This summer my family cultivated a garden and supplied our house with fresh vegetables. I know this is so Old School, but I realized that this was also a lot of fun and taught my children that not only can it be done but they can do it. It was during this time that I would ponder just how much of what we do as a society relies on the use of technology. Now before you think this is going to be one of those Chicken Little “the sky is going to fall” posts let me assure you this is not. This is a political post.
I’m the guy that watches C-Span and reads postings from both sides of the isle, NPR, and yes I am guilty of even watching Glen Beck. So its no surprise to me that I would eventually come across an interesting discussion in Congress on Sept. 12th concerning, according to WND, the failure of DHS, Department of Homeland Security, to recognize that an EMP is “a serious national security threat to the nation’s grid system even though testimony revealed it could making living in the United States “unsustainable.” This caught my attention. My business and that of many other companies relies on this grid. It then went on to point out that “Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz, who is on the House Armed Services Committee, said that an EMP blast could disable “so large a swath of American technology that between 70 percent to 90 percent of the United States’ population could become unsustainable.”
Did I just read this correctly, technology damage equals dead people? That’s 314,602,260 (people) X 70% = 220,221,582 (insert hyperlink to my calculator) dead, if you read “unsustainable” as moot, on the low end. What technology has the ability to render 70-90% of our fellow Americans “unsustainable.” I wanted to know where I can find this technology and get rid of it from my life so my family, business, and friends have a fighting chance. Again not a Chicken Little post just a healthy reminder that little things matter and can affect a lot of people. Alright so back to my search for this elusive, insidious society ending technology. It turns out that this tech is not hackers from China or computer viruses from Iran. Oh no! its right in front of your house. Yup, you guessed it! Its that transformer on the telephone poll. You know the one that when a storm or car accident knocks it out the entire neighborhood goes dark. Life seems to be put on hold until the power comes back on. Wait a minute that can’t be it. We gotta have a bunch of those things lying around. Nope! Well we gotta have replacement parts available for this kind of thing. Nope again! Ok well this should be an isolated thing and can’t possibly affect that big of an area right? Triple Nope!
Back to politics and my rant. It seems to me that while we should be looking at advancements in renewable energy we should also be investing in keeping the current system safe. Now before anyone starts to panic take heart. The Federal Government under the Obama administration designated $3.4 Billion of the TARP funds for investment in getting this done, or the equivalent of 1% of the estimated cost of repair. That’s right the estimates for fixing this problem are $340-480 Billion. We gave a $90 Billion tax perk to energy companies to do their solar thing but, I am a business owner and I know that if you had said to me that “I can take that cut for fixing the grid because it helps everyone and its for the public good”, then I would do it and reap the benefits of a well structured PR campaign.
I am blown away by the fact that a simple thing like a transformer on the pole in front of my house has the potential for being a society ending event and we don’t really care to address it. I found all this out because it struck me when I was at a recent soccer game in my community buying 2 hotdogs ($1.50 ea) and a bottle of water ($1 ea) that the young lady serving me needed a calculator to figure the change for the $20 I gave her. The great civilization of Babylon was conquered because someone figured out that if you divert the river to the city you could slip in under its defenses. Simple and brilliant. Exploit the weakness and win the day. Maybe we shouldn’t forget the Old School ways. Oh and for my stoner friends, HEMP stands for High-altitude ElectroMagnetic Pulse. Sorry dudes I know this must be a real bummer.
In social media 1 year should be measured in dog years. With the ever changing landscape of ideas, reporting and new tools constantly popping up, it can make your head spin. I was reminded by a post today from Mike at PostRocket that we need to remember some of our guiding core philosophies. For me namely “never be married to your first idea or lesson”. So in a public display of humility I acknowledge and confess to being a supporter of the 1 poster mentality. I was wrong. My second core philosophy is kicking in now which is “when you make a mistake own it.” I just did. I highly recommend reading the post by Mike at PostRocket.
Recently I was visiting with an old school mate of mine Mike, owner of Mike’s Auto Body, in Lakeville NY. Mike shared with me that he has one of the most coveted trophy’s anyone can get when it comes to cars and car shows. He won “Best of Show” at the Syracuse all Ford Car Show (Mike couldn’t remember the year) in Syracuse NY, hosted by the Syracuse Shelby Mustang Club. I then asked him how much traction he was able to get from this win for his business. Long pause, add the crickets, and the answer finally arrived. What does that mean? Fair enough. So I talked with him about the ability of the internet to showcase his work and to help demonstrate his expertise. I went on to tell him how the advent of social media has created a space where the use of channels like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube and even blogs platforms like WordPress are the great equalizer for smaller businesses like his to compete with the larger brands. Mike’s response, ” I don’t even have a computer.” Ah so that’s it.
I have another friend who has a computer and a business but has never taken the plunge to work on his internet footprint, until recently. My friend Larry owns Larry’s Custom Meats in Hartwick NY. Like many small business owners who live in rural areas he really didn’t feel that the internet and specifically Social Media could impact his business, but something happened to change that for Larry. That’s when Liza de Guia, the blogging inspiration behind Food Curated, showed up and wanted to shoot some video of Larry doing his thing for a blog she was writing about CADE. Well to Larry’s surprise the video and blog series went viral. When asked about this he said, “My first thought was no big deal. who will see it.” Well a year later and what are the result? Larry has received emails from Australia, Equator, England, Spain, and several other South American countries. His slaughterhouse is only a short drive from Cooperstown NY, and the summer Baseball Hall of Fame tourists accounted for 50% of his retail business in 2011. “We sold stuff we never thought we would sell,” Larry commented when asked if he noticed any change in customer needs because of the Blog post. Larry went on to say that, “we did 611 pigs in 2011, and so far by the end of May 2012, we have done close to 765.” He closed by saying that there were even some Vegans and Vegetarians that commented that they appreciated the way he was handling the animals.
So what does this have to do with antique cars and social media. I am convinced that my friend Mike could learn a lesson from Larry. For those small business owners out there who are wondering,”How do I get a piece of this social media action,” well you could call me here at NuSvara and I’d be more than happy to help. Or you can find someone with a blog that has some significant mojo and see if they will write about you. I am confident that Larry will never be the same after the visit from Liza de Guia. Oh and BTW if you want Mike to work on your antique car with the hopes of having it win a trophy, then call him, because you won’t find him on the internet, at least he’s convinced he’s not there yet. Mike’s Auto Body 585-519-5400. Tell him you saw his story on a blog by his friend Sean Conboy. The series of pics below are worth sharing just in case you are still wondering whether Mike is that good. You can see the rest on our Flickr page.
So I traveled back to my home town, Livonia NY, recently and before I did I took the time to research places to eat. I was expecting the usual chain restaurants and some local establishments that have been around since I was a kid. While those places were easy to find, I was looking for something new, or a local establishment that had reinvented itself. You know the kind, new chairs, decor and of course fresh menu.
I was pleased to be greeted by a few options and so the next phase was deciding which one to satisfy my hunger. This is where the topic of this blog post comes in. I did what any Social media or computer/internet geek does, I started Googling and reading everything I could about the restaurants. What I found was almost the “Tale of Two Restaurants.” Both had websites and were using different Social Media platforms to get their message out. They both had people who said nice things about them. The menus had everything a foodie would want, you know land, sea, air and grass (that’s vegetarian for those of you who don’t know me).
The decision maker for me came down to their “About” page and mission statement. One page was engaging, friendly and gave a local feel the other, well I came away from it feeling like I had just been scolded for wanting something my way not theirs. I get it. They have their way of doing things, and I understand that its those things that make the unique offering that puts customers in the seats. However, the tone of the page and the attitude it was putting out to those of us who are not patrons, was not friendly at all. Now this doesn’t mean that this restaurant isn’t friendly. In fact it could be the friendliest place in town, but not on their web page. Granted this is my opinion, but isn’t that the point. At the end of the day my opinion and everyone else who needs to eat can be very influential for your business.
How did it cost them money do you ask? Well I obviously went to the perceived friendly restaurant. Not surprisingly it was really friendly and a great place to eat. It was so friendly even the customers were friendly. I didn’t even get into the building before a gentleman in the parking lot recommended I have a burger because of the locally raised beef used to make it. That is music to my ears. Local beef, yum. Granted the other restaurant only lost the small $15 I spent on lunch, 20% tip included. However what will be the upside to my visit. Oh the Black and Blue burger is every meat-atarians dream.
I immediately “Checked In” on Foursquare. When I sat down on the lakeside patio I was so struck by the view I took 2 pics with Instagram. Geo tagged them so everyone who follows me can get the location correct for their upcoming visit. I then made sure that my push notification settings were in place to send the pics to my Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. I know you are probably saying “didn’t I already mention Foursquare.” Yes I did but I wanted to leave more than just the nice comment i also wanted to leave some inspiring views for potential customers who might be trolling Foursquare looking for a new place. I followed it up with this blog. Oh, and lest I forget I also shared with my wife. So what was that worth?
Words say things about each of us. They convey attitude and give people a feel for who we are on this planet. Especially words on the internet, because they don’t have the benefit of being reinforced with a warm facial expression or friendly handshake. So when writing take this lesson to heart. Never write about yourself or your company when you are emotionally frustrated about the topic you are addressing. Save that for a blog rant like this one.
Oh in case you are wondering about the two restaurants, the winner was the North Shore Grill at 5870 Big Tree rd. Route 20a/15 Lakeville, NY 14480. Here is their phone number 585-346-2200 give them a call and tell them you heard good things about them. Oh heck here is their website “about page” maybe this will help. The winning words that got me hooked, “Come on down have a drink, sit by the lake and go on vacation for the day.” Come on is there anyone out there that doesn’t think that is appealing.
The losing restaurant. Well you can do what I did and figure it out for yourself.
So recently I made a trip to Chicago and had some free time between flights to catch up on some reading. While most blogs about social media, or if you like social business, can be mundane and feel like rehashed topics put together for SMO purposes, Geoffrey James post on April 13, 2012 was just plain refreshing. I like it when someone just calls it like they see it. Mr. James did just that. So I spent the rest of the flight cogitating on the assertion by Mr. James concerning the longevity of LinkedIn and whether or not it has staying power beyond Facebook. Here’s what I came up with from that process.
First, the reality is that multiple silos of any given brand rarely participate in the social media footprint of that brand. Granted larger brands are seeing an increase but this is not the norm. It has been my experience that brands are still struggling with who should be engaging, let lone on what platforms. However, this is not the case with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is being utilized by every facet of the company and on every level, from C-level to Sanitation Engineer. I believe this is because when they get to Linkedin it makes sense and therefore is not a threat.
Which brings me to my next point, which is that employees are already on LinkedIn before they even get to the front door of the company. Right before my flight I was guest lecturing at a private college in Upstate NY about optimizing your LinkedIn footprint for future employment. These students were working on their LinkedIn skills before even sending out resumes. In other words, today’s business person has already bought into the notion that LinkedIn is vital to their careers. I can’t say the same for Facebook. In fact most of these same students are being advised to clean up or delete their Facebook pages altogether because of the very open and revealing nature of the platform and the individuals failure to properly monitor their interaction. All it takes is one of your friends tagging you in a pic on Facebook the night before an interview and you are done.
Finally Geoffrey James states that, “LinkedIn’s beauty is that it’s dull but functional–like email and the telephone.” While I agree with this and consider it to be as strong as a garlic milkshake as a key ingredient to LinkedIn’s success, I believe the portability of the platform is even more significant. We live in a time of transitional careers. Gone are the days of generational commitment to any given brand. It is this reality of business that makes LinkedIn a long term player in the corporate social media world. The portability of insurance, 401K’s, and yes even LinkedIn are so common place that the staying power of LinkedIn is really not entirely dependent upon a brands engagement. I know plenty of people who have profiles and they can’t even connect to a company profile because it doesn’t exist and they don’t have the authority to create one.
There is no argument that Facebook is the 800 lbs. gorilla in the room. They cannot be ignored and current acquisitions clearly demonstrate they have no intention of going away. Nor do we want them to fail either. Im just saying if I had to place my money on just one platform, LinkedIn would be win, place, show.
One of the most perplexing realities of social media or social business, whichever you prefer, is the fear that brand advocates have concerning “what to say” to their audience. The migration that is currently taking place for some of the larger brands engaged in social media away from using platforms such as Facebook or Twitter for purely marketing purposes, and more towards complete customer interaction is refreshing. Yet, SMB’s are still trying to turn the corporate boat in this direction, and are struggling with having a conversation. It is this struggle that I wanted to address in the form of a poem, or better stated, a rewriting of one of my favorite poems dealing with small details and why they are important. The poem, “For Want of a Nail,” is a proverb dating back to the 14th century that really nails this issue.
For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
NuSvara is a firm believer in the old adage that if you know the “Why” the “How” will be come or be clear. In the case of SMB’s the “why” is long term relevance. Sure they might be doing ok now but eventually they will either come to the reality kicking and screaming or they will simply slowly die while their competitors consume their customer base. What excites me about the new Timeline from Facebook is the opportunity for brands to tell their story. I have yet to find anyone who has a challenge telling a story. Stories about milestones, set backs and how you recovered (ie. flood destroys your building), and the relationship with your current community. These are the stories people want to hear. These stories can come in many forms like video, photos, or just commenting on local articles, just to name a few. I am sure there are as many ways and things to talk about as there are stars in the sky. The key is to understand “why.” With that in mind I wrote my version of this proverb that goes like this. I hope you like it.
For Want of a Post
For want of a post the conversation was lost.
For want of a conversation the opportunity was lost.
For want of an opportunity the customer was lost.
For want of a customer the revenue was lost.
For want of the revenue the business was lost.
And all for the want of a Facebook post.