You Need To Own Your Online Identity

Internet crime

[stag_dropcap font_size=”100px” style=”squared”]I[/stag_dropcap] was inspired to write this blog post based on an article that surfaced in my Facebook feed about Appetas, a restaurant website service, that up until now, offered restaurants a turn-key solution to having a website with useful integrated features such as menus, online ordering etc.  It’s not the worst idea in the world by any means, an affordable, easy solution for an industry that typically has low margins, and little to no internal resources for such a thing. But today’s announcement is exactly why I’ve consulted not only restaurants, but all businesses to stay away from turn-key solutions like this for one simple reason; you don’t own it.

Appetas announced today they were acquired by Google. Great for them, not so much for their customers. In their blog post announcing the acquisition, they are shutting down the service and will work with customers to find alternative solutions. How would you like to be one of these businesses that put your website and trust into these folks now to only be left having to find something else?

Clearly they had a successful product to have been acquired by Google, and I’m sure there is a place for this sort of product in the market. But as long as I am in a position to consult with businesses, I’ll never recommend this path. While using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., is a must in your overall online strategies, the fact is, you don’t own these platforms and you are at the mercy of the changes they make, and ultimately the shut downs that can happen. You can’t allow your entire online identity to be owned by others, which makes it that much more important that your website is owned by you. For you to control, for you to avoid being shut down and looking elsewhere.

Is it more expensive? Up front, yes, in the long run…not at all. The evolution of platforms like WordPress have made it easier and more affordable to get your own website up and running. Diversify your online presence, and make sure where you are isn’t entirely owned by others. Or you may end up like some of the unfortunate customers of Appetas.

Why Sometimes You Have To Say No To New Business

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[stag_dropcap font_size=”100px” style=”squared”]N[/stag_dropcap]ot every lead is a good one. In my first year of starting my company, while few and far between, I’ve actually had new business prospects that I’ve turned down. For a startup, that seems a bit crazy, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable.

I was inspired to write this blog post by something that literally just happened in our office that is driving me nuts. What initially started out as a very promising lead for our company, turned into the most ridiculous showing of disorganization and disrespect I’ve faced since launching my business.

A week or so ago, I was delighted to hear that someone drove by our office and saw our sign and actually stopped in to learn about us. I didn’t think that we’d ever get a lead from our sign, but lo and behold, we did. She set up an appointment to discuss marketing needs for her new business. Here is a list recap of events that happened since:

  • Cancelled an hour before her meeting because she wasn’t feeling well. She rescheduled for a few days later
  • Does not show up to rescheduled meeting. We call her and she says she didn’t get a reminder call from us so she forgot. She reschedules for a few days later and asks us to call her the same day to remind her. Reluctantly, we agree to this even though I think it’s ridiculous that a grown professional adult requires a reminder service for a meeting SHE initiated.
  • We call her on the day of the rescheduled meeting and she tells us that we didn’t give her enough time with our reminder call to make it work

Now, does that sound like someone you’d ever want to go into business with? One of the choices I’ve made when starting my business was that no matter how desperate we may be for the income, I would never take on a client that I had red flags about because it usually ends up in disaster. In this particular case, it was a no brainer. Could you imagine the potential headaches we’d encounter with someone that is incapable of being organized enough to know when their meetings are or has no accountability for their actions? No thank you.

How To Guarantee Your Facebook Page Content Reaches Your Fans

like message on keyboard button, social media concepts

[stag_dropcap font_size=”100px” style=”squared”]T[/stag_dropcap]imes are changing. The good ‘ol days of free advertising on Facebook have pretty much disappeared. You can’t blame Facebook entirely for this as it was just a matter of time before they really needed to monetize all those users and all that data. There’s plenty of uproar over this as organic Facebook reach is starting to dip into the single digits, and companies are scrambling to figure out what’s next. Some are proclaiming they are leaving the platform, while others have begrudgingly bit the bullet and started paying to promote their posts.

While I certainly enjoyed the free ride, I don’t really have as big of an issue as others do. I have no problem with Facebook trying to make money. For a business to expect a free ride forever is being a little naive. It’s still incredibly affordable to reach a very targeted, actionable audience on Facebook. In my opinion, certainly still more affordable and effective than traditional marketing channels.

That being said, there is a little known work around that won’t cost you a dime. It’s a bit of a workaround, and requires action on part of your fans, but it’s still a free option. Have your Facebook Fans hover over the Liked button, and select Get Notifications from the drop down menu. 

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As you can see from the screenshot above, it’s a relatively simple process to actually do. The trick is how you can actually get your fans and future fans to actually do this. It’s not likely that you’ll get all of them to do so. But it can’t hurt to communicate such to your fans, and come up with some creative ways to encourage them to do so.

It’s not an ideal solution, but if you’re completely adverse to paying to reach your more of your Facebook fans, here’s your option.

Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere

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[stag_dropcap font_size=”100px” style=”squared”]I[/stag_dropcap] often get asked from folks whether there will ever be a “social media crash”. Similar to the 2000 dot com bust, will all these social channels just crash and burn at some point. My simple answer is always no. The fact is, social media at its core isn’t some newly formed concept that just popped up over the last few years. As a society, we’ve always been “social”. It’s the technology that has changed that has allowed us to do so differently. So while I’m sure there will be a fair share of social channels that will come and go, our social interactions online will never go away.

So as a business, it’s critically important to ensure that investing time and/or money into social as part of your overall marketing strategy is a priority. Below is a terrific infographic that demonstrates the sheer volume of audience and activity online in the social sphere.

Some highlights:

  • Facebook has reached 1.5 billion users while Twitter has recently passed 550 million
  • 93% of marketers use social media for business
  • In the US, people spend on average, 16% every hour on social media sites
  • Fastest growing segments on the big 3? (Facebook, Twitter, Google +), 45-64 years old.
  • 47% of Americans say Facebook is the #1 influencer of purchasing decisions

If you’re business is not currently tapping into these huge opportunities, please call me today and I’ll walk you through what’s available to you and how you can use the social web to grow your business.

The Growth of Social Media v2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]
Source: The Growth of Social Media v2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Rick Pitino & The Cauldron of Social Media Poison

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Sounds like a Harry Potter movie doesn’t it? Today an article was posted that quoted Rick Pitino, the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals Basketball Team, as saying that social media poisons the minds of his student athletes, and most people in general.

As quoted from the article linked above:

I think technology is a great thing in many instances, and I think it’s poison in others, and for people in sports especially.

He goes on to explain how social media and technology have created a environment where kids and athletes specifically are having a harder time communicating in real life because of their dependence on using social media and technology to communicate with one another.

It’s an interesting argument, and on some levels, I can certainly agree with some of his points. However, just like anything in life, times change and so do our ways of life. Technology advances create new ways for us to live our lives. Whether it’s how we drive our cars, prepare our food, or communicate with each other, change is the only constant. Social media is not to blame for a person’s inability to hold a real conversation with someone. That’s called bad parenting and/or bad schooling.

I have 2 young boys who LOVE their technology, and I enjoy sharing those experiences with them. But I make sure that like anything in life, it’s experienced in moderation. Blaming technology or social media for society faults is a cop out. Yes, of course our lives can be transformed regardless of how much balance we try to incorporate in our children’s lives, but there’s no escaping that. Life changes. How we communicate with each will continue to evolve, and it’s up to us to continue to reinforce the importance of still having real world communication skills.

Sorry Rick, while I agree with your analysis of the symptoms, social media is not the disease.

What do you think?