Scheduled Facebook Posts

Recently Facebook added the “Schedule Posts” feature to Facebook Pages.  There have been other social media management tools that would allow you to do it, but now it’s a native Facebook feature so every page admin can use it.

It’s great; now I can line up content for the week… such as when I was in Hong Kong this past weekend the little Facebook bot was putting up posts related to the Night Festival on the Standing Sushi Bar page.

It frees me from bookmarking information that I want to share later; in the past I would take a clip of information and put it in OneNote and hopefully remember that I wanted to post it on a specific date or time.  It was a manual, kludgy process.

Now if I find something interesting I can put it into Facebook immediately and have it publish later.  The feature also makes it easier to create a series of posts as part of a campaign or event.

So yay Facebook for adding it!

One thing that isn’t immediately apparent – you might want to view or edit which posts are scheduled for publishing.  To do that you go to the top of your Facebook page, where the Admin panel is, and click “Edit Page.”  It shows a dropdown with “Use Activity Log” as one of the choices.  Click that and it lists what posts are upcoming.

Scheduled post on Standing Sushi Bar page

GroupOn, Daily Deals, and evil restaurants

Recently I took on a writing gig with ZDNet, focusing on small business and technology.  I’m pretty excited about this as I love all things tech and since leaving Microsoft this gives me great reason to stay abreast of all technology news.  (I would have done that anyway but now I can justify the bazillion hours of surfing the net by saying it’s research).

My latest entry is about the 4 waves that have occurred with restaurants utilizing daily deal (GroupOn) sites and how the current wave of restaurants are exploiting the customers.  Beware buying any daily deal for a restaurant!

GroupOn can mean bad reviews – how the current crop of restaurants lie, cheat, and steal from their customers

Have a read!

Facebook Tips for Brands & Businesses

Justin Lee has written a good list of tips for brands and businesses that want to improve their management of a Facebook page.

Tip #3 about adding milestones to the page is kind of interesting.  I feel like people are engaging frequently with businesses in a manner that is more conversational and buddy-buddy rather than viewing a business as something that is just there to provide a product or service.  Adding milestones to a business’s Facebook timeline starts creating a shared history between the business and individual.

Pinterest for the restaurant

I’m back from a week in New Zealand and unsurprisingly the jet lag is wreaking havoc with my sleeping patterns.  I’ve been seeing a lot of updates from Pinterest recently so I figured insomnia is the perfect reason to go explore another one of these social media internet 9.0 communication enhancer people connector type of tools.  And I must say, it’s kind of fun!

Standing Sushi Bar Pinterest

Basically you create a  board (imagine a corkboard) and when you find an interesting photo you “pin” it to your board along with a comment.  It’s an easy way of sharing. When you see other people’s pins you can “re-pin” their pin to your own board.  It’s like re-tweeting someone’s message except this time it’s a picture.

Follow Me on Pinterest

It will be interesting to see how businesses utilize Pinterest.  Still too early to determine whether there will be staying power or if it will just be another fad.  The way I’m planning on using it for Standing Sushi Bar is to showcase restaurant information (food, promotions, etc.) as well as have people learn what our “spirit” is based on the things that I pin.

Smartphones in a restaurant

The LA Times ran an article titled “When diners’ eyes feast on their cellphones”  It’s true how people now have their smartphone as an additional companion at the dining table – maintaining conversations with friends not at the restaurant, checking Twitter and Facebook updates, and taking pictures of all the food.

“Ding. Bzzzt. Bap. Beep. That's the sound of conversation in restaurants these days. Where cellphones once posed a nuisance as people chatted loudly into them during meals, they now present a whole new set of etiquette issues as entire tables disappear into the Internet via small glowing screens.

Like an analog world-munching Pac-Man, the modern cellphone has morphed into instant messenger, mailbox, camera, flashlight, computer, map, dictionary, newspaper, personal assistant and social media portal. And as such its use at the table has become so prevalent that "restaurants are now forced to incorporate how to deal with them into the sequence of service and table maintenance," says Eric Rosenfeld, the general manager of the lush trattoria Il Covo, in Mid-City L.A., which has begun offering diners small plates to hold their phones in order to shield them from potential spills and dinner debris.”

So much for social media in China

Earlier this week a re-run of the show Clickability was aired.  I was a guest on the episode talking about how I use social media to reach out to diners and interested folks for the restaurant.

I just arrived in Beijing where they have blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.  That makes it a little difficult to see what people are saying and whether people are sending requests my way.

Thankfully there are many ways to get around this (VPN, remote desktop, etc.) so it’s not too big of an issue but it’s definitely an unnecessary hassle.

This brings to light one big issue that small businesses need to factor in if they’re going to regularly engage with their customers via these social media channels… is only 1 person in the company able to do it?

At Standing Sushi Bar it’s only me that is handling the Facebook page, the Twitter account, etc.  I started them all because I enjoyed using these tools and talking with people.  Over time it evolved into a big part of how I get feedback as well as business inquiries.  The problem is if I don’t have access to the sites then people end up not getting responses (at least not quickly) and that can lead to dissatisfaction.

Add this to the list of “things to work on…” when we get bigger. Smile

Is GroupOn poised for collapse?

Interesting guest post by Rocky Agrawal for TechCrunch with his thoughts on why GroupOn is poised for collapse.

“Imagine you’re a small business owner. You have to choose between two propositions:

  1. You can pay $62,500 for marketing. You’ll get a whole lot of customers coming through your door. No guarantees if they will ever come back, but they’ll come once.
  2. I’ll pay you $21,000. You get $7,000 in about 5 days, another $7,000 in 30 days and the remainder in 60 days. In exchange, you’ll give my customers cheap products for the next year.

I’ve been working on local for a long time and I know it’s hard to get small businesses to spend money on advertising. Really hard. Even getting $200 a month ($2,400 a year) is a high hurdle to meet.” – read the rest of his commentary

Hopefully (and if anyone cares, haha) when I get some more time I’ll write my thoughts and experience with GroupOn and the various daily deal sites.  Singapore is saturated with them – over 20+ at my last count.  There has got to be a shakeout happening soon… how many discounted spa deals do we really need flooding our inboxes?

Techie Sushi Bar

I was thinking about the different tools I use on a day-to-day basis to handle operations at the sushi bar and also to communicate with customers, suppliers, and the team at Standing Sushi Bar.

It might be helpful for others starting up a business to see the IT infrastructure that I use to run Standing Sushi Bar.

I put the tech in sushi bar

Computer – No brand desktop PC purchased from Sim Lim for 399 SGD

Operating SystemWindows Vista for the sushi bar PC (I wanted to use Windows 7 and had the release candidate installed but the Micros machines were not compatible with it so I had to downgrade to Vista).  Windows 7 and Snow Leopard for my desktop PCs.

Point of Sale MachinesMicros E7 running Windows CE

Web is powered by Office LiveFree

Blog is hosted on WordPress. Free

Twitter client – The main Windows desktop client I’m using is TweetDeck.  I also use Tweetie when I’m on my Mac.  On my mobile device I’m running Twikini. TweetDeck and Tweetie are Free

Mobile Phone – vital to staying in touch with the restaurant.  I’m using the HTC HD2 which is powered by Windows Mobile 6.5.  A Windows Phone.  My Microsoft e-mail, personal e-mail, and sushi bar e-mail all synchronize with this device.

Design Software – To create brochures, menus, etc. I use Microsoft Publisher.

Office software – Like most of the world, I’m using Microsoft Office 2007 and the Office 2010 Beta.  Office 2010 Beta is Free

E-mail Client – Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010.  Also Outlook mobile on the phone. For web access to the sushi bar e-mail account I use gmail.  Free

Financial Management Software – I used to use Microsoft Money but that was discontinued so now I use Intuit’s Quicken

Sales Analysis – I use a combination of Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel. The daily sales reports are exported as text files which I then put in an Access table.  Using Excel I have created a PivotTable which connects to the Access database and automatically refreshes.

File Synchronization – To keep files synchronized across the PC at the sushi bar, my home desktop, my home Mac, my various laptops, and my mobile device I use Live MeshFree

Instant Messenger – To minimize sending SMS messages, I use Windows Live Messenger to communicate with whomever is at the restaurant when I am at a computer.  Free

Blogging Software – To write blog entries I use Windows Live WriterFree

Wireless Network – 802.11g D-Link router and a D-Link.  WPA2 protection of course!

Web Cam – I have a remote camera which I can control via the internet.  It is the D-Link DCS-5220.  I haven’t gotten it to work with my mobile phone yet but apparently it can… works quite well with a PC.

Dynamic DNS – Since my IP address for the computer in the sushi bar changes frequently, I have a URL that automatically goes to the current IP address.  I use DynDNS.comFree

Remote Access – I travel a lot but I want to be able to access the main computer from anywhere.  I use Remote Desktop (built into Windows) to connect (via the URL that DynDNS automatically routes to the sushi bar’s current IP address). Free

Internet – Singtel DSL subscription

E-mail Provider – Google Apps (a variation on consumer Gmail). Why not Hotmail? I liked Gmail’s support for IMAP – it keeps the mail synchronized across all my devices and computers.  Free

Domain Name Provider – Network Solutions

Cable TV – Singtel’s Business Mio TV

Music Service – Microsoft Zune

Printer / Scanner / Fax Machine – I wish the world could be paperless and rely on e-mail but amazingly there is so much stuff that needs to be photocopied and faxed.  I use the Brother MFC-7840N Multi-Function Centre.

Digital CameraFuji FinePix F200 EXR and the HD2’s 5 megapixel built-in camera

What I use at home to relax after a long dayXbox 360, beer, and Bill Murray.