Melinda Emerson - Small Biz Lady

Zimana Client Spotlight: @SmallBizLady Melinda Emerson – Shining a big bright light on small business

Melinda Emerson - Small Biz Lady
Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, has hosted a weekly Twitterchat called #SmallBizChat, a premiere “town hall” for small business owners on Twitter.

You have to admire Melinda Emerson.  Her motto is to eliminate small business failure, and 2012 is shaping to be a great year for her to do so.  With her media site Succeed As Your Own Boss being seen by a quarter of a million unique visitors (and rising) annually, Melinda has been steadily attracting new  entrepreneurs seeking  ideas to operate a successful business and manage growth.   Melinda has seen growth in her own business, thanks to steadily increasing participation of  #SmallBizChat. SmallBizChat is a weekly Twitter town hall for small business owners.  Every Wednesday at 8pm Eastern, tweeting entrepreneurs gather to tweet questions and view answers from guest experts in finance, marketing, operations, social media, employee concerns, and more.   SmallBizChat followers also have the opportunity to give a shout out of their business at the end of the chat.  The mini-promotion is worth it – Melinda currently has over 160,000 followers on Twitter, and has seen increasing numbers of returning followers to SmallBizChat week  after week.

Melinda authored a book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months (read a review from Zimana client Small Business Trends).  The book’s success encouraged Melinda to launch Succeed As Your Own Boss , which features business tips and summaries of the weekly SmallBizChats.  The site continues to attract other contributors such as Tai Goodwin of Launch While Working and a plethora of guests well known in small business circles, such as Deborah Shane, Michael Hyatt, Anita Campbell, Allan Weiss, and Barry Moltz.

Melinda Emerson "Small Biz Lady"
“Small Biz Lady” Melinda Emerson, addressing an audience at the 2012 New York Expo about start up pitfalls

Melinda has also branched out to commentary for several major media outlets and corporate online community sites, such as MSNBC, FedEx, American Express OPEN, and Pitney Bowes Smart Essentials.  In addition, she has been a guest speaker at numerous business trade shows such as the New York Expo and Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference.    The New York Times has added Melinda as a regular contributor to their small business online segment.

Zimana has provided analytic support to Melinda for the past year, and continues to salute Melinda in her quest to protect small businesses from failure. Join her by following the hashtag #SmallBizChat every Wednesday at 8 PM EST – learn more about SmallBizChat at Succeed As Your Own Boss.   While on the Succeed As Your Own Boss site, check out the Zimana twitterchat on analytics here.  And if you would like to see Melinda in action, check out her appearance on NBC Philadelphia.

Pentagon shows a lesson in managing social media goals within an organization

Even the Pentagon is learning how to manage social media

The Pentagon may not be the first place to think of social media, but then again innovation or interesting perspectives come from the least likely and most uncorrelated sources.  Wired reported that the Pentagon is no longer operating a separate social media team to run their Twitter and Facebook accounts, opting to instead incorporate its social media department into its PR communication department.

The decision is understandable. After two years of maintaining a singular communication source, the Pentagon has gained enough insight into what kind of communication should be maintained.  After all, not every business has updates that are a clean fit for social media. The government contracting industry, for example, has some struggle with social media only because many of the ideas typically advised can be detrimental.  For example, some contractors can only announce a win of a contract but not the details of ongoing contract performance, for concern that competing bidders can use the information against them.

The struggle to integrate social media into a large corporation certainly is not  new.  The book Empowered by Groundswell author Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler addresses the concerns and struggles to integrate employee social media usage into company strategy (I wrote a book review for Small Business Trends here). The major concern for the Pentagon mirrors the book’s most overarching topic — establishing a social media policy for its ranks.   The lack of a policy has not created a significant problem yet, but its mention in the article shows that the military has a way to go to ensuring that no information leak damages its intended image.

Having a dedicated social media team has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few:


  • Dedicated listening that can aid response to online audience concerns
  • Dedicated search of customer comments that can aid new product or service generation
  • Augments a highly centralized organization
  • Can establish an polished image if managed by experience social media or marketing professional
  • Can prevent sharing proprietary information — allows for a coordinated disclosure of information


  • Creates silo — shared knowledge and insights across organization is limited to too few folks
  • Limits account response creativity that can draw followers and interest
  • Can be difficult to establish a social media objective when tool usage is disconnected from organizational objectives
  • Can create a “too polished” inauthentic image among followers if manager lacks marketing savvy

Read the Wired article for more details and interesting perspective on social media from a highly centralized organization.

How to expand your analytics knowledge: Three books that show managers how

Web Analytics 2.0
Avinash Kaushik's excellent guide for analytics in management

Yahoo Web Analytics
Dennis Mortensen has written a great guide on analytic dashboards as well as his analytics solution, sold to Yahoo in 2008

Need a little more information on using analytics within your organization?  There are three great books that I have had the pleasure of reviewing at Small Business Trends, an award winning small business blog started by editor Anita Campbell.  Written by the leading experts in web analytics and business intelligence, these can help develop an organization around the timely use of analytics tools.

  • Analytics At Work (Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris) — focuses on analytics within an organization.  Differing from their first book, Competing on Analytics, Analytics at Work is for medium sized organizations that want to incorporate business intelligence tools for operational efficiency but not as a leading advantage in a given industry.
  • Yahoo Web Analytics (Dennis Mortensen) — this book is more than a how-to regarding Yahoo! Web Analytics.  It’s perfect for online merchants who are interested in Yahoo Web Analytics, but also advanced analytics practitioners who need additional ideas for Javascript code and segmentation analysis.

I have also reviewed other business books with Ivana Taylor, founder of DIY Marketers and the book editor for SBT.  We try to review business books we genuinely like and that have great use for small business owners.   A great one Ivana did  is called Success Made Simple which featured perspective from Amish small businesses

Small Business Trends covers a number of great small business subjects and tips.  Definitely a must follow for any small business owner.

What other business books have been a great aid to your business or outlook?

Free webinar: Using Facebook for Chambers and Small Business Groups — Small Business Trends

This is a retweet of an article from Small Business Trends, a Zimana client and a wonderful business information blog. If you are a chamber of commerce or operating a small group, like a BNI, and you want to learn how to leverage Facebook more effectively, you may want to give this free webinar a try.

RT @smallbiztrends: Free webinar: Exploring the capabilities of Facebook for your Chamber or Small Business

Book review of Web Analytics 2.0 at Small Business Trends

Web Analytics 2.0

A book review of Avinash Kaushik’s book Web Analytic 2.0 is available at the Small Business Trends media site. Small Business Trends is one of the largest small business media sites online.  Four million visitors receive news, tips, and insights from many expert practitioners and small business owners.

Pierre DeBois has provided 80 reviews since his first. Among those is a review for a great business book on Israel called Start Up Nation which you can read here.