Social Media related posts

Central Packaging

“Blue Gurus is the company to call if you want a sharp website on time, on budget. Blue Gurus brought more than just a website. They helped integrate LinkedIn, culture, values and valuable suggestions to give the site personality. I will use the Blue Gurus again in the future. Thank you Blue Gurus!”
– Mike Pasley, Owner/President at Central Packaging

Mike Pasley, owner of Central Packaging, called Jason and let him know that he wanted to update the look and feel of his web site. He said he had been referred to Jason from “multiple people in the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Program”.  Jason met with Mike and talked to him for an hour about the process, including web site, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

The thing that blew my mind is that this was the first time that a business owner had listened to our entire strategy and was then able to explain it back to me in detail at the end of our time together.

Before we started the project, Mike had also indicated that he was looking for a better email solution, so I connected him to Tony Sheets at UMZUZU to set them up on Google Apps (Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.) The other advantage to moving to Google Apps is that the email accounts at Central Packaging were no longer tied to their web hosting service. In short, this makes the move to a new web host easier because email is no longer tied to the web site.

After Mike and I agreed to move forward on the project, Mic coordinated the calendars and we were able to complete the entire project in one month (4 half-day sessions on site).  Our typical development and launch cycle is 4-6 weeks and the industry standard is months.

The other thing that we celebrated with this WordPress project is that it was the first project that the newest Blue Guru, Melissa Zarda, worked on. She provided tremendous WordPress expertise and also brought some graphical expertise to the site to make it that much better.

This was a great project for Blue Gurus! We loved working with Mike and his team and are thrilled to have them in our portfolio!

Click here to visit centralpkg.com

 

Bender, Weltman, Thomas, Perry & Co, PC

“Working on our new website with Jason and Mic was a great experience.  They listened carefully to what we thought was important to the success of launching our new site, thought outside of the box to create solutions to give us the results we desired and empowered me with the knowledge and experience to tackle a variety of issues to maintain our online image.  I am looking forward to working with the Blue Gurus again!”
– Andrew Hinrichs, CPA

I met Andrew when I was the speaker at an event covering the importance of social in growing your business.  Andrew manages the branch for BWTP here in Kansas City. We LinkedIn together and stayed in touch over a period of many months.   When Andrew heard that Bob, a partner with BWTP was driving a new website project, he called me to see how we could help.  This is another great example of why LinkedIn matters so much.  There is a good chance that Andrew and I would not have been able to effectively stay in touch across so many months.  Andrew mentioned that he saw my regular status updates on LinkedIn that helped keep me top of mind when this opportunity surfaced.

We did the project here in Kansas City with Andrew and Bob provided input from their corporate headquarters in St. Louis.  This project went incredibly well because Andrew came to the table prepared.  He had done his homework and collected the content and images that we had requested for the web pages.  We had the basic site up and running with a lot of the content loaded by the end of our second 4-hour session together!  The remaining sessions were used to enhance the content, find new pictures, incorporate new marketing pictures with the white stick man and more.  We were able to integrate their web based financial tools and client portal within the original budget, even though these were not in the scope.  Mic and I enjoyed doing this project with Andrew and Bob, and look forward to working together in the future as we continue to help BWTP be a social company!

Click here to visit bwtpcpa.com

Is Your Company Social? If Not, How Will You Get There?

Is Your Company Social?

Let’s step away from technology for a minute and refine the question:

  • Do you communicate with your staff about the things your business is working on? (New products offerings, new market segments, new hires)
  • Do you have company events like town halls, summer picnics, movie or bowling outings, volunteering or any other activity that puts your people together?
  • Do you have open lines of communication with your clients?  (Take them to lunch, give them a call, customer surveys)

 

If you answered yes to these kinds of questions, then I would consider your company a social organization.  This doesn’t mean you have any idea what you are doing with social media or social marketing, but at least you have the building blocks to build a social media practice within your company.

Why Do You Want To Be Social?

We have all heard how social can help us grow our business more quickly and efficiently than ever before.  We have heard about Dell selling millions of dollars of computers through deals posted via Twitter.  Companies doubling their revenue in 12-18 months using LinkedIn and effectively selling through relationships.  Groupon crushing a small business with a deal that is so good they can’t meet the demand.  Viral YouTube videos of a guy that helped sell a ridiculous amount of after shave for men. 

The list of social media success stories is endless.  So we all want to “do social media” to reap the rewards.  Before your company takes that leap, you might want to consider why and how

Why do you want to use social in your business?

  • Increase sales
  • Tell your customers about new products/services
  • Strengthen the relationships with your customer
  • Strengthen the relationships with your staff
  • Provide better customer support

 

The logical next step is to figure out how you will use social in your business.  Don’t just dive in without giving this some serious thought.

How Do You Get There?

Please don’t set up a Facebook account and a LinkedIn profile and tell everyone you are all over social media.  It requires people, training, content and strategy.  It also requires an ongoing, long-term commitment to execution.

How are you going to use social in your business?

  • Which people on your team will be coming  up with the content?
  • Who is going to push the content out to your web site and social media sites?
  • How many cameras should you buy for employees to keep with them to capture great moments?
  • Do you need to hire someone to do this full time?
  • Are you going to train your sales team how to use LinkedIn effectively? (Increase sales)
  • Are you going to look for new team members on LinkedIn as part of your recruiting process? (Prospective employees will check out your existing team member profiles)
  • Are you going to blog regularly? (Keep everyone up to speed on what is going on at your company)
  • Does Facebook matter for you? (If you are a business to business services company, not sure the answer is yes)
  • Does Twitter matter for you? (How many customers or people in your industry are using Twitter?)
  • Does < insert popular new social media site here > matter for you? (Pinterest anyone?)

 

I encourage you to think about these questions.  Be honest with yourself and your employees about social media.  Are you using the tools effectively?  Do you have the right people in place?  Have you provided appropriate training?  Do you have a “Don’t Be Stupid” social media policy?  Are you following a content strategy?  Are you paying attention to the number of connections, likes and followers growing over time?  Are you seeing comments or discussions?

The sooner you can answer these questions confidently, the sooner you will be able to answer yes to the question of whether or not you are a social company.

LinkedIn for Students – It’s Never Too Early to Start

We are asked to speak about social media, specifically LinkedIn, at least two or three times every month.  Some of our speaking is fee based and some we do for no cost as a way to give back.  I specifically have a heart for helping students.  I have spoken at Rockhurst University, the Bloch School of Business and just last week Avila University.  After doing the presentation at Avila, I realized that we had not written an article about the power of LinkedIn for students getting ready to graduate!

If you think about it, your professional career has been influenced by two major factors.  Your skill set and who you know.  Pretty simple concepts, but powerful in its simplicity.  You learn something new every day, increasing your skills, and my hope is that you have a solid work ethic that allows you to apply those skills to the task at hand.  As you are learning, you meet new people almost every day as well.  Your boss.  A new client.  A new vendor. A new neighbor.  A new instructor.  The list goes on and on.  Think about how many people you interact with on a weekly basis.

I usually speak to classes of Juniors or Seniors in college who are gearing up to find their first job.  My message to these students is that LinkedIn is a powerful way to have an edge over other people fresh out of college looking for the same job.  Do you remember spending a lot of time and energy on your resume, and buying the thickest stock paper to print your resume on?  I believe that the smart HR and recruiting people are quickly looking to LinkedIn for more information on potential candidates.  How much more professional would a resume look if it had a link to a great looking LinkedIn profile?

Granted, someone coming out of college is probably not well connected to the business community in their area yet.  That said, they have a bunch of professors that they learned from… many of the instructors I have met are well connected in the community, usually in the niche of the topic they are speaking about.  These include strong fields like information technology or marketing.  So students can link in with their professors as a start.

My encouragement to students is to change their mindset immediately and start treating each new relationship as a potential long term relationship.  Think of knowing someone for 25 years professionally and all the opportunities that can spin out of that relationship.  Definitely take the time to get a feel for each person, whether or not you like them and see them being a good influence on you personally and professionally.  If they pass that test, Link In with them!  You never know how that relationship will help down the road.  The relationship is a two-way street, potentially benefiting either side.

As we continue to train organizations to use LinkedIn to grow their business, influence their peers and communicate more effectively, I realized that the challenges facing a student graduating from college and trying to find a new job are very similar to the challenges facing a salesperson at a company that is trying to find new clients to work with.  It takes a strong skill set or product and a vast web of relationships that can help you get the word out.  LinkedIn will help you in your efforts to create that trusted web of relationships that will be with you for many years to come.  There is no better time than right now to adopt the habit of connecting to people that you know, trust and respect through LinkedIn.

20 Reasons Why Your Business Should NOT Be On LinkedIn

A year ago I wrote an an article called “10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Not Be On LinkedIn“. The inspiration for that article came from the fact that I was amazed that part of my day-to-day job involved convincing business owners, especially those in the B2B space, that LinkedIn was a viable tool to help them grow their business and facilitate culture change.

So here I am today having the same conversations with business owners and decisions makers. The education process continues. I suppose in a way I can understand it because “social media” is like a 6 year old…still growing, maturing, and changing. People in every generation are adjusting.

Some think (yours truly included) that the 6 year old has all of the potential in the world. Some think the 6 year old is cute, but has a rough life ahead. Some people think the 6 year old is like all of the other 6 year olds out there. Some people think the 6 year old will eventually grow up and move out of our lives. Some think that a better 6 year old is coming soon. Some think that 6 year old is intriguing and want to be a part of his life as he grows up. And some people just keep trying to ignore the 6 year old and wish he’d just go away. 

One tool that I believe is going to be around for a very long time is LinkedIn. And since you can find articles all over the place telling you why your business should be on LinkedIn, let me humor you and hopefully open your eye a bit by taking a slightly different spin on things.

Without further ado, here is my updated list for your reading pleasure…

20 Reasons Your Business Should NOT Be On LinkedIn 

1. You will take a cold call over a warm, or even hot, call every day of the week. 

2. You think business can only be done face-to-face even though relationship building (isn’t that what business is all about?) happens every single day online. 

3. You believe that you (and your employees) 30% complete profile with no summary, no picture and zero recommendations doesn’t reflect poorly on you or your business.

4. You don’t have time to spend a couple of hours on LinkedIn each week to research prospects because you are too busy doing the same sales techniques you’ve used your entire career. 

5. You don’t want to participate in forums that make you or your business look like subject matter experts in your industry.

6. You don’t want to read blog articles and stories from people in your professional network that may help you or your business.

7. You don’t want to take the time to give recommendations to people that you’ve worked with throughout your career that are awesome because there isn’t anything in it for you.

8. When customers or prospects search for you on LinkedIn, you want to make sure they can’t find you. And if they do, you want to make sure that your personal profile and company page don’t tell them anything of value. 

9. You know for a fact that none of the 150 million people on LinkedIn are your customers or prospects.

10. You know that LinkedIn is adding 2 people every second (up from 1 person a second a year ago) but those people probably won’t ever want to buy anything anyway. 

11. You don’t want to share your personal and professional brand with people because that would be bragging. Even though they want to know. Everyone knows that, in business, it’s always better to not give people what they want.

12. You don’t want to know more about people that you are doing business with or would like to do business with.

13. You believe, with all of your heart, that there is no value in keeping up with what is going on in your professional network (such as new business deals, new hires, new products and services, etc.).

14. You have all the business you will ever need and aren’t interested in generating more.

15. You prefer to limit your prospecting and sales activity to the two networking groups you belong to and the five coffees and lunches you try to set up each week.

16. You don’t see any value in updating your LinkedIn status regularly to tell your professional network about things that may help them. 

17. You think tools like LinkedIn aren’t fundamentally changing the way business is done.

18. You don’t want your employees spending time on a tool that can help enhance your brand, your reach, and open up the lines of communication. 

19. You don’t want to find talented people to work for you or get recommendations from people that they are connected to on LinkedIn. A two-page resume and a 1-hour interview give you all you need to make a $50,000 decision. 

20. You think you’ve done your job on LinkedIn by having an “ok” profile “just so you’re out there” and see nothing wrong with having a LinkedIn inbox full of invitations and messages you haven’t responded to. 

If you made it through the whole list, THANK YOU. What do you think?

Galvmet

“With Blue Gurus help, we were able to switch to a WordPress web site quickly and affordably. We have worked with Jason Terry for a long time and trust him for guidance in technical situations.  We were telling him about some of the issues we were having with our old web site.  Specifically, our inability to control the content on our own.  Jason explained how easy it is to update content using a WordPress based web site and we decided to move forward immediately.  We couldn’t be happier at the ease and convenience, in addition to the significant drop in expense for upkeep.”
– Steve Ketcham, Sales and Marketing Manager

I met Irene Brooner through my Vistage Key Group. We had known each other for years through this group when Irene asked if we could help update the look and feel of their web site. Irene also wanted to utilize LinkedIn and blogging to help educate their customers.  I also knew Ernie Ketcham, the owner of Galvmet, through the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program.

During the project, I worked with Ernie’s son, Steve Ketcham, the General Manager at Galvmet, to create the new site.

Steve really enjoyed how easy it was to add content to the new WordPress site and saw the value in being able to provide weekly stories on their site and through social channels to educate their customers about what is going on in their business….and how they can help.  Soon after Steve realized that the weekly grind of publishing and sending out content was something he’d rather have Blue Gurus do, so each week Steve creates the stories and has Blue Gurus find pictures, proof the content and publish the posts for Galvmet.

Since the launch of the web site, Blue Gurus also created a custom MailChimp email template and helps Galvmet send out weekly and monthly newsletters to their customer base.

Click here to visit galvmet.com

Why You Should Consider Migrating to Google Apps [VIDEO]

Time for another video blog update from Blue Gurus!  The topic this week is our recent switch to Google Apps.  We did this for many reasons ranging from features to price.  Watch the video for more on why, and below the video I have included some important links that I mentioned.  I would love to hear from you if you are using Google Apps, and if you have any great tips or tricks to share that I could include in a future video!

 httpv://youtu.be/XFcKs28WCEI

Important links:
Umzuzu – Kansas City based, Google Premier SMB Partner that did our migration from Hosted Exchange to Google Apps
Rapportive – Excellent social plugin for Gmail (recently bought by LinkedIn), hover over a person and see their social media info from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
Backupify – Google Apps backup solution for $3/user/month, recommended by Umzuzu as well

An Unedited Email Exchange With My Friend: Social Media As The New Water Cooler

This morning as I was starting to work on my blog post for the week, I got an email from a great friend of mine who I’ve known for 26 years. He told me a couple of weeks ago that he was picked to be a part of an internal group at his company to look at the feasibility of building a social networking platform within the company. 

I had to laugh when I got the email because, out of all of my friends, he is the one that probably uses social media the least. He isn’t one of the 850 million people on Facebook (he checks his wife’s account from time to time, but takes some sense of pride in not having one of his own). He is also the consumate “devil’s advocate” (which, when used honestly, is an awesomely valuable skill).

So I’ve been sending him articles and things that I think may help as he and the new “internal social media task force” discuss whether an internal social network makes sense for their company.

I sent him this link from Forbes.com as one example (This is a GREAT read by the way, so if you don’t have time to read it today, save it for a rainy day): How LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter Have Changed The ROI of Leadership

His response back to me is what you would expect from any good Devil’s Advocate (or Business Owner, C-Level, etc. for that matter): 

“Interesting article but not a lot of meat. It came down to the last sentence and left you with no insights to what that means. I’m still waiting to see how “social media” is effectively used internally. Profiles, blogs, forums, messenger, email all available. My company has marketing people that use social media to market our brands to the consumer. Where is the value internally?”

My UNEDITED response to him is below. After you read it, I want to hear what YOU THINK. Share your comments wherever you would like..in the comments section below, or on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook if you saw the article there. I really do want to hear from you and get a “pulse” of where people stand on this. 

“I think social media internally has the opportunity to break down barriers, office politics, help start to change culture, increase communication lines, etc. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but a commitment to it can help drive change from “we’re all just employees and coworkers” to something bigger….that we are all in this together..that we all care about each other and about the mission of the company….and that we feel like we know who the people are we work with instead of just knowing that they are people that we work with….

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head….but it takes commitment, effort, a willingness to change, and a belief that doing things the way you’ve always done them isn’t going to work long term….Gen Y as one example WANTS and craves that engagement….they want to be social with coworkers inside and outside of the office….and if you have a more engaged employee base internally, I believe it will translate into happier employees, working for a larger purpose, etc….and that will lead to a more successful company in the long run…
 
But it’s not a quick fix…it’s not “just something to try”….it’s a commitment to real culture change….and I would argue most companies will fight that until they no longer can…until they can’t find people that want to work for them  because they are looking for more than a paycheck (and that is Gen Y and a few of us in Gen X)…
 
I read awhile back that a large percentage of Gen Y’ers wouldn’t work for a company that blocked access to Facebook….Think about that…you think they are going to be looking for more social workplaces in the years to come? They already are….”

A Few Questions For The CEO That Says “We Need To Be All Over Social Media”

I’ve heard from more than one person that has called to learn about Blue Gurus and what we do that their CEO/Owner/Manager/Fill In The Blank Leadership Person has told them “We need to be all over social media!”

It always makes me chuckle a bit because I wonder what prompted him or her to make that statement and I’ve been around long enough to know how many knee jerk decisions don’t ever get implemented.

So if you get that question, you can be politically correct and say “Great, boss! That’s exciting! Let’s do it!” . But once you are done with that, you really should start asking some questions that don’t always have easy answers, such as: 

1. WHY? (the most important and underutilized question in business today)

2. What do you mean when you say we need to be “all over social media”? 

3. How often, or do you even use, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?

4. What do you think being “all over social media” will do for the company?

5. Are you ready for, and committed to, the entire company undergoing a massive culture change? (Social media absolutely, positively is tied to changing the culture internally and externally. And in most organizations, a real “culture check review” hasn’t happened in a long time…or ever.)

6. Who do you think in the company needs to be involved in this social media effort? Why? (there’s that question again)

7. What do you think social media is all about?

8. Are you committed to executing the social media plan that we come up with, even if that could mean redistributing workload, adding staff, changing processes, and more?

9. Do you understand that you don’t just start “doing social media” and sales come flying in the door?

10. Do you think you will start writing blog articles and that your audience (who you likely haven’t been communicating to consistently for years) is going to read everything you post and then pick up the phone and want to buy?

11. How long are you committed to doing this?

12. Do you realize that the concept of ROI with social media is still being debated? (clearly not as many businesses would be engaged in social media if there wasn’t ROI, but getting your arms around the fact that much of the ROI isn’t measurable is the hard part for most C-level types).

Once you get the answer to those questions, then you’ll really know if your CEO/Owner/Manager/Fill In The Blank Leadership Position is really ready to “be all over social media” or if this will go in the pile of “great ideas that we were never fully committed to”. 

Video Used More In 2012: Check Out Jason’s First Effort!

Part of what Jason and I do every day in our roles as Social Media Coaches is consuming information. Not only do we like to, but we HAVE to because the world of social media changes at an unbelievably fast pace.

New social media platforms are popping up every day (Google+, Pinterest, etc.) and it’s our job to determine which of these may “stick” (and have the potential for adding value to our clients) and which are just platforms that superusers get excited about because they provide competition to “the Big 3″…Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

One thing I have believed for awhile now is that video is going to continue to grow in popularity. Many of you may know already that YouTube is the #2 ranked search engine (behind Google, which, not so ironically, owns YouTube).

We’ve seen numerous articles and videos over the last 2-3 years that have been predicting the increased use of video and some larger companies/brands have already done it (Does the Old Spice guy ring a bell?). We believe that 2012 is the year when video will play a larger role in the content marketing strategies of companies…both large and small.

I’ve talked to Jason about this numerous times over the last year and so he dove in and made this short video below. Take a look and let us know what you think. You are going to see a lot more video from Blue Gurus in 2012 and we’re excited to share our thoughts and expertise in a more “live” setting.

If you have trouble viewing the video, click this link.