Social Media for Business: Avoid the Dark Side of the Hype

Hype Sidious on Thisissamstown

Teens are on Snapchat. Facebook is dead – but records 1.55 billion users. Pinterest was and is the new visual thing while Instagram is in the top 3.

In a few sentences, that is the logic of social media summed up.

It is a strange, ever-changing world of magic and fantasy where trolls cross path with gurus and ninjas.

As businesses are making their way towards digital and social media adoption, they also face the dark side of this force to be reckoned with.

Every business can easily create a Facebook page, a Twitter account or any other presence on one – or many – of the numerous networks available. Yet, social presence, especially for businesses, has to be handled like the business itself.

Social media require strategy

A business plan is a mandatory path to starting a business and following a defined line. Strategy and planning is similarly needed for social media. Here are some of the basics to keep in mind when getting started:

  • Audit your brand, message, audience and competition. Define where you stand, what the voice of your business is and who – and where – your audience is.
  • Define the main – most relevant – media to use to listen, reach out and engage with your audience. Nobody can be everywhere and do everything. Select the top 3-4 relevant networks and focus on these. Add some others, if relevant, once the foundations have been set.
  • Create a playbook. Every network has its own parameters and special features. Prepare materials and documentation for all of them. Starting with profiles. Even if the profiles have to be consistent, the size of pictures will differ and so will banners (where some may be leveraged for added communication) and the number of characters allowed in each bio. Get some templates ready for posts and pictures as well.
  • Plan. Planning is the crucial part. Put together an editorial calendar and global repository (if many team members are involved) for content. Create and curate content relevant to your market and industry, stay on top of trends to feed your content machine and plan the posting.
  • Be human. No need to be a robot. No need to wear a positivity mask (I would call your bullshit). Just ensure having human beings behind the tools. Acting like humans.

There is plenty more to say but follow these pieces of advice and you should, at least, be off to a good (educated) start.

Then, I am only a tweet or email away – and a human ;)

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IPhone in store ? The bait and the scarecrow

Scarecrow

Once upon a time I considered swapping my nice current iPhone 5 for the new and seemingly slightly better iPhone 6. Nothing crazy yet.
Since not being in a hurry, the pre-orders frenzy and all the crazy queuing were not on my list and I finally happened to put my hands on a phone yesterday, in a (non-Apple … I know, still beating myself about it) store.

Welcome to the world of Telstra

And welcome to Australia by the way. Since Telstra is major here, not having the iPhone in store would definitely not make sense.
Not only for the sake of being able to offer the main products on the market but also to draw advantage of the marketing impact of the device itself (or devices indeed).

Oh joy, since a few weeks after the launch, The smartphone was there on display for every commoner to approach – and even test – it.
Supposedly.

Customers – sales people

Before moving to hands on matters, I would begin with a slightly more business-oriented observation : the absence of a crowd.
First, not a single body to be seen around the iPhone 6. And nobody apparently willing to show even just a sign of interest for the device.
Ok, I may have come to be more geeky than I thought and all the buzzing around this phone may not mean people should show interest. Still … .
Then, in a shop where a couple of dozens of customers could fit, only one person was to be seen, nonchalantly browsing the various phones on display.
While a bunch of sales people were apparently busy having a chat between themselves. Why should I care ? Well, for once, no one came to me wondering if I may need help with a purchase or just even information.

No touching!

As a customer, I do not necessarily like to be disturbed while quietly browsing stuff I will certainly not buy. And as logic wants it, I would definitely ask, would I need further details.
So, there I was, happy bunny, testing this new iPhone which, by the way, is already too big in its small version and could have kept on offering black as a color.
That is until I set on looking at the touch ID. The oh-so-new feature for me, poor user of a 5 with no such (fun ?) technology.
And so much for conspiracy theorists (yes, the NSA collects your prints from your iPhone) that did actually trigger the most amazing response from the bunch of sales people with one lady rushing to ask me to stop. Because … I would “lock the phone”.
– But “this is a demo, Mam’”.
– “Please stop or the phone will get locked”.
– “Erh … demo ?”.
But facing a crazy look and a person who, visibly, does have no interest in a (minimum) 800 Australia Dollars sale, that was me on my way.

The bait and the scarecrow

This is a more serious take regarding this slightly funny story.
The iPhone, in Telstra’s case, is basically not only an added offering to the range and the ability to offer the full portfolio of devices, it is also a necessary one for a telephony leader.
They basically have to have the iPhone on offer.
But, also, the phone serves as free marketing and lead generation.
I am the example of it as I only stopped at this shop when seeing the phone on display.
And that is the perfect bait – when customer-hunting – as it would draw a population of potential buyers with the ability to foot the bill for a high-end device.
Yet, the bait is not enough. Especially if next to the bait, you put a scarecrow.
In the form, here, of a lazy sales team and a – seemingly – crazy sales person.
Not letting a potential customer test a product is already bad enough but done in a questionable way it then raises further questions, not only on the people but the brand too.

Here, that is a lead lost, a very bad image for Telstra and, well, a post about it which will be read by the hundred of thousands of you (I wish …). 

 

The lesson to be learned

Generating leads is not easy. When you have a bait like the iPhone to generate easy leads make sure to have the right structure in place to handle the second part : closing the deal.
And not just a bunch of scarecrows.

Innovation in the hoods ?

Following a recent article I read on the upcoming doom of innovation (by Peter Thiel), I did mention that innovation rather than doomed would just need to be looked for elsewhere (see on Scoop.it).

That is maybe not in the places currently seen as the capitals of (startup) innovation.

Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, just to mention those have been regarded as the places where the ideas are born.

Yet, we tend to see a trend where new ideas are just old ideas. Where innovation is more about re-creation of an existing bit, with added functions, added colors, etc … but not a game-changing creation.

The recent fashion for looks, for design, the awards given to the best-looking products all tend to show the push is not on the brains but rather on the look.

This innovation is actual pimping.

So, is innovation dead ? Or dying ? Innovation dies, long lives innovation!

Indeed. In the same way as startups are now to be found everywhere in the world, that there is a strong growth in new geographies, so is innovation.

U.S. cities like Detroit had started it, putting an emphasis on resources for new businesses and willing to develop the city. New Orleans with good scholar level and an attractive lifestyle is calling back startups.

In Europe a city like Freiburg has been at the forefront of “green” for years (See this 2008 article by The Guardian) and that can be called real innovation as not only is there business involved but mainly a path taken for people and their future.

It does appear that the “old” realms of innovation look like they have turned their sights towards business more than ideas. Yet, all these new territories (see Techie.com‘s article about U.S. cities topping the charts for high-tech innovation) look like the new unexplored parts where ideas can bloom again.

Innovation is dead. Long live the innovation … born in these new territories.