It was Small Business Week across Canada last week, with numerous events that celebrate the contribution made to our economy by small and medium business.
I was thrilled to roll out a two part seminar called the Social Media Kickstarter at the Canada Manitoba Business Service Centre. There were about 30 people in the room, and 10 remote locations dialed in via conference call. I had fun, and I hope the participants felt empowered to “go forth boldly” with their professional social media plans.
One of the questions that came up in the session, specifically about how Social Media is used to build engagement and create meaningful conversations that can lead to getting customers was “Does anyone really care” – do people care what seeing someone’s reception area is like before they visit, does anyone care that a plumber is posting information on how to prevent flood damage in your home, that restaurant patrons are photographing their food and writing mini reviews? Don’t people just care about the hours someone is open (on their website), that they can reach a plumber fast when they need one (emergency number on their website) and what do average people know about being food critics anyways? Why should we believe anything anyone says online? Isn’t this all just a waste of time?
It was a very sincere question, by someone who was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of adding “more work” to their day, when all they wanted to do was “do business”.
My thoughts? Every business builds their client base one sale at a time. Whether in a B2C or B2B environment, people are more likely to buy from people they know than from people they don’t. And according to Eric Qualman, in his “must-see” YouTube video Social Media Revolution based on his seminal work “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business” – 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, only 14% trust traditional advertising. Word of mouth has always been a strong business driver, and social media has transformed “word of mouth” into “world of mouth” (another Equalman idea).
Social media allows “future customers” to get a sense of who we are, to see what real people think, and to see how we interact with our community. It allows current customers to deepen their relationships with their service provider, learn about new offers from their favourite retailers, and have questions answered in an interactive forum that is not tied to business hours.
Why do I care if my plumber provides me with helpful information to keep my basement dry? Because that saves me heartache and expense, and it allows me to feel that he cares enough about me as a customer to help me prevent problems. That creates a feeling of trust. Do I care who my doctor’s new receptionist is? It is more comfortable to already be familiar with the face behind the counter, to know where to go when I enter the building. It makes the service more personal. Do I care what other diners think about the new restaurant on the corner? Even though some reviews may be “fake” – overall, I can get a sense of what the food is like, what their service standards are, and that informs my decision to go or not.
In each of these cases, the relationship becomes more warm, more personal, with less stress or friction. I will feel increasingly confident about making recommendations, because there is demonstrated tangible proof to back up my word of mouth, when you look at a hair-stylist’s Instagram photos, or the list of similar reviews on Yelp. We vote with our dollars, and we get informed, we interact and we make decisions using these various platforms that connect us to our businesses and service providers in a deeper relationship than has ever been possible in traditional advertising.
There is no question that the business case for using social media exists. Some companies may choose to NOT use these tools, and that is their choice. That simply means that I will find their competition when I am searching online. I will see what other people can do, read how they respond to customer concerns, and become aware of their sales and special events because I’m being invited to participate. I can’t find you if you aren’t there. And if you are there, then I hope I can find you, and that what you are presenting will hold my attention and make me feel welcome as a new customer. That’s the power of social media. We can have a relationship long before we make a transaction – even if you are in another city. And it’s always easier to do business with people you know.
Enjoy the Day,
The web is a powerful marketing tool — sometimes frighteningly so! It can be hard to know how to leverage and track your business’ online presence, even if you already have a website.
Fear not! This Friday the 13th, we’re here to help.
Attend the Modern Earth Open House to find out how you can take control of your online marketing fears! We are bringing back our popular Digital Dim Sum sessions for a limited number of people and will provide assistance with getting set up on a social media platform of your choice.
Join Susan Hurrell, our Director of Online Marketing for one of two 30-minute sessions on marketing and leveraging your online presence. Seats are limited—don’t miss out!
4:00 – Don’t be afraid of the BlogMonster
4:40 – Social Media Wildcards
5:20 – Don’t be afraid of the BlogMonster
6:00 – Social Media Wildcards
You’ll also get the chance to meet and mingle with the Earthlings; learn how they can help you leverage the web as a tool for the success of your business and build your online presence.
Our annual Open House will be hosted at 449 Provencher Blvd on Friday, September 13th from 3pm to 7pm; refreshments and finger-food will be provided. Don’t let your Cyberphobia get the best of you; RSVP to the open house online or by calling our office at 204.885.2469 today!
There are some questions you need to ask yourself:
These types of questions will help you determine if blogging is right for you.
There is a difference between a personal blog and a business blog. A personal blog is a way to express your own personal opinion on a variety of topics. Many bloggers use it as a diary to speak about their life and share daily events. A business blog is used for a different purpose. You are communicating with customers, employees and those who are interested in events that are occurring in your industry. They can be used to train your readers, as well as to highlight your expertise and help drive new and existing customers to contact you.
Blogging is an inexpensive way to market your products and services while increasing your online presence. A business focused blog lets your readers know that you are knowledgeable about your industry and increases your transparency. In addition, blogging keeps your website fresh and may help with search engine optimization. Once your blog is set up, the only real investment you are making is time. Do you have one hour a week to grow your business?
Since coming to Modern Earth, I have learned about the importance of social media and how easy it can be - once you get started. Blogging can be used as a stepping stone to a larger more active online presence; you can link Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn directly to your blog so you only need to make one post and you can reach out to an unlimited number of customers!
So when you ask yourself if blogging is a necessity ask yourself if new customers are a necessity! If you are interested in learning how blogging and social media can positively affect your business you can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you increase your online presence.
This week I visited the Red River College campus on Princess for the first time! Nice space! I was invited by instructor Melodie Richard, to speak to a Creative Communications class about the real life business applications of social media marketing in the business world. Dan and I met Melodie at the RRC Directions Business Conference on Feb 1, 2012.
Some of the best questions and most rich discussions revolved around making a successful transition from using social media just as a “kid in college” to looking at serious reputation management as a marketing professional. Even beyond that, doing the social media work for your employer, speaking in the “company voice”.
In a room of 13 students, there were 2 “early adopters” – people that explore each new platform and jump on each new trend and pride themselves at being on the cutting edge. Most of the class used Facebook and Twitter, the majority had a profile on LinkedIn, and there were one or two that were more lightweight users of social media. A couple of the students were already working professionally with the platforms, either for employers, or in promoting their own business.
This class graduates in April, and I think that if their level of enthusiasm and their thirst for new knowledge carries forward into their professional lives, that they will make excellent additions to the businesses that choose to hire them. We talked a bit about building professional networks as marketing professionals and being “your own brand” online, to establish a presence and demonstrate competency – so I will be following many of them on Twitter to see what they do between now and graduation.
Thank you Melodie, for the opportunity to meet your class and share some insights. Thanks to the class for really paying attention and not texting or playing Angry Birds during my talk. I wish each of you much success in finding your career starter jobs – have a great graduation!
The need to understand social media has touched every industry sector – because our customers are online and connecting to business in ways that we could not imagine even a few years ago. Social media has moved from fad to trend to business staple for some businesses – others are still exploring how to make this communication method work best for them.
I had the opportunity to speak at the Manitoba Home Builder’s Association Conference this week about both Social Media and Google Analytics. Even though the purchase of a custom build home may be a once in a lifetime purchase for a consumer, the need to nurture trusted relationships between a business and their potential client exists as much for this industry as every other. No potential sale is too big or too small to be influenced by well done social media.
There are always questions about how much time does a business have to devote to this new marketing strategy, and the answer is as individual as the marketing plan of the business itself. While access to the various platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is free – the time it takes each day/week/month is the price we pay to engage, educate or entertain our customers.
Having a strategic approach is essential to manage the time required. We can help you shape that strategy to fit your business, and work with you on an editorial calendar to achieve your online media goals. Call us for a no-obligation consultation!
Social Media is becoming a part of many business and communications practices.
From every day customer service, to interacting with clients and potential customers, even reporting the news of the day - platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have made their way into the public consciousness. These platforms provide anyone interested with ways to dig deeper than ever before into the events already happening around them.
One of the ways we at Modern Earth help our clients and the community do is provide more information about their special events to those interested, using social media. In particular, the Modern Earth Tweet Team has spent the past year attending special events, conferences, and gala dinners hosted by Manitoba businesses and associations, and spreading the word in real time about what happens at these events. We have covered TEDxManitoba, the QNet conference, the Future Leaders of Manitoba awards and more.
We're proud to support Manitoba's visibility in the social media sphere, and to have been asked by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to "continue the tradition" we began last year at our inaugural Tweet Team event.
For the second year, the Modern Earth Tweet Team was asked to put the “media” back into social media and tweet the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Business Awards Gala Dinner on Wednesday Oct. 26th. It was a gathering of over 400 leaders of the Manitoba business community at the Delta Hotel, and a good time was had by all – especially those businesses who took home the coveted awards in their category.
This year, the Chamber arranged for some big screen televisions to sit adjacent to the large screens on either side of the stage, to better allow the attendees to follow along with and participate in the Twitter stream as the evening unfolded.
You can read all about the Manitoba Business Awards, including a list of past winners, on the MB Chambers website.
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking at WEC’s Tech Tuesday about how businesses can make use of Facebook to maximize their online marketing presence.
Facebook can be a perplexing tool. With so many concerns raised over the constant changes of form and function, privacy issues and more, some businesses still remain hesitant to use Facebook to promote themselves. But how can we ignore a public forum with more than 750 million members? Missing out on Facebook means losing opportunities to get your message, and your business, in front of many potential clients, where they are most comfortable!
Check out the upcoming seminars on the Women's Enterprise Centre website - there's always something interesting going on.
Yesterday, it was once again my privilege to speak to participants of the YMYWCA Self Employment program on how to launch and market their new business ventures online. I visit the YMYWCA offices several times a year to speak to each group of new entrepreneurs who are starting up businesses here in Manitoba.
In addition to the 7 deadly sins of web design, I also talk about how to use social media effectively, as well as the value of search engine optimization. There is the occasional misconception that because Winnipeg is a small market, a website doesn’t have to be optimized – that there are few competitors (especially if we are counting bricks and mortar locations that do something similar). So I spend a bit of time explaining the benefits of optimization, the key things to look for when being quoted for an SEO project, and why being fully SEO’d for Winnipeg as a key term can help bring their business to the top of local search results.
It’s always a pleasure to hear about the great new business ideas that are being prepared for launch. On behalf of all the Earthlings, we wish each participant much success. We understand the challenges of growing a small business – and it’s great to see this new start-ups joining the Manitoba economy.
If you would like to have someone from Modern Earth speak at your conference, workshop, or other event, or arrange a training session for your team on social media, blogging for business or online marketing, we’d be happy to talk to you to see what might be a good fit for your event and your budget.
Call me at 204-885-2469, or email me at email@example.com.
Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of being invited down to the Winnipeg Free Press News Café in the Exchange to take part in a live chat about Google+ along with local social media strategist Erica Glasier, and GigaOm’s own Mathew Ingram (formerly of the Globe & Mail).
Launched in early July, Google+ (or Google Plus, depending who you ask), has been touted largely as a competitor to reigning social media content magnets Facebook and Twitter. It’s certainly got a lot of their feel - profiles, photos, news feeds and relationship management are common across all social networks.
However, as discussed during the chat, some of the features that define Google+ clearly make it a new kind of tool, perhaps not a direct competitor to established platforms. Google+ ties in with many of Google’s other services, such as Gmail, Picasa and Google Profiles already - and has the potential to involve even Google’s productivity tools such as docs and calendars in strong ways. The potential not only for communication, but direct collaboration, is really what makes Google+ stand out from the crowd.
On a lot of chats like this, viewers either remain quiet, or ask about the business advantages of a given platform. People are often seeking how-to ideas, so they can use new tools such as Google+ better. This live chat, however, had few of those moments. Instead, guests asked the panel for reasons to move away from Facebook and Twitter towards Google+. They expressed concern over “yet another” new community, more privacy concerns, and how to make Google+ interact with other networks to reduce effort.
I believe this is a sign that social media, as a whole, is maturing. When people stop asking questions about the mechanics of a web service, and begin to focus on its real value in their lives - not as business people, but as themselves - it shows a level of understanding and acceptance that’s really encouraging.
Check out the full chat transcript for more in-depth chat about Google+. Thanks again to Lindsey Wiebe and the WFP web team for hosting the chat! It was a lot of fun, and I hope to see and participate in more of this kind of dialogue in the future.
Changing technology means everything changes – including the impact of legislation on communication.
We’re going to see a great example of this during the coming election on May 2nd. Searching Twitter for the prominent hashtag #elxn2011, you’ll find a mix of debate coverage, campaigning, and a growing dispute over whether or not Canadians should be talking about election results in tweets and Facebook status updates – especially before the polls are closed on the day of the election.
Under the Elections Act, transmitting the results of poling in one electoral district, to any person in another district which has not yet closed, is illegal. This particular provision – Section 329 – was intended to keep voters from being influenced, during a time when newspaper and radio were the dominant means of information transmission across time zones.
Does this law still make sense in the age of social media? Even if spreading the word about a local political win on Twitter or Facebook breaks the letter of the law, the broad adoption of social media might make the enforcement of that law impractical.
I was honoured to be called on by CTV for their coverage of this issue – the changing landscape of communications affects everyone in our country, from students to businesses.
No matter how you believe social media should interact with the electoral process – on May 2nd, get out and vote.
Want to use Facebook more effectively for your business?
Facebook has over 520 million active users, who spend over 700 minutes per month interacting with business and community pages, group, friends and events. How can your business maximize its presence on this still growing online platform? Dan Belhassen, President of Modern Earth Web Design, will take you through what every business needs to know to have a strong presence on Facebook. He will include some advanced strategy for those who want to maximize their leverage on this dynamic and highly popular platform.
Register for this event - seating is limited!
For more information, please call the CMBSC at 204-984-2272 or 1-800-665-2019
This free seminar is sponsored by the Canada Manitoba Business Service Centre, and is being held on March 15th from 3 to 5 pm, at their offices at 250 - 240 Graham Ave.
Modern Earth was honoured to be able to participate in one of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce’s major events last night, by covering the Manitoba Business Awards on Twitter.
As originally announced by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, a team of Earthlings attended the 27th annual MBAs, to keep up with the crowd, add some fun to the event, and cover the stage action as it happened. It was a first for the Manitoba Chambers – and it was a lot of fun for all involved. By the end of the night, more than 170 tweets had been sent with the event’s hashtag - #mbbizawards – covering everything from stage announcements and quotes from award winners, to comments on the very excellent dinner provided by the Winnipeg Convention Center.
In order to catch all the details and cover the event consistently, we had a number of Earthlings hooked into the @mbchambersofcom twitter account, marking their messages with the hashtag and their initials.
The tweet team consisted of:
The whole team had a lot of fun – thanks to Susan's thorough planning, and with Marnie acting as support and direction, we got a lot of great quotes, pictures and tips into the twitter stream.
We co-ordinated our efforts to make sure each of the event’s sponsors, the selection committee and jury panel were all recognized during the dinner hour. During the awards themselves, each set of nominees was recognized – as was the winner, complete with quotes from acceptance speeches.
Covering the Manitoba Business Awards was a great experience for the entire Tweet Team – one we hope to repeat soon!
Stats for the hashtag #mbbizawards are available here – What the Hashtag, #mbbizawards
Read the full transcript of the night’s festivities here – What the Hashtag transcript for #mbbizawards, November 3rd and 4th
Thanks again to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce for the opportunity to cover this event in such a dynamic way!