Best Sites For Figuring Out Small Biz Social Media

August 31, 2009

Best Sites For Figuring Out Small Biz Social Media

There are probably a million websites on the web that tout solutions for marketing and promoting your business online. When you are getting started it can be very difficult to know who the true professionals are and it can take months to figure out where the high quality information is located.

Below are five great sites I recently found on Small Biz Survival that will help you figure out the small biz social media that often leaves us frustrated.

These sites offer an understandable point of view and explanation on all types of small biz social media that you could ever need information on.


Humor: How to Be a Computer Expert

August 31, 2009


Selfish Smokers – Funny and stupid customers

August 25, 2009


Me: “Can I help you, sir?”

Customer: “A packet of 20 Marlboro Lights, please.”

(I hand him the cigarettes.)

Customer: “Wait, I don’t want these ones.

Me: “Why? They’re Marlboro Lights. Did you change your mind?”

Customer: “No, I don’t want ones with this health warning about cigarettes causing impotency.”

Me: “Ok. Do you want ’smoking harms those around you,’ or ’smoking causes testicular cancer?’”

Customer: “Give me the ‘harms others’ ones.”

"If Websites Were People"

August 25, 2009

If Websites Were People

“If Websites Were People”

Badly Placed Internet Ads

August 25, 2009

Sometimes the Internet messes up. Here are some ads that don’t really fit with the article next to it.


Funny Google Suggest Results

August 18, 2009


When you start a search at Google, the software tries to help by offering real-time suggestions to complete your search query as you type.

One of the factors in the algorithm that determines the results is the overall popularity of searches by other users.

1. When will…

2. Why is my g…

3. Can I have a…

4. Why do…

Photos by Google.

The Boss Who Laid Himself Off

August 18, 2009


My brother-in-law “Bob” (not his real name, because I promised not to identify him) has always been a tough top manager who brooks no fools. For more than 30 years, he’s worked for a successful, family-owned electronics distribution company, rising from the sales ranks to become president and general manager. Bob had fired dozens upon dozens of people over the years, and he had no compunction when it came to pulling the trigger. Recently, Bob’s company was getting ready to pull the trigger, unfortunately, again.

But this time, Bob laid himself off — not because he wanted to or was quite ready to retire, but because he wanted to save the positions of two younger managers whose names were on the layoff rolls.

Over the years, I’ve heard Bob complain about “coddled and demanding” Gen X and Gen Y workers. But he’d trained and mentored these younger managers and had grown fond of them. He told me, “I was looking at two good, loyal, hardworking people with young families who are about to be cut through no fault of their own. One of them had a wife who was eight months pregnant with her first child. The other one had two kids and an unemployed husband. They would be facing a horrific job market.”

By contrast, Bob had saved a decent, if not handsome, retirement nest-egg; as a very conservative investor (he only bought into municipal bonds and risk-averse mutual funds), he hadn’t lost all that much in the Wall Street meltdown. After 30 years at one firm, the idea of change was daunting, but also inviting. He tapped his network, landed a part-time consulting job that was perfect for him, and told the owner his plan. Take the younger employees’ names off the layoff list. Put mine on it.

Many older workers can’t afford to retire, and the recession is keeping them in their jobs. But others don’t want to retire simply because they enjoy working and wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they didn’t go to the office every day. Unfortunately, their reluctance to move on is having a devastating effect on younger workers who either can’t break into the job market, or who, lacking seniority, end up on the “last in, first out” layoff list.

That seems to make Bob something of a hero for what he did. The question is, are there more Bobs out there? Does his move signal a bigger change, or is he a rare, heartwarming exception to the rule?

Should more older workers think about passing the baton, if they can afford to?

99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications

August 18, 2009


If you haven’t heard of Twitter by now, you must be living under a rock! It is everywhere, and everyone is using it. To say that the rise of Twitter has been explosive would be an understatement. As a result of this growth, the number of Twitter apps and tools available has become extensive. So, in this post we have filtered them down to a respectable 99.

Below, we present 99 Essential Twitter Tools and Applications, split into the following categories: Tools and Productivity Apps, Statistics and Analytics, Find New Twitter Friends Apps, Search Twitter Apps, Web-Based Mobile Apps, WordPress Twitter Plug-Ins, Adobe Air Twitter Apps and Firefox Twitter Extensions.

You may want to take a look at the following related posts:

Tools and Productivity Apps

Twittercal is a service that connects your Twitter account to your Google Calendar and lets you add events easily, directly from your Twitter account.

Twitter Web App

TwitPay is a simple way to send payments via Twitter.

Twitter Web App

Find, follow and interact with businesses, apps and services on Twitter.

Twitter Web App
Users can post to their Twitter account by sending a message to their own unique email address.

Twitter Web App

Promote your business, special offers, promotions and events with Twitzu.

Twitter Web App

Twuffer allows the Twitter user to compose a list of future tweets and schedule their release.

Twitter Web App

This app allows you to post Tweets at a later time and date.

Twitter Web App

Send private Twitter messages to specific groups of friends.

Twitter Web App

Twitter Alerts
Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company and anything else, via hourly email updates.

Twitter Web App

TwitPic lets you share photos on Twitter. You can post pictures to TwitPic from your phone, the TwitPic home page or your Twitter account.

Twitter Web App

Your Twitter Karma
Twitter needs a decent page for your followers, with the functionality to sort them by type. This Web app does that.

Twitter Web App

Mr. Tweet
A personal networking assistant for Twitter, helping you identify relevant followers, recommending you to other users and regularly computing your Twitter usage statistics.

Twitter Web App

Remember The Milk
Remember The Milk keeps track of your tasks. Simply add Remember The Milk as your friend, and you can add and interact with your tasks through direct messages and get reminders, too.

Twitter Web App

StrawPoll is the coolest way to follow the opinions of people on Twitter. With this app, you can create your own poll.

Twitter Web App

If Twitter goes down and you start to feel withdrawal symptoms, use this service to continue using it. Twiddict makes sure all your tweets end up going to the proper place.

Twitter Web App

Twitter Friends Network Browser
Browse through your Twitter friends, your friends’ friends, your friends’ friends’ friends…

Twitter Web App

Post your RSS feed to Twitter automatically.

Twitter Web App

Twitturly is a service for tracking what URLs people are talking about, as they talk about them, on Twitter.

Twitter Web App

The Twitter Dictionary, aka Twittonary, provides explanations of various Twitter-related words.

Twitter Web App

Enhance your social media marketing by offering discount coupons to the Twitter-sphere!

Twitter Web App

Twitter translator: Simply type in your tweet, and twenglish will twanslate your tweet for you.

Twitter Web App

Send a greeting card, a surprise message or an invitation on Twitter.

Twitter Web App

Tweet What You Spend
Cash-tracking made simple with Twitter.

Twitter Web App

Twittertise allows you to advertise on Twitter and track the success of your branded communications with customers.

Twitter Web App

With TwitWall, you can embed your favorite videos and widgets and upload your photos, MP3 music, podcasts, you name it.

Twitter Web App

Unfollow Tweeps who have not posted tweets recently.

Select a random Twitter follower, friend or retweeter.

If you become overwhelmed by a Twitter user’s constant tweets, you can keep them quiet with a single click of a button.

Twitterless tells you who stops following you and graphs your follower history over time, displaying the info in a variety of useful views.

With Twonvert, you can easily convert your tweets into SMS shorthand language and say more with less characters.

Create a sticky note for your tweets.

Translate from English to text message shorthand and vice versa.

Twitter Statistics and Analytics
This website is constantly being updated to allow you to find the most popular Twitter users. Want to be on the list? Twitter constantly.

Twitter Web App

An app that tracks your number of tweets per hour and per month. It basically creates a graph based on your tweets.

Twitter Web App

Twitter Grader
Twitter Grader measures the power of your Twitter profile. How high do you rank?

Twitter Web App

Similar to Twitter Grader, twInfluence lets you calculate the indirect influence of you and your followers on Twitter.

Twitter Web App

A thorough analytical Web app.

Twitter Web App

Enter keywords or a phrase and see how often it appears on Twitter.

Twitter Web App

See trends on Twitter; find out what’s hot and what people are saying about it.

Twitter Web App

TweetRush provides estimated statistics on Twitter usage over a period of time.

Twitter Web App

Just how much time do you spend on Twitter? Are you wasting time?

Twitter Web App

Find New Twitter Friends Apps is a real-time Twitter search engine to find new friends.

Twitter Web App

Just Tweet It
Just Tweet It makes it easier for tweeters to find other tweeters with similar interests.

Twitter Web App

Friend or Follow
Who are you following who is not following you back?

Twitter Web App

Qwitter: Catching Twitter quitters
Qwitter emails you when someone stops following you on Twitter.

Twitter Web App

Twubble is a Twitter extension that helps you find more friends.

Twitter Web App

Twitter Follower-Friend Ratio
Your Twitter ratio is the ratio of your followers to friends (i.e. people you follow). It is measured with the TFF ratio (Twitter follower to friend ratio). The higher the ratio, the more Twitter heat you pack.

Nearby Tweets
Who is tweeting close to you? This app helps you connect with them.

Search Twitter Apps

WhosTalkin is a tool that allows users to search for conversations on the topics they care about most.

Twitter Web App

Twitter Search
Search Twitter is an excellent search engine that allows you to find out what’s happening in the world beyond your personal timeline.

Twitter Web App

Flaptor Twitter Search
Comprehensive Twitter search.

Twitter Web App

Input a Twitter username or keywords in the Twitscoop search box to track a conversation, topic or conference.

Twitter Web App

With Twellow, you can search for someone on Twitter or browse through various tweet categories.

Twitter Web App

twitSeeker is an alternate search engine for finding Twitter users and browsing the results in one interface.

Twitter Web App

Twitter Web-Based Mobile Apps

Hahlo is an excellent and fully featured Twitter client for your iPhone and iPod Touch.

Twitter Web App

Send messages to Twitter using your voice.

Twitter Web App

PocketTweets is a Web-based Twitter client for the Apple iPhone.

Twitter Web App

TinyTwitter works on any Java-enabled device and any Windows Mobile Pocket PC or smartphone.

Twitter Web App

TwitterBerry is a mobile client for posting updates to Twitter from your BlackBerry.

Twitter Web App

Share pictures and status updates from your mobile.

Twitter Web App

Slandr delivers an enhanced mobile website for Twitter.

Twitter2Go provides a quick and simple way to update your Twitter status.

Discover, connect with and send messages to people nearby. Upload photos and update your Twitter account.

Twittelator is an all-around great new application for your iPhone.

TwitterFon is a simple, clean, easy to use and super-fast Twitter client for your iPhone and iPod Touch.

iTweet 2
iTweet 2 has built-in auto-refresh, search and hash tags. You can view user bios and locations and also view conversations with the “in reply to” links.

GPS Twit
Run GPS Twit on your phone to make it easy for your friends to find you.

An open-source Twitter client for your iPhone.

WordPress Twitter Plug-Ins

Twitter for WordPress
Twitter for WordPress displays yours latest tweets in your WordPress blog.

Twitter Tools
This plug-in integrates your WordPress blog and Twitter account. Pull your tweets into your blog, and create new tweets from blog posts from within WordPress.

Twitpress is a WordPress plug-in that submits a user-definable tweet to your Twitter account, notifying Twitter followers or friends that you have posted a new blog entry.

SimpleTwitter allows you to add Twitter messages to WordPress templates (and not just in the sidebar).

Tweet This
A plug-in that adds a Twitter link to every post and page on your WordPress website, so that visitors can share your blog entries through their Twitter accounts. It also shortens URLs automatically.

This plug-in imports any tweets that discuss your blog or post. The tweets appear as comments.

Install TwitterCounter on your blog to display the number of followers you have on Twitter.

MyTwitter allows you to display your Tweets on your WordPress website and update your status on the MyTwitter settings page.

With the TweetRoll widget, you can display the number of your followers and friends.

Twitt-Twoo is a simple little plug-in that allows you to update your Twitter status right from your blog’s sidebar.

Adobe Air Twitter Apps

Toro for Twitter
Designed to be simple, Toro uses an experimental Twitter client library to remove the Twitter API limit.

Twitter Web App

Most of the features available on the Twitter website are accessible through twhirl, with usability enhancements.

Twitter Web App

Tweetr is a Twitter client that allows you to send and receive Twitter messages, but with some added cool features: support for taking photos with your webcam and sending files (up to 10 MB).

Twitter Web App

TweetDeck aims to improve the existing functionality of Twitter by taking the abundance of Twitter feeds and breaking it down into more manageable bite-sized pieces.

Twitter Web App

DestroyTwitter is a series of canvases that constantly update to keep tweets current and up to date using notifications that appear as soon as a new tweet is posted.

Twitter Web App

TwitterLocal is an Adobe AIR-based app that allows you to filter tweets by location.

Twitter Web App

Spaz is a well-designed and well-developed Twitter client.

Twitter Web App

Short for “Snooks’ Twitter,” Snitter is a cross-platform desktop Twitter client.

Twitter Web App

Some features of Twitch are TwitPic integration, URL shortening, the ability to combine friends and replies, reply-highlighting hash-tag support and more.

Firefox Twitter Extensions

TwitBin is a Firefox extension that allows you to keep up with all of your Twitter conversations directly from your browser’s sidebar. Send and receive messages, share links and more.

Power Twitter
Power Twitter adds a multitude of features to the Twitter website interface.

This extension adds a tiny icon to the status bar that notifies you when your friends have updated their Twitter status. It also has a small text input field to allow you to update your own status.

This Firefox extension lets you post tweets longer than 140 characters on Twitter.

TwitterBar allows you to post to Twitter from the Firefox address bar.

Twitter Search
This plug-in gives you quick access to the real-time Twitter search engine.

An essential Twitter plug-in for the Firefox quick search feature.

TwitterEyes keeps track of your character count as you compose tweets and replaces characters if you need extra room.

Finally, Worth A Look

Is Twitter Down?
Is Twitter down just for me or for everyone? This great app gives you a simple answer: yes or no.

Twitter Web App

An interesting Twitter experiment: click on a keyword on the left, and see what tweets are currently being published that contain that word.

Twitter Web App

A real-time geographic visualization of tweets. Amazing.

Twitter Web App

Similar to Twittervision (above) but with a sleeker interface.

Twitter Web App

8 U.S. Economic Trends That Could Not Go On Forever

August 15, 2009


The accounting and consulting firm Deloitte puts out a semi-annual magazine called the Deloitte Review. The most recent issue is quite interesting and covers topics ranging from open source innovation to Chinese manufacturing to the growth of solar energy.

But the article that jumped out at me is The Great Transformation, which covers 8 U.S. economic trends that could not last forever. Each trend is described briefly and illustrated with excellent charts. The 8 trends are:

  1. Private sector debt levels could not keep growing
  2. Trade deficits could not continue to deepen
  3. Foreign appetite for U.S. investments is not sustainable
  4. Consumer spending as a % of GDP could not continue to grow
  5. Consumer savings could not continue to shrink
  6. Home ownership levels were not sustainable
  7. Financial services share of corporate profitability will have to rebound
  8. Low energy prices are not sustainable

The article argues that recession and related economic turmoil is creating a fundamental realignment between the U.S. government and the private sector. Key quote:

“Going forward, the U.S. government is going to have a much larger role with the issues of governance, green economics, energy and transparency taking center stage.”

The article also forecasts increased government spending, taxes and regulation.

We’re starting work on an forecast of what the post-recession economy looks like for small businesses. And these economic shifts all will have an impact on the future of small business.

Top 5 reasons why “The customer is Always Right” is wrong

August 14, 2009


The customer is always right?

When the customer isn’t right – for your business

One woman who frequently flew on Southwest, was constantly disappointed with every aspect of the company’s operation. In fact, she became known as the “Pen Pal” because after every flight she wrote in with a complaint.

She didn’t like the fact that the company didn’t assign seats; she didn’t like the absence of a first-class section; she didn’t like not having a meal in flight; she didn’t like Southwest’s boarding procedure; she didn’t like the flight attendants’ sporty uniforms and the casual atmosphere.

Her last letter, reciting a litany of complaints, momentarily stumped Southwest’s customer relations people. They bumped it up to Herb’s [Kelleher, CEO of Southwest] desk, with a note: ‘This one’s yours.’

In sixty seconds, Kelleher wrote back and said, ‘Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.’”

The phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909, and is typically used by businesses to:

  1. Convince customers that they will get good service at this company
  2. Convince employees to give customers good service

Fortunately more and more businesses are abandoning this maxim – ironically because it leads to bad customer service.

Here are the top five reasons why “The customer is always right” is wrong.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Gordon Bethune is a brash Texan (as is Herb Kelleher, coincidentally) who is best known for turning Continental Airlines around “From Worst to First,” a story told in his book of the same title from 1998. He wanted to make sure that both customers and employees liked the way Continental treated them, so he made it very clear that the maxim “the customer is always right” didn’t hold sway at Continental.

In conflicts between employees and unruly customers he would consistently side with his people. Here’s how he puts it:

When we run into customers that we can’t reel back in, our loyalty is with our employees. They have to put up with this stuff every day. Just because you buy a ticket does not give you the right to abuse our employees . . .

We run more than 3 million people through our books every month. One or two of those people are going to be unreasonable, demanding jerks. When it’s a choice between supporting your employees, who work with you every day and make your product what it is, or some irate jerk who demands a free ticket to Paris because you ran out of peanuts, whose side are you going to be on?

You can’t treat your employees like serfs. You have to value them . . . If they think that you won’t support them when a customer is out of line, even the smallest problem can cause resentment.

So Bethune trusts his people over unreasonable customers. What I like about this attitude is that it balances employees and customers, where the “always right” maxim squarely favors the customer – which is not a good idea, because, as Bethune says, it causes resentment among employees.

Of course there are plenty of examples of bad employees giving lousy customer service. But trying to solve this by declaring the customer “always right” is counter-productive.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

Using the slogan “The customer is always right” abusive customers can demand just about anything – they’re right by definition, aren’t they? This makes the employees’ job that much harder, when trying to rein them in.

Also, it means that abusive people get better treatment and conditions than nice people. That always seemed wrong to me, and it makes much more sense to be nice to the nice customers to keep them coming back.

3: Some customers are bad for business

Most businesses think that “the more customers the better”. But some customers are quite simply bad for business.

Danish IT service provider ServiceGruppen proudly tell this story:

One of our service technicians arrived at a customer’s site for a maintenance task, and to his great shock was treated very rudely by the customer.

When he’d finished the task and returned to the office, he told management about his experience. They promptly cancelled the customer’s contract.

Just like Kelleher dismissed the irate lady who kept complaining (but somehow also kept flying on Southwest), ServiceGruppen fired a bad customer. Note that it was not even a matter of a financial calculation – not a question of whether either company would make or lose money on that customer in the long run. It was a simple matter of respect and dignity and of treating their employees right.

4: It results in worse customer service

Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency, took it even further. CEO Hal Rosenbluth wrote an excellent book about their approach called Put The Customer Second – Put your people first and watch’em kick butt.

Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first. Put employees first, and they will be happy at work. Employees who are happy at work give better customer service because:

  • They care more about other people, including customers
  • They have more energy
  • They are happy, meaning they are more fun to talk to and interact with
  • They are more motivated

On the other hand, when the company and management consistently side with customers instead of with employees, it sends a clear message that:

  • Employees are not valued
  • That treating employees fairly is not important
  • That employees have no right to respect from customers
  • That employees have to put up with everything from customers

When this attitude prevails, employees stop caring about service. At that point, real good service is almost impossible – the best customers can hope for is fake good service. You know the kind I mean: corteous on the surface only.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

Herb Kelleher agrees, as this passage From Nuts! the excellent book about Southwest Airlines shows:

Herb Kelleher […] makes it clear that his employees come first — even if it means dismissing customers. But aren’t customers always right? “No, they are not,” Kelleher snaps. “And I think that’s one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don’t carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, ‘Fly somebody else. Don’t abuse our people.’”

If you still think that the customer is always right, read this story from Bethune’s book “From Worst to First”:

A Continental flight attendant once was offended by a passenger’s child wearing a hat with Nazi and KKK emblems on it. It was pretty offensive stuff, so the attendant went to the kid’s father and asked him to put away the hat. “No,” the guy said. “My kid can wear what he wants, and I don’t care who likes it.”

The flight attendant went into the cockpit and got the first officer, who explained to the passenger the FAA regulation that makes it a crime to interfere with the duties of a crew member. The hat was causing other passengers and the crew discomfort, and that interfered with the flight attendant’s duties. The guy better put away the hat.

He did, but he didn’t like it. He wrote many nasty letters. We made every effort to explain our policy and the federal air regulations, but he wasn’t hearing it. He even showed up in our executive suite to discuss the matter with me. I let him sit out there. I didn’t want to see him and I didn’t want to listen to him. He bought a ticket on our airplane, and that means we’ll take him where he wants to go. But if he’s going to be rude and offensive, he’s welcome to fly another airline.

The fact is that some customers are just plain wrong, that businesses are better of without them, and that managers siding with unreasonable customers over employees is a very bad idea, that results in worse customer service.

So put your people first. And watch them put the customers first.