On?


Get your calculator out folks, we’re going to have class – and maybe I’ll learn something.

It’s understandable that businesses small and large are asking the question: “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” Heck, I’d wonder about you if you weren’t asking the question.

I sometimes answer this question with another question: “What would success look like – in other words – What is it you want to improve and how do we measure that?”

A blank stare.

We keep digging.

  • How many {phone calls, walk-ins, page views-to-shopping cart transactions, whatever …) does it take to make a sale?
  • What’s the sales cycle from initial contact to sale? How often (and in what way) do you scratch the itch within the cycle?
  • The average purchase per customer is _____
  • How do you ask for referrals?

A blank stare.  Still?

Is it fair to say that to figure out the ROI of your social media play, you should have two things:

  1. Know the ROI of other parts of your business, even down to the day parts
  2. Know what area you want to improve (either increase profit or decrease cost)

Social Media is a powerful set of tools that can improve your bottom line (and top line). Do you know those lines?

Here’s an example (small retail store):

  • They want more customers (and it’s important to know: more customers or increase spend per customer)
  • We need to know how many “prospects” come in and how many sales are made.
  • Ideally, we’ll know the day part averages (is there a pattern of slow times and busy times?)
  • How often do the customers return? What is the referral system like?
  • What do your customers ask for most?

We haven’t even delved into what’s important to your customers or what they’re saying about you or your product yet.

With this information, we can have a strategy to go with all these tactics (tools).

Before we debate whether social media counts, let’s start counting some other important stuff too.

What are you counting on?

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Small Business Usage of Social Media [InfoGraphic]

Is your business finding customers using Social Media? If not, maybe it’s not the tools but how the tools are being used.

”How
Crowdsourced Logo and Graphic Design by crowdSPRING

Students: 4 Reasons Why Writing a Blog is Worth Your Time [Guest]


With over 150 million blogs and counting, it seems like everyone is getting in on the action these days. But for many students, the world of blogging is still a very foreign concept.

Based on my own conversations with other students, blogging just doesn’t seem like a valuable use of time to them (and let’s face it, a student’s time is a valuable thing).

Upon further questioning, students also don’t seem to relate —categorizing bloggers into two broad categories:

  • Seasoned professionals with much knowledge at their fingertips and time on their hands…
  • Or everyday people writing posts that are, unfortunately, only interesting to them.

While these descriptions may be true for a segment of bloggers out there, students are seemingly unfamiliar with the millions of bloggers that are just like them. And herein lies the beauty: anyone can be a blog writer, and as a student, there are plenty of reasons to consider starting today. Here are 4 reasons why blogging is worth your time and how it can even jumpstart your career:

1.       Become a better writer (and land a job)

Whether you’re a casual writer or a challenged writer, don’t let your natural abilities (or lack thereof) discourage you. Like any activity, the more you work on it, the better you get.

But besides improving your writing skills as a benefit alone, being a proficient writer is something that will help you win job opportunities, especially in this information age. With just about any white collar job, mentioning that you have writing experience is an additional skill you need to set yourself apart from the competition. And hey, it’s certainly a lot easier than learning a new language.

2.       Make connections  (and find a job)

Not only will you hone your writing skills, but the more writing you do the more contacts you will likely make. Whether you make connections through fellow student bloggers who might be covering a similar topic or through people who have sought you out, I cannot stress the importance of making connections enough. Look at the millions of people on Linkedin to see what I’m talking about.

Connections will help you find jobs, get in touch with the right people, or at the very least, give you a new friend to talk to online.

3.       Master the web  (and keep a job)

I’m surprised by how many fellow colleagues of mine are barely knowledgeable about the internet and all it has to offer. With trillions of pages of information out there, there is bound to be something that strikes your fancy, and yet it shocks me to meet students who don’t explore the internet past Facebook for social reasons or Google for help with homework. Does unending wisdom not entice you??

Simply put, starting a blog is fun, easy and a great way to unearth your creativity. With novice friendly sites like Weebly, setting up an account and getting started is as intuitive as uncapping a pen or unclasping a diary. Once you start writing regularly, you’re bound to understand the potential of the web as you seek out more inspiration to spark creativity. The more you become familiar with the internet, the easier your life will be as we continue to become a society where knowing how to navigate the internet is absolutely vital.

4.       Start a following (and create a job)

After you get the hang of things, it’s possible you’ll start amassing a following. It is then you’ll know what it feels like to have a real audience, and then you can even learn from their comments and perspectives and expand your horizons as well.

Moreover, a loyal following can be turned into future customers if you start a business of your own!

For example, maybe your blog is about photography and your experience as an amateur photographer. Get enough people hooked on your story and viewing your photos and you could have enough support to consider selling your full-sized prints. The possibilities are endless!

So what are you waiting for?

Find the blogging platform that works for you and set up an account to start blogging today. What interests you the most? What are you passionate about? Sometimes it’s better to let the thoughts spill out of your head offline so that you can decide on a more concrete direction afterwards.

One last thing to consider is that writing about college life, for example, will probably interest you less after you have graduated, so perhaps writing about a more long-lasting hobby is suggested. But either way, even if you’ve squeezed every last drop out of your topic, at least you will have the know-how and experience to start another one!

Remember, knowledge is a contagion that needs to be spread! So get to spreading!

—–

Brendan Baker is a writer for the Student of Fortune blog, where he writes about current education topics and college life.

Photo on Flickr by hackNY

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Testing Opt-In Forms for Google Plus Circles


A piece +Denise Wakeman wrote on using an opt-in form for G+ Circles got me thinking yesterday. How many folks are using this?

As an experiment, I’ve created two non-business related Circles (though both subjects have plenty of lessons within).

Feel free to hop-in either one. (if you’re looking for your G+ Profile, just sign-in to Google Plus and click on your profile.

Opt-in form for Life Lessons from Baseball: http://bit.ly/pMT2uU
Opt-in form for Life Lessons from the Movies: http://bit.ly/qJEJE4

Maybe we should “share circles” to talk about baseball movies?

P.S. If you have a circle for either Baseball or Movies, I’d enjoy being part of your circles

 

 

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I’m Not Just Another Name Tag (And Neither Are You)


Each morning I leave the house, there are three things I make sure I have plenty of (besides coffee):

  • Business Cards
  • Postcards
  • Name Tags

The last item on the list is new – and I’m finding it’s a conversation starter.

I’ve long admired how Scott Ginsberg (aka The Nametag Guy) wears his name tag everywhere. Everywhere. He practices transparent living.

Recently, I got into the habit and I’m finding them to be conversation starters – and ice breakers. Look, I carry business cards and post cards (my version of a brochure or sales card), why not wear a name tag too? Now, when I walk into a business or store – they call me by name. Immediately, the conversation is warmer.

Back to Scott: His post on Lessons About Anonymity compelled me to pick up a name tag habit. In the post, he says: Anonymity is the death of civility.

Since the late 90s, I’ve always tried to live a glass-house life. It’s helped. It’s hurt. If something goes wrong, folks can either believe their eyes or believe the lies. Consistent, transparent, accessible. So why the name tag if transparency is already a habit?

In this day of folks craving privacy and not exercising their nice muscles (“Hi! Have a Nice Day”) not only does a name tag stand out – it softens the atmosphere.

Try waving at everyone that passes by your store or business (yes, everyone). Will they think you’re weird? Probably, but we’re all weird. If you’re wearing a name tag, you’ll remember to be nice more often – and you’ll probably be remembered!

Am I trying to be Scott? Nope. It’s why I write “Mike” on my name tag.  What’s on your name tag?

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Google Plus Circles: Avoid the Noise


A rant often heard among colleagues (Yours, Mine, Ours) is how Social Media sectors are echo chambers.

Either repetition in sharing of voices or repurposing of the same idea over and over. In defense, there’s nothing new under the sun. At the same time, there is a lot of echo in the conversphere.

Google Circles helps us Avoid the Noise

So Long, Same Old Song: An example is in Social Media conversations: “I’m tired of hearing about blogging about blogging about blogging.” Replace “blogging” with any other tool, including Facebook or Google Plus. I’ve heard similar across different fields of work.

Google Circles to the rescue. I can share 5 Days to Turn Your Blog Into a Social Media Hub with my Clients and Family circles without creating noise for my Social Business circle. The latter is probably already bored with it – and it just launched today.

Share Elsewhere: A practice in one field sometimes fits like a glove in another (maybe with some minor SCAMPERing). An example here is from EdTech to ChurchTech. Both fields are often on tight budgets and battle limited time with their core audiences. Free is good, Easy is better.

When Richard Byrne writes up a collaboration tool sharing it with Educators I know would be an echo. Sharing it with Church folks? They’re excited! Thank you Google Circles.

Silence the Mad Chatter: Chit Chat how’s Your Cat is great, especially with pals. I’m not one to tell you that should be doing such on this tool or that – but for me, I can create a tool for Coffee Circles so those that want to hear my every day stuff can subscribe to my Facebook . . . er can be in my Coffee Circle.

And if you’re too noisy, I can put you in my Con Mucho Viento circle. Speaking of which . . .

Say Your Name Again?: I’ve created a special circle for folks I don’t know much about yet. When I get “circled” from a stranger and don’t have time to check their profile (you do have a profile, right?) – I place them in this circle. Not rude (though if you don’t get circled by someone, be not offended)

One key to all this working as you read your incoming G+ messages is to use the left-hand navigation one circle at a time. To go with the full stream is like eating a whole banana cream pie at once. But that’s a different Circle.

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New Facebook and Google Plus: First Glances


I like the new Facebook. Worked with the new layout and Timeline this week. The Ticker is going to be great fun and maybe even addicting to some (you can only see it when you’re ON the Facebook site, yes?).

Small Business owners, especially solopreneur types, will continue to need some presence on Facebook for engagement and measurement. Depending on the type of business, a lot of investment might be wise there.

I fell in love with Google Plus. This weekend was the first time I really began using it, and there’s lots of potential. For personal use, but also business use.

Convenience is the key for me (and those I coach). Busy business owners don’t have a lot of time. I’ll go into more details of how I’ll be using Google Plus in future posts.

At first glance, between the tools already being used (GMail, Google Reader, Maps, Calendar, Docs, News – oh yeah, and Google Search) in addition to the exciting possibilities of video conferencing and doc sharing with Hangouts with extras – especially with Mobile . . .

Here’s a video that explains a lot of it semi-simply (and funny):

Anyway, if you want to connection on Google Plus, Circle me (is that legal?)

Big thanks to +Chris Brogan for his help (he’ll help you too!) on getting started on Google Plus.

 

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Creating a Business That Works for You: Step 1

Read this book:  The Big Enough Company

Whereas the last book I shared wasn’t about you, this book is all about you – as far as creating a business – your business – right for you. For who you are, what you’re about, and how you want to live.

It’s really more than a book, it’s really two books in one.

The first part is a workbook, asking you important questions, giving examples of how others found their answers, and helping you navigate through potential pitfalls.

The second part is a playbook – the “If-Then-Next” kind of guide that gives you scenarios of potential problems and solutions to consider.

This book is filled with Cheat Sheets, Success Stories and navigation that will help you design a business that fits you. It’s the type of grab-and-open-to-any-page book that is money every time.

The authors, who are entrepreneurs themselves – In Good Company – and community cultivators, talk about their your book in this video:

Tom Peters once said something to the effect of: “If a $20 book has one great idea, I’ve found a great bargain.” Well, this book is will be one of the greatest bargains of all time if you keep the pages handy and apply what you glean.

This is probably not the last piece I write about this one.

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