Archive | January, 2012

Dreaming Social

27 Jan

Three of my family members are looking at some new business ventures. One of them is even under construction as we speak! Being the social media addict that I am, I’m already dreaming up ways that internet technology and social media can be of assistance to their efforts. I very much want this blog to be practical and hands-on. Blogs extolling the virtues of social media are a dime-a-dozen, after all. So, here are some futuristic case studies, if such a phrase is legitimate. 😉

Business Scenario #1: Taco Stand

My uncle, Fred Sutherland, is in the last stages of being released from the Texas State Prison System on parole. It’s a scary economic world for us all right now, but ex-cons have a much worse time of it than the rest of us do. A long story short is that he has a business plan ready to implement for several food wagons (he’s currently looking at tacos and burgers). He wants to target the downtown professional on lunch break, the construction crews that do not have their own transportation while on site. The plan is to be able to hit two or three key locations in a day at their specific lunch/supper rush.

Possible Social Media/Technology for Business Scenario #1

FourSquare: I’m recommending to Fred that he create a FourSquare account for each food wagon. I would like to see original quirky names. Each FourSquare account would build a strong local network of friends for each of its stops. Through push notifications and ‘Nearby’ features a lot of the daily promotional work will be ‘outsourced’ to FourSquare. Bonus: when a new location or stop is added for a wagon Fred can use Forecast (posted about previously) to plan an opening splash.

Text Club: The most obvious use of a texting group is to broadcast specials and locations, but you could do a lot beyond that. Customers could text orders and then receive a text when the order is ready. Which brings us to…

Payment: Square. The vendor pricing is quite competitive with traditional card payment methods. And you can’t beat the wow factor. 😉

It’s going to take my superior communication skills to present this to Fred. Social media wasn’t even thought of when he was last in the business world. I’ll let y’all know how it goes!

Business Scenario #2: Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

My brother’s father-in-law (what do I call him? Father-in-law once removed? 2nd Father-in-law?), Bob Kulp, is a seasoned business owner and entrepreneur (It runs deep in his family) and his latest project is the conversion of traditional gasoline vehicles so that they run off of natural gas, which is significantly cleaner and cheaper than gasoline. He is in the process of building a CNG filling station on his property. He is avidly promoting CNG  and fleet conversion across Wisconsin.

Possible Social Media/Technology for Business Scenario #2

App: the best sales pitch is to show someone the money and I find the easiest way to track money is through an app. A CNG app could track

  • mileage of CNG vehicle and how much less pollution it exhausts
  • how much saved per gas purchase compared to gasoline prices in the area
  • how close you are to paying off conversion cost with lower fuel costs and better gas mileage. Once conversion is paid for this converts to a pure savings number.
  • how close you are to a CNG filling station

Each of these tracking should allow for sharing the positive numbers to social networks. “Aliya has saved $326 so far with Kulp Energy Solutions!” followed by a link.

Bob is already quite active on social networks, both personally and professionally, so just go observe and learn.

Business Scenario #3: Local Sports Scene

My brother Ethan has noticed that there is one sport that gets a lot of attention nationally that has a local scene in the Tulsa area who is ignored by all local media. I can’t tell you which one because you might capitalize on this idea before he gets to. ::glare:: don’t even think about it!

Possible Social Media/Technology for Business Scenario #3

He is first going to build an online reputation of an expert in the sport. Once that is established he wants to leverage it to get radio spots. All of this is a little hazy because some of it requires equipment investments that he does not currently have the money for. Any angel investors out there?

Twitter: He should live-tweet national events in this sport. He should also host a weekly TweetChat (which I described to him as a “twat on Chitter’ just the other day. How embarrassing.) on the sport.

Google+: He should do hangouts from local events and do hangout interviews with the athletes on Google+. He could also broadcast hangouts from the teams’ gyms with multiple interviews.

Blog: Predictions, commentary, reviews, interviews, etc.. of each local event.

Podcast: live broadcasting from local events that are also being broadcasted on television (which might restrict Hangouts). This will be the easiest part to convert to radio.

Many of these require portable wifi or 4G internet, a laptop or tablet with a good web camera, an external mic (maybe 2?), and access to cable television. With that high financial threshold this venture might take some time to happen, but I’m confident Ethan can make it a success!

Ask the Right Questions

25 Jan

As a perfectionist I’m never done with a project. So, as I mentioned last week, I’m still working on an intake form for clients. I hope someone else can learn through watching my process here.

Thank you so much for picking Magic Bottle Marketing to be on your team! I am so excited to get to work with you! I’ve found the best way to start something is with asking lots of good questions. Please think through each question but don’t over analyze it.

Contact Information

  1. What contact information do you want to give customers on social media?
  2. How should I contact you?
  3. Who do I communicate with?
  4. Is there a best time or worst time to contact you?
  5. Is there a best time or worst time to visit your location?
  6. How familiar are you personally with social media? What sites, if any, do you frequent?

Story Telling

  1. How did you get into this field?
  2. How did this business start?
  3. How did you get started in this particular business?
  4. Tell me about your customers.
  5. Why Claremore for your business? Why Claremore for you personally?
  6. Tell me about your employees.
  7. Who is your competition?
  8. Who (customer demographic) and what (product/service) is your base?

Goals

  1. What is your big goal for your business or what is the mission statement?
  2. What are some immediate or short term goals for your business?
  3. Have you made any changes (products, major price changes, vendors, locations, etc..) to your business recently or are you about to make any ?
  4. Is there a particular part of the market or your customer base that is a priority for expansion/growth?
  5. Is there a product or service you want to push primarily?
  6. What do you primarily want to get out of social media? New sales leads? Better/cheaper customer service? Maintaince of relationships with returning customers? Awareness? Advertising? You can list as many as you want, but please prioritize them.

Practices

  1. What is your philosophy on customer service? Be both abstract and concrete. 😉
  2. How do you show customer appreciation?
  3. How do you handle a difficult or complaining customer?
  4. How do you approach conflicts with your employees?
  5. What are your current marketing efforts?
  6. Do you use sales or specials? How? How often? What are the goals for these?

Love

24 Jan

Photo by Tim Feig

I spent all of last week in Stratford, Wisconsin, the childhood home of my new sister-in-law Jarita (Kulp) Bavido! As appropriate for a wedding, the whole week was filled with all kinds of love—words, promises, actions, abiding presence, old, y0ung, new, and proven. Here are a few pictures of some of the love.

This is the Chinese character for love. Since both bride and groom are fluent in Chinese and living in Taiwan AND in love it was a very appropriate theme. This particular photo shows how the character decorated the not-quite-finished bride’s cake.

Photo by Janet Bavido

It was wonderful to get to know the Kulps better. I found that they are very artistic and have a great love of craftsmanship. For instance, here is Reuben Kulp, Jarita’s grandfather, making a miniature wagon wheel. He sells model carriages, wagons, and harnesses, fitted to whatever type of toy horse you have. Check out his eBay listings!

Photo by Janet Bavido

I was also impressed by these pastry dishes made by Laura Kulp. I love to see everyday things done with care and art!

Photo by Janet Bavido

This isn’t the best photo artistically, but the lanterns are another representation of love! There were 100s of them in the decorations and each is a message from friends of the couple that were not able to make the trip from Taiwan for the ceremony. It was amazing too to see how quickly social media got pictures and notes from the ceremony to these friends!

Both immediate families together!

We clean up pretty good, don’t we? This is not from the official photographer and doesn’t include Jarita’s brother-in-law, nephew, and niece. When we get copies from the photographers I’ll swap them out with this photo.

Photo by Bob Kulp

This is Jarita with her grandmother, Pauline Kulp. Aren’t they both so beautiful?! They’re that beautiful inside too!

Creative Director: Jarita Kulp Camera Owner: Bob Kulp Photographer: ???

This photo was Jarita’s idea and I’m in awe of it! She and the bridesmaids had such a fun time doing it!

These outside pictures happened so fast! Cold is a great motivator!

Photo by Tim Feig

 

Jarita loves surprises so Samuel kept the honeymoon a secret from her. As a member of the inner circle (hehehe!), I knew that he was carrying her off to Hawaii!

Thanks for reading this off-topic ‘Personal Stuff’ post! More pictures will be up on my personal Facebook, if you’re interested!

Facebook Insights

17 Jan

Few things delight my nerdy little soul as much as a graph of a useful metric over time.  I prefer line graphs, but a pie chart can be fun, too. Graphs are definitely the strong point of Facebook’s Insights for Pages. I think even the Cinderella story benefits from some graphs, this one courtesy of Kurt Vonnegut.

What Facebook Insights could benefit from however is some clearer terms.  Here are some I find the most confusing. Hopefully, my explanations help.

People Talking About This

This is a plain and simple interaction metric. It is a sum of unique users who liked, commented, or shared your post. The fun thing about this number is that it displays itself to all your page visitors right under your tabs list on the left.

Virality

First off, does anyone know how to pronounce this?

This percentage metric tells you how many people interacted with your post (liked, shared, or commented) out of how many people saw your post (either directly or through their friends.) In other words, it takes the number for ‘People Talking About This’ and divides it by the ‘Reach’ number.

Story

At first the term seems to imply that it’s a post from either you or one of your fans, but it’s not. A story is generated whenever someone interacts with your post in anyway. You can think of as what would show up in the ticker feed. As we said above, it’s also the ‘People Talking About This’ metric.

One term I was not able to get a handle on was the metric ‘Engaged Users’. Facebook says it’s a frequency of clicks on your story. This is more than just story generations, but definitely less than ‘Reach’. The interesting tidbit I found by clicking on individual posts’ ‘Engaged Users’ numbers is the number of people who have given negative feedback, usually a hiding of the post. This still left questions though because the ‘Engaged Users’ count was still higher than the sum of the negative feedback number plus ‘People Talking About This’ number.

Before I go onto which metrics I watch carefully and do happy dances over, listen to Don McMillan’s comedy sketch about Power Points. His commentary on graphs is gold. “Power Points caused the mortgage meltdown!”

The power of social media are relationships and the conversations that drive them. Therefore, I value the ‘People Talking About This’ metric, even though it’s a mouthful to say. You can get a quick idea of this from the Insights Dashboard (what you see when you first click on Insights), but you really should go its own individual graphs. There you can see…

  • Demographics of people who interact with you. On Cole Butler for Sheriff‘s page I found out that even though the gender split for likes of the page is 64% female and 34% male (where’s my other 2%?), interactions are done by 58% female and 40% male. So, even though Cole has more female likes than male likes (possibly because Facebook has more female users), the males are more likely to interact.
  • Side-by-side comparisons of interactions and the viral reach those interactions provided. This gives you an idea of how deeply you reach into interactive fans’ networks and how influential your fans are. I wish there was a way to overlay these two graphs.

There will be more posts about this topic, I”m sure. We haven’t talked about Edge Rank yet! Stay tuned!

Can You Repeat the Question?

14 Jan

I’m working on some forms and surveys for new customers. This has pushed two things to the front of my mind.

  1. Asking questions is an art.
  2. Social media success is largely dependent on your story-telling ability

Here are some of the questions I ask new or potential clients…

How did you get started in this field? How did your business get going?

Why Claremore? Why did you pick it as a home? Why did you base your business in it?

Tell me about your customers.

To pull in the story-telling side of this, I’ll spin you a yarn by answering one of these questions. Ask me out for coffee if you want to ask me more. 😉

How did I get into social media and think up Magic Bottle Marketing?

I got started in social media in 2008 through politics, just as an activist and volunteer. At that time I found American Majority‘s tutorials on Facebook and Twitter particularly helpful and I still point political activists new to social media to those guides. I’m ever so slowly breaking them of the ‘new media’ phrase. Social media is perfect for political campaigns. It’s immediate, agile, interactive, personable, but still capable of communicating en masse both to supporters and to the broader category of voters. It was a great introduction to the big wide world of social media.

I ‘picked’ the absolute worst time to graduate college: spring 2009. Everyone knew the recession was settling in. No one knew it was going to be a full-blown depression and that it would last through our present time. That fall and winter I found ‘a desperate band of brothers’ in social media–HR professionals, recruiters together with job seekers of every kind trying to find their way back to the American Dream.  I eventually found work (not the best work, but work) through other means. Even though social media didn’t get me hired I learned a great deal about branding from my experiences and the tutelage of some very fine people, professionally and personally. If you’re a job seeker, drop me an email and I’ll be glad to get you in touch with some of them.

Couple of months ago all of these threads came together with other experiences—-a swimming hole as a friend suggestion, the arrival of Google+, a social media workshop where I knew everything covered, a nudge from a friend—and clicked together into Magic Bottle Marketing.


The Awkward Stage

11 Jan

Downtown Claremore

The awkward stage usually refers to the pimple-riddened years where we’re uncomfortably stuck between being a child and being an adult. Personally, I didn’t find my teen years all that miserable, but I think the phrase still has some merit. It’s hard to be inbetween two spots, neither here nor there. This applies to more than just adolescent development. I would humbly put forth that the city of Claremore is in an awkward stage. We are not a small town anymore, but it’s hard to be big 30 minutes away from Tulsa.

1. Claremore is not a small town anymore.

You can always go look up technical definitions on the U.S. Census website and I’ll throw a number out there: 2010 census has Claremore pegged at 18,581. Let’s talk about how it feels as a citizen and a business owner. Claremore has two high schools, 3 junior highs, and 7 elementary schools. Claremore has 3 grocery stores, 5 hardware stores, and 4 Subways. Small towns don’t even have QuikTrips and we’re getting a 2nd (which will be a QT Kitchen and significantly closer to my house than the current one. I’m excited!) Claremore has been hit by the national economic situation and that shows in our busineses that cater to middle-class luxuries. The bowling alley has shut down. We had 5 coffee shops in 2009 and in 3 years we’ve dwindled to one. However, the population size is still there that those type of businesses need–we’re all just poorer than we were before.

My alternate life that I don’t allow on this blog is politics. I can tell you that Claremore is a major player in the 2nd Congressional District and our state reps and senators are important and in leadership positions in Oklahoma City. We’re not in the political player leagues of Tulsa, Edmond, Bixby, or Oklahoma City, but we are in the top 10.

Think about how it feels living here.  How often do you run into someone you know at the store? Do you have to consider traffic in your driving plans? When you travel in the state do people know where Claremore is? Not often, yes, and yes, respectively.

We need to break out of the small-town way of thinking! Claremore leadership and citizens need to quit fighting change for nostalgia’s sake and let big things happen. Trains causing a traffic standstill might be ok in Chelsea, but the situation in Claremore is unacceptable! The city is pursuing some solutions, but they have been set back by grant rejections and they might even be pursuing the wrong solution to start with. Local businesses like the hospital and Pixley’s have put their own benefit ahead of the town’s progress when competitors like St. John’s and Lowe’s tried to move in and the city council aquiesced to their selfish ideas. Thankfully, St. John’s and Lowe’s found ways around (St. John’s settled outside of town in North Park community and I’ve heard that Lowe’s bought land secretly from the Chevrolet dealership), but how many other businesses are we missing out on because of similar behavior? Also, did you notice that neither Pixley’s or the hospital have suffered terribly since? Their hissy fit was pure fear of competition and had nothing to do with self-survival.

2. Claremore is not yet a big town

Claremore is simply not there yet. We only have one movie theater and it’s small. We only have one coffee shop, as I said earlier. We have no nightlife. We have no music scene. We work in Tulsa and drive to Owasso to shop. It’s rather frightening to be so dependent for livelihood and lifestyle on places where you have no voice in the proceedings. I don’t have a magic plan to grow our city. Decades of brilliant minds have been tossing around concepts like suburbs and bedroom communities and still haven’t come up with a best-practice list. I do believe though that Claremore citizens are the best people to solve Claremore’s problems.

In the world of marketing and social media I find myself saying over and over ‘Claremore is not Tulsa!’ Claremore is unique and the relationships are quite different from a big metro. A marketing agency from Tulsa is not going to understand that. Your customers will feel like you’re trying to shock and awe them with high-falutin’ ways. If they’re the least bit aware they’ll know that it’s better to keep money close and not to keep giving it to Tulsa. On the other hand, Claremore is modern enough that businesses need the technological tools of  social media, mobile advertising, and smart ads,unlike the rural towns around us. Magic Bottle Marketing can help you balance these two and navigate this awkward in-between scene. I’m excited to get to work with you!