I can still hear the words rebounding around my then caravan accommodation like an errant pinball: “The early bird gets the worm”.
It was my farmer boss trying to wake me to get to work on one of my very first jobs – a farmhand on a WA wheat farm.
And an excellent principle to operate any good business by.
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But now, many years later, the principle applies as much to the wired world we live in as the remote wheat farm back then. And possibly more so.
The difference is it now applies to a business phenomenon that was then the stuff of science fiction.
New worms and early birds
Nowadays, the worm is the business leads being generated on the various social networks by prospective customers.
The early bird is the business operator that attends to the lead before the competition does.
As we have discussed here on several occasions, social networks have now got to the point where its users are frequently putting out calls for recommendations for the supply of everything from accountants to answering services.
From groups of ordinary friends on Facebook, to CEOs on LinkedIn, terabytes of data are dedicated to the request for and recommendation of suppliers of pretty much anything at all.
Take the call I stumbled across in a Facebook business Group last week for instance.
A case study in timing
As my business primarily provides websites and services, naturally I am going to want to respond to any calls for good providers in that field.
Sure enough, last week a small business operator posted that she was looking at getting her website revamped and asked if anyone in the locality based Group of 2400-odd members have any recommendations.
Talk about red rag to a bull!
I’m pretty good at monitoring the Group but I also earn my living from billable hours to client projects. I also like to sleep at night. Therefore my attendance to social networks is necessarily intermittent.
But despite my regular attendance, by the time I’d found the call in my News Feed, no less than 16 others had recommended themselves or others as a worthy candidate.
For the record, the post in question was made at 8.34pm on Thursday. I found it and responded at 8.35am the next morning.
So overnight, when most businesses were ‘closed’, 16 people had responded to the call. People were responding as late as 12.05am ‘Thursday night’ and as early as 6.42am on the Friday.
Whilst many would consider my response time pretty good, espousing the merits of one’s capabilities at No 17 is not exactly prime position.
If you were No 17 on Google you would stand a fair chance of not being seen at all.
Not to say that the business operator would necessarily go with any of the recommendations. But if she did, there’d be a fair chance that mine was too late to get a fair hearing.
Burning business questions
For business operators – at least those who want to tap into free business leads, this scenario raises several pertinent questions:
- Are you (or a staff member) monitoring business networks at all? If so, how often?
- Are you receiving notifications of new posts?
- And how many is too many? Surely we would get nothing done if all we did was trawl social networks all day (and potentially night).
- Or do we need to allocate the monitoring of relevant social networks to a staff member or other resource?
It’s yet another dilemma social networking has raised for business operators everywhere.
What do you do and what results have you achieved?
Craig Reardon is a writer, educator and operator of independent web services firm for SMEs, The E Team.