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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

7 Tips On How To Motivate Your Team (Hint: Make Them Feel "Progress")

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A feeling of “progress” may be the most important motivator for you or your team, according to a Harvard Business Review study on what motivates people (thanks to my colleague Mary for pointing this one out).

The HBR study took an interesting angle on motivation by studying hundreds of workers and digging into what happens on a great work day.

Image courtesy of José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, Wikipedia.

The gist of the study is that on days when workers feel like they’re making progress on projects their emotions are positive and that increases their drive to succeed.

The opposite is true: when workers are feeling like they’re on the “hamster wheel,” working hard with little in the way of results, they feel negative emotions and their performance plummets.

And the progress that your team feels can even be small…and they’ll still feel motivated!

7 Tips For How To Motivate Your Team Through Progress

1) Set SMART Goals

To motivate your team through the feeling of progress, you’re gonna first need to work with them to set goals.

The goals you set should be SMART Goals:

  • Specific — Well defined, clear to everyone
  • Measurable — There should be a metric or some measurement to identify how you’re progressing on your goal.
  • Agreed-Upon — The goal should be agreed upon by the people working on it.
  • Realistic — The goal can be ambitious but should be within reason
  • Time-based — Every goal should have a time-line.

2) Provide Resources Necessary to Achieve Goals

You as a leader should do whatever you can to provide the resources necessary for your team to work on reaching goals.

Spend 1-on-1 time with them to discuss the goals and ask them what they need to reach them.

3) Hold Frequent Meetings To Chunk Down Goals

Let’s say you’ve got your team’s quarterly goals in place.

Now you’re gonna want to set up frequent meetings within the quarter to discuss them.

I recommend that you meet with your team either daily (or every other day) (see Daily Huddle).

In those huddles, ask your direct report to list things that they could do in THAT WEEK to make progress on the quarterly priorities.

E.g. If your quarterly goal is to close a major partnership with a single Fortune 100 customer, then ask your direct report at the start of a week what is it that they can commit to doing to moving that priority forward.

Example of chunking down the quarterly goal:

  • If it’s the beginning of the quarter, the first week’s goal may be as simple as committing to identifying the 10 Fortune 100 customers your direct report is going to go after.
  • The following week’s goal may be to telephone a contact at each of the ten Fortune 100 customers.
  • In the week after that, your direct report may agree to commit to making a proposal to a certain Fortune 100 customer.
  • Etc.

Now, as your direct report makes headway on these chunked-down goals, they will have a feeling of progress.

Remember this nugget of wisdom from my business hero Coach John Wooden (I’m paraphrasing):

Progress is not necessarily reaching your goal…progress is working as hard as you reasonably can on your goal and then letting the results be what they may.

4) Celebrate Milestones

When you reach your goals (i.e. milestones), take a moment to celebrate.

Acknowledge each and every person involved in the project…ideally with specifics on what they contributed to its success.

As a CEO, I ask my team to remind me of whenever anyone does something impressive…and then I try to write a quick congratulatory note to that team member (cc:ing their manager).

5) Acknowledge Failure As Progress

Don’t forget that failure is progress.

For example, your team may have a goal of trying to close certain types of customers or partnerships. If you explore one such deal and it’s not a good fit (for you or the other party), that is still progress.

Remember the old adage about the vacuum salesperson who realizes he has to knock on 50 doors before he makes a sale of one $50 vaccum:

“Each failure (closed door) is worth a dollar!” (because he gets $50 for knocking on 50 doors)

So when someone slams the door shut on a component of your goals, just move on — cuz you’re that much closer to getting what you want.

6) Be Authentic

This one’s easy: your praise of people should always be authentic.

Don’t tell someone they “really moved the ball forward” when you actually don’t know what they did.

7) Be Decisive

If you as a leader are indecisive about decisions around goals and priorities then you delay the feeling of progress that your team gets when they either reach (or fail to reach) their goal.

Progress is tough to feel when leadership is wishy-washy.

So be decisive about such things as:

  • Setting goals
  • Providing resources to help the goals get reached
  • Pulling the plug on deals/losing deals (once in awhile you will either want to pull the plug on a deal or you will have it pulled for you by another party — this is ok, just make it fast).

If you can work on the above 7 tips, you will help motivate your team though progress.

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Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

How To Determine Your Business Values: Exercises, Examples & Top Lists

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Do you know what your business’s values are?

I believe that your corporate values may be THE most important asset in enhancing your company’s long-term monetary value.

Your strategies and trends will come and go — your values can be forever!

This article will help answer the top questions you need to know about corporate values, such as:

  • What are values?
  • Why are values important?
  • How do you determine your values (including a “values exercise”)?
  • What are some business examples of values?

Here we go…!

What are values?

My definition of values is simple: Values are deeply-held beliefs about the right way of doing things.

Each individual operates life with their own set of values…and, of course, a business should as well.

Why are values important to a business?

As the author Jim Collins penned:

“The founders of great, enduring organizations like Hewlett-Packard, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson often did not have a vision statement when they started out. They usually began with a set of strong personal core values…”

It is your values that will guide you through the toughest decisions you make…you know, those 50-50 calls that every business leader faces periodically.

How do you determine your business values?

Here’s an easy values exercise Jim Collins suggests (with my own twists on it after going through a couple):

  1. Sit down with your team.
  2. Imagine that you need to create a mini-version of your company on Mars…
  3. …And you have to send a few people (up to 7)  from your company on a spaceship to Mars to represent your business’s best attributes.
  4. Identify the handful of employees you’d send on the spaceship (you can’t vote for yourself (and, ideally (if your company is large enough), you aren’t allowed to select anyone on the team doing the exercise)
  5. Now examine those people that your team identified and list out the values/attributes they possess that made you vote for them (e.g. Jane operates with integrity,Ralph strives for excellence, etc.)
  6. You should have a list of 10 or more business values at this point
  7. Start poking holes at each business value (you can use real-life business challenges/successes to test each business value to see if it is indeed true)
  8. Some values might be redundant with each other so start shrinking your list (I recommend you get it down to 8 or fewer values)
  9. Wordsmithing — Once you come up with the list of 8 or fewer values you may want to wordsmith them in a way that’s more of a commitment

Examples of Business Values

There are numerous examples of business values out there — here are a few of companies I’m familiar with:

Hot Topic Media’s Values — Here’s an example of values our team came up with:

  • We treat our customers, partners & employees with dignity and respect
  • We do what we say, and we own what we do
  • We give our customers more value than they expect
  • We are good shepherds of our company’s assets
  • We leave the world a better place than we found it (the “Campsite Rule”)
  • We are proud of what we do and have fun doing it
  • We keep things simple and clear

Google’s Values — Google has a version of values it calls “Our Philosophy: Ten Things We Know To Be True

  1. Focus on the user and all else will follow
  2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well
  3. Fast is better than slow
  4. Democracy on the web works
  5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
  6. You can make money without doing evil
  7. There’s always more information out there
  8. The need for information crosses all borders
  9. You can be serious without a suit
  10. Great just isn’t good enough

Hewlett Packard’s Values — HP Calls these  their “Shared Values”:

  • Passion for customers — We put our customers first in everything we do.
  • Trust and respect for individuals — We work together to create a culture of inclusion built on trust, respect and dignity for all.
  • Achievement and contribution — We strive for excellence in all we do; each person’s contribution is key to our success.
  • Results through teamwork — We effectively collaborate, always looking for more efficient ways to serve our customers.
  • Speed and agility — We are resourceful, adaptable and achieve results faster than our competitors.
  • Meaningful innovation — We are the technology company that invents the useful and the significant.
  • Uncompromising integrity — We are open, honest and direct in our dealings.

BabyCenter’Values — Johnson & Johnson subsidiary BabyCenter calls it these their “Operating Principles”:

  • Operate with Integrity — Always
  • Our Sucess Starts with Our People
  • Be Customer-Driven
  • Strive for Excellence
  • Work Together to Make Decisions
  • Everyone Needs Feedback
  • Respect One Another
  • Face Facts Constructively

A final point: values aren’t just something to write down (or put on a coffee mug as some do).

Values must be based on the real-life actions of a business.

And it starts with leadership — exemplifying their values through their actions and decisions.

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Friday, May 21st, 2010

How One Biz Used A Free Coke To Get 25,000 Facebook Leads (Real Leads with Physical/Email Address!)

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If you want to generate free leads on Facebook, Scott Crider is someone you should listen to.

He’s been preaching the benefits of creating value through social media for a few years now.

Scott_Crider_bio_photo.jpg

Back in 2007 Scott built the Dogs Against Romney blog after hearing Presidential hopeful Romney tell a reporter about how he had once strapped a dog cage to the roof of his car (with his dog in it!) on family vacation, traveling 80MPH…scaring the dog so badly that it shit all down the side of the car.

Dogs Against Romney was an overnight viral success picked up by major media outlets — it generated at least 500,000 visits in less than a month.

Scott also helped his friend and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee get hundreds of thousands of free Web site visitors during his campaign.

If Elvis Presley were still alive, he’d probably be asking Scott for help monetizing Facebook (Scott’s firm, Aristotle Interactive, handles email marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises).

Scott and the Aristotle team had a recent win helping a business generate leads through Facebook.

I asked him a few questions about lead gen win and general subject of making money through Facebook — enjoy!

Q: Would you explain how a business begins to think about making money through Facebook?

The real power in Facebook is in turning people into advocates for your brand, and you do that by giving them something of value, in a cool way, and making it easy for them to share.

Q: What is your definition of a Facebook app?

My definition of a Facebook app is one that requires the user to grant permission for it to access their personal information, and everything has to function within the Facebook API (the user never leaves Facebook).

Q: Tell me about Murphy USA — how did you help them acquire Facebook leads?

Murphy USA is a Fortune 100 gas station-convenience store chain, and a great client that lets us do great work.

They tasked us (Aristotle Interactive) to come up with a way of helping them grow their fans from their then-level of 5,100 (many of whom were associates of the company) to a much higher number of customers, and to activate those customers to visit their stores.

Q: So what was your approach?

We created a custom app for them that offered both existing and new fans a free Coca-Cola product of their choice, to be picked up at any Murphy USA location, and the app also allowed everyone to who got a free Coke to share one with their friends, as well.

Murphy_app_screen_cap

The app collected both email and physical addresses, as well as age info (a Facebook requirement) from the customers, and delivered the free Coke in the form of a secure, printable coupon to their email address.

Q: Can you walk us through the steps that a user would experience in this app you built?

  1. Well, first off, existing fans of the Murphy USA Facebook page (about 5,100 people) were the first to see the new custom tab on Facebook that said “Help Murphy USA share 100,000 Cokes!”
  2. After launching the app and getting their own coupon, fans were then presented the message “Your free Coke is on its way. Now share one with your friends!” The app, still running within the Murphy USA Facebook page, then presented the customer with his or her complete friends list, and they could select up to 12 people to share the promotion with (a Facebook restriction).
  3. Each of the 12 people the promotion was shared with then got a message in their Facebook inbox from their friend that said “You have a Murphy USA coupon invitation.”
  4. The message linked the person directly to the Murphy USA page where the default tab was set to the promotion.
  5. The fan was asked to “Show us you like us!” (click the “Like” button on Facebook, launching the app) and the process started all over again.

Q: Were there other ways the app you built encouraged Facebook fans to spread the word?

Yes, in addition to choosing 12 friends to share the promotion with, the app also offered each person the opportunity to post a message to their news feed that said “I got a free Coke from Murphy USA!” which could be seen by everyone.

Q: On average, how many friends did each Murphy USA fan share the app with?

I’d estimate that most of them shared it with all 12 friends they were allowed to share it with, and posted the message to their news feeds as well.

Q: So, that would mean that perhaps two thousand of Murphy USA’s fans shared the app (the free coke coupon) with 20,000 of their friends?

It’s hard to say. It went viral extremely quickly. Literally within minutes. The first two days the app was live they grew by 7,000 new fans each day.

It was so much traffic that our outbound coupon email volume to AOL caused them to temporarily block us and we had to put some bottlenecks in to slow it down. It was something like 800 AOL emails in an hour that triggered it. I didn’t even know 800 people still used AOL!

So far, the app has taken them to over 32,000 fans in 3 weeks since it launched, and virtually 100% of them have stayed as fans.

How much does an application like this cost to build?

I probably shouldn’t reveal any figures on that, because the client is in a very competitive business and they’re pretty tight-lipped about things that give them an advantage. Let’s just say that it cost less than you might think. It easily fit within their normal quarterly promotions budget.

How does Murphy USA use the email address they now have for their 30,000 + new fans for marketing follow-up?

Murphy USA really respects people’s privacy, so they chose to send one follow up email message to them to offer them the opportunity to opt into Murphy’s monthly e-Offers (an opt-in email database that offers promotions on all the different things they sell).

Of course, nearly all 30,000+ of them are still fans of Murphy’s Facebook page, too, and can be communicated with there anytime.

How would you describe Murphy’s ROI on this?

I’d say the return on their investment has to be pushing 1,000+%, probably more, considering the lifetime value of these new relationships.

Will Murphy USA do more of these free coupons?

I’m sure they will. Re-skinning the app and replacing the coupon is fairly easy, plus it’s a win/win for Murphy USA and their product partners.

Q: What did Aristotle do to ensure security for all this (i.e. make sure there’s not an unlimited # of free coupons that people use)?

That was another level of complication in the app creation, but a necessary one to protect both the client and Coca-Cola.

We built a system that generated a custom coupon for each recipient. They received an email with a one-time link to the coupon, and each coupon had the recipient’s email address screened across the entire face of it. So they could only access it once, and they were discouraged from making copies.

Q: Can you give me another example of a business that could do really well with a free giveaway on Facebook?

Imagine Victoria’s Secret — if they launched something like this as a “share a free panty with your friends” on Facebook, it would go stratospheric. Are you listening Victoria? Call me (ha!).

Q: So, if you had to sum up the keys to making one of these Facebook marketing apps work, what would it be?

Three things:

  1. Share something of value – a coupon, good content, a fun digital experience
  2. Do it in a cool way and make sharing easy
  3. Let the customers who share it look good to their friends

Q: That’s a fascinating use-case, Scott — If someone were to want to get in touch with you or Aristotle Interactive, what’s the best way for them to do so?

They can call me at Aristotle Interactive at 501-374-4638, or hook up with me on Twitter @CScottCrider or here on Linked In.


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Thursday, April 29th, 2010

4 Quick Tips On How To Be An Effective Entrepreneur

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Are you an entrepreneur? If so, you’re an amazing breed of person.

I coach a handful of you and I thoroughly enjoy brainstorming the creation of new businesses with each and every one of you!

There are a few entrepreneurial tips I have to help you along the way.

Benjamin Franklin (center), working at the printing press, may have been America's first entrepreneur

Benjamin Franklin (center), working at the printing press, may have been America's first entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Tip #1: You Will NOT Find New Creative Ideas From Advisors

Once you have your business idea and are rolling with it, you are walking around 24/7 living and breathing this new baby.

And you’re going to run into numerous people…potential investors or employees or people in general trying to tell you what to do (let’s call this group “Advisors”).

These advisors are going to throw a bunch of creative ideas at you.

First lesson: don’t sweat their ideas too much. If you’re into your new idea, you’ve probably thought about their idea in some form already.

You should focus on utilizing these advisors in other ways (see below).

Entrepreneur Tip #2: What You DON’T Do Is More Important Than What You DO Do

Those who hang around with Steve Jobs say that one of his most important skills is his ability to determine what NOT to work on (whether it’s a product or a feature).

Just take a look at at the outside of Apple’s iPhone and you’ll get what I mean: it has a couple of buttons, a switch, a jack for your headphones and a glass screen (think of all the features and functionality that other mobile devices have).

Mr. Jobs had to choose NOT to add a great many things to this magical device.

Or take In-N-Out Burger…they didn’t add a single item to their menu for some 15 years (and that first item was 7-Up soda) — again, think of all the things they turned down (chicken nuggets, coffee, juice, salads, etc.).

You the entrepreneur have the same tough call to make: you have a thousand ideas and you’re going to have to pick a precious few to work on at any one time.

Entrepreneur Tip #3: The First Thing You Do Will NOT Work (Try The “Law of 7″)

While you’re going to have to pick just a handful of things to work on (whether they are business ideas or product features), I have found it useful to use The Law of 7.

The Law of 7 states that you will have to try up to 7 things (around 3 to 7 things is usually about right), and work on them very hard, to find just one success.

This is similar to the Pareto Principal in which 20% of what you do typically creates 80% of your value.

But I wanted to name my own theory so I’m gonna call it the Law of 7.

Here are some Law of 7 examples:

  • Venture Capital — VCs look for 1 in 7 of their investments to make it big
  • Advertising Partners– I find that you typically have to try up to 7 advertising partners to find one good one
  • Advertising Creative — I find that you typically have to test up to 7 different advertising creative to get one that works really well.
  • Blog postings — About one in every 7 of my blog postings seems to really pop…while the other 6 are just so-so.

So you entrepreneurs out there should keep in mind that you may need to try about 7 different versions of your business idea to find one that carries you for awhile.

But you don’t have to believe me…check out these famous companies and how they attempted to make one thing while ending up producing something else:

Let me give you examples of the first things that different companies tried:

  • Microsoft — It was founded to develop BASIC interpreters (operating systems and later applications turned out to be Microsoft’s killer products)
  • Hewlett Packard — Its first product was an audio oscillator (calculators, mini computers and printers made this company famous)
  • Craigslist — This online classifieds service (the largest of its kind) began as a simple email distribution list of local San Francisco area events sent out by “Craig” Newmark.
  • Facebook — The world’s largest social network for people of all ages was initially a network just for Harvard students and alumni.
  • Apple’s iPhone — The big breakthrough for Apple’s iPhone was actually tablet computing….Steve Jobs mentioned this to AllThingsD: Apple was working on the tablet computer (the iPad) in the early 20oo’s and Jobs said that when he saw a prototype of the iPad, he decided that the touchscreen was a perfect way to design a new phone (so he deprioritized the iPad and instead made the iPhone the priority).

Entrepreneur Tip #4: Don’t Be Afraid To Start Small

I made the classic entrepreneur’s mistake when I launched the music Web site Mojam: I attempted to make it very big, very fast, with a small amount of resources.

This was 1998 and I believed the Internet was going to allow a new music brand, much the way television allowed MTV to launch.

So I positioned Mojam early on to be the “MTV of the Internet.”

The only problem was that I had only a small amount of money and no real strategic assets.

So, after studying the music market I found that the music industry consisted of three main markets:

  1. Recorded music — Mostly CDs back then
  2. Merchandise — T-shirts, posters, etc.
  3. Live music — Mostly concerts

So, I switched gears on my “MTV of the Internet” strategy and instead focused on the one part of the market that the Internet seemed to ignore: Live music.

No one was doing much in the live music space back then and our team was able to acquire a small database of music events and launch a concert listing service.

Interestingly, Wolfgang’s Vault, the company that acquired Mojam, was in the other two markets: recorded music and merchandise.

So, they were a better bet to take Mojam and go after the bigger music market  (closer to the “MTV of the Internet”).

So, if you have little in the way of resources, go after some small wins.

Don’t forget: Craig took an email list of San Francisco events and turned it into Craigslist and Mark Zuckerberg took a Harvard alumni network and turned it into Facebook!

There are many other tips to help entrepreneurs — I hope you found these four helpful.

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Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

How To Promote Your Book On Twitter (& Other Twitter Tips)

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There’s a question that everyone wants answered these days (I’ve heard it repeatedly at the recent conferences I’ve attended)…and it is:  “Who’s making money using social media?”

I’ve been asking that question of my friends lately and one guy stood up and said:

“Well, I am.”

How To Make Money Using Twitter

Mitchell's Monthly Royalties From Twitter

His name is Mitchell Cogert and you should listen to him because he’s built a profitable little business selling poker books primarily through the free traffic he’s acquired using Twitter.

Mitchell is a veteran of marketing strategy having worked with Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit and other leading businesses.

Read on to enjoy his thoughts on such topics as:

  • Does Twitter make money?
  • Who else makes money using Twitter?
  • The six steps of how Mitchell himself makes money with Twitter
  • How to find customers on Twitter

…here we go:

How To Make Money On Twitter

Q: Hi Mitchell. Before we get to your poker book business, let’s look at the rest of the world — first off, does Twitter make money yet?

There is an article entitled Twitter is Said to Be Profitable in Bloomberg that stated Twitter earned $25 million in 2009. The revenue came from deals with Google and Microsoft to get access to tweets for their search results.

At the Chirp conference (the Twitter developer conference) last week, Twitter announced a plan to earn money from ads. If you do a search on Twitter, you may see an ad as a tweet at the top of the results.

Q: Do you know of anyone else who makes money off Twitter?

Here are a few companies: DellOutlet, the Coffee Groundz, Zappos, Souplantation, NakedPizza.

You can learn more about success stories on Twitter by going to these Twitter Case Studies.

Logo of Bird for Mitchell's New Twitter Business

Q: Let’s get back to you your poker book business — do you make money on Twitter…is it profitable for you?

The cost to be on Twitter is $0. The cost for my Google blog is $0. The revenues from my poker books are priceless…lol.

Actually, using Twitter is very profitable! The most expensive thing I do is the time cost to write posts for my poker blog.

But that is fun to do, because it is my hobby.

Q: Would you break down the steps through which your poker business makes money using Twitter?

It’s a process:

  1. awareness–>
  2. followers–>
  3. effective tweets–>
  4. clicks to website–>
  5. valuable content–>
  6. sales

Q: So, “all in,” as they say in poker, how much money does it cost you to operate your combo Twitter/Blog sites per month versus how how much you think Twitter generates in book sales?

Out of pocket cost is for twollow at $7 per month and the websites on Homestead at $20 per month.

The royalties from my poker book sales average at least $1,000 per month.

Q: Do you have any other tips on how to make money using Twitter?

Yes. Let me give you one tip on how to get followers who are the most likely to buy from you.

The trick is to find followers who have “lists” that define your consumer.

For example, let’s say you are selling books to moms on parenting advice. Check out Twitter users who have lists they define as “moms.”

Now, just click the “follow this list” and you have created awareness about your business.

The moms that like what you have to say (tweeted) on Twitter, will follow you back. These followers are prospects!

Q: Thanks again, Mitchell

Thank you again!

Note: see How to Get Twitter Followers (Ones That Buy!) for Mitchell’s thoughts on that subject and for his contact information.

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Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

How To Get Followers On Twitter (Ones that Buy Things!)

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I recently met a neat guy named Mitchell Cogert who gave me some good Twitter tips.

He’s the president of ad agency Johnson Cogert & Strauss and has worked with Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit and other leading businesses on marketing strategy.

For himself, he has used Twitter to build a profitable little business selling poker books.

Mitchell was kind enough to answer questions on such topics of Twitter as:

  • How do you get free Twitter followers?
  • Is it a good idea to buy Twitter followers?
  • How do use auto-follow and unfollow to get more Twitter followers?
  • How fast should you get Twitter followers?

Mitchell Cogert

Here’s the Q&A on:

How To Get Followers on Twitter

Q: Hi Mitchell, let’s start off simple. How do you get followers on Twitter — what are the top few tips?

Here are three easy and free ways to get followers on Twitter:

  1. Add a “Follow-me on Twitter” icon and link on your website
  2. Add your Twitter account name on your email address
  3. Announce to your mailing list that you are on Twitter

Q: Would you discuss how to use Twitter’s auto-follow feature to get followers?

Twitter does not have an auto-follow feature to get followers.

Q: I see that you blog — did you get more followers on Twitter as a result of your blog?

Yes. Your blog or website provides the valuable content that you tweet about and is linked to your blog.

An example from one of my poker tweets:

New Blog Post: The 3 most popular Poker Strategies you must Avoid

Q: Do you recommend that businesses buy Twitter followers or should they focus on acquiring free Twitter followers?

I recommend that businesses do both. However, when it comes to buying Twitter followers you need to be careful since there are too many scams about getting followers..

I recommend my clients use twollow. It is inexpensive to use (as little as $80 per year) and it only auto-follows those users based on the keywords you select.

Q: Business folks often ask me “How do I get Twitter followers fast!?” — What’s your advice to them?

You don’t want to get Twitter followers fast. You want to get prospects, not followers.

I mean, do you want to get one million followers who have no interest in what you offer, or 10,000 followers who are prospects; those Twitter users who have an interest in what you are selling?

Twitter is not a get rich quick platform. To be successful on Twitter is a process. If you understand the process, you will get followers that are prospects, and turn them into sales.

Q: What business has the most Twitter followers…and do you know how they did it?

The businesses that have the most followers are usually those that have a well-know brand names and use Twitter effectively.

Examples are:

  • @DellOutlet: Posts tweets about discounts on products (15-30% off) and even exclusive deals via Twitter.
  • @ComcastCares: Post tweets to engage Comcast customers to improve customer care
  • @Zappos CEO: To build a bond with potential customers and provide insight into their unique culture.

Q: If someone wanted to get in touch with you about Twitter (I know you do some consulting) or find out more about you and your books, how would they do so?

For consulting, just send me an email at mcogert@gmail.com. To learn more about my poker books go to APokerExpert. And, of course, if you want to win money playing poker, follow me on Twitter at @Mitchell1969.

Q: Thanks, Mitchell!

You are welcome!

If you want to learn more about getting followers on Twitter, check out Two Tips to Get Followers on Twitter– and if you want to review some beginner Twitter tips, here’s a good primer called Twitter Tips for Beginners.

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

How To Innovate: 5 Tips From The Top Innovators

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I was fascinated by a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article on how to innovate (an abstract is here with the option to purchase).

They researched such innovators as Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar and Meg Whitman, Intuit’s Scott Cook and Proctor & Gamble’s A.G. Lafley.

Their key finding was that innovative entrepreneurs (who are also CEOs) spend 50% more time on five “discovery activities” than do CEOs with no track record for innovation.

 

I fully agree with these five tips for how to innovate; and want to provide my insights on them:

Five Tips On How To Innovate

1) Question (The Status Quo)

HBR points out that Michael Dell famously created Dell with the question:

“Why do computers cost five times the cost of the sum of their parts?”

Innovators are excellent at asking questions that challenge the status quo such as:

  • Why not try it this way?
  • Why do you do things the way you do?
  • What if you tried this new thing or stopped doing some old thing?
  • What would you do if failure was not an option?

2) Observe

Innovators are strong at observing people and details.

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Saturday, March 20th, 2010

How To Process Credit Cards In-Person With No Merchant Account (It’s Called “Square”)

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I believe the new payment application SquareUp (some call it just “Square”), which allows anyone to accept credit cards in person, is a game-changer in business.

I just bought a book using it from author Dom Songalla (pictured below) at a conference we both attended — it was simple yet powerful.

Rob Kelly & Dom Sogalla at The Twitter |140 Conference

Author Dom Sogalla Shows Rob Kelly the SquareUp-Enabled iPhone

Dom simply popped his credit reader reader  into the phone jack of his iPhone; and then swiped my credit card for $20.

A Square-Up Enabled iPhone

A Square-Up Enabled iPhone

Here’s the receipt I received via email (note that it shows me the location of my purpose):

Receipt from SquareUp Transaction

The whole thing really took just three steps:

  1. The author swiped my credit card on his iPhone
  2. I signed my signature with my finger on his iPhone screen
  3. He typed in my email and emailed me my receipt

And the beauty is that Square does not require you (the seller) to have a merchant account to accept credit cards — and there appears to be just one fee (2.9% of the transaction amount).

Others, including PayPal’s new Bump iPhone App, are also getting in the market of exchanging money between phones.

I like Square chances as much as anyone’s as it has smart folks like its co-founder Jack Dorsey (creator of Twitter) and Board member Gideon Yu (previous executive at Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo) behind it.

Click here for tweets from some Square advisors.

And since SquareUp is still in beta, you’ll have to go to the bottom of Square’s home page and give your email address to get in line to receive the card reader.

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