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Monday, September 27, 2010

Who is a friend?

Have you read The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell? He talks of people called "Connectors"  from Wikipedia's extraction from his book "Connectors" are:

Connectors are the people who "link us up with the world ... people with a special gift for bringing the world together."[6] They are "a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances". [7] He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people.

Facebook and other social networking tools do this like crazy.  I have over 1500 "friends".  But, we know these are really not ALL my friends by the true definition of the word:

"A person you know well and regard with affection and trust"

Most of these 1500+ are acquaintances - some I have met, some who know people I know.  We may be interested in the same things.  We may just want to be watching what each other are doing (competitors). Some of these relationships roll off into real friendships - after all, we do have things in common, we do things in the same circles and know the same people.

"Friend" is used too loosely

I am finding though that even in real life now, we use the term "friend" too loosely. Someone we met and spent 3 days with is now one of our "best friends".  Someone we had dinner with is now named a friend in general conversation, someone we don't get along with anymore is called a friend just because it's easier than saying anything else.

I was asked last night if I was requiring someone who I barely know to make a decision between me and someone else because I didn't care for them.  I thought - "heck no, I just don't want to hang with either one of you" mostly because I learned something about this acquaintance that made them not fall into the "friend" category.  There was no drama for me, it was simple - they were not anything more than someone I was getting to know - and now I knew enough.

What is with social networking that we need to know everything about everyone - from when they are getting a cup of coffee to when they are having cramps to when they go to bed and why does this knowledge about each other make us feel that we are friends? This media has made us more and more A.D.D.  It has made us more and more in need of instant gratification. Someone who texts you at 2am just has no boundaries, they are not necessarily close and someone you can trust.

I think we just know more about each other.  Which is cool in a way - we are accountable again in an arena where we could be anonymous, and let our morals and guard down.  Maybe now, we need to mind our p's an q's and be a little more private in a very public setting.

Further Wikipedia says that Gladwell uses the following examples to describe a "Connector":

"The midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram's experiments in the small world problem, the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to "their ability to span many different worlds [... as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy."

This is not someone that just accumulates friends. This is someone that brings people together. Someone that people want to know and want to be known to know...   I think we are all becoming Connectors without the skill sets behind it - it's definitely a skill... what do you think? What skills are needed? Do you know connectors or people wielding the sword improperly?

I really wish that we could find a different word to use than "friend" in these social networking tools - it's misused or overused and is making it hard to communicate :-)

I have great  clients, customers, vendors, and acquaintance as well as fun strangers following my every move... but only a few friends - and I adore them!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Top Facebook do's and don'ts...

Expect this list to grow and change over time. Remember, I look at Facebook as a business tool, but also remember - your boss has access to FB, and even if you block people, you may not block the right people.  I think of FB as one of the great equalizers, maybe we will learn to be polite and respectful again because everyone can see what you are "thinking" online... Some of these are pet peeves, some of them are things that have worked fantastically for us at Gather, and I expect they may work for your business.  Send yours in the comments so we might add them to the main list!

Top Facebook Do's
  • Friend appropriate groups... When I started our FB presence, I friended people who sold wine, then wineries, and then people started friending me because we had friends in common and they were interested in my business.  Because of this - we have very little churn and Fan and Friend loss.
  • Be positive!
  • If multiple people post, keep the same voice.
  • Keep FB as a relationship builder - it's how people get to know you, your business, and your product personally and feel ownership in your business with you.
  • Be true to who you are - it's impossible to keep up an act online and in person for forever :)
 Top FaceBook Don'ts

  • Unfriending when you get angry at someone or what they say - hide them if they tick you off - unfriending is bad juju and should be used sparingly.
  • Spamming your friends list with messages that you don't want to send to the world
  • Stalking your competitors list - be careful doing so. Keep to friending people that are appropriate.
  • Don't fight online
  • Broadcasting that you play games all day - it says at best that you are boring, at worst, that you don't work or have a life.
  • Tweeting and FB the same message - you want all of your customers and links to follow you everywhere - imagine having contact with 1000's of people about your company and product 3-10x a day... if they follow you on FB, twitter, foursquare or more - why would they keep them all up if you say the same thing on each?
Got any thoughts?  This is a living and growing list :)

Check this link out for some more!

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Keeping up... Keeping it consistent.

    So, it's been a while since I have posted... it's been busy at my bar and social networking has become something I just do, I don't even think about it anymore.  I think that's what it needs to be though... if it's difficult to do, then it doesn't get done - and if it's hard, it's not natural to you OR your business.

    So, while I have not been blogging - I have been noticing a few things about what we have been doing and not doing with social networking and working on some cool tools that will hopefully make the tedium go away and my sparkling personality show through more (cough, cough).  That said - with social networking - there is only one thing you need to think about before you start, or STOP RIGHT NOW what you are doing and see if you are Facebooking, Tweeting, digging, LinkedInning(?) in a way that is beneficial to your business...

    Think about this... "Is your Social Networking plan consistent with your business plan?"

    Now, most of us wrote a biz plan before we started up, or to quickly show what we do as a company...  but boil down the wordiness and high hopes and bad market research to one thing... "What does your company do?" and then - "How do you do that online?"

    We can use my company as an example.  Funny, after over a year in business, saying "my company" sounds weird still.  OK, I digress, the coffee is starting to work. Gather Wine Bar is just that, a wine bar from the outside.  But from the inside it's a cool little place that:
    • Customers feel Gather is "theirs" (they bring in their own food, even though we serve food, they move furniture, they have weddings, funeral gatherings, first dates, last dates (ergh) and get engaged here... 
    • Musicians feel they can do what they want here - new things, old things, things they have always wanted to try - some musicians play for the first time, some come after a world tour.
    • Winemakers can get to know their fans on a different level - with a glass in their hand.
    • Where we live is showcased - from the local wines, to the locals who come back time after time
    • Some people come in looking like they just finished a big construction project, and others dressed for the opera and it's all ok.
    • I get to experiment with my cooking skills on unsuspecting customers and they seem to like it.
    • We get to say YES more than NO
    • We throw a cocktail party every night - and want to do it for a very long time.
    So, what does that mean in a nutshell? 
    Gather is a comfortably elegant place for visitors and locals to laugh, mingle, party, play and enjoy each other with local Central Coast wines, winemakers, music and tasty wine-friendly Gather-made food.
     Not great as a mission statement, but we will go with it for now ;-)

    So how does that pair with Social Networking tools and sites?  Well, here's how I do it...
    • Facebook - I have a group, a fan page and a personal page. My focus for each is different, but all of them keep the mission statement in mind.  We try to communicate that Gather is what that message says without boring the crap out of everyone.
      • We are migrating people from the group to a fan page. This is pretty unsuccessfully so far so remember, people don't like change, and once you do something online, or in your business, it takes a big effort to change a first impression.  We didn't serve food the first couple months we were open, and people still act surprised that we do a year later.
      • The group constantly points back to the Fan page we would like to have people look at.  
      • The Fan page talks about the cool things happening at Gather and soon it will:
        • Engage people with polls
        • Have coupons
        • Post menus and new food items
      • My personal page is just that.  It's stuff about me, what I am doing (which is often Gather), eating, drinking, who I am with at the moment...  Important note though, it is 90% positive.  I am a business woman.  People who are my friends on FB are customers or potential customers.  Bad days are not shared on FB and if they slip in, they get deleted.  We all like to "know the owner"  and as a small business owner - I don't have half the time available to me that I should to go to events and promote my business.  FB allows me to be all over my county, and across the country all at once.  I do live a charmed life in the wine industry, but no one needs to hear about the cleanup after St. Patrick's day.  No one.
    • Twitter
      • This is all bursts of information telling everyone what is going on, what is being served at Gather, who is playing at Gather, big events, news links to industry information, or general silliness about Gather or wine.
      • The messages are different than FB.  This is so important.  I have people following in all my postings - I want that - I get to say something to them several times a day.  If I bore them they will hide, unfriend or delete me.  Where else can you have 4+ mediums to tell someone about your business passively?
    • Foursquare - it's stalker twitter... where am I RIGHT NOW... silliness, but I like it - lends to the charmed life, and explains my waistline - I only eat and drink when I am not at Gather :)  People like it though, it is competitive, but conversational - it's neat, more to come on using this tool because I just dig it.
    What I do on all of these tools is what I do in my bar.  I welcome you into my life and into the Gather-scene.  People have been watching through construction, while we have been updating, improving, and Gather is really their bar.  Friends back east that I have no idea when I will have time to visit, know what I am doing and what is going on and MAYBE when they plan a vacation, they will want to do and see the cool things I get to do every day! 

    I own a small business, in a small town.  FaceBook, twitter, foursquare and the others really make the world a much smaller place.  When you were a kid, your mom knew what you did on the street on the way home before you got in the back door.  Social networking does the same thing as your mom's spy network, make it a good thing, welcome them into your business and your "business" and you will find the secret of how to make a local small business work in this economy and world of Walmarts and Home Depot's... it's YOU.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Content - to post or not to post...

    So, you are a twitter-er, a Facebook-er, a Blogger...

    You post pictures of your dog licking itself, videos of your coworkers eating cinnamon and vomiting, or you bad mouth a client or even a boss.


    This is the internet, people!  Everything you say is searchable, printable, and can bite you in the butt!  I actually just saw a twitter with a picture that was drawn on a whiteboard that was awful, and bordered on obscene. Let's think from the perspective of who might look at that:
    • Employees/Peers - "Hmmm, I didn't expect that to go out to the world... and now my boss posted it.", "Hey, my boss posts to twitter every 15 minutes... when does she work?", "Hey my boss was twittering during our one on one... no wonder why he never remembers anything"
    • Superiors - "This person represents my company to the world - like this", ""Hey, my boss posts to twitter every 15 minutes... when does she work?"
    • Clients - "No wonder they can't make deadlines", "I don't want this person on my account", "Why would I go and spend money at this place, I may get twittered about", "They may be nice in person, but this is who they really are"
    • Future employers - "We don't need this in our company"
    I used to think, if I was about to do something that would make it impossible to run for political office, I might think twice about it before doing it... now I think you should think about the old adage...

    If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all...

    I am not the model for this - but I am getting better and better at it, and it's not like I wouldn't want to lambaste a few choice people for the world to see, but very few people will hang around your tweets and banter, if you are always negative or rude.  They may enjoy or think it's funny right now, but remember that what people say is indelible, especially if they can search and pull it up later...

    Just a thought or two :)


    Social Networking Thoughts - Welcome!

    So, my story online is a long one... I have been working in the social networking field since before they called it that.  I worked on the AOL Instant Messenger 1.0 team, a Music Comminity site, student networking and marketing and advertising for the last 17 years.  I recently opened a winebar.  So much drama was going on with opening it, that I decided when working online, I would only take the high road.

    This paid off.

    I am a NJ girl, sarcasm and negativity drips off me naturally.  But online, I have always been positive.  And it works.  It also rubs off on others and even me.  I have never been insincere when online, I have only told things that were true, and tried to always see the positive in everything that has to do with my business.  People feel it when they come into my bar.

    I have a lot of opinions :)

    Being in this "internet space" for as long as I have, I have seen a lot.  I have seen good businesses and ideas fail as well as bad businesses succeed in what seems in spite of themselves. I don't believe in luck.  I think that it's math... Product + Attitude > Nothing

    Product + attitude must be greater than the reason to do nothing or to use another merchant, product, service...

    When I worked in software, I verified that the products worked according to requirements given by marketing or the client...  I worked with upper management, developers, artists.  These people often had hard personalities to work with.  It always came down to one thing though... What they produced needed to be better than how they behaved. So if Developer X made things that didn't work, and was a jerk... then, truly he exceeded his behavior allowance.  If Developer Y was an awesome guy, but his software didn't work, same thing, exceeded his behavior allowance.  Developer Z who made things that worked consistently with no issues, had a much bigger allowance - and maybe could be worst than Developer X in attitude.

    That said... I think it works in my business too, and especially in Social Networking...  Let's look at some sayings...
    • Laugh, and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone.
    • If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all
     No one wants to be with a "Debbie Downer".  If you write nasty things about other competitors, it will come back to haunt you.  If you complain about products, their competitors, or even partners may stray from your business.  There are things that make me livid with customers, distributors, and others I work with... but I am in customer service... it's just not appropriate to share it with the world... it will come back and bite me.

    So what is this Blog about? I personally think it's to dispell the myth that you need to spend thousands of dollars to get advice about Social Networking.  You can do this yourself, especially if you know how to run a sucessful business... you just need to learn to translate it for your business, and for your voice.

    I am going to invite some of my marketing friends to post to this, as well as small businesses to give their thoughts and suggestions.  Will I post every day?  Probably not :)  But hopefully this will be fun for those participating and informative for the passer by.

    Talk more soon :)