Category Archives: Content Marketing

Five Crowd-Sourcing Lessons Learned from a Retail Business Moving its Shop Location

Manuka Wholefoods is a remarkable little shop owned by a family of New Zealanders living in Chichester (West Sussex) in the southern part of the United Kingdom.  Manuka Wholefoods retails a full array of organic products such as grocery, dairy products, fruit and veggies, skin and body care, nutritional supplements and organic wines.
 
For personal reasons, the Manuka Wholefoods business owners had to travel right before relocating their shop within Chichester.  Beyond the traditional emails sent to their customer database, the on-site working crew, led by highly capable and motivated Shop Manager Claire Burgess, decided to give customers a little map-flyer helping them to visualize the new location.
 
1. First, start the crowd-sourcing project within your own team
.
Creating a readable map everybody could understand turned out to be a challenge. Claire could have printed out the typical Google map, had it photocopied and “voila, here you go customers, take it or leave it!  But insightful Claire Burgess wanted to go a step further. She decided that not only should customers understand and be able to read her map, but more importantly customers should be able to visualize the new shop location.  In order to create the best possible drawing, Claire first sought advice from her own team.  By doing so, she enthusiastically included them in the project while gaining their motivation and support.  
 
2. Crowd-source with own employees for personnel engagement and motivation
 
The three Manuka Wholefoods team members had different views and expectations on what the map should look like.  After briefly conferring with each other, they all decided to try out a Google version.  At that time, the Google map seemed the logical choice since the team could perfectly understand the directions from the old location to the new. 
 
3. Test your idea and ask for genuine feedback from your crowd
 
Claire Burgess went one step further.  She started showing the map to her customers, and asked them if they could visualize and understand where the shop was going?  Although 80% of Manuka Wholefoods’ customer base is from Chichester, most of the customers to whom the map was shown had genuine difficulties reading it and understanding where the shop was moving to.  Claire’s team realized that many of their customers did not know the street names or names of the city landmarks.  The team had to pause and accept the fact that the map they created and perceived as logical and easy to follow, came across to the majority of their customers as confusing.  The quintessential lesson they learned was the fact that they did not find out until they genuinely started to ask.
 
4. You miss the point if your business gets it, but your “crowd” or customers don’t
 
Manuka Wholefoods’ sales team started asking customers for suggestions.  It became clearer that a readable map would have to be made from scratch.  Unneeded street names were removed.  Thanks to the help of many customers, the map became a crowd-manufactured effort featuring four arrows originating from the former shop and ending at the new location.  The customers preferred a map overview with directions along the main roads rather than the most direct route along unfamiliar streets. Furthermore, customers then requested that it would help if pictures of known landmarks and shops could be added to the map to create a complete visual of the new location.
 
ManukaWholefoods is moving-medium 
5. Assume nothing and get your crowd’s attention
 
Although posters announcing the move were strategically placed, these seemed to be of little use unless pointed out to customers. In this day and age, we are all busy, preoccupied and in a rush.  We see but do not read; we hear but do not listen! That’s
why folks, with any message you want to communicate, you’ve got to get people’s attention.  We all are creatures of habit. We often overestimate the relevance of a message by genuinely assuming that people are interested. 
 
Once the map had been finalized, 750 copies were personally given out by Claire Burgess and her team.  Furthermore Manuka Wholefoods will have to distribute additional flyers to encourage its customers to create new shopping habits. How many customers will forget and realize that the location has changed when suddenly faced with the old empty shop?  Over the next three to six months, Manuka Wholefoods will have to remind, coach and reward customers for having adjusted to a major change:  shopping at its new location.
 
What is your crowd-sourcing experience as a business owner?  What are some of the lessons you’ve had the chance to learn? I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions:  Until next time, I wish you all a successful week. 

 

(Part 2/2) Twenty Content Curation Tools For Your Inbound and Content Marketing Strategy

More curation tools will pop up as the staggering amount of data we produce increases.  Last month, in his article: “We are on track for 518% global growth this half-century,” Ross Dawson reports how the global economy has grown by 60.6% Bruno's.Curating.Tools.02from 2000 to 2012.  Consumerization of IT, mobile technology and broadband internet access give each of us the technical potential to become a media publishing house.  Blogging, vlogging and digital photography are three ways million of bloggers are contributing to the onslaught of digital information.  I remember my first 386 PC with the luxury of a “huge” four megabyte of RAM (Random Access Memory) and 45 megabyte of hard-disk.   À propos, twenty five years later, Yahoo’s Flickr offers one free terabyte of data storage to every account owner.  What an amazing technological step forward!   
 
Yesterday, we reviewed thirteen curation tools so let’s move on to the second part of the list.
 
14. Spundge
 
I recently read Christina Walker’s article “Best Content Curation Tools for Entrepreneurs and SMBs, and discovered a comment made by gregarious Facebook Queen Mari Smith mentioning SpundgeSpundge is a platform that helps curate information, collaborate and create new content.  I have already opened an account and this far, I am very positive about it, thanks to Mari’s recommendation.  
 
15. Paper.li
 
Paper.li is an interesting and somewhat serendipitous way to curate information.  As a publisher, you have the choice between Twitter accounts, RSS feeds, Google + sources of information.  You are not limited to one paper, but the consistency of the quality content cannot be guaranteed since the algorithm selects most bits and pieces for you while automating Paper.li‘s daily publishing.
 
16. Scoop.it
 
I don’t scoop a great deal of articles but Scoop.it is a great way to aggregate relevant information.  Search out the “Scoopers” who aggregate your topics of interest, and just start following them,   This will give you additional ammunition for your content marketing strategy and additional information for your Twitter followers.  
www.brunogebarski.com
http://www.brunogebarski.com
17. Alltop
 
Guy Kawasaki created Alltop  a few years ago.  Alltop  is a platform that helps you personify your news-feed.  I use Alltop as a dashboard for local and international news from my favorite British, American, French and German newspapers.  Thanks to a great website layout, Alltop gives you an overview by just hovering the mouse over each headline.  This is an ideal way to catch up with the news without having to open every single link.  Unfortunately, the choice of topics is limited.   
 
18. Pinterest
 
Pinterest is the new social media kid in town and my favorite platform for infographics, video and images aggregating.  
 
19. LikeHack
 
LikeHack is a fairly new content curation tool that assist busy people aggregating relevant stories based on your topics of interest.  
 
20. If This Then That
 
At first sight, If This Then That (IFTTT) might not come across as a very “flashy” tool.  It does take a little bit of tweaking and getting used to it, but don’t underestimate this powerful tool and do invest time into getting to know it.  You will be very grateful because your invested time will surely pay off.  Under its hood, If This Then That  hides hundreds of possible recipes/combinations that can trigger all sort of commands combining more than fifty social networks such as Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Diigo, Evernote, Feedly and Youtube in so many ways:
Image Credit: www.ifttt.com
Image Credit: http://www.ifttt.com
Here are two personal examples of how  I use If This Then That
–        File every single tweet I make via Buffer to my Evernote account
–        File all other tweets (except Buffer) to my Evernote account
 
Buffer & Hootsuite
 
Buffer is by no mean a curation tool but a fabulous way to pace your messaging during the day.  I use Buffer on a daily basis and recommend it in combination with Hootsuite another heavyweight client that will assist you posting all your messages on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Facebook while spreading them accordingly.  Hootsuite and Buffer can also be used as Social Media Measuring Tools (SMMT).
www.brunogebarski.com
http://www.brunogebarski.com
If you have any additional tools you’d like to have mentioned please let us know and we will add them in an upcoming post.  Content curation is moving forward and more tools will pop up as the tsunami of digital data goes on.  I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions, but until then, I wish you happy content curation.
 
– Twenty Content Curation Tools For Your Inbound and Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1/2)
– 11 Ways on How to Generate Twitter RSS Feeds For the Reader of Your Choice
– How To Create RSS feeds From Your Favorite Twitter Hashtags and Tweeps
Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!
– Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social – Business Strategy (1/2)
– Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (2/2)
– 5 More Ways for SMBs to Establish a Social Business Strategy (2/2)
– 5 Ways for SMBs to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)
 
Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+
http://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski
http://Linkedin.com/in/BrunoGebarski
http://http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski

Twenty Content Curation Tools for Your Inbound and Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1/2)

In 2014, we’ll generate five billion gigabyte GBs of data every ten minutes.  We passed the five billion gigabyte mark in 2003 and today we generate this amount of data every two days!  This Tsunami of information is ongoing and it has become mandatory to filter the relevant information. 
 
Image Credit: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petabyte

Image Credit: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petabyte

There are many curation tools out there and for an in-depth study of all the tools available, I recommend you to check Rome residing Robin Good‘s impressive infographic: Best Content Curation Tools.  Robin Good has painstakingly put together.  Here are basic, but useful combinations of tools I use for my daily content curation needs.
 
1. RSS Feeds
 
RSS Feeds or Rich Site Summary/Really Simple Syndication is a family of web feed formats used to publish often updated works.  I’ve written several blog posts that can help out create the right feeds for your specific content needs such as blogs, videos, pictures and much more:
– How To Create RSS feeds From Your Favorite Twitter Hashtags and Tweeps
– 11 Ways on How to Generate Twitter RSS Feeds For the Reader of Your Choice
 
2. Google Alerts and Talkwalker
 
If you want an other client to complement or replace Google Alerts, I suggest you give Talkwalker a good try.  I started using Talkwalker  wondering if Google Alerts, just like its brother Google Reader, would eventually follow the same fate.  Talkwalker’s first 100 alerts are free.  Talkwalker  Alerts can be sent to both email or/and RSS clients of your choice.
 
3. Feedly
 
I have to admit that I am reluctantly starting to use Feedly in combination with RSS feeds.  Feedly is my personal choice as Google Reader replacement.  Feedly runs on all major Web browsers as well as mobile devices supporting iOS and Android.
 
4. Evernote
 
Mobile/Desktop application Evernote has become my favorite curation platform.  Evernote allows you to clip images, websites, recordings, videos and much more. I enjoy Evernote’s premium feature Clearly:  just kick back, adjust your speaker volume, and listen to the digital voice reading an article for you. 
 
Evernote doesn’t allow sub-folder creation, but has an intuitive folder feature helping reduce work while tagging your searches. The free Evernote version comes with a 60 megabytes monthly allowance, but once you get used to Evernote, you will most likely move on to the one gigabyte premium plan. 
 
5. Diigo
 
I use Diigo since 2006.  Diigo is a great tool for annotating, bookmarking, highlighting, tagging and sharing web pages.  Diigo also provides screenshot capacities.  Diigo allows you to create communities and share your curated contents with friends and groups. Within Diigo you may create as many directories as you need and the number of tags does not seem to be limited.
 
6. StumbleUpon
 
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.
 
7. Delicious
 
I use Delicious to backup my Diigo bookmarks just in case something happens.  Last year, Diigo’s domain name was literally highjacked, but after a few days, its functionality did fully return and since then, things have been working fine.  I recommend Diigo in combination with Delicious both being excellent bookmarking applications.
 
8. Linguee
 
As a trilingual individual, I regularly check specific word meanings.  The beauty about Linguee is that it not only offers the facility of a contextual dictionary for words and expressions, but directly hyperlinks the contextual translation into its matching website article.  The hyperlinks may at ties be broken, but this feature offers an additional way to discover new content.  Since I’ve started using Linguee as a contextual online dictionary, I have completely stopped the use of traditional dictionaries.  Linguee works with five languages (English, German, French, Spanish and Portugese).  Give Linguee a try and let me know how you are doing with it.
 
9-10.  Twitter Advanced Search and Twitter lists
 
In combination with hashtags, Twitter Advanced Search and Twitter lists are both formidable ways to curate real time information.  Follow conferences you aren’t able to attend or follow twitter-lists while keeping up-to-date with the latest information as it unfolds on your screen.  
 
11. Twilah
 
Twilah captures your Twitter messages and transform them into a website.  As Neal Schaffer writes:  “Your tweets are being dynamically categorized based on what you tweet most.“ and presented into a website thus reviving your tweets and extending their lifetime.  Robert Scobble says that  “Twylah lets media brands and celebrities monetize their twitter stream.”
 
12. Topsy
 
Topsy is a real gem I use at least once a day.  Topsy allows you to search and analyze the social Web.  Topsy is both a topic curation tool and a social media monitoring tool that helps evaluate the resonance of your shared content. 
 
13. LinkedIn Groups
 
We often forget that LinkedIn has become one of the biggest publishing houses on the internet.  Surveying LinkedIn Groups for content is an excellent way to curate information.  Furthermore, LinkedIn Groups can be used as a self-promoting micro-blogging platform.
 
Tomorrow, Part 2 will complete this content curation overview.  Let me know what tools you are using and which one you would recommend.  I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
 
Happy content curation
 
– 11 Ways on How to Generate Twitter RSS Feeds For the Reader of Your Choice
How To Create RSS feeds From Your Favorite Twitter Hashtags and Tweeps
– Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!
– Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (1/2)
– Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (2/2)
– 5 Ways for SMBs to Establish a Social Business Strategy (2/2)
– 5 More Ways for SMBs to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)
 
Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+
http://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski
http://Linkedin.com/in/BrunoGebarski
http://http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski
 
 

Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!

I bought Mark Fidelman Socialized! on Amazon at its full price (no discounts or coupons from Mark) and just finished devouring it. Fidelman  delivers a fundamental work that greatly contributes to the heated debate of Social Business development.  Fidelman not only shows, but proves how quintessential it is for businesses to harness the power of social.  Not only with tools and technologies, but first with their immediate communities aka company workforce.  Time is ripe for dismantling the prevailing command-and-control leadership style. The militaristic/hierarchical leadership approach ought to be replaced with Jon Husband’s Wirearchy structure.  So why should you read Socialized!Social Media ROI expert Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Fidelman’s ability to simplify key concepts like the Digital Village, Darwin’s Funnel, and the Digital Network, gives the reader a unique and important understanding of the power of Social Business. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read this book before your competitors do.”
 
Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Fidelman and his team interviewed business leaders around the globe in order to present to us a state-of-the-art social business road-map.  Fidelman lives and breathes what he writes.  He is the sort of individual any social minded person ought to connect with; either on Twitter/LinkedIn, and Forbes where he is a regular contributor.  Socialized! not only talks the walk but most importantly walks the talk.  It is a practical text-book backed up with countless case studies and examples anyone aspiring to become a social leader should be aware of and study
  
2. Culture, culture and more culture is the foundation to any social business undertaking
 
Fidelman emphasizes culture as the 101 prerequisite to any potentially successful Social Business Strategy.  Fidelman: “Why after all do we insist on employees following our orders, and why do we call it insubordination if they question them? … Yet the companies that are leading in today’s world recognize the benefit of an empowered workforce that feels connected to the organization.  Empowered employees understand not only how to make great products, but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future.”  Socialized! will assist CMOs and CCOs (Chief Cultural/Customer Officers) not only to analyze their existent Social Business state, but provide them with a detailed 10-point Social Business Culture development program.  
 
3. Building first an internal digital village and then an external digital network
 
Once the infrastructure of a cooperative culture has been established, business leaders will need to handpick the internal evangelists and shepherds (regardless of their rank) who will co-create their internal digital village — the nuts and bolts to any Social Business foundation
 
CXOs need to remember that becoming a Customer Service or/and Customer-Experience oriented company first  requires the emotional support and buy-in of their internal communities or “Smart Tribes” (as coined by Christine Comaford in her brand new book).  These “Smart Tribes” or internal communities represent the company’s intrinsic power that will transform the  traditional working communities into enthusiastic business advocates.  
 
After the creation of an apropos culture and the establishment of the right people foundation, the social team will need to select the social media platforms and its supportive collaborative technologies (Intranet/Extranet/SCRM/Social Business Software).  This will make sure that the Social Business community sets up the proper internal tools to construct its external digital network.
 
4. The new Social Business Playbook
 
Youtility author Jay Baer states: “Socialized! is an imminently readable, practical, and modern guide to social business.  The playbook section alone is worth the price, and then some.  Fidelman has added an important piece to the corporate social transformation puzzle.” Fidelman:  “In practice, management should provide the right atmosphere, guidelines, technologies, and opportunities for employees to thrive.”  Socialized! delivers a 15-point playbook: here are some of the highlights:
 
– Building an internal and external community
– Connecting and empowering thought leaders
– Recruiting a Chief Social Strategist or a Chief Cultural/Customer Officer
– Becoming an own media publisher, which makes me think of Michael Brito’s upcoming book: Your Brand.
– Replacing traditional inbound marketing with content marketing
– Leveraging employees, suppliers and partners to foster innovation
– Enhancing customer support to become the strength of your company
– Using Gamification to engage employees, partners and customers
– Creating the potential for serendipitous relationships
 
This last point is my favorite and reminds me of the romantic comedy “Serendipity” starring John Cusack and  Kate Beckinsale.   Fidelman himself gives a wonderful example of serendipity with StaffUnity:  an automated employee lunch club system provider.
 
5. The rise of the social employee
 
Fidelman  makes the case that, social networks, consumerization of IT, mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: smartphones, phablets and tablets) and cloud computing are all being part of the social and technological developments a 21st century enterprise cannot fail anymore to ignore. 
 
6. Measuring the ROI (Return On Investment) of a Social Business Strategy
 
Fidelman stresses that social business initiatives should only be undertaken if those can be measured.   He goes on to say: “Before starting any social initiatives, you must first identify objectives such as:  “improving customer relationships, product innovation, acquiring and retaining employees and growing revenues.” 
 
 
Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

 
Social Business metrics and ROI are  very well documented in a 2012 study by MIT in collaboration with the Deloitte institute.  The Economist Intelligence Unit and the PulsePoint Group published a study showing that 81% of interviewed leaders agree that social engagement has the following tangible benefits on the following areas:
 
– Project management
– Innovation
– Collaboration
– Efficiency gains
– Cost saving
 
In conclusion, Fidelman’s Socialized! is a management textbook that provides all the necessary steps for a clear pathway towards a successful social enterprise journey:  
 
1. Reviewing the existent culture of an enterprise
2. Setting up an internal digital village
3. Attaching an external digital village to the internal one
4. Establishing a social business strategy
5. Measuring Social Business ROI
6. Reviewing, correcting, adapting and repeating
 
Any leader wanting to understand the implications and repercussions  of a Social Business development program should study and dissect Socialized!.  Kudos and thanks to Mark Fidelman’s altruistic attitude for having taken the time to give us one of the best researched Social Business Strategy text-books ever written thus far. 
 
 
Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+
http://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski
http://Linkedin.com/in/BrunoGebarski
http://http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski

10 Ways for Small and Medium Business to Establish a Social Business Strategy (2/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  In Part one, we reviewed the first five ways SMBs can set up a solid social business strategy:
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
3. To blog or not to blog
4. Transform your website into a social hub and its visitors into co-creators
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
 
So here are the five last ways SMBs can establish a solid foundation for a social business:
 
6.  Reinforce and share your company vision
 
Share your company vision to employees, suppliers, customers and prospects on your company website.  Communicate your company vision on all your social networks. Reinforce your core values to customers, suppliers, prospects and anyone your business is coming in contact with.  I can guarantee you that it will be a rewarding experience for both your company and your customers who will better identify your vision and enthusiastically share it with the communities of their choice.  Zappos is well-known for its outstanding company culture and the way CEO Tony Hsieh runs his interviews for both cultural fit and skills requirements. On Zappos’ company blog, Tony publicly shares some of his correspondence for anybody to read: management, co-workers, clients, prospects and suppliers alike.  This is a superb way of spreading company culture while avoiding misunderstandings, promoting transparency and informing everyone.  
 
21st Century World
 
7. Create a dual strategy by combining your brick and mortar shop with a state of the art HTML5 web presence
 
Strive to create a superb online and personal shopping experience while rewarding your customers with loyalty perks and status.  Shoppers often use smartphones and tablets to get access to relevant information.  About.com has qualified three main distinct search types being made on the internet: “answer me (46% of all searches), inspire me (28% of all searches) and educate me (28% of all searches). Wouldn’t it be a great idea to make “answer me, inspire me and educate me” the three-dimensional crusade of your content marketing strategy?  Ask your customers, both online and in your shop, what answers they are looking for?  What inspires them? What educates them?  Gather your customer data directly into your database: the business headquarters of your people-centric customer information center.  This custom-made marketing know-how will help your business tailor make your content marketing output and assist you schedule personalized marketing messages via email or SMS.
 
8. Social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) and free Internet access
 
Would you rather have customers and prospects find out about competitive pricing inside or outside your shop premises?  If they search within your business, it might be easier for you and your staff to find out about competitors’ pricing and promotions.  It will also grant you the chance to intervene and give away “spur of the moment” discounts while bringing in more sales.  Providing customers and prospects with free internet access is a sure way to keep them inside your brick and mortar shop is not it?  No matter what, customers will find out what they want so you might as well give them the chance to do it while there are “browsing” around. It’s time for your business to harness wireless technology and give your visitors the shopping experience of their lives.  Why not consider an indoor positioning system (IPS) and lead your prospects to the right aisles? Why not consider near field communication (NFC) and QR codes to provide visitors with more product information?    
 
QR Codes Europe
 
9.  Free is a wonderful motivator
 
We all love free things don’t we?  The concept of free automatically appeals to our human nature.  Would it be possible to provide your business with a little coffee and snack corner? Could you add a few tables for prospects to linger around and visit?  This could be a wonderful opportunity to create a local’s corner while gathering precious ideas about business dos and don’ts.  Ask your customers what they expect from your business and reward the top ideas with prizes (first, second to five and 11th to 20th or more if you can). Give, share and get altruistically involved with your community.  How about giving away a free coffee for every new Twitter follower or Facebook likes?  Be creative, try new things, and encourage mistakes among co-workers and team members.  One last word of advice from Dan Erwin: “Shift your networking orientation from getting to giving and your long-term success is assured.”
 
10.  Refine your web and shop loyalty program
 
Loyalty programs should become digital and mobile. There are clients combining web and shop loyalty programs who can adapt their products to your specific needs and beyond.  It is fundamental for customers to get rewarded.  Customers both love rewards and status.  Status gives a sense of belonging, a feeling of being part of something bigger.  Among the 36.8 million followers Lady Gaga enjoys on Twitter, she concentrates on the top 1% she names her “little monsters” … “These fans evangelize for her and bring new fans in the fold”.  Lady Gaga understands her fans’ needs to emotionally wanting to connect with her and goes as far as interrupting her concert while calling one of them on the stage with her.  The more customers purchase, the more unique their reward and status development should be.  Think of airlines bronze, silver and gold levels as an example.  Rewards and status are the motivation that channels patrons into buying more of your products and services, but also to evangelize your business.   Be creative, different, and provocative, and reward your customers with an exhaustive loyalty program that shows genuine gratitude towards them. 
 
Now it’s your turn. Which advice would you give a combined brick and mortar digital shop for it to thrive in this contemporary business environment? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
 
 
Please do follow Bruno Gebarski
on Twitter, LinkedIn or on Google+:
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski 
http://linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski
http://http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski

10 Ways for Small and Medium Businesses to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  The amount of information is exploding and as Clay Shirky points out, we need to avoid filter failure.  We are at the threshold of intelligent marketing because now, Big Data is available.  We are moving from descriptive and predictive to prescriptive business intelligence.  How do we establish an effective business strategy, the one that will give our businesses the necessary room for successful growth and development?  What should its priority list look like?  Social media, blogging, inbound or outbound marketing, curation of information, website updating, brick and mortar shop, digital shop?  Trying to answer such a complex question within a ten point two parts blog article is a daring undertaking, but here is a modest attempt at doing this.     
 
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
 
This could be a daunting task, but a simpler way of restarting the process is to review your unique selling proposition (USP) and then divide it into three sub-categories: company mission, company values and company goals.  Having a sharp and targeted vision is quintessential for refining and pursuing a suitable strategy.  Reviewing your mission is crucial as business opportunities and changes do take place.  IBM, in the mid 80s, was the personal computer leader. IBM wrote US$ 16 billion of losses under the baton of Lou Gersten with 35.000 workers made redundant.  IBM finally sold its mainframe business in 2003 and, under Ginni Rometty’s leadership, concentrates on three core areas: analytics, cloud computing and emerging markets. Should IBM have failed to adapt and change, who knows if IBM would have become the thriving social business leader it has been now for the last several years. 
 
IBM-Social-Business_Ginni.Rometty_01 
A challenging way of applying technological trends could be to ask yourself if you could “create your 140 character brand promise”?  Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? The shorter and the clearer, the easier it will be for your communities to understand your mission and purpose.  It will help your business to energize its community while making it an active part of its purpose and vision.  Here are three USP examples which are each worth billions of dollars:
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
 
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
 
Traditional marketing is no longer sufficient.  Businesses which mostly concentrate on their own activities and products are promised a tough time ahead.  Today there are many companies that master innovation and customer experience by creating and listening to their communities. Such companies like IBM, Amazon or Starbucks give their customers the opportunities to consult, advise and recommend new products and services.  Starbucks understands that some of the best ideas come from their own grass root marketers, the ones entering their coffee-shops day in and day out.  Could there be a better source of feedback than the one coming directly out of their customers’ mouths?  
Consider your website as a customer hub with people coming and going, uploading and downloading information. The more your business listens to its community, the more focused its content marketing will be.  Some of the platforms to distribute your content could be  how to, tips, recommended sites and resources, books, authors, literature, recipes, videos, interviews, podcast, webcast, webinars and so much more.
 
Image Credit: www.hyken.com

Image Credit: http://www.hyken.com

3. To blog or not to blog

It’s great to hear what Chris Brogan has to say about blogging:  “No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog … It’s a website, with lots of built in features that make it useful from the search perspective, and simple from a content creation perspective…”  Blogging is like jogging for the brain.  Euan Semple once said:  “You do not know what you think until you write it down.”  At first blogging could be a strenuous way to ratify your thoughts, but the best way to freely express your personal ideas, views and expertise.  A blog is all yours and you may write (within reason) whatever your heart desires.  To blog or not to blog, this is the dilemma and the sooner your business starts the easier it will get. Blogging, like jogging, takes training, dedication and relentless commitment.  Avoid blogging about your products and services.  Concentrate on answering, sharing and inspiring.  Give your community what they want.  This will be the first act into bringing traffic to your website, and a natural way to gain traction and attention. 
 
4. Transform your website into a social hub and your visitors into your website co-creators
 
Amazon is a fabulous example of information crowd-sourcing.  When inquiring about books, the first thing most of us do is to find out about customer book-reviews.  Amazon has long understood that their website is not about them, but about the communities reading the books it sells.  It’s about letting visitors write reviews, comment on other people’s reviews, create groups and meet like minded readers.  It’s about customers’ wish-lists (a fabulous way of gathering marketing information) and remembering their interests, likes and dislikes. Amazon is a platform where people meet, read, comment, upload videos reviews and create personal profiles.  A company’s website should altruistically answer, inspire and educate its community.  It is not about your products or services, it is about your community, their worries, their interests and what inspires them.  Consider reserving enough space for uploading videos, reviews, articles and for giving your visitors the chance to become your website’s co-creators.
 
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
 
According Wikipedia, “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks … It allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”  Social media is the new technological platform businesses use to promote physical or digital goods.  Social media networks should be kept to a minimum: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  Pick three or four and get professional help.  A Facebook and Pinterest expert like Mari Smith will save you time and money as she keeps up with ongoing platform changes and updates. Mari will provide you with the necessary support while you concentrate on your business.
 
In part two, we will review the last five fundamental points connected to the ongoing review of a successful social business foundation.  
 
Please do take the time to follow Bruno Gebarski
on Twitter, LinkedIn or on Google+:
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski 
http://linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski
http://http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski
 

How To Create RSS feeds From Your Favorite Twitter Hashtags and Tweeps

It is frustrating to see how Twitter safeguards its own ecosystem and paralyzes non-tech users like us by making it so awkward to create RSS feeds.  Twitter struck again at the end of October last year, by removing the atom feed from their services.  Is there a simple non-technical way around it?  Well it might be connected to a bit of extra work and tweaking, but it’s well worth putting the effort into it.
 
1. Identifying your Twitter #hashtags (keywords)
 
There is a fabulous tool called “What Hashtag” (freely given to us by a Spanish group of programmers) that does a reliable job at researching and selecting the most popular Twitter-hashtags.  Let’s say we are trying to find the proper Twitter-hashtags (and those are very specific) for ‘social business’.  In our ‘social business’ search we shall include the Boolean operator “quote” in order to single out the results for “social business” only:
 
Hashtag
http://whathasthag.circulorojo.es
Frequency
#socbiz
175
#ibm
71
#SocBiz
45
#IBM
35
#socialmedia
35
#business
30
#Social
21
#ibmsocialbiz
15
#social
12
#Business
9
You may notice that each word is hyperlinked to its corresponding Twitter-feed:  very handy indeed.   It is now easier to identify the community connected to the “#socbiz” word or Twitter hashtag.  A word of caution please:  run the search several times and update it on a regular basis because things change fast on the Twittosphere.
 
The second tool is presented to us by Dan Zarrella:  Tweetcharts.com.  Tweetcharts goes one step further by giving us a full array of added information:  
– General statistics about links, retweets, replies, mentions, hashtags
– Top words and most mentioned users
– Other corresponding hashtags, links and media (images and videos)
 
Before we start creating RSS feeds, we need to understand a bit about encoding.  The Albion Research Ltd. application “encodes or decodes a string using URL Encoding.  URL Encoding is used when placing text in a query string to avoid it being confused with the URL itself.  It is normally used when the browser sends form data to a web server.”  So here is an example for us to try: 
Plain Text:
Hey What’s the heck with social media? 
Encoded Text:
Hey%20what’s%20the%20heck%20with%20social%20media%3F
 
Albion Research LTD_01

Copy the following Twitter RSS string search:  “http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=” and add any terms or name of your choice with the Boolean operators to your search:

http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=@dpontefract OR @Euan OR @hjarche OR @jonhusband OR @KateNasser OR @rashkenas OR @rhappe OR @rossdawson OR @tdebaillon OR @BrunoGebarski
 
Now paste this string into the Albionresearch.com website to obtain he following encoded feed:

http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=%40dpontefract%20OR%20%40Euan%20OR%20%40hjarche %20OR%20%40jonhusband%20OR%20%40KateNasser%20OR %20%40rashkenas%20OR%20%40rhappe%20OR%20 %40rossdawson%20OR%20%40tdebaillon%20OR %20%40BrunoGebarski

Remove unwanted spaces (due to blog formatting) and paste this final RSS feed into your reader, but first do not forget to replace the names, including mine, with the Tweeps of your choice!  Now you have your personalized twitter stream as an RSS feed with all the authors you wish to keep up with.  Easy and simple is not it?
 
Now it’s your turn: How do you keep up with your favorite Tweeps?  Any tools you would recommend?  Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
 
Please follow me on Twitter:
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski