Another Social Economy

Welcome to Google Local Shopping

This year, 46% of retail sales will be influenced by the web – but more than 90% of total retail transactions will occur in-store, from small neighborhood boutiques to national chains *. No matter where our users are shopping, we want to help them find your products.

Google Product Search

Google Product Search
Google Product Search

OMG this is amazing. I’m now competing with Google!

Just when I was killing myself with how to market AnotherSocialEconomy, I find this beta service from Google. Do you know what that means? Yes, Google already has all the eyeballs in the universe and yes, they could blow me out of the water at will.

But what that also means is that I no longer have to worry about finding my target audience. You see AnotherSocialEconomy brings retailers’ available supply to consumers’ demand. Pretty vague, eh? Try finding a good mix of AdWords keywords for a local buying network like that. It’s nuts. More importantly, it’s hugely expensive. Most importantly, customer cost of acquisition is astronomical.

With Google out there now, all I have to do is set my Google Alerts and other social media listening tools to “Google Local Shopping” and “Google Product Search”.  I could follow their Buzz  in the wake of their Wave & target my pitches.

For Starters

Not being a Merchant, I highly doubt I’ll ever manage to infiltrate their beta service. No matter. There’s plenty of others out there willing to share their experiences and opinions, such as, Google Local Shopping Tells Customers You Have It In StockGoogle’s Local Shopping Feature Now Open to Small Businesses and Google Local Shopping: cool new tool |

And that’s just cherry-picking. Plenty for me to research & plenty for me to post comments on.

Details… details… details…

As Lisa Barone says about Google Local Shopping:

It does seem like a small amount of work to get listed; however, anything you can do to make your products more available and searchable is a good thing.

AnotherSocialEconomy’s barrier for adoption is an email account and optionally, a modern browser with an Internet connection. That’s it! No multiple Merchant Accounts. As a matter of fact, registered Retail Sales Associates could also use their Twitter account / text messaging (SMS), Jabber Instant Messaging (IM) – like Google Talk, as well as, an Androida app. Basically, anyone with a smartphone is literally in business. There’s no XML data feeds to set up. No inventories to maintain.

Just details? Maybe, but the feedback I’ve gotten so far is that small/medium businesses (SMB) are living on smaller and smaller margins.  So the fewer details, the less investment in the service, the greater the return on investment. And vice versa.

AnotherSocialEconomy is not free

Consumers pay a token fee for requesting goods/services – Demand. And Retailers pay a token fee, as well, for proposing their Supply. Why? Well for starters, we hope to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio. Less noise going to the Retailers, means higher quality sales leads. Higher quality sales leads means higher quality Proposals going back to the Consumers. Higher quality Proposals, results in greater probability of closing sales.

But wait there’s more…

Ok, so AnotherSocialEconomy isn’t free. But it is another social economy. That means that it shares with its community members through its the Influencer, Reseller and Referrer programs.

Stay tuned

Be sure to come back & visit as I ride in the wake of Google’s Local Shopping wave trying my best to compare our competing services. Please feel free to share your own experiences, opinions and comparative thoughts.


Maybe it’s time that there be a (social software) service that’s only for kids – Social Software in Schools

Maybe it’s time that there be a service that’s only for kids.

Jason Calacanis at 1:13:29 into TWiST #50 Anniversary Show

Lon Harris, Creative Director at ThisWeekIn brought up an interesting story on Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, who sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning asking parents to help him get all of his students off social networks and keep careful track of their text messages.

“Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today! …”

— As covered by New Jersey Principal Asks Parents To Ban Facebook, Social Networking, Text Messaging –

His basic concern is about bullying & how these social sites empower cyber-bullying. In response, Jason & Lon go on about how to deal with children, the Internet & even offer a few novel solutions for the car / auto-insurance industry. (I love the Key one, myself.) But, my favorite prosposed solution was Jason’s at 1:13:29 into the show:

Maybe it’s time that there be a service that’s only for kids… I think maybe that’s the solution

In all fairness, Jason doesn’t know about but I thank him for the words of encouragement, again!

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Startup Life Twetailer

My First Cold Call Demo Pitch and Are All Retail Sales Associates Like This?

Man I told you… my day is, I come to work, I get paid, I go home. You think I want to do this all my life?

– Retailer Sales Associate (Let’s call him Trevor)

a teenage girl with a bored look twisting her hair
Like I care?


Over the past few posts, I’ve spent some time describing my Social Software in Schools project, which has been an absolute blast & has yeilded some surprising results. (But that’ll be another post.) However, I also spend my time on my true start-up – twetailer. Without going into much detail here, I’ll just put things in context by defining it as:

Twetailer: Brokering Consumer Demand with local Retailers’ available Supply – via tweets, for f(r)ee.

Prior to heading off to pitch a potential business partner, I decided to try out my routine on an unsuspecting Retail Sales Associate who I thought fit our personna – young, tech savy, looking for an easier way to get things done. My pitch demos how consumers Google for product reviews, make a decision, then search for a local retailer to make the sale. Part of the demo, demonstrates how local business directories / search engines were failing local retailers, thereby creating greater barriers for entry (sales) to their stores – partly due to their antiquated taxonomy/categories.

The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dragnet trademark

My Story

I approached Trevor – an unoccupied Carl’s Cameras Sales Associate, as opposed to, the older gentleman behind the cash register making sales. I introduced myself as being part of an Internet start-up company offering a free search service that matches consumers ready to purchase products with local retailers ready to make sales – all via Tweets/text messages. While Trevor didn’t use Twitter (too young), he was willing to listen, so I opened my MacBook & started my Keynote presentation. I went through all the slides/videos & stopped at the demo part to elaborate. Trevor was engaged! He had questions & thought it was “really cool”. He thought searching Yellow Pages for “cameras” locally was useless but did accept there may not be many alternatives, even after I demoed Google Maps local search. He wasn’t surprised to see Carl’s Cameras not among the initial Yellow Pages search results & conceded that no one walks into the store asking for “digital image processing equipment” – Carl’s Cameras taxonomy & there’s no way anyone in the store could change that. He loved the idea of “social tagging” Demand & Supply in the language (terminology) of the consumers’ & retailers’ & thought it was very practical.

However, here’s how the conversation continued;

Me: “Would you use Twetailer to help you close sales?”

Trevor: No. It’s not like I’m going to work here the rest of my life. My day is, I come in, I go home, I get paid.”

Me: But you could just sit down in the back room, have a coffee & make sales? Do you text message?

Trevor: True dat. Yah of course I text.

Me: Do you have unlimited text messaging?

Trevor: Yah, for sure. But I’m not going to use my phone for work & Carl’s Cameras is not going to give me a phone to text.

Me: Carl’s Cameras doesn’t have to give you a phone to text. Especially, if you’ve already got unlimited texting. Tell me, if a friend texted you & said he knows someone looking for a nikon d5000, do you have any in the store, would you text back? Wouldn’t you text “Yes, tell them to come see me.”?

Trevor: True dat… of course I would.

Me: So what’s the difference with Twetailer?

Trevor: I guess nothing. But my day is, I come here, I work, I go home, I get paid. You know… you should really speak to Carl’s Cameras’ Regional Sales Manager. He’s a really nice guy & he’s gonna love this thing. He could probably get all the stores to use it. (He then went to get me the contact info.)

Me: Thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it. Take care.

True Dat Story

I then glanced over to the cash, where the elder gentleman was eavesdropping from all the time, waited to see if he had anything to add & then left.

Following Up

In the days that followed, I tried on several occassions to contact the Regional Sales Manager. The phone number Trevor gave me was also listed on the web site. Yet everytime I called, the phone system went on & on about the office hours & no matter what options I chose, no matter what day, no matter what time, I always ended back at the beginning. For the record “Carl’s Cameras” is my alias for a national retailer!

Moving forward

A few days later, I demo’ed to Kevin Makice – author of Twitter API: Up and Running – O’Reilly Media. He had a funny/sad take on this story. His theory is that small/medium sized retailers – the Mom & Pop stores, are so busy treading water, that they can’t imagine stopping for 5 minutes to try something new, simply on the hope that it can change their world. This would be especially true, for a technology they don’t get – like Twitter/ text messaging.

Ironic, eh?

Unfortunately, the irony of the situation, is that text messaging/tweets empowers these retailers to get back in the digital age. There’s no need for static brochure-ware web sites – which they may have missed, or, are out-dated. There’s no need for online e-commerce shopping cart sites – which they probably can’t afford, or, could never see any return-on-investment. There’s no need for anything more that an old mobile phone that can text message & someone to push those little buttons.

All they need is someone like Trevor to give a damm. Someone who would probably love the excuse to text at work. Someone who would probably find it easier than answering the phone.

Lessons Learned

Next time, I’m going to demo someone on commission 🙂


Have you had a similar experience? Is this a generational thing, or, simply a management issue?

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Social Software

How To Use Twitter To Reduce Wait Times, Anxiety and More

My kids’ doctor is great, but we can wait over two hours to see him. Here’s my suggestion to him and anyone enduring mind-numbing wait times
Click here to skip to my answer.

A Waiting Room
Hospital waiting room (CP file photo)*
I’m not complaining about the system

Relatively speaking, up here in the Great White North – Canada, we have little to complain about our socialized medical system. Of course, it could always be better but please note my emphasis on the word “Relatively“. So this post is not a bitch-fest, but really about accepting things for the way they are today and trying to offer a tiny, practically free way of making some peoples’ lives a little bit better.

The routine

We’re lucky! Whenever either of our kids – Sara, or, Alex get sick, or, need a routine check-up we take them to their pediatrician – Dr. DaCosta, who works out of a clinic less than five minutes from home. We have two options: We can book an appointment with our doctor, or, go to the walk-in clinic any morning from 8 AM to 9 AM. Either way, all the doctors have access to our kids charts so everyone is in the loop.

Naturally, we book routine check-ups with Dr. DaCosta. But depending on the severity when one of them gets sick, or, hurt, we weigh the delay getting an appointment with Dr. DaCosta, or, going to the walk-in clinic. Since Dr. DaCosta also works out of the amazing Montreal Children’s Hospital, that delay could sometimes be a week.

The look

If you have kids you know the “look”. It’s the look when they’re just not themselves. It’s the look when you acknowledge they’re not bouncing off the walls laughing but possibly lethargic. It’s the look when you realize the Tempra isn’t working and it’s two days now. It’s the look when you start to feel useless. It’s the look when you look to your partner in life for answers. It’s the look when your partner in life looks back at you because she already read the sentence before the last. 🙂 It’s the look when you want to see their doctor.

The waiting room

Dr. DaCosta is a great guy! He spends as much time as we need with him. He never rushes us. He writes things down on paper for us to make sure we understand & remember what to do. These are amazing attributes in a pediatrician! There’s nobody I’d rather wait to see than Dr. Costa when my kids are sick – especially when they have the look.

Now, I can understand when you show up at the clinic, or, hospital, the wait time is going be long. I can understand that when you show up for a scheduled appointment, there’s going to be a wait-time – especially with a pediatrician like ours. But that wait-time is regularly over two hours. And for all of you parents out there, you know what that two hours is like. You’re not only are you dealing with your sick kid. You may also be dealing with a healthy sibling whom you had no choice but to haul along for the ride. You may also be dealing with an anxious partner feeling guilty because they just couldn’t help out. Most likely, you may also be dealing with an over-crowded waiting room full of folks just like you & yours. Most likely, you may start to wonder what other diseases your kids are going to pick up now and if it’s worse than what they already have. And then of course, you’ve got other issues going on in your life like work, or, obligations that are just not going to be met.


It is what it is, let’s move on

The truth is, at least in my little corner of the world, I actually don’t mind seeing the doctor two hours later. But I do mind waiting two hours and especially under those circumstances mentioned above. So here’s my step-by-step suggestion for the waiting rooms of doctor’s, hospital’s, clinic’s, or, any place with long waits:


  1. Get a Twitter account.
    1. If you need a little background, check out My Five Ws of Twitter in less than 10 minutes (video included)
    2. If you want to see the power of Twitter, watch Monittering Twitter – The Obama Inauguration Experiment
    3. YIf you want click-by-click instructions,check out Amanda Kondolojy‘s How to Create a Twitter Account
  2. Ask patients if they have a Twitter account. If they don’t then suggest to them they read this post while they’re waiting 🙂 .
  3. If they do, ask them if they would like to be notified of delays and give them your Twitter account so they can Follow you. If they don’t, they will one day soon.


  1. Pick a time interval, like 30 minutes
  2. Simply tweet your delay. For example: “We are currently experiencing a 2 hour delay.”
    1. You cold even allow those with scheduled appointments to Reply, or, Direct message you back with cancellations. For example: “We are currently experiencing a 2 hour delay. Please reply if you are not longer able to make your appointment.” By the way, our clinic charges $30 CAD for not cancelling an appointment 60 minutes in advance. Under these conditions, maybe they should waive that charge in the name of customer service.
  3. Reassess the situation and if need be go to step 2
  4. Wait for step 1


  1. Your patients can stay in the comfort of their own home until it really is time to show up for their appointment
  2. Your patients can keep their germs at home
  3. You can keep your germs – like the ones on those waiting room toys, away from your patients
  4. Your patients’ family members are less inconvenienced
  5. Your patients & their family are less stressed out
  6. Your waiting room is less crowded
  7. Your patients still see their doctor and receive proper treatment
  8. Your staff and doctors will be less stressed out
  9. Your staff and doctors may even be afforded the time to provide better care and custoemer service

Connection issues?
If your office has an Internet connection then all you need is a browser. If your office and/or patients don’t have an Internet connection then there’s always Twitter’s mobile phone text messaging option, as described in the click-by-click instructions above. Depending on your mobile providers’ packages there may, or, may not be a charge. For those of us in Canada, Bell Mobility is our only text messaging option. Finally, you can take a look at Al Sacco‘s review of Best (Free) Mobile Twitter Apps for BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile.

Why not give it a try?

Chances are pretty good that someone working in your office is already using Twitter. So setting up an account and tweeting is second nature for them. Just ask. And believe me, I know the people working in your office are swamped. But maybe they wouldn’t be so swamped if you didn’t have patients at reception lined up out the door.

What do you think?

Do you know of anyone using twitter like this? Are you going to give it a try? If so, then please come back and share your experiences we can all benefit.

* Photo credit: Hospital waiting room (CP file photo)

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