Email blast introducing the new Nexalin Technology online experience. Visit nexalintechnology.com.

Business opportunities brochure.

Web development and buildout.

I totally agree. Thanks Sean.

The Social Media Revolution is Over. Now what?

By Sean Duffy, Talent Zoo, 02.22.12

The first volley was fired with the launch of SixDegrees.com in 1997. But it would be another decade before online networking would take on the mantle of a true revolution. Around 2007, it became clear that sites like Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter were entering the mainstream. This caused widespread skirmishing over the significance of these sites, particularly in the marketing industry. The old guard fought valiantly to maintain their media landscape and convince us that social networking was just a teen fad with no place in serious business. But the digital onslaught was relentless. I think the deciding volley was fired in 2011, when the population of Facebook topped the populations of the U.S. and EU combined with over 845 million active users.

For all purposes, it would seem the social media revolution is over…and social media won. Now what?

Will those who blogged so courageously in defense of social media now be able to use global interconnectivity to create a new media landscape we all can live with? Will they be able to prove the existence of social media’s fabled ROI, or will it remain as elusive as phantom WMDs? And when will the advancement of education, commerce, and society displace diversion as the primary use of the Internet — or at least gain equal footing with it?

It’s up to us marketers to embrace the new normal in a healthy and productive manner. In that spirit, here are three things we could all start doing today to promote a lasting peace:

1. Stop the esoterica
I often fault brand consultants with overcomplicating things. But your run-of-the-mill social media guru isn’t much better. To hear them go on about “the conversation,” you would think Twitter invented social interaction between humans in 2006.

The more exotic and complicated we make online networking, the less we’ll be able to work with it. That’s why it can help to create your own working definition. Here’s how I dumbed down the Internet revolution so my team and I could get on with things:

“I believe we are in the midst of a paradigm shift that has been catalyzed by popular web sites. But the shift wasn’t triggered by Facebook, YouTube or Twitter per say. What we are witnessing is a mass change in human behavior triggered by sudden, 24/7, global interconnectivity. Put another way: Connect everyone on the planet and the rules of the game change.”

Look at it that way and you might find it easier to make sense of it all and be quicker to discover all the nifty ways it can benefit your brand.

One major implication for marketers it that interconnectivity has restored the balance of power between buyer and seller, just like it has been in small towns for eons. This balance is characterized by honesty (lies tend to get called out in a small town), accountability (you can’t be anonymous in a small town), transparency (you can’t have secrets in a small town), and word-of-mouth (in a small town the grapevine dictates reputations and decides fates). See? The brave new world isn’t so new after all; it’s more like “back to the future.”

2. Ban the word “social media” from your vocabulary.
“Social media” had some meaning at the start of the revolution. Back then, only a handful of sites allowed for any meaningful interactivity. The rest of the sites were like online brochures. Those days are long over. Sure, there are plenty of Web 1.0 sites around. But the means to socialize any website are well within everyone’s grasp today. There is no longer a social part of the web that is different from the rest of the web. “Social media” is simply “the Internet.” Need proof? Take any article on the subject, replace “social media” with “Internet,” and it will still read the same.

The problem with using catch-all phrases like “social media” is that it impedes our ability to formulate objectives and talk about the web with any degree of precision. That’s why statements like “We need to do more social media” are fairly meaningless and ripe for misinterpretation. Marketers who use “social media” the noun to describe marketing activities would be better served to speak in terms of the specific goals they hope to achieve online, like “We need to do more online networking or KOL outreach.” Networking is one of the things you can do on a social Internet along with many other specific goal-oriented activities, like online awareness building, offering clarification, or data capturing.

I urge you to remove “social media” from your vocabulary completely. Introduce the idea at your next meeting. It will be difficult at first, but it will soon force you to articulate what you really mean when you are talking about the Internet, and that will lead to more focused online strategies and tactics for your brand and clearer communication with colleagues.

3. Forget the platforms and focus on the people.
During the revolution a preoccupation with tactics and technology displaced the bigger issues of branding and strategy for many marketers. Brands no longer need a social media guru to set up their Facebook fan page (any 12-year-old can do that). To win the peace, today’s brands need sharp strategists to help them use that Facebook page to leverage consumer insights, compete, and grow brand equity.

Although I am still asked “Is social media right for our brand?” I find this an absurd question. First, because it tells me that the marketer asking doesn’t have their eye on the ball — the consumer. Second, because it reveals a belief that the Internet has changed but everything else is pretty much the same. It’s not the changes on the Internet that should captivate us marketers so much as how those developments have changed the people we sell to. Look closely and you’ll see that it’s not just their media consumption habits that have changed.

Over the past five years, people around the world have changed in ways that directly impact your businesses. That includes their purchase processes, decision-making routines, value equations, and customer service tolerances, to say nothing about their attitudes towards marketing, corporate responsibility, sustainability, privacy, and trust. These are fundamental changes in consumer behavior and the way business is conducted, also known as “the economy.” Which is a much bigger issue than whether you should be on Facebook or not.

So as the smoke clears and you and your colleagues rise from the trenches, look around with fresh eyes and ponder the ways that we can help our brands and our clients adapt to this new media landscape. And if you succeed in that, please share.

Understanding the Value of a Facebook Fan

By Mikal E. Belicove, entrpreneur.com, 11.30.11

If you’re like most of the marketers or business owners I talk with these days, you’re wondering what exactly are the benefits of Facebook fans (i.e., “Likes”) to your brand. Also, how much more likely are they to do business with you than those who don’t “like” you on Facebook?

Those who profess to be fans are much more likely to participate in “desirable actions” using Facebook, such as making a purchase, installing an app, entering a sweepstakes or voting online in a contest. That’s according to SocialCode, a full-service social agency owned by the Washington Post Company, which looked at 50 brands and more than 5 million Facebook ads over a five-month period earlier this year.

Of course, it should come as little surprise that fans are more likely to perform desirable acts than nonfans. But the knowledge that they do so at a situational rate of up to 547 percent higher than nonfans is eye opening.

Specifically, the survey shows that Facebook fans are 291 percent more likely to engage with brands than nonfans. For example, the fan conversion rate to install an app is 38 percent compared with 12 percent for nonfans. That’s a 239 percent difference, or, in other words, fans are three times more likely to convert than nonfans. The conversion rate for existing or new fans to enter a brand’s contest was found to be 6 percent as opposed to 1 percent for nonfans — a 545 percent differential.

When it comes to making an actual purchase, the SocialCode survey shows that fans do so at a 7 percent rate, while nonfans buy at a rate of just 2 percent.

Among the seven actions a user might perform on a fan page, SocialCode found that the difference in cost per acquisition, or CPA, between fans and nonfans is $9.56. That number is calculated by dividing the total cost of clicks by the total number of actions. For fans who install an app, for instance, the cost per acquisition is $2.61 compared to $8.49 for nonfans. Similarly, for fans making a purchase, the fan CPA is $14.88 compared to a nonfan CPA of $43.86.

Others costs include: contest submissions ($17.21 for fans, $76.25 for nonfans); contest voting ($3.26 for fans, $21.09 for nonfans); fan acquisition ($3.39 for fans, $5.17 for nonfans); program signup ($41.25 for fans, $75.90 for nonfans); and sweepstakes entry ($2.57 for fans, $5.81 for nonfans.)

In Facebook fan studies from last year, the value of a fan ranged from $3.60 in a Vitrue survey to $136.38 in a Syncapse assessment. Problems I see with the SocialCode survey is the assumption that all of these fans engage in actions to the same degree and that these desired actions can be weighed the same. I would think, for instance, that a purchase “action” would trump a contest vote every time. Similarly, the value of a fan should be measured by how much money he or she is bringing to the table in the form of purchases made, with the cost per action subtracted from that figure. The bottom line: How much more did we sell to the folks who signed on as our fans?

Worth reading. Thanks Starr!

How to Build a Fan-Worthy Facebook Page

by Starr Hall, Entrepreneur, 02.06.12

As Facebook continues to enhance its fan page options, businesses are not only struggling to keep up with the changes, but they also are still trying to figure out how to brand and market their pages. Because of some of the changes, strategies you used just last month to increase your “likes” and interactions with fans may not be as effective.

Here are a few quick branding fixes that will make it easier for prospects to find you, as well as some tips on getting more fans–or what I prefer to call interested prospects.

No.1 – Brand the URL. If your fan page URL is still set with a bunch of numbers, you are making it harder for prospects to find you and missing out on a branding opportunity. Facebook recently lifted the requirement that you get 25 “likes” before you can name your fan page URL. Now, all you need to do is go to www.facebook.com/username and set your name in the URL, which is great for branding purposes and easy link referrals. For example, instead of www.facebook.com/1283743hreu818, my link is now www.Facebook.com/StarrHalldotcom.

No.2 – Name your page appropriately. Once you reach 100 friends, you cannot change the title of your page, so make sure you choose wisely from the start. Your brand name is the ideal title to make it easy for people to find your page when they search. You still can change the title if you have less than 100 likes by going to edit page, selecting Basic Information from the menu at left, changing the text in the Name field, and saving your edits.

No. 3 – Take prospects to a welcome tab, not your wall. When you send people to your fan page and have them land on your Wall, your posts probably won’t be enough to entice them to “like” you. Posts are just you talking. Even if you’re giving valuable information, prospects need a reason to be your fan. Instead of having them land on your Wall, set up a welcome tab. A welcome tab can include a greeting and an enticement, such as an e-book or video series, to encourage visitors to become fans. Such sites as woobox.com offer free trials and step-by-step tutorials to help you customize your page, including tabs.

No. 4 – Engage potential fans. You need to offer something that will engage people. For instance, you can use Facebook applications to create a poll or launch a game. These can be located on your welcome tab. Wildfireapp.com, for instance, provides a free trial so you can navigate its engagement applications. If you decide to use its programs, services start at $5 and go up from there, depending on which tools you use. SocialUps, a company that specializes in creating games for fan pages, starts at $300. One of SocialUps’ most recent game apps was launched at www.facebook.com/vitalyte, a fan page for Vitalyte Nutrition Products that was started three months ago and now has nearly 100,000 followers. The downside of some gaming applications is that they can gain access to your page and randomly post messages.

No. 5 – Check market insights. Is Facebook Advertising for You? Recent enhancements to fan page analytics make it easier to know your prospects, including their sex, age and where they live. Also, you can see which posts they like best and follow a viral report showing if they did something on your page that their friends could see. Such viral activity extends your reach to friends of friends. However, this option only allows you to see that your fans are talking about you to other people; it doesn’t share information about whom they’re sharing with.

Facebook fan pages are quickly turning into Facebook websites and interactive business tools. With access to millions of prospects, it’s important to brand your page well, make it easy to find and keep the content up-to-date and engaging.

An excellent article by Jason Falls on entrpreneur.com. Thanks Jason for sharing…

How Pinterest Is Becoming the Next Big Thing in Social Media for Business

BY JASON FALLS, Entrepeneur, February 7, 2012

Move over Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Anothersocial media site is stepping up as a valuable marketing tool for businesses.

Pinterest, an online bulletin board for your favorite images, launched in 2010 and is already experiencing wild growth. The site registered more than 7 million unique visitors in December, up from 1.6 million in September. And it’s driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent reportfrom Cambridge, Mass.-based content-sharing site Shareaholic.

Why should small businesses care? To answer that, you first have to understand how consumers are using the site. Pinterest allows you to organize images — maybe pretty sunrises or wines you’ve tasted — into boards for specific categories. When you “pin” something new, your followers will see it. They can like, comment or re-pin it to their boards. Like Facebook content, your Pinterest pins can go viral.

Brides-to-be can pin pictures of different wedding dresses to review, and people shopping for a new car can pin images of their options. When I joined Pinterest I started a board to show the Major League Baseball stadiums I’ve visited. The possibilities are unlimited.

Here’s a look at why some business owners — particularly retailers — might want to seriously consider starting a business profile on Pinterest now.

How It’s Being Used
Perhaps the most powerful business application is the ability to post images of your company’s products on your Pinterest board and link them back to your website. It works as a sort of virtual store catalog.

But remember that this is social media. If you simply display images of your products without contributing other content or sharing other users’ pins, you’ll likely find that people don’t pay much attention. After all, no one likes a self-absorbed blowhard.

But savvy social media users know not to get too promotional. For example, Whole Foods Marketpins pictures of delicious-looking food, food art and images of recycled or reused products to inspire customers to be environmentally responsible. Daniel Gordon, who runs Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City, pins pictures of his rings and watches, but he also has a board for images that make him laugh and other types of products he loves.

Driving Sales
Pinterest already is driving buyers to some websites. In the last six months, the retail deal siteideeli.com has seen a 446 percent increase in web traffic from Pinterest and sales resulting from those visits have increased five-fold.

“We continue the Pinterest conversation with [the] members by following their pins, and we love to give feedback outside of the shopping category — whether that means commenting on a great recipe or [giving] a heart next to our favorite pet pics,” says ideeli.com social media manager Sarah Conley. “We also see Pinterest as a growing resource to better understand our members and the larger retail landscape.”

Is Pinterest Right for Your Business?
The site does have some drawbacks for businesses. If your product or service isn’t particularly visual, your images may not tie directly back to your brand. Pinterest also doesn’t offer business-oriented features, and its search function prioritizes pin and board subjects ahead of “people,” the category that brands would fall into.

The best way to determine if Pinterest could attract buyers is simply to give it a shot. Set up an account and start pinning things that are relevant to your business but not too promotional.

If you run a lawn-care center, for instance, pin pictures of landscaping you find online or snap in your community. If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, pin shots of the interesting sites and people around your neighborhood and photos you take at community events. You also can search through Pinterest’s categories and add some inspirational, funny or beautiful images you find.

Then, follow interesting boards and individuals who post images that inspire you. Once you’ve done some pinning of other people’s content for a week or so and attracted a few followers, create a new board of your products. Add descriptions and perhaps the price to the images. Make sure they link back to your website and start tracking pinterest.com as a referral source in your website analytics.

Next, try creating an image of a special deal or coupon just for your Pinterest followers. Upload it to a new board for Deals. Perhaps offer a prize to the person who gets the most likes or comments on a re-pin of the coupon, and then see who shares it the most. Don’t fret about creating multiple boards. People who follow you will see them all.

In a month or two, see if you’re getting referral traffic or sales. Depending on the results, you may need to tweak your boards with new images and words.

One thing is clear whether you’re on Pinterest for personal or business reasons: the best images — be they funny, beautiful or thought provoking — attract the most attention and followers.

An excellent recent post on ‘everythingpr”.

I liked it so much I wanted to share.

Thanks epr!

A press release is the quickest and easiest way to gain more exposure, increase traffic to your website and let your clients know what’s happening.  But, it can often be difficult to keep coming up with exciting and fresh ideas on a regular basis. But there at 12 simple subjects you can come back to time and time again:

1) New Member of Staff

The easiest idea for a press release is to talk about a new member of staff, or a promotion. This shows that your company is growing and expanding. This is something which will instil trust in your business in the current economic climate.

2) New Website

Whether it is a full website redesign, or just a few small changes, publicising your new website is a great idea for a press release.  This shows your company is growing and changing. You can also talk about any social networking websites you may have joined.

3) New Contract/Client

This is a great way to publicise both you and your client. Discuss the benefits of your new relationship and detail what the collaboration will mean for both parties. A press release on new clients is also a good way to showcase what services your business has to offer.

4) Receiving an Award

If you have been awarded ‘Best Workplace’ or ‘Company of the Year’, let your clients know. Awards build your credibility and recognition amongst your clients and peers. This is also a great way to show that you’re a trustworthy company to deal with.

5) Launch of a New Product

This is possibly the most obvious press release idea. Detail the benefits of your new product, and use statistics and survey results to back up why your product is beneficial for its intended market. You can also use this template to inform clients of new services you’re offering.

6) Contrarian View

Offering a contradictory view on a current event or market trend is a great way to get your name out there – if you do it right. No matter how controversial, make sure you can support your arguments with quotes and facts. For example, write a press release saying that social media is bad for business. Just make sure you back any claims up with quotes.

7) Expert/Authority View

If you or someone in your business is an industry expert, use their knowledge to give advice or views. You instantly gain trust with your clients if you can display that you are an authority on a particular subject.

8) The Piggyback

‘Piggybacking’ on current events is a really easy press release idea. Talk about a current event and how your business or products have a solution for this. Current event keywords are also a great way to ensure web users find your press release

9) Survey Results

Publishing the results of a survey or quiz is another simple but effective press release. You already have your supporting facts to any points you make. This can also be incorporated with a contrarian view depending on results.

10) Training Event or Exhibition

Tell your clients about any events you’re holding, or an exhibition you’re attending. Let them know where to find you and what to expect from you exhibition stands. If you’re holding an event, give details of where to find it and what clients can expect.

11) Seasonal Promotions

One off or limited-time-only promotions are another simple press release idea. As with your product launch releases, list the benefits and what exactly is on offer to your clients. This is also a great way to encourage customers to buy with you for the first time.

12) Make a Prediction

Publish a press release with your predictions for the following quarter or year. As long as you can support these with facts and quotes they are likely to be read and republished. Again, you can offer a contrarian prediction to make your releases stand out.

Article contributed by Bird and Co Creative, a successful online marketing and SEO company with a wealth of experience. Contact them today to see how an online presence and marketing strategy can transform your business.

A great post on Marketing Profs by Brian Goffman of Optify. Thanks for sharing Brian.

In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype; Facebook’s and Twitter’s advertising platforms gained momentum; Google joined the social networking party with Google+; social became a mainstream component within search-engine results pages (SERPs); and Congress called for increased disclosure by companies providing location-based services.

As 2012 follows on the heels of such events, what digital changes and trends should forward-thinking marketers anticipate? Here are Optify’s Top 12 predictions for the year ahead.

1. Marketing automation 2.0 will arrive, ushering in mature software and increasing enterprise adoption. Historically, marketing automation has consisted primarily of email and email nurturing. In 2011, however, we witnessed the expansion of social customer relationship management (CRM). Marketing automation is now one of the fastest growing segments of the CRM industry. In 2012, it will evolve from being an early-adopter tool into a mainstream solution for organizations that want to connect marketing operations, from the very top of the funnel, to online search, and down through sales and customer management. Industry players like Aprimo, Eloqua, Marketo, and Optify (our company) will continue to shape the marketing automation 2.0 revolution.

2. Customers and employees will become an extended part of companies’ marketing teams. As social networks are used ever-more frequently for aggregating and sharing interests, expect opinions, positive or negative, about products and services to spread with lightening speed. As a result, businesses’ customer relationships will become increasingly focused on creating and managing perceptions. In 2010, companies began listening to customers’ wants and needs via social buzz. In 2011, they focused on responding to digital customer commentary. In 2012, companies will need to move the needle forward, scaling marketing efforts by creating and sharing information with employees and influential customer evangelists to help define their brands, products, and services from the ground up. Salesforce.com’s recent extension of its chatter feature, which allows businesses to share information and files with their customers via a hosted network, is early evidence of this trend.

3. SoPo (social personalization) will be on the rise. “Keeping up with the Joneses” has never been so transparent. The power of referrals and recommendations will be fine-tuned and harnessed to encourage and persuade others to follow their friends’ leads. With an ever-increasing social network footprint, and the explosion of data fueling it, expect networked recommendations to become more ubiquitous (e.g., your friend’s friend likes this product). Content recommendations on Facebook stores and participating e-commerce sites will be increasingly powered and filtered by friends’ preferences (see “Likes” and “Social TV” below). Social sign-on, group sharing, and universal wish lists will even make personalization on smaller sites possible, and collaborative filtering will create connections between people in unanticipated and creative ways.

4. “Likes” will intersect with multimedia. “Likes” will begin to influence more than just online text content. Digital video content providers will assume friends share “Like” preferences for video content. In turn, they will tailor and filter programming to you based on the “Likes” you and your friends provide. By anticipating what you’ll be most inclined to watch, digital providers will help you cut through the growing expanse of online multimedia content. It’s highly probable that Facebook, either via acquisition or via a partnership with companies like BuddyTV or Hulu, will explore or invest in “Social TV.”

5. Location-based marketing will grow, and certain customer use cases will shift predominantly to mobile. In specific markets, such as travel, shopping, and dining, customer engagement and purchases will happen more frequently via mobile device. A recent study found that one-third of all American adults use smartphones, and that percentage will continue to rise. Travel-related click-through-rates are already higher on mobile devices than on PCs, and location-based marketing—fueled by the likes of Foursquare—will continue to soar. This holiday season, we’ll see the majority of last-minute gift and store searches happen via mobile device. And with 50% of last-minute shopping projected to be done via mobile device in 2015, marketers in 2012 will have to consider mobile in their usage mix as adoption of the mobile smart device becomes increasingly universal.

6. The discount economy will grow even larger. Considering the flagging economy and consumers’ income woes, offers from companies such as Groupon, Living Social, and niche players like One Kings Lane and Zulily, will have an even greater uptick in 2012. Those companies will grow more than many have previously forecast. Even Amazon.com has gotten into the local deals mix, recognizing the value of even deeper discounts for customers. At the same time, daily-deal offerings will become increasingly hyper-local. Players intelligent about using the mobile market and geo-based offers will be category winners.

7. Social media ads will become a significant part of the advertising mix. At the end of 2010, Twitter had 150 customers using its paid advertising program. In Q2 of 2011, it had increased its advertising customer base to 600, with an 80% rate of renewal. Moreover, in 2011, Facebook’s brand advertising revenue rose 104% from Q1 to Q2. But even in light of those tremendous gains, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks have only begun to scratch the surface of potential advertising revenue streams. In 2012, marketers across the board, from big and small companies, will include social networks as a line item in their online paid advertising budgets because those networks will make access to their hundreds of millions of users more accessible.

8. Social networks will become a more significant source of organic search traffic and a greater influencer of SERPs. As social networks become an increased source of paid traffic, they will also become an increased referral source of organic search traffic. In 2011, small and medium businesses, typically technology followers, began using social media more frequently, perceiving it to be an effective marketing medium. In 2012, we can expect that trend to rise, especially as social media buzz becomes a mainstream component of SERPs. For companies that wish to preserve or improve their rankings, social marketing activities will no longer be optional; in 2012, they will be a necessary element of traffic-driving success.

9. Google antitrust will continue to be a thorny issue. Heading into 2012, Google is being investigated globally as an antitrust offender. Google’s overwhelming market dominance puts it squarely under the worldwide legal microscope for any anticompetitive actions. With 80% of Yelp traffic, for example, derived from Google, and 30% of Google searches resulting in traffic to the largest e-commerce sites on the Internet, Google’s power is indisputable. As a result, Google’s business practices will continue to endure intense scrutiny and encounter legal challenges.

10. Focus on social media ROI will be top of mind. As businesses move from initial adoption of social media marketing toward the next stage of reflection and refinement, they’ll be seeking data that clearly indicates the cost-effectiveness of social media campaigns. With another year of experimentation and trial under their belt, marketers will be more sophisticated and adept at navigating the social media channel. In turn, they will be more demanding of tools that effectively enable tracking, measuring, and improving ROI.

11. Virtual teams will become more common. The globalization of the workforce will continue to mushroom with low-cost access services becoming more prevalent. As more effective video-conference, document-share, shared schedules, and various other online project-management and workflow technologies are introduced to the market, the ability to communicate and work with virtual teams will become ever-more efficient. We’ve witnessed a growing trend of employees working in distant states, countries, or continents who are considered integral parts of core business operations. Remote employees are being woven into the fabric of our companies, working virtually side-by-side with locally based employees to create and deliver winning products.

12. Facebook will advance social commerce and give Amazon a run for its money. It’s undeniable that Amazon and Facebook are the market dominators of their markets: online shopping and social networking, respectively. But to date, those two markets have experienced very little crossover. That’s odd, considering the tremendous opportunity to marry those markets. After all, isn’t it an enjoyable pastime for friends to shop together? Facebook will make it easier for friends to do just that by providing an environment and online-shopping experience that are entirely different from the way we shop on Amazon. It is only a matter of time before shoppers trade in a trip to the mall in exchange for an online buying spree with virtual friends via shared screens, video chats, and group-buying discounts.

Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/6359/12-marketing-predictions-for-2012#ixzz1dzElxngq

Here’s an event recap YouTube video we produced to get out to Jack’s fans. Pics and footage were shot while we were enjoying the party in the Woodlands.