Archive for the 'twitter' Category

Death of the Handshake?

handshakeWant to know my mom’s advice on avoiding H1N1 and other sicknesses? Refuse to shake someone’s hand (or at the very least, disinfect right after). Try as I might, I simply can’t get her to understand why this might not be appropriate and may even be offensive in a business setting where we are expected to shake hands with clients, candidates and associates on a daily basis.

But it got me thinking…what if the impending H1N1 pandemic really is the death of the handshake as we know it. How will people greet each other when introduced – A wave? A wink? A thumbs up? A fist pump?  Maybe it will be common to hear people say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, but I’m now abstaining from shaking hands.”

Or perhaps nothing will need to be said at all. Maybe items like these from  IAFTAHA (the International Association for the Acceptance of Handshake Alternatives – whose mission is to “promote the acceptance of salutations sans shake”) will do  the talking for us.

All jokes aside, the inquisitive market researcher in me really wants to test it out first-hand (pun intended) and see how people react if I break the shake, but the professional in me never will. So, I turned to the most authoritative sources out there in my quest to seek an answer – twitter and facebook. I created a poll and asked my friends and followers to answer. Check out the results – they might surprise you (you can vote HERE):


I’d personally be happy if someone said, “I’m battling a cold, so I won’t shake your hand.” And if I was the sick one, I’d provide the same courtesy.

Whether the handshake really will decline thanks to fears of catching H1N1 and the seasonal flu remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’ll keep my Purell handy.

Posted by Melissa Coyle

Do you agree with the poll results? Leave a comment and let me know!


DEMOfall09: Six Picks

The other day I blogged about some of the really passionate entrepreneurs I met at DEMOfall09 and I referenced the products that caught my eye. While I did not get to dig into all 70 or so companies while I was there, here are a few that I found worth noting:

Waze – This is a way cool, and I think much-needed, application that brings real-time traffic intelligence/information to the masses via the masses (crowd sourcing). The app works on GPS-enabled Smartphones and sends back GPS points as you drive.  The idea is that through the Waze community, traffic, road changes and other information is collected automatically and anonymously. Drivers can also take a more active role by reporting on new situations from their mobile device.   I need this for my suddenly hellish morning commutes and can’t wait to find out when it will work on my Windows Smartphone (they’ve promised Symbian and Win support as of this week). It also supports iPhone and Android.

WhoDoYouKnowAt, LLC – Think of this enterprise app as LinkedIn on Steroids or perhaps more aptly, LinkedIn With Security Layer.  It is a free and private (note: NOT social networking) networking application that allows you to leverage relationships for personal, business or civic gain in a confidential and tiered manner. CEO Lee Blaylock is a guy I’d bet on or want with me in a foxhole.  He developed the application after years working at Oracle, and I think he’s onto something. After all, how many introductions have you ever made or been asked to make via LinkedIn? What makes this app different is a “Levels of Trust” system that allows your online relationships to more accurately reflect those in the real world. With each connection, you can set their “Level of Trust” to reflect your real-life relationship. For example, when sharing a contact’s information with certain contacts, you can choose to remain anonymous. With your more trusted relationships, however, you can choose to share all of your network information.

Traackr – This is a Web 2.0 application for brand marketers, PR and marketing firms and in-house communications professionals. It allows users to harness the gold mine of information in social networks, blogs and Twitter. The application is called “A-list” or “Authority List,” and it helps you identify the people with the most clout so that you can target and track them. The company claims it can provide you a list of the most influential people online for any given subject as measured by the three “Rs” – reach, relevance and resonance. I plan to check it out in more detail soon.

MoLo Rewards, Inc. – This company has developed a wireless coupon application that allows users – via a cell phone – to scan items at the point of sale to instantly redeem coupons or loyalty rewards using either Near Field Communication (NFC) or RFID. MoLo Rewards also will allow consumers to link and join participating retail loyalty programs and earn points for every purchase by simply waving their cell phone in front of the cash register at the time of purchase.  These guys need to lock up some of the top pharmacy chains and then try to tackle the grocery giants. If they succeed, the coupon book goes the way of the daily paper or weekly shopper. CEO Robert Sprogis brought his “A” game to the DEMO stage, which further impressed me.


Enthusem – Can direct mail make a comeback? Enthusem is betting it can with a little Web 2.0 assistance. The company has set up an elegant approach to sending very high quality, personalized post cards through an online greeting card site that lets users send personal printed greeting cards that include a URL and a pickup code, which the recipient can type in online to see a custom video, read an extended note, or listen to an mp3 that you uploaded. This is CEO Steve Tingiris’ third company and maybe it will be the charm.

POWR – Believe it or not, these guys are bringing a new hardware solution to market. POWR (Point of Wealth Register) is a kiosk with an ATM-like interface that helps “unbanked” or hourly employees like bartenders, waiters, blackjack dealers, etc. make fast and easy deposits to personal accounts (think 401K or 529)or to make money transfers, pay bills, etc. These guys had a lot of spunk. CEO Doug Lindstrom is a veteran bartender so you know what his “light bulb” moment for his company must have been – many a morning waking up wondering where all of his tips went.  If POWR doesn’t end up getting bought by CoinStar or Western Union, I think they just might succeed on their own.

DotSyntax’s Digsby – If you have not tried it out (I have been using it for about a year), Digsby is an easy-to-use desktop application that helps people save time by managing their IM, email and social network accounts all from one location. DotSyntax unveiled the latest version of its social-media management tool at DEMO, and the new version is geared specifically towards helping solve the Twitter clutter and chaos problem. One of the key new features is a reversal from the Twitter client standard, in which tweet streams are displayed newest first. Digsby shows the oldest first with the logic being that it is easier to read threads from the beginning. I am not sure I agree, and I have yet to check out the new features yet. That’s what weekends are for …

— Posted by Tim Hurley

Too Much “Me” in Social MEdia?

I tuned in to today’s HubSpot webcast on How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation. I fancy myself a bit of a HubSpot groupie – they do some really cool things (HubSpot TV, cartoons, etc) and manage to keep it “real” and have fun while doing them.

Well, let’s just say that webcasts clearly aren’t their strong-suit. Aside from major audio, video and slide issues, I was hoping for a good example of how a real company has managed the “social media led-gen funnel” from start to finish. Instead, I got 45 minutes of HubSpot commercials and maybe 15 minutes of valuable takeaways. I do want to give the presenter props – you could tell he was nervous and it can’t be easy reading your “critweets” while trying to present.

At any rate, once I got passed tech issues and zoned out the self-promotion, there were a couple good points on why social media can be an integral part of driving traffic to your site. Some points to ponder:

  • In the “old days”, traffic was generated purely by search. Now, social media should be on the same par of search in terms of driving traffic to your site. But the same challenges exist. Sure, social media might drive traffic, but how to you make sure it’s the right kind of traffic?
  • His advice on how to start? Listen (twitter/blog searches), follow the conversation, participate in the conversation, build a network, distribute your content and then hope it gets shared.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Blog, do podcasts, try video, publish photos – you can share all these things on social networks like facebook and twitter to help drive traffic back to your site (and increase search rankings).
  • How do you convert a website visitor to a lead? With a good call to action and an effective landing page. He nailed it when he said, “Don’t write about your products; address the customers’ needs.”
  • When it comes to measuring, don’t just track site traffic/referrals. Track the whole funnel PLUS conversion rates to know if the campaigns are truly successful.

Other pearls of wisdom (from HubSpot and twitterers):

  • “Social Media – just like going 2 a cocktail party – meet people, balance info you share & want to learn from people, and build trust!”
  • “Write about the needs of the target market not your product. If @zappos tweeted about shoes would we follow? Probably not.”
  • “It’s not possible to succeed in social media without a continuous stream of relevant content.”

HubSpot made some interesting points about using social media as a traffic-generator and how to convert that traffic into leads. And I agree that most companies engaged in social media are putting too much “me” into it. Meaning, just because you have hundreds of followers, not a single one of them is going to care or listen to you unless what you’re saying is relevant to them and not overtly salesy.

Though not without issues, I think today’s webcast was actually a good example of the point HubSpot was trying to make. Certainly people tune into a webcast hoping to learn something (and not be “pitched” a product). That said, the whole idea is to get people talking and paying attention to your brand. The twittersphere may have been complaining and bashing the webcast throughout the entire session (#hubspot), but show me another webcast that’s generated 2500+ live views and so much conversation on twitter (it made it to #5 trending topic)! I bet today’s webcast increased HubSpot’s site traffic at least two-fold, and no doubt some of those will convert to leads, and ultimately sales. Which – after all – is the whole point, isn’t it folks?

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Corporate Uses of Social Media

While some companies are still trying to figure out how to involve their brand or company in the social media landscape, others have a large amount of resources dedicated solely to this vehicle. One such company, Southwest Airlines, is using Twitter to alert travelers of flight delays and last minute availability on flights.

Not only are corporations using social media tools to promote their brand and events and stay top of mind, but many are also using it as a means of managing customer service. Companies such as Zappos, Comcast and HR Block cite scalability and ease of management as huge advantages for using this medium ( Using one porthole keeps customer complaints under control – they can be responded to quickly and directly, and companies can even mitigate complaints by communication with consumers proactively.

Companies that use social media platforms as part of their customer service efforts often don’t sit back and wait to be directly contacted. They use alerts to monitor conversations surrounding their brand, and often will respond to negative comments through customer service identities in an attempt to keep customers happy.  Some companies, such as Trip Advisor , do this by posting responses to negative customer reviews, while other companies are using services such as Dialogix to monitor social media conversation and sediment and aggregate the information to keep track of key influencers.

While many larger companies have seemed to “master” the use of social media, others are still left wondering how they can leverage this growing medium.  The recent Permission TV video seminar on “Building an Audience in the Digital Age” and Scott Kirsner’s recent book, “Fans, Friends & Followers” provide a few great tips to bear in mind:

  • You don’t have to leverage every social media vehicle; find one that helps you best connect with your audience.
  • Build a presence and use it to engage followers, customers, etc. with special promotions – and don’t forget to ask for feedback.
  • Find the right voice for your social media efforts; a passionate employee is best in this role, not necessarily the most senior.
  • Keep it up! Starting to use a social media site and then dropping the ball does nothing for brand image.

Good luck in your social media involvement and branding efforts, and until next time, keep tweeting!

— Posted by Danielle Millerick

60 seconds or less…

A new weekly feature breaking down technology, b2b and general marketing news for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • Twitter has rolled out a new update to its website that includes real-time search, trending topics and a slightly improved user interface. Will Twitter 2.0 be less buggy than the original? Magic 8 Ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.”  
  • According to a recent study, personality may be a more effective prediction tool for media usage than demographics. For instance, sarcastic folks who balk at rules are 60% more likely to be high consumers of media. Can’t wait to see those direct mail/email lists – “Sarcasm & Rule Breaker List, $425 CPM”.
  • Hot or not? Forecasts for mobile ad growth have been reduced, thanks to the current economic climate. But it’s still one of the faster growing ad segments, expected to grow 36% year over year.
  • A slew of recent surveys indicate that the slump’s not as bad as we might think in the tech sector. Among the data, Mass High Tech says 44% off the nearly 700 New England tech companies surveyed  have no plans for staffing changes (up from 35.4% in Q4).
  • First, TheFunded shook up the VC world with its blatantly honest reviews of firms. Now it’s changing the model for start-up incubators with TheFunded Founder Institute, free from on-site meetings and alternative stock compensation plans.
  • Looks like we’re safe, at least for one more Sunday. Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the Boston Globe union was so unwilling to compromise on the lifetime job guarantee issue? Talk about an antiquated mentality.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

About those resolutions…

As we dive right into another year, I’ll be doing my best to keep my 2009 resolutions. These fall into two categories – personal resolutions (less salt! better posture!) and professional resolutions (blog more!).

With the latter in mind, I finally jumped on the twitter bandwagon. I honestly didn’t think it was going to be worth my while or something I’d enjoy, much less be active in. I had brushed it aside as yet one more thing I’d need to keep up with in my busy life. But, I can admit when I’m wrong! I lost my twitter virginity a week ago, and I’m totally hooked.

I can follow all the bloggers and reporters that I try to read each day, but much more efficiently. I can make new connections. I can share interesting news. I can see what other marketers are trying out. But what I like best so far is the instant feedback I can get from peers.

Case in point…I recently tweeted “what’s going to be the BIG thing for B2B marketers in 2009?” and within a few moments I had some great thoughts back from fellow tweeters (or is it twitterers?):

  • @ardath421: content publishing for increased engagement in 2009
  • @smersy_genius: Sales 2.0 gains more traction and B2B Marketers learn to directly increase sales productivity.
  • @joemktg: Toss-up between PURLs for all communications, and optimizing landing pages and web sites to squeeze every bit of $$ from clicks
  • @stevewoods: my vote is for lead scoring and closer alignment with sales. In a resource constrained environment, marketing for results wins

Have something to add? Follow me at @MelissaBP and let me know. Happy New Year, and hope to “tweet” you soon!

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Listening in on Social Media

This weekend Neville Hobson (@jangles) posted a great interview with Scott Monty (@scottmonty), Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager at Ford. Among other things at Ford, Scott champions creative uses of social media. Most recently this last week he used twitter as a crisis management tool, to help keep folks up to date as he dealt with a misunderstanding that was being propagated across the internet. Now much of his success in this effort was due to the network Scott has built on twitter, it’s almost 6000 strong. Notice I say network, not following. Scott, in my opinion, is using twitter the “smart” way. He’s building relationships. He’s interacting on a daily basis with colleagues, with clients, with media. He, like me, manages multiple corporate twitter accounts as well, which are used for other purposes such as customer support, or b2b marketing. In this capacity though, he is also building relationships.

As the resident social media guru at BluePoint, clients often ask me for advice on social media strategy. The question I am asked most frequently is, “How do we chose between all the social media tools and groups out there? Why would we chose to be on twitter, versus facebook or linked in? We can’t do it all!”. My response is:

You know your audience. Where do you think they hang out?

Marketing and PR may have changed a lot in the last 10 years, but one thing remains the same. You need to reach your audience. In the age of social media, I would argue that this is becoming easier, not harder. Instead of just sending out direct mail or e-mail and waiting for a response, you can get online and find your customers. You can listen in on their conversations, or grievances. You can speak to them directly.

So as 2009 rolls around, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the multitude of options out there. You know your audience. Take a look at the communities that you think might appeal most to them. Then join a select few, and LISTEN. (I have my friend Kyle Flaherty to thank for this piece of invaluable advice) Don’t worry about broadcasting a message or making yourself known right out of the gate. You will learn a lot if you just listen. You may learn that your customers don’t hang out on twitter. You might be surprised to see them already talking to each other on a Facebook group. You may even have the enjoyable experience that I had over the weekend of meeting a new colleague, while listening in on twitter!

— Posted by Liz Moise

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