Is Video Chat the Next Social Networking Trend?

facebook video chatEveryday, social media networking is becoming more personal. So, does video chat sound like a good thing? Facebook thinks so as they unveiled their new joint venture with Skype today.

Video isn’t a new idea but Apple fans still went crazy over the FaceTime feature, which was the selling point of Apple’s iPhone 4 last summer. For now, there are many one on one chat services but look for group video chats and conferencing in the future. This way, businesses can really get into the game of using video chat as a communication tool.

I don’t expect to be using video chat anytime soon but I think it can be a helpful tool if utilized properly. Other critics pointed out that Skype and Google Video Chat have been around for a long time, so this new feature wouldn’t necessarily be considered “groundbreaking” on Facebook’s part.

What do you think of video chat from the perspective of the consumer and business? I could see this being useful to complement webinars, Tweetups and other social networking events.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

The Value of a Facebook Fan

How much is a Facebook Fan really worth? When it comes to Facebook marketing, this is an answer that all business owners would like to know.

However, it’s more difficult to calculate ROI on social media marketing because post impressions, Likes and comments can’t always be directly tied to dollar and cents. Many have tried and here are some interesting results:

  • Last summer, Syncapse found the value of a Facebook fan to be approximately $136.38.
  • Earlier, Mashable calculated that a Facebook fan was worth approximately $3.60.

Although all these numbers, formulas and stats are interesting, I don’t think that most local businesses can benefit from these facts. In fact, obsessing over these numbers could really distract from your marketing strategy. To me, this is like focusing on SEO ranking reports without looking at other factors, such as search volume.

Like many other forms of online advertising, Facebook marketing can’t just be analyzed through one factor because one of the most important ones is pretty intangible and that is potential.

That’s why I found this recent study by Hitwise to be so interesting. According to the study focusing on retailers, 1 Facebook fan means about 20 additional visits to your website over the course of one year. I find this to be useful because it comes from another angle on website traffic and doesn’t focus so much on the  $$$. This study also puts customer loyalty into perspective and that is also another important factor that you can improve by using social media.

Do you think these numbers and studies about the value of a Facebook Fan really hold true? In the end, it’s about how much your Facebook fans matter to you and what you want to do about it.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

This Week in Social Media: Twitpics, Hamburgers, & You

Do You Know What Happens to Your Twitpics?

Last week, we discussed Twitter’s photo search. This week, I came across an interesting article about Twitpic’s terms of service. Many people may not know or care all together. Apparently, when you use this service to upload and share your photos, Twitpic has permission (or rather, given itself permission) to pass your photos off to third parties. Many people speculate that Twitpic has added this to its terms in an attempt to make money from photos tweeted by celebrities or photos tweeted of celebrities. Or maybe even breaking news stories? Although it’s slogan is, “Share photos on Twitter”… it should be more like, “Share photos with Twitter”! In other words: before you Twitpic, think carefully!

Everyone Loves Burger Week

No holidays to promote your business? Make one up! This wOinkster burger weekeek is official Burger Week at a local Eagle Rock hotspot. The Oinkster, has made quite a name for itself by taking on signature classics of other famous hamburger joints – such as the Big Mac and Umami Burger. With CBS, LA Weekly, LAist and more picking up on this story, The Oinkster has reached above and beyond in the world of local news and social media. If you check out Twitter search results, there are non-stop tweets as eager fans await another tasty burger of the day.

This is a great promotional campaign because it can be translated well into so many different mediums. Although word spreads quickly through social media, this will also spark word of mouth recommendations. And when it’s over, the buzz still won’t stop. I look forward to people posting blog posts, Yelp reviews and Flickr pictures based on this magical burger experience. Remember, these will all help your business SEO-wise in the long run!

On Display at Your Very Own Museum

Speaking of magic, have you seen Intel’s creative Museum of Me? It has been a top social media news story this week and for good reason. Whether it’s intrigue or just plain fun, social media users love to feel like they are part of something more. Intel’s campaign does a fantastic job of showcasing users’ connections to their social network in a simple way. (Oh yeah, and they also promise not to store your Facebook information). This ad campaign is successful because it reminds users WHY they want to use your product in the first place.

Do you have any favorite social media stories of the week?

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Why Should Businesses Blog?

blog

For most people blogging can be seen as an enjoyable way to showcase your creativity. But what about businesses? Is there really a point in business blogging? The answer is, YES – of course!

Blogging is great for your business and you an also express your brand in an unlimited platform. Before all the fancy social media sites were available, blogging was it and nowadays, it’s still the foundation of social sharing. If you’re still  not convinced of the power of blogging, hopefully these reasons will help convince you otherwise!

  1. Attract local customers – If you have a small business, it’s important to be connected to the neighborhood, events and its people. If you’re part of your city/town’s Chamber of Commerce, you can extend your local efforts when blogging. Whether you’re focusing on promoting local business, participating in family events, volunteering for notable causes or just sharing fun company events, blogging  will help give your brand a personal touch. The upside is that you’ll be able to promote this content on multiple social networking sites so that the SEO power doesn’t stop just at your blog.
  2. Dominate the competition – As a small business, you can use blogging to set yourself apart from the competition. Relevant and regular blogging will help if your competitors aren’t blogging (or blogging consistently as you do). Use geographic key terms to get that edge and over time, this permanent asset can bring your site more traffic.
  3. Showcase your knowledge – Learning is a big part of blogging. When you write useful information that’s intended to help others, it also benefits your business. It can reinforce what you already know in your area of expertise, as well as learn more about other things and what your peers are doing.
  4. Serves as a reminder. Forcing yourself to blog can be a pain if you don’t have the time. Ultimately, blogging is a great way to remind customers that you’re still around and that you’re still relevant. Blogging keeps you on your toes and also serves a great self-reminder as to why you’re still in business!

If you can handle blogging in house, more power to you! There are also outside help that can assist with your SEO  efforts. Contact us if you’re interested in how blogging and keyword advertising can help your business grow.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Do You Need Help with Social Media?

Before you hire a social media marketing company, there are a few things to consider.

Social Media Misconceptions

facebook scam

First off, it’s important to understand that using social media doesn’t guarantee success. It’s incredible how many times I’ve heard people say something along these lines, “I’ve heard you can make A LOT of money using Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t know how”. Remember those Google scams from the early 2000s? – “I’ve made thousands with Google by working from home!” Perhaps, scams like these are the reason why people have this idea implanted into their head. And now, these have moved on into the world of Facebook and Twitter. So, if you ever see anything like this ad below, remember to avoid it!

If you don’t have enough time or manpower to put effort into your social media accounts, how can you expect your campaign to succeed?

Areas of Expertise

If your industry requires special attention, it’s important to bring up concerns and questions that you might have. Social media isn’t the same across the board. For example, handling social media for health-related businesses greatly differs from from promoting e-commerce sites or local businesses. Managing a health business’ campaign can be more complicated than just advertising the sales and other promotions of a more traditional business. Ideally, you would hire a firm with experience and success with businesses in your industry.

Do Your Research

Social media is NOT like other aspects of online marketing of SEO, PPC or web design/development. Perhaps, the scary thing about it is the element of the unknown and needing to have time and resources to monitor these social interactions. Why do you think big corporations have entire teams of people dedicated to social media? Before you hire someone to handle your social media campaigns, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re getting yourself into. Perhaps, the saddest story I’ve heard is that of a relatively big business who signed a contract to outsource their social media marketing. Hundreds of dollars later, all they got were a handful of irrelevant and disconnected Facebook updates. Social media is neither an afterthought or a business live saver, so make your decision wisely!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Ning for Social Media Marketing

ning social media Of all the popular social media marketing sites, Ning may not be as well known but things look like they’re quickly changing.

Ning is a social networking site with an appealing slogan – “Create your own social network for anything.” If I were to describe it, I would say that it’s a mish-mash of a blog, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and maybe even MySpace, all rolled into one.

Unlike other “free” services like Facebook, Ning has a different (paid) business model. This means that you’re more likely to see corporate and professional pages. Many people don’t like the idea of a paid service but I see that it has many advantages. For one, there’s not diluted with spambots and other bugs. Discussion and engagement seems more natural and enthusiastic.

Maybe that’s why it comes as no surprise that non-profits and other worthy causes have chosen Ning as its primary platform. Check out Martha Stewart’s Dreamers Into Doers and Amanda de Cadenet’s page dedicated to body image and other women’s issues. I see that these sites are strong examples of what Ning excels in. As for businesses, (especially small businesses), I’m not entirely sure the potential is all there yet, especially since it’s a paid service. But that is the point that Ning is trying to make as it’s straying away from being grouped as another Facebook or Twitter wannabe.

Ning has differentiated itself from competitors and in a major way. Revenue is reportedly up a whopping 400% from last year. Let’s see if Ning can continue to keep its thing going on and if it will catch on with more businesses.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

The Many Faces of Social Media

When you think about the purpose of social media, what first comes to your mind? Nowadays, I don’t think there’s one “right” answer because social media is useful in so many ways. Let’s take a look at the different faces of social media:

The microblogger – When Twitter first came out, it was all about microblogging this and microblogging that. Today, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are amongst the many that have their very own microblogging service. If you don’t have enough time devoted to blogging, this is an excellent alternative.

The customer service representative – Another great thing about social media is that you can keep tabs on what customers are saying about your brand and respond quickly. Did you know that customers can skip the waiting (and awful hold music) by tweeting their problems? Time Warner Cable, for example, has a team of staff members solely for this purpose.

The salesperson – The immediacy and wide audience of social media sites give you the ability to promote your business 24/7. Sort of like a salesperson who never sleeps and isn’t as annoying. Well, maybe. Even though social media sites give you the opportunity to self promote, it doesn’t mean that you should overuse and abuse it.

The promotion team – Customers love to be appreciated as much as they like good deals. This is where your social media strategy can focus on promotions. From coupons to contests, this is the best way to drum up some good publicity and create customer interest in your brand.

The social butterfly – Sometimes, social media is just that – social. Have you ever wondered why trending topics on Twitter seem so random? It’s because it’s a result of some tedious, strategic marketing plan but rather, an organic outcome of what happens when people communicate together online. Savvy businesses are the ones who use this to their advantage and join in the most-talked about conversations.

In the end, social media doesn’t necessarily have to play all these roles for your business. There’s a lot of room for flexibility and growth so that you can find out which suits you best. Which one do you think is most important and why?

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Why You Should Never Immediately Delete a Negative Comment

If you receive a negative comment, reply or message on any of your social media profiles, your first instinct would probably be to delete it before anyone sees it. But you can turn this negative into positive if you resist the urge to delete.

Resisting the Urge

Let’s say you do get rid of the comment – you’ll also immediately lose the chance of getting more information about that customer and getting to the root of their (and your) problem. As much as we’d like it to, deleting this comment won’t make the angry customer go away. What’s even worse is failing to recognize if your business or employees have wronged a customer. We’ve all heard that a satisfied customer might tell a few of their friends about your business. But an unhappy customer will go out of their way to let the whole world know!

Making Your Problems Worse

In fact, it could make your online reputation problems even worse. Have you ever heard of a little thing called Ripoff Report? This site is notorious for publishing all types of uncensored complaints from customers. The real kicker is that they NEVER (or almost never) remove these complaints, whether it’s unwarranted or not.  So, before you know it, that one quip on Facebook could turn into a permanent black mark on your brand’s name.

A Quick Response is Better

If you delete a customer’s comment, it will only make them more angry and ensure that you’ll lose their business. Instead, try to reach out on the public forum to show that you take customer service concerns very seriously. Converting a once unsatisfied customer could turn them into a new brand ambassador for your business, and at they may even follow up on their initial complaint. The bottom line is that you need to show that you’re paying attention to their comments and complains instead of just trying to make them disappear.

With the instantness and speed of social media sites, it’s important to learn about how to respond to all types of comments. Oh yeah, don’t forget to keep everyone on your team up to date about the response protocol. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open so that you won’t have to fear a negative comment again!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

4 Reasons Social Media Just Isn’t Working for You

social media failMany people think that social media is a cure-all to their business woes. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you’re  struggling with social media efforts, it doesn’t mean that you should give up. But rather, take the time to look at some top reasons why it might not be working out for you:

  1. You think social media can replace blogging and SEO content.
    As I’d like to think of it, a little blogging can go along way. While a little time spent on social media isn’t very effective. Your SEO content is a permanent asset that will help you as the days/weeks/years go by while the timely for social media is very time-sensitive and more fleeting. Take a look at how they can work together instead of choosing one over the other.
  2. You don’t have enough time and lack management.
    The briefness and spontaneity of social media updates make it seem so “easy”. But, for social media to be most effective, you need to involve as many people/departments as possible. From sales, web designers, writers to your CEO, it’s important to have a coordinated view of your social media plan and goals.
  3. You don’t know where to go.
    Social media news and usage can often mean information overload. Instead of trying to diversify and being everywhere halfheartedly at once, why not try a few platforms and specialize?
  4. You might need to reevaluate your business model.
    As the sayings go, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. You can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey and you can’t polish a… well, you get the point. If you have problems with your business and are looking at social media as a way to put a superficial spin on it, chances are that it won’t work – for long anyways.

The best thing about social media is its potential to amplify your online presence. Trying things out for yourself and experimenting doesn’t hurt and you can always learn from your mistakes and successes. It also helps that you can take a good look at what your competitors are and aren’t doing as you try your hand at the social media game.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

What the Fark?

Fark

StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, Digg… I could go on and on when it comes to social aggregation and bookmarking sites. Although these sites are all a little bit different from each other, Fark stands out on an off-beat class of its own.

When you arrive on the site, you’ll see that Fark focuses on what it calls “Not News“. This means all outrageous topics, from politics to humor. A standout factor is that Fark stories are exclusively chosen by the site’s editors – unlike other sites where users are allowed to submit and vote on/rate content. Have you used Fark and what do you think it can do for small business owners?

This isn’t a run-of-the-mill place to submit your SEO content. Go ahead, browse for yourself and see what types of articles are featured on Fark. How about “The newest extreme sport: Daredevil lawn mower racing. ‘Ready, Set, Mow‘” by Mother Nature Network? Sure, there are a lot of funny pictures and bizarre lists on Fark, but many sites are turning to eye-catching headlines to bring new life to otherwise mundane articles. If you have some fresh content with a side of wit, it won’t hurt to submit your story to Fark. Did I mention how much Fark loves pun-y headlines?

Sometimes, words are just words but with Fark, you’ll see the viral effect of an interesting story that you just can’t reach by only using “traditional” types of online marketing.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.