Social Media

Devon McDonald of OpenView Partners recently wrote a blog post on Scrum Agile Marketing in which she discussed Minimum Viable Marketing. It got me thinking about my clients’ prospects and customers, and it lead me to the following theory, which I am now testing, using a more agile approach:

  1. Prospects don’t want to be sold or marketed to, but most want to be educated.
  2. They’re not looking to get a degree. They just want an answer to a question.
  3. They don’t want to plow through long documents, so the answer has to be easily found.
  4. If they have another question, they want that answered, too.
  5. They are constantly dealing with others’ objections, so new-found knowledge has to be easily shared.

That lead me to create a series of one-minute videos, each designed to answer one question or cover one topic very succinctly. I’ve chosen as a topic, information technology in remote and branch offices. The series is called Branch Office Tech Tips. I’ve posted eight so far, but expect new content frequently, and don’t be surprised if some content is replaced. This is Agile.

As part of this experiment, I’ve hosted the videos on Wistia, because Wistia gives great insight into how many people watch, for how long, and when they stop watching. But seriously, if I can’t keep someone engaged for 60 seconds, then I need to go back to the content for a do-over.

I’ve added another page on this blog, specifically dedicated to Branch Office Tech Tips (BOTT). I’m also going to start making better use of IFTTT. Blog updates will automatically be posted to LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms. At least that’s my plan. We’ll see what works.

I do remember enough of my college statistics courses to know that using Twitter to evaluate trends and attitudes introduces significant sampling and reporting bias.   Still, ignoring the obvious data quality issues, I do enjoy reading through my TwitterFall feed every week. Because of my interest in application availability requirements, which drives the business of StorMagic, on whose board I serve as an independent director, I typically set the search terms to “computers” and “down,” but when “She shuts it down like computers” is trending, I’ll switch to searching on “computers” and “free.”

This is just a sampling of the “computers” and “free” tweets I saw this week. Apparently, for the patrons of some quick-serve restaurants, when computers go down, #lifeisgood.


AbbeyVoss just got a free coffee and biscuit at Caribou cause their computers are down #lifeisgood

lilseannn Public Service Announcement : Taco Bells computers are down; free TB!

r0danthony Computers shut down in the cafeteria. Your boy got a free meal. Lololol.


I’ve noticed over the course of the past two years, that Starbucks typically offers up free food and coffee when the computers go down, as captured in this tweet last week.

‏@NDarnell96  Getting free Starbucks cause their computers froze


My guess is that Starbucks gives away coffee when the computers go down, because it’s cheap marketing, and they assume the cost of delivering high-availability applications is too high. Coffee brewers basically turn water to gold, anyway. And if you’ve got as many gold buyers as Starbucks, what’s wrong with an occasional free giveaway when customers are willing to provide free advertising? I’ve never been able to verify this, so if anyone can validate the assumption, please let me know. If that’s the approach, at Starbucks, I get it. But it appears someone wasn’t on the program last week, as I also saw this tweet:

@Spencer_Westley@Starbucks‘ computers are down and WHAT IS LIFE?


This “give it away when the computers are down” approach works fine at quick-serve restaurants, when you only need computers to take payments, but it gets much more challenging if you need the computers to get the orders from the front counter to the kitchen, to apply loyalty credits, to recall the frequently ordered items on the automated order entry system, to actually make the food, to know when to plate the food, or when you take orders over the web, but fulfill them in the restaurant. These days, companies drive efficiency from automated operations and new revenue sources from processes that are dependent upon computers.  They also are driving the perception of customer intimacy by knowing more about their customers’ likes, dislikes, and preferences. Computers matter, not when you’re selling any cup of coffee to the next person in line, but when you are selling this particular, customized cup of coffee to that loyal customer.

Many startups are using free, online survey tools. Today I helped StorageVirtualAppliance develop a survey targeted at users of VMware and other virtual-server solutions. The survey was developed using FreeOnlineSurveys, similar to Survey Monkey, with which I was more familiar.

As I was working with StorageVirtualAppliance, I was reminded of some rules in survey design.

1) Know the purpose of the survey: Lead Generation, Evangelization and Market Awareness, Actionable Information for Product Marketing, Actionable Information for Product Management

2) Think about how you will categorize and summarize the data. Open-ended questions may provide great color commentary or quotable statements, but in large volume are difficult to categorize and summarize.

3) Have an incentive for those that take the time to complete the survey. The incentive could be as simple and inexpensive as a summary of the results, it could be an opportunity to be entered into a prize drawing, or it could be a small cash award.

In addition to helping with the survey, I also offered to help get the survey out to a broader set of participants. So, if you know any IT professionals, please send them to this blog and have them click on this survey link.

Thanks in advance. Participants could win a copy of Eco-Tech Warrior, Greg Schultz’, new book, The Green and Virtual Data Center.

Most people I work with now know that I am a relatively active user of social media and business networking tools, including Facebook, Twitter, DeliciousLinkedIn and Plaxo.  In fact, over the past six months, my blogging dropped off significantly, but my use of social media and business networking tools accelerated.

One of my clients was asking about the size of the installed base of Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS), wondering if it was a market large enough to justify the investment needed to integrate with  their own solution.  They also wondered about the penetration rate for GDPS within the installed base of z/OS licenses.  That’s rather esoteric stuff, unless you cut your teeth on IBM mainframes, as I did. (more…)

I just finished reading an unedited, advance review copy of Paul Gillin’s latest book, Secrets of Social Media Marketing.” If Paul is reading this post, he may remember that I told him I would read the book last month, but then, I also planned for the stock market to be up slightly. Things change, and you adapt.

In the book, Paul relates that he dictated much of the book into his computer and used speech recognition software to scribe his thoughts.  Since this was an unedited advance review copy, I gained some insight into the state of speech recognition software, which has advanced enormously over the past 20 years, but still makes amusing mistakes.

Paul acknowledges that at the current pace of change, some of the social media marketing tools he describes and the strategies he espouses will become relics and interesting historical perspective in 10 years’ time.   But, as we find ourselves in an economic downturn that appears deeper than anyone younger than 80 remembers, Paul offers some sage commentary on social media marketing that applies equally well to general business strategy.  Paul writes:

There are only two unpardonable sins in the current environment. One is fear…That leads to the other unpardonable sin, which is inaction.

Read Paul’s book and by the time you’re done, you will be gathering at Gather, twittering at Twitter, joining Facebook groups, and spreading link-love from your blog.  One thing’s for sure, budgets are tightening, and you and your companies will have to find innovative and less expensive ways to validate product concepts, find prospects, demonstrate to them what you can do, prove to them that you are alive, well, and can deliver something they want. 

It’s only 7 a.m., and I’ve learned something new.  I woke up early (too early) and was catching up on some blog reading, including this one from Jon Toigo.  There, I stumbled on his use of the word bleg, which is a term I did not know.  As is my custom, I then went on a random internet walk (using the Google search term define: bleg) to find out what else I didn’t know.  That led me to a blogosphere glossary from Blogossary.  Have fun scrolling the list, and watch out for blogfat.

Shortly after I started working with StorMagic, I suggested they create a Facebook group.  One of the initial target markets for StorMagic is the education market, and given the number of college students on Facebook, it seemed like a logical fit. We’re only a few weeks into this, but I’m pleased to see that the number of members is up to 46 and includes some pretty well-known, well-connected analysts, venture capitalists, and potential partners and customers.  Facebook groups are a great way to notify interested people about changes, enhancements, new materials and upcoming events. 

That brings me to the Web 2.0 double-dip comment.  Facebook is one tool that can be leveraged for marketing and community-building.  Another is YouTube.  StorMagic just completed their first video and uploaded it to YouTube.  You can see it here.  But they also notified the 46 members of the StorMagic Facebook group about the video, by posting a notice on the group’s posted-items board.  We’ll see what kind of traffic it generates, but having created the video, YouTube is a low-cost way of beginning to circulate it.  I just watched it, and it does a pretty good job of demonstrating the simplicity of implementing a StorMagic iSCSI storage area network.

I’d really like to hear your opinion on two things:

  1. Using Facebook as a community building and marketing tool
  2. Using YouTube to cost-effectively demonstrate key features of a solution

I’d also like your suggestions for other Web 2.0 tools that are effective in raising awareness and building communities for a supplier’s customers, partners, and prospects.

One last thing.  Can you give us some feedback on the video?

Howard Perlstein, founder of HOW, a  management consulting services company based in Brookline, Massachusetts, just became my 1000th connection on LinkedIn.  We were introduced by a mutual friend and met for coffee. He talked about his business, and I talked about mine.  We also talked about ways that we might be able to help each other.   I have no idea, yet, whether I or he will reap any financial reward, but, as I said to Howard, if you don’t take the occasional random walk, you’ll wear out your path.

Someone asked me recently, if I actually know all of the people in my LinkedIn network.  The answer is “yes.”  And I wish that I had started using LinkedIn sooner, because I’m missing the other 5000 people I’ve met during the past 10 years. OK, 5000 is a guess, but I’m not far off.   And somewhere in those 5000 is someone I can help. Sometimes for fun and sometimes for profit.  And while I can’t help everyone, as a good friend, Barba Hickman, founder of Applied Clarity, said to me, “If I start off each day thinking about how I can help someone, the business pretty much takes care of itself.”

A recent blog entry by Denise Shiffman on Viral Voice referenced an article in InsideCRM entitled The Facebook Marketing Toolbox.   I’ve only been using Facebook for a few months, so this article was a great find, with links to tons of resources and recommendations.  Thanks Denise.  This article is required reading for my new client, StorMagic, and my nephews who continue to grow their restaurant, Black and Brew, down in Lakeland, Florida.  Keeping getting the word out!  For all others, reading is optional, but highly recommended.

I posted the following question on LinkedIn about five days ago:

What’s the best strategy for creating end-user awareness of an innovative product through social networking?

Here’s the dig.  At least I think it was a dig:

Try and be a bit more simple and straightforward in your communications than you are in your questions. (more…)

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