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Posts from August 2012

August 28, 2012

Power to the Online People

Where were you when news of the tsunami hit Japan in 2011? How about when Michael Jackson died? Probably online, according to many experts who claim that social media has become the main media source for hundreds of millions of people. Not just in the U.S., either; Facebook alone has more than 900 million users spread across the globe as of 2012. Other social media giants like Twitter have facilitated revolution against unjust leaders and warned people of impending natural disaster. In fact, so many people regularly interact online that if the Internet were a nation, it would exceed the Americas, Europe and the Middle East combined in population. No wonder more than 13 million members of the online community used Reddit and other media platforms to protest SOPA, a proposed Internet censorship bill. Keep this graphic in mind next time you log on, because knowledge is power — and a little knowledge goes a long way in the Internet Age.

Created by: Open-site.org

Power To The Online People

Tips for Taking Your Marketing Campaign Mobile

When you are running a business, especially a small business, it is absolutely vital for you to market yourself. As it can be extremely expensive to send out postcards, mailers or advertise in newspapers, magazines, on television and on the radio, it is suggested that internet and mobile advertising be used as much as possible. If you are already online and taking advantage of free social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus, taking your campaign mobile is relatively simple.  Laptop phone tablet  Connection

 SMS, or short message service, is the acronym for what most people call text messaging. This form of marketing on a cell phone has become much more prevalent in the marketing community for the past 12 or so years. When you are running any online marketing campaign, your goal is conversions. For every conversion you get, the higher payout you will receive on an affiliate network and the more traffic your business will also receive. As most people read their text messages in less than five minutes, mobile marketing has a much higher conversion rate than most email marketing or social advertising ever could. 

Short message service marketing is usually ran one of two ways, by short codes or by email. When running a short code message service, you, the business owner, or your marketing director will come up with a short call to action. You will then send that message to a short code that will act as the liaison between you and your customer base. The code will send your message to everyone on your marketing list and then report your conversion rate. You can usually view your analytics on how well everything has converted on a separate webpage or the liaison company will usually send you a weekly reported email to inform you of your marketing campaigns growth and progress. 

Another way SMS can be used is through an email marketing platform. Let us assume you already have a weekly or monthly newsletter. Be sure on that page, there is a space for customers to send in their phone number. If their number is already on file, when you send out your newsletter, you can also have text notification set up. This can also be used to inform them of upcoming deals, coupons, late or early business hours and special promotions. You can send your short, call to action to an email liaison company that can send everything out to your clientele if you are unaware of how to make your call to action clear and concise. 

Mobile marketing is one of the best new ways to market your business. Not only is it inexpensive, often times, free, but it is highly accessible with great conversion rates. 

Sam is a blogger with a background in Internet marketing. His latest endeavor has been to learn how to build an iPhone app and this is a skill he now finds to be very marketable.

 

Is Social Media the New PR?

Social Media and terms like SEO are relatively new to most individuals, and this includes the business world. The novelty of these ideas create trepidation with many executives and managers to be weary of the effectiveness of these resources. The truth is that having a social presence can really help your company, whether it is a large publicly traded company or a local start up. You have the ability to act as a Marketing Communications Specialist, and as is often seen now, your own PR firm. Social media gives you complete control over your branding efforts, and can in many ways make it easier. Most of this comes from the fact that having a social presence makes companies more “human” and relatable, and is slowly becoming the new form of PR.


Branding

This is maybe the most important aspect of social media, especially as it relates to PR. For decades, businesses you PR, either outsourced or internally, to take care of branding and public image. It was extremely effective, and traditional PR firms still thrive. PR firms also use social media campaigns to help companies image. A lot of this is now referred to as internet marketing, but the idea is the same; how to use online and social resources to promote a company. When your business has social accounts, you can directly control every message that comes out, as well as send that message out more frequently. By incorporating social media, your branding also takes another step, and that is connecting on a human level with customers. You can directly respond to messages, share information about the company that might not be suitable for a commercial, etc. Your audience will see you less as a company selling a service or product, but rather someone they can see putting regular content out like every other social user.

Customer Service

This is something that is overlooked, but customer service has the potential to improve with the use of social media as well. While you can’t respond to every question or concern, there are many circumstances where businesses have resolved issues over Twitter or another outlet. People feel companies that have a social presence take more personal accountability because they open themselves up to public scrutiny. If you’re a good company, the scrutiny won’t bother you, but the perception of accountability will attract customers. Along with customer service, companies use these platforms to promote specials and deals. For instance, cable providers like DirecTV use their Twitter accounts to promote specials, ask the public if they are excited about upcoming shows (that’s right, the exact same shows the provide!), and it culminates in a conversation between company and customer; a valuable connection.

Affordability of Service

These social accounts are free, and unless you are trying to get paid promotion, your accounts stay free. This is a huge benefit to small companies that might not be able to pay for or hire a PR specialist. By having access to the online resources, you can do your own PR for little cost to you. It is important, however, to pay attention to best practices, as you don’t want to hurt your social campaigns. But being a small company, you can really tap into local networks, followers, etc., and really build a solid following. In turn, your presence goes up, and that converts to business.

So in  many ways, Social Media is standing in as PR for many businesses. You will see this more in smaller businesses, but it is a trend that is growing. Having complete control over your companies image while being able to send out multiple messages is priceless for any group. There are certain limitations, but nothing that a little extra work on your social outreach can’t remedy. If you utilize these tools appropriately, you’ll be on your way to growing a more solid customer base, while always being in contact with a larger potential audience.

Jordan Mendys is a social media and SEO blogger, and is currently working on his Masters in Film and Video. He lives with his wife in North Carolina.

August 14, 2012

How a recent college grad gets hired in the 21st century

You probably don’t need me to tell you how hard it is to find a decent job right now. Times are tough for anyone looking for employment, but I’d say that the unemployment crunch has been particularly hard on recent college graduates trying to get their feet wet with an entry level position. It’s hard for a young person to prove their worth to potential employers when they have little experience to show it.

At a time when literally millions of qualified young men and women are looking for work, your chances of finding a job are only as good as you make them. In this writer’s opinion, one of the best ways to improve your chances with potential employers is by optimizing your presence online. The web is usually the first resource HR reps turn to when they receive a job application, so why not ensure that they like what they see when they look you up?

Let’s take a look at some ways you can leverage your online reputation to get hired.

The online shift from college student to young professional

Before you begin the search for a career-focused job, you’ve got to plan your transition from the type of online presence you maintained in college to the one that you’d want your employer to see. In other words, you want to shift your focus from Facebook friends to LinkedIn connections.

This shift should start with the erasure or containment of all the embarrassing content you’ve shared or been a part of online. If you advertised your college exploits on your Facebook profile for all to see—and who of us in our generation didn’t—it’s time that you did something about it. You should either amp up your privacy settings to the maximum, or delete those damning images/posts all together. Imagine if your potential employer Googled your name and one of the first things they came across was a photo of you doing something ridiculous at a college party you attended years ago.

Yeah, you don’t want that.

Cultivating a professional online presence

Once you’ve sectioned off the youthful digressions captured on your social networks, it’s time to focus on the professional networks where you’ll now be spending the bulk of your time. Services like LinkedIn are instrumental in connecting you with influential professionals who could help you get a leg up in an industry, even if it’s a field experiencing a hiring slump.

On services like Facebook, you tend to befriend people who you socialize with in real life, members of your immediate family, and friends of friends. This isn’t the way you make connections on professional networks. You have to take risks on professional networking services like LinkedIn, because you won’t get anywhere without putting yourself out there.

You’ll essentially be pitching your skills and asking industry questions to people much better connected than you are. Sending messages to professionals who you don’t know; putting out feelers to HR reps in fields that interest you; connecting with young people in entry level positions to ask for their advice. You have nothing to lose by contacting these people, you might ask well take the chance to seek their guidance and advice.

The 21st century resume

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the importance of the resume. Your resume is still the most important tool in your quest for employment, but that’s not to say that it couldn’t benefit from a 21st century upgrade. Your resume should be tied with your online presence. In addition to all your professional qualifications, you should list your email, Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile, and even your blog (if you have one). That way you can frame how your potential employers experience your online persona. They won’t have to Google your information, because you’ve already provided everything they want to see up front.

How else would you recommend using the web to optimize your employment opportunities?

Melissa Miller spent many years working odd jobs like street pantomime and burro grooming before finally admitting it was time to get her associate degree. Now she has sworn her life to helping others do the same by explaining the often tricky world of online education. Direct any questions or comments to melissamiller831@gmail.com.

August 13, 2012

SEO and PR: Where is the line drawn?

In this modern world Google rules all and functions as a Yellow Pages, Washington Post and National Enquirer all rolled into one. To this end, some companies have fired their public relations agency in favour of using precocious SEO firms to boost their presence on Google, carefully positioning glorifying articles all over the web which are designed to bolster their brand as well as making them easier to find in a search engine. In response, PR companies are frantically training themselves in search marketing, hoping that optimizing their current content for the Google generation will future-proof their business.

If you ask us, both sides are missing the point. They are two very different beasts with their own rules and their own agenda, which happen to creep into each other’s territory every now and again. To revisit a metaphor from the previous paragraph, you wouldn’t publish an article in the Yellow Pages refuting your company’s alleged connection with the tobacco industry, nor would you use the pages of the Washington Post to advertise your services as a plumber. Also mentioned above, SEO is a marketing tool and is designed to get you found by the people who need your product or service, keeping you one step ahead of your competitors. PR assumes that the audience is already familiar with your brand but need reassurance that you are trustworthy.

This may all sound like Promotion 101, but stripping back the layers to reveal each underlying purpose is crucial to keeping the two factions separate. It is when you start to examine the technicalities that the lines start to blur. Achieving a high SEO ranking requires a constant supply of fresh content from reputable sites,containing relevant keywords and links to your home page. Often the actual content value is negligible as long as it fulfils the technical requirements, and is most importantly published as widely as possible. The rules are equally important within the confines of your own website, where meta-tags need to be all present and correct; if you play by these rules, Google will decide that it likes you and – sort of like the head cheerleader at high school – will invite you to more parties, placing you at the top of relevant searches and name-dropping you in front of the popular kids.

Conversely, when charged with promoting the latest positive news about a business or having to temper some negative press, PR firms will send press releases to relevant publications, many of which are now either purely online or have very popular online counterparts. These articles differ from SEO-focussed pieces because the content is designed to be read by humans, with the intention of building brand awareness and consumer confidence. As you may have guessed, these articles do have an impact on SEO but the organic value is insignificant; to make them truly effective for search marketing would require compromising of the content which would throw the PR value out of the window.

So we see a tug-of-war emerging, where the marketing department are pulling hard to grab hold of the company’s public image, but PR are digging their feet into the mud to stop it falling into the wrong hands. To go back to our initial question, where is the line drawn? Well it depends on your company. If you’re a behemoth, make sure you have both and put them on tight leashes, or be a pioneer and try to get them working in harmony. If you can’t afford to have your cake and eat it then you must take a long hard look in the mirror. Put simply, if business is slow get SEO, and if your MD likes babes and fast cars, call the PRs.

Zac is freelance writer who's worked in search marketing and social media for five years across a range of sectors from online dating and film distribution to health and fitness. 
 

 

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