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How do you keep up with the trends in social media?

10 Jun

The earth spinning madly out of controlThere’s probably no more daunting question to be asked than “So what’s the lastest trend in social media?” I mean, how do you define “latest”?

This morning? Last night? Given the relentless pace with which new platforms and services are arriving on the scene, it’s a full-time job to keep track.

Here are 5 places I go every day to keep myself reasonably current:

Twitter  As Tom noted in his refreshing shot across the bows last week, Twitter is increasingly about content pushing and less about social engagement. That’s brilliant though if you’re looking for content. When you follow wired-in people like Mark Schaefer, Simon Salt or Pete Cashmore, you get a steady stream of hot tips and pithy critiques.

Mashable  Speaking of steady streams, holy crap. If I could only follow one tweeter, this would be the one. But I miss a lot, so it’s easier for me to check in to and cherry pick the stuff that jumps out at me.

Blogs  I read a lot of blogs, and not all of them are social media blogs. But the ones I value, such as Jay Baer’s convinceandconvert, I subscribe to. So I don’t have to go hunting around for that review of the newest shiny bauble.

Google Reader  This is my fave newsreader. It helps me to wade through stuff and keeps me somewhat organized, never my strong point. I visit everyday and always end up tucking into something interesting. Here’s a pretty good post from Stan Schroeder on making the most of this reader.

Smart people  No this is not the latest social platform. I really feel that most of the trends I become aware of are brought to my attention by the people I work with and interact with online.

How do you keep up? Can you add something to the list?


When it comes to Google search, there is finally such a thing as bad press

29 Dec

Here’s a way to get your website to perform better in search: Treat your customers like shit. Be a pig. Yell at them. Swear at them. Threaten them with sexual assault. Sue them.

Then sit back and watch your website climb the almighty rankings.

Believe it or not, this has been the strategy of DecorMyEyes, an online eyewear site, as explained in this article in the New York Times.

The idea by the business’s proprietor, a walking aneurysm of a man named Vitaly Borker, a.k.a. Tony Russo, a.k.a. Stanley Bolds, was to generate complaints and negative reviews so his site would be swamped with interest. Which it was.

As a result of this, Google felt compelled to alter their search algorithm to identify “poor user experience” and adjust downwards accordingly. Here is the Google statement on the matter.

You know, good riddance and I hear Vitaly/Tony/Stan is making friends in prison.

But that’s a lot more power all of sudden in Google’s mitts.

Pseudonym Man’s case is pretty easy to call. But can an algorithm be trusted to judge issues that aren’t always so black and white?

5 things a small business should be doing to weather the storm

23 Dec

Yes it’s a slog for many small businesses at the moment.

Tourists are staying home. Consumer spending is enjoying a brief holiday spike but we can all guess what that hangover is going to feel like. Rents are high; the competition are slashing their prices.

But the strong will survive and you can be one of them. There are 5 things you absolutely can and should be doing right now to boost your business and create sunnier days ahead.

1. Optimize the content on your website. You need to perform well for the Google masters. Your home page should be rich with searchable terms and you need to refresh your content constantly. These tactics have been shown time and again to boost your performance in search. Your customers will be looking online and there is every reason why you should make a good Search Engine Optimization strategy your first priority.

2. Market yourself. You need to let people now you’re there. When everyone else pulls their marketing budgets to weather the storm, there’s your opportunity to have a more dominant voice in the market. And take advantage of some great media offers. They’re hurting for business too. Otherwise, you’re invisible. Never a good business strategy.

(Christmas ad for a Victoria business created by Copeland)

3. Blog. Oh I know: you’re tired of hearing about blogs. You don’t really care that a website with a blog gets 55% more traffic than a website without, why should you? Could it have anything to do with the content optimization point above? More than that. A blog invites your customers into your business by offering them your expertise and seeking their comments. You are creating engagement when you blog, which in human terms means you are building relationships. Always a good business strategy.

4. Build relationships in social media. You are doing it already of course, so there is nothing that needs to be said here. Will it lead to the short-term wins you need to keep the doors open? Only if you have a strategy in place for all the social media time you are investing. Don’t have a strategy? Tch. Call me.

5. Learn. Do not spend another moment feeling sorry for yourself or bemoaning the state of the economy. There are people out there who know more than you do and can help you get your business in gear. Seek them out. Ask people you trust to recommend consultants, speakers, seminars – ad agencies too. Things are changing fast in the world of marketing. You need to get up to speed because the days of same old-same old are done.

How many of the 5 are you already doing?

(Artwork courtesy of explodingdog)

Real-time Web: From content to context

3 Dec

Today, many companies are introducing new intelligent tools, based on insight extracted from online behavior, to provide us with personalized experiences. Social Media sets the stage for generating meaningful interactions.

We knew for quite some time that content is king. Nowadays, social media is kicking it up a notch by offering the real-time dimension. Companies are starting to modify their website content or tweets in real time based on customers’ behavior.

Real-Time Web

Here are two ways companies can master this practice:

Contextual Conversation:

SocialFlow has found a way to extract real-time web feeds and data from Twitter and develop a contextual advertising service to its clients.

Once the client has composed and queued his tweets, SocialFlow monitors what topics are being discussed in real-time on Twitter and other social-media services to determine the optimal time to release a tweet about a certain topic to catch the attention of people and increase the chances it will be clicked, liked and retweeted.

Some publications such as The Economist are actually using this tool to jump into the real-time conversations by adding effective and contextual links.

Click behavior:

The numbers of visitors or the bounce rate are two relevant data to measure website performance. But what about content engagement?

Many companies are starting to modify their content in real time based on readers click behavior. A page can get a lot of viewing, but some readers won’t scroll below the third paragraph. The scroll depth monitors how far down the page a visitor travels your site. With this data, editors will be able to update and work harder on the content of their story in real-time.

These tools and the upcoming technologies will keep feeding companies with data to help them create a targeting content to to improve their traffic and exposure to their customers.

Real-time Web is fast emerging as one of the most important elements of our online experience. In the Real-Time Web, context is King and the link is context as long as the destination of the link has a huge value for the visitor.

What comes after zombies, and 6 other predictions for the future.

22 Nov

I spent the weekend in a medically induced trance, meditating on emerging advertising and marketing trends and what we’re likely to see coming our way next year. My top 7 predictions:

1. Zombies rule for the foreseeable future. Obviously zombies won’t die….they’ll just slowly rot away until they are like that limbless crawler in the first episode of The Walking Dead. They’re tough little bastards actually. Way more persistent than vampires. Expect them to be slouching around for a while. Heck, the ad world is just waking up to them. See what I mean here.

2. It’s all about the thumbs from here on in folks. Smartphones can do it all. They’re cheaper, cooler and way more versatile. We’ll hang on to our old laptops but upgrade to the lastest Smartphone. Expect to see a mother-lode of advertising dollars go mobile.

3. Advertising with motion booms; motionless advertising busts. You don’t have to have a million dollar TV production and media budget to have a breakout video presence anymore. People are filming and editing spots on their iPhones now, posting them in blogs, on websites, Facebook and of course, YouTube. Video and interactive advertising rules because you can suddenly afford it. Print and posters and the old school stuff, already experiencing huge volume declines, continue their grim-faced journey south.

4. Creativity will be re-born. If 2010 was all about the science of advertising taking hold (targeting, analytics, optimization), 2011 will be about The Big Idea strutting back to centre stage. Creativity has always been at the heart of successful marketing, but the rapid recent changes in digital media and consumer behaviour have forced advertisers to get their houses in order pronto. That now well underway, the pendulum swings back to what makes agencies valuable in the first place: murderous ideas.

5. Direct Mail is going to get whacked. As marketers find ever-more effective ways of harnessing data through online behaviour, the traditional snail-mail approach is going to sharply decline. Don’t expect to see it come back. It’s expensive, it’s resource heavy and it takes too long to produce and deliver.

6. Facebook becomes popular. The addictive, eco-systemic nature of Facebook makes monkeys out of the competition. Location-based monster platform? Check. Search functionality? With all your personal preferences aggregated and algorithms on the loose, how far away can social search really be?

7. Research, Engage and Optimize will become the new mantra for ad agencies. If it isn’t targeted, it’s wasted. If it doesn’t create engagement, it’s too easy to ignore. If it isn’t optimized, researching and engaging are pointless.

Have your say. Got a prediction for the 2011? We’d love to hear it.

The risks and rewards of online tracking

5 Nov

“Privacy is dead. Get over it.”

So said social media consultant Jay Baer to us yesterday at our mini T-CAAN West social media summit in Victoria.

What he meant was that our content is out there and being viewed, scrutinized and evaluated – and not just by the people you have chosen to engage with in social media spaces. The spaces are watching; the monitoring sites are collating; people you’ve never met are checking you out.

If you’re a marketer, this is game-changing.

Facebook, Google and Twitter target ads based on user’s content and online behaviour. This is not news. So if you’re getting loads of hot Russian babes seeking you out for long-term companionship on Facebook, go back and check the things you “liked”.

Marketers can so effectively target their advertising by age, location, interests and online behaviour, the efficiencies are through the roof.

An example Jay shared: He was recently targeted with a Proactive ad that asked: “Which of your girlfriends has the clearest skin?” accompanied by the headshots of 6 women who are his Facebook friends, including his wife.

Tracking is becoming more sophisticated daily. But not just tracking performed by moles in basement data-mining labs. It’s accessible to anyone.

By example, if someone leaves a nasty comment on your blog (NEVER happens to us, mind you), you can find out if they’re a real contributor or a nutbar with a site like Klout, which evaluates the influence of Twitter users. Someone with a high Klout score is well-regarded and their content is valued, so you need to pay attention. A low score means far less influence. By the way, you should respond to both.

Tweetstats, a free and harmless looking monitoring site, allows you to track what time of day particular users of Twitter drop their 140-character bombs, so you can target your messages to them when they are most likely to be online.

Targeting key influencers is pointless if you are trying to connect with them when they are sawing logs or painting their toe-nails.

For businesses and consumers, the risks and rewards of social media are growing daily.

Google search has Hakia competition

20 Oct

Hakia is a search engine with meaning. For 2 years nows Hakia has been providing search results based on meaning-match, or semantics, as opposed to Google’s popularity of search terms or keyword matches.

The company has spent millions and built two trademarked tools, QDEX (Query Detection and Extraction) and SemanticRank Algorithm, which use fuzzy logic, computational linguistics and math to allow the engine to perform these semantic analyses of Web pages and arrive at meaning-based search results.

For example, Hakia claims it can bring results using equivalent terms. When I entered “running” I got plenty of “running” results, plus some “walking” entries. Debatable how consistently relevant the equivalent terms are.

But there’s something I like better. For short queries, like a word or two, Hakia categorizes your results into Web, Galleries, Credible sources, Pubmed, News, Blogs, Twitter, Wikipedia, Images, and Videos.

You would have to run as many individual searches in traditional indexing search to arrive at such a volume of categorized results. So it’s not just different, it’s faster.

The knock on Hakia, ironically, is that it’s slow. But since it’s doing ten times the searches of a normal query in Google, the speed is actually relative.

Here’s a blog from Hakia’s own site which goes into the differentiating details.

Give it a go here. It’s a cool engine.

If only the name “Hakia” lent itself more readily to being a verb.

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