Vesta Digital Blog

Archive for July 2010

Thousands of companies are exploring the beneficial use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to boost their brand recognition and visibility. While these social media sites are mainly used for marketing efforts and creating “buzz,” how exactly does social media marketing efforts convert to earned revenue?

Tracking Your Social Media Efforts

According to Brian Rogal, a writer for Internet Retailer, there is a new social media tracking tool on the market. Digital River, a software company for e-commerce and consumer technology, has recently announced a new platform called SocialStream that allows a client to track promotions and announcements sent to Facebook and Twitter. Some options you have for tracking income include reports on how much traffic the social media sites generate, conversion rates, and revenue per visitor. The company has tentatively suggested they will be adding other social media sites, such as YouTube to their platform.

The cost of the platform is not available to the public as Digital River states the cost is based on negotiations with each respective client.

The tracking ability that Digital River is experimenting with, could set standards for e-commerce metrics. While social media is widely known as a great cost-effective marketing tool with an unlimited audience reach, the ability to actually track direct conversion rates gives that much more power back to the company.

Brian Walker, an analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., discussed the tracking tool with Rogal. He stated:

What Digital River has done is a bit ahead of the curve in terms of integrating this capability directly with their platform, but it may not be unique for long.

Walker discussed the idea that social media has generally been associated with a way for companies to engage with their customers online, and expand their following. However, the ability to measure the monetary effects of feedback from social media marketing, for example, hasn’t been very tangible until recently.

The Walt Disney Company has always been ahead of the game. After acquiring several companies like Marvel, ESPN, Miramax, and ABC, the Walt Disney Company expands as the king of family entertainment and branded content.

Now, Disney is embracing the social media phenomenon. Disney confirmed in a press release today, official plans to buy the social gaming company Playdom, Inc., in a deal worth approximately $763.2 million.
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Playdom has established itself as a leader in the world of social gaming. With a company value of around $345 million, Playdom leads the market in terms of integrating popular games for social media sites. Games like Social City, Sorority Life, Market Street, and Bola have allowed Playdom to engage with approximately 42 million active players each month, according to Disney’s press release.

Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, made a statement in the press release:

We see strong growth potential in bringing together Playdom’s talented team and capabilities with our great creative properties, people, and world-renowned brands like Disney, ABC, ESPN, and Marvel.

Insider Network researches the social media and gaming industry. They released a statement claiming the sales of virtual goods in social games are expected to reach $835 million this year.

Facebook even makes a significant portion of their revenue from their social gaming platform. By accessing certain applications, Facebook users are granted virtual gifts and currency. A Facebook user can buy virtual goods including anything from poker chips to virtual outfits for characters.

Facebook’s social gaming platform is rumored to generate $500 million in pure revenue.

As Disney joins the social media revolution, it is certain that other companies will soon follow suit if they haven’t already. Successful companies all over are already enhancing their global reach with social gaming software tools and social media sites.

Take a look at 10 well known companies that use Twitter several different ways. While these companies vary in size an industry, they use the social media site to their benefit. These companies are examples for other businesses out there who are exploring the potential of communication via Twitter.

IBM

IBM is setting the bar when it comes to online customer relationship management. IBM’s followers communicate and share reviews and tips about the products. Over 1,000 employees in various countries talk with each other and their customers. Through the easy networking and word of mouth marketing, IBM has been able to use Twitter as a foothold in successful social media marketing. 



Comcast

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts made some surprising statements about the companies use of Twitter. “It has changed the culture of our company,” he said. Comcast uses Twitter to engage with customers and solve customer issues. This new customer relationship management method has cut serious support costs and has certainly improved Comcast’s customer satisfaction.

Henry Ford Hospital

In 2009, Henry Ford Hospital surgeons tweeted live updates about a surgery. The hospital definitely set a trend as more doctors and patients alike are using Twitter to connect to the community during procedures. Dr. Craig Rogers, lead surgeon in the Henry Ford surgery, believes using Twitter can help people understand operations are not as terrifying as most people believe.

Starbucks

Starbucks is a leader in the social media industry. With multiple Twitter accounts and various campaigns, Starbucks uses Twitter to engage with the community and give tangibility to Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz’s regular public statement “Starbucks is more about people than coffee.”


Dell Outlet

Dell Outlet is one of the best success stories of large companies using social media to their advantage. Dell uses Twitter to tweet major discounts for Dell computers and products. The retail chain surpassed $2 million in sales in 2009.

Ford Motors

Along with many companies experiencing PR disaster, Ford Motors uses Twitter for damage control. Ford is able to see exactly what customers and fans are talking about online, and directly address problems and issues. As a result of a multitude of complaints, Scott Monty, the director of social media at Ford Motors, conducts investigations and gives accurate reports on issues communicated by fans and followers.

Sodexo

In 2009, Sodexo received an Excellence in New Communications Award from the Society for New Communications Research in the category of microblogging for its innovative use of social media and Twitter, in its recruiting efforts. Sodexo says that use of social media channels increased traffic to the Careers page on Sodexo’s website from an average of 52,000 unique visitors per month in February 2008 to 181,000 unique visitors per month in October 2009.

Home Depot

Home Depot not only uses Twitter to address customer satisfaction issues, but after Hurricane Katrina, Home Depot tweeted to all of its followers that their stores will stay open to provide emergency generators and supplies.

Carl’s Jr

Carl’s Jr is employing the use of Twitter to cut costs of traditional marketing tactics. By tweeting about new specials and ideas, while also endorsing celebrities at $10,000 per tweet, Carl’s Jr is ahead of the game when it comes to social media marketing.


Zappos

Zappos had a record low marketing budget last year, and grossed merchandise sales of over $1 billion. By using Twitter and other social media sites to engage with customers and offer specials, Zappos was able to gain a loyal following that continues to grow.

Business schools across the country are incorporating social media marketing into their curricula. According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Harvard Business School and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business have joined in with several other business schools that are adding courses on social media to their MBA course listings.

These business schools are addressing the growing demand for employees with expertise in social media marketing. At least four other schools have added courses in the past year, exploring the phenomenon and growth in social media and Internet marketing.

As social networking continues to expand, Facebook reaches 500 million users and Twitter follows with 190 million users and 65 million tweets per day. Large corporations have sought out social media experts to develop and manage social media marketing strategies. Some of these companies include Sears Holdings, Panasonic, and AT&T.

John Gallaugher, associate professor of information systems at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management says:

In the realm of technology it’s possible for us to teach our students a tool that their bosses don’t have, and they can provide that added value from day one…social media skills are the ones that can set them apart. Those are the skills that employers are looking for.

Small business and large corporations alike cannot survive in the marketplace now without a successful online presence. Companies are searching for MBA students with skills in the social media realm because social media is becoming the best way to earn brand recognition and customer loyalty, as well as engage in online conversation.

Through the use of the largest networking system in today’s technology, social media allows companies to expand their reach and take advantage of new opportunities.

Courses cover much more than just networking on Facebook and Twitter, professors are emphasizing the psychology and sociology that lies behind the social media phenomenon.

Andrew Stephen, a professor at INSEAD, The Business School for the World, says:

One of the key lessons from the whole course is that what we’re dealing with is social interactions between people and approaches companies can take to get involved in their conversations.

He says attendance in the course has more than tripled from January to May, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

If you’re not an A-list celebrity, or a top 10 brand name, you might be feeling the anxiety of unpopularity when it comes to social media attention. Twitter limits you to 140 characters which forces you to choose your tweets and keywords with discretion. So how do you choose the right words to optimize your Twitter experience?

Hashtags and Keywords

The hashtags you use on Twitter (i.e. #keyword) are paramount in gaining a viable amount of social media traffic and attention. So the decision comes down to what hashtags you use and how you use them.

Hashtags allow you to follow conversations about certain topics in real time. This tool can be a great asset in large conferences and meetings if you would like to keep up with the conversation about the topic of interest.

Why Twitter Is (Still) Awesome

Several college classrooms are now integrating Twitter to inspire conversation about course material. Students take to this method quickly, and tweets are often addressed in class, to introduce a new angle to the topic.

There are a multitude of websites out there that have great tools that enable you to track and analyze the performance of certain hashtags. One such site is called TwapperKeeper.

Why Use TwapperKeeper

TwapperKeeper is a great tool for aggregating basic stats and information on specific hashtags. By typing in a hashtag in a search, you can start an archive that collects data about the number of mentions, who is mentioning your query, and the popularity of certain hashtags. Many other sites provide a similar service, but usually with a fee.

In addition to tracking hashtags, TwapperKeeper allows you to create an archive and track keywords or usernames. You can collect data and the number of mentions for these as well. TwapperKeeper can be used for searching specifically through the archive you have personally created. You also have the option to export the data and create an instant PDF of all the tweets mentioning that particular hashtag.

If you are an active blogger, you know that it’s difficult enough to maintain concentration as you write. Not only that, but you have to pump out a new blog everyday with quality content an interesting topic. How do successful bloggers avoid falling into the “I’m just going to write this and get it over with” mental trap?

To be a productive blogger, there are certain disciplinary measure you need to take. Follow these steps and watch as your content improves, your search engine traffic increases, and you gain more readership.

Are You Addicted To Your Email?

You could be wasting valuable time by sending or receiving personal email. According to a 2009 Gallup Poll, the average employee spends over 75 minutes per day using office computers for non-business related activity. This does not include an email marketing strategy, strictly personal use.

When it comes to the block of time you designate to sit down and write your blog post, the only reason you should be checking your email is to see if you have any feedback for recent posts that you might be able to include in your new one. Save email for later.

Expound On Your Creativity

Every writer knows what it feels like to be on a creative roll. You feel like you can write forever, in fact you may feel like you can barely type fast enough to keep up with the flowing train of thoughts. If you are ever in a creative think tank, try writing a few additional articles and saving them for later.

There are always some days when you’re feeling the woes of blogger’s block, so you will be grateful to have stashed (quality) articles for days when you need a copywriting break.

Make A Schedule

Yes, we’re writers, some of us love creative chaos and write simply when an idea pops into our heads. Many bloggers have a difficult time writing as per specified schedules.

So, although this may not sound ideal, it works. Create a posting list, with a list of topics and a brief outline of how you want to discuss that topic. This will make writing on schedule without struggling for a topic so much easier.

When you are able to write blogs productively, on an interesting topic, and with quality content, you have the ability to focus more time on gaining visibility and increasing your traffic. Be sure to write with Search Engine Optimization in mind, and spend as much spare time as possible expanding your Social Media influence.

deadlineBlogging can be a great tool for online marketing as well as search engine optimization. By inspiring online conversation, or viral marketing, you have the ability to spread your audience reach and start gaining some brand recognition on the Internet.

However, time is of the essence and you probably cannot afford to spend an hour to two hours everyday writing your blog. Daily blogs need to be about 300-400 words, so it should not take up too much time.

For many writers, the actual writing isn’t the difficult part of blogging. It’s coming up with ideas and the ways to make them work together that’s the most difficult.

Here are 5 tips to help you with your ideas and write a blog in 20 minutes or less:

1. Be Inspired

No one can argue that coming up with fresh ideas everyday is difficult. If you’re struggling with inspiration, go to your local news channel site and see what has been happening lately in your field of interest. If they’re covering a controversial Facebook post, or some big-wig in your industry was sentenced to house arrest, you can find it in the news.

News is interesting and fresh. Generally if you find a news piece that interests you, it won’t be difficult to find an angle towards the event that you can use for your blog.

2. Topics Are Everywhere

Keep a notepad with you everywhere you go, in your car or purse. If a topic idea pops in your head, write it down. Having a list of topics will be helpful in that when you have a list of ideas, you can always add to them or change them. Seeing all of your ideas in one place can clear your mind and allow for creative thinking.

3. Use A Deadline

If you sit down and dedicate thirty minutes to writing your blog, without distractions, you will not only finish it, but write a quality piece. Many times bloggers get the itch to walk away from the desk for a while and come back to the piece, this can drag on the process, disrupt the flow of writing, and make it difficult to stay on topic.

4. Print It Out

I’m all for saving trees, but reading something on paper is completely different from reading things on the computer screen. On paper, you’re forced to slow down a little and you will undoubtedly recognize mistakes you may have overlooked onscreen.

5. Use Sections

If you divide your article into sections, it is not only easier for your reader to ingest your article, it makes it easier for you to write. By separating a 400 word article into three 100-word sections with a 50-word introduction and a 50-word conclusion, you’ve broken it down and made it easier to complete. Outlines, bullets, and sections are fantastic ways to crank out an article at top-speed while also staying on topic.

If these tips still don’t help you, do a search and read another blog that gives you a list of ideas to write about. Many will say “write about a color on your desk,” or something completely unhelpful, but it’s worth browsing through. It may even give you inspiration for something else.

Facebook, at 400 million users is the most popular social media marketing strategy for business use. So, exactly what is deemed appropriate or inappropriate to publish on Facebook?

The point of using Facebook for business use is to promote your company, product, or service. So are the parameters based on exactly what your service entails? Or what about advertisements and promotions that tip-toe on the fence of controversial? They certainly attract traffic, so where do you draw the line?

Facebook Offensive?

An Arizona woman shares her story:

According to ABC15.com, Ana Castillo was forced to take her profile picture down when Facebook deemed it offensive. Castillo, a model, is devoting her cause to raising awareness for breast cancer. She posed in a picture where although she is topless, a pink banner inscribed with the word “hope,” covers her chest.

Castillo was diagnosed with breast cancer at 30-years-old, a month before giving birth to her second child. After a mastectomy, a c-section, and reconstructive surgery, she is once again happy, healthy, and beautiful.

Castillo stated:

I wanted to show you can survive cancer and be beautiful, and for Facebook to attack it I think is very wrong.”

While she agreed to take the picture down, she has since posted the picture again on her Facebook page, arguing that there are far more racy pictures all across Facebook, while her’s is promoting a good cause.

Facebook Safety

By paying close attention to your privacy settings and using discretion when posting your photos, you can avoid conflicts with Facebook’s subjective judgements about the impact of your images.

Castillo is setting a precedent for organizations and businesses everywhere that use eye-catching images to promote their causes. By invoking emotional responses from viewers, you can use your images to drive traffic to your website. Breast cancer awareness organizations often use this tactic to promote their cause, there is nothing risque about it. Often, when using social media to drive traffic, you can cause conflict based on your content, so it is important to only post images you can defend if the worst happens.

If you’re a blogger, then your content is how you attract search engine visitors. So in order to get even more search engine traffic to your blog posts, you’re going to have to take a number of steps to fine tune and perfect their search engine optimization. And even if you aren’t a blogger, it isn’t hard to apply these steps to your own site.

Optimizing your content takes patience and effort. After all, you’re going to need to pay attention to the little details of your post that you usually wouldn’t even think about. If you’re prepared to take extra time during the writing of each of your posts in order to properly optimize them, great! Then we’re on the same level. If you don’t feel like taking the time to increase your search engine rankings, all right,  that’s your choice, but it’d be better if you stopped reading right now, so you can save yourself even more time.

If you’re still with me, awesome! Let’s get started with our 5-tip guide:

Write with on-page optimization in mind

While you should always be thinking about catering to your visitors with your blog post, you should also always keep in mind that the posts should be keyword-rich. However, you shouldn’t over do this, as this becomes very repetitive and uninteresting to readers. The point is that your readers want quality content, and you should give it to them, but only in a keyword-rich way so that you can benefit too, from search engine traffic.

Within your page title, be sure to focus mainly on SEO

Your page title doesn’t have to be the same as your post title. Instead, your page title should be keyword rich and should focus mainly on search engine optimization. Usually, your post title doesn’t have these qualities. A good example of an optimized page title is the title of this page: “Blog Post Search Engine Optimization”. It clearly states the most important keywords of this post while still telling the user what it’s about. Still, overdoing the optimization of your page title can really screw up your entire post in the reader’s eyes. “SEO Search Engine Optimization Tips ForSEO” is a terrible page title. If you can’t figure out why, you might want to reread this tip.

Use headings effectively

No blog reader has an attention span of more than a few seconds. Seriously. If your post title won’t attract readers, nothing will. But we’re not talking about post titles, we’re talking about headings. And we’re not focusing too much on readers, but more on search engines. Headings are the “” (1-6) HTML tags, and they could easily be used to influence your search engine rankings. In the eyes of search engines, headings have a lot more importance than regular text. That’s why it’s essential for you to optimize headings in the same way that you would optimize a page title. Take note that the h1 tag, (which shouldn’t be used more than one on ANY page) has the most importance as a heading while the h6 tag has the least.

Bold keywords

Bolding keywords is a similar scenario to making them big headings: as a blogger seeking search engine traffic, making important keywords stand out from the rest of your content is essential to your success. After all, with blog posts having so much content that may not be so focused on keywords, search engines might not know what to rank you high for. Bolding keywords and making them stand out helps solve this problem so that you can increase the search engine traffic coming to your well-written blog posts.

Categorize

It’s always been important to properly categorize each of your blog posts. But this doesn’t just help visitors find what they’re looking for. It also helps you boost the search engine rankings of your content. Ever notice that when a post backlinks to the categories it is in, they aren’t usually nofollow’ed? This doesn’t hinder your search engine rankings, it actually helps them through internal linking and link circulation. What does this mean? The more posts categorized correctly, the better overall search engine rankings of your entire blog.

If your purpose as a blogger is to increase traffic to your website in addition to providing customer feedback and information, then there are a number of steps you need to take to improve your search engine optimization.

Here are 5 tips to help you optimize your blog posts and increase your search engine rankings.

1. Use Keywords Wisely

While you should always be writing for your readers with authentic and useful content, it is also important to use specific keywords several times throughout your post to ensure your search engine rankings. Google has algorithms that rank websites based on their keywords. The keywords are judged by quality as well as frequency.

2. Use SEO-Friendly Titles

While you may be tempted to exercise your creative flexibility and title your post something clever and witty, it will undoubtedly penalize your search engine rankings. The title must be specific and catered towards search engines. By using common and quality keywords, you allow search engines to recognize your site as valuable information that fits the description of search queries.

3. Format Your Text Properly

By including keywords in your copy and your heading, you have already significantly improved your search engine optimization. There are other steps you can take, including using keyword-rich headings within your page. The headings are also analyzed by Google, and ranked. If your headings do not directly relate to your keywords, they can be overlooked and often underrated.

4. Bold Keywords

Readers who conduct Google searches often skim through bolded words. By bolding keywords and making your most important keywords stand out from the rest, your search engine traffic will almost immediately increase. They also help emphasize the key points of your post.

5. Use Categories and Tags

Categories are for larger websites that publish posts about several different topics. These can range from news, to business, to science and technology. It is important for larger sites, especially those with multiple authors, to categorize their posts so search engines have an easier time sorting information. Tags work basically like keywords that link several different posts or relevant pieces of information together. It also helps Google’s link circulation.

Now, in addition to your well-written quality post, you will have more visibility for search engines and search engine rankings. This will increase your traffic and ultimately, your conversion rate.


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