social media marketing

WAY OUT WEDNESDAY: Pimp Your Biz on Periscope!

In the 50s, the popular phrase, "Way Out" meant "innovative."  impact Virtual Services loves that era, the phrase and its meaning.  That is why every Wednesday, we devote our social media communication to innovative ideas through the "Way Out Wednesday" BLOG Series.

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IMPACT Virtual Services chooses to mix in some fun for a nice balance!

That is why we are introducing you to a new weekly series of fun, funky and sometimes freaky facts pertaining to IMPACT Virtual Services and the Virtual Assistant/Virtual Executive Administrator industry.

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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.

As Facebook Constantly Evolves, Are You Keeping Up?

Facebook, how you love to constantly keep me on my toes!  Updates to my cover photo, updated formats to my timeline, how does one ever keep it all straight?  How will this affect my business page?  What’s going to happen to my logo and important company contact information?  If you are anything like me and your head is trying to grasp all of the new implementations from Facebook’s most recent updates released March 10, 2014, then worry no further.  I have done some homework and am pleased to come to the rescue.  Well… something like that!

What are some of the major updates as of 3/10/14?

  • Cover photo settings
  • Category adjustment
  • Timelines

Cover Photo: FBLet’s start with the easiest change and the one that will affect you the most!  This would be that big, bold, beautiful cover photo that is one of the first things someone views when they click on a profile.  It illustrates “this is the purpose of my life or the theme for my business.”  Cover photos can incorporate information like your logo and/or business name, or just be a stand-alone image of an everyday interest.

If you are wondering what has stayed the same and what has changed, here is what I’ve found.  The size of the photo has stayed exactly the same, but the photo positioning has been moved higher from where it originally had been.  This means that any company name or reference on your photo will need to be re-positioned closer to the bottom of your uploaded photo if you desire taking this adjustment into consideration.

Previously, you may have had your logo and company information centered over your picture, which with the new update, would now bring it higher and less likely to see without clicking on the picture itself.  Placement of logos and company info will now also need to be integrated into the area of the picture you would most like showcased.  The good news is that you are allowed to edit and reposition your photos, as you could do before.  This always helps with any final touches to your final layout.

Category: Are you an artist, a local business, some form of entertainment, or public figure?  These are just a few of the page descriptions that you can choose from when creating your page.  When you pick the correct page type for your business or fans, this actually helps your fans or clients find more out about you and exactly what they want to know about you or your business.  It also helps with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and can increase marketability with your search appearances on Google, etc.

Now take some time to look at your own page info.   Do you have the proper page type established (a few were mentioned above)?  Once you do, you can break it down further into specific categories.  If you have done this already, do the categories you’ve chosen currently emphasize the focus or brand of what your company represents, such as “websites and blogs,” etc.?

If not, the good news is that you can always update this section.  This area is also where you can write a short description of your business for others to read.  If you haven’t done so, you might as well update everything at this point.  To edit, simply click on “Update Page Info” underneath your cover photo.  Categories will be more noticeable in the new update, so you want to ensure that you have the right type of business, etc. as your selection.

Timelines: I find that the new timeline feature is actually quite handy, especially if there is something in particular that you’re searching for and you have an idea of when it occurred.  It’s now a more streamlined look where there are two columns.  The left hand side includes information about the brand or company, and the right column is the page’s timeline.  In previous versions, both columns served as the timeline and posts were staggered between the left and the right columns as users scrolled.  This update makes navigation very simplistic, especially when you know exactly what month/year that you want to visit.

It’s important to stay engaged……. As with life, social media is constantly throwing curve balls and changes.  Luckily, the developers of Facebook recognize that it’s used world-wide, by individuals of all ages.  Nothing is going to be too complicated or people would stop being so dependent on the product.  Small changes keep us engaged and eventually, we all figure out how to make something work.  When all else fails, there is always the Help section to pinpoint an answer.

I hope these tips are of assistance the next time you click on your profile and see that something doesn’t seem just right.  Rest assured, all it takes is a small tweak and you will be back to normal in no time at all.  Heck, the reality to writing this is that it’s already most likely old news, as we all know Facebook loves to throw new changes at us when we least expect them.

Speaking of which, it looks like Facebook is coming out with yet another update June 24…stay tuned!

Social Media Tools For Your New Year's Resolutions

I can hardly believe that the year has already passed us by.  It’s amazing how time goes by so quickly.  When you think about this past year in review, were you able to accomplish all of your personal goals?  Did you lose those last 10lbs from your weight-loss goals, did you save up that extra $1,000 for your spring trip to Punta Cana next year, and did you take all of the time you had promised yourself, to spend with your precious families? How about your business goals?  Were you able to grow your business all four quarters?  If you encountered down time, were you able to polish your skills and make use of that idle time or did you just sit back and enjoy the break?  A better question yet, how prepared are you now for the year to come?  How will you change up your business strategies and financial goals, or do you even need to change your strategies in 2014 to stand out with your targeted market?

Let’s talk about goals for the New Year and how social media may help to accomplish your resolutions!

If you haven’t jumped aboard the social media train, it’s never too late and I highly recommend that you start sooner than later.   Consider the following tools to enhance your New-Year-Resolutions1client base and presence within your specialty.

  • Google Plus – Build relationships on Google Plus.  This may not seem important to your business until you realize that every relationship you build can extend your reach and help you become visible.  Let’s say that you establish a relationship with another company in Florida.  You have a mutual product which you both sell.  When you build your relationship with this company in Florida, the company in Florida can then vocalize where to buy that product in Wisconsin, and add clientele that you would have never expected otherwise.  Offer great content on Google Plus and increase your search engine optimization (SEO).   Google Plus is growing everyday!  According to GlobalWebIndex, 25% of worldwide internet users are now active on Google Plus.  My point?  Get on board!
  • LinkedIn – This is a professional networking website that opens many doors and connections, but you must understand why it works.  If you use it correctly as a professional platform versus a social platform, you will obtain the best results.  Profiles on LinkedIn are hybrids of resumes, websites, blogs, and Facebook pages.  Use LinkedIn to prospect, research, and engage the quality clients or professionals which you would want to meet and would want to meet you.  Interact with future prospects and support activity within their groups.  Join new groups to learn even more about your business.  I’m amazed constantly at how much free information is out there that you can acquire about your business.
  • Facebook – What better way to advertise at a low cost, than with Facebook?   You already know how addicted people are to this tool.  Create a business page and display helpful hints, post specials that you are running on products, and best yet, be sure to add customer testimonials.  This is a way, with minimal cost, to reach out to a large audience.  The business page of Facebook also comes equipped with automated statistics.  At the end of each month, you can see how many viewers responded to your posts, how frequent the activity occurred, and your total number of viewers, just to mention a few of the stats offered.

These are just a few of the social media tools offered that can help increase your visibility and help lead to a very successful first quarter.  Of course the internet can’t perform all of the work for you, as you must be able to post your own research and information, but it can sure help!  If you are in a bind for time, there are even more simple and time saving tools such as Hootsuite or Nimble, which allow you to manage the content that is posted, for multiple websites.  If you are an ambitious person, you have endless avenues to bring attention to your business.  As with everything, it all takes hard work and continued dedication.

As the New Year quickly approaches us, I encourage you to set your goals high.  Push yourself and see where your creativity leads.  Make it your best year yet and continue to think BIG!  The sky is the limit.

Happy New Year and best of luck with your resolutions!

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?

When Will It Be Time To Go “Home?”

Who has taken the Facebook Home plunge since its grand induction into the Android device reality on April 12th?  If you’re asking yourself what exactly is Facebook Home, look no further.   It’s basically the next wave of technology to make your lock screen a giant scrolling newsfeed from your favorite social media site, Facebook.  Messages, IM chat, videos, pictures, and the latest and greatest news posts can all be found at the touch of your home screen. If you’re looking for an app on your phone to download, you won’t find it just yet.  This new technology comes in the form of a software package at this stage.  Such devices as the HTC First will be the first to come preloaded with the Facebook Home software, while others in the HTC series and later Samsung models (Samsung GALAXY S III, S4, and Note II), will have downloading capabilities from the Google Play Store.

facebook-homeSo what benefits can Home have besides just looking cool and being able to post your friends’ latest and greatest news feeds?

  • Facebook Home could become the next powerful marketing tool for companies.  The software will be able to store user information, including which applications a user opens, etc., and appeal to a specific target audience.
  • The software has the potential for great visuals to be shared, although visuals appearing from your friends and family probably aren’t the most fascinating.
  • Privacy settings will be the same as the regular Facebook app that you are now familiar with using.  Thus, if you wish to hide something, that particular information will not appear on your cover screen.
  • Programmers are updating Facebook Home at least once a month.  Things that are recognized as bugs today will soon be issues of the past.

Drawbacks can be concerning as well, and include the following:

  • One of the biggest drawbacks is that this is a newsfeed of your Facebook friends.  That usually includes a vast assortment of close and not-so-close friends and family, right?  Your only news feed options become those of viewing silly photos, self portraits, cute puppies, and occasionally something of importance, but mostly not.  Actual breaking news will not be coming through on your newsfeed, although we have seen that all “worldly” news somehow seems to break on Facebook at the same time CNN covers it.  The good news is that Facebook has recognized that the filter issue is a problem (you can’t select which updates you’d rather be seeing) and is currently working on better resolutions.  One easy piece of advice on this would be that maybe it’s time to finally delete those friends that you’ve thought really never had anything of importance to say, or just the opposite, say too much.
  • There is no screen lock for pre-installed Facebook Home, but you do have the option to disable the software to secure your privacy.
  • Limited search functions.  This means that you would have to still log into the regular Facebook application to search for a particular page/brand.
  • Not available to iPhones at this time or anytime in the near future.  This speaks for itself as it will exclude a very large target audience.
  • It’s a new service.  “New” means “change” to most of us, which leads to apprehension and negativity.  Also, with the first wave of software, there are usually bugs to still be worked out.

All in all, for those of us who have been addicted to Facebook, Facebook Home will probably be the next great thing.  It’s fun to use, it’s simple, and like everything else, if you aren’t doing it soon, you’ll be in the minority.  I do wonder how soon iPhone will join the Android race and I also wonder how soon Facebook will just go away altogether in the application world.  For now, for those of you that have it, I’d love to hear your feedback.  Do you love it, hate it, have you already disabled it?  Your feedback might help the rest of us decide just when it is time to “Go Home.”

Shopping Habits and Social Media

It is a well known fact that to remain competitive, stores must utilize social media sites for marketing and promotions for consumers to purchase new, as well as aged, products. Do you find that you are making online purchases through your favorite social media sites? To clarify, what I am asking is when you view an ad on Facebook that displays a coupon for Bath & Body Works, Starbucks, or another favorite store; do you immediately click on that ad to get the coupon? Or do you find yourself driving to the closest store to venture around and see if anything new captures your attention? Is it just as convenient to go to the store’s website for a direct purchase?

For me, I’d say that I do a combination of all. If I see an amazing deal, I wouldn’t hesitate to click on it and shop right from the link, but I also have no issues with a retail mid-afternoon getaway!

A new global study from PwC, the global consultancy, reports that last year, only 12% of consumers bought anything through social media and only 18% of those consumers active in social media made a purchase as a result of information they got via their social-media connections,” states mediapost.com.

What I find interesting about this is that we all use our favorite social media sites to follow or hear about up and coming brands. I know there have been multiple times that I have seen a new trend on Pinterest, or read through a friend’s tweet, that I immediately found myself further investigating to determine where I could directly purchase the merchandise. I’m sure I am not alone in this…or am I?

PwC claims there are three different types of shoppers that purchase from social media sites:

• Brand Lovers: These are die-hard shoppers. These shoppers frequent stores and make online purchases on a weekly basis. These people are not afraid to make direct purchases from social media sites and they do so often.

• Deal Hunters: Half of the population surveyed falls into this category. If they find an appealing offer, they click through to the store and make that special purchase. Personally, I think I can be found in this category. Who doesn’t like a good deal?

• Social Addicts: This group makes up the smallest percentage of shoppers, according to PwC. They use social media to talk about their experiences with brands. They learn from these sites which brands their friends love and will recommend. They submit questions to customer service channels and submit product feedback to the companies. Although a small percentage of social media site shoppers, they have a large influence on the online world with their frequent posts and comments.

It really just comes down to where do you personally trust to shop? Sometimes it’s just extremely convenient to buy merchandise when you’re already physically in a store and can compare prices, or better yet, compare to other stores’ merchandise pricing in general.

Yet sometimes, it’s just the most opportune to click “buy now,” right at that very moment when you see the merchandise pop up on the computer screen. I think it’s these unique personal preferences that in turn, ultimately, set the next shopping trends that we end up later reading about. If there is one thing that I am sure about, it’s that social media sites certainly influences what we buy, it’s just where we buy that is still up for debate.

Five Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Social Media is everywhere you go and try as you may, you just can’t seem to get away from it. It seems everywhere you turn there are people posting, liking, tweeting, connecting and following. With all the attention it enjoys, small business owners can start to feel pressure to conquer the social media world. And, while social media provides an excellent opportunity to reach customers, sometimes small business owners make serious mistakes that can cost them followers, likes, connections and even customers. Here are five common social media oversights for small businesses.

1. Giving Them the Hard Sell Small business owners can get into the rut of believing that if their promotion is not selling something, it is not valuable. However, in the world of social media, making content all about “The Sale” can be very detrimental. Social media is about building relationships and trust. This means interacting, teaching, asking questions and most importantly becoming a trusted resource. While there is a time and place for blatant sales pitches on social media, these should be carefully interspersed with other content that shows your personality and demonstrates your care and concern for the customer.

2. Making it All About “ME" There are two types of people with whom most people do not want to be stuck talking. One is a depressed person and the other a narcissist. What both of these people have in common is total focus on themselves, their problems, their interest and their concerns. This leaves little room to build a relationship and creates a very one-sided conversation. The same principle holds true in social media. People do not want to hear all about you…they want you to demonstrate your concern and a willingness to get to know them. Social media is about conversation – two way conversation. People want to know that their opinions, thoughts, concerns and ideas are important. They want you to ask them questions and demonstrate that they are valuable. This means that you need to take time to engage with people who post comments on your wall and recognize that sometimes it’s better to talk less and listen more.

3. Being the Life of the Social Media Party Just because you are starting to utilize social media in your marketing campaign does not mean you have to use all social media tools available. There are two things that small businesses need to consider with regard to social media. First, there is always something new and better and second, you do not have the time or budget to be in every new venue. It is better to concentrate on one or two social media sources and do those well than to be everywhere. In order to choose the most effective method for your business, consider your customer and determine the best place to reach them. Pick one or two vehicles and commit your time and energy to doing those with excellence.

4. Keeping Up With the Big Boys Being the littlest kid on the block can be difficult, however, as the smallest, it is important to remember that if you try to compete with the big kids, you could get hurt. The same is true in business. It is crucial to keep in mind that as a small business you do not have the same budget as the big guys. And, you don’t have to! Instead of trying to keep up, learn from them. See how they do things and try it on a smaller scale. You don’t need a huge budget to be effective, you just need to speak to your customer’s needs and be true to yourself.

5. Thinking Social Media is Free While you don’t have to spend money to be a part of a social media site, it would be foolish to think that this form of promotion is free. It requires time and attention to be effective – and your time is worth something. While it is one of the most cost effective ways to reach a large audience, it has a significant value and price associated with it. Factor this into your ROI to make sure you are getting the most accurate picture of the cost of your campaign.

In the end, Social media is an excellent way for small businesses to connect with their customers. But in order to have the best chance of success, it requires a plan, consistency and a willingness to listen.

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+.

Facebook’s Debut on the New York Stock Exchange

The morning of Friday, May 16th Facebook (FB) launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) to eager traders on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Things seemed to take off to a great start as the opening trade came in at $42.05 per share, an 11% gain from the debut price of $38 per share. However, despite the early jumpstart, as the day of trading progressed prices soon plummeted back to the $38 initial offering price, and closed at $38.23 (up 0.23/0.61%). Current prices are significantly less than predicted, hovering around the $27 mark as the month closes. Despite the meager performance so far since the offering, it wouldn’t be true Facebook style without setting a few records along the way. According to CNN Money, more than 80 million shares changed hands in the first 30 seconds and upon closing 576 million shares had been traded in all. This is the highest trading volume for an IPO since General Motor’s IPO in 2010 with a trading volume of around 450 million shares. In addition, at the $38 share price, Facebook was predicted to raise $16 billion, making it the largest tech IPO on record with a valuation of more than $100 billion.

In light of the recent performance by Facebook, the travel website Kayak has decided to stall their own IPO until market conditions improve. Kayak itself doesn’t directly sell travel arrangements but offers a comparison of rates from leading travel sites like Expedia and Priceline. The site is funded through advertising.

The sheer size of its net-worth won’t guarantee success for Facebook as it joins the likes of Google, Apple, and Amazon.com Inc as one of the giants shaping the future of Internet economy. Google has already begun building walls to protect itself from the ever-evolving Facebook by integrating social networking across its products to try and combat the further proliferation. Additionally, more and more start-ups are turning to the Facebook platform to launch their own products and services, while others are developing and launching parallel platforms. Both outcomes attract significant amounts of investment capital potential. Pinterest is an example of a company funded exclusively by venture capitalists and investors that see the enormous potential and profitability of Web 2.0 companies.

Aside from Facebook’s monetary assets, the company has 900 million users worldwide, many of whom spend countless hours on the site exchanging enormous amounts of personal information. This enables Facebook to hone and target its advertising to the specific interests of its users. This is believed to be a competitive advantage, and one that Google has not been able to match. Google does, however, tailor its advertising to specific Internet searches, which many skeptics believe to be more relevant and more attractive to advertisers.

What will happen with Facebook’s stock value moving forward? Your guess is as good as ours…you never can tell what’s right around the corner with all things Facebook related!

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

Pinterest – A New Social Media Channel On the Rise

Is Pinterest the right avenue for a small business? Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way consumers and businesses alike communicate, but recently a new online community is generating quite a buzz.

Pinterest is an online social community where users “pin” articles, pictures, or links to a virtual bulletin board and can be ordered into categories based on the content or theme.

Before you start a pinning frenzy, consider doing your homework. Is Pinterest the right place to increase the visibility of your business?

The Benefits:

  • Pinterest is an informal online community. This makes it a great place to relax and click through an immense amount of content from all types of users.
  • If women are your target market, you’ve come to the right place. According to AppData of the nearly 10.4 million registered Pinterest users 97% of them are female.
  • Brands can be successful on Pinterest if they feature a product with strong visual appeal and are willing to interact to promote it.
  • The Pinterest experience can be customized based upon whom you follow. If you’re all about self-promotion the likelihood of attracting and maintaining a large follower base is slim. You have to be willing to interact and connect with others.
  • A few websites have benefited from huge traffic increases from pins shared from their sites. If you position your brand wisely on the Pinterest network it can translate to large amounts of traffic being directed to your site.

The Challenges:

  • Be aware that everything posted has the potential to go viral. If it does, your business may not get credit for the image unless you have watermarked it in a way that cannot be cropped.
  • Initially all pins shared are linked to either a website or uploaded directly from a computer. As pins are shared and re-shared many of the links are lost in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not a guaranteed way to drive traffic to your site.
  • Upon signing up for Pinterest there is an option to integrate your pins with your Facebook Timeline. If you opt for this permission every item you pin will be posted to your Facebook Timeline and will be visible to your friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Not all content is family friendly, be mindful of what might show up if you have a young audience.

If you think Pinterest is something you’d like to try out for your business, here’s how to succeed:

  • Upload images that draw attention directly to your brand or item you’re promoting. Focus your viewer’s attention right where you want it.
  • Name and categorize your pinboards thoughtfully. The boards are searchable, so include SEO friendly keywords to boost traffic.
  • Follow big names. This was a proven strategy in Twitter. If you follow popular figures or other leaders in your industry they’re likely to follow you back!
  • Describe the benefits your brand can offer, not just the features.
  • Share more than just what products you’re selling. Offer tips, short stories, or innovative products from other companies.
  • Make sure that you’ve completely filled out all of your pinboards before you start following others. Make sure you’re giving them something they’ll want to follow back!
  • Pinterest is all about exploration and connecting. Follow things that interest you and you have fun sharing. That excitement will catch on and further promote your brand.
  • Allow time to log in daily to respond to comments, see what has been added, and expand your pinboards.

Happy Pinning!

Learn More About LinkedIn Company Pages

Did you know that you can take control of your LinkedIn company page and post updates, job opportunities, company thoughts, FAQs and perspectives?  If not, here are some tips to get you started.

FIRST – Create/Complete/Update your company page

You can’t get started until you have one, and it won’t help you if it is out of date.  If you are looking to enhance your page, keep in mind that you can post images, videos and rich media content to support your on page text.  You can also and build out your products and services pages.

To get started on creating your company page, login to LinkedIn, click on the Companies tab, and click Add a Company on the right hand side.

NEXT – Build a following

This can be current employees, their friends, your friends, your customers, almost anyone.  Let your employees and clients know they can follow your company on LinkedIn, just like they can on other social media outlets.  To get in the mix of other companies and individuals, follow your peers, vendors, and other companies you interact with. If you want to be more direct, send an announcement to request people follow your page and provide them a few good reasons WHY.

SIMULTANEOUSLY – Provide value-add content and interact

People and other companies are not going to follow you unless there is a strong reason to.  Engaging people through job postings or company updates is a great start, but this may not create long-term interest of  your target customers or clients.  To do that, provide them with value-add updates that can help them and/or their business. Remember, social media is about attracting customers, but to attract customers it cannot be all about you and your business.  Instead it must be about them and their needs, and how you can best fulfill them.  Keep this in mind and provide helpful and value-add content to develop yourself as a thought leader and great partner for your followers, clients, and customers (potential or existing). Remember that questions are a great way to start a discussion and engage your audience. Help facilitate interaction with your company and start conversations with your followers.

IN CONCLUSION – Monitor your efforts

There is a great analytics feature to help you monitor who is visiting your page and viewing your information. This is just a straight numbers game, but to get information on who is engaging with your page, you can see this on your company profile. Pair those two pieces of information together and you should get some great insight on your company pages’ success.

Pinterest: Get the 411

From the creators, “Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.” What does this mean exactly? How can I use it as part of my business’ social media plan? We will answer some of those questions, as well as offer tips on how to use Pinterest for your business.

Pinterest launched in 2010 and is growing rapidly. Think of Pinterest like a digital bulletin board.  A place to capture pictures, cutouts from magazines, swatches of fabrics, things you like, things you want, etc., but in a virtual format.  Maybe you found an online store you like, and you want to post that.  When you “pin” anything to your board, your followers can see it and just like Facebook and Google+, people can comment on it, re-pin it to their board, like it, and much more.  Like Facebook or YouTube, content that is pinned can go viral.

Businesses can use it as a virtual catalog. Place all of your products on your board and link them back to your website. Then post pictures of your customers using your product, or feedback you have received on your products.  If you want visitors to get to know your company as people and not just a brand, try posting things outside of your business scope, and let your followers learn more about your company and employee’s interests. Are you located in a great neighborhood, participate in community outreach, or is there something else about your company that makes it unique? Post that, and interact with others that have the same interests.

Do you have a coupon, special or deal that is running? Post it to a deal board, or reach out to individual followers or groups with that offer.

To keep your followers’ interest, an initial pin to your board is not enough.  Follow your followers’ pins, give feedback, but try to be helpful instead of promotional.  In the end, what you want is to have people follow you, and have your followers interacting with your board and/or directing users to your company by posting your products, service, etc. as theirpinterests”.

As with other social media sites, make sure you are ALWAYS linking people back to your website and your contact information.

Pinterest is not ideal for all businesses.  If you can’t put your product or service in visual form, it will be hard to locate or upload an image to tie back to your company. But even outside of selling your actual products and services, as described above, Pinterest can actually sell your company and your brand, if there is something unique or attractive that you can visually represent and attract others to.

The best way to know if it will work for you is to TRY.  Give it a month or two and see if your website traffic, orders, or client list starts to increase.

Learn more about Pinterest and sign up! - http://pinterest.com/about/