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Business Trends-What Happened in 2011 and What’s Coming in 2012?

Trends of last year and coming yearAs someone who encourages business owners and decision makers to take a look at what is swirling around their businesses, it seems natural to take stock of what happened in 2011 and to take a guess at 2012.

What just happened? 5 of the many 2011 trends

1. Daily deals- This trend seemed to gain a lot of momentum in 2011. Many of the companies offering these deals got funding in 2011. Groupon, LivingSocial and have given both businesses and customers opportunities to meet one another. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a trend that is going away any time soon.

2. When I asked for trends from 2011,  Christina Giliberti of CG Online Marketing responded with enthusiasm on how video and podcasts grew in popularity over the year.

3. Another trend Giliberti pointed out was how local business groups formed groups to encourage support and business growth. One example of this is Small Business Can.

4. QR codes – Are you seeing these everywhere? I sure am. Some small businesses have them as part of their contact information and they are ubiquitous in print ads for all products. They may be abused as Jim Nichols posited in his post or maybe a transient trend.

5. Apps – Sticking with the theme of mobile devices, there are apps for everything and multiplying by the second! Amanda Webb of described them as the “new niche social networks.” Mobile applications like Instagram, Goodreads and iMapMyRun combine both an interest or activity with networking with others.

 What’s coming in 2012?

1.  Social media- This is a large topic but there are a couple of trends worth noting. Influence sites, such as Klout seem to be gaining currency as a measure of one’s expertise and ability to engage with others. Some people are even including their Klout score on their resumes.

2. Gamification is another social media trend of people adding games as a marketing tool. One example of this can be seen at Sage Ireland.

3. Another emerging trend is the shift from ownership to access to goods or services.  ZipCar, Airbnb and cloud services allow you to have something you want without the details of ownership.

4. But it’s not just marketing, goods or services or even social media that has emerging trends. The workplace has some changes that could very well become sticky in 2012. One trend that seems to be gaining ground is working remotely. As mobile devices and networking sites (including Skype) make it easier to stay connected to the office, collaborate with colleagues and get work done, more people will opt to work from home or other off-site locations. Deborah Busser has some other interesting predictions for 2012 in this post.

So what do you think?

In this week’s Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, we’re going to take a look back at 2011 and try to peer into the future of 2012. Please join us on Friday at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and share your observations.

Happy New Year!

What trends did you notice in 2011?

What trend surprised you the most?

What didn’t happen in 2011?

What do you see emerging in 2012?



Social Media – Can You Measure That?!

Business owners and decision-makers are used to reading financial reports to analyze the performance of their businesses. So, with all of the advice that businesses should be involved with social media, it seems logical to want to measure how it works. But what do you measure? And do these measurements mean anything?

So, if social media is about relationships, then…

You can say you’re using social media for marketing, customer relations or what have you. But you are really having a lot of conversations with a variety of people. So you spend time blogging, chatting with people on Twitter, posting interesting things on Facebook or answering questions on LinkedIn. You build up relationships but there must be some sort of purpose.

Is it about influence or sales?

In a lot of ways, using social media is a big experiment. There are those who try to game social media by finding certain keywords that attract people. So people will write posts about, say, Steve Jobs so you look at them.  And others use lists that increase the numbers of followers. It doesn’t appear that this is truly about influence so it’s got to be about money.

For the rest of us, it becomes more of a question if you’re seeking to be a thought leader or an expert in your field who shares valuable information. Either way, you are building trust with your friends, followers and fans. The people who tweet or post for you communicate your brand and people make associations with this.

What kinds of tools show that people trust you?

There are loads of tools! It’s mind-boggling, to be honest. Here are 10 that are interesting:

And there are even more tools not even named here. But…

What’s the point?

There are more than enough tools to measure whatever you want. You could monitor:

  • The frequency that your posts are shared
  • The methods used to share your posts
  • The number of friends, followers or fans
  • Your ability to reach beyond just your friends, followers or fans
  • All of the above

However, it all comes down to defining the purpose of your monitoring. The reasons you are using social media are your benchmarks for the  monitoring. It seems very clear that there is a lot to learn to make these tools useful to you. Identifying which tool (or tools) will serve your purpose triggers the question, “are these numbers meaningful?” Getting usable information that lead to goals in your business plan is paramount.

What are the most important things to look for when you’re monitoring social media?

Why is this information important?

When would you ignore data from your social media monitoring tool?

How would you describe the ROI of social media?

*Please join us on the Twitter chat on Friday, November 18th at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT to discuss “Social Media Analytics: Useless or Meaningful”


Filtering Social Media Advice

filtering bad social media adviceI’d say at this point most businesses of all sizes are using social media in one form or another. I know in the Twitter chat (#kaizenblog) that I host, we talk about social media and its uses quite a lot. And, truth be told, we are big fans. After all, we all met via a social media networking site.

But how do we know what works best? Who do we listen to? How do we know “they” are right? Valeria Maltoni has written posts about influencers and how to apply filtering questions that will help us determine if we’re getting snake oil or legitimate information. The other day, my friend, Danny wrote a post, Why We Can’t Give Up urging us to go forth and develop ourselves as influencers who have something worthy to share despite it seeming like an uphill battle.

Whether you’re a small business owner or in a larger organization and new to social media, it can be confusing to know how to use it effectively. We’re told so many things about how to use it and there are certain people who get  lots of attention. Yes, even in the virtual world, there seem to be people who are the “Popular Kids.” But do they deserve to be? There are several ways you can game social media but is that consistent with how you run your business usually? We post things on our blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to get people to notice us and our business. We want to attract new clients by positioning ourselves as experts in our fields. There is nothing wrong with that. Social media is a tool. The trouble lies in the crazy amount of hype that surround some of the so-called experts. We start wondering, “if I do what that person does, I can be big too?”

Some questions come to mind about filtering social media advice:

1.. What makes that person an expert in social media?

2. Does he/she (pick your favorite guru or the most recent favorite) give advice that fits my business?

3. Do I have the time/money/people/resources to do what the expert is telling me to do?

4. What will I gain from becoming an influencer?

5. What are uses for social media are there beyond marketing my business?

Can someone who is less flashy and has a message that resonates be just as good a resource as the “rockstar”?

So how do you weed out the influencers with the best advice on how to use social media?

*For this week’s Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, we’re discussing week’s “Social Media-Snake Oil, Noise & Filters” this Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT. I hope you can join us!


Top Business Trends of 2010-#kaizenblog recap

looking back at biz trends of 2010It’s really a simple question. What were the top business trends of 2010? I offered a list of 7 trends in this post (many thanks to Chanelle Schneider for responding to my tweet with suggestions) to get the conversation started. For this week’s chat on Twitter of #kaizenblog, we had a very cozy group. (A lot of our usual crowd was busy organizing, preparing and enjoying the Christmas holiday.)  Nonetheless, we tackled the job of looking at 2010 and seeing what trends stood out for us. To see the chat in its entirety, here is the transcript Transcript for #kaizenblog – BizTrends2010

What were the top trends for 2010? Judy Gombita led the way with her response, “A1 I think (or at least hope) that marketers are beginning to realize that social media is not meant for broadcasting messages.” This tweet led the way to an interesting conversation about how the use of social media morphed over the year. There seems to be some tension between talking to our customers and talking at our customers. Chanelle reminded us that broadcasting can miss certain target markets (Gen Y, for one) as they get turned off by the practice. Another trend that was noted was geolocation. This is when someone can post their actual location while sharing information on social medias sites.

The conversation about broadcasting spilled into our second discussion question, How did these trends shape business practices during the year? Judy Gombita noted that may of the Gen Y cohort send out broadcasting. Chanelle Schneider described how FourSquare “has us thinking that pushing LB updates is cool.”  However, M Zayfert explained, “#Geolocation very hot at start of 2010 then cooled. This led to a discussion that may foreshadow what might be coming in 2011. A number of people are noting that location-based posts may be intrusive to our privacy.

Another point that sparked discussion was Judy G’s point, “A2. To original answer, believe lots of CEO”s expected direct ( & fast) returns on social media investments regarding sales.” While it can’t be a blanket expectation that returns will be large or immediate, Tanja Ziegel put it into perspective, “Those biz already doing great customer service MAY see a fast returnfrom social media, not every biz will.” Perhaps one big trend in 2010 was the realization that social media is an effective tool for customer service as it give you a direct route to your customer.

Since trends often continue from one year to the next, the last discussion question asked, Which ones do you believe will continue in 2011? Parissa Behnia offered, “a3 virtual business partnerships…no need to “hire” someone if you work nicely together esp if you are diff states.” This seems to be very true as people use VoIP services, cloud computing and other resources that eliminate geographical obstacles.

 Before we knew it, the hour had passed and it was time to end the chat. There were many trends we didn’t get to take a look at but this could be your chance right now to continue the conversation.

What trends did you notice during 2010?

What kind of impact do you believe they had on business practices?

Which ones will last into 2011?


Ideas From Formula 1 Friends-Finding Your Community in Social Media

In the world of social media, there is a lot of talk about connections and engagement. It can be daunting to learn the best practices of each site and identifying who you are “supposed” to connect with. And then there are questions about why you are engaging in social media. Lois Martin of Lois Martin Marketing took a different approach to connecting with others and shared her wisdom with us on our Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. To begin the conversation, Lois wrote this framing post, “The Entrepreneur’s Toolbox: Finding Your Community in Social Media”

Lois Martin

Allow me to introduced you to our guest host-Lois Martin has worked in advertising, marketing and public relations throughout her career and opened her own firm in Atlanta in 2008. Her clients include financial and professional services firms, retailers, authors, distributors and motorsports teams. In addition to developing and managing campaigns and training sales teams, she helps clients effectively use social media. An avid writer and blogger, Lois develops content for companies and enjoys sharing business and personal insights through her own blog at In addition she is on the editorial staff of Formula 1 Blog ( and host of the weekly #F1Chat for Formula 1 fans on Twitter.

We talked about “Ideas From Formula 1 Friends: Finding Your Community in Social Media” and you can learn more about all of the side threads and the full conversation here in the transcript Transcript for #kaizenblog – IdeasFromF1FriendsFindingCommunityInSM

We began our conversation by asking, When choosing a community, how do you connect with the individuals in groups? This may seem like a basic question but keep in mind that different groups have their own norms and, occasionally, there can be cross-cultural considerations. Since Lois is the host for the Twitter chat, #F1Chat, she has met several people that have resulted in personal and professional relationships. As a model for our #kaizenblog conversation, she used examples from her chat. She commented, “Q1 What’s worked so well in our community is that we share a genuine interest in the sport and it’s non-business. It’s a nice break in the day and by chatting about a more personal interest it’s easier to to begin to get to know ea other/form bond.” One of Lois’ points during the chat was to include your interests and hobbies when you are choosing a community. This makes it easier to develop that marketing truism about “know, like and trust” as well as friendships.

  • Patrick Prothe “Re: Q1 – First by listening, getting to know their interests, pains and finding ways to offer value”
  • Ken Rosen “Q1 Existing communities certainly have a flow. Learning that first is natural EQ on or off line”
  • Debra Leitl “A1: We look for communities where we can answer online marketing questions.”
  • Judy Gombita “A1 It’s important to recognize not all members of community want to be “active” and share lots of info, esp. in early days”

Judy’s comment sparked an interesting side thread about lurkers (an awful word for someone who is ‘listening’ to a conversation within social media). Patrick Prothe shared a statistic that 95% of participants are lurking. The consensus for this side thread was to invite but not force people to join in when they are ready. This certainly makes sense as we can send private messages or emails to someone we want to know more about or simply share what we’ve learned with others.

What interests or hobbies would you like to share and explore with others? Lois shared with us a brief explanation that she is a Formula 1 racing fan. Her interest led to developing the #F1Chat and the participants have created a community as a result. She also reminded us “Q2 Think abt how biz is conducted on golf course. Same premise — deeper connections may be formed thru a shared interest.” Amber Cleveland offered a great example, “A2 I’m open to sharing many interests/hobbies like reading, social media, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, wine, shopping…”

Since we have a number of non-US participants in our #kaizenblog community, I got curious about how engage with people in other countries through social media. I tweeted, “It’s not ususual to have participants outside of US participate in #kaizenblog. How does that affect convos?” Lois responded, “I have won and referred biz opps outside of US. PR and marketing projects went well via e-communication and Skype”

  • kerriereio “How 2 connect w/ppl in other countries: go where they go online…invest in them and try to understand them before you try to make them understand you!”
  • Chanelle Schneider “I think the dominant group tends to forget that certain words/phrases don’t have the same meaning”
  • Shashi Bellamkonda “Twitter is a great way to connect to bloggers from other countries”

To illustrate more clearly what finding your community could look like, we asked What are your success stories? Lois used herself as an example, “Q3 Sponsor as well as team management connection for the racing drivers I represent, plus addl biz opps for me and my firm”

  • David McGraw “A3: I am a success story. I lurked. I contributed w/o engagement. I changed the way I participated. Got more precise w/ lang.”
  • kerriereio “My success story is how I’ve met @LoisMarketing @StatesmanF1 @F1UnitedStates and grown @austingrandprix in 6 short months!”
  • Amy Canada “Q3 I am also a success story of #blogchat; when new, others welcomed me warmly. I learned from them & repeated”

To end the conversation, we wanted to know what sorts of resources or advice people need to find their own communities. So who would you like to reach and really get to know? Lois added, “Specific is good. Are there key influencers, authors, famous personalities, industry experts you’d like to meet? I’ve always felt the most effective in-person networking is to be specific — ‘I would like intro to…’ same as SM”

  • Judy Gombita “A4. I want to reach and really get to know people who AREN’T like me. Goodbye bubbles and echo-chambers in communities”
  • David McGraw “Honestly the lurkers in my tweet/blog stream”

It can be easy to overlook the simple ways to connect with people when we are thinking about our area of expertise. Lois provided us with a comfortable model that enables us to imagine the “who”, “what”, and “why of the communities we find in social media.

How do you answer the discussion questions?

What do you wish you knew more about?




Has Social Media Killed the Art Of Conversation-#kaizenblog recap

You hear a lot of complaining about how people’s writing skills have been ruined by texting or tweeting. But what about the art ofSocial Media and Art of Conversation conversation? What is the effect of social media on our ability to actually converse and connect with one another verbally?

Essentially the art of conversation is simply and easily talking with anyone about anything while projecting confidence and friendliness. Someone who is adept at the art of conversation also uses active listening skills so the conversation follows an arc as subjects are introduced and talked about.

The three stages to the Art of Conversation are:

1. Small talk-weather, location, event..basically anything that joins two or more people into the actual conversation

2. Subject matter-this is the business part of the conversation. There is more depth here as people explore a topic or the purpose of the conversation

3. Closure-the topic is wrapped up and people end the conversation in a smooth way that could include thanking one another for the conversation and even a goodbye

Since the #kaizenblog chat happens on Twitter, social media plays an important role for all of us who participate. In past conversations, participants have talked about developing relationships which would imply that conversations are taking place. But…what kind of conversations? Have we interrupted the process with limited space or speed or what?  You can read the transcript here Transcript for #kaizenblog – HasSocMedKilledArtofConvo

Ironically, during the chat, we noticed that Twitter and other applications (e.g. HootSuite, Tweetchat) were acting strangely so there were aborted tweets that somehow got published or simply had to be re-typed until they were successfully sent.

As our usual wont, we opened with a basic question so we could use a common definition. How would you describe the art of conversation? There are concerns that we’re less civil, more informal or even more likely to skip the first stage. Any of these are possible due to the thought that they are not important. And, possibly the biggest challenge to a conversation is feeling like there is enough time to fully engage in the topic together.

  • Laura Crum “A1: the art of conversation used to be fluid, pretty and intricate”
  • Parissa Behnia “A1: The art is understanding that there are many textures. sometimes it’s in listening & sometimes in 2 way exchange”
  • Richard Winter “A1: Being able to convey a message or position people see in their minds through the words you use”
  • Bruno Coehlo “A1 The art of Conversation is about listening, understanding and sharing. Hint: the order matters”
  • Michael Benidt “A1: Conversation has to include respect – someone has to be as interested in you, as you are in them”

Given the concerns about how conversation has become truncated, where does social media fit in? What is the intersection between social media and conversation?

  • Parissa Behnia “A2: SM is enhancement so I don’t see it as intersection so much as wonderful support to the right behaviors we should be doing”
  • Torrey McGraw “A2: Success lies in adding value. Thus more will be willing to drive down your street”
  • ASQ Baton Rouge 1521 “Q2: SM intersects w/ conversation when relationships are built. Genuine thought and opinion vs. announcements”
  • Ken Rosen “I think Ppl DO value artful comments & elevate those who are capable. But aesthetic changing. W/ SM as a force of change no doubt”
  • Suzanna Stinnett “A2 The intersection of SM and conversation is your brain. You choose who you follow and how you interact”
  • Amber Cleveland “A2. The intersection is us…people. Social media, traditional media, phone calls, emails, tweets…all intersect at people”

The conversation has some interested side threads about spelling, grammar and how people use social media in a way that would be very obnoxious if we were in-person. One thread even touched on how words are used and whether or not poetry can exist on sites like Twitter. Perhaps, at times, the conversation got a little myopic and the comments were centered more on Twitter use.

This seemed to open the conversation for the next question. How would you describe the effects of social media on conversation?

  • Amy Canada “…#SocialMedia is only a conversation for those who use it to converse (2 ways). Broadcasting is not conversation”
  • ASQ Baton Rouge 1251 “Many companies fail to engage. They think since the tools are free, strategic thought is not required.”
  • Bruno Coehlo “One of the major effects that  SM made on conversation is reducing our attention span and time perception”

The responses seemed all over the place during this question. Some people felt that social media has augmented conversations offline. It seems likely that the truth is not one thing or another as social media has so many faces. It would be interesting to see how the effects play over time.

What is the future of the art of conversation given that social media will exist in one form or another?

  • Parissa Behnia “insistence on keeping the trad’l ways of engaging while embracing new technology. symbiotic”
  • Bruno Coeholo “Q4 Conversations will continue to evolve across different channels because of our need to to share and learn”
  • Christine Dowers “Q4: I see more and more people realizing the importance of Twitter. Many people don’t know how to use it or why it is here.”

While most people were quite positive about social media, there were a number of side threads and comments that pointed out the drawbacks or limitations. If we are embracing a tool for our businesses, are we thinking critically about how it affects our organizations and ourselves? Social media can be a shiny toy. It is also a way for us to meet more people who are looking for what we provide. Consider this, nearly every week on #kaizenblog, we have participants from Europe, Canada and the United States. Occasionally we have participants from other parts of the world as well. This means that we have the opportunity to broaden how we understand our expertise and how others in the world engage in similar work. Maybe the art of conversation isn’t lost but has morphed into its next manifestation.

What do you believe about the art of conversation in social media? Is it really dead or something else?


Has Social Media Removed Our Ability to Converse?

Conversation: 1.  Oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas. or ideas 2. an instance of such exchange

“It was difficult to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much” -Yogi Berra

Don’t get me wrong. I do love the opportunities that engaging in social media can bring. I get to blog with some cool business owners and professionals on Bloggertone. And I’m the host of the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog (every Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT) which brings me in touch with some special thinkers and fascinating people.


It sometimes makes me wonder if we’re too busy making noise so our small businesses (and ourselves) get noticed. Social media has given small business opportunities to compete against comConversation, Social Media and Small Businesspanies that are far larger and with greater resources. Customers can interact with us in multiple ways on our blogs, Twitter accounts, and Facebook. Even on LinkedIn, you can get recommendations about the quality of your expertise.

For some sites, there are limits on how many characters you can use. On our blogs, people aren’t always encouraged or allowed to comment on posts. So, is the art of conversation killed by this? If we can talk about any topic and at any length, are we just making noise or really exchanging ideas? There are people out there who look for opportunities to send out messages that are hateful or sales pitches. Are we really sharing our observations or just spewing our frustration and alienation?

Sure, the definition of conversation doesn’t say anything about being civil or polite. This is where the art of conversation comes in. There are business benefits to being adept at conversing with one another. It brings us opportunities to learn about who the person is that we are associating with. And…the origin of the word, conversation actually comes from the Latin conversari which means “to associate with” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). What makes them tick? What similarities do you share with them? What can you learn?

Are we just shouting at each other? Has social media killed the art of conversation?

Join us for the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog this Friday where we take up this topic and strive to have a conversation with one another. You can find us on Twitter every Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT. Please consider yourself invited!




Business Thought Fashions-Latest Fads and Trends #kaizenblog recap

Fashionable Business ThinkingThis past week was Fashion Week in New York, Milan, Paris and London. Designers and fashion editors tell us what colors (caramel is the new neutral) to wear, the lengths of skirts and the “right’ accessories. Guys, you’re not off the hook. You’re being told to wear three-piece suits, turtlenecks and plaid ties.

So what does this have to do with business thought? Plenty! Ideas have designers. Think for a moment…relationship marketing? That was put forth by Regis McKenna. Are you developing a Tribe? Thank Seth Godin for designing that idea. Some of ideas are truly fads much like certain clothes are fads. There are other ideas that become trends and maybe even catch on to become classics.

Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge) and I explored with the #kaizenblog crowd what is fashionable in business thinking including fads and trends. If you would like to read the tweets in their entirety, here is the Transcript for #kaizenblog – FashionTrendsFadsinBizThought for this Twitter chat.

What current discussions are you hearing/reading in business thought lately? Maybe like Kelley Kassa (@kelleylynnk), you’ve noticed that it’s not cool to be a thought leader. Now we are urged to be game changers. Meg Fowler (@megfowler) and many others talked about how certain buzz words or jargon become overused. There was even a thread noticing the conversation that all businesses should be engaged in social media without determining if social media fits organization and how to use it best. Some other examples of discussions that are currently happening are:

  • Stephen Denny (@Note_To_CMO) “Has the violent push-back against questioning ROI in social media become the new “debate is over” topic?”
  • Lois Martin (@LoisMarketing) “Q1 A lot of talk about streamlining messaging, websites and blogs for mobile. Hottest topic among my clients today”
  • Meg Fowler “A1: Everyone is about content strategy lately–without doing the work first to understand how comprehensive a task that is”
  • Keith Bossey (@keithboss) “Storytelling, innovation are two “hot” buzzwords”

Lastly there was a energetic conversationa about copycat marketing. There was a back and forth about whether is was okay to use similar strategies as another organization. Was the company that first introduced the marketing strategy a trendsetter? Some people felt that copying the effective strategy was a failure of imagination while others thought that it lifted the strategy into something recognizable as a fashionable way to engage with your customers.

Perhaps we don’t typically think of ideas as being fashionable but they are. Like certain lines and detailing in clothes are considered classics, certain business ideas become perennial recommendations. Like in fashion classics (little black dress anyone?), what are classic business thoughts that stand the test of time?

  • Kelley Kassa “Q2: to be successful, you need to be true to yourself”
  • Mark Clowes (@StetsonClowes) ” ‘Long term, quality sells’ “
  • Caroline Di Diego (@CASUDI) “U R in biz to make a profit?”
  • Carl Thress (@CarlThress) “A2: Never assume customers care about your brand, just because you want them to”

We seem to know classic thinkers like Peter Drucker but what about up and coming thinkers? Some of the stuff you can find in social media or even in the stacks of your favorite bookseller are possible fads or emerging trends. How do you tell the difference between a fad and a trend in business thinking?

  • Stephen Denny “Q3: Fads tend to fail the ‘why’ test, preferring to remain a ‘what’ “
  • Laura Crum (@LauraLCrum) “A3: Fads are quick to dissolve and more specific. Trends go a bit deeper and can be seen in various aspects.”
  • Bruno Coehlo (@bcoehlo2000) “Time is ultimate judge. Don’t run after every new trend. Measure if it helps you be more competitive.”
  • M Zayfert (@mzayfert) “Seen many trends, golfing, lunch, in office lunch, meals on the go, dinner circles, now nothing is allowed changes are coming”
  • Alfonso Guerra (@huperniketes) “If you have do to even a tiny bit of hard work, it’s a fad. Otherwise, it’s a trend.”

Since social media was featured prominently in answers as well as side conversations throughout the chat, it’s effect is worth taking a look at. How does social media affect the adoption of certain business ideas? Any idea can be disseminated throughout social media in microblogging, short posts, blogging, pictures, etc. Stephen Denny described social media as a “firehose”.

  • Eric Fulwiler (@EFulwiler) “IMO thinking of it as “social media” is confusing the actual foundation/direction of trend. More “micro” (vs macro)”
  • Laura Crum “A4: It’s the ultimate gossip. What better grapevine is out there? the more people who hear, the more people adopt, the quicker it goes defunct”
  • Jeannie Walters (@jeanniecw) “A4: For me, social media is a way to test the water and get outside thinking on business ideas”
  • Carl Thress “A4: Speed. Ideas travel faster via social media than they once did, leading to quicker adoption/acceptance”

So, if we can spread our ideas quickly and they become adopted, perhaps any one of us can become the next “go-to” classic. What trends in business thought do you see becoming classics?

Even fashion editors can get things wrong as to what people will want to wear. Fashions have to resonate with us on an emotional level. Business ideas resonate when they seem to fit your industry, the size of your business, and your worldview.

What are classic business thoughts do you believe are must-haves?

How do you describe a business thought fad?

What business ideas resonate with you?



What Defines Influence In Business #kaizenblog recap

Influence gives you a megaphoneInfluence is an interesting thing. You can shape behavior when you make a recommendation. In some places, age gave one influence. Sometimes social status (financial and/or class) bestowed A automatic must-listen environment.  A carefully built reputation of solid results could give you a megaphone. I still remember the old E. F. Hutton ad, “When E.F . Hutton talks, people listen.”

The effect social media has had on how one builds and maintains influence is simply tremendous. Small to big businesses are trying to figure out how to get influencea and how to use it. So, influence is greatly sought after and is probably one of the least understood aspects of how one is perceived online. We try to measure our influence by the numbers of followers (or friends or connections) or with sites like Klout. But is this it? Does this define all of our influence?

Influence has been a topic of recent conversation due to events like Fast Company “The Influencer Project”. Between Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge as well as founder and co-host of #kaizenblog) and myself, we have read a number of posts about influence. I guess you could say we’re influenced by our friends and colleagues as we read a lot of different blogs. For framing posts, Valeria wrote “Connecting With Real Influence” and “Like It Or Not, You Want Influence”. When I tweeted an invitation to my friend, Danny (@DannyBrown) to chime in on this topic, he pointed me towards a post by Susan Murphy (@SuzeMuse) which really fit into our theme like a glove, “Why Are We So Hung Up On Influence?” We did notice that this was a topic people had a lot of thoughts and opinions about as we had 627 tweets and 81 contributors by the end of the conversation. Here is the transcript: Transcript for #kaizenblog – Influence

With the stage set, we began talking about “What Defines Influence in Business” in our latest #kaizenblog chat with our first question, What is deeper purpose of influence? While there were some answers, there were also a lot of questions that referenced popularity, targeting an audience, and how our numbers do play a role.

  • Sean Williams (@CommAMMO) “Q1 Influence is the ability to gain a hearing for your perspectives, when then changes someone’s thinking or actions.”
  • Stephen Denny (@Note_To_CMO) “A1 Deeper purpose of influence? Compliance? (Cynical?)  We want influence so we can direct the actions of others?”
  • Caroline Di Diego (@CASUDI) “A1 Influence bringing about action cos people are inspired to do it ~ (not forced to)”
  • WDYWFT (@WDYWFT) “So hopefully it’s compliance and significance.”
  • Joel Foner (@JoelFoner) “Q1-“So what is the deeper purpose of influence?” | Many mention actions. Influence key results  changes opinions and beliefs too.”
  • Scott McWilliams (@macengr) “Deeper purpose varies according to the individual and goal of same. Could be good or bad.”

There was some back and forth between several participants about whether or not influence is limited to changing beliefs and opinions or includes action. By the end of this thread, there seemed to be agreement that changing how someone thinks about something could lead to action or inaction, depending on the message. Alfonso Guerra (@huperniketes) reminded us of that the “Whuffie Factor discusses the importance of influence in social capital, how to earn it and spend it.” This certainly would play a role in how effective an influencer might be to inspire action or refrain from action.

I also posed the question if influence could be more than something used for marketing. Diane Court (@dc2fla) suggested mentoring and it was pointed out that there are people in our immediate circcle that we influence and are influenced by (e.g. parents).

There was also a fascinating theme about popularity and influence. Are they synonymous? Does being popular lead to greater influence? This discussion threaded its way throughout the entire chat. There seemed to be some who outright rejected popularity as having any part in influence. Others didn’t completely reject influence. As John Reddish (@GetResults) pointed out, “Celebrity and/or popularity does impact influence, in varying degrees & among different groups – it’s selective.” However two names came up as effective influencers in their spheres, Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey. But…aren’t influencers effective in their particular spheres? Joe Crockett (@JoeCrockett) tweeted, “But if you put popularity and influential together in 1 spot you have a powerhouse”

So, we returned to the discussion of influence and business with our next discussion question, What is the bridge between your business vision and becoming an influencer?

Tom Asacker (@tomasacker) pointed out that “influence more subtle process today. Experts disagree, so people don’t trust experts.” If the process is more subtle, that could make things very challenging for accepted influencers to maintain their positions while up and coming influencers may find a skeptical crowd saying, “show me.” What does it mean to be an expert now? Do you need different strategies to create a critical mass so people start to talk about your core message? Stephen Denny offered Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company as an example, “Bridge between biz vision and influence. Jim Koch/Boston Beer Co. ‘Want to change how AmericanBridge in Paris public thinks of beer.’ “

Other thoughts about the bridge between one’s business vision and becoming an influencer:

  • Amber Cleveland (@ambercleveland) “Q2 The bridge between business vision and becoming an influencer is the mission of the biz and the vision of leadership.”
  • Caroline Di Diego “Doing excellently or in our design business ~ one of a kind design/leader/influencer of new”
  • Alfonso Guerra “Building on your relationships, inspiring confidence in your values and decision, building trust”

For the #kaizenblog participants, ethics and mission seemed to be important to influence whether the mission was to change how American public thinks about beer or some great humanitarian cause. Influence is less about ego and more about urging minds to change and actions to follow. Meg Fowler (@megfowler) cautioned, “many think influence=a lot of people paying attention…but trainwrecks attract attention too.”

Finally, we ended the conversation with this question, What has worked for you to build influence?

  • Scott Williams “Developing personal relationships (trust is key) and demonstrating competence”
  • Marketwire (@marketwire) “To build influence=provide interesting, relevant content, be authentic, build relationships first’
  • Stephen Denny “What has worked for me to build influence? Building relationships, 1 at a time.”
  • Tom Asacker “Passion and other focus at the expense of self”
  • Derek Edmond (@derekedmond) “Demonstrate expertise and successes while being available to help, coach, and/or provide assistance”
  • Diane Court “Worked for me? learning from being a parent – learning to listen to my children (seriously)”

It’s clear that relationships are important. It would have been interesting to learn why relationships build influence specifically but we ran out of time. Knowing your specialty fully seemed to also add credence to messages you send out to your audience/customer base.

This is one of those chats that had so many interesting side threads that it would be well worth your time to read through the transcript.

How would you have answered the discussion questions?

What is specifically important about building relationships that adds to one’s influence?




Sexy/Boring and Building Your Business

Do you want to be a rockstar or steady as she goes?It’s not often that I rant about something on this blog but I have to get this off my chest-I hate the term “rockstar” to describe someone who is not a musician! It’s ridiculous and robs the person of dignity and opportunity. Let’s face it-someone who has worked hard to develop, marketed their product or service and caught the imagination and desire of a lot of people deserves more than to be the flavor of the moment. There is a herd mentality that you have to score big and parade around like you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Puh-leeze!

Okay, my rant is over.

Do you have to have to be the flavor of the moment to build a thriving business?

Social media can make any one of us a rockstar. Take a moment and think about when you founded your business. Maybe you have been developing, tweaking, and testing your product or service for a number of years. You’ve studied marketing strategies and current trends in your target market. You’ve put in the sweat equity and money to make your idea soar and now it is time to tell your story.

Marketing plans are necessary to keep focused on how to get the word out but there may be a missing ingredient to the whole of your business plan. Do you want your target market to discover you or your business? In social media, the trend is that a person gets noticed with their big idea (book, blog, product, service, etc.) and they are invited to speak at conferences, media interviews, and revenues increase. However, after a period of time, the novelty wears off. People want to be around you but they wonder if you got any other tricks up your sleeve or that you are really a one hit wonder. So many businesses bank on the idea that took off like wild fire that they neglect to build beyond that. Social media is a marvelous tool but it has a short attention span. There is always someone who is emerging with the next big thing. Outside of the online world, there are still traditional marketing channels to let your target market know about you and your business.

The real question-Do you have to be sexy or boring to build a successful business?

Maybe I’m being a curmudgeon about this. After all, it feels good to be sought after, quoted, and made much of. We desire to be successful with our businesses. After surviving the recent economic meltdown, many businesses of all sizes are evaluating their offerings and how to market them to the right people. So with things in so much flux, it becomes a question of focus and intention. It seems like a bad idea to avoid giving these questions some thought. Maybe they are not included explicitly in your strategic plan but taking stock of your personality style and your business fantasies seems a good way to know if you are going to develop a cult of personality or not.

Should the focus be on the founder or the business? Certainly it is sexy to be articulate and personable and this feeds the “know, like, and trust” factor which is drilled into us in marketing 101 advice. Obviously the more attention and visibility you have, the more people will want to buy your products/services. Does being sexy get you the right customers?

The boring way to build your business is to deflect the attention off of you and onto your organization and pursue more organic growth. Even if it is an organization of one, the ideas are paramount. The way your product or service will change the world is paramount. Keeping the focus on the idea may mean speaking at specific conferences or interviewing targeted media outlets. It may include smaller meetings with influencers or evangelists who will offer word-of-mouth recommendations.  Does being boring get you the right customers?

What does sexy/boring mean to you as you grow your business?

Which is more important to creating a successful business-the person or the idea?

What would happen if you combined sexy and boring and avoided the flameout of rockstardom?

*Would you like to know what other people have to say about this in a live conversation? Join #kaizenblog on Twitter this Friday, May 21st at 12pm ET/4pm GMT for the live chat and discuss “Do You Need To Be Sexy Or Boring To Build a Successful Business?”


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