Archive for March, 2011

A Raucous Cacophony of Sharing

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

You know those extra buttons at the bottom of a dress shirt that you never actually use? They just sort of get in the way and eventually fall off and are never around when you actually need one. Then you get rid of the shirt and six months later you find the replacement button hiding in an athletic sock that you haven’t worn since the last time you went to the gym. That’s how I’m starting to feel about the “share” buttons at the end of every single piece of media content I read. While individuals do have very passionate feelings toward their social media information aggregator of choice, I wonder if it’s really valuable for a personal or corporate brand to manage all these different sites. Does it really make sense to spread yourself all over the interwebs with every social network possible, or is it more effective to manage a few and be more focused?

As I’ve written before, Lorton Data has a Facebook page, a new Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, a YouTube page, an email newsletter and this rather lovely blog. That’s enough for an organization of our size to manage. Bringing in more social media platforms would be problematic for us. Recently, we’ve attended quite a few lunch-and-learn webinars (why don’t they ever email us pizza and a nice salad beforehand?) that argue that we should be social in every aspect of our business and that each social media platform is the most important thing since the invention of the telephone. What they don’t do is tell us how to manage it all. It’s like a cocktail party where the volume increases as the night goes on until everyone’s yelling cancels each other out and you can’t hear anything over the raucous cacophony of noise.

My advice: Try to keep it simple. You really don’t need to be reached on every single social media platform 24/7/365. If you are a multibillion dollar international business-to-consumer organization, sure maybe it’s a great idea, but if you are a small-to-medium sized business, it just doesn’t make sense. Pick your battles (or platform). Focus on only a couple of social media sites that are easy and comfortable for you to work with and make sense to your client base.

Last year, TechCrunch posted an interesting analysis regarding social sharing on the web. Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Twitter combined for 73% of all the traffic. Many of the smaller social media sites were outstripped by the emailing of information and good old fashioned print button (just don’t tell the office supply gatekeeper). So, in reality if you aren’t monitoring del.ic.io.us, Digg and MySpace, how much revenue are you going to leave on the table?

Yahoo just released a study that related how nearly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K users. Part of that mix is bloggers talking about people’s blogs. You’ve got a better chance of getting picked up by that crew, than becoming the next Digg star. With Facebook, 51% of the American population over the age of 12 has an account. As an organization, I’d hazard a guess if you focus on them you’ll generate a lot more traffic than playing fifty-two card pickup with the plethora of social media sharing sites out there.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought. You know the people that get to the front of the line at Starbucks and still don’t know what they want to order? Imagine those folks trying to decide where to share your article. *Shudder* Too much choice can be absolutely paralyzing. So start small, focus on a couple of sites and most likely you’ll get better feedback than spreading yourself too thin.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make sure you ignore the “share all” option below and just focus on the Twitter and Facebook icons. Nothing to see here people, nothing to see.

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Have Your People Tweet My People

Monday, March 14th, 2011

There are four tips to leveraging Twitter in a B2B context. There are seven strategies to being successful, ten “musts” for every online organization, twenty suggestions for getting more Twitter followers, and forty ways to use social CRM for selling. My head spins three hundred times whenever I try to wrap myself around all the advice floating around the interwebs about how to be a company and use social media to find other companies to expand our business. Of course we have a LinkedIn page, a Facebook page, a YouTube account, and now a Twitter account to reach out and explore every pocket of the internet.

Having a Lorton Data Twitter account inherently makes us hip, trendy and exciting right? We have our festive logo as the avatar and a groovy water droplet themed background that metaphorically represents our A-Qua Mailer offering. We’ve even tweeted already, providing some useful information, a couple of links and a joke about a 1:45 AM fire alarm at MAILCOM (with a hashtag!). All we need to do is turn all of our personal brands into a collective corporate brand, then just sit back, put our organizational feet up and watch the followers roll in. It sounds so easy.

Or maybe not.

Lorton Data operates in a business to business environment, and unless your Great Aunt really needs the addresses for this year’s Christmas cards cleaned up, your average Twitter user probably isn’t going to be inherently interested in what we have to say. It’s the honest truth. While we provide database hygiene services to organizations as large as major governmental bodies, to as small as the neighborhood church around the corner, it’s hard to market our business outside of the traditional direct mail context. We think Twitter could be a good avenue to spread the word about Lorton Data while also providing additional information to help our customers.

Much like all the hundreds of thousand voices out there talking about social media in a B2B context, we haven’t figured out our game plan yet. We actually haven’t even really started. There are tons of tips, suggestions, ideas, beliefs, blades of grass tossed into the wind and shaken magic eight balls, but many of them contradict each other or seem to suggest those ideas only work in one specific context.

So we might just have to wing it a little bit.

According to a statistic I just made up, 99% of all articles about social media explain that there is nothing more important than generating interesting content. And yes, I completely agree. I’ve been using Twitter personally for a little over a year now and have come to realize that nothing is more important than original content. It’s more than blindly retweeting the latest iPad analysis from Mashable, but it’s less than sharing every single thought that passes through our organization. We need to engage our audience with @ replies and discussions, (it’s social media after all) but I don’t even think we honestly can project who our audience will be yet. My user experience on Twitter as an individual (or more silly as a Personal Brand) will be markedly different from my projected experience on Twitter as Lorton Data employee. By understanding that out of the gate, our organization should be able to set different expectations and understandings of how to engage with Twitter as an organization of multiple voices working together to communicate with the world at large.

As someone has probably already said, “you can lead a customer to Twitter, but you can’t make them tweet.” Or follow, or something like that.

So, we are interested in hearing what people are looking for from Twitter in a B2B business context. What will have you interested in hearing from us? Of course you can reply on our Facebook page, follow us on twitter or comment on the blog.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get this blog reviewed and posted so I can link to it on Twitter.

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Privacy – It’s Your Choice

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Recently my daughter sent me a picture of her son’s bedroom door.  My grandson, at the ripe old age of four, has decided that his younger sister is not welcome in his bedroom.  He used a large sheet of paper and drew a mostly round circle (I believe he might have used hockey tape) with a dark line through it.  In the background, you can faintly see a name written, so we definitely know who ‘is not allowed’ into his room.

Several days later a new sign was added that simply says ‘NO’.

No Entrance

The next time we visited, the first thing out of our grandson’s mouth was, “hey, do you want to see my room?”  “Well, of course I do” I said, “but it says ‘no entry’ on the door!”  He replied, “Oh that doesn’t mean you grandma!”

We should all have choices relating to how issues of privacy affect our lives.  Unfortunately, in the Direct Marketing Industry by the time we hear from an unhappy mail or telephone call recipient they are already disgruntled and they are really ready to yell at somebody!

You do have choices on what mail you receive.  If you want to control what you receive in your mailbox, go to www.dmachoice.org.  Log in and make your choices.  You can choose specific magazines that you would like to receive, or you can stop all magazine offers.  Same is true for catalogs.  Use the tab for ‘other mail offers’ to stop all other mail offers or, again, you can select specific companies from which you wouldn’t mind receiving offers.  To manage credit offers, you will be directed to a free website published by the major credit bureaus.  Even if you register with these sites, you will still receive mail from companies with whom you do business and those with whom you have signed up to receive offers.

Telemarketers always call during the dinner hour you say??  You have a choice to stop most of these calls by going to www.donotcall.gov.  You can also register your cell phone number at this site which would not only stop unwanted calls, but would cover unsolicited text messages as well. Again, even if you register, you will still receive calls from companies with whom you do business, along with non-profit organizations, political affiliates and those conducting surveys.

I’m sure you will agree with me when I say at times even I want to put up signs on the ‘doors’ in my life – but these may be a little more descriptive than a four year old’s sign!

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