Category Archives: social media
When I attended school we had number 2 pencils, college ruled lined paper and very heavy books. My son, now in the 9th grade, has an iPad with interactive eBooks and apps and a Learning Management System (LMS) called Sch oology.
There are some other amazing tools, too, and I plan to write entries on some of them in other posts. In this post I am going to discuss Schoology. There are other LMS solutions available. Schoology is the LMS used by my son’s school and it is one of the most popular ones available. Schoology is a free web-based learning management system (LMS) built on a social network. The “free” may have something to do with its popularity, but many schools are opting for the paid iteration for its additional features.
So what the heck is an LMS and why do schools use them?
Think of ERP and CRM in businesses — big applications that put out tentacles into all the various departments to link processes together for efficiency. That is precisely the thinking being LMS for schools. Students who login to Schoology through the internet (browser) or through an iPad app see a list of their classes and assignments which may be due. Teachers can upload assignments for the students to access, and the student can do the work in an app on the iPad and then choose to save it to the Schoology “dropbox” (a cloud storage area) where the teacher can retrieve it. No more lost homework!
No excuse of “I forgot what my homework was” either.
Students can also share files and create messages (ala Facebook) on a school topic for discussions.
A nosy mom (like me) can check to see what my son is assigned and if he has turned it in yet.
From a teaching perspective Schoology helps with course creation and teacher management tools, too.
It just amazes me the tools my son has as a part of his life to help him learn and grow in his education. It really is a tech world!
When you get right down to brass tacks making money means selling something PROFITABLY. I capitalize the word “profitably” because far too many become enamored of acquiring new customers or up-selling existing ones, but they don’t keep the eye on whether they really are making money or if the cost of goods sold (COGS) means a loss of money.
The only time you should ever lose money on a sale is when you do so consciously. It may well be that to garner a “marquee” name customer who can be referenced to encourage others in a given industry to buy from you sell something at a loss. When and if you do lose money on a sale you should do so with eyes wide open aware that it is a sales tool itself to gain more profitable sales.
We’re all here to make money, and if you do not know the cost of making a sale odds are you are losing money.
Tools to keep you informed are many: from financial software to manage your “books” which include ERP (enterprise resource plannng) and CRM (customer relationship management). We’ve discussed a few of these tools in this blog — tools aimed at start-ups, mid-size companies all the way to the Fortune 100 — tools which can help you make money profitably if used appropriately.
Which brings me (finally) to the topic of this blog: software that helps you optimize your CRM sales funnel.
A sales funnel is the concept that to make one sale you must have X number of sales “leads” (potential customers) who become “suspects” (research shows they could use your offer) lined up that you can target and then winnow them down to “prospects.” Prospects are qualified businesses who could benefit from your offers — whether they know it or not. They have budget, they have a need and you can help them meet their own goals. The key in funnel management is to turn those prospects into customers — and in each step of the sales process of many “suspects” you will find only a few “prospects” and even fewer of them will turn into customers.
Even in the age of social media you still have to identify potential customers and somehow you need to make them aware that you have a service or a product they will find valuable. . . the methods for reaching them may be changing, but the fundamentals remain the same.
There is a very old saying in the computer industry — about as old as the industry itself. Surely you have heard the term GIGO (garbage in / garbage out). You must fill your sales funnel, but if you fill it with lots of names that do not have the potential to be a customer your “funnel management” is poor and your sales profitability will also be low.
To acquire profitable customers (new ones) or even identify what you can up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers you must have a way of identifying qualified leads from the very beginning. Cisco (the leading communications vendor) credits a company named eTrigue with increasing their SMB (small / medium business) sales appointments by 25% through just such pinpoint targeting of potential customers.
Linda Fassig-Knauer, (a Cisco marketing programs manager) is the one making the claim about eTrigue and 3Marketeers (advertising, marketing, and demand generation/lead generation) for better lead generation:
“eTrigue Intelligent lead scoring helps us determine which technology or offer the prospect is most interested in discussing with our sales teams and enables us to funnel those leads in a timely manner to our call center, who ultimately sends to our channel partners,” says Fassig-Knauer, “The information in eTrigue lead scoring gives us three times the information so our call center agents are much more prepared before a call. It also greatly increases the number of prospects we can identify as being interested in a solution because the system does not require the customer/prospect to register.”
Salesforce.com CRM users can view active prospects in eTrigue’s demand generation application within Salesforce — making it easy to use for sales reps. eTrigue won an award from DemandGen for its work with Cisco.
Given the fact that the economy is still slow you need to find a way to do more with less. Your sales reps need to be more efficient than ever. Tools like the cloud based SaaS (software as a service) Salesforce.com teamed with a demand generation tool like eTrigue can fill your funnel with a higher number of better-qualified leads faster, less expensively and with fewer resources.
You need to identify suspects and then you need to pinpoint target valuable information to them (using CRM with integrated email campaign tools and social media tools as well as the good old fashioned telephone!). Doing more with less in these times means working smart with inexpensive but highly valuable tools. Take a cue from Cisco and from Codice Software, who saw a 225% increase in qualified leads, and a 50% increase in actionable sales leads when it used eTrigue. Response rates went up by 160% versus the same period the prior year.
Another customer, Silver Peak, generated 30% more programs without additional staff. The cost is much lower than hiring more people — although if you get enough good leads you may need to put more feet on the street!
If you are using Salesforce.com I highly recommend that you take a look at eTrigue and see if automating your sales funnel demand generation makes sense.
I’ve been feverishly working away on designing a new personal website (well, sort of personal — I’m branching out and providing social media consulting along with the CRM / data warehouse consulting I normally provide). I’ve experimented with various inexpensive ways to go “live.” I found that I could register my domain for a year at GoDaddy for one penny — a special promotion. This saved about $9. (I’m notoriously cheap).
Then I checked around for shared hosting. I know I can host it myself, and given my technical background probably should — but I just don’t want the hassles right now. I did a lot of research and decided that Hostgator sounded both inexpensive and fairly good as far as up-time, response time and so forth. I found a one month trial deal, also for a penny. That is expiring soon, so I don’t know if I’ll stay there. I can get a one year deal for around $5 a month which isn’t bad — and Hostgator has been really great support wise. . . so I need to decide soon.
Lots of people on the internet “pitch” Hostgator because they get PAID if you sign up through them. I’m not one of them. This is not a paid advertisement. My opinion of them is that they are fine and I’ve had no trouble with them, but this is just my opinion.
I actually used their online chat a few times and they responded right away to fix a few things that were broken (like my domain transfer from GoDaddy not showing up). Very easy to do business with.
So if they’ve been so nice why not stay there?
I found a cool little shared host with a proprietary platform that offers a free web hosting service if you use their domain. The company is Wix and they have beautiful templates that are very (and I mean VERY) easy to modify. You can even add videos with a click of a button — no coding. I can host there with my own domain for about the same cost as Hostgator. So I am debating it.
My Hostgator site does not look that great. I am not a designer (OK, I’m very talented, but not when it comes to design!). You can see it if you want, but be forewarned that I am not proud of it. Check out my site, “It-SME.”
The Wix site looks nicer, although I’d appreciate feedback as to whether you like it or not. Maybe it is too “cutesy”? Here is a link to my Wix site.
Any way, not a lot of substance in this post, just a lot of “The interior defense dines under the sabotage.” which doesn’t make real sense. Just wanted to let you know I am busy — and when it comes to making money with technology, saving money is making money, too. If you are interested in setting up a website and want to know what coupons and deals are “out there” you should check out Retailmenot which lists coupons and such. I don’t see a current penny deal at GoDaddy, but here is the link for the current coupon codes for GoDaddy, found at Retailmenot.
I’ve noticed that Wix, Hostgator and other web hosts always have “deals,” so if you are looking for a host do check out the deals.
We make money or save money by providing value to others in a cost effective manner. Pretty simple, really. Technology can streamline the process and make us more efficient at a lower price point — but just as easily technology can be a massive time waster that actually costs us money.
Think of all those apps on Android and the iPhone that are games like Zombie Farm. Loads of fun, but not exactly productivity enhancers!
Which brings me to a recent blog on the Harvard site. The article discusses a study by Harvard which shows that employees are using social media including mobile technologies and video to improve how they do their jobs. These employees are solving your customer and business problems without permission from the information technology (IT) departments:
“In a survey of more than 4,000 U.S. information workers, we found that 37% are using do-it-yourself technologies without IT’s permission. LinkedIn, Google Docs, Smartsheet.com, Facebook, iPads, YouTube, Dropbox, Flipboard — the list is long and growing.”
Forrester Research even gives this trend a name: Technology Populism.
In a sense all this end user “power” is a good thing — people are not waiting for IT to solve problems. Technology like Facebook and other social media proves that if companies don’t take advantage of new technologies then customers WILL and this is not always good for companies. Many a corporation has been blind sided by consumers angry at faulty equipment or mishandled customer “service.”
Yet picture a large company with employees each “doing their own thing” technologically speaking. Fairly soon will we not have misinformation from our own employees with videos on YouTube giving out erroneous “facts”? Will we have “stuff everywhere” and a common corporate value proposition (aka the corporate position) totally destroyed and misinterpreted by people who only see part of the picture?
I am reminded of the story of the blind men and the elephant. In this parable by Sufi Jalaluddin Rumi we are told that a group of blind men touch an elephant and then must describe the elephant. Each man feels a different part, but only one part and the result that no one describes the elephant as a whole, but each describes the animal differently based on one piece. One describes an elephant as long and thick like a boa constrictor — he feels the trunk. Another describes the elephant as long and skinny — he is describing the tail. Another says the elephant is flat like a stingray — he describes the ear, and so forth.
If our employees are using social media and other technologies to help “describe” our companies and our products / services are they knowledgeable enough of the whole — the goals and true strengths — to be helping the corporation, or is there wholesale chaos as each is so focused on one small part that they miss the elephant for the tail?
True enough there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle. Technology, particularly “Web 2.0” with smart phones and social media is here and will be part of our future if we deal with it or ignore it. Should we allow our employees to go off willy nilly and be empowered to “do their own thing” or should we try to build some rules around this wild west of technology? My contention is that in the end we will all meet somewhere in the middle. We cannot truly control all of our employees any more than we can control our customers (or our children). Yet, we must put some structure into place or we will face wholesale anarchy. Welcome to the new, brave new, world of technology.
Social media (the latest “techno-buzz term”) simply refers to people having conversations online. In the far away land known as “Web 1.0” the internet was one-way. You threw a website online or sent out emails and things were pretty simple. Customers would check out your website for information, and might call your contact center or send you an email. Ah, the good old days!
Social media (Facebook, Twitter. . .even YouTube) makes this seem quaint and old fashioned. In the world of Facebook a short comment is followed by other comments and pretty soon you have a town meeting going on. The vendor does not control the conversation — in fact no one controls it, not even the person who begins it! With 500 million users now on Facebook it is larger than the United States of America — and perhaps just as powerful in its own way.
This new phenomena of social media can be a power for good or for evil. It can help your business, or it can destroy you. Businesses today must learn to deal with it one way or the other — and to try to find a way to use it as a way to make money.
The first thing to realize is that if you take a used car sales approach to Facebook or its ilk you will fail miserably. Social media is all about the conversation and nothing turns people off faster than a sales pitch in the middle of a party. To get fans who “like” you and read what you post you must provide valuable information, hopefully in an interesting way! Doing this must be consistent — you may well have to hire an employee to manage your social media presence. My company provides training, consulting and even provides the social media “presence” for companies — but be forewarned that if you outsource to someone like me they still need to learn a lot about your company and stay in close contact with you. Why?
Because it is all about the conversation — and if there is no meat, no “there” there, you will quickly turn off anyone interested in you — and far from making money, you will soon start losing it to your competitors.
Content is king. To make money on Facebook, Twitter and the rest you must have content of value and you must provide this in a succinct fashion. You must post often (2-3 times a day on Twitter, at least daily on Facebook and 3-4 times a week on your corporate blog). Since this is a conversation, you must encourage “fans” (find them via your email databases and by posting in places your customers visit online). Respond to comments, good and bad — and do not be defensive.
Remember it is a CONVERSATION.
Some of the keys to success in Social Media are:
- Build a large and legitimate following by being informative and interesting;
- Respond to comments quickly and with substance
- Blog, Tweet and post frequently — but again it must be USEFUL information
- Monitor your social media communities — know what is working and what is not working
There are some great tools to help you manage multiple social media efforts, and to analyze how successful they are. You will most likely not see “over night” results, but over time your base and your sales will increase.
As social media grows (and the largest growth is in women 55-65!), the traditional marketing bases of newspapers, radio and television are losing customers and advertisers. Social media is a revolution. There are ways to thrive in the revolution, but it is not by playing the game the way you might have historically with press releases, TV ads and the like. The new world is all about loss of control and “the conversation.”