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Comments Off on Circus PAWS is headed for Hollywood!

Circus PAWS is headed for Hollywood!

We’re extremely proud and excited about the show and so is our spokesman, Bob Barker!

Comments Off on A Grad Student’s View of Facebook’s Outlook

A Grad Student’s View of Facebook’s Outlook

We’re keenly interested in insights to the various social media platforms as marketing venues. We’ve often written about the upsides and down of them here. We were recently contacted by the creator of the graphic below which tells an enlightening story about the social media giant and her view on how that might play out over time.  The story this graphic tells also contains info about Google and other companies in the social media mix. We thought it was worth sharing with you.

-BG

Facebook: Programmed for Disaster
Created by: www.OnlineGraduatePrograms.com

Comments Off on Facebook estimates 8.7% of users are duplicate, miscategorized or spam accounts

Facebook estimates 8.7% of users are duplicate, miscategorized or spam accounts

Facebook says 8.7 percent of its monthly active user total might violate terms of service and be either duplicate, miscategorized or “undesirable” accounts meant for spamming, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In its quarterly report, Facebook provided updated numbers and new details about illegitimate accounts, which could represent about 83 million users. The company estimates 4.8 percent of its 955 million monthly active users are duplicate accounts. For instance, a user may use one account for connecting with work acquaintances and another for family and close friends.

Facebook says 2.4 percent of accounts are likely miscategorized accounts where users have created personal profiles for a business, organization or pet. These entities should be represented on Facebook with pages, not profiles, according to the social network’s terms of service.

Facebook also estimates that 1.5 percent of monthly active users are “undesirable accounts,” which are false accounts that are created for spamming or other purposes that violate terms. Earlier this week, a music startup claimed that 80 percent of clicks on its Facebook ad campaign came from bots. Facebook says it is investigating the claims.

Read more at Inside Facebook…

Comments Off on Improvements Make Linked-In a Better Experience

Improvements Make Linked-In a Better Experience

Users can now add comments and “likes” to articles on LinkedIn Today. And the new “Trending in Your Network” tab filters all of the professional news articles on LinkedIn Today and gives you the most popular ones in your professional network.

LinkedIn has also “started to roll out a simpler and easier way to navigate Homepage experience that offers quick access to the relevant information and updates that help you be great at your job.”

Commenting & Liking: Sometimes the commentary about a news article can be just as insightful as the article itself. To that end, articles on LinkedIn Today will now include social gestures which will enable our 161 million member professionals to engage and create a dialogue around the news headlines that matter most to them, as well as learn what is currently trending online. This means, members will be able to see a snapshot of what’s top of mind among their professional networks.

Trending in Your Network: LinkedIn Today was built on the premise of providing a relevant, customizable news experience based on key news and updates trending in your industry and the other industries you choose to follow.  Starting today, we will begin rolling a new tab called “Trending in Your Network.”  By simply clicking on this tab, members will have yet another filter to sort through all of the professional news articles and industry updates, based on those articles that are currently the most popular among members of their professional networks, regardless of their industry.

These two new features, together with the existing customizable news feed, allow members to not only narrow down the most timely and relevant information needed when needed, but to also gather valuable insights about other like-minded individuals within their professional networks and beyond.

Full details on the Linked-In Blog…

Comments Off on Washington State To Allow Voter Registration Through Facebook

Washington State To Allow Voter Registration Through Facebook

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Facebook users in Washington state will have something else to brag about to their online friends: that they registered to vote on Facebook.

The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it will have an application on its Facebook page that allows residents to register to vote and then “like” the application and recommend it to their friends. It’s expected to launch as early as next week.

“In this age of social media and more people going online for services, this is a natural way to introduce people to online registration and leverage the power of friends on Facebook to get more people registered,” said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections.

Washington state has had online registration since 2008, and since then, there have been 475,000 registrations or changes of address processed through the system. Washington is one of more than a dozen states that offer online registration.

Hamlin said Washington state is the first to offer voter registration via Facebook.

“We are excited that citizens in Washington state will be able to register to vote and review useful voting information on Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

The state, Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which developed the application, have been collaborating on the project since last fall, Hamlin said.

Once it’s live, Facebook users can click on the application within the secretary of state’s Facebook page. They’ll need to agree to let Facebook access their information, which will be used to prefill their name and date of birth in the voter registration form. Users will still need to provide a driver’s license or state ID card number to continue.

Hamlin said that Facebook doesn’t have access to the state’s database; its page just overlays the application. Voters will also be able to access the state’s “My Vote” site with specific information on candidates and ballot measures.

Read the full article on Huffington Post…

Comments Off on 5 Steps To Building A Search Persona

5 Steps To Building A Search Persona

It’s easy for online B2B marketers to become distracted by the search engines and forget the real reason they’re doing SEO in the first place: the customer. Customer demand is the driving force behind search and must be the foundation for your SEO strategy. Whether you’re an SEO newbie or already running a few SEO campaigns, it’s important to take a step back and determine what techniques really align with your customers’ needs.

An effective, simple concept every search marketer should leverage is the process of developing a search persona. Similar to a marketing persona, creating a search persona helps professional B2B marketers to accurately identify their target customer, to understand how users are actually searching for their business online and to ultimately, drive higher conversion. This is not a very time-consuming process, and will have a significant impact on your marketing efforts behind search and must be the foundation for your SEO strategy. Understanding the keywords your prospects use and the places they go to find information is the critical first step in implementing a successful inbound marketing strategy

1. Know Your Target Audience

Identify a target audience that is most likely to turn into customers. Ask yourself: Who’s my perfect buyer? For any businessperson (regardless of SEO), this is something you should be able to answer.

2. Understand Your Audience’s Pain Point(s) & Know How They Search to Solve Them

How would your target customer articulate their need for this in terms of keywords? How do they search? Determine the queries that are used by your target audience, are aligned with your business goals, and appear in significant enough volumes.

3. Provide Real Solutions

Create great content that’s well optimized for the search engines, but also meets the needs of your target customer and provides calls-to-action that encourage users to further explore and engage with your product or service.

4. Be Compelling

Offer a call to action that compels the searcher to dive deeper into your conversion funnel. For example,
this might be a discount code, or an online form. Basically, a feature that allows you to keep in contact with a user and offers them an incentive to stay engaged with your website and product or service.

5. Know Your Data

Make sure you’re regularly tracking performance metrics that help demonstrate the efficacy of these campaigns.

One of the most overlooked aspects of this process is to truly try to understand the target searcher’s agenda. Think of yourself as you search for something. All the pages you bounce off of, because they aren’t relevant, trustworthy, or are too complex for one reason or another. Search persona only works in context with business goals, and content that was designed for them. Doing only one thing out of the overall list above will not bring the desired results. Now that you’ve built your search persona, examine your website’s content and existing SEO campaigns and make any adjustments necessary to align with the criteria you’ve identified in this process. Understanding the keywords your prospects use and the places they go to find information is the critical first step in implementing a successful inbound marketing strategy.

This article is excerpted from a whitepaper by Optify Inbound Marketing Software. Learn more.

Comments Off on 5 Creative Ways Businesses Are Using Google+ Hangouts

5 Creative Ways Businesses Are Using Google+ Hangouts

by Tim Gray

Are you interested in adding a bit of splash to your social media marketing mix?

Google+ Hangouts has addressed this issue.

It might be the versatile platform you’ve been waiting for to help capture the attention of an even bigger slice of potential customers.

With Hangouts, you can:

  • Video chat instantly with up to nine people.
  • Share documents and other files with the group.
  • Watch a YouTube video together and chat alongside it.
  • Share your screen with others.
  • Record sessions for viewing later.
  • Broadcast the chat live to anyone

How to Get Started

Starting a Hangout is easy (and free!). Just create a Google+ account, and click the “Start a Hangout” button. The technical aspects of Google+ Hangouts are extremely basic and intuitive.

Starting a Hangout is simple. Click the green “Start a Hangout” button and decide who to invite.

Now you’re ready to get creative!

Check out these five creative ways businesses are utilizing Hangouts. Feel free to experiment with any combination of these ideas.

  1. Crowdsourcing

  2. The Question & Answer

  3. The Demonstration

  4. The Giveaway

  5. Pull Back the Curtain

Get the full details on implementing these five ideas and read the article on Social Media Examiner…

 

Comments Off on Video Content Strategy: What you need to know today

Video Content Strategy: What you need to know today

It’s 2012 and you have a web site, a Facebook page, you’re Tweeting, and sending SMS text messages to your customers.  Are you also using online video to close the sale?  You should be.  The costs of production have come down significantly and the use of Youtube makes it relatively easy for anyone on any budget to get going with video to help spread their message.

A warning though:  if you do use video, don’t just make commercials or people will treat them just like commercials. Give something of value from your area of expertise to your potential audience.  It’s the same advice I give for posting anything in social media.

Onlinevideo.net asked C.C. Chapman* for his take on the essentials of online video and he came back with these recommendations for improving any video content strategy:

1. Do Something Unexpected

Playing it safe gets boring, and your customers will stop clicking on your links if you give them the same content week after week. Freshen up your video strategy by going for the unexpected. Show viewers something they haven’t seen before. Think fun and unique, says Chapman. But remember, unexpected doesn’t mean inappropriate.

2. Plan it out Ahead of Time

People like to dive in and start making videos, says Chapman, often skipping the crucial planning stages. Begin by creating a video schedule for the next six months, brainstorming ideas and mapping out topics. Think ahead of time about what camera equipment and other resources you’ll need for each shoot. Having a plan means you’re more likely to follow through on video creation, and more likely to follow a set online posting schedule. That’s important if you want to attract regular viewers.

3. Talk Like a Human

Jargon is the bane of good communication. The purpose of your videos is to engage with your customers, so leave the acronyms and industry-specific buzzwords aside. “Nobody wants to watch that,” says Chapman. Instead, speak from the heart. If your on-air talent is reading from a teleprompter, make sure it doesn’t sound like he or she is reading from a teleprompter. There’s nothing worse than reading from a script and being boring.

4. Don’t Be a Slave to Length

Anyone making online videos has heard several times that shorter is better, that people will get anxious and click-off after two minutes, three tops. That’s true, notes Chapman, but don’t let it hold you hostage. There’s nothing wrong with going longer when the subject demands it. Keep your video as short as possible, but take the time you need to properly cover your topic. Don’t try to stuff your material into a length that’s too short. If you’re offering quality content, your viewers will watch it no matter the length.

5. Be Helpful

“Share or solve, don’t shill,” says Chapman, and that’s a good rule of thumb for any company making online videos. Chances are your sales team gets certain questions all the time. Online video is a great place to answer those questions. Your customers are more likely to share videos that they found helpful, so try to solve some problems. Whatever industry you’re in, create helpful tips for that industry. “If you can educate and entertain your viewers, you’ve done very, very well,” adds Chapman.

*C.C. Chapman is the author of Content Rules, a guide to content strategy. He’s also currently writing a book on people who made careers out of their passions. Video shot for that book is at Passion Hit TV, and the book should be on sale in the fall.

Comments Off on Tips to Manage Your Social Media Reputation

Tips to Manage Your Social Media Reputation

Are you managing your online reputation?

Reputation can affect purchase decisions and influence the growth or decline of a business.

Many businesses are using social media to develop online reputations, manage and respond during a crisis and monitor the conversation to prevent future crises.

In a concise article on Social Media Examiner, Sarah Lokitis offers three big tips that can help you deal with the challenge. She says…

Try searching your company and product names to make an assessment of your online reputation. What do you see in the top 10 search results?

What follows are three tips to help you manage your reputation with social media.

#1: Establish Your Online Reputation

When someone Googles your brand name, your business should be sitting right there on the first page waiting for the user. And yourbrandname.com shouldn’t be the only branded search result.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social brand pages should assist in owning the first search engine results page. Especially if you have a common name, owning your brand name search queries is important for users to find the right information.

Social media can help you create a stronger online presence, so old news doesn’t turn up at the top of search results. If you don’t control your brand, someone else may post inaccurate or derogatory information that could tarnish your reputation.

Take a look at the search results from Lululemon. The first result is for their website, but the next four listings are all social media channels that they own or have the ability to edit and monitor.

According to a click-through rate study published by Slingshot at the end of last year, the number-one ranking on Google gets about an 18% click-through rate and the number-two organic listing gets about 10%. Regardless of the actual percentage, the data proves that the first search engine results page is the most important for your brand’s reputation.

The reason you want to control several of your first page search results is if a crisis strikes and you have set up several social channels, your brand will have plenty of platforms ranking well to disseminate your message.

These branded channels help push down negative or competitor results that you don’t want representing your brand.

Creating social media profiles has given people the channels to voice their joys and complaints about your company. Owning your social media profiles can help you better control and manage the conversation, so you can respond in a timely manner.

If you aren’t marketing with social media, those conversations are going to happen on other channels that may prohibit you from getting involved in the conversation.

#2: Control Responses During a Crisis

A crisis for a company can range from unexpected website issues to a lawsuit. How a crisis is handled online makes a huge difference to the future ramifications. It’s important to monitor and respond to customers who write on your wall or send you messages to resolve any issues and let users know they’re heard.

Facebook was one of the channels Anthropologie used for announcing a huge online sale in May. Right after they posted about the event, the site went down for maintenance. It didn’t take long for Facebook users to complain and point out that they couldn’t get to the site to buy any products.

The social media team did not respond to every comment personally, but was smart to send out a note to fans that they were working on the issue and the site would be back up soon.

Customer complaints were acknowledged and customers were told that the company was addressing the issue.

When the site was back up, a user still couldn’t access the page, so the social team provided a direct email contact to resolve the issue off of Facebook. Providing an email was a good solution because it gave the user somewhere to go to have her issue addressed.

If you can’t solve a user’s problem with a simple post, take the issue offline and out of the public eye as soon as possible.

Within 10 minutes, Anthropologie responded with another method of customer service.

Sometimes brand ambassadors will even step in to resolve a conflict for you. Though it is helpful when customers support you enough to calm a disgruntled customer, do not assume that will be the case every time. Set up tools and a strategy to monitor the conversation, so you aren’t surprised with the conversations happening about your brand.

#3: Monitor Conversations

Now that you’ve created and are updating several social profiles on behalf of your brand, you may find it a bit overwhelming to keep up to date with what is being said about your brand online.

Savvy businesses are monitoring their brand for mentions with social media monitoring tools.

Read the full article…

Comments Off on DNSChanger Malware deadline is Monday. Are you ready?

DNSChanger Malware deadline is Monday. Are you ready?

By Fahmida Y. Rashid

Come Monday, there will be some people who won’t be able to get on the Internet from their computers. Will you be one of them? Hopefully not.

According to the latest FBI estimates from July 5, approximately 64,000 computers in the United States are expected to lose Internet access when the temporary Domain Name System servers are shut down July 9. The number is closer to 300,000, worldwide, with the top infections in the US, Italy, India, and Great Britain, Vikram Thakur, principal security response manager at Symantec, told Security Watch.

Wait, Why?
As PCMag previously reported, computers infected with the DNS Changer Trojan have been using rogue DNS servers instead of the default servers specified by their company and Internet service provider. DNS servers act as a phone directory for the Internet, translating domain names (say, PCMag.com) to the server’s numeric address, and routing users to the correct website. The cyber-gang behind the malware was using rogue DNS servers to direct users to alternate sites.

After the gang was arrested in 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a court order allowing them to operate DNS servers with those IP addresses so that infected computers can remain online while they got cleaned up. The original cleanup deadline was in March, but has been extended to July 9. On Monday, that court order will expire and the servers will be shut down, leaving infected computers with no DNS server to send their Web requests.

“An educated guess is that the infections are primarily home or small business users,” Thakur said.

Cleanup Efforts
Considering the malware originally infected close to 1 million computers, coming down to 300,000 is pretty good. But according to the DNS Changer Working Group statistics, the number of infected machines has been stalled in this range since about mid-May.

It’s possible that some of the users are aware of the infection but have had no luck with the cleanup process. Perhaps they manually checked their computer’s DNS settings and didn’t see any malicious IP addresses, or they ran security scanning software and came up empty. The likely culprit, then, is that their routers were infected. PCMag’s Samara Lynn has put together a very simple guide to checking and fixing the home router to get back online.

It’s also possible that the owners of these yet-to-be-cleaned up computers don’t even know about these machines. Most infections began as a drive-by download, which seems to imply most infected machines are end-user desktops, Dan Brown, director of security research at Bit9, told Security Watch.

But DNS Changer has been around for a few years, and some of these devices may have been infected one or two years ago, Gunter Ollmann, vice president of research at Damballa, told Security Watch. Those devices may be “no longer used today as they were then,” Ollmann said. These are machines that haven’t been updated recently, have not browsed to popular sites recently, and network administrators might not know where the computers are physically located.

They will “only be noticed when they stop working for some reason,” Ollmann said.

Read the full article and learn the fix on PC Magazine…