3 Ingredients and one spice, You Need to be a Small Business Owner


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I’ve been called a marketing genius, a social media expert, an asshole and a mentor. All of which are true, but most importantly I’m a small business owner just like many of you. If you own a small business then you probably have learned by now how hard it is to run one. I doubt there’s a creative analogy that I could compare it to – lets just say it is HARD.

1. Marketing Genius

To start your own business you need to be a marketing genius. Without marketing your small business is going no where. Sometimes I think entrepreneurs underestimate how much marketing is involved. I call it the 99/1 rule. When you start, you need to market 99 percent of the year and you can take 1 percent off. It sounds crazy, but marketing is essential. Genius comes into play too. You have to be a genius when it comes to marketing otherwise you are just doing what everyone else is. It’s important to think up crazy ideas, things that are so out of the box that attract attention to you business.

2. Social Media

Social media is not dead when it comes to small businesses. Yes, the game has changed. Here’s a great article on just how different it is by Laura Zander who owns Jimmy Beans Wool. Even though things are different with the correct amount of compelling stories and advertising spend small business owners can still dominate social media. I still would hire a social media expert. Why? These experts have seen the ups and downs of social. They have made mistakes and know what works and what doesn’t. Not trusting someone will cost small business owners serious amounts of time and effort.

I wouldn’t consider it an ingredient but being and asshole is probably a spice that you need to have. I’m an asshole and you better be one if you want a successful small business. Business is a cold and dark place it involves unbalanced deals, drinks at late hours in the morning and doing things that make people angry. This is just how it goes, I wish I could elaborate on it more but let’s face it… pleasing all the people all the time in business just isn’t the norm.

3. Mentorship

Mentorship is golden! I have owned my small business for 5 years and there doesn’t come a day that I don’t talk to my mentor and what’s even crazier is that I don’t think he even knows that he’s my mentor. Every bank, angel investor and government agency wants to help small businesses but no one provides the support they really need, which is a mentor. Someone that has done it. Mentors are hard to find but they can be the single greatest support for a small business owner. If you feel like you made it as a successful business owner then I encourage you to mentor another. I have and it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

What do you think? Do you think these are the key ingredients for a successful small business? Add yours.


Social media training is essential


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I get asked a lot about what types of employees do we hire for my social media firm SPECK Media. Clients will often ask… What’s the background of the people you hire? My response is always the same, we look for qualified candidates that have either a journalism or marketing background, but there really isn’t any way that future employees can gain social media knowledge or training, we train them.

For the past 4 years that’s been my tag line, but this past year I started taking a more involved look into what types of skills a social media manager or strategist might need.

I first started to look at what was already out there in the industry. There’s a lot of organizations and schools offering classes in social media. These classes cover everything from Facebook 101 to blogging made easy. Besides the classes there’s over 200 books about social media, so if you don’t want to listen to an instructor, you can spend your time reading from the experts.

In an industry that has only been around for 5 years are these materials (classes and books) the best way to learn about social media?

After doing extensive research, my answer is maybe.

I’m a maybe because social media keeps evolving. What were the norms and benchmarks a year ago are not the benchmarks now. Apply this to a class curriculum and the learning curve is lost on practices of the past (even though the past is a year ago). Apply this to a book and that learning curve is even more out of date.

So how does an aspiring social media person find the necessary materials to make a case that they have social media skills? First and foremost I would say real world practice. My advice to aspiring social media managers and strategists would be to do some pro-bono work for charities or companies in social media. Offer this service  as an opportunity to learn and try out different tactics. Take head that most social media agencies learn by trial and error as well in social media.

My secondary advice is to establish your own social media presence, most self-proclaimed social media experts got to be experts by working on their own social media profiles. By learning what works on LinkedIn, Facebook and other channels you will gain the necessary knowledge to talk the talk – and walk the walk.

And third, lean on creativity! If there’s one thing that has been a constant with social media the past 5 years, it is that creativity is king. The creative tweets, posts and stories win out at the end of the day.

Good luck!

speck training 2

3 Social Media Strategies for you Business


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Another blog post from my relationship with the Social Media Club. I promise to have an original post here soon – in the meantime enjoy…

Many argue that social media strategy is a buzz word with no real
The skeptics say that you don’t need a social media strategy.
They argue that social media is part of any company’s traditional
marketing mix. Skeptics point to the fact that all marketing channels should be
integrated meaning that your message on television should be the same as
Facebook or Twitter.
The social media experts say…NO! Social media
strategy is real, and is crucial to success not only on social media channels
but also as a compliment to a company’s bought and owned channels.
If you are a believer like myself, then what you need to start
asking yourself is which social media strategy fits your business?
– See more at: http://socialmediaclub.org/blogs/from-the-clubhouse/3-social-media-strategies-your-business#sthash.CoCFzdHV.dpuf

Writing for Social Media Club


I recently started writing for the Social Media Club. A fantastic organization founded by Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells in March 2006 to host conversations around the globe that explore key issues facing our society as technologies transform the way we connect, communicate, collaborate and relate to each other.

So please checkout my articles on their site.

I will still continue to post originally material on this blog as well.




The Dirty Side of Social Media in Vegas


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Huge thanks to StripLV Magazine in Las Vegas for giving me the opportunity to write this article for them, this article originally appeared in their magazine.

To see the article on StripLV go here 

Adult entertainers, beach clubs, DJs and just about anything or anyone else your mind can imagine uses social media in Las Vegas.

It was said that the porn industry was the first to embrace the internet when it came out. That being said, Vegas is leading the way when it comes to using social media for commerce and communication. Yes there’s a dirty side of social media in Vegas and you only need to read a little further to find out about it.

Let’s begin with adult entertainers because they are all over Twitter when is comes to Vegas. Name the venue and you can find adult entertainers tweeting about the great time you can have if you visit their club. Most of these social savvy women are recruiting bachelor parties via tweets. There’s even a Las Vegas Strippers Directory Twitter account (@strippervegas) boasting over 3,000 followers, so if you can recall the stage name of the stripper you were passing $20 bills to the last time you were in Vegas odds are you can find them again.

Gentlemen Clubs are just as predominant on Twitter as the entertainers. The competition is fierce and the tweets, images and promotions surrounding these clubs are big business. Not only do you have well know clubs like the Spearmint Rhino tweeting but promoters and major Vegas hotels have joined in on the conversation. Do a quick Twitter search and you will be shocked at the deals you can find on limo services to a club or VIP entrance to one. I guarantee that a better deal is waiting for you on Twitter than on the strip with one of those famous business card handouts by the locals. Twitter brings it to your fingertips or should I say your cell phone.

Most likely you will be hung over the next day and the best way to cure that hangover is a beach club. What could be better than 500 people with skin tight bathing suits dancing the afternoon away? Beach clubs are on the cutting edge when it comes to social media. Sure Twitter is cool, but Instagram and Vine provide a lot more action when it comes to luring Vegas tourists and locals to the best beach club. Take Encore Beach Club for example, these guys are posting crazy pictures of the action at this club, but even better than that are the fantastic videos that make you want to grab a taxi and head straight to the club. Vegas beach clubs and Instagram give you a great 360 degree showcase of what’s going on at the club – as I said before, this is in real-time. These beach club social media managers are taking videos as the action is happening so you know immediately if this is where you want to go to work off your hangover.

Finally lets talk DJs. In the past year Las Vegas has exploded with A List DJs like Deadmau5, Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia, and David Guetta. If you love dance music Vegas has become the capital of it, but if you want to go deeper and really immerse yourself in the lives and the day to day routines of these DJs there’s no better communication tool then social media. You need to do a little searching to find out which social media channel is your DJ’s favorite but once you do the access is unreal. Deadmau5 is all over Tumblr posting images of his sports car, home and backstage concert photos. The marketing department at Wynn took things to a new level last year when they launch wynnsocial.com the social entertainment guide for the Las Vegas dance scene. Don’t take my word for it go visit the site yourself and see what you are missing.

The clubs, people and talent that make up Las Vegas have embraced social media. If you live in Vegas or are just visiting I suggest you look at the channels mentioned and your experience will be second to none.

Ready for the Twitter IPO? and #twitterdomination


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Wow! I’m never at a loss for 140 characters regarding Twitter.

Like it or not, Twitter is part of the fabric of our culture. It is a:

  • breaking news feed
  • method to interact with celebrities
  • place to comunicate ideas
  • channel for companies to interact with customers and fans
  • political pulpit

And now Wall Street eagerly awaits Twitter’s IPO and what I’m calling #twitterdomination ! Mark my words I believe that Twitter will learn from the mistakes of the Facebook IPO and become the social media company that most social media practitioners, companies, individuals and fans will call the benchmark for social media as we know it. That’s a huge statement – but I feel like it’s correct because Twitter has been embraced by mainstream media and the public so easily.

While Facebook continually works to be relevant, Twitter is always relevant.

Why do I believe this? Hashtags are all over print, television and other forms of traditional media. Almost every reporter and celebrity publishes their Twitter handle more-so than their own phone number. But the important #twitterdomination that Wall Street and those of us in the social media industry need to be concerned about have been the moves Twitter has made in the past 3 weeks with regard to businesses on Twitter.

Here are the game changers:

Analytics – for the past 4 years analytics for companies on Twitter have been delivered by a range of developers and 3rd party companies like (Hootsuite and Simplymeasured) to name a few. Not that this has been all that bad. But, Twitter has realized that social media agencies and businesses would like to see analytics from the source, that being Twitter.



Much like Facebook, Twitter now offers a solution for account performance. It’s nothing fancy but it’s step in the right direction and more importantly proves that the days of 3rd party vendors delivering analytical solutions to businesses on social media might be over.

Advertising – Yes, it’s been around for a few months now on Twitter but having an advertising program for vendors and businesses on Twitter is key to future growth. I will say, that I don’t believe that advertising is as important to Twitter as it is to Facebook but having the ability to target your tweets is a tremendous upside to business. More importantly Twitter advertising provides a Google-type keyword search that lets businesses brand themselves in a certain area or topic.

Lead Generation – Without question I feel like the new Twitter Lead Generation Cards could be the best thing that has happened to Twitter since Vine. The new cards give businesses a way to register users and their emails for promotions or memberships directly within a tweet. So when you click to expand a tweet that contains the Lead Generation Card, you’ll see an option to sign up with your Twitter handle and connected email already filled out.



Lead generation is something that businesses on Twitter have craved for – for a very long time. The one gap that Twitter has presented to businesses has been the lack of ROI for tweets. Engagement is great, but try selling engagement to the billions of small businesses on Twitter, it’s just not possible. Small business relies on leads to keep marketing efforts going.

So that’s it, my case for #twitterdomination – if you are a small business owner, Wall Street investor, social media agency executive or social media manager I want to hear from you. Use the hashtag #twitterdomination and tell me what you think.

Scary Twitter thoughts regarding the #ZimmermanTrial


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If you are a Twitter user, like me then you probably couldn’t keep your eyes off it before, during and after the Zimmerman Trial. There isn’t a better water cooler than Twitter and it proved to be the pulse of the nation after George Zimmerman was found not guilty this past Saturday.


Three things struck me about Twitter regarding the Zimmerman Trial and the more I contemplated them the scary they became to me.

1 – The Volume and Types of Tweets

From the standpoint of a viewer I couldn’t believe the volume of tweets, I couldn’t refresh my news stream fast enough. I was amazed at how a topic could drive so many people to tweeting. According to Pew research over 5 million tweets were recorded. The types of tweets were all across the board, with straight news dominating the majority of tweets. 


Anger accounted for 31% of the other tweets. I was shocked, let me repeat astonished by some of the anger filled tweets. Most were pure anger toward the verdict, but I saw specific tweets with sheer racism from both sides. What surprised me the most was that there was no discussion, no opinion – just flat out malicious and out right hatred. Most of the tweets that I saw were from African Americans ranging from anger to out right threats.


Yes this was on Twitter.

Looking at it all I believe it shows a scary cross section of our country and what people could really be like. If you throw a match onto our country you need look no further than social media to see how violate things really are. Or it could be that people are more apt to saying things under the anonymity of social media.

2 – The power of Twitter

Before and after the trial, Twitter became the engine of change. The first instance was with Rachel Jeantel one of the star witnesses. She came under fire when she tweeted about her drug use, nails and drinking. Immediately her reputation was under attack and consequently the backlash undermined her credibility in the courtroom. The second instance was Juror B37 who on Monday gave an interview with Anderson Cooper’s 360. During the course of her interview she made mention about the book she planned to write about the trial. Within minutes Twitter was blazing with tweets about the topic. One woman began a movement against this book deal citing that someone shouldn’t profit from others. Her tweets and interview can be found here.


To me, these two instances demonstrate the ability of Twitter users to effect outcomes.

Social media is continually making our society more transparent and Twitter is becoming the ultimate channel to (listen, comment and change).


3 – The conversation by Brands

Maybe the most interesting outcome to me was the overall conversation of brands on Twitter before and after the Zimmerman Trial. Brands refused to say anything! There were no tweets from brands like (Coke, Nike, Home Depot or The NFL). Brands didn’t sponsor any tweets or even chime in on a related topic. Now, one could argue that this was the right thing to do, why risk any backlash on your brand or product during this time? But you could also argue that this might have been the perfect time and channel to promote a product. It sounds crazy but… I might have ordered a pizza if Domino’s placed a tweet into the Zimmerman Trial mix

@Dominos while you are waiting for the verdict why not order a deep dish pizza, call us now #ZimmermanTrial

Think about it for a second, you have over 5 million people tweeting, 5 million eyes on tweets. A well placed and created tweet could be a game changer. What it goes to show is that as much as brands have embraced social media they still are extremely cautious of the role it plays in society.

What do you think?

  1. Were you shocked at home many tweets and people tweeted?
  2. Did the anger in the tweets you saw make you unhappy?
  3. Do you think brands should have tweeted during the event?

Why I Hate Yelp – A Hangover Part 3


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Oh Yelp – how I loathe you. But it’s not just me – it’s the small businesses around the world. A few months back I dedicated a blog post to the unfair business practices of Yelp, with hope that it would shed some light on Yelp and the mysteries of Yelp’s ‘filtered’ business reviews.

Since then – I’ve had more than a handful of small business owners reach out to me and even MSNBC looking for information for a segment on a show. The latest in this Yelp journey of mine was the Washington Post doing a fantastic video/article piece on Yelp. I’m attaching it in this post.

The lesson that the Yelp situation teaches is twofold:

1 – Advertising extortion, repetitive cold calling, destroying small business character and most of all lying about business practices is something that all small business owners face in the real world. The takeaway is that the social world has become a huge factor in small business and small business owners need to be aware that these types of business practices are going on in the social world.

2 – Small business owners can do something, they can use the same social tools that Yelp uses against them to fight against Yelp and rescue their small business back from these types of unfair business practices.

I’ll let the video speak for itself – feel free to share with me your Yelp story.


5 ways to get a Celeb to respond on Twitter


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Acknowledge me!

At the root of social media, acknowledgment is the number one reason why people do what they do on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. It is our love for acknowledgement that drives a lot of people to tweet celebrities with the hope that they will mention or retweet them back.

I will say – getting a celeb to tweet you isn’t easy. But if you are craving for a celeb to respond to you on Twitter here’s 5 ways to get it to happen.

1. Tweet them after they tweet

Celebs are receiving tons of tweets in their day, so the amount of information that they can review is overwhelming. If you see a celeb tweeting while you are looking at your news feed, tweet them right away. A good benchmark is 2 minutes after the celeb’s tweet. The odds are they will see your tweet to them.

2. Trending topic tweet

Lot’s of celebs tweet about trending topics, it could be a basketball game or an event they attended. If you see a tweet from a celeb regarding a trending topic use the trending topic in your tweet and tweet them about it. The odds are good they will see what you tweeted and will respond.

3. Insult or challenge them

Celebs think they know it all! One of the best ways to get them to respond to you is to challenge them on their tweet. Be real and truthful but challenge them and they will respond to what you tweeted. Keep in mind that most people are probably applauding what they have tweeted so you might get some backlash as well.

4. Charity goes a long way

The “Charity Tweet” typically sounds like, “Hi ___, my brother has rare disease and they would love to be trending on Twitter. Can they get a RT!?” Even the most smug celebrities will open up their PR hearts and give out a RT or send a tweet out using a hashtag dedicated to the cause.


Just like anything, you need to be creative in what you say in order to be noticed on any social media channel. Tweeting a celeb is no different. Don’t just say – what’s up. Tweet them something that catches their eye and makes them want to respond to you.

I’m attaching an exchange I had with Piers Morgan on Twitter😉

Tell me your experience with celebrities on Twitter…



Social media crisis management FOR Dummies


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Why is it that when a company has a crisis they shut down their social media channels? In some cases companies will block comments on Facebook or will suspend their Twitter account until the crisis is over. So what gives, why do they do it?

There are two reasons for this outcome.

1 – The company wants to minimize the ‘knee jerk’ reaction. By going dark for a period of time they believe that they can limit the number of negative comments, tweets and pictures about the crisis.

2 – The company is developing a response plan. A typical plan consists of:

– The message they want to send

– Determining what type of comments they will respond to

– Determining the responses

– Organizing which internal groups can help with information

Both reasons have merit, but companies need to realize that social media is the doorway to their brand. Much the same way that their website is the doorway to their e-commerce. When you shut this doorway you shut out the users of your brand. During this dark period they can’t see who you really are and more importantly how you handle a crisis. Too many companies make the mistake of compartmentalizing social media as another marketing channel when in reality it is a 360 degree view into a company.

Stop for a minute and consider what is on a company’s Facebook page – real time images, customer comments, voice and tone of posts, videos, and recommendations. All of these comprise a unique two-way conversation that a company is having with users.

Most importantly customers understand that companies aren’t perfect. They make mistakes just like people do. How a company deals with crisis is sometimes more important then the crisis itself. Being transparent and proactive is a must.

Carnival Cruise Lines recently learned this with the Triumph crisis. http://skift.com/2013/02/21/carnival-missed-an-opportunity-to-shine-on-social-media-amidst-triumph-crisis/ They were transparent when tweeting about the crisis and they were proactive by responding quickly to tweets concerning conditions on the Triumph. They still took many hits on the chin, but were able to salvage their reputation.

Another example of good crisis management is the Domino’s Pizza YouTube video crisis. On Easter Sunday, the actions of two employees quickly became a worldwide marketing nightmare. A slow workday at Domino’s Pizza in Conover, N.C. prompted this duo to create videos showing a male sticking cheese up his nose and then putting it on a sandwich that was to be delivered to a customer. Domino’s was in crisis mode, instead of going dark on their social media channels they responded. Domino’s was just starting their social media strategy so they were somewhat unsure of responding to the crisis. They released a response on all their social media channels alerting customers and fans to the situation. What separated Domino’s from others was that they then asked their Twitter followers to help them spread the word by retweeting the link. This helped to calm the storm until they were ready to release their official public statement.

Not all companies handle social media crisis the correct way. Last August, Bic Pens found themselves in a social media firestorm when they launched a new ad campaign around pens for young women – Bic For Her. Pink and purple colors along with a contour for a women’s hand. The problem was, women took this as sexist. In droves, women responded with tweets asking for a recall of these pens. (image)

Instead of trying to solve the crisis Bic went dark. On both Facebook and Twitter Bic didn’t respond to any comments regarding the Bic For Her pens. To remain completely silent for a period of 2 months is a strong decision, that had a negative social impact for Bic.

Being prepared for a crisis is important. You don’t want to spend 2 days prepping for a crisis that has already happened. Crisis management on social media should be part of a company’s social media policy. According to a survey by eMarketer in June 2012,

74% of companies that are using social media for conversations, marketing, fundraising and promotions and other types of communication, don’t have a policy or even a governance model in place.

A good social media policy addresses what needs to be conveyed to customers and fans on social media channels. It should also have selective answers to crisis questions.

Lawyers play a big role when it comes to a social media crisis response for companies. Many Fortune 500 companies might not have a social media policy in place, but their social media comments and responses are careful monitored by internal company lawyers. Lawyers play a key role in approving what is said on all media channels during a crisis, so it is not unusual that social media is one of those channels that goes dark. Part of the reason for this is that the crisis itself is already being handled by company lawyers, and in order to control the amount of monetary damage most lawyers order a shut down of information during this time period.

Here’s a checklist that any company should follow on social channels when the heat is on…

1 – Address the crisis, no mater how bad it is. Make a statement on all social media channels. “We know that this bad thing happened.”

2 – Apologize and take ownership of the crisis – more importantly be humble.

3 – Give your fans and customers an action plan regarding how you are going to rectify the crisis. “We are going to speak to this location about what happened.” “We are going to remove these employees.”

4 – Asking brand advocates to help with spreading the word.

5 – Re-affirm your company’s values on social media channels. This can be done by stating your principles or offering them an incentive stay with you.

Being prepared on your social media channels is still the best way to handle a crisis but learning form others and implementing a solid checklist is important.

We are beginning to reach a stage in social media where it needs to garner the same attention that any business initiative does. Listening planning and engaging. Hopefully by the end of this year we will see more companies keeping the lights on when a crisis comes up.



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