advertising business internet

A List Of 5 Popular Tools Small Business Should NOT Use And Why

Everybody’s raving (if I still can use this expression in ’09) about online tools: social media, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and getting on the front page of Digg. While not even remotely contesting the overall usefulness of each of these tools I’d like to take a step back and look at them from a different perspective.

Many small business owners (my direct clients and their peers) are asking me whether they should get a blog. Or if they should be on the Digg (it’s not the question of how – these things are up for sale and that’s the reality of the market). Should they go for promoting themselves on PRWeb or YouTube? Should they hire people to sparkle discussions on forums or start getting a gathering on MySpace?

There is, obviously, no single answer. There is, however, a good chance you will be able to make a decision based on the list below.

Twitter: if you don’t have a dedicated person who is willing to update the twitter stream constantly – DON’T use it. If you have a few large clients or if your clients are using your services once in a blue moon (like limo company) – DON’T waste your time for Twitter, use other means of getting your point across.

Blogs: if there is no one to keep up with posting to your blog – DON’T. It damages your image much more significantly if your prospective clients spot a blog that hasn’t been updated since last year and the only posts there are either obviously professionally crafted PR pitches, SEO texts or updates like “We moved to new address”. You don’t need a separate blog for content that would perfectly fit into your main web site structure. Discounts, promotions, case studies – they all belong to the main site.

Digg: if your company isn’t selling nationwide (or worldwide) – don’t waste your efforts on Digg. For the time, effort and money you spend getting on a frontpage of Digg and receiving that huge traffic bump you better off with more reasonable ways to advertise. Besides the fact that your web host may not be adeqate to support such a spike in visitors, most of them are not your target audience. Put your money where your clients are, and if it’s not Digg – DON’T waste your resources on that.

MySpace/Facebook: it’s hard to say what goes and what doesn’t for these two social platforms, but the same rule as with Twitter applies here. If your services or goods are one-time deal – DON’T waste your effort on building a significant presense on MySpace/Facebook. While it may look like it makes sense – chances are that once your service is consumed your clients would rarely come back to post their feedback. So unless you have a teenage kid who spends his time on MySpace and Facebook anyway and you can talk him into doing this stuff for you – DON’T waste your time, it’s not worth it. Abandoned two-year old profile with your old address and disconnected phone number is the last thing you want your potential clients to see before they try to contact you.

YouTube: converting traffic from YouTube is one of the hardest tasks so far. Aside from that – creating a good video takes time, posting it takes time, keeping tabs on what’s going on with it takes time – and you don’t even know who’s watching it. So unless you’re absolutely know what you are doing – DON’T spend your money and time on video. Spend it on AdWords, local ads or something that gets you better conversion.

As you can see – the list is not definitive and is stuffed with ifs and whens. As a general rule – try to estimate how many actual clients you will get for what price. Compare it with existing ways of advertising, see if you get a better deal there. With all the latest hype about online tools business owners forget about simple old-fashion advertising. It still works – stay tuned to find out how.


The Obligatory End-of-the-Year Post

As pretty much any other blogger, at the end of the year (or before another one starts) – here’s the recap of what happened during a year.

January – 66 posts written (I think this is the most posts I have ever written in a month). Most prominent are Small Business Survival (crisis is still here, might still be worth reading), Home Surveillance System (part 1, part 2), the whole series on blog editors (now a little outdated though) and Hacking WordPress theme (with all the updates). There were a lot of other interesting posts as well, but these are the essense.

February – 19 posts written. Among interesting – Samsung BlackJack, January Search Trends (this is when I actually started following them), Gadgets As Conversational Pieces, Live Tech Support services review (part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4), the Late Night Post About Clients (the web site that had never took off as of now) and two on browser wars. Now, with introduction of Google’s Chrome it would be interesting to return to this in the next year.

March – 5 posts (boy, I really was slacking off). Conference Center Wireless Trickery (still valid for some places) and two articles on Administering Web Store Databases. With the infusion of cloud-based services this might become obsolete faster then I thought. On the other hand, since we have these huge “clouds”, but unreliable and slow broadband, it might be more useful then clouds.

April – 4 posts (slacking continues). Generally Speaking With A Client is the only worthy read.

May – 5 posts (the only defence I have is that these are large posts). Sexy Girls and Hot Cars, Retire Your iPod, and Land Line Is Doomed are there for your enjoyment.

June – 2 posts (it was hot out there!). Cheap Hardware? That’s Expensive is a good read in times of cutting costs on everything.

July – 3 posts (I don’t like to write in Summer). A post on Starbucks Experience and contemplation on new domain zones are worth it.

August – 8 posts (see, it’s getting better!). Job Offer Spam, one more Small Business Don’ts, a post on social media influence on read-world politics and how modern politics trying to influence the social media by targeted trolling and infuses of false and misleading information and a post on Blackberry vs. iPhone.

September – 12 posts (oh, the improvement!). FiOS vs. Cable, customer service at Staples, Small Business Will Step Up… Later and a rant on oncoming netbook revolution.

October – 6 posts (the weather was too nice outside!). How to fix our economy (part 1 and part 2) – too late for that, I guess, but the idea is still good and valid, and one more advice for businesses how to benefit from crisis.

November – 3 posts (I have a good excuse – I was getting married). Post Halloween Web Trends is a good read for retailers who somehow depend on that holiday.

December – 9 posts (including this one). Las Vegas Learning, review of Cheap Web Conferencing service, our generation’s choosing of Internet over sex (I still don’t believe it though), Buying Domains On A Smartphone (trust me, this issue will go on forever) and AT&T’s squeezing money out of Pandora listeners who don’t happen to be iPhone owners are good reads before the year’s out.

All in all it was a good year, given the crisis and all. I definitely see the room for improvement – both for my company, my life and this blog.


Back In Business

Right! Back from being sick, tending to sick close one, crashed server and back in business on a new one. It’s been quite a busy time, but I think I managed to take care of all the emergencies that just kept popping up one after another (or sometimes simultaneously). By the way, Dreamhost is the slowest host I have ever been on, but even something with shell access is better then nothing when moving half-gig web sites…

We’re starting up a new project. It’s going to be about recruiters and job market recruiting, so if you are on a job market or recently been there – get your stories together, we’ll need them soon. Stay tuned.

Additionally, if any of the readers are interested in blogging about Russian food and any related topic – please get in touch. If not – bring somebody who might be interested.