The Power of Story

July 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Search

Last night I was at Bartell Drug’s looking for bleach to clean my deck.  There was a lot of grunge and grind out there and I needed something strong.  As I walked in I noticed “Seventh Generation:  free & clear” Chlorine Free Bleach.  This particular bottle of bleach read “non-toxic * hypo-allergenic * degradable” – furthermore it pronounced, ever so humbly in the top right hand corner:  “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. – From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy” Read more

Photos, Photos, Photos…

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Photos & Video

Photos are a great way to show your business off at various angles:  the business, the people, the food, the product, the location, and again, the people!  Very few local and small businesses focus on getting photos up in as many places as possible.  Here is why you should:

1.  Tagging – searchability

2.  Access – people get a look and ‘feel’ for your product and business

3.  Personality – viewers get a sense of what you are about

4.  Interaction – there are plenty of sites where people can post comments regarding your photos.

5.  People want to see your products.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, and if done right, a lot more than that in marketing dollars if done right.

Where to post?

1.  Flickr

2.  Facebook

3.  Picasa

4.  Yahoo, Google and MSN local profiles

5.  Your own blog (Posterous, Tumblr, Word Press, Blogger)

If you don’t have photos, spend a few hundred (suggestion:  up to $500) for a professional to take a hundred + shots, or / and have your ‘crew’ and yourself bring in personal digital cameras and take as many photos as possible.

It’s very much worth it and very much under utilized in the small, local business space.

Work it!

The enclosed article from the San Francisco Chronicle reveals the danger of schilling on Yelp!  Yelp, in order to create the impression that their reviewers and reviews are legitimate (both a very real concern and a PR move) are removing entire accounts associated with what they deem ‘fake’ reviews:  reviews written to artificially inflate the public record and discourse on the business of record.

The comments section in this article is more interesting and pertinent than the actual article itself.  It provides insight into the public impression of Yelp and it’s users.

So what do you do as someone who owns or operates a retail business or is involved in “social media”?  Does one get better and more ‘sneaky’ and ‘authentic sounding’ when it comes to writing reviews for your friends or family, or your own business on Yelp or City Search?

The question misses the point entirely as I see it.  The way  to create a great reputation online is to be open, sincere and relevant.  Rather than “game” the system, “work” the system.  Engage users.  Write them back.  Respond.  Get involved in the discussions on Yelp as the business owner you are.  Use the tools available to you on Yelp.  Very few business owners do this for many good reasons, namely time and inclination.  Who has time to do this?   But at the end of the day, spending just 5 minutes a day not on your profile, but on your competitors profiles, on the “Talk” section of Yelp, in the “Events” section of Yelp, etc…the more time you spend on Yelp / online and get to know your customers there, the better you’ll do.

Participation Premium – The Golden Rule of Social Media

Robert Scoble, Shell Israel, Michael Arrington – figure heads in “social media” – have recently been referring to a premise that is just as important for businesses online as is it for individuals:  the more you participate the more successful you’ll become.

Sound familiar?  Give and you shall receive!  Listen and you shall learn.  We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much.  Do unto others as you would have them read and comment on your blog or website…

You’re a business who is jumping in online.  “What do I do?” you ask.  The most important first step, along with defining your goals and online identity, is to listen twice as much as you ‘participate’ and participate 10x’s more than you are now.

Find out the top 10, 50 or 100 bloggers in your field.  Read them consistently and multiple times a week, if not daily.  Read the sports section less or stay up 10 minutes longer and read what people are saying in and around your industry and business.  Visit websites associated with your products or service.  Read reviews first, read them again, think about it, absorb it…and then respond.  Read comments, watch videos, listen to podcasts.  Become an expert in what people are talking about in your field, and than start communicating, posting and interacting.

The more you get involved – the more you participate in responding, posting, interacting, and being a part of the dialogue online – the more it will pay dividends in terms of creating connection, loyalty, understanding and a swell of presence that was never there before