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Business Plan on a Napkin

October 21, 2010 1 comment

“Business Plan on a Paper Napkin” is a very interesting segment of the startup competition organized by women 2.0. In a not-so-common medium (napkin), how do you articulate your business such that the high points are clearly communicated.  It took us more time to find the right set of pens and the paper, than to actually draw the napkin. The concept was very clear – and, the second rev was the final one.

We had to rush to the drop-box (UPS Store in San Mateo) to deposit the napkin by hand – as we had not time to get it post-marked or sent by mail.  The images below show the preparation and the final napkin, with Business Plan presented on it.

Business Plan on a Paper Napkin – Women 2.0 Startup Competition”]Business Plan on a Paper Napkin - Women 2.0 Startup Competition

Preparation for Business Plan on a Paper Napkin

 

Business Plan on a Paper Napkin - Women 2.0 Startup Competition

Business Plan on a Paper Napkin - Women 2.0 Startup Competition

Read more about the women 2.0 pitch contest and the application process here. View the 2 min Video submitted for the application here.


 

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SME’s catching up on Social Media

SMEs catching up on Social Media

SMEs catching up on Social Media

Small business owners play multiple / every role in their company. They are required to do the accounting, marketing, public relations and customer service. And, it is not hard to see why they don’t have time to dedicate to a social media strategy. Big businesses hire people specifically for social media marketing. Smaller businesses are being left behind.

According to a recent Citibank survey, 81% of small businesses are not using social media. “This survey shows that many small businesses have yet to add new tools to traditional marketing methods that they have found effective in the past,” said Raj Seshadri, head of Small Business Banking at Citibank.

In order to make it easy for small businesses to adopt social media strategies, it is important to  look at the situation from a very grass roots perspective. Let us say, while eating at a neighborhood restaurant that you have never tried; just try to think, “How did I not know about this place?” The answer might be very simple: Chances are nobody in the real world might have told anything. In this social world, word-of-mouth is one of the most trusted sources for new products and services. In fact, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. If small businesses want to get noticed, they have to build a loyal customer base, not just with the people who visit their place of business but with people who have never stopped in.

Social Media results are not necessarily instant – you have to plan your strategies in advance, and consistently and diligently implement your plan – optimizing as you proceed.  The means that you employ should let you do more, with less. Some of the techniques that you can adopt include:

  • Set rules for Follower Management
  • Automate Messages relevant to your target market
  • Give exposure to your brand in every user touch point
  • Create, Compare, evaluate and optimize – repeat

The question isn’t whether a customer wants a product or service…they can figure that one out on their own once they are exposed to them. It’s deciding who they purchase that product or service from, that matters. Be it any channel – traditional like Print, TV etc or the very young social media, there is one common characteristic of your communication – making your messages “conversation worthy”.

In Social Media, Always Be The Host, Not The Master!

Brand v/s Consumer Activity on Twitter

According to a report by eMarketer, “marketers are using a significantly greater share of their tweets to push out news and information rather than converse with other users. Just 16% of brands’ tweets use the “@” symbol, a sign of back-and-forth engagement on the service – very low compared to consumer stats, which is almost 43%.”

Brands activity on Twitter

Consumer activity on Twitter

Stats in Isolation, do not Mean Anything

Indeed, the very fabric of Internet is changing into a platform that facilitates conversation. Consumers are now engaging in conversation with countless others through network of friends, across international boundaries, and who probably they have never physically met – connected through shared interest, belief or philosophy. In this evolution of consumer-brand relationship, Brands that have successfully adapted to the changing consumers are the ones that have found ways to foster and nurture a community of their most loyal fans.

However, an “engagement service/ system” for brands, which is both scalable and efficient, is essentially a community of enthusiasts and loyal supporter who engage for and on-behalf of the brands, and not necessarily the numbers of @ they accumulate over time.

Brands Builds Communities, Gathers Advocates

Let your Community be the Voice of your Brand

Let your Community be the Voice of your Brand

If you are spending your ‘social media time’ to listen to all mentions of your brands as they happen, and respond to them real time –either you are not working strategically or you have surplus resources.  Assigning a dedicated resource 24×7 to respond to mentions is not “long-term” thinking. Listening is very important – and, there is a value in aggregating response, which is not collected in isolation – to understand patterns / behaviors and to identify collective insights of your brand mentions. However, it is neither scalable nor necessary to put a resource for real time response to all brand mentions – as they happen. A real time response is great, but it need not come from you. Instead, a brand can help create and manage a thriving community in each network – that stands up for the brand.  For example, when a prospect asks a question about a product, and a friend from the network responds to this query, the recommendation sounds much more real and convincing.

The Intuit Example

One brand that comes to mind, when you think of community involvement is Intuit. In 2009 the company built community right into their products. Users have become company ambassadors and today, 70% of users get their answers from the community site versus customer support – significantly driving down support costs. Intuit is leveraging Twitter and observing customer-created videos on YouTube that showcase Intuit’s products.”

There are endless list of successful brand communities like Running Plus (Nike), My Starbucks Idea, Dell Ideastrom, eBay Powersellers etc. These communities are present everywhere and doing well with or without user interaction directly.

Bring Community Building in your Agenda

Build your community - From diverse population, with same passion for your brand.

Build your community - From diverse population, with same passion for your brand.

Here are some pointers which will help you kick start your own community with better results:

  • Identify the loyal supporters of your brands – These are the influencers, who amplify your messages to a larger audience, and are those few loyal supporters, who are also respected in their communities. It makes a great sense to nurture, and acknowledge their help in building your brand. Read about how you can get this information from ObjectiveMarketer.
  • Foster many-to-many relationships. A brand community is not a one-to-many relationship—that’s brand autocracy. People need to interact with each other and not simply “the brand” if you want to create a successful brand community. Therefore, build peer-to-peer communication into your structure.
  • Don’t create “more.” Massive amounts of information is being created about your brand and distributed across the web everyday. Rather than spend time asking people to create more content, make it easy for people to enjoy and engage with the stuff that already exists.
  • Let your advocates advocate. The only way to inspire your best advocates is to let them work their magic without interference except in issues of ethics and legality. Your advocates are not pawns—they are your partners, so treat them that way.
  • Observe the 1-9-90 rule. This new rule, pioneered by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li in their seminal book Groundswell, is quickly becoming a standard: 1% of your population will create content, 9% will comment or engage with it, and 90% will just browse. Voyeurs rule the online world, so keep this in mind.

Finally always keep in mind the three golden rules:

  • WORD OF MOUTH DRIVES CHOICE
  • CUSTOMERS TRUST, RELY AND ACT ON ADVICE FROM PEOPLE THEY KNOW
  • ALWAYS BE THE “HOST” & NOT THE “MASTER”

An interesting article was published on The Fast Company, and the following thoughts do great justice to summarize the content of this blogpost “The one thing to remember: the turbo charger (social media) is useless without an engine (passionate customers). Businesses must offer a great customer experience to draw in those passionate customers, who will in turn spread the word about your products and services.”

What makes contents go viral?

August 10, 2010 2 comments

Produce Contents that go Viral

Produce Contents that go Viral

There is no such thing as as “Viral Video” or a “Viral Content”. You produce the Right Content, with Good Timing and Proper Placements, and the chances of your contents getting viral become high. A trigger, a catalyst, right medium are must for the Chain Reaction to take place.

Wish, there was a proven formula! In absence of one, the best ways to understand what works and what doesn’t is to see what has worked and what has not worked in the past. Based on our study of some successful campaigns of the past, the following are essential ingredients for a content to generate enough curiosity and sharability:

Takeaways – A content that is rich in tips that can be immediately applied to your work has a great quotient for like-ability and sharability.

For example, we studied some tweets of ObjectiveMarketer users, and we found that the tweets that received the more number of Retweets consistently  (a measure of viral messages on Twitter) were those that had some  tips or tricks of the trade. Like this one from Trey Pennington, whose Tweet “How to Set up Google Analytis for Facebook” was on a wild fire the day, he tweeted this.

How to set up Google Analytics on Facebook Page

How to set up Google Analytics on Facebook Page

Relevance How relevant and timely is your content will lead to the “immediate absorption” of the content, and “the race to share it first”.  For example, this humor video with sarcasm about the BP Oil Spill Scandal received more than 10.4 million views, only on YouTube. This of course fits in the category of humor – but, mind you – timing is the most important element with humor!

Controversy And, not just for the sake of it.  It is essentially putting across a point of view, and suggesting why the stated is not acceptable. It also depends on the tone, the questions that you ask, and the issues that you point out, that makes for a controversial yet, relevant content. Calling it debatable is a better presentation of this kind of content.

A case in point could be the defense for HP’s ousted CEO Mark Hurd, coming from his close friend, and Oracle chief “Larry Ellison”.  What makes this news (apart from the details of the news) is the statement from Larry Ellison:

“The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago,” Mr. Ellison wrote. “That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”

Now, this statement makes it indeed quote-worthy and debatable! In today morning’s San Jose Mercury news itself, there were two columnists discussing this from two different angles. That is the power of sparking a question, or picking from a flame from fire somewhere.

Humor It is the most over-rated category of contents. If we look at the Top Categories of videos that are shared from YouTube, humor is not necessarily in the top 3.

Top Categories by Share on YouTube

Top Categories by Share on YouTube

But, the truth is, humor spreads fast! It is a great way to tell a story, tell someone that you are wrong, and still not be beaten for that.  Humor is the best bet, if you are not sure about which emotions to tickle.

If you want ONE example of how to use humor and good content – to promote interesting content, you must subscribe to the GoDaddy Channels!

Purple Cow The last tip for today is borrowed from  the very popular Seth Godin’s concept of “Purple Cow”. Who stops by to look at a white cow, every one would, if it were purple! Try something different, unique …larger than life. Share a content not readily available, or about something that not everyone can experience.  Through your story, share an experience, which is real, but, feels surreal.Try updating your message with “Just did Bungee Jumping” and see the comments you get” compared to “Ate Cereals for breakfast”.

Larger than life experiences

Larger than life experiences

So, what is your content strategy? Do you have a story that went really wild online? Share with us!

larry ellison defends HP CEO

ObjectiveMarketer Adds White Label Services to its Social Media Management Platform

Objectivemarketer Logo

Redwood City, CA, July 7, 2010 / — ObjectiveMarketer, the leading provider of Social Media Management Platform that offers solution to manage and measure social media effectiveness, today announced the availability of their white labeling services.

(Press Release) – Jul 08, 2010 – The new white label services from ObjectiveMarketer will provide businesses and their agencies the ability to retain and promote their brand identity, while still using the powerful capabilities of the platform to increase their outreach on social channels.

“It is very important for brands to be present, visible, and searchable. With ObjectiveMarketer’s new white label services brands get maximum visibility at every social footprint and an opportunity to build an overall brand consistency”, said Amita Paul, CEO, ObjectiveMarketer. “There is a big opportunity for brands to establish connection with prospects and customers on social channels, and we want to make sure that there is continuity in these connections. For small businesses, and agencies it is a great opportunity to increase brand recognition”, adds Ms Paul.

Branded Application Names

Branded Application Names

With this latest offering, ObjectiveMarketer users can white label:
  • Application Name that users see as the source of the message. This application name can lead to a custom landing page
  • Branded URLs, which allows great opportunity for brand exposure and brand presence, which gets multiplied each time the branded URL is shared on social
  • The application user interface can be customized with logo and company name
ObjectiveMarketer platform continuously innovates to provide its users with maximum opportunity to meet their business goals including, but not limited to – significant increase in traffic, subscribers, clients, customers, strategic alliances and media attention. The white label services adds yet another powerful opportunity for the users of ObjectiveMarketer to benefit from their social media initiatives.
# # #
ObjectiveMarketer, based in Redwood City, CA, is a fast growing provider of SAAS based social media management and marketing solutions. ObjectiveMarketer provides innovative and powerful solutions for creating, managing, and measuring social marketing campaigns. The platform is being used by companies in the fortune 500, agencies and several small – large businesses in maximizing their outreach on social channels. Amita Paul founded the company in 2009 to meet the growing need of marketers to tap the power of multi-channel social media marketing. Guy Kawasaki and Marylene Delbourg-Delphis are board members. To contact ObjectiveMarketer, go to http://objectivemarketer.com or email info@objectivemarketer.com

5 use cases of campaigns in ObjectiveMarketer

One of the first steps we recommend ObjectiveMarketer users, when they get started with the product, is to “create some campaigns“.

ObjectiveMarketer Campaigns

ObjectiveMarketer Campaigns - Like Folders, you can use to organize your messages.

A campaign means a different things to different people, depending on which side of the business they are coming from. In ObjectiveMarketer, the concept of campaigns is very simple – it is a group of similarly themed messages.  A campaign is created as a placeholder for contents, including messages and assets like YouTube video etc. A campaign in ObjectiveMarketer is akin to Folders in computer used to organize files, or it can be thought of as a Project, or a Program or an Initiative. Usually, a campaign in ObjectiveMarketer can be a part of a bigger organization wide campaign.

The concept of campaigns is one of the most powerful and unique features of  ObjectiveMarketer, which is designed to avoid randomness and to make social media management more strategy driven. The top five use cases suggesting reasons, why creating a campaign can be very helpful in a social media process are:

  1. Better organization of messages
  2. Makes communication more strategic
  3. Ability to audit content
  4. Implement A/B/n test scenarios
  5. Aggregate view of performance

Let us take each of them, one by one, with some real use cases.

Better organization of messages

Tammy works for a digital media agency, offering search, social and mobile marketing services.  To promote, and to increase the brand awareness of her agency, Tammy uses ObjectiveMarketer.  She creates three campaigns, each representing the three different focus areas of her business. For each of these campaigns, she structures her content and delivery options.

A simple way of organizing her messages like this allows Tammy to be completely in the know of where she is spending more time, and which of these areas are working better with her audience on social channels. Now that her communication strategy is streamlined, she can concentrate on things like “how to get new clients, and make existing ones happier”.

Makes communication more strategic

The most important reason why you should use Campaigns is that it allows you to be strategic, and helps you to plan before you publish.

Mike manages social media for a Real Estate business.  He plans ahead of time, what is the content he is going to use to engage his audience with.  He plans on some themes, which are his campaigns in ObjectiveMarketer, like:

  • Avoid Foreclosure – This campaign will share tips for those homeowners who are in trouble with their mortgage. These messages will create a positive image for the company, and will open threads for interaction and better user engagement.
  • First Time Buyer Tips – This campaign will share messages aimed at users who are 1st time buyers. This is a very niche set of users, and the purpose is again to educate and engage with users.
  • Congratulations! Houses Sold – This is an automated message, which is fed from their listing site and each time a property is sold, the message is sent out. This demonstrates the success of business, in very subtle manner.
  • Free Tours – One day of the week the real estate business offers free tours of the properties for the first 50 users who register. This is a promotional campaign, primarily a lead generation activity.

As can be seen above, just deciding upon the strategy of communication, and sticking to them helps you to plan further about what content to generate, where to get it from, how frequent the content needs to be shared and such – saving time, and working on things which have been well planned, and thought of.

Ability to audit content

Debbie likes to create her campaigns by the week.  So, beginning each month she creates 4 campaigns like June Week1, June Week2 … and she schedules messages for her campaigns ahead of time, sometimes for the next week too. This way she can take a look at her whole month broken by weeks even before the reports are generated.

Another interesting use case of creating campaigns for audit purposes is to create campaigns by user names. Each time, a user shares a content that user will select the campaign by her name.  This is an easy, effortless way of keeping tab of each individual users responsibility.

Implement A/B/n test scenarios

ObjectiveMarketer campaigns by design allow you to test different strategies. For example, the tone of the messages, the placement and use of keywords, the use of hashtags. How do you know, which type of messages get you more response from audience? A use case that was tried out by one of the ObjectiveMarketer users was as follows. He created two different campaigns, each one with a contrasting tone. In one, he used a more salesy pitch  and in the other, made it sound more informational – both leading to the same website. What he saw was that both received comparable number of clicks, but, the second one received a higher number of retweets, and got him more followers.  Once, you have identified what works for you, chose that as the winning strategy. And, with the feedback that ObjectiveMarketer stats provide, keep optimizing.

Aggregate view of performance

The best use case of ObjectiveMarketer campaigns is the ability to view an overall campaign performance. You can see an aggregate performance of your campaign, and compare different parameters for all your campaigns. You can create benchmark for your campaigns and try different ways to meet your campaign goals.

Summarizing it all

There are several ways in which a grouping of messages can help you be more systematic and strategic. If you have a use case, which is not mentioned here, please feel free to share. The step before monetizing from any initiative is managing. If you are managing well, you can make better plans for a sustainable business objective. And, the campaigns help you to consolidate, and manage your initiatives, aligning your social media goals with the bigger corporate goals.

As Guy Kawasaki once said,” if you are really trying to take the heat off Twitter Marketing, you better do it right“. And, ObjectiveMarketer campaigns are one of those tools that help you do it right.

Book reading goes social…again.

Journey of a Book – From Prints to Kindle to Twitter

Book Cover The sight of someone reading a book is usually a conversation starter.  You can find the nature of a man, by the cover of the book he is  reading – well, the cover, the title and in many cases, the thickness of  the book suggests a lot about the person reading the book.   I came  across this interesting blog post, where the author tries to find out  what the daily commuters read on local trains, travelling to and from  their work. However, in the era of digital books or e-books, made  more popular through readers like Kindle, Nook or iPad, this “cover  story” no longer holds true. You can not find anything about the  person besides, that he/she is tech-savvy.

Kindle makes book reading social again.

Kindle, an Amazon product, which has 60% of the market share for e-book readers today has rolled out an upgrade to its readers, which makes book reading social again. Now Kindle users can share a line from the book on Twitter and Facebook.  This opens up a new way of sharing what you are reading with your online social group, searching for like-minded individuals through books that they are reading and for publishers, to find out more about the book readership. Few things that need consideration include, copyright issues. Will book publishers allow pictures to be shared on twitter, Facebook and, how are sensitive issues controlled.  Well, we will see.

Using Kindle, book reading can now be a great conversation starter, again!

Read more on this upgrade from Kindle on this InformationWeek article.