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Archive for April, 2010

Social Media for Businesses and Entrepreneurs

April 19, 2010 3 comments


Today’s article is a guest post by Jeremiah Kephart, owner of Coffee Connection in Salt Lake City.  I’ve followed his company’s social media efforts and he was a recent guest on the Web Marketing Weekly Show.

Hello everyone!  Jeremiah Kephart here, and I am writing a guest blog for Nigel Swaby. It’s a follow-up from our live interview that we did a week or so back about Social media for businesses and entrepreneurs.

As a quick refresher, I own a local business called Coffee Connection.

We refer to the website mentioned above a number of times during the live interview so you might want to go sign up so you can follow along… I even give you a free drink just for becoming a member, and who does that? 😉

And of course since we are discussing social media, you will probably also want to go and become a fan on Facebook.  And the all important twitter account is here.

Now that you’re a racing fan, let’s get going! :3

In the interview we were discussing how I had paid catastrophic amounts of money over the course of several years to advertise my business in a million + different local rags, on the radio, passing out flyers, screaming into a megaphone on top of a soapbox, and praying for the rain which never ended up falling, no matter how much money or time I spent on it.

Luckily for all of us small-business owners and startups, there is a solution…

And that solution is social media.

By the way, if you haven’t listened to the interview, you might want to go and do so because there’s a lot of good candid information in it.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait 🙂

Great.  Now I’ve done my very damnedest to maximize all of my time in ‘social media,’ because who really has the time to sit around and post all day? We’re business owners. We have enormous bags of bricks to carry!

This being the case, I really needed all of this ‘social media energy’ to count for something as much as humanly possible. So as discussed in the interview, what I did (which was really really easy and stuff that anyone at all can do) is I went and set myself up a Facebook fan page (that you just became a fan of right?!) and MySpace account for the coffee shop before I started tweeting.

Because it’s crazy crazy easy to “link up” your Twitter account to these two other accounts (just click on the links provided for this purpose in FaceBook and MySpace) there is really no reason not to do it.  It takes all of 10 min.

So now when you or your staff posts content, everything that you have to offer goes out not only to Twitter but also to Facebook and MySpace. It’s a no brainer.  So now you don’t have to manage all three accounts, or suffer an aneurysm when all three screens at your office are filled with Web 2.0 blogging.  Everything that I do multiplies itself just like magic.

Now that’s all cute and everything, but there’s more.  And if you’re already excited, hold onto your seat… because if you’re a business owner like I am you’re going to like this a lot.

The funny thing about being a business owner, is that you get to set a job description for your employees. So now as part of my employees job description, they are tweet monsters! To my knowledge (and I’m pretty damn up-to-date with this stuff) no one else anywhere has ever figured this out, until now. I expect it will be repeated everywhere in the universe inside two years, but that’ll be fun because you get to get the jump on it.

Now, I know how painful it sounds to sit in your office and generate original content all day long.  I get it.  I don’t actually like doing it by myself. While I recognize the power of social media, I just kind of have better stuff to do than to make it my full time job.  So this is all perfect for me.

You can hear all about how to do it in the interview.
It’s episode 14 btw.

Now, something that I don’t think I got to stress enough in the interview is that with a little creativity you can take what you’ve done with your social media efforts, and maximize it over and over and over and over, making it way more worthwhile that it seems from the offset. (I’d like to take a moment to note that if you’re one of those evil marketers out there that uses the dark side of the force and produces crap, this will probably not work for you.)  Because people just eat up solid good content.  They love it.  And they love it because there’s so much “dark side of the force marketing” out there plaguing the world.  When they feel like they have a solid and genuine connection with your company that’s real, and legitimate, you can then syndicate the hell out of it, and it goes off like fireworks.

Never produce crap!  It’s a big pet peeve of mine.

In fact, getting slightly off topic, I did an interview for IN magazine in which they titled me “Scene Maker in Salt Lake,” which you can read here – and I think you’ll see the spirit of what I’m talking about.  This article was a big big hit because it was so authentic.  And there are really only two keys to success with social media.  Half of your success will be your CREATIVE STRATEGY, but the other big half is AUTHENTICITY.

To wrap up, I’d like to just say thanks to Nigel for providing the show for everyone.  I think he has some really strong material and he’s all about resources that are fun and cutting edge, and as we all know there’s no better way to get ahead than to not be behind.

This is Jeremiah Kephart, signing out.

Happy Foursquare Day!

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Today is a special day for location based social media service foursquare.  It marks the first time a social media service has a holiday.  4/16 = foursquare day.  Get it?

Today also marks the day the company hits one million users…or pretty close to it.  They’re adding 10 to 20 thousand new accounts each day and are in just less than 30 cities.

I’ve noticed an explosion of users myself and even regular people are talking about it.  When I attended my first Social Media Club meeting in December, only one person was talking about foursquare.  Now all the people in that space are on it…as they should be.

On Wednesday night I went into my favorite little bar in Sugarhouse.  When I pulled out my phone to check in, the guy next to me asked if I was checking in.  He had heard about the service and was even talking to the bartender about it.  When I said I was the mayor, they both knew what I was talking about!

Not everybody is wild about foursquare.  My friend Michael recently wrote a rather long critique about it from a user’s perspective.  Foursquare isn’t for everyone, but the growth of smart phone ownership over the next two years is going to drive usage of mobile web applications like foursquare, Yelp and mobile search.  Facebook has good mobile capabilities and there are a slew of mobile Twitter clients.  I personally like foursquare as an update manager because I can leave a comment when I check in that will automatically go to Twitter and Facebook, or just one or the other.

The “holiday” part of foursquare day has over 150 groups of people meeting in real life to celebrate.  In Salt Lake, the social media elite met at Pounders Grill in Midvale.  Other celebrations are taking place at other Pounders locations.

This is what people who don’t “get” social media continue to miss.  Social media isn’t about hiding behind a keyboard.  It’s about meeting, talking and having fun with people in real life.  Updates happen in real time because of mobile technology.  Businesses like Pounders and Coffee Connection and others that I’ve talked about only serve to expand their reach and influence by smartly using social media.

Happy foursquare day everybody!

Trade Contractors and Internet Marketing

April 14, 2010 Leave a comment

As much as one would think this isn’t the case, in Salt Lake and Utah, less than twenty different types of businesses get searched with any sort of frequency online.

Of those businesses, general contractors, plumbers, roofers and HVAC technicians get searched the most.  The trouble is, most of those businesses don’t have dynamic websites and I can’t think of one off the top of my head that blogs.

With social media, it’s not necessary to have a website any more.  A simple contact form can be placed on a Facebook landing page and all the contact information to call or email is there as well.

The big question when it comes to trade businesses is trust.  Who do you call?  Who’s going to show up on time?  Who’s going to do the job in time and on budget?  A yellow pages ad won’t tell you.  Neither will their website.

Social media is what is needed and it can’t be faked or hired out.  Authenticity is key.  Fortunately tools exist for trade contractors to develop and cultivate trust online and in the process get found and get referrals.

Because of the mobile nature of the work, trade contractors moved very quickly to adopting mobile communications in the ’90s.  Unfortunately, that’s where they stopped.  In fact, most trade contractor websites look like they’re stuck in the ’90s. 

You don’t need to be a marketing genius to figure out a social media plan for trade contractors.  My three step plan is very simple.

1.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Take before and after pictures and post them on Facebook and/or Twitter.  If you go to do a job, take the photo of the plugged up sink, damaged roof or desperately needing updating kitchen.  When the project is completed, take another picture.  Maybe include the cost of the project and definitely include the timeframe.  Equipment needed is a mobile phone with a camera and Internet access.  Most contractors already have these.

2.  Get a testimonial.  When the project is completed and the client is happy, ask for a testimonial.  This could be a video taken with the same cell phone, or it could be a comment on the Facebook fan page.  Ask for both.

3.  Ask for permission.  When going to a job, ask for permission to take photos of anything that could identify the property.  Some people are still private.  Also ask for the testimonial.  This serves as advertising or a talking point to the client if they say no.  If my roofer, plumber, HVAC technician asked if I would comment on their Facebook page, I know I’d tell someone.  Chances are the client will too.

Trade contractors don’t have time to design websites or blog, so social media is the perfect fit.  They can quickly and easily show off their work while at the same time gaining loyal fans who will refer them to their friends and contacts.

Residential Real Estate Applications for Foursquare

April 12, 2010 2 comments

You know you’re a foursquare junkie when you regret visiting your parent’s home because it’s not a registered venue on the location based social media platform.  After 32 years in Salt Lake, my parents have decided to move to the more moderate climate of Minneapolis, Minnesota and are in the process of sorting, packing and tossing a partial lifetime of stuff.

My brother and sister are helping, so I’ve been over there a lot recently.  I’m not going to create their home as a venue, because they’ll soon be selling the home and the home is frequently vacant.  Though checking in there may create an illusion of activity for anyone that frequents pleaserobme.com.  Hmmm.

The marketer in my mind has been thinking and today it hit me…Realtors should be using foursquare!  They visit listings and they show houses.  Real estate is all about location, location, location.  So is foursquare!

Now before you criticize me about privacy issues, please consider that every single building in the world has a satellite photo of it on Google Earth.  Also be aware that just about every home in the United States has property tax, valuation and sales history information on it through Zillow.

Transparency is a two-way street.  As citizens and consumers we desire transparency from corporations and demand it from government, but we have to freely give of ourselves as well.  Transparency is good for consumers because we can avoid messages we don’t want to hear.  It’s also good for advertisers because they know where to deploy resources.  A famous businessman John Wannamaker once said, “I waste half my advertising budget.  Trouble is, I don’t know which half.” 

In an ideal world, we could all share only information that was relevant and everybody could make informed choices.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.

With technology, we do live in a world where we can share where we’re going and where we’ve been.  For real estate based businesses, including residential real estate, I believe this is a good idea.

Why is foursquare good for real estate agents?

  1. Share your listings with new potential clients throughout the social media space.  This includes Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with just one application: foursquare.
  2. Share your daily activity with existing or potential clients.  Are you at a title company on behalf of a client?  Share that!  Are you at a home for an inspection or appraisal?  Share that information of foursquare.  The busier you are is the more value you create for your client.
  3. Foursquare can build your client network, especially with people who haven’t heard of you.  Foursquare is rapidly growing and expects to hit 1,000,000 users this week!  Internet land grabs are harder and harder to find.  Don’t let the foursquare opportunity pass you by!

How to Score Mega Points on Foursquare

April 9, 2010 4 comments

Since the dawn of digital gaming, what has determined the winner and the loser is the score.  While location based social media application foursquare isn’t a game, it still has an addictive scoring system.

Today I’m going to talk about how to maximize your high scores each week so you can beat all your foursquare friends for online fame and …

If you don’t know what foursquare is, please see my recent article on Examiner.com about this newest player in the social media arena.  For everyone else, the user aspect is pretty simple; tell your friends where you are.  If you do, you earn points, profile badges and the biggest foursquare honor…a mayorship.

Foursquare points break down like this –

Check in to a new place – 5 points
Add a new venue – 5 points
Check in to a place you’ve been before – 1 point
Location multiplier for each place you go in a day – 1 point per location

So on a day I’m out doing business networking, the points would look something like this –

Check in at Paradise Bakery – 1 point
Check in at Buca di Beppo – 2 points…1 point for checking in and one point for it being my second check in.
If I go someplace else afterward, then points continue to get added.

This point system is compared to my foursquare friends who have checked in for the week and it now appears there are enough users in SLC to compare city wide.  (At least the top 100)

Certain people in my friend group “win” week in and week out (points reset every Sunday) because they are so social.  BUT, I have now found a way to outscore them.

How to outscore your friends on foursquare –

1.  Check in everywhere!  By putting together strings of check ins, you score more points for places you frequently visit.  I’ve put my home office on there…I know I shouldn’t…so I can check in when I leave and when I return.  While it’s only worth one point in the morning, it could be worth a lot more later in the day.

I forget to check in at gas stations and 7-11s, but I really should.  You get first time points and if you go to the same places enough, you could become the mayor.  I’ve been focusing on remembering this.

2.  Add new places!  This is a point gold mine because you get 5 for adding, 5 for checking in the first time and the multiplier.  It also encourages people to try new places.

3.  Try new places!  We all have our habits and patterns, but by trying new places we can expand our horizons and get massive foursquare points.  Bonus if you have to add it as well.

When I first learned about foursquare I never, ever thought it would get to this point, but I’m a junky!  It’s fun to check in and find out about local establishments.  Plus it’s addictive.

By using these tactics, I’ve been able to go from a perennial middle of the pack foursquare friend to a pack leader…even when I don’t check in as much as my other friends.

That is the psychology of a foursquare user.  How can marketers leverage it?  I’ll be speaking on that very subject May 6th for the Social Media Club of Utah Valley.

How to Hide Your Friends List on Facebook

April 7, 2010 1 comment


On Monday I talked about the steps law enforcement takes using social media to track down their targets.  One of these tactics is to become a “friend of a friend” to see your news feed on Facebook.  I enjoy social media, but I don’t want to leave a back door open for a stalker, ex or some other person who would use my online life against me in real life.

So I took my own advice and tried to figure out how to do it.  It took me a little while to find the correct answer, so I thought I would share it in this post. 

Facebook is constantly changing the look and feel of its software, so many top ranked search results had incorrect information. 

Here’s how you hide your friends list on Facebook –

1.  Log in to Facebook.

2.  Go to your “profile” tab.

3.  Click the pencil icon (edit) next to your friends list.

4.  Uncheck the “Show friend list to everyone” box.

Unless Facebook makes another interface change, that’s the way to do it…right now.

This whole process of writing this article series made me think, so I tightened up some other settings to only show friends, not friends of friends. 

As a marketer, I face a conundrum because I want to reach those friends of friends, so I left my wall available, but tightened up photos and videos.  Hopefully this helps you think about protecting your Facebook friends from the prying eyes of criminals, exes and other cyberstalkers.

Social Media and Crime – Part 3

April 5, 2010 7 comments

No discussion of crime and social media can be completed without discussing law enforcement’s use of technology.

We may think that criminals have the upper hand when it comes to technology, but I believe the upper hand will always belong to the government.  Government use of technology isn’t always intrusive or negative.

I’ve written before how government is using Twitter as an administrative tool for getting citizen engagement on such tasks as reporting potholes or other community issues.  Even the Salt Lake County Sheriff is using Twitter to report canyon closings and openings because of weather.  With the amount of storms we’ve had this year, that’s a good thing.

Law enforcement also conducts investigations using social media.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.  It should also make people think about what they share online and who they share with.

Consider the tale of Maxi Sopo who was being investigated by the FBI for bank fraud.  He was smart enough to head down to Mexico, but dumb enough to overshare on Facebook about the great time he was having in Mexico.

While Sopo’s online profile was private, his list of friends was not. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville began going through the list and was able to learn where Sopo was living. Mexican authorities arrested Sopo in September. He is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

What makes Facebook a powerful marketing tool also makes it a powerful investigative tool.  In marketing we want to reach the so-called friends of friends.  With investigations, a reverse filter is applied…just as effectively.

Law enforcement is also creating “dummy” profiles or “sock puppets” to catch targets online.

U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.

Think you know who’s behind that “friend” request? Think again. Your new “friend” just might be the FBI.

Because everybody uses social media differently, it’s quite possible to friend someone with loose security and then use that “relationship” to connect with your real target.  My personal rule of only friending people I’ve met in real life just got validated.

The FBI isn’t the only three-letter organization to use social media.  The IRS is also on board, using the same tactics.  Facebook offers intimate insights into people and their finances; photos of homes, vehicles and trips.  Why wouldn’t the IRS want to mine that data?

From mining information on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, authorities in Minnesota, Nebraska, California and other states have been able to successfully collect back taxes according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

As social media users, we want to share information with people close to us, but we run the risk of being stalked, hunted by criminals or tracked by law enforcement if we share too much?  What precautions should be taken to protect ourselves, while still being able to express ourselves online?

1.  Think before you tweet, update or check in.  Who could learn the wrong things about you from that update?  Post accordingly.

2.  Remember how interconnected everything is.  I have a tendency to forget my tweets go to LinkedIn.  I don’t filter my friends there because it’s supposed to be professional, but my tweets aren’t always, especially when I use Foursquare.

3.  Maybe privacy is important?  Like Mr. Sopo, I haven’t considered my friend’s privacy in my Facebook profile.  When you Google my name, a random sampling of my friend’s names shows up in the search result.  That’s not really being a friend is it?  I suppose I’ll have to adjust my privacy settings.  Thank goodness Facebook allows us to do that.

4.  Be more selective, not less.  Remember the advantages and disadvantages of the social media profiles you use.  LinkedIn is professional.  Be professional.  Twitter doesn’t reveal a lot of personal information.  Facebook does.  Adjust and use accordingly.

Social media is supposed to be fun.  The last thing we want is for it to get us stalked or robbed or prosecuted.  By being aware of possible negative consequences, we can take the proper steps to enjoy the positive of social media without being encumbered by the negative.

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