Peek behind the curtains … before you knock on the door

Some great Apps on my iPhone that help me find what i am looking for in terms of nearby businesses and a recent article in the paper about the breakdown of communities got my brain ticking over.

It seems that most people have in the past promoted the Internet as a way to open up the world as a marketplace, which resulted in the local shop asking “well what’s in it for me?”  But now the tools of Social Media and the Moblie Net (used to be called a Mobile Phone) has given us a much more local focus.

On my iPhone I click the Google App and then say what I am looking for (eg Coffee Shop) and it will in seconds give me a list of the nearest coffee chops sorted in order of distance and include address, phone no, website link and in most cases a recent review.  And then there is another App – AroundMe  that helps me find the nearest Bank/ATM/Pub/Parking Station etc etc ..

I assume if your business Googles well these Apps will promote you but if you don’t you may well be invisible!!

The article I read talked about the breakdown of the neighbourly interaction that was a key part of society 10/15/20 years ago. It seems most people don’t know their neighbors, they don’t talk or socialise in any way.

And with all the stories about home invasions, domestic violence, drug labs etc in average suburbs, maybe we are a little scared of what we might find over the fence.

So is Social Media a way to rebuild the neighbourhood by letting people find our who lives nearby and what they are interested in, getting to know them and chat online before meeting.

It seems to work on dating sites, it certainly has worked for me on LinkedIn.  I now have lots of face-to-face contact with people I met as a result of finding them or them finding me on LinkedIn.

We talk about building communities using Social Media – in terms of people who support a brand, a business, a celebrity etc. but maybe we need to re-established the old fashioned neighbourhood interaction by first getting it going online.

Rather than knocking on the front door or even saying hi over the back fence perhaps Social Media will let us peep behind the curtains and get to know who lives around us.

But who will set up this neighborhood infrastructure online … who has something to gain from it … perhaps the Local Council … but I suspect most of us won’t live long enough for them to get around to something so radical.

Well who else wants to be seen as Mayor of the Local Neighborhood …  could it be the Local Real Estate agent … maybe … I think I feel another blog coming on!!!

Social Media – It’s a lot like cycling


With Lance Armstrong and the Tour Down Under the centre of everybody’s attention in Adelaide, I thought I should write about a passion of mine – cycling!!

On some of my regular, long, sometimes enjoyable – sometimes painful rides lately I have been thinking about the similarities between cycling and Social Media. This has helped put the value of Social Media into perspective for many fellow cyclists.

Every Tuesday evening I ride with a group of 50 or so men and women ranging in age from 17 to 70 from Scuzzi Cafe in North Adelaide.  They are a disparate group that have one think in common – cycling – so we come to together and build a Community with a common purpose. Isn’t that what Social Media can do too??!!

In fact a few are now “LinkedIn” with me and exploring business opportunities as a result of finding out more about each others professions from LinkedIn.

During the ride, we, like all cycling groups (even the Pros in the Tour Down Under), provide support and advice for each other to help get the maximum value from the ride and ensure a safe and enjoyable ride … even though we are secretly competing against each other!!

The advice comes in the form of simple hand signals or short sharp phrases that warn of upcoming hazards (eg. glass on the road, a parked car ahead that those behind can’t see) or advice that it’s safe to cross an intersection.  A wave of the hand signals glass on the road, a shout of “car back” warns the group a car is coming from behind on a narrow road, a hand behind the back signals a parked car or a stop sign … while a shout of “clear” lets those following know it’s safe to cross the intersection … and there are many more to cover every situation.

So it’s a bit like Twitter with it’s short, sharp and highly effective communication that passes rapidly to those that are interested.

During the ride everyone takes their turns at the front to make the pace and block others from the wind … it is up to 30% easier riding closely behind another.  In a peloton the outside line rides a few kms faster than the inside line so that someone constantly moves to the front while someone on the inside drops back.  It’s another unwritten rule and courtesy that all participants know and respect – a bit like the self regulation that is core to Social Media.

So we build a community for a common purpose … we help and support each other  (even competitors) with valuable information and we communicate directly and effectively.  Now that is exactly what Social Media allows us to do too … isnt it??

If you watch the Tour Down Under or any Pro or Amateur Race you will see plenty of evidence of all of the above too.

Finally when we get back from our ride the Cafe recognises the value of our loyalty and provides hefty discounts to all cyclists to make sure we keep coming back.  Not only do the discounts apply after the ride … but any cyclists going to that cafe at any time will pay only $2 for a coffee.

So there you have it … Community, Communication, Loyalty, Listening and Rewards – all key elements of Social Media and cycling.

Perhaps that connection was evident when Lance Armstrong “tweeted” that he was riding last Saturday morning at 9am along the beautiful Adelaide beaches and invited all and sundry to join him – more than 7,000 turned up on their trusty treddlies – all shapes and sizes – most in their lusty lycra!!

Its not ALL about Big Business

Ways in Which Social Networking Is Beneficial to US Small Businesses, November 2009 (% of respondents)

There is nothing new about Social Networking/Media  – people have been doing it for hundreds of years ….talking to people about things that interest them and building communities with common goals are part of our way of life.

But now technology can speed and broaden this reach incredibly. So while social media as we know it today as a way to interact with consumers is a relatively new trend and we are not yet able to accurately measure its effectiveness in a business building tool it certainly is proving very useful to many.

A recent article published by eMarketer, based on “The Small Business Marketing Forecast 2010” by Ad-Olgy, offers several insights on how social media is helping small businesses . The article suggests that lead generation is clearly the top benefit for small businesses in the use social media. Among other responses, keeping up with the businesses’ respective industries and monitoring what is said about their businesses are also considered benefits of utilising social networks.

The report also found that small businesses consider Facebook (and I suspect thats mainly use of FanPages) to be the most-beneficial social networking site, with one-third of respondents saying Facebook was “at least somewhat beneficial.” My favorite Social network and the No 1 Professional networking site LinkedIn is considered the second-most beneficial platform among businesses, ranking ahead of MySpace and Twitter.

The report also highlights  some of the obstacles small businesses face in maximising the benefits of social media. Most of the respondents feel they lack the knowledge of the social media space and wish they could better understand the space. Others claim they do not have the time or the resources necessary to manage social marketing. Certainly time, trust and resources are the major obstacles I hear about when talking to people every day about getting started.

With the rapid adoption of social networks in everyday life, there is no better time than now to get going irrespective of the size and nature of a business.  Having a social media presence not only allows you access to a very cost effective way to get your message to many more consumers, but it also allows you to interact with consumers and monitor your brand online.

With social marketing experiencing continued growth and the associated benefits to business growing at a great rate we are moving to ensure we can help our clients and prospects overcome the mystery.

We have just developed our simple Grumpy Old Managers Social Media To Do and Not To Do list and will later this month begin to rollout a range of services aimed at giving businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to get into the Game of Being Found on the Net as soon and as effectively as possible

Our approach which I will expand on in future posts aims to help all business  target and connect with  customers across multiple channels.