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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!

I Plus-one’d That Story, The New Verb

I’m predicting ‘plus one’ will become 2011’s new noun-to-verb crossover.  A few years ago, it was ‘I googled it’. Today, it’s +1 –as a verb. Pretty soon you’ll be hearing, “I read that and ‘plus one’d’ it.”

What is the new Google +1?

It is sort of like the Facebook ‘Like’ button, but with a few little Googly quirks. Instead of ‘Liking’ a page while you are browsing on that page, Google +1 allows you to tag it right from your browser window. It’s the old location, location, location again. Google seems to have just one-upped Facebook.Google Plus SocialEnergizer.com

Here is what a browser window looks like after you’ve joined Google+. It shows an enticing little ‘+1’ icon.

What will this mean? Will it be better?

Is your Google Plus One following you?

Besides being Google Plus’ new best friend, +1 is Google’s next step in perfecting their search algorithms. They’ve switched it up by having users direct the search engine in an interactive way. When a person is searching on a given set of search terms and chooses, say, the fifth page link instead of one on the first page, Google will ‘learn’ that someone thinks that the link on that page is more relevant. The long-term result will be that the Google search engine gets ever smarter, becoming more attuned to the person searching, and learning each individual’s nuances.

Here is a short video overview:

Plus one – your new business assistant

+1 is a cross between a bookmarking service and a search engine tuned to everything you’ve ever looked at –or ‘plus one’d’. Social media networking and closer interactions will come into play, as users find sites and information that their friends recommend. As +1 subtly permeates into everything you do and integrates with all your tools, plus one will become much more important than the “Like” button possibly ever could.

As Google fine-tunes their search engines to interconnect much like an assistant to the humanmind, you can see where they are going with that. Google has begun to dub experts in certain areas as having better search leverage or what is known as online klout. For example, a professional skater’s +1 would rank higher than a person that merely watches the sport.

And finally, Google, of course, is likely to favor Google. What does that mean? It’s an attempt by Google of essentially bringing SEO in-house. Instead of letting webmasters and SEO professionals stuff their sites with Google-friendly terms Google will now have a closer, more direct relationship with each searcher. This may effectively cut SEO professionals out and become far less important to rankings. It’s been reported, that +1 ranked sites are receiving remarkably better SEO rankings. This, in turn, has caused a stir of adaptation in the online business world.

Has this article been helpful? Let me know in the comment section below, or better yet. Plus one my post below!

Just can’t get enough? Here are a few more links:

Google Plus One – How will it impact SEO? – Affilorama discusses some of the reasons SEO strategies are changing.

How To Get A Google+ Vanity Url – Google+ profiles come with lengthy, numeric urls. Using this tool makes it possible to create a shortcut.

50 Random Thoughts On Google+ — Chris Brogan writes up 50 random thoughts on the new social platform.

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!

If Facebook Existed… A Mashup

Family and friends send some of the best material for the Saturday Morning’s Post to me. My niece, Heidi, in an email, initially sent this one. That’s how social media works, right? People you know, talking about things you find interesting –and then sharing it. I also find it interesting how many ways great Internet content is disseminated email, Facebook, You Tube. It’s countless!

To get started on this post, I wanted to make sure I was crediting the right source; I googled it. Here is what I found.

Google Search for If Facebook Existed years ago

After a bit of research, I discovered that the original author isn’t even listed in this search –wow. The original author of the first three works of creative-writing art is Coolmaterial.com, check out their website (after you read this post). And the WWII author appears to be Matthew Leeb of Collegehumor.com. And happily, the blogger with the best SEO on this topic is Vinnie V who credits his sources carefully.

BUT I also found that this very popular initial posting caused a wave of similar posts. Some are better than others, but here I have done a mashup of sorts and put all of the posts that I could find together. I think you could go on for days with similar “what if they said this back in the day” ideas. Could it possibly be a future creative-oriented game? Fun.

The Original

If Facebook existed yeara ago

Source: CoolMaterial.com

Then there was Part Two.

Cool Material -if facebook existed years ago -part 2

Source: CoolMaterial.com

Then, what if God were on Facebook?

What if God were on Facebook?

Source: CoolMaterial.com

What if these Countries were on Facebook during WWII?

OMG- WWII on Facebook Source: CollegeHumor.com

And finally, there is even a Facebook Page dedicated to this line of thought. Check it out on Facebook, of course. As you can see, once again, the wealth of the web runs deep. What did we ever do without it?

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 Dark Side Of The Cloud

I am often asked what cloud computing is. Most people know the buzzwords: working in the cloud, move to the cloud, life in the cloud, etc. Technically speaking, Wikipedia says cloud-computing means using multiple server computers via a digital network, as though they were one computer. Cloud computing, like regular computing, can be broken up into three layers: infrastructure, platform and application. Each layer has it’s own issues in cloud computing. For the most part this blog discussion is about the application side of cloud computing –consumer and business applications, but the principles pertain to the other layers, too.Cloud application relationships

In plain terms, you can tell that you are dealing with cloud computing when you have access to applications and data from a network device (smartphones, iPods, laptops, etc.). Cloud computing differs from the classic client-server model by providing applications that are executed and managed via a web browser, without an installed software program required. Google docs and Facebook are examples of cloud apps that get used everyday worldwide without anyone giving it a second thought.

Still don’t get it? Here’s a great simple video explanation.

There is a Saleforce.com video that says their cloud computing solution does away with businesses needing to purchase and implement their own databases, office space, servers and business apps. They don’t have to hire the staff to support the infrastructure. They claim that businesses will experience lower costs, more scalability and offer better security. Indeed cloud computing is a great concept, similar in nature to the Internet itself, just more capitalized. It’s all about consumer power and the benefits of using shared resources and technology.

There is no doubt that cloud computing is the wave of the future. Stopping the growth of cloud computing would be like stopping Internet expansion. Cloud computing can provide some very solid benefits like: lower costs, increased reach, collaboration, easy and stable software updates, no capital expenses, and working remotely. But there is a dark lining to many cloud apps and I’ve found a few things people should be watching for when deciding which ones to choose. Here’s my list of things to consider.

1. Assess the software or service carefully and have ‘an exit plan’

I started a couple of years ago with a new free cloud-based service called iCyte. It’s a bookmarking site that allows you to annotate and organize your web searches. After about a year and a half into using this software, they started charging a monthly fee. I decided not to pay the fee, but found the best I could do to export my vast collection of data was to export it to a very messy .csv file (aka spreadsheet). Lesson learned. I don’t give up info, pictures, and/or even clicks until I find out if I can get that info OUT in a usable manner. Test it early.

2. Does it fit the scope of your business?

When I ‘tested’ Salesforce.com within a small business, I found that although it may have been a good solution for a medium-sized business that had database-knowledgeable staff ready to customize these apps, it was not as easy as they portrayed. Most small businesses would not have the know-how or man-hours needed to get Salesforce.com or many other cloud apps to work easily for them.

3. Sales guys never think about security

Although the sales guys may tell you that cloud computing is safer, the proof is in the news recently. From Citigroup to Sony, this article explains how, in fact, there is cause for great alarm and  describes the vulnerability of cloud computing.

4. How supporting is your support personnel?

Do they even have support personnel? Can you get a  REAL PERSON on the phone to help? One of the first things that I check before choosing a cloud computing vendor is who will be the support team and if it offers live support. Since I speak only American, then they need to, too. Simple as that. If they do not speak American English, as in the same syntax, slang, etc. then I know when I get frustrated with an issue that I will not be able to get my point across. I’ve tried and tried it and now it is simply –my choice.

5. Beware the ‘free trial’

After the ‘free trial’ is done, businesses that ‘tested it out’ find difficulty in recovering the info and getting it back in house. If it’s a one month or 3-month trial, BEWARE. The longer you use a trial, that you decide later is not worth it, the more time and data you have added to someone else’s software. I suggest, in the event of the trial not working out, that you first assess (see point #1) how you will export the info out of their site and back into your system OR run dual processes (work in both places) while you test their system.

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!

Free -and Legal- Images for Your Blog

Creative Commons Attribution Levels

from http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

For basic tips on using images online, please see our blog, Image Basics for Bloggers, from last week.

What is Creative Commons?

In the past, buying photography was expensive and complicated. Royalties needed to be paid and photos were limited to many restrictions on how they could be used. Then along came Creative Commons in 2001, and everything changed. This non-profit corporation started with a cooperative effort between MIT and Harvard Law professors (among others) who realized that the digital revolution altered many past concepts on copyright theory. The ability to work collaboratively, globally, decentralized and create derivative works and collections that were low to no cost were all issues that were eased with the creation of Creative Commons licensing. Click on the following link for more information on Creative Commons licensing.

How do I use a Creative Commons image?

Things are much easier today in the world of social media and inbound marketing. How do you know if it’s legal and IF you’re placing it correctly?

  • Be sure the image you choose and the way you are using it, applies under the Creative Commons license category shown to the right.
  • Credit the photographer (a.k.a. attribution)
    • If saving the photo, add the contributors’ name into the file name of the image (when downloading or taking a screen shot).  example: pen_ParkerDuofoldNib_JanosFeher_Flickr.jpg
    • If using a link, HTML or BBCode, review the code to be sure the contributor’s name is included.
  • Link back to them when you can.

How do I find Creative Commons images?

Google Creative Commons

From Google Image interface

What do you need to do to add photos into your blog or website with little to no cost, legally? Here are a few suggestions.

Google Images offers an “Advanced Image Search” (found just to the right of the standard Google Image search button) that allows you to use images “labeled for commercial use” only. Just click on the blue link and a window similar to this Google image  appears. In a search for ‘pens’ you enter the word in the top field and make sure the “labeled for commercial use” is chosen in the field second from the bottom. Membership is not required. Attribution is required.

Flickr image options

from Flickr

Flickr has a nice interface for Creative Commons. You choose the level that works for you depending on if you blog to earn money or just for fun. To use an image in Flickr, you click on the bar above the image, as shown in this Flickr image, and grab the Link or HTML/BBCode. The problem with this is that the image is not physically loaded into your site, it’s called ‘hot-linked’ and means it is ‘linked’ to your site through the Internet and does not sit on your directly-accessible servers. Test it to see if your page takes too long to load. Membership is required. Attribution is required.

New, Wylio.com for Creative Commons Images

With all that said, THIS ONE GETS MY VOTE… Wylio.com!

Wylio.com

Wylio.com search for pens

Wylio is a slick, new image search engine that only searches for images offered under the Creative Common’s license. Users can be sure that all images offered are free for use. It’s a simple 3-step process: Search for an image, Resize and Position, and Copy and Paste the Code. Bloggers can easily grab the code to place in their blog posts, or for the low cost of $2.99 per month they can buy the premium version of Wylio.com and download the files.

Here’s the best part. Wylio inserts the photographer’s attribution into the code for you, no asking for permission, no wondering if you’re ‘covered’. Grab it and you’re done! With that said, I am testing this ‘hot-linking method’ today for download speeds and performance. Let me know, in the comments section below, if the pen image gives you any trouble. It is a ‘live’ test from Wylio.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter. How do you use images? Have you worried about your images?
Ballpoint Pensphoto © 2009 Jana Lehmann | more info (via: Wylio)

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Still need some help? Give us a call!


Online FREE, the new Tchochtke

Dog vs Man Danceoff

To view video, click on link below

Henry Ford once said, “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” In today’s inbound marketing terms, this could be the new Holy Grail. Business owners successful at providing the right balance of online FREE content and services are most likely to entice and solidify their customers. This strategy is called a pull strategy and means you are pulling customers, not pushing them to buy your product or service.

Yes, I said FREE content and services. Free, as in no cost. Zip, Zilch, Nada, No dinaro. You all know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Here’s my short list:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linked In
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • YouTube
  • WordPress.com
  • Yelp
  • Webinars
  • e-books
  • surveys
  • data charts
  • content (blogs)
  • Farmville
  • Mafia Wars

You get the idea. In 2011 terms, they’re the new tchotchke.

We spend countless hours online; checking this, reading that, playing those favorite free games and watching dog-vs-man-danceoff.htm.

It’s easy to understand why WE do this, but why are THEY, a.k.a. businesses, doing it? Why is this happening? Why would businesses give it all away for free?

It’s all in the Pull Strategy

As businesses move from Old School marketing methods like advertising to Inbound Marketing there is a change from push to pull. Instead of pushing a message, social media can pull customers to your business. The heart of this new successful strategy focuses on understanding the behaviors of today’s consumer. The online world is being developed as a “warm and fuzzy” place where businesses offer free advice, content, services, and games; and come together in a sense of community. It is where people go first for consumer information, and increasingly where they make a purchase, and begin to advocate for a product, service, business, or brand they like.

This pull strategy proves to be much more effective than the traditional push approach. Why? Because who doesn’t like free stuff?

How about you? You can continue to receive this blog FREE by clicking on ‘By Email’ in the top right corner of this page and subscribing to the Social Energizer blog. Feedburner will have you decode a scrambled word and then click on a link they send to your email. That’s all there is to it.

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!

Facebook updates for your profile and for your business

Facebook Profiles update

Facebook is implementing some changes that affect your personal profiles again. In the past, they have taken some criticism that their abrupt improvements were questionable. This time around, it seems Facebook has learned and improved on how they go about the update. They’ve added a wizard that helps and walks you through the process. In a nutshell, the changes to Facebook for personal profiles are:

  • A background summary that includes employers, education and location info.
  • New photo montage of 5 of your favorite photos just below your info summary
  • New navigation tabs in the left column
  • More details for your work experience and educational background
  • More info for your interests like music, books, and art
  • Group capabilities for your friends and more detail of your relationships

Changes for Facebook Business

Your Facebook Business Page has added a new feature also. In the last week, they added the ability to upload your contacts list from Outlook, gmail, Linked In, etc. After you have uploaded your contacts, you can invite them to ‘Like” your page.

To do this go to your page> Edit Page> Marketing> Tell your Fans>Upload a Contact File.

If you are using Facebook as a principle means of attracting clients, this can be very worthwhile.