What will US AIRWAYS do After this Twitter Disaster?

A conversation started between an individual whose flight was delayed for about an hour and US AIRWAYS on Twitter.

She tweeted this @USAirways Unhappy that 1787 sat for an hour on tarmac in CLT because overweight, resulting in over hour late arrival in PDX…

And US Airways tweeted this @ellerafter We truly dislike delays too and are very sorry your flight was affected.

Then she responded @USAirways yeah, you seem so very sorry. So sorry, in fact, that you couldn’t be bothered to address my other tweets.

And that was the beginning of the disaster because US airways tweeted this in response

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And if you want to see the NSFW image here is the link link.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want to be in the US AIRWAYS PR team right now because no apology or taking down the picture will fix this.

You have to be very creative and strategic on how to respond to a crisis like this. That is why I always say that every PR team must have a crisis communication plan handy to respond to situations like these without any delay.

They tweeted an apology saying that they are investigating the case. It’s been more than an hour and we are still waiting to hear from them. They are obviously failing their Crisis Communication 101 and to be fair, if I were on their team, I wouldn’t know what to say in reaction to this tweet.

 

How Global Economic Meltdown Affects Small-scale Businesses

downloadSmall businesses constitute a big part of any economy. In the United States, almost half of the workforce is made of small businesses’ employees. With the financial crisis that hit the entire world in 2007, small businesses, in the U.S as well as in other places around the globe, have been the most affected by the crisis. These small businesses are affected on different levels, and it has been hard for many of them to recover from the recession. The effect of this recent recession and the slow economic recovery has led small-scale businesses to either lay off many employees or to freeze the hiring process as the profits of businesses have significantly declined. As a result, the unemployment rate is growing and economic growth is almost inexistent.

According to the 2012 Economic Report of the President, small businesses have a greater dependency on bank financing than larger businesses. The number of loans that banks make to small businesses has decreased by 31% causing small businesses to struggle through this economic hardship. Even if the economy is recovering, it is still yet not enough for small businesses to fully recover. Bank of America said that they made almost $11 billion in new loans to U.S. small businesses in 2013. The bank also plans to hire 200 small business bankers this year, many on the West Coast. Although banks are starting again to give out more loans to small businesses, unemployment rate is still as high. We ended the year 2013 with an unemployment rate of 6.7%, according to the US Department of Labor.

Even if Bank of America made a significant loan to small businesses last year, it doesn’t mean that all the other large institutions are doing the same thing. The problem with small businesses getting loans is that they are mostly sole proprietorships, which means companies with a single owner who controls all business decisions. Sole proprietors often use personal savings, gifts from friends and family, and small business loans to finance their companies. It makes it more difficult for large lenders to allocate them with the money they need to run their businesses successfully.

Because the economy depends on small-scales businesses, and nearly half of the population in the U.S is employed by small-scale businesses, it is important that these businesses have all the resources they need to turn over their losses into significant profits to enable them to be successful. With small businesses taking off again, it will result into the creation of many jobs and the expansion of these businesses, and therefore, an economic growth for the country and the reduction of the unemployment rate, which in my opinion, is still through the roof.

How Social Entrepreneurship Is Shaping Africa

How Social Entrepreneurship Is Shaping Africa

Wordle-socialentrepreneurSocial entrepreneurship is what everyone is talking about in development and sustainability circles today.  While Africa is known for its entrepreneurial culture, Kenya is especially known for this culture. From people who sell goods on the street to people who have big businesses to run, all of them strive for the same thing—making their business as sustainable as possible.

According to Ashoka East Africa “social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change”.  Looking at Africa’s past, and where the continent is now headed, it’s safe to say that social entrepreneurship is the most sustainable way to social development in Africa. If this is the case for the continent, it’s even more the case for Kenya where people have proven that they can take care of themselves when the needed resources are available.

This is where Angels for Angels (A4A), a Seattle based nonprofit organization, comes in. A4A funds locally led and sustainable social projects in East Africa, including Kenya, and provides those social entrepreneurs with the financial resources they need to transform ideas into tangible actions.  They also partner with universities to teach social entrepreneurship and inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

The best way to empower future social entrepreneurs is to start teaching social entrepreneurship classes in schools. The earlier the better, they say. If students learned in school the principles of social entrepreneurship, knew that it was not only a possible but a viable path, and turned those principles into actions they could change their lives, their communities and even their countries.

A good example of this is Makerere University Business School (MUBS) who has integrated social entrepreneurship in its curriculum for students to become successful social entrepreneurs and are now actively changing their communities. The same school started the SETAFRICA (Social Entrepreneurship Transforming Africa) with the help of USAID and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to provide young social innovators across Anglophone Africa with the organizational leadership skills, mentoring, networks, and funding opportunities needed to strengthen and scale up their social ventures.

This interesting venture shouldn’t only be for Anglophone countries in Africa, but should also be the case for the remaining African countries that want to change the future of entrepreneurship in their communities.

Investing in social enterprise in Africa is one of the most successful ways to achieve sustainable development in Africa. It allows people to identify their own needs and to design projects that are serving those very needs using local resources to do so.

Bookmarking the future

Children are our future. Yet there are many kids who can’t even dream about the future because they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the right places; they don’t have what they need to be the future. Only through education can kids realize their potential, and books are a big part to any education. However, there are many kids who don’t have access to books.

Book imageIf not having books weren’t enough, when those unfortunate kids have the chance to finally read books, those books often tell a story they can’t relate to. This is especially true for children in East Africa, who starve for knowledge, yet have very limited access to books.

Mikel Samaniego, President of Angels for Angels, during a trip to Kenya and Uganda in 2010, recognized the need for a book that African kids could relate to.  He also saw the opportunity to create a story that local kids could read to learn about other cultures and places around the world. So he decided to write Joseph and the Paw Paw Tree, an empowering story that teaches kids to believe in themselves, and work hard to achieve their dreams. The story takes place in a rural African village, where Joseph lives with his father, sister, and brother. In the story Joseph’s father gives Joseph and his siblings papaya (paw paw) seeds to plant and tells them that for these seeds to turn into trees that bear fruit, “it takes hard work every day, and no matter what, you have to believe in yourself.”

“The future of Africa is education.  The first step to an education is to learn how to read.  Kids need books to learn how to read”, says Mikel who has also helped create a library with donated books in Kenya.

Joseph and the Paw Paw Tree will have a huge social impact. With each book sold, one book will be donated to a child in East Africa.  While American kids can learn about cultures far away, East African kids get a story that is relevant to their lives.

Mikel and his friends took the first edition of the book to Kenya and Uganda to see if kids over there would even like it.  And they loved it.  Now he believes that his nieces and nephews will love the book, too.  He hopes it will spur some conversations about other cultures and why the world is different at a young age, and hopefully through it all, he can make a difference.

They launched their Indiegogo campaign to raise enough money to send books to those kids in the villages of Kenya and Uganda. Books cost a lot of money, and now they need a village of support to reach their campaign goal.  It will take a village to make sure that every kid in those villages has a chance to be the future

For more information about the book and how you can make a difference in a kid’s life, check:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-coolest-children-s-book-ever

Book website: www.a4abooks.com

Manage Your Brand Strategically. It’ll Take Your Business to The Next Level

downloadWhether you are a small or big business, or a person trying to market yourself, managing your brand is one of the most important things you have to do. Strategic branding gives you a competitive advantage in whatever market you are in, or trying to enter. Because your brand is what pushes customers to choose your products/services over another company, it is very important that you carefully choose what you want your brand to be associated with.

For starters, you need to make your brand associations simple enough to be memorable in minds of your customers. Therefore, simplicity is the key. You want people to remember you, and be able to describe what you are about in less than five words. If possible, they should be able to say one word about you or your business that summarizes what you do. For example when you think or hear Volvo, the words that come to your minds are “reliability”, “safety” and “family”. Therefore, someone who is looking for a reliable car wouldn’t go far because Volvo is the answer. It should be the same for your business. However, you have to make sure that your brand associations speak to what your customers value the most. Usually, marketers choose messages that sound good, but sometimes those messages do not align with customers’ needs.  With all the resources we have online today, it is easy to find out what your customers want and need to better serve them. You could run a survey on Survey Monkey to learn about ways to serve them. Once you know what people are expecting from you, it is easy to build your brand around those expectations to make sure it speaks to customers personally.

Besides simplicity, memorability helps your brand a lot. As a business owner, you want people to remember who you are and what you do. For this reason, you need to be very careful when you describe yourself. Your brand associations should be something really clear and easy to remember, otherwise your customers will be confused. You don’t want that. In order to do so, you must often engage with your customers to remind them of you. Remember that effective branding is all about conversation and building relationships. Because of this, it is important to find tools that allow you to do both. In my opinion, social media is the perfect tool to engage into a conversation about your brand with your customers not only to give them a chance to express their feedback (both positive and negative), but also to give yourself a chance to remind them who you are and what you do. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page/account, a twitter or an Instagram presence, you need to start the conversation and continue to participate and give feedback when needed.

Your brand is your reputation, and the quality of your reputation determines if you are trustworthy or not. If you manage your brand strategically, you will keep your current customers loyal to your brand, and will attract new ones. Research shows that when two products are of equal qualities, customers choose the product which has strong brand associations.

 

 

Is Instagram The Next Big Thing? Cool Kids Say Yes

Now that everyone is on Facebook, including parents and grandparents, most kids are looking for something else that could still considered “cool” because their family members aren’t using it.  That other thing is Instagram.

Instagram is the next big trend in the social media world. Following the steps of Facebook, Instagram has become the app that all the cool kids use now. Some people would say that Facebook is still the hottest social media tool used today, but looking ahead, Instagram may have a powerful place in your marketing.

If a business wants to reach that particular cool kid demographic, there is a strong business case for Instagram. According to EverythingPR54% of Top Brands Include Instagram in their Social Strategy (for 2012) and this number will continue to increase significantly as Instagram is gains popularity from big brands and rapidly customer growth.

Nike has leveraged its presence on the social media tool by scoring more than a million followers on its Instagram page. On its page, Nike posts pictures of products and the followers do the rest–they like the picture or they comment on it. That’s free marketing and massive, instant visibility.

Not only does Instagram allow you to reach a specific niche of cool kids, but the fact that pictures and videos there can be directly shared through other social media channels like Facebook or Twitter makes it even more appealing. The social media tool becomes a one-stop shop with tremendous marketing and brand-building potential.

This social media platform works well for small businesses as well as fortune 500 companies. Success depends on how well the organization is using it. For companies selling products, Instagram is the place to showcase pictures, videos and create a buzz around them. If you use Instagram in a smart, strategic way and integrate it with your other social media accounts, you have more chances to maximize your online and mobile presence and reach more customers every day.

What Small Businesses Can Do With Social Media

I have met many start-ups and small business owners, and most of them seem to have one thing in common—they are all looking for cheap ways to advertise their products/services or to reach currents and potential customers. I understand their struggle because if I am just starting up my business and I invest all the money I have to get started, it’s obvious I have no money or little for advertisement or marketing. If you are in this situation, well, look no more. Turn to social media because it is mostly free or cheap and you will reach many people at once.

downloadSo what kind of social media can you use? what can it do for you?

First of all, there many social media sites and apps you could use. For example, if you are trying to do a commercial and have no or little money to do so, just do your short promotional video and post it on Youtube and if you are lucky, people will see your video; therefore will see that you exist or at least know what’s you’re about. But careful, though. You want to make your video as attractive (funny or interesting) as possible so it has chances to go viral. You need to make sure that the video contains all important information about your company—who you are, what services/products do you sell, your contact information, where to find you.

Another tool that can be useful is Facebook. Now with Facebook you can geo-tag your location and post an ad that will be seen by a specific niche that you choose. It is way cheaper than using conventional methods and it allows you to reach as many people as possible, plus you can decide to promote your post for a small fee. Besides that, you can still use Instagram, Twitter, foursquare etc.

There are many things that you can do with your social media. You can set up a new blog, fan page, video site, and Twitter account without paying a dime. There’s no expensive software, and you don’t have to spend money on traditional methods if this works for you. However, even though there’s a low price tag to enter the game, social media is far from free. It requires time, energy, and effort. It’s a never-ending commitment to create interesting content, listen to conversations, and respond.

Although social media seems attractive because of its low cost, it is very important that you make smart decisions about which one to use and which one is suitable for your type of business, which one gives you more visibility etc.

The only setback is that you have to be careful because if social media can help your business have more visibility and interact with customers to better serve them, it is also a dangerous tool if it is not handled correctly.

There are many things social media help you do and this article cannot cite all those things. If you are interested in learning, buy Propel: 5 ways to am up your business, a book written by my professor Whitney Keyes. It has all the information you need to know about how social media can help you achieve your business goals if you use it accordingly