#startup your social media

2012-12-28 23.54.10In one of my first interviews about my start-up journey, I mentioned how much I have to thank social media for. After an intense and inspiring day mentoring dotforge start-ups this week, here are my top tips for increasing your profile and serendipity on social media – whether you’re building a start-up or advancing your corporate career.

1. Social media is just another way to talk: I often hear people refer to social media as “marketing”, “something that brands use”, “irrelevant”… but at its heart, business is about relationships, and relationships are built on conversations. Conversations first became virtual via letters, then telephones and faxes, then emails. Social media is fast becoming a hygiene factor in business. Can you imagine telling an important contact that you don’t have email? Can you visualise their reaction? Many will now look at you in the same way if you don’t have a Twitter account!

2. Speak where your contacts want to listen and engage: You don’t need to be everywhere. Discover where your contacts hang out on social media and prioritise those platforms. As a social CRM and social media consultancy, some think it is unusual that we don’t have much of a Facebook presence – but many of our contacts, who are predominately from professional services firms, simply don’t want to talk about work there.

3. Think – old rules, new tools: Traditional best practices still apply, but you can reach a larger, yet more targeted, audience. Social media accelerates the know-like-trust-buy-advocate cycle. The real-time and searchable nature of social media means that you can find contacts and conversations of interest. By demonstrating your expertise and personality, you can become the host of the virtual parties that matter to you – with prospects/investors/employers approaching you, rather than you needing to find and pitch to them Smile

4. LinkedIn is your virtual shop front, Twitter the virtual cocktail party, and Facebook the virtual house party: Dress/speak appropriately! Make sure that your virtual shop front has a great address and would encourage your ideal client/employer to walk through the door. Twitter is incredibly powerful for building your profile and network because who you follow is not connected to who follows you… as with real-life networking events, you can join any conversation uninvited, as long as you have something interesting, insightful and/or amusing to add. Many of our professional services contacts demonstrate their expertise by hosting events. Twitter is a great way to build interest, conversation and engagement before an event, which in turn increases attendance, and social sharing during and after; whereas the same contacts/firms may use Facebook for charity events, summer parties, etc. once relationships have been firmly established.

5. Be social via and on social media: Social media is a wonderful research resource. I now routinely read the websites, blogs and profiles of contacts before speaking with them for the first time – whether in person, or online. Time can be saved and conversations made more relevant when you already know someone’s areas of interest and mutual connections. Relationships that might have taken years to build can now be formed in a matter of months, sometimes even weeks. Don’t join conversations and meetings without this easily available intelligence. And whenever possible, help to #jointhedots / in #joiningthedots – if you take a peek now, you’ll find all the fantastic entrepreneurs and start-ups I met this week Smile

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    Continuous Discovery

    imageWhen Apple launched the iPod in 2002 it took a little over 22 months to ship the first 100 million units. The iPhone hit the same mark after a mere 16 months. The iPad did it in ten. In fact, within only 15 months of the tablet’s arrival, Apple was selling more iPads than any PC maker’s sales of desktop, laptop and netbook models combined.

    Imagine creating a 3 or 5-year financial plan for a PC manufacturer just before the iPad launched in 2010 – you couldn’t have possibly predicted what was about to happen.

    What’s clear is that disruptions are getting more disruptive and that the pace of change, and more importantly, the pace of adoption is getting quicker.

    If we can’t predict such market changes, what we can do is get better at reacting to them.

    Continuous Discovery is an agile management technique in which rather than have a dedicated research or discovery phase in a project, discovery happens in parallel with product development.

    This is a concept we have embraced at CubeSocial as we continually review the market, assess users’ feature requests and evaluate feedback from product support to create prioritised product backlog items.

    Traditionally in the software world you would have a “Product Discovery Phase” where you would come up with several weeks of validated product backlog items and deliver them to engineering. For CubeSocial, and our most recent product, HonestyBoxx, we are constantly identifying, validating and describing new product backlog items. Some discovery work takes a few hours and other things can take longer, but it is an on-going process of ideation, validation and description.

    In fact the HonestyBoxx concept of a “micro-consulting” platform where the buyer gets to choose how much they pay came about through listening carefully to CubeSocial users’ requests and tracking services sector trends towards smaller, more targeted pieces of work.

    The result of this is that we have products that are a good fit for both our customers’ requirements and the current market situation. And just as importantly, in the case of HonestyBoxx, because we we’ve been so laser focussed on getting discovery right, we were able to build and ship the entire product in just seven weeks.

    One final point to note – continuous discovery isn’t only applicable to product development. It can be applied equally well to other business functions, such as sales or marketing. It’s just that in these cases the “product” being developed might be a new pitch deck, financial model or marketing campaign.


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      Entrepreneur Roadshow 2013

      pic4There’s another chance to catch our CEO, Linda Cheung, give one of her acclaimed social media talks at next week’s Entrepreneur Roadshow.  Linda will be talking about her start-up journey, how that lead to the launch of CubeSocial, and what inspired her to launch our latest product, HonestyBoxx.

      The event takes place on Thursday May 16, at ViewPoint building on Basing View, Basingsgtoke.  More details here: http://yesyoucanevents.com/.

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        HonestyBoxx: Now with attachments

        We pushed out an update earlier this week for one of the most requested features of HonestyBoxx – file uploads. Now when you ask or reply to a question, you can attach any files that you want to share with the expert or questioner.

        Things you can do with attachments:

        • Attach an ebook or best practice guide to your answer
        • Attach a photo illustrating your question or answer
        • Attach a detailed brief
        • Attach a document for review

        We think that uploading files enables many more scenarios for both questioners and experts. What do you think?

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          Say Hello to HonestyBoxx

          HonestyBoxx - Earn Money from Your Expertise

          With all the other launch activities last week – we didn’t get round to making the announcement here – so let’s put that right…

          As a small business providing services to clients, you’ll no doubt have found people contacting you asking for ten or fifteen minutes of your time to give them your expert advice… for free.

          At the same time there are a whole host of other people who are put off seeking the advice of professionals by the expectation of high fees and long contracts, often turning to internet forums for guidance instead.

          What’s missing is a simple way for people to get expert advice from trusted professionals at a fair price.

          Meet HonestyBoxx

          HonestyBoxx helps start-ups, small businesses and individuals access affordable expertise from lawyers, accountants, consultants and other services professionals, and helps professionals from across the globe find new clients.

          When a small business adds HonestyBoxx to their blog or website they’re telling visitors that they are happy to answer their questions in exchange for a fair fee. By providing an easy way to collect questions and payment from website visitors, HonestyBoxx instantly provides a new source of revenue and a stream of warm leads for larger pieces of work.

          HonestyBoxx WidgetWith HonestyBoxx the buyer asks their question and says how much they’d be happy to pay – just like the honesty box payment system you sometimes see at small stores. In exchange, professionals get to demonstrate their expertise and build trust so that when the buyer needs a larger piece of work, they’ll be the first people they think of.

          HonestyBoxx CEO Linda Cheung said: “By helping buyers connect with professionals around the globe we’re changing the game for the little guy. Now small businesses, start-ups and individuals anywhere can get the expert advice they need to solve their problems and make informed decisions.

          “And, by helping small businesses reach a new market for their expertise we’re providing them with a stream of warm leads and clients at a time when new business is at a premium.”

          Duncan Johnson runs digital agency Yodelay. “I think the HonestyBoxx concept is pure genius.

          “Small businesses can get instant access to expertise at a price they can afford and the experts are able to make their downtime profitable.

          “The simple process of paying for quality information also helps small businesses to value the time of a consultant whilst not breaking their bank account.”

          Linda added “The services sector has remained largely unchanged by ecommerce and the internet, but with the current economic climate we believe the time is right for change.

          “Services firms have always won new business by demonstrating their expertise. These days the initial hook is provided by websites and blog posts. HonestyBoxx provides the next step so that experts can earn directly from their websites.”

          More Information

          Who is HonestyBoxx for?

          HonestyBoxx is for anyone who provides expert advice or services to others. People like:

          • Lawyers
          • Accountants
          • Financial Advisors
          • Marketing Agencies
          • SEO Experts
          • Social Media Consultants
          • Professional Coaches
          • Advertising Experts
          • Architects
          • Business Consultants
          • Interior Designers
          • Doctors
          • Dentists
          • Pharmacists
          • IT Consultants
          • Vets
          • Photographers
          • Wedding Planners
          • Beauticians
          • Careers Advisors

          And many, many more.

          How does HonestyBoxx Work?

          We give you a small snippet of code that you can paste into your blog or website. If your website runs on WordPress we have a WordPress plugin too. The HonestyBoxx widget then appears on your website allowing visitors to ask questions and make payments.

          More info: http://honestyboxx.com/how-honestyboxx-works/

          What does HonestyBoxx Look Like?

          We provide two different styles of widget: inline and fly-out. View a live demo of either of the two available widget styles: http://honestyboxx.com/widget/

          How much does HonestyBoxx cost?

          HonestyBoxx is free to join and set-up. For each answer accepted, we take a small fee of between 12% and 30% of the question value.

          Who’s Behind HonestyBoxx?

          HonestyBoxx was developed by the team behind the award-winning social CRM, CubeSocial.

          Still Got Questions?

          Try the FAQ.

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            Valentine treats… with a CubeSocial orange tweak!

            2013-02-14 09.37.51Happy Valentine’s to you, and Happy Birthday to us! Are you feeling the love today? We are… and we’re not afraid to show it!

            Two years ago today we moved into our office, with our first hire, and explained what we wanted to build and be. What an amazing two years it’s been since then, and it’s all thanks to you! Please consider this a virtual Valentine card from all the team, packed full of affection and appreciation Smile  

            2013-02-14 10.24.07You’ve done so much to help shape what we do, and how we’ve grown, and while we can’t share the specifics just yet, it’s thanks to you that we’re about to enter an exciting new evolution. How? Our conversations, your feedback, our working together… have highlighted something that’s missing for professionals. We’re busy building something for you to demonstrate and earn money from your expertise, to grow your business. A Valentine treat in the making. All will be revealed soon!

            Apologies to those who think this blog post too gushing, or who are feeling a bit bah-hambug this Valentine’s Day. Please be our Valentine, join us in celebrating our birthday, and feel the love!

            2013-02-14 09.16.322013-02-14 09.07.22PS. These birthday treats arrived yesterday, the book via a tweet from @dordje, the card via @AjeetMinhasGTB. Thanks David and Ajeet – how lovely, and appropriate that they were both via social media Smile

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              LinkedIn’s most viewed profiles for 2012 – spam or smart?

              20130208 LI top 1pc emailLast Friday I received this congratulatory email from LinkedIn. I was initially flattered to be in the top percentile, then focused in on the reason behind the mailing – LinkedIn had “reached a new milestone: 200 million members”. Having done the maths, I shared a screenshot on Twitter and Facebook with the comment “Email from LinkedIn… Should I be flattered, or frightened?” The response was immediate and wide-ranging – a wonderful mixture of sincerity, skepticism and sarcasm!

              It seems that there have been emails for 1%, 5% and 10%. People have been questioning the validity of the percentages attributed, and how special being one of 2 to 20 million really is. Spam? Or smart marketing?

              Many have shared their top percentage on social media using the pre-typed messages provided alongside LinkedIn’s Senior Vice President of Products & User Experience’s letter (reached via “Read More” on the congratulations email)

              20130208 LI top 1pc read more

              and even when the congratulations haven’t been received in a sincere way, they have generated social media shares, competition and conversation

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              Of course LinkedIn has a feature, only available to Premium accounts, which enables those paid members to see who has recently viewed their profile. Members with Basic accounts are frequently sends teasers to “Upgrade… to see the full list”.

              By congratulating the most viewed, this campaign has generated reaction (be it pride, envy, or cynicism) and discussion about what it means to be in those top percentiles… highlighting the paid-for feature, and potentially increasing curiosity and conversions. I wonder if LinkedIn will reveal how successful this campaign ends up being in terms of upgrades. 20 million emails could suggest spam, but I’m going with smart.

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                Getting started with Twitter – top 5 newbie questions answered

                imageAs a Facebook Novice to Social Media CEO I’m frequently asked about my conversion from social media cynic and how I got started with Twitter.

                Here’s a roundup of the most popular questions and my responses:

                1. Where to begin? 5 must-dos
                2. How do hashtags work? A case study (see the comments section for a link to another example)
                3. What are these “mystifying acronyms”? #FF, DM and RT explained
                4. Why are full stops added before Twitter usernames? Who sees what you’re tweeting
                5. Am I stuck with the username I chose on sign up? How to change your username

                Should this list be extended to a top 10? What else would you like answered?

                If you and/or your team are getting started with Twitter and would like some social media training or 1-to-1 coaching, get in touch.

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