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Mark Zuckerberg IPO Letter – Lessons Learned

By now you’ve probably heard that Facebook has filed for its IPO, in a valuation range between $75-100 BILLION dollars. Very amazing stuff. I am personally in awe of what Facebook has accomplished in such a short period of time, and quite honestly, I believe that it has lots of room to grow in the foreseeable future.

Besides all that, what can you learn from Facebook’s IPO? Well, if you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend that you read the letter that Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) included in the IPO filing. You can find it here: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mark-zuckerberg%E2%80%99s-ipo-letter–why-facebook-exists.html

From Mr. Zuckerberg’s letter, there are some very important lessons to be learned. First of all, check out this particular quote from the letter:

“As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use. This makes it easier to discover the best products and improve the quality and efficiency of their lives.”

As I’ve been saying for quite awhile, Facebook (and the Internet in general) are moving the world closer and closer to a tight knit community, similar to the kinds that were found in small towns years and years ago. This means that if your business doesn’t deliver the service that you promise, people will find out quickly and you WILL go out of business. For this reason, you absolutely must focus on quality and treat all of your customers as individuals, rather than just a paycheck. The empowerment of the “little guy” means that even one dissatisfied user or customer can wreck havoc on the state of your company. But…to put a positive spin on it, a satisfied customer can become the best salesman (or saleswoman) your company could ever dream of having.

Another quote: “Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.”

This has valuable connotations for any business, not just a rapidly growing tech start-up. If there’s one thing you can learn from Facebook’s business culture, it is that building something valuable and great should be the primary goal of your organization. For the business leader’s out there, this means making decisions based on customer value, not internal politics.

One last quote: “Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.”

As businesses grow, they tend to reduce the number of risks they take. The opposite needs to happen. As a business leader, you MUST be willing to try new things and be bold. Opportunities are out there for the taking but only the bold will seize them.

I could go on for hours with lessons from this letter but I’ll end it there. Let us know what you think about Mr. Zuckerberg’s letter and the Facebook IPO in the comments below!

 

Twitter – The Ultimate Customer Service Tool

If you’ve been following our blog for awhile, you know I’m a big fan of Twitter for marketing and customer outreach. What I didn’t know until yesterday is that Twitter can be the ultimate customer service tool.

 

I was having trouble with my company’s Hootsuite account yesterday due to an improper login. First, I checked their Help documents but didn’t get too much out of them. However, I noticed that they said to contact them via Twitter if you need more help. So, I decided to Tweet my issue @ them and quickly got a response and assistance. Hootsuite’s customer service via Twitter was great and solved the problem quickly and efficiently.

 

My theory about Twitter’s customer service effectiveness is that it makes the company’s customer service record public and viewable to ALL. This includes other customers, investors, reporters, etc. When the spotlight is on a company to do well, they will usually perform. This holds great lessons for all businesses. When you provide great customer service, and the world can see it, your reputation as a company gets improved. Customer service via Twitter is another opportunity for company branding and should not be missed.
I wouldn’t recommend putting customer service entirely through Twitter. Some people just feel more comfortable talking through email or on the phone so those options should be available as well. But showcasing Twitter for customer service will continue to build your social media assets.

 

Do you have any social media uses that are outside the box? Let us know in the comments below!

Numbers Don’t Lie…Or Do They?

Happy Monday everyone! Since it’s a Monday and its snowing outside (at least where I am – Maryland), I’m in the mood to take a moment to talk about a trend in social media, particularly Facebook, that is a little disturbing to me. This trend is the emphasis on the number of Likes on a Facebook page.

Everyone these days seems obsessed with getting to 1,000, 10,000 or some predetermined number of Likes on their Facebook page. In itself, this motivation is not a bad thing. A large number of Likes indicates a thriving community of “fans”. The more Likes, the larger your reach (in theory).

The problem comes when people start trying to use shortcuts to attain a high number of Likes on their page. Luckily, with the new Facebook Insights (detailed Insights blog post coming next week), it has become easier to see that shortcuts don’t result in any net benefits to your business.

The particular shortcut I am referring to is the use of “Robots” to increase Likes on a page. These Robots will Like your page (to vastly increase the overall number of Likes) but then don’t give you any benefit since they are not customers, users, or otherwise engaged fans.

Below are 2 Insight screenshots. Take a look and see for yourself which company is doing a better job of Facebook marketing:

Company 1 (3010 Total Likes):

Company 1 Insights

Company 2 (1028 Total Likes):

Company 2 Insights

 

If you answered that Company 2 was doing a better job at Facebook Marketing, you are 100% correct. With the new Insights, the key metric to pay attention to is “Weekly Total Reach”. This metric means the number of people who saw your updates on their Newsfeed during the particular time period. When people see your updates and posts, it increases brand awareness and drives customer loyalty and sales.

From these Insights, it is very obvious that Company 1 has resorted to using Robots. Despite having nearly 3 times as many total Likes as Company 2, Company 1 has about one fifth the Weekly Total Reach. They were only able to reach 5.4% of their community. This, for lack of a better word, is pathetic. In contrast, Company 2 is engaged in organic growth and was able to reach 58.6% of their community this past week.

I haven’t even gotten to the fact that Robots are against Facebook’s policy and can get your account suspended. So, to sum it up, Robots don’t improve your social media and they can get your account suspended. Oh, and you have to pay a company that specializes in Robots to Like your page.

Its a LOSE, LOSE, LOSE situation! A better solution is to focus on good old fashioned content to engage your existing community and promote organic growth. If you absolutely must increase Likes, a good way to do it is through Facebook ads, which can be targeted to the appropriate audience and are very efficient. Be honest and SKILLFUL with your Facebook marketing and the sky is the limit!

Have your own comments, questions, or ideas about Facebook, Robots, the weather, or anything else? Comment below and we’ll get back to you!

 

P.S. Company 2 is an Upaya Services client. Want similar results? Contact Us today!

Email Marketing Basics

In the normal course of business, you’ve probably collected emails from current customers and prospective customers. If you know what you’re doing, these emails can become extremely useful for customer engagement and sales. In today’s world of flooded inboxes, it’s important to follow certain rules when sending emails. I will be getting into this in more detail over the upcoming weeks and months but here are 3 quick tips to implement immediately:

 

Subject Line

Make your subject line as interesting as possible. Obviously, your email content is very important but you need to make your subject as intriguing as possible so that recipients open the email. A major problem with email marketing today is low open rates, presumably because of the torrent of emails attacking people’s inboxes.

Short and Sweet

We know you have a lot to say in your email. However, try to keep your email as concise as possible, out of respect for the reader’s time. A useful technique is to link your email to a blog post or article where you can talk about the subject in more detail.

Personalization

Try your best to include the recipient’s name in the email and sign off with your own name. Some email list services (such as MailChimp and Aweber) make it really easy to do this.

 

We’re happy to help make your next email campaign a roaring success! Feel free to contact us with any questions. Happy New Year!

 

Upaya’s Social Media Marketing Solutions

In today’s business climate, every company needs a carefully crafted social strategy to integrate into its marketing program. Social media campaigns can be formulaic, or they can be excellent. Excellent campaigns are designed and executed with a solid knowledge of a company’s mission, its goals, and a clear understanding of who comprises its target audience and what that audience wants to see. At Upaya, it is this understanding that produce winning strategies with long term results. Our analysis and recommendations are tailored to meet your unique goals and provide insight into current trends, challenges, and opportunities.

We build social media campaigns by offering three categories of services:
Outreach: We work with you to identify your target audience. This step is critical in crafting authentic messages delivered with the right tone, to the right people and at the right time.
Content Development: At Upaya, our primary objective is to create and source content that compels cohesion around your products and services and, most important, your brand. We know that your growth and success depend not only upon your story but on how it is told. We invite people to hear your story and excite them to participate with content that matters.
Community Management: After building your social media infrastructure, we provide you with the tools, resources and training to maintain it in house, so you can grow and manage your community in ways that don’t impair your efficiency, but enhance it.

By integrating all elements/channels of your social media outreach/strategy, you create an economy of scale and offer a streamlined social media presence that promotes continuity and cohesion. Most importantly, your outreach reflects your unique brand and your social personality. We offer a dynamic and novel approach to social media: strategic insights, custom solutions, and a social media education. We provide general consults, design and implementation, do-it-yourself help and training, or something in between. We guarantee your satisfaction!

Upaya Services is SKILLFUL SOCIAL MEDIA!

Twitter: Using Mentions and Retweets to GET NOTICED!

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve made a Twitter account, followed some people, tweeted a few times, and are still waiting for the magic “Twitter effect”, which should be a nice bump in web traffic. Furthermore, your number of followers is stuck at somewhere less than 100. What are you doing wrong?

 

First, its important to understand one major factor in marketing: The key is to get your name OUT THERE as much as possible! Twitter gives you a couple ways to do that.

 

The easiest way is to reply to the people you follow. For example, if you see someone you’re following talking about a topic in your industry, you should definitely reply to them. Taking this one step further, spend 15 minutes each day searching Twitter for topics relevant to your industry and respond to users who are asking questions. This is a great way to gain a Twitter following and overall, improve your brand image.

 

Another way to gain a following is to tweet highly relevant and interesting content that your followers will “retweet”. Retweeting results in higher exposure to a variety of new audiences because your followers will be broadcasting your content to all of their followers. This can increase your follower count as well as raise brand awareness.

 

While its easy to read suggestions and put them away in the back of your mind, by far the most important aspect of Twitter marketing is consistency! You need to spend a minimum of 15 minutes Tweeting everyday. If you have a smart phone, its easy to get this done by Tweeting from your phone.

 

Contact us for more Twitter strategies and make sure to follow us on Twitter @upayaservices for constant updates and strategies!

 

Twitter Marketing: Driving traffic or only engaging customers and followers?

When people think of Twitter, they often think of it as solely a great method to
engage their existing customer and fan base. At best, business owners on Twitter
hope that they can gain new fans through their existing fan base by engagement
in “Retweets” or “Mentions”. However, I’m here to tell you that Twitter can be used
as a way to drive significant traffic and business opportunities to your site. Here are
our Top 3 tips to use for driving traffic to your site through Twitter:

1. Think of Twitter as an advertising platform. Your “followers” are the base
number of users you can directly advertise to. The “influence” of your
followers is important as well, because if they interact with you at all, their
followers will see your page and potentially follow you. For this reason, you
need to focus on increasing your number of followers. This can be done by
following relevant users and telling your existing customer base to follow
you on Twitter.
2. Use Links to get engagement on your page from your followers. Sending out
interesting links will result in retweets and increased mentions.
3. Engage with influencers in your business sector! When you engage with
these users, their followers will notice and be more inclined to follow you.

That’s it for now! We would love to help you build your Twitter following and
strategy. Feel free to email neilsoni[@]upayaservices.com if you have any Twitter
questions.

Do It Now!

SWIFT Design Group helps entrepreneurs take their start-ups to the next level. Often the primary fear of our clients with innovative new products is: how will they be able to compete with wealthier copy cat competitors after their innovative product is introduced to market. Lacking a satisfactory answer, they delay on coming to market at all, ensuring that they never lose the market, by never creating the market in the first place. This kind of procrastination is not driven by laziness, but by fear. But procrastination still threatens their future.

But FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real.

How secrecy can doom your start-up to everlasting purgatory
As a result of their fears, one of our clients had filed a 3 patent applications and waited 3 years for them to issue, before asking our help to build a company that would write software that could take advantage of them. And yet, even with issued patents — which means the technology has been published online by the US Patent and Trademark Office for everyone to see — our client refused to allow us to contract with anyone to develop the technology until we could raise over a half million dollars in investment.

The problem is that venture investors don’t invest in a ideas — they invest in a team – a team that is able to create measurable business objectives and achieve them. For the investor, the test of how good an idea isn’t dependent on how difficult the science is, etc. The measure of how good the idea is how well the team is able to exploit it to achieve business objectives they promised they would reach.

Unfortunately it is hard to achieve any significant objectives without involving other people. But if at each meeting with investors all you can say is that you haven’t achieved any of your objectives because you are still looking or money, all you confirm for them is that you are a team that can’t get things done — and not a “can do” team worth an investment.

Try as we might, we could not convince our client to let us contract with people who could develop the applications or the market. But without progress on either of those two fronts we were unable to recruit the investors he sought, and neither of us achieved the goals we had set for the engagement.

Secrecy has it’s place in business, and when you are the 600 lb gorilla in the market, all eyes are watching to see where you’ll step next, But the stakes are different for start-up companies. The tradeoffs are different, in most cases, you’ll lose more by keeping secrets rather than you’ll gain by including more people in your idea.

Consider for a moment, you’ve got the idea that turns you on about your business. Lets says that someone tells you about another start-up, with a different idea than you. Would you give up on your idea and try to steal theirs. Most likely not. There are things about your idea that make it more appealing to you than most. And your background makes you uniquely qualified to pursue it. This is the reason you can feel free to discuss your idea with others entrepreneurs.

But what about big companies don’t you have to worry they will steal your idea?

In most cases, by artfully positioning yourself, you can make choices that will protect you from them as well. And this will be the focus of our next post.

Scott McGregor

Upaya Services would like to thank Scott McGregor of SWIFT Design Group for his guest blog!

LinkedIn Marketing: Quick and Easy Tips

Due to the rapid growth of LinkedIn and its usefulness in generating leads (primarily for
B2B companies), I’ve been spending more time on learning how to market more effectively
through LinkedIn. Since most business owners don’t have much time to spend on secondary
social media sites, I will share 5 quick tips that anyone can do if they take 30 minutes of
their day. Aren’t additional leads worth working through lunch? I would think so. Anyway,
here are the tips:

1. Customize your LinkedIn URL
*Go to Edit Profile and click Edit next to the public profile link to customize the URL
*Try to create a URL that is related to your business. For example, a plumber may use www.linkedin.com/JoeThePlumber.
2. Make sure your profile is complete
*While this may seem obvious, you would be surprised by the amount of business owners that don’t do this. *Since people may look for you on LinkedIn before you meet them for a sales call, having a strong LinkedIn profile can get you started on the right foot with potential clients.
3. Connect Twitter with your LinkedIn account
*By doing this easy step, you raise awareness of your Twitter account, thus gaining followers. But more importantly, your LinkedIn network will see your company’s Twitter updates and thus become more aware of your products and services.
4. Join Groups!
*When you join a group, you can participate in discussions, connect with, and interact with others in that group. By taking a few minutes each week, you can become an involved member of the group and thus, an “influencer”. Once others in the group respect you, this influence can be used to offer your services to potential clients.
5. Download the LinkedIn Mobile App
*Imagine you just met a potential client. Or you just met someone at a conference. You used to have to get their business card but now there is a much simpler way to connect. Simply download the LinkedIn app. If they have it too, all you have to do is open the app and then bump your phones together. You will automatically be connected. Now isn’t that easier than storing 10,000 business cards?

That’s it for today but I’ll be back soon with some more great and easy ways to incorporate
social media into your business. Remember, Upaya Services is always here to serve your
social media needs so just shoot us an email if you need some help.

Until next time,

Neil Soni

Advice From East Coast VC’s…What can an entrepreneur say in an investor meeting that instantly marks them as an amateur?

Interesting article with some great advice for all the entrepenures out there. More @ What can an entrepreneur say in an investor meeting that instantly marks them as an amateur?

My Highlights:
Larry Bohn, General Catalyst Partners – Saying they are completely unique, and that there is no competition. Groan.
Elon Boms, Launch Capital – Paying to pitch [at a conference or investor gathering.] I HATE those types of events.
Dina Routhier, Massachusetts Technology Development Corp. – I think the most common thing that pegs an entrepreneur as an amateur is when they come in and immediately start talking about their amazing new technology, and forget to start the discussion with, “What big problem in the market am I trying to solve?” If they don’t start with the problem, then I know they are green.
Ajay Agarwal, Bain Capital Ventures – Good entrepreneurs can always find a warm intro to a VC.
Chris Sheehan, CommonAngels – Entrepreneurs shouldn’t overly use buzzwords to describe the business.
Paul Maeder, Highland Capital Partners – Projections labeled YR1 and YR2 instead of 2011 2012. If you aren’t convinced of when it will happen, please don’t ask me to join.
Bill Warner, Co-Flow Investing – Sending out the message that they know everything, as opposed to having stuff to learn. The thing I’m most looking for is people who are thirsty to be learning.
Lee Hower, NextView Ventures – Asking [me to sign an] NDA is probably the most common.

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