70 Percent of Local Business Owners Market on Facebook – Not!

On March 1, 2011, a popular public relations website posted an article based on previously published research, claiming “70 percent of local-business owners market on Facebook.” The headline was shocking, the content equally bold, and the dialog that followed typical of the hype surrounding social media.

Readers began commenting almost immediately. One visitor challenged the assertion, suggesting it should not have been cited without investigation, and the site’s publisher quickly defended the post with a series of anecdotes about an 80-year-old t-shirt merchant, a few local bars and a family diner. From a neighboring state, the CEO of a marketing firm saw the publisher’s tweet and countered with his disbelief. Many of his followers echoed his skepticism.

Within days, this relatively obscure article had been “tweeted” 99 times, “liked” 35 times and “inShared” 117 times, as social media devotees echoed the good news: Facebook is king. Meanwhile, skeptics retaliated with posts of their own. Such is the power of social media. But one has to wonder how many of the people who shared, responded to, or blindly retweeted this post took the time to read the original press release on which it was based, or followed the author’s embedded links to the survey data, posted two weeks earlier. I suspect if they had, there would have been less activity, as a careful review of the data reveals a very different picture.

It all comes down to sample bias – a term used to describe the use of a skewed or non-random group as representative of the larger universe. In the case of this study, researchers confined the sample space to members of “the largest social network of local business owners in the U.S.” The key word, here, is “social network.”

Local business owners who choose to join (and remain active in) social networks would obviously be a subset of the larger universe of local business owners, and a survey of that subset would not likely be representative of the universe. The sampling was further skewed by the method chosen to distribute the survey invitations: email. So, those who participated in the survey would have had to be members of the subset of the social network (subset) who are loyal enough to open and act on emails from the organization. It’s not hard to see why these social networkers might be more likely to practice social media marketing than would local business owners who don’t even belong to social networks, much less participate in their surveys.

Using statistics drawn from a biased subset of local business owners to represent all local business owners is no more justifiable than drawing conclusions on the national rate of alcohol consumption from a survey of bar patrons.

The practice is, however, entertaining. And the results lend themselves well to viral distribution by social media enthusiasts.

In the social media world, mistakes like this are self-perpetuating, simply because they feed the buzz. But who pays the price for feeding the buzz? Perhaps those at greatest risk are the “followers” who view reposts as endorsements. So, next time you come across a startling discovery – particularly one that just doesn’t make sense – consider doing your friends and followers a favor, with the delete key.

Your Business Advisory Board

Every business owner benefits from the wise counsel of a select group of experts, who offer a differential diagnosis that brings fresh air and information into the room and drags us out of the echo chamber of our auto-pilot habits and ingrained perspectives.

Fortunately, life equips us with an advisory board, whether or not we recognize it as such. Unfortunately, most of the advice we receive is bad, starting with what know-it-all cousin Howie and meddlesome Aunt Sheila have to say (those two will have you broke in six months!).

No, our real advisory board must be carefully curated. One must know whose advice in general should be heeded and whose should be ignored. The advisory board that we create can be informal. It is not necessary to charter a formal board unless the business demands it. We should consult our advisory board regularly, to find out what is new on the horizon, figure out how to solve problems faster, brainstorm intriguing new ideas and overall learn how to work not just hard, but smart.

Clients

As numerous experts repeatedly recommend, listen to your clients and receive a wealth of information. Customers give the outside-in, other side of the desk view and what they value most is sometimes surprising. You cannot always fathom what customer priorities will be and you won’t know until you let them tell you.

Customers are vital members of our advisory board. They represent the marketplace and when the market speaks, business owners must listen. Ask for customer feedback in the form of evaluations, surveys, or plain old Q & A over coffee. Ask what they like about your products and services; ask what would enhance the experience of doing business with you; ask business clients about upcoming trends and challenges in their organizations and figure out what you can monetize.

Employees

If you have employees, seek out their insights and advice on how your business protocols might be improved. Employees are in the trenches and often know better than the owner about how the business is perceived by customers. Employees are uniquely positioned to give very valuable feedback. Owners and managers should be smart enough to listen.

Likewise our accountant, attorney and other professional service providers, through the unique prism of their specialty, may offer useful advice that can have a positive impact on the business. A wise business owner creates an environment where employees and customers know that their opinions and advice are welcomed, respected and at least occasionally implemented.

Competitors

Do speak with experienced people within your industry, including competitors. Many will be happy to share a few pearls of wisdom with you, especially if they operate in another geographic locale. Marketing tips and other promotional strategies can be good topics to discuss, as could the types of services that resonate most with clients these days.

Roundtables

Additionally, you may find it useful to have also a structured advisory board experience and for this I recommend membership in a peer group, also known as a CEO forum or roundtable. Groups consist of perhaps a dozen business owners in non-competing industries. They are often segmented by number of employees and annual revenues and usually meet monthly for about 2 hours. The idea is to assemble a group of business owners who share a similar profile and who therefore have the perspective to offer relevant advice and support to fellow members.

When properly facilitated, group members function as each other’s board of directors. There is guidance and support on decision-making. Members celebrate successes. New ways to view and resolve business challenges are put forth. Opportunities may be discovered, goal setting is encouraged and members hold one another accountable for progress and achievements. Peer roundtables can provide a welcome source of support and inspiration and do much to overcome the isolation that many business owners experience.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Echo Chainsaws For Homeowners

When people think of the tools they have around the household, they often think about hammers, screwdrivers and nails: devices used to tackle small and simple problems. However, when large problems arise that need heavier machinery, many people find themselves completely unprepared. Many problems can arise outdoors, leaving the homeowner stumped at how to handle situations such as fallen or sick trees. Thankfully, the chainsaws built and designed by the Echo company ensure that if such a tricky situation arises, no homeowner will be unprepared again.

While Echo might not be the first name that comes to mind when people consider purchasing a chainsaw, it is one of the most reliable. The Echo Corporation has built a long-lasting and strong reputation of designing and manufacturing dependable and reliable machinery. The company has been in business for several decades and never fails to improve on their old models while still ensuring that the trusted and tested features remain.

Echo chainsaws are lightweight and easy to use. No matter what job needs doing, an Echo chainsaw can be trusted to get it done. The lightweight design makes it easy for the user to carry it from place to place, which is useful because no two jobs are ever the same. Despite its lightweight design, Echo chainsaws are reliable and durable and can be trusted to withstand task after task.

Many chainsaw companies produce their tools for use by professionals in the lawn care and tree-removal industries, which can leave casual users who purchase the chainsaw struggling to use the chainsaw during routine household projects. However, Echo chainsaws are manufactured and designed with the causal user in mind, ensuring that their chainsaws are simple and easy to operate. Echo chainsaws also special, patented technology to reduce the effort of starting their chainsaws by thirty percent. Another feature that makes Echo chainsaws more user friendly is the Vibration Reduction System, which ensures that the user will be able to use the chainsaw comfortably for a longer period of time, which means getting the job done faster.

In order to ensure that owners of Echo chainsaws get the most out of their machine, Echo has manufactured their chainsaws with a Pre-Cleaner system, which spins out dirt and keeps it away from the engine, which increases the life of the engine and of the chainsaw. When thinking about the tools necessary for those big, out-door jobs, don’t think beyond the Echo brand chainsaw, which is dependable, reliable and easy-to-use and perfect all any job big or small.