Archive of ‘Business’ category

If you advertise, at least tell me most people like you…

orange-noel-pub-samsung

Photo courtesy of Christian Mehler

You might think that this is a given. Really, advertising is about showing people how much you are liked by your audience. Right? Well, not always. Very often you see little things slip into images that are used in advertising that might give you a different idea. When I was in Paris for LeWeb I spotted a poster in the Metro that suggests that 2 out of 3 people do not like the Galaxy Note 2. I am not sure whether they just do not like the phone, or whether they dislike it being on Orange. But if one pulls the other two towards the phone, the other two become distinctly unhappy. (Photo courtesy of Christian Mehler who gracefully travelled around Paris on the metro for two days to take this picture for me. Thanks!)

However much you might laugh about it, this is reality in advertising. So, if you are advertising your business or your product, just make sure that it makes me feel like your product is something that I really want to have.

Are you selling your life? – How much is free?

instagram-pay-logoYes, we have all been triggered by the update of Instagram’s privacy and tems of service. Their Terms of use have just been updated to include their ability to sell your username and the rights to use the pictures you have taken to any interesting party.

Rights
2. Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

So, the world is shocked. Or is it? Dropbox pulled off the same stunt in July ’11. Facebook has been sharing your content for their revenue for ages. And most startups are looking for ways to monetize the data on how you use their services. We need to accept that there is no free lunch on the internet.

Though prices of online storage and online technology have been steadily dropping, there still are costs involved in running any internet service. And as everyone is continually asking how you are going to be monetizing your fantastic idea, there is a good chance that you will be coming up with something along these lines as well.

The unfortunate part is that Instagram is now missing out on another great option for monetization. The PRO account. Why did instagram never create a paid account that I can use to share my content? Why did they not allow me to pay them to make their services profitable? And today it is too late. Yes, I have used instagram quite a lot over the past months. But as so many others, I will be removing my account and my images through Instaport. And offering a paid service now is too late. That should have happened before the change of the terms and conditions. Sorry.

If you are working on your startup, please keep this lesson in mind. I know Instagram has got many users, and possibly only a fraction will leave, but it is a trigger that might become the end of rising star Instagram and turn them into a bread and butter startup. So, if you are providing your services to your users for free, please make sure that your monetization will never depend on you selling on their content. Because people never like others to make money off their work.

Money can’t buy you love

Seriously, the Beatles have sung it so many times that anyone that sees the title can probably hum the tune to it. However, marketeers still do not seem to be able to understand that it is the truth. Especially in this age of social media. Money cannot buy you love. However hard you try. And lately we have seen many trying. Over the past weeks, Shell has often turned up in my Facebook timeline. They are talking about how wonderful they are. How much they care about the world and the environment. And only a day or two ago they posted the oil companies’ equivalent of the old boys game “who’s got the biggest”. (See image.) This morning I was greeted by the results of all their money spent. Three of my friends have liked their page. Pathetic.

So, I went to take a look at their Facebook page. It is a site describing Shell in all its glory. Like the sites of so many large companies, you could call it a corporate display of narcissism. The subjects adressed are Shell, and Shell alone. If they address any other subject, it is solely from the Shell point of view. Where working on a less pollutive environment has become about the Shell eco challenge. And even regular oysters are turned into a Shell product. To be honest, it does not matter how many dollars you spend on Facebook marketing, the general outlook does not trigger me to be a Shell fan. And it shows. For a company with over 90,000 employees and almost 500 billion in revenues, a mere 2.5 million Facebook fans should not be something Shell is excited about.

I could understand if you, and Shell, would come up with the argument that its business is fuel. Nobody loves fuel. It is something you put in your tank whenever you want, wherever you are. And that is a reasonable case to make. However, that whole process changes when you put love in it. When you love your customers. When you talk to them. When you address the things that they feel are relevant to them.

I know the comparison with coffee is going to be a big step. But for many, coffee used to be like I described fuels. At some point in time you will be craving a cup. You need it and you bought it whenever you want and wherever you are. And then Starbucks came along. They made buying coffee a rewarding experience. They put the love in it. And if you go to their Facebook page, you see that they care for their customers. This morning when I went to their page, they had just used a customers’ picture as their cover photo. They talk to their customers and address their issues. They even allow their customers to vent their thoughts towards Starbucks. When I visited their page today, there was someone who posted about how Starbucks does not support the military. And 107 comments below the post where from fans defending their shop and setting the record straight. Why? Because they love their shop and their coffee. The 33 million likes prove that point.

If you want to be on Facebook, remember one thing. It is never about the likes. It is about your attitude towards your customers and potential customers. Because your Facebook Page (or your Google+ page, or any other social network page or account) is not about YOU, it is about THEM. And if you remember that, your likes will come. Because they care about you, because you care about them.

Choose: lunch or customers

Image gracefully borrowed from Dilbert.com

Sometimes that is the choice you need to make. Having a successful business often is about choices as trivial as the one in the title. Even though you might have the perfect business that draws people from afar for your unique personality and style, or that unique product. But to lift your business from an average business to a great business, sometimes you just need to make basic choices. Like leaving your lunch.

Yesterday I walked into a large retail store. I was interested in a purchase involving a lot of cash and frequent return visits when I would be spending more cash to keep my initial purchase in great condition. The sales team of seven sat on a table and was having their lunch. I was the only customer in the store. I browsed all their products and did a slow walk around the store. And the only time one of the salespeople stood up from the table was to answer a question from a mechanic -who obviously take their lunches at another time in another part of the building.

The trouble was not with the fact that they were on their lunch break. The problem with this is that I left. And I left disillusioned. Because as a customer I am worth less than their lunch. Their coworkers are worth more than their lunch, but as a customer I have no value to them whatsoever.

Today, choose. Choose to make your customer feel special. By doing little things like giving him the attention he needs.

Cashing is more important than participating – Olympics

Amazing. It used to be that the motto for the Olympics was: “Participating is more important than winning”. But now that all seems to be changed. An article on photography website PetaPixel pointed me to the conditions on which you are buying your Olympic tickets. Amazingly, amongst a list of other things you are obliged to agree to or promise you won’t do, there is a rule about social networks.

19.6.3 Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for commercial purposes.

Yes, you have read that right, you are not allowed to post video, images or even sounds of the Olympic Games to social networks. Or to the internet in general.

Honestly? I knew the Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece. However, I did not know they still adhered to their standards of sharing the experience. Back in the day, drawings and word to mouth would have been the only ways to share what you have seen or heard. And it seems we are back there.

Sharing is dangerous. Especially if you have a high cost event. People might not want to buy tickets anymore. Or the television rights to your spectacle. And that is what it is about, isn’t it? Cashing is more important than allowing people to share their experience. So where is the new social business model for the Olympics? Where is the thought that sharing makes the event bigger? Makes it reach more people. Makes it the event even more worth it for sponsoring campaigns? Where are Olympic Games premium models? Buy a basic ticket and you have got access. But then the fun really starts.

Encourage sharing. And then offer extra’s through social networks. Allow others to experience the Olympics through official online offerings that can be shared with friends. After all, there are more seats outside the stadium than inside. Which means more potential. But a potential that you can only reach through the power of the visitors inside your stadiums. And for them, participating to reach their friends to share their experience is going to be much more fun than people tracking whether they have mistakenly done what they do in every day life. Sharing what they see and hear.

Be a big business, build yourself a call me back button – for free!

You have seen that button at the site of your bank or your insurance company. The button that saves you the hassle of dialing the number. The button that gives you easy access to their personnel instead of having to wait ‘in line’. The button that you would love to have for your small business. A button that allows your clients to get in touch with you by a single click. Up until recently those buttons were quite expensive. But times have changed and I will show you how to get one for free.

*Warning: This blogpost does assume you have a basic knowledge of websites, plugins and forms*

Ok, that said, how do you get that button? Your first step is to get yourself an IFTTT account. If This Then That is one of the easiest ways to build simple actions based on triggers that you set. The first step is easy. Join them. Fill out your credentials and click “Create account”. Done. That is your first step.

The second thing you need is a website. Obviously you have one of those. And your website needs the possibility to publish forms and send them off to a unique email address with a unique subject line.
On your website, build a form that people need to fill out to get called back. Unlike the instant call back from your bank, it might take a message up to 15 minutes to reach you. That means that it would be a great idea to add a field on when someone would like to be called back. In the example you see, mine says you can be called back within an hour and a half, you can be called back during office hours or that evening after 8pm. Other than that I ask people to leave their name and number. Only the phone number is a required field in this example as that is the only information I really, really need to make that call. Think carefully about what you need from your customers. The more you ask, the fewer will use the option.

To make the build as easy as possible, I will assume you have a Gmail account. If you don’t, you might want to make one just for this purpose. You don’t have to look at it ever again as it will only store an email that will be used as a trigger. But it is important to have one so we can use it as a trigger later on.

Have your form sent to your (new) Gmail address and use a unique subject line. Remember that subject line, because we will be using it a little later on. Content wise, make sure that the email you receive holds the fields you have asked to fill out. Mine tells me that “Name” wants to be called at “time set” on “phone number”. A decent smartphone will even make the phone number clickable for you to respond quickly.

Now that you have your form set up and sending emails (test it first). You can go and log on to your IFTTT account. Once logged in, you will see the dashboard. You can add loads of channels to IFTTT for you to use both as triggers as well as output channels. Click channels in the top right corner and you get the overview of all the channels that are available. Find the Gmail icon and click that. Google will ask you whether you want to grant IFTTT access to your email address. Grant access and the Gmail icon will now be all colorful on the site. Then you click the SMS button. Type your international phone number with all the extra’s. Mine should be written as 00653961138 for instance. Then have the system send you a pin code. Once you have received the SMS with the pin, type the pin in the field and you are connected.

Now everything is set to create your unique task with IFTTT. Click create task on the dashboard. Then click the highlighted “this”. The screen will now show all the channels that are available to you. Click the Gmail channel. You are now asked to set your specific trigger. I have built mine around a search for the unique subject line that I added to the email my form sends. Then click complete trigger.

With the trigger set, we need to define an action that IFTTT has to do when triggered. We need to have IFTTT send an SMS to our number. So, click the highlighted “that”. As a channel choose the SMS channel. You then receive a single option. Send me a text message. And that is exactly the one that we need. Click it and you get a new screen. Here you can set the message that is sent to you. On the right you will see a dark balloon. Click it to get extra options that you can add to your SMS. In my case I had cleaned up the form email so much that I just wanted the Email Body Plain to show in my text message. That gives me the name and phone number of the person I need to call and the time I need to call them at. Click complete action and you are done.

You can now name your new IFTTT task. And hey presto, you have just built yourself a form on your site that notifies you via SMS for free.

If you feel this might be too complicated for you, I can build one for you. (In Dutch as well.) Or you can use my IFTTT recipe.

Advertising your Facebook URL or how to compete with the friends of your fans

Facebook is a marketeers wet dream. 850 million people and they are all waiting for you! Or are they? Lets just pop your bubble. They are not. In fact, they are waiting for you just as much as they were waiting for door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen and dinnertime telemarketers. Encouraging thoughts? Read on. There is hope.

Remember your website? Remember how you pushed it over the past ten years? It became your online home. And it still is and should be. As well as you need an office for your company, you need a website as your official online presence. Not a Facebook page. That is like stating that you are a very serious brand, but your corporate offices are housed in the local bar. So, if you are a serious brand, you put your website on your commercials, posters, business cards etc. Not your Facebook page. As 96% of the people who like you on Facebook never come back to your page. Bring the interaction to your site.

Yes, be on Facebook and integrate Facebook, but don’t push your customers away from you and onto Facebook. Just this week I saw a re-launching butter brand and one of the worlds’ largest mobile phone manufacturers advertise with just their Facebook URL. And lets face it, that is not going to work. Because, who would you rather relate to? A re-launching packet of butter, or your friends who are sending you messages. Right. At your own site you do not have to compete with your customers’ friends. And you don’t want to compete. Simply because you cannot win. Regardless of how fantastic your brand is.

Be on Facebook and six quick tips

If you have read my previous post on Facebook, you might be inclined to think that I would advice any company against being on Facebook. But that is not the case. In fact, I strongly believe you need to be on Facebook.

In my previous Facebook post, I used analytical data from several sources to determine that only 0.4% of your Facebook fans actually visit your Facebook page and that only 0.02% of your Facebook fans visits one of the tabs you put on your Facebook page. However, there is a much more important reason to be on Facebook and even to gather likes on Facebook.

People spend a a great deal of their time on Facebook. They come there to share with their friends. To talk. To hang out. Basically, they are not spending time with Facebook, they are spending time with their friends. That is the reason why commerce on Facebook failed, but also why branding works.

“It was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.” That was the feeling why large retailers closed their shops on Facebook. And that is a great analogy. As Facebook is very similar to hanging out at the bar. People share stories, jokes, have fun, play games, exchange thoughts. People are there together. Nobody walks into a bar to buy a suit and neither will someone go to Facebook to do the same.

However, they do talk to the sales manager of their favorite store at the bar. They will exchange stories, ask questions and point others to him. And that conversation is usually what will get them back in the store the next day. That is the power of Facebook. Building that relationship.

Six things to do on Facebook?

  • Be personal
    Not just a company account. Build your presence based on your people and gather them to be the pillars of your Facebook page.
  • Be personal
    Talk to your visitors and your fans. Be genuinely interested in who they are, what they care about and what you can do for them. Not to push a product, but to build a relationship.
  • Be inquisitive
    There is a reason why people like you. There is a reason why they like your page. Find out why. NEVER assume you know! Rule of thumb, if you have not asked and they have not answered, you do not know.
  • Be relevant

    Once you have found out why people like you, you can be relevant to them. You can share with them what they care about. There is a fair chance that they are not interested in you pushing your products. Keep that in mind. But the only way to find out, is to ask!
  • Be sharable
    If you are relevant, you can become sharable. That is the point where you communicate such good content to your fans, that they actually want their friends to know about it.
  • Be available
    The key to it all. You have to be available. People need to be able to talk to you and get an answer. Not just your biggest customers, but everyone. Because it is like that bar scene. If you only talk to your biggest client, none of the others in the bar feel pulled towards you. Even though you might be offering something they want. If they feel ignored, they will ignore you.

Mailbox pollution and the unsubscribe startup

I don’t know about you, but my mailbox is swamped with newsletters, information bulletins and so on. I cannot call it spam, as I might have subscribed to it at some point, given permission through ordering something or it might be of general interest to me. However, it does annoy me. And it annoys me most when I am busy. When I am trying to find that one email, or I am expecting that one response. That is the time when I come across most of them.

All of this got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if there would be a startup that offers a service that goes through your email, analyses it, finds all the newsletters and allows you to unsubscribe from them through an easy interface? As a matter of fact, I can think of other things that can come from that email analysis as well.

If you are a developer or a team looking for a new startup idea, here it is. I have got more details if you get in touch with me. And I can be an advisor for your startup to create this. Let me know.

Update:
There are services like unlistr.com (Windows only), unsubscribe.com (can’t get it to work) and unroll.me which is in beta. I love to hear other suggestions

Facebook, fans and commerce [Data heavy]

Ok, here it is: Facebook is not the holy grail in communicating with your customers. It is not even a nice place for ecommerce. And it is not just me that says this. There are actual statistics that say the same thing. Read on to find out why.

Before I start this, let me get one thing straight with you. I like Facebook. It is the biggest social network where people spend most of their time. We already knew people spend one out of every 7 minutes online on Facebook. Now, new statistics show that visitors in January spent 405 minutes on Facebook on average. So, a great place to be.

 

But that is where it ends. A great place to be. And the main reason is that that is what people do on Facebook. They are. They are with their friends, they talk, hang out, joke, play and all that. Commerce is rarely on their mind when they are on Facebook. Something that has been demonstrated last week when American retailers Gamestop pulled the plug on their store on Facebook after JC Penney and Nordstrom already closed their Facebook stores. “There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts told Bloomberg in a telephone interview. “But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

Data from startup PostRocket agrees with the conclusions of Sucharita Mulpuru and gives extra insights into what is happening at Facebook. One of the biggest misconceptions on Facebook has to do with people liking your page. For most marketeers the reasoning goes something like “Hey, we’ve got 4 million fans, so those are people who are ready to buy our stuff.” However, data from BrandGlue indicates that 96% of the fans will never return to the Facebook page after they have liked it! And keeping in mind that a lot of page likes are gathered by advertising on Facebook, most people will never have visited the page in the first place. But assuming that all of your 4 million fans have, only 160,000 people will ever visit your Facebook page again.

Now we get to the PostRocket figures. Through their analysis they have found that the number of Facebook page visits amounts to 0.7% of your fan count. In our example that would give our page 28,000 views. Through the same analysis it was found out that a Facebook page only gets 0.4% of its fan count in unique visitors. In plain English, only 16,000 of our 4 million fans visit our Facebook page on a given day. A good e-commerce site like Gamestop (who had 4 million Facebook fans) brings in around 180,000 visitors every single day. That is over eleven times more!

But it gets worse. Facebook points your fans to your wall. Which means that if you want to sell anything to your customers, you need to install a tab application in Facebook. Data shows that non-landing tabs on Facebook pages only get between 1% and 10% of the page visitors. And the 10% is only reserved for ridiculously well performing tabs offering a direct discount or a super interesting deal. For the sake of argument, lets just take the average. Based on the 16,000 unique visitors we calculated before, only 800 unique visitors will actually be visiting the store (or another tab) on your Facebook page.

Long story short, on average only 0.02% of the fan count of your page will actually be visiting the tabs you created on your Facebook page. Can your situation be different? Of course it can be. Is Facebook a lost cause for companies? Certainly not. But you need to keep in mind that people are not on Facebook to buy. They are on Facebook to share and to hang out. That means that creating a good ecommerce site will easily beat your efforts on Facebook. Just something to think about.

Starting with a passion, a coffee and a bike in Serbia

This morning a friend of mine pointed me to a team of people in Serbia who do what I am always on about. Following their passion and trying to make an impact. Without David’s knowledge he pointed me to an area that has had my interest since the nineties when I met a friend from Belgrade.

This team is based in Novi Sad and wants to reach out in a positive way to the city and its people. How? By starting a Cafe and bike kitchen as they call it themselves. They want to offer great coffee, good food and great bikes. All of them with a sustainable twist to them. I particularly like that for every bike they sell, they are going to donate one to someone who can’t afford a bike.

Yes, it is a business with a business model. Selling coffee, food and bikes. But it is also focused on the community as they plan to make it a place for art, music, free classes and programs. This is an approach I love.

Check out the video and support these guys through their IndyGoGo project.

Entrepreneurs don’t care about the current economic climate

Yesterday I visited one of the many New Year receptions of our region. It was hosted by the local chamber of commerce and this meant that the chairman did his annual New Year’s speech. Unfortunately he forgot who he was addressing. His speech was full of the terrible economic climate, the changes we all need to make to not go bankrupt and how the chambers of commerce are going to be reorganized to help entrepreneurs do that. He forgot that he was addressing entrepreneurs. I bet his speech would have gone down welll with governmental types. But not enterpreneurs.

Walking around during the reception part, every single entrepreneur I talked to told me that they are expecting a nice 2012. They all saw new possibilities for their companies or their products. Some of them are hiring for that growth already. Unanimously they thought the speech was crap.

When I headed back home last night, I was happy to see that none of the outside factors influenced the real entrepreneurs. They are not bothered with what the outside world says, they see an opportunity and they move on it. And those will be the entrepreneurs that will make it. The ones with vision for their future, passion for their company and a drive to succeed.

Are you influenced by the news on the economic climate? Or are you seeing new opportunities for you and your company?