Shaking Hands with Media Fragmentation

In our post, Media Fragmentation – What's a Company To Do?, we posed a version of this question:

In an age of media fragmentation, when the marketplace no longer congregates conveniently in the Roman Forum or in front of a broadcast television show to receive the information we want it to have about our company's products and services, but, instead, travels to distant "lands" both online and off, whenever and wherever it wants,  how do we let our potential customers know about what we're offering in case they might want to buy it?

We offered this answer:

Be everywhere.

Be everywhere?

Can a company really "Be everywhere" consistently and effectively? if we're talking about high-impact companies – small companies with extraordinary revenue growth plus expanding employment – possibly.  For start-ups or small companies on the way to high-impact status?  Probably not.

And yet…

We can offer a one-year case study on a start-up company's efforts to address media fragmentation and "Be everywhere" – or as close as it could get – to reach its target market.

The case study subject?  Handshake 2.0.

This site launched in July, 2008.  As a business news and public relations site, it serves as an information distribution channel for the clients of its founding company, Handshake Media, Incorporated, and an information source for its audience.  (Handshake 2.0 could be added as #31 on Ken Ray's list of 30 consumers' choices for media.)

From a theater full of empty seats, the site now has an audience of thousands

How did we do that?  Where we "everywhere"?  No.  But when a fundamental business principle is "It's who you know," and a fundamental online business principle is "It's still who you know," we did our best to be as many places as possible, reaching out a handshake of greeting to those who might want to know us and to whom we wanted to know.

Here's where we extend a handshake from Handshake 2.0.

Blogs

Handshake 2.0
Anne Giles Clelland's founder's/CEO blog

Social Media / Digital Media

Handshake 2.0 on Facebook
Handshake 2.0 on Twitter
Handshake 2.0 on TwitPic
Handshake 2.0 on FriendFeed
Handshake 2.0 on YouTube
Handshake 2.0 on SlideShare
Handshake 2.0's RSS feed subscription
Handshake 2.0's AddThis link

Print

Founder Anne Giles Clelland writes a monthly workplace advice column, "Getting a Grip," for the business news publication Valley Business FRONT.  After the column appears in print, it's posted on Handshake 2.0.

Distribution Services

We used the online news and press release distribution service PRWeb for Business News and Public Relations Site Handshake 2.0 Turns 1.0, 7/23/09, and Rackspace Tech Showcase to be featured on Handshake 2.0, 7/23/09.

Sponsorships

Handshake 2.0 is a sponsor of client VT KnowledgeWorks and an organizer and sponsor of the New River Valley Triathlon.  Our logo appears on those sites, and our brand name appears with links in electronic publications and print publications.

Media Fragmentation – What’s a Company to Do?

When I was growing up in Blacksburg, Virginia in the 1970s, all a company had to do to reach the entire market of the town’s 10,000 residents was put an ad in the Blacksburg High School football program and a radio spot on WJJJ.  If we weren’t at the game, we were listening to it.

I first heard the term "media fragmentation" from Ken Ray of AT&T.  During his Entrepreneurial Summit address - Optimizing Customer Acquisition in a World of Media Fragmentation (.pdf) - Ray presented this slide.

 Ken Ray on Optimizing Customer Acquisition in a World of Media Fragmentation

According to Ray, the market of potential customers and clients had 6 information channels from which to gain information about a company's product or service in 1966.  By 2006, that number had increased by 500% to 30 channels.

In a comScore product release, Dr. Magid Abraham, President and CEO of comScore, neatly defines the "increasingly complex digital media landscape" and its context:  "The past few years have seen the rise of global Internet markets, the emergence of new distribution platforms, and a substantial increase in media fragmentation and niche audiences."

In an "increasingly complex digital media landscape," what's a company to do to reach potential customers when, instead of being in a few places – at the game or listening to it – they're everywhere?

Be everywhere.

Be everywhere?

Handshake 2.0 Turns 1.0 Today!

Fireworks photographs by Z. Kelly Queijo

For one year of joy and excitement – from our launch on July 28, 2008, to today, July 28, 2009 – Handshake 2.0 gives grateful thanks to its clients, visitors, partners, supporters, advisors, writers, interns, commenters…O, the number of people who helped create something from nothing!  In the world of "It's still who you know," we are so glad to know you!  Thank you, thank you!

***

"I'm thrilled to be able to say 'Happy 1st Birthday' to Handshake 2.0!  What a novel concept – a business that takes the time to focus and extol the value of other local businesses in the New River Valley!  Everyone at Handshake 2.0 is focused night and day on that one central idea, and everyone in the New River Valley – not just the business community – is better for it.  A very enthusiastic high-five to the Handshake folks, and best wishes for many more to come!"
Jeremy Hart, Coldwell Banker, Townside, NRVLiving.com

"I've been working with Handshake 2.0 for about five months.  I've know Anne Clelland for much longer and admired her drive and enthusiasm, but I did not relate what she did with social media and public relations to my business.  Later, over lunch one day we discussed my business and she offered, 'Let's just try HandShake 2.0 for a month or two for your business.' I'm glad I did.  I've made contacts in my industry I would not have made, there is more 'churn' in the market relative to our service, and our website traffic is up 14%.  Thanks H20!"
Barry Welch, Internet Databases, FurnishWEB

"Handshake 2.0 has been like a partner to 88Owls and a lot of the PR we have received has been largely due to their passion for helping companies, their knowledge of social media, and their exceptional writing skill.  Handshake 2.0 is a stand out."
Allan Tsang, 88Owls

"Where do I go to stay up-to-date on local and regional news? Handshake 2.0, of course! Congratulations on a truly successful year, Anne. I know I speak on behalf of many when I say you have branded Handshake 2.0 as THE GO-TO website showcasing the successes, talent and news of the region."
Lindsey Eversole, VT KnowledgeWorks

"I do enjoy Handshake and promote the site to folks throughout the region as the place to go for the latest in technology blogs.  You are a welcome dynamo in our area."
Sam English, CIE Partners

"Depending one whose statistics you look at, between 20% and 90% of businesses fail in the first year.  Wherever the actual number is, there’s no denying it is tough to survive the first year, and Handshake 2.0’s passing this mark is a testament to both the relevance of its content and the vision and persistence of its founder. The need for a thoughtful Web 2.0 presence is of growing importance in today’s marketplace, as customers and users demand more interaction and updated, useful information.  While helping its customers navigate this new world, Handshake 2.0 also manages to capture a timeless truth – that even in the Web 2.0 environment, it is the relationship that is of ultimate importance.  This is where Handshake 2.0 excels, and why it has succeeded."
Ken Maready, Venture Counsel

"If not for Handshake2.0, I would never have met Tyson Daniel of LimbGear!"
Wade Hammes, FITnoke, fiveFORTY Marketing and Design Group

"Congratulations on year one. You’re certainly a mover and 'shaker.'"
Tom FieldValley Business FRONT

"Anne's vision – every business blogs – has the potential to transform our community by creating a sticky online presence, while reinforcing the offline image of our area being the most wired small community in the U.S. Her site is an example of a hybrid media company equivalent to a local version of TechCrunch.com, a Chamber of Commerce, and the newspaper. She is our region's technology reporter and Handshake 2.0 is the community where it all comes together.”
Stuart Mease, host of Connecting People in the RNR, the Handshake 2.0 video series

"In only a year, Handshake 2.0 has established itself as a first-class blog, ranked in the top 0.3% of blogs tracked by Technorati. In addition, Anne Clelland is now the acknowledged regional expert on social media. Very few start-ups achieve that level of market success in their first year."
Jim Flowers, VT KnowledgeWorks

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Photo credit: Z. Kelly Queijo. Camera:  Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 on loan to blogger Z. Kelly Queijo

Hiring Online Using Twitter – A Progress Report

From Anne Clelland:

I seek a part-time virtual assistant for Handshake 2.0.

I applied to place job openings with Hokies4Hire in early April, was accepted, and added the virtual assistant's position.  I received one e-mail application in about a week.  While the position ultimately wasn't filled, the candidate's excellent clarifying questions resulted in me creating a page on Handshake 2.0 with a complete job description.

Having been overwhelmed by a hundred or more e-mail replies to queries using Peter Shankman's Help a Reporter Out – HARO service, I hesitated to use my Twitter account to advertise the job opening.  I feared the response would backlog my inbox to needing a billion virtual assistants rather than one.

Yet the fundamental business principle of "It's who you know" underpins the power of Twitter.  Someone who knows me, might know someone, who knows someone, who wants to be a virtual assistant.

On April 13, I posted this update:

"Blacksburg-based, part-time, virtual assistant sought for Handshake 2.0. Details: http://tinyurl.com/db82u3"

On April 15, I received an e-mail application.  While the position ultimately wasn't filled, the candidate's questions again helped me write a more specific job description.

Since Handshake 2.0 focuses on a regional economy, I prefer a candidate who is regionally-based.  I currently have 299 unanswered e-mails in my inbox (probably half of them still lingering from HARO).  I need an assistant located anywhere. 

I posted this tweet on April 22:

"Virtual assistant position open with Handshake 2.0. Very flexible hours, i.e. on your schedule, part-time http://tinyurl.com/db82u3"

According to Twitter search, 4 people re-tweeted it.  To use Z. Kelly Queijo's Twitter Power 5K formula, if I add up their followers, plus mine, the information from my original tweet appeared in the Twitter streams of over 5500 Twitter followers. 

The limits of the power of Twitter are the limits of human interactions:  You can't make me read or act on your tweet.  I choose.  And I can't make you read or act on mine.

Good.  I respect and cherish the limits of the power of Twitter.

I received one e-mail reply, without a résumé.  Our brief correspondence included from the candidate, "Bring it on!", which I did find amusing.  Still haven't received that résumé.

What's a gal with 299 unread e-mails – now 325 – to do?

Continue to experiment with the use of social media for business purposes.

To Twitter, I'll add a blog post.

Here's the link to the page describing the position for a Virtual Assistant with Handshake 2.0.  I've copied and pasted the text below.  As soon as I post this, I'll tweet it.  I'll share what happens – in a blog post on Handshake 2.0, on Twitter, maybe Facebook…

***

Virtual Assistant for Handshake 2.0

Job Description

Ideally, you are located in the New River Valley of Virginia so you're familiar with our locale and clientele.

You are skilled at working online and one of your strengths is checking off items on a to-do list or task list. You are Internet savvy, learn online applications easily, and can write well enough to document your work and progress. You have your own Internet connection, can work at your own location on your own schedule, and can still meet deadlines. 

You operate as an independent contractor, track your hours, and invoice Handshake 2.0 at the end of each month.  You are open to submitting your address and Social Security Number, SSN, or Employer Identification Number, EIN, to our accounting firm, Hodges, Jones and Mabry.  (Once a contractor is paid over $300, a tax statement is issued and a report made to the IRS of your earnings.  Hodges, Jones and Mabry would send you that form at the beginning of 2010 for your 2009 tax return.)
 
You have a complete LinkedIn profile or are open to establishing one via invitation from Handshake 2.0.  (This is one of the ways businesses and professionals establish credible identity online, a rough equivalent to Facebook for biz.  Here's an example from Handshake 2.0's Anne Giles Clelland.)

After one month of a mutually beneficial work relationship, you will be listed as a team member on Handshake 2.0's About Page with a link to your LinkedIn URL.

Wage

$10 per hour, maximum of 5 hours per week

Qualifications

Self-awareness. Self-discipline. If you have great ideas and love to initiate new projects, or need to work with a team or to be supervised to complete tasks, please don't apply for this job. We'll have other jobs for you later. We're a fast-paced, high-tech start-up and, right now, we need people who can execute task lists unsupervised. 

How It Works

You receive a series of e-mails, each containing a specific task with a deadline, always with at least a 24-hour lead time.  You work on each task at your own pace, complete the task, and reply to the e-mail to let the sender know the task has been completed.  You keep a list of the tasks, track the time you spend on each task, and use that to document your monthly invoice.  Regardless of the state of items on the task list, you keep connected to the people and the process by e-mailing a progress update every 48 hours.

On the Current To-Do List

  • Hourly wages for up to 3 hours for you to train yourself to gain a beginning level of proficiency with TypePad, particularly how to link text to other sites.
  • Find answers to questions online with either original or primary sources, and/or credible, authoritative secondary sources with links to verify the data. 
  • Example question #1:  Find a link that verifies that Oprah had a Buddhist monk on her TV show who said something like, “On my deathbed, I won’t think, 'I wish I had worked harder' or 'I wish I had made more money.'  I’ll think, 'Did I love well?  Was I well-loved?'"

  • Example question #2:  Find 3 local (New River Valley, Virginia) companies/individuals who can take single musical compositions, each burned onto a CD, and turn those compositions into single mp3 files.  Provide prices for each, and rank the three providers in your order of recommendation.
  • Much of the data you will seek online will be statistics to support or refute business-related assertions or theories.
  • Hourly wages for up to 3 hours for you to train yourself (including approximately 1 1/2 hours of online training via video) to gain a beginning level of proficiency with AttaainCI,  particularly how to set up e-mail alerts and how to derive keyword lists for companies in different industries.
  • Write a few sentences or a paragraph answering, explaining, or describing an online text selection, an image, or a video.
  • Be open to serendipitously finding information related to tasks on the to-do list and be open to suggesting it.
  • Check new blog posts, make sure the links work (if you catch any typos, reporting them would be great, but it's not part of the job).
  • Upload specified images to clients' business Facebook pages – for example VT KnowledgeWorks.

Application Instructions

  1. Review the site and see if our mission matches yours.
  2. Find an answer to Example question #1.
  3. Send us an e-mail – [email protected] – with an answer to Example question #1 and a résumé attached. 
  4. In the body of the e-mail, pitch us on what you can do for us.

Thank you for your interest!

Twitter Power 5K

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

On Monday, April 20, 2009, a handful of people posted tweets and retweets (RT) in reference to an article I wrote for the Blue Ridge Business Journal about Twitter (Twitter This: the litest, lowest-fat, zero-calorie, fastest-growing form of communication in cyberspace).

I captured those tweets and recorded the number of followers of each person in parentheses:

furnishweb: Nice article from @zkellyq with good explanation on how twitter's viral nature works. Thanks. http://tinyurl.com/cykz82  (38)

edupreneur: @zkellyq Nice piece on Twitter in the Blue Ridge Business Journal! (1,588)

handshake20: RT @mailtrust RT @cnouri Blue Ridge Biz Jrnl article by @zkellyq on Twitter w/ real world examples (including @mailtrust) http://is.gd/txNH  (242)

handshake20: "Twitter This" in Blue Ridge Business Journal by @zkellyq http://tinyurl.com/cykz82

mailtrust: RT @cnouri: Blue Ridge Biz Journal article by @zkellyq on power of Twitter w/ real world examples (including @mailtrust) http://is.gd/txNH  (1,998)

cnouri: Great article in Blue Ridge Biz Journal by @zkellyq on power of Twitter w/ real world examples (including @mailtrust) http://is.gd/txNH  (1,048)

If every follower for each unique Twitter ID listed above were to click and read “Twitter This,” the article would have been read by a possible 4,914 people.

Add to that the 123 followers I had at the beginning of the week, and the number becomes 5,037.

Of course, some overlap among the tweeters and followers listed above exists, but even if that number amounted to 10% of the total, a significant number of people could have been reached within 24 hours of the first message posted.

I've received comments from readers saying they now “get it” when it comes to understanding the power of Twitter.

My numbers are small (but growing) compared to those of seasoned, power users of Twitter as a viral marketing tool.  However, the value of potentially increasing my readership by several thousand means a great deal to me as a writer and continues only to reinforce the strength and reach of Twitter Power.

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Z. Kelly Queijo, writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.  You can follow her on Twitter, @zkellyq.