Shattering my assumptions by using LinkedIn for local marketing

At the same time that Bredemarket helps other firms to market themselves, Bredemarket has to market ITSELF, including social media marketing. And for the past year I’ve subscribed to the following formula:

  • Use LinkedIn for professional marketing to biometric/identity and technology clients.
  • Use Twitter as a supplement to this.
  • Use Facebook as a supplement to this, and also use Facebook as Bredemarket’s sole foray into “general business” marketing.

It sounded like a good formula at the time…but now I’m questioning the assumptions behind it. And I’m hoping that I can prove one of my assumptions wrong.

My initial assumptions about marketing to local businesses

As I write this, Bredemarket has no clients in my hometown of Ontario, California, or in any of the nearby cities. In fact, my closest clients are located in Orange County, where I worked for 25 years.

It’s no secret that I’ve been working to rectify that gap and drum up more local business.

So this was an opportune time for me to encounter Jay Clouse’s September 2021 New Client Challenge. (It’s similar to a challenge Clouse ran in August 2020. Repurposing is good.) Clouse’s first question to all participants asked which market we would be targeting, and in my case the local small business market seemed an obvious choice.

And this dialogue played in my mind…

So when I market to local businesses, I’ll want to do that via relevant Facebook Groups. Obviously I won’t market the local services via LinkedIn or Twitter, because those services are not tailored to local service marketing.

Questioning my assumptions

Then I realized that I was wrong, for two reasons.

  1. First, there are LinkedIn groups that concentrate on my local area, just as there are LinkedIn groups that concentrate on biometrics. I had already quit a number of the dormant Inland Empire LinkedIn groups, but I was still a member of two such groups and could (tastefully) market there.
  2. If LinkedIn doesn’t provide an opportunity for me to do something, why don’t I tailor my use of LinkedIn and provide myself the opportunity?

Specifically, some of you may recall that I only have two LinkedIn showcase pages, but I have three Facebook groups.

  • “Bredemarket Identity Firm Services” is present on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • “Bredemarket Technology Firm Services” is present on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • “Bredemarket General Business Services” is only present on Facebook.

I explained the rationale for the lack of a third LinkedIn showcase page in a nice neat summary:

Using myself as an example, I have segmented my customers into markets: the identity (biometrics / secure documents) specific market (my primary market), the general technology market, and the general business market. I don’t even target the general business market on LinkedIn (I do on Facebook), but I’ve created showcase pages for the other two.

If you consider that “local business services” is a subset of “general business services,” some of you can see where this is going.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

But it took a while for the thought to pound its way into my brain:

Why DON’T you target the (local) general business market on LinkedIn?

I could just create a new showcase page, a process that would only take a few minutes. I wouldn’t even have to create any new artwork, since I could simply repurpose the Facebook general business artwork and use it for a LinkedIn local business showcase page. (Repurposing is good.)

(As an aside, my approach to artwork for Bredemarket’s marketing segments was dictated by LinkedIn Stories. Which is now disappearing. Oh well.)

So anyway, LinkedIn is now the home of Bredemarket Local Firm Services.

Now I just have to populate the showcase page with content (and continue to do so), invite people to follow the new showcase page, and proceed on my plan for world domination, one loft at a time.

Call to action time

And if you’re a small business in the Ontario, California area, here’s some information on the services I can provide to you.

And if you want more detailed information, please visit https://bredemarket.com/local/. (Read to the end.)

And if you want even more detailed information, contact me.

So which assumption will I shatter next?

I’d like to prove THIS assumption wrong:

(Still waiting for that $10,000 per hour client.)

Winding down the 28th parallel experiment

Wrapping up a few loose ends about the whole 28th parallel thingie (where I posted/shared multiple content items in a short period to see what would happen).

I just completed a podcast episode about it. (TL;DR: no huge effect.)

Yesterday, I made an observation about traffic vs. engagement on my business Twitter account.

Also yesterday, I posted an obscure trivia question on my personal Twitter account. (It didn’t really get traffic OR engagement.)

Conclusion? In the short term it didn’t help, but it didn’t harm either. And I may exercise the flexibility to increase my content sharing when warranted.

Tenerife. By NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Kathryn Hansen. – https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/88659/tenerife-canary-islands, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101333395

That was fun.

Well, my experiment is now complete.

If you missed the explanation of what I just did, I had a backlog of identity-related draft blog posts, and I decided to post all of them at once.

Specifically, I just posted:

And all four of those posts were also shared to my Twitter account, the Bredemarket Identity Firm Services showcase page on LinkedIn, and the Bredemarket Identity Firm Services group on Facebook.

Will my 140+ blog subscribers, 250+ Twitter followers, 120+ showcase page followers, and 9 group followers (yeah, Facebook lags the other platforms) be overwhelmed by this blast of content? Or will they like it? Or will they even notice?

Because of the way social media feeds work, it is questionable that many of the followers will even notice. Social media feeds are presented to readers in order of importance, and Bredemarket isn’t the most important thing to ANY of these followers. (Except for me. Maybe.)

The 28th parallel

Black wildebeest. By derekkeats – Flickr: IMG_4955_facebook, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14620744

My Bredemarket activities allow me to eat my own wildebeest food, trying out activities that I can potentially duplicate for my clients.

One of these activities is a content calendar, in which I strive to balance my own content between the various foci of Bredemarket. This ensures that I don’t neglect talking about certain things that I do.

One problem that I DON’T have is generating enough content about identity topics. In fact, over the last few days I’ve built up several posts that discuss identity. Under normal circumstances, it would take a couple of weeks to post all of them.

I’m not going to do that.

I’m going to post several of them this afternoon. Especially since a couple of them are interrelated, and it’s easier to interrelate things when you post them at about the same time.

Be prepared for the identity posts that will appear on the Bredemarket blog, and in the relevant (i.e. identity-related) social media channels.

Will this abundance of content result in MORE engagement, or LESS? (Not that I’m planning to create 100 posts over the next couple of hours, but perhaps some may be overwhelmed.)

In case you’re interested in the entire slew of content, I’m going to tag all of this afternoon’s posts with the tag 28thparallel.

And if you have to ask whether I’m referring to the 28th parallel north or the 28th parallel south, the answer is…north.

Stay tuned.

Technology without a revenue plan will not survive

This tweet is trending.

And while Confidently Zay is missing the old MySpace, I myself run in circles that miss the former social service FriendFeed.

So what happened to these two innovative services?

  • Well, Tom may be long gone, but MySpace still exists today. It is branded as part of the “People / Entertainment Weekly Network.” And there are a number of people on the network, like a guy with the name Kanye, another guy with the name Avicii (yes I know he’s dead, but he has a MySpace profile), and others.
  • As for FriendFeed, if you try to go to friendfeed.com you end up at facebook.com. The service survived for several years after Facebook acquired it, but Facebook finally shut down the servers in 2015.

Let’s dig into the details of why these services are not what they used to be.

So what happened to MySpace?

At one point MySpace was the king of all social media, having acquired the title from Friendster. After being founded in 2003, it boasted one million members in 2004 and 16 million users in 2005, and was recognized as the social network until Facebook surpassed it in users in 2008.

MySpace offered several advances over Friendster, including an emphasis on scalability and the inclusion of various tools to allow people to build their own personal communities.

Yet MySpace’s founders chose to sell the service to News Corp. (Rupert Murdoch’s outfit) in 2005 for $580 million. A few years later, in 2011, News Corp. sold it again…for only $35 million. Tom, who stayed with the company after News Corp. acquired it, retired in 2009.

Why did Tom et al sell the service to News Corp. in the first place? And why did News Corp. buy it?

  • For the owners of Intermix (the company that ran MySpace), the attraction was money. MySpace wasn’t a big money-maker; recorded monthly revenues in March 2004 were $135,000. Presumably it made more money in future months, but even as late as December 2004 the service was only valued at $46 million. After the sale to News Corp., Tom Anderson signed an employment agreement giving him $30 million.
  • As for News Corp., it didn’t acquire MySpace for MySpace. It acquired MySpace because it added value to the Fox properties.

“Intermix is an important acquisition for News Corp., instantly doubling the number of visitors to our sites and providing an ideal foundation on which to meaningfully increase our Internet presence,” News Corp.’s Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

Basically, MySpace was worth more as a feeder to Fox Sports et al than it was as a standalone service. And it became worth even more when it inked a lucrative $900 million advertising deal in 2006.

But as MySpace enjoyed the profitability it never had in its first year, its original users were being driven away.

MySpace became inundated with intrusive ads, many of which led to dubious pages asking users to sign up for credit cards and other services. Money was hemorrhaged out of developer resources as a “massive spaghetti-ball mess” of sections were created to try and generate revenue that would meet News Corp’s unattainable targets. Ultimately, a failure to focus on what its community wanted and the usability of the site saw users leave for other platforms.

Now the common version of the story is that Confidently Zay’s MySpace utopia was ruined by Murdoch’s takeover. In this version of the tale, Moneygrubbing Murdoch killed the golden goose.

The truth, however, is that the utopia of MySpace was ruined by its founders BEFORE Murdoch came on the scene. After all, if the original MySpace had enjoyed nice profits, Tom et al would never have had to sell the service to Murdoch in the first place.

Let’s face it: the Confidently Zay version of MySpace that had no ads was never going to survive anyway, unless the founders had come up with another monetization method. They didn’t.

When Murdoch’s company sold the firm, and when it was sold again, MySpace was rebranded as a music site, and survives as such today. But Tom’s out taking scenic photos, so he’s happy. Maybe he even bought a new t-shirt.

Whoops, I guess he didn’t.

And what happened to FriendFeed?

As News Corp. was working on monetizing MySpace, and Mark Zuckerberg was planning for Facebook world domination, other social media services entered into the fray.

In 2006 and 2007 alone, three notable services were launched: Twitter, Tumblr, and FriendFeed. Today Twitter is by far the most popular of the three, Tumblr is still around somewhere, and FriendFeed no longer exists.

Even those of us who used FriendFeed often forget this, but FriendFeed actually started as a feed aggregator. It wasn’t known for content creation, but was instead known as the place where you could share all of your social content from other services. The benefit was that readers didn’t have to visit every single walled social service to see your content; they could see all of it on FriendFeed. This in itself was a relatively new concept, as “lifestreaming” became a thing.

Eventually FriendFeed expanded from resharing content from other places began to host original content…coupled with new innovations:

When I post something to FriendFeed, all of my friends see it. If one of them comments on it or “likes” it, then two things happen that don’t happen on Facebook. First, our conversation suddenly appears in the news feed of all the friends of the person who commented on my item – whether they know me or not. That doesn’t happen on Facebook. I can see the names of people who comment on my friends’ items – but if my friends comment on items shared by their friends I don’t know – there’s no notification of that in my news feed.

Second, whenever anyone comments on or “likes” any item that’s appeared in my stream of friends’ updates – it’s pushed back up to the top of my FriendFeed page. That makes it all the more likely that I will comment on it again or for the first time.

This 2009 comment highlights two things that are common in social media today, but were rarities 12 years ago.

  • Liking things. Yes, FriendFeed pioneered the “Like” button, although other companies (including Facebook) quickly copied it. There used to be a video that noted one FriendFeed user had amassed tens of thousands of likes. Now everyone does it.
  • Dynamic feeds. Previously, feeds were chronological and static, but FriendFeed advanced some changes to the feed, including one that was very unpopular with certain segments of the FriendFeed community: updating of those static feeds as new content was posted. And, as noted above, comments and likes could also push old content to the top of the feed.

When dynamic feed updates, Michael Arrington (who was still with TechCrunch at the time) talked about it.

Of course, the impact of the innovation is dampened somewhat when you read the post today, because FRIENDFEED NO LONGER EXISTS. But you get the drift.

So FriendFeed was clearly innovative. In addition to the advances that I noted above, FriendFeed was also extremely stable, especially when compared to “fail whale” Twitter.

Revenue-wise, however, FriendFeed was subpar. During its existence before its acquisition by Facebook, FriendFeed had only participated in one funding round, and in that case the funding was from the founders. In terms of establishing a constant revenue stream, FriendFeed claimed to be ahead of other “lifestreaming” services (Plaxo, Iminta, Socialthing, Lifestream.fm and Zude). But FriendFeed had other competition:

However, Facebook, MySpace and Google are all ahead in the battle to become the preferred aggregators of social data, which is crucial if they are to build any significant revenue streams.

And while MySpace wasn’t exactly innovating at the time, Facebook and Google definitely WERE, with Facebook experimenting with the like and eventually acquiring FriendFeed itself. Google, of course, would launch Google+ in 2011 in an attempt to create a social network that united all of Google’s disparate services.

As it turned out, FriendFeed’s founders decided to cash out rather than try to keep FriendFeed independent. The founders stayed with Facebook for a while before leaving, but worked on projects other than FriendFeed for their new corporate overlords: Facebook’s acquisition of FriendFeed was clearly a talent acquisition, although most of the talent (Benjamin Golub being a notable exception) has long since departed.

FriendFeed’s founders were clearly cool technologists. Ironically, they were such cool technologists that they could have lived on their past glories (Gmail, Google Maps) and didn’t NEED for FriendFeed to make money. Perhaps that’s why a revenue model never really entered the equation.

How Facebook was different

In the Internet world, companies fail more often than not. Those companies that survive and thrive for years are rare. For every Microsoft and Apple (formerly Apple Computer) there is an Ashton-Tate or Lotus.

And in the world of social networking, Facebook (and probably Twitter) are unusual.

Why did Facebook survive while MySpace declined and FriendFeed disappeared?

While technological advances and scalability obviously contributed, the important thing about Facebook is that it established a recurring revenue stream. Five years after Facebook was founded in a dorm, it turned a profit from “from applications sold through the website and online advertising.” This ability to generate its own profits, rather relying on funding from outsiders, allowed Facebook to continue to expand. While short-term profits were bumpy around the time of Facebook’s IPO, the company weathered this storm. These days, revenues are…pretty good.

The founders of MySpace and FriendFeed could only dream of such revenue numbers.

Or, more accurately, they DIDN’T dream of those revenue numbers.

This is just a reminder of something that I’ve seen in a lot of situations: the coolest technology won’t amount to anything if it doesn’t produce revenue.

My plans for NASCAR sponsorship, with a comment about websites

Could Bredemarket (eventually) become an auto racing sponsor?

In case it’s not obvious, I’ve had a lot of fun coming up with the names for the various Bredemarket services that I offer, While Bredemarket 404 is my obvious favorite name (I’ll explain why later), I found myself thinking about Bredemarket 400 this afternoon. (That’s my Short Writing Service, if you need text for a blog post or something similar.) And the thought struck me:

“Bredemarket 400” sounds like an auto race.

Now auto racing is not confined to the Southeastern United States and various European locations. In fact, there’s a speedway not too far from Bredemarket, in Fontana, California.

View of Auto Club Speedway from center of the grandstand. By Lvi56 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11463414

This particular speedway already has a sponsor, and I don’t think that Bredemarket can outbid the Auto Club to secure that sponsorship.

At least not today.

But if Bredemarket grows enough, and I decide to become a big name in the auto racing industry, I’d better start doing my research.

Bredemarket research into the auto racing industry, by looking at one website

So I decided to check the website of one of the big names in the auto racing industry. I won’t name the company whose website I checked, but I will mention in passing that I grew up in the Washington, DC area, and am a lifelong fan of the Washington Re- … I mean the Washington Football Team.

So I got to “website X,” and the first thing that I noticed on the website was…the logo of a corporate sponsor for website X. Not surprising, if you know anything about auto racing.

The next item was a special announcement that tours of the company’s facility were suspended due to COVID-19, and that requests for autographs from the owner of the company had also been suspended.

Now that the preliminaries were out of the way, I figured I’d get to the introductory text for website X—the text that explained what the company was about, and who this guy was whose name was prominently featured in the company name. Why would anyone want to get autographs from a company CEO? I, of course, knew WHY this person was so famous, but there are probably a number of racing fans who have never heard of the company owner. Obviously the website should explain this, right?

Um, no. The website X home page had a bunch of stuff, but nothing that explained what the company was.

So I checked the menu, figuring that there would be an “About” section, presumably as the first menu item.

“About” was the last menu item. I would have put it first, but at least it was there.

So I went to the “About” page, figuring that I would finally see the story of the company and of its famous owner.

The first thing on the “About” page was a button. If you clicked the button, you would find out the name of the owner of the company and a list of its championship years.

Thanks.

I scrolled down the “About” page, and the next thing that I saw was the address of the facility and the hours during which it could be visited.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself. The home page said that the facility could NOT be visited, and now this page is saying to go ahead and come on down?

The rest of the “About” page wasn’t much better. The Frequently Asked Questions are apparently infrequently updated, since they reference (again) the times that the facility is open, an announcement of an event that occurred a week ago, the ability to get autographs from the company owner at one of his personal appearances, and other outdated information.

How can a website be improved?

Some of you already know where this post is headed. For those who don’t, ask yourself the following question:

Isn’t there a way for a company to check its web site and its other social media outlets to make sure that everything is correct, up to date, and synchronized?

I’m glad you asked that question, because one of the services that Bredemarket provides is the aforementioned Bredemarket 404 Web/Social Media Checkup. The number 404, of course, comes from the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) code “404 Not Found,” although the Bredemarket service looks at much more than missing web pages.

As part of the Bredemarket 404 service, I agree with the client on the web pages, social media accounts, and (optionally) downloadable documents that Bredemarket will examine. The examination itself includes the following:

  • Broken links
  • Outdated information
  • Other text and image errors
  • Synchronization between the web page and the social media accounts
  • Content synchronization between the web page and the social media accounts
  • Hidden web pages that still exist
  • Other items desired by the client

It’s a useful checkup to see where your website and social media accounts stand, allowing your company to take action, fix problems, and improve your marketing outreach. If your company doesn’t have the time to perform the checkup yourself, let Bredemarket do it.

Contact Bredemarket and we can discuss next steps.