How to communicate in a crisis in the age of social media. Web Worker Daily sets up a blueprint for handing crisis communication--from the Domino's fiasco to a person-to-person flame war in 8 easy steps. Start by using Google Alerts or Twilert (or other "digital listening posts") to hear what people are saying about you. Review context before responding. Address issues promptly. Acknowledge any issues or emotions the people who are talking about your company may have. For example, "I understand you're frustrated." Then, without overthinking it, be open, fix the problem, and tell your story with updates that lets anyone paying attention see that something is being done.
Supreme Court to Rule on Business Method Patents The New York Times reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on what kinds of business methods may be patented. Last year, an appeals court said that only business methods tied to a device or that physically transformed something into something else, could be patented. (In doing so, the court rejected a patent application from two entrepreneurs seeking to patent "a method of hedging risks in the sale of commodities.) The decision was hailed by many entrepreneurs, like Plenty of Fish founder Markus Frind, who've argued that business method patents are basically a way for patent trolls to unfairly target successful companies. As Inc.'s Kelly Faircloth wrote in February, if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court's decision, it would mean that many financial services, software, and biotech patents would be invalidated. (Via Business Insider.)
If at first you don't succeed... Don't quit. That's the advice Seattle entrepreneur and angel investor Andy Liu gives to struggling start-ups on his blog, Inspired Startup. Liu walks disenchanted entrepreneurs through the five most common reasons for quitting their business, then offers some words of wisdom to keep them from throwing in the towel. If Liu's pep talk isn't enough to motivate you, here's a look at 30 of the smartest business moves made by successful entrepreneurs that helped them turn their businesses around.
Microsoft's next big move. Last week it was internet search with Bing. This week it's social networking and live TV. Microsoft has announced that its new Xbox 360 will allow users to access their Facebook profiles, post and read tweets on Twitter, and, in Britain, watch live television. The partnership with the British satellite television provider Sky, gives Microsoft "a back door into the television market," The New York Times reports. No word yet on whether any American television companies are ready to follow Sky's lead. Over at TechCrunch, MG Siegler thinks Microsoft "has some more tricks up its sleeve."
The new rules of advertising. Say "so long" to old-school brand indicators such as Q scores. "What is important now is the concept of being the most-linked brand -- building brands through multiple, relevant, consumer engagements -- often on a smaller scale," writes Wayne Arnold, Advertising Age columnist and U.S. CEO of the global digital marketing agency Profero. The one-way yelling match that once was American advertising has transformed along the same lines -- not surprisingly -- as the media has. Chasing high Q scores in the name of brand-awareness is giving way to interactive dialogue through such media as Twitter, Facebook, and even old-fashioned interpersonal interaction. Thinking about bringing your brand onto Twitter? Check out Inc. Technology's dos and don'ts here.
Third-place CBS looking for web love. CBS News's 2006 hire of Katie Couric hasn't catapulted the network out of its No. 3 position behind NBC and ABC, but it's hoping a new partnership with the live video start-up Ustream.com can help it make inroads online, according to the New York Times. CBS already streams the "Evening News" and some other features on CBSNEWS.com, but Ustream users will be able to chat alongside the live video and embed the player on whatever sites they choose. The Times characterizes the move as a clear attempt to attract a younger audience. Our take: it's all about the content.
Tight purse strings are a positive. Now more than ever -- well, at least since 1995 -- Americans are holding tight to their paychecks, but it's a trend the Wall Street Journal says could actually strengthen the economy in the long run. Savvy business owners, like you, know it's profitable to be thrifty, but just how thrifty are you? Take the Inc.com quiz.
A bit more for the box. For any e-commerce company, what you include in the box alongside your product might be just as important to future sales as the product itself, writes Biz Crusader's John Park, managing director and founder of Eight Horses, an Irvine, California-based marketing agency. Park provides seven "right items" to put in the package, including promotional coupons and frequent user VIP access.
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