What is social media optimisation? Simple it is finding people ‘like’ me

Let’s talk about the world of SMO, [Social Media OptimisationSMM [Social Media Marketing] the re-aligned SEO [Search Engine Optimisation] and new marketing efforts by people such as myself.

Although it’s not a black and white picture I saw the first development of the Web, or Web 1.0 s it’s now known as the following:

Search Engine Optimisation: Remember link farms and Google bombing! This then later went into best practice as people became very aware of the difference between a good looking site and site rankings changed dramatically. This effected the suppliers of SEO at that time, moving towards a better practice. In essence, all search engine optimisation agencies are behind what the next strategy or Google ‘Algorithms’ would be. But that’s the nature of the game.

Website structure, then later heat-maps and navigation ease

CMS: Content Management and later dynamic and user specific content, like Amazon’s personalised logged in pages. This for me was crucial for a major player to move into Web 2.0 with personalised CRM as it’s leader and starting point.

Booking engines, search portals [like Lycos with special offers]

Email marketing [never forgotten]

Then later it went into:

Pay per click, pay per thousand views, banners and affiliate campaigning.. Excitement 😀

Consistent pricing , price parity, terms and conditions and then back to web structure [as in part one].

Then there entered more development and this one was more morose, intrusive but informative about your life, profession and interests.

Why is Facebook famous?

Well, we always want to know what people who we worked with once are doing or even follow someone from afar who we knew was right or wrong but never really wanted to confront. So.. what does this mean commercially?

It meant that:

  • Customers had the right to talk, critique as well as SHARE their thoughts with business.

This created a rise in customer to business [c2b] then later.. customer to customer [c2c] and then user generated content [ugc] took off!

So then what is Web 2.0?

It’s hard to say, even the world’s best can’t answer that one. I think it’s best to find the truth in the language game, i.e: language in use.

It seems clear to me that social media optimisation or social media management encompasses the following elements:

Blogs: The good, the bad and the ugly. They all have something to say. Are you listening?

Photos and pictures: By the User

Videos: By the User

Rating and review sites: These include consumer reviews

Networking sites: To on-line end players be-it business or consumer or even a potential new buyer who’s looking around at other possibilities and wants the real bottom line.

What are the key messages of social media optimisation, social media marketing: The new SEO and marketing vibe?

Not easy to answer… Let’s look at how people make a buying decision [for b2b or b2c].

So are you offering it all? I personally think many firms don’t. Why do I think this?

Web 1.0 to 2.0 lesson: 24% of sites do not allow customers to enlarge the product image

1 in 3 sites so not offer customer reviews: No feedback, no credibility!

61% do not offer any information on the product/service

Web 1.0 lesson still not learned… 58% correctly answer an e-mail question within 24 hours.

Source: EIAA Online –Shoppers Europe 2008
Bottom line:

One has to consider entering Web 2.0 in fact any form of elevated CRM with an:

Understanding the audience: What are their motivators. Think about what they’d say about your brand exposure and make it right!

Think less corporate and more risky point of view. This aims at being transparent, credible and valuable. Why, as I’ve heard your 10 second sales pitch, you’re saying you’re the best now why.. and without all the jargonised business power speech. Talk to me in my language and how I LIKE IT [most important element of social media optimisation: Personally this is I believe an element it can never fulfill when push comes to shove].

Take in, feed-back attitude to all learn to repeat.. truthfully!

It’s a tricky one to define this search engine optimisation, social media optimisation and social media marketing idea. I’ve always preferred social media marketing as unless a company gets all it’s favourite consumers or fans in house and says here’s what you can do, tell us why you love us. Outside this, for me it’s marketing, not a labour of personal love.

As well, responding and engaging to me is something that is marketing and PR focused. Indeed, I would say a lot of Web 2.0, social media marketing, social media optimisation is about safeguarding reputation online. Maybe as I had found in some agencies I’d worked for and networked with, online PR was always scoffed at. Now it seems to have come into central play again. For this reason, I think the BEST people to speak to would be an internet savvy PR agency and to learn ALL the basics of response media.

What is Web 2.0?

The Formal Definition of Web 2.0

There is no formal definition of what is Web 2.0. The term was coined originally by internet guru Tom O’Reilly and MediaLive International at a conference about the collapse of the internet following the falls in value for many internet companies.

It is suggested that the Web 2.0 leader has been Google that gave prominence to relevance and position. Additionally the search engine company started by having no advertisements, it was providing internet information. The scene moved to provide more outlets to information, adding of mini programs or ad-ons like toolbars and more portal centric affiliate offerings that could be added into a website like Amazon and their infamous buy this book to website add-ons like Google maps.

For marketers this meant there were more outlets to suggest their product or service was giving value and could be contained within existing Online communities.

What are the benefits?

Jupiter Research reported that the take up for Web 2.0 tactics are being extensively employed. 48% of brand marketers will deploy marketing on social networking channels, compared to 38% last year. It is reckoned that 50% of brand marketers will target social networking sites in 2007.

Social marketing tactics used by see brands will compete for attention on already popular network sites like Myspace and Bebo. IDC go further estimating that by 2010 around 70% of web content will be user generated.

Bottom line: Network effects from strategic placing of content in places of user contributions are the key to market link and point of presence dominance with Web 2.0.

If all of this is a bit too much to take in, I’ve spied a very good definitive guide on the Basics of Web 2.0, its growth and how it works at SEOMoz.

Viigo Review: Now only for Blackberry.

Formerly published and known as Newsclip Viigo is a great RSS news reader for mobile devices. For this review I’m using this application on a HTC Diamond using WM6.1.

Viigo is a free RSS reader for mobile device / phones. It can work with stand alone PDAs using syncing. Like my favourite Avantgo [no longer running], I was looking for a great application for reading whole new stories. The main application has sections for news, weather, sports, traffic, politics, entertainment, and shopping and travel news.

How to use Viigo:

The application is free. All you need do is go to their main portal, Viigo.com and set up an account. Just download the application and using active sync or Windows Mobile centre add the device to your phone

It integrates with Google reader and using the account one can add or take off channels pretty easily.. It’s a pretty light application and easy to use. There’s 7 main content sections. The weather reports gives you the current conditions. It can show up to a 5 day forecast with the temperatures and conditions like rain, clouds and so on. However outside the US I’ve found the weather buggy on a HTC. As I’ve not tried on other PDAs I am unsure how stable the application is. There are options for more detailed forecast by clicking on an Extended Forecast that links into US centric AccuWeather.com info.

For Europeans the traffic news is again covers New York and London only. You might find using Google Maps a little more up to date for day-to-day use easier.

The application integrates easily with Google Reader and using the Viigo service allows blog and Twitter submissions. It can take quite a few syncs if you have updated Google Reader for Viigo to recognize a new feed. As a work around, I have found you have to delete and re-add Google reader for the new channels to be incorporated. It’s a minor annoyance and may be more down to HTC and Microsoft than the developer. For me, the best part is its integration into Twitter.

You can set up the application to download when you’re connected to your local network or via dataplan to your mobile provider. It can save up to 1250 articles. Just so you know the default articles are is 250. The great thing about RSS is that you can read whole articles [but depends on the site]. If you want the software to auto update you can select it for every few hours or to only update manually. You may also select to handle rich text and download images. However, if the device locks I have not found to date anyway to update news feeds with autolock function. If you are a manager or work in security I have not found a workaround for this.

News articles can be posted to Twitter, Delicious, and you may email it to a friend or even to yourself. The application already contains a link to Audio & Podcast, but it doesn’t seem to work that well. I believe it is still in production.

Overall, I’ve not found a better news reader to date. There are some teething problems with the application and if you’re tweaking your device it does become unstable. Additionally if you are using the device to download and you are viewing items performance is hindered. The only annoying factor is one is unable to state to use the stylus to move the page outside of the sidebar slider. As a free reader you will be hard pressed to find another reader this stylish on the market!

Email Blasting: Great For Business?

Email Blasting is respectableEmail Blasting is respectable

[Originally posted on Linkedin].  I liked it so much as a reply I’m adding it here. The question asked have email blasts gained in respectability. The answer is of course – YES! [Skip to the final two paragraphs to find out why… but I recommend you read it through here].

In my experience somewhere a director has heard about the pluses of email marketing. They hear the word ‘email blast’. They normally ask some junior marketeer to start blasting people as they’re sure the recipients really like to hear unrelated, un-targeted and often irrelevant material.

“Email blasts” is an old school term normally coined AT an emarketing/commerce manager. This professional often rolls their eyes and puts pins in a doll right after the board meeting.

Sadly as the campaign was initiated from a HIPPO [highest paid person’s opinion], there’s little recourse to dissuade them. Well, in my little fiction below I’ve made a story quite funny. It is however based on real-life experiences from emarketers I’ve networked with.

Prologue:

“Where there’s email there’s gold!” I don’t want to paint a black picture…

There’s an obviously great first campaign as recipients wonder who’s sent them an email in the first place.

The emarketer’s report for the first campaign isn’t a great starting point to knock down the Hippo.

“Cool”, says the Hippo: “50% opens and a huge amount of clicks….send more”.

The internal head shaking of the marketing professional continues!

The HIPPO starts to grin and retorts why the marketing manager was so reluctant to send an email at all.

“Hey, if its great with the first one why not send out weekly ones?”, the Hippo sees the virtual gold.

“Oh and those bounces, don’t worry about them I need to send to X,000,000 people per month. Keep them in if you can. Board meeting is next week. There’s a good chap. Fancy a scone?”

Meanwhile in a galaxy not so far away………….

ACT 1

An evil ESP or IT professional starts to notice the beginning signs of blacklisting with blocked emails, high bounce rates and starts to block your ‘blasts’.

Later that day : Sales departments ask why emails are not getting through.

“This contact is in my sales book…”. They end up using gmail to start sending commercial mail ruining the branding plus making the company look like a muppet in a fly by night company!

ACT 2

Meanwhile in the sales department they hear from the commercial manager the success with the ‘email blasts’. Having access to their own contact’s email addresses they too see the benefit in direct marketing.

Later that month… opens are around 5-10% and the domain starts to suffer!

The often jovial but recluse IT manager gets a call at 3am asking why they can’t even send emails internally. He’d better get down to the office now to sort it out.

EPILOGUE

At the next Business Summit in Geneva.

The sales team are eager to get their teeth into the awaiting delegates, the Hippo wanders over to the VIP area. The Hippo preps his card and does a very fair assessment / sales pitch of his company:

The delegate replies: “Ahh… you’re from X company. I heard from you guys [laughs]. I get your emails on a daily basis.. hahahaha…. hahahahahah…. hahahahaha”.

[fill in your own laughter as it’s a waste of space]

The delegate is very pleased to have made your acquaintance and now has a very important persons card.

No need now to contact the IT or marketing guy… go right for the top and ask the Hippo to stop ‘email blasting’ [insert Spam].

Later that week the Hippo’s email address is Twittered. Cue black spider spam bots that grab email addresses….

The IT manager gets another call from the Hippo. It’s normally virus related. Better send that PC back to Dell!

CONCLUSION

So, it’s gained in respectability but normally from the top by the uninformed whose company’s reputation suffers, profitability drops and sales database that had great ROI potential, starts to become next to useless.

CASE STUDY FACTS AND FICTION

This story is based on imaginary events or stories heard from 3rd parties at networking events in Barcelona, Germany, and London.

The Geneva event is fictional. However I was very close an actual happenings  at an event with a company director who was being shunned at for the remainder of his stay at the event. People were then out for this person’s blood when they found out he was there.  It was the talking point at the event.

For an emarketing professional, I believe it is BEST to find out and get references from companies that have practiced this type of formula. If you’re being bullied to make it happen then get a meeting with an actual bad case study on the phone! It won’t make you popular, but you won’t be having any of the problems above. Although I’ve written this article very light heartily its a real threat. Feel free to link this article!

What does LION mean on Linked In?

I was quite puzzled the other day. I was thinking hey there’s a lot of people with LION after their name. Is it a charity? Something for Haiti relief?

No, what it actually means is Linked In Open Networker. What you will see is their email address quite plainly on their homepage. I wonder just how long it’ll take LinkedIn to realise its against their best interests to allow this. However, the trend has started and people want to connect for free. Sometimes it’s just crazy how close you are connected to some real influencers in the world. In my LI profile I’m 3 steps away from the head of facebook Europe!

So…. go ahead and connect like crazy, while the LION is still roaring! I think if you leave the cats alone for too long you might find its harder to connect.

Why I love Windows 7

Intro:

I’m an avid Windows user, hell I know the differences between various Linux platforms and the speed benefits. I’d say if you’re gonna try linux on a budget then use it at your leisure with a notebook. Get used to it and then start thrashing it.

Thing is, if you’ve made an investment in software that you’re comfortable that works well and is compatible shouldn’t your continuity be seamless? This is the biggest problem facing anyone who’s facing the decision.

The functionality and speed of Windows 7 is on bar with XP. If you’ve bought your PC from July to the end of this month you can get a cheap upgrade. Mine was just £30.  I’d get it if only to try it out!

If you’re using Vista… why? Keep yourself from hating your PC with Vista. For 30 odd quid you can change your relationship with it.

If you’ve got XP, it might be worth waiting until you buy another PC but there’s some very nice features and not a steep learning curve if you decide to upgrade. To be honest, the interface is nicer and I like pinning items to the task bar and/or system menu, but its not worth it if you’re happy sticking for now!

Outline

Around August I bought my mid range Tosh laptop with Vista. I’ve a Duo 2 2ghz processor and 4GB of RAM. Despite tweaking it with msconfig the machine took ages to boot.  Sometimes it was about 3 minutes to get the the log-in page and longer for the desktop items to kick in. Looking for emails in Outlook was short if you counted it in ice ages. I literally hated my laptop and wondered why I bothered to buy it. Are you feeling the same?

All in all with Vista I was looking at a boot and stable system at about 5 minutes. This isn’t satisfactory! With my Tosh I’ve got all types of security like face recognition and finger print recognition. I had to turn these off. They impaired performance so bad that it was a feature that became an obstacle.

Having tried Vista at home and work on different machines, despite all the tweaking you’re looking at LONG times for loading and performance just sucks!

Windows 7 Installation & Benefits

The upgrade took about 1.5 hours. This included drivers from Tosh plus the upgrade disk. The main part of the waiting was the back-up it made for roll-back!

The instructions were clear but you have to make sure you have a driver disk. My installation installed the drivers first and then the upgrade. There’s probably a LOT of redundant drivers but I’ve not noticed any lagging performance.

One thing, make sure you set up your autoback-ups again in Word, Excel etc… and have made big back-ups of your system! I encountered NO problems to date but hey.. you need to be sure!

Installation is a LOT longer than other versions of Windows. Normally I go with a CLEAN install. This was a dirty overwrite. I’m unsure if the upgrade vs clean install is any quicker.. Maybe you can comment below?

Benefits

The great part of the installation is that it installs drivers that aid with legacy programmes. For example Outlook 2003, Dreamweaver MX and Adobe 6 work fine on my PC. I’ve had no glitches. I’m using VST plug-ins for music and with multiple sessions [can include up to 4] plus a heavy weight sound recording program. They’re working like a dream. One always gets a bit of lag at times, [it is Windows] but I’ve not lost any work to date! Its more less than, than it being that often….

First boot up after installation takes time. This put the wind up me. However, after that it boots up and is ready to use in 1.5 minutes. So performance is very noticeably higher.

You remember Vista kept on reminding you each time about a program running without you confirming it, well they’ve done the right thing and aided the user in set up about this. It can yes, make it less secure. However if you’re using a USER rather than an ADMIN account it lessens the damage at least!

Windows 7 Problems

Again MS have changed the control panel and some really easy features with XP like screen savers, wallpapers and sounds one has to get used to the new interface. I’d really like to ask WHY they’ve done this? They change it each and every time.

I find there’s a Windows Media Viewer that’s buggy and RESOURCE intensive. I’d give this a miss. Likewise, Windows Media Player is still buggy and is slow in response. I’d recommend VLC [which I use for podcasting, mp3 and video].

There were reports of the black screen of death. It DID happen, but mainly when I was thrashing the PC to its limits [sound recording, Word open, 2 email progs, messenger, skype etc etc] .

2 weeks ago MS released a large patch. Since then I’ve not encountered it at all.  To be honest I miss the blue screen of death, at least a user knew WHERE they were.

Conclusion

Depending on your upgrade charge I’d say Windows 7 offers the benefits from Vista.  It will increase your productivity, mental health and hey, surfing experiences!

If you’re an XP user I’d consider upgrading if only for the higher security benefits in the longer term. You might want to wait it out. There’s some nice features but I’d say for the price, if it’s 30 quid… well you can try it out. It looks nicer, there’s some nice touches and less known exploits at this stage in time. You can roll back whenever you want!