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8

Nov 2010

Is Facebook capable of emulating everything?

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

I’m not a huge fan of mathematics beyond the basics, and this largely comes from my fondness for the subjectivity of the humanities. But I’ll throw out a formula of my own today, as I think it applies fairly well to Facebook Places and its relationship to Foursquare:

For anyone who’s not a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation (if you’re not, then you, me and Sir Patrick Stewart need to have words), the Borg are a race of half-machine-half-flesh humanoids that want to “assimilate” everything in order to turn the universe into a vision of themselves. They are one consciousness, with only one direction, and resistance is futile. Now, imagine the Borg Queen as Zuckerberg, and Foursquare as the U.S.S. Enterprise.

The scene: space, the final frontier. A vast Borg cube drifts towards the Foursquare Enterprise. Co-captains of the ship Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai (founders of this enterprise, or Enterprise) look at one another. “What do we do?” asks Dennis, looking nervous. “We wait for them to make the first move,” Naveen responds.

The bridge is tense, and eventually a small message is pinged from the Borg ship to the Enterprise. “125 million dollars?” it says, without any real explanation. “My god,” says Naveen, “they mean to assimilate us! To make us another one of their little minions!”

“And for such a low price, too,” comments Dennis. “I say we tell them to shove it.”

So they did, and within mere moments Zuckerberg and co decided to launch Facebook Place’s additional functionalities, like discounts upon “checking in” at various commercial locations. It’s a   simple concept if you’re a social media CEO in today’s climate – you either accept their offer, or watch as they begin to emulate your every move, but with a hundred times your budget. Facebook is – let’s not mince words, here – the behemoth of social media. MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 – all have fallen before its mighty blows, and those who have not died have been absorbed into the amorphous, endlessly profitable mass that is the Zuckerberg enterprise.

Foursquare and Facebook’s new competition to win the hearts and minds of those for whom tweeting about buying coffee just isn’t enough will benefit businesses in a big way. Offering discounts, automated wall posts, vouchers, codes – it’s all advertising. It’s a good opportunity for businesses to play the market with both networks, see which works better for them. If the two companies allow such a thing that is, which I doubt – we may see Apple go the way of Facebook over Foursquare for example, even if it’s only another attempt by Steve Jobs to woo Zuckerberg after their little dinner meeting about Facebook and iTunes’ new Ping feature.

The benefit for users is that your options when it comes to money off are going to get infinitely wider. Don’t see it from an attention-seeking perspective. There’s a major difference between using social media to brag about sitting in Starbucks, and actually getting 10% off your morning coffee because you’re using social media to brag about being in Starbucks. Everything from Foursquare to Lionhead’s Fable III “territories” campaign screams “explore”, and if it motivates you to get out more, then go for it.

The future looks like an interesting place to be, if you’re a social media fanatic. Facebook will begin to encompass every daily activity you perform, Apps will compete to offer the same thing, and resolute little guys like Foursquare will push for your attention. For once, this puts the consumer in the driving seat – take advantage and have fun.

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8

Oct 2010

Who wants more business customers? MePlease.

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

It’s official, using social media can have numerous benefits for small businesses. But what if you just don’t know where to start? Perhaps you don’t run the sort of business where you are able to invest a significant amount of time utilising the many social media platforms available.

Well, MePlease have got the answer. By integrating social media with mobile phone technology, they offer businesses the ability to to reach new clients – and all they have to do is provide their customers with a ‘treat’.

This site is already proving popular with the public, partly due to the fact that it allows its users to control the amount of interaction businesses have with them – drawing in those who would be perhaps less likely to sign up to a mailing list.

The basic premise is this: visitors sign up online and decide which businesses they’d like to hear from, and how often. The businesses then offer treats, which can range from discounts to upgrades or freebies. This not only draws in new customers but, unlike one-off promotional vouchers, allows businesses to keep in contact with their customers, and notify them of further offers. They also encourage users to post details of the treats they have signed up for on various social networking platforms, thus spreading the word about MePlease, and promoting the businesses involved.

Businesses who have already subscribed to the MePlease service include big brand names such as Cineworld, PizzaExpress, Jack Wills, and Bella Italia, as well as small businesses such as Got Fitness and Waxy O’Connors.

However, theirs is not a completely original idea. Foursquare cottoned on to the advertising potential of their location-based social networking game some time ago. With a similar concept to MePlease’s treats system, businesses registered with Foursquare offer ‘specials’: special offers which can be activated by frequent visitors to a particular place and, of course, the ‘mayor’ of a particular location.

Although Foursquare does not engage with all mobile phone users, it does appeal to those accessing social media through a smart phone. It also alerts customers that might be nearby to a venue which gives special treatment to Foursquare users, which gives location-specific appeal over the likes of MePlease.

On the other hand, businesses who feel that that un-prompted promotions are not appropriate or beneficial for the service or product which they offer might consider registering with Groupon. Groupon are possibly the most established site in the promotion of businesses, particularly spa, theatre and restaurant deals.

Despite not actually being a social networking site in their own right, Groupon has undoubtedly achieved notoriety through link-sharing on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Groupon have harnessed what they call “collective buying power” in that, rather than offering the deals to everyone straight away, the discounts are not activated until a minimum number of people have bought that particular deal.

This has proved popular with businesses, as it takes away the risky element that comes with giving away free products. It does not rely on the likelihood of great deals bringing in more custom, it makes sure that they do.

Bar and restaurant businesses are currently seen to be the forerunners in this form of social media self-promotion, but it is not a service available to them exclusively. Fashion website vente-privee.com work alongside a variety of clothes retailers to offer exclusive offers on a variety of designer brands for a limited time only.

The ‘members-only’ appeal of this site, as well as the rewards for making purchases and inviting friends to join, means this site has also benefited from referrals made through social media. With sites like this on the rise, it is unlikely to be long before a whole variety of businesses are able to benefit from similar services.

So if you know you need to be using social media to improve your small business success, but find the whole concept totally bewildering, then worry not! It is certainly worth considering signing up to services such as these, who know exactly how to maximise the promotional potential of these interactive platforms, and will happily do it for you.

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23

Aug 2010

Trading Places: can your small business use Facebook Places?

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

As proved by Starbucks and Converses and use of the word ‘movie’, you can bet you you bottom dollar (pound) that if the American’s are drinking/wearing/doing it, it won’t be long before we are too.

Launched last Thursday, and currently only available in the States, is the new Facebook application ‘Facebook Places’. Places allows you to ‘check in’ at your current location, giving friends the opportunity to see your whereabouts immediately. Are you coincidently attending the same event? Brilliant! Have you skipped their dull birthday ‘do to attend something far more glamorous? Not so brilliant…

As if this wasn’t likely to become addictive enough, you can also tag those that are with you, like you would in a photo or status update, as well as browse other people who are checked in at the same place. Obviously, this has raised numerous privacy issues – something which the site is all too familiar with dealing with.

But what’s the implication for small businesses? Aside making it even easier for skiving employees to be caught out by a social networking slip-up, there are several advantages to using geolocation technology.

Twitter has offered geolocation for tweets since last year, as well as its ‘local trends’ feature allowing local business the ability to promote themselves as a ‘trending topic’. Location tagging network Foursquare also found popularity with small businesses, many which used the opportunity as a free platform to get themselves noticed amongst local customers. Of course, now that Facebook’s caught up, the site’s tendency to crush its competitors (i.e. The Myspace Effect) could see changes in the way geolocation is implemented elsewhere.

Facebook’s huge online presence means this latest development is likely to be even more effective for small businesses aiming to benefit from geolocation technology. Businesses in less commercial regions are advised to offer incentives to customers on geolocation networks in order to generate interest and draw people in from more tech-savvy areas. Teaming up with other local businesses to do this can be even more profitable for the companies involved, as well as the local area.

Geolocation content also has the advantage of operating in realtime, and by featuring in conjunction with social networking sites it offers businesses the opportunity to utilise valuable social interaction. Many businesses already use static location services, such as GPS, but the social aspect of applications such as Facebook Places are much more effective when it comes to networking opportunities.

Of course, businesses (large or small) will be well aware that no amount of advertising can beat social recommendations from real people, and Facebook Places could well be the answer into generating such valuable publicity. Yet whether a rise in corporate use of geolocation technology from those keen to make their make their mark using social media might result in little more then irritating promotional advertisements and more organised after-work socials is yet to be seen.

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14

Jun 2010

How to keep your social media campaign moving forward.

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

So you’ve got a small business, it’s coming up to a year old and things have kind of come to stand still. All the exciting plans you had for social media marketing have pretty much amounted to nothing and in your depression you haven’t logged on to Twitter in over a month.

Do not panic. This is much more common than you may think. With everybody talking about the power of social media it’s easy to think that it solves everything and brings in thousands of new clients daily.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Achieving results from using social media actually requires hours of patience and persistence, it definitely doesn’t happen over night.

Here are a few tips and ideas I’ve come up with to help keep your social media campaign moving forward but also how to keep it fresh and exciting and drawing in visitors.

1. Remember that even though you are using social media to help your business, it is not business media. The key word is ” social”, so you have to be social. Communicate with as many people as you can, look alive not just a corporate machine churning out tweets at the same time every day.

2. Assign a part of your day for purely social media work. Don’t leave it until the last part of your day and likewise don’t do it as the first. Use it as a break from your normal work and then it won’t seem like a chore but something fun to do.

I would personally recommend spending 15 minutes a day at least on each social media site. That time should be divided up. To be successful in the online world you need to a) spend time listening and checking out what is going on, whether it’s your rival, your fans or the news. You need to know what is happening, keep your finger on the pulse so you can react accordingly. b) Reply to the things people say to you, let them know you are real. Retweet some of their tweets, comment on their things. Again it comes down to interaction. c) you need to add new content, this is what gets you noticed by the search engines.

3. Be consistent with all of the above. If you talk to your followers on a regular basis they will soon become loyal . Just a small lapse will send them into the arms of another company, it’s a fickle and fast moving world where you have to communicate to stay ahead of the game.

4. Do something a little quirky, try something no one else has done, it may not work but it will get you noticed. Why not try something like having a guest tweeter for the week?

5. Find ways to engage the internet savvy generation. It’s not going to work offering them things that take ages to collect like vouchers. Pizza Express have the right idea, they send emails out offering 2 for 1 main meals. You can print it off there and then.

Or what about the app Foursquare, their recent collaboration with 8coupons in New York meant that Foursquare users received automatic notifications with discounts when they were in a 3 block radius of an 8coupon deal. This went down pretty well because it was relevant and instant, two things that are crucial to bear in mind as they are the two things people want most.

And finally link all your social media sites together and start to communicate, communicate, communicate. Be patient, you won’t see results straight away  but with a bit of perseverance you will.

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