Invest Less & Network More in BUSINESS & LIFE (SOCIAL MEDIA MADNESS)

As many of you know people, businesses, and corporations are continually looking for new ways to engage with others online and in person in order to grow personally and professionally. However, if you are like most other people and companies, you may still be wondering what are the most effective ways of creating interaction without spending days, weeks, months, or years on experimentation(s)… whether online or at social networking events? Now if you own a business you definitely should have figured out that creating a mix between your personal and professional online and in-person presence is or might be ideal? Is it or better yet… how? Well, whether you agree or not social media sites such as (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc) and networking groups such as Business Networking International (BNI) is/are very cost effective tools to help you manage your personal and professional time while promoting, branding, and providing customer service whether you are interacting online or looking to chat in-person with friends, family, or clients.
In a recent study conducted by the wonderful folks over at VerticalResponse they found that 2/3’s of all small businesses (would wager this is even higher personally) are spending more and more time, energy, and effort on social media then they did a year ago. Nice huh? Agree or disagree? Needless to say, and again whether you agree or not that’s the truth! Although we (or most of us) have all come such a long way from thinking that this “Social Media” thing would become another fad and fade into the past. Just like the typewriter, beepers, or VHS you should not give up on any of these sites and if you do consider yourself warned like swimmers at the beach “swim at your own risk” or in our case “ignore social media at your own risk.”
Now back to the survey. VerticalResponse was able to identify (462 surveyed) that small business are spending a ton of time trying to stay current, while managing these social media sites much like people in general. An astonishing 42% of those surveyed said they spent 6+ hours or even more a week on social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc) and roughly 25% admitted they spend 10+ hours or more per week on these same sites.  Does this sound like you? Although this may sound excessive to many in reality, I think these numbers are low, since I see people navigating these sites along with attending networking events much more than that! Regardless of the circumstance these numbers illustrate the importance social media is playing in business as well as our personal lives and why businesses and people are spending more time and money increasing their budgets to increase their online presence thus increasing their in-person visibility.  
For all those people and businesses out there that remain skeptical, here are a few more reasons why social media makes/will make more sense to you!
·      RELATIONSHIPS– Social Media sites such as (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc) allow you to connect with others personally and professionally, while building strong bonds, which ultimately can/could turn into better customer service, increased sales, and more opportunities whether cross-selling or up-selling. VerticalResponsefound that Facebook is still the #1 site for personal of business building (some 90% are on it), while Twitter is close behind where (some 70%) or business/people are now engaging.
·      SERVICE– These social media sites allow you to inquire about other products or services, while providing others with answers to their own questions about your products and services saving you or your business time and money, which you can allocate to other money generating activities, thus quickly adapting before not reacting after a problem may occur.
·      SIZE & COSTs– These social media sites allow you to be found and get found easier “ECONIMIES of SCALE”, while helping you spend less time and money even if you hire an outside agency to help with your campaign.
These numbers are incredible and really show that people and businesses are remaining committed to interacting with others online and in-person.  Let’s face it… who isn’t strapped for time now-a-days and looking for more ways to network, while spending a little less time talking on the phone or in person? The fact is, I run a business, contract work at FedEx, am a full-time parent, Doctoral student, etc so long story short and if I can find the time you can too! Even though Facebook and Twitter remain the top two social media sites, half of the respondents admitted they also engage with others on LinkedInwhile others mentioned that they were also on Pinterest (some 29%) and Google+(some 32%), so click on the (MY) links and let’s CONNECT to grow and learn from each other even more! If you are anything like me or if I can help you or your business please don’t hesitate to connect with me here, personally, or through any of our business networking sites; otherwise I hope you enjoyed my analysis, review, and suggestions in regards to this Infographic and until next time… KEEP SMILING as it really does look good on YOU!

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven] and a Contractor at [FedEx]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via his About.Me Page or any of his other social platforms.

5 Tips to Ask in Order to Run a Successful Social Media Campaign with Increases in ROI and Sales? Yes!

As many of you know, finding an experienced professional to assist you with anything in life can be a daunting task. Also, as many of you probably know there are so many people out there that you speak with everyday that consider themselves “experts, connoisseurs, sales guru’s, geeks” of the trade(s), etc. Well as we both know, these so called experts or what have you, don’t actually have the experience that you may often find yourself needing… good advice, that actually works or saves you money? Yes?
Needless to say, we also continue to run across these same people in our line of work (especially social media), who claim to be experts but are nothing more than users who participate in things in a limited capacity or in social media words… in the basic sites such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. So, for this week’s discussion, we thought we would provide you with a few things (5 Tips) to consider or ask when you are considering putting together a social media campaign.
1)  The very first question you should ask someone that you are considering letting them help you with your online engagement is what sites do you operate personally or for your company and could you please provide me with the links to check them out?
·    Now that you have their attention, see if they provide you with more than just a Facebook or Twitter account. It is crazy to think about but many experts stake their claim on these sites and these sites alone. However, the truth is social media didn’t start with these sites nor are they the answer to everyone’s needs. Look for people/companies that give you links to blogs and old school forums, etc. Also, look at how long they have been ACTIVELY participating in online activities, since participating for 6 months or a year or two definitely doesn’t make you an expert. Just ask Melcolm Gladwell who wrote Outliersand 60 Minutesused to run a great piece on. Think 10,000 or 10 years (well maybe not that many) but at least look for 3,000 or 3 years of activity.
2)   The second question you should ask the so-called expert you are talking to is whether or not they are familiar with or know of any restrictions in online activities for your specific needs or industry segment.
·    Let’s face it much like people would like to tell you, in online or social media activities there is not one size that fits all approach… mush like Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services, etc. Sure you can participate get quotes for all the companies or operate on all the mediums but most people/businesses should stick with 3-5 networks. A good example is our consulting practice. We consult with clients on PEO, CRM, and Wireless Devices, so these are our ideal clients (companies who offer and those who also need these services), as we know the industry extremely well and any limitations that we must consider on their behalf. However, we don’t run social media campaigns for law, pharmaceutical, alcohol, etc, as we are not familiar with these segments. Sure we could figure it out but you really want a professional or business to help in your social networking that lives, breathes, and knows the industry and more importantly, where your customers hang out!
3)   The third question you should ask your so called expert is their overall opinion (personal opinion) of the industry and how thinks might change in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
·    This is a great question, as it usually lets you know where exactly the person or company started their online activities, why, and what they are trying to accomplish on a personal level. If they say they do it cause it’s their job… RUN! However, if they start out by telling you some of the reasons they started to participate in chat forums, started their own blog, or why they originally joined MySpace or sold stuff on EBay these are more than likely the people you want to deal with, as they have a personal not just a monetary investment in social networking. Also, this should clue you in, as to what other networks that they think will be the next Facebook, much like Pinterest, FourSquare, Scoop-it, etc are becoming. The true expert lives and breathes whatever they are an expert in, so they should/will always have options for you when things are not going as well as you think they should or how they are going.
4)   The forth question you should ask is who will help develop, manage, or engage your specific audience?
·    It still amazes us how many people and businesses think that social media begins and ends with a post or the creation of a Facebook page or Blog or better yet how many likes, followers, or friends you can acquire. Shoot that is the easy part about social networking… creating the sites and adding people, what is difficult part is keeping people interested, engaged, and coming back each week (CUSTOMER SERVICE). This is often the more expensive part of social media but a good investment, if you or your company is really serious about taking the next step online and something more people/businesses should be concerned about if you are looking for that so called Return on Investment (ROI). We cannot even tell you how often we see idle accounts out there that were set-up and abandoned, even some of our client accounts. Why? Cause most of the time just like in person, people and a lot of businesses do not know how to interact with others online or what they want to accomplish even if you tell them. What is the worst that can happen? Someone de-friends, un-follows, or leaves a negative response? Rejection and acceptance are both part of life, so in order to be successful online; you have to interact with others. You cannot just develop an account(s) but you must also manage and engage, so this is a very important question to ask your expert!
5)   Finally the last question, and perhaps the most important (ROI) you have to ask is how exactly social networking will improve a person or business and the measurement scale your expert will use to claim a SUCCESS!
·    This is probably one of our favorite questions to answer because more times than not, our answer doesn’t have anything to do with likes, followers, or friends. Instead we use tools that were created for measurement such as Kred, Klout, PeerIndex,EmpireAvenue, and Google Analytics.  Of course these tools do consider your Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, ETC. accounts but remember that they also measure your level of interaction. Of course, these sites are not perfect but remember the more you interact with your friends, followers, and acquaintances, the higher your scores should go. If you are a business, these should also translate into more calls, sales, referrals, etc (ROI) plus the more you interact the more likely you are to create chatter that is positive even despite any negatives that others may have previously left.
Each week we try to take our daily personal/business conversations and translate them into the online world for others to view and use. This week is no different, as we hope that these five tips can help you decide on a person or company best suited for your online “social media” and other activities. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, so if you need any other advice, please don’t be afraid to ask us or contact David Dandaneau directly, as we are here to help. Otherwise, we will see you back here again next week, with another tip brought to you… Well, by YOU! You know the story… Keep Smiling Kidzzz!

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.


Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or (a.k.a Social Media CRM) Can Produce or Increase Sales by 12%. How so?

As many of you already know Seven Times Seven headed by David Dandaneau is (are) dedicated to bringing answers to questions in our weekly tip each week that we come across. This week is no different, as we continue to navigate (7) difficult but extremely important segments for an organizations long-term growth and survival. This week in particular, we have had a tremendous amount of inquirers into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and it’s (the systems) effect(s) on business performance & sales, which just happen to be some of the things David Dandaneau has been researching over the last 3+ years, as part of his Doctoral work. What is crazy to think about is that every day we ask clients and individuals if they are familiar with CRM? They usually respond with the answer Yes! So, why the inquires now? Next question… what system are you using and/or what are you doing with the data you collect? Much to our surprise, many of you are still using the basic CRM systems such as ACT, Capsule, etc. Why is it that more of you have not moved yet to Sugar, Salesforce, Zoho, etc. so you can collect more data and sales leads integrated with your website of blog? Well, if you are like most people a CRM system is something you probably bought or subscribed to in order to help you remain better organized and track issues (contact manager)… Yes? Well, if so let’s take a minute to look at some of the latest research trends and “statistics” in order to see if we might be able to make CRM (whatever system you use) work for you “more sales & retention”… not against you in order to produce some sort of Return On Investment (ROI).
So… What Needs are YOU looking for?
When a person or organization begins to look for a CRM provider or system, you will soon realize that there are tons “thousands it seems” of solutions available to fit almost any need, just like with Professional Employer Organizations (PEO), Mobile Solutions, or Social Media (SM). However, the one question you must ask yourself first with CRM much like the others, is what are you trying to accomplish with it (CRM) and how can you pull everything together? If you are like any normal person or organization, you should also be asking yourself what ROI will whatever system I (you) chose produce for me? The answer is simple… pick a system that allows you to retrieve information (i.e. offer white papers in exchange for contact information) and store it, so you can turn this information into leads and a resource, just like with social media… use the data to convert more inquires into sales, Yes? Also, let’s not forget to ask ourselves how can you (we) share information or help your (our) customers with the information and/or analyze the data we (you) collect with a CRM system to produce ROI?
A CRM Implementation is the most Effective way to Maintain Relationships

Just like social media or wireless device innovations (iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc), CRM (bringing systems together) should not be about what other people/businesses are doing but instead about what you and/or your personal or business needs are or in other words “what the customer wants.” With almost any PERFECT CRM implementation (on the behalf of the customer & organization), you should see customer retention and sales COSTs continue to decline overtime and organizational or personal profits increase over that extended period of time if utilized correctly. In a recent study it was found that “social” CRM or in other words social media or mobile CRM can help an organization or more importantly its sales force increase productivity and benefit by as little as +12% if used correctly. What’s more, is that this same study produced by Nucleus Research found that on average 21% of those people (organizations) or sales forces that use(d) social CRM, seen sales increases as much as 20%. Furthermore, this statistic equates to approximately 4 out of 5 companies that use/subscribe to a social CRM approach and integrate external sources such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, EmpireAvenue, etc with their CRM application(s) could expect returns (ROI) as high as 47%… crazy huh? What is even more shocking is that this particular course of action does not even take into account your mobile campaigns (25% increases), or RSS feeds through Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Etc (additional 22% increases).
So, What are you Waiting FOR?
Since the research and data points to increases in response, interaction, retention, and sales why are so many people (organizations) still reluctant to use and/or subscribe to a “Social CRM” solution? Or more importantly why are you (your team) not using mobile CRM applications “especially on your mobile” to convert leads into sales? The fact is and from our conversations, there are that still many people that still do not understand how all these systems work together or how to put all the pieces together or leave a footprint behind when meeting or following up with someone. In the Nucleus study, it was clear why; as only 16% of the 223 executives actually knew that, this was a total approach to business evolution, retention, and additional sales, which is hard to believe. Perhaps as more people turn to social media to solve customer issues left on sites such as Yelp, Google, Yahoo, etc. and by participating more in sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. more people will understand that CRM (especially mobile, as this has shown to increase productivity by +20%) should/will be an important part of their overall long-term strategy of conversing, linking, and connecting the dots (i.e. or at least a part of the solution) to increase sales.
From this short but direct post, we hope that you (your organization) realize the benefits that CRM, social media, and mobile campaigns can/will have on your overall success. As we continue to move further away from websites and more towards mobile phones, blogs, and social media for interaction, we will continue to rely upon CRM to help us stay connected to our friends, followers, and clients. If you have not yet made a decision on a social media, CRM, or mobile strategy don’t worry, as you still have time to make a decision. The important part is that you now start to think about it and about how all these systems work or can work together to help you and your team excel. Not only are these systems important to you but also to David Dandaneau, as these are large components to his research and the results that will be reported in his dissertation over the next several months. Therefore, if you would like more information or to participate in his study, please feel free to drop us a line or contact him directly by posting a comment. Otherwise, and like usual we will look forward to seeing you right back here next week with another Q&A session brought to you… well, by YOU! Cheers!

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.


How YOU can Measure your Social Media & In-Person Engagement FREE of Charge?

Within business and our personal lives, we are continually looking for ways to educate people through things such as email, social media, blog posts, associations, etc in order to show our expertise and/or leadership in the fields we consider ourselves experts in. However, even our best tips, practices, case studies, questions and answers, etc often end up leaving us with no real way to measure our successes. Or maybe not?  
 

Since our agency consults on things such as these, we thought this week we would share a few tips on some of the items, which are out now that could help you measure your online and in-person networking efforts. If you use social media to produce, content (personally or professionally) then you may or may not know about the program referred to as HootSuite. Regardless of the reasons people or companies use HootSuite the most important thing to remember about this tool is that it allows you to control, manage, and analyze multiple online social media mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, etc. The best part of this is that you can add up to five accounts for FREE or subscribe to another plan that starts around $5.99 a month and gives you access (even the FREE accounts do) to analytics such as those found in other programs like Google Analytics or Facebook Page Insights. Please study, learn, and use these analytics if you are not already, as you may be surprised at what you might find out about how your message(s) are being received by your friends, followers, and acquaintances online.
Another must have and know how in the social media or blogosphere realm, which will help you measure your social media engagement that you must learn and utilize are three very similar programs (1) Klout (2) PeerIndex, and(3) EmpireAvenue. Klout, PeerIndex, and EmpireAvenue use data from various networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Flickr, Google+, etc to measure the different amounts of influence you have on your networks or other networks that are tied to you somehow (i.e. ReTweets, Mentions, Likes, Share Purchases, etc), while giving a user and/or company a number based from 1-100. These mediums should leave a person or company with little ambiguity, as to whether their messages are being received well or not regardless of the mediums, they are using to send the message(s). In other words the higher your Klout, PeerIndex Score, or Share Price the more likely your messages are being received by your network or not.
Lastly, if you are scared on the new ways (analytics) to measure your online effectiveness or engagement of friends, followers, or acquaintances than you can use the old way(s) to judge your material and that is by looking deep into your senses and motivations for engaging users to begin with. OK, so you are asking how can you do that? Easy, if you are like us and strapped for time carry around a little notebook. When you expose something either online (social media) or in-person (personally or professionally) jot down a note when you feel something was received well and other notes when you think the opposite. At the end of a day, week, month, or year review these notes and decide what days, weeks, or months you were most successful and what exactly pleased or displeased your audience and/or audiences. This is old school but still effective even in this new digital age we find ourselves in.
Needless to say, each week we use a variety of these methods (online and in-person) to help determine what others are asking and/or might have questions about, so we can one day become the source you turn to for the advice you seek. Although this week’s tip only tips the iceberg, we can all continue to analyze and melt the ice, along with our works online or in-person in order to tailor our messages to meet the needs of those who seek our advice. Thanks for stopping by, don’t be afraid to speak out to us anytime from anywhere, and we will look forward to seeing you right back here next week with another tip, brought to you… well… by YOU! Until then and as usual, KEEP SMILING

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.


Simplify your Time & Processes with a Google Gmail Account

Over the last few months, we have continued to preach the importance to our clients of staying up-to-date with all the industry trends either by using social media, networking, subscribing to industry newsletters, or by being the industry news letter. However, we also understand that this can be a very time-consuming process, so we wanted to provide our readers and clients with a few easy to understand and implemental tips online in order to save you time and more importantly money, while reaching even more people.

  • If you haven’t figured this out yet, Google is slowly emerging as the industry leader in several different (working together) segments, which should/will allow you more access to data, find people, services, and businesses and/or better yet them to find YOU easier! Needless to say, if you haven’t already… you should take the time to set up a Google (Gmail account) to start your own Blog (Blogspot), subscribe to Google Alerts, AdSence, Google+, etc, which will allow you to track trends and competition, while reaching everyone else who is already using these tools and/or social mediums.
  • With your Gmail address, (if you haven’t already… start a Blog), while subscribing to other social media sites such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc, in order to submit your posts and to reach more people and/or business through RSS feeds. What is good about this method is that all correspondence(s) will be going to one email (personal or company) address yourcompany@gmail.com.
  • Most importantly after you find industry or personal specific news sources, link these directly to your smartphone (that’s if you have one) through apps such as TipB, Pulse, Blogspot, etc. so you consistently train yourself to relay/share important information (i.e. position you/yourself/company as the Industry Leader).
Of course, this is only the TIP of the iceberg, albeit an important one. Therefore, if you would like additional tips, make sure to join us back here next week or if you cannot wait another seven days for Seven Times Seven Tip of the Week, make sure to reach out to us directly via phone, email, or social media and we would be happy to try and guide you in the right direction. Until next time… keep smiling, as it really does look good on YOU!

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.