You’ve Got to be Kidding Me! Privacy on the Internet

Privacy is something no one should assume while surfing the Internet. EVERY SINGLE move you make on the Internet is recorded on numerous server logs around the world. The only expectation of anonymity comes from the fact that the sheer volume of data is so overwhelming that honing in on your data is unlikely.

Unless . . .

Unless you are on someone’s radar. Then following you is as easy as putting a “Follow me” sign on your back and having someone follow you.

Yet even knowing this I have been astonished lately. On February 1st my tablet – which doesn’t have a cellular service plan on it – notified me through Google that I had only walked four miles in January but eight in December. No, I don’t have a pedometer app installed. No I didn’t ask for Google to tell me this information. No I have no idea why they decided to tell me this. They did tell me that they collected this information through location information that Google uploads from time. But of course with no cell information I’m still baffled. I’m guessing that it tracks me until I drop off of wifi on my way to and from the car.

Over a month ago the facebook app on my tablet told me I needed to agree to new permissions for it to update itself. I looked at a few of the permissions and balked. Yesterday I tried to open FB and it informed me it wouldn’t work until I updated it.

Here are the permissions that I had to agree to for Facebook to update:

  1. Allow Facebook to read my text messages
  2. Add and modify calendar items – WITHOUT MY KNOWING about the changes
  3. Connect and disconnect from wifi
  4. Modify and delete items from USB media
  5. Record audio
  6. Get my location
  7. Take pictures and videos
  8. Add and remove accounts on my device, create accounts and set passwords
  9. Modify social media contacts, read my call log, read my contacts
  10. Download files without notification

Some of those are rather disturbing. Why on earth would Facebook want to change my calendar without me knowing? Why should Facebook delete files from USB media? I can see it now. I have my presentation all ready to deliver and Facebook decides it isn’t good enough and deletes it?

Why would Facebook need to control my camera? Are they going to surreptitiously take pictures and videos of me? I can’t wait to see the picture of me picking my nose posted for me.

I might even be willing to grant Facebook this access – they are a private company after all and they’ve promised to keep my information secure. But thanks to Edward Snowden we know that the government has access to pretty much all the data that large firms like Google and Facebook have access to. Which disturbs me. Does it disturb you?

10 Reasons You Don’t Need a New Website

Top Ten ListThat’s right. I’m not here to talk you INTO buying a new web site. I’m here to tell you why you don’t really need one:

  1. You paid for a whole new web site five years ago
  2. Websites don’t generate new customers, good salespeople do that
  3. Somebody told me I’d have to write something called a blog. Regularly. Not going to happen. Don’t need it.
  4. You’re not Amazon or eBay – you’re not selling products, you offer a service
  5. I had someone give me a quote for a site. $20,000 sounds like an awful lot. Especially when I get emails everyday telling me I can get a site for $100.
  6. You’ve been in business for more than 10 years and you haven’t needed one yet, why should you get one now?
  7. Your competitors have all had web sites for many years. You’d just be spending time and money trying to catch up to them.
  8. You’re only open 40 hours a week. If you had a web site it could give the appearance that you’re open 24/7.
  9. You’re too small for a brand. You don’t really have a brand so there is nothing to “put out there” for the world to see.
  10. People in your area need your product, not people far away so why give them an opportunity to buy it online?
  11. BONUS: Everyone else has a web site – you can stand out by not having one.

Have you heard these? Have you heard them coming out of your own mouth? If one or more of these reasons belongs to you, then I say, “Welcome to 1995”.

The reality is you do need a web site. A good one. One that is less than five years old, reflects who you are as a company or business, shows to all visitors that you are legitimate, builds up your brand – whatever your brand is, and what about those $100 websites or even the free ones? You’ll end up looking cheap. Is that your brand? 

So if after reading this you decide you really do want a web site despite all these great reasons to the contrary, give us a call at 303 268-2245.

 

 

Which Big Brother is Watching?

When I was a kid I understood that concern over big brother watching was that the government would be prying into every part of our lives and monitoring what we do. That threat still exists and is encroaching more and more but there are now other “big brothers” that we need to watch out for.

There are two companies that know more about you than you might realize. One is Facebook. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Facebook can tell what sites you’re on, even if you’re no longer logged in to Facebook. The scary part, from my point of view, is what the director of engineering says – what really matters is “What we say as a company and back it up”. But, even if they include this tracking capability in their terms of service, who’s to say they won’t change their terms of service on us?

I’m a big fan of Facebook and use it every day. I leave the browser open and switch back to it at various times. I’m not saying stop using Facebook. I am saying that we, as users of this service, need to be aware of what they are doing and continue to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they aren’t abusing their access to our lives and information.

Right now the biggest “big brother” in my life is Google. Google goes with me everywhere. Google knows where I am at all times. Google knows what I’m searching for, what sites I visit, who my friends are, and a whole lot more. Here are just a few of the ways that Google has access to my (and perhaps your) information:

  • My Droid phone has GPS enabled
  • I have a Google account on my computer and web history enabled
  • Whenever I visit a site with Google Analytics installed, Google has the capability of seeing that it is me visiting the site.
  • When I do a search on Google, it provides me local results even if I’m not logged in (tracks my location by my IP address).
  • Google serves up personalized ads when I’m reading my gmail account – ads based on the content of the emails. Are they reading my email?
  • When I had Google+ on my phone, it AUTOMATICALLY uploaded all videos and images to my account. Think about how interesting that could become!

So as you use these technologies, remember that Big Brother is watching. And decide how to use it accordingly.

Social Media Engagement Strategies

I often encourage and cajole people to post to social media whether it be blogging, Facebook, Twitter or some other medium. It’s just like when I was a kid back in Nebraska – we had to shower once a year whether we needed it or not. You need to post to your social media regularly – far more than once a year. Yet I often see blogs or Facebook pages that have been orphaned and left to whither. Usually when I see that I can tell someone didn’t have a strategy.

We recommend blogging on a weekly basis or more frequently. For a corporate Facebook account, your blog should feed into it so you have at least one weekly update. Beyond that, it really depends on your strategy and plans for engagement.

So what are some possible engagement strategies?

  1. Post bleeding edge information – this obviously requires you to be on the bleeding edge of your industry.
  2. Share important information about developments in your business that your friends / followers / customers would be interested in. We do this when we finish a big project, for example.
  3. Post video showing you or your people engaged in your industry. You can even try video blog posts although you need to remember that video isn’t as easily indexed by search engines.
  4. You can ask questions or take surveys but you want to make sure that you’ll actually have engagement as you do this. There is nothing more lonely that asking a question only to discover you’re the only one in the room.
  5. Post success stories and other anecdotes about your business that illustrate the excellence of your goods or services.

There are a lot more than these five strategies for success with social media engagement. But starting with these you can get the ball rolling.

Lessons from Conan O’Brien

I’ve never been a fan of Conan O’Brien’s style of humor. But I am now a fan of Conan. CNN Money did a story on how Conan O’Brien turned a “failure” into a new lease on life. I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in how to use social media and in understanding how YOU or YOUR COMPANY is a brand to be nurtured and marketed in new ways.

I learned or re-learned four lessons from reading this article that pertain very specifically to social media marketing:

  1. The old media mindset doesn’t work with digital media – a given time slot (11:35 PM) is old media. Realizing that fans will interact with you whether they watch (and tweet) on TV or watch clips on Facebook or from Twitter is the digital media mindset.
  2. For the kind of content Conan provides, real life fans are eager to become Twitter followers or Facebook fans (or likers).
  3. A strong brand can sell on social media very well – Conan’s 30 city tour sold out. Their method of advertising? Sending out Tweets. Cost = $0.
  4. Failure is an option. Sometimes it is the best option. By “failing” on the Tonight Show, he was in a situation where he and his team could think differently. So they did. And now instead of the old media bosses being in charge, like at NBC, Conan and Team Coco are in charge and blazing the trail that other artists will be sure to try to follow.

I would encourage you to think about what has driven your dream or ideal forward. Does it still make sense in the year 2011? What could you try differently? Want some help thinking this through? Give me (Brian) a call at 303 268-2245 x. 4 and we’ll help you learn what you could do differently.

Cultivating Customer Relationships Online

One of the most difficult things for most of us to wrap our minds around is that the cyber world of Social Media Marketing works very much the same as the physical world of marketing. Relationships rule. Cultivating relationships online is not really all that different than cultivating relationships in the physical world.

We like to be remembered. We like to hear our name mentioned. We like the personal touch.

But because, in the cyber world, things CAN be automated, many people do so. I have left my Twitter direct message notification on (I get an email when someone direct messages me). Many of the people that I follow have an auto-responder on. Some of these can even capture my real name and send me a response. But the response is general and impersonal enough that I’m turned off by most.

What would be a good response? “Hey Brian, read your latest blog post. Interesting read.” That tells me you’re taking time on our relationship. I confess that I don’t do this often enough but it is taking time for REAL genuine interaction that engages people, lets them know you care, and leads to building a relationship that can turn into business.
How can you cultivate relationships online?

On Facebook:

  • Interact with fans / likers (FB has new ways they are rolling out where, they say, the Fan Page will be able to interact with users just like users can – making comments and liking other’s posts)
  • Accept friend requests and then browse through their friends to see if you have common acquaintances that you might not have connected with yet

On Twitter:

  • Take enough time to respond to followers – this is obviously important for potential customers – in a meaningful way. “Nice Tweet” isn’t particularly meaningful.
  • Follow those who follow you. I actually take time to click through to my followers profile to see who they are and what they tweet about. This would be a good time to retweet something good they’ve said, reply to a tweet or direct message them with a genuine message.

On LinkedIn:

  • If you have a good experience with someone, right a recommendation – everyone likes to have their praises sung to others.
  • Find a good group to join in – one where you can ask questions and learn and then contribute.
  • If there isn’t a group (look around first, there probably is) create your own group and invite connections to join you.

On Social Media:

  • Keep in mind that Social Media is two way communication
  • Keep in mind that folks might be hesitant to interact with your brand at first. Find creative ways to get them to start – ask your physical network to help get this started by making a comment or responding to a quiz.
  • Provide value. That means providing real content that you have created – not sharing someone else’s or simply copying other’s content (this is usually illegal as well).
  • Search out people you want to connect with – movers and shakers or even potential clients – and, once again, interact with them genuinely. Be honest about why you want to connect (I’ve been following your work / blog / Facebook page, etc and would like to connect directly).
  • Provide original content – I know I just said this but a lot of folks get hung up on this point. “I don’t have time.” “There’s nothing new in my industry” etc. I disagree. There is something unique about you as a company or individual that provides your unique selling proposition. Turn that into original content.

And I would be less than authentic if I didn’t tell you that EduCyber provides these kinds of services, whether it is helping you create a plan (Social Media Marketing Plan), setting up your accounts (Basic SMM setup), or actually implementing your Social Media Marketing plan, we can help. Give us a call at (303) 268-2245 ext. 4.
 

If the Queen can do it, so Should You

It really is time for you to get your business on to Facebook. How do I know this? The Queen of England now has her own Facebook page. Actually it is the British Monarchy but for all intents and purposes, that is the Queen.

You can do some of the many things the Queen is doing:

  • Show the world whatever you want about yourself – and being the British Monarchy, they don’t share a lot but what they do is out there for all to see.
  • Link to your Youtube account – who knew there was a Youtube account for the Queen? – and embed your videos in your Facebook page.
  • Link to your Twitter account – boy these stuffy royals sure know their Internet marketing
  • Link to your Flickr account so you can show off your pictures
  • Link to the prince’s web site. OK, so maybe there aren’t any princes associated with your business but you could link to key partners / vendors – in fact if this is done well it helps them and makes them look more kindly towards you.

If a “business” run by an 84 year old lady can get this engaged in Social Media in order to facilitate relationships and build up a public image, why shouldn’t you?

36 Ways to Market Your Web Site

  1. Put your web site on business card
  2. Incorporate your domain name into your letterhead
  3. Buy an ad in other ezines or email newsletters
  4. Engage in online communities and make sure you include your domain where appropriate (like in your signature)
  5. Include a link to your web site in your email signature
  6. Build a corporate Facebook page and post interesting information that links back to your site.
  7. Include a link to your site in your Twitter profile
  8. Include a link to your site in your Facebook profile
  9. Include a link to your site in your LinkedIn profile
  10. Include links to your site in your Tweets where appropriate
  11. Exchange links with a related site
  12. Develop an affiliate network where others get paid to market your site.
  13. Create press releases for anything new: staff, location, service, product, etc. Be    sure to mention the web site as the source for more information
  14. Write on your blog regularly (if your blog isn’t on your web site, include links to your site in each blog entry)
  15. Create an informercial video about something relevant to your company. Upload it to video sites like YouTube. Make sure the video finished with a link to the site and that the site is mentioned in the description.
  16. Create a podcast on a relevant topic and don’t forget to mention your web site in the audio.
  17. Use email marketing (like iContact or Aweber) to regularly communicate with your customers. Include links back to your web site
  18. Write guest blogs for other sites with links in the bio back to your site.
  19. Buy an ad in the local newspaper with your domain name as a prominent part of the ad
  20. Create a TV commercial and buy some spots on local TV. Include your URL in the ad.
  21. Run a radio ad that mentions your URL
  22. Create an amusing video that highlights how your company solves problems and make sure the video links to your site. Upload it to Youtube.
  23. Share company videos that you’ve uploaded on Twitter.
  24. Share company videos that you’ve uploaded on Facebook.
  25. Create a PowerPoint presentation about something your company is good at. Include your URL. Upload this file to a site like SlideShare.
  26. Create a new award like “Best <your industry service or product> in <your area>”. Advertise it on your web site asking for submissions / nominations.
  27. Create a press release to go with this new award and send it out to news organizations, pointing them to your site for more information.
  28. Use an email blast to all your subscribers to announce the new award and point them to the site for details.
  29. Read other blogs. Engage in that community by leaving comments (with a link back to your site)
  30. Devote time to write a really good white paper on a hot topic in your industry. Provide this as an incentive on your web site for users to sign up for your newsletter.
  31. Advertise this white paper on social media sites.
  32. Post the white paper download info on sites you have access to – don’t neglect chambers of commerce and other business organizations. They’ll often share your info for free.
  33. Offer a free seminar on a popular or useful topic. Post the details on your site and then refer people to the site for details.
  34. Use social media to promote your seminar and direct people to your site.
  35. Engage in or start a group on LinkedIn regarding your industry (better to engage in existing groups) or area of expertise. Establish yourself as an authority and regularly link back from the group to a pertinent part of your web site.
  36. Blog about current events and tie them back into your topic.

 

9 Measurable Social Media Marketing Goals

It seems like I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention lately on helping understand or plan out their goals. Whether it be goals for a new web site or social media marketing goals, it is absolutely critical to have goals and then . . . wait for it . . . actually measure them.

So if your goal is to get more business you’re going to have to refine it just a tad. Otherwise when you get one new customer you will have reached your goal. But what it a good measurable goal for social media marketing? That’s the heart of the matter for most folks. What does a goal look like?

Here are 9 measurable goals for social media that, if they don’t work for you, will hopefully spark something that will work:

  1. 200 more followers on Facebook. This is definitely measurable simply check today and at the end of the time period and see what the change is.
  2. 20 retweets a week on Twitter. This will help you figure out what really gets a lot of attention. Last week’s blog on “5 Biggest Social Media Marketing Mistakes” for example caught a lot of attention.
  3. 15% more click thru’s from Social Media sites to your main web site. This is pretty easy to see how it would translate into more business.
  4. 4. 20% increase in “fans” who “like” your posts on Facebook. Like #2, this will help you figure out what gets people’s attention.
  5. 5. 20 check-ins a week on Foursquare (this is a great site for location based businesses like restaurants, bars or coffee shops). Again, this is easily measured and if you’re getting folks checking in, it gives you a chance to interact – give them a to do while they’re there.
  6. 30 newsletter signups each month directly from Facebook. Check out FBML and learn how to add html to your page.
  7. 10 sales each week from Twitter. You need to be careful about pushing the business too hard in social media but with the right plan and the right product(s) it could work well.
  8. 4 leads each week generated through social media (best tracked if you create a separate landing page for social media). This is more marketing-focused but could really boost your business.
  9. 15% decrease in returns because of customer outreach through social media. Took a different tack on this one to help you imagine the possibilities. It’s not necessarily directly sales related. If you’re saving costs on the backend, you’ll be more profitable.

Note that all nine of these are very measurable. Note also that these are just the goals. Once you have the goal established you need to develop the tactics you will employ to achieve your goal. What are your goals?
 

 

Your Company Reputation and Social Media Marketing

Question 9 of 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is How does my company reputation fit into Social Media Marketing. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it is ALL about your reputation.

Social Media Marketing is about engaging others and building long term relationships with others.  This enhances your reputation as a company and establishes you as a player in the long term plans of your potential and existing clients.

There are specific things you can and should do to both monitor and build your reputation:

1.       Set up a Google Alert (www.google.com/alert) for your company name. You can try it with or without quotes to see what kind of results you get.

2.       While both Google and Bing have agreements to include twitter in their results, we still recommend setting up a twitter account to monitor your company name / reputation on Twitter. TweetDeck can be used to do this. Monitter.com can also be used to help you do this.

3.       When your company is mentioned online, engage with the mentioner, whether the mention is good or bad. If the comment is negative, see if there is some way you can reach out and change their mind or provide some kind of remedy.

4.       If your company isn’t mentioned or isn’t mentioned much, don’t quit. Engage and you will find that it will begin to be used.

5.       Set up a Facebook fan page for your company. Plan what you want to happen and make sure you implement your plan.

Why do it? Facebook has 300 million plus users. Twitter has around 60 million users.  You won’t find all of them becoming your customers but you will find a sizeable number that you can interact with to broaden your network.