You Need to Go on a Digital Diet

Heading into last November, with 5,000+ emails in my inbox, and lots of projects in my queue (as a result of a successful year and great prospects for a banner year in 2012) I decided to go on a ‘Digital Diet.’ I’m happy to report that I’m still living and breathing and more successful and happy than I was last fall.

Taking a 30,000 feet look (digital media intervention) at all of the media channels I was engaged in such as my client work, objectives and goals (professional, personal and my happiness index), I started to purge a ton of digital media from my diet that was making me ill, constipated, lethargic, chubby and slow.

I worked hard to ‘detox my inbox’ by purging select eNewsletters, and various marketing blogs from my diet as well as some people I followed (at least tried to)  on Twitter because I found there to be too much noise on my channel and I was missing out on some real good stuff. Yes, I ‘fired’ some Twitter folks I was following who were following me – a little tough love was needed. There are several more digital things I stopped gorging myself with and one big thing I dropped was Blog posting to my own BrandMill site and decided to simply ‘listen and observe’ for a few months.

Silly me. I thought the clever term “Digital Diet” was all mine for awhile until I discovered – as I often do – that I’m not all that smart and that there already was an excellent book on how to take a Digital Diet by Daniel Sieberg which will help you – it sure has helped me.

Read the book – it’s a  good one that offers a 4-step plan to break your digital addiction and give you more balance in your life.

I feel a lot lighter now and am much more happy.

And, while I’m happily back to Blogging (it helps attract new business), I plan to schedule a quarterly Digital Diet and complete Digital Fasts from time to time to keep my head and my pipes clean.

Try it you’ll like it!

P.S.: Have a little fun and compute your Virtual Weight Index (VMI) by clicking here.

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100 Social Media Marketing Listening Tools

My father told me many times when I was young that God game me two ears and one mouth for a reason…to listen! In my early days in marketing, while doing marketing research, I came across a great quote from Frederick the Great, “I can excuse being defeated but never being surprised.” And, I agree with him too. For, in this day and age of the Internet and social media there is so much free and easy information at your fingertips that it’s inexcusable for being surprised much less shocked about anything.

However the tough thing with information for me and so many others these days is organizing it into actionable data.

Here is a list of more than 100 listening and learning tools we’ve organized for our firm and use for reference. So much these days is made about content creation and publishing in social media – which I agree with – however, not enough effort is made about tools to speed up your research efforts with brand listening and competitive intelligence tools.

I hope this post helps you become a better marketer and feel free to use and add to the list because it’s certainly not exhaustive. And, remember one final quote:

When you take information from one competitor it’s called stealing.
When you take information from more than two competitors it’s called research.
Anonymous

Here’s our list of 100 Social Media Listening and Learning Tools

  1. 123People. 123people searches for people related information publicly available on the Internet. Through its proprietary search algorithm, 123People helps you tfind name related information consisting of images, videos, phone numbers, email addresses, social networking and Wikipedia profiles and more for free.
  2. 48ers. This free search engine searches conversations through different social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and more to uncover what people are saying about topics and brands.
  3. Addictomatic. Addictomatic searches the best LIVE sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images. Keeping up with the hottest topics.
  4. Alltop. Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop is the “online magazine rack” of the web. We love it.
  5. Alterian SM2. A business intelligence product that allows you to access customer thoughts and opinions. You can find data from social media channels to monitor your brand on blogs, message boards/forums, microblogs, wikis, video/photosharing, social networks, classified sites, and review sites.
  6. Backtype. Helps brands measure their social engagement.
  7. Bing. A free web search engine from Microsoft that finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions.
  8. Blog Perfume. Provides WordPress users both free and paid for resources including all the useful WordPress themes, plugins, and blogging resources for pro-bloggers.
  9. BlogPulse. Free search engine for Blogs that also discovers trends on daily activity in the blogosphere
  10. BoardReader. Free search engine that allows users to search for keywords in posts and titles of online forums and search multiple message boards simultaneously.
  11. BoardTracker. Forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system, provides relevant info quickly and efficiently while ensuring you never miss an important forum thread no matter where or when it is posted.
  12. Cision (CisionPoint). CisionPoint is a PR and media solutions, technologies and services offering powered by the world’s largest media database. With CisionPoint, you get the ability to plan your campaign, connect with your audience, monitor your coverage, and analyze your results, all from one place.
  13. coComment. coComment is a service for managing, powering and researching conversations online. You can keep track of your comments across any site, share them with friends, and get notified when you get a response
  14. Commentful. A service that watches comments/follow-ups on Blog posts, Digg submissions, Flickr pictures and other types of content. Whenever there is an update, such as a new follow-up or comment, Commentful notifies you instantly.
  15. Co.mments. Co.mments helps you stay on top of the conversation by keeping you updated of new comments. Just bookmark, track and follow.
  16. Comment Sniper. Comment Sniper automatically checks leading Blogs within your industry in real-time & notifies the moment a new post has been made. This allows you to get the first mover advantage on comment posting, for more targeted Website visitors and better link popularity.
  17. Compete Site ProfileTM. Provides Website traffic history and competitive analytics; a list of available promotional codes across thousands of online retailers; and site-specific trust scores based on up-to-the-minute data from Compete and third party security services.
  18. Compete Search AnalyticsTM. Paid for platform that uses tools that help optimize search marketing campaigns, create brand awareness, drive site traffic and increase sales.
  19. Compete Referral AnalyticsTM. Paid for platform that provides powerful traffic referral and destination data that you can use to drive online marketing effectiveness.
  20. Compete Ranked ListsTM. Paid for platform that provides lists of the most popular sites across the Internet, ranked by any metric available on Compete.com.
  21. Compete BlogTM. Free access platform highlighting how people are use the Internet and where interesting, useful sites can be found.
  22. Compete Category ProfileTM. Available exclusively to Compete PRO Enterprise customers, Compete Category Profiles combine the best data in the industry with powerful exploratory and research tools that enable you to discover, take action, and measure marketing performance across the online landscape.
  23. Copernic Tracker. Copernic Tracker automatically looks for new content on Web pages, as often as you like. When a change is detected, its Website tracking software can notify you by sending an email, including a copy of the Web page with the changes highlighted, or by displaying a desktop alert.
  24. Cotweet. CoTweet is a comprehensive Web-based social media engagement, management and reporting solution that helps companies of all sizes engage, track and analyze conversations about their brands across the most popular and influential social communities today, Twitter and Facebook.
  25. Crimson Hexigon. A social media monitoring and analysis service that helps uncover consumer opinions and insights about brands, products, industry, competitors and more.
  26. Crowdbooster. Provides online influence analytics that aren’t based on numbers connected to your business and your social media strategies: impressions, total reach, engagement, and more. Also includes tools and recommendations needed to take action and improve each one of these metrics.
  27. Delicious. Delicious is a Social Bookmarking service, which means you can save all your bookmarks online, share them with other people, and see what other people are bookmarking. It also means that you can see the most popular bookmarks being saved right now across many areas of interest. In addition, the search and tagging tools help you keep track of your entire bookmark collection.
  28. Delver. Delver is an intelligent social search engine that enables you to find, experience and benefit from the wealth of information created and referenced by your social world. The search engine allows you to discover and benefit from the collective wisdom of your friends, friends of friends, and people whose knowledge and value you admire. People around you are increasingly creating and sharing useful content online through: blogs, videos, reviews, articles, websites, music… and the list is only growing.
  29. Digg. Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Web. Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by its community. They provide tools for the community to discover content, discuss the topics that they’re passionate about, connect with like-minded people, and make new friends.
  30. Empire Avenue – The ‘Social Stock Market.” Empire Avenue is a social networking game that allows you to connect with individuals based on “value relationships”. It’s a great way to get your brand in front of new, engaged audiences and connect with relevant customers in a fun environment across 150+ countries.
  31. Facebook Search. A useful search tool for the Facebook social network powered by the Facebook Open Graph API and returns data that is publicly available. Users can search across posts, photos, people, pages, groups and events without the need to login or have a Facebook account.
  32. FeedCompare. A tool to compare the numbers of subscribers to a Blog with other Blogs. This feed comparison application lets you compare up to four feeds at a time and presents the results with a nice flash chart interface. You can also do comparisons based upon different periods of time. Free service for comparing Feedburner feed subscribers.
  33. Feedky. A tool that constantly scans popular video networks like YouTube, DailyMotion, Metacafe, Vpod, Google Video, Flickr, etc. looking for the new videos matching the tags you enter as interests.
  34. FourWhere. Helps you find comments, tips for venues left by Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp users. FourWhere automatically retrieves and aggregates user comments and visualizes them on the map.
  35. Google Alerts. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
  36. Google Blogsearch. Google Blogsearch a useful search tool that focuses specifically on finding and returning information from millions of feed-enabled Blogs.
  37. Google Insights. Compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.
  38. Google News. Google News is an automated news aggregator provided by Google Inc. The service covers news articles appearing within the past 30 days on various news Websites.
  39. Google Reader. Google Reader lets you subscribe to your favorite Websites so new content comes to you when it’s posted. Reader keeps track of which things you’ve read so that you only see unread items when you come back.
  40. Google Realtime Search. Abandoned recently – allowed users to get information from social networks, and most notably Twitter, as soon as it happened. Looks like it may re-appear with Google+.
  41. Google Trends. Compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most.
  42. Google Video (Advanced Search). Allows you to easily search for a video by narrowing down your selections through the specification of a language, duration length, date, quality, domain, etc.
  43. HootSuite. Hootsuite is a Website and online brand management service, which publishes to Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace, and WordPress. Also features custom analytics, team collaboration, and the ability to schedule messages in advance across all social media platforms.
  44. HowSociable. HowSociable provides a simple way for you to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social web.
  45. IceRocket. IceRocket is an Internet search engine which specializes in real-time search. The IceRocket site is a free resource for people looking to monitor their brand, it is ad supported.
  46. Keotag. Site that allows you to enter a subject and search various social media sites for what’s being said about that subject in real time.
  47. Klout. Klout compiles engagement and activity levels for brands in social media, and then assigns each user a Klout score on a scale from 1 to 100. Scoring available for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare.
  48. Looxii. Social Media tracking tool for small to medium businesses: Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, Forums, Identica and YouTube.
  49. MentionMap. A visualizer tool that lets you assess the most influential Twitter users in various sectors.
  50. Metacafe. The first and only entertainment destination solely dedicated to showcasing the best short-form videos from the world of Movies, Video Games, TV, Music and Sports – programmed for today’s young male Entertainment Drivers.
  51. MonitorThis. A search engine tool that allows you to search for new entries in 25 different search engines.
  52. Monitter. A real time search tool that helps you monitor a set of keywords on Twitter. You can narrow a search to a particular geographic location, allowing you to find out what’s going on in a particular part of the world. Let’s you monitor Twitter for keywords, phrases and topics being discussed online at a glance (We still prefer Hootsuite).
  53. MyTweeple. Checks out your Twitter account and analyzes who is following you back — a good way to monitor reciprocal relationships.
  54. Northern Light Search. Providing strategic research portals, business research content, and search technology to global enterprises since 1996.
  55. Omgili. A (Oh My God I Love It) forum search engine that lets you find communities, message boards, discussion threads about any topic.
  56. OpenBook. Lets you do a live-search of Facebook member status updates in real-time by searching people’s Facebook posts. The results are from public status updates where the Facebook member has their settings public.
  57. Page2RSS. A service that helps you monitor Websites that do not publish feeds. It will check Web pages for updates and deliver them to your favorite RSS reader.
  58. PeerIndex – Track you online influence with an array of influence metrics on your various social networks. Easily connect your profiles and pages and PeerIndex analyzes them for activity, audience, and authority. This is a great option to help you discover authorities and opinion makers around a particular topic.
  59. Plancast. Discover events your contacts plan to attend as well as other cool events coming up in your area through signing in via your Facebook or Twitter account.
  60. Pleegs. A free search engine that uses 16 other search engines to give you the most up-to-date information about anything you desire. Pleegs allows you to track a product, link, brand or name and gives you the option to receive new information by RSS, email, or directly on your blog with a widget.
  61. PostRank. A platform that tracks where and how users engage, and what they pay attention to — in real-time. PostRank gathers where and when stories generate comments, bookmarks, tweets, and other forms of interaction from a host of social hubs. Lets you uncover your influencers, identify which social networks give you the greatest traction and benchmark yourself against the competitors
  62. Pulse of the Tweeters. A service that uses data mining and sentiment analysis to mine millions of tweets and find the most influential people on Twitter around your cause or sector.
  63. Quantcast. A free direct audience measurement for all Website owners including traffic, demographics, business, lifestyle, interests and more. Audience targeting for buyers and sellers of digital media also available to reach millions of new prospects just like your best customers (Quantcast Lookalikes).
  64. Quarkbase. A tool that scours the Internet and pulls together a report for you about any Website.  Learn about the social popularity of a site, how often it’s getting bookmarked, who’s Twittering it, who’s Digging it and so on.
  65. Radian6. A complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web. Platforms start at $600.
  66. SamePoint. Enables clients to effectively integrate social media into their business processes.
  67. Scout Labs. A web-based application that finds ‘signals’ in the noise to help your team build better products and stronger customer relationships.
  68. Seesmic. A suite of social media management and collaboration tools that provide businesses and individuals with everything they need to build their brands online.
  69. Sideline. A Yahoo! service that lets you create and group custom queries by topics of interest.
  70. Sitemeter. A comprehensive real time website tracking and counter tools give you instant access to vital information and data about your site’s audience interests.
  71. SiteTrail. A comprehensive website analysis platform for breaking social media and technology news on the Web.
  72. SocialMention. Provides a picture of how terms get used, tracking strength (brand mentions), sentiment (positive/negative tweets), passion (percentage of people discussing your brand), and reach (range of influence).
  73. Socialoyster. A tool that lets you share your online social activities with friends. This site offers three features, the Oysterpass, the Social Search Engine, and the Oysterline, that let users showcase their activities and interests.
  74. Spy. Empowers users to listen in on any social media conversations of interest, without having to take part of it or showing that he is listening at all.
  75. Technorati. Technorati Authority measures a site’s standing & influence in the blogosphere.
  76. Touchgraph. Use this free Java app to explore the connections between related websites.
  77. Track. A little-known Twitter feature that lets you track keywords and have them sent directly to your mobile phone as soon as they’re posted.
  78. Trackur. Trackur allows you to monitor your reputation, your news mentions, your PR campaigns, your employees, or your competition.
  79. Trendpedia. A multi-lingual social media monitoring and research tool provides insights into what the world is saying about your brand.
  80. Trendrr. Digital and social media business intelligence platform.
  81. TruCast. A social intelligence software solution that transforms masses of unstructured social media.
  82. Twazzup A dashboard program that monitors Twitter and will let you know whenever your keywords are mentioned in a Tweet.
  83. Tweetbeep. An online reputation management device that keeps track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates.
  84. Tweetburner. Allows you to track statistics on the links you share with Tweetburner, like on Twitter and Friendfeed.
  85. Tweetdeck. Connects you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc., and allows you to customize your Twitter with columns, groups, saved searches and automatic updates.
  86. Twendz. A Twitter-mining Web app that uses the power of Twitter Search, highlighting conversations that lead trends, conversation topics and points of view.
  87. Twilert. Sends you emails when it sees keywords on Twitter that you specify.
  88. Twitter Advanced Search. Isolates Tweets about a targeted sector. Look for keywords, search by location, date or with other filters.
  89. Twitterfall. Helps you to keep up on conversations about an event, or an online chat, using hashtags. You can use its geolocation panel to see discussions in a geographic area.
  90. Twitter Grader. A free tool from HubSpot that allows you to check the power of your Twitter profile compared to millions of other users that have been graded.
  91. Twitter Search. Allows you to check what is being said on Twitter about your brand/business.
  92. Twitscoop. Lets you search and follow what’s buzzing on Twitter in real time.
  93. Twingly. A Blog search engine featuring a SPAM-free, faceted, social search for the global blogosphere.
  94. UsernameCheck. A simple service that will let you find out where your username is registered in an instant.
  95. Video Alerts. A service that allows you to get an email notification when new videos are uploaded to YouTube, on whatever topic you choose.
  96. Viral Heat. The first measurement platform that’s social. Subscribers share a collection of profiles and charts ranging from your favorite brands, products, or topics so you can glean important insights in real-time.
  97. WatchThatPage. Enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and the service will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you.
  98. Website Grader. Website Grader is a free SEO tool from HubSpot that measures the marketing effectiveness of a Website. It provides basic advice on how the Website can be improved from a marketing perspective.
  99. Wikipedia. A free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation providing community-edited information.
  100. WhosTalkin. A social media search tool that allows users to search for and join in on conversations surrounding the topics that they care about most.
  101. Yahoo! News. Yahoo! News is an Internet-based news aggregator provided by Yahoo! It features Top Stories, U.S. National, World, Business, Entertainment, Science, Health, Weather, Most Popular, News Photos, Op/Ed, and Local news.
  102. Yahoo Pipes. A powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Simple commands can be combined together to create output that meets your needs.
  103. Yotify. A free, personal Web scout service that enables you to track anything on the Internet, enlists your friends to help, and reports back only what you want to know.
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How to Build a Great Website for Less

That’s less time, money and aggravation.

Over 10 years ago, when I started to really delve into Website design it was nothing for even simple sites to easily cost five figures.  Not today.

WordPress is the Best For Us

I’m a huge WordPress fan and it’s hard to argue against its robust open source platform, ease of use and cost (free) for Website design. We “eat our own dog food” at BrandMill (so to speak) as our Website actually is a WordPress site.

I highly recommend WordPress to most all of our clients and for them to use a competent Web designer or firm (like BrandMill  – wink)  to create a custom-branded template (StudioPress is an excellent turn-key solution) and to train them to update the site themselves.

20 Free (or Inexpensive) Website Services

However, in my travels, conversations and research, I’ve come across a growing list of inexpensive and/or free Web services available these days that may make some sense for start-ups and SMBs such as:

  1. Big Cartel (eCommerce)
  2. Big Commerce (eCommerce)
  3. Drupal Gardens
  4. Empowerkit
  5. iMatrix
  6. Jigsy
  7. Posterous
  8. Powweb
  9. Shopify (eCommerce)
  10. SiteKreator
  11. SnapPages
  12. Squarespace
  13. Vendder (eCommerce)
  14. Vendio (eCommerce)
  15. Volusion (eCommerce)
  16. Webpop
  17. Weebly
  18. Wix
  19. Yola
  20. YP Website Solutions

I dig Posterous, Vendio and Shopify and I’m sure sme of the other Shop sites are worth exploring) however our initial research into most of the other vendors still look like vendor sites from 10 years ago.

We consult with a lot of SMBs and nearly all of them need a new web presence if they’ve dabbled with one of the above vendors because of the lack of SEO, customer support and much, much more. You get what you pay for in life and with Websites. And, no Website in the world will achieve its true sales potential without constant care driven by keyword rich content marketing, SEO and more.

For the past few years, we’ve been providing marketing consulting for SMB borrowers of our financial client that manages a redevelopment loan fund. Most of the businesses they lend to are ‘mom and pop’ firms and their marketing funds are tight to non-existent.

Certainly if these brands could not afford a Website, we’d recommend against doing so, however in our opinion they can’t afford not to have one.  In the most extreme cases, a social media presence (e.g., Facebook) could be the marketing beginning for them, but we’ve found WordPress to be a perfect solution – it has decent Shop plugins too.  Facebook is great, but it is a ‘closed garden’ meaning that you need to participate/join to benefit whereas, with a Website you’re open to the world. Again, you can’t afford NOT to have a Website.

5 SMB Website Building Steps

In short, here are the 5 steps we’ve repeatedly used to help build a cost effective Website presence for our SMBs:

  1. Start a Facebook page, create a content strategy, contribute, respond, listen and deliver value (apply strategy to Website too)
  2. Buy your own domain (register.com, godaddy.com, name.com etc. – and, just get a .com extension)
  3. Host your domain with a reputable, cost-effective hosting firm.  We like godaddy.com (search for a coupon code and use it) because it’s inexpensive, can scale with you, plays well with WordPress and has super customer care.  You can actually talk to LIVE people. What a concept.
  4. Hire someone to help you launch a WordPress Website (e.g., a smart college intern could help too). You want to own your site and control your own brand destiny. You’ll want to add themes, analytics (WordPress comes complete with back-end analytics, but add (for free) Google analytics code to your site). Consider Flickr to host photos/albums and back into your site social media plugins.
  5. Read/study/master/execute content strategy. OK, well you don’t necessarily have to master Web design and code, but you should strive to gain a healthy working knowledge of it. Start with the WordPress for Dummies book.  Learning this stuff is no different than learning about any investment you make.  You need to have expert help to some degree, but to maximize that help, you need to understand what you’re getting into and what to expect. Keep adding rich valuable content to your site on at least a weekly basis.  A Blog will help.

For my money these are the 5  steps to get a great Website up and running for little time and money.

I hope this essay helps you experience much good fortune. Good luck!

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3 Secrets to Achieving Social Media Success

If you want to be a successful, profitable brand via Social Media Marketing, first remember one thing above all – it’s not about the tools, so don’t be one!

The secrets to success in life and business are so basically simple (certainly putting them to practice requires focus, hard work ) that we get so caught up in tools, investments and processes that we lose sight of the easiest ways to get from Point A to Point B.

For example:

  • If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. Burn up more calories than you consume.
  • To find love in your life, first be a loving person. Give and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened etc.
  • If you want to be treated nice, follow the Golden Rule and on and on

Brands today get so caught up in the the “new new” tools of Social Media (Blogs, Twitter Facebook etc.,) that they lose sight of the true secrets of success. The reason I call them secrets is because most brands are unaware of them, avoid them or think they’ve already uncovered and accomplished them, but they’re not even close.

And, these secrets are not tasks you complete once and move on, rather they’re they’re three pillars of success that need to be strengthened every day through a brand’s daily actions.

Here are my three secrets to Social Media Success.

1. Build a Rock Solid Brand of Character and Integrity – Are you a stand up brand when no one is watching? Do you keep and deliver on your promises? Do you follow your ethical standards in tough times? Not easy to do, but certainly doable.

Check out Gallup Ethical Standards ranking of people in the various fields listed below. Take for example, “business people” – only 12% say they have very high/high standards. Don’t you think we can all work a bit harder on building our reputations than another Facebook Fan Page?

If/when you do, your customers and acquaintances in the Social Media world will be banging their Social Media Marketing drums, praising your name!

Gallup Ethical Standards 11.09

2. Deliver REMARKable Products and Services – Do you simply produce a product or service to get by or do you really “bring it and WOW people!” Are your standards and expectations higher than the norm? Do you sometimes hit them or blow them away all the time? Do you work hard to surprise and delight your team members and customers? Do you deliver a truly unique, meaningful and memorable experience?

When the REMARKable Susan Boyle performed awhile back on Britain’s Got Talent, her authentic, transparent and awesome talent delivered a a truly unique, unexpected (can you say, “WOW”) meaningful and memorable experience?

And, in a few hours/days, 100+ Million Youtube Views were achieved and she became a richer person and a household name.

The REMARKable Brand of Susan Boyle

3. Be a Servant Leader – Lead from Behind

Finally, brand leaders would do well to remember that the most successful ones long-term lead best by serving the needs of their people. In a servant leadership based brand, the leader’s role is one of a resource (people, capital etc.,) steward and encourages leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization’s values and integrity.

People (customers, vendors and employees) want to be aligned with brands they respect, value and admire and servant leadership driven brands deliver on every one.

10 Key Servant Leader Traits

If brands today would simply work hard to lead and improve their business in these three key ways, the social media world would take care of the rest and freely spread their good news and great stories using their Social Media Marketing tools!

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Making Your Internet Search Experience Easier

Making common repeatable things easy for people to do is great way to stand out from the crowd and make money too.

Internet search engine fatigue is a biggie for me – and for over 70% of you too – and AllMyFaves has been a godsend to me. It’s a simple virtual and visual directory that includes a list of top and most visited sites in major daily-used subject categories such as Blogs, Entertainment, Games, Kids Shopping, Travel and Weekly Favs, but the Home Page alone is awesome.

AllMyFaves is an interesting customer service model for a self help tool.  And, it’s a great model for those of us looking to drive revenue because making things easier for time starved people is a killer strategy and will always be a welcome one.

Are you easy to do business with? Are there ways to improve your processes to improve your “easiness?” Can you improve your messages (e.g., Web site) with more visuals and/ore better design? Is it easy to search your own Web site and find things?

Study AllMyFaves and I’m sure you’ll find a few ideas to apply to your business and improve your quality of internet search life at the very same time.

Check out the AllMyFaves story here.

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The Kids Are Alright Part II

In an earlier post, I reported that it was great to see the Gen Y kids driving the tremendous outpouring of financial support for Haiti relief via texting.

I’m happy to report that the American Red Cross “Text ‘Haiti’ to 90999” campaign has raised $24 million to date. See the DMNews story here.

Think about this campaign for a moment. It has achieved some amazing accomplishments – in a short period of time – since this devastating earthquake hit Haiti just last week on January 12th:

  • $24 million has been raised via $10 individual donations to help the Haitian people – 1/5th of the amount the American Red Cross has raised to date – breaking all records by a huge  margin.  Reference note: After Hurricane Katrina – a mere 4.5 years ago – the ARC only received $120,000 via texting – and Katrina occurred on American soil!
  • The ARC has built a valuable mobile text database for future marketing communications and financial appeal efforts
  • The ARC’s core donor base skews older and texting gave the Gen Y folks an easy, quick and convenient channel to offer their support (marketing lesson – treat different people differently)
  • The campaign execution of  the ARC and its mobile firm partner mGive was flawless – amazing too – considering the fact that they started to work on the texting campaign the evening of the earthquake
  • The viral goodwill spread of the “Text ‘HAITI’ to 90999” campaign in Social Media channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (100K tweets/retweets)

I’m far from being in the Gen Y segment, but I did text a donation to the ARC and will tell you that it was easy for me to participate. As important, I felt comfortable donating because of the supportive and reinforcing messages I saw on TV news and various high profile broadcasts such as the NFL playoffs and the Golden Globes.

Also, after texting the shortcode “HAITI” to 90999, I was asked me to respond “yes” to confirm my donation and then I received a nice comforting thank you too – nice touch.

This overwhelmingly positive experience led me to spread the ARC’s good word and to feel more comfortable using this channel in the future.

Strong brand promise, ease, convenience, simple message and trust are the hallmarks of success for the ARC’s texting campaign and they could be put to good use for your brand’s future success too.

Photo by CollectiveGood.

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The Kids Are Alright

If you think young people these days are inconsiderate, selfish, concerned with only themselves and wear their “pants on the ground“…think again.

Soon after the devastating Haiti earthquake hit, @RedCross tweeted: “You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in #haiti.”

Kudos to the Red Cross marketing folks for being prepared (excellent online disaster newsroom) and recognizing the fundraising opportunity available to them in this terrible time of crisis.

And, much more kudos to the kids that drove this “texting bus” because they’re the ones credited with leading this Red Cross effort which has raised over $10 million for the cause since this record breaking mobile fundraiser was launched last Tuesday.

This is a great example of using technology to build rather than destroy.

Watch text marketing grow from this effort and put in on your list of things to test for your business too!

P.S.: Here is a list of 8 ways you can help Haiti by texting:

  1. Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
  2. Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
  3. Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
  4. Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
  5. Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
  6. Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
  7. Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
  8. Text RELIEF to 30644 (to connect with Catholic Relief Services who will instruct you how to donate money with your credit card)

…the 9th way to help is to pray.

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Posterous is Stupendous

posterous-logoI first discovered Posterous through Steve Rubel (big fan) and recommend you try it on for size. Posterous is a new, dead simple, easy, sexy and free blogging platform. The “secret sauce” of Posterous is that it acts more like a Blog hub. Rather than trying to pull people back to your site, it allows you to easily deliver your unique content where your readers are living life. I’ve been doing a deep dive into Posterous for the past few months and among many things, I love its email-to-Blog feature and free style form – check it out!

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