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Great article on how to utilize social blogging sites like Twitter and Facebook to help grow your small business.

Amplify’d from www.inc.com

8 Tips for Using Social Blogging to Grow Your Business

Use continuous updates and punchy messages to heighten interest and keep your customers informed about products or services which in turn can boost sales.

Social networking.
The big corporations have bought into it. Smaller companies, too. Even independent consultants use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to do business. It is a great way to get the word out about your product or service. It boosts brand awareness, it builds loyalty, and it attracts and retains customers.

But more companies are exploring ways to get a bigger pay off with social media. The next frontier of social networking and weblogging is social blogging. This ever-changing construct represents a way of communicating for people who like to inform each other about their daily activities and share common points of interest, according to Wikipedia authors Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, and Susan F. Henssonow. This is usually done through continual updates that often include text, pictures, audio, or video.

In general, you want to use social media to increase your visibility, improve your search engine results, and drive more traffic to your company’s website, which stands a good chance of increasing sales and growing the business. Social blogging is simply another tool to add to your overall social media strategic toolkit.

Business owners whose companies are at all levels of growth, from promising start-ups to established and mature firms, are looking for effective promotional tools that are also cost-effective, says Gail Z. Martin, author of 30 Days To Social Media Success. “Though social media is one of the most exciting new communications tools to emerge in the last twenty years and can provide cost effective marketing, it’s one of the most misunderstood mediums,” says Martin.

Read more at www.inc.com

 

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Here’s a great link to 5 restaurants that “get it” — “it” meaning social media and how to use it to generate buzz, new business, and a loyal following. More often than not, though, I find myself in restaurants all over town (in this case – Los Angeles) that really don’t get social media at all. Most seem to have failed miserably at capturing the attention of their communities and continue to look the other way when is comes to truly harnessing the power of social media. Sure, anyone can create a Twitter account or Facebook Fan Page, but that’s not the point here. Merely owning a social media account name is like buying a piece of land in downtown and never building on it. Worse than that are the restaurants that create a new social media account, manage it for a week or two, and then let it sit. Think about it… what’s the bigger eye-sore? An empty lot or a half built shack sitting on that empty lot? Remember that you don’t have to go at it alone, either. There are dozens of capable social media agencies that can help you get started AND take you to the next level. Whatever you do, once you start, don’t ever stop building the biggest and best social media community for your patrons.

In my opinion, Ford has set the standard for social media over the past few years, growing their social media presence at a rapid pace while engaging with consumers at an extremely high level. I love Mashable’s review of the top accounts and how they show the follower counts for the top social media sites. Other industry giants should take note, as the auto industry has done an incredible job of utilizing social media.

It’s an interesting question: When should I start utilizing emerging social media networks? The answer for the average brand/company is probably “later,” but for those companies who are really looking to take their social media strategies to the next level, it’s important to get in early and stay there for the duration. Sure, you can’t exactly be a major part of every possible up-and-comer in the social networking world, but you should at least be focused on the ones that make the most sense for your business. In the restaurant and retail world, this means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Foursquare. Let’s think about Twitter for a second. If HP was the first to utilize Twitter, Dell wouldn’t be the big dog of personal computer sales in the Twitterverse. If Kroger, SuperValu or Costco had dove into Twitter headfirst, Whole Foods wouldn’t be kicking everyone’s butt in the Twittersphere. If you’re heady enough to get in before anything goes mainstream, you typically have a huge edge/advantage over your competition. It’s no different with Foursquare. Get in early or play catch-up with your competitors who were first to embrace location-based services!

Amplify’d from mashable.com
The Time for Foursquare Marketing Is… Later?

While it’s always a good idea to look forward and broaden your marketing mix when it comes to technology, a new study shows that expecting a huge, at-scale ROI from such cutting-edge location-based services as Foursquare might be a bit premature.

Research given to us today by marketing and tech firm Forrester shows that only a tiny stratum of the population is consistently using Foursquare (Foursquare). Only 4% of the adult, Internet (Internet)-using population has used any kind of location-based service, and just 1% of all adults check into a location at least once a week.

By contrast, more than 11% of online adults have used Twitter, and an estimated 28% of all Internet users have signed up for Facebook (Facebook).

But if you keep in mind that Foursquare isn’t yet a mass medium, you can plan to target your marketing efforts much better and still see the benefits of using this service and others like it as an advertising and marketing channel. And you’ll get the added benefit of being an experienced location-based marketing pro when services like this take off for the general population.

For example, the Forrester report noted, Starbucks saw some great things with its Foursquare program: “Starbucks, by connecting its existing loyalty program to a startup LBSN, got not only great press initially but also the opportunity to test an emerging technology. Adventurous marketers like Starbucks see a consumer market of early adopters that will hopefully grow into a new and active audience.”

Forrester also found that location-based service (LBS) users are likely to be 19- to 35-year-old, college-educated males who are influential among their friends and family. These users generally do a lot of mobile-based web research when considering making a purchase, from a refrigerator or a car to a movie ticket or dinner at a restaurant. Their average household income is right around the six-figure mark — around $20,000 higher than consumers who don’t use an LBS.

Because of the place-based nature of LBSs, people who use them are extremely connected to the web and Internet and social applications via their mobile devices. Forrester’s research shows these users are also big on using their mobile devices to find directions, look up information about local businesses and read or submit local business reviews on sites such as Yelp (Yelp).

Getting intelligence on these kinds of consumers and testing multiple small-scale LBS campaigns is the best way to prepare for successful location-based marketing efforts in the future — like, perhaps, when Facebook launches its location service in the near future and this geeks-only paradigm is suddenly brought to an international scale.

Read more at mashable.com

 

What would you do to win your next big social media gig?

Game on! Twitter is about to bring it. Lookout Facebook… Twitter is about to make a little tweak to its tweets that could solidify it’s spot as the number two social network! Videos and photos coming soon to your Twitter feed! What does it mean? Well, first of all, it makes Twitter a much more media-rich platform. Sure you can shoot out a URL that links you to videos/photos, but imagine your Twitterverse with tweets that are that much more engaging, interactive, and robust. It takes the 140 character tweet to the next level. Curious to see how this plays out over the coming months but look for some big changes in the way we play, interact, and how brands create conversation with their tweets. At Fifty & Five (www.fiftyandfive.com) we’ll start integrating these new features immediately with clients such as Hugo’s Restaurant (www.twitter.com/hugosrestaurant), Fireman’s Brew (www.twitter.com/firemansbrew), and Club Sportiva (www.twitter.com/clubsportiva). The possibilities are truly endless. We’re excited for the new features to roll out!

Amplify’d from mashable.com

Twitter to Show Photos and Videos in the Stream

A new Twitter setting called “Tweet Media” has rolled out to Twitter’s users, strongly suggesting that the company will soon embed videos and photos into the stream.

Tweet Media, which the Mashable team and others have been able to access under Twitter’s account settings, asks you whether or not you want to show photos and videos from everyone. It also comes with the following description of the setting:

“By default, you’ll only see images and videos shared by people you’re following, and reveal those by people you’re not. Check this box to see media from everyone on Twitter.”

It seems clear now that Twitter is about to add multimedia in the Twitter.com stream, which could radically change the entire Twitter experience. It doesn’t seem like the feature is active currently though, even if you activate Tweet Media in your settings.

Read more at mashable.com

 

Walking down the street I bump into you and immediately recognize your face. We’ve met somewhere before. Maybe you were one of the guys in our golf foursome last month. Maybe you’re the guy that serves me my Starbucks grande drip. Damn. I can’t place you. Wait… one more second. Ok. There’s your name. My digital computer contact lenses just relayed an image of your face to to my phone, which scoured Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to find your mug. Bingo, my bluetooth headset just told me your name, reminded me that we went to USC together, and most likely took the same Communication marketing class. Wow. And you’re married with two kids. Looks like we’ll be automatically checked into the Vons grocery store we’re both walking into. The future is near.

Amplify’d from www.marketingvox.com

When Facial Recognition Meets Check In




Click to enlarge

The news that Apple was collecting location-based service data was not met with pleasure by some in Congress, hence the tech company’s summons to Washington to explain. Last week it gave a detailed response [pdf] to questions posed by Representative Joe Barton (D, Texas) and Edward Markey (D, Mass), which was subsequently released.

In short, Apple is not tracking individuals with the data. “When a customer’s device sends Wi-Fi, cell tower, GPS, or diagnostic location information to Apple, it does not include any information identifying the particular device or user,” Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell said. Information that is collected is maintained for six months. Location-based data that is passed on to partners is converted into zip codes (via Mac Observer).

Apple also confirmed users can opt out of sharing location-based information by not agreeing to the policy changes – which is an unlikely option for many as it means they won’t be able to create an iTunes Store account. But users can disable location-based services on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad by going to Settings > General > Location Services, and turning the feature off on a per-app basis or system-wide, Mac Observer says.

In the Year 2054

Such precautions may well be viewed as downright quaint over the next few decades if futuristic visions described by Mark Cuban in his Maverick blog comes to pass.  Cuban tells of a company that takes video of an area and is able to determine exactly how many people are in the area at any given time. The next logical extension would be to install it in places where it is possible to add facial recognition software, he said – making it an ideal app for companies that are using check ins for their marketing and customer outreach.

“So rather than someone checking in to a specific application, we would already know you are there.” ‘Opt out’ mechanisms would be necessary, he acknowledged, and there would probably be a battle “over whether or not a store or venue should be ‘opt in’ vs automated recognition, but that’s not a software issue.”

The reality is this is the answer to the “the path of least resistance” issue with check-ins for location-based software, he continued. “Individuals never do any of the work. The store/host recognizes you are there and rewards you for allowing your identity and information to be captured and linked.”

If this sounds a little too much like Minority Report, the Tom Cruise movie set in 2054 that is because there are some distinct similarities, says TechCrunch, which estimates it could take as long as ten years for such an application to come to market.  Briefly, in the Steven Spielberg movie Minority Report, the main character John Anderton is walking through a public mall and a retina scanner picks up his eye signature and offers him advertisements customized to his tastes and previous purchases . Interestingly, Spielberg hired a team of futurists to come up with technology that is likely to be in place all those years from now, TechCrunch says. Even when the technology arrives, TechCrunch speculates, society will have to be eased into accepting it, perhaps with some interim applications.

Friending By Facial Recognition

The use of facial recognition is starting to creep in to social media use, however, suggesting that some people, at least, are comfortable with its use in such venues. Comverse released an app in which it married social marketing with facial recognition software to create what it said was the first ever socially augmented reality tool. Unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the beginning of the year, the app uses facial recognition algorithms and a database of images to link a particular face with an appropriate profile, writes Intomobile.  Comverse also billed the application as a tool to be used for dealing with acquaintances, “practically connecting people before they even know each other’s names. If you bump into someone who you met before and he or she looks familiar but you can’t remember why, the app will locate that person’s online profile to put a name to the face.”

Read more at www.marketingvox.com