Posts Tagged ‘Google +’

Thank You Readers! Thank You World!

I want to first say thank you to everyone who shared a link or tweeted my blog or re-blogged my post and most importantly, everyone who downloaded my books on Amazon! I cannot be thankful enough for that! This weekend has been the best for me since the time I published my books!

I had made a promise the first day of the giveaways to let you all know how everything transpired and now I wanna honor the same! Here is the breakdown: On the first day, hundreds and hundreds of readers downloaded my books. What surprised me was this observation: readers in the UK, Germany and Spain downloaded more copies of my second book [Across The River] than my first book [My Life Sentences – A True Story]. That was turned upside down on the last day!

In North America however, more and I mean more than a thousand readers downloaded my first book [My Life Sentences – A True Story] more than my second book [Across The River]. Personally, I have no conclusion as to why that happened but one thing is for sure; the outcome was epic!

Sometimes I look through pages of my books and cannot believe my eyes what I see! I normally ask myself, how on earth did I even write that? Of course the answer is, well, a smile and a feeling of happiness inside. The fact is this: those books would mean nothing without those who go to Amazon and download them and most importantly, read from chapter to chapter! Thank you so much!

Last but not least, I reached another milestone which might be tempting to ignore but equally important! The total visitors to my blog reached 4,000 and within two days, it is now over 5,000! That is humbling! Sometimes I run out of stuff to post but when I think about my eager readers, I just get off the couch and do something..right? That is the spirit! (I started this blog a little over two months ago).

Why did I choose to write books anyway? It all started when I was in high school……NO! I will not extend this longer than it is already, I care about your time! See you next time! Thank you and stay in the path of your dreams, so that when time comes, you will be ready to catch the vision!

Please remember to subscribe to my blog on the right of this page(Home)! If you have questions on writing and publishing books, don’t hesitate to ask me through the comments section. I will respond to them with your value in my mind! Adieus! Peace!!

You can still download my books My Life Sentences – A True Story and Across The River ! Cheers!

 

This is written by Elisha Chirchir

elisha.java@gmail.com

 

We all know social media is an important tool for brand awareness and customer acquisition — but how exactly are you supposed to convert random Twitter and Facebook users into real-life customers? Well, that depends.

Different brands have different challenges when it comes to customer acquisition: “If you’re our customer, you’ve signed up for a year-long service, unlike the Starbucks of the world, where you can be a customer by coming in for a cup of coffee one day,” says Lisa D’Aromando, social media community manager at Equinox. Whether you’re a clothing shop, a restaurant or a subscription service, you must tailor your strategy so that it makes sense for your brand. That said, there are a few universal ways to help your company attract new faces on the social web.

“I’m a big believer in creating and sharing meaningful content,” says Danni Snyder, co-founder and creative director at jewelry brand Dannijo. “Over time, that is every brand’s best bet for creating and sustaining a following that will grow their business.”

But what does it all entail? Mashable spoke with some super-social brands about how they find new customersand lock in their existing ones they have as repeat buyers.

1. Get Your Search On

There are 340 million tweets sent per day — odds are that a few of them are referencing your brand, though you may not realize it. “Just because chatter on social media channels isn’t mentioning your brand by handle or hashtag doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” says McKee Floyd, director of brand development at Sweetgreen.

The key is to be proactive. For the company’s upcoming Sweetlife Festival, Floyd set up Twitter searches for “sweetlife” and “sweetlife festival” on TweetDeck, which pulls the tweets even if users didn’t include the hashtag. “As groups of friends have conversations back and forth on Twitter about whether or not they should buy tickets, we monitor and chime in with helpful info, answering logistical questions about the festival and hopefully swaying them towards choosing to attend.”

Geoff Alexander, managing partner at Chicago’s Wow Bao, says his team also uses TweetDeck to search for certain keywords — such as “wow bao,” “baomouth” and “hot Asian buns” — and they reply to any and all posts they find. Wow Bao initially got into social media because there wasn’t a budget for advertising, so the brand opted to spread the word by giving away buns. “@BaoMouth searches the Internet for ways to reward people — giving away bao, full meals or mobile money [for the food truck],” says Alexander.

But the search tactic works for more than just food concepts. Danni Snyder says she monitor mentions of Dannijo religiously and also searches Twitter for “jewelry.” Consuming social media buzz about jewelry — and not just Dannijo’s wares — helps the brand be “aware of what people are talking about, what they like and don’t like, etc.” says Snyder, which can help Dannijo cultivate a new audience with their next collection.

One tip for finding new customers is to see who’s engaging with your competitors — if someone just started following or tweeted at or checked in at another bakery in the neighborhood, you could tweet at the person to come check out your cupcakes. They customer will appreciate the shout-out and the fact that you handpicked them to be your customer. Get clever with searches that are relevant to your business and offerings to help you target potential customers — then reel them in by being charming and human, not salesy.

2. Use Images to Engage

A picture is worth a thousand words — photos drive twice as much engagement as text posts do on Facebook. So if you’re looking to attract some new fans, start snapping pics.

Snyder says Instagram is her favorite medium for connecting with fans. “You can subliminally market without annoying your customers because each post is capable of accomplishing a number of things,” she says. “In one post, we can showcase a new design available at Dannijo.com, thus driving traffic to our ecommerce site; show how we’d style the jewelry; mention a tastemaker friend like Questlove or ManRepeller and promote them while they’re wearing Dannijo; inspire discussion and engagement, gaining valuable customer feedback; and provide followers some visual inspiration and insight into your creative process.”

But the pics need not be product-focused. Dannijo posts photos of food and musicians that embody the Dannijo vibe, and its 9,745 followers like and comment on every one of them. Similarly, Rent the Runway posts pictures of various style trends. “On Facebook, we try to use as much imagery as possible — not just promotional imagery of our dresses, but images that relate to pop-culture,” says Jenny Fleiss, president and co-founder of Rent the Runway. For example, in anticipation of the upcoming Great Gatsby movie, the RTR blog posted about Gatsby-inspired fashion trends.

3. Host a Competition

Nothing gets customers going like some swag, so contests are a great way to boost your followers and engagement. But be strategic about what you’re offering, or else you could attract the wrong followers.

ModCloth hosts monthly photo contests that garner hundreds of entries and thousands of votes. “Our most recent contest, Thrifted Treasures, asked our fans to share their favorite vintage finds, and our community could vote up their favorites,” explains Natasha Khan, ModCloth’s social media manager. “The social actions surrounding that event brought in thousands of new fans, which we otherwise would not have gained.”

Khan says contests and offers have been the most high impact customer generation events for ModCloth. But if you’re planning on hosting a contest, Khan has a few suggestions. First, build in actions that allow the fan to share to their social networks, as this will increase virality. Second, stay true to your brand. Third, tweak the contest to fit the platform on which you’re running it — “On Facebook that means sharing photography, on Twitter it means wordplay hashtags, and for Polyvore it means styling outfits,” says Khan.

“Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Facebook fan growth. If your company product is clothing and your prize is free iPads, then you will gain followers that might not belong to your core demographic. Make sure the reward is something your customer will value, such as a gift card or grab bag of your products,” says Khan.

4. Spice Up The Platforms

With so many platforms to manage, be sure to have a distinct M.O. on each channel — and cross-pollinate sparingly. If a customer sees the same information and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, she need only follow you on one of these platforms. Also, be wary of overpromotion. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a constant sales messaging — people easily can unfollow, and they will. Interestingly, many of Wow Bao’s posts have nothing to do with bao — @BaoMouth tweets during award shows and keeps a lively conversation going on a number of topics, winning people over with its spunky personality.

Of course, a big reason why you use various social media channels is to promote your product, so there are some things to keep in mind for the messaging when you are pushing your goods.

“Prove the value of being a Facebook fan. If you can find the same content and offers on other channels, there is no incentive to also follow the brand on Facebook,” Khan says. “Exclusive Facebook-only offers and original content reinforces our investment in the channel.” The same goes for every other social platform.

For Equinox, Facebook is for broadcasting of events and initiatives, like Cycle For Survival, Twitter is more conversation and geared toward responding to questions about membership, fitness routines and healthy eating, and Foursquare is the platform on which to find offers for Equinox’s spa and shop, which are open to the public. “Every Monday in March, we posted a different Foursquare check-in special for The Shop at all of our locations,” says D’Aromando. “Since you don’t have to necessarily be a member to go to The Shop or The Spa, these specials are accessible to everyone,” and can lure in potential customers into becoming Equinox members.

The company’s Q blog is another digital project where you’ll find awe-inspiring videos and original lifestyle content — a great way to add value for potential customers. “Q was launched to extend our brand and increase this word-of-mouth among our target audience. It gives people — members and nonmembers — topics and material from our Equinox experts to share with others,” says D’Aromando. “In lieu of promos, we create a different sort of currency: highly produced, branded content on Q with exclusives for our social media communities.”

5. Make It Personal

No one like a mass message — consumers like to feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. You should know your customers and speak to them in personal ways to establish touchpoints that build relationships and create loyalty.

“I like to make it very personable — if someone tweets a question I make sure to answer immediately,” says Steven Rojas, social media director at GrandLife Hotels. “Often I go as far as Googling that person to make sure I know as much as I can about them before reaching out. I want to humanize the brand so people don’t feel like they are speaking to a computer but to an actual person who cares about what they are saying. My obsession for all things digital never sleeps, so I make sure everyone gets what they need, when they need it.”

Live chats are another effective way to offer intimate interaction and engagement with fans. “It’s about having a conversation with your community, so we often do live chats with our stylists on Facebook to answer any styling questions customers may have,” says Fleiss. “These posts tend to elicit the most ‘Likes’ and comments.”

While you’re browsing sites for comments to respond to, don’t ignore negative feedback — addressing the complaint is an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into an impressed brand ambassador.

“We’re very appreciative when someone takes the time to let us know about a bad experience or an issue because then we can help fix it,” says Jenny Danzi, a Mountain Dew brand manager. “Reply to every complaint to turn those consumers into advocates — even if you can not offer an instant fix, people appreciate getting a human response,” she adds. And don’t forget that even the littlest gesture can make a big difference. “Sometimes for us it can be as simple as letting consumers know where they can find our products,” says Danzi.

Wow Bao takes it to the next level, proactively finding ways to create touchpoints with consumers. “We comment on any and all posts mentioning people’s birthdays and pop culture,” says Alexander. “We even schedule posts for people’s birthdays, when people post something like, ‘My birthday is in 12 days’” — a very personalized tactic that can go a long way

6. Let Your Customers Shine

Nothing makes a customer feel better than being acknowledged — or better yet, honored — by their favorite brand. Is there a way to offer kudos to your loyal fans? If so, make it happen.

Because women love to talk about what they’re wearing — and often wear RTR to social events such as weddings and cocktail parties — Rent the Runway strives to move these conversations online. “We have weekly style award contests on our blog and Facebook Page, and a section of our site called RTR Moments where women can share photos of themselves in RTR dresses,” says Fleiss.

For Mountain Dew, whose fan base is extremely young and active on social media, the “Diet Mountain Dew Supernova Spotter” is a great way to celebrate the return of the fan-chosen flavor in addition to highlighting the passion of the fans. “Dew drinkers can upload their photo of Diet Supernova, and on Friday we’ll open the entries up to public voting. Fifteen winners will each get a Diet Dew hoodie, and everyone who enters can easily share their Diet Supernova passion with friends,” Danzi says.

For Equinox, whose social media fan base is largely comprised of members, the goal isn’t as much to incentivize people to join (they already have), but to make them feel special for being members. “We have a Facebook app where members can refer friends directly, and if the friend joins, the member gets a referral bonus,” says D’Aromando. “We also just launched a program on Twitter where we’re rewarding our advocates by offering them private group fitness classes for them and their friends. This gives us a way to say ‘thanks’ to those who always post about us, and it gives them something to talk about with their friends — online and off.”

Brands, how does your company acquire new customers on social media? Consumers, what makes you want to become a customer? Let us know in the comments.

Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquareYouTubeLinkedInGoogle+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the officialAmerican Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

This is from Mashable Business

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Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the official American Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly 195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

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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

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”


Do you need a business Loan for your company?  Are you over extended and cannot get a loan through a Bank or Private Funding? If so, this is a great opportunity to expand your business, pay off debt, buy that vehicle you may need, buy more inventory or just use the money for what ever you may need it for.  What’s the catch?  None, just have a credit score above 600, no collateral needed, no signup fees and cash within 7 business days!   For more information click here.   We want to help your business grow and thrive during this “Down Economy”.

I have noticed that when the  topic of social network is raised, it usually turns to a discussion of Facebook. Granted it is the biggest player on the planet however it is not the only one. Ok, at some point in the discussion it may get to Linkedin, Google Plus and Twitter (which by the way is a microblog not a network but it is so widely used it surfaces regardless of what topic is being discussed). The reality is,  although these are the “Big Four”, there are so many to choose from and depending on “your fancy” or strategy you may want to develop a presence at other networks as a starting point. Now that I have planted this seed in your thinking, where do you start?  There are so many out there – really. So whatever your passion, go and find your network. If it doesn’t exist, hey create one!

So for this post, I thought it might be useful  to share what is out there. Or at least start a list to tantilize your taste-buds. There is a good Mashable resource on 350 sites.  However, as this reference is from 2007, I have used this as a starting point, removing the sites that no longer exist and adding new ones.  I intend to keep this as a live rolling list that will be updated regularly. I will attempt to publish biweekly, as I research the sites and add to the list.  Feel free to share any sites with me too! Hey, let’s develop our own community of sharing social networks and the associated reviews! Looking forward to hearing from you. In the interim, knock yourself out with the list below!

Books and Community

  1. BookCrossing.com – It’s the World’s Library. It’s a smart social networking site. It’s a celebration of literature and a place where books get new life. BookCrossing is the act of giving a book a unique identity so, as the book is passed from reader to reader, it can be tracked and thus connecting its readers. There are currently 980,418 BookCrossers and 8,340,566 books travelling throughout 132 countries. Our community is changing the world and touching lives one book at a time.
  2.  Bookins.com – Book sharing website that enables members to exchange used books with each other in real time.
  3. BookMooch.com – Users can exchange books with others through points. Users gain points when they give books to others.
  4. GoodReads – is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. They have more than 6,500,000 members. Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, find their next favorite book and form book clubs.
  5. Library Thing – A book network community of over a million members
  6. PaperBackSwap.com –  the site help avid readers swap, trade & exchange Books for free.They  only pay for the delivery charges.
  7. Read It Swap It – A free service that allows users to exchange books with others.
  8. Revish – Revish is  community for book lovers, letting them write reviews of their favorite books,  join groups, and  maintain a reading list.
  9. Shelfari – Shelfari is a popular social networking service for book lovers by amazon.
  10. Socialbib – Book swapping network between students.

Professional Business Networking & Community

  1. ArtBreak – ArtBreak is an artist community for sharing and selling artwork.
  2. Atomic Reach – Atomic Reach is a social publishing network  that connects companies and brands looking for high-quality content.
  3. Blogtronix – Blogtronix promotes corporate social networking, multimedia microblogging and cloud hosting.
  4. DoMyStuff – An online community where busy people can quickly find Assistants to complete their chores. The Assistants you’ll find on DoMyStuff.com are individuals and businesses located near you who compete by bidding to run your errands. This bidding system ensures that you find the best people to do your stuff at the lowest price.
  5. Doostang – An career community with over 750,000 elite professionals with inside access to thousands of jobs from top employers.
  6. Empire Avenue – Empire Avenue is a game platform  and online community where you earn virtual currency for being social — the more social you are, the more virtual currency you will earn. In addition to gaming, there are groups and social networking for a wide assortment of professionals, hobbies or general interests.
  7. HR dot Com –  Human Resources Professional social network. members share their expertise, network with other HR executives, continue their education. …
  8. iKarma Inc. – iKarma is an online professional and relationship management  network that is focused on attaining customer feedback and ratings for professionals in a social network media.
  9. ImageKind – ImageKind is a community and marketplace for professional artists.
  10. Jambo – Jambo  provides a Mobile Membership Directory that works like a radar to give any group of people the ability to detect, search, browse, and connect to each other, when they happen to be in the same city and as close as a few blocks away,
  11. Jigsaw – An online business card networking directory for users to establish contacts with each other. Each business card is listed with an email id and a contact number.-
  12. ProSkore – An online professional community where members are ranked according to their overall reputation – which includes their social networks as well as their professional experience and recommendations they receive through the PROskore community.
  13. Konnects – Konnects enables members newspapers to  engage with their readership and become the central hub of their social network community.  The Social Media features allows readers to provide feedback and add their content
  14. Lawyrs – A professional social networking community for lawyers.
  15. Linkedin – LinkedIn is a professional social networking website for business users and the the most popular professional business site out there. For more information you can read my post on Linkedin.
  16. mediabistro.com – mediabistro.com is  an online community that is dedicated to anyone who creates or works with content, or who is a non-creative professional working in a content/creative industry. That includes editors, writers, producers, graphic designers, book publishers, and others in industries including magazines, television, film, radio, newspapers, book publishing, online media, advertising, PR, and design.
  17. Ryze.com –  is a business social network. Members get a free networking-oriented home page and can send messages to other members. They can also join special Networks related to their industry, interests or location.
  18. Spoke.com – Spoke allows business professionals to create user-friendly profiles of companies and people in a smooth and organized process that replaces existing inefficient data gathering techniques. Profiles are shared with the community at large, including peers, partners and industry experts – all able to interact and collaborate to create relevant insights about people, companies, industries and trends.
  19. Viadeo – professional social network
  20. XING – XING is a  social network for business professionals. Members network from different industries, find jobs, colleagues, new assignments, cooperation partners, experts and generate business ideas.

Family

  1. CafeMom – CafeMom is a social networking site for mothers to connect and share thoughts with each other.
  2. CommonGate – CommonGate is an open  social network and blogging of theme-based communities (Gates) where people can make l connections and share relevant  content with friends, family and colleagues. This  social network enables users to create their own social network. The social blogs contain posts from any of the members, a communal voice within the site.
  3. eFamily – A premier social network to connect with family members and relatives in a private and secure environment.
  4. Famster – A private secure social network for family members.
  5. Geni.com – An exciting social networking site enabling members to create their family tree. All Geni users can share an unlimited number of photos, videos, and documents with their families.  Geni’s Pro subscription service allows users to find matching trees and merge those into the single world family tree, which currently contains nearly 60 million living users and their ancestors.
  6. Genoom – Genoom is a social networking platform designed to build private family networks. With Genoom, users can create their own family network and genealogical family tree to connect with relatives from around the world. From centralizing current family connections to discovering and sharing ancestral information, Genoom offers users a secure, private, and interactive family networking environment on the Web.
  7. Kincafe – An ideal social network for families to connect with their beloved ones.
  8. Kinzin – Kinzin is a Social Publishing® service for groups and individuals to privately share photos and create personalized print products. These printed materials are for  Parents for sharing with families, Coaches for sharing with teams, Teachers for sharing with students’ parents, Businesses for sharing with employees, Hobby group leaders for sharing with members, Camp counsellors for sharing with parents, Event hosts for sharing with guests.
  9. Baby Center –  BabyCenter is  a social network  for parents. It is the Web’s #1 global interactive parenting network, with more than 100 million parents.  Baby Center provides moms with advice from hundreds of experts around the globe, medical advisory board-approved information, friendship with other moms, and support at every stage of their child’s development.
  10. Minti – A collaborative parenting site.
  11. LifeTime Moms  –  social network and resources for mothers
  12. myfamily.com – An excellent way to connect with your family members.
  13. OneGreatFamily.com – An online shared database with combined knowledge and data at a single place.
  14. OurStory.com – OurStory enables users to share stories of their families with others.
  15. The Family Post – A sharing network for communication with family members.

Are you looking for Business loans?  Learn more about Business Loans at: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your credit card rates.

The old saying “If you build it, they will come” does NOT apply to your Web site; you’ve got to do more than simply publish it and one of the best things is to increase your position on the search engine results page. 


A beautifully designed website is great for a company’s image. However, the same website with no traffic is bad for business. Read these five easy non-technical SEO strategies to improve your websites visibility and traffic.

Step One – Google Local Business Listing
It is no secret; Google is king of the search engines. This is why the majority of your SEO efforts should be focused on having your website indexed by Google. It is not likely that your small local business will be able to compete with large national companies, their keywords and SEO efforts. However, it appears Google has realized this and has accommodated the small local business owner by creating free Google Local Business Listings. Many times if a Google user searches for a particular business niche and types in a city, the Google Local Listings will appear before all other listings.

Also, new technology (mainly smart phones) allows for Internet users’ geographical location to be automatically updated and provided to the search engine. With automatic location updates, Google Local Listings are very important for relevant searches (the best example could be the use of the service for a local restaurant or store). Because of this, it is important that all small businesses claim and optimize their Google Local Business Listing. Claiming and updating the information can be very beneficial from a business standpoint by attracting new customers and improving online presence.

Claiming a Google Local Listing is simple, free and quick. All you have to do is sign up for a Google account and claim your business. Once signed in you will be able to optimize your account by entering in your services/products, updating your location, providing contact information, uploading images/video, and adding other relevant business information. After your updates are complete you will be sent a PIN and need to enter it in order for the listing to be seen by Google users.

*Be sure to read the Google user agreement and follow all of the conditions in the agreement. Failure to do so could result in the removal of your Google Local Business Listing.

Step Two – Begin Blogging on your Website

Blogging is a very important aspect of SEO. Today’s search engines love new, fresh content and a blog is the best and easiest way to generate fresh content on your website. Many of the pages on your website are most likely static and change infrequently. This alone can keep your site from appearing in search engines. A blog serves several purposes for your business and website.

Foremost, a blog is a great way to interact with your current and future customers. It allows your company the opportunity to discuss important news and information quickly, easily, and affordably. A blog also allows your company to be seen as an authority in your industry – resulting in increased customer trust and respect. Blogging allows your business to showcase it’s strengths by putting the company’s expertise into words. A blog can also make your company larger through sharing and linking. Every new reader that shares your article could potentially assist you in gaining new customers!

Each blog entry should focus on one topic and should attack one keyword or phrase. The title should contain the keyword or phrase and encourage reading, filled with useful, relevant information. These are just a few great ways to use your business blog as an SEO tool for your website.

*A business blog should be considered even if you are not interested in SEO.

Step Three – Social Bookmarking for Traffic

Once you have completed steps one and two, it is time to start driving traffic to your website using free social bookmarking tools. There are a number of social bookmarking websites,DiggDeliciousStumbleUponReddit, and many more; each is a great way of introducing Internet users and search engines to your website and content. Every time a new blog entry is written, it should immediately be bookmarked on the social bookmarking website of your choice (or all of them). Bookmarking each new blog entry helps increase links to your website and provides an easy way for interested readers/customers to find your website and content. By bookmarking the pages and new content of your website, you are helping search engines quickly locate your website and index new information. If your bookmarks receive additional attention from other users, of the bookmarking website, search engines will notice this and give your site much more attention.

The effects of social bookmarking can last many months, but it is best practice to continually and consistently update your website content with new blog entries and same day bookmarking.

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-bookmarking-websites is a great list of the 20 most popular social bookmarking websites.

Step Four – Utilize Twitter Effectively

If you are serious about SEO and creating a strong online presence for your business, you should sign up for Twitter. Twitter is a free service that allows users to follow other users and share information. Twitter is great for business! Twitter allows small businesses to easily and freely connect and communicate with new customers. In addition, it is a great business networking tool that can help small businesses interact and connect with other successful companies.

Do NOT use Twitter to continually spam other users with links to your website. Doing this will accomplish nothing, except for zero followers and zero benefits from the service. Instead, use Twitter as a way to meet new people and share relevant information in your industry. Once you have created a decent following (60 followers), you can begin tweeting links to new blog entries and information on your website. Search engines will follow the links and quickly index your website. Should your tweet be retweeted by another Twitter user, search engines will give even more attention to your Twitter account and website. These are just a few of the great uses Twitter provides small businesses.

Step 5 – Get Links through Directories

Inbound links are very important for SEO. Inbound links are other websites linking to your website. Inbound links can be difficult to obtain, but the easiest way is by submitting your website to directories. Not all directories are created equal; links from unrelated websites could have zero SEO influence and serve no purpose (for instance, it makes no sense for a plumbing company to submit their website to a massage therapist directory). Each industry tends to have established niche directories with relevant information and good link quality. So, do some research and locate directories that relate to your industry and submit your website. Many of these directories are free but some charge a listing fee.

Every company interested in SEO also needs to submit their website to the DMOZ Open Directory. The directory is free and very important for SEO.

*Before submitting your website to DMOZ, be sure to read the user agreement and do not violate any of the conditions.

That’s all!

There you have it – five easy non-technical SEO steps for small business owners. It is very important to note that these are just a few techniques to increase search engine visibility and increase website traffic. However, using these strategies on a poorly designed website with bad navigation, bad code, bad title tags, bad keywords, and other negative attributes will not provide the same results as would be seen on a website designed for SEO, which focuses on easy navigation and search engine accessibility.

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. 

Have you conversed on Facebook, tweeted your favorite articles, and checked into Foursquare yet today? What about pinned an image on Pinterest, bought or sold stock on Empire Avenue, and done whatever it is people are doing on Google+ nowadays? I won’t even ask about the number of blogs you’ve read or mobile apps you’ve used. Just thinking about these tasks can cause some to become overwhelmed—they experience “social media overload.”

New social networks and tools are introduced every day, which means new challenges and questions for marketing professionals, social media strategists, and average people looking to brand themselves online. Which platforms should I use? When should I use them? There are only 24 hours in a day, how do I find the time to manage all my networks?!

I’ll admit, there’ve been times I felt like I was stretched pretty thin trying to keep up with various obligatory social tasks. Thankfully, I no longer feel that way (most of the time). Here are a few of the steps I took that really helped manage the social media overload.

1. Prioritize

Which tasks are the most essential? Determining your priorities is crucial in managing your time online. When you are faced with a giant list of tasks that need to be done, invest your time and energy first where it will make the most impact, and later return to do tasks that aren’t as much of a priority. For me, responding to Facebook and blog comments ranks above tweeting my favorite articles, so I do those first.

2. Filter

If you always have hundreds of unread blog stories in your feed reader or you skip over a certain user’s updates on a routine basis, it’s time to get picky. There is such a thing as subscribing to too many things. After all, what is the point of following or subscribing to people if you never ever read what they are saying? I’ve cut down on the number of blogs I subscribe to, and it has helped a lot. There’s also something cathartic about trimming those lists, have fun!

3. Aggregate

Applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite can do many things to help you save time and feel less overwhelmed. It is easy to save searches for terms, see direct messages and mentions from Twitter at a glance, and collect information from multiple platforms so you can read it in one place. Signing up for one of these tools (I recommend HootSuite) will save you time in the long run.

4. Automate

We all have lives, right? This means we aren’t online all the time. Using a tool to schedule your updates means you can plan what to say and let the tool publish it for you at a specified time. HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer are all great scheduling applications to use.

5. Relax

If you have to take a break from the Internet for a few days to interact with real humans (which I promise won’t kill you), know that it will still be there when you get back. On the Internet, everything is archived. If you feel like catching up after being gone for a while, all it takes is visiting a few RSS feeds or scrolling down some Timelines. Then, jump back in right where you left off.

Part of the fun of social media can be trying different things and sorting through the chaos to find something you truly enjoy. If that chaos ever gets to be too much to handle, I hope these tips will help with your case of “social media overload.”

Have you ever felt like you were spreading yourself too thin with social media? If you have other ways of managing overload let me know in the comments below.

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. 

In my last article, you learned about the benefits of having a business blog if you’re a large corporate brand.

Making the commitment to have a blog is simply the first and maybe toughest step. This is a step that over 50% of corporations still haven’t taken.

Once you’ve made the decision to adopt a business blog for your brand, there are a lot of things that have to be done pre-launch in order to make it successful. I’ll discuss in an upcoming post why there are many more things to take into consideration as a corporate brand in order to launch and run a good business blog.

However, the first question is typically fairly simple, but can have a number of SEO ramifications. That question is:

“Where should the blog live in order to get the maximum SEO benefit?”

This is a question I’ve gotten many times, and it can relate to a blog or to regular websites (with franchises or many offices).

I’m sure there are many differing opinions on this topic, and if we were talking about regular sites and not just blogs I may have varying opinions on a case-by-case basis. However, I’ll list the scenarios in order of most to least impactful based on what I know and my opinions about SEO and blogging.

1. Blog Placed in Subdirectory (Ex: yoursite.com/blog)

This situation for me is the most ideal from an SEO standpoint. I prefer to use a subdirectory (or “subfolder”) over a subdomain or external site any day.

Matt Cutts agrees with me:

“My personal preference on subdomains vs. subdirectories is that I usually prefer the convenience of subdirectories for most of my content. A subdomain can be useful to separate out content that is completely different. Google uses subdomains for distinct products such news.google.com or maps.google.com, for example. If you’re a newer webmaster or SEO, I’d recommend using subdirectories until you start to feel pretty confident with the architecture of your site. At that point, you’ll be better equipped to make the right decision for your own site.”

Rand Fishkin agrees with me too, but does go on to detail compelling usage examples for subdomains:

“Starting a blog? I almost always recommend yoursite.com/blog over blog.yoursite.com.”

Advantages:

  • Subdirectories tend to inherent some of the ranking benefits of the root domain.
  • Inbound links coming into the blog subdirectory and/or its blog posts can build more ranking value, page authority, and link juice for the root domain.
  • Utilizing the blog as a subdirectory, you can use blog posts to better enhance the root domain’s authority (and ranking ability) for a given topic by building hubs of content around that topic and cross-linking to key pages on the root.
  • Any social sharing equity is passed back to root domain.
  • Easier to organize content within the blog
  • Easier to create and manage from a server perspective.

Disadvantages:

  • Typically longer URL than below
  • Authority and link equity may diminish as your get deeper into a subdirectory structure – farther away from the root (ex: yoursite.com/blog/seo/google)
  • Won’t have the ability to achieve as high a level of SERP saturation as you would with subdomains.

2. Blog Placed in Subdomain (Ex: blog.yoursite.com)

This is the second best option in my opinion for SEO. A subdomain is basically a separate or third-tier website that just so happens to be residing off of the root domain. Search engines typically view them as wholly separate entities. I would only use this if the blog was completely separate to your services (or if your site infrastructure does not allow you to add blogging software to the root domain).

Advantages:

  • Typically shorter URL than above
  • Can pass some link value back to the root domain through cross-linking within template and articles.
  • Can achieve a higher level of SERP saturation as search engines can rank more than the traditional 2 listings per site – multiple pages from your root domain as well as your subdomain.

Disadvantages:

  • Subdomains DO NOT always inherit any or all of the positive metrics and ranking ability of their root domain (i.e. link equity, ranking equity, age benefits, etc).
  • Some subdomains get zero benefit from the root domain they are on (ex: sites like WordPress.com where anyone can create their own subdomain and begin blogging).
  • If you get inbound links to the subdirectory of the blog, it will build equity for the subdirectory. However, since it is technically a different site, it will not inherently pass that juice back to the root domain.
  • More difficult to create and manage from a server perspective.

3. Blog On External URL (Ex: someothersite.com)

Having a separate site as your blog – while better than nothing at all – is the least ideal solution of the 3 solutions discussed. Again, I would only use this option if the blog was completely separate to your services (or if your site infrastructure does not allow you to add blogging software to the root domain). A great example of this would be if your company had an unrelated sponsorship that had enough interest to warrent its own blog.

Advantages:

  • Can pass some link value back to the root domain through cross-linking within template and articles.
  • Can achieve a higher level of SERP saturation as search engines can rank both your corporate site and your external blog.
  • May allow you to have multiple blogs covering distinct topics, each on their own domains – as opposed to just one to one.
  • Can provide coverage for services/topics that are unrelated to your business – i.e. sponsorships.

Disadvantages:

  • Could create brand confusion if not design and branded appropriately, and consumers could be unaware that it is your property at all.
  • External blogs WILL NOT benefit from any ranking equity that is garnered from your root domain.
  • Links to your external blog and its articles will not pass along equity for your root business domain, but will instead only build equity to the external site itself.
  • Will not have the advantage of using this blog content to build authority around a subject for your root domain.
  • Again, it’s another site you’ll have to manage from a server perspective.

4. No Blog

Okay, so you’re one of the over 50% of corporations that still aren’t utilizing blogging for your business. If you read my last article and still aren’t convinced of the benefits of blogging, where is your head at?

If you review the advantages I’ve detailed and still feel as if there isn’t a direct business impact that can be made to correlate to being worth your time, then maybe you’ll never understand. If that is the case, here is the advantage to not having a blog…

Advantages:

  • You can sit back, relax, and count your money because you don’t have to worry about the complex issues that come along with having a blog like good branding, creative content, increased social sharing, enhanced customer engagement, more site traffic, better SEO results, etc.

Disadvantages:

  • I can’t say that you’d have worse SEO results by not having a blog, but I can’t say that they would be any better either.
  • Less opportunity for social engagement.
  • Less opportunity for interaction with your customers.
  • Less opportunity for traffic and exposure for your website.

Just get a blog folks – it will make everyone happier!

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.