Social business – Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kimberly-Clark uses social quiz to woo talent Fri, 04 Nov 2016 17:00:56 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Welcome Original Thinkers WOTQuiz Kimberly-Clark WOT

welcome original thinkers quiz halloweenChris AbrahamAre you an original thinker? You can quickly find out by taking the Welcome Original Thinkers Quiz (WOTQuiz)—I’m an Adaptor:

“You enjoy exploring every side of an issue and like a wicked great maestro you tease out the positive in each approach. Your resourcefulness and ability to easily adapt to the latest input often makes you the one who finds answers to the most challenging questions.”

What did you get? Please be sure to let me know in the comments.

Kimberly-Clark created a BuzzFeed-inspired quiz to discover their own Original Thinker type and then are rewarded with a new emoji badge suitable for social sharing, as well as an invitation to find out about original thinkers at Kimberly-Clark.

BOOve over Silicon Valley, Austin, TECHxas, and the Big Apple; welcome original thinkers to Neenah, Wisconsin, where young creative chemical and product engineers can find the job of their dreams.

wotemojisKimberly-Clark is looking for bright, talented thinkers who are eager to explore ideas, solve problems, and be part of collaborative teams and a performance-based culture that is focused on being number one in its markets. They’re using this online quiz to help prospective employees learn what kind of thinkers they are, what kind of jobs they’d best fit, and in the process, show that the 144-year-old paper and personal-care products company and its Neenah home base are cool and offers a balance of life that’s probably more fulfilling than a lot of other places. Kimberly-Clark’s culture is one where employees can and do routinely turn their ideas into winning, profitable and life-changing solutions.

As part of this campaign, my agency, Gerris Corp, is helping Kimberly-Clark get the word out using an extensive and aggressive earned-media micro-influencer marketing campaign in close formation with Kimberly-Clark’s People Strategy department and their AOR, Relish Marketing.

01-ot-emojis-donotsaveover-13I first worked with Kimberly-Clark back in 2008 to help reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections and, after eight more years, we get to work together again. From HAIWatch to WOTQuiz!

Again, this is a campaign where we’re targeting influencer verticals in order to engage them, share the quick fun quiz with them, and then brief them on what the campaign’s about and why Kimberly-Clark is promoting a personality quiz in the first place.

So far, people are in love with the different types of personality types, including the dreamer, analyzer, disrupter, muse, adaptor, nonconformist, maker, and inventor.

Our goal is the same as the goal of the quiz: get folks to take the quiz, find out their Original Thinker type, and then share their emoji badges via social media, sharing with all their friends via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

01-ot-emojis-donotsaveover-14Sounds easy, but easier said than done. “If you build it, they will come” never works so we get to be the vanguard of the movement, sparking and catalyzing all viral-making fun!

In support of this campaign, we’ve built a gorgeous Social Media News Release (SMNR)—the nicest one we’ve ever built for a campaign, and we’ve registered a bespoke domain name,, to make sure everything is very simple and accessible to anyone we message.

Earned media micro-influencer marketing doesn’t need to be limited to consumer campaigns for unicorn companies like Skinny Coconut Oil. Earned-media micro-influencer marketing works beautifully in the service of hearts and minds campaigns such as quizzes, tests, and polls.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you’d like more information, feel free to contact me.

Via Biznology

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Prospecting for new clients with social media Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:13:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Photo by mkhmarketing / Creative Commons BY

Photo by mkhmarketing / Creative Commons BY

Bootstrapping your startup? Don’t know where to find new customers? Social media is your best friend

Post by Michael Gorman

Target audience: Startups, businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

michael-gorman120Starting up a new business is a special undertaking that requires a lot of preparation, planning and action. Lots of things should be executed well to ensure that the business gets off to a great start. However, startups often face serious issues that can prevent them from growing further, such as a lack of clients. That’s a serious challenge — no customers or clients can mean no revenues.

Increasingly, today’s marketers working with startups or small businesses with bare-bones budgets point to social media because it basically amounts to an enormous base of potential leads. Social media platforms are thus at the forefront of customer acquisition strategies of many modern startups, and some of them completely rely on social media.

If you face the issue of finding customers, exploring what social media can do for your business just makes sense. Let’s review some of the reasons why your startup needs social media marketing to attract new clients or customers.

It drives targeted traffic

1Do you want to have a large volume of visitors coming to your website on a daily basis? Social media can do that! Creating posts on your business page on Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms is great because they can be viewed by hundreds and thousands of potential leads every day. However, this can happen only if you post information that is useful for the viewers and persuade them to click on the post that redirects them to your landing page or pages with a call to action. As the result, social media is bringing new leads and can reduce up to 45 percent of marketing costs.

It facilitates building real relationships with customers

2A person’s profile on social media is a window into their world that allows us to get insights into their lives. What that means to you as a startup owner is that you can get to know what is interesting for people and why they’re buying particular products. Having this insight provides you with a powerful advantage because you can provide the information the people need in their posts. According to a recent survey by J.D. Power & Associates, more than 80 percent of satisfied customers claimed that their online interaction with the company “positively influenced” their likelihood of making a purchase from them. Amazing, no?

The competition goes social

3More than 90 percent of companies use more than one social media site to attract new clients. A marketing expert from writing company Proessaywriting suggests that this trend is likely to continue because half of all adults use at least one social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and this number increases every year. Apparently, the brands will continue to battle for the customers’ attention on social media because this base is expanding with the speed of light. Your business should not miss this opportunity as well.

Social media levels the chances of getting new customers

4Before the era of social media, companies spent lots of money on advertising while others could not enjoy this luxury because of smaller marketing budgets. Today, however, the rules of the marketing arena have changed because even startups with small marketing budgets can engage as many leads as large ones. Any startup or business can reach new customers by offering valuable content (not marketing schlock). For example, if you offer website visitors the summary of an important marketing report by posting the highlights on social media, they don’t have to pay big bucks to get the report itself.

Social media gets more attention to your products

5Let’s back this up by examining some figures. Facebook has helped around 70 percent of B2C companies to acquire clients in 2014, and this number is expected to increase. Next, according to Lenati, more than 80 percent of managers and CEOs use social media to make purchasing decisions. All these data suggest one thing: Social media plays a significant role in helping to generate more sales. Your startup needs to be one step ahead and stay visible on Facebook and Twitter to ensure that the clients will consider it as a good purchasing option. Here are some good tips on how to improve your posts.


If you’re struggling with finding new clients, consider social media marketing. No, it’s not about posting photos of random funny stuff — you can use it for some serious client prospecting and lead generation. And you can’t beat the price.

Michael Gorman is an expert blogger in London. Michael stays on top of the trends in blogging, digital marketing and social media. Feel free to contact him on his Facebook page.
The 3 major risks of using social media in your business Tue, 29 Sep 2015 20:44:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Social media is all fun and games … until a blunder, blooper or breach cripples your company image and drops your CMO to her knees

Post by Adi Englander

adi-englanderProper etiquette and online security are no laughing matter. Yet it’s amazing how few companies actually know the risks that come with using social media as a business. The truth is all it takes is a split second for disaster to strike.

While the manifestations of these risks come in all shapes and sizes, knowing the three big boogiemen will help you steer clear of danger.

1. Employee Privacy Violation

A disgruntled employee with login access is just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes an employee can accidentally leak secrets without even knowing it.

For example, a passionate or excited employee might hear about a new project or see a big shot walk into your company and think, “I need to tweet this!” An innocent gesture to get a few likes on their part may result in them inadvertently telling your competitors what you’re up to, or worse, compromising the privacy of your customers.

In a few cases, employees simply do not know what is appropriate to share and what they should avoid. A social-media etiquette policy (signed by each employee and placed on file) can help tremendously with informing employees what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Moreover, because a company can be held legally liable for statements made by their employees, even if they are unaware of the statement being made, such policies are vital.

Protect Yourself: SecureMySocial

Social media policies help minimize the risk of employees violating regulations against disclosing private, confidential or sensitive information. However, policies are only effective if users comply and if businesses can continuously keep track of activities.

Otherwise, policies won’t save you from legal repercussions the moment an employee shares information that can be damaging to your business, your colleagues, or even themselves.

SecureMySocial helps companies by automatically keeping track of user-generated content and warning companies and employees in real-time when problematic material is shared on social media sites. This ensures immediate action or removal.

This helps to give businesses the safety they want without engaging in illegal activities such as asking employees for social media credentials.

2. Reputation Damage

Posts can build your credibility … or suck the life from your online presence. Both are actually risky, here’s why.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Your social-media staff is creative and driven. And those are great qualities. Unfortunately, this can lead to content that might seem funny or timely, but blows up in your company’s face, like the post from Dave & Buster’s below. This happens so often that Gawker has now created a dedicated page to keep track of them all.

Image Credit: Adweek

On the other side, bad intentions just as costly. Posts from the corporate account or from an employee’s personal account attacking your brand can be devastating.

When British entertainment retailer, HMV, decided to lay off 190 employees via mass firing, one employee started live tweeting the activities — directly from the company’s Twitter account. What’s worse, she was the only one with access to the accounts at that time and when her superiors found out what was happening, they had no clue how to stop it.

Protect Yourself: Google Alerts and SocialMention

Luckily for you, there are some free, high-quality tools available for proactive listening online. At the top of the list is Google Alerts, the long trusted tools for getting email or RSS feed alerts when your brand or chosen keywords are mentioned online.

SocialMention is also great for getting an overview of how your brand is perceived online. Plug in a keyword and it returns a stream of mentions, as well as a sentiment score, and a list of the top users of the term. That last insight is great for identifying key influencers.

3. Data Theft

While the focus of this article has mostly been on employees and those within the company, attacks can — and do — come from the outside. Social media is the ultimate playground for hackers and identity thieves. They prey on the vulnerable and the easily swayed to steal passwords and get unauthorized access to accounts.

Smart businesses can stem the likelihood of these intrusions by using social media management tools, like Oktopost, Buffer or Hootsuite, which allow companies to give access to employees and agencies without sharing passwords.

However, with the need for access on multiple devices and some social media platforms (like Instagram and Vine) not offering this function, it can be necessary to share passwords and access with multiple employees.

Most often, it’s these insecure passwords that put companies in a compromising position. By creating simple passwords so that multiple people can remember and use, they make themselves vulnerable to brute force attacks or automated tools and algorithms that continuously guess passwords until the right one is discovered.

Protect Yourself: LastPass and Account Permissions

LastPass is simple. It helps you create random strings of characters to use as strong passwords and manages them in an extension or app so you don’t have to enter them yourself.

If you’re more interested in something that’s easy for you (and your team) to remember, you can use this method from web comic, xckd. (Try using 6 words instead of 4 to make the password even stronger.)

Image Credit: xkcd

Along with setting strong passwords for each of your accounts, remember to continuously keep track of the administrators and account permissions on each account to keep unwanted persons and applications out.


Social media brings great benefits to the businesses, but it can be exceptionally risky if not properly monitored and protected.

You won’t be able to completely prevent employees from accessing your accounts or sharing the wrong information from theirs, but you can guide them along the right path and use tools to catch any missteps as soon as they happen.

Malicious forces from outside will also test your vulnerability and attempt to gain unauthorized access, but in most cases, they will go away once they see you’re not an easy mark.

Adi Englander is a social media expert with a thing for startups and innovation. She has a knack for leveraging various social media platforms and tools to help businesses reach out and engage with their customers.
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Curalate: A business solution for our visual age Mon, 10 Feb 2014 13:01:47 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Apu-Gupta
Apu Gupta, CEO/co-founder of Curalate: “The whole Web is becoming hi-def.”

Company helps companies & brands track conversations about products

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

JD LasicaSomewhere along the line, you’ve heard someone refer to the visual age that we’re entering. Fewer of us are reading and writing more than 140 characters, while more of us are watching, browsing, swiping and sharing discoveries on Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

Now the increasing dominance of the visual Web has become not just an interesting observation — it’s a business imperative. How to take advantage of the increasingly visual nature of the Web?

Enter Curalate (tagline: “smarter marketing through imagery”). The Philadelphia-based company launched in May 2012 with “the realization that increasingly consumers were communicating with pictures rather than words,” CEO and co-founder Apu Gupta said in a phone interview. “What we’re betting on is that there’s a fundamental shift in consumer behavior happening. The whole Web is becoming hi-def.”

More than 500 million people are regularly using Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, and most of the communication between users takes place with pictures — to the tune of 200 million photos a day — rather than words.

Curalate: A technology platform to make sense of the visual Web

The Gap, Kraft Foods, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, Campbell’s & others have hired Curalate to dig into the visual Web and let them know how customers are interacting with their brands.

For instance, a college student might take a photo of a cute pair of jeans at the Gap, but never mention the Gap in a caption, much less enter a #gap hashtag. But that brand moment should still matter to the Gap. Which is why companies like the Gap, Kraft Foods, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Better Homes and Gardens, Sephora, Campbell’s, Swarovski and others have hired Curalate to dig into the visual Web and let them know how customers are interacting with their brands.

“Most retailers have a discoverability problem” that Curalate helps solve, Gupta said. “We’re able to bring social data down to the product level.”

Curalate’s underlying technology and team of 30 — including several data scientists — trawls the visual Web and turns hundreds of millions of pieces of digital flotsam and jetsam into actionable data. It works both with companies directly and with marketing agencies representing more than 400 top brands.

“We teach them how to fish,” Gupta said. “They have to unlearn what they’ve been taught through the lens of Facebook. What we find with Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr is that the real engagement is initiated by the consumer instead of the brand.”

The centerpiece of Curalate’s offering is a drool-worthy analytics and marketing dashboard that provides rich details about the kinds of conversations and engagement people are having around brands and products.

“We scan every pixel from every image and we fingerprint it,” Gupta said. “We know how popular the image is, where it came from and who it belongs to. So I can say to the Gap, ‘Your most popular picture is x,’ and the Gap can decide to promote it or run an email campaign or decide to shift its advertising to reflect what people are talking about.”


Curalate identifies keywords associated with products, helping brands discover the language that customers are using.

How brands are using visual intelligence

I first heard of Curalate a few months ago on the SoLoMo Show podcast in a segment highlighting a new study that the company conducted showing which kinds of images get the most traction on Pinterest (multiple colors and reds, not blues; closeups, not faraway shots).

Those general learnings can help inform any company’s marketing efforts. But what’s even more useful is sifting through visual analytics relevant to your brand.

Gupta cited one client, Kahlua, that conducted a social media campaign using Curalate. Prior to the campaign, he said, the data from Curalate showed them that “people were thinking of Kahlua in more ways than just as a beverage.” So they ran a campaign showing how to use Kahlua as a pantry item that can be incorporated into baked goods. The result? Some 16,000 more subscribers to its email list, lots of sharing of content across Pinterest and a larger number of people “who began to think about Kahlua in a completely new way, taking it from the bar to the pantry,” he said.

Other clients have begun using Curalate analytics to update the window displays in their retail stores as the brands’ buying teams log into their dashboards to identify clothing trends.

I think it’s fair to say that Curalate is worth a look. Even if your brand isn’t particularly fetching, your customers are becoming more visual oriented. Sooner or later, you’ll want to learn how they’re engaging with your brand in these nonverbal corners of the Web.

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Does your website suck? Let us count the ways! Thu, 30 Jan 2014 13:01:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> sucks

Gosh darn it all! An upgrade may be in order

Target audience: Business executives, marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers.

Chris AbrahamIwas on a sales call with a DC-area architecture firm looking for some website love. When I received my briefing, I was nowhere near my PC but I was near an iPhone 5 on iOS and two Androids, a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. Nothing could load the firm’s website because the entire site and all its content were hidden in an Adobe Flash blob. Web applications developed with Flash and requiring a Flash-compatible browser suck, no matter how pretty they are. Also, Flash- or Graphics-based websites are not indexable by Google or Bing. And, what’s worse: the modern Internet runs on permalinks and Flash blobs don’t have direct link-tos, now do they? That sucks.

Let me count the ways that your business’s website might have been fine circa 2009 — but sucks big-time today.

Even if your aging site is findable, accessible, readable, and navigable via smart phone and tablet, it may well be hard for you, yourself, to access and update it using modern and free platforms like WordPress. Are you still sending your site updates to your IT guy in MS Word who then implements updates … eventually? Remove the IT department shackles and come into the 21st century, my friend: rich-text editing, spell-checking, hyper-linking, keyword-suggestion, and the ability to upload your own graphics and photos! WYSIWYG formatting! All good stuff. Multiple-editors, workflow, and different levels of access and editing credentials. I mean, we’ve come a long way since Microsoft FrontPage.

Your site is five years old or more

Even if your site is a fancy database-backed website, thoroughly cached, and on a super-fast and durable box right on the Internet’s backbone, five years is still a long time with the way technology is constantly changing. Your site’s probably on an over-priced proprietary system that some web developer sold you for quite a lot of money. So, you’re holding onto it as long as possible to maximize amortization. If you’re lucky, your site may well be on Joomla or Drupal or Movable Type. Possibly, an early version of WordPress even.

A lot has happened in five years — time to upgrade in a big way. And not just technology, usability, interfaces, accessibility or interface, but also content

A lot has happened in five years — time to upgrade in a big way. And not just technology, usability, interfaces, accessibility, or interface, but also content. What you did five or more years ago may well be the same but maybe a lot has happened in the interim. And not just process or relationships or narrative but also the language of what you do. When I started out in 2003, my space was called new media, my work, new media marketing.

Now, it’s called content marketing, digital PR, social media marketing, etc. Even authors rewrite, re-edit, and revise their dead tree books in order to remain relevant and saleable. With very few exceptions, people very rarely buy the oldest business books. So too, people often reject outdated (or seemingly outdated) websites, and they’ll dismiss yours, too, if you’re using Ye Olde Busyness Lingoe instead of the most current language, testimonials, references, case studies, client list, and white papers.

Your site is insecure

If your site is running on autopilot, you run the risk of your server, your database, your scripting language (PHP, Cold Fusion, Ruby on Rails, Perl, Python, etc.), and your content management system (CMS) being severely out of date. And, in the world of unprotected Internet, rife with hackers, botnets, exploits, and cracks, keeping your codebase is essential. Also, passwords. Also, your file and folder permissions (chmod). If I am speaking Greek, you need some help. Get some help in 2014!

Your site is cookie-cutter

You may not need (or be able to afford) a $20,000 website. And, to be honest, if your site is a decade old or really sucks or is based on a dead proprietary tool, language, platform, or CMS (or maybe runs on Windows NT and IIS), then go ahead and install a cookie-cutter site with a generic responsive template or theme, just like everyone else. However, if you really want to develop a unified brand, mission, vision, and direction, you’re going to need to put your own flourish onto your site — integrate the brand you have in real life (IRL) into your brand as it exists online.

And, if your real-life brand looks like crap online, it might look like crap on the site of your building, your stationery, and your business cards as well, then it’s time to do a complete branding makeover.

Your site is slow-ass

How much are you paying for web hosting? Did you buy a $4.99 special eight years ago and just run with that? Are you on a dedicated box? Are you using a service like SquareSpace, TypePad, or If you’re hosted by a site like that, you’re probably OK.

If you’re running on a local box, in a basement, or even in your building, and if you don’t know how much RAM, how many processors, what your server’s latency is, how close your box is to the Internet’s backbone, or whether you have a caching or content delivery network (CDN) strategy, then you may very well need to upgrade your service level (can you budget at least $25- or $50-a-month?) or change either your web hosting company or Internet service provider — or both! If you can’t get your site to show up on the first page of Google no matter what you do with SEO, content, marketing, advertising, promotion, social media marketing, or shilling, then your site is probably a chronic slow-ass.

Your site is too static

Even if your site is super-awesome, on the fastest service imaginable, if nothing ever changes, even if it’s not a static HTML website but a whiz-bang modern site, then Google will start to ignore you, to dismiss you as being archival content rather than being live. We know nobody reads your thesis even though it is in your college library. While getting your master’s or Ph.D. is very cool, what have you done lately?

What are you doing now? What will you be doing next week? Your site can no longer afford to just be brochureware.  It needs to become a communications platform, as real, vibrant, and alive as are your offices, as interesting as it would be to grab a drink with you. Because if your site sucks, why would anyone actually want to meet you for a meeting, a meal, or a drink. Since the Internet has commoditized simply everything and anything, you yourself are the only value added.

You are the person — you — who is the difference between a $200, $2,000, $20,000, $200,000, or $2 million engagement. Can your products and services be replaced by a robot? By an offshore or outsourced denizen of oDesk, eLance, or Amazon Mechanical Turk — prove it! And start proving it on your website.

Your site is too dynamic

I do recommend you try a modern, easy-to-edit and engage, content management system (CMS) if you don’t have the ability to support the sort of site load associated with success and many visitors. If you need to go on the cheap, consider static site generators like Movable Type, BlazeBlogger, Jekyll, Phrozn, Hyde, Sculpin, Bonzai, Winter Smith, Pie Crust, Middle Man, Nanoc, Gumdrop, and Stasis. If your website still sucks, then this solution is way over your head — so just be sure you know about these tools and words like Ruby, Python, PHP, and Perl in order to impress your techiest friends at parties.

Your site is broke-ass

Have you checked all of your images and links? Go check out W3C Link Checker or Internet marketing Ninja’s Image & Link Analyzer if you want to check your website for both broken links and images. It’s often worth it to check your own site. It may well be worth it to spend a little money at Pingdom, the industry’s best tool at checking your website to make sure it’s up and responsive. And, if it’s down, you’ll get pinged, or contacted, however you like, immediately.

Your site ignores the robots

People are only awake between 16 and 20 hours a day (and are probably online and looking at your site for maybe a few minutes); however, bots and spiders are machines and are around ubiquitously. Robots really only read text. They understand explicit keywords and phrases and then index them. They follow links and see how things are interconnected, they index entire sites, putting every single word and phrase into the search engine. Are you writing your sites for bots and spiders?

Your site ignores the visitors

Remember, these sites are not about you or your vision, it’s about the visitors and how they experience and perceive you. Do you annoy them? Do you confuse them? Are you too clever? Are you too creative? Is the site navigation clear? Do you make it easy for the visitors to contact you?

Or, are you a total dick by embedding too many CAPTCHAs or impossible-to-decrypt anti-spam prevention strategies that might pretty much keep your in-box completely empty (because every single spam email is like sulfuric acid in your eyes), because you’ve made contacting you enough of a pain in the ass that your sweet visitors with a $100k budget accidentally puts in the wrong email or CAPTCHA and the email never makes its mark.

And if you post your email addresses as graphic files, expecting your visitors to transcribe the email address from GIF to Gmail, then you’re a total douchebag and have a self-destructive streak that might require a little bit of Jungian therapy.

Your site doesn’t share

Social media is for sharing. Allow every single page to be share-able. Don’t judge. And offer them the ability to send pages as emails. And, don’t limit the sharing, either. Include Google+, Pinterest, reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, and even Tumblr. More, if you’re really savvy. Some people use their Twitter accounts as a de facto bookmarking tool. You never know and so allow your visitors to please play with the box your website came in as merrily as you want them to play with your site itself. People have their own processes — just give them all the tools they need.

Your site doesn’t tithe (to Google)

You need a fast site, a site that caches, you need a site that’s embedded through Google Analytics and referred to through your Google+ Profile page. You need to give Google that which is Google’s and Visitors that which are Visitors.

Forget Bing, Ask, Yahoo, MSN, AIM, AOL, or any of that stuff. Appease Google and be sure that Google knows who you are, the person behind the brand, and also let Google know the names behind your staff, your associates, and be sure to information architect your site more for Google than even your visitors.

Most visitors have very low expectation for corporate sites, believe me, but Google’s expectations are always high, especially if your one true dream is to make it, organically, to the top of Google search.

Your site isn’t social

See Your site doesn’t share and add to it whether or not you want people to engage you in other ways, such as web-to-voice, web-to-phone, or real-time live chat. Consider adding a blog to your site and opening up comments — and respond to them, too. Finally, do you have an RSS feed? Maybe you should, especially if you update your site regularly or maintain a corporate blog.

Your site is too shallow

You can make your site suck by embedding all your words and navigation into photos and graphic files. Or in a giant Flash blob. However, that’s not the only way.

You can also ruin your site by making it too shallow by emulating the iOS or Android interface too well. Or the website. Apple will always be a destination. Apple is a Global Brand, beloved, and also spends billions of dollars on ads, commercials, stores, promotions, and product placements.

We, the other half, need to use asynchronous guerilla tactics. On the web, you need function over form. Like minimalism, it takes a lot of money to do it right. Minimalism isn’t just an empty room. Well, maybe you are more visual than textual. Maybe you’re an artist or designer.

Well, I was a photographer, and guess what Corbis and Pacific Stock, my stock photo agencies, made me do: they made me label, describe, keyword, tag, categorize, and oftentimes things like “vertical” or “horizontal, “dominant blue” or “dominant yellow.”

I couldn’t just take the photos and throw them at my photo editors in New York and expect to get my royalty check. I was the only person who knew where I was when I took the photos as well as what photos I took were of and when. See what I mean?

Your site is invisible

Your site is a blob of Flash, your site is a series of images, your site, for some reason, is blocked from being indexed by a bunch of robots.txt, you have recursive code that confuses visitors and prevents indexing, your caching strategy is broken and you need to purge or refresh the cache.

Your site is overwhelmed from visitors or robots or a denial of service attack, or maybe you’ve forgotten to pay your hosting, your domain name registration fee, of maybe your Internet is broken and you need to reboot your wireless router or call Comcast.

Your site is fugly

Don’t worry, like I said before, function over form. However, if you’re a designer, you’re going to have to step it up at some point; however, in the world of banking, finance, business, tech, IT, and Craigslist — the ugliest and most functional site ever.

Your site is boring

Ask someone else. Boring people never know how boring they are. I hope nobody reveals how boring I am to me.

Your site is elusive

Unless you’re already rich and you’re just showing off, be sure to learn some very basic user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) usability information. If you want to steal, steal from

And, if you’re smart, you’ll probably want to make sure that all your most important content is conveyed “above the fold” — what’s that, man?

Come on, you know! Take a properly-printed newspaper, keep it folded in half, and then think about that half as your browser (and assume your browser isn’t a big screen, flat screen, monitor, but a 12.1″-14″ screen on a laptop).

Then, be sure that everything you need to convey is in that window and doesn’t require any (or not too much) scrolling.

Your site is pop-uppy

OK, I know that you really want your visitors to sign up for your newsletter and Like you on Facebook, but most people really hate that popup that manifests when they’re rushing to check your address before coming to meet you.

Unless you’re Brian Solis or Chris Brogan and already superstars, you’re just pissing people off. Well, maybe just me.

OK, that last one was a little self-indulgent but hopefully the rest of them will be useful for you. No matter how social media-centric I am, no matter how I would love everyone to live in the (social media) space in-between, we all know — or should — that your website is where you want everyone to end up.

You want both people you know, people you have yet to meet, and people who bump into you randomly when they’re surfing across the socialsphere to have a very useful, comprehensive, easy-to-navigate destination for all of that and that could be your website or your blog, but somewhere you control.

Who owns your content on the social networks? Not you!

Remember, at the end of the day that you don’t own your content on any of the social networks — not really. If you can, you need to start spending some of all that time you lavish on other people’s sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, et al.) on your own.

And, if you start tracking all the money you’re spending on all the staff and support and tweeters and Facebookers and AdWords and Facebook and Twitter ads and reconsider your website. Reconsider what you can spend, what you can afford, rather than just what you want to spend or think you should be spending.

You’re nobody’s fool. I promise you that the moment you underpaid for your website the last time you really did get what you paid for — admit it to yourself!

And, don’t feel bad, either, OK? When you spent your big money and produced your decade old website ten years ago your website was something pretty nice to have but it wasn’t really something anyone needed. It wasn’t essential services. It couldn’t replace the brick and mortar; it couldn’t change the office dynamic.

Your website was like your boat rather than your car, your minivan, or your home. But not anymore.

In 2014, your website is everything.

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Should you hire a social media community manager? Tue, 14 Jan 2014 13:02:17 +0000 Continue reading ]]> community-manager

Think about who can convey your tempo to the world

Target audience: Business execs and managers, community managers, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, Web publishers.

Chris AbrahamHiring someone to both speak and respond as you on social media is not cheating. Think of it as delegation: you can’t be everywhere, all the time. There’s just one you and there are upwards of 1.4 billion people who, at any moment, could engage you, your brand, company, product, or service — brands, companies, products, and services. Your slice of that humongous pie is surely fewer than the global membership of Facebook; however, even if your portion is modest, are you committed to not only producing content for online consumption (broadcasting) but listening, responding, and engaging, too?

We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary of Facebook this February 4 and we’re still arguing about online authenticity. There’s still a core group of social media consultants who consider outsourcing your most personal social media properties as being somehow inauthentic. Sort of like cheating.

According to, back in 2012 President Obama had “181 actors, musicians, authors, athletes, mayors, Congress members, and more that fit any and all demographic groups in the president’s target zone,” all stumping on his behalf, all over TV, radio, events, gatherings, fundraisers, and even small special gatherings in target cities.

Surrogacy has been part of public affairs and publicity since the beginning of civilization. Delegations represent the will of their home town, city, state, or country. Embassies and ambassadors reside in-country as a literal remote sovereign nations abroad, representing their home offices. Ministers are sent as officiants of their government with true power to make decisions and policy as well as to enforce decisions.

The idea of deputizing someone else to act on your behalf in an official capacity is a time-honored tradition. Why then, is it so controversial in social media? Maybe it’s as simple as stating, in the Twitter bio, “from the office of…” instead of suggesting that all the words hereby tweeted are his or her own.

Whoever you choose ultimately represents your brand

Even so, whether they’re your words or they’re an interpretation of who you are, what you believe, what your do, and how you think by someone who knows and works with you, they are still representative of your brand. Be it ghost-written autobiographies, the answering of fan mail, the mass-production of autographed photos or signed letters, the taking of dictation, support staff has always made things happen as authentically as possible without burdening the boss.

Unless you’re absolutely passionate about being engaged in social media, have everything else in your life delegated, have plenty of time, consider social media engagement to be essential and real, and are committed to keeping up the same level of engagement and commitment from now and forever, you really need to retain (and delegate to) an experienced community manager.

And, depending on how much time, interest, experience, patience, and passion you have, you’ll either use your social media community manager as someone who can simply add volume, coverage, and responsiveness to your already-engaged but spotty online engagement or they can take over your social media completely, managing your brand, your products, your online reputation, and even your own personal profile.

And both are permissible in a modern world. Honestly, all of the best community managers love what they do. In fact, most of them are blissed out that they get to make a pretty good living “ghost-writing” an ever-revealing narrative — of the business, of the brand, of the daily lives of the personae — into the online world, be it 140 characters at a time on Twitter, through photos and story of Facebook or Google+, in video on YouTube, or audibly on SoundCloud.

Make sure your spokesperson has real access

The thing that allows all of this to work is integration. In all the above cases, the ghost writer, the letter-writer, the secretary, and the publicist all have had ready access to the boss, to the talent, to the brand.

How long does your community manager need to know you or your company before he or she is able to speak in your voice? Let me ask you another question, how long do you require your PR agency, your publicist, or any of your other staff work for you before you allow them to do work that benefits you and offers you value for value? How much time before you release your new staff members from double-secret work quarantine? Probably almost immediately, right? Because you only hire professionals who have years of experience and who know how to do the work. The same thing goes for hiring social media community managers.

A community manager makes certain that personal appearances are posted, RSVPs are collection, sound bites collected, photos posted, audio is uploaded, video is edited and more

And the end goal is not deceit. The end goal is not a forgery. There is no need to misrepresent oneself at all. A successful social media community management campaign nails the spirit of the brand, of the person. Figuratively speaking, a community manager gets in front of their movie star or the author, puts a Sharpie in their hand, and stands over them until they sign everything they need to. A community manager makes certain that personal appearances are posted, RSVPs are collection, sound bites are collected, photos are taken and posted, audio is processed and uploaded, video is edited and set to YouTube, and that all Frequently Asked Questions are answered accurately, quickly, and with patience while still having the right to stovepipe any and all personal, important, and timely messages directly to the desk of.

And that’s what it comes down to: from the desk of, from the office of. For President Obama, coming from the Office of the President is as good coming from the president. In many ways, the Presidency is the original Twitter Account: the Chief of Staff always tweets in the name of the president. In many cases,Denis McDonough is the president for all intents and purposes. And so is press secretary Jay Carney. And, if you were at all associated with the Obama campaign in 2012, you would have been flooded by surrogates.

When you hire a social media community manager, you shouldn’t so much be attempting to dupe your friends, followers, colleagues, and associates. Rather, your social media managers should have your back in the same way your receptionist or secretary may have had 30 years ago. Your social media manager should act as your gate-keeper. In much the same way that any old person in the world could call your office and your receptionist would screen, triage, and prioritize your calls, your online community managers — your social media surrogate — should have the authority to effectively triage your social media calls as well as letting your friends, followers, and prospects when and where you’ll be, what your capable of, wether you’re available, and even what’s going on with you, but with all due discretion.

If you trust your social media managers, if you’ve built up a history and have a rapport, the level of messaging, listening, responding, and engaging that you’ll be able to consistently support through outsourcing your social media to one or more someone else should be proportionate to how much time and energy you’re willing to engage and message yourself. After that, you need to consider what your real audience is. For the president, his audience was both online and offline. His campaign needed to engage both a massive online universe as well as a mainstream mediaverse and an extensive kissing-babies meatspace.

How modest or extensive do you and your brand need to be? How many time zones do you need to cover? How many language, cultures, demographics? Is everyone online? Is there a way you can best work the online and offline engagement dynamically back and forth?

Even if your needs are modest doesn’t mean you can get away with cutting corners.

Even if you’re “just” a pizza joint covering a community of ten- or twenty-thousand potential customers, you’re still best served to hire an expert — in much the same way that you might well have hired pizza delivery boys instead of trying to manage, make, cook, sell, market, and deliver each and every pizza yourself.

Would that be more authentic? You that make the pizza more real?

6 tips for creating a bond with consumers via social media Thu, 09 Jan 2014 13:01:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]> smartphone
Image via Flickr by MDGovpics

Target audience: Businesses, digital marketers, brand managers, Web publishers, content creators, SEO specialists, PR pros.

Guest post by Teddy Hunt

teddy-huntWhile businesses should always be engaged in reaching out to new customers, it’s well known that it’s cheaper to keep the customers you have than to market and convert new ones. Social media offers your brand a terrific opportunity to build brand loyalty and improve customer satisfaction — that is, assuming you use it correctly. These six tips will help you develop an effective social media plan.

Respond quickly on your social media platforms

1Social media is about what’s happening now. This means that you need to acknowledge questions and comments on your Facebook page or Twitter feed right away. Even if you don’t have time to write a complete reply, let your customers know you’ve received and read their comments.

Be sure to follow through with a full response, or you’re likely to be judged as “unhelpful.” Your social media policy should be focused on building better customer relations through prompt and positive interactions with your followers.

Create and share quality content

Image via Flickr by Rutty

Image via Flickr by Rutty

2Social media is the place to build trust and create bridges between your company and your customers — it’s a long-sell process. Your social media posts should offer valuable, thought-provoking content that your followers enjoy reading and want to share. Are you involved in your community? Share photos of your company sponsoring a charity event.

Be a thought leader: Educate and entertain your followers. Social media is no place for a hard-sell approach.

Communicate actively and passively — and be consistent

3Social media communications are like face-to-face communications: There’s a time to talk, a time to listen and understand what your customers are saying, and a time to respond. Build content that encourages both types of communications: Ask questions and invite survey participation, then share your findings.

Consistency is also important in building trust on social media. Don’t bombard your followers with 15 posts one day and then go silent for a week. Develop a regular schedule for sharing content, asking questions and responding to your followers. The type of connectivity demanded to keep this sort of schedule, of course, requires a reliable Internet connection. If you’re currently shopping for a solid and dependable service provider, you can learn more here about the type of connectivity you’re seeking.

Use coupons and discount codes to reward followers

Image via Flickr by Bunches and Bits

Image via Flickr by Bunches and Bits

4It’s easy to track coupon codes used by your followers and this information can help you learn more about them and their behavior. Use different codes to use across various channels, and give partners unique codes to track that appeal to your followers.

Don’t forget to offer real incentives to customers who make the effort to interact with your company on social media.

Respect your followers

5Social media allows your business to invade the same space your customers and followers use for interacting personally with friends and families. When you’ve been invited into your customers’ personal space with a “follow,” show them that you appreciate the invitation. Don’t flood their timelines with promoted posts or boorish boasts. Again, quality content is key: Think of your social media presence as a way to have a friendly conversation with followers.

Use customer complaints to build customer relations

6Make it easy for your customers to complain by posting a contact name, email and phone number for complaints on all your social media profiles. Train your customer service team to respond immediately to every complaint — and to use the words “I’m sorry.” Empower them to resolve complaints, and make sure they follow through on the promises they make.

When your followers see you are concerned about service, that you take the time to communicate with them and resolve problems, they view you with trust. Remember, you can’t hide from negative comments and complaints on your social media sites, but you can use them as opportunities to improve your brand’s reputation. One loyal and satisfied customer is infinitely more valuable than 10 leads.

In today’s competitive online economy, your brand’s survival may depend on a robust — and value-added — social media presence. Consumers today are constantly connected to social media via cable, wi-fi, cellular and television networks, and engaging regularly with your followers is a great way to build brand loyalty.

Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology.
Google Authorship: Involve your staff in your brand Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:01:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Google-Authorship-Markup

Target audience: Brand managers, marketing and PR professionals, SEO specialists, business executives, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamEncourage your entire staff to link their Google+ profiles to your business site. All they need is access to an email address (such as on the same domain as your content — any content. According to the instructions, it’s not limited to journals, papers, blogs, magazine, or social sites. Your corporate site is just dandy. 

So, it seems to me that since one can now lend one’s Double-Secret Clout-Mojo to websites in order to help their performance on organic Google Search, why not really pile on by not merely hiring high-caste bloggers to guest blog and claim authorship on your site the way I recommended two weeks ago, but to get everyone who has an email on your domain to lend their own personal Google juice to your SEO strategy?


And it’ll work, too, because Google cobbles together its secret clout score based on how you use the entire family, including YouTube, Google+, Android devices, your Gmail, your corporate Google Apps for Business, any engagement with Google News and Google Analytics and other Google Apps, use of Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Google AdWords, Google AdSense and all the other little places, including Google Maps, Google Groups, and Google Play.

So, even the least likely to ever volunteer to blog or tweet on your company’s behalf staff member might very well be a Google Clout rockstar and never have written anything bloggish at all. Even the most anti-social, uncreative, and introverted staffers could be Google Clout rock stars just from their nightly obsession with cat videos on YouTube, their penchant for commenting, and the fact that they’re a Google Android super-duper-power user.

And this could be an easy-to-encourage, one time push. You just need to bring everyone together over an hour and just do it. Here’s what’s involved:

Linking content on a specific domain to your Google+ profile:

  • Encourage each staff member to sign up and fill out their Google+ profile as completely as possible
  • Make sure they have a real profile photo with a recognizable headshot uploaded to Google+
  • Verify that you have an email address on the same domain as your content.

Here’s a caveat: this will all work better if you can woo your staff members to actually produce content for your site with a real-name attribution and byline. Here’s what Google suggests:

  • Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, “By Steven Levy“).
  • Make sure your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.

Google wants to know the real you

What I’m doing here is sort of a hack. I’ve waited until the end to let you know that the Authorship program has been developed for authors, but when you look at your Google+ and Google Profile pages you’ll just see that Google wants to know as much about your organizational, social media, and business associations as possible. Using the Google Authorship program as a method of submitting and verifying your association with your company — and associating all your staff and employees to your company — could do nothing but good for the mojo of your domain and your Google results, I am speculating.

It’s all conjecture right now, although Google has historically rewarded all of us for committing more of who we are, what we do, where we go, where we work, with whom we hang, what we buy, where we live, what we write, read, watch, and how we comment as possible. It’s my experience that stitching your employees to your brand and your company as tightly as possible could only help the credibility and clout of your site, suggesting to the robots, bots, and algorithms that you’re kind of a big deal, thereby bubbling to the top of Google Search.

In a perfect world, I would do what Unison Agency is doing. Unison is getting each and every one of their team members to write for their blog, Insights. But it’s not for everyone. It’s admin time, not billed to clients.

So, you need to commit to supporting their creativity, offer editorial oversight, and allow them to let their mad skills shine from behind the shield of your brand. It takes courage to let your staff sign because everyone’s convinced that they’ll get poached. And, maybe your company is not set up to have its own little newsroom and newspaper.

However, either way, why not just start with getting everyone in your team piled onto the Google+ bandwagon — and your first step should be Google+ Authorship.


How to Make Google Authorship Work for Your Business (

Why Google Authorship matters to your business (

Google: Are authors replacing inbound links as the key to success in search? (

Twtrland: Find the top influencers in your sector Mon, 16 Sep 2013 12:01:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]> twtrland
Some of the social analytics firepower that Twtrland provides.

Tool puts 60,000 topic experts at your fingertips

Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, social enterprises, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaOne of the most common questions we’ve received at over the years is this: How do I find the influencers in my space?

It’s an important question — one that shows an awareness that the rules of digital marketing have changed. Today it’s less about blasting out your message and more about convening a conversation about your latest product, service or cause. But who do you invite into the conversation?

There are lots of new tricks up a digital marketer’s sleeve these days. Those just starting to get a handle on the influence landscape would do well by creating several Twitter lists. Make some of them public — who doesn’t like being called an expert in their field? — and some of them private, for your own eyes only. That way, you can follow hundreds or thousands of people and just ignore the firehose by focusing instead on the streams containing influencers’ tweets.

Being strategic beats being random, hands down.

Twtrland has managed to compile groupings of influencers in 60,000 topic areas, from sustainable agriculture to user experience, based on both machine and human intelligence

If you have even a modest budget, I suggest trying out some of the slick new social customer relationship platforms — such as Nimble, Zoho CRM, Sugar, Insightly, Avidian Prophet — which we wrote about in 5 top CRM tools for small business, alongside other favorites of ours like Sprout Social, Zuberance and SocialBro.

If you’re planning a serious marketing campaign, you may want to step up to a more advanced solution to find and engage with influencers in your space, such as Marketo, Lithium, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Social Toaster (which I wrote about here) or dozens of other choices. Social CRM platforms differ in their offerings, but they’ve matured to the point where they really offer a lot of value. (Please tell me you’re not just using an Excel spreadsheet!)

Whether or not you use one of these platforms to engage with your community, two relatively new tools have emerged to help make finding influencers a whole lot easier. One is Little Bird, still in beta, which I wrote about in May and still use.

The other, which I’ve become enamored with in recent weeks, is Twtrland, which bills itself as a social intelligence tool. More than 2 million people visit the site each month; it’s a Web platform, so no app yet.

Twtrland: Get insights, reach influencers, discover trends

Guy Avigdor

Guy Avigdor: “People use us for influencer marketing, to write blog posts, to generate sales leads, for community management — for any form of social media marketing.”

A few days ago Twtrland rolled out a new dashboard for businesses, which provides a new business emphasis on its offering. (Click “start free trial” to check it out for free for seven days.)

Guy Avigdor, co-founder and vice president of business development at Twtrland, gave me a run-through of the service. Twtrland has always billed itself as “a simple way to get insights about your social presence, reach influencers and discover market trends,” but its new features make it even more business-friendly.

Debuting in April 2011 and headquartered in Haifa, Israel, with an office opening soon in New York, Twtrland’s eight-person team has managed to compile groupings of influencers in 60,000 topic areas, from sustainable agriculture to user experience to almost anything you can think of. Through a combination of machine intelligence and human indexing, they identify influencers not based on, say, the description in their Twitter profiles but based on the content they actually produce.

What Twtrland offers, in a word, is context for your Twitter routine, giving you data about which Twitter users are most worth following. As I always advise in my social media webinars, you need to find your top influences and schmooze them up!

Who uses Twtrland? “People use us for influencer marketing, to write blog posts, to generate sales leads, for community management — for any form of social media marketing,” Avigdor said.

The basic service is free, with Pro accounts generally running from $20 to $100 a month, though the company does a subpar job displaying pricing options. Take the free seven-day test drive and decide what’s right for you.

A rich trove of social analytics

Here’s how Twtrland works. You sign in via your Twitter or Instagram credentials and register with your name and email, or just use Twtrland anonymously to conduct a search.

Twtrland can show you at a glance how often you’re retweeted, how conversational you are, how often you share others’ tweets, the demographic makeup of your followers and much more

Naturally, you’ll want to see how Twtrland sizes up your own Twitter account, right? (Go ahead, I’ll wait!) Plunk your Twitter handle into the big, fat search field and a few seconds later you should see a snapshot of your Twitter activity (you can see my Twtrland profile at top), displaying:

• The number of tweets per day you average

• The number of times you are retweeted for every 100 tweets you post (Avigdor said 62 is “way above average,” though Twtrland should provide a benchmark so you can compare it to a typical user — context, you know?)

• The number of replies you post per 100 tweets (an important stat — if the number is below 5, it means you’re using Twitter as a broadcast medium and not for conversation)

Twtrland also shows you your followers’ gender gap (for me it’s 54% women), their location (76% from the U.S. — you can also get more granular, with 27% of U.S. followers from California, 18% from New York and so on) and how many people you’ve talked with recently (wassup, Lil B From The Pack!).

At the top right is a pie chart with a color-coded breakdown of your tweets: retweets that you posted (in my case, 28% — again, you shouldn’t make Twitter all about you, so RT generously), replies (aka conversations, 26.7%), links (tweets containing a link, 30%), mentions (7.8%) and plain tweets (6.3%). How does your breakdown compare?

sloane davidson

You can see at a glance how chatty someone is: Chris Brogan, for instance, tweets an average of 51 times day while Tesla Motors tweets once a day. And you can get even more granular. Want to know how many top Twitter users from Germany follow you or how many 20- to 40-year-old celebrities follow you? Twtrland gives you a way to parse the data.

Further down the profile page you’ll find “Famous words,” some of the top tweets from the account over the years, Followers Analysis, a breakdown of your followers’ demographics (marketing, social media and business top my hit parade), Business Insights, photos and videos shared, endorsements and more. And this is cool: A section showing which brands the person interacted with (see the Sloane Davidson example above).

Keep in mind, you can do the same search on any Twitter user’s handle — including brands, small businesses, celebrities, nonprofits, friends. And you can also conduct searches by location, which comes in useful for small businesses, geolocation-specific start-ups or brands with a campaign in a specific region of the country.

How to home in on the top power users

Influencers who are entrepreneurs in California.

Influencers who are entrepreneurs in California.

But the most impressive feature of Twtrland is its ability to bubble up influencers, or “power users,” as they put it, in a particular niche. Marketers have long understood the power of identifying audience segments, and Twtrland offers some top-flight social analytics. Check out the data in some of these searches to get a better sense of Twtrland’s capabilities:

Influencers who are California entrepreneurs (see at 100% resolution)

Women 20-40 from NYC

Marketers from Florida

Fashion Influencers 

• Bloggers from the UK

One of the most interesting slices of data is the list of Top Followers for each profile that appears in the left sidebar.

Prepare to spend some time with Twtrland, because it takes some practice to master all of the power under the hood. Looking for influential people in travel such as journalists, bloggers, writers or editors? Avigdor suggests the following options:

• Use the twtrland search (NOT the tracker) to search for: Most influential people in Travel, Travel Writing, Traveling, etc., OR

• Use the tracker to track mentions of keywords you think people that are relevant would mention. such as #Travel, #TBEX, Italy vacation, etc.

• For a simpler search, you could use traditional boolean search terms — “travel writer” OR “travel journalist” OR “travel blogger.” For a deeper dive, see the site’s search instructions.

Summary: One of the best social discovery tools on the market

For whatever reason, Twitter still limits you to creating no more than 20 lists. As someone who maintains both private and public lists in varied sectors — startup entrepreneurship, social marketing, nonprofits, journalism and other big, fat verticals — I find this limitation absurd, pointless and frustrating. But with Twtrland, you can create as many lists as you’d like. You can, for instance, create a list of power users who follow Robert Scoble on Twitter. Or identify the top influencers who follow a brand like Nike or Coke.

In addition to creating umpteen lists, you can also create private comments or notes about a person so you can refer back to it later. And while the service is not a full social CRM tool — it doesn’t show you a history of your interactions with a customer — Twtrland is integrated with both HootSuite and Nimble, so you can now use all three to good effect (as I do).

Twtrland is not a one-trick pony, despite the name (for the record, they lowercase it as twtrland). Today you can search out influencers on Twitter and Instagram, but in a few months they expect to add Facebook and the experts’ Q&A sites Quora and Stack Overflow, Avigdor said. Also coming soon: dashboards for brands.

The service isn’t perfect: It’s not crystal clear when you’re better served by using the Tracker instead of Search. The demarcation on searching on your Twitter followers vs. everyone on Twitter isn’t clear. You can’t copy and paste many of the fields. I wish I could see at a glance which of the top influencers following me I wasn’t following back, or which of the top influencers in a sector I was already following. There are a few technical hiccups: “Add Top-50 to List” buttons didn’t work for me in Firefox or Chrome. And the data is sometimes incomplete: Where’s Jason Calacanis or Kara Swisher or Om Malik in the list of California entrepreneur influencers?

And, most importantly, why are Joan Rivers and Ann Curry on the list of women ages 20 to 39 from NYC?

But it’s getting better all the time. All in all, Twtrland is perhaps the most affordable social intelligence tool you can add to your arsenal. And shouldn’t you be increasing your social IQ?


Top 5 CRM platforms for small business (

Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business (

• Little Bird: A game changer for tracking influencers (

SocialToaster: Super fans unite on behalf of brands (

]]> 1
Top social travel sites at TechCrunch Disrupt Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:01:44 +0000 Continue reading ]]> TripTease
A taste of the Triptease site for crowdsourced reviews.

Triptease, OutTrippin, Diveboard ply the new waters of community-powered trips

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, travel companies, social startup managers, digital marketers, advertising agencies, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaOne of the most interesting trends in social media in the past few years has been the rise of social travel sites and apps. The newest of this new breed is on display at TechCrunch Disrupt, ending today in San Francisco.

I’ve attended every TechCrunch conference from the beginning, and rather than write about the entire event, I tend to focus on a handful of startups that catch my eye.

Today, it’s social travel sites taking part in the Startup Battlefield. Tomorrow, it’s photos of tech titans, startup entrepreneurs, industry thought leaders, angel investors and attendees.

Triptease: Visually rich, people-powered travel reviews

Triptease: Community-powered reviews that cover the best of travel.

Triptease: Community-powered reviews that cover the best of travel.

I first met Triptease founder Charlie Osmond at last spring’s Launch Festival and immediately felt lured in the aesthetics of his startup and new site, which has a high-gloss magazine feel to it. You can almost smell the perfume.

“Travel reviews are broken,” with little innovation happening in online review sites over the past 12 years, says Charlie, a former UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year. “Our reviewers cover the best of travel — not just the five-star hotels but quirky trips and fun things to do along with the higher-end travel destinations.”

At the very beginning, the focus was on short reviews of amazing hotel stays, and that still seems the clearest path to profitability. In recent months the scope has felt a bit broader, with a look at the Surajkund Crafts Mela near Delhi, India, the Mount Panorama Bathurst Motor Racing Circuit in Australia and other adventurous, sometimes exotic locales. The reviews are short and to the point — sometimes only a paragraph of text accompanying the eye candy roll of images, provided by the reviewer, the hotel or another source.

Community is at the heart of Triptease. About 100,000 users visit the site (or visit via the tablet app) each month, and people have contributed 10,000 reviews, all for free and all through word of mouth. The point, as in much of social media, is to showcase one’s expertise and good taste (if you want to sock it to a fleabag hotel you stayed at, look elsewhere). And besides, Charlie points out, “if you pay someone to write, you’ll get biased entries.”

Triptease will make money chiefly through partnerships and affiliate fees from hotels, and hotels have begun promoting Triptease to their guests. The community is growing at a robust clip. And now I need to decide which of the venues I visit deserve a writeup in Triptease.

OutTrippin: Pick a travel expert, not a guidebook


I like the premise behind community-powered OutTrippin: Enter where, when and what sort of trip you have in mind. Let OutTrippin go to work, with top-tier bloggers and travel writers pitching you suggestions based on the info you entered and based on their own experiences and knowledge. Then choose your favorite trip and receive a detailed itinerary with hotel and tour recommendations, insider tips, “local hacks” & ideas that only a fellow traveler would know.

There are probably a dozen startups focused on tapping into locals’ knowledge, but OutTrippin is focused on experienced travelers’ knowledge, and it seems to do it well, at least on a small scale.

The expert gets a piece of the action, and the startup gets a piece. Still, at this point, it amounts to just a micro-payment. (I didn’t want to test it out because I don’t have any upcoming trips and don’t want contributors spinning their wheels. But I will in a few months.)

CEO/Founder Kunal Kalro and his team have big ambitions for the brand, with a nascent series of brands — OutTrippin HoneymoonsOutTrippin World Cup 2014OutTrippin Family Travel and OutTrippin Experiences — already live.

The challenge, of course, is to get to scale by creating a thriving marketplace. Are there really enough bloggers and underemployed travel writers out there to power a service like OutTrippin? Maybe, if great brands like Lonely Planet continue to shed employees and slide toward marginalization.

Locish: Travel like you live there


Perhaps the holy grail of location-based travel apps is the ability to get personal, real-time, location-based recommendations from local experts. A raft of startups — including America’s Gogobot, TouristEye and AFAR, Australia’s BagsUp, Estonia’s Like a Local Guide and others I wrote about recently — is taking dead aim at the market opportunity.

Count Athens-based Locish as a contender, too.

Here’s how it works. Download the app. Register and answer a few quick questions about your taste and preferences. Ask for a recommendation about what to do in a particular city or location. Your question gets sent out to a network of participating online locals “who have a similar lifestyle and taste.” Check out the recommendations, select the one that looks best and get a set of recommendations, including venue, location, contact information and photos.

Tripsidea: Pack in more enjoyment during your next trip


Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan

Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan

Tripsidea offers a simple proposition: How can you be more productive with your fun during your vacations?

They don’t quite phrase it like that, but co-founder Sunil Ayyappan showed me how the site maximizes your free time. Screen one showed a series of random activities that a traveler or family might spend a typical week in the city. But answering a few questions about preferred attractions, things to do, places to eat and things to see, press a button, and behold! Tripsidea will reorder your itinerary so that it makes much more sense, with activities grouped in continguous areas. It then lets you review your itinerary and print out an itinerary of all your destinations, making for a more memorable trip.

As the site suggests, “Focus on enjoying your vacation and let us do the planning for you.”

Sounds good to me. Why not squeeze more fun out of your next trip?

Diveboard: The social network for scuba divers


I love passionate communities that bond over common interests. And while I’m not a scuba diver (I snorkel, though), I’m impressed with the social community that Diveboard has pulled together.

Open since April 2011, Diveboard lets scuba divers track and share their scuba diving experiences by providing them with a multimedia online logbook — chiefly a pretty series of photo albums. You can fetch dive profiles through a plug-in. Through partnerships with non-governmental organizations and universities, Diveboard helps scuba divers get involved in monitoring the undersea world and provide valuable data to scientists.

But the real value to scuba diving enthusiasts comes from its extensive database of diving spots, helping divers spot alluring species and enabling them to plan for their next dive. The service is free and will be supported through affiliation fees, mostly from dive shop operators.

Flights With Friends: Collaborating with friends on trip choices

flights with friends

Oakland, Calif.-based Flight with Friends helps you find and book flights — with a little help from your friends. If you’re traveling with a group of co-workers, family members or friends, agreeing on optimal choices becomes an ordeal when you’re not in the same room, says founder Kyle Killion.

It works like this: Select the friends or colleagues you’ll be traveling with, then select where you are going and when. The site — no smartphone app yet — searches more than 150 sites for airfare and hotel information, pointing to the lowest prices. Once your group comes to a consensus through the site, booking is just a click away. Selecting seats together looks like a fun task because you can see where everyone wants to sit and you can book together.

Spotsetter: An online social search portal


San Francisco-based Spotsetter lets you get personalized recommendations on the best places to go, ranging from weekend brunches to spots for your evening jog to special restaurants. A social search engine for Apple’s iOS devices, Spotsetter mines the big data of your social networks to obtain relevant recommendations based on the content that your friends have created on popular social networks. Definitely worth a look.

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