Holiday season: 'Out of the office' replies not trendy anymore?

the-beachIn our times of social networking, there is an experience that I make which is in some way amusing. In some way it is quite difficult to understand why people do what they do.

Fact is, people tell their contacts via social networks that they will be going on holidays… and don’t send as many ‘Out of the office’ replies in a reactive way as they used to do anymore. The proactive communication approach via social networks seems to be the future.

Years ago, especially in the holiday season, there was an increase in incoming mails with ‘Out of the office’ replies. No matter if you sent an email, or not. Those automated (response) mails did not surprise anyone anymore. We all got used ti it.

Today these automated mails seem to be decreasing, if not vanishing completely. And there is a reason for it: The digital business world is changing. Why is this happening? Social Networks have taken over the sovereignty of the ‘Out of the office’ reply. And the question that I raised some months ago, if business 3.0 will be nearly without emails, seems to show the first signs of ´modern impact.


If someone is on holiday, we get the notice via social networks… and we receive it already some days before people change their desk chair for a beach bar stool at the pool. People tell us in their status updates when and how long they will be going on holidays. And they do tell us at least some days in advance. If this is clever or not, I have not figured out yet.

The reason behind this preventive behavior seems to be quite obvious because it might also be unnecessary. No ‘Out of the office’ reply means ‘No automated mails’ for business partners, clients or people that did not really think of contacting me while I am sitting in the sand at some beach hundred miles away from work.

It is definitely a good service for a promising partnership. People can plan in advance if they need something from the contact that will be going on holidays.


Nevertheless, some business people -or shall I say social networker- should also think about the possible aftermath as the web is public, others might be listening carefully and messages might get into the wrong hands of burglars or thieves who can also plan in advance where and how to get rich the next day. Although status updates can only be seen by your clients, partners or friends, we all know that we don’t really know everyone in depth as we would love to.

As you see in the picture here, some people also wrote it on Twitter, and I don’t know if this is a safe way…

But letting your contacts know about your holidays via social networks is definitely a business trend and a service that is coming up.

Spot on!
Curious to see if you see this trend as well? How do handle this topic yourself? Do you use status update in order to tell your business partners or friends that you will be going on holidays?

Looking forward to your comments…

PS: Sometimes our German’s offline reputation scares me a bit…

News Update – Best of the Day

daily1One of the early adapters in terms of company experts for social media is definitely Coca-Cola. Robin Grant has summarized their efforts, linked to relevant posts and just given companies some ‘guideline’ for a successful social media strategy.

And another case study on social media … but for non-profits: Tamar Weinberg refers to the interesting achievement of Epic Change – a small charity company with only 3 people.

Funny: Are you a business Tweeter? Just tell us which bird you are…

Best feature of social networks? The Pick-a-boo effect…

pick-a-booDon’t we love to play this game with kids because we know how happy it makes them… Pick-a-boo. But as adults using social networks: What is it that makes us happy? Some weeks ago, I asked some friends of mine who in turn asked friends of theirs as well as their colleagues: What is the main benefitial feature of social networks? The most frequent answer that came up was the ‘Who has been on your profile lately’ feature which goes along the lines of ‘The Pick-a-boo’ effect.

Now, what does that mean ‘The Pick-a-boo’ effect’? Well, people register in social networks in order to get in contact or connected with peers, (old) friends or humans that are (or might be) interested in them or/and their work. The tricky point is that there are people in the world of social networks we don’t want to contact any longer, in the future or in general. Nevertheless, we still love to take a peek as we wonder if they are still interested in us, what they are up to and what impact is driving their lives. It’s kind of human vanity and curiosity thing. We want to compare ourselves with them, want to check out how ‘sexy’ our online (and offline) reputation is – not only in terms of business life. We want to play Pick-a-boo. We are there and everybody in social networks knows that, but we are not visible all the time. And, we would love not to be visible for everybody when we are looking at people’s profiles who appear not to be relevant for our life. But we’ll pop-up from time to time to stay ‘up to date’.

So, we make us accessible and available in social networks for those who are also users of these networks. As we don’t know the size of the target group of people who is interested in us, we want to find out about it. By this we are making the ‘ego-community’ transparent for ourselves. And most of us ‘social medians’ are eager and would love to know that, wouldn’t we? Some networks have acknowledged this desire of being famous and our nasty habit of being vain. And they satisfy our need and desire for that with great application features supporting this pick a boo effect: status updates, birthday calender or ‘contacts of your contacts’.

No matter if you are a sales person, a recruiter or a consultant. We all want to know how a person looks like after making a call, or attending a meeting or a conference. And we all want to know more about them, either because it facilitates a second conversation or because we would like to recruit someone or sell something. The more we know, the easier the effort. Playing Pick-a-boo has become standard.

The active Pick-a-boo
Let’s identify the active pick a boo effect in social networks. We try to find the person or/and go to a profile page, x-ray the contact or find out details on his mentality, personality or hobbies. So, we take a quick look at the profile and then we are off again. Sometimes, we might be going there for a second or a third time before getting in touch with that person. And the funny thing is: We know that the other person knows that we have been visiting their profile page. Is it because we want them to do the first step. Or we ‘pick-a-boo’ just to let them know, someone is interested.

The passive Pick-a-boo
The passive benefit of the pick a boo effect lies in the feature ‘Who has been to your profile’ application or widget. Although a paid service feature on some social networks (XING and LinkedIn), it is probably the most viewed or reloaded feature of active social ‘medians’, those users who have access to it. Why is this ‘pick a boo’ application so attractive for us? We can…
… receive transparency on the ego-community
… monitor the quantity and quality of visitors to our profiles
… identify our ‘personal branding target group’
… evaluate our job market options
… see how often Google is used for ‘Recruit-Googling’
… see who ‘delivers’ good contacts to us
and finally the best of all parts: Via the passive pick a boo effect, we can contact people and definitely have a starting point for a business and/or private conversation.

Spot On!
Seeing all these benefits of the Pick-a-boo application ‘Who has seen to your profile lately’, it surprises me that the biggest network of all, Facebook, still doesn’t have this application feature. Or will it be coming with the announcement of becoming a paid service platform? We will see…

Curious to hear your view and experience on the Pick-a-boo effect in social networks?

News Update – Best of the Day

daily1Today, the focus is on personal branding and your career…

Are you a top executive? The so called C-level manager? And you want to understand what you resume needs in order to be interesting for recruiters. Meg Guiseppi has 10 top secrets for a great senior-level executive resume.

In our online social networks the term ‘friend’ has a complete different meaning than in our offline world. Getting this straight in terms of a strategy becomes even more complicated. Chris Brogan writes an interesting summary on friends, reputation and endorsement. And he makes us think how we handle this topic.

One thing is for sure… In order to be successful in business we all need a good contact network. Now, in the era of social networks the question rises what is more important: quantity or quality? Thomas Power gives an answer… (although there is no proof it sounds quite realistic).

Interested to hear about your view and how do you handle your friend, colleague, partner or customer relationships… – Tell us about it!

News Update – Best of the Day

daily1Sponsorships on retail sites are more likely to convert into sales than clicks on organic search engine results… and visitors will spend more. This is what a new study by Engine Ready.

Another breaking deal is done! Facebook buys Friendfeed… and by doing that also a great real-time search-engine. Twitter refused a deal with Facebook some time ago and said ‘No!’. Now the question is if this was a strategic mistake? Or if their amangers hope for Google to buy Twitter. The future will tell us more…

As usual a very cool commercial video on ‘drugs and driving’ (just in German available but still easy to understand for the world)…

Google's new product list – or the freebie wishlist?

gs-competitionIsn’t it wonderful sometimes. I mean, going on the plane… and going offline. I love it… And this small post is the result of it: obviously online…

The web is seen as the “freebie” media. And although I am seen as the “paid-content-advocat” and should not have done that… I have taken the issue of a magazine called ShortList… as it was a freebie. And all of a sudden, you read a magazine you would never have come across in your life. Yes, just as it is a freebie…

And with these freebies, you often get complete new insights and funny outlooks on the future of companies.

This happened to me last week, at London Heathrow airport. Waiting at the gate, I passed by a newsstand with freebies and found a magazine called ShortList

In this magazine I found a very cool 10 bullets shortlist : “Where Google can go next”. It shares visions how Google could make us happy with new products and services. This shortlist seemed sometimes more realistic than a “vision impossible”. It created some freebie visions for Google which they might offer in the future.

I have decided to take my 5 favorites to share my comments (Best partner”) on those with you…

Google X-Ray
From the comfort of your desk you can check out the internal workings of people as they walk the world’s street.
Best partner: Earth TV – Possible doctors game: who finds the first broken rib in a city video…

Google Girlfriend
Worried your other half is having an affair? Simply track down and follow her every move with this handy satellite surveillance application.
Best partner: Twitter – Possible boy-friends game: how long it takes till somebody makes her aware of it…

Google dining
Why go to the expense and trouble of eating out? Simply order a takeaway then virtually take your seat at one of the world’s finest restaurants.
Best partner: toptable – Possible friends game: how long does it take to get thrown out of the restaurant? (Negative: You have to clear up yourself…!)

Google eyes
Having one set of peepers is limiting, but this lets you explore new angles by looking through other people’s eyes.
Best partner: Glassdoor – Compare what your competitor is about to launch, says about your company and if your employees earn to much.

Google Atoms
Being able to see trees, cars and people on the other side of the planet not enough for you? Zoom right in and study their atomic structure.
Best partner: Chemistry – There must be some more detailed way to dive into the chemistry of human’s ‘counter-gender’, right?

Spot On!
So, now that Google gets competition with Facebook (the social network just bought Friendfeed) I was wondering if this shortlist can be expanded with your help – Join in! Let’s be creative for Google and see if there might be something new that we want from them to develop.

Or has Google invented enough online freebies?

Twitter: BBC Interview with Evan Williams

In London the talk of the town in the internet industry and in bars yesterday was the BBC interview on Newsnight with Twitter founder Evan Williams – the first interview that he has given in the UK. And it is no wonder and not surprising that there was so much buzz around this interview. The UK loves social networking…

On Facebook profiles the British country is the number one in Europe. Every third person in the UK is registered on Facebook (16,4 mio. people). And now London is also leading on Twitter accounts. On Twitter accounts the UK in general is coming in second place – just after the US. Even Williams cannot give an answer on the hype around his micro-blogging service, neither for the UK nor in general.

But he had a good answer on the latest critic around Facebook and Twitter from the arch bishop Vincent Bishop who has been blaming the social networks as “dehumanzing communities”:

“I wasn’t aware of that. I think it is kind of silly. (…) It’s about humans connecting with each other. And often in ways they couldn’t otherwise.”

Spot On!
It is a bit of a shame that there was no question on Twitter’s monetization strategy or their verified or business accounts plans. Or some more information on how he sees the Nielsen study on Twitter demographics. Sometimes it is more important to celebrate a status than focusing on good journalism. Somebody standing next to me in the bar said to his friend: “Who is that trying to be my friend on Twitter. Just got to know her by accident. Anyway, she looks nice… Added!”

In the bars the people were celebrating a lot yesterday. If this was because they are the social networking leaders in Europe? Anyway…

Long life to the Queen!

Is Twitter a sales tool?

twitter-dollarIn a lot of talks and meetings with clients I am asked if Twitter is a sales tool. Now, what would you say? The university professor might answer with a Solomonic answer: “Well, it depends how you see it…”. Being a member of the Twitterati it is one of these questions where you have to hold on to your horses in order not to be too excited. The best answer is probably: “Yes, it is… and No, it is not!”…

The why for “Yes, it is”…
Looking at the latest development in the “Twittersphere” it can be said that the micro-blogging service can be used as a push tool for sales promotions meant to generate an upside in revenue. The best examples are accounts from companies like Dell (selling re-furbished IT for 3 mio. USD), Threadless (selling shirts – no numbers released yet) or Zappos (selling shoes – no numbers released yet).

Although we don’t know see any revenue figures of Threadless or Zappos, seeing the follower numbers alone offers the option to sell through the indirect way to this new “distribution list” by keeping up the conversation with new thoughts and ideas gathering engagement – or direct via ‘extraordinary’ offers. Just take a look at my sales statistic or metric, I summarized on the Dell Outlet account and you can evaluate your sales options.

Especially, the aviation industry has used the power of pushing their offers through this new media channel – thus uplifting their revenue figures. Some airlines like JetBlue (called “JetBlueCheeps“) and United Airlines (“twares”) offer cheap seats Twitter sales promotion programs (also for unsold tickets). The companies push their announcements via Twitter and the user -hopefully- listens to their Tweets and needs exactly the route offered.

In Germany Lufthansa has also started with sales promotions via Twitter – and obviously after this test the worldwide Twitter offering is “coming soon”.

The PRO view…
Yes, Twitter is a sales tool as there is no limit in terms of target-group, industry sector, the costs of the product or the product and service itself. Use it as a sales tool if you think your customers or your desired target-group is open-minded, loves last-minute offers or is ready to be engaged via social media.

The why for “No, it is.”
Nevertheless, the way how companies use Twitter to address their target-group with their sales promotions appears like some kind of old “watering can” marketing principle. Is this really time-to-market sales? Can this be called “targeting” which is the modern form of receiving sales promotions? One thing is for sure: Forecasting on such sales push activities is nearly impossible… the proof is in the test. But: once started, there is no way out. Sales promotions on Twitter are relying on the “hope” factor by offering an additional sales channel called “SomeTwitterAccountByOurCompany”.

And sales strategies go against the means of social media anyway. Sales philosophy is “We know what you want and here is your customized offer!” – social media is “We listen, learn and share what our customers want to buy from us!”.

From the airline examples we can learn that the offer is not just positive extra media promotion. It is limited in its sales power in a way that consumers need to be flexible and last-minute offer driven. Sounds a bit like the ebay way of selling…

So, Twitter sales promotions are relying on the “hope” factor by offering an additional sales channel called Twitter account. Some follow as they are just listening to the company or product development, some as they learn from the tweets and some as they want to share common knowledge. Not all followerrs really want to buy something. You are in good company when your company does not want to aggressively buy followers in order to go down the good old spam route.

The CON view…
No, Twitter is not a sales tool but more a customer service tool with the positive side-effect that you can sell indirect by giving good service, helping your customers and solving their problems in real-time. Don’t use it when you think your customers are bound to traditional cliches, rarely take the advantage of accepting fast shopping opportunities and don’t know what social media can do for them.

Spot On!
Generally speaking… – From a followers point of view (in this case meaning customers), there is a positive argument about Twitter sales promotions: Interested customers will follow (=read) the sales push tweet – uninterested won’t, they will ignore it. And customers don’t even have to delete the message like a spam mail. It is dying with the followers timelife stream…

The Critical question to ask are… Do we have a long-time social media strategy or do we just want to “drive” a short-time sales push? What have we done in the past to push our sales revenues? What worked out well? I am sure, if you ask yourself these questions, some more questions on your web strategy in terms of sales achievements will follow…

Am I right…?

News Update – Best of the Day

daily1Why do also small businesses need a website? The answer is easy. A recent Nielsen Online custom survey from WebVisible, Inc. shows that if somebody wants to buy a product, 92% do some research online first and then might purchase locally. So, if small businesses do not have a website, these companies are “virtually invisible to these local consumers”.

Launching a product in today’s business scenario is not the easiest effort. So, tips are always appreciated. Here are three tips I found lately that put your prospects in the center of attention. My brief summary…
1. Make it easy for prospects to find and study your new product.
Customers need to be ready – Stop convincing them that they are ready!
“Research by MarketingSherpa shows that customers now find suppliers — not the other way around — in 80 percent of b-to-b transactions. B-to-b buyers like to research, analyze, and make rational group decisions.”
2. Encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
Find VIP editors and bloggers, customers and influencers that your customers trust in.
3. Let your prospects help you figure out your new-product launch message and media mix.
The Dell Ideastorm approach… – Make the “voice-of-the-customer” design, create and promote your products. “Then, use their specific language in your advertising copy as keywords to attract their Google searches, etc.”

The viral video to Guitar Hero 5 is probably causing a lot of talks in the world…