New and Improved
Earlier this year in March, Facebook re-launched its Marketplace that is now powered by Oodle. If you haven’t heard of it, the Marketplace is a classified ads section where users can list and respond to advertisements. The Marketplace gives users the ability to buy, sell, and trade all their goods with other Facebook users.
So, who really uses the Facebook Marketplace? You may have seen friends trying to sell their used chemistry books or their extra phone. But, did you know that there’s also a section for housing and free stuff? That’s what’s so great about this application. Originally created in 2007, the new Marketplace is revamped with a user friendly interface. While it is like Craigslist in its free listing of classified ads, but it also integrates an important social factor that Craigslist lacks. Wouldn’t you rather buy something from a friend or a friend of a friend than a complete stranger?
Seeing the Potential in the Marketplace
Marketers are warming up to the market place as they see ease and convenience of its features. With every listing, you can promote the sale of your goods and services by adding pictures, putting it in an appropriate category and even sending out personalized messages. Such custom settings make it easier for those looking to buy and sell real estate. Because Facebook thrives on the social thread, word of mouth will still be important. If your friends have had a successful transaction with a certain seller, they’re likely to spread the word. Before you brush it off, not everything on Facebook is a time-waster. In the past, Apple has even posted a listing looking for iPhone engineers on there!
Just attended a great webinar moderated by Sally Falkow. Here’s an overview of some great tips she focused on:
1) Use news feeds to push and pull your content.
Make use of RSS (really simple syndication) to push info on your site. From blogs to content pages, search engines look favorably on your links when they show up in news feeds. On the plus side, news feeds can expose your content to new audiences and give your site more traffic.
2) Monitor what’s said about your company.
Whether it’s using Google Trends or a service like NetVibes, it’s important to stay updated on who’s saying what about your company.
3) Measure the effectiveness your social media efforts.
Using Google Analytics, you can track where your traffic is coming from. If your bounce rate is fairly high, you might need to update your content and make it more user-friendly. Make the most out of these tools to measure all your social media and marketing efforts.
4) Use a branded video player.
Video views on YouTube are exploding as users are rushing over to the site over Google for their search needs. By using a service like Veeple, you can track real-time analytics of viewers watching your videos.
5) Integrate a social media newsroom into your website.
It’s a great place for bloggers, journalists, and readers alike. With a newsroom, it’s convenient to organize all your press releases, videos, pictures, and testimonials. Having ‘connect this’ buttons (like Digg and Twitter), makes it easier for readers to share your content.
Stay tuned for the next webinar in January!
I recently read a magazine article describing the profession of copywriting as “sexy.” After giggling for half a second, it dawned on me that “sexy” was just the right word to use. Copywriters, through the power of the written word, are responsible for “seducing” their audience. They have the fun, yet daunting, task of generating interest and then developing that interest to lead to some sort of fruitful relationship, not unlike the dating world. And, just like the dating game, the rules have changed.
The more information that technology makes readily available to consumers, the less time these consumers have to spend on any one particular product, service or idea. The attention span of the average web user has steadily decreased as the barrage of online information continues to overwhelm human senses. With this in mind, the web copywriter must truly embrace the concept of “less is more.” Relevance and credibility are still important principles to keep in mind when writing content, but Web 2.0 consumers now want relevance and credibility…in cliff notes format. A great example of this trend is the micro-blogging phenom, Twitter. Twitter’s popularity and success is a smack-in-the-face realization that web users’ tolerance for information has been Mini-Me-ed down to 140 characters!
With that said, here are some key guidelines for downsizing a seven-course meal of content into a snack-size bar without losing the essentials:
1. Listen to data: Conduct A/B testing on different versions of headlines to determine which works best.
2. Waste not, fluff not: Don’t make claims you can’t support. Consumers can smell a phony sales pitch a mile away!
3. Forget “short and sweet”: Just keep it short. Jargon, hype, gimmicks are all unnecessary sugar-coating. Give them what they want to know.
4. Know your audience: This one seems obvious, but is worth repeating. Write copy that speaks in a voice that your target market, not only understands, but listens to.
5. Format for easy reading: Use headlines, sub headlines, short paragraphs, lists, and an eighth-grade reading level. Have your 13-year-old read the copy. If he/she doesn’t “get it” by the time their attention is lost to a new YouTube video, it’s time to rewrite!
What’s the Big Deal?
With the post-Thanksgiving excitement of Black Friday, do you ever wonder how Cyber Monday sales compare to its popular counterpart? First of all, some consumers may not even be familiar with the term, as it was recently coined in 2005. For online shopping enthusiasts, Cyber Monday refers to the first Monday after Black Friday. During this time, retailers scramble to entice shoppers with a hungry appetite for deals. Although critics have slammed this virtual holiday as an overrated marketing gimmick, retailers can’t complain about the increase in sales that they’ve been experiencing.
– At first glance, the fervor created by Cyber Monday may seem too good to be true. Upon closer inspection, hardcore shoppers may be totally disappointed. Really, how good of a deal is free shipping or 10% off your overall purchase? Some criticize retailers for luring buyers in, but offering no real deals.
– Have you ever wondered what your productive workers are really doing? Research shows that about 57% of online purchases were made from the workplace!
– With so much internet traffic, online criminals are preying on easy targets. Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these increased cyber crimes.
A Takeoff That’s Soon to Level Off?
According to analysis of 2009’s Cyber Monday, research shows that sales were up almost 14% from last year. Consumer demand seems to be thriving and retailers are just as willing to take advantage of the situation. Although these numbers are awesome in the short-term, opponents question the effectiveness of this so-called holiday in the long-run. Some retailers may even be diluting the anticipation of their Cyber Monday sales by offering deals during November and even extending promotions until December. It’s only a matter of time before we can accurately assess the staying power of Cyber Monday. For now, feel free to browse but think twice before you make that purchase!
Do What Now?
From shameless self-promotion to broadcasting tweets about everyday things, there is no doubt Twitter is a place to be social. But, what about turning to Twitter as a way to promote good customer service? This is exactly what some companies, like Best Buy, are doing as a way to extend their customer service efforts. It may sound silly or confusing but in the end, it makes sense. Twitter and other social media platforms are attracting your customers, so why would you ignore this segment? With a team of technology pros, Best Buy’s Twelpforce is readily available to assist consumers with any questions and give advice that can help them with pending decisions. Best Buy has even invested in numerous TV spots to help spread the word of their Twelpforce.
Strengthening Your Weak Areas
Some commend Best Buy for their breakthrough marketing and customer service efforts, as they will surely set an example for others to follow. But this idea did not arise from nowhere, as Best Buy has been lacking in the customer service department in the past. Just Google “Best Buy customer service” and you won’t be surprised to find these gems: “Best Buy, worst customer service”, “Best Buy Customer Service is a Joke!”, “Best Buy Embraces the Suck” and more. This is not what any company or individual wants to hear. By utilizing new social media potential to create powerful tactics, Best Buy has found an effective way to strengthen their weaknesses.
A New Trend for 2010
According to the Harvard Business blog, customer service via Twitter is a trend to look out for in 2010. It’s a mutually beneficial plan as businesses will benefit from a cost effective measure that will leave their customers happy when they get the help that they need. Additionally, Best Buy’s Twelpforce is a unique way to build their brand. Their Twitter account is decked out in the signature blue and yellow with a sea of smiling employees. If that isn’t an image that a successful corporation wants to convey, I don’t know what is! Although the Twelpforce is not yet a year old, I think that Best Buy is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to nurturing passionate employees and gaining loyal customers.
“Social Media” are the buzz words of 2009. What used to be the online playground of undergrads pulling all-nighters in their college dorms, has now turned into a marketing phenomenon for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike.
However, what a lot of professionals with decades of marketing experience tend to forget when dealing with social media platforms is that they are “SOCIAL” media platforms – arenas to engage other users and build relationships. Meaning, you can’t create an account on Twitter, sign in once a month, and expect to see results. Remember, it takes two to tango, and posting tweets for your business without bothering to read, follow and interact with other users is tantamount to lecturing your teenagers while they’re playing Guitar Hero World Tour on Wii. Futile.
According to a study conducted by MarketingSherpa research, nearly two-thirds of marketers do not monitor their social media accounts. Think of all the missed opportunities to join conversations, learn what potential clients (or competitors) are saying, and to just get the word out there that your company exists! Behave in social media communities the way you would normally behave in live, face-to-face interactions: be interesting, don’t talk only about yourself, ask questions, be a source of useful information, have a genuine interest.
Not only will your fellow Twitterers appreciate the valuable content you contribute and feedback you provide, but you’ll soon find that your company is well on its way to achieving its social media marketing goals.
If you’re like me, easily influenced by pretty shiny things that flash in my general direction, then you may be designing your website with aesthetics as your number one priority. That’s all well and good if you’re an established fashion label with ten years of Vogue and Vanity Fair creds. But, chances are, potential clients will be depending on search engines to find the type of services or products your company offers, without knowing that your exact company exists. Following these simple tips when building your website can lead to a more SEO-friendly design, giving you the search engine ranking and exposure your company needs to be on its way to becoming a household name.
Tip #1: Age Matters
Search engines want to “see” commitment. Websites that have been in existence for 5 years as opposed to 5 weeks will rank higher. When your website shows longevity, a search engine will consider it as a trusted and authoritative source.
Tip #2: Title Tags are Golden
Don’t make the mistake of titling your web pages with inside jokes only your frat brothers would know, or using overly simple titles like “My Website Page 2.” While this may make your life easier or more comical, it does zilch for search engines when they crawl your site for content. Use your most competitive keywords in your pages’ title tags, as they are the most important pieces of text on your website for SEO purposes.
Tip #3: The Pen (or QWERTY Keyboard) is Mightier than the Sword
You can toss out the notion that “a picture is worth a thousand words” because in the world of SEO, a picture is about as valuable as Enron stock. Rather than focusing on graphics, make sure that your homepage includes searchable content. If you plan on linking to other pages from your homepage, use text links rather than hyperlinks contained within an image. When search engines read a link that uses text (e.g. “Bulldog Puppies For Sale”) and it actually links to a page that has relevant content in the text of the title/URL/header and body copy, this builds your site’s “trustworthiness” and “authority” status putting you on the search engine’s honor roll.
The Facebook Fundamentals
Establishing your presence on Facebook is an important task whether you are promoting yourself or your business. Some may find that the process is not that straightforward. The first obstacle you will encounter is deciding whether to create a Group or a Page. For some businesses, choosing both is a possibility. So, before you put your time and effort in maintaining your new social media profiles, take some time to consider the pros and cons of each:
An easy way to think about Facebook Groups is that they are like any other group or club. A group administrator is in charge of providing members with information, news about events, and more. Other members can also be appointed to help facilitate information. Establishing a group is a great way to gain quick attention for a cause or event.
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Promote with ads
+ Create events and send reminders
+ Privacy controls (public, private, or closed)
– Not given any weight by search engines
– Unattractive URL
– No visitor information
– Limited to 5,000 members
In some ways, Facebook Pages are more informal than groups. There is no public administrator and users are called “fans”. With Pages, there are more options to track visitor information. Facebook pages are similar to normal Facebook profiles. But instead of a person, these pages are designated to represent a brand or celebrity. Some businesses opt for a Facebook Page to maintain a long-term relationship with fans.
+ Vanity URL
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Indexed by search engines
+ Ability to extend your SEO efforts
+ Can have over 5,000 fans
– Cannot send reminders for events
– No privacy controls, everything is public
Making Your Decision
Hopefully, some of these points have helped clear up any confusion. Experts generally agree that Facebook Groups are better for organizing users around a cause or upcoming event. Facebook Pages are useful for a company or celebrity to strengthen their online brand presence. Some argue that users feel more active as a Group member than an observing fan of a Facebook Page. Search marketers usually prefer using Pages because of their advantages in user statistics, while others may use a combination of both.
Customs Sections Directory
Google News has recently made it possible for you to customize your Google News home page! They have created a Custom Sections Directory, which can be modified and changed by its user. Simply click on the “Add a section” link on the far right side of your Google News page and you will be relocated to your custom sections directory where you can begin making modifications.
How to Customize to your Interests
The directory includes various sections to choose from such as “Social Networking,” “Computer Security,” “US Foreign Policy,” etc. By adding particular sections you find interesting, your Google News page will become more personalized to you and your interests. The custom sections directory also allows you to sort by: highest rated, most users, and newest. Starting there can give you a sense of what other users are finding to be of interest. If you wish to browse the directory according to category, this is possible as well! Simply click on the category of your choice and find exactly what you are looking for. The categories include: business, science, technology, sports, entertainment, health, politics, and society. Within these categories are sub-categories so that you are able to narrow your preference down to specifics. Also offered is keyword search. If you wish to create your own customs section or sections this is also possible! Simply enter your city, state and zip code to create a local section or enter a keyword and they will be added to the public directory.
News Worth Reading
After you have completed customizing your Google News home page, the sections you have requested to add will be visible as links on the left-side menu. They will also appear on the bottom of your Google News home page. Customize your Google News home page today and enjoy the convenience of reading about what you want!
Google continues to dominate as the top search engine in the United States. While a select few reign over the search engine industry, there is a great range between the top three largest companies. As of September 2009, about 70.5% of users use Google, 17% used Yahoo! and 9.3% sided with Bing. With such discrepancies, the number two and three search engines are losing a great deal of market share to the Google giant. In the past, Google and Microsoft have been fiercely competitive. From competing web browsers to applications, Microsoft has jumped directly into Google’s game with the unveiling of their new search engine in summer of 2009.
Does Bing Size Up?
The commercials seem promising, but does Bing really size up to Google? Formerly Windows Live Search and MSN Search, the new search engine has boldly labeled themselves as the “decision engine”. Some experts believe that Bing is a great improvement from what it used to be, and that it has the potential to threaten Google’s success. While the size of that threat is arguable, Bing offers relevant results that are competitive to those of Google. Another obstacle for Bing to overcome is attempting to win over loyal Google users. Bing is relatively young to Google and time will tell whether or not their technology and measurable marketing efforts will pay off.
Although Google is all we hear about when it comes to search engines, the market outside of the United States is drastically different. For example, did you know that AltaVista is the number one preferred search engine in Canada? The Swiss prefer Abacho, while China is no stranger to altogether banning access to Google. Google is great at recognizing competitors and making valuable additions to their company. Did you know that Google acquired Google Earth from a smaller company in 2004? New technology is emerging all the time and Google is definitely keeping their eyes peeled for new competitors.