Creative Combustion Blog
Marketing and branding tips for the badass small business owner.
Showing all posts from August 2011.
August 24, 2011
No time, no money, no space—three of the most common excuses small businesses cite for not hiring a summer intern. But what if that intern was a total rock star? Someone who could come in and make a huge impact on your company? Would those excuses still hold true?
I’ve been talking a lot about UNICORN, an amazingly cool twitter-inspired tool the folks at Shopify are using to communicate with, and compensate, their employees. And I learned about from an intern.
Anna the intern reached out to me via LinkedIn in response to a Fast Company blog post.
Notice the customized friend request—a refreshing change from the generic “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn” request you typically get from even the most seasoned of working professionals.
Since I’m a sucker for workplace design, I decided to check out their blog to see what they were up to. And they didn’t disappoint. There I found pictures of Nerf guns, unicorn art, and even an animal-inspired board room.
We decided to set up a call. I threw a ton of stuff Anna’s way. I was immediately impressed by her ability to talk about a wide range of Shopify-specific topics without ever missing a beat.
In only two months with the company, she was able to speak knowledgably about their business and their initiatives from both a strategic and tactical point—and all as an undergraduate student. That not only speaks volumes about Anna’s true rock star ability and potential but also Shopify’s ability to identify and train rock star talent.
They gave her the green light to reach out on behalf of the company, create and manage a blog about her experience as an intern, and they also included her in a subsequent call between me and Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s CEO. They let her run with high profile projects and, from every indication, she rocked them all.
So back to the three most common excuses for not hiring a summer intern (lack of time, lack of money, lack of space)—do any of them really justify missing out on the potential upside for your small business?
August 15, 2011
Recently, I had a chance to talk about social media use with two very different companies—one with thousands of employees; one with 70. And, not surprisingly, they both had two very different agendas.
Tobi Lütke, CEO of e-commerce software startup Shopify, developed a Twitter-inspired tool called UNICORN that employees can use to communicate internally, collaborate on projects, and even recognize fellow coworkers by nominating them to receive cash bonuses. In other words, they used social media to create their own version of a bizzaro-SharePoint—a collaborative platform that actually empowers employees to collaborate.
During our discussion, Tobi said he didn’t think their solution would work at most other companies. That’s when I had to interrupt. Sans the funky name, most companies would be chomping (or champing) at the bit to have a similar platform.
On the flip side, most of the conversation during my session at Ethicon’s Marketing & Media Procurement Summit and BootCamp revolved around external social media usage (brand building, engaging with customers, etc.) and whether employees should be using Facebook or Twitter for their own personal purposes while they’re on company’s clock—all perfectly understandable.
When compared to Shopify, they seemed to be much more externally focused when it came to the role of social media.
And that’s what got me wondering--could a company like Ethicon benefit from a tool like UNICORN? And if they were able to successfully integrate the platform (and I realize that would be a big if given the size of the organization), would it completely change the way they do business?
For more information about Shopify’s UNICORN system, hop on over to my recent Fast Company post.
For more information on my presentation at Ethicon’s Marketing and Media Summit and BootCamp (including my slide deck), check out my blog for a handy dandy recap.
As a disclaimer, I use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products I absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.
[Image: Flickr user János Balázs]
August 9, 2011
I’m guessing Scott Wilson would say a resounding “Hell yes!” In December 2010, he raised $942,578 using crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, completely vaporizing his initial pledge goal of $15,000. He used the funds to produce a kit that converts iPod Nanos into multi-touch watches. Absolutely brilliant!
Now, author Phil Simon is hoping to use the same platform and a similar approach to turn the entire publishing industry on its ear. For his fourth book, The Age of the Platform: Rethinking the Future of Business, Simon is relying entirely on crowdfunding. In it, he focuses on the vibrant ecosystems created by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google and how smaller companies or "planks" actually complement them.
If he’s able to raise $7,500 (the cost of production), the book goes to print. If he doesn’t, everyone who pre-ordered doesn’t get charged and he gets to go back to the drawing board. With right around 12 days to go in his funding campaign, he needs $2,916 to hit his goal.
In both examples, the entire fate of their projects and prototypes are determined by the market—and it have to say it doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks to technology, entrepreneurs and chronic idea generators are able to go straight to the horse’s mouth instead of the horse’s…well…you know…
[Image: Flickr user Sharat Ganapati]
August 3, 2011
This might come as a shock, but there are other ways to promote your blog posts besides Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all incredibly powerful tools for sharing your content. But they aren’t the only ones at your disposal. So before you become overly reliant on social media, let’s take a quick look at some other strategies you can use to get your posts some love.
- Every time you link to someone else’s blog, shoot them a quick email letting them know. When you do, you’ll 1) increase the chances of creating a meaningful connection with that person, thus expanding your network and 2) increase the chances he or she will then share your post through their social networks. I’ve only met one blogger (that’s right, only one) who does this consistently and I can tell you it’s huge.
- If you find someone wrote an interesting post or mentioned you in their content, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give them a call. Jonathan Kay, Ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper Group, reached out to me in response to a Fast Company post I had written about employee incentives on a shoe string budget. He just wanted to share some of the really cool stuff they were doing at Grasshopper. Our conversation led to a collaboration which in turn expanded the amplification of our post to both of our social networks.
- Don’t neglect your blog title. If it isn’t descriptive enough or doesn’t grab attention, nobody is going to open it. Look around. Check out other blogs to see which posts are generating the most traffic. Experiment to see what works best with your audience. Make it simple to share your posts without your readers having to burn whole a lot of calories.
Social media will undoubtedly play a huge role as you market your blog posts. But don’t underestimate the power of emails and phone calls. Both will allow you to create meaningful dialogues with others. And that will drastically increase the chances they’ll show your blog post some love.
Titles really do matter. You need to walk the tightrope between clearly communicating what the post is all about while also doing so in a way that grabs attention and really resonates with your audience. Oh, and you need to do all of that in 5-7 words.
Have you found other effective ways to promote your blog posts beyond social media? Or are you new to blogging and trying to figure everything out? Share your experiences below.
[Image: Flickr user .thana✌]
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