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Evoking online trust

icn.seths.headby Seth Godin

Interactions rarely happen with people we don’t trust.

How is it that someone sees your website or your social media presence or your email and decides to interact? The decision to interact happens before someone actually listens to what you have to say. Here’s a way to think about the factors that kick in before the browser even hears what you have to offer them today:

  • Word of mouth
  • Direct interaction
  • Graphics
  • Tone of voice
  • Offer
  • Size of leap
  • Fear
  • Social ranking/metric
  • Tribal affiliation
  • Perception of transparency
  • Longevity
  • Mass acceptance

Word of mouth: The most effective, by far. If I’ve heard good things about you from people I know, the entire relationship changes. You get the benefit of the doubt.

Direct interaction: Have you previously touched me or interacted me in some way beyond the passive? The way I feel about that ping will alter our interaction. If this is the first time you’re reaching out, you can bet a piece of spam is read differently than something that comes via mutual introduction.

Graphics: What do you look like? What does it remind me of? With so few clues online, we read an enormous amount into every pixel, every typeface…

Tone of voice: A variation of graphics, it has to do with your copy, with your video, with the urgency of your offer. Urgency rarely leads to trust.

Scarcity: Is there a perception that early birds gain? This also hooks in with metrics, like the progress your Kickstarter has made so far, or the number of social links you display.

Offer: What’s in it for me to listen to what you have to say? Do I gain more if I listen with a sympathetic ear?

Size of leap: What are you asking me to do? It’s significantly easier to earn the trust that is required to with follow you on social media than it is to get me to give you my credit card. When you hook your new idea to an old idea I already trust, you benefit.

Fear: This is related to the leap. Big leaps are scarier, requiring more trust, and thus more skepticism.

Social ranking/metric: Results on the first page of Google are more trusted. People with a lot of Twitter followers as well, which is one reason both metrics are aggressively coveted and sometimes gamed.

Tribal affiliation: Are you one of us?

Perception of transparency: When I can see the metrics, or understand your intention, or when the message carries with it the hooks to those ideas, I’m more inclined to trust you. (This is a cultural, not a universal, bias).

Longevity: How long have you been showing up?

Mass acceptance: When I sort of hear of you from my friends, when I recognize you from a hashtag or the logo on a shirt or from a TV show, you come out ahead. TV celebrities walk in to the room with a lot of trust.

You will be judged, best to plan on being judged in the best possible light.

 

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How To Make The Most Out Of Networking Events

Networking is really important for any businessperson or freelancer. It is a great way to build relationships and even meet potential customers. But unless you know how to make the most out of these networking events they can end up wasting your time. Thus it is important to ensure you know some of the best ways to help you make the most out of participating in these events.

Go With A Clear Focus Of Achieving Something

Before the networking event takes place it is essential you understand the purpose of the event and set yourself a few simple goals. This will ensure you don’t just attend the event and treat it like a social gathering but you will benefit your business by attending the event.

Make sure you also have enough details and stories in your head to tell to other people about your work and your history. This will help you remember the key points to mention. Don’t rehearse the points as a set of answers or phrases as this might come off a bit too planned. Instead, just have the key points in mind so you always have something attractive to offer to people you talk with.

Mingle With A Lot People

It is also important you talk to as many people as possible during the night. But don’t just rush around the event, introducing yourself to everyone and then moving on to the next target. As The Undercover Recruiter points out it is important you engage in meaningful discussion with people and show them you are interested in their ideas instead of just handing out your business card to everyone.

If possible you can think about the people that might be attending beforehand and try meeting people that can really help you out with your business. Don’t spend too much time talking with people you are already in close contact with but focus your energy into meeting new people.

Make Sure You Share Your Information

You also need to keep handing out your business and contact information to new people you meet. Thus make sure you have a proper business card to give out. It is really important you focus on creating a professional looking business card. Make sure it is a simple design that includes all the key information.

It is also a great idea to join the major social media networks like Twitter. You should also join Enthuse to add a professional profile to your business card. The site is a great way to build your portfolio and have an effective online profile.

Stay In Touch

You also need to do a few things after the networking event to ensure you make the most out of it. Go through all the business cards you collected and get in touch with the people you feel could really benefit your business. Send them an e-mail or even give a call in a few days time and ensure you can build a great business relationship.

With these simple tips you can make the most out of networking events and really ensure they give you an extra boost to your business.

Featured images:

Fiona is a skiing-enthusiast who loves to help out new freelancers break their way into the competitive world of freelancing. When she isn’t typing away on her computer or daydreaming about the upcoming winter she can be found at the local library reading about Egyptian history.

 

 

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How To Ensure You Make The Most Of Each Conference You Attend

Plone Conference 2009 Group PhotoHow To Ensure You Make The Most Of Each Conference You Attend

Whether you have been asked to attend a conference by your boss, or you are attending one, or more, off your own back, it is important to make sure your time is not wasted. The following tips will make sure you always make the most of the conferences you attend.

1. Make a plan before you go

One of the worst things you can do when attending a conference is to not have a plan. Conferences tend to be extremely hectic and busy and if you arrive having not looked at the conference layout, looked up the guest speakers or checked the delegate list, you will not go far.

You should make a plan about which speakers you want to see, which delegates you want to meet, which stands you want to visit and so on. If you have been given the delegate list, try and get in contact with the people you’d like to meet and make an appointment with them, perhaps arranging to meet them for a coffee during one of the breaks in the conference speeches.

2. Do your research on those attending

If you’ve been lucky enough to get a delegate list and know who you want to meet, as well as knowing who the guest speakers are going to be, make sure you do your research on them all. Look them up online, read their twitter posts, visit their blogs and so on.

It will be a lot easier for you to make contact with these people at the conference if you have a way in and can show you’re interested in them. They will feel flattered you have done your research on them and are much more likely to give you the time of day.

3. Make sure you interact with the people around you

There’s nothing worse at a conference than being sat next to someone who is totally ignoring you, even more so when they are quite obviously alone there too. It’s a good idea to make the most of the opportunity to meet new people, after all you never know who you might be talking to and if they might be able to offer you a viable business opportunity, or even a personal one.

Try to start conversations by arriving before speeches are due to start and asking people about why they are attending the conference. It’s always a good idea to ask them a lot of questions because, to be honest, people just love to talk about themselves. It will also help you break the ice and encourage other people, who are also there alone, to join in the conversation.

4. Don’t spend all your free time on your phone or other mobile device

As in point 3, it is terribly rude to sit next to someone throughout an entire guest speech, or to keep bumping into the same people throughout the conference and then ignore them during the breaks because you’re texting, calling or tweeting.

You should be using the free time between speeches and presentations to meet and greet others in order to advertise your business, discover new work opportunities or to generally just have a nice conversation with other people.

5. Always make sure you follow up with those you’ve met

This is incredibly important, firstly because it is just polite to do so and secondly because it is likely people at the conference have met so many people that they will forget who you are unless you remind them quickly. This is especially important if you feel they can help your business in any way. Just think how impressed your boss might be with you if you bring in some new business.

There are a number of ways in which you are able to follow up such conference leads, whether through writing them an actual letter, sending them an email or even getting in touch with them via the phone. Just make sure you follow up within 48 hours, that you have got their details correct and that you tell them just how much you enjoyed meeting them and how much you would like to follow up on the discussions you had at the conference whenever they have the time to do so.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned

James writes for Cranfield Tech Park. When not blogging about Cranfield’s serviced offices in Milton Keynes, he can often be found discovering new ways to attend conferences.

 

 

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Facebook’s Advertising Is Starting To Spiral Out Of Control

Two weeks ago, Facebook FB -0.99%announced that it hit one million advertisers using the site for the first time ever.

And boy does it show.

Something has changed with Facebook in recent months, and it’s not just another redesign that has people up in arms writing chain letters and staging online sit-ins in the hopes of a reversion. Rather, the switch has been a dramatic increase in the volume of ads on Facebook, so much so that the site sometimes looks like a domain squatter landing page.

A common question asked of Facebook is whether it will be around five years from now, ten years from now, and so on. Though it’s seemingly a staple of life these days, the internet is fickle, and what once was popular can fall out of favor just as quickly. And Facebook appears to be trying its hardest to make that happen.

We can debate the functionality of the site another day. Facebook has tried to wear many masks in order to stay relevant over the past few years. It believes its chat and message systems can compete with Gmail. It was letting people upload videos and pictures before Vine and Instagram were cool, yet both are now more trendy than the site itself. You can follow celebrity or public figure posts now the way you would on Google GOOG -0.27% Plus. The site has even added Twitter’s hash tags now, so you can see what hundreds of other people who don’t understand their privacy settings are doing on #friday.

But this isn’t the topic of the day. Rather, it needs to be shown just how bad the advertising angle of Facebook is getting, particularly compared to its competition. All sites on the internet are in direct competition with each other, after all, and if one suddenly becomes overloaded with ads to the point of absurdity, the others will see their fortunes rise.

We’ll start out slow here with a few sites that are going after Facebook specifically. Here’s what the 100% ad free home page of Google Plus looks like.

Google can of course afford to do this because they make so much from advertising elsewhere, and truthfully, not that many people use G+ to make it worth their while to advertise. I’ve never been Google Plus’s biggest fan, but the lack of ads makes for a very clean, friendly homepage.

Then we have Pinterest (my fiancée’s homepage), also ad free:

Pinterest is still relatively new, and if it maintains its popularity, I imagine that one or two of these images may turn into ads someday. But still, it’s not much, and for now, there’s nothing intrusive at all.

Moving down the list, we have Twitter. Just like Facebook, there are sponsored Tweets in your view immediately when you pull up your homepage, but usually only one, and it takes up a tiny amount of real estate.

Then we have a site like Reddit, time-wasting capital of the internet. It too has a “sponsored” link across the top, and also a box ad on the side, though this time it’s advertising itself.

Here is Cracked, which I pulled to represent the millions of ad-supported internet blogs which do have banner ads, but again, they’re not taking over most of the screen.

And now we have Facebook:

The ad on my homepage is a “suggested post” from “JackThreads,” an outlet I’ve never heard of, nor one that Facebook claims is even liked by any of my friends to at least make it tangentially relevant to me. Perhaps I’m being shown it simply because I’m an 18-30 year old male in their target demographic, but that’s the only loose connection to me I can think of. Yet there it is, my number one news feed story, joining the fixed column of other ads on the right hand side of the page. As you can see, when I pull up my news feed, the amount of actual content I can see because of the ad is shockingly low.

I will admit it’s not always the case that an ad is my lead story when I pull up Facebook, but I’d say I see one a solid 40-50% of the time. And if it isn’t there immediately, it’s only a scroll or two down the list.

But it doesn’t stop there. Facebook has a secondary tier of ads based on pages you’ve dared to “like” over the years. Way back when, I listed some of my favorite TV shows on my profile so others could see what I was watching. Eventually, Facebook forced these “likes” to be linked to the actual brand pages of the show or product you were talking about, and as a result, any of their postings would not appear in your news feed. It’s what’s led to situations like this:

Yes, that’s right. My entire visible Facebook news feed is now 100% ads the moment I arrive on the site. I assure you this isn’t photoshopped. You could argue that it’s my fault for liking Parks and Recreation and Dexter publicly on my profile, and I could take them off if I wanted to, but I’ve hidden so many of these days “opt-out” ads at this point, I’ve just given up. I’m tempted to simply erase my interests from my profile altogether. And before you bring it up, I’m morally opposed to AdBlock as I make my living through (hopefully non-intrusive) internet ads. But I understand the appeal because of situations like this.

You see the point here. Facebook is going to start losing market share to sites that don’t treat their userbase like they’re products to be bought and sold. Advertising is absolutely a part of the internet, we all understand and accept that, but Facebook is starting to feel like it’s adopted ads as its primary purpose, losing functionality as a welcoming social network in the process.

It’s simply a turn off to arrive on the landing page of a supposedly “social” site and see a screen that’s anywhere from 60% to 100% ads. Facebook needs to do some soul searching and figure out whether it needs to be serving the needs of its million advertisers or its billion users first.

I’ve reached out for comment to see if they agree.

Update: At my editor’s request, we’re getting meta with it.

Not so bad, huh?

But our homepage needs some work, if I can be self-critical.

And that autoplaying video ad needs to go. Welp, hopefully I still have a job here…

 

 

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Growing An Online Business With Zero Marketing Budget

ideas-marketing-budget-planning-e1354030160590People often complain that they have no marketing budget to attract new customers, yet they have staff in charge of their PR or they handle PR themselves. You assign a budget as soon as you allocate someone to handle PR or marketing. Their wages constitute a marketing budget whether they have other responsibilities or not. You do not need to have someone working full-time on marketing to have a working and productive marketing plan and even when marketing efforts are stepped-up you can distribute tasks among employees to make sure everything required is completed on-time.

Free Marketing ideas

There are ways to create marketing campaigns that generate revenue before you spend a penny. The only thing you need is a little inventiveness.  Internet companies love the free competition model, but they can be just as effective to off-line businesses. Offer a free iPad to do people who like your Facebook page, invite ten friends or to your page or write comment number 1,000 on your blog posts and you have instant engagement from an otherwise un-incentivised audience. The iPad may sound like you need a marketing budget, but when you consider the cost of an iPad 2 is less than £250, you quickly realise that you should be able to generate more than enough business by converting website visitors into customers.

The Time and Effort Budget

It doesn’t matter how many times you read about a turnkey business that manages itself and creates a passive income from online sales, you quickly realise the writer has been making most of it up. All businesses require input from the business owner, staff or enthusiasts who are interested in your products or services.

If you are a rock band, Star Wars memorabilia stockist or sell addictive sweets, you may be lucky enough to have the fans and enthusiasts. If not, you could always try pulling your finger out and networking with players in your industry or your customer base on social networks, by writing blogs for industry relevant blogs or voicing your opinion and offering advice freely on forums. All of these will eventually generate traffic and custom for your website.

Brand and Online Reputation Management

An online business lives or dies with its reputation, but that stems from more than simply creating a few good revues for your products, it is about monitoring social media and utilising it in the correct way. People who openly criticise products and services on Twitter and if this includes a service you provided, a product you sold and creates another negative link to your company, you could be in trouble. You can use Twitter to engage your customers, but what about finding new customers.

Twitter has some amazing tools designed for people who want to use the platform as a professional communication setup. Even the simplest of tweets to about your latest blog post, product or service, will generate website traffic and potentially orders, but the best way to use Twitter is to find and engage with people who are in your target market. Using Twitter’s TweetDeck, you can have multiple-twitter feeds, each monitoring a different keyword that relates to your business. You will see complaints, enquiries and even straightforward requests for products or services from people who are in your target market. All of this is available completely free from charge, but these efforts require time and involvement.

From little Acorns, Do Mighty Oaks Grow?

The thing to remember if never run before you can crawl because it is easy to over-promise and under deliver. This is especially true in the service industry where clients and customers can see your company as a great provider, only to find out you have a staff of one when you fail to meet the level of service you promised.

Bill Jobs is a writer who has been involved with Internet star-ups for many years and has relied on the advice and mentorship of some of the UK’s greatest entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Gregory Cox who both inspire him daily.

 

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Instagram loses users in photo rights backlash

Published: 9:15AM Sunday January 13, 2013 Source: ONE News

Instagram loses users in photo rights backlash  (Source: ONE News)Instagram backtracks on some changes

Photo-sharing application Instagram has lost nearly half its daily users in a month after publishing updated terms and conditions which said it would have the right to sell users’ photos without notifying them.

Following an instant backlash among social media users, Instagram quickly backtracked on its earlier statement, saying that sweeping changes was not what it intended.

Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook for US$700 million in cash and shares last April, added that it was not their intention “to sell your photos”.

But the damage was already done, with many users’ threatening to quit using application.

And it appears they have stuck to it – new figures reveal Instagram’s active daily users – the highest frequency user group – has dropped to 8.42 million this week, from 16.35 million on December 17, the day the controversial news broke, the New York Post reported.

The statistics were compiled by AppStats, which measures app usage by tracking users who are logged into Instagram via Facebook.

AppStats CEO Sebastian Sujka told The New York Post: “The main loss will be most likely due to the terms of service changes, given how much attention and controversy the terms of service change has brought, and seeing how clearly the Instagram app dropped after the terms of service change.”

Facebook has described the findings as “inaccurate”.

“We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram,” Facebook said in a statement.

It appears that some changes to the application will still take place on January 16.

 

 

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You Know Where You Can Stick That Suggestion

 

If I had a penny for every time I’d heard or read the phrase “we care about our customers” and then be ripped off and left feeling thoroughly un-cared for, well you probably know the rest of the phrase.  Admittedly, I work in marketing, which makes me off-the-scale when it comes to cynicism when faced with any marketing technique.

However, thanks to the internet, most consumers are becoming far savvier these days, which means that even if they don’t work in marketing you have to try that little bit harder. Perhaps it’s greater exposure to all kinds of clever marketing tricks or treats that means many no longer believe a word you say.  Sometimes, often, it’s better to show than to tell.

Twitter’s grandad

Real world businesses, as opposed to the growing online world sector, have some distinct advantages over that virtual world.  It’s far easier to show your customers that you care and to gain their trust (this is one thing that any internet retailer would be prepared to sell their soul for).  Bars, shops and cafes all have the simple advantage that they get to meet their customers face to face and can make an impact on them in a more direct way.  One of the oldest tricks in the marketing book has been adapted to the internet world in the form of twitter and other social networks, to get a conversation going.  While innovative new ‘feedback’ solutions such as Twitter can have the real world business feeling left out, there’s really no need.  The humble suggestion box, often overlooked, is the original form of Twitter-style feedback and it can still work extremely effectively.

The Suggestion Box – but surely that’s so yesterday

Yes, it is.  Very, very, very yesterday.  It’s been around for eons; even before actual suggestion boxes were invented it came in the form of a customer saying ‘have you thought of …”.  It works on two levels as well.  It’s a useful tool for finding out what you’re doing right (or not, as the case may be) and what you could be doing better or what additional services your clientele would like.  This latter is important, especially in our restrictive economic climate where any chance to grow should be grabbed with both hands.  However the suggestion box can also operate as a marketing tool; a subtle one, but a good one.

Showing you care

Yes, we’re back to that old chestnut the customer service charter and those wild claims that you care what you customer’s think.  If you have to write this fact down for all to see there’s a strong chance that you don’t; if people can’t see something in action then no amount of finely crafted well written promises will convince them.  The suggestion box may be a little old fashioned but it suggests that you’re interested, that you welcome input and that you are trying.  It’s very (subtle) presence says something positive about your attitude and your business and can give people something they love; the chance to stick their oar in.

Two-headed monsters

Two heads are well known for being better than one, although both medical history and mythology do somewhat argue against this idea.  However, taking the idea at face value, if two are better than what about ten, fifteen, two hundred and fifty?  Many business owners are kept very busy just managing things on a day to day basis and finding time to innovate, or simply come up with ideas, can be put to one side.  Two alternatives offer themselves up; call in an in-expensive consultant such as Mary Portas, or a free one like all of your customers. Regulars in particular often like to feel involved in their favourite haunt and the opportunity to shape it offers them the chance to take part, and can be a great source of ideas for you.

A suggestion box can offer a simple route to a range of practical ways to innovate and grow in your business; it can also work to make customers feel involved and, best of all, loved.  It’s a simple tool and one small investment that no business should consider being without.

 

 

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