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Category Archives: Branding

All Online Digital Roads Lead to Google Plus

All Online Digital Roads Lead to Google Plus
By Chris Abraham

Google can’t get any of us to use Google Plus, but they’re still trying. And they’re pushing hard. One of the reasons I love blogging is, for good or evil, I don’t need any evidence for anything I say. With that caveat, Google’s closing in on its goal of being federated across all of its properties, so be acutely aware. They’re triangulating us all and will soon be able to identify not merely what “you” — someone like you, a demographic generality — want, need, and desire, but what you, yourself, (or me, Chris Abraham), want in particular, down to, at most, your person (and the maximum 7.8 square meters around you).

Rejoice! I am no longer a 35–44 year-old white, college-educated, man, living in Metro Washington, I am 44-year-old Christopher James Abraham, who lives between Columbia Heights and Arlington Views, off of Columbia Pike in South Arlington, VA, who owns guns, motorcycles, spends money on eBay and Amazon, and loves eating fish tacos at Taqueria el Poblano during their weekday happy hour from 4-7pm — and many other very specific details of my life (like the fact that I attended the Nation’s Gun Show at the Dulles Expo Center).

Rejoice! Soon, Google’s reason for being will become truly manifest: all Google “organic” search results will be curated for my specific proclivities and all ads over all Google-associated and Google-partnered advertising networks, both online and offline, will be tailor-suited, bespoke, based on both my literal history of past searches, emails, subscriptions, and purchases but also based on a lot of cross-referencing that will try to predict my current, short, medium, and long term purchase and search decisions based on other close, similar users and algorithms that can now access petabytes, exabytes, zettabytes, and maybe even yottabytes real-time.

What does it mean? Well, I don’t care about my privacy, really, just my convenience. Then again, I am one of those guys who consider Minority Report to be more of a promise than a threat. I am one of those guys who grew up on The Well and the Meta Network, online communities that enforced real names anyway.

So, I am running full speed into the arms of big data to the extent that I recently gave up my Apple iPhone 5, a superior device, as my primary mobile device in favor of the new LG Google Nexus 5, a terribly-flawed-but-Google-integrated smart phone. But I am sold on the Google Empire because they stalk me so well.

The problem with the iPhone, as far as I am concerned, is how balkanized the phone is. It’s like the US: there is a Nation-State, Apple iOS, but the true power lies in the States, the Apps. Google Android phones are ruled by a federated, unified, Google OS, Android, with the Apps being mere applications under Android, with many of the top useful apps on Android devices being fully integrated Google Apps.

In the last six months, Google has made a lot of progress bringing us all in from the cold: from YouTube, from Google Search, from Picasa, Gmail, Google Apps for Business, Android phones, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Blogger, Google Hangout (née Google Talk), Orkut, and even Google Groups.

To wit, my friend asked me if I had ever been to the Tilted Kilt, a Hooters-like bar wherein the girls wear very revealing variations of the Scottish Kilt. I remember having been there years ago while in Atlanta. I searched “tilted kilt chris abraham” and the photos I had taken popped up in images, images that I believe I might have shared on Google+ years ago. Until recently, these sorts of deep content had been disappeared and lock-boxed into the bellies of Google’s various properties for whatever reason (maybe to not freak people out, so that they felt more comfortable sharing on Plus without always ending up in search); now, more and more of Google’s users’ content will be the first content to show up on top (as long as the content is set to public).

What’s more, Google’s always been savvier than this. Google has always gamed serendipity by serving up search results that include the people who are in your Google network, be it in your Gmail Inbox, your Contacts, your Google+, Picasa, or through any connections. This has always been the case. My friends are always popping me notes saying how small the world is because how often they bump into my content when searching for information on social media, single speed biking, digital PR, marketing, motorcycles, or firearms — yes, indeed, the world is small, but Google’s mad skills are making it (at least appear) smaller and smaller within your circle of friends and larger social networks. And, circa 2014, this will become even more refined and as close as real time as is “humanly” possible.

In many ways, the moment you step into an online world as curated by Google’s algorithms, you’re indeed entering a sim, stepping into a simulacrum of sorts, one of which Narcissus would be proud: the perfect reflection of your hopes, wants, needs, world views, passions, and desires. We’ll all become the Kings of our online experience.

The Emperor’s new clothes; the emperor has no clothes!

When Google buys applications, web properties, new and cool websites, and all the rest, profiting directly from those acquisitions is not what they’re interested in. Google’s only interested in heading you, as an online denizen, off at the pass. What they want is to flush all of us online grouse out of the bushes so that they can finally get a good bead on us. When Google finally gets us all locked in their sights, they’ll be able to finally identify each and every one of us all the way down to as close to our social security, passport, and drivers license numbers as possible.

And that’s an excellent thing if you’re willing and able to remain safely ensconced in the warm, soft, velvety embrace of the Matrix — like me — though I am not sure if this will reassure everyone as much as it does me. And, since every action has a reaction, Google’s search engine algorithm has a profitable flaw: it tends to highlight and prioritize popular content. And, what content is generally most popular?

Salacious gossip, embarrassing revelations, revealing photos, humiliations, and defamations. The dark side, of course, but also not Google’s problem: they just give the public what they want, just like anyone else — and if they didn’t, someone else would — all the while running profitable inline, contextual, banner, pre-roll, and video ads.

And all of this fun stuff is pinned to Google+.

As the saying goes, “all roads lead to Rome.” And Google’s Rome is Plus. Now that Google has us all hooked, they’re integrating all of these properties into the new Google+, whether or not you are currently a registered member. If you’ve invested in Google in any way, you’re a potential Plus member; and, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll just jump in feet first. It’ll improve your participation everywhere else, trust me, starting with the world’s favorite site: YouTube. As you may know, Google’s changed access to YouTube commenting to prefer Google+ members.

Google’s almost completed their new roads project: all roads lead to Plus. Resistance is futile. Still fighting? This is quicksand mate, stop struggling and just relax into Google’s vision for your media future, both online and off. It’s beyond your control.

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Chris Abraham

Principal Consultant at Gerri Corp.
Chris Abraham is a leading expert in digital, including online reputation management (ORM), Internet privacy, social media marketing and digital PR with a focus on blogger outreach, blogger engagement and Internet crisis response.
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Pinterest Updates: What Businesses and Brands Should Know

Pinterest Updates: What Businesses and Brands Should Know
By Jessica Oaks



Pinning things has become the new de rigueur for a large swath of the Internet population. Gone is the day of the bookmark. Gone is the day of the RSS feed. In today’s Internet environment, it’s all about pinning things, using Pinterest. While this simple task may seem on the surface somewhat trivial, the opposite is true. Put simply, pinning is as strong an indicator of what’s hot and what’s not as hashtags or what’s trending on Twitter are. Understanding this can allow businesses to more effectively market their products and build their online reputations.
 

 
The Social World’s Impact on Brick and Mortar You’ve likely seen it. A Yelp sticker in the window of your favorite restaurant. Stickers that say, in a nutshell, “We’re liked online so give us a try in real life!” That philosophy is beginning to find its way beyond the confines of review sites and into the broader digital realm. In fact, Nordstrom recently made the decision to base its product displays on which items had the most “pins” on Pinterest. A common sense, no-duh strategy when you think about it, but one that was seemingly forward thinking. Think about it: how many stores, especially stores as reputable and large as Nordstrom, have you seen do such a thing? And yet, it could represent a tidal shift in the way that businesses market their products and interact with consumers.

What Businesses Can Do to Capitalize on Pinterest

Perhaps most importantly, businesses need to be on Pinterest. Businesses have already adopted other social platforms; in fact, businesses large and small have all but universally joined Facebook and Twitter. The next logical step for many is to join Pinterest. This holds particularly true for businesses that sell a product, as for many of its users, Pinterest is a sort of giant wish list. Instead of bookmarking pages or adding a blog to an RSS feed, a user will pin a specific pair of shoes, dress, or pair of pants. If your products aren’t listed on the site, they can’t be pinned.
Perhaps more importantly, you can’t gain invaluable data on consumer interest and demand.

The Internet Experience in a Mobile World

It could be argued that Pinterest has caught on in such a big way because it is tailored to the mobile experience. The website interface is mobile friendly (with a recent redesign, the mobile site now looks and functions in much the same way as the company’s native app), the user experience is interactive, and there’s no shortage of stimuli to keep people engaged.

With people accessing the Internet increasingly from their smart devices – iPhones, Androids, Samsung LG2s and tablets – Pinterest is increasingly looking like the website of the moment. It provides search functionality, a browsing experience, and archiving and sharing apparatus all in one. In other words, Pinterest is Google and Facebook all at once. And, with wireless service providers such as T-Mobile offering free 4G LTE data for certain plans, the opportunity to access Pinterest anywhere, anytime is now a reality among many customers. To learn more about devices with free 4G LTE, check this out.

In 2014, “The Year of Mobile,” there are many online outlets for businesses to interact with consumers, but perhaps none better than Pinterest, what may be the most mobile-friendly platform of them all. Brands need to ask themselves: can they risk not having a presence going forward? Is Pinterest merely a fad or is it destined to have a real impact on consumer behavior and marketing?

Pinterest Can Help Improve the Bottom Line

There can be little doubt that Pinterest is destined to join the ranks of Facebook and Twitter as the next big name in the tech world. Some would argue that the company has already achieved this. Regardless of how one would value the success of Pinterest, it is likely safe to say that businesses looking to engage with their customer base should consider joining now, before they fall too far behind the curve.

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.

Secrets to Unleash Your Employees to Power Your Social Marketing

Secrets to Unleash Your Employees to Power Your Social Marketing
By Eric Schiffer



My ex-girlfriend hated the Facebook page for her company. She said it was boring, not relevant to customers, and didn’t educate or entertain them, and certainly didn’t cause them to act to buy. Consider that if your own employees don’t even like your company’s Facebook page, why should anyone? At the root of social media is engagement, the opportunity to get your brand into the minds of people. It is an opportunity to develop quality leads. The average social media user has ninety people in their network. If you persuade the average social media user to link to your content, ninety trusted impressions could be headed your way.
 

 
Identifying and curating good content is the key to persuading the average social media user to look at or link to your company. As the CEO of DigitalMarketing.com, I’m frequently asked why this Twitter handle isn’t getting enough follows, or why their Facebook post wasn’t shared enough. The answer in part is failing to properly capitalize on your number one resource, your employees, for social media marketing purposes. It can be a difference-maker to your bottom line.

The potential of social media to drive revenue for companies remains largely untapped. Most will stick a 23-year-old fresh out of college in the entry-level position of “social media” without considering that this person is now the voice connecting your customers to your business. It’s dangerous to give someone much power, so green, when one tweet can lead to a backlash, boycott, or worse. Spending all day on Instagram does not qualify someone as a social media expert.

To start, here are a few tips: Crowdsource your social content by asking your employees to submit social media update ideas and picking the best ones to post on your social media pages. Turn it into an office wide contest. You will diversify your content streams and increase the amount of activity that takes place on your social networks.

Ensure that your employees’ social profiles, professional and personal, feature your company’s website in the “Occupation” section. Not only will this increase the social exposure of your brand across each social network, but this doubles as an SEO technique to increase the overall ranking of your website. Promote your company on as many social profiles as possible.

Run social promotions for your employees. Offer an incentive for your employees to like or follow your company’s social media profiles. Hold contests where a prize goes to the employee who gets the most likes, shares, or retweets from their network of a company page or press release. Ask your employees to comment on posts in order to ratify them. This is a grassroots way to increase your brand’s social media presence.

Have your employees create short viral marketing videos and share them privately on social media. The best or most popular videos could receive a bonus or a reward and be released to the public.

Advertise job listings through your employees’ social media networks. You can attract talented individuals who already maintain good personal relationships with employees that you know and trust.  Additionally, your brand and pages get extra, valuable social media exposure.

Social media is the 21st century equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising, traditionally the most cost-effective form of marketing. Having a base of employees who love talking about your brand is the best way to get their friends (and friends of friends) enthusiastic about your brand. But the key is featuring content that generates enthusiasm. Entrusting this job to one person’s voice or failing to execute on the above steps and others is a decidedly anti-social form of social media marketing, and can stop you from realizing the real social revenue potential for your brand.

Eric Schiffer is a world-leading expert in digital marketing as CEO of Digitalmarketing.com, providing his keen insights to Fortune 500 CEOs, foreign leaders, Forbes 400 billionaires and celebrities. He is the chairman of ReputationManagementConsultants.com.