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Date posted: February 10, 2009

Ned Parks posted a thoughtful piece on his blog on whether or not old-line businesses, like insurance companies, can see the value of social networking and other Web 2.0 marketing vehicles.

It's not just a theoretical question. Recently, as I was talking about the power of social networking with owner of small bakery in Asheville, NC, it was plain that he didn't have clue as to what social networking could do for his business or why he would even want to bother with it. The owner is a young man in his early 30s, so this isn't really a generation gap problem, although I'm sure it is in many cases.

I casually mentioned that it would be good idea for him set up a Facebook fan page for his bakery. He already has a cult following among local bread lovers, and a Facebook page would be a low-cost way to leverage this very vocal fan base. He was intrigued, but he was leery and unsure about the world of social networking. He saw no compelling reason to explore it. His attitude seems common, especially among businesses that haven't traditionally used the Web for marketing.

So, how do you convince the baker to launch a Facebook Page?

Ned took this question to LinkedIn. One of the responses he received sums up my thoughts on how this might be achieved. Chris Noble, a consultant at Information Wranglers, suggested that Ned avoid pitching the new media sans buzzwards. She wrote, "Concentrate instead on presenting existing business functions that could be improved by judicious use of the new Web-based systems."

I told the baker, for instance, that his Facebook page could provide quick feedback on new bread styles he was constantly bringing to market. The zealous bread fans could also be used to market his bread to others, which is the most obvious advantage.

There must be thousands of small, old-line businesses that could benefit from social networking if they could get past the technical hurdles and misconceptions that keep them from enjoying what could be a tool for dramatically expanding their customer base and income. Ned wonders, too.

Date posted: February 5, 2009

My article, Drilling into Wireless, which focuses on the oil and gas industries' slow embrace of wireless, appeared in Managing Automation magazine. Drilling into Wireless discusses the use of wireless networking technology and devices in a variety of oil & gas industry applications.

I've written more than 100 features for Managing Automation since 1990.

Date posted: February 3, 2009

My article, "Natures Barcode: DNA-Traceability for Meat" appeared in the pages of Natural Food Network. The article, on page 19 of the publication's digital flip book, looks at how grocers are building credibility with highly specialized DNA-technology.

The Natural Food Network provides business insights for natural and organic food buyers. This was my first feature for the publication.