Duquesne University’s Entrepreneurial Growth Conference

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 7.40.51 PMIf you’re an entrepreneurial led small/medium sized business you should be heading to Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center’s Entrepreneurial Growth Conference tomorrow, Thursday, June 5.

If you’re going, please connect with me.  As a sponsor, BrandMill will have a demo table and I’ll (Steve Wayhart) be moderating a lunch table discussion about, “How to Profitably Build Sales” and leading a discussion about “Shortcuts to Social Media” at 3:30 p.m.

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No Luck of the Irish Needed for Great Websites

Just in time for the annual ‘Season of St. Patrick’ that starts March 1 – and for the Great Guinness Toast that starts tonight at 11:00 p.m. at Irish Pubs throughout the world – we’re proud to report that our launch of a new Website for our good friends at Riley’s Pour House in Carnegie, PA is doing great!

In it’s first 2 ½ days of existence, the page views for Riley’s new Website outperformed the former proprietor’s Website performance for the entire year! Yes, you read that right!

What’s our secret? A little luck of the Irish maybe?

Maybe a little luck – we were lucky to land a great client that’s for sure.

However, far more credit goes to having a good solid brand to promote with good old fashioned hard work, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing integrations and excellent SEO writing inspired by a few pints of Guinness!

Yes my friends, Guinness is good for you!

Slainte!

P.S.: To help you along in March, here’s an old post about the 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day – enjoy!

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The Marketing Man Who Hates Advertising

The headline in this post comes from a comment that great client and friend of ours said about me a few years ago.

And, he’s repeated it to me on a few other occasions too.

He said, “As someone who’s been in marketing as long as you, why do you hate advertising so much?”

I answered – and continue to defend myself – that it’s not that I hate advertising, it’s just that I hate bad advertising that’s created to try extort people into believing in or buying unremarkable products and services.

It simply doesn’t work. And, it gives my profession a bad name.

Remember…if you put perfume on a pig…it’s still a pig!

The facts support my argument that there has been a crisis going on in mass media for years and most advertisers simply continue to do the same sad things over and over again.  That is, they spend too much money on TV advertising when they should invest those dollars in creating remarkable high-value products and services.

For example consider these facts*:

  • Only 14% of people trust advertising
  • Only 18% of television commercials achieve a positive return on investment
  • The average ROI is just 54 cents per every dollar spent on TV ads

Now, let’s talk about the biggest joke and general waste of advertising dollars – the Super Bowl.

Just another advertising effort that gives my profession a bad name.

I dread tomorrow listening to all of the so-called Advertising experts and pundits on the national news and talk shows discussing which ad was ‘cute and funny.”  Ugh!

For years, I’ve said that advertising on the Super Bowl is a waste of money. It still is a waste.

Back in 2008, E-Trade premiered commercials during Super Bowl XLII featuring a talking baby (the now infamous E-Trade Baby) in front of a Webcam pontificating about investing and finance in an adult voice. The campaign continued into the Super Bowl XLIII piling on with communications on other channels such Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

And, it continues to this day. Why?

It has to be because it’s ‘cute and funny‘ because it hasn’t done anything to build sales and/or turn around its stock price.

For proof, check out this screen capture I took last night comparing the Dow Jones average (blue)  vs. Schwab (green) and E-Trade (red).  Still laughing?

Now back in 2008, I predicted that the E-Trade baby would rock in advertising recall and likeability and I was proven right. The 2008 E-Trade baby Super Bowl ad campaign earned high marks of 7th most liked, 3rd and 8th most recalled.

However, after the premiere of the E-Trade Baby campaign, I cautioned clients that now that the seed is planted, the E-Trade brand needs to ‘show and tell’ how it has helped real people more effectively perform with personal investing.  They would need to show proof! And, to this day I say, “Where’s the proof?”

There is none and that’s one big reason why their stock is performing poorly vs. other averages. The E-Trade marketing folks must be getting away with this charade by saying, “But, look at our Ad recall numbers! Look at how many golfers know the word ‘shankapotomus.‘ 

To that rationale, I say, “Who cares!”

We do a ton of hospitality work. And, I bet you that we’d drive huge recall numbers by putting a dead body in the front window of any one of our restaurants with a banner stating, “People are dying to dine here!” I’d also bet that sales would rapidly fall.

There’s an old saying that, ‘The only person who likes change is a wet baby.’

I agree and also agree that the E-Trade campaign (and possibly product/service too) needs to be changed if it ever hopes to have happy investors.

Enjoy the game and make efficient use of your day today by getting a something to eat or drink or go to the bathroom during the commercial breaks.

*Source: Justin Kirby & Paul Marsden (2006).  Connected marketing.  Oxford, UK:  Butterworth-Heinemann. xix

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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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Target’s Super Black Friday Ad Campaign

Kudos to Target and its Ad Agency Weiden + Kennedy for their spot on Black Friday advertising campaign featuring this overly excited and anxious shopping FANatic.

And, file this effort in my “Darn I Wish I Did This Ad Campaign” folder.

Target is using 5 spots from last year (why not – who says an old great campaign can’t be re-engaged?) combined with another 30 online.  And, he talent casting, honest copy, imagery, sound and smart campaign integration (see all 35 videos) off and online is simply brilliant and off the charts.

It’s a great example of how ad campaigns should be run. Read Adweek’s take on it here.

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BrandMill Helps 86 Breast Cancer

For nearly 10 years, we’ve been a supporter of the American Cancer Society and its mission of celebrating more birthdays throughout western Pennsylvania. We’ve participated as a Board Member, Marketing Committee Chairperson and general volunteer.

However, this year is shaping up to be one of our more meaningful, gratifying and fun years as we’ve helped the Pittsburgh Region (New East Central Region) more effectively promote its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event.

The NFL and locally the Pittsburgh Steelers are huge ‘Strides’ supporters. And a year ago, we proposed the idea of using popular (and future NFL Hall of Famer – if we had a vote) Steelers Hines Ward as an event spokesperson asking people to help, “86 Breast Cancer!” Note: The number 86 is Hines’ number. FYI – to “86 something” means to get rid of or eliminate.

Well, this year the Steelers and Hines agreed and helped the ACS air a unique Public Service announcement with Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate WPXI-TV and news anchor Peggy Finnegan (a breast cancer survivor) to “86 Breast Cancer” which is what number 86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is striving to do – and encouraging Pittsburghers to do!

Note: Hines and Peggy are joined in this first picture with American Cancer Society Regional Vice President Glenn Callihan.

Over and above the ’86 Breast Cancer” idea, we’ve supported the ACS brand as its Facebook marketing coach, initiated a sponsor meeting with the local Chevrolet Dealer Marketing Group of Pittsburgh (who raised nearly 15% of the total donations to date) and set up a television interview on Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA-TV s Pittsburgh Today LIVE show.

Tim Colussy, Corina Diehl, Glenn Callihan, Kristine Sorensen

We’re always excited to work alongside brands to help them maximize all of the storytelling opportunities they have available to them and show them the way so they can even do it more effectively themselves. And, they are!

And as a result, I’m happy to report that the American Cancer Society’s 2nd annual Pittsburgh Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk held on October 29, 2011 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore (just outside of Heinz Field) involved more than 3,000 walkers and helped raise nearly $300,000 – nearly twice the amount raised in 2010.

Participants included teams from Western Pennsylvania corporations, businesses and organizations that formed Making Strides teams, as well as participation from individuals, including breast cancer survivors, family members and friends.

Of course, the fight is not over yet! Donations will continue to be accepted in order to help the American Cancer Society reach their fundraising goal. Donations can still be made online at cancer.org/stridesonline or by calling 1.888.227.5445.

Proceeds from Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s life-saving breast cancer research, education, advocacy, patient services, and community partnership grants for women in Pittsburgh.

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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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Social Media is a Must for SMB Marketers

I stumbled across this article that proclaimed ‘Social media not a ‘must’ for SMB marketers‘ and had to laugh.

The research study the article references states that while 50% of their survey sample uses social media only 12% consider it necessary. The bizarre thing was that half of the SMBs surveyed said that word-of-mouth marketing was a key ingredient to their success. What?

Don’t these guys get the fact and make the connection that social media marketing is WOM on digital steroids!

Lots of SMBs miss out on exploiting all of the advantages (low cost communication channel etc.,) that Social Media Marketing can provide them. They’re too quick to jump into the next new shiny marketing thing and never take the time to improve their mastery of a particular communications asset such  social media.

If SMBs took the time to learn social media, put in place content marketing strategies, systems and processes, they’d reap an amazing amount of success.

Social Media isn’t a silver bullet, but it is a big bullet that more SMBs need to load more frequently into their marketing guns.

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Social Media Builds Small Biz Awareness

Nearly 40% of American small businesses use social media marketing (SMM) to build their brands – up from 10% last year and since everyone is looking to more effectively and efficiently hook up with their customers and its no surprise to me to see the growth of active brands in SMM.

Among brands using social media marketing, 39% say it has increased it’s brand exposure however 17% say their  brand has seen no benefit at all.

Why the difference? My bet is that it all comes down to strategy, execution and measurement.

Here’s how the the social media tool usage breaks down by the numbers: 27% – Facebook, 9% – LinkedIn, 8% – Twitter, 5% – Blog.

In my personal brand experience (e.g., with my own brand site and client sites) if only 5% of SMB’s in the study are using Blogs, then I’m not surprised to see their disappointment. Blogs ROCK by adding rich search engine friendly copy and help guide and customers. A Blog is a natural extension to your Website and email marketing and to not have one is a big mistake.

Blogs are a low cost platform for 1 to 1 and 1 to many conversations and discussions and they boost website traffic and help you manage your online reputation and so much more. And, I can’t think of a brand that could not benefit from having a Blog. And, a better Website! Lots of small businesses are not keeping up with putting forth a great Website presence – all of this interactive/social stuff needs to be integrated people!

You need to  remember that your customers now have their own audience and are a communication channel and the more you can improve your brand experience and customer relationships and be connected to them via social media marketing you will build bridges between you and them and their friends and family.

Sure this stuff takes time, but anything worthwhile usually does! And, the multiplier effect of this low cost communication tool (remember this stuff can help you save on advertising spending) will pay off far more than the time you invested in it if you truly ‘bring it.’

 

As people move more to mobile computer use, social media communication will skyrocket and all communication networks will be social.

We’re getting there pretty fact already – about 30% of Facebook users access their accounts via their phones now (check out Facebook Connect)!

Sources: eMarketer the American Express OPEN fall 2010 “Small Business Monitor.”

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SMBs Shun Websites – Big Mistake

In a Zoomerang survey of more than 750 small to medium sized businesses with marketing budgets less than $1,000, over a third said they use social media as part of their marketing strategy.

Here’s the breakdown of SMB social media channel usage :

Facebook – 80%
LinkedIn – 37%
Twitter – 27%

Sure, it’s smart business to explore social media channels, but neglecting to build a solid Website presence is being penny wise and pound foolish. Only about 50% of SMBs have a Website and those that do only provide a basic overview and contact information. Big mistake.

I’m sure many SMBs are running Facebook Pages for their web presence, but to be found online, you want to spread your good word on as many channels as possible. And, because of some of the search engine limitations of social media,  having a Website is a must.

With free WordPress templates and platforms such as Posterous, you can easily customize a Website and Blog so there’s no valid reason not to have one. And, the cool thing is that they easily interconnect with social media channels.

For example, all of my Website blog posts via my WordPress Website/Blog platform are reported in my Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile automatically.  And, I can connect Facebook as well.

As important, a Website is far more powerful than a Facebook page because:

  1. Not everyone is on Facebook – more people are online
  2. Facebook owns YOU and can change things anytime
  3. Facebook has SEO limitations within its 4 walls – most activity stays there not all over the Web

SMBs, if you don’t have a Website, get one…soon. You and your customers will be happy to have one.

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