Changes to Google Search

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google has made some changes, yet again. Google search now has “Social Search”.  This means that when you are logged into your Google account and do a search that you will get personal results.

Things that will show up are people that are connected to your Google account or Google+. Google claims that this will give you an awesome personalized experience.  Since people are more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation over an automated system the theory seems like it would work.

However, I’ve noticed that it’s almost more topic specific.  Just because a friend of mine talked about a new computer system 2 months ago, doesn’t mean that I can use his input on a computer problem.

I actually find this somewhat annoying because the personalized results take up more valuable space at the top of the page.  I already have to scroll past the ads that were shaded at the top… now even more junk clutters the page.

The other thing that bugs me about this new change is that since it’s a Google product they don’t give you results from Facebook or Twitter.  Only a handful of my friends are on Google+, if I need to crowd-source a question- I’ll ask on Facebook.

I’ll be talking about how this new social search affects SEO in a post later this week.

If you have an opinion about Google Social Search let me know in the comments below.

TWITTER IS aLIVE

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

   With the New Year well under way, I have noticed something new, at least in my circle. The 2012 Supercross season kicked off three weeks ago and the live broadcast on Speed incorporated tweets as filler. The tweets were from NASCAR drivers that were watching the Supercross race. Other tweets were of pictures of viewers “Supercross parties.” This was the first time I had seen this and it seems to be a trend in live sports broadcast.English: Wordmark for Twitter logo

   The Superbowl has plans of its own for bringing the interaction to the social media’s.  The organizers anticipate so much activity that they have set up a command center to monitor and communicate solutions to issues that arise with 150,000 people expected to flood Indianapolis. See Mashable article

Along the same line, the NFL is going to allow players to tweet during the Pro Bowl. This is the first time since July of 2009 that a player will be allowed to tweet during an official NFL function. This will allow for live interaction between fans and players via social media. The players cannot use personal devices, but there will be a computer on the sidelines in a designated area. I am guessing that this will all be via an “NFL” account? Can’t wait to see results of how it went.  http://mashable.com/2012/01/25/pro-bowl-tweets

I do not know what is feeding it or where it will end up, but Twitter seems to be the new medium for a call in talk show format for  live broadcasts. I am predicting that the Daytona 500 will have some interaction with their live broadcast as well. We will see?

PC or Apple- which one are you?

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Categories: Technology Trends Tags: , , , ,

3 Ways to Engage Your Customers

December 27, 2011 1 comment

By Heidi Adams

CONTESTS:English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Run a contest in-store or on Facebook or BOTH to promote a new item you’re going to carry.  Perhaps give consumers the chance to name it.  Name this new cookie flavor and win, a month’s supply.

If you’re not in the cookie business you could have them guess the amount of something or come up with the next promotion themselves.  It’s a great way to get feedback.   The prizes don’t have to be expensive, remember you’re catering to people who already like you.  Something like a gift card or even merchandise you were going to put on sale anyway works fine in this instance.

GIVEAWAYS:

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, you are trying to grow your online following.

Post from the Madison College Libraries page.

A fun thing to do on a Facebook Fan page is a give-away.  The giveaway would be randomly drawn from your list of fans once you reach a certain number.  For example, the Madison College Library wanted to reach at least 600 likes and they chose to give away a nook color once they reached that number.

Another tactic is to do smaller prizes but more of them – an example would be “help us gain 20 fans by the end of the week and we’ll give away a $15 gift card.”

If you’re a business that works with vendors frequently, you might be able to ask for some free product to help promote.  It’s always a great way for them to advertise, too.  “We got a set of widgets from our widget vendor, comment on this post and be entered to win them.”

THANK-YOU’s:

So you thanked the customer after they paid for their merchandise.  What about when they got home, or even the next month to see if they are still happy with their purchase? You might think it’s excessive, but if done the right way it will build your relationships.

Here is an example,  you up-sold the customer at your salon on a new shampoo that would work for them.  What about emailing them or better yet- Facebook messaging them to get their opinion?  You could word it like, “Thanks again for coming in last week!  What do you think about that new brand, is it working for you? Let me know what you think”

If you have the customer snail mail address, write them a letter, “Thanks for doing business with us. We hope that welder is getting some good use, let us know how it’s going and send us a pic of your work!”

In this rough economy a little goes a long way.  Be sincere and say thanks!

If you have ideas or thoughts on customer engagement comment below or write us an email: itrendmadison@gmail.com

EWASTE

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

By Clint Dehnert

I have never considered myself and environmentalist or “tree huger” on any scale. But with today’s society it is impossible to not at least be aware of some of the environmental  issues. One issue in particular has stuck in my mind since I saw a show about ewaste a few years ago. We live in a day and age that things that are here today, can be gone tomorrow. Things are changing faster than we have ever seen in the history of the world. In my research for this subject, I found a quote by a reporter at the New York Times that sums it all up; There is no heaven for cellphones.”

The information that I am bringing up is all over Youtube and Greenpeace’s website. We have recently started the holiday shopping season and witnessed “Black Friday” “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” Most of the hot products are electronics like big screen TV’s, Smartphone’s, and the tablet.

Every holiday season around Thanksgiving time you see the new technology hit the shelves and airwaves. With this all in the back of your mind, I ask, what happens to the old TV? What happens to the old computer or laptop?

According to Urbanmining.org 41.1 million computers, 20 million TV’s, and 100 million cellphones are being replaced every year. Only 13% of these millions of electronics are recycled and disposed of properly. To put it bluntly, we are polluting our entire world with toxic chemicals with our insatiable appetite for the latest electronic technology.

Even the recycling centers are a business. To keep profits up, some are breaking the law. After the good, reusable components are reclaimed; they are sending it to the same places that it would have gone if you would not have recycled it at all.    

The examples are in Asia and Africa where policy and regulation is nonexistent or not enforced in some cases. What happens there is what is polluting the environment as well as killing fellow human beings. It is what is putting toxic chemicals in our food chain.

Things like lead, mercury, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals are making it into landfills here in the U.S. Some of the components that are recycled are being burned to claim the precious metals and making it into the air and water supply in other countries. All water eventually ends up in the ocean doesn’t it? The ocean supplies food for all over the world right?  Having to have the latest technology is putting toxic chemicals in your food, water, and the air you breathe.

With the almighty dollar driving our every move, I noticed something in my research that was not stated on any of the sites. On YouTube, I found videos about extracting the minimal amount of gold that is in a circuit board. These videos have been viewed by over 160,000 viewers. Some of the videos that show what this is doing to the environment have been viewed by only a couple thousand. This extraction process utilizes things like Nitric and Hydrochloric Acid.

In this process, you can see the vapors (nitrogen dioxide)  spewing from the container and making it into the open air, this cannot be good for the environment, and in the end, us. I find it ironic that the very products that are causing this “ewaste issue” are a necessity so we can further pollute the vital resources of our everyday life. We need a new computer so we can watch a YouTube video with better picture quality on how to claim gold out of our old computers! See a pattern?


Instant Gratification and Hunting

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

by Clint Dehnert

From my perspective, I see it getting harder and harder to have a realistic chance of harvesting a deer in Wisconsin.  For me, this chance is what drives me to get up at 4 a.m. and walk through the woods or a swamp in the dark. Hunting is a rite of passage and a tradition passed on by the elders. Groups of hunters are a brethren and the nine day season is anticipated for the whole year.  Good places to hunt for free used to be simply a knock on a door away.

Those days are simply memories that I treasure as of today. In the modern era of hunting, you buy a deer in one way or another. According to MS Forestry, leasing property is on the rise. This information is for Missouri, but it illustrates the trend that is going on nationwide. According to the link, land owners are leasing the recreational rights to their land for $3.50 to $15.00 an acre, per calendar year. This is good income for a land owner. Prime land calculated example; If you have a 1000 acre farm, and choose to lease it, it could yield $15,000 just for letting a group of outdoor enthusiast use it. On the low end, a farm this size would still bring in $3500.00 in residual income annually. My experience puts the figures of a 400 acre farm at $4.00 an acre in Southern Wisconsin.

To the non hunter, this is a lot of money and they may not believe this information, but it is the reality of the situation. The cost of purchasing land is what makes this trend reality. One acre of land with hardwoods on it brings a market price of $10,000. Ten acres of hunting land could cost in excess of $100,000.

You could just shot a deer in a pen, it is an option. It is possible to go to a deer farm and get it all done in one day. According to Maple Hill’s White Tails you will spend from $2000.00 to in excess of $12,000.00 for a trophy whitetail. I know most hunters would say  “that is not hunting!” Personally, I agree 100%. The fact of the matter is, once it is on the wall you can tell the story however you want. This is the world we live in. Instant gratification and money can buy anything, even deer tales.

I will stay away from the controversial topic of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) and what the Wisconsin DNR has done to the ageless family tradition of deer hunting in Southern Wisconsin. I will not go on at length of the economic impact that the hunting industry has on rural towns and communities across the state. What I will mention is the decline in deer hunting when it comes to the archery sector of the season. When CWD was discovered in the deer herd in February 2002, bating was made illegal statewide. Not being able to better ones chances of seeing a deer has bow hunting numbers steadily declining. (The laws have been modified since 2002 to allow bating is select counties.) Bow hunters are dwindling, good places to hunt are harder to find, and the rules to pull the trigger are getting stricter every year.  Regardless of your views of fair chase or your preferred weapon, deer season just isn’t what it used to be, and that is sad.

2 local organizations for social media help

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

by Heidi Adams

I think we’ve all heard the saying it’s not what you know it’s who you know?  I think that in the case of social media that is even more true.  Sometimes networking offline is just as important as sitting at your desk tweeting.

There are two organizations in the community that make a point to do offline networking to improve their members’ online influence. You aren’t required to be a marketing professional or even a social media professional to be a part of these organizations. If you’re a new comer to social media or a pro the meetings and events provided by these organizations is a are great opportunities to bounce ideas off of professionals and peers.  Social media tools, trends and tips are discussed and networking is inevitable.

Social Media Breakfast:

Linkedin.com : Social Media Breakfast – Madison

Twitter: @smbmad

Facebook: facebook.com/socialmediabreakfastmadison

Website: www.socialmediabreakfast.com

Email: smbad@gmail.com

Who are they?

Social Media Breakfast is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2007.  Originally it started in Boston and there are now over 40 cities around the world that have their own chapter.  The Madison Chapter was founded in 2009.

On the Madison Chapter’s website the mission statement is front and center, “Early morning meetings with a focus on education, networking and caffeine”.

What do they do?

Since one of the goals in their mission statement is education, events put on by this organization are a great forum for learning about social media. SMBMad has an early morning meeting every 3rd Wednesday of the month at varying locations. Events range from speakers, panels or work sessions. It is a great opportunity to network face to face.  Best practices are discussed and reviewed at these meetings.  Registration for these meetings is required and you sign up via Eventbrite.  (Search for Social Media Breakfast Madison) The events are typically free due to sponsorship for businesses in the community.

In addition to the face to face meet-ups SMBMad keep an updated Twitter, Facebook and Linked In feed.  Discussions on what to meet about next or job openings are just some of the things discussed. Blogs from some of the board members are posted to the Linked In group feed as well.

Social Media Club, Madison:

Linkedin.com : Social Media Club of Madison (MadisonSMC)

Twitter: @MadisonSMC

Facebook: facebook.com/MadisonSMC

Google+: Social Media Club of Madison

Website: madisonsmc.org

Email: MadisonSMC@gmail.com

Who are they?

The mission statement of the Social Media Club National Organization is, “to expand digital media literacy, promote standard technologies, encourage ethical behavior and share best practices.”  The local Madison branch states on its site that they “focus on networking within the group” and goes on to say “we like to include a social media tool focus.”

The national group was started in San Francisco in 2006. Membership in the local branch is free and there are varying degrees of membership for the national organization.

What do they do?

Monthly events are held after business hours from local sponsors.  The last event was at The Madison Club .  Prior to that there was a meet up at AJ Bombers to socialize and raise money for the local group.  Other past events have included panel discussions, speakers and even pub-crawls with Foursquare.

It is suggested to register for these events and registration is available via Eventbrite. (search for MadisonSMC)

They also have active Twitter and Facebook pages that focus on social media trends and local topics.