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Web platforms: Reintroduction of basic website feature functions and benefits

Ebay had an ad on Facebook for EBay fashion that caught my eye.  It caught my eye because back in the day, I used Ebay quite a bit.  Now not at all. 

I  just posted some furniture on Craig’s list and got no response.  I used to get it sold that day. 

Plaxo use to be my digital address book, now I do not even open their emails. 

I don’t even know my MySpace log in, nor have I used it in years.

So what is going on?  I have created a lot of litter on the digital highway with my usage. Self created, but none the less add to a CMO’s marketers dilemma.

My thought is that even the most famous websites or platforms need to reintroduce themselves frequently to their current user base.  The key driver is to reintroduce what they do, how to do it and why they are still relevant.  The basic 101 of the site. 

Most marketers as of late have been focused on organic optimization of the website and content, which is great, but have forgotten the basics of if and when they find you, they better know how to use you and why to use your site.

I still  have preconceived ideas about Ebay based on my last use.  They have may changes dramatically, yet I still shy away from getting reintroduced. Nor has Ebay even tried to re-engage me. Running a sale is different from reintroducing me to how to use the site.

Google Marketplace has miss stepped over and over again.  I was a huge loyalist, then they because so complex that it drove out all small business with having to add ownership tags that drove out most who do not have in-house web techs. Now they are charging per click to make money off the big brands.

 As compared with Amazon market place, which still has some bugs to work out, but which I sing their praises every day.

As the CMO, dig a little deeper with your team. Look at your own website.  Is traffic up or down, not net new traffic, your returning traffic.  Why are they using your site, what are they doing, what are they not doing. Most sites are designed for net new, not returning visitors.

Returning visitors need  their own path of re-education on how to use the site, whats new, what is familiar. Just as same store sales is critical for brick and mortar, it is critical to activate those who are returning.

The digital road is littered with use and disuse.  What state is your website or platform in? What are your returning customers needing?

These simple questions could improve conversion 10% and who would not want that these days.

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Adding Group SMS text messages to your marketing or communications plans

 Finding ways to leverage SMS or Text marketing is always a challenge on how to do carefully selected text messages to targeted audiences.  Messages like getting a key message out to your sales force or you need to change a location or time for an event and to grow customer engagement. Broadcasting text alerts to your subscribers and have it also push to your Twitter, Facebook and website visitors in one stroke is a valuable tool to consider. Mashable recently covered this subject.

” Christina Warren  from Mashable blog has done a very good outline of a way to easily do this.

This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.
 

Name: TextMarks

 Quick Pitch: TextMarks group text messaging services turn any mobile phone into a powerful marketing tool.

 Genius Idea: TextMarks makes it easy to create SMS marketing campaigns by letting users send a text message with a custom keyword of your choice to 41411. You can also use TextMarks auto-post service to send out SMS messages to subscribers and also update Facebook() and Twitter().

As the Red Cross’s efforts in raising money for Haiti proved, text messages can be a powerful way to engage others and to spread information. It’s not just about joke-of-the-day subscriptions or other nonsense that you see at 2AM on TV — real money and real causes can be publicized through text.

 

TextMarks is a service that makes it really easy to set-up a mobile campaign to broadcast messages or updates to users that opt-in to your service by first texting a keyword. 

What we like about TextMarks is that the service is easy to set-up and affordable. You can try out the service for free and send unlimited ad-supported messages each month, and ad-free plans start at $9.95 a month. For small businesses or small groups like churches or clubs, that’s a really nice option. 

We also like that you can update Twitter and Facebook with the same messages you send out to other users. That way, if you’re using messages to keep people updated with scheduling information or other time-sensitive info, the message can go out across all of your social channels.”

Facebook and MySpace added to Google and Bing real-time search.

There has been a debate within the CMO community discussing why they should approve a Facebook page and a MySpace Page for their company and or employees.  Mashable did a very valuable update on where this all stands.  Based on this update, the debate is over.  Get your company pages up on Facebook and MySpace to gain real-time organic content search.  More important, be sure to tell your team and family to clean up their pages on each or to close the access to their page if it is currently public, unless they want to be searched real-time.

 Google Adds Facebook Pages to Real-time Search
Posted: 24 Feb 2010 04:26 PM PST
 Google has announced that it has added a new content source to its real-time search feature: Facebook Pages.
Google launched real-time search in December, providing a real-time feed of information from Yahoo Answers, Twitter, blogs, news websites, and other sources for hot or trending search results.
Two integrations have lagged though: MySpace and Facebook. Eight days ago, Google added MySpace updates to its stream. And now Google has added Facebook Pages to the mix.
Still, Google’s stream doesn’t include public Facebook profiles, something only rival search engine Bing can access. This limits the usefulness of today’s update, but we still welcome the addition

LinkedIn Strategy for how you connect. Lion, Turtle, HoundDog or Alley Cat.

Have you ever wondered why some people put [LION] after their name on LinkedIn?  Most CMOs are still trying to avoid LinkedIn except for people they know or want to know.  For others, there are strategies to how, what and why.  For myself, found out  I am more of an Alley Cat.  I like to connect, do it often, but want and need a connection as to why I have the contact. I do turn people down that I do not know.   So let’s try an experiment,  here is my linked in http://www.linkedin.com/in/karenkallet.  If you tell me that you came via this CMO Guide to Social Media blog, I will accept you.  However, tell me why you want the connection.  That is the Alley Cat in me.

 This blog from Community Marketing Blog lays out the why and what.  You need to decide which one are you and know if you see a tag on their name this is what it is meaning.

 Are You a LION, Turtle, HoundDog, or Alley Cat? What’s Your LinkedIn Strategy?

LI in Oz2
 LinkedIn is a fairly harmonious place.  People tend to act professional and when there are opposing opinions they typically become a case where people “agree to disagree”.  Things change though when you began discussing LIONS.  Suddenly the conversation isn’t so rosy.  

LION’s, for those who don’t know are open networkers.  They connect to just about anyone.  They see opportunity increasing as the number of connections increases.  Those who disagree see LIONS as simply driving their ego’s by counting the connections, as if the purpose of LinkedIn is to proudly claim to have 1,000’s of connections.

For the record I don’t consider myself a LION, yet I’m an open networker.  When writing my first LinkedIn book I identified three LinkedIn connection strategies.  This year I added a fourth to define how I now connect.

How you choose to connect will impact how you use LinkedIn and in the end your chances of finding success.

Before we look at the four connection strategies I want to make one point.  How you choose to connect on LinkedIn should be of no concern to anyone else.  It’s your network and your strategy.  As long as it works for you thats all that matters.

The Four LinkedIn Connection Strategies:

The LION
As stated above LIONS are completely open connectors.  They seek to increase their connections through actively sending out and accepting connection invitations.  While I’m sure there are a few who take pride in touting the specific number, the majority simply believe that large networks lead to more opportunity.

Steve Burda is a LION with over 30,000 connections.  I don’t know Steve but I’ve seen countless references to his taking time to help others.  So yes he has a large network, but no its not about the number.  Its about having the opportunity to help a significant number of people.  If this leads to new business for him, more power to him.

The Turtle
Turtles are the opposite of LIONS.  Turtles primarily only connect to those they know well.  They see value in having a tight network made up of individuals that they completely trust.  Their networks tend to be highly selective and can be counted on to pass on introductions, much like a private networking group.

I don’t know many Turtles but the ones I do know are like Steve interested in being a productive resource for those they choose to connect to.  LinkedIn is a way to enhance their offline networking making their existing relationships a little more connected.

The Hound Dog
When I first joined LinkedIn I was only aware of LIONS.  I knew right away that LinkedIn added an additional layer of connectivity to those I knew.  I also realized that it could help me meet other local business professionals that I did not know.

At each Chamber meeting they would pass out copies of everyone’s business cards.  After each meeting I would see who was on LinkedIn and then invite them to connect.  At the next Chamber meeting the connection provided a great ice breaker.  It also established connections with those people who only attended a single meeting.

I also used LinkedIn to seek out people I would like to connect with.  Doing this allowed me to establish connections with other business professionals who might help my clients, become a referral partner, and some who were prospects.  This ability to hunt for specific people led me to define the strategy as a Hound Dog.

A Hound Dog is someone who uses LinkedIn to connect to those they know, to connect to those they would like to know, and accepts invitations from those that would be beneficial to be connected to.  

For the first year that I was serious about using LinkedIn I followed this strategy.  Then one day I had a thought, “How do I know whether or not a connection I know could benefit from a connection that I didn’t know?”   The answer was that I didn’t know.

It was that at this point that I changed my strategy for connecting on LinkedIn. 

The Alley Cat
I still only send invitations to people I know or people that I have a specific reason for connecting to.  What changed is that I now accept invitations from just about anyone.  There is value in knowing your connections but there are also unexpected opportunities that develop from establishing new connections, known and unknown.

This connection strategy supports my overall LinkedIn strategy which is this:  I seek to provide value to and help as many people as possible.  Much of that value is provided through the Social Media Sonar blog, sharing tips and strategies with others on how to more effectively utilize LinkedIn and social media/networking.  Sometimes its through being the hub to connect two people.  At other times its through conducting workshops, writing LinkedIn books and guides, etc.  The more people I am connected to the more people that I can share with.

I believe that to create opportunity you have to first be willing to help others.  Then, by consistently sharing value over time, you allow people to move through the Process of Familiarity.  A process that has to happen before someone will choose to do business with you.

What I call the Process of Familiarity likely has been called many things by other people.   The three components are:

  • People need to Know You or at a Minimum Know Of You:  Often connecting or engaging in conversations will accomplish this.
  • People Must Like You or Have a Positive Opinion:  How you interact with others and the value of the content you share will help here.  If people like your content they will like you.
  • People Must Trust You:  Building trust is dependent upon engaging on conversations or sharing value consistently over time.  As people see you on an ongoing basis and are exposed to the value you share the “Like” will grow into “Trust”.

Through this process here’s what I’ve seen happen.  Each week I write one or two blog posts that show people how to utilize LinkedIn.  I then use the tools LinkedIn provides to communicate that there is a new blog post.  People visit the blog for the first time or as a repeat visitor.  At some point they check out my profile and learn what it is that I do and see how I can help them.  

If they like the content they begin to have a positive impression of me and this eventually moves to a sense of trust.  At this point if they ever have a need for my services I am top of mind and they will contact me.

Something else happens as well.  People like to share content on other Social Media sites so at some point they become my social media amplification system.  This introduces my blog to people outside of the communities I’ve built.

Wrap Up
The connection strategy you choose will depend upon how you want to use LinkedIn.  There is no right or wrong choice as long as your connection strategy supports the goals you have determined.  For me the change to an Alley Cat has helped generate 3 to 5 contacts per week about my services.

Which strategy are you using and why?  If you agree or disagree with the post please leave a comment.  Your perspective is as important as mine, so share it with everyone.

Sean Nelson is the author of the Social Media Sonar blog and has written three LinkedIn eBooks including one of the first books detailing how to strategically use LinkedIn to grow your business. “LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula”.  He is a Partner in SONARconnects.”

Do free promotion offers work? Follow the line to Dennys

Here is a photo that I took of the Denny’s Free breakfast crowd from the road as I was leaving today.

By the looks of things at my local Denny’s the Free Breakfast  promotion announced during the Superbowl was a sell out.  I drove into the parking lot to go to another business and could not find a place to park in three parking lots!  The crowds were pouring out of their cars, like they were going to the state fair.  The line was out the door and around the building.

 So give them credit for gaining trial.  Customer Engagement at it’s finest.  Customers using texts, blogs and emails all about the promotion is a social media strategists dream.   What about retention, I am not so sure.  Quality service, is in the hands of the wait staff and cooks.  Will people stand in line for free food? Yes… they will.  Will they come back and pay?… Denny’s will need to report of that.  ROI… priceless…

Trend Watch: Channels – SlideShare adds Content Channels.

SlideShare is adding Content Channels and is a trend to get on board with now.  SlideShare is an online Powerpoint /slide show program that you can use for presentations, conference calls, feed to your blogs, to LinkedIn or is available for organic search from the search engines.   This is sort of pod casting made easy for static presentations.  SlideShare is also a great place to do research on a subject, since many speakers put their presentations on Slide share and you are allowed to download them.

Here is the info on thier new launch and an explaination of how some are using it from their newsletter.

“Today we added Channels – the newest kid on the SlideShare block. Channels are branded spaces on SlideShare for companies and brands. They provide an extra bit of oomph for companies with great content. 

  • If you are looking for interesting content, then go to the Channels section to find interesting channels to browse. We will feature those with the most interesting content. Some of the early channels are
    Microsoft Office has setup a channel focused on parenting topic (project done in collaboration with our partners, Federated Media)
    Ogilvy has setup a concept channel for Pharma
    Razorfish Marketing uploads about interactive marketing & technology
  • Pew Internet has shared a lot of their research reports about the internet & internet usage
  • Whitehouse is sharing almost 1000 presentations and documents
    We’re also rolling out topical Channels that are curated by our content team. For example, channels on Cloud Computing and Social Media. You’ll more of them in the coming months as we roll out new topics.

If your company or organization is interested in channels, then get in touch by going here.

Free serif typefaces revealed on the Prisma Graphic blog.

Looking at where dollars go in your budget may leave you feeling you need more control. Your designers are always looking for new type faces and I bet if you check the budget you are paying for them.  So PrismaGraphic.com  who is a top line printer does a great blog on industry tips.  Check out their blog at Prisma Graphic blog. I subscribe and this one caught my eye:

Huge Collection of Free Serif Fonts for Graphic Design

February 4, 2010 <!–prismagraphic–>Edit

We understand that the graphic designers that we work with are always looking for new fonts.  In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. We have put together a list of some of the best serif fonts on the web.

20 Classy Free Serif Fonts by D-List

30 Extremely Elegant Serif Fonts by Webdesign Ledger

20+ Beautiful Free Serif Fonts by Think Design Blog

10 Free Serif Fonts by MyInkBlog