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Howard Schultz’ Conversation With America -An Update

Social Energizer’s blogging goal is to bring attention to trends and issues that matter to small and medium-sized business owners. Although our intent is to be non-political, matters of national interest affect small and medium-sized businesses far more often than we’d like. That is why last month, in The Coffee Party Anyone? Howard Schultz of Starbucks”, we covered the story of CEO Howard Schultz of Starbucks asking fellow business owners not to contribute to national political campaigns “until a ‘fair bi-partisan long-term fiscal plan’ is created and in place.”Congressional Funding Fall 2011

Guess what? Today, I’m happy to report, it seems to be working! Last night, CBS Anchor, Scott Pelley reported, “In the third quarter of 2007, congressional reelection campaigns took in $201 million in contributions. Our Washington bureau crunched the numbers for the third quarter of this year and it`s just $69 million.”

Their report did not link the possibility that perhaps, Mr. Schultz’ combined efforts with No Labels, a non-political reform-oriented organization, is indeed having an affect on national politics. To be fair, there is a lot of similar sentiment in America today, but I think these numbers clearly show that the efforts of Mr. Schultz and his movement have had a measureable impact.

As I write this article today though, I am concerned. There does not appear to be significant recent online postings or much news coverage since the ‘town hall’ meeting in mid-September that started a conversation on partisanship, the national debt and the economy. Please, as so often happens in America, we cannot stop our efforts until we have accomplished what we have set out to do. Undoubtedly, there are more businesses to align with, more events that can bring impactful awareness.

Yes, Mr. Schultz, I believe it is working! You have created a powerful movement and started to move the needle. But, the movement has not yet accomplished its goal. We almost have it, let’s keep it going. Now is the time to get out and beat the drum even more loudly.

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!

TedTalks. Better Than Redbox

TedTalks webpage

Choose a cool TedTalk this way…

I feature Ted.com online video podcasts quite often on Saturday Morning’s Post. As a social media coach, these talks often provide me with new insights into trends and differing viewpoints on countless topics. As they say, TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Ted.com started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. I think TedTalks simply feed your mind.

Since June 2006, TEDTalks have been made available online on the TED website, YouTube, and iTunes. As the list grows ever-larger, deciding which video to watch becomes a bit tougher. It’s kind of like standing in front of the Red Box choosing your movie of the night. Pick, just pick one!

900+ Ted Talks in Spreadsheet

OR just find a TedTalk this way

Now, TedTalks has put together a handy little Google shared spreadsheet with all of the 900+ TedTalks making it easy to find just the right video. Check it out! What’s your flavor? Remember they’re great for sharing!

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!

Right-Sizing Innovation for the Small Business Owner

Increasingly our world favors BIG. BIG Companies. BIG Stars. The next BIG thing. Big business seems to favor other BIG businesses, like during Christmas when ABC’s GMA seemingly supported only the online BIG Box stores, leaving small online entrepreneurs in the dust as reported in our December 8th blog, “Scrooge Strikes e-Commerce Small Business.”Big and small

What is the key to small businesses getting ahead? Many believe it is innovation. But it’s not that simple. Innovation tailored to the unique position and qualities of a small business propel it forward. Small business owners have certain advantages over their BIG business counterparts. They spend up to 80-90% of their days working directly with their customers, discovering their needs, solving their problems, finding the things that make them truly happy, and things, that no matter what, leave suppliers or service providers coming up short.

These insights from first-hand knowledge are the competitive edge of a small business.  BIG business might have the resources to implement innovation, but often they are so far removed from this fundamental information that they are not able to “see the forest for the trees”

In the article, “Think Small Innovations to Get Big” the author, Darrell Zahorsky describes the advantages of smaller incremental innovations found in the food industry. Small businesses that actively applied small innovations had better performance and competitive advantages over its two competing larger corporations.

How should your small business innovate? Perhaps they are things you already do. In a connected blog, Mr Zahorsky went on to list the “7 Principles of Small Innovations.” They are good tips all small business owners can benefit from.

In summary they are:

Free Time: Work smarter, not harder. Use new technology and outsource to work efficiently.

Collect Ideas: Carry around a small notebook to capture ideas throughout the day.

Look Outside: Look to other resources to succeed.

Be Customer Centric: If the innovation makes you feel uncomfortable but delights the customer, you are probably on the right track. Oh, and always consider your customer’s customer.

Use All Types of Innovation: Be alert for ALL innovation. Sometimes innovation occurs unexpectedly.

Ask The Right Questions: When talking with customers, ask about the experience, instead of the product or service.

Make a Daily Habit: Innovation can occur at any time and any place. Embracing daily innovation tactics into your lifestyle instead of as a main event will allow you to implement your best ideas.

Many of today’s leaders say the Small Business sector is likely to lead America to its next step in economic recovery. Learning the art of innovation within small businesses provides owners another competitive advantage needed to compete against all things ‘BIG’.

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.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you.

Top Three Trends Likely to Upset Your Social Media World

Start OverWhat’s going on?! Lately, it seems like the whole world is in a state of flux. First, countries like Eqypt and Libya are deciding to start over -or die trying. Then Wisconsin decides to do much the same thing… start over -or die trying. With this much upheaval in the world, it leads one to reflect on what’s happening and attempt to look into the future.

I can’t do much about these events, but they made me consider what will most likely impact the world ‘you and I’ live in, a world that increasingly depends on, and is driven by, the Internet, social media, and new media. What trends will arise, perhaps even merge, and continue to change and then further impact our lives?

Trend One

The first trend isn’t much of a departure from my lede. It’s the speed that news is bombarding us. Our ability to grasp and understand it before it has again evolved into a new story is creating an information-overloaded society. NPR recently published an insightful article on this topic called “Media Black Hole: So Much News That We’ll Implode?

Trend Two

Just as we’ve started to understand our communities, I find that they’ve moved and changed! Chris Brogan presents a nice update on how social media communities are evolving, and why, in “The Future of Community“.

Trend Three

Over half of all Americans will have smart phones by the end of 2011. Do you think this might impact marketing in America, just a little bit? Seriously, if there is so much news that we might implode, don’t you suppose that the same could be said of technology trends? Our marketing systems that just recently aligned to embrace Internet technologies must now evolve and align with mobile technology. Lucky for us, the B2C Marketing Insider has some tips in their article “Data-Driven Marketing: Mobile by the Numbers“.

Undoubtedly, right this minute, there is another new technology or trend on its way. What do you think will be the next mainstream trend? And how will we dodge, embrace or benefit from it?

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.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you.

Behold the future

Handheld phoneWatch “A Day Made of Glass” and take a look at Corning’s vision for the future with specialty glass at the heart of it. It’s difficult to wrap your mind around all this new technology. It feels like you blink and suddenly there appear new devices that you would have never dreamed of before.

How will this change our lives next? What do you think?

Kids pics

20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade

I came across an interesting article on The Huffington Post today. They note that, “Since 2000, we’ve gained iPods and iPads, Travelocity and Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, BlackBerry smartphones and Android devices, Xboxes and Wiis, among many other new services, sites, and electronics. We’re now poking, tweeting, Googling, and Skyping.”technology

Just as new things become popular and mainstream, some things eventually fade as society and technology changes. Here are 20 things that are now considered obsolete. See the full story for their explanation and to vote for your favorite ‘obsolete’ item.

  • VCRs And VHS Tapes
  • Travel Agents
  • The Separation Between Work Life And Personal Life
  • Forgetting
  • Bookstores
  • Watches
  • Phone Sex Via 1-900 Numbers
  • Maps
  • Calling
  • Classifieds In Newspapers
  • Dial-Up Internet
  • Encyclopedias
  • CDs
  • Landline Phones
  • Film (And Film Cameras)
  • Yellow Pages And Address Books
  • Catalogs
  • Fax Machines
  • Wires
  • Hand-Written Letters

I can think of a few more like: newspapers, phone books and non-computerized car keys that cost less than $5 each. Can you think of a few? Do you agree with the list above? How is social media pushing these changes to happen more quickly?

RFID enables new Pickpockets for 2011 and beyond

During this busy holiday season I came across this story that may be one of the most intriguing underreported stories of 2010. The reason I feel it’s important to mention is the potential threat it poses to your identity in the coming years. This story from WREG in Memphis, TN. tells how the new RFID (Radio Frequency Indentification)chips embedded in new passports, credit and debit cards are susceptible to identity theft. Armed with a $100 credit card reader and a notebook computer, thieves can simply walk past you in the mall or along the street and swipe your information. Although, police departments are not yet finding actual cases of these crimes, experts feel that they may be underreported and untraceable to where the actual ‘theft’ occurred.

Watch the video here:

http://www.wreg.com/news/wreg-electronic-pickpocketing-story,0,6564458.story

My problem with this story is that a company that sells the special sleeve or wallet presents the ‘expert’ advice. That seems to be the problem voiced by WREG news’ viewers as well. These RFID ‘shields’, starting at about $20 each, seem a bit expensive for what seems to be a pretty simple, unappealing case to keep your credit cards or passport in.

I started looking into it a bit and was happy to find that these can be made at home by one of everyone’s all time favorite materials -duct tape! The other secret ‘key’ ingredient? Aluminum foil! That’s right, why buy an expensive sleeve when you can make one for about a dollar with stuff you have around the house. Here are the instructions on how to make them at home with the patterns. I think with a little ingenuity you may even be able to make a more appealing wallet for what, maybe two dollars? Just for fun, pick out your favorite colored duct tape, make a wallet that a science fiction fanatic would be proud of and keep your personal info where it belongs –safe from identity thieves!

YouTube Rewind 2010 – The Top 10 List in Links

Here’s the top watched YouTube video mashup from this year. There is no doubt about the power of video in social media… and it’s fun, too.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFnXm6cjGwU&w=640&h=390]

Could your video go viral?

Viral videos are what many business people dream of when beginning their Inbound Marketing strategy, sometimes with unrealistic expectations. Ensuring that a video of yours goes viral is impossible, but understanding their makeup, allows you to set it up for the possibility. By their nature, viral videos follow the pattern of a rapid increase of views, a couple of days with a very high number of views, and then a gentle decrease that can generate many daily views for a long period of time. Not surprisingly, the comments on these videos run pretty much the same pattern, engaging people at very high levels.

In case, you missed any of these during the year, pick a link to follow the full version now. My favorite is “This Too Shall Pass OK Go”. I love Rube Goldberg machines even more than the Old Spice guy.

Top 10  (in order, by most watched)

#1: Bed Intruder Song – http://bit.ly/hM9GKI
#2: Tik Tok Kesha Parody – http://bit.ly/gGkGDE
#3: Greyson Chance ‘Paparazzi’ – http://bit.ly/gDDvut
#4: Annoying Orange Wazzup – http://bit.ly/hBT1cm
#5: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (Old Spice)- http://bit.ly/dDXy35
#6: Giant Double Rainbow – http://bit.ly/hpKOQo
#7: This Too Shall Pass OK Go – http://bit.ly/gdMRgr
#8: The Twilight Saga Eclipse Trailer – http://bit.ly/fEq0iG
#9: Jimmy Surprises Bieber Fan – http://bit.ly/i4QqGH
#10: Gymkhana Three, Part 2 – http://bit.ly/gnBZws

Top 10  (in order, by appearance in the mashup)

• The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (Old Spice)- http://bit.ly/dDXy35
• Giant Double Rainbow – http://bit.ly/hpKOQ
• The Twilight Saga Eclipse Trailer – http://bit.ly/fEq0iG
• Jimmy Surprises Bieber Fan – http://bit.ly/i4QqGH
• Gymkhana Three, Part 2 – http://bit.ly/gnBZws
• Annoying Orange Wazzup – http://bit.ly/hBT1cm
• Bed Intruder Song – http://bit.ly/hM9GKI
• Tik Tok Kesha Parody – http://bit.ly/gGkGDE
• Greyson Chance ‘Paparazzi’ – http://bit.ly/gDDvut
• This Too Shall Pass OK Go – http://bit.ly/gdMRgr

Do videos fit into your marketing mix? Give me a call to find out if they could.