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"Waiting is the hardest part" sings Tom Petty as I sit on a bench, in a car, at the store, by the phone or even online. I've inherited the gene for impatience. I'm prone to giving a suggestion to improve a system, inclined to try to help to keep things moving, and I'll attempt to multitask at any moment. My frustration will peak when I get no response from someone. What drives you crazy while waiting?
Waiting is detrimental to marketing, developing business and managing clients. Business owners cannot sit by the door and wait for customers, wait for a better price, or wait for the economy to turn around. Most importantly, you cannot wait to get the training your business needs for today's economy. Thinking that you will get around to marketing and training someday is really just waiting for failure.
Today's technology enables businesses to socialize the marketing of their products and services. Customers are also starting to research comments and reviews of your products and services online. They want a response from your business or may not consider your business if you do not have an online presence. Smartphones, apps, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc), photos, video, and file sharing are all ways for customers to shorten the wait to get answers about the products and prices they are considering. What is your business doing to ensure that you can deliver a product or service without the customer feeling like they are waiting for you?
As planner of intense family vacations, my husband and daughter know that most trips will require a visit to a museum or art gallery. Sometimes the most memorable museums are not found on the first page of tourist guidebooks. My dad once made a stop at the World's Deepest Hand-dug Well in Greensburg, KS. While we tease him about it today, I have to admit to remembering what I saw that day (mostly a dark hole). My parents led me to the understanding that exploring fine arts, history and science shouldn't be left to the textbooks in a classroom or found at Disneyland. As a college kid, I would cut through the SD Art Museum to warm up on cold winter days. So our daughter began her travels with visits to Science City in Kansas City, MS, to the Madison Children's Museum, Madison, WI, Minnesota Children's Museum and often to the Kirby Science Discovery Center at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, SD.
This past weekend we brought my niece and nephew (ages 8 and 3) to the Children's Museum of South Dakota for an incredible surprise. The amazing part was that it held entertainment for the adults, a teen, a tween and a three year old! There was art, music, science, nature, culture, history, and lots of physical activity (with handicap accessibility!). As a teacher, I've found you have to vary your methods because people learn in so many different ways. Hearing, seeing, touching, talking and sometimes smelling are ways people remember. This museum hit all of our senses and was immediately a memorable experience for our family.
Our travels have led to other amazing discoveries:
The Art Institute of Chicago introduced us the pointillism of Seurat
Shedd Aquarium in Chicago brought the ocean to the midwest
The Joslyn of Omaha gave a new appreciation for Chihuly blown-glass and Remington sculptures
The Guggenheim near Central Park was filled with the architecture and ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright
The Metropolitan Museum of Art brought ancient history alive inside of NYC
The Smithsonian Museum of American History evoked patriotism at the sight of the Star-Spangled Banner
The Newseum in Washington, DC helped Hannah explore a career in Journalism
The Museum of Science in Boston gave an appreciation for the International Space Station and the excitement of lightening
Museums and social media bring new ways of learning, exploring and understanding to us. We connect the content to our own experiences and bring the past alive. Our senses have to be activated to remember the message. Because we never know what exhibit will be most meaningful to someone, it is important to keep wandering through the galleries of information that you want to show your customers. You make the best connections when you bring excitement and wonder to your clients.
What museum has made the best connection with you?
Riding high at Science City
Seeing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution
September 12th headlines from around the world at the Newseum
Star Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian Museum of American History
T-Rex and other monsters
Our calendar revolves around a tennis schedule. Wimbledon and the Opens have nothing on what happens on local courts. Sportsmanship mandates this is a quiet sport; no yelling, no name-calling or even referees. Kids quickly learn to make their own calls fairly and parents are expected to follow this etiquette. Even more unusual, competitors are encouraged to clap when their opponent makes a good shot, a “let” (re-do) is called if there is any shot in question and if you miss the first serve you can try again. This is a lifetime sport played as individuals (singles), doubles or mixed doubles (men and women actually playing on the same team)! Eternal friendships develop from a diverse group of people from around the world. Many people claim they can’t understand the rules or the scoring yet they become mesmerized in watching a great match.
Social media is tennis in every sense of the game. It begins as a simple back and forth among friends and can evolve into a great match for your business.
The rules are simple and understandable:
-Play regularly, play fairly and play with style. Start with the basics and add some shots when you’re ready. Maybe start on Facebook, then add Twitter or read blogs and start to comment before writing your own blog.
-If you need a lesson, find a good coach.
-You are encouraged to cheer for others. In social media, this means thanking the businesses that play with you, retweet or mention those that are your friends, and share quality content that can help everyone.
-If you miss on the first serve, keep trying. Some people worry about not having a huge following or many commenters. This mean you just need to keep trying and you will eventually see results. Even the unseeded players can move up the ranks!
Like tennis courts, social media can be found almost anywhere from small town parks to international professional venues. Don’t pretend you can’t learn the game.
Outdoor sports, natural suntans, warm rain, sandals, sailboats and convertibles are rare in South Dakota. The longest day of the year in South Dakota brings the rare warmth and reprieve from winter (which is really the other nine months for me!). We make the most of our long nights, fire pits, and gardens. It is a celebration worthy of legal fireworks and family reunions. On this day of summer solstice, I was caught in a dilemma of “should I be working or playing?”. The rain gauge points to working so I’m again searching for an inside activity. Today’s social media topics seem to mainly be pleas for more sun!
Nature and social media seem to make strange companions. Mobile technology goes everywhere to create both annoyance and acceptance. Here are my latest examples: I was angry to see a girl texting DURING a tennis match yet just helped my daughter download the weather app to get weather warnings that might protect her and other kids at the courts. I have to admit to a few games of Angry Birds as a distraction yet my iBird app identifies real birds that appear in my trees. I haven’t found the need to text while I mow yet I saw that happen the other day!
Just as nature balances the seasons, we need to keep social media in balance with our lives. We can be aware of our natural surrounding while exploring those new trails where social media leads us. Leaving the office and computer behind from time to time is critical to enjoying our short, spectacular summers but don’t forget to share the season with your friends whenever and wherever you can!
What adventures can you share this summer?
This week I met with the Rural Learning Center in Howard, SD. They have spent years developing a community revitalization program whose success is contagious to other small towns looking to increase their population and economy. “Reimagine Rural” is the blog theme they use to promote the ideals of their organization. To re-imagine rural, they have created plans and partnerships that help organizations and businesses modernize and evolve.
Strategic planning and partnerships are key to successful change in any organization! Social media is playing a new role in the way we “Re-imagine Rural” and re-imagine any business. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, Manta, Foursquare, Blogs, photo/file sharing, etc… are new vocabulary words that businesses have heard of yet have not begun to re-imagine as the useful “partnerships” these can have in their business. In our conversation we really discussed the difference between attending a workshop/seminar and truly doing the hard work necessary to strategically plan for change and continuing the movement successfully.
Social media is not free, fast or easy. It requires deliberate, dedicated, and diligent work in order to revitalize your business community. While that may sound daunting, the key to making it manageable to find partnerships. Partners who do business with you, partners who succeed when you succeed and partners who promote you in a reciprocal manner.
KnowTECH Training provides practical and profitable strategies and training for social media. Our partnerships take on a very personalized program for supporting and continuing the success in social media. Organizations need continued support and conversations not just a one-time workshop/seminar. Lindsey Karlson, Community Outreach Coordinator at the Rural Learning Center , provided a great analogy of people gathering in a small town on a Saturday night to celebrate and support one another and that can now be re-imagined through online gatherings that keep partners celebrating and supporting each other no matter when or where they live.
Who are your partners in this new social movement? How do you re-imagine your business as a Saturday night social gathering?
What do you remember about life before wireless connections? I love new technology and getting devices to do all the tricks of a James Bond movie. Apps, widgets, RSS feeds, photo/file sharing, uploading/downloading are awesome when they just work. However, computer repair and troubleshooting test my patience. Last week, my Internet provider suggested that my wireless router was not functioning properly. A social media business can't live too long without a connection so we selected a new router and went about reconnecting every device in the house. My daughter's Nook, a Wii that gets Netflix movies, and 3 laptops (2 PC and a Mac) were lined up for their new set of instructions. Miraculously, we eventually got them all to connect and realized how long we'd lived without them working flawlessly.
While waiting for the "testing connection" to finish, Mike and I started questioning how someone started making all of these sets of numbers and mechanics function. We didn't imagine that the first router would be cranking out Facebook and Twitter feeds, connecting to a library of books (Nook), streaming movies through a videogame device, and serving as a phone when we Skype relatives. We also took a moment to laugh about how little the Palm Pilot really did (calendars and note-taking), how our first cell phone only stored three numbers, and how our daughter never seems to get involved in the drama of making this stuff work. It was a time to reconnect our past with our future and leave us wondering what our next router will be doing.
If you had to reconnect your house or business, what would you laugh about to break the tension of getting it all to work?
A few Tour De Kota riders were guests in our home last night. Even after a long ride they added laughter, friendship, and great music discussions to our lives. They remind me how easy it is to find things in common when you open your doors to an old friend. As the night went along, Patrick and I laughed about people we knew in our youth, Mark and I discuss our Richman-Gordman days, and everyone added stories as the lyrics of our favorite music reminded us we all had something to add to the conversation. They arrived as guests and left as friends.
Although our hometowns, professions, and hobbies all differ, social media finds a way to tie us together as new friends. I tagged their team photo on Facebook, Patrick made a blog post with video and photos, and Mark is starting to Twitter. Social media can find ways to keep us together yet it is extremely important to keep you door open to socialize in person. This is true in business as well, clients will start to like your business Facebook or Twitter yet you will need to invite them to come through your door and treat them as guests when they arrive.
It was so energizing to work with Prairie Repertory Theater yesterday. I loved seeing a costume drawing turning into a dress to be worn by an actor turning themselves into a character in a production with a theater company whose 41 year history is widely known in South Dakota! No part of this organization was working in isolation. They rely on one another for ideas, inspiration and growth. This is a perfect collaboration model for social media.
Social media allows you to take the stage to gain the ideas and reviews of others, to spotlight your personality or that of your company, to share photos and videos of your live performance. You don't have to be an expert to play a role in getting started with social marketing. See what others are doing in your field or take the lead in adding a Facebook fan page or a profile to LinkedIn, read a twitter feed, and most importantly collaborate for a spectacular production!
Dining, Kitchen, Coffee, Pool, Foosball, Poker, Pivot…these are the tables where you will find business being done today. Conference tables may be the key feature of any board room yet they often sit empty while the real work occurs at the same places friends and family gather for celebrations and serious talks. Homework at the table is not just for the kids. Kitchen table entrepreneurs are increasingly popular as blog topics and websites yet long-time, successful business owners would tell you they have always existed.
At a table in Wall, SD a cocktail napkin launched the original idea for KnowTECH Training. That idea of "what if we could…" has been evolving since that summer day in 2007. Social Media is no where to be found within that original idea. Facebook, Twitter, LInkedin, YouTube, Blogging, even digital photos or "smartphone" were not really part of our vocabulary and there STILL is a lot to learn. Everyday the increase of mobile technology, cloud computing, wi-fi devices, and apps causes businesses like mine to evolve in their marketing and training techniques.
KnowTECH can help you ease the fear of social media, the "waste of time" thinking, and the "I don't have time" mentality. If you are still unsure where your seat is at the table, it's time for your business to grab a napkin or chair at the table and say "what if we…"
Efficient, Proficient, Sufficient, Ancient…(if you need more -cient ending words you can use this Word By Letter site). Most of us struggle with the idea of using technology in the most efficient way. In April, I decided I needed a better way to manage my Facebook (personal and business), Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress Blog, YouTube Channel, Yelp, Manta, Google Profile, Bing map sites (and I'm sure I'll remember a few more just after I hit send). Keeping my clients practical and profitable was starting to seem less than efficient in my own life!
In April, I tested three sites that claim to help integrate and manage the social media mayhem. I found these three (Sprout Social, Postling, Post Rank ) to be affordable and easy to manage. Each site had its forté. Sprout Social had easy graphics and basic stats (yet only monitored three social sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), Postling allowed to post information to multiple sites easily, and Post Rank provided the deepest analytics. For the time being I am choosing to stick with Postling because I find it most efficient for what I currently need and the free version is working well. I may recommend the others to my clients based on what they are looking to do in their social media marketing plans.
Free versions are most economically efficient yet I am planning to upgrade ($9/month) so that I can receive instant alerts when I receive a comment on any of my sites (being timely in critical to social media), I can have more detailed analytics and can keyword search to keep an eye on my brand or competitor.
I will keep you posted (or should I say Postlinged) as to how efficient this site really is over the course of time. Like most tech innovations, this site too shall pass when something more EFFICIENT comes along.