Monthly Archives: November 2012

10 Business Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Everybody involved with business social media (or flirting with it) ought to read 10 Ways We’re Being Rude in Social Media and Don’t Even Know It by David Spark. Here’s his list (explanations are either mine, or in quotes):

  1. Friend collecting. David makes the point that friends and followers aren’t necessarily a measure of engagement or value. You can buy them. You can collect them with software-driven scripts and special tools. 
  2. Asking people to “like” your content-free Facebook page. What’s to like when there is nothing there? Put the content up first, then engage. 
  3. Requiring app installation to consume a message. For example, that greeting card that requires you install something. 
  4. Auto DMs on Twitter. He’s referring to the practice of setting your Twitter to automatically send a direct message to every new follower, thanking them, or — worse still — asking them to buy something from you. 
  5. Happy Birthdays on Facebook. David says: “Only typing ‘Happy Birthday’ is truly the least you could do outside of doing nothing.” And he adds that there is no extra credit for remembering when Facebook is reminding you. 
  6. Sharing without consumption. “We all have the ability to share any piece of content without looking past the headline.” Read it first. 
  7. Photo overdose of your kids and your wedding. “Your kid may be cute to you, but you’re the parent and that’s how you’re supposed to feel. The rest of us are not supposed to feel that way.” 
  8. Posting bad photos
  9. Follow Fridays. Hmmm. Honestly, I’ve been follow Fridayed and I’ve liked it. I thought of it as mutual back scratching. The #FF in a tweet followed by listing handles is a recommendation to your followers that they follow the people you list. But David points out that it’s really about getting the attention of the people you list. I think it’s kind of faded as a behavior anyway. 
  10. Automatically cross-posting contentless information across social networks. This should be higher on the list, in my opinion. Having foursquare post when you check in, or Spotify post what you’re listening to, for example: That’s just clutter. That stuff gets in the way. Don’t do that. 

A Good Social Media Business Case Example

One of the things we almost always recommend in a social media business plan is a proactive thoughtful promotion to generate engagement from your strategic target market. Give something those people want. Ask them to engage with you to get it. 

This morning I posted about this on Up and Running. But it also belongs here. 

It’s about Intuit’s Small Business Big Wishes promotion going on right now. It ties into social media engagement, small business, and even the holiday season. Write about your business wish, win the vote, and win a $5,000 grant. 

It’s one winner a day for … (quoting the rules):

… a wish that Sponsor [Intuit] is legally able to grant and is reasonably feasible to grant for your small business (that is valued at approximately $5,000 or less) and how it will transform your business in five hundred (500) characters or fewer. 

And it’s neatly designed to develop Intuit in social media. To win, aside from your 500-character text, you also have to …

…visit www.loveourlocalbusiness.com and sign into one of your social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google +.  

And …

You will also be required to complete a registration form including your first and last name, email address, business name, and other details about your small business. 

So look at what this promotion does: 

  1. It addresses a specific target market: Small business. 
  2. It motivates people in that target market to take engage over social media. 
  3. It gets attention (I’m posting about it; you’re reading that post).
  4. It connects them with specific target market businesses. 

I suggest you think about how you might apply the same kind of thinking to your own business and its presence in social media. Maybe you can’t afford the $5,000 per day that Intuit is investing, so offer something you can afford that interests your target market. And give that away for social media engagement, including names and contact information. 

Very slick. 

Business Social Media is Inevitable

David Lacker reviews and summarizes Stanford research on business social media at the highest business levels.

Key findings: most companies are using social media, but it doesn’t get up to the board level. It’s new, interesting, but they’re waiting. Social media scares companies. But…

I think it is inevitable that [social media] is going to have an impact on companies.

If you don’t see the video here, click this link to see the original.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Social Networking Website

I just answered How do you write a business plan for a social networking website? on Quora

Disclosure: I own Palo Alto Software, which publishes LivePlan, web app for business planning. 

The fact that it’s social media doesn’t really change what a business plan needs to cover in order to optimize management, build in accountability, and run the business:

  1. Review schedule: set a day of the month (for example, third Thursday) to review plan vs. actual.
  2. Key assumptions: you have to list them so that when the assumptions change (and they will) you’ll know what to expect to change in the plan. Review the assumptions in every monthly review meeting.
  3. Strategy: focus. Focus on the target users, their needs, their wants; and the offering, the site, the interface, the key benefits. This doesn’t take a lot of words. Pictures are sometimes better.
  4. Milestones: what’s supposed to happen when. Who is responsible. How much does it cost, and how much does it bring in.
  5. The basic numbers: what really matters is the cash flow but you can’t project cash flow without projected sales, costs, expenses, profits, and balance sheet.

If you’re talking about a business plan that will be the source document for seeking outside investment, which means it’s the source for the pitch and summary and so forth, then you need to make sure you also cover the following additional points:

  1. Management team: background, experience, expertise, responsibilities.
  2. Defensibility
  3. Scalability
  4. Monetization (or not)
  5. Potential growth
  6. Possibility/likelihood of future exits 

Everything I’ve written here applies to a social media venture but, for the record, also applies to a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.


Social Media Business Primer: Basic Vocabulary

Don’t you hate it when everybody is using buzzwords and you don’t know which to use when, or what they mean? Social media is easy. If you’re new to it, here’s some help with the basic vocabulary. 

  1. The top five social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google Plus (also called Google+). 
  2. All five have the option of engaging as your personal self or your business. The links here in point #1 above all go our Eugene Social business accounts, not our personal accounts. 
  3. Refer to your Facebook page as a Facebook page, not a website. Putting a photo, comment, or link onto your Facebook page is called updating your page, but you can also call it posting to your page. The main collection of updates is called your Facebook wall. Depending on privacy settings, other Facebook people or companies can post to your wall. You can delete them if you don’t like them. 
  4. In Facebook you like something: an update, a photo, a comment, a business, a video, etc. You like something that’s in an update. You don’t like people; you friend people. But the friend as a verb is old fashioned. People use connect with often; I’m connected with her in Facebook.  
  5. Don’t refer to your Twitter presence as a Twitter page; instead, you just say we’re on Twitter. Refer to your Twitter presence with the at (@)and your twitter handle, as in I’m on Twitter @TimBerry, and my company is @EugeneSocial. (and @bplans and @liveplan and a few others, by the way … multiple personalities happens a lot on Twitter.)
  6. Those famous 140-character snippets people post to Twitter are called tweets. Posting an update to Twitter is called tweeting. When somebody likes what you tweeted, and passes it on, that’s called a retweet
  7. In Twitter you follow people. Please follow me in Twitter. I have more than 12,000 followers. To follow somebody means you see his, her, or it’s tweets. Like in politics, and campaign financing (ouch), you don’t have to an actual human being to be a person in Twitter. I’m @TimBerry and that’s really me. But I’m also @smbplans and that’s also me, but it includes two others, and the face of it is the logo for smbplans.com. 
  8. Twitter allows you to send a private message to one person. That’s called a DM, for direct message. You can only send to people who follow you. 
  9. When your tweet starts with @ and somebody’s handle, that’s called an @ mention (pronounced at mention) and it’s sort of like a DM. If you start your tweet with @TimBerry then people won’t see it unless they search for “@timberry” or for some other term in that tweet. It’s not private, but it doesn’t show up in the normal flow, so it’ s sort of private. Sometimes when you want other people to see the tweet but you want to start with a name, you put a period at the beginning, as in “.@TimBerry I loved your last post.” If it doesn’t begin with @, then everybody sees it. 
  10. Hashtags are important in all the main platforms. The best explanation is an example: When I tweet about business planning, I put #businessplan in the tweet so people searching for business planning will see it. TV shows show their hashtag on the screen on purpose. Sometimes people get together and create a hashtag just by using it a lot, so others will catch on. For example, I happen to like #goducks and #goIrish on Saturday afternoon. #debates was a popular hashtag in October. 
  11. In LinkedIn you get connected with somebody. LinkedIn updates are called updates or posts. It takes two people to connect. You and I might be connected in LinkedIn. If we are, then each of us can see the other’s updates. 
  12. In Google+ you add people to your circles. We’re all still figuring out common usage on that one. And if you like a post or update, you +1 it. Those terms are still working themselves out. 

I know I just got started. Please feel free to add more in replies. And you can check back, I’ll be adding more later. 

Now Lets Hold Both Parties Accountable for What They Do to Small Business

Those of you who were reading my blog posts four years ago might agree with me that I wrote too much about politics for a blog about small business. I hope you noticed I was quiet on politics for the 2012 election. That was on purpose. 

Now, however, with the election over, and congress divided into a Democrat-led Senate and a Republican-led House, I say let’s all — you me, our friends, families, and people we influence — join together in holding both parties responsible for what they do about taxes, brinkmanship and the fiscal cliff. 

The best thing I’ve seen about policy and small business since the election is Sarah Needleman’s WSJ.com post today, Obama Victory Brings Clarity for Small Firms. She clarifies with a simple, practical list. Taxes, fiscal cliff, government spending, access to capital, jobs, energy, and net neutrality. Nobody is saying election campaigns clarify anything all that much, but still, a lot was said. 

On taxes, for example, we know what President Obama said: raise taxes on taxable income over $250,000. I like her summary:

Whether the president succeeds will depend on whether he wins congressional approval

Amen to that. On taxes we need leadership, not talking points. Do you agree? We need people in power caring more about what’s best for the country than what’s best for their party. And I don’t know about you, but for my part, I’m not sure what’s best in this area. It’s no place for knee-jerk reactions. 

Regarding the fiscal cliff, here’s her summary: 

The so-called fiscal cliff was created last year in negotiations between Congress and Mr. Obama to lift the federal debt ceiling. It means that tax increases and deep spending cuts are set to take effect at year-end—that is, unless lawmakers and the White House can agree on a new deficit-reduction plan.

Both Democrats and Republicans have said they want to avoid much of the spending cuts, but they haven’t succeeded yet in determining how to replace them.

Wow, that’s putting it mildly. No mention of brinkmanship, posturing, and partisan politics. No mention of the very real danger that the people in charge of this put party politics ahead of what’s best for the country. Can they actually believe that crashing the economy justifies some political end. 

I say today that all of us — that’s business owners, small business, large business, and in fact all citizens — should hold the politicians accountable for their priorities. Let’s watch who does what, in detail, and call out any of them that doesn’t put the country first. That’s what they were elected to do.