Google goes rainbow

Why Google is Winning and What This Means for You

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Why:

Long-term strategy:

In a tech economy with four major players (Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple), Fast Company’s Farhad Manjoo describes what Google has as “a coherent, long-term strategy to fight the tech war on every front.” While the other three are leaders in a specific area, Google’s strategy can prevail on three different time horizons: today, next year, and the far-off future.

Diverse strengths

Amazon has become the online shopping leader, Apple’s iPhone garners 3/4 of the world’s mobile phone profits, and Facebook has, by far, the largest social network. Despite this, as Apple fan and blogger John Gruber puts it, “Google is getting better at what Apple does faster than Apple is getting better at what Google does. Google, despite trailing in mobile profits, Google’s Androids account for nearly 70% of mobile units sold worldwide — a total that has sparked competitive action from Apple in the form of the iPad mini release and talks of a cheaper iPhone. What few may realize is that Google has 330% more ebook titles available than Amazon. Finally, Google crushes Facebook in online ad revenue and, despite possessing a smaller network, collects more data from its users.

Data-mining superiority

How can data-dependent app developers compete with Google? How can other search engines improve at a competitive rate? The fact that Google’s mobile advertising game is unmatched is an indication that, in our increasingly data-driven world, if you’re winning data-mining then you’re well on your way to a sustainable competitive advantage; something hard to come by in a turbulent tech world.

 

What This Means for You:

For the purpose of this post I’m going to focus on business owners. As a business owner, Google’s strength means two things:

Analyze

Google’s data-mining capabilities are reflected in its Google Analytics tool, allowing you to do what they do in a smaller way. Google Analytics should be the backbone of any company’s marketing plan. Educate yourself before you spend a single dollar.

Optimize 

Use tools like SEO-Moz to evaluate and improve your search engine optimization. Google’s success and our increasingly referral-based world will have your business’s success depending on where you come up on Google and what people are saying about you. It’s as easy as our mantra: Create, Engage, Share, Measure.

 

 

 

Three Simple Ways to Listen Online

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As I hope you’ve read in my recent post, An Urgent Message for All Businesses on Twitter, it’s (still) time to stop shouting about yourself and start listening to others on social media platforms and in life in general. Marketing is now way more about what others are saying about you than it is about what you are saying about yourself. If there’s a disconnect between these two things, people will find out. That’s now easier than ever to do so. Think of marketing as being completely reversed. Advertising and bleeding incessant brand info is the old way. Now, you can be the most effective by zipping your lip for awhile and listening to what others are saying and, whether its positive or negative, using the information constructively to make improvements to your product or service’s core and rectify customer dissatisfaction.

I’ve tweeted my thanks to multiple businesses on this week upon receiving slightly above average customer service and quality repairs. I’ve received a response or acknowledgment roughly one third of the time. Yes, ONE THIRD. ONLY ONE THIRD. I’m basically tossing Jose Bautista an underhanded lob in the middle of the strike zone and watching him refuse to swing. As far as I’m concerned, these businesses who aren’t listening might as well delete their accounts immediately. Their tweets about themselves have very little value and EVEN LESS VALUE if they aren’t going to respond to their satisfied customers.

I’m going to cease this rant to illustrate three easy ways to listen to your customers online:

1: Twitter Search
This is so simple. Search your business name, your product name, or some industry keywords to get a perception of what people are saying. Just be sure you’ve got all your basic bases covered before you do this (replying to those who have mentioned you, thanking people for sharing your information, and acknowledging new followers). Twitter culture allows you to jump in on conversations that pertain to you without being deemed a troll. Try this out and don’t fear negative feedback. It presents a world of opportunity.

2: Net Promoter Score
Net Promoter Score is a feedback system easily added to websites and bricks and mortar businesses that asks customers to answer one simple question: How likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend or family member? We love it and think no business should move a muscle until NPS becomes their starting point. View a quick slide show.

3. Asking Simple Questions
Sometimes listening and getting feedback is as simple as asking. Don’t be so afraid of the answers you’re going to get that you avoid asking your customers questions. Avoid asking just for the sake of asking or asking questions with the sole intention of sounding like you care. Embrace any information you receive. This is a tactic that will result in valuable information if executed correctly AND create the kind of engagement that will be constructive for your business.

An Urgent Message For All Businesses on Twitter

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Forget everything you’ve learned about having a presence on Twitter. Start over.

Twitter has never been about incessant self-promotion but, luckily, people have put up with businesses like yours repeatedly reminding them of your groundbreaking 10% off sale for quite some time now. The charade is over and patience is wearing thin.

Check out your past ten tweets. If more than two of them are telling your customers something about yourself, I’m willing to bet you’ve become white noise by now. Marketing is changing. At first, businesses thought it was good enough to just be on Twitter. That was never good enough and now, being a business who interacts a bit but spends most of your tweets bleeding brand information is the same as “just being there.”

The change is apparent. It’s 90% about what people are saying about you and 10% about what you say about yourself. Twitter and other platforms exist to allow you to listen – not to allow you to shout. It’s not an opportunity to be the one in a one-to-many scenario. Flip that megaphone around and be the one who listens to many. If someone’s mentioned you or your business on Twitter and you haven’t responded, take whatever cash you have in your pocket, crumple it into a ball, and toss it at the nearest waste basket. This is exactly what you’re doing. A response to one person is likely worth more to your company than a blanket promotional tweet to no one in particular. Not responding is the quickest way to form negative brand impressions in a world where there is no such thing as a neutral one. Grab that low-hanging fruit.

Luckily, the overwhelming majority of people and businesses are doing things horribly wrong. It’s never been easier to stand out. Create contrast. Think like Will Smith and flip that school uniform inside-out.

Your ears grow until the day you die. Your mouth does not. Coincidence? No.

Use platforms to be the one learning from many – not the one yelling at the desensitized masses.

You can start right now:
Three Simple Ways to Listen Online

Professional Stock Photos-the im ammused by a good book

Snapchat. Yay or Nay?

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Surprise surprise. Another social media platform is gaining steam. But can you really call Snapchat a platform? I suppose you can but, for those looking to grow their own platform, can it really be of any use? In a recent Six Pixels of Separation podcast (which I highly recommend you check out), Mitch Joel discusses the permanent internet vs. the impermanent internet. Snapchat falls under the category of impermanence.

Here’s a quick rundown for those unfamiliar with Snapchat:
1. A user takes a picture (or short video) using the app (the user can’t use pictures that already exist in your camera roll as you can with Instagram).
2.  They can then add rough animated sketches or text to the pictures.
3. A time limit/expiry time is set for the picture – making it only available to be seen for that length of time while the viewer holds a finger on the screen.
4. If a viewer decides to take a screenshot of the picture, they can do so successfully but the viewer will be notified.
5. The picture is then deleted forever.

In a world where many of us work hard to create content that will help us find our voice online and give us permanent credibility, Snapchat seems to be much too fleeting to be instrumental. This skepticism is met with even more pessimism from those who scoff at the app, calling it “sleazy”, “controversial”, and “obviously only for racy photos”.

Let’s consider the good, the bad, and some possible uses.

The Good: Snapchat has continued to bring enjoyment (on somewhat of a surface level) to its users who enjoy giving people a glimpse into their daily lives without worrying as much about how they look or how the Toaster filter affects their like count. And of course, fuelling our dopamine-driven social media world, is the busy nature of a person’s Snapchat inbox due to the ability to mass send pictures. The fact that Snapchat connects people can’t be disputed. It can brighten a boring workday, enhance an event, and give you a laugh you otherwise wouldn’t have had (and who can put a value on that?). My initial concerns were that Snapchat would become everyone’s default photo app – limiting Instagram use and hindering the spread of video apps like Vine. I’m starting to become more optimistic about its effect on apps like Instagram which, in my opinion, are bombarded with those low-quality-look-at-me-now pictures. Now these pictures can be shot out into the Snapchat world and expire like they should – increasing the overall quality of pictures posted to the ‘Gram.

The Bad: As you’d expect, and as the naysayers will attest to, Snapchat does get used for pictures that would otherwise not be taken or sent. It’s almost like “don’t worry, i’ll just snapchat it” will begin justifying things that shouldn’t be justified. Also, the “humour” sometimes goes a bit too far and “fun” is had at the expense of a person being photographed by adding cartoon drawings of things I’m sure you’ve seen or could imagine before the picture’s sent. Here’s a controversy resulting from inappropriate use of the app: Teens’ Nude Photos From Snapchat Lead to Investigation Also in the category of “bad” falls the fact that Snapchat’s impermanence makes it more easily classified as a time-wasting app – increasing doubt as to whether a business could use it in a positive, meaningful way.

Possible Usefulness: On that note, here’s where I’ll make a quick argument regarding its usefulness for a business. I ran into the organizer for the Regina Folk Festival the other day. She was carrying a roll of posters of the 2013 summer festival’s lineup on them. The lineup was to be announced the following day and the group of us sitting near her did all we could to convince her to give us even a one second glimpse. And now I’m sure you can see where this is going. How easy is it for a major festival to encourage people to add them on Snapchat with the incentive of advanced lineup “glimpsing”? I’ve spent minutes looking at full lineups for festivals and failed to notice a band that later sparks conversation with a friend. The amount of conversation resulting from a multitude of people each getting a one second glance at a small picture of the lineup would be an interesting thing to attempt to measure. Even if someone manages to take a screenshot, the idea of a “leaked” schedule can create even more conversation. It’s these kinds of things, that actually add some value for viewers who give companies the permission to speak to them, that will endure as we become more selective about who we follow, like, and listen to.

Conclusion: Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

branding don't buy in

What You Need To Know About Branding

Brand Delusions BookI just finished what I think is one of the best books written on Branding I’ve ever read. It’s called Brand Delusions. It teaches you what branding is by telling a story of company in trouble and how they saved their brand. It’s an entertaining way to learn about branding and the counter-arguments you’re going to get when you try to adapt a new culture in your company.

Your Brand is a widely held set of beliefs and expectations about what you deliver and how you deliver it, validated by customers’ experiences.

Read More

5 Tips for Effective LinkedIn Advertising

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1. Bid at the high end of the suggested bid range.
2. Continuously review and adjust your daily budget.
Make sure your daily budget supports your click goals.
ie) $10 per day at $2 per click = 5 clicks. $10 a day at $4 per click = 2 clicks.
Note: Wednesday is the highest traffic day on LinkedIn so adjust your budget and optimization accordingly.
3. Be leery of granular targeting.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, adding more criteria to a campaign severely limits your audience. Shoot for an audience size of 200,000 to 400,000.
a) Determine criteria
b) Create several campaigns with only one or two criteria
c) Carefully watch estimated audience numbers to see if they fall in the 200,000 to 400,000 range.
4. Pay attention to creative best practices.
a) Calls to action
b) Mention value-adds like white papers and free trials
c) Use legible images (50×50 is very small). If using words, make sure they can be read easily
5. Optimize
Shoot for CTR (click-through rates) of above .025%. LinkedIn rewards ads of this nature while a poor track record is difficult to bounce back from. If you develop a poor track record, start a brand new campaign. In order to hedge against the poor track record, create three or more ads, put two live, then swap the third one in for the poorest performing one at the end of the first week.
 

Darwinism of Business Strategy

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Your customers are changing. Your customers want more, they want different, they want new, the want fully-loaded, and the want minimalism. How will you adapt?

It’s easy to stay with the status quo. A wise person doesn’t rock the boat, the old adage goes. But that’s assuming the sea is calm of course. What if the sea has transformed into a turbulent hurricane and the only way to stay afloat is to rock the boat and embrace the waves?

Business isn’t getting less turbulent, you may think your organization is immune but when it comes time for layoffs, a horrible “I told you so” is going to be the last thing you remember from your obsolete job.

It’s survival of the fittest on a whole new level.

The only constant is change. You must adapt. You must cannibalize your own products. Steve Jobs said this. His rationale was that if you don’t cannibalize your own products your competitors will.

Your core ‘why’ may never change but you’re probably going to change everything else about your product/service offering. Why wait till the market forces you to change? Why not lead change?

Plan to innovate. Plan to get feedback on your innovation. Plan to measure what works and be willing to change the plan based on the feedback you receive.

The organizations that thrive in 2013 and beyond will have a determination to adapt. A willingness to change for the better. They will take calculated risks and understand that the riskiest place to be is standing still avoiding change.

(Photo Credit: Digital Darwinism: survival of the business)

4 Ways to Get Facebook Shares (Part 2 of 2)

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As an add-on to my last post entitled “Time to Reconsider What You’re Sharing on Facebook” , here are the four reasons people share Facebook content:

1. To Make Their Life Easier
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Here are two great examples of people posting with the intent of making some aspect of their life easier. Taron needs music for a soundtrack and Laura needs a goalie to play for her team. Each post also has an element of helping others *foreshadowing*…

2. To Build Relationships
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If a nice pic of three great friends doesn’t strengthen their relationship, I don’t know what does. Seriously, though.

3. To Help Others
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A nice music suggestion makes me happy. Thanks Danny.

4. To Craft Their Identity
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We’re constantly posting pictures of things we like (maybe more so on Pinterest and Instagram these days), talking about issues that concern us, and stating our opinions on the absurd amount of people complaining about the weather these days. Originally, Facebook was all about crafting your identity when it was focused around actually listing your favourite bands and movies. Now, the ability to craft your identity lies in individual posts and the pages you like.

Now these are examples of people posting content that achieves these goals. For a business, create and post content that makes people’s lives easier, helps people forge relationships with you and others, is extremely helpful, and helps people craft their identity while identifying with you. And, of course, as illustrated below, make sure these posts fall in line with what people love about you. Discover this and get posting 2-5 times a week!

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Back to Part 1 (Time to consider what you’re sharing on Facebook)…

 

Time to Reconsider What You’re Sharing on Facebook (Part 1 of 2)

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Sssshhhh! It’s time to acknowledge that the days of simply asking questions, sharing quips, and doing giveaways on your business’s Facebook page are over.

If you’ve continued to rely on these tactics, I’m sure you’ve noticed plateaus or stagnant engagement.
If you haven’t and things are still rolling smoothly, think of just how much more effective you could be with some smarter posting.
We all know it was Steve Jobs who said, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
This is a case of staying hungry and looking for ways to constantly improve but staying intelligent while doing so.
Here’s how:

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 12.39.06 PM1. Discover what people love about you: Perhaps you already know exactly what people love about you. Perhaps you THINK you know what people love about you but it’s time to find out again. Even still, what people love about you in real life might not directly translate to what they like about you on Facebook. If there’s a disconnect, reel them back in to what’s truly great about your product or service by offering this info up in a way that adds value to them.

2. Recognize what people are likely to share: The average post is seen by 16% of those connected to your page. In order to increase this, you’re going to want to focus on the virality of your posts (shoot for 1-2% for post). Virality depends on people sharing your content. Pay close attention to what people have shared from your page in the past and focus on how your posts appear on the News Feed NOT on your own page. The News Feed is where people are most likely to see your post.

Part 2: The Four Main Reasons People Share and Like Facebook Content (via HooteSuite)

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