Tag: Social Media

Social Media: Work-Place Distraction or Productivity Tool?

May 9, 20140 Comments

Whether staff should be able to use social media in the workplace is a topic for discussion from board room to staff room in many contemporary work places. As a result, many companies, from small businesses to large corporations, find themselves needing to implement a social media policy in the workplace just so that the parameters and role of social media during working hours can be clearly defined and, just as importantly, understood by all concerned. So what are the arguments?

Social Media: Work-Place Distraction or Productivity Tool?

A Work-Place Tool:

In terms of contemporary workplaces and today’s high-tech working environments, it seems that there are plenty of reasons why allowing staff to access social media might be a positive thing:

  • Not banning (or disabling as some companies have been known to do) Facebook and the like during working hours shows trust in employees and can therefore boost morale.
  • Keeping social media available and not banned demonstrates respect that employees have their own time during breaks and lunch. This also gives employees a chance to show responsibility for their own actions and in managing their own work schedules, including those mini-breaks social-networking!
  • Employees’ social media accounts are generally personal and disassociated with the company or business: therefore interactions there don’t reflect on the business. The exception to this may be LinkedIn … which is one form of social media which many companies particularly object to during working hours.
  • A company allowing the use of social media reflects a business which recognises that different generations have different needs and skills. Allowing social media interactions during breaks is the action of a forward-thinking, pro-active company where technology, as well as employee management is concerned.
  • Using social media can also be an asset to internal interactions, adding to the hub and speed of conference and query between colleagues, for instance through Twitter’s private messaging system.
  • Use of social media could be used as a privilege and benefit for employees.
  • For industries such as marketing, design and the Arts, use of the internet and visual social media sites such as You Tube, Stumble Upon and Pinterest can provide great inspiration and can be a useful tool for productivity.
  • Similarly, for businesses which pride themselves on being up to date within their industry or within popular trends generally, allowing staff to frequently access news-feeds and trending topics can not only boost productivity, but inspire company-relative responses and on-trend initiatives.
  • Social media can also be a vital tool for promotional purposes and communication.

It’s also interesting to note that an Australian study from the University of Melbourne (2009) showed that using social media during work breaks resulted in a 9% increase in total productivity.

“We’re now seeing technology playing a vital part pre and post event with skilled social media marketers creating an event buzz and facilitating greater interaction and networking between attendees/participants.”

Rob Spaul of Team Tactics, a corporate events company based in London

Finally, allowing the use of social media offers the opportunity for businesses to create in-house experts who can help you to market your company and products online without the aid of expensive external consultants; team building days including sharing know-how across a range of social media sites can be empowering, enjoyable and motivating for your employees and productive and inexpensive for companies.

A Work-Place Distraction:

Popular arguments against the use of social media in the work place include:

  • Social media’s addictive element. This “time suck” effect, as it’s known in the US, can lead to staff spending longer breaks than they are allowed or becoming distracted from their work through obsessive checking for messages, both of which result in a loss of productivity.
  • The absence of social media in the work place helps to establish a balance between work and social activities: for some companies, social media has the word social included in the title for a reason and therefore it has no place in the work place!
  • Social media is, for some, a popular place to vent frustrations and therefore allowing easy access to it when all’s not well in the work place may not seem ideal!
  • Network security issues can be a very real issue for many companies. Passing on links in the “have you seen this …?” vein is a popular part of social messaging and whilst many companies don’t object per-se to their employees accessing social media in their break-times, they find they need to draw the line on the possibility of this happening via company hardware, which may then be compromised by link- sharing facilitated malware and viruses.

The Fine Line

Of course, where there are black-and-white arguments, there will also be shades of grey. Some social media, such as LinkedIn, has a greater business, entrepreneurial and job searching profile and whilst it could benefit your company to allow employees to access it during working hours, you might never be quite sure if they are networking on your behalf … or their own!

Even if social media is being used appropriately and within company guidelines, many companies may still be concerned that by allowing or actively encouraging social media use across the working day, they are failing in helping employees to build up those important face to face communication skills and interactions. This lies in direct conflict with the fact that social media is a vital tool in helping to build “virtual” relationships which can be key when networking, with international colleagues, for example. All of which can be a real conflict for some companies in deciding on their social media policy.

Additionally, it’s almost impossible to implement a blanket ban on social media during the working day as many workers will still be able to use their own personal devices in their breaks.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the current trend across all kinds of business is “transparency”. By having a fully embedded social media policy which recognises the role of social media in the work place both for business and social purposes presents your business as transparently pro-active in supporting your employees and encouraging both employee and customer loyalty at the same time.


‎Gary Vaynerchuk’s Take On Social Media (Keynote @ RE/MAX Annual Convention 2011)

December 7, 20112 Comments

‎Gary Vaynerchuk‘s take on social media: “Everybody gets on Facebook & Twitter and starts pushing. You are trying to close too fast and need to relax.”

If you don’t know Gary Vaynerchuk, he has over 908,000 followers on Twitter, 72,500 Facebook Fans and 106,000 Google Plus account holders have included him in their Google+ Circles. (Just click the above image of Gary to view & listen)

This keynote is well worth the hour it will take to watch it. You can always leave it on in the background while you’re working if you must, but make sure you let his messages sink in, especially his take on traditional marketing like Yellow Pages. It’s also very entertaining! When it comes to social media, Gary Vaynerchuk knows what he is talking about!

As always, I’d be pleased to receive and respond to comments.


Social Media For Business

November 1, 20110 Comments

Social Media is transforming the world for business. What is becoming clearer and clearer is that the way that any business either uses or doesn’t use social media can have massive repercussions both in relationships with customers and with staff. Alistair Rennie, the General Manager For Social Business at IBM, gave a thoughtful analysis to this issue in a perceptive article featured recently in Forbes Magazine. He calls this the era of “social business”.

The era of social business is here and it is becoming clear just how transformative it will be.

But many are still asking, “What does social business really mean?”

Companies are increasingly adopting social media technologies, using Facebook to reach out to customers or YouTube to demonstrate new products. These are good first steps, but there is so much more that “social” has to offer. Social media is just one dimension of today’s social business.

Gone are the days of businesses limiting or even entirely restricting employees’ access to the Internet and social media platforms. Today, by combining social networking tools – internally and externally – with sophisticated analytic capabilities, companies are transforming their business processes, building stronger relationships among their employees, customers and business partners and making better decisions, faster. This is what makes a social business – embracing networks of people to create new business value and opportunities.

Leading edge companies, including China Telecom, Nokia and Cemex, understand what it means to embrace social. They recognize that they can’t afford to relegate social technologies to people’s personal lives and have instead implemented social tools and concepts to drive brand awareness and ultimately, their organization’s bottom line.

While embracing social technologies, these organizations are also creating a new business culture that encourages employees to tap into the expertise of their colleagues and clients, to communicate and share ideas across departments and geographies, and to learn from others to create new products, respond to problems, and build the brand. Theses organizations not only see the power behind social, but they’re actively combining social networking with sophisticated analytics to glean insights from social activity streams and behaviors to find out what they need to do better to drive financial results.

What’s keeping other companies from following their lead? Many executives recognize that social media is powerful, even if they still wonder in the back of their minds whether it’s just a time sink. Yet, even when they decide that there is potential, these execs get hung up on trying to figure how to apply social technologies to their companies, how to engage and empower their employees to participate.

Here’s the trick with social business: Focus on people and culture.

People by nature are social beings. We naturally form networks based on trust and similar interests. With social technology, executives are providing the necessary tools for their employees to easily tap into the creativity, intelligence and community that they crave. They’re now able to reach networks of people inside and outside the company to get work done more efficiently, more creatively, more collaboratively. But will they? Not without trust and encouragement from the top. Just as important as the tools, building trust and encouraging social interactions are essential to driving a social change in the workforce. Creating a social business culture can be the most difficult hurdle to overcome, but it’s also the most important.

Alistair Rennie’s Guest Post in Forbes Magazine highlights how some businesses have both embraced social technology and created a new business culture that encourages employees to tap into the expertise of their colleagues and clients. This contrasts with the suspicions shown by other businesses towards social media, where often an outright ban on staff accessing Facebook and Twitter exists in the workplace or where social media is simply used to trumpet the business’s brand and products without truly engaging either staff or customers. It’s equally true that a lot of employees want to keep their employer at arms length from their social media platforms but then once someone begins posting online they need to realise they can never fully guarantee who they can restrict those views or news to.

Social business is a natural evolution from the mainframe and the PC. Where the mainframe is “work” focused, the PC adds ‘personal’, and social business adds both ‘social’ and strengthened ‘personal’. These three terms ‘work’, ‘personal’ and ‘social’ can also be argued to represent the three dimensions of everyday life, but what is your take on both the article and these views?


Rushing Headlong Into Social Media Risks Doing More Harm Than Good

October 25, 20113 Comments

When businesses rush headlong into social media to boost their marketing they risk doing themselves more harm than good. Social media is becoming all the rage for businesses as old-fashioned forms of marketing become increasingly expensive and less effective. But turning to Social Media without a game plan has it’s own perils, especially for businesses who assume that social media is solely for talking about themselves and their businesses.

Businesses need to be engaging their customers and potential customers as much as possible as this article appearing in the business section of The Gazette in Montreal discusses.

Small businesses rushing headlong into social media to boost marketing risk doing themselves more harm than good if they haven’t mapped out a game plan, according to industry experts.

While establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr seems like a no-brainer to get the word out about any kind of business — especially when it seems everyone else is doing it — it could all go for naught without establishing goals and targets, says Mhairi Petrovic.

Petrovic, owner of Vancouver-based Out-Smarts Marketing, teaches social media seminars for Small Business B.C. While 60 per cent of North American small businesses are using social media, many of them are “doing a really bad job of it.”

“Take a step back and understand who you are trying to reach and why are you using these technologies. Is it to build traffic to a website? Communicate with an existing network? Or reach a new audience? It’s important to understand these things before you start,” she said.

It can be “damaging if you do the wrong things.”

That includes establishing a Facebook presence, blog or Twitter account and leaving it dormant after an initial flurry of activity.

“It’s kind of like going to your office, turning on all the lights, turning on your flashing open sign and leaving for the day without telling anyone,” said Terri Davies, founder of Sociability.ca, a Victoria company that specializes in social-media marketing.

“Even if you’re not putting out great information every day and really maintaining it every day, which is the ideal situation, at least respond to people coming into your community and posting questions,” Davies said.

It’s the interaction with that community that’s at the heart of social-media marketing, and it’s where the traditional marketing methods of pushing out information and product gets turned on its head.

“Social media is more of a closed loop. It’s an interaction with your audience and you are building a community with people. If you do a good job they become your marketing department and help you to spread the word to new audiences and new profiles,” said Petrovic of the viral nature of social media that sees Facebook posts and tweets spread through long lists of friends and followers.

“It’s not about you and your company. It’s about how do you get people to interact and build community with you. It’s about your audience and how do you add value for them and stimulate conversation.”

And that is where social media takes the step beyond the simple web presence many small businesses have established. In many cases businesses are online, but there’s little more than a brochure and a contact email or phone number on their website.

Davies said unless that content is updated regularly and the site is engaging, it is static and unlikely to draw attention.

To start, Davies suggests a blog that can be part of a company website for those businesses looking at testing the social media waters

“It makes that (previously static) website more dynamic so you can keep it current,” she said, noting that a blog is the start of a dialogue to build relationships with customers and would-be customers.

Petrovic suggests establishing how much time and energy any business can devote to social-media marketing before taking the first step.

“It can be time consuming,” she said. “If you start a blog or Facebook page and then business takes over and you stop posting to it, that can be damaging. If a potential client finds your blog and sees you haven’t posted for six months, they may think you’re out of business. So it’s important to consider what you like to do. If you hate writing, a blog is not going to be a great way for you.

“If you’re very busy and have small windows of time, then Twitter might be a good tool for you as within 140 characters you can, with sharp, short bursts of information, get your message out.”

Petrovic said if your business has a more visual product or requires help with assembly or use then visual social networks like Flickr and YouTube may be the right avenue.

“Again, it’s about stepping back and thinking who your audience is and what your goals and resources are,” she said. “And recognize who your audience is and what social media they tend to use. Start using that tool and you are more likely to connect with them.”

Both Petrovic and Davies say the small-business sector is starting to get it. “Social media is just a tool like the telephone, the TV or a billboard. It’s a way to convey your marketing message to reach your target audience and build community with them,” said Petrovic. “It’s not a silver bullet or panacea, but it should be a component of your overall business strategy.” Montreal Gazette

All credit to the Montreal Gazette for getting the views of the experts quoted in this article. It certainly reinforces the fact that businesses should always tread carefully when venturing into social media and remain aware that it is far more than a mere advertising tool. Such a mentality would be doomed to failure. Don’t hesitate to let us have your take on this subject.


Sleepwalking Into Financial Slavery

February 17, 201112 Comments

As the father of children approaching what could be termed “university age” and having naturally come into contact with the parents of their friends over the years, I am struck by how the “system” is geared up to emasculating them in a significant form of financial bondage that will influence them for most of their lives.

Their years at school are naturally geared towards learning core skills and values to equip them through their lives, eg developing their reading, writing, speaking and numeracy skills and hopefully passing examinations which will be universally recognised when they apply for employment etc.

Beyond that however, I can’t help but think that the education system is no more than a conveyor belt towards a cycle of financial slavery that few have the imagination to breakout from. This is because the whole emphasis in their final years at school or college is based on going to university. Little debate takes place on why they should go to university or what it will achieve for them. They get caught up in an atmosphere that they must go to university because that’s what their friends are doing and also all their teachers would have gone to university so they must do the same. Either that, or they don’t yet know what they want to do in the long-term so the easy way to put off that decision is to go to university.

This has also been accelerated by a shift towards university based training for many vocations such as nursing, business and public administration and journalism. These callings may have had a university level entry option in the past but the majority of entrants would have entered at “shop floor” level either as school-leavers or after a career change. In many areas this option is no longer available due to the qualification levels required or a mentality where an employer doesn’t look at an applicant unless they have a degree.

At no time do young people seem to be encouraged to stand back from this before it’s too late and to ask important questions such as “Do I need to go to university?” and “What do I aim to achieve by going to University?” There is no consideration of alternative options such as starting a small business at a time when individuals have little to lose, before they’ve also been drawn into long-term commitments like mortgages and bringing up a family.

The opportunity to start a business instantly has never been easier. The tools for starting one are right at your fingertips in the form of a laptop and an internet connection. Never has it been easier for an individual to make a good living from their passion. If your passion is “Bodybuilding” why not start a blog, write some articles and monetise it with some Adsense and relevant affiliate links. Better still, build a list of contacts and subscribers and develop or rebrand a product about it. You would then be on your way to an alternative and far more enjoyable and rewarding lifestyle. It can all be largely automated without the need for buying and storing expensive stock funded by business loans, franchise fees or paying for ridiculously expensive and unproductive forms of conventional advertising.

Despite the economic troubles affecting the world there has been little sign of it stifling the phenomenal growth of the internet. If anything, studies suggest these problems are actually contributing to accelerating that growth!

Without wishing to be critical of many well meaning and dedicated individuals, aspiring students need to be aware that the education system is an industry. It depends on large numbers going to university or further education colleges (the target in the UK is 50 per cent of all school leavers), so that these institutions can get the funding they need and the work for their lecturers to remain on the payroll.

This may not have been particularly harmful in the past era of student grants, but the financial consequences in this new era of student loans are profound. Student fees in the UK are scheduled to rise from £3,000 per year to £9,000 per year from 2012. Additionally, the typical cost of university accommodation is £900 per year (based on 3 terms of £300 per term). A typical student will therefore walk away from university with a debt of £29,700 after a three year undergraduate degree course and that is before any consideration of living costs and subsistence over those three years.

This is just the start of this cycle of a lifetime of being locked into debt. The first temptation of anyone with a low level of cashflow is to boost it by using easily available credit cards. In 2008  the UK average credit card and other personal debt (such as car loans) per household was over £8,700. (In the USA the average credit card debt per household with credit card debt was $14,750).

The next norm in the UK after finding some form of long-term employment is to buy a house. This is typically financed by means of a mortgage, usually lasting 25 years. “Google” the details and it will show average household UK mortgage debt standing at around £140,000. If that £140,000 has been borrowed at an average rate of 6% over those 25 years on a repayment mortgage, it will cost £902 a month, £270,500 in total and £130,500 in interest.

So there you have it. Two major planks of society, the education system and the financial institutions depend on this mentality of debt. It will lock individuals into clinging onto jobs they think they cannot afford to lose for fear of failing to support their families, losing their homes and having County Court Judgements against them for failing to keep up their debt repayments. With much consumer spending financed on debt, the whole system hinges on borrowing. As individuals will typically spend all of their available income regardless of its level, never has it been more appropriate to describe a job as standing for “Just Over Broke”.


Every Aspiring Information / Internet Marketer Should Try To View This Programme

February 10, 20114 Comments

There was a programme on TV in the UK during January (2011) called “Dream Lives For Sale” where each week a couple who want to move aboard, start a business and find a new lifestyle are shown 5 potential businesses, and given the chance to work in them. The costs are then broken down including the investment to buy the business and the potential profits.

I HIGHLY recommend that anyone interested in Internet or Information Marketing, or attempting to establish an Online Business watches at least one episode and pays close attention to the cost of the businesses and the returns they offer, compared to the costs involved in setting up and effectively operating an online business.

The programmes already broadcasted have included businesses on offer typically for £500k+ with an annual return of £70k down to an investment of £80k (ish) for an annual return of £16k.

These businesses have also required extremely hard graft whether in a restaurant, out in an olive grove or in one case, running dog kennels!

One of the great advantages of Information Marketing businesses is that you DON’T have to invest tens or even hundreds of thousands to get started, BUT that has also been one of the down sides.

This is because, as there’s usually very little investment required, most people don’t take it very seriously, and jump from one opportunity to another when the going gets tough or if a new bright shiny object comes along. Additionally, its all too easy to get distracted or show insufficient discipline to your business just because it can be operated from anywhere if you have a laptop and an internet connection. If tens of thousands had to be paid upfront as in the businesses featured in “Dream Lives For Sale”, I’m certain there would be a very different attitude!

The people featured in “Dream Lives For Sale” have typically had to sell their homes to raise the capital for these businesses, borrowed vast sums from their Bank with all the accompanying interest charges, arrangement fees etc, etc or they’ve tied up vast proportions of their savings. In return they are then locked into their commitment, often having to carry out quite menial tasks over many hours per day and await anxiously for sufficient customers to meet their overheads.

In comparison, if you wish to start an Online Business, a Domain Name often costs little more than $10 (even for a dot.com domain) and webhosting little more than $10 per month with the option of adding further websites to your hosting account. Other costs, such as an AutoResponder system are also quite minimal.

Today it’s easier than ever before to start and grow your own online business, provided its treated exactly as that, a serious business requiring commitment and attention. If you do that, then you’ll see your business grow into what you want it to be.

Compare this with the businesses on this programme (you’ll be able to find them on SkyPlayer depending where you  live) and you’ll soon realise that there really is no better opportunity for a great return on a small investment than with information/internet marketing.


21st Century Business Entrepreneur

February 9, 20117 Comments

Patrick Clarke – 21st Century Business Entrepreneur

Let me explain the title “21st Century Business Entrepreneur”.

Commerce has changed drastically, just witness the boom in online trading and the success of online businesses such as Amazon and eBay, then set it against the decline and increasing closures of traditional High Street shops and stores (even well-established ones of many years such as Kodak and Woolworths). Why waste time sitting in a queue of vehicles or pay penal charges to park, when far more choice and better value is available at the touch of a button?

Further, skillful use of Social Media and online marketing strategies such as Google Local and SEO are proving far more effective and much better value than expensive newspaper, television and other traditional forms of advertising which re in clear decline. More and more it is becoming increasingly evident that the Internet and Social Media are revolutionising the way that people, businesses and organisations of all kinds operate. There are far more and far easier opportunities for everybody to follow their passion, their interests, their causes, their trade or profession and, if they wish, to monetise it.

Internet Marketing is empowering more and more people to take control of their own lives instead of being locked into traditional time-consuming and expensive business methods.

No longer is there a need to store your own stock in a warehouse or shop, to organise the printing of a newsletter or magazine, to pay vast sums to a franchiser for the privilege of starting a time consuming business with often negligible profits and expensive overheads.

It can all be done with minimal expense at the touch of a button. I have progressed from offline business interests (some of which I still retain) to monetised online businesses. That is my passion and my primary business focus.

If you are looking for assistance in progressing your business online through Social Media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or want to capitalize on the advance of Google Local, then get in touch. I would be pleased to assist. The results might astonish you!

Mail Me For A Free Consultation


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