Racist Taiwanese Guy (Justice Porn Edition)

If you’re not familiar with justice porn, it’s the concept of someone getting what they deserve. It’s a great feeling to see something in real life or online, then hear that justice has been served. Either they were reprimanded, arrested, or taken to court. There was a recent post on Reddit of a video from a white man and his Taiwanese girlfriend in Taiwan being followed and insulted by a Taiwanese native on the MTR (subway).

I spent time in Taipei and loved it! The people are so friendly and courteous and don’t mind listening to my poor Chinese. They will go out of their way to help you. This guy is an outlier, and I think that’s why it cause such a commotion. It is very out of character for someone in Taiwan to do something like this. The MTR in Taipei is safe, quiet, people will give up their seats, they will wait in line and patiently walk in.

Apparently Chris, the foreigner in the video, and his girlfriend were followed from one train car to another by this Taiwanese man. He then started insulting them both. Chris has an excellent handle of Chinese and was very skilled at talking back to this guy. Although, he should have just ignored him as the guy just seemed like a troll.

To make things short, this was posted a few days ago, and the next day the Taiwanese man was arrested. Chris had been to the Taiwanese police and they never did anything. That was weeks ago. Now he posts his video on YouTube and it gets over 1 million views and justice is served.

Video of the confrontation

 

Social Media Marketing Website Critique

For a design snob like me, these sites truly hurt something deep inside me. They make me cringe. But hey, not everyone has a taste for design, and some people just have better things to do!

Besides marketing, I have a passion for design. I’m not a graphic designer (I dabbled in it a bit and considered it as a career), but I consider myself an enthusiast. That being said, I frequent subreddits like r/design_critiques and r/logodesign to help those not skilled in design (not saying I don’t go on to cringe at the poor choices people make in their designs). So now you can see why I’m a snob about this stuff.

Here’s a social media marketing company. The website gets the point across, but it’s in need of a complete overhaul. If I were a potential client, I’d see this website and run the other way.

Website #1

 

ugly social media marketing website1

ugly services

The Good
– The site says right away what this company does
– The navigation bar is prominent
– Background color is easy on the eyes

The Bad
– Too many graphics
– Nav bar is positioned strangely
– The slideshow just has random stock photos
– Why is “Social media marketing consultants” in two colors?
– The image says “SEO” but they don’t offer that service
– Boring stock photos of “business people”
– Copy is boring!
– Clicking on each service gives almost no description
– Clicking a service brings you to “add to basket” “Shipping Free: Ships within 14 days” What?
– You’re paying $400 for Twitter…but for what? There’s no info!
– The “What we do” bullets are links that go nowhere
– Clicking “more” doesn’t do anything

The Rise(?) and Fall of the Narwhal Bacon Box

narwhal bacon box
Image from CNet

Alright, so I’ve been thinking of the title for this. I decided on “the rise and fall” because, hey, it describes what I’m going to be writing about. But I put a question mark next to “rise” because for all the press and hype the Narwhal Bacon Box (NBB) received, it never actually did anything.

The Story

Ok, so for those out of the loop, the Narwhal Bacon Box was a subscription box service. They describe themselves as a “monthly box of internet geekiness” that is “made by redditors, for redditors”. They were supposed to launch with a box in July. The theme of the box was Reddit Entrepreneurs. Five businesses started by Redditors were set to have their products shipped out in each box. These businesses were:

Savage Jerky (u/FBeezy)
Bullet Bouquets (u/Less_Govt_Please)
Proton Paperie (u/nuclear85)
WTF Prank Candles (u/lordtylerward)
Mini Materials (u/minimaterials)

I keep talking about the company in the past tense even though the company kept trying to sell their boxes up until mid October without having sent any… at all (as far as I’ve seen). People kept signing up for subscriptions while people from previous months never got anything. That’s the short story. It’s not quite clear yet why NBB never shipped out anything. They claimed “the business has failed due to product curation issues and capital issues”.

The thing with this explanation is that the 5 business above got together and wrote a post on r/Entrepreneur. The post is titled:

“A shady businessman took money from Redditors and blamed us when he didn’t deliver your product. We’re the owners of five small Reddit-related businesses that want to clear our names and make things right. AUA!”

It is written by u/minimaterials, most likely along with the rest of the business owners. In the post, u/minimaterials (MM), explains that NBB reached out to each one of them to supply products for the box. Each one supplied products, and many agreed to Net30 terms. Net30 terms means that they sent the products, and were to expect payment 30 days later. The products were all sent, and NBB was in possession of them, but never shipped out any boxes. There was an email from NBB to customers titled “Our July Box is Running Late”, check it out here. For the lazy, it says the July “reddit startups” box is delayed due to “a retail partner conflict”. MM and the gang take this to mean that NBB is blaming them (the suppliers) for the delay.

In the post, MM states:

We wanted to clear the air, as this is 100% not the case. He has had 120 units of each of our products in his possession since the end of July, and nothing has shipped and we have NOT received payment for any of it. (Except Erin from Proton Paperie.)

*Erin of Proton Paperie had not agreed to the Net30 terms, and had been paid 50% before shipping and 50% Net 30. They even withheld shipping out their goods because the first payment deadline had been missed by NBB.

TLDR: Narwhal Bacon Box claims “retail partner conflict” as the reason they can’t ship the July “Reddit startups” box. The 5 business owners who were supplying July’s box post on Reddit that they had shipped their product, 4 of the 5 were not paid, and Narwhal Bacon Box still has their goods, having never sent any boxes.

I took great interest in this post. First, because somehow I had missed Narwhal Bacon Box. I had never heard of it until this post. If I had, I probably would have cringed at the name. Second, I believe subscription boxes, while a good idea for items you need consistently, are being overdone. This is an interesting business concept, and the company had tons of hype and PR (Product Hunt, CNet, Daily Dot, Food and Wine). Although some Redditors weren’t fond of the concept, it seems they did have a lot of buzz and, I’m sure, a lot of orders.

The Criticisms & Poor Responses

There were lots of detractors though, especially on Reddit, the main target audience. Here are some quotes from Redditors when NBB posted about their business…

“Narwhal Bacon Box? Seriously? This has to be the most cringeworthy product I’ve seen advertised on Reddit in a long time. If I were you I’d consider some serious rebranding or you won’t last very long. Oh, and you need to fire whoever came up with that ridiculous name.” u/ TheHornyCripple

“the name – the concept – the website – this has to be a joke or some weird market research right?” u/uninhabited

The person (or persons) behind the NBB Reddit username also had some people annoyed by their defensive tone. As a marketer, I was amazed to see some of the comments NBB made to critiques or negative posts.

“I mean this in the nicest way, but you are not equipped to handle messaging and social engagement.” – u/terpin, an advertising professional writing to NBB.

In this thread, it also seems that NBB deleted some of their comments. U/BlueBerk wrote “You really have to pay attention to your tone and not take these criticisms personally.” And referred to comments that NBB made such as, “As for the name, deal with it” and “No one else is that lame, u/kendragon“. I searched for these comments and couldn’t find them, either I’m bad at searching or they were deleted (if you can point me to them, I’d greatly appreciate it).

NBB also wrote “What is wrong with you?” to U/iheartbaconsalt who had created the post “The Narwhal Bacon Box subscribers had a long quarter of cruel and unusual punishment, but now the Bacon Box is dead.” on r/bacon.

Just these few comments makes it seem like NBB either didn’t care or didn’t know how to respond to people. I give them this though, they have responded to many negative posts on their Facebook as well as Reddit.

Just a few more things I found.

The NBA Player Comment

NBB made some comments about an NBA player liking their boxes.

NBB posted, “It’s a mixed bag. We all love it. NBA Superstar loves it. CNET loves it. ProductHunt loves it. Some redditors hate it, some redditors love it. Most everyone is familiar with it.” in response to someone asking if they thought the business name was a good idea. The response was really cringeworthy in my opinion.

Nobody on Reddit, myself included, will care that an NBA player likes your subscription box. U/gary_brambleton responded, “Again with the bragging about the NBA Superstar! No one cares!”.

The same user also posted “So how about the second question- why do you think people on Reddit care about a former NBA player tweeting about you? Everyone is just going to assume that you paid a marketing company for it anyway. It just sounds like a generic, desperate PR move.” To which NBB responded, “I mentioned it once in the description and once in a question. I’m not trying to brag but, we certainly thought it was cool.”.

I guess NBB was trying to humblebrag but it failed.

The Rebuttal Post

Update – Just found a post on r/Entrepreneur titled Five small reddit-related businesses are accusing me of stealing from them and blaming my failed business on their products – this is grossly inaccurate and defamation of my character – here’s the real story.

It was posted 12 hours ago (so about 11am Central Time) and the username was deleted. The content of the post was also deleted. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any archive of the post. From the comments, users had a field day with whatever was posted…..safe to say it didn’t go the way NBB wanted it to and that’s why they deleted it.

So far all I can tell that they posted, thanks to quotes in the comments, is…..

“just one of those things….businesses fail”.

“Some of you have questioned why I don’t bring these to work with me and ship them during my lunch break – I work in the middle of the woods at a manufacturing facility and getting to the post in 30 mins and back is not possible. “

“Some of you have questioned why I haven’t had USPS pick these items up from my home – I’m not leaving inventory unattended on my doorstep.”

“Entrepreneurs fail. Everyone here should know that. The number one reason most start-ups fail is capital.”

NBB even went as far as to claim libel for the posting done by the 5 Reddit business owners who called him “Shady…blamed us when he didn’t deliver your product“.

NBB also apparently claimed they didn’t splurge on unnecessary expenses but in another comment they claimed to have racked up $22,000 in costs. One image floating around was of signage that users said NBB had gotten for the business. It turns out this sign was just a mockup.

Check out U/Corporate666’s comment on the post, it’s a lot better than anything I would write. They respond to tons of things it seems NBB had written in their now-deleted post.

Banning a Customer from Their Facebook Page

It seems like deleting is their go-to method of crowd control. Apparently, NBB had blocked a user from their Facebook page because she had written insulting things. This screencap has been posted multiple times and people are saying this was the comment that got her banned.

comments fb

 

This Quote

This quote popped up on the NBB website. Bob Brown of Network World said this about the quote, “Not the most egregious thing in the world, but Narwhal Bacon Box took a few liberties in how it quoted us on its site.” I checked the original article and don’t see any mention of this quote. It seems like NBB just took a few points from the article and made their own quote. This isn’t a huge deal, as the reporter mentioned, but it still makes me think “C’mon guys, really?”. But again, not a huge to do.

*NBB added in the exclamation point on this quote

network world quote narwhal bacon box

 

 

My Thoughts

The irony of all this, is that NBB was supposed to be a product centered around Reddit, and now the community has turned against the company.

A few things I want to say. Reddit doesn’t like getting marketed to. A subscription box based on Reddit using the name from an old Reddit meme? Pretty lame, and most active Redditors would know this, and have even told NBB this. Trying to cash in on Reddit is not a good idea, combine that with being “shady” as the 5 businesses above claim, and acting quite defensive rather than admitting fault straight out are all ingredients for disaster.

NBB does say they have refunded almost all their customers. Thing is, it’s almost November and the business started taking orders in July. Some people were even billed multiple months, even though they never got any boxes (according to comments on their Facebook page). The way the business was run led to its downfall (obviously). Who knows if it was issues with capital and product curation as NBB claims, or something else.

I think the reason I got so caught up in this story is because it’s kind of like a car crash. You’re driving along and it’s pretty monotonous. Then there’s a bit of traffic and you pass by a pretty bad accident. There is glass on the road, a bumper torn off, huge dents on the cars, people are standing around the scene. It’s tough not to stare! You want to know what happened, what went wrong. This story is the same thing. I couldn’t turn away, it seems like every post or comment had some new juicy detail. I hate to say it, but I enjoyed reading about this, critiquing it in my mind, thinking how I would have done things. I’ll never know…..and we’ll never know if NBB was actually a great business or not.

 

 

 

PS. I’m writing this based off comments, and posts on Reddit and Facebook. I’ve tried to quote as much as possible. This is a story about the company and their failure to send back suppliers’ products, as well as the company’s poor handling of responding to some comments. It’s also MY OPINION! I think there has to be something else behind the company failing. If you’re the owner of Narwhal Bacon Box, I’d love to get your side of the story. But I want to hear the real story, and why it failed so badly that you couldn’t send out one box. I think other people would like to know as well. People want transparency, even if you say “I just couldn’t handle it” or “My job and family got in the way”, I think people would understand. The fact that you strung customers and suppliers along for months is what really has people upset, and that you won’t give a clear answer or outright take responsibility. Saying it’s due to capital or product curation is not a great excuse. If it is capital, what went wrong? Why could you build a website, get boxes designed, create a nice logo, and have all the July boxes’ products sent to you, but you couldn’t ship them out, all while having customers send you money for them? I’m sorry if I sound like I’m pushing against you, I am really just trying to figure things out for myself. I hope you’ll reach out to me.

Poor Lead Generation Copy

Since I started doing the little experiment for lead generation, I’ve been paying attention to the copywriting I’m using for my messages. I don’t spend a ton of time on crafting the perfect message, but I do make sure it sounds personal.

Now check out this message I got from another social media marketer on a Facebook page that I manage.

Bad lead generation

 

Here is what I see wrong:
– Run on sentences
– “a evaluation”
– Marketing consultant, oh and a social media expert, and don’t forget SEO! Just say marketing consultant
– Not personal! (Looks like it’s just copy pasted everywhere except for the restaurant name)
– Didn’t spell the restaurant name correctly

If I got this message as a business, I’d skip over it. Yes, she is offering to “share with you a few things I noticed that will help you be found this season”. But what does that even mean? Is it worth my time to call and find out what this is? She should have just told me! Telling me a few things would probably make it more likely that I call her if I find her suggestions useful. Plus she spelled the restaurant name wrong. She may have just hit the wrong key, but there are a million other social media marketers and an error like that can cause a client to just delete your message. It’s like HR throwing out a resume that has a typo. They have a stack of hundreds; bad grammar or a typo makes their job much easier. Just toss out the bad ones, focus on the great ones.

Maybe I’m being nit-picky but I find this message dull and uninspiring, especially if I were the business on the receiving end.

That reminds me! Let me add in another social media marketing message I received. This one was sent to my personal email which is attached to my Craigslist account. I had posted offering social media services on Craigslist. Note that I was offering a service, not seeking it.

cl bad email

 

This guy and his company email me twice offering social media services. I’m assuming they are using some sort of autoresponse system to reply to anything that has “social media marketing” or “social media” in the title or body of a Craiglists post.

This kind of stuff makes social media marketers look bad, and seem like a joke :/ He didn’t even pay enough attention to the fact that I was offering a service, not seeking out one. He also had to state “I’m a real person”. Wait, sooooo should I have been expecting a robot? Maybe a dog? I think a social media dog would be cool, what a great hook for an email! “I’m a social media marketer….I’m actually not a marketer though, I’m a dog!”. I digress.

Plus this email is BORING! I couldn’t even read it all. It’s just “Hey look what we do” “Hey buy this” “OMG we do this stuff”. Nothing that says how they will help me increase traffic, gain more leads, get sales, or create relationships with my audience. I messaged him telling him to update his copywriting… I hope he does.

Yep, that’s it! If I find more of these messages I’ll post them here.

Update: Just found another message on the same restaurant’s Facebook page.

bad website lead

 

This one is for web design. Wtf is “Google recognized professional websites”? I’m going to research it, but I’m not aware of this term. $150 a month SEO for a year, how generous of you, you shouldn’t have. I don’t think you could have a worst lead gen message. It could be worse if she had only posted her website url, but I don’t know ’cause that message is pretty terrible. So you’re paying $1800 for a website and shitty SEO? It sounds like Brenda here is a car salesman trying to make it sound like you’re getting a great deal when in reality there is no deal.

I checked out the website, and I’ll be damned, she actually has a portfolio of client websites. These people got cheated because their sites are not too great looking. Even her website is terrible…. and she’s selling web design services! I’ll post some of the sites here in the morning, it’s already past 1 am D:

Social Media Lead Experiment

Update 10/16 11:59 pm
I literally just created a Facebook header and sent it to a company at 11:21pm. They just responded at 11:56pm, “Call me, I would love help”. Already a potential client!

kayak success

 

Hey guys! So I’ve decided to test something out with gaining leads. I procrastinate a lot by listening to YouTube videos or podcasts on business. I’ve heard a bit about people gaining traction with leads by offering something in their cold email. Hey! That’s a great idea, I thought to myself. If I were a business owner and someone doing web design sent me a mockup of a website they would build for me, or they sent me a video critiquing my site, I’d remember them. I may not use their service right away but I would remember them if I ever needed a new site. So I’m going to try this out for myself by offering a little something extra in my pitch.

What do I mean by this? So offering something could be giving someone a free graphic for their blog, a new Facebook header, or maybe a video giving them ideas on how to improve their website’s copy.

I’m looking out for some new social media leads. Now social media marketing is a dime a dozen. Everyone is doing it! Why would someone pick me over another company? I want to create a beneficial relationship first. I won’t go in and just email or message a company offering social media work. Instead, I will be creating custom Facebook headers for them. Then I will introduce my business and offer my services if they ever need it. I may not get leads now, but I’m hoping people will remember that I gave them that header and contact me when they decide they need social media work.

We’ll see how this goes. There are so many social media companies pushing their services. I think it’d be a nice change of pace for a company to receive something unsolicited that they can use for their social media.

As for the cost to me, it’s just my time. Yes yes, time is money…time is important. Making a Facebook header takes less than 10 minutes for me, some I can whip up even more quickly. I do them while I watch tv or relax, so it’s really not taking up too much time. Then I will message it to the company’s Facebook page, and let them know I’m available for social media work. The message won’t be fancy, just something personal.

Example message:
Hey there! I made your Facebook page a custom header. Please feel free to use it, and if you don’t want to that’s totally cool too. I work with some businesses in the area running their social media sites, and I’d love to work with you guys. If you are ever in need of some social media work I’m always available 🙂 All the best, Lauren. 

If I got this message on Facebook, I’d be much more likely to open it than if I saw something like this…

Hello. I am part of the BORING MARKETING CO. and we provide social media marketing services to companies such as yourself. We can create social media campaigns, launch ads, craft posts, and engage with your userbase. We are also a full-service marketing company and will help your business get on the map in your area. Please call us at 555-5555 and we will be happy to go over our services. 

Ok, now that’s lame. I see no point in reading that if I am a busy business owner. I probably get a few of these emails a week. I’d skip over it and never think of it again. There is nothing in it for me! They’re just pushing their services and that’s it. There is no personality, no stats to show how well they do, nothing! Personally, I hate this kind of pushy sales messaging. I have no idea how well it converts, but I’d say way less than 1%…if they even get anybody. Sure, sending this out to 10,000 companies you are bound to get someone, but that’s a terrible strategy.


Strictly selling on social media? You’re doing it wrong

Now, what I’m doing with my clients is something I pride myself on when I’m doing social media work. I try to make sure my clients understand that social media is about building relationships with customers and creating a community. It’s not a sales platform! Well, it shouldn’t be anyways. Marketers ruin things. They ruined email, and now they’ve moved onto social media. One reason I don’t personally use Twitter often is the insane amount of DMs and Tweets promoting a business or offering a service. These sites aren’t about that, people don’t go on Facebook to be sold things. They go on to connect with friends and see what their ex is doing.

So I make sure to stress to clients that the work going into social media won’t necessarily have immediate payoffs. You want to instead take time to build relationships, talk to customers as a person (not sell to them), and hopefully they use your service or buy your product in the long run. This is how I’d want a business to treat me on social media, and I think it’s how social media marketing should be done.

It’s a shame that so many social media marketers and businesses are using the platforms for their own personal gain. Yeah sure, you’re a business and the point is to make money. But to make money on social media, you need to use it the right way and have conversations. Eventually people will stop using it because everything will be about selling.

If you’re not totally sure what I’m talking about, here’s a simple example. I run a Twitter account for a popular seafood restaurant. A few times a week, I do an advanced search for the area and the city’s hashtag. I see what people are up to, and engage with them. One woman is a photographer and lately I’ve been replying to many of her posts. Just simple things like “Amazing shot, wish that was on my wall” or “Beautiful! Great photo Lisa”. They take seconds to write, and there is no selling going on. Lisa almost always responds back. Who knows if she has ever dined with the restaurant or ever will, but during that interaction she noticed us. Trying to sell to her, she likely would have ignored it. “Hey Lisa, stop in for our Happy Hour!”. She would have probably glanced it over and been like “Ok?”. She didn’t ask about happy hour, we just shouted it at her. It’s like getting fliers shoved in your hand while you walk down the street. You don’t want it, instead you are now annoyed and throw it away.

So don’t annoy your potential customers! Just be a person, not a business. Sure you can sell every once in a while. If someone posts about looking for a great seafood restaurant, don’t miss the chance to say “Come check us out!” and attach a photo of a delicious meal.

Alright, rant over 🙂

Corporate Social Media Posts That Will Make You Cringe

It’s a bigger problem than I had imagined. I spend a lot of time scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, etc. And I see so many companies taking images that clearly aren’t theirs and posting them without attribution. The worst is when a company posts an image or meme, then throws their logo on top of it. I’ll post a few of my favorites. Maybe favorite isn’t a great word for these terrible images. It’s surprising that there are companies out there with such poor social media marketing skills. It is totally fine to be funny and show your sense of humor in your business, when it’s warranted, but posting these images is going too far. You’ll see what I mean.

Warning * Some of these images are crude, and have to deal with sex. I don’t post this type of stuff, but I want to show it as an example of what you shouldn’t be doing when posting on social media.

I covered the logo, company name, and Twitter handle. But this is just one example of image stealing. I believe the original image is from Some E Cards.

south beach grille image

 

This next one is a company with a particularly awful social media strategy. It’s not really a strategy. They do something in the real estate space. I know real estate is particularly competitive, nearly every other post I see on Twitter is from a realtor. But that doesn’t mean you should be stealing memes and placing your logo on them. Plus, I find posting memes (especially irrelevant ones) quite tacky for a business. If you find the meme funny, sure share it, but don’t throw your logo on it too if you didn’t make it. For businesses, this is something that can come back to bite you if the image’s owner ever finds it.

homeqwest

 

homeqest 2

 

Again, the photo has nothing to do with real estate, homes, investing….at all! Scrolling through this company’s Instagram gets worse and worse as you go back in time. Earlier photos were accompanied by hashtags like #sex and #trimthatbush (I’m not kidding!). Speaking of #sex, take a look at some of their other images, which I consider worse than the memes. I’m not sure why anyone looking through their images would wish to work with them.

homeqest kangaroo

 

Alright, that company is over with. But here is another realtor. Is this a case of trying to differentiate? Are there now so many realtors that you need to brand yourself as the funny, sexy one?

This woman doesn’t really know the difference between certain memes. This next images seems to be a mashup of success kid and you da real mvp. I covered her URL.

real mvp

 

This next one hurts. It made me cringe so badly. This was the first image I saw from here, which prompted me to go into her account and see the rest of her poorly chosen photos. I bet you will see this photo and think “what would make someone think that’s ok to post!?”. And it’s on her business page!

old

 

Update – January 21,2016

Bad news post

 

Found this one on Instagram while scrolling through a client’s feed. It’s from a company in the area on their company Instagram page. The caption read “Wake up”. From their other posts, I’m assuming this image was posted in relation to their political/religious beliefs. No matter what your thoughts or feelings on current religious or political events, it’s best not to bring them into your business. I’m definitely not saying you can’t. But if you are taking a stand on a certain issue, don’t be surprised if customers who feel strongly in the opposite viewpoint stop doing business. It’s up to you to decide if you care more about your strong beliefs, or about pleasing anyone who wants to be your customer regardless if their beliefs conflict with yours.

It’s an interesting topic to discuss, as you sometimes here in the news about a particular business taking a stand on a hot button issue like Same Sex Marriage or allowing Syrian Refugees into the US. Or going so far as to deny customers based on their beliefs, as when a bakery refused to make a cake for a gay couple planning to get married. Is it right? No. But if it is your business, do you not have the right do say who you do or don’t want to work with? It’s a tricky subject with many legal and social ramifications. I’m going off on a tangent, but I think an open discussion of this with business owners who feel strongly about their beliefs and don’t want to do business with those who oppose them is a great way to see how we can remedy this situation, if a solution can be created at all.

 

That’s all I have for now. But I’ll be updating with more of these cringe-inducing photos.

 

Transparency is Here to Stay

It sucks to read an article hoping to gain some tips (as the title promised) only to feel deceived and left stranded. It seems like a majority of the marketing blogs out there just write the same stuff over and over. A lot of these articles also don’t do much! “Learn how to grow your blog to $1 million”. They give you a few generic tips like “pick a niche” and “focus on keywords”. Well 99% of the other blogs out there will tell you the same thing! It’s boring, and doesn’t push the industry forward or help anyone.

Transparency has been popping up in blogs and businesses lately. Especially on one of my favorite sites, Reddit’s Entrepreneur subreddit. It’s all user-generated and you’ll find some really great conversations and stories in there. Yeah, there will be a lot of self promotion and posts you’re not interested in, but keep an eye out for the amazing posts. These posts are usually by entrepreneurs chronicling their journey to sales through a case study. These tend to be the top rated posts on the subreddit, because they are honest, and teach us something. Although they are a form of self promotion, nobody cares because the lessons we learn from the post are valuable and we appreciate that they wrote this to share with everyone. One of my favorite, and one of the top rated, posts on r/entrepreneur was from u/localcasestudy about the subscription box company he and his partner bought and helped turn around to become a huge success.

This is a trend among people on the site, as well as those just starting up online. Many people are creating blogs, videos, and podcasts about how picking their topic, struggles, successes, everything. This may have stemmed from the popularity of Startup, the hit podcast from Alex Blumberg who created a show about himself creating a podcasting business. I personally loved the show! I can’t wait for it to come back (it did come back for a second season that chronicled another startup). Because this is an inside look at someone with no business experience getting started and making it work. It’s not one of those blog posts titled “Here’s how I succeeded” and they tell you everything that went right and none of the bad stuff you should expect. It’s a real time, open look at how he’s working to make his business. You feel a connection to him and his journey, even cringing at the moment when he tells his new business partner his proposed equity split and it’s much much lower than his partner expected.

Stories are what we engage with, it’s something that every marketer tries to  create around a product or service. We respond to a great story, creating emotional ties to it. A brand is supposed to elicit this emotional reaction, but it’s hard to manufacture. With transparency, you don’t need to create a story, it’s already there! You and your business are the story and people resonate with it. Don’t be fake and try to make something that isn’t there, just be yourself. Huge online successes like Pat Flynn don’t even hide their income, he’s well known for sharing everything he makes and his expenses. People love it! Not saying that you have to share your income (though it’s a good idea and makes you credible), but find something you do want to share and that you believe could help others.

So pretty much: help people by being open, they may respond, they may not but just try it out anyways 🙂

Does a Plumber Really Need Twitter? Why your business doesn’t need to be everywhere online

Does a plumber need to be on twitter

This post isn’t all about plumbers, this is just one example of a local business that may try to focus on social media to get leads. I want to go over whether social media is right for every business. The short answer is: it’s not. That doesn’t mean a plumber (carpenter, painter, lawncare company, etc.) can’t benefit from being online. My opinion is that not every platform works well for every business. Your business needs to figure out its goals for being on social media and determine which platform is right. Social media can be a great place to get leads, but social is mainly about interacting with your customers and audience.

Twitter
Not every business will gain leads from Twitter, it’s a difficult platform to master and gain a following. This is especially true for local businesses. Our example is of a plumber, let’s say Wilson Plumbers. Wilson has a website with his services, phone number, and some photos. He’s not seeing much traction through his site, he’s asked a few customers where they found him and it hasn’t been through the website. He thinks social media is the answer. Everyone is on Twitter and Facebook these days, and everyone needs plumbing every now and then! It’s free to set up an account, so why not? He’s never really used Twitter but makes a profile, puts up some images, fills in the description, then posts his first Tweet “The best plumber in Madeup City is Wilson Plumbers!”.

He waits a few days and checks the account. There’s a notification! He clicks it and see he has a follower. He clicks the profile picture and realizes it’s not even a real person! Oh well, he decides to check back later. But days go by and still no activity. What’s wrong?

This is an oversimplified example but it’s typical of clients I’ve had. They create a profile on every social media site (it’s free so why not?), post a few statuses (mainly about their business), then wait for something to happen. But nothing really comes from it. They give up and forget about the accounts. A potential customer sees that account is dormant and won’t bother following it. Depending on the business, it may be a good idea to focus your energy elsewhere. It’s smarter to focus on what works for the business. And certain business types just aren’t really fit for certain social media sites.

I can’t make a blanket statement as to what businesses work best on Twitter. But I have seen restaurants work well, because people love taking pictures of food and sharing it. It’s a great idea for restaurants to use Twitter to interact with customers who talk about their food, service, experience, etc. Twitter is also excellent because you can search and find people talking about your business who don’t follow you. It’s very easy to engage and interact on Twitter with nonfollowers.

Pinterest
I really really hate social media companies that advise businesses to get an account on everything: YouTube, Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. Then they charge for each account they set up. I don’t find the practice helpful for businesses. A company should look strategically at what the business hopes to accomplish, who their target audience is, and decide where best to focus their social strategy. A lawncare company may not benefit from being on Pinterest. It’s difficult to focus on targeting and acquiring local customers on Pinterest, so no matter how great the content you post, you may never see a return. A site like Pinterest works well for a company based online. Users on Pinterest are located all over, so you can attract more buyers with an ecommerce or online-services business. Pinterest is also very female-centric, that’s not to say men aren’t Pinners, women just make up a majority of the activity. Recipe blogs, clothing, decor, and fitness do well on this site.

I don’t want to discount Pinterest for local businesses, it can be a useful site to showcase your items. But unless you have a website where people can buy your goods, I wouldn’t focus too much on it. If you have, say, an ecommerce store selling jewelry, you’d do well with Pinterest if you focus on providing great content and high quality photos. Especially now that Pinterest is offering ads.

Google Plus
I don’t really see much point in focusing on this platform other than for reviews and search placement. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have one! Reviews on your Google+ Business page can help you rank for local searches. The relatively new local carousel at the top of Google for searches like “Pizza Chicago” will display pizza restaurants based off their Google + reviews. You need about 4 reviews in order to get the stars showing for your business. Your Google+ business page will also show up on the right side of the search results when someone looks you up. This is useful information, as it shows your map location, address, phone number, and photos (all of which you must provide).

Google+ is useful especially for local businesses! The ability to have a prominent amount of info display on the search results page is important. Be sure to set up your Google+ Business Page with the correct information and get verified. And make sure your site is on Google Maps.

Yelp
This site is extremely important for local businesses! Yelp is most peoples’ (mine included) first stop when looking up where to eat, what painter to use, where to get their hair cut. People trust reviews! So you should actively focus on having clients post reviews on Yelp. Don’t use unethical tactics like paying for reviews (I’m not a fan of this). Have a sign in your business asking customers to post a review, and stress how it helps small businesses and owners. You can offer a discount on their next visit when they email you their review. Think of a clever way to incentivize reviews. Otherwise, the only people that take the time will be those who had an extremely great experience or those who had a terrible one. You need to target those who had a great experience, but may not take the time to write about it.

Yelp: All local businesses should be here! Actively seek out reviews. Reply to negative reviews publicly on the site, it’s better to say sorry and accept responsibility and learn from the review.

Facebook
This seems to be everyone’s favorite platform! But when was the last time you ever bought a product or service because of a post on Facebook? It’s highly doubtful that out of all the pages to like on Facebook, that you will like a plumbing company (unless they happen to be friends of yours). The real beauty of Facebook is the power to target a specific audience.

How does this work? Alright, so Facebook wants to make money. I hate to say it, but the posts on your business’s page are not getting to all your followers. Facebook does this on purpose. It forces you to buy ads or pay to boost a post. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. A Facebook ad allows you to target a specific audience by a variety of characteristics: age, gender, interests, location, etc. This is great for local businesses, as you can really focus your money on people who may be interested in your product/service.

Facebook is good for local and web based businesses. If you want to see a good return on the time and effort you spend on the site, you’ll need to pay for ads. It may take time to test out what works. There are many factors to play around with: image, title, description, color, etc. So don’t worry if your first ad doesn’t get the response you want, try again! Also be sure you come up with a goal for your ad. I’ve had experience with businesses who say they tried ads and failed. But this is because they just posted a picture of their business with a description. You have to decide if you’re driving traffic to your website, growing likes, getting emails, or expecting foot traffic. You also need to offer something like a discount, contest, free product to drive people to your business. People won’t go just because you put up an ad.

Instagram
This platform is hot! You can easily gain followers and will see tons of likes and comments roll in, more so than with other platforms. The key to success on Instagram is posting quality photos. If you are a local company, try showing your work, behind the scenes shots of your employees at work. Don’t spam followers with advertisements of your business. Nobody wants to see that. Instead use Instagram to build a relationship with followers.

With this app, you can only post photos, no links. In your description you can write out the relevant URL if you need to. See what other companies in your area are doing and try to emulate them. Don’t overlook this platform!

I hit the major social media sites, the ones you should be looking into if you are a local business. Think about what you want your social media strategy to do for your business, then pick a few of these sites to target. Don’t spread yourself thin by being on every site. It’s time consuming to create a following, get content, and engage. Focus your energy on sites you think will suit your business best.

All the best!

 

Why Social Media Marketing Sucks (& How to fix it)

social media marketing sucks

(Link bait title, don’t hate me! But hey it got you here!)

“I thought social media marketing was the wave of the future! Everybody is doing it.” Ok, so I should admit that not all social media marketing sucks as I did in the title. But when everyone says they are a social media maven on Twitter, you have to be wary of what they are offering. I’m talking about these guys. The ones who charge $400 a month to write a few Facebook posts and Tweets that don’t grow your business or gain more customers. This sort of social media marketing sucks!

We’ve all seen it before. Someone with barely any experience in marketing thinks they can become the next great social media guru (not a fan of that word but it’s relevant to this post). They believe all they have to do is write some posts, and the likes will start rolling in. That’s how they measure success. But what’s a “like” to a business? Your Facebook page may have 1,500 likes but what does that do for you? Did you know that for any given post you put on your business’s Facebook page, barely 10% of your followers will even see it?  Social Media Examiner found that over 6 months, there was a constant decline for organic post reach of 6,000 different business pages. That’s done on purpose. That’s how Facebook gets you to buy ads and pay to boost posts, and it works! Once you are able to actually reach your audience, magic happens!

It can be tough finding the right person or team to handle your social media marketing and management. I mention management because writing posts for social media is just half the job. The other half is engaging with potential customers. When someone comments on something you posted, it’s important to write back. This doesn’t have to be done for every comment, but people do appreciate the feedback. A network like Twitter is full of opportunities that you may be missing out on. Since you can see everyone’s feeds (as long as they aren’t private) you can find out what they are interested in and engage with them. The key to this is to help not sell. Let’s repeat: Help, don’t sell. The last thing you want on Twitter is for someone to @ reply you trying to sell you their product or service. It’s like walking down the street in a busy city and having someone try to hand you fliers. Don’t interrupt people by trying to sell. The truly great social media marketers genuinely engage with people. Offering advice, giving a compliment, answering a question.

Here’s an example of some fictional customer interaction. Let’s say you tweeted about wanting to move to Chicago. You may get some responses from realtors in the city offering you their service, and asking you to call them. You’re not really interested in that right now. But one realtor points you toward a blog about things to do in Chicago. Nice! You’ll check it out. A few months later it comes time to look for apartments. You decide to hire a realtor to do it for you since you live out of town. Then you remember the helpful realtor from Twitter! You check out her site and give her a call.

Ok so this isn’t typical of all interactions, and I’m sure a realtor would love to have this happen even just a few times a month. But it is a good example to illustrate the power of being helpful and genuine on social media.

“So how do I make my social media suck less?”

I have a few helpful tips to get you started!

  • Post relevant and engaging curated content or create your own
  • Strategize about post frequency (Check out this Buffer article)
  • Don’t copy and paste the same posts across different platforms
  • Talk to your fans! Answer questions, give feedback, be personal
  • Optimize your post times (check your analytics to see when fans are online)
  • Use great graphics and images- being visual is one of the best ways to catch someone’s attention

I hope this has been helpful! If you have comments, concerns, questions, or just want to say hey, then leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.