Is Your Small Business on Track to Reach Its Goals?

Not only is today the first day of the work week and the first day of July, but more significantly, it’s also the first day of the second half of the year. This is a great time to take stock of where you are in your annual business goals. Are you half way to earning your projected 2012 income? If not, what can you do to increase your odds of getting there?

You can still make your numbers. Just do the math. Subtract your sales for the first half of the year from your goal and divide by 6. This will give you the amount you need to bring in each month to still make your target. Better yet, divide by 26; this will give you your new weekly earnings goal to keep you in line with your projected year-end income.

July 1 is also a good time to reassess your goals for the year and check your progress. If you’ve gone off track there’s still time to correct your path. Have you forgotten some of the items on your 2012 To-Do list? Have some things fallen between the cracks? Is there something on your list that is no longer feasible? Adjusting your plan for the year at the halfway point is much better than scrambling at the end of the year when holiday chaos is added to the mix. Remember, the key to getting a bull’s-eye is to keep your eye on the target.Image

Erroneous Facebook Privacy Warning

By now, many of you have probably seen the “PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning” that urges you to post a privacy statement to protect your personal content on Facebook. It states “Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site…If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly a……allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.” The predesigned Privacy Notice that readers are urged to post ends with “The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE”

There are so many things wrong with this warning but I’ll point out just the two most relevant. First, being a publicly traded company has absolutely NO bearing on the issue of privacy. Whoever started this rumor apparently needs a lesson in stocks and public trading. Secondly, the UCC has no jurisdiction over privacy issues of any kind, especially those in social media forums. This is just another of those warnings that spread unnecessary fear like wildfire through draught stricken woodlands.

Of course you still want to use your head when it comes to sharing information in such a public forum. I know you’ve heard it before but, if you want something kept private don’t post it on Facebook. The general rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t put it on a billboard or shout it in a crowded room, don’t post it to any of your social media channels.

When in doubt about the validity of viral warnings of any kind, it’s easy to check it out online. My favorite resource is snopes.com.

Facebook Apps: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Debbie Bolduc, BizBuzz Marketing Partners

February 4, 2012

I generally stick to business tips here, but considering every FB business Page must be connected to a FB personal Profile, I feel this is relevant. I frequently see interesting apps used by my Friends. I admit to giving in to temptation occasionally, sometimes against my better judgment. Did you know these apps require you to allow the developers to access and use your private information? Some even default to an agreement that allows the app to post as you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want ANYONE posting as me except for me!

Today I caved, drawn in by an app that creates a beautiful collage, supposedly of your best friends. They do this by pulling the profile photos of the people you interact with, emphasizing them according to frequency. In order to have the privilege of them to do this for you, you must first agree to allow access to your personal information (friends list, activity, etc). This isn’t unusual for apps.  It’s up to you to decide what level of privacy (or lack thereof) is comfortable for you.

Keep in mind, the more apps you allow to have access to your personal information, the better the chances of your account being hacked. Because of this, it’s important to occasionally check your apps list, deleting those you no longer use. For those you do use, you may want to edit the settings on those permissions that are optional.

How to check your app settings:

Go to the banner that runs across the top of your Newsfeed and/or Wall (Timeline) and look for the word Home. Next to it is a downward pointing arrow. Click on it, then click on Privacy Settings. Now click on Apps and Websites, then Edit Settings. You’ll notice four categories. The first one is Apps You Use. Click on the word Edit at the right of it. This will open a list of all the apps you’ve allowed to access your personal information.

To find out what you’ve allowed them to do, click the word Edit to the right of any app. You might be surprised at what you find there. One app I use regularly had been given permission to post as me. I’ve used it for well over a year and had no issues with that, however for the sake of my own protection I opted to remove that permission as it wasn’t one that was required.

Facebook is a fun way to stay connected and a wonderful business marketing tool but I always encourage caution when it comes to matters of privacy. Always think twice before you click Allow Permission. Read the terms you are agreeing to and make an informed decision.


Keeping the Social in Social Media

According to Avi Savaar, founder and CCO of Big Fuel, it’s less about “big idea generation” and more about genuine sharing with your audience, knowing what they are really interested in and care about.  While being interviewed by Creative Talk Live at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2011 in California, Savaar suggested users think of Social Media as a giant cocktail party with varied conversations going on…new parents are talking about sleepless nights, diehard sports fans are trying to predict which teams will make the playoffs….if you walk in and start peddling your products, they won’t be as likely to let you into the conversation.

You need to engage on their level on topics they know and care about, sharing helpful information that addresses their concerns and interests in order for them to accept you into their circle. According to Savaar,”It’s LESS about us broadcasting our products and services and MORE about getting OTHERS to talk about them”. Doing so encourages engagement metrics like word of mouth and a positive reputation. In the world of social media these metrics take the form of comments, shares and recommendations to name a few (see this article for a list and explanation of 10 Key Engagement Metrics, http://www.radian6.com/blog/2010/03/10-key-engagement-metrics-to-track/ ).

When posting to your social media channels, keep this very simple rule of thumb in mind…It’s not all about you!

Read the rest of this entry

Facebook Video Calling and Group Chat Now Available

Over 50,000 people waited with anticipation today for a live Facebook video of a promised “big announcement” by Mark Zuckerberg. Despite the delayed start time, viewers were not disappointed by the news.

Noting that over half of all Facebook users have embraced the use of Groups, Zuckerberg pointed out the value of also being able to Chat in Groups. From individuals making weekend plans to groups tossing ideas around, this new product has some merit.

Zuckerberg was joined by Skype CEO Tony Bates stating that over 300 minutes a month of video are currently shared by individuals such as grandparents to talk to their grandchildren living in distant locations and military families staying in touch with their loved ones serving overseas. To this end he announced a new partnership between Skype and Facebook that will allow video chats from within the Facebook account of individuals. The best part? It’s free and takes only two minutes for the initial set up!!! (Go to  https://www.facebook.com/videocalling to get started). The downside at this time is that it will not work on iPhones, iPads and several other techy devices.

Reporters questioned why the two parties didn’t take it one step further and create the option for group video via Facebook. While Zuckerberg appeared offensive and awkward in response to the inquiry, Bates simply pointed out that today’s announcements were just the beginning in what the two can and most likely do together in the years to come.

A third announcement regarding yet another in what seems like a constant stream of new page design features was overshadowed and virtually ignored except to explain that it will only be visible on wider screens thus not all technology will benefit from it at this time.

Many noted that these features are not new, Google has employed them for some time, they are however new to Facebook and its users.

Personal Connections as a Social Influencing Tool

By Debbie Bolduc of BizBuzz Marketing Partners

According to Alan Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc., the single most important driver of influence is connections. This is equally true of social media and physical networking. You have the most influence in relationships you have built and nurtured BEFORE you actually need them. Someone that feels a connection to you, built over time, will be much more likely to help you out, listen to your request or take you seriously than someone whom you’ve just introduced yourself to. The latter may feel you did so JUST to get something from them.

This is why it’s so important to network well and often. I personally attend all Business After Hours events for the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and a number of Women Inspiring Women events. I do not go to these with a goal toward making a sale or influencing a prospective client. As a self proclaimed extrovert, I attend because I genuinely like people. But while enjoying the social aspect I interact on a personal level and build sincere relationships. I never know which of these relationships will turn into something very beneficial but can attest to the fact that such has been the case a number of times.

When I find someone who appears new to these events I’m quick to take them under my wing and introduce them around to those I know. While I do this out of a simple desire to make others feel welcome and comfortable, those I introduce them to are appreciative that I’ve brought them someone new to possibly do business with. The new party is thankful for the introduction as well and in the end both see me as someone with a desire to be friendly and helpful.

I’m always amazed at the number of people who arrive at a networking event with an old friend, sit with that friend and leave with that friend. For them the value of the event has been lost. It was merely a drink with an old pal. I encourage people not to attend these events with a friend. Or if you feel more comfortable arriving with someone you know, be sure to split up and meet different people. If you must sit at the same table, at least sit apart from one another to avoid the inevitable personal chit chat. Save that for another time or go out with them for a drink after the event ends. There you could compare notes on whom you met and what you learned. Remember, it’s important to send a quick email or note to those you met throughout the night…something simple like “I enjoyed meeting you, your shop sounds wonderful and I hope to visit soon”. This isn’t a sales pitch, but the second step in relationship building. The connection you make may one day prove to be the most important one of you business career.

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