vendredi 31 janvier 2014

Expressing your Heart-iest Emotions Through Flowers on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. It is the time when you feel like sending gifts to your dear ones so that they could know how special they are in your life.

Now, comes the best gift through which you can express your feelings. Well, the best gift of love on Valentine’s Day is flowers. Flowers have been known as the biggest and powerful love tellers. You can express different emotions with different flowers as every color holds a different meaning.

There is a wide range of flowers that indicate different feelings and emotions. From roses that indicate love, to yellow flowers which indicate friendship, white lilies that denote peace, purple carnations that signify sorrow and more. You can pick up any flower. However, on the grand occasion like a Valentine’s Day, you must only give importance to flowers that denote love and friendship.

Owing to the huge demand for flowers and advent of technology, various flower apps have been devised for smartphone users. The range of flower apps basically allows you to explore the latest collection of flower bouquets alongwith gifts and send across to your loved ones.

Some of the popular flower apps such as Fleurop are especially designed to make the shopping experience of flowers for users extremely fascinating. This app can aid you choose your favorite flower bouquets which you can order online and get them delivered right at the doorstep of people you love.

Not only this, if you have planned for a romantic evening with your soul mate then you can easily install a flower app that can offer you a splendid collection of flowers. Then you can pick up the flower bouquets which you can further use to decorate your date venue. There is no better way you can make your Valentine Day special.

When you want to say, “I Love You” without a precious gift then only an affordable bouquet of roses can do wonders in your relationship. You can write your feelings and express them in the most romantic way. Flowers are the way to your dear one’s heart so do not forget their benefit and go ahead.

If you are carrying a smartphone, make the best use of flowers apps available especially for you.


Expressing your Heart iest Emotions Through Flowers on Valentine’s Day image Choose Flowers for Different Emotions

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3 Topics With These 4 Tips = Winning At Social Media During The Super Bowl

3 Topics With These 4 Tips = Winning At Social Media During The Super Bowl image social media apps photo courtesy of jason a howie above promotions company tampa fl

Social Media Apps for Super Bowl Sunday. Photo Courtesy of Jason A Howie. Above Promotions Company Tampa FL 2014.

Millions of people tune into the NFL’s Super Bowl every year. If you’re not having a party, then perhaps last week’s tips of 4 Ways to Take Your Super Bowl Party Digital may not help you for this weekend. However, this week’s tips will give you three topics to help you increase engagement and win at gaining new followers before, during or after the big game.

These three topics are:

  1. Food. Some people leave the home just for game day food they don’t normally partake in the rest of the year. So find a way to engage your fans in food commentary. If you’re in fashion, you can discuss which foods to avoid if you’re wearing light colors. If you’re an artist, you can talk about which foods look good to eat. There are many food angles all types of businesses can take advantage of on Super Bowl Sunday.

  2. The actual game. This one may be tough for those who are not football aficionados, but let’s just give thanks now for the sports broadcasters who do know what they are talking about. Now we don’t recommend you attempting to tackle big plays being reviewed, but the basics of some record being broken or how the weather affects the players, can easily be discussed.

  3. Commercials. Advertisements are just as big these days as the actual game. Bring up business’ ads that complement your services or products that air. If you’re an insurance agent, tie your posts to those ads. If you’re a music artist, discuss how catchy you find a jingle or your opinions on the half-time show.

There are so many ways you can get involved, but be careful of a few things:

  1. The speed in which you plan to keep up with replies to your posts. If you want to enjoy the game like the rest of the world, we recommend choosing to post before or after the event. Social media during events like this is only successful if you can be as real-time as the users chatting with you.

  2. Remember, Facebook and Instagram are not about filling your feed with several posts within a short time frame. You don’t want to lose current fans by trying to obtain new ones through racing to fill their screen.

  3. Twitter can help you if you’re looking to do a lot of chatting on Sunday. Plan ahead though with some of your tweets.

  4. No matter which you select, opt to not pre-schedule posts. It would not look good for you to post a congrats on a game that is still going on.

These tips should help you to come out on top no matter if the Broncos (or Seahawks) win.

Do you have any other tips to help other business owners for Super Bowl Sunday? Please feel free to comment below with other tips to consider. Your comments may be used for future articles.

Also, still not convinced on using these types of tools for your digital marketing campaign? Be sure to check out this free white paper download 3 Ways to Incorporate Strategic Public Relations and Digital Marketing Practices into the Trends and Predictions for 2014.

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What Small Businesses Can Learn From Super Bowl Ads

Small businesses may not be able to foot the $4 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot, but they still can learn a few things from the big guys.

Brand building

What Small Businesses Can Learn From Super Bowl Ads image brand loyalty

Super Bowl ads are often more about branding than selling. Think

back to last year’s Super Bowl spots. Chances are, you may remember the ad but not the company it represented. Or t

he company but not the product.

Not every marketing effort has to be about selling a product or service. It also can serve to build your brand. While these marketing efforts may be more difficult to tie to the bottom line, over time you’ll realize their value.


Last year’s Super Bowl had over 100 million viewers in America. That’s a lot of exposure. Some viewers, like myself, watch the Super Bowl strictly for the ads (unless, of course, the Eagles miraculously make it to the showdown).

As a small business, you’ve got to know your target audiences – and which advertising channel is best for reaching them. Think quality, not quantity. You could advertise in a medium that reaches thousands, but if none of them are your target audience you could be throwing away your advertising dollars.


A little humor can go a long way in advertising. Of course, many of the Super Bowl ads go heavy on the humor.

Humor can only work if it resonates with your brand. If, for example, a funeral home used humor in its advertising that probably wouldn’t go over too well with the public.

Use humor judiciously. It should be used to give your company/brand a personality; it should not be the focus of the marketing itself.


Many of the most memorable Super Bowl ads are those that tug at the emotions. They capture moments that we all can relate to at some point in our lives.

Storytelling is how you bring emotion into advertising. It’s how you connect on a personal level with members of your target audience.

So, no matter which team you’re rooting for on Sunday, take a good look at the Super Bowl ads. Then see which advertising principles you can apply to your own marketing plan for 2014.

Photo: Flickr – One Way Stock

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Two Birds, One Stone – Where To Repurpose Advocate Content

By now, we know content marketing works. 95% of B2B companies and 86% of B2C companies with over 1000 employees are utilizing content marketing strategies. Creating enough content, however, is a constant challenge for brands.

Luckily, advocates can help. From photos to blog posts, happy customers and employees are willing, and may already be creating content for your brand.

But what can you do with this content after it’s produced? Repurpose it, of course! Whether it is on paid or owned channels, repurposing advocate content is a great way for your brand to not only get more content but also to build meaningful relationships with your customers, turning customers into advocates and advocates into lifelong customers.

Social Media

Social channels are a great place to repurpose advocate content because of the high visibility that they provide for the brand. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and YouTube are all great channels for repurposing advocate images, videos, and written content. Repurposing content on these channels is also the quickest way to distribute it – we’re talking as simple as a retweet or a regram.


Showcasing advocate content on your homepage, blog, or other dedicated pages is another good way to highlight advocate content. One SocialChorus customer created a dedicated page on their website for the sole purpose of highlighting advocate images, videos and blog posts.

Paid channels

How can you make your paid advertisements such as display ads and sponsored stories more effective? Pump them up with your advocate-created content. Advocate content

performs better than branded content (7X better in fact), so when you incorporate advocate content into paid channels, it will perform better. Win-win.


While it might not be the first place you think of, your offline print materials are a great place to exhibit advocate content. Whether it is in a catalog or on in-store signage, taking digital images offline can be a powerful way to extend the lifetime of the content and help maximize effectiveness.

While each of these channels serves a purpose and provides brand value, the real power of advocate content is realized when brands merge paid, owned and earned channels and the content is utilized across not just one, but multiple channels.

Learn how to transform advocates into a powerful content creation and distribution engine in our recent ebook, Advocates as Content Creators.

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How To Build A Social Media Strategy Template

Social media marketing has reached widespread acceptance in the business world heading into 2014. You would be hard pressed to find a company that does not understand the value it can bring to their business success.

To get a feel for the enormity of its acceptance, consider the following statistics:

The stats could go on and on here, but you get the picture. Social media has become a crucial component of any marketer’s arsenal.

With the widespread acceptance, it remains true that there are still newcomers to the social media marketing game. No matter whether you are a new college grad, have just moved into a marketing role, or have simply held off as long as possible to jump in, it is never too late to start. The best part of being a newcomer to social media marketing is that many of the unknowns have already been sorted out.

Where to Start: Social Media Strategy Template

Most of us early adopters made the same mistake – jumping in head first without an idea of what we were aiming to do. In the early days, social media was a wide open book, just waiting to be molded into the communication channel it is today. Many of us floundered with figuring out how to use it, while a few smart and creative folks built the vision behind where we are today.

For anyone new to the game, they can get ramped much faster by learning from the mistakes we made in the past. The most important thing to get right is the strategy. The term “social media strategy” has been used and misused to mean pretty much anything from strategic planning to tweeting, so it is important to put a framework around what it should be in reality.

Let’s look at how one might approach building such a template.

1. Audit Existing Activities

Unless you are starting a new business and planning to launch into a guerilla marketing effort (or “growth hacking” as some sects of the marketing population like to call it now), you will have an assortment of existing marketing tactics already under way or completed. It is important to review everything that has been done in the past to promote the business. Get a good inventory of what vehicles and messages have been used.

Leave no stone unturned during this effort. The initial audit is not focused on figuring out what provided value and did not – it is about identifying what has been done, when, and how it was executed. Social Media Marketing is one cog in an overall messaging and promotional wheel, so figure out what else the wheel uses to roll before putting on a whole new wheel!

2. Delineate Successes and Failures

Once you have a thorough and complete summary of everything that you or your predecessors have already tried, you are ready to start analyzing the campaigns and tactics.

First and foremost, identify the abject failures of outreach and campaigns. You want to find the worst performing things you have done, and analyze those in depth.

  • Why did they fail?

  • What could have been done differently?

  • How were they measured and managed?

We can learn a great deal from failure, so take the opportunity to educate yourself.

Next, turn to the items that provided at least some value.

  • What was different about those strategies and campaigns?

  • Did it focus on a different target audience?

  • Use superior creative?

  • Target a different channel or medium?

It should be rather easy to see where these items differed from the failures at this point, so find the best of the best and take note of it. You will need that information for the next step.

3. Determine Where Social Media Marketing Fits

Once you have a great idea of what does and does not work with your business, offering (product or service), target audience, current customers, and segment of the market, you can start to think about social media strategy. Any patterns you found during step 2 will come in handy during this analysis.

  • What purpose do you want to employ social media for?

  • Is it for building a brand?

  • Driving leads?

  • Caring for existing customers?

  • Creating publicity?

Wherever your company failed to find a success in the past, consider that a top area to focus social at first. Or maybe you want to replace a success with a better version of it, pushed out via word of mouth. Maybe you want to supplement a successful campaign with additional communication points – that works as well!

This is a good time to step back and brainstorm the possibilities. You want more ideas to filter through in this step, so don’t eliminate any ideas until you’ve built out the whole list. You just might have the seed of a beautiful tree once you piece a couple of ideas together in later stages.

4. Figure Out Your Objectives and Target Audiences

Okay, so once you know how you want to use social media holistically, the next step is to build objectives on top of that vision. If you want to use it for branding, for example, take a moment to map out what success will look like. This is when you figure out how you will measure the effort, before you even think about the execution plan. The tactics should be chosen to support the objective, so be sure to do this in the right order.

Many companies have web personas or a similar customer segmentation framework already built out. If you have such a framework, overlay it on top of the objectives and revisit whether you have set your goals on a granular enough level. You may have to refine your measurement plans based on whom you plan to target.

For companies that have not build out personas or similar customer profiles, this step will take longer to complete. You may need to interview others in the company to get a good idea of how the customer looks. Your sales team, who gets a lot of face / phone time with the customers directly, as well as your executives and product management team should be great resources for you during this analysis.

If you are in a very small or early stage company and don’t have access to such resources, there’s no need to despair. Make a guess based on the information you do have as a starting point. You will want to use the first few iterations of outbound and inbound campaigns to refine your understanding of the customer. But the key point is to start with a target (or targets) already in mind, and structure the rest of the effort around reaching those individuals or groups of consumers.

5. Map Out A Content Marketing & Curation Strategy

Every good social media marketing campaign has a content component. Given the way the internet works today, content is the center of the marketing universe.

Many social media marketers prefer to start out with a pure curation approach. If you are not familiar with content curation, it is a simple concept. It is similar to how a museum curator reviews thousands of possible exhibits, in order to choose the best of the best for putting on display.

You will want to do the same thing, curating the absolute best content items that may be of interest to your target audience. These are the items you will focus on sharing with the audience as you build up your brand on social media.

How can you find items for curating? There are countless tools available to help. The social media platforms themselves are a great starting point. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds of the most popular content services on the web, via an RSS reader or by having them push the content straight to your email inbox. Or you can go to a content curation platform itself, for example, my personal favorite

Eventually (if not immediately), you will find that curation alone is not enough. At that time, you will need to build a content marketing strategy and plan.

Again, it pays to think ahead – many companies dive headfirst into content generation, starting to blog with no focus, no objectives, and no progress. After six months, they become frustrated that no one is reading the blog and stop writing. That’s the worst thing you can do.

Remember, content is more than just short, pithy blog commentary. Anything that provides valuable information and can engage your audience is content. This includes videos, infographics, white papers, ebooks, podcasting, slideshows, and a whole range of other items. You don’t have to build all completely unique content items across media, so be creative with how you plan out initial composition and repurposing of similar content across the various communication vehicles such as rich media.

There are limitless posts available about how to build a good content marketing plan, so I will leave it at that for this post. We are more focused on the bigger effort in which content falls.

6. Decide What Platforms To Use

Only after you audit existing activities, determine where social fits, identify objectives and target audiences, and map out how content will help you build your social presence, THEN can you start planning out what platforms to use.

This order matters a great deal. If your core content strategy is to generate weekly videos, YouTube will have to be part of your effort. If you plan to blog only, then Twitter and Google+ will be focal points. Looking to run contests and share funny pictures? You will prefer platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Of course, you will almost certainly want to use the big four platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. But it would be irresponsible to first pick the platforms, then forcefit a program into what you already think will work on each site. Get your plan in place first and pick your poison once you know what the end goal is, just like you do with all the other marketing vehicles.

7. After Everything Else, Build Your Tactical Communication Plan

Finally, it is time to start planning out real actions. You can approach this in different ways.

Structured and Planned Out In Detail

Typically, when a mid-sized or large company contacts an agency to handle social media marketing on their behalf, they ask for a detailed plan of exactly what will be said, via which platform, by whom, and when it will be said. For companies that still think they control the conversation, this is commonplace.

If you are the type of marketer who likes to have all the details spelled out before execution, feel free to go to this level of minutiae. For many of us, it provides a comfort level, particularly if you are farming the work out to someone you have not built a full level of trust in yet.

Personally, I think this is overboard. A better approach is as follows…

Free Form With Rules Of Engagement in Place

Let’s face it, we are all big boys and girls running real businesses. Build the right social media strategy template up front, make sure you feel it is rock solid, employ people with business savvy whom you can trust, and let them go make things happen.

The conversation is happening out there in real time. It is your choice to engage in it or let the masses decide for themselves what they think of you and your business. There is absolutely no way to plan for engagement activities on a hard and fast schedule. It is im-poss-i-ble!

So build a good framework and be sure your execution folks understand the spirit of the rules. Make sure they know when your own original content will be ready to promote online. Then let them loose on it and measure the progress. It is the only way to balance the flexibility required with the structure you need to measure success.


Social Media Marketing is pretty much a requirement today, but there are right and wrong ways to go about doing it. If you follow the above approach, your likelihood of getting it right in the early going will increase dramatically. Strategy before execution remains true in new media as it did with the old way of doing things. Now go start building your social media strategy template!

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Resource Reconnaissance – 5 Social Media Tools To Discover

Resource Reconnaissance 5 Social Media Tools To Discover image Social Media Tools to DiscoverAre you constantly on the hunt for social media tools to utilize as part of your growth strategy? Do you like to be the first amongst your peers to discover new social tools so that you can share your new discoveries and build your reputation as a thought leader? If staying ahead of the pack is part of your branding modus operandi, following are a few social media treats you might want to explore.


ReadingPack lets you create custom reading lists to share with your social media audience. You can curate informative content from thought leaders in your niche, build lists relevant to your target audience, or even create lists filled with inspirational material to motivate your continued business growth.


Although technically not a social media tool, Canva is absolutely perfect for creating visual marketing images to share on social media. Canva makes visual content creation so simple that your graphic design team just might start casting spiteful glances in your direction. From infographics to memes, Canva has them all.


If you’re using Pinterest as part of your brand building efforts, you definitely need to check out ShareRoot. ShareRoot offers tools that include Pinterest contest management, Pinterest-specific ad targeting, analytics, and page management. From competitive engagement reports to actionable metrics, ShareRoot lets you put the hammer down on your Pinterest competition.


Formerly known as Pingraphy, ViralTag offers optimization services for Pinterest. From image enhancement tools to deep-dive analytics, ViralTag has a host of helpful resources to take your visual marketing efforts from meh to marvellous.


TribeBoost helps you to grow your social media audience by finding targeted followers relevant to your area of expertise. TribeBoost mines Twitter data, connects you with potential customers and influencers in your geographic area, and then helps you to make connections.

Do you think you’ll be integrating any of these social media treats into your content marketing and social media outreach strategy?

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USA Twitter Trends of the Week (Week Ending 1/31/14)

With hundreds of millions of daily tweets and search inquiries in the United States alone, Twitter is rich with conversations and news updates. Our USA Twitter Trends of the Week captures the top trending discussions and breaks them down for you.

Top Twitter Trend of the Week: Atlanta Snowstorm

Atlanta, GA, was caught off guard this week after temperatures dropped and snow started falling. The 2 inches of snow that fell turned highways into parking lots and caused panic throughout the state. Commuters who have never had to deal with this kind of weather found themselves stuck for hours on roads, as the snow seemed to paralyze Georgia, causing accidents and pile-ups in magnitudes rarely seen. National Guard troops had been sent out to distribute blankets and MREs (meals ready to eat) to drivers along Interstate 20. It’s been reported that people who have been stuck for hours ended up abandoning their cars once the sun went down and temperatures started dropping.

While watching the snow fall and cars slide, many took to social media to share photos, videos and stories of what they’re now calling the Snow Disaster:

Absolutely hilarious. I think atlanta might have handled a zombie apocalypse better than they did that inch of snow

— Ovie Mughelli (@oviemughelli34) January 31, 2014

Atlanta’s one and only snow plow. Working overtime today

— Kevin Antoine (@kevinantoine) January 29, 2014

Top Politics: State of the Union Address

Obama’s fifth State of the Union address was given on Tuesday. In his just-over-an-hour speech there were calls to change the existing tax code and to spend more tax money on rebuilding roads and bridges. There were also calls to boost education and, if possible, to completely avoid war. The underlying theme was his pledge to follow through on initiatives “even if Congress refused to join him in an election year.”

Republicans responded on Twitter in real-time to the President’s pledge to use the power of the pen by signing more executive orders. Congressman Tim Huelskamp couldn’t wait for the address to end before firing off his disapproving response. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) posted a number of Instagram photos, Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) asked for input on Twitter (using the hashtag #RandResponds). First Lady Michelle Obama recorded Instagram videos and Vines to advertise the address.

I want to hear from you: what do you want to hear in my #SOTU response? Tweet #RandResponds with your suggestions.

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) January 28, 2014

Hey girl, it’s Biden. #SOTU

— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) January 29, 2014

Top Entertainment: Grammys

The 2014 Grammy Awards took place last weekend, and a number of story lines surfaced on social media. First of all, was it really Daft Punk under those helmets? Winning 4 awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year, Daft Punk did make some waves on social media when questions of who was really under the helmets came up. What about Pharrell’s hat? Pharrell took home four Grammys including Producer of the Year-Non Classical, along with Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Record of the Year and Album of the Year for his work with Daft Punk on their album Random Access Memories. Yet his hat caught more discussion than his awards.

Arguably the biggest upset of the Grammys came when Kendrick Lamar did not win anything. Instead, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis took home the Best Rap Album of the Year. Many fans and members of the rap community were outraged when the award was first presented, but Kendrick came back with a different view. ”It’s well deserved. He did what he did, man,” Kendrick Lamar told XXL. “He went out there and hustled and grinded. Everything happens for a reason. The universe comes back around. That’s how it go.” In addition to Best Rap Album, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won three other awards: Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. Kendrick Lamar was a nominee for every award Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won.

After the show was over, Macklemore sent Kendrick Lamar a text:

Top Sports: Pro Bowl

It looks like Deion Sanders was defeated by Jerry Rice, even a decade after both had retired. Team Rice won 22-21 against Team Sanders in the Pro Bowl last weekend, where fans saw a shake up due to a new format. Teammates faced off against one another because of the draft process. We saw Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson lay out running back Jamaal Charles, and Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward flipping receiver Josh Gordon. Although this made fans a little bit uneasy, it also brought a whole new level of competitiveness to the game,

FINAL #TeamRice 22 #TeamSanders 21 #ProBowl

— NFL (@nfl) January 27, 2014

Team Rice tops Team Sanders, 22-21, in the 2014 Pro Bowl. Congrats to @superdj56 = Defensive MVP.

— Reid Ferrin (@KCChiefs_Reid) January 27, 2014

Want to check in on Twitterers around the globe were talking about this week? Take a look at our Top Global Twitter Trends.

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What SEOs Can Learn From Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg L.P. understands opportunity. He’s built an empire on being able to recognize trends, and offer solutions at the right time to the right people. When Bloomberg’s company hit the scene in the ’80s, it provided computer systems to Wall Street firms. But what it did differently than its competition was change the target audience.

What SEOs Can Learn From Bloomberg image Bloomberg Terminal

While the competition was focusing on marketing to the IT people, Bloomberg saw the real audience was the traders and analysts — those in charge of the money. So Bloomberg modified its product strategy to cater to the audience that mattered.

That single shift in mindset changed the game forever for Bloomberg L.P. And right now, marketers are in the midst of a similar shift. For years for many SEOs, search engine optimization had been centered on the keyword, and the value a word brought to the website.

Enter Secure Search

What SEOs Can Learn From Bloomberg image secureSearch.01

But things changed in the blink of an eye last year when Google moved to a total secure search environment, leaving little to no keyword data behind in analytics. Instead, marketers would now see keyword “(not provided)” as the majority data point. Bing and Yahoo followed suit earlier this year.

Like Bloomberg, BrightEdge saw a change on the horizon long before it was a key focus for many. Content is what every website and marketer is ultimately centered on, not the keyword. Focusing on the content rather than the keyword means the real target audience is taken into account. And that shift in mindset changes the way we market the product: the content.

Adapting To Change A La Bloomberg

Enter page-based SEO. For search marketers, adapting their practices to operate within secure search isn’t an an option, it’s a necessity. We cover this idea and more more in our Secure Search White Paper, and the new paradigm is pages, not keywords. Let’s look at pillar one of our Secure Search Methodology described in the white paper – Start With Pages.

What SEOs Can Learn From Bloomberg image ssm methodology1

Shifting the Marketing Mindset to Pages

Pages are where people visit and where they convert. You can track just about any user behavior, and how your content is performing by looking at pages as a whole. I’ll show you how.

Let’s go over just some of the ways you can measure your search engine optimization and beyond by looking at the value of pages.

1. Rank for the page. With all the entry points your website could have from pages, images, video and news results, it’s important to look at your page’s rank in the results. We know that more visibility and higher placement increases click-through rate, and so continuing to optimize for that visibility is important.

2. Page traffic. Let’s face it: Traffic is the ultimate goal of your SEO efforts (while conversion is the next important step). Understanding the pages that are performing from a traffic and engagement perspective tells you which parts of your site are most successful. Here, you can look at things like bounce rate, time on site and pages viewed to see how users behaved once they got to your Web page. This and other indicators should give clues on where adjustments need to be made.

3. Page value. We know that marketers struggle with showing exactly how SEO has contributed to performance versus just a natural growth over time. That’s why we’ve built in reporting features that help marketers better understand the value various channels are bringing. The final goal of any marketer’s efforts is of course, the conversion. Page reporting allows marketers to see the real ROI of individual pages or groups of pages. This can work for both ecommerce businesses and B2Bs, if the right technology has been integrated for the latter.

Getting Comfortable with Content

Bloomberg made another brilliant move for his brand in 2009. It bought the dying BusinessWeek publication, rebranded it as Bloomberg and effectively widened the net to capture a larger audience. This is one of many examples of content marketing before content marketing had a name.

Bloomberg understood the power of publishing on the Internet. And so should you. Your brand’s content online – useful content that understands what your audience needs – is the core of your marketing. And making that content available in as many ways possible in as many places as possible expands your reach to the people that matter.

So to compete in today’s SEO, content needs to be at the core, not keywords. You’ve started with a great product or service. Now make like Bloomberg and tell the right people about it.

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Global Twitter Trends of the Week (Week Ending 1/31/14)

There are over 300 million tweets sent from around the world every day. Because Twitter has become such a major source for global news and conversations, we pull weekly trends to discover what the world is talking about. Here are some of the highlights:

Top Twitter Trend of the Week: Chinese New Year

One of the most significant celebrations in China starts today. The beginning of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration begins with the first new moon of the Lunar New Year and brings festivities of Chinese culture to cities around the world. This year will be the Year of the Wood Horse, as determined by the Chinese zodiac, taking over from the year of the water snake.

Feng shui practitioner Raymond Lo told Reuters: “The upcoming Horse year is also a ‘yang wood’ year, when people will stick more to their principles and stand firm. So it is hard to negotiate or compromise as there are more tendencies for people to fight for their ideals.”

Happy Chinese New Year. The Year of the Horace. #GetAHorse

— Disney Animation (@DisneyAnimation) January 31, 2014

Top Entertainment News: Pete Seeger

Folk-singer and music legend Pete Seeger passed away this week at the age of 94. His music generally poked at the United States Government and empowered his listeners to join in, whether it be through singing along or marching in protest. He was not only a musician and an activist, but also was known as a “defender of all that is good in the world.” Although he studied mostly folk and gospel music, he wrote songs that appealed to all walks of life. In Allan Winkler’s book about Mr Seeger’s music, “To Everything There is a Season”, Tom Paxton recalls: “Pete never tried to convince us that he was ‘Appalachian’, or black, Irish, African or Scottish,” but made “the song the star and the singer merely the presenter.”

Love to Pete Seeger, who redefined the purpose and power of music and stood as it’s conscience for generations.

— Tim Robbins (@TimRobbins1) January 29, 2014

Top Sports: Australian Open Winners

Stanislas Wawrinka and Li Na woke up on Monday morning as the winners of the 2014 Australian Open. For Wawrinka, the win was a little bit of a blur; he won his first Grand Slam. On his way to the title, he upset No. 2-ranked Djokovic in the quarterfinals and then beat No. 1-ranked Nadal in the final, despite having never beaten either before. “I really never dreamed about winning a Grand Slam,” he said, clutching his trophy. “I don’t know about doing it again. But I did it, and no one can take it back.”

Li Na totally wowed audiences as she delivered the “best speech ever.” How did she make it there? Li Na was the runner-up in 2011 and 2013, but overwhelmed Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(3) 6-0 to win her second grand slam title.

He did it !! Stan wins his first Grand Slam!! Wawrinka beat Nadal (6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3)! Congratulations

— Federer Roger (@federer_roger) January 26, 2014

Top Tech: Bell Let’s Talk Campaign

Bell’s fourth annual ‘Let’s Talk’ day lets Canadians and people around the world take part in a global conversation to raise awareness about mental health. This past Tuesday, a total of 96,266,266 texts, Tweets, calls and Facebook shares were made during the 24-hour event. Bell Canada donated five-cents for each message, bringing the fundraising total to over $5-million. More than three million Tweets with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk were sent throughout the day, making it the number one Twitter trend in Canada, and the third worldwide.

Did you participate in Bell’s ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign by Tweeting, texting or calling? Let us know in the comments below.

Every time someone retweets this tweet, 5¢ will be donated to mental health programs #BellLetsTalk

— Bell Lets Talk (@LetsTalkBell) January 29, 2014

“To all those fighting mental illness know that you most certainly are not alone and you are most definitely loved. #bellletstalk

— Pam Shuker (@Shukler) January 29, 2014

Interested in what happened in the United States this week on Twitter? Check out our USA Top Twitter Trends of the Week.

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Google Authorship – Why it’s Important to Your Business

I wrote about Google Authorship before, but many small businesses are still unaware of Google Authorship, why it is important and how to implement it. They are writing great, authoritative content but without Google Authorship, they are missing out on the opportunity to gain a huge advantage over their competition.

With all the changes in the search engine optimization arena recently, it is extremely important for small business owners to focus on a solid content marketing strategy that builds authority in your area of expertise.

Once you have that great content, getting it found in the search engines is a challenge. Google is continuously changing its search algorithms in order to discover the best content from the original author and providing those more relevant search results to those looking for that information. To gain more visibility and better search engine rankings, you need to implement Google Authorship and make it easy for searchers to focus on your content in the search results pages.

Why is Google Authorship Important?

Google is adamant about delivering the best content in its search results pages. Google Authorship is another signal that indicates whether the content is of high quality and from the original author. When Google Authorship is implemented, it helps them improve search quality by rewarding good, trustworthy content with higher page rank.

Google Authorship – Why it’s Important to Your Business image authorship author

Google Authorship increases content visibility in the search results pages

Google Authorship ties a Google+ account to content to better identify the original author. Once Authorship is setup and linked to your content, information is added to its search result including your profile picture, a link to your Google+ profile and the number of Google+ circles you are in. This additional information:

  • Creates more visibility and higher click-through rates because people are naturally drawn to the image of the author.

  • Validates you as an authority and thought leader in your area of expertise.

  • Creates a powerful first impression that establishes trust and credibility in your content.

  • Reduces plagiarism as search engines will be able to link the original author to the content.

  • Improves search engine rankings of your content over that which is not linked to a Google+ profile.

In the following screenshot, content was attributed to me via Authorship even though it is from a website other than my own.

Google Authorship – Why it’s Important to Your Business image authorship community site

Helps identify original author even on syndication sites

Implementing Google Authorship

The first step in making sure your content is recognized as yours regardless of what website you are writing for is to link your content to your Google+ profile:

  • Fill out your profile completely and indicate websites where you contribute content in the section called “Links”.

Google Authorship – Why it’s Important to Your Business image google authorship contributor

  • Upload a high quality profile photo that shows your face

  • Make sure your name used on your content is the same as your Google+ profile

  • Include a byline containing your name on each page of your content

  • Go to to verify your email address if it is not on the same domain as your content (needed for guest bloggers)

Setting up Google Publisher

In addition to setting up authorship, small businesses gain another advantage by ensuring your brand is associated with your content as well. Implementing the Google Publisher markup links your Google+ Business page to your content on your own website. You can only link one Google+ Page with one website.

To set up your publisher status is simple.

  • Set up a Google+ Page for your business and link it to your website. You will find that section in the About section.

  • To link your site to your page, you need to add the rel=”publisher” markup to any link on your website that points to your Google+ page.

WordPress SEO makes implementing Google+ Authorship and Publisher easy. When you install the plugin, it adds a Google+ field in the user profile for your personal profile. Then through the social area in the settings, you can add your Google+ Page link for it to implement publisher on your website. This plugin adds all the right markup to the head of your website. When you are done, you can verify that everything is set up properly with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

Can Google Authorship help your small business?

The competitive advantage authorship can provide for your business is huge. If you are currently publishing content, associating that content with your Google+ profile will increase your authority and add legitimacy to your writing. Increased visibility and influence will boost traffic to your website. Google is on a mission to deliver quality content from verified authors and you can use that to your advantage.

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Super Bowl Twitter Lists For Your Game Day Second Screen

Super Bowl Twitter Lists For Your Game Day Second Screen image Super Bowl Twitter Lists

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Super Bowl XLVIII is just days away and football fans on Twitter are busy making predictions and sharing excitement about the big game. As you gear up for your party this Sunday, we thought we’d help you prepare your Super Bowl second screen. Don’t worry about whether to follow #SuperBowlXLVII, #SuperBowl48, #SuperBowl2014, #SB48 or some other hashtag creation—we’ve gathered the best Super Bowl Twitter lists to help you stay on top of the action on the ground, and on the turf.

The Players

The players on both the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are preparing for what will likely be the biggest game of their lives. Unless they’re HootSuite users and have a bunch of Tweets scheduled (that would be amazing), odds are the players won’t be tweeting too much this weekend. That said, you can be sure they’ll have lots to say, win or lose, after the game is over.

Unfortunately Peyton Manning isn’t on Twitter (every Tweet would probably just be “Omaha!” anyways), but a number of other Broncos are on the social network, including Chris Harris Junior.

They be driving reckless out here lol

— Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) January 31, 2014

For more football insight you can follow the Bronco players with this Twitter list.

Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks are on Twitter in bigger numbers than their Super Bowl foes. They’ve already provided us with a steady stream of great Tweets like this one:

Wow the nerve of some people, I tell you smh. Mad cause their watching the Big Show at home, instead of live. Sounds pretty childish

— walter thurmond III (@WaltThurm3) January 31, 2014

You tell them, Walter! Follow the Seahawks players with this Twitter List.

The Reporters

While the players’ Twitter activity will likely drop this weekend, the Twitter activity of football reporters will likely grow exponentially. These journalists will be tweeting all day, all weekend, providing insight and details you may not get just from watching the game on TV.

We’ve built a Twitter list full of Seahawks and Broncos reporters who will be covering the big game. If you’re looking for the most up-to-date Super Bowl information, these are the Twitter accounts to follow. Find that list here. And if we’re missing anyone on the list, let us know in the comments below.

The Advertisers

You can’t talk about the Super Bowl without talking about ads and commercials. We’ve already seen a blossoming friendship between a dog and a horse, and we know that the Full House guys have reunited, but there is going to be a lot more ad talk throughout the day on Sunday.

Our friends at Marketing Land have put together a helpful list of 48 Super Bowl advertisers. These include AXE, Doritos, Pepsi, Cheerios and Toyota, to name a few of the brands that will be spending big bucks for 30 seconds of your time. You can bet that most of the advertisers will incorporate social media into their campaigns, and you can easily follow along with the help of this list.

HootSuite has also partnered up with Marketing Land to bring you the Third Annual #Hashtag Bowl. They’ll be tracking how social networks compare to each other in Super Bowl ad mentions. Find out more here.

How to Add a Twitter List to HootSuite

  1. Choose a tab, or create a new tab, that you would like to stream your lists in.

  2. In the Add-Stream Helper click the Lists button under the Networks tab.

  3. Select the appropriate list from your existing Twitter Lists by clicking the ‘+’ sign. Your Twitter List will automatically occupy a new stream.

  4. To create a new list, click Create new list in the bottom of the Add-Stream Helper. Enter a name for your new List, a description (optional), and select whether your List will be public or private. Click Save list.

Now that you’ve created Twitter Lists for different contacts, it’s time to add them.

To the left of your dash, click on the human icon for your Contacts page. Once there, use the drop-down menus to select Twitter profiles and which List you’d like to add contacts to. And then simply drag and drop people that follow you—or people that you follow—into those Lists.

Enjoy your social Super Bowl, and let us know who you think won the for best social media ad.

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How To Create Your Professional Vision Board

How To Create Your Professional Vision Board image shutterstock 153664526While the origin of the vision board is unknown, we do know that people have been visualizing their desired results for thousands of years. Many ancient native peoples had a practice of visualizing a successful hunt prior to setting out with their hunting instruments. Today, everyone from eastern spiritual healers to Navy Seals use visualizing techniques to help achieve goals. In fact, according to Psychology Today, studies have shown that visualization in athletics can actually increase muscle development. In a study examining brain patterns in weightlifters, psychologists found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when they simply imagined lifting weights.

Vision boards are not magic, pasting what you want on a piece of cardboard does not, by itself, create results. However, we are visual creatures and seeing our goals daily reminds us to stay focused and take steps toward achieving our goals.

If you have a business with partners, or a mate, you may want to consider creating a company vision board and/or couples vision board as a group project. My husband and I create vision boards annually and never fail to marvel at the number of items that we throw on our board, on a whim that actually come to fruition.

If you’ve never created a vision board, it’s a fairly simple process. Here is what you’ll need:

  • A large poster board

  • Scissors

  • Glue stick

  • Tape (regular or double-sided)

  • Magazines (business, fitness, decorating, travel, etc.)

  • Pictures of yourself that you can cut

  • Logos or pictures of potential partners or desired places of employment

Optional items:

  • Stickers (places, sayings, etc.)

  • Glitter (guys bear with me)

  • Stencils

Now that you have your supplies, open your magazines and look for words, phrases and pictures that fit your 2014 goals. As you cut out these items, begin to arrange them on your board, but do not secure them with glue or tape yet. If you have body goals, or are envisioning yourself in specific places, cut out pictures of yourself and place them on others’ bodies or next to landmarks in your desired locations. For instance, every year, my vision board features a picture of me on a stage. Once you have everything arranged, begin gluing/taping your items to your board. If you’d like, add stickers and/or glitter. I highly recommend you include numerical goals on your board. Do you want a raise, or to hit a certain revenue number in your business? Place that number on your board.

Once your board is complete, place it somewhere where you’ll see it daily. At the end of the year, evaluate which items you accomplished and which need to be carried over to a new board.

Do you create annual vision boards? What suggestions do you have for first timers?

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3 Themes for Writing Your Brand Story

3 Themes for Writing Your Brand Story image shutterstock 140282785Brand story themes

I previously wrote about the 3 Key Elements to a Brand Story. They are:

  • Strong opening

  • Memorable Label

  • Brand Theme

The challenge is often coming up with a brand theme. Depending on your particular situation, you may want to tell a story about:

  • How a major event impacted your life and career

  • A common theme throughout your life and career

  • Some talents that you want to demonstrate using a set of proof points

Major event

Some of us have had major events that propelled us into a career. In my case, it was a bicycle accident where I had a head on collision with a car and our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. This led me to teach high school math in an inner city school, develop non-profit fund raising programs, and now, to be a career designer.

In my post on 3 Key Elements to a Brand Story, I mentioned Tonya Clements‘ story and it was all about mountain climbing and how she trekked Mount Everest.

Okay not everyone has climbed Mount Everest or survived a crazy bicycle accident.

I had one client who danced ballet in her younger years, and that shaped much of the rest of her working life. The drive, discipline, and the artistic expression from ballet were what defined her brand.

Common theme

There are some of you that have worked across multiple industries and used many different skills. There is usually a common theme that ties your career together. Very often, you will not see the theme, but if you can find a friend, relative, or colleague to help you, it may become evident.

I had one client who worked across many industries. This included:

  • EKG technician

  • Selling computers for leading technology companies

  • Developing processes and then training sales people in the financial industry

  • Commercial real estate developer

  • Residential real estate broker

The common theme throughout her career was that it was all about people and processes.

This works well if you have had a varied career, working in multiple industries or career paths.

Proof points

If you have had a very stable career in a single discipline or industry and want to stay put, then use proof points to demonstrate that you know your stuff!

I am currently working with a product manager in the software industry. We created a powerful opening around the concept that he brings problems into focus.

He came up with three examples in three different areas where he demonstrated that he could take a problem and make it understandable to his management, team, customers, stakeholders, etc.

These clearly demonstrate that he knows his stuff. We have now handed the task of writing the story to someone who knows him well.

Which method will work for you?

It will depend!

Do you want to change industries or careers? If so, the proof point theme probably will not work.

Has a single event or activity had a major impact in your life? Not all of us have this kind of experience. Plus, you might have to do some significant reflection to truly understand the impact of such an event or activity.

No matter what theme you choose you will want to get some help, either from a friend or a professional. You will not want to do this alone!

What theme works for you?

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Super Bowl Snack Hacks (Infographic)

Super bowl is this Sunday and I am sure most of you are planning on throwing a super bowl party. When it comes to football, super bowl isn’t just about the game. It’s a time to get together with family and friends and enjoy the company. The game will for sure make things interesting but the snacks you provide to your guests will play a major role as well. This infographic provides some insight on super bowl snack hacks. For example, did you know that 1.23 billion wing portions or 14,500 tons of potato chips are consumed during the Super Bowl? Enjoy!

Click image to see a larger versionSuper Bowl Snack Hacks (Infographic) image Superbowl snack hacks guide to creating epic football snacks infographic 2

Super Bowl Snack Hacks Infographic via Foody Direct

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7 Real-Time Marketing Examples Brands Can Emulate During the “Big Game”

As the “Big Game” approaches on Sunday, there’s been a lot of talk about real-time marketing gone bad.

Heck, we saw it on full display last Sunday during the Grammys, didn’t we? (see below–thank you Arby’s)

But, I don’t hear a lot of chatter about real-time marketing DONE RIGHT. Admittedly, it’s tougher to find, but I thought I’d go looking.

Hey @Arbys, did @Pharrell give you that hat back? Still haven’t heard from @Madonna about mine. – Larry #Grammys

— QuakerOats (@Quaker) January 27, 2014

When I did, I found the seven following examples from the past year that I thought did a pretty nice job in terms of “real-time marketing”. Hopefully, brands will learn from these leaders this Sunday!


7 Real Time Marketing Examples Brands Can Emulate During the “Big Game” image Virgin

What can brands learn: Nothing overly sexy or cute here–just a solid message in support of equality and a gentle push. Sometimes shorter is better.


7 Real Time Marketing Examples Brands Can Emulate During the “Big Game” image Sbux RTM

What can brands learn: Although this was a fairly polarizing campaign (ironic, considering what it’s about, right?), I loved much of the execution including Starbucks’ offer that week of one large coffee for those who randomly bought someone else in line their favorite drink (driving traffic in-stores). The lesson: Sometimes “doing the right thing” comes before profits.


Who will win a #GRAMMY tonight? Get the latest from faves like @blakeshelton:

— Walmart (@Walmart) January 26, 2014

What can brands learn: You know why this works so well? Because it’s simple and it drives traffic TO WALMART STORES! Imagine that, marketing that actually sells stuff. Huh?

Belize Tourism Board

7 Real Time Marketing Examples Brands Can Emulate During the “Big Game” image Belize Tourism

What can brands learn: While this short note is clearly a PR play by a big agency based here in Minnesota (OLSON, in case you’re wondering), it’s a brilliant one. From the tone of the letter (not pushy, references specific characters, but also with a clear ask) to way they simply built off one line in one episode of one of the more popular shows of the last 10 years. Also: OLSON took it one step further recently with this real-time play off the recent #polarvortex (although I could do without the “one really cool idea” line at the end, I did love the concept).


Special #FF to #SFBatKid! Thank you for saving Gotham. RT @SFWish Here he comes!!!! #SFBatkid

— Verizon (@Verizon) November 15, 2013

What brands can learn: You don’t ALWAYS have to be the center of attention, brands. And, you don’t ALWAYS need to be selling. This wonderful tweet did neither, which is why it worked so well on that day in November.

Warby Parker

7 Real Time Marketing Examples Brands Can Emulate During the “Big Game” image Warby Parker IG

What brands can learn: Clean, put powerful visual (look Mom, no Photoshop!) along with a subtle headline that gently pushes their product.

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The Right Way to Prep Your Webinar Guest

The Right Way to Prep Your Webinar Guest image webinarpic loImage Credit: Dennis Jarvis

There are lots of reasons to fit webinars into your marketing strategy (here are five), but to make them truly effective, you need to get the right people on board and set them up for success.

Industry experts, influencers, and successful customers can be wonderful additions to any webinar. They help secure attendees. They bring a fresh perspective to your content. They raise the bar of your presentation.

But just because they know all about your field or a topic doesn’t mean they know all about your webinar process. Like any guest, it’s important to treat them well, make them comfortable, and make sure they have a good time. And in the webinar world, that means prepping them thoroughly.

So to ensure a happy webinar guest and a killer online event, follow these six steps for webinar prep.

1. Talk Early and Often

Communication is key to being a good webinar host. Reach out to your guest early to set expectations for the preparation process. Walk them through how your platform works. If they plan on joining the webinar remotely, make sure they have all the equipment they need. Answer any questions they might have.

Get a download from them on past webinars or presentations they’ve contributed to. What did they like about them? What did they dislike? Touch base with them regularly to address any additional questions or concerns that may arise.

2. Discuss How Your Webinar Will Flow

Before you and your guest develop the presentation, it’s important that you both agree on the general outline of the webinar. Let them know what information you expect to cover, and what information you expect them to cover.

Discuss how you want to present on your topic. Do you want to switch off, back and forth? Do you want them to present the first half of the webinar, and you the second half? How much time will you each take? Are they willing to answer questions from attendees?

Building the bones of the presentation first will make your webinar more fluid and professional.

3. Share Your Slide Template

It’s not easy to keep an audience you can’t see (and who can’t see you) engaged for more than a few minutes. You’re up against chat, Facebook, and email—all tough competitors. And if you and your guest slap together wildly different slide formats into one deck, your attendees will tune out.

You must give your audience something engaging to look at. That means crafting image-heavy slides that follow the same format and color scheme. Share your slide template and best practices with your guest well before the webinar. If they’re struggling to pack all their information into your format, offer to help out.

4. Do Your Homework

A great way to make your guest feel special is to flatter them—and there are lots of opportunities to do it. The webinar invitation, reminder emails, landing page, and live introduction are all great places to explain who your guest is and why they’re awesome.

To do this well, you need to do your homework. Don’t just ask your guest for a standard bio. Do some of your own research into big projects they’ve worked on. Include links to their social media profiles along with fun details about them. Of course, make sure you have approval to feature these details publicly, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun.

5. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

A lot of us fear public speaking more than death. While you may not count yourself among that portion of the population, you have to admit that presenting to a large group of people is always a little scary, even if you’ve done it before.

The best way to combat this sometimes crippling fear? Practice. Finalize your presentation at least a week or two before the webinar, then run through the presentation a few times with your guest. The more you practice, the better your presentation will be.

6. Follow Up

So, you hosted an awesome webinar. A lot of people attended. You’re getting rave reviews. Your guest is happy. Think your work is done? Think again. If you want to secure an ongoing relationship with your expert guest, make sure to follow up. Send them some key performance statistics along with the recording of the webinar. Ask them to distribute the webinar to their own followers, friends, and colleagues. Get feedback from them on how they feel the webinar went and what they’d suggest for next time. If you keep the lines of communication open, this person could turn into a valuable advocate for your company and your content.

No one is born a webinar master. Being great takes practice, and preparing your guest the right way ensures a great webinar experience for you, your guest, and the attendees. And succeeding will make your guest feel really good—not only with themselves but also with you. Generally, it’s pretty handy to count industry experts among your friends. So put the time in now. Who knows what this new relationship could bring.

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10 Ways To Build Your Personal Brand

10 Ways To Build Your Personal Brand image handmade windows leather business card holder 1 Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest impact. Whether you are a small business owner, or an employee of a large corporation, consistently shaping and building your personal brand is vital to career longevity and success. You do not need a complicated master plan to grow your good reputation though. There are small, easy ways to strengthen your brand with the resources you likely already have at the ready.

Take a look at 10 everyday ways to build your personal brand:

  1. Carry business cards. Digital networking is great but there is something about a physical piece of paper that is almost a novelty today. Handing out a business card is an easy way to leave a lasting impression without asking anything of the receiver in return.

  2. Join in-person networks. Handshakes and in-person conversations simply cannot be duplicated remotely. Join local business groups and industry-specific ones and then show up to scheduled events.

  3. Go to conferences. Your employer may already send you to conferences, and if that is the case, take full advantage of them to build your own reputation. If you are self-employed, find room in your budget for at least one or two conferences every year to cast a wide branding net and learn a few things too.

  4. Put videos on your website. Or do something equally personable. Photos are nice but a video, even a short one, tells viewers so much more about you.

  5. Blog. Find out if there are any constraints with your job when it comes to blogging about your career and industry. If a personal blog is out of the picture, ask to be a contributor on your company’s blog. Even if you only post once per month, your blog roll will build up quickly and you will have examples of your expertise at the ready.

  6. Post to social media. And do it consistently. Make sure you have separate business and personal accounts in order to keep your brand identity strong.

  7. Talk to people in line. Instead of looking down at your smartphone while waiting at the store or for a cup of coffee, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. If the timing feels right, hand that person a business card.

  8. Volunteer. Finding even a small window of time to dedicate to a cause you believe in not only improves your personal brand – it increases your own awareness and satisfaction with life. Choose a cause that aligns with your own belief system and the values you hope to portray in your career climb.

  9. Partner. You likely already know and admire other professionals in your field or geographical location so take advantage of those relationships to mutually build each other up. The benefits of partnering can include setting up referral programs, cross-linking on each other’s sites and working together on community outreach.

  10. Enjoy life. Positivity is contagious – and the opposite is also true. If your career appears to be a burden, you’ll lose traction with the very people you want to bring in to your circle. Find the bright side of every endeavor and watch your personal stock rise.

How do you build up your personal brand during your daily routine?

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for . She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Does Your Offer Make Sense?

Does Your Offer Make Sense? image Does your offer make sense

I saw the advertisement of a relatively unknown brand of honey on television a few weeks ago. It prominently declared a buy one get one free offer. I was intrigued. Honey is expensive, and yet, here was a brand with this amazing offer. I went to the local supermarket and made the purchase. The packaging wasn’t great, but I decided to let the honey do the talking. It was good, not great. But for the deal they were offering, it was fantastic. So I made another trip and bought a few more jars.

The offer is still on, but how long can they sustain it? And when they withdraw it, I know for a fact I shall return to the brand I usually purchase. Why? The packaging is better, the taste is better, and it costs only a few rupees more. I’m willing to go with the new brand as it has a great offer. So what that means is that I’m willing to try it. It is now this brand’s duty to ensure it can retain my interest. That’s where it failed. The lesson here is that offers such as these can only induce trial.

When devising offers, it behooves every company to first determine the objective. In the case of new brands, it would be to induce trial. But customers won’t shift unless they are delighted. They will simply avail the offer until it lasts and then get back to their trusted brands. However, when it comes to well known brands, extending offers can serve to increase sales from existing as well as new customers. It also makes sense to extend offers only to existing customers to build loyalty.

It is also important to consider how offers may impact a brand’s image. For instance, a buy one get one free offer may send the message that the ingredients are substandard, especially if the brand is a new one. An offer may also send a signal that the brand is not doing well, especially if it is an existing brand. While there are no hard and fast rules, these factors should be taken into consideration. All in all, offers can be a great way to increase visibility, induce trial and get sales if used properly.

Featured Image Source:

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Twitter Acquires Over 900 Patents From IBM

Twitter Acquires Over 900 Patents From IBM image twitter ipo

IBM accused Twitter of patent infringement back in November 2013, and today both companies announced the acquisition of over 900 patents.

According to the press release, Twitter acquired over 900 IBM patents in December, and the companies have also agreed to cross-license patents.

From Twitter Legal Director Ben Lee:

“This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provides us with greater intellectual property protection and gives us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service.”

IBM says it “looks forward to a productive relationship with Twitter in the future,” and financial details were not disclosed at this time.

With 2013 marking the 21st year in a row, IBM holds the crown for the company with the most U.S. patents.

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Call Tracking: Choosing a Technology Provider

Previously we wrote about the virtues of implementing a call tracking program. Call tracking can be applied to virtually any form of marketing and helps to bring clarity and direction to a marketing plan. Next, let’s address the considerations you must make when setting up call tracking and some other helpful tips.

In case you hadn’t noticed (though I’m sure you’ve noticed the distracted drivers, oblivious pedestrians and non-responsive family members who are glued to them), there are somewhere around 1.5 billion smartphones on this planet. While these devices may largely be used for anything but placing a call, the fact is that people are able to place a call more conveniently than at any other time in history and customers are increasingly more likely to call your business as a result.

When designing your call tracking strategy, the first thing to keep in mind is that you have options. It’s important to understand your specific business needs and to lay out exactly what you hope to achieve. There is a fairly wide array of technology providers in this space and they each have strengths that might suit one scenario better than another.

When selecting a technology provider for call tracking, here are some considerations to help inform your decision:

How do they handle local phone numbers? Can they provide hyper-local numbers with both area codes and prefixes matching your actual routing number? If not, you run the risk of customers receiving an error message if, for example, they are not accustomed to having to dial an area code and the new number requires them to do so. Also, if a hyper-local number is not available, then you may need to consider whether providing a toll-free tracking number in lieu of a local number is acceptable.

Do they charge for phone numbers? A provider may or may not charge a monthly fee to source tracking numbers. If you have only one location, a $1 per number per month charge probably won’t cause a problem. However when you start adding multiple locations and then multiplying that by three or more marketing channels, your bill can start to add up even before receiving your first tracked call.

Now let’s say that you are tracking calls from paid search and want to understand not what channel a call came from but what keywords generated that call. Technology providers handle this differently and while one may have a dynamic solution allowing you to only have one number per channel, another may require you to source pools of numbers for each channel. You can see how this starts to add up in terms of the complexity and the cost of the program.

How do they calculate usage charges? It’s normal for a provider to charge a per minute usage fee. That calculation can take on many iterations. First, the rate can vary largely and is often based on volume estimate discounts applied for incrementally higher monthly usage. Negotiating a good rate can be difficult for a smaller business and this is one area an agency relationship can come in handy. Most providers round up the minutes from each call and you’ll want to understand this in advance. For example, if a call is 2 minutes and 1 second in length, you’ll get charged for 3 minutes.

Finally, some vendors will let you determine the minimum length of time a call must be in order to be charged for it. This helps if you know that it takes 10 seconds for the customer to actually get to a real person or perhaps that you need 30 seconds to acquire information for a lead. If offered this pricing model, be aware that your per minute rate will likely go up the higher you raise the threshold for counting calls.

What reporting is available? You spend money on a call tracking program to get actionable data so it thus stands to reason that you’ll want to know what data you’ll get and how you can access it. This is where establishing goals in advance comes into play, as not all reporting capabilities are equal. Some businesses want the ability to call back customers who were not connected with an employee and did not leave a message. Some providers make a report for this very accessible while others do not and this isn’t something you want to be surprised about after the fact. Similarly, if you have specific needs regarding whether data is available in real-time and who has access to it, then you need to discover that in advance.

Is call recording available? There are various reasons a business might want the capability to listen back to calls at a later time. You may want to listen back and match those initial leads with revenue that was realized further down the road. Others may want to monitor their employees’ phone etiquette or figure out why their close rate is so low. Or, perhaps you are training for a job with NSA and need to sharpen those surveillance skills. Regardless of the reason, call recording capabilities and costs can vary by provider.

What technology and processes are in place to ensure that my customers can reach me? Let’s face it, when you start sourcing what could be thousands of new phone numbers and re-routing calls from various sources there is the potential for something to go wrong. Proper advance testing before launch will solve many of the potential problems but you still need to know that your chosen vendor has processes in place to detect and fix issues as they arise.

Make sure you are asking about their overall reliability, how they monitor the network and how quickly they can react if something goes wrong. Ensure that even if the vendor’s call tracking service goes down, the caller is still connected to the desired location. Lastly, test the numbers yourself and make sure there are no delays, no strange clicking sounds and that call clarity is good. Call tracking done right means that your customers won’t notice a thing has changed.

The benefits of good call tracking are immense, but obviously there are many things you need to plan on before diving in. These are just a few of the considerations you’ll need to make and, while not an exhaustive list, it should get you off on the right foot. Regarding the distracted drivers, oblivious pedestrians and non-responsive family members, you are on your own!

via Business 2 Community

I’ll Have A Whole Milk No-Foam Web Site (With Whipped Cream) [Infographic]

When you stand in line at your local coffee house, you probably have your order already in your head. You know what kind of drink, what kind of milk, and what size you want — and whether there are any extras you usually like, too. The person in front of you who gets to the counter and fumbles through a drink order, not sure of anything, slows down the line and clearly isn’t prepared. Don’t be that person when it’s time to build your organization’s web site! Think ahead about what you’ll want so that when you approach your web designer/developer/barista, you’re ready to order. Here’s a handy infographic to help remind you of what’s involved:

Ill Have A Whole Milk No Foam Web Site (With Whipped Cream) [Infographic] image websitemocha4501

More questions? Want to talk it over? Get in touch!

via Business 2 Community

Who’s Quarterbacking Marketing?

With the Superbowl fresh on my mind, I can’t help but make an analogy as to how most marketing organizations are run (or not run) today. What would happen if the Broncos didn’t have Peyton Manning to call the plays and ultimately ensure that the Broncos put points on the scoreboard? The notion seems ludicrous doesn’t it? Yet most marketing organizations today are built in silos with no one in the quarterback role to determine the Demand Generation Strategy.

Who’s Quarterbacking Marketing? image qb huddle

Typically in most mid-size or enterprise organizations you have disjointed teams that run marketing, leading to a marketing organization that has multiple silos – product marketing, demand generation, field marketing, web teams each with their own Director or VP. Add to the mix that all too often each of these departments are measured by different goals and have differing priorities. What this means is there is no one looking out for the overarching revenue goals of marketing, much addressing the needs of the buyer.

In this Buyer 2.0 world, shouldn’t marketing organizations be built around how a buyer buys? Who is overseeing all of this to ensure that the content strategy i.e. what is being created, written, emailed, blogged, etc. is actually what your buyers want to hear? Who is overseeing the demand generation strategy that will ensure content is placed where the buyer actually researches and shops? Even players like Wes Welker and Eric Decker, as talented as they are, need their quarterback to call and orchestrate game-winning plays. Isn’t the same true for marketing?

Rather than relying on an organization that has multiple silos, marketing needs to be organized to function as one unit and have an individual responsible for creating perpetual demand and maximizing customer lifetime value. This is the role that makes sure the people, content, process and technology are all enabled for maximum results. Keep reading for more detail:

  • Buyer Insights – Developing the critical insights into what drives your buyer enables you to not educate and qualify them throughout their journey, but it is the cornerstone for all the messaging, content, and ongoing engagements. Keep in mind also, that a B2B buyer is not one person, it is a team of people all with their own perspective.

  • Strategy – According to Content Marketing Institute, only 44% of organizations have a defined Content Marketing Strategy. Often overlooked as part of the Demand Strategy, the right content architecture will make or break your Demand Generation success. A content strategy needs to leverage the buyer insights, buyer preferences and relevance. It all goes back to the buyer insights. A content strategy isn’t deciding what piece of content to use and when. It’s creating and then leveraging the right content, at the right time to Engage, Nurture and eventually, Convert your buyers to revenue.

  • Technology solutions – An essential part of any Demand Strategy includes the right technologies to maximize effectiveness of the marketing strategy. This includes marketing automation, CRM, content management solutions, webinar platforms, social media platforms and others. Technology is not the solution – however it enables your demand strategy and should be managed and governed wisely as part of the cohesive strategy.

  • People Often the biggest challenge is how to maximize personnel to drive the best results. It comes down to ensuring the right skill set is in place and understanding transformation does not happen without change management. A team needs to be cohesive, each individual plays an important part in an organization but all players need to drive their individual objectives in order to meet the organizational i.e. team objectives. It’s really all or nothing . . . Who cares about second place or almost attaining your revenue goals.

It all comes back to the need for a good QB, i.e, the marketing leader, to drive a buyer-centric Demand Process strategy. Without one, there isn’t anyone there to make things happen. To drive perpetual revenue, an organization needs a Demand Generation Strategy, driven by the QB.

via Business 2 Community