Google takes on the OTAs- Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity

Google takes on the OTAs and has decided to enter the OTA business directly through a licensing deal with Room 77. Room 77 is a OTA startup that currently has hotel listings located only in the US. Despite the money that is earned by Google from OTAs like Expedia, Booking.com and Travelocity, Google Inc (GOOG) is moving boldly to play a larger role in booking hotel rooms—at the risk of offending some of its most important advertisers.

Google is adding more photos and reviews to its hotel listings, so they increasingly resemble those of travel search sites such as Priceline Group Inc. (PCLN) Expedia Inc(EXPE) and TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP). And it is more aggressively promoting its “hotel-price ads” that post room rates directly as travel-search sites do.

The idea is to encourage travelers to plan more of their trips directly on Google. In the process Google gets them closer to making a booking, which experts expect will make referrals more valuable, prompting travel agencies and hotel operators to pay more for clicks on Google ads over time. It also encourages more hotel operators to place ads on Google directly, bypassing online travel agencies that charge commissions of up to 25%.

In its latest move related to hotels, Google on Monday struck a licensing deal that will give it access to technology from hotel-booking software startup Room 77 while adding engineers to Google’s hotel-search team.

But the move is risky: Online travel agencies are among Google’s biggest advertisers. Priceline Group will spend more than $1.5 billion in 2014 on Google advertising and Expedia could spend another $1 billion, mainly to attract hotel bookings, estimates RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney. Those two alone could account for nearly 5% of Google’s ad revenue this year, Mr. Mahaney estimates, even though the company has over a million advertising customers.

The hotel-price ads on Google are “a game changer,” said Erik Muñoz, an executive director at hotel-booking software company SiteMinder. He said Google’s new ads allow hotels to compete with online travel agencies for a direct booking, potentially driving down their costs.

“Any time you’re dealing with Google it pays to be careful and know what its long-term strategy is,” says Tom Botts, chief customer officer at Denihan Hospitality Group, which is testing the virtual tour at its Miami property.

The relationship between Google and online travel agencies can be even more tense. They fear Google’s moves to establish direct relationships with hotels, said one executive of Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (OWW) Expedia and TripAdvisor are members of FairSearch.org, an advocacy group that highlights what it sees as Google’s anticompetitive practice of promoting its own services in search results. Even so, they remain big spenders on Google advertising because of the valuable leads.
Read more at http://on.wsj.com/1e9KrQwGoogle Places

With continuous improvement of their ‘Google Places’ interface, Google has been developing their ‘hotel search’ offerings. Users searching for hotels will find virtual tours, reviews, ratings, directions, pricing and much more. With the integration of Room 77, they will be able to book directly with each hotel through the Google Search interface. This indeed is a game changer.

For independent hoteliers, a few questions come to mind. How much will their cut be? Expedia commissions are currently at 25% and Booking.com between 15-20%. Will the Google/Room77 pricing structure be the same or will they create a hybrid structure that includes advertising? How will they incorporate Google Adwords into the equation. Will it be an extention of their Adwords Express where advertisers can place an ad right from their Google Places account?

Finally, the moment many hoteliers have been waiting for… The end of the OTA. Or is it? It might not yet be time to do the happy dance. Not until we learn if it is a fresh approach possibly bringing hotel costs down and increasing actual bookings or just ‘more of the same’ albeit on a grander scale. Or possibly something more sinister? The important question is…  What will it mean for independent lodging owners?

Stay tuned… this is promising to be quite the ride. Whether it’s a fun ride or not, at least for independent lodging professionals, will be determined at a later date.

Additional Revenue Model for Hotels

Catalin calls this hotel strategy The Catwalk Concept. It is fundamentally an additional revenue model for hotels that uses the concept of sponsoring brands that may be used within the hotel.Catwalk

Excerpt from Catalin at Cain:

“A branded hotel can take three specific steps to capitalise on this opportunity:

  • First, conduct research to identify specific brands of other products and services that appeal to their guests, for example, one such brand could be a particular type of flat-screen television whose design and price tag has been targeted to a specific type of customer.
  • Second, explain to the companies identified the benefits of gaining access to their guests; the hotel could build guest market profiles to support the claims that its guests fit the profile of the flat-screen television’s target audience.
  • Third, find inconspicuous ways to grant these companies access to the guests, for example, the hotel could agree to display the flat-screen televisions in its rooms so that the guests interact freely with the product, without ever feeling part of a marketing campaign.”

Just like pro-fisherman and Nascar racers, who rely heavily on sponsorships, hotels are in the position to heighten the visibility of certain branded products that they use. Presenting an even better opportunity, is the ability to actually put that brand in a potential customer’s hands. Need a new mattress? Try it out at a sponsored hotel. Love the sheets? Buy them directly from the hotel.

Some of the larger hotel chains, like Hampton Inns, have been selling their bedding for a while now. How could this work for small to medium-sized hotels? Is anyone doing this now?

Here’s a shout out to brands that supply hotels -is this an attractive proposition for you? What would a hotel need to do to begin this partnership? I’m thinking that for a brand there is great potential here for some very valuable social media interaction.

Find the full article at Cain, a Strategy and Innovation Agency located in the United Arab Emirates.

Your Guide to Selecting a Hotel Property Management System

When I was young, my grandmother and grandfather owned and ran a small resort in Northern Wisconsin. I remember her notifying the nearby Visitor’s Information Center on Friday evenings when they had open, unsold cottages. It was a friendly conversation that was often repeated just before the cottages ‘turned-over’ for the next weekly rentals. These phone calls often resulted in new guests and increased occupancy for the resort. Wisconsin Resort

The days of putting up a sign and then advising the local Visitor’s Center of your hotel’s availability just isn’t enough anymore. To survive you’ll need to realize that hotel marketing has changed. Influences such as social media networks and the global marketplace can make your new sales world seem like you are the smallest of fish in a very large ocean. Sometimes it can even seem like there is a minefield in that ocean, just waiting for you. BUT, it doesn’t have to be THE END. Independent hotels and resorts, yes, even the small- and medium-sized ones, that invest in technology to streamline operations, sell globally, and enhance the guest experience can navigate through successfully.

Today, selecting an outstanding hotel property management system (PMS) is the essential element to maximizing occupancy rates and increasing profitability. As online systems’ integration and the influence of a global marketplace become more and more important to hotel sales, selection of the right property management system, your hotel’s core business tool, is the most critical component to success. Choosing one that easily and efficiently manages and organizes hotel inventory and tasks, while seamlessly coordinating marketing channels to maximize occupancy is the key to a successful implementation.

How do you find a PMS that can do all this? Here are a few steps to get you on your way:

Form a Plan

Form a Team

Unless you’re a small ‘mom & pop’  hotel, where the owners are the team, the first step in selecting a property management system is to form an integration team that includes managers and staff. It’s important to do this to make sure the property management system addresses most of the needs throughout the hotel and is evaluated through various viewpoints. It also helps to get the ‘buy-in’ of the eventual users. For small lodging professionals, the ‘moms & pops’, sit down and discuss this throughly. Treat it as the important decision it is. Don’t let the day to day operations push this decision aside. It WILL make your life easier -and allow your property to make you more money.

Conduct a Needs AssessmentPMS features

  1. It’s important to clarify all the property’s business processes, beginning with guest inquiries, moving to reservations and then ending with check-out and ‘thank you’ letters.
  2. Also gather a list of the numerous functions that, depending on the size of your property and the amenities it offers, can include anything from room service to bicycle rentals.
  3. Consider how and who you want to partner with. Integrating with the many online sales channels today will provide the highest occupancy levels, but not without significant cost. Choosing the ones that best match your guest demographics is the key.
  4. What type of support will be important to you and your team? Typically, most hoteliers’ first choice is 24/7 support with a support team based in the same country.

Prioritize the list of features

Create a list of basic requirements that must be included to create a platform suitable to your hotels’ operational and marketing needs. Then evaluate the ‘nice to have’ items and determine implications like ROI and guest happiness and add those top features to the list as well.

Determine your budget

Typically today, a cloud-based system will end up costing you less, provide unlimited software updates, and relieve you of the problem of having the system go down without the right personnel to fix it. In-place systems are usually a better fit for the large hotel chains that have enterprise-level demands and deeper pockets.

Evaluate the Options

Find the most cutting-edge, hospitality approved PMS systems. Ask for recommendations from colleagues at similar-sized properties, your local hotel and lodging association and staff. They have likely used a variety of systems over the years and can offer suggestions and warnings about the available PMS systems on the market. Create a comparison chart to capture the myriad pieces of information.

Common considerations for choosing a property management system are:

1. Functional design. The level of design may be a clue to finding the technology right for your hotel. A clunky, out-of-date interface should give cause for concern; the technology underlying it is probably no better. Look for a system that has a intuitive interface, is easy to navigate and organized logically. Tip- Count how many mouse ‘clicks’ it takes to complete routine functions.

2. Robust Property Management Functions. Fully-integrated front- and back-office operations, detailed guest profiles, management of guest folios and charge routing, housekeeping, special request management and task lists are all required of your multi-functional team and should be part of a basic PMS. Automation of routine communications should be embedded as part of the reservation process allowing your staff to interact with guests, while tracking the information.

3. Sell via new marketing channels. Today, hotels need to be able to directly access the global marketplace. This means systematic support for selling via your website, global distribution systems and social networks. The importance of social media in hospitality sales is now proven. Watch for trendsetting PMS vendors to capture and add guest social profiles to their CRM (customer relationship management) systems and add features for interacting in these new ways.

4. Integration with other systems. Your PMS should interface with your online services and marketing channels. Complex components like the online booking engine of your website, merchant accounts for credit processing, and linking of global distribution systems that will enable you to sell on Expedia, Booking.com, etc. should all be integrated into one easy-to-use interface. Your property management system will be the common control system and should be therefore be the easiest and most robust of all. Automatic synchronization is the key to successfully implementing these various functions.

5. Flexible reporting. Your system should be able to generate custom reports and queries. This will enable you to track your marketing efforts, predict opportunities and determine the partners that provide the best ROI. Do not overlook the importance of your accounting backend. Can you easily track all transactions as they process into your bank? Your PMS should either exist as a full accounting package, export in ready-to-use formats like Excel or .cvs OR both.

6. Positioned for growth. Select a property management system that accommodates future trends and growth. Look for a system with a structure that enables you to add services and functions as your needs evolve.

Narrow the list, based on the data in the chart, to 3-5 property management systems. Then arrange testing and more research for each of the systems. Arrange for system demonstrations with the vendors. Provide each vendor a detailed list of needs. This will ensure that your concerns are addressed and allow you control over the sales conversation.

It’s most likely that vendors will demo their property management system through an online demonstration where you will be able to see the software in action and ask questions about the system. Sometimes, vendors will give you a temporary account, where you can actually add info and test the system with little guidance.

This is also the time to firm up your budget. Request quotes as you evaluate the systems. Obtain references.

Before You Sign

1. Dig into the Real Costs. What is included in the final costs? Does this integration include all the items on your ‘must have’ list? Is the design and implementation of your online booking engine included fee-free? How is the global distribution (gds) set up? Are there additional costs? Are there 3rd party set-up charges that need to be paid? What commissions and transaction fees will you pay and to whom? I.e. Expedia and Booking.com have pass-through commission fees and some PMS vendors add on their own additional transaction fees, as well. Pay attention to vendors that are forthright and transparent in the costs you pay. Watch for warning signs from vendors that are not forthcoming with the costs you will pay (gds integration, etc.) and who will perform the integrations. As a rule, the more people involved in the middle, the more control is lost and the more time is involved for the integration.

2. Agree Upon A Timeline. After you’ve agreed on your ‘must have’ list with the chosen vendor, set up a delivery timeline. Determine key milestone’s and related delivery dates. Sometimes there are actions that are out of control of a vendor and depend on 3rd party implementation; these should be clearly defined and best case/worse case scenarios should be given.

3. Technology Partner. As you make your final selection, keep in mind that this choice will become a vital component in your technology requirements. Be sure that the services offered are encompassing enough to support your needs and skill-level. If not, then consider a 3rd party project manager, that can help with implementation, can fill in the technology gaps and will advocate for you to the many vendors that are in your global circle.

4. Additional Things to Ask.

• How is training implemented? One-on-one? Group? In-person?

• Is there an appointed account manager/trainer?

• System documentation, how to videos and updates should be up-to-date as the software changes.

• Support times (i.e 24/7)

• Guaranteed turnaround times for phone calls and emails.

• Country of Origin of the support team. Will language issues be a barrier? Can you wait several days for a resolution to a problem?

• How does the support team track and manage your requests? Do they have a robust support system for supporting their clients?

• How does your info export? Can you perform the export? Does it come out in usable MSExcel-ready files?

The hospitality environment is ever more competitive and challenging everyday. Selecting the right advisors and vendors to fully-integrate software systems to maximize occupancy, serve your guests well, and ease staff workload is the key to your hotel’s future success.

As an e-business advisor to the hospitality and leisure industry, Social Energizer helps with the selection, integration and implementation of property management systems, online sales channels and social media networks with a special focus on independent hotels, inns, resorts, and campgrounds.

Social Energizer integrates inbound marketing techniques into each marketing plan, creates dynamic and affordable websites fully optimized for Search Engines, then utilizes digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Interest in Pinterest

Are women leading the growth of the next big Internet thing? The answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’.  Pinterest is catching on fast among women. And why not? Haven’t women always been the ones to cut recipes out of magazines, save pictures for wedding planning, and pass on their favorite sayings? Internet sensations all have one thing in common. They take advantage of long-standing habits and interests of things that people do offline and find a way to automate it online -in a very appealing, often addictive way. With a good setup and a lot of luck, it turns viral. Facebook used this simple formula, now Pinterest has, too.Pinterest Pinning Image

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is self-described as a virtual pin-up board. While surfing the Internet, users can ‘pin’ images that catch their attention and save them to their personal boards. It’s a great way of keeping track of the flooding impressions made every time one searches the net. How many times, while looking for something specific, do you come across an image or an idea that answers a different question you were wondering about? Pinterest makes it easy to keep track; just ‘pin it’ for later examination.Kissing Couple on framed wall

By virtue of its design, Pinterest piggybacks on Facebook. You need to have, and be logged in, to a Facebook account, then you enter Pinterest. Joining this way brings along all your Facebook friends, who see that you’re on Pinterest, and then of course they join, too. This social networking engine creates opportunities for sharing at a more intimate level than Facebook, which tends to be a bit more broadcasting-like. Pinterest is like inviting someone into your home. See the difference?

Is Pinterest Only for Women?

Will Pinterest interest men? So far, men have been slow at adapting, but I think that’s because the current content appeals mostly to women. To see my point, search on Pinterest for ‘fish’ or ‘trophy deer’. You’ll see that it’s not exactly ‘Man land’. Maybe that’s ok. But as men begin to use Pinterest, if they do, and ‘pin’ their interests, we’ll see more pics of trophy deer, monster fish and skimpy bikinis. Pinterest has lots of potential of becoming a classic man’s bragging wall, complete with pics of themselves with their latest kill or catch.

Pinterest for Travel

Watch for travel to become a hot topic on Pinterest. The largest buying demographic for travel is women. Imagery and social networking aspects have proven to be the strongest driver of travel purchases. It all adds up to a new powerful promotion tool for hotels and leisure-focused businesses. I’ve started pinning images from travel sites I’ve created, Posada Yum Kin and RelaxWisconsin.com on my board (full-disclosure). They are getting attention thanks to Pinterest.

Invitation Only

Like Google+, Pinterest new users need to be ‘invited’.  So, how do you get an invitiation? Leave a comment on this post and I will send you an invite. For a great ‘How to’ on signing up for Pinterest, check out Megan Tietz’ blog on Sorta Crunchy.

Pinner Beware

I’m not sure anyone really cares, but it’s good to know that Pinterest has been receiving a little heat for “non-transparent advertising methods”- gasp. Hey, everyone needs to make money, but it’s becoming more and more important that users know when ‘their content’ is being commercialized. How does that happen? After a user pins an image, Pinterest tags the images with links to marketing affiliates like eBay, Amazon and so on. If someone clicks on the image (which now in effect has become an ‘ad’), then they will be sent to the linking site. Pinterest makes money when people click and/or buy product. Read more on that at LLSocial.com.

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!

StringHub –Where Educators, Students and Startups Meet

Article first published as StringHub –Where Educators, Students and Startups Meet on Technorati.

As a guest writer, Technorati published my first article last week, which is shown below. I found it a great compliment to be asked to write for Tehnorati. After all, Technorati, the very first search engine for blogs, is considered the gold standard, with an index of more than one million blogs. Let me know what you think…

I always get excited about finding cool new ways to help small and medium-sized businesses solve one of their greatest challenges – lack of resources. Introducing… StringHub.StringHub graphic

StringHub is attempting to tackle this resource challenge by linking instructors and professors with businesses via student projects. In fact, this equation promises to help everyone including our sagging economy. Businesses will receive valuable help they need from inspiring artists and professionals and students will receive the opportunity to take part in ‘real-life’ business situations.

I recently met Adam Hoeksema, co-founder of StringHub, online and found his passion and insights to be inspiring. Adam’s innovative thinking promises to drive educational institutions everywhere to adapting Internet technologies to create a more meaningful, far-reaching impact, while introducing their students to the art of entrepreneurship. The concept was Adam’s brainchild, but taking it online required a team effort. Adam is the business, marketing and finance guy in this partnership. The Internet technology, namely their website StringHub.com, was created by his brother and co-founder, Brandon, who is actually still in high school. A self-taught programmer, Brandon has done a remarkable job with the website. It’s a simple, clean interface that allows educators to submit class projects to be matched with businesses in need.

I asked Adam about the background and details surrounding StringHub.com and here’s what he had to say:

Adam, how and why did the idea of StringHub.com occur to you?
“I graduated from Taylor University in May of 2010 with a degree in accounting. In June, I started as Client Services Manager at the Flagship Enterprise Center, a business incubator in Anderson, Indiana. As I worked with our clients at the Flagship Enterprise Center, I realized that startup companies need a lot of help. They need help with graphic and web design, social media, video production, public relations, web application development, and the list could go on. There are college students working on class projects in all of these areas, but typically the projects have no real world application. The projects simply go to waste; they are just for practice. We thought if we could unlock the real world value of student class projects we could create a win-win situation for both businesses and students.”

What is StringHub’s mission?
“I want StringHub to fundamentally change the way that college and university class projects work. I believe that the best way for students to learn something is to try and fail in the real world. You can’t do that through case studies, or projects for imaginary businesses. So first and foremost we want to help improve the educational experience for students. At the same time, we want to help small businesses flourish, add jobs, and create wealth. Those are lofty goals, but we believe it is possible.”

What type of projects would StringHub.com participate in?
“Currently there are millions of student class projects in areas like:
▪ Marketing
▪ Public Relations
▪ Business Management
▪ Graphic Design
▪ Web Development
▪ Social Media
▪ Finance
And many more subjects

Typically these projects just go to waste. They are ‘practice.’ http://stringhub.com is attempting to create a platform that unlocks the real world value of these student class projects in order to help support entrepreneurs.

Many of these class projects could be free to the entrepreneur. We believe that a focused approach can really accelerate a startup. Imagine an army of students all supporting an innovative, world changing startup company.”

What do students gain from this?
By connecting student projects with real world applications students are gaining:
▪ Real world experience
▪ A professional portfolio of completed work
▪ Relationships with a network of potential employers

For example, Adam refers to an integrated marketing plan created for HeatMax, Inc. at the University of Arizona. Four University of Arizona students helped to create a new product line called Toastie Toes that helps women keep their feet warm in cold weather. Their professor, Hope Jensen Schau matches student teams with companies to work on projects like packaging, distribution, advertising and public relations. The four students in question have earned local fame and have also been contracted to continue their work with HeatMax, Inc.

Overall, the University of Arizona example is the same model that StringHub.com will employ. It is a web-based platform that allows tech schools, colleges and universities to unlock the real world value of student class projects, by connecting student projects with opportunities, and managing the entire project through an online workroom.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Cuckoo for Cacoo, Free Flow Charting for Entrepreneurs

It is always tricky envisioning how the various pieces of a startup business will fit together and interact. Cacoo (https://cacoo.com/) is a cool cloud-based application that can be used for project envisioning, flow charts and mockups. Cacoo offers free and reasonably priced product tiers that will fit into those very tight budgets. For entrepreneurs that think ‘visually’ this may be the right tool to add to your small business toolbox. Another great feature is Cacoo’s online collaboration tool for projects ‘on-the-fly’ and for times when the team just can’t meet.Cacoo image

Here’s what they say:

“Cacoo is a user friendly online drawing tool that allows you to create a variety of diagrams such as site maps, wire frames, UML and network charts. Cacoo can be used free of charge.

Draw a variety of diagrams

Creating attractive diagrams, such as wire frames, mind maps, network charts, and site maps, are very easy for anyone as you can simply pick and “drag and drop” elements from a large library of stencils.

Quick and Easy

Cacoo covers all the basic drawing functionalities. A huge number of stencils, aligning functionality, background sheet, freehand options, and many more assist you to draw nice diagrams efficiently.

On Web Browser

All you need for Cacoo is a Web browser. No troublesome installation is required. With a computer and access to the internet, anyone can sign in Cacoo and edit diagrams. Start drawing diagrams at home, at work or at hotels while you travel.

Real-Time Collaboration

Multiple users can share and edit one diagram simultaneously. Changes are shown on the sharers screen in real time. Collaboration will be more creative and productive as team members can plan and review cooperatively.”

Cacoo Store

Shop the Cacoo Store for stencils (icons) and templates to speed up your project. You’ll need to purchase Cacoo points, before you’ll be able to buy or earn them by submitting stencils or templates of your own.

Check Cacoo out and let me know if you find this helpful.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Thumbs Up If You Like Creative Design

Look at these ads created by AT&T. This clearly shows that they are attuned to creating ads that have the ability to go viral. This one was sent by a friend in my social network via email. The email was titiled “Very, Very Cleverly Done”. I think so, too. Not only was the fabulous art done well and cleverly, but also the bigger idea. That of an ad campaign that is embraced by its audience. It strongly supports the brand of AT&T and is an innovative way of getting across their message. The only thing I think they could have done better was to have a link to their Facebook page or maybe another network.

Take a look at these great posters. Using just hands and a phone, an American phone company advertised worldwide by painting hands in the colours of different countries.  It’s just brilliant.

As social media goes, I’d say this is great stuff.

India

India AT&T creative ad

Bahamas

Bahamas AT&T creative ad

Australia

Australia AT&T creative ad

Brazil

Brazil AT&T creative ad

Canada

Canada AT&T creative ad

China

China AT&T creative ad

Eqypt

Eqypt AT&T creative ad

Costa Rica

Costa Rica AT&T creative ad

China

China AT&T creative ad -2nd version

England

England AT&T creative ad

Italy

Italy AT&T creative ad

France

France AT&T creative ad

Japan

Japan AT&T creative ad

Mexico

Mexico AT&T creative ad

Morocco

Morocco AT&T creative ad

Mexico

Mexico AT&T creative ad

Netherlands

Netherlands AT&T creative ad

Norway

Norway AT&T creative ad

Paraguay

Paraguay AT&T creative ad

South Africa

South Africa AT&T creative ad

United Kingdom

United Kingdom AT&T creative ad

Japan

Japan AT&T creative ad

Russia

Russia AT&T creative ad

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!

Social Networks in Turmoil Check Out Your Options!

Did Facebook make you angry this week? Are you afraid of Google becoming the Walmart of the Internet?

How dare they change things on what seems like a whim, right? Like Netflix, I think they forgot about the Number One Rule in Social Media. What is that rule, Mr. Zuckerberg? It’s about them, not you! I think you will soon be learning this lesson well… and very soon at that.

Facebook users were outraged this week when Facebook arbitrarily and seemingly without notice changed the Newsfeed, Privacy settings and Apps area. Get ready because there are more changes on the horizon. One is Facebook’s replacement for profiles called Timeline. Here you can share the entire story of your life. Really, do I want to do that? Did I ask for that?

After listening to this video, I’d just like to say one more time. Mr. Zuckerberg, It’s about us, not you!

I played around with some of the new features this week, like the lists for “Close Friends“. All I can say is it is clunky. After Facebook makes a few suggestions on “who” your close friends are you need to scroll through your friend lists, select a person, and then rescroll through the freind list again -each time. The competition has drag and drop. And for Timeline this is what the people at Mashable are saying about that.

Facebook Timeline Issues

Right after Timeline will come new features. Adding a music and media platform with Spotify, MOG & Rdio

Looks like Facebook wants to be your one-stop shop.

How do you feel?

1- Don’t like it, but you’ll get over it?

Here’s a post on how to adjust your “new” News Feed & Ticker

And here’s a post on adjusting your Apps and permissions

2- Don’t like it and you want to leave?

Here’s an article on exporting your stuff out of Facebook to a third party and then to Google+. (Read further options below before going to Google+).

Where can you go?

Up until now, the top choices have been MySpace, Zing, Friendsters.

Recently, Google has been working on Google+. Google+ has been plagued with criticism for it’s agonizingly, slow rollout. Why wait, everyone asked? Cunningly, I believe Google+ gauged its Grand-Launch-to-the Public for this long-planned “upgrade” by Facebook. Everyone knows that, historically, Facebook hasn’t managed its upgrades well. Industry insiders knew about the upgrades, but Facebook users were not really aware of it. Someone paying attention at Google+ probably read the writing on the wall and strategized on this opportunity. This timing just couldn’t be coincidence, could it?

That said, if you need some tips on trying Google+ out, here they are:

Google+ needed some momentum to experience a successful launch. Facebook’s changes presented Google+ the opportunity. This week many Facebook users are leaving to checkout Google+. It is a mass exodus to Google+.

BUT did you know Google is being looked at by Congress for Antitrust issues?

Here is a post about the antitrust issues featuring Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl.

Will you move just to get shut down and driven back to Facebook?

Did you know that very soon you will have a Third Choice?

Unthink

Yes, that’s right Unthink.com has what they claim are all the answers to Facebook’s and Google’s lack of respect for their users. In fact, Unthink won’t call you a user. They’ll call you an owner and here’s what they say about being an owner.

Unthink their idea of ownership - users

And here is a video that says it all on how Unthink plans to treat their new owners with a little parody on how Facebook users may have felt this week.

My question? When will Unthink be released and ready? I hope their rollout is not as slow as Google+’ was. These folks stand a chance and their marketing is in place. Watch for more on Unthink. Coming soon (I hope).

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!

Make People See Your ‘It’, A 5-Step Approach

Here’s a short story on innovation from Seth Godin that I’d like to share. It brings home what we do and why it matters.

The sad, true tale of Otto Rohwedder'Wonder Bread' photo (c) 2005, Anthony Easton - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread. He focused, like most inventers did, on the patent part and the making part.

The thing about the invention of sliced bread is this- for the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no one bought it, no one knew about it. It was a complete and total failure.

And the reason is that until Wonder came along and figured out how to spread the idea of sliced bread, no one wanted it.

They found that the idea of sliced bread like the success of almost everything is not always about what the patent is like, or what the factory is like, it’s about can you get your idea to spread, or not.

Ideas that spread, win.
(story as told by Seth Godin, SethGodin.com/sg)

 

I love this story and most things from Seth Godin. From a brand and social media perspective, he’s dead on. I think most people in medium to large-sized companies understand this story and how it relates to what they do quite easily. Medium-large-sized businesses usually employ agencies that help them ‘think out of the box’ and ‘stand out in the crowd’. They spend a lot of time and energy doing exactly that. At least that was my experience working with Cargill and Kimberly Clark. If you run a small business, I think it’s more difficult to understand where this fits in and how to act upon this little piece of wisdom.

Small businesses simply do not have the budgets to employ a New York or even an Appleton, WI ‘agency’. So what do you do?

1- Start by learning to understand your business from the ‘outside’.

How do your clients view your business? Take your blinders off. How do they see you in comparison to your competition?

2- How do you want them to see you?

Is there anything as special as ‘sliced bread’ about you or your business? What’s your niche?

3- Are you capitalizing on any special niche you have?

Pull together a small group of trusted clients, friends and family. People who care enough to be candid with you and care enough to get their heads around what you’re trying to do. Brainstorm on ways to stand out. Be remarkable. Be bold!

4- Put a plan into action.

Decide which idea or ideas you want to try out. Remember, the best ideas are not necessarily the most expensive. Don’t worry if your first attempts are not perfect. Wonder Bread probably didn’t get it right the first time either.

5- Evaluate.

Keep an eye on who and how many people are involved with your idea. Is it spreading? No? Then change it up. Do something different. Yes, it is spreading? Change it up again. Improve on what you’re doing based on feedback. Your audience expects and deserves it.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

5 Online Ideas for a ‘Happy’ Independence Day

Summer is here in Northeast Wisconsin and it looks like it should be a sunny and warm weekend. That’s why I think the Independence Day Holiday is the happiest of all holidays. Endure one of our winters and you’ll understand why. Oh, I know it’s about the celebration of our freedom, honor to those who envisioned this great nation and set up a strategy to build a nation that endures far into the future. A strategy that other countries will try to copy. I know that and truly appreciate it. But more simply, I think this holiday breaks down into happiness.

Here are 5 things online that feature ‘happy’. Enjoy!… and be happy.

  1. The Happy Movie. Can you measure happiness?Happy – A Documentary Trailer from Wadi Rum Films on Vimeo.
  1. A blog on happiness –Happy Thoughts for the Day
  2. The Happy News. Real news. Compelling Stories. Always Positive (I might use this one a lot in the future).
  3. Going through hardship? You’ll find this Ted Talks “Dan Gilbert asks, Why are we happy?” to be a revelation.
  4. Happy Neuron. Brain Fitness for Life. I like this a ‘brain fitness program’. Stimulate you attention, language, memory, visual spatial and executive function skills. Hmmm, sounds good to me. Happy neurons, happy me.

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!