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.

B2C & B2B Social Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc) Universe Revealed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Over the last several years, online networking  sites such as  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc have continued to flourish in both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) environments, which has allowed people and companies of all sizes to communicate more effectively, while driving additional traffic that can generate more leads and certainly more sales. However, social media networking can be rather tricky and often fails if you or your company do/does not plan properly or if you do not have a solid social strategy in place to market yourself or brand for communication and monitoring of all B2C and B2B activities.

Not to worry because if you don’t have a lot of time to figure things out our friends at Marketo have put together a detailed Infographic, which can help you understand the B2C/B2B social media universe detailed below.
Of course, we also help businesses understand this unique beast, so if you have questions, please drop us a line or contact us through any of our social media networks and we will be glad to help. Otherwise, thanks for stopping by and happy networking!

(Source: MarketoB2B image via Shutterstock)

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.


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.


The New Era of Media brought to us Courtesy of Social Media!

In this new era of “Social Media” a question that is often proposed amongst friends, business professionals, and entrepreneurs is what if anything social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, EmpireAvenue, FourSquare, etc do to enhance their lives and/or brand?
Well if telling you Facebook has now taken over as the third largest country and the other social media platforms are continuing to redefine communication isn’t enough… then just take a look at who in your past (personal and professionally) you have reconnected with, some of the revolutions and events (Middle East and Occupy WallStreet movements), and other things in this landscape are continuing to change the world we now live in. Let’s face it, some if not all of these events should clue anyone in on the power and impact that these platforms can have on you, your friends, and/or the brand you (they) represent. Now the question becomes should you wait until everyone else joins suit or embrace these new advancements now?
We concur on the latter and encourage all of our friends, followers, and readers to also embrace the new online Web environment in order to take opportunity of the things that you or your company might not once had the chance to. By using these new social media sites, you cannot only leave footprints of your legacy but you can also create a legacy for your company that once was only provided to privileged individuals and businesses. Granted we can all see that there are many footprints already created and there is a fierce amount of competition. However, the truth is social media is in its infant stages as media was when it started in the silent film era and if harnessed correctly now can produce phenomenal results for you and/or your business later (planting seeds). Needless to say, if you want to leave a footprint (again either personally or professionally) then you have to be able to stand out and choose the most important medians.
Now the question is… how do you choose the right social media to relay your message(s)? One thing is certain and that is just because the Facebook nation is a country of its own you need to do more than have a personal Facebook page, build a Fan Page, or post comments on sites that often do not help you promote yourself or leave appropriate footprints behind online. Okay, we agree you need a Facebook presence and post comments but those in their self is not the answer to all you personal or business legacies. What sites are important to your personal and company legacy are also sites such as Twitter, YouTube, FourSqaure, and Empire Avenue. Why? Well, it’s simple with the algorithms that search engines such as Googleand Bing use to help you get found by friends and businesses online, social media sites such as these use similar algorithms to help you and/or your business leave the footprints necessary to also be found or in other words… increase your search results. However, it is also important to remember that since social media is still in its infant stages, you should expect or anticipate interpreting the data more qualitatively versus quantitatively. There are a couple of reasons for this such as your willingness to invest in financial resources to help or your ability to use other software to find and connect with others you know or have known in the past. The one thing that is certain with almost all social media sites is that the more you communicate with others in these settings the more you can expect to have your message/messages relayed throughout other individual or business networks, hence increasing you or your businesses exposure. Despite the shortcomings or vagueness of social media one thing is certain with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc and that is likes, friends, views, followers, connections, and investments in you or your company through these sites should provide you and/or your company with true quantitative results. That is if you or your business fan base increases you should benefit in some way financially, in increased exposure, or increased search ranking or even better… all of the above. Remember that in order to be found you have to provide information that in itself is easily found on multiple platforms, which social media sites can provide for you and/or your business.
In the end for those people and companies that choose to further monetize their social media networking, keep in mind that your keys to success will ultimately depend on your ability to analyze, interpret, and make decisions based off your qualitative data (posts) that your online network can provide you access to… not just what social media sites you belong to. We like to consider or look at this as a way that people regardless of their geography can work together to achieve more in this new era of social media communications or in the academic sense a mixed methods research analysis both quantitative and qualitative. Of course, we are a consulting company and work with our clients on all the social media sites mentioned in this paper and many more social media medians not mentioned (i.e. others will be discussed soon). Therefore, if you would like to have a personal conversation about how we can help you and/or your business understand this complex and dynamic operating environment, so you or your company can start leaving footprints, please feel free to send us an email or give us a call, as we would like to hear from you. Additionally, other opinions and posts are welcomed here, since understanding issues and finding solutions is a team effort. Until next time remember to keep smiling, networking, and creating connections that we all can benefit from in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

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.