How do you like your steak?

grilled-steak-sandwich2If you’re business owner, and wondering what you want from social media, you could always think of how you like your meat grilled. Let me tell you a little story to explain.

The good old Kiwi summer

Summers in New Zealand are synonymous with sun, swimming, and sizzling barbecues. My childhood summers were typical of any other 1980′s kiwi kid; playing gutterball and bullrush, eating Mr Whippy ice creams after chasing the truck around the block, and playing cricket in front of a rubbish bin with every other child on the street.

Everyone knew their neighbours, so backyard barbies were common, with each family taking a turn hosting. Whenever it was our turn, my parents would scorch each piece of meat to within an inch of it’s life, and never cooked steak any other way.

In turn, that was how I thought meat should be cooked, and I never thought anything of it until I got older. My first job was washing dishes at the local steakhouse, and after a week of working there, they offered me my first staff lunch (steak & chips). When I told them them I wanted it well done, they looked at me like I committed a criminal offense. I then proceeded to be given a lesson on the different degrees of cooking steak.

I didn’t quite understand it fully at that time, but a few years later I got a job as a chef; the amount of times that a customer argued the steak was over/under cooked was astonishing. It took me a while to understand that how you have steak is a matter of personal preference and choice, and at the end of the day, the person that has the most control is the one doing the cooking.

Have it your way

Deciding how to use social media for business is a lot like choosing how to cook your steak. Do you just want to dabble and use a bit of Facebook and Twitter? Then you’ll just want the 2-3 minute, rare steak. If you really want to get something to dig your teeth into, and try a whole heap of tools that social media has to offer, you better give your steak an extra 4 minutes on each side.

There is no right or wrong way; social media is your steak to cook as you please. The main thing is that you enjoy it when it’s done.

What’s your recipe for success with social media?

 

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Beat your competition

competitionThe internet has made our world smaller, and your competition could be on another continent rather than just down the road. This makes it even more difficult to differentiate your business in the marketplace.

As I’ve said before, any business owner in this day and age needs to acknowledge the importance of social media as a key area for it’s success. The phrase Enterprise 2.0 was coined to describe the use of social media (Web 2.0) in a business enterprise.  In this blog post, I’ll attempt to help you decide which social media tools are the most suitable for your enterprise.

Some business leaders have tried to explain which tools are best aligned with your business strategy and culture by defining it in detail.

McAfee uses the SLATES acronym to try and provide a framework of components:

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Then Dion Hinchcliffe further expanded it with the FLATNESS acronym:

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Confused? So was I…

4csI personally prefer the Niall Cook’s simple concept of the 4 C’s

  1. Communication – The best communication methods are unambiguous, and allow the user to choose their personal preference. Make sure you have a combination of oral, written, and visual methods to encourage conversation. Some examples are blogs, discussion forums and instant messaging.
  2. Co-operation – The use of technologies such as tagging, RSS , syndication or social networking will allow users to share information amongst themselves and others, therefore reaching a larger audience.
  3. Collaboration – Group interaction and shared ideas creates a sense of teamwork, results in greater resources, and promotes diverse knowledge. The most well known collaboration website is Wikipedia. You could also employ outsourcing.
  4. Connection – Create a feeling of community and encourage people to buy-in to your business and the content you share. The use of social bookmarking or media sharing will help you with this.

What are your thoughts? Will using the 4 C’s be of any benefit to you?

 

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Social camper

camping-near-the-lake-background-wallpaperThis morning I’ve packed up a whole heap of gear, and am ready for a weekend of camping in the beautiful, sunny Northland. I’m noticing a few similarities between camping and social media, and have compiled a short list which might help anyone new to using this technology to promote their business.

  1. Hold your horses – Ever been camping and forgotten a key component (for example, the pegs to hold the tent to the ground, or mugs for your morning cuppa)? I have, and I know that if I just took my time, I probably wouldn’t have forgotten anything. Same goes for social media! You can’t rush getting ready or setting up – take your time to develop the right strategic and tactical plans.
  2. Four seasons in one day – Fellow Aucklander’s will know exactly what I mean. The weather is so unpredictable, and you’ll never know what to expect; and rain, cold or wind can come along at anytime to uproot your tent. In social media, its no different. You’ll have happy, sunny days, and when things go wrong, proverbial storms can and will happen. Be prepared for it!
  3. Don’t forgot your insect repellent – There will be many things that’ll bug you, both literally and figuratively. In the real world, there’s mosquitoes and sandflies. In the digital world, you’ll be sure to come across people that will use social media as a way to complain, annoy or spam the pants off you.
  4. The never-ending story - On a campsite, you are ALWAYS doing something: unpacking, setting up the tent, preparing meals, cleaning up… the work never ends. To keep your audience engaged, you’ll have to create new content, monitor activity, and get feedback by encouraging conversation on a regular basis.
  5. Always look on the bright side of life – whether you’re sitting around a fire at the end of long day, or enjoying the successes of a social media campaign, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for all of your hard work.

What has been your experience with camping? Do you have any other points you’d like to share?

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Growing your business

small-plant-in-handsI sometimes like to brag about how I had owned a first generation Iphone a full year before it’s New Zealand release. Ever since that day I’ve become obsessed with smartphones. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Stop reading for a moment and take a look around. Try and see if you can find someone NOT holding on to one for dear life.

The Smartphone Revolution

3G mobile technology changed the way mobiles are being utilised. Nowadays, I access 90% of my media using this device – newspapers, radio, magazines, tv, videos (the list is endless) are literally, always in the palm of my hands.

A chart tweeted by Flurry show that people who own mobile devices spend 86% of their time on them; research indicates that in just four years, 90% of us will have one. These changes mean that businesses need to welcome this technology with open arms, or risk losing a huge market share. You can read here how New Zealand’s largest retailer The Warehouse has adapted to this.

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The Apps Market

Mobile apps are the current flavour of the month, with some spending over 2 hours per day on them. If you’re not sure what they are, it’s like a mini computer program that you download onto your phone for direct access whenever you want to use it. They allow you to facilitate relationships, are cost effective, and allows you to create a virtual office.

Business owners would be wise to jump on the app train now.

Not sure how? Kaplan’s ’4 I’s of social media’ concept puts it nicely:

  1. Integration. Know your users – apps that the user finds useful or adds value will tend to be used on a daily basis (and will keep users coming back).
  2. Individualisation. Personalise your service – apps enable you to create focused marketing campaigns to localise and reach your target market.
  3. Involvement. Engage with your customers – apps that encourage interaction will keep them interested.
  4. Initiation. Create a buzz – apps still need to be able to generate word of mouth communication to reach even more people.

What do you think? Are apps the most effective way to reach consumers now?

Related:

Read the rest of Kaplan’s journal article in this issue of Business Horizons

Understanding mobile consumer behaviour

Why your business needs to be found on mobile devices

 

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Social media and small businesses

Social-MediaThe majority of NZ’s businesses are small to medium sized companies. My husband is one of those entrepreneurs, and has been for the past 7 years. He started off as a one-man-band, and now has 5 employees working for him. He has done this without the help of the internet – he doesn’t even have a website, and gets all of his business via word of mouth.

While I’m very proud of the growth he’s had, I know that he’ll get left behind if he doesn’t start utilising the power of social media to further his prospects. Now, it’s easy for me to understand the benefits of using social media, but I had trouble trying to explain myself to him.

Luckily, I found this video by a company called Common Craft that did the work for me.

Once he got it, he then tried to say that social media was no use because he was too small of a business to matter. But that’s the great thing about social media – it is still a fairly new platform for businesses to use, so everyone is pretty much on an even playing field.

It’s not the number of likes or shares you have that validates your ideas. Having 15 followers doesn’t make you any less valuable than a business with 10,000 followers – all it means is that they are getting more attention by being more social!

Everyone started off at zero, so don’t be afraid to get your voice out there!

Have you ever felt intimidated by social media? Comment below.

Related:

New Zealand Herald’s view on this topic

Do’s & dont’s of social media for business

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Web 1.0 and 2.0: evolution, not creation.

Evolution-des-wissensI was listening to the radio the other day, and Katy Perry’s hit song Roar was on. As I was listening to her lyrics, it got me thinking about social media. Huh, you say? Keep reading to find out what I mean.

Social media – what is it?

If you type the above phrase into Google, you’ll be greeted with over 3.2 billion results. Based on that it’s clear that people are unsure of social media’s ‘correct’ definition, and that it means many things to many people. There are a few names that are almost always associated with social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are a few, but there is definitely a heck of a lot more to it.

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, so I sat quietly…

The advent of the internet (Web 1.0) was the start of it all. In the early 1990’s web pages started popping up, but they were very one-sided. Jonathan Strickland came up with these simple points to define Web 1.0:

  1.        Static pages: Updating your status, bio, or profile pic was a big no-go; the information on the webpage never changed.
  2.        No interaction: Visiting the site and wanting to comment, like or share? Forget it.
  3.        Proprietary applications: Software available to consumers was in a ‘sold as-is’ condition, you couldn’t change it or even see the back end.

You held me down, but I got up… I’ve had enough!

The evolution of the internet began when people wanted to have their voices heard. No longer content with watching from the sidelines, they wanted to be able to contribute, share and exchange ideas, information, and content. What better platform to use for this than the world wide web?

Enter: Web 2.0.

This e-book by Roger McHaney says that social media and Web 2.0 are one in the same. It goes on to say that the picture people have of Web 2.0 as being an upgrade to the programming of the internet is wrong; it instead refers to the way the Web is being utilised by people.

Just in case I didn’t explain that very well – there is nothing new about Web 2.0. It was not created, it was a transformation of Web 1.0. Social media is a (large) part of Web 2.0.

And you’re gonna hear me roar

Social media is all about communicating. Even though it’s in a digital setting, it’s still the same thing – it allows open dialogue. It’s about having conversations, and building Social media chartrelationships, and staying in touch with others. It’s a way of networking, connecting, and sharing information.

I went from zero, to my own hero

So, in plain english – any website or application which allows you to interact with it, and any other visitor to that page, is social media. I mentioned in this post that social media is a way of life for some. For the rest of us, the internet is a way of life. Pulling the plug on that would mean the end of limitless socialisation, information and entertainment.

Web 2.0, please take a bow.

See also:

Internet history

A cool infographic of this history can be found here

Never even heard of Katy Perry or her song? Watch it below:

Continue reading

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Electronic relationships

einsteinThe great Albert Einstein once said:

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

Even though social media has only been around for the last decade, it has become so integrated in our society that it has become a way of life for some. It has changed people, business and the way people interact and communicate forever.

It has even wormed it’s way into government affairs – did you know that Barack Obama is one of the top 10 followed people on Twitter? He has also actively used YouTube and Facebook as a strategic way to campaign his stance on political issues.

Things will never be the same. I mean, think about it. In Einstein’s day, the telephone had only just been invented, and you still had to make an effort to make a social call. Carriage rides on muddy roads, and days on end of travelling by foot were still the norm.

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Since the advancement of the internet, the entire world (and most of the people in it) are literally at your fingertips. We have the ability to connect with hundreds, if not thousands of people at the touch of a button.

The downside of social media

I sometimes view the digital natives of today as being antisocial and lazy – spending far too much time glued to their smartphone or tablet screens, constantly clicking away at whatever device is set in front of them, and missing out on what’s actually happening in the real world.

Unfortunately, this has some negative implications; If 90% of communication is based on non-verbal cues, what else are they failing to perceive? Will they have the skills to develop relationships offline? How will they handle public speaking? Will they even be able to hold a normal conversation?

Choosing-the-best-social-platform-for-your-company-21So let me ask you:

Is our society really ready to embrace social media and all of its effects? Or are we just lambs to the slaughter? Comment below.

 

 

 

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New beginnings, new challenges

So this is my first (ever!) blog post, on a brand spanking new website, and for the last 48 hours all I have asked myself is:

How do I begin?

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To those that know me, the fact that I’m not sure what to say does not come as much of a surprise.  I was always taught to maintain the status quo, and to keep my opinions to myself. Needless to say, I don’t think I’m fully prepared for this modern tool called blogging.

Well, then why am I doing this, you ask..?

It’s all part of an assignment I’m doing for one of my university papers – I’ve been asked to share my views on the world of social media and how it affects the way we do business nowadays.

So, welcome to my blog. I’d love for you to join me on my journey into this scary, intimidating, and unchartered territory of expressing my thoughts, and I’ll attempt to keep you interested along the way. Looking forward to any comments and feedback you may have.

Enjoy!

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