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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!

Salute to Packer Face by Lady Gaga

You all know that I’m a great Packer fan. My friend, Judy, sent this to me and I couldn’t help posting it. EVERYONE THAT IS A WISCONSIN PACKER FAN! THIS IS FOR YOU!
GO PACK GO!

BTW- be back soon -on assignment.
-Lynn

Tips for Planning a Vacation via Trip Advisor

Travel sites like Trip Advisor, have become one of the most essential social networking and travel planning sites for travelers and for businesses in travel, leisure, and restaurant industries. Monitoring and participating to keep Trip Advisor reputations as favorable as possible may be the most vital online function any travel and leisure-based business can practice. Smart businesses tap into what their customers are telling them to improve their product and neutralize negative experiences. Stay Tuned! In a future blog, I’ll review how businesses can use Trip Advisor to make their business soar, but let’s start today with simply planning a trip.

For me, even the trip planning is one of the most fun parts of a vacation. Researching and learning of places you will visit builds anticipation and can stretch that vacation from a one-week stint to a months long, live-your-dreams extravaganza! Or for many, it can just be a pain–in-the-ass task that you want to finish as quickly as possible. Either way, sites like Trip Advisor can help. Their social networking aspect and traveler reviews are well known and have quickly become the ‘go to’ sites for direction on deciding among travel choices.

Started in 2000, TripAdvisor.com is now the most popular travel advisory website and is used by millions of travelers around the world. It has given consumers a voice, and potential guests an educated choice when making decisions on where to go, stay, eat and what to do once they arrive.  This method of travel planning is so much better than methods used in the past of choosing based only on online face value and promotional pushes from the destinations and properties. This new transparency has simply changed the way the travel and leisure industry works.

Looking closely at Trip Advisor, the potential vacationer can scan countless areas of the world or zoom in to very specific and often, virtually unknown spots. It has become a vital resource for those wanting to ‘travel off of the beaten path’.

The real power of TripAdvisor.com comes with the great tools available upon joining the site. Joining is free, although you’ll need to part with your personal info.

Don’t even know a destination that you want to visit? Start out with ‘Travel Inspiration’. Find it under the ‘More’ section of the main page menu, then the drop-down selection of ‘Trip Ideas’. Here you’ll find a smart search engine that allows you to narrow your search to what you like. Well, theoretically anyway. First, select the type of vacation that suits you and your traveling companions. Then pick a general destination you’d like to visit. I tested this to see if it would find a destination that I know very well, Tulum, Mexico. I entered ‘Beaches & Sun’, then ‘Mexico, Central & South America’. Guess what? It didn’t even bring Tulum up as a top five choice, which it should have. I found that very disappointing, as Tulum beaches were just rated by Trip Advisor last spring as one of The Top 5 Beaches of the World! That aside, most people will find this a valuable travel planning tool.

Getting Started

Still don’t know where you want to go? Check out the other headings under the ‘More’ section, particularly the forum and the guides. You can get broad information from the guides and then go to the forum for first hand knowledge and answers to specific questions.Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico

After you’ve picked out a city or area to visit, you will see a new menu drop-down, second from the left, specifically about your destinatin choice. It is also located in the left-hand column in a slightly different format.

Hotels, Flights and Restaurants -Time to explore, shop and plan.

Hotels

With Trip Advisor’s search tools you will be able to locate hotels by time, date, amenities and other criteria based on traveler experience.

Read the guest reviews. This is the real ‘meat and potatoes’ of Trip Advisor. Select any hotel and read randomly through the reviews. My favorite method is to pick some top-rated and some of the lower-rated reviews. The key with reading the lower-rated reviews is to see if the factors that created poor reviews resonate with you and your travel needs. Is it someone that is complaining needlessly? Is it out of line with common expectiations? Is it someone exercising a grudge? As you read through lower-rated reviews, it usually becomes apparent if they are legitimate or not. The same can be said of the ‘glowing’ reviews. Do they really appear to be written by a guest? Or maybe the owner is behind the overly generous review? Things like that do happen, even though Trip Advisor tries to vet each review.

Flights

Search tools for flights can help you compare prices on different travel booking sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline. You don’t book on Trip Advisor you will link to these other sites for the actual booking. My favorite feature in Trip Advisor for flights is the Trip Alert feature that you can set up that sends you an email when fares dip between airports you specify.

Restaurants

The reviews for restaurants are a foodie’s dream. Watch what local establishment is trending in an area. Choose among the countless ethnic choices, by location or by rating. If that’s not enough you can also pick by price, options and based on their strength of obscure things like ‘good place to do business’ or ‘outdoor seating’. The google map let’s you see exactly where the restaurant is and pops up details as you hover over the map icon.

Trip Advisor badges

Earn a Badge

Similar to becoming a ‘mayor’ on Foursquare, Trip Advisor contributors earn badges for their reviews. Your badge level is determined based on the number of reviews you have, plus the rating your review receives by readers. Looking for badges is also a way of determinng the amateur travel advisors’ experience.

As you can see, Trip Advisor is a must have for travelers. Check out their mobile apps and ‘save a trip’ so that you can access this information, as you need it, while traveling. After all, finding your way around smoothly helps you live that dream well.

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!

A Tour- The Backend of the Internet

SwitchboardPlaced in non-descript buildings, evolved from early communication companies- these are the physical things that make up the Internet. Here is a fascinating look at the backend of the Internet.
 

This video by Ben Mendelsohn, a documentary filmaker, starts out in New York and expands across the globe to take you on a tour that shows you what makes up the Internet.
 

After watching this video mystic words like “cyber-space” will lose some of their mystique and concepts that seemed awesome, will now be almost ordinary. Enjoy!
 
Infrastructure

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!

Be Smart with Smartphones

So much of being safe in life is about just being smart and using common sense. While traveling would you leave your purse sitting openly in the front seat of a locked car? Would you venture out in an area that you don’t know after midnight?

These same rules apply with new technologies like smartphones. Several of the major networks have been running stories on privacy issues resulting from new GPS ‘smart’ technology known as ‘geotagging’. Geotagging is the type of technology that smartphones use to track people’s locations. It is the technology that sites like Foursquare use as people ‘check-in’ to restaurants and businesses. Taking advantage of this technology also requires a new level of learning for people about their devices. Be responsible, take the time to learn what your technology is actually doing and what it all requires to be safe.

Here’s a short video from NBC Action News on the downside of uploading pictures.

Don’t Panic!

Although it makes for a good story on network news, there really is no reason to panic. I attempted to find the GPS coordinates on several of my pictures. I found that it is not so easy. Now, I know that preditors and nutcases will sometimes go to any means, but I’m not convinced that even though, it’s possible, that there is a very high likelihood.

Use Safe Sites

That said, Facebook and Twitter have started stripping the metadata automatically from uploaded pictures, so there is some level of safety there. Be sure your privacy settings are set correctly.

Turn Off the Setting!

The easiest way to stop posting your location is to set your phone so your camera doesn’t log your location. It’s usually done by going to Settings> General > Location Services. Phones vary so if you can’t find it check out your user guide or check with your smartphone store. Some phones allow you to turn off just the geotagging on your photos and some may require you to turn off you geotagging altogether.

For more information about setting your phone correctly, check out I Can Stalk You’s information on protecting your information.

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!

Do Accountants Really Save You Time and Money?

Can you really save your company money with an accountant? Quite simply the answer is yes, if you take the time to find the accountant that best suits your company’s needs. When you find the best accountant for your business you will be saving your company not only money but also time.

Finances

photo credit: alancleaver_2000

The ideal accountant for your firm should be familiar with all of the in and outs of the financial side of your business. It is an accountant’s job to be an expert on tax legislation and to be able to successfully pinpoint areas of potential revenue and loss for your company.

A successful accountant will take the time to evaluate both the financial weaknesses and strengths of your company. This individual will highlight any potential areas for tax savings and help you navigate through the mountain of invoices. The best accountants will let you know what invoices to keep, what to discard and what to question.

Customer satisfaction should be the main objective for a successful accountant. These individuals will strive to save your company both time and money. This is why it is critical to find an accountant that is familiar with the unique attributes of your business. The best accountant for your business should be comfortable with discussing tax savings and reviewing your company’s overall financial plan. A good accountant should encourage you to reflect on how your company is both spending and investing their money. This individual will highlight areas where they believe your company can increase its overall revenue and help forecast and ideally prevent areas of potential losses.

When you find that perfect accountant, you will want to work with them not only during tax season but year round. These individuals will strive to build a relationship with your company by maintaining consistent communication and providing financial recommendations. The best accountant for your company will save you time and money. These individuals will take the time to learn the unique qualities of your business, strive to build a positive relationship, and encourage you to reflect on the company’s short and long term financial goals.

Good Accountants offers accounting services for small or large businesses. For more information about how to find a good accountant, visit http://www.goodaccountants.com.

This article is a guest blog from ArticleSqueeze -Author: Dominic Lin | Posted in Auditing

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!

Top 3 for Halloween

I love Halloween, it seems to be a holiday many countries celebrate, and overall, can agree on. Here are few of Halloween’s other names -wordwide:
Halloween Cookies 2011

  • Latin America – Day of the Dead
  • Scotland – All-Hallows-Even
  • Phillippines – Todos Los Satos
  • Japan – Obon Festival (aka Matsuri or Urabon)
  • China – Teng Chieh
  • Hong Kong  – Yue Lan (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts)
  • Korea – Chuseok or Hangawi (in August)
  • Nepali – Gai Jatra (aka. Cow Pilgrimage –as cows lead the spirits of the dead into the next land)
  • Sweden – Alla Helgons Dag
  • Even though it may be named something different in many countries, this fall festival is usually linked with the Roman Catholic heritage with All Saints Day and All Souls Day. It is believed that several indigenous cultures as far reaching as the Aztecs to the Pagans have observed similar festivities around the same time each year. Although in most cultures this holiday focuses on honoring the dead and celebrating the cycle of life and death, in much of the United States it has simply become a lighthearted celebration of our ghoulish side.

    Pick One-

    So today, I’d like to share what really scares me. Even scarier than a dressed-up ghoul or worse, a clown, is –wait for it— reality! Check out these 23 Creepy Robots, a collection put together by the Huffington Post. Some of these robots are being used in medical situations and in reality represent a break-through in medical technology. But I don’t think I’ll be alone in saying “these things creep me out!”

    In the same collection, be sure to check out the singing Reindeer ‘Rudi and Judi”. Not creepy, but cute.

    Pick Two-

    Top pick under the Entertainment category is still the Halloween Light Show featuring Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

    Pick Three-

    Time to find a costume. For this one let’s start with the makeup. After you get this on your face, you could wear almost anything to go with it.

    These are my top picks. What are yours?

    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!

    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!

    Angry Birds Take Over Halloween

    The Angry Bird phenomenon isn’t over. Mobile, iPod and other hand-held device owners have made Angry Birds the hottest game of 2011. Apparently, being the most popular Halloween costume of the year isn’t enough to satisfy Angry Birds. Angry Birds Halloween Costumes

    Move over Charlie Brown, here is Angry Birds’ Ham’o’ween. Just in time for Halloween, they have put together a short video announcing the newest update for Angry Birds Seasons and also introducing the newest Angry Bird. This Angry Bird might be small but it packs a big punch! Pursue the pigs through 30 levels filled with pumpkin patches, exploding jack-o-lanterns, and creepy skeletons, lit by a full moon and eerie lantern light. Complete all the levels to find some special Halloween surprises!

    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!