Monday, January 26, 2009

Social Media: Small is Big and Vice Versa

Social Media: The Next Great Equalizer

by Nuno on January 21, 2009


The internet did a lot to even the playing field between giant corporations and small businesses. Both could register a domain name, put up a website and, at least early on, compete for traffic on search engines.

If you’ve been a netizen for any significant period of time, you’ve probably come by a web site or two that clearly is a one-man operation but where every reference to the business is first-person plural: “we, us, our company.”

That was clearly an attempt to make a small company seem big. The issue, of course, is one of trust.

Don’t be afraid to act like a three-person company with big dreams. It’s all the rage.

My Take

There is much irony in social media. Socializing with hundreds of people while sitting at your computer. Being "friends" with many you've never personally met.

Nuno Andrade ( points out that big companies are imitating the intimate relationships that small companies enjoy - with the same media that small companies used to appear "big".

Friday, January 23, 2009

Facebook - Who Cares What the Kids Think?

It's growing like crazy among "middle-agers"

My Take:

I knew it since began hearing non-webby folks rave about Facebook - "I just connected with my old high school friend" ..."Wow - it was so good to hear from them...". FB is resonating with people of all ages.

Back in 2007, my independent research showed a phenomenal growth rate among Facebook users from my alma mater.

But thanks to
Nick O'Neill of and The Social Times we have data to confirm it. Using data from AllFacebook, the trend is for annual quadrupling of US users in the 45 to 54 demographic. The 35-44 demo is over twice the current usage level and trails just slightly in compound growth rate.

So don't listen to your high school or college kids' warning to "stay off" of their social network or you'll embarass them. Facebooks isn't just for kids. And if you're in business, you can count on it being a major piece of your marketing mix in the next year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Your Target Audience Still Doesn’t Know Squat, So Teach Them

Posted on 08. Jan, 2009 by Andrew Shotland in Local Search

I just spent an hour with a local contractor who has started to feel the pain of the economic meltdown. Guess what? After years of avoiding it, he’s finally ready to put up a website and start figuring out how to market himself online. Good for him. Now he’s really screwed.

The guy barely knows how to click on a link let alone buy a domain, build a website, learn SEO, figure out what people are searching for, set up a paid search campaign, troll for customers on Twitter, etc.

As I was listening to him discuss his ambitions, it occurred to me that even after all of these years of investment in the local search industry, a huge number of the potential advertisers still don’t understand the options available to them in local online marketing.

Consumers may be a bit ahead of Joe the Plumber, but not by much. How many IYPs are there? Why did that list of businesses show up for one Google search and not the other?

All I’m trying to say here is that until there is a service that makes it dirt simple for SMBs to understand how to get online and how to choose between the options, and until there is a service that makes it dirt simple for people to find reliable service pros, no one is going to “win” this game and every company will be ripe for having their clients and users poached by a better mousetrap.

There are a number of companies out there taking stabs at both sides of the equation, but I have yet to see a model that is not just an incremental improvement on what is already out there.

Andrew Shotland - Local SEO Guide

My Take

You don't mince words, Andrew. Small business owners are screwed by the amount of time and money required to build a Web marketing program.

In my opinion a new approach to the problem is needed. Perhaps one that mimics the success of organic word-of-mouth to facilitate and capture sales leads.

Why not simply "webinize" the WOM process that has consistently delivered the most qualified leads? Why can't businesses increase their sales by connecting to their network of satisfied customers, neighbors and friends in a Web-based social network like Facebook?

If they could do this then they'd be able to know exactly where their best new customers were coming from. (They could even voluntarily reward them to show their appreciation.) Such a system would eliminate the time and expense of creating and updating a Web page. It would be as easy as having a Facebook page.

Monetization and social media 

by Christopher S. Penn Awaken Your Superhero January 19, 2009

Excerpts: If you are a social media practitioner interested in earning money for your skills, you have to deeply understand money first.

First, money is a medium of exchange for other goods and services. Money doesn’t solve the value equation - that is, what you do must have value to someone. Money only makes trading value easier. If what you do is of no value to anyone, then like the farmer facing no demand for chicken, no matter how skilled you are, no one will trade with you. As a social media practitioner, your work has to have value.

The most successful social media practitioners recognize that social media in and of itself is of relatively little value. It’s a communications channel. What is of value is what you deliver to your audience. I deliver, for example, financial aid information on my Financial Aid Podcast. The fact that it’s a podcast has no inherent value; what has value is the quality of the information.

If you’re considering offering up your services to someone else as a social media practitioner, make sure that they have something of value to offer their customers, or both you and your client will fail to generate any business. Your own track record must demonstrate that you understand underlying value and how to present it in a social media context.

Second, money as a store of value is vitally important to social media practitioners. Like all industries, social media, new media, online media, etc. all have trends. There’s a new shiny object every day, and that presents new opportunities for you to demonstrate your skills and earn some money in doing so. You have to not only capitalize on trends, but sock those earnings away. You have to be able to store the value of a trend so that when it cools - and it always does - you have a strong base of capital to operate with.

Equally important is your ability to recognize value and trends ahead of time so that as a platform matures - as blogging has - you’re ahead of the curve and in new spaces. This is the often referenced blue ocean strategy, where there’s virtually no competition in any vertical in a new area. Blue ocean was podcasting in 2005, blogging in 1997, Twitter in 2006, Facebook in 2004 and so forth. As a social media practitioner looking to earn a living at your craft, you need to be able to spot new blue oceans and move in long before others do, while recognizing that it will be some time before that space is highly desired by a large population.

For companies looking at social media, recognize that the store of value means you need operating capital and strong revenue streams today from your social media efforts, but you need to be investing for the future as well. Your internal financial health will dictate how you prioritize investing for the future vs. banking on what’s hot today.

My Take

It strikes me as strange that attempts to monetize Web 2.0 have used Web 1.0 tactics. Web 2.0 supports actual, personal relationships. These relationships have natural, tangible, financial value.

Example - there are relationships that either save you money or make you money every day. Whether you are looking to buy something or sell something - your network enables you to do this more efficiently by filtering out bad choices through communal experience.

First, we need to understand the economic value of personal relationships. Communites have always been built around the value that these relationships produce. It is why we people band together.

In this sense, social media communities are no different than physical villages, towns and cities. Then we can replicate the process and create true value that can be converted to cash.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


The best things in life are simple.

Local businesses rely on “word-of-mouth” referrals as their most efficient and profitable form of advertising. Millions of WOM referrals “just happen” every day as people talk to people.

So WOM must be a very simple process – right? Let’s break down the steps involved in a typical WOM referral. Then you tell me:

1. Consumer A must have established trusted relationships with at least one local Business.
2. Consumer A must have relationships with Consumer B in same locale
3. Consumer A must have contact with Consumer B
4. Consumer B must have a need for service of local Business
5. The topic of conversation must arise relating to Consumer B’s need for the services of Business
6. Consumer A must decide that it is acceptable to recommend the services of their trusted Business
7. Consumer A must transmit local Business’s contact information to Consumer B
8. Consumer B must retain Business’s contact information
9. Consumer B must retrieve Business’s contact information
10. Consumer B must contact Business

And – bonus steps:

11. Consumer B must notify Business that referral was made by Consumer A
12. Business rewards Consumer A

While this process occurs millions of times each day, it is surprisingly complex and contains multiple critical dependencies. It is also largely random. Its success is testimony to the efficiency of our network of friends and neighbors as means of sharing information. can be used in a number of ways to find or share information on trusted local businesses. Our goal is to increase the efficiency of the WOM process by making it systematic.

Its “direct referral” process mirrors the above steps like this:

1. Member A has a trusted relationship with at least one local Business.
2. Business is a Member of YouGottaCall
3. Member A has relationships with a Consumer in the same locale
4. Member A has contact with Consumer
5. Consumer has a need for service of local Business
6. The topic of conversation arises relating to Consumer’s need for the services of Business
7. Member A recommends the services of the trusted Business
8. Member A sends local Business’s contact information to Consumer
9. Consumer registers as Member (B) and contacts Business
10. Business receives information and contacts Member B

And – bonus steps:

11. Business automatically knows that referral was made by Member A
12. Business pays a voluntary reward that goes to Member A’s and B’s designated charities.

We can’t always improve on Nature – but we can copy it. As used above, YouGottaCall mirrors the steps in the natural, person-to-person, word-of-mouth referral process. But it also increases efficiency by eliminating the loss of contact information and automating the tracking and reward processes.

YouGottaCall can also be used like a search engine for “indirect referrals”. In this mode, the major benefit of YouGottaCall over search engines is the use of trust – not just algorithms - to find local service providers. It works like this:

1. Member A has a need for service
2. Member A searches for local Business Members that provide this service
3. Member A locates a Business that is trusted by connected Member B
4. Member A buys from Business

And – bonus steps:

5. Business automatically knows that referral was made by Member B
6. Business pays a voluntary reward that goes to Member A’s and B’s designated charities.’s patent pending process is a Connection Engine (Connect-gine™) that amplifies our social connections to improve our ability to find trusted, local service providers. For an illustration, view our slideshow.

Our vision at is to “Reward the community by empowering trusted relationships.” We:
• enable consumers to share valuable information;
• reward trusted businesses with high quality referrals; and
• support not-for-profits in their missions to benefit the community.

Your input and involvement is welcome as we grow our test market in greater-Hartford, CT. If you’re in Connecticut, please feel free to get your Connect-gine™ started today. If not we hope you will be patient until we’re operating in your region.

Please feel free to comment or contact us.

- - Tim

Friday, January 9, 2009

Social Media - Getting Local and Getting Real

My Take:

While social media is widely used on the national level, few local, small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) have added it to their marketing mix. Can social media become an effective tool for local SMBs? Absolutely! In fact social media can be more profitable for small business than it is for national advertisers - if it can:

1. Support real, local, business-to-consumer relationships

Millions of SMBs rely on word-of-mouth (WOM) as their primary source of sales leads. Yet, while their customers are rapidly joining social networks and using them instead of e-mail or instant messaging, social networks offer no opportunity for consumers to connect with their network of trusted local businesses.

SMBs serve millions of consumers and their total sales are comparable to the combined revenues of all national brands. Considering the size of this market, why has it been overlooked by social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace?

Maybe because of the immaturity of this new media. Maybe because the low per-client-ad-revenue slips under their radar. For whatever the reason, there is a suppressed demand by consumers to use social media for consumer-to-business (C2B), word-of-mouth referrals.

When local businesses are finally able to simply and efficiently engage their customers and neighbors on the social Web, large sales revenues will follow. The sum of these revenues will be on the same scale as the combined social media revenues for all national brands.

2. Provide real, social revenues

All social networks have struggled with the question, “How do we make money from this cool idea?” Social media will need a simple and efficient way to monetize the value it creates as it increases WOM sales for local SMBs.

Paying for clicks was great in a Web 1.0 world. Statistically speaking, clicks equate to revenues. But small businesses are not easily persuaded to pay for something as nebulous as a click. They want to see a return for their ad dollars.

Social media offers measurement capabilities far superior to Web 1.0. By offering a way for consumers to transact online the millions of organic WOM conversations that occur daily, social media can provide businesses with full lead measurement and tracking. This is the “holy grail” of marketing.

Picture a social network that supports this C2B WOM. It could allow its member businesses to be found by the friends of the friends of their satisfied customers. It would merge the power of WOM with the Internet-based social graph.

With this model, member businesses would be able to increase and track their WOM leads as well as reward consumers for referrals that result in new sales. This would make possible a fully variable, results only advertising model that rewards and strengthens SMBs’ relationships with their most valuable customers. 100% effective advertising!

Engaging real, local relationships in a social network and deriving revenues based on measurable results – that’s the future of social, local media.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World -

[The Journal Report: Business Insight]Consumers are flocking to blogs, social-networking sites and virtual worlds.

For marketers, Web 2.0 offers a remarkable new opportunity to engage consumers. If only they knew how to do it.

Join the Discussion

Don't just talk at consumers -- work with them throughout the marketing process.[The Journal Report: Business Insight]

Give consumers a reason to participate. Consumers have to have some incentive to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences on a company Web site.

Listen to -- and join -- the conversation outside your site. Consumers tend to trust one another's opinions more than a company's marketing pitch. And there is no shortage of opinions online.

Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell. When consumers are invited to participate in online communities, they expect marketers to listen and to consider their ideas. They don't want to feel like they're simply a captive audience for advertising, and if they do they're likely to abandon the community.

Embrace experimentation. One Web 2.0 strategy does not fit all, and sometimes the best way to find out what's best for a given company is to try some things out and see what happens.

My Take

The Wall Street Journal is not exactly the San Jose Mercury News. Now that social media is becoming east coast news, it's time for Main Street small businesses to pay attention.

The rules for using social media are not cast in stone. Any approach with which you are comfortable can establish your presence on the Social Web. You may see results quickly.

It is hard to go wrong taking a first, baby step. Your only misstep is no step.