I’m not going to beat around the bush here, I spend almost 90% of my time on Twitter, it’s where my research comes from, my business, and most of my relationships. Twitter is the service I use to expand, learn and teach what I do, FaceBook, has it’s place but I rarely spend much time there, why? I use TweetDeck , I feed multiple social networks this way, including FaceBook. Rumour has it TweetDeck is about to be purchased or already has been, by Twitter, that’s good news in my books. Twitter will be able to add so much to the experience of using their real-time service.

The secret sauce if you will, the secret tool is not that secret when trying to maximize Twitter, it’s the search in Twitter that brings the most value in terms of data. If you spend enough time listening in the Twitter search, you start to see trends, interests and needs, businesses don’t pay enough attention there in my humble opinion.

The #FutureOfBusiness hashtag is where I like to hang out, to see what others are saying and thinking about on this topic, we are headed to a day of the open & free business model. But what does that mean really. Does it mean everything is free and open, of course not, it is however, a strategy, a successful business model. So how do all these social networks fit into the equation?

Think about where you do business today, what is the business model you execute today, does it leverage social networks? And if it is, how did you determine which social network to invest your time and money in? I’m almost certain very little research went into that determination, you probably just sensed you should be on FaceBook because most of your friends and business associates said you should be there. When a business owner asks me if they should be on FaceBook or any other social network, I like to ask them why they think they should be there. Almost everytime it has nothing to do with a business case or sound data to backup that question, it is always an emotional reason, like the fear of loss. That’s not new, it’s as old as time that emotion, but it has as much power as worrying, and probably the same results worrying brings you.

So where do you spend your time and money in terms of social networks, and why? The Future Of Business is not social networks, it is however, social & mobile. Social Media is not new, the conversations you and I were having offline our entire life, has merely gone digital, they are now happening on the Internet. The difference, the world can now listen in and share your feelings, spread your conversation everywhere. Everything will create a stream everywhere.

With 3 billion people yet to hit the Internet, being found should be your primary concern, it’s going to get noisier than it is today, findability will determine the life of your business online. The best way to be found, create more content than you consume, then leverage every social network you can to help that cause.

So where do you do business, which social network do you use the most, what is the hardest part about being found for you, how do you get found? I would love to hear your thoughts on findability, not SEO.

I recently started using the Hashtag #openandfree on Twitter to track my conversations on the topic (Open & Free as a Business Model), some very interesting things are starting to come out of these conversations. The conversations also trickle away from using the hashtag, but I still get the interaction. Whether I’m speaking or consulting, there is always a series of questions, How do I know what should be free content and what do you mean by open? I’m usually surprised by the questions because, well, when I dig a little bit, it becomes obvious to me. It’s not that I’m smarter than anyone, it’s just what I’m listening for and or looking for are the opportunities in and around their business. Most people are too close to the problem(s), that’s the difference, if they could step outside of themselves and look at their business the way they did when they worked on the first draft of their business plan, they might see what I see. I think it’s human nature to see other individuals challenges and have solutions for them rather than our own.

I’ll touch on the 1st question of what content should be free. It’s can be easy to figure out, but it’s mostly confusing for most, because business owners are trained for control, conditioned to old business models where free is not done.  It’s always about what you can get, rather than what you give. Being open means you aren’t keeping all your content behind walls, where access is much more difficult to obtain. It put things out in the open and trust the quality of that content, and you need to learn to trust the people formerly known as consumers. They might pay for your content on their own, you can no longer force them to pay, because they will go and not come back. The new acronym is PFE (Proudly Found Elsewhere).

The thrill is when the lights come on after just a couple questions, and then show a simple effective way to get the creative juices flowing again, that’s all it is really. We need to think outside the box, even unlearn what we know about commerce and advertising. Sometimes we get stuck, sometimes we can’t see the forest for the tree’s, it’s like writer’s block and the like, you can sit and spin your wheels for what feels like hours, or hire someone to come in and kick start the creative gene.

By using the hashtag (#openandfree) on Twitter I’m collecting data, I’m looking for ways to help, and I will always direct you to come here for the basic steps. If you are a DIY (Do It Yourself) kind of person, then poke around here on my blog and chip away.

A recommended exercise is, ask yourself this question:

What is your CORE Business about?

Now we tend to struggle with the CORE because nothing is static anymore, press on and you will get the picture. Don’t stop on the first answer, drill down and ask yourself the question three or four times until you can answer the question in a preferably short accurate sentence. Get your answer down to a simple statement, crafted in a clear concise way that the masses will understand easily. Sometimes it can’t be kept short, but you want your prospect or the person you are sharing with to get it quickly, then you can move on to the next point or question knowing they understand.

Once you’ve arrived to a satisfactory statement, you now can begin the process of figuring out your content questions. But that’s another blog post.

This step also helps you design the why of your business, assuming you haven’t completed a business plan, that’s called the vision.

Does this make sense to you?