Sunday, May 18, 2014

Using Facebook For Marketing Your Local Business

Back in the earlier days of the Internet, having a well-positioned static informational web site was good enough for your local business to have some degree of success. So many business owners had their kid or someone they knew throw together a website 3, 5 even 10 years ago and they haven't paid any mind since. These local business owners are leaving a lot of money on the table by simply not keeping up with the times. Nowadays, not only does your website have to be engaging, but having just a website simply isn't enough anymore. 

In order to be successful either online or off, you need to get your brand in front of as many people as possible and keep it in front of them in order to earn their business either new or repeat. When it comes to building your brand online, this means "setting up tables" where people are hanging out. The number one visited site in the world in 2010 was Facebook. This is definitely the place where people are hanging out online. 

With over 600 million users worldwide and growing, 50% of which log-in on any given day, it is important as a business owner that you grasp the magnitude of this social media powerhouse and how using Facebook for marketing can help you grow your business. Not only do people go there to connect with friends and family, they also go to interact with businesses both large and small. This presents an opportunity for local business owners to build relationships with prospects and deepen relationships with existing customers. Social media sites in general can be viewed as extensions of your website and give you another place to get found so people can learn about your products and/or services. 

Over two million websites have integrated with Facebook and the sites feed traffic to one another. The greatest challenge for most business owners is they simply lack the time and/or expertise to put together an effective Facebook marketing strategy. For those business owners that take a more proactive approach, consistency often becomes an issue. A big mistake most business owners new to social media often make is to simply post links and offers to "buy my stuff." With social media, buying comes after relationships are built, generally not before. 

So how are quality relationships build? First step is to create a plan. This includes the frequency of posts as well as the type of content shared. You want to post content that add value to people's lives. This includes videos, article and blog posts that educate your consumer and position you as an expert in your field. This may include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), tips, how-to's and more. Even third part content is great as long as you know it will appeal to your audience. Pictures, coupons, offers, promotions and testimonials can also be shared. 

Testimonials in particular are extremely important and you should encourage your customers to share the experiences they've had with your company on your Facebook wall. Not only will the visitors to your page see the comment, but it will also show up in the news feed of the poster, so all their friends will see it as well. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations frequently taking action based on the experiences their friends and followers had with various products and services. It's called social proof and shows credibility so that new consumers can make purchase decisions with confidence based on a friend's good word. 

Another great way to get people to interact with you is to post questions. You can also create engaging campaigns such as polls, contests, sweepstakes and product giveaways. Getting your fans to engage and communicate with you can give you valuable insights into what your customers like and dislike providing useful market research. There are professional social media marketing consultants that can help you in all facets of managing your Facebook business presence. 

This includes optimizing the page, creating the marketing plan, the content, promotions and the day-to-day dialogue to keep your fans engaged. This leaves you to do what you do best and that's running your business. The important thing is to get out and create your Facebook business page and start building your presence. Whether you've already created your page or need one created, it's time to get serious about leveraging the most trafficked site in the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Turning the Other Cheek on Facebook

As you monitor the comments by fans on your Facebook page, you may swell a bit with pride to constantly see missives praising your business, your products and customer service. Ultimately, however, the pendulum will swing in the other direction - it does hold true that you can't please all the people, all the time. Just your luck, the one person who suffers a negative experience connected to your business - regardless of the situation - may surely take his/her voice to the streets...and Facebook. 

As you maintain your social media presence, it's important to do so in a manner that lets people know there is a human being behind the profile picture you display to the Facebook world. The Facebook page backend does allow you to adjust who can post to your page's wall, photo albums, and message board, but if you are the type who fears backlash and wants to limit consumer opinion, you may wish to step back and evaluate why you have a Facebook page in the first place. 

Limiting a forum for fans to speak their mind makes a powerful statement about the way you handle feedback, good or bad. If somebody is unable to post how they feel about your products and services to your page, do you think they will wonder if your company listens at all? Not only that, blocking any kind of communication from fans keeps the good feedback away, too, so prospective customers won't see how others like you. 

For a company intent on catering to people, it's necessary to listen to the people. So let's say you are browsing your fan page and you come across a thumbs-down notes. Perhaps somebody visited your brick and mortar store and claims to have been treated rudely, or maybe somebody purchased your product, book, or service and was not satisfied. That comment is sticking out there like a stain on your reputation, visible to anybody browsing your page. What do you do? You have a number of options available. 

 1) Delete it. The temptation to change history and remove the comment is always strong. Out of sight, out of mind...or is it? You don't really know how many people will see a bad mark once it's posted, and if you do erase it consider the possible fallout: will people call you on the deletion? Will the original poster retaliate with more negative remarks, not just on your page but elsewhere in spots you can't administrate? While you have the option, removing a bad review should be considered carefully. Weigh the legitimacy of the claim against the poster's intent - if somebody is posting a general "You stink!" without backing it up you may be able to chalk it up to general trouble-making. If specifics about the bad experience are mentioned, it's time to evaluate the complaint and do something about it. 

 2) Ignore it. You could also continue to post and answer other fans as though the complaint doesn't exist it. Of course, that may work as well as deleting the comment. If the fan expects an answer or compensation, you may find he/she doesn't want to be ignored. This could lead to trouble on your fan page as more fans catch wind of the silent treatment, forcing customers to wonder if this is how you truly handle business issues. 

3) Respond privately. One point in your favor is that when somebody posts a negative review on Facebook, it's not done with anonymity. Whereas people can hide their identities on Google reviews or blogs, with Facebook you know who the plaintiff is. Therefore, you can seek to appease the poster with a personal missive offering some kind of compensation (a refund, a freebie, etc.) and hope for the best. A display of personal apology may inspire the poster to retract his/her complaint and keep you a customer. 

4) Respond publicly. Even better, showing not only the plaintiff but everyone subscribed to your page that you heard the remark and intend to make good shows your willingness to listen and heed negative feedback. No person, no company is perfect, but as you work to correct wrongs in productivity and customer service it shows that you are prepared to progress toward perfection, and are willing to take it on the chin once in a while. You could offer the poster some kind of compensation, while at the same time offering your fan base a general discount on products and services. 

Above all, do not ignore poor grades on your company. How you respond to feedback on Facebook creates a powerful image in the mindset of those who check your page for updates. Act professionally, and your fans will treat you as such, even if they are frustrated at times.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why Facebook is Re-Writing Marketing Books?

Imagine you had a party that got reported around the world. A party that never took place at all. So here's what the fictional party looked like. "A birthday party invitation posted on the popular social websites Facebook and Bebo attracted some 400 guests and gatecrashers. The birthday girl, British 16-year-old Jodie Hudson, and her mother Amanda learned too late the disaster the online invitation would cause to their luxurious Marbella vacation villa. The villa suffered ruined walls, destroyed carpets, and broken banisters,doors and furniture. 

And apparently they threw a TV into the swimming pool." As I said: The party never happened. But month after months parties such as this do happen. If you were to trundle down to downtown Auckland you'll find hordes of party-goers. They turn up. They drink. They dance. They socialise. And more importantly they don't destroy furniture or throw TVs into the harbour. And the primary source of attraction isn't an email newsletter.Or posters plastered all around town.Or someone making a call to invite you to the party. Amazing as it may sound to your ears, it all happens on Facebook. But surely Facebook is for a younger demographic, you argue. 

And again, you'd be a lot of the mark. Because savvy marketers across the planet are using Facebook to gain supporters and customers. And contrary to what you may believe, the demographics of Facebook has changed rapidly. Suddenly, it's your customer that's on Facebook: And he/she is no teen. But how do we know this to be true? There's proof, of course, but let's see why Facebook seems to work better than email or other media. The biggest reason why Facebook works is because it's a lot like how you get business offline. If you look at about 80% of your business, you'll notice one striking fact. 

That the chunk of your business comes to you via word-of-mouth. And that's how Facebook works. You post your Facebook profile. And people find you. God knows how they find you, but they do. And the reason why they find you is because your customer is doing all the hard work. Because it's so easy to put up a page on Facebook, most people do. 

The next thing they do is populate the page with things they like. And some of the things they like are things that you sell. So let's look at the examples: 

1) Gail Martin: Author of Science-Fiction books. 

2) An Auckland DJ who wanted to prevent bars from closing at 3am. 

3) Barack Obama who wants voters to show up--and vote for him. 

4) SpyBar that has theme-events that attract party-goers. 

5) The All Blacks that gets support for the Tri-Nations Trophy. 

6) Auckland Salsa Freaks for people of all ages to learn a new dance move. 

So let's expand on three of these many examples Example 

1: SpyBar In the past, SpyBar used to use email newsletters to generate traffic to their events. Despite sustained efforts, their email list grew slowly. This is because it required party-goers to get to SpyBar's website and then register. Traditional methods such as printing posters, and sending out physical invites were costly and time-consuming. Facebook has none of these constraints. The party-goers were already visiting Facebook on a regular basis. And were just one click away from landing on the SpyBar Facebook page. What's even more interesting, is that in almost every case, it was the party-goers themselves, that introduced their friends to the SpyBar Facebook page. Result: Whenever Spybar has an event, all they have to do is post their event (and posters) on Facebook. And send a notification to all their Facebook friends. Immediately there's a response. Party-goers have an RSVP mechanism that enables SpyBar to then gauge the numbers of likely attendees. Example 

2: Gail Martin: Pre-selling Science Fiction Books Most publishers do diddly squat for their writers. In most cases,publishers will promote the super-star authors, and leave the rest of the authors to do their own marketing. Gail Martin uses Facebook by getting onto Science-fiction sites and driving visitors from there to her Facebook site. This enables her to build a 'database of friends.' And when a new book is about to be released, she can not only create a buzz around the new book, but can also use Facebook friends to promote her book to their friends. Because a large number of her books sell in the gift-giving period running up to Christmas, she can then manage a campaign that not only gets her speaking engagements, and book-signings, but also push up the sales of her book at just the right time. And a lot of this activity is simply done by the 'friends'. All Gail has to do is send out one notification. Then friends take over, telling friends. And the ball starts rolling. Example 

3: An Auckland DJ who's against bars closing at 3am On 10 July 2008, Auckland Police decided to submit a plan - which would dramatically alter Auckland's nightlife - to the city council with a plea for the 24-hour licensing policy to be brought into line with other districts. Immediately an Auckland DJ, decided to put together a group on Facebook. This group would be dormant unless the plan went forward.The Auckland city council shot down the plan, but well over 1000 people had already signed in to the Facebook page, ready to protest should they be deprived of their vodka and martinis at 3am. Facebook as you can see, is a group-building activity Most pages were initially set up just to meet others online. But that situation has morphed into something bigger. If you're selling ice-cream as Movenpick does, you can start up an Ice-Cream Lovers Event. If you're selling bread, as Baker's Delight does, you can start up a group that adores Cheesymites. If you're selling real estate, you can literally do open-homes for specific houses online, separating each group based on the type of house they prefer.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shop Online for Better Decisions

Shop Online to make better decisions. With growing spending power, the Indian Middle & Upper class are taking the online shopping experience in India to a new height. Reasons behind this can be numerous but one of them is that we find offline shopping a bit difficult for people who cannot choose what to buy easily. 

Have you ever realized that as a shopper not everyone likes to visit the same shop more than twice without buying anything? If you do not know the reason read on. How do you feel when you ask the salesman to show you the Neck Tie or a Wall Hanging art for the second time in 2 days? No one does it intentionally but all this because you are too confused and unsure which one to buy? Notice the eyes of the sales staff staring at you in a strange way when you leave the counter Third time with the same reaction? This is because each time you enter the showroom the sales staffs expects to make a sale out of you and this hope rises because you are returning visitor. 

An overly choosy nature brings in with it this embracement even to a great extent when you have to look at the product many times before making a purchase. A perfect way to avoid this scene has been seen in as shopping online in India. Not only shall you be able to find the best products at one place that not all Malls offer but you can also enjoy the benefits of taking a decision in the comfort of your room without worrying about the sales staff who thinks you are here to waste time. While you are online you can simply start to choose, compare, shop all over again any number of times whenever you find the slightest of doubts about the choice that you made. 

You need not give any reason, or body language signals that make you look natural. Let us just take an example that you are interested in buying a wall art product for your home and you think of Posters or Fine Art Print as a wall hanging option as opposed to oil paintings. Buying art online is far more easy and fun than the experience offline. First of all the shopkeeper that shows you this affordable art from the shelf space shall expect you to make use of your Aesthetic sense in less than 5 minute and shortlist a few out of so many, then he shall expect you to make a decision and proceed to buying it on the spot. What shall you do if you think that taking an opinion from your sister or husband? Would you bring them along with you the next time? Answers can be many but all quite improbable. 

When shopping online, the case is a lot different as when you do the same thing online on an art print poster website or eBay store as you can keep looking at the large collection of posters for as long as you like and even think of saving it for your future use or opinion of your friend. In any good standard eCommerce store you shall find links to share products, email it to your friends or even save it in the gallery for future shopping. You can ask any of your Facebook friends' to comment on the product or email your colleagues about the, price, description etc so they can help you make that decision easily. 

Moreover on the shopping website you come across reviews, ratings and suggestion from customers that are really handy to buying online. So the next time you are thinking of buying products that need a lot of aesthetic choice, recommendation about the model or reviews, Online Shopping is the best help for you. After all you the website does not make you feel strange ignored even when you look at hundreds of their posters and shop for a one on your tenth visit.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Social Media Management

Promoting yourself or your business can be very time consuming especially when it has to do with Facebook and Twitter. Two of the most heavily used internet sites on the internet are Facebook and Twitter. Either you use them or you don't. Many people who use these communication tools for business have no idea how to use them properly and then give up too quickly. 

There is a way to help in this area. It is easy to hire someone manage your Facebook and Twitter accounts through social media management. A social media management company can be used to help your company or personal identity grow on interactive sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They can find you more fans or friends to communicate with. 

They can also help with your daily communications of your fans and followers. This takes your hands off of making posts daily and thinking of daily tweets. It is a great time saver. A social media management company can also develop a marketing strategy that will help your Facebook and Twitter accounts explode into a viral realm of success. They will have ideas such as how to market your Facebook page and Twitter account in the offline world. 

They can come up with ideas such as printing your Facebook and twitter pages on your receipts to having posters on your walls with the follow us sign on the bottom. These ideas are simple but a good social media management company can come up with even more creative ideas. One of the most difficult tasks of a Twitter and Facebook manager is to keep your followers happy and also interacting with them on a daily basis. 

A great social media management company will do more than do daily posts, they will also get your followers to retweet for you to start something viral and they will get people responding to posts on your company's Facebook wall. Social Media is all about establishing a relationship with your past and future customers. The more interaction your company has, the more your company will be remembered. 

Overall, handling these types of sites on your own is time consuming. You have to go through the daily tasks of finding Twitter followers that will actually read your posts and Facebook fans that will like your business. Even if you have the time to do it, are you developing the proper marketing plan that has in effect on your bottom line? A good social media management company will help you in amazing ways and increase your customer base by establishing a never seen before daily relationship.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Will Digitally Targeted Posters Drive Your Customers Up the Wall?

I was recently subjected to a spate of ads on my Facebook page crudely targeting me specifically by my age. I didn't find this useful or engaging, but rather considered the ads to be intrusive and hectoring. It got me thinking about the dangers of media that knows too much about its viewers. It's reasonable that when you view content on the web the banner ads reflect things you have recently been searching for or looking at. 

I don't mind getting targeted for theatre tickets or shed paint if that's what I have been viewing. The creativity of the ads is also not compromised in this kind of scenario. However if a billboard was to change its message to reflect something personal about me, I think I would find this sinister and almost threatening. In Tokyo at the moment just such a billboard is being trialled. Fitted with a camera it can work out your age and sex and change the ad displayed accordingly. 

This might just be the start. In the future the camera might be able to tap into online information about you. While the possibilities might seem endless for the advertiser, it seems to me that many people might be fairly horrified by this, feeling their privacy was being grossly infringed. An advertisement's ability to charm would also be compromised by such a direct approach. Subtlety has always been the most successful way to persuade consumers, especially the English who have never liked the hard sell. Banging them over the head tends to be counterproductive. 

 So will we see this innovation in the UK? More than likely this digital version of the foot-in-the-door salesman will arrive here soon. Poster companies need to regain some of the media spend lost to the internet after all. When it does arrive however, advertisers would do well to remember that knowing something about your target market doesn't mean ramming it down their throats. I would suggest "Hey you look menopausal, try this HRT" is never going to be a successful headline. 

As ever, gently engaging your audience with something they are likely to identify with is the key to sales success. We're all only human after all. I run an advertising and design company specialising in both online and traditional marketing. Our specialist areas include design and copywriting for advertisements (press, radio, TV and posters) websites, brochures, e-shots, newsletters, packaging, mailshots, banner ads and exhibitions. 

We can buy media and offer SEO through partner companies. mhm grax was formed in 1990 and since then has worked with clients, big and small, across practically every product field including travel, housebuilders, charity, automotive, technical, b to b and games. We are based near London Bridge.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Check Out These Interesting Facebook Apps

Facebook is one of the most visited social networking sites, with over 400 million active users, out of which 100 million users access the network through their mobile phones. On an average, people spend over 500 billion minutes on Facebook every month. You can update your status, comment on your friends walls and play with thousands of apps like FarmVille and mafia War. There are some really interesting Facebook apps which are worth trying. 

Honesty Box - It is a simple app which is getting popular by the day. As the name suggests, this app lets your friends speak their mind. You can present a question on your profile and let your friends reply anonymously. Do not be surprised if you even get some unpleasant responses. QOOP - The Photo Store from QOOP permits you to render your Facebook photos into their printed counterparts like posters, prints, photo books and more. 

Once you have purchased an order, you can share it with your friends so that they can order copies for themselves. Mingleverse - It is a cool app on Facebook that is already quite popular. It offers live 3D voice chat on Facebook. The app provides a virtual room in the form of a tennis court or a farm house, from where you can send invitations to your friends to join you. 

Each member in the chat room appears in a distinct avatar and can walk around while engaging in a voice chat with the 3D voice chat plug-in. This app has excellent media sharing features. The room has a video screen where you can watch YouTube videos with your friends. You can also show your pictures, use your webcam or watch TV. 

Caption.iT - This app lets you personalize your photos and other images. Your friends can make them from your profile or you can send them to your friends. With this app, you can make cool designs on the mirror or scribble on the sand. Weekly Schedule - This app allows you to post a graphical presentation of your weekly activities so that your friends can view it. This makes it easier for your friends to know when you would be available to get together. Or instance, if you see that your friend has a class till 2 pm, you will know she might be free for a coffee post 2 in the afternoon.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Facebook Backlash and Your Social Campaigns

Not everybody is happy with Facebook right now. Accusations of breach of privacy and disregard for online safety have prompted grassroots protests and mass deletions of accounts on the premise that not only does the social network do nothing to protect user privacy, but actually encourages distribution of information not necessarily meant for everybody's eyes. If you use Facebook, perhaps you've seen viral status messages from friends imploring you to make adjustments to your settings to ensure that the complaint you make about your boss isn't broadcast to the free world. 

Reports that some users prefer to delete their profiles altogether may concern other die hard Facebook fans, and as a business with a strong Facebook presence you might wonder if this backlash will affect the way you promote your products and services. The privacy concerns making the news, naturally, concern users who are wont to share personal information and photographs on their networks. While they believe at first only select friends have access to the data, neglected privacy settings may allow certain (read: embarrassing) information to be found in Internet search. 

We've all heard stories of people getting fired from their jobs or losing out on other opportunities thanks to a slip of the keyboard - an outsider might opine, "Well, don't post anything you wouldn't shout into a megaphone," yet one can argue users and Facebook need to meet halfway on ensuring security measures. As a business, you want exposure for your Facebook page. Despite the grumbling, Facebook is still one of the most used websites on the Internet - it's a powerful search engine and marketing tool, and as you amass fans (or people who "like" your page and company, per the new policies) the opportunity to expand your reach grows. 

If you are concerned about losing fans due to a protest against privacy settings, know that you do have a few options for keeping your page visible and the information available, even to people who don't use Facebook. 

1) Integrate the content into other networks. Feed status updates into your Twitter account to capture that audience, and place a fan box on your main website. If you use Squidoo, there is now an option to embed a fan box in a lens, too. Anywhere you can place your page's RSS, take the advantage. 

 2) Keep your page active and visible. Offer as much data on your page to new visitors and those who do not use Facebook. As a business page, you should feel comfortable with the information you post there. Don't give away any trade secrets, but encourage participation with the content you do provide. 

3) Be respectful of current fans. Make sure whoever monitors comments on your page is courteous to posters. Just as the products and services you impart online are available to others, so are bad vibes. If you receive a complaint, be tactful in your response, because that's what people will see. 

The impression you make on Facebook coupled with the timeliness of your information will keep people on your page. How will Facebook fare in the future? Like Google, it may continue to grow and offer amenities we can't live without, or it could go the way of lesser social networks if and when another player comes along. Whatever the fate for this network, it is still a top used site and as such holds importance in your social optimization. Mind your p's and q's on your Wall tab, and you should be fine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top 5 Facebook Apps That You Haven't Tried Yet

Let's face it, you spend most of your day on Facebook, updating your status, commenting on friends walls, and playing with the thousands of apps available. We are all familiar with some of the top apps like Farmville and Mafia Wars, but here we look at the Top 5 Facebook Applications that you haven't tried yet. 

1. Mingleverse Easily the coolest new app on Facebook that is completely under the radar. The Mingleverse application brings live 3D voice chat to Facebook. The app gives you a virtual room (like a beach house, or a basketball court) and you can instantly invite your online friends into your room. Each person appears as a customizable avatar that can walk around the room and talk using text chat or use your voice with the 3D voice chat plug-in. The best part of the app is the media sharing features. There is a video screen in the room where you can watch YouTube videos together, show off your pictures, go live on your webcam, or watch TV together through - it's really like having someone over in your living room. 

2. Honesty Box Honestly Box is a simple application gaining in popularity and is not for the faint-of heart. Honesty Box, as the name suggests, lets your friends tell you what they really think. Pose a question on your profile and your friends can reply anonymously. Yes, that's right anonymously, so don't be surprised to find a few unpleasantries. 

3. Weekly Schedule Facebook may have made us more social people, but there is no denying it has taken away from actual face time. Weekly Schedule allows you to post a graphical display of your weekly activities for all your friends to see, making it easy to know when you're available to get together. See that your friend has class from 1-2pm on Tuesday? Then you know she's available for a coffee afterward! 

4. QOOP Facebook is now the largest image storing site on the internet and QOOP's Photo Store allows you to turn your Facebook photos into printed products like photo books, prints, posters, postcards, shirts, and more. Then, after you purchase an order, you can share it with your friends so they can order a copy for themselves. Just remember that Facebook compresses your images, so you won't want to print anything larger than say a 4x6. 5.Caption.iT With the Caption.iT App you can personalize your photos or other neat images. From your profile your friends can make them for you or you can send them to your friends. Write a message in the sand, with lipstick on a mirror or on your favorite photos!

Monday, March 17, 2014

4 Step Guide to Meeting Women

With all the social media sites out there, one has taken the world by storm: Facebook. And it only comes naturally that guys will want to leverage this new tool to meet women. It's not too hard to meet women on Facebook, but you have to do it with some understanding of how to play the game. Because there are many ways to do it wrong, and only a few to do it right... I've been eyeing this method to meeting women for some time, and I agree completely. It IS a mega-mega opportunity to meet women... ...if it's handled right. First of all, let's remember the catastrophe that is "MySpace." (May it rest in peace.) That social network has been so polluted and abused that it's really not useful anymore. I know I don't take it seriously. 

What happened there? Well, first of all, everyone got slammed with spam. A few clever programmers and bulk friend programs, and suddenly you had MySpace pages that looked like web sites from the year 1998. Cheap backgrounds, silly wallpaper, and everybody's page looked like a 14-year-old girl's bedroom, complete with Britney Spears posters. Enter Facebook. A whole lot classier than its trailer-park cousin, Facebook has maintained a better image. But with a bunch of cool toys and add-ons that made it interesting and more fun. 

So how can you work this great social networking tool to help you with your dating life - while not looking like some pervert who got kicked out of the alleys of MySpace? I'll give you a very simple 4-step model to use. This is the one that my friends and I have used consistently to get results online.

1: Connect with the guys - and other women - who have a lot of cute girl friends. In other words, connect with people that YOU are not interested in dating who have big networks. You must be very indirect at first using Facebook. Remember the lesson from MySpace - Don't be a spammer! This is not "" or an online dating site, so don't just start sending out invites and emails hoping to score based on numbers. We've come to hate the abusers, and you'll just get your sorry ass kicked right off. Start out with light connections. Think "friends first." Don't make your Facebook profile look like you're trying to meet women. Be subtle. What you're trying to do is multiply your results and increase your connection potential by meeting more people who know more people. If you just start trying to hit on the women you're interested in right off the bat, you'll be limiting your results with shortsighted thinking. Think out to the LONG term. The more cool people you connect with and forge relationships with, the more likely you are to connect with a woman naturally. 

2: Connect with women you are interested in VERY indirectly. What you have to do is send a simple friend request - and make sure you include a message with it! You just say something like, "Hey, I saw we're both friends with Greg... Then I noticed you're a snowboarder, too... Ever go to Tahoe?" You see what I did there? I left a question INSIDE my friend request. For her to answer it, she's going to feel compelled to add me. It's also just something people are looking to do. Let's face it, we all measure our social success by how many people we've got as friends on Facebook. We all want a HUGE network, so women will WANT to add you - if only to increase their friend count. 

3: Start leveraging the tools. Facebook has a huge amount of potential for the guy who wants to take advantage of them. You can add all kinds of cute little applications to send virtual drinks to friends, send goofy gifts, or even start your own polls and surveys. But one of the best tools you need to be using is the GROUP function on Facebook. In fact, in preparing for this article, I created a group to start connecting you guys together and enabling men to share information. You can do this, too. Just create a group based on your passion and your local area. I'm going to advise you to avoid starting a group based on "Warcraft" or on the latest hot actress. Make your group something a woman can relate to and might be interested in. Maybe it's the television show "Lost..." or maybe it's about all things Italian. Ba-da-bing! Now you've got a hook to use to invite her into your group. 

4: Start escalating and creating more opportunities. Remember, this is a VIRTUAL tool. It's online. In other words, your connections don't REALLY exist anywhere except on some server in an air-conditioned room in a data center somewhere. It's up to YOU to bring these connections to life with events that you can invite people to. Most people will stroll around this virtual network, but then never take it into the REAL world. That's where YOU come in. Maybe once a month you should organize a happy hour at your local favorite bar. Or maybe you make a Facebook group for wine tasters, and then every other Friday you meet up and go tasting the latest Pinot Noirs. 

THAT is your opportunity to start looking for romantic potential in the groups. You have to remember that you can't be a Facebook "pickup artist" and try to attract women online. You have to build a network, forge some connections, and meet women in person to start creating the attraction. That being said, you can also send out some playful introductions to women you don't know and see if they bite. (Just make sure your profile has enough interesting bait for them to nibble at...) - Write on people's walls... - Send a few virtual drinks... - Send some good karma... - Use the "Flirtable" app... For the man with initiative, the Facebook world is yours. So step up and start creating the social network, then start meeting the women in it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Words, Grammar & Punctuation

There, their and they're are not interchangeable. More often than not when I read a message on Facebook, there's a word misused and then another person attempts to correct it. Usually the word is corrected wrong, too. In high school, my English teacher shared a wall poster created by one of the upper classmate for a school event. The poster read, "Their is a program after school for the handicapped. 

There needs will be discussed and donations taken for they're athletic equipment. If you can help, bring contributions to the auditorium." In a red felt tip marker, a student had crossed out the first "their" and scrawled in "they're." The class got a good laugh, and the instructor laughed with us, then asked us to write a response to the posted, using all three words correctly. In third grade, my grandparents had played "their" game with me and taught me the difference between, they're, their and there. 

I spent the better part of the next thirty minutes sharing the difference between the three words, and correcting the poster. There now... There, refers to a place, explained and identified by the 'e' on the end of the word, matching the 'e' on the end of the word place. You can't forget that over there is a place and there is an 'e' on the end of there and place. Their, the possessive form of the word contains the letter 'i' thereby identifying the word as personal, as in belongs to them. 

Theirs. Anytime the word their has an 'i' in it, it becomes a possessive form of the word as in their house, their car, their clothes. Personal is therefore possessive and includes the letter 'i'. They're is a contraction. A blend of two words they and are, allowing for the softening of the language and the slur of the words, removing the 'a' from are and adding an accent to blend the two and become they're. The word is used to describe who they are, what they're doing, and how they're behaving in the common gist of conversation. They're my three favorite words to confuse and explain.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Three Steps to Effective Follow-Through in Social Marketing

It's one thing to have an active social network account with scores of fans and followers, and another to regularly provide information and incentives to keep people interested. Unless you monitor your profiles for feedback and follow up on concerns and questions, however, you will soon discover these online hubs become stale and provide nothing more than another source for inbound linking. Management of social networking page is not unlike tending a garden - your attentiveness and care fosters growth, and like the bees that collect pollen to spread to corners you may not notice people will assist in your account's popularity if they feel it's worth promoting. 

It goes without saying, then, that you (or whomever is in charge of your social marketing) remains on top of monitoring your accounts. The longer it appears your pages and statuses are neglected, the worse it looks for your company, and it may allow competitors or spammers to overtake your space. Follow-up on feedback, and follow through on social promotions. Here are just a few ways to achieve this level of dependability. 

Respond/Reply: If somebody posts a question on your Facebook wall, answer it. If somebody plugs your Twitter account during a #followfriday spree, acknowledge it, and thank YouTube members who compliment your videos. Even if a fan makes a general comment, or promotes something unrelated to your company on the fan wall (it will happen, but do not chide the poster and risk alienation), don't let the opportunity pass without at the very least clicking the "like" button. Make your social presence conversational, and monitored the comment threads created. 

Give Users Alternatives: Are you set up on UrbanSpoon, ePinions, or Yelp, or a relative review network? Take a moment to mine good reviews and brag about them on Twitter and Facebook. The promotion you give helps others know you're found elsewhere and may encourage them to click through and add their own experiences. Reward Good Mojo: If you notice a day or week where fan participation is quite active, show them you're listening. 

Offer a contest or deep discount, a freebie related to your business. When you've hit a point that people will check out your social profiles because they want to, and not necessarily because they're looking for incentive, giving them a nice surprise is one way to foster that good feeling. If you promise customers and clients the moon via social media, don't wait until the evening hours to make good. Nurturing your presence is a job meant for any hour of the day, nothing is simpler than clicking a response window to say thanks.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chicago White Sox Radio Broadcasts in Greenville

In the 1950's and 60's I remember listening to Chicago White Sox games on radio regularly with my grandfather. He had an old tube style radio cabinet in the living room, and also owned a small transistor radio that he would use when sitting in the front yard. Listening to White Sox games isn't particularly unique except that I was living in Greenville, South Carolina at the time. 
The games were hosted on a small hometown radio station, WMRB-1490AM, located in downtown Greenville. As I grew older I sometimes wondered why would Chicago games broadcast into the Deep South? My interest was rekindled in 2006 when an investor purchased and relocated the Shoeless Joe Jackson house located at 119 East Wilburn Street. Unbeknownst to me, Jackson's house was located just two blocks from where I attended Crestone Elementary School in 1958-60. Moreover, my grandpa and I lived less than one mile from East Wilburn Street. Jackson's house eventually became the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum now located in downtown Greenville. It was placed adjacent to the stadium that hosts a Single-A Boston Red Sox affiliate, the Greenville Drive. Again, I asked myself as to why were White Sox games broadcast in my hometown. Was Shoeless Joe Jackson's legacy connected to the broadcasts? Were the broadcasts the result of a fan base that had developed around Shoeless Joe? The idea was both interesting and intriguing. I begin my search by contacting the new owner of WMRB 1490AM radio. WMRB was purchased by Randy Mathena in 1987 and renamed WPCI. Randy was friendly and responsive to my queries but was unable to substantiate the White Sox broadcasts. I wrote a letter to the widow of the founder of WMRB, Frank Cope, but didn't receive an answer. I found a research paper on the history of WPCI Radio written by some Furman University students. The paper was helpful in providing a general history of the station, but it did not mention the Chicago White Sox broadcasts. I also contacted Arlene Marcley, the curator of the new Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum. She allowed me to place a poster in the museum soliciting information but still no leads. It was in early 2010 that I found a hint on Facebook. I had made a random posting to the Greenville, SC Facebook page and received a comment from a Greenville native. He believed that during the Textile Mill baseball league days, some mills adopted Major League teams. My contact theorized that Brandon Mills, where Shoeless Joe got his start, may have adopted the Chicago White Sox. Were Chicago White Sox broadcasts the result of Shoeless Joe Jackson's affiliation with the White Sox and his playing time with Brandon Mills of the Textile Baseball League? I was sure that I struck pay dirt. A quick Google search steered me toward the book, "Textile League Baseball: South Carolina's Mill Teams, 1880-1955" by Thomas K. Perry. I wrote Mr. Perry a letter about the theory and he responded with an email. Perry wrote, "After we moved away from Greenville, Dad would take me on fishing trips to Lake Hartwell. The cabin, owned by my great aunt and uncle, was wonderfully rustic, and had no television. During those spring evenings, we would listen to the White Sox games, and I was intrigued with the performances of Tommy John and his teammates. I remember asking Dad why a Greenville station would carry the Chicago games, and he said it was because Shoeless Joe played there years ago. Not an official explanation, I know, but Dad was raised on a mill village in Anderson, SC, so he knew the history of textile sports (he played basketball). I believe his explanation to be true, though I have no official documentation." Alas! Finally, I had confirmation that someone else had heard the broadcasts; but what of the purpose and their origin? I thought Mr. Perry had just written a historical narrative on Textile Mill Leagues. Surely, during all that research, if mill teams had adopted Major League teams, he would have found evidence of it. I went back to Randy Mathena of WPCI and shared with him Perry's comments. This reignited Randy's interest and he gave me the telephone numbers for Jim Cope, son of former owner Frank Cope, and retired WMRB disk jockey, Bill Krieger. The hunt was on. I first telephoned Mr. Bill Krieger who was now in his mid 80's. We had a delightful conversation discussing the history of WMRB and the city of Greenville. He said Frank Cope purchased the 1490 AM radio station with the financial backing of the Simpson partner of Belk-Simpson Department Stores of Greenville. Cope named the station WMRB taking the call letters from the phrase, "We Make Radio Better". Regarding sports broadcasts on the station, Krieger said WMRB was the host to South Carolina Gamecocks football. Frank Cope had also purchased the rights to broadcast "The Masters Golf Tournament" originating in Augusta, Georgia. He confirmed that WMRB became host to Chicago White Sox baseball broadcasts. Krieger said that Frank Cope and a local business associate from Household Finance brokered an arrangement with the Chicago White Sox organization. The corporate headquarters for Household Finance was located in Chicago and they were key sponsors on the White Sox Radio Network. When I asked Krieger if he thought the White Sox broadcasts had anything to do with Shoeless Joe Jackson's fame, he stated he had no recollection that Shoeless Joe's popularity had anything to do with the broadcasts. He believed it to be purely a business decision. He also went on to say that the Chicago White Sox broadcasts ended in the late 60's and were eventually replaced with the Atlanta Braves in the early 1970's. I then called Jim Cope, the son of Frank Cope. Jim Cope told me was about 10 years old when his dad purchased the radio station. He remembered the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves radio broadcasts. Without telling him the details of my previous interview with Bill Krieger, I asked Jim to give me the reasons why his father would broadcast Chicago White Sox games in Greenville. Jim stated he had no details or knowledge of the conversations surrounding the reasons why the broadcasts got started. Cope did state that his dad would have based the decision solely on business and how it would benefit the station. I asked Jim if it was possible that with Greenville being the home of Shoeless Joe Jackson, and given Shoeless Joe's popularity, could that have been a factor in the decision? He stated he did not recall any discussions or an atmosphere of popularity of Shoeless Joe during that time. Jim Cope did not believe Shoeless Joe had anything to do with his dad's decision to bring the Sox to WMRB. Fully armed with this new information, I began a web search to find a connection between Household Finance and Chicago White Sox. I quickly found a blog entry by a Lee Abrams regarding play-by-play baseball and other chatter. Abrams stated, "I remember the transistor under the covers. Bob Elson and Don Wells calling a Chicago White Sox night Game...every ad was for "Friendly Bob Adams" with Household Finance. They took you right indescribable magic that combined tension, joy and a sense of security and warmth that said all is OK with life...especially since we have Hoyt Wilhelm warming up in the bullpen." The Household Finance connection collaborated Bill Krieger's 85 year old memory and the puzzle was now complete. Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago White Sox broadcasts in Greenville appeared to be nothing more than an amazing coincidence. Feeling comfortable that I had run my investigation to the finish line, I sought to document the results of my research. I produced a PowerPoint graphic depicting the history of radio frequency 1490AM WMRB, now WPCI. After combining the graphic with the interviews and other source files, I sent them off to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and the Greenville Historical Society. Both agreed to catalog my research for posterity's sake. I also created a poster that now hangs on the wall of the Shoeless Joe

Monday, February 17, 2014

Twitter and Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has definitely left its mark (and continues to) on the Internet. Whether searching for something specific, opening up your web-based email account, or simply surfing, you have undoubtedly encountered a multitude of banner advertisements, pop under advertisements, and pop up advertisements in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Truthfully, the effectiveness of affiliate marketing programs is undeniable as it continues to benefit both the merchants and affiliates with increased views, sales, and profits. 

As affiliate webs grow more and more dense, they are taking over more and more territory, extending to new places such as social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others. This should of course come to no surprise as the Web as a moneymaking resource is undeniable. The question is are these social site postings effective or are they just ruining the social networking experience for everyone by distracting from the true posters on these sites. 

Should posting advertisements and affiliate links be taboo on sites dedicated to social networking? These sites were initially created in order to provide online community for networking whether for business or personal/social. A quick look at Twitter or Facebook posts, and one finds that the content represented is often, if not mostly, trivial. 

Why then would there be any question of ethics involved with the posting of affiliate links or advertisements? If websites for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and any other major newspaper are fair game for acai berry, online degrees, online dating, and any other multitude of advertisements and links, why not Twitter, Facebook, and others? Perhaps the question should be how affiliates can effectively post to these social networking sites without being banned by moderators or flagging posters, and if it is worth the trouble. 

Anywhere online users might congregate is most likely worth the effort considering the magnitude and size of the prospective audience involved. Anywhere affiliate links can be seen and clicked on increases the chances for affiliate programs, merchants, and affiliates to make sales, convert customers, and generate profits. How to avoid being accused of spamming is key, and this can be skirted by simply not copying and pasting computer generated, non-descript form messages, as these are most definitely off putting.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Managing Your Social Media Profiles As a Job Seeker

As you continue to work hard to obtain computer certifications and the job of your choice, it is time to start paying attention to how employers perceive you. When Facebook recently announced that it had successfully crossed the 500 million membership milestone, both Internet gurus and users applauded the achievement with much online fanfare. However, there is a south side to the scenario-your prospective employers and recruiters can now learn as much about you as your friends and fans not all of which may exactly be flattering. Bottom line? Your online reputation is just as important as the professional image you happen to project in your resume. 

As a person looking for employment in the workforce, this holds even more true for you because companies in a variety of industries, but specifically the IT and IT-enabled services industries routinely investigate prospective employees not simply through background investigation firms but also directly on Almighty Google by Googling your name within quotation marks for an identical match within the organic search results. 

Here are a few potent reasons why you should not simply consider but also implement the strategies outlined below right away once you are ready for the job market upon completing your certifications. Prioritizing your Commitment to Online Reputation Management Your online reputation is no longer relevant only to banks, mortgage companies and credit card issuers. Your employer too is very interested in checking you out on the Internet and seeing what others are saying about you. On any platform in which you wish to participate such as blog comments, forum posts and contributions to groups and discussion lists, your "two cents worth" should really be worth a quarter. 

Your comments and observations should be intelligent, insightful and thought-provoking. Never ever slam, flame or defame a fellow-poster because negative data always tends to stick out like a sore thumb in the minds of those who are checking you out for employment purposes. If there are a hundred comments either by you or about you that happen to be in positive in nature and only one negative comment, your prospective employer is going to remember the latter. Leave it to the psychologists to figure this one out. 

Peruse your Facebook Profile with a Critical Eye Facebook is the primary social media forum that employers are checking out these days and given the recent controversies regarding privacy issues that continue to surround the website, no information about you is protected on Facebook. It is therefore time to become proactive. 

Replace both covertly and overtly personal photographs with neutral snapshots. Pictures of you hanging around bars and pubs in the company of like-minded creatures will need to go especially if they happen to be "action-oriented." A little whitewashing Tom Sawyer style just might be in the offing since you will also need to rid your Wall of all detrimental graffiti. Linking up with LinkedIn the Right Way If you happen to have a professional work profile on LinkedIn or any of the professional networking social media websites such as ZoomInfo, Tribe.Net, Spoke, Ryze, JigSaw, ecademy and others, take it for granted that your future employers will be paying you a courtesy visit. Like Facebook, these websites too can be accessed in one of two ways-either through a search conducted on the major search engines or through the search function each of the websites has to offer. 

Your profiles should be crisp, sharp and truly professional with no spelling or grammatical errors. Mention all your computer certifications clearly in reverse chronological order listing the most recent computer certification first. Most importantly, the data you are posting on these websites should remain fully consistent at all times with your resume. If you are a regular participant at LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Forums, your contributions should be meaningful and constructive. 

Many employers pay LinkedIn as a part of their premium service offerings to gain unqualified access to the website through vertical search. It is therefore a good idea to examine your LinkedIn Connections and their Connections just to make sure that you are indeed in the right company and are not perceived as hanging out with the wrong type of online crowd. Your LinkedIn online album and picture gallery should contain only snapshots that project you professionally-making presentations in front of a large audience, attending a meeting, dining with formally dressed colleagues, waiting at the airport reading the Wall Street Journal... you get the picture. You are your own brand and you need to manage it wisely.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Relationship Building - Why Do You Post Comments?

Posting comments should accomplish two things: Get more visibility for you Build a relationship with the owner of the material you comment on Now, unfortunately some people only post comments for the first reason and do not think about the second one. Let me give you a perfect example. I posted a video on my Facebook wall the other day. The subject of the video was the importance of doing your homework to find the best network marketing opportunity, instead of just jumping in and possibly wasting years in the wrong company. 

Nowhere in this video did I ask people to tell me what company they think is best. Nor did I mention my own company. I did mention the mentoring service I offer, but this service is not an MLM itself (in fact it is not even an affiliate program.) It is very important to realize that most people who offer training in MLM, even if it is an affiliate program you can make money on, have a primary MLM company and are building a team there. They offer training to build relationships with people, not to get pitched on other companies! And they certainly do NOT want other people trying to pitch an opportunity to their contacts. 

When you post a comment and mention your opportunity or add your link, you are pitching your deal to the owner of the content as well as to all of their followers. Do you think that is a good way to build a relationship? So, how do you think I felt when people started posting links to their opportunity as comments on this video I posted? I deleted their comments and placed my own comment that I did not welcome opportunity links being added. 

One lady got upset and decided to hide me from her news feed. Another guy said he thought this was on his wall, so he doesn't understand the difference between the news feed and the wall. For anyone else who might not understand this concept on Facebook, when you post something on your wall it goes to the newsfeed of all of your friends. If anyone posts a comment, all of the original poster's friends see it. You are never just posting a comment on your own wall for your own friends when you comment on something another person posted on their wall, that comes through on your news feed. Of course, the same is true when you post a comment on a blog; all readers see it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Social Marketing Strategies - MLM and Social Marketing Spam

There is a nasty little trend rearing its ugly head in the social networking world. It seems that no domain is immune to spam, and multi-level marketing firms are guaranteeing that along with email, sites originally intended for social purposes are under attack. Micro-blogs and the like are finding themselves targets of wall spam and other unsolicited intrusions by MLM firms. 

How Social Spam Can Affect You Everyone has figured out the multi-level marketing tricks with e-mail. We have all learned to ignore, delete, or both. Now the MLMs have some new tricks up their sleeves and they are taking social networking sites hostage in their latest attempts to make a quick buck: Friend invitations. As a member of a primarily social site, you expect to read tidbits about your friends such as their latest vacations, job promotions, and so on. 

When your friends' invitations include links to the latest and greatest hair loss product along with a minute amount of personal information, you have become a victim of spam. Your account will likely become inundated and your participation in your social networking site nothing more than a chore. Wall spam. For those who are members of such social networks as Facebook, beware any mention of products and services with specific links on your "walls." Be conscious of possible multi-level marketing schemes that transform your wall into the poster child for wall spam that solicits something you have likely never heard of, much less endorsed. 

Application invitations. Absolutely ignore any friend's invitation to "check out this cool new app!" Someone is trying to make a quick buck from your friend connection. The "cool new app" is yet another MLM scheme trying to worm its way into the social scene through unsuspecting social networking members. Why MLMs Are Targeting Social Networks Social networks have become one of the primary means of communication for many internet users. Multi-level marketers understand the possibilities of extending their reach through the social network sites and are attempting to prey upon their members to fulfill their own marketing goals. 

Blogs. Blogs have allowed MLMs to take advantage of the medium and overrun blog sites with unwanted solicitations for anything and everything. Comment boxes are often no more than another open window for ad links from marketers. Instant Messaging. IM services such as Skype are not immune to the dreaded MLM ploys. When links are included with a message from an unknown member, there is likely a spam attempt involved that may have malware attached. 

Communities. Large social sites such as Facebook and MySpace have launched their own counterattacks to stop the influx of MLMs and their disruptive attempts to invade the private conversations of legitimate members. Constant updates of their programming and user agreements are attempting to deter the unethical if not illegal practices by such multi-level marketers. What You Can Do Multi-level marketing cannot be stopped completely but there are steps to take to help curb the behavior: Ignore. Pay the solicitation no mind. 

Never click on a link of unknown origin. Report. Let your hosting services know of any suspicious contact. Many MLM solicitations contain malicious software that can harm your system. Respond. Get vocal and spread the word. If word of mouth is good for the MLMs, then it is just as effective against them. There is hardly a sure-fire way to keep multi-level marketing spam away from some social networking sites. However, by keeping it out of your social marketing plan and taking active steps to deter their spamming behavior, they may find another route to take, or better yet, a new business to get into.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Recruiting Volunteers For Nonprofit Marketing

Today, the web is a crucial part of any nonprofit internet strategy. Social media encourages and facilitates human interaction. These days the term typically refers to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace that can be accessed from computers, mobile phones and other devices, allowing users to communicate more or less in real time. Social platforms offer a variety of applications for communication, marketing and file sharing, and are served directly or indirectly by third-party websites such as Flicker (for photo sharing), YouTube (video) and PayPal (online money transfer). 

 Social media is becoming the standard for nonprofit fundraising and volunteer recruitment. The variety of means to gather and organize people is almost limitless. Facebook alone offers "walls" to post brief messages, an inbox, status reports that alert the user's entire network, and options like "pokes" and "likes" which can serve as little reminders and free advertisement. Perhaps the fastest and most concise way to recruit volunteers is through Twitter. 

Users can post messages of 140 characters or less to which everyone who subscribes to the user's feed - friends, family, and fans - becomes notified. One simple message, or "tweet", is all it takes to make sure everyone you know is aware that you are in need of assistance, and messages can be "re-tweeted" by the recipient, opening up a whole extended network of friends of friends of friends, and so on. There are a number of things that make social online media a superior way for organizations in need of funding to gather volunteers. 

First of all, it's free. While third parties may charge for their services, social media platforms currently do not, and a charity's success is limited only by time and ingenuity. With the variety of nonprofit resources on the web, almost anything a charity could think to do for their cause can be aided by social media, including the recruitment process. Social media can be used successfully by those without marketing expertise or access to a professional print shop. 

There is an abundance of websites geared towards providing people with advice on just about anything, much of it for free. While there will always be a period of trial and error with any new endeavor, feedback and response is much faster with social media as they are web-based, and mistakes are no longer a waste of paper. Social networking speeds up the start-to-end time of a campaign because the recruitment process no longer involves putting up posters around town, advertising in newspapers or cold calling. 

Social media also make the prospect of volunteering more attractive as much of volunteers' work can now be done from home. Today, the pool of potential volunteers is worldwide. Access to social networking sites is available almost everywhere and information and money can easily get from one place to another instantaneously. While this may mean increased competition from other charities around the world, nonprofits in Facebook, Twitter and social sites now have a global reach.

Social Media Is Sweeping Our Nation

Social media is sweeping our nation, is it here to stay or will it have its day and then fad from glory... like our old friend, the eight track tape?
According to industry expert Sree Sreenivasan, cofounder of and a journalism instructor at Columbia University, social media is here to stay.
Sree was recently a keynote speaker at the Vacation Ownership Investment Conference (VOIC) in Orlando Florida, where he talked about the future of this new business tool.
"We are at the infancy of a great revolution," proclaimed Sree, "harness the public attention with social media or else get left behind." Sree believes that social media must become an integral part of any marketing plan as we move forward in this age of technology.
Sree encouraged us to look at social media of today... like the television was in the 50s. No one of the time expected the TV to be able to compete with radio, let alone become the mass media instrument it has become today. Large companies wouldn't dream of a marketing plan that did not include television advertising to promote and build their brand. In 10 years, Sree believes we will regard social media in the same way.
So you know you need to jump into this new and unknown territory but you have no idea where to start. Take heart, the internet is full of helpful information on the subject but to save you some time, here is what I have learned from scourging the web and our friend Wikipedia.
Social media: Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking, collaborative projects, blogs and microblogs, content communities, social networking sites and virtual communities. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging and crowdsourcing to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.
• Blogs: Blogger, ExpressionEngine, LiveJournal, Open Diary, TypePad, Vox, WordPress, Xanga, ning, GoDaddy
• Microblogging: FMyLife, Foursquare, Jaiku, Plurk, Posterous, Tumblr, Twitter, Qaiku, Yammer, Google Buzz
• Location-based social networks: Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook places, The Hotlist
• Social networking: ASmallWorld, Cyworld, Facebook, Hi5, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Tagged, XING
• Information Aggregators: Netvibes, Twine (website)
Collaboration/authority building
• Wikis: PBworks, Wetpaint, Wikia, Wikimedia
• Social bookmarking (or social tagging):[16] CiteULike, Delicious, Diigo, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, folkd
• Social news: Digg, Mixx, NowPublic, Reddit, Newsvine, MyWeboo
• Social navigation: Trapster, Waze [17]
• Content Management Systems: Wordpress
• Document Managing and Editing Tools: Google Docs, Syncplicity,, Dropbox Reviews and opinions
• Business reviews: Customer Lobby, Yelp, Inc.
• Community Q&A: Askville, EHow, Stack Exchange, WikiAnswers, Yahoo! Answers
Brand monitoring
• Social media measurement: Attensity, Statsit, Sysomos, Vocus
Before you go cross eyed and start hitting your head against the wall... you don't have to do everything out there! You can start with a Facebook page, a Twitter account or a company blog.
If your company has the resources to hire someone to manage your social media great, but if not, all is not lost. Find an employee that has some social media savvy and get started.
The important thing to remember is that social media is intended to be... well... social. This is not a set it and forget it endeavor! It doesn't do any good to ask for public input or opinion if no one is paying attention. If negative input is seen, take the opportunity to make things right for that customer. After all it is cheaper to keep a current customer then find a new one.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Listening to God on the Appalachian Trail

We live in a fast pace world, where our minds have to travel even faster. Throughout history, life has never been this way. Think about your day. You wake up to the sound of an alarm, not a rooster. You get out of your allergy free, down alternative, Poster-pedic bed and turn off the electric blanket as you place your feet on the ground. You walk across your heavy face weight, high density, plush, synthetic fiber carpet and take the few steps to your indoor bathroom. You do your business, close the seat that you had your name engraved on and flush the chrome handle on the piece of finely constructed porcelain. Next, you turn on the water with a simple twist of the wrist, no pumping, priming or walking a mile to the well, carrying a bucket on your head, required. You grab the latest technologically advanced toothbrush, the Crudomatic x2312, and slap a dab of teeth brightening, taste bud dissolving toothpaste on your Crudomatic x2312 and push the button. This device that resembles some sort of James Bond type spy-ware starts to go to work in your mouth. Stuff is flying all over your bathroom. You are careful n

ot to swallow any of the solution that you placed on your new have read the warning labels that say, "DO NOT SWALLOW. IF SWALLOWED SEEK MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY!" After you clean up the mess that you have caused all over your faux marble vanity, you look at the clock that is screaming, "You're late." You turn around and with a flash you have tied your machine made tie on to your tanning bed tanned neck. You rip the cleaners bag off of one of your professionally steam cleaned and pressed tailored suits and run down the steps. Then, you help the kids go through the production line of, "Have a good day at school" and rip open the plastic package on your "breakfast." 

The label on your "breakfast" says that it is packed full of vitamins and minerals so you take a bite of the artificially instituted genetically engineered vitamins and the "minerals" that have been classified as minerals, due to the intent of medical based research. You get half way out of the door and realize that your cup of coffee is still sitting in its automatic fresh brewed, just the way you like it, holster. You know, your gunshot that you need to open your eyes the rest of the way. You only got 5 hours sleep last night. After you played an artificial game of golf with the kids on the television screen, you had to catch up on your Facebook messages, send out your friend request and play Farmville. Oh, and yesterday would have been a disaster if you did not't get your Sports Center update so you had to watch the days news. 

When you saw 12:05am on the clock you started wrapping up the day and walked up the stairs to bed and started thinking about everything that you didn't get done. So, you need that cup of coffee in order to stay awake long enough to get to the next cup of coffee. You drink up and push the button to start your car. You tell Mr. Bluetooth to open your garage door and pull out into the man made mirage of a world that God created. You stop at most of the stop signs and make your way to the freeway. They call it a "free"way of all things, as people are traveling as fast as the law will allow them and a little faster to get to a place that they are told what to do; compromise morals, to meet the bottom line. This place that you are traveling to is what you have to do so that you can play on your computer at night while worrying about what you need to get done. 

So, you press the gas peddle a little more, risking a ticket, higher insurance rates and an embarrassing aggravating moment with a police officer. (Which reminds me, have you heard the one about the guy that got pulled over and the police officer asked him, "Sir, do you have any ID." The man replied, "About what?") You pull into work and turn off your radio. You, "dut dut", push your car alarm and lock the doors simultaneously, report to work, do some of the things you are supposed to get done and drive through the smog alert back to your neck of the concrete jungle. You meet the kids for dinner at the families favorite grease pit (the world has told us what is acceptable to eat) and you and your wife discuss how you will divide and conquer. 

One of the kids has indoor soccer practice and the other has to study for a test on evolution and how man was formed by a "big bang." You find time for a preliminary check of your email and Facebook messages on your iPhone on the way home. You don't think that your eleven year old little boy minds that you are paying attention to a 3 inch screen while driving instead of him. He is busy texting his friends on his iPhone, playing his own hand held game with his iPod in his ears, listening to his favorite pop star singing about "itches and oes" and bumping and grinding with that hard body thang at a bar all night. You would never let him listen to such things but you didn't have the time to check during your busy day. 

You want to know more about him. You long for it. You want him to talk to you more but this is the way times are now. They have busy lives to with school and hobbies. How could you ever take care of them if you did not work like you do? Things can't change, you would not be able to keep up, if your schedule was different. We live in this concrete world that man has made. Our God wants and longs for you to get the iPod out of your ears and find time for Him. He is not looking at the 3 inch screen instead of you. He is here. He is waiting to have a relationship with you. I have lived in the city my whole life. 

Although, I had the pleasure of having a Grandfather who had a favorite place on earth. As a boy I played in the barn, chased cattle through the field, walked through the mud getting a little dirt on my hands and everywhere else. I remember the joy that my grandfather and I would experience together doing things around the farm that only such a place would provide. I remember running to him when I caught a tadpole and how proud he was. He was happy because I was happy. He was proud because he provided this environment for me to find such childhood wonders. We have a God that is the perfect father; the perfect grandfather, if you will. He has made this green and living earth; full of beauty and amazement, peace and joy. 

God made it for us. I imagine God looking down at an individual who has discovered something that they have never seen before, something that He created, with deep satisfaction. When you walk through the woods on a hike to discover more of God you are surrounded by His artwork. No doubt it is difficult to impossible to escape the "busy" where you currently are...I believe that God wants to get you away long enough to rekindle a campfire in your soul. Come and let God do the rest. Sadly, this aspect of life, many have never experienced. We have built literal walls which have blocked the young and the old from being a part of God's incredible masterpiece. 

He painted the heavens and the earth. He designed the trees and the waters; the mountains and the birds. We have installed concrete and metal over what God has created. I can't help but ask the question, "Do we think that we can paint a better picture?" He designed you and I. I believe that in man's ever increasing knowledge of providing for ones wants, man has forgotten about his need. We have forgotten how to listen to God. 

I believe that nature, a hike through the woods, allows a person to be in the place that God has designed for just listen to Him. As we step back from our "priorities" God can work to align ours with His. Never in the history of the world has man been in the absence of nature, the nature that God created. I feel that I must give an opportunity to others to experience something that they may have never experienced. I feel that taking all of the other elements out of sight, all the busyness and routine, and leaving them for a few days is absolutely essential to the spiritual state of a man. Come on The Walk with us. Come, listen to God, you will not return the same.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Facebook Wall Poster

So you have a Joomla powered website, great content, and are starting to get visitors. If you haven't added Facebook integration though, you're missing out on a vital piece of social technology to engage with your users. By adding these features, like Facebook comments, you're actively letting your users know that you value their opinion and want their feedback. 

Even more, as these comments and engagements grow, more users will get a feel for how your site works, the types of users that are already active on your site, and this will continue the upward trend of gaining new users. Some may be put off on the thought of adding Facebook integration to their site. However, one of the primary benefits of using a CMS, like Joomla, is the power, ease, and flexibility of extensions. Utilizing already available add-ons, you can have Facebook comments up and running in mere minutes in your Joomla articles. 

Additionally, you have the power to customize the look and feel of the comments widget in order to tailor it to the look and feel of your site. Quickly change the font and background colors, the number of comments to show, and even whether the comment is posted directly on the user's wall. This latter feature, a post back to the user's wall, is an exciting way to attract new visitors to your site. With each comment posted, you'll not only be generating new content, you'll also be drawing the attention of the poster's full social network to your site. It's features like this that truly will make your site social, and is vital to attracting new guests to your site. 

In addition to comments, there are plenty of other features and advantages to adding Facebook capabilities to your site: Single-sign on capabilities allow user's a 1-click registration and login process. Excellent for easy access to your site without any lengthy registration forms. Like buttons let your users vote up Joomla articles that they find most relevant. Recommendation widget uses the user's Facebook preferences, in conjunction with other guests' 'Likes' in order to give suggestions of articles the user may enjoy the most. 

Fanbox widget shows how many people like the website in general, which helps build overall trust. Activity Feeds let your users see the most recent activity from your Facebook Fan Page. While Facebook comments alone are all that many administrators will want, or need, for their Joomla based website, all of these features can be combined for adding a powerful social component to your web presence.