I’m doing it. Some of you will say “bout time”. Some of you will say “uh-oh”. Some will say “rock on” and others will say “who cares”. I’m busting out the long overdue, what’s -going-on-in-this head ‘o mine blog.
It’s funny, I never really thought of myself as a curious person but truth is, I am. Deep, deep down, I always want to know why things are, I want to learn, I want to talk, I want to understand and always know more. I should have been a lawyer, or a scientist, but couldn’t pay attention long enough so….here I am.
So here, I will share thoughts, ask questions and seek knowledge. We can debate, we can chat, we can use foul-language if it applies to the subject BUT….
Pretty much “coffee talk”. Chat. Business, kids, neighborhood news, bad behavior, sometimes random totally un-news related things.
My numero-uno rule. Top of the ladder. The buck stops here. You may not call each OTHER or ME names or otherwise attack a person for their opinion.
I don’t do that whole twisted “people can say anything” rule. I just hate that between neighbors.
Welcome to “The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. Behind the News Desk.” by Angela McFarland, Chief Creative Officer and Publisher of the Ballston Journal.
BY MELISSA WARD
In October, I was given the tremendous opportunity to speak at the Optimization Conference in my new position as director of social media with the Internet Marketing Ninjas. The Optimization Conference is an SEO, and marketing conference in Kharkov, Ukraine. I participated with two other US Internet Marketers, Jim Boykin, chief executive officer of the Internet Marketing Ninjas and Gillian Musseig, president at SEOMOZ, Inc.
Here in the states, we take Facebook for granted. For better or worse, it’s a part of our everyday life. We assume the same is true worldwide. The fact of the matter is, it’s not… at least not yet. The height of usage we’ve achieved in the US, especially with Facebook, has yet to spread worldwide. With only 25 percent of the Ukrainian population having Internet access, the barrier to entry is large. A large percentage of Ukrainian online users do engage with Twitter, but the Russian social network of choice is Vkontakte, or VK for short. While open to anyone, participation in VK seems heaviest among students and those who want to share music and videos without having to pay for it. A mere 5 percent are on Facebook.
VK is now trying to create a more “Facebook” business model, charging for PPC ads and other items. In an effort to eliminate spam, they only allow new users to join if they have been invited by an existing VK member. It looks like Facebook, it sometimes smells like Facebook, but it’s not Facebook.
During the conference, many of the Ukrainian SEO’s poo-poo’d social media as unnecessary in marketing a Web site. The biggest barrier to Facebook, (aside of Internet access, in the Ukraine is the inherent fear of losing privacy (sound familiar?) During the question and answer portion after my presentation, one commenter said the marketing tactics we use in the US on Social Media sites will never be embraced by the Ukrainian public. My reply: “Perhaps not today, maybe not even tomorrow, but – it is coming.”
Social Media usage is far more common via mobile phone then via computer. If I had to guess, the marketing technologies that are embraced by the younger generation will be based on mobile applications ability to share on the social networks. Any teenager, regardless of location, is hungry to share a new car purchase, phone purchase, etc. To win, an Eastern Europe brand will have to make mobile sharing as easy as pushing a button, or so transparent sharing occurs at the time of purchase.
Ukrainian SEO firms are more focused on obtaining American clients, as they (correctly) believe that is where the market is most ripe. They also strive to serve UK and Russian clients. Those firms have a presence on Facebook and they have the potential to succeed with a dense population of technically savvy, multi-lingual citizens.
Kharkov is unique as it houses three Universities within its 119 square miles (for comparison Milton, Ballston Spa and Malta equal about 100 square miles combined). Each university is specialized in an arm of science and one focuses on, you guessed it, computer technology. The newest graduates are being scooped up by Ukrainian firms looking to increase market share overseas by advertising with cheaper costs.
With Social Networking being most popular in the 18-34 year old crowds, the Ukraine is on the brink of a Social Media Marketing explosion. Example: Heineken had a party and asked all party goers to post photos on the Heineken VK page. This offered the brand a great deal of exposure for very little cost and gave social networking users a way to share that did not involve great privacy risk.
With the popularity of Twitter, I imagine that Facebook will emerge the winner. FB has the manpower to allow multilingual cultures to thrive in a shared space. VK is still limited, but may surprise us in the end.
Regardless as to whether Ukrainians fully adopt Facebook or VK; the social revolution is coming. There is no way to avoid it.
Melissa Ward is director of social media, Internet Marketing Ninjas in Clifton Park.
BY MELISSA WARD
You’ve started a business, hung the shingle, got your business cards, even put up a quick Web site, but the phone isn’t ringing. What is a business owner–especially a professional–to do?
Advertising is an obvious place to start, but it costs money and often requires both a great deal of time and a great amount of resources. Personal networking is also a commonsensical choice and a must for professionals, but no one can be everywhere at once, and it can take forever to meet all the people you need to meet.
The fastest, easiest, and least expensive place to go is online. Thanks to the power of the Internet and the easy accessibility of social media every businessperson, professional and entrepreneur suddenly has the reach and power of advertising at their fingertips. All that is required is an internet connection and some sense of where to go and what to do.
One of the best web sites for professional networking is LinkedIn. Used properly, LinkedIn can help you expand your reach by making connections, position you as an expert and help you to leverage those connections into sales or advocates. LinkedIn supports testimonials and recommendations, offers groups to network in, and provides an answers section so you can interact with people you do not know.
But taking full advantage of all of the above begins with a GREAT profile.
First, make sure to add a photo of yourself. No logos, no abstract imagines–YOU. This is an opportunity to brand “you” and you have to take it.
Next, take advantage of the unique URL: www.linkedin.com/in/you. By customizing this feature you control how your profile is listed in search.
Add your Web site. Help people to find you.
Use the summary for where you WANT to go, not where you have been. The summary is the present forward. Who do you want to meet, who can you help, what individual or group do your services benefit? The summary is where you can speak directly to them. Write with the customer in mind–it’s never about you, it’s always about them.
Add your past work experience. Talking about that work experience gives profile visitors a clue as to your traits and qualities. A real estate agent I know didn’t want to include past experience trading commodities because she didn’t think it was relevant. But once you read “trading” you think quick, can think on her feet, financially savvy. These are all excellent traits to promote.
Add your schools. Connections come from all corners of the globe. Mentioning your high school and listing your higher education degrees can help you connect with people you have not seen in a long time.
Build up testimonials. Connect with people you have done business with and ask them if they’d be willing to give a recommendation via LinkedIn that will publicly post on your profile (after you approve it). Do not ask people you have not worked with to do the same. It’s fairly easy to spot a “fluff” testimonial, which will damage your credibility.
Participate in groups and in the answers section. These are LinkedIn’s interactive networking opportunities. These are also your opportunities to flash your brilliance to the world by helping people to solve their problems.
Add Applications. Make sure to add your blog’s RSS feed via the Blogger application, share your powerpoints via Slide Share, share your reading list via the Amazon application. There are other applications as well–explore them, add them if they are relevant and help people to better understand the person you are.
Once you have a stellar profile, make sure to update your status at least once a day. Share something that will benefit the people you are connected to and offer them the opportunity to get to know you better.
Melissa Ward is a social media marketing and web development thought leader and Managing Partner of NewWard Development LLC. Over the course of her extensive career she has shared her expertise and knowledge globally through her blogs, articles, and networking initiatives. Through her professional development conferences, training sessions and seminars she has helped corporations and entrepreneurs increase their presence, solidify their market position, and improve their visibility across all industry channels. You can view her website at www.newward.com
The telephone has become such a common fixture in our society that we use it without giving it a second thought. Be honest, have you ever said yourself, “I have no time to use the phone?” Email has become a similar commonality in our everyday lives. Whether we like it or not, Social Media is on its way to entering into the same category.
Consider this: You go to your favorite pizza place and check in on Four Square (www.foursquare.com). The people you are connected to on Facebook (www.facebook.com) and Twitter (www.twitter.com) see that you are at “Joe’s Pizza” and assume it is a place you enjoy visiting. Your best friend happens to be walking down the same block and, having seen your Facebook update, knows you are at Joe’s. He decides to stop in and have a slice with you. You enjoy the surprise; have some quick conversation over slices and soda then part ways to head back to work.
What happened?; You created awareness among your sphere of influence for Joe’s Pizza, you connected with a friend who you haven’t had the chance to chat with in a while and your spirits are lifted and you return to work a little cheerier.
This is what Social Media is about- connecting with each other in such a casual manner that it is a part of our every day conversational lives.
The advantage of Social Media for business is obvious. By having a presence in various social media Web sites, you give your customers the opportunity to help spread the word about your business. You also give your customers and prospective customers the ability to ask questions, stay up to date on what is happening in your place of business and offer them a level of customer support that you have never been capable of before.
The advantage of Social Media for the every day person are connections and awareness. You can now connect with people who you may not have the chance to see and talk to everyday. Your friends can stay in touch and keep up with the major and minor things going on in your life without you having to make 75 phone calls. You also, usually without realizing it, offer your recommendations to your friends by sharing where you go and what you like and do not like about certain businesses.
Humans value connections. We love knowing. We enjoy hearing about a delightful meal out or a stellar customer service experience, and we like having the opportunity to congratulate each other on a promotion, a job well done, or some other life experience. We also enjoy the opportunity to offer each other support in times of need. We like to share the “Hey I found this funny” moments, the “Have you seen this great article?” links, the videos and photos of our kids we post on our wall. We can also solicit advice; “Where should I go for a good hair cut?” or ” What’s your favorite recipe for Irish soda bread?” and expect honest answers from those we are reaching out to.
By participating in the social networks we offer our friends and connections a glimpse into our lives. We become more “real” to them and them to us. Social Networks have become our front porches. Only in this virtual world our front porch can span from our local neighborhood to across the globe to a family in Japan who is recovering from a natural disaster. There is a certain magic in that. We are exposed to more. We see more of where we are similar and where we are not. We have the opportunity to appreciate different cultures, experiences and lifestyles by having them stream live on our computer screens.
By connecting, we offer ourselves the opportunity to know more, see more, be more and … feel more.
Melissa Ward is the managing partner of NewWard Development LLC. She provides her technical and marketing expertise to benefit her clients, and brings with her over a decade of experience as a seasoned and knowledgeable professional graphic designer, Internet Marketer, entrepreneur and business journalist. Melissa is a thought leader in the Social Media marketing and web development industries. She shares her expertise and knowledge globally through her blogs, articles, and networking. Both online and off, she has helped corporations and entrepreneurs increase their visibility, solidify their market position and improve the performance of their presence across all industry channels through her professional development conferences, training and seminars. For information visit her website at http://www.newward.com
BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
The Saratoga Economic Development Corporation has been recognized for its social media market initiatives by national advertising firm Atlas Advertising of Denver, Colo. Account manager Amy Clore cited the SEDC for its ongoing social media efforts. “Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, in Upstate New York, is a great example of how a strong social media plan can help your organization find success,” she said.
Shelby Schneider, director of marketing and economic development specialist at SEDC, said social media is a key part of the organization’s marketing and outreach efforts on several levels.
“Our LinkedIn group has been especially valuable,” she said. “There are over 1,000 members now, and the conversation is ongoing.”
Having so many participants allows the SEDC to both extend its reach and develop relationships quickly.
“People can passively get intelligence on our members and our community and see what Saratoga has to offer. Plus you get beyond the get-to-know-you phase early on so you can move quickly when you finally meet face to face,” Schneider said.
Schneider points to a recent trip to Europe as an example.
“We tried to identify companies which would be doing business with GLOBALFOUNDRIES,” she said, which led to contacts in France and Germany. “By the time we actually met we knew each other’s backgrounds already.”
Developing such contacts is a key part of SEDC’s mission.
“Our job is to help promote and develop business in Saratoga County,” Schneider said. “Social media allows us to have the resources to help people to understand what we do and who we are and to create jobs.”
Schneider believes one of the best advantages of using social media is the metrics they provide.
“You can see how many people have looked at your LinkedIn page or joined a group,” she said. “And that shows you how effective your efforts are.”
Using social media is also cost-effective. And as Schneider points out, vehicles such as the LinkedIn group allow marketers to control the message while still allowing potential partners the opportunity to participate in the discussion.
“You can keep the conversation tightly related to the issues,” Schneider said, while still allowing a free exchange of viewpoints, perspectives, and information. “Plus you get the benefit of seeing who is following what you’re doing, and who is doing what,” she said.
The SEDC has over 400 member investors, and is located in Saratoga Springs. For information visit their Web site at www.saratogaedc.com.