Friday, 21 September 2012

A Social Media Manifesto

What I Really Hate About Social Media
Robert Craven On Social Media
I am a great fan of social media. Honest. People have always talked and now those self-same conversations can go so much further and so much quicker. But I hate how most people use it.

So, let me draw together my list of pet hates:

I hate it when people I don’t know… send me blank friend requests
I don’t know who they are or what they do and yet they want to be my friend. They can’t even be bothered to introduce themselves. Drives me mad.

I hate it when people I don’t know… come across all matey and chatty
I am not your mate (after all I don’t recognise your name!) and I do not want to chat, so stop wasting my time.

I hate it when people… send luke-warm, insipid spam
I am fed up with messages from people I don’t know who invite me to things I am and never will be interested in. Just bog off.

I hate it when people… are over-automated
It drives me bonkers when people use a machine to pretend to be a real person that auto-responds or re-distributes material from another platform (but doesn’t do it seamlessly). Surely, as Scott Stratten says, social media isn’t about being everywhere but being great where you are.

I hate it when people... send blanket coverage articles
With no regard to the platform or group or circle, some people just bang out the same generalist/undifferentiated article to as many different people as possible. These articles are usually thinly-disguised calls to visit a website to buy a product you don’t really want. Stop it. This activity does your image no good.

I hate it when people... invite me to recommend or endorse strangers
Why would I endorse, recommend, endorse or ‘like’ you? I don’t know who you are and I am not about to invest my time figuring out who or what you are. Go away.

I hate it when people... steal

Taking someone else’s material is stealing. (See more at Content Curators Are The New Superheroes Of The Web .) It is stealing if:
  • You take content, use it and don’t add context or opinion or your own voice
  • You don’t provide attribution or a link or URL back to the original source
  • You just take a huge lump of content
  • The original author states that you cannot reproduce the material without permission and you don’t bother to get permission.

I hate it when people... waste my time

My time is my most valuable asset so please don’t waste my time and expect me to thank you for doing so.

Spam Business School
Somewhere in the Marketing Department at the Spam Business School is a doctrine of some spurious self-proclaiming internet super-guru (“look at me, I am so great, I know everything there is to know about something that is still unformed and developing and changing”).

The general ethos is:
  • Beg, steal, borrow and lie to get access to as many contact addresses as you possibly can
  • Do not care whether these people are in any way close, connected or interested in what you do
  • Grow the lists
  • Send and re-send and keep sending repeated thinly-disguised spam in the hope that you’ll get a response that justifies a return on your investment.

The alternative (and a much better one it is) is to let your reputation spread by word-of-mouth. Deliver legendary service and have the respect and belief in your clients that they will recognise your brand as having some integrity and that they will spread the word about you. There is a place for occasional ‘broadcasting’ to an opt-in list, but that is very different from endless spam.

The clue about social media and social business is in the common word, social. Social media may have been hijacked by the scurrilous double-glazing sales-types. It has also been hijacked by the big brands who see it as an effective (=cheap = good return on investment) route to market. For most of us, however, social media is about ENGAGEMENT and everything that entails. Faux engagement will be seen for what it is.

My Social Media Manifesto:
Do not:
  • send blank friend requests
  • come across all matey and chatty
  • send luke-warm, insipid spam
  • get over-automated
  • invite people to recommend or endorse strangers
  • steal
  • waste my time.

Mastermind Results - 2012

While I do not want to write a piece of blatant self-publicity, I do want to share some of the results we have had from working with Mastermind groups. People always ask how these groups do so it seemed appropriate to try to ‘fill in some of the blanks’.

Mastermind groups are pretty trendy right now. The phrase ‘mastermind’ covers everything from a bunch of people talking around a table to highly structured and long term programmes.

Believe it or not, I have been running masterminds since 1995 and they have mostly been of the latter variety – relatively structured, relatively long-term.

While the benefits listed will vary from delegate to delegate, they usually include some combination of “achieve their goals faster”, “be part of a club that understands them”, where they can “share their dreams and their fears”, where they can “learn from the expert”, where they are “working with other people facing similar challenges”. 

Every person’s reason for signing up is different. The soft, less measurable benefits most often quoted are focus, direction, motivation and accountability. But what of the hard measurables?

This year’s results
What is not in dispute is the results. The 2012 group has just come to a close and the real results are just starting to flow in: savings of £24k from applying one idea, additional savings of another £25k from another idea… for one business. Potentially doubling turnover for another. Cumulative results make little sense right now because some businesses have made tremendous short-term progress while others will see the real bottom line benefits next year.

Maybe it is more useful to step back and look at the longer term.

Results: in the long run
To check out the long-run effects, I have just traced a series of mastermind clients from some ten years ago. It makes fascinating reading.

Some harder numbers:
I chose to chase up a typical group of entrepreneur and business owners that I had worked with in 2001. The eight businesses had an average turnover of £1.2million; they varied between £50k and £3m turnovers. They worked with me over the year, coming together in what would now be called a Mastermind Group, to explore and develop their businesses. And what became of them?

Well, the results were almost too good to be true (but I think I can explain that). Depending on how you measure "current business activity" (because of acquisitions, mergers etc), the average £1.2m p.a. turnover is now between £3.5m and £13m.

All are still trading in one form or another. They have gone on to achieve:
• Sales in excess of £500 million 
• One business sold for in excess of £20million
• One business the subject of a full management buy-out in excess of £10million
• One business owner able to retire aged 42 and hand over the business to a management team.

On average, the long-term performance of these businesses has more than outperformed the market.

However, the stats do not tell the whole story.

In the interests of honesty we are not doing what the scientists call a fair test.

In reality, the businesses may have blossomed with or without the programme.

Maybe the programme just attracts high-performers. We need to be a little careful when bandying around these statistics.

Anyhow, what we can say is that those who choose to attend such programmes achieve above-average performance.

So, the question is:
Do you want to be part of that crowd?

You can find out more at

Final Thoughts
The return on investment for the latest programme is running well in excess of 100%.  The actual number appears to be considerably larger! There aren’t many programmes that offer that!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Schools in Zambia and Botswana - African Schools Charity

I will be brief as possible – this blog is partially for those people who kindly donated to our African Schools event to raise money specifically for schools we visited in February.

Lethlakeng Primary School is two hours from Gaborone (1,000 kids, 18 teachers) 

- with the kind support of the local British Council we supplied Lethlakeng with internet access and a computer... a partnership was set up with Swainswick Primary in Bath.

Chainda Community School is an hour outside Lusaka (1500 kids, 28 teachers, 14 classrooms, no electricity, water from a well) 

– we took football kits, and a donation to buy solar panels so that they can run a computer (as well as other basic things you can do with power). Again this is with help from the local British Council.

As you can see, the kids and staff were delighted to receive football kits, balls etc that we took out for them.

The welcome we received was humbling. So much excitement for things that we, in the UK, take for granted.

The school partnerships give schools in UK and in Zambia/Botswana the opportunity to exchange ideas, culture, materials, stories and there is a possibility of exchange visits!

Where does the money from my books go? African Schools Charity

When I sell books, the proceeds go towards the schools mentioned in the previous blog Schools in Zambia and Botswana

However, books sold on my last trip to Zambia were donated to a ‘good cause’. Daisy at the British Council found us that good cause…

The Jack Cacup Community School in a township/compound 30 minutes from the centre of Lusaka. 500 kids (80% have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS), most do their chores before walking up to 6 Km to school where there are two classrooms, 15 foot by 15 foot... a small office 15' by 8' which is used as a classroom. Just do the maths…

Also… No water. No electricity. No Toilets. Voluntary staff.

So, our funds/your contributions, paid for concrete floors to replace the mud/dirt/dust the kids had sat on before. Thank you.

The school put on a great show for us – ex-pupils set up the Sober Youth Entertainment Club to use theatre to teach the dangers of HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, child abuse, corruption. Very powerful yet full of humour.

I was interviewed by Kidzkameraz – four young girls (10-12 years old?) with the ambition to become journalists. Our interview will be broadcast on Zambian TV on Saturday.

A great teaching team inspires the kids to be ambitious and look forward to their future! Wiseman Banda, the head, is one of the world's unsung heroes.

Kidzkameraz – blog of the journalist children at Jack Cecup SchoolTravellers Worldwide - the charity where all the money goes to the recipients - and a good description of the school.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Mastermind Experts Live on Air Google + Hangout: Tuesday at 10

Mastermind groups have been shown to dramatically increase profits, efficiency and speed of growth time and time again.

All of the most successful people in the world are members of mastermind groups for that reason. 

The connections, resources and support you tap into when you’re involved in a mastermind group are hugely powerful, but unfortunately many people find the costs associated with a good quality group beyond their means.

I’ve got some great news.

On 11th September my good friend Paula MacArthur, founder of The Mastermind Agency, is hosting an Expert Live on Air Google + Hangout during which she will be online with 10 of the UK’s leading business growth experts. 

Each of them will be sharing the ONE strategy that they believe every business owner should be using in their business in order to grow dramatically in the final quarter of 2012. 

It’s not often you get so many experts of this calibre in a ‘room’ together but Paula has made it happen.
Not only that but for the 10 weeks after the Hangout, Paula will also send you resources to help you to implement the strategies discussed (which should take you up to Christmas holidays)! 

To get on the Hangout simply visit this link and enter your name and email address so Paula can let you know where you need to be and when.

This is one call you really don’t want to miss.

Find out more about the Hangout and who some of the experts on the line will be by clicking here 

P.S. The people you surround yourself with have a huge impact on your bottom line. This is your chance to surround yourself with 10 world class experts and get access to information that others pay £thousands each year for! Don’t waste it!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Santander, Santander Breakthrough

Has anyone any experience (or perceptions) of Santander Business Banking and/or their Breakthrough Programme? 

Comments below or by DM or email 
(I have no connection - just curious...)