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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?


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.

QR CRAZE-overuse and overload?

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By Heidi Adams

What is a QR code?

QR stands for “quick response”.  Essentially the little black and white squares are a 2D barcode.  These barcodes are able to be scanned via traditional POS scanners or new smart phones and mobile devices. The codes are able to take users to a website, store data or even send an sms message.

The codes themselves are now able to be customized due to scanners having a 30% error correction rate.  This means that your logo can actually be superimposed over the QR code and the code will still function.

Do consumers see the value in QR codes anymore?

QR code placement has grown quickly in the last year-due in part to high amounts of smart phone subscribers.   While shopping this holiday season I’ve been inundated with QR codes.

They are even on items I wouldn’t suspect at first glance.  I think that consumers are starting to lose interest in QR codes without guidance.  What I mean by that is QR codes need to have a perceived value in order to be scanned.

At first, consumers were excited simply by the technology they possessed to be able to scan something and do something new.  Now if there isn’t an attached value to the QR code, it becomes a waste of the consumer’s time.  Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean.

Bad Examples:

  • A QR code on consumer packaging with no description-next to complete information about the product.
    • Why doesn’t this work?  Well if the data that is already needed is there to purchase a product, why would you scan the code.  Consumers are used to the code not leading to valuable information.
    • How to improve this? How about linking the code to consumer reviews or customer comments about the product. In addition to linking the code- TELL your customers why and what they will get out of scanning the QR.
    • A QR code on a website as part of a logo.
      • Why doesn’t this work?  All this says to me is “we’re trendy”. Take Macy’s for example.  It has been changed since, but a few months ago the middle of their traditional star logo was changed out for a QR code.  The code led to their website.  The logo was on their website.  Can you say, “redundant”?
      • How to improve this? Make the QR do something interesting.  How about linking to a coupon to be used in store that you can keep on your smart phone. You could even have it download an app for you, for shopping on the go.
      • QR code in a TV commercial.
        • Why doesn’t this work? Most commercials are about 30 seconds long. Why waste precious seconds showing a QR code that consumers wont have time to scan. Duncan Hines has a QR code in one of their box mix cake commercials.  It’s so pointless; it’s on the screen for less than 5 seconds.
        • How to improve this? Remove it- don’t waste the time or money.

Good Examples:

*Please note that the next three examples are “print” media.  Often the social media and traditional advertising don’t mesh together in the message.  A QR code is a great way to weave those two mediums together.

  • QR code for plant care tips on nursery seedling packaging.
    • Why does it work? The packaging on some plants at Home Depot this past spring, included a QR code.   The packaging also noted that if you wanted care tips about the plant, to scan the code. There was immediately added value to the product.

    • QR code on business card.
      • Why does it work? This one can go either way, but in the example I have the businessman decided to make his QR code link up to a coupon!  What a great reason to keep the card.  If you do use a QR on your business card make sure that it links up to something different than the information you have typed out.  Also make sure to write what to do with the code or tell the person you’re handing it to.
      • QR code on a DVD display.
        • Why does it work?  This is the best use of a QR code I have seen this holiday season. The QR code was on the display for a newly released DVD.  The display said to scan the code to see a trailer for the movie!  Genius.  If you didn’t see a trailer for it yet or didn’t remember the movie- here is the perfect opportunity to check it out again.  They only way to make that better would be to have free WiFi in the store!

What are some of the best or worst QR code uses you’ve seen?