Monthly Archive for August, 2009

Having grandchildren is like finding a new kind of candy

Warning: Obnoxious grandparent alert!

Whenever people used to go on and on and on about their special love for their grandchildren I was confused, because I couldn’t imagine anything greater than the love I had for my children. Now, having logged 9 years as a grandparent, I’ve come up with a way to explain this feeling:

Having grandchildren is like finding a new kind of candy. Nothing wrong with the other candy; this is just different candy.

Recently, my son and his wife had their second son, Ethan, who joins his 3 year-old brother, Daniel, in the world. These two, plus the two belonging to my daughter, Jacob and Aaron, make four grandsons. That’s right; four boys and no girls.

Make no mistake: We love our boys to a ridiculous level of obnoxiousness. Still, the pent-up demand for pink among the women-folk in this family is palpable.

My boys are so much fun. Poppy gets to take them fishing and hiking and teach them how to do other stuff that only guys think is fun (if you know what I mean, and I think you do). But I would be less than candid if I didn’t admit that I, too, would like to have a granddaughter. There is just something sweeter than candy about getting your neck hugged by a little girl.

My grandsons are affectionate, mind you. But when a little boy demonstrates his affection, it’s a lot like a mugging or being attacked by a ninja - and you’re just hoping for a glancing blow. I call it “drive-by love.”

Boys and girls sure are different. Not long ago, we had a meal with my older boys, where I was heard to say, “Aaron, don’t eat the mashed potatoes with your fingers.” And “Jacob, cut your meat; don’t bite it off.” Soon after, we visited with in-laws who have little girls about the same age as the two knuckleheads I had so recently admonished. During the meal at that gathering the two girls sat prim and proper at the table. But this time the little one admonished me with, “Uncle Jim; elbows off the table, please.” Viva la difference.

When I talk to my daughter about wanting a granddaughter, she sternly tells me to look elsewhere. And with Ethan having just arrived, do you think it’s a little early to put in my order for another try at a little girl? I’m thinking the prudent play would be to wait a few months.

At least with four grandsons I’m close to a basketball team. Plus, I now know who four of my pall bearers will be. You know me: always thinking practically.

Find social media value through your community values

This is the second of two posts about how small businesses find and stay connected to customers as the marketplace continues to evolve in the 21st century. In the previous post, I talked about creating online communities as a way for small businesses to find relevance with social media.

Going forward, connecting with prospects and customers will be less about 20th century marketing strategies and more about having at least one type of online relationship with them, including information delivered in one of the online channels like email, texting, even Twitter. And you haven’t created a true online community until members can comment on every aspect of their experience with your business.

Increasingly, prospects will turn into customers more because they’re attracted to the values of your online community than because of what you sell. Your online community values should be comprised of these element:

1. Brand elements – brand promise and brand image.
2. Quality information delivered to the community.
3. The tone of connection the business wants to set with its community. Your “tone” is how brand messages are included in information you deliver to the community, and it can be anywhere from crassly commercial to so subtle it’s almost subliminal. The “volume” of your tone will depend on your ROI patience, which in the social media universe needs to be long.

Establishing community values is a critical element of community growth not only because that’s what attracts members to connect with you, but it also causes them to encourage members of other communities to which they belong to join them in your community. Indeed, the most viral element of any online community is the feeling members have for the community values, which could range from devotion to derision.

In order to foster community longevity and quality, a business should create its own social media platform and technologies, rather than counting on public sites, like Facebook or LinkedIn. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Establish compelling community values.
2. Create an environment where communities can flourish around these values.
3. Acquire the technology that makes online community building possible.
4. Protect community values and control how the community is served, while accepting that the community founder cannot control member activity.

Ultimately, as a result of their experiences with your online community, members will turn into customers and possibly your best salespeople.

Get connected - and stay connected - with customers through online communities.

Recently, I talked about the critical component of community values on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to listen, and of course, be sure to leave your thoughts.

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