Life Before Google, Courtesy of a 1997 Telephone Book

Jan 28th, 2013No Comments

While organizing and decluttering the house, I unearthed a bit of a relic – not Antiques Roadshow-worthy, but historically interesting from a high tech angle.

It’s a 1997 phone book from the San Francisco Bay Area cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View and nearby Silicon Valley areas in Northern California. I lived there during part of the 80s and 90s.

Before heaving this brick of a book into the recycle bin, I thumbed through the listings looking for today’s Silicon Valley giants. What I found instead was a blast-from-the-past reminder of how much life has changed in the last 15 years, simply from an information retrieval point of view.

In other words, I remembered what life was like before Google and other search engines became essential to our daily lives.

Before Google, you perused an encyclopedia to find, say, the GNP of Canada or the capital of Vermont.  If you wrote a report for school, you hiked to the library and squinted at a card catalog or microfiche, and asked a sympathetic librarian for help.

Yellow pages exampleBefore Google, if you needed to find a plumber or a restaurant or the State Bar, you looked in the yellow pages. The phone book people (who are they, anyway?) began making a big phone book for your home and a smaller one, presumably for your car, so you could take it with you everywhere.

The phone book was a go-to source for tons of information, not just addresses and phone numbers. It had city, airport, campus and stadium maps, first aid tips, and a calendar of local events for the year.

Talklines in the Bay Area

Talklines were a "dial-a-topic" data dump.

 

For the truly inquisitive, the phone book listed Talklines, a kind of dial-on-demand information spiel for topics ranging from parenting to stain removal to auto repair. You just called and listened from the comfort of  your home.  (There were practically no mobile phones, and cordless phones were just getting popular.)

The most shocking part of this phone book was the listing of all known websites in the area.  Three whole pages were devoted to the URLs and email addresses of these early adopters of websites in the Silicon Valley. They were listed under “Internet – Web Sites” (right after Interior Decorating and before Investigators).

1997 listing of Internet websites in the Bay Area

1997 yellow pages listing of websites in the Bay Area

This was what life was like before Google, in the stretch of land that is now Google’s (and Facebook’s) headquarters.  Words like SEO, PageRank, keyword optimization, AdWords, link building and black hat tactics had yet to become part of our internet vocabulary.

We didn’t know it, but getting the information we needed was a very slow, very manual process. People relied on phone books like this ancient artifact, and books, newspapers and their friends and family to keep them up to date and get their questions answered.

Life was simpler, but not easier.

Do you remember life before Google?

Suzanne
@suzanne_doughty

‘Tis the Season to Shop With Mobile Apps

Nov 30th, 2012No Comments

Mobile shopping apps are all the rage this holiday season, designed in part for retailers to combat Amazon and the “showrooming” problem.  Determined to get my holiday shopping done early, I put some mobile shopping apps to the test.

I downloaded several of the apps I had read about, including RetailMeNot, Macy’s, Target, shopkick and Google Shopper.  Pressed for time and on a mission, I zeroed in on the easiest-to-use app, RetailMeNot, and the apps for two stores I frequent, Target and Macy’s. Here’s this shopper’s scoop:

RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot was my favorite discovery of the evening – the app is so clear and easy to use and it showcases great deals. I actually rearranged my shopping plan when I saw a 20-30% off deal at Old Navy, and walked away with stocking stuffers and jewelry for some teens and ‘tweens on my list.

mobile shopping with RetailMeNot app

Target

Target’s app is quite full-featured.  It’s a meaty app that’s primed for an ongoing relationship with you, with features such as passport, list making and gift card balances.  But I just needed a few gifts on my list quickly, and I had great luck with the (searchable!) Weekly Ad list and mobile coupons.  Die-hard Target customers are very familiar with the Weekly Ad circular: it’s plastered all over the walls of each entrance and included in local newspapers.  Having the weekly specials searchable, separated by category and at my fingertips was a convenient time saver.

mobile shopping with the Target app

Macy’s

I was excited about Macy’s app, because I had read that one of its features was that it rewarded you with extra coupons the longer you stayed in the store.  That did not happen with me – perhaps that was only a Black Friday promotion.  I asked no fewer than five salespeople, and they weren’t familiar with the feature, let alone the app.  But I feel good that I did save 25% because of this in-store app.  If I had scoured the newspaper, which is what I used to do, I would have gotten the same deal but at the cost of more of my time.

mobile shopping with Macy's app

Are these apps one-hit wonders?

I was very pleased with these three apps – I will use them again and again.  Because I frequent both Target and Macy’s, I plan to dig more deeply into their apps and become a smarter shopper.  If you have a favorite store, be sure to check out its app to see if it works well for you.

RetailMeNot is going to become part of my out-and-about schedule:  Got an errand to run? Check RetailMeNot first to make sure I’m not missing some great nearby deal.  What a time saver, compared to pouring over newspaper ads!

Have you tried any shopping apps this year?

Suzanne
@suzanne_doughty

For Facebook Business Page Admins: 5 Easy Image and Photo Posting Tips For Your Fan Page

Oct 31st, 20122 Comments

Good images and photos are key to engaging your fans on Facebook.  This is especially true for visually oriented businesses, such as restaurants and food, clothing and accessories, furniture, cars, retail in general, and almost any business-to-consumer products.

How do you optimize your image content on Facebook? First, check out this handy infographic by graphic designer Louise Myers. It’s a one-stop shop for all the Facebook image dimensions you’ll need.  Once you’re happy with your basic images – cover photo, profile pic, custom tabs – it’s time to improve, revamp and refine your regular photo-posting routine.

These 5 easy tips will make you a Facebook image-posting pro:

Facebook pinned post with image1. Pin important posts to the top of your timeline, and be sure to include a compelling image. Most Page admins know you can pin any status update to the top left of your Page, which is prime real estate for Page visitors.  A pinned post (you can have only one at a time) stays pinned for 7 days at the top left of your Page, and is typically used to showcase a contest, upcoming event, or welcome video or image.

I like how Tocquiny, an Austin ad agency, has a simple “We’re Hiring” message to communicate, but instead of a ho-hum text update, they created a simple image which attracts more attention and which also appears as the top photo in their custom tab section.

2a. Use the star to highlight important posts.  A highlighted post expands across the width of your timeline, taking up the space in both columns.  Highlighted posts are good for all-hands photos, new product announcements, panoramic shots, or any other majorly horizontal photo. It will display at 843px wide by whatever height it is, up to 403px. Killer image tip: Put each customer testimonial in its own 843px-wide image and “sprinkle” these testimonials throughout your timeline by using the post scheduler to either backdate or schedule them.

2b. Easiest tip ever:  Highlight your best photos in your photo collection.  You have a ton of photos lounging in your Photos tab.  Find your favorites or your fans’ favorites and click the star to quadruple their size.  For example, BerryAustin can choose to highlight its popular, artistic catering van.

Facebook image posts - highlighted photo

3. Promote your blog post on your Page by posting a larger image, not just a link and thumbnail. Facebook’s default way of displaying a link is to show the title, some text and a tiny thumbnail. Your awesome blog post deserves more real estate than that!  So take a couple of minutes to screenshot the top of your blog article and then post that image, along with a short intro and the all-important link to the article.

Caution: Remember that this image will show up in some of your fans’ newsfeeds, so don’t go overboard and make a really long screenshot image to clutter up their feeds. I try to make as close to a square image as I can. See tip #4.

Facebook photos - posting screenshot image of blog article post

4.  When creating/editing images or snapping photos, think square. Photos that appear on your timeline wall display as a 403px square image. If your image is a larger square, Facebook will typically shrink it to fit.

If your photo is the common 4:3 aspect ratio of the default iPhone/Android camera app, then Facebook usually displays the topmost part on the timeline wall – vertical photos appear as if the bottom is cropped out. The good news? Once a photo is posted on your timeline wall, you can reposition it. Also, users who click on the photo will see it in its entirety; and when the photo appears in your fans’ newsfeeds, it will also appear in its entirety.

Facebook image displays at 403 pixels wideHorizontal photos wider than 403 pixels will have the edges cut off. This emoticons image was 500px wide, so Facebook cropped off the edges to display it as 403px wide.  Now users who visit the Page will need to click through to get the left side of the emoticons.

Facebook images - use square photos to display best on your timeline wallOne easy way to think square for mobile photo uploads is to use Instagram for most of your smartphone photos. Another way is to use an app like Pic Stitch (iPhone) or Photo Grid (Android) to make your default camera photo square before you post it.

When you create an image from scratch – again, think square, especially if the image is wider than 403px.  Bazaarvoice used a square image to display this quote about CMOs being brand stewards.  Page visitors will get the message at a glance without getting confused or having to click through.

5. Spruce up your Facebook Page with a wider variety of images.  If you’re bored with the types of images you’ve been posting to your Page, consider something new:  adding text to your photos, combining or “collaging” several photos into one, newsjacking a meme, using “prefab” e-cards, or putting quotations on a background canvas.  For more details on how to do these, see 5 Easy Apps to Improve and Customize Your Images and Photos.

Question:  What’s one of your tried-and-true image posting apps or tips?

Suzanne
@suzanne_doughty

5 Easy Apps to Improve and Customize Your Images and Photos

Oct 30th, 2012No Comments

If you have a smartphone, you’re a photographer.  And you probably spend quality time with your favorite photo and image editing software, whether it’s a desktop tool like Photoshop, or a mobile app like Instagram, Photoshop Express or Camera+, or a desktop/mobile combo like Pixlr-o-matic or Snapseed.

Want to take your creativity up a notch, and perhaps boost engagement on your Facebook fan page?  Your imagination and these five easy apps will breathe new life into your image-posting routines, no matter which social networks host your new creations.

Using Pic Stitch and Over to vary Facebook image content

Oscar used Over to put "SOCO" (South Congress) over one of the photos and then used Picstitch to combine 3 other photos in the collage.

1. Add text on top of your image/photo with Over. This mobile app does one thing and does it well – check out this quick video. Currently Over is available only for iOS devices.

2. Collage your photos with Pic Stitch for iPhone/iPad or Photo Grid for Android.  Both are tap-intuitive and give you lots of choices for the grid layout and the photo aspect ratio.  Use Pic Stitch and Photo Grid for before-and-after shots, series-of-steps illustrations, views of a product from different angles, photos of your employees and more.

I sometimes use Pic Stitch as a “make my image square” app before uploading a photo to Facebook, because square photos look better on a Facebook timeline/wall versus photos with the default iPhone 4:3 aspect ratio.

Image editing with quickmemeAdded bonus: Pic Stitch can also export photos to your Evernote or Dropbox account, which is useful if you like to keep blog-inspiration images in one of these, as I do with Evernote.

3.  Piggyback on a popular meme by using Quickmeme or other meme generators.  Quickmeme is available as both a desktop tool and mobile app. Not sure what the meme means? Check knowyourmeme.com.

BerryAustin Yogurt used Quickmeme’s version of the Dos Equis man to promote their Sunday special featuring hot fudge sundaes.

image editing with someecards for Facebook 4. Parody a sentiment with Someecards or other free online e-card.  Someecards is available as both a mobile app and desktop tool.  Again, BerryAustin has a fun, creative example.

5. Use Instagram.  I saved the biggy for last.  Instagram is both a photo editor (famous for its filters) and a social network with over 50 million users.  If you’re not using it, dip your big toe in the Instagram water by reading this great tutorial from Laura Zimmerman and this beginner’s guide by Mashable. Instagram photos are square, which again, almost always look better on a Facebook timeline.

Bonus tip: If you create some to-die-for, amazing images, consider protecting (or at least claiming credit for) them by putting a watermark on them with iWatermark.  Phyllis Khare of All Things Social Media gives good advice and more details on iWatermark in her blog post.

Question:  Have you tried any of these tools? Do you have other favorites? Please share!

Suzanne
@suzanne_doughty

Promote Your High Tech Event in Austin – For Free

Jul 11th, 20121 Comment

The high tech scene in Austin is abuzz and swarming with meetups, happy hours, Startup Olympics and other fun, educational and networking events.  How do you break through the cacophony to reach tech-savvy pros and wanna-be geeks?

Corral a crowd with these tried-and-true tips, which are based on my experience promoting Social Media Club Austin panels and on great advice from fellow well-connected SMCAustin board members.  Note that some of these to-do’s are aspirational, as in “we fully intend to check off each of these items for every event, but seriously, there are only so many hours in a day”.

Let’s start at the very beginning

High-tech folks spend much of their lives online, so we focus the lion’s share of energy there.  Start by creating and publishing your event online, whether on your website, blog, Eventbrite or other event software such as Constant Contact’s.  Some fine tuning tips:

  • Craft a mini-description which you’ll use later for Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.  If you keep this description < 500 characters, you can also use it for Austin360.
  • Also put together a 250-word description for Community Impact News, The Austinot and all other Hubvine particpating calendars (see below).
  • While you’re at it, compose a micro-description of less than 140 chars for Twitter and the Austinist.
  • Arm yourself with relevant hashtags and Twitter handles of presenters and sponsors.

Start your engines – the fun begins!

1. Cue your community of members, friends and followers

Begin with your own community, where you’ll get the best attendance – and the most word of mouth.

  1. Email – Got a house list of opt-in subscribers?  Congrats – email is one of the most effective vehicles to reach your audience, and you also get the benefits of metrics on the backend.
  2. Facebook – Post the direct link and description of your event on the wall of your Facebook group or fan page.  At-tag your presenters because they’ll often chime in and talk up your event.  If it’s an educational event, as ours are, drum up interest on your wall by soliciting questions ahead of time.  Side note: We avoid using the actual Facebook Events feature, because 1) Facebook changes its feature set so often (sometimes you can message members/fans, sometimes you can’t) and 2) you don’t have a lot of control of event virality and attendance (see 10 Facebook events gone wrong).
  3. TwitterAt-mention your presenters so they can retweet and promote to their own followers.  Use hashtags to reach an even wider audience. Our hashtag is #SMCA and we sometimes add #austin or #atx.  On other tweets, we’ve use subject matter hashtags, such as #npo for the nonprofits panel and #socialrecruiting for – you guessed it – the social recruiting panel.  Also at-tag and thank your sponsors in advance of the event, so that they too can promote the event.
  4. LinkedIn – We have our own LinkedIn group, so of course, we post there.  I also post the event as a personal status update on LinkedIn.
  5. Google+ – We post publicly, and again, call out presenters so they can add to the conversation.

Important:  Don’t post and ditch.  After promoting an event to your community, be ready to respond to any questions or other feedback.  I’ve set up Twitter mentions of @smcaustin to come to my phone so I can respond quickly, and Facebook, LinkedIn and G+ posts come to my email.  Timely responses increase engagement; and in the case of Facebook, your post’s Edgerank improves, which in turns further increases visibility of your post.  It’s a happy circle of engagement life.

2. Branch out to the Austin high-tech arena

  • While you’re in LinkedIn, consider posting to other active groups that might enjoy your topic, such as Austin High-Tech.  This group is actually the work of Matt Genovese, founder of Door64, a 25,000-member hub for Austin’s tech community.  Be sure to register on Door64, and post your event to his Tech Events Calendar.
  • Omar Gallaga writes about technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman in his Digital Savant blog.  Every Thursday or Friday, he posts a “linkdown” of tech events and good reads.  Emailing Omar a week or two in advance is the best way to get event listed; add the word LINKDOWN to the subject line.  If you have a major tech event on your hands, contact him directly at ogallaga@statesman.com or 512-445-3672, and if it’s open to the public, also email the Life & Arts Best Bets folks at bestbets@statesman.com.
  • Silicon Hills News is a start-up tech and biotech news outlet focused on the San Antonio and Austin area. Contact Laura Lorek and/or post to her Tech Calendar.
  • Consider using Hubvine, an Austin-based creator of collaborative community calendars.  You sign up, create an event on your own calendar, then submit your event to others’ calendars. I submitted our latest panel to the calendars for Tech Ranch Austin, Austin Entrepreneur Network, AustinIsIt – City of Austin Emerging Technology Program, AustinStartup.com, Sharp Skirts and the Austinot.  (At the time I submitted, only AustinIsIt and The Austinot had any other events posted.)

Of course, there are tech meetups aplenty in Austin, from CocoaCoders to Austin Brogrammers.  If you’re an active member of one or more meetup groups, consider posting your event there as well.  Always check with the Organizer first, so you don’t run the risk of spamming the group.

3. Reach out to the Austin business scene and community at large

So many great outlets, so little time!  List your event on some of these community events calendars, and later have your registration people ask attendees where they heard about your event.

  • Austin Business Journal – Register then create your event (less than 600 characters), 14 days advance notice, $99 for business events but can be free for nonprofits.
  • Austin360 – Register then create your event (less than 500 characters). Categories we use are 1) Business and Tech – Networking and 2) Community – Talks and Lectures.
  • Austin Chronicle – Geared toward the Thursday print issue, and deadline is the Monday before the week prior to the Thursday (so 10+ days in advance). For events that repeat on a regular basis, submit a Community Listing.
  • The Austinot – A great blog about all things Austin.  We have a special place in our hearts for Austinot founder Eric Highland, a regular at our SMCAustin panels and a great live-tweeter.  Submit events to The Austinot by using Hubvine above.
  • Austinist – A news and culture website about Austin, published by Gothamist.
  • Community Impact Newspaper (Central Austin) – The central Austin version of this fast-growing, hyper-local newspaper.
  • News 8 Austin
  • KVUE-TV (ABC)
  • KEYE-TV (CBS)
  • KXAN-TV (NBC)
  • KTBC-TV Fox 7 News – No apparent calendar link, just a contact form.
  • KUT Radio - To have your event considered for on-air public service announcements, send a press release to psa@kut.org.
  • KLBJ-AM 590 News Radio – Submit events to newsroom@emmisaustin.com.
  • KGSR-FM 107.1 – Submit events to cedge@emmisaustin.com.
  • KOOP-FM 91.7 – Submit events to info@koop.org.

Any ideas on optimizing, automating or otherwise improving this?  Would love to hear your comments!

Suzanne
@suzanne_doughty

Helpful links:

Social Media Event Marketing E-Book by cvent
UT’s Event Guide from the UT Office of Public Affairs
Pre-Event Publicity from the UT McCombs School of Business

Related posts:

Are Your Facebook Fans Even Seeing Your Posts?
Do’s and Don’ts of Community Manager Rock Stars
10 Ways to Integrate Your Email and Facebook Marketing

Austin Chamber: Monkee-Boy, Google and Cedar Sage Marketing Discuss Building your Online Presence

Jun 9th, 20112 Comments
Austin Chamber presents "How to Market Your Business Online"

Panelists for "How to Market Your Business Online"

The Austin Chamber of Commerce Northwest Business Council luncheon featured presentations and a panel discussion on how to market your business online. Presenters were:

Some of my high-level, don’t-get-caught-in-the-details takeaways follow.

From Joe at Monkee-Boy:

  • You can build a world-class online presence for a fraction of the cost it would have required 5 years ago.  When thinking about your online presence, consider your website, social media, mobile web, localized marketing, SaaS (Software as a Service), crowd-sourced design, open-source technology; as well as SEO, PPC and email marketing.
  • Understanding your brand is the most effective way to build a successful web presence.  To understand your brand, you must first know your company, your customers and your competition.
  • Then tackle aesthetics and messaging, how to drive traffic to your site and build awareness, which technology to implement, and how to acquire new customers and keep existing ones.
  • Other benefits to understanding your brand:  it saves you money by keeping you focused as you grow, it establishes your company culture and it helps increase sales.

See Monkee-Boy’s slide deck on Slideshare.

From Whitney at Google:

  • 1 in 5 searches online is local, and Google Places (which is free) helps those users find your business.
  • It’s a one-stop online listing to find everything you want to know about a local business (address, hours, photos/videos, description, contact info).  Here’s an example, from Maggiano’s, our luncheon host.
  • Google Places also includes a local recommendation engine that is powered by others.  People use Google Places both to review local businesses and to receive customized, personalized recommendations from their friends.
  • The more reviews you have, the more exposure you have.  Businesses can/should encourage people to write reviews, but don’t incentivize them monetarily.  Also, Google will not remove negative reviews.  They do, however, provide an “owner response box”, and typically, users see mostly reviews by their friends. [Also, see Google Places Catalog.
  • [News to me:] Google Places has a “G-Feet team” that will come to you and help you get set up. Contact whitneyfr@google.com.

See Mashable’s article on Google Places for more info.

From Rhonda here at Cedar Sage:

Rhonda’s presentation was Email Marketing and Social Media 101, but she only had time to address the email marketing portion in the time remaining.  Key takeaways:

  • Nearly 2/3 of all businesses expect to increase their use of email marketing, and small businesses are the most likely of all.
  • Benefits of email marketing: 1) inexpensive way to build relationships with clients and prospects, 2) positions you as an expert, and as likable and trustworthy, 3) keeps your customers “in the know”.
  • Email Marketing Do’s:  provide relevant content, segment your lists, have a recognizable “from” line, have an enticing but true “subject” line, use clickable links for tracking and to gauge interest, and finally, analyze your data and make adjustments for future mailings.
  • Email Marketing Don’ts:  Don’t email without permission, don’t include the “kitchen sink”, and don’t skip the email service provider!
  • Not using a reputable email service provider can sometimes land your emails in recipients’ spam folders and can potentially cause internet service providers to mark  your email address as a spammer.

Our complete presentation with both email marketing and social media slides can be found on Slideshare.

Lots of great Q&A followed.  One of the first questions had to do with having a website and could a business just rely on its Facebook business page instead?   The panel agreed that you should have both.  Reason:  Because You, versus Facebook, own your website, while Facebook offers access to and potential engagement with many, many people.   Another question had to do with QR codes.  For basic info on QR codes, see our QR codes blog post.

Maggiano’s was great!  Many thanks to them, the presenters, the attendees, our MC, Lynne Henderlong-Rhea of Mombo Creative, and of course, the Austin Chamber.  Feel free to add comments (even if you weren’t there)!

-Suzanne Doughty
@suzanne_doughty

Other blog posts you might be interested in:

Tina Fey’s Rules of Improv Apply to Your Clients Too
QR Codes 101 – What They Are and Why to Use Them
Why to Sign Up for Twitter Even if You Hate It
3 Must Dos when setting up a Facebook Business Page
They Fly Through the Air: Austin Businesses Using Constant Contact Email Marketing

Beyond LinkedIn Basics – Highlights of Mario Sundar’s Social Media Summit 2011 Talk

May 29th, 20115 Comments

Mario Sundar of LinkedIn Mario Sundar, worldwide Social Media Manager and chief blogger at LinkedIn, spoke on day 5 of the Social Media Success Summit 2011.  Practicing what he preaches, he first gathered questions from attendees a few weeks ago within the summit’s (private) LinkedIn group.  He then based his talk around the most asked-about topics:  1) Company Pages, 2) Groups, 3) Answers, 4) B2B use and 5) Small/Medium Businesses (SMBs) use. Key takeaways from his talk were:

  • Continuously sync your real world connections into LinkedIn.
  • If you have time to update only one part of your profile, update your Specialties because it helps you to be found.
  • Take advantage of Advanced Search – it’s extremely powerful.
  • As a company (on a Company Page), you should actively seek recommendations for your products/services.

LinkedIn iconBut first, some LinkedIn basics from Sundar:

LinkedIn is important because its members are the world’s largest audience of affluent, influential professionals. Over 100 million professionals are currently on LinkedIn – 44 million in the US, 56 million internationally – and over 1 million professionals sign up every week (1 per second).

Advice for individuals on LinkedIn:

  1. Use a recognizable photo.
  2. Keep your connections public so others can figure out their connection to you.
  3. Update your Specialties with relevant keywords as you gain expertise in your job. This enables LinkedIn and Google searches to find you.
  4. Sync with your Twitter, blog and Slideshare accounts, especially if prospective customers and potential hires are following you.
  5. Constantly sync your real world connections with LinkedIn.  First, start with your webmail (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) import tool. Sundar said that what works best for him and many of his colleagues is to scan through emails at the end of the day for any new individuals to connect with.
    Side note from Sundar:  To see LinkedIn and otherwise “enriched” profiles in your email, try Rapportive with Gmail or Xobni with Yahoo.  Further, if you’re on a PC, MS Outlook has a LinkedIn plugin that pulls in your LinkedIn profile and shows your connections and their conversations, so as to provide some context and background to go along with their emails.
  6. Use the Advanced Search tool – it’s LinkedIn’s “secret sauce”.  It lets you slice and dice data from professionals based on their names, keywords, locations, titles, companies, industries, groups and more.

If you need more info on getting started with LinkedIn, consider attending one of the free training webinars or exploring their Learning Center.

Social Media Success Summit - May 2011The Five Most Requested Topics from Summit Attendees

1. Company Pages

If your target customers are businesses or business professionals, you should have a LinkedIn Company Page, because it can help you reach your three key audiences:  customers, prospects and potential employees. In fact, the three tabs on the Company Page are targeted to these three audiences.

Overview tabtargeted to existing customers:  On this tab, you can keep people up to date on what’s happening with your company.  You can also bring in recent blog posts and tweets, as Social Media Examiner’s LinkedIn Page does.  Sundar says that soon we’ll see some dramatic changes to this tab.

Career tabtargeted to potential employees:  It allows your company to post job openings in hopes of attracting top talent.  As an example, see the Career tab of LinkedIn’s own Company Page.

Products & Services tabtargeted to potential customers:  Sundar called this the “nerve center” because companies can not only showcase their products and services, but also list LinkedIn users’ recommendations; and the fact that these recommendations are from people in your network make those recs all the more powerful.  For this reason, Sundar called it another “secret sauce” and encouraged companies to beef up their products and services recommendations by sharing the page.  (To prevent spam, LinkedIn puts a limit on how many people companies can reach out to this way). Larger companies that want to scale their recommendations quickly might want to use one of LinkedIn premium features.  Sundar pointed to Hewlett-Packard’s Recommendations tab as a good example of a Company Page that has many recommendations that would reach a lot of professionals.

Three important points about administering Company Pages:

  • To edit a Company Page, you must have an email address with your company’s domain name (i.e., no generic Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail webmail email addresses).
  • You can allow anyone within your company to edit the page, but Sundar cautions against it, to prevent havoc-wreaking by disgruntled employees.  Consider having social media-savvy HR or marketing people administer the page, with HR managing the careers portion and marketing managing the rest.
  • Companies also have an Analytics tab, so be sure to track your results over time.

See LinkedIn’s own Guide to Setting Up Your Company Page.  Sundar also recommended Linda Coles‘ Social Media Examiner post “8 New LinkedIn Features Worth Exploration” as a must-read.  Note: Coles has made a number of informative SME posts which cover LinkedIn.

2. Groups

Sundar said that, after completing your individual profile, the first place to explore is LinkedIn Groups.  Groups are a great tool, especially for SMBs, because professionals (i.e., prospective customers, suppliers and partners) are discussing the same general topic, which might be right up your alley.  Sundar recommends first finding the right group, either by searching keywords or by following LinkedIn’s suggestions which are based on your interests.  Then start by listening to make sure the group is a good fit.   If it is, you should provide value both by asking relevant questions and by answering others’ questions.  Do this for existing groups before you embark on creating, managing and moderating your own group, which is a big time commitment.

Sundar also talked about Custom Groups, which can be particularly helpful for large businesses.  He pointed to Philips Healthcare as a good example.

3.  Answers

Sundar called LinkedIn Answers a “sister product” to Groups, so after you’re familiar with Groups, explore Answers as the logical next step.  Again, the Answers tool is especially well suited for SMBs, who often have time-sensitive questions about all facets of their business, including choosing the right vendor, planning professional events, answering basic tax questions, etc.  As with Groups, you can also answer people’s queries within the Answers tool, which will position you as an expert when prospects later search on the topic.

One of the best parts about Answers, according to Sundar, is that you can create an RSS feed of answers related to specific topics that you can pull into Google Reader, for example.

4. B2B Marketing

LinkedIn is probably the best social site for B2B marketing, said Sundar.  The numbers support this, as most B2B marketers who do use social media to grow their business say that LinkedIn is the most important social media channel for them.  All the advice above holds true for B2B marketers, so do keep your Company Page up to date and do encourage product recommendations and do engage in Groups and Answers.  The icing on the cake is to get your employees to authentically evangelize your products and offer recommendations on company profiles.

5. Small and Medium Size Business Marketing

Sundar pointed to Guy Kawasaki’s excellent blog post on 10 Ways for Small Businesses to Use LinkedIn.  Four key tips from that article:

  • Network with peers for repeat referral business
  • Be your own publicity machine
  • Find and build your team
  • For startups: raise funding

LinkedIn Today

During the Q&A session, Sundar also talked about newer features LinkedIn Today and Share.  [And if there were a Search field within the LinkedIn Learning Center, I would more easily find the link that explains the LinkedIn Share tool. Feel free to post it in the comments section. Here's what I get when Mike Stelzner highly recommended LinkedIn Today as a way to find breaking news that you and your professional contacts find relevant.  Sundar said it was one of his favorite features and Mike said it is one of the top sources of traffic for Social Media Examiner.

-Suzanne Doughty
Cedar Sage Marketing
@suzanne_doughty

Wow, time to sync my LinkedIn connections. I know I’ve let lots of opportunities to connect with people over LinkedIn slip by, and it’s time to take steps to rectify the situation.  Can you relate?

 

Seizing the Moment: Highlights of David Meerman Scott’s “Real-Time Marketing” Talk

May 18th, 20117 Comments

alarm clockDavid Meerman Scott, author of “Real-Time Marketing and PR” and “The New Rules of Marketing and PR“, spoke on Day 4 of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit 2011.  He focused on the importance of real-time, instant engagement, and one of his overarching messages was “Social media are tools.  Real time is a mindset.”

Social Media Success Summit - May 2011Scott emphasized the importance of seizing marketing opportunities in real time, and presented compelling examples of companies that did just that:

Oakley and the Chilean miners - Who can forget the miners trapped underground for so many weeks last year? When they finally emerged, they were wearing Oakley sunglasses. Oakley had jumped at the chance to donate 33 pairs of $180 sunglasses to protect the miners’ eyes, and garnered $41 million in equivalent advertising time, as over a billion people watched the dramatic rescue.

Wynn Hotels and Paris Hilton – Paris Hilton was arrested in Las Vegas for drug possession in late August 2010.  Wynn Hotels quickly saw the “buzz snatching” opportunity and announced they were banning her from their Vegas hotel.   Subsequent articles – last count, over 5,000 of them – about her arrest include a mention of Wynn Hotels’ ban.

Scott said that reporters and editors are always “looking for the second paragraph” (context, or an additional angle) of a story, so marketers should react quickly if they can somehow insert their product or service into a newsworthy event, as Wynn Hotels did.

Eloqua and Oracle or “How a Company Made $1 million with a Blog Post” – Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua, a B2B marketing software automation company, reacted quickly when news broke that Oracle acquired his company’s competitor, Market2Lead.  That evening, he wrote a blog post “Oracle Joins the Party” which analyzed what the acquisition meant to the industry. Reporters then had that second paragraph, and Eloqua and Joe Payne were continually mentioned in the same breath as Oracle and Market2Lead in subsequent stories.

Eloqua then took it one step further and emailed Market2Lead customers a friendly invitation to take advantage of a special transition-to-Eloqua program.  Surprisingly, many of these customers were hearing of the acquisition for the first time from Eloqua, not Market2Lead or Oracle!  To date, Eloqua has closed over $1m of new business as a result of this effort.

David Meerman Scott's books
David Meerman Scott’s books – image from www.davidmeermanscott.com

Digging Deeper For Marketing Lessons

Scott dissected the United Breaks Guitars story because it’s full of lessons for marketers.  Quick summary of the incident:  In mid 2008, singer-songwriter Dave Carroll watched helplessly from a United plane as his beloved Taylor guitar was battered and manhandled on the tarmac.  After a year-long unsuccessful effort to get compensation from United, the polite Canadian recorded a song and video about his frustrating experience.

The video went viral, first with bloggers and then with the mainstream media.  In fact, his YouTube video now has over 10 million views.  (Scott presented various timeline charts which showed the daily pace of the viralness.)  Meanwhile, United remained tightlipped throughout the public opinion firestorm that followed, and remained so even as Scott contacted them recently for his research.

Defensive lesson for United: Scott has a general recommendation for those in a position of defense, such as United was: Speak like a human.  You don’t have to admit wrongdoing, but do say something true and relevant.  Scott would have recommended that United duct-tape a camera onto a suitcase and chronicle its bumpy ride from origin to destination.  Perhaps then the second paragraph of the “Singer seeks revenge with YouTube” story would have been the intricate process of baggage handling, rather than “No comment from United.”

Offensive/buzz-snatching lesson from Taylor Guitars and Calton Cases:  Very soon after the United Breaks Guitars video went viral, Taylor Guitars’ Bob Taylor put up his own YouTube video about how to best travel with your guitar.  The video took less than an hour to produce, has gotten over 500,000 views, and Scott said 2010 was a banner year for Taylor Guitars.  Similary, Calton Cases, which makes high-end guitar cases, created a “Dave Carroll Traveler’s Edition” case, which has also been successful.

[Just fyi, Scott never used the words "defensive", "offensive" or "buzz-snatching" - those terms are based on my own interpretation.  Also, an aside - there's a IBM’s and Cisco’s.

  • Implement real-time monitoring systems to continuously scan the horizon for opportunities. Individuals can use Google Alerts and TweetDeck or Hootsuite. A more formalized approach might include Social Media Measurement Systems at the enterprise or agency level.
  • Develop and propogate a real-time mindset throughout your business.
  • When Higher-ups Push Back

    When advocating and implementing this real-time-marketing-using-social-media idea, you might face pushback from higher-ups in your company. Scott says this resistance is based on fear and often plays out with questions and objections such as:

    • “What’s the ROI?” Scott’s answer is twofold: 1) He first asks, “What’s the ROI of your company-issued Blackberries; i.e., your other real-time device?” 2) He then presents an analysis showing that Fortune 100 companies engaged in real-time communications enjoyed higher stock valuations.
    • “We can’t engage over social media because our company is _______ (insert: B2B, B2C, B2G, NPO, a government agency, in health care, in finance, etc).”  To this, Scott point to the US Air Force as his poster child for an organization that could make a good case for not using social media. Scott quoted Captain Nathan Broshear who said, “If the generals trust a 23-year-old to work on a $50m airplane, why wouldn’t they trust him on Facebook?”

    How to Deal with Higher-ups’ Fear of Social Media and Real-Time Engagement

    This question came up during the Q & A.  Scott responded with 3 choices:

    1. Try to be an agent of change.  If, for example, you can make a YouTube video that generates a sale or a WSJ article, then you have a success story to bring to management.  Don’t go against company policy, but don’t necessarily ask for permission either.  And if at all possible, get salespeople on your side to help make your case.
    2. Resign yourself to the status quo.
    3. Just resign.

    This was an informative, inspiring session from David Meerman Scott.  I’ve ordered his book and look forward to even more insights.  My main question now is – How do you get the song “United Breaks Guitars” out of  your head?

    Suzanne Doughty
    Cedar Sage Marketing
    @suzanne_doughty
    www.cedarsage.com

    Highlights of Social Media Success Summit 2011 – Day 3 with Stelzner & Thomases

    May 15th, 20112 Comments

    Social Media Success Summit 2011 Day 3 with Stelzner and Thomases

    Mike StelznerProven Social Media Strategies to Rapidly Grow Your Business
    Hollis Thomases
    13 Ways to Use Twitter Marketing to Grow Your Business

    Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and author of Launch, kicked off Day 3 of the summit with an enticing caveat that his recommendations would go against conventional marketing wisdom, but they’ve proven to be especially effective over the last few years.   Hollis Thomases then overviewed numerous examples of how businesses can effectively use Twitter.  She also pointed to a number of tools you can use to get the most out of Twitter.

    Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition

    Drawing for a free book at ElevationPrinciple.com

    Mike began with an analogy of your business as a rocket that you must navigate to new heights.  What propels you forward is catering to people’s core desires:

    1. access to great information and insights,
    2. access to great people and
    3. recognition.

    Attaining these is more important to your prospects and customers than buying the products and services you offer.

    What complicates your challenge of reaching potential customers are the non-stop marketing messages that bombard us all – ads in texts, emails, billboards, subways, even in bathrooms.  People tune out, seek refuge and adopt a default attitude of distrust.

    To break through the noise and establish trust, you must meet people’s core desires and help them solve their smaller problems at no cost – and with negligible self-promotion.  When you give people access to information and experts for free, they’ll wonder how much more they will gain if they actually buy your offerings. Because you’ve helped them address their smaller problems, they will trust you with their bigger issues.

    Mike summarized this “elevation principle” in his formula for success:

    Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth

    There are two types of great content:

    1. “Primary fuel” or regularly produced content such as how-to articles and product reviews. This fuel propels you forward day to day and keeps people interested. Its effect is short term, lasting about 3-7 days.  Two examples are Social Media Examiner’s regular blog on its homepage and Hubspot’s free webinars.  Tips on producing regular content:

    • How to articles:  Pick topics your readers are interested in (survey them to find out); include details and make the article readable with bolded key points, screenshot images and videos; make it printable with printfriendly.
    • Expert interviews:  Approach experts speaking at local events. Note that experts who are authors are most open to interviews when their new book is launching. [Use Steve Garfield's video tips for interviews, especially remote interviews with ScreenFlow for the Mac and Camtasia for PCs. [SnagIt for simple screen capture and editing.]
    • Case studies of people or companies in your industry: Start with the problem, explain how they addressed it and what the results were. A nice byproduct is that working on their case study will often lead to strategic partnerships.  For example, SME did a post on “How Microsoft Xbox Uses Twitter to Reduce Support Costs” and then Microsoft later spoke at one of their events. [Same thing with 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report , Top 10 Social Media Blogs – 2011 and Top 10 Social Media Blogs – 2010, as well as Hubspot’s website grader.  Note that even this extremely valuable content is free.

      • Reports based on large surveys: These are highly viral and typically have a long life and enjoy strong SEO. Tip: Include a retweet button in the pdf file for even more viral spread.
      • Contests juried by experts:  These appeal to people’s need for recognition and are very important for building relationships.  Process: Recruit judges, ask for nominations, announce finalists, announce winners and give them an electronic badge to post.

      The “Other People” part of the equation is often overlooked but extremely important.  Other people are outside experts, successful peers and authors/speakers.  When you lift other people, they will lift you (e.g., with a future partnership opportunity), so it’s a win-win.  For example, if you are a cooking products manufacturer, you could showcase different chefs. Your audience will get cooking tips and the chefs will get exposure; both will view you as a resource and problem-solver.

      By using the elevation principle, Social Media Examiner generated $1.7m in revenue in its first year.  Its only marketing messages were an occasional small ad on its website and reminders through its “back channel” email list.

      Two other companies that uses this principle are The Pioneer Woman and  Hubspot.  Note that both websites are devoid of obvious marketing messages.  Yet, when Pioneer Woman released a cookbook, it became a #1 New York Times best seller because so many people had enjoyed the recipes and photographs on her website.  Similarly, Hubspot, which started in 2006, has grown to a $20m company and generates 25,000 leads monthly.  Mike Volpe, Hubspot’s VP of Marketing, said you only need a drop or two of the marketing message for every gallon of content.

      In summary, build a gathering place with great content and the support of outside experts.  If it’s a place without marketing messages, you’ll quickly attract a big following, increase partnership opportunities and grow sales.

      Mike’s book, Launch, releases on June 6.  His first chapter can be downloaded for free at ElevationPrinciple.com.

      Hollis Thomases – 19 Ways to Use Twitter Marketing to Grow Your Business

      Twitter Marketing: An Hour a DayHollis, founder of WebAdvantage and author of Twitter Marketing:  An Hour a Day, presented an example-rich and tool-rich webinar which was extremely helpful and practical.

      First, the Twitter landscape:  Twitter currently has over 200 million users and 1 billion tweets per week.  It continues to grow exponentially, adding 460,000 new users in March 2011 alone.

      In general, Twitter allows you to quickly share information, build relationships, reach out to prospects, service customers, and gather intelligence and feedback.  Specifically, here are 19 ways businesses are using Twitter:

      1. Build branding and awareness, as pfizer_news does. Note Pfizer’s bio and how it lists resources for safety, journalists and press.
      2. Direct-to-consumer marketingBlack_DeckerUS which typically sells through retail stores
      3. Provide direct customer servicecomcastcares
      4. Build loyalty and retentioncakemail, an email marketing platform
      5. Promote events, locations, etckogibbq mobile food carts
      6. Generate leads and salesTheMontereyCo [Side note: while looking at TheMontereyCo's tweetstream, I ran across a tweet by JetBlueCheeps
      7. Get instant feedbackmysolutionspot
      8. Market B2B eventsPharmaMarketers Use a hashtag so attendees can communicate before, during and after the event.
      9. Deliver localized informationdbctfx traffic alerts within Delaware
      10. Conduct market research – What human spa service would you like to see here at @themacspa? Take our poll at here.
      11. Recruit members or personnelaigaidaho, the Idaho chapter of AIGA professional designers
      12. Thought leadership (being intentionally different from people’s expectations): Online banking company INGDIRECT providing fun facts, tweeting in Pig Latin, etc
      13. Change attitudes – post facts to influence others
      14. Gain competitive advantage – be on Twitter to listen to others talk about you, and then respond.
      15. Manage crisesBP_America took a very long time to post about its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, at least, its profile page has restoration and contact info on it.
      16. Create spokespeople… for free SouthwestAir often has raving fans who post.
      17. Entertain (why celebrities are popular on Twitter) – funnyordie
      18. Raise search visibility – tweets have their own URLs and are indexed by the search engines.

      Hollis then gave an overview of Twitter fundamentals, including setting up a profile, choosing who to follow, using lists, searching, establishing goals and objectives, and actually tweeting.  (This overview starts at about minute 17. )  A few general take-aways:

      • Your Twitter account is a company asset which should not be given to an intern or temp to set up or manage.
      • You can more easily manage Twitter using popular clients such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Seesmic.  Take full advantage of Twitter lists and consider Listorious, Formulists and Twibes.
      • You can use some of the above management tools to schedule your tweets and automatically push them to other social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, but don’t overdo it.  Rather, engage uniquely and authentically in each of your social media channels.

      You can actually do a lot with 140 characters and a URL shortener, but here are tools to enhance your tweets further:

      1. Video - twitlens, twitvid
      2. Audiotwaudio, hark, audioboo, soundcloud
      3. Photostwitpic, yfrog, twitgoo
      4. Surveys & pollstwtpoll
      5. Contests, coupons & invitestwtQpon, TicketLeap, twtvite
      6. Chattweetchat, tinychat, tweetworks
      7. Music sharingblip.fmtwt.fm, song.ly, soundcloud
      8. Tweeting more than 140 charactersdeckly (by Tweetdeck), twitlonger, tinypaste, jumbotweet

      For tracking and monitoring your tweets, start with URL shorteners such as bitly, su.pr, budURL and owly. You can also use Twitter alerts such as TweetBeep, Twilert or BackTweets to notify you of tweets containing the keywords you specify (similar to what Google Alerts does).  For analytics on actual Twitter users, see Twitalyzer and Klout.

      More general social media tracking tools that include Twitter tracking are SocialMention and Viral Heat at the entry level, and Trendrr, ScoutLabs and RapLeaf at the mid-level.  Hollis did not discuss the more expensive enterprise-level solutions.

      In summary, Twitter at first glance is one of the easiest social media tools to use – just type in 140 characters.  But to get the most out of Twitter, you need to decide what your objective is, see how others are using it well, start by listening, and learn some basic tools.

      Suzanne Doughty
      Cedar Sage Marketing
      @suzanne_doughty
      www.cedarsage.com

      So many new tools, so little time!  I’ll start with the idea of Twitter alerts, because if they are as useful as Google alerts, then let me at ‘em.  Has anyone tried Tweetbeep, Twilerts or Backtweets yet? Or SocialMention?

    Tina Fey’s Rules of Improv Apply to Your Clients Too

    Apr 15th, 201112 Comments

    Tina Fey's BossypantsIn Tina Fey‘s new book, Bossypants, she gives serious props to the Second City, the improvisation and sketch comedy theater that launched her career and those of many SNL alums and comedy greats. She says the Rules of Improv are actually a “world view” that can and will change your life.

    They’re also great rules to live by when interacting with clients.

    Rule 1. Start with Yes

    Tina Fey’s example:

    Actor: “Freeze, I have a gun!”
    Bad improv response: “No you don’t, that’s your finger.”
    Good response: “The gun I gave you for Christmas? You jerk!”

    When you say no, the interaction comes to a screeching halt. So even when your client’s ideas or questions seem otherworldly or catch you completely by surprise, you should open your mind to new possibilities. By starting with yes, you learn more about their situation and can uncover ways to provide value. Some of your most creative and satisfying work can stem from a client project that at first glance seemed either overwhelming or just a non-starter. As Tina says, “start with a yes, and see where that takes you.”

    Rule 2. Say “Yes, and —–”

    Her example:

    Actor: “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here.”
    Bad improv response: “Yeah.”
    Good response: “I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth.”

    Make a contribution; always add something of your own. Of course, responsible professionals address their clients’ most pressing needs. But most know we owe our clients more. If your experience tells you – or even nags you – that your client understands only part of the problem, you do your best to define the rest and propose a fuller solution. If their problem is outside of your expertise, you tell them and recommend another professional. If a new technology or solution appears on the horizon that will benefit them, you tell them. Keep your clients up to date, but know that they won’t always be willing or able to implement.

    Rule 3. Make statements – Don’t ask questions all the time

    Fey’s example:

    Bad improv:  Who are you?  Where are we?  What are we doing here?  What’s in that box?
    (This puts pressure on the other actor to come up with all the answers.)
    Good improv: Here we are in Spain, Dracula.

    Don’t get me wrong – you have to ask your clients both open-ended and closed-ended questions to understand their situation. And you know it’s good practice to check your assumptions about their needs over time.  But once you’re in a successful ongoing relationship, resist the urge to rest on your laurels. Avoid questions that you really should know the answer to, such as “Where are we on this?” and “Didn’t I get back to you on that already?”

    Rule 4. There are no mistakes, only opportunities

    Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes (Oscar Wilde).  So don’t be afraid to make them.  We all make mistakes – service professionals and clients alike.   A mistake either magically morphs into something you can brag about later, or it’s one more notch on the old experience belt.

    Tina Fey calls mistakes “beautiful, happy accidents” like Reese’s peanut butter cups or Botox.

    Have you seen any Rules of Improv playing out in your workplace?

    - Suzanne Doughty
    @suzanne_doughty

    Other blog posts you might be interested in:

    Tired of Boring, Forced Team-Building Games?  Try Improv
    How College Students Use Technology (Hint: Not Like the Rest of Us)
    Dear United, I Don’t Care About the Color of the Plane

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