“I like jazz, but don’t want a trumpet,” and other Facebook advertising woes.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user Ed Yourdon.

Facebook, I really want to spend money on you. Unfortunately your native ad management platform is limited. It is very hard to determine how well those ads will perform without the use of third party tools or vendors. Unlike Google Adwords or Bing, companies (small and large) have approached Facebook advertising with some trepidation.

The problem is two fold:

Facebook advertising = miniature billboards.

Advertising on any social media outlet is akin to billboards you see on a busy highway. Your focus is on avoiding crazy drivers,  listening to music, or chatting with your friend (hands-free of course). By chance something flashy or weird catches your attention. It could be one of those sign twirling guys or a billboard. There’s an even slimmer chance the ad actually relates to you. Now imaging instead of driving, you’re on Facebook or Twitter. You’re more concerned about reading posts from friends or responding to comments on your recently uploaded pictures. Just by chance, an ad about cheap scuba gear (because you’ve “liked scuba”) on the right side catches our attention. Maybe you’ll click, maybe you won’t.

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How technology changes our concept of “free speech”.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user jeshua.nace.

These days, the news is filled with reaction to the anti-Islamic video, leading to violence and tragedy on both sides. While I’m not here to discuss who is “right” or “wrong”, the concept of free speech becomes the center of discussion, at least here in the U.S. What isn’t dicussed as much is how technology and a highly connected world will truly alter our legal interpretation of what is or is not speech protected by the First Amendment.  A disclaimer: I’m no law student. I have no experience in interpreting Constitutional law. But I can totally fake it. Here goes.

As it is currently written and enforced, what is protected is a governmental movement (either by federal or state laws) to suppress the ability to freely express ourselves. For example, if Congress passed a law limiting the distribution of publications that criticize the government, or if your state passed a law to prevent demonstrations in public areas – these would be seen as violating First Amendment rights.  Sounds obvious, however, what isn’t protected is far more interesting. Here are a few examples:

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“Your company sucks!” How to turn negative customer comments into something positive.

One angry customer.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user GregPC

Merely acknowledging negative customer comments about your company on social media can do just as much good as resolving their issue – and far greater good than doing nothing at all.

We’re seeing more companies become comfortable in utilizing social media as a too for customer service. Some simply use their company’s Facebook Wall to respond to posts. Others use third party apps like Get Satisfaction or UserVoice to manage the conversation. It certainly takes guts to add this level of transparency to your company’s operations, which is why I feel more (if not every) company who holds customer service in high regard should have some modest level of social media presence. But many don’t, and the #1 reason from management seems to be “I don’t want customers to write nasty things about us.” Or taken another way, “I’m not going to launch a tool just so everyone can bitch about us.”

I’ll admit that there is a subset of your customer base that will never be happy, regardless how much you try. However, I’ve experienced that most customers are surprised, maybe even delighted, that they simply received a prompt yet brief personalized message from a company saying, “I’m sorry.” This does wonders to a company’s social image and brand. But why?

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Chicken/Egg Problem for the Online World: Building an Online Marketplace

Image courtesy of
Flickr user pshab.

I love business ideas that attempt to build a niche online marketplace. You aren’t selling anything – just bringing two groups of people together: one group that has something to give, the other who wants that something. Just charge a finder’s fee, membership fee, or take a % transaction fee. Highly scalable with relatively low operating expense during the latter part of the growth curve. This is of course completely dependent on keeping a quality customer experience and, oh right, the whole “does this add value” thing. (Oh right, that thing).

The problem that anyone who has built one or two online marketplaces can tell you is how to get the ball rolling in the first place. It truly is an online incarnation of the old chicken/egg conundrum: which came first? The buyer or the seller?

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Excerpt from Race to the Starting Line: How to Succeed In College by Leaving Grades Behind.

CHAPTER 1: “What does a bachelor’s degree mean to an employer?”

Sounds like a simple question with a simple answer. Many students I speak to respond to this question with various statements:

  • “A bachelor’s degree shows your experience.”
  • “…shows accomplishment”
  • “It lets companies know how smart you are.”

The real answer is far more basic. Based on years of experience as an employer interviewing many candidates, as well as asking many friends who are heads of HR departments from companies large and small, I’m here to tell you the real answer:

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