Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

Social Media: Still a Mystery to Most Small Businesses

By Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about social media for business. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all new media tools that can help bolster your Internet or digital “footprint.”

You can read all about how social media is ramping up the conversation by doing a simple Google search. But the more important question small business owners want answered is how to use social media to boost sales and get the phone ringing. I call it “turning on the water faucet.” Social media for businesses should mean one thing: free tools that can strengthen your organization’s SEO (search engine optimization), help get your message out, and engage with customers and prospects.

Now these tools may be free, but the time you must spend executing the work can be extensive. A lot of writers just re-hash what’s already been written, so what I find most helpful is to share what we help clients do in the trenches every day. Below are the main barriers to using social media and why it remains a mystery, followed by how to get started and what to do first.

The barriers for most small businesses using social media are:

  • Time and education: It takes time to read and learn about the ever-changing, growing tools online, and most business owners don’t have extra time to devote to this. I hear it every day, and as a small business owner myself, I certainly understand this constraint. Small businesses have limited resources and must focus on revenue development and all that comes with running a business. Social media can help a small business tremendously, but most owners have not had time to get up to speed.
  • Lack of resources: It takes a dedicated effort to employ social media tools. Most companies can hire help, but many simply don’t have the extra resources to do so.
  • Reluctance to embrace new media: A lot of people are just flat out skeptical of social media. There are legitimate reasons to ignore it, especially if you are in a regulated industry (banking, insurance, finance, etc.), as some governing entities such as the SEC have policies against any use of social media for work. I think that will change soon, as I’m already seeing some large organizations issue new policies on social media use.
  • Generational: Most people would be surprised to know that the average age of a Twitter user is between 40 and 55. Age isn’t an excuse to avoid social tools, but it is often an explanation.

How to get started if you want to add a social media strategy to your marketing toolkit:

  • Read, read, read. There are some excellent blogs (like this one) and other resources online that can tell you all you need to know. There is no “magic wand” that will do this for you. If you really want to jump in, you have to do the reading yourself. You can hire it out of course, but the ideal results spring from the business understanding social media and embracing it, even if it means only monitoring at first. Let’s take the Judy McLellan Team for example (@JudyMacTeam on Twitter). Judy hired my firm to help with a real estate marketing and PR strategy that included the use of social tools. At first, we did some of the tweeting and posting. But now, you can find Judy out selling homes while using her iPad and iPhone to tweet and spread information about her listings.
  • Pick one tool and learn that first. For me, it’s Twitter. Once I understood Twitter, I moved on to learning about some other tools. I think by mastering one tool, small businesses can see results faster. Let’s take Cheffie’s Cafe (@Cheffies on Twitter) as the next example. We helped Cheffie’s Cafe spread the word by using Twitter, along with traditional PR during the previous few months. A good Twitter strategy is key to a successful PR campaign.
  • Look at what your competition is doing. Get online and do a little research to see what your competition is up to in the social space. Let’s take OrthoMemphis, a successful orthopaedic practice in Memphis that adopted social media long before its competition did. We have helped OrthoMemphis (@OrthoMemphis on Twitter) use social media tools to not only market their sub-specialists (knee, hips, and shoulders), but also to launch OrthoStat, its acute care walk-in clinic. Combined with direct mail, PR, and patient communications, Twitter and Facebook have been tremendously helpful.
  • Get a social media policy in place and communicate it to your organization. There are some great examples online and free resources available. I suggest any small business that wants to use social media tools have a policy in place just like a media policy. Talking online is like talking in the newspaper, and it’s important to have a strategy and know the dos and don’ts of posting online. Good examples are Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Intel. (A list of these can be found on my blog.)

The smaller the organization (or flatter), the easier it is to employ social media. Even though they may have more resources, larger companies are often more bureaucratic and have more red tape. Larger companies are also usually slower to “get it,” and we have found that companies without all the red tape can move faster and are often more decisive. Social media gives the little guys a leg up and is a great way to have a big voice online.

Conversion to Smartphones Continues

By Chuck Martin, CEO of the Mobile Future Institute, Director of the Center for Media Research at MediaPost, and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine

The trend of the move to smartphones in the U.S. continues, with penetration now reaching 30%, based on the latest data from comScore. The research firm found that 234 million Americans 13 years or older use mobile phones, with 69.5 million of them owning a smartphone.

This is not a surprise, considering the increasing capabilities of smartphones. We still expect the penetration of these devices in the U.S. to be around 50% by the end of this year. This has many implications for marketers, since the market then will be split with half owning smartphones and half not.

This of course means that half the market can use apps, and half can’t. About all can send and receive text (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) messages, and web access will increase. And then there are the platforms.

The comScore findings, based on a large sample of more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers, shows Google’s Android operating system with exactly a third (33%) market share, followed by Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry with 29% and Apple at a quarter (25%) of the market. And the apps-rich Android and Apple environments continue to gain share while RIM’s declines.

The issue for marketers here is that the behaviors of users of phones on different platforms are different, as several studies have shown. Some companies we speak with don’t even know what types of operating systems their best customers are using.

One of the key drivers of the conversion to smartphones is behavioral—the actual activities that people are doing with mobile phones. Mobile phone users are texting (69%), browsing the web (38%), using apps (37%), accessing social networks (27%), playing games (25%), and listening to music (18%), according to the comScore study. And every one of these activities increased from the previous three months. We expect these types of mobile behaviors to continue to increase as more people move to smartphones and more features and capabilities continue to be added by the mobile industry.

The consumers are there, as is the mobile industry. Still missing from the mix are many companies not yet committing the necessary resources to mobile, mobile marketing, and mobile social marketing. Is your business sitting out the mobile revolution?

Nordstrom Does Twitter Right

By David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

The other morning, I popped over to my local Nordstrom store to check out what’s new for spring. Dave Angiulo helped me choose some styling shirts that I can wear with my blue Peter Millar suit.

As we were heading to the cash register, Dave asked me if I was on Twitter. It was a very low-key, casual question. It did not feel pushy in any way. “Absolutely,” I said. “Are you?” He gave me his business card, which included his Twitter handle: @NordstromDave. Damn. I wanted to learn more.

Dave said he uses Twitter to keep his customers informed. He tweets photos of clothes he likes. Sometimes he comments on what’s happening, like this tweet on the Academy Awards: “I think my vote goes to Colin Firth for best dressed last night… or maybe Tom Hanks. Just proves again that you can’t go wrong with a classic look.”

Dave also told me that he has a bunch of clients who he sends direct messages to. He knows their tastes in clothing, and when something new comes in, he informs them, privately, right away. This real-time effort frequently generates immediate sales, as Dave already has his customers’ sizes and payment information, and he ships the items right out. Brilliant.

As I was checking out his Twitter feed upon returning to my office, I found myself fascinated by a video that Dave pointed to about Ex-Girlfriend jeans. Dave’s not too fond of them. Can’t say I blame him. His tweet read, “Not sure I’m up on this skinny jeans for men thing… slim, straight is okay, but “jeggings” for men? Video from @GMA:” Others jumped into the Twitter discussion.

This is how you use Twitter at work!

In a corporate environment where many companies fear letting employees use social networking, Nordstrom is doing it right. Yes, there is a corporate @Nordstrom Twitter account, but Dave’s personal touch is a fantastic way to use Twitter for business, pushing the interaction down to people who work directly with customers.

To be sure, this is Dave’s initiative. He’s making it happen. But the effort is fully supported by Nordstrom. Dave has access to computers and iPads at work to tweet, and he usually uses his personal iPhone for the photos.

I’ll DM @NordstromDave the next time I need something. I want to make sure he’s there before I go in.