Do QR Codes Really Kill Kittens?

Do QR codes really kill kittens?  The other day I received my new copy of QR Codes Kill Kittens, by Scott Stratten, and within 1 hour, I had my answer.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to share it, just yet.

What I will tell you is this is a perfect book for what not to do, in marketing, in social and in life.  This book isn’t all about the QR code, and how to use it.  Stratten is just using it as a jumping off point to explain his theory that, any marketing when used incorrectly, will hurt more than help your brand.  The improper use of QR codes is just one such problem.

Stratten organizes his book into four sections:Do QR Codes Kill Kittens?

1. They Don’t Work

2. Nobody Likes Them

3. They’re Selfish

4. Your Time is Better Spent Elsewhere

and makes his point through more examples than any brand would care to admit.  In fact, there are about 180 different examples of how brands have used these new digital tools to do more harm than good.

For one, he has numerous examples of companies spending money on marketing, whether by QR code or in design, that sends people to websites that are only viewable on a desktop, or that have no mobile version available.  If people are scanning QR codes from a mobile device, it should lead to a mobile website.

Stratten takes issue with Facebook events that invite everyone and their mother (literally), yet are only accessible to a select few, due to location.  And, he specifically calls out Google, since they base their user numbers on how many people use their Google account in the year.  If you use YouTube, Gmail or Google search, and you are logged in to Google, it counts as a use of GooglePlus.

Finally, he takes issue with businesses that are only present and engaging with their customers after they have left.  He has a great example of an Allstate agent’s reply to a lost customer, after trying to get the agent on the phone, to no avail.

In the end, do QR codes really kill kittens?  No, thankfully, they do not.  But, as was pointed out to me recently by Chris Westfall, the National Elevator Pitch Champion, every time a business does something right, an angel gets its wings.

Should you read it?  I’d say, yes.  It’s worth it for no other reason than to see how you are doing better than some of the big brands.

Have you seen big brands (or small ones) that are incorrectly using these new digital tools?  I’d love to hear about them (as would Scott Stratten).

Connected Culture – The Art of Communicating with the Digital Generation

Connected CultureAfter appearing with Jerry Allocca on a panel discussion, he provided me a copy of Connected Culture – The Art of Communicating with the Digital Generation (amazon affiliate link), a book that provides a small business with a step-by-step guide to connecting in todays’ digital world.  And, after reading through this book, and partaking in many of the on-line resources, I can say that this book accomplishes its goal of offering an in-depth look into the “who”, “what”, and “where” of our connections within this new digital age.

Jerry Allocca, founder of CORE Interactive, offers his readers a step-by-step journey into the oftentimes confusing world of social media.  Allocca takes us through why we connect, who we are connecting with, and most importantly, how we can connect with our target audience to ensure that we, as businesses, leave no stone unturned.

And how does Allocca do this?  By following a great formula of offering readers the “why” we are connecting, and then offering them the tools to ensure it is done correctly.  Each chapter is followed by a downloadable workbook, so that readers can begin to implement the many ideas and actions Allocca outlines.

Should you read Connected Culture?  Absolutely.  But, more importantly, you should download and complete all of the downloadable workbooks, so that you are not only learning about the “Connected Culture”, you are able to participate in it.

Social Media Tsunami – How To Manage It All

Social media can be overwhelming to the small business owner, especially one who has not really used these tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) before.  Questions abound: When do I post?  How much do I post? Which networks do I use? With so much uncertainty, the social media novice might feel overwhelmed to the point of quitting the race before it even begins.  After all, who has time to spend all day on Facebook, right?

So, should the small business owner throw in the towel or are there options for reining in the seemingly overwhelming task of managing their social media presence?

Short of hiring a social media manager, there are several tools available to the business owner that will help them overcome the “social media tsunami” that they can feel caught up in.

Buffer

The first tool I would recommend looking into is called Buffer. This free tool allows you to schedule posts and tweets right from within your internet browser of choice, whether they are to be posted to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.  I had previously done a review of Buffer (“Why Not “Buffer” Your Social Posts – A Review”), and am still a very big advocate of their program. This constant flow of information that has caused people to approach me and let me know how valuable they find my posts and shares.  It also ensures that I always have a stable of posts ready to go, and they are released according to the schedule that I set.

HootSuite

HootSuite Dashboard EsquireTech SolutionsOne of my favorite social media “dashboard” programs is HootSuite, which allows you to monitor and manage multiple social profiles.  You set up columns for any social network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and soon GooglePlus), search term, or hashtag that you want to follow, and it organizes your social life.  Want to schedule posts for later in the day?  Hootsuite can do that.  Want to run an analytics report on your progress?  Hootsuite has analytics built in.  It also has a built-in URL shortener, and pulls in the necessary pictures to attach to Facebook links.  There also free applications for you to use on your iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry devices.  In addition, since the information is actually hosted in the cloud, whatever search columns you set up are available on all devices.  They offer both a free and paid service, but I believe it is worth the $5.99 for the Pro plan, which integrates Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.  Want to sign up?  Here is my HootSuite affiliate link (thanks, in advance).

TweetDeck

TweetDeck, now owned by Twitter, was one of the first social dashboards.  It allows you to organize your Twitter accounts, and to set-up columns for searches that you conduct on a routine basis (hashtags, users, topics).  TweetDeck also has a built in URL shortener, and enables you to schedule your tweets in advance, however, TweetDeck does not offer the same flexibility as HootSuite, since it is meant to only monitor Twitter.  TweetDeck offers both desktop and mobile applications, and will work well for someone looking for basic Twitter management.

Gremlin

Gremlin is a newer social media dashboard, that I’ve just started to experiment with.  Gremlin allows you to accomplish all the same tasks as HootSuite, and offers both free and paid versions, although Gremlin’s Gremlin Social Dashboardplans run all the way to $500 per month.  I will admit that Gremlin offers some very compelling features, which HootSuite and TweetDeck don’t, including goal tracking, a LinkedIn Groups, and the ability to post
longer messages (with the comparable $6 per month plan).

But will it overtake HootSuite?  That remains to be seen (although I do prefer their mascot to HootSuite’s OWL).

Managing the social media tsunami takes time, effort, and work, but these tools can help you better use social media to promote your business.  And, since all of the mentioned programs are free or have free plans available, make sure to try them all, and find the one that works well for you.  And remember to share how you are using them.

Have you found another hidden gem?  A tool too good to be true?  Make sure to share it.

TweetDeck

HootSuite

Gremlin

Buffer

 

Other social media tool resources:

Top Ten Favorite Social Media Tools for Daily Use

Top 5 Social Media Tools Companies Use

13 Tools to Simplify Your Social Media Marketing

22 Hot New Social Media Tools Worth Exploring

 

Article originally appeared at Digital Brand Marketing Education.

Have You Checked In With Herematch?

The world of geo-social applications is shrinking, with the recent purchase and shut-down of Gowalla by Facebook.  But that isn’t stopping a new upstart, called Tangletech, from unleashing on the business world a new take on the social check-in – herematch.

So, what exactly is herematch?  Well, as their slogan, “Check in with herematch – Check out with Business” indicates, their purpose is for you to check in at business events, and they will match you with other usersherematch at the same place or event, and display that list of matches and why they match you.  Maybe they are looking for your services, or maybe you went to the same school or are from the same town.  Either way, they may be someone that you want to connect with, right there.  And they provide the means to do just that.  But don’t worry, they also provide a complete list of everyone that has checked into the event or location, as well, so you can view their profile, and decide whether to connect.

By filling out your profile, you provide herematch with the required information to match you to similar attendees, including your industry, the services you need, your business location, as well as the standard bio and contact information, including cell phone (which would be necessary to connect you “immediately”).

I would also recommend that you add your profile picture (just like all other networking applications), so that you have a reference should you decide to meet in person at an event.

But, one of the most interesting features, I feel, is the ability to find local events, on the herematch website (registration is required).  Just put some general information (category, city, state, or industry) and herematch will provide you with a listing of upcoming events that fit your criteria.  What better way to plan your networking strategy than having all events right at your fingertips.  You are also able to add events not in their database, either from the event or in advance, giving you the ability to connect with people at any business networking event.

Do we need another check-in application?

After downloading the application at the Trade Brooklyn B2B Trade Show on March 20th, I immediately checked in (after checking in on Foursquare), to see if this program would benefit me.  Unfortunately, I was not provided with any matches, and very few people had checked in to the event.  In addition, the application is limited to the New York area, although they will be expanding nationwide shortly (it only entered the Apple App Store in January, and the Android Market on March 20th).

Do we need another check-in application?  Maybe.  Herematch’s ability to match your needs with those of the people around you seems like a major benefit, especially at a large trade show (like Trade Brooklyn) when you might not get an opportunity to meet everyone, at least you will meet those people looking for your particular services.

I will continue to give herematch a chance, especially at the next big trade show, Trade Nassau, which takes place on April 25th.  I think every app deserves a second chance.  But do they get a third?  I don’t know.

Have you tried it?  Do you use geo-social applications?  What do you think, do we need another check-in app?  Let’s discuss…

 

Resources

Herematch – Check in with herematch, Check out with business

Gowalla is Going to Facebook

 

Originally published at Digital Brand Marketing Education 

Get Bold: Using Social Media to Create a New Type of Social Business

Get BoldBusinesses are going social.  There really is no stopping it.  It is the future of connecting with your customers.  They expect you to have a presence in social media.  Social media has arrived.

But, did you know that before all these businesses were clamoring to get on-board with social media, one company was at the forefront?  That company, believe it or not, was Big Blue.  Yes, IBM.  And Get Bold: Using Social Media to Create a New Type of Social Business, written by Sandy Carter, IBM Vice President, Social Business Evangelism, outlines the strategy IBM used to make themselves a social business.

Using her AGENDA framework, you will be able to transform your business into one that embraces and “lives” social media, just as IBM has done worldwide.

What is the AGENDA framework?  Simply, it is her method to:

Align organizational goals and culture;

Gain social trust;

Engage through experiences;

Network your business processes;

Design for reputation and risk management; and

Analyze your data.

Get Bold is divided up into chapters based on the AGENDA framework, and offers amazing case studies and examples of how to implement each step of her framework.

But, is this book right for your business?  The answer is, “it depends”.  Sandy Carter offers up a great AGENDA to move your business into the world of social, but I feel it focuses too heavily on larger businesses (after all, she is the Vice President of Social Business Evangelism at IBM) and not enough on advice for the small business.  In fact, most of the case studies presented are of larger businesses, and they aren’t necessarily transferable to the small business.

In addition, if you are looking for a primer on social media, this would not be where I would start.  There are books more suited to the small business owner, which offer more actionable items to increase your businesses social footprint.

So, should you read it?  If you are looking to move your large business into the social realm, I would recommend it, if for nothing else but to get an inside look at the social strategy of IBM.  Small business?  Maybe not.

Did you read it?  What did you think?