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Who’s Using Twitter? Do You (and Your Business) REALLY Know? October 19, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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You’ve probably heard of the Morgan Stanley report that declares “teenagers do not use Twitter,” based on a sample size of one 15 year-old intern named Matthew Robson. Morgan Stanley rightfully disclosed that they do not claim that his study is representational or merits statistical accuracy, so we thought we could provide both with our NetRatings panel of 250,000 U.S. Internet users.

Twitter’s footprint has expanded impressively in the first half of 2009, reaching 10.7 percent of all active Internet users in June. Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of Twitter.com website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that Twitter.com effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent.

While the metrics in the chart above only represent the website and branded “front door” of Twitter, it would be a big stretch to assume that the gap in the youth demographic is being made up via other clients and platforms. For example, more than 90 percent of popular Twitter client Tweetdeck’s audience is over 25.  Furthermore, Twitter.com’s reach is 6.6 percent for kids, teens and young adults, whereas it is 12.1 percent for those over 25; implying that adults are trying Twitter at nearly double the rate.  To see more detailed information regarding Twitter demographics, click HERE, HERE and HERE.

But does it really matter if the kids don’t get it? The fact remains that Twitter has grown to be a major online presence and is being driven forward by significant buzz. To illustrate this point: the volume of Twitter mentions on blogs, message boards and forums has reached the same level as Facebook, a property four times its size. We’ve also seen that Twitter’s growth is very highly influenced by buzz around current events as they are happening such as the Iran election or the death of Michael Jackson. All it takes is one celebrity or major news story to rekindle the Twitter buzz machine, but do these one-off shifts create one-time curiosity seekers or lead to more permanent users?  That’s the unanswered question.

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Portions of this article were posted originally in Nielsen News.

5 Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses October 13, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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by Samir Balwani

Social media marketing and the businesses that utilize it have become more sophisticated. More small businesses are beginning to understand how to best leverage online tools to build a community and recognize that engagement and interaction are the foundations of social marketing, but most don’t know what’s next.  What follows are five advanced strategies for small businesses that may already have small online communities and understand how to create an online presence, but don’t know what to do next.

What Is An Advanced Strategy?

The definition of an advanced social strategy is a technique that goes beyond the normal social media presence. It introduces or reinforces a marketing message while pushing a user to another profile or business site. Before moving forward with an advanced strategy, it’s important that your business understands social marketing, has experience engaging consumers, and that you possess a basic understanding of online marketing.

Strategy 1: Multimedia Usage

The term “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Consumers are now using the web to look for product pictures and videos; they want more information and want to see what they’re considering buying. The good news is that it’s easy for a company to create and publish videos and pictures.

In addition to taking photos of products, you can also take pictures at office events as a way to highlight company culture. This not only helps convince others to work with you or to buy from you (consumers see that you are down to earth and one of them, instead of a stuffy company), it also helps your HR department recruit new employees. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that celebrates birthdays and has a good time?   

Videos are useful for explaining complex how-tos or concepts. Showing step-by-step directions can have a greater impact than even the most well written article. Businesses don’t have to invest huge sums of money to create good videos, either. I highly recommend the relatively cheap Flip camcorder, which takes great videos and is easy for even a non-technical marketer to use.  Multimedia can break down the faceless business-to-consumer sales flow and make your company appear friendlier. Use videos and images to show that your business is fun, you care about your employees, and most importantly, that you care about your customers.

Example: WorldMusicSupply.com

WorldMusicSupply.com, an online retailer of musical instruments and accessories, has used YouTube to build a strong online community. Their channel has built over 7,000 subscribers and has over 260,000 views.

Strategy 2: Integrate Offline and Online Advertising

Many small businesses do some sort of offline advertising, whether it be radio, print, or cable. Social marketing allows a business to extend their offline sales pitch.  Including your Facebook Page, Twitter ID or blog URL in offline ads act as social proof, inviting potential consumers to see your community and increase trust in your business. Not only can integrating online and offline advertising help the conversion process, but it can also help build your community. Introducing potential consumers to your social profiles means they may join your community now and buy later.

Strategy 3: Message Adaptation

As businesses start to become more sophisticated with social media they are starting to leverage more online platforms.  However, most deliver the same message over multiple platforms instead of tailoring communications for each individual site.

Social platforms each have an ecosystem of their own. What might be acceptable on Tumblr might be considered spam on Facebook.  A specific style of writing might spread on Twitter but fail on FriendFeed.  Understanding that each site is different and then customizing your message ensures they do well on each respective site.

Not only does customizing messages across sites help the message spread but it keeps users from receiving multiple identical communications. Be sure to maximize your potential by sending a user that follows the business on Twitter and Facebook two different messages, instead of the same thing.

Strategy 4: Local Social Networks, Beyond Yelp

For a small business, local search can be a big win. Being visible to consumers looking for a business in their area is extremely important. Make sure your site is included in local business directories in order to help ensure that consumers find you when they need you. Sometimes finding that many sites can be difficult, however. First, make sure you check your competitors.

Where are they listed? Check their inbound links to check for business directories you can add yourself to. Also, make sure your business has been added to Google Maps, using the Local Business Center.  Take the time to include all the information you can and update any old news. For many consumers, this will be their first interaction with the business.

Example: Bella Napoli in New York

Bella Napoli is a small pizzeria in New York that has done a great job of making sure they appear in as many local searches as possible.

Strategy 5: Contests and Discounts

Building a community is only the first part of social marketing. Using that community to drive sales, propagate marketing, or crowdsource operations is the true power of social media. One way to excite the community is to collectively do something to create a contest or offer an exclusive discount (i.e., the contest can create competition between users). Not only does a contest build buzz organically but if contestants need to, for example, publish an article that gets the most comments in order to win, the contest itself becomes viral.

A good social media contest should include some sort of sharing or virality as a requirement for winning.  Discounts are also a great way to connect with your community. By giving exclusive coupons to your social community, you’re rewarding and reminding them that you are not only a brand to engage with, but also to buy from.

Example: NetFirms.com

NetFirms.com decided to make it easier to register a domain by allowing people to do it via Twitter. Those who participated or spread the word by tweeting, were also entered into a prize drawing.

Conclusion

Creating a basic social media presence is easy enough, getting your community to actually do something is more difficult. Taking advantage of these strategies can help you build your community, make your marketing more effective, and incentivize buying.

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Samir Balwani is an emerging technology strategist at Morpheus Media, a firm specializing in Social Marketing, SEM, and SEO. 

You can follow him on Twitter @leftthebox and get his newsletter.

Social Media Measurement Tools to Determine Value / ROI August 11, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Social Media graphicWhile many of the Social Media tools are free to use, there is a cost involved in the time for development of the Social Media profiles and on-going management of Social Media activities.  Measuring that cost with respect to results against goals that have been identified will determine whether or not your Social Media strategy has provided an ROI at the level expected, and how it stacks up against more traditional methods of Marketing.  To help you achieve an accurate analysis of Social Media results that can be measured against those goals, please review the article below for a variety of tools to assist you.
Should you be interested in developing a Social Media strategy for your firm which has the ability to achieve a significant ROI against company goals, we at Strategic Growth Concepts would be happy to assist you.  Please contact us via our Website or via email at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule your FREE initial consultation.
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by Jye Smith

3 Steps to Picking the Right Social Media Measurement Tools

  1. Understand business outcome
  2. Identify the social media activity
  3. Analyse the relationship between social media activity and business outcome

Then pick a tool.

I cannot stress enough how important it is though, to understand that relationship between social media activity and business outcome. That’s where the expertise is, that’s where the ROI is.

Which tools do I use to measure social media?

This would have to be the most asked question of the lot – but honestly, it’s like asking how long is a piece of string. Last night I presented at Social Media Club Sydney (slides and notes now available) and still there was a call to look at which tools. Which one are essential to me? Google Analytics and Bit.ly for starters.  Katie Chatfield has done a presentation to look at some of the tools available – and you’ll instantly see how overwhelming it can be. But that’s ok – because you need to know what you are valuing first, and look at the tools  last.

MeasurementCamp also published another list of social media tools you can use:

  1. Addictomatic A cool search engine that aggregates rss feeds into a nice visual dashboard
  2. Blogpulse Blog search engine with conversation tracker tool
  3. Boardreader Search forums and message boards
  4. Boardtracker Forum search engine offering instant alerts
  5. Buzzmonitor Embeddable widget showing recent instances of your search term
  6. Compete.com Comparable site metrics for any website
  7. Del.ici.ous Social bookmarking engine. Search by tags and subscribe to feed results
  8. Facebook lexicon Searches facebook walls for words and phrases
  9. Google alerts Email updates of key search terms
  10. Google insights Compare search volume over time
  11. Google trends Compare search term trends
  12. Howsociable Gives a social media score for your brand, with email updates of your score.
  13. Ice rocket Blog search engine with results rss feed
  14. Newsflashr News search engine, presenting results in nice dashboard
  15. Sphere Related content widget
  16. Summize Search for keywords in ‘tweets’.
  17. Technorati Blog and social media search engine
  18. Twing Discussion board and forum search engine
  19. Twingly Spam free blog search engine
  20. Twitturly Track what urls people are talking about on twitter
  21. Xinu Shows how well your site is performing across different metrics. Also gives a site diagnosis.
  22. Quarkbase Fricking cool mashup tool
  23. Twitter Grader Enter your twitter username to get your grade and ranking
  24. Twist Graph Keyword trends in Twitter. Very cool.
  25. yExplore Not strictly social media, but easy access to see inbound links to a page.
  26. Trendpedia Excellent blog search engine that graphs results over time.
  27. Website Grader Not completely sure how accurate, but cool tool anyway!
  28. Yahoo Pipes Err, yeah, can’t believe I missed this off in the first place.
  29. Socialmention Real time UGC search engine, with social rank
  30. Bit.ly and Cli.gs – analytics for your tiny urls.

Mom-and-Pop Businesses Succeed with Social Media July 26, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Three weeks after Curtis Kimball opened his crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, he noticed a stranger among the friends in line for his desserts. How had the man discovered the cart? He had read about it on Twitter.
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Curtis Kimball, owner of a crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, uses Twitter to drive his customers to his changing location.

For Mr. Kimball, who conceded that he “hadn’t really understood the purpose of Twitter,” the beauty of digital word-of-mouth marketing was immediately clear. He signed up for an account and has more than 5,400 followers who wait for him to post the current location of his itinerant cart and list the flavors of the day, like lavender and orange creamsicle.

“I would love to say that I just had a really good idea and strategy, but Twitter has been pretty essential to my success,” he said. He has quit his day job as a carpenter to keep up with the demand.

Much has been made of how big companies like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast use Twitter to promote their products and answer customers’ questions. But today, small businesses outnumber the big ones on the free microblogging service, and in many ways, Twitter is an even more useful tool for them.

For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.

“We think of these social media tools as being in the realm of the sophisticated, multiplatform marketers like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, but a lot of these supersmall businesses are gravitating toward them because they are accessible, free and very simple,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who studies the Internet’s influence on shopping and local businesses.

Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth, he said, and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.

Umi, a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, sometimes gets five new customers a night who learned about it on Twitter, said Shamus Booth, a co-owner.

He twitters about the fresh fish of the night — “The O-Toro (bluefin tuna belly) tonight is some of the most rich and buttery tuna I’ve had,” he recently wrote — and offers free seaweed salads to people who mention Twitter.

Twitter is not just for businesses that want to lure customers with mouth-watering descriptions of food. For Cynthia Sutton-Stolle, the co-owner of Silver Barn Antiques in tiny Columbus, Tex., Twitter has been a way to find both suppliers and customers nationwide.

Since she joined Twitter in February, she has connected with people making lamps and candles that she subsequently ordered for her shop and has sold a few thousand dollars of merchandise to people outside Columbus, including to a woman in New Jersey shopping for graduation gifts.

“We don’t even have our Web site done, and we weren’t even trying to start an e-commerce business,” Ms. Sutton-Stolle said. “Twitter has been a real valuable tool because it’s made us national instead of a little-bitty store in a little-bitty town.”

Scott Seaman of Blowing Rock, N.C., also uses Twitter to expand his customer base beyond his town of about 1,500 residents. Mr. Seaman is a partner at Christopher’s Wine and Cheese shop and owns a bed and breakfast in town. He sets up searches on TweetDeck, a Web application that helps people manage their Twitter messages, to start conversations with people talking about his town or the mountain nearby. One person he met on Twitter booked a room at his inn, and a woman in Dallas ordered sake from his shop.

The extra traffic has come despite his rarely pitching his own businesses on Twitter. “To me, that’s a turn-off,” he said. Instead of marketing to customers, small-business owners should use the same persona they have offline, he advised. “Be the small shopkeeper down the street that everyone knows by name.”

Chris Mann, the owner of Woodhouse Day Spa in Cincinnati, twitters about discounts for massages and manicures every Tuesday. Twitter beats e-mail promotions because he can send tweets from his phone in a meeting and “every single business sends out an e-mail,” he said.

Even if a shop’s customers are not on Twitter, the service can be useful for entrepreneurs, said Becky McCray, who runs a liquor store and cattle ranch in Oklahoma and publishes a blog called Small Biz Survival.

In towns like hers, with only 5,000 people, small-business owners can feel isolated, she said. But on Twitter, she has learned business tax tips from an accountant, marketing tips from a consultant in Tennessee and start-up tips from the founder of several tech companies.

Anamitra Banerji, who manages commercial products at Twitter, said that when he joined the company from Yahoo in March, “I thought this was a place where large businesses were. What I’m finding more and more, to my surprise every single day, is business of all kinds.”

Twitter, which does not yet make money, is now concentrating on teaching businesses how they can join and use it, Mr. Banerji said, and the company plans to publish case studies. He is also developing products that Twitter can sell to businesses of all sizes this year, including features to verify businesses’ accounts and analyze traffic to their Twitter profiles.

According to Mr. Banerji, small-business owners like Twitter because they can talk directly to customers in a way that they were able to do only in person before. “We’re finding the emotional distance between businesses and their customers is shortening quite a bit,” he said.

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If after completing this article you’re still not certain how Twitter can be utilized to market your company, we would be happy to assist you in developing a customized program to promote your business.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Small Business July 16, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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Some content in this posting is from an article by Mya Frazier for Bankrate.com

A few years ago, using the Internet to market a small business simply meant to create a presence online with a simple, informational Web site.  Then came the demands of search engine optimization to ensure Google and Yahoo searches yielded top-ranked results for your company. Was your business’s Web site chock full of the key search terms that would bring it to the attention of customers?

Social Media graphicToday, social media is transforming the small-business marketing landscape. Social media are Web- or mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information. It’s not just for seeing who your high school sweetheart married. Businesses can tap into powerful networking sites and other social media to drive customers to their shops or companies.

If done right, small-business owners might even be able to slash their traditional marketing spending to zero. Writing blogs (short for “Web logs”) or on-going online commentary using social-networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, can provide inexpensive but powerful online marketing.

Because it’s free, people think it’s easy to create a social media presence. But this attitude can lead to missteps. So before you dive headlong into social media, take some time to observe the customs and social norms of these new forms of communications, says David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, a San Francisco-based firm that helps companies tell their story through social media.  “Also think about your strategy for effectively utilizing social media before you jump in,” says Linda Daichendt, CEO/Managing Consultant of Strategic Growth Concepts. “It’s easier to avoid costly mistakes before you begin than to correct them after they’ve done damage to your company’s reputation.”

“Think of social media as a cocktail party,” says, David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online. “You don’t go into the cocktail party and go into the middle room and scream at the top of your lungs and say, ‘Buy my products.’ … What works is you have some meaningful conversation first. And that’s just how social media works.”

If you decide to take the social-networking plunge, here are five ways to harness social media to help your business.

1. Use free sites. Use free online services, such as the mobile short-message site Twitter, and popular networking sites Facebook and MySpace, to post significant news, specials or events. For example, you run a small Italian restaurant with a loyal following. You could create a Twitter account and upload the lunch or dinner specials via “tweets,” or short messages of up to 140 characters, daily to customers’ smart phones or to other Web sites.

“All you have to do is give a (Twitter) handle and start a conversation. You could put the Twitter handle on the menu or in the restaurant,” says Chris Abraham, Abraham Harrison LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based digital public relations agency. Granted, social networking sites are still for early adopters.  “You aren’t going to get Aunt Matilda to tweet about the experience she had at dinner,” Abraham says.

Abraham considers Twitter one of the easiest ways for a newbie to social media to get started.  “It’s more challenging to do Facebook,” Abraham says. “You have to create a personal profile, create a page and so on. With Twitter, if you’re Joe Smith with Motorcycle Emporium, you don’t have to create a page. And you can create Twitter updates via a phone or mobile device easily.”

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” he says. “There are lots of people sold on really expensive solutions, but two of the best investments for reaching out to people and engaging with them are free on Twitter and Facebook.”

2. Shift marketing costs to social media. After learning how social networking operates, use social media to free up traditional marketing dollars for your small business by putting it online. You can quickly learn which of your Facebook or MySpace “friends” or online “group” members received and responded to your message.

Stanya Doty has cut her print marketing budget to zero. As owner of Simple Indulgences, a wine and high-end gift shop in Delaware, Ohio, she began using Facebook in December 2008 to communicate with her brother but quickly realized the online marketing possibilities.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there are so many people here,’ ” she says. Indeed, Facebook boasts 200 million users worldwide.  In April 2009, she began promoting monthly wine tastings via a Facebook page for the shop that quickly attracted 100 members. Combined with an e-newsletter created using the do-it-yourself, e-mail marketing Web site Constant Contact, she keeps enough buzz going about her shop that her advertising budget for local print ads no longer seemed necessary. She usually sends out about 700 e-mails, with the response rate sometimes reaching nearly 50 percent. It sure beats a postal mailing.  “If I sent out a postcard with postage and paid for all that, I’d still have no idea who read it and who threw it away,” she says.

Indeed, unlike a print ad, Doty gets instant, measurable results. “On Facebook, you can see who has responded to invites,” she says. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and I’m actually appealing to people that at first know me from the store and then hopefully … pass the word along throughout their networks.”

3. Do your own social-media optimization project. Learn about the competition in your industry and geographic region that are tapping social networking. Spark recommends starting by researching the competition in the major search engines — Google and Yahoo.

“Type in keywords and phrases that people would use to find you, like ‘plumber’ and ‘San Francisco.’ If you don’t appear in the top percentage of pages, take a look at the Website of those plumbers that do show up,” says Spark. “Look at their pages, and usually they will have a lot of content on their sites.”

To increase a business’s presence on the Internet, Spark advocates companies create blogs, newsletters and other articles on their sites to bolster the number of keywords — terms that search engines recognize — to boost their ranking in all-important Web searches.

“That’s the way people discover you,” he says. “Take that plumber in San Francisco. The right search terms might just be ‘clogged toilet and San Francisco.'”  “That tells me I should write … in my blog about how to fix a clogged toilet and mention that I am a plumber in San Francisco,” he says.

4. Take social-network marketing to the next level. Create and post richer content about what your customers would expect from someone in your business. Don’t view social media sites as a place to simply hype your wares. It’s a place for conversation.

“Social media is about earning attention,” says David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online.  “What’s most important is to forget about what your company does. Instead, think about the people who are buying your products. Simply hyping products and services online and in social media sites completely backfires. People are not looking for products but for something fun. They are looking to make connections,” Scott says.

So it’s all about having something interesting to say or show. It could be a blog, or a video on the video-sharing Website YouTube.

For example, if you’re a caterer, instead of talking about your service, create engaging culinary content. Imagine positioning yourself as a gourmet magazine on the Web, complete with links to a video you uploaded to YouTube.

“A caterer could create a blog with information about how to create a fantastic party, and each blog post or YouTube video could be another installment,” Scott says. “On the Web, you are what you publish and being on the Web is about publishing information.”

So back to that plumber faced with the prospect of dropping an expensive Yellow Pages listing but worried about customers not finding him if they have a burst pipe or a misfiring shower head. Scott recommends the plumber post a list of “the 100 home fixes for common plumbing problems.”

“All of a sudden you are going to get indexed very highly in the search engines, and people are going to share that content with their friends,” he says. “When someone puts an update on Facebook asking if anyone knows a good plumber in Boston, a friend might point to your content.”

5. Use blogging to drive search results and help new customers find you. Lately, blogging has gained greater attention, with the advent of “micro-blogging” on Twitter. But consider the time commitment and strategy before launching an account.

Even with the spread of micro-blogging, Abraham remains a big fan of traditional blogs, which are lengthier and show up on Web sites. In general, no matter what form the blog takes, it should be consistent over time.

“If you can’t keep up one (blog) post a day or 12 tweets a day, do one tweet every Thursday. Consistency in blogging or tweeting will create a relationship of trust with your followers or readers. Do it once a week, but for the next two years,” Abraham says.

And don’t spend extra money on blogging software, technical help, or a ghost writer for your blog.  To get started, sign up with WordPress.com or Blogger – both are free blogging platforms which are easy to use for beginners.

Additional opportunities within the social media environment include:  online radio shows on platforms such as BlogTalkRadio, social networking sites such as LinkedIN, Plaxo, and FriendFeed, and a wide variety of additional tools as well depending on your type of business.

Following these social media basics for small business will get your company started on the right road to gaining new customers and increased revenue via social media.

If after completing this article you’re still not certain what your company’s social media strategy should be, we would be happy to aid you in it’s development – and implementation if you would like.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Top 5 Twitter Analytical Tools July 9, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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As every marketer knows, if a marketing strategy is worth implementing, it’s worth measuring.  That includes social media strategies in spite of the fact that there is currently no cost involved in utilizing them.  It is still to your benefit to analyze the exposure that they are providing to your firm.  To help you in this endeavor, here is an excellent article that provides access to very useful tools to help you evaluate your company’s use of Twitter.  Check them out for yourself; you might be surprised at all the information they can provide you!

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by Ron Calleri, InventorSpot.com

What kind of footprint have you made in the Twitterverse? Do you know your Twitter ROI, your Twitter influence or stats that determine your Twitter psychographics? In the social media world, this data is becoming easier and easier to access as new analytical tools become available… and now you can track it.

Twitter Analysis Tools graphicBecoming more and more significant, social networking analytics will be used by companies to determine what type of consumer you are, and by prospective employees to consider you for hire. As a modernized version of the Kevin Bacon paradigm, social media has reduced our ‘connectivity to others’ from 6 to 3 degrees.

Most Twitter users are seeking exposure. Whether that reach is to sell a product or oneself, it’s up to the user. How they perform on Twitter to meet that goal will determine brand advocacy. The ones that work to perfect relationships and loyalty will thrive, while those that fall short of this goal tend to lose interest and drop off. One needs to know the value of the Twitter resource and the investment of time that is required to become a successful member of the Twitterverse.  

Similar to our every day lives, if one focuses on creating value, building transparency and becoming  authentic, the greater chance one has in making an impact on Twitter. I relate these personality traits to our newly elected president Barack Obama. He embodies these characteristics and could be the reason he was elected to highest office in the land  (also see previous blog that discusses Obama’s use of social networking)

So social networking analytics are the tools to both qualify and quantify our worth. Here, I have selected what I feel are the top five analytical tools that are available to us today. They will help us determine various aspects of our Twitter make-ups. Not totally perfected and some are still in beta format, I suggest you explore these tools to best analyze your brand and the value and reach of your tweets.

1) TwitterAnalyzer    
TwitterAnalyzer is one of the most comprehensive Twitter analyzer toolsTwitter Analyzer graphic out there. It tracks followers who are online when you are, number of readers that have been exposed to your message, your tweet habits, who is retweeting your updates, twitter follow statistics, growth rates, conversations being made about you, the size of your audience and your followers’ demographics. It will let you research the way your fellow tweeps behave. It will surface which messages they answer and which ones they paid attention to, drilling down to their occupations and which users and are in your line of work.

2) TwInfluence
TwInfluence is a  tool for measuring the combined influence of your Twitter account and followers, and then assessing your reach through the quality of Twinfluence graphicyour followers. Since all users and all followers are not created equal, this analysis will determine the “horizon of communication” that extends beyond your own direct contacts. This is demonstrated whenever somebody “retweets” your message and its influence begins to create ripple effect throughout the Twitterverse. TwInfluence uncovers one’s reach, elocity and social capital, and its worth the time to spend with this tool to learn how these components interact.

3) TweetStats
TweetStats will graph your total tweets by the month, by the day, and by the hour. It also tells you your number of @replies and which interface you used to Twitter your tweets. By calculating the volume of your tweets andTweetstats graphic retweets it quantifies your tweet density. Most people who say they get no value from Twitter should first look at their usage and consistency to realistically evaluate what they have invested in Twitter before they consider the results. This tool also allows you to spy on others or those that have amassed Twitterati fame, as long as you know their Twitter handle.

4) Twitter Grader
Twitter Grader graphicTwitter Grader is another third party app which calculates a grade for a particular twitter on a scale of 0-100. It will show you your ranking in your city, state, and country. It will also show you active and influential Twitter users that you may want to follow. The Tweet Cloud indicates the frequent user words in your Tweets with the most commonly used in larger print. This is very beneficial because its a quick overview of your content.In addition to the TwitterGrader, Hubspot also has a Facebook Grader, Website Grader and Press Release Grader that you should check out as well, if those stats are important to you.

5) TweetPsych
Still in Beta, TweetPsych is a work in progress. Its purpose is to build a psychological profile of a person based on the content of their Tweets. It compares the content of a user’s Tweets to a baseline reading that was built by analyzing an ever-expanding group of over 1.5 million random Tweets, and then highlighting areas where the user stands out. Dan Zarella,the developer behind TweetsPsych continues to expand his set of psychologicalTweetpsych graphic definitions, while also refining the system and its algorithm to better analyze Twitter-specific content.

Dan feels TweetPsych has great potential in matching like-minded users to identifying users that exhibit certain useful or desirable traits. He is asking users to provide him with feedback to improve the system and the technology and take TweetPsych to the next level. Check it out and report back to Dan.

Since all of these tools are free, I suggest taking them all out for a test drive to determine which ones work the best for you. In helping you qualify and quantify your Twitter efforts you can better define your goals. Sometimes, we get so caught up in what we are getting out of something that we often forget to look at we are putting into it. Are you worth following, do you create value for your Twitter followers? Are you an observer or an active participant that is part of a collaborative community? All these questions and more can be better assessed with the assistance of some or all of these tools.

If you honestly look at what you are investing in Twitter and continue to apply an analytical eye, you will slowly begin to benefit from the output and the fruits of your labor.

Tweeting for profit; Smart entrepreneurs are now doing deals in 140 characters or less on Twitter. June 27, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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By Jennifer Alsever, CNNMoney.com / Fortune Small Business, June 15, 2009

Always on the lookout for examples of small businesses making effective and profitable use of the valuable social media tools available today, we were very pleased to find this excellent article from CNNMoney.com / Fortune Small Business about several small businesses that have identified productive methods of utilizing Twitter to increase revenue.  It bears noting that each of these companies understood the need to make an investment of their time in building up relationships on Twitter, and that after having invested that time consistently, they were able to identify opportunities to achieve product sales on a continuing basis at what they consider to be an excellent ROI (the investment being the value of their time).

Reading this article should provide you with ideas for ways in which their strategies might be applied to your specific business, but if you need assistance in this area, we’re here to help.  Please feel free to contact Strategic Growth Concepts via our website or via email at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com for assistance in developing marketing strategies to grow your business utilizing social media strategies.

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A year ago Kris Drey couldn’t care less about Twitter.

With 13 years of Web site experience, Drey is no technophobe. He serves as vice president of product marketing at Fliqz, an online video-hosting service with 20 employees in Emeryville, Calif. But when he first skimmed Twitter, the popular micromessaging service launched in 2007, Drey saw a lot of mindless chatter and very little that seemed useful to a video business.

Still, with the economy taking a dive, Drey persisted. He was looking for ways to spread the word about Fliqz without spending any more of his maxed-out $15,000 marketing budget. Not only was Twitter the fastest-growing social media service around — its user base grew by a whopping 1,841% in 2008, to 14 million — but it also wouldn’t cost him a dime.

“The only overhead is your time,” says Drey, 40. “You need to pay attention.”

bird2_03He did just that. Drey started posting three or four updates a day as @Fliqz (all Twitter IDs start with “@”) and subscribed to (or “followed”) the 140-character updates (or “tweets”) of anyone he could find who seemed interested in the online video industry, even if the person was just posting links to stories on blogs. One Saturday afternoon Drey spotted a Twitter post from a Fliqz customer who was having trouble encoding video. After exchanging a couple of tweets with him, Drey called the customer on the phone, figured out that the guy had a corrupted file and fixed the problem. The customer posted a tweet of happy surprise.

 

 

Talk back: Are you on Twitter yet?

Fast-forward a few months, and @Fliqz now boasts 1,358 followers. Thanks to Twitter, Drey snagged 21 new sales leads, and Twitter also helped him seal one $6,000-a-year contract. Fliqz signs or renews up to 30 deals a month, so the company is hardly tweeting its way to massive growth. But it’s not too shabby a return for a free tool. Drey estimates that he spends eight hours a week on Twitter, or the equivalent of 2% of his marketing budget every year.

Call this the year business invaded Twitter. The service — which can be used on any cell phone or computer — has been a hit almost since its inception, with celebrities as diverse as Richard Branson and Britney Spears using it to tout their appearances and correspond with fans. But in the past year, @Comcast has set up what has effectively become a help desk on Twitter, while @JetBlue (JBLU), @Zappos, @WholeFoods (WFMI, Fortune 500) and @Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) interact with hundreds of thousands of their followers.

“It’s the most conversational medium in the world,” says Jackie Huba, an online marketing consultant, blogger and co-author of the book Citizen Marketers. “It’s immediate, public and searchable. It’s never been easier to know what your customers and your prospects are saying about you.”

A handful of small retail stores rave about their success on Twitter. In Wichita, tea company 52Teas (@52Teas) has more than doubled its sales of handcrafted teas of the week since it started tweeting. The company has 3,403 users following its weekly announcements of new blends.

“In 2007 we shipped one or two packages every two to three weeks,” says Frank Horbelt, 38, founder of 52Teas. “Now we ship 52 packages a week.”

In San Francisco, Mission Pie bakery (@missionpie) sends tempting tweets about its seasonal organic pies. “If there’s a special and I tweet about it, it’s pretty common that we sell out,” says Ashleigh Cole, operations manager at the 14-employee bakery.

Of course, these are the outliers. Twitter has plenty of potential to be misused. For one thing, you get to sign up with any name you want that hasn’t already been taken. This can lead to confusion: A search for “Starbucks” reveals 16 Twitter users with that word in their IDs, such as @starbucksgeek and @starbucksgal. The coffee giant owns only @Starbucks, but Twitter has no way of telling you that. In theory, a competitor could use your name and post harmful messages from that account. You could sue, of course, but Twitter is a legally untested arena.

Such business-name theft hasn’t happened yet, and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says one of his product managers is looking into setting up some kind of account-verification service.

“We’re hearing stories about these businesses using Twitter that are so inspiring, and we want to figure out how we can help more,” Stone says. One of his favorites concerns is Kogi Korean BBQ (@kogibbq) in Los Angeles, which sends updates to its 2,100 followers telling them where its taco truck will go next, prompting customers to line up before the van arrives.

Another problem: There aren’t many sophisticated ways to filter the increasing Twitter chatter, and the service can become a major time-suck. When Drey did his searches for “online video,” he had to spend hours crawling through tweets from teenagers about funny YouTube videos — not exactly his client base.

“You will waste a lot of time if you go about it haphazardly,” says Brent Arslaner, vice president of marketing at Unisfair, a virtual events company in Menlo Park, Calif. After hearing that friends and colleagues spent hours on the site, Arslaner limited his Twitter usage to a maximum of 30 minutes a day. He followed relevant industry peers and did searches for anyone mentioning Unisfair — and for tweets that might lead to new business, such as “event canceled.”

Even with that small an investment of time, Arslaner found 160 key analysts, partners, prospective clients, bloggers and other industry influencers. On Twitter he also came across a prospective customer who was asking the network for references on Unisfair. Arslaner responded immediately with a list of references, and his sales team closed the deal.

Tweeting too aggressively is a surefire way to become a Twitter reject. Use the service as an advertising channel or a newswire for press releases, says Huba, and you’ll blow your chances with a lot of users — who won’t even tell you it’s a problem. “There’s not a huge revolt, but people will stop following you,” she says. Your pitches may ultimately be heard by no one.

Other caveats from experts: Be responsive, especially to users who send you private “direct” messages. Be yourself, but as with any other business communication, be careful what you say. Some users have software such as Tweetdeck that download tweets, so there’s a permanent record of your ill-advised joke even if you delete it. Be timely and relevant, and cyberspace will reward you.

“Always bring massive value to the conversation,” says Joel Comm, author of Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time. “Good things will come back at you.”

bird_03Erik Oberholtzer, a co-owner of Tender Greens restaurant in Los Angeles, got his good karma in March when he tweeted about construction delays at his new West Hollywood location. The city would not sign off on the building because of technicalities involving flushless toilets. A few tweets later, one follower called his uncle, who works in the health department. The pressure worked, and Tender Greens opened the next month.

“Twitter creates this culture that can extend way beyond your store,” says Oberholtzer, 40. “It’s really powerful.”

Cheap-TV-Spots.com Now Incorporating Social Media in its Package June 19, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Marketing Plan, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Cheap TV Spots, the award-winning, international, Internet-based discount TV advertising agency for entrepreneurs, says it’s aiming at Twitter these days.

“While Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and the like are all interesting ways for businesses to communicate with customers, we’re really fascinated by Twitter’s ability to take social media by storm,” says Ann Clark, Cheap TV Spots co-founder. “Twitter is doing for the web what Disco did for the dance floor. It’s all about stayin’ alive.”

Cheap TV Spots has developed a unique advertising methodology for entrepreneurs that helps link their television campaign with their online presence, creating a cohesive message that resonates with consumers. Cheap TV Spots can use the power of the bigger screen to channel customers to a Twitter page, website, or just about any online or mobile destination. Also, Cheap TV Spots can design TV commercials to be online-friendly, to complement a social website, company home page, blog or email campaign. With over 180 international awards, Cheap-TV-Spots.com has the proven expertise to design the ultimate media convergence.

Clark says, “It’s important to have an integrated plan. Social media is a great customer destination after you’ve gotten their attention with TV.”

Cheap TV Spots offers this recession-busting tip: To save money, stay away from automated, choose-it-yourself air time buying sites where the advertiser presumably picks her own airings from a list. Such sites can be deceptive, charging extra commissions in addition to the network air time cost, and selling air time that may not be available. That means the advertiser may get very little for her advertising dollar.

Ms. Clark says, “These so-called do-it-yourself sites give the impression that you can pick your airings from a list and pay a guaranteed price, when in fact the site cannot make such promises. It’s up to the networks whether air time is available, and whether they will even accept your commercial for broadcast.” Cheap TV Spots helps advertisers overcome these hurdles by negotiating with the networks on their behalf, and Cheap TV Spots never adds extra commissions. 

Cheap TV Spots produces award-winning, custom-made, national quality TV commercials for its low, flat rate. Cheap TV Spots also offers air time placement services scaled for start-ups and small- to medium-sized businesses.

Serving entrepreneurs since 2001, Cheap TV Spots is the world’s first global, Internet-based, discount TV ad agency. Cheap TV Spots is a registered trademark of Academy Leader, Inc., a privately held, multinational media company, which spans TV, motion pictures, radio, outdoor, publishing and mobile media.

Franchising and Social Media: Integrated for Bottom Line Profitability June 17, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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BlogTalkRadio graphicToday’s broadcast of Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business, featured franchising expert, Paul Segreto of FranchisEssentials discussing social media and its importance to the franchising industry. Areas of discussion included:

  • The ‘new’ franchise development business model
  • The ways social media can aid in franchise development efforts
  • What are the best social networks for a franchise to utilize and why
  • The importance of integrating social media marketing with traditional marketing
  • The role of women in social media and franchising

The interview with show host and CEO of Strategic Growth Concepts, Linda Daichendt, included a wealth of information providing value to franchises and other small businesses with regard to effective utilization of social media in growing your business. Be sure to download and listen to the interview at your convenience.

Tips for Using Twitter to Grow Your Business June 10, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Twitter.
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twitter_logo_headerOne of the most effective promotional resources a small business owner has at his or her disposal today is Social Media.  And while that medium is comprised of many different tools, one that has leaped to the forefront is Twitter.  This ‘micro-blog’ tool has been embraced by major corporations, national news organizations, government, small business owners and individuals, and has shown itself to be an extremely valuable tool for sharing information in a timely, accurate, and profitable manner.

As small business owners, it makes sense to insure that your firm has developed a social media strategy in which Twitter plays a substantial role.  A recent article by Ploked.com provides an excellent step-by-step approach for getting started, and for maximizing your results.

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by Ploked.com 5/19/09

Whether you love the concept of Twitter, or hate the idea of it, if your business is not taking advantage of this opportunity, you are only hurting yourself. Yes, Twitter may not be a marketing method right for every type of business, but at the very least you should explore the potential Twitter opportunity.

Twitter is a great resource for smaller or sole proprietorship businesses to get exposure on a world-wide level with a minimal investment (time). While you may be timid to jump into Twitter pool with your business, don’t worry, everything will be ok…there are lifeguards nearby to help you out should you get in trouble.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to establishing your business brand on Twitter:

  1. Complete your Twitter profile by filling out the various information it asks for. It can help give a good overview to your followers of what you and your company is about.
  2. Brand your profile with a custom Twitter background so that you stand out from the crowd. Custom backgrounds are a great way to establish your brand among your followers.
  3. If you are the sole proprietor or face of the company, you can add a more personal touch to your Twitter profile with a picture of you. However, should you want to use your company logo that is ok as well since it helps establish your brand.
  4. Add your Twitter link to your business cards. This can serve as a great offline conversation starter with potential clients and customers.
  5. Find other Twitter users who are interested in your niche or products. To do this, simply head on over to the good old twitter search.
  6. Be efficient with your daily Twitter use. Although it may be difficult, try to not to spend the entire workday on Twitter. It can distract you from more important business matters. Try designating an allocated amount of time, or a certain time each day where you login to Twitter.
  7. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (or girl). Just because it is a “business” related Twitter account does not mean that you can only talk about business related topics. If possible, try to mix in a bit of info about you so that your followers can learn a bit more about you. Who knows, you may find out you have more in common with your followers than just business.
  8. Do your best to reply to anyone who replies to your tweets or posts an @yourname. While this may not always be possible, it can definitely strengthen the relationship between you and your followers.
  9. Thank users who retweet one of your tweets. Be sure to retweet others when possible.
  10. Create surveys or ask questions to your followers about your products and services. This can be both good and bad, so be ready for honest responses.
  11. Follow the leaders in your industry. If there is not a defined Twitter leader for your niche, now is the time to step up and grab it for yourself.
  12. Provide free insight and help on Twitter. The vast majority of Twitter users do not appreciate being hounded to buy your product or services. However, should you be known to help out others, chances are your goodwill can result in future business.
  13. Track your Twitter referrals to your website. Google Analytics is one great free source to analyze and track your website traffic. Aside from tracking the traffic from Twitter, Google Analytics can provide you with some very useful info about your site.
  14. Share beneficial and relevant information with your followers. Whether it is industry related news, or information about a new service your company offers; sharing great content is king. Please note, that you don’t need to tweet about what you had for lunch today.
  15. Invite your employees to create an account and take part in Twitter. This can not only help ease the workload for yourself, it can also help increase your brand and company awareness on Twitter.
  16. Monitor your brand. There are a few ways to do this so you can keep on top of what others are saying about your business. One of the easiest is to use Twitter Search and type in your business name. Then simply grab the RSS link for the results and paste it into your favorite RSS reader.  You can then be aware of what is being said about your name on Twitter.

Small Businesses Participate In and Benefit From Social Networking in Increasing Numbers June 6, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, Marketing Plan, Social Media, Twitter.
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Small business owners have always been among the strongest of networkers, and today’s new technology networking options have only increased their efforts as the economic downturn continues to drive laid-off workers toward self-employment and small business ownership.  A recent article by the New York Times discusses the increasing involvement of small business owners in social networking, and the positive effects being experienced by those companies.

After reading the article, if you would like assistance in developing a social media strategy for your firm, please feel free to contact us at our website or via email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com .

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by:  Mickey Meece, New York Times, June 3, 2009

BY choice or necessity, successful small-business owners are earnest networkers, gladly shaking hands, handing out cards and attending local meetings to find and keep customers, solve problems, seek feedback or support and bolster their bottom lines. 

Now, the Internet is starting to upend those long-established methods; online networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and newer niche sites can be instantaneous and far-reaching.

The sites are efficient and free, which is especially important in an economic downturn, as owners scramble for new customers, said Rob King, vice president for strategic marketing at Sage North America, a unit of Sage P.L.C., a global supplier of business management software and services.

Fast, free and efficient — those attributes appealed to Brighter Planet, a socially responsible start-up based in Vermont, which built social networking into its DNA.

“There’s almost a grass-roots quality to it,” said Patti Prairie, its chief executive. “As a start-up, we can’t afford to be buying ads anywhere. We have to use our outreach.”

For more than a year, the Brighter Planet team has been blogging, Tweeting, friending on Facebook and initiating viral marketing campaigns intended to help consumers reduce their carbon footprints.

While most small businesses have not yet embraced social networks as Brighter Planet has, their numbers are growing. According to the April index of Discover Small Business Watch, compiled by Discover Financial Services, 38 percent of owners were a member of an online social networking community, up from 22 percent in October 2007.

Charles H. Matthews, president of the International Council for Small Business, said the key was to view the sites as tools, not toys. “It can certainly help enhance the process of identifying customers, especially in niche markets.”

For Brighter Planet, the niche is the environment. Before Earth Day, for example, it sponsored Earthtweet, an Earth Day Tweet-a-Thon, which has generated 4,200 conservation Tweets and 2,500 followers.

Soon, BrighterPlanet.com will feature a portable social Web application that will allow visitors to calculate the status of their carbon footprints and share what they are doing on conservation on other social platforms like Facebook.

Friends, family and colleagues can immediately see how saving the environment is important to BrighterPlanet members, Ms. Prairie said. “That’s what we find is the beauty of social networking, particularly for environmental-type causes.”

A recent study for Sage North America found that 65 percent of small businesses that used social networking sites said that they felt more comfortable doing so this year than they did last year, and 51 percent said that they had acquired and retained customers because of it.

More than 260,000 North American businesses currently use social networking to promote their businesses, Mr. King said.

In April, Sage, which has 2.9 million small and midsize business customers, introduced its own networking site, SageSpark .com. “We know we’re not the first to the game,” Mr. King said. “Our twist really is the community, tools and services.”

Other niche sites have sprouted recently, like Shustir.com.

Last week, Shustir.com introduced its virtual marketplace, which was started by two former Lehman Brothers colleagues, Shu Kim and Khanh Pham. “It matters where you spend,” Ms. Kim said, echoing the site’s catchphrase. The goal, they said, is to keep Main Street U.S.A. alive.

“We want you to spend with small businesses,” Ms. Pham said. “By doing so, 80 percent of the money goes directly back to the community.”

The site is arranged so owners can create virtual storefronts with photos, video, blogs and store information, and communicate with customers.

“Shustir gives consumers a one-stop destination,” Ms. Kim said, where they can buy from trusted businesses, post about their favorite shops and make recommendations.

Businesses can exchange advice, ideas and information, and network on a site that provides them search optimization.

In its second phase, Shustir will add Facebook and Twitter badges so owners can use other social media to build business. There will also be a shared community calendar. “The call to localism is existing across the country,” Ms. Pham said, “because small business is suffering.”

PartnerUp has been around longer. It is a social networking site that helps entrepreneurs and small-businesses owners find partners or co-founders, network, ask for and offer up advice, find resources and create or join groups based on their interests. It was founded in 2005 and acquired by the Deluxe Corporation in 2008.

PartnerUp has more than 100,000 active members, and more than 300,000 unique business owners and entrepreneurs come to the site every month, according to Steve Nielsen, its president.

“We’re at an inflection point now,” Mr. Nielsen said, “where social media sites that are specific to a purpose for a market are going mainstream, and they’re not just for early adopters any more.”

In late 2007, David Reinke joined PartnerUp for a specific purpose. He had quit corporate America to start a fashion rating Web site, StyleHop.com, but needed a partner well versed in technology. He posted a profile on PartnerUp, and a job description for a chief technology officer and said, “Let’s see what happens.”

About a month later, Froilan Mendoza, who had 12 years experience building technology start-ups, contacted him and after a series of discussions, Mr. Mendoza quit his job to become chief technology officer of StyleHop.com.

Turning to PartnerUp, Mr. Reinke said, was consistent with how he uses online sites. “I was looking for something specific. I go to the source where the experts are,” Mr. Reinke said. PartnerUp also allowed for a quiet search and limited exposure, he added, so thousands of people would not know about his start-up.

To be sure, the majority of smaller concerns have not caught the online wave. In its monthly index, Discover noted that 62 percent of businesses still do not have Web sites.

What’s more, when asked which networking opportunities they used most, 46 percent of small-business owners identified traditional methods like conferences, trade shows, local in-person groups or chambers of commerce. Of the remaining respondents, 16 percent cited “other” networking opportunities, 8 percent cited online sites, 7 percent said e-mail messages and 22 percent said they were not sure.

Mr. King of Sage North America estimates that small businesses have a 12-month window to figure out online social networking. “I hate to say it, but if they don’t, they’ll get left in the dust,” he said. “It’s here to stay.”

Maximizing New Media Today to Build Your Brand for Tomorrow and Beyond May 31, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, Marketing Plan, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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With all of the new media options available today to promote your business, sometimes the hardest part of developing an effective marketing strategy is thinking thru the ways in which each option can be maximized to promote your business.  Many of the options available, such as Twitter and Facebook, are still new enough that no one really has all the answers on using them to the best advantage, so new ways of utilizing them are being discovered every day.  It’s exciting, and intriguing and challenging – especially for those with creative minds who are adept at finding useful ways to take advantage of new technology.

Many people with analytical minds actually spend a great deal of time trying to predict the future of such new media technology in order to determine its longevity and value.  One recent analysis developed by the great minds at 24/7 Wall Street resulted in an article predicting ‘The Ten Ways Twitter Will Permanently Change American Business’.  It’s an excellent article which I encourage you to read, and while reading, think about it in terms of how their thoughts might translate into useful applications for your business. 

Right now marketers are in the unique position of being able to utilize the many, many new technology tools available today – at no cost, or low cost – and to help build the standards for how those tools are used in the future.  This unique opportunity will allow firms that take advantage of the current situation to be ‘the leaders at the table’ in the future.  If you want to establish such a leadership role for your business and your brand, now is the time to use all your creativity, all your strategic planning capabilities, and all the new technology resources at your disposal to establish that brand and its leadership role.  Learn everything you can about the new media tools available, and use them in every way you can to promote your company.  We at Strategic Growth Concepts will continue to do our part by providing you with information you need to help you in that endeavor, and we’re available to consult with your business whenever you need us, just contact us via our website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

Global New Media Trends and Using Them to Grow Your Business May 8, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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A recent report issued by The Nielsen Company, a global information and media company active in more than 100 countries, provides a comprehensive overview of the status of new media in today’s marketing environment.  Some highlights of the report include:

  • Online display advertising’s share of revenue has plateaued at 20% of total online ad spend in the U.S.
  • Despite online video’s persistent positive buzz, actual usage is averaging around six minutes per day in the U.S.
  • Packaged goods manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and telecommunications firms, three of the largest historical spenders on traditional media, are moving online at a pace we haven’t seen before, even as the recession continues to deepen.
  • Access to social networking sites via mobile devices almost tripled during 2008, largely due to rising smartphone penetration and improved network speeds.  Increasingly consumers are turning to their phones for a wide range of online content.
  • The pace of new online users has significantly slowed down, and the story has become about how much time people are spending online and what they’re doing while there.
  • Americans spend the most time online during the average month (about 2 hours per day).
  • The U.S. online population skews more to the age 50+ than the other countries listed in the study.
  • It is rare to see segments grow from BOTH an audience and an engagement standpoint, but we are seeing exceptional growth in these areas over the last couple of years in both video and social media sites.
  • While Member Communities (Facebook, MySpace, etc) have been garnering impressive audience numbers for the last five years, video audiences have been growing at meteoric rates.
  • From a time spent perspective, Member Communities surpassed email for the first time in February 2009.
  • From February 2008 to February 2009, the viewers of online videos grew 10%, the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
  • The reach of Member Community (social networking) sites is highest in Brazil (80%) but growting fastest in Germany (from 39% to 51% in one year).
  • The steady upward march of micro-blogging site Twitter will likely be the biggest online media story this year.
  • In the U.S., the mobile Internet audience grew 74% between February 2007 and February 2009.
  • More than 12 million U.S. mobile subscribers access their social networks over their phone.
  • As consumers look to do more on their phones while maintaining or perhaps decreasing their overall wireless spend, we expect that consumers will continue to warm to the idea of ad-supported mobile content.

This information is extremely valuable to marketers and small business owners as it enables companies to see areas of tremendous opportunity where they can maximize their firm’s brand awareness among target audiences.  Click HERE to review the complete Nielsen report and determine how it can be utilized to your company’s benefit.  Should you need assistance sorting thru the options to develop the best marketing strategy for your firm, please contact us to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

A Social Media ‘How to’ for Small Business March 29, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Web 2.0.
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In my conversations with small business owners about social media and utilizing it to promote their businesses, one theme is consistent in almost every conversation, and that theme is their intimidation about using it.

This intimidation likely results from the fact that social media is still a relatively new medium, particularly for those who have not previously been involved in the internet or advertising industries. Therefore, as with all new technology-based ideas, there is a learning curve involved in bringing the masses up-to-speed. To help enable that learning and shorten the curve for readers of this blog, I went in search of some other writers’ “tips” to add to my own, which can help you get started with an easy-to-understand procedure.

The following are among the best of the articles I found, and I believe a review of these articles should be enough to help you get started.

  • During this quest I found a blog posting that was specifically targeted to small business and will get you started in the right direction. Click HERE to read information from Chris Garrett in an article entitled, “Quick Social Media Tactics for Small Business”. I like Chris’ list, but one thing that I do see as a problem with it is that I’m don’t believe it’s basic enough for the majority of people in search of this information.
  • Another interesting article I found in the New York Times included an interview with a small business owner who has effectively put social media to work for his business. It even provides an example of a promotion he did utilizing social media and two other methods of advertising. He tracked the costs and results of each method to identify which provided the best ROI. Click HERE to read the article.
  • A third article I found on the Startup Nation website speaks specifically about LinkedIN, a social networking site for business people. This site allows you to develop a very comprehensive profile on yourself and your business, allows you to join ‘discussion groups’ on just about any topic of your choice, and also allows you to start groups if you want to be the one managing the discussion. I personally recommend this site as the one you start with, and I suggest that you begin with building out your profile as completely as you can (it’s very easy to understand and implement). I then recommend that you do a search for groups in your industry and join a couple of them. For the first week or two, just observe – or answer a question/comment in the group discussions now and then. The idea is to get a feel for the “personality” of the group, ie: what gets positive reaction and what gets negative reaction. After you’ve ‘learned your way around’ so to speak, then you should start making postings in the group –information of interest, articles you’ve seen, resources group members would find of value, etc. These postings are designed to help you build your credibility as an expert – but DO NOT attempt to sell anything. Click HERE to read the Startup Nation article for additional information.

Social media is a burgeoning industry these days. Almost everyday I learn about another site that seems to be gaining momentum. The danger for a small business owner lies in trying to participate in all of them (and I know several who have tried!) and ends up doing none of them well and getting nothing else in his/her business accomplished. A far better strategy is to check them all out as you learn about them, but only join those that really look as though they will have value to your business. To help you start your process, have a look at this list of social media sites by Peter Bordes; it’s comprehensive but by no means complete. Review the sites that interest you and try a couple of them out. And remember, start slow – observe first and then begin participating. It will make your participation much more productive once you become more active.

If after reviewing these materials you still feel you need some guidance on developing the best social media strategy for your business, please feel free to call upon us. We can be reached by email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

A Master Class in Web 2.0 March 27, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0.
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Whatever your politics, there is one fact that is undeniable about Barack Obama, the man knows how to utilize today’s Web 2.0 technology to reach his audience and convey his message. In the following story you will learn how he utilized an interactive website to obtain citizen participation in developing questions to be answered on an Internet broadcast, and that he had them casting votes to decide the “favorite” questions (or the ones that would be most popular with his Internet audience). You will also learn about the Internet broadcast Town Hall Meeting where he utilized those questions that were voted on. What the article doesn’t tell you, but I can because I saw it, was that he publicized the whole thing (both the website question request/voting and the Internet broadcast) via Twitter, which then resulted in hundreds of retweets, and postings on both Facebook and in LinkedIN groups. As I said, whatever your politics, you have to be impressed with his ingenuity in reaching out to his potential audience – and the response number he received (as indicated in the article below) that shows it to be working.So my question to you now is – “How can you apply these same strategies to your business to help it grow?” Think about it, if your website became interactive and allowed you to obtain customer response that helped you to market your product more effectively, wouldn’t that be helpful? And, if you could drive people to your website at absolutely no cost by developing a creative “Tweet” that would cause people to retweet and to post your information on Facebook and LinkedIN to be seen by even more hundreds of thousands of people – wouldn’t you find value in that?

With the country and the media saying that small business is necessary to the turnaround of the economy, and small business owners looking to Barack Obama for answers on how to help those small businesses help the economy – in my opinion, he’s already given us one of the answers. Follow his lead in the use of technology in promoting our businesses to our target customers – it costs us essentially zero dollars and the impact can be huge! So I challenge all small business owners out there – read the article below and then sit down and evaluate your business to think of ways you can utilize Web 2.0 technology to promote your business and increase sales. And if in the final analysis you decide you don’t know enough about it to come up with the ideas, then contact me – or another marketing professional – to help you make the most of this opportunity! I assure you, “our cup runneth over” with ideas we’d like to provide to clients willing to jump in to this new marketing arena and we’d love to hear from you!

 

Obama wraps up first-of-its kind Internet Q&A

 

 

 

 
  By Ron Edmonds, AP
   

WASHINGTON — President Obama wrapped up a unique Internet-era town hall meeting at the White House on Thursday, pushing hard for support of his $3.6 trillion budget and asking people to be patient with the administration’s efforts to resuscitate the USA’s ailing economy.

Obama said the precedent-setting online town hall meeting was an “an important step” toward creating a broader avenue for information about his administration.

He joked at one point about the number of questions about decriminalizing marijuana, saying he did not think that was the best way to stimulate the economy.

After a brief opening statement, Obama held a microphone and walked the floor in the ornate East Room, gesturing as he answered questions in an event reminiscent of town hall meetings he conducted in person across the nation during his campaign.

Before the event, the White House had said that 92,003 people have submitted 103,395 questions and cast 3,582,670 votes.

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said about 67,000 viewers were watching the webcast, which was also televised on some cable channels.

In advance of the event, potential questioners signed up on the White House website “Open for Questions.”

CNN reported that Obama answered seven questions submitted that way, while also taking questions from the audience in the East Room.

Questioned also about growing unemployment, Obama said creating jobs was difficult during these hard economic times, and recommended that the work of the future should be in more high-paying, high-skill areas like clean energy technology.

Many of the lost jobs in recent years, Obama said, involved work that was done by people earning low wages and with limited work skills. He said it will take some time — perhaps through the rest of the year — before vigorous hiring resumes, and that might not happen until businesses see evidence the economy is rebounding.

On the home financing crisis, the second question put to the president, he was asked how his programs helped homeowners who are not facing foreclosure but have been deeply hurt by the recession. Many homeowners, after the housing price bubble burst late last year, now owe more on their homes than the houses are worth.

Obama told his Internet audience and about 100 people assembled in the East Room that his injection of stimulus spending into the housing market now makes it possible for 40% of all homeowners to take advantage of record-low mortgage interest rates. He encouraged eligible Americans to refinance.

Political operatives say the White House’s strategy is a way to reach a demographic key to Obama’s election.

“In the new world of online media, formal press conferences are just one element or program to get the message out — to those, usually older, who watch such things on TV. The online version he is doing is an alternative way to get out the same message, in this case on the budget, targeted toward a different audience, usually younger,” said Morley Winograd, a onetime adviser to former vice president Al Gore who now runs the Institute for Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California.

“In both cases the questioners are just props — or, in some cases, foils — for the star, Obama, to deliver his message. But in the latter case, they get to self-nominate instead of be selected by elites,” Winograd said.

In a way, it’s part campaign-style politics and part American Idol, said political strategist Simon Rosenberg.

“Barack Obama is going to reinvent the presidency the way he reinvented electoral politics,” said Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network and a veteran of presidential campaigns. “He is allowing everyday people to participate in a way that would’ve been impossible in the old media world.”

Yet the process lends itself to softer questions and ones the White House is eager to answer, Republicans noted.

“The president is going back to the safe confines he was always most comfortable with, in this case a friendly audience where the focus is on the sale rather than the substance,” GOP strategist Kevin Madden said.

Contributing: Richard Wolf at the White House; Steve Marshall in McLean, Va., and the Associated Press