7+ Tools for Turning the Tide

I had the honor yesterday of team teaching a social media ‘bootcamp’ with super smart social media guy Dana VanDen Heuvel [I know! Why was I team teaching with him?!]. Apparently Dana finds some value in my ‘practical, tactical’ approach to social media implementation so he asked me to share it with the class…

Me? I think people who believe that social media marketing could be valuable for their business are immediately faced with the question of ‘how do I add social media to my overflowing plate and still get home for supper?’. If that’s true then we need a simple toolbox to help us go from being overwhelmed by data to effectively managing and producing it. This is my current thinking about the ‘7+ Tools for Turning the Tide’ [the plus is for retail destinations that would also benefit from location-based social media]…

http://www.mindmeister.com/maps/public_map_shell/71029957/7-top-tools-for-turning-the-infotide?width=550&height=400&zoom=1&live_update=1

Before you tweet back that this is way oversimplified, remember where most aspiring thought leaders are at! That’s why I use three maxims to guide my choice of tools:

  • “Things must be made as simple as possible but no simpler.” Albert Einstein
  • “Never use two tools where one will do.” Paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson
  • “The tools must be ‘good, fast and cheap’, completely cross platform, and available anywhere/anytime [which means they are web and mobile based].” Todd Lohenry

This mindmap is a revision of my now ‘world famous’ series ‘The Top 10 Tools for Tightening your Tribe‘ — the missing technology toolkit for Seth Godin’s book ‘Tribes‘. You’ll see that some of the tools have changed [I’ve moved to Chrome from Firefox, for example] but the principles are enduring and many tools have stood the test of time over the past year — a lifetime in the social media space…

Questions? Feedback? Comment, call or use the contact form to connect so we can talk about how this applies to your business…

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How to Make Your PC as Fast as the Day you Bought It

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

One of the most frustrating things in life is a slow computer.

Every few years, we buy an expensive new PC and love how fast it starts up, runs programs, and loads web sites.  Inevitably, though it starts to slow down, until eventually we are pulling our hair out waiting for it to do routine tasks.

Why is this? It turns out the answer is actually quite simple and you don’t even need to be “technical” to understand the causes and solutions.

The good news, it’s not the computer hardware that’s the problem.  In most cases the hardware you have is perfectly capable of being restored to its original glory and kept in fast running condition with minimal effort.

Rather, the problem lies with changes that occur to the PC’s software. The 2 most common causes of slowdown (along with easy solutions) are:

The author goes on to say registry errors and spyware and viruses are the two main causes of slowdown — and he’s right — but I don’t like the recommendations so here are mine…

I’ve actually been thinking about this alot lately. I optimized the computer of one of my favorite clients on Friday — Ann Renard of Renards Cheese in Sturgeon Bay. As I explained to Ann, for most people, the best day with their computer is the first one and unless you take a couple of basic steps to assure it will continue to perform, it will get worse and worse every day. Here’s what we did to get her a ‘new’ computer…

First, we went to Crucial.com, downloaded the memory scanner and found we could max out her memory for less than $90. She had been sold a computer with only 1Gb of memory which is well above the Microsoft minimums but not very practical in the real world…

Next, I used RevoUninstaller to delete the cheesy [I guess I actually meant that pun] antispam and antivirus apps that had been installed and replaced them with Microsoft Security Essentials. I figure Microsoft causes all the security problems, why not let them fix them? Seriously, I have found MSE does a great job with minimum system interference — something I can say about Symantec [Norton] or McAfee tools. You can download it here

Finally, we downloaded and installed TuneUp Utilities. It’s the only utility that I purchase and resubscribe to year after year. We did the analysis and ran all the optimizers and now her computer is running great. TuneUp Utilities will continue to run in the background with minimal interference and keep her computer in great shape…

That’s it. For the paltry price of less than $150, Ann has a ‘new’ computer that will continue to run in tip top shape for the foreseeable future. For the record, I would have charged her $70 to do this work, but she had given me a great ‘care package’ of some of their new cheese products and I wanted to reciprocate. The approach that I took and recommend — more memory + TuneUp Utilities + Microsoft Security Essentials — is a winner that you can deploy on your own! Of course, if all of this was Greek to you, you’ll want to give me a call so I can do it for you…

As a bonus for having read this far, I’m sharing my ‘top tools’ mindmap with you — it’s a list of mostly free resources that I use and recommend. TuneUp Utilities is the only one with a cost attached. You can download Soluto at http://soluto.com and all the rest can be downloaded at http://ninite.com

http://www.mindmeister.com/maps/public_map_shell/69740115/top-tools?width=600&height=400&zoom=0

Zoom in with the plus sign… 😀

Facebook page vs. websites; Guy vs. Todd

Guy Kawasaki, American venture capitalist and ...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been following industry oracle Guy Kawasaki for over 25 years and I agree with him almost all of the time. He was right about the Mac, he’s right about Posterous and he’s right about Alltop. He’s right about so many things. When he speaks, I take notes. This time, however, I take issue…

He posted a recent article on the topic of Facebook pages recently and this is one of the rare times I need to take issue…

“Q: I’m a small business entrepreneur, and I’ll be introducing a consumer product soon. Should I create a website for my company or a Facebook fan page?

A: I faced a similar question a few weeks ago for my book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. I had three options: create a site for the book, add a section for the book to my existing website, or create a Facebook fan page.

After five minutes of thoughtful deliberation, I decided to add a bare-bones section to my website (which I haven’t gotten around to do yet—which should tell you something) and create a Facebook fan page but not to create a website for the book. Here’s why I did not choose a website:” Source: Ask the Wise Guy: Facebook Fan Page or Website? : The World :: American Express OPEN Forum

Guy goes on to elucidate 4 reasons why he did not choose a website and 8 reasons why he chose a Facebook page along with 3 potential ‘gotchas’ — go to the source and read the entire article if you’d like…

Here’s where Guy and I part thinking. In business, the answer is rarely either/or. Frequently it’s both/and. Guy’s advice is great for someone launching a product or a book, but it’s not really great long term advice for an entrepreneur launching a company. As a short term strategy I recommend that entrepreneurs buy a domain, set up Google Apps and create a Facebook page. Google Apps will give them the ability to send corporate email from their domain and their domain name can be temporarily directed toward their Facebook page until they build a blogsite. This will give them a total ‘appearance package’ that will allow them to look professional immediately while they contemplate their website and further social media strategy and tactics…

On this issue I side with author Lisa Barone who recently posted…

“Brace yourself: Facebook is trying to take over the world. Or, if not the world, at least the entire Internet. With Facebook partnering up with popular sites like Yelp, many SMB owners may feel as if their load got lighter. I mean, why waste time worrying about your building your blog or your own site when you can grow your Facebook presence instead? If Facebook’s opening up the doors so that people can take you with them, you don’t have to worry about anything else anymore, right?

Wrong!

It doesn’t matter how hot Facebook or any of the other social media sites are looking right now. You still need to be focused on using your blog to create your own authority and brand.” Source: 10 Reasons Not To Ignore Your Blog For Facebook

Reason #1 she cites? “You don’t own Facebook”…

The problem with Facebook from my perspective is that you’re not only a renter, you’re a free renter and you can expect all the rights and privileges thereof. In other words, you have no rights on Facebook — not even privacy. You use it at your own risk. Facebook can — and has — made major changes to their technology without notice or recourse. Using a Facebook page is a great place for an entrepreneur to start but not to stay. I agree with Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse and other internet visionaries who propose an internet ‘homebase and outpost‘ strategy that puts a blog at the center of your online presence. The key is that you have to own that presence and be ‘master of your domain’ name and internet brand…

In the future, these homebases may become less important as more people understand the wisdom of David Sauter and his team at Envano. Their ‘autobahn’ model describes a future where a website becomes less important as a company embraces appropriate social media tools to build their internet presence, but the lack of an ‘easy button’ or unified social media dashboard makes this more of a future vision than a present reality…

Guy, I love you, your thought leadership and your content, but just this once I think your Q&A might have done the reader a disservice. Readers? Questions? Feedback? Please comment, call or use the contact form to connect so we can talk about how this applies to your business…

49% of Small Business Owners use a Smartphone

“Over the past few years, it seems that a few mobile devices — laptops, Bluetooth headsets, and increasingly, smartphones — have become ubiquitous among business people. The days of the pager are gone. Small business owners seem to be outpacing the rest of America in smartphone adoption, according to a recent survey of nearly 10,000 small business owners. While only 17% of Americans own smartphones, according to a recent Forrester study, a whopping 49% of small business owners are reported to own smartphones. Of those smartphone owners, 35% own BlackBerrys, 33% own iPhones, 25% own Androids and 7% own Windows Mobile devices. While the study didn’t include a comprehensive look at how small business owners are using their smartphones, we suspect that merchants are turning to mobile devices to stay on top of everyday business needs through e-mail, scheduling and calls. We’ve heard success stories from business owners who also tweet on the go, see the importance of location-based services, and are investing in mobile advertising.

If you’re a small business owner looking for a smartphone, don’t fall victim to the hype — know why you’re doing what you’re doing and make a smart decision. Here’s my perspective on selecting a smartphone…

#1. In many ways, the cellular provider you pick is more important than the phone you use in many cases. If you live in a large metropolitan area, this is kind of a non-issue but most Americans live in non-metropolitan or rural areas. An iPhone is worthless where I live because AT&T is worthless where I live. Before you select a smartphone, review the coverage areas of the network you intend to use and make sure coverage is good in all the areas where you do business and live…

#2. Having selected a network, the services you use should dictate the phone operating system you select. imho, all small business owners should select Google Apps for their business. Period. The Android phone operating system is developed by Google and optimized for Google Apps. BlackBerrys, iPhones, and Windows Mobile devices can all benefit from Google Apps but Android works best. My advice is that small business owners use Google Apps with the most powerful Android phone available from their carrier. Get the best phone you can afford…

#3. Having selected a carrier and a phone, find a rep at your cellular provider who has a clue. You may laugh, but finding a good rep can be a bit like Diogenes searching for an honest man. For me, my carrier is Sprint, my phone is an HTC Evo, and my rep is Cindy Otley at the Oneida Street store in Green Bay. For me, Cindy IS Sprint and she is a primary factor in my decision to stay with that carrier. She’s smart; she knows her company, their policies and the options they offer and she’ll work hard to help you select the plan and phone that will work best for you. I don’t make a move with Sprint these days without talking with Cindy. YOU need a rep like her, especially if you’re not sure about #1 and #2…

There was one more juicy tidbit in the post…

While only 12% of respondents said that they currently market their businesses through mobile — via mobile ads and apps, for example — other reports point towards an upward trend in mobile advertising budgets. In fact, spending on mobile advertising is set to grow nearly 50% to top $1 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer.” Source: 49% of Small Business Owners Use Smartphones [STATS]

More about that later…

Why I blog

I answered a few questions for Amstat News not too long ago, and the questions were centered around why I, as a stat grad student, take the time to write for FlowingData and why others should give blogging a try. The questions were more from a career standpoint, but it really all comes down to this. It’s fun.

I have fun picking apart designs and playing with data. It’s fun reading comments. It’s fun looking at others’ work. It’s fun learning how to make stuff. It’s fun getting emails from people who were totally scared of numbers, but are now taking stat courses.

People often ask me how much time I spend writing posts, but it’s like asking someone how much he watches TV or plays video games. How many hours have you spent roaming an art gallery?

I’ll let you in on a little secret though. Maintaining a blog doesn’t take as much time as you think. You just need to manage your time wisely. Don’t waste minutes checking stats, tweaking design, etc. Get rid of the extraneous, and you’re just writing in a journal. Doogie Howser wrote every day and he was a doctor and he had a social life. So it must be possible.

Hold on. I think I have a point here.

I guess—if you’re thinking about starting a blog, go for it. I highly encourage it. FlowingData has definitely been a good thing for me. There’s a book on the way, and I’ve been lucky to connect with people and groups I probably never would have been able to otherwise. But don’t just do it because you think it’ll advance your career. Do it because you actually like what you’re doing, and other stuff will follow. It’ll be much more fun that way.

Here’s a bit of ‘Doogie Howser’ eye candy for those unfamiliar with the reference…

Sorry, but this was a great post by ‘askflowingdata’ at the FlowingData blog that I just had to share…

The Top 3 Tools for Thought Leaders

Here’s a sneak preview of a presentation I’m giving tomorrow as part of a panel discussion at the Business Assistance Center at NWTC. It will be a lot to cram into to 10 minutes…

Questions? Feedback?

Tumblr Leaves Posterous in the Dust [?!]

Image representing Posterous as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Rising social media rockstar Kelly Neuville of Envano sent me an article from ReadWriteWeb [you can follow the ‘via’ link below the graph to the source and read the rest of the article if you’re interested] that would seem to suggest at first glance that I should abandon my love of the Posterous platform in favor of my first interest in this space, Tumblr. If I apply logic like this at every level in my life, I would learn a lesson from the flies on my farm and favor a steady diet of cow manure — after all, the sheer volume of their vote would indicate that manure is clearly a better food product, right? 😀

Now I’m not saying that Kelly was wrong to send me the article or that Tumblr = cow manure, although it would appear my analogy is heading in that direction. What I am saying is that there will always be a reason why the masses favor one product over another and it may have nothing to do with elegance or technological superiority. I posted the same data from a different perspective yesterday here; the article postulates that ‘The growth in Tumblr’s visitors probably has something to do with its popularity among celebs.’ and says ‘Earlier this week John Mayer made waves this week by shutting down his Twitter account, where he had 3.7 million followers, and switching to Tumblr full time.’ If that’s the case, then Tumblr has an ‘unfair advantage’ — it’s becoming the destination of choice for the MySpace crowd. My response? Meh

Laura Ingraham was right — entertainers should shut up and sing. What I want to know is what are the thought leaders using? I was really impressed with Tumblr until I saw that Guy Kawasaki picked Posterous for his Holy Kaw! blog and then I wondered “what did I miss”?! And what about social media rockstar Steve Rubel? And what about me? Seriously, Posterous rocks at the two most important things I could expect any blogging tool to do; ingest almost any content for creation and curation effortlessly and autopost as part of my homebase and outpost strategy. I use Posterous as the foundation of my ‘e1evation workflow‘ and it made me one of the top thought leaders in my industry on the internet rapidly elevating my site to within the top 40k of all websites in the US in 3 months. I will and I have put my humble Posterous blogs up against the best and they’ve held their ground — believe me when I say I have no fear of Katy Perry on Tumblr…