Buying online success

Buying online success


Seth Godin looks at retail promotion in the real world and online (“Powerful (and powerless) merchants“) and says that promotion techniques that we have become used to  in offline retail don’t transfer well online.

When we shop in the real world, we take it for granted that end caps and promotions and speed tables and other interactions will not be there because they are in the direct interest of us the shopper, but because they were placed there by the retailer to help generate income. It’s a store, for goodness sake, of course they’re trying to maximize their income. … Online, where stores are more like tools than like stores, this behavior rarely transfers successfully. You bristle when Twitter starts inserting irrelevant tweets in the stream you see, because you didn’t ask for them.

One area online where this isn’t the case is search results. Search for “website design Butler PA” in Google, Bing, or Yahoo and the first results you’ll see on the page are paid results: ads. For many searches, you’re shown more paid results than organic results — that is, results that aren’t ads but are links to pages that are ranked as relevant to your search. Continue reading

Results versus hype: can small businesses realize value from social media?


An article in the Wall Street Journal last week (“Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media,” Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ 3/15/2010) said that a recent study showed that small firms were having mixed results in their use of social media.

In and among the survey results, the article gives several examples of companies seeing a positive ROI on their social media investment. There’s a common thread among them: Each successful firm has been consistent in using the tools over time, and patient in waiting for results.

Some entrepreneurs say they’ve found early indicators that their
social-media efforts are paying off.

“The people coming from social media have been buying,” says Stephen
Bailey, who oversees social-media and other marketing initiatives for
John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd., a footwear and accessories retailer
in Vancouver with about 100 employees.

As evidence, Mr. Bailey points to a 40% increase in online sales in
2009, the first full year the company engaged consistently in
social-media marketing, compared with 2008 when it was just getting
started. He says he can draw a correlation between those figures and
social media by looking at traffic to the company’s Web site from
Twitter using Hootsuite, a free Twitter-management service from Invoke
Media Inc. Other free services that track Web traffic from social-media
sites include Google Analytics, CoTweet and Lodgy.

“The second we started using social media, it became one of the
biggest drivers of traffic outside of search engines,” says Mr. Bailey,
adding that his research shows these visitors spend as much time on as those who come from other online destinations. The
company doesn’t invest in paid advertising on social media, he adds.

John Fluevog Boots & Shoes is one of the companies I give as an example in our workshops on social media, particularly for their use of their Facebook page. Their social media interaction extends beyond Facebook though. On their website they solicit customer feedback, hold contests, and find myriad ways to entertain and engage customers. As Mr. Bailey of Fluevog says, social media complements these other efforts. It’s a useful example of a firm using online networking as part of a larger strategy.

The 6 Types of Social Media Sites

Postvakjes ("Pigeonholes") by Photocapy
Postvakjes ("Pigeonholes") by Photocapy

In introducing social media sites and tools to business people, I’ve found it helpful to group sites into categories based on what they do best and how a business or organization might find them useful.

Here are the categories I use, and the strengths I see in each:

Blogs and podcasts primarily value passion and interestingness. For business, they are most useful for thought leadership, feedback, site quality/search result ranking.

Group networks (like BlogHer) primarily value community and discussion. For business, they are most useful for understanding or targeting a community or market segment.

Social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) primarily value connections and newness/freshness of information. For business, they are most useful for targeting and cultivating community, and for conveying humanness.

Media networks (YouTube, Flickr, Picasa) primarily value popularity, interestingness, and availability of content. For business, they are most useful for distributing content to an interested audience.

Bookmarking sites (Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon) value popularity/change in popularity and archiving. For business they are most useful for trend-spotting and news-spotting, curation/edition/thoughtleadership, and knowledge-sharing within a group or organization.

Twitter (which I put in its own category) values freshness/speed and linking over depth. For business, it is most useful for capturing and responding to feedback, and for communicating one-to-one.

Categories are useful but also controversial: Each person sees things in different ways and places emphasis according to his personal world view. I’m pretty sure that categories are second only to ranked lists in creating flame wars.

But a little controversy keeps things lively, don’t you think?

Do these groupings match how you see the social media landscape? What groups have I missed? What strengths or weakness did I leave out? How do you explain this online world?

20 Presence Management Chores *for Business* You COULD Do Every Day

Garden hand
Photo credit: enviziondotnet

A few weeks back, new media marketer extraordinaire Chris Brogan shared ideas and suggestions for maintaining a personal presence online. (“19 Presence Management Chores You COULD Do Every Day“) The list is dense and ambitious, but the time you put into this kind of effort pays off.

If you’re charged with maintaining the social media presence of a company, the list still holds great value, but it might need a bit of translation. When you speak for your company or for a brand, you’re stepping outside your individual persona, and your actions should reflect that. This is also true if you maintain separate online presences for your personal self and your work self.

Here’s my take on key online presence management chores for a company or brand. Continue reading

Livescribe on Twitter

If you are a journalist, lawyer, salesperson, or educator and you are willing to share how you use Pulse, D me your email.

This screen shot illustrates the conversations you could be starting with not only your existing customers, but also potential customers.

With Twitter, Livescribe is participating in useful question and answer, ad they’re broadcasting their smart, user-centric product development to the public.

Livescribe makes smartpens. The pens record what you hear while you write. Touch something you wrote and the pen plays back that moment of the audio recording. Check out the power and potential in an amazing flash playback here.

I heard of them from Kathleen Danielson. She’s a student who started using one a month ago and seems pleased. I don’t use a Livescribe pen — not yet — but I started following Livescribe on Twitter because it looked like a cool gadget. I have since been impressed with how the development of the technology has played out in Livescribe’s conversations with real users.

Livescribe, like Twitter itself, is essentially a tool for easily recording bits of information about what we’re doing, from multiple sources, and linking them together for playback, search, and sharing with others. These kinds of technologies are limited only by their users’ creativity.

27 Twitter tips — not just for musicians anymore


From, “27 engaging Twitter tips for musicians” that are great advice for non-musicians as well — anyone hoping to use Twitter for professional or business purposes would benefit:

1. Have an objective

What do you want to achieve? If you want to widen your fanbase by building a Twitter community around yourself, talk about making music and eventually try to take over the world, you’ve come to the right place. Knowing what you want is half the battle, stick to the following and you’ve a great chance of achieving it!

2. Be descriptive


Choose an appropriate username, don’t call yourself @TheDarkKnight if your band is called Loose Change. Provide as much information in the bio section as you can, believe it or not, people will read it, as you should read theirs!

3. Get to know your audience

People fill their bios in for a reason, read them, see what they’re into and talk about it. That way you will!

4. Engage with your followers

Trent reznor

The golden rule. Don’t just talk about yourself, take an interest in everyone else. Reply to messages and be as personal as possible. If it’s good enough for Trent Reznor!

Read the full post at

(Thanks to Venangago-gofor highlighting the post.)



Multitasking, online tools, and focus: your mileage may vary


Gina Trapani of Lifehacker muses on whether and how much the Web, email, and the like help or hurt personal productivity:

Over the few years this site’s been in existence, studies have shown that email kills concentration more than smoking pot does, that you’ve got 11 minutes before the next interruption, that dual monitors increase productivity, that no one understands the intended tone of your email, that email overload costs the American economy more than $700 billion a year, and that multitasking kills your ability to focus and get things done.

The longer I do this, the more I suspect that a good part of the
“information overload” story is a myth cooked up by folks who don’t
know how to use the internet well in order to demonize something they
don’t understand. I get more done via email and surfing the web than my
parents ever did using phones and libraries, even when I’m having a bad
day and switch to my email application the moment I see a new message

I debate this a lot for myself. I’ve recently stopped using Twitter, but around the same time I started using instant messaging (IM) to send quick notes (mostly with coworkers). Twitter was definitely draining my attention, and not using it has freed up both time and brain cycles. But IM has been a wonderful tool, particularly for communicating quickly with team members — even when they’re sitting just a few feet away from me (it’s a terrific way to send a link).

So there are no easy answers, and everyone must use these tools differently. Still, I can’t imagine a world without the Web. And even if there weren’t a Web, I’d still have found other ways to multitask.