Monday, July 22, 2013

Fast Company Validates "Made in the USA" Trend

Back in March, we predicted that an ongoing story would be "Made in the USA":
Made in the USA: bringing back manufacturing jobs to the US. As costs in India, China, Russia and Brazil increase, expect that the benefits out offshore outsourcing may decline enough to make it more attractive to bring some manufacturing back home. Look for stories about small manufacturers whose business is growing as a result.
The July/August issue of Fast Company featured a compelling story, "The Road To Resilience: How Unscientific Innovation Saved Marlin Steel;A little maker of metal baskets shows how U.S. manufacturers can thrive against all comers." It's a fascinating look at a company that manufactured bagel display wire baskets turned itself into a high performance wire basket company that supplies Boeing, Toyota, and other customers with stringent needs.

 There have been other articles about manufacturing coming back to the U.S.; let us know if there are others you thought were as compelling.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fast Company Cover Story on How to Unlug Validates Our Prediction from 2012

Back in 2012, we said:
The desire to be connected 24/7 may change in 2012. You almost never have downtime anymore, and people are beginning to notice that’s not all good.  Sure, if you are waiting in line at the post office or bank (something today’s kindergarteners won’t do by the time they hit college), you’ll be able to check email, play an app, text your friend, or make a call. But this lack of downtime may negatively impact our ability to concentrate and avoid distractions at work and at home. The recognition that we actually need to disconnect, that we need downtime, is likely to generate coverage this year. Already a handful of companies have limited email, both during the day and after hours – and we think more will join those ranks. We also think the concept of going on vacation without access to email or cell will become more of a status symbol because it now takes a lot of money to disconnect yourself from your regular workday.
The current Fast Company cover story validates our prediction: #Unplug: Baratunde Thurston Left The Internet For 25 Days, And You Should, Too; I have left the Internet. I’m on vacation. That means no social media updates, responses, check-ins, likes, taps, pokes, noogies, tickles, or head locks. I’m going to practice looking people in the eye and not checking my email or . . .

Check it out -- there are some good tips for unplugging/disconnecting.

Guess we were ahead of the curve on that one!

Let us know if you have unplugged (clearly that would be after the unplugged experience.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another 2 Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid with Social Media

Last week, I posted 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid with Social Media. In conducting research on a client matter, I came across a 6th mistake.

And this is an important one, given summer-time internships.
  • Don't let an intern handle your social media unsupervised. According to CIO magazine article, "Stupid User Tricks 7: True tales of extreme brain fail," a company allowed its summer intern have unsupervised access to the account and to the password. While the student worked at the company, he did not post anything inappropriate. But he did access the corporate Twitter account from his personal laptop at school. After he left, he (or his college roommate) continued to use his laptop to access and post to the company's Twitter account, this time with expletives.  The lesson: keep careful track of access and passwords to your social media account.
  • Don't let staff leave before they provide all the usernames and passwords to corporate social media accounts. We've seen this happen just once before making sure we always ask in future situations.  Any marketing executive handling corporate social media accounts should make sure there are others within the company who have all the usernames and passwords in one place.  That way, in case something happens during a vacation or if the main social media person leaves, the company continues to control access to its social media assets. By the way, this can take some amount of follow-through. When a senior marketing executive recently left a client, we asked for all the social media information, including blog passwords, etc. He handed off everything -- or so we thought, except he (legitimately forgot the administrator's info for the company's LinkedIn page. We found this out while the former exec was on vacation between jobs, and was unreachable. It was possible for the company to work directly with LinkedIn to reset administrator access but it took up more of our time and more of the senior exec's boss' time than it needed to.  Lesson learned.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Five Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid with Social Media

Recently, a reporter asked for three tips small- and mid-sized businesses should avoid when using social media. Here are five suggestions of what to avoid:
  • Don’t have a call-to-action in every post, Tweet, blog, or interaction. Social media is about helping customers and potential customers. Unlike in sales, the goal is not ABC (always be closing). It’s about always being helpful (ABH), a less-compelling or memorable acronym). Businesses can turn off those they’re always trying to close a deal via social media. Instead, make sure you’re addressing the needs of your customers and potential customers. Another good idea is to mix it up a bit, and occasionally post/discuss some topics that are not related to your business.
  • Don’t expect social media to generate results faster than traditional media. Everyone hopes for a viral hit but they really are rare occurrences.  Instead, social media takes time – time to establish a voice and a point of view, time to establish credibility and a following, and time to establish which metrics make the most sense to track for your business. Instead, small businesses need to be patient as they nurture and engage with their communities.
  • Don’t think that all social media is the same. Facebook operates differently from Twitter, which operates differently from LinkedIn, which operates differently from Google+, Pinterest or Instagram. There are similarities, to be sure, and it’s possible to post the same content across most of each social media site (for Pinterest and Instagram, you need visual content). But each social media site is like a different country, with different cultures and expectations – and just as you would localize your content when marketing to customers in England or Germany, you need to localize what you do for Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Don't forget that people other than close friends or customers are reading your tweets. Be careful of inside jokes or references that can be taken out of context. Keep in mind that your circle of friends may understand your jokes but they may not translate well on someone's Facebook wall.  Instead, make sure to write for people who don't necessarily know you. And before you hit post or publish, ask yourself, would I want this same comment to appear in the New York Times or Wall St. Journal? If not, don't publish it.
  • Be careful in responding to perceived negative statements about your company or something related to your company. In some cases, the reaction to a customer's tweet has become the story.T here are some statements that are best left alone, otherwise you ignite the "Streisand effect," defined by Wikipedia as "a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized. 
I know there are more -- let me know what social media mistakes business owners should avoid.