About two weeks ago I was invited to speak to 120 aspiring entrepreneurs at a workshop hosted by Prudential Malaysia under the RU Ready campaign, specifically targeted towards college / university students and young adults. It was an exciting opportunity as I always enjoy sharing with young people but yet a humbling experience to be speaking alongside two well established entrepreneurs, Candice Lee (Sales Director of Capital Asia Group) and Timothy Tiah (Co-founder of Nuffnang).
Speaking to young entrepreneurs always reminds me of the excitement of being an entrepreneur, especially when you’ve a new idea in mind. You just can’t stop thinking and talking about it with the intention to grow the idea and eventually commercializing it. However, any entrepreneur would tell you that the journey won’t be easy. It’ll be tough. That’s because…
Entrepreneurship isn’t science
One of the key attributes of an entrepreneur is to not fear failure, so much so that if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t cut it as an entrepreneur. It is a never ending journey of trial and error and what worked for Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs may not work for you, simply because there’s no one fixed formula to success in entrepreneurship.
Similarly, there is no fixed formula to social media success
In the excitement of establishing a new business as an entrepreneur, many approach social media as if it is the cure to business problems or the formula to a successful business. The thing is, entrepreneurs must remember that building your social media presence is similar to building a business. It takes time, commitment and dedication that grows through time.
Social media can be part of the cure or formula, but never THE cure or formula
Social networks are a gift to entrepreneurs. It is only until the introduction of social networks that entrepreneurs are able to start at a faster pace. Think about it – you’ve resources on blogs, video content on YouTube, and a whole world to explore and to be in contact with potential investors, partners or buyers via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Is there more?
This is the introduction to a 4-part series on social media for entrepreneurs so stay tuned for more!
Just a week ago I popped by a small restaurant just slightly away from town for dinner and managed to have a chat with a small restaurant owner. Somehow the conversation landed on the topic of Groupon – he loves it.
The restaurant owner insists that the proportion of the meals served during the campaigns have to be the exact proportion of how it is off-promotion, if not better. Customers can tell the difference – especially those that frequent you. Business owners should not opt for a cheaper alternative just because of a lower profit margin.
#2: Know How Much You Can Handle
If your restaurant operate 8 hours a day with a total of 40 seats and if each customer takes an average of 30 minutes per meal, you’re likely able to handle no more than 640 customers per day. And that’s if you operate back-t0-back without rest. This figure will let you know whether you’re able to take in X amount of reservations daily. This restaurant owner drew up a reservation chart to make sure he does not overdo it. By doing so, he will be able to operate at full capacity, yet maintain the quality and service efficiency.
#3: Know Your Limits
If the number of customers flooding your store isn’t a concern, how about the number of staff on duty? He pointed out a valid point – the more customers you have, the more manpower you’ll need and that will cost you money. If that still isn’t a concern, think about the workload – will your staff be able to handle two, three, or even four Groupon campaigns back-to-back? Give them (and you) a break…
#4: And Measure Your Results
The simplest method suggested is to give out vouchers for their next visit. Have them printed with unique codes / colors so you can track which campaign your customers are coming back from.
Have you purchased a deal on Groupon or similar sites? What is your experience with the businesses running the campaigns?
In case you’re wondering – this site also reveals part of my happenings in life, injecting a little bit more flavour to the site as a whole; something lighter than the usual information dosage, especially for the weekend :)
It has been a really busy week and it would seem that it will only get busier all year long! It has already been almost a month since I started lecturing part time and it has been fun thus far (except for the preparation of exam papers). Somehow attending classes as a student seemed like a drag but it is the other way round when given the opportunity to share – or maybe it’s just me – the opportunity to share with the students, future entrepreneurs, is really something :)
The project for the largest chocolate retailer in Malaysia just went full swing! We are now in the midst of compiling photos of yummy chocolates to first work on the website. The website is usually the first apparent change for a online positioning project after thorough investigation and discussions with the company’s stakeholders. Websites today should be compatible with all modern browsers, mobile devices and for a chocolate business – pictures, pictures and more pictures!
With over 300 different types of chocolate, it’s gonna take some time to have them all up. Fancy a Hot Chilli Dark Chocolate, anyone?
A couple of projects were also launched in the past week including the 2nd Malaysia’s Online Fashion Entrepreneurs’ Weekend! Going beyond last year’s success, MOFEW 2011 is gearing up for twice the size, twice the fun and twice the exposure – once again being the largest gathering of online fashion entrepreneurs in Malaysia to highlight the online fashion scene and the people behind the industry. Check out the promotional video:
To think of it, it is only the beginning of March – a whooping 9 more months to end 2011 with a big bang! It’s definitely a busy year with more projects in the pipeline but it’s gonna be great!
Recently I’ve been noticing more and more companies here in Malaysia putting a barrier around their employees, preventing them from accessing social media tools within the premise. While some go about a complete ban, some left room for the marketing department to roam about freely.
Is that a good move?
It is fully understandable that social media tools especially Facebook, Twitter and blogging can be a huge time waster at work. Employees may be playing games, chatting away or busy updating their personal blogs instead of being ‘productive’ at the workplace. It’s no wonder why companies have to resort to a complete ban.
However, it is also interesting to note that some of these companies are supposedly customer centric, saying that they listen to their customers and etc but at the same time, staying out of social media. Strange indeed.
Blogs (social media) doesn’t get people fired, people get people fired. – Deb Schultz, Altimeter Group
To me, social media should not be banned in a company at all. Instead, companies should establish clear guidelines on how social media can be used. Companies such as Dell takes social media very seriously and goes to the extend of training their employees in this area and they have been utmost successful.
IBM takes a different approach by allowing their employees to write their social media policy for them. Sounds absurd? Not really, considering the fact that since the employees will be the ones using social media, they should be the ones setting the guidelines. In fact, they are more likely to keep to it if they formed it themselves. Plus giving your employees this liberty may cultivate an innovative culture in your company.
Some companies don’t even have rules to regulate social media usage. They simply let their employees do what they like, as long they perform in the end.
So.. What’s the Conclusion?
There is really no hard and fast rule in implementing / regulating social media in a company. I really do prefer both Dell and IBM’s way of doing it but it also depends on your comfort level as a business owner in the industry. Remember, social media can act as both an asset and a liability to your brand. Experiment with techniques and find out what’s best for your environment – social media only works when you try.
So you’ve seen the benefits of Twitter and now wanting to be part of the Twitter community but have no idea how to? If you’re absolutely new to Twitter, check out this step-by-step video on how to create your very own Twitter profile for your business:
Congrats with your Twitter account! With that covered, we will now be looking at some real life implementations on how business have use Twitter to their advantage:
Levi’s knew what they wanted to do and achieve with Twitter. They wanted to target the young male demographic which eventually led towards hiring Gareth as the @levisguy to share behind-the-scenes stories at Levi’s events and updates on new products.
Why is that so significant? Levi’s knew what it takes to create a bond, a connection with their fans. By hiring someone in the same demographic, he will be able to speak the same language the fans speak, allowing him to spur conversations about topics that matter to them, such as the latest fashion trends – without being awkward.
2. Dell Outlet
Dell understood what they need – they need a tool to get the word out fast due to their nature of business. They went on Twitter and have not turned back ever since. On Twitter they realized that people are interested in talking to them, asking questions and sharing their experiences, both good and bad.
“Offering relevant information that people are interested in is key.” – Stephanie Nelson, Dell (Austin)
With that, Dell now concentrates on interacting with people while keeping deals to a minimum to avoid spamming. Those are not ordinary deals though, they are exclusive, Twitter-only deals which has received very positive response having booked more than $3 million in revenue attributable to its Twitter posts. They minimized promotions with their followers in mind but offered exclusive deals whenever a post is due – 2 birds in 1 stone.
This is perhaps my most favorite integration of Twitter in a business! Unlike other examples, CoffeeGroundz is an independent coffee shop in Houston that sells a variety of locally roasted coffee, tea, pastries, sandwiches and the likes. Being new to Twitter, it took J.R. Cohen (General Manager) awhile to grow the number of followers on Twitter organically – and that changed everything.
Cohen took Twitter 1 step further by asking his followers from Houston to “come into the store and ask for J.R.” He will then take the opportunity to meet with each and every patron who asked for him by name! He created an opportunity to strengthen his bond with his followers, going beyond mere online interactions.
“This is what social media is meant to be.” – J.R. Cohen
What makes things even more interesting is that in 2008, one of CoffeeGroundz’s regular customers requested to place a ‘to-go’ order for a breakfast wrap. It is argued that Sean’s request for an order ‘to-go’ was the first of its kind on Twitter. And because Cohen is an avid user of Twitter, was able to reply quickly to Sean’s requests. With this reply, he implemented a whole new way to place and receive an order online, reserve tables and book the place – through Twitter’s DM service. How awesome is that?
4. DiGi Telecommunications
Sad to say that there are only a handful of great Twitter integrations in business back here in Malaysia. Businesses here seem more inclined towards Facebook but here is one that caught my attention – DiGi is seen using Twitter primarily to receive feedback, complains, questions and to provide support to their customers. In some cases, I was told that DiGi also offers special compensations and exclusive offers to dissatisfied customers on a case-by-case basis.
Apart from that, it also acts to humanize the brand by interacting with their followers by posting birthday wishes and replying to what others are saying about the brand which definitely adds a human touch to the brand.
Hopefully the above examples are able to give you some idea and insights on how you can get started on Twitter. Remember that it takes time to get it right so don’t be too worried if you’re doing it wrong or disappointed with the initial results.
If you’re sitting there thinking that Twitter is not suitable for your business
or your customers / prospects are not on Twitter and never going to be on Twitter, you should really take 4 minutes off your time to check out this video:
On the other hand, if you are having trouble thinking of running out of things to Tweet, I recommend reading this post here by @AskAaronLee, a social media addict with tons of experience and things to share about Twitter. I’m sure his post will help you just fine :)
Do you have an example that you would love to share? I would most definitely want to hear from you!
A couple of weeks back we looked at how Facebook can be integrated into today’s businesses as an effective engagement platform. This time round, we’ll be looking at a famous micro-blogging tool called Twitter. Bear in mind that neither Facebook nor Twitter can cancel each other out – they each have their own unique advantages in which you may want to use to YOUR advantage.
Though Twitter only allows 140 characters per update (called a Tweet), Twitter is now second to Facebook in terms of it’s usage. People seem to get along with Twitter pretty well as it is simple and straight to the point, unlike Facebook where distractions are aplenty. If you haven’t heard, Twitter is said to have about 2.1 million new users per week – a huge pool of potential opportunities you would not want to miss (click for interesting stats).
If you’re still scratching your head at this point, check out this simple video explaining Twitter in plain English:
Now that you’ve grasp the concept of Twitter, let’s look at 3 areas on how Twitter can benefit you and your business:
1. Collaboration and Networking
Twitter is a great way of keeping in touch with contacts and obtaining new contacts. This is simply because you (and others) can easily look up fellow users that have the same interest / industry by searching keywords that relates to you and your business. Do it right and these networks can eventually lead to new ideas, collaborations and even partnerships that can be beneficial to both you and your business!
2. Personality and Connectivity
For some reason, Twitter is seen to be a morehuman approach as compared to blogs and Facebook pages. It adds a human touch to your brand and a face to your business. With Twitter, businesses can now engage in conversations directly with their followers and listen to their tweets – which is priceless to a business. You’ll now get to hear what your followers (if you follow back) are doing, what are they talking about, where they are heading to and etc, allowing you to get to know your followers better.
Remember on Facebook pages, you won’t know what’s happening to your followers if you don’t add them as a friend on your personal account(which you may not want to do so).
3. Research Tool
I must say that Twitter is an excellent research tool for your business and equally informative as Google. How so? Twitter is able to show results of conversations (Tweets) regarding your keyword from all over the world! You can also gain insights to trending topics globally to see what the world is Tweeting about.
Imagine looking up keywords that relates to your business – you may find interesting Tweets talking about their needs, their wishes, feedbacks, rants, competitor’s product and etc. Yes, you’ve gained access to voices from real people across the globe!
We will once again be looking at some examples on how Twitter is implemented in businesses worldwide along with some real tips on how you can do it too!
As promised, this post reveals some real-life implementation and integrationof Facebook into brands and businesses worldwide along with tips on how you can implement them yourself! If you missed out our discussion and tips in using the infamous Facebook as part of your business, you definitely need to look up Part 1 here.
To set the pace of integrating your business in social media, take a look at the video below first (yes, even if you’ve seen it before)!
1. Customer Attraction: Getting the “Likes”
Everyone goes through this humbling phase of starting up. You’ve just created your very first Facebook fan page for your brand / business with only you being a fan of yourself. You turn to your friends in your personal profile and have invited them to “like” you.. and it stops there. Why is that so? You are NOT commanding attention.
Let’s take a look at Redbull. Instead of showing off wall posts, company information and whatnot to non-fans, Redbull implemented a very simple strategy to their page to command attention from the prospect as seen to the left – a simple, straight forward “call-to-action” image, and they are not the only ones doing it: Levi’s is also seen applying a similar strategy as well!
This, is what they call a Fan-only Facebook content – exclusive contents using Facebook’s ‘Tabs’ functionality. It can be inside scoops, special discounts, participate in discussions, take part in contests and more!
The key to a powerful landing page on Facebook is: Less. Yes, less is more! Do not confuse prospects with too many things going on. Consider being like Redbull – You definitely can’t miss what they want you to do; or like Levi’s – indicating the exclusive benefits you receive by ‘liking’ their page!
Writing a sales pitch on the landing page is a big no-no. Do you really want to advertise your product / services to a prospect on Facebook? It doesn’t work that way on social media. How so? People come to you for a reason – to learn / to browse / to connect / to question / to feedback / to suggest / to complain / to win / to receive and NOT to be sold to.
“Understanding the needs and wants of your potential fans is vital. If unsure, start by asking existing followers what would interest them and take it from there. Remember, that’s co-creation.”
Taking a look at an example closer to home, Project One & Only is an online pageant competition in Malaysia using Facebook as their primary platform to screen through participants, communicating with them and the fans that are eager to know of the results. Incepted in June 2010, they managed to break the 5-figure mark within mere 18 days, now close to 30,000 fans and still growing!
The secret behind this campaign? Attraction. Project O&O’s target are college / university students and they created something that would appeal to them by “making them famous” through this ongoing search in which the winner will undergo makeover sessions, participate in fashion shoots, special features on magazines and more.
In short, they hit the spot among their target market and results were generated instantly.
Not to forget, the Malaysia’s Online Fashion Entrepreneurs’ Weekend, a first-time offline event with over 90% of marketing done through social media alone, utilizing Facebook as their primary engagement platform. MOFEW recognized a niche and a need among the local online fashion scene and proceeded to put together an occasion for like minded individuals to gather and to highlight their entrepreneurial insights to the mass public starting on Facebook, then to an on-ground event. With over 10,000 fans gathered within less than 6 weeks, MOFEW manage to draw 0.5 million hits on the official site, ranked #1 on Google and successfully ran a 3-day offline event with 40,000 attendees from Malaysia and beyond (see official report here).
2. Customer Engagement: From “Likes” to Action
“Your fans are with you for a reason. Keep your focus on them, show them some brand love!“
You may have a very big fan base but with a low engagement rate, your fans may just be sitting there and some may have even forgot about your existence. Apart from feeding them with contents and getting to respond, here are some businesses did to ‘kick’ their fans into action:
Starbucks in the US launched a “Free Pastry Day” campaign, an event page on Facebook and there were more than 600,000 confirmed ‘attendees’ to the event! The news were spread all over Facebook through sharing and automatically triggered co-promotion for the brand / event. How did that happen? They started with their fans – Since the “Free Pastry Day” was first made known through Facebook, their immediate fans were the first to know about the news. At that time, Starbucks had about 3.6 million fans and the news were automatically shared across the network, because the fans were excited.
“Starbucks gave their fans a reason to follow them. The reward? In this case, free pastries for those that came by. How’s that for customer engagement?“
Another F&B brand in the US – Dunkin Donuts is often seen throwing co-creation opportunities to it’s fans. Dunkin Donuts launched the “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” competition in 2009 and managed to generate more than 130,000 donut submissions at 174,000 votes! Fans were asked to create their own virtual donut with the available ingredients, complete with a donut name and story behind the creation. The grand prize winner will have their donut sold in stores for a limited time! What did Dunkin Donuts achieve? An avenue for their brand to get their fans involved; and from the business aspect, they saw positive response in donut sales during the promotion period.
The competition was so successful that they did it again in 2010 and here is the winner:
“Having freebies and contests are one of the simplest form of customer engagement with a huge response potential. In fact, Dunkin Donuts continues to get fans involved as we speak through a video contest here. How’s THAT for customer engagement?“
This is NOT the end!
The above examples are just some of the many out there that has made it on Facebook on different levels. Not everyone can make it to the Starbucks level, but one can definitely make it somewhere. Once again, remember Co-Creation and Co-Promotion – strategize your Facebook presence around that with some effort and commitment, and you’ll be on your way to a good start.
We will continue to look at more integrations of social media into your business / brand BUT BEFORE THAT, stay tuned to Part 3, the final yet VERY IMPORTANT bit of integrating Facebook in your business!
We will be looking at:
The risk of having your fan page shut down by Facebook
Therules and regulations you may not have read that prohibits promotions(e.g. contests and promotions) on Facebook
Most people today have a personal Facebook account and spend loads of time on it, be it on games or merely page / profile hopping, engaging with other users online. Millions of users access Facebook on a daily basis and this also means that Facebook has a potential ready market of millions to be accessed by your brand and you just need to be a part of this huge global network. What you need to do is to merely find ways to tap into it.
The good news? Facebook is nowhere near in pulling their brakes. They are here to stay, continually innovating their services and recently seen wanting to integrate deeper into the mobile devices, tying in with Android operating systems. Just so you know, Facebook’s actual value is reported to be a whooping $23 billion (Forbes) and $33 billion by The Financial Times! The bad news?Having a Facebook page alone isn’t going to get you anywhere – it is only the beginning.
To start things off, take a look at the video below:
1. You’ll need a plan.
Yes, social media IS business thus requiring a strategy to truly succeed. Start by setting goals for your Facebook page followed by specific tasks on how to achieve them. You may want to look at:
1. How many ‘likes’ to gain by end of the year?
2. How often will you be able to contribute to the page? (e.g. at least 3 days a week / videos / images)
3. How would you want your followers to interact with you? (e.g. share your contents / provide feedback)
4. What is the final outcome for your page? (e.g. to drive traffic to your site / to receive suggestions)
5. Do you need a team to manage the page or an individual?
6. What do you need to do to achieve your goals?
2. Command attention.
Like it or not, in most situations, even the most valuable content you can ever provide will be ignored – yes, despite the traffic. How so? Simple:they are NOT paying attention to you. There are so many things happening on the screen: instant messaging, emails, Skype, daily news and if that’s nothing, do not forget the various happenings inside Facebook itself (e.g. wall posts, photos, videos, games and etc)!
Already sounding impossible? Not quite.
You’ll need a PULL, something that draws their attention to you. No, definitely not advertising because consumers today are immune to advertising. They know when to turn away when an ad starts playing and even the most annoying popups can deliberately be ignored without being seen! It has to be something that RELATES to them. This PULL can be exclusive contents, benefits, giveaways, outrageous offers and more!
Think of ways that will excite them. Some marketeers cleverly pack information into video presentations and aesthetically pleasing images – why? They know what relates and excites their followers: Videos and images definitely captures attention better than text. When it excites them, consumers are likely to share it across the social media. Once again, this is Co-Promotion through WORLD-of-mouth.
“Know what your customers are looking for. In social media, your followers comes first! Forget about getting new prospects – you’ll get stronger conversions with your followers on your side”
3. Stick to it!
Consistency is the key and this is perhaps the difficult part and determines the initial make or break. Most brand pages fail because they are unable to stick with what they have in mind. Either the management team is too bogged up with other work or they’ve given up after weeks of trying to no avail.
“Pages fail due to lack of commitment. Lack of commitment to the page is simply telling your customers – We don’t care“
Social media takes time, just like traditional businesses. You may hear stories of people making big money with social media over night but the truth is, most businesses can’t. This is where you may want to utilize your contacts, publicize your page on your official site, name cards, pamphlets, brochures, ads and etc to make use of your Facebook presence. You can hold discussions, get feedback, throw special promotions, contests and more to drive interest, traffic and participation to your page.
What’s in Part 2?
Real life implementation and integration examples of Facebook in businesses worldwide! You do not want to miss this! Stay tuned!
Want to know what took place behind the scenes leading up towards MOFEW 2010?
If you haven’t heard, the first ever Malaysia’s Online Fashion Entrepreneurs’ Weekend 2010 has held from the 13th – 15th August 2010 at the Mid Valley Exhibition Center (Hall 3) with a 3-fold objective to highlight the online fashion scene in Malaysia, to encourage online entrepreneurship and to encourage entrepreneurs in giving back to the society, and the crowd was HUGE! We had almost 40,000 visitors and for us, the project team to see the entire event come to life, it was definitely awesome and has marked the beginning of an even more successful and exciting MOFEW in the future!
Of course, the project team is also aware of various comments and feedbacks made, and we apologize if we were unable to meet up to your expectations as we also have our limitations and setbacks for this debut. Nevertheless, thank you for your feedbacks as it will indeed help us further our plans to make things even more enjoyable than it is now :)
Alright, back to the topic! The MOFEW idea came about in September 2009 as a very simple event for Online Fashion Entrepreneurs to collaborate with an established fashion boutique to showcase their wares and goodies. Through the planning however, the project team found the idea to be just another ‘event’, without any edge at all as we agreed that MOFEW will not be an event without depth and scalability. The idea was then scrapped and revamped into what it is today, a high level platform for Online Fashion Entrepreneurs to stand out and to be made known to the mass public, educating them on the presence of the online fashion scene.
With the idea at hand, it was time to secure the venue– we needed a location that can drive traffic, convenient, and big enough for a first time event to make an impression: the KLCC, PWTC or the MVEC? Wanting to hit the shopping crowd, MVEC was selected due to it’s strategic location, located within the Mid Valley Megamall itself! As expected, it came with a hefty price tag, a 6 figure amount with construction, electricity and a list of miscellaneous charges e.g security guards, cleaners and etc.
Time to work the costings! Wanting to keep rental affordable for participants, we also needed corporate partners to drive the event alongside us. Not just any partner, but those having the same vision with MOFEW– to impact the online fashion scene in Malaysia. With the help of our partners, each booth was priced significantly lower than the normal exhibition rates – only RM390 / 490 compared to RM3k to RM10k in most exhibitions!
To turn things up a notch, we launched the MOFEW iPhone App on iTunes over 92 countries and subsequently, collaborated with I.M. Magazine and Malaysian Today to go around universities (i.e. roadshows) to spread the word about MOFEW and to give out 30,000 Mysterious Markers as an invitation for MOFEW 2010. It is also about then where we launched MOFEW: The Search, a competition among the Online Fashion Entrepreneurs to determine who is the best of them all, putting both their fashion and entrepreneurial skills to test!
Then came 12th August 2010, the day where we laboured and toiled to put the entire exhibition together. I’ll let the video below do the talking for this one, courtesy of HooHaa.my:
With the construction done, then began MOFEW 2010 on the 13th August 2010!
Thank you all for making MOFEW 2010 happen! The project team members @briansiew, @isaaccheah, @randytoo and @sarahtym; Official photographers @feeqsays, @JonYKT, @xiangcool, @azrinarizz and Shutter Blaster; Official videographersHooHaa.my; Partners, sponsors, exhibitors, friends and everyone else that has been an awesome support!