Tag Archive - Online Communities

Time really is money, online

Still think that social networks like Twitter aren’t worth your investment of time?

Read this for an example and a couple of tools that might help change your mind (disclosure; Vrazon is reseller for the second)

What I Wore Today (almost)

What I Wore Today (almost)

A post by a friend, Poppy Dinsey (@poppyd) made me think about this issue today. Since I met her, via twitter of course, she has gone on to launch an internet fashion sensation – WIWT (What I Wore Today) and as she says:

I have achieved endless things because of tweeting. Twitter is still one of the largest drivers of traffic to WIWT.com, a business I was only able to set up because of an idea that spread through – yep, you guessed it – Twitter. Twitter has enabled me to market my business, my sense of humour, my opinions, my style and my writing to literally millions of people. I’ve been able to work with brands from teeny tiny boutiques and emerging designers to global giants like Vodafone, Universal Pictures and Unilever, often solely because somebody has found me on Twitter. I’ve never once paid a PR agency, but have appeared in nearly all the mags and papers of this country for something or other…again, often simply because of journos following me on Twitter or someone recommending me via Twitter to a journalist who otherwise would never have found me. I know this isn’t your ‘usual’ Twitter experience, but it’s one I’m massively grateful for and lord knows I’ve put a LOT of time into tweeting to make it happen. I didn’t have ANY contacts in fashion, tech or property when I started in each of these industries…but I made sure I made them using Twitter.

It has been hard work, but she had a goal, and put in the time and effort.

So how might you benefit too?

LEAD GENERATION TOOL

Lead Generation Sample from Twitter

Lead Generation Sample

Today Twitter announced a new feature that will make it MUCH easier to capture important, and USEFUL, information on your audience: Lead Generation Cards. This new tool will allow businesses to embed a small form in a tweet that users can complete and send back with little or no effort.

This will allow wine businesses; wineries, retailers, journalists selling subscriptions and so on, to get the three most important bits of data for generating a return on investment in twitter; a user’s name, Twitter handle, and email address.

Twitter is great for several things, namely conversations (that you can start, join, or listen-in to), quick questions and answers, and sharing links. However, businesses should have a goal and twitter is not the place for lengthy, detailed explanations, private conversations or selling. Email still is the best way to do this, but if you take them together, you can not only capture people’s email addresses, you can build the kind of relationship that ensures they actually open and read them.

INTELLIGENCE GENERATION TOOL

Vrazon has discovered a great tool for getting to know the audience you have painstakingly built up with your time spent on twitter, facebook, linkedin and through email; Nimble.

Nimble Contact

Nimble Contact

Nimble is an online CRM tool that is specifically built to give you a much broader picture of the people you follow by combining all a user’s profiles on each of these social networks into a single place. You can have thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and many professional links on LinkedIn, but combining this information is EXTREMELY hard.

They key, of course, is email because it links them all together.

An email address is still the most valuable bit of information, even in the age of the social network.

All of a sudden, time IS money because you can finally convert effort into leads.

 

 

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Engage or Get Out – Don’t waste your time with Social Media

So you have a Facebook page? Great! And a twitter account? Bravo! Even posted a couple of photos, maybe uploaded a video? Good for you. What?? You say you even have a blog? You’ve posted an article or two and have comments enabled? Wow, great job! You’re on your way. Now just stick in there for a few more months, or even years, and you’ll be headed in the right direction!

Today, as I wander around the internet, I see more and more blue and white icons showing up on winery websites as I poke about online. Little reminders that businesses are getting online and “engaging” the consumer. Yet today I want to call Bulls***!

Social media is “social”

Seriously, you do not get points for putting an icon on your website. You do not get credit for being ‘engaged’ because you have a Facebook page. Most of all, you do not get benefits from just pretending to play the game. Social media is about being a social being. I know it’s hard to believe but it is. It’s not just a marketing tool, it’s a way of living. It’s a change in how you think about your consumer. It’s a conversation that actually takes place online, with real people. It’s a conversation that also tends to jump offline into the real world from time to time.

If you want to use Twitter/Facebook, or even start a blog, be ready to change what you’re doing. Don’t come to me and ask “How do we keep doing what we’re doing but at the same time appear more social” because the answer is YOU CAN’T!

If you really want to use Twitter to build your brand, start asking people questions, start engaging your followers, start playing the game. Don’t bother putting up a twitter logo unless you’re going to answer anyone who sends you a tweet! It’s not worth your time, and in the end it will just make you look bad.

If you can’t respond to people who ask you questions on Twitter, or engage in conversations in your blog’s comments, the humans that use these tools will notice, and then they will ignore you. If you don’t want to engage, stick to traditional marketing. It still works, and it can work well. Stick to that, and stay there till you are ready to commit, or ready to hire someone to do it on your behalf.

Just remember that while you can still get away without the “social web” today, those days are numbered, plus the cost of catching up to others later on is getting higher. Social media engagement is at its core an investment of sweat equity. There are no silver bullets. The sooner you start, the easier it will be.  The longer you wait, the sillier you’re going to look.

Get going! Follow me: @ryanopaz – And if you don’t know how to, well then you have a lot to learn.

Ryan

Image via: Daddy Design

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1 picture might not be enough in today’s fast paced world

A picture is worth a 1000 words, or so the saying goes. Personally, I’m starting to think this idea is outdated in today’s world and even more so in relation to the photos you post online. Today, with every gadget and gizmo in your pocket having the capability to snap a photo, upload it and share it in real time, we the online surfers of this world, are constantly being assaulted with images that are at times brilliant and often quite forgettable.

I was considering this the other day when staring at a rooftop as I walked to my metro stop. The rooftop was nothing very special, but it created a nice negative space when presented against the deep blue sky. By itself, on a wall in a frame with a nice touch of sepia or black and white, the image might have been perfect to complement a room or become a talking point in a conversation. It was then that I realized that the same image when presented online, might at its best get a retweet or two, or maybe a stray comment on flickr, but would more likely stream past in a flurry like one unique snowflake tumbling to earth lost in the blizzard of others content.

Marketing your brand can be quite similar, and I think that to better understand what it takes to make your snowflake stand out you need to understand how to make that rooftop photo more relevant. What the photo of the rooftop was missing is a story. Something that links one idea to another. 1 photo in a post on a blog is nothing. Most likely you can give me any photo you take and I’ll find 300 just like it. But if you give that 1 photo context, and a relation to an idea you could keep me interested for a longer length of time.

Taking the rooftop photo example, imagine if I created an album of rooftops from around my town of Terrassa? Or images of the building who’s roof caught my attention? Weaving these images with small bursts of focused text in a post begins to give me a reason to stick around and keep reading.

Same thing goes for branding. One mailing, one website(by itself), one Twitter account, these are not going to do anything to further your brand. They provide no value by themselves. It’s only when you link them or use them to create layers, of stories, ideas, or contexts, that the real magic begins. If you havea winery with 200years of history, that is one layer, and while in some cases that layer can have influence it does have a expiration date and it really is not that unique in the world of wine. What about the story of today, or yesterday. What other stories are you forgetting to tell?

Think about what your “slideshow” is in relation to your brand. If you do you’ll be giving the consumer something to talk about.

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The Perfect Wine “App”

Day 18: Most Used AppsOne of my favorite podcasts is NPR‘s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Wait Wait is a weekly new’s quiz show, based out of Chicago, that invites various guests to answer a series of satirical questions.

This past week, Ev Williams of Twitter was invited onto the show as a guest, and he echoed a comment I happened to make recently when talking to a friend about wine apps for mobile. People often complain about the mundane tweets that happen on twitter, with a occasional traffic update or news item. What’s interesting is that this worked to train the users to use twitter to communicate. If you had built an app  for these “traffic updates”, people wouldn’t use it since it was not part of the way they communicated. They’d forget it’s there and therefore, not tell everyone what’s happening on the freeway.

From the Show: It turns out it has a lot of different facets, because while there’s many people doing stupid narcissistic things, that gets you to use it(twitter) on a regular basis and it gets you familiar with it. But then when you see an accident, you’re trained to tweet that you’ve just seen an accident, and suddenly that’s a useful piece of information. Whereas, if we told you that this was a program only for reporting accidents, you’d never think of it. – Ev Williams

When my friend asked, “what is the best wine app”, my response was, bluntly, that they all sucked.

I might want to clarify and say that they all suck for 99% of the population of wine drinkers. The current wine apps are all what I call “destination apps”, meaning you need to make them your destination for information you need. The truth is that we need apps that are not destinations, but rather locations were we hang out. I mentioned to him that if you want to make a wine app that works, try making a “life app” that includes wine.

For me it comes down to a few apps that already exist. Evernote: a place where I share all my wine notes and store information that I find online. I use it everyday and would feel as though I was missing an arm if I didn’t have it at the ready. It’s a tool that I use for organizing my life, and wine is one aspect of my life (shocking I know, I do enjoy other things too!). Then you have the other arm of social: Twitter, Facebook and to a growing extent Google+, all of which are places where I share my life with friends and family. Since wine is a social lubricant, it only goes to show how natural it is to talk about the various wines I’m enjoying.

I don’t want to get too detailed, but I do want to offer up a challenge to wine app creators. What we need is a lifestyle app that builds wine into its core, or an app that allows for conversations, categorizations, or amplifications of things other than wine. Do this and you’ll have an app that normal folk can relate to. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for specialist apps, each discipline needs these, but they are not going to grow an audience much bigger than the niche they are built for.

Till soon,

Ryan Opaz

Read the full transcript of Ev Williams on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me 

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Branding Tip: Gravatar

A big part of branding is consistency: making sure that when you leave comments and links around  the web, you do it in a way that creates a trail of similar information. When we consult new wineries who want to get online, we tell them to make a special folder that they keep on their computer with: a headshot, image  (of winery, vineyard, team, etc), logo, a text document with some cut and paste descriptions that they can use, and any other relevant “social information”. This very simple trick ensures that your information is relevant and consistent.

One other tool and one that is EASY and indispensable to getting online is: Gravatar. Gravatar stands for “Globally Recognized Avatar”. Avatar is both a 3d movie featuring agile blue people, and more importantly for us, a visual representation of yourself online. Usually Avatars are small square images that you see show up in the comments section in blogs, your photo in Facebook and your icon on Twitter. Using an image of your profile can go a long ways to helping people visually connect with you and your brand. Gravatar helps your brand be dispersed everywhere, without you having to think about it.

Check out this video for more info:

Hope you like today’s tech tip. Now go sign up for your Gravatar, and then test it out in the comments below by telling us how it went!

Ryan

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