Friday, November 30, 2012

Do Connect or Don’t Connect?

Do you connect on social media with only those you personally know or with any real person? I was involved in a networking discussion recently and this topic broke. The group was about evenly split between do or do not connect.

Personally, I connect with most anyone that wants to connect, that I deem to not be a spammer. But I get the side that doesn’t want to connect with people they don’t personally know. I think the real question is why are on social media in the first place? If you’re there to chat with your friends, share family photos and connect with old classmates, then why would you connect with people you don’t know? You wouldn’t. But if you’re participating in social media to meet new business partners, find customers, network, and other general business principles, then you want to be connected with as many people as possible. The more people you know, the wider your marketing message is spread. In addition, if you’re trying to create opportunities for introductions, the more people you know the better the chances you have of getting connected.

So, do you connect?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday tops $1B

Black Friday shoppers made lots of business owners happy this year spending an estimated $1.042 billion, according to a report by comScore. In store traffic was down just under 2%, which means that shoppers were opting for cyber shopping in their PJs rather than camping out in them on parking lot asphalt. Amazon was the biggest winner and with Apple coming in 5th. 

So how will this affect Cyber Monday? Estimates are for a bumper day today coming in at $1.5 billion. That's a lot of iPads and eBooks.

Will you shop online today or did you brave the crowed on Friday? I'm unlikely to do either, but I'm not your typical shopper.  

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Connecting with Customers…The Old Fashioned Way

I recently read an article by Craig Chappelow in Fast Company suggesting that, before the internet, we were able to ‘connect’ with our customers without the use of Facebook and other social media gimmicks. Every time he walks into the dry cleaners he is inundated with “Like us on Facebook!” signs and requests from store employees hoping to better connect with him.

That got me thinking about this issue of ‘connecting’ with customers. Does the social media craze make it easier or harder to ‘connect’ with your customers? I keep using the quotes because I’m not sure how connected, really, we ever get with social media. In the best cases, companies post information and hope to receive feedback of some sort from their customer base. If their fans like what they see, hopefully they’ll share with their ‘friends’. If they don’t like, they’re sure to share with their ‘friends’. It can be a dangerous game. We have the same issue with ‘friends’. Are they actual personally known and liked individuals, or just connections? That’s a subject for next time.
Frankly, I’m not sure that interaction with social media is really connecting. I think of connecting as a more personal issue. I had direct interaction with an employee of a company that made me feel good. THAT’s connecting. To the extent that social media engages me directly with a person, I can get that same good feeling. Frankly, I don’t get any warm and fuzzies from a process or computer controlled ‘conversation’. Wow, there’s lots of air quotes in this post. And that’s the point, actually. Does social media really connect us to a business? I’m not sure it does.

If you are a national company with business operations in say Seattle, Houston, and Savannah, how do you connect personally with a customer in Memphis? I don’t know either. It was much easier in 1968 when you pulled into the service station and the Esso man, in his uniform, came out and put gas in your car while cleaning your windshield. He then asked if he could check your oil. And because you went there every week for fuel, you became personally acquainted with him. He asked about your mother after her operation and your son’s baseball team, which he probably sponsored. That was a connection. He took great pride is giving you excellent service. The gas was almost an afterthought.

The lesson here is, connect personally with your customers whenever possible. Duh!  The hard question is, how do we use other means, social media included, to better connect with our customers when we can’t see them eye-to-eye? I’m not trying to suggest that social media is a bad solution, all things considered. I’m trying to get some ideas for helping people get better connections with their customers. The kind of connections that give you a good feeling about the business that makes you want to go back again and tell your real friends how great they are. Posting a sale flyer on Facebook isn’t going to get that done.

If you have some ideas, drop me a line or post a comment.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Veterans Day Concert

Join in the celebration to honor our veterans on Sunday, November 11th at 5:00 PM at the First Baptist Church, 600 Governors Drive, Huntsville. The FBC Orchestra will host a FREE concert of American music including our version of Salute to the Armed Forces, a medley of service anthems in honor of our veterans. 

Visit for more information.