Recommended Reading for 2014 #1

The marketing and internet related books I can recommend so far this year:

Automate This
By Christopher Steiner

Keep calm and let an automated, rule-based, decision-making piece of software run the show for you.


Epic Content Marketing
By Joe Pulizzi

I’ve read all of Joe’s books. His latest is the culmination of what he’s published previously. Feel free to jump directly ahead to this – it’s good.

The Master Switch
By Tim Wu

Battle Royale over control of the internet: the pipes, the content and the delivery devices. Wu uses historical precedents to highlight a contemporary and familiar road-fork. A wonderful read.

The Year Without Pants
by Scott Berkum

Inside the tent at Automattic/ during 2010-11, with a side commentary on the open source movement.


The Everything Store
By Brad Stone

One hell of a ride.


Local business owner finally cracks Google


Michael Chesterton, who owns a small drycleaning business in the inner Melbourne suburb of Armadale, recently announced to close friends and family that he was now coming up number 1 on Google for searches on his own business name. “Over the last couple of weeks we finally cracked it.” said Michael. “Now if you google ‘Mick’s Drycleaning and Alterations Armadale’ we’re dominating the results. This is a real game-changer – our competitors won’t know what’s hit them!”

Michael, like many small business-owners these days relies heavily on organic search to drive new customers through the door. Appearing high in Google’s search results is now seen as a business ‘must have’. While many aspire to do well in the space, not everyone is able to reach the pinnacle of unpaid search: appearing somewhere on page 1 for people who run a search on their business name.

“It’s been a long struggle – for years we were in the digital wilderness”, says Michael thoughtfully. “We really owe a huge thanks to our SEO guru-consultant Max Bull who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Although we’ve invested a considerable sum, and there will be ongoing maintenance costs, it’s worth every cent. In fact, we’re so impressed with the results we’re thinking about launching our own website next year”.

Dear Miss Social…


Dear Miss Social

I’ve been doing social media for almost three years. A close friend suggested I try it out after the sudden death of our family cat, Dugs. I was only looking for a short-term distraction but have since adopted social media as part of my weekly routine and enjoy it very much. But here’s my issue: some of the people that I am following on Twitter are not following me back. I consider myself to be an outgoing person with a pleasant disposition, and can see no reason for these slights. In one instance I know the offender personally, which is doubly hurtful… should I say something to her? I would hardly know where to start.

Yours Sincerely,
Upset Tweeter
Hobart, Australia


Dear Gentle Reader

Miss Social must correct you on a point: one does not “do” social media, one engages in it. Social intercourse of any nature is a participatory activity between two or more consenting parties. Miss Social does not approve of broadcasting into a vacuum.

Your current predicament with Twitter is understandable, but eminently avoidable. Miss Social is reminded of dogs who harbour simple notions of social reciprocity such as ‘you can smell my bottom, and I get to smell yours’ (usually a simultaneous exchange when the breeds are of a similar size). Such a compact, so to speak, does not exist within social media. Twitter is a network – it scarcely matters who is following whom, as long as all participants are able to derive value from the collective. If we all do our very best and concentrate on making Twitter an interesting place to be, the connecting threads of value will form quite naturally. “It all evens out in the wash” as Miss Social’s dear Granny Mayfield was very fond of saying.

As to your non-following acquaintance, Miss social recommends this course: lift your credibility in her eyes by adding her to a public Twitter list called ‘Interesting and Beautiful Individuals’ – few people could stop themselves from taking an enquiring sniff or two of something as intriguing as that.

Yours in Social,
Miss Social

NET:101 Telephone Essentials for Business Course

Following on from our popular ‘Photocopying for Success’ workshop we bring you the next in our Office Technology series.

97% of Australian consumers use, or would consider using, the telephone as a way to contact their preferred businesses – yet many organisations have not confidently embraced the technology. This workshop will provide a roadmap for the introduction and adoption of the telephone in your business. Can you afford not to talk with your customers – even if they’re not in the room? This full-day session is presented in a practical learning format: real telephones will be used in an interactive class setting limited to 22 people. A Certificate of Training is provided.

NB: A series discount applies: if you book this workshop in conjunction with the ‘Photocopying for Success’ and ‘Printer Mastery’ workshops, you will receive a 20% discount. Please contact us for the promo code before registering. Have any questions? View our FAQ’s or call us.




Building the Business Case Internally
It may not be fully understood by senior management what the business benefits of a telephone are. We will present compelling case-studies from the commercial, government and NFP sectors where telephones has been successfully introduced.

Calculating Telephone Return on Investment (ROI)
Counter the common objection to installing a telephone in your workplace: “But how will we quantify the return?” While there is no fixed ROI formula there are ways to calculate demonstrated value by tracking ‘assisted business conversions’ using an analogue notation ledger (pad and pen).

Setting Your Telephone Objectives
Introducing a telephone into your organisation without management buy-in and objective setting can be risky. Utilise our 4-point framework to identify, then articulate the objectives to others: customer relations, crisis management, sales and recruitment.

Telephone Etiquette
Knowing how to interact with and speak on the telephone can be baffling, even for seasoned operators – we will build your confidence when dealing with situations such as: receiving calls from people you’ve never met in person, answering a call without knowing who’s calling, working out the order in which two people should talk, what to do if you need to go to the toilet in the middle of a call, and how to terminate a conversation without causing offence.

The Telephone as an Outbound Communications Channel
It’s not widely known that the telephone can also be used to initiate calls, not just receive them. While the business need for this may not be immediately obvious it’s an important option to keep open.

Telephone Terminology
Learn new telephone terms and use them with confidence. We will demystify expressions such as “Hello?”, “Who shall I say is calling?” and “How do you spell that?”

Building a Multi-Telephone Strategy (Group Exercise)
Is your business advanced to the point that more than one telephone might be necessary? We will run a mapping exercise to determine whether your organisation is positioned to take full advantage of a second (or even third) telephone.

Physical Placement
A telephone must be carefully positioned within your workplace for maximum effectiveness. Find out which rooms are ideal for telephones and which are not.

Telephone Number Registration
Identifying authorised providers to secure your unique 8 digit telephone number.

Telephone Trouble-Shooting & Maintenance
Learn how to increase or decrease ring volume, deal with cord tangles, and maintain a high standard of mouth and ear-piece hygiene.

Strange things often seen


Online transgressions that should be as uncommon as bears on bikes:

  • A business without a website
  • A website without a visible telephone number
  • A website without analytics
  • Website analytics without conversion goals
  • An ‘About Us’ section about nobody
  • A ‘News’ section without news
  • An online image without originality
  • A negative online review without an owner response
  • Social media without a strategy
  • A social media channel without branding
  • A customer query on social media gone unanswered
  • A personal LinkedIn profile without a picture
  • An organisation without a LinkedIn Company Page
  • A blog post without the name of the author
  • A Facebook brand page without an internal champion
  • An event without a designated hashtag

Ooh, look over there!

Could you please like us?


Hey, we were wondering if you could like us?

We’re a likeable business, you probably know that already – we’re just asking you to formalise the obvious by making it publicly known. It’s no big deal, we know it doesn’t mean anything that important, but still, it would really help us out. We could like you back if that makes your decision easier? We could go first as a sign of good faith? We’re more than happy to do that because we like you, and if you go ahead and like us that would just cement things. Amigos forever. We could even like some of your friends if that would help them out – you see, that’s what I’m talking about, the sort of thing friends do for one another without being asked. No probs! Haha, yes of course it’s all just a silly game – we know that, and we know that you know that we know that – but still it would help us a million if you could.  So how about it? Like us that is.

Where I’m going, you can’t follow.


Move on. Don’t look back. It’s over…

Initiating a break-up is never easy – even letting go of a social media platform can be emotionally challenging. But sometimes it’s the right thing to do… it’s the only thing to do. I’ve had a few bust-ups over the years, starting with MySpace in 2007 (we were both too young and naive).  My 10-month fling with Second Life in 2008 was initially exciting but ultimately unrewarding – I still have an old video of our time together which I’ve held onto. I checked out of Foursquare after 2 years – the badge collecting and the Mayoral races wore me down. And then there was Facebook… we were BFF’s let me tell you – but she got her big career break on Wall St back in ’13 and fell in with a group of people I didn’t much care for. She started changing in ways I didn’t like. We were seeing less and less of each other, and then on one grey Sunday afternoon I finally moved out (I think she still has some old records of mine).

I’ve listed several of the most common reasons why your organisation might be forced to consider the closing of one or more of your social media platforms. But the main point is this: don’t ever be afraid to delete an account and move on. Look after your own needs first – you can’t keep giving endlessly while clinging to the hope that one day it will all come right. It’s the plain enveloped letter that’s harder to write than it is to receive:

Dear John…

1. Our friends are too different

Okay, you so gave Facebook or Instagram or blogging a go but discovered over time that the bulk of your target audience just aren’t hanging out on those platforms. Or if they are they’re having their own private party (gate-crashing brands not welcome here).

2. You’ve changed

Things change. Algorithms, payment models, can’t dos, privacy settings. If don’t like the new direction, tough. You weren’t paying for it in the first place so you don’t really get much say here. Shut-up or ship-out (as a sociopathic former boss of mine used to say).

3. You want money, and I have none to spare

The free-to-play party is over. To maintain your reach or conversion numbers you now need to come up with the dosh. Or deal with the new normal. No use lamenting how good it used to be in the fun-loving ‘pre-IPO days’.

4. You’re pulling me down

It’s become a distinctly uncool place to be – think MySpace or Foursquare. Time to leave before it gets messy. Leaving a sinking ship doesn’t make you a rat, it makes you an untarnished survivor.

5. You were an experiment, nothing else 

And now that particular experiment is O-V-E-R.

6. You’re too demanding

You grossly underestimated how much time was required to keep your presence there looking fresh and interesting. Doing a half-arsed job of it is not an option – be all in or all out.

7. You’re not the only one

You have too many kittens to feed and not enough milk to go round. This need not be a Sophie’s Choice dilemma – cut one or two of them loose and concentrate on strengthening the remainder.

8. You’re never satisfied

Where there’s no content there’s no social. Starting a blog or opening up a YouTube channel without the ability to  write long-form or produce video is not going to end well. Content ability first, social media selection second.

8. You’re on the rebound

The person who was driving whichever social media channel has left the building. You now  need to assign that responsibility to someone else pronto, or close it down pronto (or at the very least suspend the account).

9. It’s not working

You’re having difficulty calculating the return on investment (and suspect it may be negative). You need clearer ways of measuring what success looks like against your stated organisational objectives. If objectives are not being met the under-performing platform needs counselling, retraining or to be given the royal boot.




Self-harming online


It’s a special kind of hurt when you do it to yourself, especially online. Here are several reliable approaches to stepping onto the virtual garden rake:

1. Post when angry or drunk

Saying anything online is like squeezing out toothpaste – it’s a messy business if you need to push it back in for any reason. Best NEVER to post in the heat of the moment, when angry or tired, or if you have alcohol under your belt.

2. Suppress comments on your blog which are contrary to your own

So somebody disagrees with your worldview – get used to it. But don’t moderate out comments on your blog or elsewhere from people who have respectfully taken the time to offer an alternative position or have challenged you on a point. It’s a a sign of weakness to marginalise dissenters.

3. Say horrible things online while hiding behind a pseudonym

Hi zingerman666 - sooner or later we’ll work who you really are.

4. Post a fake a review for your own business

Tempting yes, but now also illegal. Don’t go there.

5. Post a negative review for a competitor business

Also illegal. Furthermore you run the risk of being outed (say goodbye to your professional integrity).

6. React angrily to a a negative online review

When you respond to a review it’s not really intended for the person who posted it – they’re long gone. It’s really for all of the people in the future who will read the original review and then your response to it. An angry retort is not what potential new customers want to see.

7. Don’t respond to your customers on social media

Don’t ignore genuine customer enquiries, questions or complaints which have been posted through a social media platform. If you can’t be responsive across all of your social media touch-points, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

8. Give your social media login credentials to someone who needs to ‘reset your account’

You ‘reset your account’ because you received a message from someone who you’ve never met and they asked you to. Now your Twitter wall is full of weight reduction products and you can’t login to stop it.

9. Allow an ex-employee to take control  of your social media accounts

You fired the person who looks after your social media media. Now they’ve left the building with the login credentials to all of your social media accounts. Oh dear, this could get nasty…