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Social Media, The 500 lb Gorilla In The Room

Social Media is the 500 lb gorilla in the room that nobody knows what to do with. Ignore it,  feed it, befriend it,  fear it, or understand it. Ultimately they will embrace it and accept it, and not worry about the ROI. Business is about connecting with people and people drive business and referrals. – Web Success Team

Source: Inc. 500

Inc. 500 CEOs Use Social Media for Business

By Tamara Schweitzer

A new study shows that the use of social media is particularly prevalent among Inc. 500 companies and provides new insight on the role social media plays in running a business.

For the third consecutive year, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has conducted a study on social media usage among Inc. 500 companies. The 2009 results confirm the upward trend of social media adoption rates among some of the fastest growing private companies, and provide a useful comparison of social media trends from 2007 on.

This year’s study, which was conducted by researchers Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson, included 148 of the 2009 Inc. 500 companies. As with the past two years, respondents were asked about their usage and familiarity with six types of social media tools, including blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards, and wikis. In the past year, social media usage by the Inc. 500 has grown, with 91 percent of companies reporting that they use at least one social media tool, compared to 77 percent in the 2008 survey. And, of the six social media categories, the one that continues to be the most familiar to Inc. 500 companies is social networking, with 75 percent saying that they are “very familiar with it.” Read more

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Filed under: Business Networking, Drive Traffic, Online Advertising and Marketing, Online Business, Social Marketing, Social Media, Social Profiling, Web Success, , , , , ,

Adweek Article: Who’s in Charge of Social Media?

There is confusion between traditional advertising agency and PR models as to who should handle social media (the new medias). They both bring different skill sets to the table. This should not deter clients or agencies from the bigger picture: social media can compliment your existing ad campaign.

The problem is that we are allowing all this new technology to complicate matters even when it is really quite simple in my opinion.

Branding and advertising will always be necessary whether you use either a Facebook fan page, a blog or simply rely on traditional medias to enhance your brand.

An advertising agency should have no problem embracing new medias as another tool or an enhancement to what is already in existence.

Aren’t marketing and advertising all about reach and frequency anyway? So the answer to the question “Who is in charge of social media?” is… whoever can use it more effectively. – Janette Speyer –WST. Read more

Who’s in Charge of Social Media?

Marketing’s latest ‘must-have’ mixes up traditional matches between shops and clients

That’s led some agencies to reorient the type of accounts they pursue. Deep Focus, a digital shop, was primarily an online promotions agency that worked heavily in the entertainment industry. Its social media chops is leading it in a different direction, according to Schafer, as about eight clients are using it as an “engagement agency.” It recently was put on Microsoft’s roster, for instance, to serve as social media agency for Bing.

“Clients are waking up to the fact that either their lead traditional agency doesn’t get social media or gets [it] enough to be dangerous, but not enough to be effective,” said Schafer. “They know it’s important, but that’s not where they’ll make their money.”

That’s led Deep Focus into competition with upstart social media consulting firms. “There’s a hodgepodge of firms who can deliver elements, but … most are really new, young and underdeveloped,” he said.

EVB finds its competitive set shifting as it uses social media to provide the “pixie dust” that gets people talking about a brand. What often happens, said CEO Daniel Stein, is clients know they want to do something in social media, but aren’t sure what. That puts the shop in a different position in pitches like the one for VSP. “The client doesn’t even know who to call with some of this stuff,” he said. “You used to know what the [competition] would bring in. Now you have no idea.”

Source: ADWEEK

Filed under: Online Advertising and Marketing, Online Branding, Online Business, Online Marketing, SEO, SEM, Keywords, Direct Response W, Social Marketing, Social Media, Social Profiling, , , , , , ,

PPC vs Article Marketing

PPC vs Article Marketing. Web Success Team usually recommends the latter to our clients. We feel that Articles have staying power and help with search engine organic rankings. However I would not underestimate the power of PPC. A well crafted PPC campaign can compliment your blog and your website promotion. A good combination of both is optimum. The attached article explains the pros and the cons of PPC vs Article Marketing. Please read more. – WST

The Last Word in PPC vs. Article Marketing

SiteProNews

There is always a big discussion when it comes to comparing two of the best ways to advertise online: PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising and article marketing, otherwise known as “organic” or “natural” search engine optimization. There is no denying that both methods can be effective. However, which method is better? Which gives you a bigger bang for your buck?

You may get varying statistics on this issue, depending on which website you visit for information. Oh yes, this matters, because you have to consider the source of the statistics and who is sponsoring the article. For example, two sources of information (respectively, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and ComScore) recently produced studies indicating that PPC advertising was more cost-effective on average. However, did the fact that Yahoo/Overture and Google were sponsoring this major study play any role in determining the final outcome? Of course it did – those are the two biggest PPC companies on the net!

In figuring out which of the two is better, you have to consider cost-effectiveness as well as click-through-rates and direct conversion from visiting user to paying customer. We are going to review some statistics a little bit later on. For now, let’s consider some logical points that illustrate how PPC and article marketing differ. Read more

Filed under: Direct Response Marketing, Online Advertising and Marketing, Online Business, Online Marketing, SEO, SEM, Keywords, Direct Response W, Organic Search Results, Search Engine Optimization, Web Design, , , , ,

Differentiation and Relevance

Nice thought provoking article about being different and “Relevant.” Again, this all ties into branding, marketing and selling. We all strive to be different and unique and in many ways we are. WebSuccessTeam

The Key to Differentiation Is Relevance

Posted by Bart Cleveland for Adage

Differentiation is something that every agency preaches to its clients. Yet most ad agencies are a commodity. Very few have a distinct personality. I have no greater fear than my agency being without a mantra — having no reason for being other than a paycheck. I realize it is a business that must make a profit, but if my agency has no personality, it is average. And to me, whether you’re flipping hamburgers or making ads, being average is worse than not being at all. Being average in our industry means your agency is a commodity that fights for clients in a price war. Sound familiar?

My partners and I continually discuss what makes us different. This is a good thing. We understand the importance of agreeing on our reason for being. But there is a more critical thing we’ve learned from these discussions. Before we can answer how our agency is different, we must know what truly constitutes being different. Read more.

Source: Adage

Filed under: Online Advertising and Marketing, Online Business, Web Success, , , , , , ,

Marketing Tips to Help Legal Professionals Build Their Brands

All too often we get comfortable in our jobs or companies doing what we do best. But periodically these good habits need to be re-examined. In recessionary times you need to constantly reinvent yourself and try new avenues to increase your market share or profitability.

Times are a-changing. The Internet is a dynamic environment and you need to become more active in social media, online networking groups, and good old fashion hand pressing. It’s also a good idea to reassess your website by freshening it up with new content, promotions and calls to action.

Another excellent way to reach out is to actively maintain a blog and blog at least once a week on topical issues of interest for your potential customers. – Bob Speyer, Web Success Team.

Strategic Branding Firm Provides Advice on Effective Legal Marketing Tactics

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ — Following a trying period with little-to-no-growth and industry layoffs and pay cuts, legal professionals are turning to proven business development efforts to freshen their brands and generate business.

Working with law firms to help them dig out of this smoking crater, Moire Marketing Partners, a strategic branding and communications agency specializing in professional services firms, is offering some tips on how firms can position themselves for growth in the post-recession economy:

  1. Incorporate social media into your business development efforts. Your clients, prospects and their suppliers are using it; you should strategically use it too. Leverage tools including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to connect with prospective clients and other professionals to build your network and demonstrate your expertise.
  2. Be a brand ambassador. Remember, you are the face of your company’s brand. Use your interactions to communicate your firm’s brand promise and support that continuously in your efforts.
  3. Network. Relationships matter. Social media is a great way to start a conversation with a client or prospect – but don’t let it stop there. Offer to meet new and old colleagues at an upcoming industry or bar association meeting, civic event, non-profit activity or social mixer – or host your own hospitality function at your firm.
  4. Seize the podium. Apply to be a speaker at upcoming events. If you aren’t accepted, attend anyway to get a better handle on what topics are creating buzz.
  5. Learn from other professionals. Invest in consultants to sharpen your brand. An outside perspective can help you assess the effectiveness of your business development efforts and offer insight into what strategies would work best for your personality type.
  6. Be active in your home and business communities. Dust off those memberships in the local chamber of commerce and non-profit organization. Get involved in industry related activities and slowly increase your profile. Read more

Source: PR NewsWire

Filed under: Business Networking, Facebook, Online Advertising and Marketing, Online Branding, Online Business, Online Marketing, SEO, SEM, Keywords, Direct Response W, Social Marketing, Social Media, Social Profiling, , , , , , , , ,

Lessons from Scarlett: The Original Female Entrepreneur

The keys to success are always within reach. However, we need to remember that time and effort plays a big role in the equation. A successful person is one who is not afraid of failure despite the circumstances. Scarlett O’Hara is no different. Like a small business, O’Hara uses what’s available to her in order to achieve success. She does not give up, is resourceful and cut throat. A successful business online can relate specifically to the following examples. – WST

By: Alicia Forest

I think if you’ve been a survivor of any sort, you can relate to Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind. Sure, she used her womanly wiles to get what she wanted, but hey… who hasn’t? (And men, you’ve got ‘wiles’ of your own, so don’t think you’re off the hook.)

When Scarlett tore down her mother’s green velvet drapes to make the dress that ultimately saved Tara from the tax collectors, it was ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ in action. It’s sheer ingenuity to look at those curtains, one of the only things left by the Yankees, and see a fancy dress that could be the solution to her problem.

Scarlett was smart, savvy and had the spitfire spirit of her successful entreprenuerial-minded immigrant father. Over and over, Scarlett relies on her wits to maneuver her way out of predicament after predicament. And maybe some of her actions weren’t those of a lady playing nice (like marrying her sister’s beau) – but to her, the end result always justified her behavior. She took care of herself and her ‘folk’ with no apologies – and she made riches from it.

So, how does Scarlett’s smart and savvy personality relate to your business?

Your biggest client decides to quit working with you, for no apparent reason, leaving you with a huge income hole to fill. Your shopping cart bills your customers three times for a single purchase. Your virtual assistant decides to fly off for a spur-of-the-moment week away, leaving you with hours of admin nightmare to deal with.

There isn’t a businessowner around who hasn’t been surprised by these or similar challenges once they’ve been in business for awhile.

Yes, it would be nice to be prepared for all of our worst-case-scenarios with back-up procedures and the like, but please… especially if you’re the creative/idea type – who’s going to deal with all that detail for the ‘just in cases’? Not me…

When Scarlett turned that green velvet from drapery to dress, my heroine didn’t know she was carrying out a perfect example of exactly how to zig-zag your way very quickly from problem to solution:

Here’s how:

1. She stayed focused

Scarlett didn’t let herself get all spun up about only having one dirty dress to wear, picking cotton herself, or having no food to eat during the war that was going on around her. What she did was stay focused on the task at hand: saving Tara.

All the decisions she made and actions she took came from focusing on that single goal.

2. She quickly shifted priorities when necessary

Scarlett’s mantra of “I can’t think about that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow” kept her focused and on task, and allowed her to shift her priorities when necessary.

3. She was willing to fail quickly

Scarlett made a decision and took action. If things didn’t work out the way she wanted them to, she took stock, made another decision quickly, and took action again. By being willing to fail quickly, instead of trying to figure out and manage all the potential pitfalls beforehand, she was able to rebuild her life on her terms much more quickly.

The Original Female Entrepreneur Continued
The Web Success TeanSPECIAL: Solopreneur Package – Jump Start Your Business
The Web Success Team’s Solopreneur Package includes a 5-page custom direct response website fully branded and optimized for Search Engines with 6-months of online marketing, social networking, blogging, article marketing and much more. Lock in your special pricing now before the rate goes up! Contact the Web Success Team at 818-222-5643 or email bob@websuccessteam.com. To your web success!

Filed under: Online Business, , , , , , , , ,

Reducing the Risks of User-Generated Content

Understanding user-generated content and how it can both help and hurt you is a great asset to your business. Social media is a method of connecting with people, meaning providing your own user-generated content to communicate interest, link content and even share business ideas. This article explains the types of risks involved as well as how to protect yourself against negative content. This is important for every successful business online. – WST

By: Jeremy Gislason

User-generated content (or “Participatory Media” as some call it) can be a great way to boost the value of your website, and the traffic that’s driven to it. Many website owners have already found that developing online communities greatly increases their financial bottom lines. Sometimes, as has been the case with YouTube, user-generated content can even be a great business model in itself.

But user-generated content can also be a great source of risk and exposure. Again, there’s probably no better example of this than YouTube. YouTube was sued by the Viacom studio in 2007 for $1 billion in damages, for allegedly distributing Viacom’s copyrighted materials without permission.

If you understand the risks associated with user-generated content, you can take steps to reduce your exposure and protect your online assets, while at the same time increasing the value of your website.

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content is a broad term that includes any material that a website user posts on the website for others to see. This can include not only blog comments, but also pictures, videos, articles, or anything else that a user might post in a forum or bulletin board section of your website, or as part of their own personal profile on the website.

What are the Risks with User-Generated Content, and How Can I Address Them?

There are a number of legal issues that you will need to become familiar with if you permit or promote user-generated content on your website.

a. Intellectual property infringement. There are two primary types of intellectual property infringement issues that you should be aware of. The first is copyright infringement. Key elements of liability include knowledge of the infringing activity, inducing or contributing the improper conduct, and attaining a direct financial benefit in the infringing activity when you have the ability to supervise the direct infringer.

Copyright holders generally try to enforce their rights by means of “takedown notices” that are sent in accordance with the requirements a particular Federal law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). You’ll have to decide what position to take once you receive takedown notices. Do you evaluate each and respond notice as you feel appropriate? Or do you simply honor all takedown notices immediately? It’s a balance between avoiding legal risk of a lawsuit by those who claim to hold a copyright to the material that someone else posted, versus possibly alienating your users if you aren’t giving any consideration to their “fair use” rights in that content.

Trademark law prevents the use of trademarks of others in a manner that creates a likelihood of confusion about the source of goods or services or in a manner that dilutes the value of the trademark. User-generated content sometimes falls afoul of trademark law.

b. Defamation. You should also be aware that there is potential liability for allowing users to post defamatory statements about others on your website. There is a Federal law (The Communications Decency Act) which can provide some protection against defamation claims based on what your users do on your website, but the scope of the protection is still somewhat uncertain, so you should not ignore the possibility of claims against you based on user generated content.

c. Obscenity and Child Pornography. The Federal laws that provide protections to website owners generally exclude protections for obscene materials that appear on such websites, even if the materials are posted by users themselves.

How Can I Reduce My Risks?

One common technique for a website operator to reduce their risks of legal liability for user generated content is to not actively monitor the user activities on the website. While this may seem counter-intuitive, the relevant Federal laws provide a greater degree of protection (through a so-called “safe harbor”) for passive web services that do not actively manage or supervise user content.

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The Web Success TeanSPECIAL: Solopreneur Package – Jump Start Your Business
The Web Success Team’s Solopreneur Package includes a 5-page custom direct response website fully branded and optimized for Search Engines with 6-months of online marketing, social networking, blogging, article marketing and much more. Lock in your special pricing now before the rate goes up! Contact the Web Success Team at 818-222-5643 or email bob@websuccessteam.com. To your web success!

Filed under: Business Networking, Online Business, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web Content, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Branding for Social Change

It’s a great day when your brand name is strong enough to effect social change. This article explains Levi Jeans use of their brand name to promote HIV testing in South Africa. Levi’s effect on social change not only increased sales for the company, but also increased testing. The lesson here is to broaden the use of your brand. Be innovative! – WST

By: The Times (South Africa)

Companies are using their financial muscle to bring about change, writes Claire Keeton

LEVI’S uses the sex appeal of its products to sell safe sex and SABMiller SA uses taverns to teach men about responsible drinking in philanthropic programmes that benefit South Africans.

The irony of this is not lost on the leaders of corporate social responsibility programmes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Online Branding, Online Business, , , , , , , , , , ,

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Online Reputation Management

For many long-term business owners, tackling the web can be an intimidating and difficult task.  It is important not to be discouraged by negative reviews by disgruntled customers, but rather to rise above and move forward in your marketing efforts.  There are a few basic things to keep in mind when taking the step into the modern business world.  Here are a few good tips that will keep your head on straight and your business making money. –  WST

By: Jeremy Martin

The day you open your business you become vulnerable to the good and bad publicity you can get from either satisfied or dissatisfied customers. That is the price you pay to run a business. It happens to everyone regardless of what you do. Hopefully you are doing your best to please your customers and following through with the expectations you have given them. But when the unthinkable happens and you find a negative remark, blog post or complaint online there are steps you want to take.

Here are some of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of Managing Your Business’ Reputation Online.

Lets start with the Don’ts:

  • Don’t Panic. I know that is easier said that done but the last thing you want to do is lose your cool and try to retaliate. There is no reason for that. It often causes more damage than good.
  • Don’t immediately focus all your attention to the negative information you have found. It is important for you to have a plan or strategy. If you focus all of your time, money and effort on clearing your name then the rest of your business will go down the tube.
  • Don’t admit anywhere that you are wrong. Admitting any wrongdoing is not going to get your complaint removed from search results, blogs or forums. It can also cause further trust issues with existing or potential customers.
  • Don’t take your first negative publicity as a sign that your business is a failure. People that feel that have been wronged in any way are more likely to post the negative information about your company but chances are you have got 100 happy and satisfied customers for every one unhappy customer. Remember, you can’t always please everyone.

Now the Do’s:

  • Create a plan of action. If you notice a couple of negative reports or complaints listed on the first page of search results you have got to find a way to push them off the first page and get them as far down the results as you can. A few really great ways you can do this are by submitting a Press Release to various PR distribution sites such as PRWeb.comm, PR.com and PRnewswir.com.. You can start a new blog that is about your company’s products or services. Make sure you share the good information about your business such as favorable stats or testimonials. Join forums related to your niche and contribute useful, relevant information.
  • Use social networking as a way to build a bigger and better network. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, StumbleUpon and Digg are great because they such a deep user base. If you can get some buzz going about your business it will go a long way. People love to refer sites that are useful to them so make sure you have information that appeals to your target audience.
  • Do your best to resolve the issue with the dissatisfied customer. Sometimes it can be tough if they make the comments anonymously but do your best to find out who they are so you can take care of their concerns. If you try to reach out to them and resolve the issue publicly it shows that you are persistent and take your customer’s satisfaction seriously.
  • If your business is in the position to get certified through agencies like the BBB it can be beneficial to your credibility to potential customers.

Read More
The Web Success TeanSPECIAL: Solopreneur Package – Jump Start Your Business
The Web Success Team’s Solopreneur Package includes a 5-page custom direct response website fully branded and optimized for Search Engines with 6-months of online marketing, social networking, blogging, article marketing and much more. Lock in your special pricing now before the rate goes up! Contact the Web Success Team at 818-222-5643 or email bob@websuccessteam.com. To your web success!

Filed under: Business Networking, Online Advertising and Marketing, Online Business, Web Success, , , , , , , , , ,

New York Times Article: 10 Things to Be Clear About Before You Start a Company

In tough economic times and unemployment at a record high, people are taking the initiative and creating their own jobs or companies. The question is, are you prepared to become an entrepreneur? This is the million dollar question. Here is an excellent article from the NY Times, “10 Things to Be Clear About Before you Start a Company,” that should make anyone stop and think before starting their own business.

Owning your own business is not for the fainthearted. It can be done with a well engineered business plan. As a successful entrepreneur, I would add a final point to this list: “Is your business idea simple and easy to achieve? It is always better to start a business with a single concept and a great deal of perseverance.

”Here is an excerpt of the article:

1. Is this your first venture?
2. Are you really an entrepreneur?
3. Does your venture involve something you understand really well?
4. Can your mother understand the value proposition?
5. Can you see the right wave?
6. What does your startup want to be when it grows up?
7. Starting a company is hard and uncertain.
8. Get a partner or fly solo?
9. Would you refuse a well-paying job to do this?
10. Can you raise appropriate financing?”

To read more: New York Times Copyright 2009 ReadWriteWeb. All Rights Reserved.

For further can’t miss marketing thoughts, download the Web Success Team’s latest Ten Steps to Web Success. And for a complete direct response marketing solution, discover our Solopreneur Marketing Package. It’s available for a limited time and for a select few. If you read this paragraph, I did my direct response job. Don’t forget to click the links!

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Filed under: Business Networking, Online Business, Online Marketing, SEO, SEM, Keywords, Direct Response W, , , ,

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