How NOT to engage in Social Media Marketing

I’m always interested to see how businesses creatively use Facebook and Twitter for promotion.  I also cringe when someone just doesn’t get it.

I recently took a painting class at a great place in North Austin called ‘Painting with a Twist.’  They list a different painting every day on their website and you decide which day to take the class based on the painting you want to paint.

When I arrived, I received a blank canvas and a workstation with paints and brushes already set up, then was walked through step by step on how to pencil and paint today’s painting.  Food and drinks are welcome which makes it less of a class and more of a social outing.  By the end I had a surprisingly great looking acrylic painting to take home with me.

But then…

I received no less than 6 Facebook friend requests from the various employees that work at the branch.  One of the employee’s names was ‘Kristin Paintingwithatwist.’  Naturally I declined all of the invites as they trickled in two at a time throughout the week.  Then the manager whom I had already rejected decided to friend me again…

What is the reason for such an intrusion into my life?  They claim it was to tag me in pictures of the class, but six different people need to friend me for that?  I imagine their motive was probably to blast out notices on a regular basis to take more classes.  With six people that would clog my news feed quite nicely…

Why do businesses so easily forget what it’s like to be on the other end?  In every other aspect of life they are the buyer and want to be treated in a certain manner.  So why do they ignore that knowledge when they are the seller?


Solutions create new problems

We’ve recently rolled out a new billing system at as we prepare to scale with new products.  The previous problem was our licenses were sold by the year…every year.  Each month, in addition to selling new business, I would have to call up each customer that purchased last year and recollect their credit card information.  This slowly became an issue as we grew, semi-forcing us to plateau in sales.

We’ve recently launched a subscription billing system that allows us to auto bill a card every month, quarter or year.  This was a huge boon to sales as smaller customers were able to more easily consume a $75 a month fee vs a $900 a year fee.  The granularity also allowed us to track so many more things that give us better visibility into the business.

As I’ve learned, every step forward inadvertently creates a half a step back.  Now that we are taking cards monthly, we are seeing various credit card issues several times a week.  Someone changes cards, or their card expires, or is generally declined, or changes their address, or any number of 33 things on this list.  Sometimes it’s an issue on our end and we simply have to run the card again.  Creating some extra automation to notify customers of these issues as they happen will take care of most of these before we need to be aware of them.  

It’s important to be aware that any solution may come with a few unknown packaged problems.  When a solution is rolled out the work isn’t over, be flexible enough to tackle the new issues as they arise or the solution may be worse than the original problem.

Sushi 101

This past weekend I took a Sushi making class with my friend Bryan Yeung while visiting San Francisco. First things first, sushi is HARD work. Bryan was prepping me about the importance of knife technique and such before class and I mainly tuned out figuring this would be easy…it’s not.

First stop for us was the market to pick up the fish and other ingredients. I learned about how to pick out fish, what to look for and such. Then we headed to the offices of a startup called Foodzie(an Etsy for artisan foods) for class.  Eight others were ready and waiting for us to take the class which they found through a site called which lets people find classes on topics they may be interested in.  Kind of (un)community college courses.

The first hour was all about prep work. Bryan stressed knife technique, knife safety and how to anchor your cutting board properly…basically so we didn’t inadvertently make a human finger crunch roll. I still managed to cut myself two minutes into dicing some green onions.

The next hour consisted of cooking the sticky rice(not that difficult with a rice cooker) and more knife technique while cutting vegetables and fish. If you haven’t picked up on this yet, sushi is mostly about proper knife work and takes years to master. I found this is no joke, there is a very specific way to successfully cut a fish vs a green onion or a sushi roll vs a cucumber.

The rest of the class focused on how to make various types of rolls and sampling different kinds of fish.

The main things I took from the class were that great sushi consists of great ingredients, great knife work, and a sushi chef that has spent years perfecting his technique and the balance of flavor and presentation. Also, that if I walk into a great sushi restaurant and order a spicy tuna roll then drown it in soy sauce I might as well take the extra time to stomp on the sushi chef’s heart a bit.


Honey vs Vinegar

On a daily basis, we are always interacting with people, giving and taking information.  Sometimes you are the one requesting assistance and sometimes you are the one providing assistance.  I’ve always heard from a family friend that ‘You attract more bees with Honey than with Vinegar.’  I always try to think back to that saying when i’m talking to anyone I need something from, whether you’re talking to someone at an airline, a customer service rep, etc.  My view is that if you treat them well, they will do everything in their power to treat you well.

My hypothesis is further strengthened most days when i’m on the other end (as the vendor) and I have an unreasonable person on the line.  When that happens, I do my best to swallow my pride and help said individual with their issue.  That’s where my dealings end and I do my best not to engage with the person again unless they contact me.

On the other hand, when I have the pleasure to deal with someone who is cheery, patient and understanding, I do my best to go above and beyond the call of duty to make that person’s experience the best that it can be.  I even find myself following up with the person for no other reason than to make sure they’re not having any other issues and to say hi.

The point is, you can always expect to receive the tone in which you are giving to the other person, so be nice.


Estimate the Cost of Wasteful Meetings with MEETorDIE


This site estimates what the cost of a meeting is based on the employees present and what industry your company is in. While I don’t believe all meetings are wasteful, I believe a majority of them are. This is a super cool way of seeing if you are being efficient with that time spent and if a particular meeting is actually worth having.