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Marketing Voices: 5 Reasons Small Businesses Should Budget for Social Media Marketing

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5 Reasons Small Businesses Should Budget for Social Media Marketing

In our new Marketing Voices series, we invite exciting digital marketing professionals to join the conversation. This month’s guest post is by Nick Rojas, an experienced business consultant and writer living in Los Angeles and Chicago. Nick has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years and has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch.

It’s no secret that startups, small businesses, and even one-man entrepreneurial operations all share a need to invest in digital marketing. While search engine optimization and excellent content go a long way towards creating growth, social media cannot be ignored if you want to jumpstart your business’s future and start connecting with your audience in an effective way. More

Creating Community Online and IRL

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Creating Community

It was 2005 when I signed up for Facebook and explored this world of pictures from last night after they’d been uploaded from an actual camera, and statuses that changed more frequently than AIM away messages. I adapted to this new way of communicating and interacting, a way that at the time seemed to focus more on what happened when we got together, and less about the online world we were creating. More

Social Media Planning Tool for CMOs

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Here’s a great infographic by Adobe that shows the value each social media platform could provide when it comes to traffic generation, SEO, customer communication and brand awareness. When it comes to B2B, LinkedIn is way more important, but still there’s a lot of valuable information here.

Enjoy!

 

The CMO

by johnmnelson.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Coffee Break: Superbowl commercials, Israeli start-ups, Facebook's Clay Feet and Google's (Potential) Greek Tragedy…

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We’ve been reading some great stuff at Pravda Media Group that you might enjoy as well.  So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, and get your read on — you’ll feel more productive than if you’re just trawling Twitter.  Unless you’re Robert Scoble.


Super Bowl 2012: 10 of the best commercials from this year’s Big Game

What was favorite commercial the Superball?  We’re (still) loving the Seinfeld Acura ad.

10 Israeli Startups With Huge Potential

We love startups, especially when they are lean, responsive and building something useful we love. Ben Lang wrote a great post @ Epic Launch featuring top 10 Israeli startups with huge potential. We agree with his assessment.

Facebook: Here Are the 35 Things That Could Kill Our Company

Now that Facebook has gone public, it has had to disclose the top 35 things that could destroy the company.

It’s Not Whether Google’s Threatened. It’s Asking Ourselves: What Commons Do We Wish For?

John Battelle makes an interesting case for the future of the web, and claims that the web as we know it is under severe, long-term attack by forces of our own creation.  Think Greek Tragedy.  Only Postmodern.

The Half-Life: How Social Media Changes the New Immigrant Experience

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I’ve heard the stories at least a hundred times: My Great Grandma Tsiryl dry-heaving over the side of a steamer ship as they rolled up into Baltimore Harbor in 1904. A pregnant Great Grandma Esther stoically clutching the belly that held the baby that would one day be my grandfather while ocean waves battered the hull of the last ship out of Europe before World War I.

Two different women from two different places, and yet they shared such a similar experience with each other and with the thousands upon thousands of other Jewish immigrants who left Eastern Europe for American shores. They crammed their lives into small suitcases – sometimes with incredible forethought, other times in great haste, they kissed their families goodbye, and on trains or buggies or by foot they traveled over hostile terrain toward distant harbors, and ultimately onto ships that would take them excruciatingly slowly, slowly, slowly away from the achingly familiar.

And like so many others who left the cities and shtetls of Eastern Europe during those fragile years at the turn of the 20th century, my Great Grandmothers made it work.  They gave birth to American babies. They raised their children in broken English. They played Mah Jong and drank coffee with other landsman in cramped apartments in big cities far away from their childhood friends. They waited for letters from their families. They dreaded the inevitable telegram. They celebrated mitzvahs and simchas at the synagogue. They sat shiva. They buried their own on foreign soil.

You have to be an optimist to pack up and move for a life unknown like that and survive.

And not only did they survive, they thrived as they grew roots in a new world.

For me, it’s different. I wasn’t escaping pogroms and persecution.  I took a freaking stretch limo to the airport because I have delusions of grandeur.

My worldly goods amounted to three suitcases, two carry-ons, one purse, a laptop player with a battery life of 12 ½ hours and a Smartphone.

My voyage was 14 hours, not 14 days, and I spent most of it spent Tweeting from the airplane like a rockstar.

Can't a girl get some #peanuts around here?

Unlike my Great Grandmothers who started from scratch, with Facebook and Twitter I am connected 24/7 to my life back home – clinging to moments and milestones in real time, ten time zones away.  In some ways, it’s a good thing:  When Krystal posts “10 centimeters, people! It’s show time!” I know her baby is about to be born (and by inference, that she got that epidural she swore she would never in a million years get, because seriously, no woman in hard labor without an epidural can post on Facebook, believe you me). When Aaron’s grunge band plays their first gig, I get to see pictures of the show right away thanks to Instagram. I even know what Michelle had for lunch.  (Girl sure loves her #Sushi!)

In a culture of openness and (over)sharing, Facebook is a great way to keep the intimacy going even when you live on the other side of the world.  And yet, it’s really a false intimacy, because friendships are really built on a series of moments large and small cobbled together in shared  real space and not online.

Who needs a cafe when you can hang out with your homies on Facebook?

So I guess this begs the question:  How does Social Media change the New Immigrant Experience?

Unlike my Great Grandmothers who tumbled headfirst into their new lives and were forced to learn a new language and make new friends, With my Android phone and my iPad (I carry both because Heaven Forfend one should run out of battery or stop working or fall in the toilet and I should be disconnected from Facebook and Twitter) I carry my old life with me  like two virtual security blankets.   When I ride the train, I update my Facebook status, and send tweets instead of interacting with the passengers around me.  Headphones complete my self-imposed isolation while I listen to (English) music and watch (American) videos on Youtube.

Hey, who needs to integrate, when I can be in two places at once?

But over the last year, I’ve learned  you can’t really be in two places at once, and as much as I try to keep up with my friends in the virtual world, they’re moving on.

And so am I.

Fortunately, there are ways that Social Media can actually make it easier for the New Immigrant to integrate.   Meetup groups either on Facebook or through other online channels like Meetup.com or Yahoo Groups are a great way to connect with people going through similar struggles.   And since the goal of these communities is to get you to meet in person, joining these groups is a baby step towards getting off the freaking laptop and into the cafe (or bar!) in the real world.

I’ve also found that when sharing your own struggles online in a public way, others going through similar things can find you. (And so can internet stalkers, for that matter, but that’s another post for another time.) But seriously, over the last year,  I’ve made several “IRL”  friends here in Israel through Facebook, Twitter and other online arenas, and I am grateful to these Social Media channels for helping me get off the internet already and start living in real life.

A Facebook Friendship IRL.

 

 

 

 

You've got to Learn to Listen: Three Ways To Increase Marketing Effectiveness

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Let’s face it. We love to hear the sound of our own voices.

When I was single, one of the best pieces of dating advice I ever got was to let the other person speak through the whole date because she will adore you by the end of it. The reason is simple: It is much easier to talk than to listen to others.

But the reality that just like in any relationship, one must listen to the other side in order to better understand them. Brands are facing the same situation on a daily basis. The holy grail of modern marketing is creating and cultivating relationships between brands and their target audience.  Therefore, listening is a key to reaching this goal

Thankfully, several companies are offering listening and monitoring platforms that makes this task easy. We’ve chosen Tra.cx due to their great team, technology, and customer service.

Conversation Distribution by Platforms via Tra.cx

But technology is not enough. It is all about what you do with it. So, with no further ado, here are some of the key ways to use listening as a strategic tool in your digital marketing toolbox:

Tweak your product and pitch – by listening to target audience conversations, we have been able to gain insight about general topics of interest. For example, when listening to online discussions of IT managers, we were able to ascertain their key concerns and challenges. This provided  valuable input to our client, as they could fine-tune their pitch and online presence.

Evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing – one of our clients invested a lot of money in extending the warranty of their products. They saw it as a key way to differentiate themselves from their competition. A month after they launched their program we analyzed online discussions of potential buyers of their equipment, and saw that warranty was not mentioned as a key decision factor. Not only that, but we also saw that the amount of online conversations about their offering didn’t change at all after launching their extended warranty.. These findings helped our client reach a decision regarding the efficacy and value of their new marketing program.

Prioritize your marketing efforts – the digital landscape is becoming more and more fragmented. Multiple social networks, the need to combine inbound and outbound marketing methods, the ever growing pressure to reach results, and the shrinking marketing budgets pose a challenge to every decision maker. The value of Inbound marketing increases based on corporate investment. This investment grows based on the amount of platforms and campaigns a company is managing at any given time. Therefore, prioritizing and choosing which platform to focus on is extremely important. By effectively  listening to online conversations  about your market, you can easily identify the hotspots that require attention. For some, LinkedIn is the key to success. Others  prefer Facebook, and others still – heaven forbid —continue to use good old fashioned forums to discuss their buying decisions. We are using a cool Tra.cx report to quickly plan and prioritize our marketing efforts, and make sure we are handling the most important platforms for our clients.

Listening in love — and in marketing — is a key to success. It is not a one time thing, but should be part of an  ongoing process interwoven in the world of digital marketing. We gave here only a couple of examples on how to use it strategically. Stay tuned for future posts with additional case studies. And in the meantime, we would love to hear your insights.

Before You 'Friend' Your Parents on Facebook, Make Sure They Understand These Six Rules

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Dear Parental Unit –

Uh, welcome to Facebook.  I guess.

I accepted your Facebook friend request on good faith but we’ve reached a point where I think we need to lay out a few ground rules because I am seriously thisclose to defriending you.

Ready?

  1. First of all, the poking has got to stopSeriously.  It’s just weird.   Please don’t make me explain why.  (Not since we talked about where babies come from have I been this uncomfortable.)
  2. Why are you commenting on every status update? And do you even know what LMFAO means?
  3. Please take down any and all family pictures where I am wearing headgear, have a mullet, and/or am in the buff. If you ever want me to get married and give you grandchildren, you will comply with this request immediately.
  4. And on that note, please stop playing matchmaker. Just because it says “doctor” or “lawyer” in someone’s profile does not mean you need to send me a friend suggestion.  It’s especially weird when you don’t even know the person you’re suggesting I friend in the first place.
  5. Um, hey guys? Everyone can read what you write on my wall.  Everyone. So please stop publicly reminding me to “get that rash checked.”  Again, if you ever want me to get married and give you grandchildren, you will stop doing this right now.
  6. And finally, if I delete a wall post (see above) do not repost it just in case I didn’t see it. Believe me:  I saw it.

Look.  I think it’s great that you’ve gotten all cyber-savvy and whatnot.  No, really, I do.  Especially the online banking thing – Please keep those cash infusions coming twice a month.

That way, I can beat you in Mafia Wars and Farmville.

Love,

Me.

The Links We Love

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Happy Monday, Everyone!

We hope you had a peaceful, relaxing, and enjoyable weekend.

Now, go get your coffee on,  and check out these links.  We hope you find them as interesting as we did!

First of all, our client, Babylon.com, just started a new series on their blog called “My Life in Translation”

“How many of us have found ourselves visiting or even living in a country where we can barely speak the language?  Sure, while It’s an adventure to navigate new cultural terrain without being able to communicate the way you would ordinarily in your homeland, it is certainly not without its challenges.”

Every few days, Babylon will post a new sotry.  The first two posts are dynamic and engaging, and we hope you’ll check them out:
Babylon is also celebrating International Children’s Day (November 20th!) with a cool infographic featuring fascinating facts about children from around the globe.  For instance, did you know the earliest written version of the Cinderella story comes from China in 860 CE?  And here we thought we could blame shoe fetishes on Disney or the Brothers Grimm!
We also found some interesting videos that highlight creativity that we think are worth sharing:
And, we found some terrific articles about Social Media that we found interesting and relevant:
Finally, there were two clever videos about Facebook that made us laugh out loud.  Literally.  And hopefully you’ll like them, too:
Hopefully you’ve got your caffeine buzz on by now, and are enjoying your Monday!

I

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Imagine if Facebook existed in the 1950’s:

This Anne Taintor-esque video got me thinking about  how our romantic relationships have evolved in the digital age.

Allow me to break it down:

A typical love story circa 1991

Boy meets Girl.  Boy asks for Girl’s phone number.  Boy calls Girl.  Boy leaves message.  Girl calls Boy (after waiting a day just to make him sweat.)  Boy asks Girl out.  Girl says yes.  Boy meets Girl at the movies.  Or the mall.  Or the arcade.  Boy and Girl hold hands.  Boy kisses Girl.  Girl goes home to write in her diary and draw pink hearts next to Boy’s name.  Girl stares at the phone willing it to ring… (Boy is probably doing the same.)

This is how it was back in my day.

No Instant Messages.  No text messages.  We had conversations voice-to-voice, and  in person.  You know, when we weren’t gazing romantically at each other (and by gazing romantically at each other, I really mean making out.)

Romance blossomed over the phone – tone, inflection, nuance were carried through live wire.  The phone made it easy to feel connected and stay connected.  And ultimately, to disconnect: All my breakups were done over the phone.  Sure, while face-to-face is the “mature” way to go, when feelings are fragile, the phone made it less messy.

(And hey, more intimate than a post-it note.)

Falsh-forward twenty years.

A typical love story circa 2011

Boy Facebook-stalks Girl. (Or Girl Facebook-stalks Boy) Boy pokes Girl. (Or Girl pokes Boy.)  Boy pokes Girl.  Girl pokes Boy. Etc… ad nauseum.  (And all of this without a steak dinner!) Boy and Girl finally get around to friending eachother.  (And it’s about time! I mean, after all, they’ve been poking for a while now.)  Boy and Girl chat on Facebook into the wee hours of the morning for several nights. (They share a lot of LOL’s.) Boy and Girl exchange phone numbers.  Boy texts Girl.  (Or Girl texts Boy.) Boy texts Girl.  Girl texts Boy.  Boy pocket-dials Girl.  Boy texts Girl: “w2ho” Girl knows this is text-speak for “Want to hang out?” and she replies “wen” (because typing that extra letter and the question mark take waaay too much effort and/or make it look like she’s trying too hard.)  Boy and Girl go on a date.  Boy and Girl check in on FourSquare.  Boy and Girl change respective Facebook relationship statuses.  And the chats and the messages and the pokes fly over cyberspace.

“XOXO” and “I <3 U” fill the spaces on the screen.

Until they don’t.

Breaking up is hard to do.  But on Facebook, with a click and a drag, it becomes very easy.  Remember when Matt Damon blew off Minnie Driver on Oprah?  Well, it can happen to anyone – on a smaller scale, but still.  When a relationship ends, 1123 of  your closest friends will know about it.  But the good news is that hottie from your econ class who is lurking your page knows it, too.

Memories in a Digital World

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Four months ago I went through a life changing experience: My first daughter was born, and I fell immediately in-love with the little adorable baby that became an important part of our (now mostly sleepless) life.

From the moment she was born, my wife and I photograph and videotape her, using our iPhones, and our DSLR camera.

At the same time my parents aren’t getting younger. My father turned 72 this year, and my mother 66. On his 70th birthday, I made a short film about him, as an excuse to both hear and document the story of his life. We went through old photographs that were lying in our living room drawers, and with each picture came a story, about love, war, family, and friendship. Most of these pictures were older than me –from the 50s and 60s — telling the story of his life as an immigrant, young tank commander, husband, and young father.

Not surprisingly, I love gadgets, applications, and great sites. That’s why I upload my daughter’s pictures to Flickr and Facebook, and save all of them in our centralized media hub, and I also back it up using Dropbox. I use Twitter, Foursquare and serendip.me to tell the story of my life – places I’ve been at, songs I’ve heard, thoughts I’ve had at a specific point in time.

Up until now, I was certain this is enough. We have all those cameras with their amazing images, those fancy video cameras, these smartphones that are actually point and shot cameras that can also call people. But something is missing:
When you look at it from an historical perspective, all these sites and gadgets lose their sex appeal. The reason is simple – in 40 years perspective, suddenly Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, hard disks and iPhones seem like not the best way to store memories.

I don’t know what will happen with Apple, Yahoo!, Twitter and Facebook 40 years from now.
I don’t know if the images I am taking now will be compatible with the technology 20 years from now.
I don’t know if my media center’s hard disk will survive the next 5 years.
And maybe, just maybe, Dropbox will go out of business.

There is a missing link in our digital age. There is a crucial element that is not guaranteed in our advanced technological environment. It is a simple thing: the physical element of our memories. The real life scrap book. The image, printed on a paper.

Yes, I know, these physical representation of our memories can be lost or destroyed. In fact, history teaches us that the physical element of our memories could be easily destroyed (such was the case of the Library of Alexandria).

However, if there is one thing that is for certain, it is that we will be able to see the pictures of our lives in the future. It is not a matter of file formats, web applications, and smartphones. Our eyes will still be able to see pictures. Our fingers will still be able to feel the aging paper they are printed on.

Think about it, next time you look at your hard disk full of those priceless images of your life.