Constant Contact Makes Digital Marketing Easier for Small Biz

Ramon Ray the Smallbiztechnology.com Team

New Services Include Text-to-Join and Video Creation

Small businesses and nonprofits now have another easy tool from Constant Contact,® Inc. for adding names to their email subscriber lists. Text-to-Join allows customers and prospects to sign up for subscriber lists right from their mobile phones, enabling small organizations to capture contact info when their customers or donors are most engaged. It also creates an opportunity to offer promotions and incentives at the moment people sign up by offering coupons, discounts, or a free gift right in the confirmation text message.

“With Text-to-Join, customers and prospects can join your email list right then and there when they are most interested in continuing a relationships using their ever-handy mobile phone. It’s a real win for businesses and nonprofits looking to expand the reach of their email marketing efforts,” said Ellen Brezniak, senior vice president of product strategy. “This feature is exciting because it makes it easy to capture a contact in real-time and enable our small business customers to genuinely benefit from mobile technology.”

recent survey from Constant Contact, reports that growing their business is the number one concern of small organizations. Text-to-Join makes it fast and easy for small businesses and nonprofits to grow their organizations by using text messaging for email list sign-ups. It’s also really easy for small businesses already using Constant Contact to set up. Customers select a keyword for their business or nonprofit and are assigned a short code associated with that keyword.  A short code is a short phone number that subscribers send text messages to from their mobile phones. The keyword and short code are activated immediately and can be instantly shared with customers and donors.

To keep those new subscribers, as well as your current ones, interested in your email newsletters, you can now jazz them up with Constant Contact’s video creation wizard. Currently dubbed “Project Tartan”, the video creation feature is still in beta testing, and the company is still looking for beta testers. Access the beta at Videomail.constantcontact.com, where small businesses can have a chance to test it out and provide feedback. Testing is free to current Constant Contact customers.

Videos are often a more engaging way to communicate information. They allow small businesses to tell their story in a different way, to put a more human face on their business or organization and to build a greater connection with their email subscribers. Some small businesses may already be using videos in the form of YouTube for video marketing, but why not include them in those email newsletters? If small businesses include videos in their newsletters, there is more of a chance that people will watch the video, forward it along and are more willing to take advantage of a call to action.

A study by MarketingSherpa reported that video in an email can lift conversion rates by 50 percent and according to Forrester Research, a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. If you’re already making videos, including them in your email newsletters is just another step in the digital marketing process. If you’re not yet using videos, this is a good place to start, as you could do something simple like a greeting from the CEO, or a new product demonstration. Videos expand your content opportunities in your current marketing efforts.


Read more posts on Ramon Ray the Smallbiztechnology.com Team »

Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/constant-contact-makes-digital-marketing-easier-for-small-biz-2011-8

How to rank highly in YouTube searches

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Posted 31 August 2011 10:16am
by Marcus Tober
with 1 comment

Just as you can use traditional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to make your web pages more visible in online searches, you can optimise your videos to make them more visible on YouTube.

This is certainly a desirable goal. Research has found that video is the universal search category that is most visible in Google searches, and YouTube content was found to be most prominent when video integrations do appear on Google.

And of course, as the most important video platform and video search engine in the world, YouTube has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool. So what factors do you need to consider? 

As with traditional SEO, elements such as titles, descriptions and tags all play a role, as do the quality and volume of incoming links. YouTube also measures and evaluates user signals (such as click-through rates, bounce rates, feedback etc.) among its important ranking factors.

Titles, descriptions, tags and links

Here are my thoughts on some of the key YouTube optimisation issues when it comes to your titles, descriptions, tags and links.

Titles

It goes without saying that you should try to include the important keywords related to your subject in the title of your video (try to arrange for the most important ones to appear first if possible).

Ideally you should also include your main keywords in the filename corresponding to the title, but remember that titles are generally cut off at around 60 characters in YouTube searches.

Descriptions

When drafting your video’s description, you should try to include the main keywords more than once and also bring in additional, semantically related words (while avoiding keyword stuffing, obviously).

While it’s true that only the first 55 to 70 characters of the description are actually displayed by YouTube, you should aim to write four to five sentences (there’s evidence to suggest that even the parts that aren’t visible to the user, are still evaluated). 

Remember that external links (for example, affiliate links) can also be integrated into the description.

Tags

 You should try to assign up to 10 tags, reflecting the most relevant keywords.

Links

External links are an important factor in YouTube video optimisation. And similar rules apply here as with traditional link building.

The construction of a good link profile with thematically relevant links is crucial, with most experts agreeing that links from social media are also assessed.

User Signals

In general, YouTube wants to make videos that are relevant and engaging more visible, and it evaluates signals from visitors/users to work out which these are.

So, for example, YouTube tracks how long users have stayed watching a video and at which point they left, which is why it has been able to make click-through rates (CTR) and bounce rates an important factor for determining video rankings.  

If you’re sneaky and try to use misleading or irrelevant keywords and/or titles to attract visitors, then high bounce rates will tell YouTube to make your content less visible.

Here’s a list of some of the other important user signals that YouTube takes account of:

  • The number of times the video has been viewed (within a set time frame). The more often it’s viewed, the more prominently it will be displayed. And in an ideal scenario it will land in the YouTube’s top lists.
  • User feedback in the form of comments.
  • The number of times the video appears in user playlists.
  • The number of positive ratings the video has received.
  • The number of blogs that have posted the video (which obviously also increases video impressions).

Research with the YouTube Keyword Tool and YouTube Suggest

In a similar way to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the YouTube Keyword Tool provides the opportunity to examine search volumes for individual keywords.

Using this, you can quickly understand which keywords are suitable for optimising your video.

Keywords that have a high search volume within YouTube are also often displayed right at the top of the Universal Search integrations within the normal Google search engine rankings pages (SERPs) and therefore have a higher CTR.

Thumbnails optimisation

 A good preview image (thumbnail) increases click-through rates enormously, so it’s important to try to make YouTube select an eye catching and distinctive image from your video.

YouTube will tend to take the thumbnail image from one of three positions within your video. So after you have uploaded the video, you can use ‘Edit’ to select between one and three thumbnails to be made available by YouTube.

A rule of thumb for calculating where in your video YouTube will look to capture your thumbnail is:

  • X = Length of video in seconds.
  • Y = X divided by 4.
  • Thumbnail 1 = Y.
  • Thumbnail 2 = Y x 2.
  • Thumbnail 3 = Y x 3.

In other words you need to edit your video so that you have the optimal thumbnail in the right position.

Learn more…

Econsultancy’s Online Video Best Practice Guide covers everything you need to know about this space, covering both the creative and technical aspects of online video.

The comprehensive report includes sections on how to define your strategy, the benefits of online video, and how to measure and benchmark success. The guide includes commentary from leading industry experts, and is full of real-life examples of brands already using online video for marketing. 

Marcus Tober is CTO at Searchmetrics GmbH and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. 

Article source: http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7929-how-to-get-your-video-to-rank-highly-in-youtube-searches

PRESS DIGEST-Australian Business News


SymbolPriceChange8264.TWO2.900.00Chart for TVSARCXF.PK11.400.00Chart for ARCELORMITTAL SAB4U.BE0.000.00Chart for INFIGEN ENERGYBHP1.HM28.06+0.26Chart for BHP BILLITONBOALF.PK3.730.00Chart for BORAL LTD ORD NEW{“s” : “8264.TWO,ARCXF.PK,B4U.BE,BHP1.HM,BOALF.PK,BPS.F,BTU,CSR.L,DBK.DE,FWG.MU,MACDF.PK,SMIG.NX,TSTA.F”,”k” : “a00,a50,b00,b60,c10,g00,h00,l10,p20,t10,v00″,”o” : “”,”j” : “”}

SYDNEY, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Compiled for
Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these
stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (www.afr.com)

–Shares in BHP Billiton (Hamburg: BHP1.HMnews) worth A$48.2
million have been granted to the mining giant’s senior executive
team as part of incentive schemes, it was revealed yesterday.
Chief executive Marius Kloppers, who owns shares worth A$33.8
million based on yesterday’s closing price, is obliged by the
company to hold three times his base salary, or A$6 million, in
company shares. BHP last week posted a record US$23.6 billion
profit. Page 44.

–Infigen Energy (Berlin: B4U.BEnews) yesterday reported a net loss for the
2010-11 financial year of A$61.4 million, clawing back 18
percent on the previous year’s result. The wind energy
generator reaped A$267 million in revenue, thanks largely to its
Lake Bonney 3 and Capital wind farms in Australia, but was hit
by low electricity prices and exchange rate losses. Chief
executive Miles George said Infigen will focus on paying down
debts of A$1.25 billion. Page 44.

–Analysts yesterday warned that the Reserve Bank of
Australia may need to cut interest rates more than once to
address a slump in building activity that is hurting building
materials firms such as CSR (LSE: CSR.Lnews) and Boral (Other OTC: BOALF.PKnews) .
Development lobby group Urban Taskforce said private sector
building approvals for July were at their lowest level in 11
years. “The relatively small magnitude of 50 basis points of
easing would support only a mild recovery in approvals,” Goldman
Sachs said. Page 45.

–Beach Energy (Frankfurt: 859699news) yesterday reported a net loss of
A$97.4 million for the 2010-11 financial year due to asset
write-downs, after posting a A$33.1 million profit in 2009-10.
Reg Nelson, managing director of the mid-tier oil and gas
producer, said capital spending would increase to A$355.1
million this year from A$161.1 million as the firm focuses on
oil and shale gas in the Cooper Basin. Investment in the
project was hampered last year by severe flooding. Page 46.

THE AUSTRALIAN (www.theaustralian.news.com.au)

–Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) yesterday
announced a takeover bid for listed financial planning network
Count Financial, with the A$373 million offer receiving the
backing of Count’s board. CBA said the move was part of
strategy to increase it presence in the self-managed
superannuation fund sector, which the bank noted is growing at
around 10 percent each year. Page 21.

–Gerry Harvey, chairman of electrical and furniture
retailer Harvey Norman , yesterday warned of continuing
difficult conditions for the sector, saying, “Retailers will
have the hardest Christmas in their lives.” The company
revealed a 9 percent increase in net profit to A$252.2 million
for the year to June 30. Mr Harvey said price deflation meant
increased unit sales were not reflected in higher revenue,
saying, “We have to sell three times as many TVs (Taiwan OTC: 8264.TWOnews) to get the same
revenue.” Page 21.

–Mining (Euronext: SMIG.NXnews) services company Ausdrill (Munich: 904358news) yesterday
announced full-year results, with net profit for the year to
June rising 52 percent to A$73.3 million, while revenue rose
32.3 percent to A$834.6 million. The company’s corporate
finance manager, Jose Martins, said meeting strong demand from
the major mining companies was a significant issue, and the
company is seeking to secure sufficient workers through
increased training programs and overseas recruitment. Page 22.

–Gold mining company Kingsgate Consolidated
yesterday reported an annual net profit of A$21 million, a 71
percent reduction compared to the previous year. Gold
production for the year was down 14.7 percent to 113,134 ounces,
while output from the company’s flagship Chatree mine in
Thailand was 43 percent lower. However, the company forecast a
strong recovery in production, and expects gold production for
the current financial year of 240,000 – 260,000 ounces. Page
22.

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (www.smh.com.au)

–Analysts yesterday said the resources boom is benefiting
some while leaving other sectors struggling due to the high
dollar and poor consumer demand. Tanya Branwhite from Macquarie
Bank said the two-speed economy was typified by the diverging
fortunes of mining giant BHP Billiton and steelmaker BlueScope
Steel . “What we’re seeing are not cyclical challenges
for the economy, we’re seeing structural challenges and they’re
not going anywhere,” Deutsche Bank (Xetra: 514000news) strategist Tim Baker said.
Page B1.

–Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan is expected to address
China’s undervalued currency when he meets with officials in
Guangzhou today. Mr Swan’s criticism marks a more forthright
approach from the Government. “One of the structural reforms
that we require in the global economy, particularly from large
developing countries, is for them to boost domestic demand and
move to more market-based exchange rates,” Mr Swan told CNBC
television. Page B2.

–The board of Macarthur Coal (Other OTC: MACDF.PKnews) yesterday recommended
that shareholders accept a revised takeover offer of A$16 a
share put forward by Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTUnews) and ArcelorMittal (Other OTC: ARCXF.PKnews)
, which values the pulverised injection coal
producer at A$4.8 billion. The suitors initially offered
A$15.50 a share. “Although it remains possible that a superior
proposal might be made, none have emerged to date and there can
be no assurances that any will emerge,” the directors said.
Page B3.

–Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman
Greg Medcraft yesterday flagged a crackdown on advertisements
for financial products that rush through the fine print. The
watchdog’s draft rules on advertising standards will cover
print, television, radio, outdoor and social media ads. “We
encourage industry to strive to do more than simply meet the
minimum requirement not to be misleading and deceptive,” Mr
Medcraft said. Page B4.

THE AGE (www.theage.com.au)

–Don Stallings, chief executive of the new big-box retailer
Masters, yesterday alleged that some suppliers had refused to
sell to the chain for fear of upsetting market leader Bunnings.
“It’s a common practice, and most people know how to say the
right language so it sounds like it’s all appropriate,” Mr
Stallings said. A Bunnings spokesperson said Masters “have been
bleating on about this for more than eight months and it is
palpably untrue.” Page B1.

–Shares in Telstra (Frankfurt: 909947news) plunged 5.5 percent yesterday
to A$2.92 after the competition regulator declared it had
“serious concerns” about its plan for structural separation as
part of the national broadband network project. The Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission was not satisfied with the
telecommunications giant’s commitment to providing equivalent
pricing and access to its copper wire network to all telcos
until the optic fibre network is completed. Telstra is
understood to be open to revising the blueprint. Page B2.

–A Federal Parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of Trio
Capital yesterday questioned senior officers from the Australian
Prudential Regulation Authority about allegations they did not
promptly conduct a valuation of the fund manager. Trio failed
in 2009 after being defrauded of A$123 million. The corporate
regulator’s deputy chairman, Ross Jones, said the fraud went
undetected due to the “gross incompetence” of some of the Trio
directors. Page B5.

–A consortium comprised of architects CK Designworks and
landscape planners ERM has won a contract to design and plan
tourist facilities at a world heritage site in Nanjing, China.
The consortium will be tasked with facilitating access to the
area while preserving historic sites in the old capital. “The
major problem is that middle-class tourists are arriving in
their cars and driving all over the ancient tombs,” CK
Designworks’ Belinda Griffin explained. Page 12.

Article source: http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/PRESS-DIGEST-Australian-targetukfocus-397061002.html?x=0

Business news briefs for 8/30/11

Bank of America Corp. is selling half of its stake in China Construction Bank Corp. to raise cash and shore up its capital base. The nation’s largest bank by assets said Monday it will sell 13.1 billion shares in the Chinese bank for $8.3 billion to a group of investors it declined to name. The sale, which had been expected, will generate a gain of $3.3 billion for Bank of America. The news came four days after the Charlotte, N.C. bank got a $5 billion investment from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The bank has faced many problems stemming from its 2008 purchase of the nation’s largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp.

Workers at a Ford Motor Co. plant near Kansas City, Mo., have voted to let their union leaders call a strike against the company. United Auto Workers members at Ford’s Claycomo plant voted 3,049 to 18 in favor of authorizing a strike, local union President Jeff Wright said in an email Monday. The vote is standard procedure in contract negotiations and doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a strike. UAW President Bob King said Monday that he’s “upbeat” about the negotiations and doesn’t expect a strike. Contracts between the union and Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC expire on Sept. 14.

General Electric Co. reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that allows the company to buy most of Converteam Group SAS from Barclays Private Equity Ltd. and LBO France for $3.2 billion to add equipment that helps electricity flow to the power grid from devices such as wind turbines. The Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to block the deal, said in a press release that the settlement requires GE to sell Converteam’s Electric Machinery Holding Co. The proposed settlement requires approval by a federal judge.

The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes fell in July, further evidence that the depressed housing market remains a drag on the economy. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its index of sales agreements fell 1.3 percent in July to a reading of 89.7. A reading of 100 is considered healthy by economists. Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. The Realtors group says a growing number of buyers have cancelled contracts after appraisals showed the homes were worth less than they bid.

When New Zealand’s homegrown news agency transmits its last story Wednesday, it will mark the end of a 132-year-old institution that has helped shape the identity of the nation. The New Zealand Press Association is closing its doors Aug. 31, a victim of changing technology and media consolidation. Two Australian media empires have bought up most of New Zealand’s newspapers, and the papers in each chain share stories with each other, reducing their need for an outside news service.

Article source: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11242/1170777-28.stm?cmpid=business.xml

Kirk Uses Inbound Marketing to Increase Traffic to Websites – Release

Portsmouth NH August 18, 2011— Having a beautifully designed website with perfect graphics, links, and information is a great start to increasing your business’ online presence. But if nobody is visiting your website, having this great website is not going to do your company any good. That’s Kirk Communications (www.kirkcommunications.com) specialty, not only can Kirk help design your website, but Kirk can also help your company with inbound marketing, which is the key to driving traffic. Inbound marketing essentially means that customers are finding out about your company and coming to you. Instead of being hounded by traditional advertisements.

Inbound marketing focuses on getting customers to see the link to your website in the most places possible, therefore driving traffic to your site. By using keyword management, social network integration, Paid Per Click Campaigns, and email campaigns, Kirk makes inbound marketing become much easier.

The most important factor for increasing traffic through keywords is how highly your company ranks. An easy way to think about it: the higher you rank, the higher your traffic. Inbound marketing efforts have shown that ranking high for important keywords will make a huge difference. Most people will click on the first few links they see, if you’re one of those first few, your traffic is going to increase. Another important way that Kirk uses inbound marketing to increase traffic is making sure that your company is prevalent on popular social networks. Because the traffic on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is so high, if your company has advertisements, links, or pages on these sites it becomes easier for customers to link into your page, which drives more traffic to your site.

So whether customers are finding your company while searching on Google, reading about it on a news site, or linking to it from a social website, these strategies of inbound marketing will help increase the traffic to your site. With more traffic your website can hope to become better known and more successful.

About Kirk Communications

Kirk Communications is an inbound marketing company in New Hampshire with additional offices in Luxembourg and New Delhi, India. In addition to being an inbound marketing company, Kirk Communications is a global provider of integrated marketing solutions including social media programs, public relations, Web site design and development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay per Click (PPC) analytics and advanced 3D animation. The company shares its philosophy, based on a focused commitment to strategic and tactical corporate communications, with clients across a broad range of vertical markets including technology, financial services and healthcare. Beyond being an integrated inbound marketing company, Kirk Communications offers an extensive suite of state-of-the-art SEO and PPC analytics, that, in conjunction with innovative message development, helps its customers refine their brand, increase visibility and stay ahead of their competitors. Kirk Communications counts among its clients IDG, JungleTorch, Dorcy International, Optimize Interactive, Atlantic Plastic Surgery Center, SeaNet Technologies and Animetrics. For more information, please visit us on the web at www.kirkcommunications.com.


Article source: http://www.release-news.com/index.php/technology/191683-kirk-uses-inbound-marketing-to-increase-traffic-to-websites.html

14 Tools to Build your Personal …

Managing and growing any personal brand online can be a difficult task. For those of us looking to curate a respectable following, we simply can’t afford to miss any stops as nowadays, as our online reputation means almost everything. Luckily, there are several tools we can use online that make this process easy and, in some cases, fun.

In some case studies, personal brands that founded their online presence through small, community-based sites were then able to use the connections formed from those services in conjunction with several tools to further promote themselves on the web.

In an attempt to uncover which tools exactly have helped personal brands reach the heights that they have, we’ve curated a helpful list of services and online tools to make managing your web reputation just a bit easier.

1. Facebook Pages

While many of us are using Facebook simply as a tool to connect with old friends and perhaps long-distance relatives that we’ve been meaning to get in touch with, those of us keen on being a bit more socially “present” have tapped into Facebook’s ability to grow and manage our personal brands online are creating Fan Pages.

Pages on Facebook are a great way to introduce fans and followers to our online “presence” without adding them as actual friends or providing them with ammo against our online personalities on our much-more-personal profile pages.

Facebook Pages give brands another outlet to provide a relatable “voice” for their target audience. In this way, brands are better able to interact with their following on a more intimate or personal level that engages their fans and makes them feel more involved.

2. Twitter Profiles

We wouldn’t forget Twitter, of course. Twitter is popularly known as a real-time online communication channel that provides both live and rapid-fire feedback as well as facilitates the exchange of ideas quickly over a single platform.

Through Twitter, brands like the cast of Jersey Shore, for example, are already using the service to communicate with their target audience and even troubleshoot issues that fans and followers seem to be having with their personality. In this way, followers can feel both heard and taken care of in, again, a more intimate setting.

Public Figures are also using Twitter to represent their reach online, where their amount of followers is indicative to how loyal potential consumers are and how willing they are to participate in what a particular brand has to say. In this way, sponsors and advertisers are more likely to reach out to brands with larger followings on Twitter who understand how to engage their audience than they are to those with small Twitter followings.

3. Google+ Profiles

Though relatively new, Google Plus pages are already becoming an excellent resource for personal brands and public figures to provide a gateway to their various presences online.

Some consider the service a step above Facebook in that not only can a brand deliver meaningful and customized text content through the platform, but personalities can also link directly from their “About” sections to their officially linked brand pages elsewhere on the web.

Much like Twitter and Facebook, personal brands can use this platform to further engage their audience or network with others who have similar interests, as the platform allows users to both follow and track brands without needing to be “followed back”, while providing further privacy setting customization to limit what brands let certain “Circles” of followers see.

4. Gateway and Splash Pages

Much like Google+’s ability to link between several of a brand’s affiliated profiles online, gateway pages like About.me and Flavors.me provide a gorgeous and user-friendly interface that displays a brief blurb about your personal brand in a way that is aesthetically appealing.

Many Twitter users (like Veronica Belmont, Host of Tekzilla) are even linking their About.me splash pages directly on their profile to point towards their various personal appearances across the web. In this way, search engines can better lead users directly to the proper pages where they can find out more about your brand, while also doing a better job of eliminating would-be imposters online.

In fact, .me domains are already popular online (see our EIC’s profile, Zee.me) so it might be a good idea to snatch up yours now before it gets taken by someone else eager to profit.

5. Niche-Based Social Sites

Popular services like deviantART for creative types and ModelMayhem for models and photographers provide social platforms where personal brands can both meet and interact with like-minded users.

Whatever your profession or focus, these niche-based social sites are an easy way for you to gather alongside your target audience and market yourself to a potential following that actually cares about what you have to say. The higher concentration of those with similar interests on a niche-based social platform takes the struggle out of building bridges between content consumers and brands.

Dribbble is another “show and tell” service for creative types that provides a clean interface for users to display their work in a gallery of sorts for other artists. NaNoWriMo is the official site for National Novel Writing Month that hopes to encourage its community to participate in thirty days and nights of “literary abandon.”

6. Social Influence Analytics

Sites that claim to score your personal influence like Klout and PeerIndex are two services that measure your reach and amplification online, providing personal brands with the analytics they need to properly compensate where their attention is lacking.

For example, say your personal brand has loads of followers but is strongly lacking in actual amplified information (ie. the information that users actually want to reshare or retweet). Social influence analytics services like the above give these brands a visual representation of where they stack up against other popular users on social services, making it easier to pinpoint where they excel versus where they can stand to improve.

7. Google Alerts

Google’s Alerts beta promises to help you “monitor the web for interesting new content”. After programming the tool to keep an eye out on a certain query or keyword, Google Alerts will immediately email you to keep you abreast on the latest developments of that topic:

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

Enter the topic you wish to monitor, then click preview to see the type of results you’ll receive.

Personal brands have the option to use this service as a “vanity metric” of sorts, a way of keeping track of who is talking about the brand and what they are saying about them online. On the opposite feedback spectrum, Google Alerts users can also use the service to alert them to negative press, allowing them the opportunity to react to or handle the coverage.

A similar service is TweetDeck‘s ability to create columns on their platform based on search results for similar keywords and topics. Social Mention and HootSuite are other services that scour social networks like Twitter and Facebook for relevant comments

8. Online Forums

Forums, like niche-based social sites, are a fantastic way to build the reputation of your personal brand within small interest-driven communities online. Potential followers and fans are more likely to care, after all, if your interests lie in the same vein as their own.

By actively engaging in discussions within forums, personal brands can provide evidence of their character or sincerity when relating to a topic they take an interest in. Forum users are also the sort to utilize forum profiles or signatures to link back and forth between their various presences online, much like gateway or splash pages.

A popular interest-driven forum for, say, “Anime Art” is GaiaOnline (which is an almost entirely forum-driven community), while tech gadget lovers might head to Coolest Gadgets Forums.

9. Community Blogs

Community blogging platforms like Tumblr, Posterous and Livejournal provide a medium for personal brands to create regular and original content, while also helping them network with other users who are also creating newsworthy and unique material online.

Sites like these often spotlight blogs that are doing well in their field or excel in a specific point of interest. In some cases, the spotlighted blogs are determined based on user vote or popularity, increasing the probability that community bloggers will actively work towards improving and optimizing their content online.

Much like forums and niche-based social sites, community blogging provides a service that eventually links like-minded writers and readers together under one roof and in a single space, enabling them to “follow” and “friend” each other to keep up with their posts on a regular basis.

10. Personal Websites Blogs

Personal websites and blogs can be a combination of all of the tools listed above presented on one domain that takes the effort out of discovering more information about a brand.

On a personally hosted website or domain, bloggers, photographers, artists, models, and any other individual looking to market their brand online can display their content in a way that is appealing to their audience and without the TOS roadblocks that services like Tumblr or deviantART might limit them with.

Personal brands can display Twitter and Facebook Page feeds, link to their various community blogging platforms online, integrate a forum onto their server for their current audience to gather and form a community, and utilize RSS feeds to deliver their content regularly to their readers.

11. Google Search

Those of us familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) will often tell you that it’s important to create as many links back to our profiles across the web as possible. This helps search engines like Google Search crawl our information and create branches between our official profiles to wherever else we’ve manage to make our mark online.

Google Support lists a number of ways to use Google Search to manage our reputations online, but to save you from having to click through for yourself, we’re reiterating them for you here:

  1. Search for your name to see what pops up about you.
  2. Create an official google profile to claim your pages online.
  3. Strive to remove your unwanted content from the search results.
  4. Sign up to be notified when you appear on the Web somewhere.

In the event that you are unable to remove an ill-favored search listing from Google’s results, we recommend that you actively work to compete against it. By this, we mean targeting the keywords that bring those results to the top of the list and creating search optimized posts that rank higher.

12. Multiple Brand Management

For those of us who have more to monitor online than a single keyword, services like Trackur and Radian6 aim to help personal brands tap into the goldmine of social conversations happening online.

Viralheat, for example, “aims to be a one stop shop for understanding social media.” Big brands like Microsoft, MTV, ESPN and Ebay are using Viralheat to keep track of their competitors and stay up to date with what their audience is saying about them. If large brands are monitoring their detailed social analytics, why shouldn’t you?

Some of the packages for the above tools can be fairly expensive to use, but these services also provide smaller and less expensive options for those on a budget.

13. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social networking service where users can source their various credentials and history with an online resume. Aside from being able to construct a more accomplished reputation through this tool, personal brands can also use the platform to connect with other professionals in their industry and build relationships with those they are looking to get in touch with.

Various networking sub-groups also exist on the LinkedIn platform to help you meet professionals in your line of expertise that may have an interest in helping you grow your brand. The service encourages coworking among your professional peers by making it easy to connect with those who are looking to find your brand as well.

One of our readers, Andrew King, states, “I have found it as a good way to chat with local CEO’s. It’s nice to recognize them by face and reputation at events and it pays off in spades when they recognize me.”

14. Friends and Family

Amazingly enough, no matter how strict and finely detailed our personal brand management strategies may be, our friends and family also play a key part in our reputations online. Many of us have experienced moments where we’ve had to quickly untag ourselves from embarrassing photos posted to Facebook, or dialed up friends in a panic to have them delete a tweet that’s revealed too much.

The fact is, not everyone is as tech-savvy as many of us hope to be. Having to educate our friends on privacy issues and lecture them into respecting our Internet character is a daily battle that will continue to evolve as web culture becomes more of a societal norm.

Similarly, friends and family are also hubs for free marketing. Where our own personal network only extends so far, the networks of those we know can reach even further. Supposing you have a pleasant enough reputation with your online neighbors, they will likely be more than happy to help promote your existing content.

Of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list and we’re sure we’ve managed to leave out a few of your favorites. What brand-building tools are you using online and how are they working out for you? Weigh in below.

Article source: http://thenextweb.com/2011/08/30/14-must-haves-for-your-online-personal-brand-building-toolkit/

Managing Your Reputation In The Age Of Content Creation

Matt Polsky

Matt Polsky is the senior content manager for VA Mortgage Center.

Recent Posts

    The rise of content creation has brought on new challenges for businesses of all shapes and sizes, especially when it comes to managing one’s reputation. Reputation isn’t a single stationary object, but an equation that includes many pieces, such as being known for delivering quality products or services, showing likeability, actively engaging with customers, and the ability to offer valuable and relevant content. So where should a brand manager begin?

    Do Your Research

    Start out by generating a list of terms that your customers search for when finding information and reviews on your company. Accurately compiling these terms is best done by surveying multiple users of your products or services and cross-referencing the terms through analytics platforms such as Google Adwords.

    After compiling your list of terms, begin using keyword searches on the major search engines to see what is being said about your brand. Focus primarily on the first two pages of results. A recent study by Optify, Inc. revealed that the top three organic search results yielded 58.4 percent of clicks, while the whole second page of results averaged only 1.5 percent of clicks and the third page was rarely visited.

    Take note of any negative press and be prepared to use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to bump up positive reviews and push out the negative ones. I know you may feel that pushing bad results out of the SERPs is wrong, but in fact, Google recommends it. A statement from the official Google blog stated:

    “Instead, you can try to reduce its visibility in the search results by proactively publishing useful, positive information about yourself or your business. If you can get stuff that you want people to see to outperform the stuff you don’t want them to see, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of harm that that negative or embarrassing content can do to your reputation.”

    Get on the Review Boards

    After taking note of any bad press falling on the results pages, immediately begin repairing your image. Customers want to know they are being heard, so be sure to respond to any negative comments and focus on producing a resolution; however, there are always customers that cannot be pleased, and in this case, it is best to handle the situation respectfully and show other potential customers you are willing to work to resolve complaints. Keep in mind that not only negative comments merit a response. A simple “Thank you for your business” on a positive comment is a great way to build a brand advocate and loyal customer.

    Manage Your Social Status

    If you haven’t already, establish accounts with the major social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Social media not only draws a direct line of communication with your customer, but is now being indexed in major search engines like Google and Bing. Keep in mind, if you do not have the time or resources to keep a clear consistent message across all the social media platforms, only choose the ones that will offer you the highest ROI.

    Be sure to keep your social media sites frequently updated with relevant content; a neglected account is worse than no account at all and can lead to negative PR. However, it is important not to overcrowd your customer’s newsfeeds as well. Posting too much can anger customers and lead them to stop following your business. It is also a good idea to vary your posts with light and uplifting content that shows your human side. Customers respond better to a face and the main goal of your social media campaign should be to build engagement with your customers.

    Establishing a strong brand can take much time and work. Customers want to be an integral part of the future of your brand and respond better when they know they are dealing with an untarnished company and are being heard by the decision makers of that company.

    Matt Polsky is the Senior Content and Reputation Manager for Veterans United, providing insights learned from the nation’s leading dedicat

    Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/managing-your-reputation-in-the-age-of-content-creation-2011-8

    Contant Contact Makes Digital Marketing Easier for Small Biz

    Ramon Ray the Smallbiztechnology.com Team

    New Services Include Text-to-Join and Video Creation

    Small businesses and nonprofits now have another easy tool from Constant Contact,® Inc. for adding names to their email subscriber lists. Text-to-Join allows customers and prospects to sign up for subscriber lists right from their mobile phones, enabling small organizations to capture contact info when their customers or donors are most engaged. It also creates an opportunity to offer promotions and incentives at the moment people sign up by offering coupons, discounts, or a free gift right in the confirmation text message.

    “With Text-to-Join, customers and prospects can join your email list right then and there when they are most interested in continuing a relationships using their ever-handy mobile phone. It’s a real win for businesses and nonprofits looking to expand the reach of their email marketing efforts,” said Ellen Brezniak, senior vice president of product strategy. “This feature is exciting because it makes it easy to capture a contact in real-time and enable our small business customers to genuinely benefit from mobile technology.”

    recent survey from Constant Contact, reports that growing their business is the number one concern of small organizations. Text-to-Join makes it fast and easy for small businesses and nonprofits to grow their organizations by using text messaging for email list sign-ups. It’s also really easy for small businesses already using Constant Contact to set up. Customers select a keyword for their business or nonprofit and are assigned a short code associated with that keyword.  A short code is a short phone number that subscribers send text messages to from their mobile phones. The keyword and short code are activated immediately and can be instantly shared with customers and donors.

    To keep those new subscribers, as well as your current ones, interested in your email newsletters, you can now jazz them up with Constant Contact’s video creation wizard. Currently dubbed “Project Tartan”, the video creation feature is still in beta testing, and the company is still looking for beta testers. Access the beta at Videomail.constantcontact.com, where small businesses can have a chance to test it out and provide feedback. Testing is free to current Constant Contact customers.

    Videos are often a more engaging way to communicate information. They allow small businesses to tell their story in a different way, to put a more human face on their business or organization and to build a greater connection with their email subscribers. Some small businesses may already be using videos in the form of YouTube for video marketing, but why not include them in those email newsletters? If small businesses include videos in their newsletters, there is more of a chance that people will watch the video, forward it along and are more willing to take advantage of a call to action.

    A study by MarketingSherpa reported that video in an email can lift conversion rates by 50 percent and according to Forrester Research, a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. If you’re already making videos, including them in your email newsletters is just another step in the digital marketing process. If you’re not yet using videos, this is a good place to start, as you could do something simple like a greeting from the CEO, or a new product demonstration. Videos expand your content opportunities in your current marketing efforts.


    Read more posts on Ramon Ray the Smallbiztechnology.com Team »

    Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/contant-contact-makes-digital-marketing-easier-for-small-biz-2011-8

    Bad SEO Could Be Killing Your Corporate Blog Titles

    I remember when SEO first “hit.” I had been at an online publishing company for about a year, and while there was always some attention paid to on-page optimization, I’d hardly call what we were doing a strategy.

    It soon became clear, however, that this new focus on SEO would end up changing the way we did pretty much everything. The first shoe to drop? Titles needed to get better.

    Now for traditional publishers/editors/journalists, writing titles and headlines for content is a learned and respected skill. You take lessons on it in college and labor over writing them as a professional. A good title needs to be catchy, clever, and draw the reader in. It has to clearly convey what the article is about, but not be so descriptive that it gives away the farm. It can’t be misleading, nor can it be too long. It has to follow proper style, but also project the correct tone of the content.

    It…well, it’s just really hard to do on a consistent basis!

    Then suddenly, all that was seemingly wiped away. A good title had to be optimized, and that was it. Of course, no one actually ever said this, but that’s what many smart people concluded. The reality of search results couldn’t be overlooked (case in point). The title or headline has always been the most important factor in regards to getting people to read something, but it’s also one of the key determinants for page rank in search. If your title is poorly optimized, it’s probably not going to rank–it’s really that simple.

    But what folks (and content marketers) sometimes forget is that SEO is simply a means to an end, not the end itself. In my experience, I’ve seen the urge to over-optimize things at times out of fear that if you don’t, your content will end up like a tree falling in the forest. 

    SEO is a choice, and writing super-optimized titles designed purely for search is still a poor strategy. I’ve said it before, but we are still writing for people here, not robots. And just because a search engine might like your title, that only gets you so far. You still need real people to actually click on it, and that’s where the headline tactics of old come into play–and can help put your company’s content over the top.

    Keywords are still important, and always will be. But Google’s latest changes are all geared toward returning the best quality content, not just the best optimized. And the first step to creating content people like is enticing them to read it.

    So with all that in mind, here are a few things I tend to keep in mind when writing titles or headlines:

    • Some content can be optimized better than others. This is just a reality of publishing. Some topics have better search volumes than others, and competition varies. But don’t let the lack of that perfect long-term keyword phrase keep you from covering topics that would be of interest to your target audience.
    • Don’t force it. If you find yourself trying to fit a square-pegged keyword into a round-shaped title, just let it go. You don’t want to write something that doesn’t make sense or confuses the reader just for the sake of SEO.
    • Less can be more. I want to be descriptive, but not too descriptive. Using up to 90 characters trying to cover every point of the article in the headline is a bad practice (and poor SEO as well).
    • Stay away from using too many big words. No need to waste space on “resplendent” when a simple “cool” will do.
    • Context is everything. I always try to keep who the audience is in mind. Folks can spot a fraud a mile away, and the last thing you want is to look amateurish by posting a title that is way off base.

    Now these are hardly best practices, just general concepts I tend to abide by as an editor and content marketer. There are tons of great articles out there on writing better titles (here are several via Copyblogger) and SEOmoz has some excellent tips for keeping them SEO friendly.

    What are your tips for writing really good titles? What are some of the worst ones you’ve seen? Sound off in the comments below.

    You can find more information on content marketing and editorial practices at the OpenView Labs website. You can also follow Brendan on Twitter @BrenCournoyer and find more from the OpenView team @OpenViewVenture.

    Author Brendan Cournoyer is a Marketing Associate at OpenView Venture Partners. He is an editor, content manager and marketer interested in online publishing initiatives and social media. He is focused on using journalistic concepts and editorial content strategies to help make companies more visible in an increasingly “online” world. He joined the OpenView team in the spring of 2011 and is responsible for managing most of the firm’s online content initiatives. He was previously a senior editor for TechTarget, Inc., a publishing company focused on providing news and learning resources for IT professionals. Follow him on Twitter @brencournoyer.

    This post was republished with permission of OpenView Partners

    [Image: Flickr user golbenge]

    Article source: http://www.fastcompany.com/1777003/is-bad-seo-killing-your-corporate-blog-titles

    Morning business news

    ‘TALKING IS ONLY SOLUTION’ TO ARREARS CRISIS – With figures yesterday from the Central Bank on arrears, debt forgiveness – specifically for mortgages – is very much in the spotlight. And while just 7.2% of mortgage accounts are in arrears, the figures for restructured mortgages – at 70,000 – show the scale personal debt crisis in Ireland.

    John Bourke, now retired, was formerly a director and chief financial officer at Bank of Ireland, chairman and CEO at TSB Commercial, and chairman if Irish Life Permanent.

    Mr Bourke said debt would have to be written off by the banks in the end, because people were unable to pay it.

    He said he had never heard of a case where 100% of debt had been forgiven, but he said banks had to talk to people who were struggling to repay debt and come to a solution.

    Mr Bourke said there were two ‘huge dangers’ in trying to come up with legislation on debt forgiveness. Firstly, he said, the undeserving or less deserving would ‘clamber on the bandwagon’. Secondly, an imposed ‘artificial’ solution would delay a return to normality in the housing and banking markets.

    Speaking of his experience of a similar situation in the UK in the 1990s, he said the only way to conquer the issue was to talk to thousands of people in order to find a way to keep them in their houses. He said his bank hired 400 extra people to deal with this issue at the time.

    Mr Bourke said banks had to be proactive, as customers were often reluctant to come to banks. He added that it could take five to ten years to work through the issue.

    ***

    NEWS AND CURRENCIES – Results this morning for the first six months of the year from Paddy Power show that its underlying profit before tax was up 15% to €56.8m, with very strong performances from the group’s online and mobile operations, and in Australia and the UK.

    On the currency markets, the euro is trading at $1.45 and 88p sterling.

    Article source: http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0830/mibusiness-business.html