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The Blur

It’s been awhile since I wrote here, April 14th to be more precise. Much has happened since I last shared with you, I went out played drums, traveled with my bride, and spent a lot of time reading and researching, but most of all, I took a break. I took a break to experience some new and different things. I highly recommend you take a timeout to learn, and to have new experiences other than what your regular routine and work might be. Otherwise, everything feels like a blur before your eyes.

Many of you should understand what I mean by “The Blur”, and how the blur might impact you and your world, mostly your business if you own or run one. I’ve been talking about it for years here on this blog. Two things probably make you feel like you are out of control, by trying to keep up, and not willing to change how you think about the future of your business.

The world moves at a faster pace than we can possibly keep up with, and much of what we see doesn’t well into our daily routines, it’s just not easy or comfortable, it means putting ourselves and possibly our businesses in a vulnerable place. If you frequent this blog, you’ll know this is not a new, I’ve said this for many years.

Most people are trying to build the next Microsoft, the next Twitter, the next Facebook, and even the next Amazon. The problem with that thinking is this, you’re looking into the past, you aren’t looking ahead, you aren’t paying attention to what people want! Do they want another Facebook, another Twitter, and are I say it…..another Microsoft. I think not.

Yes those giants are building and getting bigger, even expanding. In November 2012, Microsoft expanded to Vancouver with another sweat shop called, Black Tusk Studios, a game developer. In March 2013, Amazon opened a new development centre in Vancouver. Facebook opened an office in Coal Harbour downtown Vancouver, and in June 2013, Twitter announced plans to open a world-class Global Centre of Excellence in Vancouver as well. So, you’re already too late aren’t you?

Why are they moving to Vancouver? They are trying to find more talent and take them south, you can’t compete with Twitter & Facebook on the recruiting front, they often pay software developers in excess of $100,000 per year right out of the gate. They are scooping up developers, and they MUST have a degree from a top 100 University. Unless you have large amounts of funding, and lower your standards, you should stop and regroup before you spend another dime.

My advice is, and always has been, if you want to build the next best thing, drive down main street and ask yourself what’s missing. Start there, and then do your homework, even if you think a value added service should be built to an already existing success like Facebook or Twitter, if yes….then do your homework.

Mobile is a huge market, 40% of Facebook’s action comes from Mobile, that should be an obvious indicator to what’s happening.

All this movement is happening fast, it’s a blur. It’s like life it’s self, time keeps on ticking, it never stops, but we tend to.

The best way to slow it down is to take time to regroup, spend time with those you care about most, then regroup, re-strategize, surround yourself with smart people, and get to work. Life doesn’t have to be a blur, and neither does your business. Take the time to bring clarity to your work, build a clear vision, not a something moving so fast it’s a blur.

 

Is Your Business Community Listening?

Is your business community listening? I ask the question in all seriousness, I’ve discovered the business community in my area is very much asleep on social networks. It’s not only sad, but alarming at the same time. The problem is more about marketing, or how they acquire customers, after all, everyone wants more customers right?

It doesn’t matter what market sector you belong to, most still use social networks no different than they use newspaper, radio & television, they sell till their blue in the face. Yelling their heads off and hoping you will pay attention, you will be convinced to come to their businesses and buy what they were yelling about.

I’m going to share a very small case study with you, and I am the case study. You see, I have made it known on social networks, primarily Twitter, that I am shopping for a new fridge, hardwood flooring, and that I am painting two rooms called the Kitchen & Family room. I’ve been sharing that home upgrade project to all who follow me, and of course the many in the town and area where I live. Something interesting happened, nothing!

I’m surprised for a few reasons, for one, I have one of the largest followings in my area. Two, I hold workshops and teach business owners and entrepreneurs how the future of business has changed, and will continue to change. I even teach them how to listen in social networks. Three, I do a considerable amount of public speaking, to Chamber of Commerce groups and the like, on the very topic, and the future of business. Four, I was certain business owners in my area were actually listening and paying attention. I was wrong.

I even went so far as to Tweet this:

I was, I am that customer, I’m doing household improvements, I’ve been sharing, I truly believed that a business in my area would have been listening, paying attention, and would have connected with me, but nothing. I am not only disappointed, but actually surprised. The fact that no one contacted me to do business, this had me wondering, how many others like me on Twitter (put your favorite social network here)had money to spend but businesses aren’t around to get it. Why do local businesses ignore this apparently untapped market?

I’m even more surprised when I see these social networks getting so much air play on TV, Radio and to a lessor extent newspaper. It’s like saying you don’t know Jesus, but everyone has heard about him. Yes, he is still ignored by the masses too : )

So how is it that a city of 150,000 have missed this opportunity, they are leaving money on the NET (table), they are not listening here on social networks. I am just one of many that I know who are doing home improvements, we’re blogging, Tweeting about our projects, and yet not one business has contacted us.

Imagine, if one person (me) has 20k to spend on paint, hardwood flooring, and appliances and you had been listening on Twitter, your business could of had that business. But what if there are a 100 people like me with that kind of money to drop on goods and services. And as I mentioned, I’m not alone, there is potentially 100k up for grabs with the few friends I know in the same position.

There’s much to be said about marketing and advertising on social networks, but more needs to be done about teaching business owners how to listen and find customers like me.

That’s it, a short case study of me, a 20k bill waiting to be collected, and no one was paying attention. Imagine that. Many of the big name social media marketers preach to listen, to grow bigger ears, and yet, like common sense, there appears to be a huge shortage. When are you going to catch up, the tidal wave is coming, don’t be looking the other way, because your business will lose people like me.

So how would you fix this listening problem in your business community?

One might consider this a business opportunity, educating business owners. Oh and by the way, it’s too late, I spent the money already.

Is your business community listening?

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Whatever Happened To The Internet As A Destination?

Today I have been hanging out on Google+, Twitter, FaceBook and a few other Social Networks. All this hanging was bothersome, why?

It got me to thinking back when the Internet was new, there was very few places that dominated your time on the Internet, at least not since AOL. Today we are sucked into big sites like FaceBook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on. Think about how uch time you spend there, think about what you did before these sites came to be.

Can you even remember what the first thing you did back before these Social Networks? I used to spend a lot of time using Gopher, remember that one?

Today we are immediately, automatically taken to FaceBook or Twitter, we don’t even flinch or think twice about it. It’s like the Internet has lost it’s glitter and has taken a back seat to Social Networks.

The Internet has far more to offer than just Social Media Networks, it does doesn’t it? I hope so, if not, we will wonder aimlessly through the desert once again.

So whatever happened to the Internet as a destination?

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Barking At Shadows

ZeenaI must confess, my youngest son is responsible for the title of this blog post. We were sitting at the dinner table this nite and we were talking about our neighbours dog, deaf but not blind…soon though. Our dog (Zeena pictured on the left) on the other hand, has bionic hearing, she can hear the paper being dropped at the front door from anywhere in the house. She races to the door barking madly, when I open the door, nothing…. all she sees is her shadow. I said, this is just like social networks, and my son said, ya…you’re barking at shadows like those followers are real people. He said something there that inspired me to write this random thought process.

Also, this constant running and barking caused me to reflect on conversations on Twitter & FaceBook lately, in regards to LIKES, FANS & FOLLOWERS. I will call these three things shadows, shadows are very misleading, hard to determine, to see where they come from even, but mostly, we are lead to believe they are something far bigger than they really are.

We tend to put far too much stock in the number of followers, fans and likes. We even attach a value to these indicators, wrongly I might add, but we do it to justify our time getting them. So we can have a case for our actions. Don’t get me wrong, they are important, in that they tell you one thing for certain, someone came knocking at your businesses door. Those numbers don’t tell you much more than that, ideally we would like to believe there’s more data to be had when someone decides to follow you, be a fan, or when the like button is pushed. I would like to believe there was actually a plan in place when this data collecting started, but I’m skeptical.

If you didn’t have a plan, a strategy, or a desire outcome well thought-out before you put your business online, then your numbers merely mean you had a visitor. You might call them potential buyers, but nothing has been bought just yet, not until you can turn that fan, that like, or that follower into something more tangible. There is a very real way to this in Social Networks, but I’m not the one who will teach you this day, another far brighter than I will do it. Stay tuned, and I will reveal him to you in tomorrows post.

So, these numbers you are so proud of are no different than the shadows my dog finds, your bragging and pumping yourself up because you have large numbers is a false sense of security, you are hanging your businesses future on the number of likes, fans and followers, don’t do this, you’re just barking at shadows.

 

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Real Estate Agents, Politicians & Social Media GURUS

First a disclaimer, I am in no way claiming I have cornered the market on Social Media Networks, I happen to use them for my business. I’m also generalizing, you can find many that don’t suffer from the problems I rant about below. The three sectors, niches or whatever you want to call them, all three have something in common. They don’t know how to listen, nor do they know what their constituents want. All three claim to know that building relationships is paramount. All three claim to understand how to use Social Media Networks, but have been failing miserably. So what’s wrong?

Let’s start with a short story. I attended a MeetUp some 30 minutes down the freeway from me, I got there a little late, but as I walked in, I was introduced and then promptly put on the spot. I was asked, what top tip would I give a person or business in using Social Media. I had to stop and think for a nanosecond, and blurted out two things, one was to listen, and the other was to pay attention to the bigger picture. Now I can hear most of you Social Media Experts cringing, but I don’t mean what you think I mean.

The listening part, and the paying attention part are not separate, they are tied together. If you are a business, and you are just starting to dip your toe into the Social Media Networks, there are a few things you should do before you even attempt to listen or pay attention. But I was put on the spot, but I did clarify what I mean’t to ensure there was no confusion.

One of the first things I did, was write down some objectives, outcomes, before I even setup any kind of listening system. I wanted to know up front what I wanted from this exercise, before I began the listening, I also wanted to collect data from a higher level. I wanted a 50,000 foot view of what I was looking at, I wanted to see patterns and trends. But I’m getting sidetracked.

Now let’s get back to the real reason I’m writing this rant.

After the MeetUp was over, a small group of us went out to a local eatery for some chit chat and finger food. A funny thing happened while eating, I was noticing some tweets from all three of these sectors or groups, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. And these tweets were being done by people I know, people I have talked to on the topic, and thought they had a grip on things from my perspective. Afterall, this is all from my perspective, which means you can disagree, and it’s also subject to change without notice : )

REAL ESTATE AGENTS

If you talk to any Real Estate Agent, they will tell you they understand or have been coached by someone who claimed to understand, ya you know who you are. If these agents even remotely listened in anyway shape or form, they would know that posting every frigging listing on Twitter, FaceBook or what have you, is not what the consumer, the person(s) looking, or wanting to buy expects from them. I mean really, is that what you Agents think, really? A blast of 6 to 9 Tweets or Updates, all listings, tell me I’m completely off base here, I triple dog dare ya. I work with enough agents to tell you, some get it right, but very few do. If spamming 3 to 6 listings is building a relationship, then you clearly don’t know how to do it. But wait, if you ask a Real Estate Agent what’s the best part of what they do, it’s the relationships they build, it’s the most important part of being successful in the business. Is it possible? Are Real Estate Agents that out of touch? It would appear that they haven’t learned or figured out how to take relationship building into the digital realm.

POLITICIANS

Here is another group of people that seems to miss the listening part, maybe it’s the asking part. We have an election happening in my province and or community, it’s always a tenuous time. I was meeting with someone who is handling Social Media for a person running for city council here. They wanted to know what I thought, so I told them. Most people don’t follow politics that closely, if they did, voter turnouts would be at all time high’s and the world would be a happy place right? The truth is, politicians are no longer trusted, just like bank managers and the like, why? All they want is your vote, they don’t really want to know what you want, they don’t really want know your problem, they have their own agenda already.

I did say this, if you want to get votes, connect with your constituents, keep things simple, in such a manner in which they can understand what you are saying and asking. In simple terms, answer the damn question(s). I also said, asking broad global questions only tells your constituents you think they’re stupid. There is always a small percentage of people who enjoy or even understand the global questions, but most don’t. The average person wants to know what you are going to do for them. Don’t ask me broad questions like, What’s your vision of (enter name of city here) 2, 5, 10 years from now? I don’t know where my next pay cheque or meal is coming from, and you’re asking me about the vision of a city? Is that what your constituents said they wanted? I want to know what your vision is, not mine, you tell me and I’ll decide if it makes any sense. Then I’ll vote accordingly.

Anyway, it would be to a politicians advantage to keep things simple and bite sized, so the average person can chew on it and actually provide a proper response. If politicians are listening, or asking, then why does it appear they all ask the same type of questions? Because it works, probably not, it’s because people can’t and won’t answer broad global questions. So the politician gets elected with a false sense of security, and can’t figure out why the people at large aren’t happy…it’s because they didn’t listen and  pay attention in the first place.

SOCIAL MEDIA GURUS

You know who you are, you need to stop pretending you understand the larger picture of what all these Social Media Networks means to the business world at large. No one does! There are some common practices now, but just now. Social Networks have only been around a short while on the Internet, there is too much to know, and too much to understand for anyone person to claim they are an Expert or GURU. And I’m certain most don’t fully understand ROI, and the global effect on human behaviour in these circles. I can only count on one hand how many people I trust to tell me about what’s going on, how is it that the plethora of Consultants, GURUS and Social Media Experts have miraculously figured it out for all of us? I think not.

CLOSING COMMENTS

As you can see I’m barely scratching the surface here, the truth is, these three sectors are only three, and it’s not all there fault. But it’s mostly the snake oil salesman called a Social Media GURU / Expert, all in the name of making a buck. Or worse yet, to expand an already out of control ego. It is and always will be a Buyer Beware world, find people you know and trust, then ask them who to seek out for sound information and direction.

Good luck, and please do leave your comments, I love hearing from you whether you agree or not.

 

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