Archive for March, 2012

With over 8 million members, StumbleUpon is a web 2.0 community site that discovers great websites and matches them to your interests. Its features allow users to rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to you using social-networking. StumbleUpon is a great place to discover new interesting articles, useful apps and funny videos. Aside from that, StumbleUpon has the potential to get new visitor traffic and generate some new fans. Many website owners and bloggers encourage the sharing of their articles to StumbleUpon in hopes of driving traffic to their sites. StumbleUpon can be a very powerful tool; when used correctly, some stumblers have garnered up to several thousand hits on a single post, in a single day.

If your looking to maximize results from StumbleUpon with minimal effort check out the tips and video below that cover how to use StumbleUpon effectively.

8  Great StumbleUpon Tips To Maximize Your Web Result

1. Add A Real Photo – Add a photo to reveal that you’re a real person. This is a straightforward task and one of the simplest things to do. Prove you’re a real person and people will more likely follow you. On the top right bar click ‘Settings’ and on the page that loads, click the ‘Profile Picture’ tab. 

2. Write A Catching Intro – The intro which is the spot next to your photo is another important addition. A new visitor who lands on your page will see this next to your photo which will help with credibility and proves you have a blog. Make sure to include links and apply HTML. For instance you can use the tag to separate all links from the actual bio. That way you make them more visible and you add a neat look to the whole intro. Keep in mind that using keywords as your anchor text won’t work, so just go with your blog name.

3. Take Advantage Of The Share Feature -The share feature is a good way to get more likes on your content which gives your content higher priority. “Sharing” can be done in two ways – via the StumbleUpon toolbar, by clicking “Share” and choosing the stumblers you want to share your content with or through the “Your favorites” page. After having someone followed on StumbleUpon a check-box “accept shares to my toolbar” below the “Follow” button appears. Sharing works reciprocally only. Even if you have checked the box, you won’t be able to see the other person’s shares unless he also accepts your shares and vice versa.

4. Get People To Follow You -Getting more followers on StumbleUpon isn’t as easy. Quality content is the single most important reason why people follow you. Problem is that in order to click the “Follow” button, people first need to find you. That can hardly happen simply by making a few stumbles. First place to focus your efforts is your blog and more specifically the “About” page. Believe it or not, the “About” page is one of the most visited places in a blog, so you’ll get plenty of visibility. My second approach is TwitterEvery now and then I’m posting a tweet along the lines of “Are you a StumbleUpon user? Check out my favorites!” Following others and getting them to follow back is another powerful technique. Unlike Twitter, StumbleUpon isn’t really about building relationships and engaging with others, so I don’t see a problem with the strategy.

5. Link to Other Bloggers Who Use StumbleUpon – If anyone links back to you, stumble that post. And be gracious when other people Stumble your pages and content. Say thank you! Positive and genuine interactions, partnerships and content are what give StumbleUpon and other social networking tools power.

6. Track Your StumbleUpon Favorites – It’s important when Stumbling your own website content to track and test which pages get the most attention. Then you know how to create specific content to StumbleUpon users.

7. Don’t Add Stumble Upon Buttons To Your Site - Social sharing buttons and widgets are great: they help your visitors to submit your stories fast to the social and bookmarking sites of their choice. But did you know that onsite SU buttons could be detrimental? StumbleUpon wants you to use the toolbar rather than using special widgets that “stumble” automatically. Simply use the toolbar on a regular basis, clicking I-like-it at any page other members would like to stumble upon. 

8. Keep a Good Follow / Followers Ratio – There is a limit of how many people you can followUnlike Twitter, that limit is fixed, currently at 500 followers. So in order to apply the ‘follow-back’ strategy, you will need to know who to stop following. I first unfollow the least active users. Everyone who hasn’t stumbled (again don’t confuse ‘stumbled’ with hasn’t been online) since more than five days is being unfollowed. After I’ve done that, I go through every page and open all profiles to find stumblers with similarity meter, showing less than 20%. They get unfollowed as well. Then I start unfollowing, folks who aren’t following back.

I hope that the above tips help you to make your Stumbleupon experience a better one and further contribute to the community.

Let us know about your experience of using stumbleupon in the comments.

Thank you for reading this blog.  If you have any questions or suggestions contact me.

Moderator: Mitch Germann (@MCG5) Vice President @EdelmanDigital, Seattle

Daniel Hour (@DHourUW) Manager of New Media & Recruiting Services @UWAthletics

Jeff Richards (@JeffRichardsSea) Director of Marketing @Seahawks and @soundersfc

Gregg Greene (@RealGregg) Director of Marketing @Mariners

Carrie Krueger (@carriekrueger) Director of Communication @seattlestorm

“Twitter is kind of like being at a party – the first and most important thing is to listen.” Gregg Greene, Director of Marketing with the Mariners, knows that in order to reach your customers and fans, you need to be aware of how they use social media to interact with your business. Your brand has a unique opportunity in the social media age to reach out directly to consumers through various digital media sources. Taking the approach of listening and then responding will not only meet your audience’s needs but will engage them in a way that can build loyalty and word-of-mouth growth. Be cautious of who your brand ambassadors are. When making posts or responding on social media, be fully aware that “Once it’s out there, even if you delete it later, it doesn’t fully go away,” advised Gregg.

A “Twitter fit” Carrie Krueger advises, should be handled right away and with a personal touch. If a fan is at your event and has a bad experience, it’s quite likely they will quickly be vocal about it on Twitter right in that moment. If you have a brand ambassador monitoring your feed and interacting with attendees, you can actually reach that fan and offer a solution immediately. “It’s important to be responsible and proactive, it helps keep people engaged,” said Carrie. Also, the proactive approach will impress your existing customers and you’re more likely to create brand evangelists because of your quick and thoughtful solutions.

As these sports marketing pros use social media to reach out to their audience, they are keenly aware of the impact they may or may not be having through their online interactions. When Mitch Germann, Vice President at Edelman Digital asked about the shift in marketing from traditional media to digital media, Gregg Green said, “Yes, we are shifting from traditional to digital media. The Mariners were the first team in the nation to have a website, the first team to broadcast online, and the very first team to sell game tickets online.”

The Mariners organization was quite innovative when compared to its peers in being willing to utilize digital media in its infancy. Gregg shared a great story about the first person to purchase the very first online ticket for a Mariners game. After the transaction was complete, Ticketmaster called the purchaser to ask what had made the individual want to buy their ticket online. The purchaser’s response? “I don’t like talking to people on the phone and I don’t like talking to you!” … and he hung up!

Digital media is providing many solutions for customers on many levels! Another fun idea the Mariners now offer during games is their @MarinersDJ Twitter handle that allows fans to send song requests to be played at breaks during home games. It’s free, easy to use, and encourages the fans to stay engaged! Striving for great concepts that you can utilize within your brand is key to standing out and staying relevant.

“Your branding through social media should be measured through a dollars and cents analytic,” advised Jeff Richards. “However you do that, it’s important.” Find out what your audience is and is not responding to and revise tactics accordingly. If certain posts aren’t getting much attention or very many “likes” — try a different strategy. Jeff is working on an idea to begin having the Seahawks and Sounders players make announcements through digital media and have them involved in breaking news to their fans. He believes that this select touch will help their organizations reach their audience on a personal level and will engage them as well.

Daniel Hour believes that the University of Washington’s website is different from many other collegiate websites in the nation. The focus is to use recruiting content as the base makeup of UW’s online presence. They want to reach out to the best student athletes in the nation and believe that by merging content to reach fans, as well as those athletes, they are able to effectively serve the UW’s sports programs.

As a large organization, Daniel also believes that when engaging with fans through social media, it’s important to maintain the voice of the “brand” and not the brand ambassadors personally. This has helped them stay focused on proper content and abide by the written policy UW has regarding the use of social media for its organization.

In all, these pros feel it’s important to add some “color” to tweets, have fun engaging your fans and followers, and pay attention to your content. Brand loyalty can grow tenfold using great and engaging content strategy and social media can bring a personal touch to your business or organization. Whether you are a sole entrepreneur, a medium- or large-sized company, or a giant organization — utilizing social media platforms to engage with your customers can have a brand-building impact that will have lasting results.

As a small business owner, I am finding that incorporating my personality into my social media outreach greatly benefits me in the same way that large organizations benefit from adding a personal touch to their brand interaction with fans and followers. In this game of life, though we interact via computers to a large extent, people are still human and crave personable interaction. I have found Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to be a conversational “at bat” I hit out into the virtual park and bring into home plate with an eventual in-person exchange.

It was a pleasure listening to these local sports marketing authorities talk about their social media game plan. I am happy to be not only a fan, but also a social media player.

Special thanks to Jill Hashimoto, Safeco Director of Private Event Sales & Marketing and the the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce for hosting this sports marketing social media event!

~written by Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography ~ Corporate & Special Event Photographer, Nationwide. http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

About trcouvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & head shots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

World Ventures is excited to inform us that there will be a second $69 cruise posted today that will depart from the United States. The trip will be released this afternoon at 4 p.m. CST/ 2:00 PM PST.

If you want to book this cruise, be sure to log in up to 30 minutes early and then go to the “Cruises” page on the DreamTrips banners page. If you’re already logged in, you’ll see the trip when it’s posted after refreshing the page (instructions can be found below). It normally takes about hour to an hour and a half for a $69 cruise to sell out, so there’s no need to worry about booking the cruise at immediately at 4 p.m.!

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Thank you,

VMS Travel Staff
206-372-1177

The social-powered Web browsing service StumbleUpon now claims to drive more than half of all social media referral traffic in the U.S., according to new data from StatCounter.

Is it true? Is it possible this lesser-known service, which helps users discover Web pages based on their interests and other people’s recommendations, has dethroned Facebook and Twitter?

All we really know from the data is that StumbleUpon drives most of the social media traffic to the 3 million websites that use StatCounter for their Web analytics.

StatCounter is a free service that some website owners install to track relatively simple data about the number of visits. Most news organizations and large websites use more detailed analytics services like Google Analytics or Omniture.

We don’t know who exactly the 3 million sites using StatCounter are (there’s no overview on the site), but we can assume they don’t include a representative sample of mainstream content publishers. And because StatCounter’s data is not weighted to represent news sites or the Internet as a whole, we can’t draw any conclusions.

In the specific case of a news website publishing timely or breaking stories, I expect Twitter and Facebook are the dominant referrers. But there is still a role for StumbleUpon in your social media strategy.

What does it mean?

StumbleUpon has grown to 15 million users and its site traffic is rising. Whether or not it beats Facebook, it can generate significant referrals, so news websites ought to pay attention to it.

While Twitter and Facebook excel at spreading the breaking or local news of the day, StumbleUpon is for the long tail. The type of content that succeeds on StumbleUpon meets a few criteria: the subject is useful, interesting or bizarre; addresses a niche topic; and has enduring value.

To understand why, you have to know how the service works.

  • Impressive. StumbleUpon is a serendipity engine that tries to recommend amusing and delightful pages based on the number of similar users (people who share a particular interest) who “like” a page over time. A page needs to be especially useful, interesting or bizarre to get someone to stop and like it, rather than stumbling on to the next thing.
  • Niche. StumbleUpon users begin by defining their personal interests, and now they can browse within one interest at a time. So the service is a home for things that appeal greatly to narrowly defined audiences rather than general-interest audiences.
  • Enduring. This is not a real-time news network like Twitter. Pages in StumbleUpon gain likes and momentum over time. So think of explainers, guides or revealing features as good candidates from a news site. A site homepage itself often gets traction for the general purpose of discovering the site, whereas you don’t see many Facebook likes or tweets of home pages.

To cement that a little, here are some of the Poynter.org pages that have received the most StumbleUpon referrals this year. The home page of Poynter.org comes in first, and near the top are several how-tos (useful and enduring) on:

How to optimize for StumbleUpon

Not that we need another cottage industry like SEO for StumbleUpon (SUO?), but you can take some basic steps to capitalize on the service.

First, add the StumbleUpon badge to your home page and article pages. Much like the Facebook and Twitter buttons that surely are there now, this badge enables a user to add or recommend your page to StumbleUpon. You also can add a widget to your site that shows your best-rated StumbleUpon content.

Second, be prepared to capitalize on the new visitors that stumble your way. The nature of StumbleUpon is to send browsers to sites that are new to them.

When they land on your site and realize they like it, you should have obvious widgets or links somewhere encouraging them to follow you on other networks or to sign up for email or RSS content delivery.

Linking to related posts on your site also can help extend a StumbleUpon visit through a few pages instead of directly bouncing to the next recommendation. That’s generally good practice for all Web visitors.

For something more specifically targeted to StumbleUpon, you could build a special widget that greets StumbleUpon visitors, introduces your site in a sentence or two, shows other popular SU pages on your site and invites the user to follow you or subscribe.

In the long run, it’s really not useful to measure StumbleUpon against Facebook or Twitter. They exist in two entirely different classes — one is a timeless, passive, serendipity engine, the other is timely, active, two broadcasting networks. Both are important in their own ways, and deserve their own strategies.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

(Reuters) – The Senate, eager to notch an election-year victory by boosting small business growth, is moving toward prompt passage of a measure that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said on Tuesday he would avoid a prolonged debate and accept the legislation that passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 390-23 last week.

The bill aims to encourage job creation by making it easier for small firms to raise capital. But it is not expected to make a major dent in the high U.S. unemployment rate.

“We’re not going to have a knock-down, drag-out fight” on the measure, Reid said on the Senate floor. “If everybody loves the House bill so much, that’s what we’re going to vote on.”

Later, asked by a reporter why Democrats were abandoning their plan to introduce their own jobs bill, Reid cited practicality. “I think a (House) vote of 390-23 was fairly very significant in my thought process,” he said.

The move could also disarm Republican criticism that Democrats were delaying approval of the House jobs bill, at a time when millions of people are unemployed and the national jobless rate is 8.3 percent.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has warned that if Democrats drafted a “contentious” version instead of taking up the House bill, they would be sending two messages:

“First, that they’re just not serious when they say they’re focused on jobs. And second, that they’d rather spend their time manufacturing gridlock to create the illusion of conflict.”

With Congress facing near record low approval ratings, both parties are eager to convince voters they are working to aid the economy’s recovery.

However, much bigger measures aimed at job creation have stalled in the chamber and moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowed announced last month she would not seek a fourth term because she was weary of the dysfunction paralyzing the chamber.

The House-passed bill would make it easier for firms to solicit private investors and relax filing requirements associated with initial public offerings.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said Reid will likely try to add an amendment that would reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, something Republicans have opposed.

If the amendment fails to get folded into the bill, the Senate will still move to pass the overall legislation this month, the aide said.

The Ex-mi Bank, established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, provides financing to U.S. exporters to make sales that are viewed as too risky by private banks.

Its charter is generally renewed for four or five years at a time, but the bank has been operating on temporary authority since October, and has run afoul of Republicans who have branded its mission as “corporate welfare.”

(Reporting By Alexandra Alper and Richard Cowan; editing by Tim Dobbyn and Todd Eastham)

Official Link:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/13/us-usa-congress-capital-idUSTRE81R1N320120313

Having started all willy-nilly with Pinterest like Joe-Joe the idiot circus boy, I put absolutely no thought into what I was doing while kicking the tires. Now that PT is hotter than Canadian Maple syrup at a swingers party I can tell you what I did wrong.

First off, like most of us I really didn’t know what it was. Therefore I was just so eager to get my hands on it and stake a claim. A few things fell out of that experience. I started a bunch of lists that were important to me such as “Zombies, DesigNation, Survivalistic” and near naked women at “Shabam.” That being said my account is more about me personally and not about me ‘the brand.’

First question to ask – “Are you supporting a brand (corporate or personal) or is this a personal Pinterest account?”

The point here is all I’ve really done with my current account is give people a reason to think I’m a porn freak-based doomsday prepper that has a insatiable interest in art, automotive and design. While that’s not wrong per se, it’s not necessarily a glowing presentation of the personal creative/social thought leadership that I’m trying to establish.

Well If you’re not launching a brand, I say let’s lose the dogs of war and find the weirdest shit you can. Pin it and your noisy co-workers will create new things to gossip about around the water-cooler – ”then last night he pinned 17 different kind of Chinese throwing stars with anime characters on them! I know right!?!” The other edge to this sword however is that it’s more about the real “you” in the real world. If you don’t want people thinking you dress up and play Phyllis Diller on the weekends, probably best not to pin up a roadmap to that effect.

Next question to ask – “How do I categorize and thereby subjugate by brand?”

It’s like constructing an information architecture for a website and the “pins” end up the relational sub-pages within the “boards” you create. If you where to launch a clothing line or related outreach you might do something like:

  • Men’s Tops
  • Men’s Pants
  • Men’s Accessories
  • Men’s Shoes

…rinse and repeat with gender and age-group variance.

The caveat being that your pin either be yours OR have an affiliate or referral agreement with the product line to show it, as there’s been some “gray” areas regarding copyright and terms as is pertains to Pinterest. ADDITIONALLY! It’s also important to note that Pinterest may make money using your links in a referral capacity with companies such as Skim Links and others. They literally piggy back your link posted on the site to see if it goes to a retail site with an affiliate program. Upon finding referral coding it adds an affiliate code that ensures Pinterest will make some cash from sales that derive from that link. While not illegal (yet) it has brought them under some scrutiny.

Other things I didn’t do that you should:

  • USE #HASHTAGS AND REFERRING (truncated) LINKS IN YOUR PINS!
  • Include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins to drive traffic back to your website.
  • Create a “Follow Me On Pinterest” button for my site and social channels. You can also now add Pinterest to your Facebook account.
  • Use it like a focus group and crowdsource with it.
  • Create boards that you can use as competitive reference or trends within your industries.
  • Pinterest, as of yet, has not created a business “Page” model and therefore it might be said that there will be a redux in the process given that this is the case. I can’t imagine they won’t, as most LARGE social channel models have adopted this as standard practice.
  • Actively cross-fertilize your ‘pinning’ with your other social channels to boost traffic (important to note however it will NOT increase your SEO as has been prosthelytized until you turn your search engine “visability” on in your settings.)
  • If I get to do it again I think I will sort media too. I’d create specify boards for video vs. photos.
  • Also look for really “different” visuals. No one will click through on a default logo, but a beret wearing ferret riding a monkey that has a beret and AR15 rifle just might get you “repinned.”
  • Engage other pinners + make nice = more followers.

I should have looked at who’s doing it right before doing it at all:

As always, I’m making this stuff up as I grow up. Let me know your thoughts. All my best.

Michael Roberts

The latest social media site to join the ranks of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is Pinterest. Haven’t heard of it? You will. With over 10 million users, it is quickly rivaling Google+ and YouTube for traffic.

For those of you who don’t know about Pinterest, it is a visual site that allows you to post or PIN pictures to your wall, or a wall of your choosing. It might seem more like a B2C site and it has been historically a strong site for people selling jewelry, crafts, or major retailers highlighting new products.

But lately, it has gotten some traction as a traffic generator for business marketers too. Here are a couple of considerations for including Pinterest in your social media marketing efforts.

  1. Pinterest is a visual medium, so think about the visuals you already have in your content library. These could be cool pics, images from the covers of your white papers or ebooks, visuals from your blog posts with links back to those posts, even pictures from behind the scenes at your company. All these could capture traffic from Pinterest and drive visitors back to your site.
  2. Expand your definition of visuals and you can include data and charts too. Graphs, charts, even illustrations communicate complex thoughts in a single picture. This type of content is perfect for Pinterest.
  3. Take photos of happy customers and PIN them as well. This gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling about your firm and helps potential prospects feel more familiar with your company and therefore more comfortable reaching out to you.
  4. Use dedicated landing pages associated with your pins so that you can track traffic from Pinterest and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Comment on other people’s pins. This will give you some additional exposure and when people see your comments they might eventually find your site, your blog and your content.
  6. Promote your Pinterest content through other, more popular, social sites. Create a Tweet or a Facebook post that links to your Pinterest page. Pinterest is hot, so these extended networks might be interested in seeing what someone else is doing on a newer social site.

Check out our Pinterest page to see how we are using it to drive leads. Feel free to follow us and see our latest Pins! If you need help creating an ROI for your social media programs, we can help

Thank you,

Michael Roberts

On Tuesday, I shared the first installment of my article recounting Social Media Day  — an event sponsored by the teams at GTX Marketing and Fresh Consulting. I was honored to share the piece not only with my readers, but also folks like Mike Whitmore and Kathy Ireland. I was thrilled to see Part One circulating on Twitter and shared via friends on Facebook. Once again, the themes put forth at Social Media Day were brought home to my front door. If you share it, they will come.

When we re-convened after lunch, Jenny Kuglin (@jenkuglin) content manager and social media maven for Fisher Interactive, shared a story about news anchor, Kathi Goertzen. Kathi’s story highlighted the human connection people associate with a brand. In this case,KOMO News and Fisher Communications. Kathi had been off-air for some time in recent years as she battled (and continues to fight) a brain tumor. Kathi was hesitant to return to a place in front of the camera due to disfigurement from her disease. Jenny knew that people were curious about Kathi so the communications team at Fisher helped Kathi launch a Facebook page, which as of this article, has over 71,600 fans. She can also be found on YouTube, Twitter (@InspireHopeCure), and via her website. Nothing tangible is being exchanged, but Kathi has a story to share and people want to hear it. Content is king.

Though, in the words of Rod Brooks (@NW_Mktg_Guy) “Content is gold. Kings die; gold lives forever.” The theme of the afternoon was story and Jenny, Rod, and Paul Anderson(@ProLango) did a wonderful job of introducing the sociable side of social interaction. Yes, we were all on social media because we run businesses or work for companies where marketing and social presence matter. But few of us participate in social media with the intent to NOT make friends, as many of us enjoy when our interactions move off-screen to the in-person realm.

Rod stated, he is 90% personality, 10% business when it comes to social media. His advice, “Bring yourself to work.” Be genuine. Travel. Engage with the world. Be quirky and interesting. Rod talked about the wild success of the Northwest Profiles series of commercials and cards based on stereotypical Northwest personality types. Pemco realized that people didn’t necessarily want to talk about insurance, but you know what? “People want to talk about the neighbors,” said Rod. That became the key to Pemco’s marketing success and social amiability.

Jen, this time Jen Houston (@JHouston89) of Waggener Edstrom’s dynamic communications team, stepped on stage and delivered another talk relevant to the theme of story. “Content is the currency of influence,” said Jen. People still desire eye contact and human connection. Among her many morsels of social media advice, “Be a content guerrilla.” Pics, travel, drawings on napkins — capture your life and essence of who you are — this is your brand and your story. Know who your audience is and track where those people are. Monitor your brand and be engaging. “Nuance is necessary to engage.” Choose the channel that  best allows you to tell your nuanced story and bring value to your audience.

Jeff Dance (@Jeffdance) of Fresh Consulting delivered a talk about creativity and storytelling. Logging ideas is good for our brain. Drawing images is also good for our brain. Basically, we should strive to engage in a dance that complements both hemispheres of our brain. (Think  of the “Liger” from the famous movie, Napolean Dynamite.) People are craving meaning and simplification — and people remember stories. Where can we tell our stories, beyond the social media platforms discussed up to this point? In the About Us page on our websites. On WordPress analytics, the About Us page was the #1 most-visited page besides the homepage. Customers want to know who you are and what you bring to the proverbial table. Jeff closed with the sage advice, “Be educational, be useful, be entertaining … or be ignored.”

Heidi Miller (@heidimiller) was the final guest speaker and imparted valuable wisdom about the social media exchange. “Be yourself, share a picture of yourself, and don’t be a jerk,” she advised. Heidi reiterated what Rod had said — there’s no need to be all business. Share your integrated self, ask questions and engage in conversation with others. Don’t delete comments — EVER! As mentioned by Mike and other panelists — you must monitor your brand your social presence constantly. If an issue should arise via your social media network, one to two hours for a response is ideal, but more than twenty-four hours is too long. Heidi illustrated examples of TSA and Domino’s Pizza properly responding to customer feedback via a very public platform. There are polite ways to engage with even the most angry customer and your image depends on your response and handling of a situation.

Social Media Day was a blast to attend and and honor to photograph. I gained so much valuable information that my assistant and I have been working overtime trying to implement all the tidbits, buttons, and tags that we learned that sunny afternoon last weekend. Technology is changing the world we live in and I welcome the opportunity to keep up and engage. Thank you for reading and “walking with me” as Kathy Ireland stated at the event. If content is gold, I am feeling pretty golden right now and I can’t wait to share more stories, photos, and backs of napkins from my upcoming travels and photo shoots. If you’re new to Twitter, remember to follow the people mentioned in this piece (via the links provided or “@” symbol after their name). Of course, you can find me onFacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Pinterest.

Catch you on the social side.

~Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography

About trcouvillion

Best Corporate Event Photographer and Business & Headshots Photographer in Seattle. Event Photography for many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography and well known individuals such as Steve Ballmer; CEO and President of Microsoft, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by her. Check out her Corporate Website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

When I moved to the United States for my higher education from Kenya, Africa, I had my worries and expectations. The fact is that I was not naïve to life as a young man. Back at home, I had earned my high school certificate after four years of walking to and from school. The dream of studying abroad came true when I landed in New York City in the Fall of 08. Whatever was ahead of me remained unknown until the day when so many things started to demonstrate that it wasn’t what I had in mind? Inside me, a reminder kept popping up. I wanted to share my personal story with the world. That was the least I could do with my own hands and memories. So I did.

In 1987, I was born to a family of 14. Nothing looked unusual at all, except the number? What was there to hate or like? As kids, we walked, played, sang, listened to stories and did pretty much anything other kids do (mark my word: not everything but anything). The only difference however, was that we learned to make do with what we had. No fantasies, no heroes and nothing to brag about. I was not different. I was just like everyone else. The green fields and blue skies did not last. Things changed, one at a time. Some changes were natural and teary while some were not. Was our family ready for them? Oh, wait, was anyone, regardless of who they were, ready for them? I had no clue.

It makes me cry inside every time I think of that story. How did that happen? Am I dreaming or it really happened? It is hard to believe or come to terms with losing five siblings. My family lost five siblings. That was tough to handle. There was no war that took them away; there were no accidents or natural disasters. There was death. It is true that no one can surely say that they will be living tomorrow. With that number cut short by death, I looked to the skies and wondered like the rest of the humans who have lost their loved ones: why me? There has never been a satisfying answer to that question and that is why I asked for confidence to share my story through My Life Sentences.

First, writing and publishing my personal life was not and still isn’t easy for me. I feel lifted up whenever a reader downloads a copy on Amazon but I ask myself what they will think after they read the last sentence of the book. Will they be inspired to do more or they will resent me? Should I just not imagine what they will do? I do not know. With thousands of readers already knowing my story, I feel a little relieved but that is not all I wanted. I want to share it with more. I kindly request you to read it: My Life Sentences – A True Story.

When I came to the United States, I thought my life would change for the better. I was partly right and partly wrong. I have learned so much in less than four years. I am a better person today than I was yesterday. Life, to me, means doing good to others and even with that in mind, I feel like I have not done enough myself to make this world a better place. There is a fight inside me, one side wants to win and the other side hates losing. It is hard. Everything is new again; the future is filled with hope and enthusiasm, and that is the better part.

What compelled me to write my story and put it out there for the whole world to see through it was the inner desire to inspire others. What I know is that we can all achieve it when we choose to try. Through adversity, you can choose to succumb and fade off or walk out stronger than ever. Tomorrow is not the end of the world, but we never know! Finally, to everyone out there who wants to read a different kind of story, you can read the first chapter of my memoir for FREE using this link My Life Sentences – A True Story.

NB: While not writing, I learn to play piano, do volunteer work and write columns for the Kansas City Star Newspaper. I currently live in Liberty, Missouri, United States. I can also be found at www.chirchir.co.cc. Thank you!

This is written by Elisha Chirchir [elisha.java@gmail.com]

In January of 2012 Google introduced “Search Plus Your World,” an integration of Google’s Internet search engine and its Google+ social network. In one move, the entire social graph of over 90 million Google+ users was funneled into Google’s growing knowledge graph.¹ Industry experts are still trying to sort out the impact of Google’s new social search on SEO, specifically on page rankings. However, we know a few things for sure:

  • Controlling roughly 2/3 of all Internet searches, Google is by far the largest search engine (Yahoo and Bing are both a distant second with approx. 15% of the search market, respectively).
  • Google+ is growing rapidly, with over 90 Million users by the end of 2011. With every new Google+ user and “+1” share, Google is adding data to their social graph.

SHARE THE LOVE

Google’s +1 share button (think of Facebook’s “like” or Twitter’s “tweet” button) , is the mechanism for Google+ users to share content. According to Google’s webmaster, the +1 share button “helps people discover relevant content—a website, a Google search result, or an ad—from the people they already know and trust. Adding the +1 button to pages on your own site lets users recommend your content, knowing that their friends and contacts will see their recommendation when it’s most relevant—in the context of Google search results.”

It is clear that Google is trying to use social search to improve the relevance of user queries. But how exactly does this work?

The general supposition behind the +1 share button is that you will generally only include people in your Google+ user circles that you know and/or trust. As such, you will be more likely to click on a website, a Google search result, or an ad that has been +1’d by someone in your Google+ circles. This content would presumably enjoy a higher click-through-rate (CTR); there is also a greater potential the link will be shared, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any social network.

SEO industry insiders have been trying to understand the relationship between social sharing and SEO for some time now. In early 2011, Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, tested the relationship between Twitter and Facebook shares and search results in Google. He found a positive correlation between the number of retweets and shares a link received and its search ranking. He found that the more the link was passed around on Twitter and Facebook, the higher the search rank of the page.³

Back to Google. Regarding the question of +1 button affecting a website’s performance on search rankings, its webmaster has this to say:

“Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1′s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality.”

IS IT RELEVENT?

It is clear that Google is trying to use its social search mechanism, the +1 button, to make search listings more relevant to individual users. This is a worthy objective, to be sure. Unfortunately, in practice Google’s social search is oftentimes producing less relevant search results.

When users are logged in to their Google account (which many people are all of the time, whether or not they notice), their +1 personalized results are shown before public rankings on any Google searches. This can have a negative effect on search relevance for users, and SEO page rankings for companies.  As 352 Media Group’s Erin Everhart pointed out in a recent blog on this topic, “When I search for “web design company,” one of our top keywords in Google, it’s pretty clear what I’m looking for: A web design company. Two out of three top results, traditionally coveted for clicks, are filled with social mentions. And social mentions that have nothing to do with a web design company.” Social mentions may build trust and authority to search results, but not necessarily relevance.

TIME TO BE SOCIAL

Nevertheless, the fact that Google is the only major social network with a search engine underscores the importance of having an active Google+ brand page. More than that, companies who want to take fully advantage of Google’s social search then have to get their Google+ brand page into as many influential people’s circles as possible- no easy feat. Furthermore, these people also have to be in many other circles if companies have hopes of reaching people outside of users’ immediate network.  Companies should also integrate top keywords into Google+ posts to increase their relevance in important searches. Google’s social search is therefore compelling brands to use their Google+ page much like their own website.²

THE TAKEAWAY

The full impact of Google’s social search on SEO is uncertain. While we try to sort out the effects of +1 on SEO, companies should not abandon traditional SEO practices wholesale. SEO methods such as link building and relevant keyword usage should still be practiced.

However, in this new era of social search, brands need to produce quality content that users find interesting and useful, and then actively promote it on social media, especially Google+. Companies need to pay close attention to how they are shaping their online message, not only on their website, but across all social media platforms. As social media and social search become more widespread phenomena, brands are going to have to spend more time and resources managing their growing online presence.

Questions remain, but one thing is certain: this brave new SEO 2.0 world presents numerous challenges, but also numerous opportunities, for business.

¹ Mashable, “Google Merges Search and Google+ into Social Media Juggernaut”

² Mashable, “How Google’s Social Search Shift will Impact Your Brand’s SEO”


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