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The Coffee Party Anyone? Howard Schultz of Starbucks

Today we’re a bit off-topic from our usual coverage on the impact of social media and how it can be easily and affordably integrated into small and medium-sized businesses. We’re talking politics. Oops. And even though we’re not really talking about politics –we are sort of talking about politics. Or maybe we’re talking about citizenship. Why? Because as a social media website that fundamentally supports small and medium-sized business, it is time. Small business owners need to pay attention. Let’s start with a cup of coffee.

Howard Schultz has done it again. The master of brand awareness and Starbucks CEO has taken on a new challenge, completely unrelated to coffee, in trying to lead the country out of this fiscal fiasco.

Like a dog chasing its tail, the economy is flat, and because of that lack of confidence, no one is hiring, causing the economy to decline further. Meanwhile, trillions of dollars sit idle in corporation lockboxes worldwide waiting for someone to say “Go!”. That someone is Mr. Schultz.

Mr. Schultz and business leaders of many major companies have joined together to make a one-two punch on America’s economy, jobs and politicians. One – in an ambitious endeavor to cut off significant funding for America’s politicians, they will no longer contribute to political campaigns. They will withhold funds until a ‘fair bi-partisan long-term fiscal plan’ is created and in place. Two – they will start hiring employees. They will do this as a show of confidence in America, they believe that once hiring begins, the economy will improve.

And they’re using social media to add to its potential for success. It started as a news release, then quickly gravitated to Facebook. Last Tuesday evening, the partner organization NoLabels.org hosted a ‘town hall’ meeting with Mr. Schultz.

Talk to you after the show.

Live broadcast by Ustream

I applaud you, Howard. It’s refreshing. Just in case you passed up the video above because of it’s length, here’s the highlights.

Here are some supporting organizations and links you can check out on this movement.

NoLabels.org

Facebook NoLabels.org

UpwardSpiral2011

And here are what others are saying online:

Joe Nocera of The OpinionPages (New York Times)

Kristen Breitweiser of Equity News

Dannielle Blumenthal of The Customer Collective

Rosabeth Moss Kanter –blogger on Harvard Business Review

And on Google+

I agree with this movement and think it’s vital that the citizens of America create enough pressure to CHANGE things. Mr. Schultz says that one of the keys is in establishing a bi-partisan movement. And as a disclaimer, I’d like to say that I am the one everyone wants to entice to their side –an independent, white, woman (blogger) from the Midwest. If you get me, you get your core followers. But I have a question.

Why not join forces with the Tea Party?

Now, I know that some say that the Tea Party is not bi-partisan. That they are made up mostly of white, conservative men and that may or may not be true, but their message and the message of the Schultz/NoLabels/UpwardSpiral2011 movement is similar –really similar. Right? If not, then what am I missing? Why not find some way, some middle ground, to join forces with the Tea Party in what you are trying to accomplish? Seems like you’re re-inventing the wheel. Unless, as some are saying, the Schultz/NoLabels/UpwardSpiral2011 is really the liberal answer to the conservation Tea Party movement and bi-partisanship is just another buzzword. I don’t know if this is true, I’m just a skeptical blogger, stirring up the pot. The coffee pot. Or tea pot -doesn’t matter to me. Come on… just make friends –we all need to bond together if we want to win this thing.

In the meantime- I’m in. We’ll work out the kinks as we go -it’s the new way of life. How about you? What do you think? If you support this and are a blogger, I encourage you to blog in support. If you’re a small to medium-sized business owner, hold your money and hire as soon as you can. Everyone should join the cause and participate, make a difference, lend a voice!

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!

The Social Media grade for the Packer Concert for NFL Season Opener

A few weeks ago my contest-loving, contest-winning hubby ‘won’ a contest on 1iota.com for the Green Bay Packer Pre-Game Kickoff Concert for the NFL Season Opening tickets! Yeah! Right?

You KNOW I’m a Packer Fan AND a country music fan. Yes, it was great fun. Saying he ‘won’ them though is a bit of a stretch. As we’re both Facebook fans of Green Bay Packers, Tom found a post that let us enter a contest for VIP Priority seats.

The only stipulation? You needed to be among the first of 3,000 people to sign up. So of course, he entered and immediately won. He could only sign up for up to 3, so he got 2 spots. Hmm, I said, “show me how you did it, I’ll get 2 more”. Simple, right? Then I learned… I simply don’t know how he found it! It took us at least 5 minutes to navigate to the same exact spot on 1iota’s very complicated website. It certainly was not intuitive –maybe it was a test instead of a contest? But we ‘won’ a second set of tickets -under my name, then found another couple to go with. Good to go. Social Media and Facebook, the new way to get free stuff!

As we came closer to this one-time event, you could tell that the promoters were planning it ‘on the fly’. The information that came out from 1iota.com, the Packers, and the media was usually unclear and conflicting. From the contest ticket information, we were told to pick up wristbands at noon, be back about 2-2:30pm, and that we’d leave the staging area to the concert about ‘3-ish’. Didn’t work that way.

We got there at 11:30am and were told that we needed to stay in ‘the pen’ or have someone save ‘our spot’. Here’s a video that shows exactly what that was like and the looong line of 3,000 people. (this footage is out of sequence)

Finally, it was time for wristbands -12:45pm! Yep, 45 minutes later than was posted online. The good news? Water was abundant and free and so were the bathrooms (porta-pottys, but clean). The bad news? Tell you later…

Social media tools are key with concert organization today

Each of our tickets had a ‘QR code’ on them and the staff from 1iota, merely scanned each code and verified each ticket holder. Easy peasy. QR codes are kind of like UPC codes for people. If you haven’t seen a QR code, you will. They are the square black and white boxes that take you to special pages, often promotional, online. This one was for concert check-in. This will offer many like opportunities for small businesses. Implementing this in the right scenario is a reasonably low-cost option.

Video of scanning QR codes here:

Video of wristbands:

Here are some of the videos that I took on Thursday. Word of warning, I’m just trying out my new, lower-end Toshiba hand-held video camera, so please forgive me for some of the juggling. I also learned it’s difficult to hold a camera over your head for 2plus hours.

The concert started with Maroon 5, singing Wake Up Call. Just for fun, go here for the lyrics. It’s funny, but if you compare as we did to the actual video of Network TV, the acts do not line up at all. ‘Live’ TV apparently isn’t so live after all.

Here is Adam Levine, getting the crowd going. One more self-proclaimed Packer Fan!

Kid Rock came on stage with his usual swagger and roar. He earned many new fans in Northeast Wisconsin at this concert.

Between performances the local TV and radio personalities, who mc’d the event, interviewed past NFL football players. Here was the best interview with Ahman Green and Antonio Freeman.

Lady Antebellum, the crowd favorite, came on toward the end of the concert. They were strategically scheduled here to finish up with a ‘live’ spot to launch the NFL football season.

I’d say the whole day was ‘a mixed bag’. Much of what people said on the 1iota.com discussion boards about the priority ‘VIP’ seating is true and I doubt that I’d do it again. That said, THE CONCERT ROCKED! And it will be one of those ‘one-of-a-kind’ events that I’ll always remember.

Finally, what was the bad news I mentioned earlier? When we went into the concert area at 3pm, 1iota, our keepers, offered us bottles of water (yep, no beer within these gates). And… BUT if you needed to use the bathroom, you had to forfeit your ‘place’ within the concert and you could not even get close again -splitting up many groups and families, including ours.

Was it worth it?

THE CONCERT WAS WORTH IT, but next time we’ll forego the 1iota thing. It was very much a bait and switch type of farce. The VIP ‘prize’ ended up being a total of 8 raffled prizes among 3,000 people. That’s it! For the many hours of waiting in a stale, hot, boring line – on a historic, activity-filled day in Lambeau, where there were so many things to see -what a waste in hindsight. If we had stood in the line for the general public even starting at any time after 2pm or so, we would have ended up with a similar or better ‘place’ within a more care-free crowd. Being a Kid Rock groupie, after all, is not as easy as it first seems.

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!

The Wealth of the Web Runs Deep, A Sequel

The original article, The Wealth of the Web Runs Deep, posted as a Saturday Morning’s Post in March received some of our best response ever. So, as a blogger, what do you do with that information?  You find out what’s hot and repeat it.

Using web analytics, a.k.a. stats, you’re able to find out so many things. For instance, you find what your audience likes or doesn’t, you find what days and times get the most response, and find what your average response is to each blog. Careful web analysis is worthwhile and critical to success.

Enough with the shop talk, Saturdays here at Social Energizer are for fun. With that in mind, a sequel to The Wealth of the Web Runs Deep is in order. Here are five websites that will help build your ‘web wealth’. Today, we have two time-lapse videos by Mindrelic, an interactive sunrise and new cool canoe. I want it.

Mindrelic 1 – Manhatten in motion -time lapse

If the video doesn’t load, click here.

Mindrelic 2 – Summer to Fall

If the video doesn’t load, click here.

Interactive Sunriseinteractive sunrise

This interactive sunrise, allows the viewer to spin it 360 degrees and look up and down. Very cool affects. rom Deviant Art, an artist community. Check out some of their work here.

Get Closer to Nature

You’ve heard of glass-bottom boats. How about a glass-bottom canoe or better yet the whole canoe in glass! This one let’s you really commune with nature. Yes, I do want.glass-bottom canoe

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!

5 Social Media Must Haves

Here are the 5 things every business must do to build a community online and bring in clients via social media.

1. Website

It’s your web basecamp, start here.
Work in Progressphoto © 2006 Grant Kwok | more info (via: Wylio)

2. Blog, forum, or some way of delivering active audience-focused content.

I have a few clients that really do not want to blog. They know they should to get the best online results, but they do not have time to create a post daily, weekly or sometimes even monthly. Hmmm, what to do? Well, number one, you can try NOT calling it a blog. Call it News and Events, or Random Thoughts. It gives you the ability to post when YOU want to without hearing the tapping of your audience’s foot waiting for a post sent out at strictly timed intervals. Sure, you might not get astronomical SEO, but you will get the liberty of posting at a time that is right for you and your business while still building your SEO. Forums, yes, forums. Great audience-generated content. Sit back and engage with your audience in a forum on your site. Glean that great content for use in blogs, I mean a ‘Random Thoughts’ column, new product ideas or your next promotion. Downside? Monitoring the forum for the wayword spammer or opinionated [expletive here] that maybe has ulterior motives or just wants to cause trouble. Other ideas? I’ve seen everything from ‘a quote of the day’ snippet to contests that involve the audience on a daily basis. I liked the later much more than the former. The key here is knowing your audience, using some imagination and creating something that entices people to involve themselves with your site regularly.

3. Social Media Networks

Facebook, Google, My Space, Google+, and Twitter are just a few of the networks where you may want to create a presence. Deciding which ones to join and how many you can be active with is a choice you will need to make, but usually the more the better.

4. Review Sites

Review sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp!, etc. are often overlooked, but surefire ways of getting great objective feedback. It’s always best when someone says something nice behind your back. They make it easy to ‘nudge’ those comments along with widgets that you can put on your website to show off your reviews. This is a free and easy way to make a big impact with your social network.

5. Visit the folks –other folks that is.

Find a forum or comment on someone’s blog (not your own) where your audience or fringe audience hangs out. You might learn what you should be doing and be able to offer some advice or help out. A couple of useful places to engage with an audience, whether niche or broad, is Quora and Alltop.

Integration

As you build this infrastructure, you’ll need to integrate as much as possible. From adding a Facebook ‘Like’ button to adding your website in your signature as often as possible there are countless possibilities for integration. The person that does this best wins.

At this point, someone usually says –“That’s it! That’s all you have to do.” Or “You can do this all yourself practically for free.” Yes, you can. But if you decide to do all this on your own when will you have time to produce your product or deliver your actual service? Now, might be the time that you realize that there are some things you do and some things you get help for. Give us a call today! We’ll set up a social media system that fits your talents, what you need and what you can afford.

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.

Chris Brogans- What is the Focus and Purpose of Your Blog

I was digging through some of my archives and came across this article from Chris Brogan, one of my favorite thought leaders in the social media arena. It is about the focus and purpose of your blog.

Chris starts by suggesting that you, “Ask yourself that question: what is the focus and the purpose of my blog? Is the purpose of your blog easy to define? What are you aiming towards accomplishing with it? How are you testing whether or not you’re reaching your desired effect?”

Next, he tells the story of his blog history and brings you up to date.Chris Brogan

“When I started my blog many years ago (it skittered across several domains before I landed in “real” blog software), it was for fiction. I wrote stories. Then, I wrote about fitness and nutrition. Then, I wrote about self-improvement. Then, I wrote about new media. I went from that into writing about social networks and social media, and then eventually, I moved into how businesses could use social media to improve.

What am I writing about these days? Human business. It’s essentially the idea that relationships and human-shaped experiences serve business much better than cold marketing and afterthought customer service.”

Human business, now that’s an idea that can catch on. At Social Energizer, our philosophy is based on this same principle. Finally, Chris helps you define what it is that you need to do.

“Your blog is a media property. It’s also a tool that allows you to build relationships (should that be of interest), to notify and inform (if you like telling the news), to reflect and react (if you like being a commentator), to report (if that’s something you enjoy doing), or a tool to educate, instruct, or establish thought leadership. It can be a call to action, a lead generator, a showcase for your talents, and many other things.

But your community (or your audience, if you’re not as close to them) is there with an expectation. They are seeking whatever it is you’ve been offering along the way. They want your best, and they want your material to enlighten, entertain, inform, inspire, or any of several other functions.”

One thing Chris doesn’t mention in his article is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Sometimes gaining better SEO can be the main purpose for writing a blog. Consistently changing content on your website will affect your search rankings with the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! And Bing. Initially, I think small business owners care more that customers find their websites, then that they are ‘engaging’ with them. It’s sort of the chicken and the egg thing.

What is the focus and purpose of your blog? If you need help defining it and applying it? Give Social Energizer a call. Our focus is on small businesses. Our purpose is to help integrate inbound marketing techniques into our clients’ current marketing plans.

10 Easy Tips for Better Blogging

Crunch time? Does it always seem like you are wondering what to write? How do you build buzz needed to pull people to your site? Here are 10 Easy Tips for Better Blogging.

Blog ideas

No doubt about it, blogging takes time and dedication. The pay-off comes when you find a good-size community that interacts with your site regularly and when you notice your website and blog are steadily gaining in the battle of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings.

Here are ten tips that can help keep copy flowing smoothly.

  1. Write an article that is easy to read and over 300 words long. Find at least 2 images that fit with your topic.
  2. Pick topics that focus on things your customers often ask or are interested in. Keep a blog calendar that shows what you’ve posted and in which categories. Use it as a quick reference to keep your blog balanced
  3. Use the scheduling tool, like this wordpress example, to automate posting at consistent days and times
    blog scheduler
  4. Use an RSS feed to bring news that you can use as material for creating your blog
  5. Going to an event? Shoot a video, interview some folks, and post on your blog
  6. Interview customers for your blog
  7. Grab some company data and turn it into an interesting story
  8. Share a lesson you’ve learned
  9. Save interesting emails and use for blog fodder
  10. Use your signature line, with your blog’s link, in forums you visit to entice people to your site
  11. Use these easy tips to keep your ideas fresh and your content flowing

Still need help with your blog? Even with these tips, do you find the whole thing overwhelming? Maybe you need help getting your site up and running. Give me a call. We have affordable plans that will fit into every Social Media budget.

(updated Dec 2014)

What is RSS and How it is Addictive

The typical definition for the initials RSS is “Really Simple Syndication”. This is simRss Feed Iconply a method of broadcasting your blog or other frequently updated content across the internet or, by subscribing, following multiple sites with one easy tool.

By supplying an RSS feed, readers of your blog can quickly and easily access your blog in an RSS reader, like Google Reader, without the need to navigate to your blog whenever they want to see a new posting. The importance of this is it makes it easy for readers who are interested in your blog to know when it is updated and read the new content without actually visiting your blog.

Refer to this Wikipedia article for a more in-depth description of RSS feeds.

How is it addictive? Right now, I’m following about 20 blogs daily. No more click, search, scan, click search scan. Just sit back, scan the headlines, and choose whichever ones strike my fancy and blog away. That is addictive stuff for bloggers and business people like me.

Do you need an RSS feed? Who would you subscribe to? Your favorite blogger, a prospective client, your competition?

First Steps to Successful Inbound Marketing

So, you’ve watched Socialnomics with Eric Qualman and now you ‘get it’.

Haven’t seen it yet? Here it is again.

Now, you’re ready to begin the first steps to successful Inbound Marketing. Because traditional marketing will never be the same. It will no longer get you ‘there’. If you want to move your business forward, then you will need to focus on what you’re doing online. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Own Your Own Website
There is nothing more important than owning your own website. It’s your basecamp. The place that all your social media efforts revolve around. The place where all your communications should originate from -and end up at.

Location, location, location!
Now more than ever location matters. Whether it’s a busy street corner or a hard to find hole in the wall, getting your spot on the map right is vital. My recommendation is first things, first. Can people find you? If you’re a restaurant, hotel or auto repair shop, then start by registering your address and details on Google Places. This will literally, put you on the map.

Google Places http://www.google.com/help/places/index.html

Get Found
Make it easy for others to find your website (you do have a website, right?) by adding it to these most popular search engines, as listed below. Yes, all of them. This will allow the search engines to find you without waiting for them to ‘crawl’ your site. Being proactive on this is a good thing.Socialnomics

Google – http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl
Bing- http://www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx
Yahoo! Local – http://listings.local.yahoo.com/
Yelp! http://www.yelp.com/business?country=US

Consider these:
__Craigslist- http://yourcity.craigslist.org/
__Here is a link where you can submit your site to MANY places:
http://www.locallytype.com/pages/submit.htm

Next steps
For all businesses, the top things that you need to do is establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and start a blog. For hospitality businesses, include TripAdvisor in that equation. Put it at the top of the list.
I’ll cover those in future articles. Stay tuned!

Where are you going? …with your Inbound Marketing efforts

attracting customersInbound Marketing refers to attracting customers to your lodging property through a variety of social media and content distribution and interacting with readers, rather than the older means of buying attention through disruptive advertising and other devices. Simply put, Inbound Marketing employs a ‘pull’ strategy, rather than the ‘push’ strategy employed by traditional marketing techniques. With the sophistication of the Internet, the opportunity for distributing content and building communities make Inbound Marketing the best chance for small businesses to get noticed in this overly messaged world. Engagement and differentiation is where small businesses have the advantage. So where are you taking your business?

What are you doing now to get found?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog and your website are all set up. You have them cross-referenced to interact with each other. They all hold a consistent brand message. You have clients that are interacting with you online. Life is good, right? Everyone should beat a path to your door, right?

Well, not exactly.

Where the problem lies for many businesses is in getting ENOUGH people to VISIT and then TAKE ACTION. That’s where you’ll need a good plan (and maybe some help). One that includes developing a content strategy, sound social media execution and personalized, genuine follow-up. How many visitors will you need each day to convert ENOUGH people into TAKING ACTION?

Feeling overwhelmed? Make no mistake there is a huge amount of effort that goes into leveraging SEO, blogging and social media to increase website traffic. Face it, now may be the time to invest some time and money into this endeavor. A certified and experienced Inbound Marketing professional can help you with a detailed analysis of your business and the competitive landscape. And help you set and achieve your online marketing goals. To get started on your detailed plan, determine your goals, and get people to TAKE ACTION, give us a call. Don’t worry, the first visit is always free.

“Goals without plans are meaningless. Plans without deadlines and measurements are wishes.” –Unknown

Note- First published Nov 2010 and republished Dec 2014