Success Tip: See yourself as others do

The key to success is not how you see yourself.  It is how others see you, speak of you and think of you. 

Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to work with some fabulous companies and look at what their social media map had to say about them through their own words and the eyes and words of others. 

As part of our annual CorePurpose brand assessment, I pulled the text of the CorePurpose Blog, CorePurpose website, the @Replies from all five of our primary Twitter Ids along with other online sites and mentions and ran them through a program to get the top words in a cloud.

 jkw cloud

What you see is what we got.  If you were to do the same exercise for your company, what words would you find?

Your brand is how OTHERS see you.

Social Media and the wider web is a powerful tool.  Today more that ever, as entrepreneurs, marketers, and individuals, we have the opportunity to help  shape our brands.  What is out there is at the fingertips of every customer, investor, employee and employer. 

Our words and actions shape how others see us. 

What we say, what we write and what we do form a body of evidence that will follow us for a very long time.  What we don’t say and don’t do can have an equal impact.

If you want to succeed in today’s world, here are some things that anyone can do to build an online body of evidence about who they are and what they offer to others:

LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to tell your professional story.  Make sure it is complete and accurate.  Your LinkedIn connections are your professional network. Guard them well.  Use judgment in making and  accepting connections and keep it professional.  You never know when someone might want to check you out.

Facebook

On the personal side, how you interact with your friends says a lot about who you are.  Are you sharing and caring?  Funny or smart?  Facebook is a great place to let your hair down and interact – but remember to use a bit of tact. Professional contacts just might stop by to see the “real” you. DON’T embarrass  yourself by sharing things you might wish you had not later… and that goes for your photos too!

For your business, project, or group, set up a Facebook page. It’s a great way to share news, ask for feedback and interact with people who have something to share about what matters most to your business or organization.

Twitter

What are you doing, reading or thinking about?  Twitter is a great way to share it and find out what is interesting to others too.  With a wide range of tools and apps to help you find your way around, Twitter let’s you connect to a larger world than the one you may have built face to face.  If you are interesting and willing to reach out and show interest in others, interesting people WILL find you and you can find them too.  Twitter is the place to be inclusive.  Cast a wide net and you just might connect with people that you would never otherwise get a chance to meet and share ideas with.

Blogs

Have something to say or share?  Blog it.  Be creative and consistent.  You might be surprised as to who might be interested and willing to join the conversation.  Let people know when you share something on your blog with a Twitter update or Facebook post.  There are even tools that will do this for you automatically. You have gifts and knowledge to share. Don’t be stingy.  Put it out there.

Websites

Over 25 years ago, a friend shared with me that the day will come when if you do not have a website, no one will believe your company is “real”. That day has definitely arrived and with so many easy and inexpensive  ways to build one, there is no excuse not to.  Whether your website is a simple 5 page brochure on your products and services or something much more sophisticated, your website tells people who you are and what you have to offer.  Don’t make them  guess.  They probably won’t bother.

The power of any tool lies in the hand of the user.

What you see above is a selection of the most common tools you can use to  build your personal or business brand in today’s socially connected world.  There are many, many more. But a tool is only a tool.  It becomes useful in the hands of the craftsman. (Yes, that’s you.) We use tools to build things up and tear things down.  How you use your tools will say a lot about how others see you.  Be remarkable and people will build your brand for you.  Be invisible and your brand will be too.

Don’t assume anything.  Check! Audit your social media presence.  Track what people are saying and be sure to respond with a “thank you” when it’s positive and a solution to the problem when it’s not.  When you do, you just might find that who you or your company have to offer is written in the  clouds.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits as well as to community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.   Beginning on 2009, she decided to learn more about the evolving world of social media.  Today she is connected to a community of over 150,000 and the lessons she has learned have been profiled in The Social Media Bible and The ROI of Social Media.  You can find more posts about what she has learned along the way by clicking here. To learn more about how CorePurpose and the CoreAlliance can help you grow your business in 2011, you can contact her by clicking here.

CorePurpose  is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.  CoreAlliance is a  service mark of CorePurpose Inc.  All rights reserved

You Can’t Tweet Your Way to the Top

Their are multiple ways to get there, but only one top. (Photo Sourse: www.traditionalmountaineering.org)

I was talking to a marketing friend the other day about one of my business projects.  It’s a  book we had published with author Amilya Antonetti titled The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams

We need leaders and teams now more that ever and The Recipe is a little book with a BIG message.   It brings together the ingredients, the tools, and the easy to follow instructions for success all wrapped up in a great story that is fun to read.  But for it to make an impact, lots of people need to read it.

With that in mind, we created a set of goals:

  1. Get the book to hit #1 on Amazon.  (Don’t laugh – yes I know that Amazon fame is fleeting but it’s an important proof point.)
  2. Get the book placed on the shelves of Major Retailers and Independent Book Stores
  3. Get the book placed into mass retail channels – Not everyone buys books at bookstores.
  4. National Media Tour and Speaking events to move the books off the shelves of the book stores and other outlets and into the hands of readers
  5. Partnerships with other best selling authors and thought leaders to help move things along

If we hit these goals, we’ll achieve one of our key objectives  –  to get the book to The Top of the major books lists –  the ones that really count. You know, like the the New York Times.

 Circling Back

That brings us back to the conversation at the beginning of this post.  When she asked HOW I plan to get the book moving faster up Amazon – and I said Twitter – she started to laugh and said …

“You CAN’T Tweet Your Way to the Top!”

Now I am not totally unrealistic.  I understand that social media is an integrated platform where blogs, tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn, websites, and other tools all work together.  The big question is this:

If you truly are connected into these networks and you put out a call to your friends and team – is anyone really listening and more importantly  – will they act?

Well, I am reasonably well connected so I thought – why not try.  After all, I have been sharing my thoughts on my blogs, articles, and in person.  Maybe it’s time to to put it to the test.  Here is a little bit of what I have been talking about:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpXup9coPcE&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1]

This video was recorded live in January, 2010.  Since then the numbers have continued to grow.  As of June, 2010 the count was over 100,000 friends on Twitter alone across five different profiles.  Combine that with Amilya’s following and other friends, that’s a pretty good reach.

So here is what I am  going to do: 

Recipe cvrThis Saturday, June 12th and Sunday, June 13th I am going to ask my social media friends for help in getting the book to The Top on Amazon.  

Here are the tweets I am going to send.  I am keeping them simple since that is what another friend I GREATLY RESPECT told me to do. 

I’m trying to get #TheRecipe by @Amilya to the Top of Amazon TODAY.  Can you help?  http://amzn.to/cXvaLK

Can you help? I’m trying to get #TheRecipe by @Amilya to the Top of Amazon TODAY.    http://amzn.to/cXvaLK

#The Recipe is a great book for you AND your Team  http://amzn.to/cXvaLK – We’re trying to get it to the Top of Amazon Today.  Pls Help.

It’s a little book with a BIG message.  Please help us get #The Recipe  http://amzn.to/cXvaLK to the Top of Amazon Today.

#Leadership and #Teams matter.  Please help me get #The Recipe  http://amzn.to/cXvaLK to the Top of Amazon Today. 

We’ll see what happens. 

If you see my tweets or Facebook notes on Saturday and Sunday, perhaps you’ll do me a favor and RT.

Better yet, you might buy copies for yourself and for your team mates.  It really is a wonderful book.  Don’t just take MY word  for it.  Check out the reviews at the bottom of the Amazon Page.  🙂

We are starting out at Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #125,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) Let’s see how far it can go. If Amazon says they’ve run out of stock – wouldn’t that be nice – don’t let that stop you.  More are on the way.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by and for any help you can give.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Are you an Original?

Do you love sharing original ideas with others?  Have you found that when you do conversations start and collaborations form? 

For over 15 years, one of my favorite friends to talk with and work with is Clay Stubblefield of AZWebcasting

Clay is the ultimate professional and so creative.  One of his creations is MeetTheTweets, showcase of videos introducing us to people we hear from on Twitter. 

One of my creations is a little project called #BeOriginal – a place on Twitter where friends share their Original Ideas. 

We thought it would be fun to combine them, creating #BeOriginal Week on Meet The Tweets. So we put instructions out on the #BeOriginal Blog and let some of our #BeOriginal Contributors know where to find them.

And, since I am ‘the original #BeOriginal’, I created a little video message to kick things off.

Here it is.  Let me know YOUR thoughts. And don’t forget to be on the look out for new great videos from other Originals.  Just follow @MeetTheTweets on Twitter so you do not miss any.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEDqzXboo5E]

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Sorry, I’m not a LION.

No, I’m not talking about this majestic lady – Queen of the Jungle, I’m talking about LI-ONs, Linked In Open Networkers.  People who pledge to connect to everyone on Linked In who sends them an invitation.

You can normally tell a LION by a profile that reads LION or by their membership in a LION group.  Some people make the mistake of assuming that someone that has 500+ connections is by default a LION, and that can be a costly mistake.  It can result in a DNK or I Do Not Know this person response.  Get too many of these and your Linked In privileges can be restricted.

The Laws of the Social Jungle are Relationship Based

Successful networking, whether it is face to face, or profile to profile in cyberspace is about creating relationships.  Once the relationship is formed, then you can move on to real conversations whether it is in the business world or the personal realm.  When forming relationships, it is important to understand how the other person chooses to communicate and share information.  It also helps to understand the boundaries or personal space preferences of the other person and adapt your behavior to theirs.

Listed below are my personal boundaries.  That does not mean they will be the same for you, but they might give you some ideas when you form your own.

Linked In

  • Inclusive – CorePurpose, my company, has a linked in page to share information.   I also share ideas occasionally on a number of Linked In groups including Lead Change, MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix, Continuous Innovation, Corporate Planning & Global Industry Segmentation, Forbes Woman, and Marketing Partners
  • Exclusive – I limit my Linked In connections to people I actually know and have done business with.  Having been on Linked In from almost the very beginning, I still have quite a few, but every single one is someone I know and can personally recommend to others.  This enables the true power of Linked In – quality introductions.

Facebook

  • Inclusive – CorePurpose, my company, has a Facebook page.  On it you can find blog posts, articles, and links that I choose to share.  Facebook pages are highly inclusive.  Like web pages or blogs, anyone can choose to see them or follow them.
  • Exclusive – My personal profile by definition is more exclusive.  If Facebook is for friends, then my personal choice is to keep it to friends and not connect to every person who finds my profile and wants to connect.  I want to know what my friends are doing – and to do that, I intentionally keep the group smaller so I can actually find them in the crowd.

Twitter

  • Inclusive – On Twitter, I am at my most inclusive.  I look for like minded people and I auto follow back the people who follow me. But more importantly, when people engage and talk to me with @mentions or non- automated DM’s, I engage with them and join the conversation. 
  • Exclusive – My exclusivity comes into play when people wear out their welcome.  Spammers, scantily clad avatars, porn, and hateful people are quickly unfollowed or even blocked.  I also go in once each month and clean up my accounts,  You can see how I do it here,

It was an article on CNN.com,  Defriending Can Bruise Your ‘Digital Ego’, that got me thinking about all this.  You see, I probably was “this one woman”.  The message is one that I use frequently when contacted by people on Linked In that I do not know.  It is not meant to be unkind, or rude,  Just realistic.  If I do not know you, I can not recommend you, and that is how I use that particular tool.  ‘I only connect with people I know, and hopefully our paths will cross one day.’  I am not that hard to connect with and engage in other areas.  Really – just Google me.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

The ICK Factor

ICK - Incongruent Customer KnowledgeMillions of articles and blogs have been written on the topic of branding.  Google the word  ‘branding’ and you will get over 33 million hits! 

Unfortunately too often, businesses spend lots of money creating and protecting their marketing message and not enough time protecting the value of their brand. 

Too often we forget that there is a  difference between our marketing message and our brand.  Put simply, our marketing message is what we say about our company, product or services; but, the true measure of our brand is what OTHERS think about us when they hear our name.  So in a real sense, our true brand value is our company’s image as reflected by Customer Knowledge.    Customers form impressions of what our company truly is based on what we say – our marketing message – and what we do – our actions. When they do not match up you get ICK – Incongruent Customer Knowledge.

When what you do and what you say are congruent, customers believe in what you say  and you.  This adds to your company’s value.  At other times the message and actions are not congruent and no matter how much time and money you spend touting your product or service, your ICK factor is a BIG negative thus detracting from your company’s value.

Making Promises to employees, partners, customers, and investors.

Promises can take many forms.  They may reflect what the company does directly, or they may be the promises shared in the marketing message, the Annual Report, or  employee communications.  But however the message is delivered,  when you promise a specific result, people expect to get it.

+ Keeping the promise = a strong POSITIVE brand reaction.

– Breaking the promise = a weakened brand perspective – just ICK!

Did you know that Your Marketing Message itself can create a negative feeling of ICK and deplete your brand?

Here are a few examples of mistakes I see too often when I log on to Twitter:

  • Messages or Mentions offering to “Grow my Twitter” following from ‘experts’ who have less followers than I do.  (If the whole point of a quality following is to understand who you are talking to, you’d think they’d look.)
  • Branded corporate sites that only talk about their products and never share or engage with the community to add value.
  • People who send ‘conversational’ welcome messages via a DM but are not following you.  If you take the time to respond back – only to find that they are not following you – the message is highly incongruent.  Not only are you not really welcome – they can not even hear you!  Major ICK!

But incongruence and ICK are not unique to social media.

Very often we share statements of our company’s values on websites, in our annual report, or even in our advertising.  But do our actions reflect those values? 

Here is an example of a corporate statement by Halliburton Corporation.  Did you read it?  Sounds great!  Now read this article from ABC news: Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR (KBR Told Victim She Could Lose Her Job If She Sought Help After Being Raped, She Says.)  Do the actions of Halliburton/KBR match their words? 

Customer Service: The Hall of Shame

But it is not just Halliburton (the company everyone seems to love to hate these days) that falls into the ICK.  Check the marketing message of almost any company and you will find statements talking about how important their customers are and how well they serve them.  Yet, as you can see in the image at right, some well respected national brands have made the Customer Service Hall of Shame as reflected in this article from MSN Money.  Whether it’s due to internal processes, lack of resources, declining quality, or just a general lack of customer sensitivity, these are firms that need to really pay close attention to their ICK factor.

So how do you avoid ICK?

Avoiding ICK, should be the goal of any company that places any level of value on its brand.  Here are some basic common sense guides to follow:

  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. EVER.
  • Establish Corporate Values that are shared across your company and base your processes, decisions, and actions on keeping true to those values.
  • When you make a mistake – or something unexpected happens – and it will sooner or later- don’t place blame – just own up to it and FIX it.  Taking responsibility and working to fix the problem is a great way to minimize the ICK Factor when the unavoidable happens.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

ICK Factor, Incongruent Customer Knowledge (TM)  2009 – CorePurpose, Inc.

Copyright – Joan Koerber-Walker/CorePurpose, Inc. 2009

Go Forth and Raise Whuffie

In less that one month, entrepreneurs from around Arizona and from other parts of North America are gathering for AZEC09, The Fourth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference which will be held in Tempe Arizona on November 12, 2009.  

AZEC09 continues the Arizona tradition of bringing together thought leaders in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media together for a full day of sharing ideas, making connections, and even launching new companies and products that started with Jump Box in 2006 continues with another great new idea that emerged from last year’s conference and will be debuting this year. 

Each year our lunch keynote is a special treat, someone sharing great ideas that each attendee can take back to the office and put to work in their business the very next day.  Past keynotes have included Michael Gerber author of the best selling E-Myth, Dan Morrison, CEO of IT ToolBox, and Matt Mullenweg founder of Word Press.  This year, at lunch we’ll be hearing from Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor, as she inspires us to raise a little whuffie. 

What – you don’t know what WHUFFIE is!  We’ll let’s get a sneak preview from Tara as she answers the question …What is Whuffie?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyFaWoiL6Cc]

In addition to learning how great companies are putting Whuffie to work in their businesses, AZEC09 is an opportunity to gain insights from Michelle Robson, the founder of EmpowHER, get the latest from Kevin Surace on the strategies that are helping Serious Materials succeed in the eco friendly building materials space, get the latest developments in Healthcare 2.0, hear from panels of local CEOS who generously share their secrets on how they are building great businesses,  and get the scoop from Howard Lindzon on the state of Venture Capital.

But, like everything else in business, you can’t win if you do not show up. 

And since winning is so much fun, we have even decided to liven things up with some great prizes during the day thanks to some of our generous sponsors and partners.

So here’s your chance to win.  Register now for AZEC09 and if you do so before 8AM on October 16th you can even save $50 with the $99 early registration rate. (At 8:01 AM on the 16th tickets go up to $150.)

It’s your chance to Engage, Connect, be Inspired and WIN.

I know where I will be on November 12, 2009.  How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Chairman, OTEF, The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation

Host organization of AZEC09 , AZEC08, AZEC07, and AZEC06.

AZEC08 November 12, 2009

P.S. – You might be wondering who those great sponsors are…so here’s the list:  The Business Journal Phoenix and Infusionsoft – who have generously stepped up EVERY year, as well as Mashable, Microsoft, Affordable Image, The Town of Gilbert, Metro Studios, Pour Masters, Gangplank, Stealthmode Partners, CorePurpose, Brent Spore, Chuck Reynolds, The Performance Magazine, and  The Social Media Bible.com, PLUS our great friends and community partners at The Knight Center for Digital Media, EO, TiE-Arizona, and The Arizona Technology Council, Social Media Club Phoenix, The Phoenix Innovation Foundation, PodCampAZ.

What would you do if your friends all disappeared?

Poof!  Where did everybody go?Have you ever had a dream where you were surrounded by people and then in an instant you were all alone? As if a wizard waved a magic wand and all of your friends disappeared? 

Hopefully in the waking world, there are no powerful wizards to wave a magic wand and make your true friends evaporate, but in today’s wonderful world of technology, it can seem like everything is fine and then… Poof – your Twitter account is gone, or you have lost your email and phone contact list, or worse you have lost EVERYTHING on your computer! 

Suddenly you are looking around saying “Hey – Where did everybody go?!”

It would be great if this too only happened in fairy tales; but, I have heard too many real life stories from friends who have it happen to them.

Perhaps the information was on a work computer and they lost their job.  Or, their Twitter account got taken away for a reason only Twitter knows – and good luck getting someone to tell you why any time soon.  And even if they do the damage is already done.  Oh no,  those little green meanies attacked – a computer virus infects your computer and your phone all at the same time and a lifetime worth of contacts disappear in a puff of smoke.  Now this is the stuff that any business person’s nightmares are made of.

It can happen to anybody and happen it does – frequently.  Every one of these scenarios happened to friends of mine in the last few weeks.  So it helps to add a little redundancy to your life.  Here are a few tips…

For Twitter

1.  If you are on Twitter and your Twitter ID is linked to your job, start a personal Twitter account that is not work related and ask you real friends on Twitter to follow you there too.  That way, if you change jobs, you have not lost all your friends across the twitterverse,  You know, the ones you spent all that time developing relationships with.

2.  Use a free service like TweetTake to down load a CSV file in Excel once each month.  I do this regularly after my monthly clean up process.  Another free service, Tweet Back will soon have this process automated so you can do  it every day.  That way if you do have a problem you have list to try and restore your friends list from.

For your personal and business contacts

1.  Connect with friends on multiple platforms like Facebook, Plaxo and LinkedIn.  That way if your personal computer systems fail or your job goes away, you have not lost all your key contacts. An added plus to these systems is that as your friends move around – you get the updated information too.

2.  GMAIL is a great free back up plan, even if you do not use it as your main email address or client.  Simply export your address book from MS Outlook or other program to a CSV file and upload it to GMAIL.  Now you have a free back up on the Google network of servers.

Like it or not – your life is linked to your computer

1.  Have multiple computer back ups!  Back up your computer regularly and have more than one back up file so that if one gets corrupted the other one works.  (This is also critically important if you also keep key personal or financial information on your home or laptop computer not to mention all your pictures and other priceless digital keepsakes.)

2.  Remote Back Ups are like Fire and Casualty Insurance – just common sense.  For your home or for your office and especially if your home IS your office, having everything in one location can be a problem.  Fires, floods and break ins can and do happen.  A remote back up system can be a life saver.  There are a number of systems out there, one that is very reasonably priced (<$5/month) is Mozy by Decho, for larger systems, like an office, I have had also had great results with Data Preserve.  There are lots of services out there, but which ever one you ultimately choose, having a remote backup is not something to WISH you had the day AFTER you have a problem.

Yes, your digital life can change like that – Poof!  It never hurts to be prepared with a little magic of your own.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

One Twitter User’s Guide to House Cleaning

Is your Twitter account starting to look like the house of that little old man down the road who never weeds his yard and never throws anything out?

Is it full of clutter, empty boxes, things that are broken, or that you never use.

Do you still have people on your Christmas Card List that  sent you a card in 1995 and you have not heard from since?

Perhaps when you read this, you may think I have  taken a page from Oscar the Grouch, but there are times when you need to bite the bullet and Clean Your House.

For me, the whole point of Twitter is to build a community of people to exchange ideas with, keep in touch with, and engage in conversation.  If you follow one or more of my profiles on Twitter or follow my blogs you know that I believe that solid relationships – business or otherwise start with conversations.

If you are using Twitter for business, another important factor comes into play.  Understanding who you are talking to and trying to determine if they are even listening.

It’s like the newspaper.  They may have a million subscribers – but how many actually read it cover to cover every day.  For all you know your ad or letter to the editor is the happy pad for a new puppy, the bottom of the bird cage, or in a soggy pile at the bottom of the driveway.  If you do not take the time to understand who is actually reading the papers, your time and the money you money spent in putting your message there ends up where the paper eventually does – in the trash.

So a few months after starting to use Twitter, it was time to clean house. I set up a system for a clean up day once per month.  Here is what I do.

1.  Run my Twitter account through TwitChuck.  This free service will scan your follower base for known spammers and Chuck Them Out.  You can even WHACK them with a block if you are feeling particularly grouchy. (Pay attention when you do this – TwitChuck uses an algorithm and it is not perfect.  Look at the Avatars to see if you recognize real friends that may have gotten scooped up with the trash.)

2.  Run my Twitter account through Twitter Karma (another free service) and look at it with 2 different sorts:

First I sort by Only Following to see the people who are not interested in what I have to say.  These are people who I may have followed after a keyword search or who followed me and unfollowed later.  For what ever reason – my message is following on deaf ears.

Then I CHECK ALL using a convenient button, and then un check sources I want to follow anyway like news services or information sources that often do not follow back. Then another magic button – to unfollow – and they are gone.

I then wait a few minutes for the program to do its work and then do a sort again, this time looking at the last time tweeted.  Sorting this way I can see the people who are not there anymore.  Same process – check the boxes of anyone who has not been there for over 30 days and unfollow them.

After all – the lights may be on – but nobody’s home to visit with.

This is also a good time to do a quick scan of Avatars for folks with no clothes on, the same pic on multiple accounts – a BOT characteristic, or other disreputable folks you may not want to be associated with,

A FEW CAVEATS: 1) Twitter Karma works best with FireFox.  2)I have been told not to use this after you get to 8,000 friends as it can hang up. 3) When looking at last time Tweeted – pay attention to tweets that come up as a NEVER tweeted. Some of these are spammers – but others are people who protect your tweets.  Be careful not to WHACK your Great Aunt Sally.   She may cut you out of The Will.

Your first time can be painful

The first time you do a major cleaning, it can be a bit painful.  You just might find that you have quite a bit of clutter to throw away.  When you do, be prepared.   YOUR FOLLOWER COUNT WILL GO DOWN.  Many accounts will automatically unfollow you when you unfollow them.  So if this is important to you, please don’t call me screaming.

It also takes a little time at first; but after the first time, it goes much faster.  It only takes me about an hour total  to clean up all five of my accounts.

Plus – with a little daily dusting – BLOCKING spammers that send me DMs or @ replies, the process gets that much faster each month.

So what’s the ROI on cleaning house?

Remember my goal is sharing quality conversations with people.  Here are the benefits I have found…

  1. My twitter spam – that daily annoyance – has gone way down in my stream.
  2. When I talk to my publisher or marketing team, I can share with them our count of “ACTIVE Followers”.  They may not be listening all the time, but at least we know they are picking up the paper and MIGHT actually read   the message.
  3. My brand is less likely to be tarnished by porn or other garbage when others look at who I am following or who follows me – and PEOPLE do!

So if your goal is to engage in conversations that have value on Twitter – and to spend your time (which is money – don’t ever forget it) sharing your message with people who might actually listen and respond back, then it might be time to Clean Your House.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Responding to Feedback in a New Age of Communications

One of the most important things any business can do is listen to feedback from its customers and partners and put it to good use.

One of the worst is to assume that poor service or unfair dealings will go unnoticed.

j0433180[1]Over the last week, I have seen a number of communications, sent by others, where social media platforms from email, e-newsletters, blogs, and Twitter have been used to point out serious breakdowns in service relationships.

It used to be that if a customer or business partner was unhappy, you might get an earful.  Or at the worst – you loose the relationship and they tell ALL their friends about it.  But in today’s new age of communications – it goes well beyond that. 

Service failures can become public knowledge VERY quickly as evidenced by two posts that I saw within 30 minutes of each other one evening on twitter.

 image

ZaneSafrit Wow. We will NEVER use @directv again! Here’s why: http://adjix.com/fx5t

2576 followers on Twitter

hardaway 3 TVs and none work. Cox in Phx much worse than @comcastcares  😉 at my neighbor to watch Obama:-)

5387 followers on Twitter

In other cases, entire sites or profiles are dedicated to voicing customer displeasure:

Angela RussellSTATEFARM_SUCKS Angela Russell ~ Please read how the opportunistic predator State Farm took advantage of a widow & 2 little girls.

9440 followers on Twitter

cnsucks In addition to a twitter profile providing micro company reviews, Company Name Sucks has developed a website to capture them easily. They have over 1,000 company listings.

4123 followers on Twitter

(Note – the comments shown here are for illustration purposes and come from publicly available Twitter streams, websites or blogs.  CorePurpose has not researched the associated claims or contacted the companies listed to offer an opportunity for a rebuttal.)

I’m not taking sides in any of these disputes – that’s not the point.

The point is that in today’s social media world, dissatisfied customers have a forum to air their displeasure quickly and to a larger audience than ever before.

But it’s not just social media platforms. People are using a wide variety of electronic mediums to make their opinions known.  And in some cases it is getting totally out of control…

One example, I watched evolve this week was a dispute between a local businessman – who is fairly well known in our community, and his former business partners/service providers.

j0438655[1]The businessman posted a piece on his blog/email newsletter on Sunday with some pretty scathing remarks about the breakdown of his relationship with several of  his former collaborators. (The post did not name names, but anyone who had watched his business evolve could figure out who they were.)

Then on Tuesday, I received an email from one of the businessman’s service providers containing the other side of the story. 

The message was making a case defending the service provider’s actions and reputation.  It included allegations of unfair dealings, a bounced check, unpaid bills, and worse on the part of the businessman.

In this case the service provider was an electronic marketing company.  I am assuming that his message went out to the businessman’s entire contact database for the following reasons: 1) I did not know the sender but I did know the businessman and was in his database,  and 2) many others in our community, who I assume were in the same database, received the same email.  I know this because FIVE more of my friend forwarded the email to me within minutes of my receiving it directly.  AND now there is a new blog up – cautioning people not to do business with the businessman  and actively soliciting other stories of how the businessman is not a good person to partner with.

It’s a sad situation all the way around.  No one will win this particular fight.  They both are going to come out with black eyes.

What can we learn from this?

Unless your company is perfect, and I have yet to find one yet that is, sooner or later someone will be unhappy with your service.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1.  The best defense is a good offense.  Continually review and update your service delivery processes to avoid service failures in the first place.

2.  When a service failure occurs – FIX IT.  Respond promptly, courteously, and try a little empathy for the customer’s position.  In these cases, if you show flexibility and a willingness to solve a problem – you can turn things around.  Lack of flexibility – as in the ZaneSafrit/ @directTV example – just makes matters worse.

3. Know who is talking about you!  Today’s new media offers lots of tools so you can scan the landscape and hear what is being said.  At minimum have a Google keyword search set up that flags you when your company name pops up automatically.  You  can also use tools like SocialOomph to do the same thing on Twitter.  – Hopefully you can then catch a mention like the one in the Hardaway/Cox example if you are paying attention.

4. And as to putting up your dukes to start swinging in cyberspace – Please don’t! Most of us do not want to be subjected to that.  All though in the the long run, the lawyers may benefit when the fight escalates to the next level – and they very often do!

Yes, there are two sides to every story.

Unfortunately the negative ones tend to travel a lot faster than the positive ones.  So take a tip from me and learn how to respond to feedback in this new media age. 

You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Is Twitter part of your business strategy? Should it be?

Earlier this summer, I was asked by my friend, Dr. Julie Smith David of the Arizona State University Center for Advancing Business through Information Technology (CABIT) to present on Twitter Applications for Business.  I will be speaking there on Tuesday September 8th.  If you read this in time and would like to attend, the contact information is provided below. Best of all it’s free.

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I was incredibly honored to be asked, but I had to wonder… why would they want ME?

I am not a social media expert let alone a twitter expert.  I’m simply a business executive and corporate strategist trying to figure out where all this stuff fits.

I have yet to find all the answers, but one thing has become very clear.

Social media is simply a tool.

Think about your social media tool kit like a set of screw drivers.  You have different types of screw drivers for different needs.  Sometimes you use them alone or sometimes you use them together.  We use screw drivers as tools to help us…

  • Build things
  • Take things apart
  • Make adjustments
  • Fix what’s broken

The same screwdriver can be used to fix a broken electrical socket or to build a nuclear power plant.  It all depends on the the goal you set, the plan you develop, and how you go about executing.

The same can be said about social media.  Websites, Video like YouTube and Vimeo, Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are simply tools we use to create conversations, build communities, listen to our customers, and deliver our message.  These tools can help us as business people to do the very same things that the handy screwdriver can do – Build, Disassemble, Adjust, and Fix what’s broken.

Just remember – the tool is NOT the strategy.  It’s simply something you can use to achieve the goals you set.  Your message however IS a key component in any strategy.  It’s how you share what you are trying to accomplish.  That’s where social media fits for business – as a community building messaging tool.

You simply need to choose the right combination of tools to drive your message home.

Since Tuesday’s talk will be focused on Twitter – here are some tips for using Twitter as a tool for what it is best at:  Community Building, Customer/Audience Interaction, and Message Delivery.

In any good strategy you start with a goal, develop specific tactics, choose your tools and people resources, establish metrics or milestones, and execute while adjusting as needed.

Twitter, like the screw driver, works best when combined with other tools for more complex projects.  Here is a listing of tools and tips you can use with Twitter to make it more effective.

Community Building:

Twellow is a great tool for finding people with shared interests.  You can search by key words like Information Technology, CEO, Entrepreneur, Leadership…you get the picture.  You can also search by locations (City, State, etc) if you are trying to build community in a specific region.  You can find people you want to follow and if you are offering good content in return, many will follow you back.

Conversely, for the people you might want to avoid – TwitChuck is a good resource.  In a matter of minutes, it can scan your friends and followers to identify known spammers and other inappropriate tweeters like porn sites and bots.  (You can also check your own reputation to ensure that you are considered a ‘Good” person to follow.

As you are getting started, and even after you are well established, Twitter imposes follow limits. These are important to know and understand.  You can read them here.

Be Friendly! When someone follows you, I believe it is common courtesy to give them a follow back.  If they then abuse the courtesy with spam or inappropriate content – you can unfollow them or even block them so they can not come back later.  To save time you can automate this process using SocialOomph (formerly known as TweetLater.)  This service will automatically follow people that follow you – a BIG time saver.  The service also has a feature for auto replies when people follow you.  This I highly recommend NOT doing.  It is a common practice of spammers and by veteran twitter users is considered very uncool!

And whatever you do – DO NOT SPAM your followers.  The point is to offer helpful information, share ideas, and create value to your followers.  If all you do is talk about your products, your blog, your ideas and never interact with others – people will stop reading your posts very quickly! Even worse, people can block you – ruining your online reputation.

Also, unless you are intentionally forming a closed group – DO NOT protect your tweets.  This is counter to the whole principle of building a community.  Plus for many third party tools, they will not be able  to see them and people will not find or follow you!

Customer/Audience Interaction

OK – you may be thinking – I am looking at this as a BUSINESS tool.  What do you mean it’s not all about me and my product or service!

Think about twitter as a giant focus group.  As you build a community you have an opportunity to listen to what current or potential customers are tweeting/talking about.  People who follow you have shown some level of interest –  their opinions count!

You can even use Twitter Search to find people who are talking about your company or your product – or your competitors.  Talk about a great market research tool!  Then you can choose to follow them and join the conversation.

Interacting with customers means listening, starting a conversation, and engaging them.  To do this – think about what you want your Twitter brand to be before you start.  It may be that you need multiple profiles for different customer groups, products, or for you corporate message as opposed to that of your CEO for instance.  That was appropriate for me over time and in the end I developed FIVE different Twitter profiles based on the type of information I choose to share.  This post helps explain it.

The first rule of interaction is always – You get what you give.  Follow people, share interesting content, and offer value, and that’s what you will get in return.

Message Delivery

Now we get to the important part – message delivery.  The point of Twitter for business is that you want to START a conversation that can be continued.  Sometimes you can do that exclusively in the twitterverse, but more often that not, you want to be more expansive – that’s where your website, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn Group, or other social media tools come into play.  You can use Twitter to invite people to view your other content platforms.  Does it work – Absolutely.  Here is an example.

I have two blog sites for my company.  One on TypePad and one on WordPress.  They have exactly the same content and have been around for the same amount of time.  The TypePad Blog gets promoted on Twitter.  The WordPress blog using simple SEO.  Now the real test.  Does Twitter make a difference?  YES!  The TypePad blog has 100 times more RSS subscribers and 500 times more visitors after only 9 months! Oh and my website – CorePurpose.com gets more traffic today that it ever did with managed SEO alone.

How much time does all this take?  I can’t be on  Twitter ALL day!

This sounds like a lot of work and  a lot of time.  But after you get things set up efficiently, it does not have to be.  Personally – my ‘Twitter Time – is less than 2 hours total each day – and that includes all of the reading of the articles and other tidbits I share that I would be accessing anyway.

Here are some of the tools that help me be more efficient.

Twitter itself is not the most user friendly interface for day to day management of large communities.  If you are managing multiple profiles – Seesmic is my tool of choice.  For single profile users, TweetDeck is also a popular alternative.

Going to be away from the computer and want to schedule tweets for a different date or time?  Both SocialOomph and my favorite HootSuite can allow you to put your tweets on autopilot cleanly and professionally.

It’s up to you to determine how much time you give to Twitter.  Just remember you get back what you put into it.

Lastly – if it turns out that Twitter is a key tool for executing your strategy, there are lots of professional out there that can be hired as in house community managers or outside consultants.  These people can help you fast track your Twitter experience and in the long run save you time and hopefully get you towards your goal  faster – plus they can help you stay on top of the latest developments.

This may be one of the longest posts I have written to date- but now you have what you need to get started.  If you want to learn more about my personal journey in trying to figure out how  all this stuff  fits, visit the category section of this blog.  You will find a section on social media and more musings  there.

So does this work for business?  You decide.

For me, my community – between my five Twitter profiles is over 22,000 after 9 months.  My followers are focused on the areas I want to focus on.  My website and blog traffic is up and so is my business.  And, I have made new partnering contacts I could only have dreamed of before.  So for me – It’s been worth the ride.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker