Archive for December, 2009

Free E-Book Of Social Media Insights for 2010

Posted on December 22, 2009. Filed under: Business Strategy, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

You know the adage “it’s the thought that counts” when it comes to giving?

Well, ’tis especially true in the blogopshere, where valued free gifts abound — in the form of useful content — on a regular basis.

This time of year, certain bloggers are extra generous; as is the case with one of my faves, Valeria Maltoni, who created a free e-book that’s one of those “gifts that keeps on giving.”

How can social media work for your brand in 2010?

Maltoni is the astute mind behind the popular blog, Conversation Agent. An expert in marketing communications, customer dialogue and brand management, she has lots of friends in the biz, 10 of whom contributed to Marketing in 2010: social media becomes operational (a link to download the e-book is at the end of this post).

As Maltoni explains, her e-book is predicated on the notion that:

“Execution in social media enriches brands and the people or tribes that make them work. It means you are changing the world and allowing the world to change you as a business in commensurate parts, while you interact with it.”

Maltoni is a deep thinker, and so are the pals she asked to ponder variables and propose directions that make social media marketing operational; such as objectives, strategies, tools/tactics, people, and measurable goals. The result is a revealing collection of well-considered insights from individuals who are all actively engaged and practice what they preach.

Contributors and articles are:

These assorted articles explain how, in the coming year, companies must be savvier, more serious and more strategic in how they plan and execute social media programs. They assert social media marketing is no longer optional, but a must-have, to be integrated and aligned with overall business goals and objectives.

2010 is the year a clearer picture develops, such that experimental theory settles down into best practice. Along with prognostications, there are directions for how to execute best practices to ensure your social media marketing success.

Each author is a prominent blogger in his/her own right and the e-book provides valuable perceptions — you’ll want to keep it on hand for reference throughout 2010.

And again, to download the e-book, click on the link at the end of this post on Maltoni’s blog, Conversation Agent.

-Deni Kasrel

Why not check out this valuable free e-book and then share your thoughts on its content? Comments welcome.

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Why You Should Make A New Year’s Social Networking Resolution

Posted on December 17, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Think back on this past year: What had the greatest positive impact on the way you pursue professional endeavors?

I’ll bet plenty of you say social networking. Of the ways people advanced their careers in 2009, it’s number one with a bullet.

Twitter rose like a rocket and was named word of the year. Facebook has in excess of 350 million members and LinkedIn is in the 50 million range.

It’s all about exponential growth: One member entices others to join, who in turn solicit even more people, and so it goes, and keeps going.

Engaging at a distance

Social networks offer many benefits; one of the biggies being the ability to reach any number of people who share similar interests. You tweet, join Facebook groups, get involved in LinkedIn discussions, and so forth, to engage with followers, friends and colleagues.

How very nice. You’re being social.

But it’s all at a distance.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Even so, I propose making a resolution for the coming year to get more social with cyber acquaintances. Have an honest to goodness conversation, and meet, in person, some of the people you’ve come to know online.

Connect in the real world

This thought came to mind after I had a nice long chat with a Twitter pal named Avi. We’ve been following our respective public tweets, retweeting one another and occasionally direct messaging. Avi lives in the Middle East, I’m in the U.S.A. We’re both into web 2.0/social/digital media strategy and technology in general. From just those 140-character messages it’s clear Avi is an insightful, warm and thoughtful person. Part of his Twitter profile reads “believe in giving and help,” so what does that tell you?

Our conversation occurred after I tweeted Avi to let him know I’m working on a post about communications trends for 2010. I asked if he had any thoughts on the topic. He quickly tweeted back; yes, he’d be happy to share, and did I have five minutes for Skype?

I was pleasantly surprised by the offer. Of course I’d love to talk to my faraway friend.

But first I had to get hooked up with Skype, which as it turns out, is quick and simple to do.

Soon we were chatting up a storm. About communications trends, how different our cultures are, and much more. It was immensely enjoyable.

We’re still far apart geographically. However, Avi and I now share a closer connection. He’s not simply a face I see in a photo, but rather a genuine person that I can, from time to time, speak to in real repartee.

Make a resolution to establish more personal engagement in 2010

Avi is one of several individuals I’ve originally encountered through social networks and have subsequently spoken to over the phone. I’ve also met some internet pals in person. It’s great fun and adds another dimension to our relationship.

I highly recommend reaching out to some of your digital acquaintances in 2010. If they’re an international call, check out Skype — as noted, it’s snap to use, not to mention free.

So how about a New Year’s resolution to make your networking even more social through authentic personal engagement?

– Deni Kasrel

Are you up for making this New Year’s resolution? Do you have a story to share about becoming more personally engaged with an online connection? Comments welcome.

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2009’s Word of the Year Is…

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Can you guess what word in the English language was used more than any other in 2009?

Hint: It begins with “T” and ends with “R.”

Figured it out?

Yep: Twitter wins this year’s word popularity contest.

So says The Global Language Monitor, which recently declared that Twitter rose to the top of the most-favored word heap, where also-rans include Obama, stimulus, 2.0, deficit, healthcare, transparency and foreclosure.

Making the most of strict limitation

In an announcement about this finding, GLS President Paul Payack is quoted as saying:

“In a year dominated by world-shaking political events, a pandemic, the after effects of a financial tsunami and the death of a revered pop icon, the word Twitter stands above all the other words.  Twitter represents a new form of social interaction, where all communication is reduced to 140 characters. Being limited to strict formats did wonders for the sonnet and haiku.  One wonders where this highly impractical word-limit will lead as the future unfolds.”

Impractical, eh? Tell that to the reputed 44.5 million people who use Twitter to send an estimated 27.3 million messages per day.

Less is more

There are times when I might like to have more characters per tweet (and in fact there are services that enable you to send longer messages via Twitter). However, there is something to be said for the ingenuity required to craft a compelling message constrained to 140 characters. It can be challenging to construct such a brief missive that grabs attention. You have to be sharp. Concise. Precise.

There’s an art to writing an effective tweet. And there are even books to help you acquire this special skill; such as 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form by Dom Sagolla.  The self-described Elements of Style for social media messaging, claims to be the “first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with the succinctness and clarity that the Internet age demands.”

Back when I went to school, it was imperative to learn how to write essays. Nowadays, it’s critical to understand how to pick and choose a few well-chosen words for effective articulate communication.

If not a sonnet or haiku a Tweet may perchance be considered Shakespearean. After all, the great Bard of Avon wrote, “brevity is the soul of wit.”

FYI, in Shakespeare’s day, wit primarily referred to intelligence — as in getting by on one’s wits.

So here’s to Twitter, 2009’s Word Of The Year and a new barometer for the essence of acumen.

– Deni Kasrel

What are your thoughts on Twitter being named 2009 Word Of The Year? Comments welcome.

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Real-Time And The Search For Relevance

Posted on December 10, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Search Engine Optimization | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you’ve used Google this week, you may have noticed a “Latest results” section where content is delivered in a dynamic stream. These are real-time updates pulled from various sources, including social media and news sites.

There’s a scroll bar — you can move it up or down to see more items, and if you click the “Latest results” header link, or click “Latest” in the left-hand search options menu, you’ll get a full page of up-to-the-minute results.

The new real-time feature is in response to growing public desire for instant up-to-the minute information; and by the popularity of Twitter, in particular. There’s even a joke going around that if you haven’t heard about something on Twitter, then it hasn’t happened yet.

Google is following the trend.

Millions of changes a day

Earlier this week Google’s blog featured a post titled Relevance meets the real-time web, which explains the how and why of its entry into real-time search.

The company touts its accomplishment, which we are told, is:

“based on more than a dozen new search technologies that enable us to monitor more than a billion documents and process hundreds of millions of real-time changes each day.”

Sounds like a heck of a lot processing, but then, Google’s business is based on crunching billions of bits of information on a regular basis — as of June of this year its engine was estimated to receive 304 million searches per day.

Of course, the results returned for those searches were based on a lag-time between when a piece of information first hits the web and when it gets indexed.  If you searched for a specific term on one day, and then a week later, the results were often similar.

As of December 7, with real-time search, Google tells us:

“Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. When they are relevant, we’ll rank these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.”

What defines relevancy?

The algorithm for Google’s search engine is tip-top secret (sort of), not to mention constantly changing. However, it is commonly understood that if others think you are worthy — say by linking to your website, or your link in search results gets lots of clicks/traffic — this can help raise your rank in the search engine results page. And yes, there’s more to it and that I am way over-simplifying, still, the gist is that indicators of quality and/or popularity matter.

With real-time flow of information it’s challenging to ascertain what’s deemed good quality. Sure you’ve got retweets, tags, bookmarks and social news sites that can infer a degree of popularity (which is not the same as quality, to be sure). There’s also authority of domain to go by. Regardless, the concept of relevance is harder to pin down when messages are pumping out at a furious pace.

For  instance,  a search for “obama” on the day President Barack Obama personally received the Nobel Peace Prize, you get real-time results like this:

Whatever the result, it moves by fast. If one item offends, or is of little interest, count to three and something new comes into view.

It’s an intriguing way to measure the popular zeitgeist.

And if nothing else, Google’s real-time search results prove that what’s news can merely mean what’s new, and what’s relevant is all relative.

– Deni Kasrel

What are your thoughts on real-time search? Does it really improve the search experience? Comments welcome.

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The Social Media Smokescreen

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Today, at a networking meeting, I met someone involved in marketing and branding. We got to talking about social media, and quicker than you can type a tweet, this guy brought up return on investment.

He asserted, unless you can clearly identify the monetary payback on social media, many brand managers won’t give it the time of day.

Now, I understand that ROI and the bottom-line matter; a lot. Nevertheless, it’s curious how when the subject of social media comes up, you can often count the seconds till ROI is mentioned. Why is that?

What’s with the double-standard?

I’ve not heard a hue and cry over what’s the absolute dollars and cents return on investment for numerous other aspects of marketing communications. Like a sales kit. Or a press release. Or an event sponsorship. Or even a website (unless the site is e-commerce based, though for the sake of this example, I’m referring to a corporate/brand website).

And I shall defer from quibbling over what the exact definition of ROI is — used in this context, the general understanding is that it relates to how much profit are we going to make?

The point isn’t what is or is not ROI, but rather why you must know from the get-go what’s the end-measure for a social media program, when other types of marketing and public relations are not all held to this same standard.

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” – Albert Einstein

No one’s come up with a formula to accurately surmise the precise profits gained from buzz, brand affinity, or word of mouth. It’s iffy to assign a cash value to a news story that appears about your company, product or service. You don’t necessarily know how much money is generated by a TV or print campaign, either.

I’m not suggesting there’s no reason to gather metrics for social media. There are ways to monitor social media activity and impact. You should benchmark and keep track of how the program is going, and, where possible, identify the return.

It’s more that I’m baffled by this tendency to immediately raise a “where’s the ROI?” beef at the very mention of social media. Which, for those who don’t already know, can drive sales as well as do wonders for brand awareness, customer service, reputation management and search engine optimization (among other things), when properly executed.

A smokescreen tactic?

I wish I had a buck for every article I’ve seen in just these last few months about the ROI of social media. I could take a nice vacation with the windfall.

My hunch is show-me-the-money-or-forget-about-it brand managers/marketers are comfortable with how they’ve been doing things for years. They like the old ways; which are one-way. Social media is two-way. They’re unaccustomed to direct engagement and are terrified of what might come back at them. They fear losing control of their brand.

So a smokescreen gets thrown up due to fear of the new, aversion to risk, and an inability to admit you just plum don’t understand something.

Looks like it boils down to oh-me oh-my rather than ROI.

– Deni Kasrel

Is ROI truly a relevant measure to determine the effectiveness of social media? Do you have experience in calculating the ROI of social media? Please share your stories. Comments welcome.

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The Boob Trial

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Guest post by: Steve Hartkopf | Read his blog

If you blog, then you know that generating traffic takes constant promotion, especially in the beginning.  My blog readership is up nicely this year and it isn’t an accident — I work hard.

I believe bloggers earn every one of their readers. That said, I’m always searching for new ways to attract more readers. This post is about how that very common goal led me down an unexpected path.

The path between my pragmatic readership goal and what I’m now calling, The Boob Trial, requires some background.

Sex sells

It’s no surprise, especially to those of you who have teenage boys, that words associated with sex and the female anatomy are highly (Highly!) searched on the Internet. I mixed those two facts and, whammo, The Boob Trial was born.

Joanna Krupa is a famous bikini model and recent contestant on Dancing With The Stars, which is where I was introduced to her. When she was (unjustly) eliminated last week, she handled it with maturity and poise. Her fans, however, did not. They sent emails and posted comments about Joanna’s treatment, they acted like boobs. I took the liberty of naming them, Joanna Krupa’s boobs. My November, 23 blog, “Bloggers, Don’t Act Like Joanna Krupa’s Boobs,” was written to coach my fellow bloggers using Joanna as an example.

I just wanted them to redirect their energies and stop whining about how hard it is to find an audience. If you’re a great writer it may be “unfair” that you can’t generate an audience. Who knows? But whining is not the cure or the solution to your problem. The solution, as it is in most of life, is hard work. OK, so I had a little fun with boobs. Hey, you know what I mean.

The boob test

Good tests have limited variables so I abandoned my usual promotional activities and only posted a few Tweets.  I do a lot more promoting for most of my blog entries, but this was my version of a Mammogram, a boob test. The results were probably predictable but hilarious, nonetheless.

To determine the impact of boobs I needed some numbers, so I calculated my average pageviews, bounce rates and visitor duration for the prior three months and they became my baseline, my average day. Here are the results:

  • “Boobs” increased my pageviews 331%. 331%!
  • My bounce rate, which refers to the number of people who view one page and leave, went up 340%. That’s bad because it means virtually none of my new visitors stuck around to peruse my site. One and done, baby.
  • The average length of time spent on my site is about 4:00 minutes but I’ve had visitors hang around for a half an hour. Not Monday. The average visit was under 30 seconds. Apparently my new visitors aren’t big readers. No pics, no sticks.

More than meets the eye?

I’m always very grateful when anyone takes the time to read my blog, leave a comment or send an email. So I want all my loyal readers to know that I don’t ever plan on using such tactics again.

However, if it weren’t for my little experiment, would Deni have asked me to write a guest blog? So maybe suspending my better judgment wasn’t a bad idea? Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye? I wonder what Heidi Klum is up to?

Steve Hartkopf, is the founder and managing partner of Aligned Marketing, LLC a marketing consulting and technology solutions provider. Steve’s insights and clear communication cut through the noise to increase sales, improve profitability and lower costs.

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