Q & A with Jon Wuebben, Author of Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web

I came across Jon Wuebben’s book Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web recently, and found myself immediately captivated by his tips for writing search engine optimized copy. Eighteen chapters later, and a journey through an extraordinary appendix of online resources, I became a full-fledged fan.

Impressions through Media and Weber Media Partners are honored to have author Jon Wuebben join us as a special guest in a Q & A.

In the introduction to your book, Content Rich, you mention that you started doing pro bono work for non-profits as you were getting grounded in the world of SEO copywriting.  From your experiences, is there–or should there be–anything distinctive about the way non-profits vs. for-profit businesses write their online content?

Good question. I would say, first, that non profits should focus on using the names of the communities they serve in the copy and in the meta tags so they come up in local searches. So, if they are a women’s shelter in Springfield, Illinois, be sure to use this phrase and others like it so they can be found online. The other thing I would say is they should focus on a key constituency – donors – by having a page dedicated to this group on their site. Fundraising is the life blood of most nonprofits, so this is important.

Marketing Sherpa’s recent report “2009 Social Media Marketing and PR: Benchmarks and Best Practices” indicates that of the companies they surveyed, businesses say social media and emailing to house lists are the two tactics they’ll spend their marketing dollars on this year–essentially leaving behind nine other tactics they used;  paid search, telemarketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, direct mail, event marketing, radio/tv ads, emailing to rented lists and print advertising. Does this surprise you?

No, because both of these activities are low cost and can have a high return. It’s a no brainer. The problem is that most companies don’t do either right. The important sites in the social media arena for businesses would be StumbleUpon, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. In terms of email marketing, make sure you have a good list, great email creative and a good landing page. And then have a simple form on that landing page in order to get their contact information.

In the same Marketing Sherpa report, businesses who aren’t using social media say the key reason why they’re not using social media is due to staffers “Lack of Knowledge.” What do you think about that?

It’s not as intimidating as one would think. The critical thing is for these executives and companies to remember is that they need to take off their “selling” and “corporate” hats and put on their “let’s build a community” hat.  That’s what it’s all about. Also, no need to use MySpace or Digg. I would focus on the ones I mentioned above. Yes, the social media space can be a bit confusing at first, but it’s certainly not just for the younger generation anymore. And if staffers say they “don’t know it”, well then I, as the CEO, would say, “learn it”. Its too important not to get in the game.

In your recent email newsletter you wrote that there are “too many blogs out there, and many aren’t very good.”  You suggest that one of the problems is there aren’t “blog standards.”  Here’s your opportunity, we’re interested: what would you include as standards for good blogging?

That’s a tough one. I’m not sure what the standards would be, but in terms of how you do it, I think the best and easiest way would be for someone out there to start an organization or association that judges the quality of a site and works with Google (and probably others) to place a small icon on each site that shows the grade. It would be a huge undertaking, and yes, Google already lets the “cream rise to the top” with the way they rank sites, but if I was able to see a quick grade for a site as soon as I landed on a page, I would know immediately to click away. It would be hard to enforce and people would game the system, but that’s true with anything. I just want a better way to weed out the garbage.

Do you have a regular routine for writing?

No, inspiration can strike at any time. When it does, or I’m feeling particularly creative at a certain point in the day, I know its “go time”. Mornings and late at night do seem to work out best however, when we all are closer to the subconscious mind. Interesting how that works.

You’ve written that we’re in the middle of a “Twitter Revolution.”  What do you tweet about?  What qualities or type of content do you appreciate about others business tweets?

I tweet about blog posts I read that I liked, events that I’m speaking at, a particularly interesting client project, etc..In others Tweets  I like to read specific examples of tips, tricks, ideas and suggestions that may be new. And also to get a “pulse” on what’s going on out there in the industry.

You’ve been writing online copy for a long time.  How do you stay passionate about your work?

I am a creative person. It took me a while to discover that. Most of the time, I am simply channeling the words I write. But any artist would tell you it can be a burden as much as it is a benefit. When I’m not writing copy or managing my business, I’m writing songs. Exchanging one type of creative activity for another can be very beneficial…it can re-charge the batteries for both!

The other way I stay passionate is because I love helping other businesses succeed. It’s a total rush.

Thank you, Jon, for joining us, and for sharing more of your rich content!


Social Networking Website Profiles, Sometimes Easier Said Than Done

If you’ve found yourself joining more social networking websites these days, then you’ve likely come across the variation of requirements for profile pictures; as if we didn’t already have enough things to think about.

I only came across the site pictrit after spending an inordinate amount of time (and that’s saying it nicely) trying to get a rectangular logo to look okay on the newly revised facebook business profile. But wow, finding pictrit felt like I found a gold mine.
Resizing Profiles
Maybe I’m telling you something you already know, but to drive home the point, here are the website profile size requirements for a few of the social networks you may be currently using or considering:

48 pixels x 48 pixels

130 pixels x 100 pixels

140 pixels x 185 pixels

48 pixels x 48 pixels

80 pixels x 80 pixels

Not only does pictrit provide the dimensions for 22 commonly used social networks and 4 forums, it has a tool which resizes the images for you right there on the spot. I followed the link from pictrit to ImageShack, a site which not only resizes images but also urls and videos.  Their chart includes sizing for avatars, thumbnails, websites, email, and more.

If you’ve got enough time left over in the day to take your profile education for social networking websites one step further, check out 5 Creative Ways to Hack Your Facebook Profile –lots fun and interesting information there.  Sorry to write and run, but if I’m going to hack my facebook profile by the time I turn in tonight, I better get going!

Keeping up with the Social Networking Joneses

I spend several hours a week reading RSS feeds and the links which come in via Google Alerts. In my opinion, in order to blog on a regular basis, it’s helpful if you enjoy reading as much as writing.

This is where social bookmarking comes into the picture. As I’m reading each week, I bookmark urls to our delicious page, linking to posts which have made an impression on me. By linking to the pages, I can easily share the resources with my colleagues, our readers, my online and offline friends. When another delicious user bookmarks the same link, you can click on their page; and voilà, it’s like opening pandora’s box, being able to access material you may never have come across.
Blog Writing
A blog post doesn’t need to be very long; in fact, 350-500 words is a good length.  But how you acquire the information to write interesting content, will tack on a few more hours per week. If you’re serious about keeping up with the subject matter of your blog, the reading and research requires ongoing time and commitment. If you’re in a business environment, it likely will become (if not already) someone’s job.

This week, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about social networking–and while I’m still digesting the content and implications for use in business and personal pages–I thought I’d come up for air a minute, and share with you.

I’ll be back next week, with some further insights.  For now, put your feet up and enjoy.
Recommended Social Network Readings for this Week:
Nielsen’s new report, “Global Faces and Networked Places: A Nielsen Report on Social Networking’s New Global Footprint.”

AllFacebook’s post, How to Develop a Facebook Page that Attracts Millions of Fans

And Facebook Pages Product Guide (like reading a manual but pretty important)

Tagging: The Heart of Social Media

At the heart of social media, is tagging; like the icebreaker used at a cocktail party, your name badge at a conference, contact info on your business card; tagging has become a part of your social profile.  When you get right down to it, tagging provides a birds-eye view of how we see and experience the world, and also how we’re perceived.

Wikipedia defines a tag, as a “non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.”  According to recent research millions of Americans are tagging every day.  Gene Smith wrote an entire book about tagging: Tagging: People-Powered Metadata for the Social Web (Voices That Matter).  Smith begins the book with a great example:
“…visit the Danbury Library’s online catalog something rather unlike a typical library.  A search for The Catcher in the Rye brings up not just a call number but also a list of related books and tags–keywords such as “adolescence,” “angst,” “coming of age” and “New York”–that describe J.D. Salinger’s classic novel.  Click the tag “angst” and you’ll find a list of angsty titles such as The Bell Jar, The Stranger….”
Tagging and Del.icio.us
The social bookmarking site, Del.icio.us, introduced a collaborative tagging system in 2003.  In del.icio.us, users may store, share, and discover web bookmarks. Through bookmarking websites and tagging material, you can further explore topics, and connect with other users who have shared interests.

In January of 2008, my colleagues and I started adding bookmarks to del.icio.us.  One of the main focuses of our blog is social media, and as a result, it’s one of the top ten tags we use.  When I searched del.icio.us to see how many other people have bookmarked a url with the tag “social media”, 97,045  results came up. Of those, the highest ranking post with the tags social media was Mashable.com, which 12,797 people bookmarked and tagged. (1976 people even took the time to write notes about the site.)

So what does tagging do for us in del.icio.us?  It shows a list of all the other users who have saved the same page. I can click on anyone of those users and see their recommendations.  If I find a like-minded user, I can add them to my network.  As del.icio.us explains, “Your network connects you to other users – friends, family, even new people you run across. You can add people to your network and keep track of their latest bookmarks.  And when you save new bookmarks, you can share them with people in your network simply by clicking on a username.”
Why Should We Care About Tagging?
Tagging is big! It’s everywhere you look these days–on Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Slideshare, blogs, gmail, Amazon.com and more. Tagging help us organize information.

Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go out of your way to save a document to your hard drive without naming it.  As a computer user, you’ve become accustomed to file the document in a folder where you have a reasonably good chance of finding it.  Note: I said, reasonably.  If it isn’t already, tagging will become second nature.

As Gene Smith suggests, tagging helps facilitate collaboration, findability, and participation; it can spark innovation, and align our efforts.  Tagging lets our voices be heard–it helps them matter, even more.

Extending your relationships with LinkedIn

Last week I participated on a panel for The Boston Club, an impressive professional group of women business owners. As the room filled to capacity at Turner’s Fisheries in the Westin Hotel in Copley Square, I realized that there was a huge need for education on social media topics.

The program “Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, YouTube, Blogging…Who can any of this help me with my business?” was the second on this topic in so many months offered to the membership. After introductions, hands shot into the air asking questions like, “What is Twitter and why would I use it?” “What is the one thing I should do for my business?” How do you find time to do all this stuff? “How do you know how to use these tools?”

The discussion turned to the value of these tools and it was posed “Why would I use LinkedIn? Do you know anyone who has ever benefited from it?”  Of course, being shy and all (ha), I hesitated about 3 seconds to pull the mic forward and explain that the reason I was invited to participate on the panel, the reason our business grew 30% last year, the reason we have a successful advisory board, is because of LinkedIn. The audience did one of those simultaneous “oooh”s and so I explained how it happened.

I was looking for a CFO consultant to solve some financial issues with the business. I did a search in LinkedIn and came up with a name that looked familiar, Susan Hammond. Turns out she was connected to me through my neighbor down the street so I asked my neighbor Marnie to introduce us over LinkedIn. Within a few days, I had a meeting with Susan and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today I used LinkedIn to find a call center for a client and got 12 responses within two hours. I searched for graphic designers for our firm and found 5 that fit our needs. Having said this, it is important to know that these tools do not replace the face-to-face personal relationship, they extend it.

In our intense world, it makes good business sense to find ways to develop and cultivate relationships. LinkedIn is just one way that helps us do that.

hello world, Belated BlogDay Wishes

I’m not usually one for belated Birthday cards. For me, it’s more meaningful to  acknowledge the birthday on the actual day. But as we know, it happens.
BlogDay 2008
August 31st was the 4th BlogDay– a day when bloggers were encouraged to find 5 new blogs they find interesting, and to notify the 5 bloggers that you’re recommending them as part of BlogDay 2008. So, I’m sending these belated wishes and to express my gratitude to the countless bloggers from around the world, who I read, communicate with in one way or another, and to the ones I haven’t yet discovered.

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and my education in social media wouldn’t have happened as rapidly as it has, if not for all the bloggers who’ve come before me– who’ve shared their knowledge, two cents, and recommended valuable links and resources. Special thanks to all the bloggers who create unique content,  those who put their own unique spin on it–and all of the folks who’ve been out there conversing, even when they aren’t sure if anyone is listening.

I remember the first time I saw the words “hello world” on my clunky ms-dos based PC in the late 80’s.  Then a few years later,  I saw those words again on the trail-blazing websites I visited through the browser, Netscape Navigator.

The world has become much smaller as a result of the internet, our wireless connections and mobile devices. Every person who publishes content can have their own voice and niche perspective–can say “hello world” as often as they like.  But just because we can communicate in a flash, across oceans and languages, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should.

As Geoff Livingston and Brian Solis write in their book, Now is Gone:
The Internet’s littered with failed corporate blogs and discontinued social media initiatives. Many simply can’t think of new, interesting content to post, and with the time necessary to commit to a blog, many simply decide to stop. Content creators must diligently engage the community with appealing content for the life of the new media initiative, not just for the first few months. Having a unique look helps catch the reader’s eye. Keeping them there requires a constant creation of appealing content that only comes with a significant time and thought commitment.
In the spirit of BlogDay, I’d also like to thank all of the bloggers whose posts we’ve included on our delicious list,  blogroll, and others who we’ve linked to– and those who have linked to us.  Special thanks to Merlyn Sanchez for the honorable mention on her insightful blog, Smart Business Owners.

Content creation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, we need one another.

If you missed out on BlogDay, it’s not too late–you can tell us about bloggers you’d like to acknowledge!

Making their official impressions in media

A word is a word, of course of course–that is to say, a word may be used even when it isn’t in a dictionary or thesaurus.
And sometimes it takes awhile before our reference books catch–up to our new lexicons, officially making their impressions in media. In June, the Associated Press announced 200 new entries for the 2008 edition of the AP Stylebook, the essential handbook for all writers, editors, students and public relations specialists.

These are some of the new AP Stylebook entries which caught my eye:

snail mail
social networking
text messaging

Whew, I feel a lot better knowing they’re part of the new style book–thought you might, too.

Now I’m wondering about Webster’s Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, and the Oxford English Dictionary. For you word buffs out there you may be interested in a new book entitled Reading the OED: One Man One Year , 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea.

Kind of makes you wonder what other everyday words are missing from our reference books and online resources? You know of any you’d like to share?

Marketers Face Roadblocks while Navigating the New Media Highway

Wiki Ways

Late last month, Marketing Sherpa featured a case study on How to Use Wikipedia Entries for Lead Gen. A company named Attensa submitted the case and boasted about the 4% increase in their website traffic and 18% higher conversion rate.

Shortly thereafter, Attensa’s page was removed from Wikipedia for abusing Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy and their Neutral Point of View Policy. Both the company and their media agency defended their contributions as valuable content that is not unlike other content existing on the site. Unfortunately, by posting their approach on Marketing Sherpa, they got burned.

To find other examples of infringement of these policies, I searched on a current release movie, Wall E, and found an in depth promotion of the flix. This post is a clear promotion of the movie and Pixar. Additional searches turn up Microsoft and IBM, with detailed pages featuring their logos and links to their websites. Hmmm. Am I missing something here? Is this about who posts the information? I am not sure that it’s realistic to analyze the motivations of every poster to this giant content site.

Perhaps Wikipedia yanked their content because the company admitted it was marketing strategy and their motivation for increasing their site traffic. How does one distinguish Attensa’s approach from the likes of IBM? The folks at Marketing Sherpa admit that there is ongoing confusion about how marketers can participate at Wikipedia and promise to report on developments as they happen.

Blog Backlash

In another story , Paul Gillin reported on a Forrester report in B-to-B Magazine last month that the misuse of blogs as a press release library is causing a backlash for corporate blogging. If the key goal of a blog were solely to raise your position in the search engines, this approach would be effective.

But blogs are about community discussion. No one is going to discuss your press release. They probably aren’t even going to read it. Alternatively, the corporate blog is a great place to open discussion about a customer service issue, in straight language, by real people. Gillin gives kudos to HP, General Motors and Marriott for having figured out how to use blogging to engage customers in honest and open dialog.

We Are Still Learning

The point of these stories is that we are still learning to use these new media tools successfully, and with new frontiers, there will be pioneers who learn the hard way what doesn’t work. These are the challenges and adventures of new media marketing. At the risk of sounding promotional, this blog is a good starting place to learn what some of those things are. Our blog roll provides you with many more.

As always, keep your ears open and enjoy the ride.

That one simple question: Do you know the answer?

I’m pretty sure we all understand the importance of talking to our customers.  But, how often do you talk to your customers?  Maybe once a year?   Perhaps once a month?   And, how do you talk to them?   Is it a phonecall, some type of survey or possibly an in-person meeting?   Most importantly, what do you talk to your customers about?
Most of us have either been involved in producing or responding to lengthy customer satisfaction surveys that seek to “better understand the customer” and “increase customer loyalty.”   Unfortunately, these same surveys are notoriously ineffective when it comes to boosting customer loyalty – with poor response rates, alienated customers, and lackluster data.

Imagine if you could ask your customers just one simple question that could fuel unprecedented customer loyalty and determine your business’ future.   This concept, termed Net Promoter Score (or NPS) focuses on asking this one question – Would you recommend us to a friend? – in a regular, systematic and timely manner. 

In his new Harvard Business School Press book, The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth , Fred Reichheld, introduces NPS as the radical new tool that is being rapidly deployed by leading firms to transform ordinary customers into promoters – the drivers of sustainable growth.

NPS is based on the premise that your customers can be divided into three unique segments based on their response to the “ultimate question” given a 0-10 point scale (with 0 being very unlikley and 10 being extremely likely).

Promoters – loyal enthusiasts who keep buying and urge their friends to do the same
Passives – satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are easily wooed by the competition
Detractors – unhappy customers trapped in a bad relationship

The NPS is the percentage of customers whose answers identify them as promoters minus the percentage whose response indicates they are detractors.

NPS = % promoters – % of detractors

According to Netpromoter.com, efficient growth companies such as Amazon.com, eBay, Costco, Vanguard, and Dell operate at NPS efficiency ratings of 50 to 80%; while the average firm sputters along at an NPS efficiency of only 5 to 10%.  

What is your NPS baseline?   If you have your own NPS stories, we’d love to learn more.

The Elements of Social Media Style: What Would Strunk & White Say?

You may have an old copy of Strunk & White’s infamous book, The Elements of Style, cramped into your bookcase, or perhaps you’re using it to prop your window open on a hot summer’s night. Or possibly you’re like me, upgraded a few years ago and own a copy of the beautifully illustrated version by Maira Kalman. You have to wonder, if Strunk & White wrote the book today, what would they have to say about social media writing style–mobile communications, iPhones and the likes of twittering?
Roger Angell writes in the forward of the illustrated book, “How simple they look, set down here in White’s last chapter: ‘Write in a way that comes naturally.’ ‘Revise and rewrite,’ ‘Do not explain too much,’ and the rest; above all, the cleansing, clarion ‘Be clear.’”

I imagine Strunk & White would’ve been dumbfounded if they knew over one million iPhones were sold this past weekend; or if they had knowledge of the extraordinary numbers of people who are using cellular and wireless devices for mobile communication, web browsing and all sorts of online navigation in their business and personal lives.
Twitter’s 140 character limit, and the informal lower-case email style with its often omitted salutations and closings, makes you have to wonder sometimes. So what about this issue of social media writing style?
There’s an interesting story about a Twitter faux pas which occurred last year when one of my blogging heroes Steve Rubel wrote a tweet, “PC Mag is another. I have a free sub but it goes in the trash.” Unfortunately for Steve he didn’t make it clear that he does read PC Magazine, it’s just that he reads it online. Naturally, folks at the magazine were upset. People wrote on and on about the incident until Steve tried to put it to rest with an honest and sincere open letter apologizing for the comment “…it does not reflect my full media consumption habits.”
Not to rub salt on an old wound but I refer to this example because of the valuable lesson Steve (and many others) learned, “Post too fast without providing context and it can elicit an unintended response.”
Most of us can probably identify either as the giver or the receiver, and don’t have to dig down too deep to think of an incident when something was written too fast without the necessary context. The example that comes to mind for me didn’t have a public fall-out but it did make me have to stop and take notice.
A couple of months ago a friend emailed me back an answer to a question I’d sent her a few days earlier. Her reply consisted of five short words, and because of the brevity it had a certain je ne sais quoi–bite to it. Only recently my friend told me about the business trip and how she rushed to write and send the email as the flight attendant instructed her a second time,“Turn off your Blackberry, Mam.” Understandably, my friend thought an answer was better then no answer. However, from my perspective, the reply didn’t sound anything like my friend, or the way we usually communicate. I would have been more understanding if I’d known a flight attendant had been breathing down her neck when she secretly pushed the send button.

In deference to Strunk & White and all their good advice about writing naturally, being clear, do not explain too much– there are many aspects which warrant updating. Even though it’s 2008, and rules of usage and approaches to style are different, and most of us are feeling pressured for time, communicating on the go, and often limited by number of characters and screen size, it might help to remember — at least for now, there’s usually a human being somewhere on the other end.

Artwork by Maira Kalman from The Elements of Style, Penguin Press, 2005.

Strategies for Blogging

I find people like Jeremiah Owyang a true inspiration– for his originality, innovation and sticked-to-it-ness. Jeremiah is a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research’s Social Computing and focuses on Social Computing for the Interactive Marketer. He’s been writing the widely successful Web Strategy Blog which celebrates its second birthday this month. In a recent post, Jeremiah describes his blog strategy.
In particular here’s what I like most about Jeremiah’s focus:
Creating “how to” posts which can serve as a resource
Budgeting time in the morning through “paying himself first” by researching, reading, and writing blog posts…before “diving into email hell”
Joining in the conversation on newer and older posts
Developing mainstay type posts (e.g. his digest series, index lists and on the move series which he says helps to reduce his time coming up with constant original ideas)
Having passion about his web strategy work
At the end of Jeremiah’s post he asks “So what’s the future to hold? Well for one, I’m starting to ask people to follow me on Friendfeed.”
To be honest my immediate reaction was—oh no, not another thing I have to keep up with! But I got over it fairly quickly. Hey, we can jump into Friendfeed together.

P,S. If you’re already using it, we’re curious–what are your impressions of Friendfeed?

Inspiration for Social Media

I read many blog posts during the week from a wide range of sources, and there’s always a few which really stand out. This past Memorial Day weekend, in between cook-outs, get-togethers, and catching up on a novel for the book group I belong to– I found a couple of things particularly inspirational.
As a follow-up to the post I wrote last week about being a student of Social Media and Sarah Perez’s post entitled “Social Media U: Take a Class in Social Media”, I re-watched the YouTube video students at Kansas State University made which summarizes how students learn today. It’s really worth taking a few minutes to watch. Kind of eye opening!
I’ve also been looking forward to digging my teeth into the new book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charline Li and Josh Bernoff which arrived a few days ago. I’ve read many great reviews and readers comments about the book–I think after watching this short video with the renown Forrester Research VPs, you’ll get the Groundswell fever, too.
I’ll be writing more about it over the next couple of weeks. If you’ve been reading the book, we’re interested in hearing about what you’ve learning, and how you hope to apply it to your business’ marketing efforts.

Enterprise 2.0: Required Communications for Today’s Business Success

Last week we asked readers to write and submit their reasons why Enterprise 2.0 mattered to them—in only six words! Jon Whitlock, VP of Marketing for CBE Technologies, summed it up beautifully in his six word story, “Required communications for today’s business success.”

The folks here at Impressions through Media blog wholeheartedly agree with Jon. We also believe Enterprise 2.0 is a necessary component, and a requirement for businesses who not only want to compete in today’s marketplace, but more importantly, who want to thrive.

It’s our pleasure to award Jon Whitlock with a Platinum Pass to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, June 9-12, 2008.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their six word stories. We hope you’ll keep reading our blog, and telling us your thoughts about Social Media and Enterprise 2.0.

Five Strategies for Getting Started with Viral Marketing

Have you been feeling itchy about getting started with viral marketing? Here are a few tips:

Scratch: Do something viral, get started with new and exciting ways of marketing to your customers e.g. create an e-book, shoot a short video, record a podcast, write messages on Twitter.

Contagious: Write contagious content, tap into what people care about so they’ll spread the word.

First Aid: Demonstrate thought leadership in your blog posts. Share the videos, podcasts, and sites you’ve bookmarked. Offer tips. Recommend and review new industry-related books or publications.

Feed Your Head: Subscribe to RSS feeds, make your RSS reader your home page so you’ll be sure to read new posts. Or if offered, subscribe to receive via email. Whatever works best for you.

Network: Keep up-to-date on what’s being talked about. Spend a minimum of 15-30 minutes a day reading and commenting on blog posts where you have something to add.  Network with friends, make new connections.  Determine which social network(s) are the best places for you to connect with customers, prospects, former and existing colleagues. e.g. Linkedin, facebook, myspace.com, and others.  Jump into the conversation on social networking sites.

FYI, Here’s a great resource I came across this week that I’d like to share about interactive marketing, the BTOB 2008 Interactive Marketing Guide. The guide provides great sections on e-mail, search, Web sites, online advertising, online events, b-to-b media sites, social media, interactive agencies, analytics and multimedia. Hope you find it useful, too.

Have something to recommend that you came across this week? Tell us about it.

First Quarter Comments from the Framingham Superbowl party

Folks, I have gen x, gen y and baby boomers here.

Comments so far: godaddy ad was popular overall for social media impact. Careerbuilder was impactful but “grossed out” many.

The Gen Y guys on the couch liked the Planters nuts, FedEx pidgens and the fire breathing bud light ad. Still looking for the ultimate social networking experience. Would love to hear what you’re all thinking. Going back to watch Tom Petty Halftime show….

Lead Generation and Blogs: Making the Connection

At this time of year, we often find ourselves assessing what worked and what did not in terms of marketing campaigns.  You may be questioning if you met lead generation goals on a quarterly email program.  You might be determining if the ROI on trade show or speaking engagements justifies a repeat performance in the coming year.  In the end, you work to analyze actual results to derive that optimal mix of marketing tactics for the coming year.  

The jury is still out for many of my clients when it comes to incorporating social media tactics like a blog into their marketing mixes.  This hesistancy may represent fear of the unknown, a misunderstanding of the tool, or skepticism regarding results, you tell me.   If it is the latter – meaning you need to better understand the connection between a blog and lead generation – you may find a case study published on MarketingSherpa entitled, “Seven Practical Tactics to Turn Your Blog into a Sales Machine” of particular interest. 

The case illustrates how one successful real estate blog incorporated seven key elements to generate significant prospect interest.  These seven practical tips include:

Seed your blog posts with key words
Provide exclusive news and insight
There is no need to blog daily
Add easy contact links to each post
Jump on incoming leads fast
Measure success by qualified leads not total traffic
Blog elsewhere



Launching social media: what are you waiting for?

In the fury of some last minute holiday shopping yesterday, I received an interesting google alert in my inbox that I thought I’d share.  This alert on “conversational marketing” displayed an article by Heidi Cohen in ClickZ entitled, “Tis the Season to be Social: Five Ways to Tap into Social Shopping.”  In the article, Heidi made reference to a statistic that I find fascinating. 

According to internet information provider, comScore, October 2007 results indicate that “roughly one of every seven minutes spent online is in conversational media (social media and blogs); specifically, conversational media sites average 12.4 minutes per usage day out of the 86 minutes spent on the Internet in total.”   Wow.  Stats like these are clear indication of the increasing time consumers (and, yes, our potential customers)are spending on social media and blog sites.   Does your online marketing strategy take such telling statistics into consideration and incorporate social media? 

If you are considering launching some form of a social media campaign, don’t be intimidated.   Start by taking a close look at your customers and empowering them to advocate for you.  As an example, take a look at a great case published on MarketingProfs.com featuring the Georgia Acquarium.  Officials at GA relied on existing customer content (including photos and personal stories shared on a group on Flickr) to serve as a powerful endorsement tool on their website.   Using social media, the GA was able to find their existing advocates, bring them together in a central location, and empower them to do the marketing.



Users Add Value

With all this talk about web 2.0 and conversational marketing, I can’t help but to think about Marshall McLuhan who I read about in my college communication classes (I know, I’m dating myself.) According to McLuhan, “we shape our tools and they in turn shape us.” In the short time that I’ve been reading and writing blogs, I feel like an entire new way of writing and communication has opened for me.

It reminds me of the excitement I felt when the first web browser (netscape) was installed on my computer at work in the early 90’s, and when I first started learning html, web site design and development. The changes that have been happening over the years have continued to compel me. Now, more then ever, I feel as if I’m being shaped again. This time by web 2.0.

I find myself reading all about blogs, and how they can be best used in businesses. I started reading an excellent book this past weekend, “Naked Coversations: how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers”, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

A great quote from the book- “…we are now convinced that blogging is a tool of a very significant revolution, one that has become virtually unstoppable, something that shifts the balance of relationships, between companies and the communities in which they operate.”

Blogs, wikis and podcasts are shaping how we communicate. The opportunities to make ourselves heard are more accessible than ever before. And as Tim O’Reilly says, the cardinal rule about web 2.0 is “Users Add Value.” Watch the short video below.

Pensando sobre informatica y cosas varias

Mi computador anda tan lento que parece que hay que rezarle a Cristo que se mueva. Se queda pegado al partir, se pega al correr dos programas, al salvar un documento, es terrible. Es una molestia brutal que me tiene tonto. Sé que el motivo es Windows Vista, el sistema operativo más inoperante desde la invención de los PCs. Tengo claro que es slowpoke, pero el PC es de din y la licencia es original, así que no debo cambiarme. Busqué tutoriales para sacarle partido y que trabaje un poco más rápido, pero la totalidad son para optimización de windows 7 y no hay ninguna cosa de Windows Vista. Creo que voy a tener que borrar todo y pasarme al lado pirata de la fuerza, mi billetera no es tan grande como para pagar la licencia legitima.

Ahora que menciono Internet, quiero enfatizar que estoy chato de tener que usar antivirus. Primero porque los anvirus gratuito no son los mas avanzados, son pruebas. Segundo porque hacen que el equipo se ponga lento, y tercero porque te terminas infectando igual. Tampoco voy a usar Linux, es inutil para alguien que trabaja, así que ademas de instalar un anvirus gratuito no hay más que pueda hacer para evitar problemas.

When More isn't Always Better: Assessing the Effectiveness of Your Social Media Spaces

Blogger, Rich Brooks, raises many good points in his recent post, Social Media Marketing: Are You Spread to Thin?

Brooks suggests that with the influx of social media spaces that companies may feel they need online presences everywhere. “If social media is keeping you from doing your job, it’s time to re-evaluate.”

These days many companies are using feeds to publish to multiple locations. For instance, when I publish this post it will automatically show up on the wall of our Facebook Fan page by importing the rss feed to notes, it will also appear as a tweet on a twitter facebook tab by using involver , and by using the WordTwit plugin for WordPress blogs it will post to our twitter page.   If you want to publish to substantially more locations than these you can use a service such as ping.fim where over 40 social sites can be updated at once.

As appealing as that is the question has more to do with which of these sites makes good business sense for you and your customers. Rich Brooks says the way to determine the right answer begins with business goals. Good old fashioned, Business 101. Look at your top 2 or 3 business goals, and then look at your social media activities. “If your Flickr account isn’t helping you reach your goals, drop it like a hot potato…If your podcast isn’t driving traffic to your Web site, put it on hiatus. Ditto with YouTube, your blog, or any other site you may be active on.”

More isn’t always better. But how do you know for sure which are working for you? Brooks says, “By looking at your site traffic you can determine where your best traffic is coming from, be it Twitter, Facebook or your blog. You may also be able to determine… from the people buying from you, or at least filling out your contact forms for more information.”

How do you assess the effectiveness of your social media spaces? Have you changed your focus over time?
photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg’s photostream

Chrome, Buzz and Bing: The New(er) Kids on the Block

With so much to keep up with in social media and technology these days we asked Weber Media Partner, Jackie Mosher, to tell us what she’s learned about some of the newer kids on the block–Google’s web browser, Chrome, and their social media venture, Buzz, and Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

DH: What are your impressions of Google’s new browser, Chrome?

JM: Fast! Based on my experience, it is markedly faster than Internet Explorer.

DH: Are you able to do everything that you can with other browsers?

JM: Chrome isn’t able to run all web applications. For example, with Chrome I can run a Blackboard program and flash programs like Hulu’s video player. However, I can’t view a Webex meeting or log into a demo program.

DH: What do you think about Chrome’s approach as a cloud computing operating system?

JM: There are a lot of network effects that will make this transition hard for people since most workplaces rely on Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Excel, and as a result they can’t unilaterally make the decision to switch over to Google’s free cloud versions of these programs. That being said, Chrome’s cloud computing OS is a key signal of where Google wants to go this decade, and there’s a lot of potential for cloud-based computing. It’s much faster, and much cheaper!

DH: Are there particular features you like about Chrome?

JM: I like what you can do with tabs. You can drag a tab away from the current window and into a new window which is something Internet Explorer and Firefox can’t do. Also when you open a new tab in Chrome it shows a thumbnail or list view of your most visited sites. You can customize themes, similar to Gmail and iGoogle’s homepage. This allows users to show off their individuality. and it can be changed as often as you change a Facebook profile picture, Twitter background or ringtone.

DH: What are your immediate impressions of Buzz?

JM: Buzz is integrated with Gmail and I like that you can get to it easily from the left-hand navigation whenever you’re logged in to your email account.

DH: How flexible is Buzz in terms of integrating with Twitter and Facebook?

JM: You can connect Buzz to your Twitter feed easily, but even though it only takes a few steps, I’ve noticed that my tweets don’t instantaneously appear in my Buzz feed. In one instance, there was a five hour delay. I’ve found connecting it to your Facebook status to be much harder.

DH: Are there any inconveniences associated with using Buzz?

JM: Buzz is linked to Gmail so you need a Gmail account to join.

DH: What’s it like following people on Buzz?

JM: You can easily use your existing contacts and can search for people to follow. When it comes to businesses, I quickly found media sources such as NPR, New York Times and Boston Globe but noticed that none of the popular mall clothing stores have any official presences yet, whereas they have strong presences on Facebook.

DH: Are there any features in particular that you like about Buzz?

JM: Photo sharing is very easy. You can upload photos directly, or link to your accounts on Picasa and Tumblr. Pictures appear as thumbnails in the Buzz feed, and you can either expand the post to see the full size image, or click on the image to see it appear full size in a separate window. Also, I like the mobile phone features which are similar to Foursquare where you can tag your location and your friends can see where you are. You can see all the public buzz near your location.

DH: Last but not least–what do you think about Bing?

JM: For one thing, its moved up the search engine rather quickly; it’s now the #3 search engine, following Google and Yahoo. There’s been some discussion about Microsoft being in talks with Apple to make Bing the default search engine on iPhones.

DH: How would you describe the look and feel of Bing?

JM: It’s the complete antithesis of Google’s simple white screen, with alternating colorful home page photos – today its of Bora Bora. The search results are fairly similar to Google: news on the top, blogs at the bottom. Bing’s results feature more images and videos and don’t have sponsored links. In some test searches I did comparing Bing and Google, Bing actually turned up more results. When I searched on “oscars 2010” Bing found 39,500,000 results compared to Google’s 15,400,000.

DH: Are there particular features that you like about Bing?

JM: A popular feature of Bing is video previews–if you hover over the video images that appear in the search results, you get a preview of the video with sound. Bing’s also known as a great restaurant search engine. Wired magazine pointed out that unlike Google, Bing crawls listings at review services such as Yelp.com and CitySearch. It summarizes the results and displays a scorecard for each, and rates service, drinks, food wait time, and lunch offerings. Bing’s also very helpful searching for travel deals.

DH: All in all, how do you think Bing will compete with Google?

JM: With Bing’s niche competencies and with other search engines gaining prominence for their unique niches, too, Bing might not be the symbol of an all-out Google war, but instead a war of attrition, slowly chipping away at Google’s impressive lead in the search engine category.

DH: Jackie, thank you for sharing your impressions.

Jackie also recommended the following links to learn more about Chrome, Buzz and Bing:

What is Google Chrome

Google Chrome & Privacy – Browsers, Privacy and You

Inside Chrome: The Secret Project to Crush IE and Remake the Web

Google Buzz

Facebook Must Tell Google to Buzz-Off (Or Else)

Google tweaks Buzz privacy settings

Top Ten Ways to Fix Google Buzz

Google Buzz: 5 Opportunities for Small Businesses

Cool Search Engines That Are Not Google
photo credit: flickr Stuck in Customs’

Getting the most out of twitter search

If you’ve become a regular tweeter then you’ve become adept at writing messages with 140 characters, and using a url shortener (e.g. bit.ly, tinyurl) to include links with lengthy urls. When it comes to searching on twitter it’s likely that you search for people and businesses, and topics of interest to you. But how advanced are your searches?

Twitter’s advanced search page provides many options, tweets based on: words, people, places, dates, attitudes, and other–which include containing links and retweets. To simplify searching on twitter you can also add it to internet explorer or firefox.  A few good twitter search engines include: Tweetscan, Trendistic and Twitterfall.

What twitter search tips do you have?

The Passport to a Well-Planned Social Media Journey

Chris Brogan is the quintessential trust agent for social media. If you’ve already read Trust Agents, the book he co-authored with Julien Smith, you’re well-versed in the characteristics—people who humanize the Web, understand the systems and how to make their own game, and who connect and build fluid relationships.

Chris Brogan’s new book, Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online*, is a collection of posts that originally appeared on his blog, which he has since updated and edited. I can attest to the fact that having it in a nicely bound book with the new additions will serve you well (and besides it has such a cool cover!) What he accomplishes so perfectly in this book is tackling the discussions about social media tools and social networking, and coming at them from multiple directions. As you read the book, you’ll undoubtably entrust Chris Brogan with taking you on a social media journey, and as a result, you’ll feel more confident about the tools you’re currently using and the ones you decide to pursue.

Social Media 101, goes well beyond the usual discussions of Facebook, Twitter, blogs. LinkedIn. MySpace, Flickr and Digg.  Brogan explores rich media–audio, video, video hosting, and live video, browsers, internet , social bookmarking, IM aggregator applications, blogging platforms–home base blogs and mobile blogging, listening tools, shared documents, collaboration, and screencasts.

Many of the pieces are literally chock-full of useful information and tips e.g. 50 ways, 100 tactics, 5 moves, 50 steps. He references and includes links to bloggers and websites you may never come across on your own, but you’ll be happy you took the time (as I am) to stop and visit those sites.

Chris Brogan writes about uses of social media in business and addresses blogging policies, social media strategies, marketing, and how to keep communities alive with community building. He offers lists of topics for blogs, and considerations for blog design. While he does a great job highlighting issues for business/industries generically, he also singles out freelancers, entertainers, real estate, entrepreneurs, hotels, and musicians.

Brogan suggests we build accounts on various web platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) because as he says they serve like “passports” and are needed to visit virtual places. I think you’ll find in addition to your passport you’ll want to take your copy of Social Media 101 with you, which will prove to be a great itinerary plotted out by one of the most trusted travel agents around.
* DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION Special thanks to John Wiley & Sons for providing a review copy of Social Media 101 for this blog post. Wiley books are available at your local bookstore or by calling 1-800-225-5945.

How to Succeed in 4G Wireless (With Really Trying!)

Scott Snyder author of The New World of Wireless: How to Compete in the 4G Revolution knows that many of us are still getting up to speed on our 3G phones but since technology is continuing to move at rapid speed he suggests that we shouldn’t get too complacent—as he says, “Buzz is already starting to develop around 4G wireless.”

What’s the difference between 3G and 4G? According to Snyder, “3G networks were really about better technology to deliver more of the same, 4G networks are about new technology coupled with a transformation in how people use wireless, moving control to the user.”  Scott calls this the “Digital Swarm.”

In order to succeed in the Digital Swarm he identifies 10 common success factors which can help your business adapt and win:

1. Wireless savvy/literacy: The percentage of employees who own latest-generation wireless devices and subscribe to latest-generation wireless services

2. Wireless broadband access: The penetration of wireless broadband among employees for accessing work applications

3. Wireless innovation: The percentage of new products and services that leverage wireless as an enabler or delivery medium

4. Organizational authority: The extent to which decision-making authority in the organization is distributed (peer-to-peer) versus centralized (hierarchical)

5. Wireless ecosystem: The overall percentage of employees, customers, partners, and vendors who actively connect, communicate, and transact with each other through a wireless network

6. Wireless technology: The rate at which wireless technology and applications are updated/refreshed with the latest versions

7. Wireless content: The percentage of your organization’s content that is geared toward an immersive wireless experience

8. Wireless interconnectedness: The level of seamless interconnectivity between your wireless users and your organization’s other networks

9. Wireless mass collaboration: The extent to which the organization uses text messaging, IM, blogs, and wikis accessed via wireless handhelds to communicate and organize initiatives

10. Wireless social networking: The extent to which your employees use wireless for social networking to accomplish higher-level goals beyond just work (relationship building, charity, entertainment)

How is your business using wireless technology? Will you be ready for yet another transformation?

Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix

Marketing Sherpa reports in their recent chart, Social Marketers Preparing for the Challenges Ahead, that key performance indicators such as ROI and conversions have become increasingly more important challenges for marketers.

Sergio Balegno, Marketing Sherpa Research Director, writes, “Two years ago, a popular marketing myth was that ROI for social media programs could not be easily measured. Marketers have dispelled this myth…the return on social marketing invest is exceptionally high.”

He further suggests that marketers are learning that social media programs are more effective when they are strategically integrated into the marketing mix versus approaching them as standalone tactics.

Let’s face it anyone can create a Facebook and Twitter page, and in fact, more and more businesses have jumped on the bandwagon in recent months. But what some have failed to recognize is that not only do those pages need to be maintained with relevant, worthwhile content and reflect well on the company but more importantly they need to engage fans and followers and provide what I like to think of as a curiosity factor—who you are and what you’re doing.

If our curiosity isn’t peaked, and if we aren’t asked to identify our needs and how a business can fulfill them, then social media won’t be operating at full capacity. As we know once we make that click onto a website we don’t want to have to do guesswork. We want to know what we can about a business, how long they’ve been operating, what their key attributes are, who we can expect to hear from when we make an inquiry and ultimately who we will be working with.  Impressions are made as soon as we make that first click.

Use them well.

Google Continues to Create Waves

Apple wasn’t the only company who held my attention last week. I was reading Ken Auletta’s book, Googled: The  End of the World as We Know It, and was intrigued by the  innumerable ways Google has been (and continues to be) a “wave maker.”  As Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, says, “The Internet makes information available. Google makes information accessible.”

Auletta provides a great overview of how the company has evolved over the years. You probably know yourself that somewhere along the way Google slipped into your lexicon. Ultimately it became such a frequently used verb that it was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2006 and to the Merrian-Webster Collegiate Dictionary one month later.

Google is creating new ways for us to access information every day. One of the best ways I’ve found to keep up with the myriad of changes is to read their official blog and checking the posts on the many other blogs they publish regularly. In fact, if you haven’t checked out Google’s options lately to see what else they’ve been up to it’s a good page to visit from time to time so you don’t miss all that they’re up to.

Here are a few recent activities of Google’s I learned about by reading their blogs:

1. In the past few weeks, Google’s Geo Team has done some great work helping with the relief efforts in Haiti using their mapping tools and publishing updated satellite imagery in Google Earth and Google Maps.

2. Google worked with PicApp to add 10 million high quality stock images from stock imagery repositories such as Getty Images. The service and use of the images is free.

3. Google added  click to call phone numbers in mobile ads.

You may also enjoy the video below which provides a great history of the company.

How has Google caught your attention over the years or more recently?

Tips for Engaging Your Social Network Followers

J.J. McCorvey writes in “How to Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business,” Inc. Magazine January 25, 2010 issue, “Marketing through social networks isn’t as much about selling your product, as it is about engaging your followers.”

How do you know if you’re engaging your social network fans and followers? The facts. Nothing but the facts!

When it comes to Facebook for example, you can use the Insights tool to analyze your page views, the demographics of your fans, and the number of people who view (or stop viewing) your News Feed posts. If you’re considering ads on Facebook you can more effectively target your demographics.

This past week there’s been considerable interest in Facebook’s new Post Insights product which lets page administrators find out how many impressions each story on their Page receives and what percentage of those impressions result in action (likes, comments or clicks). But unless you have a page with more than 10K fans you won’t be able to see information broken down by posts. While small businesses might lament that this feature isn’t available to them it shouldn’t be too much cause for distraction. Work with what you know.

Julie Waite’s recent post, “Growing Your List Via Social Media & Blogs” makes a case for expanding your reach with your existing Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Blog commenters who are already connecting with your company and brand. Instead of treating each of these as fragmented groups why not use a more integrated approach and work on a communications strategy which includes all of these messages?

Are your twitter followers fans of your Facebook page? Are they reading your blog? Do they know you have an email newsletter? While social networks aren’t about selling your product but about engaging your followers, it’s largely up to you to make them aware of what you’re communicating by tying the presences together and avoiding social media disconnects. A new addition worth checking out is the NutshellMail Facebook application which lets fans opt-in to receive emails that highlight recent content from your page.

Addendum: Oh, and in case you were wondering, Weber Media Partners does have presences on Twitter, Facebook as well as a thought-provoking quarterly email newsletter which you can also sign-up to be on our mailing list—so be sure to follow, fan, and sign-up.