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How Will You Get Your Message Across?

Today there seems to be so many phone apps that it’s almost impossible to get them all straight. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, games in general, food networks, music channels, and the list goes on and on. I should also clarify that when I talk about apps here, I am not referencing finger food, but rather downloaded software applications for smart phones! Specifically, I’d like to focus on a discussion surrounding the messaging applications. What are considered the best and why?

I’ll begin with WhatsApp Inc. As if Facebook doesn’t own enough technology, this past February, Facebook negotiated a $19 billion takeover deal of WhatsApp Inc. (a global messaging tool). The goal of this mega deal is playing out exactly as it was set out to do, “connect 4 to 5 billion people over the next five years,” writes Parmy Olson of the Forbes staff.

One of the founders of the app, Jan Koum, just announced last month they had hit 600 million monthly active users (Forbes, Aug. 2014). The way they average the number whatsappcrunching, they are gaining almost 833,000 active users per day. This is astonishing to me! Critics also tend to scrutinize active users vs. registered users, as there is a difference. It’s a fact that many of us download apps and then never look at them past day one. Yet, these reported numbers still speak volumes for WhatsApp Inc., and they are steadily increasing.

Founded in the Silicon Valley, WhatsApp Inc. was intended to be branded as the “what’s up” messaging tool. It’s a popular tool that can cross platforms between iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, etc. This particular app is very well recognized within the European culture, and is gaining popularity here in the US. I’m not incredibly familiar with it but I’m sure it’s going to be become very trendy, very soon.

Maybe you’ve tried WhatsApp and you weren’t a fan? If that’s the case, no worries, as there are numerous other messaging applications that you can download for your own personal use.

Other popular messaging applications include:  

  • Facebook Messenger – A very easy and convenient tool for conversing with friends and family, both over wifi and cellular networks. Recent changes have made this a separate app download from Facebook itself, and focuses strictly on being a messaging tool. This app also allows for voice messages, charging data use rather than cellular minutes.
  • Skype – Skype is one of the most widely used messaging services and can be an option for any platform. You can send standard text-only messages, audio messages, and conduct video calls.
  • Google Hangouts – This app lets you link up your existing Google account and view all of your Gtalk and Google+ contacts all in one place. Video and audio are also available.   This is a fantastic tool when used in the U.S. and Canada, as these users receive zero charges (except for incurred data).
  • Line – A messaging app that is available world-wide. This app also supports video and audio, and there is a movie feature where you can video a short film and send it to your contacts.

So many options, so little time, right? I wrote this article to point out some of the best messengers available for your smart phone. Some apps are more user-friendly than others, but all share the same main features: texting ability, audio/video capability, global availability, user-friendliness, and, for the most part, free!

We’d love to hear your feedback as well! Do you find one app more efficient than another? Have you ever even heard of WhatsApp? Which of those referenced above are your favorites and why?

Technology is ever-changing and it is communication that allows us to move forward, learn, keep challenged, and remain satisfied. Whatever your choices become, get out there and have fun with them. If one option doesn’t work the best for you, always remember that you are just one click away from un-installing and moving to the next big trend.

Facebook VS Google: Which To Advertise On?

For those of us that have considered taking a risk and venturing out on our own to start our dream business, one key step we’ve needed to seriously consider is how are we going to advertise to our target audience?  Of course there are big money marketing solutions, but for most of us on a penny-pinching budget, we need something effective, yet cost efficient.  My intent for this blog will be to focus on two forms of battling advertising methods, and which of these may be the best for your new start-up business:  Facebook vs. Google.

What I am going to try to determine is whether it’s better to put your company’s future in the hands of one of the largest search engines out there, Google; or if it’s better to facebook_vs_google_robots.topstrategize with the future of one of the largest growing social media websites, Facebook.

  • Reaching the Audience: Yes, it is true that Facebook has one billion active monthly members, but surprisingly enough, the winner here is Google.  Google search engine provides results for more than one billion queries from around the world, every day, and its ads are displayed next to relevant results.  Plus, “Google ads can be displayed on thousands of partner sites, which reach upward of 92% of all internet users in the U.S.”, states author Allison Howen in Website Magazine May 2013.
  • Target Options: Google can target audiences in multiple ways: using keywords, location, time of day, and general audience interest categories.  It has the ability to display to people who have particular interests in subject matter.  Facebook has a larger ability to target audiences due to user data collected over time.  Facebook can target by location, age, gender, marital status, and interests.

For example, a home design store can target options to reach families that have recently moved, or live in a particular location, or have an interest in décor or personalizing their homes.  So, the winner for this category goes to Facebook, although Google is in a close second with the launch of its Enhanced Campaigns capabilities.

  • Potential to Convert: With Google, ads are displayed primarily based on the intent of the consumer.  This means that the consumer is usually searching for a particular product and has an immediate interest.  As a result, they make the purchase when they find the results they are seeking.  Facebook ads are based on the user’s defined interests and previous behavioral interactions.  As this is somewhat more limiting, the winner in this category belongs to Google.
  • Campaign Impact: According to May’s issue of Websitemagazine.com, Facebook ads tend to produce customers with longer average lifetime values.  Why is this?  Well, Facebook ads often lead brands to receive an increase in “likes,” which allows brands to continue marketing to these customers.  Fans then interact with the brand’s content and become more comfortable and likely to continue purchasing.  Likewise, they continue to network the brand by spreading the word to friends and family members.

Is there really a great conclusion to this debate?  Probably not! The best form of advertising seems to solely depend on the goals of the start-up.  If you are looking for an immediate outreach, then Google is the place to target a larger audience.  If you are looking for a smaller target audience that will grow over time, as the market is continuous, then Facebook could be the best solution.  If you want to be absolutely sure, and if the pocket book allows, try both forms and see where you notice the most activity.  Track, track, and track again!

Which social media site has worked best for you and your business?

What You Need To Know About Google+

Google+'s growth exceeds expectations! Google+ is expected to hit 400 million users by the end of 2012 based on an expected 625,000 new users per day.

By the end of 2011, Google+ had grown from 10 million users on July 13th, 2011 to 62 million users by December 27, 2011. In 2011, social media experts were predicting it would have more users than Twitter & LinkedIn in a year, and may even reduce the number of active Facebook users.

That is not to say all news is good news. Just because Google+ is amassing sign-ups, doesn't mean everyone is participating. Even some of the individuals with the largest network (aka Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder) have not posted or interacted through the site. It has been reported that roughly 1/3 of Google+ users have abandoned their Google+ accounts before ever posting.

So what is Google+?

Are you looking to create a personal account? JOIN Google+

Want to create a business page? Create a Google+ page

In some aspects Google+ is very similar to Facebook or LinkedIn in that you can create a profile, add connections, see what your connections are up to, instant message/video chat, receive other website feed information (similar to RSS feeds), and mark items you like with a "+1" (Google's equivalent of the Facebook "like").

What makes Google+ different is that you can organize your connections into circles. And with those circles, tailor how individuals see specific messages, posts, comments, etc. Not just turn on or off certain features to a group (like Facebook or LinkedIn) but actually post items JUST to one group and maybe post something else to a different group. The ability to TAILOR your messaging is what sets Google+ apart from the rest.

At the end of 2011, Google+ introduced pages, similar to Facebook pages, that are specifically targeted to businesses.

The +1

Think of this as the Google equivalent of Facebook's "like" button. View the introduction video.

Many applications and websites are already integrating this new type of marker, including the popular website builder WordPress.

If you are a logged in member of Google+, you can see the +1 in action by searching on Google for anything. If you like a site, click the +1 to the right of that site, and you just gave that site your public stamp of approval. You can even add a comment about why. You can easily see your own +1's under your Google+ account information in its own tab. They can be public or private, or only available to your "circle".

All of those +1s really add up. You can even add a button and tally to your website to show off your aggregate +1 recommendations.

+1 search allows you to take it one step further by customizing the search results you see depending on the recommendations posted by yourself, your friends, and your Google+ circle. Just like with Google Place Search allowing nearby businesses and websites to show up first in your search list, Google+ allows recommended (+1'd) content to show up first, as well.

What does this mean for your business?

Want to get recognized and be at the top of search lists? If your customers are recommending you through +1s, you have the advantage over other sites in your area, and will show up closer to the top of your consumers search lists.

In conclusion...

Everyone seems to agree that Google+ is here to stay and is looking to be the newest social media powerhouse. After all it IS Google!

So get on, create an account and your business page, play around and keep an eye out for upcoming articles on Google+.

Personal Online Networking

Looking for new online networking opportunities? Think about personal networking to build your professional network and web traffic.

Everyone knows Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but those are just the leaders of the social networking pack. When it comes to building connections to drive traffic, exposure and conversion, there are hundreds of options.

Social sites are consistently being added to Google's real-time search results, which is key for your activity getting picked up and brought to relevant searchers.

Many of these sites and other personal networking sites will be unfamiliar to the masses. But not for long.

It is estimated that "personal networking" generates more than 150 million unique visitors per month, 100 billion page views, and 5 billion overall visits. The time spent on these sites is also drastically climbing, with a 6% increase from March to April 2011.*

The use and definition of "personal networking" will vary from person to person and business to business based on many factors, but it is a hard category to overlook in the world of online exposure.

Here are some recommendations on sites with the highest potential: **

  • Pulse.Yahoo.com
  • Wikia.com
  • Tagged.com
  • Yuku.com

Define Your Contacts

From these statistics, it is not a leap to identify that you SHOULD create a personal networking plan, but how do you go about it? Start by identifying your network contacts and creating a process to follow to build your network.

  • Keep in mind that asking your current contacts for help, recommendations, and support is a great place to start.
  • Break your contacts into two tiers.
  • Tier-One Contacts will be your hottest and closest current, past, and present colleagues and friends. These are going to be individuals you have the closest connection to. You can even go as far as to include vendors, consultants, recruiters, bankers, venture capitalists, and others whom you have established a relationship with.
    • The goal of the Tier-One Contacts is that this will be your highest point of influence when you want to start utilizing your network. These are people who can help you make new connections, or if you are in the job market, help you find a new job.
  • Tier-Two Contacts will be your casual contacts. The people you know through a friend of a friend, or whom you have not had close relationships with. Consider realtors, developers, publishers, attorneys, accountants, investors, professional organization associates, friends of friends, and more.
    • The goal of the Tier-Two Contacts is to extend your reach. Make your network more all-inclusive so hopefully you can start to develop relationships outside your normal contact zone and create Tier-Two relationships into Tier-Ones.

Once you have defined and developed your network, use it! Do you need to drum up new business for yourself or a client? Are you looking for a new job? Are you interested in expanding your business? Then personal networking could be one of the keys to success!

References: * Compete.com ** Website Magazine

The Changing Face of Search Results: Keep Up!

Search results are changing. Here is what you need to know to keep up with the times.

  • Localize Yourself – Have you heard of Google Places? If not, you need to. Localized SEO is taking over and Google Places is at the top of the list. Not only is this a great place to identify yourself, your location, and critical information about your business for the world to find, but it is also free to use, and shows up at the top of most search results.
  • … & Get Reviews - In addition to Google Places, localized review aggregators like Yelp, Superpages, Yahoo! Local, and Trip Advisor are great places to earn credibility. Go one step further and promote yourself on sites that focus just on your locale, area of the country, or industry. Allowing your business to be found on these sites, and encouraging your customers to post to them, is a great way to get your name out there.
  • Improve Search ResultsSocial Media – We can’t say it enough. Social Media is key. Not only is it a way to get your voice out there, but sites such as Facebook and Twitter are heavily involved in search rankings.
  • Keywords: People, Not Robots – Getting to the top of search results is about making sure you can be found when PEOPLE are searching, not just the robots. Think about what your customers are typing to find you, or even ask them! Knowing how people are finding you and what they tried before finding you is key information in getting more people to get to you. When putting anything on the internet, think of the content in terms of keywords. Don’t go overboard and put it all in one place, but using your keywords in your online content is what gets found by the search engine robots, and allows people to get to you.
  • No Fake Content – Don’t try to write content for the sake of content, or duplicate content. Search engine kings like Google are smart enough to distinguish quality content from copied and pasted duplicated content.

As with everything, consistency of information is key. Ensure you are typing in the information (even down to “Blvd.” versus “Boulevard”) the same way on your website, local listings, and review sites.