Friday, August 30, 2013

How to change your Tumblr logo

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Want to change your Tumblr logo?  Aside from the gratuitous nude photo of Adriana Lima, this is actually a useful, straightforward tutorial.

The internet is at war with itself

Video, text or image, the fundamental form of online ad campaigns depends on purpose, ingenuity and budget.  But depending on where you stand in this vast ecosystem, as a consumer, you may find particular ads captivating and creative versus annoying and disturbing.

As for the former, where I work to be at, I look at ad campaigns as a study in commerce, persuasion and creativity.  I am an eager student, really.  As for the latter, where I am on occasion, I reflect on where these campaigns fail.  They may be overly repetitive, in which case I am turned off, or overly intrusive, in which case I am pissed off.  Certainly not where any brand or advertiser wants me to be.

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So this grabbed me on Google News - Troubles Ahead for Internet Advertising:
Much of the Web relies on advertising income, but anti-ad technology could put a dent in that revenue. A recent report from the Web service PageFair said that on average 22.7 percent of visitors to 220 Web sites were using ad-blocking software, which automatically removes most ads from a Web page. The figures were highest in gaming and technology Web sites, which tend to have a large concentration of savvy users.
PageFair said the practice was growing at a rate that suggests almost all sites will appear without ads by 2018.
There are plenty of reasons to say that isn’t so. For one thing, PageFair makes money by helping companies get around ad blocking, so it has an interest in making ad blocking seem like a problem in dire need of solving. In an e-mail, however, PageFair executives defended their methods and conclusions. The company compared visits recorded on Google Analytics with the ad impressions recorded by a separate ad server.
The challenge for advertisers - whether it be video, text or image, or some combination - is to create an ad campaign that actually works:  Someone buys their product or service, at the end of the day.  In turn, the challenge for consumers is to appreciate the give-and-take nature of the ecosystem.  For example, we can enjoy Facebook for free, but for the sake of having ads in our midst.

Me, I am not so concerned about this anti-ad technology.  We humans are a creative lot, by and large.  So anti-anti-ad technology will develop, if necessary.  But the solution in this matter may be more human than anything else:  Engage us, appreciate us, be fair and reasonable, teach us, and we as consumers are more apt to be captivated and enthralled.  We will not have a need for anti-ad technology.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The new look groups on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn Groups, one of our most popular products on LinkedIn, is getting a major redesign with a beautiful new look and feel. There have been more than 2 million Groups created around almost every topic imaginable — from entrepreneurship, philanthropy and careers to social and digital marketing. These communities have become places where our members are exchanging and sharing their experiences, business knowledge, interests and ideas with other like-minded professionals daily. 
As part of our ongoing efforts to make LinkedIn easier and simpler to use, we’ve brought a new streamlined look that will give Group managers and Group members the ability to customize and visually differentiate their conversation space.
Reference:  Introducing a New Look for LinkedIn Groups [INFOGRAPHIC].

As with anything worthwhile and important on social media, managing a group requires that (a) you clarify your purpose, intent or priority and (b) you invest time and effort into serving your purpose.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Keep it short and sweet

Snapchat Fact: Learn more about snapping from Shannon!

A short and sweet video on Instagram (click the caption link, above).  Shannon's Snapchat tip?  You guessed it:  Keep it short and sweet.  

I love it!

The personal quandary of blogging

Sometimes blogging can be a personal quandary.  What people - bloggers and readers alike - love is straight-from-the-heart, useful and funny stuff.  But the exigencies of making a living - for the blogger and-or the publication - can be a rude headwind for all the joy that blogging promises.

Nicole Knepper
In Blogging: Is monetizing your blog worth the price of your dignity?, Nicole Knepper writes a very thoughtful, wonderful piece that seems to have resolved, if not transcended, that quandary.
Almost ten years ago, I left my career as a professional therapist to become a stay at home mom. Back then I was feeling burned out, isolated and depressed. A friend suggested that I engage in social media, and doing helped to pull me back into the world. Five years ago, I drifted into blogging. There was no plan aside from remaining plan-less. The blog saved my life. That’s not hyperbole. 
It saved me.

It didn’t used to be this way, and in my experience, this kind of thing causes a rift within the various blogging communities, tapping into the greatest fear of a writer – the fear that our words won’t connect us with others, that nobody will care about what we write, that we will be harshly judged, that we simply aren’t good enough.

Today, paid bloggers are constantly under the pressure to prove their worth in order to monetize their blogs. I am one of those bloggers. My boss has to “justify the cost” of keeping me, (his words, not mine) and he can’t do that unless I am generating income for the site in a measurable way. It’s impossible to do that without a community. 
What to do?

Bowing out gracefully seemed like a good plan, really the only plan that would make me happy again. 
“The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!"
Robert Burns – 1785. 
Translation? Even if you have a good plan, there are just no guarantees your plan will succeed or bring you happiness. Plans fail. Plans change. Expect the unexpected and the Gang aft agley (whatever that means).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Social me(ow)dia, explained

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What a fantastic #infographic to explain the concept behind each of the main #SocialMedia platforms. Definitely some #fridayfunnies to finish off your week!
Reference:  Nicholas Redfern.

Any questions?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Super-fast stars promoting high-speed broadband

A member of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Virgin Media is a pay-TV and high-speed broadband operator.  It makes sense that they engage track stars to be spokes-athletes for their offering.  Usain Bolt, for example, is considered the fastest human on the planet.  In particular, he is the first to win gold medals for both the 100- and 200-meter races - twice:  in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Mo Farah is also on the Virgin Media ad team, though I couldn't find him in any of their commercials on YouTube.  So this Nike commercial will do.  Farah is an Olympic and World champion in the 10,000- and 5000-meter races.  

Christine Ohuruogu

Finally, Virgin Media signs Christine Ohuruogu to be part of advertising campaign.  She is a double World champion in the 400-meter race.
"Christine has consistently shown that the rest just can't keep up with her incredible speed, so what better ambassador for Virgin Media and our superfast broadband?" said Jeff Dodds, chief marketing officer at Virgin Media. "She's part of a stellar Team Virgin Media and will be a great representative for us as we look ahead to Glasgow 2014."

Purpose matters first, then design matters

This isn’t 2001: Consumers expect simple websites. Yes, the reasons people visit websites certainly affects whether or not they actually purchase a product, and brokerages probably have different clientele than consumer websites and even consumer banks. But it stands to reason that better web design translates to better business whatever the case.
So writes Derrick Harris in A few good charts showing why website design matters.

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For sure, design matters.  It did for Steve Jobs.  It does for Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  It definitely does for Jeff Bezos.  

But I say, purpose matters more, and purpose must come first.  What are you trying to accomplish, and what do you want your website to do?  Once you are crystal clear on this, then you (and-or a developer) can proceed to design a website that best suits you and serves your purpose.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Have you had your Oreo cookie today?

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Coffee is a standout on social media.  Starbucks, that is.  So why not a cookie?

Harsh Ajmera runs down 5 Social Media Lessons to learn from Oreo:
  1. Be original and creative
  2. Be emotional
  3. Be humorous
  4. Be provoking
  5. Be consistent.
Easy as pie, right?  Er, easy as cookies.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Video ads at the crossroads of new and old media

For one, I noted that with the exception of print, new media has not supplanted old media - that is, TV and radio.  Rather, new media and old media run on separate tracks that often intersect, even collide.  

For another, I argued before that YouTube will increasingly look like the regular TV, that is, peppered with commercials.  In turn, TV will look more like online programming, as it becomes increasingly tethered to the internet.  

These IPOs signal that investors have enough confidence in the future of digital video that they’ll put some chips on the table. They see advertisers using online video to extend their TV campaigns [e.g., "The Blacklist," below] and this sector growing at rates far higher than the advertising market as a whole.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Essential blog editors for bloggers

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Blogging is an everyday occurrence for me. However, it is only one part of the duties I juggle on a daily basis. This makes writing blog content in the fastest, most efficient way possible an absolute must. 
How can you accomplish this? Through six essential blog editors that will free up your time and allow you to focus on what matters most, the actual writing and content of the post. 
Whether you blog once a week or once a day, finding a better way to blog will allow you to write proficiently, allowing you to stay top-of-mind as an informative and relevant subject matter expert!
So writes Rebekah Radice recently in 6 Essential Blog Editors Every Blogger Needs.

I'm not familiar with any of these editors, but I need to look into the ones for Windows.  Right now I have 13 blogs, and in the last month I've been on a high-productivity stretch and blogging everyday on 10 - 11 of these.  I'm not able to sustain this pace, as it's very time-consuming, so I need to rethink and restrategize my purpose, priorities and plans (alliteration, not intended).

I need something that adds to my blogging efficiency, as Radice emphasizes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A match made in digital heaven

Wired Marketing writer Amy Birch offers very helpful ideas and practical examples of how marketers can best integrate social media and e-mail campaigns for their brands.  We already know the ubiquity of the first, but isn't the second old hat?  Admittedly I've joked with friends that e-mailing is so 20th century.  But not so fast with my derision.  Copyblogger notes,
[E-mail marketing is] also amazingly cost-effective. With an ROI of around 4,300% (according to the Direct Marketing Association), email practically pays for itself … and saves a tree or two. It’s what you use when you want to move from “conversation to commerce.”
4300% is hard to believe, but we can be sure that it is cost-effective and it results in positive ROI.

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That said, Birch delineates the value of weaving this together with your choice of social sites:
Promoting social sharing and interaction with your email contacts is important for a number of reasons:
- To extend the potential reach of your emails. As people share your emails, your brand gets more exposure and more potential for opens, clicks and conversions.
- To grow your email list. As more and more people receive your emails, the more chance you have of gaining new subscribers.
- To connect with your audience. Each social network allows you to connect with your contacts in a slightly different way.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Video sharing is everywhere!

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YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Klip, Qwiki, Vimeo, Viddy, Socialcam … that’s right, video sharing is everywhere. 
So writes Gabriel Shaoolian in a very informative article - Online Video Sharing Platforms Are Marketing Gold.  Just in case you've been sleeping under a rock the past year, it's time to wake up, my friend.  
YouTube users not only watch billions of videos, but they upload in excess of 100 hours of videos every minute. It’s not a fad or a trend. It’s a way of life.
Other video sharing platforms have emerged since YouTube began, but the race to jump on the video sharing bandwagon more or less began when Twitter acquired the six-second video sharing platform Vine in January. According to, what started modestly with 77,000 unique visitors in January grew to 3.6 million unique desktop users five months later. No one can afford to ignore stats like these.  [emphases, added]
More than ever, videos are simply no longer the sole purview of production houses, but of anyone with a smartphone camera.  Case in point:  Last year my 13-year old daughter and four friends videotaped a takeoff on Justin Bieber and Niki Minaj's "Beauty and a Beat," and it was pretty cool.  Their editing skills weren't bad, either.

Their one video figures into the big stats that, no, none of us can afford to ignore.
The opportunities are nearly endless for marketers to use video sharing platforms to spread their message in the best possible way. Here’s why:
  • Marketers are able to share content and engage with users via platform communities who are already interacting with each other.
  • Users have the chance to dip into a huge inventory of world-wide videos, both professional and user-generated.
  • Portability of content means marketers and users can participate on multiple platforms.
  • The self-serve nature of social media allows for targeted and effective advertising.
Need more convincing about the crucial opportunities for promo videos?
Video sharing has become an effective way to communicate with users. There’s a lot more to come as companies like Vine and Instagram learn how to make better use of the market that has exploded around them. Meantime, it’s a good thing for both users and brands alike. Instead of wading through endless emails trying to find the message, a solid, short video can say it all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teens at Issue with Facebook

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I'm 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook, so writes Ruby Karp in Mashable.  What can you get out of the viewpoint of a 13-year old?  It depends on what's important to you and what you're doing.  Articles, videos and images, posts and comments on social media proliferate.  But it's refreshing to hear what a young teen has to say on this very subject, Facebook in particular.

We cannot take everything she says as literal fact, of course.  But if there is any measure of truth in the notion that perception is reality, then her perception is gold:

  • If the target audience for your brand is young people
  • If you want a pulse on what's trending among them (read:  Instagram, Vine and Snapchat)
  • If you want to stay plugged-in with your children, nieces and nephews
  • If social media is important to you on the whole

To wit, some choice quotes from Ruby that Mashable highlighted:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Have we got blogging platforms for you!

Kasia Mikoluk writes an informative, practical article - Best Blogging Platform: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, SquareSpace, or Typepad?

Blogging and social media are, in many respects, bound up with one another.  Tumblr, for one, is a blogging platform that's become more social media.  Twitter, for another, is social media that touts itself a micro-blogging.

But the two are actually distinct.  Blogging upholds the journalist and writer in us as well as the diarist and introvert in us.  To complete this analogy, social media offers a forum for the conversationalist, actor and model, voyeur and audience that we often are.

I've used three of the five platforms that Mikoluk reports on, so here are my experiences.  Please keep in mind that these are just my personal experience (i.e., n = 1, in research and statistics).  Yours may or may not be different.

I had a web developer create a blog for me, and I liked his design.  WordPress was fairly easy to learn and convenient to use.  I was a first-time blogger a few years ago, and I didn't quite figure out how to upload videos (i.e. via embedding).  But it was easy enough to take a screen shot, upload this, and insert a link to the video itself.

However, what made my WordPress experience increasingly nightmarish was spam comments.  I'd get 100 in about a week.  I looked several times for some spam filter, and never found it.  I asked friends on Twitter for help, and they recommended different apps.  But finding the right app was more trouble and expense than it was worth, and in time I just ended up dispensing with WordPress.

Just like the old Dodge Caravan I drove, which needed several aggravating recalls for all sorts of fixes, WordPress is completely off my radar.

The best thing about Blogger is its Google ecosystem - Google+, YouTube, Gmail, Search, News, Android - which I love and am impressed by.  I can toggle across my accounts easily, and one profile and photo cover multiple sites.  Its look and versatility make it like a website for me, and for certain projects I use it as such.        

On the minus side, it has taken a lot of time to learn the intricacies of its functionality.  For example, getting approval for AdSense, associating it with different accounts, and setting up the ads on each site weren't always so straightforward.

Also, a simple thing like uploading videos from YouTube (never mind other platforms) can often be a pain in the neck.  The normal route for this relies on the video title, not URL or embed code, which is problematic when the video is relatively unknown.  The embed process works well, but only sometimes, and is virtually useless for non-YouTube videos.

Thankfully all of these have been minor frustrations, at worst, and quite manageable at the end of the day.  

I'm new to tumbling, and so far it's been the easiest to use.  That's its competitive advantage apparently.  It offers very cool, creative designs, not just themes or colors, but also unconventional templates.  It doesn't have the versatility of Blogger, but it makes up for this shortfall with convenience and look.

Recently, for example, I discovered the queue function and quickly learned how to use it.  Now I don't have to set aside time to do my daily uploads.  I queued five posts yesterday, and each one will automatically upload per day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

To annoy or not annoy with your video ads

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Facebook will start letting marketers “buy their way directly” into Facebook users’ feeds “with a 15-second pitch” that will cost them between $1 million to $2.5 million per day to buy.
So reported by BGR - Using Facebook is about to get a lot more annoying.

Facebook is not annoying to me, and I anticipate that it will not be annoying, either, as it builds its business model further.  In recent weeks, I've seen sponsored posts on my Home page, coming in second in line.  So that promotional video becomes all the more important, as it has the potential to reach millions of people at any given moment.  

Because sports is such a passion of mine, I visit sports sites frequently and consume content - articles, videos and photos - as if it were a meal that came after a stretch of fasting.

I love two sites - NHL Network (hockey) and NBC Sports - but their video ad programming is definitely annoying.  These sites tend to navigate slowly and its content is sometimes difficult to find.  On top of that, ads seem to come more frequently and for lengthier stretches.  I've taken to toggling off to another site, like Facebook or Google+, while its 30-second commercial runs.

Two other sites I love, which have much better video ad programming, are ESPN and YouTube.  On occasion, ESPN will show the very same commercial over and over, and that's wearisome.  That's just an exception, thankfully, in an otherwise well-structured and well-modulated programming.  

I don't like the in-video ads on YouTube, but at least I can switch it off.  Also, there are TrueView ads, which give viewers the option to "Skip Ad" after five seconds of watching.  Which I truly appreciate!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writing better through blogging

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It's a good article - Why College Students Should Blog - quite convincing. 

I was just listening to talk radio this morning, and one host lamented how texting and tweeting have eroded our writing skills. I think blogging can be the antidote!
Blogging in itself is a skill that entails many different qualities, especially for college students. It enables them to become a better writer, develop more tech-savvy knowledge, aid in marketing services, and have more networking experience. These are all valuable aspects that only add to an arsenal of abilities which can make students more qualified as a future employee.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Personalizing your brand on Twitter

InQuest Marketing had this to say about Twitter in the Social Media Strategy community on Google+:
Twitter can be a wonderful vehicle for marketers and advertisers to tell their story and demonstrate their personalities. It can build customer loyalty toward a brand. The following is a blog post about how to use Twitter to the fullest as a brand- it can be fun, too!
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But let's distill the lowdown from the helpful article they posted, too - how to be a better brand on twitter:

Be savvy and funny

Whoever manages your social media profiles and pages, be sure it's someone who is savvy and funny and has a good pulse on what your target audience likes a lot.
Another thing he does well is he truly interacts with his followers. If a follower asks if they have a certain book, he replies to them with a picture of the book, a sticky note with the user’s name attached, and an offer to hold it for them until they get there.
Jump to it

If a problem occurs, jump to it immediately and take care of it effectively.  An apology helps, if sincerely given, but it's not enough.  Doing something about it is crucial, too.
Actor/Director Kevin Smith Tweeted that he had been kicked off a Southwest flight for being overweight. Southwest promptly replied with numerous apologetic Tweets and let the other Twitter followers know that the customer service team was on the case.
Be real and genuine

The article calls it having a personality for your brand.  Me, I just call it being real and genuine.  That is, no auto-bots and no auto-replies.  None of those terrible social media apps that emphasize convenience and efficiency for the user, over engagement and sincerity with the audience.
Creating this persona not only brings life to the brand, but it can also generate content. If your brand is a grocery store, it probably LOVES Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay. Any time either of them is in the news, you’ve got something to post about. You’ve got someone to follow, and you’ve got a quirk that your followers can really relate to.