Archives for May 2012

Social media marketing and influence

Orchids - a welcome distraction from on-line posting

Too much information

We all get deluged with everyone’s ideas of how to use social media for marketing, with many emails from various “experts” telling us what to do. We can all use tips, but there is no clear template which will work for all of us. We all have different businesses, different needs and different products and services. We have to experiment to find what works for us.

Of course there are “tools” we can use, but I doubt they have much value because they are limited in what they can measure.

Twitter takes a holiday

At the beginning of this month my wife and I took a break and had a week away. Broadband was limited where we were staying but anyway I hardly wanted to tweet about every view and every meal or say what a good time we had looking at orchids because we were just looking to chill out. If you visit Jersey I recommend a visit.  However, my Klout score fell because it only measures activity and if we are not tweeting or posting to Facebook or another network, as far as Klout is concerned we are not influencing anyone.

Klout purports to measure influence, but actually it only measures the number of times we pop up, mainly on Twitter and Facebook. If we are walking along the street when someone starts jumping up and down saying “hey, look at me” we might look at them once, but unless the person has something really interesting to say both then and every time we see them, we are hardly going to be influenced by them otherwise than to avoid them in the future. So sorry, Klout, but you are not much help. I will keep my account but mark your report “could do better” in the hope that you will.

Going unpunished

Then there is PeerIndex. PeerIndex didn’t punish me for going on holiday. We can register our websites and blogs and it measures inbound links to them . What it cannot measure is the actual number of hits we get, our bounce rate, what people think of our material and how often, if ever, they come back. So PeerIndex is more rounded in terms of measurement of our internet spread, but it doesn’t help with the influence bit. However I can compare my activity more reasonably with that of people I know and respect.

Games people play

I think PeerIndex is a better attempt than Klout in measuring real effort in social media and web marketing, but that is as far as it goes. I can give it a B+ compared with Klout’s C-.

The only way we can really gauge our on-line marketing efforts is through enquiries from prospective customers; both the number and the quality. Ultimately the real measure is in sales. It is up to us to experiment and change to see what works and what doesn’t. We shouldn’t rely on crude measures, though they are an interesting game and I sort of like PeerIndex because the thinking behind what they do shows more awareness of what people like to know.

What do you find useful? And talking of games, whatever happened to Empire Avenue? Does anyone still play it?


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Lucky or what?


Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook by Elaine Chan and Priscilla Chan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucky, lucky, lucky

In business as in so many contexts, we hear others say “Some people have all the luck”. Well, is that so? Are some people just lucky or is it something else? What is luck? Is it all pure chance?


I am writing the week after Chelsea won the Champions League, which to the uninitiated is the European (Soccer) Club Tournament. Pundits and fans of other clubs, including those defeated by Chelsea, have said that Chelsea were not good enough to win the competition. A lot of this criticism has emanated from the club’s ultra-defensive approach.

So apparently Chelsea have been lucky to defeat and get past the following clubs: Valencia, Napoli, Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich? Can a football team be that lucky? I don’t think so. Especially in the latter stages of the competition it was all about management and planning. Oh yes, and hard work.

Riding the wave

Is Mark Zuckerberg lucky? He is a multi-billionaire following the recent public offering of Facebook shares. Was he lucky because he had an idea? No, he had an idea and saw a demand. He developed his website, he rolled it out from Harvard to other colleges and universities. He adapted what had become a business. He and his partners thought on their feet. They got investment when they thought they needed it.

Heaven knows how many internet businesses have tried and failed because they didn’t look for an investor or finance when they were still on the crest of a wave.

The Facebook gang worked on their business. They understood the demand. They are phenomenally successful, but they are not lucky. Winning the lottery is lucky. Knowing how to ride their particular wave was not luck.

No excuse

We all have different talents with which to run our particular businesses. We are not successful through luck. We succeed through working hard, making the right business decisions, and getting help when we need it, whether that be advice, hands-on assistance or finance.

Saying someone is lucky in business can be an excuse for our own failings, but an excuse is not a reason. Success is in our own hands, isn’t it?

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Deserving of our full attention

On our recent travels we have had our peace disturbed by people who are unable to resist talking and texting on their mobile / cell phones in public places and especially in restaurants. Call me old-fashioned (did I say that?) but I don’t like to have my breakfast interrupted by people yelling (why do so many have to bellow). Then there is all that texting by inconsiderate individuals who haven’t turned their beeps off.

The real issue is one of respect for one’s fellow human beings. Especially if we are having a meal with others or in a business meeting it is disrespectful when some suddenly answer their phones or feel compelled to look at or send a message. Yes, we are all connected now but that also means that voice and text messages are saved until it is polite to check them.

If we are sufficiently dexterous to take meeting notes on our smart-phone then by all means we can use it for that purpose. Otherwise, keep it in our pocket or bag and give proper attention to those we are with. It is seldom that we will have a more pressing need than that.

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Selling yourself short


At Greve de Lecq, Jersey


As I said the other day, restaurants so often show the best and worst examples of how to do business, all in an hour or so.

On our recent trip away, my wife and I visited another bar-restaurant for lunch, looking for a snack to leave plenty of room for dinner later. My wife ordered squid and I ordered a steak sandwich. A steak sandwich is rather more than a snack you might think, but it was priced at £6.95 which is about US $11 at the time of writing. At that price I thought it would be only a small snack-sized sandwich, but when my dish arrived it consited of an absolutely enormous steak with fries, an excellent dressed salad and Dijon mustard, plus a long bread roll. The squid dish was of very generous proportion too.

The meal was delicious, but it was a really big meal. On those grounds I would absolutely recommend the restaurant, so please ask if you are going to Jersey. (Channel Islands, not USA).

Don’t be too cheap

So what is the problem? Well, none for me except I had no room left for dinner, but for a meal of that quality and size I would have paid twice as much, especially to eat it in that setting. The problem is that the restaurant owners are not valuing themselves and their business highly enough. At the price they sell their food, their margins surely cannot be great, yet they could make far greater profit selling quality food in good surroundings and still have very happy customers.

The race to the bottom and staying on top

In terms of competition so many businesses compete in the race to the bottom on price, when often if they checked properly, they are not comparing like with like. If you have a great product or service you really should sell it on its true value to the customer. You can make yourself more money which you deserve for your hard work, and if you feel really guilty about making a good profit (and no one should) you can reward your employees better too, so everyone will be happy.

Have you sold yourself short in the past?

Doing far too much not well enough


"Spaghetti alla chitarra" and Bologn...

Photo courtesy of "OneArmedMan" via Wikipaedia

Riding for a fall

My wife and I have been away recently, which has meant eating in restaurants rather more than we usually do. I love restaurant watching. So often one can see in a very short time the very best business practices and some of the worst.

We ate in a hotel several times. The first time the food and service was really quite good. The second and third times were really less than successful. After the second, maybe we shouldn’t have dined there a third time, but circumstances rather meant that we had to.

What’s cooking?

The third time of dining the menu was fairly unappealing but we tried to pick our way through. My wife’s starter was good but then it was plainly Waitrose’s finest lemon sole goujons so I would expect it to be. My starter was spaghetti bolognese. At least it was supposed to be. It was really only beef mince in a not very nice gravy on a bit of spaghetti. If either my wife or I had produced such a poor “spag bol” for the other, words would certainly have been said. Maybe we should have volunteered to take over in the kitchen.

Two of our party ordered trout. It was dried out and burned round the edges. Whether it had come out of the pan like that or just sat on very hot dinner plates for too long before being delivered I have no idea, but the dishes were not fit for purpose. When we complained about the fish and the menu we were told that we could have ordered from an “a la carte” menu which we had no idea existed because the waiters never mentioned it. It was nowhere to be seen in the restaurant.

Run too fast, fly too high

However, the main problem was the kitchen. The chef might be quite capable but is trying to do everything on his own. He cheats with the goujons. He can’t watch the trout, which should have had his total attention while it was cooked, plated and out of the kitchen. There is simply too much to do and he fails. He probably couldn’t have coped with the “a la carte” menu anyway.

This is all too often the way many small businesses fail. They try to do too much without the resources to do anything properly.

I subcontract quite a lot. I decline to do quite a lot of work I am asked to do because it is not valuable or cost-effective and because someone else would do it better than I. In my business we do what we are good at and so that we can provide the best service. That is what most of us in business do, don’t we?

Do you see businesses who are under-resourced and overstretched? If you can’t stand the heat…

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No thanks to me!


Having been at the networking game both on-line and off-line for nearly a decade, I know a lot of people, some of them really quite well. Because it is how this networking thing works, I connect my friends and acquaintances to people they need to speak to, depending on their needs. I expect you do too?

Help! I need somebody

Now and again I have people come to me with an urgent need for advice which is not tax or business advice within my own expertise. It might be concerning an investment or finance requirements or whether I know someone who could advise on the latest news in a particular sector of industry.

If I have helped someone I may well have generated business for a friend, and it will always be the person / business owner who is the best one for the job or project. Recently I gave someone a good referral which will generate ongoing business for them. I don’t work on commission of course since it could cloud my judgement. It is too uncomfortable anyway. However my friend, being the good guy he is, took the time to thank me. No problem of course. He does a great job for me so he will do a great job for the person who asked me to help.


Casting a shadow

Thankless tasks

However, recently several people who have asked me who I think is the best person to help them have been silent when I have emailed back the names and contact details of their ideal match for the requirement. I have not heard from them again either via email or telephone. How long does it take to thank someone? I always try to express my gratitude when I get help. Most people do. Apparently some people don’t. It rather casts a shadow over trying to help.


The trouble is that I lose trust in those who don’t thank me. I begin to think they are unreliable. They might have been the people I would recommend next time I was asked to suggest a business owner who could help one of my networking friends. Ultimately, by not thanking me they may lose out on lucrative work.

Saying “thank you” is something we are taught by our parents and elders when we are very small. It should not be easy to forget. When someone thanks me I get a good feeling. I like to give that feeling to others. Do you lose faith in those who don’t take the trouble to thank you?

Being too sure of yourself

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Seven Deadly Sin...

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Seven Deadly Sins or the Seven Vices - Pride (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have worked hard to be where we are. We have tried to learn all the demands of the business we are in. We keep ourselves up to date with every bit of news in our industry, every change in the law which may affect us or our customers and every social media tip to advance our business and help those customers.

We might think we know it all, and (warning, cliché alert) we have got the tee-shirt. But we don’t know it all.

It is all to easy to tell our customers and clients what to do to fit in with us and what we think is right, but we need to listen to them first. Unless we listen, we don’t know what they have to tell us which ought to affect what we need to advise them about. For many small business service providers, listening to customers’ problems helps us know what they need, and therefore helps us make the sale.

Arrogance is a sin in business; a step beyond Pride, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Humility when helping those who provide our business income is a handy virtue.

Have you been on the wrong end of someone else’s arrogance?

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