Monthly Archives: April 2015

A coffee house guy hired by corporate America

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His name was Dale. He worked at a local coffee house. Dale was easy going, very sociable, smart, but also hard working. He liked music, the arts, but had also worked in landscaping, call centers, and other types of jobs. He prefered a low key profession, and hadn’t decided what he wanted to do with his life.

Then Max came around. He had just left one of his daily corporate board room meetings. There was stress, there were arguments. Many people who would have been critical to the conversation had been left out due to a combination of office politics and negligence. Max’s boss was one of the several VP’s of the company. They had decided that they needed a change of pace from this typical corporate head banging sessions. But, what to do? Max had an idea. He noticed how Dale was so pleasant to talk to, so laid back, yet attentiive to his work. A personality like Dale’s could do wonders for their insane corporate environment — if only they could figure out how to not scare him away.

So, Max went to visit Dale. They shmoozed, and talked about the regular things. Then Max asked Dale if he would like to try to work in their office as a personality coordinator. His job would be to talk with different people, compare ideas, invite people to meetings, and be a part of meetings. Max decided that Dale would need to have a serious of seminars about business, marketing, and the widget industry that they were in. He would need to be clued in to the company’s clients, their needs, and the various issues they faced.

Dale was given a little cubicle and was to manage a lot of the daily meetings. Although Dale was just learning about their business and their business model, he was so pleasant to talk to, that everyone enjoyed working there all the more. Everyone, except for Dale. But, the salary was so good. Dale finally talked to Max.

DALE: Max, I like the job I’m doing, but I don’t like working here. Or, should I say I don’t like being here. I feel so confined, there is no fresh air, and something is missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Let’s go out and talk about it over a cup of coffee.

MAX: Okay…. let’s visit the one down the street

(5 minutes later)

MAX: (sipping his mocha) I figured out what is missing that you can’t put your finger on.

DALE: (sipping a latte) What is it? I’m stumped!

MAX: How do you feel now?

DALE: I’m in my natural habitat. This is where my species exist in nature. At a coffee house with people chatting, browsing the internet and enjoying biscottis.

MAX: Exactly. What is missing is: coffee, fresh air, people, and the coffee house atmosphere. But, there is one thing you should know. Your personality IS the coffee house atmosphere and you bring that atmosphere wherever you go which is why we hired you. The problem is that the atmosphere we put you in is like a type of soil that your roots don’t take to.

DALE: You have figured me out to a T. So, I have another idea. Since I don’t want to give up my $60,000 entry level salary which is unheard of, let’s create that coffee house atmosphere on your property. We can build one outside, on the roof, or in the board room. I’ll need some fresh air piped in, or some plants to create oxygen. I feel so stifled in your building.

MAX: I’ll talk to my boss, and I’ll bet he can do it. Since you’ve come on board, people who never interacted before have been interacting. It is exciting to see. Marketing would never talk to Tech for example. The marketing guys were too busy to talk, and the tech guys were too nerdy and focused to interact. But, you brought them together, and now they have found common ground — or since you are in the coffee business — common “grounds.” If they would have the same interaction over a mocha, I bet the conversation would be even better.

DALE: Yeah, they could palpitate while talking about the next merger!

MAX: I have an ever better idea to add to this idea. We can invite some laid back people to hang out in our cafe once its built to create a mood. The people who hang out in our cafe now are uptight administrators, stressed our secretaries, and busy executives. We need to build a more laid back and interactive mood.

DALE: I can save you the trouble, instead of building a new cafe and inviting the crowd from the cafe down the street, why not hold your business meetings down the street. We could reserve hours, and put the tables in a circle which is the most optimal shape for a meeting.

MAX: Hmm, well, we could try it both ways. But, I like the way you think kid. That’s why we hired you!

A month later, corporate built a large coffee house that was only open to certain people in the law in front of the high rise. The open aired building had its seating section shaped in a circle to optimize the flow of conversations at meetings. Coffee and other drinks were served at all meetings. The most important fact of all is that Dale and Max were finally happy. Dale could be in his natural habitat while expanding his mind and helping others to connect ideas in a healthy way. Oh, and one final though.

In dream dictionaries, a coffee house is a powerful dream symbol. If you dream about a coffee house it represents, philosophizing, deep thought, interaction, and stimulation. If you ask me, it is my favorite dream symbol of all — besides tsunamis.

A special moment with pecan fudge & a social media breakthrough

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You know it is amazing. Google understands this, and I’m beginning to also. The best conversations happen spontaneously. They could happen at lunch, or when you’re just stopping by to say hi, or bumping into someone in the hallway. I like my webmaster, and give him small tokens of appreciation from time to time. Generally things that are off his diet. Too many people give him wine, so what does that leave? It leaves gourmet fudge from tourist destinations like Yosemite!

But, I just stopped over to bring him some fudge. I figured if he hadn’t finished his diet, his kids could gobble it up. But, we started talking about all of my various social networks. I couldn’t figure out which one to focus my efforts on. He told me to do a detailed analysis of how much work I put into each and what the effort is per unit of work. After I finished this, the results were very interesting. Facebook won the competition. Twitter came in 3rd. So, I started really putting a lot more effort into Facebook. The results were that my Facebook got 5500 clicks this month while before I had that little chat with my webmaster m clicks were only about 300.


We had another little chat over some Wagyu steak that was equally fruitful. We talked about how to test a web development company. We came up with a simple, but detailed preliminary test during dinner. My two experiences prove that if you want to have business breakthroughs, having something delicious on the table will facilitate those breakthroughts — big breakthroughs too.

Outsourcing programming work vs. Offshoring; what’s the difference?

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Outsourcing Defined
Outsourcing is commonly thought to mean the offshoring of American jobs to some less deserving foreign destination. However, outsourcing means to hire an outside company regardless of location. They might be down the street from you, but it is still outsourcing if your company hires them to do a task for you. Offshoring means to hire staff or create an oil rig not on your shore. It might be on an island, in the middle of the sea, or in a foreign country.

Hiring Programmers
It is common for Americans to hire companies overseas to handle programming tasks for them. India is the most famous in this niche while Eastern Europe has many companies that are often better than their Indian counterparts — at least for now. If you hire overseas, your choices include:

(1) Having an overseas company do jobs for you on an on-call basis, or work on a specific project until its completion.

(2) Hiring an overseas company to do a specific amount of hours a week for you such as 10, 12, or 18 hours a week.

(3) Hiring a dedicated half-time or full-time employee from an IT leasing company. This allows you to interview the indivual programmer and perhaps communicate directly with them more easily.

(4) Hiring your own employee overseas, or perhaps creating your own office.

Problems with overseas companies
The problem with hiring overseas companies to do tasks for you is that they typically have one or more project managers, and many programmers of varying skill levels. The high quality programmers are normally either completely unavailable because they are working on a large project, or they might have a little bit of time. What normally happens is that the company will try to stick you with one of their worst programmers, or at least a very mediocre one at best. You won’t be able to get quality work done with them. So, you go to another overseas company and the same thing happens a second, third, tenth, and one hundredth time. By now, you’ve learned your lesson. Hire the programmer before you hire the company. Even if you get a good programmer, there is no guarantee they won’t quit, die, get pregnant, or get run over by a rick-shaw.

Hiring your own staff
In my experience, I tend to get much higher quality work done when I hire myself. I am very picky, and only hire people I am confident in. Whenever I hire an outside company, they typically pick workers who are either poor at communication, unfriendly, not particularly talented at their task, or who quit when I need them most. You can hire your own staff in India. You can hire freelancers. You can hire someone full-time who will work from home for you if he/she has a good internet connection and reliable electricity (which is a big problem in India.) You can also rent your own office space in a place with reliable electricity and hire your own people.

My recommendations
If you need only part time help, try to find a reliable vendor in India or Belarus and interview the programmers one by one until you find one programmer and a few backups who you can test. If you need a single employee, an outside vendor or leasing company might be your best option. You still need to interview and give quick tests to the programmers to keep them honest. But, if you need two or more full time programmers in the long run, it might be better to look into getting some office space. Here’s why.

Get your own office in India
Getting anything done in India has a lot of red tape. You can get an office there, but it doesn’t need to be under your name. You most likely will not be there to manage it in any case, so you will be forced to rely on others. Be wary of the fact that people in India don’t always do what they are supposed to or what they promised to do, so you will have a few surprises along the way. Try to be tolerant of a fair amount of nonsense if you are able to get your office to function. The real benefit here is that you are no longer at the mercy of other companies for picking your employees. You pick them yourself. You would have to visit India and make some new connections which may or may not work. In the end, it may be easier to have your employee work in some other IT company’s building under their supervision if you give them a fee for their cooperation.

Optimize personalities & skill levels of the programmers
When I work with employees at other companies, I am never completely satisfied with their work. Some are fairly good, while most are miserable. If you can pick your own staff, you can pick programmers with exactly the type of personalities and skill levels / skill sets which you need for your business. If you like them a lot, you have the freedom to give them larger raises to increase the likelihood that they will not quit. In India, programmers like to play musical chairs and change jobs every few months. If you are running a serious operation, you cannot afford this. Give them good working conditions and pay so that they will stick around. You are running a company, not a circus after all.

The most important factor for creating leads for your outsourcing company.

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Companies that do B2B have a very different attitude than those who do B2C. Unfortunately, this attitude is not a good one. When I personally call outsourcing companies, they rarely answer their phone. If they do answer, it is usually a lower level employee who doesn’t communicate well, or who doesn’t know anything. Most companies out there only want large customers and don’t want to bother with small companies like mine. The general attitude of outsourcing companies out there is — we want more money, but we don’t even want our existing customers. In the real world, you can’t make money without having customers.

“We chase projects — not dollars”
One company told me that they chased projects, not dollars. Unfortunately later on I realized that they enjoy projects, but hate customers. I think I need a company that chases customers, not dollars, but finishes projects on time. Hmm.

A seamless experience
What gets B2C companies business should be considered in the B2B world. B2C companies thrive when they offer a seamless, glitch-free, teflon, no friction customer experience. Amazon‘s 1 click ordering is an example of how the most thoughtful professionals handle this concept. Most outsourcing companies out there offer maximum friction and dysfunction at every step of the process not to mention talking to (or being brushed off by) anti-social people who may or may not be responsible enough to complete your work to your satisfaction.

How to create that experience
The process of finding qualified leads is up to a good marketing department. You need to find people who are in high positions in companies who hire programmers, data entry clerks, call center agents, etc. Once you have found them, the key is to not ruin what comes next. Is your website informative? Does it make it easy to know what you do, and all of your specialties such as chat support, SMS messaging, and technical support for HP products? Or does your site just ramble on about how you offer the highest quality of BPO services, and refuse to let people know what those mystical BPO services are? Many companies out there just ramble on for paragraphs about how they adhere to the highest of standards, but don’t mention anything specific that would make me want to hire their company. Your site needs to have a very elaborate services page, FAQ page, contact us page with all applicable contact numbers, contact forms, email address(es), phone numbers that go to people who actually answer their phones, as well as photos of your staff, building, and perhaps a map of your location so people can mentally place you.

The next step is being personal
These days, people normally visit your web site or social media sites to size you up. If you pay special attention to both, then you will have made a good impression on your leads. The next step is to actually talk to people. If you make it easy to talk to an informative human being, and make it easy for people to get their work done with you, you will be on the right track.

That’s all for now. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

Should you outsource your printing to a single vendor or multiple vendors?

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The decision to in-house or outsource your work is one that many companies make. Both have complications, and both are tough decisions. But, if you outsource, then the question is how many outsourcing companies to hire? If you are in the printing business, you might find one company that does a good job with your business cards, and another who is better at pamphlets. A third company might be more expensive, but good at short turnaround for books. In my opinion, it is better to have many outsourcing companies on payroll. Use the better ones more, but keep in touch with a few others that function as your backups. In business – you always need backups and multiple backups are necessary since people retire, quit, go out of business, are busy, end up in a hospital, screw up, or might even cheat you.

The Single Vendor Approach
If you outsource to a single vendor, you would only need one or two pickups of orders (possibly done online) and only one or two drop offs of work per day. Your work would be mixed in with their other clients’ work, and completed at their various facilities, or perhaps at a single relatively nearby facility.

The Multi-Vendor Approach
If you hire several vendors, you can optimize by hiring the best vendor for each specific task you have. Additionally, some vendors as I mentioned above might be better at short orders while others might specialize in low prices with less favorable delivery terms.

Brokering your work
If you hire a broker to figure out how to get your work done, then they worry about who to hire. Since they specialize in outsourcing work, they might be better at it than you.

Managing Vendor
There are other vendors who would hire a third party, but manage the work done at that other company’s facility.

Dedicated Vendor
You can also hire a vendor that has particular staff members designated to working only for you. This has higher fixed costs, but they take care of the staffing, training, machines, and all you have to do is to supply orders. Having dedicated employees is very popular in call center and software development outsourcing. It is common for a US company to hire five programmers in Noida, India who work for an IT staffing outsourcing firm to work on a project for them.

The Mixed Approach
You could have all the machinery you need in-house, but in limited supply. You could do whatever work you have time for yourself. But, whatever overflow you get, you could outsource to one or more vendors. Additionaly, if your equipment breaks, you would already have your outsourcing partners in action. In business, it is very important to already have a long lasting relationship with someone when you need their help in an emergency.

Gaining new clients and nurturing them correctly

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Everybody in the outsourcing world wants more clients. But, they don’t always take the right steps to gain or keep those clients. In fact, in my experience, they do a perfect job at alienating clients from start to finish. It is as if they don’t want clients. Maybe when they way they want clients, they mean they want money without the hassle of the client. In the real world, money comes after you satisfied a client, not before.

I wrote other blog entries about how to effectively use your web site and social media to turn your leads into clients. I explained how a professional staff specializing in answering the phone can save you from losing more than half of your qualified leads. But, there is more…

Price Breaks
Many companies set their prices high so they can make a decent profit margin. This is a mistake when trying to get new clients, especially B2B clients who can become long term income producers. The main fact to understand is that gaining a new client is difficult, but their long term value can be in the millions. The key is to get them on board. If you lose the millions so you can make a few extra thousand in the next month, you missed the point. Give people lower prices in the beginning so you can get them on board. Once they are satisfied, then you can charge them a moderate price. Don’t try to gauge people though. You can lose very loyal clients by overcharging, so be very sensitive to the type of bills you are sending out at all times.

Problem Solving
Most outsourcing companies have the big boss who handles all problems. The problem is that the problem solver is generally not available to solve problems, and doing a hundred other things at the same time if they are even in the office which is another problem. It is easier if readily accessible employees are trained to solve commonly occurring problems. If a customer can get their problem solved easily, they will be less likely to leave. Even if the employee solves a simple problem in a way that is not beneficial for the company, at least the customer will be happy they didn’t end up with a splitting headache. Empower your employees to solve problems (unless they are a problem employee.)

Are their risks associated with your company?
Does your company have a BBB rating? Do you have testimonials from satisfied clients? What type of 3rd party credibility do you have? You need to make sure that prospective clients have an easy time finding unbiased 3rd party information about your company. They are not going to believe what you say about your company because you are a salesperson.

Making it easy
Is it easy for new clients to get a job done at your company? Do they have to call ten times to reach you once? Do you have complicated contracts that you force them to sign? Or, do you just make it easy to start with easy terms and flexible options? If you make life easy for your clients, they will make like easy for your wallet. It’s a simple rule of business!

Microsoft Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 & 8.1 users

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Microsoft has attacked itself. They tested Microsoft 10 by trying to hack it. The good news is that Windows 10 will be fre to owners of Windows 8 and 7 for the first year after its release. This way, many of their customers will upgrade quickly and enthusiastically. Windows 10 is designed to become a traditional paid version of Windows.

Most of the upgrades will probably be switched after a year. Hopefully, word on the street will be positive enough so that skeptics decide to get this product. And finally, those who don’t want to upgrade, will get the new version anyway next time they get a new computer. So, it looks as if Microsoft has covered all of the bases.

Additionally, Microsoft is emulating Google by offering lots of free services. Microsoft is offering maps, “The Garage”, and even software training sessions. Microsoft hopes that by offering lots of free services, that will increase loyalty to its core services. In my experience, it will.

Does your company learn from Microsoft and Google? Maybe you should. Perhaps you could find some additional free services or information to your clients or to the general public that would make people more interested in doing business with you. The more positive experiences you create, the better your name will be. The most valuable asset you have in business is your name!

Joining a Parade of Outsourcing for Small Businesses

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In the past, it was almost exclusively large businesses that went overseas to capitalize on the abundance of inexpensive labor. These days through new technology and resources, anyone can do it. You don’t even need to be in business to hire a freelancer in a foreign country.

If your main office is in Topeka, Kansas, you are no longer forced to hire someone in your city, state or even your country. You can hire someone in Noida to build your new app. Then, you can hire someone else in Manila to do the phone calls necessary to find leads for your app. And finally, you can hire someone in Minsk to clean up the mess your Indian programmers created when creating the app (assuming you hired the wrong ones, and most novices do!)

Freelance sites
You can query all types of freelance sites to find people. Odesk is a popular service because they have satisfaction reviews for all of the service providers listed. You can’t get away with cheating your clients or delivering shoddy work on Odesk. After you have been in outsourcing long enough, you will realize that the #1 considerations is not price, not convenience, not personability, and not even punctuality — it is finding someone who will get the job done correctly. Most outsourcing companies hire incompetent staff members who screw everything up that they touch! Odesk eliminates a lot of that risk. There are other sites like Freelancer and Guru which also publish reviews.

Company directories like
You can also hire companies to help you out. Although the quality of the reviews is better for the freelancer sites, for larger jobs or longer term work, you might be better off hiring a larger outsourcing company. is a great place to find software developers, call center companies, data entry, medical billing, and more. There are other call center and web design directories out there. However, those other directories are not as adament as about keeping their information up to date, and about putting quality providers near the top of the search results!

Here is what my buddy says
I have not personally hired freelancers outside of the USA, however, my friend does this all the time. He is always bragging about how he hired someone to do phone calls for $2.70 per hour in the Philippines or how he found a great PHP programmer in Argentina who works for $15 per hour. In real life, the average call center freelancer makes around US$4.00 per hour and the average overseas programmer makes around US$15 in India and around US$20-30 in Eastern Europe. Prices vary according to how good the freelancer is and market rates, currency exchange rates, etc.

American freelancers do not benefit from this
It is hard for an American to compete against someone charging US$5 per hour for freelance work. However, people will hire Americans at American wages if you offer a higher quality of service. Perhaps you are better at answering tough questions in an intelligent way. Or perhaps you make the customers feel more at home with you. American programmers are normally a lot more efficient, easy to communicate with, and use best practices more effectively than their overseas conterparts which is why the average software development freelancer in the USA charges about US$70 per hour while in India it is only $15. Despite how difficult it is for Americans to compete, it is very difficult to hire Americans. I personally find most Americans to be very stubborn, unreliable, and uncooperative. Maybe Americans don’t need work which forces employers to look East to Manila!

The #1 social media mistake people make & how to resolve it!

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I fall into the same trap here that others do. I look most at my topline — my total number of followers. Unfortunately on social media, number of followers doesn’t do you any good. It is your ROI that counts, and that is not so easy to measure. There are many things that a marketing professional could measure when evaluating their social media presence.

(1) Total number of interactions.
(2) Number of “involved” interactions where there is a continuing dialogue (good for SEO)
(3) Number of shares, or favorites
(4) Number of clicks (my favorite metric as that gives me my bottom line social media goal of traffic)
(5) Number of form submissions

Measuring ROI
Most marketers do not measure the ROI of their social media investment which is a huge problem. If you don’t know which of your social media accounts is delivering the best results, how will you know where to put your efforts in the future? For me, I know that I get most of my traffic from my Facebook profile. I still invest in my other profiles, but the biggest investment goes to my account with the best ROI which is Facebook. Additionally, I would like to mention that my other accounts are still in the experimental stage and it is too early to judge them.

Setting Goals
Many marketers have wishy-washy social media goals. Perhaps they want to boost brand awareness or get more interactions. It makes most sense to put a dollar value on what each metric means to you, and how much of each metric you want to get. You can also measure what the dollar value is of what you are putting in and what you are getting out. Remember, that social media is like a snowball, and after you have mature large accounts, it is easy to get a lot more out while putting a lot less in.

Certain social media platforms such as Linked In or Google Plus allow for the creation of communities. You can set goals for how large your communities should be by a particular date. If you know the growth rate and how much time investment is necessary to reach that rate, then you can plan effectively. My current goal for my Linked In group is to get 200 new followers per month. If I hire offshore labor to help me with outreach, I could expand that to 2000 new followers per month since overseas labor is a lot less expensive (but, hopefully as good — we’ll find out.)

Allocating Hours
You know how you take a 45 minute walk once a day, and allow 1 hour for lunch? Social media needs to be timed the same way, otherwise it can get out of control. You need to decide how much time per day or week you will allow for social media. Then, break it down into accounts. You will spend thirty minutes per day on Facebook, but only ten minutes twice a week on Twitter. You will write one blog article per week as well. You might need to reevaluate your plan once or twice a year. But, see what works for your business and your life and adjust from there.

ROI vs. Estimated ROI
If you can calculate what your Facebook profile is worth to you with 4000 followers in terms of monthly revenue from additional exposure, then you might be able to guess the future value. The value of social media marketing is not constant over time. Empires rise, and empires fall making the future of your campaigns hard to predict. If you invest five hours a week into your Facebook profile and it produces $2000 of value to you through traffic, sales, or other more obscure metrics, then if your profile continues to grow, it might be worth a lot more than that once it has grown. On the other hand if you invest nothing but time in a particular profile, but get negligible results, it might be time to stop using that profile or just put it on the back burner devoting only a few minutes per week to post a few of your most critical links.

If you aren’t using social media right…
If you don’t use social media “the right way” then you won’t get any ROI to analyze. You need captivating articles, interesting discussions, and links to your important pages for SEO. If you only self-promote and bore everyone, you’ll lose followers. If you only post interesting articles, but don’t do anything for your SEO benefit, then you will not get the full benefit from social media. Learn how to get the most of all of your accounts. They all help, but in different ways. Using what I know now, I might be able to use Twitter for 20 minutes a week and get more benefit than you get using social media an hour a day!

How is the outsourcing landscape transforming?

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The outsourcing landscape and terrain is evolving as we speak. But, is it changing for the better? There are several factors to consider.

(1) Outsourcing providers are gaining skill at fulfilling their customers’ needs as the industry matures.

(2) There are more companies out there in more countries competing for outsourcing revenue giving the customer more choices.

(3) Rules and laws concerning outsourcing will continue to change. Obama might make it more difficult to outsource which could cause a huge disruption in the market. Regulation in the United States for example could cause a decrease in outsourcing.

(4) More companies are expected to take an interest in outsourcing as time goes on and the overall industry is growing worldwide.

Politicians often talk about protecting American jobs by regulating outsourcing. However, by protecting American jobs you are shooting other American companies in the foot who need services. If you cannot find quality services in the United States for an affordable price, you are forced to outsource overseas. But, if there are laws restricting overseas outsourcing, American companies doing the hiring will suffer and their overall growth will be dampered. Job protection helps those with jobs but harms businesses and end-consumers.

India’s situation
India is famous for outsourcing. But, unfortunately due to the negligent behavior of managers and poor service at many companies, the market is turning away from India for a lot of outsourcing services. Eastern Europe is taking over a lot of the programming outsourcing while the Philippines has drained more than two-thirds of India’s former call center revenue. India is still #1 in the outsourcing world, but if their sloppy unprofessional behavior continues, they are likely to continue sliding downhill in the outsourcing world as other countries gain ground.

As technology continues to evolve, and human culture adapts to the evolution, we will see an increasingly mobile workforce and more remote workers who are likely to be outsourced from foreign countries. Cloud technology is a very common type of technology which aids mobility. You can access your information from an i-phone on a desert island with the cloud and conduct your meetings from a pool overlooking the ocean there if you desire!

Top Viral Images, and how they spread.

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Mastering the art of knowing what is viral and why is a fascinating undertaking. Knowing exactly the twists and turns it takes to spread is even more interesting. But, what spreads more — images, great articles, or videos? The answer is that images tend to be more popular, but the spread of various types of content depends heavily on the particular medium. Text tweets can do very well on Twitter, while a good vertical photo can do miracles on Google Plus.

Appeal to the general public
One thing to understand about viral content is that is needs to appeal to the general public. If you have a post about widgets, only people who like widgets will share that post. The people they share it with will not likely enjoy widgets which means the sharing will end right there and the post will not go viral.

Where does content spread?
Viral content can be spread on blogs, forums, social networks, web sites, and company intranets.

What types of posts go viral?
Popular images might make a point, tell a quick story, or appeal to people on an emotional level. Being funny or entertaining generally helps. But, your image or post needs to appeal to the masses. It could be a breath taking photo, or something that makes you start laughing at first glance. Or it could be something really interesting.

Integrating industry specific with viral themes
One technique that sophisticated marketers use these days is to integrate popular themes into industry specific blog entries. If you are writing about widgets, you could write about how your puppies are happy the minute they see a widget, or how you love enjoying a widget with your morning mocha. You would be surprised at how powerful pets and coffee are in social media.

Tracking the viral flow
Once an image goes viral, it is difficult to track how it spread. It might be easier to follow the expansion of a particular post on a particular network like Twitter for example. For an image to go viral, it needs to be published by a particular account. Then, at least one of the accounts following that account need to share the content again. The reason why even the best content out there rarely goes viral is:

What can go wrong
(1) The account posting doesn’t have many followers, or doesn’t have many active followers

(2) At any particular moment in time, less than 1% of your Twitter followers are on Twitter and will have the chance to perhaps see your post.

(3) If you do get shared, the follower who shared your post may not have that many followers. If you have 10,000 followers, and only one shares your post and that one has only 10 followers, your post will not get seen.

(4) If you do get shared, but the people following the people who follow you don’t find your post interesting because they are in a different industry or have different interests, there goes your virality!

(5) You posted your post at the wrong time of the day

(6) Group consciousness would have liked your post in 2011, but not in 2015 for some unknown reason.

To really go viral, you need to attract the attention of what Vegas casinos call “Whales.” You need a few really huge accounts to retweet you, or at least a lot of somewhat large accounts. That way the message has a chance to spread, and keep spreading. You need a really hot post, and a lot of luck too. Sometimes a hot post will spread like crazy. Then, it will die down. Post the same thing a month later, and nobody is interested. My suggestion — pray to the viral gods — put your destiny in their hands.

What is the growth rate of your social media profile?

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Social media is here to stay and is expanding its reach daily. In a few years, marketers may devote double the resources to professional social media accounts. But, what does the future look like for you?

We all spend time working on our social media accounts. Some of us have more followers than others. But, my question is, how fast do your accounts grow?

My Google Plus account only grows when I follow others. I publish popular industry specific content mixed with beautiful pictures and content of more general interest. We get at least fifty interactions per day, but no growth from the content no matter how popular it is. It seems that there are only two ways to grow a Google+ account. You have to have a fan base already that finds you because you have a G+ icon on your main site. Or, you follow lots of people and they follow you back. Even Guy Kawasaki who has over six million followers on G+ has a growth rate of less than 1% per month and he gets his content shared hundreds of times per day!

A Twitter follower is only about 10% as potent for getting clicks as a G+ follower. However, Twitter is an easy medium for growth. Personally, I follow about 2000 new people per week on my main Twitter account and get a few hundred to follow me back. I can get 300 new followers per week without even trying. Additionally, if I publish twenty hot articles about my industry that I found on the web and get shared, I can get a lot more followers on top of that. I don’t have an exact number for that though. My estimate is that I might get 100 new Twitter followers if I get about 45 shares or favorites. Additionally, if I have ongoing discussions with other Twitterers, then Twitter introduces me to more people in their, “you might also like” section. If I used Twitter to the maximum, I could probably get around 800 new followers per week. On other mediums, this would be nearly impossible

Facebook makes it easy to grow your presence with PPC for attracting new followers as well as PPC for sharing your articles. Both types of PPC have worked miracles for me. My facebook is currently growing at about 8% per month posting twice a day and using PPC. In three years, I might go from 9000 followers to 60,000.

Predicting Growth Rates
It is hard to predict growth rates on social media. The speed you are growing at now is not the same as the speed you will be growing at in a few years. You might reach a saturation point in attracting your relevant audience at a particular point, and then experience a slow down in growth. Or, your medium could stop growing which will affect your growth. Additionally, social media mediums could change their algorithm for how helpful they are in promoting your profile, or change their advertising rates or offerings.

How I see my future using G+
However, in my long run, I see getting a lot of clicks from Google+ since I am gaining a lot of followers through a very labor intensive practice of following and unfollowing. However, I don’t see much growth happening after I stop doing my manual promotion. Exponential growth doesn’t seem likely. I hope I’m wrong and that I am given the opportunity to grow into the millions.

Twitter – my future
Twitter makes it hard to get any serious amount of clicks unless you have 50,000+ followers. But, the good news is that in a few years, I see myself having that many followers. Additionally, I follow other large accounts that have grown a lot. One of the social media accounts I follow grew from around 60,000 to 100,000 in the last two years. Additionally, an account of general interest that I follow went from 400,000 to 550,000 in the last several years. These two accounts post regularly and have experienced growth rates of about 25-30% per year which is excellent and gives me hope. At the rate they are going they will be in the millions in a few years.

Facebook in the future
Right now I have 9000 Facebook followers on my Notary Facebook. I have different accounts for the different sites I manage, but the Notary Facebook is the most dynamic since we have such good followers. We’re growing at 8% per month. Since most of our followers are Realtors, and Mortgage Bankers, we might run out of potential followers after we hit 50,000, but it is looking like we’ll get to 50,000 in three years. We’re already getting 3000 or more clicks per month from Facebook, so it will be a waterfall of clicks in three years!

What about your future?
It is hard to predict which social media medium will do best in your future. So compare a few, and then really focus on the one that gives you some serious results. You need to track your analytics yourself because your individual situation si unique and not like mine or anyone elses.