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Social Media & Small Business

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via EMarketer

Most small businesses satisfied with results. A difficult economy has helped spur small businesses to adopt social media marketing in greater numbers, according to “The State of Small Business Report” from Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. Social media usage increased to 24%, from 12% the year before. The most common usage of social media among small business was a company page on a social networking site, followed by posting status updates.

Social Media Tactics Used by US Small Businesses, December 2009 (% of respondents)

Small businesses’ expectations of social media seem roughly to be in line with their experiences, although they are not quite as successful as they had hoped. Respondents’ top accomplishments were customer acquisition and placing their own businesses within the market, but did not meet expectations fully. Social media’s capabilities for staying engaged with consumers and collaborating with other businesses, however, were more in line with businesses’ expectations.

Performance of Social Media Tactics According to US Small Businesses, December 2009 (% of respondents)

Most small businesses say they are just breaking even with their current usage of social media, but a solid one-fifth find it profitable already. Businesses are positive about the potential as well: Nearly one-half believe it will make them money in the next 12 months, and another 39% think they will break even on it. Just 9% think social marketing will continue to be a losing proposition.

Current and Potential Impact of Social Media Marketing on Their Business According to US Small Businesses, December 2009 (% of respondents)

Overall, 58% of respondents felt social media lived up to their expectations. One-half felt it took up more time than they realized, but only 6% claimed negative comments on social media had hurt their business. “Social media levels the playing field for small businesses by helping them deliver customer service,” said Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service, in a statement. “Time spent on Twitter, Facebook and blogs is an investment in making it easier for small businesses to compete.” Previous research on small businesses and social media use revealed a somewhat rocky relationship. A Citibank study indicated social media was not working well for small businesses’ lead gen efforts, but other data showed small companies would be upping spending in the channel.

Why Social Media Is Worth Small Business Owners’ Time

via BusinessWeek

YouTube (GOOG). Flickr (YHOO). Digg. Metacafe. Stumbleupon. Technorati. Kaboodle. Fark. Furl. Swik. Mixx. Are social media tools like these the future or simply new ways to waste time? Can’t we slow this train down?

Unfortunately, we can’t. But if you think about it, we don’t want to either. The Web is a vital source of innovation, and it levels the playing field between small businesses and corporate giants. The only problem is keeping up with the pace of its rapid (some would say rabid) advances. Taking advantage of all the Web has to offer is like eating your vegetables or getting exercise—most of us don’t do enough, and even those that do could always do more.

The first thing I want to encourage you to do is relax. Take a deep breath and release that tightness in your chest. This column isn’t about making you feel stupid for not knowing what is, or chastising you for not having three extra hours a day to spend tweeting and blogging. I simply want to encourage you to get started. (For background on social media, check out this story.)

The Price Is Right

Activity in this universe has thus far been dominated by innovators and early adopters. But now that the early majority is getting in the game (with the late majority right on their heels), the numbers are starting to swell. Facebook, the most popular of the social media sites, has nearly 200 million users worldwide. LinkedIn is like Facebook for professionals, and more than 30 million of us have signed up. And Twitter—not even three years old—tracks thousands upon thousands of instant message “tweets” every day. That spells significant opportunity—whether your customers live around the world or across the street, you can find a lot of them online.

The biggest reason to use social media is that it’s free. You can be a significant player online without laying out any cash, and in this economic environment cash is king more than ever. It does take time, though, and in business time is money. But getting up to speed on social media is like learning to ride a bike; it’s difficult and intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it you can get where you want to go quickly—and even enjoy the ride.

Think back 15 years or so, to when you first heard of the term “Web site.” Your first thought was probably “What’s a Web site?” quickly followed by “Why would I ever need one of those?” Now, of course, some of the tiniest mom-and-pop shops in the farthest corners of the world do business on the Web. You probably had the same reaction when you first discovered blogs, text messaging, and even e-mail. Many of today’s flavor-of-the-month social networking sites will go the way of the dinosaur, but the medium is here to stay.

Jump Right In

The key to getting on top of social media is not investing a fortune on expensive new initiatives. They key is to get your hands dirty. Pick a site, find a spare hour or two, and sign up. Experience it as a user, and observe how others are using the site. Only in doing that can you come to understand not only how it works, but how it might relate to your company. As outlandish as it may appear at first, there’s probably an application of it for your business.

Let me give you an example. I’m not an early adopter, but I do have a Web site and blog, I use text messaging frequently, and have Facebook and LinkedIn networks. I had been hearing a great deal about Twitter, so I decided to spend part of a recent weekend getting up to speed on it. At first I was lost, but before long I figured out what the community was about and how I wanted to develop my network. I even made a business connection my very first day that made the investment of time more than worthwhile.

Interestingly, I found that, unlike me, most of the people now on Twitter would fit the “early adopter” category; when I searched for a wide variety of clients and other professional colleagues, most of them weren’t there yet. But with that small investment of time, I now have one more social networking tool in my repertoire. And I now know how to fit it into my business practice in a way that isn’t overwhelming or intimidating.

Dividends Within Weeks

If you were to take on, say, one social networking site per month, by the end of ’09 you would be ahead of 90% or more of your peers (and your competitors). And it would have the added benefit of helping you relate to the emerging workforce for whom all of this is second nature. If you do, I’m convinced you’d have at least one new customer, product idea, or other business-building asset to show for it within weeks. Give it a try. Pick a site, log in, and get started. If you find me there, introduce yourself. I’ll be happy to show you around.

Written by Daniel Casarin

marzo 5, 2010 at 10:10 am

Pubblicato su Trend

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Small Business Trends for 2010

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via Jeff Korhan

The Trends in a Nutshell

  1. Human-Centric Businesses – Business used to be about companies.  Now its about people.
  2. Collaborative Markets – Markets are no longer about selling to buyers, but collaborating with them to develop better and more sustainable solutions.
  3. Sustainable Communities – Organizations of people are evolving from exclusivity to inclusiveness.  This creates more sustainable communities where members place their trust in each other.

The Evolution of this Perfect Storm

All of these trends are simultaneously converging to create a perfect storm of opportunity for businesses, especially small or entrepreneurial business that are characterized as having personal relationships with customers.

If you go back to the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, there was an emerging technology that changed the world of marketing.  That technology was television.  In the midst of an expanding post-World War II economy, middle class consumers embraced television.  Television had reach.  People had discretionary income.  And all of this created a new era of consumerism that helped make many brands household names.

Television was a marketing technology that made everything more expansive by bringing it to a larger stage, and that fit perfectly with the growing economy.  What followed was a love affair with the automobile, highly stylized fashions, and countless consumer products guaranteed to make your life a dream!  Those companies were at the right place at the right time to capitalize on the converging trends of the day. Needless to say, some of those industries and companies are faltering today.

Human-Centric Business is Local

If you are an entrepreneur, YOU are now at the right place at the right time.

The technology that is transforming the business environment in your favor is social media marketing. It is giving everyone a voice at a period when people have gone through some tough experiences.  They want to move forward, but it is still uncertain where this economy is going.  Until that happens, they are looking for people to trust.  This means they are going to be doing business in their local communities.

This is why every Fortune 500 corporation has a presence on social media. They know that business is going local.  They are seeing how social media is leveling the playing field to create equal opportunities for every company. In a nutshell, they want to be more like you.

Your challenge is to be who you are, a human-centric business that is willing to reach out even further than you already have.  Social media is a tool that is ideally suited for that, and most significantly, it’s influence is sustainable.

Written by Daniel Casarin

gennaio 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Pubblicato su Strategie, Trend

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Enterprise 2.0: Marketplace 2009

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Latest analysis of the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace for 2009 with over 70 social computing platforms evaluated.

The term Enterprise 2.0 itself is used to describe “emergent, freeform, social” collaboration tools in the workplace. In their simplest form that means blogs, wikis, and social networks and we’re seeing wide adoption of these types of tools in the workplace this year. In fact, nearly half of large companies around the world have these tools in one form or another.

The challenge is that because it’s such an interesting space both in the consumer world and the enterprise, that means there are lots of players including commercial products, SaaS (hosted online), and open source. Sorting them out and figuring out which ones are strong contenders is hard work.

Read the full analysis of the Enterprise 2.0 Marketplace for 2009: Robust and Crowded. The Enterprise 2.0 Marketplace Map is below, you can also click on the visual to expand it to full size. You can get a list of the companies and their segment ranking here.

Map of the Enterprise 2.0 and Social Software Space for 2009 (similar to Gartner Magic Quadrant
Click To Enlarge

The visual is broken down into two primary: incumbent enterprise players that are frequently taking their CMS, DMS, and ECM systems and adding Web 2.0 features such as tagging, blogs, wikis, and user profiles, or Web startups and open source-based firms that have built Enterprise 2.0 apps from the ground up.

There’s a third category that represents the Enterprise 2.0 “Sweet Spot”. Only a few products reached this critical space (marked in green in the upper right) because they are both enterprise savvy and capable as well as had the right ingredients to enable Enterprise 2.0 and create vibrant internal collaborative communities.

Further Reading: The enterprise microblogging marketplace for mid-2009. The folks over at CMS Watch have created their own version of the enterprise social software map as well. You can read the details from Tony Byrne and I’ve included one of their key graphics below:

CMS Watch Social Software Sextant and Map for 2009

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 29, 2009 at 10:02 am

Pubblicato su Trend

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Social Media Marketing e Turismo 2.0

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Ecco le slide dell’intervento di Claudio Vaccaro, che quest’anno era incentrato sul Social Media Marketing per il turismo 2.0: ovvero come strutture turistiche, agenzie e imprenditori del settore turistico in generale debbano e possano improntare una strategia di marketing e PR sui Social Media, incrementando la reputation ed engagement grazie all’approccio conversazionale.

Social Media Marketing per il turismo 2.0

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 27, 2009 at 7:21 am

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Social Media Sharing Trends 2009 – Cosa Condividiamo sui Social Network

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via SocialTwist e Social Media Explorer

We’re starting to see an interesting by-product of cool social media tools emerge: Research pulled from user data. One such effort, a new study released by SocialTwist, makers of the content share widget Tell-A-Friend, reveals some interesting facts about how people share information online. You can see the report in its entirety on the SocialTwist website.

First, let’s set the expectations appropriately. The data behind the study is collected from anonymized user data for people who click on the Tell-A-Friend widget where it is used on blog posts, newspaper websites and more. That widget represented just below this paragraph, is similar in functionality to ShareThis, AddThis and others. While the design, functionality and placement of the widgets do skew the data in various ways, the widget has served almost two million billion (yeah … with a “b”) impressions to date, so there’s a lot of data there. The parts of the report that caught my eye included the following:

  • People still share via email and instant messenger more than via social networks. An astounding 59% of all shares on the widget were done via email, 25% via instant messenger and just 14% were passed along on networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Twitter, which has recently emerged as the share site du jour for those in the social media world, accounts for only one percent of all shares. Facebook is 11%. Yahoo mail is the highest individual share channel at 26%.
  • Yahoo (44%) and MSN (25%) mail are way ahead of Gmail (19%) as the email provider used by Tell-A-Friend users.
  • Facebook accounts for 79% of all shares via social networks. MySpace is second at 15%. Twitter is just 5% of all social network shares via the widget.

SocialTwist is the creator of the popular social media sharing widget Tell-a-Friend. SocialTwist takes the sharing experience to a whole new level and turns a simple sharing button into a powerful referral marketing tool. SocialTwist helps marketers position their products and services correctly in all visitor communication (shares). Ever since its launch in September 2008, Tell-a-Friend has emerged as a popular referral marketing and social media sharing tool for big brands like Intel, Bertelsmann Media, P&G etc. Today, SocialTwist enjoys a user base of 50,000+ websites and blogs using Tell-a-Friend.

SocialTwist’s Social Media Sharing Trends 2009 Report is based on the social media sharing behavioral analysis of recent 10 million referral messages sent using the Tell-a-Friend widget. The report provides details of the most preferred medium of social media sharing, the popular and emerging channels, and the social media trends to look out for in 2010.

Major Findings

  • The top channels of sharing include, email, instant messenger, social networking sites
  • Despite the social media revolution – traditional forms of networking like email and instant messaging continue to be the most popular mediums of sharing content across the Internet. Nearly 60 percent of overall sharing happens over emails.
  • Since it opened itself to all age groups in September 2006, Facebook has displaced MySpace as the most popular social networking site especially when it comes to sharing content online.
  • It is clear that Twitter is perceived to be a news broadcast platform and not a “sharing” platform. It enjoys only 5% of “shared information” traffic among popular social platforms.
  • Bookmarks are rapidly losing their significance in the social media space. Only 2% of shares happen over Bookmarking sites.
  • When it comes to email services, Yahoo Mail is still the most preferred, followed by MSN. Gmail is way behind.
  • Google’s services like Google Bookmarking, Google Talk, Gmail, and Blogger have failed to replicate the brand’s search engine success online, especially when it comes to ‘shared information.’
  • LinkedIn, as a networking site, ranks the lowest when it comes to social media sharing.

Email is the most popular channel for sharing information

Most Used Social Media Channels

Analysis shows that the most popular channel for sharing content is email. Nearly 60 per cent use email to share content. However, fewer people like to manually type in email addresses. Just about 10 per cent of email shares had people typing email addresses.

Instant Messaging with 25% of total sharing was the next preferred medium followed by Social Networks with 14 percent.

Top 10 channels represent 97% of the total share.Twitter shares have risen 23X in the past one year

Most Popular Email channels for sharing

Of all the email services used, Yahoo Mail with 44 percent is the most used for sharing followed by MSN Mail with 25 percent. Gmail enjoys only third place with 19 percent.

Yahoo mail is the most popular service followed by MSN email

Most Popular IM channels for sharing

Yahoo Messenger is the most popular IM service among all others when it comes to sharing – it enjoys 49 percent of the total number of shares. MSN Messenger follows with 34 percent of shares. Here too Google comes at the third position with 15 percent of shares.

IM is the second most shared channelYahoo and MSN lead the pack

Most Popular Social Networking channels for sharing

When it comes to social networking sites Facebook is the clear winner with a whopping 79 percent people using it to share with their family, friends and acquaintances. MySpace follows with 15 percent of shares. Twitter enjoys a meager 5 percent of shares.

Facebook is the most popular amongst all social media channels

Most Popular Social bookmarking sites for sharing

Bookmarking sites seem to be losing out as a preferred channel for sharing when compared with other social media channels. In this space, Digg stands out as the most popular bookmarking site followed by Google Bookmarks and Delicious with 11 percent and 12 percent respectively.

2% of the total shares happen over bookmarks with Digg as the clear leader

Most Popular Blog channels for sharing

When it comes to blogging services, WordPress with 45 percent and Blogger with 42 percent are the most popular platforms for social media content sharing. The surprise element in this space is Typepad, which is never used.

Wordpress and Blogger are the most popular blog channels

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Pubblicato su Trend

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Future of Search: More than Social

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As you probably know, both Google and Microsoft have entered into a partnership with Twitter and is now incorporating social search into their regular search engines. This is a big deal because social is a very important element of the future of search… it’s not the only part though.

When it comes to searching, a search engine is supposed to do one thing very well. Find stuff, from highly relevant and trustworthy sources, in relation to you as a person. Let me give you an example: Let’s pretend that you live in Australia, and that you are looking to buy a new car. You might not know this, but the entire country of Australia is pretty much divided into three types of car owners. People who drive a Holden, people who drives a Ford, and other people who drive something else (yes I’m making a blatant generalization).

But, here is the thing, the reason people drive a Ford over a Holden (or vise versa), isn’t because the car is better. It is the result of the community that they are part of. Their friends drive a Ford, their Parents drive a Ford, and the annoying neighbor drives a Holden… so you also drive a Ford. It is the same with other types of products. If most of your friends use a Dell, then you are also very likely use one yourself. If your friends use Heinz Ketchup, then you will probably use the same brand. As human beings we are heavily influenced by what other people use, and depending on who those people are, the more likely we will be influenced by them.

So how does this relate to search? Well, so far, Google and Microsoft have based their searches on things, instead of people. If you searched for recipes for tomato soup, they would find the ones that were most popular by other sites, or their relation to the specific search query. And we get a pretty good result, but from generalized perspective. Twitter on the other hand is really good at people, or to be more precise, it could be good at it (it isn’t really yet). But, Twitter covers what people close to you, in terms of influence, are talking about, and if you can combine that with Google’s general results then you have something really spectacular.

If you combine this targeted+personal+influenced+people+content+ranked search result (need a shorter word for that), then we would suddenly get some real answers. If you search for tomato soup, it will not just find the biggest sites, it will look at your social stream to see whether there are anyone there who are really good, and who has an opinion that matters to you. If you are following a person who is into food, then her opinion is ranked higher than just any regular website.

But more important, it will not just look at the stream, but actually analyze it over time, It will extract what it is really about. It will compare that to many other algorithms, and finally match the content with you as a person. If you search for Ikea, not only would pages more relevant to you be ranked higher, but also, you would be able to see what people feel about the brand, the specific product, all ranked on how close that source is to you as a person. And, it is not just search that could use this. Google could create a people-rank API, so other sites like Tweetmeme could rank their content not only based how frequently it is retweeted, but also how it relates to you, and to other people.

So far Google has been really good at things, places, sites or pages, but it lacks relevance because it doesn’t know people. Twitter have the people element (although Twitter search doesn’t extract any meaning from it), same with Facebook, comments on blogs, reviews on product sites (from real people), rankings, and general activity. Combine all that and you got the future of search. It is not social, not traditional – but both + it’s targeted to you. And it can be used for more than simply searching.

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Pubblicato su Trend

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